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OT67: Comment Core

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

1. Lots of people scored the predictions they posted for 2016; the ones I can find are JonGunnarsson, Anatoly Karlin, Anders Sandberg, and E. Harding – sorry if I missed anybody. And the Eukaryote Writes Blog offers Tips For Throwing A New Years’ Prediction Party.

2. Ozy from Thing of Things now has a Patreon. And Quillette, a magazine on sociobiology, academic freedom, and politically incorrect science (which I’ve linked to here a few times) has a Patreon too. See Jerry Coyne endorsing their fundraising drive here. Remember, if you don’t like someone who’s asking for money, don’t donate; there’s no need to be a jerk about it in the comments.

3. Speaking of Patreon, I’m going to try posting some shorter things here sometimes. If a post is unusually short, I won’t charge patrons until I’ve accumulated enough unusually short posts that they add up to one normal-length post (probably two or three).

4. Thanks to everyone who came out to UCI to attend the Irvine meetup last week. Hopefully you all had as good a time as I did.

5. Since I just got done posting an Unsong chapter and I’m still in the relevant frame of mind, comment of the week is Jaskologist’s theory of magic.

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876 Responses to OT67: Comment Core

  1. FishFinger says:

    A1: “I like X”
    A2: “I don’t like X”
    B: “You people are hypocrites!”

    Is there a name for this kind of fallacy? It’s basically when internal disagreements or even disagreements between unaffiliated people are framed as collective inconsistency or hypocrisy. I see it happen all the time, e.g. when feminists deride men for shaming women for both being sluts and prudes (as if it’s the same men doing the shaming), when right-wingers criticize leftists for preaching tolerance and using violence against Trump supporters (as if it’s the same leftists) etc.
    I suppose it’s related to outgroup homogeneity, but that one’s understood more like a bias and less like an intellectual dirty trick.

    • Jugemu says:

      >I suppose it’s related to outgroup homogeneity, but that one’s understood more like a bias and less like an intellectual dirty trick.

      Well, I’ve usually heard this referred to as “outgroup homogeneity bias“, rather than something being done intentionally.

      • FishFinger says:

        I’m sure it’s usually not done intentionally, my point is that the name “outgroup homogeneity bias” 1) brings up grand sociological theories and 2) emphasizes the speaker’s alleged psychological motivations; both of which are things that don’t need to be involved.

        All I want to be able to say is “your argument a piece of faulty logic, not unlike equivocation or no-true-Scotsman”. That’s what informal fallacy classifications are for, they work well when they’re not misused.

        • alwhite says:

          Here is a quote from Michael Lewis who is paraphrasing the work by Danny Kahneman.

          “If you want to reduce the power of a stereotype, you eliminate the classifications. The more you reinforce the classifications the more powerful the stereotype will be.”

          I think what you’re asking for is a type of classification and in using that classification you’re more likely reinforcing the problem than solving it. If you really want to be effective, stick to the gritty details. Just tell people that the logical jump they’re making isn’t true and that they’re ascribing behaviors to people who didn’t do those behaviors.

          • Aapje says:

            The problem with that is that you cannot simply force people to adopt the framing that you prefer they would use; nor can you force them to not use their brains for what it is built to do: to generalize.

            If a group actually has a trait, people tend to notice it. You can shame them and/or bully them a bit; or try to hide the evidence from them by not separating out some groups; but this tends to cause blow back.

            I would suggest not removing the classification, but enriching it with more nuance. I think that works better and is more respectful of people’s intelligence.

      • John Nerst says:

        Right, I wouldn’t say it’s an intentional trick either. It’s more of a fundamental function of the brain, much like stereotyping: when we encounter a cluster in opinion-space we essentialize it and turn it into a category, of which everyone is either a member or not. It’s computationally efficient to do it this way I don’t think it will ever stop. We can be aware of it, at best.

        This effect is probably responsible for a large part of why online argumentation is so broken (it opens up for weakmanning and motte-and-baileying among other problems).

        Insisting that this is always wrong is too strong though, we must be able to use contextual information to make reasonable assumptions about what people think about things or it becomes kind of pointless to argue. I mean, most people want to argue against a particular idea, opinion or ideology, not against a particular person. The person is useful mostly as an representative of the ideology. I.e. you want to argue against “libertarianism”, “creationism” or “feminism”, not some random person’s unorthodox bag of views.

        But there is a difference between two kinds of situation with respect to how wrong it is to essentialize. It’s more reasonable when there is a strong “core” of opinions and then some variation in different directions – one main signal plus noise. It’s less reasonable when you’re grouping together significantly separated clusters that are better modeled as different signals (like calling libertarians and fascists “right wing”, or communists and liberals “left wing”).

        Then of course there’s a sliding scale between “unorganized set of people sharing an opinion-cluster” on one end and “organized movement with a collective decision-making structure” on the other.

        On the second end the whole is responsible for the part, but not on the first end. Some “quasi-movements” in the middle region can be seen as one or the other depending on what your rhetorical interests are.

        It’s a mess.

        • AnonEEmous says:

          I think there’s a very real counter-issue, wherein people actually are often hypocritical but it’s difficult for you to know if that person is specifically being hypocritical because they’re not going to announce it. So they say “if you’re part of group X then you’re probably being a hypocrite, or at least you should call out other members of group X which you probably don’t because most tribe members don’t call out other tribe members”

          the main failure state is if you’re not part of X group

    • Yes, it would be good to have a term for this unfortunately common argument.

      • Ninmesara says:

        Some (pretty stupid) names I can think about:

        – Hivemind fallacy: assuming you’re arguing against a hivemind instead of an individual who is part of a heterogeneous group.

        – Fusion/merging fallacy: merging sentences by different people as if they were a single person.

        – Butterman (as in Strawman, Steelman, Weakman): Your oponnents merge into a single one like warm butter. Can be used in: “Hey, you’re buttermanning our group!”. I actually like this name…

        • Alejandro says:

          Monolith fallacy? “X is not a monolith” is already commonly used shorthand for “Not all members of X share such-and-such characteristic”.

        • Chalid says:

          I like “hivemind fallacy” – unlike the others, it’s totally self-explanatory.

          • Ninmesara says:

            Given the success of the ‘mote amd bailey’ fallacy, I’m not sure having a self explanatory name is a feature 🙂

        • Aapje says:

          Butterman

          I feel that this word is too close to a word with very different connotations (remove ‘er’), so it will trigger people emotionally for the wrong reasons.

          • Ninmesara says:

            Hm… ok, fair enough. I was thinking of a material that would melt in the heat and thought of warm butter. Ice man doesn’t pack the same punch because I usually imagine Ice in the cold, where it won’t melt… Icecream man, maybe?

    • Wrong Species says:

      On the one hand, you have this, lets call it the hypocrisy fallacy. On the other hand, groups A1 and A2 can overlap in which case they use the hypocrisy fallacy as a defense against Motte-and-Bailey. “Well I certainly never said that,(even though someone who I listen to has) so therefore you’re criticism is useless”. Sometimes the criticism is spot on. But sometimes it’s not. So I guess the question is how is a debate between one giant group versus another group of people supposed to go?

      • Well... says:

        Hm. I wonder if no name for the fallacy exists because it’s a useful fallacy for people to make. It encourages you to find out who else is arguing on your side and whether you are truly aligned, and if not, to distinguish yourselves from each other or else resolve differences.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Sounds similar to “Our demonstration was peaceful. It’s not our fault that a bunch of guys in ski masks happened to be breaking windows and throwing rocks at the police while standing intermixed with us.” If you’re going to insist that you do not believe A, at what point are you obligated to disassociate yourself from people who do believe A?

        Obviously it would be silly to demand agreement on every trivial bit of doctrine, or even on major issues — in a sane world, you could hold a demonstration where Black Lives Matter and right-wing libertarians held hands to demand less police violence.

        Ah, I know: perhaps this fallacy ceases to become a fallacy when it’s about tactics, not views. Two elements of the large group hold contradictory opinions? No big deal. One element is waving signs and demanding peaceful change while the other is setting fires and breaking heads? Now we have a real problem, not a fallacy at all.

        • Evan Þ says:

          But then, on the other hand, it can still be a fallacy when one sub-group is sufficiently small. Suppose that while MLK was leading one of his peaceful marches, two guys at the back started breaking windows. Would that mean there’s a real problem, or that you can no longer describe his movement as nonviolent? What if they don’t have time to dissociate themselves – or respond at all – before Bull Connor barges in to arrest everyone and trumpet this far and wide?

          (To make things even more interesting, suppose that the two guys might be agents provocateur?)

          At some point, yes, you can say, “This eminent theorist of your group teaches X, so you can’t say you all hold to Not-X.” But at another point, “This random person who claims to be part of your group says X,” isn’t relevant at all. But in-between those points – where do you draw the line?

          • Mengsk says:

            This is, I’ve noted, an issue with the idea of a “leaderless movement” (which is what a lot of the modern, internet based movements tend to market themselves as). It’s not clear how an outside observer of such a movement distinguishes between the movement’s true representatives from it’s splinter factions without some sort of official standard against which behavior can be compared with.

          • Wrong Species says:

            I think it’s worse than that. If there is a line, then it’s theoretically possible that we could all take the outside view, and come to a Schelling point we agree not to cross. Extremely difficult, but doable. However, I think in this case, it’s not that there is a line, it’s that everyone has a different line for every single case. Using an overdone metaphor, I think determining when this argument is and isn’t a fallacy is in a state of quantum fluctuation, being both valid and invalid at the same time. It’s only once you observe it through your ideology can you determine that. Lets call it Schrodingers Hivemind.

            The example of MLKJ is a good one. Like every red blooded American born after his death, I believe that he was a good person and that the Civil Rights Movements was a proud moment in American history. But I know, at least on an abstract level, that there were groups like The Black Panthers and that these marches weren’t completely orderly. But when I look at Black Lives Matters, all I see are a few peaceful protests before descending in to uncontrollable riots. Is there a difference? Am I just ignorant? I’m not sure and I don’t think I ever could be. In the end, I’m not sure what we can do. But I did get to make an overused Quantum Mechanics metaphor so at least I got that going for me.

    • Mary says:

      I have actually heard women advance “You can’t define what feminism is” on those grounds, in the middle of a thread complaining that women didn’t call themselves feminist, under the apparent impression that signing a blank check is a reasonable act on any woman’s part.

      So — how can this fallacy be differentiated from a reasonable demand that a movement be able to tell what it is?

      • Aapje says:

        Or another thing that some people do is:

        1. When talking about the virtues of their movement, every good person who can more or less be called a group member is proudly held up as an example.

        2. When talking about the vices of their movement, nobody who did anything bad counts as a group member. Those are ‘others.’

        It’s a sort of motte-and-bailey where the group is made as large as possible when that suits a person at that moment and as small as possible (even just 1 person) when that is the stronger position.

    • hyperboloid says:

      when feminists deride men for shaming women for both being sluts and prudes (as if it’s the same men doing the shaming),

      In fairness, I’ve definitely heard the same men deride women as both prudes and sluts, depending on whether they got to participate said acts of slutieness. There are very obvious self interested reasons for men to bully women for having sex with anybody but them.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Even if they participate, they might be nasty about it. I’ve heard one or two men of my acquaintance talk in quite contemptuous terms about women they had casual sex with. Including one case where the guy basically gave the impression that he did not like the girl one bit and had sex with her to “get one over on her” or something.

    • Jiro says:

      I think that it’s also related to the situation where a group pretends they have a united front. If some feminists say “every feminist believes X” and other feminists say “every feminist believes Y”, and most feminists make one or the other meta-statement, then it’s fair to describe that as feminism being collectively inconsistent. This is especially so if feminists who say that every feminist believes X also refuse to say that feminists who believe Y are mistaken.

      • Mary says:

        and if there is no X or Y that every feminist believe, what, pray tell, is feminism?

        • Iain says:

          And if there is no X or Y that every conservative believes, what is conservatism?

          • AnonEEmous says:

            too bad most of the core tenets of conservatism are agreed on by most conservatives

            and in all seriousness, most feminists do agree on one key point – feminism’s goal is to advance women’s rights, power, cultural strength, basically to get women more stuff. That’s why the radicals and moderates never clash in any significant way, which subsequently leads observers to note that actually there’s not much difference…

          • Mary says:

            I’ve never had a conservative tell me that “You can’t define what conservatism is.” (Least of all while complaining that people don’t call themselves conservative.) So in my experience the situations are not parallel.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          I’m very fond of prototype theory– the idea that people don’t generally think in terms of categories with hard edges and unstructured contents. Instead, people think in terms of a best examples and things which which more or less resemble the example.

        • holomanga says:

          Feminism is, of course, the belief that women’s rights are the rightful caliph.

    • cassander says:

      I think the more important question is how do you distinguish said fallacy from arguments that are actually internally inconsistent.

    • mtraven says:

      It’s not a fallacy, it’s a tactic (perhaps an unfair one, a “dirty trick”). Politics is not about the discovery of truths, it’s about winning. It’s is a contest of strength between networks of people and ideas and institutions. Trying to blacken your opponent’s appeal by linking them to unsavory allies is one way to do this.

      As a leftist, more or less, I see this tactic used by my opponents all the time. With libertarians, it’s almost reflexive to argue against something innocuous like OSHA regulations by equating it with the liquidation of the Kulaks. This is annoying and stupid but it isn’t exactly a fallacy. It does raise, in a not very useful way, the question of who are my allies and what responsibility I have for their actions.

      In the other direction, I have no problem at all pointing out the links between Trump supporters and fascism, racism, and other toxic ideas that he is close to. Not all Trump supporters are fascists, but guess what — they have to either own the actions of their allies, or disassociate themselves. That’s just how things work.

      • Evan Þ says:

        @mtraven, since you’ve endorsed this argument as non-fallacious, what counts as dissociating from your ostensible allies? Was FDR sufficiently dissociated from Stalin? Or was Churchill?

        • mtraven says:

          I don’t understand the question. Sufficient for what? It’s also a weird example since FDR and Churchill were not really ideological allies with Stalin despite their military alliance. The anti-fascism that bound them together was always going to evaporate once the war against the Axis was over.

          And it is a mistake to say I “endorsed it as non-fallacious”, it is neither fallacious or non-fallacious, because political arguments are not about establishing truth, they are a contest for power between networks of people and ideas. Logical validity is the wrong test to apply to a political argument.

          • Evan Þ says:

            You’re saying that non-fascist Trump supporters “have to either own the actions of their allies, or disassociate themselves.” I’m asking about that second option – what counts as dissociating themselves? Can they still work together for common goals, like Churchill did with Stalin? Can they say nice things about each other, financially support each other, and give each other limited power, like FDR did with Stalin?

            Or… reading between the lines of your second post, do you really just mean “make sure they aren’t lumped together in the public mind,” by whatever means work? If that’s the case, I think you’re talking about a different thing than FishFinger’s original point.

    • Chalid says:

      There’s also the related fallacy where you look at a person who advocates for different things in different situations and is called a hypocrite for it.

    • seladore says:

      I’ve heard it referred to as the ‘Mohammed Wang’ fallacy.

      The most common first name in the world is Mohammed. The most common surname in the world is Wang. But that doesn’t mean there are millions of people called Mohammed Wang.

      It’s actually group A1 who call their babies Mohammed, and group A2 who have the surname Wang, and assuming that (A1+A2) is a homogeneous group leads to incorrect assumptions.

    • Null Hypothesis says:

      To maybe get a better handle on it, it might be worthwhile to hypothesize scenarios where the criticism is valid, or at least seems like it should be.

      -You don’t personally witness any infighting (being fair, absence of evidence, not necessarily evidence of absence)
      -Your multiple targets for the charge all seem to share some common goal and suggests a similarity of argument.
      -The arguments for this common goal are self-contradictory, but never seem to contradict themselves during an argument. Only one ever seems to appear at a time.

      In the worst case scenario, people in this movement are individually using contradictory arguments selectively, based on context. (Individuals are actively being Hypocrites, contradicting themselves whenever one argument is more beneficial than the other)

      In the best case scenario, people in this common movement with different underlying opinions or reasoning to justify their common goal are selectively staying silent to avoid ruining a point being made that advances the cause. (Movement as a whole is being Hypocritical – benefiting from arguing contradictory points.)

      In the latter case, the movement is still having its cake and eating it too, so to speak.

      Let’s take an example (one I’m not interested in actually arguing here). Nuclear power plants. Some newer designs with different materials have decay chains with highly radioactive fission products. Others with very stable decay products. I have seen arguments against the design/implementation of these plans because:

      1. Highly radioactive fission products make the plant too dangerous to operate or decommission.
      2. Insufficiently radioactive fission products make the material too difficult to monitor/track in the case of proliferation violations.

      Now, on their own, these could be reasonable arguments. But they are only reasonable arguments towards specific, mutually exclusive reactor designs. A new reactor built could have one of these problems, but it will not have both of these problems simultaneously.

      Someone who listens to both arguments separately, may recall the conclusions vividly, but only vaguely recalls the arguments used to arrive at them. Thus, they will think that: “New Nuclear Plants pose a danger from significant radioactivity and New Nuclear Plants pose a danger from easier proliferation.”

      When in reality, new designs may pose one danger, or the other, but not both simultaneously.

      As a result, the anti-nuclear plant ‘movement’, and everyone who personally holds this as a goal, regardless of group affiliation, is benefiting from these contradictory arguments. Their goal is being advanced more than it ‘should’ in a rationally ‘just’ world.

      At this point, someone who attended both presentations and recalled the arguments used to arrive at them, might say something like: “You anti-nuclear guys are all hypocrites. If the decay chain is radioactive, you say it’s too dangerous. If it’s not radioactive enough, you say it’s too easy to steel. There’s just no pleasing you. And you talk about reactors like they all have all of these disadvantages, rather than them each having their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s dishonest!”

      This is likely a very unfair personal accusation to level, as the individual recieveing this criticism is likely a person self-consistent in his or her arguments. But all the same, their goal of preventing nuclear power plants from being deployed is being aided by those making contradictory arguments. It’s having your cake and eating it too. Thus, while it’s not a fair personal criticism, it might be a more or less fair group-wide criticism. Even though individually everyone may have been arguing in good-faith.

      Take reddit as a platform for example. If I posted something about a new nuclear plant that produces something very radioactive like U232, the top comment could be a guy talking about how dangerous U232 is, and how difficult to deal with it is, because it’s so radioactive.

      And in another thread, proposing a different model with more stable fission products, someone else might make a top comment discussing how, say, Iran has used such power plants as justification to secretly enrich Uranium 235 to weapons-grade levels.

      These two commenters could be unrelated, and uncoordinated. Hell, maybe they even both posted arguments in both threads, so their arguments were somewhat at the same venue. But in each context where their argument was strong, they were pushed to the forefront. And in each context where their argument was weak, they were pushed down into obscurity.

      Thus, their internally inconsistent arguments don’t appear side-by-side, and only appear in situations where their form of argument for the common goal of ‘no-nuclear’ is the most successful.

      This sort of beneficial collusion-without-coordination that different media formats provide extends far beyond this issue. I don’t have any answers or recommendations. But I think it’s useful to consider why people sometimes feel justified in making this accusation. It’s worth considering that it’s happening. Maybe the charge of ‘hypocrite’ is unfair on the personal level. And maybe asserting or demanding group homogeneity is also unfair.

      And yet, those people are still getting an unfair advantage from gaming the system, intentionally or not, and there doesn’t seem to be an efficient, fair way to address this.

      Maybe leveling these unfair charges is fair? I don’t personally think so, but from an end-results standpoint, their overall goal is being unfairly boosted by this inadvertent compartmentalizing of contradictory arguments. So maybe each individual compartment should be individually, unfairly disadvantaged by having their credibility unfairly undercut. Would two wrongs make a right? Would it help mitigate the unfair advantaging of their goal?

      Things to think about.

      • Iain says:

        I don’t think the nuclear example works. If every new power plant falls at some point along the spectrum of radioactivity, then it seems possible that there is an overlap between the two problems: there is an anti-sweet-spot in the middle where the fission products are too radioactive to decommission, but not radioactive enough to trace. In that case, any nuclear power plant would have at least one of the problems, and some of them might have two. There’s nothing unreasonable about pointing out the problem or problems that apply to a particular power plant.

        This is, essentially, proof by cases, which is a valid proof tactic in formal logic.

        • AnonEEmous says:

          But the problem is that there would still be, at the end of the day, only one problem. And so in reality, those two nuclear activists should be arguing with one another, saying that “nuclear plants are too dangerous” vs. “no they’re not dangerous enough”. Instead, they’ve seemingly made a pact – suggesting that maybe, the issue here is that they don’t like nuclear, and they’ve just found other reasons to inveigh against it. They’ve unfairly avoided the logical inconsistency of their arguments, for the purpose of advancing their real goal, which is likely unsupported by logic – otherwise, they’d argue with each other too.

          • Iain says:

            No?

            In the hypothetical, there are two problems. One problem is that radioactive fission products are difficult to dispose of: that is, there is some (potentially fuzzy) threshold X above which it is a bad idea to build a nuclear power plant, because it will be too difficult to dispose of the waste. The other problem is that it is unfeasible to monitor fission products if they are insufficiently radioactive: that is, there is some similarly fuzzy threshold Y below which it is a bad idea to build a nuclear power plant, because it will be impossible to monitor proliferation violations. (This second argument seems weak to me outside of the hypothetical, but I’m accepting it as part of the premise.)

            If X < Y, then it is possible for nuclear power plants to have both problems. If X >= Y, then at most one problem applies to any given nuclear plant, but it is in no way inconsistent to point out the problem that does apply.

            Consider the minimum wage. A high minimum wage will distort the labour market and leave people unemployed. A minimum wage low enough to avoid distorting the market would have to affect so few people that there’s no point in having the law; it would be better to simplify the regulatory environment by eliminating the minimum wage entirely.

            Is that argument a logically inconsistent example of motivated reasoning? First I say that the minimum wage would have bad effects; then I say that it wouldn’t have any effects at all! How preposterous! Should anti-minimum-wage activists argue with each other about whether the minimum wage does too much or too little?

            The correct response here is not to accuse your opponent of a logical fallacy. It is either to prove that one of the arguments is false (maybe it is easier to dispose of waste than the activists claim) or to prove that there is room in the middle where neither argument is compelling (maybe there is a level of radiation Z such that Y < Z < X). Sadly, those arguments require the collection of evidence, which is much more work than just impugning the motives of your opponents.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            It seems like there are two possible things happening here. You’re talking about a group of protesters who claim that:

            If the power plant is too weak then proliferation will occur, and if the power plant is too strong then radioactive waste will doom us all.

            But we’re talking about two groups of protesters, affiliated, who claim that:

            The power plant WILL be too weak and proliferation will occur and the power plant WILL be too strong and radioactive waste will doom us all.

            Now, sometimes both are possible. But if they’re not, then the second statement is contradictory, and that’s our issue – groups come together to act as one to increase their chances of accomplishing their objectives, but in reality they are sending out a wildly contradictory message that, if they were intellectually honest, they would be willing to hash out to see who is really correct on the issue.

          • Iain says:

            I mean, this is all a hypothetical situation with made-up arguments. If you would like to postulate a world in which people are intellectually dishonest, I suppose I can’t stop you. But your description doesn’t seem to correspond very well to Null Hypothesis’s original statement of the problem: note that the original example involves two different reddit threads talking about two different nuclear plants.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Yeah, sorry; I think Null Hypothesis gave a bad example, or at least one that doesn’t fully illustrate the point. In his case, I think it’s more about how the arguments are just a mask for anti-nuclear, but if it is two entirely different cases then both arguments may be sound (though the people advancing them could still be dishonest, it’s also entirely possible for them not to be). But I think the second type is also very real and it definitely bothers me.

      • ashlael says:

        Those damn immigrants, taking all our jobs and lazing around living off welfare.

      • Synonym Seven says:

        Maybe leveling these unfair charges is fair?

        I don’t see what’s “unfair” about them.

        Staring at the sun might cause the cells within your eyes to burn and wither away to nothing, thus leaving you blind.

        Staring at the sun might cause the cells within your eyes to go cancerous and replicate beyond all control, thus leaving you blind.

        What you might think of as two wildly contradictory and self-serving inconsistencies of the Mom Lobby unfairly boosting their premise, I think of as two very good, very different reasons to not stare at the sun.

    • ChetC3 says:

      Is there a name for this kind of fallacy?

      Why are you so eager to increase the amount of faux intellectual bullshit on the internet? Anyone who confuses something like your example with a rational argument is beyond reason anyway.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      As it happens, I ran across a Social Justice variant, and now I think very ill of the tactic.

      This is all from memory.

      I saw a post complaining about white people who think race doesn’t exist but lose their shit (I quote) about a black Santa Claus.

      I asked whether these are necessarily the same white people.

      I give the poster credit. She took a day to answer me, but the answer was that she cared more about real people of color than hypothetical white people. At that point I gave up on the conversation.

      I believe that if the disagreement=hypocrisy person is resistant to the idea that the disagreement is because there are a lot of different people in a group, they’re trying to build up hostility in themselves and/or other people.

      As pointed out below, manipulating the boundaries of a group in order to look better and/or more powerful is also a sort of cheating.

      I’ve become dubious about accusations of hypocrisy, at least in the older sense of people promoting standards they don’t follow. I agree that hypocrisy in that sense is bad because it becomes harder to tell whether a standard is reasonable, and also because of injustice.

      However, I think one of the reasons hypocrisy has become a popular accusation is that it’s much easier to check on whether a standard is followed or on whether statements are consistent with each other than to find out whether statements are a good match for the real world.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        I don’t think I’m disagreeing with you, but I’d say that the word ‘hypocrisy’ has a problematical job or is used for two jobs.

        Job 1: to put a condemnatory spin on whatever statement or person it’s applied to (whether deserved or not).

        Job 2: to point to some statement of (at least) two propositions without spelling out their connection as nuance/s of a sensible position.

        Example of Job 2:
        “A fine for speeding should be heavy enough to be a deterrent, but $250 is excessive for that purpose.” Here there is no necessary contradiction between the generality and the specific amount of the fine in a particular location — which is a matter of opinion that reasonable people can disagree on. Thus the term ‘hypocrisy’ is bringing in an unnecessary emotional, condemnatory charge.

        Another example of Job 2: Nuclear power is an unsafe area, because either an excess of X or a lack of X is dangerous, and the safe middle ground (if any) is too narrow a target.

  2. I scored my own 2016 predictions here.

  3. J. Mensch says:

    Mark Fisher died a couple of days ago, people might be interested in his critique of the identitarian left from a class perspective — http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=11299

    And, in case he needed any further justification for his piece, here’s a quote from identitarian left twitter on his passing — “Just because Mark Fisher is dead, doesn’t make him right about “sour-faced identitarians”. If only left misogyny would die with him.”

    • cassander says:

      Interesting piece, parts are downright death eaterish.

      His big misunderstanding is the fist law, of “The first law of the Vampires’ Castle is: individualise and privatise everything” is patently silly, the sort of thing only an un-reconstructed marxist could say. There’s nothing individual about the identities the people he’s talking about are pushing, they’re all group identities. He just rejects them because they aren’t class identities. And that blindspot, that his inability to turn his lense on himself and realize that his class identities and prejudices are just as arbitrary as those the people he’s critiquing are pushing, keeps him trapped on the left.

      • Ralf says:

        What do you people mean when you say “Death Eater”?

        (Also: I miss-clicked and accidentally reported the comment. Sorry Scott, nothing to see here!)

        • cassander says:

          The term reactionary was briefly banned a while ago, and it became common to refer to the reactionaries as death eaters and mencius moldbug as voldemort. the ban’s gone now but the convention has stuck around as a joke.

          • suntzuanime says:

            No, the banned term was http://pastebin.com/ydTqw6Cg specifically, which remains banned. The convention is not a joke but is terrifyingly real.

            It’s a silly thing to ban, and a doubly silly thing because people just use a code word, so all it causes is confusion and impenetrability, but moderators gonna moderate.

      • birdboy2000 says:

        Class (which many marxists, including myself, don’t see as an “identity”) can’t be arbitrary as long as most people have to work for someone else for a living. Though AFAIK Fisher’s article veered a bit towards treating it as one – mentioning working-class accents among people who were no longer proles and the like.

        • cassander says:

          Who counts as a worker these days? Some welder on a factory floor? What if he’s an extremely skilled titanium welder making 100 grand a year? What he’s actually a subcontractor and owns his own welding business? “Worker” was a slippery enough concept 150 years ago, it’s only gotten worse since then.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Good point Cassander. One could say that anyone who has a customer is working for someone else, and in fact having to satisfy multiple customers could be seen as a much harder life than satisfying just one boss. So what is the essential difference between being forced to satisfy customers to make a living and being forced to satisfy a boss?

            Ah, it is tough being a Marxist these days!

          • Iain says:

            I’m by no means a Marxist, but I’m pretty sure that from a Marxist point of view, the “essential difference between being forced to satisfy customers to make a living and being forced to satisfy a boss” is that in the former case you get to keep the money you earn, while in the latter the profits are siphoned away to pay off shareholders.

          • cassander says:

            @ian

            The trouble with that is that marx specifically defines the owners as the owners of the means of production. But what are the means of production for a software engineer or insurance salesmen? marx sort of lumps skilled workers in in with the petite bourgeoisie, but they’re a huge hole in his theory.

          • Iain says:

            Like I said: not a Marxist. If I were trying to rescue Marxism I would give up on the means of production and focus on the return to capital investment, but I don’t really see any good reason to try to rescue Marxism. Maybe birdboy2000 can take it from here.

            (Also, you appear to be consistently underestimating the number of vowels in my name.)

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            I’m pretty sure that from a Marxist point of view, the “essential difference between being forced to satisfy customers to make a living and being forced to satisfy a boss” is that in the former case you get to keep the money you earn, while in the latter the profits are siphoned away to pay off shareholders.

            Yes I agree that is true from a Marxist point of view, but as Cassander implied, and I tried to add to but probably failed, what does it mean to keep the money you earn? If you are an independent contractor, you are not an employee, even though the worker may look just like an employee from the outside. But the independent contractor keeps every penny they earn from their “customer.” If you say well the independent contractor is really an employee, how about someone who sells their services to five different firms, but earns the same as the person who sells to only one. Or the one who who has three employees of their own, but makes less money than those who sell their own services. Or the person who is legally an employee, but who has more market power than his firm, with ten other companies eager to employ him. All of these type of arrangements are quite common, which I think was Cassander’s point. It can be very difficult to tell the bourgeois from the proletariat these days.

          • cassander says:

            @mark Anderson

            In classic marx, the economy works thusly. The worker sells his labor power to the capital owner, who combines it with the capital he owns, then sells the product, paying the worker some amount less than the value of what his labor produced. The profit he makes is the degree to which he is exploiting the worker.

            To speak of customers controlling (and thus inevitably, exploiting) the independent proprietor makes no sense because the customers don’t own the means of production required to make the product in question.

            Of course, there’s about a dozen things wrong with that sort of economics, of which this debate is one of the least, but fundamentally insane economics has never stopped marxists before!

      • Art Vandelay says:

        His big misunderstanding is the fist law, of “The first law of the Vampires’ Castle is: individualise and privatise everything” is patently silly, the sort of thing only an un-reconstructed marxist could say. There’s nothing individual about the identities the people he’s talking about are pushing, they’re all group identities. He just rejects them because they aren’t class identities.

        You have to be able understand what he’s arguing before you can claim that he’s misunderstood something. When he says that identitarians want to individualise and privatise everything he’s quite clearly talking about the form of their critique rather than the identities they’re “pushing”.

        While in theory it claims to be in favour of structural critique, in practice it never focuses on anything except individual behaviour. Some of these working class types are not terribly well brought up, and can be very rude at times. Remember: condemning individuals is always more important than paying attention to impersonal structures.

        His argument is that these people concentrate on attacking individuals for personal, moral transgressions – they say racism and sexism are structural but they actually approach these problems as if they were individual failings.

        • cassander says:

          >His argument is that these people concentrate on attacking individuals for personal, moral transgressions – they say racism and sexism are structural but they actually approach these problems as if they were individual failings.

          I don’t think they do this. They are quite willing to critique individuals, sure, but they also go to great lengths to both find evidence of structural racism/sexism and to explain how personally not being racist/sexist isn’t enough, that one has to actively fight the structures, and if you don’t, you’re just as bad as the personal racists/sexists.

  4. The Pachyderminator says:

    A while ago I posted a version of Unsong that I was typesetting with LaTeX. Here’s an improved version. One of the new features is an appendix giving the source of each chapter title in Blake’s works – which I thought worthwhile to add since, while Blake’s work is all online in some form or other, it can be fairly painful to look up.

    • TK-421 says:

      One suggestion: maybe Palatino or Times for the body text? Computer Modern is, ironically, sometimes hard to read on computer screens; those narrow horizontal strokes tend to disappear and make it hard to read (at least for me) at small sizes.

      • The Pachyderminator says:

        Hmm, perhaps. (Although I’ve been making this with a few to eventually printing it, and the “academic STEM paper” look of Computer Modern – or rather, Latin Modern here – seems to me not badly suited to the material.)

    • moridinamael says:

      This really is excellent smart-person-bending-the-world-to-his-will porn.

  5. James Miller says:

    Trump should use his Batman powers to save the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus by announcing he would be very pleased with whatever company bought and sustained it. This is a military issue because if solar flares or EMP bursts destroy all electronics we might need trained elephants for war. But seriously, I predict a 20% chance that Trump will save the Circus if for no other reason then to get liberals to regularly mock him for promoting bread and circuses and so consistently remind the American people of Trump’s job saving efforts.

    • Ninmesara says:

      I think Batman powers as defined by Scott only work retrospectively. Trump can’t choose to save a set of particular jobs. Jobs must be saved and Trump can retrospectively work to save them. This might or might not violate causality.

    • sflicht says:

      Incidentally, I just noticed that the Big Apple Circus is also in bankruptcy.

      WRT to animal cavalry, I’m pretty confident we would rely upon horsemen. In a pinch, with conscription, we could probably field millions of horsemen.

      I wonder why we haven’t seen much use of horse cavalry in the current wars in the mideast, where materiel seems relatively scarce. Maybe the problem is that manpower is even more scarce. Huh it seems that horse cavalry was actually relevant in the early years of the war in Afghanistan.

      • cassander says:

        >I wonder why we haven’t seen much use of horse cavalry in the current wars in the mideast, where materiel seems relatively scarce.

        They were used a fair bit by special forces in Afghanistan. The US army has a brigade sized veterinary corps. In general, though, horses take a lot of skill and material to keep in fighting shape, and the US military has a lot more trucks than vets.

        • sflicht says:

          As I linked, the use by the US in Afghanistan is interesting but not that surprising. But what about the (apparent?) *lack* of use by, e.g., Kurds fighting ISIS in northern Syria. Is that surprising?

      • hyperboloid says:

        I wonder why we haven’t seen much use of horse cavalry in the current wars in the mideast

        On a related note, why hasn’t there been more military use of bicycles? from what I’ve read, over relatively flat terrain, a soldier could increase the distance he could cover in a day by a factor of two or three while carrying a heavier load.

        • John Schilling says:

          It’s definitely been done, but since the invention of the modern bicycle pretty much everybody who lives in terrain flat enough for ubiquitous bicycling has had either lots of horses or lots of internal combustion engines. Or even other sorts of engines.

          • hyperboloid says:

            The most useful application would probably be with airborne and spacial operations forces, who are apt to find themselves in situations where fuel is scarce and there aren’t convenient places to a charge a battery.

        • gbdub says:

          I would guess the issue with bicycles is that they aren’t really a force multiplier. Every soldier needs a bike, and you can’t fight from one effectively. Pretty much all you can do is move more quickly than walking over uncontested, relatively smooth terrain. Vs. something like a jeep, which can move multiple people and/or a heavy weapon even faster – and while one guy drives the others can be shooting.

          I think the real issue is you just don’t have unsupported troops moving over long distances on foot anymore.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Cavalry, or dragoons? The former have been obsolete for quite a while, but the latter showed up in WWI and WWII on the Eastern Front on both sides, and I would be unsurprised if they were involved in the fighting in China in WWII. Draft animals were the norm in WWI, and in WWII the Germans still used tons of horses as draft animals – their military was never anywhere close to fully mechanized. Pictures of live WWII German draft horses seem fairly rare – I’m guessing that German war photographers didn’t take photos of horses pulling artillery because it didn’t look good in propaganda – but pictures of dead horses are fairly common. A lot of images of German columns hit from the air in NW Europe, for example, show a mishmash of dead men, knocked out tanks, busted up halftracks and trucks, and dead horses with their carts knocked over.

        Bicycle infantry was actually fairly common in WWII, but again was far less cool than tanks and halftracks and trucks and such.

    • CatCube says:

      Can Trump do anything about it, even if he were to buy it himself? If Feld thought it was going to return to profitability, I’d think they wouldn’t announce the closure. The business economics I was taught that if you’re firm is not profitable right now but forecasting shows it returning to profitability, either ride it out or idle. If you foresee no return to profitability due to fundamental changes in the market, close.

      That is, if the ticket prices people are willing to pay won’t cover a show they’re willing to watch (i.e., they won’t pay high prices, and won’t enjoy watching a show that cheap tickets will cover), even a white knight can’t keep it open.

      • suntzuanime says:

        Trump could probably afford to subsidize an unprofitable circus, yes.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          CN: In contex, the term below is not a metaphor. Yet.

          @ suntzuanime
          Trump could probably afford to subsidize an unprofitable circus, yes.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Sometimes announcing something is going away gets people to love it again. Witness people freaking out over Twinkies supposedly going away and buying them in droves.

        It’s a risky gambit, because you can also get people to bail on you, including employees and creditors.

    • LRS says:

      But seriously, I predict a 20% chance that Trump will save the Circus

      I would be willing Paypal you $50 right now if you agreed to pay me $60 when this doesn’t happen. If your prediction is serious, I believe this proposition is, on expectation, free money for you, but I’m bad at arithmetic so double-check my analysis. If you agree in principle, we can negotiate specific conditions.

      • James Miller says:

        I can accept the money parts of this bet, and thanks for trusting me. But how long should we wait until it’s agreed that Trump isn’t going to do anything? How about until June 1st of this year? And if the circus does continue, Trump doesn’t actually have to save the circus, he just has to take credit for saving the circus. So if Disney bailouts the circus and, without any evidence, Trump said this only happened because of him I win, agreed? Finally, just to be clear, if you win I keep the $50 you sent me but I send you $60, so you will have made a $10 profit.

        • LRS says:

          Finally, just to be clear, if you win I keep the $50 you sent me but I send you $60, so you will have made a $10 profit.

          Yes, this is correct. Our understandings of the money terms appear to be in harmony.

          June 1 seems like a reasonable deadline, but this:

          And if the circus does continue, Trump doesn’t actually have to save the circus, he just has to take credit for saving the circus. So if Disney bailouts the circus and, without any evidence, Trump said this only happened because of him I win, agreed?

          seems like quite a different proposition than your original claim, which I read to be that Trump would actually take some sort of affirmative step to save the circus. I think it’s substantially more likely that Trump will attempt to take post hoc credit for something that he had nothing to do with, by, e.g., tweeting “So happy to see that ringling bros show will go on – we saved this American institution which brought smiles to millions.” If your 20% figure includes this sort of outcome, I find no issue with it and would have to retract my offer.

          • James Miller says:

            “If your 20% figure includes this sort of outcome, I find no issue with it and would have to retract my offer.” OK, well at least we found the source of our initial disagreement over the 20% figure.

  6. mnov says:

    Has there been any discussion of this in any of the recent open threads? It’s a great walk-through (by the manager for the Vote Leave campaign) on a number of Brexit and Brexit adjacent subjects, and he makes a particularly good case for why ‘conventional wisdom’ doesn’t work in Politics (that is, why it so frequently fails to make accurate predictions) and why it can’t work.

  7. Wrong Species says:

    I was reading Jaskology’s post about magic going missing and it reminded of Julian Jaynes hypothesis about the origin of consciousness. He believes that not that long ago(4000 thousand years ago), mankind simply did not have any kind of introspection. Instead, we would would hear voices that we heard as coming from gods and they would command us to do certain things. Eventually, we took over but in gaining consciousness, we lost societal stability. As the world broke down around us, we searched for answers for why the gods had left us. We came up with oracles, divination and prayer as a way to communicate with them. Most of those are lost to us but we still have vestiges of the bicameral mind in our heads today.

    • The Pachyderminator says:

      Sorry, is “4000 thousand” a typo for 4000, or do you mean four million?

