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Open Thread 61.5

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

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430 Responses to Open Thread 61.5

  1. AndyMcKenzie says:

    I think the evidence that male eunuchs live just as long as females is weak, and I think that testosterone doesn’t explain the majority of the lifespan difference between males and females in humans (or at least, removing it probably doesn’t help). If anything, I think that higher estrogen levels in females accounts for a larger proportion of the variance, although the research seems to me to be still too preliminary to say anything conclusively either way.

    Evidence for this:

    1) Historical eunuch studies are inconsistent (e.g., for a null result see PMID: 8232579) and often based on extremely small sample sizes (n < 100) for a complex outcome.

    2) Dog studies show no large effect of castration when taken as a whole: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/3068/does-castration-longer-life

    3) In mice, in which lifespan is also typically longer in females, treating mice with estrogen leads to substantially longer lifespans (a stronger effect than metformin, and specific to male mice): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acel.12496/full

    4) Solid research suggests that estrogen treatment in mice promotes stem cell self-renewal, which is a clear mechanism for how estrogen could promote lifespan (and explains its effects on multiple organ systems, including the immune system): http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7484/full/nature12932.html

    The best sort of study might be to do a Mendelian randomization for testosterone levels on a large cohort and see whether a lower genetic load for testosterone affects lifespan (adjusting for other genetic factors). This might be possible to do in the UK Biobank data, as testosterone MR studies have been done before (though I haven't looked in detail into these studies). http://www.nature.com/articles/srep21306

    • Loquat says:

      So, uh, have there been people advocating castration in the name of living longer? I wouldn’t be surprised if a few men were actually willing to go through with it, given the severity of the side effects some of the calorie-restriction-for-longevity folks have been willing to put up with.

      • Acedia says:

        Doesn’t very low testosterone in men cause horrible depression?

        • AndyMcKenzie says:

          It has been shown in several studies (eg [1]) that T levels below various thresholds are associated with higher rates of depression, but the effect sizes are usually not that large (relative risk of depression ~ 2x). Oddly in the largest, best controlled RCT to date on the role of testosterone on depression (measured via PHQ-9), treatment led to *decreases* in PHQ-9 vs placebo [2].

          In general, I think it’s fair to say that the association between depression and testosterone, or between mood and testosterone in general, are not well established, despite the fact that commercials I sometimes see hint otherwise.

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19486021
          http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1506119#t=article

        • Jay Quincy says:

          I wouldn’t be surprised if low levels of testosterone in men is similar to the way that gender dysphoria triggers depression among transgender people – that is, it being induced by the dissonance between physical reality and how one’s mind feels that one should be.

          There is also the social pressures to consider. Not being the way society expects one to be tends to generate significant psychological damage, which may be expressed in any number if ways.

      • AndyMcKenzie says:

        Given the number of people in the world, I expect that some people probably have thought about this, but I don’t know of any actual examples.

        • onyomi says:

          This weird Russian sect castrated its members, though that was for religious purposes, as opposed to longevity.

          • AndyMcKenzie says:

            Very interesting. 5000 – 100,000 members!

          • AlphaGamma says:

            There was also the cult of Cybele/Magna Mater in Rome whose priests were eunuchs (who had often castrated themselves). The Romans had to make it illegal for citizens to castrate themselves in honour of the goddess- her priests were foreigners (though at one point led by a non-castrated Roman) until they eventually started to replace castration with the sacrifice of a bull.

      • nancylebovitz says:

        I’ve certainly seen it advocated as a joke.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        Fluttershy at least considered the issue.

    • onyomi says:

      Generally, I think the reason women live longer, on average, than men (despite having more health problems along the way, statistics say, I believe) has everything to do with them just being smaller, on average, than men. Testosterone and other male hormones tend to make you big, but being a male eunuch doesn’t make you small as a woman; in fact, it tends to make you fat, if historical stereotypes about eunuchs are correct.*

      *Edit to add: reading about congenital hypogonadism, it apparently tends to make men have a more tall and skinny body type, though I think without testosterone you’re going to get fat more easily. I found it especially interesting because apparently it makes you have long limbs, which tallies interestingly with physical descriptions of one of the founders of a Chinese martial art who was supposedly a eunuch.

      • AndyMcKenzie says:

        In my opinion this is unlikely to be true because, historically speaking, tall people actually live longer. Specifically, each additional 2.5 inches of height has been associated with a 0.97 HR of death from any cause, likely due to improved cardiovascular function [1]. In general, the trade-off of increased height within a sex, is the benefit of better cardiovascular function, vs a higher risk of cancer (because organs are larger, leading to more cells and a higher risk of one of them mutating horribly). Also women have higher BMIs than men but still live longer.

        The nice thing about this field is that most other mammals also show an increased lifespan in females [2], so model systems and comparative biology can potentially be helpful. I really do think that the estrogen -> alteration of stem cell and/or cell senescence model is the most likely but if you have data to suggest otherwise I’d be happy to hear it.

        [1]: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22825588
        [2]: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1016/j.febslet.2005.03.090/abstract

        • onyomi says:

          “tall people actually live longer.”

          I would imagine it’s better to be a 6’0″ tall man weighing 180 than a 5’5″ man weighing 180, but for longevity’s sake, it’s probably better still to be a 5’5″ man weighing 130 (whereas a 6’0″ man weighing 130 is probably ill somehow), and weight is negatively correlated with height.

          The longest-lived individuals are mostly very small (and short) women.

        • Reasoner says:

          Do we know whether women also live longer than men historically speaking?

          • AstraSequi says:

            Historically, I believe life expectancy was shorter for females, primarily due to the high rate of death during childbirth.

      • ChetC3 says:

        Eunuchs, at least if they were castrated before puberty, tend to be taller than intact men.

    • AstraSequi says:

      I doubt that estrogen is likely to have a major benefit in humans, since estrogen supplementation for post-menopausal women has been tested pretty thoroughly. It was a widely recommended practice for many years, until it was found to be deleterious to health, originally by the Women’s Health Initiative.

      There are hypotheses that could be added to get around this (that women are closer to an optimal level than men are, that the increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, and cancer are balanced by unknown additional factors, and so forth), but they add additional complexity and assumptions. There are also a priori reasons that could point to negative effects, such as estrogen’s effects promoting energy expenditure and cell division.

      Re point 4, promoting stem cell division is probably a bad thing in this case – for one it will increase the likelihood of cancer, especially in the hematopoietic system where the stem cells are already dividing/renewing constantly. The specific result from the paper referring to self-renewal is an increase in the population of actively dividing hematopoietic stem cells (i.e. cells that incorporated BrdU), and even in stem cells, every division is a chance to accumulate errors.

  2. KG says:

    In Unsong, the Enochian language is described as including certain proper nouns, such as countries and the like, as words used in common sentences because the inventor of the language was a product of his time and country. I’ve recently looked up an Enochian “dictionary” for my own purposes and found that, while a few words look to be directly inspired by terms I know, the majority are apparently nonsense and certainly not mistakable for political references. Are there other “versions” of Enochian that I haven’t found, am I just really bad at recognizing things, or is the whole thing a joke in Unsong?
    (And yeah, I guess those options aren’t mutually exclusive.)

  3. Gazeboist says:

    Anyone care to share their thoughts on the notion of intellectual property?

    • Gazeboist says:

      Here’s my view:

      – As we do not live in a post-scarcity economy, people need to receive compensation for whatever it is that occupies the majority of their labor.

      – Most of the time, this happens by way of either an employer who pays beforehand for a guarantee of a particular work-product or a purchaser who pays after the fact for an object that required labor to produce.

      – Production of art and technology (in the sense of putting together a story or designing a device) is very unusual in that it is very hard to produce the first instance of the object, but almost trivial to produce copies. Compare to a chair: sure, you don’t need to design the copy of that nice chair you made, but you still have to acquire the material and put it together, just as you did the first time.

      – Production of art and technology is also extremely risky. Plenty of research goes nowhere, but sometimes you get something that people *would have* been willing to pay a relatively comfortable wage to produce, had the thing not just been produced.

      – Society benefits the most from intellectual products in the public domain, since intellectual products tend to build on each other more than other things. Society thus generally benefits from having a large public domain.

      – Intellectual property in the form of patents and copyright is therefore useful. A temporary, restricted monopoly allows the author/inventor to essentially receive back-pay for the time spent developing the product, which was eventually proved to be successful.

      For all the above reasons, I think that patents and copyright should generally be:
      1) Tied to the specific individual who created the item in question.
      2) Of limited duration: the shorter of a specific term of years or the lifetime of the associated person.
      3) Extendable if the holder can show an improvement on or continuation of the initial item, with the length of the extension equal to the time from the initial application to the extension application.

      For multiple authors/inventors, I would have the licensing rights of any particular author be equal, and pass to their estates on death, but the monopoly would end on the death of the last original author if it had not yet timed out. I don’t know what the duration should be; ideally it would be paced to innovation rates/costs in particular industries as much as possible (so longer for, say, engines than for software), but such a scheme would be very difficult to implement. Certainly I don’t think it should be longer than 20 years from first publication or thereabouts. The third point is mostly to allow authors of various kinds of serials to keep control of an unfinished work while still releasing the early parts; I suspect it’s not a good idea to let it apply to patents, or that patent law should have some kind of acknowledgement of forking.

      • onyomi says:

        I am against intellectual property for such reasons as:

        Intellectual “property” is non-scarce and non-rivalrous: me learning your secret muffin recipe doesn’t impinge on your ability to keep making muffins, though it may cut into your ability to profit thereby.

        “You might not be able to profit as much as you otherwise might if no one else were allowed to do what you’re doing” is not generally considered a good enough reason to restrict production. If I’m the first person to the get the idea to open a muffin shop downtown, I don’t get to own the “open a muffin shop downtown” idea, or demand kickbacks from any new muffin shops.

        Related to the above, intellectual “property” is a claim about what I can do with my actual property: I own flour, eggs, butter, kitchen equipment, etc. You claiming “intellectual property” in your muffin recipe restricts my freedom to use my tangible, scarce, rivalrous property in a particular way. And of course there’s no clear line: if your muffin recipe calls for 2 eggs and I put in 2 and 1/4 eggs, is it a “new” recipe?

        People can’t actually claim intellectual property in a recipe or, indeed a fashion design, and we seem to have no shortage of creativity in the fields of cuisine or fashion. If anything, we may get more, because people are always looking to get an edge with something “fresh,” knowing full well that lower tier competitors will soon copy them and they’ll have to do something else to maintain a reputation for cutting edge.

        Intellectual property rewards certain kinds of creativity, but those rewards may come at the expense of other kinds: absent intellectual property maybe movie studios would make a larger number of lower-budget films rather than sinking huge money into a few existing properties. Related, maybe JK Rowling would only be worth 10 million dollars instead of a billion dollars, but maybe 100 other people could make a good living writing wizard books. In pharmaceuticals, maybe there would be more incentive to research cures to rare diseases instead of sinking 10 billion into the next greatest boner pill.

        IP may also incentivize bad policy on the part of e. g. the FDA, because only with IP can all the research necessary to get a drug passed be made profitable: but that’s more a problem with the FDA than IP.

        Lack of intellectual property didn’t prevent e. g. Ancient Greeks or Shakespeare from producing great works of art; if anything, for reasons stated above, IP may incentivize lowest common denominator type mass production while lack of IP may incentivize more patron-artist type relationships where you directly pay to have what you want made. HBO tv shows are way better than most broadcast TV. Kickstarter is doing a great job of producing content fans really want, etc. etc.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Lack of intellectual property didn’t prevent e. g. Ancient Greeks or Shakespeare from producing great works of art;

          The Greek and Elizabethan authors were generally either (a) wealthy landowners, who therefore could afford to write literature as a hobby without regard for profit, or (b) under the patronage of wealthy landowners who could afford to patronise literature for prestige reasons without regard for profit. That doesn’t apply to most authors or artists working today.

          • onyomi says:

            Shakespeare wasn’t a wealthy landowner, and, while he did have patrons, he also charged admission at the Globe. And, as I mentioned, we recently see a lot more work on, e. g. Kickstarter being produced through a “patronage”-type model. In a world without IP, we’d probably see even more of that.

            Also, right now we have IP, so descriptions of how authors and artists working today make their money wouldn’t necessarily apply to those same people in a world without IP. They might still be able to make a living as authors and artists, though how they monetized it might differ.

          • CatCube says:

            Kickstarter is a rounding error compared to the sums made available by large-scale investors looking to cash in on the fact that IP will make a successful project into a revenue stream. I have trouble believing that it will replace that revenue once theater owners can play an (IP-free) first-run movie and tell the creators and their investors what they can suck on.

          • onyomi says:

            I certainly don’t want to imagine a world without Transformers 6.

          • CatCube says:

            I gave up on the Transformers series a long time ago, but it still sells tickets. It’s a market success by most definitions.

          • “under the patronage of wealthy landowners who could afford to patronise literature for prestige reasons without regard for profit. That doesn’t apply to most authors or artists working today.”

            A patronage model is one possible solution to the problem of rewarding producers of IP in the modern world. “This song was made possible by the generosity of Apple Computer.”

            And such solutions may be needed, with or without copyright law, if technological change makes copyright largely unenforceable, as seems to be happening.

        • BeefSnakStikR says:

          Do you have a solution to academic plagiarism? A unique work isn’t valuable there because it can be bought or sold, or divvied up, (like you say about JK Rowling’s work) but because a unique work is useful for evaluating it’s creator’s abilities.

          If three students turn in the same thing, you can’t divide their grade in thirds and fail them, then let the plagiarists who are best at hiding their plagiarism keep all of their grade and graduate.

          Well, maybe you can in the humanities without disaster, but I don’t think this would go over well with employers who hire spacecraft engineers.

          I’ve always thought that the best way to do it would be to encourage (maybe even make mandatory) plagiarism, with a controlled, supervised exam on the thing you’ve plagiarized. (In addition to standard, class- or department- wide tests of course.)

          • onyomi says:

            As far as grading assignments in school and whatnot, I don’t see how it makes a difference: either way the professor can demand students produce original work to get a good grade, even if they couldn’t later claim to have an IP in it.

            Really, academia, at least the branch with which I’m most familiar, which is humanities, seems to be the least of our worries with respect to a hypothetical no-IP or weak-IP world. With the exception of a few authors of unusually popular textbooks, no one makes their living in academia through book sales. People write academic books and papers to contribute to a field and gain the prestige and recognition which comes with that. This, in turn, translates into tenured professorships, endowed chairs, paid consulting gigs, etc., which is what academics mostly live on.

            Of course, there is the issue of someone stealing your ideas, but with or without IP that would be a problem. Even without IP, an academic press or journal is not going to publish something it views as unoriginal or plagiarized research.

            Personally, I published my dissertation to be freely available online through open-access. I’m more worried no one will ever read my academic writing than that someone will steal it. Certainly, if anyone can figure out a way to directly monetize it I’ll have nothing but a pat on the back to offer. In any case, being a relatively small world, it’s recognizable as my work, being published at a certain date online with my name on it, so if anyone ever tried to seriously plagiarize it, it would be easy to prove.

          • BeefSnakStikR says:

            I’m mostly in agreement with you. Maybe academia isn’t exactly what I’m thinking of. Credentials, maybe? I’m basically worried that people are going to copy technical ideas in order to gain credentials in areas they have no understanding of.

            One one hand, for eg., car companies could probably safely copy most current brake designs and use them. Their engineers have a history of knowing about the brake safety, and if there is a dangerous brake, it would eventually go out of production, because all companies would know not to copy that brake design.

            This basically happens now–I’m assuming competing brake designs aren’t that different from each other, even if no company knows exactly how the others do theirs. Also, I’d imagine designs and trade secrets are leaked sometimes, so there probably is copying going on right now.

            On the other hand, it seems dangerous to let car companies copy brake designs from anyone who has one. Because the outcome could be that 90% of the plans available are brake-enlargement pill spam, 9% are plans from design redistributors whose only credential is the sheer volume of designs they’ve collected and copied, and 1% is from design holders who have rigorous credentials and actually understand what makes brakes safe.

            Basically, are car manufacturers going to be able to rely on the same system as Amazon, where if enough people say “this second-had stuff is safe X% of the time” and the distributor says “Y% of people say my second-hand stuff is safe”?

            Because there may be no incentive to get comprehension credentials when you can get distribution credentials, unless you keep a little bit of IP alive and test people in controlled, supervised circumstances for semi-original ideas.

        • Spookykou says:

          As a visual artist(not professional) I am curious how you see the removal of IP protections from visual art playing out. It seem to me that it might have a slight negative effect, but nothing too bad. At the same time, I don’t see any really obviously glaring problems with IP protections for visual art. Would you object to it on philosophical grounds even if it wasn’t as bad as, say, software copyrights?

      • John Schilling says:

        1) Tied to the specific individual who created the item in question.

        You are aware that the “lone genius inventor” model applies to a tiny minority of human creativity, right? Particularly by the time you reach the stage of production and distribution, without which you haven’t really created anything of value.

        2) Of limited duration: the shorter of a specific term of years or the lifetime of the associated person.

        That’s not going to work either. First, it’s not a person, it’s a team of people. Second, on the off chance that it’s one person, there’s a chance that they A: are going to die next year and B: leave a telegenic orphan who will put on the whole “Tiny Tim” routine while e.g. Hollywood makes a billion dollars from the movie version of their dead father’s book and gives them nothing. Whereupon the young Mr. Cratchit becomes the poster child of a politically unstoppable movement to “reform” IP law.

        We’ve seen this happen, and we know how that story ends. If you don’t want something ridiculous like “life plus seventy”, you’re going to have to get out ahead of that issue and solve the real problem rather than leave it for those who would use it for their own political ends.

    • John Schilling says:

      If we didn’t have intellectual property laws, huge amounts of intellectual productivity that is presently made available to the world at large would instead be hidden behind a web of trade secrecy and nondisclosure agreements that would increase transaction costs and restrict distribution far more than does our present IP regime. And then there’s the stuff that simply wouldn’t get done at all. We would all be poorer for it.

      The world where all the high-value IP you value is A: created and then B: free for you to experience, use and modify as you see fit, is just one more silly utopian fantasy. Anyone who would break what we have now in hope of that fantasy coming to pass, is no friend of civilization.

      Proposals to reform current intellectual property law, those are worth entertaining right up to the point where the proponent veers off into “…but we should really ger rid of the very concept of IP” territory. Which usually happens in the first three paragraphs, which is a great time-saver.

      • onyomi says:

        “huge amounts of intellectual productivity that is presently made available to the world at large would instead be hidden behind a web of trade secrecy and nondisclosure agreements”

        In which specific areas do you see this as being especially likely and why?

      • For a full blown argument against both patents and copyrights, complete with historical evidence, see Against Intellectual Monopoly.

      • youzicha says:

        If we are modifying the law to get rid of copyright, we could also change the law to get rid of certain laws protecting trade secrets, and make certain non-disclosure agreements unenforceable.

        (Compare with the first-sale doctrine, which voids certain purported contracts about book sales because we consider those contracts to be contrary to how we generally want copyright to work.)

        • On the other hand, eliminating copyright could be an argument for stronger legal protection to alternative ways in which creators of IP get rewarded for doing so. Trade secret and non-disclosure are mostly relevant to patent, not copyright, however.

          • John Schilling says:

            The scripts for Shakespeare’s plays were de facto trade secrets and subject to non-disclosure agreements. In the IP-free electronic age, the architecture and keys for the hardwired DRM that governs your every scrap of entertainment will be likewise.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      I feel the same way about IP as I do about the rest of government. Its existence is probably a good idea. Areas of malignant growth should be curbed. In this case meaning century-plus copyright terms and “make computer do a thing” software patents.

    • Couldn’t we just apply property taxes? If Disney wants to pay millions of dollars a year to keep Mickey under copyright forever, sure, fine, whatever. The vast majority of properties would rapidly become unprofitable and get public domained.

      (I am not sure exactly how we’d come up with tax rates: appraisal values are actually exactly wrong. An economically less profitable movie from 1937 should pay the _same_ as Snow White, to make sure that all but a few get relinquished. We want something closer to land value taxes than real estate property taxes. But I think this seems solvable?)

      • Spookykou says:

        This sounds like a really elegant solution, but I could be missing some obvious flaw.

        I imagine having the tax rate effected by number of years after creation would be needed, but I am still not sure how you would set a good starting rate.

        • I believe that at one point there was a renewal fee for copyrights, although it’s possible that I am remembering that from a non-U.S. system.

          Thinking of it as a property tax doesn’t make a lot of sense, since a major argument for property taxes is that land doesn’t have to be created (with a few rare exceptions) so reducing the incentive to create it isn’t a problem. On the other hand, the main argument for copyright is to provide an incentive to create, which is reduced by taxing the resulting income.

          What might make sense is a fairly short initial term, say a decade or two, and a renewal fee high enough so that work that is no longer bringing in any significant revenue won’t be worth renewing and so will be out of copyright and available for others to use without negotiating a license.

          • youzicha says:

            I think the renewal fee was only nominal. This page says “the filing fee for a renewal application is $45” — admittedly that’s after the 1992 law that abolished the renewal system, but I vaguely remember reading similar things before.

            Apparently this was enough of a deterrent that 85% of all copyrighted works were not renewed, so it seems like a pretty excellent idea to reinstantiate it.

            On the other hand, think of the children widows:

            A Billboard magazine article[5] mentions the complaint of Jacqueline Byrd, widow of Robert Byrd, the songwriter who wrote “Little Bitty Pretty One”, the 1957 hit. Mrs. Byrd was informed by the Copyright Office that they had not received the renewal application for the song, and hence they would be ending royalty payments. Had the song been renewed, Byrd and her four children would’ve received payments till 2037. This incident was used to convince lawmakers about the need for such an amendment.

          • Spookykou says:

            @youzicha

            That seems like it could be an opt in opt out problem. Maybe if people got a bill rather than having to proactively renew, they would still drop copyright on things that stopped making them money, but we wouldn’t have to worry about the widows so much.

    • Deiseach says:

      Anyone care to share their thoughts on the notion of intellectual property?

      That’ll cost you an inflation-adjusted penny for them, and paid direct to my bank account please 🙂

      • Spookykou says:

        You should make a gofundme for ten interesting and well thought out responses with a detailed LoTR lore post as a stretch goal.

  4. Reasoner says:

    Heterodox Academy is now ranking universities according to their commitment to “viewpoint diversity”. Could be useful if you’re trying to figure out what university to attend, or if you’re an employer who wants viewpoint diversity in your workplace and you’re trying to figure out how a job applicant might contribute to that.

    Also, Heterodox now has a list of over 200 professors who are signatories to their statement about viewpoint diversity, and they’re looking for more. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much this project seems to be accomplishing.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      It looks like a good thing. I just hope it doesn’t veer into partisanship. It is nice that they have list of over 200 professors endorsing it, and it seems to be from a good variety of schools and specialties. I only recognized one professor on list of 13 in advisory committee (Steven Pinker), and no one on the exec committee, but I am not very knowledgeable about such things. Pinker is definitely a good guy.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        The advisory board is, of course, more famous than the executive committee. For calibration, 6/12 of the advisory board have been mentioned by commenters on SSC, while only 2/7 of the executive committee have been mentioned. Scott has written about Tetlock (also) and Haidt.

    • Brad says:

      If a university has a physicist on faculty that thinks that the Bohm’s pilot wave theory is correct, does that increase its viewpoint diversity?

      • SUT says:

        MIT has physics professors who “believe” in cold fusion. That is, there is [barely measurable] heat produced in [certain] experimental setups whose origin seems to b e nuclear rather than chemical.

        If “true”, there would hardly be a better posterchild for the “value of diversity” in the academy.

    • tmk says:

      How can I know that this is not just universities that match a certain ideology?

  5. BeefSnakStikR says:

    Any recommendations as to monologues or one-person plays? It seems like a genre that nobody really seeks out unless they’re theatregoers.

    Over the years I’ve been recommended Spalding Grey’s Gray’s Anatomy and David Hare’s Via Dolorosa, and enjoyed both.

    • Tibor says:

      Does it need to be in a form of a theatre play / film? Otherwise, you essentially want to read philosophical essays.

      • BeefSnakStikR says:

        Yeah, I’m more interested in performances for entertainment. Of the two I mentioned, neither is philosophically rigorous. Both are vaguely travelogue-ish; one is about alternative medicine and one is about Israel/Palestine.

        Films and audio are what I’m looking for, but if anyone’s seen something that’s not widely available, by all means, tell me about it–even if I can never see it.

    • scherzando says:

      Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett is good if you don’t mind a rather bleak view of the world. There are several complete versions on YouTube.

    • I’m not sure if you are limiting your question to things intended chiefly for performance. Browning produced a number of poems in the form of monologs of which “My Last Duchess” and “From a Spanish Cloister” are probably the best known. My favorite example of the form is actually by Kipling, “The Mary Gloster.”

    • hyperboloid says:

      Robert Altman’s Secret Honor with Phillip Barker Hall. I think it’s one the best on screen portrayals of Nixon’s drunken self destructive paranoia.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      I recommend Mike Daisy’s Great Men of Genius.

    • SUT says:

      Nightingale, a 2014 film.

      Also it makes you think: the new one man play is actually video blogger, like this.

  6. Well... says:

    I got here late and was way down the thread last time, so I’m trying again here:

    I’m looking for a visual artist who can create an illustration for an album cover. The image I have in mind is a sci-fi landscape inspired by part of a Neal Stephenson book. I can’t afford to pay anyone, but I would give credit wherever I could (e.g. in the description if I post tracks to Youtube, etc.).

    Does anyone here know an artist, or is anyone here themselves an artist, who’d be able and willing to help me out?

    • Spookykou says:

      Are you looking for traditional or digital media? I do traditional media stuff, hobbyist, but I would be willing to try a watercolor landscape or something like that.

      • Well... says:

        Thanks for replying!

        I don’t care whether the illustration is done using traditional or digital methods, as long as it can be delivered to me in a decent-quality digital format.

        I think watercolors would work well for the base and background, but it might need a second layer of finer white and black lines to give definition to objects in the foreground.

        Are you interested?

        • Spookykou says:

          Sure, can you send me a message on my Da account to hash out the details?
          http://spookykou.deviantart.com/

          • Well... says:

            Wow, DeviantArt is weird. That’s more drawings of anime girls with cat ears than I think I’ll ever need to see again in a lifetime.

            I’m looking for something kind of in this style, with a quality of light kind of like this (but a little less bright). The picture in mind is an arctic landscape with a piece of machinery in the foreground. I only have seen what’s on your DeviantArt site; do you think that’s something you could do?

          • Spookykou says:

            Yeah I will give it a shot.

          • Well... says:

            Those examples I gave were so you could decide whether you were up to the task technically.

            I have a more specific idea of what I want the actual illustration to be, which I haven’t told you yet.

          • Spookykou says:

            Ah, yeah I can do landscapes and machinery, what in particular did you have in mind.

    • andrewflicker says:

      You might want to offer points, if you can’t offer upfront payment. It’s still shitty, but somewhat less shitty than asking for free work.

      • Well... says:

        In a past life I worked in an artistic field myself, and I was often in the position of having to turn down projects because they weren’t paying, even though they seemed cool. I simply needed money and couldn’t afford to be contributing my talents for free, even if there was a long-term payoff. If you’re an artist and you’re in that situation, I completely understand and wish you the best, but this project probably isn’t for you.

        I don’t think it’s “shitty” to ask for free work. Other people I collaborate with on this won’t be paid either, but we work together because we like the music and are excited about it. As a bonus, anyone who wants to use the final product as a resume piece or to otherwise gain exposure for themselves is free to do so, and we’ll try to help each other out as best we can if any of us have those kinds of goals. I have some personal connections in both the music and art industries, for example, and can make introductions.

        Not sure what “points” are. If you mean percentages of money I make off album sales or some such thing, it would be dishonest of me to offer that since I’m recording the album just for fun (sort of a bucket list thing) and don’t plan to market it or try to sell it or anything. I’ll probably get a few actual CDs made and hand them out to friends/family, but the rest will be digital sharing–e.g., posting to Youtube.

        • Aapje says:

          That sounds very fair IMO.

          There is a huge difference between a company taking advantage of cheap/free labor or people with a hobby asking other people to ‘co-hobby.’

          • Could you expand on that huge difference?

            A lot of people seem to see monetary transactions as somehow corrupt. My standard example is the difference between a man taking a woman out to a good restaurant in the hopes of getting her into bed later and his offering cash for the same purpose. The former may be seen as a bit iffy, but the latter is right out in the view of most. I’m not sure I understand the reason for that difference.

            Similarly in your case. I have a hobby of medieval recreation. I do it because I enjoy it. Why is it legitimate for me to ask someone to help me with a project for free, but not legitimate if the project is something I plan to use to make income?

            I’m reminded of the medieval idea of derogeance. Engaging in commerce or retail trade was considered activity unsuitable for a noble.

          • Spookykou says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Its W.I.E.R.D. social fairness monkey morality. But I never liked the idea that these things are totally irrational, if you establish that you will never take 1 dollar in the, I forget the name of it, dividing money social experiment, then the person will offer you 4 or 5 dollars just so they can get some also.

            Similar meme defenses against ‘exploitative’ behavior serve a general function of preventing people from being taken advantage of, even if in some cases where they go over board and produce a negative result, in general I think they might be more good than bad for the person who has them.

            Consider Tesla tearing up his contract and dying a poor crazy person, maybe if he had a stronger ‘don’t get taken advantage of’ meme defense, he would have worked out a reasonable contract and died a wealthy crazy person.

            As to society having a problem with prostitution, I think that is in particular a totally separate, cultural moral value, that is not related to money as much as it is to sexual purity and other things.

