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Links 11/16: Site Unseen

Attn fans of Research Agreements: China has reconstructed the Porcelain Tower

Redditor justdoittimes5 looks up some data relevant to my Against Tulip Subsidies and finds that medical students who studied science in undergrad gain no advantage over those who did not.

Wikipedia: symmetry-breaking of escaping ants

There is no increasing placebo effect in psychiatry: “Contrary to the widely held believe, the average placebo response rates in antidepressant trials have been stable for more than 25 years

Major Airline Launches Child-Free Zones On Flights. Communists surrender, admit that invisible hand of the market really does guide businesses to the common good of all.

New brain structure study finds more evidence in favor of two “types” of trans women – an early-transitioning androphilic feminine-personality type and a late-transitioning gynophilic masculine-personality type (study, article). Another claim by the same site: even though the first group has normal IQ, the second group has IQ 128?!?!?! Suddenly all of this “how come there are so many transwomen in programming?” stuff starts to look incredibly interesting (note).

DEA decides not to ban kratom for now, marking rare victory for common sense and/or being really angry on the Internet.

Attitude toward school does not predict academic achievement: “This study, by analyzing the PISA 2003, 2009, and 2012 datasets, finds virtually no direct relationships between students’ general attitude toward school and their academic achievement in reading and mathematics.”

Do Youth Employment Programs Improve Labor Market Outcomes: “We identify 113 counterfactual impact evaluations…using met-analysis methods, we synthesize the evidence based on 2,259 effect sizes…overall we find that just more than one-third of evaluation results from youth employment programs implemented worldwide show a significant positive impact on labor market outcomes.” You can gauge your level of cynicism by whether you’re shocked by how low or how high that is.

Nick Land writes an article on fascism for the Daily Caller: “Fascism is therefore broadly identical with a normalization of war-powers in a modern state, that is: sustained social mobilization under central direction. Consequently, it involves, beside the centralization of political authority in a permanent war council, a tribal hystericization of social identity, and a considerable measure of economic pragmatism…Since fascism had entirely filled the Overton Window, it lost contour, and became invisible. The word persisted in public conversation only as an empty slur. Under this cover, and the absurdly misleading branding associated with it, American fascism ascended to a state of global hegemonic dominance.”

Adding seaweed to cattle feed could reduce methane production by 70%?

I used to think Mormonism must be some kind of amazing magic religion, since Mormons seemed to have better communities and outcomes in a lot of ways than the surrounding population. Razib Khan points out something I should have realized a long time ago – Mormons are just Puritans (in the Albion’s Seed sense) – they descend from Joseph Smith’s neighbors in New-England-settled upstate New York. Their tight-knit egalitarian communities aren’t much different from the tight-knit egalitarian communities of eg Vermont. And apparent Mormon exceptionalism is probably just perfectly normal deep population differences.

Ye Olde England had special corpse roads to transport coffins to cemeteries. Needless to say there are all sorts of associated weird superstitions.

Some Friends Of The Blog and other cool people will be at the Adam Smith Institute Forum in London on December 3.

People who film protests against the oil pipeline in North Dakota face prison under attempts to use laws against filming crimes to quash journalism.

Related to the perennial discussion over whether traditional or modern societies are happier – new study finds that Himba hunter-gatherer tribespeople report higher life satisfaction than urbanized Himba or modern Brits.

Do higher IQ presidents perform better? asks a Scientific American article which is better than you’d expect considering we have no obvious way to measure either presidential IQ or presidential performance.

The New Yorker: The Case Against Democracy. “Despite ample proof of the average American voter’s cluelessness, why do we still insist on voting rights for all?”

Paul Christiano is one of many people with so many interesting ideas that I wished he’d start a blog. Now: Paul Christiano starts a blog.

Speaking of Paul, he and housemates Steph and Katja have made reciprocity.io, a dating site for the rationalist community and rationalist-adjacent people. You sign up, check the names of everyone you want to date (or hang out with), and if they also checked your name you both get a notification. If not it remains a secret and they never have to know. Warning: nobody having to know only slightly dulls the pain of finding out that a bunch of people you have crushes on aren’t interested.

Surprising: no difference in math teacher effectiveness between lower-income, higher-income kids.

Park Geun-Hye was elected President of South Korea partly because, having no remaining family, it was assumed she wouldn’t be corrupt and nepotistic. Now the country is in an uproar as she is discovered to be funneling national power and resources to a shaman who claimed to be in contact with her dead mother.

r/tinder is an interesting combination of horror stories, overly aggressive horny jerks, and cheesy pickup lines based on awful puns on people’s names

Latest study to be called into question: the one showing that shark attacks swung a US presidential election. Mea culpa – I blogged about that one unskeptically a few years ago.

Washington Post: Germany Reunified 26 Years Ago But Some Divisions Are Still Strong. This is maybe the strongest evidence against HBD I know, since it shows how purely political and historical differences created persistently different cultures. And don’t tell me that the East/West split happened along existing ethnic lines; the boundaries are too perfect.

Forbes: Oregon Study [Shows] Medicaid Had No Significant Effect On Health Outcomes Vs. Being Uninsured. Compare to RAND Health Insurance Experiment.

If you correct some simplifying but false assumptions used in many genetics papers, for a wide range of traits, common SNPs tag a greater fraction of causal variation than is commonly appreciated.

Jonathan Haidt’s Heterodox Academy publishes their ranking of colleges by tolerance for viewpoint diversity. If you’re going to college and you’re interested in being able to speak and think freely it is worth a look. Rankings like these are an obvious and extremely powerful strategic tool, and they confirm my impression that Haidt is almost the only person working effectively in this area.

New method is able to detect what parts of the genome have been subject to the most recent evolution in the past 2000 years – mostly genes for lactase, pigmentation, and immune response.

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672 Responses to Links 11/16: Site Unseen

  1. GCBill says:

    This is a question about Attitude toward school does not predict academic achievement, to which I don’t have free access. Do the authors mention how their findings fit with previous research demonstrating motivational effects on aptitude test performance (e.g., IQ)? Grades are at least moderately correlated with IQ scores, so I would’ve expected to see motivation play a role in academic achievement as well.

    • Mazirian says:

      In the era of Sci-Hub, everybody has free access. There’s little evidence of motivational effects on IQ. There’s this study but it doesn’t hold water.

    • Deiseach says:

      Grades are at least moderately correlated with IQ scores, so I would’ve expected to see motivation play a role in academic achievement as well.

      I liked school, but that didn’t mean I was motivated to do as well as I possibly could have. I didn’t decide “I must study hard and get good grades to please my teachers!” (the only case there was one teacher who ridiculed me in class to which, I am afraid, my internal response was along the lines of “fuck you, bitch, I’m going to do well in this particular exam” but that was more “I am confident that despite what you say I have a firm grasp of the subject” and not “I am going to work my socks off to prove you wrong”).

      I can see having a high IQ, being bored witless in school, and longing for the day you can leave, and having an average IQ, liking school (or even liking school not for academic but because of sports, you are popular and all your friends are there, etc), but not caring much for exams because you want to be a carpenter or plumber when you leave school.

    • albertborrow says:

      I would honestly expect no correlation, just from my current high school experience. There are plenty of smart and motivated kids at the top of the class, but those are balanced by the really smart but unmotivated kids who are also at the top of the class. (I feel like Scott has done a post on this before, with a nice graph and everything, but I can’t find it.)

  2. Sandy says:

    I am skeptical as to how effective Heterodox Academy’s viewpoint diversity rankings could be. Such rankings are a naming-and-shaming mechanism, which can be powerful, but only if the entity being named believes there is anything to be ashamed about. Everyone dreads being placed on an SPLC list because there is significant and near-universal social stigma attached to such a thing, but Bernie Sanders and Tim Kaine can and do proudly flaunt their low NRA ratings because for a lot of people, there is no stigma attached to the NRA’s disfavor — in fact, it can be practically an honor, a badge of commitment to contrary political ideals. Likewise, if a university gets a low rating from Heterodox Academy and replies by shrugging and saying “That’s ok, we don’t tolerate intolerance and we’re not going to start now”, there will be plenty of progressives willing to back them up and stand by them, even if “intolerance” is a category de facto so broad as to include pretty much any conservative, libertarian or reactionary view. As long as the “right” people are in their corner, they have no reason to care about Jonathan Haidt’s list. A toothless tool is basically just a waste of effort.

    • Randy M says:

      Everyone dreads being placed on an SPLC list because there is significant and near-universal social stigma attached to such a thing

      Is that really your perception?

      • ameliaquining says:

        I mean, if the only thing most people knew about a particular group was that they were on the same list with the KKK and the Westboro Baptist Church, I would expect that to have some level of social stigma attached. But of course, credibility built this way can easily be squandered.

        • Randy M says:

          What’s the credibility? Identifying two people lots of people dislike for valid reasons and adding a third?

        • suntzuanime says:

          What if all you know about a group is that they’re on the same list as Pepe the Cartoon Frog? Moral authority is a resource that you can spend pretty quickly if you make unwise purchases.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Gotta get those holy sites back up, yo.

          • albertborrow says:

            In my opinion, this is the biggest failing of claiming a moral high ground. It’s easy to lump everyone into the category of amoral instead of doing the smart thing and tallying things for yourself. I think defending someone’s right to speak is the right thing to do even if their belief is very clearly wrong. That doesn’t mean I won’t speak against them, but it means I won’t prevent them from speaking for themselves.

            But even when I believe in this philosophy explicitly, there’s a huge feeling that opponents of free speech are wrong and evil and can never be right about anything. Thinking your enemies are bad because they have bad ideas is quite possibly the most dangerous thing in the world – but I still do it even when I assert we should do otherwise! That’s half of the reason for the “aspiring” in aspiring rationalist. These things require constant awareness, and if you ever let yourself believe someone is implicitly wrong, you’ve gone wrong yourself.

      • Sandy says:

        Yes, it is. I’m sure David Duke is quite proud of his spot on an SPLC list but he and his ilk are the exceptions. Most people do not like to be called racists and bigots; even the ones who actually are racists and bigots will protest inclusion on an SPLC list because they believe they hold reasonable views and have been smeared by a left-wing attack dog. And the reason they care about such a smear is because there actually is some weight to SPLC ratings; they are cited by politicians, media organizations and policy groups all the time.

        • Deiseach says:

          SPLC ratings… are cited by politicians, media organizations and policy groups all the time

          Which is why they’re dangerous, as uncritically using the SPLC rating of “this is a hate group” is a real problem because I think the SPLC is sloppy (at best) and operating out of its own agenda (publicity = money) at worst.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        Just because it’s stupid, it doesn’t mean it don’t real.

      • fahertym says:

        Charles Murray is still listed as a “white supremacist” or something on that list.

        • God Damn John Jay says:

          He literally believes whites are genetically more intelligent than blacks and that divergent outcomes are the result of that. He has stated this in a book and has not retracted his statements. I think he is pretty close to the definition of a white supremacist.

          (I know he has an Asian wife, but in the US, it is black and white and Asians are the far periphery politically)

          • suntzuanime says:

            I think the ordinary ideas of “white supremacism” include a moral or at least actionable aspect to them. If it’s a guy who is saying “well on this particular metric whites happen to perform better” then anybody who notices that basketball stars tend to be black is basically Malcolm X.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It seems to be a fairly uncontroversial claim here that Ashkenazi Jews are genetically more intelligent than Gentiles (statistically, at least), and that there are divergent outcomes as a result of that. Does that make those who believe it “Ashkenazi Supremacists”?

            The term “white supremacist” is a slur (when used by most); if believing something which is factually testable and has not been shown to be false makes you one, there’s something wrong with the definition (or the pejoration).

          • Deiseach says:

            I don’t know if white populations outperform black populations on average on IQ tests. If they do, then saying that is a matter of fact, not supremacism of any stripe. If Murray jumps off from that to say “and this proves any single white person is more intelligent than any single black person, it proves only whites are truly human and blacks are sub-humans that can be exploited”, then it becomes white supremacism.

            If he’s not saying anything like that, he’s not a white supremacist and the SPLC are being disingenuous (even if they water it down to “We’re not saying Murray is a white supremacist, but some white supremacists groups quote his work”).

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            I don’t know if white populations outperform black populations on average on IQ tests. If they do, then saying that is a matter of fact, not supremacism of any stripe. If Murray jumps off from that to say “and this proves any single white person is more intelligent than any single black person, it proves only whites are truly human and blacks are sub-humans that can be exploited”, then it becomes white supremacism.

            Charles Murray definitely does not say that, at least not in “The Bell Curve,” the book that he is most excoriated for. In fact he is very emphatic that these are averages. Murray is a scholar and follows the evidence.

            He does think it is likely that at least some of the difference is genetic, which is even one step further into the hole for those who are looking for racism. He believes this because he thinks it is extremely unlikely that the large differences in IQ (one standard deviation) can be fully accounted for by environmental factors, especially since Whites who live in similar poverty don’t have as low an IQ on average. I think the one thing he did not account for is the severely anti-intellectual Black culture, which obviously affects Blacks more than Whites. So I am not as convinced as him that it has a genetic component, although I found most of “The Bell Curve” very convincing.

            In any case, it is the height of anti-intellectualism to call him a White Supremacist.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Mark V Anderson:

            I think HBD arguments really underestimate the degree to which police harassment (not necessarily brutality, but harassment) harms black people. I think HBD underestimates environmental factors in general. I think that their arguments look more convincing than they actually are because the “opposing team” hasn’t taken the field: unfortunately, a lot of left-wingers have absorbed loopy mid-20th-century ideas out of certain pockets of academia, and have decided that IQ isn’t real, genetics isn’t real, reality is a collective hallucination, whatever.

            It’s known that stress can harm people’s cognition. I would argue that police harassment targets black people more than white people (lots of super-respectable-looking black people have stories about being stopped in their own neighbourhood, asked if the nice car they were driving was theirs, etc) and directly causes stress: “oh shit, a cop, am I going to get stopped and hassled and be late for work fuuuuuck” sounds pretty stressful.

            Further, the fact that black people are less likely to call the police than white people are – because of experiences of police harassment, the fear that cops are gonna show out guns out and shoot somebody, etc – which means that there is the additional stress of more crime in black communities due to those communities fearing police involvement.

            I don’t know that poor white people are immunized from anti-intellectualism, either. But poor white people get hassled less by the cops than poor black people do, and perhaps even than working class or even affluent black people do. I know that I have never been “hassled” by the cops, and black friends from university from, as far as I know, similar backgrounds to mine have been.

            Being black in a lot of places is undoubtedly more stressful than being white in those places. I think this is an environmental factor that I haven’t seen explored, at the very least.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            @dndnrsn.

            I find your essay above on stress to be less than convincing. Yes, it’s a little tougher to be a minority of any type than the majority. And yes “driving while Black” is a thing. And walking while Black, etc. The cops do react more negatively to Blacks. But somehow this stress is supposed to be correlated with IQ? Or maybe cause the anti-intellectualism of Black culture? No I don’t think so.

            And then you need to explain why every other minority group doesn’t have same problems. Yes, Blacks were slaves 150 years ago, so there is some continuation of that discrimination, but that was quite a long time ago. Even Jim Crow was over 50 years ago. Much of the discrimination against Blacks these days exists because Blacks are indeed more likely to be criminals, poor workers, and poor students. Murray lays most of this on the average lower IQ of Blacks, and he has impressive statistics on correlations with low IQ and various anti-social behavior.

            I didn’t mean this to turn into a rant, so I’ll stop now. But I do think the stress hypothesis to be a thin reed on which to base a theory of lower IQ.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Mark V Anderson:

            My larger point is that the way that a lot of people on the left (whether the liberals or the leftists) have absorbed frankly bad ideas about the nature of reality means that the field is abandoned to the “it’s genetics” crowd. I don’t care whether my hypothesis is the strongest: my point is that nobody seems to be coming up with hypotheses fighting effectively against the sort of stuff that generally gets thought of as “HBD”. Left-wing academia of a certain sort (I primarily blame some of the social sciences but I have a roughly 75-25 rational-irrational dislike of some of the social sciences) is one of the worst things to happen to left-wing thought. If you have a baseball game and one team has decided that home runs are a social construct and don’t count, the other team is probably going to look much better than they are.

            But: given that stress fucks with people’s cognition, why wouldn’t stress be an environmental factor affecting IQ? If I ask you to write an exam, you’re gonna do worse if I’m blowing an air horn periodically. Likewise, somebody who gets nervous whenever they see a cop car (because they have somewhere to be and they don’t have the time to get pulled aside, patted down, etc), has to remember a lot more than usual corners and side streets to avoid (because the cops don’t do a good job of keeping the peace because people don’t trust the cops and the cops don’t behave so great either; it’s a vicious cycle) that’s going to mess with their cognition. Stress in childhood or in the womb seems to have more permanent effects.

            Black friends and acquaintances I met in university – people as “respectable” as I am if not more – who don’t like dealing with the police, who have stories about getting followed around in stores, all the usual crap. They’re not stupid, criminals, poor students, etc. They dress the same as most other people at school did. There are certainly other groups that have faced and face discrimination, but it is only black people I have heard these stories from (admittedly, there aren’t many Hispanic people where I live, and Aboriginals have been and get treated so badly that aside from someone with some Metis background and a few people with that sort of vague “maybe a great-great-something somewhere” possible ancestry). Other groups that have suffered vicious discrimination haven’t had it continue in the same way, I think because of the pernicious history and consequences of plantation slavery in large part.

            My point is not that this proves anything. My point is that the abject failure of a lot of people on the left to deal with reality as anything other than word and symbol games means that the “IQ is genetic and proves that these groups are inferior” people don’t really get opposed in a way that is actually effective in the long run. HBD is playing practically unopposed, to continue the analogy. It doesn’t actually make their arguments stronger that the opposing team has screwed up badly.

          • nancylebovitz says:

            Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

            This book argues that PTSD is passed down generationally, and the amount of trauma in black history continues to have effects like high levels of background anger, lack of support between black people, and expecting to not have a future. (For that last, the author mentions ten year olds planning their funerals.)

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH7tpAK8APY

          • Tekhno says:

            I used to think it was settled that there were divergent outcomes between blacks and whites. I used to think that the difference was that one side had a (predominantly) genetic explanation and the other side had a (predominately) environmental explanation. I used to think this because the environmental explanation was what I believed, or took for granted, back when I was a not very politically involved left-liberal(ish) type.

            Later, I learned that some people were uncomfortable about the divergent outcomes themselves. IQ stats are definitely associated with white nationalism in the way that they are used, but I get the sense that even really basic things like blacks committing more crime than whites relative to their population have some fog of controversy around them.

            If I were to state “blacks as a group commit more violent crimes proportionate to their population than whites as a group”, then I feel that this itself makes one side wince. It seems more like there are three sides, not two:

            1: Black crime rates are predominantly genetic in cause.

            2: Black crime rates are predominantly environmental in cause.

            3: Black crime rates are predominantly the police arresting innocent people.

            I don’t think 3 is really present in a rationalist space, but 3 seems to have a big presence in society. If you are at a cocktail party and someone starts talking to you about black victimization by the police, and you advance position 2, it’s really going to sour the mood, and your position will be conflated with 1 anyway.

            Now, it’s important to note that 2 already contains the idea that the police victimize the black community, in that they are part of the environment that can lead to low trust and more crime.

            Position 3 is quite different in that the core of the argument is that the black community has no internal problems with culture, and its main problem is the police. The black community does not have a problem with crime that might be exacerbated by bad policing, but its crime problem is an illusion created by the twisted justice of a hostile occupying force. The black community is not affected internally by any of this, but only held down and suppressed*.

            If you don’t believe me or think I’m reaching for some implicit subtext, you can just watch how Democratic politicians deal with the issue. Hillary Clinton herself expressed this conception of things when she responded to Donald Trump’s recognition of the state of black communities by admonishing him for saying that black urban communities are full of crime and shootings. Position 3 seems to be implicitly being expressed in this rhetoric.

            Position 3 seems to imply that if you removed the police, things would simply spring back like elastic. This is why a few of the more radical individuals in Black Lives Matter have advanced the position of police withdrawal from communities. This is insanity.

            I would certainly echo dndnrsn in saying that the adoption of Position 3 has yielded ground to the advocates of Position 1, and excluded a good amount of investigation of Position 2 that could have been engaged in. Often the advocates of Position 2 are shocked to find out that there are so many people on their own side who actually believe Position 3.

            *Slavoj Zizek of all people reminds us of this, having said this:

            “The obvious threat, that there are among refugees also terrorists, rapists, criminals, I mean this in a totally neutral way, of course there are but so what?”

            And after predictably being heckled, booed, and torn apart by his comrades…

            He made this important point:

            “You are underestimating the horror of poverty, the true horror of poverty is also an ethical one, I’m sorry to tell you poverty doesn’t make noble people.”

            sniff

          • John Schilling says:

            This book argues that PTSD is passed down generationally,

            Qualitatively plausible, sure, but to such a degree as to be culturally crippling six generations later? If that were the case, I would expect Israel to be the most dysfunctional society on Earth.

          • nancylebovitz says:

            It’s reasonable that PTSD fades over the generations, but it’s not crazy to assume that the fading is slowed a lot by subsequent trauma.

            I’ve seen claims that the loss of cultural continuity from slave-taking has done a lot of damage. This seems within reason for me, but I’m tno sure how you’d test it.

            PTSS starts with describing a visit to South Africa, and meeting black people who are in a lot better emotional shape than typical African Americans. It’s not as though things have been easy for black South Africans.

            On the other hand, the author only visited a little of Africa, so I don’t have a feeling for how well her experience generalizes.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Do you need some kind of “genetic memory of PTSD” explanation though? There’s a whole lot going on…

            Additionally, argument from comparison to Europe: the average European IQ varies from country to country, but somehow when their descendants in the US or wherever get all mixed up and become generically “white” for the most part, the average IQ is a hundred?

          • Sandy says:

            Additionally, argument from comparison to Europe: the average European IQ varies from country to country, but somehow when their descendants in the US or wherever get all mixed up and become generically “white” for the most part, the average IQ is a hundred?

            European IQs don’t vary from 100 all that much. In Western and Northern Europe, where most white Americans are from, average national IQs range from 98 to 100. Ireland is a stark outlier with an IQ of only 93.

            I’d also be interested in knowing just how “mixed up” white Americans actually are from place to place — I suspect many groups have retained their original ethnic roots to high percentages, like Ashkenazim and Scots-Irish Americans. Less so in large cities, but there were plenty of American settlements populated by homogeneous immigrant blocks from specific European countries.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Doing a bit of Googling, I’m seeing estimates for some European countries below 95 and even 90. I think that varies quite a bit from 100. The low scores are mostly attributed to the Balkans. But, are most white Americans of NW European ancestry? Lots of Irish and Italian-Americans.

          • Anon. says:

            How many IQ points is the “cultural PTSD” of the holocaust worth?

          • keranih says:

            Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

            Yah know, in the good old days, we could dismiss ideas like “emotional trauma is passed down though generations” with nonsense like giraffes bearing long-necked offspring because the mama giraffe noticed the leafy branches were out of reach – and equally bogus ideas like cleft palates resulting from a pregnant woman eating too much rabbit.

            But…this is the brave new world where epigenetics and variable expression of genes is a known Thing.

            (And here I repeat my point that we are just guessing until we get some solid randomized trials.)

            IMO, it is far more likely that the…emmm…non-helpful parts of Black American Culture owe their stamp to a combination of basic genetic stock (African vs North European) plus selected stock (losers vs winners at inter-tribal wars) plus further selection of stock in the Americas (not all slaves reproduced equally, and there had to be a selection for mental/emotional traits of some sort) plus some degree of influence by the non-Quaker and non-Puritian European stock that interbred with the African slaves, plus the impact of culture shaping that enslavement brought, plus the impact of epigenetics.

            And good luck, brothers and sisters in science, in figuring out what is the result of what.

            Mores the pity – I’m not sure we’ll be able to accurately figure “a cure” without first discovering what causes each “pathology”.

            (And on edit: One of the things we don’t have a good measurement of is how stressful it is to be occasionally harrassed by the po-po, vs being in a neighborhood where one is under constant stress from the criminal neighbors. In particular, we don’t have a good idea of this level of stress vs that of growing up in, say, Pastu culture, or in a Roma wagon, or in a Kansas sod hut, or in the slave quarters of a wealthy Virginia plantation. We need that data.)

            But when we do figure this out, and people start proposing that fixes be “mandated” you’ll find me on the other side with a sign that says “God formed you in the womb, don’t let the government form our children”.

          • Sandy says:

            Doing a bit of Googling, I’m seeing estimates for some European countries below 95 and even 90. I think that varies quite a bit from 100. The low scores are mostly attributed to the Balkans. But, are most white Americans of NW European ancestry? Lots of Irish and Italian-Americans.

            I’m using this map, where the average IQ of Italy is 96 and the average IQ of Ireland is 95 (I don’t know why I said 93, I could have sworn it said that a few hours ago). The poorer parts of Europe, closer to the Balkans, are where the IQs start to drop.

            There’s slightly less than 200 million white Americans. Of that number, 46 million are German (IQ 99) , 34.5 million are Irish (IQ 95), 25 million are English (IQ 99), 10 million are French (IQ 98), 12 million are Scandinavian (IQ 97-101), and 4.5 million are Dutch (IQ 100). So I’d say close to 60% of white Americans trace their ancestry to Western and Northern Europe, the parts of the continent with generally higher IQs, and I don’t know precisely what the effect of 8 million Ashkenazi Jews mixed into the white population is on the average IQ of white America, but I assume it could only be an upward push if anything. Also there are many white Americans who describe themselves as simply “American”, some sources say these people are largely of English ancestry.

            The question that comes to my mind upon viewing that map is: Why does Ireland have a lower IQ than Russia? I would imagine the standard answer is English colonialism, but I’d like to know how that lowered Ireland’s IQ more than the 19th and 20th centuries lowered Russia’s.

          • keranih says:

            Also there are many white Americans who describe themselves as simply “American”, some sources say these people are largely of English ancestry.

            Emmm. No. Them’s Scots-Irish Borderers. So obnoxious, they got transported twice.

            On edit:

            Why does Ireland have a lower IQ than Russia?

            Outward migration to the colonies of a huge fraction of its population.

            Russian-sourced immigrants also made up a non-trivial amount of immigration to the US (and, later, to Israel) but those were disproportionately Jews and were a smaller fraction of the home population.

          • nancylebovitz says:

            It’s not “genetic memory of PTSD”, it’s that having parents who’ve taken emotional damage are likely to have a high-stress effect on their children.

            Also, as I recall, PTSS doesn’t make a distinction between trauma caused by white people and trauma caused by other black people. The point was that African Americans need to do their own work on healing from pervasive PTSD.

          • Jules says:

            Jim Crow laws were in force until 1965, 50 years ago.
            That means that all seniors citizens living today grew up with segregation as a daily fact of life.
            It also means that those who are only slightly younger grew up in a country where segregationist behaviours were still the norm, even if the government wasn’t backing those norms anymore.

            I find it quite bewildering that anyone could seriously consider that too much time has passed for the children and grandchildren of those people to feel traumatised, or that there could be no discriminations left from that time.

          • John Schilling says:

            Jim Crow laws were in force until 1965, 50 years ago.

            In Georgia and Alabama, yes. In New York and California, no.

            That means that all seniors citizens living today grew up with segregation as a daily fact of life.

            Except for the senior citizens who grew up in New York, California, etc. You can perhaps argue “segregation as a fact of daily life” by stretching the definition of “segregation” and/or “daily life”, but then you are very far from anything that can be justified by a reference to Jim Crow.

    • shakeddown says:

      It’s likely to cause a split: You’ll have hardcore liberal schools who are proud of being on it, and more moderate liberal schools who would probably rather avoid it (with various degrees of caring enough to do it).
      Ideally, the first group would mainly be small liberal-arts schools and big top-ten schools (who sell themselves as the best places, rather than just as places for liberals) would be in the second. I’m ambiguous about whether it would really happen – from the outside view I’d guess Harvard/Yale/MIT would try to be in the second, but from personal experience with them, I’m… worried.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Likewise, if a university gets a low rating from Heterodox Academy and replies by shrugging and saying “That’s ok, we don’t tolerate intolerance and we’re not going to start now”, there will be plenty of progressives willing to back them up and stand by them, even if “intolerance” is a category de facto so broad as to include pretty much any conservative, libertarian or reactionary view. As long as the “right” people are in their corner, they have no reason to care about Jonathan Haidt’s list. A toothless tool is basically just a waste of effort.

      This seems to be (sort of) OK for Haidt, since it at least forces said universities to acknowledge their status as an ideologically aligned entity, rather than make vague claims about objectivity.

      • shakeddown says:

        Yeah, it could really be a useful heads-up. It may be obvious to someone who graduated Harvard that anyone who goes there is going to have to deal with a ridiculous amount of SJ-pushing, but a 17-year-old who would hate it might not see past his I-got-into-Harvard euphoria.

    • nelshoy says:

      Presumably it’s for students who care about the ideology of where they’re attending, and the schools will care to the extent to which they care about attracting said interested students.

      I’m more concerned with how Haidt can come up with a good measure for the entire institution for a hard-to-quantify measure like viewpoint diversity.

    • James Miller says:

      Now that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is on the SPLC blacklist, many will consider being placed on it to also be a badge of honor.

      • Montfort says:

        Tangential: the NR really ought to change their font – I refuse to read more than a few sentences of anything that looks like that.

        • registrationisdumb says:

          $1,000 idea: more sites should adopt themes so you can choose your UI. Aside from the terrible reporting, it’d be much easier to read places like HuffPo and Drudge.

        • Anon. says:

          If you don’t mind a little bit of effort, the Stylish plugin (for both chrome and firefox) lets you create your own themes for websites. It’s useful for fixing all sorts of little annoyances across the web. Fonts are quite easy to change.

          There are also ready-made themes at userstyles.org (including 4 for the NR).

        • Urstoff says:

          Looks like TNR or something similar to me…do you just hate serifs?

        • Montfort says:

          RID & Anon – I know that the actual appearance of the website is mutable with effort, but I have a philosophical objection to rewarding websites that by default look worse than a default wordpress/bootstrap/built-by-an-intern kind of thing.

    • Deiseach says:

      I don’t think being put on the SPLC Roll of Shame is necessarily a dishonour, since as far as I can see any view that is remotely “I am not 110% behind the Democrat Party talking points” is going to get you on their list (for example, they have a group on their hate groups list which made me go “What – but that’s the crowd that send my father calendars with the saints’ days marked on them! By implication you’re saying my father is supporting a hate group so he’s some kind of fascist racist hater? You can go [expurgated]”) 🙂

      This list could work negatively, as in, the forces of progressivism decide that what their college needs is an intervention because look how biased, right-wing, conservative and repressive it is!

      • Tibor says:

        Incidentally, this is something that happens a lot in Germany. For historic reasons, the easiest strategy for the left wing is to call everyone who disagrees with them on something a right-wing extremist. It is also strange how the word “die Rechte”, does not simply mean the right-wing, but the way it is used in the German media (and I usually read die Welt, which is far from being particularly left-wing), it is automatically bad. Despite all the problems with the one-dimensional right/left dichotomy, I can accept that the National Socialists are called extreme right for strange historical reasons, but it is really weird when anything that is “right” is automatically thought of as bad.

        I think this attitude also contributes to the currently relatively high popularity of the AfD, which does seem to be very conservative (they are still no neonazis, well, a majority of them isn’t) and more disturbingly also sympathetic to Putin (even though they actually started as a right-liberal party but then there was a change in the leadership and in the direction of the party).

        If you shame everyone who is not a left-winger or at the very most a centrist, they you end up with a whole lot of people who feel disenfranchised and they end up increasingly supporting people who in fact are rather extreme, simply out of frustration. There is a reason the AfD is way less popular in Bavaria, since the local CSU is moderately right-wing itself (while Merkel has turned the CDU into a center-left party).

        While the US is naturally in many ways very different from Germany, there seems to be a similar shaming tendency in some circles and that is one of the reasons Trump is the presidential candidate and why what he says attracts so many people – they just want to stick it to those pontificating condescending elitists and the more they are offended by Trump, the better. What Trump actually says is not as important for them as the fact that it makes those other people annoyed and angry.

        • Besserwisser says:

          There’s effectively no major moderate right-wing party in Germany. The CSU is only in Bavaria. The NPD claims to be at least not as extreme to deserve to be banned (obviously) and the AfD has problems with both their popularity and in terms of the “moderate” part of moderate right. Every party in the Bundestag is either CDU/CSU/FDP or left of them.

          There’s some argument to have someone right of center parties just so people who might be turn between current center parties and right-extreme ones will get annother option.

    • Anon. says:

      As long as real universities remain, some of them shrugging is alright. The real danger is complete takeover.

    • Tibor says:

      I see it more as a tool for students and would-be students who are deciding which Uni to study at. For example, if I decided I want to study in the US today, I’d take this list into account, less if I wanted to start a Ph.D. (since your contact with the undergrads, who seem to be the most bigoted, is limited), more if I wanted to start a Bachelor.

      If there are enough people who care about that, it will steer some schools towards more freedom. But even if there are only few who do, there apparently already are schools which score high on “heterodoxy” and so if that is something you care about, you can select schools for that.

      Even if that is the only thing this ever achieves, it is already laudable. And yeah, Haidt is the man (incidentally, I try to remember people like him in order to get over my natural bias against non-STEM academic disciplines. At least in my book, he is clearly doing something both interesting and important and he’s doing it well).

      • Brad says:

        I’m dubious about the methodology. 50% of the score is farmed off to ISI and FIRE, with no links to their methodologies (or obvious ways to find them from their respective home pages). Another 25% is based on having publicly endorsed a document written up by a particular school for its own use and only after the fact treated as something to be potentially adopted by other places. The last 25% is Heterodox Academy own contribution, but it is awfully vague — “Events on campus that indicate a commitment by faculty, administration, and/or students to protect or restrict free inquiry and viewpoint diversity. We ignore events that involve just a few students or professors and focus on those indicating broader sentiment, norms, or policy.”

        • Tibor says:

          Well, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but how would you want to do the ranking?

          Haidt responds to e-mails by the way (I wrote him about the Righteous Mind). If you have a suggestion on how to improve the ranking methodology, he’d probably take it into account.

          • Brad says:

            I’m not even sure what hetrodox academy is for, I’d need to understand that before saying how they should do their rankings.

            There’s a lot of vague hand-waiving on the site, but it seems like their terminal goal is advancing the interests of libertarians and social conservatives on college campuses. Pushing for, among other things, a kind of affirmative action. The free speech stuff looks to be tactical, in that is in service of advancing the ultimate goal.

            But perhaps I’m reading them wrong.

          • Tibor says:

            @Brad: I think you are reading it wrong. However, I was also surprised by what indeed looks like a proposal for “affirmative action” for conservatives and libertarians. In any case, if you’re unsure, you can ask Haidt yourself. I might ask him about the “affirmative action” bit, actually.

          • Aapje says:

            @Brad

            Their goal is diversity of debate on campus.

            As the current trend is for the regressive left to suppress liberal values such as free speech, one can argue that this advances the interests of liberals at least as much as the other groups you named, especially as there are more liberals at colleges (so the Overton window increases for more liberals than conservatives).

            Pushing for, among other things, a kind of affirmative action.

            Affirmative action is generally defined as pushing people ahead because they have a feature that is irrelevant to ability (like gender or race), despite a lesser ability on a measure that is relevant to ability (like test scores).

            This is the opposite, the argument is that non-orthodox scientists have a feature that is relevant to creating better science and that they should be encouraged and be used to improve the scientific process for this reason. It’s pretty much the mirror image to AA.

            Furthermore, I want to point out that the web site strongly pushes the idea that people have their own responsibility to decide how to address this issue and is merely giving suggestions. There are no demands or set agenda to be implemented.

            In fact, Haidt has argued that it is fine if schools choose the pursuit of social justice over the pursuit of the truth, but that they should do so openly and that students should also have the choice to go to a traditional university.

            I personally strongly suspect that his goal is to make the SJWs isolate themselves from everyone else, so you have a decent number of pro-diversity colleges and also some colleges where the students can be safe from being challenged.

          • Brad says:

            @Aapje

            Their goal is diversity of debate on campus.

            That’s rather vague. As I asked in the last open thread when it came up “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?”

            Having pursued the website some more, it appears the answer is no. It doesn’t seem like they are really trying to combat the problem of lockstop thinking within the academy qua the academy but instead are obsessed with small beer questions of uniformity of political beliefs. They want to know how many linguists are voting for Trump or think bathrooms ought to be unisex, not how many are linguistic relativists.

            This is compounded by equivocation over whether it wants to focus on the undergraduate education (credentialing) mission or the research mission of universities. The two have little to do with each other, indeed are often at cross-purposes.

            The rest of your comment — with its invocations of the “regressive left” and “SJWs” — seem to back up my impression of what this is all about.

            @Tibor
            I have no interest in emailing Haidt or helping him refine his program. It seems I don’t share his goals or priors.

          • lvlln says:

            From their “About Us” page, it seems clear to me that Heterodox Academy isn’t concerned with “diversity” in the sense of diversity of opinions on support of specific positions within specific fields of academics. Rather, they point out “viewpoint diversity” and “political diversity” as their interests. It seems to me that they want academia to have a population that is more diverse in opinions with respect to politics than it is now.