      Assuming it’s the former, the thesis strikes me as implausible. I take it that it requires seeing the characters in the oldest literature we possess, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, as fundamentally different from us in their thoughts, motivations, and subjective experiences, but when I read Gilgamesh that isn’t at all the impression I get, despite the presence of gods. Gilgamesh seems quite self-aware, and it doesn’t seem that he undertakes his quests and great works because of a mysterious internal voice.

      • Wrong Species says:

        I meant four thousand. He says that that the Epic of Gilgamesh took place in a transitional period and notes that later versions are more likely to have the idea of introspection. And he believes that some words used to translate are modern impositions.

        Using the word consciousness, he really means something more like introspection because he believed that people still felt emotions. It’s just that Jaynes didn’t believe that people back then were consciously ruminating over their decisions. Instead it was more like a God being commanding them to do something and they would. Gradually, they started hearing the voice as their own. I don’t really believe the hypothesis but it raised some questions. What if introspection is more culturally influenced than we have thought? Did language come before consciousness? Maybe his idea was right but he got the date wrong. Many scientists believe that humans weren’t behaviorally modern until 50,000 years ago. The genetics was the same but culturally different. Maybe consciousness didn’t develop until then?

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      I find the bicameral mind hypothesis super sketchy. Consider this data:
      When the Spaniards met Native Americans, they had been reproductively isolated for ~12,000 years. The mutation would have only happened on the Afro-Eurasian side of the human family. Is there any evidence that the latter were as cognitively different as the Jaynes hypothesis requires? Ditto Australia, with a deeper time depth.

      • Evan Þ says:

        On the other hand, the huge epidemics and breakdown of society that came before European contact in many areas sounds like the sort of social disruption which Jaynes says introduced the current monocameral mind in Eurasia. It’s another epicycle (how much previous social disruption does Jaynes say came without breaking the bicameral mind?), but as I understand him, it’s nowhere near impossible. So, you’d need to look at really early contact – Columbus and the explorers immediately following him – and I’m not sure how much detail we can really glean from them about Native American psychology.

        I don’t believe in the bicameral mind, and I think this’s a very good counterargument to make – but it needs some more work.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          We may not be able to extract any scientific data from Columbus and the other first contact explorers, for the obvious reasons. On the other hand, white contact with Australia well postdates the Scientific Revolution, so we can probably extract relevant data about aboriginal psychology from documents published at the time. Wouldn’t even have to be immediate, just early enough that any scientists could document who was full-blooded and who had a white ancestor (in case the unicameral mutation was a single dominant allele).
          OTOH, what John Schilling said about a unicameral mind being “memetic” in the sense that language is would make the hypothesis stronger without epicycles.

    • Jaskologist says:

      I feel like I need to read the actual book for that one, because on the surface it sounds like utter lunacy, but it keeps popping up, and has had a few people who I don’t generally regard as crackpots at least seriously entertain it.

      I don’t know how it gets around the issue of human groups splitting from each other way before 3k years ago, though.

      • Wrong Species says:

        I had the exact same reaction as you, down to checking the wiki and being confused why anyone was taking it seriously. I don’t believe it, but I still think it was a thought provoking read, with some kernel of truth in there. Jaynes has a way of making his argument seem almost mundane simply because he doesn’t adopt that apocalyptic tone you usually see from crackpots. His book is very academic sounding. At the very least, it’s an interesting crackpot theory, far different than what you’re used to.

    • John Schilling says:

      The version of bicameralism that seems most plausible to me is the one where the change is a memetic rather than evolutionary-genetic event. If it were genetic, there would still be too many populations that don’t have it, but whose members when plucked out of the wilderness and sent to university seem to think and feel and perceive the world the way the rest of us do.

      But integrated, introspective consciousness could be somewhere between language and arithmetic on the list of things that the h. sapien brain has always been capable of but won’t actually do if you just have someone raised by wolves or whatnot. Language, people figure out as soon as they start living in tribes. Arithmetic comes rather later than that. If Jaynes is right, unicameral consciousness is something people figure out when they have to navigate an environment as complex as a bronze-age city, and once they have the knack they teach their kids without even thinking about it. Or other peoples’ kids, if they are e.g. missionaries.

      At which point brains whose wiring is better suited to the new paradigm will have an evolutionary advantage, and there will be a genetic shift, but as a slow lagging indicator rather than a cause.

      Or not, with p~0.95. But I can’t justify making that p~0.995 not, and this seems like something which would be of explosive importance if true but haven’t been proven. If we’re not going to just toss the whole thing over the fence to Buzzfeed, how do we go about proving or disproving it? To me, the obvious solution is to investigate uncontacted stone-age tribes, or maybe those so minimally contacted that nobody in them speaks a modern language. Such populations would almost necessarily have minds that work the way most human minds worked ten thousand years ago.

      But I fear people might take it the wrong way if someone were to write a research proposal that could be interpreted, “First we round up a bunch of dark-skinned savages from some godforsaken jungle. Then we give them the Voight-Kampff test to see if they’re really human”. And we’re running out of uncontacted stone-age tribes, I think. Anybody have any better ideas?

      • Evan Þ says:

        Just a thought… If secondhand reports were good enough, maybe the prospective scholar could talk with Wycliffe Bible Translators, New Tribes Missions, or other Christian groups that do a lot of work with newly-contacted tribes. From their books published for general audiences and articles in the popular press, the people of such tribes all seem to have monocameral minds – but obviously, those aren’t good enough to be dispositive.

        (What’s more, secondhand reports might not be good enough altogether, but then we might also need to throw out all data about the Native Americans and Australian Aborigines.)

  8. albertborrow says:

    I feel like some people associate minorities or immigrants with cultural artifacts rather than actual conditions, like poverty. Whenever I suggest something sensible like: “Let’s reform education so that black people don’t have such a high drop out rate.” I’m suddenly a racist or cultural supremacist for trying to remove the aspects of inequality that set them apart.

    Whenever somebody brings up the wage gap, I ask them how it is they intend to solve it. I generally get a response along the lines of, “Solving it misses the point of the issue, that there’s a gap between men and women.” But that’s the thing – the wage gap is evidence of a divide. If I take that aspect and I fix it, and look around and there’s no more evidence of sexism, then it seems like the problem of sexism is solved – if, on the other hand, I look around and find things like different incrimination rates, different enrollment rates, and other things, then sexism is still there. But I see people argue that the cultural gap between men and women somehow caused this wage gap, and not the other way around. (inevitably, the solutions they propose to solve this are disastrous. I don’t see how quotas and mandatory awareness classes solve the actual issue.)

    Pretending your problem is the product of an unsealable rift is good rhetoric, but it’s bad form. It encourages the idea that your opponents will never change their mind, or get better. And more importantly, it isn’t very productive when we finally need to solve real issues, like education or inequality.

    • Cerby says:

      You’re assuming they want to solve the problem. As long as the problem exists – heck, as long as people believe the problem exists – the snake oil industry keeps trucking on.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Are you sure you are describing example 1 correctly? I have never heard the “graduating high school is acting White” thing from someone older than 12.

      Are you sure you are describing example 2 correctly? I’m sure many feminists would answer “I don’t know how to solve it in isolation, because I believe it results from a deep system of divides between men and women.” I am also very curious about what a purely ‘economic’ solution would look like.

      • Evan Þ says:

        I am also very curious about what a purely ‘economic’ solution would look like.

        Very simple economic solution: Every woman gets a 13% (or whatever) fully-refundable income tax credit on all earned income.

        Slightly more complicated: Every employer pays a 13% (or whatever) tax on all wages they pay to a male.

        Of course, even if we believe whatever figure for the wage gap, it’s an average – some women make more; some make less. And, either plan would probably fall afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment itself… as well as perhaps inducing a lot of men to call themselves transwomen.

      • albertborrow says:

        It’s not so much that a purely economic solution exists – I don’t think I was describing that right. It’s the idea that somehow the divide between men and women is completely inexorable. There might not be a way to solve the wage gap through economy, but I’m also sure you don’t solve the wage gap by smiling smugly about the fact that there’s a wage gap. There are people that only treat these statistics like ammunition, which is a bad thing.

        You might not have seen “graduating high school is acting white” from anyone over twelve, but I see it all the time. It’s never a proactive belief, like something that drives kids out of high school, but when I talk to my cousin who dropped out, that’s the way his friends justify it. Fortunately, this seems like a problem that is solving itself, or at least is being solved by our current methods – according to a google search, the race gap in high school graduation is closing.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        Regarding a purely economic solution, I open Marginal Revolution and what do I find but this: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23051#fromrss

      • Anonymous says:

        I am also very curious about what a purely ‘economic’ solution would look like.

        Like the status quo, pretty much. The state taxes men, and gives to women.

  9. albertborrow says:

    Also, secondary discussion, which is far enough off of the main point to warrant a second post. I was given a paper by Anuja Agrawal called “Social Construction of Gender”. In it, she makes the assertion that:

    Patrilineal societies are also the most likely to place a high premium on female chastity, which leads to strict vigilance of female sexuality. Seclusion of women is also a part of the complex of institutions which are geared towards control of female sexuality.

    This is strikes me as something that is obviously true, just from looking at the history of how western countries treated women, and how women are treated now in India and the middle east – but it also seems different from the narrative presented by some other feminists. I’ve seen people make the assertion that modern sexual liberalism, both in the media and in real life, reinforces the submissive position of women. Which one is more likely?

    • Iain says:

      Do you have an example of feminists making the latter assertion (modern sexual liberalism reinforces the submissive position of women)? I can think of feminists arguments for the claim that modern sexual liberalism doesn’t single-handedly eliminate the subjugation of women, but I’m not sure what the argument for reinforcement would be.

      • Well... says:

        I don’t have any examples on hand that I could link to, but I’ve definitely seen feminists pointing to things that only occur in modern sexual liberalism and blaming those things for reinforcing the submissive position of women.

        For example, consider male courtship behaviors within a dating scene in which the most common goal–for both men and women–is typically somewhere between casual sex and a short-term romantic relationship, rather than marriage.

        • Iain says:

          It is not inconsistent to generally approve of modern sexual liberalism while disapproving of specific behaviours that take place within the framework.

          • albertborrow says:

            It is not inconsistent to generally approve of modern sexual liberalism while disapproving of specific behaviours that take place within the framework.

            I don’t think I’ve ever heard it phrased like that, but it makes sense. However, it does seem hypocritical to indicate that those behaviors are emblematic of a larger societal problem that we otherwise don’t see.

            It’s the difference between being grossed out by something, or believing that something should be banned. It’s well and good to say: “these things contribute negatively to society” – the question is, do those things actually contribute negatively, or do you just dislike them?

            EDIT: Also, a less open-ended discussion: Iain, are you as grossed out by the fluorescent green word-press avatar as I am? I haven’t found a way to change it yet, and it’s been getting on my nerves.

          • Iain says:

            Yeah, my randomly assigned gravatar is basically the worst: not only an ugly colour, but also a boring shape. Despite this, I am too lazy to change mine, but I believe it can be changed in your profile, which you can reach by clicking on “Logged in as [yourname]” right under “Leave a reply”.

          • Anonymousse says:

            FWIW, I enjoy both of your comments, and use the hideous (but eye-catching) gravatars as a quick means of finding them.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          I don’t have any examples on hand that I could link to, but I’ve definitely seen feminists pointing to things that only occur in modern sexual liberalism and blaming those things for reinforcing the submissive position of women.

          Normally, though, in my experience, they don’t recognise that these things only occur in modern sexual liberalism, and hence end up misdiagnosing the problem. “The patriarchy calls women prudes if they don’t have sex!” is a good example.

          • Iain says:

            That’s only a misdiagnosis if you think that “modern sexual liberalism” is a monolith and must be accepted or rejected as a unified whole. If your principle is that women should be free to control their own sexuality, then it is obvious that modern sexual liberalism is a step in the right direction insofar as it lets women choose to have sex if they want to, but that shaming women for not having sex is also a bad thing.

          • Well... says:

            I suppose an underlying assumption there is that modern sexual liberalism could result in significantly different outcomes than the male courtship behaviors/dating scene I mentioned. Have we seen feminists proposing any alternative outcomes and explaining how they could be realistically brought about? Maybe there are also some different underlying assumptions about human nature there as well.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            That’s only a misdiagnosis if you think that “modern sexual liberalism” is a monolith and must be accepted or rejected as a unified whole.

            I don’t see why. Maybe there’s a form of sexual liberalism society could adopt which wouldn’t lead to “prude-shaming” (or whatever you want to call it); that doesn’t change the fact that the form which our society actually has adopted did lead to this.

          • Iain says:

            I don’t see why “letting women choose to have sex” and “shaming the ones who don’t” are inseparable. It seems to me that the alternative version of sexual liberalism is just the same thing we have right now, except with a somewhat stronger sense that who you do or do not have sex with is your own business, and prude-shaming is rude.

          • John Schilling says:

            I don’t see why “letting women choose to have sex” and “shaming the ones who don’t” are inseparable.

            Because people who fight long and hard to give other people the right to (vote/work/speak freely/screw freely/go to college/whatever) tend to be either offended by or dismissive of anyone who responds with “meh, thanks I guess, but I don’t wanna”.

            The people who are letting women have sex, at this point, are the conservatives, and they aren’t the ones shaming women who abstain. To the extent that there is shaming, it’s coming from the tribe whose historic involvement in sexual freedom goes far beyond the passive acquiescence implied by “letting”.

          • Iain says:

            @John Schilling: Can you give a concrete example of the kind of prude-shaming you are talking about, coming from “the tribe whose historic involvement in sexual freedom goes far beyond the passive acquiescence implied by ‘letting'”?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Because people who fight long and hard to give other people the right to (vote/work/speak freely/screw freely/go to college/whatever) tend to be either offended by or dismissive of anyone who responds with “meh, thanks I guess, but I don’t wanna”.

            Partly this, but mostly because the Overton window for socially-acceptable behaviour isn’t usually very wide. If a behaviour becomes normalised, not carrying out that behaviour comes to seem abnormal.

        • Protagoras says:

          Some feminists are also prudes, while some are not. The feminists who are also prudes say a number of things about modern sexual liberalism with which non-prude feminists disagree.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Though not very loudly, or at any point where it would actually matter. (And the ones who do object meaningfully get read out of feminism.)

          • Protagoras says:

            I encounter plenty of sex-positive feminists. Of course, I’m sympathetic to feminism; if you are not, another thing I’ve certainly noticed among feminists is a tendency to close ranks against hostile outsiders, so perhaps that’s why you haven’t encountered much of their criticism of one another.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            if you are not, another thing I’ve certainly noticed among feminists is a tendency to close ranks against hostile outsiders,

            Is this universal? I know there are members of my tribe I really don’t like, but I’ll still close ranks if someone is attacking them or trying to drive a wedge between us. I recognize divide-and-conquer and I don’t trust you.

          • Protagoras says:

            I expect it is universal, or nearly so, but nobody seems to take it into account when they make claims about “everybody in that faction is advocating extreme thing X, because a couple of members say X and none of the others contradict them!” I just mentioned that it is true about feminists because they’re the group under discussion, and because of personal experience of it being so strikingly different talking to feminists privately or in entirely feminist groups as opposed to listening to (the same) feminists talking in public where they think enemies might be about.

      • albertborrow says:

        Then what is objectification about? I hear people making a stir about comic books that depict women in explicit poses, or video games that have female characters in erotic positions, and it’s almost always met with antipathy. Not to say it’s always about fictional depictions of women. So what’s the deal – there’s somehow a difference between a caste of men rigidly enforcing sexual ideals and a caste of women rigidly enforcing sexual ideals?

        Not that this is about refuting objectification. (the second link above is a top source on that. The question is, which hypothesis is right? (EDIT: or, because I left this out, is there a mix of correctness?)

        • Iain says:

          I suppose comic book tits kind of look like modern sexual liberalism, if you squint? I was thinking more along the lines of the pill, decreased stigma surrounding premarital sex, and so on — that is, the parts that involve female control of their own sexuality.

          From that standpoint, the feminist argument against objectification in, say, comic books is simply that it does not represent female control of their own sexuality. It is, after all, generally not women drawing those pictures — it’s men, using women as objects for sexual gratification. In comics in particular, it is often accused of being negatively associated with actual character development. As discussed in your second link, there is also a concern (more relevant in other media than comic books) that the relentless social pressure for women to be “sexy” is itself a subtle but effective mechanism for controlling women’s sexuality.

          • Well... says:

            I’m not clear on how decreasing the stigma on premarital sex got to be synonymous with females’ control of their own sexuality.

            If I want to have sex with a woman but I can’t unless I marry her first, that gives her a lot of control, especially if she knows the same arrangement would be true of any other woman I turned to. Whereas, if she knows I can just go get laid by the next woman if she turns me down, she would feel more pressure to put out even if she didn’t want to.

            Now it’s true that it also means the woman can’t just have sex with me without marrying me first either, but it seems like in the “control over sex”=capital model, in the big scheme of things that works out better for women anyway.

          • Iain says:

            I’m not clear on how decreasing the stigma on premarital sex got to be synonymous with females’ control of their own sexuality.

            Because it turns out that a lot of women like to have sex without getting married first?

            The idea that women had more power to make sexual decisions when they were punished for certain choices (sometimes quite harshly) is a clever bit of contrarianism, but doesn’t seem to correspond with reality. It’s not like there was some bygone golden age where women presented a unified front and no man could have sex outside of marriage. It remains the case that any individual woman can refuse to have sex with any individual man until he commits to marriage; the fact that relatively few women do so is a pretty strong indication of where their priorities lie.

          • Well... says:

            Because it turns out that a lot of women like to have sex without getting married first?

            Which is why I said:

            Now it’s true that it also means the woman can’t just have sex with me without marrying me first either, but it seems like in the “control over sex”=capital model, in the big scheme of things that works out better for women anyway.

            Which reminds me, do feminists ever take stock once in a while of their own victories? I don’t mean political victories, but actual victories for women: “Are women better off now that _____?” type questions.

          • Iain says:

            Which is, in turn, why I dedicated the remainder of my post to responding to that argument. Would it have helped if I had italicized “a lot” to indicate emphasis?

            As for your second question: I feel confident in saying “yes” regardless, but is there a particular ____ that you are thinking of?

          • Aapje says:

            @Well

            Which reminds me, do feminists ever take stock once in a while of their own victories? I don’t mean political victories, but actual victories for women: “Are women better off now that _____?” type questions.

            I’m sure they would if they actually had victories to present on that front. Unfortunately for them, the last decades have had declining female happiness.

          • Randy M says:

            @Aapje: Are you saying Feminists have been unable to enact social or legal changes, or that there have been no social or legal changes which in retrospect have improved the happiness or well being of women?

          • Iain says:

            @Aapje: Outsourcing my reply to a couple of posts from Language Log. Long story short: “the effect under discussion is a shift of a few percentage points, mostly accomplished by shifting the opinions of around 5 women in a hundred from ‘very happy’ to ‘pretty happy'”. Given the enormous bounty of alternative explanations, I don’t think feminists have much defending to do.

            My personal favourite explanation, which I have just pulled out of my ass: if you look at the figure in my first link, you can see that a significant portion of the female decline since the 1970 is due to an abnormally high peak just before 1975. What else happened just before 1975? Well, Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Maybe they were all just really happy about it! (This is not a serious suggestion; among other things, it would predict a similar spike in 1992 for Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which does not occur. But I think it’s at least as reasonable as looking at that graph as proof that feminism has failed.)

          • Aapje says:

            @Randy M

            They clearly were successful in achieving social or legal changes. Under one popular measurement of ‘better off’ (self-reported happiness), this doesn’t seem to have resulted in improvements, but rather the opposite.

            Of course, one doesn’t have to use this metric (or even have to care about whether women are better off, one can simply favor an outcome regardless of whether it makes people happy).

            And if one does, the conclusion isn’t necessarily that patriarchy is better than feminist equality, but can just as easily be that feminists are doing equality wrong.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            OK, let’s assume that women’s happiness could have just held steady.

            Shouldn’t women’s happiness have gone up a lot if feminists were correct about men oppressing women, men being singularly privileges and all that jazz?

            The outcomes look a lot more compatible with the skeptics who argue that men and women both had/have highly restricted gender roles with no gender having an obviously better deal.

          • Iain says:

            @Aapje: Let’s flip this around. Why don’t you tell me which major victories feminism has won since 1975 (on a level equivalent to female suffrage or Roe v. Wade) that you think should have increased women’s happiness.

            Aggregate measures of self-reported happiness are known to be difficult to explain. You may have heard of this guy, Scott Alexander, who has written several posts about it. Look at the graph in this one. Mexico and Nigeria have seen the largest increase in happiness; Taiwan and China are at the bottom of the list. The lesson to be drawn here is not that we should all start emulating Mexico and Nigeria, or make sure that we leave the word “China” out of the name of our country. The lesson is that this whole question is complicated, and attempts to use this sort of data to score cheap points should not be taken seriously.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It remains the case that any individual woman can refuse to have sex with any individual man until he commits to marriage; the fact that relatively few women do so is a pretty strong indication of where their priorities lie.

            Or else that the social pressure is making them do it. How many feminists have you seen saying “Any individual woman can decide to do a career in science; the fact that relatively few women do so is a pretty strong indication that they don’t want to”?

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            There has been a huge increase in education results for women, giving women far greater options.

            PS. There is no objective way to compare this in importance to female suffrage or Roe v. Wade; you can’t even compare the two meaningfully (how much Roe v Wades is 1 suffrage worth? 2 congresses worth of paper? Or 5 football fields?).

          • Iain says:

            @The original Mr. X: Feminists who make claims about social pressure in (for example) science generally point to evidence that supports those claims. Would you care to point to similar evidence about how dismayed women are that marriage is no longer a mandatory prerequisite for socially acceptable sex?

            @Aapje: The conclusion of Scott’s piece that I linked to is that happiness and economic success are remarkably uncorrelated. More importantly, you seem to be ignoring my central point, which is that basing an argument on this sort of data is an exercise in futility. Correlation does not imply causation. We can tell each other just-so stories about these numbers all day, and at the end of the day all we will have learned is what sorts of stories the other person likes telling.

          • Moon says:

            Feminism was successfully stopped in some areas, though not all, by the establishment that didn’t want women to have equal rights and had the power to block them. I have a friend who is a female industrial engineer. She tells me that saying you are a feminist in the business world is usually like wearing a sign that says “Harrass me, don’t listen to me, don’t promote me, never give me a raise.”

            The big boss man doesn’t want anybody to be feminists, and so women who work under him (hopefully not literally) say they are not feminists. And then they start to believe themselves.

            There’s a poem;

            “Black may be beautiful.
            And tan may be grand.
            But white is the color
            Of the big boss man.”

            It applies to gender relations also. Bosses in workplaces can get away with a ton of abusive behaviors toward everyone of any race or gender. And people who want the job, just put up with it.

            Almost no workplace is anything like the very few, very expensive universities where extreme and crazy political correctness runs rampant. Right of Center people look at those very few universities and get all scared and angry. But there is the whole rest of the world out there.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Feminists who make claims about social pressure in (for example) science generally point to evidence that supports those claims.

            Generally, that “evidence” amounts to “there are fewer women in science, therefore discrimination”. If revealed preferences aren’t a valid guide to women’s true desires in this field, there’s no reason to treat them as valid in any other.

          • Moon says:

            There’s that old saying that men won’t buy the cow if they can get the milk for free. But they also won’t buy one cow, if they can get some other cow’s milk for free. If girls want a boyfriend now, unless she and he or in some strict religion, they maybe she has to have sex with him. That didn’t used to be so.

            I don’t know how you find out which of the 2 situations women would prefer. Even if you took a survey, the woman would have to imagine some unfamiliar time when women didn’t have to have sex to have a boyfriend, and then compare it to the current real world. It seems unlikely that someone could imagine something so different from current reality, and then accurately compare their feelings in that situation to their feelings now.

          • Iain says:

            I can find personal testimony from women who’ve left various STEM fields because they’ve found the environment hostile. Can you find similar testimony from women who are really, really upset that they can choose to have sex outside of marriage because it weakens their bargaining position?

          • Randy M says:

            You haven’t seen such accounts? Women recounting dissatisfaction with a pervasive hook-up culture, but being unable to secure a more traditional boyfriend because so many are so free with sex and the expectation is that is should come without obligation or commitment? I have, though I don’t have them at hand, probably googling hook-up culture will get you several. Maybe try the blog “hooking-up smart” iirc.

            Of course, these won’t be framed as “We really made a big mistake removing all social pressure from women, didn’t we?” but they are the reaction the emergence of issues older systems keep down.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I can find personal testimony from women who’ve left various STEM fields because they’ve found the environment hostile. Can you find similar testimony from women who are really, really upset that they can choose to have sex outside of marriage because it weakens their bargaining position?

            I don’t think I’ve heard anybody use your phrasing, but I’ve come across the sentiment that “I don’t really want to have sex with my boyfriend, but I feel like I have to because otherwise he’ll dump me for someone who will” plenty of times. I’ve also come across the sentiment that people who don’t have sex until marriage are either fanatical weirdos or losers who just can’t get laid, and I’d be extremely surprised to discover that such attitudes don’t affect people’s sexual behaviour.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            You haven’t seen such accounts? Women recounting dissatisfaction with a pervasive hook-up culture, but being unable to secure a more traditional boyfriend because so many are so free with sex and the expectation is that is should come without obligation or commitment? I have, though I don’t have them at hand, probably googling hook-up culture will get you several. Maybe try the blog “hooking-up smart” iirc.

            If you want a concrete example, when Jennifer Lawrence’s sex tapes were leaked on the internet, she said in an interview that she felt she had to do them because otherwise her boyfriend might dump her for someone else. If someone like Jennifer Lawrence is feeling this sort of pressure, I can’t imagine that normal people who don’t have her looks or status have it any better.

          • Iain says:

            I was about to write a comment conceding that the Jennifer Lawrence thing was a good counter-example, but then I looked up exactly what she said:

            I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.

            That doesn’t sound like a woman who felt pressured into nude selfies because she couldn’t convince her boyfriend to marry her. It sounds like she is a woman who spends a lot of time away from home filming, who wanted to maintain her sex life with her boyfriend while she was gone. The exact same thing could have happened in an alternate universe where she and her boyfriend were married.

            More generally: again, it’s not like there was ever a mythical golden era where women were unified in demanding marriage before sex. It’s always been possible for men to pressure their girlfriends into sex; here’s an example from 1681. There has never really been a strong social stigma against men sleeping around; the difference these days is just that the women they sleep with are no longer considered damaged goods.

            HBC and I had a discussion about shaming people for being virgins in a previous thread. I can probably dig it up for you, if you like. My contention is that there is indeed social stigma against asexuals and virgins, but it’s not reasonable to lay that at the feet of feminism, given that most of the people arguing in favour of destigmatizing asexuality are feminist or feminist-adjacent.

          • Why don’t you tell me which major victories feminism has won since 1975 (on a level equivalent to female suffrage or Roe v. Wade) that you think should have increased women’s happiness.

            This seems to assume that the reason women would be happy is because they are looking at victories. But the point of victories isn’t to be admired, it’s to change things. If female suffrage made the world better for women, the result should be a pattern of continued change thereafter. The point of voting isn’t that voting is fun, it’s that it lets you push the legal/political system in you direction.

          • Aapje says:

            In my opinion, mainstream feminism has actually become far too pre-occupied with making women happy, but not in a rational way, but rather by just assuming that any demand by a woman or any change that favors women in 1 limited way is legit (even if it harms them more in the long term).

            The result is that I can give tons of examples of obviously anti-egalitarian demands by feminists, as well feminists choosing the side of female criminals reflexively.

            The tragedy is that this has resulted in neither more happiness for women; nor real equality. The majority of Westerners reject feminism, even as they overwhelmingly support equality, showing that they also consider feminism a failure on this front.

            We need an alternative.

          • Iain says:

            @David Friedman: If that were true, then everybody’s happiness should be monotonically increasing in countries with universal suffrage, which is obviously not the case.

          • Spookykou says:

            Doesn’t all of this assume that the ‘point’ of feminism is to increase happiness? Happiness is very confusing and seems to be largely culturally based(Why is south america so damn happy?!), it seems perfectly reasonable to me that happiness is orthogonal to the kinds of gains that feminism has been achieving for women, and I don’t see why that should discounts those gains as meaningless. Maybe happiness as a metric is really bad at measuring ‘sense that I am in control of my life’ but people still place a very large value on ‘sense that I am in control of my life’ and that is what feminism has been achieving.

            See all arguments against wire heading as arguments for feminism that doesn’t optimize for happiness.

          • Silder says:

            Maybe happiness as a metric is really bad at measuring ‘sense that I am in control of my life’ but people still place a very large value on ‘sense that I am in control of my life’ and that is what feminism has been achieving.

            In human evolutionary context a woman “in control of [her] life” is in a horrifically dangerous state which would tend to induce panic rather than happiness.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            That doesn’t sound like a woman who felt pressured into nude selfies because she couldn’t convince her boyfriend to marry her. It sounds like she is a woman who spends a lot of time away from home filming, who wanted to maintain her sex life with her boyfriend while she was gone. The exact same thing could have happened in an alternate universe where she and her boyfriend were married.

            It couldn’t have happened in an alternative universe where women only ever let their husbands take pictures of them in the nude, though, because then Lawrence wouldn’t have had to worry about her hubby looking at nude pics of other women instead.

            More generally: again, it’s not like there was ever a mythical golden era where women were unified in demanding marriage before sex.

            So? Far fewer women were willing to have sex before marriage, and that did make a difference. Basically you’re fallaciously assuming that a situation with a few defectors is the same as a situation with lots of defectors, which quite obviously isn’t the case.

          • Aapje says:

            @Spookykou

            Please see my post where I argued that feminists fail on both the metric of advocating equality as on policies that make women happier.

            Of course, one can argue that they are really a women’s advocacy group (or a cult) whose end goals are whatever delusions are popular among their adherents (or who plant delusions coming from unscientific and irrational theories); but they tend to claim to be much more than this.

          • Iain says:

            @The original Mr. X: Are you actually endorsing an alternate universe in which porn does not exist? I thought that feminists were supposed to be the starry-eyed dreamers with no grasp of human nature.

            We obviously have no way of examining alternate universe Jennifer Lawrence. I think it is quite plausible that, even in the pornography-free universe in which her husband dutifully submitted to marriage, she would still have sent nudes. Shockingly enough, concerns about infidelity are not the only reason that people take naked selfies. Consider that the only part of the experience for which Jennifer Lawrence has acknowledged any regret whatsoever is the part where her pictures were stolen and plastered all over the internet.

            Let’s flip this around. In the past, when women engaging in premarital sex were heavily stigmatized and their ability to coerce men into marriage was at its peak, women were still having premarital sex left and right. Wikipedia cites a study in which 61% of men born before 1910 admitted to having premarital sex. Only 12% of women admitted the same, but even if you want to ignore the large chunk of the remaining 88% who were lying through their teeth, 12% is still a lot more than “a few defectors”. In other words, the mechanism you are supporting didn’t work: more than half of all men still managed to find a woman who was down for premarital sex. Why should I believe you that it would work now, if it didn’t work then?

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            more than half of all men still managed to find a woman who was down for premarital sex

            Which includes prostitutes…

          • Iain says:

            @Aapje: … who have been around since the dawn of human civilization and show no signs of going away any time soon?

            The original Mr. X’s argument was that, in the absence of modern sexual liberalism, men would not be able to access sex without conceding to marriage. The existence of prostitutes is an argument against that position, not for it.

          • Randy M says:

            My impression was that seeking prostitution used to have more social disapproval than it does now, but I don’t know if this is true or not. Anyone know?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Are you actually endorsing an alternate universe in which porn does not exist? I thought that feminists were supposed to be the starry-eyed dreamers with no grasp of human nature.

            I’ve no idea what it means to “endorse an alternative universe”.

            Let’s flip this around. In the past, when women engaging in premarital sex were heavily stigmatized and their ability to coerce men into marriage was at its peak, women were still having premarital sex left and right. Wikipedia cites a study in which 61% of men born before 1910 admitted to having premarital sex. Only 12% of women admitted the same, but even if you want to ignore the large chunk of the remaining 88% who were lying through their teeth, 12% is still a lot more than “a few defectors”. In other words, the mechanism you are supporting didn’t work: more than half of all men still managed to find a woman who was down for premarital sex. Why should I believe you that it would work now, if it didn’t work then?

            How many of those women were planning to get married when they had sex? In 19th-century England among certain social classes, it was common for couples to get engaged, have sex, and then get married once the woman was pregnant, in order to make sure that the couple was physically capable of conceiving children. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing was true of America; and of course, such behaviour hardly counts as defection from the “Marry if you want sex” rule.

            We obviously have no way of examining alternate universe Jennifer Lawrence. I think it is quite plausible that, even in the pornography-free universe in which her husband dutifully submitted to marriage, she would still have sent nudes. Shockingly enough, concerns about infidelity are not the only reason that people take naked selfies.

            Her explicit reasoning was “either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you”. In a world without easily-accessible porn, this obviously wouldn’t apply, and there wouldn’t have been the same pressure on her to send nude pictures of herself. The possibility that an alt-universe Jennifer Lawrence with a different set of motives might have sent them for different reasons is irrelevant.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The original Mr. X’s argument was that, in the absence of modern sexual liberalism, men would not be able to access sex without conceding to marriage. The existence of prostitutes is an argument against that position, not for it.

            I don’t think I’ve ever said that it was impossible for men to have sex without marriage pre-sexual liberalism; I said that sexual liberalism resulted in women being pressured to have sex outside of marriage. The latter doesn’t require the former to be true.

          • Spookykou says:

            @aapje

            All I am saying is that happiness statistics are not great, for multiple reasons, and the fact that women today are not on net happier than they were in the more repressive days of yore, is not convincing evidence that the efforts to make society less repressive have no/negative total value.

            First, happiness is a bad metric because it is notoriously resistant to change, see Iain’s link. It is probably heavily influenced by culture. I also think it is important to disentangle feminist achievements in terms of law from their achievements in terms of culture.

            Second, happiness is a bad metric because the vast majority of people reject wire heading, so appeals to happiness optimization don’t work in general, things like self determination (something that you seem to agree feminism has improved for women) are given value in the face of negatively impacting happiness so I see no reason to not accept this as a valid goal for the feminist movement.

            Finally, this is all orthogonal to ‘equality’ so the particular failures that you think modern feminism have in terms of promoting equality, don’t really have any baring that I can see.

            For the same reason that I reject being forcibly wire headed, I support the efforts by women to unwire head themselves.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            It’s amusing/sad that you thought that I was mistakenly picking your side.

            I merely saw an error and pointed it out. Whose position that strengthens is irrelevant to the issue of whether it was wrong or not.

            @Randy M

            I think that the answer is: it’s complex. I think that past societies had very mixed feelings about it.

          • Aapje says:

            @Spooky

            For the same reason that I reject being forcibly wire headed, I support the efforts by women to unwire head themselves.

            Sure, but I don’t think that the narrative that men have it made and mimicking men is automatically good leads to women unwire heading themselves.

            Replacing one lie with another is not necessarily progress.

          • Spookykou says:

            By self determination, I mean things like

            There has been a huge increase in education results for women, giving women far greater options.

            While I think it is possible, in theory, to give women more self determination while not giving them the kinds of self determination that men had that they didn’t, I have no idea what that looks like exactly, and again, if the goal is self determination, I have no reason to believe that giving them the kind men had is ‘wrong’.

          • Iain says:

            @Aapje: I am grateful that I have been able to entertain you / make you sad. I admit that I am somewhat confused by your ability to find “errors” in my post that support my side of the argument, but I bow to your evidently superior intellect.

            @The original Mr. X:

            I’ve no idea what it means to “endorse an alternative universe”.

            You claimed that sexual liberalism is bad, and that your alternative system is better. I pointed out that your example of Jennifer Lawrence did not support your case, because it could have happened just as easily if she and her boyfriend were married. You replied that it would not have happened if men were not able to access porn. I asked you whether you were seriously proposing a system that would be, if not invalidated, then at least seriously weakened by easy access to porn. So? Are you?

            How many of those women were planning to get married when they had sex? In 19th-century England among certain social classes, it was common for couples to get engaged, have sex, and then get married once the woman was pregnant, in order to make sure that the couple was physically capable of conceiving children. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing was true of America; and of course, such behaviour hardly counts as defection from the “Marry if you want sex” rule.

            I don’t know. You tell me — how many of those women were planning to get married? Surely you are not basing your argument on your own unsubstantiated assumptions of what the world used to be like without actually doing any research? I’ll start: “By the start of the 19th century, [British] social convention prescribed that brides be virgins at marriage.”

            I don’t think I’ve ever said that it was impossible for men to have sex without marriage pre-sexual liberalism; I said that sexual liberalism resulted in women being pressured to have sex outside of marriage. The latter doesn’t require the former to be true.

            You haven’t claimed that it was impossible for men to have sex without marriage, but your argument doesn’t make any sense unless it is at the very least quite difficult. You have indeed argued that, under modern sexual liberalism, women are pressured into extramarital sex. What you have not done is demonstrate that this is unique to modern sexual liberalism (because it isn’t), nor that the significant gains for women who actually do want to have extramarital sex without being ostracized are outweighed by a small reduction in women’s ability to deflect that pressure (because they aren’t).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Randy M:

            I don’t know about attitudes towards men frequenting prostitutes in the olden days. However, one major difference was the prevalence of prostitution. A man (in a Western country, at least) 100 years ago would be more likely than a man today to frequent prostitutes, and far more likely to have his first sexual experience with a prostitute.

            The major difference is that women now face less social sanction and fewer biological consequences (birth control and abortion are more effective and more available, antibiotics mean that there are fewer STDs that are a really big deal, etc) for premarital sex (and, fewer biological consequences for sex in marriage – after all, the Pill was available to married women before it was available to unmarried women).

            A woman now who has sex with a few different guys is far less likely to end up pregnant or incurably diseased than a hundred years ago and is considered more respectable than a woman a hundred years ago who had premarital sex once, got pregnant, got the clap, was disgraced, etc. The obvious consequence is that women are more willing to have premarital sex (with or without a relationship) for free, meaning there is less demand for professionals.

            I would guess that men who frequent prostitutes today are probably viewed as being losers in a way men who did so a hundred years ago weren’t. The obvious implication is “he can’t get it for free.” I would also guess that there’s a lot less male-male prostitution, especially “rough trade” type stuff, going on nowadays than even relatively recently, because homosexuality is far more tolerated – a guy who wants to have sex with another guy is way less likely to have to pay telegram boys for sex or whatever. There’s probably never been much of a market for women paying men for sex. I have no idea if there’s a market for female-female sex, now or in the past.

          • If that were true, then everybody’s happiness should be monotonically increasing in countries with universal suffrage

            I don’t think so.

            Suppose the alternative is that only right handed people can vote, to pick one subgroup. They maximize their utility at an average of 800 utiles, pushing the left handers down to 400–for simplicity assume equal numbers of each. When you shift to universal suffrage the utility of left handers goes up, that of right handers goes down. No obvious reason why the average has to be above 600.

            For a clearer case, suppose the initial voters are all people with a high marginal utility of income, nonvoters low. Now it is quite likely that the shift lowers average utility.

          • Iain says:

            @David Friedman: But that’s inconsistent with your earlier prediction. If you think that utility is a zero sum (or even negative sum?) game played between rival parties, then giving one group suffrage would not trigger “continued change thereafter”. The balance would shift to a new equilibrium and then stop.

            Note that the happiness data in Aapje’s study only goes back to 1970. Women’s suffrage, conversely, occurred in 1920. Even if happiness were, as you postulate, a zero-sum game between men and women, surely 50 years is long enough to reach an equilibrium.

            (Edit to add: also, I don’t think the data supports the idea that happiness is a zero-sum game between rival parties, but I admit that I am not an expert in the field.)

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Iain:

            You claimed that sexual liberalism is bad, and that your alternative system is better. I pointed out that your example of Jennifer Lawrence did not support your case, because it could have happened just as easily if she and her boyfriend were married. You replied that it would not have happened if men were not able to access porn. I asked you whether you were seriously proposing a system that would be, if not invalidated, then at least seriously weakened by easy access to porn. So? Are you?

            Given that I’m not “proposing” any “system”, whatever that means, I have no idea what point you think you’re making.

            I don’t know. You tell me — how many of those women were planning to get married?

            You’re the one using the survey to back up your argument, the onus is on you to show that it does, in fact, back up your argument.

            Surely you are not basing your argument on your own unsubstantiated assumptions of what the world used to be like without actually doing any research? I’ll start: “By the start of the 19th century, [British] social convention prescribed that brides be virgins at marriage.”

