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OT59: Comment Sutra

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread. There are hidden threads every few days here. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. Also:

1. Comment of the week is JT on presidential life expectancy.

2. Some SSC readers at Princeton encourage you to check out their upcoming Envision Conference on futurology and far-future tech, this December 2-4. Speakers will include Robin Hanson, Anders Sandberg, Andrew Critch, etc, etc, etc. Registration is free but the deadline is October 1, so apply now if you’re interested.

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1,618 Responses to OT59: Comment Sutra

  1. keranih says:

    I watched Bottle Shock this weekend, and found it light and enjoyable, with a little bit of chemistry (discussion of how to make wine, not between the lead characters). However, digging into the background, I found the film even less “factual” than to be expected from a Chris Pine (Unstoppable) movie. This week has also seen comments on Eight Below, Hildago, Outbreak and several other “based on a true story” movies where what actually happened would have made a really good movie, if that had been the story they wanted to tell.

    Anyone have any examples of “real events” movies that more or less captured facts? For me, it seems that Alive and Breaker Morant are fairly good.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      I’m Not There is very accurate.

    • Fahundo says:

      I’m already completely disappointed in Snowden just based on what I’ve seen in the trailers. I guess there’s already a good movie about him though.

      • Edward Morgan Blake says:

        Just watch CitizenFour, much better.

        And that documentary is part of it’s own story, which is wonderfully meta. I particularly liked the bits that showed Edward and Glenn watching the news on TV that included footage of themselves of the video record that was part of the documentary itself.

        • Fahundo says:

          Just watch CitizenFour, much better.

          Yeah, that’s what I was referring to when I said at least he already has a good movie.

    • brad says:

      I’m not sure how much room there is between documentaries and loosely based on a true story. We almost never have actual dialog and even if we did it wouldn’t sound right on a movie screen. Real people aren’t as pretty or witty as what we want out of movie. The pacing of real life isn’t suited to a two hour film. And so forth.

      There’s always going to be a choice that a writer or director made in a “based on a true story” that we can quibble with, but once we agree that they need some significant license I think that concedes the main point.

      • keranih says:

        Eh, I’m not really talking about direct quotes or compressing events, I mean things like (in Unstoppable) changing a major antagonist figure from *ordering* the risky-but-heroic move that saves the day, to (in the movie) trying to stop the heroes from doing that thing. Or (in Bottleshock) where a major figure is removed from the story, and a replacement – of different ethnicity, motivation, and impact – is substituted.

        I do completely agree that most stuff makes for poor movies. Or tales around the campfire, even, which is why we talk of Skywalker and Coyote and Babe the Blue Ox. But I’ve hit a bad run of movies which took more liberty than I think optimal.

        • LHN says:

          I wish that, just as there’s a subgenre of harder SF (which won’t tend to produce blockbusters, but will satisfy a narrower audience), that there were similar subgenres of “accurate biopics” and “faithful adaptations”.

          Everything doesn’t have to fall into those subgenres. (The MGM Wizard of Oz movie is a masterpiece for all the liberties it takes with Baum; Richard III is a classic even if it tends in the direction of Tudor propaganda). There’s plenty of room for stories that merely “inspire” the auteur. And as with “hard SF” it’s a goal and a sliding scale, not a binary.

          But I’d really like there to be a subset of movies and TV series that are visibly trying to portray a true or fictional story faithfully in a different medium. Sometimes the fact really is sufficiently legendary.

          (I do get tired of a complicated mix of human motivations getting reduced to a central casting stereotype over and over again. And there’s something a little deceptive in getting the audience to swallow the product of dramatic license by letting them believe “unlikely though this seems, it’s true!” when it isn’t. )

          As with hard SF, it’s something I value, and it’s something seen if anything even less often.

    • Zombielicious says:

      There’s a weird movie called Compliance which you’d expect to have been completely made up, but apparently holds pretty close to the actual events it’s based on. I can’t say it’s a great movie though, aside from the fact that the absurd stuff in it actually happened.

      • VivaLaPanda says:

        I remember reading about this in my Psychology class. Social Engineering/obedience is a force to be reckoned with.

      • Hyzenthlay says:

        I’ve seen it. I found it pretty gripping.

      • HP Blount says:

        I watched this movie recently and hated it because I thought it was so farcical. I knew it had been based on a true story, but I just thought that they had taken a premise and flown with it.

        It was only afterwards when I read the wiki, it dawned on me just how stupid people can be. I did like how it took till the greasy looking older guy right at the end of the film to go “wait, this clearly isn’t a police officer”

    • A. says:

      I don’t know anything about the similarity of the story in “Breach” to real events, but I thought the best part of the movie was the letter that the main character really did write to the Russians, apparently read in the movie word for word. I think I would have liked the movie a lot more if it wasn’t based on a real story, if the conclusion wasn’t already known.

  2. jaimeastorga2000 says:

    SSC SF Story of the Week #21
    This week we are discussing True Names by Vernor Vinge.
    Next time we will discuss Three Worlds Collide by Eliezer Yudkowsky.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      I first heard about True Names from Eliezer Yudkowsky’s bookshelf. I didn’t find it nearly as mindblowing as he did, but I read it after I had already read The Sequences, Hanson’s papers, the Optimalverse, and other high-level transhumanist writings, so I guess that’s to be expected. What I did find it to be is lots of fun. Most of the novella is basically a cyberpunk mystery, but the climax is an action-packed fight for the fate of the Earth, and the denoument is a thoughtful exploration of transhumanist themes. All of these are entertaining in their own right, and they combine well together to form a fast-paced, exciting adventure.

    • 4bpp says:

      How old is True Names? Linking the magic trope to having the cover of your unsavoury internet identity blown is something that the Greater Chanosphere already did [NSFW] since before “doxxing” became a thing.

    • “True Names” is a very good story for at least two different reasons:

      1. It pointed out the importance of anonymity online very early, using the metaphor of true names in fantasy. If your enemy knows your true name he can use it to do magic against you. If your enemy knows your real space identity, he can arrest or kill you.

      2. It is science fiction that feels like fantasy not because the science is really magic but because the real science results in a world of avatars protected by concealing their true names. That’s an idea picked up by later writers.

      • Vinge uses a lot of fantasy metaphors in his science fiction.

        I wonder if this is a useful method in general because fantasy needs to make a certain amount of sense.

        I’m still amazed that Tolkien’s elves had secret cities, and then it turned out that the Soviets had secret cities. I assume it was something like that you can get secret cities at some population and magic/tech level if you feel you’re under threat.

        Would anyone who remembers the Silmarillion better care to speculate on whether the elves were dictatorial?

        • LHN says:

          Mostly, I’d say they’re monarchical. We don’t see all that much about the laws and administration of the kingdoms, but for the most part people who don’t like the way the king is running things seem to be able to leave for another one (orcs and balrogs permitting), and the rulers are mostly seen making decisions about foreign affairs, war, and the workings of their courts.

          Gondolin may be something of an exception, with its law that anyone who finds their way there can’t ever leave, and it generally has an air of greater regimentation. But even there, we don’t know a lot about day-to-day life in the city.

        • Gazeboist says:

          The elves as a society fissioned two or three times before reuniting (kinda) towards the end of the Third Age, when their civilization was dying. I’d as soon judge the elves’ dictatorial nature under Galadriel, Elrond, and Celeborn as I’d judge the level of freedom in the Roman Republic during the rise of the Ottoman Empire.

        • Deiseach says:

          Would anyone who remembers the Silmarillion better care to speculate on whether the elves were dictatorial?

          I think if Feanor had lived long enough, he definitely would have been. He already gives plenty of examples of “my way or the highway Helcaraxe” and I don’t think living under his rule would have been a great improvement. To be honest, I don’t think any of the Feanorians were that great – their attitude towards Men tended to be dismissive (to say the least) until they discovered they made great cannon-fodder against Melkor.

          On the other hand, the rebels were badly stuck. They couldn’t go back to Valinor, the dream of Feanor that they could defeat Melkor in Middle-earth and establish their own independent realms came crashing down about as soon as they set foot in Middle-earth, and they were more or less forced into continued defensive positions. Gondolin went to extremes of secrecy, but the necessity was for survival. And Turgon’s big mistake was in hoping that he could finally establish and remain in a secure realm, even after the message of Ulmo that it was time to abandon it.

          However they might have ruled if they could have set up realms free from the threat of Melkor, the fact remains that one of the drives for the Exiles to leave Valinor and return to Middle-earth was ambition: to have new lands and new realms of their own, out from under the rule of the Valar. And when they came into contact with the existing Elven realms in Middle-earth – such as Doriath – that didn’t go too well (again, I’m mostly pointing at the Feanorians here): the Exilic Noldor did tend to look down their noses at the Sindar who had remained as ‘country cousins’ which never goes well, and then they were trying to claim territories that the Sindar regarded as their own, or within their sphere of influence.

          And then you had Men constantly coming in waves moving westward, fleeing Melkor and making the political tensions even tenser.

      • LPSP says:

        1. It pointed out the importance of anonymity online very early, using the metaphor of true names in fantasy. If your enemy knows your true name he can use it to do magic against you. If your enemy knows your real space identity, he can arrest or kill you.

        Meditating on this, it occurs to me that for daemons, gods and similar such fantastical creatures, creating a physical avatar or manifestation and appearing in what we would call “the real world” is more akin to entering the internet and logging into an account with its own prescence and pseudonyms. The “real world” for daemons et al is the magical realm they call home.

        Humans are more like computer programs, including viruses, in the analogy.

        I immediately thought of an application of this framework to Homestuck.

    • AxiomsOfDominion says:

      Vernor Vinge is a national treasure. Just downloaded and read True Names. Now I’ll be unable to stop thinking about it all week. A whole week ruined. But it was worth it.

      • Hmm. I have Vernor Vinge on my list of “Don’t read any more of these,” because the one book of his I read — “Rainbows End” — was so boring.

        • I agree that Rainbow’s End was boring, and I didn’t even finish The Children of the Sky.

          Marooned in Real Time, A Fire Upon the Deep, and A Deepness in the Sky were much livelier.

          • Throwaway says:

            Yes, it was really sad to read “The Children of the Sky” after amazing A Fire Upon the Deep, and A Deepness in the Sky.

        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          I note that Rainbow’s End was written in 2006, and that there is a pretty general trend of authors becoming worse as they get older (Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Orson Scott Card…).

          • I haven’t read Vinge for a while, after stopping part way through two books because they had gotten too dark for me. But my tolerance for dark is probably unusually low.

    • Deiseach says:

      Not as impressed with it as I am supposed to be, probably because it’s a story from the 80s that I’m only reading now. Had I read it back in 1980 it might well have blown me away, but there have been too many similar stories and novels since.

      And really, I’m a tiny bit tired of “small band of strong independent we don’t need no Feds hackers save the world by becoming VR gods and ushering in the New Millennium”. Can’t say I liked any of the characters and if they had all dropped dead in their computer fantasy worlds I wouldn’t have cared.

      • gbdub says:

        Had I read it back in 1980 it might well have blown me away, but there have been too many similar stories and novels since.

        Is there a name for this phenomenon, when you underrate the “original” because you’ve read newer renditions of the same trope? Sometimes this is because the original was legitimately weak, but other times its just that the new versions are very good, and/or don’t suffer from zeerust, and I feel a bit bad about those.

        • Steven says:

          TV Tropes calls this “Seinfeld Is Unfunny”
          http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SeinfeldIsUnfunny

          • gbdub says:

            Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking of, thank you! Though I wish they’d gone with the name “Hamlet Is So Cliched!” since (as Deiseach notes below) comedy is subjective and you might find Seinfeld unfunny for reasons unrelated (e.g. Hype Backlash).

        • Deiseach says:

          I have no idea if there’s a name for it, but it’s probably the same principle as the joke about the old lady who went to see “Hamlet” and didn’t like it, because it was full of quotations 🙂

          I never found “Seinfeld” funny, even when it was first run, so there’s that as well.

      • Edward Morgan Blake says:

        And really, I’m a tiny bit tired of “small band of strong independent we don’t need no Feds hackers save the world by becoming VR gods and ushering in the New Millennium

        Then I recommend you read Vinge’s “The Peace War”.

        The backstory of The Peace War *is* a “small band of strong independent we don’t need no Feds hackers save the world, defeat ALL the warmongering armies, insanely dangerous bioweapon labs, oligarchical governments, ecologically devastating polluters, and evil transnational corporations, and then usher in the New Millennium of peace, local communities, organic gardens, and Human Flourishing”.

        And then jump forward a generation, see what happens next.

        Basically, it was Vinge taking a 50s/60s SF novel, and then demonstrating the truth of “You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain”.

        • Maware says:

          I should read this. One of the reasons why I fell out of reading SF was that there was so much emphasis on the uberman and very little on how the normal person would be affected by such radical change. I think Nancy Kress did well ending her Beggars in Spain trilogy with the Super-sleepless forcing a rather horrific, “good” change on everyone.

  3. Skef says:

    At first glace it seems like the notion of market failure wouldn’t apply to a matter of taste or aesthetics. If people enjoy A more than B, isn’t that just a personal preference? Who are we to say that someone is wrong about what they like?

    But I recently realized that the loudness war seems like a kind of market failure, and a substantial one. Admittedly the issue is partly technological, in that it comes down to many devices having volume setting relative to a standard amplitude. But the owner of the device gets to choose their own setting and almost no one puts one at full volume. So most popular music of recent years, and also reissues of older music, have been engineered in increasingly crappy-sounding ways as part of an arms race for practically the dumbest reason imaginable.

    Anyway, it seems like an interesting test case. How could we have avoided this dumb era of music production?

    • Alliteration says:

      As much as people complain about compressed music, compressed music is nice for listening in load environments (like in a car), because the range between to loud and drowned out by the background sound is smaller.

      (This is one of my frustrations with listening to classical music in the car, because classical music isn’t compressed the quite parts are either too quite or the loud parts too loud.)

      • doubleunplussed says:

        I know right. Try watching a movie with actual dynamic range on the audio when your housemate is trying to sleep.

        *turn it up because I can’t hear the dialogue*

        *SUDDEN LOUD MUSIC OR GUNFIRE TURN IT DOWN*

        At least compressed music has the compression applied at the mastering stage rather than by some horrible automated algorithm later by pirates. Whereas compressed audio for say, a pirated movie that was filmed in a cinema amplifies things so much when there’s actual silence that you get loud white noise instead of silence. And the white noise fades in and out as the characters speak. Horrible. But as a lover of metal music, intentionally compressed audio there can be quite nice.

      • Winter Shaker says:

        I have actually taken the trouble of running one of my favourite classical CDs (Henri Duparc’s songs, just voice and piano) through Logic’s compression algorithm then re-uploading the mp3s to my iPod so that I could still listen to them properly on a bus or train.

        I’m pretty sure that a workable solution, if we could have wangled it, would be to have each record published in an ‘audiophile’ version, with decent dynamic range for enjoying in a quiet environment, and a ‘driving’ version for listening in noisy environments, and somehow encode these onto the same playing medium so that you didn’t need to buy two versions. If cassette tapes could have been one-way only, you could do this, vinyl could have one version on each side at the expense of being only about 20mins, so I’m not surprised they didn’t do it then, but I’m sure it would have been trivial for CDs relative to the complexity of the CD in the first place, and if they had made those just a little bigger, they would have been enough to hold two versions of any standard 45-min vinyl album.

        [Edit – Marginal Revolution on how they did choose the size of CDs, features a cute story about wanting to fit all of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on one disc, though Snopes suggests factoid actualy just statistical error.]

        • Skef says:

          Trent Reznor did this with a recent album.

          Vinyl already has a more limited dynamic range and there are some standard pre-processing steps for tracks recorded on it.

          I’m suspicious of the arguments against “canned” compression algorithms if the use-case is listening in a noisy environment, but it’s true that at the mastering stage you can better control the relations between individual instruments.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            I am pleased to hear that, and also that one of the commenters in your link names the book Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music by Greg Milner – I also recommend that as a fascinating history of audio recording generally, including the loudness war.

      • lemmy caution says:

        I like compressed music for that reason. It sounds good and you can adjust the volume without it getting too loud or too soft.

    • onyomi says:

      I do think one can apply the logic of market failure to such cases.

      I think intellectual property may have contributed somewhat to this by making appeal to the lowest common denominator more profitable.

  4. Daniel says:

    What is the best way to financially support a band you like?

    Lets assume that I already have all of their albums through a streaming service, and have no desire to own any of their merchandise. On top of that, lets say the band doesn’t ever play live near where I live.

    But given how much I like and listen to the band’s music, I want to give them $20 as a sign of appreciation and support.

    What is the best way to spend this money, to benefit the band as much as possible?

    If I buy a digital download, 30% goes to Itunes, and im sure more goes to other people – but then the band has higher placement on the Itunes charts.

    If I buy physical goods, then I’m paying for the production of the actual items I don’t want, and the cost of mailing them to me.

    Should I just mail a cheque to the band’s management and hope it gets to them?

    Any thoughts or suggestions on this?

  5. jaimeastorga2000 says:

    Today on the libertarian side of Tumblr we have The Kowloon Walled City and the superiority of basic income to welfare programs and the minimum wage.

    And speaking of Tumblr, The Unit of Caring wants some SSC Trump supporters to answer a few questions. Anyone wanna take her up?

    • pku says:

      About the second link: They agree that minimum wage is below inflation rises and ridiculously below productivity gains, but then claim moving the money from corporate profits and executive pay to minimum wage earners wouldn’t even push it to inflation. This just doesn’t add up. For the executive pay part, I assume it’s due to some mathematical trickery where they just count one highly-paid executive at walmart. The second part is way shadier, in that they mix up “10% of corporate profits” with “10% of average minimum wage earner’s income.” Unless poor people’s income is somehow the majority of US GDP, this is ridiculous.

      (Raising minimum wage vs. eliminating it may or may not be a fantastic/terrible idea for other reasons, but that bit really makes me distrust the article).

      • There’s no trickery on the executive pay bit. Because the Wallmart business model is based on having huge numbers of employees to handle a huge number of different products there isn’t much money sloshing around to raise wages without also raising prices. And since Wallmart’s customers tend to be poor that’s not much of a solution.

        Really, the big increase in inequality in the US in recent decades isn’t about changes in the distribution of money within firms but instead between firms. The places you could find large piles of money laying around so that you could pay those Wallmart workers more are in companies like Apple which have relatively few employees but are making money hand over first. And Apple does pay it’s lowly support staff fairly good money because they might as well get the best janitors, but that doesn’t help the people working for Wallmart.

        The 10% thing is obviously a mistake but it looks like the classic sort of $1.10 baseball and bat “I stopped thinking about this too quickly” mistake, not dishonesty.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      “what policies do you think a president Trump would actually pursue?”

      I’m mainly hoping for a break from the foreign interventionism/adventurism consensus I see prevailing since the end of the Cold War. Past that, any breaks from the current bipartisan consensus on policy seem like good things.

      “what is your interpretation of why people who hate Trump hate Trump?”

      They think he’s a racist, sexist, etc. They think he’s erratic, an egomaniac, possibly megalomaniacal, and can’t be trusted with the civilian power of the presidency, much less the military or nuclear powers. They think he’s basically an offensive scumbag.

      “do you believe the things Trump says, and are there things he could say that in your opinion would disqualify him from the presidency?”

      I assume a lot of what he says is bluster, as evidenced by the fact that he’s quite comfortable contradicting himself on some issues. I think there’s a core of rhetoric that he hasn’t flip-flopped on, and it’s possible he does have some concrete values.

      Openly declaring his intention to start shooting wars with major world powers, or his intention to engage in offensive nuclear warfare would be a no-go. That’s about it.

      “do you think that your life will be better under Trump? what sorts of peoples’ lives do you think would be better under Trump?”

      I have no idea. I doubt any of the first-order effects of a Trump presidency will have much effect one way or the other, and certainly not in a predictable fashion. Most of what I’m hoping for are second- and third-order effects, primarily a stable resolution to the culture war.

      “someone comes back from the future with news of what the Trump presidency was like. what about that news could change your support of Trump?”

      News that Trump himself, directly, initiated a large-scale holocaust, nuclear or ethnic.

      • tumteetum says:

        You say…

        >They think he’s erratic

        Then you say…

        >he’s quite comfortable contradicting himself on some issues.

        So it appears you think he’s erratic too no?

        • FacelessCraven says:

          nope. The rest of the sentence provides clear context. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump flipflopped on abortion. I would be quite surprised if he flipflopped on the TPP. I think him starting a major war is significantly less likely than, say, Hillary or Jeb doing so, and ditto for a nuclear exchange. People who don’t support trump disagree with me on those assessments; they seem to think he’s erratic in foreign policy terms.

          • E. Harding says:

            Considering Trump’s promise that “we’ll make great trade deals”, I would not be surprised if Trump managed to pass half the TPP by stealth by the end of his presidency. Thomas Friedman, generally not very brilliant at all, wrote a brilliant piece on how Trump could advertise the TPP. It’s clear, though, that Trump has never liked NAFTA and opposes deals like it.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/opinion/let-trump-make-our-trans-pacific-trade-deal.html

          • tumteetum says:

            >nope. The rest of the sentence provides clear context.

            Well it says there’s a core he hasnt flip-flopped on. I’m just saying that if you agree that he’s “comfortable”(!) contradicting himself on some issues that would seem to constitute being erratic even if he does have a core of other things he’s consistent about.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @tumteem – There’s a difference between being erratic about how he uses words and being erratic about how he uses tanks and nukes. I was refering to the later, you’re conflating the later and the former. that doesn’t seem like a useful thing to do.

          • tumteetum says:

            @FacelessCraven

            Ok that wasnt clear to me, thanks.

          • Paul Barnsley says:

            Neither revoking trade deals nor restricting foreign policy adventurism seem like core parts of Trump’s pitch at all.

            As E Harding notes, his plan is better trade deals, which may well end up meaning the exact same trade deals with different adjectives.

            Similarly, there’s a lot of talk about stronger, tougher, responses to foreign wars, mixed in with the talk about isolationism.

            These seem to boil down to (deeply nonstandard) claims about technocratic competence, not about a bold shift in direction.

            What am I missing – how do we identify Trump’s philosophical core?

        • Deiseach says:

          All politicians do that. Big Topic of today wasn’t even a minor topic five years ago; five years ago Politician L followed the majority opinion and gravely opined that they would never support/turn against the position. Today it suddenly is Major Freedom Issue of Our Times and majority public opinion has changed, Politician L wants to be elected, they now gravely opine they will never turn against/support the position.

          Trump wibbled on something because focus groups or whatever showed wibbling would bump up favorability ratings? I may collapse on my fainting couch from the shock of hearing that!

      • He’s also a con man and a thief. Look at Trump University and his habit of not paying contractors.

        • Bassicallyboss says:

          Okay, sure, maybe, but this isn’t a debate. This is FacelessCraven answering TheUnitOfCaring’s attempt to seek information from supporters. Let’s not let it become an argument; there are enough opportunities to have those elsewhere.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          So is it fair to assume you’re supporting Johnson then?

          In a Trump / Clinton race, to call just one of them out for being corrupt and amoral is revealing a rather serious blind spot regarding the other. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to which of them has gained more from illicit deals but in any case that’s likely more a question of opportunity than willingness.

          • My current plan is to vote for Clinton because Trump horrifies me. Pennsylvania has some chance of being a swing state, otherwise I’d vote for Johnson.

            It’s plausible that there was something fishy about those cattle futures, but I care less about that sort of corruption than I do about ripping off vulnerable individuals. This may be a failure to think about systems on my part, but I also think Trump thinks on a grand scale in hunting for his own advantage that Clinton doesn’t.

          • E. Harding says:

            Nancy, why does Trump horrify you? And why doesn’t Clinton’s disastrous foreign policy horrify you? And Johnson’s an all-around ignoramus; why would you ever consider him?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @E. Harding – I’m not Nancy, but Clinton is pretty clearly more of the same, and our current situation is not really describable as “horrifying”. trump is not more of the same, and many of the things he’s been accused of are horrifying. if you give credence to those accusations, seeing him as horrifying makes sense.

            Objectively, it’s obvious that Trump is easily the more risky candidate.

          • E. Harding:

            Why does Trump horrify me? Let help you a bit with modelling me.

            I am habitually polite. I’m not saying there’s no slippage, but it’s a pretty strong habit.

            I hate nastiness. I have a strong sense of “This is a human spirit. Do not bend, fold, spindle, or mutilate.” I don’t come on as strong about this as I might because of that habit of politeness, but Trump violates some principles I care about in how to treat people.

            Furthermore, in addition to racism/bigotry, he doesn’t seem to get that his policy proposals in re Muslims and Mexicans affect the quality of life of real people, and that people make plans which are affected by federal policies. He can go back and forth about what he says a lot more easily than they can change their plans.

            He’s in favor of torture. Clinton probably is, too, but at least she isn’t gleeful about it. I can always hope that hypocrisy gives a little leverage for changing behavior.

          • “And Johnson’s an all-around ignoramus”

            Assuming you don’t know him personally, how can you possibly know that?

          • E. Harding says:

            “and our current situation is not really describable as “horrifying”.”

            -In the U.S., for the most part, the situation is not horrifying (who knows; maybe it is, but it hasn’t enormously deteriorated since W left office). In the Middle East, a good part of it is (and has deteriorated since W left office), thanks to Obama’s policies.

            “Objectively, it’s obvious that Trump is easily the more risky candidate.”

            -No. Objectively, when you evaluate both candidates’ apparent foreign policies, Clinton is the more risky candidate.

            “Assuming you don’t know him personally, how can you possibly know that?”

            -That Aleppo comment really sealed the deal for me, man. And Johnson shows no awareness of libertarian theory, as well. What topic is Johnson not obviously an ignoramus on?

            “Furthermore, in addition to racism/bigotry, he doesn’t seem to get that his policy proposals in re Muslims and Mexicans affect the quality of life of real people,”

            -Why did Trump propose the Muslim ban? To improve the quality of life of real people. Why did Trump support prioritizing the deportation of violent illegal aliens, propose building a wall, and, crucially, NOT promising to deport (or kill) every last illegal alien residing in the US in his big Arizona immigration speech? Because he met with real people and digested their concerns.

            “Furthermore, in addition to racism/bigotry,”

            -What, exactly, are you talking about?

            Nancy, you are (mostly) treating Trump’s policies in a vacuum. He isn’t in one. There’s no point in analyzing Trump’s policies in a vacuum. Trump, in any objective sense, might be a bad candidate. But I’m reasonably sure he was the best candidate in either primary.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @E. Harding – ” In the Middle East, a good part of it is (and has deteriorated since W left office), thanks to Obama’s policies.”

            I would argue that invading Iraq resulted in a pretty serious deterioration as well. The middle east has been horrifying for a long time. I very, very much want it to be less horrifying, and think Trump might make it so, but life, for us, will go on either way.

            “No. Objectively, when you evaluate both candidates’ apparent foreign policies, Clinton is the more risky candidate.”

            I agree, but that is based on an assessment of where I think things are going long-term. My assessment could be wrong. Trump’s own supporters sell him as a high-risk strategy; see Scott Adams’ posts on the subject.

          • E. Harding says:

            Nancy, you’re right on PA having some chance of flipping Trump. The primary vote margin there was close:

            https://marginalcounterrevolution.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/trump-v-clinton-in-the-pennsylvania-primary/

            @FacelessCraven

            “I would argue that invading Iraq resulted in a pretty serious deterioration as well.”

            -In the short term, definitely. In the medium term, only as a result of interaction with Obama’s policies.

            “I agree, but that is based on an assessment of where I think things are going long-term.”

            -I think Trump’s a lesser risk both short- and long- term.

          • (About the claim that Gary Johnson is an ignoramus, I asked)

            “Assuming you don’t know him personally, how can you possibly know that?”

            (Response)

            -That Aleppo comment really sealed the deal for me, man. ”

            Then I’m an ignoramus too. I know that Aleppo is a city in the Middle East but I have not been paying attention to the details of the current Syrian war. Is familiarity with current hot news your mean criterion for whether someone is an ignoramus.

            I do, however, have a reasonably clear idea of who the Alawites are, which I wouldn’t assume is true of any of the candidates.

            “And Johnson shows no awareness of libertarian theory, as well.”

            That’s a more interesting point. My guess is that he is familiar with it, having been part of the movement for a long time. But he is deliberately presenting a very watered down version, I presume because he thinks the special circumstances of this election give the LP the opportunity to get a much larger vote total than in the past. I’m not sure that is the correct tactic, but it’s not obviously wrong.

            “What topic is Johnson not obviously an ignoramus on?”

            He has a Bachelor’s degree in political science. He knew enough about running a company to grow the firm he founded from one man to over a thousand employees. He knows enough about politics to have been twice elected governor by large margins as a Republican candidate in a Democratic state.

          • E. Harding says:

            @David

            “Then I’m an ignoramus too.”

            -And that’s OK. But you aren’t running for president.

            “I know that Aleppo is a city in the Middle East”

            -That’s way more than we realized Johnson knew about it.

            “Is familiarity with current hot news your mean criterion for whether someone is an ignoramus.”

            -I expect a presidential candidate to be in possession of the knowledge base necessary to be president, yes.

            He has a Bachelor’s degree in political science. He knew enough about running a company to grow the firm he founded from one man to over a thousand employees. He knows enough about politics to have been twice elected governor by large margins as a Republican candidate in a Democratic state.

            -So, American politics and business. That may be fully acceptable for a gubernatorial candidate. But a presidential candidate? I don’t think that’s sufficient.

            My guess is that he is familiar with it, having been part of the movement for a long time. But he is deliberately presenting a very watered down version,

            -My first instinct is to suggest that the watered-down version is what he actually believes. What’s the largest piece of evidence that contradicts this suggestion?

          • Irishdude7 says:

            @E. Harding
            “And Johnson’s an all-around ignoramus; why would you ever consider him?”

            He vetoed hundreds of bills as governor in an effort to prevent special interest provisions, increased spending, or increased taxes. If all Johnson did as president was veto 90% of bills coming out of congress (which more often than not make the budget situation worse and advantage certain favored industries or companies), he’d get my vote.

            His policy proposals are better than the Dems or Repubs: balancing the budget through a 20% reduction in federal spending, eliminating federal departments, eliminating the IRS and going to a national sales tax, supporting free trade, stopping foreign interventionism and regime change, legalizing marijuana (and therefore deescalating the drug war), criminal justice reform, and a general respect for personal and economic freedom.

          • Deiseach says:

            Then I’m an ignoramus too. I know that Aleppo is a city in the Middle East but I have not been paying attention to the details of the current Syrian war. Is familiarity with current hot news your mean criterion for whether someone is an ignoramus.

            Familiarity on the part of someone presenting themselves as a serious candidate for the highest office in the land, on a matter which directly involves the nation and which, if they by some miracle did get elected, they would be required to not alone be aware of but have policy on and sign or break agreements – yes, I expect that.

            The US and Russia worked together to broker the latest ceasefire which has more or less collapsed, and Russia is now in a war of words with Western powers over whether or not it is preferentially helping Assad, to the point of what are being called war crimes.

            I think this is something likely to have an effect where the US is concerned. I would expect a candidate for the presidency to have some opinion on what the hell is going on. And to have an opinion, that candidate needs to have some knowledge of what is currently going on, which includes knowing the name of Aleppo. Even giving the most benefit of the doubt – that the name was pronounced strangely or the question sprung upon him – the “wazzat?” reaction does not sound as if he had done any preparation on it. Johnson may well have other matters he considers much more important, but Syria is not something that the US might get involved in; it already is involved in it, and even if Johnson’s opinion is “get shot of the whole bloody mess”, he has to sound as if he knows what he is talking about.

            And he did not sound as if he knew what he was talking about.

            Imagine if the interviewer had asked him “And what about the GDP?” and he answered “What’s a GDP?” Would you have confidence in him as a policy maker to vote him into power?

          • Ed says:

            The thing you need to understand about E. Harding is that he is a paid Russian troll. Once you know that, his comments make a lot of sense.

          • Ed

            “The thing you need to understand about E. Harding is that he is a paid Russian troll. Once you know that, his comments make a lot of sense.”

            Why do you think so?

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            The thing you need to understand about E. Harding is that he is a paid Russian troll.

            Uh oh guys, Correct The Record has found SSC.

          • Deiseach says:

            The thing you need to understand about E. Harding is that he is a paid Russian troll.

            Wait – we can get paid for commenting on here? Where do I apply? 🙂

          • “-I expect a presidential candidate to be in possession of the knowledge base necessary to be president, yes.”

            If he gets elected, which nobody expects, it will be almost four months till he is president, by which time the hot topic in the Middle East may well be someplace other than Aleppo.

            You are buying the PR version of what a President does. Given the current scale of the Federal government, no human being is competent to know everything relevant and run it himself. Most of what he needs is the ability to select and control a team of people, including ones who specialize in foreign policy issues. The fact that he was successful first as founder and CEO of a firm and then as state governor is evidence that he has that ability.

            You are taking seriously the pretense of politicians to know all sorts of things that they studied up on, like a student cramming for an exam, before they had to pretend to know them. Biden’s slip on FDR and television was a revealing case of the illusion dropping for a moment, revealing just how ignorant a top level politician can be.

            “My first instinct is to suggest that the watered-down version is what he actually believes. What’s the largest piece of evidence that contradicts this suggestion?”

            A fair question. All I can say is that I heard him give a talk to a libertarian audience a few years ago. I wasn’t struck by any obvious signs of deviationism then.

          • Matt M says:

            David,

            Are you at all familiar with Tom Woods’ analysis of Gary Johnson, particularly in regards to the issue of whether or not he is actually familiar with the standard tenets and principals of libertariansim?

            If so, do you agree or disagree with Woods?

          • onyomi says:

            “You are taking seriously the pretense of politicians to know all sorts of things that they studied up on, like a student cramming for an exam, before they had to pretend to know them.”

            I think this pretense is reinforced by the new “fact-checking” fetish prevalent on the left. Related, I can’t believe anyone buys team-Hillary’s suggestion that moderators should “fact-check” the debates as anything more than a naked partisan ploy. Because you know what that means is “contradict Donald’s exaggerations and any statistics he comes up with while keeping silent whenever Hillary is talking.”

            If a candidate tells a real whopper, it should be up to his/her interlocutor to call them on it. The notion of a debate “moderator” “fact-checking” the participants is based on two false premises:

            1. That there ARE objective facts about most politically relevant issues not subject to interpretation, contextualization, or wide variation depending on which study you’re citing

            2. That mastery of a bunch of facts is either important to voters or to being president

            Regarding the lack of importance of “facts” for voters, one can debate whether or not this is a good thing, but I think it’s clear the vast majority don’t wait to decide until after soberly poring over canddiates’ detailed policy proposals.

            Of course journalists and experts can and should “fact check” candidates’ statements after the event, but having the debate moderator selectively interject him/herself as some kind of encyclopedia would clearly not improve the quality of the debate, which is really more a chance for voters to get a sense of how the candidates handle themselves and think on their feet than of their grasp of minutieae.

            Regarding the importance for being president, I agree with David that no human can have in his/her head all the basic facts or expertise necessary to be president of 300 million people and that ability to pick advisors and make informed decisions on the basis of their advice is more important.

            Otherwise, Ken Jennings should be president for life (maybe he would actually be better than both candidates currently on offer, but not because he is the all-time Jeapordy champion, but because he seems like a smart, reasonable-ish guy).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            Yes, a rapidly changing world necessitates a president being able to absorb the relevant facts about a situation so that they can properly respond to the communications they are receiving from their cabinet and staff.

            Seeing whether they can absorb those facts and respond appropriately during a campaign is one data point in considering how well they can do it as president.

            Of course it’s arguably more relevant that the president surround himself with competent staff. But here again, the staff of a campaign, and how well they insulate the candidate from making informational mistakes is also a good data point.

          • Urstoff says:

            No doubt Trump would have absolutely nailed that Aleppo question…

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC

            “Seeing whether they can absorb those facts and respond appropriately during a campaign is one data point in considering how well they can do it as president.”

            What Urstoff said.

            And also, the major party candidates start getting all kinds of security briefings and meetings with top-level people which third-party candidates don’t get, so Johnson’s command of details is less reflective of how well he’d grasp them during a theoretical Johnson presidency than are Clinton’s or Trump’s.

          • Matt M says:

            “1. That there ARE objective facts about most politically relevant issues not subject to interpretation, contextualization, or wide variation depending on which study you’re citing”

            I’ve seen a bunch of people on Twitter pro-actively tweeting at the debate commission and at Lester Holt that the ONLY valid measure of unemployment is from the BLS statistical report and that any other citation is invalid and cannot be allowed.

            They are actively, ahead of time, pressuring the moderator to call Trump out, not just on “if he says this lie correct him” but “if he tries to cite any source other than the one we approve of correct him”

          • Deiseach says:

            If he gets elected, which nobody expects, it will be almost four months till he is president, by which time the hot topic in the Middle East may well be someplace other than Aleppo.

