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

Links 9/16: URL Of The Chaldees

500 BC: Buddha preaches a message of peace and compassion. 1411 AD: China and Sri Lanka go to war over the Buddha’s tooth.

More on confusing effects of school entry age: in Brazil, students who enter first grade later get higher test scores and are more likely to go to college

I recommend against naming ships Windoc until this phenomenon is investigated more thoroughly.

There’s been some recent buzz about Tom Wolfe’s book attacking Noam Chomsky. I can’t comment on the linguistic elements, but it has an unfortunate tendency to take its opposition to evolution’s role in human psychology/society so far that it seems to be denying evolution itself: “I think it’s misleading to say that human beings evolved from animals — actually, nobody knows whether they did or not. There are very few physical signs, aside from the general resemblance of apes and humans.” Jerry Coyne is suitably dismissive. And Nathan Robinson gets into a side debate on Chomsky’s opinion of intellectual elitists (against). On the other hand, here are some apparently sober people disagreeing with Chomsky.

Guests on the TV show Firing Line included Richard Nixon, Saul Alinsky, Noam Chomsky, B.F. Skinner, Allen Ginsberg, John Kenneth Galbraith, Jorge Luis Borges, the Dalai Lama, Jack Kerouac, and Mother Teresa. Though not all at once.

Birth certificate suggests man in Indonesia is 145 years old. Statistical common sense, not to mention the Gompertz-Makeham Law, suggest otherwise.

Professor Stuart Russell at UC Berkeley is opening the Center For Human-Compatible AI to study AI risk in a fully academic setting; they have already received a $5,555,550 grant from OpenPhil.

SETI has detected a suspicious signal from a sunlike star 95 light-years away. Signal strength is high enough that any civilization sending it would have to be well beyond humans. But how could a posthuman civilization exist 95 light-years away from us without us noticing until now? (EDIT: likely false alarm)

Hey, remember how well it worked last time the our society declared war on a commonly used recreational plant with many medical uses and few side effects? No? Well, the DEA certainly does, which is why they’ve decided to expand the drug war by making kratom a Schedule 1 substance. If you feel like doing something meaningless, there’s a petition you can sign.

In 1999 South Korea passed a law mandating that all online commerce be done on Internet Explorer, saying it was the only way to ensure consumer safety. Thank goodness for international differences in regulatory regimes; otherwise people might be tempted to take their own country’s rules seriously.

EpiPen prices have been rising gradually for years. Why did it only become a big news story recently? Quid.com investigates. Their answer: Bernie Sanders!

Activation of mu opioid receptors might trigger several different signaling cascades, raising the prospect of selective agonists that can trigger good effects (like pain relief) but not bad ones (like respiratory supression).

Dystopian ant society in nuclear bunker goes exactly as well as you would expect.

FDA orders antibacterials removed from consumer soap. I actually support this one: there’s no evidence antibacterials help with much, and there’s some concern that they can increase antibiotic resistance.

Contra a study from a couple of links posts ago, the latest replication attempt suggests democracy does not increase economic growth.

A boon doggle is a cutesy braid thing you can make with lace or rope. In 1935, the press excoriated FDR’s New Deal for spending $3 million giving unemployed people crafts lessons where they made boon doggles, and the word became a nickname for any overpriced useless government project.

There have been so many conflicting experiments and arguments about the supposedly physics-defying EMDrive that the debate will probably only get resolved once somebody launches one into space and tries it.

Why Don’t We Have Pay Toilets In America? Short answer: some college kids launched a wildly successful campaign to ban them. On the other hand, it looks like pay toilets only cost a dime, whereas it costs me $2 or $3 to buy a coffee in a cafe just so I can use the cafe’s Customer Only non-pay toilet, plus it’s a waste of coffee.

Some SSC readers ask me to inform you of e-quilibrium, an attempt to make e-cigarette fluid that mimics the chemical composition of tobacco as closely as possible (except for the part where tobacco kills you). I do not know anything about this field and can neither endorse nor specifically anti-endorse this.

You know that weird thing where no matter what happens in the real world, US economic growth keeps to a perfectly straight line on the decades-or-above timescale? There’s a field studying that, it’s called balanced growth economics, and it’s pretty much as confusing as you would expect.

GiveDirectly’s basic income experiment runs into unexpected trouble as some poor people refuse their cash grants, suspecting it might be a scam. I guess if somebody offered me a year’s salary for no reason I would probably suspect it was a scam too.

How Seattle Killed Microhousing. It’s not just San Francisco that wants to make affordable housing illegal.

I’m not really qualified to have an opinion on it, but MIRI is very excited about their most recent paper, Logical Induction, which is apparently a big step in relating inductive reasoning to mathematical proof.

Scott Aaronson suggests that people with computer skills can best fight Trump by creating vote-trading websites that allow people in safe states to vote third-party in exchange for third-party supports in swing states voting Hillary. Apparently this has been confirmed legal by the court system. See also existing vote-trading websites like makeminecount.

Explain this one: Haitian-Americans have one of the lowest crime rates in the country, well below other blacks, Latinos, and whites.

The Missing Slate: “Marginal Revolution may well be the finest blog ever; if we wanted to put a blog in the Smithsonian to show future generations what happened when smart people in our time spoke their minds, then Marginal Revolution would be my choice.”

“Most critics of neoliberalism on the left point to the dramatic reduction in the scale of government activities since the 80s – the privatisation of state-run enterprises, the increased dependence upon private contractors for delivering public services etc. Most right-wing critics lament the increasing regulatory burden faced by businesses and individuals and the preferential treatment and bailouts doled out to the politically well-connected. Neither the left nor the right is wrong. But both of them only see one side of what is the core strategy of neoliberal crony capitalism – increase the scope and reduce the scale of government intervention.”

A Genetically Informed Study Of The Association Between Harsh Punishment And Offspring Behavioral Problems: adjust for genetics, and “mild” physical punishment like spanking seems to affect children slightly at most; outright abuse seems to have very strong negative effects.

The most prestigious scientific journals may publish the worst research.

Maybe the most popular Major League Baseball promotion of all time was Disco Demolition Night, when the Chicago White Sox suggested that people who hated disco bring disco records to their game and they would destroy all of them in a big explosion. It ended in fires, rioting, accusations of racism, police intervention, a forfeited game, and possibly the decline of disco nationwide.

A two year old’s solution to the trolley problem

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854 Responses to Links 9/16: URL Of The Chaldees

  1. Addict says:

    Oh man, I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. The 2 year old’s solution… oh man.

    Highly recommend that one, guys.

    • baconbacon says:

      Tears in my eyes

    • dangerduck says:

      The twist was genius, “oh he’s saving the one…wait a minute…”

    • John Schilling says:

      The Trolley Gods are pleased with young Nicholas’s zeal, and he shall be rewarded with the gratification of his first wish after midnight on the Winter Solstice.

    • Anon says:

      I’m trying, and failing, to contain myself so my coworkers don’t stare.

    • Aapje says:

      If the kid turns out to be a serial killer, don’t say that the warning signs weren’t there.

      • Lumifer says:

        Not serial — mass. The kid’s going for efficiency :-/

      • Elephant says:

        Having kids myself, I think it’s pretty clear that little kids don’t attribute their inanimate toys with “humanity,” even if they do all sorts of make-believe activities with them. I think it’s pretty normal to run over one’s figurines, hurl them over cliffs, etc., even if one is very nice, and empathetic, with real people.
        Of course, it’s also true that some little kids are horrible.

        • arbitrary_greay says:

          Is this going to be the thread where we now detail the really horrifying things we did to our toys as kids?

          And whatever did happen to Toy Story’s Sid?

          • DrBeat says:

            He got a job at the dump and seems to be pretty happy with his life.

            (Seriously, the guy working at the dump in Toy Story 3 is supposed to be Sid.)

          • Sokka says:

            Helicopter Barbie. Stripped her down, spread her legs and spun her around by her hair, had her serve as public transit for all the other residents of the doll town. My sister loved it.

            There was also Ms. Dress-too-much, which was just the result of putting as many layers of clothing on a single Bratz doll as we could manage.

          • arbitrary_greay says:

            There’s something to be said for how Barbie seems to elicit the best/most horrifying stories. Long limbs and sturdy attachment of PANhair allows for more visceral things to be done with Barbies than with other equally sturdy but more compact toys. The relatively more human-like image of Barbie may also contribute, as the dismantling of a Rubix Cube or a robot toy don’t carry that same “kid is a budding serial killer” vibe. And as the Small Soldiers film shows, even action figures don’t carry the same level of horror, because the loss of limbs could fit in their hypothetical storylines (and they’re not usually designed to be strippable). There aren’t many Watsonian explanations for stripping and doing weird things with a Barbie that don’t come off as disturbing.

            (My sister and I stripped Barbies and repeatedly tossed them down the stairs to watch how they bounced.)

      • Deiseach says:

        He’s two. Of course he’s going for maximum kill 🙂

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      The kids are all right!

  2. Lawrence says:

    The first radio broadcast was in 1906, and the first broadcast that we think was powerful enough to leave our solar system was in 1936 (it was of Hitler, so we’re not exactly leading with our best foot forward here). So it’s possible that the aliens who are 95 light years away became aware of us in 2001, and we’ll be hearing from them circa 2096; or that they’ll become aware of us in 2031, and we’ll be hearing from them circa 2126.

    • Murphy says:

      I have vague memories of some article about running the numbers on how far you’d expect a TV signal of a certain strength to be distinguishable from background and it didn’t look good for aliens being able to pick up our hitler videos.

      • drethelin says:

        This is also extremely relevant for our own SETI efforts. Signal attenuation is significant over the light-years, and we shouldn’t expect to notice most alien radio transmissions unless they’re directly aimed at us with insanely powerful transmitters. We just don’t have sufficiently good tech on our end.

        • This.

          I’ve been trying to get a clear answer out of an astronomer: Suppose there was an exact clone of the solar system (about the same number/size/distance of planets, same technological development on their not-Earth) N light years away (and N years in the past, so we’re receiving 2016-earth data). What N gives us a 50% probability of knowing that there is (intelligent, technological) life there? What N gives us a 50% probability of knowing there’s an Earth-like planet there? (I’d love the whole distance-probability curve, in fact.)

          It’s not clear to me that the answer is more than, like, a light-year.

          • Luke Somers says:

            I don’t know about detecting technological life.

            We can’t detect an Earth clone by the radial velocity yet – we don’t have enough resolution by about a factor of 11.

            Up to a few hundred light years, we could detect Earth in a randomly-oriented twin solar system by photometry, with a 4.5% likelihood of being in position.

            If we were copy-pasted without changing the orientation and in the same plane, but they changed the phase of the orbit more than a little, then it’s 100% likely. If left the phase nearly the same, then it’s 0% for direct observation from Earth because we’d always be on the other side of the sun during the transit; but it’s 100% again for probes not based around Earth – at a Trojan point, say.

          • Titanium Dragon says:

            Depends on the observational period and the orbital plane of inclination.

            We could observe changes in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere over the course of decades, among other things, which would be indications of intelligent life.

          • “We could observe changes in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere over the course of decades, among other things, which would be indications of intelligent life.”

            There is/will be a period of maybe two centuries, probably less, during which humans are significantly increasing CO2 concentration. That’s a tiny fraction of our species history. Only if the aliens happen to be at exactly that point in their history does this work.

            And without knowing a lot about the planet in question, how confident can we be that an increase in CO2, if we do see it, is not due to some natural process?

        • Thomas Jørgensen says:

          More importantly, we can expect to have vastly more sensitive radio receivers in a relatively short while. – It is possible to use the gravitational lens of the sun to build quite insanely sensitive receivers out past pluto. We will obviously do this within the next couple of centuries barring extinction.

          This is a trick any civilization capable of building radios will almost certainly deploy within 500 years or so of discovering radio. – It is just not a very difficult thing to do.
          Which means nobody is going to bother building high-power beacons. Because, well, any communication over interstellar distances means you are communicating across timespans of centuries anyway. Why expend the full energetic output of a star to make a beacon xmypith will see in 800 years when she will certainly spot a very modest one megawatt beacon in 900 years? If you’re bothering at all, what you have to say cannot possibly be that time-sensitive.

          If aliens are doing things our current instruments can spot, that’s probably a side effect of their goals, rather than any effort to communicate on their part – their com efforts will just not be quite that loud.
          For example, I would be unsurprised if it turns out the wtf-star KIC8462852 is the result of the sunshades shielding the absurdly large telescopes of someone with a keen interest and good automation.

    • Tekhno says:

      @Murphy

      Yeah, that’s the important thing, but it never seems to come up enough in these discussions.

    • Pete says:

      The film Contact (and presumably the book as well, though I haven’t read it) used this idea of course, with the aliens sending back the images of Hitler as a form of communication.

    • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

      I thought it was the first broadcast powerful enough at a frequency that could conceivable escape the atmosphere, but the power was still super low and probably didn’t. Much less the solar system.

  3. Daniel says:

    Link about pay toilets in America gives a 404 page for me.

    • James Ting-Edwards says:

      Try this one (or via archive.is)

      • James Ting-Edwards says:

        First reaction on toilets: “you’re buying coffee to use a toilet? Why not use a public toilet instead?”. I know there’s a good answer – have been to California and noted need to buy stuff for toilet access.

        My experience suggests cities (and other places) in Australia and New Zealand provide many more public toilets than places in the USA. Also that businesses offering toilet facilities (all bars, all restaurants, most cafés) are relaxed about entry without purchase – it’s unusual to need a key rather than walking straight in.

        Are there regulatory differences? This toilet calculator requires eg a café with 2 staff and room for 20 customers to have at least 1 (accessible) toilet available.

        While on the topic, perhaps also of interest – the allegedly superior design of antipodean facilities.

        • In the U.S., gas stations occasionally have a toilet, usually accessed by an outside door, that requires a key. Most other places, including many gas stations, don’t require it.

          As a practical matter, I think I could go into a fast food restaurant, use the toilet, and leave. But I would feel as though I was unfairly taking advantage of them so would probably buy a soda or something. I think there are some restaurants where if they realized that you were using the rest room but not a customer they would object.

          • Just to clarify, gas stations usually have a toilet. Some of them require a key. Occasionally the toilet has its own door to the outside rather than having a door into the shop.

          • bluto says:

            I read somewhere that suggested that everyone buys enough fast food to easily cover their occasional bathroom needs, and we shouldn’t worry about bathroom only stops, anymore.

            I always felt funny on long road trips buying a beverage after using the bathroom, am I not just setting myself up for a future problem, here?

          • Anon says:

            In my experience with American cities the must purchase rule is primarily to keep the addicts and the homeless from camping out in the facilities. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen a manager have to come out with the master key and evict someone who’d passed out inside.

          • Kind of Anonymous says:

            Addicts and homeless people are also one reason for the dearth of public restrooms in American cities. My own city has, in the last few years, begun locking restrooms at night while shutting down some entirely so they don’t have to commit police resources to clearing out restrooms.

          • James says:

            I’d like to see an Uber or Lyft for toilets. There is a large supply of toilets in homes, but road trippers, pedestrians, and those in emergency have to beg and find a toilet somewhere.

            This would also solve the bathroom politicization here in NC.

            It’s shocking how involved the government is in commodes and public toilets.

            Let’s free the bathroom.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ James

            Don’t you mean AirBnB? I would hate to have to rip out my toilet to deliver it to one in need…

          • dndnrsn says:

            @James: The app can be called shittr.

            @Kind of Anonymous: Is there any reason to think that the US has more addicts and homeless people than Europe, or any other reason this would be more of a problem? Because presumably the same thing would happen to public washrooms in Europe, unless the pay toilets somehow do a better job of discouraging drug use and sleeping. I have not used a European pay toilet in many many years so can’t remember what it was like. It was in the Netherlands?

          • Kind of Anonymous says:

            I assume America has some combination of less functional social services and more hostile attitudes towards homeless drug addicts. That and a minor fee to enter a restroom is probably enough of a barrier to entry to filter out incidental undesirable use.

          • Cypren says:

            This is probably more in Scott’s wheelhouse — and I’d be very curious to hear what he has to say on the topic — but my understanding is that the primary reason that America has such a large problem with homeless vagrants is that it is considerably more difficult to get someone involuntarily committed into treatment than it is in most European countries. Commitment in the US requires clear and convincing evidence that a person poses an imminent threat of harm to themselves or others (following O’Connor v. Donaldson, Lessard v. Schmidt and Addington v. Texas).

            England, France, Sweden and many other countries, however, use a “need for treatment” standard. Sweden (to pick an example) uses a three-pronged test:

            1.) The patient has a serious psychiatric disorder.
            2.) The patient has an imperative need for psychiatric care.
            3.) The patient refuses such care or is deemed incapable of making a decision on the subject.

            This would cover the vast majority of the homeless I encountered when living in San Francisco, I suspect; most seemed quite clearly not rational, holding conversations with empty air and so forth.

            The laws we have in the US are a relic of a social backlash against the horrible abuses suffered by mental health patients in the early part of the 20th century. But as often happens, the pendulum swung too far the other way: we now try so hard to protect the autonomy of the mentally ill that we’ve lost sight of the fact that many of them truly aren’t capable of managing their own lives when turned loose, and leaving them free may be far crueler than confining them to a facility.

            Another problem (and one I don’t really know how to address) are people who have serious psychiatric conditions that can be remedied by medication, but who will not consistently take the medication. I’ve known several people in my lifetime who have had this problem: when properly treated, they’re fully functional members of society. But eventually something happens in their life that causes them to stop taking the pills, and they almost immediately spiral into a self-destructive cycle; once it begins, getting them back on medication is almost impossible. This can be a huge problem, because individuals like this will meet any standard of sanity when medicated, but are incapable of managing their own lives because they can’t seem to stay medicated. It’s tragic to watch, and I’m not sure if it’s a problem that a government of laws is even equipped to solve.

          • onyomi says:

            I think the differences in involuntary commitment policies is probably big, maybe the biggest factor, though I think the weather is big, too.

            Example, I’ve heard Hawai’i has such a homeless problem that they actually offered to buy people plane tickets to leave? And San Diego apparently has a very serious problem too–because you can live outside there year round and it’s not especially uncomfortable.

            Most places in Europe probably don’t fit that criterion.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            The last time I looked into it (it’s been ~8 years), Europe and the US have very similar homeless rates as a whole, but we compare individual European countries to the whole of the US.

            As you’d expect, homeless people tend to migrate from regions with unpleasant weather to regions with more pleasant weather. So pleasant European countries have extremely high homeless rates, and unpleasant countries extremely low.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Orphan Wilde

            I’m not sure if movement between countries is the reason for the disparity in homelessness (I’m taking your word for its existence). How many homeless people (in the sense of those who frequently sleep on the streets) have the resources to travel hundreds of miles? I think a more important factor is probably that Southern European countries (especially Greece) are less economically successful than Northern European ones, and (especially Greece and Italy) have more migrants and refugees.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            sweeneyrod –

            Some of the particularly inhospitable places might also have mortality-related reasons for low homelessness rates.

            But there is a heavy migration rate of the permanent homeless; hundreds of miles seems a lot more insurmountable than it is. There’s been some research of homeless migration patterns, and where permanent and temporary homelessness are distinguished, it’s not uncommon in the US for the permanent homeless people to travel North for the summer, and South for the Winter, particularly on the Eastern coast. Temporary homeless people, by contrast, tend to stay where they last owned a house.

            There’s a huge difference between temporary homelessness and permanent homelessness and they are properly treated as very different problems. Unfortunately, the two situations are very commonly conflated.

          • Cypren says:

            Incidentally, it was tickling my mind that Scott had, in fact, written about the issue of mental health and involuntary commitment in the somewhat recent past:

            http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/03/07/reverse-voxsplaining-prison-and-mental-illness/

            http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/03/31/book-review-my-brother-ron/

            (For anyone who’s interested in a much more thorough discussion of this topic.)

          • Hyzenthlay says:

            This is probably more in Scott’s wheelhouse — and I’d be very curious to hear what he has to say on the topic — but my understanding is that the primary reason that America has such a large problem with homeless vagrants is that it is considerably more difficult to get someone involuntarily committed into treatment than it is in most European countries.

            I basically agree with all his points in “Prison and Mental Illness” and “My Brother Ron.” While I don’t doubt that a significant number of the homeless are mentally ill, mass institutionalization simply isn’t an ethical solution, even if it makes things more convenient for the rest of the population. Locking people up indefinitely against their will is not the same as “treating” them, and (as he discussed in “Reflections From the Halfway Point”) committing people up for a short while doesn’t really accomplish much, overall.

            I would love to see more access to mental healthcare services in the US, but there are options aside from “put anyone troublesome in psychiatric incarceration” and “do nothing.”

        • Stuart says:

          In much of Europe you have to pay 50 cents to use toilets (Malls, public toilets). Plenty (but probably not a majority) of coffee shops and bars expect you to pay even if you bought something. My “favorite” example is being expected to pay 50 cents to use the toilet at the Berlin Philharmonic.

          • Tibor says:

            Well, if you go to Sanifair toilets in Germany, you’re charged 70 eurocents and you get a coupon for 50 cents which you can use to deduct from the price of your purchase in a place where they have Sanifair toilets. This mostly means gas stations or train stations.

            Btw, I was had no idea there were no paid public toilets in the US.

          • Devilbunny says:

            Tibor –

            Many Americans have no idea that such things exist. I explained it to someone ahead me in the line once in Italy who clearly didn’t recognize why there was a little sign that said “EUR 0.50” (yeah, US keyboard, don’t have Euro symbol and not going to cut and paste) over to the side. The lady who collected the money gave me a look of extreme gratitude.

          • bluto says:

            On a PC keyboard holding the “Alt” key and the number pad numbers 0128 in sequence will produce a Euro symbol, hopefully: €

        • Lambert says:

          Can confirm NZ has many public toilets. Very useful when you are jetlagged and drink too much coke to wake yourself up.

          Most cafes there have a sign saying that the toilets there are for customers only, but they usually say where the nearest public toilets are, and it’s rarely far.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      Public toilets (in train stations etc.) in the UK are largely free, and those in Europe usually cost 50 cents or a Euro. Toilets in the UK (including the few that you have to pay for) tend to be less pleasant than those in Europe. I’m not sure the extent to which there is a causal link, or which I prefer (whether the nicer toilets outweighs the costs of having to fiddle around for some change, and of homeless people being less able to use them (although that might be a benefit from some perspectives)).

      • Oscar Cunningham says:

        I’ve found that in UK train stations you often have to pay (maybe 20p), especially in London. This is weird because the toilets on the train are free. Similarly the stations don’t have rubbish bins (because the IRA used to plant bombs there) but the trains do. It’s very weird.

        • pku says:

          Yeah, when I was in europe and had to go I’d sneak onto a train that wasn’t scheduled to depart for a while, but it always felt a bit risky.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            Especially given that some train toilets in Europe still discharge directly onto the tracks, and not all of these have a sign warning you not to use them in stations!

        • The original Mr. X says:

          They do have bins now, or at least see-through plastic binbags attached to the walls.

    • pku says:

      Pay toilets are the worst. They’re basically offering to pay you for public urination.

  4. Alex Richard says:

    Would be useful to link to a vote trading website, e.g. https://www.makeminecount.org/

    • Alphaceph says:

      Why is Aaronson against Trump after the PC crowd personally went after Aaronson with a full on doxxing attack? Maybe Scott Aaronson hasn’t learned his lesson and still thinks feminism is “98% good”?

      • Izaak Weiss says:

        Maybe there’s more complexity to an election than what exact percentage of Feminism is good.

      • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

        As someone that is far less friendly to feminism in particular, and SJ in general, than Aaronson, I’d still vote for Clinton over Trump unless there was strong evidence for the “clever ruse” theory.

        • E. Harding says:

          In the time-honored words of the Joker “nobody panics when things go according to plan”. Here’s my suggestion: stop caring whether things are going to plan or not. Just care whether or not they’re going well, and can be improved by an alternative.

      • Kyle Strand says:

        You’re making one of my least favorite fallacies about modern public discourse: assuming absolute homogeneity among political opponents. There isn’t a “PC crowd” that is uniformly on-board with doxxing Scott Aaronson, and voting for Trump is not the only possible response to objectionable behavior by people who are against Trump.

        • Alphaceph says:

          But at the same time, the SJW people who doxxed Scott will see the defeat of Trump as a licence to do more SJW’ing.

          Trump getting into power is admittedly risky.

          • Ou Tis says:

            It’s frankly bizarre how many people on the internet seem to think that Trump vs. Clinton is some kind of proxy war with “the SJWs”. If Trump wins, social justice people will be upset, but they won’t go “OH NO AMERICA HAS REJECTED US” and recede from public space; if Clinton wins, they won’t go “yes, this ENHANCES MY POWER” and become emboldened.

          • Tekhno says:

            Sometimes it can even be the opposite, and people relax once they no longer feel threatened. On the other side of the spectrum right wing militias grew under Clinton, declined under Bush, and then grew under Obama again.

          • Finger says:

            Well, it does seem as though SJWs point to past victories as evidence that their tactics are justified.

          • Anonymous says:

            Ou Tis
            I don’t that it’s “people on the internet” in general. Just a relatively small group of people, mostly young men, that like to see themselves as superheroes locked in a battle with a powerful, pervasive, and dastardly enemy. Even if they have to make the enemy up.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            For reference, the SJWs in my country don’t like Clinton either, since she’s a perpetuation of the US’s Neoliberal Hegemonity or something like that.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Trump getting into power is admittedly risky.

            Why is it more risky than getting Clinton into power? Given her words and what happened during her tenure as Secretary of State, it seems that she poses a much greater risk of world-wide escalation of conflicts and possibly a full restart of the Cold War with Russia.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            vV_Vv
            > > Trump getting into power is admittedly risky.

            > Why is it more risky than getting Clinton into power?

            She seldom offends foreigners; and very seldom USians unintentionally.

          • caethan says:

            @vV_Vv

            Escalation of US-Russian relations is what I’m most worried about a Clinton presidency too. I get the impression that lots of people have forgotten that Russia still has thousands of nuclear weapons. I don’t think we need to be particularly solicitous of their feelings, but it’s probably also a good idea to avoid jamming thumbs in their eye on a regular basis. Stirring up anti-Russian sentiment as a means to improve her domestic position is… imprudent at best and potentially catastrophic at worst.

            Russia isn’t even particularly bad by international standards. They’re a moderately repressive authoritarian state with aims towards regional hegemony. We tolerate much worse behavior from, say, the Saudis.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            “Why is it more risky than getting Clinton into power?”

            Because when you boil it down, the only things truly restraining the power of the American president in the 21st Century is an assortment of gentile political norms and the disapproval of the president’s social peers. Trump is gleefully unbound by those restraints, while HRC is living proof of how they’re the only things that matter.

            Plus, even if you think the old Schoolhouse Rock version of American civics would hold true under a Trump administration, he would have a united government, while HRC is very unlikely to enjoy that.

          • Random Anon says:

            @Alphaceph If you’re talking about Twitter crowds taking their candidates’ victory as a mandate, Scott Aaronson may be a bit more worried about the newly emboldened anti-Semites than the SJWs. And he also may think neither of those crowds are relevant to the actual consequences of this election.

          • Anonymous says:

            But, but cultural war! Defining manichean struggle of our age!

          • Lumifer says:

            @ caethan

            They’re a moderately repressive authoritarian state with aims towards regional hegemony.

            Not quite. Russia openly annexed a large chunk of its neighbour’s territory and took away more chunks from more neighbours setting them up as nominally-independent regions, all that via military force. Remind me, who had such habits most recently?

          • vV_Vv says:

            @caethan

            Stirring up anti-Russian sentiment as a means to improve her domestic position is… imprudent at best and potentially catastrophic at worst.

            I think it’s worse than domestic propaganda. The Obama administration, starting from Clinton tenure as Secretary of State, has been instigating and funding the anti-Assad rebellion in Syria, where Assad is aligned to Russia (and this rebellion facilitated ISIS raise to power and created the current refugee crisis). Shortly after the end of Clinton’s tenure, the Obama administration has instigated the rebellion in Ukraine against the pro-Russian government, which resulted in the ongoing civil war.

            These are Cold war-era proxy wars against Russia.

            As a Western European living under the threat of Islamic terrorism, I have to say that Putin is starting to look like a better ally than the present and possibly the next occupant of the White House. Or at least, if not an ally, I’d prefer not having him as an enemy.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I trust Clinton very little, but I trust that she is selfish enough to not risk a war which could cause serious direct consequences for the US.

          • caethan says:

            @Lumifer

            With all due respect and no intended offense to the Ukrainians, I care a whole lot more about avoiding an intercontinental thermonuclear war than I do about their independence from Russia.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ caethan

            Of course. But I’m not sure that this attitude worked well historically…

          • “Trump getting into power is admittedly risky.”

            “Why is it more risky than getting Clinton into power?”

            I think there is a relevant distinction between expected outcome, in the probabilistic sense, and variance of outcome. Clinton is more or less a known quantity. We know about what she will do and, at least from my standpoint, most of it is bad.

            Trump is an unknown quantity. It’s not clear if even he knows what he will do–he at least gives the impression of being very impulsive, although that could be an act. And we don’t know what he will do because his past actions and statements leave it very unclear what his views really are.

            So even if your estimate of the expected result of Trump winning is better than of Clinton winning, the possible downside is worse. Hence more risky.

            A further relevant element, from my standpoint, is the relation between the President and Congress. Even if Clinton wins, the Republicans will probably control the House and may continue to control the Senate, which limits somewhat how much damage she can do.

            If Trump wins, his party will almost certainly control both houses and I do not trust the Republicans in congress to keep Trump from doing bad things if he wants to.

          • “the Obama administration has instigated the rebellion in Ukraine against the pro-Russian government”

            Is that clear? I didn’t follow the relevant events carefully enough to have an opinion on whether the Obama administration instigated it or only approved of it.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ vV_Vv

            the Obama administration has instigated the rebellion in Ukraine against the pro-Russian government, which resulted in the ongoing civil war.

            I don’t think this is an accurate summary of the events.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @David Friedman and @Lumifer

            Is that clear? I didn’t follow the relevant events carefully enough to have an opinion on whether the Obama administration instigated it or only approved of it.

            I don’t think this is an accurate summary of the events.

            Let’s put it this way. A rebellion in Ukraine overthrew the official government, which was pro-Russia.

            The US at very least gave political support to the rebels, I doubt that anybody would start an armed revolt that pisses off a superpower without having at least some promise of recognition and support from another superpower. Possibly the US also provided weapons, funds and intelligence, but it is impossible to tell with certainty.

            Russia responded by annexing or trying to annex the most pro-Russia regions of Ukraine (Crimea and Donetsk), which are mainly inhabited by ethnic Russians. The US condemned this and urged the EU and other countries into putting sanctions on Russia. The EU, whose economy is quite dependent on trade with Russia, tried to settle for some slap-on-the-wrist sanction, but in the end they more or less complied with the US requests.

            These events have worsened the relationship between the West and Russia, harmed the economies of both and caused a civil war that is still ongoing.

            And it is not an isolated case. The US also fosters the anti-government rebellion in Syria, overtly in this case, which resulted in the current civil war.

            It seems to me that the Obama administration pursued a deliberate strategy of fighting proxy wars to overthrow pro-Russia governments by pampering local rebels.

            Erdogan even accuses the US of having supported or at least allowed the Gulenist coup against him because he was becoming too close to Russia. I don’t know if this claim holds water or is a conspiracy theory, but I don’t find it completely implausible.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ vV_Vv

            anybody would start an armed revolt

            It wasn’t very armed. These guys won because they were stubborn and determined, not because they had more tanks or assault rifles.

            As to pissing off one superpower without bothering to get the support of another one, this is very common. An example: ISIS.

            Russia responded by annexing or trying to annex the most pro-Russia regions of Ukraine

            …and you don’t find that problematic?

            By the way, the US promised to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine giving up nuclear weapons. It did not fulfill its obligations.

            And, also by the way, do you know that the most visible sanctions, the prohibition on importing food from the EU were imposed by Russia onto EU and not vice versa? Russia can lift them any time it wants to.

            and caused a civil war that is still ongoing.

            What caused the war was little green men, aka direct military invasion of Ukraine by Russia. If Russia pulls its troops (official and unofficial) back, the “civil war” would be over in a month or less.

          • “It seems to me that the Obama administration pursued a deliberate strategy of fighting proxy wars to overthrow pro-Russia governments by pampering local rebels.”

            It seems to me that the Obama administration supported what it saw as pro-democracy rebellions against autocrats whether or not they were pro-Russian. Egypt and Libya being the obvious examples. Syria fits that pattern.

          • Obama himself would not spearhead anti-Russian actions. He came into office promising a “reset” with Russia.
            However, the contest with Russia is already lost. The EU is a disaster and has no stomach to contest Russia, even when Russia is actively annexing its neighbor’s territory.
            Over the long-term, Russia has a more viable demographic trend than all its pertinent neighbors, and the US troops are going home (US heavy forces are already gone, despite pre-deploying SOME forces in Eastern Europe a la REFORGER).

            So just give up now, there’s little more that we can do.

            The proper course of action is to fund and arm the anti-Russian elements everywhere you can find them. If the Ukrainians want to kill Russians, by all means, let them. Putin is not dumb enough to stake a full-scale war over Ukraine, because he does not have the resources to lose. The same would apply to anywhere in Central Asia.

            The same would also apply to Syria.

            Putin does a great job of securing relatively large wins at almost no cost to himself. The way to stop this is by escalating, because Putin will back down, almost 100% guaranteed.

            This doesn’t require US to escalate directly: the Russians are much hated and plenty of people are willing to kill Russians for us.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            “It seems to me that the Obama administration supported what it saw as pro-democracy rebellions against autocrats whether or not they were pro-Russian. Egypt and Libya being the obvious examples. Syria fits that pattern.”

            Yanukovych wasn’t an autocrat except under the broadest and least useful of definitions. He was elected in a well-observed election, and there was no indication that he wouldn’t have been able to be removed through normal means.

          • Montfort says:

            there was no indication that he wouldn’t have been able to be removed through normal means

            I can’t imagine where the west got that idea.

            I’m not even saying all of those things are necessarily right, just that they’re credible enough for American politicians to perceive Yanukovych as a budding autocrat.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I agree there are much more important issues in this election than SJW vs. anti-SJW. But I also think that a Trump win would be long-term good for the SJ movement and bad for people who oppose it.

          Trump is sort of a social justice straw man come to life. His very existence makes him a natural symbol for the anti-SJ movement, which in turns destroys the movement’s credibility among people who realize Trump himself is not credible. If he wins, then he remains publicly prominent, everybody who doesn’t want to look complicit or similar to him has to signal opposition to Trump as strongly as possible, and they’re going to do it by going social justice even more heavily than they are already. It will absolutely cement the “stupid hateful white people versus beautiful colorful diverse coalition of the future” narrative in place, and every time Trump makes a misstep (which I expect to be constant), the social justice movement will pretty accurately be able to declare “WE TOLD YOU SO”. Also, the biggest hope for the anti-SJ movement, which is the gradual divergence of neoliberals and far-lefties, will reverse as they both unite in anti-Trump hatred.

          If Hillary is elected, then when she turns out to be a boring neoliberal, everyone will make fun of the Having A Woman President Changes Everything crowd, the far-left and the neoliberals will continue their gradual divergence in a way that might be exploitable, and we can keep working on the surprisingly hard problem of building a non-terrible anti-SJ movement.

          • DrBeat says:

            I don’t think either of them is bad for the SJ movement. Trump will galvanize them, and Hillary will also galvanize them.

            You say that if Hillary is a boring neoliberal that means we get to make fun of the Having A Woman President Changes Everything crowd — this only is true if we are able to or permitted to remember things the SJ crowd said (as a population, we are neither) and are permitted to hold said crowd responsible for things they say and do (we are not). Social Justice getting its demands met and having them not accomplish anything just makes Social Justice more powerful and gives them more ability to get their demands met, because the failure of the things they demanded is proof their demands should be met more.

            The Social Justice movement was not ascendant under a white Republican president, and was ascendant under a black Democratic president. They gain more power when the people in power are favorable to them, because it is proof that their demands must be met. They just also gain power when things that are upsetting to them happen, because the fact they are upset is ALSO proof their demands must be met.

            It is an entirely hopeless, no-win situation.

          • Jaskologist says:

            If your last paragraph were the case, why didn’t it happen to the Having A Black President Changes Everything crowd? I would argue that the lack of the promised change is one of the major motivators behind SJ.

          • Zombielicious says:

            You guys realize that not everything that happens in the world is determined by the U.S. President, right? Correlation, causation, etc.

          • Alphaceph says:

            @Scott: It might be hard to challenge the SJW movement without rousing the working class 40-year old white male truck driver type.

            But I take the following point as extremely valid:

            > Trump is sort of a social justice straw man come to life.
            > every time Trump makes a misstep (which I expect to be constant), the social justice movement will pretty accurately be able to declare “WE TOLD YOU SO”.

            So, to defeat SJWs, we need to bury Donald Trump as quickly as possible and hope that the next round of right-wing politicians include someone who supports genuine fairness over SJWíng, without being a bit of a lunatic.

            > hope for the anti-SJW movement, which is the gradual divergence of neoliberals and far-lefties,

            The problem is that social justice has a lockdown on the debate with their radioactive shaming language. No-one respectable can challenge them because no-one respectable can survive the reputational damage of being “called out” as a racist and a sexist and a transphobe or whatever. In the UK at least, we have seen political correctness increasing in power and having an ever tighter stranglehold over respectable people and institutions.

            Memetically, there needs to be a way to fight back against this. Donald Trump’s fightback is to just double down and say “f$%k you!”, and it works. It has the downside of attracting the wrong kind of people though – the kind of people who, rather than wanting a fair, meritocratic society that acknowledges human biodiversity and works around it rather than against it, instead want to beat their wives and lynch people of color.

            Just doing what people already do doesn’t work – people get shamed into silence and SJWs gradually take over all of the organs of society. That the current situation is so broken may go a long way to explaining why Donald Trump and 4chan memes are popular in the political mainstream.

          • vV_Vv says:

            If Hillary is elected, then when she turns out to be a boring neoliberal, everyone will make fun of the Having A Woman President Changes Everything crowd

            Just like everyone is making fun of Having A Black President Changes Everything crowd?

            Hillary is basically Obama 2.0, with more ovaries an less melanin (and more cronyism).

            Given than SJWs/BLMs/etc. proliferated under Obama, what makes you think that they would not proliferate even more under Clinton?

            If anything, they will feel much stronger, since they will believe that it is impossible to elect a politician outside their bubble.

            You don’t defeat the SJWs by making concessions to them, you defeat them by telling them to fuck themselves. Electing Trump is a way of doing it.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Hillary winning would be a big win for the SJ crowd, at least up until the point she inevitably betrays them. She’d use them as her enforcers, the way she did against the “Berniebros”. Anyone who opposed her would find themselves the target of an SJW attack.