            No, I’m not, I’m basing it on the source of the study you cited a few posts up: “In Western cultures, what seems to have changed most in recent history is the societal standard for what makes premarital sex most acceptable (or least unacceptable). In earlier, more restrictive periods, the commitment to marry legitimized a couple’s sexual activities before the formal ceremony. Sexual involvement may not have been encouraged in couples who were engaged to be married, but it was tolerated to a greater degree than if the couple had not committed to marrying each other.” Do you now wish us to understand that the source for the study you cited is unreliable?

            You haven’t claimed that it was impossible for men to have sex without marriage, but your argument doesn’t make any sense unless it is at the very least quite difficult. You have indeed argued that, under modern sexual liberalism, women are pressured into extramarital sex. What you have not done is demonstrate that this is unique to modern sexual liberalism (because it isn’t), nor that the significant gains for women who actually do want to have extramarital sex without being ostracized are outweighed by a small reduction in women’s ability to deflect that pressure (because they aren’t).

            It doesn’t need to be unique to modern sexual liberalism, just more common. As for your latter claims, given that early sexual activity is negatively correlated with mental health, and given that couples who have premarital sex are more likely to get divorced, what exactly makes you so confident that encouraging these things counts as a “significant gain”?

          • Spookykou says:

            Given that I’m not “proposing” any “system”, whatever that means, I have no idea what point you think you’re making.

            Anecdote, but I also interpreted what you said as proposing a counterfactual or hypothetically different world from our own, this is a pretty normal way to argue points like this.

            You are supposing, that a world without modern sexual liberalism would be different from our world in some ways, this ‘world without modern sexual liberalism’ is the proposed system that Iain is talking about.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Anecdote, but I also interpreted what you said as proposing a counterfactual or hypothetically different world from our own, this is a pretty normal way to argue points like this.
            You are supposing, that a world without modern sexual liberalism would be different from our world in some ways, this ‘world without modern sexual liberalism’ is the proposed system that Iain is talking about.

            Well, yes, in a world in which pornography was harder to get, “I have to do this or he’ll look at porn” would be less of a factor. Though if Iain’s really going to deny that, I suspect bad faith on his part.

          • Iain says:

            @The original Mr. X: What Spookykou said. You are saying that modern sexual liberalism is bad, and that you prefer a system in which sex outside of marriage (or betrothal, if you like) is heavily discouraged. In defense of this position, you have repeatedly made arguments that depend on the absence of easily accessible pornography. This is the third time that I have asked you: are you seriously defending the proposition that we should move away from modern sexual liberalism and adopt a different system, while simultaneously acknowledging that (many of) the arguments for that alternative system require men to have a hard time finding porn? I do not think this is a particularly confusing question.

            You furthermore appear to be confused about our relative burdens with respect to evidence. You are making the highly unintuitive claim that shaming and ostracizing women who engage in extramarital sex actually leaves women better off. You haven’t engaged at all with the harms of the shame and ostracism, which are a pretty big issue to be sweeping under the rug: the Magdalene Laundries, which I mentioned earlier in this thread, are only one example. Instead, you are relying on the idea that, by simply applying enough social pressure, you can make it so hard for men to find sex outside of marriage that they will be forced to submit to the bonds of matrimony. This doesn’t pass the smell test. Prostitution alone makes your argument completely untenable. (Thanks, Aapje!) The rest of the historical record is equally damning.

            You can’t just tell me that premarital sex was frowned upon. I already knew that. You need to show that men had such an incredibly hard time finding sex outside of marriage that the additional bargaining power granted to women outweighed the obvious harms of being (for example) locked up in a convent.

            The statistics on premarital sex and divorce are more complicated than you claim. For example, women with two premarital partners are significantly more likely to get divorced than women with three to nine. Moreover, couples who do not have premarital sex are less likely to get divorced for the very obvious reason that, in modern society, the vast majority of couples who don’t have premarital sex come from strict religious backgrounds where divorce is equally prohibited. That doesn’t mean they are better off; it means that they are more likely to be trapped in loveless marriages with no chance of escape.

            Also, you are drawing the causal arrow between mental health and early sexual activity in the wrong direction.

            Among many other reasons, I am confident that women are better off without being punished for having premarital sex because punishment is generally not considered to be the sort of thing that leaves you better off. (Also, like, sex is fun? And people, including women, like doing it?)

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Iain:

            Huh? You seem to have completely misunderstand my main argument, which is, and always was, that (a) modern women are under social pressure to have sex, and (b) this pressure arose as a result of the sexual revolution. Which, if either, of these propositions do you disagree with?

            Furthermore, I think you’ve got a highly naïve view of how society and social pressure actually works. Societal Overton windows are only so wide, and so, if a particular behaviour becomes normalised, people who don’t participate in it will be seen as weird and abnormal. In other words, the choice isn’t between “A society in which people are free to do what they like” and “A society in which people are pressured not to have sex when they want to.” It’s between “A society in which people are pressured to have sex when they don’t want to” and “A society in which people are pressured not to have sex when they want to,” and I don’t think the superiority of the former over the latter is immediately apparent.

          • Randy M says:

            That doesn’t mean they are better off; it means that they are more likely to be trapped in loveless marriages with no chance of escape.

            More likely to be trapped… perhaps. Trapped by their beliefs, you might say, but actually against their will, in this country at this time, seems unlikely in any significant numbers given that secular divorce is not particularly difficult to have granted.

            Any numbers correlating marital satisfaction and church attendance? It seem you are hypothesizing an inverse relationship; I doubt this is actually the case, but I’ll check out any data you have. (I know it’s hard to find an unbiased source on the matter).

          • Iain says:

            @The original Mr. X: I disagree with B. I think I have been quite clear about that. Women have been pressured to have sex for as long as humans have been having sex. To the extent that women are more pressured to have sex today, it is an inevitable result of removing the massive pressure that previously existed not to have sex. People face more pressure to drink alcohol today than they did during Prohibition; that doesn’t mean that repealing Prohibition was a bad idea.

            The Overton window used to be narrowly focused on sex within marriage. It has now been expanded to a point where premarital sex is acceptable, and at worst premarital abstinence is seen as a bit weird. That seems like a totally reasonable trade-off.

            One difference between “a society in which people are pressured to have sex when they don’t want to” and “a society in which people are pressured not to have sex when they want to” is that the latter can only be sustained via the application of massive amounts of external coercion. The Magdalene Laundries are just the tip of the iceberg; can you point to a single comparable example from sexual liberalism?

            @Randy M: No, I don’t have any sources (beyond anecdotal evidence from observing my girlfriend’s Mormon relatives). I think it’s a real effect, but a small one — it really only affects people on the margin, and there are relatively few people saving sex for marriage anyway. I would expect it to get swamped by the other ways that religion affects happiness. I don’t oppose people saving sex for marriage; I just don’t think that the decreased divorce rate is an obvious advantage. You are probably right that I slightly overstated my case.

          • You are making the highly unintuitive claim that shaming and ostracizing women who engage in extramarital sex actually leaves women better off.

            I don’t know if it is correct, but I don’t find it highly unintuitive, perhaps because I’m an economist. It looks like a straightforward cartel strategy.

            Suppose there are six companies selling steel. In a world without anti-trust or restrictions on contracts in restraint of trade, they agree to reduce their output by ten percent in order to force up the price of steel. To enforce that agreement, they also agree that any company that produces more than its quota will owe a fine to the other companies.

            Is the claim that doing this makes the companies better off highly unintuitive?

            The logic of a sexual cartel would seem to be the same. If most women are unwilling to sleep with a man unless betrothed or married to him, most men have to pay the price of a long term commitment in order to get sex, which they very much want.

            Would it seem more intuitive if I pointed to an old journal article by Yellin and Ackerlof, both prominent economists, explaining the sharp rise in unmarried births subsequent to changes that made non-marital sex safer for women (legal abortion and improved contraception) on essentially those grounds? Women wanted children and could no longer get men to agree to support them due to the competition from other women willing to have sex without such an agreement.

            Akerlof and Yellin, “New Mothers, Not Married: Technology shock, the demise of shotgun marriage, and the increase in out-of-wedlock births” The Brookings Review, Fall 1996 Vol. 14 No. 4, Pages 18-21.

            Also see George A. Akerlof, Janet L. Yellin, J. L., & Michael L. Katz, “An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States,” 111 Q. J. Econ. 277 (1996)

          • Iain says:

            @David Friedman: “Unintuitive” is not the same as “wrong”. The result in the papers you mention is certainly unintuitive (and interesting!), but that obviously doesn’t mean it’s incorrect.

            That said, sometimes an unintuitive claim is unintuitive because it is wrong. The more implausible a claim, the more rigorous the evidence necessary to support it. If I say “murder is bad”, then you will probably nod your head and move on. If I say “murder is good”, you will presumably expect an explanation. That’s why I spent the rest of the paragraph you quoted laying out what I see as the outstanding flaws in the case presented by the original Mr. X.

            (The cartel comparison seems imprecise; social ostracism, unlike cartel enforcement, is imposed in large part by people outside the cartel.)

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The bit about shame, ostracism, Magdalene Laundries, etc., basically just boils down to “But people punished defectors.” Well, yes they did, but since there are lots of situations where punishing defectors leads to a better result overall, I don’t see how this makes the claim particularly unintuitive.

          • John Nerst says:

            @Iain (and others)

            Differences in intellectual background, personal experiences and temperament makes people vastly different in what they consider intuitive. For example: I see the fact-value distinction as the most obvious thing in the world and don’t understand how people can be moral realists.

            In this case (and others like it), if both sides tacitly agree with the reasonable rule that the person making an unituitive claim has the burden of proof they both think it’s the other who has to prove their claim (see: any argument about the existence of God, the reality of evolution, any social justice claim etc.). This typically stays hidden because they don’t realize its source, leading to a lot of anger and frustration.

            In short: people don’t agree on what is intuitive. This causes problems.

          • Aapje says:

            As a data point on how hard it can be for (some) men to have access to sex in patriarchal societies, let me submit the evidence of ‘bacha bazi.’ This refers to boy sex slaves in Afghanistan, which is a tradition that seems to have arisen because the Afghans were very successful in suppressing premarital sex and prostitutes.

        • Vermillion says:

          Woah woah, more important question about that second link, the very first line of the abstract:

          The objectification of women in the American mass media has a long sorted history.

          I have always and forever thought the term to use when describing something that’s been happening for a time which you find disagreeable is a ‘long sordid history’. What the hell does sorted even mean there? That they can find many categorizations of objectification? Binders full of women?

          • Randy M says:

            Your phrasing is common, as is “long storied.” I’m not sure which predates.

          • Moon says:

            What does sordid mean there?

            If you really want to know– and I would be very surprised if you do, take a look at some of the books on women’s history.

            https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=women%27s+history

          • Vermillion says:

            @Moon

            Sordid meaning, “involving ignoble actions and motives; arousing moral distaste and contempt.” and also “dirty or squalid” seems a lot more appropriate to talking about something like objectifying women (which obviously they regard as a bad thing) vs. sorted. Which seemed pretty out of place to me and made me think that maybe it was a sort of linguistic drift from some ancestral homophone.

            A quick browse of google’s Ngram viewer reveals that ‘long storied’ has a longer but shallower history than ‘long sordid’ and that ‘long sorted’ is a pretty recent creation.

            I’ll be honest, I’m not uninterested in the topic of women’s history but I’ve got limited time to read for pleasure and there a couple other books in the queue already. If there’s one in particular you’d like to recommend though I’ll try and check it out.

          • Moon says:

            The Neapolitan novels are the best thing since sliced bread. Amazing account of life among the thugs. The novels are incredibly well written, realistic, psychologically accurate, and educational– about Italy during that time period, about the mob and the life of the women and families of the mobsters, about the other people living in a land where mobsters rule. And about power politics in general.

            I started the first one and couldn’t put it– or the others– down.

          • Vermillion says:

            100% agree, I’m only about midway through the second one and my god can she write.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            As a British person*, I have long been curious about this. In my mental model of standard American pronunciation, there is no difference between ‘sordid’ and ‘sorted’. And yet most people don’t seem to make that sort of mistake in writing. Is there actually a subtle difference in pronunciation that is too small for me (being used to the unambiguous difference between the voiced ‘d’ and the unvoiced ‘t’) to pick up?

            *As a Scottish person, I will admit to also being slightly baffled at most of the rest of the English-speaking world apparently not being bothered that they have no way to distinguish in speech between ‘witch’ and ‘which’, ‘Wales’ and ‘whales’ etc, but that’s a losing battle even within the UK 🙂

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Winter Shaker

            In the particular case of “sordid” vs “sorted”, they sound the same when unemphasized (allowing the separate voiced and voiceless stops to become the same tap), but “sordid” (when it is spoken) is rarely spoken unemphasized; it’s usually enunciated strongly and clearly to convey disgust.

            (note, not an actual linguist).

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Winter Shaker

            For this American English speaker, the difference between “sorted” and “sordid”, at least when not emphasized, is not in the t/d (which are both flapped), but in the following vowel, as I lack the “weak vowel merger“: unstressed i, and the vowel in the plural suffix -es (and ‘s after silent e), is pronounced as a vowel that, while still more open and central than the short/lax i, is still more close than the “schwa” of (most) reduced e,a,o; this closer sound is sometimes called “schwi“.

            And as for your footnote, linguists call that the wine–whine merger, and has been spreading for centuries (and you’re right, it’s pretty much won outside Scotland and Ireland). It can be seen as an extention of the cluster reduction process that earlier eliminated the initial /hl/, /hr/ and /hn/ clusters from Middle English (hlāf, hring and hnutu to “loaf”, “ring” and “nut”).

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Then what is objectification about?

          Easy. There is a strong human urge to censor and control what other people are exposed to, especially in relation to sexuality. Religion has declined in power in most Western nations, and no longer can be successfully used as a justification to censor and control. This left a wide-open space in the market.

          And so, enter “objectification” and friends.

      • Anonymousse says:

        If someone believes that women wield power through sex, increased promiscuity could reduce women’s power and “reinforce submission”.

        Or perhaps they believe that increased promiscuity leads to an expectation that women be more sexually active, resulting in a feedback loop that removes their agency to choose to be more chaste.

        I get the distinct feeling that I am putting words in someone else’s mouth. I have also only focused on the “more sex” part of sexual liberation, though maybe that’s a key part of the argument in favor of reinforcing subjugation.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Possibly relevant: I’ve seen a claim that the 60’s theory of sexual liberation added up to women being obligated to be sexually convenient for men.

    • In pre-pill societies without abortion and no EBT, how rational was it for a parent to exclude almost any male contact from their daughter until there was a somewhat stable male with a stable family in the area to marry her? Kids under the age of 2 need to be watched close to all the time so they don’t accidentally kill themselves.

      Since men don’t get pregnant, that level of control might be different.

      • Aapje says:

        @TheBearsHaveArrived

        Where and when are you claiming this happened? Because even in Afghanistan, prepubescent girls play outside, unsupervised.

        Keep in mind that women/girls tend to marry fairly to extremely young in these societies.

        • >prepubescent

          And there is a very big difference in the behavior of kids under three, and those above 6 yet under 11.

          • Aapje says:

            Can you explain your point more clearly, because I’m very confused what you are referring to.

            Perhaps I misunderstood your comment, but you seemed to insinuate that girls would be chaperoned from birth to marriage. AFAIK, this was not common in the West in the past; nor is it common in the most traditional societies today.

          • Randy M says:

            He was saying that because children require supervision, a family would have to be careful that their daughters did not make any, whereas sons might not require such supervision later, as their offspring would be someone else’s problem.

          • Aapje says:

            Age of puberty has been going down, so lets assume that the age of onset of puberty for girls was about 12 in pre-pill societies. Then “how rational was it for a parent to exclude almost any male contact from their daughter until there was a somewhat stable male with a stable family in the area to marry her” refers to the time between age 12 and marriage.

            Well, we know that women in pre-pill societies tend to marry young, often in the range of age 14-18. So then you merely have 2-6 years of extra scrutiny.

            Then the second question is whether this is a great burden/cost. I would argue that these societies would be set up to keep this burden/cost low. For example, if the boys would be made to work the land; while the girls would clean/wash clothes/etc; they would naturally be in their own single-gender and/or family bubble.

            What I often see is that people project modern life on the past and then are confused how they could manage things or why it seemed fair to people back then, not realizing they did more things differently than just the one factiod that one has learned.

            PS. It was hardly perfect anyway, since people did get pregnant outside of marriage and were required to have shotgun marriages or live in shame. I would not have my last name if one of my ancestors had not been an unmarried mother.

          • It somewhat ties in to this post I read a long time ago

            http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=1684

            More or less, I belief a lot of the utility of religion and *some* community heuristics considered to be patriarchal and choice-restricting is some emotional reinforcing of behaviors that aid reproductive capabilities beyond people thinking with mere typical practicality and day to day pleasure principle thinking.

            If, for whatever reason, a community belief that premarital sex(which increases the odds of pregnancy without the resources of two seperate families to aid in offspring rearing) and alcohol and other addictive substance consumption is horrible beyond some mere pragmatic reasons, then some individuals will be more likely to follow those beliefs, and communities that hold those beliefs can outcompete those who don’t.

            Some subset of beliefs considered to be a core feature of patrartical/patrillineal societies are simply rational beliefs taking into account biased human behaviors.

            This can be a risk of not following some “terrible” choice restrictions of conservative societies

            “Based on data gathered from the Australia National Coroners’ Information System, stepchildren under five years of age are two to fifteen times more likely to experience an unintentional fatal injury, especially drowning, than genetic children.”

            “This difference suggests that removing one biological parent from the home does not significantly increase risk to the children, but that adding a nonbiological parent to the home results in a drastic increase in the risk of unintentional fatal injury.[25] Despite the fact that adding a stepparent to the home increases the available resources in terms of supervision in comparison to a single-parent home, risk of unintentional fatal injury still significantly rises”

            Now lets remove antibiotics and knowledge of hygiene from the equation for semi-serious scratches and normal injuries become much more dangerous.

          • Aapje says:

            @TheBearsHaveArrived

            I think that there is a reason why feminism only became a major force after the agrarian/industrial/medical revolution: the deal for men and women greatly changed.

            Before, most people had tough lives where I cannot see how either men and women where obviously better off. For example, men did dangerous work and did the fighting, but women had a large chance to die while giving birth. It seems to me that they tried to make things as fair as possible given biological and other constraints.

            Even so, the the history of feminism shows that it was/is very much an upper class movement, where women in the elite wanted the same as the elite men; but where lower class women had little envy of lower class men (where one can argue that the men thought they had a worse deal, given the many labor revolts at the time, which were mostly by men, even though they didn’t use a gender framing for their struggles).

            My dislike about the feminist ‘patriarchy’ narrative is that it is based on a denial that there were such obvious divisions of labor/risks/etc; but instead, male upsides and female downsides are cherry picked to create a one-sided narrative. A more reasonable narrative incorporates all the upsides and downsides for each gender and examines how reasonable they are in a modern context.

      • Deiseach says:

        In pre-pill societies without abortion

        Various societies did have abortion (using medicinal plants, using surgical techniques, using old wives’ tales e.g. vigorous exercise to induce a miscarriage) and if a pregnancy continued to term there was exposure, abandonment, and plain infanticide. Depending on social class and attitudes, pregnancy outside of marriage might or might not be seen as shameful; there was always a chance that an illegitimate child might be fostered out or even accepted into the mother’s family, and if the mother could get the father to recognise or admit paternity, that the child might have some provision made for them.

        Greek myths have examples where heroes contracted what we would not call marriages or relationships but the children of these unions were considered legitimate; see especially Heracles, where the king of Thespiae gave the reward of sleeping with his fifty daughters, presumably for the very purpose of siring strong grandsons. Myths of other cultures also have similar events where parentage is revealed to be due to the mating of a god and mortal.

        From an Irish legal text (possibly deriving from the 8th century but probably somewhat later) where there are considered to be ten kinds of marriage (in regards to contracts and legal rights of what is due to the parties involved, which includes the families) – as you may see, the possibility of offspring is taken into account:

        (6/8) Union by abduction and union in secret: they have no stock or dry goods to divide on parting, only offspring. If a woman abducted from her family grants property to her partner who has abducted her, that grant is invalid from the point of view of her family and it is thus repaid: it is paid off with half penalty-fine if what was given belonged to the woman; if a third party owns a share in it, it is paid off with full penalty-fine. The same holds good for union by criminal seduction in secret.

        (9) Union by rape or by stealth: they (the partners) possess nothing but offspring. Full éraic is paid for a virgin, for a young nun who does not reject her veil, and for a cétmuinter; half éraic for secondary wives— all this is without the cooperation of the woman— together with the full honour price of the man of highest rank who has authority over her of those to whom she specially belongs.

        (10) Union of mockery: union of a lunatic or madman with a deranged woman or madwoman. Neither of them is bound to take or to make payments. The person who brings them together for fun and the responsible person in whose presence this takes place, theirs is the offspring, if offspring there be; its rearing, compensation for its offences, and its suretyship falls on both of them. The éraic and the legacy of such persons is divided between the king, the church and the family.

        • Cerby says:

          That’s absolutely fascinating. Do you have a link towards that text? What does éraic mean?

          Also, the fact that they felt the need to write down the legal consequences for making two mentally ill people have sex is… disturbing.

          • Deiseach says:

            Link is here, it’s on the CELT website which is run by University College Cork.

            Éraic is the monetary (or other goods) compensation you or your family have to pay if you kill/injure another person. Values are set according to the social status of both victim and perpetrator, and are often laid out as “so many head of cattle or bondservants/slaves or bars of silver”. Everyone has their “honour price” which is set as their value if sold/killed/dies/injured/insulted and slandered; naturally, it’s lower if you’re low in society and higher if you’re high. This can be separate from the éraic.

            That people thought it was a great joke to get mentally challenged people married or fixed up together just demonstrates that humanity has always had its share of assholes over all time. “Fools” and the mad, or those with physical differences, being jesters and entertainment at court was definitely a fashion (see the Velasquez portraits of the dwarves in the Spanish royal court) On the other hand, presumably people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities were also having sex of their own accord, so then if the parents are unable (for whatever reason) to take care of offspring, having “these are the parties who should oversee their upbringing” is a sensible rule – nowadays we have social services and taking children into care for the same reasons (inability of the parents to parent).

  10. Well... says:

    Does anyone know of a legal case where a university has been successfully sued because one of their grad students plagiarized a thesis or dissertation?

    • Mary says:

      blinks

      Who would have standing?

      • Evan Þ says:

        The original author, arguing that the university was criminally negligent (or complicit) in aiding copyright infringement? I don’t think the author would win, but I’ve heard worse legal arguments.

        • Mary says:

          He’d have to show that he suffered injury as a consequence of their negligence without there being an intervening cause. There is obviously one: they could be as negligent as they liked without doing him as any harm, as long he didn’t decide to plagiarize.

          • Evan Þ says:

            I think you’re taking the idea of proximate cause too far. People have successfully sued companies for negligent supervision on the same basic theory: “Your employee chose to do X; you were negligent, even though without his decision, I wouldn’t have been harmed.”

          • albertborrow says:

            @Evan

            That would imply people disliked universities as much as they dislike companies. It’s a tough decision to make, but fewer people suffer through universities than suffer through the economy. Not that businesses need the undue pressure, but I’ve seen more people irrationally annoyed by transactions than I have seen annoyed by test scores.

            There’s also the question: does anyone smart enough to get plagiarized from care enough to sue the university? I’ve had people subtly cheat off me for tests before, and I’ve never really had a problem with it.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @albertborrow, I agree with you. I’m just saying that if for whatever reason someone did care enough to sue, he’d have a non-frivolous argument. I expect he’d lose, but it wouldn’t be frivolous.

          • Well... says:

            Years ago, a friend of mine wrote a book, or had his work published in a book, I forget which. Recently he found out that a (recent) grad student’s thesis plagiarized large portions of that work. I don’t know if the thesis was published anywhere. There were other circumstances around the university’s handling of the student’s thesis that seemed negligent to my friend as well, but I don’t remember what he said they were.

          • Aapje says:

            @Well

            It’s hard to see how he was himself meaningfully hurt, as I’m sure that no one would skip his book to read the thesis instead.

            The people who are actually (potentially) hurt seem to me to be:
            – The university for the student evading their rules that maintain the status of the university’s degrees
            – Students who did follow the rules and see their degree devalued by cheaters
            – Employers and others who trust these degrees

          • Eltargrim says:

            @Aapje: I think the infringement of copyright is by itself a cause of action against the student, with the possibility of statutory damages if the infringement is found to be significant and outside of fair use (or equivalent).

            That said, universities are large organizations with lots of lawyers. I’m sure that in publishing the thesis, the student has signed at least one form that is a statement that the student holds the full rights to all contents. I would be amazed if the university wasn’t indemnified against claims caused by the student in regards to publication.

            As an aside, I do know of one professor who filed suit against his own university over their handling of a graduate student, under the theory that the handling devalued the institution.

            He lost, quite badly. I’d be happy to provide news reports if people are interested.

          • Well... says:

            @Eltargrim

            I’m interested.

          • Eltargrim says:

            @Well:

            Here are a couple links; I don’t want to put too many in one comment for fear of the spam filter.

            News report.

            Summary of court case.

            You should be able to find more articles by googling based on that information. I’ll summarize the proceedings, however.

            A math PhD student was writing their comprehensive exams. They failed the first by a small margin, and failed the re-write by a large margin. Months later, the student appealed, citing newly diagnosed exam anxiety. Internal politics followed between the department (of which Dr. Lukacs was a member) and the faculty of graduate students. The end result was that the student was able to proceed in their degree without passing their comps, which is extremely unusual.

            Dr. Lukacs filed suit, which was thrown out for lack of standing. He didn’t have personal standing (as he was not personally responsible for any aspect of the above process), and there was no issue for public standing. Furthermore,

            Finally, McCawley J. [the justice] held that the matter was not one which should come before the courts and therefore it did not matter whether there was an alternative reasonable and effective way for it to do so.

            Apparently the ruling was fairly scathing.

            I don’t know what ended up happening to the student after all of this. Dr. Lukacs was effectively fired, though the university handled the labour aspect very poorly. Last I heard Dr. Lukacs was not employed in academia in any respect. I suspect he never will be.

            Generally speaking, it’s my understanding that courts are very loath to intervene with universities on academic matters, of which plagiarism would be included.

          • Aapje says:

            @Eltargrim

            I think that we are using different frames of reference. I was talking about tangible harm, as in: can a reasonable claim be made that their lives are worse off is this isn’t prevented from happening.

            You seem to be making a purely legal argument. The two do not necessarily give the same outcome. Something can be technically illegal, yet result in no harm in one specific case; or vice versa.

          • Eltargrim says:

            @Aapje:

            I agree that Well’s friend has no actual damages, either morally or legally. Personally, I’d question any attempt to file suit over this, for the reason you stated (that the book isn’t effectively substituted by the thesis). Plus the whole “blood from a stone” concept.

            However, many copyright rights of action don’t require the plaintiff to establish actual damages, only that it be proven that the copyright was infringed. This is opposed to other torts, which do require actual damages to be established.

            Well was clearly looking at this from a legal angle, hence the reference frame of my response.

            My personal method of handling this would be to email the dean of graduate studies of the appropriate institution with the evidence, and then wash my hands of the issue.

  11. Harry Maurice Johnston says:

    Any chance that the diagrams in “Backward Reasoning Over Decision Trees” and related LessWrong articles can be rescued? (The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine provides a workaround, so no biggy.)

  12. Glossy says:

    Sorry if this is an ignorant question. Did Scott invent this method of scoring predictions with a graph or did he take it from somewhere? It’s a great idea.

    • Chris Hibbert says:

      The Prediction Market community has been using it for quite a while. I suspect you could find good references for it in Robin Hanson’s papers.

      • nimim.k.m. says:

        While I was hunting for references for this prediction-thingy, I found out that similar graphs are known and also somewhat used in meteorology (‘reliability diagram’ or ‘plot’ [1], not to confused with ‘reliability block diagram’). I haven’t time to do a through enough search to find a nice, formal mathematical review and analysis, though, especially in this kind of socio-political forecasting.

        (Especially I’m slightly bugged about if there’s possibility of err, let’s say sampling issues. Does it matter how people choose the claims they assign probabilities for? How robust the whole thing is when it comes to choosing the probability brackets? And no, I don’t assume “what if people cheat” that was the only reply I got to when pondering about it aloud in previous threads, I just assume that people can be unlucky even if they are honest.)

        edit. Also, I took a look at Hanson’s list of publications and couldn’t see anything that had a title that at least sounds relevant. I don’t have time to read them all, especially when there’s a tons of papers on my backlog I’d rather like to read (unlike stuff on prediction markets).

        [1] http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/images/u30/Ensemble%20Forecast%20Verification.pdf

  13. registrationisdumb says:

    Man that Venn Diagram hurts my head. Venn diagrams just don’t look good with long lists like that.

  14. Wrong Species says:

    Lets say I wanted to invent a new religion for the contemporary age. A few guidelines:

    Nothing supernatural. You can have beings that are functionally the same as God but they have to be compatible with modern science or else no one will believe it.*

    It has to have some kind of ethical narrative driving it, with reference to a teleological purpose.

    Humans have to be important.

    Everyone needs to feel like they are individually important.

    It should be unfalsifiable.

    There should be some kind of “otherworldly superhumans” essential to the story. Again, not supernatural but also different than you and me.

    An afterlife.

    Some people are going to suggest various ideologies but I don’t think any of those can overcome their flaws, which is why people who believe in ideologies can still end up nihilistic. I figure the best way to start it off would be either time travelers, aliens or a programmer who kicked off the Big Bang. The programmer is easy enough because it’s the most obvious analogue to God. The alien could be someone who controlled our evolutionary process to get us where we are today. The time travelers could have gone back in time for the sole reason of preserving the timeline. Ideally, the story needs to be an explanation of something we don’t already know**. The aliens could be used as an explanation of the Fermi Paradox. Maybe the programmer wants us to reach “enlightenment” before giving us upgrades. The Time Travelers would have the most natural reason to care about us. Or maybe these ideas can be combined. Either way, if we wanted this new religion to be useful, it needs a compelling story.

    *What’s the difference between a supernatural God and a programmer of the universe? Who knows, but one sounds ancient and the other sounds modern. That’s what’s important.

    **Yes, there is some tension between being unfalsifiable, and being an explanation of something we don’t already don’t know. Religions can adapt.

    • James Miller says:

      Super-Darwinism. The goal is to maximize your genetic fitness and help fill the universe with other Super-Darwins. As soon as possible, use genetic engineering to make your children green-beards, who will also have loyalty to Super-Darwins born before the green beard tech was developed. All dead Super-Darwins will be cryogenically preserved. The universe will soon belong to us!

    • Evan Þ says:

      “Not supernatural” + “afterlife” pretty much mandates either cryonics or Simulation Hypothesis (or maybe time travel, but time travelers copying everyone’s brain states moments before death seems too Clarktech for me). Here’re two narratives I can think up off the top of my head:

      * Ancient Aliens had some huge biological or social flaw in themselves they couldn’t remove, for whatever reason. So, they (arranged the solar system and?) guided human evolution to raise us, without that flaw, to be their heirs and inherit the universe. (Here insert these Ancient Aliens to solve whatever geological, evolutionary, or historical mysteries we want. Note that the narrative doesn’t hang on any one mystery, so finding solutions to any one won’t disprove it.) Once we do X, they will reveal themselves, hand us the keys to all their technology, and step back to be mere mentors. In the meantime, let us all cryonically preserve ourselves so we will see that glorious day!

      * We really are the only species in the universe, because the universe is a simulation made to study human society – and each individual human is important; you personally have a dozen grad students hanging on your every thought and deed. (Here insert whatever mysteries you want as glitches in the Simulation. Again, it doesn’t hang on any one individual glitch.) Once you’re removed from this one simulation – either through death or through forking – you will be placed in new simulations meant as a purgatory to train you in this model of ethics which the Simulators recently revealed to Our Prophet, before you’re finally asked where you would prefer to go for the rest of eternity.

      Note that both are entirely nondisprovable, compatible with most systems of ethics, and quite in touch with the modern mood. Of course, they are also, as far as I can tell, entirely false.

      • Wrong Species says:

        This is fairly good, I could imagine raising my children with these beliefs and them not questioning it. But I think the problem with my prompt is that I’m asking for too much. You can get people to believe in God because they grow up with it and it doesn’t sound weird. But if I pulled a random person off the street and told them about Ancient Aliens, their first thought is going to be why they should believe me. Even if I could prove that they existed, they would be skeptical about all my other claims. We the moderns may have not killed God yet, we’re just slowly poisoning him while aborting any new possible gods. Maybe it’s impossible to invent a new God with a significant following. All previous religions are surviving off of sheer inertia but are gradually being whittled down. The only way to invent a God in this day and age may simply be to abstract him in a way that doesn’t give God an explicit self. Even then, look what happened to the Cult of Reason.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Well Neoplatonism or some form of Gnosticism would seem to be the best best. They don’t make any testable predictions, as far as I’m aware anyway. Since all of the moving parts are metaphysical they neatly avoid contradiction with physical laws.

      If you strip out the “must look like Christianity” requirements like an afterlife and superhuman beings, since plenty of religions throughout history lacked both, you could use Marcus Aurelius’ compromise position between Stoicism and atomism. The physics would need a major upgrade but the core ethical philosophy would make it through intact.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      Ahem. 🙂

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        I feel like I’m missing some important in-joke here purely on account of my browser (Chrome) having the wrong font turned on and the final character of that post consequently showing up as a tiny white square.

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          Sorry, I was trying not to annoy our host and directly poke fun at Lesswrongianism (as a “social movement.”) The last character was a smiley face.

    • Vermillion says:

      The revelation has come, the truth is revealed, lo the simulation is made manifest, we are but avatars in a great celestial game.

      What is thy divine purpose oh game player? Why for hast thou simulated us? Verily it is unknowable, but that won’t stop us from some educated guessing.

      As we illuminate the secrets of man through observing the simple laboratory creature, let us consider why we play games, though we humbly acknowledge that our diversions are as like a colony of yeast in an incubator compared to what runs upon thine holy hardware. We play to win. And what is a win without a challenge? And how canst we brag about our victory if we play with cheat codes? Let us be grateful for the burdens laid upon us, for they shall multiply our final score.

      Naturally you ask, and when shall we view the glorious kill screen of reality? None of us know the day nor the hour noob, so tarry not on finishing thy quests.

      What will become of us in the end, will every save files be restored? Pray that it be so, and for a small donation we will flag thy ID forevermore.

      I leave thee with two hypotheses on how we may work to bring this simulation to a fitting end, and level up into the one true reality. We max every min, and check off even those most difficult of achievements, though the grind be long. We create paradise here on earth and it shall be streamed for all to look upon in wonder. Our lord player shall gaze over all Ze has done and be pleased, for it is good.

      There is another end though. And instead of happiness and top charts we fail. We fall. We lay waste to this, our playground, with sword, and fire, and unoptimized strats. Then the gamer, Ze shall not gaze upon this end with delight NO, they will feel anguish, and pwned, and ragequit lol. Beware, we hang by a slender thread above a vast recycling bin. Should we displease our gamer we will be tossed, like so many zettabytes of crumpled paper.

      Go forth and do good then, though the documentation be vague.

      Amen and ctrl-s.

    • Bugmaster says:

      The Simulation Argument, as well as (arguably) the Singularitarian tenets of MIRI/CFAR are basically that.

      • Wrong Species says:

        I don’t see Bostrom preaching what the Great Programmer expects of us. It’s easy to pattern match everything you think of us being too “cult-like” as religious but there is a significant difference.

        • Bugmaster says:

          The OP didn’t say that the Great Programmer should expect anything specific of us, or indeed that the Great Programmer would exist as an identifiable single entity — only that we’d be important to him/her/it/them in some way.

          In the Simulation Argument, the aliens (or whomever) are simulating our entire Universe. It’s possible that they just care about particle physics or whatever, but many versions of the argument do explicitly argue that the goal of the simulation is to simulate us.

          In the Singularity scenario, the Singularity AI does not care about us humans at all. This is why MIRI/CFAR are trying to develop FAI, which would make the AI care, somehow.

          In both cases, the entities involved (super-aliens/AI) are functionally omnipotent. The super-aliens can tweak the simulation however they want, whereas the AI has access to nanotechnology and/or hitherto unknown laws of physics, meaning that it can pretty much do whatever it wants.

          So, in both cases, we’ve got omnipotent entities who care about humans. This fits the OP’s scenario quite well. I suppose you could always say, “yes, but unlike all these other gods, our gods are totally for real”, but… well… that’s what everyone else says, too…

          • Wrong Species says:

            First off, Bostrom doesn’t make any guesses at what the Great Programmer wants or doesn’t want. He doesn’t give it any kind of teleological drive. He just says that this is one of three things that could be true. Saying “God is one of three possibilities but we can’t be sure” isn’t exactly an engaging meaning filled story that people can immerse themselves.

            And it doesn’t really follow my stipulation that each individual life is important. Any good religion needs duties that individuals are supposed to uphold. Old religions were about bringing sacrifices. Newer religions uphold extensive ethical requirements. A god who may or may not exist who created us only to be studied and doesn’t really have commands that we should follow is not exactly a ticket out of nihilism. It’s the contemporary equivalent of deism and its straddling the line between religion and atheism never got anywhere. The Simulation Argument has potential, but it doesn’t work in its current state.

            Quick question: If you believe in the Simulation Argument, do you feel like it gives your life meaning? And if you don’t, do you believe it would if you did believe in it? Bostroms argument by itself is far too academic for it to be a good religion.

  15. dndnrsn says:

    This is something I have been bouncing around in my head for a while but have little confidence that it is correct. It could just be confirmation bias, arguing from too few examples, an attempt to build a theory from little evidence, etc. So, this is “pondered, not really endorsed” level. This could be absolute BS. Anyway: In modern times, does the right have a tendency to be shitty to the outgroup that the left doesn’t have, and the left a tendency to turn on itself in a way the right doesn’t?

    Big Godwin-y “large scale” example: It is generally agreed that national socialism is the all-time worst manifestation of anything on the right (people do argue that the Nazis were left-wing, but I think that’s BS; an argument can be made that they were “radical centrists” or something like that, but I think, overall, that if they fall anywhere it’s on the right – in any case this is an argument for another time). It is also generally agreed that Stalin’s rule was the all-time worst manifestation of anything on the left (some say Mao, but again an argument for another time, and there are enough similarities that you could say Mao without it changing as an example).

    Nazi Germany, of course, was absolutely horrible to anyone perceived as the outgroup, especially along racial/national lines. They killed 5-6 million Jews, 3 million Polish gentiles, Soviet POWs were treated monstrously as were Soviet civilians, and their planned victory would have included 30 million Soviets starved to death more or less on purpose, and that isn’t describing all the crimes committed by Germany in that time period. However, besides the Night of the Long Knives, for most of Nazi rule internal politics did not get bloody – and a couple hundred, tops, died then. This changed after the bomb plot in July of 1944, after which Hitler became quite paranoid and convinced his generals were plotting against him. Even after this, however, the absolute numbers of people killed and imprisoned were quite small (of course, throughout Nazi rule political opponents were imprisoned – mostly communists and social democrats – but they were the outgroup). Accusations of treason, hangings of deserters, etc became more and more common as the war was more and more clearly lost – although this might happen to any losing side. Main point is, though, the Nazi body count was vastly skewed towards people who were not only the outgroup, but couldn’t possibly have been the ingroup – even the number of German communists and social democrats killed or imprisoned was quite small (after all, in the last election held before the takeover was complete, the SPD and KPD together got almost a third of the vote, with over 12 million votes – it would have been impossible for the Nazis to rule and fight a war as they did without the vast, vast majority of those people falling in line behind Hitler). Instead, their victims were largely Jews and residents of lands to the east of Germany, all considered subhuman by the Nazis.

    Meanwhile, Stalin’s purges in the 1930s are considered a paradigmatic example of a state turning on its own people and, in many cases, its own government officials, generals, etc. Estimates vary, but the dead alone probably numbered in the mid six to low seven figures. There were, of course, prison camps. Entire ethnic groups deemed traitorous or potentially traitorous were deported from one part of the USSR to another. Changes of authority below Stalin were far more likely to involve someone getting shot or disappeared than was the case under Hitler. Had Stalin not died when he did, it is possible that another purge would have taken place, following accusations of conspiracy beginning with (mostly Jewish) doctors. The point here is that, inversely to the above, the victims were mostly people who either were part of the ingroup, or thought they were. Being a party member in good standing – part of the ingroup – was no protection, nor was being an ordinary citizen who kept their nose clean. Perhaps a good way to put it is that someone could be transformed by fiat from a member of the ingroup to a member of the outgroup, without necessarily doing anything themselves.

