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More Hardball Debate Questions

[See also Hardball Questions For The Next Debate. The Gary Johnson question is not original to me.]

Jill Stein:

You’re a former doctor and researcher who first got involved in politics because of your interest in public health. One of your first forays into activism was the 2000 publication of In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, a magisterial report on the effect of pollution on children’s physical and mental health. You described your focus as being on “developmental disabilities, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, and related neurodevelopmental diseases”. You describe “accumulating evidence of neurotoxic damage to children by environmental agents, such as lead and PCBs”.

In Chapter 7, you discuss the high burden of pesticides eaten by developing children, saying that:

Twenty million American children five and under eat an average of eight pesticides every day through food consumption. Thirty-seven pesticides registered for use on foods are neurotoxic organophosphate insecticides, chemically related to more toxic nerve warfare agents developed earlier this century…a national health exposure study detected chlorpyrifos residues (as the metabolite TCP) in the urine of 82% of a representative sample of American adults. A more recent study in Minnesota revealed that an even higher 92% of children had detectable levels of this metabolite in their urine.

You connect this increasing pesticide exposure to what you believe to be increasing levels of developmental disorders in American children:

The Cailfornia Department of Developmental Services released [a study] in March 1999 [that] looked at pervasive developmental disorders from 1987 through 1998 and showed a 210 percent increase in cases entered into the autism registry during those years. If the incidence of autism is increasing, and/or clusters of autism are being discovered, an environmental influence is likely.

Maybe as a result, you’ve become a big advocate of eating organic food. Your party platform says you want to “support organic and regenerative agriculture” and “put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe”. You presented a pro-organics case on Bill Moyers’ show back in 2012, and you’re even known for preparing your own organic meals on the campaign trail.

But there’s a lot of pushback from mainstream scientists and the mainstream media. For example, news webzine Vox has an interesting article Is Organic Food Any Healthier? Most Scientists Are Still Skeptical publicizing a meta-analysis of 237 studies which showed that “organic foods didn’t appear to be any healthier or safer to eat than their conventionally grown counterparts” and that “typical exposure to pesticide residues is at levels 10,000 to 10,000,000 times lower than doses that cause no observable effect in laboratory animals that are fed pesticides daily throughout their entire lifetimes”. Vox has also written Local And Organic Food Has Extra Safety Risks. Just Ask Chipotle. Vox’s spinoff webzine Eater even makes fun of customers looking for “natural” foods without having any idea what that means.

If they’re right, then you’re promoting an unscientific fad that has millions of people needlessly stressed out about everything they eat. On the other hand, if you’re right, then these media outlets’ pooh-poohing of a vital public health message makes them complicit in and maybe even responsible for what you call the “epidemic” of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.

So my question for you is: do you believe Vox ‘zines cause autism?

Hillary Clinton:

During your first debate with Donald Trump, the moderator asked you about racial bias in police shootings; you responded that “implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police”. You argued that you would “put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by police officers” and that we’ve “got to do everything possible to improve policing, to go right at implicit bias”. Your running mate Tim Kaine continued on the theme, saying that people shouldn’t be afraid to bring up police officers’ implicit biases.

This talk of implicit bias references a whole psychological field centered around the Implicit Association Test. It works like this: a subject sitting in front of a keyboard is shown rapid-fire pictures representing various categories – classically black people, white people, positive adjectives, and negative adjectives. They’re given various instructions about which keys to press in response to which categories, and their responses are timed. Many people will find that it’s easier to press the same key for white people and positive adjectives (and an opposite key for black people and negative adjectives) than to press the same key for whites+negatives and blacks+positives. This has been widely considered to show implicit racism – that is, even people who say they are not racist unconsciously associate black people with bad qualities. This research has become wildly popular, profiled in every major media outlet, and catapulted its inventors to scientific stardom. It’s even been featured on the Oprah Winfrey show, maybe a first for a social psych paper.

A few early small studies suggested the IAT predicted prejudiced behavior. But later attempts to replicate this result failed. Blanton, Jaccard, Klick, Mellers, Mitchell, Tetlock (2009) reanalyzed some of the original studies, found no effect, and complained that the IAT was being popularized despite an almost-complete lack of evidence for its validity. Oswald et al (2013) did a meta-analysis of 275 implicit association test results from 46 different studies and found that “IATs were poor predictors of every criterion category other than brain activity, and the IATs performed no better than simple explicit measures”. Carlsson and Agerstrom did another meta-analysis earlier this year, and found “the overall effect was close to zero and highly inconsistent across studies” and “there is…little evidence that the IAT can meaningfully predict discrimination, and we thus strongly caution against any practical applications of the IAT that rest on this assumption”.

You particularly mention the IAT as relevant to policing, but Dolan Group, a consulting firm which advises police forces how to avoid racial discrimination, did an internal analysis of results surrounding the IAT and reports to its clients that:

Persons who do not hold overt racist attitudes do not have to worry about some deeply-hidden, unknown, unconscious attitudes influencing their work decisions. These findings reveal the need to aggressively weed out officers who hold conscious racial stereotypes and biases in order to avoid biased-based policing. These findings also raise questions about whether the money and time spent on law enforcement training and testing regarding implicit bias could be put to better use on something else.

When you and your running mate suggest a focus on implicit bias as relevant to policing, this can really only be justified by taking the preliminary findings of a few small early studies and ignoring both more rigorous reanalysis of their results and the consensus finding of all studies and meta-analyses conducted since that time.

On the other hand, there still is something to be explained here: if the IAT isn’t analyzing implicit racial prejudice, why do people so consistently have an easier time associating black people with negative adjectives? I actually have a theory of my own about that. Consider claims like the following:

1. Black people were brutally enslaved for hundreds of years.
2. Black people are almost three times more likely than whites to live below the poverty line.
3. Black people are systematically being murdered by the criminal justice system.
4. Black people are frequent victims of racism and hate crimes.
5. Our society is set up to structurally discriminate against black people.

None of these claims are racist per se; in fact, many of them are anti-racist in intent. But all of them connect black people to negative affect! If your local newspaper says that white people usually have friendly and positive interactions with the police but black people are victimized and killed by police, that is some heavy association of whites with positive feelings and blacks with negative feelings. If you usually see photos of white people in the news under the headline “LOCAL BUSINESS BOUGHT BY GOOGLE”, and photos of blacks in the news under the headline “LEARN HOW OUR RACIST SOCIETY KEPT THIS POOR WOMAN FROM SUCCEEDING” then once again, you’re learning to associate whites with positive feelings and blacks with negative feelings.

This would explain very nicely why people taking the IAT generally associate whites with positive feelings and blacks with negative feelings in a way apparently unrelated to whether they are explicitly prejudiced/racist. It would also explain very nicely why about 50% of blacks associate whites with positive feelings and blacks with negative feelings, which is definitely a thing that happens and which previous explanations of have always sounded unconvincing and ad hoc.

But from your debate statements, it sounds like you are absolutely opposed to this reinterpretation. That you are committed to defending the position that implicit bias is a real predictor of racism, and that Implicit Association Tests don’t just report contingent associations drilled in by the media, but genuinely reveal profound unconscious beliefs about how the world works.

So my question for you is: would you be willing to take an Implicit Association Test measuring how easily you associate your own name vs. your opponents’ names with the adjective “crooked”?

Gary Johnson:

If you were elected, what would you do about the ongoing crisis in Updog?

Donald Trump:

You’re well-known for your boast that you “hire the best people”. And one of those best people is Steve Bannon, the CEO of your campaign. When Bannon took over on August 17th, 538 had you at only a 12% chance of winning; after he was running your campaign for a month, you were up to 40%. Although you’ve since crashed back down, a lot of political observers attribute what successes you’ve had to Bannon and what problems you’ve had to your own big mouth. You seem to recognize his utility, calling him one of “the best talents in politics, with the experience and expertise needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in November”.

Before he joined your campaign, Bannon was best known for his role leading far-right news website Breitbart. But he was actually involved in some pretty interesting stuff when he was younger. In particular, in 1993 Bannon was the acting director of the famous environmental science experiment Biosphere 2.

Biosphere 2 was an attempt to create a self-sustaining closed ecosystem capable of supporting human life, possibly with applications for future space travel. It was actually the first such attempt – it was called “Biosphere 2” because the first such self-sustaining biosphere was the Earth itself. Eight “crew members” entered the facility along with various plants and animals, the airlocks were sealed, and for a year everyone tried to do what they could to keep the various species and environmental parameters in balance.

It didn’t work; CO2 levels started fluctuating wildly, soil microbes surged out of control, ants and cockroaches overran the facility, oxygen dropped to worrying levels, and the experiment was stopped early out of concern for crew health. They decided to try a second mission, and that was when they had a change in management and brought on Mr. Bannon as director.

Unfortunately, a lot of the crew members really didn’t like Bannon and his team. Possibly some of it had to do with an incident where a crew member submitted a list of safety complaints and Bannon threatened to “shove it down her f**king throat”. It got so bad that some of the crew deliberately vandalized the Biosphere, causing gas exchange between the inside and the outside and ruining the scientific value of the experiment. Although they probably could have tried again, by that time lawsuits and financial mismanagement had sapped their funding, and they finally sold the whole thing off to Columbia University as a research campus.

So my question for you is: in all of history, there have only been two self-sufficient ecosystems capable of maintaining human life. Your team has already destroyed one of them. The other is Earth. How scared should we be?

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359 Responses to More Hardball Debate Questions

  1. Zubon says:

    For just a moment, I thought you said that the director of Trump’s campaign directed a sequel to Biodome.

  2. an anonymous user says:

    you’re even known for preparing your own organic mealsIs Organic Food Any Healthier? Most Scientists Are Still Skeptical

    I assume this is a formatting error and these two sentences aren’t supposed to be the same hyperlink.

    In the last sentence of that same paragraph, vox also needs to be capitalized

  3. Callum G says:

    I always thought that the background psychology behind the IAT was that everyone was a little racist, it just requires cognitive effort to overcome it? The amount of success you have in applying cognitive effort the less overtly racist you are, hence the time delay in the IAT. It would make sense that this isn’t predictive of behavior in the majority of cases because people do put in the effort to overcome their implicit racism. However, if this is true then the only time the IAT would be applicable is in stressful situations where participants can’t afford the cognitive resources to overcome the implicit bias. In situations such as thinking someone might shoot you.

    I’m thinking back to my undergrad minor here, so I don’t have studies at hand to back it up (a lot from that minor is probably useless now anyway). If I find the time I may track down the sources. Am I too far off here?

    • Hyzenthlay says:

      However, if this is true then the only time the IAT would be applicable is in stressful situations where participants can’t afford the cognitive resources to overcome the implicit bias. In situations such as thinking someone might shoot you.

      Even assuming that there’s a correlation between IAT results and the likelihood of shooting someone, I wonder what the solution would be. I hear a lot of “we need to address implicit bias” but not a lot of talk about what this would mean, in practical terms. Some kind of conditioning program where police are trained to associate images of black people with positive feelings? Just telling people “have less implicit bias” probably isn’t very effective.

      • Deiseach says:

        I hear a lot of “we need to address implicit bias” but not a lot of talk about what this would mean, in practical terms.

        Because that’s a phrase her team has picked up on to signal to a bunch of different groups that “Vote for Hillary, she’s on your side” but in essence, there’s nothing there as policy, it’s just a slogan her campaign is going to trot out until the election is over.

        “Let’s all be nice and have more good things, fewer bad things”.

      • Corey says:

        The relevant bit of implicit bias can be summed up as “superpredator”; people (including blacks) are more afraid of blacks. Trying to combat *that* is a long-term cultural challenge.

        The proximate problem is a much simpler one involving policy choices about police officer vs. civilian safety, and Campaign Zero has proposals to improve civilian safety while making officers’ jobs slightly more dangerous and measurably more annoying.

        • Cliff says:

          I think the only way to combat that would be to reduce black violent crime rates? The alternative is to tell someone that their completely scientifically/statistically justified beliefs about relative risks should be ignored even though it may cost them their lives.

          • Virbie says:

            > The alternative is to tell someone that their completely scientifically/statistically justified beliefs about relative risks should be ignored even though it may cost them their lives.

            This actually isn’t even the core problem: I and most of my friends are more than happy not to use race as a proxy. For us, there are ethical problems involved in the application of such a broad filter to individuals, particularly when said application is widespread.

            The real issue with the alternative you describe is that you have to somehow convince your _subconscious_ not to use a tool that’s hardwired in there from far more dangerous times when its use would be far more relevant.

          • Lumifer says:

            tool that’s hardwired in there

            Hardwired? Really?

            That would imply that a white person would feel just uncomfortable in Chinatown as s/he would in a black neighbourhood. I do not think this is the case.

          • 2stupid4SSC says:

            @Lumifer I think when Virbie says hardwired they mean that we are hardwired to form the implicit biases, not that any particular implicit bias is hardwired.

          • Hyzenthlay says:

            Hardwired? Really?

            I don’t think specific prejudices are hardwired, but the human mind’s tendency to create generalized impressions and generate assumptions based on visible traits is. Like Virbie said, at one point that tendency was probably a survival advantage (and, you could argue, still is in some ways) but also creates obvious problems.

          • Virbie says:

            @Lumifer

            That would imply that a white person would feel just uncomfortable in Chinatown as s/he would in a black neighbourhood. I do not think this is the case.

            No, it would imply quite the opposite. The hardwired tendency I’m talking about is not “people who look different are bad”, it’s “people who look like other bad people are themselves bad”.

            So your conscious brain can explicitly decide it’s not okay with shaping your actions based on racial statistics because of the cumulative impact on innocents of that race, but it’s a much harder task to convince one’s subconscious to stop reflexes like looking over the black guy passing you at night while barely glancing at the Chinese guy.

            This is entirely consistent with your example, since the residents of Chinatown collectively don’t have much of a reputation for criminality or the stats to back one up.

          • Lumifer says:

            I understood Virbie’s “hardwired tool” as the biologically built-in tendency to like and trust those-like-you and, conversely, to distrust and fear those-unlike-you.

            But I may have been hasty. Maybe the “tool” was the ability to generalize and form stereotypes, and then act on these stereotypes as priors (in the Bayesian sense). I don’t see anything wrong with having priors, though.

            ETA: I wrote this before seeing Virbie’s reply. So the tool is the ability to form stereotypes. I still think it’s fine. I don’t see any “cumulative impact on innocents” from me getting or not getting apprehensive.

          • 2stupid4SSC says:

            @lumifer I think the “cumulative impact on innocents” is assuming that your apprehension is perceptible to the person who has caused you to be apprehensive. Thus they live in a world where people constantly act apprehensive of them, even though they are not actually a criminal. In theory having a large number of people constantly assume you are a threat is a net negative for the person in question.

            I think that is the basics of Virbies position as I understand them.

            Edit: I repeated myself like ten times, I got distracted a lot while typing this, sorry!

          • Virbie says:

            2stupid4SSC pretty much hit the nail on the head with what I was trying to express. Lumifer, also note that I tried to phrase everything as the (IMO logically defensible) ethical model that I use to guide my actions, not something that everyone must do. You and I may have different opinions about where to set the slider for trading off personal utility against other people’s rights/dignity, but that’s a conversation that’s much more involved than what I’m talking about in this thread.

          • Cliff says:

            Try Googling “The Unbearable Accuracy of Stereotypes”. Is it really wrong for people to have beliefs that are completely factually correct, just because it makes other people feel bad?

            Maybe if the media didn’t make it seem like there was systemic racism everywhere, black people could just realize “Hey, black people commit like 5-10x as many robberies and rapes as whites do, so this white lady is understandably apprehensive about my presence on her sidewalk at night. No big deal”

          • Lumifer says:

            @ 2stupid4SSC

            Thus they live in a world where people constantly act apprehensive of them

            I don’t know about constantly — being apprehensive very much depends on the context, in particular on day/night and the location being empty/crowded. I would be wary of pretty much everyone if I’m alone in the park at night, and I would not care at all on a crowded sidewalk during rush hour.

            The last time I felt my hackles rise there weren’t any black people anywhere near.

            @ Virbie

            Yes, I understand that everyone moves that slider according to personal preferences and that seems to be as it should be.

        • Hyzenthlay says:

          I skimmed through the Campaign Zero website. Some of those things strike me as good common sense measures; independently investigating and prosecuting, easing off on the broken-windows “crack down on people for minor stuff” mentality, body cameras (which are a win-win, I think, because they can protect wrongfully accused police officers in addition to catching trigger-happy cops). The pieces that I suspect will get the most pushback are the “training” and “community involvement.” Unless I’m reading it wrong, it sounds like the policy would be to not hire anyone who scores below a certain threshold on an IAT, and as the original post said, I’m not sure there’s a strong enough case that those are good predictors of behavior. Also, the ongoing bias testing and reeducation strikes me as the sort of thing that could create a potential backlash and resentment because, to police, that’s going to feel like outsiders coming in, telling them how to do their job, and shoving PC culture down their throats.

          It is nice to see some specific suggestions as opposed to vague rhetoric, though.

          • Cliff says:

            It seems like IAT would be extremely easy to game by just slowing all reaction times.

            Training I think is huge, but not necessarily in a racial way. The bar for lethal response that cops are trained to have right now is super low. THey need to accept slightly more risk to themselves as public servants to avoid the slaughter of innocents. It’s not like being a police officer is a super risky job in general.

        • The Ghost of Andrew Jackson says:

          Yes, I’d certainly expect trying to combat Bayesian reasoning to be challenging.

      • sobesum says:

        There has been one study that suggests you can modify “implicit bias”.

        I am not at all confident in the results though, and I work in a research lab that studies sleep and memory. Reactivation of memories using sound stimuli isn’t unheard of, but they are using this technique on a type of “memory” (if a change in IAT performance can be called such) that has never been shown to benefit from this. Heck, I think they are the first people to claim that even just sleep alone benefits counter-stereotype training.

      • wintermute92 says:

        As far as I know, there is no intervention that consistently ‘de-biases’ IAT scores. That makes me pretty concerned to see it held up as a focus point for better policing, since it’s doomed to failure from day one. Even if IAT scores are connected to police racism, you’d need to intervene downstream to get anywhere.