            Trump winning would mean Trump IS credible. Elections have consequences. It probably will cement, in their mind, the “stupid hateful white people versus beautiful colorful diverse coalition of the future”, but that’s going to happen anyway. And their historical determinism loses a LOT of its shine with a Trump win (and gains a lot with a Hillary win) Being as I’m stuck on the “hateful white people” side, I’d rather that side be ascendant.

          • TheWorst says:

            …and we can keep working on the surprisingly hard problem of building a non-terrible anti-SJ movement.

            Is there an option to build a non-terrible pro-SJ movement? I’m not sure if it’s any easier, sadly. Or, to be honest, if there’s really a difference.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @TheWorst

            I don’t think it’s possible to build a non-terrible pro-SJ movement. But building a non-terrible movement of any sort requires first of all the defeat of the terrible SJ movement.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Or you could take the cue that all these “movements” are terrible and finding yourself a part of one is a sign you seriously need to reflect on your life and the choices you’ve made.

            It’s hilarious that the media keeps talking about this election as a “referendum on the policies of the Obama administration,” while the populist internet treats it as a referendum on various bloggers and twitter users and how mean they’ve all been to each other.

          • TheWorst says:

            @TheNybbler:

            I disagree. Creating a non-terrible pro-SJ movement has been done before; it was called liberalism, or the Enlightenment. It’s largely died out, but we know it can exist; I live in a country in large part created by that movement.

            But whether the conditions exist to create it again here, and now, I don’t know.

          • Jaskologist says:

            The conditions under which classical liberalism arose were created by rival ideologies beating on each other constantly with neither gaining much ground. If you want classical liberalism back, it may be necessary to go through another 30-years war first, which would indeed involve anti-SJ being as bad to SJ as vice versa, to show that defecting carries a price that is too high to risk.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @TheWorst:

            The Enlightenment was not Social Justice. There was an earlier movement which called itself Social Justice (and even had Warriors), but the current Social Justice movement isn’t very similar to it. Current Social Justice is often explicitly anti-Enlightenment.

            You could certainly have a non-terrible movement which called itself Social Justice, but it would share almost nothing with the current movement.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Scott –

            I don’t think it matters, vis a vis the cracking of the political parties, who wins. I think both parties have fundamental fractures, and they’re both going to reorganize in a serious way.

            If Trump wins, the Sanders supporters will see this as a vindication of their issues with the Democratic elite. If Hillary wins, the Sanders supporters will see the resulting policies as vindication of their issues with the Democratic elite. In either case the far left is disenchanted with the Democratic party as a vehicle for change.

            On the Republican side, if Hillary wins, the anti-Trump crowd will see this as a vindication of their issues with the Republican base. If Trump wins, they will see the resulting policies as vindication of their issues with the Republican base. In either case the moderate right is disenchanted. Meanwhile, the pro-Trump side will be further energized if Hillary wins, whereas the wind will be taken out of their sails if he wins. (Bonus, the Right and Left will be briefly united in their interest in limiting the power of the executive branch if he wins.)

            Either way, I vaguely expect a third party candidate to win in 2024, with a mild but not strong expectation that control of the presidency will flip in 2020. (That will depend on how well the economy is doing. My expectation there is “Not well.”)

          • TheWorst says:

            @TheNybbler:

            The Enlightenment was not Social Justice.

            I’ll accept the Enlightenment as an example of a non-terrible pro-SJ movement. If “non-terrible” and “pro-SJ” seem diametrically opposed for you, I suspect you aren’t looking closely enough–specifically, that your definition of “SJ” is too narrow, and is instead based solely on the terrible kind.

            @Jaskologist: So you see the problem…

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            The conditions under which classical liberalism arose were created by rival ideologies beating on each other constantly with neither gaining much ground. If you want classical liberalism back, it may be necessary to go through another 30-years war first, which would indeed involve anti-SJ being as bad to SJ as vice versa, to show that defecting carries a price that is too high to risk.

            I mean, isn’t that what we have going on now? Only it’s a “culture war” or whatever. The occasional casualty nonwithstanding, never have we been as free from both conservatives and progressives.

          • How are you using “neoliberal”? I’ve mostly seen it used as a negative label with not very clear meaning. It’s not clear to me if the “liberal” part refers to modern American liberalism or to classical liberalism.

          • pku says:

            @Scott
            Dammit, you’re doing that “saying what I was thinking, but more eloquently” thing again.

          • dsotm says:

            ‘A non-terrible anti-SJ movement’ ? – come on, you’re better than that

            Not only does that definition implicitly concedes that the batshit mob-entitlement and fractal identity politics somehow represent social justice but your movement is now defined in opposition to it, that is the very thing that makes the natural supporters of such a movement terrible – it reads as reactionarism (not a good thing, neo or otherwise) much more than it does as classical liberalism or the enlightment.

      • Sly says:

        Your inability to think of reasons why someone would be against Trump says more about your failing of the ideological Turing test than anything else.

        • Alphaceph says:

          If I had to pass an ideological Turing test as Scott Aaronson, I’d have two arguments:

          1. Third wave feminism, BLM, social justice, support for open borders immigration etc are fundamentally the right ideology, the whole doxxing thing was just an unfortunate misunderstanding.

          2. Modern social justice maybe has gone a bit far, but only a bit. Hillary will pay lip service to third wave feminism, maybe lynch a few innocent male students with bogus ‘campus rape’ laws, but overall she’s in what we should regard as the centre on these issues. Trump is wrong by being too extreme even on this issue, as well as being wrong on everything else (in a dangerous way too).

          • What Scott A actually wrote about SJW’s was a good deal stronger than that. And he saw how the reaction against SJW’s helped explain some people’s support for Trump.

            But he offered a long list of reasons why Trump shouldn’t be president. None of which was “because he’s a racist.”

          • Alphaceph says:

            @David:

            From Scott Aaronson’s blog:
            http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2777

            “if even a nerdy academic in Cambridge, MA, who’s supported gay rights and environmentalism and Democrats his whole life, is capable of feeling a twinge of vicarious satisfaction when Trump thumbs his nose at the social-justice bullies”

            “the bullying wing of the social-justice left bears at least some minor, indirect responsibility for the rise of Trump. If you demonstrate enough times that even people who are trying to be decent will still get fired, jeered at, and publicly shamed over the tiniest ideological misstep, then eventually some of those who you’ve frightened might turn toward a demagogue who’s incapable of shame.”

            So he believes that Trump is right to challenge SJWs, but he thinks the risks of a Trump presidency are too high.

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            This is how batshit insane university SJWs go over someone wearing a hat. Encouraging and publicizing this kind of madness is how we’ve come so far in turning public opinion against them.
            Every time someone stands up to them, they make themselves look worse and become more marginalized.

            Letting them quietly run/ruin the universities without a fight is why they got so powerful in the first place. Giving them another 8 years of that under Hillary would cement their stranglehold over public debate to the point that nobody would ever be able to challenge them.

            And you don’t even get to say “at least nobody will call us racist and try to get us fired!”, because they’ll do that anyway, just because of what you are.

            not only Stein but also Johnson are helping Trump, by splitting up that part of the American vote that’s not driven by racial resentment.

            So OtherScott went full screeching-at-racist-frogs. The left will give him what he deserves if he helps them win. Sad.

          • Deiseach says:

            I don’t know The Other Scott so I have no axe to grind against him, but goodness gracious me, that vote-swapping post had me sighing and shaking my head.

            Okay, he was 19 when Bush got elected, it’s to be expected he had the usual earnest involved 19 year old’s view of things. But if you have spent all your ammunition on “This guy is a malignant doofus who would be a disaster for the USA and the world”, then what are you going to say about Trump? “He’s an even more malignant doofus who would be an even bigger disaster”? This is the whole point about ratcheting up the condemnation of Other Side’s Guy – it gets to the point where you’ve cried “wolf” so often, even if a real wolf does come down from the hills, no-one is going to worry too much about it.

            (2) Does anyone think President Gore would have presided over a happy land of “no war in Iraq, no financial meltdown in 2008”? Whatever about the financial crisis – and I think some kind of bubble would have formed and burst, because the good times cannot keep rolling forever, a lesson my own country ignored to its cost – given 9/11 and the shock to the system of America it caused, and given that President Obama was quite happy to have himself and his national security team photographed in the Situation Room while the operation to kill bin Laden was going on, I don’t think a Democrat president would necessarily have been a cooing dove of peace – some kind of reaction would have been called for, and even if the US stayed out of Iraq, they would (I think) still have been involved in a chase to locate bin Laden.

            As for the vote swapping? Sounds like a brilliant way of getting a crowd of dupes to vote for your candidate while breaking any promise to vote for theirs. Since it’s all done on a trust basis, and since we can’t check to see that Joe in Florida voted for Tom in Oregon’s candidate as he promised to do (and vice versa) and since vote-rigging and other meddling with elections is a thing and since that all the candidates’ campaigns would be very interested in mobilising voters to take advantage of “get someone in another state to vote for Our Guy by promising to vote for Their Guy (but hey, your vote is a private affair and we certainly can’t monitor to see that everyone is going to vote as they said they would, that would be snooping and unwarranted interference with the private ballot)” – I admire the faith in the basic goodness of human nature it demonstrates but I wouldn’t back a horse on those kinds of odds.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Deiseach
            (2) Does anyone think President Gore would have presided over a happy land of “no war in Iraq, no financial meltdown in 2008”?

            Naw, not the whole 90s thing, just the peace and prosperity.

          • LHN says:

            Since it’s all done on a trust basis, and since we can’t check to see that Joe in Florida voted for Tom in Oregon’s candidate as he promised to do (and vice versa)

            Joe and Tom can send each other selfies showing them casting their votes. It’s possible to fake that, and of course someone has to go first. But if it’s a crowd rather than just two people, you report the defection or radio silence to the next swapper down the line and minimize the damage.

            (Ballot selfies are illegal in some states, though at least one court has ruled such a law unconstitutional. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/is-a-ballot-booth-selfie-free-speech-or-a-threat-to-the-sanctity-of-the-secret-vote/2015/08/23/89623272-4809-11e5-8ab4-c73967a143d3_story.html )

            Granted, it’s a lot of work and coordination for a gesture that (as others have noted) drains voting for a third party of what little political influence it offers.

          • Careless says:

            if you have spent all your ammunition on “This guy is a malignant doofus who would be a disaster for the USA and the world”, then what are you going to say about Trump?

            He said that Trump would be “an order of magnitude worse”

      • anon says:

        I’d like to say that there aren’t just two monolithic groups in play here, and Aaronson has considered this and weighed the two appropriately. But it does say something negative about him that he reduces Trump support to be purely about racism, as if he cannot think of a single other reason.

          • anon says:

            Well, that’s interesting. And I suppose it’s nice that he’s acknowledged it somewhere. In the article linked, though, he still characterizes it thus, and only thus:

            But it now looks clear that, on balance, not only Stein but also Johnson are helping Trump, by splitting up that part of the American vote that’s not driven by racial resentment.

          • Matt M says:

            It seems so bizarre to characterize all (or even most) of Trump’s support coming from “racial resentment.” It just doesn’t stand up to any serious scrutiny.

            Did something happen in the last four years to suddenly increase the factor of unrepentant racists in America by a factor of 10?

            Where was this huge block of racist voters in 2012? Surely none of them would have voted for Obama. So why didn’t Romney win going away if he presumably could have attracted all the racists who are now supporting Trump, PLUS a bunch of non-racist people who simply prefer GOP policies?

            Like, it seems almost certain that Trump is going to get, at an absolute minimum, 35-40% of the popular vote. Do we really think 35% of society consists of white nationalist neo-nazis?

          • BBA says:

            There’s a school of thought that racial resentment is the driving force in American politics and has been since around 1607. Trump is just slightly more overt about it than his predecessors. Willie Horton, anyone?

          • Matt M says:

            But if racial resentment is ALWAYS the answer, then why give Trump such a hard time about it?

            Like, does anyone seriously think the KKK might have considered voting for Hillary if Ted Cruz won the GOP nomination instead of Trump?

            Trump is being singled out as uniquely racist, but at the same time, his success is pointed to as evidence that tens if not hundreds of millions of Americans are hardcore racists. How can all of this stuff all be true at the same time?

          • Zombielicious says:

            Because of the primary, not the general election. What is Trump conspicuously known for that other potential Republican nominees were not? His detailed and specific policy positions? His experience in government? His wealth? His previous business experience? Or the fact that he was by far the most outspoken and “controversial” figure in the primary?

            That’s the perceived connection – Trump was who the plurality chose to elect, not one of the other guys.

            Did something happen in the last four years to suddenly increase the factor of unrepentant racists in America by a factor of 10?

            Well a black guy with the middle name “Hussein” was not only elected eight years ago but then won reelection. Others have also argued that the acquisition of Tea Party members to Congress, by Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, etc, in the effort to repeal Obamacare and force budget cuts, helped push things in a certain direction. I personally watched my very old father, who had been a staunch Democrat his entire life, slowly start watching Fox News all the time, reading books by Glenn Beck and I’m pretty sure everything Bill O’Reilly had ever published. By that theory, the social change probably took a few years to foment, and Romney can’t be blamed for not winning in a landslide since his brand wasn’t marketed to the same demographic Trump’s is. (Possibly for good reason – I’m not expecting Trump to do better this time around than Romney did in 2012.)

          • Matt M says:

            Call me crazy, but I would think that the election, and re-election of a black man named Hussein would be evidence against the notion that 1/3rd of Americans are irredeemably racist…

          • Zombielicious says:

            Well, not necessarily, since pretty much every election in years has shown you can win with 1/3rd of the country vehemently opposed to you. And given the current polarization and antipathy of partisans towards each other, a particular person winning doesn’t really say much about their ability to appeal to the whole of the population…

            I mean, if nothing else, you might also remember that the current nominee is the same guy who led an entire campaign to prove Obama either was actually born in Kenya or was actually born a Muslim… So you don’t really have to search deep and far for negative ways to interpret his winning the nomination…

          • Careless says:

            Willie Horton, anyone

            When you suggest that pointing out that your opponent allowed a murderer to go out on vacation from which he did not return and then went on to go rape, stab, and rob people is “racial resentment,” you lose. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 votes.

          • Careless says:

            Zombielicious, what you’re suggesting only counts as an explanation if either the set of irredeemable racists and people who would favor a traditional mainstream conservative are the same, or that every single non-racist left of center is refusing to vote for Trump.

            I suggest that neither is supportable.

        • Titanium Dragon says:

          I literally had a Trump supporter the other day ask me on Reddit what was wrong with National Socialism after I mentioned neo-Nazis.

          Trump’s supporters are scary crazy.

          Also some of them are obviously Russian.

          But I digress…

          I think boiling down his vehement support to bigotry isn’t really wrong; there are people who support him for other reasons, but a lot of his die-hard supporters do seem to basically be fascists and to buy into a lot of conspiracy theories.

          Obviously there are tribalist supporters of Trump and people who just really hate Hillary due to a bad case of CDS, but his like, hardcore crew?

          They’re mostly pretty bad operators.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I literally had a Trump supporter the other day ask me on Reddit what was wrong with National Socialism after I mentioned neo-Nazis.

            Did you answer the question?

          • eh says:

            Anecdotally, the only Trump supporter I know is Asian and has (legal) immigrants for parents. That doesn’t justify the statements “Trump’s supporters are soothingly sane” or “Trump is crypto-Asian, he hates on China all the time, it’s a dog whistle for the Japanese”.

          • Sandy says:

            I mean, if Trump were crypto-Asian, the strategic thing to do would be hating on the Japanese, since that would be a dog whistle for the Chinese, Koreans and Filipinos.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Jokes on you, he’s actually crypto Japanese, think about it, he’s racist, business oriented, squinty eyes, bad hair, a fan of karoke. Wake up sheeple!.

            😛

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            I’m impressed that you managed to find a crazy person on Reddit.

          • Throwaway says:

            @TitaniumDragon: A quick check at your reddit history says that you love to hang around in political subs and throw mud at your tribal enemies. I’m not overly surprised that you’ve heard all sorts of things in the subsequent mudfights.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        What, exactly, is the reasoning supposed to be here? Why do the problems with social justice indicate that Trump would be a better president than Clinton? I keep seeing this claim repeated, but the most reasoning I’ve seen for it is essentially “Clinton would further empower the SJers, Trump would help beat them back”, which seems pretty damn tenuous. While I certainly would not like to see the SJers gain more ground, it strikes me as pretty unlikely that the symbolic value of a Trump or Clinton presidency, and how that encourages other people to act, is going to outweigh, or weigh on the same scale as, what either of these people does with the power of the office of President of the United States. You know, that whole “running the executive branch” thing.

        Moreover, even recognizing the problems with the social justice movement, that doesn’t in any way mean Trump is better. On the contrary; I’d say he’s likely to be worse. The biggest problem with the social justice movement is that most of it is illiberal, that it is trying to tear down basic Enlightenment values like free speech, to obscure truth and subordinate it to politics. But Trump is even more illiberal, or, if not, at least in the same range of illiberalism. Clinton isn’t.

        That is to say: Trump isn’t the “Hey, maybe, y’know, the Thirty Years’ War was a bad thing” candidate. He’s the “Looks like another Thirty Years’ War is coming, better arm my side!” candidate, for those that would be “on his side” in such a thing. Which is how you bring such a thing closer.

        For what it’s worth, I also think that the claim that “Trump would help beat back the SJers” is itself largely false, or false in the ways that matter most; the social justice wars are, primarily, an intra-Blue-Tribe phenomenon. As I’ve already said above, the important fight isn’t “social justice vs. the Red Tribe”, but “social justice vs. the Enlightenment”, so arming the Red Tribe doesn’t help in the important fight.

        But it’s not just a matter of who takes over when the SJers are defeated, because they wouldn’t be defeated; I don’t see how one can conclude that they would be without a false assumption of uniformity. Within the Blue Tribe, would they be defeated? No. If anything they’d be strengthened. Within the academy, would they be defeated? No; a Trump victory isn’t going to break the Blue Tribe’s hold over academia, so how the SJers fare there depends on how they fare within the Blue Tribe (and as I said I expect that if anything they’d be strengthened in that context).

        The primary danger of the SJers, IMO, is that knowledge goes underground — and this is already happening. Trump won’t help reverse that, if anything he’ll accelerate it.

        But this is all somewhat irrelevant; for as I’ve said, even if we grant the point that Trump will help beat back the SJers, he’s still not better than them; and even if we go ahead and grant that somehow he is, it’s still a minor matter compared to how he’d run the executive branch.

        In short: SJ bad ⇏ Trump good; reversed stupidity is not intelligence.

        • The Nybbler says:

          There’s actually been quite a bit of campus SJ support done by executive action in the Department of Education; Trump’s presidency could directly do something about that (in that his Secretary of Education is unlikely to be sympathetic).

          The symbolic value is enormous, however. The idea that the inexorable progress of mankind (or whatever the gender-neutral term is) is towards Social Justice would be absolutely destroyed by a Trump victory.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            There’s actually been quite a bit of campus SJ support done by executive action in the Department of Education; Trump’s presidency could directly do something about that (in that his Secretary of Education is unlikely to be sympathetic).

            Hm, that’s true. It would reduce some of the bleeding (though not reverse it; too much of the SJ is internal for that). But again I don’t think it’s looking at the full picture — what would Trump do with control/influence over not only the Department of Education but also other agencies responsible for academic funding? Try to use it to silence whoever he doesn’t like. Again: Defeat of the SJers does not imply a victory for liberalism.

            The symbolic value is enormous, however. The idea that the inexorable progress of mankind (or whatever the gender-neutral term is) is towards Social Justice would be absolutely destroyed by a Trump victory.

            I doubt that. It’s the inexorable progress of mankind, not the speedy-right-now progress of mankind. IMO, he’ll be seen as just another temporary setback, like the World Wars and the Red Scare.

          • The Nybbler says:

            what would Trump do with control/influence over not only the Department of Education but also other agencies responsible for academic funding? Try to use it to silence whoever he doesn’t like. Again: Defeat of the SJers does not imply a victory for liberalism.

            No, but the SJers have found a weak point and are exploiting it mercilessly. Trump would be hammering on strong points.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            That’s a good point. Ultimately though it’s small potatoes. The bulk of the problem is internal and he won’t be able to do a thing about that (OK, I guess you claim otherwise there, but). Meanwhile he’s so otherwise awful that I don’t see how it can compare. E.g. he might not be able to make much of a dent on overall views, in academia or elsewhere, but being able to use the DoJ to harass people who criticize you — other presidents might shy away from something so blatantly illiberal and corrupt, but he wouldn’t — is a nasty weapon to have.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Sniffnoy:

            The bulk of the problem is internal and he won’t be able to do a thing about that

            I’m not so sure. SJ-types gain power by constructing and deploying rhetorical superweapons. In use, these weapons seem powerful (rather than, say, “silly”) because everybody believes they are powerful. A Trump win would generally weaken belief in the effectiveness of these weapons.

            In Blue world, being called, say, “racist”, means you are likely to lose all your allies and your job and your reputation. Because people know this, everyone competes furiously to avoid the charge. Part of this competition involves believing and repeating such accusations (no matter how flimsy or debatable they might be), distancing yourself from others who have been so accused (thereby depriving them of allies) and backing down and apologizing (if you yourself are the target).

            This response pattern makes the effectiveness of the charge a self-fulfilling prophesy. The charge has teeth because we think it does.

            But if everybody knew being called “racist” was survivable – that it was possible to ignore or laugh off such a charge and still win an election – people might be generally less inclined to react in the ways that give that charge its power. Even in Blue world, people on the margin would be more inclined to tough it out and stick by their friends and ask for actual evidence of charges made. Let a few more dominos fall in the same direction and eventually preference falsification dynamics would kick in – the superweapon turns into a dud.

            If Trump accomplished THAT, it’d be a pretty big deal.

            (I have no idea how either Trump or Clinton would “run the executive branch” but rather suspect it largely runs itself. )

          • hlynkacg says:

            Remember kids, the correct response to an ambush is to bum-rush the ambushers.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            Glen: I think you’re basically wrong here. George W. Bush won two elections, after all, and did that help with this at all? (SJ as such wasn’t around then, but its predecessors were.)

            Even if the SJers can’t get you fired or harass you without consequence, they can still mark you as a Red. (And quite possibly get you to believe it.) The Blues won’t respect you anymore, and what Blue wants to be put in that position? The whole thing runs on social pressure, as you say; but the flip side of it being self-supporting is that, well, it’s self-supporting. I don’t see any reason that Trump’s election should substantially damage it in solidly Blue settings, which can continue to say, “Yup, the outside world is awful, don’t cross us or we’ll consider you to be one of them.”

            This is part of why I say a Trump victory would strengthen them — the worse the Red Tribe is, the worse it is to be marked as one, the more effectively they can punish dissenters. IMO, the overall effect of a Trump victory on this sort of thing would not be a “win” for one side or the other, but polarization, side-taking, entrenchment.

          • hlynkacg says:

            While I agree that a Trump win might strengthen the SJ movement in the short term I think that Glen is right in the long run.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Sniffnoy

            That’s a good point. Ultimately though it’s small potatoes. The bulk of the problem is internal and he won’t be able to do a thing about that

            Liberal Blue-tribers voting Trump (or at least not voting Clinton) is a form of defection against SJW Blue-tribers. SJ can’t remain the dominant ideology of the mainstream Left if it consistently cause it to elections. The mainstream Left parties will either have to eject the SJW or die and be replaced by some other parties. Ditto for institutions that depend on public funding (e.g. the academia) or good relationship with politicians (big corporations).

            Siding with the distant enemy to defeat the proximate enemy may look like a kind of scorched earth strategy, but:
            1) there seems to be no alternative. The SJWs are so entrenched in their positions of power that setting the house on fire seems the only way to get rid of them.
            2) Trump might do some bad shit, but it seems to me that the SJ ideology has a destructive potential comparable to Communism. Their end game is to establish a totalitarian society where cronyism and conformity are the only ways of achieving status, wealth and power. It will entrench existing elites into an unproductive aristocracy even more than they already are, while the peasants will subject to their arbitrary power without little legal protection.

          • Anonymous says:

            vV_Vv

            Liberal Blue-tribers voting Trump (or at least not voting Clinton) is a form of defection against SJW Blue-tribers.

            Ain’t going to happen. Okay maybe one or two weirdos, but not in any appreciable numbers.

            The blue tribe, inasmuch as that’s a real thing, is absolutely united against trump.

            SJ can’t remain the dominant ideology of the mainstream Left

            It isn’t. You may want to occasionally log off twitter and talk to some people. Preferably not teenagers, college students, or twenty something Bay Aryans.

            The SJWs are so entrenched in their positions of power … SJ ideology has a destructive potential comparable to Communism

            You may want to check your calibration, it seems way off.

          • vV_Vv says:

            The blue tribe, inasmuch as that’s a real thing, is absolutely united against trump.

            Source?

            It isn’t. You may want to occasionally log off twitter and talk to some people.

            It is the dominant ideology of left-leaning institutions and it largely dictates their policies.

            What random people who identify as leftists think is irrelevant as long as it doesn’t turn into action. So far the only viable action seems to be voting against SJW-friendly left candidates.

            You may want to check your calibration, it seems way off.

            Please explain.

          • Anonymous says:

            It is the dominant ideology of left-leaning institutions and it largely dictates their policies.

            Source?

          • pku says:

            There’s actually been quite a bit of campus SJ support done by executive action in the Department of Education; Trump’s presidency could directly do something about that (in that his Secretary of Education is unlikely to be sympathetic).

            This seems wrong, in that (most) campuses go above and beyond their legal requirements. If they didn’t like SJW ideology they could easily drag their heels and do the minimum to avoid getting sued; instead, they go way beyond what would be required even by managing publicity risk – they act like true believers. This isn’t surprising: If academia is the stronghold of SJWs, you would expect it to be farther left than the government (which is about the party average).

            The upshot on this is that the bottleneck on stopping SJW power in college campuses isn’t the government, it’s the college administration. Which would probably only be egged on by a Trump win (unless Trump actually passed laws stopping colleges from persecuting people, which seems unlikely).

          • The Nybbler says:

            @pku

            On campus sexual assault charges in particular, colleges had to be dragged into adopting the “preponderance of the evidence” standard by one the Department of Education’s “Dear Collegues” Letters. I think the difference is that while the academics (outside economics and the hard sciences) have been completely taken over by SJ, the administration are either not necessarily true believers or have other priorities.

          • pku says:

            Fair point – the place I’m at is definitely overdoing what they need to, but I they’re known for liberalism and may well be an exception.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @The Nybbler:

            I think the difference is that while the academics (outside economics and the hard sciences) have been completely taken over by SJ…

            Did you do humanities or social sciences? I think you are exaggerating. I took a variety of humanities courses (mostly focusing on history and religion) and a little bit of social sciences, and I would not share that observation.

            I was not on a right-wing campus, or in a right-wing city, by any stretch of the imagination, and the impression I got was that the sort of stereotypical vaguely-pomo-or-whatever-social-justicey-left-wing-campus-activism stuff was limited to some departments and to student unions/groups.

            Even the course I took that one would most expect to be like that – an Indian history course taught by a professor very into postcolonial, “Subaltern Studies” stuff – was not like that: professor not strident, she didn’t think that the British were the devil, etc etc.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Glen: I think you’re basically wrong here. George W. Bush won two elections, after all, and did that help with this at all? (SJ as such wasn’t around then, but its predecessors were.)

            Bush made no meaningful effort to oppose proto-SJ. Which would also be my real fear about Trump in this particular area: given that he has no real principles and his fans will pretty much follow him anywhere because they like his attitude, why wouldn’t he turn right around and embrace slavery reparations or hate speech laws or whatever SJ horrorshow is next on the to-do list? I find that scenario quite plausible.

          • Jiro says:

            Which would also be my real fear about Trump in this particular area: given that he has no real principles and his fans will pretty much follow him anywhere because they like his attitude, why wouldn’t he turn right around and embrace slavery reparations or hate speech laws or whatever SJ horrorshow is next on the to-do list?

            Because “no principles” doesn’t literally mean “absolutely no principles whatsoever”. His principles, as well as the set of principles his fans will accept, are flexible, but not flexible to an unlimited degree. If Trump just fails to build a Mexican wall as promised, he won’t lose many fans. But if he starts supporting open borders, or for that maaatter slavery reparations, he’ll get dropped like a hot potato.

          • Edward Morgan Blake says:

            The blue tribe, inasmuch as that’s a real thing, is absolutely united against trump.

            I live in a urban district that is roughly 90% Democratic party, by voter behavior. And yet, in anonymous surveys, Trump is polling at 45%.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Edward Morgan Blake

            Not all Democratic voters are Blue Tribe. I suspect Trump has made greater inroads into the non-Blue Tribe Democrats than most people think. This would include the Democratic “working class”.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Broadly, they are many good points in Sniffnoy’s post. I am in agreement that Trump should be predicted to be far more illiberal than Clinton. Note, for only one example, his repeated claims (mostly in the primary) that journalists will need to watch out when he wins.

          But I would like to point out an example of something. Note how the “W” has been removed from “SJW” and it is now just referred to as “SJ”. The comments generally have not remarked on this and have followed the pattern of simply referring to SJ.

          Thus my repeated contention, that this board really does not actually make the distinction that is claimed when it comes to social justice, as well as the broad left side of the political spectrum.

          • DrBeat says:

            The Social Justice Movement is synonymous with Social Justice Warriors, it is where they get their power from, it gives their power to them, and has shown at every possible opportunity it is not interested in stopping abuses of that power so long as those abuses punish unpopular people.

            People say “oh, those people aren’t REAL Social Justice”. At every single opportunity that has arisen, the Social Justice movement has acted like those people, has supported those people, has punished those who oppose those people.

            I am allowed to notice that has happened.

          • The Nybbler says:

            SJWs are people; the movement is called Social Justice (among other things)

            There are some who think SJ itself isn’t a problem, just the overly-fanatical warriors. I do not agree with them. “This board”, I think, does not have a consensus on that.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            But I would like to point out an example of something. Note how the “W” has been removed from “SJW” and it is now just referred to as “SJ”. The comments generally have not remarked on this and have followed the pattern of simply referring to SJ.

            I have argued against the use of “SJW”, much as I now complain about the use of “alt-right”. It’s a useless term that can be defined as narrowly or broadly as desired to argue your point. The other big problem it has is that it gives undue legitimacy to SJ, by declaring the few crazies as “a few bad apples” you’re claiming there’s nothing wrong with SJ itself, but IMO, there is.

            I care far less about a Brendan Eich or a LW1 here and there (both of which are doing fine) than I care about some stupid moral paradigm finally crystalizing (from the left or the right), with all that entails.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            *Shrug* I treat “SJW” and “SJ [x]” as equivalent referents.

            Social Justice, in all its forms, has been my predominant ideological enemy since I started arguing politics.

            I consider the term more broadly than most, and regard racism as being fundamentally identical to Social Justice; it’s not that racists don’t engage in the same sort of statistical moralizing that characterizes Social Justice thinking more broadly, it’s that they think the moral calculus arrives at a different conclusion.

            I think justice is a quality that can only meaningfully exist with regard to the individual, and more, observe that attempting to institute statistical justice necessarily requires instituting individual injustice. This problem exists regardless of the scope; if I stereotype people, I may be statistically just, but this is going to necessarily require injust treatment of specific individuals, who did nothing to deserve the stereotype-induced behavior I engage in – regardless of how correct the stereotypes are on average. Likewise, at a social level, although the injustices are more commented-on in that arena.

            The fact that Social Justice attempts to redefine racism to only apply to its enemies suggests precisely how similar the concepts fundamentally are; they require redefining slurs to exclude the in-group.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well, at least some people admit they are out in the bailey

            And now Scott Alexander himself is up thread openly declaring opposition to Social Justice and not just SJW.

          • TheWorst says:

            But I would like to point out an example of something.

            I noticed the same thing, but it seems as if the broader SJ (non-W) movement decided to embrace the worst among them (and their worst tendencies) rather than acknowledge that yes, their worst members are not good people.

            It’s a map/territory problem, and I don’t think it’s the map’s fault for no longer drawing a distinction between two countries which merged.

            And now Scott Alexander himself is up thread openly declaring opposition to Social Justice and not just SJW.

            Can you think of any time in recent memory when the greater “SJ” group acted in a way to differentiate itself from the “SJW” group?

            Note that this is identical to a Republican claiming that Trump doesn’t represent him. There was a time when that was true. Then, Trump won the Republican primary. Anyone who feels that Trump is not a fair representative of the views of his group is either not a member of the Republican party, or is a liar.

          • DrBeat says:

            Are you going to engage with what people said, HBC, or are you just going to Darkly Hint all day?

          • Anonymous says:

            I prefer Darkly Hinting to unsubstantiated paranoid rants. YMMV.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            I prefer Mini Schnauzers to both of them, but there’s not a lot to discuss about mini schnauzers in this context, and there’s not a lot to discuss about dark hints in general. As such, we’re stuck with paranoid rants, so rant away, anon-kun.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            Note how the “W” has been removed from “SJW” and it is now just referred to as “SJ”. The comments generally have not remarked on this and have followed the pattern of simply referring to SJ.

            Thus my repeated contention, that this board really does not actually make the distinction that is claimed when it comes to social justice, as well as the broad left side of the political spectrum.

            A euphemism treadmill process broke the earlier distinction.

            A year or two ago the term “SJW” was descriptive, not insulting. It meant something like “person interested in ‘social justice’ who happens to use terrible tactics and arguments to address these issues”.

            Back then, I think there was a rough consensus that the arguments “SJWs” use are bad arguments, but that didn’t make the SJWs bad people. There was still room at that point to think SJWs are merely misguided. Maybe they just don’t realize their arguments are making the problems they claim to care about worse and/or causing collateral damage. Maybe they don’t know enough rationality to make logically sound arguments or maybe the issues they care about are just so important it’s worth the risk of establishing terrible precedents such as “the most offended person should always win the argument”.

            As the term was used more often in wider circles, emphasis shifted to the “terrible tactics” part to the point where calling somebody an SJW became simply an insult. Saying “you’re an SJW” eventually became equivalent to saying “you are a bad person who uses bad arguments and should feel bad”.

            So nowadays if one wants to mean the same thing that “SJW” used to mean (even as recently as last year) without dragging in the new fully-pejorative implication, one needs to pick a new label. SJ-ers or SJ-Types or Social Justice People are all recent contenders for that role – have you a better suggestion?

          • “Anyone who feels that Trump is not a fair representative of the views of his group is either not a member of the Republican party, or is a liar.”

            I disagree.

            Winning the nomination doesn’t require support from a majority of the party, just a plurality of those who vote in primaries (slight oversimplification). And supporting a candidate doesn’t mean that his views are yours, only that he is the one you want to be your party’s candidate.

            To see one reason why, consider a conservative Republican who votes for a fairly liberal Republican candidate in the primary because he believes that candidate can win the election and his preferred candidate can’t.

            I’m not a Republican, but consider the libertarian version of the question in this election. Gary Johnson, at least as he represents himself at the moment, is pretty far from my views. But I would have voted for him at the LP convention if I had been there, because he is much closer to my views than the likely nominees of the major parties and likely to get considerably more votes than an LP candidate who was much more hard line and so closer to my views.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’m not darkly hinting at anything.

            It’s been my repeated contention that there is a great deal of outgroup homogeneity bias for “the left” on this board, and that Scott really does very little to dissuade it. I’d sa, on balance, he exacerbates it.

            I even pointed out recently that SJW was more and more often being used as a generalized slur aimed at the left and was losing its specificity in use. This is just further evidence of that progression.

            Recognize your outgroup homogeneity bias.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’m gonna back HeelBearCub up on this one. People here talk about “the left” or “leftists” as monolithic too often – I think we (as a group) do that more than for other ideological standpoints.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – For what it’s worth, I know I stopped using SJW somewhere around a year and a half ago, in favor of SJ. It seemed to me that everything I objected to about SJW behavior was backed by SJ doctrine. The pro-SJ stance was that SJWs were abusing or misapplying the doctrine (and/or that SJWs didn’t matter or exist). My observation was that there are no consistently enforced rules for what counts as abuse or misapplication, and that judgments on acceptability or deplorability were being made on an ad hoc basis. SJWs seem to be a natural product of the SJ system, arguably even an intentional one, given the “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted” ethos.

            The term never had workable descriptive power because all it means is “person misusing social justice”, and there’s no agreement on what proper use of social justice looks like.

            [EDIT] – none of that implies that SJ is synonymous with the Left by population. I think it’s pretty clearly synonymous with the left in terms of power, given the social firepower displayed by Feminism, BLM, and other related groups.

          • DrBeat says:

            We keep saying “Social Justice”, to refer to the specific powerful and popular ideological movement, the Social Justice Movement, the thing that exists in the real world and is what is referred to by that name.

            HBC is just saying we’re not allowed to notice that this ideological movement is popular, powerful, and malicious, because (like every ideological movement ever in human history ever without one single solitary exception) it claims to be synonymous with good things, so if we notice that thing-with-that-name-in-the-real-world-that-is-referred-to is popular and powerful and malicious and out to harm us and we want to stop it from doing so, we hate the good thing they claim to be for, and are thus inherently bad and shameful people who deserve to be sneered at.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            What I see is someone arguing HBC is the one not allowed to see differences inside a group of people. You’re not even trying to be charitable.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ DrBeat
            I don’t think that’s what HBC is saying at all that. In fact I think there is some merit to the complaint that “SJ / SJW” is being used to tar “the left / leftists” as a whole.

            Even as a proud “bitter clinger” I have a problem there. The distinction between the bleeding hearts, the bullies, and (for lack of a better term) uninvolved civilians, is critical If we (as the opposition) don’t want to turn into the very thing we’re fighting against.

          • DrBeat says:

            “You are talking about SJ instead of SJW, this proves you are a bad person.”

            “We’re talking about the SJ movement, which is powerful and malicious and has shown itself to be such.”

            “No, he’s right. You guys are tarring the left as one big thing when it’s just SJ.”

            That’s not what happened! This thread started with HBC insulting and sneering at us for saying “SJ” instead of “SJW”, not the other things you’re now back-filling! This entire thread was about the Social Justice movement specifically, HBC insulted us because we were talking about that thing-with-that-name-in-the-real-world-that-is-referred-to, and now you’re saying it’s justified because of a totally different thing that did not happen!

          • HeelBearCub says:

            This thread started with HBC insulting and sneering at us for saying “SJ” instead of “SJW”

            Excuse me?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            The term never had workable descriptive power because all it means is “person misusing social justice”, and there’s no agreement on what proper use of social justice looks like.