    OK, so, part of me thinking this is dicey and stupid is, whoa, I have a whole two historical examples. Great sample size, pack up, boys, job’s done.

    However, for a far less dramatic and large-scale example, and one that involves a whole lot less invocation of historical monsters – the phrase “left-wing circular firing squad” has been coined, and I can’t think of a right-wing equivalent today. It’s not a secret that left-wing activist circles have some pretty brutal infighting, or that somebody can go from well-thought-of to disliked based on a misstep or two. Of the two people I know well who are involved in left-wing activism, both of them describe a great deal of in-fighting. From the way they describe it, it seems to take the form of personal head-butting that gets transmutated into political disagreement, with actual denunciations taking place. The people who left-wing activists are most able to hurt are … other left-wing activists.

    Meanwhile, the friends of mine who are involved in right-wing politics do not describe anything like that. However, in North America, the right seems to do a fair bit more stuff nasty to small, weak, defenceless outgroups than the left, from where I’m standing at least. I can’t think of anything comparable to, say, passing laws binding people to bathrooms based on birth sex.

    Does this make any sense at all? I’m already thinking of various counterexamples. I don’t really know if I have something here or not.

    EDIT: Historical corrections also welcome. Particularly with regard to Stalin’s USSR, as I know a fair bit more about Nazi Germany than I do about the USSR at any point.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      1) Aside from some Catholics, right-wingers explicitly think nationalism is a good thing. That might not make them more shitty to outgroups in general, but it does mean that their outgroup is very visible and consistent (namely other nations)

      2) Leftism just has a wider parameter space. Unlike the right they aspire to not care about tradition, and there are more social innovations that have not been tried than have been tried. So you would expect them to disagree among themselves more.

      3) But we should make sure not to be over-influenced by this particular moment in American politics. Whenever one side loses an election there is a struggle over which direction they should adapt in.

      • Anon. says:

        >Aside from some Catholics, right-wingers explicitly think nationalism is a good thing.

        AnCaps, libertarians and en arr ex come to mind as right-wingers who are not fond of nationalism…

        • Mary says:

          One also notes there are plenty of left-wingers who are fond of nationalism too.

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          Those groups famously don’t map very well onto the left/right axis (hence the term left-libertarian for people like Will Wilkinson). Besides, I don’t think people usually apply the stereotype that op is talking about to those groups.

        • Civilis says:

          Ultimately, ‘what unites the American right?’ is a vital question, because it gets us to ask, ‘what do Catholics, libertarians, neo-cons, and the other sundry members of the right have in common?’, which gets us to ask ‘what does it mean to be on the political right?’ (and for that matter, ‘what unites the left?’ and ‘what do the groups on the left have in common?’)

          The political spectrum (and where various groups fall) is meaningless without some definition of left and right that can be used to compare various groups. Ideally, this is a list of traits, such as policies or values, common to most members of either side.

          Ironically, I think the political right can be most accurately universally defined by a respect for tradition, although given the traditions involved will differ very heavily by the cultures involved; the traditions the modern American right is trying to maintain differ very heavily from the traditions the European right is railing against. It also suggests why various limits on immigration would be an issue for both the American and European right, as immigration poses a threat to tradition.

          That being said, it also suggests limitations on the usefulness of the left-right spectrum outside a political culture, as the traditions involved vary from culture to culture. The modern American right comes from a culture where respect for individual rights and individual sovereignty IS tradition; socialist authoritarianism is not traditional to American culture.

        • chriamon says:

          I like to take the terms “right wing” and “left wing” back to their etymological roots. Groups like AnCaps and Libertarians map to left vs right depending on your definitions of above. At the risk of making this a semantic argument, “The use of the expression la droite (the right) became prominent in France after the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, when it was applied to the Ultra-royalists.” Extrapolating from this, from my perspective, the key of the right vs left difference is support of hierarchy/tradition on the right and opposition to hierachy/tradition on the left. From this perspective, AnCaps don’t necessarilly map well. Some AnCaps argue that a natural hierarchy will form (based on capital) and become more robust given ideal AnCap conditions (The ‘An” side of AnCap being a “reset” if you will), while some argue that their positions resolve to ultimate equality/justice or whatever their personal ideology is.

          My expectation is that this perspective is also why it is argued that the Nazis are radical centrists, they establish a hierarchy of Nazis above everyone else, but then each Nazi is supposed to be equal.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Who is smaller, weaker, and more defenseless than a fetus? The left definitely does some nasty things to victims it considers subhuman as well.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        They’re not really an outgroup in the sense of “group that helps define my group by contrast/opposition”. Just like whales are not an outgroup for the Japanese.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Tell Lena Dunham that.

          • BBA says:

            In the first episode of “Girls” Dunham called herself the voice of her generation. It was clearly meant as a joke, but nobody ever bothered explaining that to the blogosphere. Or to the DNC.

          • pseudon says:

            Wait, have the Japanese attacked Lena Dunham in any way?

        • Aanon Smith-Teller says:

          Aren’t they?

          I see a lot of articles talking about how great being child-free is, how annoying kids are and how much better we are without them, and how overpopulation is destroying the planet. And people go to extravagant lengths to call them dehumanizing terms.

          Also, I’m not sure, but I don’t think people who defend whales are treated with as much disdain in Japanese culture as people who defend fetuses are treated in leftist culture.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Godwin’s law:

      As an offline discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Wollstonecraft approaches 1.

    • Mary says:

      people do argue that the Nazis were left-wing, but I think that’s BS;

      They’re National Socialists. Calling it BS is hardly an argument when it’s facially true.

      • suntzuanime says:

        it’s the affordable care act, anyone complaining about the premiums must just be whiners

        • Evan Þ says:

          Just like anyone arguing against the Patriot Act must be unpatriotic?

        • Mary says:

          ah, an actual argument! How wonderful! We progress!

          Let’s look at their platform, then. Which of these do you consider not left-wing?

          We demand that the State shall above all undertake to ensure that every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and earning a livelihood.

          The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. No individual shall do any work that offends against the interest of the community to the benefit of all.

          Therefore we demand:

          That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.

          Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in blood and treasure, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as treason to the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

          We demand the nationalization of all trusts.

          We demand profit-sharing in large industries.

          We demand a generous increase in old-age pensions.

          We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.

          The State has the duty to help raise the standard of national health by providing maternity welfare centers, by prohibiting juvenile labor, by increasing physical fitness through the introduction of compulsory games and gymnastics, and by the greatest possible encouragement of associations concerned with the physical education of the young.

          • Evan Þ says:

            On the other hand, Hitler ignored a whole lot of that platform, and stomped down on the Nazis who wanted an economic “second revolution” after the party seized power. Even if the committee who wrote that platform was leftist – which I agree with – the Nazis in practice still could be rightist.

          • Mary says:

            Lenin implemented the New Economic Plan. did that make him a right winger?

          • cassander says:

            @Evan Þ

            He ignored that platform in favor of gearing up for his giant race war, because he thought he had to win that to implement the other vision. But when you look at the many and various postwar plans, none are far from that vision. Hitler purged the strasserites because he wanted to be in control, not because he really disagreed with them on economics.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @cassander, when did Hitler plan to (say) abolish unearned income or confiscate all war profits? I’ve never heard of any plans for either.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            The thing is, if the Nazis had done this stuff and nothing else, they would count as Left and Hitler would be as beloved today as Roosevelt. The “national” part is the right wing part, the part that was implemented, and the part that gives the Nazis their particular rhetorical usefulness.

            (Except for paragraph 4, that is like the opposite of the leftist goal. It just sounds leftist cus it has the word ‘community’ in it.)

          • Civilis says:

            Except for paragraph 4, that is like the opposite of the leftist goal. It just sounds leftist cus it has the word ‘community’ in it.

            Paragraph 4: The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. No individual shall do any work that offends against the interest of the community to the benefit of all.

            It may not be compatible with the modern Western democratic left, but is it any different than what you’d find in any of the other self-described Socialist states of the early and mid 20th century (such as the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, or North Korea)? Many of those had some kind of forced labor programs.

            The problem with ‘the Nazis were nationalist, that makes them right-wing’ is that starting with Stalin, a lot of the self-described communist states were just as nationalist. You can see it very heavily in the ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ of China and in the Juche of North Korea.

      • dndnrsn says:

        @Mary:

        The Nazi program prior to getting in power is “whatever will get people to vote for us”. Hitler was very good at adjusting his rhetoric depending who he was giving a speech to. Example: Albert Speer, prior to his joining the party, went to a Hitler speech expecting a ranting demagogue in uniform, and was surprised when he got (what he said was a – Speer was not a trustworthy witness) a fairly calm speech, with no reference to the Jews or anything, by a guy in a suit.

        The Nazis, prior to getting into power, played up the socialist side when appealing to the lower and lower middle classes, played up the anti-Semitism when appealing to anti-Semites, played up the notion that Germany had been stabbed in the back at home instead of defeated on the field of battle when appealing to embittered former soldiers, and played up the anti-Communism when appealing to the affluent classes.

        Hitler got into power in large part because the affluent classes and the aristocratic classes, heavily conservative, believed that he was a bulwark against the left they could use and then discard. They were wrong. If the Nazis had actually been socialists, it is highly unlikely that they would have been viewed as a bulwark against socialism.

        Once in power, the Nazis were flying by the seat of their pants. They didn’t nationalize all industries, they did not confiscate investment income, they did not confiscate war profits…

        By way of analogy: is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea democratic?

        • cassander says:

          Hitler was seen as a bulwark against revolutionary socialism, as in putting kulaks up against the wall and shooting them. This was real fear at the time because there had been that sort of revolution in 1918. Hitler’s socialism was trying to carve out the same political space as Bismarck’s.

        • Jaskologist says:

          You say the Nazis didn’t nationalize all industries. Nationalizing any seems pretty socialist to me.

          I’d put the test this way: did they move Germany towards more or less socialism economically? (I don’t know the answer.)

        • dndnrsn says:

          The economy in Nazi Germany was like social democracy, but paid for through plunder. If you were a German of the right racial stock, you could get a lot of bennies, based on theft and slave labour. Germans on the home front didn’t feel the material pinch very much until early 1944, by some accounts.

          A war footing usually necessitates far tighter state control over industry than is the case in peacetime. To some extent, pre-war Nazi economic policy can be seen as going on a war footing without a war. Can Churchill be considered a socialist?

          • Evan Þ says:

            Well, Churchill brought Attlee into his cabinet and let him decide a lot of domestic policy, so if you look only at results…

      • tscharf says:

        Arguing who are more Nazi like, the left or right, is bound to be a very fruitful and engaging discussion.

        • ChetC3 says:

          That’s too bad. “My outgroup: threat or menace?” is the commentariat’s favorite topic of discussion.

    • Silder says:

      The Left, generally speaking, is a group of people who agree on an idea that justifies them seizing power. When they win, they don’t go about implementing the idea in any realistic or successful way because they’re mostly complaining about reality*. Complaining about reality is great in one sense because you’ll never run out of things to complain about but once you seize power, there’s nothing you can do to change it. Once power is seized, leftist turn on each other because they have no traditional structure or hierarchy that allows people to coexist**. Since they’re all in it for the power, they start murdering each other in the name of whatever leftist cause they organized under – Jim’s theory of the leftist singularity.

      The right either opposes the left or is about tradition – tradition works quite well. Opposing the left can look quite bad because of the problem of identifying the left.

      * As far as I can tell, the left consists of factions that either object to: 1) racial differences 2) differences between the sexes 3) the laws of economics – mostly that wages will equal marginal productivity in the long run but not limited to that. They also object to supply and demand in housing markets. The one major missing item from my list is the environmentalist left. The environmentalist left isn’t fundamentally opposed to reality but has no end goal so is perfect for leftism – can always demand less and less human impact on the Earth because people breathe.

      ** Existing structures and hierarchies, whatever else you might think about them, have the virtue of existing – which means they don’t totally collapse your society. There’s no such guarantee with the year zero program of rewriting whatever.

      • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

        That’s how you tell the Left apart from all those other political groups, who don’t agree on an idea that justifies them seizing [sic] power.

        • Silder says:

          Well yeah.

          If your revolutionary banner is “overthrow the system for x” then you’re likely on the left.

          If your revolutionary banner is “our leader is the rightful king and the current king is a usurper” you’re likely on the right.

          There’s a clear divide between the two.

          If your banner is “oust the leadership because they’re a foreign occupier (or they side with foreigners)” then you could be on the left or right.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            To justify your original stink bomb, the converse would have to be true: “If you’re on the left, you’ve likely got ‘overthrow the system for x’ for your revolutionary banner.” Which it isn’t, which is why they spend their time trying to win elections instead of trying to seize power.

          • Silder says:

            Cerebral Paul Z.

            The American context is a bit different. The original question was “why does the left turn on each other when the right mostly doesn’t?” and my explanation was suited to that context.

            A different context where the left hasn’t turned on each other doesn’t contradict my point. The American left mostly doesn’t advocate for revolutionary structural change and rightist critiques of the American / Anglo left say that the left advocates for stealthy revolutionary structural change in the guise of keeping the system intact.

            Maybe take it up with the questioner as to why the American / Anglo left hasn’t turned into a circular firing squad.

          • Jiro says:

            I think it’s fair to say that what the left advocates in America is a lot closer to revolutionary structural change than what the right advocates, even if purist leftists will say that it isn’t revolutionary enough to count.

            Also, leftist tactics in the US harken back to people who did want revolutionary structural change, and their tactics can still be the type of tactics most suited for that even if their goals no longer are.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @Jiro: which people and which tactics? Asking honestly here.

          • TenMinute says:

            The ones calling for revolutionary structural changes and revolutions in every part of society?
            You can see in this very thread people calling for “fundamental shifts” in everything from gender to working for a living.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @ TenMinute:

            I searched this page for the word ‘revolution’ and was unable to find anyone advocating for one. The phrase “fundamental shifts” only appears in your own comment, but in any case I want to focus on violent revolution rather than fundamental shifts.

            You are also not literally answering my question, unless you are saying “both the modern left and revolutionary leftist movements have used the tactic of calling for things.” This is not just hair-splitting: I read Jiro’s second paragraph as saying “by their tactics shall ye know them, no matter what they claim their goals to be” so the distinction between goals and tactics is important here.

          • Jiro says:

            @Jiro: which people and which tactics? Asking honestly here.

            SJWs especially. The public shaming, the no-platforming, the boycotts and attempts to get people fired from their jobs, among others.

      • Earthly Knight says:

        When they win, they don’t go about implementing the idea in any realistic or successful way because they’re mostly complaining about reality*.

        The reason the right doesn’t do more complaining about reality is because the right, generally speaking, has grown too psychotic to know what reality is anymore:

        http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2016/05/gop-quickly-unifies-around-trump-clinton-still-has-modest-lead.html

        –65% of Trump supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim (only 13% think he’s Christian)
        –59% of Trump supporters believe that Obama was not born in the United States (only 23% think he was)

        https://today.yougov.com/news/2016/12/27/belief-conspiracies-largely-depends-political-iden/

        –62% of Trump voters believe that millions of illegal votes were cast in the election
        –46% of Trump voters buy into the Pizzagate conspiracy theory

        It’s sad, I used to think that the right was something more than a festering mass of delusions. Maybe I was always imagining that, though.

        • Evan Þ says:

          only 13% think he’s Christian

          As someone who’d be part of that 87% if asked that question, let me clarify: I agree that Obama claims to be Christian, and that he does not practice any other religion. Perhaps he even believes those claims himself. I do not, however, think he has a real relationship with Jesus Christ.

          The utility of this definition in the real world can, of course, be debated – especially when 65% of Trump voters apparently have a different understanding of how Obama is not a Christian…

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I do not, however, think he has a real relationship with Jesus Christ.

            I don’t think anyone has a real relationship with Jesus Christ, does that mean I should say that no one is a Christian? Obama is clearly a Christian by any normal standard, even if you disagree with him on some finer points of faith.

          • Obama is clearly a Christian by any normal standard

            It’s clear that he claims to be a Christian.

            Being viewed as a Christian is pretty clearly a positive for almost all American politicians, so the fact that one claims to be Christian is not strong evidence that he is.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Yeah, I never got that aspect of the argument. I guess you can say he became a devout Christian before he went into politics (did he? that’s worth looking into), but once he got into politics? If you’re at all serious about it, you are going to become a Christian. Personally, I just assume Obama’s generalised progressivism leads him to sympathise with Muslims irrationally, as progressives are wont to do. “All those other dumb people are incapable of this, only I can truly understand Islam” is I think the rationale behind this. Though that could be projection.

            -P.S. given his reverend’s extreme political views, it might not be a function of signaling – if I was going to pick my religious habits to match my ambitions, I wouldn’t touch someone that radioactive. Then again, maybe it helped him in early Chicago politics? This line of argument really could use some more background information, too bad the conservative press never took their arguments seriously enough to provide it.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “I do not, however, think he [Obama] has a real relationship with Jesus Christ.”

            So far as I know, only some Christians think of that as an essential part of being Christian.

          • Anonymous says:

            “I do not, however, think he [Obama] has a real relationship with Jesus Christ.”

            So far as I know, only some Christians think of that as an essential part of being Christian.

            It sounds Protestant to me. I’ve never heard it from anyone but Chick-brand heretics. Given that Obama claims to be a Protestant of some variety, it is relevant.

          • Aapje says:

            I know of at least 2 atheist Protestant ministers, here is one of them.

          • Anonymous says:

            Protestant, atheist and a woman too. Man, these folks don’t go light on the heresy.

        • Evan Þ says:

          For a less-personal response…

          Consider that the media, in general, has a clear liberal bias – or, at least, is perceived that way in conservative circles. It’s covered up or minimized stories before, or portrayed them in twisted ways. So, people might conclude, why mightn’t it be doing this with other things?

          Throw into this pot how Obama really did act suspiciously when he refused to release his birth certificate for several years, as we’ve discussed in other open threads before…

          Of course, the particular ideas you mention at the very least have near-zero evidence for them. But few people know how to, or have the time to, do a real investigation on their own. Without any media they trust, is it really a surprise they’d land in this boat?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Throw into this pot how Obama really did act suspiciously when he refused to release his birth certificate for several years, as we’ve discussed in other open threads before…

            Obama released his birth certificate in 2008. The belief that he “act[ed] suspiciously” is part of the delusion.

            Without any media they trust, is it really a surprise they’d land in this boat?

            Conservatives do trust some media– it is not as though each Trump supporter independently arrived at the conclusion that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim. The problem is that most conservatives are profoundly incompetent at determining which media outlets are reliable and which not, so they trust worldnetdaily or whomever over the New York Times. Those complaining about the “liberal media” are not, in general, skeptical or critical, they are gullible fools who turn to trashy tabloids because they are angry that most mainstream media organizations won’t tell them the lies they want to hear.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            If your argument contains the premise that the New York Times is reliable, then it needs revising.

            Most outlets considered “reliable” long ago decided to bias themselves. Then, of course, the argument is “there’s no bias, all the reliable people just agree with us!”. Until, as we saw recently, the bias starts leading to fatal errors. So conservatives are stuck between a rock and a hard place…but when it comes to the media, so are we all. Maybe we always were.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @ anonEEmous: as far as I’m aware the NYT is reliable so long as you skip the opinion pages and don’t assume it’s telling you everything. Like if it says someone was murdered then yeah, they probably were. It does weird stuff like not using the word ‘torture’ for torture, but it’s still at least technically accurate.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            As I recall, there have been some recent and seriously questionable pieces. Let’s kick it off with this:

            http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2015/07/25/nail-salons-new-york-times-got-wrong/

            Feel free to dig as deep into this topic as you want, there’s a lot there.

            Then you’ve got this piece

            https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/us/politics/donald-trump-women.html?_r=0

            which was not only a Trump hitpiece, but actually inspired one of the women quoted in the article, in fact one of the more important pieces of the article period, to step in

            http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/05/16/new-york-times-trump-women-rowanne-brewer-lane/84435570/

            “The New York Times told us several times that they would make sure my story that I was telling came across, they promised several times that they would do it accurately, they told me several times and my manager several times that it would not be a hit piece and that my story would come across the way that I was telling it and honestly and it absolutely was not,” Brewer Lane said. “They did take quotes from what I said and they put a negative connotation on it. They spun it to where it appeared negative. I did not have a negative experience with Donald Trump.”

            Brewer Lane dated Trump and said that the presumptive Republican nominee “never made me feel like I was being demeaned in any way, he never offended me in any way.”

            “Obviously they feel like they need to do something to make him look bad or go along with their article,” Brewer Lane said.

            And we’re just talking about outright falsehoods, not even bias – which Liz Spayd, public editor to the NYT, has even acknowledged.

            http://hotair.com/archives/2016/12/06/ny-times-public-editor-under-fire-for-criticizing-the-papers-liberal-bias/

            you can also read any of her editorials on the subject – I think she kind of stops short from admitting it, but it’s pretty clear what’s going on here.

            Or we could talk about this:

            “Historically, the Los Angeles Times, where I worked twice, for instance, was a reporter-driven, bottom-up newspaper. Most editors wanted to know, every day, before the first morning meeting: “What are you hearing? What have you got?”

            It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.”

            And this is just the stuff I know about.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Here’s the NYT’s defense of its story on the nail salons:

            http://www.nytco.com/rebuttal-to-the-nybrs-article-on-nyt-nail-salon-series/

            It looks to me like the Times has the better of it.

            Brewer Lane seems to be complaining that, even though the New York Times got every factual detail of her account right and quoted her correctly, they portrayed her experience with Trump in a way that sounds demeaning and negative, which, she believes, it was not.

            Do you really want to rest your case against the Times on this? Given that we now know that Trump is a sexual predator, the Times’s reporting on Brewer seems awfully prescient. It is certainly possible that Trump’s behavior towards Brewer was demeaning, even if she does not think it was.

            Look at what you are doing here: you distrust the New York Times, but don’t exhibit the slightest bit of doubt or skepticism when it comes to criticisms of the New York Times. This is how the delusion takes hold.

          • Jiro says:

            Here’s the NYT’s defense of its story on the nail salons:

            They didn’t even bother addressing the point that the Times equated undocumented and unlicensed workers to the industry. They also didn’t bother addressing the point that the Times published a contradictory article elsewhere, or that the low pay was a temporary situation and that the woman earned much more a few months later.

            It is certainly possible that Trump’s behavior towards Brewer was demeaning, even if she does not think it was.

            That makes “this was demeaning” unfalsifiable, as well as denying the agency of the woman involved.

            Given that we now know that Trump is a sexual predator,

            I think you should learn about Gish gallops. That list is too long to rebut in detail, trying to make up for poor quality claims with quantity.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            That makes “this was demeaning” unfalsifiable, as well as denying the agency of the woman involved.

            I don’t see why. If Trump walks up to a total stranger and gropes her, as he often does, what he’s done is demeaning even if the victim does not believe that it is. I do not think that whether behavior counts as demeaning or not depends on the mental states of the person being demeaned.

            That list is too long to rebut in detail, trying to make up for poor quality claims with quantity.

            We’ve been over this. A dozen women accusing Trump of non-consensual kissing or groping is strong evidence that Trump is, indeed, a sexual predator. This is true no matter what you think a gish gallop is.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            “Here’s the NYT’s defense of its story on the nail salons:

            http://www.nytco.com/rebuttal-to-the-nybrs-article-on-nyt-nail-salon-series/

            It looks to me like the Times has the better of it.”

            ctrl+f “Tips”: 0 results

            https://reason.com/blog/2015/10/27/new-york-times-nail-salon-unvarnished

            ctrl+F “Tips”: 11 results

            “Also, Nir’s report doesn’t discuss gratuities. In fact, nowhere does the Times coverage attempt to gauge average daily tips in the industry or what workers actually take home in total compensation.

            This is like writing a 7,000-word piece on what waiters make for a living but focusing only on base compensation. “There should have been several paragraphs on the subject,” says Aiming Feng, the accountant and business consultant who counts about 50 nail salons as clients. (Feng also volunteers once a week at once a week at the Lin Sing Association, a social service organization in Manhattan’s Chinatown, where he helps manicurists with legal and tax issues.)”

            The NYT hasn’t even begun to address the most obvious criticism, probably because they can’t. Better to do as all good journalists and ignore it in hopes it goes away. Hell, it’s what I’d do, were I them.

            Brewer Lane seems to be complaining that, even though the New York Times got every factual detail of her account right and quoted her correctly, they portrayed her experience with Trump in a way that sounds demeaning and negative, which, she believes, it was not.

            “But the 1990 episode at Mar-a-Lago that Ms. Brewer Lane described was different: a debasing face-to-face encounter between Mr. Trump and a young woman he hardly knew.”

            They went far beyond “portrayal”. And there is absolutely no reason for you to say that Brewer Lane “believes” it was not, because those words are entirely subjective, meaning that the belief is the thing. In other words, you’re doing the exact same thing the Times was doing; you presuppose the feelings of others to the point that you manage to contradict their lived experience. Don’t you think that’s a serious, serious problem for a journalist? Can you really just play it off like that, especially when it happens to align with a goal many believe the NYT to have, namely bashing Donald Trump?

            Apparently you think that groping is always demeaning, which really just illustrates the point; some enjoy being “demeaned”. You’d prefer to render out-of-bounds even groping these people, because you personally think they’re wrong…on a matter of personal taste.

            “Do you really want to rest your case against the Times on this? Given that we now know that Trump is a sexual predator, the Times’s reporting on Brewer seems awfully prescient. It is certainly possible that Trump’s behavior towards Brewer was demeaning, even if she does not think it was.”

            I hadn’t realised that accusations had become proof.

            Seriously, your harping on this topic has really lowered my opinion of you. Make a fool of yourself if you want, but that IS what you are doing.

            “Look at what you are doing here: you distrust the New York Times, but don’t exhibit the slightest bit of doubt or skepticism when it comes to criticisms of the New York Times. This is how the delusion takes hold.”

            And yet upon further inspection, the criticisms of the New York Times remain as valid as ever.

            You see, Earthly Knight, I don’t doubt or skepticise. Instead, I read one side, and I read the other. The New York Times has no defense for these criticisms; I can tell, because despite said criticisms being leveled by prominent outlets which the New York Times could not possibly have missed, they have totally failed to answer the key points – at best, they pretend that said key points don’t exist at all. Maybe you should try doing the same thing; though I suppose implying all of your opponents are delusional is much in the same vein of argument. Good day, sir.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            The NYT hasn’t even begun to address the most obvious criticism, probably because they can’t.

            The Reason article concedes that many starting nail salon workers– “apprentices”– are paid nothing. This is illegal no matter what they earn in tips.

            Apparently you think that groping is always demeaning, which really just illustrates the point; some enjoy being “demeaned”. You’d prefer to render out-of-bounds even groping these people, because you personally think they’re wrong…on a matter of personal taste.

            Please, tell me more about how it’s okay to walk up to strangers and grope them if they turn out not to object to it.

            I hadn’t realised that accusations had become proof.

            Generally, when a dozen people testify that someone committed a crime, most people take this to be strong evidence that the person is guilty. Do you think that we can never be confident that someone is guilty of a crime solely on the basis of the testimony?

          • AnonEEmous says:

            “The Reason article concedes that many starting nail salon workers– “apprentices”– are paid nothing. This is illegal no matter what they earn in tips.”

            Are we expected to believe that the key issue here was violation of city statutes rather then abuse of nail salon workers? Do you really think anyone would care if nail salon workers make above minimum wage, but are technically violating the law by doing so? Or was this supposed to be an expose of New York’s failure to accommodate tips-based reimbursement? No matter what the case, the fact that they don’t mention tips in either the original piece, and the rebuttal to the rebuttal, is pretty clear evidence that they don’t want to touch that issue with a ten-foot pole. And seriously, if you have any reservations about this “expose” exposing anything other than the NYT’s incompetence and bias, read the Reason article I linked. I’ll wait.

            “Please, tell me more about how it’s okay to walk up to strangers and grope them if they turn out not to object to it.”

            Actually, my argument was that it was not necessarily demeaning; to try and explain that actually, just because you think something is demeaning, doesn’t mean someone – like, say, Rowanne Brewer Lane – might not disagree with you entirely. Unfortunately, this means that you’re right back where you started – disrespecting the lived experiences of women to try and make a cheap political point. Sad!

            “Generally, when a dozen people testify that someone committed a crime, most people take this to be strong evidence that the person is guilty. Do you think that we can never be confident that someone is guilty of a crime solely on the basis of the testimony?”

            That’s because it’s usually the same crime. It’s a neat trick, to lump in those two situations on the basis that “sexual assault” is the crime accused. But that’s not how it works, sorry to say D:

          • Earthly Knight says:

            No matter what the case, the fact that they don’t mention tips in either the original piece,

            It’s funny that you say that. Here’s the original article:

            “She would work for no wages, subsisting on meager tips, until her boss decided she was skillful enough to merit a wage.”

            “Workers endure all manner of humiliation, including having their tips docked as punishment for minor transgressions, constant video monitoring by owners, even physical abuse.”

            “Employers in New York are permitted to pay such workers slightly less than the state’s $8.75 minimum hourly wage, based on a complex calculation of how much a worker is making in tips. But interviews with scores of workers revealed rates of pay so low that the so-called tip calculation is virtually meaningless. None reported receiving supplemental pay from their bosses, as is legally required when their day’s tips fall short of the minimum wage.”

            Tips or wages are often skimmed or never delivered, or deducted as punishment for things like spilled bottles of polish.”

            “Non-Korean manicurists are often forced into less desirable jobs in the boroughs outside Manhattan or even farther out from the city, where customers are typically fewer and tips often paltry.”

            “Her sole income was a few dollars a day in tips, but she was meticulous, tabulating each banana and even her first ice cream from a chiming truck.”

            Have you considered that it is you, and not the New York Times, who is actually unreliable here?

            Actually, my argument was that it was not necessarily demeaning;

            That’s how it started! But then you went too far and said: “You’d prefer to render out-of-bounds even groping these people, because you personally think they’re wrong…on a matter of personal taste.”

            I would, indeed, prefer to render groping strangers “out-of-bounds” even in the unlikely event that the stranger happens to enjoy it. I want to get you on record on this: do you think it is morally permissible to walk up to strangers and grope them if the stranger turns out to be okay with it?

            That’s because it’s usually the same crime. It’s a neat trick, to lump in those two situations on the basis that “sexual assault” is the crime accused.

            Can you explain why you think that someone who is accused of twelve crimes by twelve eyewitnesses is substantially less likely to be guilty than someone who is accused of one crime by twelve eyewitnesses? I do not think most people would find the distinction important, but it seems like your defense of Trump hinges on it.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            http://www.cjr.org/investigation/new_york_times_nail_salon_investigation.php

            Here’s the Columbia Journalism Review’s take on the nail salon imbroglio. It criticizes the Reason piece and suggests that the conclusions in the original Times expose were overstated but basically accurate.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            “It’s funny that you say that. Here’s the original article:”

            OK, I stand corrected. Instead, they simply write sentences like this:

            “The New York Times interviewed more than 150 nail salon workers and owners, in four languages, and found that a vast majority of workers are paid below minimum wage; sometimes they are not even paid.”

            without attempting to calculate if those workers have, in fact, been paid above the minimum wage in tips.

            “She would work for no wages, subsisting on meager tips, until her boss decided she was skillful enough to merit a wage.”

            Which discusses a case of an apprenticeship, who as the Reason article explains never worked with any actual customers. But I’m willing to admit that, in that case, the tips would be meager.

            “Workers endure all manner of humiliation, including having their tips docked as punishment for minor transgressions, constant video monitoring by owners, even physical abuse.”

            So she’s willing to mention tips being taken away, but not how large these tips are. Point : stands.

            “Employers in New York are permitted to pay such workers slightly less than the state’s $8.75 minimum hourly wage, based on a complex calculation of how much a worker is making in tips. But interviews with scores of workers revealed rates of pay so low that the so-called tip calculation is virtually meaningless. None reported receiving supplemental pay from their bosses, as is legally required when their day’s tips fall short of the minimum wage.”

            Finally, she approaches the issue of how large tips are, only to decide that actually, making that calculation is “virtually meaningless”.

            “Tips or wages are often skimmed or never delivered, or deducted as punishment for things like spilled bottles of polish.”

            Again: how large are they?

            “Non-Korean manicurists are often forced into less desirable jobs in the boroughs outside Manhattan or even farther out from the city, where customers are typically fewer and tips often paltry.”

            How paltry?

            “Her sole income was a few dollars a day in tips, but she was meticulous, tabulating each banana and even her first ice cream from a chiming truck.”

            Uh, this isn’t even about nails. Did you read any of this, or just c/p every sentence with the word “tips” in it?

            “That’s how it started! But then you went too far and said: “You’d prefer to render out-of-bounds even groping these people, because you personally think they’re wrong…on a matter of personal taste.””

            “I would, indeed, prefer to render groping strangers “out-of-bounds” even in the unlikely event that the stranger happens to enjoy it. I want to get you on record on this: do you think it is morally permissible to walk up to strangers and grope them if the stranger turns out to be okay with it?”

            I was discussing the idea that a non-stranger might enjoy it, because I had first assumed we were talking about the actual case in question. But yes, I am perfectly willing to disavow groping of strangers, which I now see you brought up for…questionable reasons. The next four years are going to be fun ones for you, I can already tell…

            “Can you explain why you think that someone who is accused of twelve crimes by twelve eyewitnesses is substantially less likely to be guilty than someone who is accused of one crime by twelve eyewitnesses? I do not think most people would find the distinction important, but it seems like your defense of Trump hinges on it.”

            Do you actually not understand how that works? It’s a pretty basic function of statistics, you know.

            “http://www.cjr.org/investigation/new_york_times_nail_salon_investigation.php

            Here’s the Columbia Journalism Review’s take on the nail salon imbroglio. It criticizes the Reason piece and suggests that the conclusions in the original Times expose were overstated but basically accurate.”

            I read that, ctrl+F for “tips” turned up zero results, and I decided not to waste my time even bringing it up. I mean, look at this:

            “After hearing Cuomo on TV, Carmen saw changes at her current salon. Her pay increased from $60 for a 10-hour day to $75 for an eight-hour one.”

            But how much was she being paid in tips? Who knows? Is she making less now that she’s working 8 hours and not 10, due to tips? Who knows? Why ask? It’s so much easier to just leave that out.

            Moreover, the accusation that Reason’s piece hinges on the testimony of interested experts seems weak. Many of the refutations of the Times’ claims are accompanied by uninterested participants or rock-solid reasoning as to why the original claim made no sense.

            “Have you considered that it is you, and not the New York Times, who is actually unreliable here?”

            Absolutely! But the available evidence has led me to discard that hypothesis.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Your original complaint was that the Times expose failed even to discuss tips. If true, this would be a serious oversight, but you concede now that you were mistaken. In fact, the Times article reported in detail on numerous salon workers who were illegally underpaid by their owners, many of them taking home earnings below the minimum wage even when tips are included.

            Your new complaint is that the Times journalist failed to collect systematic data on worker’s net take home pay, i.e. that the journalist failed to carry out a small-scale study on salon worker’s wages. This is correct, but it is not a serious objection, because the author of the article is an investigative journalist, not a social scientist, and undoubtedly lacks the resources to conduct the kind of study you envision. It also does nothing to support your original charge the New York Times is unreliable. Hence, your case against the New York Times fails.

            But yes, I am perfectly willing to disavow groping of strangers, which I now see you brought up for…questionable reasons.

            Okay, so you do think that groping strangers is wrong in all circumstances. Do you think it is also demeaning under all circumstances?

            Do you actually not understand how that works? It’s a pretty basic function of statistics, you know.

            You’ve gotten lots of pretty basic things wrong already, so I’m not going to take your word for it.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            “Your original complaint was that the Times expose failed even to discuss tips. If true, this would be a serious oversight, but you concede now that you were mistaken. In fact, the Times article reported in detail on numerous salon workers who were illegally underpaid by their owners, many of them taking home earnings below the minimum wage even when tips are included.”

            The issue here being that the Times only discusses tips when talking about owner abuses. When discussing base compensation, one of the key parts of the article, the writer actually comes out and says “it’s not even worth doing so I’m not going to”, all while asserting that the tips didn’t make up for the base pay. How would she know? Well, apparently she had spreadsheets on the 100 or so workers she interviewed with the wage data; when asked by the writer of the Reason article, she refused to supply said spreadsheets. Hmm…

            “Your new complaint is that the Times journalist failed to collect systematic data on worker’s net take home pay, i.e. that the journalist failed to carry out a small-scale study on salon worker’s wages. This is correct, but it is not a serious objection, because the author of the article is an investigative journalist, not a social scientist, and undoubtedly lacks the resources to conduct the kind of study you envision. It also does nothing to support your original charge the New York Times is unreliable. Hence, your case against the New York Times fails.”

            No, my complaint is that she ran an expose on workers being mistreated, and argued that they were being underpaid, while totally failing to discuss a serious source of income. There are many other things wrong with the piece as well, as the Reason article explains, but I doubt you’ll actually engage with that piece – if anything, it’s just there for third parties to see what’s wrong with the New York Times.

            “Okay, so you do think that groping strangers is wrong in all circumstances. Do you think it is also demeaning under all circumstances?”

            It’s a Schrodinger’s box; the conduct may reflect poorly of you in all cases, but whether or not something is demeaning can only be determined by the person being “demeaned”. You can argue that it’s conduct meant to be demeaning and that the actor is almost certainly aware of this, or something along those lines. But the receiver of the act is the only one with any right to judge.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            No, my complaint is that she ran an expose on workers being mistreated, and argued that they were being underpaid, while totally failing to discuss a serious source of income.

            I do not understand why you are still saying this when you have already conceded that it is false. The article discussed tips extensively, for instance:

            Employers in New York are permitted to pay such workers slightly less than the state’s $8.75 minimum hourly wage, based on a complex calculation of how much a worker is making in tips. But interviews with scores of workers revealed rates of pay so low that the so-called tip calculation is virtually meaningless. None reported receiving supplemental pay from their bosses, as is legally required when their day’s tips fall short of the minimum wage.”

            As far as I can tell, your only real objection here is that the author did not systematically collect data on wages and present summary statistics. But your charge was that the Times was unreliable, not that its stories lacked scientific rigor, which should come as no surprise, it being a newspaper and all.

            But the receiver of the act is the only one with any right to judge.

            I see. So in your view, M demeans N only if N believes M’s conduct to be demeaning?

          • AnonEEmous says:

            “I do not understand why you are still saying this when you have already conceded that it is false. The article discussed tips extensively, for instance:”

            Employers in New York are permitted to pay such workers slightly less than the state’s $8.75 minimum hourly wage, based on a complex calculation of how much a worker is making in tips. But interviews with scores of workers revealed rates of pay so low that the so-called tip calculation is virtually meaningless. None reported receiving supplemental pay from their bosses, as is legally required when their day’s tips fall short of the minimum wage.”

            let’s run that back again

            “But interviews with scores of workers revealed rates of pay so low that the so-called tip calculation is virtually meaningless.”

            Or in other words, she’s not even going to check if that’s…actually true or not. She’s certainly not laid out any individual examples of such, and when asked specifically for what data she did have confirming any of this, she refused to give it. In the rest of the article, she doesn’t bring up tips as compensation, while citing many different types of jobs with many differing types of compensation. Throughout the article, she goes on to do this constantly. So…yes, this is a big issue. As noted in the Reason article, sometimes tips are as much or more than base compensation, meaning that they could easily outpace minimum wage.

            by the way:

            “To gauge the average pay for manicurists, Nir might have turned first to the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The agency reported that in 2014, manicurists in New York’s metropolitan area earned an average hourly wage of $9.19 per hour. It also reports an annual mean wage of $19,110.”

            Given that said author was also apparently willing to misquote both written advertisements, and quite likely certain people as well…yeah, not looking very good on her front. Well, them’s the breaks when you’re an unreliable organization.

            “As far as I can tell, your only real objection here is that the author did not systematically collect data on wages and present summary statistics. But your charge was that the Times was unreliable, not that its stories lacked scientific rigor, which should come as no surprise, it being a newspaper and all.”

            No, the objection is that an entirely relevant point is left almost completely un-discussed, except in one lone paragraph where the author argues that the calculations are almost meaningless. This, despite the fact that many workers and those with knowledge in the field disagree. Why can’t she at least come up with a couple examples of women, take their base pay and tip pay, and tell us what it is?

            “I see. So in your view, M demeans N only if N believes M’s conduct to be demeaning?”

            Yes. You may argue that his intent is to demean N, and be offended by that, and think him to be a bad person, and so on and so forth. But demeaning is in the eye of the receiver.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Given that said author was also apparently willing to misquote both written advertisements, and quite likely certain people as well…yeah, not looking very good on her front. Well, them’s the breaks when you’re an unreliable organization.