            I wish to God, but I don’t expect Syria to be sorted out that fast. And the US is still going to be involved unless it walks away completely and yields the field to Russia.

            As for candidates only ginning up on hot topical matters so they can do the “I’m glad you asked me that, Bob” canned answer – sure, of course they do.

            But Johnson is a professional politician – I was not aware that he had been Governor of New Mexico and got re-elected – so this is an even bigger blunder on his part: if his campaign team hadn’t prepared a cheat sheet of likely questions and answers based on What’s Big In The News Today, that’s not very efficient of them and as a politician who ran and succeeded in getting elected, surely he encountered the same thing on the local level (“So, Governor, what’s your opinion on the Noxious Weeds Act” or similar).

            If they did and he ignored it, that’s a bad decision on his part. He’s running for the big job now, and if he intends this to be a serious candidacy, rather than merely “Let me get my name and the party into the news”, then he has to start thinking on the national and international scale – and if he can’t switch gears up from local politicking to that level, then he needs to learn how or drop out of the race.

          • Matt M says:

            D,

            Until very recently, GJ was only getting interviews from incredibly sympathetic sources (such as say, reason.com). My guess is he was wholly unprepared to be treated like a serious candidate (which includes receiving designed-to-stump “gotcha” sort of questions)

          • “Are you at all familiar with Tom Woods’ analysis of Gary Johnson”

            Not very. I have just listened to the beginning of Woods’ talk on the subject at the LP convention. Given my preference for consequentialist arguments, telling me that Gary doesn’t base everything he says on the non-aggression principle doesn’t convince me that he doesn’t understand libertarian ideas.

          • “and if he intends this to be a serious candidacy, rather than merely “Let me get my name and the party into the news””

            I can’t read his mind. But I plan to vote for him, and it’s not because I think he has any chance of carrying California.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Urstoff @onyomi:
            Part 1 – Know what the issue is

            Part 2 – Have a coherent and substantive position on the issue

            “Bomb/knock the shit/hell out of them” is not a coherent and substantive position. The follow on position of “make sure we stay and get the oil” is slightly more substantive and coherent, but worse for that coherence and substance.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Nancy
            He’s in favor of torture. Clinton probably is, too, but at least she isn’t gleeful about it.

            Nope, she’s against it.
            https://youtu.be/t1c10kwZWL4

          • Vorkon says:

            I find all of the concern over the Aleppo comment to be absolutely ridiculous.

            Here is a transcript of the entire interview, which nobody ever seems to be quoting from a point any earlier than the Aleppo question, itself:

            http://time.com/4483779/gary-johnson-aleppo-transcript/

            It goes from a conversational discussion about how he might effect the dynamics of the election to, seemingly out of nowhere, a question about Aleppo. Johnson clearly thought the hosts were trying to continue the line of discussion that they had been on for the entire interview thus far, and once he realized “no, we’re talking about Syria now” he pivoted to the topic at hand.

            Sure, you can make the argument that a President needs to be quicker on his toes, and better able to adjust to a quickly changing discussion like that. That’s a very good point. But the prevailing narrative, that he “doesn’t know what Aleppo is,” is utter nonsense. He just had no idea his hosts had suddenly shifted to foreign policy out of nowhere, and was trying to figure out what something called “Aleppo” had to do with how many votes he would or wouldn’t draw away from which candidates.

            I have no doubt whatsoever that Gary Johnson knows as much or more about the situation in Syria than any commenter here. His poor reaction to an unexpected question might not bode well for his ability to roll with the punches of the next political opponent who tries to make him look stupid, which is certainly an issue a President will have to deal with, and I can certainly understand why some Libertarians would take issue with him being mostly a vaguely Libertarian-ish-leaning Republican rather than a hardcore ideological Libertarian, but basing your decision on whether or not to vote for him on the idea that he “doesn’t know what Aleppo is,” strikes me as foolish and gullible.

            The mainstream political machine has been doing everything in its power to make both him AND Jill Stein look foolish every chance they can get, sometimes warranted, but oftentimes not. In this case, they finally found some good ammunition, which they realized would resonate with people outside of the “he isn’t Libertarian enough!” crowd for once, and have milked it for all it’s worth ever since. I won’t try to say that there aren’t valid reasons not to support Johnson, because there certainly are, but unless you’re specifically referring to his ability to deal with hostile journalists, the Aleppo question shouldn’t be one of them.

            Edit: Also, for what it’s worth, “what would you do about Aleppo” is an idiotic question. His attempt to turn it into a discussion about the Syrian conflict as a whole was the appropriate response. There’s no solution to the situation in Aleppo, specifically, that doesn’t require solving the situation in Syria, as a whole. If anything, I think he was giving his interviewers too much credit, by assuming that they were asking him a question which WASN’T stupid, and thus assuming that they must be asking about something he didn’t know about. It’s a stumbling block I often run into myself in conversations where I would otherwise be well-informed, so I can totally sympathize with the guy for making the same error. Admittedly, I’m not running for President, but still…

          • Deiseach says:

            My guess is he was wholly unprepared to be treated like a serious candidate (which includes receiving designed-to-stump “gotcha” sort of questions)

            But he ran for governor of New Mexico and won, and ran for re-election and won. Surely somebody asked him (middling) tough questions during his campaigns? Especially in the first one, when he was running against the incumbent and was of a different party?

            Some of it is plainly brain blep of the kind that happens to us all when we’re put on the spot or our brain is going faster than our tongue, but the Aleppo thing does seem to show that he hasn’t switched his thinking from ‘local’ to ‘national and international’ level, which is a flaw, particularly since this is his second go at running as a presidential candidate.

          • houseboatonstyxb

            Thanks for the Clinton anti-torture link. I’m pleased that she’s so firmly opposed, though I’d want to know how she intends to enforce an anti-torture policy.

          • Matt M says:

            D,

            That was over eight years ago, and who knows what the media landscape in New Mexico is like – certainly not me. Maybe he faced serious scrutiny in his gubernatorial campaign, maybe he didn’t.

            What we do know is, he hasn’t faced any serious scrutiny since at least 2008. Human nature to get lax about things in that sort of situation.

          • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

            I am given to wonder how much of “being presidential” or “a serious candidate” is from the candidate, and how much of it is from having a presidential sized staff.

            The key takeaway from this article for me was just how many people we’re talking about. Setting aside of course the transparent dig at Trump.

            Personally I doubt GJ has the staff to make him a serious candidate. Which makes it hard to get the funding to pay the staff to be a serious candidate.

          • John Schilling says:

            I am given to wonder how much of “being presidential” or “a serious candidate” is from the candidate, and how much of it is from having a presidential sized staff. […]

            Personally I doubt GJ has the staff to make him a serious candidate.

            But if that’s the standard, why is it even relevant? You’re basically saying that a “serious presidential candidate” is one that can afford the support team for a piece of elaborate performance art that is only vaguely related to the actual performance of the duties of office, and that candidates should properly be judged by the quality of the show.

            Granted, probably some voters will never see past the performance, but then some voters will never see past the parenthesized letter at the end of the candidate’s name. If this is what decides elections, sorts the “serious” candidates from the rest, that’s more of a statement about the voters than about any candidate.

          • keranih says:

            I am given to wonder how much of “being presidential” or “a serious candidate” is from the candidate, and how much of it is from having a presidential sized staff.

            Once you get even to the mayorship of a small town, it’s not what you do, but what you do with the people you control. Which includes “what sort of people can you attract to your orbit, who will do what you tell them to do?”

            And so – for me – it’s not the number of people, but the quality, the gravitas, of the leader’s subordinates. Someone who is a quality leader in their own right, but has placed themselves subordinate to the top guy – to me, that’s the mark of a top guy who can Get Stuff Done.

            Of course, you really only figure this out from working w/people, not from watching them on tv screens.

          • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

            @keranih

            I would say that all else being equal of course gravitas matters. But in order for all else to be equal everybody needs to be able to pay the high caliber lieutenant’s salary requirements. They are still going to have mortgages to pay and kids to send to college no matter how much they may like the candidate.

            Like, if I am trying to choose between working for Google, Microsoft, or working on a campaign; and two of them are offering 250k plus stock options and a golden parachute, but the third can only offer “zero, plus it would be really sweet if you payed your own travel” … What do you really think the outcome is going to be?

            @John

            I think your characterization as performance art to be lacking.

            A lot of people consider having our presidential candidates be “like” our presidents to be a bona fide job requirement. This isn’t totally bonkers; a large portion of a president’s job is to just hang around being presidential, after all.

            But presidents have a huge staff supporting them in their hanging around. Consequently, in order to be “like” a president, candidates need a large staff to support them in hanging around acting presidential. This also isn’t totally bonkers; the ability to manage the staff is a bona fide job requirement.

            The problem is that being able to pay the staff isn’t strictly a job requirement. It is a loose a measure of popularity, but it results in a catch 22 kind of thing.

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            ou are buying the PR version of what a President does. Given the current scale of the Federal government, no human being is competent to know everything relevant and run it himself. Most of what he needs is the ability to select and control a team of people, including ones who specialize in foreign policy issues.

            Presidents need to interact with other world leaders, so it is useful to know who they are and who they lead. Actually, political leadership is disanalogous to to company leadership in a bunch of ways…there’s much more spin and PR, there’s much less secrecy and more scrutiny, you’re in charge of people you didn’t hire and can’t fire, and so on.

          • bluto says:

            The latest one is probably worse. On the spot he couldn’t name a single foreign leader he respects, worse he didn’t claim that he doesn’t respect any of them (a dodge but better than claiming an Aleppo moment).

          • erenold says:

            Agreed, bluto. This one is genuinely quite unarguable. It’s not in itself a reason for no one to vote for him – there have been many good reasons to do so raised in this thread – but let us have no more pretending that Mr. Johnson could conceivably have any actual foreign policy expertise, or even general knowledge apparently. He has none.

            Why don’t the Libertarians just run the other guy next to him? He seems minimally competent.

          • qwints says:

            Weld could never have gotten the Libertarian nomination.

      • The Most Conservative says:

        I’m mainly hoping for a break from the foreign interventionism/adventurism consensus I see prevailing since the end of the Cold War. Past that, any breaks from the current bipartisan consensus on policy seem like good things.

        Why do you think that any break would be a good thing?

        I’m not a historian, but this is my current understanding: The last 50+ years have been a historically unprecedented period of peace and prosperity not just for the US, but for the entire civilized world. The best illustration might be the “long peace” visualization at the end of this video: http://www.fallen.io/ww2/ Post World War II, Eisenhower got elected president specifically to maintain American military bases all over the world and have USA play the role of world cop. This seems to have gone ridiculously well.

        In the 60s and 70s, people wrote songs like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVErDEf04-0 about the impending doom of nuclear war. “If we make it we can all sit back and laugh”, Lake sings. And somehow we managed to dodge that bullet… shouldn’t that be considered a smashing policy success?

        If the last 50 years don’t validate Eisenhower’s decision, and all the work that’s gone in to preventing nuclear proliferation, what would?

        Due to a ridiculous stroke of luck, the English settlers who came to North America 400 years ago built not only the most powerful, but also the most benevolent empire the world has ever seen–an empire that has arguably never lost a war. (If you disagree the US is unusually benevolent, name a single historical empire that provides protection and defends trade routes but does not demand tribute. I’m pretty sure the US is the only one! We let our provinces govern themselves, despite the fact that out troops have been stationed in their territory for decades.)

        Understanding society is hard. If things ain’t broke, don’t try to fix them! That’s why I’m against changing the US electorate through immigration, and also against voting for wrecking balls like Donald Trump.

        The only safe changes are ones that we already know are workable (e.g. turning back the clock on American culture and returning to traditional gender norms, drastically decreasing government spending to return us to the level seen in previous decades, etc.)

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @TMC – “I’m not a historian, but this is my current understanding: The last 50+ years have been a historically unprecedented period of peace and prosperity not just for the US, but for the entire civilized world.”

          I don’t think it can last forever, and I don’t like the failure modes that seem probable. I’m not confident that our effect on the world is net-positive; we’ve made an awful mess of a bunch of different countries. We do not seem to be good at exporting democracy. We do seem to be pretty good at creating failed states. I would like us to stop doing that.

          Whether this is the best possible strategy, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone else does either.

          • The Most Conservative says:

            We do not seem to be good at exporting democracy. We do seem to be pretty good at creating failed states. I would like us to stop doing that.

            I agree–I don’t see attempts at nationbuilding as being key to the strategy. Promising to defend Japan and South Korea with our nukes does seem pretty key.

        • E. Harding says:

          @The Most Conservative

          This is similar to the arguments the Communists used for keeping the Soviet system afloat around c. 1985. They were also, incidentally, right in the short term. Which, I think, is better than can be said of your argument against Trump.

          • The Most Conservative says:

            Re: Soviet system, see http://lesswrong.com/lw/lw/reversed_stupidity_is_not_intelligence/ With the Soviets, you could argue that their people saw a superior, working Western system and wanted to switch to it. I don’t think you can easily make a similar argument here. If you want to run experiments, I’m all in favor, but don’t do it in the biggest, most critical country that seems to have one of the best systems.

            I think China’s route out of communism was a smart one. Experiment with special capitalist zones; expand them after the experiment goes well. Their current system looks basically like capitalism, but with the added advantage that they worry less about communist airheads trying to start a revolution since they’re officially communist.

            What sort of near-term horrors do you forsee if the US stays on its current track? Terrorism is the only thing that comes to mind off the top of my head. Terrorism of course kills fewer people than car accidents, but I’m in favor of public hysteria regarding terrorism because antiterror measures are also helpful to guard against existential risks. However, I don’t think the marginally increased level of terrorism hysteria from a Trump presidency outweighs the other risks. The guy has an instinctively non-diplomatic personality, and being diplomatic is important for, well, global diplomacy.

            I thought some about what could conceivably a demonstrably better system than the US, and the answer that came to mind was Singapore. Check out this conversation between Obama and the Singaporean prime minister. Some highlights:

            (1) Singapore has extremely close ties to the US; even though Singapore’s policies are outside America’s Overton window, and the Singaporean leader sees fit to remark on America’s changing demographics (racist!), the closeness of the alliance demonstrates that American and Singaporean rulers are actually relatively close philosophically speaking.

            (2) Obama agrees with me that things are going great in the world: “We have benefitted from enormous peace and prosperity around the world, an unprecedented period where the great powers were not engaged in conflict, in part because of growing interdependence.” Singapore’s PM agrees with me that America is a remarkably benevolent force on the world stage: “there are other powers, other centers of creativity and technology and science and progress, but yet [America is] a unique participant with a history of contributing to the world not just for your own interest but because you believe that the world should be a better place for all countries.”

            (3) Singapore’s Prime Minister is vastly more diplomatic than Donald Trump. He suggests that the US election is overheated and also subtly implies that electing Trump would be a mistake, though hopefully not a big one:

            So that’s the crucial factor over the next 50 years. As for what we do over bipartisan links, if there’s a U.S. leader who is more closed off and wants to turn inward, I don’t think this is the right forum or indeed there is any right forum for me to talk about U.S. politics in public at this moment. We will work with whoever is the U.S. administration, whichever party. We’ve worked with five Republican and four Democratic administrations. And our experience of American elections, presidential elections, has been that many pressures build up during the election campaign. And after the elections, in a calmer, cooler atmosphere, positions are re-thought, strategies are nuanced, and a certain balance is kept in the direction of the ship of state. It doesn’t turn completely upside down.

            The Americans take pride in having a system with checks and balances so that it is not so easy to do things, but it is not so easy to completely mess things up. (Laughter.) And we admire that and sometimes we depend upon that. (Laughter.)

            (4) Singapore’s PM favors the TPP–in fact Singapore is where the TPP originally started. Obviously Donald Trump is against it. Hard to see how this makes them part of the same geopolitical school of thought.

            This article provides further support for the idea that Singapore is anti-Trump.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @TMC – “What sort of near-term horrors do you forsee if the US stays on its current track? ”

            Nuclear war with Russia, due to brinkmanship by both sides.

          • The Most Conservative says:

            You’re worried about nuclear war with Russia even after they withdrew from Syria? What do you see on the horizon that might precipitate a nuclear war?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @YMC – “What do you see on the horizon that might precipitate a nuclear war?”

            American foreign policy has had the goal of containing Russia and breaking its regional power status since the end of the cold war. I think this policy is stupid and dangerous, because it drags us into conflict with Russia over things that are none of our business. If Putin has already reneged on the Soviet “no first use” policy toward nukes, and has stated that if necessary, he’d be willing to use tactical nukes to compensate for Western dominance on the battlefield. I could see us doing the same if a hostile superpower looked like it was getting its boot on our neck.

            Generally, this is my problem with the Pax Americana. Foreigners don’t like being ruled by us, and they’re never going to stop trying to get out from under us, and our efforts to keep them there appear to do a whole lot of damage, and keep ratcheting up the risk.

          • John Schilling says:

            What sort of near-term horrors do you forsee if the US stays on its current track?

            Financial and economic collapse on the level of Greece, if not Venezuela. The United States is a very rich nation, but one accustomed to living beyond its means on the basis of holding a credit card with low rates and an unspecified credit limit that we haven’t reached yet. Barring revolutionary change, we will. I’d put better than even odds of that happening in the next thirty years, and it is as likely next year as thirty years from now.

            This is not something I expect either Trump or Clinton to do anything useful to stop, of course.

          • Civilis says:

            American foreign policy has had the goal of containing Russia and breaking its regional power status since the end of the cold war.

            I think this seems highly unlikely, given the fractured nature of American governance. G. H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush and Obama have all had different opinions on Russia. Romney was routinely derided for thinking Russia was becoming a threat again.

            Looked at from a practical perspective, the consistent goal of the US with regards to foreign policy (beyond keeping the US safe) is keep up the public relations facade that things are as nice and peaceful and happy as possible. Ideally, we’d want everyone to be nice and happy, because when things aren’t nice and happy, the US and Western governments get pressured to do something about it. So whether things are actually nice and happy doesn’t matter as long as nobody really finds out about it; appearances matter, not reality.

            With the Soviet Union gone, we could pretend Russia was nice and happy. They had more freedom. They were on our side, nominally, against Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War (an example of all the now nice and happy people ganging up on someone who very obviously was still a bad guy). Admittedly, this meant sweeping the increasing repression and what happened in Chechnya under the rug, but it’s not the only bad things we’ve covered up in the name of niceness since the end of the cold war. As long we could pretend Russia was nice and happy, we didn’t care.

            What happens in Russia stays in Russia. What happens in the Ukraine and Georgia, not so much. The news couldn’t pretend what was going on there was nice and happy, because people in the Ukraine and Georgia managed to make the news with how not-nice and unhappy things were, and that it was Russia’s fault, not theirs. For this, the truth doesn’t matter, the narrative does; Russia is bigger, therefore it’s the bad guy.

            The news couldn’t pretend what was going on in Syria was nice and happy, either. Assad revealed himself as an obvious bad guy. The west tried offering outs so we could get back to ‘nice and happy enough for the middle east’. We ignored crossing the red line. We offered a ‘pretend to get rid of your chemical weapons’ out. We recently brokered a cease fire. Assad doesn’t care about nice and happy, he cares about staying in power, and Russia cares about their port.

            Russia, being practical, doesn’t care about niceness and happiness. They’re not alone in this, but they’ve gotten to the point where they don’t care what people think, which naturally puts them in opposition to the people that think everything should be nice and happy.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @John Schilling

            Financial and economic collapse on the level of Greece, if not Venezuela [in the next 30 years]

            How would you recommend somebody hedge against this? We’ve previously discussed preparing for TEOTWAWKI, where you recommended stockpiling friends. How about this scenario, which presumably lacks roving militias?

          • Lumifer says:

            Financial and economic collapse on the level of Greece

            I don’t know if I would speak of the “collapse” of Greece. Most everyone there became poorer, but their political system is functioning as usual, the buses are running, there is no starvation, etc. Greece isn’t Germany, but it has never been Germany.

          • Anon. says:

            their political system is functioning as usual

            You say that like it’s a good thing.

          • Lumifer says:

            I’m not saying that Greece is in a good shape — I’m saying it’s in its usual shape :-/

            There might be a bit of an optical illusion here because in the years between entering the eurozone and the debt crisis Greece was doing exceptionally well. It just reverted to type.

          • John Schilling says:

            How would you recommend somebody hedge against [financial collapse]? We’ve previously discussed preparing for TEOTWAWKI, where you recommended stockpiling friends. How about this scenario, which presumably lacks roving militias?

            The network of friends is still a good idea, of course, particularly ones with couches you can sleep on.

            I’d start with enough cash – actual physical money – to live for a month and fly to another continent, not necessarily in that order. This is a subset of the six months’ emergency savings recommended on general principles; you want a fraction of that to be immune to any damn fool thing the fiscal Powers That Be may do to your credit and/or bank accounts. US dollars are probably OK; the fPTB will be pulling out all the stops to preserve the value of the US$ on paper for a few months more even when the writing is clearly on the wall.

            Next, if practical live in a house or condominium that you own, if not free and clear then one with a 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Make inflation your friend, and make it as hard as possible for anyone else to make a legal or moral case for kicking you out of your home.

            The Mormon approach of keeping a year’s supply of food and other consumables in that home is another good step. Depending on your cooking and eating habits, this may be a simple rotating pantry rather than a dedicated stockpile of preserved food.

            Solar panels on the roof of said house, but only if they are close to being economically viable in their own right.

            Skills that you are confident you can barter with people who live in your community. This one can be huge, and shouldn’t be neglected just because it isn’t a material thing.

            Low on the list but still worth mentioning are the survivalist/prepper staples of a rifle/shotgun, a pistol, and a car that can be converted to run on biodiesel (or an electric one if you’ve got the solar panels). No roving militias, but possibly armed neighborhood watches in place of now-unpaid police, and an advantage to being on the inside. Also an advantage to retaining mobility if the gas station is only open two days a month.

          • erenold says:

            @The Most Conservative:

            Singapore is indeed in every single way the anti-Trump land. They, as a positive rule, seek to elect the most mandarin-like, technocratic, academically excellent rulers they can find. Their people are personally circumspect, socially diffident folk, generally mistrustful of “braggadocious” characters. Their system is hypersensitive to race-baiting demagoguery, and Donald Trump would never in a million years get anywhere near the gears of power in their country. Whether this is a good thing for them, is for them to decide.

            None of this, however, changes the fact that their Prime Minister should mind his own bloody business. And so should Justin Trudeau, Monsieur le French Ambassador whatever his name is, and everyone else. Singapore in particular should come in for special criticism here because their national sport appears to be exploding in self-righteous indignation whenever a guailo so much as comments on their political or legal systems, yet here they are doing exactly the same thing or worse – trying to actively influence a sovereign nation and ally’s election.

            If nothing else, it’s stupid, because its so obviously counterproductive. Not one single American is going to care what the Singaporean PM thinks of Trump/Clinton, nor should he. If anything, this will probably play to Trump’s strengths as a Patriotic American Who Takes No Shit, and, in the 45% chance Trump actually wins, get Singapore into a world of hurt subsequently.

          • The Most Conservative says:

            @erenold – if you actually read the minister’s comments, they are quite diffident. Other world leaders have been more strident I think.

            @FacelessCraven – There’s a case to be made that Trump would *increase* the odds of nuclear war involving Russia as well http://www.vox.com/2016/7/21/12247074/donald-trump-nato-war

          • erenold says:

            @The Most Conservative

            Just to clarify, I’m not referring to their PM’s comments in the joint press conference with Obama. He’s been commenting on the US election, on record, to top US newspapers, for a long time now, calling it an ‘extreme menu of choices’ (but I think, based on the timing, that he had Sanders in mind rather than Clinton, though). In fact, he called it the most extreme choice in America’s entire history, and unsubtly warning Americans that Trump=unqualified=populism=Hitler.

            http://www.pmo.gov.sg/mediacentre/pm-lee-hsien-loongs-interview-wall-street-journal-wsj

            “PM: You believe in your system, with checks and balances, you can have somebody who is far from ideal become the President and the system will prevent him from doing harm. And so far, it has worked in the sense that you have had Presidents who have not measured up, but after some time, well, the world comes back. But I do not think you have ever had such an extreme menu of choices as you have in this election, choices which are likely to end up on the ballot paper. If you do, there are precedents. In Asia, you can write those off as unstable, immature democracies, but in Europe, before the War, such stress led to very extreme outcomes in Germany, in Italy and in the end, you had a very unhappy result. “

            I’ll admit that in all honesty, I think this PM of theirs is probably a very bright, serious guy. I would probably vote for him if I had a chance. And truthfully, I share his assessment of your election almost to the letter.

            But shutting up about it on the record, even if asked, really doesn’t seem so hard, does it? He’s not even like Enrique Nieto where Trump has been bashing his country and Nieto rightly feels some need to respond.

            “No, I have no comment to make about what is solely a matter for the American electorate alone to decide.” Done. Why the need to comment at all?

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            You can say that you are rebalancing towards Asia, but is it words or is it deeds? And if in fact, you are rebalancing towards Asia with aircraft carriers and aeroplanes, what is it in aid of? All your partners in Asia-Pacific have China as their biggest trading partner. The Australians, the Japanese, the South Koreans, most ASEAN countries, including Singapore since recently. So, to develop a trans-Pacific relationship, you have to deepen the trans-Pacific trade and investment ties, which have done so much to benefit the people of both sides. If you are not prepared to do that, then what do you mean when you say you are deeply invested and want to do more together?

            you have a population which is anxious, tired and does not want to bear any burden and pay any price, and that is very difficult for whoever becomes President. You are tired of expending blood and treasure, you are uncertain about jobs and competition. To say that you need free trade and you need to be present in far-flung places, it is true, but it is very hard to make the argument and I do not think many of your legislators are doing that.

            I think they would be more comfortable doing that if it is an open region and there are other participants and they can maintain an omnidirectional policy. If you only have one relationship, well, then between being a friend and being a client, the line is grey.

            God this is a refreshing read. Open and honest, but veiled, like reading an old book. And the quirks of Singaporean English are strangely appealing.

            Maybe Trump doesn’t have to reign for 40,000 years. What if we just imported an emperor from Singapore?

          • erenold says:

            Well, it’ll cost you, for one thing. 425% what you’re currently paying Obama, to be exact.

            http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/singapore-pm-lee-hsien-loong-remains-highest-paid-country-leader-1-7m-annual-salary-1493952

            (Do note the ‘clean wage‘ policy, though – that guy gets paid a large, transparent lump sum all at once, but no ‘second home’ expenses and other complex add-ons etc. No pension either.)

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            That sum is exactly what Hillary was paid to “write” a book that sold 3,000 copies. I’d help pay it myself for a man like Lee.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Well, it’ll cost you, for one thing. 425% what you’re currently paying Obama, to be exact.

            From “Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell”:

            Would the Czar be corrupt and greedy and tyrannical? Yes, probably. Let’s say he decided to use our tax money to build himself a mansion ten times bigger than the Palace of Versailles. The Internet suggests that building Versailles today would cost somewhere between $200M and $1B, so let’s dectuple the high range of that estimate and say the Czar built himself a $10 billion dollar palace. And he wants it plated in solid gold, so that’s another $10 billion. Fine. Corporate welfare is $200B per year. If the Czar were to tell us “I am going to take your tax money and spend it on a giant palace ten times the size of Versailles covered in solid gold”, the proper response would be “Great, but what are we going to do with the other $180 billion dollars you’re saving us?”

        • baconbacon says:

          Pax Americana is wildly overstated (though it is still probably better than many other empires) for a few reasons. First is selecting the end of WW2 as a start date, the US tried to drive world policy after WW1 and failed (in terms of creating a peace) spectacularly. Starting after WW2 is like saying “I have an excellent driving record from age 17 onward” when you ran over 5 people driving at age 16″.

          The second is that most analyses focus on wars between states, the majority of violence since WW2 has occurred between a state and its “people”. If China had been split into several factions post WW2 and then fought a series of wars that killed 30 million people, the “peace” no longer looks so good, but because China was “unified” and 30 million died of starvation and disease this doesn’t get counted as a mark against peace by many historians (ditto for Stalin’s violence in Eastern Europe, or the ongoing dictatorship in North Korea).

          • “the majority of violence since WW2 has occurred between a state and its “people”.”

            What happened in China was mostly peaceful, with the exception of parts of the Cultural Revolution, although it resulted in a lot of deaths.

            But there have been a series of wars in Africa in the post WWII period, primarily internal, that have killed very large numbers. I think the estimate for the Biafran war alone is about a million.

          • baconbacon says:

            I’m not sure of your definition of peaceful. The Chinese Civil war continued for ~4 years after WW2 and caused a significant number of casualties. The great famine was caused by the Great Leap Forward in which land was stripped (via force or threats of force), and the Cultural Revolution was all violence and intimidation. The methods were somewhat different than Stalin used, instead of sending secret service to arrest and deport opponents and their famiies/supporters, Mao basically gave carte blanche to anyone against their neighbors. If you lableded them a dissident you could strip their property away, have them publicly humiliated, abused or tortured without fear of repercussions from the state.

        • eccdogg says:

          I don’t know if our involvement is net good or bad. I can see evidence on both sides and really think the issue is too complicated to model.

          I do know that it is expensive both in lives and treasure. And I don’t think one country that represents ~17% of the world GDP ought to be responsible for ~35% of military spending.

    • E. Harding says:

      How do you reply to Unit of Caring? I’ve never had a Tumblr account; the whole place just seems to be a hive of scum and villainy. And the recently-revealed Yahoo hack does not give me much confidence.

      I think mostly “what policies do you think a president Trump would actually pursue?”

      -Cut taxes; let Russia defeat the Islamic State. I have no clue what he’d do on the Yemen issue; probably no different than Clinton. Try for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, which will be rejected by Palestine. Appoint conservative Supreme Court picks, as vetted by Mike Pence. Don’t bother doing anything with Ukraine; let the Europeans deal with it. Get NATO members to pay their fair share. Punish companies trying to move jobs overseas (though not sure whether Ryan would agree). Not touch Social Security or Medicare. Support a pretty large infrastructure plan. Not sure what he’d do on Libya, but probably nothing too stupid. Be tough on Iran, including shooting down their boats in international waters if they make rude gestures. This will cause some international incidents, but, like that time Bush I shot down an Iranian civilian plane, this won’t be too big a deal. He will apologize for nothing. Keep, and possibly expand, the NSA’s capabilities. Trump will, sadly, be too deferential to the Jewish State. Overall, a mediocre president, but almost certainly way better than Rubio, Clinton, or Kasich, and more realistic than Cruz on foreign policy. Strong border security; no amnesty. A more sensible policy on Muslim immigration.

      “what is your interpretation of why people who hate Trump hate Trump?”

      -The most obvious reason to dislike Trump is his endless inconsistency. But I really don’t understand nuts like Eric Erickson and Ross Douthat, who supported Mitt “windsock” Rmoney, a bought robot if I ever saw one. It seems too many college-educated people care much more about style than substance and don’t really understand American Politics 101. The college-educated generally have disgusting political preferences, preferring dangerous bought robots like Rubio and boring people who won’t change a thing in a positive direction like Kasich to original thinkers who reject the errors of Bushism like the Donald and true conservatives like Cruz. I do not believe most people claiming to oppose Trump out of principle are the least bit principled.

      “do you believe the things Trump says,”

      -On occasion. His statements must, as with all politicians, be judged in context. Some are true, some are false.

      “and are there things he could say that in your opinion would disqualify him from the presidency?”

      -Of course. If he said something like “We’d be looking to appoint Supreme Court justices like Stephen Breyer and Merrick Garland” (who said that?) half my reasons for voting for him would disappear. The same would be the case if he said anything much more dangerous than Obama on foreign policy.

      “do you think that your life will be better under Trump?

      -Sure. Maybe the manufacturing productivity stagnation of the past half-decade will end under him. Maybe not. Who knows? I suspect Trump will be a one-term president and that there will be a mild recession under him.

      “what sorts of peoples’ lives do you think would be better under Trump?”

      -Coal miners; those benefiting from protectionist policies. Those disliking political correctness.

      “someone comes back from the future with news of what the Trump presidency was like. what about that news could change your support of Trump?”

      -Again, lots. The options are limitless.

      • Bassicallyboss says:

        Tumblr pages typically have an “Ask” button in the heading, which allow visitors to send text messages to the author. No account is necessary to use it, but it does seem to have a fairly restrictive (~300) character limit.

      • Deiseach says:

        What flabbergasts me is the view on the (can we call it the left?) side that Trump actually cares a button about abortion. I realise the view is that he is pandering to the Religious Right, but what the hysterics don’t seem to realise (because as far as they’re concerned, all religious practice is the same) is that his appeal is greatest amongst what could be called ‘cultural Evangelicals’ (in the same way as Kaine has done the whole “I’m a devout Catholic but I think the Church is going to change its mind on homosexuality and women priests and I’m not going to push my personal religious beliefs about abortion on the public but I’m for the death penalty even though the popes are against it” – he has a 100 per cent rating from Planned Parenthood) who aren’t too big on church going but who would have been brought up in that kind of milieu. Amongst committed religious, including church leaders, he has little to no support and a lot of criticism.

        I don’t imagine Trump cares a button whether his employees (male or female) are using contraception, other than if some of them get knocked up it means they’ll be taking time off to have the baby and that interferes with their productivity. Yet to read the more fraught appeals, a Trump presidency would mean every woman in America reduced to being barefoot and pregnant. I think he put out the abortion message as a vote-grabbing gimmick, not realising that it won’t grab him as many votes as he thought. And I really can’t see him putting any kind of restriction on contraception or abortion if he got into power.

        • Corey says:

          It’s assumed Trump would rubber-stamp anything from a Republican Congress, which is very likely to restrict contraception and abortion. As for whether he’d make executive actions (appointments, regulations, etc.) to restrict abortion, well, he probably wouldn’t need to.

          • Matt M says:

            Why didn’t such restrictions occur when GWB had the executive and legislative branch (and supreme court and majority state governments)?

          • Corey says:

            Good question. The national GOP wasn’t as coherent on abortion then, I guess. Hasn’t “abortion should not be allowed in rape/incest cases” gone from fringe to mainstream in that time? Most of the movement has been at State level, since the 2010 GOP sweep.

          • Deiseach says:

            It’s assumed Trump would rubber-stamp anything from a Republican Congress, which is very likely to restrict contraception and abortion.

            Again, I don’t think so. Easy way for President Trump to gain some pragmatic co-operation from the Democrats? Leave anything to do with access to contraception alone. Tell his Republican supporters that it’s in order to reduce abortion, because (as we get constantly told) in order to reduce the need for abortion, access to cheap, plentiful and a range of choice contraception will prevent unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.

            And you can easily unbundle “I don’t personally support abortion” from “I think access to family planning is making a responsible choice” and “I don’t have the right to interfere in people’s private sex lives”.

            I think President Trump would be much more interested in striking a deal where he could get a Supreme Justice selection who was sound on contraception/abortion rights (to please the Dems and which he personally doesn’t care a straw about) and who was likely to make decisions on trade, tax etc. that favoured Trump’s economic views. If he presented it as “you can oppose Justice Buggins and then you don’t get anybody you like because I’ll find some way of sticking you with a candidate you hate, or you can not-oppose Justice Buggins, who won’t touch Roe or anything to do with it, and you can have your victory there. So – abortion rights or tax cuts for big business, which is more important to you, and given that you’ve spent this entire campaign crying over the horrible pro-life threat I represent, what are you going to tell your base when I offer you a pro-choice judge and you refuse them?”

          • Brad (The Other One) says:

            @Matt M

            Because the republican establishment doesn’t actually want to get rid of abortion: having abortion as a wedge issue in election years to rile up the apparatchiks and useful idiots means it’s pragmatically useful for it to be around.

          • Corey says:

            @Brad: That is indeed the conventional wisdom about abortion opposition, but I think it’s not true anymore, because today’s politicians come from yesterday’s base. That is, I think current pro-life politicians sincerely oppose abortion on moral grounds, rather than for cynical reasons.

          • Wednesday says:

            It’s assumed Trump would rubber-stamp anything from a Republican Congress, which is very likely to restrict contraception and abortion.

            You do realize that literally no one wants to restrict contraception, right? Infamous Catholic boogeyman Rick Santorum voted to fund a federal program to distribute contraceptives.

            Also relevant: http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/243112-senate-republicans-call-for-over-the-counter-birth-control

        • What sort of Supreme Court judges do you think Trump will push for?

        • Jordan D. says:

          Realistically, the only important question for the President related to abortion is the tenor of Supreme Court justices they’d nominate. Presently, there are a majority of states which would produce bans or stringent restrictions on abortion, but they’re restrained by the holding in Roe v. Wade and related Supreme Court cases. Since the only way to overturn those holdings is either to pass an Amendment (not very likely) or get a majority of Justices willing to reverse those cases, a single-issue voter ought to care only that Trump is more likely to nominate Justices who would overturn Roe than Clinton is.

          So whether Trump cares about abortion is irrelevant- the only question is if you believe him when he says that he’d appoint extremely conservative Justices as opposed to his sister or something.*

          *Note that Trump’s sister is actually an accomplished jurist and, if not really on anyone’s shortlist for the spot, would hardly be the strangest nomination we’ve ever seen.