            That this is rounded off as having “terminal goal [of] advancing the interests of libertarians and social conservatives on college campuses” seems absurd to me. Like, on a personal level – I’m a very far left liberal who also wants to see more political diversity in academia. As someone who hates Trump and everything he stands for, I wish more college professors were voting for and advocating for Trump than they do now. As someone who believes it’s downright evil to demand trans people to use bathrooms other than their choosing, I want more college professors to openly support and advocate for laws like North Carolina’s HB2. A liberal college is one in which these utterly morally reprehensible ideologies and ideas are vigorously and openly supported by the brightest minds who support them, while also just as vigorously countered by the brightest minds who oppose them. The idea that doing this would serve the interests of libertarians and social conservatives is, again, really really weird to me.

          • Tibor says:

            @Brad: I think it would be wrong to hire libertarian or conservative (or royalist or whatever) faculty or students to fill a given quota for some political views. That would be strange.

            What is also strange is an environment where dissent from a dogma is not tolerated, sometimes explicitly as a part of a university policy, sometimes implicitly by creating a culture where you are ostracized and ridiculed merely for expressing other views. One thing is to disagree with someone in a civil way and think that he’s mistaken, another is to lash out angrily whenever he shows a disagreement with your views.

            As long as Haidt does not really advocate hiring people on some kind of a quota system (I agree it is not entirely clear from what he writes whether that is the case or not, but I think it is the less likely interpretation), I think his goal serves everyone. Even if you are a strong leftist, all ideas grow increasingly perverse in isolation. If you don’t allow your ideology to be challenged by anybody, it will eventually become a caricature of itself. At least for that reason (and also because decent human beings should not behave in an aggressive and bigoted way to those who civilly disagree with them and it is good to cultivate a university environment where they are not encouraged to behave like that), this project is helpful for the leftists as well.

            People here might be in many ways an exception, but when you talk to many people on the left and present libertarian ideas to them, they are often confused because they have not encountered an intelligent advocate of those ideas and all they know is their own uncharitable caricature. I assume the same is true of conservatives in some circles and perhaps even libertarians (although since there are very few libertarians, it is not so easy for them to completely cut themselves from anybody else). That does not do the left much good. Naturally, we all have our biases and the first thing that comes to your mind is usually “what can I say against this argument” and not “well, I should explore this argument more and see if it’s perhaps right”. But the whole point of having people with differing opinions argue is exactly that – the libertarians will come up with the best arguments for libertarianism, the left with the best leftist arguments and the right with the best rightist ones. Ideally, everyone tries their best to listen well to others and when they fail to come up with a satisfying response that fits into their worldview, they might even change it eventually. At the same time, when they do come up with a good response, they either change the opinions of the others or they at least force them to think more about what they are saying, possibly coming up with better and more revealing arguments for their views. Hence progress.

            While there are competing theories in theoretical physics, that field does not seem to suffer from being politicized. Until Trump says that winners support the String Theory and Clinton comes up with a reason why that is deplorable, I think physics is relatively safe to this damaging influence. Particular physicists may have their pet theories but they are not going to shout at you and demand that you don’t express your opinion on quantum gravity because you disagree with them.

            On the other hand, social sciences are way more susceptible to being politicized because they are a) much closer to politics in what they study and b) much harder in the sense that it is more difficult to reach conclusive answers in those fields which leads to more room for interpretation.

            Here again, the diversity of opinion is important even for people who don’t care about it per se. Say that you’d like to improve the situation of blacks in the US. If almost all sociologists who study this are leftists, they are likely to weave their biases into their theories. And since social science is hard in the sense above, it is also hard to prove yourself wrong, especially sine you don’t really want to. As long as there are people with different biases in your field and as long as they feel they can freely challenge your ideas, they will do just that. And you may discover that your research was flawed and that policies based on that would be/are ineffectual and are not actually helping anybody.

          • Brad says:

            lvlln & Tibor
            It seems to me that you, and Haidt, are viewing the world through a myopic lens characteristic of those enmeshed in the so-called culture wars.

            I am making a saliency argument. It’s not that I think the goal is bad so much as I think it is quite irrelevant and not worth sacrificing other more important considerations for.

            At least when it comes to the research side of the university. The argument for students is, I think, somewhat stronger given that many schools explicitly claim that diversity of many different kinds in their student body has pedagogical benefits.

            However, as to libertarians, I don’t think there’s any shortages in US colleges. So long as a given college is admitting a healthy percentage of white men from upper middle class+ backgrounds they are going to be getting friends of Ayn. Social conservatives are perhaps another matter.

          • lvlln says:

            Brad, you say that desiring viewpoint diversity in academia and making sure that individuals in academia are free to hold and state political opinions that may be unpopular is myopic. But what are the “more important considerations” that are being “sacrificed” or being proposed to be “sacrificed?” How exactly are Haidt et. al. causing these sacrifices to happen?

            Like, I’m sure that in any given field, there are many many more important considerations than political viewpoint diversity that’s holding back education or research. But drilling down to that level of detail would require a legion of experts that would probably have to be bigger than any university in existence. And Heterodox Academy isn’t preventing or at all impeding anyone from doing that if they wish to do so.

          • Aapje says:

            @Brad

            In the ‘soft’ sciences, people’s biases/politics have a major impact on the questions that people ask, the way they interpret their data, etc, etc.

            Some of these fields are already approaching uselessness, due to increasing one-sided bias effects and bad understanding of the scientific method (which is a different issue, but which compounds the problem).

            As lvlln argued as well, I am absolutely fine with SJWs doing science, because although I mostly disagree with them and generally find them to be poor scientists, they do ask questions that are different from what people like me ask; and which deserve to be answered. However, the opposite must happen as well, where they are challenged to answer the questions that people like me ask.

            So far, you have only referred to physics, which suggests that you don’t care about soft sciences. If that is the case, then the goals of the heterodox academy would be unimportant to you, in the same way that a blind person would have no special interest in better eyeglass technology.

            That is fine, no one is asking you to support or do anything for this cause; and you are free to set up a program to achieve more diversity in hard sciences like physics, which is orthogonal to this issue. However, I think that the challenges in those fields are different and far less serious (most hard sciences have a level of scientific value that is way beyond other fields). I truly believe that there is a risk that more and more scientific fields will disappear so far up their own behinds, that many people will lose trust in science. And I won’t be able to really fault them for this…

          • Controls Freak says:

            it seems like their terminal goal is advancing the interests of libertarians and social conservatives on college campuses. Pushing for, among other things, a kind of affirmative action.

            I’ve always read it another way. They can passively say, “We’re not advocating for affirmative action,” and let all the pro-AA folk realize, “This meets all the criteria we use in order to justify AA,” and then since they don’t like it, they end up making anti-AA arguments (that are almost always broad enough to hit their own pro-AA positions). Maybe some of those folks will realize that they’ve made a critical logical mistake somewhere in the chain… but I originally thought it was just for the lulz. “Let’s see if we can get these folks to make anti-AA arguments. Heh. It works!

            Look no further than this thread. We’ve already asked what a diverse opinion adds to a physics classroom and exasperation that the goal seems immeasurable and unachievable. These pretty much map exactly onto criticisms raised by conservative voices in the recent iteration of Fisher v. University of Texas.

        • Reasoner says:

          “Anything you need to quantify can be measured in some way that is superior to not measuring it at all.”

          BTW, I wouldn’t be surprised if (e.g.) the US News & World Report methodology is also dubious if you took the time to examine it. (I heard they cook the formula so the usual suspects are ranked near the top.)

    • Tekhno says:

      @Sandy

      Likewise, if a university gets a low rating from Heterodox Academy and replies by shrugging and saying “That’s ok, we don’t tolerate intolerance and we’re not going to start now”, there will be plenty of progressives willing to back them up and stand by them, even if “intolerance” is a category de facto so broad as to include pretty much any conservative, libertarian or reactionary view. As long as the “right” people are in their corner, they have no reason to care about Jonathan Haidt’s list. A toothless tool is basically just a waste of effort.

      This only makes the rankings a waste of effort if the goal is to get rid of progressive Universities. If instead, the goal is to sort Universities into progressive and non-progressive Universities then the result is that everyone wins, because progressive Universities double down and progressives get to go to those all the more proudly progressive Universities, but now non-progressives have a tool to show them which Universities are marketing themselves to non-progressives. If it promotes greater sorting, then it’s a success.

      • Aapje says:

        progressive Universities

        You misspelled ‘regressive.’

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          A wrong progressive is not regressive.

          • The Nybbler says:

            And a right progressive is a contradiction in terms.

          • lvlln says:

            A wrong progressive isn’t regressive, but the group generally (self-)labeled “progressive” in the US, which seems to be to what Tekhno is referring, is quite regressive.

            It’s a pretty shitty state in terms of terminology.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            but the group generally (self-)labeled “progressive” in the US, which seems to be to what Tekhno is referring, is quite regressive.

            How so? What about that group would you consider particularly regressive? The authoritarianism?

          • lvlln says:

            How so? What about that group would you consider particularly regressive? The authoritarianism?

            I don’t think this is exhaustive, but the 1st few things that come to mind:
            A desire to pull society back to a state in which an individual’s moral worth is determined in large part by the population in which they belong. A desire to pull society back to a state in which people’s opinions are policed and punished by use of extrinsic force. A desire to pull back the advances of science and statistics and get back to using personal stories and revelations as means to discover truth.

        • Dahlen says:

          You misspelled ‘regressive.’

          Drat, it looks like not everybody’s fully on board with the exonym!

          You can have and enjoy your dislike of social justice people without inserting such pointless stings into the conversation. Sometimes one lets opportunities to insult these folks slide. It’s okay. It’s not a big loss for humanity. They’ll do better next time.

          • hlynkacg says:

            For what it’s worth, I agree

          • Aapje says:

            @Dahlen

            It’s not about my dislike of social justice, it’s that the equivocation of progressive with social justice is nonsensical.

            The presentation I saw by Haidt of the Heterodox Academy argued that colleges should declare their terminal values: either the pursuit of truth or the pursuit of social justice. So his desired outcome is a split between colleges based on these terminal values.

            It’s absurd to claim that the pursuit of truth is a conservative and the pursuit of social justice is progressive.

      • Tekhno says:

        I don’t like the term “regressive left” because it implies that they are betraying a true and valid progressive agenda, and since I’m a moral nihilist who doesn’t believe in Whig History and moral progress, well…

        • Aapje says:

          Well, right now your statements imply that the pursuit of truth is a conservative value, which is offensive to me.

          My remark was a little flippant due to that, but I still think that you ought to express yourself much better than you did.

      • dragnubbit says:

        I do not think these rankings are sorting on left-right directly, and if they do their job I would expect over time to find conservative and progressive-leaning schools at both ends of the list.

        I would not particularly favor a ranking based on ‘most conservative colleges’ or ‘most progressive colleges’, but one based on ‘most willing to stand up for free discourse’ is going to put pressure in a positive direction for anyone interested in intellectual rigor. If more progressive schools are getting called out right now, that is merely a correlation present in the sample, not the variable under measurement.

        • Aapje says:

          You get it.

        • “I do not think these rankings are sorting on left-right directly”

          I gather Chicago ranks well. My daughter’s observation was that at Chicago, as at Oberlin (which she transferred from), student culture was heavily left wing.

          The difference was that at Oberlin, if you didn’t agree that meant you were stupid or evil. At Chicago it meant that you were someone with different views to be argued with.

          My most recent experience at Chicago is the law school, as of about twenty years ago. Its public image is conservative. I’m pretty sure that in any presidential election of the past fifty years or so the Democratic candidate would have gotten a sizable majority of the votes of the faculty.

          It is, of course, the school at which both Barack Obama and Cass Sunstein taught. But also the school where Richard Posner, and Richard Epstein, and Aaron Director and Ronald Coase taught.

          • Zaxlebax says:

            In my opinion, this continues to be true, at least relatively, and it is reflected in the rating. (Incidentally, David Friedman telling me exactly what he said above was instrumental in my decision to attend Chicago).

            And here in the city it already appears that a kind of sorting and counter-signaling dynamic has occurred, in a way that is rather consistent with how people have been speculating above. U of C worked with FIRE to release model statement of commitment to free academic inquiry, and some other schools have endorsed or copied it; this is one of the factors in Heterodox Academy’s rankings. In the wake of that statement and a letter our president sent to incoming students at the beginning of this quarter, which reiterated the commitments in the Chicago Statement and explicitly voiced disapproval of the way trigger warnings and safe spaces have been used as of late, Northwestern University’s president, in turn, wrote a statement against U of C and in favor of trigger warnings and safe spaces. UIC seems also to be firmly in the safe, socially just community camp.

            I think having several schools in close proximity, with the natural rivalries and the natural drive toward contrast and counter-signaling that fosters, helps to move this process along. But I don’t think this could have happened without U of C beginning by taking a bold and somewhat contrarian stance (President Zimmern even sounded a little bit like he wanted to provoke a reaction in his autumn letter). Now that a major university, or a faction of its administrators, has adopted the Heterodox University brand, it may be triggering others, locally and nationally, to make their stances clearer and less mealy-mouthed (Of course we believe in free and open inquiry, just not in certain unforeseen instances where we won’t). This means both those echoing U of C and those explaining that their primary goal is to create a comfortable and nurturing space for like-minded adolescents.

          • One related point about U of C that I’m not sure I have made here. Part of its long term culture seems to be acceptance of minority intellectual positions. There seems to be a pattern in a lot of fields, not necessarily having anything to do with politics, of two schools of thought, the current orthodoxy and the Chicago school.

            I wonder if it is partly a result of Chicago being the one great university that isn’t coastal, hence has been less a part of a coastal culture.

      • Reasoner says:

        Is this actually a good thing though? Sounds like the real-life equivalent of a filter bubble. It sounds plausibly good but I’m not very certain.

        • Tekhno says:

          It’s only a filter bubble in the dumb subjective courses that can be politicized in the first place. Besides, we already have a filter bubble in that Universities are biased towards progressive ideas, so now we get to have more Universities that are biased towards conservative ideas too.

          There’s really no such thing as being unbiased if you are teaching sociology or bio-history or whatever. There is an inherently political narrative involved that is not present in physics, mathematics, and computer science.

          One solution, of course, would be to make all publicly funded educational institutions purely STEM (I wouldn’t be worried about non-STEM degrees with automation looming anyway), and withdraw all public subsidies from private Universities that teach the creamy soft butter sciences. Then at least we wouldn’t be subsidizing the bias.

          • US says:

            An implicit assumption that may be worth thinking about: non-STEM research (including in this term also ‘non-STEM “research”‘) includes a lot of things. I’m an economics post-grad student. That’s non-STEM stuff, that’s social science. Now, my advisor teaches mathematical statistics. He’s currently working on an epidemiological study on diabetics, using Danish registry data. The offices I go by when I come to visit him include the offices of a few of the members of CREATES (Center for Research in Econometric Analysis of Time Series) at Aarhus University, which is a research unit made up mostly of people from the economics department in Arhus and the Department of Mathematical Statistics at Copenhagen University.

            People often in discussions like these seem to implicitly lump people like my advisor into the same group as your average ‘social scientist’, because of the STEM-/non-STEM dichotomy applied.

            I would definitely not be against cutting off funds to politicizing idiots promoting stupid ideas. But I have an impression that where exactly to ‘make the ideal cut’ may not be quite as simple to figure out as some people seem to tend to believe when they talk about these topics. There’ll definitely be ‘collateral damage’ no matter how it’s done. (Not ‘collateral damage’ to people, I should perhaps add, but rather collateral damage to the quality of future research in some fields. I’m sure people like my advisor would do just fine if he had to leave research because of a political decision to cut off his funding – but I also believe that the overall quality of research produced would decline if people like him were not involved in it.)

            (A related thought: When you apply the standard STEM/non-STEM distinction as a funding variable, it’s in some sense considered desirable/okay to subsidize research into mathematical tools one might use to investigate various topics, but not okay to actually apply those tools to specific problems. Technically in Denmark the statisticians at Copenhagen University are categorized as STEM people, whereas their statistician colleagues in Aarhus are considered social scientists.)

          • US says:

            “but not okay to actually apply those tools to specific problems.”

            At least there are specific topics that seem to be out of bounds when looking at such a scheme. ‘Applied mathematics’ is presumably STEM in most people’s eyes, at least as long as you’re not too specific about which applications you’re looking at. But for example health economics is *Social Science* because *Economists* are the ones working on that sort of research, so we won’t give you money to use those mathematical tools to figure out e.g. if it makes economic sense to screen people for diabetes, or whether it makes better economic sense to start vaccinating people for influenza when they reach the age of 60 or 70. At least we’ll only give you money to do that kind of thing if you’re a *Medical Statistician*, not if you’re a health economist, because Medical Statisticians are STEM-people and economists aren’t.

          • Reasoner says:

            One solution, of course, would be to make all publicly funded educational institutions purely STEM (I wouldn’t be worried about non-STEM degrees with automation looming anyway), and withdraw all public subsidies from private Universities that teach the creamy soft butter sciences. Then at least we wouldn’t be subsidizing the bias.

            I hear that a lot of the existing PC furor has been orchestrated behind the scenes by non-STEM professors who are seeing their funding cut. So it might be better to let sleeping dogs lie.

          • suntzuanime says:

            That’s weird, my response to that idea is not “let sleeping dogs lie” but “root out this corruption whatever the cost”.

          • nancylebovitz says:

            I’ve heard complaints that string theory is getting way too much resources– no one has been able to pull testable predictions out of it.

            Is this still how things stand? Are there any plausible competing theories?

    • PB says:

      In some respects it’s not a very good measure, either.

      The very religious BYU-Provo got a decent score. But most of the students look and act exactly like one another, and so the administration doesn’t have to deal with free speech and safe space issues as much as more diverse colleges do. (If all students at a Halloween party are white & lean right, it’s probably unlikely that somebody will be offended at a Mexican costume.)

      But a more important point: As a matter of policy, those who are Mormon and decide to leave the church will be expelled from the University. That, to me, is a bigger deal than almost anything else on that list: It punishes heresy, yet there are huge red flags given for things like placemats at Harvard.

      • suntzuanime says:

        If I recall correctly, FIRE’s scores, which this ranking incorporates, focus not exactly on freedom of ideas but on hypocrisy. If a school comes out and explicitly enacts a body of dogma, like BYU, FIRE has no complaint with them because in theory students should know what they are getting into, it’s not like the students who go to lefty universities that talk a big game about diversity. So it’s not clear that this ranking, which purports to tell students what they’re getting into, can actually meaningfully use the FIRE data.

        • PB says:

          Good point. I went to BYU over a period of 7 years, though, and while I did know what I was getting into at the beginning of it, 7 years is a long time to change. And at the point when I wanted to leave the church, changing schools wasn’t a very good option.

        • Jules says:

          Using a score that favours openly dogmatic environments in a ranking of “commitment to viewpoint diversity” seems pretty hypocritical.

          It should be called what it is: a ranking of tolerance of conservative ideas.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It should be called what it is: a ranking of tolerance of conservative ideas.

            Since essentially all universities, with the exception of a very few private and explicitly conservative ones, have tolerance of liberal ideas, tolerance of conservative ideas is extremely well correlated with “commitment to viewpoint diversity”.

          • Jules says:

            That may be arguable for a cloud of data points.
            For a ranking where you’re going to look at the top and bottom names instead of the overall statistics, it’s completely disingenuous.
            To be what it claims to be, it can’t not have the openly dogmatic universities at the bottom.
            But hey, we’re in post-factual times, now.

      • Skotos Holt says:

        BYU-Provo all students at a Halloween party are white & lean right, it’s probably unlikely that somebody will be offended at a Mexican costume

        Last few times I visited the BYU-Provo campus, I would estimate that over one in five of the student body of Latin American ancestry, and over half the student body spoke Spanish, and have a deeper and more honest love and appreciation of Mexican and other Latin American culture than any Progressive “Cultural Appropriation” professional outragist.

        I’m not Mormon, but I’ve lived and worked with many of them for years. Some of the innocent ignorance I see here about the LDS is astounding.

        I really had to laugh at the “wait, there are Scandinavians in Utah?” post. If you go look at any high school in rural Utah, the only place where I saw more tall blue eyed blondes was in Sweden itself.

        • shakeddown says:

          I like Mormons, and BYU sounds like a nice enough place, but it can’t really claim viewpoint diversity when they have a declared policy of expelling people who go against their religion.
          In their defence, they don’t try to claim otherwise. They’re lumped in with the places who wear it as a badge. That’s not just for SJWs.

          • owentt says:

            You don’t have to subscribe to the LDS religion to attend or remain enrolled at BYU.

            If you choose a different faith, you have to pay supplemental tuition because the Y is subsidized by Mormon tithe money. And you need a short letter of good conduct and faithfulness from your local bishop or equivalent minister, pastor, rabbi, imam, lama, priest, or other appropriate experienced spiritual advisor of the religion you do subscribe to. Mormons, of course, can present a temple recommend from their bishops.

          • Tibor says:

            Owentt: what if you’re an atheist?

          • smocc says:

            @Tibor, all students at BYU require continuing ecclesiastical endorsement from an LDS bishop in order to attend the school. The endorsement signifies that the student is complying with the Honor Code, to which all students are bound. There are different Honor Code standards for students who are not LDS. They are not, for example, required to attend church like LDS students are. However, non-LDS students also pay higher tuition ($10,600 versus $5600 ).

            An atheist who is not a member of the church could certainly apply and attend the school. The issue is when students who applied as members of the church change their beliefs and want to disaffiliate from the church, or when a former member applies as a non-member student. Disaffiliation triggers automatic expulsion, and students who wish to remain must re-apply. Apparently there have been some recent changes making the re-application process less onerous, but the automatic expulsion still happens (and I think happened to a friend of mine). (href=http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865660524/BYU-adjusts-honor-code-policies-for-students-who-leave-LDS-Church.html?pg=all>Basic summary here)

            As a Mormon who attended BYU, I dislike the policy, but I understand where it comes from. On the one hand, our beliefs constantly affirm the sacredness of individual conscience and choice and the importance of being true to personal beliefs, and the policy definitely seems in tension with that. On the other hand, if you can apply to the school under one standard of conduct and then change to a different standard of conduct with no consequence, the standards are in danger of being meaningless. (Counterpoint again, the difference in tuition already is a consequence without automatic expulsion.) I tend to defend BYU’s policies, but this is one where I do hope for some change.

        • PB says:

          About 5-6% of the population identify as Latino; some 83% identify as white.

          As a (ex)Mormon of obvious Scandinavian descent, I too thought the post was funny. It’s a relatively small part of American history though, so it’s understandable. I loved Razib’s post; there should be a larger realization of that issue, I think, rather than ascribing to Mormonism some magical powers.

          • Tibor says:

            I think it is equally strange to ascribe magical powers to Scandinavians. Norway is rich mostly because of oil and all of Scandinavia was one of the poorest regions in Europe until adopting classical liberal policies in the 19th century.

            I’m not sure whether that was your point though, sorry if I misunderstood what you were trying to say.

            What is true of both Mormons and Scandinavians though, is a sense of unity which can be rather unappealing to outsiders. The so called Law of Jante is something that keeps everyone “in line” just as the Mormonism does. So Scandinavians may be somehow predisposed towards a religion which requires such uniformity, because the Scandinavian cultures are similar in this.

            Slightly related:
            I heard of a Dutch children’s story about a field where one straw was taller than the others and then it broke in half when the wind blew. The moral is that if you try to be different or better than others, bad things will happen to you. Sort of the exact opposite of individualism. To me it sounds like one of the worst thing one could tell children, but apparently it is not seen that way in the Netherlands and I suspect that it this culture is even stronger in Scandinavia.

    • Reasoner says:

      Well, Mizzou saw a big enrollment drop after its social justice brouhaha. Apparently they had to close 4 dorms.

      Ultimately universities are selling a service to their customers: high school students and their parents. The hope is that the parents see the value of viewpoint diversity, and the high school students haven’t yet been indoctrinated against it.

      The upstream thing to target is the decisions of employers. If Goldman Sachs learns that a Yale education is four years of yelling at professors for having the wrong viewpoint, are they really gonna be lining up to hire Yale grads? And if prestigious employers don’t wanna hire Yale grads, why would rich families shell out big bucks for Yale?

    • “Likewise, if a university gets a low rating from Heterodox Academy and replies by shrugging and saying “That’s ok, we don’t tolerate intolerance and we’re not going to start now”, there will be plenty of progressives willing to back them up and stand by them …”

      Yes. But the information will be useful to people who either hold views likely to be discriminated against or want themselves, or their children, to go to a university that has a wide range of views. If enough people feel that way, there will be an effect not via shaming but via market pressure.

      Consider the problem faced by a good school that wants to raise its ratings–St. Eligius trying to replace Oberlin as the elite college for people with a serious interest in music. To be counted as an elite college you need very good students as defined by high SAT scores and similar measures. But good students want to go to an elite college, which you are not yet.

      One solution is to find some niche containing good students–five percent of the best students in the country would be more than sufficient to fill your entering class–for whom you have some special appeal. St. Eligius, if I correctly interpret our interaction with them when our daughter was looking at schools, targeted home schooled students. Targeting students who have non-left wing views, or like intellectual diversity, or have parents who want to send them to an intellectually diverse school, might also work.

      That requires some way of identifying such schools, which Haidt’s list may provide.

  3. onyomi says:

    Building a little on this conversation (as it relates to education, not ancap), I feel like the takeaway of every study and every experience I have with education is: there’s no such thing (or not much of such a thing) as “base,” “general” knowledge, and to the extent there is, you forget it almost immediately if not learning it for a specific reason or using it frequently. There is little “transfer”: learning Latin doesn’t make you a more systematic thinker. Almost all that matters in a job are skills you learned doing or specifically preparing to do the job.

    Related, I’ve read this is sort of the case with sports: though traits like “strength” and “endurance” are fairly transferable, there is apparently no point to, e. g. a baseball pitcher throwing a lead baseball. You might think it would make his regular pitch faster. But no, it just makes him better at throwing a lead baseball. Throwing a regular baseball engages the nervous system and muscles differently, and while having e. g. a stronger shoulder will help you throw it faster, there’s no transfer which allows e. g. the world’s best shotput thrower to also be good at throwing a baseball.

    • Randy M says:

      Almost all that matters in a job are skills you learned doing or specifically preparing to do the job.

      Other than the innate, you mean? Disposition, willpower, intelligence, etc.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Throwing a lead baseball probably makes him a worse pitcher, because it messes with his ability to throw a real baseball. There’s a lot of trainers who do stuff like that, and all the real evidence suggests that it messes with the skills athletes need, but it makes a certain sort of intuitive sense – “if I can throw a lead baseball fast, imagine how much faster I can throw a real baseball!” It’s inferior strength training, and it throws off skills.

      • psmith says:

        all the real evidence suggests that it messes with the skills athletes need

        Zatsiorsky documents good results with overweight implement training in Science and Practice of Strength Training, although only within certain ranges (a 10% overweight discus helps, a 100% overweight discus doesn’t), and the specific mechanics of a baseball pitch compared to a shot put or a discus throw may be a confounding factor.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Wasn’t Zatsiorsky mostly writing about training for track and field? I haven’t read his book, mind you.

          Baseball pitching is, along with baseball in general, a very high-skill activity. This is one of the reasons that baseball players tend to be among the most portly of athletes, besides HW or SHW athletes in sports with weight classes (who generally don’t have to give a hoot – the extra weight might help in some cases, and the possible conditioning hit is probably outweighed by the advantage of not having to reduce calories, the psychological factor of being able to eat whatever, etc). When the skill bar is that high “this guy won’t stop eating potato chips” isn’t a reason to keep someone out of the talent pool.

          It’s also a high-injury situation. Keeping a baseball pitcher’s shoulder/elbow from crapping out is a high priority, one that affects the decision to keep a pitcher in or take them out, that affects their training with a normal weight baseball … using a heavier ball can’t help with that.

      • Tekhno says:

        I think there’s a mechanical reason here. Regular baseballs require very very little strength to lift but a lot of strength to throw at high speed. A lead baseball would require some level of strength just to lug around all the time, which would end up over-engaging muscles that don’t activate as much in throwing motions. Then when you switch to throwing a lighter ball, sure your throwing muscles have got stronger, but so have muscles that aren’t so involved in throwing, giving you more dead weight and slowing down the throw.

        There’ve been similar crankish ideas in boxing and martial arts training that you can punch with weights in your hand to develop fast punches. Besides the increased momentum leading to joint damage, you end up training strength at right angles to your punch which translates to less useful weight in the same fashion as training with a lead baseball. The proper way to do exotic training in all sorts of sports would be some kind of elastic resistance tailored to act proportionately on the muscles that are most needed to perform the action required.

        • dndnrsn says:

          You do see athletes doing all sorts of wacky stuff with rubber tubing and so on. They likely would be better off training strength and conditioning overall, training the specific muscles they need a bit more, doing some specialized stuff to account for the imbalances and issues their sport creates, and training their skill specifically.

    • Mr Mind says:

      This does get complicated really quickly, so I’ll just add two notes:
      – you still need basic skills to navigate successfully modern society, and you could filed those under “base knowledge”: reading, math, common semiotics, contemporary history, a basic modicum of geography, how the society is structured, etc.
      – obviously you cannot predict at ten what you’ll be doing when you’ll be a grownup, so maybe exposing yourself to a wide-range-low-depth selection of knowledge does help you to understand your best career path.

      I agree though that “transfer” reasons to study subject X is mostly bullshit.

      • onyomi says:

        “reading, math, common semiotics, contemporary history, a basic modicum of geography, how the society is structured”

        Other than reading and maybe the “structure of society” part, are you sure you need these to navigate modern society? I’m pretty sure I see lots of people lacking most of these functioning reasonably well every day.

        Also related to previous discussions on here of IQ and different “types” of intelligence, I am always amazed at how relatively functional and competent many (most?) people in society seem to be despite the fact that, if you gave them a test of what I’d consider bare-minimum knowledge, they’d probably fail it.

        What this proves to my mind is that most people are really bad at retaining any information without direct relevance to their lives (to some extent this may even apply to professor types who seem to possess a lot of esoteric knowledge: their daily lives involve talking about and writing about esoteric stuff, so for them, it’s practical knowledge).

        My general impression is that peoples’ ability to forget even the most seemingly “fundamental” or “basic” knowledge if it’s not relevant to their everyday lives is staggering; equally impressive, however, is the ability of people of merely average-ish or even below average-ish IQ to learn and retain even complex skills and information that, if they didn’t, would e. g. cause them to feel embarrassed in front of their boss, coworkers, friends, and potential romantic partners.

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          Related: “cats are dumb because they don’t follow commands well.”

          Also related: what should psychometrics even be doing for evaluation?

        • Spookykou says:

          I don’t think that the intention of the education system is to prepare people for the particular jobs they will do, in fact I think it is intentionally designed not to do that.

          There is a ‘grand ideal’ that anyone can do anything in the US, rags to riches, boot straps, etc, etc.

          If you take children and give them specific job training you are denying them this ‘chance’ to be whatever they want to be when they grow up by telling them what they are going to be. So our education system is designed to be a broad sampling of anything and everything they could want to be, with disproportionate time spent on high status, high education options(You need this world history class as a foundation if you want to be a professor of Asian studies some day!!). It is intentionally designed not to look like targeted training of particular job skills, especially not anything low status(shop/home economics).

          Your ability to lament the amount of ‘basic knowledge’ that the people you interact with are missing, mostly reflects the difference in your information retention. You are almost certainly above average intelligence, and you could be a much larger sub set of ‘whatever you want to be’ than those people. However, in the modern progressive culture, everyone needs to have that ‘chance’.

          Obviously everyone really can’t be anything they want to be when they grow up, but the fact that our school system is designed around that idea should not surprise anyone.

          It is also probable that the modern K-12 curriculum is increasingly modeled on college over the last few years, which has the same type of problems but for very different, and older reasons.

          P.S. As I am writing this, a commercial came on for a mattress company, half the commercial is children saying “I believe I can be a, high status job”. I have no idea what it has to do with mattresses, but it seemed relevant here.

          • Deiseach says:

            a commercial came on for a mattress company, half the commercial is children saying “I believe I can be a, high status job”. I have no idea what it has to do with mattresses, but it seemed relevant here

            The connection is “Dreams”. “I believe I can be – ” is ‘follow your dream’. Where do you dream? In bed when sound asleep. When do you sleep soundly? When you’re comfortable. How to be comfortable in bed? Buy one of our soft yet supportive affordable luxury mattresses 🙂

          • dndnrsn says:

            I don’t think this is just a “progressive” thing, unless we have gone past the “all conservatives today are really liberals” stage (which is, technically speaking, true, and also has the amusing status of being something that both reactionaries and radicals believe) to “all conservatives today are really progressives”.

            You don’t see many mainstream right-wingers opposing the “everyone has the potential to be a doctor/professor/lawyer/CEO” idea. They just blame different people when it doesn’t turn out that way.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            You don’t see many mainstream right-wingers opposing the “everyone has the potential to be a doctor/professor/lawyer/CEO” idea. They just blame different people when it doesn’t turn out that way.

            Crude and oversimplified:

            Conservative: “Everyone has the potential to succeed, so if they don’t, it’s their fault”

            Progressive: “Everyone has the potential to succeed, so if they don’t, something or someone is holding them back”

            (Neo?)Reactionary: “There are different tiers of people, and hierarchies should reflect that”

            Vox writers (when no one’s listening): “There are different tiers of people, and as the ones in the top tier, it’s our responsability to direct and take care of the lesser ones.

            Libertarians: “Who cares? Fuck off my lawn”

          • onyomi says:

            I’m saying that I think the idea of a “strong foundation” of non-specific knowledge which prepares you to be “anything” when you grow up is largely a myth.* I don’t think it’s possible to agree on what it is, and I don’t think most people retain hardly any of it if it’s not presented in a context of “here’s what I need to know to get where I want to go.”

            Maybe there are a few genuine sine qua nons for everyone like reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, and I certainly have no objection to “career day” type activities (in fact, I think we could use more such things), where you expose children to different job options and what they’ll need to know if they wish to pursue them, but I think that, not only don’t students retain the more advanced knowledge in all the subjects we expose them to, those subjects are currently not taught in such a way as to even help students determine what they want to do: no one said on the first day of calculus class, for example: “here is why you would ever need to do calculus in real life, and if you want jobs like engineer or economist you’re going to need to know this.” I might have paid more attention. As for the people I know who are actually engineers, I’m pretty sure they relearned all the relevant bits after they decided that’s what they wanted to do.

            I think in some ways the real objection isn’t so much that children need “base knowledge” as that we’re uncomfortable shunting them into a rigid career path too early on: little Tommy does badly on his placement test in 1st grade and from then on is doomed to the “plumber” career track when, in reality, he could be a doctor or physicist. This is probably a genuine concern, but it would carry more weight if we did more in school to give children an idea of the career options out there. Currently, the only options we can even contemplate are doctor, lawyer, astronaut, president, and marine biologist.

            *If you want poor children to be able to be anything when they grow up, providing free dentures and elocution lessons are probably more important than any academic subject you could teach them, I’d guess.

          • Tibor says:

            Onyomi: an anecdote about how people forget stuff that’s not immediately useful. About two weeks ago I had a consultation with my advisor, she’s a maths professor with a PhD from Cambridge, I’m a PhD student who will hopefully finish in a year. For a reason we had to use the quadratic formula which actually doesn’t happen so often in higher maths. Neither of us could immediately recall it correctly 🙂

          • Spookykou says:

            @onyomi

            I’m saying that I think the idea of a “strong foundation” of non-specific knowledge which prepares you to be “anything” when you grow up is largely a myth.*

            Agreed, it is a myth the education system is actively trying to foster. There is a very strong drive to specifically avoid exactly what you want from the education system. Imagine a high school councilors who recommend ‘UTI(An Auto mechanic school with an unfortunate acronym)’ or ‘become a plumbers apprentice’ instead of ‘apply to all the colleges!’ in a school today, they are going to get in trouble.

            Compare, anecdata. My mother, a poor Mexican American, born shortly after my grandparents came to the states, ESL, and the first person in her family to go to college. When talking to her high school councilor was told ‘You shouldn’t go to college’, even though she had already been awarded a scholarship.

            The idea of ‘basic knowledge’ beyond the most fundamental elements you mention, is nonsense, most people just don’t remember random trivia that they never use in their day to day, but I think basic knowledge is a minor factor. It is a smokescreen to point to when people ask why the education system looks the way it does(my Asian Studies joke).

            we’re uncomfortable shunting them into a rigid career path too early on: little Tommy does badly on his placement test in 1st grade and from then on is doomed to the “plumber” career track when, in reality, he could be a doctor or physicist.

            This is the primary concern, only the Education System Lexicon defines ‘shunting’ as anything that can ‘reasonable’ be interpreted as pushing someone toward any particular field.

            here is why you would ever need to do calculus in real life, and if you want jobs like engineer or economist you’re going to need to know this

            This might be something they could actually implement more of, and they kind of do this already, assuming you stop at mentioning job fields that need this field of study to all the students, and limit your job fields to high status ones.