            Rather, some of her former interview subjects claim she misquoted them. It is possible she did, but it is also possible that they are lying due to the enormous amount of bad publicity they received in the wake of the article’s publication, or, in the case of workers, because their bosses pressured them to lie.

            Why can’t she at least come up with a couple examples of women, take their base pay and tip pay, and tell us what it is?

            So your new objection is that she only gave qualitative assessments of worker’s pay– “meager,” “paltry,” “a few dollars a day”– when she should have given precise dollar figures? And this is what shows that the New York Times is unreliable?

            Yes. You may argue that his intent is to demean N, and be offended by that, and think him to be a bad person, and so on and so forth. But demeaning is in the eye of the receiver.

            Suppose that Sally’s “friend” Frank takes surreptitious photos of her while she is in the bathroom, which he later posts to the internet. She does not believe that Frank has demeaned her, because she knows nothing about what he’s done. Can I take it that you think Frank’s actions are in no way demeaning?

            Or, suppose that Mark, who is not very bright, tries to tell a joke in front of a circle of his acquaintances, but botches the delivery rather badly. His acquaintances all start laughing at his ineptitude, but he falsely believes they are laughing with him, not at him. In your view, Mark is also not being demeaned?

            Or, suppose that when Mary’s partner is angry he emotionally abuses her, calling her a bitch and a whore and a pig and so on, but Mary interprets his behavior as a sign of how much he loves her and fears losing her. In your opinion, Mary, too, is not being demeaned?

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Looks like this argument is almost over. Good thing too – this thread’s pretty old by now.

            “Rather, some of her former interview subjects claim she misquoted them. It is possible she did, but it is also possible that they are lying due to the enormous amount of bad publicity they received in the wake of the article’s publication, or, in the case of workers, because their bosses pressured them to lie.”

            The problem is that, just to take one case, a former worker also said that she was misquoted. Additionally, as pointed out, one of the big guys with an incentive to lie, the director of a nail salon association, also had no reason to insult his own membership to begin with.

            “So your new objection is that she only gave qualitative assessments of worker’s pay– “meager,” “paltry,” “a few dollars a day”– when she should have given precise dollar figures? And this is what shows that the New York Times is unreliable?”

            No, it’s that she only gave those assessments in a couple of instances, while continually discussing different wages – and in most cases, failing to cite tips. Had she cited tips, most people would have noticed that, actually, most people in the industry were being paid at or above minimum wage, and then she wouldn’t really have much a story. Sad!

            “Suppose that Sally’s “friend” Frank takes surreptitious photos of her while she is in the bathroom, which he later posts to the internet. She does not believe that Frank has demeaned her, because she knows nothing about what he’s done. Can I take it that you think Frank’s actions are in no way demeaning?”

            Yes, a lack of knowledge may lead to an awkward situation where, if someone had the knowledge, they would feel demeaned. However, another sly feminist trick is to assume lack of knowledge, when in reality the knowledge is had, or the situation is not as they had assumed, and the person is fine with it. If you want to go back to discussing the specific situation – you know, where the person “demeaned” explained explicitly that she hadn’t been demeaned – then be my absolute guest. But I think doing so just exposes the problem – she felt very strongly that nothing demeaning was going on, but feminists believed that there was, because they think they have insight into the male psyche, “male gaze”, and other such. So they believed that she was being demeaned without knowing it, and she understood that she wasn’t. Or maybe we should say she believed she wasn’t, because who can ever really know what’s going on in the other person’s mind? However, absent some serious, rock-hard proof of what’s going on in someone else’s mind, speculating based on your own personal beliefs about gender relations is a sure way to get people to consider you…shall we say, unreliable?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Additionally, as pointed out, one of the big guys with an incentive to lie, the director of a nail salon association, also had no reason to insult his own membership to begin with.

            Sure he did, if what he said was true. People sometimes tell the truth even when it is not in their best interest to do so, you know.

            No, it’s that she only gave those assessments in a couple of instances, while continually discussing different wages – and in most cases, failing to cite tips. Had she cited tips, most people would have noticed that, actually, most people in the industry were being paid at or above minimum wage, and then she wouldn’t really have much a story.

            So, in your view, newspapers should not report on illegal mistreatment of workers unless “most people in the industry” are being mistreated? And if they do, this makes them unreliable?

            Yes, a lack of knowledge may lead to an awkward situation where, if someone had the knowledge, they would feel demeaned.

            You didn’t answer any of my questions! We want to know whether it is true, as you claimed earlier, that no one is demeaned unless they believe they are being demeaned. Are the people in the scenarios I described being demeaned, or not?

          • AnonEEmous says:

            “Sure he did, if what he said was true. People sometimes tell the truth even when it is not in their best interest to do so, you know.”

            Yes, and people who have been found to have mis-translated other sources with no reason to lie, sometimes mis-translate those that do. Surely you can admit that’s more likely than the owner of an association trashing his entire membership? Oh, and the corrected statement he makes matches up with what the Bureau of Labor Statistics thinks. You can read their statistics anytime you’d like. What about the writer of the article’s personal spreadsheet of statistics? Well we’ve been over that: not available. Sad!

            “So, in your view, newspapers should not report on illegal mistreatment of workers unless “most people in the industry” are being mistreated? And if they do, this makes them unreliable?”

            Again, the problem is that she was mostly talking about low wages…while excluding the discussion of tips. If she just wanted to talk about other illegal mistreatment of workers, she would’ve had a much shorter piece, and since all she had was some scattered incidents, no one would have given a shit. So she had to talk about all the people being cruelly underpaid, except they weren’t. Oops!

            “You didn’t answer any of my questions!”

            A lack of reading comprehension is a sad thing.

            “We want to know whether it is true, as you claimed earlier, that no one is demeaned unless they believe they are being demeaned. Are the people in the scenarios I described being demeaned, or not?”

            So again I’ll explain: they are in a situation where, if they had full knowledge, they might feel demeaned, and thus be demeaned. But they did not have this knowledge. Because of this situation, many people will interpret it in many different ways, but I will still say that, no, you can’t be demeaned if you do not feel that you have been. Moreover, it all hinges on a matter of knowledge and opinion, and again, this is usually where feminists will slip on their feminist lenses and spot slights that do not exist. (For example, they might say that we “know” someone is a sexual predator, when said person has not been convicted of sexual assault). That’s why feminism, as an ideology, produces unreliable sources…thus, the New York Times.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Surely you can admit that’s more likely than the owner of an association trashing his entire membership?

            The NYT attributed a quotation to someone, he subsequently denied having said it, and you, because of your hostility to the Times, have chosen to believe the source rather than the reporter. You were supposed to be providing evidence that the Times is unreliable, but it sounds to me like all you have to go on is tendentious speculation.

            Again, the problem is that she was mostly talking about low wages…while excluding the discussion of tips.

            You keep repeating the same falsehood. Here, again, are the parts of the article which show your claim is incorrect:

            “Employers in New York are permitted to pay such workers slightly less than the state’s $8.75 minimum hourly wage, based on a complex calculation of how much a worker is making in tips. But interviews with scores of workers revealed rates of pay so low that the so-called tip calculation is virtually meaningless. None reported receiving supplemental pay from their bosses, as is legally required when their day’s tips fall short of the minimum wage.”

            “Non-Korean manicurists are often forced into less desirable jobs in the boroughs outside Manhattan or even farther out from the city, where customers are typically fewer and tips often paltry.”

            I will still say that, no, you can’t be demeaned if you do not feel that you have been.

            Man, you sure are reluctant to give a straight answer! Are the people in the scenarios I described being demeaned, or no?

        • Silder says:

          That’s trivia about minor stuff that you and I will never know with certainty – the best evidence you could in theory dredge up would be eyewitness testimony. Sure, he was born in Hawaii, who cares? (Although his book publisher did mention in his promotional bio that he was born in Kenya so there is some sense that those on the left really really like the idea of him being foreign born – publisher bios are built to sell books after all.)

          On the other hand left delusions are things like

          1) Only 22.5% of people believe that blacks are less intelligent than white – this is a factual question with a right answer and that’s not it.
          2) Only 33.2% of people believe that blacks are more criminal than whites

          etc.

          Trump supporters do better on these measurements but not all that well either.

          http://thesource.com/2016/06/30/new-poll-trump-supporters-think-blacks-are-less-intelligent-more-lazy-and-violent-than-whites/

          That’s major major stuff that has very important implications that has been drowned in lies – that’s a festering mess of delusion.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            That’s trivia about minor stuff that you and I will never know with certainty

            The evidence that Obama was born in Hawaii and is not in any sense a Muslim is incomparably stronger than the evidence for just about any hypothesis about the nature of human intelligence. As, I might add, is the evidence that Clinton’s top aides are not running a child molestation ring out of a DC pizza joint.

            Think about what you’re saying here. The chance that Obama– who has been baptized, goes to church fairly regularly, and speaks often of his faith in Jesus– is a secret Muslim can’t be more than, what, one in ten thousand? One in one hundred thousand? Are you really 99.99% certain that your pet racial theories will turn out to be right?

            (Although his book publisher did mention in his promotional bio that he was born in Kenya so there is some sense that those on the left really really like the idea of him being foreign born – publisher bios are built to sell books after all.)

            This, too, is a part of the delusional world the right has constructed for itself.

            “You’re undoubtedly aware of the brouhaha stirred up by Breitbart about the erroneous statement in a client list Acton & Dystel published in 1991 (for circulation within the publishing industry only) that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me — an agency assistant at the time,” Goderich wrote.

            http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthers/booklet.asp

          • Silder says:

            This, too, is a part of the delusional world the right has constructed for itself.

            Pointing out true things that make you angry isn’t delusion. His publisher bio really did say he was from Kenya. Saying “well, someone there later claimed it was a mistake” doesn’t contradict “his publisher bio said he was from Kenya” in any way.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Only 22.5% of people believe that blacks are less intelligent than white – this is a factual question with a right answer and that’s not it.

            Just like with “Christian” above, different definitions of “intelligence” are probably playing into this. Since you’re calling it a factual question, I’m guessing you’re defining “intelligence” as “your score on an IQ test.” Meanwhile, many people are probably defining it in a different way more related to the real world than to tests – as evinced by the articles arguing IQ is a flawed measure of real intelligence.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Silder

            Pointing out true things that make you angry isn’t delusion.

            You claimed, falsely, that the publisher bio was designed to sell books. In fact, the bio was designed to circulate only within the publishing industry, and Obama did not go on to publish a book for another 4 years. You also claimed, falsely, that the error shows that “there is some sense that those on the left really really like the idea of him being foreign born.” In fact, an assistant made a fact-checking mistake.

          • Silder says:

            In fact, an assistant made a fact-checking mistake.

            No, the publisher said that a fact-checker made a mistake.

            Assertions of motivation aren’t facts. You have to figure out incentives and in this case the incentive later is obviously to lie.

            You claimed, falsely, that the publisher bio was designed to sell books. In fact, the bio was designed to circulate only within the publishing industry

            Publishing industry buzz influences sales – at least in the sense that some books with buzz get picked up and become cultural items. Why would publishers bother to send bios of authors to each other if there’s no expected benefit to the publisher? Of course the things publishers do are supposed to sell books – that’s why authors contract with publishers.

            You seem to make this mistake frequently – “x is true about person z, therefore we can likely conclude y negative thing about person z” and your rebuttal is “person z provided another explanation for x, therefore that explanation is true”.

          • Silder says:

            Meanwhile, many people are probably defining it in a different way more related to the real world than to tests – as evinced by the articles arguing IQ is a flawed measure of real intelligence.

            Right, that’s my exact point.

            That claim is just a flat denial of reality. They’re not proposing an alternate measure of intelligence. They’re not stating that measures of intelligence don’t make good predictions (they make very good predictions). They’re not proposing experiments that would demonstrate their position – how about taking two groups one of which has a cut off of 110-120 IQ the other which has 70-80 IQ and compare them in novel tests or in life outcomes or in any other way you can think of – if IQ is a bad measurement you will get results that differ by no more than chance – but you know you won’t get those results. In other words if IQ is such a bad measurement why does it make so many good predictions?

            PS No, btw, intelligence is not “your score on an IQ test”. IQ tests are a measurement.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Assertions of motivation aren’t facts. You have to figure out incentives and in this case the incentive later is obviously to lie.

            The assistant says she made a fact-checking mistake. You claim she is lying. Do you have any actual evidence, or is this just another example of the evidence-free paranoia that’s come to define the right?

            Publishing industry buzz influences sales – at least in the sense that some books with buzz get picked up and become cultural items.

            If telling the truth makes the same point, why did you repeat a falsehood instead? The bio was not written by his publisher, and it was not intended to sell books. It was written by his literary agency, presumably in order to attract a publisher.

          • The bio was not written by his publisher, and it was not intended to sell books. It was written by his literary agency, presumably in order to attract a publisher.

            In order to sell books. That, after all, is the point of getting published.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Silder

            Only 22.5% of people believe that blacks are less intelligent than white – this is a factual question with a right answer and that’s not it.

            This is interesting. My impression before hearing that was that the majority of people believed this, and the left/right difference was primarily due to what people believed the cause behind the intelligence gap was.

            I thought the split was something like this:
            Far left (extreme minority): Black and white average intelligence is equal. Fringe view.
            Center left (making up the majority among with the center right): Strong evidence that average black intelligence is lower than white intelligence, but this is due to historical and current oppression, environmental factors, poverty, lead poisoning etc.
            Center right: Strong evidence that average black intelligence is lower than white intelligence, but this is due to black culture and left wing policies like the welfare state. If more blacks adopted conservative ideology and we stopped giving handouts, the gap would shrink blah blah look at Thomas Sowell etc.
            Far right/alt-right (extreme minority): Irrefutable evidence that average black intelligence is lower than white intelligence and this is strongly genetic and fixed, the gap will never shrink, inferior race, deport them all blah blah etc.

            EDIT:

            Whereas really it’s more like this?

            Far left (extreme minority): WHAT DID YOU SAY?!!!!!
            Center left (making up the majority among with the center right): Black and white average intelligence is equal.
            Center right: Black and white average intelligence is almost certainly equal, but you know… T-there is some very weak evidence that average black intelligence is lower than white intelligence, but this is due to black culture and left wing policies like the welfare state, ASSUMING IT’S TRUE!. If more blacks adopted conservative ideology and we stopped giving handouts, the gap would shrink blah blah look at Thomas Sowell DID I TELL YOU I HAVE BLACK FRIENDS? etc.
            Far right/alt-right (extreme minority): Irrefutable evidence that average black intelligence is lower than white intelligence and this is strongly genetic and fixed, the gap will never shrink, inferior race, deport them all blah blah etc.

            2) Only 33.2% of people believe that blacks are more criminal than whites

            This is also interesting, because crime statistics point to the majority of people being wrong on this point.

            Again, I didn’t think this was the issue. I thought it was that left wing people agreed that blacks were more criminal, but were sympathetic and thought it was due to oppression, and conservatives thought it was due to being insufficiently conservative and getting welfare, and the far-right thought it was genetic.

            There are big problems with the American justice system, but to believe that the racial imprisonment gap is solely due to corruption implies that all of those crimes are being made up so that the racist police can arrest black people. It implies Nazi like levels of racism across the police, not just implicit bias, and it implies a deep conspiracy to frame people on a colossal industrial scale, and then you have to believe that this is going on across all Western countries where the stats break down similarly…

            I didn’t think this is what was under dispute at all.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Yeah man, it’s nuts. But hey, whaddayagonnado.

          • Aapje says:

            @Tekhno

            I think that it makes little sense to presume that people actually think about it in such detail. For most of society, even being willing to entertain the possibility that ethnic groups could differ in average intelligence is anathema.

            Basically, most people really, really don’t want to be racist, so they choose positions that are ‘not racist.’ Being factually right or wrong is not even an issue, since it’s obvious that ‘not racist’ is right…

            This also explains why so many people reject the fact that black people commit more crime.

            A related issue is that the people who believe in ‘equality of outcome’ need groups to be equal in capability for their ideology to make sense. If they abandon that belief, they have to completely restructure their belief system, which people tend to fight with all their might, since it is too threatening/dangerous.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think that it makes little sense to presume that people actually think about it in such detail. For most of society, even being willing to entertain the possibility that ethnic groups could differ in average intelligence is anathema.

            I wonder what the results would look like if the poll only asked, say, Mensa members, or other group selected for intelligence.

            For that matter, I wonder how it would look like if they asked only academics, who notably skew extremely left-wing. On one hand, they’ve got every reason to claim equality. On the other hand, they have both intellectual integrity and being the type of person who might have thought about this and familiarized themselves with the research at some point.

          • Aapje says:

            @Anonymous

            I wonder what the results would look like if the poll only asked, say, Mensa members, or other group selected for intelligence.

            Intelligence doesn’t make one impervious to social norms. If there is a difference, it’s probably correlation, not causation. For example, highly intelligent people are probably more ostracized on average, which probably often results in one of two reactions:
            – rejecting social norms
            – doubling down on social norms to gain acceptance

            So my theory is that they would have more SJ believers and more HBD believers than average.

            On the other hand, they have both intellectual integrity

            I have no reason to believe that all, let alone most academics have a lot of intellectual integrity.

            Most seem very prone to groupthink and have a distinct lack of willingness to step out of line (which is often heavily punished, so this is quite understandable).

          • Anonymous says:

            There are big problems with the American justice system, but to believe that the racial imprisonment gap is solely due to corruption implies that all of those crimes are being made up so that the racist police can arrest black people. It implies Nazi like levels of racism across the police, not just implicit bias, and it implies a deep conspiracy to frame people on a colossal industrial scale, and then you have to believe that this is going on across all Western countries where the stats break down similarly…

            That’s a pretty good article. It’s probably safe to conclude that wide-membership secret conspiracies don’t exist.

            OTOH, something that works out to roughly the same result, large numbers of people individually coming to the conclusion that a given action in a given situation is in their best interest, is definitely possible. Not that I think that the average policeman is more Nazi than actual Nazis, mind. Just that if they were, they wouldn’t need a conspiracy.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Aapje

            Good points. I would still liked to have seen how it went down in practice.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Tekhno

            I think your first grouping is more like what white people actually believe (revealed by their actions). If the majority believed intelligence (as expressed, not inherent ‘g’) was really equal across races, they wouldn’t fight so hard to make sure their kid goes to the school where the minorities are Chinese and Indian rather than black and Hispanic.

            This doesn’t tell us why they believe this, whether they think it’s genetic or cultural or the aftereffects of centuries of oppression; it does rule out a few theories like them believing the tests are biased.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Aapje

            A related issue is that the people who believe in ‘equality of outcome’ need groups to be equal in capability for their ideology to make sense.

            Do they? You could still continue a different variant of the ideology if you insist on finding ways to make unequal people equal, whether that be through social methods, or eugenics/genetic manipulation.

            I often wonder what American white tower leftism would be like if you stripped out the egalitarianism. Basically put scientists in charge of progressivism instead of emotive types.

            Conservatives: “You’re all just a bunch of city slicker know it all elitists! Bunch of hypocritical aristocrats! Admit it!”
            Neoprogressives: “You know what? Fuck it. Yes, we’re elitists! We’re aristocrats!”
            Conservatives: *gulp*

            Would these hypothetical neoprogressives technically be right wing, since right wing thought is all about honest appreciation for hierarchy, instead of the embarrassment about hierarchy that normally defines the left?

          • Anonymous says:

            @Tekhno

            I figure they would be this opaque amalgam like the Communist Party of China is.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nybbler

            There are many possible reasons for white flight other than believing in ethnic IQ differences. For example, dislike of having their kid learn along with black/hispanic people because:
            – they see those groups as being more poor/lower class on average
            – they dislike ‘black culture’ and/or ‘hispanic culture’
            – they believe that black schools are discriminated against by teachers/the government/etc and thus have poorer quality

            @Tekhno

            You could still continue a different variant of the ideology if you insist on finding ways to make unequal people equal, whether that be through social methods, or eugenics/genetic manipulation.

            They could, but it is difficult to defend, because it’s easy for opponents to claim that when their methods don’t immediately succeed in creating equality (which they never will, because changing things is hard), there are non-fixable differences.

            BTW, I do think that there are environmental factors that influence IQ, many of which are related to poverty, so one could argue that anti-poverty measures would raise the IQ of certain groups.

        • cassander says:

          And half of democratic voters think the russians hacked voting machines to favor trump. Pointing out that voters tell pollsters that they believe insane things proves nothing.

          http://hotair.com/archives/2016/12/27/yougov-poll-52-of-democrats-believe-russia-tampered-with-the-vote-totals-to-get-trump-elected-president/

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t know how they could get that from the incessant “Russia hacked the election” slogans.

          • Iain says:

            Thought experiment: suppose the left was allowed to taboo that result, on the semi-justifiable grounds that it is in part just measuring confusion about what the intelligence community reports about Russian intervention actually say. Suppose the right was allowed to taboo one poll of their own side. (If you like, you could make it two.) What is the next worst example of conspiratorial thinking on the left, and how does it compare to the equivalent on the right?

          • Randy M says:

            This may be one, though I’m not saying it’s the most recent or relevant:
            JFK was killed by right-wingers.
            I don’t have survey data, but I’d be surprised if it isn’t a widely held belief given that it was heavily implied his death was connected to a reactionary culture of hate rather than an ex-soviet loon.

          • Iain says:

            I found a couple of Gallop polls. The issue is complicated by the fact that a majority of Americans still apparently believe that there was a conspiracy. Republicans do come out ahead of Democrats in terms of believing that Oswald acted alone, but the margin is 28%-16%, so nobody is covering themselves in glory here. I can’t find a partisan breakdown of beliefs about the specific culprits, but my second link indicates that the two most popular options are “the US government” and “the Mafia” at 13%, followed by “the CIA” at 7%. “Anti-government/right-wing groups” gets very little support (1%).

            I think the Democrats would be happy to match that up against any of the Republican conspiracies in Earthly Knight’s post.

          • cassander says:

            @Ian

            The next most absurd belief would probably be the varieties of “bush knew about 9/11” that used to poll majority or plurality support among democrats. But the “Trump is putin’s cat’s paw” that seems to be coalescing would top that for sheer absurdity. Who in the world would be dumb enough to trust Donald trump to be a cat’s paw?

            On the right, the “obama is a kenyan muslim atheist” is definitely up there, egged on by the weirdness around Obama’s biography. Other than that, though, I’m not sure what I’d pick. I’m sure there’s something, but I live in DC and what red tribers I do run into tend to be the more sophisticated variety.

          • Iain says:

            Right, “Bush did 9/11” is a good example on the left (although depending on the precise wording of the question, the polling sometimes ropes in people who think that Bush should have paid more attention to the intelligence community’s warnings that al-Qaeda was plotting something big.)

            Are you aware that “cat’s paw” is typically used to describe somebody who is used “unwittingly or unwillingly“? Why is it ridiculous to think that Putin is using Trump as a tool to accomplish his own goals?

          • John Schilling says:

            What is the next worst example of conspiratorial thinking on the left, and how does it compare to the equivalent on the right?

            Give them time; Trump hasn’t even been inaugurated yet.

            But if you insist on something historical, the belief that George W. Bush won the 2000 and 2004 elections by vote-counting fraud, e.g. miscounted ballots in Florida and rigged Diebold voting machines in Ohio, seems a very close parallel. I can’t find specific polling data on that, except from sites too obviously partisan to trust, but this suggests that about two-thirds of Democrats believed that 2000 Dubya’s election was not legitimate, down to 40% w/re the 2004 election.

            It also points out that this isn’t unusual. About half the population, Democrat and Republican alike, will suspect fraud in any presidential election that their side loses. So at any given time, half the members of the losing political tribe will at least sort of believe the really big conspiracy theories about Evil Overlords rigging elections, while the winning tribe merely has to believe in lesser corruptions and generic obstructionism to explain why things aren’t going their way.

            Trump may be able to break this historic trend by arranging for half of Americans from both parties to start believing the really big conspiracy theories as to how such an inept buffoon got into office. But, be fair, the right-wing nutcases have had eight years to practice the art of dreaming up Presidential conspiracies; the left-wing nutcases are out of practice and will take some time coming up to speed.

          • ChetC3 says:

            What is the next worst example of conspiratorial thinking on the left, and how does it compare to the equivalent on the right?

            “The left” and “the right” are broad enough subsets of humanity that there’s no practical limit to the degree of craziness you can find within them.

          • cassander says:

            @john Schilling

            As I recall, the diebold thing was largely post the 2000 election.

            @ian

            Right, but how many people know that oswald was literally a communist defector?

            >Why is it ridiculous to think that Putin is using Trump as a tool to accomplish his own goals?

            Odd, I’ve always used the term cat’s paw to be deliberate. Manchurian candidate, then.

          • Iain says:

            @ChetC3: Fair. “Republicans” vs “Democrats” would have been a more precise statement. I have my disagreements with the Canadian right, for example, but they certainly don’t seem to have an abnormally high support for conspiracy theories.

            @John Schilling: The set of people who called GWB “illegitimate” includes some number who agree on all the facts but, for example, believe that Bush v. Gore was incorrectly decided. I would argue that there is a qualitative difference between that kind of partisan opposition and more fact-based conspiracies, like “Bush planned 9/11” or “Obama was born in Kenya”. I would further postulate that the latter category tends to be more successful among Republicans than among Democrats. For example, I can’t think of a Democratic 9/11 truther of remotely comparable stature to the current President-Elect birther.

          • cassander says:

            @ For example, I can’t think of a Democratic 9/11 truther of remotely comparable stature to the current President-Elect birther.

            Why not? They seem extremely comparable to me.

          • Iain says:

            Maybe my phrasing was confusing.

            Trump is a prominent birther and a prominent Republican.

            Who is a prominent truther and a prominent Democrat?

          • John Schilling says:

            The “Diebold thing” was mostly the 2004 election, yes. And after the 2004 election, if the Los Angeles Times got their numbers right, 40% of Democrats believed that the 2004 election was fraudulent. Apparently including our current Secretary of State. That’s not agreeing on the facts and disagreeing with the Supreme Court on Bush v. Gore, that’s straight-up conspiracy theory that differs only in the name of the villain from Putin’s imagined hacking of voting machines in 2016.

            Whichever candidate loses, half of their supporters will believe the election was in some significant way fraudulent. This is the new normal, for a definition of “new” stretching back a decade or more.

          • Civilis says:

            Are you aware that “cat’s paw” is typically used to describe somebody who is used “unwittingly or unwillingly“? Why is it ridiculous to think that Putin is using Trump as a tool to accomplish his own goals?

            Is it ridiculous to think of Obama being manipulated to accomplish the goals of the European left (*cough* Nobel Peace Prize)? Is it ridiculous to think of Obama as being used by the government of Iran? For that matter, was FDR manipulated by Stalin to accomplish his goal of communist domination of half of Europe? Be very careful about what standard you use here. It’s normal for world leaders to try to persuade other world leaders to do things in their favor, often by pointing out potential benefits to the country of the one of whom the favor is requested, and it’s not entirely a bad thing.

          • Aapje says:

            If anything, it is the US that is manipulating other leaders more than anyone else.

          • Iain says:

            @John Schilling: John Kerry harboured private doubts about the outcome of the 2004 election, apparently didn’t talk about them publicly for more than a decade, and refused to challenge the results at the time. How exactly does that example support the idea that Democrats are equally prone to promoting conspiracies? By comparison, Donald Trump has been baselessly claiming voter fraud in an election he won.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Civilis

            If I’m understanding you right, your defense of Trump is that his relationship with Putin is similar to Obama’s relationship with European social democrats.

            That is, to my mind, a damming thing to say about Trump. Obama isn’t a useful idiot being manipulated by Stefan Löfven, Sigmar Gabriel, or Matteo Renzi, he fundamentally shares their basic progressive internationalist would view.

            Questions of political practicality aside, if Obama had his way he would, I have no doubt, turn the US into Norway. Are you making the same claim about Trump and Russia?

          • Civilis says:

            If I’m understanding you right, your defense of Trump is that his relationship with Putin is similar to Obama’s relationship with European social democrats.

            I’ve had to resign myself to the US cozying up to unfriendly and undemocratic regimes for decades: Clinton (Bill) and China, W and the Saudis, Obama and just about anyone besides Libya at one time or another, now Trump and Russia. I’ve reluctantly come around to the view that we’re stuck with realpolitik, which means tolerating these hostile regimes because we can’t afford the political capital (and inherent risk) to do something about any of them.

            I don’t have a real problem with Obama’s relation with Europe’s social democrats, though I don’t like either. I do have a problem with Obama willingly playing cat’s paw for Iran’s regime, more of a problem than I have with Trump and Russia.

            Questions of political practicality aside, if Obama had his way he would, I have no doubt, turn the US into Norway. Are you making the same claim about Trump and Russia?

            The European left are pushing policies that they believe benefit Europe. Putin is pushing policies that benefit Russia. Iran is pushing policies that benefit Iran. None of them are pushing policies that benefit the US. The problem is that we can’t do anything about Russia without a lot of political capital, both domestic and international. Letting Russia have its way does little to harm the US in the short term (the long term loss of trust is a real issue, but I’m resigned to that no matter who is in the office).

            I don’t see any ideological connection between Trump and Putin, much less than I see one between Obama and Iran (not Islam, but a fundamental hostility to the US as sole generally benevolent superpower). Frankly, I think Trump just doesn’t want to worry about Russia and thinks there will be one less problem during his tenure if he appeases them (kicking the can down the road). This benefits Russia, so of course they’re in favor.

          • Moon says:

            Trump doesn’t just tolerate Russia. He praises them at every turn, favorably comparing them to our president, our 5 intelligence agencies etc., in order to bash the pres and the intelligence agencies. He’s quite worshipful, which is concerning to me, and many other people.

          • Aapje says:

            @Moon

            One can argue that dictators need that sort of treatment (especially those with ressentiment). Both George W Bush and Obama went outside of normal American social norms to make the Saudi king happy, for example.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            What is the next worst example of conspiratorial thinking on the left, and how does it compare to the equivalent on the right?

            Patriarchy theory?

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        Leftists object to the laws of economics in the same sense that the Wright brothers objected to the law of gravity.

        • suntzuanime says:

          And in the same fashion that the guy who straps feathers to his arms and jumps off a cliff objects to the law of gravity.

        • AnonEEmous says:

          Successfully and to the great benefit of the entire human race?

        • TenMinute says:

          The Wright brothers fight against gravity never ended in a fiery crash with no survivors

        • Art Vandelay says:

          I think you’re being too generous here – there’s no reason to believe that we could find rules governing economies that are even remotely comparable to the laws of physics, and it’s abundantly clear that we haven’t found any so far.

          • there’s no reason to believe that we could find rules governing economies that are even remotely comparable to the laws of physics, and it’s abundantly clear that we haven’t found any so far.

            Does your “remotely comparable” allow for laws that give us good but imperfect information? If not, you could make as good a case for climate science–another science built around a system too complicated to produce predictions with certainty.

            If yes, then we have quite a lot of laws of economics that qualify.

          • Art Vandelay says:

            Actually I think your example for comparison is quite telling – have you ever heard anyone talk about “the laws of climate science”?

          • rlms says:

            I agree with Art. If you’re comparing climatology and economics, you’re saying that any economic theory that comes mainly from a priori theorising rather than looking at data will be pretty much useless.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            “A general circulation model (GCM) is a type of climate model. It employs a mathematical model of the general circulation of a planetary atmosphere or ocean. It uses the Navier–Stokes equations on a rotating sphere with thermodynamic terms for various energy sources (radiation, latent heat). These equations are the basis for computer programs used to simulate the Earth’s atmosphere or oceans. ” — Wikipedia

          • If you’re comparing climatology and economics, you’re saying that any economic theory that comes mainly from a priori theorising rather than looking at data will be pretty much useless.

            I’m curious what your view is of AGW.

            Looking just at the data, I doubt we would have much reason to believe it. It’s true that over the past century both CO2 concentration and average global temperature have gone up. But temperature went both up and down prior to that with no link to CO2, temperature in the geological past doesn’t follow a simple pattern of rising after CO2 increased. And over the past century, there was no close correlation between CO2 changes and temperature changes–for about thirty years in the mid-20th century average temperature was flat to mildly declining.

            I would have said that it is only because there is a straightforward theoretical basis for AGW and that theory suggests various experiments to confirm it, that almost everyone in the field interprets the pattern as AGW plus various other things that mess up the pattern.

            Very much like the situation in economics, where theory tells you what is likely to happen and you check the predictions of the theory against evidence both because you might have made a mistake in your theory and because the theoretical result depends on simplifying assumptions that probably don’t matter for the conclusion but might.

      • So left means raducal left, and the moderate centre left basically dont exist, whereas right means traditional right, and the radical right basucally doesn’t exist.

        • Deiseach says:

          I think part of the problem, especially in the American context, is that there is a social and an economic conservatism/liberalism, which do not necessarily go hand-in-hand together.

          You have the ‘traditional’ notion of the socially and economically conservative on the right and the socially and economically liberal on the left, and depending how hard they lean, they can be extreme or radical.

          But it’s equally possible to have centrist-social positions where left and right meet, but diverge on economy. Or economically-centrist positions held by left and right but socially divergent (so both centrist-left and centrist-right would agree that capitalism is the working economic system for the society but the left person could go as far left as you like on gay rights, trans rights, sex, race, etc. and the same for the right person).

          So what then is “radical left” and what is “extreme right” in this case? I’m sure, for instance, you could get a white supremacist who is all in favour of divorce, reproductive rights and sex outside of marriage and even same-sex marriage (as long as it’s two white guys getting married and adopting white kids to have a white family). You can have pro-life atheists. You can have conservative right-wingers who haven’t darkened the door of a church since they were four and never say a prayer in adult life but would still identify as “Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.” if asked. You can have progressive Christians who are a lot more committed to their religion than the former, even if they believe Naomi and Ruth were lesbian lovers (and not just mother-in-law and daughter-in-law). To mention the war, I liked Bernie Sanders (as old-fashioned Labour on class and economic issues) even where I’d diverge with him on social issues (he’d be more ‘radical left’ there and I’d be right-of-centre or right-wing, depending on how you’d slice it).

          There’s a mix of attitudes about all sorts of things, and the simple model of “radical left on every topic, extreme right on every topic” doesn’t hold when trying to sort people into baskets (deplorable or otherwise).

          • Civilis says:

            I think that with the United States, at the root, there’s now a definite divide between ‘government is a force for good’ and ‘government is a necessary evil’, and this line has appeared only over the past couple of decades.

            If you believe that the government is a force for good, the line between ‘social’ and ‘economic’ is arbitrary; if the government is justified in intruding in the economic sphere to make sure everyone has a good wage, it’s justified in intruding in the social sphere to make sure everyone eats healthy. In most cases, those social intrusions are justified by economic concerns (we must pay for school / college / pre-school to have a better workforce; smoking is banned because it leads to money wasted on health care).

      • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

        When left-ish people complain that the comment threads here are dominated by rightists, I think part of the frustration is that even on a rationalist blog, the posts can be so unbelievably tribal.

        I’m tempted to argue some of these points, but it seems like it might be fruitless given how uninterested you appear to be in treating people with differing opinions with any respect.

        “Opinions” being highlighted because you appear to think that everything you think is exactly in accordance with reality – and that others live in a dream world. If only there was a place on the internet that people could go to learn how unlikely that is…

        • Aapje says:

          Well, the most tribal poster we have is probably Moon/Jill, so by your logic, the right-wing people should be most upset (which they clearly aren’t).

          Silder is new and IMO, not worth replying to. He’ll probably leave/be banned before too long.

          It’s rather silly to use a first-time poster as an example of why some people dislike this community.

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            Is Moon Jill? I hadn’t even realised.

            I didn’t claim that tribalism was the only factor.
            What bugged me most here were the insults – which I suppose is mostly what I meant by tribal. I don’t recall Jill making so many – but I concede that might be because I’m on the left and more sensitive to criticisms of my group…

            And yes, possibly. Silder’s comment bugged me.
            My complaint of tribalism isn’t really aimed at any of the regular commenters. Generally it’s of a pretty high standard here or I wouldn’t bother reading down to the 100th comment.
            Generally my perception is that the regular commentariat skews right (and isn’t particularly tribal), interspersed with occasional right-ist commenters who are.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Yeah, I had noticed that Silder was probably an example of things left-wingers here were rightfully complaining about.

            If you reading this, Silder, no disrespect, but please understand that large political coalitions aren’t like that. The leaders may be, but I’ve found that on both sides of the spectrum. There are certainly things unique to right or left, but a will to power is definitely not one of them. “Radical transformation”, or just “Transformation” might be though.

        • hyperboloid says:

          @NostalgiaForInfinity

          Is Moon Jill? I hadn’t even realised.

          I’m nursing a conspiracy theory that she’s also Deiseach in on the long con.

          Also, are Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space novels (which I think your user name is a reference to) worth getting into? I’m looking for some new hard Sci fi to read.

          • Moon says:

            Yes, there is only one liberal. We are all identical clones, LOL.

            That happened because there was only a single liberal person who was willing to post on this board.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m nursing a conspiracy theory that she’s also Deiseach in on the long con.

            My fiendish rat-like cunning apparently knows no bounds nor are there any depths to which I will not stoop! 🙂

          • hyperboloid says:

            Deiseach isn’t a liberal, I think she is a supporter of Fianna Fáil, which is a sort of Irish Christian democratic center right party, relatively progressive on economic issues and socially conservative.

            I on the other hand am a fairly conventional US liberal, and think your shrillness does little for the cause.

          • Moon says:

            As far as I can see, nothing on this board that anyone says does anything for the liberal cause, since I don’t see people seriously considering liberal ideas. But I like to stand up for myself. I understand that many people would rather other people don’t stand up for themselves, and will call them “shrill” or whatever if they do.

          • Aapje says:

            @Moon

            You are not making us ‘serious[ly] considering liberal ideas,’ either. You just like fighting with people:

            But I like to stand up for myself.

          • Moon says:

            Well since no one seems to consider liberal ideas, no matter what anyone says, I do no worse than the others here in that respect. I do like to show a rare example that liberals can indeed stand up for themselves. Of course I will be bashed, told that I am shrill, that I am not helping anything, not getting anyone to consider liberal ideas etc. etc. That just goes with the territory of standing up for oneself.

            Yes, I know you would rather I didn’t do that, and enjoy thinking of many more reasons to try to persuade me not to stand up for myself. Please feel free to enjoy yourself in this way.

          • cassander says:

            @hyperboloid

            >Also, are Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space novels (which I think your user name is a reference to) worth getting into? I’m looking for some new hard Sci fi to read.

            They’re pretty good. But the best hard sci fi is Peter Watts’ Blindsight and Echopraxia.

          • Aapje says:

            @Moon

            Come on, that is such a cop-out…

            ‘I’m not going to make a positive case for my ideas because no one will consider them anyway’ is what you are saying and it is clearly acting in bad faith.

            You are willing to keep droning on about the same conspiracy theories for which you haven’t been able to provide any evidence since you first proposed them, so why not switch some of that energy over to a post about what kind of government policies you want, on a certain topic?

          • rlms says:

            I guess Peter Watts’ excellent sci-fi novels are one of the less annoying things SSC commenters have been obsessed with posting about.

          • Bugmaster says:

            +1 for Blindsight. It’s the only genuinely frightening book that I’ve ever read; most other books in the genre tend to be of the “monsters come through windows” variety, i.e. totally boring.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @cassander

            Yes, though I couldn’t sustain interest in the series enough to enjoy a lot of the spin-off fiction in the same universe. It’s quite good, overall.

          • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

            Yeah, I think so – the first one is an easy enough read to find out. They’re kind of gothic in tone. The central idea is not a stunningly original one, but Reynolds’ used to work at the ESA and the world is pretty interestingly thought out. I haven’t read that series in a while but I still read all his work – currently waiting for his latest to be out in paperback before I shell out for a copy (I disapprove of a year long publishing gap between hardbacks and paperbacks).

            Not sure from your comment how hard you want your sci-fi to be but by his own admission he does bend that for the sake of the narrative. Later in the trilogy he introduces a couple of technologies that are definitely less “realistic” than the early ideas (things to do with the many worlds interpretations and inertia-suppression).

            Greg Egan does thoroughly hard sci-fi. Wrote a trilogy where the spacetime has a different metric. Which he worked out in a lot of detail

            I haven’t actually got round to reading it yet. Might have been too long since I studied GR to get my head round it.

      • ChetC3 says:

        Since they’re all in it for the power, they start murdering each other in the name of whatever leftist cause they organized under – Jim’s theory of the leftist singularity.