            What do you mean by describing someone as “misusing” an ideological movement? “Social justice” is like “conservatism”: you could use it to describe a movement (“conservatism has a long history of blah blah blah”), or you could use it to describe a goal (“we are working towards social justice”), or you could be using it in a general “good feelings” manner (“we are working for conservatism in society!”).

            But I wouldn’t describe someone as “misusing” conservatism, at least not instinctively. There are, of course, people who use ideological beliefs to justify self-interested actions, but this is everywhere. We are all guilty of rationalizing our bad behaviour by whatever means.

            Are some ideological movements more prone to this?

          • pku says:

            I consider the term more broadly than most, and regard racism as being fundamentally identical to Social Justice

            I wonder if this isn’t an effect of right/left split becoming cultural rather than political – people who would have become traditionally racist but grew up in a liberal environment become SJWs instead.

            Also, HBC seems right in general, but I don’t really see conflating SJ and SJW as a problem – I just use them both to describe the same phenomenon, and avoid using either about people with more reasonable views and tactics.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @DrBeat – “This thread started with HBC insulting and sneering at us”

            Nope. You need to chill out.

            @dndnrsn – “What do you mean by describing someone as “misusing” an ideological movement?”

            Conservatism and Liberalism are attitudes or philosophies; they apply meaningfully across long time scales and a variety of circumstances. Capitalism or Communism seem more narrowly focused on particular places and times. Social Justice even more so.

            Social Justice contains its own ethical framework, together with norms and tactics. “Punch up, not down”, for example. I think SJ supporters would agree that someone misrepresenting themselves or another person to make it look like they’re punching up when actually they’re punching down would be a misuse of Social Justice.

            “Are some ideological movements more prone to this?”

            Say that an ideological movement is a way of working out how and when to apply social pressure or force, with an aim toward making it easier for people to cooperate toward securing a common goal. One group has strict rules, carefully enforced, to ensure that social pressure or force are used only as a last resort, and takes great care to ensure that the target is appropriate. Another group lets its members use social pressure or force freely so long as a plurality agree that the target really deserves it.

            It seems clear to me that the latter ruleset is much more prone to abuse than the former. I also think it describes Social Justice as it actually plays out, and arguably captures the better part of SJ theory as well.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @pku:

            I wonder if this isn’t an effect of right/left split becoming cultural rather than political – people who would have become traditionally racist but grew up in a liberal environment become SJWs instead.

            That’s the thing – from the outside, all partisans and SJWs are basically indistinguishable, regardless of which side they’re on. And from reading SSC comments it’s pretty clear that “anti-SJ” people are basically SJWs. They have the exact same attitudes and rhetoric. They both view themselves as locked into a holy jihad against the structural oppression of the same institutions that have been infiltrated by their enemies (“social justice” or “the patriarchy”). They’re completely willing to set aside any negatives of their own side in favor of attacking their opponents because the other side is so awful that the ends justifies the means. They cite the worst examples of the opposing tribe as representative of a monolithic whole, and how refusal being lazy and ambivalent by some to explicitly acknowledge and disavow those elements goes to show they actually tacitly embrace them. It’s a race to the bottom between people with the exact same tendencies.

            You could take every “anti-SJ” post in this thread and swap out terms for SJ ones and it would be indistinguishable. So many SSC comments about anti-SJ and yet not one of them have disavowed Milo Yiannopoulos or David Duke! And a bunch of them like Peter Thiel, who once said women’s suffrage was a mistake! This proves all the anti-SJ SJWs actually approve of and support their actions! Yiannopoulos and Duke are fully representative of the white supremacist conservative-libertarian patriarchy! Just look at this thing about cops handcuffing bullied black kids for crying in class! See how bad things have gotten, how early the male-dominated racial oppression begins!? We’re the last line of defense! We must do whatever it takes to fight back! The continuity of civilization depends on us! All other considerations must be put aside, for (anti-)SJ is the defining battle of our age!

            Does it sound like anyone you’ve heard before?

            Also, HBC seems right in general, but I don’t really see conflating SJ and SJW as a problem – I just use them both to describe the same phenomenon, and avoid using either about people with more reasonable views and tactics.

            Because saying “I’m against social justice” literally means you’re opposed to social justice, the umbrella term including stuff like civil rights, desegregation, nondiscrimination, etc. As opposed to something like “I’m against radical tactics by fringe elements.” Do you really want to make your position indistinguishable from the people who literally want to kill Jews and re-enslave blacks? Keeping in mind that there’s not a clear line between the two groups, but instead a massive grey area of “I’m not a racist, but…” people. And if that’s the goal, why isn’t it something like “anti-rad(ical)” instead of “anti-SJ”? That would be more accurate to what anti-SJ people are at least superficially claiming to be actually against, not just motte-and-bailey against.

            At the very least it’s lazy language, equivalent to “I’m against capitalism” when what they really mean is “I’d like a slightly stronger social safety net and a minimum wage.” At worst you end up being that person who responds to “black lives matter” by shouting “NO THEY DON’T” then wondering why everyone on the other side straw-mans your clearly level headed and well thought out positions on the dangers of Manichean worldviews.

          • DrBeat says:

            Because saying “I’m against social justice” literally means you’re opposed to social justice.

            So am I permitted to notice this exact same thing is happening again for the same reason to the same goal, or am I to be told I am a bad person for noticing that once again someone is saying “You can’t say you are against this popular, powerful, and malicious movement, because if you say you are against that thing-with-that-name-in-the-real-world-that-is-referred-to, you MUST be saying you are against the good things it claims to be synonymous with, and that makes you a bad shameful person!”

            When am I permitted to notice the things people say to me and respond to things I noticed?

          • Fahundo says:

            And what exactly has Milo done (as in, actually done, not just been accused of) to warrant disavowal? Seriously asking. I don’t really follow Milo much but when I read his actual words they contain none of the hate he’s accused of spewing, and then there’s the fact that there was zero evidence that he was actually involved in the recent twitter controversy.

            And David Duke? Seriously? The KKK is constantly disavowed, literally every day, by people of all political affiliations. If David Duke specifically hasn’t been disavowed by name enough, it’s mainly because no one knew his name until he got famous for endorsing Trump.

          • The Nybbler says:

            That’s the thing – from the outside, all partisans and SJWs are basically indistinguishable, regardless of which side they’re on.

            Only if the outsiders don’t care to investigate. And if they do, given how pervasive this is, they’ll likely not remain outsiders. Saying “A pox on both your houses” is a lazy answer.

            And from reading SSC comments it’s pretty clear that “anti-SJ” people are basically SJWs.

            I think not. There are some similar types for non-SJ causes (so not SJWs, but something-else warriors; off the top of my head anti-porn crusaders obviously, also there are some anti-pedophilia types who take it WAY too far), but very few anti-SJ people qualify.

            They have the exact same attitudes and rhetoric.

            We do? I can tell us apart pretty easily.

            They both view themselves as locked into a holy jihad against the structural oppression of the same institutions that have been infiltrated by their enemies (“social justice” or “the patriarchy”).

            Both sides of a conflict correctly perceive themselves to be in a conflict. This is not much of a similarity.

            Because saying “I’m against social justice” literally means you’re opposed to social justice, the umbrella term including stuff like civil rights, desegregation, nondiscrimination, etc.

            No, it means I’m against the current movement calling itself “Social Justice”, which sometimes claims to be the same thing but is not. While the ambiguity is unfortunate (and deliberate, and their fault) I don’t believe anyone on this board is actually confused into thinking claiming to be “anti-SJ” means one is anti-civil rights and pro-segregation.

            And if that’s the goal, why isn’t it something like “anti-rad(ical)” instead of “anti-SJ”? That would be more accurate to what anti-SJ people are at least superficially claiming to be actually against, not just motte-and-bailey against.

            I’m not just against the radicalism of the Social Justice Warriors, their shock troops. I disagree with the Social Justice premises centered around privilege, structural oppression, and the like. Like Orphan BlackWilde, I feel justice is an individual thing.

          • Fahundo says:

            Orphan Black

            Interesting typo. A fan of the show?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            Conservatism and Liberalism are attitudes or philosophies; they apply meaningfully across long time scales and a variety of circumstances. Capitalism or Communism seem more narrowly focused on particular places and times. Social Justice even more so.

            Is this perhaps just an artifact of the fact that conservatism and liberalism are (as philosophies, and someone please correct me if I’m wrong) older than capitalism, communism, and social justice?

            Social Justice contains its own ethical framework, together with norms and tactics. “Punch up, not down”, for example. I think SJ supporters would agree that someone misrepresenting themselves or another person to make it look like they’re punching up when actually they’re punching down would be a misuse of Social Justice.

            I acknowledge that there is a problem with any ethical system that says “x is bad, except for in circumstance y” because it leads to motivated reasoning: if you want to do x, you’ll find a way to say any circumstance is circumstance y. Analogy: someone on a diet who likes cake, and says “I will only eat cake on special occasions”, may very well start redefining what a “special occasion” is.

            Say that an ideological movement is a way of working out how and when to apply social pressure or force, with an aim toward making it easier for people to cooperate toward securing a common goal. One group has strict rules, carefully enforced, to ensure that social pressure or force are used only as a last resort, and takes great care to ensure that the target is appropriate. Another group lets its members use social pressure or force freely so long as a plurality agree that the target really deserves it.

            It seems clear to me that the latter ruleset is much more prone to abuse than the former. I also think it describes Social Justice as it actually plays out, and arguably captures the better part of SJ theory as well.

            This seems like a bad feature of any movement at all that says “we are the good guys and we are justified in our actions against the bad guys”. However, rulesets that say “only do x as a last resort” are still vulnerable to the same motivated reasoning: a lot of people will suddenly find a lot of last resorts. If you say “you can only punch someone in self-defence”, you’re going to get a lot of people saying “he was starting to square up and I saw in his eyes he was about to throw, I punched him first but it was still self-defence”. Less vulnerable than “doesn’t have to be a last resort” but still vulnerable.

            The only ideology-specific problem (as opposed to general human problems that pop up regardless of ideology or lack thereof) I can see people in social justice or whatever form of left-wing activism having is that, generally, the particular left-wing worldview we’re talking about generally tends to be fairly blank-slatist, and thus perhaps less able to see when its adherents are acting in a way motivated by (what I think are) fairly baked-in human tendencies. Similarly, if a religious denomination holds that ordained ministers are special and holy and above reproach, it’s going to be harder to do anything about ministers who are diddling kids or stealing from the collection plate or whatever.

            Basically, humans are humans and we are going to behave like humans, and humans generally behave pretty badly. Any movement that says “humans are perfectible” (or, “some humans are perfectible”) is going to be hit harder by this, because it won’t have the immune system response of recognizing (what I think is) the general crappiness of human nature.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Fahundo

            Well, I was a fan of _Orphan Black_; the first two seasons were pretty good but it went downhill after that (IMO) and I stopped watching. And yes, I know it’s an SJW/Puppy Kicker favorite.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Fahundo:

            If David Duke specifically hasn’t been disavowed by name enough, it’s mainly because no one knew his name until he got famous for endorsing Trump.

            I truly mean no disrespect, but I literally laughed out loud.

            David Duke might be the most famous avowed white supremacist in America, post civil rights act. My guess is you are either not American or too young to remember politics in the 90s?

          • Fahundo says:

            the most famous avowed white supremacist in America, post civil rights act.

            Sounds like one of those things that requires way too many qualifiers to be meaningful. Like “most famous member of the Communist Party USA, between the years of 1975 and 1985”

            But yeah, born in 1990

          • “And if that’s the goal, why isn’t it something like “anti-rad(ical)” instead of “anti-SJ”? ”

            Speaking for myself, because I’m pro-radical, being a radical myself. A radical is someone who wants fundamental changes and I’m an anarchist.

            I wouldn’t say I am against social justice but I would say I am against “social justice,” the term not the thing. From time to time I ask one of my colleagues what “social” adds to “justice” and I don’t get an adequate answer. I’m in favor of justice, but different people disagree about what is just. I am opposed to some of the things that people who use the term “social justice” think are just and I think are unjust.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Zombielicious:

            And from reading SSC comments it’s pretty clear that “anti-SJ” people are basically SJWs. They have the exact same attitudes and rhetoric. They both view themselves as locked into a holy jihad against the structural oppression of the same institutions that have been infiltrated by their enemies (“social justice” or “the patriarchy”)

            Hang on, I’m not seeing such symmetry. First off, “the patriarchy” doesn’t exist, it is a mythological enemy, much like “the devil” was for some old-time christian sects. You have never encountered – even online – any specific actual people who claim to be part of a Patriarchy Movement or claim to care (in a positive way) about supporting Patriarchy. Whereas the “social justice” movement absolutely does exist. It is a large collection of actual people who are easy to find and proudly proclaim their support for the cause. (Many have tumblr blogs.)

            As for attitudes and rhetoric, one core social justice view is the idea that racial and gender identity are really important…and white cishet males shouldn’t be on top. The polar opposite position from that isn’t that this stuff matters and white cishet males should be on top, it’s that racial and gender identity aren’t so important and that it’s unhealthy to focus on them so strongly.

            In other words, the identitarian flavor of SJ activism is a lot like racism, whereas opposition to that strain of SJ largely is not like racism. To the extent that the opposing view is “racism/sexism is bad, so you SJers should stop engaging in so much of it”, the attitudes and rhetoric really aren’t comparable.

          • Protagoras says:

            @Fahundo, I’m with HBC on this one. David Duke was a huge deal in the 80s and the 90s, and then spent some time in relative obscurity before the Trump situation put him back in the spotlight. But I think most people who were adults in America in the 90s remember him.

          • DrBeat says:

            Aware of him in the “Oh yeah, that guy!” sense, not in the “Every person that comes to my attention for any reason BETTER denounce David Duke or else they’re Bad People!” sense it seems to be used here.

            David Duke has to be actually connected to you somehow for it to be relevant that you have or have not denounced him, and here his name was brought up to prove that people totally unrelated to him are Bad And Terrible because they didn’t denounce him.

            That would be like me saying “Metal Gear Survive is going to be terrible, because Konami refuses to denounce David Duke!” They have nothing to do with one another, no obligation exists for unrelated people to denounce David Duke, and you can’t fling obligations at other people just because you dislike them.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @DrBeat:

            When am I permitted to notice the things people say to me and respond to things I noticed?

            You’re asking if you have “permission” to “notice” things like someone is going to physically restrain you from factual observations, rather than that people will react a certain way to opinions you express. To keep with the (anti-)SJW parallels, it’s like someone asking if SSC commenters have “permission” to “notice” the heavy overlap between conservative and libertarian thought, “HBD” theories of genetic determinism on racial disparities, support for Donald Trump, and hatred of groups promoting racial and gender equality, and the negative things this implies about the average politically-oriented SSC commenter. Are they free to have that opinion? Are they free in the sense of “not being physically restrained from thinking or stating it” or “free from any negative reaction they might receive by people who disagree with them?”

            I mean sure, anyone can have any opinion they want. Heck, support actual genocide and slavery and whatever else if you really want to hold and argue that position – in the U.S. at least it’s perfectly legal, unlike some other places. But don’t conflate “I get really negative reactions to my ideas from certain crowds” or something like (obvious hyperbole) “I got fired for yelling racial slurs at customers” with “I’m not free to notice things.” Which one of those things is really the problem? People “aren’t allowed to notice things” or people “can’t publicly state any opinion without getting pushback from people who disagree?”

            @Fahundo:
            Honestly I can’t bring myself to care what Milo or Duke think long enough to search through their stuff anymore than I care what Jessica Valenti or Valerie Solanas think (thought, for Solanas). The parallel was that extremist stuff by people on the left is constantly being disavowed by more sane people on the left, and it’s only partisan myopia that makes people not-on-the-left keep saying stuff like, “But if they don’t support this stuff why haven’t they disavowed it more!?

            I mean if I really wanted to sink to this level, I could bring up stuff like Trump’s refusal to explicitly disavow David Duke, and continued support for Trump by SSC’s right, and therefore it proves you’re all closeted KKK supporters, or at least you agree with their goals, or at least you think the KKK is a useful tool to achieving your agenda.

            Of course I don’t actually think this (at least for most people), but it’s really, really tempting to make the parallel argument when you hear people saying stuff like “why hasn’t BLM disavowed the Dallas shooting???” “Uh, they did, like thirty times.” “But look at this one guy, he didn’t! That’s all you need to know about them!” It would be profoundly easy to do. Hence the race to the bottom.

            @Nybbler:

            Both sides of a conflict correctly perceive themselves to be in a conflict. This is not much of a similarity.

            It goes much deeper than that. Taking both sides at their word, we’re expected to believe that colleges, HR departments, and the whole of government are completely controlled by the edicts of the SJ wing of the left, while that it’s also oppressing women and minorities to favor the discriminatory prejudices of rich, white, patriarichal males. That both Bush and Obama are/were such totalitarian madmen that we are/were at imminent risk of them declaring martial law and continuing as President indefinitely. That politics and government in the U.S. have simultaneously moved farther left and right than ever before. Government is completely dysfunctional to the point of not being able to accomplish basic tasks, yet simultaneously power is being consolidated to the point where politicians can do whatever they want unchallenged. That career options are hopeless for women and minorities when the last two Democratic nominees (and probably Presidents) were a woman and a black guy, and left-wing political correctness is rampant and stifling when the current Republican nominee won while calling Mexican immigrants rapists, talking about his dick size during the debates, and calling AGW a Chinese hoax to kill American manufacturing. Srsly?

            It’s not even remotely consistent and comes off as narratives formed in the dark matter universe completely divorced from the reality experienced by the rest of the population. The parallel is that the narratives are basically the same, down to the persecution and victimization, infiltration of (the same) public and private institutions, support for corrupt, unreliable, cronyist politicians as proxies in the culture war, view of the enemy as a pervasive, concrete evil while their perceived enemy as some non-existent abstraction. Not an exhaustive list – I honestly see so many of these when I read these kinds of discussion (or any partisan political discussions, really) that it’s hard to bring them all up when asked. Should start an Excel file or something.

            No, it means I’m against the current movement calling itself “Social Justice”, which sometimes claims to be the same thing but is not. While the ambiguity is unfortunate (and deliberate, and their fault) I don’t believe anyone on this board is actually confused into thinking claiming to be “anti-SJ” means one is anti-civil rights and pro-segregation.

            That’s kind of the point that started this discussion – a lot of slippery terminology being used to make broad arguments tarring opponents, but allowing people to hide behind the best possible interpretation of what they can later claim they meant.

            Saying you’re opposed to “social justice” versus “the social justice movement” versus “the current iteration of the social justice movement” versus “the actions of radical SJWs in the social justice movement” mean completely different things. It’s easy to say “social justice is awful” then when people ask why you support discrimination and oppose civil rights say, “that’s not what I meant by social justice! You should know what I meant!” You can attack the whole while claiming to only be opposed to a part. And if you’re not against nondiscrimination or civil rights or equality of opportunity, but disagree with various premises like privilege or structural oppression, you’re still making a more nuanced point than “down with social justice!” would imply.

            As an example, @David Friedman said:

            Speaking for myself, because I’m pro-radical, being a radical myself. A radical is someone who wants fundamental changes and I’m an anarchist.

            This is doing basically the polar opposite. When it’s “social justice” it’s fine to say “social justice is bad” and expect it to be understood that we only mean elements of social justice. But we can’t agree to say “radicalism is bad” because we might be radicals ourselves in some ways, we can’t lump the good radicalism in with the bad radicalism. It’s a double-standard, which might not need to be explicitly stated except that this entire thing got started when someone pointed out people were moving from “radical SJWs are bad” to “social justice is bad.”

            This is actually relevant and I’m almost finished, getting to what @Glen Raphael said…

            Hang on, I’m not seeing such symmetry. First off, “the patriarchy” doesn’t exist, it is a mythological enemy, much like “the devil” was for some old-time christian sects. You have never encountered – even online – any specific actual people who claim to be part of a Patriarchy Movement or claim to care (in a positive way) about supporting Patriarchy. Whereas the “social justice” movement absolutely does exist. It is a large collection of actual people who are easy to find and proudly proclaim their support for the cause. (Many have tumblr blogs.)

            The thing is none of those blogs, from what I saw, are people explicitly self-identifying as radical SJWs. They’re just some normal social justice blogs, which of course anyone may disagree with heavily, whatever. People identity as “promoting social justice,” the good thing that not even The Nybbler claims to be opposed to (nondiscrimination and civil rights, etc). The slippery terminology about SJ vs “SJ the bad thing” vs “some SJ people” makes these arguments pretty meaningless and stupid. It’s like saying, “Social justice is awful, because look at what some of them do, but of course I’m not opposing civil rights, why would you even accuse me of that, I’m just opposing absolutely everyone who identifies as supporting civil rights because of what a few of them do. Huge difference!”

            My point here isn’t that specific words really matter (apart from sticking to ones that actually have specific meaning) and we all have to use The Right Words, it’s that tribalism is an awful mind-killer, people usually can’t tell how bad they’re doing it from the inside, and it all ends up with people having such a warped view of their opposition that they’ll push for really awful things out of fear it’s the only alternative to some abstract enemy threatening their existence. Not to mention being manipulated by elites, pundits, and demagogues into abandoning topics and discussions that actually matter to typing up long blog comments about how much the “W” matters at the end of “anti-SJ.” Oh, shit.

            @Glen Raphael:
            Just to throw it in at the end, I already pointed out how few people actually self-identify as “social justice warriors,” versus identify with “social justice [the thing about nondiscrimination, equality of opportunity, and civil rights]” and not “social justice [the SSC conception of getting young men to castrate themselves and people fired for pronoun errors].” Similarly not many people would say non-ironically that they’re “part of the patriarchy,” but there are men’s rights movements and racial separatist movements, with places like Stormfront, Heartiste, /baphomet/ (if it still exists) as examples of “actual people who are easy to find” who support this stuff. I expect most people involved see themselves as righteous and just. Just ignore all those death and rape threats and stalkings and public shaming campaigns. We could acknowledge that people do pretty awful things for awful reasons for whatever cause, but if we admitted it unilaterally that might diminish our strategic position the slightest margin… After all feminists are so horrible, MRAs are so horrible, the Jewish Illuminati conspiracy lead by George Soros is just so horrible…

            I don’t see what’s so hard to grasp about this. That one side looks at groups like Heartiste and Return of Kings and sees the nomination of Donald Trump and black people being shot by cops every few weeks and decides the threat is so real that any action is necessary to stop it, while another group looks at places like Jezebel and Tropes vs Women and sees the nomination of Hillary Clinton and technologists losing their jobs for political donations and…

            As HBC said, outgroup homogeneity bias. They always seem like a provable concrete threat, while our position is always thoughtful, delicate, and nuanced. It’s just worse when people point out the obvious and, moreso than with most other biases I can think of, rather than acknowledging it, people develop extensive repertoires of rationalizations for why they’re actually on the side of Lawful Good and the other guys really are Chaotic Evil.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Zombielicious:

            It goes much deeper than that. Taking both sides at their word, we’re expected to believe that colleges, HR departments, and the whole of government are completely controlled by the edicts of the SJ wing of the left, while that it’s also oppressing women and minorities to favor the discriminatory prejudices of rich, white, patriarichal males.

            These aren’t similarities between anti-SJ and the SJ side, these are differences. That’s why they’re contradictory; at least one side is wrong.

            That both Bush and Obama are/were such totalitarian madmen that we are/were at imminent risk of them declaring martial law and continuing as President indefinitely.

            I’ve heard these claims; I heard them about Clinton too (where they were just as ludicrous). I don’t think they’re particularly associated with SJ or anti-SJ; there’s been a claim (backed up by a leak of questionable provenance) that one group associated with “Black Lives Matter” intended to start riots in order to keep Obama in office, but I don’t think believing it is a core anti-SJ thing.

            That politics and government in the U.S. have simultaneously moved farther left and right than ever before.

            I’m unaware that there are SJ claims that politics in the US have moved further right than ever before; Jill makes similar claims, but she’s not SJ. Even if it were so, this would be a difference between SJ and anti-SJ, not a similarity.

            Government is completely dysfunctional to the point of not being able to accomplish basic tasks, yet simultaneously power is being consolidated to the point where politicians can do whatever they want unchallenged.

            This actually isn’t a contradiction. But I’m unaware of either SJ or anti-SJ claiming the government is completely dysfunctional to the point of not being able to accomplish basic tasks.

            That career options are hopeless for women and minorities when the last two Democratic nominees (and probably Presidents) were a woman and a black guy

            Yes, that’s what SJ claims.

            , and left-wing political correctness is rampant and stifling when the current Republican nominee won while calling Mexican immigrants rapists, talking about his dick size during the debates, and calling AGW a Chinese hoax to kill American manufacturing. Srsly?

            And this is what anti-SJ claims… see, again, they’re different. Some of us on the anti-SJ side hope that Trump means that the reign of stifling political correctness is ending, but of course Trump has to win for that to be the case. If he fails, it was just the Battle of the Bulge.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Nybbler:
            There’s probably not much point in continuing this forever since it seems unlikely we’ll reach any consensus in this particular exchange, and I feel I already stated my position at length, but imo you’re getting too caught up in the object-level differences to see the meta-level similarities. See the Robbers Cave experiment – there were plenty of object-level differences, e.g. the Eagles refusing to curse compared to the Rattlers, based on some kind of fortuitous circumstance, iirc – but the meta-level behaviors were nearly identical to everyone outside the two groups.

            Also again see the stuff about slippery terminology – there’s a lot of stuff there about what “SJ” and “anti-SJ” do/don’t believe and who is or isn’t which one, but it all becomes kind of meaningless when half the time “SJ” and “the left” and “the Democrats” and “Blue Tribe” are all being used interchangeably because internally people are barely making the distinction. Most comments here either equate “SJ” with “the left” (both already an abstract ill-defined amorphous blob of people and opinions) or don’t make the distinction, and the entire series of responses was based around the distinction not really mattering anyway.

            I’m unaware of either SJ or anti-SJ claiming the government is completely dysfunctional to the point of not being able to accomplish basic tasks.

            Accusation made frequently, depending on the scope of “basic tasks.” See for instance Mann & Ornstein’s It’s Even Worse Than It Looks regarding the debt ceiling, 2013 government shutdown, use of filibusters, among other things. Though I was thinking of various comments similar to one you made earlier, i.e.:

            No, we can’t, for the same reason we can’t build any other major infrastructure, PLUS all the anti-nuke stuff piled on top.

            Maybe I misinterpreted your meaning…

          • The Nybbler says:

            imo you’re getting too caught up in the object-level differences to see the meta-level similarities. See the Robbers Cave experiment – there were plenty of object-level differences, e.g. the Eagles refusing to curse compared to the Rattlers, based on some kind of fortuitous circumstance, iirc – but the meta-level behaviors were nearly identical to everyone outside the two groups.

            Sure there’s meta-level similarities. But just because you can have meta-level similarities with unimportant object-level differences doesn’t mean that whenever there are meta-level similarities, the object-level differences are unimportant. That’s the easy “a pox on both your houses” way out.

            No, we can’t, for the same reason we can’t build any other major infrastructure, PLUS all the anti-nuke stuff piled on top.

            Maybe I misinterpreted your meaning…

            I say stuff like that, but I don’t think it’s related to SJ, and others who are anti-SJ would disagree with me. I’m anti-SJ but that does not completely define me.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            The parallel was that extremist stuff by people on the left is constantly being disavowed by more sane people on the left

            @Zombielicious: Can you provide some examples of social justice-style extremism being disavowed by anyone of any meaningful stature on the left? ‘Cos other than a couple of random pundits such as Jonathan Chait who are willing to stand up to them, I’m having a hard time thinking of any examples of that.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Zombielicious:

            I mean if I really wanted to sink to this level, I could bring up stuff like Trump’s refusal to explicitly disavow David Duke

            If you did, you’d be spreading a myth. Trump has explicitly disavowed David Duke with great frequency and consistency. Are there so few actual issues to be annoyed with Trump over that there’s a need to make up fake ones like this?

            From CNN:

            Trump said he wanted to make clear that he rebukes Duke “as quick as you can say it.”
            “Because last time with another person in this position, I did it very quickly. And they said, ‘He didn’t do it fast enough,’ ” Trump said. “Rebuked. Is that OK? Rebuked, done.”

            Or if you prefer the WashPo quote collection:

            I disavowed today on ABC with George Stephanopoulos, I disavowed again. I mean, how many times are you supposed to disavow? But I disavow and hopefully it’s the final time I have to do it.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @ThirteenthLetter:
            Honestly, not going to take the time right now, cause last time I provided a list of examples of that kind of stuff (think it was about “prominent Republicans calling liberals traitors”) it ended up in giant pointless pedantry over what “prominent” meant.

            Quite frankly people who are convinced the entire left side of the spectrum is a giant conspiracy to destroy their lives, to the point where it’s unimaginable there’s disagreement over any possible act, or that Jonathan Chait must be the only one, aren’t going to be convinced by such examples. I didn’t really have high expectations for persuading them, so much as maybe a few people on the margin to not see the world so much in black and white.

            Plus I’ve spent a lot of time on this discussion already – need to get back to doing real work at some point.

            @Glen Raphael:
            You seem to be correct. I suppose that’s good news. Sorry for the mistake – not like I closely follow Trump’s every appearance.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @Zombielicious: Your call, but the visible takeaway from this sudden bowing-out is that you can’t think of any other examples of prominent Democrats disavowing social justice types, even to toss out in your last post on the thread.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Zombielicious:

            Most comments here either equate “SJ” with “the left” (both already an abstract ill-defined amorphous blob of people and opinions) or don’t make the distinction

            Hmph. I certainly do equate “SJ” with “SJW” but don’t really equate either one with “the left”. The association of SJ with “the left” feels almost accidental.

            Much of the strongest anti-SJ sentiment – including my own – COMES FROM the left. Perhaps you’ve seen John Cleese (also here) or Jerry Seinfeld or other comics speaking out against political correctness on campus? “The left” used to champion free speech – including offensive speech – against all opposition. (eg: “The answer to bad speech is more speech”). That strain of “the left” still exists and it is generally appalled at the same SJ stuff that appalls the rest of us.

            “The left” includes our own Jill, and Cleese, and lots of other people who have nothing to do with SJ.

            So you’re right that I see little difference between SJ and SJW (for reasons others have given above), but you’re wrong that I (or people like me) count either one as the same as “the left”. (I still hold out hope that “the left” might eventually recover from the damage SJ-gone-amuck has been doing to its reputation.)

          • Zombielicious says:

            @ThirteenthLetter:
            Jonathan Haidt and Steven Pinker have both been explicit about not liking the SJ stuff on college campuses, to the point where Haidt stopped donating to his alma mater over it, and I quit following them both on Twitter because I got sick of hearing about it rather than actual science. Also Obama, actually, regarding the same stuff about SJ on college campuses.

            That’s “off the top of my head.” Now forgive me if I ignore the endless pedantry about what statements count as “meaningful” or who’s a “prominent Democrat.”

          • Fahundo says:

            Much of the strongest anti-SJ sentiment – including my own – COMES FROM the left. Perhaps you’ve seen John Cleese (also here) or Jerry Seinfeld or other comics speaking out against political correctness on campus? “The left” used to champion free speech – including offensive speech – against all opposition. (eg: “The answer to bad speech is more speech”). That strain of “the left” still exists and it is generally appalled at the same SJ stuff that appalls the rest of us.

            “The left” includes our own Jill, and Cleese, and lots of other people who have nothing to do with SJ.

            Yeah, this is how I always understood it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Whereas the “social justice” movement absolutely does exist. It is a large collection of actual people who are easy to find and proudly proclaim their support for the cause. (Many have tumblr blogs.)

            The motte, which you’ve correctly identified, does not consist of large numbers of people. Nor anyone at all with any appreciable power. It’s only when you conveniently switch to the bailey that the numbers become huge.

            And while there may not be people that identify as part of the patriarchy per se, there are certainly those who openly advocate that women ought to have no role outside the home. Some of them even occasionally post on this blog.

            I have to agree with the broad strokes of zombie’s thesis — the vast bulk of so-called SJWs and anti-SJW-warriors have a lot in common. An extremely skewed view of the importance of their “war” for one thing. A penchant for histrionics for another.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            That’s “off the top of my head.” Now forgive me if I ignore the endless pedantry about what statements count as “meaningful” or who’s a “prominent Democrat.”

            Hey, it’s a free country. I’ll just point out that none of those were disavowing any particular person, as is endlessly demanded of right-wingers, and one of them was kind of a gimme as I’m the first person who brought up Haidt.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @ThirteenthLetter:
            Not that it matters, but you actually said Jonathan Chait; I said Haidt, the Righteous Mind guy. See your earlier post.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @Zombielicious: Ooh, you’re right. Sorry, I should have read more carefully.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Anon:

            The motte, which you’ve correctly identified, does not consist of large numbers of people. Nor anyone at all with any appreciable power. It’s only when you conveniently switch to the bailey that the numbers become huge.

            I notice I am confused: What parts of what I said are you considering the motte and when did I “switch to the bailey” – can you be more specific? Are you claiming the kind of blogs featured in the lists I gave AREN’T in the motte? (None of them? Not even, say, yourfaveisproblematic?)

            Once defined: how do you know the motte doesn’t consist of “large numbers of people” – do you have a numeric estimate, or is it more of a vague hunch?

            And while there may not be people that identify as part of the patriarchy per se, there are certainly those who openly advocate that women ought to have no role outside the home.

            When you say “openly advocate”, I take that to mean willing to do so non-anonymously. (To say such things under an internet handle would be better described as “surreptitiously advocate”). Thus, I don’t think I know anybody who fits that description – do you?

          • Anonymous says:

            I notice I am confused: What parts of what I said are you considering the motte and when did I “switch to the bailey” – can you be more specific? Are you claiming the kind of blogs featured in the lists I gave AREN’T in the motte? (None of them? Not even, say, yourfaveisproblematic?)

            Tumblr “social justice warriors” are the motte. You can always retreat back to them when you want to find something unimpeachably stupid and offensive.

            But they don’t have the numbers or the power needed to feed the hyteria and sense of purpose of the anti-SJW-W. Hence as soon as anyone stops looking the argument moves from these concrete unpleasents to vague references to anyone that takes any left wing positions on any non-economic issue.

            When you say “openly advocate”, I take that to mean willing to do so non-anonymously. (To say such things under an internet handle would be better described as “surreptitiously advocate”). Thus, I don’t think I know anybody who fits that description – do you?

            Yes of course. Just how tiny is your world? If it doesn’t happen on tumblr or 4chan or the one of your favorite blog comment sections, then it never happened?

            The only non-anonymous speech that ever occurs anywhere is by David Friedman and Milo Yiannopoulos?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @Zombielicious:

            meta-level similarities

            At the risk of Godwinning this sub-thread, if you went back in time to Germany c. 1939, you’d probably have been able to find meta-level similarities between the Nazis and the German Jews, insofar as both would have believed that the other group was a threat to them, both would have felt under siege by hostile outsiders, etc. Does it follow that both groups were equally wrong, or equally as bad as each other?

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Anon:

            Tumblr “social justice warriors” are the motte.

            Then we’re agreed that the motte exists and that I referred to some concrete examples of it – that’s a start…

            Hence as soon as anyone stops looking the argument moves from these concrete unpleasents to vague references to anyone that takes any left wing positions on any non-economic issue.

            …and there’s the confusing part – this “moving to the bailey” seems to be something you’re imagining, not something I said. As a left-libertarian I myself have a left-wing position on most non-economic issues. So am I in my own argument’s bailey? That’s not really how motte/bailey is supposed to work, is it? So…still confused.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @teal (?) anonymous (and Zombielicious I suppose):

            I have to agree with the broad strokes of zombie’s thesis — the vast bulk of so-called SJWs and anti-SJW-warriors have a lot in common. An extremely skewed view of the importance of their “war” for one thing. A penchant for histrionics for another.

            They also both frequently have reached really weird conclusions about what the problem is, who their opponents are, etc.

          • pku says:

            Re: prominent liberals disavowing extremist social justice: Obama speaking against liberal extremism.

            Re: Social justice bailey: The Motte is people who believe in the models of privilege and toxic environment, who think STEM is openly hostile to women and structurally tries to keep minorities out, who talk about racism and rape culture as though they’re things most people support and they’re brave for opposing (Those are all separate beliefs that don’t necessarily imply each other, but they do cluster).

            This doesn’t mean they’re all fanatic evil warriors or something like that. Many of my friends believe all those things, and I still like them because, a few beliefs I disagree with aside, they’re good people. But those are bad and harmful belief, and I am opposed to them. (You don’t need to destroy social justice people, but the social justice should be taken out of the people..). And people who believe all this are pretty common.

            To clarify the bailey I don’t want to hold: Belief in concrete problems we need to solve, such as “minorities are disproportionately exposed to lead and other environmental toxins”, “black people are the target of disproportionate police violence”, or “the reason fewer minorities are in STEM fields is lack of access to education” are all reasonable beliefs (the first two seem true; I don’t know about the last one).

          • Anonymous says:

            Tumblr “social justice warriors” are the motte.

            Then we’re agreed that the motte exists and that I referred to some concrete examples of it – that’s a start…

            A handful of kids on tumblr are posting crazy shit. Thanks Obama!

          • I think the motte/bailey distinction is getting confusing here, and I think I know why.

            Suppose there is a small group of people X who hold some extreme and indefensible set of views, a larger group Y that contains X plus many more people in some ways a little similar to them. Looked at from the point of view of X, the views of Y are what they can easily defend, their own views what they actually hold.

            Viewed from the point of view of a critic of Y, the views of X are what he can easily attack, Y who he wants to attribute them to.

            At this point I’m getting confused about the whole motte/bailey metaphor, but I think this shows why they switch as you switch viewpoints.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Social Justice is a set of beliefs that are mostly within the Overton Window. That set of beliefs is defensible, and its supporters think it will help us create a more just society. Everyone agrees that it also creates SJWs/SJW behavior, though there’s no consensus on what behavior is over the line, either within society as a whole or within Social Justice itself.

            Based on my own experience and observation, I have concluded that Social Justice ideology itself is intrinsically self-contradictory, with SJW abuse spirals and general toxicity being one of the more common failure modes. From this I conclude that while Social Justice can be defended, I am not interested in defending it. I think it’s a bankrupt ideology and we’re going to have to figure out some other way to solve the problems it claims to address. I think arguing this is a useful and interesting way to spend my time, as Social Justice is a highly influential ideology at the moment, and I think it likely that it does a great deal more harm than good.

            This is not a motte and bailey because I am not conflating or equivocating between the two groups. SJWs are not a central example of Social Justice, though I believe they are a consequence of it. I do think Social Justice is a pretty central example of the left, but would be interested in arguments to the contrary.

            @Zombielicious – I think your equivalence argument ignores the extent to which one side is on the offensive and the other on the defensive, at least as recently as a year or so ago. Also it seems to me that any protracted conflict has to hit some level of equivalence, otherwise the conflict resolves itself in short order when the stronger side wins outright. In other words, I think what you’re objecting to is the inescapable form of social conflict, which is a strong argument for it not being fixable.