            For any bigger change to the system though, I think you would need a minor cultural revolution in terms of the ‘You can be whatever you want to be’ ideology.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Whatever Happened to Anonymous:

            I’d split the “progressive” into a liberal (“the system as it is is at base good, but needs to be fairer”) and a radical (“the system must be torn down because it is bad”) but pretty much, yeah.

          • “For a reason we had to use the quadratic formula which actually doesn’t happen so often in higher maths. Neither of us could immediately recall it correctly”

            Could you derive it? Just a completing the square approach as I remember.

          • rlms says:

            @Tibor
            My impression is that as you start studying higher maths you become less agile, but more solid. You might become slower at algebraic manipulation etc. but you develop in a deeper way which means you can just rederive lower level techniques you forget, even if you struggled to learn them initially.

          • Tibor says:

            @David: Sure. The point is that neither of us could recall it immediately.
            @rlms: I think that’s correct, although I’ve always been pretty slow at arithmetics.

          • Here’s another candidate for the skill everyone needs: the ability to critically analyse information. Look what a disaster the internet has been.

          • Tibor says:

            @TheAncientGeekAKA1Z: Agreed. However, David and other unschoolers quite convincingly argue that the traditional schooling with a fixed curriculum is teaching the opposite of that. You are presented with a textbook and an authority figure (the teacher) who are supposedly always right (that is not really true in practice, I recall being told by the chemistry teacher that glass is “actually a liquid,” which is one of very popular misconceptions. It was not really a part of the curriculum, but nevertheless it was presented during the class as a “fun fact”). Even if they really were 100% correct in all what they say, this still is a bad way to prepare people for the out-of-school environment where 10 people will tell you 10 different “facts” each of which contradicts the other. And you’re right that the Internet has made things even “worse”. On the other hand, Interned made it also much better for the kind of unschooling like alternative education, because while there is a lot if misinformation there, obtaining the actual information has never been easier (or cheaper).

            I would say that there are only two “necessary” skills. English (for the non-English speaking) and critical evaluation of information. With those two skills, you can learn anything else whenever it catches your interest. The knowledge of the English language gives you an access to the largest information pool on Earth and the ability to tell apart information and disinformation gives you a good way to filter most of the bullshit (that way, you may of course still learn something that is wrong, but it is likely not going to be obviously wrong).

            Of course, a prerequisite is being able to read but given how immensely useful these skills are in any developed country, I doubt that abolishing mandatory schooling would lead to any significant decrease in literacy. Developing countries might be a different case, since if you spend your whole life herding sheep or something like that and have no access to the Internet or even rarely visit a city, then reading and writing are not all that useful. I have no strong opinion about whether compelling people like that to read and write by mandatory schooling will make the transition to a developed country faster or not. Even if it is, after a certain point knowing how to read and write will be such absolute necessities to function in that country that it will no longer be needed to force anyone to learn those, people would do so anyway.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          I don’t know if this is what you are saying, but I do think that in general people are “over-schooled.” We put kids in public school for 13 years K-12, and the main result is to keep them off the streets. They learn amazingly little considering how many hours they are in school. There are basics that are worth teaching, such the three R’s for example, and probably some basic civics, geography, and history. In my mind, any other education should be totally voluntary on the part of the students. The downside to this is that schools really do keep kids occupied and out of trouble when they are in the classroom, and I’m not sure how to reconcile this with apparently necessary child care aspect of public school.

          A similar argument could be made about higher ed. I have a four year accounting degree. The actual classes I used for my profession took about a year. But one has to have a four year degree to be considered a professional, so my other three years got filled with more classes to prove that I could pass them too. Perhaps some of these classes were worthwhile, but requiring them before I could practice as a professional is stupid and a vast waste of time.

          • At a slight tangent on the K-12 issue. I agree that only a few of the things taught are ones almost everyone will find useful, most obviously how to read. For the rest, I think the best approach is not to figure out what the student will need as an adult, both because that’s hard to do and because things are not likely to be learned very well if the only reason to learn them is that someone tells you they will be useful ten years from now.

            The best approach is to encourage the kid to learn things he finds interesting. He is more likely to learn them, more likely to develop a positive approach to learning things. And they may prove useful.

            One of my arguments for unschooling.

        • Spookykou says:

          Its not what I am saying, but it doesn’t conflict with my point at all. I was mostly addressing the idea that schools just give out a bunch of useless information that people don’t need for their jobs. This is intentional on the part of the schools and a fundamental part of the modern US morality around education.

          Another point in favor of schools(they need all the help they can get), I heard of a study recently that seemed to say kids gained more weight over the summer, so schools might actually be helping to fight childhood obesity.

          The issue with college is far older and has more to do with the original purpose of colleges, which was to make high born people interesting at parties.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Here’s my steelman:

      Most of high school education is useless to a significant percent of the population. However, it’s probably important for the intelligent people to be exposed to a wide variety of subjects so they know exactly what interests them and where their comparative advantage is. However, if you let these kids do whatever they want, they will simply choose easy subjects or not do anything at all. They need that extra motivation. Now you could simply teach the smart ones and leave the dumb ones to do whatever they want. However, figuring out who is good at certain subjects is non-trivial. If you don’t force everyone to do it, some kids might slip through the cracks and end up in a less optimal situation in the long run. It’s a lot more difficult to teach yourself geometry when you’re 25 and on your own than when you have all the support that a class provides. Even worse, some kids may try to hide their intelligence in order to work less. So it needs to be universal for that reason.

      I only agree with about 25% of this though. A couple suggestions I think could work:

      Give some “pop-academic” books to freshman and ask them to pick their subjects from there.

      Let them graduate sooner if they complete more difficult courses.

      Offer incentives for completing a wider variety of subjects.

      Pay them directly for completing classes

      Focus more on letting kids learn at their own pace. We have computers. This should have been done over a decade ago. This should especially work on easy classes such as health and civics which don’t deserve to have an entire semester devoted to them.

      On the subject, focus more on kids retaining information rather than be able to regurgitate it long enough to pass the test. Instead of kids learning all at the same pace and moving on even if someone failed the last test, each kid would have to get over a certain percentage of test questions right to move forward. Teachers could become more like tutors than lecturers.

      Opening up schools that teach high school subjects to adults. Not only could someone who barely got through geometry have another chance, it could also free up colleges from having to provide remedial classes. This should significantly lower the problems with kids “slipping through the cracks”.

      Obviously, give more options on technical training rather than just pure academic subjects.

      Move discussions online where the kid is anonymous to everyone but the teacher. Kids are shy, this could be the simplest way to raise participation and raise the chances of the kid speaking their mind rather than being concerned with what their peers think. Bonus points if these discussions involve a wide variety of children across the country or even possibly the world.

    • Alexp says:

      Baseball pitcher’s might not throw lead baseballs, but they’ll still lift weights and do flexibility workouts. Position players might do crossfit or other full body workouts. They certainly don’t do nothing but play baseball.

      In other sports where skillsets aren’t so hyperfocused, there’s even more cross-training. A lot of NFL players do MMA or wrestling, for example.

      Basically, there is a general factor of Athleticism or “In-Shapeness.” Michael Jordan might not have been good enough to make the Majors in Baseball, but he’s almost certainly dominate your beer league softball game.

      • Adam says:

        Yes. Elite-level skills in one sport don’t usually transfer to elite-level skills in another sport. Bo Jackson may be the only person that really did that. But Bruce Jenner or someone like that almost certainly would be better at pretty much any conceivable sport than me.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Caitlyn Jenner was a decathlete. The entire purpose of multi-sport track-and-field athletes like decathletes is to be good at a whole bunch of sports (but not great by the standards of any of those sports individually).

          • Adam says:

            Precisely why I chose a person with great general athletic ability, though frankly, Usain Bolt would probably beat me at nearly anything he took the time to try to be good at, too.

  4. antimule says:

    Somewhat similar to your old “I can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup” article, but more specific, David Wong explains the role of urban/rural divide in the rise of Trump:

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/

    (Ignore the terrible title there)

    • nelshoy says:

      I’ll throw in another horse’s mouth who-the-hell-are-Trump-supporters link, one that actually corrected some of my misperceptions I had (Trump households richer than Sanders or Clintons!).

      • decadence says:

        Trump households richer than Sanders or Clintons

        This is despite the fact that Trump had the poorest voters of the three major republican candidates, lagging Kasich by $19,000 on average. Also remember that the pool of voters in the republican primary elections is completely disjoint from the pool of voters in the democratic primaries.

    • Tekhno says:

      It almost seems like the USA needs two separate systems of government for its cities and its rural areas. Or perhaps one of the parties just needs to apply all the progressive stuff federally only to heavily urbanized areas, and then all the rurals get a state’s rights type deal. A sort of state’s rights but with exemptions. Urbans get a $15 minimum wage and strong gun controls (and walls to keep out the bumpkins), and red states get to decide stuff on a state level.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        That’s a big part of old-fashioned libertarianism. Let each community decide for itself what laws it needs instead of a one-size-fits-all. Of course, that means people in Kansas read the Bible, so we can’t have that.

        • Brad says:

          That’s not libertarianism, it’s federalism (sometimes called localism, esp. outside the US).

        • Tekhno says:

          It’s different from regular federalism in that the conservative strongholds would act like states in their own federation, whereas since the progressives like to unify things, the progressive strongholds would have a unified system applying the city/progressive ruleset to all their areas equally; strong business regulation, strong welfare state, strong gun control, sexual freedom, etc.

          While we’re LARPing – you’d of course need some kind of over-system above the two independent systems like a treaty government organizing their interactions but not internal policies, and you’d need easing for the scattered progressive areas so that they could link up. Lots of internal border walls and crisscrossing enclosed mega-highways linking up the elements of these intertwined but completely parallel societies. Yeah, this is good sci-fi…

        • Eli says:

          Being a lifelong city-dweller, my problem isn’t that people in Kansas read the Bible. It’s that the American federal system so over-represents rural people that the rural Kansans end up getting to pass laws that override or prohibit what urbanites want to do in our urban areas.

          A good example is the current battle over minimum-wage laws in many states: “progressive” (actually just expensive to live in) cities work up a social movement and pass a law raising the minimum wage, often by referendum. The representatives of the ruralites and employers in the state legislature then pass a law overriding all municipal- and county- level labor laws, forcing labor standards back down against the will of the impacted voters.

          We don’t have rural people being forced to change their customs by cruel outsider progressives marching in with government force. We have the rural upper class banding together to ban the urban working class from successfully pushing their interests at a local level, forcing fights to go a level up.

          Likewise, lots of us Bostonians who take the T would be happy to pay a higher gasoline tax to fucking fix the fucking trains, and the potholes too. We vote for higher gas taxes, and at least for indexing the gas tax to inflation. Then wealthy suburban and exurban professionals band together and pass a measure forcing the gas tax to be de-indexed from inflation, forcing us to fight to keep public-transit funding at the same level it was already at every year. We urbanites are being forced into situations were we lose more and more every year, by default, by rich suburban, exurban, and rural citizens who literally don’t want to pay a constant amount of real dollars for their own roads and trains each year.

          • Randy M says:

            Your first example sounds like a very valid complaint, although there are likely consequences to the rural who work with these businesses.

            Your second example sounds like people who drive less wanting to raise taxes on gas, and people who drive more wanting to lower taxes on gas; this is exactly the situation one would expect regardless of federalism.
            Or were these strictly city gas taxes, not state (like we have rather high in CA)?
            What about a vote to raise the fare on city transportation?

        • Tekhno says:

          Being a lifelong city-dweller

          Then your perspective might be one sided.

          We don’t have rural people being forced to change their customs by cruel outsider progressives marching in with government force.

          What is gun control? What are minimum wage laws even – the example you give – that could be higher in the cities but not in rural communities with lower median wages? Hillary Clinton wants a $12 national minimum wage, so yes, if it’s being applied at the national level equally to all communities regardless of their composition then yes it does involve the feds marching in to level things.

          But I think it works both ways, and that conservatives essentially do the same thing on different issues. I don’t blame either group for this because there’s nothing they can do but act this way when compelled to fight over the same pie.

          A good example is the current battle over minimum-wage laws in many states: “progressive” (actually just expensive to live in) cities work up a social movement and pass a law raising the minimum wage, often by referendum. The representatives of the ruralites and employers in the state legislature then pass a law overriding all municipal- and county- level labor laws, forcing labor standards back down against the will of the impacted voters.

          This supports exactly what I’m saying. You need city-level independent control over minimum wages, not mere state’s rights, otherwise you get conservative states trying to put down progressive cities, and then progressives going one level higher and putting down conservative states with a federal law, and then nobody is happy. There is no solution that suits all environments equally. Cities are a thing unto themselves and have different characteristics to the rural areas, so they need some degree of independent law where it can be internalized, such as labor laws.

          • Nebfocus says:

            You need city-level independent control over minimum wages, not mere state’s rights, otherwise you get conservative states trying to put down progressive cities, and then progressives going one level higher and putting down conservative states with a federal law, and then nobody is happy.

            This. Both sides need to force their policies (or negate the other’s) becomes an arms race which often ends up at the federal level (or SCOTUS). This is unreasonable and we should find a way to avoid it.

          • John Schilling says:

            One way to accomplish this is to establish literal city-states, with the largest metropolitan areas being states in their own right and the rest of the states being more rural in character(*). Note that in Germany, Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen are states in their own right.

            For constitutional reasons we have DC, but for constitutional reasons we are unlikely to ever have more than that. But anyone with fantasies about breaking up e.g. California or Texas into half a dozen states, this is how you do it. Do not be deceived by the supposed requirement that states look state-sized on a purely geographic map.

            * Which in the modern era means most people live in cities of no more than a million people where the dominant industry and culture is closely coupled with the surrounding low-density agricultural/mining/tourism communities.

          • Tibor says:

            @John Schilling: But also note that while Germany is a federal republic, it is way more centralized than Switzerland or the US.

        • Civilis says:

          A good example is the current battle over minimum-wage laws in many states: “progressive” (actually just expensive to live in) cities work up a social movement and pass a law raising the minimum wage, often by referendum. The representatives of the ruralites and employers in the state legislature then pass a law overriding all municipal- and county- level labor laws, forcing labor standards back down against the will of the impacted voters.

          Which state do you live in where this is occurring? In most cases where I’ve seen state laws take precedence over local laws, either the original local law was too broad (enacted by a local ‘city’ or county government that has dominion over both a urban and rural area) or the state law is a compromise between rural and urban interests (city enacts $12 minumum wage, rural areas don’t want a minimum wage, state legislators compromise on $9 statewide minimum wage with a poorly crafted bill).

          Most of the cases that make the news where a statewide minimum wage is problematic are places like New York, where the legislature is dominated by urban voters that inflict a $15 minimum wage (which may make sense for NYC) on the rest of the state by fiat.

      • Deiseach says:

        Urban/rural divide happens everywhere. Dublin, being our largest population centre, badly skews everything in Ireland (doesn’t help that the national media, seat of government, headquarters of all the major financial institutions, etc. are located there as well). It’s a bubble of its own, and it’s common to hear reports on the news about “X families homeless… in Dublin” – homelessness is the current attention-grabbing problem facing our government, and it’s a national problem, but if you went by the media it only affects Dublin. The rest of the country gets the scraps that fall from Dublin’s table. That’s why “parish pump politics” has such a grip still on the country – it’s an old saw but true: you’ll get nothing unless you have a Minister from your county.

        Large population centres tend to be the seats of power, and if there’s a problem, the locals and/or activist groups can easily march up to the doorstep of the government or local government or responsible authority, get national coverage for their protest on the major media outlets, etc. Like the parable of the widow and the unjust judge – she can keep accosting him and annoying him until he gives her what she wants. It’s a different story if the widow has to travel a couple of hundred miles to try and meet the judge.

      • dragnubbit says:

        In 1900, the US was 60% rural/40% urban.
        In 2015, the US is 20% rural/80% urban (this lumps suburban in with urban).

        Rural areas are, in general, subsidized by urban taxes, and already have a disproportionate influence in both state and national legislatures. What more do they need?

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          This is entirely besides the point. Whether I as a metro resident of Chicago pay for infrastructure development in parts of DuPage county does not affect whether rural parts of DuPage County need $15/hour minimum wage and above-ADA compliant toilets, which might be a good idea in the Chicago-metro area.

          To use another specific point by the poster: why on God’s Green Earth would that affect my opinion on firearms policy in freakin’ Richmond, Illinois? If I pay taxes to build a water tower in Richmond, how does that substantially affect whether we can have superior government by separating our decisions on magazine capacities?

          • Matt M says:

            Gun control may be a bad example here, as the argument is typically something like “sure our draconian gun control policies do not appear to be working, but that’s because a neighboring jurisdiction DIDN’T ban 30 round magazines so people just go buy them there and use them here”

            Similar logic is applied to almost every policy. Obamacare isn’t working because Republican governors didn’t set up exchanges. Immigration controls aren’t working because liberals support sanctuary cities. The failure of any given policy X is virtually never attributed to policy X – it’s always the fault of policy X’s opponents.

          • Adam says:

            This problem very clearly seems to be we have the whole scope of separation of powers wrong. Tiebout equilibrium happens at the level of cities and counties and is totally thwarted and ruined by states, yet the people most opposed to federal overreach in the U.S. are obsessed with giving more power to states. And the other people are obsessed with giving more power to the feds. There is no reason at all that wage-setting or gun control should extend beyond city boundaries, but if we’re going to have some level of wealth redistribution like city taxes paying for rural water towers, that kind of has to.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Honestly, I’m rather skeptical of the whole subsidy claim.

            While its true that rural dweller’s pay massively more per capita for infrastructure than urban dwellers, and consume a proportionally greater amount of tax revenue as a result. The fact of the matter is that a lot of that infrastructure goes to supporting the urban areas.

            To use a local example, the CRA may run through the Inland Empire, but it’s Los Angeles that needs the water.

          • Adam says:

            Probably happens more at the federal level than state. Not necessarily in super obvious ways, but even just something like a military installation that completely supports a local economy in the middle of nowhere. The money to pay for that necessarily came mostly from somewhere else. That’s not inherently a bad thing. There’s no obvious way we could do it any differently. There’s an insufficient tax base to draw from where the installation is located and putting it in a rich city would be impractical and wouldn’t even obviously benefit the city. And national defense kind of has to be national.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Adam
            That’s just the thing though, the last time I had this argument with Bitter Lefty Anon, he made a big thing out of how military spending and things like the Colorado River Project, Dakota Access Pipeline and Interstate Highway system were all examples of urban dwellers subsidizing rural dwellers and that if the urbanites had any sense they’d cut the funding and “starve the rednecks out”.

            My response was it won’t just be rednecks starving so can it really be called a subsidy? How long would Los Angeles last without food and water from the central valley? My guess is not long at all.

        • dragnubbit says:

          @Beta

          I guess I failed to detect the point in the original post. Best I can understand it, it was advocating some sort of electoral districts/laws/enforcement that set the rules for all cities, and a different set of electoral districts/laws/enforcement that set the rules for all rural areas, with only rurals voting for the rural-affecting laws and only urbans voting for the urban-affecting laws. And the implication was that this was to protect the ‘rurals’ from officious progressive claptrap.

          I attempted to point out that not only do urbans far out-number rurals, but that it is the urbans that are funding disproportionately the education/transportation/welfare for the rural areas. Even in red states, it is their urban areas that tend to be more dynamic and their rural areas that are static or decaying.

          This is relevant because if you federalize the rurals then the subsidies should stop, and because rurals are already far over-represented in the current system and generally get their way more often than not.

          I am all for providing municipal governments with more autonomy. My last question was basically – ‘what is the beef that rural areas have?’ Anti-discrimination laws?

    • Urstoff says:

      Disappointed that this is not David Wong the philosopher. I would have liked to hear his take on things.

    • IrishDude says:

      I voted for Johnson today. Nothing in the video (what came before in the clip?) would change who I think has the best set of character, experience, and policy proposals among the candidates. He seemed to be irked about a tax question, but without more context I’m not sure how to interpret his emotional response.

      • Sandy says:

        The clip is here. It starts at about 4:00.

        • IrishDude says:

          Seems like he was on a short fuse but it’s a bit difficult to tell how much some of his anger moments I’ve seen in the media are him being short tempered and how much have been deliberate attempts to show passion in his campaign. He seemed annoyed to me, but I thought his retort about showing leadership on taxes was a reasonable rebuttal to the statement that no major economists support abolishing the income tax.

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        I voted for Johnson a week ago by absentee ballot. How many people actually vote based on the personal qualities of the candidates? For national offices at least I always vote based on parties, because the party in power has a much greater effect on the direction of the nation than any individual politician. I think most people recognize this and so know which party they will vote for long before the primaries are done. And this is even more true for third party candidates, who won’t become president anyway.

        I live in a blue state that will assuredly choose Hillary (if Trump decided he was a Dem and instead won that party’s primaries, then they would vote for him). I do prefer that Hillary win the election because the Republicans are almost sure to maintain their lock on the House, and my main concern is to maintain a split in power between the parties. But since my state is always blue, I voted for Johnson to give the LP a little power in the next race, and probably in the minds of winning politicians if they see libertarians doing better.

    • Tibor says:

      He does not strike me as a very smart or articulate advocate of liberty, but he still largely supports the (in my view) correct policies and perhaps more importantly, he’s managed to implement some of them on the state level. The same cannot be said of Clinton and pretty much nothing can be said about what Trump actually supports, although he will at least have to make it appear like he is doing some of the stuff he promised to do if he gets elected and that stuff is mostly pretty bad.

      On the other hand, I feel like it is a shame that of all people it had to be him who represents the libertarian platform in the elections. Given how horrible the two major candidates are (regardless of what your political views are), if the Libertarians actually managed to choose a candidate who is not extremely bad at PR, they might have a small but realistic chance of actually getting their man (or woman) to the oval office. It makes some sense in that he’s got experience as a governor and he’s somehow managed to win the elections to become one, but apparently the presidential campaigns are a lot tougher and mentally and emotionally straining than the New Mexico ones.

      Also, despite all his flaws, he seems to actually believe in and care about the politics he supports. Again, that cannot even remotely be said of either Clinton or Trump (although it probably does hold for Stein and Sanders).

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        Sadly, he was the best the Libertarians could’ve done. Petersen had a similar blowup during the primaries on conservative Steve Deace’s radio show (and he’s the candidate who was supposed to have appealed to conservatives) and McAfee was, well, McAfee.

        I suspect the LP will go back to nominating lifer activists in 2020, after Barr and now Johnson have shown that nominating obscure former Republicans isn’t a ticket to any kind of Strange New Respectability. Negative partisanship is just so high nowadays that “we have a REAL small government guy” just won’t get you any stick when people are voting mostly against Clinton rather than for any particular vision. And while Johnson had the right idea in trying to build bridges to the left, he doesn’t realize that your pitch has to acknowledge the differences rather than ignoring them and pivoting to marijuana. (Weld’s gone off the reservation entirely at this point, although I can’t say I blame him. But he should’ve known that shifting to the left was a tactical error if your goal is to stop Trump from a third-party.)

      • Reasoner says:

        extremely bad at PR

        I don’t think Gary is bad at PR so much as career politicians have spent their entire lives learning to come across as polished in interviews, with reporters who are often trying to trip them up. There are only 50 state governors, and Gary was one of them at one point. What are the odds that he got there by being “extremely bad at PR”?

        • Tibor says:

          OK, perhaps not extremely bad. But definitely nowhere near good enough. For the better or worse, PR is a huge part of this and that is true even of your goal is as humble as to make people more acquainted with libertarian ideas. At best, Johnson will convince some people that libertarians aren’t just a different kind of Republicans but he won’t inspire many people who don’t know much about them to take libertarians seriously.

    • Tekhno says:

      Dementia? It makes you aggressive too.

  5. shakeddown says:

    Re: the payday loan article:

    But consider: The people who take these loans – who are disproportionately poor people of colour – also know about the horror stories. In fact, they probably know more about payday lending than you do.

    As this also applies to heroin addicts, it doesn’t really seem like a good argument; the complaint about payday loans in the first place is that they know how to take advantage of people like this, and this doesn’t address that.

    Now, think about that for a moment – how many businesses do you know about with 98% positive reviews? Even great businesses don’t get that!

    That seems way too high, even if payday loans are the best thing since sliced bread. Considering this was a study done by the payday loan company, I’m inclined to be suspicious.

    That said, this has convinced me there might be something to defending payday loans from regulation. But I’d want to see evidence from someone without quite this big an axe to grind.

    • antimule says:

      Yeah. I am all for Scott’s contrarianism, but this is just plain dubious. He is in danger of turning into Chesterton.

    • IrishDude says:

      If you think profits from payday loans are too high, start a competitor business with lower interest rates and take market share.

      • Nebfocus says:

        This. Reason has defended payday loans multiple times. Here is one.

      • antimule says:

        That’s like saying “If you hate heroin, create heroin that is not as addictive.” I mean it is possible to defend payday loans if you have certain (highly unconventional) morality, but that is similar to defending heroin.

        As for Reason defending payday loans, that is expected. They are Libertarians, so every conclusion they make will that government regulation is bad, just like every conclusion evangelical christian makes will be how you have to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Idiot fucker that you are, your thesis is that the specific aspect of the loans that keeps the helpless customers coming back against what would be their better judgment if they were as Enlightened as you is the high interest rates? Give me a break.

          • antimule says:

            Stay classy. It appears that SJWs aren’t the only people who get triggered. Brave rationalists here have sore spots, too.

          • suntzuanime says:

            The report button is missing and I am having to make do.

          • antimule says:

            Well, although I am not proud of losing patience and making a smartass replay, it is just plain strange to report someone for something you started. Calm down.

          • MugaSofer says:

            Given that it would have been totally unreasonable to report that comment, that doesn’t actually excuse being rude.

            With that said, antimule, “what if this is like heroin” seems like a fully general counterargument for ignoring people’s preferences. There are obvious and compelling reasons why people would want payday loans cited in the article.

            (Which doesn’t seem to be linked anywhere? Was it on Scott’s list before?)

          • Deiseach says:

            You need money now (to pay utility bill, kid needs a new pair of shoes, whatever) but you won’t get paid until next week. You take out a loan. You have to repay the loan plus interest. Fair enough.

            Payday comes. You pay back what you borrowed plus interest. Fair enough.

            Except now you’re short during the week. And maybe you can’t make up that shortfall by working extra hours or finding some other source of income. So now you take out another loan. Rinse and repeat.

            It becomes easier to take out a rolling loan, paying off small amounts weekly rather than the whole thing, renewing the loan up to the limit when you have part of it paid off. The lender is encouraging you to do this.

            What this means is that you’re stuck. You’re eventually paying out more than you’ve borrowed, more than you would have if you could have taken out a loan with a bank or credit union. You’re committed to this unnecessary expense for years until you get clear, if you ever get clear.

            Lenders are regulated because otherwise loansharks move in and take advantage, and that’s not a Big Government Scare Story, that’s fact. That’s why there’s regulation. Because hard cases make bad law, and unregulated lenders do things like taking children allowances’ books and pension books. Criminal gangs get involved in this small-scale money lending, and they’re not too fussy about observing the borrowers’ rights.

            If people were smart, they’d know better than to take out these loans. But not everyone is smart. Or maybe you’re smart but desperate: you need $300 now to pay rent or be evicted. You won’t get a loan from a bank, your family can’t afford to lend you that, where do you turn? You take a bad bargain because that’s what your choice comes down to.

            And it’s not just the lower classes; plenty of middle-class and above people have been bamboozled into taking out unnecessary insurance policies or pension plans by financial agencies more interested in maximising their profits rather than the best deal for the customer.

            The Wells Fargo scandal mentioned on here is an example of that. Without regulation, anything goes. And the most vulnerable need help. We can, of course, say “If you’re poor, desperate and not smart enough to see through the enticing offers and the sales job, then too bad for you”, but that’s another question.

          • Many libertarian schemes for deregulation are turning the clock back to previous times when the regulation hadn’t been introduced, and in many cases have known consequences which amount to ,poor or stupid people suffering. That s basically only acceptable to a conservative value system , hence the usual apprehension of libertarianism as right way wing.

          • Tibor says:

            @TheAncientGeekAKA1Z: A more charitable interpretation is that libertarians believe that that regulation is on net harmful and getting rid of it helps more people than it harms. For example:”Some people might end up buying snake oil, or even things that hurt them, but abolishing state-enforced regulation in medication also makes the actually useful medicine cheaper and sooner and more widely available”. You might disagree with that but hopefully, you can at least recognize that this is not motivated by any “social darwinism” or whatnot.

            Another thing is that you can have regulation without the state and many things that would be hard to do in the 19th century are much easier and cheaper with modern communications. It is much easier to have agencies that review products and give it stamps of quality (or just safety) and finance themselves either by subscriptions or by advertising things they do not review. In fact, those agencies actually exist today already, except that they do not test drugs. They do test bicycle helmets for example, and publish the results to their subscribers. I buy most of the stuff that costs above say an equivalent of 100 USD based on these tests (the added bonus is that I end up choosing between three or four very good products instead of 40, some of which are mediocre and some outright bad).

          • Murphy says:

            @Tibor,

            The unfortunate bit is that actual properly testing drugs to even just a vaguely reasonable standard is tens of thousands of times more expensive than testing the strength of vacuum cleaners or the durability of helmets and that expense is real, not just an artifact or regulation.

            doing proper testing of safety and efficacy is so much more expensive that it’s cheaper to just buy extra marketing.

            For context the entire coca cola advertising budget is still smaller than the profits from 1 moderately successful drug.

            You’re never going to see Which magazine “best buy drugs” and if you do it’s going to be literally worthless.

            People don’t like to admit to themselves that their preferred system simply cannot solve some problems: anarchy/libertarianism simply does not lead to a world in which doctors have access to acceptable quality safety/efficacy data on drugs.

            Other aspects of such a system might make that worthwhile to you but this is simply one area where any claims that the problem will magically be solved indicate lack of any understanding of the scope of the problem.

          • Tibor says:

            @Murphy: Even if you’re right*, we could still move much more in that general direction and do it for reasons other than “let the stupid and weak die”. In fact, for reasons that are quite the opposite of these. Even if you disagree with that, my point is that while libertarians might be mistaken, it is not all that clear that their motivations are largely those described by The Ancient Geek.

            (I think you still paint too grim a picture,in the absence of regulation, it would be enough for a drug to be approved in Germany for example in order for you to be able to label it as ok on the US market, also I remember the discussion here about he standard of the FDA changing from safe to ink you still paint too grim a picture,in the absence of regulation, it would be enough for a drug to be approved in Germany for example in order for you to be able to label it as ok on the US market, also I remember the discussion here about he standard of the FDA changing from safe to safe and actually useful without a clear effect on the quality of sold drugs. Although I do admit I do not know to much about the topic of drugs regulations.

          • Murphy says:

            @Tibor

            Would that be the discussion where David Friedman turned up really late citing a paper which made that claim? (https://www.jstor.org/stable/1830639?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents).

            Did you read the paper? When i actually looked into the methods of the paper it was a joke, I can only hope literally so.

            Under the method the author used a drug would be considered physically more effective if the company ran an effective ad campaign “feeling down? ask your doctor about enditol!”

            It was spectacularly bad and nobody should *ever* base their opinions on that paper. The author was not an expert in pharmaceuticals, medecine, chemistry or any science, they just made “sciency” sounding statements that were more on a par with a chatty blog post.

            Does he look at efficacy of drugs before and after the change? God no!
            No, that would be peasant thinking!
            No, he looks at purchases of the drugs and uses that as a proxy. Seriously.

            Highlights:

            “sophisticated hospital purchasers have always been able to discern ineffective drugs “

            hint: ot they have not.

            Before evidence based medicine it took hundreds of years to convince these “sophisticated” individuals that washing their hands between sticking them inside corpses and inside women giving birth might be a good idea. Experts are not magical and are terrible at dealing with things at the levels where you need clinical trials to spot the effects.

            it’s like when physics professors start talking about racial purity and consciousness without any background in genetics or neuroscience.

            http://www.smbc-comics.com/comics/20120321.gif

            The best that can be said about the paper is that most things you’ll find about assessing drugs from the era back when it was published read like amateur-hour. They were still fumbling around finding out all the ways to totally cock up assessing drugs. It’s merely a particularly low quality example.

            It’s like when you read an old paper from the 1800’s talking about “vital force” and miscreant vapors

          • Tibor says:

            @Murphy: I think that’s it. I admit that I had not read it, but since nobody challenged that before I stopped paying attention to the thread, I assumed it was a legitimate source. I also admit that I am probably not going to read it now either, but based on your comment I will disregard it. I might end up reading it myself if someone challenges you and defends that article here, making me unsure about who’s right.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            MugaSofer: Thank you for actually posting the link!

          • “I admit that I had not read it, but since nobody challenged that before I stopped paying attention to the thread, I assumed it was a legitimate source. I also admit that I am probably not going to read it now either, but based on your comment I will disregard it.”

            Because Murphy thinks a paper published by a prominent scholar in a respectable journal is trash you not only accept his view but don’t plan to read the paper to decide for yourself? That seems like a poor tactic.

            Peltzman used a number of different ways of evaluating the effect of a change in drug laws, in particular whether they raised the average quality of new drugs. Murphy thinks they are all terrible, but does not offer any better ways of doing it.

            Read the paper and decide for yourself.

            “The author was not an expert in pharmaceuticals, medecine, chemistry or any science”

            Just in economics and statistics, which were the sciences relevant to what he was doing. Is Murphy proposing that he should have independently tested thousands of drugs for effectiveness?

            He used several different market measures of the outcome. Do you disagree with the claim that hospitals are better informed about drug quality than the average purchaser? With the claim that information about the quality of a drug improves over time due to experience? With the claim that expert committees making recommendations for state formularies (specifically Illinois and California) are better judges of quality than the average prescribing physician? Those were the assumptions that went into three of the tests he used. They all gave the same result, so dismissing the result requires that all of them be wrong.

            What is your (Tibor’s or Murphy’s) proposal about better measures of what he wanted to measure that don’t require a fifty billion dollar budget?

          • rlms says:

            @David Friedman
            You don’t have to be able to give a better method of conducting a study to be able to criticise it; sometimes the subject is just difficult to measure properly. If you criticise my planned mission to Mars using an empty can and some bits of string, I can’t defend it by saying “well, let’s see you do better (without a large budget)”.

          • Murphy, criticizing Peltzman, writes:

            “Highlights:

            “sophisticated hospital purchasers have always been able to discern ineffective drugs “

            hint: ot they have not. ”

            The relevant passage actually reads:

            “If sophisticated hospital purchasers have always been able to discern ineffective drugs more easily than over-optimistic, unsophisticated, ordinary buyers, then we should observe” (followed by a list of implications).

            Note the distinction between Murphy’s “able to discern ineffective drugs” and Peltzman’s “able to discern ineffective drugs more easily than over-optimistic, unsophisticated, ordinary buyers.”

            Also the omission of the word “if” from Murphy’s quote of the passage.

            This is evidence that it is imprudent to dismiss an article on the basis of what Murphy says it says.

          • glenra says:

            @David Friedman
            [on Peltzman]

            Read the paper and decide for yourself.

            Is a non-paywalled version available?

            (In googling for one, I did find this, which seems to reach similar conclusions while bringing in a wider variety of sources.)

          • “Is a non-paywalled version available?”

            The version linked to earlier isn’t paywalled. You have to register but you only have to pay if you want to download it–reading online is free.

          • Tibor says:

            @David: I think it’s not such a bad approach. There is a number of people here who do not share Murphy’s views and if they do not object, it is a mild evidence that his claims are justified. My answer to him was intentionally written in a way that would provoke a reaction from someone who disagrees with him, possibly providing me with extra information without the need to go through the paper myself and helping me decide whether reading it is worth it. It seems to have worked.

          • “You don’t have to be able to give a better method of conducting a study to be able to criticise it”

            True. But you do have to understand what the study is doing.

            The question is whether the change in regulatory requirements that cut the number of new drugs coming on the market in half did so simply by making it more expensive to bring a new drug on the market or by eliminating the drugs that should be eliminated–those that are not actually a useful improvement on what is already out there.

            Murphy writes:

            “The author was not an expert in pharmaceuticals, medecine, chemistry or any science”

            That would be relevant if the appropriate way to answer that question required such expertise. Presumably he is imagining Peltzman separately looking at the characteristics of several thousand drugs to see whether the ones introduced after the change in requirements were, on average, better than the ones introduced before.

            What Peltzman actually did, which Murphy does not explain and quite possibly does not understand, was to look at how, on average, newly introduced drugs performed on the market over time, using several different measures of market performance designed to focus on particularly sophisticated markets.

            Over time, information about how well a drug works accumulates. If the effect of the change was to eliminate the useless drugs, which is what it was supposed to be doing, then new drugs introduced after the change should hold up better over time, on average, than new drugs introduced before the change.

            They didn’t. Hence the conclusion that the result of the change was to cut in half the rate of introduction of new drugs without any measurable effect on their average quality.

          • Murphy says:

            You left out my more specific objections.

            There’s a particular world view that seems to be popular among some that there somehow isn’t any hard physical reality.