        (Of course, that all assumes that ‘implicit bias’ is something other than a way to signal “we care about what you do, not just vocal racism”.)

        • Neurno says:

          Sobesum and Wintermute: it’s easy. I practiced on my own after learning about the IAT in my psych undergrad classes (how easy is it to break/fake is always a worthwhile question for psych metrics). What worked for me (unofficial versions of the IAT can be found online): take it once as a control. Before taking it again, close your eyes and spend ten minutes thinking only of happy positive memories associated with black people, and negative ones associated with white people. Take again. Magic! Bias has not just reduced, but fully reversed! For extra credit: switch it back the other way for your third pass, and then correct it yet again for the fourth pass.
          For me, this was easy, fun, and totally reproducible in either direction. Your mileage may vary. 🙂

    • dragnubbit says:

      Google ‘iat cognitive inertia’

      I believe in subconscious racism. But that does not make those IAT tests valid.

      • Callum G says:

        I definitely agree that the IAT probably has instrumental issues, and I’m not swallowing Greenwalds dismissal of the small statistical effect. It seems we really need to rein in the applications of the IAT. However I agree with Oswald (2013) when he says:

        If true, this would indicate that implicitly measured intergroup biases are much less of a behavioral concern than many have worried—precisely because explicit attitudes often diverge from implicit attitudes. Such an oppositional process, in which explicit attitudes often win out in charged domains, is consistent with Petty and colleagues’ metacognitive model of attitudes (e.g., Petty, Briñol, & DeMarree, 2007). This model posits that initial evaluations are checked by validity tags that develop over time, often through controlled processes such as conscious thought about one’s views of a group, and the functioning of these tags can become automated over time and thus capable of checking even seemingly spontaneous behaviors. (p. 185)

        The last sentence surprises me the most, that even spontaneous behaviors can be checked. However it would be interesting to see if the IAT does have predictive power when placed under cognitive load and/or time pressures. Basically does the implicit test have real world predictive power when the situation more closely resembles the setup for the IAT. Sort of like how slips occur more often under cognitive load. I don’t think the situation would be contrived; Police shooting are a very relevant example.

        As a side note Scott, to test your personal theory it could be valuable to examine IAT results between generic-white and Jewish people; a people group that has a much less disadvantaged place in society but still faces everyday racism.

        • dragnubbit says:

          Police shootings are far messier in the real world than a video game can capture. I think research into subconscious racism is good for raising general awareness of profiling, but when it comes to many police shootings the real problem occurs in all the events and decisions that lead up to, when dealing with suspects that either do not immediately understand or are mentally ready to instantly comply with shouted orders, what seems to be an inevitable tense showdown with guns drawn and only a chance spark needed to trigger a tragedy. And these problems are often race-independent.

        • pku says:

          Jewish people; a people group that has a much less disadvantaged place in society but still faces everyday racism.

          Are we? I’ve lived in america for four years and I’ve gotten hate for being white and male, but not really for being jewish. OTOH, I’m on an isolated northeast college campus, so this may not be generally reflective.

          • BBA says:

            I’m certainly aware that antisemitism exists in America today, but I’ve only seen it online, never in person. Since most people don’t live on political twitter or chans, calling it “everyday racism” is a stretch to me. Of course, I live in Manhattan – maybe in the more religion-oriented parts of the country it’s more visible to be the only one who isn’t at church on Sunday.

          • Callum G says:

            Actually yeah, I have no idea. Where I’m from we don’t have a visible Jewish community and race relations overall are really quite different.

            ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • I have never directly observed antisemitism directed at me. I do remember, when I was in high school, my parents suggesting that I had not been included in some social activities because I was Jewish, but I don’t know if they had any evidence for that conjecture.

          • I’ve run into a very small amount of anti-Semitism in person.

            In online discussion, it seems as though a lot of the Jews I know have run into much more.

          • wintercaerig says:

            One factor is how easy is it to tell if you are a Jew. A kipah alone (i.e. on a person otherwise dressed in sych with what is expected of their role/station in society) makes a huge difference, IME. If someone looks like an average white person and has no behavioural or social differences except for perhaps a surname, most non-Jews will not even know, they don’t know the cultural tells.

            Living in European Country X, I experienced threatening and genuinely disturbing antisemitism (from Muslims and from natives, somewhat worse from the latter). When I think of it, aside from the kipah I also did not look like the typical native of X, nor did most of the other Jews in the community.

            Living in North America, I have experienced plenty of wearying and sometimes irritating incidents, but nothing that made me frightened. A Christian manager once became increasingly intrusive regarding my private religious life and attempted to fire me, but fortunately was herself let go.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ dragnubbit

        I believe in subconscious racism. But that does not make those IAT tests valid.

        Right. Discarding the IAT tests, would not dispose of the theory they were set to measure. The failure of those tests does not disprove the theory; it leaves the theory basically where it was.

        • Vamair says:

          I’d argue that the failure of the tests is some evidence agains subconscious racism, just not enough to seriously shake the idea.

    • tgb says:

      The first example of IAT I had heard was where you had to classify whether people in pictures were holding weapons or whether they were holding something less dangerous, say a broom or spatula. People had an easier/faster time identifying weapons that were held by blacks than by whites and made more errors unintentionally classifying blacks as holding weapons when they weren’t. The implications of this to police officers holding guns is rather obvious, even if it has no implications whatsoever in other aspects of life.

        • wintermute92 says:

          I’ve started seeing this thing where all of the failed-to-replicate progressive-politics studies cite each other. I was going through a study related to Leslie et al recently, which purported to show that computer science doesn’t actually have the famed “double hump” where one group of students is stronger than another. It followed that up with asserting professors who believe in the effect are consequently biased towards seeing bimodal distributions where they don’t exist.

          (It then discussed how there are lots of bad CS professors overestimating their skill, lots of sexism in CS, and “we didn’t check, but it’s probably these guys doing all that bad stuff and justifying their biases with innate talent theory”. Because of course it did.)

          It was an awful study top-to-bottom. Their dataset used post-curve grades to talk about student skill, and their “examine these graphs” section had apparently never heard of even obvious priming; I don’t think Rorschach tests work if you lead with “does this look like a cat?” They also had massive selection effects, but they handled those by going “and our data is totally distorted by selection effects, but we didn’t do anything about it.”

          So I checked the other studies cited… It was like a damn hit parade of failed replications and studies you’ve criticized here! Moss-Racusin was there, Payne et al (the weapon IAT one) was there, some much-challenged gendered-raise-request results were there. Many (like Moss) had exactly contradictory studies which went unmentioned. Several had failed replication before the paper went out – their peer reviewed paper is citing things that haven’t been considered valid in years!

          Moments like this make me think it’s not just bad statistical control… When you get people citing already-failed papers that supported their politics, I don’t really know how to justify it.

          • pku says:

            Political conclusions aside, any idea if the two-hump thing is accurate? Looking it up a while ago got me to articles claiming to disprove it, but they may have been bad studies.

          • wintermute92 says:

            Sure, summary below then longer story:

            Probably yes for new programmers, maybe no for people in the field.

            It appears likely that some groups of novices learn programming more effectively than others, in a bimodal distribution. There are no convincing studies on distributions in college or professional work. The one unconvincing study found no, but anecdotally many people say yes. The standard explanation for the difference (if it exists) is that people in the “bottom hump” don’t stick with programming.

            The most famous paper on the topic is Bornat & Denhadi, which originated Jeff Atwood’s “two-hump” theory of new programmers. This was retracted, but in an absolutely singular case, I don’t believe the retraction. Essentially, Bornat got a bit weird after it came out, and made some unsupported and possibly sexist remarks based on the paper. He got in a ton of hot water and retracted the thing, but not because the actual paper was invalid. Replication has been a bit mixed here, but it looks pretty good to me.

            Following this, some people tried to investigate the claim of bimodality in college computer science grades. They found that 5.6% of classes studied were bimodal, and professors overestimated bimodality. I have no real faith in this, for the reasons above, but it might be slightly better than nothing. Or maybe not, since their data may have already been normalized to remove the thing they were looking for.

            Anecdotally, basically everyone agrees on two things. Some people take to basic programming logic (a = 3, b = 2, a = b, what is a?) much faster than others, and this seems to persist through early education. And lots of professionals can’t program. I actually doubt the two are strongly connected, but that’s the state of the literature I’ve seen.

          • The Nybbler says:

            That phenomenon isn’t new. It’s an academic version of a Gish Gallop. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find cites to papers which don’t actually say what the citer claims, papers whose abstract doesn’t agree with the body, etc. There’s just a tonne of crappe out there.

            As for the double hump, based on good old anecdote, I’m sure there are a relatively small number of people who “get it” in CS, but I’m not sure there are enough to produce a double hump, rather than just a little bump in the upper tail. Probably depends on prior filtering.

          • wintermute92

            I think of that sort of computer language “=” as meaning “is set equal to” rather than having the arithmetic meaning of “is identically equal to forever”. I’m not saying I’ve got the computer version at the top of my mind constantly, but it’s available.

            I’m wondering whether some early problems with learning programming are a result of “=” having two meanings.

          • LHN says:

            In computer camp in high school, I tripped over that exact problem, and spent some time arguing with the instructor about the transitive property before the penny dropped.

        • tgb says:

          I was actually recalling a experiment done in a friend’s college course where the professor displayed a slideshow of images and had people clap when the person was armed. The hesitation and accidental claps for unarmed black men was apparently obvious and embarrassing. So… it hasn’t been replication-crisis’d since, well, it was a second hand account of a classroom demo. But, perhaps shamefully, that makes me more likely to believe it! The effect must have been truly large to be noticeable easily and reliably for the professor to try to use it.

    • pewpewpew says:

      Theoretically, blacks (preferably from Africa) should have results of IAT completely backwards, good reaction time for black+good, bad reaction times for white+bad.
      Is there any IAT data on that? Or on other ethnic groups?

      • Common Pleb says:

        why? speaking as a “black” from Africa I am aware that I associate whites with prosperity, if you meet a white person you were at a diplomatic function or with some aid workers, neither of which would give a bad reaction time for white+bad.

        • pewpewpew says:

          Well, the whole point of racism is your race > other races, it shouldn’t be any different for subconscious racism which IAT claims it’s detecting.
          If “blacks” don’t just not show “black” preference, but show “white”preference instead, it’d be really weird.

          • Virbie says:

            We’re talking about racial bias, not racism. The former is completely consistent with thinking of other races as “better” by some specific metric or the other. There are mountains of examples of members of a race being biased against their own race relative to whites; most colonized countries dealt with this to some degree. This isn’t even difficult to explain: when all the nicer parts of society are explicitly enforced as being white or majority white for hundreds of years, the inevitable drive to map surroundings to innate human qualities kicks in. This is somewhat true of black communities in the US as well, and depending on the race, I’ve heard it expressed in other immigrant enclaves as well (more than one Armenian in LA has told me to be careful trusting Armenians. FWIW, I don’t endorse this view).

            You even see it in the other direction. I’m Indian American (born in the US) and whenever I meet someone who hasnt been around enough ethnic diversity to stop drawing conclusions on the basis of race, their limited experience with Indians seems to have been of articulate, charming professionals, possibly with a British accent. I’ve had more than one person tell me how awesome all Indians are based on this, and yet it has little to nothing to do with their race vs “the Indians you’ve met here are far more likely to have Master’s degrees and make a lot of money”.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s mixed: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/background/faqs.html#faq19

        The Department of Justice recently gave the Baltimore Police Department a scathing review of their track record with the black community despite the department being 42% black: https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/883366/download

        The staple explanation for this and I think the ad hoc thing that Scott references being unconvinced by is internalized racism.

        • pewpewpew says:

          That’s why I’m interested in blacks from Africa, they shouldn’t have internalized racism over there.

          • Nicholas says:

            I’m given to understand that Africans don’t consider Black a meaningful category. A Kikuyu police officer recognizes your Yoruba heritage even if you don’t, and every right-thinking African knows that Yoruba are dangerous malcontents.*
            *This sentence not representative of race relations in Africa.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Nicholas

            A Kikuyu police officer recognizes your Yoruba heritage even if you don’t

            I strongly doubt that since the Kikuyu and the Yoruba live a couple of thousand miles apart. And if you want malcontents from Nigeria, that probably would be Ibo (or Igbo) who did start a civil war at one point…

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’m always amazed at the ability of non-North Americans to make distinctions like that at a glance.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I’ve always been vaguely surprised that they can’t.

            Considering our national obsession with racism, I’d expect the average USian to be better at it.

          • I’ve seen Africans say that they didn’t acquire a black identity until they spent some time in the US. Previously, they just identified as citizens of their countries.

          • Sandy says:

            I’m given to understand that Africans don’t consider Black a meaningful category.

            I’m sure South Africans do. Nigerians and Rwandans might not.

          • pku says:

            anecdote: I never considered jewish a meaningful category before moving (from Israel) to america. Now I don’t consider it very important, but I do notice it. For black people, who have a much stronger group identity than jews, it would probably be stronger.

          • LPSP says:

            I’m just like pku about jews and jewishness. Never paid any attention to it for the first 20 years of my life; it was just a funny thing that cropped up on the Simpsons, one guy at school was part jewish, spielberg was jewish, the nazis did a lot of bad things to jews as another chip in their shithead hat. Browsing the internet harder starting at about the age of 22 has massively increased my awareness and appreciation of the people, the complexities and the concerns. It’s not topic numero uno but it’s a thing and it matters to people. Same for all of race really; although I had an earlier reckoning about black people as I went to South Africa as a teenager, and my dad scare-lectured me with horror stories about what happens if you get out of the car at a city street corner with a watch on your wrist. I still didn’t think ethnicity made any difference, just that apparently a lot of black people are a risk, in South Africa at least.

          • Nicholas says:

            @Lumifer
            Hence the footnote.

    • Titanium Dragon says:

      The problem with this is that there’s no evidence that police officers, in stressful situations, are any more likely to shoot black people; the only study I’m aware of on the subject matter suggested that police officers *aren’t* any more likely to shoot black people, all other things being equal.

      I’ve taken an IAT and it suggested that I thought Asians were nice but dumb (though not to a significant level), which is pretty much the opposite of the stereotype – and contrary to my own personal beliefs, at that.

      Having looked at the literature on them, frankly, I’m not impressed.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ Titanium Dragon
        The problem with this is that there’s no evidence that police officers, in stressful situations, are any more likely to shoot black people; the only study I’m aware of on the subject matter suggested that police officers *aren’t* any more likely to shoot black people, all other things being equal.

        Scott did an article on this, concluding that shootings were about the same but other police violence with blacks was more frequent.* I don’t recall whether escalation from the other violence into shooting situations was considered.

        * at least in some areas

  4. I guess the hardball questions imply that the “undecideds” are really interested and can hold their nose and vote for the worst roster of presidential candidates in recent history. All of the political rhetoric about “swing voters”, voter who are “in the middle”, and “undecideds” misses the point in this election. Reasonable independents realize that they can’t really vote for anybody. There is absolutely nothing that Clinton, Stein, Johnson, and certainly not that Trump can say that will change anybody’s mind. Sanders supporters are going to write him in despite his support for Clinton. They are totally off the grid.

    But I take it – that is your point.

    • onyomi says:

      I have certainly complained myself about how unusually awful the choices seem this time. However, there may be a sense in which this election is better than any election in recent memory: not only libertarians, but many outside the mainstream in some way (Occupy Wall Street, etc.) complain that we don’t have a real choice, that the two candidates are just two slightly different flavors of the same basic allegedly broken system.

      If there’s one complaint you really can’t level so much about this campaign it’s that there are no real choices: you have the mainstream, status quo-ish candidate, the weird new populist, the goofy pot-smoking libertarian, and the environmentalist. And in the primaries, though Trump was far from my first choice, he wasn’t the only “interesting” candidate; while many feel the process may have been rigged against him, Bernie also felt more like a “real” choice than we usually get as well. Not too bad for an election I fully expected to come down to Bush v. Clinton.

      • Outis says:

        There seems to be more choice than usual in terms of policies, but there is far less choice of actual candidates within the electability window. Which is by design.

        Consider Sanders: oh wow, finally we get a socialist candidate! They always say that socialism has no chance in America! But the Democratic primaries were designed to have Hillary Clinton’s victory as the only possible result. They could not go as far as to have her be the only candidate, so they ended up having the most unlikely possible alternative run, the old socialist. Bernie was never meant to be a serious contender: the fact that he did surprisingly well is just proof that Clinton really needed the help.

        The general elections ended up being the same situation, although this time it could have been by coincidence.

        • tmk says:

          > They always say that socialism has no chance in America! But the Democratic primaries were designed to have Hillary Clinton’s victory as the only possible result.

          Or, the socialist, Sanders, just didn’t have quite enough support to win the Democratic primary.

        • Deiseach says:

          Hillary and Trump are both detestable, Trump that bit much more so; Johnson is not interested in anything (it seems); Stein is the least objectionable and the loopiest of the lot, which is probably why she’s the least objectionable, she’s sincere but out to lunch on some topics.

          None of them seem particularly electable. Hillary maybe because she’s been in power and knows how the sausage is made, but I still think a lot of people will vote for her because she comes as a package with Bill. Johnson may have governed New Mexico but on his performance to date, I wouldn’t put him in charge of the morning coffee run. Trump is a businessman but knows nothing of how the public service works, and Stein has only town council experience and has consistently failed to be elected to higher office when she’s run for it, which doesn’t inspire confidence if her own people don’t think she’s fit to be their national representative.

          I don’t know how you guys are going to decide on who you want to speak for you for the next four years!

        • Oneiricist says:

          There seems to be more choice than usual in terms of policies, but there is far less choice of actual candidates within the electability window.

          Something about this doesn’t quite wash. Isn’t the problem precisely the narrowness of the electability window? Within the electability window -> Less choice. Or maybe it’s just unclear what “electable” is supposed to mean.

          • 2stupid4SSC says:

            I would assume they are trying to break this up into two separate categories.