          • TheWorst says:

            @ The Nybbler

            I’m unaware that there are SJ claims that politics in the US have moved further right than ever before

            For whatever it’s worth, I’ve heard those claims before. It’s both true and not true, since “politics in the US” is sufficiently large and sufficiently non-unitary that it’s meaningless to describe which direction “it” is moving in.

            @ David Friedman

            I disagree.

            Winning the nomination doesn’t require support from a majority of the party, just a plurality of those who vote in primaries (slight oversimplification).

            Membership in the Republican Party is not mandatory. If you actually want Trump not to represent you, there are actions you can take to make it so he doesn’t.

            If you choose to have Gary Johnson represent you, and you are successful, then Gary Johnson represents you. I can’t imagine that you’re unaware that the nomination process exists, or that party membership is not mandatory.

            I’m a registered Democrat, because I’m a conservative. I didn’t leave the party when Hillary won (for the same reason). That means if I claim that Hillary doesn’t represent me, you’re more than free to laugh at me. Basically, when you make a choice, that’s the choice you made, and no one is obligated to pretend you didn’t make it.

            @HBC:

            I even pointed out recently that SJW was more and more often being used as a generalized slur aimed at the left and was losing its specificity in use. This is just further evidence of that progression.

            While it’s true that “the left” has, in the comments here, gone from representing actual people and actual viewpoints to being Generalized Bogeyman, this specific section has a problem. Once the difference between the classic “SJW” and the average person who uses the phrase “social justice” becomes undetectable from the outside, no one is obligated to differentiate the two.

            It’s the same as the (largely notional) civil war between Trumpies and regular republicans: It happened, the anti-trumpies lost, and now it’s the party of Trump. They had a formal decision process and everything. Now, everyone has a choice of whether or not to be a member of the Trump-party, and if you choose to be a member of the Trump-led party, none of the rest of us are obligated to pretend not to notice.

            @pku:

            I wonder if this isn’t an effect of right/left split becoming cultural rather than political – people who would have become traditionally racist but grew up in a liberal environment become SJWs instead.

            For whatever it’s worth, I’ve got that suspicion too. It mostly started when that study came out showing that your political alignment is mostly determined by where you spend your formative years. Poor rationality isn’t inherently a trait of either “side,” but sometimes one side is better-optimized for collecting them. And both sides want to be, since the non-rational are exceedingly numerous and they have a lot more potential for (and interest in) the “unthinking doctrine-enforcer” role.

            @Dr. Beat

            When am I permitted to notice the things people say to me and respond to things I noticed?

            Whenever both the thing that was said and your response are flattering to people who are used to exploiting social advantages against you. It’s odd that people are accusing you of being too critical of other people who are just expressing their opinion, when that opinion is “Thou Shalt Not Criticize Powerful Bullies.”

          • “and if you choose to be a member of the Trump-led party, none of the rest of us are obligated to pretend not to notice.”

            Being a member of a political party in the U.S. doesn’t imply agreement with the current presidential candidate. When Goldwater got nominated, Rockefeller didn’t resign from the party.

          • TheWorst says:

            Being a member of a political party in the U.S. doesn’t imply agreement with the current presidential candidate.

            Yes, it does. That’s the point of having a political party. If you don’t agree with the direction of the party, you join a different one. Party membership is a choice.

            If the party goes cartoon-supervillain and you don’t leave, then your membership in Team Cartoon Supervillain is a choice you’re making. No one is obligated to pretend you’re making a different choice, or that it’s something that happened to you. Even if it’s very rude to point out that the people you’ve chosen to represent you are terrible people.

            When Goldwater got nominated, Rockefeller didn’t resign from the party.

            Are you under the impression that this supports your point? It seems like at best a non-sequitur, and at worst an illustration that Rockefeller’s policy differences with Goldwater were inconsequential. Which is my point.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            There’s a sort of delicious irony that registered Republican never-Trump voters get thrown in the basket of deplorables while Trump fanboys who are still registered Democrat (like yours truly) get to sit on the sidelines eating popcorn.

            Thank God for anonymous voting. All you would-be witchfinder generals would have a much easier time of it otherwise.

          • @the worst:

            You are arguing by assertion. I point out that when a candidate whose views were very different from Nelson Rockefeller’s got the nomination Rockefeller didn’t leave the party, and your response is that that that shows their differences were inconsequential–i. e. that any evidence against your claim can be explained away if you first assume your claim to be true.

            I don’t know if you are from the U.S., but you are not describing how parties work in the U.S. For quite a long time, the Democratic party contained both a left wing based in the North and a right wing based in the South, with the average Republican position arguably in between them. A party is a political coalition, not a consistent ideology.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The parties that could produce an ideological split like Rockefeller and Goldwater are gone. Those parties could contain ideological splits that were mostly geographic in nature. Rockefeller was a liberal from the Northeast who would be purged from the modern Republican Party. In ’64 George Wallace’s embrace of segregation still resided in the Democratic Party. Blacks still voted Republican.

            But party ideological differences from state to state and region to region have been greatly reduced. National media and internet exposure has made this possible and greatly reduced the local first news coverage that allowed these differences to flourish.

            As to needing to leave the Republican Party because Trump was nominated? No. But in many ways Trump isn’t really that much of an outlier in terms of popular Republican figures. To the extent that Republican politicians keep having to play to the same kinds of preferences that Trump represents, than if one finds that unacceptable, and you can’t beat it, you should consider leaving.

            For instance, if the Democratic Party politicians were to start looking more and more like Alan Grayson, and less and less like Obama and HRC, I would be wondering whether I could stop it by getting involved at the local level, and if not, I’d be thinking about not identifying as Dem.

          • Matt M says:

            “Rockefeller was a liberal from the Northeast who would be purged from the modern Republican Party.”

            Did I miss Mitt Romney being purged from the Republican party?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            Mitt Romney is no Nelson Rockefeller.

            Pro choice. Favored government spending to solve problems via a social welfare state. Did not think government spending should be cut.

            Yeah, he favored some of the tax cuts that were eventually enacted from the top 91% marginal rate, but also favored closing loopholes favoring high income earners at the same time.

          • Matt M says:

            Society has shifted generally.

            Romney, by any modern standard, is a liberal Republican. And not only has he not been drummed out of the party, but the last time he actually ran for anything, Republicans elected him as their national representative, and in the likely event that Trump loses, he (and other Never Trump republicans) will probably see a huge spike in power and influence.

            This just seems like an odd time to me to pull the “the parties are more extreme and divided than ever!” card. The GOP has a very noticeable contingent of people who are publicly stating that they refuse to support the candidate. The Democrats have some amount of Bernie supporting Democrats who won’t vote for Hillary (not as many as the Never Trump Republicans, but probably more than say, Hillary supporters who wouldn’t vote for Obama in 08).

            Compared to recent elections, we seem to be less politically polarized than we’ve been in the past – not more. There seems to be a fairly large bipartisan consensus that Trump and Hillary both leave a lot to be desired.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            “is a liberal Republican.”

            Romney isn’t a liberal. He might be more moderate than many other Republicans, but he isn’t to the left of center in American political thought. But he still was pro-life, favored reducing social welfare programs and wanted a whole set of huge regressive tax cuts.

            Whereas Rockefeller was actually, genuinely liberal, favoring the opposite of all of those things.

            I have no idea what point you think you are making, but you aren’t making it.

          • Matt M says:

            “But he still was pro-life, favored reducing social welfare programs and wanted a whole set of huge regressive tax cuts.”

            Or so he claimed, while in the process of receiving the nomination. Perhaps looking at his record would suggest he was exaggerating a bit. IIRC social conservatives were fine with holding their nose and voting for him, but they were always pretty suspicious that he wasn’t really pro-life and his campaign never really did figure out how to address the whole “Obamacare was modeled after a system you created and championed” deal.

            I don’t know much about Rockefeller nor do I claim to. The only point I am trying to make is that I see no particular evidence for the oft-repeated claim that the political parties are becoming more and more “extreme” and intolerant of opposing viewpoints. The differences between Romney and Trump are significant, and only four years apart. Hell the differences between Hillary and Obama are somewhat significant, at least compared to say Bill Clinton and Gore, or Bob Dole and GWB, or Reagan and GHWB, or Carter and Mondale, etc.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            The fact that you don’t know much about Rockefeller or Rockefeller Republicans should make you pause and re-parse what I am saying, not dismiss it.

            Rockefeller was well left of political center. Romney is not. Right of center Democrats also used to exist, and do not anymore. It’s not so much that the parties have gotten”extreme” but that they no longer overlap, meaning the center of each party is farther apart from the other now.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Good lord this conversation thread is long. Took forever to scroll up.

            Regarding left-Republicans and right-Democrats – the first problem is that in the US the left now means the Democrat view, and right now means the Republican view.

            The second problem is that historically, in most parts of the country, there was only one political party. If you wanted to challenge the incumbent mayor, you ran against him in the primary, not the general election. In the South, the Democrats perpetuated constant voter fraud to keep the Republicans out, which only ended when one of the Voter Rights Acts required voting laws to be approved by federal judges. (Elections in the North could be somewhat more competitive, but generally weren’t.)

            Third, in classic terms, Trump is clearly more Left-leaning than Hillary. He’s explicitly and deliberately catering to the proletariat vote, whereas she’s explicitly catering to the bourgeois and lumpenproletariat votes. There’s not even a contest there.

            Which brings us back to #1: Left and Right have been redefined explicitly to the views of modern Democrats and Republicans. Pointing to historic Republicans and comparing them to modern Republicans tells you nothing at all about how partisan things are compared to then; Left and Right meant entirely different things then.

          • Matt M says:

            HBC,

            Perhaps we’re also thinking in terms of different time-windows.

            I will concede that you are likely right that the parties are more extreme or apart or whatever word you wish to use than they were in the 1950s-1960s.

            My point is that they are NOT more extreme or apart or whatever word you wish to use than they were in the 1980s-1990s.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            The 90s marks the big shift, with ’94 being the “beginning of the end” of the shift that began in 1964. The Republicans finally broke through in the house.

            But you are simply dismissing the long tail of of incumbency and how that effects left/right ideology and party shift. You only have to go back to 2008 to see as clear and stark an example of this as you would like, with the former Democrat, re-elected as an independent, Joe Lieberman actively campaigning on behalf of McCain. That guy doesn’t come close to sniffing a Dem nomination today (if he were a brand new candidate), which is why he had to run as an independent. Even as an incumbent he lost his primary.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          That is to say: Trump isn’t the “Hey, maybe, y’know, the Thirty Years’ War was a bad thing” candidate. He’s the “Looks like another Thirty Years’ War is coming, better arm my side!” candidate, for those that would be “on his side” in such a thing. Which is how you bring such a thing closer.

          From my perspective, the actions of the SJ movement and the political left as a whole over the past few years indicate that they aren’t interested in compromise, even of the minimal “We’ll let you have your own little ghettoes where you can do your own thing, now stay out of mainstream society” kind. Which is to say, the only two options are abject surrender or another Thirty Years’ War, and since surrender isn’t really an option, I guess that just leaves the TYW.

        • So, who is my other option?

          I think Trump is an idiot and dangerous.

          On the other hand, I will never vote Democrat again, as long as I live. They need to be permanently punished for their progressive and SJW tilt the last 8 years.

          Trump is the only person at the top of the ticket who might be able to stop the Democrats from winning.

          So Trump it is. Make America….Something!

          I agree with Other Scott that Trump is dangerous, but Other Scott’s opinion is basically “Trump doesn’t respect Enlightenment Norms or current political norms.”
          Awesome, that’s why we have three branches of government.
          How is Trump going to open up libel laws? He needs to pass an Amendment, and then have the liberals on the SC actually read it. Given that they “discovered” Gay Rights that were hidden for over a century, I have no doubt they will “discover” that free speech isn’t located in the 1st Amendment at all.
          How is Trump going to execute ISIS families or nuke ISIS? He needs to operate within the structure of the military on that front.
          How can Trump ban Muslim immigration without support from either the Courts or the bureaucracy?
          How can he pay the national debt at a discount? He is Constitutionally obligated to ensure faith and full credit, so far as I know.

          The US has a robust system that is specifically designed to handle the likes of Donald Trump.

          The US has a system that absolutely will decay with time under sustained attack by SJWs and Progressive elements. See how “Gay Marriage” is now law of the land, and DC vs. Heller will probably be “revisited” once Hillary crams her Justice down our throats. To say nothing of parading illegal immigrants around on a national stage.
          I hope you don’t plan on having your own vegetable garden in your backyard. That’s interstate commerce, dontcha know!

          Hillary Clinton and the various Progressives are several orders of magnitude more dangerous than Trump.

          Hell Trump is so hated he might very well be the first President successfully impeached. Did we all forget that exists? Did we forget Nixon and Andrew Johnson?

          • Fahundo says:

            How is Trump going to execute ISIS families or nuke ISIS? He needs to operate within the structure of the military on that front.

            The President currently can order people killed by drone strikes without any checks or balances on it. Obama already had an American citizen executed for being a suspected terrorist. I doubt Trump would have a hard time killing families if he really wanted to. No idea about nukes though.

          • He’s not checked by the other branches. He is checked by military officers, unless he wants to try to outright lie to them.
            We don’t know exactly what went on in those Obama decisions, but presumably the military agreed that these American citizens were extraordinary threats that needed to be taken out.
            More correctly, the military INFORMED Obama that these were extraordinary threats, and need to be taken out. They were already on board.

            General: This American citizen is plotting terrorist attacks against other Americans.
            Obama: Damn. Kill him.

            General: This Iraqi is plotting terrorist attacks against Americans.
            Trump: I want you to find and murder his family.

            There’s a difference in that. Obama is a veto-point, not an agent of change. Trump is actively ordering a policy and needs other people to go along with it.

            I don’t think the military will be on board with murdering families.

          • Fahundo says:

            There’s a difference in that. Obama is a veto-point, not an agent of change.

            Granting that, I think a more conventional politician is more likely to veto attacks of the “let’s kill this guy because of alleged terrorist ties” variety than Trump would be.

          • While I agree, “Trump is more likely to kill the people who want to hurt us” is not an argument against Trump.

            “Trump will turn the US into a dystopian dictatorship” is MUCH more convincing. Especially since I fall in the “American” category. Most terrorists and suspected terrorists definitely fall in the “Not American” category.

            However, Progressives have spent the last century and a half telling people that the Constitution is an old relic that needs to be “living” and “adapted.”
            And by god they have proven it!
            So in the category of “nightmare dystopias,” Trump is much less scary than Hillary.

          • Fahundo says:

            While I agree, “Trump is more likely to kill the people who want to hurt us” is not an argument against Trump.

            That’s not the argument. The argument is that he’s more likely to kill people that he suspects want to hurt us without bothering to make sure.

            Most terrorists and suspected terrorists definitely fall in the “Not American” category.

            Most people in the world fall into the “not American” category. If you want to narrow that to “most people who are involved in terrorist acts against the United States” then it may be true now, but it hasn’t historically been true, and I have no reason to believe it will always be.

            However, Progressives have spent the last century and a half telling people that the Constitution is an old relic that needs to be “living” and “adapted.”

            And conservatives were doing the same thing, when it suited them.

          • “Trump is more likely to kill people suspected of hurting Americans” is also not a convincing argument against Trump. I highly doubt this attack has any ability to sway significant numbers of Americans against him.

            As for American terrorist groups, again, Trump isn’t the agent of change, he is the veto point. So when you “worry” about Trump prosecuting Americas, you really mean you worry about the police, intelligence services, and military prosecuting Americans.
            I reject this immediately and do not feel any need to demonstrate evidence to the contrary.

            Also, if the military wanted to implement a police state, they wouldn’t way for President Trump to enable them. They’d just do it. See: Turkey.

            Your comment on Conservatives is entirely besides the point, especially since Trump isn’t a Conservative. The Progressive Movement is older, healthier, and stronger.

          • Fahundo says:

            “Trump is more likely to kill people suspected of hurting Americans” is also not a convincing argument against Trump.

            I don’t see why not. Killing people on suspicion alone strikes me as conflicting with American values.

            As for American terrorist groups, again, Trump isn’t the agent of change, he is the veto point

            The disposition matrix is curated not by the military or the police, but by the NCTC, which was formed under executive order. They don’t publicly release the process by which people make the list, so I’m not sure why you’re so confident the President has nothing to do with it.

            Your comment on Conservatives is entirely besides the point

            Relevant insofar as I think it’s unfair to act as if the progressives are the only problem group.

          • Jiro says:

            Obama already had an American citizen executed for being a suspected terrorist.

            I often think that this is really a problem with birthright citizenship, not with killing terrorists. Typically, cases of American citizens killed in this way involve people who were born in America to foreign parents, lived in America for a short time, and were raised overseas, returning to America only for college. It is unlikely that most of these people are culturally American.

            Also, I don’t see “Trump will do it. You know, just like Obama did” to be a very good criticism of Trump. So he’ll do nonpartisan bad things–they’re nonpartisan; you can’t control them by voting for the other person.

          • Fahundo says:

            I often think that this is really a problem with birthright citizenship, not with killing terrorists. Typically, cases of American citizens killed in this way involve people who were born in America to foreign parents, lived in America for a short time, and were raised overseas, returning to America only for college. It is unlikely that most of these people are culturally American.

            Is “it’s unlikely” all it takes to decide that it was ok for someone to die?

            For the record, I don’t think it’s acceptable to kill people on suspicion alone just because they happen to be from the other side of an imaginary line, but I was hoping the American citizen aspect would count for something.

            Also, I don’t see “Trump will do it. You know, just like Obama did” to be a very good criticism of Trump.

            More like “Obama obviously cares what the world thinks of him, and yet is still willing to kill like this. I don’t trust a guy whose defining trait is not giving a fuck what people think to be more restrained.”

          • Skef says:

            @A Definite Beta Guy:

            You seem to have a very idiosyncratic view of the political “checks” in the U.S. system of government. If I understand you right, you’re arguing that we don’t need to worry about Trump doing terrible things with the military because officers can just refuse to follow the orders of the civilian leadership when necessary. That sort of scenario isn’t usually called a “check” so much as a “constitutional crisis”.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @skef

            +1

            Our political system was not designed to be pushed to it’s breaking point. I’d rather not see it tested.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Wrong Species:

            Our political system was not designed to be pushed to it’s breaking point. I’d rather not see it tested.

            Speaking as a former QA engineer, I think periodic testing of complex systems – even including testing “to the breaking point” – is really important.

          • “So, who is my other option?”

            Gary Johnson. Or not voting.

            The chance of your vote affecting the outcome is very close to zero–even closer if you live in a non-swing state, as I do (California). The only reasons I can think of to vote for a candidate are either as a symbolic act, like cheering for a football team, or to increase by one that candidate’s published vote total–the latter being a pretty weak reason.

            I would much rather cheer for Gary Johnson, who is a libertarian even if, at the moment, a rather watered down one, than for either Trump or Clinton. Adding one vote to his total isn’t worth much, but it’s at least more visible than one vote added to the much larger totals for the major party candidates.

          • pku says:

            @Glen:

            Pretty sure that should be done in a controlled environment. You don’t start testing your sword’s breaking tension in the middle of a battle.

          • If I understand you right, you’re arguing that we don’t need to worry about Trump doing terrible things with the military because officers can just refuse to follow the orders of the civilian leadership when necessary. That sort of scenario isn’t usually called a “check” so much as a “constitutional crisis”.

            Which is an absolute worst-case scenario unless you think the military actually consists of baby-killers, which is nonsense.

            Again:
            Trump: Go murder an entire village!
            General: No.

            General: Did you know Trump ordered me to slaughter tens of thousands of people?
            Ryan: Guess our worst nightmares are true. We better impeach him.
            Reid: Yep.

            *unanimous vote to remove Trump from office*

            Done.
            There’s your horrible worst-case scenario.

            And to the commenter who said the system wasn’t designed to handle this, it was explicitly designed to handle this. That’s why we have an impeachment mechanism.

            What the Constitution is NOT able to design is the American Public losing Republican Virtue and deciding to disregard the Amendment Process and “evolve” the Constitution through judicial fiat. Again, that is also explicit.
            But what is the chief driver of that?

            The American system is designed to handle and defeat Trump. It is not designed to handle and defeat Progressives.

            Over the long-term, Hillary is VASTLY more dangerous in terms of Executive Power as well. Trump has no credibility and cannot expand the power of the Executive through Norm.

            Meanwhile even Obama was killing Americans through extra-judicial processes and happily supporting PRISM.

            If you think TRUMP did the same, what do you think would happen? Again, instant impeachment, and that would be a norm in politics to NEVER do ever again, similar to “don’t secede” is now baked into the pie.

            If your concern is an excess of executive power, Trump is STILL the better candidate.

            @David
            Fair point, but I do not find the libertarian agenda compelling. So GJ and the Libertarians are actually inferior to Trump my POV.
            I ran into the same problem in ’08. I live in IL, so my vote is irrelevant, but all the Third Parties annoyed me, so I wrote-in N Gregory Mankiw.
            I could do the same in this election, but at this point I prefer to signal Party Loyalty and have faith in collective action.

          • Matt M says:

            The notion that the military would refuse to carry out “unlawful” orders is a joke. History is full of countless examples of various militaries (including the U.S.) committing a wide variety of atrocities.

            I love generals who stand up and say “We wouldn’t torture people just because Trump orders us to because that’s a war crime” even though we know that they were torturing people as recently as 10 years ago. Or “we wouldn’t kill civilians because that’s a war crime” when they’ve done that recently also.

            Trump’s greatest sin to the imperial class which rules us is that he is pulling back the curtain. He is not just showing us how the sausage is made, he is reveling in the process and celebrating it. This is what outrages people. This is what cannot be allowed to stand. The risk for the military is not “Trump might order us to commit war crimes.” Every President has done that and they’ve executed said orders without incident.

            No, the risk for the military is that Trump strips away the veneer. He takes away their ability to hide behind the notion that we are just and pure and different from the bad guys and we don’t do “those sorts of things” (despite frequent exposures of the fact that we totally do).

          • John Schilling says:

            Trump: Go murder an entire village!
            General: No.
            [impeachment]
            Done.
            There’s your horrible worst-case scenario.

            Are you really so lacking in imagination as to imagine that is a worst-case scenario?

            Try again, but start with the sort of incident that might technically qualify as an act of war, but that sensible people can back away from without losing control. Because things like that happen. They happen pretty much every presidential administration. And it isn’t murder to launch an airstrike in retaliation, it’s just stupid. Going nuclear when the conventional airstrikes backfire is just doubling down on stupidity, but still within the President’s legal authority. It is, however, mutiny to refuse to carry out a lawful-but-stupid order.

            Do you have any idea how much you are asking of them, when you assume that the US military will close ranks in mutiny against President Stupid when he goes and does something extra stupid in the face of some stupid little provocation?

          • Matt M says:

            And keep in mind that President Stupid is empowered to appoint people of his own choosing a few levels deep below him in the chain of command.

            The person whose job it is to actually pilot the drone that bombs the wedding is going to be about 20 layers of bureaucracy removed from Trump, and he’s not going to be “disobeying Trump” so much as he is disobeying his staff sergeant who doesn’t dare question orders because he wants a promotion to sergeant major.

            And anyone who has been in the military can probably tell you that when you disobey your staff sergeant, you are generally cast as a lazy malcontent that’s not a team player and an arrogant jackass who thinks he knows more about politics and law than the college educated officers appointed above him (in the Navy, these people were dismissively referred to as “sea lawyers”) rather than as a heroic defender of righteousness and human rights.

            And while you sit around chipping paint on restriction waiting for your eventual trial a few months later (where the verdict will be decided by a panel of college educated officers that you claimed to know better than), you will be quickly replaced by one of a thousand of your peers who won’t hesitate to press the button and make the wedding go boom because they want a promotion too.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Ryan: Guess our worst nightmares are true. We better impeach him.
            Reid: Yep.

            *unanimous vote to remove Trump from office*

            Based on the degree of control Ryan and the GOP have exhibited over Trump so far, the degree to which Trump has split the Republican party, and polarization between Democrats and Republicans, I’m not sure how likely your proposed endgame really is.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Speaking as a former QA engineer, I think periodic testing of complex systems – even including testing “to the breaking point” – is really important.

            Following on from Pku’s point above: while the argument I quote is fair enough, and some number of constitutional crises are inevitable and necessary, they really can be fraught and dangerous. Wikipedia lists 6 constitutional crises in the United States, two of which led to war: the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

            That’s obviously a worst case scenario for a constitutional crisis, and I imagine different people will have different views on how likely a Trump presidency is to spark such a dire crisis; but among the milder crises is Watergate, which I think most people agree is the sort of thing that is best avoided, even if it’s not an existential threat to the nation.

            Elsewhere in the world, constitutional crises have been occasions for coups, attempted coups, and authoritarians cementing power. Again, this is not to suggest that this is a particularly likely outcome for a Trump-generated crisis, but I think a norm against being too blithe about the possibility of a constitutional crisis has a strong case in its favour.

          • TheWorst says:

            @ A Definite Beta Guy:

            However, Progressives have spent the last century and a half telling people that the Constitution is an old relic that needs to be “living” and “adapted.”

            Conservatives do the same. So does the Constitution of the United States. The framers put in the amendment process themselves; it wasn’t invented later by “Progressives,” since they mostly didn’t exist at the time.

            @ Jiro:

            Also, I don’t see “Trump will do it. You know, just like Obama did” to be a very good criticism of Trump.

            Yes, this. Anyone who thinks Obama hasn’t been killing the families of suspected terrorists hasn’t been paying attention. Magic missiles don’t exist, so we’re limited to the ones that explode. When you fire the regular non-magical kind at a house, and it blows up the house that the suspected terrorist is suspected to be in, it kills his family. Even if he’s not in it.

            Even in the best case–he’s in it, his family isn’t–his family is now, for reasons that are extremely mysterious to us, very angry at the United States, and “linked” to a suspected terrorist. Which means we add them to the list of suspected terrorists, if they weren’t there already just for having “close family ties” to a suspected terrorist.

            We already bomb weddings, which, I have it on good authority, are often attended by families.

          • Matt M says:

            ” The framers put in the amendment process themselves;”

            This is a straw man – because no modern political debates are about actually amending the constitution in accordance with the process the framers outlined, because it’s too difficult and will obviously not succeed.

            The proponents of the “living, breathing, constitution” theory today are not saying “we need a constitutional amendment to allow more gun control,” rather they are saying “we need a president who will appoint supreme court justices who will interpret the second amendment in a way that allows us to enact more gun control.”

            The founders made it possible, but very difficult, to change the constitution. What people are arguing for today is that changing the constitution should be easily done by Presidential fiat, judicial activism, or legislative compromise. Therefore, they are not “agreeing with the founders.”

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Conservatives do the same. So does the Constitution of the United States. The framers put in the amendment process themselves; it wasn’t invented later by “Progressives,” since they mostly didn’t exist at the time.

            There is a huge difference between passing a new amendment (a process that was deliberately made very difficult) and “interpreting” an old amendment to say something completely different from what it says. A court that can find the rights to abortion and gay “marriage” buried in the 14th amendment or the right to regulate what you grow in your own backyard for your personal use hidden in the commerce clause is a court that can find anything in anything. Unlimited power to “interpret” the Constitution is functionally equivalent to unlimited power to rewrite the Constitution.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            @jaimeastorga2000

            Granting, for the sake of argument, your overall view of Constitutional law: What’s your alternative? The buck has to stop somewhere.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            How about “if you want the Constitution to be different, build up the political will to do it”?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Edward Scizorhands:
            It seems to me, that then, by your own words, you need to convince people that they need to put in place a constitutional amendment that tells SCOTUS a specific process by which to interpret the constitution.

            That, to me, is what this argument is about. The text does not constrain SCOTUS. It’s not as if the framers were unfamiliar with concepts of legal precedent, argument, and interpretation.

          • “… that the Constitution is an old relic that needs to be “living” and “adapted.”

            “The framers put in the amendment process themselves;”

            The usual complaint, reflected in the first quote, is about altering the Constitution by interpretation not amendment. For instance, in one famous case, by interpreting “interstate commerce” to include a farmer growing crops to be consumed on his own farm.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            Sure, but interpretation has to happen somehow. Or, rather, it doesn’t, but the practical effect of overturning Marbury v. Madison would be the effective repeal of the Constitution, which seems contrary to the goals of the posters here. At the end of the day, some people are going to believe that non-Constitutional laws conflict with Constitutional ones and accordingly seek clarification and redress. The process we have to do so isn’t perfect, but the proffered alternatives seem to boil down to a combination of wishful thinking and appointing justices that one agrees with.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I suspect that the only solution to the problem of constitutional interpretation is to have and maintain a strong norm of judges sticking close to the actual text, and not trying to twist the meaning based on what policies they’d like to see enacted.

            I also suspect that in America this norm has been pretty much damaged beyond repair, and that America is, consequently, doomed.

          • “but interpretation has to happen somehow.”

            The usual complaint is that what is actually happening is amendment disguised as interpretation. The “interpretation” of the power to regulate interstate commerce as the power to regulate anything that had any effect on interstate commerce, which is to say practically anything, is one example.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            Yes, I understand what laypeople think, David. My effort is to try and get them to understand that it’s more structurally/procedurally complex than they seem to think. More to the point, there is no possible structure that both empowers the Constitution and prevents “liberal” interpretations (airquoting “liberal” because it’s entirely possible to go the opposite direction, as in the Lochner era)–at some point human beings will need to make these decisions, and human beings are faliable.

            Ultimately, it’s nothing more than a political complaint (the people in this entirely necessary quasipolitical body don’t think the way I want them to think) gussied up as a structural critique (how come these unelected judges get to make law???).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @herbert herbertson – “Ultimately, it’s nothing more than a political complaint (the people in this entirely necessary quasipolitical body don’t think the way I want them to think) gussied up as a structural critique (how come these unelected judges get to make law???).”

            Say rather, it’s resistance to the growing realization that the Constitution doesn’t matter, and thus the Courts don’t matter. All that matters is the Overton Window. Control that and the rest fall in line; fail to control that, and the rest will not save you. This is an ugly realization that lends itself to ugly ideologies, but it is increasingly obvious that we are stuck with it. The Enlightenment was a lie; bring on the Inquisitors and the Commissars.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’ve lost track of all the different reasons America is doomed. Can I guess that this one, like the hyperinflation, is just around the corner?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Anonymous – “I’ve lost track of all the different reasons America is doomed. Can I guess that this one, like the hyperinflation, is just around the corner?”

            Two years ago Trump was unthinkable. The world where he was unthinkable was a more decent, more civilized world. Unfortunately, it was not a sustainable world. Your frequent comments here are an excellent example of why.

            One of the reasons the 1960s and 1970s played out the way they did was because people didn’t have the 1960s and 1970s to use as a historical model. They do now, and outcomes change accordingly. Status independence becomes increasingly important, and people will sacrifice increasing amounts of value to secure it.

          • “Yes, I understand what laypeople think, David.”

            As you surely know, the argument you are rejecting has been made by a fair number of legal scholars.

            “Ultimately, it’s nothing more than a political complaint (the people in this entirely necessary quasipolitical body don’t think the way I want them to think) gussied up as a structural critique (how come these unelected judges get to make law???).”

            As you just demonstrated with the example of the Lochner court, that’s not true. One can complain about amendment disguised as interpretation in either direction. Long ago I wrote a review of a book on Justice Fields entitled “Earl Warren in a White Hat.”

            Do you really see no difference between a judge who makes an honest effort to figure out what the implication of the text of the Constitution is and one who starts by figuring out what he thinks it should have said and then interprets it as saying that?

          • Matt M says:

            “Sure, but interpretation has to happen somehow. ”

            One improvement might be to decentralize the interpretation process and allow it to happen at the lowest possible level (i.e. nullification)

          • herbert herbertson says:

            “Do you really see no difference between a judge who makes an honest effort to figure out what the implication of the text of the Constitution is and one who starts by figuring out what he thinks it should have said and then interprets it as saying that?”

            Yes. The former is a judge while the latter is a straw-man made up by people who are unhappy with the result and usually don’t understand how it occurred.

            I don’t like or much respect Justice Alito. Unlike, say, Thomas, he doesn’t seek to have a clear set of principles that may sometimes lead him to break with the decision that a very conventional conservative would make as a political decision. But I don’t think he’s backronyzing; he’s just applying inherently-subjective human thought to the inherently-subjective medium of human language while being a person who has spent a life in a world where a certain way of thinking about law and language makes sense. The solution to an Alito or a Sotomayor isn’t to bleat about how they’re “wrong,” as if language is math, it’s to employ a democratic process so that the people in their positions come from from a representative sample of the worlds under their jurisdiction (while insulating it enough to allow for the Thomases and Souters to have the freedom to also do their thing). Which is what we have.

          • Jiro says:

            Yes. The former is a judge while the latter is a straw-man made up by people who are unhappy with the result and usually don’t understand how it occurred.

            So why did Heller split along party lines if not by judges interpreting the Constitution to conform with their ideology? Pure coincidence?

          • “Yes. The former is a judge while the latter is a straw-man made up by people who are unhappy with the result and usually don’t understand how it occurred.”

            Which was Stephen Field?

            What were the changes between the first Agricultural Adjustment Act and the second that made the former unconstitutional and the latter constitutional? Where in the Constitution does one find authority for the federal government to regulate the amount of corn a farmer grows on his own farm to feed to his own animals?

            Is your claim a factual one about what Supreme Courts have done or are you defining the problem out of existence? Is there any result you can imagine a majority of the Supreme Court, past or present, reaching that you would interpret as revision disguised as interpretation?

          • The notion that the military would refuse to carry out “unlawful” orders is a joke. History is full of countless examples of various militaries (including the U.S.) committing a wide variety of atrocities

            Like I said, the Constitution cannot protect you when the population or a sufficiently strong group of power-brokers redefines the Constitution to not include protecting you.

            For instance, internment of the Japanese, an apparently perfectly valid “interpretation” of federal power.

            However, the Constitution is very well designed to prevent a single madman from turning the whole country into a dictatorship.

            The Overton Window has changed to exclude all sorts of previously acceptable human rights abuses. Trump cannot implement the Trail of Tears, he cannot inter the Japanese, he cannot…so on and so forth.

            @John
            We were talking explicitly about Trump implementing a military dictatorship, not Trump escalating a military conflict into WWIII. At least, that was my impression.

            If you are concerned about escalation, Trump seems dramatically less likely to start WWIII with Russia than Hillary Clinton, especially since the Democratic Narrative is that Trump is the Manchurian candidate.

            As you note, we’ve had numerous escalated incidents even with our “elite” running the nation. The chances of these happening fall dramatically with a less interventionist foreign policy and fewer direct confrontations.

            Re: Living Constitution
            As noted by David Friedman, the issue is not one of mere interpretation, but of amendment to the nation’s fundamental form of government without following the established amendment process.

            The “frozen concepts” reasoning runs contrary to one of the most fundamental principles of Canadian constitutional interpretation: that our Constitution is a living tree which, by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life

            This terrifies me much more than President Trump, to such an extent that it defies my human capacity to reasonably describe. Let’s just say it scares me about 1,000,000 times more and call it even.

            it’s to employ a democratic process so that the people in their positions come from from a representative sample of the worlds under their jurisdiction (while insulating it enough to allow for the Thomases and Souters to have the freedom to also do their thing). Which is what we have.

            I am using the democratic process to prevent the Democratic Process.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            @David

            “What were the changes between the first Agricultural Adjustment Act and the second that made the former unconstitutional and the latter constitutional?”

            The channel of funding, apparently, according to Wikipedia? I’m not familiar with it.

            Where in the Constitution does one find authority for the federal government to regulate the amount of corn a farmer grows on his own farm to feed to his own animals?”

            The interstate commerce clause? I mean, I’d probably exempt it, but it that’s because I define the word “power” one way and the Wickard majority defined it another way. I’m not trying to define the problem out of existence, because these kinds of differences are deadly serious, but trying to have it properly recognized as a battle of semantics (i.e. language, i.e., culture, i.e. politics).

          • BBA says:

            I was going to say something about the Necessary and Proper Clause, but given that Mr. Friedman has written a book about how all government is unnecessary and improper I doubt he’d be receptive to it.

            Instead I will note that the Act of February 25, 1791 (ch. 10) is a much earlier case of Congress exceeding its enumerated powers, and it happens to be an act of the very same Congress that passed the Bill of Rights. If anyone is trying to argue that there was once a Golden Age when the Constitution was strictly followed, be aware that it didn’t even last two years.

          • Matt M says:

            “However, the Constitution is very well designed to prevent a single madman from turning the whole country into a dictatorship.”

            Can you name a hypothetical dictatorial power that Lincoln and/or FDR clearly did not possess? And these are the guys who we are taught in school were great Presidents – the ones who started unnecessary was and then used said wars as an excuse to essentially become dictators (perhaps also worth noting that neither voluntarily gave up power)

            “The Overton Window has changed to exclude all sorts of previously acceptable human rights abuses. Trump cannot implement the Trail of Tears, he cannot inter the Japanese, he cannot…so on and so forth.”

            But it’s not because the military wouldn’t follow Trump’s orders – it’s because Trump sees the political situation and wouldn’t give such an order. The continued popularity of Obama proves that the public doesn’t actually care if you blow up weddings in Yemen (at least, so long as the media chooses not to cover it). They just don’t like it if you brag about doing so, I guess.

          • I asked: “Where in the Constitution does one find authority for the federal government to regulate the amount of corn a farmer grows on his own farm to feed to his own animals?”

            Herbert replied: “The interstate commerce clause?”

            In which case any economic activity within a state counts on the same theory as interstate commerce. That makes nonsense out of the structure of the original Constitution, which was supposed to be one of delegated powers–Congress can do those things the Constitution says it can do and nothing else.

            Do you think language has any meaning? If not, there is little point to having a Constitution. If yes, then some possible “interpretations” are amendments pretending to be interpretations. Why do you find that so difficult to accept?

            Herbert:

            (answering my question about the difference between the first and second AAA decisions)

            “The channel of funding, apparently, according to Wikipedia? I’m not familiar with it.”

            Earlier:
            “Yes, I understand what laypeople think, David.”

            You are not familiar with the most famous example of the Supreme Court bowing to political pressure and you refer to all those who disagree with your view, including a fair number of constitutional scholars, as “laypeople?”

          • ” If anyone is trying to argue that there was once a Golden Age when the Constitution was strictly followed,”

            Has anyone argued that?

            I thought we were arguing about whether there was any difference between following the Constitution and not following it.

          • “Instead I will note that the Act of February 25, 1791 (ch. 10) is a much earlier case of Congress exceeding its enumerated powers”

            I don’t think setting up a central bank was a good idea. But don’t you think that between the Interstate Commerce Clause and the power to coin money and regulate the value thereof there was a considerably better case for that than for Wickard v Filburn?