          • shakeddown says:

            If your heuristic is “do fun things with people who aren’t making money, charge money from those who do”, you can still make money. If you’re always okay with not charging for work you enjoy, you’re going to have money problems. To some degree it’s an arbitrary Schelling fence, but it is a useful one.
            Regarding the date: The idea behind paying for your date’s dinner (in theory) isn’t giving her something in return for sex, it’s demonstrating high status so that she’ll think you’re worth sleeping with. The idea of exchanging something for sex bothers a lot of people (partly, I think, because it describes sex as something men do to women and women endure; I wouldn’t want to sleep with someone who felt like she was doing me a favour). Demonstrating status to make her want to do it isn’t quite the same thing.

          • Aapje says:

            It’s not corrupt to earn money, but companies regularly do things like these:
            – Do a competition for a design, where the prize doesn’t even pay for 1 person doing the job, let alone each competitor
            – Let artists ‘audition’ for a job by doing an assignment, except the assignment is actually the work (so they think that the assignment is an investment that give a reasonable chance at well paid job, but that chance is zero).
            – Ask people to do labor for ‘their portfolio,’ while the other workers get regular pay.

            The elements of unfairness in these situations are:
            – One worker get paid much less for his labor
            – There is often deception, where a carrot that doesn’t exist is dangled in front of the worker

            Of course, you would probably argue that this is simple supply/demand, but I can still consider the outcomes of that to be immoral (just like a monopolist vs consumer situation can lead to immoral supply/demand outcomes).

            If a bunch of people work together without financial motive (aka a shared hobby), then none of this is true, as each person generally is on an equal level then.

  7. Tibor says:

    There’s this new American/British/Czech film (the film is really good by the way, my only minor grudge is that the foreign actors, when trying to speak with a Czech accent, end up speaking with something more like a Russian or Polish one, but whatever) which reminded me of a piece of Czech(oslovakian) history which also presents a moral puzzle.

    Some background for those who don’t know the story:

    So Czechoslovakia was annexed by Germany when its allies abandoned it in Munich and since the Czech factories were vital to the German war effort but Czechs often sabotaged the production and generally caused a lot of problems. So Hitler appointed Reynhard Heydrich to be the new Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia. Heydrich was deplorable man even by Nazi standards. He was the architect of the Final Solution and who’s even kept archives with dirt on both Himmler and Hitler (the only two people above him in the Nazi hierarchy) in case it ever becomes useful for him. When he became the protector, he started a reign of terror (even compared to the previous Nazi regime) and eventually the exiled Czechoslovakian government decided to send parachutists to Czechoslovakia with a mission to assassinate him.
    That mission eventually succeeded but there was a retribution from the Nazi side, they exterminated two villages (which had nothing to do with the assassination) and executed many other people.

    Now here’s the puzzle:

    Was it worth doing it and also was it morally right or wrong. On one hand, few people deserve to die more than Heydrich did. Killing him also made Czechoslovakia enjoy a status of an allied (and therefore victorious) power after the war (even though since it was quickly basically annexed by the Russians, it did not matter all so much but nobody could know that was going to happen at the time), something for example Austria did not (and since Slovakia joined Hitler at first and the rest of the country capitulated without a single shot, it was not all that clear that the country would have been treated that way otherwise).

    On the other hand, it was clear that killing him would have no immediate effects, it would not end the war or stop the Nazi occupation and it was also clear than the Nazis were going to revenge their third in command and that innocent people would die and suffer because of that.

    On a yet another hand (I have three hands), Heydrich was going to be killing and torturing people anyway and the assassination possibly made the next Protektor a little bit insecure in his position, perhaps causing him to be a little bit more careful about the level of violence after the revenge was over at least (and the massacres in the villages Lidice and Ležáky happened on direct orders from Hitler).

    The problem with letting people like that go unchecked is that it is then enough for them to keep hostages and they are free to do anything. The problem with killing them is that you risk not just your own life (all the parachutists died in this case since their hiding place was betrayed by a Nazi collaborator for 1 million Reichsmark) but also the lives of the hostages.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      My instinct is to say the assassins did the right thing, despite the massacre of the two villages. But that is easy to say from a distance.

      I certainly agree with the Israeli approach to terrorism, to never give in any demands, even at the risk of all hostage lives, because this saves more lives in the long run. But I am not sure if this relates to the situation in Czechoslovakia, since they were sure to get another Nazi overlord even with the assassination. It might be true that more lives were saved over the course of the war, because the replacement was less sure of his position, and was probably less ruthless than his predecessor, but I don’t think that can be known.

      • Tibor says:

        Well, the successor actually was less ruthless. Heydrich earned the nickname “Butcher of Prague” in the 8 months he was the Reichsprotektor for a reason. Of course, the question is whether the number of people killed as a revenge for his death was higher or lower than the number of people who were not killed because Heydrich was no longer the Protektor during the remaining 3 years of war.

        I agree with your opinion on Israel. It seems cruel but probably saves lives at the end. It still hast to be a very hard pill to swallow for any Israeli whose relatives get captured by the terrorists though (and of course, also the people who are kidnapped themselves). On the other hand, I am not sure that policy really is true. I remember this case of the Israeli soldier who ended up being exchanged for a number of Hamas terrorists some 3-4 years ago. Or do I remember it wrong?

    • dndnrsn says:

      The assassination wasn’t a Czech exile government operation, it was an SOE operation in which the Czech exile government was involved.

      My understanding (based on … ugh, can’t recall the source, read it on paper some time ago) is that Heydrich waa quite effective at fighting the Czech resistance. This is one of the reasons he was overconfident: riding in an unarmoured, open-topped car with no bodyguard on the same route is kind of the opposite of what you do if you want to be a hard target.

      The British understood that his death would be met with harsh reprisals. They felt that this would spur the Czech resistance, and additionally that Heydrich’s successor would likely be less competent.

      The moral puzzle is not the Czech government in exile saying “do we punish this bad guy if it will lead to reprisals against our civilian population?” it’s the British saying “do we accept reprisals against a foreign civilian population in exchange for something that will harm the German war effort?”

      • Tibor says:

        Wikipedia says that it was carried out by the SOE with the approval of the Czechoslovak exile government. So presumably it would not have happened otherwise (or it would have happened with British soldiers, but if they had spoken with the same fake accent as the British actors in that film, they would have been shot the first day they’d come to Prague).

        Which reminds me of officer Crabtree 🙂

  8. Siah Sargus says:

    Alright, so “male birth control” is trending on Facebook, and a bunch of people who have no idea of what they’re talking about are discussing an article that has no idea what it’s talking about, so I’m going to effortpost to numb away the pain.

    So… despite the levels of sexual dimorphism seen in humans, there is a consistent level of symmetry in contraceptive methods of all levels. It would seem that every method for one sex has an equivalent for the other; barrier methods like condoms and dam; surgical methods like vasectomies and tubal ligation. But there is no matching method for men on the market that is quite like estrogen-progestin birth control pills.

    So where is male hormonal contraception?

    First off, in a horrifically over-simplified nutshell, female birth control prevents ovulation by minimizing the amount of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and especially Luteinising Hormone (LH) circulating through their endocrine system. It does this by artificially raising their estrogen levels, and often also progesterone levels. Usually these female sex steroids are given orally, “the pill”, but can also be given transdermally or as depot shots. When you administer sex hormones externally, exogenous (made externally) instead of endogenous (made internally), the body, detecting the sudden rise in sex hormone levels in the hypothalamus, tries to maintain homeostasis, and stops producing that hormone on its own for the duration that it continues to receive exogenous hormones. This is called HPGA (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Gonad Axis ) suppression. A sudden decrease in estrogen production commensurately lowers FSH and LH levels — again, the hormones responsible for ovulation in females; an egg is never released through ovulation if the are are no hormones present to “tell” it to. Without eggs in the tubes, the female reproductive system is firing blanks with its cycle.

    Men also have FSH and LH in their endocrine system, and their roles are largely the same; the production of gametes from the gonads – so for men that means they’re responsible for the secretion of sperm. In addition to that, men also have their own sex-linked hormone analogous to estrogen – testosterone. And sure enough, decreasing the amount of endogenous testosterone by introducing exogenous testosterone also reduces levels of FSH and LH just like it does with women.

    But how do you introduce exogenous testosterone and insure it doesn’t all absorb immediately? Esters. As simply as possible, ester chains are chains of carbon and hydrogen on steroids that prevent them from being absorbed immediately by increasing their water solubility. The longer the ester chain, the longer the half life in the body, because the ester deactivates the steroid until it is cleaved off in the bloodstream, allowing it to linger longer in the tissue. Esters increase the total free testosterone in the body over time by releasing it more slowly. Two commonly manufactured relatively long half-life esters for testosterone are cypionate and enanthate, but either will work for birth control.

    But that’s where we start to run into trouble. With women, you only have to halt the ovulation of one egg, with men, it’s the secretion of millions of sperm. And decreasing FSH and LH via exogenous testosterone alone doesn’t completely halt all sperm production (spermatogenesis), it only reduces it. The reason is… convoluted; although currently (2016) it appears that testosterone and FSH alone are capable of causing spermatogenesis, estrogen and prolactin also appear to play a role in normal male pubertal development. We need another hormone.

    Thus enter progestin. For women, progestin sees use alongside estrogen in many birth control pills, especially more modern ones. In basic terms it helps “even out” some of the effects of estrogen in the pill, and generally reduces the side-effect load. For men, adding progestin into the body at doses effective for assisting infertility does quite the opposite, on account of its highly feminizing properties. However a more androgenic 19-nor progesterone-analogue like Nandrolone on top of testosterone in a hypothetical contraceptive would be more effective at causing total infertility than testosterone alone, largely because of its role in suppressing FSH, LH, and and increasing prolactin. This is because Nandrolone binds to both promiscuously to progesterone and testosterone receptors simulating the effects of both to some degree.

    I’m sure by now you’ll have noticed the problem, the elephant in the room.

    Effective male hormonal contraception is steroids.

    Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids or AAS, to be specific. Made illegal to possess without a prescription in the Anabolic Steroids Control act of 1990. (Joe Bidden’s fault, by the way). And that would be fine if you could get a prescription filled for off-label use, but it’s schedule-III status specifically prohibits that. No doctors will write a prescription for testosterone-based birth control, and no pharmacies will fill it. As a man, to exercise the same bodily autonomy as women do with regards to birth will require you to break the law. But this is not because the government is sexist – The issue is not so much with the androgenic nature of male sex hormones as it is with their anabolic nature. But that’s the precisely the problem, female steroids aren’t anabolic, and male steroids are. Anabolic means “muscle promoting” and, sure enough anabolic steroids leads to unparalleled growth in lean muscle mass when compared to placebo. They are performance enhancing drugs, and can and have been used to gain advantages in sports like baseball. For this reason, and this reason alone, the use of exogenous anabolic steroids is illegal at the federal level. Despite any of the other potential medical applications. The government apparently doesn’t want you scoring home runs.

    There has been a desperate push among various pharmaceutical companies to produce a male birth control that is not anabolic, but there has been little success. To avoid any and all anabolic effects, researchers have to find increasing convoluted ways to shut down sperm production, while female birth control is free to go directly for the hormonal method. So far, that’s all we’ve heard about legal efforts for male birth control; the difficulties of tiptoeing around the male endocrine system. The knowledge that these multi-million dollar companies have desperately tried to remove the ability for their drug to make people more lean and muscular should reveal how much of a fucking farce this is. Strength and muscle is a feature, an integral part of male hormonal effects, not a bug in the code to be rid of. Muscle is masculine.

    As long as testosterone has the muscle-promoting effects it does, it and all of its derivatives will continue being used in sports, and no amount of drug testing, regulation, or moral posturing will prevent that. As a proper transhumanist, I just want to see how far we can push its effects, how fast and muscular we can make people, how much arete we can grasp from beyond our natural boundaries…

    So how bad are the side effects of steroid use anyway? Obviously, they have been exaggerated in public discourse on account of its illegality, but even then, the side effects don’t sound awful. Worst case scenario of side effects is basically “second puberty”; increased androgenic hair growth, increased libido, random erections, male pattern balding if you were predisposed to it, and more aggression. (Aggression, not rage. This is important, you will never lose control of yourself even on the highest doses of testosterone; anyone who ever said they did is either lying to cover their ass, or took a different drug.) Also on the list of effects is testicular atrophy; this is what will cause infertility for the duration of use, the breakdown of the leydig cells in the testes.

    Also of note while we are on side effects: Supraphysiological doses of exogenous testosterone quickly aromatize in some percentage to abnormally high doses of estradiol, the most powerful estrogen. (Well, all estrogens come from androgens…) Commonly, this leads to all of the side effects of high estrogen, including a more gynoid fat distribution, expanding areolas and nipple development(gynocomastia), acne, and thicker hair. Now you might see these side effects trotted out in some “steroids are DANGEROUS” type-pamphlet you’d find at a high school, but these aren’t the really the side effects of testosterone. They’re the side effects of estradiol. Since this actions only happens through the actions of the aromatase enzyme, one just uses an aromatase inhibitor to keep their estrogen levels stable when using supraphysiological doses exogenous testosterone. It’s that simple.

    Also in order to not damage yourself from the effects of testosterone, you can’t take it forever at high doses. When you do come off of a high dose, your body will ramp up estrogen production (remember, maintaining homeostasis), and this can cause all of the previously listed estrogen side effects. In order to prevent this, you’ll have to use a Selective androgen receptor modulator or SARM, this is not optional. If you just drop testosterone without a SARM, you will get all of the nasty side-effects they talk about on those pamphlets. And if you want to make sure you have your fertility back, you’ll have to use HCG.

    So there you have it, hormonal contraception for men, nice and simple. Too simple, honestly. A paragraph here is a whole chapter in an endocrinology textbook.

    TL;DR: Male Birth Control that doesn’t make you “depressed” exists, it’s illegal, and it makes your balls shrink. This is not legal or medical advice.

    • Tibor says:

      I dunno, I think it is easier to just use a condom. No side effects.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        This is a very undesirable option, from what I gather.

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        Well the few times I have tried using a condom the sex was no good at all; there was no sensation. I would just as soon have no penetration at all and just do the cuddly thing. I can see why guys would shy from condoms if they had the same effect as me.

        • Tibor says:

          Most condoms really are bad, but try buying extra thin ones. It possibly also helps to be circumcised. Sure, the feeling is better without them but I don’t think it is worth messing up with the hormones in your or your partner’s body. My ex-girlfriend used to take hormonal contraception until her doctor told her to lay off since she had some predisposition to bad knees and the contraception somehow made it worse (she had to walk around using crutches for a few weeks). So ever since then we had only had sex with condoms or were “being careful”.

          As for the latter contraception method, it is actually surprisingly effective. If done perfectly then it leads to a yearly 4% pregnancy rate. That is roughly a chance of 1 in 3 after ten years. Not ideal for one night stands I guess, not a big problem in a long term relationship. And of course, you can probably improve it further by starting the sex without a condom and putting it on later (this requires some discipline but it is not that hard, especially if you keep condoms within an arm’s reach).

          • Siah Sargus says:

            Condoms are uniquely awful in America for a number of weird reasons. Because the diameter of the opening is regulated by law, it’s basically a cock tourniquet for me, and I can’t put one on my erect penis, I have to put them on half-flaccid. It would make sense to have condoms in multiple different diameters and lengths, and let people decide what is comfortable for them, but feds are deathly afraid that men will ego size them and they’ll be too loose for effective contraception. So all condoms are effectively one size, even magnums and XLs and whatever, they all have the same (maximum allowed) diameter. I don’t have the problem with gloves or socks, just condoms, and it’s so stupid.

          • Tibor says:

            @Siah Sargus:

            Really? This definitely is above average in terms of ridiculousness of regulation. Sometimes, in the EU it feels like there is an idiotic regulation about everything and that it is better elsewhere but apparently the US is not part of that elsewhere.

            Well, then, I guess you could still smuggle condoms from Canada or Mexico 🙂

          • Does “being careful” mean coitus interruptus? That seems to have been a very common form of contraception in the past–pretty clearly what Casanova often used. I think the term in the current translation is “sparing her.”

            I believe that the rhythm method, done carefully by keeping track of body temperature, is also pretty effective, although it obviously has the disadvantage of limiting sex for part of the month.

          • Tibor says:

            @David: Yes, that’s what I meant (one of the links in my post is to a wikipedia article on interrupted coitus). It cites a 4% yearly failure (i.e. pregnancy) rate if done perfectly and 22% with typical use. The Wikipedia article does not specify what typical use means but it links to a study which probably does.

            I also heard that in Casanova’s time, there were condoms made of animal intestines. That may sound gross to someone but this is what is used to wrap sausages and we eat those. What is a little less nice is that they were intended for repeated use. I am also not sure how effective they were. I’d guess they were also considerably thicker than modern condoms.

            By the way, I looked up thinnest condoms in the world, all the extremely thin ones seem to be manufactured in Japan for some reason. However, some are even 5 times thinner than the thinnest condoms from Durex which makes be doubt their durability.

            But using the usual extra thin condoms plus in the worst case the “day after pill” in case the condom breaks unnoticed seem like a good alternative to hormonal contraception to me. And you could combine that with the rhythm method and interrupted coitus during the days were the probability of conception is very low to enjoy very safe sex without a condom from time to time as well. Of course, this does not quite work when people have sex outside of a long term relationship.

            The average time to conception is several months by the way – when people are actually trying to have children – which I believe is one of the reasons for male sexual choice and incidentally an explanation for why human females are very different from females of many other animals, who tend to look drab compared to their male counterparts. Since having a good chance to conceive a child requires at least a few months of a sexual relationship, human males also end up being picky, unlike birds for example. But now I am well on board the off topic train now, so I will get off again and stop 🙂

          • dndnrsn says:

            Of the 2 condoms I have ever had break on me, one was one of those Japanese super-thin ones. They were also a bit small, which while a real ego boost, is not a great thing to have in a condom – too small means they can sort of work their way up and slip off.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Well, then, I guess you could still smuggle condoms from Canada or Mexico 🙂

            Or the UK, for a few bucks.

          • Boswell, who was a contemporary of Casanova, mentions using condoms–I think he refers to them as “armor.” I believe Casanova also mentions them, am not sure if he actually used them or not.

            So far as what they are made of, back when such questions were of practical interest to me the thinnest ones were organic, I think from fetal lamb skins if I remember correctly. But that was a long time ago.

          • Loquat says:

            “Armor against love, gossamer against infection” is the quote I remember. Don’t know if it was Boswell, but someone around that time period.

          • Tibor says:

            @DavidFriedman: Practical interest? Are the SCA members so dedicated as to use period contraception? :-))

        • Deiseach says:

          How do you feel about condoms as disease control, since barrier methods seem to be primarily the way to prevent STIs?

          Certainly, if you are in a long-term relationship with one sexual partner where you both have disease-free sexual histories and are not engaging in risky practices, you can dispense with condoms. You know, the boring old-fashioned traditional vanilla habits. But otherwise? (I’m not asking anyone for personal details of who/what/where/when/how, just “if you don’t like condoms, what the heck do you do instead to protect yourself?”)

          • Siah Sargus says:

            You know how surgeons always wear gloves? It’s called body substance isolation, or BSI. It prevents the mixing of fluids, and therefore, many types of contagious disease, to a certain threshold.

            In the same vein, condoms are just gloves; they’re BSI. I don’t really consider them contraceptive, they’re more like interceptive. So they are more about disease control than baby prevention, so most people understand their use for casual sex. But most people don’t have the super icky diseases (citation needed) and nobody but the truly paranoid go around wearing masks to prevent the common cold, so I think that this can be a bit aggressive of an approach.

            For hookups, usually it’s just me handing them some lab results that show I’m HIV and HPV negative. That tend to buy me enough good will to not have to worry about condoms with dudes.

          • shakeddown says:

            Aren’t you worried about them infecting you?

          • Siah Sargus says:

            Serious: Most hookups don’t go straight to anal, especially casual ones.

            Flippant: All of this testosterone is a perfect treatment for AIDS, anyway.

          • Tibor says:

            @Siah Sargus: I am confused now. If you’re gay, why do you care so much about contraception? You are lucky not to have to deal with that 🙂

          • Siah Sargus says:

            @Tibor

            What is more likely, given your priors, a gay man who wants birth control for no reason, or a bisexual man?

          • Tibor says:

            @Siah Sargus: Good point 🙂

          • Deiseach says:

            For hookups, usually it’s just me handing them some lab results that show I’m HIV and HPV negative. That tend to buy me enough good will to not have to worry about condoms with dudes.

            According to some, STIs are increasing both in the UK and USA, especially amongst young adults and MSM:

            These were among new statistics showing continuing very high rates of STIs among gay men and young adults. The data prompted renewed calls from a senior PHE official for people with new, or casual, sexual partners to have regular STI tests. The official also urged them to help reverse the high levels of “condomless sex”.

          • Aapje says:

            @Saih Sargus

            But most people don’t have the super icky diseases

            MSM are way more likely to have HIV than women or purely hetero men, though.

        • Spookykou says:

          using a condom the sex was no good at all; there was no sensation.

          Maybe I am very strange, but I notice very little difference between sex with a condom and without. I have even on a few occasions broken condoms and only became aware of it after a visual inspection. This also applies to different thickness of condom, the only thing I notice from extra thin condoms is I break them more often. Am I uniquely insensitive, or are other people exaggerating? I have always gotten the impression, after having sex with a condom, that the really aggressive anti condom talk was some sort of group think cognitive bias thing.

          • shakeddown says:

            From personal experience, I doubt it’s just group talk. (I’d only heard of it once or twice from Family Guy jokes, and didn’t consider it particularly believable, until I had personal experience with it. OTOH, I wasn’t using thin ones).

          • onyomi says:

            A friend’s Indian grandfather (who prefers to eat with his hands, as is Indian practice) quipped: “eating with a fork and knife is like making love with a condom!” I feel like, however you feel about knives, forks, or condoms, it somehow seems about right.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Our inappropriate locker room talk suggests condoms are universally despised.

            Personally, I could only wear thin-skinned condoms, and even those reduced sensation so much that in about half of the sessions I could not actually finish.

          • Spookykou says:

            reduced sensation so much that in about half of the sessions I could not actually finish.

            Somebody I once dated was actually upset because I was the first person that they could not make climax while I was still wearing pants (a lap dance and heavy petting over the cloths was supposed to generate this effect).

            Personally mental arousal seems dramatically more important to the equation than minor changes to the physical sensation. But literally every guy seems to be against me on this one, so maybe I am wrong.

          • shakeddown says:

            That’s generally true for me too (which is probably unusual for a man, and worries me a bit). I may be dating the wrong people.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I think I’m the only guy in the world who prefers sex with condoms to sex without. I think part of this is really getting the safe-sex approach just dropped on me a million times when I was a kid, and being a fairly anxious-especially-about-germs type in general. But I find the sensation without … weird. Kind of “squishy”. And I went from using super-thin Japanese ones to the regular kind. And I would agree the mental side of things is more important.

          • Spookykou says:

            @dndnrsn

            Well while I don’t have a strong preference either way. I agree totally on the safe sex thing.

            Edit: I tell too many personal stories

          • lvlln says:

            Just want to chime in and say that I, too, as a man have found the mental aspect of arousal to be far – FAR – more important to both pleasure and finishing during sex than physical sensation. Up to a certain point, of course – or maybe beyond a certain threshold?

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            as a man have found the mental aspect of arousal to be far – FAR – more important to both pleasure and finishing during sex than physical sensation

            Wow, I am a bit amazed. Sure the part about getting horny and hard, so to speak, is mostly mental. But the rest of it, I really need to feel something physical. Otherwise, what’s the point — if it’s all a mind thing then you don’t even need to pull down your pants. Maybe getting too clinical here, but it sure ain’t that way for me.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Without the mental part, as far as I’m concerned it just becomes an inferior, riskier, more time-consuming, generally-more-trouble-than-it’s-worth form of masturbation. But that might just be how I’m wired.

          • lvlln says:

            @Mark V Anderson

            Like I said, it’s beyond a certain threshold. It’s not like I could just mentally think my way to an orgasm – there needs to be a non-trivial physical component. But at a certain point, the mental component becomes far more important.

    • Reasoner says:

      Doesn’t testosterone increase the risk of heart attacks or something like that?

      • Siah Sargus says:

        Not really; the primary concern with long term use of supraphysiological exogenous Testosterone is left ventricular hypertrophy. A high dose of Testosterone makes every muscle grow, including the smooth ones in the heart. every athletic person has some level of left ventricular hypertophy, it’s simply called athlete’s heart; the heart is enlarged, more muscular, and bradycardic. It’s difficult to see exactly where it becomes pathological to have an enlarged heart, and if one does frequent cardiovascular exercise (you should be doing this anyways, hahaha)it with have much less of a chance to develop pathologically.

      • Eric Rall says:

        From what I gather, the evidence is mixed. There’s a recent large observational study showing a short-term increase in heart attack risk after starting testosterone replacement therapy, but that increase is specific to older men (65+) or men who have a prior history of heart disease. There’s also another recent large observational study with a longer time horizon (8 years, I think) that shows no increase in risk.

        There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence of pro bodybuilders dying relatively young from various causes (mostly heart and liver issues) attributed to steroid use. This is suggestive but not rigorous, and it’s also reflective of large superphysiological doses of anabolic steroids (along with whatever else they’ve been taking to dump bodyfat and excess water for competitions, etc), not of the physiological replacement doses that would be used for birth control.

        The theoretical effects are mixed. Left ventricle hypertrophy, which Siah Sargus just mentioned, is one negative effect (extreme LVH is bad because the muscle becomes too thick for the heart to go through its full range of motion). The other major negative effect I know of is high hematocrit: increased testosterone triggers production of more red blood cells, and too many red blood cells make the blood too thick (requiring a higher blood pressure to force it where it needs to go, and increasing the risk of a narrowed artery becoming blocked). This latter can be screened for easily, and can be treated by donating blood (or drawing and discarding it) periodically.

        The main positive cardiovascular effects I know of are that increased testosterone makes the body more inclined to build muscle and less inclined to store fat (leading to a healthier body composition in most men), and that the anabolic effects tend to make people more inclined to be physically active (because a given activity level is easier for a stronger person, and because a more anabolic hormonal state partially counteracts the body’s stress response to strenuous physical activity).

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      Is there anything to heat-based contraception?

      • onyomi says:

        I think the level of heat necessary to reliably kill the sperm is more than one could comfortably tolerate, though apparently men trying to conceive are sometime told not to take too many hot baths.

    • scherzando says:

      Related to this study, how common is it for medical studies to be terminated early based on side effects? I’d assume it’s somewhat common, committees overseeing human subjects research generally taking a cautious approach, but I’m curious if anyone knows more about this.

    • At a considerable tangent, is there some safe method, preferably a drug, to produce retrograde ejaculation as a form of birth control?

      • Siah Sargus says:

        Haha, that’s a thought. It’s possible to do with enough kegel training, usually the sperm gets reabsorbed or released when you piss. (Incidentally, not ejaculating means no refractory period, so this also makes you multi-orgasmic!)

      • Loquat says:

        There are drugs that produce it as a side effect, particularly tamsulosin aka Flomax which relaxes the relevant muscles as part of its primary function, but I’m not seeing any drugs listed as *reliably* producing retrograde ejaculation. One can also cause it by using certain physical techniques during sex, e.g. applying pressure to the perineum at time of orgasm, but obviously this involves some inconvenience and takes some practice to learn to do correctly.

      • onyomi says:

        There is a Daoist method involving using one to three fingers (middle finger of the dominant hand is best, in my experience) to press up and forward on the perineum such that the urethra is pressed against the pubic bone, causing the semen to go into the bladder, from where it will come out with the next urination, though it’s easier to do during masturbation than sex and not fully reliable in the heat of the moment.

    • psmith says:

      Before we get too excited, it’s worth noting that exogenous test is a pretty unreliable contraceptive, at least anecdotally. Lots of guys on gear accidentally knock up their wives and girlfriends. I gather there’s some speculation that sperm production starts back up after 1-2 years on the pin.

      • Siah Sargus says:

        Which is why, in my post, I mentioned that exogenous testosterone wasn’t enough to properly inhibit spermatogenesis. Dudes on gear, even dudes on powerlifting megadoses of multiple compounds, aren’t directly seeking infertility, and a lot of them run HCG on cruises.

    • Deiseach says:

      You’re contradicting yourself within your own argument; at one point you mock the ban on steroids as “apparently the government doesn’t want you to hit home runs” yet much further down you do acknowledge that one does have to come off high doses of testosterone “in order to not damage yourself from the effects of testosterone”.

      Oh, so someone taking high doses for a long while can cause themselves more than getting nice big muscles and maybe losing their hair? So perhaps the government does have some room for concern there?

      As well, your fervent assertion that all steroids do is increase aggression, and aggressiveness has nothing to do with rage – I think it does. As well, every single person who said they were more easily provoked to anger and found it harder to control themselves was lying? Really? Sounds like special pleading on your part in favour of steroids which you plainly approve of and want.

      As to male hormonal contraception, I think there’s a reluctance amongst men generally because of the attitude you demonstrate: that somehow it will “feminise” them (“muscle is masculine”).

      Plus, it’s not simple even as you lay it out: it’s not just “take steroids”, it’s “take steroids. And an aromatase inhibitor because heh, yeah, too much T will give you lady-body. And then you have to come off the high doses of T anyway because it’s bad for you to keep taking it. And then you have to take a SARM while you’re off it. And if you decide you want kids, you’ll need to take HCG to restore your fertility”.

      The female hormonal pill is a lot simpler by comparison, just as it’s a lot simpler to have a vasectomy (and reverse it) than to have tubal ligation.

      • Siah Sargus says:

        Sigh… hello Deiseach.

        I suppose I shouldn’t do this, but you definitely missed the point. I don’t like banning or prohibiting any drugs, even ones with greater capacity for abuse like cocaine and alcohol. I’m not saying steroids can’t be dangerous, I’m saying they were banned for an absurd reason. (Major League Baseball? Really?) I’m also saying that steroids can be useful for contraception, and then detail out how and why that works.