        “Jim” aka James A Donald is right-winger who has spent the last couple decades broadcasting over the internet his desire to see his political enemies murdered en masse. Why would you expect anyone but hardened right-wing zealots to take him seriously as an authority? Are you so poorly read that he’s the best source you’ve got? Or, perhaps, are you just here to virtue-signal to your fellow zealots, with no real interest in rational discussion?

        • Silder says:

          Jim is a terrible right wing person therefore his theory of leftist singularity is bad no-thought – got it.

          Or maybe I wasn’t arguing “this is true because Jim said it” and was pointing out “Jim described this in detail and you can search for it if you like”.

          Or, perhaps, are you just here to virtue-signal to your fellow zealots, with no real interest in rational discussion?

          When you use barb completely incorrectly because it’s associated with the hated enemy all you do is show that it hurts – way to demonstrate that the idea of virtue-signalling upsets you.

          • ChetC3 says:

            Jim is living proof that the right has no shortage of would-be mass murderers. Beyond that, I’m already familiar with the quality of his writing, so if you’d like me to regard your original post to be treated as anything other than an unsupported assertion that your political opponents are murderous hypocrites, feel free to provide reasoned arguments backed up with evidence.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Yes, I’d also like to see reasoned arguments with evidence for Jim’s leftist singularity. Please be sure to also consider the argument that liberals have peacefully risen to power (as opposed to radical leftists violently seizing power) in many countries across the West without any violent singularity.

          • Silder says:

            Evan Þ –

            The short version of the argument:

            First, there is a pattern of leftist movements winning then slaughtering each other and (sometimes) large swathes of the population (Soviet Union, revolutionary France, Cambodia, (just to pick 3 examples that are different in lots of respects), etc.). Once you notice this pattern, you have to ask why it exists. Next you have to ask why it doesn’t happen every time a leftist movement succeeds.

            For the long version of why it doesn’t happen in the United States you have to read some *****bug. Ultra-short version – the American / Anglo left is the only leftist movement that survived to the present and since the society has existed with the left and vice versa memetic evolution has forced it to be less immediately murderous (the analogy MM used was that the cultural antibodies exist for American / Anglo leftist but when it backs leftist revolutions elsewhere the other country gets a full dose with corresponding cultural / social adaptations to moderate it). Being old is protective because massively destructive old things don’t survive.

            That’s the short version of why it doesn’t happen everywhere – the short version of why it does happen in some places is the one I gave above. “We should have power because we are good people and we are good people because we have the correct political beliefs” – where the beliefs are a particular reality denying belief (since there’s no signalling value in holding true beliefs). Sometimes the groups with that metabelief system hold together long enough to win – when they then turn the “your beliefs are wrong, therefore everyone should mob and murder you (or hound you out of society)” on their former allies / rivals.

          • Tekhno says:

            I’m pretty sure that you can have a Nationalist singularity too. I have my own theory, which I think is better than Jim’s.

            I theorize that ideologies based on maximizing single principles like “equality”, “liberty”, or “race purity” are far far more dangerous than ideologies that cross multiple principles against each other to find balance (which explains why liberal leftists who don’t bet it all on the liberation of the proletariat have no death squads). They have paper clip maximizer like qualities but for the ideological realm, leading to purity spirals where outflanking your comrades is always advantageous until the whole thing collapses in mass death, or someone finally setting some other standard/cross principle.

            Monomaniacal ideologies like this include things like Communism, yes, but also Fascism and various forms of Ultranationalist ideology such as what now circulates in the alt-right. Also, anarcho-capitalism and its edgier brother EnArrWrecks, but they purity spiral into uselessness rather than mass death instead, since the founding principles paralyze action rather than catalyze it (NAP, and “all political activism is leftist” Passivism).

            Certainly left singularity leaves things explained. The Nazis certainly went through an enormously destructive accelerating spiral based on right wing nationalist ideology.

          • Anonymous says:

            Also, anarcho-capitalism and its edgier brother EnArrWrecks, but they purity spiral into uselessness rather than mass death instead, since the founding principles paralyze action rather than catalyze it (NAP, and “all political activism is leftist” Passivism).

            I’m at the same time glad you think this, suggesting that psyops is working, but also think you got it slightly off. Political activism being leftist and therefore inherently counterproductive is not because of some transcendent property of political activism, but because of contemporary conditions and its present form.

            What’s considered political activism these days is little more than an organized petition to our lords and masters to fix something. You gather up your numbers and agitate that you’re here, you’re numerous, and you should perhaps be listened to. This is totally leftist, because it bases its support on the number of followers, regardless of their actual worth, which is demotist, and because it appeals to the leftist power structures, which are only amenable to listening to left-aligned pleas (and ignoring or stamping out right-aligned ones).

            In other words, according to Death Eater doctrine, this form of activity is a waste of time because it does not result in getting from present situation P to the desired situation D in the future, but rather reinforces P and/or makes it worse. Death Eaters are working on activities that at least have a chance of helping along the transition from P to D, and at discovering new, rediscovering old and refining existing measures that can help with that.

            Political activism, as currently understood, is considered ineffective – a waste of time and effort at best – and therefore banned. This does not mean that the Death Eaters are doing nothing. It merely means they are pursuing politics by means that fall outside of the contemporary conception of political activism.

          • dndnrsn says:

            National Socialist Germany definitely had purity spirals. One example is that it became more and more required to show obedience and deference to Hitler – signing off letters with “Heil Hitler” went from something one official started doing, to basically being mandatory to the point not doing it was a cause for investigation (I’m trying to find a source for this but can’t recall which Nazi minister it was). The Nazi salute became mandatory. Etc.

            Or, there is the concept of “working towards the Fuehrer”:

            As historian Ian Kershaw explains,

            For the thirteen million Germans who voted Nazi in 1932, Hitler symbolized—chameleon-like—the various facets of Nazism which they found appealing. In his public portrayal, he was a man of the people, his humble origins emphasising the rejection of privilege and the sterile old order in favour of a new, vigorous, upwardly-mobile society built upon strength, merit, and achievement. He was seen as strong, uncompromising, ruthless. He embodied the triumph of true Germanic virtues—courage, manliness, integrity, loyalty, devotion to the cause—over the effete decadence, corruption, and effeminate weakness of Weimar society. Above all, he represented “struggle”—as the title of his book Mein Kampf advertised: struggle of the “little man” against society’s “big battalions”, and mortal struggle against Germany’s powerful internal and external enemies to assure the nation’s future.

            Once Hitler was in power, his public persona as the Führer of the German people encouraged both government officials and other Germans to take initiative on their own to help the nation realize the goals he expressed. In fact, he left it to others to figure out how to carry out policies and govern Germany.In a 1934 speech, a government official, the minister of food, explained:

            Everyone who has the opportunity to observe it knows that the Führer can hardly dictate from above everything which he intends to realise sooner or later. On the contrary, up till now everyone with a post in the new Germany has worked best when he has, so to speak, worked towards the Führer. Very often and in many spheres it has been the case—in previous years as well—that individuals have simply waited for orders and instructions. Unfortunately, the same will be true in the future; but in fact it is the duty of everybody to try to work towards the Führer along the lines he would wish. Anyone who makes mistakes will notice it soon enough. But anyone who really works towards the Führer along his lines and towards his goal will certainly both now and in the future one day have the finest reward in the form of the sudden legal confirmation of his work​.

            The dynamic this government official described occurred throughout the German government. Hitler stated goals and provided guidelines, and then he either appointed specific individuals to ensure that his goals were realized, or he let government bureaucrats and Nazi Party officials figure it out themselves. According to Kershaw, this process of “working toward the Führer” played out not just within the government but also across German society.

            Individuals seeking material gain through career advancement in party or state bureaucracy, the small businessman aiming to destroy a competitor through a slur on his “aryan” credentials, or ordinary citizens settling scores with neighbors by denouncing them to the Gestapo were all, in a way, “working towards the Führer”. . . . Time after time, Hitler set the barbaric tone, whether in hate-filled public speeches giving a green light to discriminatory action against Jews and other “enemies of the state”, or in closed addresses to Nazi functionaries or military leaders. . . . There was never any shortage of willing helpers, far from being confined to party activists, ready to “work towards the Führer” to put the mandate into operation.

            Kershaw is one of the historians whose explanation for the beginning of the Holocaust was that it began not as an order from on high, but rather in this fashion.

            The idea that purity spirals are a left wing thing but not a right wing thing is completely absurd.

          • Monomaniacal ideologies like this include things like Communism, yes, but also Fascism

            What do you think fascists were trying to maximize?

          • Tekhno says:

            The state, hence totalitarianism.

          • @Tekhno:

            What does maximizing the state mean? Is your claim that the government budget under Mussolini or Franco was as high it could possibly have been? If not, what is the one thing that is being maximized?

            My rather casual impression is that the Fascists were trying to maximize a mix of things, as you would prefer–national power, welfare of the population, patriotism, … .

          • Randy M says:

            Mussolini was the one who said “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”.

            Doesn’t necessarily mean that was their end goal; could have meant there was no limit to what they could do to maximize whatever it is they did work towards, order or national prosperity or whatever.

          • Tekhno says:

            What they were attempting to increase was the influence of the individual by the state, because it’s integral to Fascist theory that individuals are relative to the state. It’s a lot like Marxist theory, but just replace “the means of production” with “the state”. The economic goal of corporatism functionally integrates the private economy into the state, if it were to be carried out.

            “A state that governs totalitarianly is a new fact in history” ~ Mussolini or Gentile

            Of course, Italian Fascism got swamped by National Socialism so the German goal of maximizing race purity took over instead, and we can’t tell what Italian Fascism would have been like without that influence. In other cases, such as in Spain, the Fascists were duped and corralled by Franco.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Your assumption here, which I think is completely incorrect, is that there is some basic difference between people on the left, and people on the right – that the latter actually believe what they say they believe, and the former merely pick whatever will get them power.

        Do you have any evidence for this, at all?

        • Silder says:

          In other contexts everyone on both sides says that there are basic differences between people on the right and on the left.

          This isn’t even about that though – it’s about how leftist ideas end up with leftists manning circular firing squads. The explanation is not “well, leftists just tend to be shitty people”. It’s “there are features about leftist ideas that tend to lead to that outcome”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Your precise words were:

            Since they’re all in it for the power, they start murdering each other in the name of whatever leftist cause they organized under…

            implying that there is some notable difference between people on the left and the right, or people who achieve power on the left and those who do so on the right.

          • Silder says:

            Yeah.

            Nothing about the type of people they are – it’s about the ideas they hold and how they use them to organize themselves.

          • Moon says:

            dndn, haven’t you been at this board a while? Haven’t you noticed yet how many commenters here believe that the Left is the source of all Evil and the Right the source of all Good? Silder is just playing the same song, 500th verse that we keep hearing here.

          • dndnrsn says:

            “They’re all in it for the power” directly says something about “they”. To say that someone is in it for the power because of the ideas they hold, and their ideas are about getting power, is circular.

            Either someone has an idea they want to implement because they think it is a good idea, and they seek power to implement that idea, in which case power is not their end goal, or they are the sort of person who just wants power, and they adopt the ideas that they think will best give them power, in which case power is their end goal.

            If someone’s ideas follow from their lust for power – if they think that communism will get them power best, they’re a communist, if they think fascism will get them power best, they’re a fascist, if they think neoliberalism will get them power best, etc – then it is about the type of person they are, the power-lusting variety.

        • cassander says:

          @dndnrsn

          >is that there is some basic difference between people on the left, and people on the right – that the latter actually believe what they say they believe, and the former merely pick whatever will get them power.

          What if this is the case? The fundamental difference I mean, not that people on the left are just bad people. Say, something like Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundations. And that this difference leads to the left having a greater tendency towards circular firing squads independent of the basic ideas. That is, convince left wingers to believe in freedom and democracy and you get the french revolution, on the right and you get the american.

          What do you do then?

          • hyperboloid says:

            Why do the French revolutionaries count as left wingers but not the Americans? The word was not in common use before the French revolution, but “all men are created equal” sounds pretty left wing by the standards of the time.

            Using the political concepts of the early nineteenth century
            the far left position was republicanism, the center left and right positions were some form of constitutional monarchy and the far right was absolute monarchy. Back dating that just a couple of decades to 1776 and you will find the majority of American revolutionaries pretty squarely on the far left.

          • cassander says:

            the american revolution gets to be right wing because it ultimately ended up being run by people like Washington, Franklin, and Adams, not Thomas Paine. Because its rhetoric, at least from those people, was about the defense of institutions and ideas they thought were being undermined, not the revolutionary overthrow of the establishment.

          • TenMinute says:

            If you’ve got the time, you can read Hannah Arendt’s “On Revolution” for an excellent discussion of the French vs American revolutions.
            TL;DR The American revolt’s orderly counter-revolution is the important difference, as Cassander pointed out.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The limitation of Haidt’s research is that his sample groups were “liberals” and “conservatives”, not “left” and “right”. You can find left-wingers who care about purity and loyalty very easily. They just tend not to be liberals, or at least not to call themselves liberals.

            The left-wingers who do “left-wing circular firing squads”, whether that’s in the form of the head of Department of the People’s Security torturing random people until they tell him about the vast counter-revolutionary conspiracy of wreckers and saboteurs that he wants to hear about, until he himself is purged and shot in the back of the neck in a forest somewhere because he didn’t catch the conspiracy fast enough, and then his replacement gets purged, etc, or in the form of the Campus Queer Collective’s leadership all denouncing each other for being homonormative and problematic, are the left-wingers who probably care the most about purity and loyalty and so on.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @cassander

            Because its rhetoric, at least from those people, was about the defense of institutions and ideas they thought were being undermined, not the revolutionary overthrow of the establishment.

            First of all I think you’re saying they weren’t radicals rather then they weren’t leftists, which is certainly true compared to the Jacobins, though not to the establishment British wig liberalism of the day. left wing politics and radicalism are often confused, but they are not the same , there are relatively conservative leftists (European social democrats being an obvious example), and there are radicals on the right.

            Also believe one Mr Jefferson of Virginia would have something to say about overthrowing the establishment.

            whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness

            When the signers put their names to that document they crossed a line from defending their rights as Englishmen to
            engaging in an overt insurrection that aimed to abolish forever the sovereignty of the crown over the American colonies.

            The orderly conservative view of the American revolution is an ahistorical myth crafted to cover up the shear violence of the act. Loyalist constituted perhaps a third of all free white men in the colonies they were disproportionately drawn from the elite; and so violent was their suppression at the hands revolutionary militias that the name of a certain Virginian patriot, one Charles lynch, has been synonymous with the practice of mob justice ever since.

          • cassander says:

            @hyperboloid says:

            >whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness

            That strikes me as claiming the abolishing the order is a last resort, not a joyous day to look forward to.

            >When the signers put their names to that document they crossed a line from defending their rights as Englishmen to engaging in an overt insurrection that aimed to abolish forever the sovereignty of the crown over the American colonies.

            Of course they did. but WHY they did it matters.

            >The orderly conservative view of the American revolution is an ahistorical myth crafted to cover up the shear violence of the act. Loyalist constituted perhaps a third of all free white men in the colonies they were disproportionately drawn from the elite; and so violent was their suppression at the hands revolutionary militias that the name of a certain Virginian patriot, one Charles lynch, has been synonymous with the practice of mob justice ever since.

            It was conservative for a revolution. That’s a relatively low bar, I grant you. But it could have gotten a hell of a lot worse.

      • Bugmaster says:

        I consider myself a part (at least somewhat) of the Environmentalist Left ™, and I think they have multiple goals that are not merely clearly defined, but also easy to measure:

        * Reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions, or at the very least, reduction of the first derivative of that curve. Obviously, reducing them to zero would be impossible, but even reducing the derivative to zero would be almost as good. By the way, “people breathe” is a red herring, since breathing is, on its own, a carbon-neutral process.

        * Reduction of the percentage of energy that comes from fossil fuels, in favor of nuclear power (at the very least) or renewable sources (at best), such as solar. The end goal is 100% renewable energy (plus or minus epsilon); but, once again, even something like 95% renewable or 42% renewable / 42% nuclear would be good enough.

        * Reduction of resource extraction (mining, logging, etc.) in wilderness areas on Earth. Once again, reduction to zero may be impossible, but reducing the first derivative to zero might be good enough.

        * Preservation of rare plant and animal species that are facing extinction. These have to be taken on a case-by-case basis, IMO, but note that these include edible species such as fish.

        * Reduction of harmful chemical compounds (e.g. lead, mercury) that are released into air and water as the byproducts of industrial processes (in addition to CO2, which I already mentioned). Same caveats as CO2 emissions.

        In each case, we can directly measure the progress made toward each goal; furthermore, we can evaluate the remaining work, and use this evaluation to distribute our efforts (i.e., money) most efficiently (e.g., if dropping down the remaining CO2 emissions to zero would cost more than all the other goals combined, then maybe it’s not worth it). I don’t think you can say this about many other leftist causes.

        • Silder says:

          Thank you – those are all perfect examples of what I was talking about.

          Reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions

          How much of a reduction? Whatever goal you have today is just fodder for more of the same tomorrow. Perfect for lefties to coalesce around – infinite coercive authority over anyone who tries to manufacture anything.

          Notice that the goal is the intermediate step and not the final outcome – presumably this is motivated by some concern about global warming climate change but the goal isn’t written in terms of ending climate change. This way, you can always find a different justification for why you needed to reduce CO2.

          Reduction of the percentage of energy that comes from fossil fuels, in favor of nuclear power (at the very least) or renewable sources (at best), such as solar.

          Again with the reduction thing – at least this one doesn’t have an infinite end game. This one does, however, fit with the “take issue with reality” thing I originally mentioned. What if solar and wind just aren’t viable even with technological advances? You seem to be a very unusual environmentalist who thinks nuclear should be considered. Most seem to set this goal up so that it’s impossible – without a huge reduction in energy usage (don’t worry, the party can determine who needs electricity the most, comrade).

          Reduction of resource extraction (mining, logging, etc.) in wilderness areas on Earth

          Again, why that goal? Why not “preserve a certain amount of wilderness”? (I’d even add “especially scenic wilderness that humans enjoy seeing (in person or video / pictures)”). Because the way you state the goal, there’s more control for the party. It’s a de facto land grab on the entire Earth – only usable with permission from the party.

          Preservation of rare plant and animal species that are facing extinction. These have to be taken on a case-by-case basis, IMO, but note that these include edible species such as fish.

          Preservation of fishing stocks is a very valid concern – which is completely different in nature from preserving the existence of every recorded species. Do you even know what the baseline extinction rate is if you use the definition of species that gets used in species preservation laws? With that definition of species there’s no way it’s visible in the historic record. Species is a really fuzzy line.

          Reduction of harmful chemical compounds (e.g. lead, mercury) that are released into air and water as the byproducts of industrial processes (in addition to CO2, which I already mentioned).

          Which has already happened to a massive degree over the last 50 or 60 years – nothing about reducing the harms from those chemicals, just “reduce the chemicals”. We’re 50 years down the road from the first reductions of those chemicals. This a perfect example of environmentalists not being satisfied with environmental goals and just asking for more and more process because the process gives them power.

          In each case, we can directly measure the progress made toward each goal; furthermore, we can evaluate the remaining work, and use this evaluation to distribute our efforts (i.e., money) most efficiently (e.g., if dropping down the remaining CO2 emissions to zero would cost more than all the other goals combined, then maybe it’s not worth it).

          This is literally the socialist calculation problem. Not worth it to whom? Who has the data to measure that and do that calculation (no one)? What incentive is there for the government body doing the calculation to actually even try to get it right?

          • Bugmaster says:

            How much of a reduction? Whatever goal you have today is just fodder for more of the same tomorrow.

            I think you should read my comment more carefully. I explicitly stated that a). reducing the emissions to zero is unrealistic, and b). I’d settle for reducing the rate of increase of the emissions to zero. This is a pretty finite goal.

            What if solar and wind just aren’t viable even with technological advances?

            What do you mean by “viable” ? That said, solar and wind are just examples, they were not meant to be exclusive (sorry for the confusion). Other renewable sources — such as hydroelectric, geothermal, some new thing we haven’t invented yet, etc. — are fine too.

            You seem to be a very unusual environmentalist who thinks nuclear should be considered.

            I can’t speak for other people, I can only speak for myself. Not sure what answer you’re looking for, here.

            Most seem to set this goal up so that it’s impossible – without a huge reduction in energy usage

            I do not advocate any kind of a government-mandated reduction in energy usage. However, I don’t see why even a conservative capitalist such as yourself would deliberately use more energy than is necessary. Energy costs money, you know.

            Again, why that goal? Why not “preserve a certain amount of wilderness”?

            I wanted to explicitly exclude natural disasters, e.g. a flood or an asteroid strike. Don’t get me wrong, there are good reasons to stop those as well, but they are out of scope for the environmentalist movement.

            Because the way you state the goal, there’s more control for the party.

            Which party ? What are you talking about ? I get the feeling that you somehow assume that the only possible implementation of any goal you disagree with is some kind of a totalitarian dictatorship, or maybe that everyone who disagrees with you is a mustache-twirling villain, or something. I am not one of those… but then, I suppose that’s exactly what an evil villain would say… *shrug*

            Species is a really fuzzy line.

            Sure, and that’s why I said “case by case basis”. But, off the top of my head, I’d rather live in a world with tuna, pandas, and honeybees in it; than a world without them. We could argue about what exactly does or does not count as a “honeybee” later.

            Which has already happened to a massive degree over the last 50 or 60 years – nothing about reducing the harms from those chemicals, just “reduce the chemicals”.

            The amount of lead in the environment has dropped drastically in the US, but not so much in other places in the world. Mercury has been dropping AFAIK, but is still above safe levels; before you complain, one good rule of thumb for what counts as “safe” is, “you can eat wild catfish without long-term ill effects”. Once again though, those two specific metals were just examples, and not an exclusive list. If you want to find more examples, go visit Beijing sometime.

            This is literally the socialist calculation problem. Not worth it to whom?

            Each goal I’ve listed has a measurable end point. This means that it’s possible to evaluate how much work is left before the goal is achieved. This means that when I, a voter, am deciding which proposal to vote for next, I may choose to drop goal A in favor of goals B and C, if finishing goal A would be prohibitively expensive. This is a pretty basic cost-benefit analysis; I can explain why cost-benefit analyses are useful in general, but you probably already know that…

          • The Nybbler says:

            b). I’d settle for reducing the rate of increase of the emissions to zero. This is a pretty finite goal.

            Which unfortunately implies a cap on energy usage and a decline in per-capita energy usage (i.e. an austerity plan), assuming population continues to increase (which seems inevitable in at least the short term).

            Other renewable sources — such as hydroelectric, geothermal, some new thing we haven’t invented yet, etc. — are fine too.

            Hydroelectric destroys ecosystems, geothermal kills geysers, contaminates rivers, etc. Regardless of what large-scale energy production people can come up with, it will have large scale environmental effects. I’ve even seen complaints about the reduction of planetary albedo due to solar panels. This leads to the philosophy of “f— it, if they’re going to oppose everything, just burn lignite”.

            I don’t see why even a conservative capitalist such as yourself would deliberately use more energy than is necessary. Energy costs money, you know.

            The time and effort it takes to reduce energy usage to the bare minimum for a given result ALSO costs money. This is especially true for an individual’s personal use, where the time and effort aren’t always fungible with money.

          • Iain says:

            Regardless of what large-scale energy production people can come up with, it will have large scale environmental effects. I’ve even seen complaints about the reduction of planetary albedo due to solar panels. This leads to the philosophy of “f— it, if they’re going to oppose everything, just burn lignite”.

            This is lazy. “Having large scale environmental effects” is not a binary property. It is entirely possible to evaluate the scope and scale of environmental effects, and incorporate that information into your decision making process. If you don’t think that environmentalists have been doing that analysis already, you need to hang out with a better class of environmentalist.

          • Silder says:

            I think you should read my comment more carefully. I explicitly stated that a). reducing the emissions to zero is unrealistic, and b). I’d settle for reducing the rate of increase of the emissions to zero. This is a pretty finite goal

            That’s a finite goal but it’s not a Schelling point. It’s an arbitrary point. Tomorrow comes along and I’m a better environmentalist than you because I demand less emissions. Clearly I should be running the department and you should be executed for being an enemy of the planet.

            What do you mean by “viable” ? That said, solar and wind are just examples, they were not meant to be exclusive (sorry for the confusion).

            Viable – able to generate sufficient power on demand at lower cost than current power supplies. No confusion on the wide array of possibilities but it seems like environmentalists just like them because they don’t exist.

            However, I don’t see why even a conservative capitalist such as yourself would deliberately use more energy than is necessary. Energy costs money, you know.

            Prices do a very good job at incentivizing businesses to use the correct amounts of resources.

            Which party ? What are you talking about ?

            Figure of speech – it was a succinct way of saying that your ideas set up a system where there’s a lot of centralized control that will go to exactly the wrong type of person.

            I’d rather live in a world with tuna, pandas, and honeybees in it; than a world without them. We could argue about what exactly does or does not count as a “honeybee” later.

            Yeah, honeybees are great which is the motte of the motte and bailey of “species protection”. Everyone thinks people should try to keep honeybees around – the bailey is that when you look at some particular type of fish or bird or insect the closer you look the more species you find and oh look, that land that you want to develop might have a unique species of bird that might be a subspecies or a different species depending on … well, nothing really other than whatever system gets set up to make that determination.

            [Side note – pandas really just seem like evolution finishing off a species that wandered off into an insufficiently high local maximum.]

            Each goal I’ve listed has a measurable end point. This means that it’s possible to evaluate how much work is left before the goal is achieved.

            No Schelling point, no point. Will always get outflanked by someone who wants more.

            This means that when I, a voter, am deciding which proposal to vote for next, I may choose to drop goal A in favor of goals B and C, if finishing goal A would be prohibitively expensive. This is a pretty basic cost-benefit analysis

            Nothing on Earth works like this – for a very good reason.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            @ Silder:. I thought Schelling points were supposed to be arbitrary? Like, there is no optimal place to meet, so you pick one that comes to mind? If so, 0 is a perfect Schelling point.

            Besides, for whatever reason environmentalists have mostly coordinated on 2° celsius climate increase as their target. Sure, someone might try to out-greening that, but I don’t see why environmentalism should be more vulnerable to this dynamic than any other ism.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @TheNybbler, Slider:

            Which unfortunately implies a cap on energy usage and a decline in per-capita energy usage (i.e. an austerity plan)

            I disagree. While some reduction in energy usage is not a terrible plan a priori (do you turn off your lights when you leave the house ? I do), it is by no means the only solution. As I said in my previous comment, I favor a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, via nuclear power as a stopgap measure. If you want to implement austerity on top of that, that’s your choice, not mine.

            Viable – able to generate sufficient power on demand at lower cost than current power supplies.

            Recently, there have been lots of news about major corporations and even some minor countries that have fully transitioned to solar or some other renewable energy to power their data centers. If that doesn’t count as “viable”, then why not ? Also, I’m afraid that by using the word “lower cost” you are ignoring negative externalities. It’s definitely cheaper to heat your apartment by setting your furniture on fire than by turning on an electric heater, but in the long run, you’ll actually end up losing money that way.

            Regardless of what large-scale energy production people can come up with, it will have large scale environmental effects.

            What Iain said. In addition, I’d once again like to point out that I by no means advocate anything like “zero environmental impact NOW or you’re a monster !!!11eleven!”. Maybe someone does, but I can’t speak for that guy, sorry. On that note:

            Figure of speech – it was a succinct way of saying that your ideas set up a system where there’s a lot of centralized control

            What do you mean by “a lot” ? And also, can you demonstrate that my stated goals necessarily lead to this (presumably, increased) amount of centralized control ?

            The time and effort it takes to reduce energy usage to the bare minimum for a given result ALSO costs money.

            Yes, I do support science grants in general, and grants aimed toward clean energy sources in particular. I understand that a hard-core libertarian would consider government grants of any kind to be theft, so if you’re one of those, we could discuss my disagreement with such a stance.

            Tomorrow comes along and I’m a better environmentalist than you because I demand less emissions.

            Yes, and ? Why should I listen to you ? I make my own decisions, and if your platform is built entirely on unachievable goals, then I’m not going to support you.

            …the bailey is that when you look at some particular type of fish or bird or insect the closer you look the more species you find…

            In general, I’d like to preserve as much biodiversity as is reasonably practical. This is different than saying, “maximize biodiversity at any cost”; there are more points on that spectrum than “0%” and “100%”.

            Nothing on Earth works like this – for a very good reason.

            I’m not at all sure what you mean by this sentence.

          • Silder says:

            Bugmaster –

            You’re saying reasonable things about specific policies but you’re missing the larger point.

            Policy comes from structure comes from organizing ideas. The discussion started with “why to leftist ideas sometimes end up with all the leftists killing each other” and you unwittingly provided an example.

            You have reasonable goals A, B and C but there’s nothing special about A, B and C – they’re just things that feel like enough but not too much to you. What happens with a movement is that it’s organized to gain some kind of power – that in the most hopeful case is based on some positive policy that the group wants implemented. Your group organizes, goes out and, if they’re democratic*, tries to gain power by convincing people that “something must be done” about your environmental issues. Since the people in power didn’t do those things the only people you trust to do them are members of your movement who you tried to insert into power positions. They accomplish A, B and C. Then they find out that they don’t much like giving up power and the same convincing that worked for A, B and C works for double A, double B and double C. Rinse and repeat because none of the goals you stated are stable coordination points – they’re just stuff you picked out and for the most part they’re not even actually the goals but the means towards human oriented goals (focusing on CO2 instead of climate, etc.). Of course there are power struggles as you move towards more and more of your goals and yet the results that you hope for remain out of reach or the costs mount (like I said above, lets assume for the sake of argument that the only energy sources capable of running modern civilization are a combination of fossil fuels and nuclear). Now that everyone is on board with the environmentalist message the winner in the power struggles is going to be someone more environmentalist.

            [*If they’re not democratic they go out and rob banks, use the money to buy guns and bombs and start shooting – if the group succeeds the guy in charge of solar power gets shot because not enough solar power gets produced since the holier man is the one who believes more purely in the potential of solar power and reality doesn’t care about what you believe about power generation.]

            Recently, there have been lots of news about major corporations and even some minor countries that have fully transitioned to solar or some other renewable energy to power their data centers. If that doesn’t count as “viable”, then why not ?

            Because it’s an obvious gimmick to game the political system for favors and money. Do companies print press releases when they come up with a slightly better internal payroll system that saves them money? Of course not.

          • Deiseach says:

            “you can eat wild catfish without long-term ill effects”

            From some posts I’ve seen on Tumblr, it looks more like “wild catfish can eat you”.

            Though they do say in the article that these are not the American species of catfish, so you’re probably safe not to be eaten the next time you go fishing.

          • Aapje says:

            @Silder

            Then they find out that they don’t much like giving up power and the same convincing that worked for A, B and C works for double A, double B and double C.

            The fallacy here is that you assume that when you solve a problem, people will not move on to a different problem. Do you act like that yourself? Probably not. So why expect others to always do so?

            If you are more convinced by actual examples:
            – Ozone layer decay was a major issue. Solutions were implemented, people moved on.
            – Acid rain was a major issue. Solutions were implemented, people moved on.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I disagree. While some reduction in energy usage is not a terrible plan a priori (do you turn off your lights when you leave the house ? I do)

            Easy stuff like that runs out very quickly.

            , it is by no means the only solution. As I said in my previous comment, I favor a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, via nuclear power as a stopgap measure.

            OK, so I as the Energy Czar decide to shut down 30% of the fossil fuel plants over the next 10 years and power up an equivalent amount of nuclear and renewable energy capacity. OK, I can shutter the fossil plants… but what’s going on with those nuclear plants? Environmentalists are protesting about waste, proliferation, fear of Chernobyl and Fukushima, warming of the water, killing fish in the intakes, ugliness of cooling tower, what have you. And not just protests but lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit. I could have built new coal plants far more easily.

            In the meantime, I’ve tried to build wind, but the Audubon Society sued over killing birds. I couldn’t get the ROW for transmission lines because they supposedly interfere with some sort of animal migration. And some rich people (not even environmentalists this time) complained about the view.

            I also tried solar, but was again blocked because my solar panels, transmission lines, and maintenance vehicles affected the delicate desert environment.

            And when I went to these environmentalists and asked them what should I do instead of what they objected to, some of them just pointed to the other sources… but most of them just said “conservation”. “People lived without air conditioning for centuries” they told me.

            Thing is, the environmental lobby has built an extremely good machine for stopping energy projects. This means if we want more power (which we do, to avoid austerity… especially if the environmentalists are managing to shutter the nuclear we already have) we have to stick with the fossil fuel Devil we know — he’s at least got a really good lobby of his own.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @Slider:
            You have described a pretty common failure mode for activist movements, but you have not explained why this failure mode is unique to the Left (or, possibly, just the Environmental Left). Everything you’ve said applies equally well to the Right, especially its activist Evangelical branch.

            To be fair, the Left has been winning a lot of culture wars up until now, but just because the Right lost, does not mean that it didn’t try.

            Furthermore, you have not explained why this failure mode is unavoidable and inevitable. Note that I personally serve as a counterpoint to this claim. For example, once the rate of increase of carbon emissions hits zero (or even becomes negative, though this is probably too much to hope for), I’ll stop caring about it (until it starts climbing up again).

          • Bugmaster says:

            @Deiseach:
            The lifespan of any catfish that eats me personally is likely to be measured in days, not weeks. Spread the word to all your catfish friends ! 🙂

          • Bugmaster says:

            @TheNybbler:

            Easy stuff like that runs out very quickly.

            Not really, since new solutions are always being invented. Unless, of course, you (acting in your capacity as the Libertarian Czar) decide to shut down all government research grants…

            …but what’s going on with those nuclear plants? Environmentalists are protesting about waste, proliferation, fear of Chernobyl and Fukushima…

            Yes, and I’d oppose those protesters just as you would. If people like you stopped fighting people like me just on principle (and vice versa), I bet we could put together a decent voting bloc… I know this won’t happen anytime soon, but still, food for thought.

            That said, the situation is not as grim as you make it sound. For example, Elon Musk and Tesla have been making significant progress on transitioning their factories to solar (not to mention, transitioning their cars to electric). Google is following suit, as are some other major corporations.

            So, it would appear that it is quite possible to get more power without falling back on fossil fuels, despite all those pesky protesters.

          • Silder says:

            You have described a pretty common failure mode for activist movements, but you have not explained why this failure mode is unique to the Left (or, possibly, just the Environmental Left). Everything you’ve said applies equally well to the Right, especially its activist Evangelical branch.

            It’s an attempt to explain a real existing phenomenon – leftist activism ends up with leftist activists getting to shoot each other in the back of the head. The first problem is to explain why. Then you have to get more nuanced to explain “why not always?”.

            If you’re talking about modern evangelicals I have no idea why you’d pick a powerless group that controls no cultural institutions – but beyond that it’s not really on topic because there haven’t been modern evangelical autogenocides. There have been leftist autogenocides. Two interesting things though – first evangelicals are less vulnerable to an infinite spiral because they have a source text to go back to that contains lots of moderating statements – that’s what a Schelling point looks like and second the “ideology that shall not be named because Scott can’t actually successfully argue against it” makes the point that American / Anglo leftism is the result of a Christian holiness spiral – one that had to discard the actual holy texts specifically because they were too effective a Schelling point.

            Furthermore, you have not explained why this failure mode is unavoidable and inevitable.

            It’s more on you to prove really really strongly that your ideology won’t lead to a known (literal) death spiral failure condition but given that I already explained why it’s likely – set out (what might be) impossible goals (replace all fossil fuels, keep up electricity production) and wait – can’t give up the goals, can’t avoid the energy apocalypse, lots of people get to freeze to death then people get to die who report that, etc.

            As far as

            Note that I personally serve as a counterpoint to this claim.

            No, you don’t. First of all the mechanism is that the beliefs that gain you power keep getting more extreme not “every single person changes their beliefs in a more extreme direction”. Second, you already demonstrated that you are subject to this exact process with environmental contamination! Much better in the western world than 50 years ago, therefore do more because, well, if you don’t believe you should do more you’re not an environmentalist. Third leftists on every conceivable issue always move left without even remembering that they did. “Gay marriage” in 1980 was a joke, Robin Williams starred in a major comedy where the joke was how ridiculous he looked wearing a dress, etc. The nature of leftism granting status to people on the basis of holding beliefs is a mechanism that pushes them to hold more and more extreme beliefs as their old beliefs get mainstreamed. I believe in National Parks, emissions controls and natural husbandry but I don’t get status points for it because that’s not enough to allow me to call myself an “environmentalist” (unless environmentalists are doing the motte and bailey of defining it broadly to seem popular the defining it narrowly to get their demands met – then I get to be an environmentalist (I guess)).

            For example, once the rate of increase of carbon emissions hits zero (or even becomes negative, though this is probably too much for), I’ll stop caring about it (until it starts climbing up again).

            That literally entails totalitarian control of any economic activity across the planet. The track record of leftists being given that type of power is uniformly horrific.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Bugmaster

            New solutions are invented all the time. New easy stuff isn’t. Turn off my lights when I leave the house, turn the heat/AC down when I’m not around…. easy stuff exhausted. After that, maybe I can replace the fridge if it’s not too new (this is the appliance with the most efficiency gain recently). Then it’s all hard stuff, and/or stuff which makes my life worse.

            Knocking down everyone’s house to put up super-sealed, super-insulated structures with heat-exchange ventilation and windows only on one side just isn’t going to happen.

            Yes, and I’d oppose those protesters just as you would.

            In the meantime, while you’re busy being ejected from the environmental movement, my constituents are freezing in the dark. In practice, the environmental movement as a whole opposes the union of all the things any significant subgroup opposes. So if I’m Energy Czar, there’s no point in trying to appease one or another subgroup of the environmental movement; if I can’t get them _all_ to agree then I’ll either be stymied or I’ll have to steamroller them. And there is no major energy source I can come up with where all will agree; the only thing they all agree on is people should use less energy. Further, I have the best ability per kilowatt to steamroller with fossil fuels.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @Slider, TheNybbler:
            I keep getting this increasingly strong feeling that you are not arguing with me, but rather, with the imaginary evil leftist liberal who lives in your head. I am not going to speak for that guy, I can only speak for myself.

            It’s an attempt to explain a real existing phenomenon – leftist activism ends up with leftist activists getting to shoot each other in the back of the head.

            Are you being literal, or metaphorical ? If so, can you offer up any examples — preferably those that occurred in semi-democratic societies such as the USA ?

            It’s more on you to prove really really strongly that your ideology won’t lead to a known (literal) death spiral failure…

            Are you seriously asking me to prove a negative ? I am not omniscient and neither are you, so please provide some positive evidence for your claim.

            Second, you already demonstrated that you are subject to this exact process with environmental contamination! Much better in the western world than 50 years ago, therefore do more because, well, if you don’t believe you should do more you’re not an environmentalist.

            That is a rather uncharitable interpretation of my argument. First of all, I never claimed to be some sort of a gatekeeper for the environmentalist movement; I have repeatedly stated that my beliefs are my own. Secondly, if the percentage of some toxic chemical in the ground water is (hypothetically) 10X above safe levels, and we reduce it to 5X, then that’s a cause for celebration but not a reason to stop working on it. Thirdly, I would love to improve the environmental conditions elsewhere in the world, too, but I feel a lot more strongly about the US — because I live here, and also because at least there’s some semblance of democracy here, unlike in e.g. China.

            That literally entails totalitarian control of any economic activity across the planet.

            You keep asserting this, but without some kind of evidence or chain of reasoning, your assertions are not persuasive.

            After that, maybe I can replace the fridge if it’s not too new (this is the appliance with the most efficiency gain recently).

            So, you’re saying that you’d exhausted the “easy stuff”, but then more “easy stuff” came along (in the form of a more efficient fridge), right ? Wasn’t this kind of my point ? Personally, I’ve recently upgraded to a hybrid car, because the model I wanted was literally as cheap as gasoline cars with comparable specs in my price range… so, why not ? It was the easy stuff, after all.

            Further, I have the best ability per kilowatt to steamroller with fossil fuels.

            As I said before, this is only true if you ignore the negative externalities. Setting your furniture on fire is super cheap in the short term, but buying an electric heater is going to cost a lot less long term.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I keep getting this increasingly strong feeling that you are not arguing with me, but rather, with the imaginary evil leftist liberal who lives in your head.

            I’m arguing with the “Environmentalist Left™”, which is perhaps an emergent phenomenon but a real one nonetheless. Any particular environmentalist may have a workable set of ideas, but each of those ideas will result in so much opposition from other environmentalists that it will be stymied.