          • BBA says:

            I believe McCulloch and Wickard are logically equivalent. One can accept both or reject both, but it is inconsistent to accept one but not the other. Either the Necessary and Proper Clause allows Congress to act outside the metes and bounds of the other clauses, or it doesn’t.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            Do you think language has any meaning? If not, there is little point to having a Constitution. If yes, then some possible “interpretations” are amendments pretending to be interpretations. Why do you find that so difficult to accept?

            Is it logically possible? Certainly. But every time someone provides me with an example of when such a thing supposedly happened, including the ones adverse to my particular politics (e.g., Citizens United), I invariably instead see a perfectly reasonable argument that, sure, maybe I don’t always agree with, but nearly always passes the laugh test. This very much includes the proposition that “the power to regulate interstate commerce necessarily includes the ability to regulate intrastate activities that would undermine the scheme in question.” (in fact, that’s a preposition I have no problems with at all–the part of Wickard I wouldn’t repeat personally was the overly deferential treatment of whether or not there was actually a risk of that scheme being undermined)

            I think that language has meaning, but only a social one, and it is therefore entirely subject to change and dispute.

          • Jiro says:

            You can make almost any interpretation pass the laugh test by dividing it up into several connected ideas, each of which is only a little skewed so it passes the laugh test, but which cumulatively have an effect that wouldn’t pass the laugh test if it was done as a single step.

          • Can you name a hypothetical dictatorial power that Lincoln and/or FDR clearly did not possess?

            I am watching the movie “Lincoln” right now, which details how Lincoln convinced several reluctant Congressman to vote for the 13th Amendment.
            I think Stalin would’ve just disappeared them.

            Both FDR and Lincoln are clearly on the far end of executive power, but even they had realistic checks to deal with and politics to endure. Both were immensely more popular than Trump, and both had dramatically more “excuse” than Trump to get away with more crap.

            Does anyone think Trump can successfully pack the courts, when FDR couldn’t?

            As for Yemeni weddings…I mean, I agree, he might be more likely to blow up a few more weddings than drone strikes.
            But how does the saying go? They said if I vote for McCain, I’ll have a President killing American citizens without a trial, and by God they were right.
            That’s baked into the cake. If you are against blowing up Yemeni weddings, I would suggest voting Gary Johnson, not Hillary Clinton.

          • “Does anyone think Trump can successfully pack the courts, when FDR couldn’t?”

            Lincoln did–added an extra justice (Stephen Field) to the Supreme Court.

          • MichaelM says:

            herbert:

            “That, to me, is what this argument is about. The text does not constrain SCOTUS. It’s not as if the framers were unfamiliar with concepts of legal precedent, argument, and interpretation.”

            They were familiar with those things, but nevertheless many expected the Court to be the weakest branch of the new government. Some (themselves lawyers) warned of the danger but got essentially dismissed.

            Still, what has happened was historically contingent. If Samuel Chase had lost in the Senate, the ability of court to essentially act as a constitutional council — reviewing and amending as they wished — would be severely curtailed. The Constitution being stuck to and followed wouldn’t necessarily happened any better (probably wouldn’t have, since we’re talking about a severe politicization of the judiciary), but the institutions would have changed DRASTICALLY. The text does constrain SCOTUS: by impeachment.

            It isn’t the text that prevents that, it’s tradition.

            So your contention that:

            “the practical effect of overturning Marbury v. Madison would be the effective repeal of the Constitution”

            makes no sense. Marbury v Madison was a historically contingent outcome. The Constitution certainly existed prior to it, the other branches claimed some role in determining the Constitutionality of laws (before and after it, actually), so what’s the argument here? If Marshall had slipped in a pile of horse shit and broke his neck, it wouldn’t have happened. There still would have been a Constitution ten years later.

            Ultimately, the argument you make throughout this series of posts really is just trying to define the problem away. Bit sophistic. If there is no standard that tells you whether a particular decision is better than any other, the Constitution truly is a pointless document, since it would be meaningless in practice. If you believe in constitutionalism in any way whatsoever, you need to have a standard. And this isn’t just a ‘lay person’ thing (kind a dick thing to say, by the way, or at least a dick way to say it), since Supreme Court Justices themselves have been coming up with standard methods of interpretation for over a century.

            What that standard is is a meta-discussion that is totally worth having — especially amongst ‘lay persons’ — rather than simply dismissing as not-a-real-problem.

      • namae nanka says:

        No friends to the right. Even if he were supporting Trump it’d be career suicide to support Trump openly.

        Aaronson’s and your post and the ensuing discussion reminded me of the ‘landmark’ MIT women faculty study,

        Yet the report was so highly acclaimed precisely because it was supposed to be, as Hillary Clinton gushed at the White House meeting, the work of “some of the best scientists in the world,” who used “scientific method” to get the facts.

        http://www.salon.com/2001/04/12/science_women/

        • pku says:

          In that case he could just say nothing, though.

          • namae nanka says:

            He could, but then his silence would imply consent.

            As Stephen Jay Gould’s wonderful book The Mismeasure of Man (Norton, New York, 1996) shows, theories about the supposed innate inferiority of women and minorities invariably derive from social prejudice. Many well-meaning people have these biases and are unaware of them. We all need to be more aware of our social biases, and we all need to speak out and confront sexism and discrimination whenever we encounter them.

            For this reason, I have been disappointed by the failure of our, largely male, scientific leadership to speak out about the inaccuracy of Summers’ comments. “Qui tacet consentire videtur : he who keeps silent is assumed to consent” — and the silence has been deafening. It is difficult for women scientists: if they speak out, they are viewed as asking for undeserved benefits, whereas if they keep silent, progress cannot be made. That’s why I think the MIT professor who brought Summers’ comments to public attention, Nancy Hopkins, is a hero.

            http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v434/n7034/full/434697a.html

          • pku says:

            I don’t think so – not saying political stuff on your blog is something you can probably get away with, especially considering your enemies aren’t likely to be reading it anyway (or if they are, they’ll be looking for what you do say, not what you don’t).

            Also, thanks for the article link.

          • “As Stephen Jay Gould’s wonderful book The Mismeasure of Man (Norton, New York, 1996) shows, theories about the supposed innate inferiority of women and minorities invariably derive from social prejudice.”

            Try to think about how one could show that theories one disagrees with *invariably* derive from prejudice.

            I can resist anything but temptation, so will quote Krugman on Gould:

            “Now it is not very hard to find out, if you spend a little while reading in evolution, that Gould is the John Kenneth Galbraith of his subject. That is, he is a wonderful writer who is beloved by literary intellectuals and lionized by the media because he does not use algebra or difficult jargon. Unfortunately, it appears that he avoids these sins not because he has transcended his colleagues but because he does does not seem to understand what they have to say; and his own descriptions of what the field is about – not just the answers, but even the questions – are consistently misleading. His impressive literary and historical erudition makes his work seem profound to most readers, but informed readers eventually conclude that there’s no there there.”

  5. Sniffnoy says:

    “MS Windoc”, huh?

    EDIT: As for the SETI signal, they’re now saying it most likely came from Earth.

  6. PartialAgonism says:

    Activation of mu opioid receptors might trigger several different signaling cascades, raising the prospect of selective agonists that can trigger good effects (like pain relief) but not bad ones (like respiratory supression).

    Weird timing to link this from a few years ago.
    An article in Nature from last month computationally screened 3 million molecules (!) and found a ‘biased’ signalling mu agonist that has analgesia with no addiction or respiratory depression in mouse models.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v537/n7619/full/nature19112.html

  7. dinofs says:

    Is it just me or does the Polish ant colony sound just a little bit like a post-human Age of Em (or the “ascended economy”)? Just endless directionless buildup…

  8. Dan says:

    More on confusing effects of school entry age: in Brazil, students who enter first grade later get higher test scores and are more likely to go to college

    This is consistent with previous work on the relative age effect. Previous studies have found that baseball players in the US and hockey players in Canada are more likely to make it to the professional league (MLB or NHL) if they were among the oldest in their cohort (based on the cutoff age for youth baseball or hockey and the person’s birthmonth).

    Being 11 months older than your peers is an advantage in size/strength/coordination/smarts among children, which leads to an accumulation of other advantages, some of which endure in adulthood after the age difference has become irrelevant.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Right, being old in your class makes you dumb in absolute terms, but smart in relative terms, which is all that matters for credentials. The two claims don’t contradict each other. (But some American studies find that the relative effect dwindles to zero.)

      • Murphy says:

        Also, it’s often easier mentally to maintain your position at the lead than to catch up from the back.

        So if there were 2 [age adjusted] equally bright kids in the class, one unusually old and one unusually young the older one is more likely to stand out enough to get put into a gifted program.

  9. Douglas Knight says:

    I don’t think that the quote from Wolfe is useful. It doesn’t match what Coyne responds to from the book and it’s bookended by statements that do match. It’s from an interview, so he may have just misspoke.

  10. Thecommexokid says:

    a grant of $5,555,550 over five years

    At that point, why not throw in 5 extra dollars?

  11. Noah Motion says:

    Here is a three part response to/rebuttal of the Ibbotson & Tomasello piece on Chomsky, generative grammar, and language acquisition: one, two, three.

  12. wanderer2323 says:

    Some thoughts on vote swapping:
    – was only “confirmed legal” by 9th circuit.
    – best strategy is of course to register as many ‘swaps’ as you can but vote for your candidate anyway
    – it’s probably a safe bet that there is an anonymous hacker working out how to abuse a voting swap website right now; I’ll go get some popcorn going.

    • Jake says:

      Another thing to consider is that all votes are not equal. Based on the Voter Power Index at fivethirtyeight, one of my votes in Iowa, should be worth more than 20 votes from someone in a state like Indiana. If I could get 20 votes for Johnson in Indiana in ecxhange for 1 vote for a Republican/Democrat candidate in Iowa, theoretically, it should be a good deal for everyone involved.

      • John Schilling says:

        Of what value are 20 Johnson votes in Indiana, when anyone paying attention will understand that those 20 votes will not go to the Libertarian candidate in any election where Indiana is seriously contested?

        • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

          If the commitment is made in enough advance, and if polls are nationwide, inflating his total number of prospective voters could help get him into the debate.

          • John Schilling says:

            Good point, assuming the pollsters and debate organizers don’t change the rules in response. Which they probably wouldn’t; their incentives are aligned elsewhere.

        • orangecat says:

          My main hope for this election is that neither Clinton nor Trump receives 50% of the popular vote, to make it harder for either of them to credibly claim a mandate. So I would happily trade a vote for Clinton or Trump in a swing state for multiple votes for Johnson (or even Stein) elsewhere.

          • LHN says:

            Bill Clinton came in with 43% of the popular vote, after Perot did better than Johnson looks likely to at the moment. (Though hope springs eternal.) It didn’t really stop him from claiming a mandate, or slow him down much, though the Congressional elections of 1994 did.

          • If neither Clinton nor Trump gets a majority of the electoral votes Congress gets to choose among the three leading candidates, and it isn’t impossible for Gary Johnson to end up as the compromise candidate.

            But I don’t think it’s very likely.

          • CatCube says:

            @David Friedman

            But isn’t it among the top three electoral vote candidates? Is Johnson slated to pick up any states?

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Isn’t anyone with 0 electoral votes in the top 3? Does that work?

          • LHN says:

            It’s the top electoral vote getters, “not exceeding three”. If no one else gets electoral votes, it’s just Trump and Clinton. But picking up a state, part of a state for someplace like Nebraska, or some number of faithless electors could put a third candidate into play.

            That could be Johnson, or it could be an alternative Republican who can convince one or more electors to back his last-ditch play against Trump.

            Less likely, it could be Stein, Sanders, or a Democrat to be named later, but One State, One Vote probably gives the Republicans a majority even if they lose it for normal House voting purposes. (And I’m guessing that the party would line up behind Clinton if push came to shove rather than add in a wild card).

          • @catcube:

            If no third party candidate gets electoral votes, then one of the other candidates wins, unless there is an exact tie–I don’t know if that is possible. I was assuming that Johnson carries at least one state.

            Utah, for example, is a very Republican and very anti-Trump state. New Mexico, where he was a popular two term governor, is another possiblity.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            There are 32 possible tie combinations.

        • Jake says:

          Johnson has an additional goal of getting 5% so the Libertarian party gets federal funding for the next election. 20 votes in Indiana are 20x better than 1 vote in Iowa for this purpose.

      • NOTA says:

        That’s only if you are trying to win the election for your candidate. Johnson has no realistic hope of winning this election, but hopes to get lots of votes to further the Libertarian party’s cause in future elections. For this, I think a vote in Iowa is as good as a vote in Indiana.

        • John Schilling says:

          Why do you think either vote is any good at all?

          There is a credible argument that the existence of a Libertarian voting block may cause the Republicans, the Democrats, or both, to shift their policies in a libertarian-ish direction to win the votes of this block. For that to work, the votes have to be useful to winning elections, and there can’t be any easier way to secure them.

          The votes of a block of people who transparently say, “I will vote Libertarian if and only if it cannot make a difference to the outcome of the election; if the polls say that I might be in a closely-fought swing state then of course I am going to vote for the tolerable Dempublicans against the evil Republocrats”, are not relevant. In any election where they might influence the outcome, the Dempublicans don’t have to lift a finger and there’s nothing the Republocrats can do at all to win those votes, so neither one will shift their policies – they’ll save that for actual swing voters.

          Unless you are willing to “throw away” a vote that might have swayed an election, it’s just cheap signaling – and the only signals that matter are the ones that cost something.

          Nor is it, at this point, necessary or even useful to signal to the major parties that you are dissatisfied with their questionable compromises and their even more questionable candidates. They already know how you feel about them. And they don’t care, because they are pretty sure that, when it matters, you’ll line up to vote for them anyhow.

          • pku says:

            As I understand it, the main achievable goals for the libertarian party are

            a) getting 5% of the vote, which gives them federal funding for the next election and

            b) getting over 15% in the polls, which lets them into the debate.

            While I don’t see them winning an election, getting into the debate might give them the ability to get their ideas into mainstream discourse in a way that would be difficult otherwise, and would probably have a larger effect on the big parties than trying to win over libertarian voters.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Nothing says “Libertarian victory” like federal funding!

          • Jiro says:

            Sometimes libertarian is better than not libertarian which is better than partially libertarian.

            Libertarians would prefer to not have any government funding for such things, but if there is no choice about funding, evenhanded funding is better than selective funding. Just because libertarians don’t like government funding doesn’t mean libertarians would have to reject this, since it is not possible for libertarians to reject the whole funding package including funding for other parties.

          • The votes of a block of people who transparently say, “I will vote Libertarian if and only if it cannot make a difference to the outcome of the election; if the polls say that I might be in a closely-fought swing state then of course I am going to vote for the tolerable Dempublicans against the evil Republocrats”, are not relevant.

            That is untrue.

            (1) Actual vote totals count in a way that mere expression of goals do not. Lots of people say “I’m voting for X, not because I support X, but because I strongly oppose Y.” But their votes for X meld into the grand total of votes for X, and whatever they might have said at the time makes no difference.

            (2) Very, very, very few actual voters think in terms of voting strategically. People who think that way are activists. The activists may be useful for campaigning, but their few votes are as a drop of blood in a hurricane.

            (3) I believe the two-party system is baked in to the Constitution by having a directly elected president. That being said, votes for third party or independent candidates, regardless of the exact circumstances, do unambiguously nurture the hopes of other third party or independent candidates, and widen the window of possibility for them.

            For example, in the state of Maine, it is well established that independent candidates can win statewide elections. Ross Perot even carried a county or two in Maine. By contrast, most states have no such precedent of success for candidates not running on major party tickets, so third party and independent candidates are never taken seriously.

          • John Schilling says:

            That is untrue.

            Unless I am missing something, your objections seem to be that this is rare, not that it is untrue.

            I agree that it is rare for people to vote in this fashion, and if they say they are going to do so one ought to be skeptical. But the proposal for an organized vote-swapping system, if effectively implemented, would reveal such voters where they exist.

            I think you and I both agree that they would be few in number, and I suspect such a scheme would founder for lack of demand. But do you disagree that, if a block of such voters were identified, it would be largely ignored by both major parties? If not, what do you see them doing and why?

          • Unless I am missing something, your objections seem to be that this is rare, not that it is untrue.

            No, I think you are mistaken that the influence of a third party would be precisely limited in the ways you describe.

            There is a credible argument that the existence of a Libertarian voting block may cause the Republicans, the Democrats, or both, to shift their policies in a libertarian-ish direction to win the votes of this block.

            I completely agree with that argument. See, for example, the influence of the Prohibition Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

            But I disagree with almost everything you wrote after that.

            Voter behavior just doesn’t turn on the kinds of dimes you are thinking of. Voters don’t all think the way you logically expect them to, and voters don’t all share the same perspective about which races are close or important.

            Voters also don’t care very much about being in a swing state or not. I don’t think there’s ever been a demonstrated effect of minor party presidential candidates doing worse in swing states and better in taken-for-granted states.

            if a Libertarian does well in a particular election, and gets attention as a result, that is a positive for all Libertarian candidates, because it makes voting Libertarian seem like a more plausible option.

            The notion that an organized vote-swapping system would involve a politically noticeable number of people is just absurd, especially given the practical and trust issues. Voting for someone you don’t support, as part of a deal with some stranger with different politics? Maybe dozens of people will be interested.

          • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

            “Nothing says “Libertarian victory” like federal funding!”

            D…damn!

  13. Harkonnendog says:

    I think most readers of this blog would love Wolfe’s book.
    It is about people choosing to believe X primarily because they want to be part of a class of people, or in group.
    Or I think most will hate it, because of the group he uses as an example.
    Anyway it is thought provoking and original.

    • LPSP says:

      The topic itself isn’t supremely original; there have been talks on here and elsewhere about “belief in belief”, a prominent LessWrong topic, about individuals who effectively know what they espouse is wrong but do so anyway out of categorical fanaticism. But I trust Wolfe is a good writer on the topic.

      • Harkonnendog says:

        He seemed more focused on people choosing to believe without much information at all, just out of a desire to be identified with the”right” people.

        It seems to be a recurring theme here, the danger of giving up one’s individuality, or ability to reason might be a better way to express it, in order to be part of a class or group. That’s why I think many will like it.

        • LPSP says:

          That’s an even more elemental topic in rationality and psychology in general. What new ground is Wolfe covering?

          • Harkonnendog says:

            If there is new ground it would be his claims that the Big Bang theory, evolution, and Chomsky’s linguistics are examples.

            That’s why I think many readers of this blog would hate it.

          • LPSP says:

            Far from it, it sounds very interesting. How exactly does Wolfe evidence the claim that belief in evolution is just a fit-in phenomena? Obviously 90+% of the human population has no idea how anything works and simply parrots the most correct-sounding* answer authorities state, but that’s a basic given.

            *a redundant statement when you think about it.

          • “How exactly does Wolfe evidence the claim that belief in evolution is just a fit-in phenomena?”

            I haven’t read Wolfe on this, but if you remove the word “just” I think it’s a defensible claim.

            Of people who say they believe in evolution, how many do you think understand the idea and the evidence and could do a competent job of defending it? My guess is that most who believe in it do so for the same reason as most who reject it–because that’s the view held by people who they respect and want to be respected by, not because they have looked at the evidence and arguments for themselves. Consider how many people use the phrase “survival of the fittest” and don’t realize that it’s reproductive success, not survival, that is being selected for.

            Dan Kahan (Yale Law School) has been writing for some time about the pattern of belief in ideas that have become markers of group identity. He finds, loosely speaking, that the more intellectually able someone is, the more likely he is to agree with the position identified with his group, whether that’s believing in evolution or not believing in it.

            His explanation is that whether you believe in evolution (or global warming or …) has almost no effect on the world at large but a substantial effect on you, so it’s rational to pick your belief not on the basis of what’s true but of what it is in your private interest to believe.

            The smarter you are, the better you are at doing that.

          • LPSP says:

            That’s literally the point I made in me post, Dave.

          • Harkonnendog says:

            makes the claim in several entertaining ways: (I’m tempted to reply that you’ll have to read the book, only because my answer is a the flash of a firefly vs a lightning bolt, but here’s a weak answer)
            1. Shows Darwin was a hypocrite and a liar
            2. Shows the slithery ways his theory was was popularized
            3. Shows it was not science, but myth making
            4. Shows how it does not account for language
            5. Repeats for Chomsky’s theory on linguistics
            6. Much moreover

          • Harkonnendog says:

            Dave, I think Wolfe is less about the phenomenon than about the application. Or you might say he teaches by snarky, hilarious example.

    • brad says:

      Tom Wolfe writing another non-fiction book rather than another fiction book strikes me as similar to that time Neal Stephenson decided he’d go make a video game controller.

      • Harkonnendog says:

        It doesn’t seem like quite that much of a stretch to me. Unless Stephenson made fantastic video game controllers in the past and I never heard about them

  14. nth commenter says:

    – There’s no halftime in baseball. (The event took place between the two games of a doubleheader.)

    – Wait, the book attacking Chomsky has an “opposition to evolution’s role in human psychology/society”? Because Chomsky himself is notoriously unenthusiastic about Darwinism’s explanatory power when it comes to language — in sharp contrast to someone like Steven Pinker (who labels himself a “Darwinian Chomskian”, self-conscious that the expression will be understood as an oxymoron).

    • Harkonnendog says:

      As I understand it, (Wolfe argues that) Chomsky’s original theory assumes humans evolved a language organ. This is a superior explanation for how humans evolved into a species capable of language, while other species did not, to Darwin’s theory. Thus, Chomsky’s lack of enthusiasm for Darwin’s theory isn’t incongruent with Wolfe’s argument that language presents a problem for evolution
      Wolfe attacks them both for over reaching and, well, making stuff up. He compares Darwin’s theory about how language evolved to Kipling’s Just So Stories. He says science has basically shown Chomsky was wrong, but Chomsky kept modifying his theory to avoid being shown up.

      • nth commenter says:

        When I said “Darwinism” above, I meant evolution (by natural selection). Not anything more specific about theories Darwin might have had concerning the evolution of language.

        It’s natural selection itself that Chomsky is unenthusiastic about as an explanation for language. More carefully stated, he doesn’t like explaining features of language as evolutionary adaptations in the way Pinker does. In this, Chomsky follows a standard form of critique of evolutionary psychology generally (“spandrels, not adaptations”); for this reason, it strikes the wrong chord, or is at least a somewhat ironic stance, to be simultaneously critical of Chomsky and critical of “evolution’s role in human psychology/society” — criticism of the latter is after all one of the things Chomsky is known for.

        • Harkonnendog says:

          I misunderstood, thank you for explaining.

          I doubt Wolfe is unaware… maybe he feels Chomsky’s theory, or Pinkers, as an offshoot of it, is the best argument evolutionists have.

  15. What are mathematician’s take on the Logical Induction paper?

    • Oscar Cunningham says:

      I’m pretty excited about it! I think it solves (or at least cracks open) an important and interesting problem. Let me try write an introduction to and summary of the problem and what they’ve achieved:

      Suppose we’re designing an AI or robot that we want to go out into the world and achieve various objectives. Sometimes it will have to make decisions even though it is uncertain. For example it might have to decide whether to accept a bet in which it gains $3 if a coin comes up heads and and loses $2 if the coin comes up tails. To make its decisions it assigns probabilities to all possible outcomes, and then takes the action which maximizes the average value it expects to achieve. For example if it thinks the coin is fair then its expected value is 50% * $3 + 50% * (-$2) = $0.50, and since this is greater than zero it takes the bet.

      Of course we have to tell it how to assign its probabilities. We could do this in many different ways, but however we do it one property that we really want to ensure is that its probabilities are coherent. This is a technical term meaning that the probabilities it assigns to various events make sense with each other. For example we want P(A) + P(not-A) = 1.

      You can justify the need for coherent probabilities by making what’s called a Dutch Book argument. For example suppose we had probabilities that didn’t add to one: P(A) = 30% and P(not-A) = 30%. Then a cunning bookie could offer us a bet where they pay us $1 now and we pay them $3 if A occurs. We would accept that bet since its expected value is $1 + 30% * (-$3) = $0.10, which is more than zero. But we would also accept a bet where they pay us $1 now and we pay them $3 if not-A occurs. But if we’ve accepted both of these bets then we’re guaranteed to lose! This is because we’ll received $2, and then exactly one of A and not-A is going to happen, so we will always end up paying them back $3. The only way to keep yourself safe from Dutch books is to make sure your probabilities add up to 1 (and satisfy the other requirements that make up the definition of coherence). There’s a theorem which says that a robot following probabilities which aren’t coherent will accept a sure loss or refuse a sure win.

      Now the MIRI’s problem comes when you consider questions for which you do in principle have the information needed to solve the problem, but you don’t have enough time to do the actual calculations. For example suppose somebody offers our robot a bet on whether or not the trillionth digit of pi is a 7 or not. (A more important situation where a robot might face this kind of problem is when it is competing against a similar robot. Suppose that the two robots have computers running at the same speed as each other. Then even if they know how the other robot is coded, neither will quite have enough time to simulate perfectly what the other robot will do.) Let’s call this unknown digit x. At what price should it accept the bet that x=7? Lets assume that our robot knows the axioms of mathematics, and it assigns them all a probability of exactly 1. The value of the x is a logical consequence of these axioms, and our robot could in principle calculate it given enough time. In other words there is a proof which starts with the axioms and ends by concluding that the trillionth digit of pi is whatever it actually is (in fact a 2). This means that if our robot assigned a coherent probability distribution to all mathematical statements it would have to have P(x=2) = 1 and P(x=7) = 0 (so it would refuse the bet).

      But the robot just doesn’t have enough time to produce the whole proof. In the same situation a sensible human might assign a 10% probability to each of the ten digits. Can we program our robot to replicate this decision? If our robot does this then we know that it’s going to be incoherent on some statements, since out of all the statements in our long proof that x=2 the probability will at some point go from being exactly 1 to being less than 1.

      There are two problems here. The first is to understand exactly why it is that the human solution of assigning 10% to each possibility is better than other solutions (like assigning 91% probability to x=0 and 1% probability to the other nine digits). The second is to minimise the incoherence in our robot’s probability assignments. Even though it’s necessarily going to be incoherent we don’t want it to be hugely incoherent in any obvious way.

      The MIRI paper attacks both of these problems. The produce a Logical Induction Algorithm (LIA), which assigns probabilities to mathematical statements and then keeps working and updates those probabilities as time goes on. It’s vulnerable to Dutch books, but the vulnerability is limited in the following way: any bookie who only does polynomially much computation between each update to the probabilities will only be able to extract a finite amount of money from our robot (our robot does much more than polynomially much work between updates, so we have an advantage). In other words even though our probabilities are incoherent, there aren’t many incoherencies that can be spotted easily (in polynomial time) and those which can be spotted eventually get fixed so that each possible (computable) bookie only spots finitely many opportunities for profit (or perhaps an infinite sequence of diminishingly valuable opportunities, whose total value is finite).

      They then show that any algorithm satisfying this non-exploitability requirement automatically satisfies a bunch of other nice properties. For example it will indeed assign a 10% probability to each possible value of a digit of pi it hasn’t yet calculated (I am of course skipping over many important details and caveats). Another nice property is that the probabilities it assigns will converge in the limit to a coherent probability distribution on all mathematical statements, assigning probabilities of 1 and 0 to provable and disprovable statements, and probabilities strictly between these two values to undecidable statements. Also, note that the LIA algorithm is computable (unlike for example AIXI and Solomonoff induction).

      • Decius says:

        Is the distribution of digits in π actually equal, or is there some slight bias?

      • Yossarian says:

        Not really a serious comment, but I laughed at this part, so felt like replying:
        In the same situation a sensible human might assign a 10% probability to each of the ten digits.
        In the same situation I (well, thinking myself a somewhat sensible human) would assign about a 1% or less probability to x being 7, because the very fact that I am offered a bet says with a good probability that the entity offering it had already found the answer, and it’s not 7, so I would only accept the bet if it offers a vastly larger reward than 9:1 (in hopes that the offering entity had made a mistake in its calculations) or if the price I pay if I lose is worth the amusement I would get in participating in the bet (like, if it’s 7, I get $100, if it isn’t, I lose $1).

    • pku says:

      This isn’t really close to my field, so I don’t quite know how it fits in context – can someone who knows more about econ/game theory stuff elaborate on how much of this is new?

      That (and the fact that I haven’t finished reading it yet), disclaimed:

      the bad part: This raises a bunch of red flags: It introduces basic terms like Bayes’ law and the notation for the integers (which it spends three sentences on for some reason), it defines the topology on the rationals, most of its sources are either really old, not really relevant (bounded gaps), or by other MIRI people, and it has its own weird notations. These are all common to the sort of people who send us emails claiming to have computed the last digit of pi.

      The good part: It genuinely does seem to have interesting ideas, and they’re presented fairly coherently. In general, most math problems are either too easy to be interesting or too hard to solve. The claims here seem to be in the suitable middle ground, which makes it fairly believable that the paper does, in fact, prove what it claims to. I’m generally predisposed to put MIRI in the crank file, but this seems like some decent math.
      (Disclaimer: My field is pretty far from game theory and the like, so I don’t know how new this is or how it relates to things already known, and I haven’t checked to see if the proofs check out).

      The mediocre part: While this is interesting, it’s probably not revolutionary – it reminds me of Scott Aaronson’s coffee automaton paper about the complexity and interestingness of systems, which had some really interesting ideas but didn’t (I think) revolutionize CS.

      • Finger says:

        These are all common to the sort of people who send us emails claiming to have computed the last digit of pi.

        C’mon MIRI, get your shibboleths in order!

        • Jiro says:

          Not using standard terminology and standard sources is Bayseian evidence for being a crackpot, or at least making mistakes like those crackpots make.

          Sheesh, I mean, people at MIRI should understand how Bayseian evidence works.

      • tbt says:

        Hi!

        > basic terms like […] notation for the integers (which it spends three sentences on for some reason)

        The worry was that the paper is naturally classified as logic or TCS, both of which generally 0-index; but we had good reason to 1-index, and wanted to call out this slightly non-standard usage. (Though perhaps three sentences is excessive :P)

        > defines the topology on the rationals

        The construction relies crucially on a fixed-point argument and on the definition of “trader” as a (certain kind of) continuous function, so it seemed prudent to be very explicit about the topology involved, especially since traders are sometimes viewed as having type Q^n -> Q^m and sometimes R^n -> R^m.

        > most of its sources are either really old […]

        I think there just isn’t much directly relevant recent work on the problem that we’re aware of. If you know people who know the relevant literature I’d be interested to chat with them. The problem we address is relatively “foundational”, in the sense that it doesn’t have any really deep prerequisites, and there isn’t already a large body of work on it (that I know of).

        • pku says:

          Yeah, those seem like fair points. Sorry if I came off as overly critical about those – they’re often bayesian evidence for crackpotism, which is worth noting, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. (The main symptom of crackpotism is claiming results on the wrong scale – either claiming to prove P!=NP in twenty pages, or claiming to have invented a way of rewriting Maxwell’s equation that makes this one homework problem in the back of the book have a one-line proof. This avoids that.)

          Regarding relevant work: I’m curious how this relates to probabilistic complexity classes such as BPP/ZPP? The idea of considering an algorithm that approaches probability 1 of being correct over time has background in CS (though you seem to be adding additional requirements).

          • tbt says:

            No worries.

            Broadly speaking, complexity theory seems very related; indeed, the underlying problem seems to stem from computational complexity. This seems worth pursuing. As to BPP specifically, I don’t see an immediate analogy; a logical inductor is a deterministic algorithm for assigning probabilities, whereas (as far as my basic understanding goes) BPP concerns stochastic algorithms that are supposed to solve problems correctly with high probability or with polytime expected runtime.

    • Nisan says:

      I’m not a mathematician anymore, but I’ve talked to the authors about the paper and I think the main result is true and pretty interesting! Now that I know this concept, it’s nearly impossible for me to think about mathematical reasoning outside this paper’s paradigm.

  16. Subbak says:

    The Buddha story should not really come as surprising to anyone. Most people here are probably familiar whit some dude who supposedly preached peace and loving your neighbor and whatnot, only for this to result in crusades, inquisition, and wars of religion…

  17. Subbak says:

    Link found in the comments of the ants in the bunker thing: Someone pours molten aluminum down a fire ant colony to make a cast of it. It looks really impressive.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGJ2jMZ-gaI

    • anon says:

      It’s cool, but this is actually not unique or new. So if you like it there should be a lot more of it on YouTube.

      Now, what if we made a cast of this bunker colony?

  18. Zombielicious says:

    Just curious, is that post tongue-in-cheek or can someone explain what’s so great about Marginal Revolution? Not that I have anything against Cowen or Tabarrok, and I’m not really a reader, but it seemed kind of… marginal, at best, and the commentariat not much above the level of Breitbart or Alex Jones. Compare that to e.g. Caplan’s or Hanson’s blogs which seem consistently higher-quality by comparison. Not to knock Tyler Cowen either – certainly find myself agreeing with him more often than Caplan, and had chocked it up to Cowen spending more time working and less time managing his brand.

    Again though, not a regular reader – have I just been coincidentally missing the substantive posts all this time?

    If someone asked why I like SSC, I could link them to dozens of great posts that would (probably) change the way they think about things. You can see it in how SSC terminology ends up infiltrating people’s lives. What are the equivalently influential posts on MR?

    • Anonymous says:

      TC puts out more volume than any other blogger I know of. That allows themes to grow over time if you read him regularly. It’s a quite different kind of excellence than a blogger with a dozen fantastic posts over several years.

      I agree the comment section is to be avoided at all costs. It is sub-youtube in quality.

    • cassander says:

      Cowen’s food recommendations are consistently excellent.

    • Urstoff says:

      TC is an interesting guy and finds lots of interesting things to link to and talk about. The comments didn’t used to be that awful, but it’s definitely a case of the bad driving out the good there.

    • E. Harding says:

      I don’t think there’s anything great about Marginal Revolution, and I don’t think Cowen’s that smart or insightful. Caplan and Sumner (especially the former) are both far more visibly intelligent.

  19. H. E. Pennypacker says:

    I’m interested in people’s opinions about the article on neoliberalism. The concept came up here a little while ago and many people seemed to think the term was meaningless or indistinguishable from libertarianism. I thought that article is a great example of how it differs from just faith in free markets. It also gave a coherent argument for why the left are convinced government is drifting further right, whilst those on the right think the exact opposite.

    • Tibor says:

      I am not quite sure how one decides what should be private and what should be public. I guess I prefer state-owned legal monopolies to private owned legal monopolies (private owned companies which are given the legal monopolistic position or a de facto monopolistic position by the state). The main reason is that if a private legal monopoly works badly, people will see it as a failure of the free market (few people bother checking whether the particular market is actually reasonably free or not). If a state-owned legal monopoly fails, people recognize it (rightly) as a failure of state interventions. Instead of demanding a state takeover (as in the first case) they will demand privatization. Of course, a skilled machiavellistic politician might simply cycle between private monopolistic regime and a state ownership regime avoiding the free market completely.

      But I am not sure why the answer for banks which are “too big to fail” is necessarily to nationalize them. Switzerland has a banking system with a relatively low rate of regulation, most importantly no Swiss banks are deemed to big to fail and no get government-guaranteed profits such as those that led to the housing bubble in the US. They seem to work pretty well and they have for decades had a reputation of a save haven.

      So I agree with the broad thesis that there should be a much clearer division between the state and the private sphere but I don’t see how that implies that you actually need the state to get involved in more areas while deregulating the few that remain. Why not reduce both the scope and the scale? After all, state owned legal monopolies don’t tend to work much better than the private-owned ones. The directly state-owned railroads (most railroads in most countries in Europe) or the post office usually work worse than the actual free market alternatives. And when they fail, it is again the “common man” who pays for their failures with his taxes. That is not fundamentally different from the bailouts of private “too big to fail” banks and companies. If the aim is to provide some kind of a standard of living to everyone no matter what, which seems to be the author’s reason for increasing the scale of the government, then a better alternative to a state run railroad with tax-subsidized fares is a negative income tax or a minimum basic income. Similarly with other services. Unless, of course, one believes that people are too stupid and irresponsible to spend their money well and the government should direct them in the choice instead.

      I also still don’t understand why one would want to call this “neoliberalism”. Why not cronyism? That seems to me like a lot less confusing and a lot more descriptive name.

      • I suppose one reason is: “neoliberalism” is less pejorative than “cronyism.” It sounds more contentful, less like a transparent attack. So reasonable people can potentially have nuanced discussions about the merits and dismerits of a thing called “neoliberalism,” whereas you won’t see nuanced discussions of a philosophy of governance called “cronyism.” Too many cached connotations there.

        This might be a good strategy even if your ultimate goal is to tar and delegitimize the thing you’re talking about: get intellectuals on board with your ideas by using terminology that makes them expect interesting nuanced balanced analyses, and then deliver a devastating take-down of the idea in question.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          That does not apply to an article with “crony capitalism” in the title.

          • I think it applies. The strategy is to use a term that people at least in principle could imagine adopting for themselves, even if relatively few people do so (‘neoliberalism’, ‘pragmatic centrism’), and then link it to a more objectionable term/concept (cronyism). Putting out bait and then hooking your prey is more effective than putting out a naked hook. My model of this is complicated, though, because the point of using relatively neutral terms isn’t to actually get people to self-describe as ‘neoliberal’. It’s to use the idea/possibility/fiction that people might self-describe that way to look more moderate/reasonable (and to avoid boring people with banal-looking truisms like ‘croneyism is bad’).

            Compare: ‘fooism is fascistic’ vs. ‘fascism is bad’.

            (Also, ‘Crony Capitalism’ is in the lede section title, rather than the title of the whole article.)

      • K says:

        Not sure about (American) political labels, but the division between state owned and private owned seems often to be unprincipled to me. At least when I ask left-leaning friends (who typically object strongly to private ownership and/or profits), they are unable to come up with any principled guideline.

        My view would be to have public ownership for natural monopolies, typically infrastructure and such, and leave free markets to private initiative. State/government also has a regulatory role, and things work much better when that is clearly separate from also being a participant. In addition, there is often a strong argument against private ownership when the consumer of a good is different from the one paying the bills – for instance for health services, where the bill is footed by insurance or state.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      It seems like a fairly textbook case of uncanny valleys to me. One earlier link post on this same blog once showed that the South Korean state monopolises internet provision, and does this at both a fraction of the cost and greater speed than happens in the US. In a world where real competition between ISP’s were to actually happen, this number might be matched.. But rather than either of those things happening, people are stuck in a situation where they can either shell out too much money for shitty internet or forego it altogether.

      Uncanny valleys like these extend to healthcare, finance, public transport.. The article describes it much more eloquently than I could, though.