            Hard physical reality: does drug X actually work to treat Y.

            If we want to measure that hard physical reality a proxy of “what were the sales like” does not cut it

            As I mentioned under such an approach an ad campaign would make a drug look more effective despite having zero effect on the hard physical reality of whether the compound actually works.

            other things which have zero effect on actual efficacy but would also boost a drugs performance under this analysis include drug companies paying doctors who prescribe their drugs(http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150523/MAGAZINE/305239987) or inviting them on all-expenses-paid trips (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2008/aug/23/health.pharmaceuticals)

            Sales numbers are not a proxy for efficacy.

            It’s like someone deciding that we don’t really need a particle accelerator to do particle physics, instead we can just look at the watts of power bought by customers running off energy grids which get their power from different types of existing and running nuclear power station and guess which are higher energy reactions from that.

          • glenra says:

            @Murphy

            Sales numbers are not a proxy for efficacy.

            …and hate-skimming is not a substitute for reading a paper. 🙂

            Now that I’ve read it, I’m pretty sure you skipped over large parts including (a) the “chatty blog post” bits wherein Peltzman explains what he’s trying to do and why, and (b) the part wherein he tries several other ways to measure the same thing – not all of which were based on sales numbers – and reaches similar conclusions.

            One of his findings (initially a hypothesis, but later work confirmed it) was that the trend over time in sales numbers is a proxy for efficacy. On average, “effective” drugs maintain their market value better than ineffective ones do. Drugs that don’t work (as judged by a medical panel, not just by Peltzman) can start out selling as well as other drugs, but substantially drop in popularity over time. The fact is that people and doctors and hospitals NOTICE a drug isn’t working and gradually become less likely to prescribe or request or consume it; this shows up in the sales curve as a downward slope. One can use math to look for such curves as a way of spotting possibly-bad drugs; Peltzman did that.

            Now, it’s true – as you say – that marketing and bribery alone can also increase short-term sales. But do you really want to claim drug companies pre-1962 spent all their marketing/bribery money propping up their useless drugs (and none of it propping up effective ones?) at an ever-increasing rate such that the effect of the marketing/bribery perfectly counteracted the expected decline in sales due to discovery of inefficacy? Or are you just throwing spaghetti at the wall?

            Bottom line: there’s no evidence the FDA requirement to prove “efficacy” helped consumers. Peltzman was the first of many to notice this.

            Regardless, if you don’t like Peltzman as evidence, how about this:

            If the U.S. system resulted in appreciably safer drugs, we would expect to see far fewer postmarket safety withdrawals in the United States than in other countries. Bakke et al. (1995) compared safety withdrawals in the United States with those in Great Britain and Spain, each of which approved more drugs than the United States during the same time period. Yet, approximately 3 percent of all drug approvals were withdrawn for safety reasons in the United States, approximately 3 percent in Spain, and approximately 4 percent in Great Britain. There is no evidence that the U.S. drug lag brings greater safety. Wardell and Lasagna (1975) concluded their comparison of drug approvals in the United States and Great Britain by noting: “In view of the clear benefits demonstratable [sic] from some of the drugs introduced into Britain, it appears that the United States has lost more than it has gained from adopting a more conservative approach” (105).

          • Murphy says:

            Something seems up with that: the UK also requires that drugs have proven efficacy. I’ll take a look tomorrow when I can get through the paywall on Bakke et al

            A test that involves comparing one country which requires proving efficacy to another country which requires efficacy to “prove” that requiring testing for effiacy doesn’t work seems fishy.

            Re: curves, drugs don’t get withdrawn on a whim, typically it’s because some long term or rare but severe health problem caused by them is discovered.

            Look at the list of withdrawn drugs, how many are withdrawn for simple lack of efficacy?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_withdrawn_drugs

            Efficacy is one of the most difficult things assess in the field outside the setting of a controlled trial.

          • glenra says:

            @Murphy:

            Something seems up with that: the UK also requires that drugs have proven efficacy. I’ll take a look tomorrow when I can get through the paywall on Bakke et al

            Please first read the fdareview page I linked. I didn’t want to quote the entire thing, but it gives some context you need, it’s not paywalled and it’s MUCH shorter and easier to read than a journal article.

            The answer to the specific question you asked was in the paragraphs right before the section I quoted. To wit: What’s being investigated is the “drug lag”. Starting in the 1960s the new US testing took much longer to approve stuff than did the similar regimes of other countries. Given those facts, we can compare and see if all the extra time we had chosen to spend making extra sure the drugs work is buying us any extra safety.

          • “If we want to measure that hard physical reality a proxy of “what were the sales like” does not cut it”

            You still do not seem to understand what the argument actually was.

            Do you disagree with the claim that a drug known to be effective will sell better than one believed not to be effective, all else being equal? Effective drugs get advertised too.

            Do you disagree with the claim that, once a drug is released, information on its effectiveness will increase over time due to experience?

            Do you disagree with the claim that some parts of the market are more expert on efficacy than others, hence their purchases will be more affected by evidence of efficacy?

            Do you disagree with the conclusion that if a change in the law cut the rate of introduction of new drugs in half by eliminating the ineffective ones, over time one would observe new drugs performing better relative to old drugs over time than before the change, especially with more sophisticated parts of the market?

            Finally, I am still waiting for you to explain your out of context quote from the paper. You converted a statement of the form:

            “If A can do X better than B, then …”

            Into “A can do X”

            And then complained that your version was not true.

            Any explanation other than deliberate dishonesty or having skimmed the article for quotes without actually reading it?

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          This is silly, you can’t make “less addictive” heroin (or can you?), you can sell payday loans with a lower interest rate.

          • Jiro says:

            It may be that it is impossible to have loans at a rate that is low enough to be ethical and high enough to make a profit at the same time.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The various opioids differ in their addiction rate, though I’m not sure how much. Heroin is popular because of the combination of the strong high along with low cost and technology to produce; it’s produced from opium using 19th-century tech. (and probably could be produced with much earlier tech, actually).

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            This is “A livable wage” all over again, isn’t it?

          • lvlln says:

            Even assuming you can, is “not as addictive” the correct counterpart to “lower rates” in this analogy? The reason one would get in on the payday loan business with lower rates is that lower rates are more attractive to customers, thus allowing one to get more customers than the existing competition while still making profit. On the other hand, a less addictive heroin is much less attractive to customers – perhaps not in an abstract “this is good/bad for me” sense, but definitely in the concrete “I will buy more of this” sense.

        • IrishDude says:

          Is your complaint about payday loans the high interest rate? Or giving loans to poor people at all? If it’s the high interest rates then a competitor offering lower interest rates addresses that concern. If the concern is about giving the poor any loans, then I disagree that loans for poor people necessarily makes them worse off.

          I have a strong presumption that people engage in actions they think will make them better off. I assume people who take payday loans know more about their situation than do-gooder bureaucrats, and that they only take loans if they feel it improves their situation in some way. If you think they’re making systematic errors due to imperfect information, and this is an important issue to you, I would suggest starting an organization to help the poor become more informed and make better decisions. Help spread the word through poor communities about what you think their better options are.

          I’m pessimistic that top down regulation using the coercive power of the state will have net positive effects for the poor.

          • antimule says:

            > I’m pessimistic that top down regulation using the coercive power of the state will have net positive effects for the poor.

            Are you pessimistic on the basis of ideology or do you have something empirical?

            The problem I have with libertarianism (in its present form) is that it seems mostly to focus on cases where deregulation is highly dubious to really serve any freedom (except freedom of the rich to turn everyone into serfs more easily, I guess). They seem to miss all the cases where government really could use some shaving off. (Say by reducing copyright duration to 50 years)

            What I like about Scott is that he is precisely a kind of small “L” libertarian who isn’t too ideological on anything and genuinely wants to increase efficiency (such as his “tulip” article). We need more of that.

          • Murphy says:

            That sounds nice until you talk to some people who’ve ended up trapped by payday loans. A hell of a lot literally don’t understand the concept of compound interest.

            it’s like leaving a giant mousetrap filled with candy outside a care home for adults with learning disabilities and then when anyone objects declaring that they must hate the people in the care home.

            These aren’t companies with “slightly” high interest, we’re talking APR’s of 4000% or more.

            Their target market is literally people who are “insensitive” to interest rates, often because they simply don’t understand them. Theoretical models about how the market should work assuming sensible actors with perfect information break down under those conditions.

            but then libertarianism deals really really badly with people who aren’t good at caring for themselves. The philosophical position seems to be “sucks that they died, glad I’m not them”

            I find the starting principle of libertarianism: self ownership quite appealing but it somewhat dilutes it when people immediately embrace debt bondage.

            I oppose payday loans for the same reason I oppose allowing contracts which involve people selling themselves into slavery and I also oppose allowing contracts involving interest rates of 4000%(not even the highest, picking a few random payday loan sites I see 3451%, 2700% and 6000%) because they lead to pretty much the same thing.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The rates payday loans charge are driven by the market. If were possible to significantly undercut them, it would have already been done. They lose enough on the losers and make enough on the winners to get by.

            This is separate from the question of “should they exist?”. But some people think these lenders are making money hand over fist. If that were true, a non-profit community-friendly payday lender could show up and eat all their lunches. Surely there are enough good-hearted people saddened by the stories of payday loan victims that could have gotten together and put their money with their mouth is to stop this. But they don’t, because it’s a tough market to serve.

          • Randy M says:

            Are there some regulations preventing immediate loans that are still gated by things like credit score? It seems like there should naturally be some sort of gradation from “High interest and for anyone” through “low interest, but only for those certain to repay.”

            In any case, we know that simply preventing loans to those most likely to not repay will be cast as discriminatory if there is some hint of disparate outcomes.

          • qwints says:

            In support of Murphy’s claim that people don’t know what they’re signing up for, there’s good evidence that requiring companies to clearly disclose the full cost of a loan decreases usage.

            Here’s a working paper studying the effect of various disclosures at the point of receiving the proceeds of a loan – one particular type of disclosure decreased the likelihood of borrowing again by a statistically significant 10%. (page 23, table on page 47)
            “Information Disclosure, Cognitive Biases
            and Payday Borrowing and Payday Borrowing”

            Similarly, when the CFPB analyzed the effects of mandated disclosures being introduced in Texas, they found loan volume decreased by 13% compared to other states without such disclosures. (page 63-78)

            “Supplemental findings on payday, payday installment, and vehicle title loans, and deposit advance products”

          • John Schilling says:

            it’s like leaving a giant mousetrap filled with candy outside a care home for adults with learning disabilities and then when anyone objects declaring that they must hate the people in the care home

            Except that no great harm, really no harm at all, will come to the learning-disabled adult who doesn’t get any gratuitous free candy this week. The working poor who e.g. suddenly don’t have a working car, will get a paycheck next week that would cover the repairs except they won’t have a job next week unless they get to work on time every day this week, that’s not something I think is properly analogized with “candy”.

            If you tell that guy that you’re not going to let him borrow $200 today against $250 next week when that’s the best deal he can get, maybe you don’t hate him but I think you are holding him in a sort of arrogant contempt. Like, maybe you’re treating everyone with bad credit and a fiscal emergency as if they were an “adult with learning disabilities”.

          • Randy M says:

            Treating people as if they are all not capable of taking well reasoned actions to achieve their goals as efficiently as their means allow is condescending, but treating them as if they are so capable seems to be empirically wrong in some crucial fraction of cases.

            Is the paternalism necessary to differentiate the two and prevent latter from ruining themselves (or to determine the single policy with the most net positives) even possible, and is it justified if so?

            I don’t know. I don’t trust bureaucracies or the market to find an ideal. I think it falls into the category of “problem with no good solution.”

          • suntzuanime says:

            Maybe the government should nationalize the payday loan industry. They can subsidize it with tax dollars to get the interest rates down to whatever we consider “non-exploitative”.

          • keranih says:

            @ Murphy –

            That sounds nice until you talk to some people who’ve ended up trapped by payday loans. A hell of a lot literally don’t understand the concept of compound interest.

            This is true – but I’m not sure it’s relevant.

            I mean, it’s relevant – for at least some of them – as to why they needed loans from loansharks in the first place, and why they can’t turn to friends, or have an emergency fund set aside, or get a conventional loan.

            But I’m not sure if we need to limit “freedom to enter contracts” to those who pass certain adult competency tests.

          • Spookykou says:

            People are bad at taking care of themselves, and some top down regulations using the coercive power of the state are pretty obviously on net good for everyone.

            Seat Belts.

            The idea that the most financially desperate and uneducated populations might be easier to take advantage of than the general population, well I just don’t understand how that can even be a controversial idea.

          • suntzuanime says:

            “It is in theory possible for an intervention to do good, and an example has even been observed in the wild” is a far cry from “this specific intervention does more good than harm”.

          • Spookykou says:

            True, the separation of the last sentence,

            I’m pessimistic that top down regulation using the coercive power of the state will have net positive effects for the poor.

            made me think that they were making a general anti top down regulation statement. To which an example of a ‘good’ regulation seems appropriate. But they are probably just talking about the pay day loan regulations specifically.

          • Murphy says:

            @Edward Scizorhands

            Not all markets are efficient markets.
            Your beliefs about this particular market are fundamentally flawed.

            You could try undercutting their interest rate by 10% and then probably lose because they put flashing lights in their windows and you didn’t and they know that the interest rate is close to irrelevant because a large fraction of their target market isn’t making choices based on the interest rate because they literally don’t understand what it means.

            In theory paternalism yadda yadda but in reality a bunch of people are trying to build a collection of debt-bondage slaves by targeting the most desperate and those least capable of understanding the trap.

          • John Schilling says:

            …financially desperate and uneducated populations might be easier to take advantage of than the general population

            I’ve never had any difficulty taking advantage of the general population, and I usually do it by going through the government that in your model exists to protect people from being “taken advantage” of. And I have colleagues who make a good chunk of their living “taking advantage” of some of the richest and most financially sophisticated people on the planet, without much difficulty at all. Teach Elon Musk how to build less-explodey spaceships, collect six-figure paycheck. And a literal free lunch, which I am told is usually quite excellent. Advantage: my friends. Also advantage: Elon, in the short term, but in the long run he’s most likely going to wind up bankrupt and far from Mars(*).

            How is this fundamentally different than the payday-lender scheme? Two parties engage in a transaction, at the usual market rate in a free and competitive market, which leaves each of them better off in the short run. In the long run, one of them may be headed to bankruptcy, but if so they’ve likely been on that path from the start.

            TL,DR: Please unpack “take advantage of”, and explain why it is a bad thing. Usually, advantages are good things.

            *Whoever winds up buying his company at the bankruptcy auction, will I suspect come out very well and might even make it to Mars.

          • Spookykou says:

            @John Schilling

            ‘Taking advantage of’

            Synonym:exploit

            Exploitation: the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.

            I have a strong presumption that people engage in actions they think will make them better off.

            People are bad at taking care of themselves

            The idea that the most financially desperate and uneducated populations might be easier to take advantage of than the general population

            Two parties engage in a transaction, at the usual market rate in a free and competitive market, which leaves each of them better off in the short run. In the long run, one of them may be headed to bankruptcy, but if so they’ve likely been on that path from the start.

            easier

            So, you hold one of two position as far as I can tell.

            One, you think it is impossible for a loan agreement to be exploitative.

            Fine, I disagree.

            Two, you think Elon Musk and Frank the waiter are equally likely to agree to an exploitative loan.

            Fine, I disagree.

            Addendum, I don’t have a problem with paternalism in general.

            Buckle up.

            Edit: Reading your comment up thread, and trying harder to unpack what I mean.

            You think that poor people are rational fiscally responsible people doing the best they can, your car example is a perfect example of why a pay day loan is a good idea. I think chronic poverty is more of a ‘disease’ with symptoms like being consistently fiscally irresponsible, and their best chance for getting out of that situation is paternalistic top down regulation.

            Did you know that is is a common practice among poor people to take out pay day loans and loans in general to rent fancy prom dresses? Have you heard of Rent-a-Center or similar companies, their business model is, pay twice what this is worth in small payments over the next year so you can have it now instead of waiting a couple weeks. I think that the business model is ‘exploitative’ they are ‘bad’ deals compared to any reasonable leasing agreement, and they do almost all their business with a very particular band of the socioeconomic spectrum. Yes, these people are at high risk for defaulting on their loan, they have horrible credit, so you charge them huge interest, but when they are taking out loans that will result in them failing to pay their rent, so they can get a big screen TV and an X-box…

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Your beliefs about this particular market are fundamentally flawed.

            Payday loan companies go bankrupt all the time. It’s not a nice market to be in.

            If all it takes is having flashy lights to grab customers because they are dumber than dirt, than the failure of the Moral Preeners to go into business to deliver moral credit counseling is all the more egregious.

            This isn’t “more ethical heroin.” You can deliver a little bit of credit along with a lot of counseling. If it’s the magic money machine that you assert it is, the ethical provider can easily finance all the ethical parts of the business while making much less of it.

          • John Schilling says:

            Exploitation: the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.

            1. If you are trying to clarify some controversial point, saying “Oh, but I am only talking about the stuff that is unfair; that should make everything obvious”, cannot be taken seriously as an attempt at communication. “Fair” and its derivatives are among the fuzziest and most ill-defined words in the English language; without elaboration they serve only as banners to rally people who already agree with you.

            2. Your argument pattern-matches almost exactly as a “Reefer Madness” for payday lending. Look, here are some anecdotes about people doing Bad Things on drugs, er, loans. OK, sometimes the drug isn’t actually marijuana, but they’re all the same, and the anecdotes are cherrypicked but come on, it’s obvious that anyone who samples the Weed even once becomes an irredeemable Dope Fiend on the road to ruin, and there is no positive reason or outcome ever because look at all the anecdotes, all of them Extra Bad! So this is always a bad decision that foolish people must be protected from…

            I’m sympathetic to a bit of paternalism myself. This isn’t the right way to do it, and it’s not going to convince people that you know how to do it right.

          • Adam says:

            If you ever live in or visit a military town, I’m sure you’d be endlessly amused by just how far the credit culture goes. You can rent-to-own anything from rims for your car to a grill for your mouth. It’s particularly prevalent there because the youngest enlisted soldiers don’t have a credit history or savings and it’s a UCMJ violation not to repay a debt, giving the golden bifecta of justifying an extremely high interest rate even though you have reasonable assurance you’re going to be paid back.

          • Spookykou says:

            @John Schilling

            First, let me just say that I wish I could have deleted that previous comment. It was unfair to you and your position, unkind, and to top it all off, a very poor argument for my own position. My only excuse is that I was distracted while writing it, and embarrassed when coming back to it later, my apologies.

            I agree with your point about fairness. I was assuming that you understood my position and I understood your position (I could be wrong on both counts) and I could see no path forward so I was prepared to leave it at, we disagree. To clarify, in my opinion it is possible for a market interaction between some number of different parties in our nominally free market to be ‘exploitative’. Meaning that, one party is taking advantage of a difference in, information, legal understand of the terms, or bargaining power(the weakest point of the three I think) to construct a deal that exploits one of the parties. I assumed your position was that market interactions between some number of parties are intrinsically ‘fair’ because all parties are willing and it is done in a nominally free market. This does not preclude ‘one sided’ deals which heavily favor one party over the others, which occupies a similar space as my supposedly ‘exploitative’ deals. However, importantly, these ‘one sided’ deals are not immoral.

            Assuming these two position, I was not sure how to move forward productively with the conversation, as it seems to be the realm of opinion. I could be totally wrong about your position though, and there was no reason to be so dismissive.

            So my starting argument is, assuming these ‘exploitative’ market interactions are real, then the population of people who are financially desperate and uneducated would be more likely to fall into these traps than the general population.

            As for my Edit, honestly I know it is a pretty weak, and opinionated position, but to try and steel man myself a little bit.

            It seems to me that there must be some factor that causes chronic or generational poverty, seeing as how not everyone who falls into poverty ends up in generational or chronic poverty. I don’t care much if this factor is external, cultural, or genetic, except in as much as knowing that could help us solve it, because my ideal would be no poverty. Given this, it seems to me that some sort of top down regulation, which singles out the generational poor, or poor in general to avoid having to disentangle the two groups is probably needed. We currently have several welfare programs with this basic purpose in mind. However, if generational poverty is a thing, and if it does have a common factor cause, then it seems to me that this must manifest itself in some kind of behavior to explain its longevity and resistance to change.

            Assuming it is behavioral, then consistent fiscal irresponsibility is a possible match to the factor I am looking for. It also works in with my personal experience (anecdotes). Although obviously the behavioral cause could be different, and even the behavior of external people or systems on this population, fiscal irresponsibility is just one possibility of a possibility.

            Taking those ideas, how do we help this population? It seems to me that if the problem is fiscal irresponsibility that welfare and welfare adjacent programs will not see much change. Trying to limit or regulate the most fiscally irresponsible behavior they engage in, though, might have an impact.

            For added clarity, it was never my intention, although I may have implied it, that I think it should just be impossible for these people to get loans, obviously access to loans and leasing are a potentially very good method for raising oneself out of poverty. Rather I was just considering that some form of top down intervention in this particular area could be particularly helpful.

          • Adam says:

            Cooperatives, possibly. Something like the Army Emergency Relief fund, a nonprofit fund that soldiers voluntarily donate money to so it can lend at 0% to other soldiers in financial trouble. Of course, they won’t give you money to buy rims. And this works well because, again, soldiers have to pay it back.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            how do we help this population?

            First thing is to separate truth from fiction. What is actually happening, what makes people go to one business instead of another, what kind of profit margins do these vendors actually have? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you are pouring money in a bucket with no bottom.

            I wasn’t wholly kidding about setting up a competing business. It could even operate at a loss because the people running it treat it as a charity. What’s the minimum amount of underwriting that you need to do? (This is the real important part.) Can you dispense out much more credit counseling than actual credit? If someone tried this already, what were their experiences?

          • keranih says:

            Of course, they won’t give you money to buy rims.

            Nope. They give you money to pay rent, buy groceries, pay child support, and keep your heat on, so you can use your rent, grocery, utility and childsupport money to buy rims.

            And on edit: there are payday loan alternatives. In every case that I’ve looked into, the alternative was only available to employees of big companies who agree to deduct the regular payment from the employee’s paycheck and send it to the payday loan people. Otherwise, the loan companies can’t make it work, because they never get enough of their money back.
            I want kids to eat, too, and people to have a roof over their heads. But I can’t want those things for them more than they do.

          • Matt M says:

            I believe some studies have found that the “alternative” to payday loans, in many cases, is overdrafting ones checking account – which you will be shocked to find ALSO incurs very high costs to very vulnerable people and is ALSO soon to be banned by the usual suspects in Congress who care so much about the poor that they have to take more choices away from them.

          • Adam says:

            Nope. They give you money to pay rent, buy groceries, pay child support, and keep your heat on, so you can use your rent, grocery, utility and childsupport money to buy rims.

            Ha, good point. Money is fungible, after all.

        • Bugmaster says:

          I can sort of sympathize with the “unconventional morality” part. Sure, exploiting poor people just for being poor is highly immoral. On the other hand, if we make a habit of banning businesses just because someone thinks they’re immoral, we will end up in a very dark place with lots of morality and very few functioning businesses.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Was this link removed? I don’t see it.

    • Skeltering Lead says:

      I like the analysis here: https://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2013/201381/201381pap.pdf

      Basically, the sort of people who turn to payday loans are financially screwed regardless. They’ve exhausted all other forms of credit and are going to end up in trouble regardless of whether payday loans are available. The typical borrower is not someone with pristine credit who gets hoodwinked into this inescapable debt spiral.

      • Murphy says:

        Huh, according to that paper payday loans seem to either be more tightly regulated or simply more reasonable than their UK kin.

        The paper talks about APR’s of 360%-780%, in the UK when people talk about payday loan companies they’re typically talking about companies which charge 1200%-6000% APR.

        • Skeltering Lead says:

          One possibility – I think it’s typical to charge a flat fee to all customers, regardless of the amount borrowed in addition to an interest rate. If you borrow $100 to get you through the rest of the week and pay back $120 on Friday, that will get you an APR in the 1000%’s.

    • S_J says:

      But consider: The people who take these loans – who are disproportionately poor people of colour – also know about the horror stories. In fact, they probably know more about payday lending than you do.

      This is a worthy response.

      As this also applies to heroin addicts, it doesn’t really seem like a good argument; the complaint about payday loans in the first place is that they know how to take advantage of people like this, and this doesn’t address that.

      But I also ask myself…

      If regulations are put in place that essentially make it impossible for a payday-lender to offer his loans legally, does that mean that the market for such loans will disappear?

      What if people who are unable to get credit from any other source still have a need for credit?

      What if those people find themselves asking for a loan from an illegal operator, someone who looks like a real-world version of Tony Soprano or Michael Corleone? (Complete with a collections agency that will rough up late-payers, rather than simply rolling over the debt for the rest of the year…)

      Is it a net social good to give such illegal lenders a larger market, rather than let unsavory-but-legal operators like the typical payday lender take that market?

  6. geekethics says:

    Ye Olde England had special corpse roads to transport coffins to cemeteries.

    Then of course industrialisation and the growth of london happened. So we got a special corpse railway line.

    You’ll be very glad to know we have our priorities straight though:

    The station waiting rooms and the compartments of the train, both for living and for dead passengers, were partitioned by both religion and class to prevent both mourners and cadavers from different social backgrounds from mixing.

    • po8crg says:

      I first heard of it in the Fuller Memorandum (one of Charlie Stross’ wonderful Laundry Files series of novels).

  7. ameliaquining says:

    The shark attack thing sounded familiar, but “a few years ago” wouldn’t have been recent enough. Then I realized where I’d heard it: from Vox, reviewing Achen and Bartels’s Democracy for Realists.

  8. dsotm says:

    So, if people keep getting these loans despite knowing the circumstances, those loans must be doing something for them.

    So does crack.

    Now, think about that for a moment – how many businesses do you know about with 98% positive reviews? Even great businesses don’t get that! People are way more likely to review something if they hated it than if they loved it, because good service doesn’t stick in your mind as much as bad service does. This, of course, goes double for people you owe money to.

    Not many, which is a better reason to suspect organized astroturfing than believing it.

    There are 12,308 comments like this. 12,308 poor customers took time out of their busy day struggling to make ends meet to tell the government how much they love their creditors. Unbelievable.

    Indeed.

    • tmk says:

      Indeed, the “Community Financial Services Association of America” is encouraging people to to write in pro-payday loan comments: http://cfsaa.com/our-resources/communications/tell-your-story.aspx

      It seems quite believable to me that basically nobody else found this particular comment box, and they successfully stuffed it.

    • Deiseach says:

      I’m a poor person who’s borrowed money from one of these guys and am stuck on the treadmill of paying it back. Maybe I’ll need another loan from them soon, it’s likely enough.

      Am I:

      (1) going to burn my bridges by writing an honest review – ‘charges way too much, leans on you constantly to pay them back, one step above leg-breakers is the best I can say’

      (2) going to keep them sweet by writing – ‘yes, great service, couldn’t be more pleased!’

      • Reasoner says:

        Did you consider one of those newfangled alternatives like https://www.lendup.com/

      • Controls Freak says:

        I’m a poor person who’s borrowed money from one of these guys and am stuck on the treadmill of paying it back. Maybe I’ll need another loan from them soon, it’s likely enough.

        Given that you know this, I have a simple question. Why would you do it?!

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      The irony is that this culture of protection may ultimately harm those it purports to protect. The Yale imbroglio became a merciless punchline, leaving no one unscathed, because the lack of a candid internal reckoning emboldened partisan outsiders to hijack the story. In reality, these debates don’t fit neat ideological categories. I am a registered Democrat, and I applaud Yale’s mission to better support underrepresented students. But I also recognize the dizzying irrationality of some supposedly liberal discourse in academia these days.

      You don’t even know where the new lines lie!

    • shakeddown says:

      Part of the story that wasn’t here is the bit about the guy who was accused of saying he didn’t want black girls at a frat party (but was eventually exonerated). He was in our calculus course that semester, and he had to stop coming to class because he couldn’t safely go on campus anymore.

    • Deiseach says:

      My first reaction to that is “sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander”. People used her family as tinder in their fight? And what about all the families of the people she used as examples of the bad thing they must all fight against?

      This is the fruit of the seeds that the academic left planted, with constant invocation that authority was not to be trusted, that power was exploitative. It seems not to have dawned on them that now they are the authorities, they are the ones in power, and so by their own logic as taught to their students and the children of those students who are now students themselves, not to be trusted, to be presumed to be biased and acting for their own benefit, and to be engaged overtly or by association in discrimination and repression.

      If progress can only be achieved by constant revolution, then the old guard of liberalism gradually become the moderate and mainstream, then the conservative faction who must be purified by the new orthodoxy. If the programme for equality of race, sex and gender has been achieved in its early aims, now it must move on to ever more demanding strictness: not just tolerance but celebration is required.

      It’s bad that she and her husband were verbally assaulted. But how many times did she hold up examples of similar student protests as admirable, brave, necessary actions – when they were happening to people or causes she didn’t like?

  9. Douglas Knight says:

    And don’t tell me that the East/West split happened along existing ethnic lines; the boundaries are too perfect.

    It could be that there was an East-West cline and internal migration after partition homogenized one or both sides resulting in a sharp line. A quarter or so of the population of East Germany in 1950 were ethnic Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia — the largest ethnic cleansing in the history of the world. I imagine that they were settled uniformly. Also, the more enterprising escaped — that’s why the Berlin Wall was built. (But you might expect that these two effects canceled — the refugees were more likely to just keep moving than the natives to uproot and escape. Also, a lot of refugees wound up in West Germany.)

    • Creative Username 1138 says:

      In 1950 West Germany had a population of about 50.3 million people and East Germany had a population of about 18.4 million people (source.)

      Of that population in West Germany about 8 million people were refugees (16% of the population) and in East Germany 3.9 million people were refugees (about 21%) (source).

      These numbers don’t seem big enough to explain the differences between east and west.

    • Autolykos says:

      Migration might be involved in a different way. Millions did escape the GDR before it fell, and many more moved to the west afterwards. Neither group is likely to be a representative sample of the population. I expect the people who migrated to the west to be on average younger, better educated, more ambitious and more open to change. That alone could explain a lot of the economic disparity and differences in mindset.

      • brianmarick says:

        Judging from my family, the people who migrated westward were on average older and more female (as the young males were dead or in prisoner-of-war camps), not well-educated (I am the first person in my family to graduate from high school), and – most importantly – very open to the idea of not being killed or raped by Russians.

        Why did they end up near Stuttgart vs. somewhere in East Germany? Not sure, but I think it was mostly that they went where they had relatives. Very family-oriented culture.

        Generally, my impression was that the end of the war was extraordinarily chaotic, to the point where inherent differences (if any) would have been washed out by brute chance. Specifically: I do doubt whether people stopped running at Leipzig or Frankfurt had a huge amount to do with their evolutionary fitness.

        • Besserwisser says:

          That’s with the refugees again, Autolykos meant the people moving west after the wall fell. And I do remember the GDR running short on doctors in particular because the wanted to actually earn more after putting time and effort into a degree (radical concept, I know).

        • Autolykos says:

          I’m not talking about migration during of after the end of the war, I’m talking about the people who fled the GDR in the 50s to 80s, and those who moved to the west in the 90s.
          In the 40s, you’d probably be right. Pretty much anyone was motivated to get as far away from the Russians as possible, but the only people able to do so (without risking of being killed for desertion) were civilians.

  10. Spooky_Rationalist says:

    I actually saw some HBD people passing around that East/West Germany article around awhile ago, and I think they saw it as evidence in their favor. Something about population movement, I’ll see if I can find it.

  11. Soy Lecithin says:

    Re Mormon ethnicity:

    I don’t think it’s very useful to think of Mormons as Puritans in the Albion’s Seed sense. Most Mormons in America trace most their ancestry to later waves of immigration in the mid 1800s from Britain and Scandinavia.

    If you’re interested in how much of a “magic religion” Mormonism is you might want to look at Mormons in, say, Central and South America.

    • Brad says:

      In the overall Mormon population, what’s the percentage of descent from people that met Joseph Smith? Even with the early polygamy and the continuing large families I wouldn’t expect it to be *that* high given how aggressively they proselytize.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Quarterback Steve Young of BYU and the San Francisco 49ers is a direct descendant of Brigham Young.

        He must have been a Big Man on Campus at BYU.

        • herbert herberson says:

          I happened to just catch an interview with him; he said no one noticed or cared until the sports media picked it up.

        • Ed says:

          Not really. Being Mormon, and have grown up in the “Mormon West,” descent from Brigham Young is not a big deal–a high school classmate of mine was such, but he didn’t talk about it (unless when directly asked where his last name of “Young” came from) and no one cared. Simple reflection on the number of “direct descendants” of Brigham Young who must walk the earth today would show that making all of them “Big Men on Campus” at BYU would not be feasible.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Mitt Romney is some kind of relation of George Romney, the prominent 18th Century English portrait artist.

      http://www.abcgallery.com/R/romney/romney127.jpg

    • Deiseach says:

      Mormonism always struck me as being in the nature of British Israelites, not Puritans.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      The Scandinavians somehow made it all the way to Utah?

      • smocc says:

        Yes, absolutely, and any analysis of Mormondom that doesn’t know this is highly suspect.

        See, for example, this little blog post with attendant links and comments, that tries to identify uniquely Mormon names by finding names with unusually high concentrations in Utah. The best results are for Danish and other Scandinavian names. One of the newest top leaders of the church is a Rasmussen.

        Immigration is an unignorable factor in Mormon history. Even the vaunted Romney family became Mormons as Anglicans in Preston, England, not Vermont or New York. The Marriott family also comes directly from England.

        Any sensible analysis should also take into account that more than half of the world’s nominal Mormons now live outside the US, in large part in Central and South America. As Soy Lecithin points out, these populations offer a great test of the “it’s just Puritan genetics” hypothesis.

      • the anonymouse says:

        The folks on my grandmother’s side–Petersens, from Denmark–certainly did.

      • charrrules says:

        +1 for the the Scandi-Mormon link.

        Approximately 50,000 Latter-day Saints from the British Isles and 30,000 from Scandinavia immigrated to the Intermountain West by the beginning of the twentieth century.


        Even today, 5 of the 12 members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles have unmistakably-Scandinavian surnames.

        (long time listener, first time caller)

      • Alex Zavoluk says:

        Why is that surprising? The Mormons all fled New England for Illinois, and then from there to Utah, en masse.

    • Thursday says:

      Yes, we need controls to determine how much impact Mormonism as a religion has versus genetic or other factors.

      Comparing later converts and those descended from later converts with descendants of the original New England group would be a good idea.

      • smocc says:

        A good idea, but likely very difficult to do. I want to look up numbers later, but my guess is that the original New England group will be very small compared to the number of non-American converts, and that latter group mixed in very early (there was significant immigration even before Utah.) I also imagine that the mixing was pretty thorough, making it hard to draw any clear lines between the descendants of the two groups.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Post-1776 British immigrants are kind of an unknown group in the United States since they tended to assimilate so fast and thoroughly that they didn’t have their own neighborhoods (e.g., Bob Hope, who was seen as a highly representative urban American during his lifetime, was born in Britain).

          Hillary is mostly post-1776 British-American by ancestry.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          An important early 21st century genome study, the Hapmap project, used white people from Utah as representatives of northwestern Europeans.

  12. Tatu Ahponen says:

    I’m sorry, but that Nick Land article is hogwash. The entire attempt to treat fascism solely as a “sustained social mobilization under central direction” is confusing a method with an aim – the aim of fascism being its quasi-mystical, vigorous and overriding, generally expansionist nationalism (far above and beyond anything seen in the official level in the United States), and all of its decisions related to economics or the role of the state were subservient to the aim.

    Saying, for instance, that “Since the fascist state justifies itself through perpetual war, it naturally likes wars that cannot end. The Cold War looked like one, but wasn’t quite. The War on Terror is a better bet. In regards to their interminability, if not their moral intensity, ‘wars’ on poverty, drugs, and other resilient social conditions are more attractive still” is ridiculous confusion of a metaphor with actuality – almost like saying that Campus Crusade for Christ is going to colleges with literal swords and pikes to release them from the heathen. Saying “The victory was so complete that even policy objectives as blatantly fascistic as nationalization could be considered wholly innocent of fascist taint” is fairly interesting when both of the major fascist regimes in Europe engaged in vigorous privatization (http://www.ub.edu/graap/nazi.pdf and http://www.ub.edu/graap/bel_Italy_fascist.pdf)

    The whole article is a prime example of Fascism Is Things I Don’t Like, expect this time the extent of non-liked things is such that the whole word is rendered completely meaningless.

    • Continental thinker ignores literal/metaphorical distinction. Hold the front page!

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      Word^. However,

      >the aim of fascism being its quasi-mystical, vigorous and overriding, generally expansionist nationalism

      Nationalist fervor that work for the benefit of the authoritarian strongman leader who is installed as a dictator. Don’t forget that, I’d call that the single definitive trait of Mussolini’s regime. Then there’s also ideological elements such as glorification of violence and view of nation as a single organic-like structure and so on, but I’d say those are secondary.