            As I said before, this is only true if you ignore the negative externalities. Setting your furniture on fire is super cheap in the short term, but buying an electric heater is going to cost a lot less long term.

            The cost of externalities is less than the cost of not having power. As Energy Czar, I personally might be perfectly on board with transitioning to nuclear, solar, wind, or unicorn farts (which comprise hydrogen and oxygen in stoichiometric ratio) — but if I can’t build any of those, I’m better off building what I can than letting my subjects go without power.

          • Iain says:

            @The Nybbler:
            The transition to solar is happening. More than a third of all new capacity added to the US grid in 2016 was solar; if you add in wind, hydro, and nuclear power, you get up to two thirds environmentally friendly. I don’t know how we managed to sneak those plants past the dastardly environmentalists; I guess maybe they all took the year off.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Iain

            The numbers I find at the EIAs website do not match the article

            http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data.cfm#gencapacity

            In particular there appears to be more natural gas than solar. And that’s without accounting for this being net summer capacity, which makes solar look a lot bigger than it is.

          • Iain says:

            Which document are you looking at? I find it unlikely that Ars Technica is flat out lying about this, and much more likely that you are just looking in the wrong place.

          • Nornagest says:

            After doing some Excel to the raw XLS, I get a sum of 6,675 megawatts of nat gas, 4,206 megawatts of solar, 2,856 of wind, 1,122 of nuclear, 379 of hydro, and a smattering of others. (Including one coal plant, contrary to Ars Technica’s claim; but only one, and it’s not a big one at 50 MW.) On the other hand, there’s some odd features to this data: there are multiple entries for some nat gas installations with identical plant and generator codes, there are no solar thermal plants listed (though that might not be so strange if there’s only 1700 megawatts total in 2015), and the months only go up to October. On the gripping hand, though, it would be weird if the missing two months all went to solar and wind.

            If the existing-capacity figures for 2015 are trustworthy, solar (and wind) capacity in winter is not very different from in summer. But that’s weird enough to make me doubt either the figures or my understanding of them — sun angle alone should make a big difference, and then there’s weather and daylight length.

            If you take the sum of new installations and retirements, then renewable energy could be said to dominate — 6.6 gigawatts of coal went offline in 2016. But that’s not what Ars Technica is doing, since only 456 megawatts of nat gas did and that’s not enough to make up the difference with solar.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Iain

            I got the same numbers as Nornagest.

            Net Summer Capacity and Net Winter Capacity are both “The maximum output […] that generating equipment can supply to system load, as demonstrated by a multi-hour test”

            so day length and weather aren’t relevant; I’m surprised sun angle doesn’t make much of a difference but apparently it doesn’t.

          • Nornagest says:

            I found the missing two months: they are under this table, and are given as planned rather than completed. Which makes sense given that the figures were released in November, but I don’t think Ars Technica is being very honest by assuming they’ll all come in on time: big projects miss deadlines constantly, especially technically innovative ones.

            Anyway, they add a maximum of another 4,156 (!) megawatts of wind, 3,240 megawatts of solar, 1,020 of nat gas, and nine of hydro to the above figures. I think that matches the Ars Technica numbers, so mystery solved, I guess. It’s anyone’s guess how much of that actually came online; but you could probably take a shot at estimating it if you dug up the equivalent tables for 2015.

          • Iain says:

            The Ars article mentions that everybody tries to get their plant online before the end of December “to take advantage of the tax benefits of reaching operational status in the current year”, so it seems plausible that many of the proposed projects will actually finish on time. Either way, the exact numbers don’t really matter: my overall point (about how we are successfully building a lot of renewable energy plants) still stands.

          • For example, once the rate of increase of carbon emissions hits zero (or even becomes negative, though this is probably too much for), I’ll stop caring about it (until it starts climbing up again).

            That literally entails totalitarian control of any economic activity across the planet.

            I think that is an exaggeration. I think if four big polities (U.S., E.U., China and India) all decided to impose carbon taxes sufficient to produce a mild decrease in their CO2 emissions, that might well be enough to get the global rate of increase to zero.

            I’m not arguing that doing that would be desirable, but it doesn’t require totalitarian control of any economic activity across the planet, or anywhere for that matter–a carbon tax is well short of totalitarian control.

        • Reduction of harmful chemical compounds (e.g. lead, mercury)

          Harmful yes. Compounds no. Lead and Mercury have their own seats at the periodic table.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Silder is banned for this and other posts

    • cassander says:

      You’re leaving out the tens of millions of ukrainians/kulaks/and various other others that Stalin quite willingly put to death. Heck, Lenin started liquidating kulaks (who were others par excellence) less than a year after taking power.

      So it’s not that the left is mean to in groups and the right out groups, it’s that for the right, membership in the ingroup gives you more protection than it does not in the left.

      I ascribe this to two factors. One, the right wing belief in hierarchy keeps things from getting as crazy at the center. Once we have a Fuhrer, we stick with him, because he’s the Fuhrer. Two, the 20th century left has almost invariably defined the ingroup as those people who hold the right ideas, rather than members of a certain race or class. being the right race or class was a help, but it wasn’t the be all end. Because it’s about ideas, the left is more susceptible to spirals of virtue signalling, which keeps the center churning.

      As the left becomes more and more identity focused, more and more like the very old right, maybe this will change. Or maybe I’m full of crap.

      • dndnrsn says:

        The numbers of dead which Stalin was responsible for, the degree to which misfortune, incompetence, and malice caused deaths, etc are all still matters of debate. The numbers vary far more than the estimates of Nazi victims, either because the Germans were true to stereotype in keeping detailed records (eg Einsatzgruppen reports, Hoefle Telegram) or relevant information is still locked up in archives the Russian government has not opened.

        Timothy Snyder, hardly a fan of Stalin (I have seen him condemned by self-proclaimed communists for relying on “fascist” statistics, “fascist” meaning “not friendly enough to the USSR”) thinks six million civilians were intentionally killed under Stalin, nine million if you count unintentional but forseeable deaths. He gives the equivalent numbers for the Germans as eleven and twelve million. I haven’t run his numbers to see if he’s including the two and a half million Soviet POWs who died, and he doesn’t seem to be counting all the Soviet civilians who died during the war (which may be reasonable: for example, even if both sides had tried their utmost to keep civilians from starving, which the Soviets and especially the Germans didn’t – if you weren’t part of the war effort the Soviet authorities don’t seem to have cared much, and the Germans planned to starve tens of millions).

        I think that you are correct that the greater tendency on the right to consider biology plays a part. There were hard and fast limits on who could be a member of the ingroup in Nazi Germany, and on who could be members of the most hated outgroup (with some exceptions – there were a few cases of people with Jewish or half-Jewish fathers who were ruled to have been the result of cuckoldry, as an example).

        I think you are, however, incorrect that a belief in hierarchy was that much stronger among the Nazis. One of the reasons the German war effort was such a muddle was that Hitler played his subordinates off against each other for fear that one would get too powerful and challenge him, and they were constantly jockeying against each other, forming alliances, etc. Hitler was a terrible manager, and the Nazi hierarchy was extremely chaotic. Even when the fighting had reached Berlin, his underlings were playing power games against each other. Purity spirals also happened in Nazi Germany.

        • cassander says:

          Snyder’s figures are extremely conservative. they represent the absolute minimums that are decent. Other reputable figures with access to soviet archives, like conquest, give considerably higher totals. And he, of course, leaves out all deaths before stalin came to power in 1927, despite his complicity in the many murders of the earlier soviet state. He also, for some reason, leaves out the post-war deaths, most notably the 1946-7 famine.

          As to german post-war plans, these varied considerably during the war, and while all were awful, the degree of awfulness did vary considerably. It is unfair to pick out the worst of them.

          Both sides made plans that involved the deaths of millions. It seems unfair to knock the nazis for admitting this openly while rewarding the soviets plans that were just as murderous because they ignored the problem.

          >One of the reasons the German war effort was such a muddle was that Hitler played his subordinates off against each other for fear that one would get too powerful and challenge him, and they were constantly jockeying against each other, forming alliances, etc.

          I think this factor is overstated. There was plenty of infighting among senior leadership on all sides. it mattered less on the allied side because A, they were winning for most of the war, which makes things less acrimonious, and B, even when mistakes were made their massively greater material resources meant they were easier to afford. You also have to take into account that every history of german leadership during the war is based on testimony from people who had just lost a war and were desperately trying to avoid hanging. You’re not likely to get a lot of people defending Hitler’s management style in such circumstances.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I thought Conquest came up with his numbers during the middle of the Cold War. Did he revise them afterwards? Even if we double Snyder’s numbers, though, that’s still a couple million short of “tens of millions”. I think Snyder’s numbers solve the problem of apologists on the one hand who claim nobody died (and also they deserved it) and the people who claim that Stalin killed a large % of the Soviet population. Some claim Stalin was responsible for the deaths of around 50 million Soviets – that is a high enough % of the Soviet population that I am not sure if a state could function with that many people dying.

            (As a side note – I recall seeing an article written by self-proclaimed Maoist scholars, Westerners I believe, making the argument from statistics that the Great Leap Forward had only caused the deaths of 15 million…)

            As for German post-war plans, isn’t Generalplan Ost generally accepted as what they actually wanted to do?

            Regarding management and so forth in the Third Reich, I would draw a very significant line between the dictatorships and the democracies. Sure, there were power struggles and shuffles of personnel in the US or Britain, but nowhere near the infighting of Nazi Germany, and nowhere near as bloody as the USSR. FDR never had MacArthur, Patton, or Eisenhower shot or demoted for getting too popular.

            You are, of course, correct that post-war there was a boom in memoirs by surviving German higher-ups trying to blame everything on people who had committed suicide or been hanged. Still, I think the evidence that there was a lot more internal jockeying for power in Nazi Germany is good, even if it didn’t happen as the survivors said (example: Speer writing an entire book blaming everything on Himmler, when in fact the evidence suggests he and Himmler worked together quite closely).

          • cassander says:

            @dndnrsn

            >Did he revise them afterwards? E

            He did, and downwards somewhat, but still well more than Snyder, into the tens of millions.

            > Some claim Stalin was responsible for the deaths of around 50 million Soviets – that is a high enough % of the Soviet population that I am not sure if a state could function with that many people dying.

            well the Khmer rouge did kill something like 1/3 of the population of cambodia in just a few years, and were only stopped by outside invasion. Stalin’s deaths were spread out over a couple decades.

            Then you also have the ambiguous deaths, if stalin orders your penal battalion to walk across a minefield, do you count that as a stalin death? Does it matter if it’s in 1941, when stalin is desperately trying to stop the german invasion, or 1945 when he’s trying to conquer as much of eastern europe as he can?

            @Regarding management and so forth in the Third Reich, I would draw a very significant line between the dictatorships and the democracies. Sure, there were power struggles and shuffles of personnel in the US or Britain, but nowhere near the infighting of Nazi Germany, and nowhere near as bloody as the USSR. FDR never had MacArthur, Patton, or Eisenhower shot or demoted for getting too popular.

            Less bloody, sure, no question, but that doesn’t mean the machine functioned more smoothly. Alan brook, the Chief British general, loathed churchill, thought he was a mad man.

            >Still, I think the evidence that there was a lot more internal jockeying for power in Nazi Germany is good, even if it didn’t happen as the survivors said

            they were also losing. If you say “we can’t do X, it will be a disaster” and you win, criticism is muted, even if you take twice as many casualties as was predicted. Once you start losing, however, and are surrounded by lots of unambiguous disasters, there’s much more room for criticism and recrimination.

          • hyperboloid says:

            As to german post-war plans, these varied considerably during the war, and while all were awful, the degree of awfulness did vary considerably. It is unfair to pick out the worst of them.

            I think you’re vastly understating the violent
            nature of Nazi ideology.

            On the orders on Heinrich Himmler Generalplan Ost was drafted in 1940 by Hans Ehlich and Konrad Meyer, the head of the Race and Settlement Office of the SS. The plan classified the population of central and eastern Europe into racial groups, with “Aryan” elements to be germanized and the rest to be deported or eliminated. In the end the plan called for the removal of half of all Latvians, Estonians and Czechs, sixty percent of all Russians, sixty five percent of the population Ukraine, seventy five percent of the Belorussians, and eighty five percent of poles and Lithuanians, not to mention of course the extermination removal of the Jews.

            This was not a hypothetical document, as it was drafted by the architects of the of final solution; and as such we should consider holocaust as being but the first stage of this much greater plan.

          • cassander says:

            @hyperboloid

            >ith “Aryan” elements to be germanized and the rest to be deported or eliminated

            My point is precisely that there’s an enormous amount of difference between “deported” and “eliminated”, and plans wavered back and forth.

            My point is also that the Soviet plans for what they did when they won also involved deporting millions. And they were implemented.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @cassander:

            Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge was four years of disaster, though, while the USSR under Stalin played a huge role in winning a major war (inflicting almost 90% of German casualties) and took advantage of that war to conquer half of Europe. It’s highly unlikely that Stalin killed a % of the Soviet population similar to the Khmer Rouge.

            Concerning ambiguous deaths – I don’t know. I don’t know how you’d break down what’s the fault of the Germans (for starting the war) versus what’s the fault of the Soviets (for being willing to sacrifice troops and civilians). The degree to which the Soviets threw men at the enemy is significantly exaggerated, too.

            The degree to which things were messed up in Germany seem to have a lot to do with the personality of Hitler. The image of Hitler as dilettanteish, alternately micromanaging and ignoring important things, making important decisions based on who he talked to last, has been exaggerated, but there are non-post-war accounts of it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @hyperboloid/cassander:

            Planned German deportations and actual Soviet deportations both tended not to pay a great deal of attention as to whether those deported would be able to survive where they were deported to.

            Example: there’s some indication that the original German plans regarding the Jews that fell into their clutches was to deport them east of the Urals once the Soviet Union had been beaten, and the gassings and shootings were a response to the war against the Soviets not going as planned in mid-to-late 1941. However, deporting millions of people east of the Urals would have been a death sentence for a lot of them, as the Germans are unlikely to have provided those deported with what they would need to survive, let alone build sustainable communities.

            EDIT: and, as hyperboloid notes, “deported” is often a euphemism.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @cassander

            there’s an enormous amount of difference between “deported” and “eliminated”.

            Not when were talking about numbers like that there’s not. Where could you deport eighty five percent of the population of Poland, and sixty fiver percent of the population of western Russia except up a chimney? Siberia is big, but it’s not that big.

            The original version of my post mentioned early plans for the extermination of the Jews, i have revised this. There is historical controversy, but it’s likely the decision to move forwards with outright genocide was made some time after the launch of operation Barbarossa, as it became clear that Germany simply had no place to send the vast Jewish population now under it’s control.

            The acquisition of lebensraum in the east was Germany’s primary war aim, it’s unlikely the Nazis would give up on this if it became impractical to do it without mass killing, rather I think they would have used the methods that had proven so effective already.

          • cassander says:

            @dndnrsn

            >It’s highly unlikely that Stalin killed a % of the Soviet population similar to the Khmer Rouge.

            Oh, he definitely didn’t, no question there. Let’s say he killed 20 million. the vast majority of those were in the 30s, which means he was killing 1-2 million a year. There were 150 million people in the USSR in 1926, so he was killing maybe 1 percent of the population a year. If half of those deaths happened just in 33, that would be 6%. Now, 6% is an enormous number of deaths, ww1 caused 4.5% deaths in france and germany, but given that the red army lost something like 7 million in the first year of the war, we know the system could take it.

            >The degree to which the Soviets threw men at the enemy is significantly exaggerated, too.

            Yes and no. They were absolutely willing to throw men at the enemy and did so. The popular perception is that that was ALL that they did, and that’s definitely false.

            >The image of Hitler as dilettanteish, alternately micromanaging and ignoring important things, making important decisions based on who he talked to last, has been exaggerated, but there are non-post-war accounts of it.

            Agreed, but there are similar accounts of FDR and Churchill. FDR’s management style was to keep things deliberately (as far as we can tell) up in the air for as long as possible so he could avoid making difficult decisions before he had to in the hopes that they’d go away. Churchill at one point got in a fight over whether or not troops would be allowed to wear regimental badges or not. Now, I happen to think he was actually correct in that particular instance.

            @dndnrsn and hyperbolloid

            >Planned German deportations and actual Soviet deportations both tended not to pay a great deal of attention as to whether those deported would be able to survive where they were deported to.

            Whether they survived depends considerably more on how quickly they were deported than to where. There is plenty of habitable land east of the urals (the urals are at almost exactly 60 degrees, moscow ~40). And millions of people were living there pre-war. If they all got stuck in cattle cars and dumped the day the war was , it would have been a death sentence for most. If they were more gradually moved (say, in waves to make room for german settlers) , the situation becomes much more like stalin’s forced populations transfers post ww2.

            >The acquisition of lebensraum in the east was Germany’s primary war aim, it’s unlikely the Nazis would give up on this if it became impractical to do it with out mass killing, rather I think they would use the methods that had proven so effective already.

            I agree, absolutely no doubt. But the question is not “would they give up lebensraum if they couldn’t do it without killing”, it’s “would they have given up the killing if they could get lebensraum without it.” And there I suspect the answer is yes.

          • dndnrsn says:

            20 million, which is just over double Snyder’s total, is still lower than a lot of the “how many did Stalin kill?” numbers. And 9 million is still enough to be way up there on the “history’s monsters” leaderboard.

            I suppose with the Soviets, the Cold War and lack of translation, stuff still being archived away, etc, there’s a really distorted view of their way of making war. Too many English-speaking audiences have gotten their view of the war in the East from German sources, and German generals, at least, seem to have really wanted to deny that the Red Army had some very competent leaders, and did some things really well.

            Granted with regard to FDR and Churchill. You might be right that the Germans just had less wiggle room to screw up. I do think that he had more of a tendency to screw things up by dint of personality type, though.

            People can definitely live east of the Urals, but those are communities that have grown up organically over time. Dumping people out of cattle cars is probably the form things would have taken.

            And, where in the world is there good agricultural land that somebody isn’t already living on? Most of the world’s good agricultural land has been taken for a long time. Sure, if it was possible to get farmland, resources, etc without doing nasty stuff, most people would take that. But the history of humanity consists in large part of people deciding that it’s better to have gold and grain with blood on your hands than be poor with a clean conscience.

    • Tracy W says:

      One way I’ve heard it put, by a commentator (who I’m not going to name as they were speaking privately) on NZ’s political system (so waaayyyy less dramatic than your examples) was that the left side’s starting point is what is the ethical thing to do. While the right side’s starting point is that’s the world’s imperfect and how do we know what to do?

      So left-wing disagreements are about morality, while right-wing disagreements are about knowledge. “If you disagree with someone on the right they’re likely to think you’re an idiot or a fool. If you disagree with someone on the left, they’re likely to think you evil.”

      But then NZ’s right wing is more the ACT party, which tends libertarian (or similar movements within the National party), we don’t have that politically important group of evangelical Christians the US seems to have.

      • Callum G says:

        If you disagree with someone on the right they’re likely to think you’re an idiot or a fool. If you disagree with someone on the left, they’re likely to think you evil.

        That fits with my experience of NZ politics. One area where I do see a difference is climate change; disagreeing with the left on climate change makes you both an idiot and evil.

        Though I don’t think this fully explains our fracturing of the left. Labour and the Greens don’t seem to have significantly differ on morality. Other than a couple of key points, such as the environment, the two groups are well aligned. They’ve even signed that Memorandum of Understanding. I’d argue their differences stem from how radically they want to change things, and how they aim to go about the changes they both want to see. These sound like knowledge arguments.

        Maybe an Idealism/Conservatism divide more accurately explains this. Both left and right want to see the country in a better state, but the idealist left believes this needs large-scale change. Disagreeing with them is taken as disagreeing with their utopic end goal which makes you evil. There is also a lot of room for different end-states and/or ways of getting to the end-state which explains the left-wing fracturing. On the other hand, conservatives believe things are not actually going horribly wrong. So if the government is going to intervene it needs to have good reason to do so (namely through free market improvements). Disagreeing with the right is disagreeing with their evidence-driven improvements. Which makes you an idiot.

    • Jiro says:

      I would point out that the discrepancy could also be explained as a corollary of Cthulhu always swimming left: the right is just trying to stay in the same place and not have things taken away from them. The left is trying to take things from the right. The latter is a lot more prone to infighting than the former.

      Yes, bathroom laws, but those only happened because the left broke the status quo first and the right is trying to undo that.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      Meanwhile, the friends of mine who are involved in right-wing politics do not describe anything like that. However, in North America, the right seems to do a fair bit more stuff nasty to small, weak, defenceless outgroups than the left, from where I’m standing at least. I can’t think of anything comparable to, say, passing laws binding people to bathrooms based on birth sex.

      Driving random people out of business for expressing Barack Obama’s 2012 views on gay marriage seems like a good example.

      • Deiseach says:

        I can’t think of anything comparable to, say, passing laws binding people to bathrooms based on birth sex.

        I think most (right-wing?) people think this is a red herring; that is, it’s not about “what bathroom can I use?”, it’s about getting trans rights recognised and this is an easy introductory issue.

        Suppose a person who dresses and looks like a woman goes into a woman’s bathroom. How do you know if this is a cis woman or a trans woman (that is, born male/assigned male at birth or however you want to use the label)? You can’t tell, unless there is some reason to suspect “this person in a dress isn’t a woman” based on how they look or behave.

        The way that this is presented, however, you’d swear that, in the backwards states where the evil discriminatory bathroom laws have been passed, there are bathroom police stopping people and demanding their birth certs (or pulling down their underwear to check their genitals) before letting them into the bathroom.

        Now, schools would be a special case; if everyone knows Johnnie used to go into the boys’ bathroom but now “Janie” wants to use the girls’ bathroom, most students and teachers will know Johnnie = Janie. In that case, Janie may well feel all the pain and suffering she claims she feels when told to use the boys’ bathroom. But for a public bathroom where it’s all strangers? Who knows? Who can tell? Unless you have someone who cannot physically pass for the gender they are claiming, in which case it will not be malign transphobia at fault, it will be a genuine case of “I thought this was a guy trying to get into the women’s bathroom”.

        But this makes an easy wedge issue: get the idea of “anyone can use any facilities regardless of what gender or what gender orientation they claim” accepted and normalised, and then you can move on to the really tough questions.

        • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

          I don’t get it. Why would there have to be bathroom police? Most people are going to obey the evil discriminatory law anyway, and most of those that don’t will be afraid of getting caught; either way, the law causes genuine suffering.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Driving random people out of business for expressing Barack Obama’s 2012 views on gay marriage seems like a good example.

        Obama was pro-gay-marriage in 2012. His views had “evolved.”

        Your point still holds, just not as strongly. If you took a Rip-van-Winkle-nap in 2010 and woke up in 2015 holding what had been the position of the sitting Democratic President at the time you went out, you were a monster.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      In modern times, does the right have a tendency to be shitty to the outgroup that the left doesn’t have, and the left a tendency to turn on itself in a way the right doesn’t?

      My gut response, strengthened by going through the earlier comments, is “define ‘left’ and ‘right'”. ISTR significant struggling with this in another OT not too long ago.

      If what you really mean is Republican and Democrat, I can supply the following existence proofs:

      Republicans turning on itself: Tea Party, and people who use the term c*ckservative. (I notice how, in the case of the TP, this often looks like red-tribe-Reps turning on blue-tribe-Reps.)

      Democrats being shitty to the outgroup: those who use the term “gun nut”, or who overtly hate corporations and those who run them, or anyone who talks about the right as if they’re dumb / greedy / delusional / etc., or else they wouldn’t be on the right.

      • dndnrsn says:

        In your first counterexample – the Tea Party is a good example of internal fighting – it was a purge of Rockefeller Republicans, basically, “blue tribe Republicans” (everyone seems to forget that blue/red tribe was supposed to be about culture, not politics – a generation or two ago there were plenty of good ol’ boy Democrats and northeastern Republicans). However, the latter example – how many of the people who toss that term around were ever good Republicans?

        In your second counterexample, I’m … I don’t know, this is the big weakness in my half-assed notion. I think that the Democrats have gotten considerably meaner over the past decade or so, and am going to start another topic on it.

        Of course, the left-wing activist types who turn on each other so readily are not doctrinaire Democrats, often not Democrats at all.

        • ChetC3 says:

          everyone seems to forget that blue/red tribe was supposed to be about culture, not politics

          There was never much there to forget. It’s one bit of lazy punditry breeding more lazy punditry. The blue/red tribe stuff was never rigorous enough to amount to anything better.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Oh, it was never especially rigorous, but it got less rigorous when it turned into shorthand for “left/right”.

          • ChetC3 says:

            Which happened within… minutes? seconds?… of the original post going up.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Oh, at least fifteen minutes. I don’t use the red/blue tribe designations because I think they’re silly and destroy nuance.

    • Jaskologist says:

      I can’t think of anything comparable to, say, passing laws binding people to bathrooms based on birth sex.

      I think you have the case exactly backwards. First the left passed a bill banning single-sex bathrooms for all businesses, private or public. Then the right passed a law superseding that law, letting private businesses do what they like (as it had been before). And they also declared that government-owned facilities are single-sex, since apparently that has to be made explicit now.

      • AnonEEmous says:

        I really wish they’d left government bathrooms alone, though. Life is difficult.

      • tscharf says:

        The state also informed Charlotte they would pass this counter law in response if they proceeded with the first bathroom law. So Charlotte specifically picked the fight, none of this was done in a vacuum. They all picked a lose/lose scenario.

        My view is simply these laws weren’t ever necessary in the first place as I must have missed the big bathroom rape epidemic. It was unwise for the left because it was case in point for incoherent priorities in places they wanted to win elections.

        Religious groups may be shrinking but there is no need to intentionally alienate them to garner support of a transgender community you already have the votes from and this law wasn’t going to change any facts on the ground. My guess is this was a net loss politically for little gain.

        I do feel that organizations like the NCAA and NBA shouldn’t be taking sides in this type of stuff.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          As a follow-up to your first paragraph, Charlotte repealed their ordinance, which the state said would cause them to repeal HB2, but, nope.

          I agree with your other paragraphs.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I can’t think of anything comparable to, say, passing laws binding people to bathrooms based on birth sex.

      No such law. The law binds people to bathrooms based on legal sex; a transsexual who went through the formalities (and operations) would be bound by their adopted sex, not their birth sex. It was nominally aimed at perverts who would simply claim to be transgender in order to gain access to the mysteries of the women’s bathroom; of course, in reality, it was just tribal warfare.

      As for who left wing activists are hurting…. well, there’s the University of Virginia, its Dean of Students, and all its fraternities, particularly Phi Kappa Psi. There’s one Curtis Yarvin (a.k.a Mencius Moldbug), declared persona non grata at at least one professional conference. Certainly the Death Eaters count as a small, weak, defenseless outgroup, right? There’s all the college men subject to the unreasonable sexual misconduct policies (and their one-sided enforcement) left-wing activists have gotten installed at universities. There’s the stuff going on inside certain tech companies; here’s the fictional version: http://archive.is/qqNOb ; the real version is… not much better.

    • Spookykou says:

      I have noticed a trend in the comments here(and I really have no idea if it extends beyond the comments here), where it seems to me that people on the right are more likely to make broad sweeping generalizations about the left, and people on the left are more likely to bake in ad hominem attacks with their rebuttal, and just generally be meaner/snarkier in terms of tone.

      I think this might just be a matter of personal perspective though, as I tend to think that the left has won, is winning, and will continue to win, I normally don’t get ‘personally’ upset when people make broad sweeping attacks against the left. I am however a deeply insecure person, so I take it very ‘personally’ when somebody heavily implies(or directly says) that the person they are talking to is stupid/amoral etc.

      An example that really solidified this opinion for me involved somebody taking a broad swipe at Keynesian economics being unscientific(not personal?), and somebody replying with what an odious opinion that was(personal?).

      • cassander says:

        I think this fits in well with the “the right thinks the left is stupid, the left thinks the right is evil”

        • Jaskologist says:

          I think the right is more and more coming around to the idea that the other guys are evil.

          • JayT says:

            I think that the religious right, especially when it comes to abortion, have always found the left to be holding evil ideas, though they tend to claim that they “love the sinner, hate the sin”.

            The economic right (whatever that means today) never really had any hate. They would look at people that wanted something like, say, an increased minimum wage and they would understand that the left wing person just wanted to improve poor people’s lives, but the right winger would disagree on how to do that.

      • TenMinute says:

        (and I really have no idea if it extends beyond the comments here)

        Probably not. It’s just an artifact of what the two sides are allowed to get away with under the current moderation policy. Rude right-wingers are banned, so they substitute with arguments.

    • beleester says:

      Just today on Reddit I found the strangest argument between alt-righters who were worried about the threat the Jews pose vs. alt-righters who were worried about the onslaught of multiculturalism and saw the anti-Jew guys as distracted from the real threat. So I would say that any group can have subcultures that furiously disagree over tiny ideological details.

      But since /r/socialism is currently having a meltdown over pictures of catgirls, I think you might have a point that the left seems to have a bigger problem with infighting than the right.

      (Yeah, I know that data is not the plural of anecdote, but I had the perfect pair of anecdotes and I couldn’t resist sharing.)

      • TenMinute says:

        Often what seems to be a “tiny ideological detail” to an outsider is actually a major point of contention over fundamental issues.

        For example, does socialism entail ridding the world of “problematic” art, however the Dictatorship of the Proles currently chooses to define that?
        For leftism to function as a practical system for enforcing permanent social revolution, it must be capable of stifling any dissent, including through art (hence the disillusionment of East German communist artists like Bertolt Brecht). Artists who think they can just draw anything without the party’s permission must be taught a lesson.
        So catgirls are as good a thing to ban as any of the other weird examples of Soviet/left censorship. Remember when eggplants emojis were a reactionary tool of the patriarchy?

        Meanwhile, the argument over whether Jews qua Jews are a corrupting influence and the cause of the evils of multiculturalism (versus western-atheist-progressive Jews simply being particularly blatant examples of a different source of corruption) is a significant issue on the far right.
        Deciding on one or the other would inform the whole direction of our strategy going forward, and so the “tiny detail” once again becomes an important point of contention.

        (As an aside, I emphatically side with Moldberg in seeing antisemitism as a particularly stupid distraction, but can see why other people confronting the same evidence would disagree.)

    • Moon says:

      The Right Wing in the U.S. is far more authoritarian than the Left. So the Left gets a normal amount of infighting, whereas the Right has to toe the line and follow their leaders closely or else they get harshly punished. The leaders demand uniform pursuit of goals dictated from above, by the Koch brothers and a few other Gods of the Right.

      Also, during Obama’s presidency, the Right used to control everything except the presidency– i.e. the Congress, SCOTUS until Scalia died, most governorships, most state legislatures. Now, after Trump, the Right controls absolutely everything. So those on the Left are being marginalized, demonized by Fox, Breitbart, Drudge etc., and just generally abused. They hardly ever even comment on the numoerus message boards on the Net, like this one, that are dominated by the Right.

      Maybe the Left would like to strike back against the Right but they can’t. Because the Right controls the media (e.g. “America’s most trusted news source, which is Fox) and the political system– everything. So, like rats in those experiments where rats are electric shocked while in a cage with more than one rat, they take it out on each other.

      • Nornagest says:

        Also, during Obama’s presidency, the Right used to control everything except the presidency– i.e. the Congress, SCOTUS until Scalia died, most governorships, most state legislatures

        Democrats had control of both houses of Congress from 2009 to 2011 (the 111th Congress), and control was split from 2011 to 2013 (the 112th). The same appears to be true of most state legislatures although I’m having a harder time finding statistics there. Most state governorships, too, were Democratic until the 2010 elections. Partisanship in the Roberts Court prior to Scalia’s death was generally considered split, with Kennedy usually as the swing vote, although it was a bit more right-leaning than the Rehnquist Court.

      • Evan Þ says:

        America’s most trusted news source, which is Fox

        How would you respond to my argument downthread that the statistic proves nothing, because it only asks for responders’ single most trusted channel?

        Also, where’s your evidence aside from Fox News for the Right controlling the media?

      • The leaders demand uniform pursuit of goals dictated from above, by the Koch brothers and a few other Gods of the Right.

        You are saying that people on the right have to be in favor of free trade, mass immigration, amnesty for illegal immigrants and opposed to interventions abroad? I didn’t know that.

        • IrishDude says:

          “You are saying that people on the right have to be in favor of free trade, mass immigration, amnesty for illegal immigrants and opposed to interventions abroad?”…and pro-choice, for criminal justice reform, gay marriage, and cutting defense spending, and opposed to crony-capitalism, the drug war and the Patriot Act.

      • Civilis says:

        The Right Wing in the U.S. is far more authoritarian than the Left. So the Left gets a normal amount of infighting, whereas the Right has to toe the line and follow their leaders closely or else they get harshly punished. The leaders demand uniform pursuit of goals dictated from above, by the Koch brothers and a few other Gods of the Right.

        I’ll start with the polite response. How would an independent observer test this theory? What tests would they run and what data would they gather to see if you are correct? (I’m looking for data, not anecdotes.)

        • Civilis says:

          The Right Wing in the U.S. is far more authoritarian than the Left. So the Left gets a normal amount of infighting, whereas the Right has to toe the line and follow their leaders closely or else they get harshly punished. The leaders demand uniform pursuit of goals dictated from above, by the Koch brothers and a few other Gods of the Right.

          Now for the… more emotional response.

          We’ve just had an election, one where the political establishment of the party of the right, their leaders, saw their party hijacked by a complete and total outsider (and where the multiple outsider candidates did much better than anyone the party leadership tried to push). The left, on the other hand, saw the party of the left’s establishment practically cheat to push an unpopular establishment leftist to the top over an outsider, then lock down in conformity. You’ve put out a statement without even trying to account for the largest piece of evidence that directly contradicts your argument. (And I can argue with evidence that this is not just an isolated incident; the Brat / Cantor election, the Pauls, the Tea Party, all outsiders on the right.)

          Again, I’m experiencing a lot of stress, and I hope what I’m saying does not come across as against the spirit of free debate Scott is trying to push here, but perhaps nobody is listening to you because you’re not even trying to acknowledge that another explanation might be possible?

  16. Liriodendron says:

    I love your blog! It’s in my aggregator on my list of the “best” 10% that I prioritize reading. I even recommended it in my Christmas letter this year. XD

    Can I direct you to another of my favorites that I think you’d like, Jane the Actuary? Some of my favorite posts by her recently have been about Aleppo (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/janetheactuary/2016/12/aleppo-war-like.html) and Trump’s options for distancing himself from his business interests (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/janetheactuary/2016/11/on-trumps-business-dealings-the-right-answer-isnt-clear.html). They’re short but rational.

    I’m also commenting on her blog here (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/janetheactuary/2017/01/open-forum-predictions-please.html#comment-3101685158) to connect you in the other direction. (I’m not affiliated with her blog.)

  17. cmurdock says:

    Regarding that Jaskology post about magic, this part struck me as probably inaccurate:

    “In a book filled with Platonic-style proofs, this is the only part where he actually gives the reader an experiment that they can try themselves. That is how confident Athanasius is in this argument. It is hard to imagine that he would have felt this way if he had not personally witnessed the experiment carried out on numerous occasions.”

    I recently read two books that touched somewhat on this kind of thinking: “The Invention of Science” and “Magic in the Middle Ages”. Going off of both of them, it is quite striking how frequent it used to be for people to swear by the effectiveness of various bizarre rituals of folk magic which they cannot possibly have seen work (like using garlic to destroy a magnet). The entire idea that one ought to test some procedure in order to determine if it works might be one of those things that is more modern than people realize.

  18. Atlas says:

    Some random thoughts about the “open borders for Israel” meme/argument:

    This seems like a ubiquitous part of almost every white nationalist’s world view: from innumerable Twitter trolls to every other Ramzpaul video to “Jewish Double Standards on Immigration and Multiculturalism in Israel vs. the Diaspora” being one of the tags with the highest # of entries on the Occidental Observer dot com. Recently, Richard Spencer—with a more humorous than malicious tone—put this question to a rabbi, who was evidently struck speechless by it and Kevin MacDonald’s speech at the NPI conference dealt with it to a considerable extent .

    I want to emphasize that I don’t think this argument is wrong per se. If you get really emotionally disturbed by nationalism by European people, in the sense of supporting restrictionist racial/ethnic immigration policies, but not so upset about the exact same policies being taken as the baseline in countries like Israel, Japan and South Korea, you should probably re-think your world view a little. But I do think that it’s a limited and shallow argument in quite a few ways that many white nationalists and anti-white nationalists might not appreciate, since many of the former seem to expect that their opponents’ heads will explode when presented with it.

    1) While it is inconsistent in an absolute sense to support (or at least not actively oppose) a Jewish majority in Israel while actively opposing a Euro-American majority in the U.S., I think people don’t think about politics in absolute so much as relative terms. That is to say, I think people think about the politics of different countries and time periods within their respective Overton Windows. (For example, progressives generally like Abraham Lincoln even though they would crucify a modern politician with his stated views on race because he was considerably less racist than many of his contemporaries.) The live issues in the U.S., in terms of things like immigration and affirmative action, on the globalism/nationalism scale are pretty far to the globalist side in terms of the median acceptable viewpoint, whereas in Israel, with stuff like wars and the status of the occupied territories, they’re further to the nationalist side. But I think that, generally speaking, people who have a relatively globalist or nationalist tilt in one country’s politics relative to the center will also have that tilt in the other’s.

    Thus, while a typical left-liberal like Matt Yglesias probably wouldn’t support, if asked, the exact same immigration policies for the US and Israel, they probably also are on the more dovish/pro-Palestinian side of the Israeli Overton Window on issues like military actions and settlements. So if you angrily tweet at Yglesias “but whatabout open borders for Israel!11!!1!??” it doesn’t really emotionally trigger him, despite the logical contradiction, because in both cases the political tribe he identifies with is the one that opposes nationalism/ethnocentrism and tries to push for inter-group cooperation. (For better or for worse.)

    Another example of this is how Asian-Americans, despite hailing from countries with very restrictive immigration policies, tend to vote by considerable margins for the more pro-immigration Democratic Party in the US. (Even when, as with Japanese-Americans today, the immigration of their own ethnic group isn’t a relevant issue.) But that isn’t because they’re hypocrites nefariously plotting to destroy Western civilization; it’s because they think about politics in the context of the country of their residence/birth/socialization, not the ethno-state that their co-ethnics live in.

    Again, this isn’t to say that its unfair or incorrect to point out such a contradiction, only to explain why it isn’t as powerful of a gotcha as many white nationalists seem to expect it would be.

    2) The person to whom you should properly address the question of “open borders for Israel?” is someone who actually supports open borders for the US. Open borders, the unrestricted flow of people between countries, is a position held generally (though this is perhaps changing) by libertarians like Bryan Caplan and leftists like Chris Bertram fairly far out of the mainstream political debate. And I really wouldn’t be at all surprised if they would support open borders for Israel if asked. (And I think a fair number of leftists, at least judging by the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at my college, are generally very critical of Israel and support a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which seems like it should reasonably shield them from any suspicion of being overly fond of Zionism.)

    And this ties into point 1 in that I would conjecture that “globalists” in the Anglosphere/Europe, whether they consciously see it this way or not, would like to ultimately build a Fukuyaman end of history world of perpetual peace, global capitalism and democracy wherein older boundaries of and conflicts between nations, religions and races are naturally eroded over time. And I suspect that they wouldn’t really have any problem (again, for better or for worse) with Jewish identity, in addition to all other identities, being dissolved in such a world. And I would conjecture that this is often reflected in their personal lives, insofar as they marry and have children with non-Jews and don’t try too hard to impart a Jewish cultural/religious heritage to their children.

    3) There are a lot of differences between the US, continental European countries and Israel besides the fact that Israel is a Jewish state that might lead people to support different immigration policies for them. Israel is much smaller in terms of population and territory; Israel was/is in a state of frequent semi-militarized conflict with its neighbors; Israel specifically is extraordinarily disliked by large portions of the world; and the ethnic group comprising Israel was the victim of a genocide still within living memory.

    The point being, I suspect that if the population of such a country was Japanese or Mexican or Norwegian many of the same people who are now accused of having inconsistent positions on immigration because Israel is Jewish would also have seemingly inconsistent positions, despite not being Japanese, Mexican or Norwegian. Conversely, if Israel was a totally peaceful country on the European continent with a population of 100 million and a long history, I strongly suspect many American Jews would indeed support e.g. Israel taking in lots of Syrian refugees.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      The point of the meme, and one of the reasons it works, is that it creates a rhetorical trap for establishment figures.