      • Tekhno says:

        South Korea’s internet laws and censorship (SK banned pornography! Eeeeeeeeee!) sound pretty awful though, so sure you are getting provision at a low price and getting great speed, but at what cost?

      • Irishdude7 says:

        South Korea has more than 10 times the population density of the U.S. so it makes internet cost comparisons to the U.S. not apples-to-apples. Only needing to lay fiber to a few cities where most the population is is much less expensive than laying fiber out to suburban sprawl.

        • Anon. says:

          There are places in the US with similar (or higher!) density, how do they fare?

        • Kind of Anonymous says:

          Apples-to-apples(-ish): South Korea vs. New Jersey, most densely populated US state.

          28.8Mbps vs. 7.79Mbps.

          Clearly it’s not just about population density; additionally, most cities in the US already have fiber. It just terminates at the cable company/phone switchboard rather than the residence.

        • Cypren says:

          Don’t forget that urban residences in Korea are much newer and more modern than their counterparts in most of the US, as well; it’s a country that was a third-world agrarian society until the 1970s and then industrialized and modernized rapidly. This means that modern optical fiber had already been commercialized by the time that much of the current urban and suburban housing was built and it was practical to use it for residential infrastructure.

          In contrast, most places in the US are still using copper-wire networks laid down over the last century that predate modern fiber, and they work “well enough” that the enormous expense of tearing them up and replacing them with newer wiring isn’t compelling to most of the landowners and utility providers.

        • Irishdude7 says:

          @Kind of Anonymous

          My post referred to costs of providing internet, not speeds. It’s more costly to lay out fiber to spread out suburbs and rural areas than densely packed cities, so pointing to denser South Korea providing internet at a lower average cost than in the spread out U.S. is not too meaningful without accounting for that.

    • Tekhno says:

      I have a strong support for welfare states + free markets, but the “radical centrism” in the article goes quite a bit further in arguing that we should nationalize things that are already heavily regulated (?). I’ve always had a gut impulse against nationalization. If intervention has to be undertaken, we could always break up the big banks rather than nationalize them. They’ve already merged since the 2000s, so we know that more decentralization is possible there.

      Obviously something like rail is much more of a natural monopoly oligopoly, so a stronger case can be made for nationalization there, but it all depends on how badly you think railway privatization went in the UK. I’ve seen arguments go back on forth on that for so long I don’t know what to think. So the point is to do with “stable cores”, but aren’t we taking for granted that nationalized things are inherently more stable? Sure, they absorb failure rather than running out of money, but how long do you actually want to do that? These arguments led to the privatization of these things in the first place. Maybe they were wrong, but I’d want to see more comparisons of before and after first.

      With this scheme, the private sector can of course compete against the nationalized sector, but how is that going to work for things like rail?

      • Thomas Jørgensen says:

        It is a very persuasive piece of writing – it has a lens through which you can view the economy that suddenly clarifies one hell of a lot of the things the west is doing wrong as a society.
        It “clicks” mentally really hard, like a solid piece of math. I’m a bit suspicious of that, but… I see no way for the implied recommendations to go very wrong. EDF and the way the Japanese use the post office for banking and similar policies don’t lead to piles of skulls, and it has a very clear way to check regulations outside of core competency for necessity – anything that favors incumbent private actors should be viewed with great suspicion.

      • Cypren says:

        I think the point of the piece that was so compelling to me was the description of “halfway” state intervention — where heavy regulatory burdens are imposed but private actors are still allowed to profit from an oligopoly — as a kind of perfect equilibrium for cronyism and dysfunction. It provides a neat rule for indicating where government intervention is appropriate — markets which trend towards a concentrated oligopoly or natural monopoly — and where it is not (markets that can sustain healthy competition).

        The article neatly articulated the meta principles that have generally led me to be anti-government intervention in most areas while strongly favoring it in others (utilities, telecommunications, etc). I’d always had a general sense that government intervention was necessary in cases where markets would fail, I had never really considered carefully the principles behind making that intervention all-or-nothing to avoid the all-too-common cases of privatized gains and subsidized losses.

        Of course, the current situation works extremely well for the politicians and their funders, so I also see no reason that it’s likely to ever change short of a revolution. The current system is less a creation of Moloch than a very careful equilibrium of misdirection on the part of oligarchs who benefit from it.

    • cassander says:

      First, neo-liberalism is almost always used as a term of abuse. Like neo-conservative or fascist, it started as an actual, useful term defining a group of people, but has since become largely useless.

      That said, I see neo-liberalism as the combination of pro-market reforms (I’ll define these later) and the attempt to inject market forces into the regulatory and welfare state. There’s broad agreement with libertarianism on the first of these, but is distinguished by the fact that libertarianism is mostly against having such state at all.

      Pro-market reforms, in this case, refer to adopting schemes like cap and trade instead of command and control style regulation, breaking up and privatizing state owned companies, and contracting out of government services.

      Clearly, I strongly disagree with the article’s assertion that it’s mere crony capitalism. It can certainly enable crony capitalism, but no more than the old system enabled pure cronyism. Instead of putting your brother in charge of ministry of electricity where he takes bribes to connect people, you sell him the electricity monopoly where he charges people to connect them. Second, the idea that this decreases the scale of government is not really accurate. a government that contracts out work is not meaningfully smaller than one that does everything in house. it’s shaped differently, has fewer civil servants, and might have different incentives, but it’s still commanding the same share of resources as before. It’s just that the people doing the work dress differently.

    • herbert herbertson says:

      My definition of neoliberalism has it as more of a project or movement than an ideology. Neoliberalism isn’t just implementing laissez-faire systems, it’s replacing New Deal/Great Society programs (and their foreign equivalents) with laissez-faire systems. Talking about “neoliberalism” instead of classical liberal capitalism only makes sense for a certain time period and from a broad, historical perspective.

      • leoboiko says:

        I use the word more or less in this sense, except as a pejorative (specifically the corrupt selling-out of social support systems, often below market price, by politicians aiming to line their pockets). In other words, I use the word as basically “the rhetoric used for implementing crony capitalism”.

        If a true believer in free market tried to get public systems privatized, I’d call that a “libertarian” (in American English) or “liberal” (in my language) project.

    • Jill says:

      That article that mentioned neoliberalism, the article about increasing the scope and reducing the scale of government intervention, is the most brilliant article on economics I’ve read in a long time.

      The things I like most about it are these:

      — that it attempts to get beyond ideology. Ideologies are all at least partially false, because they are overgeneralizations. Ideologues close their eyes, ears and minds to the real world so that they don’t see the distress or hear the squeals of the people in the real world, as they try to shove them into their imaginary ideological framework.

      –that it discusses getting rid of or greatly reducing incentives to predatory rent seeking and government and private corruption. To me, that seems like it should be one of the big determining factors– perhaps in 2nd place after #1 what is most needed for long term public welfare. If you get rid of incentives which currently encourage predatory and corrupt behavior, and shift incentives to a better place, you have tamed Moloch, at least in part. And few things are more worth doing than taming Moloch. A world where individual are constantly incentivized to do things that destroy everything that is worthwhile for the communities that they live in, is a disaster.

      • Cypren says:

        I completely agree; the article put a finger on something that’s bothered me about my own ideological beliefs for a long time: that I’m generally anti-government and pro-free market, until I’m not. And when I’m not, I really don’t want the market anywhere near the system in question.

        It was difficult to describe the meta principle about it until reading that article and seeing in stark relief the difference between arguing about scope and scale, and how the crony capitalism I’ve always detested is about increasing the former and decreasing the latter in order to reap privatized benefits while leveraging maximal political influence.

        • Can you lay out the specific industries where you are not pro-free market, and your objections to market involvement?

          • Fahundo says:

            Don’t know what his answer is, but I think an obvious one would be utilities, or any industry with little to no competition.

          • “or any industry with little to no competition.”

            My father wrote somewhere that there are three alternatives for natural monopoly: Regulated monopoly, unregulated monopoly, government ownership. Anyone familiar with two of the three is in favor of the third.

            One disadvantage of both regulated monopoly and government ownership is that either can result in preserving the monopoly even when, in a changing world, it is no longer natural.

          • Cypren says:

            Generally, any industry which requires monopoly, oligopoly or eminent domain to work. Note that this is different from the suggestion that any industry in which a monopoly takes hold should be nationalized: many industries may have monopolies (Microsoft and Google come to mind) which are not, in fact, natural, and can be upset by markets without the need for government intervention (again, Microsoft is the perfect example).

            Examples of places where I see natural monopolies or oligopolies would be roads and rail, utilities and telecom. All four need eminent domain or easements in order to build networks in a cost-effective manner due to the holdout problem. However, once the networks are in place, further use of government power to build redundant networks is often highly disruptive to society (no one wants the streets torn up every three months for a new utility provider), and the entrenched players have every incentive to manipulate politics to prevent development of competition.

            Cable television and internet are a prime example of areas where easements are necessary to operate the business, and the result is a non-competitive market where only one cable provider serves any given area. While theoretically the providers are “in competition” with each other at a national level, the reality of the situation is that they only compete for easement rights to a housing development. This creates very perverse incentives where the cable companies are competing not for the benefit of their customers, but for the benefit of the politicians and land developers who can grant them the easement rights. After that, they have a captive customer base with no other alternatives.

            A much more beneficial arrangement would be for the infrastructure buildout and operations to be severed from the direct service provision. A nationalized telecommunications provider would lay the cable and fiber networks and operate the core nodes. Then service providers could lease bandwidth and endpoints to provide direct service to their customers: instead of Comcast owning the cable network, the government owns the cable network and Comcast leases bandwidth and space in the government-owned nodes to provide television service to their customers. Similar models are already used for a number of types of internet services; one reason that Netflix is so fast is that you’re almost never streaming Netflix content from servers located out in “the cloud” but from ones housed at your local ISP.

            This neatly severs the monopoly aspect of television and internet service (the physical wires) from the consumer-facing aspect (the quality and quantity of service provided for a fee). Meanwhile, the government’s customers (for quality of service of the physical network) are not individuals, but large corporations that can exert significant political and financial leverage to overcome the natural tendency of government monopolies to stagnate and deliver minimum service quality.

            I don’t know that even this one example is a perfect system, and I’m delighted to discuss cases where you see it breaking down. But this represents my current (somewhat rambling) thoughts on the matter.

          • Jiro says:

            Microsoft only has a monopoly because of intellectual property laws. Otherwise anyone could copy and sell Windows.

          • hyperboloid says:

            David Friedman:

            You mention, Regulated and unregulated private firms, and government ownership; all of which have obvious downsides. But there is a forth option for organizing natural monopolies, namely consumer cooperatives.

            The coop model similar in some respects to government ownership, but it has a lot of advantages from a public choice theory point of view.

    • I certainly buy certain aspects of the neo-liberal ideology, as opposed to libertarian ideology:
      1. Market forces are the most powerful incentives.
      2. The invisible hand works.
      3. Free markets have failures that necessitate government intervention.
      Leads to:
      1. Privatize old government-run firms
      2. Keep a close eye on the privatized monopolies/public utilities so they still do their jobs.

      My disagreement is:
      1. Voluminous regulation at at all levels starts before the neoliberal era and has never demanded nationalization: fire codes in buildings are a great example. Chicago never thought we had to nationalize all property, but we certainly took fire code very seriously after a third of the city burned down!
      2. This reeks of populist backlash against large firm bail-out in favor of a broad welfare state: that’s a great way to destroy institutional and organizational capital and spend even MORE money on the welfare state. It also creates disincentives through the welfare state, contra point 1 above.

      So I am not on board with this “radical centrism” and think our neoliberal era has fared rather well.

      Where neoliberalism really fails, IMO, is that is a universal acid that destroys civic community and a sense of civic responsibility. “In the 80s, Capitalism beat Communism, in the 90s, Capitalism beat Democracy.”
      The sense of meritocracy and opening up our middle and lower classes to widescale competition has done significant damage to these classes, IMO, with a pseudo-Calvinist/Darwinist ethic of “they just deserve it, and I am the master of the universe, because I deserve it.”

      To the extent we need a change, and a radical change, it’s to our sense of national unity, away from meritocracy, and away from increasing federalism, and more to increasing localism.

      The best solution is the pursuit of new national goals and defiance of new national enemies.

      One man’s opinion.

      The most interesting thought is that true innovation comes from the fear of catastrophic failure and not the promise of success.
      To some extent this seems true, but to some extent I think innovation is also bred by certain relentless personality types, which are not drawn to government service.
      Can you picture Steve Jobs as a General? I sure as hell can’t.

      • Anita Restrepo-Sanchez says:

        “To the extent we need a change, and a radical change, it’s to our sense of national unity, away from meritocracy, and away from increasing federalism, and more to increasing localism.”

        How is national unity helped by increasing localism? Aren’t these pretty much opposing goals?

        And as for “moving away” from meritocracy, what’s the alternative?

  20. Deiseach says:

    I wonder if that 40% skepticism rate amongst the people in Homa Bay about “free money for nothing” could be fuelled by the fact that there are plenty of legitimate investment/charitable foundation endeavours?

    I imagine someone might think “If this was genuine, they’d be setting up employment opportunities with that kind of investment cash, not promising to give it to anyone who applies and doesn’t have to do anything in return. It must be some kind of money laundering racket!”

    • Cadie says:

      They could frame it as the money being in exchange for information – we want to learn more about how cash transfers improve outcomes in various situations, and giving them cash and then gathering aggregated information later about what measures improved and how much is part of how we’re studying it. So it’s not free money for nothing, exactly, even though there’s no specific tasks they have to do to get it – they’re “paying” with information, by letting us see how things turn out in comparison to similar populations that didn’t receive the funds.

      I’d be less skeptical of a deal like that than “here’s what you’d otherwise earn in a year, no strings attached.” That does seem fishy, whereas taking the money and letting them know ten years from now what I did with it and where I’m at in life is somewhat more plausible. A little suspect still, though much less. I think more people would take it seriously as a possibility, especially when the givers have much more money at their disposal than the target population has.

      • Tibor says:

        I am not sure whether people who often have no education would understand that explanation. It is also exactly true.

        I think it is easier to say something like:”You know these other charities here that march in here with a stupid idea that does not work and want to help the people? Well, we found out it makes more sense to simply give people money right away, picking the people who show most promise to put the money to a good use, which costs us the same but helps you more because you people know better than us what you need most”. That is something the villagers might relate to – and as an added bonus the other people in the village will be encouraged look like a “prospecting candidate” for this payment too, which might result in improvements in their lives even if they don’t get anything themselves or before they do.

        • Loquat says:

          Partial objection: they’re explicitly trying to give the money to everyone in the village, hard workers and layabouts alike. If they try saying it’s for the most promising candidates, that’ll just create more suspicion when people notice even the laziest underachiever in town can get the same money.

          • Deiseach says:

            Partial objection: they’re explicitly trying to give the money to everyone in the village, hard workers and layabouts alike.

            Yes, that’s the point: you don’t have to work for it or do anything. So if A wants to buy a flock of hens and start selling eggs with the money, and B wants to buy booze, they can do it with no difference to the people giving them the money.

            Can you really blame people for being suspicious about “too good to be true”? They’re going to give a working man’s wage equivalent to the lazy bum who sits around drunk all day? Why? There must be a catch!

            How many people here actually believe a corrupt Nigerian government official would cut them in for a share of the profits if they allow him to use their bank account to move his embezzled money? And we know there are plenty of corrupt officials creaming off aid money etc. and socking it away in Swiss accounts, so the scenario is at least plausible.

          • LPSP says:

            In other words, we NEED to be greedy hardasses that make unreasonable demands of people poorer than us, so that they trust us and see that we think like them.

          • Loquat says:

            @ LPSP

            Well, yes. One of the basic principles people all over the world tend to learn is that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, and anyone who says otherwise is trying to con you.

            And who says demands must be “unreasonable”, whatever that’s supposed to mean? To people that are accustomed to the idea that you have to work hard to get ahead, it seems more unreasonable to give away large amounts of money for nothing than it does to ask recipients to put in some effort in return.

          • LPSP says:

            I was exaggerating for humour, Loq.

          • Tibor says:

            As far as I understand it, GiveDirectly does select the people who get the money, they don’t just go around to villages and giving random people money. They have a profile of people whom the money seems to bring the most good (based on accumulated data from previous donations) and prioritize them. If they were convinced that you spend the money on booze or waste it without creating any longterm positive effects for yourself, they won’t give it to you.

            This is fundamentally different from the minimum basic income.

            As for the popularity of marxist (or also nationalist or sectarian) ideologies, they are very good memes because they offer you a world clearly divided between the good and the bad and a simple solution (usually kill/suppress the bad people) to all your problems. It gives its adherents both a sense of belonging and self-worth and at the same time shifts the blame for anything bad in their lives on others. It also offers immediate solutions, unlike “well, if you work hard and are a bit lucky on top of that then your grandchildren might live like the people in Europe. Also, this assumes that your country is not governed in a completely abysmal way and there is at least a semblance of the rule of law. Oh and by the way, you can do very little about those last factors yourself.”

        • Tekhno says:

          Maybe they could just tell them what it actually is? Explain economics and what the basic income concept is and why some people think it might be a good idea.

          • Lumifer says:

            So how much will be you able to explain to IQ 70-80 people who grew up in a low-trust environment?

          • Tekhno says:

            There were all sorts of Maoist and Soviet backed Marxist rebels running around Africa in the 70s, so it shouldn’t be that hard to explain economics and ideology to them.

            It’s hard to believe that the average IQ in some African countries really can be 70, because if I’m not mistaken that would be classified as functionally retarded appropriate word in the West. I don’t have much experience conversing with people who live in African countries, so I don’t have a good handle on what that’s like, but I’d assume the abysmal IQ stats primarily mean they suck at math and tests, because when you see them on TV they certainly don’t appear to be so dumb that they can barely function. Where is the day to day impairment you’d expect from an IQ of 70? Africans (Heh. The entire continent! Weee!) just seem like normal people who don’t know some stuff, and have their superstitions, not people who are so unintelligent as to be medically impaired.

            The low trust thing will be a problem, but just use the same tactics the Marxist guerillas used and it should be fine… unless you end up with Basic Income Death Squads.

          • LPSP says:

            People of African decent have high verbal skills relative to their overall IQs.*

            *citation needed

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Tekhno

            Not to be snarky, but do you actually base you opinion about the average IQ of an African country based on what you see on Western TV..?

            As to the Marxist guerillas, do you think they cared much about Marxism? or they cared about power which grows out of the barrel of an AK-47?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            LPSP: Heh. My IQ test showed a 30-point spread between verbal and spatial. If they’re weighed equally, and the average African-American IQ is 85, a spread like that would be about 70 spatial and 10 verbal.

            But if you go too much below 85, that would imply debilitating spatial IQs.

          • Tekhno says:

            @LPSP

            People of African decent have high verbal skills relative to their overall IQs.*

            *citation needed

            I’m not sure you even need high verbal skills to understand a simple concept like Basic Income. You only need to not be drooling on the floor.

            You just need to explain why you are giving out money in the first place, and what you are trying to test. Contextualizing it is important to help people understand.

            I’d try something like this:
            “Hey everyone, thank you for gathering here.

            Now, you all know how developed countries have welfare states to act as a safety net? Well, traditionally speaking, these welfare states have always involved means testing to try to tackle free riding, and are generally administered by large bureaucracies that have become increasingly expensive, and perhaps corrupt, which is a problem because as time goes by, more and more people in developed economies will require welfare in some form or another.

            Some people reckon that there is another way, that it might just be better to provide everyone in the country a minimum standard of living by just giving out a certain amount of money to each person no questions asked, so no means testing. These people believe that doing this will drastically reduce poverty without disincentivizing work, because people can work at the same time, and this may even allow the labor market to become more fluid, increasing productivity, as workers are no longer tied down in bad jobs. They call this idea Basic Income.

            Unfortunately, it’s a hard idea to test out, but we need to have some idea of what the effects might be before we can apply it on a large scale. That is why [my organization] has been set up to try out Basic Income, and see what the effects will be, here in Kenya, here in Homabay.

            Thanks to your co-operation, we will have been able to gather data that makes tackling poverty more effective, and as Africa develops, the same information will be useful here too. You will be helping your sons and daughters and their children.

            Thank you.

            I don’t see how you could not understand that. A 7 year old can get it. It’s not rocket science. Just get someone with better people skills, and cultural knowledge to write it and you’re good (hopefully).

            @Lumifer

            Not to be snarky, but do you actually base you opinion about the average IQ of an African country based on what you see on Western TV..?

            Well, unless there’s some kind of potemkin village like conspiracy going on, where drooling, crawling imbeciles are being hidden behind fake backdrops, I feel like I’ve seen enough footage to get some idea. Perhaps I’m being naive.

            As to the Marxist guerillas, do you think they cared much about Marxism? or they cared about power which grows out of the barrel of an AK-47?

            I’m going to guess they cared about Marxism, or at least the anti-colonialism part, and if you can understand ideology you can understand Basic Income. One of the reasons ZANU was so successful at whipping up trouble in Rhodesia was that their military wing heavily used propaganda and taught the rural people about their cause in the areas they would raid.

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            I’m not sure you even need high verbal skills to understand a simple concept like Basic Income. You only need to not be drooling on the floor.

            But the interwebs are full of people who don’t understand it (or who think they understand it, but don’t).

          • LPSP says:

            I’m not sure you even need high verbal skills to understand a simple concept like Basic Income. You only need to not be drooling on the floor.

            I can’t tell if you’re being extremely kind, or very harsh, to the average layman here.

            Depending on your perspective, you’re either saying that they’re able to hack the socio-political reasoning needed to accept free handouts (highly flattering and not true), or you’re calling them knuckle-dragging animals for their inability to grasp abstractions (which is unfair, especially because said inability is the case).

  21. dvasya says:

    “Where quality can actually be quantified, such as in computer models of crystallography work, ‘top’ journals come out significantly worse than other journals:” – that seems very reasonable! The “worse” work is usually also the first to come out. Anything appearing in the literature after that can only get published if it passes the filter of improving upon that Cell/Nature/Science paper. The authors completely ignore that science is nonstationary and has a time axis.

    • gw says:

      More or less. The top journals are only interested in publishing the crystals that have important implications. What’s left in that category tend to be very difficult to crystallize, GPCRs with seven trans-membrane domains and the like. “Lesser” journals like Protein Engineering will publish your favorite protein, which has potentially interesting functional characteristics or therapeutic implications, but is fairly vanilla, structurally speaking.

  22. TentativelyAssembled says:

    Depending on what the laws are in your area, having to buy a coffee to use the cafe’s Customer Only toilet might actually be illegal. From the article:

    Recently, in Chicago, Froiken’s son tried to use the bathroom at a Chipotle when the manager told him he had to buy something. Froiken’s son, well-versed on the city’s bathroom laws, correctly pointed out that this was in direct violation of city ordinance. The manager, somewhat reluctantly, allowed him to go for free.

  23. Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

    Randall Munroe’s latest xkcd masterpiece is “A Timeline of Earth’s Temperature Since the Last Ice-Age Glaciation.” The Friends sure understand how to catalyze (slow) cognitive adaptation, don’t they? No snark; no personalization; no cherry-picking; just a body of verifiable facts soberly presented within a context that is universal and natural.

    Entirely unlike Tom Wolfe’s snarky critique of Noam Chomsky. The contrast between Munroe and Wolfe makes it natural to wonder, why does Wolfe resort to such ineffectual critical methods?

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      > no cherry-picking

      Of course it’s cherry-picking. Take a look at this graph and decide exactly where you would start to make temperature change most extreme.

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/ca/EPICA_temperature_plot.svg/1280px-EPICA_temperature_plot.svg.png

      • Zombielicious says:

        Ikr! Everyone I’ve met who lived through those fluctuations said it was really no big deal compared to how the libertards portray it.

        More seriously though, that scale covers 800,000 years. Where on it are the derivatives as high as the one at the end of Monroe’s?

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Who knows? A 40-year change is less than tenth-a-pixel on that big graph.

          Your question is one I’ve been asking for 30 years and I’ve never gotten an answer to it.

          • The ice core data show rates of temperature change at a location (in Antarctica or Greenland) faster than current warming. So far as I know, there isn’t any source of data on global average temperature over the past million years with the sort of resolution one would need to see it.

        • K says:

          Pretty sure the derivative is much less accurate backwards in time. (Now we have accurate year-to-year data, working out the difference in temperature from 600000 years ago to 599999 years ago is probably trickier). I’m curious to know how certain we can be about the rate of change in earlier times – how long did it take for an ice age to set in, can we say for sure that it took some number of years for temperatures to drop?

          That said, there is a lot of other things that I haven’t found any good answers for, like why the frequency of ice ages change, why there were no such oscillations before (some time), and what the hell is up with the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_temperature_record#/media/File:Five_Myr_Climate_Change.png

      • Anonymous says:

        But the point of the comic is that past temperature change is not very extreme in comparison to what we expect over the next 100 years?

        So isn’t that the opposite of cherry picking?

        • The point he was making is that the time period shown was selected to start after the most recent previous period of rapid warming. Go back a few hundred thousand years and the current pattern (so far) looks much less exceptional.

          • Anonymous says:

            The xkcd graph just shows the most recent 20k years. It starts right at the beginning of a period of “rapid” warming.

            The whole point of the xkcd graph is that 20k years of “rapid” warming looks very very slow when you compare it to current projections for the next century.

            Again, this doesn’t look like cherry-picking at all to me.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Slight nitpick: it actually seems to start slightly-before-halfway through the last period of most rapid warming, at -4C (assuming the graphs match up for that period). But that doesn’t really change Anonymous’ point above.

          • Subbak says:

            Even assuming that there was a warming with comparable speed about 20k years ago, what exactly does it prove?
            It doesn’t prove that the current global warming isn’t man-made: we know it is from how well it matches the predictions made from the greenhouse model with carbon dioxyde and methane emissions.
            It doesn’t prove that society can survive it because there was no human society back then, just bands of hunter-gatherers. It’s about as relevant to our current predicament as an inhabitant of Pompei pointing out that surely the Vesuvius must have erupted before Italy was settled by humans.

            If anything, having the graph start at 20,000 BC is too generous, given that anything resembling a civilization didn’t arise until 10,000 BC at the earliest.

          • “what exactly does it prove?”

            Good question.

            It’s evidence that neither the temperature we can expect over the next century or two nor the current rate of warming is a serious threat to life on earth or likely to put us over a tipping point where positive feedback produces much greater warming. Both claims that are made by some in the Catastrophic AGW camp.

            “If anything, having the graph start at 20,000 BC is too generous, given that anything resembling a civilization didn’t arise until 10,000 BC at the earliest.”

            Why is that relevant? Do you think that the circumstances under which the civilizations of five or ten thousand years ago arose tell us anything useful about the circumstances under which our current civilization can thrive? Explain–I’ve always found that point puzzling.

          • Subbak says:

            “[Global warming is not] a serious threat to life on earth or likely to put us over a tipping point where positive feedback produces much greater warming.”
            I don’t agree with that second thing, but since it was based on me hypothetically conceding your earlier “the temperature has changed before” point for the sake of the argument, fine.
            Even then, “not destroying all life on Earth” is a pretty low bar to clear. I like civilization, I would like for it to continue existing.

            “Do you think that the circumstances under which the civilizations of five or ten thousand years ago arose tell us anything useful about the circumstances under which our current civilization can thrive?”
            Of course they don’t tell us much, our civilization is in many ways much more fragile (there are many things to disrupt that didn’t exist thousands of years ago), and in some others more resistant (for example, to epidemics).
            But the conditions under which hunter-gatherer groups could thrive tell us even less. That’s my point. The only thing we know is that change on the scale of roughly +1°C every 1k years (which incidentally is at least 10 times slower than what we’re experiencing) would probably not wipe out humanity. We have literally zero experimental data on how well any civilization, be it primitive, would survive.

          • “We have literally zero experimental data on how well any civilization, be it primitive, would survive.”

            But we have massive evidence that modern civilization can thrive under a wide variety of different climates, because it does. And the predicted rate of change, even if rapid compared to past rates, is very slow compared to the rate at which other things relevant to human civilization change.

            What environment hunter gatherers can function under is not very interesting, although I would expect them to be more vulnerable to climate change than we are. But what environment and rate of change the rest of the biosphere can function under is relevant, since it’s still around and important to us.

            So if both the level of temperature and its rate of change have been larger in the past than they are likely to be in the near future without catastrophic effects on living things, that’s pretty good evidence that the expected level and rate of change won’t have catastrophic effects on living things.

        • vV_Vv says:

          The historical data, especially on the geological scale, is highly smoothed, something that he admits but downplays in one of the text blobs. If he applied the same smoothing to the recent data, then the large increase in the last decade or so would not even register.

          Essentially, he is mixing low-resolution data with high-resolution data without making any correction, which is a very intellectually dishonest way of making a point about the derivative of the data.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        That graph is very different to the xkcd one. So just presenting it isn’t counter-evidence, you need to explain why the xkcd one is wrong.

        • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

          Sweeneyrod’s observations are correct. Also, the site explain xkcd assists understanding. Every xkcd comic has an explanatory rollover text, which in this case reads:

          “[after setting your car on fire] Listen, your car’s temperature has changed before.”

          In light of recent SSC comments, Munroe’s rollover text is foresighted and funny, yet kindly too. Tom Wolfe, take note! 🙂

      • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

        Of all climate proxies, borehole temperatures are among the least subject to modeling and cherry-picking errors, and these robust data strikingly affirm the “hockey-stick blade” of recent temperature-rise that concludes Randall Munroe’s xkcd summary.

        These data should quietly increase every rationalist’s Bayesian confidence that “xkcd’s climate-change worldview is essentially correct“, isn’t that so?

        • And meanwhile these borehole data (Figure 3) show a similar pattern for the last several interglacials, with peak temperatures well above the current temperature.

          The problem with borehole data is that they only show temperature at one location, not an average over the globe. Subject to that, they refute both the claim that current temperatures are unusually high for the end of an interglacial and the claim that the current rate of warming is higher than at any time in the past. I quote from the same piece:

          “During the last glacial period, Greenland experienced a sequence of very fast warmings (see Fig. 5 overleaf). The temperature increased by more than 10°C within 40 years.”

        • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

          The above comment conflates (mistakenly) the isotopic anomalies seen in ice-boreholes with the temperature anomalies seen in rock bore-holes.

          In accord with the strong consilience of modern climate-science, these two wholly independent climate proxies both affirm the standard model of global warming.

          In these matters, it’s wise to dig deeper! 🙂

          • Your comment was about boreholes. The data in question is from boreholes.

            I said nothing about the standard model of global warming, merely about claims that the recent pattern of temperature is unlike anything in the past.

            The isotopic information is being used to deduce temperature information. Climate researchers haven’t gotten funding for a time machine yet, so deducing past temperatures from proxies is the best they can manage.

    • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

      Lol … yep, it’s evident that one panel of xkcd can convey more understanding than entire chapters of Tom Wolfe (and Noam Chomsky too, for that matter).

      Interesting questions are, how exactly does Munroe achieve his magical cognitive effects? Can Munroe’s no-snark cognitive transformation methods be taught and learned?

      And conversely, how do Noam Chomsky and Tom Wolfe both fail? When we elide the cherry-picking from Chomsky, and the snark from Wolfe, what’s left that’s natural and universal?

      • Jill says:

        No-snark cognitive transformation methods are not useful for every purpose. Success as a pundit, or as a politician, is often attained by intensive snark and bashing of the Out Group. People who are very tribal and who lean in the same direction you do, may desire to see the Out Group set on fire and may reward you greatly for doing the job.

        If one wants to have an actual discussion in order to share ideas and learn from one another, snark is not helpful. But not many people want to do that.

      • moridinamael says:

        Monroe is trying to be an entertainer, so central in his evaluation is the question “is this entertaining?” More generally, “how is the audience going to react to this?” Implicit in those questions is some assumptions about the nature of the audience. XKCD is a popular comic for a variety of reasons, and one of those is that Monroe doesn’t generally draw absolutist ideological lines and alienate people. And when he does, the lines are usually drawn in such a way that they include 99% of his audience anyway.

        Chomsky always seems to be writing for an audience of Chomskyan liberals. I think he actually succeeds in entertaining them fairly well, since he’s become a “public intellectual” by doing what he does. I don’t know enough about Wolfe to comment on his methods, but I would guess he also has a specific conception of his audience.

    • Tekhno says:

      What are the immediate massive actions?

      • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

        Pop the carbon asset bubble? Obviously, not everyone is on-board with that. Not to worry though, `cuz asset-holders stick together! 🙂

        • Titanium Dragon says:

          The carbon bubble is bullshit. Everyone who uses fossil fuels (which is to say, literally everyone on the planet who matters) benefits from the low prices.

          The reality is that, assuming we don’t end up with catastrophic runaway global warming like Venus, the costs of global warming are probably outweighed by the benefits of cheap energy as we bootstrap ourselves upwards.

          • ” catastrophic runaway global warming like Venus”

            The estimate for the effect of burning all of the Earth’s hydrocarbons is about a ten degree increase, spread out over a thousand years. That’s only a little warmer than the estimate for the PETM, which did not lead to runaway warming.

          • James Picone says:

            10 to 12c increase spread out over the next couple centuries in the paper you just linked.

            EDIT: Although yes, Venus isn’t possible here.

          • “10 to 12c increase spread out over the next couple centuries in the paper you just linked.”

            You are correct that it’s faster than I thought. I read Figure 1 c as showing the peak in about five hundred years. Is there something more precise in the text that I missed?

            The figure is showing temperature relative to pre-industrial, so you want to subtract about a degree for change relative to the present.

          • James Picone says:

            Can’t find more detailed figures in the paper. Downloading the image and looking at it in paint.net, the peak occurs ~40 pixels after the 2000 tick, 4000 tick is ~240 pixels away, ~=333 years.

            But the low scenario crosses the 10c mark ~20 pixels in, ~=166 years.

        • moridinamael says:

          High fossil fuel prices equals dead babies in the short term. It’s not a solution that can ever fly, politically.

      • Tekhno says:

        The only way of doing so in a non-devastating way is to have alternatives, and not just to power generation, but also to plastic. This is really why it’s a technology problem. The best thing for governments to do would be to keep subsidizing alternatives until they are ready, so we can make a nice clean transfer without disruption to modern life.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          What about plastic? Every barrel of oil that is turned into plastic is a barrel not burnt.

        • Tekhno says:

          Yes, but can we easily target the fuels part of the petro industry without hurting the products made from hydrocarbons side?

          We should certainly at least be still pulling oil out of the ground and building more pipelines. We just want to stop burning the stuff (in open air).

          • All of this assumes that warming is bad, which is the weakest part of the current orthodoxy.

          • Saint Fiasco says:

            Warming is different. That’s bad enough for a lot of people who depend on the current climate/place arrangement.

          • Subbak says:

            The first obvious bad consequence of warming is that any settlements that are not high enough would have to be evacuated. Given that humans love making cities near water, that’s a lot of displaced population, enough to make Vietnam and Syria together look ridiculous.

            Then there’s the reintroduction of tropical disease in temperate zones: people there no longer have any sort of herd immunity to it, so the damages could be even higher than they are in tropical zones currently afflicted.

            Finally there’s the unpredictability. You know there’s going to be a massive change, but the models are not very specific and there are a lot of things we might have not anticipated. That’s never good.

          • “The first obvious bad consequence of warming is that any settlements that are not high enough would have to be evacuated.”

            What level of warming are you imagining?

            Most of the population of the Earth lives in places that are at least four degrees cooler in average temperature than other places where other people live. On the most pessimistic of the IPCC projections for 2100, we aren’t talking about turning the climate of Minnesota into that of Calcutta but into that of Iowa.

            Further, for well understood reasons, greenhouse gas warming tends to be greater in cold places and times than in hot. So if average global temperatures go up by four degrees, summer temperatures in hot areas, which are the potential problem, go up by less than that, how much less depending on the details.

            I did some very rough calculations on the effect of extreme global warming some time back. My estimate was that a five degree increase in maximum temperatures, which would require a larger increase than that in average temperatures, would make about seven million square km uninhabitable hot. That’s a lot of land, but only about five percent of the land area of the Earth. And the same change would make inhabitable large areas that are now uninhabitable due to cold.

          • Titanium Dragon says:

            It is mostly a question of cost-benefit analysis. The benefits of cheap energy are enormous – probably far greater than the costs of global warming, which, however large, probably aren’t nearly as large as the total global economy.

            In the end, barring runaway global warming, the biggest negatives are going to be flooded coastal areas and displacement of people from some regions. That’s costly, but not the end of the world, and would take place over a relatively long period of time, allowing us to defray the costs somewhat (and build a dome over Disney World, which will become Disney World Atlantis).

            The real danger of global warming, frankly, is political instability, not the actual direct environmental effects.

          • @Titanium Dragon:

            Unless you are imagining effects several centuries into the future, I believe you are seriously overestimating the scale of the negative effects of AGW. There is a nice web page, based on topographic maps, that lets you estimate the effect of different levels of sea level rise.

            The current IPCC estimate for 2100 has a high end of about one meter. Hansen thinks it might be several meters.

            At 20 meters of SLR, Orlando is still above water.

          • Subbak says:

            David Friedman: I’m talking about sea level rise when I’m saying settlements near the sea would have to be evacuated. Projected se level rise from the melting glaciers and ice sheets (as well as thermal expansion). All big coastal cities would be underwater.

            The IPCC figurs you cite are generally considered to be very conservative, as you say. Orlando itself might not be threatened, but I am assuming that was hyperbole. Displacing the whole population of the Netherlands for starters doesn’t sound like fun.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Subbak

            The first obvious bad consequence of warming is that any settlements that are not high enough would have to be evacuated. Given that humans love making cities near water, that’s a lot of displaced population, enough to make Vietnam and Syria together look ridiculous.

            Note that, barring black swan runaway warming scenarios, the sea level rise is projected to occur over centuries to millennia. So if you are thinking of masses of refugees fleeing flooded cities then think again.

            Most modern buildings will typically have a lifespan much lower than this time scale, so what will happen is that when waterfront buildings reach their typical end of life and are demolished, instead of making another building at the same spot, the area is turned to something like a road or a promenade, then to a beach or a seawall, and finally it is submerged by the sea, long after the previous inhabitant left.

            Specific sites of historical or commercial interest could be preserved by damming or other coastline engineering techniques. So no underwater Statue of Liberty like in the movies.

          • Anonymous says:

            EDIT: vV_Vv beat me to the punch…

            The current IPCC estimate for 2100 has a high end of about one meter.

            And the timescale is really important here. Most people ignore the timescale and kind of imagine that it happens instantaneously:

            Displacing the whole population of the Netherlands for starters doesn’t sound like fun.

            Sure, if that happened on a timescale of, say, a war… then yes. It would be a big problem. Consider the Syrian War. In less than five years, we had at least six million refugees. The population of the Netherlands is just under 17 million. If this happened in even ten years, it would be really hard.