        In my personal experience (hooray for ancedata) steroids didn’t increase aggression in my friends. Sure for the first few weeks, they were more brazenly cocky, but no one ever became anything more than boldly assertive. And the promotion of the belief that steroids will create some sort of roid rage has never held any merit to me, and at best was the result of a nocebo effect. To be masculine is not to be mad.

        And in constructing your counterpoint, you forget, most men use steroids like I detail. That is too say they don’t run supraphysiological doses for extended periods of time, they take an aromatase inhibitor to have the optimal amount of estrogen, and they PCT afterwards for quality of life.

        Muscle is masculine. Unless you want to explain to me how the nuclear androgen receptors work to somehow not directly create more skeletal muscle in the body, you’re just quoting, not refuting. And speaking of masculinity, not wanting to have a feminine body is a perfectly valid preference. And no, “too much T will give you lady-body” is untrue. The Testosterone has to be aromatized into Estradiol. Aromatization is a normal, healthy process of the endocrine system. All men need Estrogens to maintain a healthy hormonal balance in their bloodstream, one can’t have too much or too little. The Aromatase Inhibitors maintain the balance of Estrogens to Androgens when the androgens are at supraphysiological levels. If that balance is off, then you develop more gynoid characteristics, your “lady-body”. Don’t demonize the desire to maintain an endocrine balance as a sexist phobia.

        >The female hormonal pill is a lot simpler by comparison, just as it’s a lot simpler to have a vasectomy (and reverse it) than to have tubal ligation.

        I agree. That’s why they were developed first. But there’s a difference between complicated and untenable. You didn’t disagree or refute my central point, which was that male birth control is feasible with existing drugs, but illegal for no good reason.

        • Deiseach says:

          Thanks for the consideration of my points, Siah. I don’t really care too much about masculinity (or feminity if it comes to that). Yeah, men have more muscle mass than women. Guys want to bulk up? Good luck to them. But they’re doing it for their own reasons, and if “worried I’m insufficiently masculine” is one of them, I don’t know what to say to them other than “Why do you care?” which plainly is okay for me, because I don’t care a straw about does someone judge I’m sufficiently/insufficiently “feminine”, but is not helpful for others. Guys doing it because they like and want huge bulgy muscles is fine, and I suppose I don’t get to express an opinion about endangering their health.

          To trade anecdotes for anecdotes, I did notice increased aggression and liability to fly off the handle, get angrier faster, and eat the face off people during the period of the menstrual cycle associated with peaking testosterone, and mood swings and irritability of PMS is definitely a thing, so YMMV 🙂

          Okay, leaving that aside – unless society and sport agrees that okay, let’s throw in the towel on doping because we’re never going to stamp it out, so from now on the Olympic medallists will all come from these six countries who have the money, tech and skills to run sophisticated doping programmes and the rest of the globe can provide its best athletes as feeder schools for these countries who’ll take the best raw talent and dope (and train) ’em up, we are going to have “these are unfair advantages, they’re cheating, they’re illegal”. You want to complain about that, write to the relevant governing bodies (FIFA for one is notoriously corrupt and would be onside with a few briefcases full of cash to change their rules). I know nothing about MLB but presumably it’s a damn lucrative business like a lot of globally popular sports. Equally presumably, they’ll change their drugs policies when it becomes economically advantageous – if the public want to see huge distances covered, really high scores (which is what I’m given to understand happened in basketball scoring so you can have matches with hundreds of points scored) or numbers of home runs, and will only pay to attend games/matches where that happens, and the only way to do this is get players/athletes bulked up or otherwise pharmaceutically enhanced, then the chequebook will win out over principle.

          But dumping huge amounts of artificial hormones into your system is not a great long-term idea, and not just for humans if some studies are to be believed, and I’m not thrilled about it for women (that’s why I refused HRT for menopause). Even after decades of wide-spread usage, the risks and complications are still being smoothed out. The male hormonal contraceptive, as you have described it, sounds even more complicated and again, it’s only after decades that all the bugs will be worked out.

          It sounds great in your 20s and 30s to take loads of chemicals because you feel young, invulnerable, healthy and what harm can it do when you’re smart and know the risks? When you’re 50 and 60 and your body is breaking down around you, it’s a different matter.

          In brief – I don’t think government objections can simply be dismissed as “they’re all so dumb and their reasons are stupid and we should be allowed fuck ourselves up if we want to!” I mean, I’d be persuadable on “I should be allowed fuck my body over if I want to”, if the corollary is “And twenty years down the line I won’t be demanding that Somebody Should Do Something to fix me up after me fucking myself over with chemicals”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The degree to which doping overcomes talent, hard work, etc probably differs from sport to sport, but often doping isn’t that expensive, with the result that everyone does it and talent, hard work, etc win out.

            On the one hand, the Eastern Bloc had elite doping programs – but on the other hand, their success in some sports had as much to do with their willingness to run a sports system designed on chewing up and spitting out huge numbers of athletes in order to come up with a few winners. I think China still has a system like that.

            On the other, though, if you consider sprinting and the 10km, there appears to be little correlation between the wealth of the country and how its citizens do – Caribbean relative dominance in sprinting is common knowledge, and Ethiopians plus one Kenyan hold all the records for the 5 and 10km.

          • Siah Sargus says:

            Well, to add data to your anecdote, it’s often more about the rapid change in various hormone levels than the levels of those hormones. So a low, consistent dose of testosterone will have much less moodiness associated with it than erratic, powerful doses.

            And to address the larger point you had, I don’t care about doping in sports. The WORLD ANTI-DOPING FEDERATION (WADA) is as ridiculous and self serving an agency as any other. You know bodybuilding , or at least the IFBB, is regulated by WADA? Look at pro bodybuilders. (Or don’t, they cross the uncanny valley for me.) It’s ridiculous to me that the USA takes the bullshit demands of the WADA seriously, or even into consideration at all. My country should be stronger than that. Even the DEA didn’t want to ban steroids in the nineties. I think they understand the perverse incentives around drug use in sports, and I don’t think illegality does anything to deter anyone at high levels of play. If the movies have shown us anything, it’s that people will pay to see superheroes.

            And yes, I should be allowed to do whatever I want with my body, and the government shouldn’t act like a doting nanny. Bodily Autonomy is the name of the game for me, and my blood is private property. I pay for the gear, the blood tests, and the ancillaries; everyone else minds their business.

          • Deiseach says:

            Look at pro bodybuilders. (Or don’t, they cross the uncanny valley for me.)

            So you don’t consider MOAR MUSCLE MOAR MASCULINE in their case? 🙂 (I agree on the bodybuilder thing, it strikes me as grotesque, but plainly for them it’s a case of looking a certain way considered desirable, strong, masculine, and to be judged by the standards of their art for their work, dedication and success in achieving the end required).

            Okay, as long as people who lift and bulk up acknowledge they’re doing it for their own psychological incentives and not because “it makes me more manly/women and men like muscles and this gets me laid/I look better and feel healthier”, we can agree to disagree on this. You want to take steroids to achieve a level of muscle mass you feel you would otherwise lack, none of my beeswax, let’s both understand it’s to satisfy the intimation you feel about not having sufficient muscle mass and not for health/attractiveness reasons (the same way some women have to have full professional-level makeup on all the time else they don’t feel sufficiently attractive or that they’re performing femininity correctly).

          • Spookykou says:

            @Deiseach

            not for health/attractiveness…the same way some women have to have full professional-level makeup on all the time else they don’t feel sufficiently attractive…

            I am confused, it seems obvious to me that being more masculine in general equates to being more ‘attractive for a standard male’. Trying to tease out that people want muscles to be more masculine and not to be more attractive seems like a weird task from the start. Similar to being more feminine equating to being more ‘attractive for a standard female’ which you are willing to equivocate between.

          • nancylebovitz says:

            I’ve talked with a body builder (probably at a moderate level) who said that 90% of women were repulsed and 10% “couldn’t keep their hands off”. He apparently thought this was a good tradeoff.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy

            Just because that 90% is repulsed now, doesn’t mean that they would date him otherwise. It’s just like in economics, it can be better to make a product that a 10% of the market really wants to have, than to have a product that 99% of the market rates second best.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            90% of women were repulsed and 10% “couldn’t keep their hands off”. He apparently thought this was a good tradeoff.

            That sounds exactly like the ‘aiming for high variance is good dating strategy’ thing that the OkCupid statistics blog was talking about.

          • Siah Sargus says:

            @Aapje
            @Nacy
            @Deiseach

            Not everyone lifts to get women. The sort of body that is attractive to the largest number of women is not the body people who lift often are seeking to achieve.

            Steroids don’t turn you into a mass monster immediately, years of lifting is required to achieve that level of size regardless of the drugs used. For most people, anabolic androgenic steroids increase your libido and assertiveness, both attractive qualities to heterosexual women, masculine qualities, and many men mistake that spike in interest from women as “women being attracted to muscle”. Of course, women aren’t attracted to just muscle, and I think most people realize that.

            And I’m not finna be taking steroids to meet some lofty ideal of masculinity only achievable with drugs, I’m using them as birth control.

          • Skeltering Lead says:

            @dndnrsn:
            A counter anecdote supporting the efficacy of doping – I believe the country with the most cumulative gold medal’s in women’s olympic rowing is still East Germany, despite being both small and having gone out of existence 26 years ago. They certainly chewed up and spat out their athletes, but they weren’t just selecting from a naturally occurring talent pool.

            As you say, it differs by sport.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Skeltering Lead:

            Yeah, the East German doping program might have been the best, and seems to have benefited the women more than the men, and primarily in water-based sports, with track and field in second. I’d be interested in speculation as to why this is the case.

          • Aapje says:

            It’s obvious why women benefit most. Men are stronger than women and the latter have minimal testosterone levels, so giving women male hormones is going to push them above their baseline much more.

            Testosterone mainly helps with strength and recovery, so it most benefits athletes who do short, high effort. Endurance sports benefit much more from an increase in red blood cells, by blood doping (EPO or transfusions). However, even for them it’s helpful to use testosterone (and Insulin and perhaps HGH).

            In sports where body weight, low fat and/or power/weight ratio is important, catabolic drugs like corticosteroids are a big boon.

            And then there are in competition drugs, like pain killers, which then produces dullness that you can counter with speed or other uppers.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I knew that anabolics have a greater relative effect on women. I’ve read that a coach or nation that gets significantly better women’s results than men is a clue as to doping. But:

            1. Why the East Germans? Were they just the most methodical and relentless in their doping?

            2. Why mostly watersports? They had 38 swimming golds, 33 rowing golds, 14 canoeing golds. And, 38 athletics golds. It doesn’t look to me like these sports have radically more individual events than others where the East Germans didn’t do as well.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            On the success of East German rowers- it’s a sport with less worldwide participation than athletics, and one with a very long history in Germany.

            One point that has been made about women vs. men is that until 1988 women only raced 1000m while men raced 2000m. I’ve heard claims that doping gives more of an advantage over the shorter distance.

            On the other hand, there was also much less support for women’s rowing in the West at the time, so the quality of the competition may have been lower.

          • Aapje says:

            What AlphaGamma said, countries still need a supply of young athletes to come up the ranks. Jamaica wins almost all their medals in sprinting, which is not because they are incapable of doing other sports, but because their entire infrastructure & mentality is focused on that.

            And Eastern Germany was indeed more willing to use extreme quantities of doping, with very damaging results. For example, those amounts allow one to withstand damaging amounts of exertion, which leaves people in permanent pain.

            Furthermore, the female athletes also have to be willing to (temporarily) turn into men in many ways (facial hair, receding hair line, no more menstruation, etc). In the DDR, this was simply mandated, but in the West, athletes could not so easily be forced.

          • nancylebovitz says:

            Siah Sargus

            I was offering one data point, not claiming that men generally do body building to attract women. Even for the one man I talked to, he may well be doing body-building mostly for other reasons, with attracting women as added motivation.

            There must be something fun about bodybuilding, considering that there are women who go in for it even though most people think it makes them less attractive.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            I’m still wondering why the East German doping system was more effective than any other Eastern Bloc country, or China for that matter. It’s not as though those countries couldn’t do the same “take your vitamins or the secret police will take an interest in you and your family” stuff.

            I find doping really interesting, because I follow MMA, a sport where even at the highest levels testing is usually pretty trivial to beat. Anabolics tend to be the drug of choice, for muscular strength (although hypertrophy is often something they seek to avoid, to stay in a weight class) but even more for the ability to reduce wear and tear on the body. Every now and then somebody gets caught but at least until fairly recently all tests were announced ahead of time, meaning they were IQ tests more than drug tests.

            @nancylebovitz:

            It’s important to remember that “bodybuilding” can either refer to bodybuilding proper (where both men and women are enormous brick-shithouse behemoths) or more generally to a category that includes men’s physique, women’s bikini and figure, etc. A men’s physique competitor, especially not starved to low bodyfat, oiled up, having manipulated water, etc will look like a very big guy who clearly works out and spends a lot of money on protein, but not freakish. Likewise, the women’s categories other than pure bodybuilding were largely added to appeal to people turned off by the increasing muscularity of female bodybuilders – some women’s bodybuilders today have levels of muscularity similar to male bodybuilders from the 60s, maybe even 70s, and frequently more definition. A woman’s bikini competitor is very clearly someone who works out a lot and watches her diet very carefully, but again does not have the same freakiness as bodybuilders of either sex have.

            Some people really like the freakiness, though, and I don’t just mean this in a muscle fetishist way – they like the overall aesthetic affect, the muscles-for-the-sake-of-muscles.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            China has a similar ‘problem’ as the US, a strong focus on very few sports. This is a very poor way to get medals, since only a few athletes can compete per sport. For example, there are 300 million basketball players in China, but they can earn at most 2 medal for it (male and female team). There are 200 million Chinese ping pong players, yet they can earn only a couple medals in it. The waste is especially clear if you realize that many other countries have imported Chinese players. So they have so many Olympic worthy players for which there is no place in the team, that these people defect. Effectively, they are sponsoring their competition.

            In the US, it’s arguably even worse as American Football is not Olympic, so that is zero medals for this huge American sport. Baseball in the US is so much bigger than the Olympics, that the US doesn’t actually send it’s best team, so they don’t even dominate there as they ought to. The US won only 3 medals in baseball during the last 5 Olympics (1 gold, 3 bronze) where the sport was featured. In no small part because the US refused to take it seriously, the sport is now gone from the Olympics (so again, zero medal chances for this huge American sport), although this may change for 2020.

            Anyway, the optimal way to get medals is to find the balance between:
            – Find sports that give the most bang for the buck (a single swimmer can win many medals, you need to fund up to 18 players for a chance at one medal in team sports). Also, the same infrastructure can support many swimmers who each can win a medal at a different swimming event.
            – Diversify, so you can send the maximum number of athletes and you won’t have countrymen beating countrymen
            – Defund sports that are not Olympic
            – Doping (but not too much or they will kick you out, ha ha, kidding. The IOC is corrupt and won’t care even if you do it overtly)

            This page has a table that lets you rank countries by medals/population or medals/GDP, which is a much better way to judge which countries do a good job (with the caveat that small countries suffer from small sample sizes and that bigger countries get punished more by the limit on competitors per country).

          • Dahlen says:

            To trade anecdotes for anecdotes, I did notice increased aggression and liability to fly off the handle, get angrier faster, and eat the face off people during the period of the menstrual cycle associated with peaking testosterone, and mood swings and irritability of PMS is definitely a thing, so YMMV

            The odds are it has nothing to do with testosterone. The gentlest, calmest, most mild-mannered guy still has several times your level of testosterone at your PMS-iest. From the graph displayed in the linked .pdf, we’re talking a roughly 50% increase in total as well as free testosterone at a certain point in the menstrual cycle. That’s nowhere near enough to attribute variation in aggression to the masculinising effects of T on behaviour.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Noob question while you’re in effortpost mode: What is it about exogenous hormones that causes them to be treated differently by the body? Something to do with how it gets distributed maybe? Or is it just that it short-circuits the FSH/LH production because the body doesn’t “measure” those directly?

      • Siah Sargus says:

        Good question!

        They aren’t treated differently, really. Testosterone from the testicles and testosterone from the internet are the same molecule. The body will produce a certain amount of testosterone, regulated by the hypothalamus. If the hypothalamus detects too much testosterone, it’ll shut down the production in the testicles to bring the levels back down. If you are administering testosterone from a vial over a period of time, the hypothalamus will shut down testosterone production, and the testosterone will be “supressive”.

        >Or is it just that it short-circuits the FSH/LH production because the body doesn’t “measure” those directly?

        Basically, yes.

    • TheSilverHammer says:

      The problem I have with that story is that it follows the distressingly popular trend of starting with a narrative and interpreting any events as being in support of that narrative.

      I couldn’t help but think, reading that article, that in a hypothetical world where everything relating to birth control is inverted but everything else remains the same, there would have been a similar conclusion: “Men have had a reliable and effective method of birth control for half a century, while women have been left with few options. Now a pill has been developed that can give women the same level of autonomy that men enjoy, but testing was halted because women are perceived as being too weak to handle the side effects. Of course this is just more evidence of the gender bias in medicine. And perhaps even worse is how clearly this reveals men’s need to maintain control over women by denying them authority over their own reproductive choices.”

      • Siah Sargus says:

        I would say that’s fair. I’m not here to genderbait, though, I just think that most people are very ill-informed about testosterone and its effects.

    • keranih says:

      But there is no matching method for men on the market that is quite like estrogen-progestin birth control pills.

      Well, one way of looking at this is that women/female mammals spend a great deal of their lives being *not* fertile – that is, either pregnant, or in anestrus (not something human primates do, but many domestic animals are only seasonally fertile) or just not “in heat” – ie, not in the 6-72 hours surrounding release of an egg during which sperm can find and fertilize an egg successfully.

      Chemical means of female contraception are aimed at either aborting a successful fertilization (before or after actual conception) or lengthening the pre-existing non-fertile period. Either way, it’s manipulating a pre-existing condition.

      However, even in seasonally fertile mammal species, the males of the species tend to have lower libido during the off-season, but actual fertility doesn’t tend to drop. It’s part of the natural state of male critters to be constantly able to impregnate females. To me, it’s not surprising that if the body is going to be producing testosterone constantly, that a variety of male body systems would take the presence of this hormone into account, and use it as part of their normal function.

      Changing this isn’t a paint job, or even changing gears, it’s a major engine rebuild, with significant changes to the chassis.

  9. James Miller says:

    Scott’s classic article about the unbelievable plot of that History Channel show “World War II” is a must read for people trying to understand this U.S. Presidential election.

    • a non mouse says:

      That’s actually a pretty insightful post on why the mainstream view of WWII is ridiculous.

      Not a bad introduction.

      • hyperboloid says:

        the mainstream view of WWII is ridiculous.

        Care to elaborate?

        • James Miller says:

          My guess: WWII wasn’t good vs evil, rather it was mostly evil vs evil with the good guys and OK guys supporting the less powerful evil. But in two surprise twists, the most evil side of them all ended up in control of a big country, and the OK guys perpetrated a monstrously evil act.

          • cassander says:

            The allies most certainly did not perpetrate the Bengali famine. The famine was caused by the Japanese invading the places from which Bengal traditional imported its rice.

          • James Miller says:

            I thought that Churchill knew that there was going to be a famine but he refused to send food to prevent it from happening. Given that England had made itself the master of India, England had an affirmative obligation to stop the famine, and its failure to do so was the moral equivalent of mass murder.

          • cassander says:

            What, precisely, was he supposed to do at the height of the U-boat war with the UK under rationing and Southeast Asia under Japanese occupation? A duty to act requires the ability to act.

          • James Miller says:

            From a relevant Quora question: “What I find amazing was that britain was capable of sending thousands and thousands and thousands of Indian men to ‘fight for the crown’ as far away as Europe… …but the idea of shipping grains to India was “impossible! too dangerous!!”

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m standing over here with a raised eyebrow at your expression of surprise because dear people, it’s not like the Brits didn’t have previous about how they handled famines in subject peoples.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            According to the Wikipedia article:

            In normal regional famines the Indian Government had provided the starving with money, and let the trade bring in grain which worked for regional famines, though this had been disastrous in Orissa in 1888 when, as in 1943, the shortage was not regional but national. In 1942, with the permission of the central government, trade barriers were introduced by the democratically elected provincial governments. The politicians and civil servants of surplus provinces like the Punjab introduced regulations to prevent grain leaving their provinces for the famine areas of Bengal, Madras and Cochin…

            The Government of India realized a mistake had been made and decreed a return to free trade. The Provinces refused. “In this, again, the Government of India misjudged both its own influence and the temper of its constituents, which had by this time gone too far to pay much heed to the Centre.”[37] The Government of India Act 1935 had removed most of the Government of India’s authority over the Provinces, so they had to rely on negotiation.
            Thus, even when the Government of India decreed that there should be free trade in grain, politicians, civil servants, local government officers and police obstructed the movement of grain to famine areas.[38] In some cases provinces seized grain in transit from other provinces to Bengal.[J] As Mahesh Chandra stated in 1943, “But men like Bhai Permanand say that though many traders want to export food [to Bengal] the Punjab Government would not give them permits. He testified to large quantities of undisposed-of rice being in the Punjab.”[39]

            Eventually there was a clear threat by the Government of India to force the elected governments to provide grain, when the new Viceroy, Archibald Wavell, who was a successful general, was about to take office. For the first time substantial quantities of grain started to move to Bengal.[40]

            So it would seem that the famine would have been less severe if the British had exercised more direct control over the Subcontinent, as then they would have been able to just order provincial governments to ship their surplus rice. Oddly enough, though, this point never seems to get mentioned by people trying to prove that Britain or colonialism or British colonialism was evil.

          • nancylebovitz says:

            I’m tempted to think that this is also a poisonous modernity thing– apparently it hadn’t previously occurred to provincial governors (local rulers?) to shut down their borders during famines.

          • bean says:

            “What I find amazing was that britain was capable of sending thousands and thousands and thousands of Indian men to ‘fight for the crown’ as far away as Europe… …but the idea of shipping grains to India was “impossible! too dangerous!!”

            First, “Impossible!” and “Too dangerous!” are not even remotely linked. “Impossible” could easily come from the fact that the allies were using literally all of the shipping they could lay hands on. (And I use literal in the strictest possible sense there.) The ability of the US to project power during WWII was largely limited by available shipping, and thus the shipping was being used to aid the war effort. The Indian ocean was a backwater during 1943, and what shipping could be spared was going to support the military forces. Transporting troops takes different kinds of ships, and there were only 3 Indian divisions (4th, 8th, and 10th) fighting outside of the immediate area in 1943, along with a few more on garrison duties. (I trust you won’t begrudge the British the use of Indian troops in Burma, where they were fighting specifically to stop the Japanese invading India.)

          • cassander says:

            @james miller

            >From a relevant Quora question: “What I find amazing was that britain was capable of sending thousands and thousands and thousands of Indian men to ‘fight for the crown’ as far away as Europe… …but the idea of shipping grains to India was “impossible! too dangerous!!

            The Indian army fought largely in Southeast Asia. Getting people from India to New Guinea takes a hell of a lot less shipping than getting millions of tons of grain from America (there was no extra grain in the UK to send) to India.

          • John Schilling says:

            Getting people from India to New Guinea takes a hell of a lot less shipping than getting millions of tons of grain from America (there was no extra grain in the UK to send) to India.

            Not to mention that every person you ship from India to New Guinea (or Europe, or anywhere else) is about a ton of grain that you don’t have to ship to India. In a prolonged famine, shipping people out of the affected area is more efficient than shipping food in, even if you don’t have a particular need for the people somewhere else.

          • James Miller says:

            John Schilling, excellent point.

          • Virbie says:

            @James MIller

            What I find amazing was that britain was capable of sending thousands and thousands and thousands of Indian men to ‘fight for the crown’ as far away as Europe

            This is tangential, but it’s an interesting factoid: this is one of the few cases where the hyperbolic large number is a few orders of magnitude too small. The Indian army during WWII had 2.5 _million_ men by war’s end, the largest all-volunteer force in history.

    • Jiro says:

      That idea was not new with Scott.

      Also, it’s a cheat to quote things that became cliches because of World War II to claim that the war was unlikely because of all the cliches. And it’s questionable to point out the meaning of Stalin’s name when that wasn’t his birth name.

    • nancylebovitz says:

      I wonder if it’s too early to address the implausibility of more recent events.

      • James Miller says:

        Such as the rising importance in this election of Anthony Weiner’s … But seriously, could having the last name of Weiner have plausibly pushed Anthony into developing a self-destructive fixation on sending pictures of his?

        • Deiseach says:

          Speaking of whom, let’s all hope The Onion isn’t being a sober and realistic news source again 🙂

        • The original Mr. X says:

          But seriously, could having the last name of Weiner have plausibly pushed Anthony into developing a self-destructive fixation on sending pictures of his?

          I don’t know, but if I came across a TV show where a political power couple with a history of dodgy sex scandals was brought down by a guy called Weiner, I’d roll my eyes and change the channel.

          • Deiseach says:

            if I came across a TV show where a political power couple with a history of dodgy sex scandals was brought down by a guy called Weiner

            They could call it “Men Who Can’t Keep Their Trousers Zipped And The Presidents (And Really Close Good Friends and Advisors of the Presidents) Who Marry Them”.

            On second thoughts, probably “All the President’s Men (and Their Sex Scandals)” is a better title 🙂

  10. Mark says:

    Wikileaks twitter:

    https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/792853454792392705

    https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/37147

    Seems to me that she was likely asking about analytics, but they are definitely doing their best to stoke up the conspiracy theories.

    Assange’s revenge?

    • sflicht says:

      I wonder if major politicians have been explicitly strategizing about which (if any) of the major tech companies they should be courting with their policy positions.

      Traditionally (i.e. since the ’90s) the tech sector has been viewed as a unified bloc, in terms of political interests. But as many have observed, network effects and platform lock-in have at times created substantial splintering of interests. The 1990s browser wars and the Clinton DOJ’s anti-Microsoft crusades could be considered an example of this having an impact on policy.

      It wouldn’t be crazy to imagine the GOP and DNC trying to read the tea-leaves about whether FB/GOOG/AAPL/AMZN/MSFT will achieve platform dominance in AI in the near future. (Although I don’t think there’s any particular reason to believe that politicians have access to enough expertise to have particular good forecasts on this. Sure, HRC can call up Schmidt whenever she wants, but even if he thought GOOG was likely to be dominant, there’s no reason to believe he would necessarily tell her that.) One reason why they would care is that the big techcos really do care about different things (e.g., AMZN cares a lot of about interstate shipping and sales tax; FB and GOOG care a lot about international treaties with the EU, esp with respect to privacy stuff; AAPL cares a lot about international trade with China; …).

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I don’t get it. What’s the conspiracy theory interpretation of this?

      • Mark says:

        To me, the “plans” could be either:

        (a) Controlling information. Assange has written about google (and Eric Schmidt specifically) acting as an extension of the US state department. Things like Jared Cohen (formerly state department employee, after that, head of google ideas) influencing twitter to enable protests in Iran.. etc. etc.( https://wikileaks.org/google-is-not-what-it-seems/ )
        (b) Clinton working on an AI to become evil emperor of the world. She’s almost there.

  11. Jaskologist says:

    Happy Halloween! Here is a True Ghost Story by Rudyard Kipling.

  12. nancylebovitz says:

    I’ve seen a mention that Wells Fargo over-incentivized the creation of bank accounts because having lots of accounts made the company look more profitable. None of the usual search terms are working for me because anything about incentives just turns up the account creation scandal.

    Is it true that Wells Fargo was responding to metrics when it created that bad incentive program?

    • Corey says:

      My guess is that the metrics in question were internal ones, and helped various middle managers look good to their superiors.

      I’d be surprised if the account creation scandal actually made the company look more profitable (they waived the fees whenever customers complained, so it might have *cost* money overall, even if the scandal had never come to light).

    • Brad says:

      If you look at the earnings report prior to the scandal emerging:
      https://www08.wellsfargomedia.com/assets/pdf/about/press/2016/second-quarter-earnings-supplement.pdf

      There’s a slide labelled “Community Banking” that touts year over year growth of primary consumer checking customers and a retail banking cross-sell of 6.27 products per household.

      • nancylebovitz says:

        Thank you. Do you know whether this is something investors cared about, or whether it was something that Wells Fargo thought might sound cool?

        • Brad says:

          Those two things are kind-of the same. That presentation is put together solely for the benefit of investors and their proxies (i.e. the financial press). If some metric is in there it is because the company thinks investors will care.

          In a larger sense, my understanding, based mostly on reading some articles and not a rigorous look, is that WF more than other large banks relied on the consumer banking for much of its revenue, and for years now has touted to wall street its street level bankers ability to upsell customers as one of its competitive advantages.

  13. The_Other_Brad says:

    (It’s Halloween, so why not?)

    So I’m a conspiracy theorist, and I’m wondering what rationalists think about “occult” or “illuminati” symbols showing up in pop media (assuming this isn’t just pattern recognition gone nuts on the part of the conspiracy theorists.)

    While this isn’t the only symbol you can observe this about, the most popular or well-known one is the all-seeing eye / “illuminati pyramid”, which seems to show up in a lot of cartoons 1 2 3 4 5 almost to the point that it almost seems to show up both as a form of a symbol drop and as a commentary on such symbol drops, and that was before a show literally used an all-seeing pyramid as a character in their show.

    Google image search indicates this sorta thing is pretty common in movies in general
    to the point that an internet meme formed around people “spotting” the symbol in pop media. There’s no shortage of this.

    And that’s without talking about pop music, where the above symbol gets used a lot in conjunction with checkerboards and vague (or not-so-vague) allusions to occult writers, baphomet, or neopaganism, monarch butterflies, etc.