      Mainstream Liberal and “Conservative” politicians are across-the-board vocally pro-Israel and pro-Zionism, even if they quietly disagree with Israeli policy in terms of their personal politics. This, of course, makes sense. Being pro-Israel pulls in a lot of money from wealthy donors and can be used to mobilize Evangelical Christian voters. Being anti-Israel, in contrast, invites suspicion of antisemitism from the media: who is this person, and why do they care about Jews so much?

      So by framing the question this way you can force people to either refute Israel’s Right to Exist or to endorse an explicitly racial immigration policy, either of which is politically unacceptable. In practice most do what you do here: throw out a bunch of unconvincing special pleading which reinforces the idea of elite hypocrisy.

      (There is a way out of the trap, which a lot of folks on the non-mainstream Left take. You can oppose the ideas of a Jewish Israel and a White America simultaneously and for the same reason. It’s not a position restricted to gentiles either: most of the Jews I knew growing up held this position.)

      • AnonEEmous says:

        You know, frankly, I’ve never gotten the “israel has racial immigration” meme. Israel has plenty of diversity, including even non-Jewish migrants, lots of Arabs, and so forth. It’s not like you can’t get in if you aren’t Jewish, at least to the best of my knowledge. It’s more like “original descendents of this country can return anytime they want; everyone else is subject to additional controls, just like every other country”. Moreover, usually it’s directed at American Jews, who are squishy as hell when it comes to supporting Israel anyhow, versus Israeli Jews, who don’t fuck with American Jews half the time anyhow and are definitely non-squishy.

    • webnaut says:

      I think what disconcerts rightists is the ‘Wedge’ issue. The minority appears to treat the majority as if it shall always exist, even as they invite other minorities in. Personally I think this is short sighted.

      Suppose this trend continues for a while. Now there are no majorities, only a mixture of minorities and no obvious ‘overlord’ group. Okay.

      The question a rightist now has is: Why? Have we not landed ourselves in an incredibly dangerous situation?

      We can observe that birds of a feather self select to be in each others company. Different groups won’t dissolve into each other like South Park’s ‘goobacks’ from the future. Some groups are always going to blame other groups for something. There would be a fragmentation process where similar groups merge and dissimilar ones fly further apart.

      I believe the majority served a function in creating a kind of balance. Once you’ve removed the majority as ‘moderator’, you have a society made of rival factions but no cohesion. It is easy now for some groups to overwhelm others because there is no penalty for doing so.

      It is generally accepted that a hegemony in politics is a positive thing, it encourages peace. For example; America has been the world’s ‘umpire’ for quite a while now, mostly it has been a success since no major powers have gone to war, which against the benchmark of history is remarkable.

      Without having a majority power, you create the equivalent of the multi-polar world within a nation state. Do we start giving different States or Religions or other internal factions WMDs to keep the peace running?

      • TenMinute says:

        But the left’s answer is that we must dissolve into each other, because there is now no other option (and it’s too late to object to their policies that caused this situation in the first place).
        Either they don’t agree with you that a fragmentation process will happen, or they don’t care.

        • webnaut says:

          This seems totalitarian to me.

          I don’t mind who people marry. If whites and blacks and asians want to interbreed, that is their business. However from that statement it follows it’s not my business if they *don’t* interbreed either.

          Zenophiles are a tiny minority. The statistics on web dating prove that different groups definitely exhibit ingroup preferences.

          I think the Internet is holding up a mirror to society and showing many elements of reality that could have been papered over or dismissed as non-existent in former times.

          Talking of ignoring reality, I’m fascinated by the existence of the panorama of sexual proclivities found online, which seems to be ignored by the academics who study humans.

          It seems to me it should be ‘boom time’ for research for them, yet I believe the only studies I’ve heard of come from the porn sites themselves. Is there a reason for this or have I missed something?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Zenophiles are a tiny minority.

            Very true. Most people want to reach the climax in a finite amount of time. /pedantry

            As for studies, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a great deal of research on porn consumption. The issue is that sexology isn’t exactly the firmest ground to build on. I wouldn’t particularly trust research coming out of that corner of academia given their strong biases and poor track record.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        There are three problems here:

        1. You use the example of US hegemony in the world as an analogue of hegemony by one cultural group within a country. But the US is 5% of the world. A majority is not necessary to enforce hegemony, at least not the extremely incomplete sort of hegemony that the US has now.

        2. You agree with certain experts that hegemony is good for peace, but as far as I’m aware Metternich’s multipolar system is still the winner.

        3. It is a fact that groups dissolve into each other. South Park is not evidence. What is evidence is the percentage of US Jews who can speak Yiddish.

        • cassander says:

          > A majority is not necessary to enforce hegemony, at least not the extremely incomplete sort of hegemony that the US has now.

          The US has a lot more than 5% of the world’s power though. In sheer military power, the US probably does have something like a majority.

        • webnaut says:

          1. Thoughts on hegemony.

          I mention (not clearly, and they are intertwined) two types of hegemony. Cultural and Military.

          A Military hegemony obviously doesn’t require a literal majority demographically, but does require a monopoly on the use of force. In that sense, the USA is a military majority. Indeed they spend more on weapons systems than most of the other countries in the world put together.

          Cultural hegemony is more complicated. Within a country over long periods e.g. decades to centuries, it does matter who is the majority in a society, because they set the market demands and the ‘tone’ of a society.

          As for cultural domination between countries, I would argue that it should be cherry picked. I like many aspects of American culture, but dislike many other parts of it. I’m sure Americans can empathize with my plight.

          So there are probably some parts of culture which are objectively better or worse (and so we ought to all ‘upgrade’ to the better parts), but other parts are geographically specific and yet other parts are optional.

          A great example of this is the Japanese. They copied the Victorian pocket doors and umbrellas. That is not what made their nation an industrial society. Yet somehow their copying of Anglo culture managed to copy some superior systems along with some of the miscellanea. Then the Japanese managed to improve on many aspects of a culture that was originally my own. They never became ‘Anglo’. They became a different, more sophisticated, Japanese people. This is the model I would approve of.

          2. Thoughts on unipolar/bipolar/multipolar systems.

          I agree this subject is more complicated than I’ve suggested. Each polarity has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is not clear to me that a unipolar world was preferable to a bipolar world for example, because it seems to me that America stagnated in some vital ways since the Cold War ended.

          My prior is that a multi-polar world with WMDs is more dangerous than either a bi-polar or uni-polar world. I feel I need to do more research in this area though, so this assumption may change.

          3. Thoughts on Groups assimilating into each other.

          No. Here we disagree.

          As I have mentioned somewhere on this thread, different groups do *not* actually merge together. Internet dating studies confirm it. A small minority do but the majority do not. This pattern is so universal it can only be something biological.

          https://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/race-attraction-2009-2014/

          US Jews failing to learn Yiddish is not evidence Jews will not exist in America’s future. I write and speak English, but my genes aren’t English. It’s easier to ‘dissolve’ memetics than genetics.

          The Jewish people will adapt and change (e.g. dropping Yiddish) but I fully expect that in 100 years time the genetic stock will be extremely similar. Not just biology but also in culture. I expect than in 2117, people will be able to point at a person and say “That’s a Jewish person”. What “Jew” meant culturally could have changed but in a deeper more important sense, it won’t have because culture is downstream from biology and that won’t have changed much.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            In the specific case of American Jews, you’re incorrect. There has been a massive amount of intermarriage by non-Orthodox Jews: their current population numbers are buoyed up by the combination of high birth rates and low retention rates of the Haredim. If there are still American Jews in a century they will be almost entirely the descendants of today’s Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

            More generally, I think it’s an understandable mistake to see a small percentage of exogamy and say that this won’t have a significant impact in the long term. I’m running out the door now but brief periods of contact can have lasting genetic ramifications.

          • Spookykou says:

            Indeed they spend more on weapons systems than most of the other countries in the world put together.

            I think that the US military budget is between 30-50% of the world’s military budget depending on where you look.

    • > are generally very critical of Israel and support a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

      How? Its very clearly the Rwanda solution for the Jews in Isreal.

      Who the hell thinks that bringing together two groups, one of which had to build a border wall enforced by the military to stop constant terrorist attacks and suicide bombings, is a good idea?

      • Silder says:

        Who the hell thinks that bringing together two groups, one of which had to build a border wall enforced by the military to stop constant terrorist attacks and suicide bombings, is a good idea?

        Everyone who wants Muslim immigration into Europe?

      • birdboy2000 says:

        I do.

        Mostly because I (like the public statements of most of the groups actually carrying out these attacks) treat Palestinian terrorism not as an expression of genocidal hatred against the Jewish people or their presence in Palestine, but as acts of irregular warfare aimed at the destruction of the Israeli state.

        People do awful things in war – and Israel has atrocities to reckon with as well. It doesn’t preclude the possibility of ever making peace.

        • You may not like the way peace is accomplished when confronted with societies that may have expansionist and violently angry philosophies, or perhaps just have a national feeling of vengeance.

          ““Negotiators can’t get what he wants. Anyway, Iranians can’t use one [a nuclear weapon] if they finally make one. The boys in Tehran know Israel has 200, all targeted on Tehran, and we have thousands,” Powell wrote, LobeLog reported.

          “As Akmdinijad (sic) [said], ‘What would we do with one, polish it?’ I have spoken publicly about both nK (North Korea) and Iran. We’ll blow up the only thing they care about — regime survival. Where, how would they even test one?” he said, referring to former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

        • webnaut says:

          In my country Catholics and Protestants originally fought together.

          Gradually it became about race and religion. People with nuanced views were naturally selected.

          There is something of a game theory quality to sectarianism. Notice how only the most radical Islamist factions remained in Syria after only a short time.

          Similarly many non-natives migrants to Europe may switch to ‘their own’ if the terrorism succeeds, thus propagating more terror/civil war. That’s how sectarianism works.

          It irritates me a great deal when people compare ‘falls in bath/showers’ or ‘number of car accidents’ to terrorism. The true threat is the chain reaction of violence that occurs when enough people who are angry and afraid reaches critical mass.

          • Moon says:

            Well, since it is apparently nowhere near critical mass now, why should we address it now? Why shouldn’t we do like we do with climate change, where we are planning to address it at the last minute, if ever? Why should it be a more urgent concern than things where there is plenty of evidence that they are more urgent now? I mean other than it being a political hot button issue that successfully wins votes for people like DT?

          • webnaut says:

            @Moon

            Good question.

            We should address it now because humans can reproduce their offspring and memetics geometrically.

            Talking about humans in this way often causes a ‘mental block’. Let’s talk about mold in houses instead.

            When a mold starts in a spot, usually near the ceiling in a corner of a kitchen or bathroom, it appears to spread slowly. It covers the wall and ceiling by Day 25, but say only half by Day 24 etc.

            The population growth rates and growth in violence are interconnected because of resource constraints. The left will say ‘education, housing, healthcare’ the right will say ‘genetics’, ‘culture’, and both are correct.

            In many scenarios Biology and Culture are an inseparable feedback loop.

            Islam is an ideology (there are parallels with Catholicism, which once used a similar strategy, and still does in Africa) that generates conflict with a reproductive strategy (mass repro-attack, like a tank rush in a game) that deliberately generates high population to generate poverty to generate conflict and thus take over in totality.

            tldr; It’s about population growth rates and how social conditioning can reinforce each other to create a spiral towards an ultimate conflict. Islam is just one prominent example, there are others e.g. pyramid schemes, supremacist ideology.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Mostly because I (like the public statements of most of the groups actually carrying out these attacks) treat Palestinian terrorism not as an expression of genocidal hatred against the Jewish people or their presence in Palestine, but as acts of irregular warfare aimed at the destruction of the Israeli state.

          What is the practical difference between those two objectives? At the end of the day, Israel is still destroyed and the Jews are all gone, one way or another.

          People do awful things in war – and Israel has atrocities to reckon with as well. It doesn’t preclude the possibility of ever making peace.

          Pretty words, but what is the specific proposal here?

          • If for some reason, there was a violent displacement of muslims during WW2 and a great amount of from europe or somewhere else were moved into that area, perhaps displacing other groups of people(known to be muslim) would there still be terrorist attacks to that day? And calls of politicians in nearby countries saying “Death to *whatever the name would be* ”

            Assume the group moved into the area were also the same specific sub-set, like sunni/shia

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            If you’re imagining specifically that, say, Sunnis were moved into a Shia area? I could see that happening, assuming that the world indulged and enabled the anti-Sunni factions in the same way they indulge and enable the anti-Israel ones.

            I’m willing to agree that Middle Eastern Islamic antipathy to Israel isn’t fundamentally about Judaism — yes, there are anti-Semitic elements in the Quran and elsewhere, but it’s not like most other places in the world are in a position to throw stones. It’s more that the pre-existing anti-Semitism in the west and in the Middle East is used as a convenient weapon by anti-Zionists.

          • birdboy2000 says:

            The State of Israel being destroyed need not mean the massacre of Jews in Palestine. The proposal of most Palestinian resistance groups (historically, and currently among those who reject the two-state solution AFAIK) is a state comprised of the current Israel, West Bank, and Gaza Strip, governed on a one-person, one-vote basis, which allows the return of Palestinian refugees and does not discriminate based on religion.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @birdboy2000

            Almost no one believes that’s viable. If you were to have your one-person one-vote state with right of Palestinian return, as soon as Jews became the minority they’d be expelled or killed.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @The Nybbler: I agree that a binational state would turn into an instant bloodbath, but I slightly disagree with the ultimate result in that it’s entirely possible the Jews would refuse to let themselves be killed or chased out. Give it a year or two and you might have Israel right back where it was before, only way more angry and bitter and disinclined to listen to international do-gooders.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        Bosnia is OK.

    • ivvenalis says:

      I think this:

      The live issues in the U.S., in terms of things like immigration and affirmative action, on the globalism/nationalism scale are pretty far to the globalist side in terms of the median acceptable viewpoint, whereas in Israel, with stuff like wars and the status of the occupied territories, they’re further to the nationalist side.

      is just restating the meme. The whole point is that stuff that’s beyond the pale in the United States (“Build a Wall to Keep Our Country X”) is the “moderate” position in Israel. That’s on top of the fact that plenty of people who think it’s unacceptable to Build the Wall apparently support Likud. “Well, Israel is less globalist than Britain” — but why? And wouldn’t that imply that pro-globalism people should be spending more time denouncing Israeli policy?

      Regarding the actual term “open borders”, Open Borders is indeed something of a fringe policy to advocate explicitly, but right-wingers like to point out that lots of leftists act “as if” Open Borders is the correct position even if they don’t use that term. The practical difference between “anyone who shows up can live here” and Open Borders is nil. Additionally both the humanitarian and especially economic arguments for Open Borders are often employed rhetorically but without explicitly taking them to their logical conclusions. Again, the difference between “more immigrants improves our economy without diminishing returns, and these economic improvements are greater than any downsides” and Open Borders is nonexistent.

      I’m not sure why (the perception of) Israel being a militarized pariah state or whether European Jews were subject to an attempted genocide is an argument for why Israel shouldn’t take in refugees or allow more non-Jewish settlement.

  19. Graeme says:

    I read a news story years ago about the work of a sociologist (?). He classified various kinds of magical thinking in modern culture and how that relates to the ways we assign worth. I think he came up with 5 categories and they all linked back to classical kinds of magic.

    One of his classification examples was that signatures from famous people are seen as valuable, while identical copies made by others aren’t.

    Does anyone remember who this was and what the classifications are?

    • rin573 says:

      Are you thinking of Matthew Hutson? He wrote a book on “Seven Laws of Magical Thinking” and there was an article in Psychology Today a few years ago going over the main ideas.

      • Graeme says:

        I don’t think that was exactly what I remember (though it could be about the same guy). Very interesting read all the same. Thanks!

  20. Lila Rieber says:

    You may need to update your review of the risks of THC: http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2017/Cannabis-Health-Effects/Cannabis-conclusions.pdf

    Notably:
    “There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, with the highest risk among the most frequent users.” (In the full book they clarify that this is causal.)
    “There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.”

    I’m very high-risk for psychosis, and the only reason I used THC (in limited amounts) was based on your post saying that it probably wasn’t causal for psychosis.

    • S_J says:

      I’ve seen discussions of anecdotal evidence…statements by mental-health professional that a large number of people treated for schizophrenia in the U.S. were users of cannabis before they were diagnosed with schizophrenia.

      However, it was hard to get good statistical evidence on this. And it was harder to get statistical evidence of the number of cannabis users who were never diagnosed with schizophrenia.

      Thus, the relative risk of cannabis use was hard to measure. Mostly because the legal risk of anyone admitting cannabis use, and the lack of information about the potency of THC combinations used by various people.

      With those caveats in mind, I haven’t looked closely at the article you linked.

      Do those authors have a way around the problems I’ve stated?

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      You seem to be overstating both the report and Scott’s blog entry.

      (In the full book they clarify that this is causal.)

      Do you have a pincite? I see lots of talk about “assocation” and this quote is from page 238: “As noted in Box 12-1, the relationship between cannabis use, cannabis use disorder, and psychoses may be multi-directional and complex.

      This is essentially the same non-conclusion offered in the SSC marijuana explainer. He lists a bunch of studies, including one providing a relative risk, and even includes an increase in schizophrenia cases in his util analysis. I certainly do not see anything that could be construed as “probably not causal, smoke ’em if you got ’em.”

      • Lila Rieber says:

        In the book it says, “Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use the greater the risk.”

  21. AnarchyDice says:

    Various commenters were talking about the federal budget proposals in the previous open thread, but it got me wondering when they described the deficit as 9 trillion over ten years. Is there some relevant factor I’m missing in all of this?

    Why are federal budgets described by their ten year projections when they are renewed every year or few years at most? It just seems like a nonsense way to exaggerate deficits by a factor of ten.

    • cassander says:

      Congressional budgets include longer term projections of their impact, 10 years usually, though there are exceptions. Theoretically, this is a good practice that prevents people from gaming the budget year to year to make their proposals look cheaper or more expansive than they actually are and takes into account that costs for things can be uneven. In practice, however, it’s a convention that’s starting to get gamed. The ACA, for example, was heavily backloaded to reduce its apparent cost through the standard window.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Realistically, it’s been gamed for a long time. Under Bush the GOP congress was (in)famous for writing up budget plans that had all their savings in the out-years. Then the next year’s budget would push all those savings out one more year, and so forth. At this point I’m not even certain it’s worth doing, although it’s probably a bigger problem that budgets never get passed through normal order any more — we should fix that first.

    • AnarchyDice says:

      I hadn’t thought of it from the perspective of trying to make deficits seem less or benefits seem more by gaming it that way, considering the massive deficits they give in ten year totals.

      Not that I have a better solution, accounting is a cluster of fun based on who is making what assumptions when.

      Side note, found some data they published about their own accuracy. https://www.cbo.gov/publication/50831
      They have better accuracy than I would have guessed before reading this, but not particularly great accuracy if they’re getting between 10-15% off by six years out, and that being averaged out to be in the direction of guessing higher revenues than received and lower costs than paid.

  22. dndnrsn says:

    @Paul Brinkley/Earthly Knight/cassander

    Decided to start a new thread because it’s a different issue, but there’s arguments above about whether left or right is more in tune with reality in the US, references to Democrats being nasty to the (Republican) outgroup, and there’s been previous discussion of civility left vs. right.

    Based entirely on highly scientific personal observations, I think that the mainstream left is lagging the mainstream right in the US by about ten years in nastiness to the outgroup, civility, and connection with reality. Mainstream being, I suppose, anyone who would vote R or D without holding their nose too much.

    Ten or so years ago, I remember online discussion (see, like I said, highly scientific what I’m doing here) featuring far more vitriol from the right than the left. Democrats were moonbat traitors who didn’t support the troops. Meanwhile, it was in 2008 that conspiracy theories became somewhat mainstream-respectable in the Republican party, with the Birther stuff.

    This election saw a fair bit of vitriol from both sides, but I don’t remember the degree of vitriol by the left towards Republican voters being anywhere near as high in 2012, let alone 2008. Additionally, it looks like conspiracy theories (half of all Democrat voters believe that the Russians actually tampered with the vote count – as far as I know, no intelligence agency is saying or even suggesting this) are starting to go mainstream.

    Does this match other people’s memories?

    • cassander says:

      Democrats spent 4 years claiming that bush was selected not elected and not my president, darkly whispering about diebold voting machines stealing the next election. Then, 3 months ago, when everyone thought hillary was going to win, questioning the results/legitimacy of elections was treason.

      What i think you’re seeing is not that the left is 10 years behind, but that being out of power makes you nastier/more conspiracy minded. You don’t question the system when it’s giving you what you want.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Were there really conspiracy theories in 2000? The narrative I remember (I was fairly young, though) was “the ballots were badly designed and there were issues with machines accurately marking them, it was very close due in part to resulting voting screwups, it went to the court, and the court decided along partisan lines”. I don’t remember anyone suggesting there was a conspiracy for this to happen.

        Diebold is a decent point, but wasn’t that a fairly brief thing? I don’t recall it having much in the way of legs.

        • cassander says:

          Absolutely. Job bush was governor of florida, remember. There were wild rumors of mass voter suppression, stolen elections, boxes of ballots hidden away, etc. And the story still isn’t dead. Conspiracy might be a strong term for what they’re describing, it’s more like “conspiratorially taking advantage of a close election.”

        • Civilis says:

          It might depend on what you remember. Rhetoric is hard to gauge as to which side is worse.

          The first thing that sticks with me is that the left dominates the narrative, and can whitewash history, so of course they don’t remember their own mistakes. I can understand a Democrat that thinks it’s wrong for Trump to even accept the appearance of being supported by the Russians, but I feel justified disregarding their opinion unless they’re willing to throw Ted Kennedy under the bus for doing the same with the Soviet Union. (Seriously, the Kennedy family alone is the source of more potential embarrassment for the Democrats than the Clintons could even dream of being. From wanting to imprison people that disagree for holding unpopular opinions while holding unpopular opinions themselves to massive sexual assault allegations to outright collaboration with the Nazis, it’s hard to find anything that isn’t potentially lurking in their closets.)

          What I also remember are riots and protests. I remember (barely; I was in 8th grade) the ‘No Blood For Oil’ protests when they were new in 1990. I remember when LA burned after the Rodney King verdict. I remember DC being on lockdown in 2000 from the IMF protests. What I don’t remember is anything comparable from the right. Perhaps I’m missing it; I welcome counter-examples of massive, illegal disruptions of American life by Republicans in the past 40 years that have been handwaved away.

        • TenMinute says:

          My middle school history teacher went on a rant in class about how Bush stole the election by rigging Florida.
          Yes, there were a lot of conspiracy theories.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Meh.

          I think the story in 2000 was far more about process and conflict of interest. The SoS in Florida (nominally in charge of counting the ballots statewide) was also the head of the Bush campaign in Florida.

          The Diebold conspiracy stuff was 2004 when it came down to Ohio.

        • registrationisdumb says:

          Diebold is still a thing, though not necessarily by the same name. Lots of trump supporters thought the voting machines were gonna be rigged this time around, and in previous elections there was actually proof that Ron Paul votes weren’t counted in some districts.

    • James Miller says:

      The American left’s outgroup consists of other American citizens, whereas the American right’s outgroup consists mostly of non-U.S. citizens.

      • ChetC3 says:

        Unless you’re so far gone you no longer count the American left as US citizens, this is obviously false.

        • Moon says:

          Of course he’s that far gone, LOL. At least seventy something percent of eligible voters did not vote for Trump– either voted for someone else or didn’t vote. If the voting machines were fraudulently programmed, then it’s far more than seventy something percent, maybe eighty or ninety something percent.

          But when people win an election, they start fantasizing that they are the majority. And fantasizing that the false “news” they believe– about illegal immigration being a huge problem in the U.S.– is true. They think they are the majority, and think they are right about tons of things they are wrong about.

          That’s the power of winning. It gives people delusions of grandeur. Look at DT. He won the genetic lottery, having a wealthy father, and was apparently able to build on that wealth– although not necessarily. We haven’t seen his tax returns so we don’t know. Incredible delusions of grandeur.

          • Iain says:

            As I’ve said before: given the profusion of things that are actually wrong with Donald J Trump, President-Elect of the United States of America, please stop wasting your time and ours with unsubstantiated claims about voting machines.

          • Moon says:

            Okay, I will substantiate my claims. I do not know if they were, in fact, hacked, only that they are very easy to hack or fraudulently manipulate.

            Here’s how hackers might mess with electronic voting on Election Day
            http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/heres-how-hackers-could-mess-with-electronic-voting/

            Some states — including swing states — have flawed voting systems
            http://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2016/11/1/13486386/election-rigged-paper-trail-audit

            Could the 2016 Election Be Stolen with Help from Electronic Voting Machines?
            http://www.democracynow.org/2016/2/23/could_the_2016_election_be_stolen

            Liberal bashing is surely our national pastime in the U.S. Even liberals love to bash other liberals, to make themselves feel loved and included with everyone else.

            I guess the person who talked about liberal circular firing squads may actually have a point. I’ve got the bullet holes in me to prove it.

          • Evan Þ says:

            But by that evidence, Moon, couldn’t we just as well call into question Obama’s win in 2012, or any other victory since these voting machines were adopted? Yes, voting machines are horribly, inexcusably insecure. But there’s no specific evidence their insecurities were exploited specifically this year.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            “It could have happened” is not evidence that something happened.

            As for “at least seventy something percent of eligible voters did not vote for Trump,” even higher percentages did not vote for Bill Clinton. Was he illegitimate?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Moon

            I agree with Iain, you should leave off about the voting machines. The fact that they could have been hacked quite easily is no evidence that they were. It would have been easy for Ted Cruz to have zodiacally killed some people if he had wanted to, but that doesn’t prove he was the Zodiac Killer.

          • carvenvisage says:

            IDK why people criticise moon for this.

            ‘they could have been hacked just as easily before’

            yeah, and that’s TERRIBLE. Two potentially fraudulent elections don’t make a right.

            And obviously people aren’t comparably incentivised to be a serial killer as to win a presidential election, and tampering with machines is a lot easier than avoiding exposure as the zodiac killer while running for a presidential nomination. That’s one of the worst analogies I’ve ever heard

          • Evan Þ says:

            @carvenvisage, what do you propose we do about these two (or actually more) potentially-fraudulent elections, which led to Congressmen and at least one President who have already served in office for years? Shall they be hustled out as illegitimate and everything they’ve done instantly overturned as usurpations?

            What I’m saying is, if you won’t do that, you don’t have any grounds to call Trump illegitimate now. If good evidence of actual fraud turns up – great; that’s another question! But now, he’s a presumptively-legitimate President-elect.

            (And by all means, get paper ballots so we don’t go through these questions another time two years from now!)

          • carvenvisage says:

            I just think the machines are a big deal. If someone is acting like this is new, they should be informed, and if that fails, slapped. My main proposal is that in a democracy election security is really important and brushing about concerns about it, even if they are partisanised, shouldn’t play well and probably won’t.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            There’s another problem here, with the assertion that the machines are “easily hackable.” Because, well, yes and no.

            Individual machines might have poor security, but there’s a (wrong) image people get of some dude in his basement, no doubt wearing sunglasses and a black trenchcoat, somehow logging onto “the election” and changing all the numbers, and it doesn’t work that way. Every state in a Presidential election has a jumble of different voting mechanisms, some paper, some electronic, some both, and even within a state you’re going to have a similar jumble maintained in a chaotic fashion at best with questionable connections to outside networks, and if you wanted to “hack the election” you’d have to somehow know which states and even counties were going to be close enough to shift and have vulnerabilities in place for thousands upon thousands of machines in those locations to create a plausible result that won’t have paranoid poll watchers freaking out the next day. There’s just no way.

            Now, I agree that we need universal paper records. Frankly, I’d be just fine with purely paper balloting, because physical records are the best way to reassure everyone that things are on the up-and-up. And if one was talking about tiny local elections in one town or maybe a small district, well, suddenly a hacker making a few tweaks becomes at least somewhat plausible, and we should guard against that. But to believe that there’s any real chance that this particular “election was hacked” is not justifiable.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            and tampering with machines is a lot easier than avoiding exposure as the zodiac killer while running for a presidential nomination.

            There are two separate matters here, whether it is easy to hack the machines and whether it is easy, having done so, to avoid detection. I have nothing to say about the first of these, but the latter will be quite difficult to pull off. In any given US presidential election there are going to be tens of thousands of people carefully scrutinizing the vote totals, county by county, precinct by precinct, and comparing them with population statistics and the results of past elections. Someone is pretty much guaranteed to notice any significant irregularity. This means that the hacker would have to be extremely sophisticated in the sociology of US elections to avoid detection.

          • Nornagest says:

            I haven’t worked with voting machines myself, but I’ve worked with people that have, and I’ve read industry papers and watched talks on the subject. Some systems are very vulnerable indeed, though in all but the worst cases you’d need an inside job (or a lot of luck and foresight) and the tampering would be pretty clear afterwards. But there are almost as many systems out there as there are precincts, and that makes a coordinated campaign of fraud, the kind of thing that might actually swing elections, extremely difficult. It’s far outside the weight class of individual hackers or even large groups. Major nation-states might be able to do it, if they had enough on the line to make it worthwhile. But doing it and not getting caught? I don’t think even Russia or China could do that. There are too many points of failure, and too many eyes on the problem.

            That PBS article is garbage, by the way; everything it says is technically true, but naive readers are likely to come away with a less rather than a more realistic model of the threat landscape. The Vox article is the best of the three, as far as it goes.

          • webnaut says:

            Hi moon

            I’d like to reply to your reply in a different part of this thread, but apparently there’s a depth limit on how far comments can be nested.

            How do SSCers normally handle this problem?

            I could reply somewhere else but then the context would be lost + potentially you or I wouldn’t see replies.

          • Aapje says:

            @webnaut

            The normal solution is to name the person you are responding to, like you did.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The reason for voting machines over paper is that the voting machine is completely binary. They register a vote for A or a vote for B or no vote. Paper ballots can be extremely vague. Is this a vote for A and B? B and a third party? Is this ballot spoiled so much that we throw away what is otherwise a clear vote for A?

            You know what we don’t want? An election with 67 votes for A, 64 votes for B, and 12 votes that are “these kind of look like a vote for B, don’t you think?”

            It’s tough to break someone of thinking that accuracy is the single most important thing. But having a clear result is the most important thing. It’s why we have democracy and not mob rule. We’d rather have high confidence in an erroneous answer than truly knowing that the answer is unclear.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Edward Scizorhands, do we really have high confidence in the results of an election done on easily-hackable voting machines? What if (unlike this time) it turns out there’s good evidence they actually were hacked?

            Meanwhile, about voters messing up their paper ballots (hello Florida 2000, groan and moan), I can see two good answers:

            * Throw out any and every spoiled ballot. The voter has failed the implicit intelligence test required to vote.

            * Have paper ballots printed by machine, with the bubbles already filled in. The machine can keep a record if you want, but the official result is on the paper ballots, which are always counted.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            do we really have high confidence in the results of an election done on easily-hackable voting machines

            Yes. Because regardless of “easily hacked” we have no evidence they were actually hacked.

            Throw out any and every spoiled ballot.

            This is not an objective test. What if they erased one answer and wrote in another? What if they wrote the same answer twice. Do you want the presidency hanging on whether a clerk thinks a chad was 45% punches of 55% punched, when the clerk knows that?

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            What if they erased one answer and wrote in another? What if they wrote the same answer twice.

            In our elections, the instructions are clear: tick one box using the pen provided. If you tick the wrong box, you take your voting paper back to the clerk and get a new one. No doubt there’s still room for people to mess it up, but not in numbers sufficient to cause a problem. In the rare event of an election result hanging on a few indeterminate ballots, I assume the Electoral Commission would make the final call.

            … but that’s not as much of a problem for us as it is for you, because any given decision is only going to affect one seat, which isn’t usually going to change the overall outcome of the election. Even if it is, we probably won’t know that for sure, since it depends on the outcome of negotiations between the larger parties and the smaller parties.

            (Come to think of it, if your Electoral College worked the way it was intended to, there’d be no way to be sure that the Presidency would hinge on the result of the vote in any particular district. Any argument about hanging chads or whatever would presumably be much lower-key.)

            Do you want the presidency hanging on whether a clerk thinks a chad was 45% punches of 55% punched, when the clerk knows that?

            I think better that than the clerk (or, in some cases, pretty much anybody else in the vicinity) knowing that they can change the vote totals directly without any significant risk of getting caught. At least the clerk’s decision can be taken to the courts if it comes to that.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Well, empirically, a whole lot of people don’t have high confidence in the last election right now.

            And regarding paper ballots – what do you think about my second idea, which I like better than the first anyway?

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Perhaps I should say “a clear wrong answer is preferred over a fuzzy right answer.” The point of elections is to avoid civil war. If the answer to an election is “I dunno who won” we’ve lost that.

            On your paper ballot idea, I’ve suggested it myself years ago. The computer spits out a paper ballot that is then inserted into the official vote counting box. You don’t worry if the computer is hacked or whatever. It’s just an assistant and not to be trusted.

          • webnaut says:

            @Aapje

            Thanks. Inelegant but it’ll work.

        • cassander says:

          I believe James’ claim was that their outgroup was “a different group of american citizens”, not that “the outgroup isn’t american citizens”.

          • Iain says:

            And ChetC3’s response was that the American right’s outgroup is, in fact, the American left — which is, last anybody checked, still made up of American citizens.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          There are different levels of outgroup and ingroup. The impression I get is that, in general, for the American right the American left is the outgroup compared to other members of the American right, but the ingroup compared to foreigners.

        • James Miller says:

          The mainstream right doesn’t consider the American left to be the outgroup, for the right the left is pathetic, not evil. I might be defining “outgroup” differently from you. For me, the outgroup are people you can’t tolerate, people you think deserve to suffer.

          • Aapje says:

            @Miller

            I would argue exactly the opposite. The ‘Republicans vote against their self-interest’ narrative is condescension, not fear. And the American right’s willingness to block any Democrat legislation that they could, seems based on a belief that it cannot be innocent, but comes from an evil place.

            Of course, this was all pre-election stuff, so perhaps you want to argue that Tuesday changed the narrative.

          • James Miller says:

            Aapje,

            The Dem outgroup is the set of Republicans whom the left considers to be racist, sexist, homophobic, or Islamicphobic not Republicans who are perceived to have voted against their self-interests for these Republicans are considered merely fools.

          • Aapje says:

            Isn’t a more accurate model that each side has different outgroups, with different levels of dislike & ‘take seriousness?’

          • Civilis says:

            Isn’t a more accurate model that each side has different outgroups, with different levels of dislike & ‘take seriousness?’

            I think it’s instructive to look at who the ‘heretics’ are, the people that should be members of the group but aren’t. To the right, Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson are members of the ingroup; to the left, they’re not just members of the outgroup but also heretics. Same with Christina Hoff Sommers; same with Milo Yiannopoulos. You can see it in the way they are treated. We don’t like the outgroup; we despise the heretics.

            Yet, who are the heretics on the right? The only ones I can think of are the RINOs; people elected as members of the ingroup to represent the ingroup that vote for the policies of the outgroup. (I could argue that the never-Trump Republicans and the Trump Republicans both briefly considered the other as heretics, but politics from the outgroup has mostly pushed them back together.)

            It’s an artifact of the Group Identity politics of the left; the left is committed to appealing to black voters, to feminist voters, to non-cisheteronormative voters. The right appeals to conservatives and libertarians; explicitly primitive labels. The right does appeal to various religious group identities, but those come in knowing that there are other religious groups in the tent and that they have to share.

            The reason the right is worked up about Muslims is the perceived dual-loyalty issue. Back when Catholics were a reliable Democratic constituency, the right was worried about the loyalty of the Kennedy family; if it came to choosing between the Pope and America, if the Kennedys would choose the Pope. We’ve recognized that this isn’t a real issue with Catholics, but the cases we’ve seen in the US with admittedly a very small percentage of Muslims have brought those same sorts of fears back to the fore.

            The US has interfered in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Europe both in support of Muslim groups (Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) and against (Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Palestine). For example, with the Fort Hood shooting, we had an American born Muslim serving in the US Army that became radicalized and convinced his identification with his co-religionists outweighed any duty to his country; in other words, he became a heretic to the American ‘group’.

    • tscharf says:

      The thing I noticed that was unique this time was when the media / left publicly turned on the electorate en masse. This used to be off limits (for very good reasons), but bizarre attempts of social anthropology on Trump voters was widespread this cycle, and to say much of it was uncharitable is an understatement.

      What was also important in this cycle was the clear and convincing loss of authority that the media and academia suffered. They were almost unanimous in their contempt for Trump, but yet Trump won. Welcome to democracy in action. Trust in media collapsed, especially on the right, and is at all time lows. It is my view that expected media bias is now built in to the electorate’s decision making and that is good for nobody.

      The latest Buzzfeed Trump smear doesn’t help either, although it is noted that many outlets refrained from reporting this to their credit. However, out it is, and the media reported it far and wide. It was kind of an intentionally constructed Streisand Effect.

      • Randy M says:

        The latest Buzzfeed Trump smear doesn’t help either

        I missed this story, but from what I gather they misrepresented his position on Growth Mindset?

      • Moon says:

        The thing I noticed that was unique this time was when the media / left publicly turned on the electorate en masse.”

        America’s most trusted news source is Fox News. It supported Trump.

        Fox News is the most trusted national news channel. And it’s not that close.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/03/09/fox-news-is-the-most-trusted-national-news-channel-and-its-not-that-close/?utm_term=.cbfe810e42b4

        The Right Wing media is the mainstream media, even though it constantly pretends not to be. The Right Wing media elected Trump.

        “bizarre attempts of social anthropology on Trump voters was widespread this cycle, and to say much of it was uncharitable is an understatement.”

        Is it more uncharitable than the vitriol aimed at the Left by Fox, Breitbart, Drudge etc.? Take a look at those “news sources” and see if you can honestly say it is.

        Trust in non Right Wing media had already collapsed decades before Trump was elected, and that is why he got elected.

        he political scientist who saw Trump’s rise coming
        Norm Ornstein on why the Republican Party was ripe for a takeover, what the media missed, and whether Trump could win the presidency.
        http://www.vox.com/2016/5/6/11598838/donald-trump-predictions-norm-ornstein

        • Aapje says:

          @Moon

          The problem with those poll results is that they are just relative for one type of media. They can very easily be the result of very little trust in any news channel.

          Theoretically, it is possible that many respondents favor a non-new channel left-wing news source more than any news channel by a large amount and that they favor Fox as a counter-balance to this.

          For example, if a person thinks that the Communist Daily is 99% reliable, fox news 1% and the other networks 0%; is it meaningful to say that they favor a right wing news source?

          I consider these results rather meaningless without further data.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Plus, they’re subject to the same problem as all single-choice plurality voting. Only 29% of people polled favor Fox News; perhaps the other 71% all believe Fox to be horribly biased but disagree on which single other news channel is best?

          • Aapje says:

            That too, Fox is probably an outlier that benefits from being different.

        • tscharf says:

          I don’t read Breitbart or Drudge so don’t really know what they do. I mostly follow print media online.

          My observation is only that the right tends to criticize the candidate more and the left was different with a more focused trashing of the (right) electorate than previously (NYT/WP). Mostly a “How can someone be so stupid to vote for Trump”. This is a legitimate question given Trump’s flaws, but I think it was not handled very gracefully. The assumption was made that the electorate was attracted to the worst of Trump’s flaws, instead of voting for him in spite of them.

          This isn’t something that has hard lines, left and right trashing each other in all ways has endless examples.

        • Fox News is the most trusted national news channel. The Right Wing media is the mainstream media, even though it constantly pretends not to be.

          Most trusted by 29% of respondents. The rest are divided among five other channels, none of them right wing.

          That doesn’t make them “the mainstream media.”

        • rlms says:

          @DavidFriedman
          It doesn’t mean that the mainstream media is only then, but I think it is obvious that they are the largest part of the mainstream media.

    • Jaskologist says:

      My memory is the opposite of yours; I remember quite a lot of vitriol in the days of Chimpy McBushitler.

      I think mostly this is a matter of people noticing nastiness by their enemies more. I don’t think it’s possible to analyze objectively.

      (This item recently linked by xenosystems does seem vaguely connected, though.)

      • Randy M says:

        Maybe dndnrsn is differentiating between hatred of the opposing party leader and hatred of the opposing party members or voters? I can’t say whether there was a difference, but I can’t imagine him saying there was not widely expressed loathing of GWB.
        I don’t have data on levels of outright hatred of the president over time, but I don’t expect outside margin of error differences in different presidents since, oh, Nixon I guess. But I wasn’t here for much of that, so that’s not really evidence of anything, just a caution about drawing conclusions from short time frames.