            Over a hundred years? Come’on. Ten years from now, the popular real estate will be a little bit inland from where it is now. Ten years from then, the popular real estate will be a little bit inland from where it was then. Etc. Some people will gain from the change; some people will lose. We might choose to relocate some items of considerable cultural significance, which would be expensive… but we have no way of actually comparing this expense.

            The biggest problem is politics/borders. If an entire country actually became unlivable, we would have to see adjustments in polities. However, looking back through history, adjustments to polities run on extremely fast timescales (compared to climate timescales). Do we have any reason to believe that such changes to population location or political structures would be faster or more dangerous than the standard fast-scale dynamics these things exhibit due to run-of-the-mill factors like politics/war and economics?

          • “All big coastal cities would be underwater.”

            At what level of SLR? Most of New Orleans is already below sea level and has been for a long time. I don’t know of any other city that would be below sea level with one meter of SLR, which is the high end of the IPCC prediction for 2100, am not sure if there are any that would be with three meters.

            That’s not counting cities already below sea level in the Netherlands.

            “The IPCC figurs you cite are generally considered to be very conservative, as you say.”

            That’s not what I said. What I said was that one author, Hansen, had higher estimates than that.

            The IPCC, as is pretty obvious reading the reports, wants to persuade people there is a problem, so insofar as they have a bias it’s towards overestimating negative effects. I analyzed past IPCC temperature predictions on my blog sometime back, and the pattern is for actual warming to be at or below the low end of their predicted range.

            You didn’t answer my question. How much SLR are you assuming? My guess is that the answer has to be either much more than even Hansen expects or too low to put all big coastal cities underwater. If you disagree, there is a web page that lets you check.

            Going over the U.S. west coast map at twenty meters SLR, I find most of San Francisco and most of Los Angeles still above water.

            Suppose you check the map and find that your claim is wildly exaggerated, that at the level expected by Hansen for 2100, about three meters, most large coastal cities are still mostly above water. Will that change your views either of climate issues in particular of of how you form your beliefs more generally?

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            The biggest problem is politics/borders. If an entire country actually became unlivable, we would have to see adjustments in polities

            Looking back over history, “adjustments to politics can” very easily be a euphemism for “war”.
            War is very expensive, so that is indeed a big problem, and one that may well weigh on the side of doing something about GW.

          • “War is very expensive, so that is indeed a big problem, and one that may well weigh on the side of doing something about GW.”

            On the other hand, “doing something about GW” raises the problem of how to prevent nations from being free riders, which provides a new incentive for war. If one takes seriously the extreme versions of climate alarmism, they provide an adequate reason to make war against a country unwilling to keep down its CO2 emissions.

          • Anonymous says:

            Looking back over history, “adjustments to politics can” very easily be a euphemism for “war”.

            That’s a possibility. Of course, that’s always a possibility. Political/economic events drive war at least as often, and again.. these events happen on vastly faster timescales than climate change. Frankly, no one has any idea how to compute what effect a slow parameter change will have to the fast dynamics. None whatsoever.

            Basic dynamical systems theory requires that when we model timescale-separated systems, we hold the slow system constant, let the fast system converge, and then step forward the slow system. We literally can’t do this, and so everyone tries to do it the wrong way round. Frankly, you’re doing that, too, which is why you’re imagining war rather than gradual immigration and a national population simply dwindling into expiration.

          • James Picone says:

            @David
            This comment thread starts from a graph demonstrating that last time global temperature was 4 to 5c below where it is now most of northern America was covered in ice. This is not a good time to claim that a 4 to 5c temperature increase is nothing.

            And as I’ve pointed out several times before, your ‘analysis’ of the IPCC’s predictions is wildly, terribly wrong. Repeatedly linking to blog post that demonstrates that you can’t calculate a linear trend is not a good way to convince people you have any idea what you’re talking about. Hint: The trend since 1990 to 2013 is ~0.15 C/decade, 50% larger than the figure you quote. The GISTEMP figure is 0.166 C/decade.

            Not only that, but you quote a FAR figure for the /next century/ and assume the warming will be linear, a tactic usually deployed only by Christopher Monckton, try to infer something from trends in the period 2007 to 2013 (p.s. the linear trend 2007 to present is currently 0.3 C/decade in GISTEMP. Do you conclude that AR4 is too low? Or do you correctly conclude that it’s just noise?), and blithely ignore that the FAR was published shortly after the Montreal protocol, which had a very significant effect on concentrations of a powerful greenhouse gas.

            Incompetent or deceptive? I’ll let everyone else decide.

          • “10 to 12c increase spread out over the next couple centuries in the paper you just linked.”

            You are correct that it’s faster than I thought. I read Figure 1 c as showing the peak in about five hundred years. Is there something more precise in the text that I missed?

            The figure is showing temperature relative to pre-industrial, so you want to subtract about a degree for change relative to the present.

          • @Picone:

            “This is not a good time to claim that a 4 to 5c temperature increase is nothing.”

            Could you quote me claiming that? I thought I was disputing the claim that

            “All big coastal cities would be underwater.”

            Would you like to defend that claim? If you agree with me that it is nonsense, at least for the next century or so, why didn’t you say so instead of taking the opportunity to attack my old blog post on IPCC predictions?

            “Hint: The trend since 1990 to 2013 is ~0.15 C/decade, 50% larger than the figure you quote.”

            I took the simplest approach, which works pretty well for long periods—temperature at the end of the period minus temperature at the beginning divided by length of the period. And said that was what I was doing:

            “Checking a graph on a NASA page, the increase from 1990 to 2013 was about .22°C, for an average rate of increase of about .1°C/decade.”

            Checking the NASA page:

            1990: .44
            2013: .66
            [.66-.44]/23=.0096

            You don’t say how you calculated your figure. Or mention that it is still below the bottom of the range predicted in the first IPCC report.

            “try to infer something from trends in the period 2007 to 2013”

            I wrote:

            “The fourth report was written in 2007 and predicted temperature change thereafter. Looking at the graph from the NASA page, temperature from then to now has been essentially flat, with the slope positive or negative depending on your choice of end points. It’s too short a time period to evaluate the prediction with much confidence, but so far as one can judge it was high.”

            Checking the numbers on the NASA page:

            2007: .66
            2013: .66
            Rate of increase zero.

            When I wrote that blog post I seem to have been working off the NASA graph to which I linked–I’m not sure if I hadn’t yet come across the page with numerical data that I’ve just been citing. If you look at that graph, do you disagree with my statement about the pattern from 2003 to 2013?

            “Not only that, but you quote a FAR figure for the /next century/ and assume the warming will be linear, a tactic usually deployed only by Christopher Monckton”

            FAR could be First, Fourth, or even Fifth Assessment Report. What I wrote about the First Assessment Report was:

            “The graph shown for the increase is close to a straight line at least from 2000 on, so it seems reasonable to ask whether the average increase from 1990 to the present is within that range.”

            What the text I quoted said:

            “the average rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century”

            I take “during the next century” as meaning “during the next hundred years” not “during the century that starts in 2001.” Do you have a reason for the alternative interpretation?

          • James Picone says:

            @David

            Could you quote me claiming [that 4-5c is nothing]?

            here:

            Most of the population of the Earth lives in places that are at least four degrees cooler in average temperature than other places where other people live.

            I thought I was disputing the claim that

            “All big coastal cities would be underwater.”

            Would you like to defend that claim? If you agree with me that it is nonsense, at least for the next century or so, why didn’t you say so instead of taking the opportunity to attack my old blog post on IPCC predictions?

            I don’t think it’s likely. I give Hansen’s very rapid ice sheet disintegration stuff and the clathrate gun stuff maybe 1% each. I believe either of them result in tens of metres of sea level rise over the next century, which I believe is sufficient to do awful stuff to the vast majority of coastal cities. But I wouldn’t expect them to be underwater in the general case. More exposed to storms, don’t know enough to know how big a deal that is. Ultimately I do think we’re looking at 120 metres; I don’t think the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets will survive what we’ve already put in the atmosphere, but that’s over the next several thousand years, and we’ll probably have all killed ourselves in a much more inventive way by then.

            Several people had already said it was wrong; and I think it’s more important to note that your IPCC projection comparison is very very wrong.

            I took the simplest approach, which works pretty well for long periods—temperature at the end of the period minus temperature at the beginning divided by length of the period. And said that was what I was doing:

            i.e. you didn’t calculate the trend. Given that you’re an economist I would hope you know how to do simple linear regression; I can see zero legitimate reasons to do what you did instead.

            “Checking a graph on a NASA page, the increase from 1990 to 2013 was about .22°C, for an average rate of increase of about .1°C/decade.”

            Checking the NASA page:

            1990: .44
            2013: .66
            [.66-.44]/23=.0096

            And if the FAR came out in 1989, yearly average anomaly .29c, or 1992, yearly average anomaly .23c? You get ~0.15 c/decade and ~0.2 c/decade, respectively. You don’t think that’s a suggestion that your method is wildly unsound?

            You don’t say how you calculated your figure. Or mention that it is still below the bottom of the range predicted in the first IPCC report.

            I calculated them using simple linear regression, the bog-standard tool for estimating linear trends in data, via SkS’ very useful trend calculator

            The range you quoted is for the next century. You cannot extend it linearly to the present day and assume it’ll be the same throughout; the scenario involves emissions growing superexponentially. I already noted that in the comment you’re replying to. This genuinely is a mistake made by Monckton, which is an excellent demonstration of the company you’re in.

            (plus the forcings are high because we actually did do something to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the Montreal protocol. IIRC FAR’s projections didn’t take it into account because it was very, very new; it would have projected much higher CFC growth in the highest scenario you used than we actually got because of it.)

            I wrote:

            “The fourth report was written in 2007 and predicted temperature change thereafter. Looking at the graph from the NASA page, temperature from then to now has been essentially flat, with the slope positive or negative depending on your choice of end points. It’s too short a time period to evaluate the prediction with much confidence, but so far as one can judge it was high.”

            Checking the numbers on the NASA page:

            2007: .66
            2013: .66
            Rate of increase zero.

            When I wrote that blog post I seem to have been working off the NASA graph to which I linked–I’m not sure if I hadn’t yet come across the page with numerical data that I’ve just been citing. If you look at that graph, do you disagree with my statement about the pattern from 2003 to 2013?

            My point is that the period 2007 to 2013 is far, far too short to draw meaningful conclusions (absent excursions substantially larger than the ones we got). My point is that attempting to draw conclusions from that indicates that you’re either incompetent to analyse noisy time series data (which is something I assume you have education in, so it’s kind of a big deal) or you know it’s meaningless but you’re presenting it because it looks good to people who don’t know better. This is why I quoted the 2007 to present figure, which is very high. Because it’s just noise. If your estimate of trend over a period increases ~7 times with the addition of three years of data, that’s an indication you’re doing something wrong.

            I assume you mean 2007 to 2013 at the end there, because you don’t even mention 2003 in the original post. Yes, I think you’re wrong to characterise the trend as you did. A better characterisation is 0.051 +- 0.539 C/decade, which you’ll note includes the IPCC’s range. And approximately everything else. Because it’s a six-year trend and completely meaningless.

            FAR could be First, Fourth, or even Fifth Assessment Report. What I wrote about the First Assessment Report was:

            The usual acronyms are FAR, SAR, TAR, AR4 and AR5. I’m surprised you’re not familiar with them.

            “The graph shown for the increase is close to a straight line at least from 2000 on, so it seems reasonable to ask whether the average increase from 1990 to the present is within that range.”

            What the text I quoted said:

            “the average rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century”

            I take “during the next century” as meaning “during the next hundred years” not “during the century that starts in 2001.” Do you have a reason for the alternative interpretation?

            I’m not complaining about that part (although I think they did actually mean 2100, but whatever). I’m complaining about you assuming it’s linear over that period. It’s not.

          • @ Picone:

            I wrote:

            “Could you quote me claiming [that 4-5c is nothing]?”

            You responded with a link to a comment where I responded to someone claiming that

            “The first obvious bad consequence of warming is that any settlements that are not high enough would have to be evacuated.”

            The obvious implication was that sea level settlements would be either flooded or too hot to be habitable. That’s a wild exaggeration, as I think I demonstrated in my reply. I did not say nor imply that there would be no bad (or good) consequences from warming of four to five degrees.

            “Ultimately I do think we’re looking at 120 metres; I don’t think the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets will survive what we’ve already put in the atmosphere, but that’s over the next several thousand years, and we’ll probably have all killed ourselves in a much more inventive way by then.”

            The final point was one I have made multiple times, although I wouldn’t say “probably.” But I do think it is probable that in that long things will have changed so much, due to technological change, to make any prediction now nearly worthless. That might mean we have wiped ourselves out, it might mean humans are mostly living in space, or uploaded, or rich enough to put the carbon back in the ground with the spare change from the then equivalent of Bill Gates.

            So you agree that the comment I criticized as nonsense was nonsense, but instead of saying so you took the opportunity to criticize my analysis of past IPCC predictions.

            “i.e. you didn’t calculate the trend. Given that you’re an economist I would hope you know how to do simple linear regression; I can see zero legitimate reasons to do what you did instead.”

            Surprising, given that by the end of your comment you had demonstrated the obvious reason.

            I am writing to persuade people of things they don’t want to believe. I expect a hostile and critical response. Measuring the slope of a line from one end point to another is simple enough so that even a moderately intelligent person with only a slight preference for believing what is true can check that I am doing it honestly. If I report the result of a more complicated calculation, such as a least squares fit, many readers won’t know what it is, most of the rest won’t bother to look up all the data, type it into Excel or a statistics program. They will simply dismiss it as propaganda by the bad guys.

            As you know, I have a blog post on another topic which demonstrates that one prominent figure in the climate debates lied in print about his own work and later lied online about my criticism. Most people on his side, I think including you although I may be misremembering, can read that and find some way of evading the implication, even though all the evidence is on the web provided by the person I’m criticizing. The more complicated my analysis, the easier it is to do that.

            “which is an excellent demonstration of the company you’re in.”

            And you are referencing sks.com, run by John Cook, the subject of my post mentioned above, which is an excellent demonstration of the company you are in. Guilt by association doesn’t answer arguments.

            “My point is that the period 2007 to 2013 is far, far too short to draw meaningful conclusions ”

            Which, minus the “far, too far,” is what I said in the post you are attacking. I wrote:

            “Looking at the graph from the NASA page, temperature from then to now has been essentially flat, with the slope positive or negative depending on your choice of end points. It’s too short a time period to evaluate the prediction with much confidence, but so far as one can judge it was high.”

            You wrote:

            “I’m complaining about you assuming it’s linear over that period. It’s not.”

            I think you are referring to the period for which I quoted the IPCC as saying:

            “For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emissions scenarios.”

            Perhaps you should complain to the authors of the report for describing the warming as linear.

            If you are referring to my analysis of the first report, I said it wasn’t linear and you just quoted me saying it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:

            Most of the population of the Earth lives in places that are at least four degrees cooler in average temperature than other places where other people live.

            You said this! The clear implication is that 4 or 5 degrees is essentially negligible. Then you asked where you said it, you are provided it, and don’t have the grace to acknowledge what you said.

            I thought I was disputing the claim that

            “All big coastal cities would be underwater.”

            That isn’t the claim you actually responded to when you made that statement. The statement was that populations affected by sea rise would need to be evacuated and that would be an issue given how much we like to build near water.

            You do not hold yourself to the same standards that you demand of others.

          • (quoting me)
            “Most of the population of the Earth lives in places that are at least four degrees cooler in average temperature than other places where other people live.”

            You said this! The clear implication is that 4 or 5 degrees is essentially negligible.

            Not essentially negligible. Not lethal. I believe that at some point in the thread I linked to an old blog post where I estimated how much land area would become uninhabitable as a result of a five degree increase in maximum temperature.

            You are correct that I was responding at that point on the assumption that it was temperature rather than sea level rise that the person I responded to was referring to. I’m not sure why, possibly because I had thought about that issue in the past.

            Both Subbak and someone else brought up sea level rise and I responded to that.

            So I don’t see what you are complaining about. What wicked thing was I doing in responding first to one argument, which it turned out was not the one Subbak intended, and then to the other that was?

          • James Picone says:

            @David:
            I don’t buy that explanation, when your ‘simple’ algorithm can be criticised on the basis that you’re not actually calculating a linear trend by anyone who’s done high-school mathematics, and when it also generates results that are substantially more convenient for the claims you’re making.

            With actual linear trends, suddenly the IPCC’s projections look really good. Surely that’s a point worth noting in a blog post comparing the IPCC’s projections to reality?

          • “With actual linear trends, suddenly the IPCC’s projections look really good. ”

            Really? You wrote:

            “The trend since 1990 to 2013 is ~0.15 C/decade, 50% larger than the figure you quote.”

            The IPCC projection was a range from .2 to .5.

            I explained why I used the simplest way of measuring the rate of warming over a period. You find that unconvincing.

            As I already explained, the fact that I am writing for readers who will find any possible excuse for not believing me is a reason to do the calculation in a way that any idiot could follow.

          • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

            by anyone who’s done high-school mathematics

            *Sigh*

            High school students are hard pressed to find the slope of a line using two points; I have not met anyone that did any high faluting trend analyse. It’s just not in the curriculum.

            But I think you know this.

          • James Picone says:

            EDIT:

            *Sigh*

            High school students are hard pressed to find the slope of a line using two points; I have not met anyone that did any high faluting trend analyse. It’s just not in the curriculum.

            But I think you know this.

            I did simple linear regression in high school. Something something difference between American and other countries’ curricula?

            AND THE ORIGINAL:

            Really? You wrote:

            “The trend since 1990 to 2013 is ~0.15 C/decade, 50% larger than the figure you quote.”

            The FARIPCC projection was a range from .2 to .5 averaged over the next century

            (my additions in bold/strikethrough).

            What about the SAR and TAR? Square in the middle of their projections. AR4 was barely 9 years ago, really not possible to judge. Linear trend over 2009 to present is 0.345 ±0.313 °C/decade. Note the huge uncertainty. Consistent with the AR4 range, but uninformatively so. AR5 would be ridiculous to quote near-term figures for.

            Broadly the IPCC comes out looking accurate. Funny that. It’s almost like the vast majority of climate scientists might actually know something.

            I explained why I used the simplest way of measuring the rate of warming over a period. You find that unconvincing.

            As I already explained, the fact that I am writing for readers who will find any possible excuse for not believing me is a reason to do the calculation in a way that any idiot could follow.

            If I’d done something similar and started projections in, say, 1985 (when Hansen started work on his well-known 1988 paper), 1992 (Supplement to the FAR), 1995 (SAR was mostly based on research published before it was published, it was published in 1996, assume 1995 cutoff date) and 2000 (similar reasoning as 1995, but for the TAR), would you buy a “yeah I was just trying to be simple” explanation? Or if John Cook had done it?

            The way you make your argument resistant to “yeah but you’re choosing methods to make your argument look better” is not to use something simple and wrong; it’s to use demonstrably-correct standard methods. Like simple linear regression. Which frankly isn’t that complicated.

            This is a running thing in various ‘skeptical’ groups – being simple, intuitive, and wrong. “Water vapour is a much stronger GHG!” yeah but it doesn’t have CO2 residence time so we can’t put excess into the atmosphere, also congratulations you’ve discovered feedbacks. “CO2 absorption is saturated!” one blanket saturates heat transfer; do you think a second blanket won’t do anything? “Climate’s changed in the past!” Yeah, and people have died of natural causes, does that mean people can’t die of other things? “I think there’s more variability in paleoclimate than the proxies capture!” Oh, so you think climate sensitivity is higher than the IPCC’s estimate, so we’re more screwed? (People complaining about peaks getting smoothed out in the IPCC graph take note – you are not arguing for what you think you’re arguing for).

            Is it too much to ask that you actually learn something about the field you’re smugly throwing standard bullshit at before making yourself look like an idiot? This is supposed to be a rationalist blog where rational people hang out rationally; have the fucking humility to realise that maybe the entire scientific enterprise doesn’t have climate science so wrong that a short comment on a blog post illustrates a fundamental problem. This isn’t just directed at you, David, it’s directed at everyone being ‘skeptical’ here. Like Hlynkacg, who seems to think the only reason climate scientists think the world gets warmer with more CO2 is extrapolation. Or the huge discussion about ‘cherry-picking’, which… I don’t even understand what point they think they’re making. I don’t think there’s anywhere Randall Munroe could have started the graph that would make paleoclimate increase anywhere near as fast as it’s increasing today. And then there’s all the hippie-punching and general paranoid conspiracising.

            Read The Discovery of Global Warming, maybe. Read some of the many technical blogs out there about climate science – Realclimate has some interesting stuff, Isaac Held blogs about modelling, Science of Doom has a bunch of posts about basically everything.

          • “Broadly the IPCC comes out looking accurate.”

            As I pointed out in the blog post we are discussing, it does less well than simply drawing a line from temperature when the present warming started to temperature the year of the first IPCC report and extrapolating. Worse than the simplest two parameter fit isn’t an impressive performance for an elaborate set of models.

            On your wildly optimistic view of what American high school students can be expected to know … . My wife, back when she was a geology graduate student at VPI, taught a basic geology course used by non-science students to meet their science requirement. VPI was the second best public university in the state (after UVa), only a minority of high school students go to university, so VPI students represented something like the top quartile of high school graduates.

            A sizable minority, given the height, width and depth of a rectangular body of ore, had no idea how to calculate the volume.

          • James Picone says:

            As I pointed out in the blog post we are discussing, it does less well than simply drawing a line from temperature when the present warming started to temperature the year of the first IPCC report and extrapolating. Worse than the simplest two parameter fit isn’t an impressive performance for an elaborate set of models.

            Trend from 1970s to 1990 is around 0.15c/decade, so the ‘just extrapolate recent warming’ projection is pretty much what the IPCC projected in SAR/TAR. You don’t have a leg to stand on here (and, again, the FAR projection is for /warming averaged over the next century/, which isn’t expected to be linear. And it predates CFC emissions dropping drastically).

            (also mere statistical extrapolation is much less impressive than matching the same results with theoretically-calculated results)

            Your comparison is wrong. It’s wrong because you’ve chosen a wildly inappropriate method of analysis. The end.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Problem is that nuclear power plants take years to build and get running. Even if this policy was adopted tomorrow, it’d be something like 7-10 years (iirc, don’t quote me) before they went online. The U.S. is already projected to be mostly reliant on solar somewhere in the mid-2030s, just due to the rate at which the cost/kW is dropping [edit: actually this appears to be completely incorrect – not sure where I heard it and will have to do further research, but it looks like the U.S. electricity production will still be 44% coal by 2035]. The time to have built a bunch of nuclear power plants was 20+ years ago (thanks anti-nuclear people!), in which case we might have avoided much of this problem (though given the history of not-giving-a-shit-about-safety, I’m not sure how much I’d have trusted the plants of 30 years ago, either – see Fukushima, though it was almost 50 years old at the time of the disaster). As it is we’re right on the verge of where there isn’t much point because solar will be here not long after new nuclear power would get going, so there’d be huge costs to then having all these new nuclear plants around right when solar was starting to outcompete them. It takes a while for those things to pay for themselves.

            My understanding, anyway.

          • The Nybbler says:

            No, we can’t, for the same reason we can’t build any other major infrastructure, PLUS all the anti-nuke stuff piled on top. The only way we’ll build nukes again is if there’s a purge of environmentalists after too many people freeze to death due to lack of power. And perhaps not even then; the “Falling Angels” scenario where energy use gets blame for that is possible.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            We could build some goddamn fucking nuke plants.

            Unlikely. Generation X is going to stay in power for another 10-20 years at least, and it fucking hates nuclear energy.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Nybbler:
            Perception of nuclear power is broadly negative and it isn’t limited to environmentalists, it suffers as much from animosity of competing industries (coal, natural gas, etc) as from the public, and there are environmentalists who support nuclear energy specifically as a means to limit carbon emissions (Stewart Brand, for instance).

          • The Nybbler says:

            Gen X isn’t in power and never will be in power; we’re too small. It’s mostly skipping directly from the Boomers to the Millennials with a few Xers mixed in.

            Yes, there are some enviromentalists who support nuclear energy now, when it’s not going to happen. If it looked like it would, they’d change their tune to find problems with it. Just like for solar thermal (ruins the desert environment! Reduces the albedo of the planet!), just like wind (Kills birds! Changes wind patterns in a bad way! Transmission lines are ugly).

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I’m having a hard time buying that environmentalists, as a group, aren’t a major barrier to nuclear power.

            I know a bunch of individual environmentalists who are for it, but they don’t write op-eds or kick out members who are standing in the way (sometimes literally) of plant construction.

            Where’s the Matt Damon movie excoriating nuclear plant obstructionists?

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Nybbler:
            Your theory introduces unnecessary complexity. You’re positing guys like Brand are actually strongly against nuclear power, but promote it publicly anyway, for some unspecified motives, and would actually change their story, even at loss of their own credibility, if new nuclear plants seemed like an actual possibility. Rather than the simpler explanation that environmentalists aren’t a single homogeneous hivemind who agree on everything, and there’s internal disagreement about it (for instance), similar to other stuff like GMOs?

            Anti-nuclear and anti-GMO stuff is environmental populism. The better informed, non-populist ones generally aren’t opposed since most agree they’d be net positives for the environment (nuclear by reducing carbon emissions and GMOs by improving crop yields).

            @Edward Scizorhands:
            I’m guessing their contributions to preventing nuclear power at being about the same as their success rate in preventing fracking, offshore drilling, mountaintop removal, etc: marginal at best. Compared to groups like the coal, oil, and gas lobbies that also have incentives to stall competing energy sources. The fact they largely align on this issue just makes it worse, since it creates huge political disincentives when you have groups in both tribes (e.g. environmentalists and coal workers) AND big industry lobbies all opposed to nuclear power.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Gen X isn’t in power and never will be in power; we’re too small. It’s mostly skipping directly from the Boomers to the Millennials with a few Xers mixed in.

            You speak for yourself, America; where I live, it’s been in power for 6 years, which is just about the earliest it could be; people below the age of 45 generally don’t make it big in politics. I’m not even sure if I’ll accept that this is not so in the US, as your current president is born rather late to be called much of a boomer. Definetly an edge case there.

            The millennial thing raises my doubts, too. I predict the first millennial presidents/prime ministers in the west to start appearing after 2030 or so at the earliest, and even then it’ll take a while. Am I missing something here? Some great lineup of millennial political talents in many countries who appear slated to do so well generation X doesn’t have a chance? I’ve a feeling that if Cruz or Rubio would’ve won your Republican primaries, this argument would look much worse.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Obviously, higher taxes, extensive government control over the economy, subsidies for major corporations that are on board politically, and delegitimization and censorship of opposing views. Just like the proposed solutions for every other crisis.

        • Subbak says:

          And those are bad because ?

          • Jill says:

            For those of us really committed to using our brains here, we could likely look at a specific situation and see where higher taxes, or (not necessarily extensive) government control over the economy, or subsidies for corporations would be good for attaining certain goals in that situation. And where one or more of those would be counterproductive for attaining certain goals in that situation.

            But, most people, uninterested in using their minds, and interested in only using their ideologies, they are compelled to believe that higher taxes, government control over the economy, and subsidies for major corporations, are bad 100% of the time for all purposes. Or are good 100% of the time. And Never the Twain Shall Meet. And never shall the specific situation and alternate possible ways of accomplishing goals be looked at.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I merely find it suspicious that those are the proposed solutions for every single problem we encounter. It’s almost as if the point is to centralize power, not solve any problem in particular.

            Jill: can we at least agree that “delegitimization and censorship of opposing views” is probably not going to help the situation? That’s the only one in the pile I’m really married to, frankly.

          • Jiro says:

            For those of us really committed to using our brains here

            I’m sorry I’m not committed to using my brains here, Jill. Is that a requirement for posing to SSC?

          • Subbak says:

            THirteenthLetter: It depends what you mean by “deligitimization and censorship”. Deligitimzing things that are based on fantasies in direct opposition to scientific research by pointing out their ridiculousness seems a good thing.

          • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

            Using our brains? Once again, xkcd saves the day.

            Namely, it’s all about the context!

            “Everything you wanted to say required a context. If you gave the full context, people thought you a rambling old fool. If you didn’t give the context, people thought you a laconic old fool.”
              — Julian Barnes
                  Staring at the Sun

            No matter what views you have on any subject, xkcd provides a broader context for those views. This strategy is foundational to Randall Munroe’s genius for non-abusively non-confrontationally inducing cognitive transformations.

            Including transformations in people’s opinions regarding anthropogenic climate change, isn’t that right?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            THirteenthLetter: It depends what you mean by “deligitimization and censorship”. Deligitimzing things that are based on fantasies in direct opposition to scientific research by pointing out their ridiculousness seems a good thing.

            Nah, point out the ridiculousness all you want. When I try to define “delegitimization” I’m thinking, not just contradicting a viewpoint or even ridiculing it, but affirmatively attempting to make it difficult for the holders of the viewpoint to get their view across at all.

            It’s a little tricky to draw a line, I’ll freely grant, but as a first attempt: if one’s motivation is not “We need to show everyone how wrong these guys are” but instead “We need to silence these guys because otherwise the rubes might believe their nonsense and vote the wrong way” then one is not on the side of the angels.

        • TheAncientGeek says:

          Do you consider carbon markets to be a left wing solution?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I instinctively don’t trust artificial government-created “markets” as in practice they’re a way for the government to continue funneling money to connected people and pushing politically approved solutions while conning at least a fraction of libertarians into thinking that it’s legit. That said, if you’ve already drunk the Kool-Aid and believe we actually need to take dramatic action, they’re probably the least harmful approach.

          • Tekhno says:

            All modern large scale markets are government created. It is government which organizes the protection of property rights and the law that defines how property works. Even if it’s then a highly free market, at the ground level, no significant markets today are not government created going back way into history.

            Government – well technically an “independent” central bank – controls the money supply for the economy as much as it would control carbon credit supply. Perhaps carbon credit schemes need their version of the Fed to limit democratic manipulation.

          • ” no significant markets today are not government created going back way into history.”

            Going way back into history that’s clearly false. There has been international trade since long before there were any effective mechanisms to enforce contracts and property rights for international transactions.

            It isn’t true in any very useful sense even within nations. The original Amsterdam Stock Market functioned despite ordinances that made most of the transactions illegal and so unenforceable at law. Much the same was true of the early London stock market at, among other places, Jonathan’s Coffee House.

            For details see Private Governance by Edward Stringham.

            “Government – well technically an “independent” central bank – controls the money supply for the economy as much as it would control carbon credit supply. “”

            Government did not control the money supply in Scotland at the time Smith wrote–money was produced by private banks. It does not currently control the supply of bitcoins.

            There are lots of things governments do or have done. There are few if any things that have only been done by governments.

          • Tekhno says:

            @David Friedman

            Without effective ways to enforce contracts you get instability and a robber’s market. Of course, there has always been informal trade going on and property as mere possession has always existed, but the most productive markets have always needed secure property rights. Many empires spread precisely to protect trade routes and formalize them (the Silk Road makes for a good historical example), making them more secure and more productive (less loss from robbery/disputes over who owns what). Informal property exchange occurs all the time, but you can’t build an advanced economy off of it.

            Property is consistently defined otherwise it is not property, subject to rule of law, but mere possession subject to might makes right.

            It isn’t true in any very useful sense even within nations. The original Amsterdam Stock Market functioned despite ordinances that made most of the transactions illegal and so unenforceable at law. Much the same was true of the early London stock market at, among other places, Jonathan’s Coffee House.

            I’ll look into that. My prior expectation is that the authorities were turning a blind eye to the exact transactions while protecting the property itself, possibly because they were taking advantage of it. Jewish banking in late Medieval Europe is a similar story.

            If this is not true, I’d be interested to see what alternative methods of enforcement were being used.

            For details see Private Governance by Edward Stringham.

            I’ll give this a read. Thanks.

            Government did not control the money supply in Scotland at the time Smith wrote–money was produced by private banks.

            Prior to central banks, money was produced by private banks but those private banks had their property protected by state law, formalizing their mere possession into ownership, and the same for protection of the accounts at banks. Only a centralized state can bring the consistency needed to make lassez faire truly effective. Currency was certainly being minted under the direction of the state, even with private banks, otherwise all those historical currencies wouldn’t have been blazoned with the faces of Kings.

            As for bitcoin, last I checked it’s floundering as a currency and makes for a bad currency precisely because of its instability and insecurity. It’s a marginal thing.

            There are lots of things governments do or have done. There are few if any things that have only been done by governments.

            Sure, there have always been informal markets, but all the major centers of commerce have always been encompassed by states. Polycentric law leads to ceaseless disputes of law against law.
            Monocentric law says “No, this is how it is!” and then throughout that entire area you can be relatively assured that the law is consistent and nobody thinks they own your property according to some other law agencies word. Ultima Ratio Regum.

            The thing is, government – by proxy with “independent” central banks – controls the money supply now. If government making a new “currency” for carbon is “artificial”, then ThirteenthLetter is a little late, is all I’m saying. The “Kool-Aid” is just recognizing that 1: externalities exist, 2: global warming is a really bad one, and 3: there’s no way to individually sue polluters in this case because it is externalized to such a great degree (internalizing the problem would require the privatization of blocks of the sky which is a no go). The left has got this one right and I’ll gladly imbibe of the fruit flavored beverage they are providing.

          • You wrote:

            “no significant markets today are not government created going back way into history.”

            Are you now agreeing that that statement was false, that there have been significant markets, such as large parts of the early stock exchanges in both England and the Netherlands, that were not only not government created but not government enforced? Markets at the medieval trade fairs, with disputes settled under private law?

            “Without effective ways to enforce contracts you get instability and a robber’s market.”

            Governments are not the only way of enforcing contracts. Enforcing contracts against governments, or against those favored by governments, can be difficult.

            “but the most productive markets have always needed secure property rights.”

            Are you assuming that the only possible way of getting secure property rights is through government? Have you considered governments as a threat to the security of property rights? In the words of a 19th century judge,

            “No man is secure in his life, liberty or property while the legislature is in session.”

            “Currency was certainly being minted under the direction of the state, even with private banks, otherwise all those historical currencies wouldn’t have been blazoned with the faces of Kings.”

            There are lots of examples of currencies that circulated far beyond the reach of the governments that minted them, such as the Byzantine noumisma. Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance you had a competitive market for gold currency, with several different currencies competing for use in international trade. Carlo Cipolla, Money, Prices and Civilization in the Mediterranean World is a good source on this and an interesting book.

            From the standpoint of users elsewhere, the mints could as easily have been private. The Sassinid silver currency continued to circulate long after the destruction of the Sassanid empire.

            The dinar and the dirhem didn’t generally have anyone’s head on them, although I think most were minted by state mints.

            “but all the major centers of commerce have always been encompassed by states.”

            What does “encompassed by states” mean? International commerce, by definition, goes beyond the boundaries of a single state. When Venice or Florence was a major center of commerce, most of it was with people not under Venetian or Florentine rule.

            “If government making a new “currency” for carbon is “artificial”, then ThirteenthLetter is a little late, is all I’m saying.”

            The proposal people argue about isn’t the creation of a new currency. It’s making it illegal to produce carbon dioxide unless you have carbon credits.

            “recognizing that 1: externalities exist, 2: global warming is a really bad one …”

            “Recognizing” makes it sound as though you think the claim is an established fact. It isn’t. It might turn out to be true, but global warming produces both costs and benefits, they will be spread out over a long and uncertain future, and nobody today knows enough to confidently sign the sum, although many people think they do.

            “Polycentric law leads to ceaseless disputes of law against law.”

            Evidence or theory? Did that happen in the Islamic world, with four different schools of Sunni law? Does it happen in the U.S. today, where contracts can be specified to be under the law of a particular state? In the world today, where disputes over international transactions are largely settled by private arbitration?

        • James Picone says:

          …subsidies for major corporations that are on board politically, and delegitimization and censorship of opposing views

          The projection is real.

  24. John Schilling says:

    Regarding CEPTIA (the anti-pay-toilet people): An organized political movement in the vague sphere of social justice, that was created with a specific purpose, campaigned effectively towards that end, and shut down when its objectives were accomplished. I had not thought such a thing was possible. I was wrong.

    • Jiro says:

      The gay marriage movement in the US has shut down.

      Of course, the larger scale social justice movement of which it is a part has not shut down. It depends on at what granularity you define a “movement”.

      • John Schilling says:

        So it’s now safe for a business to refuse to cater a gay wedding; nobody will try to organize a boycott or finance a lawsuit? I did not know that.

      • gbdub says:

        I thought the gay marriage movement moved on to punishing places that prohibit penis-possessing individuals from using restroom facilities designated “women’s”?

        (yes that’s a bit snarky – but seriously the pivot to transgender rights / awareness in the media seemed pretty seamless after gay marriage was a done deal. They probably did shed some people who only really cared about gay marriage itself as a terminal value, but that group appears to have been small)

        • brad says:

          They probably did shed some people who only really cared about gay marriage itself as a terminal value, but that group appears to have been small.

          On the contrary, the new group looks quite small in comparison to the old group. Look at either the budgets or the total number of individuals donating for the groups that were involved in the gay marriage push vs the current trans-rights groups.

          It’s only when you go by an amorphous and frankly not relevant “number of articles I’ve seen in a few selected locations I consider to represent progressive thought” metric that the trend looks otherwise.

          • gbdub says:

            It’s only when you go by an amorphous and frankly not relevant “number of articles I’ve seen in a few selected locations I consider to represent progressive thought” metric that the trend looks otherwise.

            I suspect that, for those not directly impacted, articles in a few selected locations are their primary interaction with the movement, so that’s a pretty relevant measure.

            I’m not sure the budgets are a great measure, because until trans-rights groups rally around a central issue that can actually be donated to, signaling tolerance on Facebook is going to be the main activity for the not-directly-impacted. (Even with the gay marriage push, the number of people Facebook signaling was a lot larger than those donating significant sums). You’re probably right that the “very involved” population has dropped significantly though.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Judge by results. It took decades for the gay rights movement to make it to the point where states that held out would suffer universal media condemnation and corporate boycotts; the (rebranded) transgender rights movement is at that point already.

          • Titanium Dragon says:

            The transgendered stuff is going to be a historical blip, frankly; the reality is that most people don’t actually care much about it one way or another. Most people didn’t even know they really existed until the last few years.

            Attacking transgendered people is obvious tilting at windmills and it is hard to really galvanize much support to opposing them – they’re simply not a very good “enemy”.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            The transgendered stuff is going to be a historical blip, frankly; the reality is that most people don’t actually care much about it one way or another.

            Well, that’s no good; we need something toxoplasma-y in order to keep the proles so busy screaming at each other that they don’t notice power being consolidated.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Titanium Dragon

            Trans politics will mostly disappear with better medical technology, I’d imagine.