    It’s a little different, in my mind, from heavy metal groups which openly sported such paraphernalia in the 90s and earlier (i.e. thrash metal group Slayer, as a general example of what I’m talking about) because those guys were pretty openly wearing their heart on their sleeve; the ostensible occult symbol drops in popular media seem constructed more like Easter Eggs or Dog Whistles, something you’d only pick up on if you knew to look for them. All of this, of course, is tied to various conspiracy theories about A: the illuminati, sometimes presented as a powerful conglomerate of elites who practice occultism in private ala Skull and Bones, and B: theories about “Monarch” or MK Mind control, and theories about whether tv shows allude to the practice, if the shows are “triggers” for Manchurian candidates, whether a given celebrity or pop-star (or mass shooter) is such a candidate, etc.

    (And that’s without television shows and movies which seem to deliberately allude to these ideas as much as possible in their plots.)

    The rational explanation I have lined up is that it’s some combination of industry meme / in joke on the media-maker’s side, and confirmation bias on the viewer side. I suppose I’m wondering if I have any compelling reason not to go with that explanation as a defeater to all of the above.

    • beleester says:

      Additional theory: Writers see conspiracy theories, myths, and urban legends as a free idea bucket, so when they go looking for cool and creepy images, they steal the cool and creepy images of existing conspiracy theories.

      But I think pattern recognition gone mad is a factor too. I didn’t recognize all the shows you linked, but the example from Yu-gi-oh is more likely a reference to ancient Egypt (which features prominently in the show) than the Illuminati.

  14. nancylebovitz says:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2016/10/why-i-lied-about-my-rape.html

    Mostly about women lying about rapes that actually happened in the sense of diminishing what was done to them, but there’s also interesting material (do read the comments) about confusion caused by trauma and the effects of various drugs.

    In particular, there’s a claim which should be of interest here– that anti-anxiety meds can lower people’s ability to realize that they should protect themselves. I’m wondering whether anti-anxiety meds make people more vulnerable to scams.

    • Deiseach says:

      “You should always unquestioningly believe the victim” is a nice-sounding principle but it works out terribly in practice (not that the traditional defence tactic of “cast doubt on her account by portraying her as a drunken slut who is the town bicycle” is any better).

      We had a spectacular local example of that, including full-blown tabloid coverage with headlines making the most of a juicy religion-related sex abuse case.

      • nancylebovitz says:

        I don’t go with “you should unquestioningly believe the victim” nor with “you should unquestioningly ignore the (probably not really) victim). Paying attention to what might be the truth is much harder than any strategy which gives you an automatic choice, which is no doubt why paying attention isn’t espeically popular.

    • John Schilling says:

      Mostly about women lying about rapes that actually happened in the sense of diminishing what was done to them, but there’s also interesting material (do read the comments) about confusion caused by trauma and the effects of various drugs.

      Interesting, but heavily weighted towards the drugs least likely to be involved in such incidents. When we actually test for drug use, among self-declared rape victims who claim or believe themselves to have been drugged, ninety to ninety-five percent of the time the only drug present is good old-fashioned ethyl alcohol, willingly imbibed by the victim.

      When I reached the first of those comments, my own reaction was “…and this is another way women lie about rape”. Which was perhaps uncharitable, because in many cases I am sure it is simple ignorance. In many others, I am sure it is a way of transforming the narrative from “I drank too much” to “someone else drugged me”.

      And sometimes, 5-10% of the time, that’s what actually happened. So you’re right, we do want to know what drugs do that. But if the goal is to make this sort of thing happen less often, then the vast majority of the benefit will come when we figure out how to convince fourteen-year-old girls going to their first adult party complete with handsome flirtatious older guys that, no, you MUST NOT go about “downing shots of cheap vodka”. Or this is the sort of thing that WILL happen, and nobody will be able to fix it afterwards.

      I’m not sure how to do that. It doesn’t help that we pretend to have a strict twenty-one year drinking age in the United States, all but ensuring that most people will actually learn the art of drinking in decidedly suboptimal environments. It doesn’t help that Hollywood insists on depicting virtually every instance and level of intoxication as something charmingly entertaining if not positively sophisticated and in all cases leading to happy endings for everyone involved.

      It does help that people like the original poster are open and candid about their experiences. I’d rather a bit more of the followup commentary actually follow up on the alcohol issue rather than chasing distractions.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        The comments are an amusing distraction on Monday night. After all, the Cubs are down 3-2 and the Bears are probably going to be trounced: I need something to entertain myself.

        In this particular case, yeah, not getting crazy drunk as a 14 year old is a great start. This seems to be a problem among younger folks in general, and as I have aged, people handle alcohol and know their limits a lot better.

        I’ve read, but not sure how confident I am, that sexual assaults peak among college freshman and plummet after that.

        This…tends not to fly, because it comes across as victim shaming. And the people who are the real problem are the serial rapists who simply find vulnerable people to prey upon.

        • cassander says:

          >I’ve read, but not sure how confident I am, that sexual assaults peak among college freshman and plummet after that.

          I might believe they peak at 18-19 year olds, but I would be astounded if rapes were higher among college students than the population generally.

          • Loquat says:

            I’m pretty sure I’ve read that the rape rate for college students (at least, the typical 18-to-22-year-olds) is lower than the rape rate for non-college-students in the same age range.

          • Aapje says:

            BJS report with the data

            “For the period 1995–2013, females ages 18 to 24 not enrolled
            in a post-secondary school were 1.2 times more likely to
            experience rape and sexual assault victimization (7.6 per
            1,000), compared to students in the same age range (6.1 per
            1,000)”

      • shakeddown says:

        In practical terms, seems like it’s a question of bottlenecks: Are there enough predators that anyone drinking irresponsibly is going to be taken advantage of (while many predators find no one to go for), or are there frequently potential victims who get lucky because they didn’t run into any predators?

        Also, I don’t want to be mean, but I hope the cubs lose. They’ve got the longest streak in sports (with magic involved!). It’d be a shame to break it.

        • Aapje says:

          You are assuming a specific scenario (one person drunk, other person intentionally taking advantage), which is only one possibility. Reality is surely much more complex than that.

          • Spookykou says:

            The shakeddown model of sexual predation.

            A shoal of sardines(drunk people) versus, say sharks(low number of predators), where the vast majority of sardines get away, then just being a sardine is not as much of a problem as the sharks. Compared to a shoal of sardines(drunk people) versus, say a pod of dolphins(Ok the metaphor is breaking down here), where basically all of the shoal gets eaten, and so we really need to encourage people to just not be sardines.

            The Aapje model of sexual predation.

            A shoal of sardines(drunk people) are mostly fine in the deep antarctic currents, it is only when the plankton bloom in south Africa(situation that allows for predation) draws them up near the surface that the things starts to get dicey. As they move up the coast, if the currents work out just right, the shoal will get trapped between warm water and the shore, now they are in real danger (higher chance of predation). Sometimes they get trapped in shallow water, where only sharks can swim, and most of them are safe (situation where some predation happens.) However, sometimes they get trapped in a cove, or deeper water, and super pods of dolphins, gannets from above, and opportunistic sharks combine forces in a perfect storm of predation(in a perfect storm of predation), and almost all the sardines get taken.

          • Aapje says:

            @Spookykou

            Sex is not men taking things from women. That is a very destructive model.

            In reality, men and women have boundaries and hangups, then try to massage some of that away with alcohol & drugs, which often removes the boundaries and hangups way more than intended and also severely reduces the ability to communicate and create correct memories.

            Then after the fact, people take this mess and try to make sense of it. It’s a recipe for made-up memories, not because people are inherently evil, but because the human mind works that way (turning patchy information into a narrative).

            So your own model and your straw man model are both offensive to me, as they assume certain dumb things, like that the ‘sharks’ are not drunk, that they seek sex, while the sardines don’t, etc. Again, that is true in some cases, but many situations that get reported as rape are not like that.

            PS. Note that self-reported CDC data indicates a roughly equal level of men raped by women as vice versa, when using a gender neutral definition.

          • Spookykou says:

            @Aapje

            The implicit assumption is that the predators in the model are rapists and that when they succeed that is a rape, not ambiguously consensual or clearly consensual sex.

            There is no implication no intended implication anywhere in what I wrote about an assumption that sex is men taking things from women…

            The first model is a simplistic model based on what shakeddown said, about bottlenecks. It is overly simplistic and clearly not a good model. This however is not intended to be a ‘straw man’ as that phrase is normally used, it is intended to work exactly as my understanding of the ‘bottlenecks’ idea as presented by shakeddown should work. If I misunderstood their arguments, then by all means, correct me.

            The second model is intended to reflect the complicated realities that result in real rape which is not as simple as, drunk girls raped by men, but relies on a number of other factors.

            Most important

            Both models, I thought, are clearly flippant, playing off the imagery of shakeddowns original post,

            Are there enough predators that anyone drinking irresponsibly is going to be taken advantage of…or are there frequently potential victims who get lucky because they didn’t run into any predators?

            Which reads like something from a nature documentary.

            Although clearly this is a sensitive subject matter and my facetious handling of it was in poor form, apologies.

            Edit: For additional clarity, I used the phrase ‘Model of sexual predation’ to specify that it is a model of sexual predators, rapists. It is not a model of sex in general, hook up culture, or anything else. It is intended to model the populations of actual rapists, and victims, and neither model is actually a terribly good model, and I admit that the metaphor starts to break down almost immediately. For example, there are not more dolphins than sharks (as shakeddown’s bottle neck idea would call for) instead the dolphins are just better hunters.

          • shakeddown says:

            a) I very much approve of the nature documentary translation (can we turn all the conversations into nature documentary discussions?)

            b) I know I had a simplistic model, but the underlying insight is this: Say we want to decrease the total number of sexual assault involving alcohol (however you choose to define that): Is it more effective to convince potential victims to be more careful, or should we focus on trying to catch/warn off potential attackers? One of these approaches would probably be more effective than the others by an order of magnitude (the first is politically problematic since it can be accused of victim-blaming; this is weak evidence that it might be underused).

            If I understand correctly, your point is that there’s a third option, which is to stop the environment from becoming liable to sexual assaults. I didn’t think of this one when suggesting my simplistic models, and unlike the objections I did think of this seems like an important consideration. (Please tell me if I misunderstood).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            Are you referring to the NISVS when you say self-reported CDC data? Because according to Table 2.1, 18.3% combined of women report, in their lifetime, rape, that being either penetration by force, attempted penetration by force, or drug/alcohol facilitated penetration (however, it just defines that as “drunk, high, drugged, or passed out” – the legal standard for consent being impossible based on intoxication, short of someone being passed out, tends to be quite high) (and I’m assuming that the combined % is lower due than the individual things added up due to cases where there’s alcohol and force, etc). Under non-rape sexual violence, 13% report lifetime incidence of sexual coercion, and 27.2% report lifetime incidence of unwanted sexual contact.

            For men (Table 2.2) they report 1.4% combined rape. Under non-rape sexual violence 4.8% report “made to penetrate” (no number is given for women, and this is not considered rape by the CDC and I believe is generally not by law), 6% report coercion, and 11.7% report unwanted sexual contact.

            So, where are you getting the idea that it’s equal from? By those numbers, if we count “made to penetrate” as rape (which I think we should), just over 6% of men report being raped at some point in their lifetime, while the number is just over 18% for women. Thus, rape victims are 3:1 female:male, before even considering the perpetrator.

            While the statistic that 25% of rape victims are men is shocking due to being highly counterintuitive as a result of our social programming, a man is still considerably less likely to be a victim of rape than a woman.

          • Spookykou says:

            @shakeddown

            Right on all points.

            I generally think opportunity is a major contributing factor, not just in crime, but in adultery, cheating on my diet, and countless other failing of human will power.

            The only possible ‘correction’, is that I assumed this was what Aapje was saying as well, when they spoke of the complexity of the real situation.

            It seems they were mostly talking about the complexity of identifying what is and is not actual rape, and other related hook up, drinking, and sex culture issues that muddy the waters.

          • DrBeat says:

            @dndnrsn:

            “Made to penetrate” not being counted as rape is because of sexism, entirely because of sexism, only because of sexism, and serves no purpose other than sexism. You cannot say “Well, that doesn’t count, because most places are sexist and don’t count it due to their sexism and only due to their sexism, so that makes it a valid analysis.”

            And the questions asked about the most recent period indicate that men and women were raped int he same numbers, when youa re not being an overt and malicious sexist and discounting “made to penetrate” as not being rape due to your overt and malicious sexism and for no reason other than overt and malicious sexism. It is absolutely universally agreed upon by everyone who does polling of the public for incidents that happened int he past who are not currently looking at that specific chart that rates of recall are more accurate the more recent the period asked about is, and rates of recall over lifetimes are worthless and to be disregarded.

            Men are known to recall sexual crimes against them less frequently when they are further in the past. Like, when asking people who are incontrovertibly known to have been sexually abused as children “were you ever sexually abused”? women answer “yes” about 60% of the time and men answer “yes” about 16% of the time.

            That chart, the one that makes people who are open and malicious sexists because they live in a society that says open and malicious sexism is the only way to be a good person forget that rates of recall are inaccurate the further back the recalled event is, says that when you just ask about the most recent year — the period it measures for which its responses will be the most accurate — men are raped as often as women.

            The popular consensus that women are at greater risk of rape than men is due to open and malicious sexism and nothing else. Everyone who appears to have evidence to support it is engaging in open and malicious sexism that is very, very easy to verify, that would and should invalidate their evidence because it is either strategically-concealed truth or open lies. But people care so little about the well-being of men as men that they can see these things and still be incapable of noticing them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DrBeat:

            Where did I say I didn’t consider “made to penetrate” rape? I explicitly stated that I think it should be counted as rape.

          • Spookykou says:

            @DrBeat

            I think you might be tilting at windmills.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            The popular consensus that women are at greater risk of rape than men is due to open and malicious sexism and nothing else.

            Alternative hypothesis: Men (in general, not trying to erase any particular experience here), either for learned or natural reasons, are less affected by rape (under this definition) than women. So it just seems like a lesser problem.

          • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

            “That is a very destructive model”

            The only models that are correct are the ones that are flowers and rainbows. We know this to be true because if this were not the case, then we would not live in a just world.

            (Sex per se being defined as men taking things from women is wrong, but not because it’s a destructive model)

          • Aapje says:

            @shakeddown

            Yes, that is my point. There is a lot of focus on stranger rape, even though the data strongly suggests that this is only a fraction of rape cases. The most preventable cases (where neither party wanted a violation to happen, but it still did) are not like that.

            @dndnrsn

            I consider ‘lifetime’ data to be generally unreliable, as recollections over these long periods are enormously influenced by culture, media exposure, whether it was reported, etc, etc. There is most likely a major gendered difference in recollections for these reasons. In one report, the CDC had zero ‘made to penetrate’ cases for lifetime and 1.something percent for the preceding year. Obviously that is logically impossible, as the latter is a subset of the former. Given my bias against ‘lifetime’ data, I then choose to believe the latter. Obviously, I would prefer data by better sources, but the CDC is sadly the least objectionable source at this point.

            Traditional rape law defines rape as something that can only happen to women, which is still the law in the UK. Slightly less sexist laws remove the explicit mention of gender, but ‘fix’ this by defining rape as penetration. As women’s genitals are penetrated during coitus and men’s genitals are enveloped, this defines away rapes where coitus happened by a women without consent against the man, while the opposite does count. I consider it obviously sexist when forcing sex on a sleeping man is not considered rape, while the opposite is considered to be that. I see no distinction between these cases, aside from (rather sexist) ideas that men are biologically unaffected by rape (a myth that ought to have been dispelled by the many men who sought justice against the Catholic church after decades, as they obviously did get affected enough by being violated to not forget it after such a period).

            Anyway, I think that it is fair to compare the female rape statistics with the ‘made to penetrate’ statistics, as these are the most similar categories, IMO. These figures are remarkably similar, which actually matches other data that suggests that men are not inherently more violent or sexually ‘assaulty,’ but that the differences in report rates to the police are in no small part shaped by cultural views on male and female gender roles. For example, we also know that women reported rapes much less during the 50’s in the West and report much less in very patriarchal countries (like in the Middle East). The former changed drastically when feminism changed the view on violence against women. A similar change has not happened for men, so common sense suggests that men would report much more if the views on male victims of rape by women changed drastically.

            @Whatever Happened To Anonymous

            A fair argument can be made that people strongly let their feelings be defined by what is socially acceptable. I actually consider it harmful for women that many believe that violated women must suffer from horrible PTSS and can never recover from the experience. Some victims of what legally is rape don’t consider the experience to be damaging at all, some do. Some experience PTSS, some don’t. Some fully recover, some always keep having problems.

            I believe that the best way to approach this is allow the victim to define her own experience and gently seek to reduce the after affects, rather than increase them, as we now often seem to do when women are victims.

            For men, we do the exact opposite and very harshly push them towards not considering themselves victims, which is also very unfair and damaging. I’ve heard stories where men were not able to comprehend that they were being raped as it happened, as their gender programming made them feel that they were supposed to be happy with it, while their actual feelings were the opposite; which they then could only sort out later. Then they felt unable to seek justice, as they felt they wouldn’t be believed and their friends couldn’t offer emotional support as they couldn’t comprehend it.

            IMO, we ought to find a middle ground for both men and women, where we respect their feelings and don’t assume that women are automatically damaged or that men ought to be happy to get sex no matter what.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            Do you or anyone else have anything exploring the lifetime vs last-year discrepancies for both sexes?

            Possible partial explanation: people who are raped or otherwise sexually assaulted more than once will be answering “yes” once to the former, “yes” multiple times to the latter.

          • Artificirius says:

            Just spitballing here, but there are anumber of possible factors.

            – As mentioned above, men not remembering(/repressing/not mentioning) sexual assault that occured in the past.
            – Data collection issues. Changing definitions, legally, academically and socially leading to differences in outcomes. Go back how ever many decades, and it wasn’t rape if it happened in a marriage, rape was explicitly defined as being something done to a woman/by a man, etc. (The latter has not gone away in modern times.)
            -Somewhat touched on in the first point, but even if a man is taken advantage of, due to drunkenness, threats, etc, he may feel socially pressured to assume he wanted it. Therefore indicating negative.

            Expanding a bit on what Dr.Beat said, in the 2010 NISCS, near equal numbers of men and women reported made to penetrate/forced penetration, respectively. Conversely, the lifetime incidences were wildly skewed towards female victims.

            Now, unless women just got many times more rapey in the past few years or so, (unlikely) then I think there is two broad categories the explanation falls into. A) The lifetime difference is generally due to a change in definitions and social awareness, or B) the lifetime difference reflects the decline of M-F rape down to the F-M levels.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            There is almost certainly a confluence of factors involved, which means that you have to examine different explanations.

            One issue with rape/sexual assault research is that people report far lower figures if you ask them whether they’ve been raped/assaulted vs giving them a definition of these crimes and asking them if they experienced that. This is true for men and women, but more for men. This suggests that men have higher thresholds than women. This same higher threshold has been found in many studies, where men are less likely to report being in pain, bothered, offended, etc. Of course, the question is whether the difference is biological and/or cultural. The evidence suggests the latter, as animal studies on pain thresholds don’t show a clear gender difference, while human studies do.

            In general, men are clearly socialized to be much more self-reliant, which is visible in both the reluctance of men to seek (mental or physical health) help; as well as the way the media clearly prioritizes female victims (it’s very common for the media to talk about ‘people’ when men are victims, yet specifically names the number of women and children who are victims). There are also major and obvious gender differences in the quality and quality of help that the government and private parties provide (where women always get the better deal), which sends a clear message that women they deserve more and better help than men. I think that feeling victimized is correlated with the help that you can expect for claiming that. If no (real) help is coming, adopting the identity of ‘victim’ is useless.

            A major factor in reporting for victims seems to be that there is a huge threshold for the first accusation. Most mass-rape cases, like the Bill Cosby or Jimmy Saville cases involved one victim getting publicity, followed by a mass of others. This strongly suggests that media/social approval is a huge factor. So I think that it is reasonable to assume that a lack of female-on-male rape cases in the media depresses the willingness to report.

            Anyway, a major issue is that there is a chicken and egg problem: there is little research on men raped by women because it is not perceived to be a problem and it is not perceived to be a problem due to a lack of research. Furthermore, the researchers are often feminists, who tend to have dogma that makes them strongly biased against this problem existing (on domestic violence, a frustrated researcher actually wrote a paper detailing the many ways that DV research was compromised by these biases).

            However, the anecdotal stories I see indicate various issues that mimic the issues for women that were especially prevalent in the past: sexist laws, an inability by the police to empathize for many rape scenarios, negative judgement by friends/family, perpetrators not understanding that they need (more) consent (than merely being allowed one thing, like sleeping over), etc. As I said before, we’ve seen a huge increase in willingness for women to report as we’ve tried to address these things. Similarly, we’ve seen a huge quantity of male victims of religious institutions come forward after they (finally) saw their experience being validated by others. This information, combined with data like the CDC study, suggests that there is a large pool of ‘silent victims’ who will speak out if we address the various factors highlighted by me.

        • John Schilling says:

          It seems almost self-evident that rapist-level predation is rare enough that a drunken teenage girl will likely make it through an average party unmolested, but common enough that an adolescence’s worth of drunken parties is a very risky proposition. The confounding factor is the response of the victim pool.

          Some women, e.g. the OP in Nancy’s linked article, will drop out of the dating, or at least drunken-partying, pool after the first rape. Others will even more sensibly drop out at the first rape story from a friend (well, third or fourth maybe). But some women report the opposite, becoming highly and indiscriminately promiscuous as the only way they know to validate their broken self-esteem. And some women come into the culture promiscuous enough that rape never comes into the question; by the time they are that drunk they have already freely consented to someone’s proposition.

          Possibly the equilibrium state for “hookup culture” is that enough women are raped by the minority of predatory males that the promiscuous-female population (including but not limited to promiscuous-because-raped) is sufficient to satisfy the sexual desires of the male population. Possibly we should design a less-dysfunctional hookup culture but, you know.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Also, I don’t want to be mean, but I hope the cubs lose. They’ve got the longest streak in sports (with magic involved!). It’d be a shame to break it.

          As a younger Cubs fan, I can empathize with that. It’s a weird feeling knowing that when the Cubs finish their comeback, my kids will grow up with a qualitatively different Cubs than I, my parents, and my grandparents did.

          What you have to remember though is that there are a couple entire generations of fans who have lived and died without ever seeing their team win it all. There’s an awful lot of “win it for those who came before” (and, unstated, those who don’t have time to wait another 71 years for another go round) sentiment going around. See also: “Just one before I die”

          • hlynkacg says:

            As a Boston fan who grew up with the Curse of the Bambino I sympathize.

            My suggestion? Save a couple of “throw back” jerseys so if they do win you can show the inevitable bandwagon jumpers that you put your time in.

          • shakeddown says:

            There was a Dresden files story where the Chicago Cubs hire him to try breaking the curse. It turns out the curse was actually cast by the goat (who is actually a weird fairy-goat-thing). His explanation is that while he first cursed them because he was mad, he kept the curse going to protect them from the real curse of baseball, ridiculous overcommercialization in pursuit of profits; he wanted to protect the “have a pleasant afternoon with a beer in the stands” baseball the underdog Cubs stand for.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            That’s pretty awesome, actually. Knew I liked Butcher! Hoping the fairy-goat-thing lets us have this one tonight, then we can go back to the old ways for a while.

            @hlynkacg – was there much change in the team atmosphere in the seasons after they broke the curse? Like were folks content with their win for a while, or does it lead to “we should win every year!” bandwagoning? (thanks for Lester, btw)

      • Corey says:

        The bits of the linked articles I could read mentioned the possibility of ethanol being the drink-spiking agent, it would be interesting to see how the BACs compare with self-reported amount of drinking. Of course people could be wrong or misleading in their reports of how much they drank, or be socially-engineered (say, convince her she’s only had 3 drinks when she’s had 5…)

        • DrBeat says:

          I think it’s just another example of female hypoagency and male hyperagency that, when presented with people claiming to have been drugged because they swear they didn’t drink that much but test positive only for alcohol, you conclude that because these people are women, they must have been drugged or tricked by the malicious, threatening agency of men.

          Were you not in a situation where you knew you were only talking about women, and you were presented with a group of people claiming to have been drugged because they swear they didn’t drink that much but test positive only for alcohol, you would instantly and correctly judge them as having actually drunk that much and either lost track of it themselves or be lying to themselves about it. You would be able to make this judgment based on the observed behavior of every single gathering of human beings at which alcohol is being served you have ever seen in your entire life. You would be one hundred percent correct in this judgment and nobody would dispute your assessment.

          But once you know that they are women, Gender Narrative takes over. You have to downplay their agency and replace it with the threatening, malicious agency of men. You cannot stop yourself. You cannot even notice you are doing it. Assuming that women who are in an upsetting state MUST be due to the maliciously employed agency of men working in perfect secrecy to make something APPEAR as though a woman had agency when really she did not is as natural to you as breathing.

          It will never, ever, ever end.

  15. anthonyvicari says:

    Questions I thought of when reading “The Heart Has Its Reasons That Reason Knows Not Of” –

    Has anyone done research on which parent the partners/spouses of gay children of mixed race or adoptive parents look like? Meaning, if there is imprinting going on, is it influenced by the gender the child will later be attracted to? Also, for bisexual children of mixed race couples, are preferences in one gender derived more from the relevant parent, and vice versa? What about children of gay couples not attracted to the parents’ gender?

  16. onyomi says:

    In the last OT I was talking about how ancaps should be free to try ancap somewhere currently relatively isolated and uninhabited, on the theory that even if it’s a huge disaster, it would not likely have much effect on anyone who didn’t chose to go there. The topic of utopian communities came up, causing me to read up on them a bit, and the following thought occurred to me: many of these utopian communities are based on ideas I don’t agree with on philosophical or practical grounds: socialism, for example. Yet, I am so, so much happier that these people were free to go off somewhere uninhabited and just try whatever idea they had rather than, e. g. leading a revolution of the proletariat and forcing their ideas down everyone else’s throat.

    Therefore, besides having the benefit of actually allowing options for people who may want to try a weird or new form of social or political organization, a “right to try” with respect to such things seems to have the added benefit of allowing radical ideas which may well prove disastrous to be tried somewhere they don’t hurt people who don’t disagree with them.

    We’ve talked about a “right to try” for terminal patients trying experimental drugs; why not a “right to try” for people terminally dissatisfied with the political status quo to experiment with new forms of social and political organization? Not only for the sake of the radicals, but also for the sake of the moderates who’d rather the radicals try their weird ideas somewhere far away?

    • Spookykou says:

      Is there any room for other people to try and follow the ‘Principality of Sealand’ example, I have no idea how many abandoned man made structures are just sitting out in the oceans. I also think that a lot of the atolls in Kiribati and similar nations are largely abandoned, those countries are generally so poor you might be able to rent them, or maybe try and work out a cross promotion deal. Agree to talk about the dangers of global warming for island nations to all the news sites that want to interview the people testing radical economic policies on a remote atoll.

      • onyomi says:

        This is sort of what the idea of “charter cities” is about, though that has frustratingly run into a lot of, imo, disingenuous criticism about “neo-colonialism,” etc.

        There is seasteading, but I personally find that a little depressing: there’s still tons and tons of land on the Earth which, while, perhaps not ideal, is still habitable, uninhabited, and not very close to any current habitation of significance. I don’t think people wanting to do their own thing should be forced literally to move onto the ocean so long as the population of Earth is still <100 billion or so.

        Seasteading does offer the hypothetical benefit of: if you don't like your neighbors, you can just unmoor from them and float somewhere else, though.

        • Corey says:

          It seems seasteading would be pessimal for ancaps and libertarians in particular. Living on the sea is expensive and dangerous, so high taxes and strict regulation would be necessary.

        • Aapje says:

          @onyomi

          Those uninhabited lands are either very hostile to life (Sahara) or important nature reserves where other people don’t necessarily want ancaps to do their thing (like killing the wildlife).

          Of course, you could do the experiment on a relatively small scale, but it seems to me that ancap can only work in sparsely populated areas.

          • Spookykou says:

            Atolls are not exactly hostile to life in the same way that just being outside too long in the Sahara will kill you, their main problem is a low carrying capacity, but I assume ancapistan is allowed to engage in trade with foreign nations, so they don’t have to grow their own food. Honestly the model seems to flip flop around between a bunch of farmers, and a bunch of fortune 500 companies, so I guess it depends a lot on what you envision.

          • Aapje says:

            They still need to produce something to do trade, unless they live of the money people bring in. It seems a bit like cheating if the inhabitants are a bunch of millionaires who import everything they need and lock themselves up in huge mansions with defense robots (by the time they get this, the robots will be here).

            I’d require a decent trade balance to call it a success.

          • onyomi says:

            I’ve ridden through, on cars and trains, and looked down on, from planes, much of Asia and North America, and I sure have seen a lot of land which was not a city, not a town, not a cruel, inhospitable desert or mountain, not an oil field or wind farm, nor a wildlife preserve or national park.

            In the past, human habitation was heavily limited by climate, transportation, and the demands of farming. Most of these limits are much, much weaker now.

          • Aapje says:

            @onyomi

            Most of that was farmland, surely. Often shitty farmland, farmed extensively, but still, probably used by actual people.

            For example, one practice is to move around permanently with cattle that grazes all over. Another practice is to ‘slash-and-burn’ at one place, tilling the land until it is depleted, then moving on. In both cases, the land that the farmers are not currently farming is not actually unused, but passively recovering for later reuse.

          • onyomi says:

            I’m sure a lot of it is that, but not all of it. The point being that there is a lot of land which, with modern technology, could be inhabited by people, but which no one currently cares about except as a piece of sovereign territory. Within that proportion there is probably a much smaller proportion that is not of much strategic importance to any nation state, either, though those will tend to be more remote (though maybe that is better for an ancap experiment because it would mean less free riding on the military of an existing state).