            The ‘electability window’ is just talking about the number of people presented as possible candidates. *In theory the democratic party only really wanted Clinton, as an example of the intentional shrinking of this window.*

            Where as the ‘more choice’ is in reference to the range on the policy spectrum covered by the small number of candidates.**The policy views of Trump in particular being farther outside the normal centrist range that both parties normally converge on**

            So instead of, say four relatively similar people, you have two very different people. So do you have more choice, or less?

            *I have no idea if this is true*

            **I have no idea if this is true**

          • Oneiricist says:

            So there is less choice within the electability window compared to earlier elections? What about years when incumbents ran unopposed?

            I see what you’re saying about the contrast in qualitative vs quantitative scope, but I can’t think of a single instance in which the election was between four relatively similar people…

          • 2stupid4SSC says:

            @oneiricist The final election is always just two people with a realistic chance, I think? I assumed they were talking about the number of candidates in the primaries, and I have no idea if their complaint is valid. I was just trying to explain what I thought they were saying. I might be totally off base.

          • Oneiricist says:

            @2stupid4SSC Yeah, I think it’s up in the air until Outis clarifies their point.

        • Titanium Dragon says:

          Sanders was a terrible candidate. His policy positions were a total disaster and he ran based on xenophobia.

      • William O. B'Livion says:

        Quoting Andrew Klavan here:
        “””
        In this year’s race, however, there is nary a good guy in sight. A dishonest left-winger with authoritarian tendencies is running against Hillary Clinton, also a dishonest left-winger with authoritarian tendencies. On top of which, they both seem like absolutely dreadful human beings when they’re at home.

        In one sense, this gives the media an advantage. This time, when they gang up unfairly on the Republican, at least they’re telling the truth.
        “””

        Trump is basically a oversized Ompah Lompah version of Hillary’s husband with even LESS self awareness.

        • Autolykos says:

          I fail to grok what goes on in the minds of people who would call Trump left-wing (unless they consider that as a generic insult devoid of meaning).

          • caryatis says:

            Think about the differences between, say, Romney and Trump. Romney is a serious Christian, married to one wife, lots of kids, not from the big city, small-c conservative, modest demeanor. Doesn’t swear in public, would never be on a reality show. General family-values type. A lot of people I know would consider him more of a “real conservative” than the loud, ribald, twice-divorced, New Yorker who is Trump.

          • Corey says:

            Doesn’t want to cut entitlement spending, which makes him Communist by Republican standards.

          • Luke Somers says:

            caryatis, I agree that Trump is not right. But Trump pulls for Trump. His not being right does not make him left.

    • cassander says:

      There’s nothing they can say to change people’s minds, but they can encourage, or discourage, people who have made up their minds to come out and vote or stay home.

  5. dk says:

    How about one for Evan McMullin? Utah’s polls have him ahead of Gary Johnson with about a 1/5 of the vote and trailing behind Clinton and Trump tied at around 1/4. There’s a small but nontrivial chance that Trump might keep losing enough votes to McMullin such that the latter wins Utah. There’s a small probability that if McMullin wins Utah and neither Trump nor Clintons wins at least 270 electoral college votes, then the House might select McMullin over Trump to be POTUS.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-evan-mcmullin-could-win-utah-and-the-presidency/

    He might be too boring to write a fun hardball debate question for…

    • Cthulhu Rae Jepsen says:

      McMullin has a better chance of becoming president than Stein or Johnson. He at least has a plan for how to get around his enormous deficit in name recognition, organization, etc. Stein is campaigning in swing states, where there’s the most competition, because for her it’s more about protests and vanity than actually winning.

      • j r says:

        He at least has a plan…

        If that is a viable plan, why aren’t other Republicans doing it?

        Why isn’t Rubio campaigning like hell in Florida or Cruz in Texas? Or why haven’t they all descended on Maine, a state which chooses its electors proportionally?

        This plan seems about as credible as Wile E Coyote placing an order in the Acme catalog.

        • Zakharov says:

          I’d guess Rubio and Cruz don’t want to damage a 2020 bid in exchange for a 0.4% chance of being President, but MuMullin has less to lose. Not to mention that Rubio is campaigning like hell in Flordia – for a Senate seat.

        • Quixote says:

          To be fair. Most of the coyote’s plans seem ex ante viable. And in fact many of them ought to work and only fail due to what seems to be tremendously unlikely ill fortune.

    • Wrong Species says:

      He is a former CIA officer. Boring isn’t the word I would use.

    • TrivialGravitas says:

      The topic of McMullin supposedly having a chance of winning here in Utah came up at a party last night.
      Nobody could remember his name except that it wasn’t Johnson. All he’s going to accomplish is splitting the third party vote to the point that neither he nor Johnson have a chance at the state.

      • Nathan says:

        He has 22% of the vote. If anyone should drop out of Utah it’s Johnson.

        • TrivialGravitas says:

          Ask Utah *any* three names right now and you get >20% for name #3. But there’s 10 names on the ballot, not 3. Trick is getting people onto the same name. Johnson has lawn signs, billboards, hit pieces by the press (any press is good press in this case). McMullin has one poll.

          • Barry says:

            Two polls actually, one at 22% and one at 18%. McMullin is also a Mormon, and probably has a Mitt Romney endorsement coming his way. I would actually put his chances of winning the state at close to 50%, especially if Trump doesn’t rebound.

          • TrivialGravitas says:

            Endorsements after the voting has already started (it’s a mail in ballot state) are a bit late.

          • smocc says:

            FiveThirtyEight has all of the Utah polls September with McMullin leading Johnson by a wide margin. If my Facebook feed is any indication, my Utah friends have been talking about him for at least a month (more for some people), but they’ve never been as interested in Johnson. In fact, I was surprised a couple of days ago when everyone started asking me about McMullin. I thought everyone had heard of him.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @smock, for what it’s worth, I’d never heard of him before this very thread. (On the other hand, I live in very liberal Cascadia.)

    • Outis says:

      McMullin is creepy.

      • William O. B'Livion says:

        And Hillary and Trump *aren’t*?

      • hyperboloid says:

        I think it’s unfair to judge anybody who worked for the peculiar institution that makes it’s home in McLean Virgina on the same scale of creepiness as us mere mortals.

        There is creepy, and then there is CIA creepy.

        • PhoenixRite says:

          “Peculiar institution” is a specific euphemism that means Antebellum chattel slavery in the U.S. Did you mean to use that particular configuration of words?

          • Jon says:

            I don’t believe I have ever in my life heard this.

          • Some dude says:

            Google confirms this meaning, but I have also never heard of this euphemism before now. I think the benefit of doubt should be given here.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            Unless you didn’t take high school history in the United States, I’m shocked that you two haven’t heard of this.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            I took high school history in the US, but I don’t recall learning this phrase there. I have heard it before, but not until well after high school. Not till after undergrad, I think.

          • Luke Somers says:

            ‘Peculiar Institution’ means that only if it’s presented with no further qualifiers or identifiers. Identifiers like ‘that makes its home in McLean VA’. I think this usage was OK.

            Also, I encountered that during high school, but not IN high school.

        • hyperboloid says:

          “Peculiar institution” was a general purpose dig at the CIA’s extra legal role propping up various sorts of feudal tyranny on behalf of the likes of the united fruit company.

          it’s used here in the sense of something that existed outside the norms of American democracy, and involved horrific violence and oppression.

          It’s nothing to do with McMullin personally, who worked there decades after any of that had happened.

  6. steves says:

    OK, I can use Google, but Jill Stein?

    That is the first time I have ever seen that name. Now I know there is an American green party.

    I’m a Brit, and mostly (very) concerned with what’s going on here right now, but ongoing US election tragicomedy is of interest too.

    Why was she first on the list?

    I’ll figure out ‘updog’ myself…

    • Sandy says:

      This is a humorous take on the election, so perhaps Stein was first because her party and campaign are generally amusing.

    • suntzuanime says:

      My guess is that Jill Stein is first on the list as sort of an appetizer, a warm-up to get you into the rhythm of the piece and ready while still leaving you hungry for the two main courses. Johnson’s piece is a one-liner and wouldn’t have suited this purpose.

      My guess as to why you haven’t heard of Jill Stein is that the media works for Clinton, and the Greens are more likely to siphon votes away from her than the Libertarians, so when they want to report on alternative candidates, they prefer Johnson.

      It does kind of violate the premise of the piece to include Stein and Johnson, who will never be allowed inside a building where a debate is being held, but surely that’s forgivable in the name of comedy.

      • Aapje says:

        The more likely reason is that he is British and the British media have zero interest in alternative candidates.

        • suntzuanime says:

          I took as implied when steves asked about Jill Stein but not Gary Johnson that steves had heard about Gary Johnson. If steves had heard of neither, of course that would make sense.

      • Deiseach says:

        It does kind of violate the premise of the piece to include Stein and Johnson, who will never be allowed inside a building where a debate is being held

        Wasn’t that the point of those interviews where Johnson covered himself with glory – the Aleppo one and the one with Chris Matthews – that he wasn’t going to be invited to any debates with Hillary and Trump, so he asked for a media platform and was given one?

        Stein at least had the good sense to remain in decent obscurity 🙂

        • Zombielicious says:

          You may have been joking, but I really doubt a lack of desire for media attention is Stein’s problem. She regularly gets arrested (or comes close) trying to get in to the debates, participates in all the third-party debates on Democracy Now (sometimes along with the Justice and Constitution party candidates), does plenty of interviews wherever she can get them and is used to being attacked. I actually have trouble seeing her get caught by the Aleppo question, but of course she has plenty of other problems as a candidate (never been a state governor or actually held office, for one).

          • Deiseach says:

            She may have been fortunate to be ignored by the press; there’s always the maxim “Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.

            If she did get a big national public platform, somebody could try tripping her up with vaccines/pesticides/organic/”Admit it, aren’t you simply a kook who believes in homeopathy?” questions.

            Or animal rights and farming – does the American Green Party have any position on meat-eating/raising animals for food? We’ve seen how that can be a fraught and contentious matter, and if the dairy and meat agricultural industries (and all the downstream industries dependent on them) think that a candidate is going to try putting them out of business, that’s some hefty clout to campaign against her and a swathe of voters who won’t even consider the party, much less her.

            Okay, had a Google about her particular party, and their website is very carefully saying nothing except:

            6. Clean, Green Agriculture

            Convert U.S farm and ranchland to organic practices. Chemical and industrial agriculture produces 35-50% of climate destabilizing greenhouse gases.

            Switch to local food production and distribution. Localized, organic food production and distribution reduce fossil fuel usage and enriches soil that sequesters more carbon dioxide.

            Reduce methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases by rapidly phasing out confined animal feeding operations, and encouraging a reduction in meat consumption.

            Hmmm – how, exactly, “encouraging a reduction in meat consumption”? If she ever got into power, would there be laws about “no more butchers’ shops” or simply healthy-eating style campaigns about cutting down meat consumption? We’ve seen the push for sugar taxes after the advisory campaigns did little, would a future Green coalition also push for “legislation not advice” to make the difference?

          • Zombielicious says:

            I don’t know what their specific plan would be (and it appears they may not even have one – knowing they have no chance to win, I think they err on the side of total idealism, unlike e.g. Johnson), but easiest way to reduce (as opposed to eliminate) meat consumption would be to remove subsidies for animal feed (corn and soybeans). Beyond that you have potential sin taxes and public information campaigns, as you mention. Personally I’d be fine with straight-up outlawing inhumane conditions in factory farming, but I’m obviously in an extreme minority there. That said though, not really a fan of their weird anti-GMO, localvorism, organic-everything stuff, but even with third-parties there’s still a lot of settling for the lesser evil.

          • “but easiest way to reduce (as opposed to eliminate) meat consumption would be to remove subsidies for animal feed (corn and soybeans).”

            Are there net subsidies? The usual pattern of farm policy is to push the price of outputs up, not down.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @David Friedman:
            I actually already replied to you about that a long time ago, under a different name (I wasn’t a regular commenter here at the time). Back then I wasn’t aware the factory farm & meat production subsidies were indirect (for animal feed rather than the farms themselves), so it was harder to hunt down information on it.

            The best source I could easily find is from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, estimates a 7-10% reduction in operating costs of factory farms due to animal feed subsidies. A little over half of the corn and soybean produced in the U.S. is fed to livestock (and most of the rest just goes to animal feed in other countries – iirc something like 96% of soybeans are used for animal feed). During 2000-2004 the corn and soybean subsidies were around $4.5 billion and $2 billion per year, respectively. There’s more analysis in the report (it’s only 3 pages), including stuff about the original goal of the subsidies to prop up farmer incomes but some combination of rising production costs and falling market prices causing the benefits to go to an increasingly oligarchical group of the largest agribusinesses. Wikipedia also has a summary chart of subsidies for meat production globally.

          • Thanks, but I’m not convinced.

            To begin with, the government pushes corn prices up by requiring the use of biofuel, which currently absorbs a sizable fraction of U.S. corn output.

            Beyond that, the article is pretty clearly written by people with an axe to grind, and it doesn’t provide the information necessary to check its claims. In particular, it doesn’t say what form government subsidies to farmers take.

            If the subsidy is $X/bushel of corn, it pushes market prices down. If it’s $X per acre of farm land kept out of production, it pushes them up.

            The concentration ratios are defining industries by output. But the argument is about monopsony, monopoly on the input market. If beef producers and hog producers both use corn as feed, then the concentration ratio for the argument ought to be for the combined industries, not separate for each.

            Do you happen to know what the form of current subsidies is? I don’t.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @David Friedman:
            I’m not sure what form all the subsidies take, but I’ll try to look into it and maybe bring it up in a future OT. A cursory look showed that at least some of them are direct subsidies that are independent of how much you actually grow (or whether you grow anything at all), but I’m not sure how many subsidies their are or what percentage of them work like that. There are also insurance subsidies, and some are capped and some aren’t, but I’m not sure if the caps are per acre or per farm. I’m equally skeptical though that they’re paying people not to grow, in order to drive up prices, since what all I have read on it is implying the opposite of that.

          • Let me know what you find.

            They may not be paying people to grow any more but they are diverting a large fraction of the corn crop into alcohol, which pushes up prices.

          • hey nonny nonny says:

            When discussing farm subsidies, it’s useful to remember that some economically or politically palatable options are not permitted under WTO rules. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agreement_on_Agriculture#Domestic_support:_the_boxes

            Most of the “pay to not farm” programs were a part of the efforts in the 1980’s and 90’s to reduce over production and restore more efficient markets to subsidized crops. These have been largely phased out, with the exception of programs designed to increase conservation. http://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/conservation-programs/index

    • William O. B'Livion says:

      At one point I was housemates with the first Green Party candidate elected to office in the US–Matthew Harline. Really nice guy. Dedicated, hard working. Utterly wrong about his politics, but hey, can’t win them all.

    • Anon says:

      She’s commonly known in America as one of the third party candidates (Johnson being the other) who centrists know don’t have a chance of winning but almost want to vote for anyway because they hate both the Republicans and the Democrats. Any conversation about the election will invoke her name at least once.

  7. William C says:

    Mr. Johnson, do you mean to say you have no idea what Updoggians eat under there?

  8. SilasLock says:

    The crisis in Updog? It’s a real tragedy. So many massacres, so many dead. We need to mobilize the US military if we want to avoid another Rwandan genocide.

  9. Thomas says:

    Didn’t the guy from Less Wrong just write a popular post about how engaging in a failed effort to simulate the the world gives you a special and invaluable perspective?

    • LPSP says:

      *the the world

    • I’m assuming this:

      > I once played a four-hour live simulation/game called the National Security Decision-Making Game, which was run by various people who were ex-whatevers. There were around 80 of us simulating just 3 different countries, with myself trying to play the Secretary of Defense of the US.

      > Thinking myself probably above-average intelligence for the room, I’d originally asked for a position that involved intrigue; I was given the title for Director of National Intelligence. But somebody who’d played the game before said he really wanted to be DNI, so I traded it for his Secretary of Defense position. Which I’m glad happened, because my ambitions rapidly went from world optimization to “Understand what is happening immediately around the Department of Defense.”

      > By the end of NSDM, I left with a suddenly increased respect for any administration that gets to the end of 4 years without nuclear weapons being used. We did not do that well in our NSDM session. I left with a greatly increased appreciation of the real skill and competence possessed by the high-level bureaucrats like the Secretary of Defense who keep everything from toppling over, and who understand what the sternly worded diplomatic notes mean.

      • baconbacon says:

        I found this one of the least convincing pieces he has ever written. Being impressed by how diplomats read diplomatic mail is like being impressed with a 5 year old in France being able to speak French. More importantly it seems a wildly shallow reading of history.

        “If you read the history books, you realize that it is REALLY REALLY bad to have any ambiguity about which minor powers the major powers will defend; that is how World War I *and* World War II both started.”

        What I have read about WW1 was that the Germans were pretty much convinced that war was going to happen either way and they figured that being the aggressor was much better than sitting back and reacting. There certainly is not a straightforward argument that WW1 would have been avoided if everyone had more credibly committed to their allies as what Germany feared in general was being stuck between two historical enemies in Russia and France and fighting both at the same time.

        WW2 is also odd as an example. The British send a strongly worded telegram to a maniac who wanted to dominate Europe, what exactly were his ambassadors going to say to dissuade him from attacking Poland? Further more did the British actually have the ability to defend Poland? Given how fast Poland fell and how poorly the BEF faired in France in the early stages of the war this seems unlikely. Did Hitler want to keep the British out of the war? Yes. Do we have any reason to think that Hitler was basing all his plans around it and would abandon them because he correctly interpreted a telegram prior to the invasion of Poland? I see no affirmative for this answer.

        • hlynkacg says:

          AS has been noted many times, German high command felt secure attacking Poland because they were confident that the British would not respond, and that if they did respond it would be something lack-luster that the Germans could easily absorb.

          The British did nothing to disabuse them of this notion and quite a bit to reinforce it.

          • Lumifer says:

            Weren’t the Germans correct, for a while? The British declared war, but for quite some time their efforts could be characterised as lackluster…

          • baconbacon says:

            AS has been noted many times, German high command felt secure attacking Poland because they were confident that the British would not respond, and that if they did respond it would be something lack-luster that the Germans could easily absorb.