          • Deiseach says:

            a single-issue voter ought to care only that Trump is more likely to nominate Justices who would overturn Roe than Clinton is

            But is he? I don’t think he is – why would he? “Oh, to appease his Religious Right base!” But that’s not his base – not the real ‘religious right’, and even in their hey-day of influence, no Republican presidents did such a thing.

            I took his comments on abortion to be the usual cynical vote-grabbing tactic: promise much, deliver little, on something that personally doesn’t matter to him as policy but is what (is assumed to) play well with a large block of voters. In power, it’s “we can’t do it because of legal stuff”.

          • Jordan D. says:

            (Note: I have no desire to vote for Trump, so what I’m saying may be biased against him)

            Well, here’s the thing. It wouldn’t shock me if Trump threw his Heritage-approved list out the window immediately. I don’t really think he cares about ‘conservative jurisprudence’ or the interests of the religious right as such. Furthermore the things he seems to have a personal interest in- reducing the scope of First Amendment protections, increasing the applicability of eminent domain- are things a lot of the people on his lists aren’t likely to go for. A President Trump might very well end up appointing a truly eclectic group of Justices that nobody really wants.

            On the other hand, there hasn’t been a lot of sign that Trump really cares very much about the Supreme Court. He might very well appoint whoever from his list because it’s simply not interesting to him.

            BUT- Clinton is 100% not going to appoint anybody willing to overturn Roe. If someone is voting and that issue is what matters to them more than anything else, they have a higher chance of getting what they want with Trump than they do with Clinton.

            Now, if you’re not a single-issue voter, you can certainly say ‘Trump has a better chance than Clinton of having Roe overturned, but it’s far from a sure thing, so I should factor all of these other policies into the mix.’ That’s legitimate. But single-issue voters do exist.

            As for why past presidents didn’t get Roe overturned by appointing Justices who would do it- well, I mean, they did. It isn’t always obvious how any of the Justices would vote on any issue, but Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Thomas have all either come out against it or been in favor of narrowing the holding in the past. It’s just that since Kennedy wouldn’t vote to overturn Roe, they never had a majority. Possibly a President Trump wouldn’t deliver that majority either, but it’s certainly more likely than Clinton doing it.

          • Matt M says:

            Worth noting that the “real religious right” consists of a lot of NeverTrump people who favored Cruz over him for the exact reason that they don’t think he’s actually pro-life at all

          • sourcreamus says:

            I believe him and its 75% of the reason I plan on voting for him. I don’t think he personally cares about the supreme court or just about any policy. He is mainly in politics to satisfy his personal vanity and not for any ideological purpose. Given his lack of interest in policy he would mostly rely on others for names to nominate and any republican he would ask would have a list of good judges for him to choose from. He already released a good list of candidates and while I don’t think he personally knew about any of them it was a sign he is listening to the right people.

    • keranih says:

      Re UoC’s questions:

      I think mostly “what policies do you think a president Trump would actually pursue?”

      Self-aggrandizing, taking global holidays, and basking in the glow of bootlickers. Also attempting to prove that a President really can’t do much themselves to influence the nation. More seriously, I think he’s going to try to address immigration and business regulation, and I don’t expect him to get particularly far on either.

      “what is your interpretation of why people who hate Trump hate Trump?”

      …yah know, I started typing out a long answer to this, and then realized that actually when *I* want to know why someone dislikes Trump, I ask them. My mind reading *sucks*. So find someone who hates Trump (shouldn’t be a long walk) and ask them.

      “do you believe the things Trump says, and are there things he could say that in your opinion would disqualify him from the presidency?”

      I don’t think he believes all the things he says, and what’s more, he expects us to see that. Which in terms of Presidential politics is a bracing gust of fresh air. He could say that he is under the age of 35 and/or that he’s not a US citizen. Aside from that I’m not aware of qualifications that we’ve strictly enforced.

      “do you think that your life will be better under Trump? what sorts of peoples’ lives do you think would be better under Trump?”

      Emotionally and in terms of professional satisfaction, yes. I also think that it’s likely people would be marginally safer as the recent uptick in violence and crime dampens down again. In terms of financial/material wealth, I expect environmental and regulatory creep to not increase as much under Trump as it will under Hillary, and so we should see better financial outcomes across the country.

      “someone comes back from the future with news of what the Trump presidency was like. what about that news could change your support of Trump?”

      Completely useless information without someone coming from the counter-factual future where we could see what a Hillary presidency was like. I’d like to think that I’d have refused to vote for a president who put American citizens in internment camps…but FDR also got us through WWII, and that’s not nuthin’.

      • anonymous now says:

        “I don’t think he believes all the things he says, and what’s more, he expects us to see that.”

        It doesnt seem possible that Trump could be communicating something he expects to get across through so much misinformation.

        http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/2016-donald-trump-fact-check-week-214287

        It doesn’t seem possible that a rational actor could read that report and speak of voting for Trump with such equanimity.

        I guess I’m wondering if you havent sealed yourself off from bad news about Trump?

        • Civilis says:

          At this point, reports like that are useless. They either favor your preconceptions, or they’re put out by a biased source. The Politico one is particularly bad, as it’s a soundbite vs soundbite argument. Most substantial political debates and arguments can’t be reduced to easily quotable paragraphs for speeches.

          For me, the questions asked were meaningless. I don’t know Trump’s policies will be better than Hillary’s. I despise both candidates. I’m likely voting for Trump (if the state looks close) because of the total degradation in the rule of law over the last eight years of Democratic Party rule of the federal executive branch, of which Hillary’s recent scandals have just been the most visible. Somebody needs to hold the government to task and actually investigate the serious allegations against it. With a horrible non-Democrat in office, both sides might actually do so.

        • keranih says:

          Anon now –

          News reports, I read.

          Opposition research channeled directly from Hillary’s campaign to MSM, nsm. That was a hit job.

      • Gabe says:

        I don’t think he believes all the things he says, and what’s more, he expects us to see that.

        This is kinda convenient for him, though. This way, he can say everything, and then people can pretend he really believes whatever subset they most like.

        Does he feel that Mexicans and Muslims are ruining America, or is he just pandering to people who think that? Answer: whichever would make you vote for him.

    • hlynkacg says:

      What would be the best way to go about replying to UnitofCaring if one doesn’t have a Tumblr account and isn’t interested in getting one?

      • Bassicallyboss says:

        Tumblr pages have an “Ask” button that can be used by non-account holders to send messages. There seems to be a character limit, however.

    • knownastron says:

      The Kowloon walled city is a incredibly interesting place. I have family from Hong Kong that have visited the walled city back in the day. They described it as if it was just another visit to the grocery store. There was no mention of a fear for their safety or of the Triads.

      • onyomi says:

        Visiting Chungking Mansions recently I felt like maybe I was experiencing a little taste of what the Walled City must have been like. Not sure if the comparison is accurate.

    • sohois says:

      That second link provides an interesting insight into debate on the tumblr platform. The libertarian lays out their position fairly dispassionately, and I think gives a decent account of what they believe and why they believe it is a good thing.

      Not being too familiar with arguments for or against libertarianism, I decided to check out the reply from the original debater. This person describes themselves as talking about leftist policies, so I must assume they are some kind of socialist? In any case, they appeared to attempt to reply, but very quickly became so bogged down in rage that any semblance of reason was thrown out the window. They could barely begin to write their counterparts before being overcome with desire to call their opposite number, the positions and anyone who supports them “fucking stupid”. Why were they fucking stupid? I honestly have no idea, as they seemed to think it was self-evident that this was the case.

      I don’t have a particular leaning in this fight, but it really does not reflect well on this socialist/anti-libertarian’s position that they can’t articulate an argument without devolving into a frothing rage.

      • Gazeboist says:

        “Socialist” is not a word that has much meaning. “Social democrat” is probably (but not necessarily) a better description of what you mean.

      • thirqual says:

        One of the problems there: the best case scenario is that socialjusticemunchkin/Promethea is very fond of exploiting one failure mode of discussions among rationalists and adjacents, ie pulling out numbers and using them without checking if they apply or if they are correct as long as they support her arguments, and then back-pedaling a minimum or vacating the discussion when this is pointed out. It is effective as long as no-one looks into it (and I usually don’t, she’s on my blacklist because of that behavior), and of course dishonest and infuriating.

        The second problem is that jeyseic does not adhere at all to the local rules of engagement, and is discussing stuff with Rat_Tumblr because of epic anti-SJ rants and an interesting take on disfranchised whites and dependency on public services and help.

    • TomFL says:

      I’m not really a Trump supporter, but more like a Trump sympathizer.

      “what policies do you think a president Trump would actually pursue?”

      Reversal of the Obama agenda of the last 8 years in many specific areas. Enforcing the border better, reducing immigration. Slowing down globalism that is affecting fly over country more than the coasts. Forcing the EPA to stop effectively legislating. Conservative justices. Stop pandering to identity politics. Make Europe and NATO pay their share for protection. Stop acting like the US is the UN and create policies that are negotiated with our interests as the first priority.

      “what is your interpretation of why people who hate Trump hate Trump?”

      They seem to be quite open about this. Racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, liar, stupid, fascist. This isn’t cherry picked rhetoric from dubious sources. All you need to do is read the NYT or WP every day. Trump is a target rich environment and deserves much of the criticism. What went wrong here though is the criticism went over the top with name calling and turned into a screeching choir of virtue signalling. There is zero tolerance for Trump support in academia and the media. Trump actually supports several policies liberals can agree with but these are rarely covered or mentioned. It really got out of control when Clinton and the media et. al. started attributing all these characteristics to Trump supporters and assuming malicious intent and moral defects. This is an own goal that they may soon regret.

      “do you believe the things Trump says, and are there things he could say that in your opinion would disqualify him from the presidency?”

      Mostly bloviating. He is playing by a different set of rules than the standard politically correct gotcha journalism standards. Most people I think were already sick to death of this with politicians being so defensive as to make sure they never said anything that could be interpreted as offensive to anyone. The media is like a big swarm of yellow jackets waiting for a misstatement. What disqualifies someone is a voter’s choice. There are not universal standards. I don’t judge him by the standards a liberal would. Trump’s most redeeming characteristic in my view is that he doesn’t give a f*** what the thought police think. That is a refreshing and welcome change. If you can’t see this, then you will never understand Trump support. He has gone too far with this many times, see gold star families.

      “do you think that your life will be better under Trump? what sorts of peoples’ lives do you think would be better under Trump?”

      Yes/no, and I don’t/do think it will get better under HRC as well. I’m just not a big believer in presidential determinism. My life is mostly controlled by….me. To the extent that nibbling around US policy goes, it will marginally change for me either way. The president is one person with limited powers, there are 300 million people in the US who in total make vastly more difference to how things in the US economy work. Zero presidents are responsible for iPhones, Google, Facebook, the computer revolution, etc. Trade protectionism may marginally help the working class in the short term.

      The belief that the current establishment does not care about the working class and lives in their own bubble is pervasive and the establishment has handled this exceedingly poorly. The fact that the voters are willing to vote in the Trump truck bomb and let if off in Washington DC should send a clear message. Message not received yet, time to start listening. People don’t understand it because they are too busy killing the messenger.

      “someone comes back from the future with news of what the Trump presidency was like. what about that news could change your support of Trump?

      I think there is a 99% chance that the answer will be “another run of the mill president with some successes and failures”. The problem with these hypotheticals is one has to play out separate timelines with both HRC and Trump doing different things and then compare. Bad things happen (9/11, Iraq, Syria, Financial crisis) and leaders have to make decisions with incomplete data and the other side gets a vote. A near nuclear war scenario is where crazy Trump might go wrong, but Kennedy played nuclear brinkmanship exactly the way many imagine Trump would. He is less predictable and that can work for you and against you. It has risks.

    • onyomi says:

      Also regarding Kowloon Walled City, the surrounding area under British control hardly had the worst government in the world. Quite the opposite in fact (though the PRC did).

      Reminds me of the strong reaction against “charter cities” which always particularly infuriates me. Because, on some level, politicians know that, given the chance, huge chunks of their population will move anywhere with less government control. Of course they don’t say that. It’s all “neo-colonialism!” “national sovereignty must not be abrogated!…”

    • gbdub says:

      So I saw an article at The Atlantic the other day that said of Trump, “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally”.

      And that seems pretty insightful – I’ve seen a number of times where Trump says something hyperbolic or sarcastic, and the press falls all over itself “fact checking” the literal truth of that statement rather than addressing the underlying thought of the statement. Meanwhile his supporters are eating up the sentiment and not too concerned on the factuality. The most prominent examples I was thinking of offhand were the “Obama/Hillary founded ISIS” statement and recently the Skittles thing (my Facebook feed had people actually doing mathematical analysis on the numbers he used, and outrage over “People are not Skittles!”). The Atlantic article mentions Trump saying that the living conditions in predominantly black communities are “worse than Afghanistan”, another good example.

      Anyway this highlights a frustration I’ve had with some of the coverage – “Demsplaining” the falsity of Trump’s outrageous statements and ignoring why the sentiment is appealing, when the sentiment is the whole damn point. Rationality and fact-checking is not what Trump is trying to appeal to, and anyway his supporters don’t trust the fact-checkers and find them condescending, so it’s counterproductive. If you want to beat him, take the sentiment seriously and dare I say charitably.

      • Matt M says:

        Another phrase I’ve heard used to describe this (not sure where, possibly here) is that “the left brought fact-checkers to a culture war”

        • Deiseach says:

          The left-leaning online media and commentators are gravely explaining (or worse, simply asserting) that Pepe the Frog is a white supremacist neo-Nazi symbol, and has been all along. All I knew about it was that it was a “dank meme” (and damn annoying seeing it popping up everywhere).

          If I am to believe the earnest pro-Clinton supporters, everyone on Tumblr who posted it in some variation was actually signalling their support for the KKK and wishing for the return of Hitler? Which is where I throw my hat at it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Rachel Maddow seemed to put it in appropriate context when she covered it on her show.

            I also saw another written (liberal) take that covered it in more detail, although it perhaps gave to much credence to someone who was specifically claiming that he, as a white supremacist, was specifically trying to take back the Pepe meme from the main stream.

          • keranih says:

            HBC –

            Could you lay out Maddow’s reasoning here, and/or why you find it compelling? I am not following the whole frog = Hitler/KKK thing.

            (Last I checked, frogs = French.)

          • hlynkacg says:

            Know your meme.

            …Though I don’t know where the white nationalist bit comes from besides some guy on twitter.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Maddow’s reasoning was basically that Pepe is innocuous, but that white supremacists have adopted using him, including explicitly saying that they do use him.

            Then when you look at the source of the specific use of Pepe that Trump, Jr. tweeted out, it comes from avowed white supremacists.

            Here is the segment. It’s not a good explainer on Pepe as an overall meme, just why it’s fair to look at HOW white supremacists’s use Pepe.

          • Gazeboist says:

            As far as I can tell, Pepe’s neo-Nazi symbolism starts here. It’s both interesting and horrifying to see a self-described 19-year-old parodying cultural appropriation rhetoric as he describes his (and others’) efforts to deliberately turn Pepe into a white nationalist icon and watch the reporter not get it.

            edit: Is there some other thing besides the Maddow clip that goes through the timing? Where did the clip that she showed come from? When did that Q&A happen?

          • keranih says:

            Yeah, her explaination owes a lot to “you know who ELSE was a vegan?!?!? And loved his dog??!?!?!”

            srsy, wtf? This makes just as much sense as V’s army of anarchists all wearing the same mask and marching in lock step.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Funny thing from my perspective is that Pepe and Brett (aka Dog and Frog) were staples of barracks graffiti back in the mid-late oughts. If this is true, half black guys in my Det. were secretly white supremacists. 😛

      • Aegeus says:

        I’m willing to forgive hyperbole, but at some point I have to say “Then what the hell does he believe?” Is the wall he wants to build a literal wall? Is he planning to literally bomb ISIS? Is he planning to literally pull out of NATO and literally break our trade deals? Is he planning to deport illegal immigrants literally, or is that just a metaphor?

        Trump’s own backtracking has made it worse. Sometimes he says that his statements were “sarcastic” or just “suggestions,” sometimes he doubles down and says “No, I meant what I said.” Sometimes he does one, then the other. How am I supposed to trust anything he says at this point?

        Basically, I think that the media is going after him because Trump has worn out his benefit of the doubt. He’s made so many crazy statements that the media no longer knows what’s serious and what was just hyperbole. Which is kind of a problem when your job description is reporting the facts. So they’ve chosen to draw a line in the sand and say “That’s it, no more hyperbole, we are going to hammer on every little thing you say until you show you have at least a tiny amount of respect for the truth.”

        And in their defense, what else can they do? Their job is to fact-check people and keep them informed, and he’s not giving them any facts to work with, just various forms of “Yay, Trump!” But they can’t do nothing, either – if you just report what a politician says without context, you’re not doing your job, you’re just giving them a megaphone.

        If Trump says “My tax plan will save us a billion dollars” they can say “But according to this analysis, it’ll cost us twice that.” But if Trump says “Conditions for black people are fucking terrible,” that’s not a true-or-false statement You can’t say “But according to this analysis, conditions are merely ‘slightly crappy.'” There’s no way to argue with sentiment. You can argue facts, you can argue what policy actions to take in response to those facts, but you can’t control how someone feels.

        So, even though it’s really annoying in this case, I don’t want to abandon the norm of “Things that politicians say must have some sort of relationship to reality.” That’s an important norm to have.

        EDIT: This Vox article has a pretty good analysis of why the media has such a problem with Trump’s approach: http://www.vox.com/2016/8/16/12484644/media-donald-trump

        • Orphan Wilde says:

          There’s no way to argue with sentiment. You can argue facts, you can argue what policy actions to take in response to those facts, but you can’t control how someone feels.

          I’m vaguely disturbed by this block of text for reasons I am having trouble specifying.

          • Aegeus says:

            Disturbed by what it says about my thought processes, or disturbed by what it says about politics?

            (On reflection, “can’t” is probably too strong a statement, since spin doctoring is a big part of politics, and that is basically “trying to change how someone feels in response to your proposal.” But it’s a lot harder to change a narrative than it is to report facts.)

        • gbdub says:

          I agree (and dislike) that sometimes Trump tries to have it both ways – he was being literal if you like what he said, rhetorical if you don’t – but I also think media outlets have on many occasions been seemingly deliberately obtuse about things in order to bash a more uncharitable interpretation. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

          I feel like if Trump said “Obama is a jackass” we’d immediately get a Politifact article assigning 4 pinnochios to the statement and a 500 word explanation of why Barack Obama is in fact human and not a donkey, or indeed any member of the Equus genus.

        • TomFL says:

          At this point it is the gift that keeps giving. The media has affirmed what many already believed, that they are en masse on one side of this election. If 42% of the electorate is willing to vote for Trump and the media just can’t figure it out, I suggest they start talking to someone else besides themselves to find the answers.

        • Tseeteli says:

          I’m willing to forgive hyperbole, but at some point I have to say “Then what the hell does he believe?” Is the wall he wants to build a literal wall?

          I don’t think he has specific policy beliefs. Instead (in as far as he’s consistent*) he has policy directions.

          The Wall is an image he’s using to convey his preference for increased restrictions on immigration.

          I’m not sure it’s all that different than what politicians do normally. Typically, we see a slogan (“Universal Heathcare”) and then a policy proposal that most people read, or really be able to evaluate (11M+ words of heathcare reform bill).

          I think the typical voter is already voting based on the slogan. The policy proposal itself seems kind of secondary.

          * Trump, specifically, is kind of all over the place. I’m steelmanning his tactics a bit.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Yes and no. The wall is certainly a symbol for his opposition to immigration and hardline stance on illegal immigration. But it’s also an actual wall. Imagine how much government money could go to Trump-affiliated construction companies to build it….

      • TomFL says:

        Sometimes I really wonder if anyone believes all this alleged secret signalling to the Trump base to appeal to their nativism, racism, etc. Having a left pundit explain what Trump “really meant” is almost always laughable. To say they extend zero charity to Trump or his supporters is an understatement. There have been a few articles that have rung true to what I think Trump support is all about, but the media seems remarkably hesitant to point that social science magnifying glass inward.

        This is the one that seems most on point in my opinion:

        Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions
        https://theintercept.com/2016/06/25/brexit-is-only-the-latest-proof-of-the-insularity-and-failure-of-western-establishment-institutions/

      • The Nybbler says:

        In the case of the black communities “Worse than Afghanistan” claim, it’s not so much that you can’t argue with the sentiment, but that arguing with the sentiment (if you’re on the left) leaves you arguing with your own side (in particular, with Black Lives Matter).

      • Fahundo says:

        I think the “Obama founded ISIS” one is a bad example since even Trump’s surrogates didn’t seem to understand what he meant there.

        Demsplaining

        Please don’t.

        • Edward Morgan Blake says:

          Demsplaining

          Please don’t.

          Only if you call out every bad use of the term “mansplain” everywhere. Until then, it has a meaning which is clear, obvious, useful, and hilarious.

          I think we have seen the formation of a new word constructor, similar to putting the suffix “-gate” on things. The suffix “-splain”. It’s doubly fun because it immediately creates its own ironic opposite.

          • Fahundo says:

            Only if you call out every bad use of the term “mansplain” everywhere

            Mansplaining is a term, that as far as I can tell, just means “you have the facts on your side, but I still get to declare that you were wrong anyway.”

            I’m not going to call out every instance of its use everywhere because I can’t possibly be aware of all of them.

            If Demsplaining is anything like mansplaining, using it basically means you automatically lose the argument.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            For whatever it’s worth, I’m pretty sure it was used ironically.

          • Anonymous says:

            Mansplaining is a term, that as far as I can tell, just means “you have the facts on your side, but I still get to declare that you were wrong anyway.”

            It was originally coined to describe something that actual happened. A woman who actually wrote a book on a particular subject was at a cocktail party and some jackass started telling her what was in her book (that he didn’t realize she had written) based on some vaguely remembered New Yorker story. Many other women recounted having similar experiences where men just assumed they didn’t know anything about anything and would enjoy being lectured at by them.

            Now in … certain subculture … this may seem like no big deal because they are filled with this very same type of asshole — the guy that thinks he is an expert on anything and everything and is sure to let you know it at length. And since these certain subcultures are largely male dominated anyway, it doesn’t seem to be a man / woman thing so much as a jerk / non-jerk thing.

            But in at least some sub-cultures, that happened to be gender integrated, it does tend to be a man / woman thing and so the coining captured something that actual exists and is real.

            How it mutated in certain online spaces into a general purpose insult is both unfortunate and entirely to be expected. Online is all to often terrible.

          • lvlln says:

            But in at least some sub-cultures, that happened to be gender integrated, it does tend to be a man / woman thing and so the coining captured something that actual exists and is real.

            The issue is that the above was asserted to be true without any attempts at finding evidence to support it. That there exist some women who have experienced being condescendingly explained something they already know about by a man is obviously true. But the term “mansplain” carries with it much more than that, including the idea that either men do this to women more or worse than women do it to women, or that men do it to women more or worse than women do it to men. And while we might have mountains of personal experiences that swear that this is the case, all those mountains amount to nothing in terms of evidence actually indicating that it is the case.

            So “mansplain” never mutated, it has never been anything other than a bludgeon for shutting people up. That’s not to say that men condescendingly talking down to women isn’t a real problem that exists and should be addressed. It’s just that “mansplain” is clearly attempting to make it specific to just that combination, without justifying the specificity.

          • Anonymous says:

            And while we might have mountains of personal experiences that swear that this is the case, all those mountains amount to nothing in terms of evidence actually indicating that it is the case.

            You may find this essay interesting: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/08/14/beware-isolated-demands-for-rigor/

          • lvlln says:

            You may find this essay interesting: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/08/14/beware-isolated-demands-for-rigor/

            That’s one of my favorites of Scott’s essays! I did indeed find it very interesting. Completely irrelevant for this conversation thread, though, unless you’re trying to make the claim that any given demand for rigor is an isolated demand for rigor. Which strikes me as a fully general argument against ever having to provide any rigor whatsoever.

          • Mansplaining has happened to me, in the fairly specific sense of a man telling me his version of feminism (he’s in favor of it– he think men have messed things up so badly that we should have women in charge for a while) and not listening to anything I said on the subject.

            I don’t use “mansplaining” because it seems to me that it brings in gender issues in a way which isn’t remotely useful, and it’s better to address specific flaws in arguments. I may start addressing habits of just taking up time through redundancy.

            I feel compelled to note that on NPR call-in shows (time is at a premium), it’s typically men who start by laying out their theory of what’s going on (a theory which is in no way unusual) before they get to their point.

          • Anonymous says:

            @lvlln
            Can you point to any other neologism ever whose coiner, or anyone else, produced the type of evidence you are demanding for ‘mansplain’?

          • Jiro says:

            He doesn’t have to show you another neologism that has the same type of evidence, because it is possible that he is consistent in his demands for rigor but all the neologisms are pretty bad, so by using consistent standards he rejects all of them.

            I can’t think of any such neologism that makes any sense; they do seem to be pretty much all bad from where I am sitting.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Edward Morgan Blake
            I think we have seen the formation of a new word constructor, similar to putting the suffix “-gate” on things. The suffix “-splain”.

            Yes, ‘-splain’ as a generic constructor, hopefully serving the need of ‘Tell your grandmother how to suck eggs’.

          • “A woman who actually wrote a book on a particular subject was at a cocktail party and some jackass started telling her what was in her book (that he didn’t realize she had written) ”

            Oddly enough, I was once in the jackass role in a similar interaction.

            But the author whose work I was describing to him was male.

          • Yrro says:

            I think it’s pretty clear that “mansplaining” is a common failure mode for some men’s communication. Most women socialized in our society feel no need to share their “theory of everything” with anyone willing to listen. Many men do.

            What I’m less clear on is that this is a specific failure mode when a man is talking to a woman… in my experience the listener has little to do with it. I get “mansplained” to all the time — I often “mansplain” or am “mansplained” to myself by other men… because there’s a fine line between “mansplaining” and “sharing interesting and novel new insights and knowledge.” Usually the heuristic is “I thought this was novel when I heard it” not “I think you’re ignorant.”

          • The Nybbler says:

            The term “mansplain” isn’t limited to that scenario. It can be applied any time a man is talking to a woman. In particular, it can be applied in a meta way. The woman complains that she’s in a sexist environment because a man (call him “Bob”) condescended to her. Another man, Bill, says that no, Bob condescends to everyone, male or female. Now Bill is guilty of “mansplaining”.

          • Anonymous says:

            @David Friedman

            Oddly enough, I was once in the jackass role in a similar interaction.

            But the author whose work I was describing to him was male.

            @Yrro

            What I’m less clear on is that this is a specific failure mode when a man is talking to a woman… in my experience the listener has little to do with it.

            Suppose for the sake of argument that this is true. That targets are roughly equally likely to be of either gender. Nonetheless if the perpetrators are very disproportionately likely to be men, is “mansplain” an unfair coining?

            Take “manspreading” for example, it doesn’t imply that only women are inconvenienced by someone taking up a lot of room on the subway by spreading out his legs, only that men are overwhelmingly the ones that take up a lot of room on the subway by spreading out their legs. (Yes, I’m aware that there are all sorts of other ways to take up a lot of room on the subway.)

            Also, keep in mind what I said about subculutres:

            Now in … certain subculture … this may seem like no big deal because they are filled with this very same type of asshole — the guy that thinks he is an expert on anything and everything and is sure to let you know it at length.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Jiro
            I can’t think of any such neologism that makes any sense; they do seem to be pretty much all bad from where I am sitting.

            (Proud Clintonista here.*) I think most neologisms are quite useful, at the beginning and, hopefully, at the end of their cycle.

            1. used usefully, for a meaning that needed a name, and with clear definition (definition by example or origin story, eg ‘-splaining’).

            2. stretched, widened

            3. used where they don’t add anything but just signal something, no longer usable for 1 or 2.

            4. hopefully 3 is dropped as unfashionable, and the term becomes useful again, at least as 2.

            * happily using ‘-ista’ as 2.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            The Nybbler –

            I think that is an unusually common instance, really.

            Content Warning: Amateur sociology.

            Some people have a tendency to interpret everything that happens to them as being a result of some characteristic of themselves, as being about them, rather than being about what the speaker wants to say; if somebody talks to them, they’re objects of the speech, rather than recipients of it.

            I think women are particularly prone to this because they grow up being told that guys are “interested in one thing” (and similar lines of being indirectly responsible, based on some internal characteristic, for other people’s behavior), resulting in internalized objectification.

            And when somebody helpfully points out that, no, the speaker does that to everyone, the person pointing this out isn’t rejecting a characteristic of the speaker, the person pointing this out is rejecting the objector’s femininity.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Suppose for the sake of argument that this is true. That targets are roughly equally likely to be of either gender. Nonetheless if the perpetrators are very disproportionately likely to be men, is “mansplain” an unfair coining?

            Not at all, as long as you don’t attach some theory of insidious sexism to the term.

          • Orphan Wilde, I think being angry about being mansplained to has two parts. One is feeling angry about being mistreated, and the other is a hypothesis about being mistreated for being a woman.

            If you just say “it’s not because you’re a woman” and ignore the anger at being mistreated, it’s just possible that the woman will feel that you’re ignoring her reaction.

            Does anyone have advice for dealing with people who have steamrollerish habits when talking?

            I had a conversation go reasonably well when I simply kept interrupting the fellow. He paid good enough attention to what I said, he just wasn’t leaving what I’d call opportunies for me to speak.

            I’m not saying this would work with everyone.

          • Matt M says:

            “Most women socialized in our society feel no need to share their “theory of everything” with anyone willing to listen. Many men do.”

            Why are we automatically assuming that “a method of communication commonly preferred by women” is superior to “a method of communication commonly preferred by men”?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Nancy –

            I think the issue there is that it’s trying to have things both ways. If a man made the same complaint, what do you think the response would be?

            The gender is relevant to both halves of the complaint – I’m being treated differently because I’m a woman, and also take my complaint about being treated differently seriously because I’m a woman. And the “man” element of “mansplain” makes it that much worse – take my complaint extra seriously because the object of my complaint is being male at me.

            The complaint itself is an assertion of social power based on gender. Rejecting that social power is rejecting them as women.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz:

            I’ll confirm that often interrupting an interrupter is the best call. I used to be horrible with interrupting people. I’ve gotten better. My thinking at the time was essentially “anyone can interrupt anyone at any time, and if people aren’t interrupting my interrupting, they must not mind my interrupting.” So I didn’t pay a huge deal of attention to people giving pauses, etc.

            Part of it is upbringing – everybody in my family is like that. It took me a while to figure out that not everybody is used to having a say in the conversation be like treading water, basically.

          • Orphan Wilde, how bad would it be to say, “he’s being a pain in the ass, but he does it to everyone”?

            The piece you may be missing is that women are frequently trained to have fewer resources for shoving back against that sort of dominance.

            I agree that a man who complained about being talked over probably wouldn’t be viewed sympathetically. I *think* that’s a separate problem, and definitely one which should be addressed.

            Deborah Tannen

            “Based on a two-and-a-half hour recording of Thanksgiving dinner conversations with friends, Tannen analyzed the two prevailing conversational styles among the six participants, which she divided evenly between the categories of New Yorker and non-New Yorker.[5] Upon analyzing the recording, Tannen came to the conclusion that the speech of the New Yorkers was characterized by exaggerated intonations (paralinguistics), overlapping speech between two or more speakers, short silences, and machine-gun questions, which she defines as questions that are “uttered quickly, timed to overlap or latch onto another’s talk, and characterized by reduced syntactic form”.[5] The style of the non-New Yorkers was opposite that of the New Yorkers in all regards mentioned above; furthermore, the non-New Yorkers were caught off-guard by the New Yorkers’ exaggerated intonation and interrupting questions, two factors that discouraged them from finishing their conversations at some points.[5] Tannen refers to the New Yorkers’ style as “high-involvement” and the unimposing style of the non-New Yorkers as “high-considerateness”.[5]”

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Nancy Leboviz

            Orphan Wilde, how bad would it be to say, “he’s being a pain in the ass, but he does it to everyone”?

            If you’re a man, that is a pretty good way to get yourself accused of mansplaining. Or occasionally, “minimizing”.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Nancy –

            Most men aren’t trained either, they’re expected to teach themselves, and the social disapproval if you DON’T teach yourself is incredibly immense; it’s less “Men are trained” and more “Men are constantly socially shamed into becoming competent at these things”. If you want women to get the toolset men have, they’re going to have to agree to the rest of the bullshit as well.

            But most women don’t want to agree to the rest of the bullshit; except for us nerdy folk who find it incomprehensible, the system works for most people, male and female alike. The system is quite simple:

            The woman demonstrating her “weakness” and getting a man to do something for her is, in fact, demonstrating her social strength – the man, in turn, is also engaging in social performance, demonstrating his value and grasp of the social rules (either to the woman herself or to other observers), with a slight but not strong implication that he’s close to equivalent social standing to her, if he is permitted to help her.

            ETA:

            Which is to say, wrt “I agree that a man who complained about being talked over probably wouldn’t be viewed sympathetically. I *think* that’s a separate problem, and definitely one which should be addressed.”, it isn’t a separate problem. The lack of sympathy is exactly why men have the toolsets to deal with these situations.

          • Anonymous says:

            Strange how you two (or three) manage to feel so persecuted and the vast majority of men don’t. It is almost like you aren’t describing something that’s at all common.

            I know, it must be false consciousness!

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            The key is to recognize when you’re dealing with an actual conversation steamroller rather than someone who treats conversation as a tennis game.

            The sort of passive-aggressives with poor social skills who ovaryact about mansplaining generally don’t seem to be very good at the kind of conversations where “turns to speak” are handled by interjections (“No shit?” “I kno~w, right? And–“)

            Then there’s Anon, who just butts in to everything in the most obnoxious possible way in order to feel some kind of human contact.

          • Orphan Wilde,

            You’ve got a point about men not being actually trained to the demands of masculinity, but many women are trained *out* of assertiveness.

            At this point, I’m fantacizing about a society where people are actually taught how to do both high-involvement and high-consideration talk.

          • The Nybbler says:

            At this point, I’m fantacizing about a society where people are actually taught how to do both high-involvement and high-consideration talk.

            Aside from the practical matter of teaching people how to do that, there’s the other problem of this whole issue often not being about that. Rather, it’s about the usual thing, power. If you can impose a turn-taking style on others who prefer an interrupting style (and then not let them have a turn, often enough), you have power. Similarly, if you can interrupt when others take turns (and not have them tell you to pipe down), you have power.

          • If people generally have access to both conversational styles, it won’t solve dominance problems, but it will make it easier for people of good will to work things out with each other.

          • gbdub says:

            Yikes, I go away for a bit, and look what I’ve wrought….

            For whatever it’s worth, I’m pretty sure it was used ironically.

            It was. To the extent it was a point, it was basically that the reaction Trumpers have when presented with condescending “fact-checkers” is similar to that of women getting “mansplained” to. Regardless of your feelings on the validity of the complaints, people who feel they are being condescended to generally do not react well.

            Orphan Wilde

            Some people have a tendency to interpret everything that happens to them as being a result of some characteristic of themselves, as being about them, rather than being about what the speaker wants to say;

            I’ve noticed this as well, it seems to have gotten worse in the “you are your identity” era. It makes it very awkward to call out jackasses who happen to belong to a protected class. E.g. my girlfriend was once on a train that happened to be carrying a number of people to a gay rights protest. The protesters were shouting slogans, bouncing around, and generally being rude to the people stuck in an enclosed space with them.

            My girlfriend (who is very pro-gay rights) asked politely if they could be a little quieter on the train, as she had a nasty migraine and didn’t want to barf. Most of the protesters in her vicinity were nice enough to do so, but one got in her face and started shouting that she was a homophobe. No, she’s not a homophobe, just an asshole-phobe, please stop being an asshole.

            Anyway this is a bit off-topic, I do think the underlying behavior criticized by “mansplaining” does happen, but I also think that sometimes were are too quick to look for insult (even in the canonical example, it wasn’t clear why the mansplainer should have known he was talking to the author. Certainly I doubt I’d recognize many of my favorite authors and I could certainly see myself going up to one and inadvertently gushing about their work to them as something they must read.)

          • keranih says:

            FWIW –

            – If I’m in a conversation, and someone’s “mansplaining” – that someone is ME. ‘Cause I do this lots.(*) If I used SJ speak, I’d go on about how I feel erased and denied self-agency by people who gender this style of discourse.

            – A good friend has a paper taped over her desk: “I don’t mean to interrupt, I just remember things randomly and get all excited and want to share!” Which is exactly her.

            – I disagree with Nancy here:

            You’ve got a point about men not being actually trained to the demands of masculinity, but many women are trained *out* of assertiveness.

            They/we are no more trained out of it than men are trained into it – society & biology work to encourage one set of behaviors from one half of the equation and a balancing set from the other half. It doesn’t work perfectly, because Mama Nature is a right bitch like that, and we don’t have to outrun the bear.