      I think Umberto Eco wrote a nice article about how it was like to live in fascist Italy and what in his opinion actually counts as fascism.

      • hlynkacg says:

        I’m pretty sure I’ve read that article, but the impression that I got was that the “nation as a single organic-like structure” and “glorification/emphasis on existential struggles” were really the things that made a movement or nation explicitly fascist as opposed to simply authoritarian.

      • Tekhno says:

        @nimim.k.m

        Did Fascism really work to the benefit of Mussolini?

        @hlynkacg

        Certainly, that’s why it’s called Fascism, as in the Roman Fasces, but also the fasci; paramilitary combat groups that fought during Italy’s period of chaos in the time after WWI. They eventually merged together into Mussolini’s National Fascist Party.

        The idea behind Fascism is the bundle of many interests into a unified whole.

        Class collaboration in the general and corporatism in the specific are just economic reflections of this concept. The entire point of corporatism is to have a sort of industrial pseudo-democracy in which private industries and labor groups are appointed representatives based on their sectoral interests. The main argument against regular representative democracy was that it allowed minority interests to hold sway through money and influencing votes to give certain sectors more power, whereas corporatism would take these diverse interests and unify them in that they could argue centrally to solve things like wages, with the dictator being referee and setting the overall direction of nation. At least that was the idea, and we all know how that went…

        *This pretty much explains why Fascist states were light on nationalization, but opposed the free market. Instead preferring to privatize interests but then use government to cartelize these industries. It’s basically crony stuff.

        So in contrary to what Land is saying, Fascism was light on nationalization, but then the modern order is fairly light on nationalization too, or at least has been trending away from it worldwide since the late 70s, while also not exactly returning to the pre-WWI small government era either. The present order is not big government controlling everything but big government and her big business friends controlling everything.

        “Privatize the gains and socialize the losses” is a phrase used a lot since the 2007-8 crisis, but originated in the era of Fascism.

        • ChetC3 says:

          Did Fascism really work to the benefit of Mussolini?

          Yes? I mean, being on the the losing side of a world war was not really part of the plan, and before that he enjoyed a couple decades of immense power and fame.

          • hlynkacg says:

            The fact that Mussolini benefited from fascism seems tangential to discussion.

            Would you also say that democracy works for the benefit of Barrack Obama, Theresa May, or [insert name here]?

          • ChetC3 says:

            @hlynkacg: Yes.

        • hlynkacg says:

          Well yes, that’s kind of my point.

          Contrary to it’s modern usage. The core of fascism is not “authoritarian strongman leader” (though they do tend to produce them) it is the “nation as a single organic-like structure”.

    • herbert herberson says:

      Agreed. If you don’t position “reaction/opposition to liberalism”(in the broadly defined sense of property rights/civil rights/mass suffrage/individualism, not the narrow American use of the word) as a central component of your definition, IMO you’re doing it wrong… and American hegemony is undeniably liberal.

    • Mr Mind says:

      Nick Land’s article is mostly hogwash. It gets progressively weaker the further it goes, but I think that “war-like mobilitation of population to political ends” is an important aspect of fascism. This was also recognized as one of the facet in Eco’s article about Ur-Fascism that nimim.k.m alluded to.

      Eco wrote also that one of the quality of the original fascism was its inherent fuzziness, its impossibility to be described by one single trait, unlike Hitler’s unifying agenda, so it’s possible that it doesn’t even make sense to try to characterize fascism with just one attribute.

      It is important though to pinpoint which are fascist-like qualities of today’s movement, because the emergence of the next political meltdown won’t have the same stereotypical characteristics. On this, and this also, I think Land’s article hit the right spot.

  13. Steve Sailer says:

    “Another claim by the same site: even though the first group has normal IQ, the second group has IQ 128?!?!?! Suddenly all of this “how come there are so many transwomen in programming?” stuff starts to look incredibly interesting.”

    The smartest guy when I was at UCLA MBA school is now listed as the highest paid female CEO in America.

    • Murphy says:

      huh, TIL

    • haltingthoughts says:

      It is mostly suggested to be a selection effect later in that post. People who are higher status/intelligence are more likely to feel comfortable transitioning/coming out.

      • suntzuanime says:

        How is that even possible? 128 IQ is reasonably rare, something like 1 in 50 people. If that’s entirely selection effects, doesn’t that imply that the true number of transgenders is something like 50x what it appears to be? Which would be like a full quarter of the population? Which seems incredibly unlikely?

      • Tekhno says:

        @suntzuanime

        doesn’t that imply that the true number of transgenders is something like 50x what it appears to be?

        It’s not so shocking if you conclude that masculine MtF were socialized into it. There’s no problem with transgenderism being much higher than we think if much of it is actually growing in proportion to its placement as the next progressive civil rights frontier.

        It would be interesting if the pool of masculine late MtF starts to massively outnumber the pool of feminine early MtF. I expect from the start that the former are socialized, and the latter are “born that way”. Outside some weird chemical goings on, the highly feminized who are born that way are going to remain a relatively fixed number, while the population socialized transgenders can grow in proportion to the positivity surrounding transgenderism in the media and social environment in coastal cities.

      • dndnrsn says:

        That post’s explanation is kind of bogus though. It’s taking a Dutch study – from a country where the healthcare covers trans-specific medical treatment (the author is also incorrect in describing the Dutch healthcare system – it’s a mandatory-private-insurance system where insurers can’t refuse people or raise prices based on preexisting conditions and risk factors, I believe), the laws protect trans people against discrimination far better than American laws, and in general is a country far more left-wing socially than the US. Trans people face fewer hurdles (I am not saying they face none, of course) in the Netherlands vs the US. So, presumably, there would be less of that posited selection effect.

        Plus, it’s a single study, and one study + anecdotes + plausible-sounding theory that actually takes info from one country and explains it using the context of another country is … the sort of thing I thought was generally shat upon from a great height around here.

        The author seems to have an agenda – as far as I can tell, she defines herself as the first sort in Blanchard’s typology (I don’t want to use his words, because they needlessly hurt people’s feelings and I don’t agree with his theory anyway) and seems to be throwing under the bus those defined by others as Blanchard’s second sort in his typology.

        Blanchard’s theory is … well, if you define 2 groups, and then find ways to filter everybody into one of two groups, yes, you will be able to filter everybody into one of those two groups! That this theory really upsets people, including the fuzzy-social-sciences people (who are terrible champions for anyone to have, and their increasing prominence in left-wing thinking has been a disaster for the left), doesn’t make it correct – “this is true even if it upsets people” does not logically lead to “this is true because it upsets people”, but many act as though this is the case.

        I thought we were supposed to be the skeptical ones who poked holes in things, people.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        But the early transitioners tend to be low status and not very high intelligence.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Low status? I mean, based on one Dutch study that talks about intelligence, and as far as I can tell not social status…

          I would figure an early transitioner in a country where the relevant medical care was not publicly funded or part of mandatory private insurance would be more likely to be affluent, if we are considering medical transition rather than social transition.

          I also figure someone transitioning younger, either medically or socially, would be more likely to be in a situation where they would be supported by family, friends, etc (of course, it is not as though there aren’t lots of trans kids disowned and kicked out on the street and other such shittiness, but in a similar way to how gay people are more likely to be out in affluent families, in urban centres, in university, etc, a trans person is likewise probably more likely to come out in a more supportive social environment). Affluence and socially liberal opinions tend to coincide pretty closely.

          The archetypal “parents supportive of their trans kid” image is granola lefty upper-middle-class professionals.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            The man I knew at UCLA MBA school who is now listed as the highest paid female CEO in the country was a highly masculine guy with an extremely aggressive and hostile personality. He was certainly not a delicate flower being oppressed by society. He had, as far as I could tell, no interest in anything feminine. His obsession was spacecraft, out of which he eventually made a fortune.

            He had pretty unusual personality but it’s actually not all that dissimilar to McCloskey, Conway, the Wachowskis, etc.

          • dndnrsn says:

            But are there not cis women with aggressive and hostile personalities, little interest in stereotypically feminine things, stereotypically male interests? Conversely, are there not cis men with passive and placating personalities, little interest in stereotypically male things, stereotypically feminine interests?

            Anecdotes can prove anything. Blanchard and Bailey are psychologists, and psychology often has hilariously low standards of evidence. Hasn’t psychology been one of the fields hardest hit by the replication crisis?

        • lolno42 says:

          Meanwhile, over here in the wonderful world of reality, I transitioned in my early 20s, pass near-perfectly, have a >4 SD IQ, have no history of fetishistic cross-dressing or anything like it, and am exclusively lesbian. Funny how when one makes up a theory that everyone must fit in one of two categories, insists everyone who doesn’t fit in one of your boxes must be lying, and then uses these supposed ‘lies’ in conjunction with a health care monopoly as an excuse to deny one’s victims their morphological liberty, one ends up finding two categories.

          • Gundersanne says:

            yea, the IQ figures put me in the second group. But I started transition when I was 21, which isn’t early but not really late. And I’m hetero. Which should put me in the first?

            There’s a hell of a lot of gymnastics necessary to be able to simply split trans women into two distinct categories.

          • Trent A. says:

            Gundersanne, you sound pretty conclusively CSTS (my term for one of the two groups Blanchard labelled HSTS — there are so few HSTS MTFs that almost all with that label are CSTS). Having a high IQ is not an inherent sign of AGP in the trans population any more than it is in the cis, there are just more high-IQ AGP women than CSTS ones. (Also, 21 is early, and this is coming from someone who transitioned at 15.)

            lolno42, I agree that sexual orientation is one of the areas where Blanchard really fucked up. I don’t think it’s completely unrelated to type, but if you’re a strict Blanchardian you have to call Jazz Jennings AGP. I hope everyone here can see the issue there.

  14. Steve Sailer says:

    Of the Type IIs, I’d also add that they tend to have particularly masculine intelligences. The fellow I was on a team with in B-School, for example, was a obsessed with rocket ships and, indeed, later made a fortune out of outer space.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Another possibility is that Type IIs tend to be more right-of-center on average.

      • Thursday says:

        Only in a libertarian way. Not many tradcons among that set.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          The travel writer James/Jan Morris is in the Kiplingesque romantic tradition. (Morris might be more nostalgic than Kipling.)

          But, yeah, most seem to have future-oriented sci-fi mindsets.

  15. Sniffnoy says:

    That “case against democracy” article left out what I think is the strongest argument against what it calls “epistocracy”: That that’s a great way to have politics totally corrupt society’s idea of what’s true — something that’s already enough of a problem under democracy. Basically it’s supposing that you can hold constant the measure of who’s smart, and let government be determined by that. But the more likely outcome, I believe, is the reverse: That the measure of who’s smart, and what’s true, will be corrupted to serve political ends. Again, this is already enough of a problem right now; but by increasing the amount that politickers need to corrupt the process, you increase the amount that they will corrupt the process by finding ways to control what you mistakenly thought of as the independent variables.

    By contrast, futarchy seems like a decent attempt to actually reduce the influence of politics in government, because markets are actually harder for politickers to subvert than organizations and social structures.

    • Reasoner says:

      Another strong argument is the one Charles Murray presents in his book Coming Apart: American society is increasingly segregated based on intelligence, so the smartest people don’t understand the problems the average American faces very well.

      (I’m also a big futarchy fan)

  16. Elijah says:

    Since you brought up Placebos, I thought I’d post this: http://www.dcscience.net/2015/12/11/placebo-effects-are-weak-regression-to-the-mean-is-the-main-reason-ineffective-treatments-appear-to-work/

    Summarized: While there does seem to be some limited benefit from the comfort of a placebo, the greater share of improvement typically ascribed to the placebo effect is actually just regression to the mean. Because a) there is a significant degree of fluctuation in the amount of pain a person experiences on a daily/weekly/monthly basis , and b)people are more likely to seek treatment when their pain is at a high ebb then when it’s at a low ebb, and therefore liable to believe that the subsequent regression to the mean is a result of the treatment(whether placebo or not).

    Quoting:
    “If this finding is supported by future studies it might suggest that we can’t even claim victory through the non-specific effects of our interventions such as care, attention and placebo. People enrolled in trials for back pain may improve whatever you do. This is probably explained by the fact that patients enrol in a trial when their pain is at its worst which raises the murky spectre of regression to the mean and the beautiful phenomenon of natural recovery.”

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’ve blogged about this before and agree.

    • nancylebovitz says:

      Small nitpick: “Ebb” is low tide. The opposite of ebb is “flow”. There is no such thing as a high ebb.

    • shakeddown says:

      I thought medical trials had placebo control groups and nothing control groups. In particular (IIRC), SSRI studies had the placebo group closer to the real medicine group than the nothing group.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        No, three arm trials are only for trials specifically studying placebos, which are extremely rare.

  17. Elijah says:

    I read this quote by Peter Thiel recently:

    “Voters are tired of hearing conservative politicians say that government never works,” Thiel said on Monday. “They know the government wasn’t always this broken. The Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, the Apollo program. Whatever you think of these ventures, you cannot doubt the competence of the government that let them get done.”

    Which led me to wonder: Is there any actual reason to believe that the government is actually less technically/managerially competent then it was in the 1940s/50s, rather then simply being perceived as less competent due to changes in the media?

    Has there been a significant increase in cost/time overruns for construction projects, for example?

    Granted I can’t think of any recent projects by the American government comparable to the Manhattan project/Apollo, but that’s a choice made by congress. Take the defunding of the Superconducting Super Collider for example- this was a penny-pinching decision by congress, hardly ascribable to declining technical/managerial competence.

    Side note: Superconducting Super Collider= Slate Star Codex. 😉

    • Sandy says:

      Perhaps Thiel is referring to managerial abilities, not technical ones.

      • Elijah says:

        Well yeah. Technical competence, if you’re in a management position, is managerial competence.

        Nonetheless I’ve edited my post to avoid confusion.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      “Has there been a significant increase in cost/time overruns for construction projects, for example?”

      I’ve been tracking the construction of a second water main through the San Fernando Valley parallel to the century-old one that William “Chinatown” Mulholland built in about a year around 1915 with mules and pickaxes. The new one is pretty much a one-for-one replacement of the old one. Digging has been going on in my neighborhood for about 7 or 8 years now.

      Mostly, things are just a lot more complicated now than when The Valley was just dirt farmland. But it’s hard to say there has been much in the way of productivity boosts in infrastructure construction in California over my lifetime.

      • Nebfocus says:

        Isn’t it the case that there are now more state/federal regulations surrounding construction projects and more well organized special interest groups that know how to upend/delay projects they disagree with?

      • Brad says:

        Has there been a significant increase in cost/time overruns for construction projects, for example?

        I’ve been tracking the construction of a second water main through the San Fernando Valley …

        New York City and surrounding areas have several examples of older and newer projects with similar parameters.

        Whether the seven extension, east side access, Calatrava’s monstrosity, the new Tappen Zee Bridge, or continued work on the third water tunnel — it does very much seem like time and cost overruns have grown out of control. The new LGA terminal looks to be following the same pattern.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          The Tappan Zee Bridge for I-95 over the Hudson River about 25 miles north of Manhattan was built kind of quick and dirty during the Korean War era, which is why it’s needing to be replaced now. It would have been better if more money had been spent on it originally.

          But yeah, in general, everything costs more and, in particular, takes a remarkably long time to finish these days. (Or usually it takes a long time to get started: e.g., the Freedom Tower replacing the WTC got built pretty quick in the end after years of puttering around.)

          This is especially true in California. Jerry Brown has made much less progress on his high speed rail project in his latest two terms as governor than his father Pat Brown made on the immense California water project system in his two terms three score years ago.

          Similarly, Pat Brown was real good at getting U. of California campuses built. Since then they’ve only added one campus and that was in a bad location where nobody wants to go and it took 17 years to open.

    • a non mouse says:

      Granted I can’t think of any recent projects by the American government comparable to the Manhattan project/Apollo, but that’s a choice made by congress

      The space shuttle was less capable than the Apollo program, more expensive and had increasing risks of catastrophic failure as the program went on – the opposite of what a technically competent agency would produce (see, you’re supposed to learn things that make future launches safer faster than parts wear out – you’re also supposed to be competent and knowledgeable enough to know that parts need replacing and to be able to manufacture replacement parts).

      That wasn’t a choice made by anyone. That was a massive decline in competence.

      • bean says:

        The space shuttle was less capable than the Apollo program, more expensive and had increasing risks of catastrophic failure as the program went on – the opposite of what a technically competent agency would produce (see, you’re supposed to learn things that make future launches safer faster than parts wear out – you’re also supposed to be competent and knowledgeable enough to know that parts need replacing and to be able to manufacture replacement parts).

        I enjoy a good bit of shuttle-bashing as much as the next guy, but approximately none of this is true.
        What does ‘less capable’ even mean in this context? Yes, Shuttle could not go to the moon. On the other hand, Apollo flew 15 crews across an 8-year period, including Skylab and ASTP. The Shuttle flew 135 missions across 30 years, or twice the yearly flight rate, including the two stand-downs. There were quite a few years in the 90s where they managed 7 or 8 flights.
        As for expense, that’s not really true either. The shuttle’s cost per available pound was about 2/3rds that of Apollo, at least in 2000 (when the book I have [Jenkins] was written).
        Safety is actually an interesting case. Apollo killed one out of 16 crews, albeit on the ground instead of in flight. The shuttle killed 2/135. Sure, you say, but they learned from Apollo 1, and wouldn’t have killed more crews going forward. How do we know this? Apollo flew ~20 missions, depending on how you count. Challenger was shuttle flight 25, so unless you’re willing to go a lot deeper, safety claims are actually rather suspect. Your comments on increasing risk of catastrophic failure are even weirder. There were several lengthy standdowns for safety issues outside of the big accidents. I’m not sure exactly what prompted the Columbia disaster, but AFAIK, the risk there was the same as it was for STS-1.
        I’m not saying the shuttle was a huge success, or even a particularly good idea. But Apollo probably did more damage to our long-term future in space, by giving everyone the wrong impression of how space should be done, and slamming the shuttle makes it easy to compound the mistake by demanding we go back to that model.

        That wasn’t a choice made by anyone. That was a massive decline in competence.

        Or the fact that, unlike on Apollo, they couldn’t go back to Congress and ask for more money when they ran into trouble.

      • hlynkacg says:

        Agreed, and the SLS is looking even worse.

        In contrast we have ULA which is horrifically expensive as far as launch services goes but everyone pretty much agrees that you get what you pay for, and companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin who’s competence has to measured in light of the high-risk/high-reward strategy that they’ve chosen to pursue.

        I would say that the old standbys like Arianespace and the corporate contract side of Roscosmos represent the “mean” of competence in rocket science at this point, though Roscosmos may be at risk of sliding down that scale if they don’t address the QA issues they’ve been having with the Proton and Briz upper stages.

        NASA is a bit hard to qualify, on one hand you have JPL and the Discovery Program, kicking ass and generating genuinely exciting scientific research, and I would rank them highly on the “competence scale”. On the other hand, MSFC and administrative/management side of NASA is a hot mess, and I’d rank them pretty much at the bottom of the scale.

    • John Schilling says:

      The Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, the Apollo program…

      …are examples of the Federal government trying to do something it had not been in the business of doing before, or at least not within an order of magnitude of the same scale as before. When you start a new project or massively expand an old project, you necessarily have to hire mostly-new people and that process will tend to be biased in favor of people who are A: competent at doing what you are asking of them and B: enthusiastic about the success of the project.

      Once the phase of rapid expansion is replaced by one of stasis and attrition, or worse contraction, the enduring survivors will be the ones who are competent at office politics and enthusiastic about job security. Note that the greatest risk to job security is to actually finish a vital project, because that’s when you can be laid off at no political cost. So the clueful civil servant will ensure that it never comes to that.

      • Chalid says:

        I’m curious what you would say about in what ways the quality of the management of the military has changed over time?

        • John Schilling says:

          Most of my experience is with the USAF, and it follows the pattern I just described fairly well. It inherited from the Army Air Forces a supply of people very talented in the arts of building and flying aircraft and very enthusiastic about the mission of beating the Nazis, then fortunate enough to take on the lead role in the early Cold War and so avoid the worst of the post-WWII drawdown. But as the Cold War settled into a nice stalemate, Vietnam became an Army-dominated quagmire, and then both of those ended, USAF management turned into something very like any other civil-service bureaucracy except for the (increasingly optional) uniforms.

          Projects that can be completed turn into programs that will outlive the average career, and turf wars against rival bureaucrats start to take priority over actual wars with foreign enemies. The ratio of accomplishment to paperwork has declined enormously since 1947, and noticeably even in the twenty-plus years I have been involved. There are still plenty of good people drawn by the mission and the ethic of service, but they are constrained by the system and I see too many of the good ones leaving early.

    • youzicha says:

      I’d note that a similar space program was accomplished by Krushchev and Brezhnev’s USSR, and a similar nuclear weapons program was accomplished by Mao’s China. Lots of people manange to doubt the competence of the governments that got those done.

    • dragnubbit says:

      Technical/managerial competence is almost assuredly much higher now as the technical standards (for safety, performance, design standards, etc.) are higher and the managerial hurdles (regulations, public information, many masters) are also much greater. When you wanted to build a bridge in the 1950s, you did not need to do environmental reviews, getting eminent domain was much easier as there were far fewer parcels back then and fewer legal hurdles (massive subdivision of land over the last 50 years has been disastrous for public works), getting approval was basically just convincing a few political elites, and paying for it was also a lot easier as you did not have piles of acquisition rules nor have to meet nearly the same standards of construction. The quality of a bridge constructed today is undoubtedly FAR higher than the quality of a bridge constructed 50 years ago. Whether all that extra effort and extra accountability is directly proportional to improved quality, though, is highly debatable.

      The number of organizations and agencies that can say ‘no’ to a project (either directly or by starving a project in the cradle with expensive delays and reviews) is far higher, and it takes more evolved bureaucracies to navigate not only internal processes but the highly evolved bureaucracies of your partners/opponents (such as how highly ‘competent’ state bureaucracies can stymie federal pursuit of unpopular projects and vice versa).

      It is like an arms race in organizational complexity – there are evolutionary reasons why having complex departments for each different aspect of a project can best achieve the goals of the host organism, whether it is keeping up with very complicated regulations and design standards (often imposed from without), administering complex benefit programs, getting your fair share of federal or state funds, or keeping you out of court in a very litigious society.

      The net effect as a whole may be a lot of wasted effort (such as the efforts put forth by individuals in mate selection) but for the individual organizations it is rational.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Well said.

        I’d add that there tend to be diminishing marginal returns to getting giant projects built these days, so there’s less political pressure to push things to completion. Here in California we have a particularly good comparison case because the Brown family has occupied the governor’s mansion off and on since the 1950s.

        Pat Brown was a titanic builder, while his son Jerry got elected in the 1970s on an “Era of Limits” platform.

        In the 2010s, however, Jerry wants to build stuff, such as high-speed rail and completing his dad’s water project with a couple of tunnels under the Sacramento Delta. But now nothing happens very fast, in part because of the 1960s revolution empowering all sorts of groups with rights (to get paid off before anything gets built).

        And the other reason is because we already have a lot of stuff so we don’t need the new stuff quite as much as we did in the 1950s. For example, high speed rail would be nice, but we already have big superhighways to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco so it’s not all that crucial. Jerry’s water tunnels would no doubt be a nice addition, but his dad’s water project mostly works pretty well without them.

      • nancylebovitz says:

        Adding requirements adds a lot more difficulty than you might think. This is by Karl Gallegher, author of the Torchship novels.

    • Controls Freak says:

      I realized that I didn’t have good data to make educated comparisons, so I went to look up the successful projects. The first thing I found while looking for costs of the Interstate Highway System:

      The initial cost estimate for the system was $25 billion over 12 years; it ended up costing $114 billion (adjusted for inflation, $425 billion in 2006 dollars) and took 35 years.

      So, maybe cost/time overruns aren’t the best measure to capture what we view as a “success”. It seems more likely that we’re thinking of some broader idea of, “This turned out to be good in that it enabled a lot of other things that we think are good.”

      I had intended to try to scour some history after acquiring a good measure. My hypothesis was that once we go back far enough, unless there’s a current reason to bring up bad history, we just naturally gravitate to talking about success stories. One of my favorite examples of this is the War of 1812. Most people know next to nothing about the War of 1812, even though it was one of the worst failures in war the US has ever experienced (inflation-adjusted costs, population-adjusted deaths, massive domestic damage, failure to achieve any political goals). However, we’re currently plenty keen on the Canadians and Brits, so no one ever talks about it. Instead, we “used to be good at war, like we used to be good at big gov’t projects”. (Just don’t ever talk to a Canadian about the war if you’ve not learned anything on it since high school; they might get a little red.)

      I’d be willing to bet that there are all kinds of examples of extremely wasteful and failed projects going way back… and we don’t even have to invoke modern economists who argue that things like the New Deal actually extended the Great Depression.

      • dragnubbit says:

        Failure is usually not taught in the textbooks except as a prelude to a success. I also think sometimes failure is not recognized (in popular culture the Shuttle is still portrayed as a success story).

        Military procurement is notorious for burying lots of boondoggles and hangar queens. Some of it is necessary risk, but much of it is just fighting the last war and duplication of effort.

      • Matt M says:

        “So, maybe cost/time overruns aren’t the best measure to capture what we view as a “success”. It seems more likely that we’re thinking of some broader idea of, “This turned out to be good in that it enabled a lot of other things that we think are good.””

        Cost overrruns might not be the best measure, but surely some sort of cost/benefit comparison is absolutely vital to gauging the success of a project. I regularly hear about how amazing the Interstate Highway System is, but this is, I think, the first time in my life anyone has ever mentioned how much it cost.

        Do we have any valid metrics by which we can claim it was truly worth $425 billion? Has anyone even thought about this? Does anyone even care?

        • paulmbrinkley says:

          I regularly hear about how amazing the Interstate Highway System is, but this is, I think, the first time in my life anyone has ever mentioned how much it cost.

          Randall Munroe priced it at $465 billion in 2011. I haven’t dug through his sources, but I would guess he was reasonably thorough, given his reputation.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        But most of the over budget cost and time for building the Interstate Highway System came later, after the Environmental Revolution.

        Consider freeway building in Los Angeles. Building the early freeways in the 1950s like the 101 Hollywood Freeway went quite smoothly. But finishing the 105 Century Freeway to LAX in the late 1980s was a nightmare, requiring payoffs to an unbelievable number of “community” groups, including an AIDS group in West Hollywood ten miles north of the freeway.

      • Adam says:

        It’s not just environmental groups. Because parcels are subdivided over time, there are exponentially more landowners now than 60 years ago, so exponentially more people that need to agree to any project that involves building on private land. The land is also worth exponentially more, and granted, inflation is also an exponential growth process, but land value appreciation in cities has far outstripped it, so even if everyone does agree, the project is still going to cost more than it would have 60 years ago. This may not be the case with rural land, but comparing urban highway construction costs in 1956 to urban highway construction costs today is futile. Of course it’s going to be higher. I wish there was some easy-to-find study of this not obviously conducted by a partisan group trying to prove the success or failure of ARRA in general, but my subjective impression of the I-10 and I-40 across the entire state of New Mexico is it happened pretty quickly, well under half the time it took to expand the I-5 in Orange County. As far as I can tell, the Temple to Abbot through Waco expansion of the I-35 completed as expected. The Dallas/Denton expansion originally estimated completion in the middle of next year and is ongoing. We’ll see.

        There’s some other process at work, too. I don’t know if there’s a name for it, not quite diminishing marginal productivity of capital and labor, but just the basic observation that if you have the capacity and need for 100 of something, producing the first 10 seems to be a lot easier than producing the 99th and 100th. The Statler Hilton down the street from me shut down and has been under renovation for several years, and in the same time buildings the same size constructed from scratch have appeared within a ten-mile radius. Is Hilton worse at building shit now than it was in the 1960s, too? Maybe they just became a different kind of organization. They achieved most of the growth they wanted to and now they specialize in hotel administration, not building things.

    • Wrong Species says:

      I think perception of competence can also be important. Imagine you have two bosses, identical in every respect except one. One boss has employees that don’t respect him and the other one they do. Which one do you think is going to have more productive employees?

    • cassander says:

      >Which led me to wonder: Is there any actual reason to believe that the government is actually less technically/managerially competent then it was in the 1940s/50s, rather then simply being perceived as less competent due to changes in the media?

      It’s easy to exaggerate how competent things actually were in the 40s and 50s, but the biggest difference is that back then, if the government decided to do something, it could just do it. There were no community consultations, environmental impact reports, etc. Los Alamos was sited by Oppenheimer driving around the desert till he found a spot he liked, then getting one signature, Leslie Groves’. Once the legislature voted the money, the project was on. We’re wrapped ourselves in miles of red tape since then.

  18. szopeno says:

    Maybe the borders are too perfect, but on the other hand, East and West Germany really are different in genetic makeup:

    R1A in Germany:
    http://s13.postimg.org/7p2j8pnat/R1a_Germany_Austria.png

    Slavic toponyms in germany:
    http://i.imgur.com/7up7NCN.png

    Slavic tribes in Germany
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/63/Germanische_und_slavische_Volksstaemme_zwischen_Elbe_und_Weichsel.jpg

    Slavic settlements in Germany
    http://www.dhm.de/archiv/ausstellungen/burg-und-herrschaft/en/pics/2.7_700.jpg

    • Jugemu says:

      Wow, that’s really striking. Certainly seems to blow up any claims of Germany as an HBD counter-example. (Of course, North Korea still proves that a bad enough society can overcome any amount of good genes).

      (On an unrelated note, registering with WordPress was rather annoying/confusing).

    • Tibor says:

      That does not quite explain why Austria is better off than Germany (despite having a much more R1a population) and why Bohemia, with a population which is (currently, i.e. with most of the Sudeten Germans no longer in the country) genetically very similar to eastern Austria (not surprising, since my impression in Wien was that about every other doorbell had a Germanized Czech name on it) was the richest part of Austria-Hungary and afterwards Czechoslovakia was one of the richest countries in the world prior to WW2.

      I think the main reason behind the differences between the former DDR and West Germany is that a) 40 years of communism do have a lasting effect on many things, including mentality, b) few young people stay in Eastern Germany because there are not many jobs there and they are not paid as well as in the former west, so the population is on average older than that of the west. Since moving to a different part of Germany does not even require any language skills and there are no legal boundaries, this effect is even stronger. There are some exceptions of course, Dresden seems to be doing relatively well, but that is a large city (by European standards anyway).

      Also, I am not sure how relevant the Slavic tribes (I imagine that map is from the middle ages) are. The Lusatians have a population of about 60 thousand today and they are the only Slavic tribe that’s survived till today. The lands that are now Bohemia were inhabited by the Celts some 2000 years ago and while this has a tiny effect on the genetic make-up of the current population, it is not very significant.

      My main problem with the “genetics = history” theories is that they tend to take socioeconomic characteristics at present while ignoring history. Especially in Europe, if you roll back 100 years, you will obtain a bit different picture than today. Aside from Bohemia, Scandinavia would look very different then than now, Norway would be a poor country in particular. Ireland would still be the “poorhouse of Europe”. At the same time Argentina would be even richer than Bohemia (about as rich as Canada).

      What changed since then was mostly policies and governments (and also oil in the case of Norway). Argentina had a series of liberal (i.e. “libertarian”) governments in the late 19th century and early 20th, but then the political situation changed a lot, they had a couple of military dictatorships and governments spending their way to multiple bankruptcies. Bohemia first had a Nazi occupation government and then almost immediately after that a communist puppet government run de facto, if not de jure, by the Russians. Scandinavia actually became fairly liberal before turning the social democratic way in the latter half of the 20th century (by which time the countries there were already quite rich). Ireland became way more liberal. As far as I know, the only major change in the genetic make-up in these countries during this time was the extermination of Jews in Bohemia followed by the deportations of most ethnic Germans.

      • ChetC3 says:

        Also, I am not sure how relevant the Slavic tribes (I imagine that map is from the middle ages) are. The Lusatians have a population of about 60 thousand today and they are the only Slavic tribe that’s survived till today. The lands that are now Bohemia were inhabited by the Celts some 2000 years ago and while this has a tiny effect on the genetic make-up of the current population, it is not very significant.

        You seem to be taking for granted a very close correspondence between language/ethnicity and genetics.

        • hlynkacg says:

          Well yes, at it’s most basic level an “ethnicity” is basically a breeding population.

          As a general rule English speaking Catholics marry other English speaking Catholics and have English speaking Catholic kids. Likewise for pretty much every other language/cultural mix you might think of. The adventurous sort of person that mates across cultural lines is outlier rather than the norm.

          • ChetC3 says:

            So the vast majority of modern day English speakers are of predominantly Anglo-Saxon ancestry? And most speakers of Romance languages are mostly descended from the inhabitants of 5th century BC Italy?

          • hlynkacg says:

            No.
            The vast majority of modern day English Speakers have parents who were also English Speakers, just as the vast majority of 21st century Italians are descended from 20th century Italians, who where in turn descended from 19th century Italians and so on…

          • Winter Shaker says:

            I don’t think that really answers ChetC3’s (presumably rhetorical) question – assuming the current theory that the Germanic settlers of post-Roman Celtic Britain were relatively few in number, and mostly assimilated rather than replaced the native Celts, resulting in a people who were linguistically Germanic but predominantly Celtic genetically, and assuming comparable processes of large numbers of non-Romans switching over to speaking Latin after their lands were incorporated into the Roman Empire, how can we be confident that there is such a close mapping of language and genetics in cases of other peoples stretching back comparably far into the past?

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Winter Shaker
            I think it does,

            Lets say you have a guy who is 1/4 German and 3/4 Celt, he fancies a Girl from the village who is a similar mix of German and Celt. They get married and unless something really weird happens their kids are going to be 1/4 German, 3/4 Celt, and speak the same language that their parents do.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            unless something really weird happens their kids are going to be 1/4 German, 3/4 Celt, and speak the same language that their parents do.

            Sure. But the ‘something weird’ is the Germanics coming over there in the first place, becoming economically and militarily powerful enough to become the dominant culture, but not so far ahead of the Celts as to be able to be able to reduce their numerical dominance. That way if you get one Germanic marrying one Celt, their children will probably grow up bilingual but have a bit more of an economic incentive to get better at the proto-English language, their grandchildren will maybe speak a bit of Brythonic with their grandmother but otherwise speak proto-English most of the time, and their great-grandchildren may not learn any Brythonic at all if the only people it would be useful to speak it with are the relatively poor, technolically less-advanced Celts who don’t themselves speak enough proto-English to get by.

            And if there were enough small Celtic tribes with mutually unintelligible languages, but because the Germanic settlers were getting about and doing well for themselves everyone else had an incentive to learn a bit of proto-English as a lingua franca even when speaking with other Celts, that would hasten the process.

            I’m not sure if we have that clear a picture of how, and how rapidly, English came to be the majority language of what was to become England, but the point is, there’s no reason why having a dominant culture on top of a numerically larger group can’t change the language fairly quickly even without changing the underlying genetics of the population that much.

        • Tibor says:

          Language is correlated with ethnicity and ethnicity is correlated with genes (of course it’s a stretch to say that the ethnicity of someone from Schleswig-Holstein is the same as that of someone from southern Bavaria even though they are both considered German and speak the same language… At least as long as they don’t speak their respective dialects). Not perfectly of course. In any case, my biggest objection of these ideas is that it is quite easy to find examples of societies whose ethnic makeup hasn’t changed or not significantly but whose economic performance changed dramatically over the course of the last century. Sweden may be quite rich today but it was a poor country by European standards some 100-150 years ago. What changed was mostly policies and not the population (if anything, possibly many able people left Sweden for the New World).

  19. suntzuanime says:

    lol at the random attack on Trump by the pipeline protest filmmaker’s lawyer. Trump’s Rhetoric is the new evil eye.

    Charitably we can assume that he was asked a leading question by a reporter out to slam Trump in every piece he writes, and he just went along with it. Certainly the direct quote doesn’t make it sound like it’s an idea he originated.

    • Galle says:

      Eh, whatever. Trump delenda est anyway.

      • suntzuanime says:

        And we know this because every news article we read tells us so! Democracy, it’s a hell of a town.

        • beleester says:

          Yes, yes, you alone know the truth, all the rest of us are just sheep brainwashed by the media. *rolls eyes*

        • Spookykou says:

          I have only started listening recently, but my local NPR station tries to be pretty fair in it’s coverage, generally always pairing a negative story about Trump with a negative story about Hillary. That being said, their coverage almost seems to favor Trump some times. In particular their negative Trump stories seems like they would only resonate with dyed in the wool Dems, while being unimportant to undecideds, and encouraging to his base (Some Mexicans in a boarder town saying they don’t like trump/they are scared he will win). Versus a detailed break down of elements of the email scandal that paint a picture of corruption, something that I imagine at least bothers some Dems in her base, and I could see being way more influential on undecideds.

          Obviously you are correct in general about the media slant against Trump, which is why I was so surprised by those two stories being paired up in what seemed to me a poor semblance of balance.

  20. Steve Sailer says:

    East vs. West German: “This is maybe the strongest evidence against HBD I know, since it shows how purely political and historical differences created persistently different cultures.”