            Most of the weird tumblr third gender type stuff exists because of the many many trans people who can’t pass and therefore need to create a personalized gender for themselves in lieu of fitting into a pre-prescribed social role based gender. Most of the conservative opposition to transgenderism is also predicated on trans people being detectable as trans.

            If we can shape flesh with ease then all of the issues that trans people face in society would go away, since the concept of a trans identity ironically only exists because they can’t truly transition. We aren’t good enough at undoing the masculinization of testosterone yet, and fake vaginas are still wounds that need dilating. Much of it is expensive and dangerous, so a lot of trans people don’t have surgeries at all, and just take hormones, which produces the desired result in very few cases. Hence the depression and high suicide rates among trans people even post-“transition”.

            If medical technology advances so that we can grow flesh and organs easily and cheaply, then that changes. The average passability of trans people shoots way up making a “trans movement” harder to maintain.

            EDIT:
            (Radical traditionalists should be funding stem cell research)

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Tekhno:
            From what I’ve seen, at least a portion of trans people are actually not interested in being fully the opposite sex. See the Guardian article on breastfeeding as a trans dad. At this point I kind of view trans as being its own thing apart from being male or female – some want to be fully the opposite sex, some want to be either neither or a superposition of them. Hence the proliferation of terms like nonbinary, genderfluid, etc.

            Aside from that you also occasionally get people who identify as trans in a way that, to an outsider, seems really kind of questionable – like they identified as X their entire lives but now they’ve decided they’re Y despite not having really changed their behavior or appearance in any way.

            I’m not sure what percentage of people identifying as trans fall into either of those categories, but with people fighting for justice and equality there seems to be a heavy tendency to chase the diminishing returns, i.e. “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” so I wouldn’t really be surprised if this continued despite technologies allowing easy, indistinguishable, reversible transitions.

            There’s also not much evidence that prejudices are always determined by visual cues, as with gender or skin color. Otherwise people wouldn’t hate each other based on non-visual groupings like religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, nationality, etc. There’s a heavy “what you’re doing is sinful and disgusting and must be stopped to protect society, think of the children!” component, having had a particular type of surgery in the past probably isn’t any less an excuse to hate someone than what drugs they’ve tried or who they’ve banged. Really it’s hard to underestimate the arbitrary reasons people will develop to alienate a neargroup. Add to that the similar tendency to chase the diminishing returns in opposing things – small tiny groups of people exhibiting odd, bizarre, incomprehensible behaviors and characteristics while not really hurting anyone else hasn’t really stopped the social conservosphere from getting up in arms about it as an archetype of the Decay of American Values(TM) ever before.

            So yeah, you’d hope it’d all go away with better medical technologies, but good luck with that.

          • Tekhno says:

            From what I’ve seen, at least a portion of trans people are actually not interested in being fully the opposite sex.

            You see, I think that’s mostly because transitioning doesn’t work very well. If a mtf could click hisher fingers and wake up tomorrow as a beautiful women they’d probably do it, but transitioning isn’t that easy.

            Non-binary people face immense social censure, but they are going to face social censure no matter what they do, because so called transition can’t help them. People who look neither convincing as men or women adopt third gender identifications as a form of defiance to convention. Maintaining this is very difficult, and if there was an easy way out then I think a really large chunk of non-binary people would take it.

            If convincing transition mostly worked rather than mostly failed, then I’m convinced that most of those people would go for it. Whereas now it’s damned if you do damned if you don’t, they’d have much more confidence in the results. If transition worked reliably, my theory is that we’d see the non-binary movement dwindle to almost nothing. We’ll have to wait and see to test this theory, however.

            I’m not sure what percentage of people identifying as trans fall into either of those categories, but with people fighting for justice and equality there seems to be a heavy tendency to chase the diminishing returns, i.e. “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” so I wouldn’t really be surprised if this continued despite technologies allowing easy, indistinguishable, reversible transitions.

            I can only imagine people wanting to maintain extremely difficult identities because they don’t have much of a choice about it. The alternate theory is that people would willingly choose to face all that censure and hate just to say “fuck you dad”.

            There’s also not much evidence that prejudices are always determined by visual cues, as with gender or skin color. Otherwise people wouldn’t hate each other based on non-visual groupings like religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, nationality, etc. There’s a heavy “what you’re doing is sinful and disgusting and must be stopped to protect society, think of the children!”

            Yeah, but if people can’t tell someone is trans, then they can’t apply the idea that it’s sinful to that person. Passability is almost everything, and this is the elephant in the room when discussing the politics of the issue.

    • ulucs says:

      Farage stepped down when he accomplished his goal. Sure, it’s a single person but I like to think that he counts.

  25. Kevin R says:

    While Disco Demolition Night was certainly “popular”, you have to consider Ten Cent Beer Night, which also went about as well as you might imagine.

    • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

      Oh man.

      When I was in college in 2005, a bar on Thursday had a “nickel night” where you could buy well drinks for a nickel.

      I think it only lasted a year before the bar was shut down.

  26. chaosmage says:

    I don’t get the Logical Induction result either, but the fragments of understanding I experience watching the video of the talk at least give me the impression that MIRI is not a scam.

  27. I live in Seattle. The situation with microhousing isn’t as simple as it looks.

    Seattle has done an admirable job (compared to San Francisco, at least) in building new housing. We still need considerably more, sure, but we’ve had a tremendous growth in available apartments and will have more. We also don’t have rent control, which helps.

    What we don’t have is a functional public transit system. We have one train line that goes about 10% of the useful places in the city, and a bus system that was decent ten years ago and now goes half as many places and costs twice as much. (The city lies openly about why: the real answer is union capture.) For everything else, we have cars. This isn’t going to change any time soon; there’s a measure (“ST3”) on the local ballot that will build more trains. For $54 billion. That will open in about 25 years. And if we meet every projection, the train will capture…I think the latest figure was 2% of daily trips? Like it or not, America can not longer build infrastructure. And even if we could spend more money on buses without it just going directly to the union, buses are shut down by the same traffic jams that paralyze the city for 4 hours per day already.

    So, microhousing: the real issue is parking and cars. Microhousing proponents official position is that everyone who lives there would take buses and bikes, so they shouldn’t need to take parking. The facts on the ground around existing development, according to everyone I’ve talked to who lives near one, is that suddenly every surface parking spot disappears. Now, no one has a legal right to street parking, but you can see why building this stuff makes neighbors less happy.

    But let’s say they all came with underground garages. That wouldn’t be enough, because as I pointed out above, our infrastructure cannot transport more people. It can’t transport the number we have now. We’d just add 100 cars per building to the traffic jam.

    I am an opponent of NIMBYism, rent control, and insane limits on development. But I think Seattle is proving that if you just “build, baby, build” more apartments in a city that does not have the supporting infrastructure, you have traded a city no one can afford to live in for a city that no one can get around or live in. I am finding it harder and harder to blame opponents of density for wanting to preserve quality of life.

    Side note: I was reminded, by a trip this summer to my parents’ Cape Cod house, how lovely non-dense living is. Their sleepy cape town mandates huge lots (half an acre, I think?) with SFHs, not for any insane idea of “property values”, but because that means that it’s wonderfully quiet and dark at night (to lead with the stuff I care about) and generally lacking in hustle & bustle (what the median resident wants.)

    What’s more, while no one likes to talk about this, there is one reason that high housing costs qua high costs are beneficial that has nothing to do with investment value: like it or not, rich people make better neighbors. In my SFH neighborhood in Seattle, I am about as bad a neighbor as you will find: this means that my front yard looks (and is!) abandoned, and every nine months or so I have a moderately loud party (where “loud” here means 20-somethings laughing and talking loudly in my backyard, not amplified music.) No one who would bring the police regularly, or leave needles, or steal bikes, or any of the other lovely things you see in downtown SF, could afford to live in my neighborhood. In my parents’ Cape house? Forget about it. There they leave expensive kayaks sitting on the lawn (and rarely bother to lock their doors.)

    These may not be sufficient reasons to not provide housing for people who can’t afford it, but I am finding a lot more sympathy than I used to for opponents of growth. It is not, as many people in (say) r/seattle or other pro-development groups like to say, “MUH PROPERTY VALUES!” or “I HATE CHANGE!”. Mostly it’s a question of wanting reasonable quality of living.

    • drethelin says:

      Wouldn’t this be simpler if microhouses were also cars?

    • Andrew says:

      Doesn’t that simply mean that the solution transforms from “build more housing” into “build more housing, and also build more infrastructure and don’t increase travel times with shitty zoning?”

      It’s not like big cities don’t work. It simply sounds like SF is fucking up one way, and Seattle is fucking up in a different way.

      • Doesn’t that simply mean that the solution transforms from “build more housing” into “build more housing, and also build more infrastructure and don’t increase travel times with shitty zoning?”

        Yes. That’d be nice. It won’t happen in my lifetime. I repeat that the best case offered by transit advocates is that–if everything goes right–in 2040, I will be able to walk one mile to a train station that, given 45 minutes, can get me to one cool neighborhood, or, given 1.5 hours and a transfer, could get me to the airport, Redmond, or a few other nice neighborhoods. For $54 billion.

        If America was capable of building infrastructure, growing Seattle would be a great idea. We aren’t.

        • Andrew says:

          I have no problem believing that Seattle can’t build infrastructure, but I also rather suspect that that’s mostly a political problem, just like how most of SF’s problems are self-inflicted political problems.

          Wikipedia tells me that Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix are all both larger and growing faster on a percentage basis than Seattle. Washington DC, Miami, and Atlanta are all larger and very close to the same growth rate (8-8.2% vs 8.5%). There’s also a bunch of cities with huge growth rates that are around 2 million people, and I can’t imagine that their problems are very different. Are all of those cities gridlocked by a lack of infrastructure to the extent that Seattle is?

          • DC – yes. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/peter-thiel-trump-has-taught-us-this-years-most-important-political-lesson/2016/09/06/84df8182-738c-11e6-8149-b8d05321db62_story.html?utm_term=.d242ae90c528 or similar comments about the metro there, which has fallen off a cliff. 20 years ago, it was a wonderful system, and now it’s, well, burning down.

            Phoenix is, in fact, a sprawling mess where you drive hours to get anywhere. I hear similar things about Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston though I’ve never been. I know literally nothing about Miami.

            I do not think any of those cities, however, qualify as being able to build up substantial effective public transit infrastructure.

          • Psmith says:

            Most fast-growing US cities have more greenfields to grow into than Seattle does–they can build out, because they’re surrounded by buildable land, so it’s easier to find affordable housing. And most of them aren’t dense enough to support meaningful public transit, and so don’t.

            (Having said that, a lot of the big sun belt metro areas are not as bad as they look on a map–much commuting is to and from edge cities rather than the city center proper, so the congestion issues you see in more centralized urban areas are mitigated somewhat. Or so I’m told. But you do need a car.).

            And, of the ones you named, Washington is pretty well-known for having terrible, dysfunctional infrastructure.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Dallas:
            https://goo.gl/maps/XAT1gmcVoSn

            Houston:
            https://goo.gl/maps/rj8jLTgAQeq

            Phoenix
            https://goo.gl/maps/Nyr1SetVX1q

            Seattle:
            https://goo.gl/maps/A6Sm17mzXPK2

            Sure the others can grow; they’re less dense to begin with, and aside from Phoenix, can expand outwards.

            Washington, D.C. suffered a long period of negative growth; it’s been larger in the past. It also has the Metro, which isn’t the best but better than nothing. Atlanta, too, is below its peak population. Miami is horribly gridlocked.

            I believe it was Richard Nixon who killed large-scale infrastructure development in the US with the Environmental Impact Statement; we’ve only had more and more follow-on regulations (each with a cost and opportunity for lawsuits) since.

          • Psmith says:

            aside from Phoenix, can expand outwards.

            Wait, why can’t Phoenix expand outwards? I see some Indian reservations and such, but it looks like there’s plenty of room E.N.E. along S.R. 60, around Surprise and Wittman.

          • gbdub says:

            Phoenician here. Phoenix is sprawling certainly, but it doesn’t take “hours” to get around. You can get from Queen Creek, AZ, a bedroom suburb in the far southeast valley, to Sun City West, a retirement community in the far northwest, in about an hour and 15 minutes – and that’s as far as you would ever want to go, and rarely would. In typical rush hour, tack on maybe half an hour. Hell I’ve spent more time than that going 10 miles on the Beltway in DC. This is assuming you have a car though – like any sprawling city, public transportation isn’t great, though the recently added light rail is handy if limited.

            The highways are typically excellent and uncrowded. Meanwhile commute times in Tuscon, a much smaller city, are actually comparable to Phoenix because the freeway layout is much worse.

            Phoenix’s further growth is limited mostly by Indian reservations and federal land – there’s a lot of empty land out there though, and I suppose overcoming that political issue would be difficult but not intractable. For now there is still plenty of densification and building over of remaining farm plots in the existing cities that can happen before that becomes an issue.

          • Andrew says:

            I’m sure some of my comparison cities I threw out there are bad comparisons, and some actually do have serious problems, but my main thrust here is that I don’t believe that Seattle’s problems are unique and intractable such that the only option is to throw up our hands and say “I guess we just can’t let any more people live here”. I think Seattle’s problems are self-inflicted political problems, and Seattle trying to look more like SF would just be them self-inflicting different political problems.

          • BBA says:

            @Nybbler: not just environmental regulation, but all sorts of roadblocks went into the planning process in the ’70s in an effort to curb the excesses of the Robert Moses era. And there really were terrible excesses – whole neighborhoods bulldozed to build freeways to nowhere on one bureaucrat’s fiat – but now it’s swung too far the other way, with any random group of self-proclaimed community activists being able to veto construction.

          • orangecat says:

            Houston is a sprawling mess, but as a consequence of relatively lax zoning you actually don’t have to drive that far to get anywhere.

            Still I agree with your general point. The US does seem to be uniquely bad at infrastructure, and it’s not a lack of money.

          • moridinamael says:

            Houston did build a public train system relatively recently. It’s limited to the downtown area but it works really well.

          • meyerkev248 says:

            Replying to thread OP, not just the convo:

            All infrastructure is limited by speed, capacity, and headway (wait time).

            Roads have very high speed, low capacity (2K cars/lane/hour), and zero headway.
            Transit starts as moderate speed, low capacity, and high headway*, and eventually moves down-scale to low to moderate speed, super-high capacity, and near-zero headway**.

            Transit CANNOT do at ANY density what cars did at low density. CANNOT. They cannot provide the same trade-off set that cars did.

            Of course, high-density cars can’t do that either, but.

            So I think that a lot of the anti-transit sentiment is people who bought housing 20 minutes from work, and now, as mentioned, are getting told it will take an hour.

            * In the Bay Area: Caltrain. 650 people per train * 5 TPH = 3300 people per hour on a train that averages 50MPH.
            ** NYC Subway, which has a problem going door-to-door faster than 10 MPH, but might get a million riders a line.

        • One solution to the problem you describe is to build the housing close to where people work and shop. I don’t know about Seattle, but that is frequently prevented by zoning regulations.

          • arbitrary_greay says:

            Wasn’t there are thread a while ago that mentioned how mixed business/residential buildings have fallen out of favor due to zoning regulation incentives? (Or was that on tumblr?)

            Some of those struggling downtown mom-and-pop stores might have an easier time of it if they can also live upstairs.

          • I don’t know details of Seattle zoning, though I would love more mixed use stuff–my ideal would be something like my SFH neighborhood except with a small grocery store on the corner and a decent cocktail bar two blocks away. (I hear Portland is like this!)

            That said, that’s not what we have, and in particular, the large (and growing) employers seem to not want to be interspersed with housing. Instead, they like building into larger and larger spaces in places like South Lake Union (home of Amazon), downtown, and Bellevue. All of these are miles away from anywhere anyone wants to live. What’s worse–I’ve complained about this in other threads before–is that traffic from SLU, all of people trying to get on the highway and 30 miles out of the city, shuts down the entire city center for hours every day. So if _I_ want to go to a restaurant or musical rehearsal or friend’s house after work, even one only three miles away from my house…well, the path between us had better not go within five miles of Amazon, because the traffic’s backed up almost to my house.

            I quite seriously think a great regulation would be: you may not hire someone to work in your office who does not live in the same city. Commuting kills, and makes everyone else miserable too. Meanwhile, my employer has decided it prefers sufficient office space for three thousand drones to the rather nice small office I work in currently, and will be relocating to SLU in two years. I will be quitting (assuming I haven’t found a better city in the interim, but http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/08/14/spur-of-the-comment/#comment-397523 wasn’t as successful as I hoped.)

          • Kind of Anonymous says:

            That one’s partially zoning, but also finance incentives.
            The federal government will not insure a mortgage for a mixed residential-commercial development if the revenue from commercial leases exceeds 25% of the entire property.
            This excludes the typical small shop with a couple apartments over it, and as a result the market for these buildings is mostly limited to people who can pay cash up front and don’t ever plan to resell.

            Strong Towns
            ran a few articles about it a while ago.

    • Yossarian says:

      I don’t really see how the problems with microhousing can be related to parking. Say, me and two of my friends (each owning a car) live in a house partitioned into three microapartments. So, the government forbids the microapartments. It’s not like we’d have money to buy a house each – we would just have to rent a three-bedroom apartment together, unless we want to end up on the streets (and it would probably be smaller space than the three microapartments summed together), and we wouldn’t be able to give up our cars either. So, basically, the parking problem would be just shifted elsewhere at the cost of our inconvenience.

      • You can’t rent a 3-bedroom apartment, or at least, fewer people like you can. Read the link: in the same building, we go from a large number of bedrooms to a smaller number (because the apartments are bigger.) So fewer total people move in (and traffic is less awful, though still bad.)

    • ninjapandataco says:

      Not necessarily disagreeing with you here, but when you talk about disadvantages of living near cheap housing, it’s a little bit jarring that you use downtown San Francisco as your example. I sort of think of downtown SF as the archetype of super-expensive housing. Maybe there’s a rent-control thing going on, or something.

    • Finger says:

      Do you think self-driving cars will save Seattle?

      The point you make about neighbors is a good one. I wonder if there is a creative way to solve this problem without the deadweight loss of high rents or running afoul of anti-discrimination laws.

    • billv34 says:

      You’ve made some good points here, but in general the article was a fairy tale written by developer, starring the millennial princess who wants to live exactly where they want, in the exact rooming circumstances they want, at the price they want. And because sprawl is BAD, and Nimbys are BAD, the city should come in and guarantee that for her. BAD LINK SCOTT! 😉

      For starters: Although Capitol Hill was characterized as once being a “gay neighborhood,” it was once, how do they say it now, “diverse.” Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song from the ’80s, “My Posse’s on Broadway,” refers to the main drag in Capitol Hill. Needless to say, it is unrecognizable from those days. The gays moved in to the less desirable neighborhood, as they have done in many cities, and gentrified it enough to make it hip and desirable for “alternatives.” (A bit before the time I moved in, the late ’90s). At that point, it was being redeveloped — a movement which was only slowed by the dot-com bust. I was able to rent a large apartment on the edge of the C.H. area and so affordable — also, it was above a porn shop and S+M massage parlor (I was a customer of only one of those places). Incidentally, those shops have been replaced by high-end frozen yogurt and a real estate developer. And the rent went up, and I left. Many people I knew lived in group home type settings — not great for me (no porn shop) but it was what people could afford, and it was fine.

      Capitol Hill is unaffordable, because it has been taken over by higher end retail, condos and apartments, to meet the demand of amazoids et al. Do I think that is great? No! So I moved somewhere else! I lament the good old days, but I don’t think we should be morally scolded into policies that allow millennials (who in general love social justice) to pack into antiseptic neighborhoods because they like the amenities. When the gays moved into Capitol Hill, it was not desirable. There are plenty of places in Seattle that people could live more affordably, but they are, um, more diverse. And we can’t let our millennials risk that, can we? (Although they love diversity). And yes, those neighborhoods are becoming gentrified, which is another set of issues that I don’t think relate to this immediate article.

      Here’s what I did — when Capitol Hill got too expensive for what I wanted, I moved somewhere that I could afford. No, I am not within pissing distance of Urban Outfitters, but I will survive. I can still take the bus downtown. Now they want to “Capitol Hill” my neighborhood because, like Hitler, I like single family housing. The Seattle PI actually had an article titled “SFH has been an ecological disaster.” Well, so have newspapers, if you look at it a certain way.

      I don’t agree that zoning policy should be administered such that people get to live where they want, in the exact floorplan they want, for the least available cost. What lesson are we teaching our millennials about supply and demand? Maybe we should just create dorms and limit the amount of children people can have.

      • Kind of Anonymous says:

        What lesson are we teaching our millennials about supply and demand? Maybe we should just create dorms and limit the amount of children people can have.

        If you don’t think people should get to live where they want, in the exact floorplan they want, for the least available cost, then you don’t seem to care much for supply and demand, or at least, the ability of the market to supply anything you don’t personally demand. There is a demand for apartments in certain neighborhoods at certain prices, and the market is not being allowed to meet this demand due to regulations.

        • billv34 says:

          on second thought I just realized that you are right. I suppose I just don’t like the little bastards, but they are so popular that people are reserving them and them subletting them out without ever living in them. There are good rationales for some zoning regulations, and I happen to think this is one of them.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      What’s more, while no one likes to talk about this, there is one reason that high housing costs qua high costs are beneficial that has nothing to do with investment value: like it or not, rich people make better neighbors. In my SFH neighborhood in Seattle, I am about as bad a neighbor as you will find: this means that my front yard looks (and is!) abandoned, and every nine months or so I have a moderately loud party (where “loud” here means 20-somethings laughing and talking loudly in my backyard, not amplified music.) No one who would bring the police regularly, or leave needles, or steal bikes, or any of the other lovely things you see in downtown SF, could afford to live in my neighborhood. In my parents’ Cape house? Forget about it. There they leave expensive kayaks sitting on the lawn (and rarely bother to lock their doors.)

      This is the problem with making personal judgement illegal.

    • SCC Commenter says:

      Can I please have a source for the 2% figure? I’d really like something to quote about this, thanks.

  28. terete says:

    (The sober) Peter Norvig skewered Chomsky’s derision of statistical linguistic modelling a few years back.

  29. maas says:

    I’ve read the Wolfe-Chomsky stuff in Harper’s (written by Wolfe) and New York Review of Books (a review of Wolfe’s book, in that NYRB sense of review). My understanding is Wolfe definitely struggled with some technical aspects of the story.

    But one aspect that made an impression on me is when Wolfe discussed the synergy of Chmosky’s academic and political lives. Chomsky’s ground breaking Linguistics work gave his political work far more clout. And now that he might be more famous for the political work, Wolfe suggested that it starts to flow back the other way, his importance in academia is enhanced by his political stances.

  30. Max says:

    The EMDrive doesn’t work, and launching one would be a huge waste of money. There are plenty of ways to get a micronewton thrust signal that don’t actually involve thrust. My prime suspect is thermal expansion and bad strain relief on the harness.

    • hlynkacg says:

      Well it might work, but the obvious next step from an engineering stand point would be to test it with different inputs. Plug it in to one of these babies and see if the thrust signal goes from micro-Newtons to Newtons. If it does the EM-Drive guys may very well be on to something, but honestly I kind of doubt it.

      • Max says:

        I’m not sure scaling up would unmuddle the situation, honestly. Like I said above, I strongly suspect thermal effects are the cause of the spurious thrust signals, and I think pumping several megawatts into a couple cubic meters of equipment would cause what one might call “thermal effects.”

        • hlynkacg says:

          Right but the “thermal effects” from bumping up the power will be a lot easier to distinguish from thrust. (assuming of course that the EM-Drive works as advertised)

    • TK-421 says:

      Even if it doesn’t work (which it almost certainly doesn’t) there’s still value in demonstrating that explicitly for future reference, and then finding out where the earlier experimenters went wrong.

      • Max says:

        For sure. That can be done on the ground.

        • John Schilling says:

          How, when every potential micronewton thrust stand has actual error bars substantially larger than the advertised error bars and/or requires rare and specialized expertise to achieve the advertised accuracy?

          If the EMdrive does not work, the expected result of “demonstrating” that on the ground is that some group of amateurs will put it on a thrust stand, see a noisy “signal” that is substantially larger than the advertised error limit of the thrust stand, and shout to high heavens that look, here is thrust, and we have proven it! Which, in fact, we have seen.

          Unfortunately, I expect the same thing will happen in low Earth orbit. The ways a spacecraft in a complex environment can experience small anomalous accelerations are numerous but obscure, and no matter how true it is that the EMdrive does not work, the cranks will go to their deathbeads pointing at minute changes in the orbital elements and saying, “Still, it moves!”

          • Max says:

            Great point about anomalous acceleration, and especially about the Pioneer anomaly. Thermal effects don’t go away in space, that’s for sure.

            What I was envisioning with “that can be done on the ground” was more along the lines of using ground testing to find the physical sources of error in previous emdrive tests.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            Isn’t the point of orbit that there’s no friction, so if you produce a 0.0001 newton thrust for a year you end up going very fast? Can’t someone just measure whether the spacecraft is going very fast after a year?

          • bean says:

            Isn’t the point of orbit that there’s no friction, so if you produce a 0.0001 newton thrust for a year you end up going very fast? Can’t someone just measure whether the spacecraft is going very fast after a year?

            A couple of problems there. First, a 6U cubesat has a mass limit of 8 kg, which means the delta-V in free space with that thrust over a year is only 394.5 m/s. If it’s all in the same direction (relative to the orbit, not absolute) that will be detectable. (It’s possible that their satellite will be lighter than 8 kg, which means more delta-V, but that shouldn’t be necessary.)
            But then you run into other issues. Guidance can be an issue on these things, and you’d have to keep it pointed in the same direction relative to its orbit for it to show up clearly. That’s definitely not impossible, but it does take some thought. And in practical terms, that sort of thrust will slowly raise the orbit, not make the satellite go faster.
            As an aside, I expect that if it works, certain people will claim there was a concealed ion thruster. There are definitely systems which could do the performance you describe (actually significantly better). The people putting this together need to take steps to guard against this.
            Actually, looking up more details, it appears that they’re planning to deploy at about 150 km, and demonstrate efficacy by staying up longer than they should be able to at that altitude without the drive. I’m not sure that’s a good way to do it, but in the smallsat world, you take the ride you can get.
            And yes, there is some friction at that altitude, enough to limit satellite lifetime to weeks in most cases.

          • John Schilling says:

            Isn’t the point of orbit that there’s no friction, so if you produce a 0.0001 newton thrust for a year you end up going very fast?

            As bean points out, only moderately fast.

            Can’t someone just measure whether the spacecraft is going very fast after a year?

            The problem is that while space has no friction, it has several sorts of radiation pressure, and lumpy constantly-changing gravity fields, and oh yeah a little bit of friction. Also your satellite has electric conductors and currents that interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, and outgassing from the glue you used to put the PC boards together produces a faint internal pressure that escapes through that hole in the one side. Not all of which are entirely predictable.

            End result, if you park the satellite in orbit and produce zero (deliberate) thrust for a year, you still wind up going moderately fast. Usually in circles rather than a straight line, but that’s a common outcome from low constant thrust while in orbit as well. If a satellite’s job is to stay absolutely perfectly still, we need to put thrusters on it to make it stay still.

            Distinguishing between “it’s going exactly as fast as it would have if we’d left it alone” and “No, it’s going a little bit faster than that, the EMdrive works!”, and for that matter “…a little bit slower; the EMdrive works but you had the silly thing in reverse!”, is going to result in pretty much the same inconclusive arguments we get when we test an EMdrive on the ground. Now, if someone were to increase the thrust level by a factor of a hundred, there’d be no question – but at that point, just hang the thing from a pendulum and let us watch it deflect already. Can’t do that? Hmm.

          • bean says:

            Are you likely to get perturbations on the level of 300 m/s/year? I’d have to check the SMAD, but that seems like a lot, particularly as some of the perturbations are going to cancel out over a year or so.

          • bean says:

            I pulled out the SMAD, and started looking. In a 200 km circular orbit, assuming popular mechanics picture is accurate, the satellite should lose at most .05 m/s/day. This is assuming that the solar array is face-on to the orbit (maximum drag) and that atmospheric density is at the level of the solar maximum (again, maximum drag). The delta-V for Scott’s .0001 N thruster is about 1 m/s/day. Maximum solar radiation pressure under similar conditions is .006 m/s/day. Doing numbers for irregularities in the Earth’s gravity and other bodies is too involved for me to be willing to put in the work, but that can be tuned out using nearby objects. Also, it’s unlikely to be an order of magnitude larger than drag. So even at that low thrust, it should be very detectable.
            (This won’t stop true believers from claiming that it produced even less thrust, but the numbers they can come up with will allow us to mock them for trying to sell useless pieces of hardware.)

          • John Schilling says:

            Actually, the J2 perturbation in a 200 km, 45-degree orbit is about 600 m/s per day. And readily accounted for, but the J3 perturbation that pretty much everyone else ignores comes to 520 m/s per year. The sectoral and tesseral harmonics are trickier to calculate, but several of them are in the same order as J3.

            As you say, if there were a reference object in the same initial orbit, we could look at the difference. But the erratic nature of cubesat deployment (roughly, a spring pushes the thing out of a box) means that any two satellites are going to be in different orbits that will become widely separated over the course of a year. If you had an EMdrive cubesat and a cubesat with some other microthruster of known performance, you could have the second vehicle hold station with the first and see what sort of thrust was required to accomplish that goal, but that’s a rather more expensive experiment.

          • bean says:

            Actually, the J2 perturbation in a 200 km, 45-degree orbit is about 600 m/s per day. And readily accounted for, but the J3 perturbation that pretty much everyone else ignores comes to 520 m/s per year. The sectoral and tesseral harmonics are trickier to calculate, but several of them are in the same order as J3.

            Interesting. I didn’t do much with perturbations beyond the basics, and that was several years ago. I appear to have significantly underestimated the magnitudes involved, although I will stand by my statement that they can be tuned out if someone was willing and able to put in the work with the really good gravity models.

    • bean says:

      Do you know how much a 6U cubesat costs? It’s not that expensive (it’s a box that’s 10 cm x 20 cm x 30 cm), and most of the hardware is off-the-shelf, except the EMdrive itself. And putting the thing in space gets rid of all of the potential sources of error. I’m genuinely not sure that this is more expensive than doing tests on Earth to the level of rigor you’d need to make sure you were getting signal and not noise.
      Also, this is a good thing as it raises the profile of doing cubesat/smallsat based testing of equipment as an alternative to endless ground tests.
      Don’t get me wrong. I’m 99.9% certain it doesn’t work. But the cost of being wrong about that is so much higher than the cost of being right and doing the test anyway that I don’t see any reason to oppose the test.

      • Max says:

        See John Schilling’s response above for an answer to “gets rid of all of the potential sources of error.”

        Anyway, I don’t know much about cubesat power systems, but there might be some cost associated with developing one that can run an emdrive. I think off-the-shelf cubesat components might not cut it here.

        • bean says:

          I was a bit generous with ‘all potential sources of error. But it will take care of almost all, and while being in orbit is not an absolute guarantee of good results, it’s a massive improvement in terms of S/N over a ground test. The Pioneer anomaly is tiny, even in orbital mechanics terms, and would easily be lost in the noise you get in the sort of orbits cubesats end up in. I doubt it’s detectable by the tracking systems in question.
          That said, I don’t expect this to completely settle things. But the fanboys won’t be going after ‘still it moves’, they’ll be claiming that the system aboard was wrong somehow. The issue isn’t them, because there’s no way to shut them up. The value of this test is for the general public.
          As for cost, it’s still pretty minor. I don’t know the engineering details, but I suspect that it’s not going to run to serious money in aerospace terms.

    • Name says:

      Don’t you think stating that it doesn’t work as a fact is kind of excessive considering that fact that plenty of reputable groups are working and so far haven’t managed to show it doesn’t work?

      Or maybe you should give NASA a call so they can skip the testing? why waste all of that effort if you know for a fact it doesn’t work, eh?

      • Max says:

        I work for an organization that has tested an EMDrive and found no thrust. We will not be publishing our results.

        • anon says:

          Well that’s completely believable and understandable then. It’s not like someone would just go on the Internet and tell lies.

          • Max says:

            Hey, I started out with the standard 99%+ prior in favor of Conservation of Momentum and updated significantly based on the results of the experiment I saw, from a researcher I know professionally and trust.

            I’m just an internet rando to you, so I’m not asking you to update on anything I say. I’m just explaining why my credence is so high.

        • Finger says:

          Why not?

          • Max says:

            No real benefit to us for publishing, no matter how the test had gone. Burn those scientific commons to the ground.

          • VVV says:

            Let others waste their resources trying to ‘prove’ that conservation of momentum doesn’t hold.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            It wouldn’t really prove anything if Max’s company published their findings. The people who want it to be true will say “they missed Something” without saying in a falsifiable way what the Something was. The people who think this is all bunk will tack it on as more proof that it’s bunk but it won’t change their priors.

      • VVV says:

        >plenty of reputable groups are working and so far haven’t managed to show it doesn’t work?

        None of them are reputable.

        No, not even ‘NASA’, cause it’s *NASA Eagleworks*.

        • bean says:

          Even granting that all of the groups which have produced nonzero results are not reputable (and yes, NASA is like any other large organizations, and parts are stupid/crazy/incompetent) there are no reputable, published groups involved at all. Unless the EMdrive people are running a con (I have no reason to believe this is the case, but feel I should cover my bases) they’ve probably tried and failed to get reputable labs to try it out. This is their best shot at getting people to take them seriously.

  31. C Murdock says:

    I am not entirely up-to-date on the state of the art re this, but I believe Jerry Coyne is overreaching when he dismisses Everett’s claim of non-recursion in Piraha as having been disproved. As far as I can tell (which to be fair isn’t very far), the jury is still “out”, so to speak, in the linguistic community about non-recursion as well as several other peculiarities of Piraha.

    The problem seems to be that Daniel Everett is one of the only outsiders who has learned the language (others include his missionary wife and children, and the missionary linguist who preceded him), so it is impossible to find another linguist qualified to judge his claims about the language– Everett says in his book “Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes” that once in a while somebody shows up with the intention of learning the language, but that they never stick around long enough… it’s a tough language to learn, apparently (among its claimed peculiarities are that it has one of the smallest phonemic inventories, has such a low consonant-to-vowel-tone ratio of semantic load that it can allegedly be whistled and still be communicative, and is said to lack true numerals).

    Everett, to be fair, has also said that he doesn’t believe any of these features to be as unique as they appear, because he suspects that other languages exhibit them as well but have just gone unnoticed by linguists studying them, or have otherwise simply been underdocumented.

  32. gbdub says:

    The craziest thing about the Windoc “phenomenon” is that not only did both ships with the same name run into lift bridges on the same canal half a century apart, but in both cases the crash was due to the bridge operator lowering the bridge onto the ship. So why do bridge operators hate ships named “Windoc” so much?

  33. Azure says:

    It is probably a good heuristic that, at least until we get a whole
    lot better at it, disagreements in cognitive science should not appear
    obvious and one-sided either.

    There’s been a divide between the Generative Syntacticians (aka
    Chomskyans) and Everyone else for a couple decades now. There’s a
    geographic component, Generative Syntax holds sway in universities
    east of the Mississippi and Everything Else (including George Lakoff’s
    Generative Semantics, Construction Grammar, Cognitive Grammar, and a
    bunch of other things) holds sway in universities West of the
    Mississippi.

    This is unfortunate. When I was in the Linguist Factory being
    transformed into a Linguist, I was taught Generative Syntax. I was
    skeptical of some parts, but they seemed to have quite good
    arguments for others. I assumed because it’s all I ever heard, that
    this was just the prevailing theory in all of linguistics and I didn’t
    find out for a couple years in that there was any debate on the
    matter. I was rather annoyed by first not even being told there was
    disagreement and then, when I complained, having it presented as
    completely one-sided with “Those people on the West Coast are obvious
    wrong, see?”

    Similarly, when I ran into linguists from the West Coast they insisted
    that Generative Syntax had no accounts for obvious and simple things
    (which I knew perfectly fine Generative Syntactic explanations for) or
    made No Falsifiable Predictions. The latter annoyed me since I’d spent
    quite a long time writing a paper on obscure matters of noun phrases
    which made predictions because it was hammered in to me exactly how
    important it was to do so and, promptly, falsified two months
    later. (My then-adviser gave me one of the great speeches of my life
    about Being a Scientist and how you should feel proud to have actually
    come up with a coherent theory that explained things which managed to
    be concrete enough to be shown completely and absolutely wrong by
    later data.)

    At its base, Generative Syntax is a meta-theory of language that
    includes the idea that there is some innate faculty of grammar that
    places some constraints on the possible languages humans can naturally
    develop and learn and a presumption that language is divided into more
    or less discrete components that operate more or less independently,
    but interact in more or less complex ways. Generally
    ‘more’.

    It has had three major incarnations: Universal Grammar (which did fail
    to handle many languages), Principles and Parameters (which had an
    unfortunate habit of accumulating epicycles and ad-hocity), and the
    Minimalist Program (say what you will about Chomsky, he’s good at
    naming things.) The latter is itself something of a meta-theory. It
    starts with looking at what language has to do and tries to see what
    kinds of things /would/ be true about language if it were constrained
    by having to use the most time and space efficient algorithms. It was
    an attempt to see if some of the same conclusions and predictions from
    Principals and Parameters could be derived in a less ad hoc way.

    As you can probably guess from the notion of time and space
    efficiency, Generative Syntacticians take a very abstract, analytical
    approach and tend to be affine with similar approaches in other
    subdisciplines. Eastern linguists tend to approach Semantics in terms
    of translating syntax trees into formal logic and get very involved in
    modal logic and quantifier scope. They approach phonology (the study
    of how sounds change when they are combined) with things like
    Optimality Theory (an approach that imagines all possible strings of
    sounds being evaluated against a ranked list of constraints and the
    original, un-modified string and the one that can go down the list
    furthest without violating a constraint Wins. It views the set of
    constraints as universal and innate and their orderings as learned and
    much work has been done on the computational complexity of learning
    the constraint ordering from the environment. One study, looking at
    children acquiring Dutch, actually matches this model of phonology
    which surprised even the people doing the study. Unfortunately it’s
    difficult to do studies of child language acquisition in places other
    than rich, Western areas which are mostly linguistically similar.)

    Generative Syntacticians also have some methodological
    differences. They tend to rely much more on grammaticality judgments
    (asking people how willing they are to accept or reject a sentence as
    Grammatical.) and much less on corpora. (The claim that they despise
    corpora completely is a bit overblown. Chomsky argued that the problem
    with a corpus is how to interpret absence, that you couldn’t know just
    from that whether a given construction was Ruled Out or whether it
    just happened to be th