            I do think that the most successful people (of both sexes) are aware of their relative aggressiveness in conversation and are constantly their audience’s reaction in order to get the result they want, and that they dial up and down as needs must.

            I think some people struggle to hold their own more than others, and that some people are more controlling and intolerant than others. *shrugs* It does take all types.

            (*) I’m better than I was. Because someone drew it to my attention in a bitchy passive-aggressive way that hurt a lot. Still torn on the question of if I would have noticed it if they’d used a shorter 2×4 to beat me over the head with.

          • Jiro says:

            Proud Clintonista here

            The request for evidence was for evidence of the sex-based connotation of “mansplain”, not for evidence that a single man has explained something in a way that a single other person didn’t like. “Clintonista” doesn’t have any analogous connotation to require evidence for.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            Her response to the text she quoted makes perfect sense to me. You made the the much stronger claim that there are no neologisms that make sense.

      • Jaskologist says:

        On the Trump side of Facebook, I’ve been seeing this making the rounds: Politifact when Bernie Sanders says black unemployment is >50% and Politifact when Trump does.

        From that point on, you can consider any such articles from them about how Trump lies way more neutralized. Those depend on the recipient believing they use the same measure for Trump they would for Hillary, and that goodwill is already burned. Nobody believes fact-checkers are any more objective than the rest of the media.

        • That is a pretty striking case of a double standard.

          Each of them made a statement about the unemployment rate of black youth that was false in terms of the official measure of the unemployment rate. In each case there was a different definition that you could argue was sort of an unemployment rate. In Trump’s case it was the percentage of blacks in the relevant age group who were not employed–which would include ones not looking for work and so not in the official figure for unemployment. In Sanders’ case it was a more complicated definition, one that, among other things, included people working part time or marginally attached to the labor force, what his source referred to as “underemployment.” Both Trump and Sanders referred to their figures as the “unemployment rate.”

          Politifact rated Sanders’ statement as “Mostly True” and Trump’s as “Mostly False.”

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            The worst part was that in several versions they explicitly used Trump’s quote that “5?% of black men are not working“, and used that to claim he was lying about the technical looking-for-work-in-the-last-few-months-but-can’t-find it “unemployment rate”.

          • gbdub says:

            I find Politifact’s long form explanations to be generally good and informative. But their “rating” seems extremely subjective and frankly biased.

            Unfortunately no one ever repeats their explanations, just their bottom line numbers “Trump lies more than Hillary!”

  6. tgb says:

    Re: presidential longevity. What’s the correction for the fact that currently-living presidents were ignored? I’m sure there’s a standard survivorship bias correction to use here.

  7. The Nybbler says:

    This Week in the Culture Wars: Palmer Luckey appears set to replace Brandon Eich in the “hounded out of his own company for having the wrong politics” department.

    http://fusion.net/story/350541/how-palmer-luckey-became-a-trump-supporter/ (etc)

    He apologized and backtracked

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10209141115659366&id=1063830478

    which of course means only that he’s put the scent of blood in the water.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      His girlfriend was also apparently pro-ants, and thus is subject to apparently ongoing harassment. No word if Crash Override has stepped in to help yet.

    • Corey says:

      Brandon Eich

      After taking a shot, I’ll channel my inner bot and explain, again, that job security is evil, so why do we care again? Other than it’s Evil SJWs doing the firing as opposed to the Invisible Hand or typical executive power plays?

      • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

        I’ll channel my inner bot and explain, again, that job security is evil, so why do we care again?

        I mean, this is great if you actually believe it. But if the proposition is “job security, except for the people who don’t conform to the views that X group deems acceptable” (replace X with your favourite outgroup: “SJW”, “Christian Conservatives”, “Spooky Scary Libertarians” , “Radical Muslims”, “Nazi Terrorist Cartoon Frogs”. Your choice, really) then it’s not that great.

        • Corey says:

          *Everyone* believes job security is evil – go try to find a union supporter and you’ll see what I mean.

          Generally, we’re all supposed to be OK with jobs that can evaporate at any time for any reason or no reason, because it makes the pie higher or whatever.

          Eich’s making less money. So is everyone (in the USA) who built cars (or anything else) in the 80s. Or who owned a small retail establishment. Or who went to law school in the last 10 years, yadda yadda yadda.

          TVs are nice and cheap, and most people with hourly jobs have no idea when or how much they will work in 2 weeks, assuming they still have the job. Yay Pareto!

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            *Everyone* believes job security is evil – go try to find a union supporter and you’ll see what I mean.

            Who is everyone here? Trumpers don’t, Bernouts don’t, Hillary Clinton doesn’t (explicitly), nor do people in the tenure track… We might reap the benefits of job mobility and liberalism, but nobody but the most tarian of libertarians will explicity attack job security except selectively (republicans => teachers’ unions, democrats => police unions, or whatever).

          • Jiro says:

            Eich’s making less money. So is everyone (in the USA) who built cars (or anything else) in the 80s.

            I’m pretty sure if people were being fired for being BLM supporters or other currently fashionable left-wing causes, “well, people who built cars are making less money too” would fall on deaf ears.

          • brad says:

            I don’t think there is anyone in US politics trying to put in place European style non-at-will employment. Not Bernie Sanders, not Elizabeth Warren, not Donald Trump, not Paul Ryan.

            So rather than saying that most people only attack job security for limited situations, I’d flip that around and say most people only support job security for limited situations.

            In terms specifically of the left wing, you can bet that if any of these people who were fired for their tweets were represented by unions they wouldn’t have been fired. The collective bargaining agreements would never have permitted them to be. And left wingers in general think we should have more people represented by unions.

            Although neither one is going to happen, more widespread union representation leading to more job security is less unrealistic than the sudden adoption broad informal norm that seems to be what the conservatives on SSC think is the proper solution.

          • birdboy2000 says:

            I’m a union supporter, hard-left, and appalled by this stuff (and fanatically pro-ant) for that very reason.

            Politically motivated employment blacklists are a great way to stop political change, and have a long history of being used especially to stop change of the radical variety – so this kind of thing horrifies me even though I don’t care a whit for Lucroy’s own views.

          • Corey says:

            Upon further consideration, I realize I’m probably just falling prey to outgroup homogeneity bias. AFAIK the free-market fundies and the people appalled that someone’s livelihood was attacked are not the same people. (They might be, but I haven’t checked and have no reason to assume they are).

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            It’s not even outgroup homogeneity bias; the real problem is that “giving everyone job security would be bad for the economy” and “ideological blacklisting is bad for free speech” aren’t at all contradictory.

          • “Generally, we’re all supposed to be OK with jobs that can evaporate at any time for any reason or no reason, because it makes the pie higher or whatever.”

            The view you are parodying–possibly because you don’t understand it–is not that all employment should be at will but that freedom of contract ought to apply to contract law. That makes possible employment at will, job security except for cause, lifetime employment (subject to employer bankruptcy), and lots of other alternatives.

            The underlying argument is that what terms the employer will offer depends on costs and benefits to him of the alternatives, what terms the employee will accept depends on costs and benefits to him, which gives them a joint interest in finding the terms that maximize summed benefit and then haggling over how it is divided.

          • “but nobody but the most tarian of libertarians will explicity attack job security”

            Speaking as the most tarian of libertarians, you don’t understand the position. There is nothing wrong with job security as a term in an employment contract. What is wrong is forbidding contracts that do not provide it.

            There may be a further problem when the contract is made by agents not adequately under the control of the principals they are binding, as in the case of tenure for government employees.

          • Corey says:

            The view you are parodying–possibly because you don’t understand it–is not that all employment should be at will but that freedom of contract ought to apply to contract law. That makes possible employment at will, job security except for cause, lifetime employment (subject to employer bankruptcy), and lots of other alternatives.

            In the absence of a UBI or a really strong safety net, how does this reach any equilibrium other than 100% employment at will?

          • “In the absence of a UBI or a really strong safety net, how does this reach any equilibrium other than 100% employment at will?”

            How is it that anyone is paid more than the minimum wage? Isn’t that really the same question–and evidence of how far from reality your picture of economics is?

            My employer is considering offering employees $12/hour and employment at will. He somehow discovers that he could get just as many people of the same quality if he offered $11/hour and termination only for cause as confirmed by an arbitrator chosen by a method specified in the employment contract or $10/hour and he can only fire an employee with a year’s notice. He works out which of those terms is best for him and makes his offers accordingly.

            In some contexts that’s a matter of individual bargaining, in others of what employers find does best for them with standardized offers.

            Is it your assumption that the ability to fire an employee at will is always worth more to the employer than it costs the employee?

            Alternatively, is your assumption that the alternative to accepting an offer from one employer is starvation? If so, why does anyone get paid more than the minimum wage?

          • Shieldfoss says:

            @Corey:

            In the absence of a UBI or a really strong safety net, how does this reach any equilibrium other than 100% employment at will?

            I live in a Scandinavian welfare state – if I get fired, I will get a serious payout from the state, for years if necessary – until I find a new job.

            AND YET: One of the points of contention when I took my current job was exactly that: Job security. From the day I was hired, I could truthfully state that I cannot be fired – even for cause – with any less than three months warning. They can send me home if they don’t want me working after they tell me I’m getting fired, but then I effectively just get a three month paid vacation.

            I guarantee you that this is not common, and significantly better than what the law requires (because the law assumes I don’t need that security because I can go on a state payment instead if I lose my job)

            So even with a strong safety net, you still don’t get to 100% employment at will.

            In fact, calls for a higher minimum wage and contracts that are hard to terminate seem significantly more common in countries without adequate safety nets, presumably on the theory that if the state doesn’t take care of the poor, you should instead force that on any corporation that accidentally ever hires them.

          • Corey says:

            Is it your assumption that the ability to fire an employee at will is always worth more to the employer than it costs the employee?

            Alternatively, is your assumption that the alternative to accepting an offer from one employer is starvation? If so, why does anyone get paid more than the minimum wage?

            Yes, usually, and because nobody trains.

            Is it your assumption that employers and employees bring equal power to the bargaining table? That’s a common libertarian failure mode.

          • Corey says:

            (because the law assumes I don’t need that security because I can go on a state payment instead if I lose my job)

            Good point; with a strong safety net, low job security isn’t as much of a problem.

          • Edward Morgan Blake says:

            From the day I was hired, I could truthfully state that I cannot be fired – even for cause – with any less than three months warning. They can send me home if they don’t want me working after they tell me I’m getting fired, but then I effectively just get a three month paid vacation.

            I just spent the past 15 months firing someone. He was a lier, I’m pretty sure he was an embezzler, and his technical sabotage to the project was constrained only by his laziness. Having my time consumed by this distraction, and the budget consumed by his overly generous salary that he locked in before I was brought in to PM this particular project has put the entire project at risk, and if thus fails I will have to lay off half a dozen good people who have been working very hard for the past year and a half.

            My opinion of people who think that “can’t be fired” employment agreements should be mandatory or even just standard is… low. Very very very low.

          • mnov says:

            @Corey

            Is it your assumption that employers and employees bring equal power to the bargaining table? That’s a common libertarian failure mode.

            What does ‘power’ mean in this context?

          • Corey says:

            because nobody trains

            In retrospect I was trying to say “labor supply is finite”.

          • Corey says:

            What does ‘power’ mean in this context?

            Have one fewer employee than you’d like? Unless your business is very small, this is a minor annoyance.

            Have one fewer job than you’d like? Discarded pizza boxes are an excellent source of cheese.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            What does ‘power’ mean in this context?

            From “The Non-Libertarian FAQ”:

            It is frequently proposed that workers and bosses are equal negotiating partners bargaining on equal terms, and only the excessive government intervention on the side of labor that makes the negotiating table unfair. After all, both need something from one another: the worker needs money, the boss labor. Both can end the deal if they don’t like the terms: the boss can fire the worker, or the worker can quit the boss. Both have other choices: the boss can choose a different employee, the worker can work for a different company. And yet, strange to behold, having proven the fundamental equality of workers and bosses, we find that everyone keeps acting as if bosses have the better end of the deal.

            During interviews, the prospective employee is often nervous; the boss rarely is. The boss can ask all sorts of things like that the prospective pay for her own background check, or pee in a cup so the boss can test the urine for drugs; the prospective employee would think twice before daring make even so reasonable a request as a cup of coffee. Once the employee is hired, the boss may ask on a moment’s notice that she work a half hour longer or else she’s fired, and she may not dare to even complain. On the other hand, if she were to so much as ask to be allowed to start work thirty minutes later to get more sleep or else she’ll quit, she might well be laughed out of the company. A boss may, and very often does, yell at an employee who has made a minor mistake, telling her how stupid and worthless she is, but rarely could an employee get away with even politely mentioning the mistake of a boss, even if it is many times as unforgivable.

            The naive economist who truly believes in the equal bargaining position of labor and capital would find all of these things very puzzling.

            Let’s focus on the last issue; a boss berating an employee, versus an employee berating a boss. Maybe the boss has one hundred employees. Each of these employees only has one job. If the boss decides she dislikes an employee, she can drive her to quit and still be 99% as productive while she looks for a replacement; once the replacement is found, the company will go on exactly as smoothly as before.

            But if the employee’s actions drive the boss to fire her, then she must be completely unemployed until such time as she finds a new job, suffering a long period of 0% productivity. Her new job may require a completely different life routine, including working different hours, learning different skills, or moving to an entirely new city. And because people often get promoted based on seniority, she probably won’t be as well paid or have as many opportunities as she did at her old company. And of course, there’s always the chance she won’t find another job at all, or will only find one in a much less tolerable field like fast food.

            We previously proposed a symmetry between a boss firing a worker and a worker quitting a boss, but actually they could not be more different. For a boss to fire a worker is at most a minor inconvenience; for a worker to lose a job is a disaster. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale, a measure of the comparative stress level of different life events, puts being fired at 47 units, worse than the death of a close friend and nearly as bad as a jail term. Tellingly, “firing one of your employees” failed to make the scale.

            This fundamental asymmetry gives capital the power to create more asymmetries in its favor. For example, bosses retain a level of control on workers even after they quit, because a worker may very well need a letter of reference from a previous boss to get a good job at a new company. On the other hand, a prospective employee who asked her prospective boss to produce letters of recommendation from her previous workers would be politely shown the door; we find even the image funny.

          • Jiro says:

            That essay of Scott’s contains a lot of nonsense.

            Nobody would try to get a letter of recommendation from an employee before going to another employer, because the number of employers is relatively small compared to the number of employees so
            1) More direct ways of getting information are much more useful.
            2) Since an employer interacts with many employees, a recommendation from an employee tells you about a much smaller percentage of that employer’s behavior than a recommendation from an employer tells you about an employee’s behavior.

          • People familiar with the non-libertarian faq might find my responses of interest.

          • Shieldfoss says:

            @Edward Morgan Blake

            15 months? Man that is harsh. By law or by contract? Or were company politics part of the reason?

            I negotiated for my three months because that’s what I had at my previous position and I did not want to give them up in case the new job fell through. Like I told my new employer – those three months mean a lot to me, and they’re free to you unless you plan on firing me.

          • John Schilling says:

            Have one fewer job than you’d like? Discarded pizza boxes are an excellent source of cheese.

            Again, I note the implicit assumption that everyone should aspire to have exactly one job. Per career, apparently.

          • Corey says:

            @John: One _simultaneous_ job.

          • Tibor says:

            I think this also depends a lot on what field you are in and what your qualifications are. A friend of mine is a designer (well, technically he is a modeler but whatever) and a very good one. A few months ago he decided to quit his job in Technicon Design in München and look for a better offer (or possibly the same if they offered enough money). His interview process in Audi looked something like this:
            Audi: “Ok, Mr. so and so, we can give you a draft of the contract next week.”
            My friend: “Well, that’s too bad because I already have another offer and I have to decide till the end of this week.”
            Audi: ” We’ll see what can be done, but it will definitely take a few days”

            He had the draft of the contract in his mailbox on the same day in the afternoon.

            At the end he did not take the job because the other company (a new Chinese company with facilities in München that wants to build electro cars, I forgot the name) offered a better deal. He came back to the Audi people if they could top that, they said that unfortunately, they have a union at Audi and the union made a deal with the company under which the wages are based on maximum education and years of practice and don’t give much room for individual changes (20% or so at most). The guy told him to come work for Audi once he has enough experience and is bored by working for the Chinese. His old boss also tried to keep him in the company but he could only offer him about 1000 EUR a month less than the Chinese.

            So in his case, it is actually the employers who are worried about the employee leaving. Also, he was not the only one from their office who moved to the Chinese. They took the best people and that can be pretty bad for the employer in the short term as well, just as it is not to have a job.

            Now, my friend might be and exception, after all, when people talk about job security they usually don’t mean job security of high-pay professionals. But I think that is not all that different otherwise. One aspect of a job is the salary. All else being held the same the higher salary the better, of course. But all else is not held the same and so people sometimes have to make a choice between a nice environment where the boss won’t yell at them and where they won’t be required to stay late at work but where the salary is also lower and one where it is the other way around. Some people prefer the higher salary and some the nicer working conditions. Of course, in reality it is a bit more complicated since it is not clear whether hostile working conditions are really a good thing for your company’s productivity.

          • Tibor says:

            The problem with “job security” is that it is a job security for people who already have a job. Spain has an enormous amount of “job security”. It is even harder to fire people than in Scandinavia (or anywhere else I think) and when you actually do fire people, you have to pay them a lot of money in compensations (depending on how long they’ve been working for you). The result is that a horrible unemployment rate – about 23% for the general (working age) population and about 43% for people under 25. This makes sense, under these terms companies are very reluctant to hire anyone at all and when they do they prefer people with a history, not someone who’s never done a job and might be a horrible employee who is hard to get rid of. These unemployment rates are not as horrible as they may seem, since many people in Spain work without a contract instead. But the result is that a country with extremely high “job security” ends up with employment without contracts. This is a really bad deal for the employees. Under a more liberal labour laws, they would get a contract which would not give them as much job security as that which is prescribed by the Spanish laws, but still a much better deal than this. Since the employer is not allowed to offer such a contract, he can only offer illegal work instead (or at best limited time contracts but there might be some legal limitations to how many of those you can have in a row at the same employer, I am not 100% sure about that). One could object to that, saying that it is “just” necessary to make sure illegal work gets prosecuted. The companies need the employees after all, so let’s force them to hire them on the terms set by the governments. Setting aside the fact that this is much easier said than done (and it costs money to do so), if such an initiative were successful, it would very likely result in many companies closing down, as they could not afford the extra costs, driving the unemployment rate even higher.

            At the end of the day, not even the lucky people who do have a contract and have had it for some time are that much better off. They know that if they quit their job now, they won’t have a chance to get a long-term contract (at least until the situation in Spain improves a lot, economically, and that might take some time), so they are stuck in their job since it is the best alternative but it would not necessarily be one if the Spanish labour laws were not so restrictive. France has similar problems (and laws) and Greece is a complete tragedy, unfortunately not just its labour laws. The worst thing is that many people in those countries actually protest against making the labour laws more liberal, blocking a way to an improvement, a decrease of the unemployment rate and ironically, greater de facto if not de jure job security.

          • CatCube says:

            @Shieldfoss

            …they’re free to you unless you plan on firing me.

            Presumably your employer knew you pretty well before making that deal. If it turned out you were incompetent (or, God forbid, outright criminal) that three months could have turned out to be one of the most expensive promises they’ve ever made.

          • Matt M says:

            “Now, my friend might be and exception, after all, when people talk about job security they usually don’t mean job security of high-pay professionals. But I think that is not all that different otherwise.”

            I just graduated from business school. Many of my classmates had job offers from three or more top companies. They had plenty of power to tell Google, “Here’s what Amazon is offering me, match it or I walk.” This actually worked fairly often, because the recruiting process is long and expensive and HR people don’t understand the sunk cost fallacy nearly as well as finance majors do. By the time they give you a job offer, it’s because they really do want you and you have some power.

            And sure, you can say that’s the exception rather than the rule and historically/statistically you’re probably right.

            But the point is that it’s simply not true that employers always have power relative to employees. Highly skilled highly in-demand employees sometimes have the power instead. If you’re upset that your employer has too much power over you, I dunno, go get some better skills?

          • The whole “power over you” argument doesn’t work. Given whatever advantages the employer may have, he will use them to get the best terms for himself at which he can hire the employee he wants. If job security costs him the equivalent of one dollar an hour and is worth the equivalent of two dollars an hour to the prospective employee, it is in the selfish interest of the employer to offer job security–and a lower wage.

            That’s the point nobody arguing the other side seems to understand, let alone rebut. Their argument only works if there is a legal limit to how low a wage can be offered and the employer is already at that limit.

            For the high end skilled employee, the logic of this is likely to work itself out through bargaining. For lower end employees it may well be in standard employment terms.

            But either way, it pays the employer to find the combination of wage and employment terms that maximizes the summed benefit to the two and then use any advantage he has to get as much as possible of that benefit for himself.

          • John Schilling says:

            @Corey: Yes, I got that you think everybody does or should want to have exactly one simultaneous job. I would like to hold this belief up to the mockery it deserves.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            If you’re upset that your employer has too much power over you, I dunno, go get some better skills?

            Yes, because it’s not like intelligence and conscientiousness are fixed or anything.

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            Most of the time , and for most people, employment is a buyer’s market, and that’s where the asymmetric power of employers comes form.

            Nobody would try to get a letter of recommendation from an employee before going to another employer, because the number of employers is relatively small compared to the number of employees

            There’s actually a website for that. It’s called glassdoor.

          • Tibor says:

            I wish people in this subthread responded more to serious arguments such as those made by Scott and David and less to one-off remarks like most other commenters seem to do. I find David’s response the most convincing (surprise surprise, I guess) but I would like to see someone cleverly address those arguments. It works better if you challenge an argument you disagree with, otherwise you risk that you end up prematurely convincing yourself there are no good counterarguments.

            I agree that the argument about “get yourself some better skills” is not very good. Not everyone is capable of being a high level professional and my argument only really works well for those. David’s is a more universal one.

          • Alex says:

            Their argument only works if there is a legal limit to how low a wage can be offered and the employer is already at that limit.

            But this is an accurate model of reality for low-requirement jobs in developed countries?!

          • Corey says:

            @Corey: Yes, I got that you think everybody does or should want to have exactly one simultaneous job. I would like to hold this belief up to the mockery it deserves.

            Nobody else has stepped up, and I don’t see what’s inaccurate about it, so what’s the problem?

          • Matt M says:

            “I agree that the argument about “get yourself some better skills” is not very good. Not everyone is capable of being a high level professional and my argument only really works well for those. ”

            For a given individual, no, it’s not incredibly realistic (especially if you’re over the age of 30).

            My point was only to establish that the difference in bargaining power is not automatically inherent to the employer/employee relationship. Rather, it comes about as a result of simple supply and demand for various skills. If your skills are easily supplied and demand for them is low, your bargaining power will be low. That is not a flaw of capitalism, that is capitalism working as intended in order to motivate people to get better (i.e. more highly demanded i.e. more socially valued) skills.

            We should celebrate, not bemoan, the fact that society provides significant motivation for people to work in the most socially beneficial fields.

          • Matt M says:

            And honestly, even at the individual level, I feel like “get yourself some better skills,” while difficult, is still probably the best possible advice you can give to someone.

            It certainly seems more likely to result in better outcomes sooner than “support a certain group of politicians and hope they get elected and then hope that they pass some new laws and regulations that will somehow force companies to hire you”

          • Loyle says:

            @Corey

            If you wouldn’t mind a personal opinion with no weight to it…

            A person should aspire to have a single job insofar as they are willing to put up with the bullshit.

            If you want to move out of your parents’ place and into an apartment with no roommates, wanting a single part-time job is being a little greedy. I’d say a single full-time job or two part-time jobs is more or less sane if you desire that scenario. But in addition to that it’s perfectly reasonable for a person to desire as many jobs in excess to their needs insofar it isn’t detrimental to their health.

          • Corey says:

            @Matt: Skilling up is all well and good for individuals, pointless for populations. Also fraught with different problems (ask someone who went into law).

            @Loyle: I’m still not quite getting it. Are you saying most people “should” live on less than one full-time-equivalent job? Or are you saying most should juggle multiples? How achievable is holding multiple jobs in an age of just-in-time scheduling? Or should most people freelance?

          • Lumifer says:

            For a given individual, no, it’s not incredibly realistic (especially if you’re over the age of 30).

            Um, why?

            We’re not talking about changing one’s IQ or personality or something like this. Skills are learnable and it’s not like you lose the ability to learn new things once you’re past 30.

            There are dumb people who are unable to do tasks more complex than digging ditches or serving fries, but the problem with them is not that they can’t learn new skills, the problem is that they can’t learn *any* skills.

          • Loyle says:

            @Corey

            I’m not saying “most” people “should” do anything. I’m saying a person “can” decide to work as many jobs as they please. With the caveat they should be able to handle them.

            I personally think that a full-time job , due to the investment a person needs to put into it, should meet, at least, the requirements of self-sufficiency. And I personally think that a single part-time should meet, at least, the requirements of sufficiency, but with a little help. If you manage more than that, great for you.

            As an aside: I work from ~3am – ~8am, and I’m almost certain to be home by 10am except for the weirdest of circumstances. I could probably find a second job that’s compatible with that schedule. I’d rather not have my job(s) be my identity, though. So I put up with less than the American Ideal™ of living conditions, and I don’t think that’s a problem. I also don’t think it’s a problem if someone wished to work multiple jobs to get closer to that ideal, or even if they were already living that ideal but wanted a bit extra for “reasons”

          • “But this is an accurate model of reality for low-requirement jobs in developed countries?!”

            In the U.S. at present, about four million workers have wages at or below the federal minimum, the latter being presumably people to whom the minimum wage, for one reason or another, did not apply. That’s roughly four percent of all hourly paid workers, so about two percent of the labor force.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Aren’t most of those with less than minimum wait staff in restaurants, whose actual take home is far higher? How are you coming up with that number?

          • “How did you come up with that number?”

            I googled it. Here.

  8. nelshoy says:

    What’s the general opinion here on sending signals to space? I’m interested to know what a more x-risk-minded commentariat thinks.

    Should we be trying to contact alien civilizations? Do we have reason to think it would lead to negative consequences like Stephen Hawking fears?

    It came up on reddit and most people thought it was totally unreasonable and that they would have no motive for hurting us, that the idea of them plundering our resources and making us their slaves was anthropomorphizing (I agree).

    But I wrote:

    Here’s a plausible motive for harming humans that actually makes sense for a type I/type II civilization. We could be a threat. If technology advances quickly from intelligent civilizations like ours, it might be a blink of an eye in cosmic terms before we are a superintelligent AI-led, space colonizing species with the potential to do harm.

    If you look at the history of warfare, it becomes clear that the power of offensive technologies (swords to guns to nukes) outpaces the speed at which we can defend against them (armor worked better than bullet-proof vests which worked better than expensive missile defense systems that would probably fail). We probably don’t have to be anywhere near their full power level to pose a threat, in the same way a tiny terrorist cell with a nuke poses a risk to the US. What if they listen to radio signals and nip the problem in the bud? It would help explain why we don’t see a bunch of other signals.

    • Sandy says:

      It seems to me that any alien civilization capable of traversing space and reaching Earth would necessarily have to be far more advanced than we are, so we’d just be precocious monkeys to them. And we put precocious monkeys in zoos and labs.

      But I have no framework by which I can understand an alien civilization’s priorities.

      • nelshoy says:

        They pick up radiosignals of Hitler or whatever and see a primitive intelligent species that is currently no threat to them. But if the timescale from Hitler to actually-powerful-enough to threaten them is only a few hundred years, then maybe they just come over and pre-empt that threat, whether that means exterminating life or putting us in zoos.

        It’s all moot since we’ve already sent out signals, but I was more interested in “was this a good idea” and “should we send out stronger signals that go further?”

        • Gazeboist says:

          At a couple of centuries, “pre-empt the threat” probably means “have a nice chat and set up some ’embassies’ to export goods they like”. That’s US/Japan timescale, not human/chimp timescale.

        • K says:

          They could see us as precocious monkeys on the brink of reaching the AI singularity – in themselves no threat, but giving rise to a new civilization which could out-compete, and if hostile, eradicate them.

          At which point, some of them might start adding “ceterum censeo” to their political speeches. Better safe than sorry.

    • pku says:

      The probability that aliens would want to destroy us, given that we send signals their way, is probably low. The probability that aliens would want to destroy us given that they respond at all, in a way that we notice, to signals we send their way is uncomfortably high (they could either respond hostilely or helpfully, and neither seems much more likely than the other. If they respond hostilely, they could probably destroy us – so at least a 30% chance of getting destroyed in this scenario). If they don’t respond, we get nothing – so the expected value of sending signals into space is negative.

      • Gazeboist says:

        neither seems much more likely than the other

        This statement is doing a lot of work, and doesn’t have much justification. You’re also assuming that the ability to destroy humanity is guaranteed to be used by a hostile actor, as opposed to a conquest or indirect exploitation arrangement.

    • pku says:

      Related: Assume we come up with interstellar travel in the next few hundred years, and then get an alien radio signal implying they’re probably at the technology level we are now. Should we go over and destroy them?

      • nelshoy says:

        I don’t think we do. We’re too curious and we’d still be relatively unadvanced compared to a civilization that’s been exploring the galaxy for millions of years.

        My scenario only makes sense if you assume:

        1. Stars are scarce- different civilizations compete for them and they’re aren’t enough to go around, we value our own civilization having the stars more than others.

        2. Type II civilization is expansive enough to have already ran into contact with other civs. It knows that new ones will quickly gain enough power to be a threat, and is therefore forced to respect their territory by virtue of mutually assured destruction.

        This of course assumes that there are intelligent civilizations colonizing the stars out there, but that is kind of assumed when you start sending signals in the first place.

    • Yrro says:

      It seems pretty obvious to me that *whatever* their actions are toward us, *we* will have almost no control of them. That seems like a pretty high risk in and of itself.

    • An important issue here is that our broadcasts which have had time to travel a sizable distance are really diffuse. It would take an extremely large antenna (or more likely, array) to pick up I Love Lucy. If you have a Dyson Sphere, that’s easy, but if you’re planet-bound not so much.

      So the real question is who would be hearing such broadcasts, and how that would affect their reactions.

      • nelshoy says:

        That means the question of “Should we make extremely powerful space broadcasts in the hopes of attracting alien attention?” is still an open question.

    • AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

      If the utilitarian singulatarians final conclusions are correct, there is no such thing as aliens.

      Just utility spaces, some thought devices, and the objects that pleasurable data controls to spread and ensure its existence.

      But there is no need to be afraid of sending signals to space, for many reasons.

    • Brandon Berg says:

      Interstellar war seems implausible for the simple reason that the percentage of planets populated by intelligent life is, as far as we can tell, very, very low. Even assuming FTL travel is possible, why go to the trouble of conquering the one planet in a thousand-light-year radius that has intelligent life when there are uninhabited planets available for resource extraction all over the place, and much closer?

      • moridinamael says:

        What trouble? von Neumann warships are practically free.

        • Fctho1e says:

          They are spam. And if allowed to be intelligent and mutate basically very dangerous form of spam.

          • moridinamael says:

            Fair enough. Forget the self-replicating angle, then. Shouldn’t any Type II civilization or higher just be able to send a carefully aimed, mostly-invisible relativistic mass to snuff out any nascent planetary civs?

            We are practically speaking already capable of this. If we discovered Klingons with early rocket tech orbiting Proxima Centauri, we wouldn’t have to “fight” them at all.

          • John Schilling says:

            We are practically speaking already capable of this

            That is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. I suppose you could stretch “practically” and “capable” to include things like Orion-drive battleships or Starwisp probes, but the former is a couple orders of magnitude shy of relativistic and the latter sufficiently wispy that a direct hit on an Earthlike planet just makes a pretty aurora.

          • moridinamael says:

            @John Schilling

            Your challenge prompted me to play with the rocket equation and realize I’m entirely full of shit.

    • Thomas Jørgensen says:

      Anyone inclined and able to kill us already would have, so risk free. If we were in the neighbourhood of anyone genocidal, we’d not be transmitting.

      There are trivial ways to check planets for life across interstellar distances Gravity lens telescopes using your own star should get amazing resolution, and the same trick lets you eavesdrop on.. well, a heck of a lot of what we do with radio, so they already know we are here. .. or will when the radio waves hit them.

    • John Schilling says:

      If the hypothetical advanced alien civilization A: exists, B: is within a hundred light-years of us, and C: has the vaguest notion that other civilizations might be worth paying attention to, then they tasked some grad student with putting observation platforms in all the interesting solar systems back when our ancestors were tree shrews with delusions of grandeur, and they’ve know all about us since our first campfire. I think our odds are better if they know that humans exist and are open and friendly, rather than knowing we exist and are paranoid and secretive.

      If any of A, B, or C are false, then sending signals is a harmless waste of effort.

    • Aegeus says:

      My take on it is that space is too big for interstellar warfare to be practical. Unless you break the lightspeed barrier, it’ll take hundreds or thousands of years for our signal to reach an alien, and hundreds or thousands of years for the alien invasion fleet to reach us. It’s not really practical to wage war with a command lag of 200 years. And also, since space is so big, it’s very unlikely that we’ll have anything to fight over. There are more than enough stars in the sky for everyone, unless you’re absolutely obsessive about colonization and you have really far-thinking foreign policy.

      Your argument makes sense if the aliens are powerful enough that they just spam out colony fleets everywhere, so they expect that we’ll do the same, and eventually our ever-expanding spheres of territory will come into conflict. But first, if there was an ever-expanding sphere of alien colonies, we’d probably be able to see it, and second, if they’re a galaxy-spanning colonial power, they’re going to invade us whether we signal them or not. And if they aren’t a galaxy-spanning colonial power and don’t plan on becoming one, why are they afraid of us doing the same, so afraid that they’re willing to commit genocide to stop it?

      So why not send out a signal? Most likely scenario: Nobody hears it. Second most likely: Some alien astronomer hears it, but he can’t get the budget for an invasion fleet so he just writes it up in the paper instead. This is basically a win – we get into the alien history books, and nobody invades us. Third most likely: The aliens are already on the ever-expanding spherical colonial warpath, and the signal doesn’t make a difference either way.

      The range of civilizations who will invade or destroy us if and only if they receive a signal indicating intelligent life is a pretty small range, I think.

      • AnonEmous says:

        D) they hear our signal, decide to send over an expeditionary fleet. Expeditionary fleet learns we’re crazy and decides to open ire. You really haven’t eliminated that possibility at all -whag if they just happen to be pretty nearby? And by the way, what if they can FTL right to us?

        • John Schilling says:

          E) they don’t hear our signal, decide to send over an expeditionary fleet. Expeditionary fleet is predisposed to believe we are crazy because any neighbor that doesn’t say “hello” within some reasonable time after moving into the neighborhood is Probably Up To No Good. You really haven’t eliminated that possibility either.

          From a game-theoretic standpoint, I tend to consider “Kill anyone who doesn’t preemptively offer friendship” to be a vastly more likely strategy than “Kill anyone who does preemptively offer friendship, and ignore the rest”.

        • Aegeus says:

          Like I said, “unless you break the lightspeed barrier.” But as far as we know, FTL is impossible, and if it is possible, you can time travel. Which means we probably have bigger problems than an invasion fleet.

          The closer you require the aliens to be, the lower the odds that there are any aliens within that distance. And the greater the odds that we would have found them already.

          In the case of the expeditionary fleet, what makes them decide to open fire? Not the initial signal, that just made them want to investigate. It was something else that made them decide we’re crazy and need to be destroyed, in which case the solution is to not sound crazy when we’re talking to the expeditionary fleet.

          And my reasons that they wouldn’t see a need to destroy us apply just as much to the expeditionary fleet as they do to the aliens. Space is big, and unless one or both of us are on the ever-expanding colonial warpath, there’s no good reason to go to war. So the odds that they will think we’re so dangerous that genocide is the only solution are low.

          (Also, if the alien diplomatic expedition habitually carries doomsday weapons around with them and can use them freely, I think that falls under “aliens are already on the warpath.”)

    • bean says:

      Doubtful. Interstellar war is really, really hard, and we’d have to develop much, much faster than they do for us to ever be a threat if they have the capability of taking us out now. That’s unlikely, although I’m reminded of a story of, IIRC, Asimov’s that centered around the premise that sexual reproduction was uncommon and meant we developed much faster.
      I can’t see a motive for them to go after us in an existential way, except for ones that we might classify as religious. By that I mean ‘do this, even though it doesn’t make logical sense’. Classify that as you will. In terms of resources, you can get all you need either from uninhabited places (most of which have shallower gravity wells) or from trade. The equivalent of a few handfuls of beads will buy a lot of cows (or whatever it is they want.) The only possible exception is if they want all the cows, which would make a good silly story, but no more.