    My vague hunch is that a couple of generations of Communism tend to make people surly and uncooperative.

    Besides North and South Korea, an interesting topic to study would be Armenian immigrants in the United States divided into pre and post Soviet Communism. The ones who came to California before 1924, or who came from Lebanon after 1975, mostly have names ending in -ian, while the more recent arrivals from the ex-Soviet Union tend to have names ending in -yan. The -ians tend to be highly bourgeois while the -yans tend to be a handful.

    It would also be interesting to study recent Cubans arriving in the United States.

    In general, Communist governments tried to force feed people with the raw ingredients of a bourgeois culture, such as more years of schooling, while demonizing the bourgeois and their culture. My guess is that tends to produce a lot of what Marx would call lumpenproles.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m skeptical we can learn anything from studying immigrants that isn’t confounded by which type of people were incentivized to emigrate when.

      I used to think there was some deep difference between Cuban and Mexican culture since all the Cubans I knew were rich and all the Mexicans I knew were poor, then somebody pointed out that all the rich Cubans fled Cuba and all the poor Mexicans fled Mexico.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Cuba vs. Puerto Rico is an interesting comparison. Cuba attracted lots of bourgeois immigrants (e.g., the world chess champion in the 1920s, Capablanca, was Cuban) while Puerto Rico mostly attracted agricultural laborer immigrants.

        But, it’s not at all unlikely that a half century or more of Communism will have lasting effects on culture.

  21. Reasoner says:

    Adding seaweed to cattle feed could reduce methane production by 70%?

    I’m confused by how little attention livestock emissions get. (Well, vegans are certainly interested, but few others seem to be.)

    Greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector are estimated to account for 14.5 per cent of the global total, more than direct emissions from the transport sector.

    (source, though estimates seem to differ)

    And research shows that the antibiotics commonly given to cattle increase their emissions. Getting ranchers to feed their cattle probiotics along with the antibiotics (to prevent the opportunistic growth of archaea) seems like a much easier sell than getting everyone to drive electric cars. It would probably improve cattle health. You might even be able to start a profitable business doing this. If there was an effective environmentalism movement, this is something they would tackle.

    • keranih says:

      I’m confused by how little attention livestock emissions get.

      The charge that livestock account for more emissions than transport comes from an error prone UN study that has been pretty firmly challenged (the math was bad – they counted the livestock industry as including transport of feed & the fertilizers to grow the feed, but transport didn’t include mining the iron and processing the aluminum, etc.)

      the antibiotics commonly given to cattle increase their emissions

      No, not really. More emissions come from feeding cattle (and other ruminants) diets higher in grass/hay/fodder than in feeding them diets high in grains (concentrates). (See here.)

      The antibiotic listed in your original article is a relatively high powered, short use antibiotic mostly used for treating systemic illnesses, and it is not at all clear that the change in methane production continues past a handful of days.

      Getting ranchers to feed their cattle probiotics along with the antibiotics (to prevent the opportunistic growth of archaea) seems like a much easier sell than getting everyone to drive electric cars. It would probably improve cattle health. You might even be able to start a profitable business doing this.

      Well, it certainly wouldn’t be vegans trying to make money like this. If it did increase cattle health to the point of increasing gain and survival of the livestock, farmers would probably jump on this. As it is, it does not seem to help the cattle much, does certainly cost money, and it is not clear if the idea helps curb greenhouse emissions.

      (IMO, arguing about cow belches (*) is a fine hobby but as a tool to change global greenhouse emissions is a nothingburger compared to building nuclear power plants. That vegans are the ones who care should be an indicator of something.)

      If you’re actually interested in the on-going body of research in this area, here is a compilation page of some information on cattle diets and methane/GHG.

      (*) Quick tip for telling if someone actually has a clue about livestock-produced methane – if they are talking about cow farts, they don’t. Second tip – ask them which produces more methane in a year – a wetland left pristine, or a wetland drained and planted to be a pasture for cows. If you love the planet, and are truely against global warming, drain the swamp and run cows on the land.

      • Reasoner says:

        Thanks for the info! I’m glad people seem to be looking in to this. This is the other link I found that seems good:

        https://www.sciencenews.org/article/getting-creative-cut-methane-cows

        You’re right, I’m clueless and I was just signal boosting because it seemed like a neglected area. But it seems less neglected given the info you shared.

        • keranih says:

          It’s a sad and sorry state of the world, when quoting a major study sponsored by the United Nations betrays one as only having a superficial (and false) understanding of a major topic, but such is the intersection of anti-ag-tech feeling and climateology today.

          The idea of seaweed being a diet additive is intriguing, but it will *only* be acceptable if it keeps the cattle healthy and productive. The reported change in VFA (covered by sudonhim below) is…depressing, to say the least.

          I don’t know much about seaweed in cattle diets, but a short search of Pubmed shows some on-going research with various types of seaweed (which I suspect are as different from each other as, oh, peanuts and pigweed and pine trees), but not a lot of support for the idea that the commonly available types of seaweed are a superior substitute for anything else in a cow’s diet.)

          (As a side note, I was assuming the original one was a study out of India, because they were using zebu cows, and was surprised to see it was out of Australia. Dunno why, but I was.)

          (Briefly edited for alliteration.)

          • suntzuanime says:

            I think it’s more such is the state of the United Nations today. The UN connection should substantially raise, not lower, your probability that a report is unreliable politically-motivated bullshit.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            peanuts and pigweed and pine trees

            Off-topic, but I had never heard the middle one of those, and I’m delighted to learn that pigweed is a completely different thing from hogweed.

            Whoever would have guessed?

          • keranih says:

            There is also evidently a swineweed.

            Jimminne Christmas, I love this language.

      • US says:

        “Second tip – ask them which produces more methane in a year – a wetland left pristine, or a wetland drained and planted to be a pasture for cows.”

        For what it’s worth (I know next to nothing about this topic, but I just thought I’d add this for Reasoner’s sake), my father, an agronomist, made the same point in the past during a conversation with me on this topic.

    • sudonhim says:

      My dad is an environmentalist beef farmer, and he was super excited about that study. He sent me an article about it last week.

      The seaweed research has an important caveat though… (my reply to my parents):

      Note that that article is a bit misleading… here’s a version of the study that you can access for free:
      http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10811-015-0639-9

      The particular seaweed that had the very large effect on methane production also decreased the production of volatile fatty acids by about 12-25%, so it is not without cost. The article kind of mixes this in with the results of the other seaweeds, which yielded more modest methane reductions with lesser side effects.

      The takeaways as far as I can see:
      1) If we could use oedogonium as a feed supplement, we would be able to reduce methane by a modest amount (~8%) by using it as ~25% of the feed. The reduction peters out around 50%, and negative effects become significant – 25% is about the maximum practical dose.
      2) Asparagopsis taxiformis had a much stronger effect – a 2% dose reducing methane production by 99% at the expense of a 12-25% reduced production of volatile fatty acids (which apparently are the main energy source for ruminants – you guys probably knew this :P)

      There’s a hopeful note in there that they think it is likely that a modified supplement could provide the benefits of asparagopsis taxiformis without the cost.

      Hopefully something comes of this 🙂 particularly the idea of a 2% feed supplement being able to almost eliminate methane would be amazing!

  22. gathaung says:

    And don’t tell me that the East/West split happened along existing ethnic lines; the boundaries are too perfect.

    German here. Sorry to disappoint you. The split happened along existing ethnic lines. Take a look at the development of German borders 1815-now here (sorry, the page is in German, but only look at the pictures). Look at the borders in 1648, after the 30 year war here. The internal borders in Germany were mostly respected after 1945, both as internal “state borders” inside west and east Germany, and as a border between the east and west.

    Not claiming that many of the current differences are not due to socialism, but the example is not as clear as you made it out to be. The old ethnic differences in Germany are still alive, even if less pronounced today.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Could you elaborate? I don’t see that much continuity in the maps. The names are old, but not the borders, although maybe I’m misreading it.

      Anyhow, even if it is true that each State is its own ethnic group, you still have to explain why they neatly break into two group, the Eastern all the same and the Western all the same. And what’s up with all the Saxonies? Is this one ethnic group divided between the two Germanies?

      • ChetC3 says:

        ca. 1000 AD, all Germans lived west of the Elbe. The colonization of modern east Germany was mostly lead by the Saxons, who came from/ruled the region corresponding roughly to modern Lower Saxony.

    • nancylebovitz says:

      How similar were East and West Germany economically before the split?

  23. 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

    «Suddenly all of this “how come there are so many transwomen in programming?” stuff starts to look incredibly interesting.»

    I wonder what is the IQ distribution inside the late-transition group. Maybe even distribution of IQ-income-profession. I guess late-transition has more self-selection-like bias, as the person already has learned the gender-matching-birth-sex behaviour and could think that the cost of suppressing the gender dysphoria is less than the cost of admitting it for any reason.

    High IQ could be correlated with both valuing mental things more compared to physical ones, and with being able to afford the change (financially or socially).

    • Autolykos says:

      There may also be good reasons not to transition late that disproportionately affect different groups (like lining in an unsupportive environment, having a family, or being too poor to afford the medical procedures). And it’s probably easier for late transitioners to say “well, I’ve survived 40 years like that, I might as well go another 40.”, so they will be more swayed by those reasons than early transitioners.
      So the people who do actually transition are mostly single, somewhat well off, and live/work in an environment that doesn’t care much about how you present yourself. If that group is also more likely to have a “male” brain, well, is it that surprising to see many programmers among them?

      • Deiseach says:

        This is studying transwomen, right? Male-to-female? So what’s the IQ distribution for transmen (female-to-male)?

        Are we simply seeing the “greater variability in test scores for male brains so they cluster around the extremes of intelligence, both high and low, than female brains” effect of a bell curve? In other words, the biology does matter when it comes to sex (not gender, we’ve all been told sex and gender are not the same things). You’re more likely to get high IQ or low IQ male brains, so cis men and trans women will have a better chance of being high IQ than cis women and trans men?

        Though that would explain why the trans women who are rationalists are high IQ (or if you prefer, that high IQ trans women will tend to be rationalists as well), but does nothing really to address why are so many (sic) rationalists trans women (how many trans men rationalists are there out there, has anyone noticed?)

        • Urstoff says:

          What are the number breakdowns of FTM (early and late) vs. MtF (early and late)? My 100% subjective perception is that late MtF is more common than late FTM, but I’m guessing that’s just a product of my bubble (e.g., I can think of several MtF off the top of my head, but only one FTM).

          • Trent A. says:

            The FTM typology breakdown cannot be euphemistically called ‘early/late onset’ like the MTF one can. AAPs do not transition late — I’ve met AAPs as young as 14. Late FTM transition isn’t common, but it’s overwhelmingly HSTS (as in ‘was a lesbian for decades’, not Blanchardian HSTS that lumps ‘was a lesbian for decades’ in with ‘couldn’t pull off being a lesbian because is clearly a straight guy’).

        • Ozy Frantz says:

          The ratio of trans men to cis women in the rationalist community is fairly close to the ratio of trans women to cis men. Of course, since the rationalist community is mostly cis men, trans women are vastly overrepresented. But I think the correct model is that both trans people and AMAB people are overrepresented.

        • Trent A. says:

          “You’re more likely to get high IQ or low IQ male brains, so cis men and trans women will have a better chance of being high IQ than cis women and trans men?”

          The glaring problem with this statement is that non-AAP trans men have maleish brains, and non-AGP trans women have femaleish brains.

    • dndnrsn says:

      The IQ score in the 120s for late-transitioning trans women is based on a single study from the Netherlands, as far as I can tell – I cannot find a free copy of the study. I thought the general mood around here was “replication crisis! Replication crisis! Beware the one study! Beware!

      The explanation of “people who are smarter are more likely to have the resources to transition and to be in a social context where transition is less hard” makes sense. But “this makes sense, here’s some anecdata, and we have one study too” is not really enough, especially to explain a 1.5-2SD difference.

      • hipmanbro says:

        I wasn’t able to find a source for the 127.9 vs 100 IQ, so I’m not sure where the site got that figure from. The site cites that Netherlands study (‘Transsexual subtypes: Clinical and theoretical significance’) which actually claims a 121.7 (non-homosexual) vs 107.3 (homosexual) difference.

        I was able to access it and it seems to check out, but again, it’s just one study. A 1 SD difference is still a huge deal though, and I completely agree that there has to be other reasons. (The Netherlands study didn’t keep track of early vs late transitioning dates, only sexual preferences.)

        I noticed the claim “In natal females, the most common course is early-onset GD; they are almost always gynephilic, while the few with late-onset GD are usually androphilic” in the brain structure study. I tried digging to try to find out the statistics behind this, but I only found repeated claims without studies backing it. Can any psychiatrist familiar with the literature tell me where this comes from?

        • dndnrsn says:

          Yeah. The article on the same site that the linked article links to says, as far as I can tell, 121.7 vs 98.6 after some adjustments.

          Additionally, the author states:

          The Smith paper, studying a group of TS folk from their Netherlands clinic, included IQ scores. Given that in the Netherlands, transfolk are fully covered by their national medical plan, this clinic is the most likely source of an unbiased sample to determine if there is any IQ effect:

          That it’s covered by what is in fact not a national medical plan so much as mandatory private insurance (but insurers can’t deny for preexisting conditions, charge higher premiums based on the individual, etc) kind of kiboshes the example given later on of a janitor who can’t afford the medical costs on their salary. Likewise, it looks like Dutch law protects trans people from discrimination better than American law does. There would still be social costs, but “lose job and not be even to pay even with job” would not appear to be the case in the Netherlands. As for social costs, the Netherlands generally has a reputation for being socially much more left-wing than most places, so presumably someone would be less likely to lose their friends and spouse than in the US. Not saying the Netherlands are perfect, but to take Dutch statistics and explain them in a non-Dutch context seems quite bizarre.

          So, the Netherlands is not the United States (citation needed). This is anecdata backed up by a plausible-sounding explanation and a single study from another country. The author even asks:

          How many top musicians, scientists, engineers, physicians, businesswomen, lawyers, and even politicians, have transitioned in mid-career?

          I dunno, how many? A rhetorical question where the answer isn’t immediately obvious isn’t even really a rhetorical question.

      • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

        My point is that even if the study checks out, we still need to look carefully how much of the effect is about self-selection, and I then missed that they base this on a single study, my bad.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      The late transition Type IIs are a very unusual group. I could probably name a dozen who were at least moderately famous before hand, and just about each one seems like a character out of a Heinlein novel.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Availability heuristic bias. Ask someone to name a dozen people from a given group and they will likely name people they know, famous people, or some combination (or maybe they know famous people). People they know will be presented as more interesting because they know more details. Famous people are generally considered more interesting.

        I honestly don’t think much of the Blanchard typology – if you say “there are two groups” it’s usually pretty easy to find a way to sort people into one group or other. It’s recursive, in the same way that the fuzzy-social-science people’s theories are usually recursive, and honestly not much more rigorous.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Nah.

          I’ve been vaguely following the subject of late transition transgender individuals since being assigned one of Morris’s books in a history class in college in the late 1970s. I read Morris’s memoir “Conundrum” in the mid-1990s.

          There’s a very distinct flavor to this second type that doesn’t fit into usual categories so it’s hard to describe. It’s a fuzzy set with common membership qualities of:

          – High IQ, especially in logic
          – Science fiction orientation
          – Future orientation (Morris an outlier here)
          – Masculine interests and tastes (e.g., the military and sci-fi)
          – Not people persons
          – Not conventionally liberal/progressive/leftist
          – Libertarian / Randian
          – Not at all feminine or effeminate
          – Competitive

          The whole package reminds me of sci-fi novelist Robert Heinlein, who indeed wrote a couple of transgender stories.

          Find any list of the dozen late onset transitions who were already most prominent (e.g., the Wachowskis, McCloskey, Jenner, Conway, Morris, Rothblatt, etc.) and you’ll see that most have several of these traits.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            As Scott says, this topic is very interesting. We might learn a lot from it.

            In particular, it was so unexpected.

            As far as I can tell, Heinlein about 60 years ago might have been the first to sense that there was something going on among a small percentage of sci-fi fans. (Heinlein was a sympathetic and studious observer of his readers and was not averse to providing some high end fan service.)

          • dndnrsn says:

            Are many of these things surprising, though, in someone who spent longer being raised and treated as male, and whose brain has absorbed more (or, any) testosterone? I’m not one of those left-wingers who thinks that hormones don’t do anything, and socialization clearly is relevant.

            Additionally, trans people being more likely to serve in the military is often explained as either a way to get access to medical care, trans men (generally before coming out or figuring out their gender identity )seeking to do something stereotypically masculine, or trans women pre-coming out or figuring out their gender identity seeking to do something stereotypically masculine.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            If you make up a list of men who had already earned prominence before they announced they were women, they are highly skewed on average in unusual directions: toward individualism, logic, and masculine interests. They’re not good at even pretending to be victims of society.

            As Scott says, this is very interesting.

          • dndnrsn says:

            But if you made up a list of prominent men/people assigned male, in general they would probably skew towards individualism, logic, and masculine interests overall. And, by definition, masculine interests are not unusual for men or people assigned male.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Nah, late-transition M to Fs tend to be more masculine than the average man, although in a distinctive, Heinleinian way.

            Like Scott says, this is interesting.

            I realize some people take outside interest in this phenomenon very personally and wish to discourage objective research. I’ve been subjected to Conway’s and McCloskey’s combination of intense aggressiveness and intense intelligence, and if I were smart, I’d get the message and back off from asking uncomfortable questions. But I’m not as smart as they are, and so I’m interested in a phenomenon that manifests itself more among the highly intelligent (such as commenters on this blog).

            Intelligence is interesting.

          • Trent A. says:

            “And, by definition, masculine interests are not unusual for men or people assigned male.”

            You’re assuming this is socialization, and that’s ignoring the sheer number of trans women who do not act particularly like they were socialized male or trans men who don’t act particularly like they were socialized female. (Before I was even able to consistently pass, I could go to youth-orientated trans communities — all majority AAP — and be asked if I was FTM or MTF.)

            Masculine interests are uncommon for women, and the natal-male women who immigrate most easily into their new lives do not have masculine interests at a higher rate than the general female population. And the ones who don’t — and often have some kind of fetishistic background — have different masculine interests to the general male population. The distribution is similar amongst trans men, but to my great sorrow nobody gives a shit about trans men.

  24. Scott McGreal says:

    The Mormon thing reminded me of the results of a Pew survey on American’s religious knowledge from a few years ago (which I wrote about here). (You can take the quiz yourself here.) Survey respondents also answered general knowledge questions, and there was a positive correlations between the latter results and religious knowledge, suggesting that people who know more about religion are probably more knowledgeable in general. As you might guess, most people’s religion results were pretty lame: people identifying as Christians scored an average of 15.7 correct out of 32 questions. The three highest scoring groups were atheists/agnostics, Jews, and Mormons. The first two I could understand, as both these groups are known to be above average in intelligence, but I had no idea what made Mormons more knowledgeable than other Christian denominations. Being more devout than other denominations was unlikely to be the explanation, as the Pew study actually found that being more devout did not generally translate into knowing more about religion. As I recall from Scott’s review of Albion’s seed, the Puritans selectively invited people into their community based at least partly on them being well-educated, so they tended to be highly intelligent. If what Razib Khan says is true, it may be that Mormons are descended from highly intelligent stock. Perhaps this could help explains why they are more knowledgeable than most other religious denominations.

    • herbert herberson says:

      Too bad it doesn’t break out the statistics for Jehova’s Witnesses–it would be a good way to check to see how much of that effect was just a result of being prepared for the aggressive proselytizing (you know, kind of a know your enemy thing)

    • qwints says:

      Other possibilities include a greater focus on religious instruction at the place of worship, likelihood of attending a private school with a dedicated religious education program, or the effect of the focus on missionaries.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Three of the questions on the quiz were specifically about Mormonism. I think that accounts for the bulk of the Mormons’ overall score.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        The link gives precise details. Mormons get 2.7 of those 3 questions, but the population gets 1.4. So this explains 1.3 points of Mormon advantage, leaving 3.0 points on non-Mormon questions. Mormons do well on every single question, from what is the first book of the Bible to what is Ramadan.

    • Skotos Holt says:

      results of a Pew survey on American’s religious knowledge from a few years ago

      I got a perfect score. 15/15

      I didn’t get to go to college, but I got a high school diploma back when they meant something, and then then went directly into trade school while also working heavy labor.

      What do you kids learn in school now, anyway?

      • andrewflicker says:

        I managed a 15/15 as well, though the last question gave me a pause. That being said, I learned approximately… 1 of the answers through K-12 schooling, another 2-3 from college I believe, and the rest from private reading.

        I think I can safely say that most public schools in the US make a deliberate effort not to teach potentially thorny comparative religion or religious histories. Can’t really blame them- between the atheist parents, the Mormon parents, and the Catholic parents in my high school community, nearly any religion-oriented lesson was likely to get complaints of some sort from some quarter.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I got 14/15, which is a bit embarrassing, because I studied religion in school, but honestly never really studied much American Protestantism so missed the last question.

      I’m going to object to 8 (the Book of Job is 2 books – in one of them Job is obedient to God, and in the other he protests to God – and they got mixed together) and 2 of the questions are about American court decisions, not about religion.

      • Spookykou says:

        Job question is a classic literature ‘what is the best answer’ standardized test question, which is best contested by a better example of a figure that meets the requirements, not flaws in the ‘correct’ answer.

        The legal questions surprised me and did not seem totally appropriate.

        I got 14/15 and I had never even heard of the First Great Awakening, it seems to be, based on the survey results, dramatically more obscure than everything else they ask about.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Well, fits the best, yeah, but given that the one book of Job has him arguing with God until God says “fine I’ll give you a new family” and the other has God showing up and saying “who are you? Did you create the world? No, that was me, fuck you buddy”… I spent too long in university is what I’m sayin’.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      They should have a category for SSC. I got 14/15, although I guessed on the last one and got it right.

      Oh, the one I got wrong was communion – I knew some religions considered bread and wine to be actual transformations, but I thought Catholics had gotten beyond that. It’s really kind of gross to literally believe you are eating Christ.

  25. Adrià says:

    About “Major Airline Launches Child-Free Zones on Flights”. An angry parent in the article states: “What’s next? Child-free restaurants, malls, libraries, parks?”

    AFAIK child-free restaurants are already quite popular in Germany.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      Child-free libraries also exist, obviously- major research libraries.

      For instance the British Library will not admit anyone 11 or under to the Reading Room, and under-18s in general require a special application which must be supported by a parent or teacher.

      • bean says:

        I was very unhappy with that rule the first time I visited the Library of Congress. My behavior would have been perfect, except possibly for trying to stay past closing time.

    • Randy M says:

      As a parent of three usually well behaved children, I have no problem with any of those things.

    • Error says:

      I would certainly be willing to pay extra to not have my auditory space invaded by other people’s screaming babies. How much is debatable — probably less for an airline flight where I can put earbuds in, more for a restaurant where part of the pleasure comes from conversing with others at the table. Definitely more for, say, a theater.

      On the other hand, I’m not sure how useful the seating zones described would even be. A few rows? WTF? It’s not like vibrations in air stop at row boundaries.

      • Brad says:

        They used to have smoking sections on airplanes. I don’t believe I ever took one of those flights, though I may have as a young child. I can’t imagine that being in the non-smoking section was much different from being in the smoking section though.

      • dndnrsn says:

        At least they wouldn’t be kicking the back of your seat. I remember a (mercifully brief) flight with two or three badly-behaved children in the row behind, their father impotently threatening them, and their responses making it clear they knew his threats were absolutely toothless.

      • smocc says:

        I don’t know, ambient noise on airplanes is intense. In my experience, two rows is enough to silence all but the most piercing infant crying.

  26. werttrewblog says:

    I see my alma mater the University of Missouri comes in dead last on the Heterodox Academy’s list…

  27. AlphaGamma says:

    Ye Olde England had special corpse roads to transport coffins to cemeteries. Needless to say there are all sorts of associated weird superstitions.

    More recently, there was a corpse railway built in London.

  28. The Nybbler says:

    The German experience may be an argument against HBD, but it’s not a very strong one. First of all, because the split was indeed along existing ethnic lines; the idea of a single German people (Ein Volk! Sorry, couldn’t help myself) is relatively new. Second, because demonstrating that political and historical differences have an effect doesn’t mean biology doesn’t. And thirdly, because according to the article, migration is causing some of the differences (in particular young people moving to the West, which an HBDer might argue has had something more similar to their “natural” culture), so some of this is demonstrating that political and historical differences make a lasting difference to the area, but not necessarily to the people.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Second, because demonstrating that political and historical differences have an effect doesn’t mean biology doesn’t

      I have to agree here. This study shows you can make two different culture by splitting one (supposedly) unique gene pool and then having them subject to very different circumstances? I’m not an NBD expert but I didn’t know it had anything to say that would challenge that.

    • Leonard says:

      Fourth, finding a bunch of differences between two things is not really very helpful until you contextualize them with other similar things. I.e.: is the “Disposable Income” difference substantial? Well, graphed with two colors, it looks like it. But the figure does not indicate what “more” or “less” is.

      The slightest Googling reveals this: “The former East German states have a per capita income that is 84% of the West German states, according to KfW, the German development bank.” And Germany of course is wealthy. If the scale were extended to include, say, Mexico — much less Zimbabwe — the graph would appear to tell a different story.

  29. youzicha says:

    When you posted the defoo site on tumblr, psybersecurity suggested that it’s a smear site created by some opponent of Molyneux, which would explain the writing style.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Yeah, that’s clear from just about any other page on the site than the one Scott linked to, which is just barely in the realm of plausible self-promotion.

    • Reasoner says:

      Yeah, I think reading this to understand Molyneux is similar to reading RationalWiki to understand Eliezer Yudkowsky. Except RationalWiki is way more fair and has good points buried in the snark.

  30. chaosmage says:

    Of the differences between East and West Germany named in that Washington Post article, all but two are predicted by large differences in wealth. This includes even the child care thing: In Germany, you need to be “available to the labor market” (i.e. need to be able to be away from your child) in order to receive unemployment benefits.

    Germany has focused on making incomes in East and West comparable, but the accumulated effects of 40 years of very different incomes are persistent. The dynamic in East Germany is similar to that of South Italy: talented/non-xenophobic people leave for the prosperous part of the country when they reach working age, while dropouts and retirees like to move there for the cheap cost of living. Working age people with marketable skills are missing, and that explains almost all those differences.

    The two exceptions (flu vaccinations and farm sizes) are not explainable by HBD either, but I’m not sure HBD makes any claims about them that this data disproves. Korea seems like the much better case against HBD.

  31. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    I could swear you put the idea for reciprocity.io on your LiveJournal years ago.

  32. Throwaway3279432 says:

    Can someone please explain what “HDB” means?

    • Brad says:

      Human biodiversity. I’ll bite my tongue and just say that it’s a mostly online take on race rooted in (often armchair) evolutionary theory.

    • Murphy says:

      Human biodiversity

      Version1: Dry academic version: the idea that human traits like height, strength, intelligence, tendency towards aggression, etc are often significantly heritable and aren’t purely down to nurture. The mutations/variants strongly associated with differences, positive and negative in these traits are not evenly distributed across all populations.

      Version2: Horrible version: “[insert racial slur here] are intrinsically genetically inferior to [insert description of speakers population/group/race and list of groups they like]”.

      people supporting version 1 will often be accused of supporting version 2.

      • hlynkacg says:

        That is an excellent summary, I might just have to save it for future use.

      • ChetC3 says:

        People supporting version 2 will often present themselves as supporting version 1, for reasons that should be obvious.

        • Error says:

          This is relevant if you’re trying to judge the moral character of the presenter, but not if you’re trying to judge the likely distribution of human traits.

          • ChetC3 says:

            Pretty hard to avoid when the presenter is demanding sympathy as a victim of baseless accusations of racism.

          • Error says:

            Does demanding sympathy from anyone ever work? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it work. If anything it usually has the opposite effect.

          • ChetC3 says:

            Doesn’t seem to stop anyone from trying.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Demanding sympathy is a tactic which works if you’re in a position to make such demands. So at present it works for people from “marginalized groups”, but not for people who are baselessly accused of being prejudiced against same. Culture war again.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Does demanding sympathy from anyone ever work? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it work. If anything it usually has the opposite effect.

            It does if you hit the right note, for some people this is “I’m a poor valiant woman being harrassed in a straight white shitlord environment”, for others it’s “I’m a poor honest scientist being shouted down in an environment that values dogma over truth”.

            People are pretty bad at calling good sounding bullshit out, people involved in this type of discussions are particularly bad at it.

      • JulieK says:

        How can we tell which version is correct? I’ve seen some interesting articles by HBD bloggers, but if they’re type 2’s I wouldn’t trust them to be presenting the facts in an unbiased manner.

        • keranih says:

          Doesn’t matter which version is correct – it matters if the data supports the theory.

          For example, my mother is a lovely person but it doesn’t make her grasp of disease transmission as it relates to the two second rule any more valid. On the other hand, I had several rude and unpleasant professors who were none the less exceptional at working out the kinks in data categories for statistical analysis.

          If the theory is sound, it will stand up under repeated investigation. If it is not, it will be shown to be false, and will be discarded and we go on to the next.

          The problem with addressing HBD is that we don’t have a good concensus on what to do if it turns out that the theory is a good predictor of reality. IMO, this is a good thing, because an easy answer would be “lets all become 1700’s racist bastards” and there really aren’t many people on board with that.

          What to do about finding out that “discrimination against more violent/less bright people using skin color as a good proxy for more expensive & lengthy tests is a valid option” is going to be a rather tricky thing to solve, and we’re going to hurt people along the way.

          (Assumes the theory is sound. Which it has not been demonstrated to my satisfaction. Hasn’t been falsified either.)

          • Jiro says:

            The problem with addressing HBD is that we don’t have a good concensus on what to do if it turns out that the theory is a good predictor of reality.

            We may not have an idea of what to do, but we could still get some idea of what not to do; for instance, not assuming that imbalances are the result of discrimination.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            +1 to Jiro. That is what I was going to say. There are a lot of laws and public views out there that implicitly assume there are no biological differences. Even though the people who seem to believe that HBD advocacy is a bad thing also seem to accept that certain populations are more prone to certain diseases, and often don’t recognize the inconsistency.

          • Murphy says:

            I disagree, our hands are not tied. We aren’t forced to become bastards just because we have good data.

            If I learn that some kid has downs syndrome I’m not required to treat him like crap. It’s genetic, it’s not going to be cured by a little extra nurture but no rule says I have to turn into a nazi and start preaching for him to be thrown in a camp. I should however, not be terribly surprised if he and other kids with downs end up under-represented on the boards of fortune 500 companies or in professor posts in universities.

            Statistically speaking I’d argue that even if HBD is 100% correct skin colour still makes a really crappy proxy for most things. It might take a little of the ideological oomph out of some charts showing various groups are over/under-represented in various sectors but it doesn’t give you much on the individual level.

            Unfortunately the entire field of genetics is ideologically problematic for some people. Someone where I work got in trouble for stating in a lecture that excessive Consanguinity is bad because it leads to genetic problems/diseases and that having less than 4 genetic grandparents is typically a bad thing, especially if repeated over many generations.

            Apparently saying that is problematic because having kids with your close relatives counts as a cultural practice of some groups.

          • keranih says:

            Statistically speaking I’d argue that even if HBD is 100% correct skin colour still makes a really crappy proxy for most things.

            The crappiness of the proxy depends on (at least) two things – how cheap & easy the proxy test is to conduct (vs the next best test) and highly the test results correlate to reality.

            We aren’t going to get a test easier/cheaper than a visual check on general genetic race. It’s a test we do all the time, and it strongly correlates with a lot of things – political stance, taste in music, food, and clothing, level of wealth, credit scores, home neighborhood, etc, etc.

            It’s an imperfect measure of those things, to be sure, but it’s not a bad measure.

            Now, where I agree with you more is it doesn’t give you much on the individual level – if you have a high need to be very accurate about intelligence, honesty, and work ethic, and you are competing with other people for a limited number of workers, you are going to employ more accurate screening tests, up to the point where the more accurate tests are running out the advantage.

          • rlms says:

            @keranih
            But in what circumstances do you both need to judge someone’s political stance, taste in music, food, and clothing, level of wealth, credit scores, home neighborhood etc. and lack any information about them beyond their race? Most of the time you can just ask.

          • keranih says:

            Is this an argument against stereotyping/generalizing on people? Because I can get behind the idea that it’s not “fair” to other people and hampers one’s ability to accurately know another person – absolutely I can get that.

            But if you think that people don’t make assumptions about other people’s preferences all the time – and there is a huge grievance industry built around beating up on people for *not* knowing what assumptions are correct to hold about other people, and which ones are – then I can only say that this is not my experience.

            When would you make assumptions about what sort of music or clothes a person likes? Why, if you are going to try to sell these things to them, of course. You *could* send out mailers for your line of yachts to my neighborhood, but it would frankly be a waste of your time. You could also send out want ads for people with translation-quality skills in Chinese & English, but again, not a good way for you to spend your day.

            And you *could* go scamper back to your house late at night if you saw me coming down the street, and keep on walking without a care if one of the guys from the next block over was following you. Or you could wait and ask each of us which one is more likely to mug you.

            If we had all the world and time, we would not stereotype people, or places, or events. But we don’t. So how about we figure how to stereotype as accurately as possible, rather than pretending that we dont?

          • rlms says:

            Sure, you can often determine whether people in a neighbourhood would be interested in your product based on broad features like race or age or gender. But that’s because you are looking at a large group of people, which means guessing based on stereotypes is both more consistent and much cheaper than asking individually. I still don’t think that race by itself is useful when you are considering a single person.

            Regarding your example of potential muggers, I’m not making the claim that all “stereotypes” are useless. There’s no clear boundary between broad stereotypes, and specific qualities that convey useful information — I’m happy to make a judgement that someone is dangerous because they fit the stereotype of “running at me brandishing a knife”, even if some knife-brandishers are perfectly peacefully. But I think the specific stereotype of race is pretty much useless. In this specific example, clothing, body language, gender, and age are all much more useful.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            I’m happy to make a judgement that someone is dangerous because they fit the stereotype of “running at me brandishing a knife”, even if some knife-brandishers are perfectly peacefully.

            Excellent example. There are times when you have to make judgments without all the knowledge you’d like to have. In fact, most of life is like that.

            I think the main benefit of accepting HBD (which I do to a limited degree), is that one accepts that not all differences in groups are environmentally caused. Thus when the laws say companies are racist if their employee ratio is not the same as the population at large, maybe the laws are dumb (although this is actually more than a biologic thing — companies cannot be blamed for hiring more of one race if they are better on average even if the differences are environmentally caused). IF there is a race gap or a gender gap in education or crime or employment, it may not be due to the environment.

            I agree when it comes to individuals, one should not be blinded by such matters. When say I am hiring someone, I try my hardest not to consider irrelevant factors, such as weight, or height, or beauty, or skin condition, or race, or gender. None of those things are definitive in determining their cognitive levels. And it also isn’t fair to judge a person just because they belong to a group that may be statistically criminal.

          • “Apparently saying that is problematic because having kids with your close relatives counts as a cultural practice of some groups.”

            I don’t know about modern practice, but in traditional Arabic society first cousin marriages were favored. Note, for example, that the farmer who understood the language of animals in one of the first stories in the 1001 Nights is married to his cousin.

          • “But I think the specific stereotype of race is pretty much useless.”

            In the context of deciding whether there is a significant chance that a stranger will try to mug you, I think the combination of race and gender is quite useful. A white woman is very much less likely to be a mugger than a black man. Physical size helps too.

            What counts as useless? You encounter a random male stranger in the sort of context where mugging might well happen–say at night with nobody else around. What would you guess is the ratio between the probability that he will try to mug you conditional on his being black and the probability conditional on his being white? How high does the ratio have to be for race to be a useful proxy in that context?

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman

            While race might correlate with other variables that themselves correlate with likelihood of mugging, if you are walking past someone in the street you can see the other variables which correlate more accurately. An old woman is unlikely to mug you, a young man dressed in a certain way is more likely. In either case, knowing the race of the person doesn’t add any more information.

  33. Error says:

    Reciprocity.io is…interesting. I’m don’t know if the community is large enough for it to be effective, but I like the idea.

    Unfortunately, I see no way to join it that doesn’t involve Facebook. 🙁

  34. Sniffnoy says:

    So, uh, this reciprocity.io seems pretty neat, but how do I remove myself from it if I don’t actually want to use it?

    • paulfchristiano says:

      You have to go to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications and then click “Remove.”

      Sorry we don’t have something in the app interface, if you request it we may implement it.

      • Tedd says:

        Is there in fact a place to request it? Is the site on github or something?

        • paulfchristiano says:

          Perhaps this comment thread?

          • Error says:

            Feature request: non-facebook login.

            (given the removal address above, I assume this is impossible. Consider this a symbolic gesture against the social media assumption)

          • Adam says:

            Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier and a lot cheaper for an app developer to populate a profile by pulling info from an existing API that to maintain their own database and input forms.