            I’m saying, even if you apply all these criteria:

            Not currently inhabited
            Not extraordinarily harsh/inherently difficult to get to (some place to which no road currently exists, but to which a road could be built without extraordinary difficulty is okay)
            Not currently being used for farming (or resting in preparation for farming), mining, drilling, nature preservation, national parks, etc.
            Not known to be especially rich in any natural resources
            Not of much strategic importance to any nation state

            I still think you’d have a pretty decent collection of bits and pieces of various sovereign territories around the world. If the above excludes 99.9% of all land in the world, for example, it would still leave 150,000 square miles.

          • John Schilling says:

            I’m sure a lot of it is that, but not all of it. The point being that there is a lot of land which, with modern technology, could be inhabited by people,

            You may be counting on “modern technology” to do an awful lot of the heavy lifting here, with implications regarding the amount of trade you’re going to need with the industrialized world and the sort of reassurances you will need to provide that you aren’t actually serving as a drug-trafficking and money-laundering hub.

            If you’re thinking of a more organic approach to Ancapistan, how much of this allegedly underutilized land comes with fresh water? And be careful about counting on rivers that flow down into civilized lands in your planning; water rights are something the governed and ungoverned alike have been known to fight quite fiercely over.

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            The thing being farmed might not have been edible, either.

            For example, travel through rural Finland, and you’ll see lots of lots of most boring, uninhabited forests ever, with scarcely any population around, at least by Central European standards.

            The woods are boring for a reason, because they really are not forest. They are farmed trees, owned by someone. Around which are often lots of very precious sources of fresh water, so all industrial activities near them often regulated for a reason. And I sure as hell don’t want any ancaps around to mess with any of that, no sir: even currently, the regular regulations seem not to be enough because people will go crazy if there’s smallest hint of precious minerals.

    • Brad says:

      I’m not sure exactly what this would amount to. While there’s some carrot and stick pressure on nation-states pushing them towards liberal-democracy, there’s no hard and fast authority forcing them to be so. In general, as long as they aren’t being too terrible a neighbor, and often even if they are, peoples are permitted to organize themselves however they like.

      If next year somehow the people of Iceland spontaneously decided they wanted to live in an Ancap society, I wouldn’t expect a foreign invasion to force them to put a government back in place.

      Do you mean groups of people should be able to stake out territory within an existing nation-state, claim it is uninhabited, and start a new sovereignty?

      • onyomi says:

        “Do you mean groups of people should be able to stake out territory within an existing nation-state, claim it is uninhabited, and start a new sovereignty?”

        Yes. Or that existing nation states designate some uninhabited areas within their borders as not subject to the law (or protection) of any existing government (that is, the US government wouldn’t control or protect it, but also stop, say, Russia from claiming it). The reason I kept bringing up Wyoming in the previous thread is because it’s the least densely populated in the lower 48, so there’s plenty of totally uninhabited space there where no government presence is needed or necessary right now, yet there would also be no practical worry about a foreign country trying to invade the anarchist conclave, since they’d have to intrude so heavily on US airspace to do so.

        Really, I think people should already be able to do this: the US government’s claim to the land under the White House seems pretty firm. It’s claim to uninhabited parts of Alaska a lot less so.

        • Brad says:

          Yes. Or that existing nation states designate some uninhabited areas within their borders as not subject to the law (or protection) of any existing government (that is, the US government wouldn’t control or protect it, but also stop, say, Russia from claiming it).

          Wouldn’t they be free-riding on the defense forces of the host nation?

          Also, what about externalities? Consider “empty” territory which is upstream of heavily inhabited territory. If pollution of that river can’t be prevented on a sovereign to governed basis *or* a sovereign to sovereign basis how can it be prevented at all?

          I think it’d just prefer some sort of right of exit to this internal parasite model.

          Really, I think people should already be able to do this: the US government’s claim to the land under the White House seems pretty firm. It’s claim to uninhabited parts of Alaska a lot less so.

          This seems to conflate land ownership with sovereignty. Intentional?

          • onyomi says:

            “Wouldn’t they be free-riding on the defense forces of the host nation?”

            I knew this would come up. But really it’s impossible to avoid doing so, and it’s as much about the US wanting to protect the rest of the US as about wanting to protect that space in particular. Having a piece of Russia in the middle of Wyoming would be bad for the safety of the rest of the US. And it’s not just uninhabited Wyoming who free rides on the US military.

            “This seems to conflate land ownership with sovereignty. Intentional?”

            Well, I have a problem with the whole notion of “sovereignty.” It seems to me insufficiently justified. Of course, most people think it is: a compromise might be governments relinquishing sovereignty over small, contained areas deemed acceptable security risks.

            Incidentally, related to the old thread and though this may surprise some, given my doctrinaire, libertarian views on property in general, my personal view on land ownership tends toward being a bit like X-Men movies: you have to make one every once in a while or you lose the exclusive rights to it (by which I mean, if you “own” a piece of land but never go there or do anything with it (including setting it aside for a nature preserve or what have you), I think at a certain point others who want to do something with it start to have a better claim.

          • Spookykou says:

            Wouldn’t they be free-riding on the defense forces of the host nation?

            America allows the creation of an ancap nation in Wyoming, waits a few months and send in the military to seize all assets and claim that section of Wyoming the sovereign territory of the United States.

            Do UN regulations on aggressive wars extend to non-countries?

          • Brad says:

            Having a piece of Russia in the middle of Wyoming would be bad for the safety of the rest of the US.

            I think it quite likely that having a piece of Anarcostan in the middle of Wyoming would also be bad for the safety of the rest of the US.

            I can’t see any reason I, as a citizen of the United States, would agree to this idea. It seems like all downside.

          • onyomi says:

            “America allows the creation of an ancap nation in Wyoming, waits a few months and send in the military to seize all assets and claim that section of Wyoming the sovereign territory of the United States.”

            This is where the “charter” part comes in with the charter cities. Generally some commitment is made not to interfere with the place for a set number of years.

            In order to work, the US government would have to make some sort of credible public commitment to e. g. not attempt to assert sovereignty for at least 50 years, or what have you. Of course, they might come up with some excuse later, but there are ways to make it harder for them to do so without looking bad.

          • onyomi says:

            “I can’t see any reason I, as a citizen of the United States, would agree to this idea. It seems like all downside.”

            You might not say that after your vacation to Anarcostan?

            Or when your business can get the stuff they used to have made in Vietnam made cheaper and better in Anarcostan?

          • Brad says:

            You might not say that after your vacation to Anarcostan?

            Or when your business can get the stuff they used to have made in Vietnam made cheaper and better in Anarcostan?

            What’s the advantage to pre-committing to let anyone do whatever they want with large chunks of my territory, which I’m obliged to defend but whose inhabitants have no corresponding obligations to me, versus just setting up a special economic zone with laws set up to enable cheap manufacturing? Or a morality vacation zone with no prostitution, drug, or gambling laws?

            This doesn’t read like an argument from public reason. It reads like a proffered compromise from ancap positions, but we on the non-ancap side have no reason to want to compromise.

          • onyomi says:

            No need for “large chunks.” A small chunk would do.

            Designating some sorts of special economic zones would not satisfy me as much as what I’m suggesting, but it would still be a big step in the right direction.

          • Spookykou says:

            Vacation in Anarcostan sounds like a dangerous proposition, anyone who wants to murder their spouse is going to be all over that.

          • onyomi says:

            I would say that the first people who move to Anarcostan would need to be very brave. But it might very well not be long before it’s safer than most American cities. Most private streets are safer than public streets, for example.

          • Spookykou says:

            Normally there is no reason to be on private streets, in Anarcostan all streets are private streets, assuming you get high foot traffic areas though, that particular private street should be similar to our public streets.

            The vacation joke, I think if a wife is murdered then more often than not her husband did it. Unlike most other intended murder victims, couples vacation together, so any spouse that wants to kill their SO takes a vacation to Anarcostan.

          • onyomi says:

            “Unlike most other intended murder victims, couples vacation together, so any spouse that wants to kill their SO takes a vacation to Anarcostan.”

            I’ve read some people currently take vacations to India for this purpose. One arranges in advance to get “mugged” or something and tragedy strikes.

          • Spookykou says:

            India is so perfect for that, wonderful sights and history, first class hotels, and a massive population of the desperately poor.

          • John Schilling says:

            I didn’t say anything about “large chunks.” A small chunk would do.

            A small chunk would do just fine for the purposes of Russia, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Los Zetas, et al, as well. The very substantial cost and risk the US (or any other) government would be signing up for in this hypothetical, will essentially be paid in full with the first hectare transferred to the narcoterrrorists or whomever.

            And you still haven’t explained what the government gets out of this deal that it can’t get just as well from a sovereign enterprise zone.

          • Brad says:

            What’s the advantage to pre-committing to let anyone do whatever they want with large chunks of my territory, which I’m obliged to defend but whose inhabitants have no corresponding obligations to me, versus just setting up a special economic zone with laws set up to enable cheap manufacturing? Or a morality vacation zone with no prostitution, drug, or gambling laws?

            Designating some sorts of special economic zones would not satisfy me as much as what I’m suggesting, but it would still be a big step in the right direction.

            Doesn’t that concede the point I was making? If what you really want is a special kind of law free enclave isn’t it an easier task to argue for that (though still far from easy!) than to try to argue for this ‘anyone can start any sort of country anywhere that is inhabited’ idea?

            As objectionable as I might find Anarcostan, I could think of far worse. John’s ISIS hypo for example. Arguing for the general case means defending all those worse ideas too.

            On a completely separate note, what about Antarctica. That looks available to me.

          • onyomi says:

            “On a completely separate note, what about Antarctica. That looks available to me.”

            Antarctica is claimed* by seven nations in some kind of pie-like fashion, and some adventurous people do move there.

            *I had thought it was wholly claimed, but apparently one of the most remote parts is not. But moving to Marie Byrd Island is probably about as convenient as Seasteading, if not significantly less so.

          • Brad says:

            As objectionable as I might find Anarcostan, I could think of far worse. John’s ISIS hypo for example. Arguing for the general case means defending all those worse ideas too.

            Quoting myself, now that I think about it more I’m not sure what prevents Anarcostan from becoming ISIS-stan. I guess we just have to hope the private security forces / gangsters / whatever have the wherewithal to keep ISIS from taking over. Unless that too is expected to be one of the services that are supposed to be provided by the host nation gratis.

          • Deiseach says:

            Or when your business can get the stuff they used to have made in Vietnam made cheaper and better in Anarcostan?

            That presumes a small bunch of people on a few hundred acres in Wyoming can compete with an established industrialised nation. Maybe Aunt Betty turns out much nicer-tasting pasta sauce from her kitchen in batches of a gallon a time, but I need several hundred gallons of pasta sauce for my catering firm so sorry, Aunt Betty, I’m buying the mass-produced factory stuff.

          • Aapje says:

            @onyomi

            On one hand, I’d love for my theory about the failure of ancap to be proven true (which I’m pretty confident will happen), but on the other hand, I just see this devolving in a conflict with the US about limits on that freedom.

            I don’t see you being able to convince a decent number of people to live a life in isolation (and thus self-sustenance) in one of the shitty places that other people would be willing to give you. The people who ancap appeals to are simply too used to ‘the good life.’

            So your state can’t really function without trade, internet access, travel and such, but to have those things, you need to accept international rules. Before long, an ancap person will run an international pedo/drugs/gun site and the US government will demand it shut down. Then either the ancappers will concede, so their state will no longer truly be ancap or they will end up being cut off from the internet. The same will happen for trade.

            Ultimately, the desire to live in anarchy is destined to run up against what the outside world considers acceptable. They are not going to cave. So you’ll just end up with embittered ancappers complaining how they weren’t able to do ancap properly and some of them will then probably become terrorists or something like that.

          • “I don’t see you being able to convince a decent number of people to live a life in isolation (and thus self-sustenance) in one of the shitty places that other people would be willing to give you.”

            I don’t think engaging in trade with other people requires the sort of international agreements you assume. The US engaged in trade with Taiwan back when Taiwan didn’t recognize copyright. The rest of the world traded with the U.S. somewhat farther back when the U.S. didn’t recognize copyright. Most of the world continues to trade with the countries that are currently the main sources of illegal drugs.

            So far as “shitty places,” you might consider the history of Hong Kong as some evidence on the relative significance of natural resources vs institutions. Quite a long time ago, when overpopulation played the same role in public discourse that AGW does now, I calculated population densities for different countries. The most densely populated country in the world, by a considerable margin, was Singapore. Hong Kong, not a country, had a population density about ten times as high. It imported water. It had an inflow of Chinese refugees.

            It wasn’t anarchy, but it was closer to laissez-faire than almost any other polity in the world and it had free trade with the world. Some decades back, its per capita income passed that of Britain.

          • John Schilling says:

            I don’t think engaging in trade with other people requires the sort of international agreements you assume. The US engaged in trade with Taiwan back when Taiwan didn’t recognize copyright. The rest of the world traded with the U.S. somewhat farther back when the U.S. didn’t recognize copyright.

            When did the United States ever not recognize copyright? It’s spelled out right in the Constitution, and the very first US congress passed the Copyright Act of 1790 in its first term. Under the Articles of Confederation, copyright was handled by the states, and before that by the Crown.

            It is true that, for a long period, the details of US (and I expect also Taiwanese) copyright law differed from those in e.g. Europe. But 90% of the economic value of copyright comes from the parts that essentially everyone agrees on – the primary author or his assignee gets to demand royalties for the first twenty years or so – and nobody is going to engage in a trade war between the marginal differences in how ancient mostly-forgotten copyrights are handled.

          • dragnubbit says:

            Without special pleadings and the ability to freeload for security, there is no ancap experiment except in areas that are already stateless hellholes (the two words being essentially synonomous).

            Complaints that ‘it has never been tried’ are very disingenuous. Every area that has had a power vacuum was an ancap experiment. Khan dies 1000 miles away – experiment! Black death – experiment! Protracted civil war – experiment! Frontier area – experiment! Somehow the state keeps coming out on top for providing a stable society where property investment can be protected from marauders and parasites and resources in common can be kept from despoilment or monopoly.

          • onyomi says:

            “Every area that has had a power vacuum was an ancap experiment.”

            Burning down the church doesn’t turn everyone into an atheist.

          • BBA says:

            @John Schilling: For much of the 19th century (possibly even into the 20th?) the US did not recognize copyrights in foreign publications. I’m aware that Gilbert and Sullivan were unable to prevent unauthorized American productions of HMS Pinafore and as a result they had The Pirates of Penzance debut in New York to secure the American copyright before it opened in London.

          • Aapje says:

            Back then, copyright was considered much less important than today, IMO. I think that the other countries considered it semi-acceptable, as long as the books were not sold illegally back in Europe and there was not a big influx of American books into Europe.

            Over time, America created more things themselves and then they accepted copyright (and other IP rules) out of self-interest.

            BTW, we see more or less the same in China, which also does’t respect IP that much, but will undoubtedly change their tune the more they invent (rather than copy) themselves.

          • “Every area that has had a power vacuum was an ancap experiment.”

            No more than it was an experiment in government. Anarcho-capitalism describes a particular sort of stateless society, not any society without a government. It could arise in a power vacuum–as could a state.

            There have been lots of real world examples of stateless societies with property rights and trade–the Nuer, Somaliland, Commanche. James Scott argues that large parts of South-east Asia were stateless through most of the past two thousand years (The Art of Not Being Governed). None was a modern society or had as high a level of division of labor in rights enforcement as modern supporters of A-C imagine, but they functioned for extended periods of time.

          • Aapje says:

            Isn’t the claim that it is closer to people’s natural preferences than other systems and that it is a stable system? The combination of both would suggest that some groups would automatically start practicing it in a power vacuum and that other people would then go along with it, rather than break it up.

        • John Schilling says:

          Yes. Or that existing nation states designate some uninhabited areas within their borders as not subject to the law (or protection) of any existing government (that is, the US government wouldn’t control or protect it, but also stop, say, Russia from claiming it).

          Russia, or ISIS, or Al Qaeda, or Los Zetas…

          The value of a chunk of land within US borders, but not subject to US law, is going to be gargantuan (you know, I’ve always liked that word) to a huge number of highly motivated, heavily armed actors who want something very different than to mind their own business living next door to a bunch of similarly-MYOBish ancaps. And really, the same goes for a chunk of ungoverned land in Canada, to the same actors, for the same reasons.

          The bit where the United States or Canada stops Russia or Al Qaeda from claiming it would be an extremely valuable, expensive service even before we get to the implied requirement that this be accomplished without stopping the free movement of little green men to said enclave, because who is to say they aren’t just RKBA-minded ancaps off to mind their own business?

          And the United States Government, or some other government, is going to provide this valuable, expensive, dangerous, controversial service free of charge to people who are not paying taxes nor party to any mutual defense treaty, why exactly?

          • onyomi says:

            “And the United States Government, or some other government, is going to provide this valuable, expensive, dangerous, controversial service free of charge to people who are not paying taxes nor party to any mutual defense treaty, why exactly?”

            It seems to me the government currently spends money and resources and endangers American lives for many less worthy purposes.

          • bean says:

            It seems to me the government currently spends money and resources and endangers American lives for many less worthy purposes.

            Less worthy from an ancap perspective, maybe. Note that the government is, by definition, not ancap.

          • dragnubbit says:

            Arguably that experiment is already in progress with tribal sovereignty in the US. Tribal citizens are also US citizens, though, and are responsible for paying federal taxes.

        • “Isn’t the claim that it is closer to people’s natural preferences than other systems and that it is a stable system?”

          The claim is that, under some circumstances, it is a stable system once established, not that it will automatically come into existence given the temporary absence of a state.

          I’m not sure what counts as “natural preferences.” Most modern people (at least) have grown up in a society where rights enforcement is seen as the job of the government, so when things look bad they support the reestablishment of a government. Then people fight over who that government is going to be.

          Somalia is an interesting case. Northern Somalia, at least, had a functioning stateless system that had existed for a long time (the best source is the writing of I.M.Lewis, a retired LSE anthropologist). When England and Italy gave up their authority over Somalia in 1960, they set up a modern, centralized, democratic state. It lasted for nine years, replaced by a military coup–which I suppose you could take as evidence that democracy isn’t stable in that environment. The dictator ruled for quite a while but eventually was overthrown due to a losing war with Ethiopia.

          Since then, the Somali around Mogadishu have been fighting over who will be the government, the U.S. and the U.N. with Ethiopian troops have been trying unsuccessfully to reestablish a government, and the northern Somali seem to have pretty much gone back to the old system, with cover from a “Republic of Somaliland” that we refuse to recognize.

          The Icelandic case is also interested. The Sturlung period breakdown, starting more than two hundred years into the system, isn’t people fighting over traditional arguments about who owed what to whom. It’s at the point when it looks as though someone is going to end up ruling Iceland and factions are fighting over who it will be, egged on by the king of Norway who is the one who eventually ends up winning.

          Or in other words, I think your image of feuding warlords fits the situation where everyone expects there will be a government and the fight is over who will control it, not the equilibrium of a stateless society expected to remain stateless.

          On the subject of warlords … . A lot of the public image associated with the term comes from the supposed situation of China after the fall of the Manchu/Qing empire. I read an interesting book which argued, on the basis of data, that things were not nearly as bad as the usual image. Going by memory, a very small fraction of the population was in the various militaries and peasants didn’t regard warfare as one of their major problems. Things were going reasonably well until the Nationalist/Communist/Japanese conflicts became serious.

          The conclusion was that the bad image was produced by the Chinese communists and their supporters, who naturally wanted to make the preceding system look as bad as possible.

      • Spookykou says:

        I think the ideal situation would be a government sanctioned test, which I imagine would be impossible for ancap in most places (A region without law/no risk of future punishment as would be needed for a true ancap test would not be acceptable). However there are other forms of government, or economic systems that might be more acceptable. In general I think it is an interesting idea. My biggest concern is scalability, some systems that work for a commune of fifty are not realistically implemented in the modern US, but a success of the experiment might drive change that would ultimately be dangerous.

        • dragnubbit says:

          Ancaps have this weird idea that territory and sovereignty are tied together due to some historical accident rather than absolute necessity (at least under current geographical and resource constraints – in a future society these may no longer be controlling factors).

          The only interesting thing about it is how this blind spot developed and why it resists reason and experience.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I think it’s something about WEIRD kids who get raised in an environment where intellectual nationalism/populism is something that happens to other people and as such they have no antibodies for it when their own circle of concern starts brushing up against Dunbar’s number

          • Spookykou says:

            I am not sure, despite the fact that you clearly replied to me, to what extend you are replying to ‘me’, since my position is that nations would not give up, anything, but might be ok with lending out some land for an experiment, assuming it was not an actual ancap experiment but something more tame.

            I am curious about your second point if it is in reply to me, do you really think there would be nothing interesting about testing out alternative government or economic systems in real world simulations? It seems like a very interesting idea to me.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @Spookykou

            I was responding indirectly to you and also to the larger thread about somehow designating ‘ancap territory’ (while trying to highlight the oxymoron as ancap philosophy posits elimination of territorial jurisdiction for force and legal systems).

            There are plenty of real world simulations about alternative legal and governmental systems. And they have the added constraint of having to prove their effectiveness in reality, instead of in an armchair. Sometimes those experiments have failed wildly (Marxism).

            I strongly support the right of the governed to tinker with their own government. And I am gratified that that right is now generally recognized in most of the world, if still imperfect. But to get there a lot of eggs have already been broken and a lot of lessons learned. Lesson One keeps getting forgotten (security first, then freedom, because without the security of a state, property rights and free markets cannot be maintained except in interpersonal/family/tribe-level relations).

          • onyomi says:

            “Lesson One keeps getting forgotten (security first, then freedom, because without the security of a state, property rights and free markets cannot be maintained except in interpersonal/family/tribe-level relations).”

            That’s not how it actually works.

    • beleester says:

      I like it as a concept, but there’s no way this wouldn’t be exploited. “Oh, yes, I’m a billionaire who’s terminally upset with the government and I deeply believe in anarcho-capitalism, one island please. No, it has nothing to do with the fact that my company is trying to build a new factory and wishes labor laws weren’t a thing. Why do you ask?”

      Or even worse, “Oh yes, my family is upset with the government, so we decided to start a new country built on the principles of free love. No, this has nothing to do with the accusations that I started a creepy sex cult, why do you ask?”

      Anything that allows an honest test of anarcho-capitalism is also giving people a legal way to ignore laws they don’t like. I’m reminded of Scott’s post about the Voat experiment – “If you say you won’t hold witch hunts, you can expect your community to attract mostly witches.”

      (And yes, in principle it’s already possible to avoid the law by moving to, say, Somalia, but I bet moving to the middle of Wyoming is a lot more convenient for would-be lawbreakers.)

      • onyomi says:

        “No, it has nothing to do with the fact that my company is trying to build a new factory and wishes labor laws weren’t a thing. Why do you ask?”

        I don’t think people would or should need to hide this as a motivation. Remember, this is a place uninhabited to start with, so anyone who moves there for work will do so cognizant of this fact.

        Re. witches: this is part of my initial point: the advantage of setting up designated witch “safe spaces,” from the perspective of non-witches, is that you don’t have to live with witches, or worry the witches will vote in a witchcraft-friendly administration. Assuming one dislikes witches, having them all move to uninhabited Wyoming sounds like a good thing, no? And you also know where to go when you need someone turned into a newt.

        • Spookykou says:

          Does that create a problem with the test though I wonder. The hypothetical exit rights are very high/very easy, drive for a few hours and you are back in America, a country that speaks the same language as you, where all your family lives, and has a minimum wage. Would the workers wages in that society properly reflect the workers wages if say all of america was Ancap, with the increased difficulty of exiting.

        • John Schilling says:

          I don’t think people would or should need to hide this as a motivation. Remember, this is a place uninhabited to start with, so anyone who moves there for work will do so cognizant of this fact.

          Cognizant of the fact that slavery is legal, cognizant of the fact that fraud and false advertising are legal, cognizant of the fact that a company which could have set up shop in Texas or Mexico or Vietnam instead paid for the infrastructure has instead gone out of its way to build on a greenfield site where these things are legal and is now advertising that hey, come work for us, we totally promise that we won’t chain you to the factory floor and withhold food until you’ve put in your daily sixteen hours…

          An organically-evolved ancap society would I believe evolve institutions that make it clear who can expect to be one of the free men and who will be stuck in slavery or the equivalent. One created ex nihilo by the first group of people willing and able to hire enough mercenaries to secure the enclave for their own purposes? Only the desperate or the foolish would take a job there any time soon, and they will get what the desperate and foolish usually get.

          Assuming one dislikes witches, having them all move to uninhabited Wyoming sounds like a good thing, no?

          Assuming we can keep them from ever leaving, yes. Your Wyoming Ancapistan is a much better deal for the United States if it comes with razor wire, minefields, and one-way turnstiles.

          At that point, you might as well hire Kurt Russel to make the promotional videos.

          • onyomi says:

            “An organically-evolved ancap society would I believe evolve institutions that make it clear who can expect to be one of the free men and who will be stuck in slavery or the equivalent. One created ex nihilo by the first group of people willing and able to hire enough mercenaries to secure the enclave for their own purposes?”

            Isn’t this basically what early settlers of e. g. California had to do? The stereotype of the “wild, wild West” has been fairly well discredited.

          • John Schilling says:

            Early settlers of California had the Spanish government to tell them who was free, indentured, or enslaved, and to settle any disputes on that point most forcefully. By the time the United States Government had any say in the matter, relevant social institutions were already well developed, and the United States Government brought its courts and its cavalry to make clear where everybody stood on the whole “slavery” thing.

            The sort of disputes which settlers had to establish private institutions to resolve were purely local affairs involving no controversies of national importance. And really, if those are your only disputes with the Overbearing Government, they aren’t going to stop you from going out into the Alaskan bush and doing things your way. If you do want to go against them in matters of national controversy, like growing marijuana for sale or running your factories with child labor, then what you are proposing is roughly equivalent to some early California settlers deciding to run their mines on slave labor – and no, that wasn’t something where they “had to”, or even would have been allowed to, set up their own private institutions.

      • “Anything that allows an honest test of anarcho-capitalism is also giving people a legal way to ignore laws they don’t like.”

        You seem to be confusing anarchy with chaos. In the usual models of anarcho-capitalism, whether mine or Rothbard’s, individuals are not free to do anything they like, such as murdering each other, without penalty. There are still rights and rights enforcement, just done by mechanisms other than a government.

        • Spookykou says:

          I assumed that these rights were optional though, I could pay a private security/legal firm to protect the particular rights I am interested in protecting in accordance with the particular protection plans they offer. Which is slightly different from assumed rights held by anyone in a geographic location. Assuming that is how it works, if somebody took a vacation into Ancapistan and didn’t think to buy into a legal system then their murder would not be pursed by any local form of authority, right?

          • Montfort says:

            Well, presumably most hotels and tourist agencies would hire security and justice packages of some form for their customers. Similarly, establishments like shops, restaurants, etc. have an interest in their customers’ safety. Of course, if you plan your own vacation there and AirBnb/find the cheap hotel that doesn’t hire protection…

          • “if somebody took a vacation into Ancapistan and didn’t think to buy into a legal system then their murder would not be pursed by any local form of authority, right?”

            Probably correct. Visiting a society with private rights enforcement and not arranging to be a customer of a rights enforcement agency might be imprudent. Presumably short term contracts would be offered, possibly with special pricing via Travelocity.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Person A hires ‘police’ that enforces anti-pedophilia through violence, person B hires a company that considers pedophilia to be legal.

            Person B now has sex with his/her own child and puts the movies on the Internet. Person A sends a police force after B, who defends himself and gets killed. Now the company of B considers this murder and goes after the employees of A who were involved, all employees of B rally around these people.

            So now you have a war between the two police companies.

            How is this prevented?

          • Spookykou says:

            @aapje

            The assumption is that there are established arbitrators between private security forms, so they settle the dispute in some sort of court, much like we would settle a wrongful death case.

            More fundamentally ‘anti-pedophilia’ is not very ancap, the security agency that takes that position is imposing regulations on people who do not subscribe to their service. You can skip the middle man and say somebody highers a security firm to murder and rob some other guy who is protected by a security firm. In either case, the answer is the third party arbitrator system, and a general desire to build a good reputation, which in an ancap society would preclude a company holding the ‘anti-pedophilia’ position as well as the ‘go murder and rob some guy’ position.

            In general ancap does not deal with children, or childrens rights very well, but that is unrelated to security firm on security firm conflict resolution.

          • nancylebovitz says:

            It’s at least conceivable that people would support a “we don’t like murder in general” protection agency.

            After all, you might want the tourist trade. You might feel that allowing open murder attracts people who will attack anyone whose contract lapses or who might mistakenly attack someone who actually has a contract.

            I think a lot would depend on how much “we will pursue all murderers” costs.

          • Tibor says:

            @DavidFriedman @Spookykou:
            Since one probably does not want the anarchocapitalist country to exist in total isolation, its protection agencies have to work out a deal with the neighbouring governments and set up an international law. The governments will probably want some rules to apply for their citizens in the AC zone and they might refuse to deal with agencies that do not comply with that. Depending on how much is contact with foreign countries worth the people of those lands and how much is killing the tourists (I suspect that the first is worth a bit to a lot to most people and the latter has a negative value to most), there would be a certain amount of pressure on all the agencies except for those who simply desire no contact with the filthy statists from other countries.

            That means that foreign governments would have a certain power over the region – the agencies whose customers desire some level of cooperation with foreigners might be compelled by the foreign governments to provide some minimal service to their citizens who visit the country in exchange for free trade, movement of labour or other rights granted to the customers of that agency by the foreign government. If the neighbouring state-governed country is important enough (for example 31% of all Czech exports are to Germany and 27% of the imports are from Germany), it can influence the local rules to some degree by demanding certain political rules in exchange for free trade and free movement agreements.