      • Lumifer says:

        Well, there is, of course, the canonical

        As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system

    • Maware says:

      Go nuts, by the time they’d reach any alien race humanity would probably be extinct. You need a large amount of magic and belief to even assume they exist, let alone that they have this magic ability to defy universal constants and respond to us.

  9. Scott Alexander says:

    Posting down here where it’s hard to find, out of shame that I still don’t understand this.

    A lot of people complain about studies with low sample size and say we should ignore the results. But suppose these studies use p-values and get (with their low sample size) p = 0.01. And suppose another study with a gigantic sample size also gets p = 0.01. Pushing to the side concerns about whether small studies are easier to put in the file drawer if they’re negative, do these two studies provide exactly the same amount of evidence for their hypothesis? If so, why are people so against low sample size studies?

    • MawBTS says:

      I have no statistics training but don’t p-values only capture variation induced by chance, and not any of the other ways a study can go wrong (errors, accidents, selection effects, etc), which are presumably more of an issue with small sample sizes?

    • keranih says:

      No, they don’t provide the same weight. Meta reviews weigh results by sample size (and other factors, ideally identified before selecting studies to include in the meta review.)

      (And p’s not really what I would look at, but instead the confidence interval/ratio. But that’s a theological debate and is sideways of sample size.)

      And it’s not that low n studies can’t be accurate, it’s that small n study results are subject to lots of errors that would be mitigated by larger sample sizes.

      Studies with a low n should not be *ignored* – they should be used as evidence for re-examination of the concept with a study that has higher predictive power/better accuracy of the impact. The error comes from assuming small n studies are definitive.

      • nelshoy says:

        So are small sample sizes purely an issue of representativeness?

        P-values already adjust for sample size, so you would still need a much larger effect size to get the same p=.01, right?

        • pku says:

          Yeah, but they’re more volatile to shifts. For example, say you’re flipping a coin and trying to determine if it’s biased in favour of heads. If you get all heads on eight trials, p<.01 that it's fair, but there's a 10% chance of getting that if it has .75 odds to get heads. If you get 900 out of a thousand heads, you can be more sure that the effect is larger.
          If you're just trying to tell if an effect exists, it probably doesn't matter (aside from the effect on the other ways a study can go wrong, mentioned above). If you want to have an approximation of the size of the effect, sample size matters more.

          • nelshoy says:

            But wouldn’t the 900/1000 heads then have a much lower p-value?

            I can see how with a small binomial sample you’re sample is limited to a small number of discrete values (You can’t get an accurate estimate of a 33% heads coin after 2 flips, the only answers are 0, .5, 1), but what about when you’re measuring continuous variables on a normal distribution? Shouldn’t the p-value be just as valuable assuming representativeness?

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            With a small sample size, a small p-value probably means that your effect size is too big. The sign of the effect may also have a large probability of being wrong. These are facts that Andrew Gelman (probably among others) has been attempting to bring more attention to for years. See a simple explanation with a neat picture at https://alexanderetz.com/2015/05/21/type-s-and-type-m-errors/

    • Douglas Knight says:

      One reason people hate small studies is that they are cheap and thus more subject to the file drawer effect. Have sunken a lot of money into a big study, the researcher is more likely to publish, even if null. Whereas, the same money might produce many studies which suffer from multiple comparisons. Similarly, funding a large study is evidence that someone believes in the hypothesis and is a kind of very weak but unforgeable pre-registration.

      What does it even mean to say “the same amount of evidence for their hypothesis”? What hypothesis? The negation of the null hypothesis? The null hypothesis is always false. The negation of the null hypothesis is a stupid hypothesis. If the p-values of the two studies are the same, the effect size of the large study is much smaller. If you do a small study and get p=.01 and then you do a large study and get p=.01, you have refuted the small study. Yes, if they were free from p-hacking, they are, in some sense, the same evidence for different hypotheses. But the large study is weak evidence for a subtle effect, while the small study is weak evidence for a powerful effect. Assuming away p-hacking is the problem.

      It would probably be better if instead of people proposing to falsify the null hypothesis, they actually put forward a positive hypothesis. Don’t merely reject the null hypothesis, but measure the real effect. Implicitly, the size of the study suggests a positive hypothesis: if the size of the study was chosen by a power calculation, you can infer the positive hypothesis. But small studies are unlikely to have had power calculations.

      I probably should say something about open and closed sets. The null hypothesis z=0 is a closed hypothesis, while the negation z>0 is an open hypothesis. It is bad because it includes possibilities arbitrarily close to the null hypothesis.

      • lemmy caution says:

        Thanks for this explanation.

        The newsworthiness/discusability of studies is something like:

        1) is p <.05?
        2) if so, report if effect is large

        small studies have an definite advantage here

    • ejenk says:

      Stop thinking in terms of p-values, and start thinking in terms of effect size and statistical power. A study with a small sample size can only reliably detect an effect that you think will be large. If you think that your coin is biased by maybe 1% (so that your prior for probability of getting heads is uniform over the interval [49%, 51%], then flipping 8 heads in a row gives you approximately zero evidence that the coin is biased towards heads, even though p < 0.01.

      A p-value is equivalent to the posterior distribution for a noninformative prior (although exactly which noninformative prior, I’m not quite sure). A noninformative prior is often a very bad starting place for anything you care about. Effect sizes in the real world tend to be fairly small compared to the various sources of random variation, so our priors should reflect that expectation. A small-sample-size study with a statistically significant (p < 0.05) result necessarily looks like it has a huge effect size. You're free to disbelieve the size of the effect, but at that point, why should you even still believe that you've correctly determined the sign of the effect? After all, a coin that comes up heads 49% of the time is almost as likely to get eight heads in a row as one that comes up heads 51% of the time.

      Anyway, this is all stuff Andrew Gelman harps on a lot, so you should really be reading him regularly. His explanations of Type M (magnitude) and Type S (sign) errors (as opposed to the traditional Type I an Type II), why the null hypothesis is always false, and why noninformative priors are bad really helped elucidate a lot of things for me.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:
    • Oort says:

      If the study with a low sample size gets a small p value, the effect size must be large. That seems more interesting to me than the other study, even if it’s exactly equally likely to be real. My guess is that people just think “small sample size = big p value” or don’t know what p values are. But I’m not very confident here.

    • suntzuanime says:

      P values only measure the odds that such a result would be observed if the effect were not real. You need to compare that to the odds that such a result would be observed if the effect were real, which is lower the smaller your sample size.

      A true bayesian would also ask for the prior probability the effect was real, but then we’re getting into the true heresies.

    • Lumifer says:

      An important conceptual point: low p-values do not provide evidence for your hypothesis. They provide evidence against the null hypothesis.

      From my point of view the p=0.01 in a gigantic-sample study is less convincing because the the t-test starts to reject the null hypotheses for tiny effect sizes and in a lot of cases this is because the assumptions for the test (e.g. that the distribution is normal) are broken in a minor way. Usually you can ignore these small infractions, but for gigantic sample sizes every little thing becomes significant.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Can you give an example of a real-life situation (a real published study would be super great) where a t-test incorrectly rejects the null hypothesis because the assumptions were broken?

        • Lumifer says:

          For general support of the idea that gigantic-sample studies lead to problematic p-values see e.g. this (section 2 You can make the p-value as small as you can afford), or this (section Why Isn’t the P Value Enough?), or this and there’s a lot more if you want to. Sample quote:

          A cancer researcher developed a new anticancer treatment and tries to demonstrate that it improves survival using n = 7 mice in the control and treatment groups. Let the median survival in control and treatment groups be 10 and 15 days, respectively, with SD = 6 days. Again, using formula (1), we compute Z = 1.56 with the p-value = 0.06. (A more appropriate test for survival comparison is the log-rank test (Rosner 2011), but it does not solve the principal problem.) Advice from a statistician: buy more mice. If the number of mice in each group is doubled (n = 14), the p-value = 0.014: the article is published and a new grant is funded.

          For the situations where the t-test is inappropriate the usual terminology is “non-parametric test vs parametric” (see e.g. this). There has been some analysis of the typical stats errors in medical publications, for instance.

          A simple example of the data where the assumption of normality is wrong is most of financial data. You have probably heard various financial crashes called six-sigma events, ten-sigma events, etc. A notable case was the LTCM bankruptcy which resulted from events which its managing partners (including Nobel laureates) considered to have too low probability to care about. And if you have really really REALLY lots of data (see high-frequency trading), the t-tests are completely useless.

        • Alex says:

          How would you know that the t-‘Test “incorrectly” rejected the null hypothesis? You do not get access to ground truth.

          • Lumifer says:

            Failure to replicate, basically.

            If you’re estimating the characteristics of a process which continues to produce more data, out-of-sample testing.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      There is also the “elderly Hispanic woman” effect to consider.

      Small sample size tests are easier to run than large ones. I’m fairly sure that far more of them are run than large ones. Publication bias means that that the small ones never see the light of day. Given 20 tests of different things with the same sample size, I think we would tend to see one of them with a false positive, and that one will the one someone attempts to publish.

      So given that you see a small size study, we probably should be interested and to want a larger study to repeat it. It should be easy to replicate, because the effect size is large.

      But of course we don’t like to fund replications, because peoplle are so hung up on spending money “effectively”. Or at least that is my sense. If government grants were regularly going to people who were simply trying to replicate other results, I have a sense this would be used to generate a hubbub in the chattering class.

    • anon for now says:

      P values are based on the standard error of the estimate. As sample size approaches infinity, the standard error approaches a value which we have a nice formula for, and which is itself decreasing in the number of observations. P values are in this sense only true asymptotically – and the smaller the sample size, the less trustworthy the statistic is.

      This is how things work in classical hypothesis testing anyway – reporting p values in Bayesian statistics seems weird to me.

    • Izaak Weiss says:

      Most analysis use a statistical law called the Central Limit Theorem. The Central Limit Theorem says that if you are looking at the mean of a sample with size n, then this mean will usually be distributed normally around the true mean. However, you’ll notice that there is the word “limit” in the name of the theorem, which means that this statement only holds true in the limit; as n goes to infinity.

      With small n, this theorem doesn’t hold, so any analysis that depends on it won’t be very sound; you may get errors that is accounted for by the p value, because your model is not a good one of the actual distribution.

    • Oscar Cunningham says:

      Another way to think about this is to use Bayes’ Theorem directly. You’ve told us that the probability of observing the data (sigh, I mean “values at least as extreme as those in the data”) given the null hypothesis is the same in each experiment, and the prior probability is also the same. So the only remaining input into Bayes’ Theorem is the probability of getting that data given that the medical treatment does work.

      This is where effect size comes in. In a small study the data will have to be very extreme to give p=0.01. But if you were only expecting a small effect size then this extreme data will also be surprising even if you condition on the treatment working. But in the large study you can get data which gives you p=0.01 while also being likely under the hypothesis that the treatment works. So the large study is better evidence than the small study.

      On the other hand, if you were expecting a large effect size (conditioned on the treatment working) then the small study is better evidence than the large one (although the large study might suggest that the treatment is having some effect, just not the large one you were expecting).

    • AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

      I think this post works well for you

      http://allenfleishmanbiostatistics.com/Articles/2012/01/13-p-values-in-small-samples/

      He answers the question

      ” The way I see it a p-value of 0.01 for a sample size of 20 is the same as a p-value of 0.01 for a sample of size 500. … I would like to hear other points of view.””

      • Matt M says:

        I know this type thinking won’t appeal to a largely rationalist community, but at some point “common sense” or a “sanity check” needs to kick in.

        I had a marketing statistics professor say something to the effect of “mathematically, I can prove to you that all p-values are equal… but if you bet your company on the results of a customer survey that you sent to 100 people and was answered by 10, you’re a damned fool, no matter how convincing the results look”

        • Lumifer says:

          I know this type thinking won’t appeal to a largely rationalist community

          You opinion of the “largely rationalist community” isn’t very high, is it? X -)

          Rule #1 of rationality: Don’t Be A Bloody Idiot.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      See https://alexanderetz.com/2015/05/21/type-s-and-type-m-errors/ for some discussion of Gelman’s work on the subject.

  10. tumteetum says:

    Hi all,
    I’m confused, this is a rationalist blog, Trump is barely coherent when he speaks, if he posted comments here in the same manner he would be roasted, yet I’m seeing a lot of support for him here, what gives? Doesnt it matter that he comes across as a rabid chimp? Do you USA types realise how he looks to the rest of the planet?

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      lowqualitybait.jpg

      • tumteetum says:

        Well ok, if you say so, but I am confused he would be roasted if he posted here, he is unintelligble when he speaks. Are you saying he’s not?

        • FacelessCraven says:

          I haven’t had any particular difficulty understanding any of his statements that I’ve seen. Which seemed unclear to you?

          More generally, he’s running for president. Anyone who talks like a presidential candidate here should be roasted. Running for president requires you to communicate in a profoundly anti-rational way if you want any chance of winning.

          @Jaime – bait accusations don’t work any more.

          • tumteetum says:

            >I haven’t had any particular difficulty understanding any of his statements
            >that I’ve seen. Which seemed unclear to you?

            You jest! Try googling “trump unintelligible speaking”, here’s one of the links…

            http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/donald-trumps-rambling-90-second-speech-stuns-english-speaking-world_uk_57ab37d7e4b08ab70dc0f646

            >More generally, he’s running for president. Anyone who talks like a
            >presidential candidate here should be roasted.

            Ha! Ok fair point.

            >Running for president requires you to communicate in a profoundly
            >anti-rational way if you want any chance of winning.

            Ok a fair point too, but its not so much the “anti-rational” I have a problem
            with, its more the “complete gibberish”.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            …nothing in that speech was actually unintelligable. He’s running three or four parentheticals, some of which overlap, but nothing bizarre or inexplicable.

            the clip starts with him talking about the Iranian nuclear deal. He cuts away to mention his uncle, establishes his uncle’s expertise in nuclear matters, cuts away again to gloat about how smart his uncle was and by extension how smart he is and how the attacks on his intelligence are based on partisan hatred rather than fact, and reminds his audience that this is how the left treats anyone on the right, comes back to the power of nuclear technology, and comes back to point out that the “Persians” are very good at negotiating, and our current efforts toward them are embarrassingly bad.

            Palin a couple years ago free-styled word salad for like two minutes straight. That was weird. This is just talking.

          • Yes, you wouldn’t judge the intelligence of a company’s CEO by assuming he took literally everything said in the company’s advertisements.

          • anonymous now says:

            “I haven’t had any particular difficulty understanding any of his statements that I’ve seen. Which seemed unclear to you?”

            Here are thirty-one statements from last week
            that are “unclear”:

            http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/24/us/elections/donald-trump-statements.html?_r=0

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Anon now – TumTeeTum was claiming that Trump talks in an inarticulate manner. Those statements aren’t unarticulate, they’re lies, and several of the ten or so I bothered to read weren’t even that. I’m sure it distresses you greatly that a liar will be president of the united states of america, but unless a meteor kills both of them at the debates this evening, that is certainly what will happen. No one cares. Not even a little bit.

        • Nadja says:

          I don’t find him unintelligible. Obviously, he speaks a very different language from that of most of my erudite, Ivy League educated friends. He sounds more like a working class person, with his Queens/NYC roots showing.

          I grew up in Europe in a very technocratic culture, believing that people who talk like that are somehow below me. (Not proud of it, but yeah, that’s how I was raised.) Over the years, I have (almost) completely changed that attitude. Mostly because in America, where I now live, I have met people of very many different backgrounds, and I’ve realized that the way people talk is usually mostly a function of their background. (Duh, I know.) I also stopped liking some elements of the culture represented by the well-spoken Ivy League types, so I can see why people might actually choose to speak differently.

          Moreover, I’ve observed that the Fat Tonies of this world are not any less intelligent or clued in than the Dr. Johns. In fact, I often prefer the Fat Tonies for their lack of affectation.

          Now, if you genuinely find Trump unintelligible, it’s probably just a language barrier. (That’s my best guess, anyway.) Or perhaps your linguistic “error correction” unit doesn’t work very well? As in, if someone uses shaky grammar or their pronunciation is funny, you tend to focus on these problems so much that the larger point starts to escape you? (I’ve got a bit of that problem myself.)

          Anyway, I think Trump is incredibly good at communicating his ideas to a very wide audience. But, obviously, there are also many people like you who are either completely turned off by his way of speaking or who find him unintelligible. Now, if he spoke in a way that appeals to you and that you find clear, he’d probably lose a different, larger chunk of his audience.

          • “and I’ve realized that the way people talk is usually mostly a function of their background.”

            I once heard Feynman give a talk and was struck by the thick Brooklyn accent. Obviously not someone one would take seriously.

            Along related lines, we had a British friend over to dinner last night, an Oxford graduate. In the course of the conversation, the subject of great novelists came up. He asserted that everyone knew that Evelyn Waugh was the greatest novelist of the 20th century and Jane Austen the greatest novelist ever.

            When we mentioned the name of Terry Pratchett his response was that he knew Pratchett was no good. He hadn’t actually read any Pratchett, but he had seen the cover of one.

            It wasn’t clear to what extent he was giving his own views and to what extent parodying the intellectual arrogance of the subculture he came from.

          • Paul Barnsley says:

            It’s revealing, though, that you speak in fully formed, coherent sentences, rather than “authentic” word salad or claiming that Drumpf has the “best words”.

            I think it’s a good deal more contemptuous of the diverse range of speech in American society to suggest that skillful exponents of regional and ethnic dialects talk like Donald Drumpf. Sad. And low-energy, too, I suspect. I’ll call you “sad-Nadja”.

          • “It’s revealing, though, that you speak in fully formed, coherent sentences”

            At a tangent, what you are observing is written English not spoken English. I don’t know if you have ever given a speech and gotten to read a transcript of it, but it’s a humbling experience.

          • Nadja says:

            @ Paul
            With apologies to David Friedman, it is not clear to me to what extent you are giving your own views here and to what extent you’re parodying… various things. Clearly, using Trump-style epithets while bashing Trump’s communication skills is meant to be humorous, which I appreciate. Now, just in case you are actually serious when you say “I think it’s a good deal more contemptuous of the diverse range of speech in American society to suggest that skillful exponents of regional and ethnic dialects talk like Donald Drumpf”, let me address that point.

            I am not suggesting that in order to be a good communicator, one needs to speak like Trump. There *is* a diverse range of speech in the American society, and Trump’s way of talking is representative of just one particular type: a type I loosely associate with Taleb’s Fat Tony.

            What I am saying, however, is that Trump is exceptionally skilled when it comes to various aspects of communication. Certainly more skilled than I am, even with my “fully formed, coherent sentences.”

            Let me give a couple of examples of what I mean. If I tried to write a business book (and were given the choice of any ghost writer I might want), I’m willing to bet that to the average person my book would be much less inspiring and persuasive than Trump’s writing. If I were to run for any sort of office, I’d have next to zero support. Neither my supporters nor my opponents would be copying my speaking style the way we see both Trump supporters and opponents do with “making X great again”, “having the best Y” or “winning so much we’re tired of winning”. There wouldn’t be a huge meme culture inspired by the way I talk.

            If I were to have a TV show, it’d probably get canceled after a couple of episodes given my lack of charisma. If I were to be given the classic interview question of “sell me this pen”, I wouldn’t do as well as Trump would. If I were to negotiate the price of a beautiful estate I’m interested in, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere close to the sort of a deal Trump got on Mar-a-Lago, even if I had his financial resources. If I were to go to a rally to speak to tens of thousands of people, I wouldn’t be able to inspire and amuse the crowd the way Trump does, especially if I weren’t allowed to use a teleprompter. If I were to talk to the average guy about the weather, that guy wouldn’t end up liking me or respecting me as much as they would end up liking and respecting Trump after similar small talk.

            Anyway, again, I do believe that some folks have problems actually understanding what he means at times, and I do know his style is very off-putting to many. So Trump’s communication skills are not, by any means, perfect. Still, I do think they are exceptional, given how persuasive so many people find him in so many different contexts (business, entertainment, politics, etc.)

          • lemmy caution says:

            Trump is ivy league educated

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @David Friedman
            “It wasn’t clear to what extent he was giving his own views and to what extent parodying the intellectual arrogance of the subculture he came from.”

            My money would be on him having the relatively common English intellectual habit of making hyperbolic statements, and then defending them with obviously flawed arguments. That seems more likely than literally judging a book by its cover.

          • Deiseach says:

            When we mentioned the name of Terry Pratchett his response was that he knew Pratchett was no good. He hadn’t actually read any Pratchett, but he had seen the cover of one.

            Oh, that’s because Pratchett is genre fiction, as you can tell by the book covers (sometimes very witty, as in the Night Watch cover, compare with inspiration). And everyone knows genre fiction is not real writing 🙂

          • Pan Narrans says:

            “And everyone knows genre fiction is not real writing ? ”

            I’ve yet to work out what “genre fiction” means, beyond “an arbitrary category in which I place works that I deem not to be literature, so I can declare that they are by definition not literature by virtue of being in said category”.

            I mean, I’ve seen someone argue – in factual terms, like we were debating whether Paris is in France – that a book didn’t count as a novel because it was genre fiction. I really don’t know what to make of that.

          • Edward Morgan Blake says:

            Drumpf

            Making fun of someone’s name is something that most people outgrew by the time they graduated from junior high.

          • Matt M says:

            “Making fun of someone’s name is something that most people outgrew by the time they graduated from junior high.”

            Making fun of a foreign sounding name is an even more confusing tactic from people who claim Trump’s biggest flaw is racism and xenophobia.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Oh, that’s because Pratchett is genre fiction, as you can tell by the book covers (sometimes very witty, as in the Night Watch cover, compare with inspiration). And everyone knows genre fiction is not real writing ?

            Ah, the Sci-Fi Ghetto. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it’s really annoying. On the other hand, attempts to break out of the ghetto result in drivel like “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” and “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, necessitating the puppies to come in and save the day.

          • LHN says:

            @jaimeastorga2000 Those weren’t really efforts to get out of the ghetto, though: AFAIK they were published in SF venues aimed primarily at SF fans, and made no splash to speak of outside it. (Ditto the Puppies’ picks, which I wish I’d liked better than I did.) The work from within the genre that’s probably made the biggest splash outside it in the last couple of years is probably The Martian, which happily seems to have risen above the culture war thus far.

            But compare Heinlein selling to the Saturday Evening Post and Colliers and Scribner’s juvenile division, or some of the New Wavers getting attention from mainstream reviewers, or former Astounding authors hitting the New York Times best-seller lists in the 80s. Or the push for a while to call it “speculative fiction” (originated by Heinlein in an essay for librarians, IIRC) to reduce the stigma. Or authors like Vonnegut denying they wrote SF at all.

            Whatever problems the field has at the moment, now doesn’t really strike me as the high water mark for aspirations beyond the ghetto walls– especially for the sort of short fiction mentioned.

        • Jaskologist says:

          nydwracu did an excellent writeup on this a while back:

          eoff Pullum, a professional linguist, thinks Trump can’t even form a coherent sentence. Since linguists have known for decades that speech often looks incoherent when written out—and, as a point of historical interest, the main thing that made them realize it was transcripts of the Nixon tapes—something must have happened to confuse Pullum.

          Well, the most unusual thing about Trump’s rhetorical style is that you can’t punctuate it. He’s not reading from a text. He’s not composing a text on the fly. Mark Liberman compares Trump to Elmore Leonard’s lower-class characters, who speak perfectly grammatical vernacular American English that looks wrong when it’s written out in a book. To demonstrate the point, I’ll write the rest of this post in the relevant style.

          the interesting thing about that is
          the way Trump talks comes off as lower-class
          he’s from New York, he can deal with high society
          he can write letters
          we know he can
          he writes letters to the New York Times
          some of them have been published, they’re in the news
          writes letters to the New York Times, has the style down
          but he doesn’t do that on the campaign trail
          he doesn’t speak like he’s reading
          he doesn’t speak like he’s composing a text

          so when Trump talks
          and this is what sets him apart from other politicians
          when they talk, they sound like books
          complete sentences
          complex syntactic structure
          no parentheticals
          I remember reading a paper once
          I can’t find it now
          but there’s a paper somewhere about
          one of those Eskimo languages
          after writing was introduced
          and as writing started to spread
          people started using more complex syntactic structures

          • At a slight tangent …

            I was told that Robert Nozick said Richard Epstein was the only person he knew who spoke in paragraphs.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Jaskologist
            > Well, the most unusual thing about Trump’s rhetorical style is that you can’t punctuate it.

            No, it’s not hard to supply punctuation; the transcriber just chose not to. (Palin was treated similarly.)

            The interesting thing about that is, [that]
            the way Trump talks comes off as lower-class.
            He’s from New York, he can deal with high society.
            He can write letters.
            We know he can;
            he writes letters to the New York Times.
            Some of them have been published; they’re in the news.
            [He] writes letters to the New York Times, has the style down.
            But he doesn’t do that on the campaign trail.
            [He] doesn’t speak like he’s reading;
            he doesn’t speak like he’s composing a text.

            If I weren’t too lazy, I’d look up some of the Psalms that use a similar technique — ie parallelism, with a sort of call and response pause between clauses.

        • I listened to the debate a while ago. I had no trouble following what he was saying. Much of it was wrong, but he did a reasonably good job of making it sound as if it was right.

          At only a slight tangent … . Pretending to others that your opponents are stupid may sometimes be a sensible tactic. Believing that they are is usually a serious mistake.

      • keranih says:

        Do you USA types realise how he looks to the rest of the planet?

        In the (oft repeated) immortal words of MSgt Farell, Don’t know, don’t care, never asked.

        OTOH, might have to go answer Unit of Caring, just to reward non-trolling attempts at understanding.

        • tumteetum says:

          >Don’t know, don’t care, never asked.

          Yeah but even the USA has to work with the rest of the world.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usN3rpfFoGA

          Trolling? Not really, just trying to understand why so many of you guys seem to be in his favour. Everything else I read here I can at least see the opposing point even if I dont agree, hell you guys have even managed to raise some doubt in me over AGW but this Trump thing I just do not get.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @tumteetum – “Yeah but even the USA has to work with the rest of the world.”

            Do we? How? Why?

            regarding the rest of the world, my main interest is in how we can stop turning tax dollars into giant mounds of dead foriegners. Beyond that, the rest of the world can figure things out for themselves.

          • keranih says:

            Trolling? Not really, just trying to understand why so many of you guys seem to be in his favour

            Then for fuck’s sake ask that. Don’t state your own assumptions about Trump and then ask us why we don’t agree with you about him.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @keranih – maybe chill a bit? and possibly apologize? I understand the pattern-matching thing, it tweaked me too, but looking over the last several months of these sorts of conversations I really think the “troll” response is a losing one.

            [EDIT] – this is what bubble crossover looks like. We do actually want bubble crossover, right?

          • tumteetum says:

            >Do we? How? Why?

            Well there’s all those international treaties, trade deals and the like. So yes you have to work with the rest of the world.

          • tumteetum says:

            @keranih

            Because thats what I want to know. I want to know why you guys dont agree with my perception of him. I agree with much that goes on here but this consistently does my head in.

          • keranih says:

            @FacelessCraven –

            Well, I buggered off for a few months, so I missed that bit.

            bubblecross over

            Don’t buy that. Not for “your guy talks like a moron why do you even listen to him?”

            For things like, oh, the occasional really dumb stuff that came out of Melissa Harris-Perry’s mouth, where I could see what she meant to say, and that she meant it with good heart, but that she’d just never talked to anyone who used a different…errr…bubble dialect, and so didn’t understand how her words were going to be taken – sure. Yes, cut people slack, explain how that’s a sub-optimal phrasing, ask for a rephrase.

            rabid chimp – that’s not *bubble*, that’s rude name calling, and shit-stirring.

            possibly apologize

            *huffs out breath, making bangs twitch* Serious question. What for?

          • Matt M says:

            “Well there’s all those international treaties, trade deals and the like. ”

            A huge part of Trump’s support is coming from a group of people who think all of these things are destructive and have done a great deal of harm to the country.

            Trump is essentially implying that we’ve been electing nice guys the world respects so much who proceed to roll over and get taken advantage of by shrewd foreign politicians, signing international agreements that favor foreign countries over America.

            Which means that the more other countries cry about how bad Trump is, the more accurate this narrative appears.

          • “but this Trump thing I just do not get.”

            I’m not a Trump supporter, but maybe I can help.

            The term “flyover country” is used by people who live in the central parts of the U.S. to describe their view of the contempt they think the coastal elites hold for them–the only importance of most of the U.S. being that it is what you fly over on your way from New York to San Francisco.

            The coastal elites are the part of American culture most admiring of Europe and most interacted with by Europeans. Trump support is to a considerable degree by people who feel they are despised by the same subset of the American population that you are most likely to interact with–and naturally resent it.

            I am, loosely speaking, part of that same cultural elite–I graduated from Harvard, live in Silicon Valley. But I disagree with large parts of the dominant ideology of my fellow members and so have some sympathy for the reaction to them of the rest of the country.

            Does that help? If a politician is deliberately trying to identify as an enemy of the elite he is likely to say things in a way that offends that elite and people culturally close to them.

          • Possibly another piece: the financial crisis was mostly created and not predicted by smooth-talking, reasonable-sounding, respectable people.

            Reversed stupidity isn’t intelligence, but it’s really, really tempting.

          • “I want to know why you guys dont agree with my perception of him.”

            Is your perception of him consistent with the fact that he comfortably won the Republican primary despite having no background in politics, no history of being a Republican, no support from the party machinery, and opposition by what initially appeared to be a strong field of candidates?

            Isn’t that strong evidence that, whatever else he may be, he isn’t stupid?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @kerinah – “Don’t buy that. Not for “your guy talks like a moron why do you even listen to him?”

            They hate us. We hate them. That’s how the bubbles form in the first place. You know what the media’s like, you know that the constant message is that all of us are brain-damaged degenerate inbred hatefully violent crazy deplorables. You know that a significant percentage of their side actually believes that stuff is true. What would you expect someone coming from that bubble to sound like?

            “Serious question. What for?”

            For swearing at them and calling them a troll, and generally being ornery. my mom taught me that when there’s conflict, always be willing to apologize for your own part in it. I can’t make you do it, and you’re entirely within your rights to tell me to fuck off. But I am on your side, and I think your approach is counterproductive, short term and long. Take that for what it’s worth.

            …more generally, it seems to me that troll accusations are better made by people on the side of the issue the potential troll is supporting. Shooting across the isles is counterproductive.

          • pku says:

            @David Friedman:

            Would you also use that description for Jeremy Corbyn (who won his primaries in a far larger margin despite lacking many of Trump’s positional advantages)?

            FacelessCraven

            They hate us. We hate them.

            That’s not really true – I’ve met very few coastal liberals that have the contempt for “flyover country” you seem to think they do. The “coastal elitist who turns his nose up at the uncultured masses”, much like the “misogynist who thinks women are beneath him”, seems like a politically convenient stereotype that doesn’t really match reality.

          • keranih says:

            @FacelessCraven –

            Still not buying that “Doesnt it matter that he comes across as a rabid chimp?” is bubble, rather than rude disparagement. “Don’t you care what the rest of the world thinks?” – *that* could be (likely is) bubble – it’s asking a reasonable question based on an assumption of an value that isn’t, after all, shared.

            I sat through 8 years of libs calling Bush “Chimp” and then completely losing their shit when anyone made any sort of primate-related jokes about Obama. Even given that tumteetum evidently ain’t from around here (and I will guess ESL, given the spelling that is worse than mine) I find it extremely hard to believe that “rabid chimp” was meant in an open-minded, non-mocking way.

            Instead of doing as UoC did, and ask questions, wanting answers the impression I got of ttt was that they were strolling in to take this opportunity to say what they thought of those who would not vote for Hillary, and by extension, the whole USA. Not to ask, but to sneer.

            So, troll.

            I’m willing to note that in follow up ttt’s far less troll-like, but I stand by my first impression.

            Having said all that, I’ll take it under consideration calling ttt out on it immediately wasn’t the most productive move.

            (Will not apologize for ornery. I’d be here all damn day.)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @pku – “That’s not really true – I’ve met very few coastal liberals that have the contempt for “flyover country” you seem to think they do.”

            I’ve met a whole whopping lot of them. I’ve read and watched a number of them. I used to be one of them, for most of Bush’s administration through the early years of Obama. Did you watch Jon Stewart, back in the day? Have you ever read Tim Krieder? He’s probably my favorite political cartoonist, and his essays are excellent. Are you following the current Palmer Lucky situation? I make games for a living, so his purging is actually pretty relevant to me.

            …I don’t mean to imply that liberals are uniquely awful in this matter. Conservatives hate the shit out of liberals just as hard. It’s completely a two-way street. But the hate, on both sides, seems pretty freaking obvious to me, so I’m a bit baffled at how someone could claim it doesn’t exist.

          • tumteetum says:

            @David Friedman

            “Does that help? If a politician is deliberately trying to identify as an enemy of the elite he is likely to say things in a way that offends that elite and people culturally close to them.”

            Yes, this I understand. I get why the people in fly-over country like him. I dont get why so many here do. Most here would seem to be those elites.

          • tumteetum says:

            @David Friedman

            “Isn’t that strong evidence that, whatever else he may be, he isn’t stupid?”

            Its a fair point, but I honestly dont know, all I can say is that whenever I’ve seen him interviewed, the word smart doesn’t spring to mind.

          • “Most here would seem to be those elites.”

            Many of us are class traitors, so to speak.

            A story I’ve probably told here before …

            In 1964 I was a Harvard undergraduate and a Goldwater supporter. I got into a conversation with a friendly stranger, probably due to my having a Goldwater button.

            We ran through a bunch of issues. In each case he wanted to know how I could possibly support Goldwater’s position. In each case I answered with arguments in support of it that were obviously new to him and to which he had no immediate rebuttal.

            At the end he asked me, in a tentative not-wanting-to-offend tone, whether perhaps I was taking all of these positions as a joke. Pretty clearly, it was the intellectual equivalent of “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” How could I be smart enough to give apparently legitimate arguments for positions he knew had to be wrong and yet stupid enough to believe them?

            Having spent my life as a libertarian in an academic world that is heavily biased towards the conventional left does not leave me with much sympathy for the intellectual/ideological views of the coastal elite of which I am a member.

            I don’t have any more sympathy for Trump’s views, but the fact that he is speaking heresy isn’t the reason why I don’t.

          • “all I can say is that whenever I’ve seen him interviewed, the word smart doesn’t spring to mind.”

            I’m an economist. I mostly judge people by what they do not what they say.

            Did it occur to you that you were not the audience he was trying to convince?

            Imagine yourself in one of the Republican candidate debates. Do you think you could have done a more effective job than he did?

          • tumteetum says:

            “Did it occur to you that you were not the audience he was trying to convince?”

            Fair point, I’m certainly not his audience.

            “Imagine yourself in one of the Republican candidate debates. Do you think you could have done a more effective job than he did?”

            Ha! Yeah ok, there’s no way I could have but my original question was more about my frustration at not understanding why so many here seem to like him.

          • Fahundo says:

            The term “flyover country” is used by people who live in the central parts of the U.S. to describe their view of the contempt they think the coastal elites hold for them

            Having lived in “flyover country” for the first 20 years of my life, I was actually never exposed to the term until I heard coastals saying it.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ pku

            I’ve met very few coastal liberals that have the contempt for “flyover country” you seem to think they do.

            That holds only until the people from the flyover country get uppity and express a desire to vote for That Monster.

          • Matt M says:

            “Fair point, I’m certainly not his audience.”

            With all due respect, if you concede that you are not his audience, then you have virtually no business commenting on how he “speaks nonsense” because he is not speaking to you.

            It would be like me watching Angela Merkel give a speech in German (I don’t speak German) and then complaining that it was nonsense and I couldn’t even understand what she was saying. Of course not, she wasn’t talking to me.

            Communication is more than just knowing the literal translation of words. I can see how a blue tribe European would see a Trump speech as not very far removed from a completely foreign language. That doesn’t make Trump an idiot – that makes you unqualified to judge his abilities as a communicator.

          • “but my original question was more about my frustration at not understanding why so many here seem to like him.”

            I’m not sure anyone in this discussion has gone as far as “like.” Some here plan to vote for him.

            In any case, I was responding not to your view that he was unlikeable but that he was unintelligent.

          • keranih says:

            @tumteetum –

            I apologize for using profanity in my reply to you. It unnecessarily lowered the tone of the conversation and I shouldn’t have done it. I beg your pardon for this lapse, and resolve to not do so, so quickly, again.

          • tumteetum says:

            @keranih

            No worries mate, and you were kind of right, I could have phrased the question more clearly.

          • tumteetum says:

            @Matt M

            I meant “not his audience” in the sense that I’m not a voter.

            Also, its not that his speech is a foreign language (I have relatives and aquaintances who speak like that) its more that its drivel.

            And whilst I’m here, I am not a euro or a member of the blue tribe.

          • Shieldfoss says:

            @tumteetum

            Yes, this I understand. I get why the people in fly-over country like him. I dont get why so many here do. Most here would seem to be those elites.

            .

            Most here would seem to be those elites.

            Well there’s your mistake then, thinking we’re a representative sample of that community.