          • paulfchristiano says:

            If not using a facebook login, it’s not exactly clear what the UI would be. You could look through all users on the site? That seems not great, I only know like 120 of the 1200 users on the site, I definitely don’t want to look through everyone, and that problem will only get worse as time goes on.

            Realistically you would probably not look through people at all, you’d be able to type names / email addresses and perhaps could search through registered users. That was my original proposal (in my original version the entire website was just two text fields and a button, one for your email address and one for their email address).

            But I think that what we ended up with was actually much better—looking through a list of your friends who have accounts is way more rewarding than just guessing and checking a few of your friends, getting disappointed that they haven’t signed up yet, and then leaving.

            Also, I think it is pretty helpful to be able to log back in once every few weeks and look only at new friends who have signed up.

          • Error says:

            If not using a facebook login, it’s not exactly clear what the UI would be.

            I have neither visibility into the current UI nor any experience with dating sites, so I can’t really suggest one.

            Don’t take the request too seriously; I’m a bit of a crank. A service that requires a social media account to use hits me a bit like an application that only runs on Windows, or a multipart email where the text part says “if you can read this, go to our website to read this email”.

            Some technologies I intentionally avoid, and it rubs me the wrong way when they’re made (seemingly) unnecessary dependencies of things I would otherwise find interesting.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Thanks! Yes, that does seem like something which should be in the app itself. (Ideally with a clarification of whether this merely removes you from the lists but keeps your info should you rejoin, or whether it actually deletes your info; actually ideally both should be possible, but that’s another matter.)

        Speaking of which, here’s a bit of a bug report — I did this without first logging out; when I returned to the site, though, it still brought me to the main page with the list of friends. I assume the site wouldn’t actually *work* if I tried to use it in this state, but it shouldn’t allow that at all.

        Once I logged out everything seemed fine though (as in, it required me to reauthorize with Facebook if I wanted to log back in).

        Another problem: If you are trying to login but cancel out of the dialog, the “login” button doesn’t reappear, rather the spinning thing just stays there. You need to reload the page before logging in again.

        Hope that’s helpful, thanks again!

        Edit: Actually, I realize now that I can’t directly see for myself whether I am now really removed from the lists…

      • aldel says:

        I find the UI pretty bewildering, I think probably because I don’t have any friends who have also joined Reciprocity. It should probably give more of an explanation when that’s the case. It just says “Select things you would do with people”, and I say, “What people??”

        Also, I hope it sends me an email or something when people I know join.

    • Matt M says:

      I feel like there have already been many similar such sites/apps that do this.

      My fear of using it would be that other actors might not be entirely genuine. What’s to stop someone from saying “Hey, I wonder which of my friends is interested in me” and logging on and checking every box, just to gather information, regardless of whether they are actually interested or not?

      At the end of the day, this is basically just “tinder but restricted to your facebook friends list and 99% of them don’t have it” isn’t it?

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        What’s to stop someone from saying “Hey, I wonder which of my friends is interested in me” and logging on and checking every box, just to gather information

        I knew someone who did this 15-20 years ago, on a similar site. They got an email that someone had a secret crush on her, so she logged on and put in every guy she knew. When I pointed out the obvious problem, she said “whatever, I just wanna know.”

        • Matt M says:

          I mean, it’s not exactly this, but I know tons of people (mostly, but not exclusively female) who make dating site profiles with no interest in actually dating anyone just to see which of their friends and colleagues are on the site and to make fun of them for it.

          This would be like that, but far worse.

  35. Thursday says:

    New brain structure study finds more evidence in favor of two “types” of trans women – an early-transitioning androphilic feminine-personality type and a late-transitioning gynophilic masculine-personality type (study, article).

    Michael Bailey is vindicated again. For those who haven’t read it, here is a free pdf copy of his book The Man Who Would Be Queen. The best book on homosexuality and transgender issues ever written.

    • onyomi says:

      Thanks for the link. One question: he seems to state rather unequivocally that all transwomen are attracted to men. I’m pretty sure that’s not true, or at least that not all transwomen are not attracted to women. I know at least one transwoman who was married to a woman and who now has a girlfriend after she came out as trans. That is, even after her marriage to a woman went south and she came out as a transwoman, she continued to be attracted to, and to preferentially date, women. Almost like being a “lesbian in a man’s body.”

      • Loquat says:

        The first and so far only transwoman I’ve spent any significant time talking to is the same, no interest in men and considers herself a lesbian. I actually met her on a dating site, where she was initially presenting herself as a straight man, before eventually deciding to transition.

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        Bailey’s theory is that trans women are divided into a late-transitioning/not attracted solely to men/ugly/programmer category and a early-transitioning/attracted solely to men/attractive/typically feminine professions category.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Wait, does he account for the fact that the earlier someone transitions/is able to transition, the less time (or, potentially, no time, especially with puberty-suppressing drugs) testosterone has to do the various things it does? Because it seems fairly obvious that later transitioning will usually mean more exposure to testosterone, with its effects on the body and brain.

          Or, that someone who is assigned male is probably going to enter a male-coded profession instead of a female-coded profession? Is a computer programmer who transitions supposed to give up all her education, industry contacts, experience, etc and become a home decorator?

          I haven’t read anything by Bailey, so I don’t know if he addresses these sort of points.

          • Thursday says:

            The early transitioning type have still typically had to wait until adulthood before transitioning. That means past 18 and often into their twenties. Things like sexual orientation/preference seem mostly set by then, so I’m skeptical that continued exposure to testosterone does much.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Thursday:

            But otherwise exposure to testosterone does a lot to body and brain. Example: boys and girls can compete against each other in sports, including combative sports like wrestling, up until puberty hits and the boys become bigger, stronger, etc.

          • Adam says:

            Most male secondary sex characteristics are acquired during puberty, but there are a few that continue happening. The most obvious I can think of is acquiring more facial and body hair, which continues even when you’re very old. I’m sure there have to be others like that which don’t require major changes in skeletomuscular structure that require the person to still be growing for it to work.

          • Thursday says:

            Fair point, Adam, but those kinds of sex hormone induced changes after puberty are generally much less dramatic than those before. So, it’s worth investigating, but I would bet heavily against any significant effect.

            Bailey also notes that the early transitioning types tend to be very stereotypically feminine in behaviour and appearance before.

            At least in terms of interests, I’d also bet that someone like Bruce Jenner was obsessed with sports and other stereotypically masculine interests very early into puberty, if not before.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Thursday:

            Is there much of a difference in, say, facial structure appearance between a girl and a boy prior to puberty, though? It seems to me that feminine behaviour and style of grooming, dress, etc would lead to a feminine appearance in a child below a certain age.

            I don’t know how it’s relevant that Caitlyn Jenner was probably into sports prior to puberty (as one generally has to be to experience any success in sports – you have to start young, young, young). We’ve started to shed the idea that cis women who are into stereotypically masculine pursuits are not “proper” women…

          • Trent A. says:

            Younger A*Ps do not pass as well as CSTSes of the same age and are less likely to be able to pass before medical transition.

            One of the Dutch studies Candice Brown Elliott has on her blog refers to this, and my anecdata finds the same thing (I could pass well enough pre-T to live stealth at one point, but none of the AAP guys I’ve met could even try pulling that off).

        • Thursday says:

          late-transitioning/not attracted solely to men/ugly/programmer

          To be fair to Bailey, he never calls this type ugly. However, IIRC he does note that they are often less persuasively female in appearance and that heterosexual men tend not to be attracted to them.

      • lolno42 says:

        BBL theory turns out to be howling lunacy ‘supported’ only by loudly insisting everyone who doesn’t fit in its boxes is lying, film at 11.

  36. Thursday says:

    From third link on transexualism:

    Before transition, the natural behavior of non-homosexual / autogynephilic MTF transsexuals is gender typical, easily passing as typical straight men, often marrying women, fathering children, and successful in stereotypically masculine and even hyper-masculine (e.g. Navy Seal) careers. It is not uncommon for them to exhibit homophobic and sexist attitudes.

    In other words, they’re often jerks. Jerk before, jerk afterward.

    • psmith says:

      gender typical, easily passing as typical straight men…. In other words, they’re often jerks.

      This strikes me as a rather bizarre assertion. Some of my best friends, etc. I suppose it depends on the sort of person you like to spend time around.

      • herbert herberson says:

        I’d call anyone who transitions after marrying a hetrosexual cis person and having a family at least a little bit of a jerk. One way or another, you made some bad life choices that caused a lot of unnecessary complication in the lives of people who did nothing to deserve it.

        • psmith says:

          I read the parent comment as generic antijockism, but under your reading it makes a good deal more sense.

          • Thursday says:

            The parent comment was intended as a potential explanation of why so many prominent autogynephilic transsexuals, like Dierdre McCloskey, Lynn Conway and Martine Rothblatt, are such first class a-holes. Further study would be needed however to distinguish whether this correlation is only with prominent individuals of this type or with autogyenphilic individuals more generally. Other confounding variables may include people who have such desires vs. those who actually go through with sex change surgery.

        • qwints says:

          I have a lot of sympathy for people who made those choices under immense societal pressure.

          • Randy M says:

            Sympathy, perhaps, because there probably is some suffering involved.
            Certainly not any sort of admiration, though, as that should be reserved for those that sacrifice their feelings for the sake of others.

          • multiheaded says:

            Behold, the inevitable consequence of this horrible fucking autogynephilia discourse. The linked blogger might say all she wants how much she sympathizes with ~TOO MALE~ trans women, but she does her best to spread this kind of attitude about us. That we are selfish, obsessive, perverted and pathologically dishonest.

            This makes me so fucking sick.

          • suntzuanime says:

            What the hell are you on about? The “inevitable consequence of this horrible fucking autogynephilia discourse” is that someone at some point might say something dumb? I think that’s a price we as a society can afford to pay. I gotta say, I’m glad you’re not the only transgender I know or the “they’re all huge assholes” hypothesis might be appealing.

          • multiheaded says:

            It’s not “just someone saying something dumb” if it’s the predominant opinion.

            If most everyone constantly reinforces the idea that transitioning, for people who are too masculine or older than a certain age, is selfish and likely has an ulterior unworthy motive (obsession with sex), then it’s my fucking problem alright. And that’s what’s happening.

            (Can you in good conscience say that 1) this is not widespread, or 2) that autogynephilia discourse doesn’t feed into it? Because hey I got that even from my fucking parents, dude. My parents know nothing about transness but somehow they did pick up on this. It feels pretty fucking pervasive to me, dude.)

          • suntzuanime says:

            Wait, were you responding to the original “type 2 transgenders tend to be assholes” or the later “transitioning after already being married with children makes you an asshole”? I took you to be responding to the first, because I did not think you were married with children. Either way you seem like you’re wildly out of line.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            You need to chill.

    • Deiseach says:

      In other words, they’re often jerks. Jerk before, jerk afterward.

      Or over-compensating wildly in the opposite direction because of fears of being homosexual themselves, of having something wrong with them (“I’m a guy, why do I have feelings/thoughts like a woman?”) etc., so they go for stereotypically masculine behaviours and professions until they decide that no, they’re not a guy after all.

      It wasn’t unusual for gay men to marry and even father children as an attempt to ‘cure’ themselves, and then eventually divorce and leave their families because it didn’t work. I have no reason to think trans women of the type described above wouldn’t behave the same way.

  37. Reasoner says:

    Reciprocity.io is interesting, but it reminds me of this xkcd comic.

    For most women, being desired is one of their biggest turn-ons. The fact that a man went out of his way to ask her out changes her answer to the question of whether she wants to go out with him. (I once went on a date with a girl who told me that if a guy ever walked up to her in public and asked her out, she’d probably say yes even if she didn’t think he was attractive, just because this had never happened to her and she really wanted it to happen. I didn’t have the heart to explain that guys don’t do this because they don’t want to be rebuked by radical feminist types.) Women don’t talk about this much because if they let guys know that being desired was a turn-on, guys would start faking desire in order to get laid. Then a woman’s goal of figuring out which men are actually really in to her would get harder.

    (I’m not confident I know what I’m talking about and would appreciate critical feedback. If your feedback is “confessing your love is beta”–I never said to be pathetic about it. Being pathetic is what causes problems.)

    • Brad says:

      I don’t think it is so much fear of being rebuked by “radical feminist types” so much as most people don’t like being rejected and most men are a subset of most people.

      • lvlln says:

        I think it’s definitely both. Being rejected is inherently no fun, but “radical feminist types” certainly raise the risk a lot more. Being rejected and also believing or being told that you are a terrible sub-human misogynist shitlord is worse than just being rejected. To many, I imagine being accepted and also believing or being told that you are a terrible sub-human misogynist shitlord is worse than just being rejected.

        • Brad says:

          I wonder how many of these “radical feminist types” there are and how many times a year they collectively call a would be suitor a terrible sub-human misogynist shitlord while rejecting his advances.

          Looks to me like the problem of a small subculture, but perhaps I’m the one in the bubble.

          • lvlln says:

            perhaps I’m the one in the bubble.

            I think you’re definitely onto something!

          • Brad says:

            You have some data to go with that snark? Or just a whole lot of unjustified confidence in the universality of your own experiences?

          • lvlln says:

            You have some data to go with that snark? Or just a whole lot of unjustified confidence in the universality of your own experiences?

            When have I displayed any confidence in the “universality of [my] own experiences?” I don’t think my experiences are universal. And I haven’t said or implied otherwise.

            Please, lay off putting words in my mouth.

          • DrBeat says:

            They also do a LOT to repeat the message, to everyone, everywhere, at all times, that unattractive men approaching women romantically are disgusting and shameful and should be punished by everyone in sensory range. It’s disingenuous to say they are being silly in fearing that response, when the most powerful people in our culture are devoting a LOT of time and effort specifically to instilling that fear in them.

          • Brad says:

            @DrBeat
            I assume you don’t have any data either?

            Also, just who are these most powerful people in our culture anyway? Is Obama out there telling young men not to approach women romantically?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Brad – Out of curiosity, what sort of data would you accept as showing that the above is an actual problem worth discussing?

          • Brad says:

            @FacelessCraven
            I never denied it was a problem anywhere and everywhere. All I did was suggest that I didn’t think it wasn’t a particularly widespread problem. I’ve gotten pushback on that. How would you suggest we resolve that difference in understanding?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Brad – “I never denied it was a problem anywhere and everywhere. All I did was suggest that I didn’t think it wasn’t a particularly widespread problem. I’ve gotten pushback on that. How would you suggest we resolve that difference in understanding?”

            I honestly have no idea. I could cite personal experience as recent as several days ago, but you’ve already mentioned “unjustified confidence in the universality of your own experience”. From previous iterations of this conversation, I’ve found that pointing to institutional examples doesn’t go over well. Do we need some sort of poll?

            There’s also a general scope problem in that you’re talking specifically about dating and feminism, but the conversation overwhelmingly pattern-matches to the interminable “social justice is evil” vs “anti-social justice is paranoid” sniping. I find it very difficult not to conflate the two, and I imagine other people do too, but it seems clear that conflating them does nothing good for this particular conversation.

            …If your general point is to attempt to push back against this forum’s bad habit of deploying ideologically-convinient just-so-stories, I think it’s a good one. On the other hand, dismissing anecdotes without offering anything better comes across as, well, dismissive. People are going to go with the best they have, and non-constructive critique just makes you enemies.

            [EDIT] – TL;DR – it seems like you object to the sort of discourse that was going on in this thread, and I’m genuinely interested in hearing your thoughts on why it’s bad and how it could be done better.

          • Brad says:

            @FC

            …If your general point is to attempt to push back against this forum’s bad habit of deploying ideologically-convinient just-so-stories, I think it’s a good one. On the other hand, dismissing anecdotes without offering anything better comes across as, well, dismissive. People are going to go with the best they have, and non-constructive critique just makes you enemies.

            Let’s start from the beginning.

            Reasoner wrote that a woman friend of his told him that she would respond well to being cold approached and he didn’t have the heart to tell her that men don’t do this because they are afraid of being rebuked by radical feminist types. He also said that he didn’t have high confidence in what he wrote and would appreciate critical feedback.

            I offered some not terribly critical feedback the gist of which was that I thought fear of being rejected was a bigger problem for most than radical feminist types.

            I don’t see that as dismissing anecdotes without offering anything better. Yet somehow it seemed to have violated some taboo against not ritually denouncing “radical feminist types” and affirming that they are a massive problem. That ultimately resulted in Dr Beat’s might-as-well-be copypasta.

          • Spookykou says:

            @Brad I agree with you here, I can’t imagine that fear of ‘radical feminist types’ is as common or as important as general fear of rejection for the vast majority of humanity. The concept of ‘radical feminists’ is almost non-existent in many other countries but I am not aware of any place where approaching random girls on the street with a legitimate date request is common.

            I do think that it is a growing problem, and it is a particular problem for young people in higher education trying to find dates in the US. But if radical feminists magically all disappeared tomorrow, those same guys wouldn’t suddenly be walking up to every cute girl they see with their hearts on their sleeves.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Brad – For what it’s worth, I thought your initial response was entirely reasonable and obviously true in the general case.

            “That ultimately resulted in Dr Beat’s might-as-well-be copypasta.”

            With apologies to the Doctor, I would agree that at this point his post might as well be pasta. On the other hand…

            wonder how many of these “radical feminist types” there are and how many times a year they collectively call a would be suitor a terrible sub-human misogynist shitlord while rejecting his advances.

            Looks to me like the problem of a small subculture, but perhaps I’m the one in the bubble.

            and

            You have some data to go with that snark? Or just a whole lot of unjustified confidence in the universality of your own experiences?

            and

            I assume you don’t have any data either?

            Also, just who are these most powerful people in our culture anyway? Is Obama out there telling young men not to approach women romantically?

            …might as well be copypasta at this point as well.

            Like I said, there’s a long-standing sniping match between “SJ is a serious problem” and “anti-SJ is absurd paranoia”, of which this thread is the latest iteration. It seems pretty clear that the former half annoys you, and the latter half annoys me. Rather than doing the same song and dance for the thousandth time, though, I’m curious if you think there’s a way to avoid the trap.

            Given that people feel the need to talk about why SJ is a problem, what would be a way to do that without amounting to “ritually denouncing “radical feminist types”? What’s the standard of evidence for meaningfully arguing that they ARE a massive problem?

          • Spookykou says:

            @FC

            I think the main problem is perspective.

            1.You have people who are not the target of SJ and so to them, at best SJ is an annoying cultural fad, or something they agree with.

            2.You then have people who are target, or target adjacent, who might have been personal attacked, or now live in fear of being attacked, so to them SJ is an obvious evil that needs to be stopped.

            3.Then you have, I am pretty sure, our host, and maybe other people, who regardless of where they fall on the first two points, are primarily concerned with the methodology of SJ, and see it as an obvious evil that needs to be stopped.

            I think it should be obvious to anyone that SJ is not a major problem in the over forty demographics, it is not a problem in conservative communities (last I checked, a decent chunk of america) and it is not a problem in almost any other country in the world.

            However, it is a problem on all major social media, and academia. More over, unlike in the past when academia has been known for going a little crazy but staying in academia, SJ is leaking out into more mainstream places. Just the other day they said ‘Social Justice Warrior” on Law and Order and I had to explain what it was to my aunt.

            It is in a ‘it might grow into a big problem, or is currently a big problem where I live my life’ stage, so for the people in group 2 it is a pressing concern. For people in group 1 it is overblown or good, and people in group 3 can fall anywhere between it is bad but minor and will probably just go away on its own, to pressing concern.

            Personally I think the best method to reduce sniping would be for people in group 2 to adopt the more neutral talking points of group 3 and just try to convince everyone that mob justice is not something humans are ‘good’ at, and we should stop. Instead of trying to turn the gun around, try and convince everyone to disarm. Scott makes this point a million times better than I ever could.

            Also, Principal of Charity is always good.

          • lvlln says:

            It’s very important to note that no one in this thread stated or implied that “radical feminist types” are a “massive” or “widespread” problem. The strongest claim I made was that they do create some problem by attaching extra pain beyond the fear of rejection to cold approaching (DrBeat went a bit further and said that they worked really hard at spreading the message far and wide and often). And obviously it was never stated or implied that the fear of rejection wasn’t by far the dominant factor in keeping men from cold approaching in most cases.

            For making such a banal assertion, I was challenged to provide data to support things I never stated or implied, such as the idea that this assertion was at all based on my personal experiences and universalizing thereof, or that this assertion was making any claim on how prevalent this problem was.

            (As an aside, there was also the bizarre idea that the “radical feminist type” who does the rebuking was the woman being cold approached, rather than a 3rd party, when that wasn’t ever implied in Reasoner’s initial post.)

            Spookykou is right. Principle of charity is good. Not snarkily implying that someone is in a bubble based on something they never said or implied would be a good start.

          • Spookykou says:

            lvlln

            To extend the principal of charity to Brad,

            lvlln says:
            November 2, 2016 at 3:13 pm
            perhaps I’m the one in the bubble.

            I think you’re definitely onto something!

            they could have interpreted this as something like ‘it is obviously a problem, I know it is a problem(universalizing experience), and if you think it isn’t you must be living in a bubble’ which would explain their response. Implication and intent are unfortunately two different things, and we can’t control what other people read in our words.

            You could have just been saying something more general like, most people are in bubbles and it makes it difficult for us to understand the problems of people not in our bubble. But I can at least see how Brad could have thought you were being snarky.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Spookykou

            I think it should be obvious to anyone that SJ is not a major problem in the over forty demographics

            I’m over 40, and in Group 2. A fair number of the SJWs are in that demographic as well; many who were part of the earlier PC wave starting in the mid-90s have gone SJW.

            Personally I think the best method to reduce sniping would be for people in group 2 to adopt the more neutral talking points of group 3 and just try to convince everyone that mob justice is not something humans are ‘good’ at, and we should stop.

            The SJWs consider this kind of talk an attack, however. Suggesting we shouldn’t crucify privileged person for microaggression, or that we should attempt to get to the actual facts when an accusation by marginalized person against a privileged person is made (e.g. Sabrina Erdeley’s Rolling Stone article), is tantamount to a declaration of war.

          • Spookykou says:

            @The Nybbler

            When I say SJ is not a major problem in the over 40 demographic I am saying the percentage of over 40 people who are social justice warriors is way lower than the percentage of people under 40 who are social justice warriors. I did not mean to imply that the victims could not be over 40. As to the validity of what I was trying to say, I must confess I was generalizing from my personal experience, I only know about 30 people over 40 personally, but none of them have even heard of social justice, and everything I have ever seen has implied to me that it was a young persons movement.

            The SJWs consider this kind of talk an attack

            I think that is mostly true, my position on this is derived almost totally from In Favor of Niceness which makes the case far better than I could.

          • Brad says:

            @lvlln
            Please give it a rest with the fake outrage. You knew exactly what you were doing when you wrote “terrible sub-human misogynist shitlord”. It was designed to provoke a reaction and it did. Don’t now act all innocence misunderstood.

            @FC

            Given that people feel the need to talk about why SJ is a problem, what would be a way to do that without amounting to “ritually denouncing “radical feminist types”? What’s the standard of evidence for meaningfully arguing that they ARE a massive problem?

            I know you think it is unreasonable to be asked to provide some sort of survey data (or find a clever proxy) to put some numbers on these questions.

            In that case you just need to do more hedging.

            Unqualified sweeping statements made without any sort of backup are bait for the type of discussion you agree is unhelpful. Take a look at this comment for example, which I didn’t find it worth my time to respond to:
            http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/01/links-1116-site-unseen/#comment-430364
            Aapje is dismissing entire fields of study across many academic institutions as “approaching uselessness”. There’s no evidence provided for this, it isn’t hedged with “in my opinion”, it’s just thrown out there as if it were obviously true.

            So there it is: evidence or hedging language. Doesn’t seem so unreasonable does it?

            @Spookykou
            People in group 2 shouldn’t write as if people in group 1 didn’t exist, in fact it would be nice to see an acknowledgment from time to time that we are the vast majority.

            Also, as a thirty-something I think your cut-off at forty is too high.

          • Spookykou says:

            @Brad

            It was a rare example of me hedging 🙂

          • Tibor says:

            @Brad: I admit to have a bias about certain fields but several people whose opinions I value made (independently) more or less the same point to me – that it is stupid to disregard a field if you know little about it. So I try not to do that and I also had to cringe a bit while reading Aapje’s sweeping generalization. That said, there really are serious problems with some humanities, namely that their understanding of statistics tends to be horrible and so the results they produce are often worthless. I see it as a case for more divison of labour – it is silly to expect a psychologist understand statistics as well as someone who does it as a dayjob, the humanities should simply hire professional statisticians to help them with the statistics and let them concentrate on the theory.

            On the other hand, if you have students at major universities in the US trying to silence anyone who does not share their opinions, it is a problem. They might be a small group (I find it hard to believe that the majority or even a large minority of US students are so brainwashed as to consider ridiculous concepts such as “cultural appropriation” seriously), but they seem to be very vocal and since they are good at working with the media (for the media, they are a goldmine – you write and article about the latest “scandal”, regardless of whether you support the SJWs or not, you are bound to get a lot of traffic and people watching ads on your website), the university directors seem to give in to their demands, occasionally making someone’s life miserable and making lives of many others uneasy and cautious (I would not want to live somewhere where I have to think about whether dressing up as cowboys and indians for a Halloween party is acceptable or whether I will be bullied by an angry mob for doing that) without producing any positive values. Therefore, an effort to reduce or eliminate this group’s ability to bully others is laudable in my book.

          • lvlln says:

            Brad:

            Please give it a rest with the fake outrage. You knew exactly what you were doing when you wrote “terrible sub-human misogynist shitlord”. It was designed to provoke a reaction and it did. Don’t now act all innocence misunderstood.

            Honestly, it feels really weird to see something like this on SSC. Outrage? Like, is there anything in my text to indicate that I’m outraged or at all angry? I’ve certainly expressed frustration at you constantly twisting my words to things that have no resemblance to what they actually said. Let me assure you that the frustration is genuine.

            And yes, I do know exactly what I was doing when I wrote “terrible sub-human misogynist shitlord.” You’ll note that those words have absolutely zero relation to claims about how common or widespread it is. Only on the severity and style of the rebuke when it does happen. That you jumped from a statement summarizing the severity to one about the frequency/ubiquity is frankly very strange. It’s not even a stretch of logic, it’s a logical leap in an orthogonal direction.

            If you think I was being uncharitable or downright trollish with my summary of the severity of the rebuke, then say so – I disagree, but that’s at least criticism that engages with what I actually wrote. But please don’t make shit up about how this somehow asserts anything at all about the frequency of such rebukes.

            Though at this point, I might as well give up. It’s clear to me you’d rather build up blatant strawmen to snarkily beat down than actually try to come to an understanding. I get the sense that you think this strawmanning is justified by the tone or word choice of what I wrote, which is an error that I’ve become accustomed to not seeing in SSC.

          • Aapje says:

            Aapje is dismissing entire fields of study across many academic institutions as “approaching uselessness”. There’s no evidence provided for this, it isn’t hedged with “in my opinion”, it’s just thrown out there as if it were obviously true.

            Scott has written quite a bit about the replication crisis and lately he often tells us about major findings that many people held/hold true, but which do not replicate.

            At this point, I think that a reasonable person can have little confidence that any research from these fields that one uses to build an argument has less than a 25% chance to be false, unless one has the time and intelligence to examine the research in detail. An effort that is so substantial and impossible for many, that it makes it a major bottleneck for good theory building on the various issues that people feel they need to have a good theory for, to function well.

            Anyway, I apologize for assuming that this was commonly understood here.

          • Brad says:

            At this point, I think that a reasonable person can have little confidence that any research from these fields that one uses to build an argument has less than a 25% chance to be false, unless one has the time and intelligence to examine the research in detail.

            If you are going to make a claim like that the absolute bare minimum, not even close to adequate, you could do would be to at least list what fields you are talking about specifically. A tiny bit closer to adequate would be to break it down into major sub-fields so the reader can actually check whether or not you are even familiar with what you are dismissing out of hand.

            Anyway, I apologize for assuming that this was commonly understood here.

            That phrasing isn’t helping.

          • Aapje says:

            I don’t see why I have an obligation to list all the fields that have issues. My argument is fully supported by giving one solid example and arguing that this is not isolated. Here is your one example:

            https://www.verywell.com/what-is-replication-2795802

            36% > 25%

            This field doesn’t use different science from other fields or operates with different pressures on researchers, so logically, other fields have the same issues (although the extent can differ depending on the prevalence of certain research methods).

          • Brad says:

            You are dismissing as worthless some large group of academic fields which you refuse to even enumerate. And you are purporting not to just to speak for yourself but to be laying forth facts of the matter.

            Thank you for proving my point about terrible discourse norms from at least some anti-SJ posters on this website. Purpose served, I won’t be reading any more of your posts.

          • Aapje says:

            I did not say they were worthless, but ‘approaching uselessness’ for certain uses. So you misrepresented my argument.

            I merely gave my own opinion, but because you apparently hold as faith that science is automatically worthwhile, no matter how poorly done, you attack me for speaking for others, while I did no such thing. I merely gave my opinion and gave arguments when asked for them.

            It is a classic last ditch debating tactic to pretend that people who give their opinion are illegitimately ‘speaking for others.’ I’ve seen that before by people who had no arguments left. It’s rather ironic that you use this tactic and then complain about the ‘terrible discourse norms.’

          • Aapje says:

            BTW, Brad, you could also just asked nicely why I thought that it’s unreasonable to consider a >25% failure rate to be blindly usable science. In that case, I would have explained that the scientific standard is p < 0.05, which is 1 in 20, which is 5 times more strict that 1 in 4. So if reasonable scientists think that you can accept at most a 1 in 20 to be publishable, then how is a more than 5 times worse result acceptable?

      • herbert herberson says:

        I think people are always eager to give themselves excuses to not do something as harrowing as a cold romantic approach, and that the excuse given by Reasoner is an especially popular one for many reasons.

        • Reasoner says:

          Cold approach fear is something I have overcome plenty of times in the past. And if cold approaching felt like it was something I should be doing in the abstract, I would probably overcome this fear more often. But I have had conversations with people (yes, in real life, this is San Francisco) who think I’m a terrible person unless I interact with female strangers in just the right way. This creates uncertainty about whether cold approaching is something I should be doing in the abstract. Combine this with the fear that still exists, and the result is I do it much less.

          It actually seems to me like you guys in this thread are being way overoptimistic–you seem to be taking for granted that this is something women appreciate, when I literally offered a single anecdote. Do we have any kind of survey data?

          Also, to everyone posting in this subthread: please be kinder to each other! Let’s not make sympathy a “nonrenewable resource mined at great cost” on SSC.

          • hlynkacg says:

            For what it’s worth, I know how you feel.

            I found that one thing that helped a great deal was to only do cold approaches out side of areas that you frequent. This made it a lot easier to overcome the fear of rejection/embarrassment. Compartmentalize that shit, who cares what strangers think? Their opinions don’t matter, its the people you have to look in the eye the next morning who’s opinions you need to worry about.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I’m going to second, or third, or whatever the people saying that it’s not a fear of being rebuked by “radical feminists” (who are actually quite rare, in the technical meaning of the term, even in places like campuses) but a fear of rejection in general. It’s not like all men were fearless cold-approachers until the 1970s: Redpill types will speak of a lost age when men knew how to deal with women properly but I don’t think that lost age actually existed.

      That said, I’m going to seize on this:

      Women don’t talk about this much because if they let guys know that being desired was a turn-on, guys would start faking desire in order to get laid. Then a woman’s goal of figuring out which men are actually really in to her would get harder.

      Do you mean fake romantic desire when sexual desire is all that’s there? Because, uh, guys already do that. If you mean fake sexual desire where there is none, I’m not sure what the point would be in doing that – why try to have sex with someone you don’t want to have sex with? If you mean inflate the level of romantic desire to facilitate getting laid, again, already a thing. If you mean inflating the level of sexual desire to get laid (guy thinking “eh, she’ll do”, woman thinking “oh he things I’m so hot”) I think this is something that happens at least 50% inside women’s heads – I think a lot of women really overrate the degree to which a man needs to find someone attractive to want to have sex with them. “Better than my hand” isn’t a ringing endorsement, and I think a lot of women don’t realize that’s the bar for a lot of guys.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        I’m going to second, or third, or whatever the people saying that it’s not a fear of being rebuked by “radical feminists” (who are actually quite rare, in the technical meaning of the term, even in places like campuses) but a fear of rejection in general.

        I think that fear of rejection plays an obviously bigger role, but I wouldn’t dismiss the “rebuking” out of hand. It’s not just radical feminists, but rather your garden variety (within the environment of young, college-educated people who use the internet) who have been pushing the idea that cold approaching is inmoral, even if the rethoric is usually not as incendiary as that of the former type.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Is there a general “cold approaching is immoral” message, or is there a message of “don’t approach a woman inappropriately, don’t approach her when she clearly wants to be left alone, don’t approach her when she’s clearly doing something else”? Plenty of women will say “I was on the bus with earphones in, reading, and this guy came and sat next to me and invaded my personal space and called me a bitch when I didn’t want to talk with him”. I don’t know how many women I’ve seen complaining that a guy asked them if they wanted to dance, at a dance club, and then went away quietly if they said no.

          Of course this runs into the problem that the sort of guys who don’t approach women much will be scared into not approaching them at all, even in appropriate contexts, while the sort of guys who aggressively hit on women reading with earbuds in are probably not the kind of guys who care what feminists of any kind have to say. It is too bad that there are few honest messages about the right way to do these things. I’m not the first one to express this.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Unfortunately for us, women have different opinions. I have a co-worker friend who insists that guys shouldn’t cold-approach her in bars, which was a position I probably would have considered a straw-man before I met her.

          • lvlln says:

            Is there a general “cold approaching is immoral” message, or is there a message of “don’t approach a woman inappropriately, don’t approach her when she clearly wants to be left alone, don’t approach her when she’s clearly doing something else”?

            My perception is that that seems a motte-bailey sort of thing. When pushed to support the position, people will say the latter, but the general message that’s broadcast loudly and publicly all the time is the former. I think Scott Aaronson is one example of someone who was victimized by this or something like it.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            “don’t approach a woman inappropriately,

            Sounds fine in a vacuum, but “inappropriately” is the most easily manipulable descriptor ever.

            don’t approach her when she clearly wants to be left alone,

            This one is similar to the above, the edge cases are easy to figure out, but there’s a huge grey area. This is OK, in principle, as long as you don’t try to systematically move things from “grey area” to “edge cases” (both edges).

            don’t approach her when she’s clearly doing something else”

            This is just silly, by definition they’ll be doing “something else”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @herbert herbertson:

            A bar, or a club? If someone’s just sitting there quietly at a bar minding their own business, I can see them not wanting to be approached. The last time I was in a bar I was just there to grab some lunch and, as it turned out, get a mild buzz on. I would have been annoyed if someone had come and started hitting on me.

            @lvlln:

            Aaronson was a case of a meek guy absorbing lessons meant for guys who are the opposite of meek (and who probably don’t absorb those lessons either). He then had the misfortune to run into the feminist variety of the sort of online writers who think of sympathy as a nonrenewable resource mined at great cost, so it must be fought over.

            @Whatever Happened To Anonymous:

            Yeah, it’s a shitty situation. Still, every woman I know has stories about guys aggressively and unpleasantly hitting on them and being awful when rejected in any way. It’s too bad those guys aren’t going to change their behaviour by being told it’s wrong – it’s highly unlikely they don’t know it’s unwanted already.

          • Tekhno says:

            What about just not approaching women at all? Do you really need to?

            Need sex? Hire an escort.
            Need an emotional relationship? Hire a cuddles and bacon gf experiency escort.
            Need babies? Adopt (there are enough unwanted children flying about), or just wait a few decades for science to science you a baby from your own stem cells.

            We should just ban all conventional relationships at this point. It would make things so much less complicated.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The usual message is “don’t approach a woman inappropriately”. But it’s nonsense, as the same woman will be perfectly happy with an “inappropriate” approach from a guy she finds attractive while she’ll go out of her way to find a reason an approach from a guy she doesn’t find attractive is “inappropriate”: “I was in a bar with my friends and this creepy guy started hitting on me. Don’t bother me when I’m with my friends”.

            If you follow women’s stated rules for approach, you’ll never approach. That’s the point of the rules, to act as a filter for the timid. (sounds like Red Pill/PUA stuff, but I came up with it before RP was a thing… as I expect many men did)

          • lvlln says:

            Aaronson was a case of a meek guy absorbing lessons meant for guys who are the opposite of meek (and who probably don’t absorb those lessons either). He then had the misfortune to run into the feminist variety of the sort of online writers who think of sympathy as a nonrenewable resource mined at great cost, so it must be fought over.

            Hm, I’m not sure it’s the right fit, but this phenomenon – which I think is an accurate description of what happened to Aaronson – looks an awful lot like motte and bailey to me. The message that cold approaching is immoral is loudly broadcast out to all men, meek or not, without much (any?) attempt to discriminate on who gets it. When the meek men who are at least not-meek enough to ask questions say that this seems unreasonable, the response is that this message is meant only for the not-meek men, and the meek men should use their judgment to determine if a cold approach doesn’t meet various criteria which would make it immoral.