          • Jiro says:

            a general desire to build a good reputation, which in an ancap society would preclude a company holding the ‘anti-pedophilia’ position

            I find it doubtful that an anti-pedophilia position would result in a bad reputation, even if it involves attacking pedophiles who have not subscribed to the service.

          • Spookykou says:

            The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all

            You might be right jiro, I’m not a real ancap so I am not sure to what extent their ideals stretch.

          • “How is this prevented?”

            I wrote a book which, among other things, attempted to answer that general question somewhat more than forty years ago. It’s still in print. You can even read the second edition for free.

            Part III sketches what an anarcho-capitalist society might look like and how it would deal with the obvious problem of different people with different views of what the law should be interacting with each other.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Sigh, very poor argumentation in your book.

            ‘Battles are expensive,’ so apparently there would not be war between police agencies. Except that war lords do make war today, which according to you would be impossible, as they would lose financially to their peaceful warlords neighbors (oops, those people just get their money taken from them). A ‘hostile takeover’ would work out a bit more bloody than in a non-ancap world.

            There is the assumption that there will naturally be many protection agencies, while common sense says that there will be few. Assuming that a large part of the value of the agencies is deterrence, a major part of the value they provide is having a army that is large enough for people not to pick fights with them. The cost of this fixed size of their army then gets spread out over the customer, so the more customers pick the same agency, the cheaper the fee. Furthermore, one can assume that people will greatly value a cop nearby, as non-ancap people already have a really strong preference for ‘cops on the street’ and we can reasonably assume that people will keep that preference in an ancap society. A single big protection agency can provide this way more effectively, as the size of the country doesn’t change when the agency has more customers.

            Then there is the assumption that the people who run businesses will not turn out to be malicious, because they are business people, chosen by the market. Ehm…the banks anyone…VW diesel scandal…a gazillion other scandals that I can’t be bothered to list. It’s absurd to assume that CEOs won’t turn out to be power freaks, especially as there is scientific evidence that CEOs are way more likely to be psychopaths.

            These 3 highly doubtful and unproven assertions (I’m being generous in saying that) are all on 1 page that I happened to semi-randomly select to start reading. This does not cause my belief in your ideas to increase.

          • “There is the assumption that there will naturally be many protection agencies, while common sense says that there will be few.”

            That isn’t an assumption. I discuss the problem at some length, offering reasons why under some circumstances there would be many, under others few. One chapter in the third edition (you don’t say which edition you read) is a response to Jim Buchanan’s criticism, pointing out that the problem he mentions might lead to fewer agencies and thus a less stable system.

            I don’t know what your model of “warlords” is or what historical examples you have in mind. We have real world examples of societies where rights enforcement was decentralized. They don’t seem to have been perpetually at war and seem no more violent than otherwise similar societies with rulers. Arguably less.

            To be fair the Commanche were pretty violent–but mostly not against each other.

            Your argument would seem to apply at least as strongly to states, yet most states, most of the time, are at peace with their neighbors. Indeed I would expect it to apply more strongly to states, since they don’t have to worry nearly as much as rights enforcement agencies under A-C about losing customers.

            The claim is not that any imaginable society without government will work well and more, I presume, than your claim is that any imaginable society with government will. It’s that a particular set of stateless institutions would be likely to work better than a government.

            When I originally wrote the book (first edition) it was entirely speculation, but since then I have learned a good deal more about stable decentralized orders in past societies.

          • Aapje says:

            I read the book you linked to.

            Anyway, I agree that stateless societies can exist, up to a certain level of population density and interconnectedness. However, AFAIK the greater the interconnectedness, the more oppressive these societies were. Small isolated tribes in S-America seem to have been relatively egalitarian, but societies such as Afghanistan or Berber country seemed to are/have been extremely patriarchal, with strictly policed roles for people and using nepotism as the connecting tissue. They solved the lack of democracy by minimizing freedom and semi-formalizing vigilante justice (honor killings), so conflicts would happen less often. I don’t think that you can have a libertarian society with the interconnectedness and freedoms that modern people want.

            As for the reasons why states don’t fight so often, they did so for a long time actually, until they figured out that it was very costly and pretty much impossible to govern entire huge areas centrally, unless the citizens are happy with the government. There was also a strong link with the growing trade, which was interrupted by war.

            You are correct that the same goes for police organisations and I agree that they would limit the area they control. What I don’t agree with, is that they would accept competition within that area, just like states don’t accept that currently. I believe that they would become defacto governments and probably robber governments, until the people revolt and get a form of democratized central government. So then you are back where we are now.

        • beleester says:

          I’m talking about the laws of the host country. Ancap Island can set up laws of its own, but it’s going to mainly attract people who are trying to dodge US law for whatever reason.

          EDIT: Maybe Ancap Island could set up border controls, extradition treaties, etc, with the US government, but the more you entangle it with the outside world, the less ancappy it becomes.

          • onyomi says:

            “Maybe Ancap Island could set up border controls, extradition treaties, etc, with the US government, but the more you entangle it with the outside world, the less ancappy it becomes.”

            I don’t think that necessarily follows. Remember, Ancap is just a space of private property and law, not lawless, rugged individualism. There is no reason any private individual or group in ancapistan couldn’t enter into any sort of e. g. trade agreement with any outside entity, governmental or private.

          • beleester says:

            They would have to create such treaties, because otherwise the host government would start asking, “So, why did we think creating a place where we couldn’t arrest criminals was a good idea?”

        • Deiseach says:

          if somebody took a vacation into Ancapistan and didn’t think to buy into a legal system then their murder would not be pursed by any local form of authority, right?

          If Ancapistan runs on the principles of private rights, and if I have a right to private property, surely I have a right to the enjoyment and use of my life which is the ultimate and most private property I can and do possess? Then should not there be some authority (presumably in Ancapistan it’s the Chamber of Commerce) which supports the rights of its citizens and visitors to the possession of their property?

          Because it seems to me that would otherwise be violating their foundational principles, which are the right to private property and the rule of law. I’m assuming that since everything is decided by contract, there must be some system of impartial arbitration (otherwise decisions on cases would come down to “who successfully bought the judge?” which means rich Snidely Whiplash could take poor Widow Brown’s house and land away from her even though it’s legally her property, since he could afford to pay for the decision in his favour) and this has to have some teeth to it other than “we all voluntarily accept it” (else people can opt out or defect which leaves you back where you started).

          If no authority would investigate my murder because I didn’t buy a “murder investigation policy”, then they are saying my right to private property is qualified, not absolute: I may own property or the fruits of my labours so long as I pay for their protection, and if my rival can buy a more favourable decision or better-armed enforcers, too bad for me.

          This also strikes me as the solution to the problem of taxes: by paying taxes, we are buying contracts with a rights enforcement agency. The government acts as that agency, and so we can be reasonably sure that if we’re murdered or robbed the police will investigate; if an enemy army comes over the border and tries to take our town, the army will fight for us, etc.

          • Spookykou says:

            This also strikes me as the solution to the problem of taxes: by paying taxes, we are buying contracts with a rights enforcement agency.

            This is more or less what proponents of ancap think. They just want there to be competition in the market, they want to be able to pay Lone Star private security firm, instead of the US government, because they live in Lowcrimeberg, and their service fees with US government security are being used to subsidize security in other communities, so they are paying more than they should for the service they receive.

            Edit: AND countless other complaints with USgov security firm, that they might be inspired to change, if they did not have a monopoly on the use of force already.

          • “Because it seems to me that would otherwise be violating their foundational principles, which are the right to private property and the rule of law.”

            You, like many, are confusing anarcho-capitalism, which is a set of institutions, with libertarianism, which is a set of outcomes. One reason many libertarians are anarcho-capitalists is that they expect those institutions to produce those outcomes, but that’s a conclusion, not a definition. As I argued a very long time ago, one can imagine circumstances in which an A-C society produced non-libertarian outcomes (my example was a law against drug use).

            There isn’t anyone in an A-C society with the job of making sure that all rights are respected or the power to do it, just as there is nobody in a market society with the job of making sure that everyone gets food. Nonetheless, market societies have a much better record of avoiding famines than alternative institutions (not a perfect record, as you can point out).

            Similarly, I expect an A-C society to produce better rights protection than a state–but through decentralized institutions.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @David Friedman

            Just because markets are better at resource distribution does not mean they are better at everything else.

          • “Just because markets are better at resource distribution does not mean they are better at everything else.”

            I don’t know what you mean by “resource distribution.”

            I would have said that markets are better at solving hard versions of the coordination problem, getting large numbers of people to cooperate on complicated things. Easy versions can be solved either by central authority or non-market forms of decentralized coordination.

            The problem of defining and enforcing rights is a hard version in any reasonably large and diverse society.

    • Tekhno says:

      A right to try means a de facto duty for governments to give up land for that purpose, which is why this right doesn’t exist. Even still, there are many uninhabited places on the planet where hardy pioneers could set up shop surreptitiously. Might be difficult and dangerous? Well, it should be better than living under the aggression of the state, and the rewards should be tremendous if freedom is explosively more effective.

      I can imagine schemes that try to avoid all this sneaking around though. I wonder if you could set up legitimate properties under some government’s law but then find legal loopholes to divide up your property into paralegal sub-properties and have your “employees” possess and use parts of your property as if it were many different properties. Almost as if you had a computer simulating the anarcho-capitalist program.

      Zany? Worth at least a scout about for those with money, but libertarian billionaires haven’t done much for us. The seastead movement has languished for years recycling the same basic experiments again and again. Anarcho-capitalists are all too comfy. There are no pioneers and there can’t be.

      This is why I stopped being an ancap. I realized that if ancaps weren’t hardy enough to go try ancap somewhere and be better off than under the state, and if most people in society depend on the state that much, then being an ancap must be a level of rugged too far for the human species.

      The real answer is that people aren’t strong enough for ancapistan. Ancap needs a New Man; a Homo Ruggedicus. That or our technology needs to compensate for the weakness of modern man.

      You are never going to get a major decentralization of the state until people are capable of it. This means we have to look at the issue from a materialist perspective and not an idealist one. Anarcho-capitalism must make way for techno-decentralism. *

      There are four factors I’ve identified that could assist political decentralization. These are: the automation of labor, additive manufacturing, nanotechnology, and energy.

      Closed loop automated capital makes everything that you could possibly imagine doing much easier, and it allows the weak to make a living by proxy providing they start with some capital capable of CLA, such as a humanoid robot with AGI. With closed loop automation, initial investments expand geometrically up to the constraints of the land that is owned or rented. This means that charity goes exponential, allowing economic independence and capability for the weak, as now everyone has access to super-low cost capital that produces on command provided there are available resources. At the same time, conventional wage labor is destroyed, removing people’s dependence on big business and in turn weakening big government. CLA capital is both capitalist and worker combined at your command.

      Additive manufacturing also attacks big business since it lowers the cost economies of scale to produce items. It’s in an early Model T phase now, but the ultimate extrapolation of this is full self replication. In conjunction with artificial intelligence this helps close the loop.

      Nanotechnology is important because one of the factors that leads to centralized government is the need to manage and regulate the activity of big business which deals with large scale supply chains where mistakes can have a big impact. Free trade, which is beneficial for increasing productivity, unfortunately also tends to increase global governance and leave less room for experiments. The difficulty of autarky is due to the uneven distribution of resources across the planet. However, if for example, two allotropes of one element can cover for two alternative elements, then autarky becomes easier. An example of this multi-faceted capacity is found in carbon, being that graphene and nanotubes can form both structural and electronic components. The general principle is that the more you can do with less stuff, the more economic independence you can achieve, and the more political independence in turn.

      Decentralized energy production is provided by solar, but you aren’t getting much power out of it. Still, if you combine solar production with nanotechnology, solar films could be produced cheaply out of abundant materials allowing more surface area for collection. Another option for higher power is the still unsolved problem of getting nuclear fusion beyond break even. Nuclear fusion is safer than fission, and its fuel is far more abundant, allowing it to be decentralized more easily, if only it were scalable. Hopefully, Lockheed’s plan for a truck sized 100MW reactor actually works.

      All come to, if you’re interested in practically achieving a future society based off of property rights and the NAP, then your best bet is to engage in activism for more government subsidies and grants in the areas of artificial intelligence (and FAI), robotics, automation, additive manufacturing/3D printing, nanotechnology, graphene and nanotubes, solar cells, and nuclear fusion (which already gets a lot of money to be fair).

      Once a given level of independence can be achieved, you might see large states breaking up into smaller ones and so on. Then there will be no need to fantasize about running away from the state. You hollow it out from the inside using actual concrete capacity.

      Without the capacity to do something, it’s no surprise it isn’t being done.

      * Funnily enough, this is exactly the difference between the “scientific socialism” of Marx and the Utopian Socialists you reference.

      • Most of the discussion here seems to assume an A-C society within the U.S., which I think unlikely. The more plausible scenario is along the lines of current projects for charter cities. A poor country with some empty territory agrees to allow the establishment of an independent polity on that territory. The people setting it up make whatever rules they think will attract settlers and investors. Existing projects don’t go all the way to A-C, but there is no obvious reason why one couldn’t.

        The most obvious problem is keeping the government of the country from reneging on the deal once investments have been made.

      • John Schilling says:

        If the proposal goes all the way to A-C, I’d expect another problem when a group of organized drug traffickers decides that such a charter city would make a perfect hub for their operation and promises, sincerely, not to cause problems for the host nation while favoring them heavily in the lucrative side businesses of logistical and financial support for drug trafficking.

        This is a win-win situation for the traffickers and the host nation, and a big loss for e.g. the politically dominant subset of Americans who think that drug trafficking to the United States is something against which a War ought to be waged. Which, if they take that part literally enough, becomes a big problem for the A-C charter city and its host nation, which in turn means the ‘A’ part gets moderated to “except anything that would really piss off anyone with an air force or a navy(*), all of those things are still illegal”, which isn’t all that A after all.

        * Or just de facto veto power over participation in the global financial system.

        • Spookykou says:

          Drugs might be an issue, but I imagine ‘sheltering terrorists’ is what would gets A-C Charter city into more trouble.

        • Deiseach says:

          Americans who think that drug trafficking to the United States is something against which a War ought to be waged

          But drug trafficking is a problem. I know nobody is forced to take and become addicted to drugs, but what do you do when it is a genuine social problem – not talking about morals here, talking about deaths from opiod overdoses, break-up of families, destruction of social cohesion at the level of the lower classes, and the knock-on effects from that?

          A government or society could say “It’s none of our business and if our citizens are dying in the streets or their backwoods trailer parks because they took too much fun powder and it was cut with some crap/too pure for what they took it to be, hey, not our problem”. No publicly-funded detox programmes. You spend all your money on drugs or whatever, don’t come looking to us to feed your kids.

          How well is that going to go down with people who also think you should buy mosquito nets for people in Africa? You could equally say “Nobody is forcing you to live in a mosquito-infested region, just pack up and move your lazy ass to someplace else healthier if you don’t want your kids to get malaria”.

          It’s the main philosophical or ethical problem here: is there “no such thing as society”, merely a collection of atomised individuals who conduct economic relations but owe nothing to, and are owed nothing by, anyone other than the terms of whatever contracts they agree upon? Or is there the social contract? Or a situation where we are bound by bonds of mutual affection and loyalty because we are all humans and all the one kind and we should help each other in times of need?

          Does one or does one not accept the idea that there can be some limits on freedom of choice or action for the individual because it is for the greater good, and that one accepts this because similar limits on other individuals benefit one similarly (e.g. bank robbery being illegal means your money is safer than if there were no laws about theft)?

          As well as concerns like gangs and criminality and killing over drug trading: would legalising all drugs no matter what remove that? I suppose we’ll have to see the effects on crime of legalised marijuana – does that choke off a lucrative drug trade for gangs, or do they simply move on to more profitable harder drugs?

          • nancylebovitz says:

            Ending Prohibition of alcohol did end gang wars over the distribution of alcohol, and made the sale of poisonous alcohol much less likely.

            The thing is, we know that trying to prohibit drugs leads to a lot of damage in itself, so that has to be balanced against the damage done by the drugs, especially since drug prohibition doesn’t do much to limit access to drugs.

            People can make any laws they please, but they are not free from the consequences of those laws. Sometimes I think people who propose laws are in a fantasy universe where the laws have only the desired consequences.

          • Jaskologist says:

            How many of those poisonings were done by the US government itself?

            I mean, they still poison alcohol, so they can tax the good stuff.

      • onyomi says:

        “The real answer is that people aren’t strong enough for ancapistan. Ancap needs a New Man; a Homo Ruggedicus. That or our technology needs to compensate for the weakness of modern man.”

        I do think technology makes it a lot easier, but the idea that people will need to be super rugged or individualistic or self-sufficient in order for ancap to work is based on the (admittedly fair) assumption that existing states won’t leave them unmolested if they progress beyond a level of sophistication and organization that is more than a few people living in cabins in the woods of Alaska with gas generators. But that’s a problem with states refusing to leave people alone and demanding supremacy (the drug dealers, casinos, and prostitutes in ancapistan will undermine their ability to save their citizens from their own sinful natures; the “home base for terrorists” concerns is somewhat more serious, though I think it mistakes ancapistan for a space of lawlessness, rather than the space of private law and enforcement and negotiations I’m suggesting).

        That said, I will say that a plan that is more politically realistic is arguably better than a more philosophically pure but unrealistic plan, and getting states to agree to charter cities and special economic zones is hard enough at this point, much less getting them to agree to relinquish sovereignty over even small or peripheral bits of territory, so I won’t argue if you and John Schilling want to say it’s better to focus there than on a pure ancap experiment (though remember, though my personal preference is ancap, I’m also talking suggesting spaces, be they special zones, charter cities, or purely anarchic, which will be free for many different kinds of socio-political organization people may want to try: I don’t think states have a good excuse not to let people try, especially in poorer areas, and in places with lots of uninhabited, resource-poor, and/or strategically unimportant land).

        • Deiseach says:

          the drug dealers, casinos, and prostitutes in ancapistan will undermine their ability to save their citizens from their own sinful natures

          Mmmm – might not be moral crusading so much as pragmatic “and who cleans up the messes afterwards?” because sure, the money flows in with the tourists, but once Joe Sixpack has blown all his cash in the casino, developed a nice little crack habit and got a dose of the clap from the ladies and gentlemen of negotiable virtue, who then has to detox, treat and pay his unemployment benefit/keep his wife and kids from being thrown out on the street? Probably the home nation; I don’t know how Las Vegas or the Indian Reservation casinos work, but I imagine they don’t pick up the tab for any broke customers who are not citizens of their state/entitled to live on the reservation. I imagine Ancapistan will be the same: now you have no money left to spend, you’re not our problem, bugger off back home.

          • onyomi says:

            “You can’t have a casino over there in your neighborhood because our neighborhood made a promise to its residents to take care of them if they lose their shirt gambling,” doesn’t seem to be a very good argument against a casino. It is also the underlying form many, if not most, pro-government arguments seem to take.

          • John Schilling says:

            Seems like a perfectly good argument to me. People we care about more than we care about you, would be better off if the casino didn’t exist. We have the power to burn down the casino. “No initiation of force” is your principle, not ours. Likewise the bit about valuing equally the utils of all humanity. So, fair warning, for the benefit of people we care about and have agreed to protect, we’re going to burn down any casino built by people we don’t care about and haven’t agreed to protect. Unless there’s some negotiated agreement that makes it worth our while to tolerate the harmful-to-us casino that we could just burn down – which will necessarily include both measures to minimize the harm to our people, and some value given to us in exchange for the remaining harm.

            Yeah, yeah, that’s a bunch of meanies not being fair. Deal with it. What’s your negotiating position, beyond accusing them of being unfair meanies?

          • onyomi says:

            That’s just “might makes right,” which isn’t an ethical argument many find convincing. Though as David Friedman points out, there are many cases in which right tends to make might.

          • John Schilling says:

            This is “might, applied to the defense of people under my protection against things that will lead to them being harmed, makes right”.

            That is an argument that many people find convincing.

          • onyomi says:

            Burning down the casino in the scenario described is only “defense,” to the extent you could say I’m “defending” my wife’s liver by burning down the brewery which makes the delicious beer I can’t get her to stop buying.

            For that matter, by this logic, offering any tempting product or service whatsoever can be construed as an “attack” on everyone else’s pocketbook. Can I burn down my competitor’s store to “defend” my customers against his inferior products?

          • caethan says:

            @onyomi

            Up in the Dakotas, the Sioux banned the sale of liquor on their reservation up until about 2014 or so. In response to this, local *spit* entrepreneurs set up shops on US land as close to the reservation boundaries as possible that sell the cheapest rotgut you can find to Indian alcoholics.

            Do you think that this enterprising behavior on the part of the liquor sellers is more or less moral than the repeated attempts by the Sioux to get them to stop?

          • John Schilling says:

            Burning down the casino in the scenario described is only “defense,” to the extent you could say I’m “defending” my wife’s liver by burning down the brewery which makes the delicious beer I can’t get her to stop buying.

            Exactly. Do you not understand that the vast majority of the human race considers that to be ethical behavior under at least some circumstances, and has constructed ethical codes (consequentialist, virtuous, and deontological alike) which specify the circumstances under which it is OK to burn down the distillery which insists on selling beer to your alky wife? That the distiller acknowledging no limitation on whom he can sell beer to is one of the circumstances under which the entire civilized world will say, “OK, the brewery shuts down, or it gets burned down”?

            The world does not consist of a majority of wannabe anarchists or libertarians living under the yoke of a few oppressive tyrants, ignorant even of the possibility of a better way. The world consists of a vast majority of human beings who know perfectly well it is possible to have wholly unregulated breweries and casinos, and want someone to burn down said institutions for them so they don’t have to bother.

            There are ways to convince a world full of such people to tolerate the existence of minimally-regulated breweries and casinos. Lecturing them about how the only morally righteous path is for them to not burn down the unregulated brewery or casino, isn’t on the list.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The world does not consist of a majority of wannabe anarchists or libertarians living under the yoke of a few oppressive tyrants, ignorant even of the possibility of a better way.

            No, unfortunately it consists of a majority of wannabe oppressive tyrants living under the yoke of a few actual tyrants. Which is why we aren’t going to see any improvement.

          • onyomi says:

            @Caethan and John Schilling

            I certainly wouldn’t praise the liquor stores set up right alongside the reservation. Depending on the nature of reservation life (how optional living there really is, etc.), in fact, I’d likely criticize them. But I also wouldn’t support burning them down.

            I think a missing piece in all this is “business ethics,” which seemingly isn’t taken very seriously in public debate, because it’s taken as a given that the only way to control rapacious business is through the coercive force of the state. But I think shame, boycotts, etc. are also good ways, and perhaps underutilized due to this being seen as the bailiwick of the state.

            I think this kind of thing does function pretty well at a local-ish level: your local bartender may not have a legal obligation to refuse your spouse after the third drink, but you can have a talk with him, and, hopefully, come to an agreement. Of course, it’s harder to have this kind of personal connection when dealing with very large corporations, but I don’t think impossible. Greater difficulty with limiting personal liability in ancapistan might also help.

            Ancap is about having more options to determine what sort of community you want to live in (up to an including whether, say, alcohol, drugs, or gambling will be allowed in your neighborhood), not fewer. I think part of the issue right now is that there is so much pent-up demand for certain vices (drugs, gambling, prostitution) that any low-regulation environment becomes a magnet for such things. But if ancapistans proliferated, there’s no reason to think they’d all be Las Vegas. Some would be Las Vegas and others might be more Amish.

          • John Schilling says:

            I think this kind of thing does function pretty well at a local-ish level: your local bartender may not have a legal obligation to refuse your spouse after the third drink, but you can have a talk with him, and, hopefully, come to an agreement.

            What do you propose to offer him, other than refraining from burning down his bar (or other sorts of harm you could do unto him, e.g. organizing his social ostracism)? He’s a bartender, you are by the fact of this discussion at most a moderate drinker. You’ve got nothing positive to offer him that he can’t get more of from someone else.

          • onyomi says:

            “What do you propose to offer him”

            Good will? Businesses seem to be willing to go pretty far to preserve that in the age of Yelp.

          • caethan says:

            I think this kind of thing does function pretty well at a local-ish level

            This is… mind-bogglingly obtuse. Right, sure, the kind of bottom-feeding scumbags who cheerfully help alcoholics drink themselves to death are going to be dissuaded by a bad Yelp review.

            “Sold my alcoholic father a 6 pack of malt liquor, who then got drunk and beat the shit out of me. Would not patronize again, 1 star.”

          • John Schilling says:

            Yeah, if a teetotaler can give a bartender a bad rep on Yelp for not cutting off his clients and sending them home to their families still mostly-sober, Yelp is broken and will be replaced by something that tells actual customers what they actually want to know – whether or not McCheers is a place where they can get drunk in peace without the bartender giving them any guff.

            We’ve been through this before. Back in the Golden Age of Community Values and Friendly Small Businessmen. Tarnished only by the slight disagreement between tavernkeepers who wanted to make a profit and housewives who didn’t want their husbands coming home stinking drunk at 1:00 AM every night.

            The result was not a bit of friendly talk between the housewives and the tavernkeepers leading to any sort of agreement. The result was housewives with axes. And then prohibition, and the bloody sort of anarchy in the border towns, and then a compromise with strict licensing laws and the BATF.

            I can see paths to less-strict licensing laws, particularly if we get some sort of a do-over rather than having to keep the current framework. But if we dial it all the way back to zero, you’re getting housewives with axes again. Except ISIS will probably offer them an online IED-making course this time around.

          • onyomi says:

            As with the copyright case above, many of the objections here seem based on simply imagining what we have now minus whatever role the government currently plays, but without imagining any of the institutions which would likely arise in its vacuum.

            Women with axes, for example, is arguably a reaction to a kind of “lawlessness” which may, paradoxically, arise more readily under statism than anarchy. Ancap means competition among providers of law and order, not “do-it-yourself” law and order. With more competition among providers of law, there might actually be less reason to “take the law into your own hands.”

            Moreover, prohibition gets me back to my original point: in the 19th and early 20th c. we had this critical mass of people clamoring to try “dry” life. If we hadn’t had our current one-size-fits-all notion toward law, might they not have instead all moved to somewhere and set up “dry utopia,” leaving the rest of us in peace?

          • caethan says:

            Well, since the government institutions currently in place to prevent these problems have the decency to actually exist, unlike the “institutions which would likely arise in its vacuum”, which exist only in your fertile if limited imagination, I’m more interested in what those government institutions have or have not done. If you’d like to make actual proposals on alternative ways to prevent said problems then we could talk about that, but your contribution in this subthread has been “I don’t know, Yelp or something” which I don’t really feel is worth a deep discussion. Hell, if your position was “Yeah, the alcoholics are going to be fucked, oh well, the sacrifices we have to make” it would be more worth engaging.

          • caethan says:

            For those interested in the depths of scumbaggery to which people are willing to go in order to exploit others, the history of Missouri’s gambling laws is a fascinating subject. Riverboat gambling was legalized in the early 90s, with “boats” being set down in the river in various places. After a few years, the state government realized there was a problem and set out a nice little consensual solution. Gambling addicts who couldn’t stay away from the casinos could voluntarily place themselves on a list (you go down to the gaming authority with a photo ID and sign a form) to permanently ban themselves from casinos. They could be arrested for trespassing for being in the casino, and the casino would be fined for allowing them in.

            Now, the casinos weren’t happy about this, because problem gamblers are their main source of profit, just like alcoholics are the profit-centers for brewers. So they campaigned to change the laws, and succeeded. However, they didn’t just remove the self-exclusion list entirely! That wouldn’t be scumbag enough. No, they pushed through some little changes in how ID checking worked for casinos, so that they didn’t have to check IDs when gamblers entered the boat. That way they could claim plausible deniability about this guy being a problem gambler and not being allowed on the boat. Where they did check IDs though, was when people tried to cash their winnings. And since people on the list weren’t allowed to gamble, they’d just confiscate their winnings and get them arrested. So now you can put yourself on the exclusion list, but it doesn’t actually stop you from gambling. It just stops you from winning at gambling. You’re still more than able to take your life savings and lose it at the casinos.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            @caethan. As to your scumbag story. That sounds a bit like a just so story from anti gamblers. Do you have cites? In your story the gambling joint makes a bunch of money by clearly cheating its biggest customers. That doesn’t bode well for a business that wants to remain solvent. Maybe the joints were just irrational, but you needn’t worry about them being around very long.

          • “just like alcoholics are the profit-centers for brewers”

            Do you have evidence for that claim?

            Judging by a quick google, alcoholics are about one percent of the population. I doubt the average alcoholic drinks a hundred times as much as the average non-alcoholic, or even close.

          • caethan says:

            @David

            UK: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/22/problem-drinkers-alcohol-industry-most-sales-figures-reveal

            US: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/09/25/think-you-drink-a-lot-this-chart-will-tell-you/

            In the UK, harmful drinkers are ~5% of the population and produce about 25% of alcohol sales, with risky drinkers being another 15% of the population and producing another ~35% of alcohol sales.

            In the US, the top 10% of drinkers drink on average 10 drinks a day and are responsible for >60% of alcohol sales.

            Alcoholics are absolutely driving profits. Without the extremely heavy drinkers, revenues would collapse.

          • John Schilling says:

            @caethan: Neither “harmful drinkers” nor “risky drinkers” nor “top 10% of drinkers”, are synonymous with “alcoholics”. Alcoholics represent about 5% of the adult population, if you believe the WHO or the NIH. Your sources are, almost certainly deliberately, including people who are Not Alcoholics in their mishmash of statistics intended to show that Distilleries are Evil.

            Actual acoholics might make up a quarter of alcohol sales by volume, rather less than that by volume. That’s a pretty weak standard for “profit center”.

          • caethan says:

            @John Schilling:

            Well, if you want to use the DSM definition of alcoholic, then fine. I think colloquial use is consistent with saying that someone whose average alcohol consumption is > 10 drinks per day every day is an alcoholic, but I’m happy to call them “problem drinkers” if that makes you happy.