            This is a spinoff blog from the Less Wrong community.

            And one of the ways Less Wrong warns you that you can be wrong is this: Agree with things because they are popular with your group, instead of agreeing with things that are true.

            And once you start doing a real analysis of the situation based on avoiding mistakes so you can know things that are true rather than knowing things that are popular, it becomes trivially easy to understand Trump’s almost meteoric rise.

            Now that’s not enough to start rooting for Trump. For that, you also need to hate the things he are running against.

            He’s not running against Hillary. Hillary only has one vote. He’s running against the culture that wants to elect Hillary.

            That is a culture of lies and deceptions, which is why people have such an easy time ignoring Trumps tendency
            towards bullshit. It is a culture of violence, which is why people don’t care when Trump calls for violence.[1] It is a culture of racism, which is why nobody cares that Trump is called a racist.[2]

            I am, culturally, of that elite that Trump is running against. I write these words here, instead of speaking them in public, because in public it would cost me friends, despite every word I’ve written being true. Because, despite their truth, they signal that I’m not one of them. Part of being a member of that elite requires believing, or at least professing, a number of lies. I can swallow my pride and pretend I believe when my name is attached, but here, anonymous? Here you get the truth.

            [1] I have occasionally phrased it: Some people want to vote for Trump because they are one-issue voters. The issue is: “Have you voted for a war” and of the current candidates, Trump hasn’t.

            [2] There’s also a bit of the Boy who cried Wolf about this one. Trump is literally Hitler, huh? Just like Romney was? And McCain? Bush? Come off it. I personally credit it more with Trump than I did with any of the other candidates, but the thing is that if you call every republican candidate Hitler, your conduct loses the ability to transmit information – it’s like a mine sweeper that beebs when there’s a mine, and has a defect so it also beebs when there’s NOT a mine; that doesn’t help me find mines.

          • keranih says:

            In response to the idea that the citizens of the USA should pay heed to what non-citizens think of their poll choices, and the (in my mind linked) notion that SSC represents the “coastal elite” of the USA…

            This is what makes me a federalist – ie, why I am so invested in layered government that pushes power & governance down to the lowest level possible. Because unless everyone buys into the idea that I get to do what I want, you get to do what you want, and Charlie over there gets to do his third thing, we all end up living our lives according to the dictates of some strangers who live someplace else entirely.

            And yes this system is regulatorily inefficient – just as it would be more efficient to have just one kind of sparrow populating all the world. But it is also tremendously more efficient in responding to the local environment – to include the values and needs of the local people.

            Governing large swaths of areas by top level fiat is like trying to feed a flock of sparrows by giving them all seed-eater beaks. It’s not going to make them want to eat seeds instead of bugs, and it’s not going to make seeds plentiful in their local area.

            It does, however, give a bit of a rush to the people who can go about arresting bug eaters, where ever they are. Or if not arresting them, snapping the paper over and ranting about these stupid bug eaters, who won’t go along with the grand plan.

          • Edward Morgan Blake says:

            The term “flyover country” is used by people who live in the central parts of the U.S. to describe their view of the contempt they think the coastal elites hold for them–the only importance of most of the U.S. being that it is what you fly over on your way from New York to San Francisco.

            I am old enough and traveled enough to remember when term first started being used in DC, NYC, and LA. (This was before SF was a cultural powerhouse.)

            I would agree that your definition is somewhat more correct now, but a few decades ago, it was used by rich and connected coasties to signal their contempt for the middlies, in a way that also signaled their wealth and sophistication, in that it implied that were wealthy and connected enough to afford to fly, and had reasons to fly between the coasts (even if they were not actually rich enough to do so, unless on an expense account), and thus were the Right Sort of People.

            The rich and connected coasties, by doing so, made the mistake that you pointed out in a comment above, of assuming that the middles were stupid. They are not stupid. They are just as smart, they are slower to anger, and they are now angry.

          • I have lived in the US my whole life, but I have similar questions to ttt. I am a little surprised at intelligent folks supporting Trump, because he does say some pretty stupid things. It is true that every politician says stupid things. I guess to me the only rationale one could give to support Trump is the old lesser of two evils trope (or lesser of several evils in the Republican primary).

            Yes, Trump is refreshing in his trashing of political correctness, but he is running for President, which is a pretty serious position. The President does have much less power than usually given credit for, but he can send jets and drones and assassins to kill people, and can direct administrative agencies to do some nasty things, and will nominate Supreme Courts judges, which sometimes determine important things. So I don’t think it is a good idea to vote for somebody based on his talk.

            I will be voting based on the parties, not the person, because I think it matters much more which party is in power than the joker who actually inhabits the White House. But ttt is correct that the occupant in the White House will have an effect on the US perception in the rest of the world, so it does matter more than the nay-sayers in this thread. Though admittedly, it won’t much affect my own vote.

          • Tibor says:

            I disagree with the notions that Europeans do not like Trump. In fact, Trump has a lot more to do with socialist right wing (or how should I call them?) of Europe – people like Marine le Pen or Heinz-Christian Strache – than with the average Republican. And exactly the people who vote for Le Pen (or Wilders, Strache, Orbán, partially AfD,…) in Europe are big fans of Trump and for the same reasons they support Le Pen. Both are anti-establishment and people do not like the establishment. Most of the traditional media in Europe and the “elites” are indeed strongly opposed to Trump but that is not the same thing as to say that Europeans are somehow all like that. If anything and with some exceptions (mostly gun laws), Trump is a more “European” nationalist right-winger than the traditional American right wing which, at least in its rhetoric, is still a bit more free market leaning. Particularly in France, Trump would be at home with his political ideas, Le Pen is possibly even more protectionist than him and there is a small but not too small a chance that she becomes the next French president.

            By the way, I find that in the EU in particular the people have, at least in most countries, good reasons to be against the established political parties, even though unfortunately most of the successful anti-establishment people are perhaps even worse – then again if they keep being a constant threat (but never actually quite take over) then it might work a lot better. I find current Austrian government rather reasonable (even though the state is apparently incapable of organizing elections there) compared to the current German government for instance and this is partly because the FPÖ creates a lot of pressure on the government. On the other hand an FPÖ government would probably be pretty bad. I wish people decided to vote for libertarian parties instead, but with the exception of Switzerland where one such party (although they are no anarcho-capitalists, also Switzerland is not an EU member) is actually the second biggest party in the country (and has been for decades), this is not very realistic (although recently a rather libertarian leaning party ended up second in the parliament elections in Slovakia, so that is very good news I think…if they can hold onto that position).

            Unfortunately, this does not work in the US because of the winner takes all two party presidential system.

      • Homo Iracundus says:

        In fairness, it’s a great opportunity to confess that I would take an actual rabid chimp as president over most rationalists.
        The chimp is much less likely to think “aha, I can cleverly outwit Putin with all the tricks I learned from Harry Potter Fanfic—… That’s funny, why is everyone speaking Russian all of a sudden?”

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Seriously what is up with all of the accusation of trolling these days.

        This is the kind of shit that appears regularly from the regular right of center commenters here that does not seem like it is in the intended spirit of the place.

        • Nadja says:

          Well, so I found the original comment amusing/humorous, and I didn’t immediately think it was trolling, but I have to admit that I wasn’t quite sure. I think what made it look like possible trolling was the expression “rabid chimp” used to describe Trump *while* addressing Trump supporters. Also, the question asking if we US types don’t realize how he comes off to the rest of the world: seemed more rhetorical than genuine. So, anyway, I can completely see how people would think it was a troll comment. Especially if you compare it to how a very similar question was asked by the Unit of Caring.

          • pku says:

            I am genuinely curious about the how Trump comes off to the rest of the world question. Is “the rest of the world can go shove it” the real pro-Trump argument? Do Trump supporters think Trump can get foreigners to respect him? Do they just consider the diplomatic/public image loss an acceptable cost?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @pku – In what way is the respect of foreigners valuable? What does it get us that we really need?

            America is rich, powerful, and at least arguably decent, as empires go. So long as we maintain those three, what respect we receive from the rest of the world will continue. Who our president is doesn’t make any perceptible difference. The rest of the world will always be happier with a Democrat than a Republican, but they will deal with the Republican just the same.

            Trump may or may not be able to get foreigners to respect him. I don’t think it really matters either way. The diplomatic/public image loss is way, way, way, way, way down on the list of things I’m worried about.

          • Matt M says:

            And keep in mind the implication here.

            To whatever extent Americans are supposed to value “public image among other countries” you are essentially suggesting that Americans should subordinate their own interests to those of people living in other countries.

            Why should the British or the French or anyone else get to extort us into electing the candidate they prefer? This is our election, not yours. Don’t threaten us with the supposedly terrible consequences that you might not like us quite as much if we don’t do what you say. Nobody cares. Do your worst.

          • Nadja says:

            @pku – Given that I grew up in Europe, I have many friends there. Some respect and like Trump, some think he’s crazy and dumb. In my experience, the split goes along similar tribal lines as in the US: the contrarians/right-wing libertarians (intentionally vague here) tend to like Trump, others tend not to. There are foreigner public figures who speak well of Trump and there are those who don’t. I just don’t see the possible loss of respect for the US from some foreigners who particularly dislike Trump as a big threat. Its effect is hard to predict or quantify anyway. Especially that there are possibly other things about Trump, like his charisma/persuasion skills that might have a positive effect in dealing with other nations.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I doubt a President Trump would ever gain any respect from the elites of Western European nations, but that’s hardly a new situation. Bush was considered an idiot by them, and Reagan, too.

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            Speaking as a EU citizen, my view of Trump is very simple. He’s a knockoff Berlusconi, and if elected he’s going to do to the US what Berlusconi did to Italy. Meaning, loot it.
            … I am somewhat confused what the so-called rationalist contingent of the internet finds appealing about that prospect, but partisan loyalty covers a multitude of sins, and Berlusconi got reelected, so I’m not surprised at Trump having support.

          • My feeling is that Clinton likes money, but isn’t strongly driven by it. She’ll might steal something, but the US can endure a moderate level of corruption.

            Trump is driven by money, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds a way to loot the US.

          • Matt M says:

            If you think that the federal government generally does more harm than good, then transferring wealth away from it and to Trump’s bank account is a moral good.

            Trump is less likely to use his personal assets on things like assault drones to blow up weddings in Yemen or security agents to spy on my phone calls or armored personnel carriers to carry out no-knock 3 AM raids based on anonymous tips that someone smelled pot nearby.

            Trump’s personal bank account may not be the BEST place for 35% of my income to go to, but it’s better than the only alternative that I’m being allowed to select.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Nancy Lebovitz

            My feeling is that Clinton likes money, but isn’t strongly driven by it. She’ll might steal something, but the US can endure a moderate level of corruption.

            Unfortunately, Hillary likes power and the question of whether the US can endure further shifts into the Imperial Presidency direction is an interesting one.

          • Corey says:

            the question of whether the US can endure further shifts into the Imperial Presidency direction is an interesting one.

            It’s probably unavoidable, given coequal but separately-elected legislative/executive branches and coherent political parties. If a party collapses we’ll get a temporary reprieve from gridlock (note that gridlock prevents your chosen policies from being implemented, for any value of “you”, even ancaps). But once the parties get balanced-ish again we’ll be right back there.

            Imperial Presidency seems more likely than Imperial Congress because Congress appears happy to avoid any politically-difficult stances by passing the buck to the President (see: wars).

          • Matt M says:

            “(note that gridlock prevents your chosen policies from being implemented, for any value of “you”, even ancaps).”

            True. But if you know your chosen policies are currently unpopular and have little likelihood of being implemented anyway, gridlock can still be a good thing.

            In other words – I’m a fan of gridlock now because AnCaps only comprise about 1% of the population whereas socialists (depending on how seriously you define the word) may comprise anywhere between 5 and 50% of the population.

            So let me work on moving popular opinion in my preferred direction. Once I get to the 30% range you can bet I won’t prefer gridlock anymore.

          • “Trump is driven by money”

            It’s possible, but how can you tell? My guess is that he is driven by status.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Speaking as a EU citizen, my view of Trump is very simple. He’s a knockoff Berlusconi, and if elected he’s going to do to the US what Berlusconi did to Italy. Meaning, loot it.

            There are certainly parallels to Berlusconi, but I really don’t see it.

            The thing is, the President doesn’t really have as many opportunities as you’d think to be corrupt. As a single point of focus, it’s simple enough for the mouthbreathers in the news media to understand and scrutinize, and he actually doesn’t have that direct power over the money anyway — that’s Congress’s job. Of course, ex-Presidents do very well for themselves with corporate boards and speaking fees and a fat pension and so on, but that’s all aboveboard.

            If you want to be a corrupt SOB in American electoral politics, the Senate’s the place you want to be. That or maybe mayor of a large city, although better than even chances you’ll end up in jail if you push it. Definitely not governor — that’s just as bad as President.

          • nimim. k.m. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            >The rest of the world will always be happier with a Democrat than a Republican, but they will deal with the Republican just the same.

            Untrue. Well, yes, in the scope of this election, and probably in other near-future elections, but one must consider that parties’ lines have not been eternal and could change in future, too. I have no idea which party I’d be more sympathetic towards in 20 years time, even if my personal ideological position would not change.

            You also have to account for the fact that the rest of the world is a large place. I find it unlikely that the rest of the world could agree on whom they’d prefer as president *today*.

            And then there’s this wildest “DnD random encounter table” I’ve ever seen, called the reality of international politics.

          • David Friedman:

            >>Trump is driven by money”

            >It’s possible, but how can you tell? My guess is that he is driven by status.

            You’ve got a point there. When Trump shortchanges contractors, it could be as much that he wants to demonstrate that he can get away with mistreating them as that he’d rather not pay out the money.

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            Why should the British or the French or anyone else get to extort us into electing the candidate they prefer?

            Who said it is extortion? It’s in everyones rational interest not to make mistakes, even if they “your” mistakes, and its in everyone’s interest to adopt good ideas, even when they are somebody elses..

          • Matt M says:

            The guy was basically saying “you have to deal with us in terms of trade deals, therefore do what we say.” The implication is clearly “if you don’t vote for who we want, we will give you a less favorable trade deal.” That’s extortion.

            In fairness, it works both ways. Obama tried to do this over Brexit with his famous “back of the line” comments (which he immediately backed down from when the side he preferred lost, which is also exactly what I’d expect from all the Trump-hating world leaders if Trump wins)

        • hlynkacg says:

          As I said below, the “rabid chimp” makes me think troll, but I’m trying to be charitable (and yes it’s difficult sometimes)

        • Gazeboist says:

          There’s two kinds of trolling:

          1. The trolling where you lie in some way, steadily escalating the degree of falsehood. At some point your target gets it, discards everything you “told” them, and laughs.

          2. The trolling where you go to a place that has a number of combative people on it and say something that pisses at least some of them off. With the right prompting, you can get a full-blown flamewar going and destroy a comments thread.

          (1) is a practice I love and cherish; it is the best kind of joke.

          (2) doesn’t actually require that your motives be hostile, but it does need to be guarded against for the sake of the garden. Accusing someone of trolling will (a) put them on notice that they’ve come across as needlessly hostile and (b) put other people on notice that they aren’t presently under attack and should check whether the person in question is actually hostile.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Why are you accusing me of trolling?

            Or, are you in fact accusing me of trolling? It’s hard to tell.

      • suntzuanime says:

        I dunno, looking at the length of this thread it seems high enough quality to me. Maybe we’re just low quality fish.

    • pku says:

      Because there are a lot of right-wing contrarians around here, mostly.

      • tumteetum says:

        Yeah I know but usually they’re rational, this just seems completely one-eyed.

        • pku says:

          This is an instance of second level thinking (modeling the people on the other side as people who model you as an idiot), which is somehow so much more frustrating than first-level thinking – If you can understand that the other side has agency, how can you not understand that they might also have intelligence?

          It’s particularly frustrating with a lot of the pro-trumpers here – the ones who use euphemisms like “sneering class” for liberals – since they feel like their understanding that liberals see conservatives in a negative way fills up their “empathy for the day” quota, and proceed to cast said liberals as ridiculously strawmanned sneering morons.

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            I don’t think anyone’s implied that leftists are generally unintelligent.
            In fact, the Unqualified consensus seems to be that liberals will be (on average) more intelligent, in that they have the sense to jump onto the winning bandwagon instead of the shortbus.

            You might be thinking of the word “evil” instead.

          • pku says:

            Aside from abortion (and I guess the SJ movement), I really can’t see how you could see liberals as evil. Wrong and misguided, I can see, but intentionally evil?

          • keranih says:

            PKU –

            re: stupid/evil

            Go back to the last open thread, the one where David Friedman relayed the joke about the two American political parties.

          • Matt M says:

            Well communists murdered over 100 million people in the 20th century. That’s pretty clearly evil.

            The question in play is – to what extent does modern liberalism still want to move us in that direction?

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            @keranih, yeah, I suspected that reference might have been too subtle.

          • keranih says:

            OTOH, the stupid/evil joke is so old, I actually managed to get far enough out of political discourse that I completely forgot it at one time. By this point in the election cycle, I thought everyone had heard it again.

            But someone had to re-explain Plato’s Chicken to me again, in the last week.

            *shrugs* At one end or the other, all our reference pools are shallow.

          • “Aside from abortion (and I guess the SJ movement), I really can’t see how you could see liberals as evil.”

            There is a very depressing book by Thomas Sowell entitled The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy. His basic thesis is that liberals are motivated by the desire to feel superior and don’t really care whether the actual result of the policies they advocate in order to do so is good or bad.

            He starts by running through a couple of cases where liberals supported a change, arguing that it would have a good effect, against conservatives who argued it would have a bad effect. The change was made and the problem it was supposed to solve got much worse. That doesn’t, of course, prove causality, but it should at least be a reason for the people who supported the change to seriously consider that they might have been mistaken. Their response instead was to continue congratulating themselves on how wise and virtuous they were while pushing for another change.

            I stopped reading part way through because he was offering a convincing argument for a conclusion I did not wish to be convinced of. But I think it suggest an answer to your question.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @pku – “It’s particularly frustrating with a lot of the pro-trumpers here – the ones who use euphemisms like “sneering class” for liberals – since they feel like their understanding that liberals see conservatives in a negative way fills up their “empathy for the day” quota, and proceed to cast said liberals as ridiculously strawmanned sneering morons.”

            I had a meeting at work recently. At one point, my boss and a coworker had a back-and-forth about how important it was that the company avoid any contact or association with people with political views like mine. I am highly confident if my boss or coworkers knew my views, I would be fired.

            I am not in favor of using terms like “sneering class”. But Palmer Lucky actually is in the process of being purged from my industry right now, and his girlfriend is actually being harassed right now, and a whole lot of liberals really are openly sneering about it and cheering it on right now in a very loud and very public way.

          • Matt M, that’s a really interesting question. My impression is that modern liberals are way too sentimental about communism, but it’s also worth noting that they haven’t tipped any of their countries into communist disaster.

          • CatCube says:

            @pku

            Answer from a right winger: TLDR is that a segment of the right thinks that you *intend* the bad results that we think your policies will cause. (A defect shared by the left about the right–why Jill gets such static here.)

            The dominant part of the narrative holding that “liberals are evil” is that the left knows that its policies are destructive, but pursues them because it increases their power.

            For example (very loosely paraphrasing), increasing the minimum wage will immiserate a large number of people by putting them out of work, destroying their communities, and making them dependent upon the welfare rolls. Liberals know this, and push for an increase in minimum wage anyway because they think that the commensurate increase in welfare spending will centralize power in the hands of the federal government and increase their own power.

            It’s the reverse of liberals sneering about how right-wingers only care about rich people. Liberals think that, say, conservatives know that an increase in the minimum wage will do good for the poor at the expense of the rich and oppose it for those reasons, rather than because we think that the increase in minimum wage is destructive.

          • David Friedman, SJWs are notable for discounting other people’s claims of good intentions.

            In racefail, it was “you expect to be judged by your intentions”. More recently (they do work on making their rhetoric clearer) it was “Intention isn’t magic”, and I’ve just seen “Impact, not intention”.

            Unfortunately, they don’t apply this standard to themselves.

          • keranih says:

            @Nancy –

            “Impact, not intention”

            On that note, I’m going to bed, and will go off to pleasant dreams, holding on to the notion that the SJ crowd might be making a turn towards actual evidence-based activism.

            I suspect it will not be so, but wouldn’t it be nice, to pretend it was?

          • keranih

            What I’ve seen of SJWs is that they’re very attentive to getting what they want (probably more evidence-oriented than most people), but not necessarily good at seeing whether what they want serves their larger goals. *Will* getting Confederate flags taken down make racist murder less likely? I don’t know, and I bet they don’t either, though they’re probably right that black people will feel more comfortable if they don’t see Confederate flags treated with respect.

            More generally, they are leaving a trail of people who fear and hate them, and are possibly less sympathetic to SJW goals than they otherwise would be. Is this worth it? The more committed SJWs aren’t even good at knowing what effect they’re having, let alone whether it’s a problem. Instead, they complain about white fragility.

            As far as I can tell “Impact, not intention” isn’t a general principle. If means that if they’re angry at you, it’s your fault, and if you’re angry at them, it’s your fault.

            In a spirit similar to your hopes for evidence-based activism, I keep hoping that intersectionality will eventually lead to paying attention to individual people.

            Note: I’m biased against SJW, though less so than some.

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            Here is an example I would definitely consider evil, and a good example of what David was talking about.

            The DoJ is threatening Berkeley with a lawsuit, because

            the Department of Justice has recently asserted that the University is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because, in its view, not all of the free course and lecture content UC Berkeley makes available on certain online platforms is fully accessible to individuals with hearing, visual or manual disabilities.

            I intend to discuss this elsewhere in the thread, because nobody brought it up last week. But it’s a prime example of the consequences of the Anointeds’ visions.

            The people who were called slippery-slope-scaremongering ablist bigots for warning about this will never get an apology.
            But we have gotten leftists justifying the DoJ’s threat already, and suggesting giving poor flyover rednecks access to college courses online does more harm than good, because it doesn’t force them to confront and atone for their privilege like a real $160,000 university education would…

            So yes, evil.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @David Friedman – “His basic thesis is that liberals are motivated by the desire to feel superior and don’t really care whether the actual result of the policies they advocate in order to do so is good or bad.”

            I too read half that book.

            The problem is that one could pick other issues and write the same book about conservatives. Generally, I think it is pretty clear from the past few decades that evidence-based policy as a whole has failed. Our leaders cannot reliably produce the effects they claim they will produce.

          • Garrett says:

            I think the bitter-clingers comment from then-Presidential candidate Obama is a good indication that people at the top are sneering.
            Likewise for the you-didn’t-build-that comment.

            I occasionally listen to Obama about his policies (because I don’t trust reporting), and I can’t help but hear contempt dripping from his statements, even about things I agree with. He frequently implies the worthlessness and lack of intelligence of anybody who doesn’t agree with him.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Homo Iracundus

            Do you genuinely think that there are some evil liberals sitting around stroking white cats, saying “Mwaha! Now those dirty rednecks won’t be able to access online courses!” Do you think they are sitting in the Department of Justice?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ sweeneyrod

            Evilness does not require white cats. Do you know the expression “banality of evil“?

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            Check out Scott’s tumblr discussions about this. That’s pretty much exactly what his Commie Tumblr Friends did, and with 50 cats odds are good at least one of them is white.

            If you read the DoJ’s recent “Dear Colleague” letters, it’s pretty obvious they see their role as pushing an ideology, not enforcing the law.
            If they were self aware enough to acknowledge they were acting like Bond villains, I’d probably have more respect for them.

            So yes, evil.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Lumifer

            Yes, but “suggesting giving poor flyover rednecks access to college courses online does more harm than good” implies a conscious, deliberate attack on rednecks which has been carefully planned to be the result of what seems on the surface to be a completely different policy (ensuring online courses are accessible to disabled people). It implies a conspiracy, not people “just following orders”, or even just being carried away slightly by tribal hatred.

          • Pan Narrans says:

            It implies a conspiracy, not people “just following orders”, or even just being carried away slightly by tribal hatred.

            Yeah – if people ended up saying “Well, we don’t want those rednecks around anyway“, that sounds more like a comeback you make after the fur has started to fly. I really struggle to see an evil plot to keep “rednecks” away from a university education.

          • Deiseach says:

            Some of those rednecks might have visual, auditory or other disabilities, so the free online lectures as-is are no good to them anyways.

            We’re in the 21st century, putting stuff online with accessibility options is not impossible (feck’s sake, when I’m setting up Windows, they keep asking me do I want speech recognition and all the rest of it to help if I can’t read or see the screen that well).

          • Jiro says:

            We’re in the 21st century, putting stuff online with accessibility options is not impossible

            But it’s not free either. And the content is free. So the university is told that they can’t give things away without paying to add accessibility options.

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            we think that the increase in minimum wage is destructive.

            What I’ve noticed is that opponents of minimum wags use theoretical arguments, and proponents use evidence.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            TheAncientGeek –

            I can point to widening rural-urban disparities (minimum wage reduces the incentive to provide employment in low-cost-of-living rural areas by making the employees there just as expensive as urban areas, which would otherwise be the one advance rural areas have); and labor participation rates of unskilled, uneducated, and minority workers; and the widening skill/employment gap (which older millennials experienced firsthand as several years of unemployment had thus-far-permanent effects on their lifetime earnings).

            If you’re unaware of the evidence you haven’t looked for it.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @TheAncientGeek:

            What I’ve noticed is that opponents of minimum wags use theoretical arguments, and proponents use evidence.

            What I’ve noticed is that the “evidence” used by proponents often suggests the exact opposite conclusion of what they think it does, in large part because they didn’t understand the theoretical arguments.

            For instance, proponents thought this was evidence raising the minimum wage doesn’t cost jobs.

            The headline claim was “2014 Job Creation Faster in States that Raised the Minimum Wage”. Minimum wage increased in 13 states but it was a trivial automatic rate-of-inflation increase in all but four. Only four states had passed new minimum wage laws taking effect that year which increased their minimum wage by more than inflation and if you just look at those four there is a surprisingly good correlation: the more they raised their minimum wage the worse their job growth was.

            Tiny Rhode Island raised their minimum by a mere 25 cents (from 7.75 to 8) and did better than the average state – they ranked 11th out of 50 in job growth.

            Connecticut and New York raised their minimum by 45 cents and 75 cents respectively (8.25 to 8.70; 7.25 to 8) and did somewhat worse than average; out of 50 states they were ranked 40th and 30th.

            New Jersey raised their minimum wage by a full dollar (7.25 to 8.25) – a larger increase than any other state in the union.

            So how did New Jersey do in “job growth”?

            Dead last.

            50 out of 50. New Jersey, the state with the largest minimum wage increase, was one of only 8 states that net-lost jobs that year; their economy shrunk more than any other state in the US.

            Now, the theory suggests the more you raise the wage, the bigger negative impact it has on jobs. So if you want to test that theory you’d do a scatter plot on this data of either the amount or percentage of minimum wage increase versus job growth. That line has a slope suggesting more increase means fewer jobs.

            For a zillion different reasons, a test like this shouldn’t be considered definitive – the theory doesn’t actually say the job losses should be so immediately visible with perfect timing and reasonably-close correlation. Nonetheless, your side claimed this data proved minimum wage doesn’t do harm and we should go full steam ahead with even bigger increases so surely now that I’ve pointed out the error you’ll all now be convinced it’s a bad idea after all. Right?

            Right?

            (sound of crickets)

          • Edward Morgan Blake says:

            proceed to cast said liberals as ridiculously strawmanned sneering morons.

            I have to deal with rich smug coastal liberals all the damn day, every damn day, as part of my work gigs, on the various volunteer and non-profit boards I sit on, on the damn neighborhood association boards, from the damn PTA, and now from the damn “tenants unions”.

            There is nothing “strawman” about my noticing their behavior and the reasons for my disgust with them.

            Believe you me, if I started saying what I *really* thought of them after hand and a half of decades of having to pretend to agree with them to afford my daily bread, Scott would ban me just for the profanity alone.

          • Edward Morgan Blake says:

            I had a meeting at work recently. At one point, my boss and a coworker had a back-and-forth about how important it was that the company avoid any contact or association with people with political views like mine. I am highly confident if my boss or coworkers knew my views, I would be fired.

            Welcome to my entire career.

            How many decades have you had to eat that particular shit sandwich so far? It does get really old, doesn’t it? The only thing that makes it at all palatable is to have people of your own blood depending on you to keep eating it, and their occasional gratitude that you are doing it for them.

            The liberals and “blues” that comment in this blog can try to claim that the people who do that are not “real liberals”. My answer to such is thoughtful (because I’ve had years and years to think about it) and unprintable.

          • Edward Morgan Blake says:

            the bitter-clingers comment

            When I read my archive binge of all the past SSC posts and comments, I recall that one of the resident blues (HeelBearCub, I think?) tried to explain the “bitter clingers” comment as Obama having charity for the poor “reds” who vote against him, and was explaining to his fellow liberals why they should also feel sorry for them.

            I didn’t buy it when I read it, mainly because if that was actually what Obama and HeelBearCub actually thought, that side is even sicker in the head than I feared.

          • Matt M says:

            Glen,

            Also worth noting that proponents often claim statistics support the claim that “modest increases in the minimum wage don’t necessarily result in job losses” while simultaneously supporting things like “fight for $15” which, depending on the state, calls for increasing the minimum wage by as much as 75%

          • Two points on minimum wage evidence:

            1. People on both sides try to draw conclusions from the overall unemployment rate. But minimum wage workers are a tiny fraction of the labor force, so any effect of increased unemployment due to an increase in the minimum wage is going to be drowned in random changes from other causes. What you have to look at is the unemployment rate in populations that are heavily weighted towards low skill/low wage workers, such as teenagers.

            2. I’m not familiar with the modern literature on this. There were patterns in the past that fit the conventional analysis, minimum wage going up and teenage unemployment going up.

            My impression is that the claim of evidence against the conventional analysis is based mostly on one study, by Card and Krueger. Somewhere online there is an interesting interview with one of the authors. The depressing part, from my standpoint, is his account of the hostility he got from other economists for his piece–that isn’t how science is supposed to work.

            But there is also a comment by him to the effect that he wouldn’t expect similar results from a large increase in the minimum wage.

            Also of some interest is what Krugman’s response was back when he was an academic economist rather than a professional public intellectual:

            “So what are the effects of increasing minimum wages? Any Econ 101 student can tell you the answer: The higher wage reduces the quantity of labor demanded, and hence leads to unemployment. This theoretical prediction has, however, been hard to confirm with actual data. Indeed, much-cited studies by two well-regarded labor economists, David Card and Alan Krueger, find that where there have been more or less controlled experiments, for example when New Jersey raised minimum wages but Pennsylvania did not, the effects of the increase on employment have been negligible or even positive. Exactly what to make of this result is a source of great dispute. Card and Krueger offered some complex theoretical rationales, but most of their colleagues are unconvinced; the centrist view is probably that minimum wages “do,” in fact, reduce employment, but that the effects are small and swamped by other forces.

            What is remarkable, however, is how this rather iffy result has been seized upon by some liberals as a rationale for making large minimum wage increases a core component of the liberal agenda…”

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @David Friedman:

            My impression is that the claim of evidence against the conventional analysis [of minimum wage] is based mostly on one study, by Card and Krueger.

            Yep, that and a few other studies of similar type. To catch up on some of the later developments (and also a summary of earlier ones) I recommend their arch-nemeses Newmark & Wascher (2012).

            I myself would not have expected the “job creation” study I referenced to have such a blatantly favorable-to-my-side result – even for me it seems hard to believe minimum wage was that damaging in New Jersey and in fact it probably shouldn’t be believed – there must have been other factors.

            Or to quote Newmark:

            Charles Brown, Curtis Gilroy, and Andrew Kohen, published in 1982, surveyed the existing literature on minimum wages and established the “consensus” that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage would reduce teenage employment by 1 to 3 percent (Brown et al., 1982)

            (Thus, teenagers would have to be nearly 100% of the workforce for a ~13% minwage increase to by itself explain New Jersey’s miserable 2014 “job creation” record.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Edward Morgan Blake:
            If you have one minute and 38 seconds, I invite you to listen to what he actually said.

            “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
            And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

            At least in some communities. I think what you’ll find is that people of every background … they’re going to be a mix of people. You can go into the toughest neighborhood, you know, working class, lunch-pail folks and you’ll find Obama enthusiasts, and you can go into places where you’d think I’d be very strong and people will just be skeptical.

            The important thing is that you show up and you’re doing what you’re doing.”

            It’s important to understand that he is talking to, I believe, volunteers for his campaign.He is basically saying go out, have empathy, show up and talk about what our message is. Don’t take anyone for granted.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ HeelBearCub

            And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

            So, how is the Obama administration looking in this respect?

          • Matt M says:

            It took me a couple sentences to realize he wasn’t quoting Trump.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Lumifer:
            Well, he’s saying that before the financial crisis. The subsequent recession and slow recovery, which hit the most vulnerable communities the hardest and the longest, mean that the last eight years aren’t going to look great from an economic perspective.

            It’s also true that, save for a brief period until Brown entered the senate, the Republican’s were quite successful in implementing opposition to government programs of any sort.

            It’s also the true that the government can only do so much. One frequently hears talk of being worried about robots taking jobs away, as if that is only in our future. But steel mill and textile factory workers, and the like, already lost their jobs to robots. The low skill, high-wage jobs that pay people to act like robots aren’t coming back.

            Despite the blizzard of misinformation around the green-energy loans in the stimulus package, that seems to actually have jump-started a number of new manufacturers.

            ACA has also had an impact, and is most valuable to those whose job situation may no longer provide benefits.

            But, do people in those communities feel great about the last eight years? No. But I don’t think Obama was promising that.

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            Another thing opponents of the minimum wage do is fail to apply obvious bug fixes, like “make an exception for younger workers” and “make an exception for rural workers”.

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            Gosh, yes. I can’t wait to fill out your Form 87295 (Rural Worker Wage Exemption) with an attached folder of printed GPS logs and a notarized birth certificate for Señor Huevos Wallhopper.

            The tax system in this country definitely needs to be much more complicated, expensive, and have more legal penalties for trying to comply with it.
            And nothing helps low-productivity workers earn more than increasing the bureaucratic overhead of hiring them, right?

          • Matt M says:

            Why would they make exceptions? They think a higher minimum wage is a universal good that simply transfers wealth from the hands of greedy fat-cats into the hands of working class people with zero negative consequences. Why shouldn’t the young and the agricultural workers and illegal immigrants get to benefit from it too?

          • Jaskologist says:

            You say “obvious bugfix,” I say “unprincipled exception.” And in five years, the politicians will say “loophole that needs to be closed.”

          • John Schilling says:

            Why would they make exceptions? They think a higher minimum wage is a universal good that simply transfers wealth from the hands of greedy fat-cats into the hands of working class people

            Wrong “they”. AncientGeek wants the opponents of the minimum wage to apply the “obvious bugfixes” to the minimum wage, in the form of various presumably minimialist exceptions. Instead of, you know, actually opposing the minimum wage.

            Proponents of the minimum wage apparently get their virtue points by putting forth a well-meaning but bug-riddled proposal for a minimum wage and then demanding that the opposition make it work. Expecting then to come up with a finished, defensible, workable version of their plan on their own is apparently too much to ask.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @TheAncientGeek:

            Another thing opponents of the minimum wage do is fail to apply obvious bug fixes, like “make an exception for younger workers” and “make an exception for rural workers”.

            Basic economic theory says that legislatively fixing any one term of a contract usually makes both parties to that contract worse off. Even when the law in question seems like it ought to help one side, in the long run it hurts both sides. In setting a minimum wage for any particular group, you basically have two options:

            (1) Set the wage below the market rate for that group. A wage this low does no harm, but also does no help; it’s pointless.

            (2) Set the wage above the market rate. A wage this high increases the measured “average wage” but does so at the cost of making workers in that industry collectively worse off (reducing both the quantity and quality of work hours available to that group compared to what it would otherwise be). And the people harmed the most are the ones with the most to lose; minimum wage is a regressive policy.

            I don’t want to make people worse off, so I don’t want to have a minimum wage. Having a minimum wage but then adding so many special-case “bug fix” exceptions that it doesn’t measurably affect anyone…why would that be a good idea?

            The end case for the strategy you suggest implies we set one minimum wage rate for most able-bodied college-educated majority-race adults, then apply lower rates or exceptions for: youths, discriminated-against minority members, retired people, disabled people, those who lack advanced degrees, those who lack job experience (aka “a training wage”), those who live in small towns with a low cost of living, those who have a criminal record, those who have poor language skills, those who have a poor work history and so on.

            A minimum wage with all the obvious “bug fixes” applied is approximately equivalent to either having no minimum wage (if it’s set low) or having a Minister of Economics decree what specific wage should be offered to which people throughout the economy (if it’s set high). Are either of those what you want, or is there some third option I’m missing?

          • “A wage this high increases the measured “average wage” but does so at the cost of making workers in that industry collectively worse off (reducing both the quantity and quality of work hours available to that group compared to what it would otherwise be).”