            And what would have disabused them of this notion that was actually in their power? Given what we know about Hitler and the German command which is more likely, that Hitler would revise and massively scale down his war plans in response to thinking GB would enter the war, that he would alter some details and continue any way, or that he would never give up on his fictions that allowed him to remain convinced of his eventually victory?

        • Deiseach says:

          There certainly is not a straightforward argument that WW1 would have been avoided if everyone had more credibly committed to their allies

          The problem was that everyone did commit to their allies and keep the treaties they had signed, which dragged them all into a war against each other. A bit of cynical “Sorry, mate, you’re on your own here” would have avoided that, but even as they were desperately searching for a way of doing so without looking like complete oath-breakers and cads, events kept eventuating until the war started.

          I actually think Chamberlain’s appeasement was a result of thinking about the First World War; precisely because all the major powers were entangled in a net of treaties, alliances, back-stabbing your allies and making secret agreements with the ostensible enemy, and jockeying for influence and power, that the whole line of dominoes toppled over once the first one was knocked. Nobody intended to start a major war that would drag in everyone in Europe, but that’s what happened when Big Country A and Big Country B started rattling their sabres at each other over Small Countries C and D.

          So to avoid rushing into a similar trap this time round, instead of saying “You have invaded Small Country E! Prepare to face our wrath!”, Chamberlain came to an agreement where E got sacrificed for the sake of the rest of them.

          Unfortunately for Chamberlain, he was not dealing with the likes of Bismarck, but with someone who wanted to be Napoleon or Alexander, and had a crazy theory of national and racial supremacy he wanted to implement into the bargain.

          • baconbacon says:

            Disclaimer: I have been told that Chamberlain was my grandmother’s 2nd cousin, so I may be predisposed toward him.

            The British were also the least prepared for war having kept to the Versaille treaty longer and more closely than any other major signee. It is hard to blame a guy who is years behind for trying to buy some time/goodwill.

            The problem was that everyone did commit to their allies and keep the treaties they had signed, which dragged them all into a war against each other. A bit of cynical “Sorry, mate, you’re on your own here” would have avoided that, but even as they were desperately searching for a way of doing so without looking like complete oath-breakers and cads, events kept eventuating until the war started.

            I think this falls into the same speculative trap. It is really hard to guess the outcomes of one, or a few, countries backing out of their treaties. If war happened anyway we would be looking back now and claiming “If only X had defended Y as they promised to, everything would have been different”. The strongest case for isolationism isn’t that it will cause everything to work out, it is that you have no idea where intervening will lead, so the null hypothesis of not spending billions of dollars and huge numbers of lives should be the default.

          • Deiseach says:

            Oh, I think Chamberlain was sincere and genuinely trying to avoid war. He gets lambasted as weak and foolish, which is very unfair. Nobody (or very few) at the time knew Hitler was, well, Hitler.

            That’s part of the problem: is the guy making threatening noises bluffing, or is he really trying to blow the world up? If you get up in his face, will you successfully call his bluff, or will he escalate because to back down will lose him face with his own side? If you are moderate and try to go for the peaceful solution, are you being weak and naive and encouraging him to take advantage by pressing more forcefully, or are you bringing the world back from the edge of destruction?

            Hindsight is great for deciding what the other guy should have done – after it’s all happened. It doesn’t help with forecasting the future, though.

      • Lumifer says:

        If only he read this important chunk of the Sequences!

    • Daniel Keys says:

      Knowing that other people have valuable perspectives should not be “special.” The fact that it may be so – the fact that few besides Eliezer are making this point – is greatly disturbing.

      • Deiseach says:

        the fact that few besides Eliezer are making this point

        Possibly because “making this point” that other people have valuable perspectives is akin to saying “Hey guys, did you know grass is green?”

        I’m very glad if he noticed that other people besides himself have minds and the ability to think, but a few of us ordinary schmucks had noticed this before he graced us with his observation of the phenomenon.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah, this. The fact that Eliezer had to go to a simulated-nuclear-diplomacy event to figure this out is what’s disturbing, or at least very telling about Eliezer’s state of mind.

          • Luke Somers says:

            That wasn’t what he figured out in that session, Anonymous. It wasn’t the point of the article, either, Daniel.

  10. J says:

    Correction: September 8, 2016
    An earlier version of this article incorrectly called the city of Updog the de facto capital of the nation of Henway. Hertzdonut, in northern Henway, is the de facto capital.

    Correction: September 8, 2016
    An earlier version of the above correction misidentified the Henway capital as Mattadeer. It is Tubafor.

  11. MawBTS says:

    Alternate question for Donald: if you become president, how do you feel about us calling your personal USAF presidential jet “Hair Force One”?

  12. GCBill says:

    do you believe Vox ‘zines cause autism?

    … ಠ_ಠ

  13. noeticmeconium says:

    I have been waiting for this post since June. I am not disappointed, not even slightly.

  14. Anonymous says:

    You know how people read words by context and the shape? I read “Updog” as “Uqbar.”

  15. Barry says:

    I added a comment that was already made. Edited to cover for my laziness.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Note: You can actually delete a comment, by editing it and erasing all the text. This will actually delete the comment, not just leave it there with no text.

      • Anonymous says:

        You can also delete a comment by clicking on the “delete” button that appears when you click the “click to edit” text.

      • pku says:

        also, they have a delete button now.

        Whoops, beaten to it. Better press delete.
        No wait, library’s closing and I need to go home. No time!

  16. Bram Cohen says:

    I’ve taken the IAT and I measure as very ‘racist’ my that test, although from taking it I can see exactly why. Doing the test causes me to dredge up memories which relate to the association in question, so the association which has more related memories will naturally be stronger. Growing up in manhattan I had the common experience of walking down the street minding my own business and people acting threatening towards me, either directly or my screaming something threatening sounding just barely on the plausible deniability edge of whether it was directed at me or noone in particular. While a big deal has been made recently of women getting hit on just for walking around in manhattan, there’s a less common but more dangerous-feeling phenomenon of guys getting physically threatened, and it happened three times during the span of a week when I visited two years ago. The guys who did this were overwhelmingly black, and those are the experiences which come to mind taking the IAT.

    • a non mouse says:

      C’mon, let progressives have their fun.

      Progressives “proving” racism is like mathematicians coming up with proofs for the Pythagorean theorem. It’s a game – start with a premise:

      Axiom 1 – there are no differences between races except differences where black people are better

      Take that and end up with the conclusion:

      People don’t believe there are no differences between races, therefore whites are racist.

      The fun part is making up novel new ways to get from Axiom 1 to the conclusion. This one had computers! Oooooh, high tech!

      While a big deal has been made recently of women getting hit on just for walking around in manhattan,

      The fun part is that if you watch the vids that started that particular prog hysteria it wasn’t white guys catcalling.

      • Virbie says:

        > The fun part is that if you watch the vids that started that particular prog hysteria it wasn’t white guys catcalling.

        People did notice this, and the creators of the video have been getting attacked for being racist. Hooray for whale cancer!

    • Sandy says:

      Around when I first came to America, I used to frequent this barbershop in Hell’s Kitchen run by a Russian and an Arab. One time I was waiting for my cut and this group of black kids — school-going by the looks of them, couldn’t have been older than 16 — started banging on the window next to where I was sitting. I still have no idea who they were or why they did it, but they flipped the bird at me and did an exaggerated version of an Indian accent. The Arab barber yelled at them to leave and used some rather nasty Arabic racial slurs that I recognized; the Russian guy just scowled and told me to ignore them because “they’ll all be in jail in a few years anyway”.

      That was the first time I’d ever been racially abused, and also my first field introduction to American racial dynamics. A few years later I took the IAT and it reported moderate negative associations. Granted, the white people in my professional and social circles are virtually all progressives who bend over backwards to avoid the appearance of racism. I doubt kids care about signaling that much.

      • Virbie says:

        My childhood surroundings were extremely multicultural, enough so that I’d actually never been exposed to racism, casual/accidental or otherwise, until literally three days ago (my parents are from India and I was born here). I was getting out of the metro alone around midnight and a black guy sitting on the steps said something like “Get yo’ foreign ass outta here”. I found it more amusing than anything else (hey, my first racism!), and responded “If I’m the foreign one, how come you’re the one who can barely speak English?” (he was a pretty fat dude, so I wasn’t really worried about him coming after me).

        This is part of why the whole oppressor-oppressed framework of thinking about social issues is so intellectually bankrupt. Racial dynamics are considerably more complicated than the strong tendency these days to put every person into one of two buckets, and interpret all their behavior in light of that position. This goes doubly so for the attempt to put all forms of oppression into the same basket, systematically excluding the “oppression” perpetrated in one dimension by those who are “oppressed” in another.

        • pku says:

          I have a friend who had this happen on the train (a woman who wanted his seat told him to get out of the country). His reply was “Buddha told me to sit here.”

    • Tibor says:

      There are very few black people where I’m from (Czech republic) only a few in Germany (where I’m doing my PhD). There are also rarely any news about black people on TV or in the paper. When I took the implicit assumption test, I was supposedly mildly racially biased against white people and in favour of black people. I doubt this is true. So either the test measures something else or it doesn’t work properly on me for some reason.

      Another thing is that the word black is usually associated with death and bad stuff (black news etc) in European and related cultures. White is not necessarily good but it is a symbol for purity and cleanliness. On the other hand, in East Asia (and partly in medieval Europe but that’s beside the point) it is actually the colour white which is associated with death. I wonder if this has an influence on the results of the implicit bias test.

      • Lambert says:

        There’s not much sense in taking an American IAT in most of Europe as racial issues are different. You’d need to measure associations with people from Syria, the Indian Subcontinent, North Africans etc.

        • Randy M says:

          There is plenty of sense in it as a control.

        • Tibor says:

          The strange thing is not so much that I do not show a bias against blacks but that I show a consistent bias against whites. You could argue that this is some kind of “old white men are responsible for all evil in the world” message sinking into the unconscious but I doubt it. Those kind of ideas are also a lot less common in a country which has neither ever had colonies, nor has taken any non-European land from the natives and whose political activities pretty much throughout all of its history were concentrated on the European continent, mostly in the internal politics of the Holy Roman Empire (the only exception I can think of was the Czechoslovak military equipment support of Israel in the late 1940s and the Czechoslovak legions during the WW1 which at one point occupied large parts of the Trans-siberian Railway and its surroundings but that was only because the Russians did not allow them to go home to the west, so they had to take over and go east over the Pacific).

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            In USSR (where I grew up), if you saw people of African descent around (which was rare), they would likely be graduate students studying abroad. In the US, most people of African descent are descendants of people brought to North America on slave ships, and who have been systematically and viciously discriminated against (in ways actually enshrined in law way into the 1960s in places). Countries in Eastern or Central Europe are a bad control group for US race relations for this reasons — the cohorts involved are just too different in size, composition, and history.

            A better control group for the US is the UK, where most African descent people were also brought on slave ships (typically to Bristol — Bristol has a significant African-descent population to this day). But the UK outlawed slavery much earlier, and did not have an ugly civil war, or a significant cotton industry, or anything like Jim Crow. And race relations were significantly better and the amount of dysfunction was significantly less in the UK (but the situation with e.g. Irish descent folks was a lot worse…). I lived in the UK for a while, and I thought this was very interesting. The contrast between the US and the UK finally made me understand that the US has serious dysfunction specifically due to its history.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            A better control group for the US is the UK, where most African descent people were also brought on slave ships (typically to Bristol — Bristol has a significant African-descent population to this day).

            Erm, no, the first big wave of African immigration to Britain was in the 1950s and 60s, long after the abolition of slavery.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I am sure a lot of African descent folks came later, but African “immigration” started with the slave trade, see here:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_British#17th_and_18th_centuries

            It’s true that a lot of latter immigration to the UK was descendants of folks from the New World somewhere, whose ancestors were brought there. England didn’t have a ton of actual african slavery.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            There were a few thousand former slaves, sure, but their demographic effect was dwarfed by the immigration of the 1950s onwards.

          • Tibor says:

            I visited Bordeaux last week and I noted a) how many black people there were there and b) how clearly “french” they were, i.e. save for them being ethnically different, I have not noticed any differences between the white and black Frenchmen in the way they dressed, talked etc. This seems to be in contrast with at least the media depiction of blacks and whites in the US.

            I should probably mention that I have only spent a few days there and have not talked much to the locals.

            Another observation was that, contrary to the stereotype, most French people there were completely fine with speaking English (even though some could not speak very well so then I tried to talk to them in Spanish, especially when I went to Toulouse and Carcasonne which are already very close to Spain) and save for one lady in a baguette shop they were very nice and polite even though I don’t speak any French (I can say bon jour and merci and routinely say “sí” instead of “oui”)

          • Psmith says:

            contrary to the stereotype

            I’m told the stereotype is more of Parisians than French generally.

          • LHN says:

            My experience even with Parisians is that if you start with “Bonjour” and ask instead of assuming, it’s rarely a problem.

            I did run into one ticket-seller who, when I asked, “Parlez-vous anglais?” answered “Non.” But about two sentences into my no doubt badly-pronounced high school French, he relented: “I speak a little English.”

            (Which I took to mean “I’ll talk! I’ll talk! Stop doing that to my language!”)

            But I’ll never forget the first time my wife and I arrived in Paris and looked at the Metro map to figure out how to get to our hotel. We pretty much had it, but a woman saw us, took us in hand, guided us on the Metro all the way to our stop, and made sure we were heading in the right direction before she left us.

            A single anecdote, of course, not a population study. But whenever I hear about rude Parisians, I think of her.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Stereotypes like “people from City X are rude” are usually stereotypes originating with people from other cities in the same country, which usually are from rivalries.

          • Tibor says:

            @LHN: I had a similar experience with two people. One night the tram did not leave from the station when we wanted to get on for some reason (normally it does stop there) and we had to walk around to get to a different one. A guy came to us and he walked with us to the next station, true he was also headed in that direction but he was extremely friendly. He actually said that “Us French, we are so impolite to foreigners and don’t want to talk it English, so I try to make it up for them”. Then one other night we stopped a girl who also helped us find the way and when my friend asked her about some typical local places to visit, she asked her for her phone number and when she did not have it (she is only staying in France till Christmas) she gave her her Facebook contact and told her she would find some places for her and write her.

            As you said, still an anecdote and I’ve never been to Paris, so I cannot compare.

            There was one lady in McDonald’s who seemed otherwise friendly but did not speak English or Spanish and when I asked about German she very pronouncedly said “Alemán no!” 🙂

            But if nothing else I had to update my prior about the French hospitality as my experience was significantly better than what people who visited (pretty much only Paris though) France told me or what the stereotype is.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            “There were a few thousand former slaves, sure, but their demographic effect was dwarfed by the immigration of the 1950s onwards.”

            Sure! I guess the larger point here is history of minority populations matter a lot for minority/majority relations in a country.

      • Unirt says:

        Same experience for me – mildly biased against whites, and I’m also from an area where there are hardly any blaks around. The reason is likely that I associate whites with their old-time crimes against blacks.

      • Tekhno says:

        I was supposedly mildly racially biased against white people and in favour of black people.

        I feel this fits with Scott’s interpretation. In the USA there are cultural reasons for the negative associations with blacks that don’t require that you hate then, whereas in a country with hardly any black people, it’s possible you think hardly anything about black people at all. If all you know is white people, then when measuring negative feelings, your mind is going to bring up everything you see in the environment around you and all the childhood associations that involves white people.

        • Tibor says:

          I think that under your interpretation I should be more likely to associate both bad AND good traits with whites. So I should be generally faster at associating anything I am supposed to associate with whites than at associating good or bad things with blacks. If I’m not mistaken, this should even out the score so I should come out unbiased in either direction.

    • hyperboloid says:

      @Bram Cohen

      I’m not sure if the relevant variable there was black or New York; I’m not sure what the racial dynamics of the mid to late eighties upper west side were like.

      I have lived in Baltimore my entire life, and I can count the number of times I’ve felt genuine hostility coming from anybody while walking down the street on one hand. And even then the only cases that come to mind involve people who were ether obviously drunk, or homeless and mentally unbalanced.

      @Sandy

      That Doesn’t surprise me in the least bit, but keep in mind, there are many places in the country, though probably not in the tristate area, where it just as easily could have been a group of white teenagers. In fact I’d bet that a disproportionate amount of the most serious kind of violence against south Asians is perpetrated by whites.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        I have lived in Baltimore my entire life, and I can count the number of times I’ve felt genuine hostility coming from anybody while walking down the street on one hand. And even then the only cases that come to mind involve people who were ether obviously drunk, or homeless and mentally unbalanced.

        That’s kind of surprising to hear, because I’ve had more or less the opposite experience.

        I lived in one of the crappier neighborhoods of the South Bronx for years without ever being bothered or feeling unsafe. Then I visited Baltimore for one night earlier this year and that totally redefined my standards for bad neighborhoods.

        I’m over 6′ tall, look like a shaved gorilla in a v-neck and am constantly mistaken for a cop (the hair maybe?). Until that point I’d never had people sizing me up anywhere near that blatantly or had groups of young black guys following me down the street before. It was totally unreal.

        • Yrro says:

          Perhaps the common thing is the “not from ’round here” factor.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Maybe, it sounds plausible.

            Nevertheless, it made for one hell of a bad first impression. Baltimore was fun in the daytime but I’ll be damned if I ever spend another night there.

        • Tekhno says:

          groups of young black guys following me down the street before.

          I doubt they thought you were a cop. I doubt they’d be dumb enough to stalk a cop.

        • hyperboloid says:

          @Dr dealgood

          Where were you, specifically?

          Because your millage may vary by neighborhood and time of day.

          Also when you say that people were “sizing you up”, that’s not necessarily and indicator of hostile intent. Your dealing with people who live in places where the police are seen as a foreign occupying army, and consequently most of them depend on their own devices to resolve disputes. In that kind of Hobbesian environment young men have to maintain a reputation for responding to any kind of serious disrespect with violence lest they become targets for violence themselves. If you live in a place like that sizing people up, especially large intimidating people who don’t look like there form around there, is just default behavior. It’s quite likely people were thinking less “let’s rob this fool” and more “is this guy going to be a problem?”.

          As for guys following you, that’s more concerning. Was this a large group of guys? Did they say anything? Are you sure they were following you? because there are pretty simple ways to check.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Where were you, specifically?

            Because your millage may vary by neighborhood and time of day.

            About a 15-20min walk from Johns Hopkins Hospital: looking at a map, maybe Fell’s Point or Patterson Park? I think I was south of Orleans st but I’m not sure, this was a few months back.

            It was a little after midnight and I was coming back from a bar with an out-of-town girl. We were both dressed for interviews but nothing too flashy or expensive-looking.

            If you live in a place like that sizing people up, especially large intimidating people who don’t look like there form around there, is just default behavior. It’s quite likely people were thinking less “let’s rob this fool” and more “is this guy going to be a problem?”.

            That’s entirely possible, but also not terribly reassuring.

            As for guys following you, that’s more concerning. Was this a large group of guys? Did they say anything? Are you sure they were following you? because there are pretty simple ways to check.

            It was two times, first a lone guy then after that a group of 4-6. I don’t remember anything specific that they said, but they were definitely following behind us. Keeping a constant distance and only turning off down side streets after I looked back to make it clear I knew they were there and reached my hand into my coat pocket. Which, in retrospect, was a really stupid bluff but it’s all I could come up with at the time.

            I wasn’t exactly running a gauntlet, and it’s entirely possible that you’re right and they weren’t planning on starting anything unprovoked. But it was still a huge relief to get back to my hotel. There was a definite hostility in Baltimore beyond what I’m used to in the city.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            About a 15-20min walk from Johns Hopkins Hospital: looking at a map, maybe Fell’s Point or Patterson Park? I think I was south of Orleans st but I’m not sure, this was a few months back.

            So if I have your story straight, you left from an interview at Johns Hopkins, you walked south to a bar in upper fells point stayed there until after midnight, and then walked back to your hotel (I’m guessing the Marriott at Harbor east, but maybe one of the hotels by the convention center).

            Meaning you cut through an area somewhere between Orleans, and fleet street, which would have put you in either Perkins homes, or Douglas homes……

            Well you got a good up close after dark look at some of our city’s finest open air drug markets. I can see why you had a problem.

            I just want to say that area should not be taken as representative of Baltimore as a whole.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            lol well I guess that explains all the guys on street corners.

            And yeah, I felt like a putz for taking that route. A group of us, including some locals, had gone down to the bar by a really roundabout convoluted route but I couldn’t remember it and just punched the hotel into Google Maps.

            Where would you recommend btw? I saw a nicer neighborhood earlier that day with a lot of hipster-y art stuff all over, but was pretty busy and didn’t get many chances to explore when the sun was out.

      • Cliff says:

        It doesn’t seem likely that a disproportionate amount of any kind of violence is perpetrated by whites, unless you mean between whites and Asians in California, in which case yes okay.

        • baconbacon says:

          There isn’t a disproportionate amount of illegal violence perpetrated by whites, quite a few people are disgusted at the prison system.

          • Cliff says:

            Can you elaborate? Are you saying the “violence” of forceful imprisonment or criminal is a violence committed disproportionately by whites?Is that what you think the original commentor was referring to?

          • baconbacon says:

            Can you elaborate? Are you saying the “violence” of forceful imprisonment or criminal is a violence committed disproportionately by whites?Is that what you think the original commentor was referring to?

            When a group is in power it is pretty typical for them to institutionalize the types of violence they prefer. The people drafted and killed in Vietnam don’t show up in the statistics, nor do the Vietnamese who died as a result. People against #BLM will often point to black on black crime rates vs white on black (or white on white) and smugly ask who the problem is, while not caring about the systemic violence that blacks arguably face.

          • Cliff says:

            So your point is that whites unjustly imprison people more than other races, or what? Is there some evidence of that?

        • hyperboloid says:

          The link that I posted dealt with hate crimes against Sikhs. I think that’s highly likely to be a category of violence strongly associated with some of the less pleasant members of the red tribe.

          • Bland says:

            It’s interesting that you think that, since the two young men who attacked and hit the Sikh with their car are likely hispanic (based on their last names).

            Are hispanics mostly considered to be part of the red tribe now?

          • hyperboloid says:

            The article I linked to lists a number of acts of violence, including the murder of one Gurcharan Singh Gil, by an unknown assailant who appears to be of “Caucasian” appearance. Though it’s not possible to make a definitive statement on the perpetrators ethnic background based just on grainy security footage . Another, unrelated attack was commented by a man named Gilbert Garcia.

            At no point have I claimed that all violence committed against south Asians was committed by the sort of working class whites we associate with the “red tribe”.

            On the other hand there have been a string of incidents over the past fifteen years in which Sikhs have been targeted, (apparently under the false belief that they are Muslim) including a case where a white supremacist killed six people at a temple in Wisconsin.

            If you hear that a bomb has gone off at a synagogue in France, Islamic extremist being responsible is a good prior to start with, though there are still other possibilities. Similarly, if you hear that somebody has gone out to shoot “rag heads”, you have a good clue as to their background.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @hyperboloid:

            That epithet definitely creates an image in my mind of the sort of person who says it – definitely white, and thanks to my stereotyping, probably with a vague southern US accent.

            Gets me thinking: If a white guy and a black guy both yell ethnically-based abuse at, say, a Middle Eastern guy, will they use different slurs? I know that different groups have different terms of abuse for white people, but that’s about it.

          • Bland says:

            @hyperboloid

            Doesn’t it give you pause that out of the four criminals in the crimes mentioned in the article, three of them are likely hispanic (and the last one who might be guilty of a botched robbery instead of a hate crime may or may not be hispanic based on the surveillance video footage)? Does it make you doubt at all the narrative that islamophobia either has or will lead to widespread violence by non-hispanic whites against muslims or suspected muslims?

            Anyway, I’ll take your bet from above:

            I’d bet that a disproportionate amount of the most serious kind of violence against south Asians is perpetrated by whites.

            Here’s why:
            (I’m not sure if by whites you mean non-hispanic whites or whites including those who identify as hispanic, so I’ll show this for the latter since it’s a little more straightforward. It works out just as well for non-hispanic whites.
            Also, I’m going to try to make all assumptions fall in the favor of your side of the bet. Some of them are facially ridiculous, but the data are still clearly on my side of the bet.
            The data I used were from 2012 because that is the most recent year for which I could find all the data that I needed.)

            According to the FBI, in 2012 there were about 4000 hate crime victims of crimes against persons.

            FBI hate crime victim data does not include Asian Indians in its breakdown, so let’s just cast as large a net as possible to include hate crimes from any category that could reasonably be a hate crime against an Asian Indian due to his country of origin, race, or religion. This would include hate crimes motivated by a racial bias when the victim’s race is Asian/Pacific Islander or more than one race, those motivated by religious bias with the bias being either anti-muslim or anti-other religion, and those motivated by any ethnicity or national origin bias except anti-hispanic bias. 13% of hate crime victims were targeted for any of these reasons. So the maximum number of hate crime victims who are Asian Indians is about 520.

            Also according to the FBI, in 2012 there were 760,000 aggravated assaults. That year about 63% of aggravated assaults were committed by whites (based on arrests). So about 280,000 aggravated assaults were committed by non-whites in 2012 and 480,000 aggravated assaults were committed by whites.

            The US population is about 0.9% Asian Indian. So we can expect there to have been about 2500 Asian Indian victims of assaults committed by non-whites in 2012 and 4300 Asian Indian victims of assaults committed by whites (assuming one victim per assault which gives the advantage to your side of the bet).

            In order to be committing crimes against Asian Indians proportionally, whites would have to commit 77% of the crime since that is their percentage of the population. Using the best possible assumptions for your case (assuming that all 520 hate crimes were committed by whites against Asian Indians, and that none of the hate crimes were included in the other crime total), the maximum number of Asian Indian victims of aggravated assault by whites is about 4800 or 66%. (Also note: this is comparing all hate crimes categorized as crimes against persons with just one segment of general crime, aggravated assault.)

            So we can be very confident that the statement, “a disproportionate amount of the most serious kind of violence against south Asians is perpetrated by whites,” is false.

      • 2stupid4SSC says:

        This is very surprising.

        I am from Texas and regularly experienced the random yelling/physically menacing from black kids(exclusively) throughout my k-12 education. Maybe this particular behavior, as in the original story, is more common with kids?

        As an adult I would say 50% of my trips downtown involve somebody giving my some kind of unwanted attention, this is often from homeless people though.

        • Daniel Keys says:

          Oh yes, I can add two more incidents if we’re talking about possibly homeless people. One was a woman who sat across from me at a pizza place and breathed vomit-smell at me; the other was a guy hanging out near the door to my place of business asking for money, and I walked him some distance away when I saw that two young women did not want to leave while he was there. No real hostility, though.

          • 2stupid4SSC says:

            I have had homeless people scream threats and obscenities at me, it is particularly harsh when walking with a friend who smokes, as every other homeless person seems to ask for cigarettes even if they ignore everyone else walking by. I also know that a homeless man was arrested from a coffee shop(in my neighborhood), that is open late, for cornering a girl and exposing himself to her.

            But I must admit I might not be the best source, I have a (probably) very irrational fear of physical harm perpetrated against my person by strangers. I might be seeing danger and hostility where another person would not. It seems to me this could explain some of the apparent difference of experience between people on this topic.

            Edit: Reading all the comments I see that my position might not be clear. I am not trying to say that men have it worse than women, rather that I was just shocked that @hyperboloid had never felt threatened in public.

      • Bram Cohen says:

        I spent a lot of time when I was younger wandering around Manhattan at night. Never once did someone act threatening towards me then. Lots of people asked if I wanted to buy drugs, but the drug dealers were quite pointedly trying to keep the peace, not looking for trouble.

        The people acting threatening were generally solo and didn’t press further. They’re probably mostly crackheads acting like crackheads.

        • hyperboloid says:

          Growing up in manhattan I had the common experience of walking down the street minding my own business and people acting threatening towards me

          October 14,

          I spent a lot of time when I was younger wandering around Manhattan at night. Never once did someone act threatening towards me then

          October 15

          ¿Que?

          • Anonymous says:

            The two paragraphs of the October 15th comment contradict each other on this point, so it’s probably just some words that got left out. (unless it’s just that no threats were at night)

          • Bram Cohen says:

            The ‘at night’ is the difference. People left other people alone at night and did open harassment during the day.

      • hyperboloid says:

        @Dr Dealgood

        There are, of course, the obvious touristy places around the harbor, but with exception of the aquarium, I think they are mostly a waste of time.

        If you’d walked only a few blocks south of where you were you’d have been in fells point, a highly gentrified neighborhood with lots of boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. North and west of there is upper fells point, which roughly covers the area from South Broadway to Paterson park (the exact boundaries are a little bit blurry, and it can get sketchier close to Broadway).
        It’s the closest thing Baltimore has to a barrio, so it’s a great place for Mexican and central American food. Also, little Italy of course.

        As for a “hipster-y” art scene, Mt. Vernon, and the arts and entertainment district at Station North. If your in that part of town, check out Qayum Karzai’s restaurants The Helmand, and Tapas Teatro. The man may rule Kandahar like a warlord, but he got is start as a Baltimore restaurateur, and he knows his business.

        • Deiseach says:

          If your in that part of town, check out Qayum Karzai’s restaurants The Helmand, and Tapas Teatro. The man may rule Kandahar like a warlord, but he got is start as a Baltimore restaurateur, and he knows his business.

          This makes me smile, thanks for that, hyperboloid!

          “I’m not saying Baltimore is rough, but after the stress, risk and danger of running hospitality businesses in Baltimore, being an Afghani politician is a walk in the park” 🙂

          • hyperboloid says:

            Thanks, but did I really just type “your” and “got is start”?

            ugh…. I really got to start proofreading these things .

          • dndnrsn says:

            There’s some statistic along the lines of “[high number]% of restaurants go out of business after 2-3 years” I’ve seen. Not sure if it’s local to my city. I wonder if the stat is lower, or higher, for Afghan politicians?

    • Anon says:

      I finally bothered to take one and it showed I was “moderately” biased against black people. I’d be interested in what the result would have been if I’d taken the test before moving to Brooklyn, where in 6 years time I’ve encountered more explicitly anti-white racists than I did in my entire life previously (to say nothing of the recent onslaught of BLM videos depicting the worst sorts of behavior).

      • The Most Conservative says:

        Do you know if other parts of New York are like this, or is it just Brooklyn?

      • hyperboloid says:

        Where did you live before? what do you expect the mean rate of encountering anti-white racism to be?

    • Daniel Keys says:

      OK, so, you’re making the assumption that what you experienced is “more dangerous-feeling” than catcalling. Having never felt that myself even when walking or driving in a dubious neighborhood (the latter being the only clear memory of hostility that comes to mind), I have no clear reason to buy your premise. Women say they feel threatened when catcalled, and some say trans women experience more of this street harassment. Here’s a first-hand source, albeit framed as mockery of someone named Lewak:

      To my first catcaller: I realize I seemed startled when you told me I had a nice ass. Forgive me. I was but 11 years old and still naïve to the ways of love. You were doing your best to help a young girl understand her femininity, and I insulted your efforts by running away. I wish I could turn back the clock…

      To the frat daddies in Texas who chased me in that pickup truck as I walked home from work: I realize now that you had no choice but to aim your tire into that puddle and splash water all over me. I was, after all, ignoring your whistles and hollers. I was also ignoring our shared history. Lewak writes, “I imagine the catcall stretches back to ancient construction times, when the Israelites were building the pyramids, with scores of single Jewish women hiking up their loincloths, hoping for a little attention.” Had I thought more about the Israelites, I might have smiled at you.

      To the countless others: I am sorry I’ve not been more responsive to your affectionate gestures. In an attempt at better understanding, I just have but one question: Considering that you are acting only out of generosity and an appreciation of female beauty, why don’t you share the love when I’m accompanied by a gentleman?

    • The Most Conservative says:

      I’ve also noticed black guys yelling at me, but I’ve always assumed it was some combination of high extraversion, high disinhibition, and wanting me to give them money. Does anyone have tips for dealing with this situation? Typically I just avoid making eye contact and pretend I can’t hear, but recently it occurred to me that it might be better to yell something back about how I have to get somewhere.

      • Zombielicious says:

        Navigating those types of situations (skin color irrelevant) is an extremely context-dependent social skill (something like charisma + experience + wisdom, or just picking up on thousands of subtle cues) that some people have and others don’t. Sometimes responding is an invitation, other times ignoring is at least a mild insult. If you’re the type of person who sucks at it and can’t tell the difference, whatever you do, at least don’t make it sound horribly inauthentic. The people yelling may not lack those skills and it’ll be obvious that you have no clue what you’re doing or how to respond (which is information you probably don’t want to give away if you’re just trying to fake it and move on). As in acting, there are lots of good actors, but not every good actor is good in every role. It helps to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and have a persona you can fall into easily for those types of situations.

        This applies to the general situation of “strangers yelling at me on the street,” regardless of any other specifics.

        • Cliff says:

          Probably some slight shake of your head is optimal- you’re not acting like the person is invisible, but you’re not interested

    • pku says:

      We took one once in out high school psychology class, which showed that I was biased to think women weren’t as good as men at science/math. To which I responded, “well yeah”. It was one of those interesting things where I just assumed it was obvious, and the teacher assumed and was regressive and prejudiced and no one would ever admit to thinking it. (Fortunately she was an actual reasonable authority figure, so her response was pretty much “huh.”)

  17. Jiro says:

    My impression was that Biosphere 2 was not very well done as a scientific experiment and was inspired by the pseudoscientific “Gaia hypothesis”. It ended up providing a dose of reality when the ecosystem in it did not magically stay in balance as expected.

    • Oscar Cunningham says:

      In that case isn’t it a good experiment? It managed to disprove their hypothesis.

    • It makes more sense to me to view Biosphere 2 as exploration rather than an experiment.

    • sconn says:

      I read a fascinating book on it. Seemed to me that a big part of why it failed is that so much of the structure was made of concrete, and concrete apparently absorbs CO2, which they didn’t know. There were also other unforeseen problems — an unusually rainy year, ecosystems more complex than they’d thought, and loads and loads of interpersonal problems. Seemed to me many of these problems could be fixed in subsequent attempts ….. but the interpersonal problems would be a problem for any group of 8 people or whatever it was. Perhaps it would have helped if they’d had Facebook.

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      @ Jiro
      My impression was that Biosphere 2 was not very well done as a scientific experiment and was inspired by the pseudoscientific “Gaia hypothesis”. It ended up providing a dose of reality when the ecosystem in it did not magically stay in balance as expected.

      I don’t know whether this is a fair description, as I never looked into the Gaia theory. It smelled vague, wishy-washy — and dangerous to assume our Biosphere 1 system can “magically stay in balance” no matter what we throw into it

  18. MugaSofer says:

    This talk of implicit bias references a whole psychological field centered around the Implicit Association Test.

    Does it?

    I’m pretty sure the notion of implicit (as opposed to explicit) bias existed before the IAT.

    “Persons who do not hold overt racist attitudes do not have to worry about some deeply-hidden, unknown, unconscious attitudes influencing their work decisions.”

    This seems like a very odd claim to me – I think most people would claim that their beliefs on most topics are unbiased, or that they’re unaware of any ways in which they’re biased but would strive to do better if they noticed. I also think most (all?) people are, in fact, clearly biased.

    In your own essay Social Justice For The Highly-Demanding-Of-Rigor, you describe studies that found bias in job searches:

    47% of interviewed whites were offered jobs, compared to only 11% of interviewed blacks – a gigantic difference. Multiplying these two numbers together, we find that 23% of whites and 4% of blacks involved in the experiment got jobs – a difference of almost 6x… In one such study, researchers, instead of training real applicants, send off fake resumes with extremely white-sounding or extremely black-sounding names; they find employers respond to the white-sounding names about 50% more often. But it also has some studies of in-person interview similar to the ones above. These studies, which are from the mid-2000s rather than the early 1990s, feature white:black success ratios of anywhere from 1.5x to 5x.

    These numbers seem significantly higher than the numbers of people who would openly admit to these practices, even accounting for the fact that they’re illegal.

    Maybe I’m just underestimating the number of explicit racists.

    However, other types of discrimination study you mention in that essay suggest otherwise:

    Interestingly enough, black car salesmen, and black owned car dealerships, displayed this pattern to exactly the same degree as white-owned institutions… although black bus drivers were a bit nicer to blacks than white bus drivers, they still let whites and Asians on more often… female faculty were more biased against female grad students than male faculty were … ideas of certain races and genders being superior seem to percolate into people’s consciousnesses, regardless of what race those people themselves are, and shape their actions whether they mean for them to or not.

    It seems unlikely that women and ethnic minorities explicitly endorse discrimination against them at exactly the same rates as non-women and non-minorities.

    Of course, you wrote that essay before the IAT began to seem discredited, and it explicitly cites the IAT as evidence that we’re all implicitly biased. Do you feel that invalidates your conclusion at the end there, explicitly endorsing the idea that “ideas of certain races and genders being superior seem to … shape their actions whether they mean for them to or not”?

    • Aapje says:

      A potential issue with the ‘name’ test is that names are not merely related to ethnicity, but also to class. My theory is that lower-class black people more often choose names that are considered ‘black’ than middle/upper-class black people.

      So there may be a confounding effect here, where they compared lower-class black names with upper/middle class white names.

      • Alsadius says:

        Yeah, I’d love to see it repeated with Dushane vs Jim-Bob and see where the numbers come out.

      • dndnrsn says:

        The names the study used some names to indicate “white” which are actually Biblically-derived (Sarah, Anne, Matthew, Greg). This is in and of itself rather bigoted and ignorant, in ignoring that the “centre of gravity” of Christendom has shifted to Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. And it’s not as though you don’t have countries in Africa that were colonized by the English where people now have names we think of as “white”. For instance, searching for “Gregory Nigerian” brings up three Wikipedia pages of Nigerian guys named Gregory on the first Google page – I wonder if anyone has informed them that they’re white?

        Their methodology is pretty spotty, too:

        The next step is to generate identities for the fictitious job applicants: names, telephone numbers, postal addresses and (possibly) e-mail addresses. The choice of names is crucial to our experiment. To decide on which names are uniquely African American and which are uniquely White, we use name frequency data calculated from birth certificates of all babies born in Massachusetts between 1974 and 1979. We tabulate these data by race to determine which names are distinctively White and which are distinctively African American. Distinctive names are those that have the highest ratio of frequency in one racial group to frequency in the other racial group.

        Massachusetts 1974-1979 is not representative of the US, let alone the world. Then:

        As a check of distinctiveness, we conducted a survey in various public areas in Chicago.

        Wait, so they used name data from Massachusetts in the 70s, then checked them in Chicago?

        (But oh wait one of the people who did the study is based at the U of Chicago, the other at Harvard. Obviously, they tried really really hard to do this correctly.)

        The section of the study where they discuss its weaknesses addresses neither of the above issues, nor the extremely obvious class-based one – that they chose “white” names that scream “affluent”, especially for the women, and for the black names they chose ones that are not merely “generically black” but that carry various socioeconomic connotations.

        This is like setting up a study with white names like “Cletus Podunk” and Middle Eastern names like “Prince Abdulrahman al-Saud”, sent out applications to buy million-dollar condos, and then concluding that real estate developers discriminate against white people in favour of Middle Easterners. This study is awful. And they aren’t even sociologists. One is a business prof, the other an economist.

      • sohois says:

        I did recently read, though I cannot now find where, that a follow up study on the black/white name issue was entirely confounded by socio economic factors. The white name used had no association with a specific class whilst the black name was linked to the lower class; when this name was replaced by another that did not have this class linkage, but was still historically black, the bias went away.

        Unfortunately without the original source I can’t confirm this for sure.

  19. LPSP says:

    Consider also that the IAT shows biases in its choice of faces and words.

    – It is frustrating that I cannot remember the range of words included in the positives and negatives, but what I *do* remember are the words excluded. “Healthy” and “Unhealthy”, “Triumphant” and “Disappointing”, “Strong” and “Weak”, “Awesome” and “Lame”, and similiar such pairs were completely thematically missing from the line-up. The positives and negatives, to my best recollection, were confined to “Nasty” versus “Nice”, “Peaceful” versus “Troublesome” and similar such pairs. In addition to revealing an implicit bias in the attitudes, I consider it a strong possibility that this selection gives an unfair advantage to whites over blacks.

    – The selection of black and white faces do not seem to reflect the average for their ethnicities. The white faces are overwhelmingly tan skinned, dark-haired, dark-eyed and thin, sharp-nosed. Further, I feel there was an overall gap in both the general looks and the seeming intelligence of the faces used in the photos. I’m not claiming I am familiar enough to know the average for these groups, but if an option was included to rate each face in looks and percieved intelligence of 10, I’d have given the white faces average scores for looks and moderately high scores for intelligence, and low scores for the blacks. This strike me as unfair conditions for the black faces, because the test is then conflating association with good-looking, intelligent-seeming people for positive terms. A way to improve the test would thus be to control for this, gauging just these principles and seeing if they correlate moreso with positive word association than the skin colour. Certainly a more diverse array of white facial types and black facial types would help in general.

    • Gazeboist says:

      …The white faces are overwhelmingly tan skinned…

      Race is weird. That’s all I have to say right now.

  20. scav says:

    I love these almost as much as the last ones.

    I wonder if steering the discussion of “cops shooting lots of unarmed black kids” in the direction of “implicit bias” is because that is less threatening to a certain segment of the electorate.

    After all, implicit bias is nobody’s fault. It needs to be “addressed”, but nobody’s ass needs to get fired for it. Whereas flat out race hatred and a psychopathic glee in shooting people and getting away with it–while arguably a more urgent problem–is a bit more challenging to discuss.

    (To the extent that this is what’s happening. Not saying it’s only that, but it certainly looks like a factor)

    • qwints says:

      I believe candidate Hillary Clinton has never said police officers should be prosecuted for shooting unarmed black men. From her speeches, accountability appears to be the DOJ getting consent decrees against entire departments, not police getting fired or going to jail.

      • teucer says:

        Which seems appropriate in many cases, but way the hell not in departments with noticeable numbers of Klansmen and the like. (Such departments are not rare, but they also don’t represent the entirety of American law enforcement, especially not in the large cities where most police-on-unarmed-civilian shootings occur.)

  21. Jordan D. says:

    What’s a cactus?

  22. Oscar Cunningham says:

    It’s a shame that the Sword of Chang turned out not to be the Lance of Longinus 🙁

  23. Deiseach says:

    So my question for you is: would you be willing to take an Implicit Association Test measuring how easily you associate your own name vs. your opponents’ names with the adjective “crooked”?

    I will pay you my life savings if you do this, Hillary. That is a promise 🙂

    The Gary Johnson one is perfection.

    Re: Steve Bannon and the Biosphere, I had no idea. And that anecdote sounds nasty. On the other hand, given that the first attempt failed so badly, I do have to wonder if Bannon was cracking down on the kind of behaviour that caused the failure in the first instance, but got everyone’s backs up while doing so (that’s an abrasive management style, to say the least) and so they sabotaged the experiment because eff you man, we don’t care if we ruin it all, we’re gonna get you! It does sound as if Bannon was set up to be the bogeyman from the start (that bit about former crew members flying back to “warn” the others Bannon was coming sounds hyperbolic, to say the least) and I can see that a guy sent in to make the thing work and turn it around by changing the parameters versus a bunch of – I’m sorry to say – what sounds like “Bruce Dern in Silent Running” types as the crew was never going to end well and there would be friction and loss of temper on all sides.

  24. Alsadius says:

    A few thoughts.

    1) I’d love to see Trump answer the Updog question. That level of bluster would be hilarious.

    2) Does the implicit association theory you’re espousing imply that talking about the effects of racism leads to more racism?

    3) “Vox ‘zines” was a truly impressive pun.

  25. Bill Walker says:

    So you wouldn’t ask Hillary about the unnecessary Libyan War, or Syria, or anything that might lead to WWIII. And you’d ask Trump a joke question. And you wouldn’t ask Gary Johnson anything, because he might point out that you are supporting the War Candidate. Very nice.

    But the banks pick our officials anyway, according to Wikileaks:

    https://newrepublic.com/article/137798/important-wikileaks-revelation-isnt-hillary-clinton

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      The internet is serious business.

    • suntzuanime says:

      And you’d ask Trump a joke question.

      I feel like you may have misunderstood the premise here.

    • Deiseach says:

      The curse of being over-subtle strikes SSC again 🙂

    • Marvy says:

      You apparently missed the last episode, which makes it hard to follow this one. ALL the questions are jokes.

      http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/11/16/hardball-questions-for-the-next-debate/

    • yks says:

      When I see these “Hillary = WW3” posts I always wonder why is Russia not held accountable for WW3 anymore.
      As far as I know Syria is not the Russian soil yet (although that can change cause Russia loves to expand) so I doubt Russians are that insane to destroy themselves (and the outside world where they tend to keep money btw) over something that happens in Middle East.
      Their TV may be broadcasting ICBM launch simulations and fallout survival tips right now but they did so during the Cold War as well and the button has not been pressed.
      Of course it’s hard to say, maybe they truly became that insane but then the nuclear doom will happen rather sooner than later anyway.
      Disclaimer: Personally I think the US should just leave Syria and let Russians win stupid prizes themselves.

      • Lumifer says:

        I always wonder why is Russia not held accountable for WW3 anymore.

        You are welcome to go and complain about Mr. Putin.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        If WWIII breaks out, Russia will be at least equally to responsible for it. In both the causal and the moral senses of responsibility.

        But, and this is key, most of us commenting here have absolutely no ability whatsoever to control the actions of Russian politicians. Granted our ability to control American politicians is infinitesimally small but it’s at least nonzero.

      • Noth'el says:

        Because all the plausible routes to WWII at the moment involve the US doing something that is illegal under the law of war to the internationally recognized legitimate government of a country that Russia has special economic, military, and political tires with?

        As a rule we tend to assign both legal and moral responsibility to the bugler not the home owner.

        • Noth'el says:

          Maybe I shouldn’t say “plausible,” more like “discussed.”

        • Lumifer says:

          Like, um, Russia invading the Baltics?

        • Luke Somers says:

          The only plausible route to WWII is German invasion of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, and France, coinciding with Japanese invasion of Korea, China, and other Pacific nations; that will remain so regardless of who is president of either the USA or Russia.

  26. daronson says:

    Is Updog in the same region as Maiwand?

    • hlynkacg says:

      Not sure about Maiwand, but it does border Gounnon, and Mailayne.

      • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

        If I ever meet Gary Johnson in a bar, I’m totally asking him whether we ought to be doing something about the sectarian violence in Yoerz.

  27. Éna Gohan says:

    there have only been two self-sufficient ecosystems capable of maintaining human life. Your team has already destroyed one of them. The other is Earth.

    Does this mean that the second Biosphere 2 mission was working? I had always thought that Biosphere 2 was a failure, which made me pessimistic about the possibilities for human space habitats.

    I know you weren’t being entirely serious, but I’m having a hard time finding out why exactly Steve Bannon was to blame for the failure of the second mission. He obviously acted like an asshole but none of your links show that he was clearly at fault. Unless you mean that as the person in charge, ultimate responsibility lies with him.

    • John Schilling says:

      I’ve talked to participants of the first Biosphere 2 mission who indicate that it worked just fine as a laboratory in which to conduct experiments, but if it was treated as an experiment, singular, with the tested hypothesis being “we know how to build a large, complex, totally closed ecosystem from the ground up”, then the outcome there was a big negative. Which was obvious up front to, e.g., every engineer on the planet, but apparently half of the first crew were believers in the One Grand Experiment mission and the other half just wanted to do some good science while occasionally importing air to breath or whatnot.

      The second mission, intended to be united on that question under strong leadership, fell apart due to personal squabbling almost immediately.

      This has nothing to do with the possibilities for human space habitats, because human space habitats do not require duplicating five distinct and complex ecologies in toto and with mutual interaction. When people with actual spaceflight experience or expertise design experimental closed-ecology life support systems, they use maybe a dozen plant species and two or three animal, tops, and their intended measurement is not, “how long until everybody dies if we lock the doors and tape over the air holes?”, but “How much of what stuffs do we need to keep supplying to keep everyone alive indefinitely?”. Mars or even the Moon can provide at least small quantities of water, oxygen, etc, and there’s no Ecological Purity Police who will suspend your License to Colonize if you step outside to forage a bit. Or ask for an occasional bottle of vitamin pills or seeds from Earth, in the supply shipments you’ll need anyway for spare parts.

      • vV_Vv says:

        Indeed, one of the main skills needed to carry out proper scientific research is knowing how to get from a grand vision to some well-defined specific research questions that can be effectively investigated within your time, money and technological constraints.

        Newcomers to science (e.g. first-year PhD students) often want to tackle problems that are too broad, too ill-defined or just too ambitious. Consummate researchers, on the other hand, may err on the opposite side and lose track of the grand vision, investigating only minutiae that allow them to publish papers but that will be irrelevant in the long run.

        Biosphere 2, seen as a single experiment, was overly ambitious and ill-defined: they had to maintain a large closed ecosystem with five different biomes, provide oxygen, food and water for eight people, recycle their waste, while the same eight people were also responsible for the operation and maintenance of most of the core systems.

        Each of these subproblems is a major open research problems that could and should be investigated in isolation. Possibly you could investigate many of these problems at the same facility, but not as part of the same experiment.

        This excessive breadth created both technical problems, process engineering on an experimental facility is already hard on its own, doing it while you are starving and half-asphyxiating is pretty much impossible, and organization problems due to the lack of well defined hypotheses and success and failure conditions.

    • Deiseach says:

      There have only been two self-sufficient ecosystems capable of maintaining human life. Your team has already destroyed one of them. The other is Earth.

      God damn it, Scott, don’t make that sound like the kind of challenge that has one part of my brain going “Oh yeah, I wanna see that!” 🙂

      (The sensible parts of my brain – what few are left – are going “Now, you don’t want to see that happen”. The monkey-hanging-by-its-tail part is going “Why not, when there is tendentious reporting of this kind going on? If the hand-wringers are going to pretend the entire Great Barrier Reef was totally destroyed – and yeah, I know that killing off half* of it is not good but that’s not my point here – then I want to see their self-righteous mugs WHEN IT ALL BURNNNNNSSSSS!!!!“)

      *You have to read down through the entire treacly mess of guilt-tripping heart-strings tugging to get this nugget of actual information:

      As much as 50 percent of the coral in the warmer, northern part of the reef died. “The whole northern section is trashed,” Veron told Australia’s Saturday Paper. “It looks like a war zone. It’s heartbreaking.” With no force on earth capable of preventing the oceans from continuing to warm and acidify for centuries to come, Veron had no illusions about the future. “I used to have the best job in the world. Now it’s turned sour… I’m 71 years old now, and I think I may outlive the reef.”

      Oh. So it’s not the entire Reef. And only 50% of the northern half, so that means about three-quarters of it still remain, even if not in the greatest shape? Uh-huh. Fancy that.

      Well, if it’s all gonna die anyway because “no force on earth (is) capable of preventing the oceans from continuing to warm and acidify for centuries to come” (oh, and we’re talking a timescale of centuries now?), then what the hell, BURN IT ALL DOWN! LET US CAPER DRUNK, HIGH AND HALF-NAKED AROUND THE CONFLAGRATION! TO HELL WITH THE FUTURE, WHAT DID IT EVER DO FOR US?

      Bah, humbug. I’m a middle-aged, angry, suicidal depressive who all this week was crying for no reason as she walked to work because the mood, it is not good and who is right now stuffed to the gills with carbs from pizza because it’s cold, wet and I don’t feel like cooking so I got a take-away delivered instead. Don’t try wringing my withers, mister, I’ll bite your face off.

      • Luke Somers says:

        I hated that article. FFS, people. The Barrier Reef CAN die, but it is not ACTUALLY dead RIGHT NOW. Saying it is, when it isn’t (and you even go so far as to say so), is just taking credibility and shredding it.

  28. Ross Levatter says:

    Your Johnson question is of the appropriate length…

  29. Simon says:

    IATs are so popular because they are like Rorschach tests. You can interpret them in any way you choose, spin a convincing story about why the noisy data supports your conclusion, and walk away the rhetorical winner.

    This post is a good example of that. When people take IATs, they associate negative adjectives with African Americans. The conventional explanation for this is “people are racist, even if they don’t think they are”. This is an explanation consistent with the data.

    But Scott’s explanation is also consistent with the data, and on the basis of IATs alone we have no way of differentiating these two hypotheses.

    I’ll put forward a third one: meta-observation effects. Everybody-knows-that-everybody-knows that “US society is racist”. Everyone has had this drilled into them near-constantly since the 70s. Is it true? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe it was true then and isn’t now. Maybe it always was and still is true. But that doesn’t matter. What matter is that we are constantly told that this is true. Given that this is a piece of common knowledge, it is not unlikely that someone taking an IAT whose two subjects are Black People and White People, will have a pretty good idea of what the test is attempting to study, and why. This could act as a massive priming effect, happening because the test subjects subconsciously believe that this is the ‘correct’ answer the test is looking for.

    Is the above true? Maybe. Maybe no. I have no evidence for it. But it is also consistent with the IAT data. Which underscores my point: even if the IAT data is “real” in some sense, it is far from clear what this actually means.

    So when I hear a politician talk about how IATs are gonna be yuge when she’s in power (and especially when it’s pretty clear that she will be the one in power), it makes me nervous. You can read many different conclusions into the IAT data, and said data isn’t even consistent.

    Consider the quoted passage

    These findings reveal the need to aggressively weed out officers who hold conscious racial stereotypes and biases in order to avoid biased-based policing.

    It is pretty clear from reading between the lines that the intent of focusing on IATs is to use them to facilitate a witch hunt. Find the racists and fire them.

    We have a situation where a highly politically savvy person, one who has demonstrated a frightening proficiency with propaganda over the past year, is aggressively advocating for a rorschach test that she can read any conclusion she wants into, with the intent of using that to terminate employment of people who fail her politically-informed criteria. This is a horrifying example of a kafkaesque censorship and propaganda tool. It won’t be applied to racists (it can’t be; it’s not reliable or replicable), it will be applied to people that the existing power structure wants to get rid of. When it’s applied to favoured people, you better bet we’ll hear about how they aren’t perfect, they aren’t reliable, they still need to be interpreted. And for the deplorables? A single number score will come out, it will be below some arbitrary threshold (because it is for everyone), and they will be summarily judged as racists and terminated with no recourse. After all, IATs are “scientific”, you can’t argue with facts right?

    This is what real world fascism looks like. This is how tyrants silence their opposition and consolidate their power. It should scare you all a lot more than it appears to

    —-

    To end on a light note, a relatively humourous anecdote.

    At my office, there was some sort of instance of sexual misconduct on behalf of a manager (is my unconfirmed assumption). As part of damage control, they made the entire staff sit through an hour long presentation by a diversity consultant. This consultant was very highly paid, and came from a prestigious local firm that has had lots of popular press. The consultant was grossly incompetent. I counted dozens of trivial factual errors (and not-even-wrong quotes like “your brain processes 25,000 thoughts per second but you can only consciously process 16”). She gave no actionable advice. The only take-away from her talk was “we are all racists and sexists deep down inside, and you need to take IATs to purge yourself of the evil”.

    Her presentation was so bad, that the head of our office diversity team started trolling the speaker in the Q&A session at the end. Her presentation was so bad that the office manager (a dyed-in-the-wool social justice warrior) sent out a company wide email apologizing for wasting our time.

    But this woman gets to keep going around, billing likely a thousand bucks an hour, to preach for an hour about how we all need to take regular IATs to be good people. And she continues to get away with it, because IATs are just rorschach tests. You can read anything into them, and when someone reads the ‘wrong’ thing, you can handwave it away.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Does taking IATs influence behavior?

    • Deiseach says:

      So when I hear a politician talk about how IATs are gonna be yuge when she’s in power (and especially when it’s pretty clear that she will be the one in power), it makes me nervous.

      I actually don’t think this will be a problem, and I’ll tell you why. Making concrete promises (like “we’re going to take the bloody guns away from the cops”) is something that can be seen to be kept or not kept if (when) she gets into power. Making a black-and-white (if you’ll excuse the expression) policy commitment is something she can be held accountable for.

      Now, maybe it’ll be like Obama and Guantanamo and it’ll turn out to be “Er yeah, well, circumstances, y’know?” and everyone shuffles their feet and pretends Mr Progressive never said nuthin’ ’bout shuttin’ down no overseas bases.

      But Hillary is running too much of a machine campaign to be caught out on that. So this is the kind of SJW bafflegab that her metrics or analytics or social media or spin doctor team told her “The young people are all into this ‘implicit bias’ stuff, Madame Empress” which is why she’s using it, her running mate is using it, and it’s being splashed about like a fifteen year old with his first ‘cologne’. Sounds nice for the Black Lives Matter people, and if that sounds like me being cynical about her appealing to the African-American vote because that’s where the Democrats are strong, you bet your sweet life I am. (Also the white ‘allies’ on stuff like this, because they’ll lap it up even more and be all “Hillary is so progressive and enlightened!”)

      “We must get rid of implicit bias” ties them down to nothing. What are you going to do to get rid of implicit bias? “We’re gonna get rid of it”. Yes, but how? “Implicit bias is everywhere and we’re going to do something about it”.

      Nothing tangible, nothing that commits them to spending money or offending anybody. Maybe an extra layer of bureaucracy where people will have to sit these IAT nonsense tests, but if they try firing anyone on the basis of them, expect one hell of a fuss from the unions (especially the cops, if that’s where they’re going to try them).

    • Harry says:

      “This is what real world fascism looks like. This is how tyrants silence their opposition and consolidate their power. It should scare you all a lot more than it appears to”

      Historically speaking, nope. Real world fascism has always manifested itself fairly openly, with obvious manifestos (Mein Kampf, The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat), an obvious reliance on thuggish violence to silence opposition, and straightforward attempts to appeal to a conservative majority through things like (as in Italy) banning abortion and seeking to limit women’s role in the workforce or (as in Germany) a national racial scapegoat like the Jews.

      You can call Clinton many things – neoliberal, leftist, censorious – but her politics doesn’t resemble any “real world fascism.” Trump fits that model much more closely, and if you’re attempting to convince anyone, best to pivot the conversation away from that label entirely and focus on something else.

      • a non mouse says:

        Ha! Boy, it’s a good thing Democrats don’t have a national racial scapegoat!

        Nor do they unleash thuggish violence and have the controlled police look the other way:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/06/03/ugly-bloody-scenes-in-san-jose-as-protesters-attack-trump-supporters-outside-rally/

        That would be horrible.

        • Harry says:

          Only one candidate is loudly encouraging and endorsing the violence committed by his supporters.

          Also, what is the Dems’ “national racial scapegoat?” I genuinely have no idea what you’re referring to.

          • Cliff says:

            Is he really encouraging and endorsing violence? Do you have some links? People tend to say this kind of stuff all the time, “Trump openly advocates killing gay people!” “Trump is openly racist and admits to hating Mexicans!” which turn out never to be true. By the way I would never vote for Trump, I just hate this BS

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Cliff

            There are two examples that typically get brought up, both from around the time of the San Jose rally (where there had been clashes between Pro and Anti Trump protestors) The first has Trump saying “If you see a guy about to throw a tomato, smack him” and the other where he tells his supporters “don’t hurt him but if you do I’ll defend you in court” in reference to a protestor that had tried to rush the stage.

            The case is pretty week IMO, but not completely baseless.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The case about Trump supporters violence is based on an irritating double standard.

            1) You and yours must remain perfectly peaceful no matter what.

            2) We and ours can do whatever we want to you, from yelling and screaming in your rented hall to pushing your people around to throwing tomatoes to running through your rally destroying signs.

          • Harry says:

            @TheNybbler Idiots will be idiots, on both sides. A tiny group of Clinton’s supporters could bomb a hospital, or one of Trump’s supporters could turn up at a mall dressed in full Nazi regalia and shoot eight people, and in neither case should this reflect badly on the candidate in question as long as the violence is unequivocally disavowed.

            The issue is that only one candidate celebrates thuggish violence when it does occur. It might be relatively minor physical bullying that Trump encourages – he hasn’t called for anyone’s murder – but it’s unacceptable in a presidential candidate.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Do you think that telling followers to get in people’s faces or punch back twice as hard is a uniquely “Trumpian” trait?

          • “The issue is that only one candidate celebrates thuggish violence when it does occur.”

            Only one candidate’s supporters, so far as I have seen, initiate thuggish violence against the other candidate’s supporters at their events.

            Whether that says anything about the candidate depends on what the evidence is that she encourages or discourages it, which I don’t know. But it says at least a little about her supporters.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I haven’t heard of any Clinton supporters bombing a hospital, nor do I think a man who had been registered as a Democrat for 15 years who put on a Nazi uniform and shot up a mall is relevant to anything. As far as I know, he hadn’t declared for any candidate.

            What is relevant is that protestors have been disrupting Trump’s rallies and if Trump’s people (whether security or supporters) do anything about it, they and Trump seem to get all the blame. You don’t see Trump supporters disrupting Hillary rallies. So if you’re just looking at tactics, it sure looks like it is Clinton who is closer to real-world fascism.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Since when is political violence a fascist thing? In inter-war Germany, for instance, there were organized street-fighters associated with every party. I imagine the same was true in other European countries of the time.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ The Nybbler
            What is relevant is that protestors have been disrupting Trump’s rallies [….] You don’t see Trump supporters disrupting Hillary rallies. So if you’re just looking at tactics, it sure looks like it is Clinton who is closer to real-world fascism.

            Cites please? What evidence do you have as to the affiliation of these protestors? An alternative you are missing is, people who support neither major candidate: Bernie-or-Bust, third party candidates, Larouchers, KKK, extreme Leftists, rowdies who just like to fight, those who want a confused situation for looting or picking pockets.

            As to why they aren’t seen at Hillary events, her security may be better, and/or she plans events that are less hackable, so to speak: small neighborhood events, perhaps unannounced, in well-lit places.

          • Harry says:

            @TheNybbler Exactly my point – the examples of violence I gave have nothing to do with either candidate. Extremists on both sides. The problem comes when one candidate encourages the extremists.

            @dndnrsn Political violence, and the celebration of violence against political opponents, is on
            e of the main pillars of fascism – no really, it’s in all the manifestos. Violence can be employed by liberals, but it’s not central to the ethos in the same way.

            And @hlynkacg I appreciate the comment, but I believe there are a lot more incidents than those two, and a lot more pro-violence comments from Trump. They’re listed here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protests_of_the_Donald_Trump_presidential_campaign,_2016

            (Sorry, can’t link properly as I’m on my phone.)

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            What about the “Mothers of the Movement” and Hillary’s support of BLM in the face of riots and terrorist attacks?

            They’re supporters of hers, far and away the most violent group in modern American politics, and her campaign has been egging them on the whole time.

            Donald dragged his feet but eventually did disavow the KKK. When will Hillary disavow BLM?

          • Zombielicious says:

            … Hillary’s support of BLM in the face of riots and terrorist attacks? They’re supporters of hers, far and away the most violent group in modern American politics, and her campaign has been egging them on the whole time.

            [citation sorely needed]

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Harry:

            Violence is certainly part of the core ethos of fascism – “the punch and the slap”, to quote the Futurist Manifesto, which I would consider proto-fascist, in certain ways at least. You are right there. It is far more central to fascism than to liberalism. There is, of course, a third group that isn’t fascists or liberals, that has committed violence, and has justified it on political grounds, and arguably has it as fairly central – albeit central in a utilitarian fashion, not in both a utilitarian and an aesthetic/sensibility fashion as with fascism.

          • Andy says:

            David Friedman, what is the point of bringing up the actions of the supporters? What matters is how the candidates respond to the bad behavior.

            You and I self-identify as libertarians, but we wouldn’t want people to judge the movement by the actions of someone like Tim McVeigh, who had libertarian sympathies. Now, if libertarians made excuses for his mass murder, then it *would be* proper to judge them for that.

            Last year, a few Trump supporters beat up a homeless Mexican immigrant in Boston, saying Trump inspired them to do so.

            A normal candidate would have responded to the news by saying, “That’s really awful, and I condemn violence against innocent people.”

            Instead, Trump responded by saying “It would be a shame. . . . I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

            When an innocent person is beaten up, Trump can think of nothing to say but to commend his supporters for their enthusiasm. Has Clinton done anything remotely like that?

          • Levantine says:

            Andy: When an innocent person is beaten up, Trump can think of nothing to say but to commend his supporters for their enthusiasm. Has Clinton done anything remotely like that?

            Yes. She’s done:
            (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmIRYvJQeHM)

            You might respond, “Oh, that one, yes. I wouldn’t call Gaddafi an innocent person, though.” Five years ago, I emailed Noam Chomsky with a request: As he repeatedly called Gaddafi a “monster,” could he give me genuine evidence – any- of Gaddafi’s crimes against humanity? Chomsky says he spends hours each day answering emails. He never answered mine.
            I did my own research on this. All – without exaggeration, all the evidence in the media was fabricated. (I found one case of which Gaddafi could be guilty, but it’s obscure, completely unknown to the public. )

            Clinton’s problems re your question go far beyond that. Hundreds and likely thousands of civilian women and children were killed by the US & NATO allies’ bombing, and the so-called rebels’ actions. Has she ever called for more restraint in the “kinetic military action,” or more restraint by the rebels? And has she responded conscientiously about the virtually total destruction of that desert country’s infrastructure?

            I’m a European. Someone else might come up with cases in the US.

          • Levantine says:

            Boston incident is terrible. We need energy and passion, but we must treat each other with respect. I would never condone violence.
            — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2015

            http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/20/politics/donald-trump-immigration-boston-beating/

          • Andy says:

            For those following the Trump comments about the Boston beating, Trump made the comment about his “passionate” fans during a press conference, and later tweeted that the beating was terrible.

          • The Ghost of Andrew Jackson says:

            Democratic Party operatives have been caught on tape admitting that they’ve been sending activists to Republican rallies to try to start fights for the last twenty years. Naturally, it’s not supposed to be known that these activists are connected to the Democratic Party or, right now, the Clinton campaign. (Or that these operatives are hiring homeless people to provoke fights.)

            If I hire some homeless guy to go to a rally and get punched, and train him in my party’s time-tested methods for making sure to get punched at a rally, whose fault is it that he got punched? Especially if there are 25 rallies in a month, they draw a total of over a hundred thousand people, and all I need to do is find one person out of over a hundred thousand, at one of these 25 rallies, who punches someone who I’ve trained to provoke people into that sort of thing. And if someone just grabs the sign I’ve given him out of his hand, that can be spun as almost as bad as punching the guy.

      • vV_Vv says:

        Real world fascism has always manifested itself fairly openly, with obvious manifestos (Mein Kampf, The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat)

        The SCUM Manifesto, Intercourse, Assata: An Autobiography, and so on.

        an obvious reliance on thuggish violence to silence opposition

        Campus protesters shutting down Ben Shapiro, BLM shutting down Milo Yiannopoulos, and so on.

        and straightforward attempts to appeal to a conservative majority through things like (as in Italy) banning abortion and seeking to limit women’s role in the workforce

        Affirmative action.

        or (as in Germany) a national racial scapegoat like the Jews.

        You f**king white male!

        You can call Clinton many things – neoliberal, leftist, censorious – but her politics doesn’t resemble any “real world fascism.”

        She is not fascist or totalitarian herself, but she dangerously panders to fascist-like totalitarians.

    • teucer says:

      Your third theory presupposes that priming effects replicate. That’s occasionally true.

      (Also, I propose a moratorium on the use of the word “fascism” as a synonym for “totalitarianism”. All fascist states are totalitarian, but not all totalitarian states share any of the other common features of Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany.)

  30. John says:

    The candidates as Worm capes:

    Tagger Girl has the ability to generate and spray spraypaint within her range of fifty feet; she has fairly unsuccessfully taken to using this power to push corporations into respecting environmental standards and been arrested numerous times.

    Pothead can make people forget their knowledge of any topic by asking them about it. This confusion then spreads virally; anyone who’s forgotten something thanks to Pothead will cause others to forget about it when they ask them. Pothead has taken to infecting governmental offices and establishment media companies with amnesia of basic current events, all to promote a vague anarchist amnesia.

    First Lady enters into a “resting state” where she sleeps standing up, snoring loudly. While in this state, any sensory awareness of her is debilitating and, if sustained, lethal. Energy drained from those effected by First Lady’s power is used to heal and reinvigorate her.

    John Miller is a Tinker whose specialty is walls. He’s the best at building walls. Everyone loves his walls. He’s gonna build the best walls. Actually – actually, he’s gonna build the best everything. He’s the best at everything. His Tinker specialty is everything, and you’re gonna love it.

    • Anon says:

      I would read this fanfic so hard.

      • John says:

        Addendum:

        Utah Man is a Shaker 15 whose powers only work within the legal state bounds of Utah. He’s been campaigning unsuccessfully for several years now to merge other states into Utah. Utah Man snapping and becoming a villain is considered one of the main end-of-the-world scenarios by Cauldron.

  31. Bill Walker says:

    Thanks Simon… I shall go found an IAT company (I don’t know what they are, that should help keep costs down).

    John, that’s excellent. Pedantic grammar point: people are “affected” by the First Lady. Wars are “effected” by her.

  32. Soumynona says:

    I wonder how hard is it to train yourself to get “good” results on the IAT. Perhaps for a price of a couple of hours of repetitive drilling, you can make yourself look like an unbiased saint.

  33. Doug S. says:

    I’d rather ask Gary Johnson about the crisis in Abutfor.

  34. Bob Nickson says:

    “Twenty million American children five and under eat an average of eight pesticides every day through food consumption.”

    Eating eight pesticides. Is that anything like taking four marijuanas?

  35. The Most Conservative says:

    After a successful turnaround by Bannon & Co. in December 1995 the Biosphere 2 owners transferred management to Columbia University of New York City which embarked on a successful eight-year run at the Biosphere 2 campus.

    from wikipedia

    Some Biosphere-ites were concerned about Bannon, who had previously investigated cost overruns at the site. Two former Biosphere 2 crew members flew back to Arizona to protest the hire and broke into the compound to warn current crew members that Bannon and the new management would jeopardize their safety.

    Doesn’t sound like Bannon was the one who started it. Unless you’re one of those people who thinks it’s acceptable to do anything as long as you’re “protesting”. (Q: What’s the worst case scenario if the crew members’ safety is being jeopardized? A: Break the compound barrier so they get exposure to the Biosphere 1 atmosphere.)

  36. Subbak says:

    That Johnson question is glorious. I can definitely see Scott reading it and thinking “nope, can’t do more corny than that.”

  37. Urstoff says:

    Good Johnson question, but it seems like his brand of squishy libertarianism would be right up your alley, Scott.

  38. Chevron says:

    I believe you meant that the “moderator” asked Hillary something, not the “moderate”, unless you’re just giving your perspective on Lester Holt’s political leanings.

  39. TomA says:

    I don’t know if you intended it or not, but this post supports the proposition that no matter how bad our choices for President are this year, the trajectory of our country is unlikely to change. Perhaps the quality of the candidates is a reflection of the overall quality of the electorate. I am reminded of the old adage that “if you are going nowhere, any road will take you there.”

  40. Derelict says:

    Oh, they vandalized Biosphere 2? My ninth-grade science textbook just talks about the scientists bringing gases in from the outside world without permission.

    TIL.

    • Deiseach says:

      Oh, they vandalized Biosphere 2?

      So after all it wasn’t Bannon that wrecked the biosphere, it was the brats throwing a tantrum crew members? Then alas, The Donald does not have a World-Wrecker on his team!

      • Harry says:

        @Deiseach I think you missed or misunderstood a paragraph in Scott’s article. To quote:

        “Unfortunately, a lot of the crew members really didn’t like Bannon and his team. Possibly some of it had to do with an incident where a crew member submitted a list of safety complaints and Bannon threatened to “shove it down her f**king throat”. It got so bad that some of the crew deliberately vandalized the Biosphere, causing gas exchange between the inside and the outside and ruining the scientific value of the experiment.”

        • Deiseach says:

          I am still disappointed Donald Trump’s campaign manager is not a world destroyer. What kind of half-assed effort is that?

  41. Deiseach says:

    Oh, lovely: more emails from the Clinton campaign. Obligatory disclaimer: nothing says these represent Hillary’s views, they were an exchange between two individuals, yadda yadda yadda.

    And of course they’re now pulling the “We never said that and those are not our emails” bit, which I have no idea if it’s true or not. They’re blaming the Russians. Gosh, those meddling Russians, they get in everywhere, don’t they? And how clever they are to raise the spectres of Catholicism and Evangelicalism as wedge issues to alienate them from voting Democrat! Granted, these come from 2011, so I suppose we should take it that “They have nothing to do with the present campaign”. But I think it does represent the kind of attitude and views of those attracted to Hillary’s “progressive, enlightened” image. I wonder how this squares with trying to appeal to Hispanics and Latino voters, who would tend to be Catholic (though perhaps more culturally Catholic and less concerned with dogma)?

    Great news, Catholics of America! The Center for American Progress, is going to help you have your very own Catholic Spring! Away with all that mediaeval nonsense, let’s get some women priests on the pill up in here!

    The latest batch of documents published by WikiLeaks appears to show Hillary Clinton’s campaign communications director joking with a confidant about Catholics and evangelicals in emails sent to John Podesta, chairman of Clinton’s campaign.

    Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri, who ran communications for the liberal think tank Center for American Progress that Podesta founded, responded to emails from think tank fellow John Halpin who noted a 2011 report in the New Yorker about News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch and Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson raising their children Catholic.

    “Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the [Supreme Court] and think tanks to the media and social groups,” Halpin wrote in the 2011 email, according to WikiLeaks. “It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”

    Palmieri responded that she believes Murdoch, Thomson and many other conservatives are Catholic because they think it’s “the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion.” “Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals,” she wrote. Podesta did not respond in the email thread.

    I just want to interject here that Murdoch’s second wife is (was?) Catholic, so raising his three children by her as Catholics isn’t Murdoch deciding to swim the Tiber because it’ll be considered respectable oppression to his rich friends. I have no idea about his two children by Wendi Deng or his child by his first wife; I imagine the first child is Anglican, if anything, and I imagine Ms Deng would have opinions on what faith (if any) her children would be raised in. So our little critics are off the mark there (though certainly there’s probably an element there of snob value, or was, for Murdoch – he managed to get himself awarded a Papal Knighthood while he was still an Australian citizen married to his Catholic wife).

    … Another email that was released appears to suggest that Clinton’s campaign set up Catholic groups to organize on issues such as contraception. Sandy Newman, president of Voices for Progress, wrote in an 2011 email to Podesta that there needs to be “a Catholic Spring,” referring to the “Arab Spring,” a wave of demonstrations and protests in the Arab world.

    “There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church,” Newman wrote.

    “Is contraceptive coverage [in health care] an issue around which that could happen,” he asked.

    He noted the controversy with the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage, citing claims that 98 percent of Catholic women have used contraception (that percentage has been questioned, however).

    “Of course, this idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic church, the economic power it can bring to bear against nuns and priests who count on it for their maintenance, etc.,” he wrote. “Even if the idea isn’t crazy, I don’t qualify to be involved and I have not thought at all about how one would ‘plant the seeds of the revolution,’ or who would plant them.”

    Podesta responded that the campaign had created the groups Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United “to organize for a moment like this.” Leaders from those two groups did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

    “Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have to be bottom up,” Podesta wrote.

    For those of you not familiar with the inside baseball of American Catholicism, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good is a group I recognize, and yes, it’s one on the “progressive” side of “Rome isn’t the boss of us”. I had no idea, however, that the CAP and/or the Democrats and/or Hillary’s campaign had been involved in creating/funding/facilitating them, rather than that this was a bunch of the usual suspects finding common ground with the liberalism of the Democratic Party as sharing common interests and being potential allies and supporters for the Dems/Hillary’s campaign (rather like Planned Parenthood does); this is a very juicy morsel of information should it be true, because that would be direct meddling by a political party in religious affairs.

  42. Aran says:

    do you believe Vox ‘zines cause autism

    … that was horrible.

  43. Slappy McFee says:

    I actually laughed out loud at Vox ‘zines causing autism. Well played sir.

  44. Muad'Dib says:

    Good questions all. The Trump section is pretty good. I’ll just comment on the Stein section.

    If we are going back to 2000 for Mercury in vaccines stuff, perhaps we should also go back to 2008. Obama and Hillary Clinton both completed a questionnaire by the crackpot Age of Autism website. Imagine if Stein had said anything as “dog-whistling” as Obama and Clinton did there.

    Some of the greatest hits. From Obama:

    Do you think vaccines should be investigated as a possible cause of autism?

    I believe that the next president must restore confidence and open communication with the American people. This includes environmental policies and government funded research. An Obama administration will go where the science and the facts lead us, whether it is about climate change or toxic heavy metals in our environment.

    What will you do to protect Americans, especially young children and pregnant women, from exposure to mercury through vaccines?

    I support the removal of thimerosal from all vaccines and work to ensure that Americans have access to vaccines that are mercury free.

    Would you support a large-scale federal study of the differences in health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups?

    Experience has taught that effective medical research must be “large-scale” and well funded. I believe Americans should know must know the health effects that caused by the presence of mercury in vaccines. I will also support an examination of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program, a program designed to compensate those injured by vaccination

    Describing Mercury as a “toxic heavy metal” in a question about autism? Nice!

    From Clinton:

    How much funding will you request to study potential environmental triggers of autism?

    I am very concerned about the possible links between autism, the environment and other chronic diseases. Because there is so much we don’t know, I not only support increasing funding for the environmental research authorized by the Combating Autism Act, but I’ve also introduced legislation – the Coordinated Environmental Public Health Tracking Act – that would enable us to link disease surveillance to environmental infonnation, and investigate disease clusters.

    What will you do to protect Americans, especially young children and pregnant women, from exposure to mercury through vaccines?

    I will ensure that all vaccines are as safe as possible for our children by working to ensure that Thimerosal and mercury are removed from vaccines.

    • Deiseach says:

      Oh, those are standard waffling by campaign not to alienate potential voters responses (even if they are crackpots, their vote is as good as anyone else’s vote). I’m not particularly concerned because the airy phrases by both of them parse out to “We must give money to SCIENCE! to find out if bad stuff is happening. If bad stuff is happening, we must try to stop it. We must also try to make good stuff happen.” Notice how they both work in “the environment” and government-funded programmes, while not committing themselves to “Your members are absolutely right, mercury is murder, we will ban all vaccines in the morning!”

      The “getting thimerosal out of vaccines” guff is so boilerplate, I wouldn’t be surprised if they both copied’n’pasted from the same source. As I understand it, thimerosal has been pretty much phased out of vaccines by now, so if anyone did question Hillary on her past position, her campaign could hold this up as “See, we told you we’d Take Action and, as you can see, Action has been took, so vote for us, we keep our promises!”

      (Exposure to local government representatives in the last job opened my eyes even more than the job previous to that; they will raise a question – and get reported in the local news – about “will the sun shine in summer?” in order to take credit for the one week in June when the sun shines so they can issue a press release about how “Councillor Hickey is pleased to announce that, following their raising of the matter in Chamber, the sun has shone all this week”. I don’t expect national-level politicians to be any less grasping at the main chance.)

      • Muad'Dib says:

        I was mostly replying to “Stein is an anti-vaxxer” or at least “Stein dog-whistles to anti-vaxxer” meme. One should apply same standards to all.

        The science on Thimerosal was already clear in 2008; you can decode what “we need evidence-based science” means. More importantly, Thimerosal was either never contained in, or was already phased out of childhood vaccines by 2001.

        Clinton also said the following:

        Yes. We don’t know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism – but we should find out … In addition to a large-scale federal study, I will create a task force that would include significant representation from the autism community and would be charged with identifying gaps in evidence-based biomedical research, behavioral treatments, and services for children and adults with autism.

        Furthermore, this rhetoric was not harmless. According to this book:

        Secrataries for Health and Human Services, who make appointments to the IACC, have made room for the advocates of the vaccine theory [causing autism]. In its public statements, IACC has treaded lightly around the subject.

        (This came right after the 2008 Presidential race.)

        The GMO/organic stuff is a different matter: there I largely agree that the Green platform is bad. The anti-vaxx stuff is mostly overblown in my opinion – there’s no mention of it in the Green platform.

        • Deiseach says:

          you can decode what “we need evidence-based science” means

          It means much the same as Obama’s “that’s above my pay grade“; it means neither of them are going to come out and say “You lot are kooks” but neither are they going to say “Sure, vaccines bad, evil and dangerous!”

          It’s “We’ll make decisions on the science” which leaves both sides of the question happy: the anti-vaxxers think they have scientific evidence on their side, and the rest of us go “Whew, no chance the crazies are going to get what they want, so!”

        • Deiseach says:

          In addition to a large-scale federal study, I will create a task force that would include significant representation from the autism community and would be charged with identifying gaps in evidence-based biomedical research, behavioral treatments, and services for children and adults with autism.

          But notice what Hillary does there. She segues neatly from discussing “do vaccines cause autism” to “we must fund autism treatment”. She shifts the focus from vaccines to early intervention services, treatment programs, and government funding, thus getting away from the dangerous ground of having to come down on one side or the other of the vaccine/autism link question, and onto the safe ground of “helping kids and adults with autism” – who is going to say “no, you shouldn’t invest in treatment and services for autistic kids”?

          Standard boilerplate. Had the question been about any other topic (e.g. coal burning power plants) she’d have done the same thing – moved from “are they bad or a necessary evil” into the line about renewable energy, slowing down climate change, and caring for the environment.

          That’s where Johnson fell down on the Aleppo question and where his lack of experience at this level showed – you need the polished performance of “I’m very glad you asked me that, Bob” and being able to divert the question into the talking points you have prepared and are able to defend.

          As for this:

          Secrataries for Health and Human Services, who make appointments to the IACC, have made room for the advocates of the vaccine theory [causing autism]. In its public statements, IACC has treaded lightly around the subject.

          Yes, of course they did. That’s what you do – put a few token representatives onto committees, let them talk and generate reports, say nothing controversial in public, and ignore them and go ahead making the decisions you really want to make. Public statements mean little or nothing in that case, because it’s about avoiding giving offence to the voting bloc or special interest you are humouring by appointing their representatives. Once you get them inside the tent as part of the decision-making process, you draw a lot of their sting as compared to leaving them on the outside to generate bad publicity, take court cases, and be activists.

          • Deiseach says:

            I mean, it’s like the problem in these leaked emails (the ones Podesta is saying he doesn’t recognise, never made, and the Russians hacked us):

            The team started with the following, “Every American deserves a fair shot at success with a true living wage. I stand with fast food workers in the #fightfor15. —H.”

            But O’Leary didn’t approve. “I’m worried it is too strong. Don’t want her to come out for $15 at this stage. Instead of standing with them, better to applaud them?”

            Another staff member, Joel Benenson, wondered why they were not challenging CEOs. She could tweet, “With corporate profits at record highs, it’s time for a real raise for all working Americans.”

            Christina Reynolds, a part of the communications team which handles press, was concerned about whether this would take Clinton out of her “policy/political safe zone.”

            “We’re going to need to determine how our people should answer the question either on TV or with the many reporters who are asking,” Reynolds added.

            “We want their support and endorsement, and more broadly the positive PR, but for the love of God, don’t tie us down to anything concrete.” That’s how politics works.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Yes, it is standard campaign waffling, but Stein’s answer was exactly the same kind of standard campaign waffling, but has been turned into the center of anti-Stein criticism and the only thing most people know about Stein.

        • Jiro says:

          Standard campaign waffling still tells you something about the candidate, though. Standard campaign waffling pushes the candidate farther towards the “compromise” position (even if it’s a compromise with loonies) but the candidate’s starting point also matters for the final result.

        • Deiseach says:

          But the difference with Stein as compared with Obama and Clinton (and hey, I just heard Obama is setting up a Space Weather Bureau!) is that Stein is a Green Party member and candidate, and the Green Parties have a basis in environmental issues, going organic, etc.

          Nobody takes this kind of thing very seriously from a Democrat or Republican, because it’s not a party core principle and it’s taken as vote-pandering. From a Green, however, there is the expectation that this is genuine policy, and if they get into power, one of the things they will push for (though, based on the experience of the Irish Greens getting into power as part of a coalition, what the hard-core party support want and what the elected members compromise on for the sake of unity are two very different things).

          If Hillary makes statements about ensuring abortion law – I’m sorry, reproductive health rights – cannot be rolled back because she’s going to appoint Supreme Court justices to prevent that, this is not campaign waffling for the PP supporters, because this is something of a core principle with her (or at least, her campaign is tied in enough with PP to get high approval and a nomination from them). If Stein says something about abortion, that’s not such a big deal – yeah, she’s a liberal progressive leftist type, but “reproductive justice” is par for the course with them, and she hasn’t anything like Hillary’s PP approval ratings (she doesn’t even make it onto PP’s Congressional Scorecard because she’s never reached that level of national representation, despite running in local elections).

  45. Aleksander says:

    “So my question for you is: would you be willing to take an Implicit Association Test measuring how easily you associate your own name vs. your opponents’ names with the adjective “crooked”?”

    So, Trump and his team have done their best to associate Clinton with the adjective “crooked”, and as you can see, it is having very real world effects. As in, millions of Americans have decided not to vote for her because she seems, intuitively, crooked.

    If that’s true, wouldn’t it be surprising if the “implicit racism” indicated by those tests also had no real-life effects? It seems more likely to me that the studies that show no correlation between implicit racism and actual racist behavior, are because of conscious compensation (or over-compensation) by subjects who are more or less aware of their implicit racism. Like, I intuitively rate the likelihood that a random black person is criminal much higher than a random white person, and probably much, much higher than I should according to statistical evidence. But I’m also consciously afraid to be racist, so I tell myself “Oh come on, he’s just black, it’s incredibly unlikely that he’s a criminal.”

    But if that’s true, it also seems incredibly important to make sure that people stay aware of the possibility of implicit racism. Alright, they seem to already be aware, so there might not be much use in spending more money on it; but it also seems wrong to just say “Yeah, this has no real-world manifestations at all.”

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Do you really think Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” comment had a major effect? She’s winning by a mile in the polls, people generally thought she was corrupt before Trump coined that term, and although it makes a good slogan to remind people of the crookedness they already believe she has, I doubt that there’s a >1% difference in voting behavior between this world and a world where that slogan never existed.

      I would consider a test that found an implicit link with criminality much more meaningful than one that found an implicit link with generic negative adjectives, for exactly the reason I mentioned in the post – generic negative adjectives can mean all sorts of things, criminality just means criminality. (I suspect that an IAT with criminality would return positive results, but “people think race with high crime rate is associated with criminality” isn’t exactly the headline grabber that the real IAT is.)

  46. Jill says:

    Interesting article about an Alt Right guy who ended up a Clinton supporter. It’s really from the WA Post, but the original is behind a pay wall.

    http://newsthrive.com/the-white-flight-of-derek-black_11250094/

  47. Jill says:

    Video biographies of Trump and Hillary Clinton

    FRONTLINE goes behind the headlines to investigate what has shaped Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — where they came from, how they lead and why they want one of the most difficult jobs imaginable

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/the-choice-2016/

    • Zombielicious says:

      I actually watched that one about a week ago. Found it fairly interesting, though that probably depends on your pre-existing biographical knowledge of them going in. Had also never heard of Roy Cohn before, but that guy sounded like a world-class p.o.s, and would have liked them to expand more on Trump and his dad apparently egging his brother on to an early death via alcoholism. Also worth noting that literally all of Clinton’s political experience prior to becoming senator was from being married to Bill.

      One part that stuck out was, when they were dating, Bill telling her not to get up because “the men talk politics.” Which of course is portrayed as an example of how sexist life in Arkansas was at the time, but I kinda wonder if there’s equal chance he just meant it as, “Us guys are going to have our guy time.” We’re going to “talk politics” makes a nice excuse if you think women usually won’t be interested, similar to “we’re going to go talk string theory and video games.”

  48. Matt Weber says:

    I don’t have a link for you, but at Psychonomics a couple of years back, Richard Anderson of BGSU reported a study supporting your idea that the IAT really does measure association rather than bias (or, I guess, that you can be aware of strong associations without endorsing the corresponding bias). It’s not published as far as I can tell (https://sites.google.com/site/complexcognitionbgsu/lab-projects), so maybe it didn’t hold up, but it seemed like a smart and plausible idea.

  49. Patrick says:

    I want to put together a “shoot or don’t shoot” IAT style test, but with visibly nonhuman aliens that share so little of our features that they don’t map in our minds onto any existing ethnic group. Then I’d tell the participants before they take the test that we’re making a video game and investigating silhouette legibility in a shooter, so they need to make choices as quickly as possible. And oh yeah, the aliens with the tentacle heads are three times more likely to have guns than the fish aliens.

    Then I’d give them a “practice round” where that ratio is accurate, and a “real round” where it is not.

  50. Redland Jack says:

    Wouldn’t Gary Johnson supposedly say, “Where’s Updog”, though?

  51. Evan says:

    Pretending Jill Stein is a more legitimate candidate than Evan McMullin at this point is funny.

    But not as funny as the Gary Johnson question. Props to whoever came up with that.