            And people who drink that much are responsible for the majority of alcohol sales.

        • John Schilling says:

          the “home base for terrorists” concerns […] mistakes ancapistan for a space of lawlessness, rather than the space of private law and enforcement and negotiations I’m suggesting

          Terrorist groups have their own private law enforcement systems, you know. Sometimes (Taliban, early ISIS, Hamas) that’s their biggest selling point, providing security and stability in what had been a dangerously anarchic region. And having cheap, ideologically committed recruits, a common cause that overrides the tendency to private corruption, and a willingness to get one’s hands quite dirty, offers a huge competitive advantage in that area.

          So much so that the private law enforcement agencies that set themselves against terrorist groups, tend to become terrorist groups in all but name themselves (Columbian paramilitaries, the UVA/UDF/UFF in Northern Ireland).

          If you’re in that line of business, and the big money comes from either industrialists who want the workers kept in line or from foreign patrons who want their Holy Cause to flourish, there’s no profit in handicapping yourself by being anything less than a bloody terrorist to any of the little guys. And if you somehow get a bunch of the little guys to band together into an effective militia, boy howdy are they going to be looking for payback.

          Negotiations? Sure, maybe. I can see the mutual profit in Pinkerton’s cutting a deal with ISIS where the mines (and mine workers so long as they don’t get uppity) are left alone in exchange for a small cut of the profits, and they both gang up against any citizens’ militia or damn dirty labor unionists.

        • Tekhno says:

          @onyomi

          But that’s a problem with states refusing to leave people alone and demanding supremacy

          This is why I’d like you to look at this from a materialist perspective. What is the case is the case, and unless you understand why, you’re reduced to mere appeals.

          In order to reduce the power of the state you need to be able to appreciate the benefits of the state and why anarcho-capitalism is so unattractive to the majority of people. People need to have less to lose in order for it to become viable. The risks involved need to be lowered.

          If poverty is completely abolished by technological economic factors, for example, then anarcho-capitalism suddenly becomes more tenable, since one of the main arguments against it has been reduced in importance. It may be that you can say “Oh, but the market would reduce poverty” but then you are back on the oblivious idealist track I think.

          In order for states to cease their demands for supremacy, the people who comprise the base of the state need to cease their own demands for supremacy, and in order for that to be the case, there needs to be less need for them to secure supremacy in order to feel safe. This can only happen through a mechanical process, as I have outlined in the first reply, because without satisfying people, you are stuck saying “PLEASE? PLEASE?

          The state needs to wither away like the Marxists think it can. Only when that is accomplished will states stop reaching out to put an end to experiments and independence. In order to accomplish that a certain appreciation of the state is necessary. Satisfaction is superior to persuasion.

          Think of the size of states as being a product between positive pressures and negative pressures. A materialist libertarian program would attempt to reduce the positive pressures that lead to reliance on the state, replacing it with other structures. New structures and capacities are driven by technology, which is why I argue for techno-decentralism instead of anarcho-capitalism.

          I don’t think states have a good excuse not to let people try

          Don’t look at it like this. This leads nowhere. States don’t need excuses, but feelings and guns. States must be hollowed out long before they will ever simply permit things.

          • onyomi says:

            “Don’t look at it like this. This leads nowhere. States don’t need excuses, but feelings and guns.”

            I don’t think it leads nowhere because the feelings people have about states being justified and necessary depend on their ethical views and experience. Making ethical arguments can get some people to question the validity of the state, which at least gets them thinking about alternatives, even if they are unwilling to try them due to deeming it too risky. That’s where allowing experiments comes in. Proving that it isn’t as risky as people thought+making the ethical case together both help.

            I won’t disagree that there are other things to try within the state: Uber, AirBnB, arguing for other laws which allow people options (rather than abolishing social security, just make it opt-out-able; rather than abolishing the fed, eliminate legal tender laws, etc.), but given the extreme difficulty of piecemeal reform, ancaps might get closer to their desired outcome sooner by doing a “proof of concept” on some island somewhere than only trying to slowly render the state irrelevant through technology, etc. (again, not saying the latter approach is bad, just that I think what I’m suggesting, if not pure ancap, then at least in the form of e. g. charter cities, has potential; probably both are better uses of time than electoral politics).

          • Tekhno says:

            @onyomi

            Making ethical arguments can get some people to question the validity of the state

            This is the main form of ancap activism going way back. Will you accept that it has a poor track records, and that anarcho-capitalists remain an extreme minority?

            Perhaps it is time to try something else instead? It almost seems like the kinds of people who become attracted to anarcho-capitalism have a greater threshold for tolerating negative outcomes. If normies have an inherently lower threshold, then the only way to ever make anarcho-capitalism popular would be to lower the risk factors. Ironically the best way to do this would be to support government subsidies and greater general funding for STEM fields.

            -If robots do all the work, no need to worry about unemployment.
            -If additive manufacturing is advanced enough to self-replicate, no need to worry about welfare.
            -If most people are some kind of cyborg with highly redundant body parts, less need to worry about gun control.

            And so on…

            ancaps might get closer to their desired outcome sooner by doing a “proof of concept” on some island somewhere than only trying to slowly render the state irrelevant through technology, etc. (again, not saying the latter approach is bad, just that I think what I’m suggesting, if not pure ancap, then at least in the form of e. g. charter cities, has potential; probably both are better uses of time than electoral politics).

            Slow is all we’ve got. Yeah, it would be nice if states let people do that, but they don’t and won’t. Like I said, a right to “try” means a converse duty for states to limit their control over their territories.

          • Brad says:

            Onymoi, do you live in a city with a big AirBnB presence? Have you ever lived in an apartment building where a unit was being used for it?

          • onyomi says:

            “Onymoi, do you live in a city with a big AirBnB presence? Have you ever lived in an apartment building where a unit was being used for it?”

            Yes to a, no to b, though I have lived in a house with three other people, all of whom were long-term AirBnBers. I didn’t get the impression we were ruining the neighborhood. Though I also wouldn’t object, in principle, to a HOA or something curtailing the ability to do such things.

          • Brad says:

            Why would you expect that a company and userbase that openly flouts regulatory laws would respect private contracts? In NYC neither the government, nor condo/co-op boards, nor renters (using the third party beneficiary doctrine) have had much luck enforcing the rules against AirBnB moguls.

            I guess in Ancapistan we would just hire people to break their kneecaps, but since that isn’t an option in the US I don’t think AirBnB is a compromise I can live with. I was very happy to see NY State recently pass more enforceable laws to keep them out of apartment buildings.

          • “In order for states to cease their demands for supremacy, the people who comprise the base of the state need to cease their own demands for supremacy, and in order for that to be the case, there needs to be less need for them to secure supremacy in order to feel safe.”

            You don’t seem to be distinguishing between “feel safe” and “be safe.” One way the situation could change would be the world becoming safer. A different way would be people concluding that government was making them less safe, not more.

          • “This is the main form of ancap activism going way back. Will you accept that it has a poor track records, and that anarcho-capitalists remain an extreme minority?”

            Something changed much of the world between about 1800 and 1900 in the direction libertarians want, although of course not all the way to anarchy. In the late 18th century Adam Smith said something to the effect that it was more likely that the utopia of Moore would be established than that England would ever give up its restrictions on foreign trade. Less than seventy years later, partly due to Smith’s influence, the corn laws were abolished.

            There has been a similar shift in the third world in recent decades, largest in China but sizable elsewhere. That seems to have been mainly a result of people finally realizing that the market worked much better for the objectives most of them wanted than the alternative of central planning.

            We don’t have computers with super-human intelligence. It does not follow that the strategies followed for making computers better failed. We do not have pure A-C laissez-faire societies. It does not follow that the strategies used to push societies in that direction failed.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @Tekhno

            It almost seems like the kinds of people who become attracted to anarcho-capitalism have a greater threshold for tolerating negative outcomes.

            That is a stated preference, not a revealed one. Until I find ancaps arguing for the benefits of organized crime (such as how mafia bosses benefited their clients relative to the state), they are really closet statists. Of course they say they do not want mafiosos and warlords running things, they just want to create an environment in which they would dominate.

      • Deiseach says:

        Where do property rights come from? If there is no legitimate authority and large-scale government is an improper imposition on the rights of the individual, how do you stake a right to a piece of property? “Well, I bought it from this guy and he handed me the deeds”. Yeah, and he got it how? Eventually it goes back up the chain to some guy staked out a piece of land and said “This is mine” and it was backed up by whatever form of government existed at the time, because otherwise there’s nothing to stop another guy coming along and running the first guy through with a sword/shooting him and saying “Well, now it’s mine”.

        • Spookykou says:

          Most models of ancap assume you buy into a legal/protection service. They protect the rights that you care to pay to have protected, and they enforce (or subcontract out the enforcement of) those rights. There could be disputes of ownership, but that would be resolved through your legal/protection service, and the service of the claimant against your property, similar to how it might be resolved in civil courts in America today.

          To the more philosophical issue of what legitimizes anyone to have property rights, I think that is generally on thin ice, and Ancapistan might be seeing cracks beneath its feet, but they could just hand wave it and fall back on the authority of w/e bodies gave you property rights before you came into Ancapistan, and then tracking transfers of ownership after being in Ancapistan.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Most models of ancap assume you buy into a legal/protection service. They protect the rights that you care to pay to have protected, and they enforce (or subcontract out the enforcement of) those rights. There could be disputes of ownership, but that would be resolved through your legal/protection service, and the service of the claimant against your property, similar to how it might be resolved in civil courts in America today.

            Two large-scale protection services (in Ancapistan, this would not be a sector for mom-and-pop scale players) with differing ideas about who owns a piece of land sounds like something that would be resolved similarly to a war, not civil arbitration.

          • Spookykou says:

            @Anonymous Bosch

            That depends on the value of the land(or any other contested asset) and the cost of the war, I think the argument normally goes that it should be cheaper and easier to resolve things with civil arbitration, and being known as somebody who will settle things by civil arbitration increases your chances of future business.

            Consider China constantly contesting ownership of basically every island anywhere near them, and how often that has devolved into war, or the US navy being used to stop China from invading Taiwan at the onset of the Korean war. The greater danger is conflicts between a large protection service and a small one, China invading Taiwan without America stepping in.

        • @Deiseach:

          Property rights long predate the existence of the state. In a primitive form, territorial behavior, they even predate our species. In both cases they are maintained by a network of commitment strategies.

      • Deiseach says:

        now everyone has access to super-low cost capital that produces on command provided there are available resources

        (a) PROVIDED being the relevant part here; what’s to stop things like the enclosure of common land for greater efficiency by wealthier people? Or simply the richer people buy the good land/more of it at the start, leaving those with fewer resources to pick over what’s left, which is going to be less productive/have fewer desirable resources?

        (b) so everyone makes a living taking in everyone else’s washing, or there’s a barter economy – I grow wheat on my land and trade you a bushel for the milk from your cows? Otherwise, everyone is making iPhones with their robot servants and trying to sell them to each other – unless they’re selling them to other countries abroad, and then they’re spending all their money importing the necessities of life that nobody is producing because making iPhones is economically more efficient and profitable

        • Spookykou says:

          I assume the robot servants idea is one of two things.

          Either it is modeled more on Robert Hanson’s ‘Ems’ and they are farming cryptocurrency, writing useful plugins, or maybe leveling league of legends accounts.

          Or maybe it is supposed to be more like ‘The Feed’ from Diamond Age, an evolution of 3d printing/half step to star trek replicator technology, that just lets you make anything you want.

          In either case, all they actually achieve is something like a UBI in a state without actual welfare, in response to (b).

          In response to (a) these things are not scarce so richer people have no reason to buy them from you. If the original idea actually requires some kind of scarce physical resource, then it could still be defended on the grounds of UBI. Part of the problem is that in the modern world we conflate ‘helping the poor live’ with ‘helping the poor get out of poverty’. The rich in this scenario might buy the land and rent it to the poor, but this would still give the poor access to the land they need to make their living. They won’t be able to lend against capital they don’t own and so will never be able to expand their ‘business’ beyond subsistence. I imagine most ancap proponents don’t feel any real obligation to help the poor boot strap themselves out of poverty though, so it is a non-issue to the majority of proponents.

        • Tekhno says:

          @Deiseach

          (a) PROVIDED being the relevant part here; what’s to stop things like the enclosure of common land for greater efficiency by wealthier people? Or simply the richer people buy the good land/more of it at the start, leaving those with fewer resources to pick over what’s left, which is going to be less productive/have fewer desirable resources?

          Well, personally I’m a filthy statist and not an ancap so public land wouldn’t be bought out like that. I was more arguing from the perspective of a more decentralized society which has greater ability to try ancap somewhere as onyomi wants. I don’t think anarcho-capitalism is plausible strictly speaking but it’s going to be a lot more plausible if every little bit of capital can produce more capital without the human element of skill discrepancies coming into it.

          As for the rich buying everything at the “start of it”. There is no “start”, it’s just the slow transition from now, to then, and I do suggest the government put in place a basic income guarantee to help us through technological unemployment. With that people would be able to buy into some capital to start with before things get crazy.

          Personally – again as a filthy statist – I’m not opposed to redistributing land, under drastic circumstances, so if it became a problem, I’d want something done about it. I don’t see that it would be more of a problem in the future, however, but less of a problem since every little bit of money that the poor have goes a lot further since they can own low cost automatic capitalists to gain them further returns, so at least the degree of income inequality that is due to some people being smarter than others should decrease. It’s essentially the dream of the distributists minus the rustic Catholicism.

          (b) so everyone makes a living taking in everyone else’s washing, or there’s a barter economy – I grow wheat on my land and trade you a bushel for the milk from your cows? Otherwise, everyone is making iPhones with their robot servants and trying to sell them to each other – unless they’re selling them to other countries abroad, and then they’re spending all their money importing the necessities of life that nobody is producing because making iPhones is economically more efficient and profitable

          Why would nobody be producing the necessities of life just cause Iphones? Today we don’t have a problem with this, and I’m not seeing why that aspect would be any different.

    • cassander says:

      The trouble is that in a non-anarchist world, Ancapistan is an irresistible magnet for drugs, prostitution, money laundering, and various other vices, which ensures that governments (and righteously indignant voters) will be eager to smash it to pieces if it ever gets off the ground.

      • Spookykou says:

        Well, that might encourage economic sanctions or w/e we do to north korea, possibly on the host nation as well which would be a problem, but even if it became a den of child sex trafficking I don’t think anyone would actually ‘smash it’. The only justification that I can see, at least for the US doing targeted drone strikes would be ‘good intelligence’ that terrorists are there. Its not like we drop bombs on normal countries that have child sex trafficking in them.

        Although I could see this as a strong argument for why non-anarchist world might try to prevent you from starting A-C city in the first place.

        • Montfort says:

          The reasons we haven’t “smashed” DPRK yet are basically 1) they have a large conventional military placed very close to large population centers, 2) they have WMDs and are sufficiently unstable to give us reason to think they would use them on the nearby large population centers, 3) DPRK has some modicum of legitimacy in the eyes of the international community (I know, not a whole lot, but more than Ancapistan-in-Wyoming), 4) DPRK is rather large, and would be expensive to smash, and 5) China does not want a border with RoK. None of these are likely to apply to A-i-W by the time the drug cartels start getting frisky.

          • Spookykou says:

            DPRK is formally at war with a country that we have a mutual defense treaty with, and we don’t take any overt action against them for the reasons you are stating.

            Columbia is a den of drug lords and Indonesia has child sex slave trafficking, we are not smashing any of them. Still I totally agree that the A – i – W would never work, I assumed we had moved onto Ancapistan, charter city in Kiribati or some place similar.

            Edit: my mistake on the A – i – W, cassander was responding to onyomi not David

          • Montfort says:

            I see. Yeah, Ancapistan somewhere else has much more to fear from their host nation and immediate neighbors than the long arm of America (barring, of course, terrorism, WMD activity, etc).

          • John Schilling says:

            Columbia and Indonesia have governments that pass laws saying that drug trafficking and sex slavery are illegal, and enforce those laws well enough to prevent either of those trades from being efficiently industrialized.

            That’s 90% of the battle right there, a thing which goes unnoticed because there are no contrasting examples of a nation where drug trafficking or sexual slavery are industrialized in the way that e.g. electronics or textile manufacturing are. We settle for that 90% with a stern glare, and don’t send in the army to break the institutions that are handling the 90% for us.

          • Spookykou says:

            Good point John.

            Still it seems like it would be, difficult? to sell the modern first world on an aggressive war against some sort of slave state on 100% moral objections. I could see every other form of sanctioning approved, but aggressive war without some pretext of legitimate threat outside the sphere of their own influence. I mean we might manufacture evidence of such a threat and then go to war, but I think we might still need that pretext. I could be wrong though, there does not seem to be a great modern example, except maybe DPRK, and they have nukes.

          • John Schilling says:

            Even if Ancapistan doesn’t become some terrorist group’s operating base, exporting or transshipping drugs to civilized nations will be A: incredibly lucrative and B: necessarily associated with organized criminal violence on the receiving end.

            The bit where Ancapistan is sending the US not only drugs, but armies of trained killers who shoot people on the streets of America, will be all the pretext necessary to at least put a swarm of Predators on permanent overflight.

          • onyomi says:

            “The bit where Ancapistan is sending the US not only drugs, but armies of trained killers who shoot people on the streets of America, will be all the pretext necessary to at least put a swarm of Predators on permanent overflight.”

            Of course, the worst outcome of all from the government’s perspective is for ancapistan to turn out to be surprisingly boring, orderly, and peaceful.

          • Spookykou says:

            @onyomi

            That is particularly hard to imagine. Even given all of your assumptions about how ancap would work, it would in any large enough population naturally form a large underclass of illiterate and deeply poor people, right?

            The combination of, no child labor laws (no customers do not stop using a company because it uses unethical business practices, at least not in anything even kind of like reality in anything kind of like the number necessary to discourage the practice)

            No compulsory education (It seems hard to imagine an ancap education system that captures more than 50% of the population currently enrolled in education, when the schools have to be for profit, and parents are not required to send their children)

            This creates a system that used to be standard, where in having children is actually profitable/cost neutral for parents, as they can have their children work at relatively young ages, and have no care obligations beyond sustaining life until a working age. As such it seems obvious that this underclass of poor workers and their children will both grow in size and drop in education as things run on.

            Outside of technological progress fundamentally changing the nature of these institutions, it seems obvious that even in an ideal ancap world, a growing uneducated underclass would be the natural result. I doubt anyone in the first world would consider that ‘boring’ or ‘orderly’ or even, by some definitions ‘peaceful’.

            Edit: Tekhno seems to also be making a similar point in other places on this thread.

          • onyomi says:

            “it seems obvious that even in an ideal ancap world, a growing uneducated underclass would be the natural result.”

            All I can say is that that is not at all obvious to me. Given that money spent on education+education requirements=/=people actually being educated. What you describe seems to apply quite well to the United States today, where we are currently debating whether to make preschool and/or college mandatory and/or free?

          • Spookykou says:

            @onyomi

            Given that money spent on education+education requirements=/=people actually being educated. What you describe seems to apply quite well to the United States today, where we are currently debating whether to make preschool and/or college mandatory and/or free?

            Hmmm, I was not aware that the number of illiterate and uneducated where growing in the United States? Note, that when I say uneducated, I mean, no formal education of any kind. I do not mean, ‘didn’t attend the best preschool’ or ‘didn’t go to college’.

            This is just very confusing to me. You do not even try to address the idea of parents simply not sending their children to school because they could send them to work.

            But, even ignoring that whole idea.

            This is intended as a response to the comment on an Ancap education system not capturing as many people as our current education system?

            Seeing as how at least some population of people currently wish they did not have to send their kids to school/are irresponsible enough not to care if their kids go to school, besides that they would be in violation of government mandates and their kids go to school, because of such mandates.

            Well it seems, ‘obvious’, that the total number of people enrolled in some form of formal education would go down without free public education(Note that the populations I am talking about are the poor they get back all of the tax money that they put in so they are not ‘paying’ for their current school in any fashion), and compulsory education.

          • Brad says:

            Of course, the worst outcome of all from the government’s perspective is for ancapistan to turn out to be surprisingly boring, orderly, and peaceful.

            This attitutude kind of reminds me of the parable of Ultima Online. It was a beautiful game, there was a ton of enthusiasm for it when it launched, and it had a lot of engaging gameplay. But the developers had a philosophical objection to dealing with griefers and so didn’t. Players hated being victimized by griefers and so largely abandoned the game.

            A similar story can be told about the early internet and the genesis of what turned out to be very flawed protocols, flaws which have massive reprecussions to this day. Though in that case there is an argument that it was more a failure of imagination than philosophical objections.

          • onyomi says:

            I’m not sure I understand the comparison.

          • “It seems hard to imagine an ancap education system that captures more than 50% of the population currently enrolled in education, when the schools have to be for profit, and parents are not required to send their children”

            You might want to read West’s book Education and the Industrial Revolution. Early in the 19th century, before either compulsory schooling or free public schools in England, children in English cities whose parents were enormously poorer than the modern poor were getting about the same amount of schooling as children in contemporary Prussia where schooling was compulsory and state provided.

            You might also want to read James Tooley’s The Beautiful Tree, which describes the private schooling currently consumed on a mass scale by very poor people in the third world. In India, there are free public schools–at which the teachers often don’t show up and kids end up sitting on the floor due to a lack of chairs. There are legal restrictions on private schools, in particular the requirement that they pay teachers the same salaries as the public schools, which means in practice that it is illegal to produce private schooling at a cost ordinary Indians, who are poor, can afford.

            There are also a very large number of private schools producing such schooling illegally. It’s a pretty clear case of the government involvement in schooling resulting in less of it for the mass of the population, not more. And similar patterns, I think without the illegality, exist in much of Africa.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            This is just very confusing to me. You do not even try to address the idea of parents simply not sending their children to school because they could send them to work.

            I do think that Ancap is unrealistic an many ways, but this is not one of them. Even in today’s world, we count on parent’s mostly looking out for the interests of their kids. Who do you expect to care more about kids, their parents or a civil servant paid to take care of them? I don’t see how giving the power of education to government more than parents results in better education for the kids.

          • No compulsory education (It seems hard to imagine an ancap education system that captures more than 50% of the population currently enrolled in education, when the schools have to be for profit, and parents are not required to send their children)

            This creates a system that used to be standard, where in having children is actually profitable/cost neutral for parents, as they can have their children work at relatively young ages, and have no care obligations beyond sustaining life until a working age

            A lot of libertarian ideas amount to recreating the conditions of the early industrial revolution. Actually, worse, if you plug in 21st century population densities. Children aren’t going to be able to do agricultural work like they used, and there won’t be much need for factory fodder. Check out a third world city for the likely result.

        • John Schilling says:

          (It seems hard to imagine an ancap education system that captures more than 50% of the population currently enrolled in education, when the schools have to be for profit, and parents are not required to send their children)

          I’m going to push back on this one. The United States didn’t have state-supported schools until the mid-19th century, give or take, yet achieved at IIRC in New England ~90% literacy and ~70% education through at least the eighth-grade level. And that in an time and place where the dominant industry was preindustrial agriculture; I’d expect contemporary parents to do far better. The idea that, absent state support, modern parents either could not or would not educate their children, seems as implausible as the idea that, absent state support, parents either would not or could not feed their children. Both food and (primary) education are viewed as essential to a positive life experience of the sort that even minimally loving parents demand for their children, and both are readily obtained in the free market.

          As for “schools have to be for profit”, perhaps you should explain that to the trustees of Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Oxford, and for that matter the University of Bologna. Non-profit schools are among the most enduring of human institutions, second only to the largest churches and frequently outliving governments. I would expect them to outlive un-governments just as well.

          One of my biggest complaints about statists, and one of the few for which I will even deign to use the term “statist”, is the smug assumption that the only alternative to “The Government Takes Care Of It” is “Some Greedy Corporation Turns It Into a Mere Profit Center”. There are many other choices, and in the particularly vital area of education, there are many choices that have shown themselves generally superior to either governments or for-profit corporations.

          • Spookykou says:

            I worked at an elementary school where the student body was, probably, 90%+ bellow the poverty line. The parents were consistently about 15 years older than their children, did not have much of an education, and did not care much about their children’s ‘education’ (What I mean here is that they cared about their kid behaving well and going to school, but the extent to which they were actually interested in the expanding of their children’s minds, well it was dubious)

            I will admit that 50% might be off the mark, but when people living in their car with their three children are debating sending their kids to school where they have to pay some amount of money for admission, or sending them to work, its not hard for me to imagine them picking the latter.

            I would agree that cultural norms as they exist now would encourage a lot of these parents to try and maintain education for their kids, but I imagine this problem growing. The population that did end up taking their kids out of school/putting them to work, would also be a very high growth population, becoming a bigger and bigger group over time.

            I didn’t mean, big evil for profit corporations, I was mostly trying to capture the idea that schools might not be the most robust industry, and it might be hard to maintain schools for some populations without subsidizes.

            I hardly think you can compare Harvard to, random Elementary schools in the poorest neighborhoods in America. I can imagine an ancap education system that manages to have a decent range of schools for a decent number of people, but when you are talking about populations that in america receive financial aid, free school, free food, again its hard for me to imagine a sustainable private school system without it being subsidized.

            Edit: Also from what I understand New England had a strong selection bias for puritans who had a very strong cultural norm for education that in my estimation might well go beyond some modern populations of Americans.

            Second Edit: Consider India, with free/compulsory education, and 37% of the worlds illiterate adults. I am not saying the private school systems would not be good for a decent number of people, just that they would capture a ‘significantly’ smaller number of the population than the free+compulsory combo does, and this population probably grows quicker than the population of the rest of the ‘nation’.

          • Spookykou says:

            there are many choices that have shown themselves generally superior to either governments or for-profit corporations.

            I think there are tons of systems for education that could be better. I even think that the government run education system, that I am familiar with, has lots of problems, private schools are generally better, etc.

            However, reading SSC has made me doubt the impact of education systems in general, maybe dramatically better schools would generate clear results, but what we have now is a confusing mess.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Spookykou

            I recommend this Econ talk podcast with James Tooley, where he talks about ultra cheap private schooling in India that outperforms public schooling: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2014/12/james_tooley_on.html

            Education can be done on the cheap, particularly with the ubiquity of the Internet and the possibilities of free online courses from the worlds best educators.

            Are you willing to part with your own money to help those that would struggle to pay for their child’s education? Do you think many other people are willing to help? If so, even those that would struggle to pay for inexpensive education would be able to have schooling for their kids.

          • John Schilling says:

            I will admit that 50% might be off the mark, but when people living in their car with their three children are debating sending their kids to school where they have to pay some amount of money for admission, or sending them to work, its not hard for me to imagine them picking the latter.

            Sending them off to work where? This isn’t the 19th or even 20th century; there’s not much a subliterate adolescent can do that can’t be done faster, better, cheaper and with much less backtalk by a machine. Anyone with the means and foresight (or external assistance) to get their children to adolescence alive, will have the means/foresight/assistance to recognize that the payoff is much better if you get them at least a proper eighth-grade education along the way.

            And, yes, there will be local non-profit organizations that provide that service at cost or below for non-mercenary reasons, in roughly the same way that e.g. Harvard does but with less ivy.

            The question for Ancapistania is, if you can send your twelve-year-old kid off to work and pocket your wages, can you enter into a privately-enforceable contract to send your six-year-old off to work in Mr. Scrooge’s Satanic Mills when he turns twelve, in return for Scrooge paying the kid’s tuition (and maybe a taste for mom and dad) between now and then? There are some ugly possibilities there. But ugly in a way that still results in almost everybody being tolerably well educated.

          • Spookykou says:

            @IrishDude

            I have no idea how the numbers work out, but maybe somebody who knows could chime in. How do private donations to educational charities stack up against government educational spending.

            I generally accept that private school systems could be more efficient/cheaper to run than public schools funded by the government. However it seems to me that they would have to be dramatically more efficient to be a stable (even non-profit) business model, when the population of students are all already from the chronically poor.

            In general I think quality of education is vague, but there are some fundamental skills that seem profoundly important, literacy and the most basic math standing out in my estimation.

            Now, it is very hard for me to imagine any combination of ideas that would have a better chance of insuring literacy and basic math skills than ‘Free Compulsory Education’.

            I imagine that people who do not get literacy and basic math skills, would be more likely to send their kids to work rather than school, and more likely to have more kids.

            The only way I can envision an Ancap world without this ‘problem’ would be if they managed to eradicate poverty in general, otherwise it just seems like a natural result of the system.

          • Spookykou says:

            @John Schilling

            This seems to assume child labor on the factory floor, instead of just using them as busboys and other small business menial labor, or manual labor in general. Sure they are worse than adults, but you can also pay them way less. Most family run business illegally?? employ child labor currently, in the form of their children helping out. It seems trivially false that child labor is defacto eradicated by the modern economy.

            I think you drastically over estimate the skills needed to get a child to adolescence, but I also imagine you have not found yourself in the position of calling child services very often? These parents are children themselves, with an eighth grade education.

            Your last argument is very strong though, and seems like a reasonable ancap solution to a growing illiterate underclass. Assuming it works with whatever contrived ‘children’s rights’ exist.

          • “Consider India, with free/compulsory education, and 37% of the worlds illiterate adults. ”

            And restrictions on private schools that make it illegal to produce schooling at a price which poor people can pay. Despite which there are lots of illegal private schools whose customers are poor people willing to pay to get their kids the schooling that the free public schools don’t actually provide.

            Read The Beautiful Tree to see the enormous gap between your picture of education in poor countries and the reality. The Kindle only costs $1.99.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @John Schilling

            I agree that in modern society, with readily available cheap instructional materials and other sources of information, and the proven success of home-schooling and no-schooling in general (there will always be bad parents in any sufficiently large sample), that maintaining a system of compulsory public education is ‘the state’s’ weakest argument.

            Just as state and federal labor laws undercut a lot of the need for unions, so has the digital age’s creation of a vast and largely free digital library and network undercut the need for state-controlled education.

          • Spookykou says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I will readily admit that my understand of the system in India is not in depth, but,

            And restrictions on private schools that make it illegal to produce schooling at a price which poor people can pay. Despite which there are lots of illegal private schools whose customers are poor people willing to pay to get their kids the schooling that the free public schools don’t actually provide.

            If this is the situation, then that is a serious problem in India, but not a systemic problem with my basic argument. Free Compulsory Education, assumes normal meanings of Free, Compulsory, and Education. If the Indian system is free and compulsory but does not actually provide an education, then that is clearly a problem. The situation in India was hardly my primary argument though, just a foot note about a very large very poor and very uneducated population that was having trouble making progress on literacy. Actually the reality of the situation is almost vindicating, because in theory India is a poor case for my position.

            In any event, thank you for the book recommendation, I will check it out.

          • Spookykou says:

            @everyone

            It seems that a major disconnect here is from my personal experience, which might make me overly pessimistic, but I think some of you are a bit overly optimistic. Talking about free education resources, and home schooling, I can only imagine that you have never spent any time in a poor school, and know nothing about the people who live that life. Their parents are working at least two jobs, they have no computer, and three families are living in a two bedroom apartment together. The idea of these families home schooling, or these kids going to Khan academy on their free time to learn, just, I am sorry but it would sound totally ridiculous to you if you had spent any time with them.

            I am reminded of a particular student, who lived half the time in a car with her mother, missed school constantly, and had two younger siblings. She could write though, really write, this ten year old could write better than most the kids in my high school. She didn’t learn a lot from school, but she learned how to read, and how to write, and it gave her access to books which she read constantly. If her mom had the option to take her to work with her as a maid, making a few extra bucks, maybe enough to pay the rent…I don’t know.

            Maybe I am over blowing the issue, and these ‘bad parents’ are a rounding error that would never actually grow into a noticeable population.

            This is hardly the best or even a strong argument for statism. The only reason I brought it up is because it seemed ‘obvious’ to me, that even assuming every other aspect of ancap worked, the population I had experience with, minus free compulsory education, would have considerably more kids not receiving a basic education. Which would result in a uneducated underclass, which might not be that big of a problem in and of itself, but would not be considered ‘boring’ by western democracy.

          • onyomi says:

            @Spooky

            If I seem overly optimistic about the possibilities for private education, it is probably largely a function of my extreme skepticism of the functionality of the education system we have now, public and private.

            That is, it’s not so much that I imagine poor kids are going to get an amazing education through Khan Academy, etc., but rather that I have such a low estimation of our current outcomes, especially when considered against the cost (in money and time), that it’s almost hard to imagine it being much worse.

            I am probably underestimating how much worse it could be, since at least most people can read and write, but when college students don’t know the answers to questions like “who is the current vice president?” and “who won the Civil War?” I kind of do wonder how much worse it could be.

            Put another way, given opportunity costs, I think most people in America spend far too long in education in general. Since it seems to be impossible to make most people care about the vice president no matter how much money you spend, better to let people start training and doing real jobs earlier (and when people are studying/training with a real job in mind they tend to take it a lot more seriously, of course, than when learning in a vacuum of abstraction).

          • Spookykou says:

            @onyomi I think there could definitely be an issue here of different goals, and fundamentally different ideas. I might have wasted a lot of time because I was not clear enough from the start.

            The public education system, and education in general in America is an inefficient nightmare(I think most people who have worked in it would agree).

            But how effective/important education is in general is not clear to me. So I am not sure if the system can be improved(produce ‘smarter?’ people) by much of anything, but it could obviously be made cheaper, less time consuming, and more efficient.

            The one clear ‘good’ that I see is insuring that almost everyone get at least a basic education.

            But really importantly here, I am not actually saying that out weighs the bad.

            I could totally believe that an An cap education system would be demonstrably better, on net way more good than bad, really affordable for most people, good outcomes all around.

            My only real point was that, as a side effect of an An Cap education system, these ‘at risk’ people that I worked with, would be in considerably more…risk, of falling off the education playing field, having their kids work instead of get an education, and they would grow up, have kids, and have them work instead of getting an education, etc etc. Until you have a clearly defined ‘underclass’ of people in your ancap utopia. This underclass, even if not actually that much worse off than poor people in america, would prevent Ancapistan from being ‘boring’ in the eyes of the rest of the world.

            Which, I thought, was a pretty mild position.

            Edit: The 50% bit is probably a big problem. Blatant scope insensitive, or some similar bias,on my part and wildly off base.

          • onyomi says:

            “The one clear ‘good’ that I see is insuring that almost everyone get at least a basic education.”

            What do you see as the components of a “basic education”? I guess my point is that, whatever you might suggest as a fundamental part of a “basic education,” I imagine most people who go through 12 years of schooling today don’t really have it, or, to the extent they do, it’s because of personal interest, not because of compulsory schooling.

            Related, if you got a team of education experts together to make a list of the “bare minimum” knowledge every US citizen should possess, they’d come up with a list of knowledge almost no one, myself included, has all of.

            I guess my point is today, if you’re into e. g. world history, there are plenty of free ways to learn about it. If you’re not, we can send you to the best prep schools and you’ll probably forget it soon after graduation.

            That is, my view of learning is that we’re already far, far past the point where actual access to information is a limiting factor and well into territory, even for the poor of the US, where time, interest, inclination, motivation, etc. are the limiting factors.

            I do think you’d get more weird/interesting subcultures in ancapistan, because I do think the current public education system does kind of feed everyone a sort of homogenized “universal culture” on Scott’s definition. Maybe you see the education system’s true function as a kind of facilitator of cultural unity among hundreds of millions of diverse people. I think it sort of kind of serves that function today, but not liking the results of that function myself, I wouldn’t be too worried to see it go.

          • Spookykou says:

            Yes this could be one of our big disconnects here, for basic education, I am talking literacy and basic math, addition subtraction multiplication and division.

          • onyomi says:

            “literacy and basic math, addition subtraction multiplication and division”

            This is getting more into a discussion of education than charter cities or ancap, but do you think there are a lot of people in the US who do have these skills but who wouldn’t have them but for mandatory and publicly funded education? (non-rhetorical question) How much time do you think is a reasonable amount of time for someone of average-ish intelligence and not much background (family didn’t read to them, buy them “educational” toys, etc.) to acquire these skills? (also not rhetorical, but I’m hoping the answer is less than 10 years, 9 months a year, 7 hours a day)

            Getting a little further afield still, to what extent do you think it is critical that one learn these skills as children? I feel like a lot of the time spent educating children is thus spent on the theory that children, though they’re actually not very quick learners of most subjects, have basically nothing better to do than learn skills we hope they’ll need later. But I also sort of feel like if you took an alternate universe adult version of me who never learned fractions, which, if I recall, took the better part of third grade for our class, you could teach it to me in an afternoon. I might be very wrong about that. Maybe I would find basic math super hard now if I hadn’t been forced to sit through hours and hours of it as a kid.

          • Spookykou says:

            @onyomi

            I am totally confident that there are people in america today who only have these skills due to compulsory education.

            I worked as a TA in Fourth and Fifth grade classrooms, and I would often work with small groups of the low performing students. These ten-eleven year olds had a very wide range of academic ability, but none of them where considered ‘special needs’ by the school district (Although that process is probably flawed). Working with these students many of them did not know single digit multiplication and division, things that I had learned years ago in first grade. They struggled to read books of the, single sentence and picture variety.

            From my perspective, the struggles of these students are mostly ‘parent effect’ and language effect. I went to an upper middle class elementary school, with parents who saw the value of education. The school I taught at was one of the bottom for my district, 30-40% ESL 99% Hispanic. The teacher I worked for, used to teach at the elementary school that I went to. In her opinion the biggest difference between the two schools was student home life. She was a top performer at both schools, well I have to take her word for my school, but our classroom saw the biggest growth in test scores from year to year of all the classes in our grade level.

            I think it is important to understand that this is not a question of poor people not loving or caring about their kids, it is more of a cultural issue I guess, which might relate back to your comment on subcultures. In general I agree with you that would not be a problem, but when a unifying aspect of your subculture is ‘no education’. Then that will stand out to the world at large, starts looking like a caste system, etc.

            I actually called the teacher I worked with, to refresh my memory and ask their opinion on this conversation. They, like me, agree that almost every aspect of a more private education system would be better than what we have now. I then mentioned the thought experiment of an education system with zero government regulation or intervention, no compulsory attendance, and asked how she thought that would have effected the students we taught. She scoffed and said ‘What students, their parents would all take them to work with them.’ this was without me mentioning any of the other aspects of ancap, or the fact that there would be no child labor laws. Obviously this is anecdata, but the relative value of ‘education’ for these parents who mostly dropped out of high school, is just not the same. They wouldn’t think of it as performing a great harm to their children by denying them education. They would be training them to do the work they do, which in their opinion would be more valuable.

            There is, in theory nothing ‘wrong’ with this idea from the parents.

            It does however get back to my main point.

            These ‘tradesmen’ in an ancap society, who care more about their child learning their craft(maid, day-laborer, etc) then the education system, don’t think they are denying their child anything, and maybe they are right, maybe education would have had little impact on their life outcomes, etc.

            But, an illiterate servile class of people who start working when they are children and never attend school, would stand out by modern western democracy standards, which would preclude an ancap society looking ‘boring’ to them.

          • yet achieved at IIRC in New England ~90% literacy and ~70% education through at least the eighth-grade level

            Protestant religion was very influential in achieving that.

            I do think you’d get more weird/interesting subcultures in ancapistan

            I’ll say. Who’s more motivated to provide free education than a cult or religion?

          • “Free Compulsory Education, assumes normal meanings of Free, Compulsory, and Education. If the Indian system is free and compulsory but does not actually provide an education, then that is clearly a problem.”

            As you will see from the book, it isn’t just India. In much of the third world, poor parents pay to send their children to private schools despite the existence of free public schools. That’s evidence of how bad the public schools are. But it’s also evidence of two other things–that schooling can be produced at a cost much less than the cost of U.S. public schooling and that parents are willing to make what are, for them, substantial sacrifices in order to get their children educated.

            Arguing “It is desirable for the state to do X well” isn’t an argument for the state doing X unless you have a reason to expect it to do it well.

    • gronald says:

      I agree with you that people should be free to try out new forms of government. Our existing forms of government have a lot of problems, and it would be really awesome if people tried a new thing and got it to work.

      I don’t think having a larger nation protect this new nation would lead to a good test. The most important part of being a nation is having your act together enough to protect your citizenry, both from external and internal threats. Upthread you argued: “it might very well not be long before it’s safer than most American cities.” With the same logic, can you argue: “it might very well not be long before this new nation had a reliable military and could stand on its own”?

      I agree with others that this hypothetical nation is at grave risk of having organized crime move in and take over and start exporting drugs and terrorism. It sounds like a super bad idea to share a border with this place.

      I think this hypothetical nation should get an island. There are some “US Minor Outlying Islands” which might be good fits, but honestly you can just buy an island if you have the money. Rich people do it fairly often, apparently, and they don’t get murdered by pirates.

      • John Schilling says:

        But honestly you can just buy an island if you have the money. Rich people do it fairly often, apparently, and they don’t get murdered by pirates.

        Buying islands, yes. Buying sovereignty, no. Buying e.g. an entire US Minor Outlying Islands puts you in approximately the same legal position as buying a large cattle ranch in Wyoming; you own real estate that is part of the United States of America and subject to US law, and you will wind up in US federal prison if you decide to use that land for growing opium poppies. As will anyone else who decides to stage a piratical raid on said island. Having the bounds of “your” plot defined by a high-tide line rather than a surveyors’ mark is of zero legal significance; being sufficiently isolated that the cops need a boat or helicopter to meddle in your affairs will get you a little bit of extra latitude but don’t push it.

        Same goes for buying an island from any other country. If they are corrupt enough not to care what you do on their island so long as the briefcase has enough Benjamins, you can get the same deal on a mainland plot. But don’t do anything that would have the UN sending in peacekeepers, because those guys love meddling in little third-world kleptocracies with loads of “human rights violations” and no real armies to fight back.

    • Dahlen says:

      As much as I may sympathise with this perspective… If you want to turn this into a good idea, you have to think about it realistically and in detail.

      When there’s a small civilian group wanting to enclose a certain land area and declare secession from the nation-state owning the land, the power imbalance is HUGE. You can barely even talk of a negotiation between two parties, which would be the only frame in which the small civilian group has a snowflake’s chance in hell to get its way. As far as the state + the rest of the population are concerned, this is just a case of Our Government enforcing Our Laws (generally the first article of the constitution of the country) against random loons. If this is how things are viewed even in the case of ethnic separatist groups with a historical basis (the Basque and Catalan populations in Spain, the Kurds, the Szekely Hungarians in Transylvania, Tibet, etc.), imagine a fringe ideological group making the same demands, but with all the extra legal complications that come from a wildly different conception of the very basics of statecraft, law, economy, etc. There is no question about it. Any state would say no, never, never ever in a million years, forget about it, guards, escort these crazy people out.

      Rights don’t mean a thing. Rights are not the proper way in which to approach this, except to create popular ideological support. The only rights you can claim against the state are those which it grants you. (They, too, were made into law by accumulation of popular ideological support.) States don’t do such dumb things that erode their sovereignty in the name of rights. Considerations which take precedence are entirely practical matters relating to the “how” of neutralisation, not to the “whether”. State opposition is a function of how big of a hassle or threat the separatists would be (and how many times cheaper repression is), which tends to have an inverse U-shape – they’ll do nothing to five families living off-the-grid and not engaging in much of any contact with the outside world, they’ll intensely fight moderately large and well-organised violent separatist groups, and they’ll capitulate to overwhelming opposition.

      Best-case scenario that doesn’t require intentional communities to be either utterly irrelevant or Literally a Nation-State, the separatist community bends over backwards to maximise the benefit to the nation-state, take care of all expenses internally and clean up after everything and everyone. In other words, it pays tribute. Not only that, but: it formulates treaties with all relevant parties that ensure international legal compatibility whenever people, goods, or institutions cross borders, which the nation-states in question can accept or reject; it includes in said treaties laws that ensure that they too will take care of whatever kind of organised crime and negative externality that the sovereign state wants taken care of (so, stuff like money laundering, drug trafficking, pollution etc.), and in addition guarantees that immigrating and setting up shop in the micronation will not be a trivial or unenforceable process; it buys the land, buys the capital, basically pays its way into legitimacy, no “expropriating”, no “confiscating”, no “nationalising”, and definitely no violence; it sets up a trade policy that heavily benefits the sovereign state and impairs the micronation; it agrees not to have any sort of armed forces, or (orders of magnitude less likely) it engages in a “mutual defence treaty” that’s code for having an army but no legitimate control over it. Why all of this? Because, even assuming the sovereign state doesn’t violently repress the budding micronation, it does have the power to refuse to trade with it or impose prohibitive tariffs, or “enforce strong border control” against what would probably be an enclave, essentially trapping the residents in there. Have I mentioned that, to even get to the point of being graciously allowed to pay tribute, one must have superhuman coordination mechanisms, an excellent strategy, tons upon tons of money, very politically astute leadership, and some sort of hard power or another (friends in high places, some at least theoretical capabilities for armed uprising and territorial defence enough to make repression costly, control over an important industry, support from an external nation-state, >20% approval ratings among the electorate, etc. etc.)?

      So let’s say that all of these concessions manage to appease the sovereign state from the point of view of hard power ceded by a very small territorial loss. That still won’t bring down the other barrier – matters of principle, pride, precious ideological hegemony, propaganda, and a whole lot of other p-s. From the moment that the very first such community is officially granted permission to exist, dozens of other sincere fringe movements and thousands of completely illegitimate “front” movements for terrorism or drug trafficking who just want the law to GTFO will sprout like mushrooms after a rainy day. The sovereign state will anticipate this from a mile and deny every such claim on this basis. Political groups that were beforehand powerless (because they were a small constituency, and it went without questioning that they had to obtain, democratically, a majority in order to get anywhere near power) now become a threat – every one of them. Liberal democracies with market economies were assumed to be the natural endpoint of any successful society and now, because of this “stupid right to try that all the nutcases now have”, that premise just disappeared. (Hypothetically speaking.) It’s a fucking can of worms. It doesn’t matter where one stands on this issue, whoever has eyes to see can agree that the proposal is a can of worms.

      I don’t think it’s easy to underestimate just how much many national governments care (collectively, notwithstanding one fringe claim of one major party or another) about the power to deny any alternative to liberal democratic republics with market economies and the associated features. It’s important not just in a realpolitik sense; sure, it greatly simplifies the game field by persistently excluding the possibility of some sets of rules, but it’s more than that. It’s important for social cohesion, for convincing different political factions to work together despite differences, for the very reason that they share the same country (once that premise is gone, there’s nothing aside from one’s own reason and conscience to moderate towards centrism and compromise). It validates a certain historical narrative and works towards legitimising the regime; it forms part of the national mythology. Consider the Cold War, and how difficult it would have been then to set up a credible small-c communist social experiment in the USA. Well, I’m still not convinced the powerful wouldn’t be opposed to something like that today, on the same Cold War ideological arguments.

      Having said that, the idea is not without merit, and I at the very least hope that it would be one of the fruitful terrains for movements for political freedom in the following decades, now that the entire earth officially belongs to some cluster of institutions or another. But let’s not underestimate the challenges that this poses. The state is like a hairy beast that roars in pain if you try to pull one single hair out of it, and I would say, for very good reasons too, from the mainstream perspective. Sovereignty is not willingly ceded, no matter how small a land area we’re talking, no matter how innocent the reasons, no matter how popular the support. It’s a basic fact about states. So chances are one won’t be able to form a movement around this cause.

      Related to this: Under ideal circumstances I favour descentralised communist experiments (I have some arguments relating to this which I think might be original, but won’t get into them here for flamewar/dogpiling reasons), but I really dislike how most ordinary radical leftists tell people to go global or go home; the idea of “socialism in one country” is widely derided amongst those circles. That’s unfortunate IMO, because I would say that nobody who doesn’t want socialism/communism deserves it inflicted upon them (in both senses of the word “deserve”), and anyway this kind of system doesn’t scale well and a lot of people just aren’t capable of following such norms. The Marxist doctrine has some rather rigid ideas regarding revolution, liberation, egalitarianism, and class struggle, which I think provide an impediment to any sort of real-world success of the bare-bones notion of their economic plan. A lot of working-class people vote conservative, and it just wouldn’t be moral to condescend to liberate them by forcing them into a system supposedly in their interest, but against their own conscience. So here’s one more reason why small-scale experiments appeal to me too.

      Will add possible later thoughts as separate comments, it’s a broad and interesting topic. Standard disclaimers (I may have said something objectively very wrong in here, I’m not very knowledgeable about this, etc.) apply.

    • Whats the practical barrier? Land ownership. Ironic.

  17. Deiseach says:

    I have no idea what exactly to say about this, other than it’s rather amazing and psshhht, forget AI, plants are where it’s at, man! 🙂

  18. This morning, on my way to work, I found myself wondering about the meaning of the word syzygy. It turns out there are many possible answers to that question.

  19. Deiseach says:

    Just started playing this game as an expansion to the main game (just out today). It’s basically a campaign to choose the new duke, since the old one died without an heir, leaving the Council to elect his successor on the feast of St Weowad, patron saint of the duchy.

    Or it could be an alternate spelling for St Wiomad, whose feast day is November 8th. The two main contenders? Hanna Eisig, perceived as a cold but intelligent and capable, if disliked, woman, and Dieter Horn, an ‘eccentric’ merchant who – I’ve been told by tavern gossip – founded a university that promised to teach the secrets of salesmanship (but which failed drastically and has now been turned into a brothel by the town authorities).

    Could there possibly be, do you think, any vague reference to real life events somewhere in the world? And who should I – as a neutral being wooed by both sides – throw my vote support behind? 🙂

  20. Whatever happened to Ialdabaoth?

  21. Deiseach says:

    At this stage everyone is probably sick to the back teeth of reading about The Emails, but this last effusion has done something nothing else has managed; it’s pushed me to accepting multiple genders. Because if I have to share a gender with the authoress (and I do mean “authoress”, because the lady is pleading that ladies should be given special treatment on account of being such delicate blossoms that need shielding from the rough winds of the world), I would prefer to be anything else. Can I be a tree? I’d like to be a tree, I have a favourite one picked out and everything!

    Lady Miss Dame Professoress Robin Lakoff lays aside the embroidery tambour to take up the pen (presumably one of Bic’s Pens for Her specially made to fit the dainty tiny fingers of the weaker sex) and plaintively sob how everyone is just being absolutely horrid to Hillary because she’s a girl!

    It is not because maybe perhaps conceivably just possibly it might be in some miniscule fashion Hillary et al have done something a teeny bit naughty or even just ill-considered, for that can never, ever be – Hillary is infallible and impeccable! No, the nasty big hairy men with their large rough hands, in their scratchy, mud-stained clothes smelling of cheap tobacco and strong drink are simply being mean because Hillary is a girl. And worse yet, they are being mean – using her as a proxy – to all girls everywhere! They think we should know our place and only sit demurely looking modest and thinking sweet, pure thoughts! (At this point, I’m sure the Lady Professoress Authoress had to have a little lie-down to recover, so overpowered was she by the unkindness of the mere notion).

    For feck’s sake. After preaching that women should be treated equally to men, and that women are as tough and capable as men, now you’re falling back on sexism as a defence? If you’re defending against an accusation, the proper response is “I didn’t do it”, not “You only say that because I’m a girl!”. Otherwise you’re selling the pass – you can’t stand over what happened, so you have to use distraction and diversionary tactics.

    Bah, humbug. If anyone wants me, I’ll be in the back garden, photosynthesising.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Which tree is your favorite?

    • John Schilling says:

      Lakoff: “Can you imagine this happening to a man?”

      A man like David Petraeus, or a thousand others less famous than he? We don’t have to imagine it, and that’s the point. We know how this story ends if there’s a man in the starring role. Quickly and uncontroversially, with a conviction and jail time or a plea bargain that has the starring player quietly slinking off stage permanently blackballed from government employment.

      And really, it’s the same ending if it is a woman other than Saint Hillary. The bit where, if you have the right family connections, you are above the laws that the Little People have to obey, is the single most offensive thing about Hillary Clinton’s entire career. Pretending that she deserves this relative leniency as some sort of gender-leveling affirmative action rather than as an entitlement for marrying into the royal family, just adds to the offense.

      • hlynkacg says:

        Exactly!

      • Randy M says:

        The protestations of sexism and racism are absurd on the face, since this is politics and rather high stakes. Republicans would be after any straight white male in the opposition party, because power is a zero sum game.

        Now perhaps they’re arguing that these particular attacks are used because the population is sexist, and more primed to accept these particular arguments because they think women should be kept from public life… but that really doesn’t seem the zeitgiest, does it?

      • Deiseach says:

        Imagine this was an affair involving one of the Republican candidates. The Dems would be all over it. Ms Lady Dame Professoress would be writing about the email scandal, except this time it wouldn’t be “you are trying to stifle speech!” but about how this proved the Republicans were all shifty, sleazy, untrustworthy cis het rich old Christian white men who thought they were a law unto themselves (you can sing the rest of the song yourselves, I’m sure). A Republican campaigner came out and said the FBI should bury it because otherwise they were being partisan? The indignation meters would all read off the scale!

        Special pleading about “don’t be nasty to ladies” is a bit rich, if we’re supposed to think Hillary is the equal in competence of a male politician, because men get this kind of “make hay of the opposition scandal if it can be at all pitched as a scandal”.

        Either women need special treatment (and not in an affirmative action way, in a “let us all be careful not to bruise the tender feelings of the delicate blossoms” way) or we don’t, we’re as capable of handling the pressures of the job as anyone. Which is it?

      • Controls Freak says:

        I’ve described this here before as “the refs swallowing the whistle on a 50/50 call in the third period of a playoff game”, and I’m rather fine with the no-indict.

        That being said, it is utterly and completely absurd to think that this shows a gender divide. It’s, “This is too politically sensitive for a 50/50,” through and through. As I mentioned in the story about the gyrocopter guy a while back, if you do something that they feel you should be punished for, they will look hard to find a way. If you have a weird situation that lets you evade standard punishments, they’ll try harder on non-standard routes.

        The standard punishment for Hillary’s behavior would be administrative sanctions – she’d be fired and her security clearance would be stripped. The weird situation that lets her evade this standard punishment is that she is no longer employed by the government in a position from which she can be fired and have her clearance stripped. Instead, she’s running for the position of Ultimate Classifier. I hypothesize an analogous situation (with a male or female) and without the political concerns. Suppose a former Secretary of the Treasury Department (they have classified law enforcement and intelligence elements) was found to have done the exact same things. However, this secretary has left their position and is not currently seeking a high-profile elected office. They’re immune to standard administrative sanctions. I would be willing to bet a large sum of money (well, large for someone like me) that DOJ would pursue a 50/50 case, even given the uncertainty in their legal theory.

  22. nancylebovitz says:

    In the interests of posting something which doesn’t suck and which isn’t highly hypothetical, behold A highly improved wheelchair, which is good for both dancing and daily life. It’s moving towards commercial production.

    • lhn says:

      I hope it works out. I remember similar articles about Dean Kamen’s stair-climbing wheelchair, which seems to have come to naught, but hopefully this one (assuming it lives up to the billing) will make it to production at a cost and reliability that makes it viable.

  23. nancylebovitz says:

    Just sort of a general point about AnCap: Government is a fairly new thing as human history goes. People managed without it for a very long time.

    I still need to finish reading The Art of Not Being Governed, which is about ungoverned regions. There’s a still a large one in the highlands of Southeast Asia, though it probably won’t last. It’s not a place where there are people who never developed large scale government, it’s a place for people who don’t want to live under any of the available governments, at least for now.

    I get the impression that AnCap is an effort to start a functioning anarchy from scratch rather than building it out from existing trust and custom.

    • Aapje says:

      Just sort of a general point about AnCap: Government is a fairly new thing as human history goes. People managed without it for a very long time.

      For a very long time, people lived in small groups, in low density. So there were inherently much fewer conflicts and much less dependency between the human race on a national or international level (and those terms were even meaningless).

      They may also have had local rulers, which technically can be called a government, although on a low level.

      Anyway, I’ll gladly concede that ancap might work if you kill most humans to bring down the density of humans to pre-national government levels & have people live in a level of poverty that was common then.

      However, ancappers seem to want it keep the level of wealth that we’ve achieved now. Your historical argument provides no evidence that this wealth can be achieved/maintained in an ancap society.

      • “For a very long time, people lived in small groups, in low density. ”

        James Scott, whose book Nancy was describing, agrees with you that there is a correlation between states and high density. But his causal link is that it is easier to rule, tax, and conscript a denser population.

        He thinks the situation is changing for the worse not because modern technology makes conflicts more likely in a stateless society but because improved transportation and communication technologies increase the range over which states can rule.

        • Aapje says:

          It is much easier to control people right now. We are not far from a situation where the government can track the location of every person and China is working very hard on that.

          This (and war robots) worries me, as it is currently impossible to oppress a population through merely ‘hard’ means, so all dictator states have to walk a tight rope between keeping people sufficiently happy and achieving their goals. In the future, dictator states may be much more stable than democracies, causing a gradual move to that state.

          Note that I don’t see ancap as a solution to this.

          • Some technological changes strengthen the state, some weaken it. Encryption and related online technologies are in the latter category. As I argued in a debate long ago, unregulated encryption is the modern equivalent of the second amendment, a way of reducing the relative power of the state–because our internal conflicts will be largely information wars.

            I’m going to be debating James Scott (on different versions of anarchy) in a little over a week. One of the things I hope to convince him of is that he is too pessimistic, looking at the ways in which technological change strengthens states but not the ways in which it weakens them.

          • IrishDude says:

            Will that debate be available online David?

      • keranih says:

        For a very long time, people lived in small groups, in low density. So there were inherently much fewer conflicts

        The data and historical records that I have been exposed to do not support the supposition that pre-Industrial/hunter-gatherer populations had lower numbers of conflicts.

        Fewer conflicts with n>X participants in the conflict, yes.

        Fewer conflicts overall, no.

        I have my quibbles with an-cap theory, and with the arguments against an-cap, but I don’t agree that a lower level of gubmint lowers inter-social violence.

        (Fatal plagues lower inter-social violence, by lowering the interactions with “people you hate”. So do famines, but the pre-die-off period is hard to manage.)

        • “I have my quibbles with an-cap theory, and with the arguments against an-cap, but I don’t agree that a lower level of gubmint lowers inter-social violence.”

          I think the argument was not that less government lowers violence but that lower population density lowers violence, hence lowers the need for government to prevent violence.

          As best I can tell, rising real incomes lower violence. At least, the data I have seen on British murder rates suggests a big decline over a very long period of time, during all of which there was a government.

          My impression is that if you compare stateless (Somaliland) or semi-stateless (saga period Iceland) societies to contemporary states of similar cultures (Ethiopia, Norway), the states seem to be more violent, but I don’t have good enough data to make that more than an impression.

        • Aapje says:

          @keranih,

          My argument is that the level of violence would be much higher if those societies had way more trade, personal freedom, etc.

          As the population density, trade, etc grew, these societies were forced to implement more central governance to deal with the increased level of conflict.

    • rlms says:

      Snarky response: equally, life expectancy of above 30 is quite a recent thing.

    • When you finish that one, you might want to read Seeing Like a State, which is also interesting. Every once in a while he interrupts his descriptions of how states try to revise societies to make them easier to rule and tax and the terrible results thereof to make it clear that he isn’t one of those horrible libertarians.

  24. Dahlen says:

    People are sharing open threads on Facebook now? *ducks and hides*