            That’s a little too simple.

            If the demand for labor is inelastic and we ignore all terms of employment other than the wage, then raising the minimum wage decreases employment by less than it increases the wage, so the total wages going to low wage workers go up.

            On the other hand, as long as there are other terms of employment that the employer is free to vary, such as working conditions broadly defined, raising the minimum wage results in those getting worse even when the savings to the employer is less than the cost of the worsening to the employee.

            So if elasticity of demand is unity, workers as a group are worse off. If it’s sufficient inelastic, they could be better off. In any case the society is a whole is worse off, but in the highly inelastic case that’s a net loss combined with a transfer to the low wage workers.

            And I’m ignoring some further complications such as the value of leisure to involuntarily unemployed workers and the effect of not getting a first job at a low wage on the prospects for getting later jobs at higher wages.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @David Friedman

            You’re saying we can imagine a world in which the minimum wage didn’t hurt the low wage workers as a class…even though in reality we probably don’t live in that world.

            In this world, there definitely are other contract terms so the jobs would get qualitatively worse in non-salary aspects. This makes the still-employed workers worse off in that the jobs they have are now crappier jobs than what they would have bargained for in a free market. This is one area where TAG’s “evidence vs. theory” claim has some merit – we can be sure the job is getting worse as the mandate wage increases but we don’t know exactly how it’s getting worse, especially since any easily-identifiable worsening will just prompt new regulations that push the worsening elsewhere. (eg, some states have been cracking down on “irregular work hours” and advance notification of schedule changes.)

            And in this world there is certainly some elasticity of demand for labor so there would be some who lose their jobs. And those who lose their jobs tend to be more sympathetic to us bleeding-heart types than those who keep them. If we care not just about low-wage workers but specifically about the worst off low-wage workers, we shouldn’t want to make that tradeoff. Even in the unlikely event that the group as a whole did win more than it lost, the individual members of it who lose, lose pretty big.

            How’s that?

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            Wrong “they”. AncientGeek wants the opponents of the minimum wage to apply the “obvious bugfixes” to the minimum wage, in the form of various presumably minimialist exceptions. Instead of, you know, actually opposing the minimum wage.

            Still wrong. I want opponents of MW who argue against it on the basis of its consequences to argue against a reasonably steelmanned or strongmanned version.

            Speaking of which, there is no need to handle exceptions through the tax system.

            A minimum wage with all the obvious “bug fixes” applied is approximately equivalent to either having no minimum wage (if it’s set low) or having a Minister of Economics decree what specific wage should be offered to which people throughout the economy (if it’s set high). Are either of those what you want, or is there some third option I’m missing?

            The obvious bug fixes would relate to the small number of groups that opponents have identified.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ TheAncientGeek

            Minimal-wage laws exist. They are an empirically observable phenomenon.

            Why don’t we talk about the versions which we have in reality instead of being concerned with straw vs steel?

          • Glen Raphael says:

            The obvious bug fixes would relate to the small number of groups that opponents have identified.

            Okay, well: I’m an opponent, and I just gave a list of groups who are disproportionately harmed by minimum wage increases. It wasn’t a small number of groups, and it’s not an exhaustive list. But here’s what I consider a pretty good start at that kind of list:

            – young people
            – people of color
            – retired people
            – people with disabilities
            – people who lack job experience
            – rural people
            – people with a criminal record
            – people with poor language skills
            – people with unusual preferences

            So, are you saying that if I want to argue against minimum wage, I can’t argue against the one that actually exists, but rather should argue against one that includes “obvious bug fixes” for these nine groups I’ve identified?

            In that case: what “bug fix” would you consider obvious here? Should we just exempt people in those nine groups from the minimum wage? That would address much of the harm, but after doing so people not in those nine groups would now constitute new groups of people who are disproportionately harmed. After a few rounds you’d have a minimum wage that doesn’t apply to anybody and isn’t changing anyone’s wage.

            (You’d also have the problem that along the way we turn into old South Africa, with different worker classes getting different regulatory treatment and some Ministry of Salaries determining who belongs in which group and what salary applies to people in their group. That’s not a good look. I’d rather get rid of the minimum wage entirely than go down that road.)

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            @Lumifer.

            Why don’t we talk about the versions which we have in reality instead of being concerned with straw vs steel?

            I live in the UK. The UK’s MW law has one exception, actually a different rate, which is for young people.

            BTW, regarding the “one study” claim. That’s one study in the US.

            The national minimum wage is now an established part of
            the British labour market. In the first evaluation of all the
            evidence of its impact on pay and jobs, David Metcalf
            shows that there has been a big boost in the pay of those
            towards the bottom of the pay league table with no
            associated loss of jobs.

            http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/CP217.pdf

            A wage this high increases the measured “average wage” but does so at the cost of making workers in that industry collectively worse off (reducing both the quantity and quality of work hours available to that group compared to what it would otherwise be).

            If you assume that whatever employers are paying is as much as they can afford, it follows that they have to make savings, but you shouldn’t assume that. Emplomyent, particularly at lower wage scales, tends to be a buyer’s market, meaning that buyers get bargains…employers are likely to be able to hire people for less than the maximum they would be willing to pay. That means a judicious MW policy need not make employees unaffordable, which tallies with the empirical data as well.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @TheAncientGeek:

            I live in the UK. The UK’s MW law has one exception, actually a different rate, which is for young people.

            That’s useful information, thanks!

            If we’re talking about minimum wage in the UK I would suggest looking at these two subgroups to most clearly see the negative impact it is having:

            (1) Chinese immigrants.
            (2) Female part-time workers.

            Regarding (1), consider the last few paragraphs of the link you just offered. In 2007, David Metcalf wrote:

            My own research on the Chinese labour market in London covering restaurants, health shops, food manufacture and distribution and clothing, concluded that not a single worker below the level of chef or shop manager was receiving the minimum wage.
            […]
            Frankly it is amazing that so many employers do comply with the minimum wage […] if the employer is caught not complying he simply pays back the arrears: there is no other penalty.

            Note that one unintended and favourable side effect of this non-compliance (and of illegal collusion between employers and workers) is higher employment in the noncomplying sector. For example, the Chinese restaurant and health care sectors are fiercely competitive and some restaurants and shops would close if the minimum wage were fully enforced.

            So restaurants and shops would close if the wage were enforced and if they did close there would be a measurable employment effect. But they don’t close due to widespread evasion of a law which isn’t actually enforced. Furthermore, he clearly thinks not paying the minimum wage creates jobs. (If there is higher employment in the noncomplying sector, doesn’t that mean there must be lower employment in the complying sector?)

            He also mentions collusion as a factor – in other parts of the economy workers and employers pay the listed rate but undercount hours worked. So they’re effectively maintaining two sets of books.

            Is that what you meant by an obvious bugfix? Pass a minimum wage but make sure large groups can just ignore the law at relatively low cost?

            (He doesn’t mention the corrupting influence of routine lawbreaking – are police being paid to look the other way? Can bosses get away with cheating their employees with impunity when the “official” wage rate is imaginary?)

            (Also, given widespread collusion, how much of that big boost in the pay of those towards the bottom of the pay league table and associated inequality decrease comes from imaginary pay raises?)

            Next, here’s a study on female part-time workers: A Re-examination of the Impact of the UK National Minimum Wage on Employment. Quote:

            we find that the introduction of the NMW had an adverse impact on employment retention of part-time women, reducing their retention by about 3% points. This is the group that has the largest proportion of workers affected by the wage floor. Furthermore, we find that employment retention among part-time women fell further in the recession. This is despite the fact that the minimum wage was increased only modestly in the past few years. These findings appear at odds with the earlier research by Stewart (2004). However, he focused on full time workers only citing problems with the data on part-time workers. We acknowledge those concerns and conduct a series of robustness checks on our results for part-time women. We find that our main conclusions hold up.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      1) SSC was built on the premise of encouraging people to make arguments for any position they felt like. It shouldn’t be surprising to find arguments here that aren’t necessarily “by the numbers”. There isn’t one official SSC position on anything.

      2) SSC may be a rationalist blog, but it’s also one built by someone who admittedly views blue-tribe as his outgroup (but, odd to me, never red-tribe) and spends most of his substantive posts tearing down government and/or academia.

      3) Scott is also an admitted contrarian.

      4) For some reason, the right leaning elements here spend more time repeating and amplifying each other’s points.

      Take all that together, and you will see plenty of pro-Trump comments here.

      • tumteetum says:

        >1, 2, 3, 4)

        Absolutely understood and I have no problem with any of it.

        >Take all that together, and you will see plenty of pro-Trump comments here.

        My problem is that these same coontrarian, rational, right leaning commentators
        seem to give him a free pass on complete gibberish! These same people who will
        split a hair down to a poofteenth of fuckall hear Trump and say “Make sense to
        me!”

        • Matt M says:

          Because the overwhelming majority of things Trump says do, in fact, make sense. Particularly given the context of political debate in the U.S. We know what he means, as do most Americans. If you don’t, that sounds like a problem with you, not with us.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Over half of Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump. It’s not just tumteetum, it’s most of the country.

            http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/trump_favorableunfavorable-5493.html

          • Matt M says:

            Having an unfavorable opinion of him =/ he speaks complete nonsense and I literally can’t understand why anyone would possibly like him.

            I don’t like Trump. I disagree with him on more things than I agree with him on, including core aspects of his entire philosophy. I won’t be voting for him.

            But Trump Derangement Syndrome is real. This guy isn’t saying “I have a problem with this one Trump policy let’s debate it” – he’s saying “this guy speaks total nonsense and I demand his supporters defend his obvious idiocy”

          • Alex says:

            Matt :

            Because the overwhelming majority of things Trump says do, in fact, make sense. Particularly given the context of political debate in the U.S. We know what he means, as do most Americans. If you don’t, that sounds like a problem with you, not with us.

            Can you give, in a language that an outsider would understand, examples of lets say three (sensible?) core Trump positions, that you are 99% convinced, he actually means?

            My impression is that this would help the discussion here a lot for various reasons.

          • Matt M says:

            1. We’re getting screwed by China/Mexico/whatever

            What he means here is that recent trade agreements have resulted in vast outsourcing of low/medium skilled labor resulting in job losses to specific groups of people that have not been adequately balanced out by falling prices.

            2. Political correctness is killing us

            In the aftermath of a few terrorist attacks/mass shootings, we’ve started seeing neighbors come out and say “I wanted to report this guy but I was afraid of being called a racist” (or, I DID report this guy but was dismissed as a racist). While it’s quite likely these people are lying just to seem smart (“I knew all along!”) there remains a concern that political correctness is quite literally contributing to terrorism in the sense that people are afraid to report and/or police are afraid to investigate Muslims

            3. Obama founded ISIS

            Implies that the Obama policy of supporting the “arab spring” overthrow of various dictators without a clear strategy for preventing the region from being taken over by popular fundamentalist islamic movements has directly contributed to the rise and increasing power of ISIS – also suggests that either we shouldn’t have been meddling over there in the first place (also easily attributable to Bush though) and/or once we were over there we should have somehow fought harder/more seriously/whatever.

          • Alex says:

            Thank you.

            I think just I learned about myself that my central disagreement with Trump and his equivalents in other countries is that they promise simple solutions where I firmly believe there are none.

            In other words I rather indulge in my cynism accepting an obviously suboptimal status-quo than “be lied to” by the claim that things can change.

          • Anonymouse says:

            Obama was the founder of ISIS.
            Obama was the founder of ISIS.
            Obviously I was being sarcastic when I said he was the founder of ISIS. Well not that sarcastic.

            Most of what Trump says is either gibberish or false.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          But note that Scott managed to, intentionally or not, endorse tribalism. He even makes point like “post partisanship is hyper-partisanship”. No one here is being encouraged to truly stop thinking tribally.

          • tumteetum says:

            >No one here is being encouraged to truly stop thinking tribally.

            Hmm ok thanks, I had thought that they were. All those calls to listen to opposing viewpoints and such, get info from multiple sources etc I had thought the idea was to rationally come to some conclusion. Maybe you’re right, I’ll have to think about it.

          • pku says:

            More cynical interpretation: Liberals are encouraged to stop thinking tribally, but nobody else is. This is depressing, but seems to mirror the commentators on here pretty well.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            To be honest, the “SSC has gotten more tribal recently” argument sounds like people saying that they don’t have an accent.

            I was on SSC (under different names) way way back. And I remember that people would get dogpiled or ‘shouted down’ just like they do now. The difference was that back then it was the bonobo rationalist types doing the piling on.

            Now there has been a narrowing of views represented in the commentariat since then. The bonobos evacuated to the rest of the LW diaspora, the commies fled to Tumblr, and the Death Eaters mostly were purged in the Reign of Terror. So now we’ve got left-libertarians and right-libertarians and Jill.

            But that’s not because libertarians are so tribal they forced everyone else off. If anything, it was the reverse: the bonobos would put up with one or two deplorables but the existence of a plurality of us disgusted them. That doesn’t sound like tolerance to me so much as liking the smell of your own mess.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @pku – “always cooperate” is not, in fact, the best strategy in the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Whether to think tribally or not is a question of strategy.

            Scott’s contribution, I think, is explaining what thinking tribally is. If you’re going to be thinking tribally, better to be aware of it and do so in a useful manner, and hopefully look for opportunities to stop. ie, tit-for-tat with forgiveness.

            I will freely admit that the discourse here is usually missing any sign of the forgiveness part. I wish that were not so.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Tribalism unfortunately dominates as a strategy; no matter what your opponent does, you’re better off acting tribally.

            As for Trump, the presidential race is a horse race; it’s not a question of how Trump measures up to some Platonic ideal for presidential candidates. It’s not even how he measures up to Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. It’s only a question of how he measures up to the other candidate with a chance to win, Hillary Clinton. And frankly that’s a low bar.

          • Wency says:

            @Dr. Dealgood

            What is meant by “bonobo rationalists”? And what, from the “bonobo” viewpoint, is a “deplorable”?

          • DrBeat says:

            SSC has gotten more tribal, and Onyxia Deep Breaths more.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Dr. Dealgood:
            “SSC has gotten more tribal recently”

            I did not say this.

            All I said was that this space does not actually encourage people to truly stop thinking tribally. That’s not a statement about whether it is more or less tribal than at some point in the past.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Wency,

            Sorry if I was opaque.

            Bonobo rationalism is a term Ozy (Scott’s ex) made up to refer to the ‘Niceness’ / neoteny / non-monogamy cluster. Basically the SOs of rationalists.

            Deplorables is a reference to the infamous basket of deplorables comment. The nascent alt-right and (in olden times) the Red Pill / manosphere.

            @HBC,

            If that’s the case it’s kind of a weird non sequitur though.

            “Scott hasn’t done this very difficult thing which no-one else has done, and which he never set out to do!”

            The implication of your statements is that there is something unique or noteworthy here.

          • Teal (but not anymore, thanks gravatar) says:

            More cynical interpretation: Liberals are encouraged to stop thinking tribally, but nobody else is. This is depressing, but seems to mirror the commentators on here pretty well.

            Scott himself is Blue Tribe. He imagined audience is a bunch of Blue Tribers that are smart but haven’t really thought about the sacred beliefs of the tribe. The idea is to shake them out of their complacency.

            But it’s one big internet (or at least English speaking internet). All the negative sounding stuff he says about the Blue Tribe’s sacred beliefs is like catnip to the people that hate the Blue Tribe and want to kill it with fire. So that’s who comes to dominate the comment section.

            While those smart Blue Tribers might still find the above the fold posts interesting they aren’t going to stick around and participate in the comment section where the majority of posts are spittle flecked rants about how evil people like them are and they all die painful horrible deaths. Why would they?

            So right now there’s a big disconnect between Scott and the comment section. I don’t see that changing any time soon. Maybe Scott could change his imagined audience to reflect his actual one (or at least the most vocal parts of it). But given that as he’s mentioned several times — he isn’t being paid to write and wouldn’t want to be — why should he?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Dr. Dealgood:
            Why is it a non-sequitur to point out to someone, who appears to be modelling the commentariat as non-tribal, that the commentariat is tribal and not particularly discourage from being tribal?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Teal:
            If you registered a wordpress account, you could be teal again.

            As to your actual point, isn’t Scott interested in being effective in his communication? I think he signals that this is a concern of his. So, if you are correct that his target is blue tribe, he should change his approach.

            Also, he explicitly has stated he is not blue tribe. Self described he is grey tribe. I’m not sure I actually buy that, but there you go.

          • Teal says:

            If you go by Scott’s definitions of the Tribes rather than the comment section’s definitions, gray is a half formed offshoot of blue. Basically semi-disillusioned blue tribe members like himself, but still in cultural communion with it far more than the reds.

            As for being effective in his communication, I don’t think the denizens of his comment section is necessarily a good way to judge who he is and isn’t reaching. He may well have lots of readers that avoid the comment section like the plague.

            He has said in the past that he wasn’t too happy when down here was filled {won’t let me type it}, but I haven’t seen him explicitly say that he is unhappy with the current AR / right-libertarian / RP composition.

          • Gazeboist says:

            neoteny

            I keep seeing this word used to describe the bonobo rationalists. I’ve never seen anyone explain why it applies.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Because they like and do stuff that is considered unbecoming of mature adults, such as forming cuddlepiles and listening to indie rock bands for teenagers.

          • Psmith says:

            I keep seeing this word used to describe the bonobo rationalists. I’ve never seen anyone explain why it applies.

            This may go some way towards explaining the association.

          • @Dr Dealgood:

            I followed the Bonobo Rationalist link. Where does “neoteny” come in?

            I ask in part because I have occasionally described myself as neotenous. People routinely underestimate my age and I like interacting with children.

          • “where the majority of posts are spittle flecked rants about how evil people like them are and they all die painful horrible deaths.”

            And people complain that Trump engages in rhetorical exaggeration. For your sins, you should sentence yourself to actually run through a few hundred consecutive posts and see what percentage of them come anywhere close to your description of a majority of them.

          • tumteetum says:

            @Teal

            I had wondered about the split above and below the line. Your explanation helps, thanks.

          • Richard says:

            @Teal (but not anymore, thanks gravatar)

            Tomato 3 is a good name too

          • Teal says:

            @David
            Matt M, hylnkacg, and Homo Iracundus are responsible for about ten percent of the posts in this open thread as of this writing. I invite you to review them, and consider how far off I really am.

            Perhaps you’ve gone numb to it, but not everyone has.

          • “Matt M, hylnkacg, and Homo Iracundus are responsible for about ten percent of the posts in this open thread as of this writing. I invite you to review them, and consider how far off I really am. ”

            I have just gone through all of the Matt M posts above this post of yours. There were about twenty.

            None of them came even close to your “spittle flecked rants about how evil people like them are and they all die painful horrible deaths.” A majority were not even defending conservative or libertarian views or attacking liberal views–they were on other topics.

            The ones that came closest were one explaining how one could defend a position of Trump’s and one pointing out that communists had done a lot of damage in the past and then saying:
            “The question in play is – to what extent does modern liberalism still want to move us in that direction?”

            Having gotten zero out of twenty, I didn’t think it worth continuing the experiment. But you might try doing it yourself. With only three people to check it should take much less time than reading all the posts on the thread. See out of their posts, how many you are willing to claim meet your description.

            And revise your opinion of the discussion, and your own ability to evaluate it, accordingly.

        • Seth says:

          I suspect there’s an enemy-of-my-enemy phenomena going on. The right-leaning commentators have a culturally affinity with Trump on topics such as #2 above, e.g. hating government and liberal academia, so they aren’t inclined to criticize him. Those cultural ties trump (pun intended) everything else. If you look at it in isolation, it does seem weird. But if you consider it as criticizing him means one would be giving aid and comfort to the Blue Tribe, it makes much more sense.

          It’s a bit like this (exaggerated for effect! Again, this is deliberately hyperbolic in order to be concise!):

          1) Trump is anti-gov, anti-libacademia
          2) Trump is ignorant and reckless (as well as racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc)
          3) Blue Tribe says anyone is who is anti-gov, anti-libacademia is ignorant and reckless (as well as racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc)
          4) If right-winger says anything at all which tends to indicate #2 is true, that’s viewed as support for #3. Therefore, the “free pass”.

          • tumteetum says:

            That makes sense to me, I just want expecting it here. Naive I guess.

          • “Trump is ignorant and reckless (as well as racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc)”

            He may be reckless–I have a hard time telling what is really him, what the act he thinks will bring him votes. He is ignorant of many things I know but probably knowledgeable about things I don’t know. The same is probably true of most politicians.

            I don’t see the evidence that he is “racist, sexist, xenophobic.” That seems to be based on some mix of his willingness to use politically incorrect speech and his desire to appeal to people who dislike the idea that one is obliged to avoid such speech.

            He is married to a foreigner and seems to get along just fine with her, which you wouldn’t expect of a xenophobe. Opposition to illegal immigration is a very popular position, especially but not only among Republicans, so of course he chose to appeal to it.

          • Seth says:

            @David Friedman, I think you’ve just provided an excellent demonstration of what tumteetum was noting, regarding “These same people who will split a hair down to a poofteenth of fuckall …”.

            Further, commenter sayeth not, because it’s not worth the risk of getting banned over this tribal skirmish.

          • hlynkacg says:

            In what sense?

          • @Seth:

            I’m splitting a hair because I think who someone marries is better evidence of his attitude to foreigners than what speeches he gives when trying to get the Republican nomination?

          • Chalid says:

            Even if it is an act, it is often a reckless act. One thing that’s stuck in my mind, because I live in Jersey City, is his claim that ““thousands and thousands” of Jersey City Muslims were cheering the fall of the World Trade Center. This is a despicable dangerous lie* of course, and is at least one of racist, xenophobic, or reckless. It’s really disheartening to think about stuff like this and then see Trump get praised here for “eroding PC norms.”

            *Yes you can find poorly-sourced anecdotes about occasional handfuls of Muslims maybe making happy noises somewhere in the Greater New York region; going from that to “thousands and thousands” in one mid-sized city is a lie.

          • David Friedman:

            I think xenophobic (and racist, for that matter) have an underlying assumption that prejudice will be evenly distributed among a wide range of targets.

            It would probably be better to check on whether Trump has specific unjustified prejudices.

          • Seth says:

            @David Friedman – I would use a different phrase myself than split a hair, but yes, I think the intended practice is well-illustrated. In standard English, the word “xenophobic” has a meaning where Trump’s statements on immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, and so on, could be a central example. Interpreting it as if it were like applying arachnophobic to a person with a pet tarantula, is exactly the sort of approach I believe tumteetum was noting. It’s a tendentious language particle parsing which presents a very poor political argument as a technical objection. It’s the same type of fallacy as hypothetically arguing that Trump couldn’t lead the country into civil war because he’s rude, yet “civil” means “polite” (i.e. the exact same sequence of letters c-i-v-i-l has different meanings in different contexts, just like the letter sequence -p-h-o-b-i-c has different meanings in politics vs psychology).

            The SSC commentariate loves to do this sort of semantic wrangling. Yet the exact opposite attitude is being applied Trump’s statements. There’s a reason for that, which is shared political values.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Chalid – ” This is a despicable dangerous lie* of course, and is at least one of racist, xenophobic, or reckless.”

            Okay. Why should I care more about that than about people in my immediate social circle excitedly looking for opportunities to ruin my life? How should I weight the threat of Islamophobia versus the threat of getting Luckied?

            @Seth – “If you look at it in isolation, it does seem weird. But if you consider it as criticizing him means one would be giving aid and comfort to the Blue Tribe, it makes much more sense.”

            Less “giving aid and comfort”. More that Trump is part of an emerging general strategy to break the power of appeals to “decency” and “justice” generally. Make those terms partisan signals, overreach hard enough, and opposing them pushes through and becomes positive, even admirable.

            [EDIT] – “We know 2+2=4, but they’ll push for 6, so we have to stand firm at 2!” The logic might be perverse, but so is the world we live in. If they really are in fact pushing for 6, what’s the right strategy?

          • “It would probably be better to check on whether Trump has specific unjustified prejudices.”

            Hard to check. He has said unkind thinks about illegal Mexican immigrants, but that’s a popular position, at least in the Republican party, so tells us little about his prejudices.

          • “This is a despicable dangerous lie* of course, and is at least one of racist, xenophobic, or reckless.”

            It’s an untruth and a damaging one. But I don’t think it implies that he is any of those three things. His primary concern, like that of other politicians, is getting himself elected, not making America a better place. I would count it reckless only if it was likely to cost him votes and I don’t think it was.

            I’m pretty sure that both Obama and Hillary, in the not that distant past, were opposed to gay marriage. Would you conclude that they used to hate gays and now don’t? Given the changes in the politics around that issue, isn’t it much more likely that what changed was not their view of gays but their view of the political costs and benefits of taking that position?

            Similarly here. What he says is very weak evidence of his beliefs, strong evidence of what he thinks will get him elected.

            To put it differently, you might argue that what he said was either racist or xenophobic. It doesn’t follow that he is either.

          • Loyle says:

            @David

            I would rank unintended consequences as a higher priority in determining recklessness than success in meeting one’s intended goals. If Trump is neither racist nor xenophobic, then making peoples of certain races and nationalities targets of very unfortunate consequences is very reckless.

            “I’m pretty sure that both Obama and Hillary, in the not that distant past, were opposed to gay marriage. Would you conclude that they used to hate gays and now don’t?”

            I personally wouldn’t see being against gay marriage as evidence of “hate” against gay people. Perhaps maybe some form of prejudice against gay people, but definitely having a certain belief of what marriage should be. I also wouldn’t say it’s the same as declaring them an enemy. Though I agree with you that they are more likely than not just rolling with the political tide. And would like to empress how constantly disappointed I am that a person can’t simply have changed their mind on any given subject.

            Like, I was pretty apathetic about gay marriage. Supporting it only because I saw no real reason not to, while arguably against it because I saw no point in it. Until I was shown a list of rights and privileges married people have and thought it was dumb to specifically deny these to homosexual couples.

          • The Nybbler says:

            But applying “xenophobic” as if it’s similar to “arachnophobic” is what his opponents do. Trump isn’t xenophobic; he’s opposed to certain sorts of immigration. Calling that “xenophobia” is exactly an attempt to make it sound like a mental problem instead of a policy position.

          • Loyle, people tend to not make a distinction between “unconcerned with the interests of [group]” and “actively opposed to [group]”. The two overlap, but aren’t identical.

            Assuming that lack of concern might as well be a policy of opposition is a convenient tool for enraging people, but it isn’t based in truth, and can increase opposition.

          • Loyle says:

            Perhaps I’ve been surrounded by weird people all my life, but I’ve never heard of xenophobia used in the same context as arachnophobia would. Hell, I’ve literally only heard it in reference to Japan and how very weird they are about gaijins.

            @Nancy

            Oh I’m well aware of that. And they’re wrong. “If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem” is rhetoric I’ve always had a problem with. Yeah, I get what you’re saying, but if you’re attacking me for trying to stay out of the way, you’re not using your efforts to furthering your goals and are also a part of the problem.

          • Buckyballas says:

            @ David

            What he says is very weak evidence of his beliefs, strong evidence of what he thinks will get him elected.

            Are you saying we should [mostly] ignore anything politicians say in campaigns due to its low epistemic value? It seems like it would be difficult to make any kind of distinction in any election?

            In the specific case of Trump, perhaps we can look at his speech and actions before he was trying to get elected to anything to draw conclusions about his beliefs and values. Some evidence that he might be racist: alleged housing discrimination (link), the whole birther episode (weak evidence).

            Some evidence he might be sexist (misogynistic? not very nice to women?): various allegations related to various beauty pageants, alleged marital rape (link), demeaning comments about his ex-wife (link, money quote:”But it requires a particular breed of lowlife to advertise the sexual superiority of one’s mistress over the mother of one’s children.”), various demeaning public comments about women’s appearances in general.

            I’m not sure there’s much public evidence that he is xenophobic (in fact, there is some evidence to the contrary, as he is alleged to have employed undocumented workers in the past).

            I think there’s also a fair amount of evidence that he might be corrupt/dishonest: various pay-to-play scandals; also, apparently, his dad made him an illegal loan by buying $3.5 million in casino chips (link); Trump University shenanigans, Trump Foundation shenanigans.

          • “If Trump is neither racist nor xenophobic, then making peoples of certain races and nationalities targets of very unfortunate consequences is very reckless.”

            Are you assuming that he much cares about unfortunate consequences to strangers? If not, why is it reckless of him to do things that might produce them?

            If your point is that he does not seem to be a very nice person, I agree. Also true of Hilary. Probably not of Romney from what can tell about him. May or may not be true of Obama.

            But there is nothing reckless about A doing things that might produce consequences B disapproves of.

          • David Friedman:

            “But there is nothing reckless about A doing things that might produce consequences B disapproves of.”

            ????

            To my mind, “reckless” implies ignoring important risks. It implies a framework of objective truth.

            It’s not about mere disapproval.

            Also, prejudice does get people killed. It’s not that most prejudiced people are murderers, or even pro-murder. (Usually. Those cheery crowds watching lynchings really did happen.)

            Prejudice does affect the fringe. In the US, people have been murdered for being black, gay, Muslim, Jewish, police, and/or being in the presence of people in targeted groups. (List is probably incomplete.)

            Trump’s talk about Mexicans and Muslims is seriously irresponsible.

            By the way, GWB should get more credit than he does for trying to shut down anti-Muslim prejudice even if Islam isn’t a religion of peace.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            Unfortunately “irresponsible” has become just another word that means “you can’t say that!”. Can you be more explicit about just what responsibility you think Trump has, that his words result in his failing to uphold?

          • Corey says:

            If your point is that he does not seem to be a very nice person, I agree. Also true of Hilary. Probably not of Romney from what can tell about him. May or may not be true of Obama.

            There was some circumstantial evidence (e.g. from Miles Kimball) that Romney cared about the poor. Obviously he chose to de-emphasize that during his campaign 🙂

          • I believe that all people have a responsibility to not do verbal attacks on large groups of people. Public figures like Trump have a stronger responsibility to not do those attacks because their words are likely to have more effect.

          • Chalid says:

            @David Friedman

            I want to concur with various people above who think you’re taking an overly narrow view of these words.

            @FacelessCraven

            I don’t really see it as something where you have to weigh one against the other, as I doubt the president has any effect on your situation.

          • Chalid says:

            On the gay marriage comparison, morality is to some extent relative to the time. Even the most rabid SJW doesn’t think badly of someone 50 years ago not supporting gay marriage. To a first approximation you might say that Clinton and Obama came around to being pro-gay marriage around the same time as everyone else did, so they have roughly average views on the subject which are not especially worthy of praise or condemnation.

            Whereas Trump making up lies about Muslims cheering 9/11 is a pretty far outlier.

          • Loyle says:

            Are you assuming that he much cares about unfortunate consequences to strangers? If not, why is it reckless of him to do things that might produce them?

            But there is nothing reckless about A doing things that might produce consequences B disapproves of.

            I’m saying that If I’m running late for work, and so choose to drive my car really fast and ignore traffic rules and that would result in my success in reaching my destination on time, I cannot argue with the judge “I can’t be guilty of reckless endangerment. My continued employment is important to me. The random others on the road did not concern me in the slightest.”

            Saying Trump isn’t reckless for not caring about the welfare of Muslims or whoever whenever anything he says could inadvertently bring harm to them is either using a meaningless definition of “reckless”, or a non-central one. Either way, it’s dishonest to use as a counter in order to deflect a particular negative attribute to him.

          • Matt M says:

            “Even the most rabid SJW doesn’t think badly of someone 50 years ago not supporting gay marriage. ”

            Today this is true, but will it always be?

            It seems to me that in 1900 there was no particular demand to tear down statues of Robert E Lee because he supported slavery.

            In 1950 there was no demand to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from buildings because he supported racism.

            Barring some sort of huge change in the direction of the culture war, I predict that by 2050 there will be more than a few people demanding George Bush (both of them) be treated as historical pariahs for the crime of not supporting gay marriage.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            In that case, we simply disagree. I don’t think either Hillary’s attacks on Trump supporters or Trump’s attacks on Mexican illegal immigrants are per-se “irresponsible”.

          • The Nybbler:

            We are not at the point (and I hope we never will be) where people get killed because of preferring a candidate or a party. (Thanks for the nightmare.)

            People do get killed for their race and/or religion.

          • DrBeat says:

            Even the most rabid SJW doesn’t think badly of someone 50 years ago not supporting gay marriage.

            They do exactly and specifically that.

          • LHN says:

            E.g., the “Young People Read Old SF” blog series does seem to have a recurring theme of finding older writers wanting and blameworthy for not meeting the reviewers’ current standards re feminism, inclusion, diversity, ableism, etc.

          • Chalid says:

            @DrBeat

            Even the most rabid SJW doesn’t think badly of someone 50 years ago not supporting gay marriage.

            They do exactly and specifically that.

            Cite?

            (And c’mon, you had to know you’d be asked, could you just save everyone the trouble next time?)

            @LHN

            Not familiar with the blog you’re referencing, but I’d note that there’s a big difference between thinking badly of somebody for being on the wrong side of a past moral controversy (which is often defensible) versus thinking badly of somebody for not being forward-thinking enough to realize that a controversy might even exist.

          • “To my mind, “reckless” implies ignoring important risks.”

            But “risk” has built into it a judgement of what matters.

            A reckless act is an act which it should be obvious to the person taking it may have effects he considers very bad. It isn’t reckless to take an act that may have very bad effects for reasons you are entirely unaware of. It isn’t reckless to take an act that may have effects that other people consider bad but you don’t.

            Take a non-political case. Contact with the New World by people from the Old World set off a series of plagues which killed an enormous number of people, possibly as much as ninety percent of the population of the New World. Does that make the decision to land on the New World reckless, given that the people who made that decision had no reason to expect such a consequence?

            Darwin’s publication of The Origin of Species removed one of the strongest arguments for believing in God. From the standpoint of a believer that had enormous negative consequences, resulted in hundreds of millions of people going to Hell who would otherwise have been saved. Assume, for the sake of the argument, that Darwin was an atheist (my guess is he wasn’t). Would his publication have been reckless. Would it be proper for the religious believer (assume he knew Darwin was an atheist) to call it reckless?

          • David Friedman, the Europeans who went to the new world had no way whatsoever of knowing they were bringing epidemics.

            I think Darwin had some idea he was undercutting religious faith, though I suspect he had no idea how far it would go.

            Modern people have plenty of evidence that malicous descriptions of large groups of people can lead to murder.

          • Schmendrick says:

            I’m only one person, but I can testify that in my constitutional law class last spring the conversation was several times derailed by impassioned and earnest pleas from several of the more SJW-aligned students that the whole American constitutional system was so shot-through with classism, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia that it was irrevocably tainted, discussion on its terms made one complicit in its repugnant moral assumptions about society and humanity, and thus it all should be junked instanter. Additionally, the professor probably averted several other similar outbursts by frequently prefacing discussion of SJW-opposed doctrines and historical periods with some variation of “I know this is not ideal, and that many of the opinions here are deeply problematic and flawed, but this is the law of the land so we have to understand it.”

          • brad says:

            Every con law class ever is derailed by one or two students who won’t shut up. I don’t think the thousands and thousands of people that had to listen to not very well articulated fed soc speeches in con law classes let that determine their presidential votes.

          • Schmendrick says:

            Brad – I absolutely agree that every law school class – not just con-law – has its whackadoodles, and my vote wasn’t swayed by their speeches. However, I do think my experience is good evidence that there are SJWs completely willing to denounce people in the past for holding then-acceptable moral and social views which have since been shoved out of the Overton Window.

        • PGD says:

          Re Trump being “complete gibberish” — A recent piece in the Atlantic said that Trump’s supporters take him “seriously but not literally” while his opponents take him “literally but not seriously”. Since Trump uses a lot of irony, hyperbole, sarcasm, and personal insults, all forms of rhetoric that have been effectively driven out of political discourse before him and assume a reading that is not strictly literal, this makes a huge difference in how you interpret him. E.g. saying “Hillary Clinton founded ISIS” is clearly literally false, but if taken seriously clearly also makes sense as a shorthand reference to the ways in which she arguably contributed to the growth of ISIS during her time as SoS and due to policies she favored and championed (regime change in Libya accompanied by heavy arms supplies, arming Syrian rebels, and something-or-other about Iraq depending on your politics). It is not really a fully convincing argument in the context of a phenomenon as complex as ISIS, but it makes more sense than “Donald Trump is a Russian spy” which pretty much unhinged. Of course, that line is being pushed not by Hillary herself but by campaign proxies. (That’s another important difference between Trump and traditional campaign rhetoric — his operation is lean so all his rhetoric comes from him instead of the traditional split between sedate speech by the candidate and over-the-top stuff planted with proxies).

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            This sounds about right, his “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” is actually roughly possible if “make Mexico pay for it” means cutting foreign aid, and trivial if “wall” means “fence”.

          • Matt M says:

            I feel like Trump has previously explained that the method by which they would pay for it is higher tariffs. Basically that he would say “look, either you cut us a check for this wall OR we are going to raise tariffs on you by a whole lot and use that money to build the wall, so you’ll end up paying for it anyway only first your economy will suffer significant damage”

            This doesn’t come up frequently because a detailed and logical explanation of his methods is just not Trump’s shtick, but it has been said and explained and everyone seems to just ignore it.

          • Corey says:

            @Matt: It was even more interesting. It was “cut us a check for the wall, or we cut off remittances via banking regulations”. And it would probably even work (temporarily; people are very innovative when it comes to routing around capital controls), be legal, and might not even require new regulation. IIRC it was defining money-transfer services like Western Union as “banks” subject to accountholder-citizenship requirements.

          • Matt M says:

            Corey,

            I forgot about that part.

            I do find it interesting that the same people who bash Trump for “not having details” routinely ignore/leave out instances in the past where he totally has provided details.

            Whether or not Trump’s “plan” for getting Mexico to pay for the wall will work or not is surely a matter of dispute, but the notion that he simply has no plan and is an idiot who thinks they will pay for it just because he tells them to is pretty clearly deceptive and dishonest.

          • hlynkacg says:

            That is an interesting distinction that seems obvious in hindsight.

      • anonymous now says:

        ” SSC may be a rationalist blog, but it’s also one built by someone who admittedly views blue-tribe as his outgroup (but, odd to me, never red-tribe”

        I don’t believe Scott wouldnt be able to sustain his blue-blaming cosmology if he lived in Tennessee (going on two years now i have yet to meet or hear of an SJW); or if he exposed himself to right-wing media which he would rather pretend doesnt exist, as it complicates the narrative.

        Easier to tear down a Vox article than defend one in the National Review.

        In this war of blue and red what falls through the gaps? What is always invisible to the people who use such a paradigm?

        Corporate Power. What unites Scott, and David Friedman, Peter Thiel and Bryan Caplan, et al. is a bottom-line commitment to preserving and expanding corporate power and private wealth. This is accompished primarily by never mentioning it, even while constantly denigrating all other social stakeholders which pose a threat to its dominance.

        http://billmoyers.com/content/the-powell-memo-a-call-to-arms-for-corporations/

        • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

          I don’t believe Scott wouldnt be able to sustain his blue-blaming cosmology if he lived in Tennessee (going on two years now i have yet to meet or hear of an SJW); or if he exposed himself to right-wing media which he would rather pretend doesnt exist, as it complicates the narrative.

          For better or for worse, that is already acknowledged in scott’s theory. He lives in such a bubble, that these people are as far to him, as islamic extremists are to your average “blue triber”, so they don’t seem relevant or important.

          Corporate Power. What unites Scott, and David Friedman, Peter Thiel and Bryan Caplan, et al. is a bottom-line commitment to preserving and expanding corporate power and private wealth. This is accompished primarily by never mentioning it.

          I sure hope you’re not bitter lefty anon, because this is an uncharacteristically paranoid comment.

        • The joke version is that the left tells the truth about business and the right tells the truth about government.

          Perhaps the ssc version is that business and government together operate as the jaws of Moloch.

        • Zakharov says:

          My impression of Scott is that he’s a progressive trying to improve the quality of the progressive movement. He criticizes Vox because he reads Vox, he doesn’t read Breitbart.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            He did a review on a Breitbart piece, once. You can look it up. 80% of the comments were people complaining about it being punching down somehow, because obviously criticising Breitbart is crossing the line into being meaaaan.

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            All my google results for site:ssc breitbart are lefties moaning in the comments that the other side is also allowed to have partisan journalists.
            Got any other keywords I could toss in to refine the search?

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/01/15/lies-damned-lies-and-the-media-part-6-of-∞/

            Of course, Stefan’s assessment is pretty damn wrong. There are a bunch of comments that questioned the equivalence of posting about terrible statistics from breitbart, which is a shitty conservative site, and from Vox, which is a pretty good liberal site (The usage of the word “Mean” was used in this context), but they didn’t consitute a majority of the comments.

        • Deiseach says:

          I’m sorry, I’m laughing at the idea of Scott being mentioned in the same breath as Peter Thiel as “committ(ed) to preserving and expanding corporate power and private wealth”. Why not throw in the Koch Brothers while we’re at it?

          Scott is a trainee doctor in psychiatry, who should soon be able to hang out his own shingle and move back to civilisation from the wilds of “Catholic hospital in the middle of the country”. He will then have the thrilling adventure of trying to get a foothold in having a practice of his own, maybe starting by persuading some established practice to let him be a partner.

          As a bloated plutocrat, he’s about the worst example you could pick – you were doing very nicely with your list of deplorables but that was a basic error.

          • Nicholas says:

            In America junior doctors are part of the plutocrat class.
            Being a JrDr isn’t any better than anywhere else, the bar to be a plutocrat is just that low. The general hollowing out of the Upper-Lower Class means that there’s very little light between “upper-class twit” and “meth addict living in a house with a dozen people”. With 0% of anyone self identifying as upper-class twits, plutocrat is defined as “no one you know is hooked on meth”.

          • John Schilling says:

            What do you mean by “plutocrat class”?

            I’d tend to limit that to what Church called the E1, or maybe E1&E2 combined, and the junior doctors certainly aren’t there. I don’t think they are in the Elite hierarchy at all, and while there might be a case for putting them in E4 I think it is pretty weak.

            If what you are saying is just that junior doctors are in the class of people that can expect to make six-figure salaries someday, I think that is uninteresting and a gross misuse of the word “plutocrat”.

            If you are arguing some other point, I’m missing it and you might want to try a more careful explanation.

          • Edward Morgan Blake says:

            With 0% of anyone self identifying as upper-class twits, plutocrat is defined as “no one you know is hooked on meth”.

            I can name five people in my larger looser social circle of people who go to the same social events I do, who made more $250,000/year, and who have Obama and Hillary stickers on their cars, who have destroyed or are destroying their lives and their families lives with dextroamphetamine and methamphetamine.

          • Nicholas says:

            To use Church’s taxonomy:
            All of Elite, The top three categories of Gentry, the top 75% of the bottom category of Gentry, the top half of the top category of Labor. That’s the “plutocrat” class, defined as a group that is primarily concerned with ensuring that all loss of wealth and social costs fall on the Labor class, and exercises primarily economic power in service to that goal.

          • John Schilling says:

            @Nicholas: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

          • Deiseach says:

            Nicholas, I would say that Scott is a nice middle-class boy (even with aspirations to the upper-middle class in time, should his career in psychiatry prove fruitful and he get a nice practice in California) – like the joke about the Cork woman whose son fell into the river Lee and she ran along shouting for “Help, help, my son the doctor* is drowning!”

            But putting him in the same income bracket and sphere of influence as Thiel et al is rather pushing it, don’t you think? And I don’t agree with the “gentry” classification; doctors, lawyers, etc. were not members of the gentry as such, they were members of the professions which served the gentry. Certainly not trade or labour, but in that fuzzy area of ‘not quite a gentleman but not quite not, either’. Granted, this has blurred over time, but “plutocrat” to my ears strikes a different note: someone with not alone a good chunk of wealth but access to the machinery of power, be that as an employer/entrepreneur/techocratic innovator (the Ironmasters of the Industrial Revolution) – which is where Thiel comes in – or political influence, again either as part of the government or as wealthy donor to the party coffers.

            A junior doctor who is entering a career in psychiatry and will (please God) be a nice, middle-class, reasonably comfortably-off liberal in his turn is not a plutocrat.

            *Or, depending on version, “lawyer” or “accountant”.

          • Deiseach

            *Upper* middle class, I should hope.

          • LHN says:

            Physicians were gentlemen (dining with the family, not the servants, paid indirectly to avoid the embarrassment of being seen to accept money, etc.), but university educated physicians were a minority of medical practitioners.

            Surgeons were a rung below, having served an apprenticeship rather than going to university. (In the UK, as I understand it, they’re called Mister rather than Doctor in what’s now reversed snobbery.) Apothecaries were lower still, and weren’t really supposed to practice medicine (though they did, making calls in addition to compounding remedies); they largely merged with surgeons in the later 19th century. The apothecaries’ role as dispensers of materia medica was replaced by the more recently emerged (and lower-ranking) pharmacists/chemists.

            (And of course there were people in the community who knew how to set bones or deliver children, but who didn’t any sort of formal recognition.)

          • dndnrsn says:

            A plutocrat is, by literal definition, someone who rules by (or, uh, in the cause of? Someone with better Greek than me step in please) wealth.

            Do doctors, lawyers, professors, etc rule? They certainly do well financially (doctors and lawyers more than professors) and are influential as groups. But are they major sources of the leadership classes? Lawyers, maybe, but most lawyers don’t end up as judges or whatever.

          • aitch reasoner says:

            Scott is an exceptional writer. He is regularly celebrated at all the plutocrat-funded think tanks. Both for last years anti-SJW homerun(s) and the new spirit of libertarian fed-upness which we’ve seen as of late. Scott is not in love with being a psychiatrist. The market for persuasive writing is…lucrative to say the least. Scott’s value as a crafter of argumentation dwarfs his value as a doctor or as a writer of fiction. If you think he’s not on every techno-billionaires list of intellectuals to “cultivate” you really are naive . But you’ve just probably never played the tape out.

          • “He is regularly celebrated at all the plutocrat-funded think tanks.”

            Not that I’ve noticed. I gave a luncheon talk for Cato in SF just Friday and I didn’t see him anywhere around. Didn’t even hear anyone mention him.

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            That’s just proof they’re cultivating him super secretly, DUH.
            Scott will be a perfect cryptoplutocrat once he masters the evil laugh, and the whole “stop telling the truth” thing.

          • dndnrsn says:

            So where are all the people getting rich writing this stuff? Or, forget even rich, the sort of pseudo-journalists who write books and get stuff published in the Guardian probably top out at upper middle class.

            There are ideologies that people get paid to reproduce, whether as a journalist, a professor, whatever – but this ain’t one of them.

        • Wency says:

          I’d be curious where you are in TN. In Nashville, I met plenty of SJWs.

          In Nashville, within the tabletop community, you can meet all types — ranging from crossdressing gay LARPers to devout Baptists. In Bluer places, I’ve encountered representatives of the first group, but never the latter.

          I was kicked out of a Nashville D&D group for telling them that I voted for Bush in ’04, when asked. I never made any other political statements, but they considered it unconscionable and didn’t want to play with me any more.

    • Wrong Species says:

      It is really weird. When I see people here defending him, they are projecting reasonable positions on to him that he has never said in this very lawyer-like manner. By all reasonable interpretations, Trump said X but they’ll argue, unconvincingly to anyone but themselves, that he actually said Y. How is anyone supposed to argue against that?

      • Schmendrick says:

        Not to put words in anyone else’s mouth, but at least when *I* do it it’s because I never supported Trump because of what he actually said – I supported Trump because of who hated him. Unfortunately, this isn’t an acceptable or productive stance, especially talking with friends or quasi-friends: “I like him because people like you hate him” is a great way to piss people off. So, to save face, out comes the sophistry and apologetics.

    • Matt M says:

      “Do you USA types realise how he looks to the rest of the planet?”

      Feature not bug

    • Nadja says:

      BTW, I never actually realized there were so many other Trump supporters on here. Cool. Maybe we should do a meet-up? Make rationality great again? 😉

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Doesn[‘]t it matter that he comes across as a rabid chimp? Do you USA types [realize] how he looks to the rest of the planet?

      That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

      One of the big reasons, arguably the biggest reason, people here support Trump is because his bombastic way of speaking and invincibility in the face of accusations of bigotry are eroding PC norms. If we have Trump presidency, the chattering classes in America and Europe will have to spend four to eight years listening very closely to someone who sounds like your blue collar uncle after a few too many beers. Hopefully that will make it more acceptable to have intelligent conversations (conversation as in a dialogue, not a sermon) about class and ethnicity that are presently forbidden.

      Beyond that, a lot of us are sick to death of eurotrash with beams in their eyes weighing in on the supposed deficits of our culture and politics. Don’t like Trump? Too bad, go vote in your own elections then.

      • tumteetum says:

        You’re voting for Trump cos then you’ll be able to talk about stuff you currently cant? Ok, if you say so.

        >eurotrash

        Nice.

        I wish it were as simple as you do your thing, we’ll do ours, but the USA has a rather large influence, so its not that straightforward.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          I wish it were as simple as you do your thing, we’ll do ours, but the USA has a rather large influence, so its not that straightforward.

          Well then you should be thrilled that Trump is running.

          “Invade the world, invite the world” is the neoconservative and neoliberal rallying cry. Trump is no Jefferson, but he cleaves closer to the essential principle of “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

          Dismantling the so-called American Empire is a big plank of his campaign, and probably why he’s so feared and hated by the establishment.

          • Aegeus says:

            He’s anti-NATO and anti-EU, sure, but he’s the one who talks the most about building up our military and bombing ISIS back to the stone age. I’m not convinced he’s any less “invade the world” than his contemporaries.

            (And that’s a mild formulation, that assumes all his really crazy statements were just hyperbole. I could also point out that he’s said nukes aren’t off the table for fighting ISIS, we should go after terrorists’ families, and that we should have taken Iraq’s oil for ourselves. None of that sounds like a man who wants fewer Middle East adventures.)

            Also, if you care about peace in general, then “Sure, he’s breaking up the biggest deterrent force in the Western Hemisphere, but at least America specifically won’t be part of the next war!” is not reassuring in the slightest.

          • Sandy says:

            The next American President, whoever that is, doesn’t have the option of just ignoring ISIS, so that is one Middle East adventure that we will have to go on anyway. Ordinarily I’d say let Russia and Iran kill everyone so Assad can stay, but ISIS has killed Americans abroad and on U.S. soil so America should be involved in Baghdadi’s extermination. Beyond that, I don’t think there should be any more Middle East adventures, and I haven’t heard Trump advocating for more. I have no doubt Clinton would insist on the necessity of spreading democracy in the Arab world, a goal I am adamantly opposed to.

            Is taking Iraq’s oil such an outrageous policy? Because that is precisely what Clinton’s advisers were advocating for Libya back when she was Secretary of State.

          • Matt M says:

            “doesn’t have the option of just ignoring ISIS”

            Citation needed. They CERTAINLY have the OPTION of doing so. What you mean to say is that you don’t think that’s a very good option. Which I would also disagree with, but still…

          • Sandy says:

            Ok, I suppose they do technically have the option of ignoring ISIS. But depending on which brand of motivated reasoning you listen to, the rise of ISIS is all Bush’s fault/Obama’s fault, so I think it’s only fair that a President who subscribes to one of those views (which Trump does, given that he blames the rise on ISIS on Obama’s foreign policy) would feel honor-bound to clean up his predecessor’s mess. Or the whole “ISIS has killed some of us and wants to kill many more, so we have to wipe them out” sentiment that probably has a lot of appeal for Trump.

            What I can’t see Trump doing post-ISIS is demanding the replacement of systems that work with systems that satisfy the liberal internationalist order, which Clinton would most certainly do the way she and her ilk did in Libya.

          • Matt M says:

            “so I think it’s only fair that a President who subscribes to one of those views (which Trump does, given that he blames the rise on ISIS on Obama’s foreign policy) would feel honor-bound to clean up his predecessor’s mess.”

            My position on this would be that there’s a non-zero chance the best way to “clean up the mess” is, in fact, to ignore them. That the odds are overwhelmingly good that whatever interventionist method we pick to “solve the problem” will end up making things worse.

            Source: The last 50 years

          • John Schilling says:

            The next American President, whoever that is, doesn’t have the option of just ignoring ISIS, so that is one Middle East adventure that we will have to go on anyway.

            I’d almost say the next American President doesn’t have any option but to ignore ISIS. He or she will probably do some strident televised posturing on the subject, but nothing of real consequence.

            Ordinarily I’d say let Russia and Iran kill everyone so Assad can stay,

            That’s going to happen whether you say so or not. That’s going to happen whether the next President says so or not.

            but ISIS has killed Americans abroad and on U.S. soil so America should be involved in Baghdadi’s extermination.

            Oh, if all you are talking about is the Bin-Ladinesque manhunt for one has-been loser who no longer matters, sure, we might be able do that. If Baghdadi doesn’t decide to go down in a blaze of glory at the Fall of Raqqa, though if he does there will presumably be some titular successor we can hunt down. I thought you were talking about stuff that mattered.

            Mosul and Raqqa will probably not have been fallen by 20 January 2017, but they will be besieged, and by people who ultimately take orders from Moscow and Tehran. No US President is going to risk open conflict with those powers for the sake of having U.S. Army troops march triumphantly through the streets of ISIS’s last city when it falls. If we insist, they’ll let us drop some of the bombs in the preparatory bombardment, again, that’s not stuff that matters.

            The window of opportunity for the US to strike a decisive blow against ISIS and/or shape the postwar futures of Syria and Iraq is pretty much closed. The next POTUS will have to deal with entirely different crises, which may or may not involve the problem of Syria and Iraq being ruled by Russian and Iranian puppet regimes. If you’re judging the candidates specifically by their anti-ISIS policies, that’s just silly.

        • Garrett says:

          I always find it interesting that people complain about the US influence over the world, and then seem to want us to make changes.
          Why not change your country to be more like the US so that you, too, can have a large influence?

          • Sandy says:

            European countries can’t do that without being accused of neocolonialism. China actually does complain about American influence and act on those complaints as well.

          • Nicholas says:

            When you do, you get put on the “Axis of Evil” American corporations boycott you, American diplomats get your trading partners to sanction you, and the US Marines bring Explosive Democracy to your country.

          • Schmendrick says:

            When you do, you get put on the “Axis of Evil” American corporations boycott you, American diplomats get your trading partners to sanction you, and the US Marines bring Explosive Democracy to your country.

            Or, if you’re Russia, a major party’s nominee for President has a slightly obnoxious man-crush on your strongman, while the other party is annoyed at you for cultural reasons but is ideologically barred from actually posing a real challenge to your power politics.

      • Maz says:

        Whenever the media attack Trump, his reaction is essentially to say, “OH YEAH? FUCK YOU TOO!” He treats all criticism as a personal attack, and that works because in fact much of the time the criticisms, even if ostensibly about issues, ARE primarily personal attacks, and treating them as such makes sense.

      • Stefan Drinic says:

        Fuck you too, Amerifat.

      • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

        eurotrash

        The state of the art term is yuropoor, get on with the program.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        “eurotrash”
        I thought we’d agreed last thread that it was only leftists called rightists nasty words. Regardless, pejoratives are by definition unkind, rarely necessary, and in this case lack a truth value.

      • Anonymouse says:

        >four to eight years listening very closely to someone who sounds like your blue collar uncle after a few too many beers. Hopefully that will make it more acceptable to have intelligent conversations

        How does this make any sense? How does somebody talking like an ignorant jackass make intelligent conversation more likely?

        Also I dunno if the Trumpers here subscribe to the niceness norm Scott advocated, Trump sure doesn’t. So if you want a niceness norm he’s a bad choice.

        • Sandy says:

          I’m not sure a niceness norm is an option, given that the other side increasingly seems to believe that they are ascendant and therefore they do not have to nice to their opponents anymore.

        • Fahundo says:

          Also I dunno if the Trumpers here subscribe to the niceness norm Scott advocated, Trump sure doesn’t. So if you want a niceness norm he’s a bad choice.

          Not a Trumper but there’s a big difference between valuing a space where niceness is the norm and thinking niceness should be the norm everywhere, at all times.

        • Anonymous says:

          four to eight years listening very closely to someone who sounds like your blue collar uncle after a few too many beers. Hopefully that will make it more acceptable to have intelligent conversations

          How does this make any sense? How does somebody talking like an ignorant jackass make intelligent conversation more likely?

          You missed the qualifier. Dr Dealgood (maybe not actually a real doctor) actually said:

          Hopefully that will make it more acceptable to have intelligent conversations … about class and ethnicity that are presently forbidden.

          Without that qualifier, it might not make so much sense. With that qualifier? People actually have to experience a class/ethnic divide and yet take a person somewhat seriously. (FTR, I don’t blame you too much for missing the qualifier, because it was hidden behind a parenthetical, but you probably should pay more attention.)

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Not a real doctor yet. And even once I get my degree I won’t be that sort of doctor anyway.

            My name is a Mad Max reference. The pic is awful but that’s the character.

            And yes, precisely. No platforming doesn’t work on the Leader of the Free WorldTM.

          • Deiseach says:

            No platforming doesn’t work on the Leader of the Free WorldTM.

            God help me, now I almost want a President Trump just to see this kind of thing happening with the people who were gushing over the Justin Trudeau/Barack Obama photo-ops. Just to hear the brain-melting screams of anguish from all the opinion columnists and editorialists. Will the Washington press corps to a person refuse to attend briefings from a president they don’t recognise as legitimate? Will the border with Canada be blocked by mass exodus of fleeing citizenry? (That new bridge is just in time!)

            Dr Dealgood, you naughty, naughty person, tempting me from the path of strict virtue! 🙂

    • hlynkacg says:

      In the spirit of charity I will assume the question is genuine… (though the rabid chimp bit makes me wonder)

      First off, I would not say that a this is not a “rationalist blog” per se, yes our host does identify as a rationalist and he was a regular contributor to LessWrong but the topics here are more diffuse and the commentariat more diverse. We have Hillary Supporters and we have Trump supporters, we have Labour and Torries, and we have Communists and An-caps. and for the most part nobody tries to stab anyone else. I would argue that this is a good thing.

      Finally to answer your question, there is an impression among a significant subset of Americans, primarily the rural working class, colloquially referred to as “the red tribe” that our current political establishment as personified by people like Bush and Clinton have not been looking out for American interests. Trump is the red tribe’s “middle finger” to the political establishment and “all those foreign assholes” who’ve been taking advantage of Americans’ patience, blood, and treasure.

      You see people defending him here because this is one of the few “safe spaces” on the internet where red tribers, blue tribers, and non-americans can interact without knives drawn.

      I’d like to think that SSC is the culture war’s version of Checkpoint Charlie or the Christmas Truce.

      • Gazeboist says:

        I’d argue (though I am an outsider) that Trump is the Red Tribe breaking up in response to an environment that’s been changing since the Reagan era, and that the emergence of the “Grey Tribe” and other* ex- or psuedo-Blue factions is the same thing.

        * To the extent that the Grey Tribe is ex-Blue. Arguably, it has some ex-Reds and some ex-Blues.

        • Schmendrick says:

          I agree, though from my position it looks more like the ACTUAL Red Tribe breaking out from under the leadership of those who espoused “Red” policies and appealed to “Red” norms, but themselves preferred to be culturally “Blue;” living in coastal metropolises, working in service industries or the media, sending their kids to ritzy schools, etc.

          • LHN says:

            By lining up behind a guy who lives in a coastal metropolis, leveraged his way into fame by putting his name on service industries (hotels, casinos) and media properties, and hobnobbed largely with the culturally “Blue” (including his current opponent). For the outsider candidate, he’s remarkably insidery.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            and yet they rage.

          • hlynkacg says:

            For the outsider candidate, he’s remarkably insidery.

            They’re lining up behind him because he has a critical trait that that all the other candidates thus far have lacked. He fights.

          • Schmendrick says:

            By lining up behind a guy who lives in a coastal metropolis, leveraged his way into fame by putting his name on service industries (hotels, casinos) and media properties, and hobnobbed largely with the culturally “Blue” (including his current opponent). For the outsider candidate, he’s remarkably insidery.

            Ah yes, but he rambles. He rages. He’s inarticulate. He talks in vague, self-satisfied generalities. He’s super-tacky, and seems to take pride in the fact. He’s not a person you can plausibly imagine talking knowledgeably about hot yoga, shopping at Whole Foods, or being up on the latest prestige TV show. He’s a lout, a pig, and a boor. None of these are Blue traits, and indeed seem almost calculated to maximally piss off Blues.

          • Gazeboist says:

            He’s not a person you can plausibly imagine talking knowledgeably about hot yoga, shopping at Whole Foods, or being up on the latest prestige TV show. He’s a lout, a pig, and a boor. None of these are Blue traits, and indeed seem almost calculated to maximally piss off Blues.

            Huh. I don’t see those as being Blue universals at all. Intellectual posturing is, and there’s a projection of calm detachment that’s close to being universal, but not these in particular. I see the Blue Tribe as an alliance composed of the following:

            (1) People strongly in favor of civil liberties, but not necessarily suspicious of bureaucracy/government.
            (2) The Social Justice Left and its immediate predecessors (the more revolutionary leftist groups from the 60s-80s or so).
            (3) The “old left” or Social Democrats, who think the US should import systems used in Scandanavia or Britain, and are huge fans of FDR.
            (4) Minorities (racial and otherwise) who feel they have no alternative choice, even if they might prefer another group.
            (5) Rich (but rarely massively so) New England WASPs and their counterparts elsewhere who want low-effort prestige for charity and diversity.

            Groups 1 and 3 have major technocratic subsets, but neither is entirely technocrat-run, and they have different (if aligned at times) goals. Group 5 donates heavily to the others.

            These groups are united mostly by being vaguely urban or dense suburban. During the heyday of the Blue Tribe, these groups mixed to an extent and had pretty fuzzy borders. Group 2, especially, mostly recruited from the other four groups, rather than raising their children as successors, and Group 5 donated membership (and donates still) to all of them (except those parts of Group 4 for which it doesn’t make sense). Now, though, Group 1 has mixed with full libertarians and split off to form the Grey Tribe, and Group 2 has started attacking all the rest. That breakup, I think, mostly happened during Obama’s first term. Many members of these groups pulled together briefly in 2012, but it was much weaker, and the divisions ultimately got worse.

            Sanders was an avatar of Group 3’s non-technocrat subset; he also managed to capture a bunch of Groups 2 and 5. His problem was that he mostly failed to appeal to the technocrats, in his own group, and lost pretty badly among Group 4. Clinton is a compromise candidate; she has Obama’s name to help in Group 4 (not that she really needs that help in the general), but otherwise doesn’t appeal all that well to any of these groups. I’d guess she fits with Group 5, which shows when she reads off Group 2 talking points without really considering them, but there’s an argument to be made that she’s originally from Group 3.

            The cultural markers in the quote up top seem to mostly describe Groups 3 and 5, as well as the members they donated to Group 2. Group 1 likes being “weird” too much to focus on prestige TV or upper middle class fads like yoga and Whole Foods, and Group 4 has half a dozen different cultures in it, none of which do any of that. Group 2 might, but it’s more likely to get pissed off at Whole Foods for some heresy, or declare westerners doing yoga to be cultural imperialists.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ hlynkacg
            >> For the outsider candidate, he’s remarkably insidery.

            > They’re lining up behind him because he has a critical trait that that all the other candidates thus far have lacked. He fights.

            Heh. So does Hillary; they both seem to enjoy it. Hillary too has sort of a low-class whang to her. In 08, she had a famous ‘Rally in the Rain’, and trying to get Obama to debate she said “I’ll debate you anytime, anywhere. I’ll debate you on the back of a flat-bed truck!”

            She’s had several prestigeous titles, but strkes me as an outsider type. Always criticized, passed over by the Dems in 08. It’s odd to hear her criticized as ‘the Anointed One’ this year; I supposed the reason there weren’t many good candidates in either primary, was because they were all scared to run against her.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      A ton of pepe the frog people here.

      • hlynkacg says:

        Well meme’d my friend.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        I believe the proper term of venery here is a “basket of deplorables.”

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          Not a “bundle of deplorables” (referencing the fasces)?

          • Lumifer says:

            The fasces which are stronger together..?

          • LHN says:

            Some months before “Stronger Together” was unveiled as the Clinton campaign motto, it was the title of a Supergirl episode. I always wondered if there was a connection; it wouldn’t surprise me if people in the campaign were watching the very girl-power heavy show. (The president in the show was pronoun-checked as a woman early on. It’s since been announced that she’ll be played by Lynda Carter, which is a nice touch.)

            In the episode, it’s revealed that the phrase (in Kryptonian) is what the sigil Supergirl (and Superman) wear represents. (Because after most of a lifetime of it being obviously “S for Super”, they’ve decided they need to get creative about it.) Supergirl explains it as the reason she needs her sidekicks friends. This is in contrast to Superman, who wasn’t raised within the House of El and (at least in this show) tends to operate alone.

            But the main villain at the time is Supergirl’s aunt. She’s also shown invoking it in the episode, to justify her domination of her fellow crashed space-criminals.

            At the time, I thought that was actually a nice parallel to the way the fasces are widely used in American republican iconography[1], but also serve as the symbol of the eponymous political tendency.

            [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasces#Fasces_in_the_United_States

          • brad says:

            For a little while after “Stronger Together” came out I thought it taken directly from the anti-Scotland independence campaign. Then I looked it up and that was “Better Together”. Still pretty close.

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            Superman’s costume being a remnant of krypton and being his family crest dates back to the first movie, (It was Brando’s idea).

            It was originally just an “S” however.

            For more trivia, the superman and Batman outfits with the underwear on the outside are based on circus performer’s outfits (think acrobats).

          • LHN says:

            Well, Brando wanted to wear the S. I suspect that the details (like giving the other council members different but analogous symbols) were left to others. But the idea largely lay fallow after that for a couple of decades.

            (In the comics of the Silver and Bronze Ages, Kryptonians did sometimes wear symbols on their chests, but Jor-El’s was a first a ringed planet, and later and most frequently a sun.)

            There was also an odd story around 1980 (“The Sword of Superman”) that had the symbol preexisting Krypton itself and going back to the beginnings of the universe. But there wasn’t any followup to that.

          • keranih says:

            …I was always more a fan of the Batclan than Sups, but wasn’t it a thing that the S stood for “Scientist” at one point? (I want credit for having a fridge moment at the tender age of 10 or so, and going, what, they used the English alphabet? How does that work??)

          • LHN says:

            @keranih I don’t remember that one. That said, while I have way more brain cells than is reasonable storing Superman-related trivia (e.g., varieties of kryptonite, members of the Legion of Super-Pets, etc.), I’m certainly not going to categorically say that it was never stated to mean that in 78 years, across multiple media.

          • Edward Morgan Blake says:

            Superman’s costume being a remnant of krypton and being his family crest dates back to the first movie, (It was Brando’s idea).

            I thought it was Elliot S! Maggin’s idea, and predated the first Reeves Superman movie.

          • LHN says:

            I don’t think so– Maggin is the one who wrote the “Sword of Superman” story I mentioned (where the symbol first shows up on a primordial sword destined for Kal-El’s hand). But IIRC, he still stuck with the idea that it was devised by the Kents when Martha made the costume out of Clark’s Kryptonian baby blankets.

            (Usually implicitly Martha, but in “The Sword of Superman”, she intends a standard S until the familiar symbol is somehow placed in Jonathan’s mind by the sword.)

            In old Silver/Bronze Age continuity, it couldn’t be a familiar symbol on Krypton (and certainly not of the El family), since Superman time-traveled back to Krypton in costume and spent time with Jor-El and Lara. He used his real (Kryptonian) name and claimed to be a distant cousin. But they didn’t know he was related until he said so– clearly he wasn’t wearing a family crest.

            (His outfit was explained as a “space costume” relating to the movie set he’d conveniently landed in. Not that it was all that different from typical Kryptonian garb of that era.)

            (Then after the 80s reboot, Kryptonians wore all-covering bodysuits and didn’t go in for families, let alone family symbols.)

          • keranih says:

            @LHN –

            I swear to god, I remember that whole S is for Scientist thing.

            But if you don’t remember it, I dunno how to justify it.

          • LHN says:

            No need to justify it– I’m not denying your lived experience. 😉 Even after decades it wouldn’t be the first belated surprise.

            I mean, it was only in the last year or so that I found out about the time Superman dressed as a giant mynah bird in order to terrorize his next door neighbors’ pet. (A pet, I hasten to add, who was innocent of any crime.)

            http://www.cbr.com/i-love-ya-but-youre-strange-that-time-superman-dressed-as-a-giant-bird-to-protect-his-secret-i-d/

            [ETA My wife, looking over my shoulder: “Where did he even get a giant mynah bird suit?”]

    • Furslid says:

      I’m not a Trump supporter, but this is my best argument for him.

      The status quo sucks. There are many problems with the status quo that persist regardless of which party is in power.

      How much has actual policy changed under Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama changed? On immigration? On military interventions? On alliances with oppressive foreign regimes? On the war on drugs? On mass imprisonment? On crony capitalism?

      Hillary Clinton is very much part of the establishment. I don’t expect changes from her. The other major republican candidates were also part of the establishment. I didn’t expect changes from Cruz or Jeb Bush.

      Trump is not part of the establishment, and there is at least a chance of some change. The change might be for the better. Trump is a risky candidate (not necessarily unstable, but his policies are purposely vague and unknown), but a risky bet is better than a certain loss.

    • TMB says:

      I don’t think this is a troll, it’s third level persuasion.

      “I am an outsider and you must not do this”

      An excellent way of persuading people to do something and motivating your “opponents”: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3981823.stm

      Though, having said that, it is still sometimes used by liberals unironically (Obama/Brexit). Or maybe he was just creating the pretext for invasion?

    • Philosophisticat says:

      Trump supporters seem to fall into a few camps.

      1) People who accept that Trump is a nincompoop but who think that Hillary being president would be worse, because, say, her foreign policy is more of a known evil, the long term consequences of having another liberal supreme court justice are too dire, Trump wouldn’t be able to get his way on the worst stuff, etc.

      2) People who accept that Trump is a nincompoop but have a “want to see the world burn” kind of attitude, especially if it means dirty liberals get their knickers in a twist. (Maybe more charitably: they think the chaos of a Trump presidency will have some positive long term effect on the political arena).

      3) People who genuinely buy into the surface Trump sell – he’s a real tough strong guy who’s going to put America first against the Mexicans and the Chinese and use his ability to make Really Great Deals and not let weak liberal pansies stand in his way to fix things.

      4) People who think that Trump is actually a very clever man who merely puts on an act to appeal to the masses, and we shouldn’t confuse his persona, which they admit looks to the untrained eye like he’s an egotistical buffoon with no coherent political ideology or understanding of serious political issues, with the man himself. They agree with what they take Smart Trump’s real agenda to be.

      I think the people in 1) are wrong, but I understand them pretty well. I think the people in 2) are pretty disgusting, but I get them too. I have a hard time intellectually empathizing with the people in 3), but at least I know that the world is full of people who are dim and easily manipulable and I get that Trump’s persona has features that appeal to dim and easily manipulable people. The people in 4) are the ones I have the hardest time understanding. The group includes a lot of relatively thoughtful people, but it seems to me that there’s something deeply off about their ability to read people and evidence.

      Trump’s base is full of people in 3), but the demographics here tend to skew towards the other three groups.

      • TMB says:

        I would say I’m number 3 – I don’t think border control is insane or evil. I don’t think that vetting of immigrants is a bad idea. I think they are good ideas.

        So, I hereby challenge you to manipulate me in the opposite direction. Should be easy, right?

        • Philosophisticat says:

          I’m breaking up these groups according to the relationship between their decision to support Trump and what they think about his level of nincompoopery. If you think Trump is an egotistical irrational blowhard who lacks any advanced sense of policy, but support him anyway because you think heavy restriction on immigration is correct and important and you think he’s most likely to pursue it, then you would count as group 1, not group 3. If you think Trump is a really great smart competent guy (based on his surface persona and not some inference to a hidden and very different person underneath) then you’re group 3. I can’t tell from what you said which group you’re in.

          Anyway, being easily manipulable doesn’t mean anyone can manipulate you into anything – you might be primed to be manipulated in some directions but not others. In particular, the relevant manipulability here is being susceptible to Trump’s peculiar brand of charisma in forming judgments about his competence. If his pronouncements about how he’s going to make great deals, just really great deals, you’re just going to be blown away by how great these deals are going to be, fill you with confidence, then you count as the relevant kind of manipulable. If you independently agree with positions you think he’ll promote, that’s a different thing.

          (I do not have that particular brand of charisma, if I have any at all)

      • anonymous now says:

        I’m interested in the person who wants to see the world burn but thinks it wont burn them.

        Can anyone think of examples of this desire working itself out in the past?

        • Garrett says:

          Why does it need to not hurt them? Suicide-by-cop is a thing. Why can’t suicide-by-politician be a thing?

        • Jaskologist says:

          “I have a real problem with bullies. I spent my childhood moving from school to school and I got made fun of everyplace I landed. I feel like Paul is a bully and maybe that’s why I have no sympathy here. Someday every bully meets and even bigger bully and maybe that’s me in this case. It’s the same thing that happened with Jack Thompson. It might not always make the most business sense and it is a policy that has caused us some legal problems, but I really don’t give a s*** about that. When these assholes threaten me or Penny Arcade I just laugh. I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the f***ing ground if I think I can catch them in the flames.” – Gabe from Penny Arcade

          (I censored it for the sake of spam filters.)

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            When these assholes threaten me or Penny Arcade I just laugh. I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames.

            I miss that old Dickwolf attitude. Guess Gabe finally met bigger bullies.