          • Randy M says:

            It’s also terribly subjective, as is even “clearly wants to be left alone.” This requires a person to be able to pick up on non-verbal cues, which is a great skill but not one that can reasonably be expected of everyone to master before initiating social contact, because there are only so ways non-verbal signals are able to be given, and they are all at least somewhat ambiguous. “She’s frowning and reading a book. Maybe she’s lonely and would appreciate the compliment inherent in my asking her number” is motivated reasoning, but plausibly sincere, as the same suite of body language could communicate either state.

            The only workable standard is “break off contact when an explicit verbal request is made to do so.”
            Going above and beyond in an attempt to be polite, civil, kind, etc. is desirable but not enforceable unless clear rules can be spelled out, which apply across situations and personalities, which isn’t really possible due to the variance in human social situations.

            And I say this as a rather introverted person who rarely initiates social interaction with strangers.

          • Brad says:

            The only workable standard is “break off contact when an explicit verbal request is made to do so.”
            Going above and beyond in an attempt to be polite, civil, kind, etc. is desirable but not enforceable unless clear rules can be spelled out, which apply across situations and personalities, which isn’t really possible due to the variance in human social situations.

            Who were you thinking would create and enforce these rules anyway? Where’s the need for a “workable standard” in the first place?

            This whole comment (and subthread) is a puzzle to me. Someone that isn’t good at picking up on non-verbal cues is going to have some negative social interactions. Including some interactions where the other person takes things the wrong way and overreacts, because guess what — s/he might not be a tip-top social genius either. Such is life.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Need an emotional relationship? Hire a cuddles and bacon gf experiency escort.

            That seems like a terrible idea for the long term, for reasons I can’t properly articulate.

          • Randy M says:

            I was using rule to mean “rule of thumb” or norm ala the advice discussed by WHt Anonymous and dndnrsn above, not as in a law.

            Where’s the need for a “workable standard” in the first place?

            The standard as in, “with whom do our sympathies tend to lie in this oft discussed situation”

            Someone that isn’t good at picking up on non-verbal cues is going to have some negative social interactions. Including some interactions where the other person takes things the wrong way and overreacts, because guess what s/he might not be a tip-top social genius either. Such is life.

            Believe it or not, the stuff of life occasionally merits discussion. If you have a more pressing topic for consideration, the “New Thread” button is that way \/

          • JulieK says:

            What does “Red Pill” mean?

          • keranih says:

            What does ‘RedPill’ mean?

            Depends on the context. PUA is “pick up artist” or “game theory” – how to approach women for sex (or other ends, but mostly sex) successfully, and some people mix redpill sorts in with that. More commonly, redpill & MRA (Men’s rights activists) get combined, and it’s not helped that a MRA-positive movie is titled ‘RedPill’.

            One way I’ve heard it explained is that redpill is the anti-feminist mindset, pushing against a system that grants more rights and privileges to women than to men.

            It’s…well, the whole thing is fraught. And includes a lot of emotionally engaged people.

            I myself don’t find it useful to assume that guys with poor social skills who are constantly turned down on cold approaches are actually fighting the same thing as divorcee fathers who are trying to get their children out of the custody of their drug-using mother. Or people who are proposing legislative changes for equality of registration for selective service. But some people do see systemic links here.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I don’t think it’s either surprising or sinister that women prefer being approached by men they find more appealing, and will frequently tolerate behaviour from men based on how appealing they find that man. Men will be more likely to approach women they consider more attractive (although there is a “she is too hot for me” effect for certain) and will frequently tolerate behaviour from women based on how appealing they find them.

            It’s too bad that a lot of people want to deny this, for whatever reason, and it’s too bad that a lot of the people who will admit it are quite distasteful (see below).

            @JulieK:

            As I understand it, Redpill is a sort of ideological thing coming largely out of PUA culture. The original PUAs were “agnostic” – focused mostly on things that worked (or, that they thought worked, due to various cognitive biases). Redpill came from saying “these things (that may or may not work) – why”. Redpill as it is now is very heavy on the idea that there are really major psychological differences between men and women, and they base it heavily in evo psych (frequently of the just-so-story variety). They’ve expanded their territory: there are now men who have no interest in picking up women in bars or whatever who have embraced the idea (MGTOW and so on), and some blogs originally dedicated towards picking up women in bars, etc, have basically become white nationalist blogs – there’s overlap with the alt-right (my hypothesis is that when somebody says “everything we were told about x is a lie!” they are pretty close to concluding everything they were told about y and z was a lie too).

            They usually get lumped in with MRAs, but I think that’s taxonomically incorrect. MRAs, at least originally, seem to be a combination of heresy among male feminists/pro-feminists and father’s rights people. At least from what I’ve seen, the average MRA says “feminism says it’s about equality, but it’s lying” whereas the average Redpill will just say “equality is a lie”. Although it does appear that Redpill is swallowing up MRAs – a lot of MRAs sound pretty Redpill these days.

            Redpill and PUAs are insidious because there really is no other dating advice for shy nerdy guys that accomplishes anything, and their advice works enough (or, seems to work enough) that it reels them in and opens them up to other stuff. Their advice consists of equal parts obvious (“be better looking and get in shape!” – did anyone think otherwise), less obvious but not actually tied to sex or gender or evolution or whatever (“don’t seem desperate, don’t be too needy” – applies equally to most people for most relationships, sexual/romantic or not), doesn’t work or doesn’t work for the reasons they say it does (eg, negging, which I believe functions as a gamble to force intimacy – taking shots at someone is a “friend behaviour” to some extent), and abusive (eg, the advice telling guys to keep their girlfriends/wives in line by planting hints he might dump her – this is emotional abuse regardless of the genders of the people involved). Ideally, there would be dating advice for nerdy shy guys that is both efficacious and doesn’t frequently boil down to “be more Dark Triad”.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Ideally, there would be dating advice for nerdy shy guys that is both efficacious and doesn’t frequently boil down to “be more Dark Triad”.

            Dating advice is the map. What actually works is the territory. If the map matches the territory, whose fault is it that the map depicts something ugly?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @The Nybbler:

            First, I think it’s far from clear that their tips work as well as they think they do. It’s not like there’s rigorous double blind stuff. “Work to be more attractive, don’t be desperate or needy, and be aware that you may have a different communication style and relationship values from your partner(s) for whatever reason(s)” accomplishes a lot, and leaves out the emotional abuse.

            Second, I think it’s corrosive to healthy long-term relationships to take a completely mercenary, instrumental view of one’s partner like that. Most people, regardless of gender, would be better off idealizing their partner a bit less, and dispel some illusions, but the degree to which Redpill dating advice demands that is pretty ugly.

            Third, “I do what works, don’t hate me, hate the system” is a classic defence of all sorts of shitty behaviour. Running a borderline-legal scheme to bilk clueless senior citizens out of their retirement savings? Hey, the territory’s nasty, don’t blame me for having a good map!

          • suntzuanime says:

            Yes, it’s better to drink yourself to death alone than to behave unethically. But I find I have a little sympathy for those who are unsatisfied with that.

          • dndnrsn says:

            There is, of course, middle ground.

          • registrationisdumb says:

            Re:redpill

            Red Pill is a reference to The Matrix. When you “take the Red Pill,” you are deciding to live in the harsh truth of reality rather than the comfortable illusion that you are sold by society.

            Generally speaking White Liberal Feminist popculture etc stuff is pretty congruent with what is considered bluepill ideology.

            In PUA type circles, it generally refers to “nice guys finish last” type of thinking, gender differences, and a general rejection of feminist style rules of engagement and platitudes such as “just be yourself”.

            In /pol/ type circles, it is about race realism, seeing the jews as evil schemers trying to make a world government, and that sort of thing.

            Your mileage may vary depending on whether you see the redpill as reality or just another delusion to replace the first.

          • onyomi says:

            But what if “the red pill” is just a portal to an alternate fake simulation world for people who can’t accept an overly idyllic fake simulation world?

          • Anon. says:

            Of course, the red pill is entry-level.

            (I feel like there’s material for a “…And I Show You How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes”-style story here)

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            The example situations you present (dance club vs reading a book) are coincidentally somewhat …curious. Consider the scenario:

            What if you are a male who does not like dance clubs but likes reading and would like to socialize with people who like reading, and then see someone reading a book you like too in public commute?

          • Aapje says:

            @nimim.k.m.

            Feminist dating advice is generally unhelpful like that, in that it takes a personal preference and makes it absolute, regardless of whether it works for people with other preferences.

            TheRedPill has a similar problem, in that they tend to advise men to change into a person that they believe that most women are attracted to, regardless of whether the man is attracted to the majority of women or whether he prefers outliers.

            I would suggest that more sensible advice is to join a book reading club, a literature class at college or use online dating.

          • “and then see someone reading a book you like too in public commute?”

            I’m married, monogamous, and old, so romantic approaches are no longer an issue for me. But it would seem entirely natural to try to start a conversation with a stranger, male or female, old or young, on that basis. And I do.

            Only the “old” part is visible to the stranger and I don’t look old enough to be obviously uninterested in romantic involvements, but I don’t think I have ever gotten an obviously hostile reaction, and I have gotten some interesting conversations.

        • The Nybbler says:

          @dndnrsn

          Their advice appears to work better than anything else those guys have tried. “work to be more attractive” is too vague.

          Second, I think it’s corrosive to healthy long-term relationships to take a completely mercenary, instrumental view of one’s partner like that.

          You have to have a relationship before you can worry about healthy long-term ones. This may go back to the bravery-debate thing; for those who are at the opposite end of the spectrum, over-the-top advice to be mercenary may be the best.

          Third, “I do what works, don’t hate me, hate the system” is a classic defence of all sorts of shitty behaviour. Running a borderline-legal scheme to bilk clueless senior citizens out of their retirement savings? Hey, the territory’s nasty, don’t blame me for having a good map!

          Yes, but in many of those cases it’s OK to say “Well, if that’s the only way to reach your goal, you should pick a different goal”. If the only way to reach the goal of getting a date is to do things considered “shitty”, then either what’s considered “shitty” is wrong, or people shouldn’t date.

          • Randy M says:

            Their advice appears to work better than anything else those guys have tried. “work to be more attractive” is too vague.

            And hopefully the guy hasn’t staked his hopes on “be yourself.”

          • dndnrsn says:

            Looking attractive generally means putting on muscle (regardless of gender – a bit of muscle looks good on anyone), losing fat if one has too much (people’s preferences vary, but a lot of guys are delusional about their gut, and “curvy” has ceased to have any meaning), dressing better (which could mean different things, but dressing badly is pretty obvious), better personal grooming, etc.

            Their advice works better because everyone else believes stuff that isn’t true. “Just be yourself” is non-advice. The advice that a lot of women try to get men to follow actually creates “Nice Guys” – guys will behave inoffensively, kindly, respectfully, and expect that will create romantic/sexual desire – then they will become upset that it didn’t work like they were told it would, they become offensive, unkind, and disrespectful. The tropes sold to boys/men and girls/women in movies and so forth are usually far away from reality, especially the former (“women are a reward and will just fall in love with you along the way” basically). The Redpill guys at least recognize that romantic/sexual attraction is amoral, and there’s a very poor exchange rate between “aw gee this person is nice” and “aw gee I want to jump this person’s bones”. When the other advice is so bad, though, there isn’t exactly a high bar to clear.

            The over-the-top advice is … well, if women really are like what the Redpill guys say they are like, I can’t imagine why they would want to be in a relationship with them. I think it’s possible to break people (and not all of them are guys, either) of the notion that women are precious fragile porcelain goddesses that must be beseechingly supplicated, or to break people of the notion that “treat people like you’d want to be treated” implies that everyone wants to be treated in the same way, or that everyone is honest when they say how they want to be treated, without shooting over the horizon into Redpill-style misogyny (and I think they are misogynists, by and large – they apply evopsych in a way that basically makes women out to be automatons, but never turn that particular cannon around on themselves very much). There’s a lot of excluded middle going on, is what I’m saying.

            I think there are multiple ways to reach the goal. Unfortunately, the only path that is being advertised that actually reaches the goal is one of the shittier ones. Let’s say the goal is flight, and you’ve got a glider, plus a bunch of people flapping their arms really hard. The best option is not to say “well, we’ve got gliders, job done”. The best option is to invent and improve the airplane.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The advice that a lot of women try to get men to follow actually creates “Nice Guys” – guys will behave inoffensively, kindly, respectfully, and expect that will create romantic/sexual desire – then they will become upset that it didn’t work like they were told it would, they become offensive, unkind, and disrespectful

            This was my path for a while. Then I stopped listening to women on how to get women and things improved dramatically, and I thankfully got out of the dark cycle I was spinning into.

            In my case, it was before the PUA / Redpill people were around. So I avoided them. But if it was now, I could easily end up swimming in their waters.

            Like others have said, it would be nice if someone besides the PUA people would try to socialize the shy nerds. I mean really try, not type a few sentences in a blog comment and then throw up their hands at how much we suck.

          • shakeddown says:

            Ozy’s anti-heartiste FAQ has some reasonably decent links to these (it’s in the SSC archives). And Ozy does start off by declaring ze understands that women often give terrible dating advice.

          • Reasoner says:

            I mean really try, not type a few sentences in a blog comment and then throw up their hands at how much we suck.

            The closest things I know of to that are http://thematinggrounds.com and https://markmanson.net/books/models The RP folks have visibility because controversy = virality. If you dig a little you can find lots of advice outside their sphere.

          • razorsedge says:

            I dont understand SSCs issue with getting dates in general. The average SSCer is a good 2-3 standard deviations above the mean in intelligence, which correlates to a very small degree with attractiveness. But even assuming that the average SSCer was average looking genetically, SSC has people who have the ability to play social games at a better level than the average person. Ability to earn money to pay for things like fashionable clothes, proper nutrition and exercise habits. Ability to properly discern the pro/cons of using things like steroids, and ability to use the much more safely than the average person ( i bet getting laid will be easier when you have the body of adonis), and better ability to pay for things like plastic surgery. A few good procedures can make a world of difference. Past that higher verbal abilities should make charm easier to learn and use. How come SSCers seem to have a worse than average dating life?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @razorsedge

            SSC readers are in a higher social class than average, I would assume. But that doesn’t help, because being in a higher class also changes the dating pool. So while having more money helps, you’re now competing with people who ALSO have more money and are good at this stuff (e.g. successful salespeople). You’ve got to be better relative to your competition, not just overall.

            To make things worse, you can’t date down, because you don’t know the moves at the lower level. You’ll be seen as obviously “slumming”.

          • “How come SSCers seem to have a worse than average dating life?”

            Why do you assume worse than average?

            The fundamental problem, as I pointed out in a price theory text a very long time ago, is that dating and marriage are barter markets–if I’m married to you, you are married to me. So I have to find someone who both has what I want and wants what I have.

            Contrast that to an ordinary market. If I want dinner at a restaurant I find one person who will pay me to teach him economics, another who will cook me dinner in exchange for pay. I don’t have to find a cook who wants to learn economics.

            Arranging the double coincidence of wants is hard. It’s even harder if you are selling something that only a few people want to buy and buying something that only a few people want to sell, which might make things harder for SSC people than for some other groups.

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            @razorsedge

            You’re making quite sweeping generalizations of the SSC readership.

            edit. Addendum. And also synergies that in my experience simply aren’t there. My math, CS and philosophy departments are full of people who most likely have above-average intelligence, but the amount of “not dressing very well” and “not being fit” around is stellar.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            The Redpill guys at least recognize that romantic/sexual attraction is amoral, and there’s a very poor exchange rate between “aw gee this person is nice” and “aw gee I want to jump this person’s bones”. When the other advice is so bad, though, there isn’t exactly a high bar to clear.

            They have a huge advantage in that they give men an opposite strategy to the one that most are using.

            When people are stuck in a downward spiral, pretty much anything that takes them out of that will improve their performance, regardless of whether the new strategy is particularly good. It just has to be non-horrible.

          • Aapje says:

            @The Nybbler

            SSC readers are in a higher social class than average, I would assume.

            Another factor that is probably related to this is that the advantages of wealth sharing are bigger for poorer people. Costs of living are higher for two single people than a couple and poor people might be willing to lower their dating standards a lot simply to get the benefit of a shared household.

          • Matt M says:

            “To make things worse, you can’t date down, because you don’t know the moves at the lower level. You’ll be seen as obviously “slumming”.”

            From my own anecdotal experience, obvious slumming is still more likely to work than trying to compete at your own socio-economic level while being dramatically outclassed by the competition in people skills.

            If someone really is struggling getting ANY dates/sex and is willing to lower their standards, I would *absolutely* recommend going on POF and messaging fat chicks. I know that’s not a very PC thing to say, but it’s pretty much the only thing that has ever worked for me.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            “work to be more attractive” is too vague.

            Hit the gym.
            Dress better.

            SSC has people who have the ability to play social games at a better level than the average person

            This is where your assumptions mislead you. I am a smart guy, but I cannot play social games and am a relatively meek guy that is turned off by inter-personal conflict. So, even if I COULD play social games (and I can’t because that’s learned by experience, and I spent my time playing Civ III instead of learning those games), I couldn’t maintain the emotional clarity necessary to win tough stand-offs and withstand highly uncomfortable situations.

        • JulieK says:

          The old rule was stricter, but much simpler.

          (Miss Manners responds to a young woman complaining about strange men bothering her when she is trying to study:)
          “This is why Miss Manners opposed, from the beginning, the relaxation of society’s rules about accosting strangers, and the increasing acceptance of the pickup for people of moderate respectability. She has heard nothing to convince her that the advantages to lonely people outweigh the dangers of such molestation as you describe, and a lot worse.
          “You will be happy to learn that Miss Manners has never endorsed the idea that it is proper for a gentleman to make overtures to a lady to whom he has not been introduced.” (etc.)
          (Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children, 1984)

        • Alexp says:

          I think your overrating Social Justice Warriors. Outside of college and the internet, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a social justice style callout. I was just at a few young pofessional/hipster/yuppie Halloween parties where there were white people dressed as Native Americans, and contrary to what Jezebel would advocate, nobody gave a shit.

          • Randy M says:

            There’s meet-up type groups (online discussion boards for in-person get togethers) I am aware of locally being affected by SJW rhetoric. “You can’t do that activity/hobby, it’s appropriation of marginalized groups!” type nonsense.
            I wouldn’t say it is threatening, but irritating to someone I know irl.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            My small office building has a progressive get-out-the-vote group that’s temporarily moved in. So far I noticed about 0% of anything, no callouts or privilege checks. (And I say this as someone sensitive and likely to complain about SJW types.) They are loud like children are loud, but that’s more likely because they are children in their 20s.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Alexp – “Outside of college and the internet, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a social justice style callout.”

            …without going into details, my art team has been told that our work is problematic in a similar way to the complaints against Pixar’s Lava short. I have now had to watch Feminist Frequency videos as part of my job.

          • shakeddown says:

            I had that: we had team presentations at my summer program, and after the presentations we got a two-hour lecture about bias from one of the people running it (because only one or two of the six presenters were female). I first argued with her about IAT tests (I told her they’d been discredited; she said she “hadn’t heard that”), then I got angry and left the room. Which led to several feminist friends shutting me out for a few days after that.
            I’ve also had our DGS force us to go to a bias workshop as part of TA training, but that was in academia. (Also, I think it got cancelled at the last second).

            Also, this is the first time I’ve heard about anyone objecting to the lava short. I thought it was great (except for repeating that terrible lava pun over and over. And having a happy ending; I was rooting for it to end up depressing).
            Edit: Oh my god that complaint review is terrible.

          • BBA says:

            Heh. I was rolling my eyes for the whole “Lava” short, and although I was also thinking about it being somewhat problematic from an SJ perspective (because exposure to SJ has ruined my ability to enjoy things), mostly I just thought it was dumb. On the other hand it’s, you know, for kids.

      • Nita says:

        Yeah, the “faking desire” part was kind of bewildering to read.

        hypothetical guy: Ha-ha! I didn’t actually want to have sex with you, I just pretended that I did in order to have sex with you. Wait till I tell all my friends what a sucker you are!

        I mean, I do realize that some men probably see sex / the ability to “get” it only as an arbitrary challenge that determines their status among peers, but come on…

        • dndnrsn says:

          I think it’s a lot more than “some”. A lot of guys basically have the bar as “pleasure + ego boost of bedding someone new”, which can be a very low bar.

    • Rebecca Friedman says:

      Speaking as a woman, I would be disturbed and scared to have a random stranger walk up out of nowhere and ask me to go out with him. This would not have been as much the case before I got mugged, but there we are – and even before then, I would most likely have been quite awkward and said no. (I wouldn’t call him names, that’s just inappropriate, but…) Guys being attracted to me is flattering, but… it fulfills very few of the requirements for a good match (mostly intellectual compatibility stuff), it doesn’t cause me to get a crush on them (that takes a while to develop, doesn’t happen with the vast majority of guys, and is also mostly linked to the intellectual compatibility stuff – what? Intellectual compatibility is cute!), which means the chance I would actually end up interested in them over time is low, the chance they’d be interested in me over time is low (personality compatibility with random people is unlikely to be high), the chance they want casual sex is higher than average (since they are presumably going on appearance) and I don’t, and the chance that they are Not Safe People is extant. It doesn’t have to be much more than extant for saying yes to be all-around a bad idea.

      … so yeah. Part of this is that I am weird, and have unusual priorities, and it might be less true with other people? But it is definitely true of me.

      (Note: if the conversation started with “Oh, you’re reading X? What do you think of it?” and went on from there, and eventually ended up at “want to get dinner some time”, I would have a very different opinion. The above calculations are assuming that by all I can tell, the stranger is basing it on appearance, not any sort of common interests/enjoying each others’ company.)

      And that said, the reciprocity site sounds like a good idea to me… though your point is well-taken. Still, I’ve had crushes I’d have loved to have had that kind of system for.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      Some of us guys actually believe the “radical feminist types” when they say a cold approach is likely to be very upsetting for its recipient (which is not incompatible with a decent chance of a positive response).

      • The Nybbler says:

        Should “is likely to be upsetting for its recipient” translate to “taboo”, though? Human courting behavior is at the least uncomfortable, it can’t be made otherwise.

        • Rebecca Friedman says:

          Degrees of discomfort can vary heavily. If a cold approach is likely to be much more upsetting than an invitation made to someone you are already acquainted with, that suggests being less willing to make the former than the latter, all else being equal.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If a cold approach is likely to be much more upsetting than an invitation made to someone you are already acquainted with, that suggests being less willing to make the former than the latter, all else being equal.

            I’ve seen more tears shed over the latter, actually, though that’s clearly anecdote. The idea seeming to be that the woman in question thought the guy was interested/friendly with her for other reasons, but was actually just looking to get into her pants. This is a rather poor model of men (we can, in fact, be interested in women for both sexual and non-sexual reasons… and either one can come first), but it seems to be common.

            For the men, the advantage of the cold approach is the low stakes. It’s higher risk, but the cost of rejection is at worst a stranger is upset with you. I think this holds for women as well — that is, the cost of a cold approach by someone they aren’t interested in is lower than the cost of an approach by a friend they aren’t interested in that way — but women don’t get to make the choice in the conventional model.

          • Aapje says:

            @Rebecca

            There are also disincentives to a ‘warm approach,’ like the risk of ending a friendship.

          • Adam says:

            Not only that, but the rejection cost is much higher when it’s a person you’re going to see everyday in the foreseeable future than a person whose name you don’t even know.

    • Adam says:

      This reads like turtles learning about cars for the first time or something. Of course women want to be desired and almost all men know this and almost all men do fake desire in order to get laid. And radical feminists are a tiny subproportion of the female population that almost nobody is afraid of. And if your friend has never been asked out in public, it’s probably because she isn’t very attractive, not because men are afraid of being rejected by her. Rejection is scary the first two or three times, but routine for most people by the time they’re 13. How do you think salespeople exist?

      • Skivverus says:

        How do you think salespeople exist?

        Why is it that ~80% of people aren’t salespeople? (Citation: org chart of whatever company you work at)

        Your “almosts” are waaay off, at least so far as I’ve seen.

        • Adam says:

          Possibly. I’m kind of old and have inhabited many different bubbles, and social media ones are the only ones I have ever found that contain the types of people who do not know this.

          On the other hand, that’s expected. Of course meatspace is inhabited by people not terrified of interacting with other people and social media havens are inhabited by people of crippling anxiety and paranoia that the rest of the world secretly hates them. Maybe the latter is in fact a silent majority I simply did not know about until web 3.0 happened and revealed them.

          But in any case, I am not at all wrong that asking people out and faking desire to get laid are not remotely uncommon and absolutely “work,” assuming the value of “work” you’re looking for is just to get laid. I suspect even the people here who are terrified of women actually know this, but simply think they aren’t the type of person this would work for. For what it’s worth, I’m not the type of person who does this. I’m not going on any kind of personal anecdote kick here. I’ve only had about 15 or so sex partners in my life and almost all of them approached me first, including all three of my wives. I am personally extremely scared of rejection. But it is not at all my experience, across many, many communities I have briefly been a part of, that this is a tremendously widespread affliction when you step outside these tiny backwaters of the Internet.

          • US says:

            “I’m not going on any kind of personal anecdote kick here. I’ve only had about 15 or so sex partners in my life and almost all of them approached me first, including all three of my wives.”

            ‘only’ 15 sex partners, *most of which approached you*???

            I don’t think your life experience is common among the sort of people who are interested in these matters on sites like these, and judging from these comments you’re at the very least a much more desirable individual than are many of the people discussing such topics in threads like these. Your comments indicate that you may be aware of this, but it probably deserves to be emphasized. I’m in my early thirties and I have been approached, in a *very* loose sense of that word, exactly twice by women who may or may not have been romantically interested in me. One of those times was in middle school, and I only realized that girl might have been interested in me a decade after the fact, when I was reading up on the theoretical literature on sexual selection and reinterpreted behaviour which I had had a hard time understanding at the time. Regardless of whether your experience is common among ‘people in general’, I would assume that you are probably off the charts compared to some of the people interested in these matters in threads/communities like these.

          • Adam says:

            Of course I realize I’m different and more desirable than most of the people who have these issues. My point isn’t that I’m typical. It’s that they’re not typical. Most people are in the vast mass of +/- 1 SD of average attractiveness, not at the bottom. And they ask each other out and have sex pretty regularly, which is basically why there are now 7 billion of us. Most people have a lot of sex. That these discussions vastly overrepresent the experience of downtrodden social outcasts that no one likes is exactly what I was trying to say.

          • US says:

            Right, I was about to edit my comment to indicate that this was probably where you were going and that my comment was probably sort of unneccessary on that account (I also thought about deleting my comment for this reason), but you added your comment before I got the chance to do so.

  38. embrodski says:

    > Adding seaweed to cattle feed could reduce methane production by 70%?

    But does it work for humans too?

  39. Thursday says:

    Washington Post: Germany Reunified 26 Years Ago But Some Divisions Are Still Strong. This is maybe the strongest evidence against HBD I know, since it shows how purely political and historical differences created persistently different cultures.

    This doesn’t really defeat HBD though. Yes, you can damage a society by imposing a communist regime on top of it, but it takes something pretty extreme and obvious, like having a communist regime on top of you, to do it. It also doesn’t show what a lot of anti-HBDers want, that extensive social engineering has positive effects on people. In fact, it tends to show that extreme left wing social interventions tend to have terrible effects.

    • hyperboloid says:

      It also doesn’t show what a lot of anti-HBDers want, that extensive social engineering has positive effects on people

      What it shows is that a democratic soziale marktwirtschaft is superior to Marxism-Lenninism. But given that even modern “democratic socialists” seem to be in favor of the former rather than the latter, I think we already knew that. Post war West Germany had it’s share of social engineers, who were in the great scheme of things pretty progressive; especially if compared to the kind of people who believe in “Human Biodiversity”.

      You’re failing the ideological Turing test if you think that everybody who doesn’t agree with Steve Sailer believes in full Communism.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I imagine if Communism can have lasting really bad effects, then slavery can also have lasting really bad effects.

      • suntzuanime says:

        Well, it’s sort of evidence against HBD-as-thin-cover-for-ordinary-American-racism, but I thought you had a more nuanced view than that?

      • Steve Sailer says:

        That seems plausible.

        My guess is that Max Weber-style puritanism has a long-lasting effect (mostly in positive directions). Neal Stephenson wrote a four volume historical novel to show how the northern United States college town culture he grew up in had its roots in 17th Century Britain.

        A big problem with Latin America to this day might be that it never had many puritans.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          Latin America is what you get when your nation’s cavaliers are in charge of it far more than they have been in the US.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I don’t know if that’s quite right, Argentina’s divergence in GDP per capita compared to other western countries, for example, coincides with the rise of populist parties.

          • hyperboloid says:

            Argentina’s divergence can be traced directly to the “Década Infame” that began with the September 1930 Coup d’état led by José Félix Uriburu.

            It was in fact the Argentine far right (the military and the Liga Patriótica) that suppressed parties of the liberal left like UCR, and shifted Argentina away from a relatively open economy and towards Import substitution industrialization through state direction of industry and heavy tariffs.

        • Thursday says:

          While Weber was on to something, Northern European “Puritan” culture predates Protestantism.

      • Thursday says:

        I’d agree that if communism can have long term bad effects, slavery could have bad long term effects. So, the theory that slavery is behind all the social problems among Black Americans wasn’t preposterous.

        But blacks in America aren’t the only blacks on the planet, and, well, Sub-Saharan Africa sucks, pretty uniformly, regardless of the degree of European involvement. In fact, IIRC, degree of European involvement tends to correlate with better development, barring obvious counter-examples, like the Congo, which were communism/slavery bad.

        And there are many other lines of evidence for HBD: adoptions studies, the extreme earliness of when differences show up etc. etc. etc.

        Plus, in terms of GDP the formerly communist European and NE Asian countries (as well as nominally communist countries like China) are still above that of just about every single black dominated country in the world, barring a tiny number of extremely small outliers. Formerly communist European and NE Asian countries may be at the bottom of their particular group, but they are still recognizably better off than many other groupings.

        So, yes, there can be notable effects from big, obvious things like communism and slavery, but that still doesn’t defeat HBD.

        • INH5 says:

          But blacks in America aren’t the only blacks on the planet, and, well, Sub-Saharan Africa sucks, pretty uniformly, regardless of the degree of European involvement. In fact, IIRC, degree of European involvement tends to correlate with better development, barring obvious counter-examples, like the Congo, which were communism/slavery bad.

          That’s not a very good comparison, though. America and Africa are very different environments, including a number of things that have nothing to do either with race or historical circumstances, parasite load being the most obvious.

          A better comparison would be blacks in America who are descendants of slaves and blacks in America who recently immigrated from Sub-Saharan Africa, or are the children of recent immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa. And by all measures recent African immigrants do much better than native blacks. Of course, that’s potentially confounded by immigration selection effects, but Ethiopian and Somali refugees also do better than native blacks.

          Another good comparison would be with a group of white people with a history of slavery. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any in-depth studies of the the “red legs” of Barbados.

          Finally, it’s worth noting that a not-insignificant number of African countries have a history of Communism.

          • keranih says:

            America and Africa are very different environments, including a number of things that have nothing to do either with race or historical circumstances, parasite load being the most obvious.

            I am gonna push way hard back on this statement, and point out that parasite load has huge connections to both race and historical circumstances, which could have signficant implications for variations between the various races.

            Africa has been inhabited by large numbers of humans for longer than any other place, so that the microbes (and macro-organisms as well) co-evolved with humans. The populations of humans that increased in population outside of Africa were in a much more permissive environment, in terms of pathogens. (Some of the climate was much more challenging, but rarely was the wildlife or the microbes anywhere near as constantly deadly as in Africa.)

            As a result, the humans in Africa were being selected for survival based on fitness against pathogens at a much higher rate than outside of Africa. This had two effects – first, that native Africans survived illnesses that killed tons of Asians and Europeans, so that those peoples (and their cultures) struggled to have an impact in Africa, and secondly, when you select for one thing, evolutionary, you sacrifice the ability to select *as well* for other things.

            If you take two populations and in one population you select only for higher intelligence, and the second group you select for higher intelligence and better worm resistance, group two is going to be stupider than group one, and group one is going to be more likely to die of worms.

            Now, there are all sorts of confounders here, and we really need to run multiple many-generational randomized trials(*) with the species in question. But good luck getting your ethics committee to sign off on that.

            The Americas were a really permissive environment, wrt disease threats, but even within the relatively homogeneous Latin American nations we have a spectrum of “doing well, pretty wealthy and stable” down to, well, banana republics.

            In Africa, they’re all sucking wind.

            I don’t know the whole story, but I am very doubtful that the answer absolutely doesn’t include racial genetics.

            (*) Yes, with multiple ethnic groups, either from Barbados or else where.

          • INH5 says:

            If you take two populations and in one population you select only for higher intelligence, and the second group you select for higher intelligence and better worm resistance, group two is going to be stupider than group one, and group one is going to be more likely to die of worms.

            If that was true, then we would expect the smartest ethnic groups to be those that have lived for many generations in parts of the world with virtually no parasites, IE the arctic. And while you could maybe make a case for the Scandinavians fitting that prediction, it doesn’t seem to be true at all for the Eskimos and Alaskan Natives.

          • Matt M says:

            Nah, there could be other confounding variables. A population of Eskimos would not be selected solely based on intelligence – for them it might be “intelligence and the ability to adapt to extreme cold”

          • Adam says:

            Is there? Trying to find anything about Inuit intelligence on Google doesn’t seem easy, ranging from vdare saying 85 to some random forum saying 105 and nothing else, and these are all pre-1980 studies. Anyone even trying to study them today would need to somehow deal with the fact that their diets are absurdly high in mercury. The only page at all with anything to say about the Chukchi (who live in the same climate as the Inuit but eat reindeer, not seafood) was a joke and not even a study.

          • keranih says:

            we would expect the smartest ethnic groups to be those that have lived for many generations in parts of the world with virtually no parasites, IE the arctic.

            Not necessarily – because as I noted above, climate is one of the things that makes up “non-intelligence selection factors”. The more unique a population is, I think, the more specific factors are shaping it, and the less that culture can tell us about each factor.

          • INH5 says:

            Is there? Trying to find anything about Inuit intelligence on Google doesn’t seem easy, ranging from vdare saying 85 to some random forum saying 105 and nothing else, and these are all pre-1980 studies. Anyone even trying to study them today would need to somehow deal with the fact that their diets are absurdly high in mercury. The only page at all with anything to say about the Chukchi (who live in the same climate as the Inuit but eat reindeer, not seafood) was a joke and not even a study.

            This blog post gives an IQ of 91 for Eskimos and 87 for Alaskan Natives. I’m afraid I don’t know the quality of his sources.

            That aside, if you’re going to blame their low IQs on a high mercury diet, then that raises the question of what other groups might have a diminished IQ due to mercury exposure. For example, Sub-Saharan Africa has lots of artisanal gold mines, which extensively use mercury, frequently with little if any attempt to avoid contaminating the local environment.

  40. Skotos Holt says:

    Every few years, someone else implements something just like reciprocity.io.

    I think the last time I noticed and cared, it was called “Down”, as in “Down to F…”.

  41. FooQuuxman says:

    I hear that you guys like stenography. So… here is some stenography: https://www.reddit.com/r/dishonored/comments/59ibit/im_done_with_rdishonored_its_all_gone_downhill/

  42. Dahlen says:

    Ran into Haidt’s list of free-speech-friendly colleges recently. If the problem really is as serious as you folks make it out to be, I think there’s some marketing potential here for colleges located over here, in less-than-Western places.

    The pros: college is free or cheap, everybody’s apolitical, you’d probably love the dating scene (unless you’re LGBT), and college kids are mostly busy having the time of their life.

    The cons: educational standards are abysmal, there’s a chance nobody recognizes or collaborates with your institution, academia is almost or exactly a minimum-wage affair, dorms are overcrowded and cockroach-infested, your fellow students are probably going to be idiots, and grants? what grants?

    “Site Unseen” is quite literally my experience with reciprocity.io. BTW, useful trick for previewing websites you can’t access: I sometimes use WebCapture to download a (low-res) screenshot of the website that displays as blank to me, as seen from their servers.

    There seem to be more and more voices critiquing democracy and arguing in favour of epistocracy, and that is without neoreactos having gotten more public attention; I have to wonder whether this election cycle has something to do with it…

    • tmk says:

      You should be more specific. Less-than-Western places vary a lot between them. Also, by “western” do you mean rich, or Americas + western Europe?

  43. onyomi says:

    Interesting theory on why the east sides of cities are poorer than the west sides of cities (St. Louis also comes to mind). Works out with Berlin too, of course, though not just for this reason.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I suspect some cherry-picking. Let’s look at Philadelphia… nope, east side quite wealthy. But wait, you say, consider Camden… it’s separated only by arbitrary political boundaries and it’s poor. Well, OK, let’s look at New York. Sure enough, east side is poorer. But wait, look across the Hudson and you find some very poor parts of Jersey City and Newark, again separated by arbitrary political boundaries.

      I wouldn’t be surprised by a pollution effect, though. But I doubt it’s direct. Rather, more polluted areas were less desirable and thus poorer; social inertia would explain why this pattern has remained as the pollution went down.

      • onyomi says: