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Open Thread 68.75

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

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783 Responses to Open Thread 68.75

  1. NIP says:

    Just wanted to let everyone know that those who were waiting for that transcript I was going to write up will have to wait a bit longer. I’ve been delirious with fever the past two days and have only gotten three-quarters of the way done, and then I’ll have to look up how to make a simple webpage as I’ve never done so before. I’ll also need time to verify some sources, write up supporting arguments, etc. and I just don’t have the strength to work on it now. But I promise I’ll catch you all this Sunday in the next open thread. Going to go pass out now, see you all in a few days.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I hope you’re feeling better soon.

    • Deiseach says:

      Feel better soon – remember, plenty of fluids, take an anti-pyretic if your stomach can handle it, keep warm but not over-heated and rest, rest, rest!

    • Said Achmiz says:

      NIP: Feel better soon! Also, if you’d like some tips/pointers on web page creation / hosting / etc., feel free to email me at [my name, but all lowercase and without spaces]@speakeasy.net.

  2. Salem says:

    The recent history threads have been fascinating (and an under-discussed topic in this area of the internet). With that in mind:

    In the recent discussion on how to rule Zimbabwe, I kept thinking – what would Noori Pasha al-Saeed do? He was in a comparable position, and he seemed to be doing well for a long time…

    More generally, what are people’s opinions on Noori Pasha? I was brought up to view him as Iraq’s greatest hero, a brilliant force for freedom and progress whose brilliant accomplishments were torn apart by a gang of thugs. But I am aware that others violently disagree. Is he someone to emulate? What were his mistakes? It’s not like he didn’t try to coup-proof the army.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I’m going to again recommend The Dictator’s Handbook by De Mesquita and Smith (Amazon, for those of you who haven’t broken the book-buying habit). The presentation of the cover etc is a bit sensationalistic, but the book itself is a fairly sober “popular poli sci” piece.

      Their basic conclusion is that democracy produces the best results, and the “realer” that democracy – the more people you need to keep happy to stay in a position of power – the better.

      It’s relevant, I think, in discussing “what should this autocrat have done”.

      • Salem says:

        I too think that is an interesting book, and also recommend De Mesquita’s podcasts with Russ Roberts.

        But how is it relevant? Noori al-Saeed wasn’t an autocrat. He held power through ordinary political means (and sometimes with royal support – but sometimes despite royal opposition). His enemies, including Ghazi, were the ones launching coups and encouraging the military into politics. He presided over a democracy, albeit an imperfect one.

        The call for “more democracy” in that context is a strange one. Noori Pasha didn’t have the power to change the system unilaterally, but even if he did I doubt it was a good idea. He wanted to change Iraq into a western country, not blindly follow the prejudice of an illiterate, uneducated population. Education for women, openness to the outside world, de-tribalisation and modernity – these are the precursors to real democracy. Otherwise you get the Farhud.

        But the recommendation becomes bizarre when you consider he was overthrown (twice!) by genuinely popular military autocrats who denounced his rule as too liberal.

        • dndnrsn says:

          More that it’s useful in discussing what happened in Iraq, coups, etc. The Zimbabwe thread was “what should an autocrat do”.

  3. Corey says:

    A spamecdote:

    I get torrents of spam, it’s how I know my mail server is up and running. For several months it’s been largely pharmaceutical. In the last couple months, in with all of the usual Levitra, etc. pitches, I see spamvertisements for antibiotics, Glucophage (metformin, for type 2 diabetes) and Lasix (a diuretic).

    This leads me to wonder who would ever buy that kind of stuff from sketchy online pharmacies. Last time I got metformin for a family member, it was a few years ago when Target Pharmacy was still a thing, and it was $4 for 30 days’ worth *even without insurance*. If the signs at Harris Teeter pharmacies are to be believed, it’s literally free there.

    My guess is that it’s people who, for whatever reason (money, mobility, time, orneriness) can’t/won’t go to the doctor to get a prescription. Or people who are just bad shoppers. Or maybe the spammers are just fronting an identity theft factory (give us your SSN and we’ll file with Medicare?)

    • Dog says:

      I sometimes buy medication from online pharmacies without a prescription (though I would never use one from a spam email), so AMA if you want. For me there are a combination of reasons:

      *I don’t want the time / expense of going to the doctor if I already know what I need.
      *If I am up on the recent research for whatever the problem is, I know exactly what I want, and I am not confident that is what I will get from a doctor
      *I don’t want to be labeled a difficult patient for suggesting specific treatments.
      *If I don’t want the condition I’m treating on my medical record.

      For example, I have mild essential tremor, but I don’t want an official diagnosis on my medical record because I may want to get a thalamotomy in the future and the state of medical insurance in the US is uncertain – there may be an issue with preexisting conditions if I change insurance, etc. I wanted to try propranolol as an occasional treatment, so I ordered it online. I’ve also ordered Retin-A for my wife’s acne, malaria prophylaxis so I could take a test course and see if it would be tolerable in the long term, antibiotics to keep on hand for my dog in case she is bit again and a vet is not available, etc.

      All that said, I am very careful about which pharmacies I will use, and if I were going to be on something like metformin for the long haul I would go to the doctor. I also wouldn’t buy something new or very expensive since the risk of being sold fake medication would be higher.

      I think what I’m doing is reasonable, though I can see where others would disagree. I can also see how a stupider version of myself might be vulnerable to that sort of spam.

  4. AnthonyD says:

    I find it annoying when people assume blogs on the internet “obviously don’t matter.” Sometimes important people read the blogposts. I seems for example that Steve Bannon is a big Moldbug fan (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/steve-bannon-books-reading-list-214745) . Another example is that lesswrong/SSC turned out to be popular among alot of important folks.

    • Deiseach says:

      I don’t know if I believe that “Bannon reads Moldbug” story because at this stage I think there are a lot of stories circulating that are the equivalent of throwing pieces of paper with names and situations on up into the air, then piecing together the ones that fell down on the desk:

      “Okay, for today’s story we’ve got: An anonymous source close to the White House revealed earlier that ‘Trump…eats babies… dipped in chocolate…every third full moon’ – what do you think?”

      “Nah, save it for the Lifestyle pages, we need something with real oomph for the editorial”.

      • suntzuanime says:

        I sort of wonder if maybe all these “anonymous sources” are actually real and they’re plants by the Trump administration trying to discredit the media. You’d think they’d stop falling for it after a few times, though.

      • Corey says:

        Kevin Drum was wondering about this effect also, with the implicit assumption that the leaks are real as opposed to invented by the reporters (I agree with this). The boringest explanation he floats is that the leaks are from former Obama staff who are disgusted with Trump.

        Hard to see why other staffers would want to make Trump look bad. Could be sucking up to Pence in case of resignation/impeachment, or it could be a ploy to increase Trump’s appeal to his fans by showcasing the media’s hatred of him. OTOH those things sound a little too much like six-dimensional strip poker to be likely.

        • Matt M says:

          I heard a theory somewhere that Trump has intentionally set up different “factions” within his cabinet/advisers for the purposes of promoting competition among ideas – but that the various factions are leaking things in order to try and harm the other factions and gain primary access to Trump.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Trump has being offensive as part of his trademark.

          My impression is that people who like offensiveness imagine it as really cool attacks without thinking that angry people may be able to strike back.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Trump is the mouthpiece for angry people striking back.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            My point is that I think a lot of the people who enjoy being offensive (and yes, there are plenty on both the left and the right) seem to imagine that they’re being nasty in a vacuum.

            They think can just hurt the other side’s feelings with no consequences. They are mistaken.

        • Deiseach says:

          I think that particular story wasn’t really proving whatever point it was supposed to prove: Trump is so dumb he called an ex-soldier instead of an economist for advice on the dollar?

          But when the publication asked economists, the answer they got was “it depends”. There wasn’t an unambigous yes or no answer. So if the economists are all going to tell you different answers, why not ask a guy you think has a good head on his shoulders for an opinion? Then ask your tame economists and compare the answers 🙂

          If the point of the article was “You can’t be sure all the crazy stories in the media are actually true, or that the people spreading them are who they say they are, or what their reasons are for leaking such crazy stories”, well, okay.

          • Controls Freak says:

            The “it depends” that economists give you is probably going to be, “It depends on certain facts.” Funniest thought would be if it means, “It depends on certain facts that a National Security Advisor should be able to provide for you.”

          • I don’t know anything about the economic knowledge of this particular national security advisor, but explaining the implications of a weak dollar isn’t beyond what one might expect of an intelligent layman familiar with economics.

          • Corey says:

            That was the point (and you’re right that the particular one isn’t a good example; a better one would be “Trump angry that nobody told him the EO putting Bannon on the NSC would put Bannon on the NSC”). These stories are getting leaked to reporters by White House staff. Now WH staff will leak stories for lots of reasons (semi-official trial balloons, office politics, etc.) but leaking so many stories to make the President look bad is *weird*, and difficult to figure out what the motivations behind such would be.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I don’t know anything about the economic knowledge of this particular national security advisor, but explaining the implications of a weak dollar isn’t beyond what one might expect of an intelligent layman familiar with economics.

            One of the biggest “deals” about Trump is that he already knew how to get the US economy going, because he is a super smart business person, and that he had all these other super smart business people he could call on as well.

            For instance, when talking about recent administration actions around Dodd-Frank, he explicitly referred to business friends with great businesses who “can’t get loans” (putatively because of Dodd-Frank).

            Calling an ex-general when you need basic knowledge about what the effects of a strong vs. weak dollar are would be something that would put the lie to those claims.

      • Chimpacabra says:

        I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a sensationalized version of something true but more mundane– for example, that Bannon has some awareness of what’s going on in the parts of the internet dedicated to non-mainstream right wing beliefs like the alt-right and [thing that’s word-filtered but that Moldbug is part of], and has maybe even skimmed through some of the most popular works by the best known writers from these movements, but isn’t any sort of true believer in their ideology. There have been enough news articles complaining about internet far right extremists and accusing his former employer Breitbart of being a mouthpiece for them that I have to imagine he has at least bothered to learn something about who these alt-right/[word-filtered thing] guys are.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Moldbug says this is false, and I think his particular analogy is pretty apt: “The idea that I’m “communicating” with Steve Bannon through an “intermediary” is preposterous. I have never met Steve Bannon or communicated with him, directly or indirectly. You might as well accuse the Obama administration of being run by a schizophrenic homeless person in Dupont Circle, because he tapes his mimeographed screeds to light poles where Valerie Jarrett can read them.”

      There’s no evidence Bannon ever read Moldbug except that the news organization he ran condemned that conference that tried to uninvite him. But lots of people were condemning that at the time, and Bannon doesn’t write Breitbart himself.

      I think the more interesting part of this story is that lots of people really want to believe / spread the story that Bannon reads Moldbug; it might be productive to try to figure out why. I don’t think he’s the same kind of perfect “Look, people are secretly everything we hate” as eg Richard Spencer. I wonder if it draws from the same obsession with painting Bannon and Manafort as evil masterminds; a desire to think of evil geniuses running the show or something.

      • cassander says:

        Frankly if Bannon were reading Moldbug, it would improve my opinion of him. But there are many kinds of death eaters, and I suspect that if Bannon is involved with any of them, it’s not the kind that I like.

      • I saw the follow up Vox article as well. The only evidence was, I guess, what Politico reported. Otherwise it’s as you said, the fact that Brietbart reported on him once.

        The whole thing also fits into a nice narrative structure of Moldbug being the dark prince of [redacted] political movement, with the alt right spinning off as its less sophisticated henchmen. Trump is also viewed as Lord of the Rings king, who is corrupted by Wormtongue/Bannon. Bannon must obviously read the dark arts (Moldbug).

        My bias is that I find this narrative structure reassuring. I’ve read these guys, it lets a complex political system take a nice structure in my brain, I form the illusion of true knowledge, and I can predict the future based on this knowledge I have.

        I would predict there is a 25% chance Bannon has meaningfully read Moldbug. He is obviously an alt/dissident right dilettante who reportedly reads a ton, so it’s not hard to imagine. I don’t think he’s a neo-cameralist or whatever. I guess we’ll see if he tries to get Trump to transfer sovereignty to Palantir.

  5. James Miller says:

    The Berkeley student newspaper published five Op-Eds supporting the Antifa rioters who forced Milo to cancel his speech:

    “To Milo: I’m sorry that you were too scared to stand your ground during a routine Berkeley protest. Hopefully, you’ll think twice now about recruiting at my alma mater, where hate speech may be allowed a platform by the administration but will never be tolerated by the student body. Here’s a big fuck you from the descendants of people who survived genocides by killing Nazis and people just like them.”

    “My campus did nothing to stand between my undocumented community and the hateful hands of radicalized white men — the AntiFas did.”

    “Antifa was there to protect UC Berkeley students when the administration was not. Within 15 minutes of the bloc’s arrival on Sproul Plaza, Yiannopoulos was being rushed from the building. These were not acts of violence.”

    “If you condemn the actions that shut down Yiannopoulos’ literal hate speech, you condone his presence, his actions and his ideas; you care more about broken windows than broken bodies.”

    “I urge you to consider whether damaging the windows of places like banks and the Amazon student store constitutes “violence” — and, if so, what weight this “violence” carries in the context of the symbolic, structural and actual violence that is proposed, condoned and actioned by the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos and his supporters.”

    • Winfried says:

      The devil on my left shoulder wants all the buildings that were damaged to stay vacant due to insurance issues. The angel on my right is taking a nap. My own conscience doesn’t really care because I rarely go to California.

    • suntzuanime says:

      That is their right, and I do not support sending a mob to beat them with blunt objects.

      • Robert Liguori says:

        A brief and probably-telling transcript of my thought process of reading this comment:

        “…Yes? And? What exactly is oh god dammit. This is what the moral high ground looks like nowadays, isn’t it?”

    • Deiseach says:

      These same tulips will be whinging loudly when Amazon closes its student store and buggers off. Wait until one of the bloc throws a brick that hit them either by accident or on purpose, see how enthusiastic they are then!

      • Cadie says:

        I wonder which one is going on: either they don’t realize that they’re alienating a lot of people who would ordinarily be on their side or at least sort-of agree with them, or they do realize it and they don’t care because anyone who isn’t gleefully joining in on property crime and violence isn’t “pure” enough for them.

        I’m more to the left than the right, and find this kind of bad behavior and support for bad behavior extremely off-putting. I see a bunch of young adults who refuse to act like adults or even adolescents with a crumb of common sense and decency, and going closer to the center starts seeming not so bad. There are so many non-aggressive things they could do to protest someone they don’t like and whose views they find disagreeable. They could have made their own event at the same time and put up posters telling people to go to theirs instead, for instance. Even plain old mockery would have been an improvement.

        • lvlln says:

          My guess is that it’s the latter, that they really don’t care about alienating people because those who would be alienated are not pure enough literal Nazis or Nazi sympathizers anyway.

          This is all just unsupported conjecture on my part, but I think it comes from a paranoid delusion that the other side really are genocidal maniacs who are hellbent on using their political power to commit mass murder in order to purge the country of people who aren’t straight/cis/white/whatever. If those delusions were true, then the only problem with those protests would be that they aren’t violent enough and don’t have enough support behind them to defeat the enemy. And I think this paranoid delusion comes from echo chambers where any denigration of the outgroup is encouraged regardless of veracity, which creates a vicious cycle of people constantly signalling their purity by coming up with wilder and wilder bad things about the outgroup.

          Again, this is just baseless conjecture, merely my guesses based on observation from within leftist circles. Heck, I’m a far leftist who thinks in a sane world Sanders would be considered center-right, and even I’ve started to think that centrism might not be so bad.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            If those delusions were true, then the only problem with those protests would be that they aren’t violent enough

            What if it is true? What if we are in 1933? That is exactly what happened then and it didn’t work. It probably made things worse.

          • Cypren says:

            My feeling is that these are spoiled children lashing out in an emotional tantrum because they’ve been taught that it’s okay as long as you pick the right politically-correct whipping boys.

            If they were reasoned, intelligent adults who sincerely believed we were living in 1933, they would not be rioting in the streets. They would be arming up, dividing into cells, staying very quiet and preparing for how to assassinate key targets and destroy critical infrastructure when Trump made his move to eliminate the Constitution and seize power. In short, they would be thinking and operating like the French Resistance already, because they know what’s coming.

            You see some people like this on the Three-Percenter right, and those are the ones who are genuinely scary to me, because they’re not bragging about how badass they’re going to be when the government turns to dictatorship, they’re preparing for it.

            Antifa don’t do any of that. They just scream and cry, break windows and beat up unarmed people who they outnumber 20 to 1, while the adults around them look on with bemusement and tell them that it’s all okay, they’re still special snowflakes.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            I do think a lot of the behavior is internally inconsistent because they know, deep down, that the government basically tolerates them on the grounds that they have a right to how they’re feeling and so forth. But to admit that would be to admit that there isn’t really a problem.

          • lvlln says:

            Douglas Knight:

            What if it is true? What if we are in 1933? That is exactly what happened then and it didn’t work. It probably made things worse.

            By not violent enough, I mean, that they aren’t using coordinated armies wielding machine guns, tanks, and nukes. I.e. the level of violence that really did take down the real Nazis.

            I do think Cypren & AnonEEmous have it right, that there’s significant cognitive dissonance going on, because the facts don’t match their delusions, and so you see them lash out in a violent-but-not-violent-enough way, where they try to appease both their terrible, genocidal delusions and the not-quite-so-terrible reality, and fail at doing either all that effectively.

            Indeed, if they really did go all-in on the belief that Trump was planning on literally suspending elections in order to literally send literally millions of people to literal death camps, they’d be laying low, collecting weapons, getting training, finding people in the police & military who are sympathetic to their cause, etc. I think Chris Kluwe (sp?), a former NFL player and famous SJW, was encouraging people to do just this on his Twitter account a couple weeks ago. So I’m guessing there’s some of that, too, though of course they’re by definition hard to see and thus hard to measure.

            All just my off-the-cuff punditry, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I were missing some important things.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            finding people in the police & military who are sympathetic to their cause

            The first step is to stop alienating them, just as it should have been in Germany. That is the exact opposite of proposing that these protests should have been more violent. The more force deployed to Berkeley, the worse.

          • Fossegrimen says:

            @Cypren
            Why do you find them scary? If they’re like any of the ones I know, then either the country will stay a democracy and they will just keep preparing, or it is 1933 and they’re your greatest asset.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @fossegrimen – This. I have zero problem with people arming up and prepping for actual resistance to actual tyranny. That seems to me way less threatening than non-lethal mob violence in the streets. Our norms against assassination, lethal terrorism and spree killing are very strong. The most obvious way to erode them is via stuff like the Berkeley riots gradually raising the violence level nation-wide.

            I strongly suspect that stuff like prepping cools people off, as it forces them to recognize their own agency and think hard about where they draw the line for justifiable violence, and exactly what they stand to lose in the process.

          • Cypren says:

            @Fossegrimen: I think the main thing that scares me about it is that insular communities have a strong tendency towards self-radicalization. It’s only a few short steps from “the government could turn on us, we need to prepare” to “why don’t other people see the obvious warning signs?” to “we’re the only ones not affected by the conspiracy!” and then to Timothy McVeigh.

            I’m not arguing in favor of any kind of policy response to this. I’m an extremely strong believer in the Second Amendment — even more so than the First, in many ways, because as long as the Second exists, the First can be asserted, but the reverse is definitely not true. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t still find the insularity and self-reinforcing rhetoric of the Three Percenter movement concerning.

            Simply put, I don’t trust them to be able to make a neutral, objective determination of when the government has actually crossed the line from “infringing on liberty” to “actively suppressing it” where the only viable recourse is mass violence.

            Also note that I’m not talking about “preppers” here — people who are stockpiling ammunition, food and supplies to protect their own family and friends in case of the collapse of civilization. My comments are about Three Percenters, people who are actively stockpiling supplies for an insurgent campaign. There’s a huge gulf in my mind between preparing tools for your own survival versus preparing offensive tools to topple the government.

          • Nornagest says:

            If they were reasoned, intelligent adults who sincerely believed we were living in 1933, they would not be rioting in the streets. They would be arming up, dividing into cells, staying very quiet and preparing for how to assassinate key targets and destroy critical infrastructure when Trump made his move to eliminate the Constitution and seize power.

            It might be an overly obvious point of comparison, but that’s not what happened in Weimar Germany. Less so in 1933 than earlier, but there was a lot of street violence going on, and pretty much every major political faction, even the centrists, had its own force of paramilitary thugs. In terms of intensity we’re talking a notch down from the Troubles in Northern Ireland, a notch up from a Days of Rage type scenario, but in either case as a five- or six-way fight rather than a two-way one.

            It was tank formations and strategic bombers that brought down the Nazis in the end, but it’s not implausible that a club, revolver bullet, or thrown brick from some anonymous Red Front or Iron Guard brawler could have taken out a key Nazi two decades earlier and kept them from rising to power. Of course, then we might have gotten someone even worse.

          • Cypren says:

            It might be an overly obvious point of comparison, but that’s not what happened in Weimar Germany.

            Sure, but people in 1933 didn’t have the historical context. They didn’t expect an authoritarian dictator to take power and drag the whole world into the bloodiest war in history.

            My point is that people going hysterical over “Trump is Hitler” are explicitly claiming that they know what’s coming. But they aren’t behaving like it.

          • Nornagest says:

            How many of the “Trump is Hitler” people do you think have any idea how Hitler came to power, or hung onto that power once he was there?

          • Cypren says:

            Zero, or they wouldn’t be making the claim.

          • Nornagest says:

            Right, so I don’t think the historical context they have is very meaningful. They’re not going to be thinking about what didn’t work in the Twenties and Thirties and trying something else; they’re going to be trying to resist using the tools their worldview tells them are moral and effective, which right now seems mainly to be “mass protest” but threatens to tick over into “street violence”.

        • onyomi says:

          I think it’s a. I think these students live in enough of a bubble that they don’t realize how many people are actually turned off by violent protest and their defense of it. In their world, the only legitimate choices are “Stalin?” or “No, FIFTY STALINS! ONE HUNDRED STALINS!!”

          Don’t think they could be in such a bubble? They are 18-21 year olds. Living at an elite university. In California.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      College kids gonna college.

    • onyomi says:

      Is it just me/just a coincidence, or does “Antifa” sound to American (non-Arabic speaking, not an expert on Islam) ears like an Arabic word? Like “Antifa” sound like the sort of people who might issue a fatwa. But sounding that way to “Nazis” is probably in the realm of “feature,” rather than “bug.”

      Related, have ambivalent feelings about Israel myself and am not the first to point this out, but taken out of context, what does this headline sound like: “rioters smash store windows and set fires to intimidate gay, Jewish Zionist immigrant”?

      • Nornagest says:

        Probably a coincidence. They’ve called themselves that since well before 9/11.

      • Cypren says:

        Some right-wing commentators sarcastically refer to them as the “Antifada“, so you’re not the first one to point out the parallel.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Not going to lie, I hadn’t even heard that particular snark, but until I came across an explicit explanation just a few days ago that “antifa” meant ANTI-FAscism?

          I just assumed that they were deliberately aping the term “intifada” and all that it’s associated with as a Solidarity With Armed Struggle thing, and were just mis-spelling/abbreviating it for some reason (like “BT Dubs” and similar cringeworthy slang). I thought it was more of the Revolutionary Chic stuff, updated for the big modern conflicts…

      • ansiton says:

        You are correct to identify its non-english roots. “Antifa” comes from the German/Scandinavian abbreviation. It’s an import from 1980s european leftist activism.

    • Protagoras says:

      Student newspapers are mostly terrible. I remember not thinking much of the Minnesota Daily when I was an undergraduate, but since then, looking at the various places I’ve been a grad student or taught, I think I’ve never since seen any that were anywhere near as good as the (still quite weak) University of Minnesota student paper. It’s not fair to take the tiny number of students still interested in the dying profession of journalism as representative of their school.

      • onyomi says:

        Well, but today’s students interested in the dying profession of journalism may be tomorrow’s journalists, so their way of thinking matters, even if not representative. Also, people saying “we need 50 Stalins! NO, 100 STALINS!!” were not representative of the average citizen’s thinking in Stalinist Russia. But if the only opinions one can safely express in a public forum are “yay stalin!” and “YAY STALIN!!!” (with the latter being one’s chance to signal one’s radical, innovative thinking) then that still tells you something about the society at large, if only that it’s really scared.

  6. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    If you believe in HBD (Human BioDiversity), what policy changes would you like to see? How do you think the world would be different as a result?

    Do you think people over-reacting to real differences is ever a problem?

    • Is “HBD” short for “human biodiversity”? (That’s what I found on the Urban Dictionary, and I’m guessing that’s what you had in mind, but I want to make sure.)

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I’ve edited the comment. Thanks for letting me know there might be a problem.

        • Okay, thanks, I can reply now. I think at this point it’s pretty much indisputable that there are significant between-group genetic differences, but I also think that, for the moment, we know relatively little about the actual import of these differences. So this suggests to me that, for the most part, it’s premature to draw policy conclusions from the fact that significant between-group genetic differences exist. But it’s likely that, with the progress of molecular genetics and the advent of genome-wide association studies, we’ll soon get a much clearer picture of what traits these genetic differences influence and how they do so, which could then have policy implications. However, even after we know more, it’s unclear to me that there will be obvious policy implications, because I suspect that the policy changes will hinge on philosophical issues at least as much as empirical ones, as they often do.

          • cassander says:

            > So this suggests to me that, for the most part, it’s premature to draw policy conclusions from the fact that significant between-group genetic differences exist

            How about we just stop drawing policy conclusions on the basis of the “fact” that they don’t exist?

          • Iain says:

            This is the standard reply, yes. Why don’t you get specific? Which policy conclusions are being drawn solely based on the non-existence of genetic differences?

          • cassander says:

            @Iain says:

            >This is the standard reply, yes. Why don’t you get specific? Which policy conclusions are being drawn solely based on the non-existence of genetic differences?

            Virtually every claim modern claim of of discrimination and the policy results/lawsuits/etc. that follow from them.

          • Sure, I’m all for that, but it’s not clear to me how this should affect the policy conclusions we draw, until we know more about the import of those differences. Perhaps a good idea, as long as we are in the dark about that, would be to experiment with different policies in different areas that rest on different assumptions about the import of those differences. You can think of it as a kind of risk diversification.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            DoE disparate impact complaints in regards to children being punished in schools

            https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/08/teachers-say-no-disparate-impact-discipline/402144/

            In an effort to combat disciplinary bias, the federal government has warned every school district in the country that they face legal action if their discipline policies have a “disparate impact”—“a disproportionate and unjustified effect”—on students of a particular race.

            it might not be as widespread as other commenters make it out to be, but here it is fam

          • Wrong Species says:

            I think at this point it’s pretty much indisputable that there are significant between-group genetic differences,

            I think you’re severely overstating how obvious it is. Being accused of believing that is enough to end careers. I’m actually surprised you’re saying that using your real name.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Something can be both obvious and illegal. Indeed, the more obvious it is, the more illegal it needs to be.

          • Wrong Species says:

            I meant obvious from a societal point of view.

          • Wrong Species, I never said that it was a socially acceptable view, I just said that it was indisputable given the evidence, which isn’t the same thing.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @AnonEEmous

            To follow up on that Atlantic article, here’s a more recent one, about the St. Paul, Minnesota public school system, from Katherine Kersten at City Journal: “ No Thug Left Behind“:

            Valeria Silva, who became superintendent of the St. Paul Public Schools in December 2009, was an early and impassioned proponent of racial-equity ideology. In 2011, she made the equity agenda a centerpiece of her Strong Schools, Strong Communities initiative. The district’s website lauded the program as “the most revolutionary change in achievement, alignment, and sustainability within SPPS in the last 40 years.”

            After implementing “white privilege” training, Silva moved to eliminate what she called the “punishment mentality” undergirding the district’s discipline model. In an effort to cut black discipline referrals, she lowered behavior expectations and dropped meaningful penalties for student misconduct. In 2012, the district removed “continual willful disobedience” as a suspendable offense. In addition, to close the “school-to-prison pipeline,” Silva adopted a new protocol on interactions between schools and the police. The protocol ranked student offenses on five levels and required schools to report only the worst—including arson, aggravated assault, and firearm possession—to police. School officials were strongly encouraged to handle other serious offenses—such as assault, sexual violence, and drug possession—on their own. For a time, the district administration actually tied principals’ bonuses to their track record on reducing black discipline referrals.

            December 4, 2015, marked a turning point. That day, at Central High School, a 16-year-old student body-slammed and choked a teacher, John Ekblad, who was attempting to defuse a cafeteria fight. Ekblad was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. In the same fracas, an assistant principal was punched repeatedly in the chest and left with a grapefruit-size bruise on his neck. At a press conference the next day, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi branded rising student-on-staff violence “a public health crisis.” Assaults on St. Paul school staff reported to his office tripled in 2015, compared with 2014, and were up 36 percent over the previous four-year average. Attacks on teachers continued unabated in the months that followed. In March, for example, a Como Park High teacher was assaulted during a classroom invasion over a drug deal, suffered a concussion, and required staples to close a head wound.

            In 2014, a groundbreaking study in the Journal of Criminal Justice by J. P. Wright and others discredited both these claims. The study utilized the largest sample of school-aged children in the nation. Unlike almost all previous studies, it controlled for individual differences in student behavior over time. Using this rigorous methodology, the authors concluded that teacher bias plays no role in the racial-equity suspension gap, which, they determined, is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.” Racial differentials in suspension rates, they found, appeared to be “a function of differences in problem behaviors that emerge early in life, that remain relatively stable over time, and that materialize in the classroom.”

            I strongly encourage reading the whole article.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Halfway through the article.

            I’ve heard a lot about how absurdly unqualified Trump’s nominee for Department of Education was. I find it pretty hard to imagine how she could possibly be even a tenth as blindly destructive as the policymakers this article describes. Closing the schools completely and turning the students out on the streets would be less destructive than this; at least then their violence wouldn’t be actively sheltered from law enforcement.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “I find it pretty hard to imagine how she could possibly be even a tenth as blindly destructive as the policymakers this article describes. Closing the schools completely and turning the students out on the streets would be less destructive than this”

            When I go on about fanatics sacrificing the supports of civilization on the altar of equality as sacred value, this is an example of the kind of thing I’m talking about.

            For example, there’s this bit from the article:

            Silva’s administration put the blame for the escalating mayhem squarely on adults. Jackie Turner, the district’s chief engagement officer, said that in response to the violence, the district would consider more training for staff and school resource officers on “how to appropriately de-escalate situations.” Fights might not have escalated, she said, “if some of the adults would have reacted differently.” Asked if students should be expelled for fighting, Turner replied: “You’re not going to hear that from me, you’re not going to hear that from the superintendent, you’re not going to hear that from any of the administrators.”

            See, the catastrophic outcomes were clearly because the teachers weren’t tolerant enough. True Communism hasn’t failed because it’s never been tried; the policy cannot fail, it can only be failed. If it doesn’t work, that just means we haven’t tried hard enough. And so, they’ll push even harder and further the next time, and even harder the next time, and even harder the next time…

          • AnonEEmous says:

            I saw my dad reading that and felt sad that I hadn’t posted it myself. Thanks fam.

            And yeah. I read a good piece about sacred values once from a site I really liked, arguing that certain values are basically given an infinite or near-infinite worth in believers’ minds. Obviously, that allows for a lot of really bad decisions, unusually bad decisions even. In this case I also think people might be blinded to reality by thinking, say, that black kids aren’t really bad to their teachers. (Personally, I think they’re bad to their teachers and good to their parents, while white kids seem to reverse this behavioral pattern.)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – This is pretty clearly impossible to defend. I still disagree with your long-term prognosis. This madness is too virulent to survive indefinitely, and it appears to me that the wave is breaking already.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “This is pretty clearly impossible to defend.”

            And yet, defend it they do.

            “This madness is too virulent to survive indefinitely.”

            Yes, but “the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent”, “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation”, et cetera, et cetera. A virulent plague always burns itself out eventually, yes, but the question is how much damage it does before doing so.

            “it appears to me that the wave is breaking already.”

            Evidence?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C. – “And yet, defend it they do.”

            we have blue-tribers here; I don’t see any of them rushing out to defend these policies. When was this article published? do you think these policies will remain in place now that the results have had a few years to play out and are attracting national attention?

            “Evidence?”

            Trump won the election, and is now running roughshod over Blue Tribe. This article is going to be the go-to counterargument to every blue-tribe opinion on education for the next couple years. I think the Berkeley Riots have a similar effect; effective in a tactical sense, disastrous from a strategic sense. These things are exactly how you lose all cultural credibility.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “When was this article published?”

            I think a couple days ago (look at the dates on the comments, if nothing else).

            “do you think these policies will remain in place now that the results have had a few years to play out and are attracting national attention?”

            Yes. Or more specifically, these exact policies will be removed, only to be replaced by something “different”, but ultimately equivalent, if more extreme. They will “double down”, and double down again.

            “Trump won the election, and is now running roughshod over Blue Tribe.”

            Really, “running roughshod”? Sure, he’s attempted to push back against the Blue Tribe, but haven’t plenty of the more non-Blue, Trump-favoring commenters here pointed out how most of these are “poorly-implemented” disasters? I’m beginning to think that commenter “Ken’ichi” over at Dreher might have been on track with his theory as to why our “ruling elites” “allowed” Trump to take office (he previously predicted that “they” would resort to faithless electors, court decisions, or possibly even assassination to prevent President Trump): to be so disastrous in trying to control borders, fight globalism, and so on, as to permanently discredit any right-leaning or anti-globalist populism for enough of the population to ensure the “bipartisan establishment” maintains permanent electoral dominance.

            “These things are exactly how you lose all cultural credibility.”

            What does “cultural credibility” matter? Iron law of oligarchy, and manufactured consent. There is always a ruling elite, and it’s what they say that goes.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – As always with these things, the only reply is “wait and see”. I think we’ll have a pretty good picture within the next two years, and a very good one by the next election.

            From where I’m sitting, we’ve gone from Blue-Tribe values being essentially unchallenged as of 2014-2015, to open culture-wide civil war within Blue Tribe and a radically-revived red-tribe now. The Ants, the atheism implosion, Bernie vs Hillary are all examples of the former. Trump, Brexit, Le Pen, etc are examples of the latter. These things would have been unthinkable three years ago.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “the atheism implosion”

            The decline of religiosity and the rise of the “nones” has continued the past eight years according to Pew Research. “Nones” were sixteen percent in 2007, now twenty-three percent.

            “Brexit”

            Britain has not yet left the EU; Article 50 hasn’t yet been invoked, and “The Week” is at least considering the possibility that Brexit might never actually happen.

            “Le Pen”

            Marine Le Pen has yet to be elected. See also “There will be no President Le Pen“.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – “The decline of religiosity and the rise of the “nones” has continued the past eight years according to Pew Research. “Nones” were sixteen percent in 2007, now twenty-three percent.”

            As a Christian who wants to take my faith seriously, I do not believe that nominal Christians becoming explicit atheists is a long-term problem, and in fact this pattern is exactly what I’d expect from Christianity growing too enmeshed with politics generally. Sooner or later, the pendulum will swing the other way.

            What I was referring specifically to, though, was the collapse of New Atheism as a mainstream cultural force. Its “I Fucking Love Science!” progeny was even shorter-lived, and I think Academia and science as a cultural constituency are poised for a pretty serious setback as their overhang of falsified positions collapse into the open.

            Brexit passed the house of commons; May’s supposed deadline for triggering it is next month. On this and Le Penn, I suppose we’ll see.

            [EDIT] – …I used to be firmly apocalyptic in my thinking. The only way to escape that trap is to make predictions and watch what happens. What are the obviously undeniable signs that we’re fucked forever, and when do you expect them to arrive? Without that sort of ironclad prediction, any evidence can be explained away. For me, it was Bush seizing power and suspending the constitution. When he left power peacefully, that was solid evidence that my model was wrong.

          • Randy M says:

            “When was this article published?”

            I think a couple days ago (look at the dates on the comments, if nothing else).

            There have been other reports of such policies in the past. I couldn’t have provided the details from memory of where and who, but I knew such policies were being tried.
            This came up from a quick google from 2014. (Yes it’s opinion, I’m just using it as evidence that this has been known about for a few years at the least.)

            Off-topic, sort-of:

            – …I used to be firmly apocalyptic in my thinking. The only way to escape that trap is to make predictions and watch what happens.

            I must admit to being worried about more widespread economic problems when the Greek default crisis was being discussed 6-8 years ago.

          • Deiseach says:

            Personally, I think they’re bad to their teachers and good to their parents

            Because if they behaved like that to their parents, they’d get a walloping but they know the teachers can’t do a thing to them apart from “I feel your pain, Jayson”. Wasn’t there some quote on a comment thread here where a guy wrote an article bemoaning how when he was a kid, his black friend’s grandmother would beat the badness out of his pal for using bad language? That’s because Granny knows if she doesn’t want Junior to grow up to be a thug, he needs discipline now, not “And how does that make you feel?”

            Kids with genuine behavioural/learning problems and/or from unstable backgrounds need support. Kids who are just being little jerks because they can get away with it need a dose of the wooden spoon from their parents when the teacher writes home about it.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “Sooner or later, the pendulum will swing the other way.”

            How can you be so sure of that?

            “ironclad prediction”

            How long did it take the Roman Empire to fall? Some place the start of the decline at around 180 AD; the conventional date is 476, when Odoacer deposed Emperor Romulus. However, plenty of people reject this, by pointing out the eastern half of the Empire lasted another thousand years until, what, the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, right? What sort of testible prediction does one make for centuries of decline other than “things will slowly get worse over multiple generations”?

    • Odovacer says:

      I wouldn’t say that I’m a hardcore believer in HBD; I do think there are very real differences between ethnic populations and sexes, but I think many HBD-believers speculate, go too far in magnifying these differences, and essentialize and ignore that populations follow distributions, e.g. just because Danes are the tallest people in the world on average, doesn’t mean that there are no short Danes or tall humans in other populations.

      In terms of policy changes, I don’t know if I’m enough of an expert on that comment. Speculating, I think that this could affect disparate impact/treatment legislation. As well as potentially decrease funding/attention for forced diversity, e.g. women in STEM.*

      *I think that on average women as just as capable as men in doing science. I think that women in the West, on average, for whatever reasons aren’t as interested in certain science fields as much as men, particularly physics, math and engineering. That’s fine that they aren’t. The countries in the west are wealthy enough that for the most part one can pick his or her own career, plus most scientists aren’t changing the world or making exciting discoveries, much of it is humdrum and repetition.

      • Kevin C. says:

        @Odovacer

        “just because Danes are the tallest people in the world on average, doesn’t mean that there are no short Danes or tall humans in other populations.”

        True, but it does mean that if the “International Giants Club” that requires members be over 7′ tall is disproportionally Danish, that we shouldn’t automatically assume it’s due to invidious discrimination against non-Danes until proven otherwise.

        Similarly that men are taller on average than women doesn’t mean there are no tall women; I have an aunt who’s about 4″ taller than me. But it does mean that if our “International Giants Club” is disproportionally male, we should not default automatically to “sexism” as the explanation.

      • reasoned argumentation says:

        I think that on average women as just as capable as men in doing science.

        Interesting. After considering what evidence did you come up with this belief?

        • Anonymous says:

          After considering what evidence did you come up with this belief?

          It seems a cultural assumption, mostly. Egalitarians tend to assume equality as default. OTOH, average intelligence is pretty close for men and women. I’ve seen data suggesting a few points either way. OTTH, interest itself is a pretty big component of capacity, especially in investigative fields.

          • Science is mostly not done by average men. Or average women.

            My understanding of the data is that while average IQ is about the same, the standard deviation is greater for men, so more men well above average and more well below. Also, IQ reflects a variety of different abilities, and it’s at least claimed that men tend to be relatively better at mathematical, women at verbal skills. That could be either cultural or genetic (or both), but it does show that equal average isn’t enough to give you equal ability for science, or any other field (other than taking IQ tests).

          • Cypren says:

            The ratio of students who get a 700 or higher on the math portion of the SAT is about 1.6:1 male-female, which provides a strong statistical confirmation that elite math skills have an unbalanced gender ratio and that whatever the cause is, it happens before college. But it doesn’t really help us to determine the cause: innate ability, social conditioning and interest, or gender imbalance in elective math classes are all quite plausible explanations.

            If you look at the graph of score distribution, it provides pretty strong argument for the concept that men have a flatter curve than women overall, with more individuals distributed away from the median.

          • Anonymous says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Yes, I agree. It all hinges on what one actually means by the statement.

            The other day I had a bunch of coders jump down my throat for merely suggesting the possibility (not even explicitly stating, merely being devil’s advocate for the opposing view) that women aren’t as capable in that field as men. Judging by their accusations of MRA-dom and misogyny, I think what they parsed that as was “women should get back to the kitchen, they’re not as smart or good at coding as men, it just comes with the ovaries” whereas your position is an alternative, and in my opinion a more accurate representation of the issue.

            If you pick a random Joe Shmoe and random Jane Shmoe, and appraise them for scientific capacity, they’ll probably both suck, and doing a Monte Carlo over many of them will probably reveal that they are close to the same level of ineptitude.

            If you pick from actual scientists, you will of course find that the field is dominated by men, for whatever reason. A marginal difference in g curves is one explanation. Institutionalized misogyny is another.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Cypren

            I think gender imbalance in elective math classes can be ruled out for two reasons.

            1) It’s circular, because the next question is “Why the gender imbalance in elective math classes”, which has the same sort of possible answers minus that one

            2) You find greater difference between male and female scores in younger students identified as “mathematically advanced”

            http://www.pnas.org/content/106/22/8801.full

    • massivefocusedinaction says:

      First and most important is a Canadian style immigration policy (a points system based on factors likely to be correlated with traits desired by society).

      A replacement of testing rather than years of education for jobs.

      In discrimination, a requirement to show behavior beyond neutral rules that create a disparate impact.

      I don’t think society would be substantially different, my goal would be a bit more efficiency (less human capital applied to the wrong areas and hopefully less monetary capital invested in housing).

      I would say that violence in done as a result of real differences would be a problem.

      • JulieK says:

        First and most important is a Canadian style immigration policy (a points system based on factors likely to be correlated with traits desired by society).

        Why is that connected to HBD? (Canada already has such a system, and I don’t think the Canadians are more convinced of HBD than Americans are.)

        • Lyle_Cantor says:

          Sure. But the institutions have some sense of this, even if few individuals in them do. The points system works because it is basically a bunch of IQ correlates. Do to our modern nonsense, no one can admit this out loud. It’s much less efficient and practical than granting citizenship to whoever can get a couple standard deviations above the mean on a culture-fair IQ test but better than what America and Europe have. It’s an example of how esoteric policy can prevent decay even when all the right-thinking people have gone mad.

    • Anon. says:

      The biggest one for the US is “disparate impact” which implicitly assumes no group differences and does all sorts of harm.

      Some say immigration, but I’m not so sure. When it comes to mass immigration like Europe has been seeing lately, then probably yes. But for high-skilled immigration, it doesn’t really matter that much since you’re just skimming the +2sd people.

    • John Schilling says:

      The policy change I would like to see, but never will, starts with an honest attempt to catalog and measure the relevant differences. This is, at this point, even more unrealistic than hoping for an honest and apolitical assessment of anthropogenic climate change.

      Barring that, I don’t think there are policy changes that can be justified with the limited knowledge currently available. I’d like to see a change in the attitude that statistical differences in outcomes are strong evidence of discrimination because “everybody is equal”, but that attitude is rarely encoded in actual policy – you can’t e.g. win a discrimination suit just by showing that a workplace is 40% or 60% female, 5% or 15% black. It does frequently color the implementation of policy, but that’s a harder problem to fix.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Are you familiar with Ricci v. DeStefano? The New Haven Fire Department refused to promote anyone to avoid facing a lawsuit over not promoting enough black people.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Wow. The department was damned either way (I’m morally certain they would indeed have faced a lawsuit if they’d promoted according to the test results, though perhaps they would have won that one. In the Supreme Court. 5-4) And the Hispanic firefighter got beaten as a result, or so he says.

        • John Schilling says:

          s/enough/any

          Claiming discrimination because your workplace is 0% black, or because the factory floor is 20+% black and the foremen are 0% black, is not quite the same thing as arguing over 5% vs 10% vs 15%. There are, of course, cases where a 0% black management chain over a 20% black labor force is a legitimate outcome, which makes this a hard problem.

      • Corey says:

        If the differences haven’t been cataloged and measured, how do *you* know about them?

        • Anonymous says:

          If the differences haven’t been cataloged and measured, how do *you* know about them?

          They have. He’s probably just discounting them as unreliable for some reason. (I don’t think they are, but people’s opinions differ.)

    • Space Viking says:

      Let’s see:

      -switch development aid from building things low IQ people can’t maintain – schools, hospitals, etc. – to raising IQ, so iodine supplementation, malaria prevention, deworming, etc.

      -generally, high IQ people have lower fertility than low IQ people, raising the fertility of high IQ people must be addressed by government policy, I’m not sure how, so experimentation is in order

      -fertility must also be lowered in low IQ people, not only in developed countries but around the world to stem the migration crises, free contraception must be provided and promoted worldwide, and welfare incentives for having children must be reduced in developed countries

      -also, reform welfare to stop trying to bring people out of poverty, it won’t work and wastes billions of dollars, so do vocational training instead combined with enough welfare to at least keep people out of absolute poverty

      -immigration, legal and illegal, must be carefully restricted

      -no more government support for affirmative action, no more disparate impact laws

      -stop wasting billions of dollars on educating the uneducable, do vocational training instead

      -automation becomes an even more serious threat to employment; it’s time to start thinking about this now

      -outsourcing must be restricted, because no, Appalachian coal miners can’t become computer programmers, only a small percentage of them can

      -finally, flood funding into genetic engineering research, both germline and somatic, as well as nootropics, to mitigate and eventually solve most of the problems caused by HBD, not just IQ, but conscientiousness, criminality, etc., and if we don’t, China will, and will rule the world as a result

      And yes, people over-reacting to real differences is definitely a real problem. Look at the Holocaust. But that historical overreaction doesn’t make HBD go away. The sooner we address the problems of HBD, the less harsh the reaction to those problems will be, because addressing it soon will give those problems less time to build up.

      Also, people disadvantaged by HBD, e.g. most low IQ people, while being subject to rational discrimination, so no more affirmative action, must still be protected from irrational discrimination. So hate crimes are still hate crimes, and must be treated as such.

      • The Nybbler says:

        -generally, high IQ people have lower fertility than low IQ people, raising the fertility of high IQ people must be addressed by government policy, I’m not sure how, so experimentation is in order

        Isn’t the traditional way of combatting the fixation of a deleterious trait in your population to outbreed? Encourage matches between members of fecund but relatively low-IQ populations and members of low-fecundity high-IQ populations. If a study of the high-fecundity population reveals no relationship between IQ and fecundity within that population, you can speed things up by picking (relatively) high-IQ individuals within that population.

        Not sure how to do this. The 1950s “Mad Men” workplace provided a method; a sex-segregated workplace would allow lower-IQ support workers (which we, the moustache-twisting eugenicists pulling the strings, could select from fecund populations) close contact with higher-IQ knowledge workers. But the sex segregation, and most of the support workers, are gone, so that’s out.

        • Kevin C. says:

          @The Nybbler

          “Isn’t the traditional way of combatting the fixation of a deleterious trait in your population to outbreed? Encourage matches between members of fecund but relatively low-IQ populations and members of low-fecundity high-IQ populations.”

          Except this ignores the possibility of pleiotropy. What if the same genes responsible for the deleterious trait, here low fertility, are also responsible for the trait we want to preserve, here high IQ? What if the negative correlation between fertility and IQ in the modern selection environment is the product of a causal mechanism, so that it is impossible to significantly raise fertility without a concomitant reduction in IQ, and vice versa? What if there is, in fact, a Darwinian advantage to lower intelligence in our present environment? Then, raising high-IQ fertility would require significantly alter the (cultural) environment to change the requisite selection pressures.

          In fact, this relates to part of my theorizing about the Fermi Paradox. Whether Dawkins’s “meme” model or otherwise, pretty much every model I’ve seen for the propagation of ideas and culture is at least somewhat epidemiological. And these propagating mental entities can be seen as occupying a spectrum between what one writer I read dubbed “mitochondrial memes” and “viral memes”; for example, using religions, once like the Druze and Zoroastrians who take no converts and propagate only from parent to child fit the former end, and those like the Shakers the latter end. Add the reasonable (to my view) conclusion that higher intelligence does not provide protection from “viral memes”, and may in fact increase vulnerability. Then consider the effects of global telecommunications and the cultural dominance of whatever subgroup of a species gets “first mover” advantage on the Industrial Revolution for the propagation of those “viral memes”. Together, one might conclude that in an “interconnected” world, “protective stupidity” becomes adaptive. Thus, any civilizations capable of sending interstellar signals are already “too smart for their own good”, and actively selecting against the intelligence necessary to maintain them, and so such societies are inherently unstable and self-limiting. (Especially given the “once per planetary history” nature of industrial revolutions; see the “fruit & ladder” metaphor.)

          In short, idiocracy is probably the inevitable outcome of modernity, and civilization is doomed.

        • The Nybbler says:

          @Kevin C.

          Low-fecundity, not low-fertility. High-IQ people can breed, but they mostly aren’t. As I understand HBD, most of its adherents believe behavioral traits are largely inherited, so the fecundity should be too. We know IQ isn’t the result of a single or small number of genes, so it seems extremely unlikely that all or most of them also affect fecundity.

          Stepping back from the purely genetic, we reach my actual position, which is that the high-IQ _itself_ causes the low fecundity. For high-IQ individuals, children are a greater burden; furthermore high-IQ individuals are more driven by their intellect (which is telling them that kids are a burden) than low-IQ individuals. As you suggest, to solve this we need not a moustache-twisting eugenicist but a moustache-twisting propagandist and cultural engineer. We need to make kids less of a burden for the intelligent, and we need to make sure the high-IQ know that has happened. Alas, my cultural engineering skills are not up to the task.

          • Kevin C. says:

            “Alas, my cultural engineering skills are not up to the task.”

            Because nobody’s are up to the task. The problem is insoluble, and idiocracy is inevitable. We’re doomed.

          • “Alas, my cultural engineering skills are not up to the task.”

            At a considerable tangent, one can view the Amish as an example of successful cultural engineering. They impose rules on themselves designed to maintain the sort of culture they have and want, and so far it has worked quite well.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – Braintape. Boot multiple instances. If hell is other people…

          • Lyle_Cantor says:

            >Alas, my cultural engineering skills are not up to the task.

            If you could make laws, I think it would be pretty straightforward. High IQ kids are public goods and so underproduced. Give parents X percent of the future tax income of their children. This incentive scales with the capacity of the parents. It would also encourage the use of High-IQ sperm banks, embryo selection, and other technologies that increase IQ and future income.

            In the short term, I think this would work well. In the long term, this would likely get pretty Molochy.

          • Cypren says:

            Give parents X percent of the future tax income of their children.

            We used to have this system. It was called “not having a social safety net for retirement” and having a widespread social expectation that children care for their aging parents.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “Braintape”

            Doesn’t look to exist any time soon.

            @Lyle_Cantor

            I can’t find the primary sources at the moment, but everything I’ve read indicates that subsidies, tax breaks, or otherwise “paying people to have kids”, have no or only minor upward effects on TFR. In my readings on the topic, it looks like it’s far easier for government policy to lower a group’s fertility than to raise it. IIRC, didn’t Francis Galton’s initial ideas around eugenics involve primarily trying to raise fertility of the upper classes at least as much, if not more, than lowering those of the “unfit”? And yet eugenics practice ended up on the latter. It seems to me this is simply because the latter is far more easily done than the former. From what I’ve read, pretty much the only things, policy-wise, that raise fertility are either draconian measures like Romanian Decree 770, or reducing female (Western-style) education (like the Nigerian study looking at their brief public school system and finding that the average number of children per woman went down by 0.26 for each year of elementary school attended).

          • Kevin C. says:

            @DavidFriedman

            “the Amish as an example of successful cultural engineering… so far it has worked quite well.”

            The key words being “so far”. How long will that still work when (not if, but when) the court overturns Wisconsin v. Yoder? Particularly if we get more things like the FDA crackdown, or, as per consolidatedcatnip’s reply in the cost disease post, reduction in their farming effectiveness via increased enforcement of “child labor laws” against Amish children working on the family farm. Not to mention, consider if the American Amish were their own country, and had to provide for their own national defense, among other things, how well would they do? How long would they last? The success of the Amish has been spectacularly dependent upon the tolerance, and provision of country-level services like national defense, by the greater American society, and I see signs that that is eroding, so I don’t expect it to last much longer.

            Not to mention, also, that the Amish have accomplished this via their specific religion, and as plenty of people have pointed out, one cannot simply conjure up a new religion to order, no matter how much one might be needed, or useful it might be to “cultural engineering”.

          • Anonymous says:

            From what I’ve read, pretty much the only things, policy-wise, that raise fertility are either draconian measures like Romanian Decree 770, or reducing female (Western-style) education (like the Nigerian study looking at their brief public school system and finding that the average number of children per woman went down by 0.26 for each year of elementary school attended).

            Pretty much. Here’s another study to the same effect. Mind that the style of education matters, Islamic education of females raises fertility, whereas Prussian-model education (what we westerners use) is particularly deletrious.

          • How long will that still work when (not if, but when) the court overturns Wisconsin v. Yoder?

            Considering that it was a 9-0 decision, I expect that to take a while.

            It’s true that the Amish don’t contribute soldiers to national defense, but they pay the same taxes towards national defense as anyone else. They also pay the taxes that fund the public school system and consume very little of what it produces. If you did a full accounting, I suspect that we are free riding on them more than they are free riding on us.

            I agree that you can’t conjure a religion out of nothing, but observing successful forms of cultural engineering is still informative.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I agree that you can’t conjure a religion out of nothing

            *cough* Scientology *cough*

          • Kevin C. says:

            @ Anonymous

            “Mind that the style of education matters”

            Indeed. Hence my parenthetical “Western-style”.

            @DavidFriedman

            Yoder Revisited: Why the Landmark Amish Schooling Case Could—And Should—Be Overturned“, Virginia Law Review

            Wisconsin v. Yoder: Respecting Children’s Rights and Why Yoder Would Soon Be Overturned

            From Wisconsin v. Yoder to Employment Division v. Smith: Do we Still Have Religious Liberty?” [pdf]

            From András Sajó’s “Preliminaries to a Concept of Constitutional Secularism”, in Constitutional Secularism in an Age of Religious Revival (edited by Susanna Mancini, Michel Rosenfeld):

            Again, denominational education, including its public support might be fully legitimate in constitutional secularism, serving fundamental rights, as long as preconditions of equal citizenship apply and the education remains open to the development of skills that enable participation in the political society. Adults, being autonomous in their private judgments, would have the right to opt out of public education. Children, lacking such autonomy, are denied the capacity to choose. But perhaps the issue does not end there. When government, reluctant to interfere in parental choices, grants parents the opportunity to opt out, it may be foreclosing children’s subsequent capacity for autonomous choice as adults. It is exactly this betrayal of the children that Justice William O. Douglas complains about in his outraged dissent in Yoder.

            Or from “Supreme Court Lecture Recalls Amish School Case“:

            He noted that the court’s decision in Yoder has been the subject of voluminous scholarly analysis, although its central holding that a religious sect may be excused from a generally applicable law has been weakened by such later cases as Employment Division v. Smith, the peyote case.

            “As we approach the 40th anniversary of Yoder, it has lost some of its vitality as judicial precedent,” Peters said. “It just isn’t as weighty as it use to be. … Still, the case is one that every law student learns about in con[stitutional] law class.”

            The school controversy started with Yoder objecting to the local public schools’ requirement that his daughters participate in gym class, which involved changing from their old-fashioned garb into gym uniforms, as well as a requirement that they shower in the school after gym. Yoder was uncomfortable with his daughters engaging in such immodest, worldly activities.

            And, relevant to your “Considering that it was a 9-0 decision” statement:

            Only seven members of the high court participated in the case in the 1971-72 term, with Justices Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan having recently stepped down for health reasons. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger wrote the majority opinion for six of the justices.

            And as Wikipedia notes, along with the Sajó quote above, Justice William O. Douglas dissented in part (arguing that the opinions of the children themselves, as well as parents, should be heard and considered). So it was a 7-0, with a partial dissent, not 9-0.

            And as for using the Amish as a model of “social engineering”, from “Parents’ Religion and Children’s Welfare: Debunking the Doctrine of Parents’ Rights” [pdf]:

            Courts have been reluctant to extend this narrow exception to non-Amish religious groups. For example, one federal court found that the Iowa statutory exception did not apply to non-Amish parents because they were not members of a centuries-old, unassimilated, and isolated religious community. The court pointed out that the children of the plaintiffs were likely to make their way in the world at large when they reached adulthood, rather than remaining in a sheltered environment, and would have to be prepared to cope with modem institutions and to interact with people of diverse beliefs and ways of life.

            So even if the Wisconsin v. Yoder-type exceptions for the Amish survive, it’s mostly via being “grandfathered” in, and would almost certainly not be extended to any other group.

          • @Kevin C.:

            Thanks for the information. I’ve always seen the case described as unanimous, so assumed that meant 9-0.

            I only looked at one of your links. The problem with the “they can always home school” solution is that that gets you back to the same result unless there are substantial regulations on the contents of home schooling.

            The theory of the present system, I think going back to a state decision, probably in Pennsylvania pre-Yoder, is that after 8th grade the kids are being home schooled by their parents.

            And, of course, they are–but the home schooling is in how to run a farm or a household, not in the subjects covered in an ordinary high school.

            To give a reversal on Yoder teeth, you would have to let the states require the Amish to teach particular things they don’t want to teach, which gets you back to the same issues on which Yoder was decided.

            At which point the Amish all move to California or some other state where home schooling is effectively unregulated. Or the states they are currently in, not wanting to lose their taxes and usefulness as a tourist attraction, revise or interpret their home schooling regulations to let the Amish do what they are currently doing.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @DavidFriedman

            See, I think the “they can always home school” argument is frequently being made disingenuously, as the arguments made in at least some of those papers can be wielded against homeschooling, and, if I recall correctly, at least one of them does. I suspect we’ve got here something like Rod Dreher’s Law of Merited Impossibility: “It’ll never happen, and when it does, you’ll deserve it”. They’d never take away parents’ control of their childrens’ education by restricting or eliminating homeschooling, they say now, and when they do exactly that later, they’ll have plenty of explanations as to how it’s justified.

            And yes, I do suspect at least “substantial regulations on the contents of home schooling” to come, if not a German-style ban. Do you remember the proposed Ohio law “Teddy’s Law”? Michigan House Bill 4498? It seems like every year we get another bill requiring parents to get government approval, submit to CPS inspections, or similar in order to homeschool. Eventually, they’re going to start passing (if only due to demographics, which show that homeschooling is pretty much a “white people thing”). Yes, the HSLDA fights back, but I see things attacking them as defenders of child abuse and abusers like “The Frightening Power of the Home-Schooling Lobby” and “Things HSLDA Opposes” with increasing frequency.

            So what happens when (not if, when) Yoder is overturned and homeschooling is either eliminated, or restricted to force homeschooling parents to teach the same things as public school, at a national level, what then? Sooner or later, they’ll come after the Amish, and steamroller them the same as everyone else. Resistance is futile.

      • multiheaded says:

        >-stop wasting billions of dollars on educating the uneducable, do vocational training instead

        This kind of attitude towards people who get vocational training is the exact reason why it’s so despised even by the working class in the first place. Nobody can trust you people to throw even a scrap of dignity to the masses, so everyone quite rationally chooses to scramble for middle-class status symbols.

        • Space Viking says:

          This is a good point. Other societies have done it better, e.g. Japan, Germany. I wonder what we can learn from them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            My understanding is that in Germany, skilled tradespeople, or at least the ones working for big businesses, have a significant say in how those businesses are run.

          • Space Viking says:

            @dndnrsn:

            I would be fine with trying that in the United States. Paul Graham has argued before that US corporations are too uniform in how they are structured and operate, due to regulations, status quo bias, etc., and that this area is ripe for experimentation, which could lead to social gains in addition to economic gains.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Why do you lump working on environmental factors with “HBD”? If people who are at IQ x on average could be at y if they had fewer parasites, better nutrition, better conditions in the womb, whatever … isn’t that the opposite of HBD?

        There’s a ton of people alive today who have higher IQs than their ancestors several generations ago did, because they aren’t starving peasants. I think this is a pretty potent argument against HBD.

        • Space Viking says:

          This is a matter of definitions. My rough definition of HBD is “differences between individuals and groups of humans, which, broadly speaking, are mostly genetic and somewhat environmental in origin”.

          The HBD response to your “starving peasants” argument is that environmental gains in developed countries have mostly, but not entirely, been exhausted, thus genetic causes of differences are now overwhelmingly important in those countries. But in developing countries, both environmental and genetic causes are both important.

      • no more government support for affirmative action, no more disparate impact laws

        Why? Because the amount of irrational discrimination in society is exactly zero?….and you can tell that from DNA?

        • The Nybbler says:

          Because qualitiatively, the connection from ‘there is “disparate impact”‘ to ‘this is the result of “irrational discrimination”‘ depends on the assumption that other factors are not present. The claim of discrimination in this case is very much a “god of the gaps” and if the gap is no longer there, there’s no need for a god — or for the remedy of affirmative action, i.e. discriminating in the opposite direction until the gap goes away.

          Quantitatively the problem is much harder, since disparate impact could be a result of multiple factors including irrational discrimination. But without the assumption that “if a measure has disparate impact, it must be the result of irrational discrimination”, disparate impact is a very weak signal of discrimination.

    • rlms says:

      Support massive quantities of Muslim immigration (to the UK).

      • Space Viking says:

        You must be Irish.

      • Anonymous says:

        Support massive quantities of Muslim immigration (to the UK).

        Do you really believe that someone who believes in the factual truth of HBD has exactly zero other considerations or beliefs?

        • rlms says:

          They generally seem to consider culture pretty irrelevant in comparison to genetics.

          • Anonymous says:

            Culture is not irrelevant, but genetics are a bigger fish here. A cultural alien with roughly the same genetics can be assimilated, even in the same generation if he’s isolated from others of his original culture. A genetic alien will take several generations to assimilate – and that requires intermarriage with the locals, such that his descendants are no longer distinguishable from locals.

    • Acedia says:

      HBD is real, but we should pretend it isn’t when crafting policy because mankind’s innate evil renders us unable deal with the implications of HBD in a just way. Ignoring HBD produces some evil, but less evil than not ignoring it would/has.

      Basically the philosophy of CS Lewis as expressed here, but applied to racial differences as well:

      I believe in political equality. But there are two opposite reasons for being a democrat. You may think all men so good that they deserve a share in the government of the commonwealth, and so wise that the commonwealth needs their advice. That is, in my opinion, the false, romantic doctrine of democracy. On the other hand, you may believe fallen men to be so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows.

      That I believe to be the true ground of democracy. I do not believe that God created an egalitarian world. I believe the authority of parent over child, husband over wife, learned over simple to have been as much a part of the original plan as the authority of man over beast. I believe that if we had not fallen…patriarchal monarchy would be the sole lawful government. But since we have learned sin, we have found, as Lord Acton says, that ‘all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ The only remedy has been to take away the powers and substitute a legal fiction of equality. The authority of father and husband has been rightly abolished on the legal plane, not because this authority is in itself bad (on the contrary, it is, I hold, divine in origin), but because fathers and husbands are bad. Theocracy has been rightly abolished not because it is bad that learned priests should govern ignorant laymen, but because priests are wicked men like the rest of us. Even the authority of man over beast has had to be interfered with because it is constantly abused.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Sounds like you’d agree with Rod Dreher’s “Evolution & The Culture War“:

        As Sailer points out, it is perfectly possible to reconcile the spiritual and moral equality of humanity with what science tells us is true about human biological variability. The problem, I think, is that we humans are bad at this. Given the history of the 20th century, I flat-out don’t trust our species to handle the knowledge of human biodiversity without turning it into an ideology of dehumanization, racism, and at worst, genocide. Put another way, I am hostile to this kind of thing not because I believe it’s probably false, but because I believe a lot of it is probably true — and we have shown that we, by our natures, can’t handle this kind of truth. We will use it to construct ideologies that justify inhumanity with the authority of Science.

        Also, I wrote a while back about the importance of maintaining the concept of forbidden knowledge, that is, things that can be known but should not be known because of what we are likely to do with that knowledge. Unless you believe that plans for building atomic bombs and how to poison a city’s water supply with ricin should be distributed freely on the Internet, then you too believe in the concept of forbidden knowledge. If you believe the government has no right to vacuum up your private information, then you believe that some things shouldn’t be known because of what use we are likely to make of the power that knowledge gives us. My point is simply that all of us believe that some facts are too dangerous to be known; they are like the Ring Of Power, in that the temptation to abuse them is too great for our natures to bear.

        • cassander says:

          I’d point out that detailed instructions about how to build atomic weapons and ricin ARE available freely on the internet.

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t know about ricin — isn’t it a plant extract? — but I’m given to understand the hard part of making a nuke isn’t the design, it’s getting enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium: a feat that’s hard to disguise even if you’re a major nation. If you’re doing an implosion weapon, you can add some tricky and very precise machine work, some of it in material that’s difficult to work with, pyrophoric, extremely toxic, and will fatally irradiate you and everyone near you if you do it wrong.

          • skef says:

            Given uranium with a high enough proportion of 235, a fission bomb is quite easy: it amounts to a bit of metallurgy and making what amounts to a kind of gun. But the process of isolating 235 at those concentrations is very resource-intensive.

            Plutonium is a more attractive material for bombs, not least because the typical process of making it also gives you electrical power as convenient byproduct. Isolating the plutonium is then a matter of chemistry. But making a weapon out of it requires implosion, which is trickier to get right.

            The end-point of western nuclear bombs seems to be standardizing on the smallest viable plutonium bomb which is then a trigger for a fusion bomb of the desired energy. There’s less publicly known about fusion bombs, but given a trigger they don’t seem to require materials more exotic than deuterium, which is much more efficient to isolate than U235. Normal uranium (or even lead) and lithium are rumored to be the other materials.

        • Randy M says:

          As Sailer points out, it is perfectly possible to reconcile the spiritual and moral equality of humanity with what science tells us is true about human biological variability.

          This is definitely harder to do in a de-Christianizing civilization. Once you lose the concept of Imago Dei, what exactly makes men equal? Leave race aside for a moment, we know full well that people are not equal across any metric; we tell ourselves it balances out on average, each person with their own strengths–but it is clearly not true.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Basing your policies on unreality is dangerous. If we could act as if the truth of HBD was unknown and unknowable, that might work. But it appears we can’t. Having untrue but unquestionable axioms in your system corrupts it.

        • Nornagest says:

          Individuals within any demographic group have undeniable and very obvious differences in intelligence and predisposition to aggression, and our legal and other systems don’t seem to have much trouble ignoring those in favor of focusing on behavior.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Yes, we don’t see judges saying “This man’s been in my courtroom six times for aggravated assault; that’s way above average and clearly he’s being singled out unfairly”. This appears to be different for groups than for individuals.

          • JulieK says:

            And no one thinks it’s unfair that men are arrested more than women are.

          • Aapje says:

            But plenty of people think that it is unfair that black people are arrested more than white people are.

        • JulieK says:

          If we could act as if the truth of HBD was unknown and unknowable, that might work. But it appears we can’t.

          Very true. If the “respectable” scientists and journalists refuse to touch a topic, a significant segment of the population will stop trusting them, and turn to other sources of information.

          p.s. to quote one of my favorite novels:

          “…If we mayn’t establish any conclusion for fear somebody may make injudicious use of it, we are back in the days of Galileo. There would be an end to discovery.”
          “Well,” said the Dean, “I wish we could stop discovering things like poison gas.”
          “There can be no objection to the making of discoveries,” said Miss Hillyard; “but is it always expedient to publish them? In the case of Galileo, the Church-”
          “You’ll never get any scientist to agree there,” broke in Miss Edwards. “To suppress a fact is to publish a falsehood.”

          -Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night (1936)

          • reasoned argumentation says:

            Unfortunately that overestimates scientists.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP4CBpLNEyE&feature=youtu.be&t=2711

            “Scientist” who came up with “multiple intelligences” doesn’t really care about truth because if he’s wrong, at least he wasn’t one of the “bad guys” – who are bad because they have a heliocentric view of the solar system.

          • Anonymous says:

            @JulieK

            In Galileo’s case, the Ptolemaics (a distinct faction from the Church, which had beef with G over his questionable judgment regarding who he gets to insult) were in the right. Galileo was given the chance to prove his theory (which wasn’t even the approximately correct one, which was only later proposed by Kepler and Newton independently), and failed, due to lack of adequate tools to produce proof. The technology wasn’t invented yet. He happened to be right-er than them, but he had no evidence for that position; and you’re not supposed to defame your patrons in any case, or be a massive jerk to everyone you come across.

            http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-great-ptolemaic-smackdown-table-of.html

        • Basing your policies on unreality is dangerous

          You might want to be less sure about that. All civilizations, good bad and indiferrent, are based on shared falsehoods l. Where would we be without the belief that a rectangle of paper can be swapped for something useful like a loaf of bread?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Where would we be without the belief that a rectangle of paper can be swapped for something useful like a loaf of bread?

            I feel compelled to point out that that’s not, in fact, false.

          • Its true only because of a shared belief. It corresponds to no reality.

          • It corresponds to the reality that a rectangle of paper can be swapped for something useful like a loaf of bread. I’ve done the experiment.

            There may well be useful false beliefs, but that’s not one of them.

          • Incurian says:

            You know what he means. (he is also wrong about what he means, but it is a commonly held… false belief… though it isn’t useful)

            EDIT: Maybe voting would be a better example?

          • A better example would be the belief that swearing falsely will be punished by God, versions of which show up in a variety of cultures and their legal systems.

          • Controls Freak says:

            Wouldn’t the analogous steelman be “swearing will cause a nonzero percentage of people to tell the truth”? After all, not everyone will give up their bread for your rectangle of paper.

          • Reality is what doesnt go away when you stop believing in it. If you want to test the idea that a dollar bill is intrinsically equivalent to a loaf of bread, you need to try it out somewhere people dont believe in dollars.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Reality is what doesnt go away when you stop believing in it. If you want to test the idea that a dollar bill is intrinsically equivalent to a loaf of bread, you need to try it out somewhere people dont believe in dollars.

            You’re moving the goalposts now. “A rectangle of paper can be swapped for something useful like a loaf of bread,” which was your original example of a false belief, says nothing whatsoever about intrinsic equivalence.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @TheAncientGeekAKA1Z:

            Reality is what doesnt go away when you stop believing in it.

            If you stop believing you can buy bread using money: a) You can still actually buy bread using money, and b) everyone else can too.

            In point of fact, you can substitute whatever you like for money, and you will find equivalent scenarios. Sometimes you can trade those things for bread, and sometimes you can’t.

            Unless you think “manual labor” has ceased to exist, you should probably try a different analogy.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      The policies I support are mostly for reasons disconnected from my knowledge of biology. When HBD / race realism / actually-being-a-geneticist matters it tends to be on the “implementation” side, while most policy questions seem to be about goals.

      As a deliberately irrelevant example, I’m puzzled by people like Nick Land who say that we should voluntarily be replaced by superhuman machine intellects because of the simple fact of their greater intelligence. No matter how smart a machine is, it’s still not human and never will be: it’s absurd to assign it any more than instrumental value. We could agree 100% on the fact of the matter but have 180° opposed reactions to that fact.

      • suntzuanime says:

        No matter how smart a machine is, it’s still not human and never will be: it’s absurd to assign it any more than instrumental value.

        Sadly this is not a consensus view. People try to give animals rights, they cheer for the aliens in Avatar and the robots in Westworld.

      • Anon. says:

        I don’t know if Land is necessarily saying that we should do it. Just that it’s gonna happen.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          He’s awfully gleeful about the prospect at the very least.

        • Tekhno says:

          What’s the point in being sad about something that you think is inevitable? Wouldn’t it be better to adjust your attitude so that you are happy about it?

      • Philosophisticat says:

        There aren’t any remotely plausible views about moral status that draw the boundary exactly around humans. So your puzzlement is puzzling.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          There aren’t any remotely plausible views about moral status[.]

          FTFY

          More seriously, I think it’s a question of temperament. I draw my circles of concern more tightly than a lot of people claim to and have difficulty imagining a scenario where I could choose an animal / alien / robot over a fellow human unless said creature was more useful to me or my relatives. That might just be a personal blindspot, or other people might be lying like rugs so as to sound more saintly.

          Occam’s razor would suggest the former is more plausible but my experience pushes me towards the latter.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            If you just mean to express a groundless personal preference for humans, you’re not using the right words. I may prefer vanilla to chocolate, but I don’t think it’s ABSURD for anyone to prefer chocolate to vanilla. That implies that they’re making some kind of mistake.

            Something odd must be happening if it’s not already obvious to you that people care about their pets as more than mere tools, and that they genuinely would prefer a minor inconvenience to a human to brutal torture of an elf, hobbit, or puppy, all else being equal.

          • Civilis says:

            I think it’s also a matter of perceived group membership. If you’re looking at ‘generic human’ vs ‘generic non-human’, of course you have more sympathy for the human, as you share something in common. But that’s only because the only distinctions that you have to go on are human vs non-human.

            My circles of concern start with family, then friends, then acquaintances, then people that have things in common with me (complicated), then all humans. Is it hard to imagine that an animal / alien / robot could fall into one of those inner categories even if it isn’t human? I don’t get along well with animals, but I have friends that really care for their pets, and I would generally put their pets somewhere just outside where they sit on the circle of concern. If an alien showed up wearing an American flag t-shirt and talking about SSC I’d almost certainly regard it as being more within my circle than ‘generic human’.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Something odd must be happening if it’s not already obvious to you that people care about their pets as more than mere tools, and that they genuinely would prefer a minor inconvenience to a human to brutal torture of an elf, hobbit, or puppy, all else being equal.

            This is a strawman. The original statement was about humans *being replaced by* non-humans. Do there happen to be any remotely plausible views about moral status that are against genocide?

          • Spookykou says:

            Philosophisticat is I believe responding to “it’s still not human and never will be: it’s absurd to assign it any more than instrumental value.” as a moral claim, not about the morality of replacing humanity, which is a stickier wicket.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @Gobbobobble

            I’m responding to this: “No matter how smart a machine is, it’s still not human and never will be: it’s absurd to assign it any more than instrumental value.”

            I agree that there is a stronger argument out there for not wanting humans to be replaced by higher life forms, which doesn’t rely on that implausible claim about the value of nonhumans. But I’m working with what I was given.

            EDIT: Spookykou’s got my back.

    • shakeddown says:

      Aside from piling on with the “remove quotas for women/minorities”, I’d also go with giving people on welfare (temporary) contraceptive implants* (or alternatively, offer people on welfare extra money for agreeing to this). It seems like an effective non-coercive form of eugenics, which doesn’t have strong moral counterarguments except for slippery slope and being icky.

      Also, relating to the non-genetic component of HBD, massive investment in fighting pollution, which has a generally detrimental effects on developing children, and would almost certainly be cost-effective. We could take the budget for that from the education budget, it’d probably help more.

      *assuming we have a safe, removable, and reasonably cost-effective form of contraceptive implant.

      • gbdub says:

        We do – IUDs are safe, nearly impossible to mess up (unlike the pill), last for 5 years, can be inserted and removed at any time non-surgically, and are pretty cheap when amortized over their useful life.

        • JulieK says:

          I wonder why they’re not more popular, e.g. for college students who definitely have no intention to reproduce for the next 4 years.

          • Corey says:

            They’ve gotten more popular in recent years.

            Part of that was Obamacare making them zero-copay. Part of it was changes in Official Medical Recommendations (e.g. they used to recommend IUDs only for women who had already had children, that changed as we realized they don’t cause problems for women who’ve never had kids, nor problems with later fertility). Part of it is realizing the large role user-error rates play in contraception failure (an area IUDs really shine).

          • gbdub says:

            I believe there were some concerns with the early models (and unfamiliar doctors) creating permanent fertility problems. An issue that’s largely been resolved, but the stigma (or at least lack of familiarity with their benefits) remains.

            My girlfriend has one, and any daughters I have will be strongly recommended one.

            As a bonus, for many users IUDs result in significantly lighter or nonexistent periods.

          • John Schilling says:

            I wonder why they’re not more popular, e.g. for college students who definitely have no intention to reproduce for the next 4 years.

            A: One particular brand of IUD had severe and widely-publicized safety problems that very nearly drove IUDs in general from the (US) market – and so denied other, safer brands the opportunity to enter the public consciousness via conspicuous success stories. The Dalkon Shield was to medical devices what Thalidomide was to pharmaceuticals, and even forty-plus years later, the industry has not fully recovered.

            B: While modern IUDs can be safely used by virgins, that was not always (known to be?) the case and even now is not common knowledge. College students embark on their four years of non-reproductive casual sex at a time when they may either be virgins or find it expedient to pretend they are, which argues against asking mom and dad to pay for an IUD before heading off to school.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            asking mom and dad to pay for an IUD before heading off to school.

            The Dalkon Shield is the big answer.

            But this is another one, and it isn’t so much the pay part, but the part where you have to talk to your parents/child about sex and can’t maintain the fiction that there won’t be any sex being had. Which we have a history of doing poorly in the U.S.

          • Aapje says:

            The Dalkon Shield is the big answer.

            Always the nerds with their Star Trek references, jeez.

        • shakeddown says:

          Cool. Is there a male equivalent?

          • Eltargrim says:

            While there are other candidates in development, current birth control options that are solely in the domain of men are:

            a) abstinence;
            b) condoms; or
            c) vasectomy.

            For various reasons, male reproductive biology is a less appealing target for chemical intervention than the female equivalent.

          • maintain says:

            There’s the heat method of birth control. You can google it.

            I don’t know why more people don’t use that. It seems like it would be a good idea.

    • LoopyBeliever says:

      Like many other said, remove quotas, default position that any inequality of outcome implies sexism/racism.

      Then there’s lots of policies that would be near impossible to push even if everyone agreed HBD is true: e.g. remove equal pay legislation (even though it disadvantages low-skilled people), forms of eugenics to assure long-term IQ.

      But overall I don’t think there is much utility for grabs here. Just admit admit people to schools/workplaces based on merit and things will mostly sort itself out.

      On a more fundamental level:

      Someone’s race or sex is a very cheap easily accessible information. We use this to shape our prior about this person. From there onward we update based on evidence we see. Does she speak like an intelligent person would? Is he aggressive in his behaviour?

      The importance of having an accurate prior decreases as you have more data. If you do a many stages recruitment for your software company you don’t have to rely on race as a piece of information. You can test many of the skills of a person directly. When you decide if someone should be your friend, a 2 minutes long conversation will tell you much more about him than his race.

      There are situations when you have to rely on priors because you have to make a potentially costly decision before you can get more information. E.g. when you’re in a dark alley and there is a person walking behind you. If that happens to be a man in a t-shirt f-the-police, it’s is probably better (utility wise) to get away rather than ask him about his hobbies first, even though it is ‘prejudiced’.

      Scott outlined a situation where people may be tempted to rely strongly on priors and it would be very unfair to a part of society. Here, he talked about a script for OKCupid that would tag people as ‘potentially rapist’. In a sense it is perfectly rational for a person to avoid a ‘potential rapist’ partner. But if people immediately discard you for this and the label itself is actually not extremely informative (e.g. it has high false positive rate), you might never be able to find a partner.

      Similarly, a tech company which receives lots of job applications could be tempted to pre-filter those applications using some cheap method. It is expensive to Skype-interview 10k people. It is cheap to ask for their high school GPA (or race) and auto-reject everyone who does not fit some criterium. GPA is not a great predictor of someone’s skill but for its price it is tempting. That would treat ‘unfairly’ lots of potentially decent employees who were lazy bums at high school but got much better later. Even though it may be rational for the company to operate on poor evidence, this approach seems to lead to unfairness and some people being punished.

      In general it kinda sucks if you are an outlier and do not share stereotypical features of your group. When you are a woman people question whether you truly like video games or do you just pretend. When you are black researcher or short basketball player you constantly have to prove yourself to others (and they are acting rationally!).

      On the policy execution level we usually have access to enough information that priors should not matter too much. E.g. you can focus on someone’s poverty rather than race when thinking about helping them.

      • toBoot says:

        Yes! Thanks for this – I was surprised to see how few people articulated this. As our understanding of the genetic differences between groups increases, our undserstanding of those genes will also increase. Meaning group differences will be less relevant since we’ll have more accurate/cheaper measures of individual differences.

        Policies based on group differences are only useful where their cheapness outweighs their inaccuracy on the individual level. In this light, for example, the female combat exclusion in the military was really silly. The only qualification for combat arms was physical, which is very cheap to measure. While only a low proportion of women qualify, they are easy to spot with just a few quick tests that can be mass-administered. If psychological components (e.g. liklihood of suffering PTSD as a result of combat exposure) were a qualification, then perhaps the question might be tricker. I think there’s data that shows women as a group are more likely to experience PTSD symptoms after a traumatic events, but there’s no easy way to predict which ones. Depending on the numbers (and whether this is as true for combat exposure as it is for all traumatic events), this could be a basis for female combat exclusion until we have better ways of measuring individualized outcomes.

        • Cypren says:

          The exclusion of women from combat had more basis than strictly physical limitations. My father was a Navy ship captain at the time that the Navy first piloted integrated crews; I heard a lot of horror stories about it both from him and from a female sailor assigned to his ship who I happened to know through shared social interests. It wasn’t a terribly smooth process for either side.

          Most of the problems were exactly what you’d expect: sexual. Despite rules against fraternization, sailors would get involved, get in relationships, and it would cause workplace friction like it does in any civilian workplace. In addition, you had the added complication of female sailors getting pregnant while deployed; some even did it seemingly intentionally as a way of getting out of extended deployments they found unpleasant.

          Surprisingly, sexual harassment and unwanted advances were not nearly as much of a problem as one would have expected, at least according to my acquaintance; the military cracked down pretty hard on that early on, and life aboard a ship doesn’t leave as many opportunities for two people to be alone without witnesses as life on shore. Most of the problems seemed to spring from consensual relationships that turned sour.

          Allowing openly gay service members obviously introduces some of the same potential for relationship complications in combat units, but I guess I see that as more of an acknowledgment of a reality that was already there than introducing a new complicating factor. Since the vast majority of service members are heterosexual, integrated combat units just seem to add complications for minimal benefit. We already know that the number of female candidates with both the interest and ability to pass the necessary physical qualifications is going to be fairly low; I’m not sure that augmenting our force by a small number is worth the trouble it brings.

          On top of that, there has been significant political pressure to lower standards that women can’t pass under the presumption that they are discriminatory until proven otherwise. This is a significant blow to the judgment and operational efficiency of our military, sacrificing effectiveness for what is essentially a religious crusade in the name of Holy Diversity.

          • toBoot says:

            Hey- yea, I’m in the military, so I’m familiar with a lot of the tensions.

            My argument above though was not really intended to get into all the nuances of the combat exclusion. It was intended to show that assesments based on group characteristics are silly when there are cheap ways of testing invididual characteristics. Perhaps I should have chosen a more settled topic.

            I’m trying to decide whether to go down the combat-exclusion rabbit hole. I’m concerned that your assesments are based on anecdotal evidence from two people, and a story that confirms a “religious crusade in the name of Holy Diversity” narrative. Which, that’s certainly what it is for some people advocating for it; but recruiting, retention and readiness are non-diversity oriented factors that could be positively affected by ending the combat exclusion. If you’re interested in dicsussing more, I’m game. It’s gonna involve a lot of RAND studies, congressional reports, and the occasional field manual.

          • Cypren says:

            Totally interested. My first or second-hand information on this is a good 15 years out of date and I’d definitely be curious to hear more about how things have proceeded since then.

            I should probably point out that while I cited those sources, I was working for DoD (non-uniformed) at the time and did hear a lot of other scuttlebutt as well, so please don’t get the impression that I based my entire view on just two people. That just happened to be a particularly interesting case where I knew both someone at the top and bottom of a particular command chain that was undergoing integration and so got a much broader picture than you would from just a single perspective.

            But I’m absolutely curious to know how things have gone since, both from your perspective and any studies you’d like to share.

          • toBoot says:

            So, my personal experience is that gender integration hasn’t been a resounding success, but mostly because military culture is weirdly concerned about privacy and propriety over efficacy in this realm. Well, I’m in the Army – it may be different in the other branches.

            Women are often treated according to their gender rather than to their unit, rank or MOS (military occupation specialty – aka, job). Gender segregation in training is required be federal law (10 USC 4319 and 10 USC 4320 as well as TRADOC Reg 360-5) , and is the cultural norm in garrison and field environments. Some old FMs required gender segregated hygeine facilities in the field. These are no longer in effect, though that doesn’t stop people from implementing them. This all creates of a lot logistical issues – here’s a quote from a 1997 RAND study on the issue:

            “Segregated berthing lessened work group cohesion on recently integrated ships because department heads were generally accustomed to having their entire crew berthed together in the same area of the ship. Both official and unofficial information used to be communicated in berthing areas, either verbally or by posting notices, and often one worker would wake his replacement to take over the shift. Now men are still berthed according to unit, but the women are berthed together regardless of work group. Supervisors often did not think to go to women’s berthing in addition to their men’s berthing to pass along important information, and no male coworker dared go into female berthing to wake a female sailor if she were the one that happened to oversleep that day.”

            You’d think we would have figured this out since 1997, but we haven’t. Here are some direct quotes from women currently in service (from a Women’s Officer Facebook page where I asked specifically about this issue):

            “When I went to CLC (the new LDAC) there were several times that information was not passed to the females. Changed in formation times, uniform changes, chow times, schedule changes and so on. Also, we didn’t have any female cadre and there were some very knowledgeable male cadre who would often do hip pocket training with the males and it wasn’t until the last week that the other barracks were made aware and moved the training to a different location. ”

            “I came in the army in 2003 as a mechanic and was the only female in my shop for several years. For the first two or three years, I slept in the same tent as my all male squad, never once had an issue. When the BN decided to make an all female tent I still got all of the information, but because my male NCO couldn’t come into the tent he’d yell through the wall for me. This was usually at night when we needed to go out on a random recovery mission. It would wake me up so I didn’t miss the mission, but it also woke all the other females up. I wasn’t very popular in that tent”

            “In Afghanistan, I usually got shuffled over to the female tents which was unnerving during IDF because I couldn’t get accountability until the all clear.”

            “My deployment had gender segregation, and also shift workers. Females were always dragging because the lights were never out. Someone was always awake or waking others. I wanted to be with my unit, but it was a no go.”

            This kind of segregation is having to be re-looked as the military tries to figure out what gender integrated combat arms is going to look like. And even though the combat arms branches are only a small percentage of the overall composition of the military, they tend to set the culture for the rest of the force. I find it odd how the military is totally cool with forcing you to cut your hair, shave your face, dictate who you can sleep with (to some extent), what you can wear (on or off duty), and all sorts of other bodily controls. But asking you to change in your sleeping bag, or put up a tarp, (or just get over it and not care) so that soldiers of different genders from the same unit can work together more effectively… well that’s some twisted liberal social experiment!

            That said, people seem to have very few issues with women in staff positions. Of course there are weak female performers, and unfortunately their weak performace sometimes gets attributed to gender when there’s no evidence that gender is the issue. I suspect that the concerns over women in combat arms will mostly blow over in the same was as other gender integration issues have.

            One area where combat arms may be different is that I suspect, as you do, the number of women in these branches will not ever be very high. This may often result in a given female being the only female in her unit. I don’t think they’re going to lower the standards. A little detour for that subject – That Washington Times article isn’t wrong, just kind of inaccurate. My understanding is that military goes through its job qualifications every once in a while to make sure that the qualifications continue to make sense; the movement to end the female combat exclusion prompted one of these re-evaluations. If you look at appendix C of this document, you’ll see what the re-certification of physical qualifications looks like – I don’t think there’s really any evidence of undue political pressure in there – https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/WISR_Implementation_Plan_Army.pdf

            Of course, the military is so heirarchical, that there’s a tendency to try to show what you think your boss wants, so some pressure is hard to sheild against.

            Because of the low numbers, women might have more issues. A different RAND study found:
            “The majority of research indicates that women in solo-status positions in groups draw more attention from the rest of the group, which is associated with decreases in performance. ”
            and
            “Several studies suggest that solo status for women in the military has negative effects. For instance, the Norwegian military has found that women assigned as solos are less satisfied with their jobs and tend to leave their units quickly (within a year) because they feel isolated and that they do not fit in.”
            I don’t know that there’s a good solution to this. I suspect if the Army manages to shift its culture so that soldiers are treated as soldiers first, rather than according to their gender, it will be less of an issue.

            It’s true, some female Soldiers get pregnant to avoid deployment. That’s simply not an option for males. Instead males claim PTSD, or back injuries, or in some cases just forge orders to a different unit (I’ve only seen that one once – the guy gave himself a promotion while he was at it).

            Fraternization can also cause issues, but as you acknowledged, this isn’t limited to male-female relationships. It’s also not limited to romantic relationships– and isn’t there a truism about the bond of combat being deeper than the bond of marriage anyway? It’s also not limited to colleagues – dudes are always sleeping with other guys’ wives and girlfriends. My personal take is that the military shold stop putting in so much effort into people’s personal lives, and if people can’t get along at work, just give them a bad evaluation report for behaving unprofessionally, and then transfer the bickering soldiers to different units.

            There are a bunch of other issues about morale, unit cohesion, sexual assault/harrassment, and social isolation that I haven’t gone into here. Here are links to some of the studies I found most informative:
            http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1103.html
            http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1380.html
            https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42075.pdf
            http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR896.html

            Even if not that many women enter combat arms, it’s forcing a re-look at a lot of assumptions that have been to the detriment of military effectiveness, and to women serving. There will be short term costs, as with all transitions. Maybe we could achieve those benefits without integrating women into combat arms, but I think once those benefits are achieved, the costs of opening up combat arms drop to near zero. So I believe the long term benefits will outweigh those costs.

          • Incurian says:

            Aside from the changing standards, the thing that would scare me most, personally, is increased exposure to unwarranted claims of sexual harassment.

            When I switched from FA to MI, it was one of my big worries. After being in MI for a few years, it’s not such a big worry anymore, but there are situations when making absolutely certain I couldn’t be accused of something, even by an unscrupulous liar, consumes a lot of my mental processing time.*

            I view gender segregation as a mixed bag. Where it runs counter to common sense and mission readiness, I find it extremely irritating. But on the other hand, I do feel some relief that I’ve reduced my exposure to SHARP complaints. That’s probably just cowardice on my part though, and I can get over it.

            I agree that it’s stupid to exclude based on gender when physical testing is so easy (and routinely done anyway), but one must admit that it’s suspicious how quickly things went from “judge individuals based on the standards” to “maybe we should lower the standards.”

            Anyway, FWIW, I support integration as long as they don’t change the standards. If they happen to change the standards as part of a periodic review, fine, but I do think that will be used as an excuse to push through a politically (rather than mission) oriented agenda.

            *My point here being that “not sexually harassing people” is easy, but conducting myself in such a way that even a mendacious accuser and a commander trying to show how strongly they support SHARP could not possibly find any fault with my actions.

          • Cypren says:

            @toBoot: Thanks, really appreciate the long writeup. I’m heading out the door at the moment, but I’ll post some thoughts about some of your points later tonight if I get a chance.

          • toBoot says:

            Incurian- I’d just written a good chunk of a response to you, and then accidently deleted it. So frustrating! The gist of it was, I feel you on the sexual harrassment/assault issue. I have some inchoate thoughts on how gender integration might be beneficial rather than detrimental on this front. There’s remarkably little data out there on the issue- you’d think colleges would’ve studied this. The best I could find was this: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/25/norwegian-army-sexual-harassment-claims-fell-after/ (the actual study was in Norwegian, so couldn’t read the source).

            I’ll post more when I get over the annoyance of having deleted myself!

            Cypren- looking forward to hearing from you!

          • Incurian says:

            That’s encouraging. Standing by.

          • Cypren says:

            @toBoot:

            That said, people seem to have very few issues with women in staff positions. Of course there are weak female performers, and unfortunately their weak performace sometimes gets attributed to gender when there’s no evidence that gender is the issue.

            I’m generally less suspicious that gender is an issue in performance, and more that gender (and race) can produce a lack of formal scrutiny or criticism. This is definitely a problem in the private sector; many managers (myself included!) are leery of giving someone in a designated-victim class a poor performance review out of fear of being accused of discrimination. I recall that this was suggested as a factor in the wake of Capt. Graff being relieved of duty a few years ago; there were an awful lot of pretty obvious red flags throughout her career, enough to sink most male officers, and yet she kept getting excellent fitreps from all of her COs and was EP’d at every opportunity.

            Do you think this is really an issue? Or is it an overblown concern in the civilian world just due to selective media exposure?

            One area where combat arms may be different is that I suspect, as you do, the number of women in these branches will not ever be very high. This may often result in a given female being the only female in her unit. I don’t think they’re going to lower the standards.

            That’s good to hear, and yes, the link about the revised standards is very encouraging. What I’m wondering is that knowing that very few females can or would pass the certifications, though, is it worth the additional expense and logistical hurdles of integrating them? Isn’t this a case where we should be looking at the cost-benefit? I feel like a lot of the push for integration here is driven by people for whom it is a matter of principle and not effectiveness: it doesn’t matter if it helps the military to have a woman in a squad, it only matters that she wants to be there, end of discussion. That’s in large part the attitude that rubs me the wrong way; the military is not and should not be a feel-good jobs program.

            This cost would go down dramatically if, as you noted, we could get over the extremely strict berthing gender-segregation policies. But I’m not convinced that we can; I think, like gender-segregated bathrooms in civilian life, our cultural standards are pretty hard-wired for privacy and prudishness between the genders.

        • toBoot says:

          Lack of formal scrutiny or criticism is absolutely an issue with gender in the military.

          For example lot of NCOs just don’t know the female grooming standards, so some female soldiers go around looking unprofessional because most of the people around them aren’t going to correct them when they don’t actually know what the standard is.

          Another RAND quote:
          “Men were reluctant to push women, especially during physical activities, such as unit runs, because of the fear that the women would retaliate with an unfounded charge of sexual harassment. Most men were also reluctant to counsel women privately, as they would men, because of the innuendo that would accompany them if they were alone together and because of the lack of any witness who could speak on their behalf if, for example, the woman were displeased with the counseling and threatened to accuse the man of having harassed her while he was alone with her.”

          The concern about sexual harassment (as Incurian demonstrated) is real and pervasive. But it can be overcome on an individual basis once you build trust over a period of time. More on the sexual harassment piece in another post.

          I think men are also just afraid of pushing women because they’re afraid of making them cry, or even just feel bad because they’re decent guys who have been raised to believe that that’s just not how you treat a woman. And even if they can overcome that intellectually, it still probably lingers in the subconscious. And female leaders are usually willing to push women, but I suspect that they’re less inclined to spend time helping mediocre women improve because of the high potential mediocre female performers have to reflect poorly on women overall.

          There’s also this HBS review article that discusses the kind of feedback women get: https://hbr.org/2016/04/research-vague-feedback-is-holding-women-back
          “women are systematically less likely to receive specific feedback tied to outcomes, both when they receive praise and when the feedback is developmental.” This isn’t specific to the military world, but I’m betting it carries over.

          That said, this isn’t *only* a gender problem. I have an E-8 (white guy) in my unit who has been in 20 years who should’ve been booted many moons ago. Any time he got a bad performance review, he’d fight it with an IG complaint, a congressional, a 138 complaint, everything. The commands had a tendency to roll over and just say enough good stuff to get him to drop it. We currently have 3 different congressionals and 1 DoD level IG complaint pending against us because this dude thinks he’s entitled to take on a prestigeous assignement, rather than be forced to retire after he sent a bunch of text messages to subordinates about how he wanted to murder the commander and incinerate his body, and other such charming proposals.

          But as far as the problem is gendered, I believe the solution lies in better integration which will go a long way toward overriding the mental scripts people have for “this is how you treat women.” Those scripts are pretty much universally detrimental in a military context.

          The real problems we’ve identifed with combat arms integration are problems in any branch, or any business. So I certainly hope they can be overcome with training – and not dumbass sensitivity or SHARP training; that is totally counterproductive. Probably something more along the lines of integrated, grueling physical training. From the recent USMC Integration RAND study:
          Israeli experience shows: “integrated training is most effective at improving the physical performance of women, and that integrated accommodations promote unit cohesion.”
          Norwegian experience: “according to the opinions of senior leaders and military researchers, having integrated training and accommodations can promote cohesion within a mixed-gender unit and reduce stereotypes.”

          The thing that convinced me most that training and cultural shifts are the right approach to this is the book On Killing. I thought it pretty convincingly showed that there are few things more ingrained than the norm against killing, but some simple training shifts dramatically altered soldiers’ willingness to engage human targets (like using the phrase “engage targets”). I doubt that gender norms (cultural or otherwise) are stronger than norms against killing.

          I agree that the arguments for integration are too often made on principles of fairness and equality, where effectiveness should be the standard. I’m not sure that there should be “feel good jobs programs” in any context, but in the military context it can be downright dangerous. The reverse if also true. If something is likely to increase military effectiveness in the long run – like ensuring that 50% of the recruiting pool will receive the best possible training, most useful placement, and no negative impact on unit cohesion – then we should be doinng everything we can to make that happen.

          • Incurian says:

            That said, this isn’t *only* a gender problem. I have an E-8…

            Say no more. This is a really good point. Honestly, that sentence has radically changed the way I look at this issue. The gender issue seems so much smaller by comparison.

            On Killing

            Say much less. I don’t remember exactly what my gripes were with this book, but I distinctly remember thinking that this guy reminded me of Freud, in the sense that he asserts a bunch plausible but not experimentally proven explanations for human behavior based on very little evidence, and then extrapolates this whole crazy narrative to explain everything in the universe. I’ve made a practice of asking other psychology major soldiers (I was going to write officers, but actually the first guy I talked to about it was a PsyOp E-6 with a degree) what they think, and I’ve never heard anyone say anything positive.

          • toBoot says:

            Haha -you’re right, On Killing had a lot of stupid stuff in it – I kinda forgot about that – I think I filtered a lot of it out. But I was impressed with the numbers on how few people shot at their enemies in previous wars and how much that number increased after changing our approach to training.

          • Incurian says:

            I’m not sure that requires a complex psychological explanation; the fact that more realistic training resulted in better combat performance does not imply that it had some deep effect on the soldiers’ core values (I know some of it was explicitly designed to do so, but I don’t think they went about testing each new training change one by one so as to isolate the key variable). I admit that I may be running off the rails here though, since I have not read the book in a decade or so.

          • nyccine says:

            But I was impressed with the numbers on how few people shot at their enemies in previous wars and how much that number increased after changing our approach to training.

            But that was the part that was bullshit. It’s all made up; there has never been any actual evidence that soldiers had any difficulty doing their level best to kill people trying to kill them. And, as Cochran notes in the comments there, that’s something that would be easy to find evidence of; if there had been significant numbers of troops unwilling to shoot, we’d have after action reports, personal memoirs, from commanders and nco’s who saw it first hand and complained. Never happened.

          • Nornagest says:

            @nyccine — I’m perfectly willing to believe that it’s bullshit, but that link doesn’t actually substantiate the claim.

      • Randy M says:

        I agree–HBD knowledge would not help a company improve their hiring capability much. But it would help a lot in judging that company on the results of their hiring policy.

      • Even though it may be rational for the company to operate on poor evidence, this approach seems to lead to unfairness and some people being punished.

        This sentence struck me because of the way it equates “bad outcome” with “punishment.”

        The point of punishment is that it is done to discourage some bad action, so punishing for something that not only is not an action but is not bad is wrong. But there are lots of bad outcomes that have nothing to do with punishment. If it happens to rain on the day I was planning to work in my garden that’s a bad outcome, but it isn’t a punishment.

        If the woman I am courting has a preference for tall men that’s a bad outcome for me, but I’m not being punished for being short, I’m just unlucky. The equation only makes sense if you are imagining a world run by an all powerful divinity where the only reason anything bad happens to anyone is to punish him, and even people who believe in such a divinity also believe that bad things can happen to people for lots of other reasons.

        • I agree. I used ‘punished’ rather loosely there. I did not intend to imply divine unfairness. Let me clarify the difference between mere ‘unluckiness’ and what I meant.

          Imagine it turns out that on average Ukrainians are poor drivers. Thus, companies may choose to auto-reject Ukrainian job applications because it saves them money on recruitment. You happen to be very good Ukrainian driver but you have no way to prove it as you are never invited to the interview stage. If any company actually learnt how good you are they would want you. But now because of this screening standard you are stuck and you literally cannot find any decent job as a driver.

          I feel it is very bad that a few outlierish individuals have to pay high price, so that the companies can have a relatively small gain. I’d prefer not to ignore those situations and coordinate a solution where a few individuals do not pay as much.

          It is different in two ways from the scenario with the woman.

          1) There is plenty of other fish who may have different preferences.
          2) The woman actually cares about you being tall. That is, being tall is not a noisy signal about some other variable, like being Ukrainian is a proxy for knowing someone’s driving skill.

          If the scenario I generated sounds too artificial consider Scott’s framing of a similar problem. [I cannot actually find the particular post.] The story goes: There is an OKCupid app that labelled you as a likely rapist based on your profile info. You don’t know what label you got but your potential partners do. Also, the label is a poor proxy of actually being a rapist. Only 5% of people labelled are rapists. Because females get so much attention on dating websites they are not even going to bother with ‘likely rapists’. They can automatically discard you and still have plenty of options. You’re not a rapist at all and those women would likely be happy with you. Good luck in looking for female partner in that setting.

          Again, even though women act rationally and are not overly prejudiced we are locked in a bad (my personal value judgement obviously) equilibrium.

    • Cheese says:

      Basically agree with Philippe Lemoine.

      Ask anyone serious who works vaguely in genetics and related fields, and they’ll probably tell you it’s fairly undisputed at this point. I find people here vastly over-estimate the extent to which ‘HBD’ is a some kind of scary rationalist-only truth that the outside world can’t handle.

      In terms of policy i’d be changing not much at all. Our knowledge and genetics infrastructure is woefully inadequate at this point to really make sweeping changes in areas like education. Despite the fact you do have statistically significant variances between groups, your bell-curves still overlap to an absolutely massive extent on a population wide-basis. There are a lot of philosophical issues with many of the approaches proposed here, in that you will absolutely be excluding people who are SD(s) above even a whole population average. And as such Phillippe’s point about philosophical issues becoming seriously important comes in. Even in terms of people who aren’t +SDs, heritability of intelligence is what (current best guess) around 0.8? That’s not 1, and that raises the point about whether it may in fact be lower hanging fruit to implement better environmental strategies rather that try breeding related programs.

      • In terms of policy i’d be changing not much at all.

        The one big change from recognizing biological diversity is that you can no longer deduce unequal treatment from unequal outcomes, something that our political rhetoric routinely does.

    • Dahlen says:

      If you believe in HBD (Human BioDiversity), what policy changes would you like to see? How do you think the world would be different as a result?

      The policy of assigning philosophers all over the world to the task of disentangling the different meanings found within the word “inequality”. There’s an awful lot of muddled thinking there.

      • Philosophisticat says:

        I feel like we’re on this already. Seems like it doesn’t depend on HBD being true, also.

    • skef says:

      One benefit would be everyone accepting the fact that university teaching positions are just naturally more attractive to progressives.

      (I kid.)

      But that’s the rub, isn’t it? We can sit here pretending that all that stands in the way of a rational treatment of human capacities in society is accepting a three letter acronym, but the end result will generally be a given person arguing that these differences are the inevitable result of unavoidable biological difference, perhaps with citations to this or that paper, while these differences are the result of nefarious cultural forces, without much agreement about what falls into the first and second columns.

      I personally think that there strong evidence of a degree of diversity that would probably have productive policy implications if we sufficiently understood it, but that it’s really hard to tease out the impact of biological difference at the social level. It seems like the arguments people are poised to make today are about as sound as the view “Women just wouldn’t be as good psychologists as men” would have been 50 years ago. And reasoning of the “we’ve been trying that for n years and it hasn’t worked” kind most often begs the question of just what has been tried, and why only a biological explanation would suffice.

      • Aapje says:

        One benefit would be everyone accepting the fact that university teaching positions are just naturally more attractive to progressives.

        (I kid.)

        This is actually extremely likely.

        IMHO, the current SJ idea that the only way for justice to happen if you have a high representation of every group is a dead end street, for both this reason and because some groups are so small* that they will never be present in sufficient quantity to shape a culture through power mechanisms (which is what a lot of SJ people seem to see as the only force in society, which you either leverage for good or for evil).

        * Like transgender people

        It seems like the arguments people are poised to make today are about as sound as the view “Women just wouldn’t be as good psychologists as men” would have been 50 years ago.

        It’s currently acceptable in broader society to hold the view that non-white men are equal to white men or that they are superior, but never that they are inferior at anything. IMHO this is even more backwards than the old ideas, which at least granted each group strengths and weaknesses, even if this was often false and/or exaggerated.

        • skef says:

          “Extremely likely” that such positions are more attractive to progressives (and that this explains their prevalance), or extremely likely that people will widely accept that fact and not attribute the difference to political machinations? The latter seems very dubious.

          If “non-white” men are treated as a group, it seems likely true that that (rather strange group) isn’t inferior at anything. But how would you even pick the “average” or “modal” non-white man for comparison (or the white one, for that matter)?

          Even considering the “usual suspects” and the kind of orthodoxy I think you’re referring to, your description doesn’t sound right to me. Isn’t the orthodoxy that everyone is roughly the same in terms of potential, but that historical circumstance has granted white men advantages that have, in effect, ruined their characters? And that this calls for social changes to rebalance things?

          • Aapje says:

            “Extremely likely” that such positions are more attractive to progressives (and that this explains their prevalance), or extremely likely that people will widely accept that fact and not attribute the difference to political machinations?

            I meant the former. The latter can be quite acceptable when it is framed in a tribal/insulting manner, for example, by arguing that certain groups are anti-science. If you look at the rationalizations for not getting upset over a gender disparity in favor of women in education, they tend to revolve around blaming men for being inferior and arguing that women are simply superior at the traits needed for education. Back when the situation was reversed, it was considered misogynist to make the exact same argument that is now acceptable in progressive circles (even those that don’t believe it, don’t tend to consider it misandrist to make such a claim).

            So it seems perfectly acceptable to call a group more capable, as long as it is the ingroup that is stereotyped as superior. But when anyone stereotypes the outgroup as superior, the exact same kind of reasoning is called sexism, racism, etc.

            Although I should note that this is a more generic human trait and thus certainly not limited to progressives (but their beliefs tend to revolve around the desire to get their outgroup to stop doing this, which makes it very hypocritical when they engage in it themselves).

            Isn’t the orthodoxy that everyone is roughly the same in terms of potential, but that historical circumstance has granted white men advantages that have, in effect, ruined their characters?

            Yeah, but this simply boils down to a claim that non-‘white men’ are superior to white men who are extremely broken.

            Of course, there is the theoretical possibility that a white man could fix himself, but if you look at what standards are used for this, it boils down to being silenced. The ‘fixed’ white men may not have a different opinion, even about his own experiences, than what the ‘oppressed groups’ believe his experiences are. This is again hypocrisy, because mainstream SJ theory argues that people are unable to understand the experiences of others. Yet SJ theory is filled to the brim with statements about the experiences of people who are different from the author (even statements that are about the writer’s own experiences, that claim that this experience is different from the experience of others, make a claim about what the experiences of others are).

            In essence, the white man is judged to be fixed by his uncritical acceptance of mainstream SJ theory, which places SJ theory on a pedestal as the perfect truth. If SJ theory is wrong about the experiences of white men, this effectively makes it impossible to fix that, as white men who claim a different experience are judged as deluded. It is a recipe for groupthink.

          • skef says:

            @Aapje

            I’m not sure you got my original implication. My point was that those groups most adamant about the folly of ignoring HBD would also be least likely to accept it as an explanation for why college professors tend to be progressive. In practice HBD views skew most heavily towards intuitions and preconceptions about out-groups. If the out-group is disadvantaged, well shucks, that’s just biology and there’s nothing to be done. If the in-group is disadvantaged, it’s for social reasons that must be fixed. In practice, the social policy associated with HBD is “let them rot.”

            The SJW reasoning is not this, because they tend to deny HBD, but it winds up being a different means to the same end.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you believe in HBD (Human BioDiversity), what policy changes would you like to see?

      End the various crusades against difference (like affirmative action, quotas, bussing, “women an minorities are encouraged to apply”, etc), and accept that some differences are innate, and you can’t meaningfully change that – and probably shouldn’t want to, either. (Mind you, this is not the only option that follows if you believe in HBD. If you’re dead-set about ending diversity of outcomes, you may want to investigate genetic avenues of outcome correction: unnatural selection. That’s how we got low criminality in the first place.)

      How do you think the world would be different as a result?

      Less insane. You know, as in, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result” insane.

      Do you think people over-reacting to real differences is ever a problem?

      Sure. Having a factually incorrect view of reality is always a problem. How big of a problem it is is just a matter of degree. Right now I’m pretty sure reverting to average-person-like stereotyping would actually improve the overall accuracy of perceptions.

    • Do you think people over-reacting to real differences is ever a problem?

      I ll say. Im old enough to remember the pre liberal/progressive world, and if you want me on board, you are going to have to explain how you avoid having the same problems again.

      Over reacting to group differences was the stuff of old school sexism and racism. If HBD is to be something other than a swing of the pendulum it needs some fences, and it needs old school racists like Sailer offboard.

    • skef says:

      Oh, and

      Do you think people over-reacting to real differences is ever a problem?

      Yes, it can be a problem.

    • I don’t want to comment on the whole HBD thing, which is controversial. And hopefully this isn’t too culture-war-ish, but I didn’t ask the question, so here we go…

      But there seems to be one component of society that is negatively effected by refusing to acknoqledge differences, and that is in the field of engineering and relation to gender.

      Overall, there are consistent differences in capabilities across the genders in relation to spatial abilities that end up being reflected in the engineering fields. In some courses in engineering, such as computer aided design, spatial ability appears to be the dominant trait. It adds significant predictive power in adulthood inventiveness beyond mere mathematical acumen. In quite a bit of engineering, its not the “math ability” that defines inventiveness and capability…though since this world can be converted into mathematical equations, it can kindof look like it.

      The fields most highly spatially weighted are also the fields with the highest male to female ratios, which indicated that people tend to go into their arenas of comparative advantages for the general population.

      Why is this important? Because even though the cognitive traits for mechanical and electrical and industrial engineering clearly demand a separate test for them to extract the most useful predictive power in students and future workers, there appear to be no national tests in this country that are EE/ME specific. I suspect the reason for this is that there ends up a larger gender gap then those seen in national tests of mathematical acumen, and this ends up politically opposed.

      There are consquences to this. Firstly, people end up choosing the wrong major at the start, when every test would indicate that “No, you are relatively disadvantaged in this field” People find hard cognitive thresholds in these STEM fields, major dropout rates increase, and people become needlessly dissapointed over a timespan of 2 years, rather then simply avoiding a lot of misery after taking a short test.

      Secondly, society as a whole becomes…marginally less efficient. On average, those small and large businesses have employees a bit less suited to the task at hand, who end up making less efficient impromptu solutions when it comes to organizing a new factory and creating an on-hand electrical-mechanical solution to a new task.Civil engineers and architects when making new solutions make on average a bit worse solutions.

      • CatCube says:

        …there appear to be no national tests in this country that are EE/ME specific.

        The PE exam has separate tests for ME, EE, and everything else. I’m studying for the Civil Engineering: Structural, and there’s almost no crossover with any of the Electrical Engineering topics (in any of the three EE disciplines you can test in: Computer Engineering, Electrical and Electronics, or Power Engineering).

        • Yeah, but answering mostly to a professional organization that releases minimal statistics on the questions.

          For the PE EE specializations, those are often taken after a masters or a phd. This means that finally, after 6 to 8 years of education, there ends up a test designed for engineering alone. Typical university testing has to answer to a range of ideologies, and appears to be pressured to not do what is rational for extracting talent.

          A big problem is that if a doctor or a lawyer screws up, that patient dies and if it happens enough times the doctor gets banned from the industry. If a group of engineers screw up, the entire town is less safe in disasters(levees). Engineering really *should* be immune to these identity politics, but for most of the educational process, is not.

          • skef says:

            So it’s your contention that IQs towards the tail of the distribution are needed in the present-day construction of levees? I suspect if that’s true we’re screwed either way.

          • CatCube says:

            I take your point, as the PE is well within your career, and not screening…I can’t remember if the FE is different based on the type of engineer, but I know I had to know a lot more thermo than I do for the PE. Even there, the FE is taken your junior year at the earliest.

            However, I will say that at least some EEs need to learn how to visualize in 3D. I had to work really hard to avoid being rude to the EE who was incapable of reading a set of plans and elevations to figure out how long her conduit runs would be. “Are you kidding me? Every question you’ve just asked is on the original construction drawings I sent you! Follow Gallery 163 on the various drawings and add up the dimensions!”

            The other thing was her asking about if the conduit runs would fit with everything else. Well, how about you model everything in 3D like the rest of the disciplines are doing, and we’ll look for interferences. Barring that, maybe look at the sheets we’ve published and mentally picture how your stuff will fit in.

      • Cypren says:

        On average, those small and large businesses have employees a bit less suited to the task at hand…

        Don’t forget the problems that the false “everyone is equal and anyone who says otherwise is a racist/sexist” narrative causes for the hiring, firing and promotion processes that would otherwise work to increase efficiency.

        I’ve managed a lot of software engineers over the last two decades. Of those, the female engineers who reported to me have, on average, been less qualified, less inquisitive, less motivated and all around generally less productive employees than their male peers. I can only think of a single exception to that rule in two decades in the tech industry.

        And yet I gave them all average scores on their annual reviews, even when they were clearly below-average for their peer group. Why? Because if I didn’t, there is at least a reasonable possibility that I would have been investigated for sexist discrimination as their manager, and being a rationally self-interest maximizing individual, I determined that the risk to my career was not worth the marginal gain to the employer of improving the performance of one individual. My suspicion is that every other male manager they’d ever worked with did the same thing, which is why you would get a female engineer with the “senior” title and 7-10 years of experience whose output was on par with our typical fresh-out-of-college male hire.

        This isn’t good for either companies or the women, who are never being given the (sometimes harsh) corrective feedback and the subsequent chance to improve that their male peers are getting. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle and a prime example of Moloch at work.

  7. cassander says:

    On moving the open threads to the Reddit

    Would anyone else be in favor of this? Granted, we’d have to re-learn everyone’s name, but the Reddit interface works a lot better and I’m pretty sure it’s possible to eliminate upvoting.

    • suntzuanime says:

      No, everyone hates the Reddit, which is why they post here instead. That was the first idea people had when the Reddit was opened, but it was a nonstarter.

    • rlms says:

      Strongly against. I don’t like Reddit.

    • I’m new here, but for what it’s worth, I’m totally unfamiliar with Reddit and I imagine that a lot of people are like me and only really know how to comment on more traditional platforms.

    • Skivverus says:

      Meh: it might make me create a Reddit account, but it’s not something I currently check.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I tried Reddit and I found I disliked a whole bunch of things about it (I think upvotes and downvotes are bad, and I found the ways of organizing posts to be like a bad compromise between a forum and a comments section). I would prefer continuing to comment here.

      • It can’t be emphasized enough how horrible upvotes/downvotes are. They are truly cancer to a good discussion.

        • drethelin says:

          This is an insane point of view. Whether or not you PERSONALLY don’t like them, they clearly have not prevented enormous amounts of good discussion happening in various parts of reddit or on Lesswrong.

          From my point of view up and downvotes are enormously attention-conserving compared to having to read tons of replies that basically say “same” or “you’re a dick”

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      I do comment in the subreddit, but the commenting format there is hell for threads like this one, I don’t think it’d be a positive change.

      Plus, Culture War threads there are bloated as they are.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Yeah, reddit threads tend to die after a day. A conversation here can go until the next open thread.

    • Nornagest says:

      I hate the commentariat on the Reddit. Moving open threads there would change it, but I’m not sure if it’d be enough.

    • cactus head says:

      Against.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      It’s absolutely impossible to actually see everything posted in a thread on reddit in any decent way.

      If you tried to follow a multi-person conversation in a sub-thread on reddit it would be an exercise in painful frustration. The nesting of replies alone would make the long back and forth conversations that occur difficult to follow.

    • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

      I hate that wascawwy Weddit.

    • Deiseach says:

      I do comment over on the Reddit, but it’s very different to here. I don’t bother reading the replies/comments in the inbox because there’s no way to get a proper conversation going, I hate the “buy gold” thing, and the upvote/downvote system makes little sense to me.

      Besides, I find my persona shifts when I’m on the Reddit; it’s great for a ‘drive-by shooting’ style of commenting but I much prefer here for discussion, arguing, and thrashing out something.

    • Anonymous says:

      No.

  8. ringmaster555 says:

    [Full disclosure: If I am being completely honest, the goal of this post is probably to seek some sort of validation, although it may also serve as an interesting data point for this site – a reader with a below-average IQ, along with a full diagnostic report of his scores.]

    When I was 16, as a part of an educational assessment, I took both the WAIS-IV and Woodcock Johnson Cognitive Batteries. My mother was curious as to why I struggled in certain subjects throughout my educational career, particularly in mathematical areas like geometry.

    Here is a PDF of the test results.

    I never got a chance to have a discussion with the psychologist about the results, so I was left to interpret them with me, myself, and the big I known as the Internet – a dangerous activity, I know. This meant two years to date of armchair research, and subsequently, an incessant fear of the implications of my below-average IQ, which stands at a pitiful 94.

    Upon reading The Parable Of The Talents, my thoughts on my IQ had been solidified: Stop trying to fit into intellectual shoes that are too big for you. This is your station in life. Accept that it is so statistically improbable that you will not contribute anything useful in STEM-related areas, you might as well minimize your opportunity cost; invest your one Talent within discipline in which you are most likely to succeed.

    Normally, one would conclude that I shouldn’t pursue STEM-related fields. What’s incongruous, however, is at 20 years of age, I have worked for cyber security and stock trading firms (admittedly with the help of an actual high-IQ friend) and even pitched a software idea to an eminent scientist/businessman. So, what’s the matter? Well, I still struggle in certain areas of comprehension. I received a score of 1070 on the SAT, (550 Reading & 540 Math), and am barely scraping by in my college algebra class. Honestly, I would be ashamed if any of my coworkers knew I barely could do high school-level algebra. I also take a long time to comprehend certain texts, often having to reread many times in order to understand the material. Perhaps this is a function of my poor working memory. I am excelling in my major courses (cyber security), however.

    In summation, what was the point of this post? I’m not sure. I’m honestly confused and quite depressed about my abilities and potential life outcomes, especially considering that an IQ of 94 is the average of an individual with only 1-3 years of high school education. Am I a dunce, am I smart, or both (twice-exceptional)? Should I continue to learn heavily-g subjects like math, programming, physics, or find subjects that are comparatively more prosaic but easier?

    • dndnrsn says:

      What are the areas where you tested well?

    • bja009 says:

      Something you should keep in mind is that IQ and g and their ilk are measures of ability, but not measures of worth. It’s all well and good to pat yourself on the back for being Bright(tm), but being a truly decent person is just as important and at least as rare.

      If you’re having some successes, and it sounds like you are, then don’t worry and don’t get down on yourself. There’s more to life than having a +4sigma intellect, especially if it seems like being average isn’t holding you back from pursuing your interests.

      (Also, if you’re really reading and comprehending and engaging with the content and community at SSC, your cognitive battery scores might have been, uh, poorly administered? I don’t know, but surely the test-giver can screw these things up. You might be on the higher side of average, who knows?)

      • dndnrsn says:

        I’m going to second the last bit of this. If your IQ tested at 94, and you are bad at math, and on the SAT you tested similarly for reading as math – well, you don’t write like someone with a somewhat-below-average IQ.

        If I were you I’d talk to a psychologist and figure out what’s up.

        • Incurian says:

          well, you don’t write like someone with a somewhat-below-average IQ.

          This was my first thought as well.

          Also: If it’s stupid but it works, it ain’t stupid and don’t fix it.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I am excelling in my major courses (cyber security), however.

      The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Do what you do, and do it to the best of your ability. Fuck anyone or anything that says otherwise.

      Do your best to be honest with yourself about the quality of your own work product, but don’t predict failure based on secondary indicators when the primary indicators are telling you that you are doing well.

      I also take a long time to comprehend certain texts, often having to reread many times in order to understand the material.

      I know a man who was essentially blind. He could not actually read unless he had a jeweler’s loupe put to his one eye that had any sight, hovering an inch off the page. That meant he was very slow to read anything.

      He still made it through a fairly prestigious law school with very high marks.

      Just because you take longer to read and comprehend doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It sounds like you are, in fact, doing it. Keep grinding. Grinding is itself a talent, which it sounds like you have.

      Do not be ashamed of who you are. Do not pretend to be anyone else. Clear your vision.

      ETA: I agree with others that are saying that you should pursue the idea that the professional help you have received to this point may be incorrect, incomplete or inadequate.

      For instance, it it possible that you have undiagnosed dyslexia? Not because I think this is likely, merely because it is a good example of the kind of thing that could be making things more difficult than they should be.

      Pursuing an assessment from someone who excels in diagnosing and treating learning disabilities might not be a bad idea.

      • Kevin C. says:

        “The proof is in the pudding”

        Can I just step in to say that I hate this mangled metaphor? The original, meaningful form of the saying is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”, with “proof” used in the older sense of “test, trial” (the same sense used for the related verb “prove” in the expression “the exception that proves the rule”).

        • suntzuanime says:

          You’re mangling your own metaphor, “prove” in “the exception that proves the rule” is actually being used in the modern sense. So lay off other people.

          • Kevin C. says:

            It seems to be that there’s some debate about this issue.

            Edit:That said, consider the latter point withdrawn.

          • That gives the “true, or at least original” meaning as what suntzuanime claims, and describes the other as “an alternative explanation often encountered,” which it then says is “considered false by some sources.” Further, it traces the true meaning back to an explicit Latin rule.

            The implication of the Wiki article is that the original meaning is clear even if some deny it, and the only ambiguity has to do with how people later used the phrase.

      • shakeddown says:

        I know a man who was essentially blind. He could not actually read unless he had a jeweler’s loupe put to his one eye that had any sight, hovering an inch off the page. That meant he was very slow to read anything.

        He still made it through a fairly prestigious law school with very high marks.

        I’ll one-up you here and mention my former neighbor, who was completely blind and got through the top law school in America.

        • Walter Oi was a prominent economist who went blind. According to the Wiki article, by the time he entered college he was unable to read text.

          Jimmy Savage, a mathematician and statistician largely responsible for the idea of subjective probability, was almost entirely blind.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Nicholas Saunderson was another blind mathematician who is said to have worked in subjective probability. In the 20th century blind mathematicians tend to be geometers.

      • Cypren says:

        For instance, it it possible that you have undiagnosed dyslexia? Not because I think this is likely, merely because it is a good example of the kind of thing that could be making things more difficult than they should be.

        Completely agreed. This was my first thought as well. @ringmaster555, you do not write like someone with a permanently-disabling intellectual deficiency. If you lack something in natural intelligence, you are more than making it up with raw discipline and focus — which I would say is vastly more important to success than IQ, just harder to measure.

        My gut guess would be that you’re not unintelligent; you just have some confounding factor that makes you perform poorly on tests. There are a lot of possible reasons for that, and the tests do not try to measure for them.

        Don’t take test scores as an objective measurement of your self-worth.

    • Deiseach says:

      Brother, sister, sibling or other form you may prefer, let me fall sobbing on your neck in recognition. I’ve never had a formal IQ test of any kind, but the closest I came to it was doing a Ravens Matrices one on the Internet which scored me at a whopping gigantic IQ level of 99.

      I wear my “Below Average” badge with pride 🙂

      You sound a bit in my direction: good with language, hopeless with mathematical concepts, the difference between “left” and “right”, spatial reasoning (I managed to get lost in my own home town on two separate occasions and believe me, it’s no throbbing metropolis of a million streets) and basically anything more complicated than “put the square peg in the square hole. NO, the square hole”.

      I’m also not one speck artistically talented; I did a one-year general arts course to determine if I had any abilities in that direction and nope. I apparently can’t distinguish hues or which ones go together in families (the painting teacher nearly broke down sobbing). Don’t ask me about the pottery class 🙂

      You sound as if you’re doing well, all things considered. Sure, maybe pure STEM is not for you, but that does not mean you cannot contribute to the ancillary arts and fields that go to support it.

      Have you by any chance tried testing to see if you’re dyscalculic? Just as dyslexia was only relatively recently recognised as a problem for students, I think there’s an awful lot of people who were told (and are still being told) in school they were just plain lazy/stupid/both when in actuality they have this problem.

      You sound as if you have a reasonable life now. Don’t let yourself be disheartened by “Well in the new knowledge economy anything less than 115 IQ means you’re only fit to sweep the floors until the robots take that over, too”. You know your limitations, now work with them and sure, growth mindset isn’t going to give you abilities you don’t have, but you are not condemned to be a low-IQ dunce just because you still need to count up on your fingers to check your addition (ahem, I mean I heard some people do that, that is a low-down dirty lie that I can’t do simple mental arithmetic and have to write it all down).

      • Winter Shaker says:

        A couple of threads back there was a ‘where does your screen name come from’ question, and I didn’t get around to responding, but it seems relevant now. It was after this song, which happened to be high on my playlist at the time I wanted to come up with one, and given the song contents (and the band’s subject interests generally), I assumed it referred to a Native American group that had a ceremonial rattle only to be used in winter, or to ward off the cold, or some such.

        Nope. Turned out on googling it that it referred to someone who joined the Shakers during cold times to take advantage of their hospitality but didn’t really contribute to the community when it counted. Which, as someone who enjoys the politics and the chat, but whose brain switches off at the prospect of doing any heavy lifting with the maths, seems appropriate 🙂

        • Randy M says:

          I’ll steal that reference so I can sound cultured next time i read “The Ants and the Grasshopper.”

      • I managed to get lost in my own home town on two separate occasions and believe me, it’s no throbbing metropolis of a million streets)

        That’s nothing. I spent a week or two in Canberra before I realized that my mental map of the part near me was inside out. I had been going on point to point navigation.

        A few days ago I was with a group getting a tour of part of NASA Ames. It was chilly and windy, and I was wondering why we had gone so far from the party we were all attending and thinking about how long it would take to walk back when we turned a corner and were at the building we started at.

        And I score high on the sort of tests he scored and you think you would score low on.

        I apparently can’t distinguish hues or which ones go together in families (the painting teacher nearly broke down sobbing

        My wife, like your teacher, has this odd belief that some colors go with other colors. I mostly humor her in what I wear.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Given the nature of the RPM, this probably explains your supposedly low IQ combined with writing like someone who is definitely not low IQ.

        I’m in the same boat. Garbage visually.

    • John Schilling says:

      If you’re struggling with high school algebra, while in college, that puts you well ahead of all the people who gave up on algebra and dropped out of high school – some of whom are nominally smarter than you are.

      Hard work is worth at least ten points of IQ, probably twice that for most purposes, and IQ itself only measures a part of the multidimensional thing that is human intelligence. So if you focus on what you are good at(*) and work at it, you may find yourself keeping pace with some of the lazy misplaced geniuses in the same field. If so, you’ll probably have less time to enjoy it than they do on account of the constant hard work, but you may wind up feeling better about yourself than they do on account of ditto.

      * Which are not necessarily the ones that are “easier”; it’s the ratio of progress to effort that matters.

    • rahien.din says:

      Look at what you’ve written :

      I fear the implications of my IQ of 94. I am ashamed I could barely do high school-level algebra. My working memory is poor. I am depressed about my potential life outcomes. I find it incongruous and confusing that I have excelled in my chosen field of cyber security and pitched ideas to eminent persons.

      So much shame and fear of failure in there.

      But it seems like you needn’t be afraid. You write very lucidly, you have a clear grasp of fairly specific concepts such as opportunity cost that exceed the difficulty of things like algebra, and you have already demonstrated to yourself that you can succeed in the field of your choice. Don’t be confused by the fact of your success, reach for it with both hands.

      I agree with everyone else that your 94 is rather dubious and belies your apparent intelligence.

      invest your one Talent within discipline in which you are most likely to succeed.

      This is exactly what everyone does. Successful people find a niche that exploits their talents and minimizes the impact of their weaknesses.

      My brain doesn’t work like a regular medical student’s, to the point that I was briefly on academic probation in med school and contemplated dropping out. But neurology and neurologic thinking clicked for me, and I went with it, and now I’m a damn fine epileptologist. No one gives a shit that I failed my ob-gyn exam the first time around. In fact, it’s kind of funny.

      Luckily for you, you have found a niche in cyber security very early into your career. Go for it.

      One other thing : you seem genuinely upset about this. Maybe talking to a counselor or therapist would be a good idea, lest this thing gnaw at you forever. It might also be worth reading this post, as shame and self-doubt can be symptoms of depression. I am no psychiatrist nor do I play one on the internet – so take your grain of salt – and be safe and whole.

    • I got a 550 Math SAT and, like, a C in University algebra. Never took another math course, never took a programming course. (I majored in Political Science, which I was actually pretty good at).

      I am in my mid/late 20s, making about what you’d expect from a top tier CS grad on the west coast, and work as a Data Scientist at a big tech company in econometric modelling. I always feel like a poseur. *shrug*.

      I was always pretty decent at writing and learning about the world. If I had to praise myself, I would say my natural inclination towards rationalist style thinking, bias correction of the world, and scientific reasoning is probably very very high. I also spent much of my free-time in the past 10 years trying to learn things that I felt came so easily to my peers.

      I got a masters at the LSE, but it was in political economy (wasn’t smart enough for mathematical econometrics). I scraped by with Game Theory and Causal Inference/Econometrics courses, which weren’t that hard.

      I never took advanced math, programming, or physics types courses. I wasn’t smart enough to pass those tests. I just studied them on my own time, and eventually worked and proved my way into a good job. Even now I’m still not gifted at harder science stuff. It takes me a long time to learn simple algorithms that the wiz kids pick up in an hour. I won’t lie, I still think daily about how much easier my life would be if my math IQ was higher.

      Still, there is something I am incredibly good at that’s hard to put my finger on. If you’re posting at SSC maybe you’re good at that same thing. Don’t give up hope, but be willing to be strategic and look into uncommon strategies to get where you want. I couldn’t get a BA in physics from any school, so I didn’t try.

      PS: Ignoring what you might think of his blog or cartoon, Scott Adams book “How to fail at everything and still win big,” Is a really uplifting ‘self-help’ book that addresses lots of your concerns. I really can’t recommend it enough.

      PPS: I don’t think your IQ is 94 based on your desires and writing. Either way, remember, IQ is a 1-dimensional model without a perfectly high r2 (so to speak). It’s not a deterministic number, although it’s also a meaningful one. You probably have some split abilities. There is no clear way to test for that stuff at an individual level (at least not a mainstream well known one).
      I have had some high profile profs and previous bosses not understand why on earth I wouldn’t go get my PhD from a top 5 econ school, like, they thought I was gifted. What do I say? Sorry, my GRE in math score is so low they would throw my application out. Plus, I’m missing like 8 math classes they require. That’s embarrassing, and it’s weird. I don’t know what to make of it, and at this point I guess I don’t care. I’m just who I am trying to live my life how I want. I’ve still got it really good.

      Anyway, if you’re interested in more personal info let me know and we can exchange contact info. Since you remind me of myself, I’m very empathetic to your position in life.

    • Cheese says:

      I think people can severely under-estimate the extent to which an average IQ person can understand complex concepts and perform pretty damn well at most things a higher-IQ person can do.

      To make a counter example, I have a measured IQ (let’s assume both are correct) a full 40 points above yours. At 20 my major achievements were dropping out of a very similar degree to yours after a semester because i’d been taking too many drugs and partying too much to study, and getting fired from a large-chain retailer.

      So yeah, IQ correlates reasonably well with success and stuff on a population level. But applying population level correlations to individuals as a rule… nah. You seem like you’re doing fine. I think ‘do what you’re good at’ is a pretty good rule for anyone, but there’s a lot of high IQ people who are good at doing nothing with themselves.

      • Dog says:

        As a counter-point, head over to https://nces.ed.gov/NAAL/sample_items.asp and hit the search button. If this assessment is accurate, then for example only 36% of US adults can read a basic bus chart. I feel like intelligent people more often over-estimate the capability of an average person. I would guess OP has a learning disability that is skewing his test results (or has deceptively good verbal skills).

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ dog
          If this assessment is accurate, then for example only 36% of US adults can read a basic bus chart.

          A correlation might be, that the more intelligent adults have less need to ride the bus.

          • Dog says:

            I can believe that there are many seemingly simple skills that could be learned by a typical adult (e.g. reading a bus chart) that they nevertheless might struggle with if asked to perform as a one-off. The bus chart is only an example though. Another example from the data-set: 42% of adults could not calculate a 10% tip on a lunch bill. This is from a large, random sample of US adults. If the OP is getting through Algebra (even with a struggle), I think he’s safely past the “can’t calculate a tip” zone.

            Take a look at the site and sort by P-value (percentage that answered correctly in this case). It’s frightening. I believe I originally came across this site on a slatestarcodex post, but I can’t remember which one…

          • thehousecarpenter says:

            But calculating a 10% tip is another skill like reading a bus chart, which one can forget or fail to have ever learned how to do while at the same time not lacking the capability to learn how to do it if needed. I do expect there is a reasonably large proportion of the population which would lack that capability. I just don’t think the survey gives much indication of what that figure is except that it is no greater than 42%.

          • thehousecarpenter says:

            FTR, I can’t read bus charts, and I do use buses reasonably often, and while I don’t know what my IQ is, I do have a maths degree.

  9. AnthonyD says:

    https://aellagirl.com/2017/01/30/facts-vs-truth/

    “If we want to step away from this, we have to be consistent. If I want to condemn Trump supporters for being tolerant of his lies, then I have to stop sympathizing with the pro-gay interviewers and I have to defend my father’s presentation of his views as he gave them. I have to tell the police the truth, even if it means a would-be rapist goes free. If Trump supporters do not get to pick and choose their own truth, then I don’t get to pick mine either.”

    Hopefully this quotes gives the idea of the peice, even out of context.

    • suntzuanime says:

      I think it conflates two issues. She talks about “mockery and satire, or impassioned and exaggerated speech” and equates it with making false accusations of a crime. When you engage in satire or impassioned speech, the things you say may not be literally true, but you don’t have deceptive intent in your communications. You’re using your words for rhetorical effect, and a reasonable listener would interpret them that way. That contrasts with making a false crime report, where you are making a direct false claim you intend to be believed, with total deceptive intent, or her other example of falsely quoting an interviewee, where you intend to deceive people about what the interviewee was saying.

    • Incurian says:

      Facts, even if true, can be misleading, can slow us down, can catch us in petty arguments over statistics or history, can distract us from things like protecting gay people or prosecuting would-be rapists. They can be used as weapons against us – if you’ve ever had a debate with an obviously-wrong person who is more technically informed than you, you know this frustration. Facts do not equal truth, at least not deep down in our gut.

      I may have some analysis on this after I stop twitching. Didn’t realize people consciously held this position.

      EDIT: Upon more thorough inspection of the blog, I retract my criticism. And if she’s reading: Hi, I’m Inc.

      • dank says:

        I think the point of this post is that you can say true things until your face turns blue and still give a misleading account of the whole situation.

        The Wheel of Time series included a sect of sorceresses whose initiation involved a spell so that they could never lie. They got so good at telling misleading truths that people never believed anything they said.

      • Matt M says:

        if you’ve ever had a debate with an obviously-wrong person who is more technically informed than you

        Most of my debates play out this way! 😉

      • MoebiusStreet says:

        Didn’t realize people consciously held this position.

        I confess that I have held this position in the past. In college I had a friend who was remarkably confident and well spoken. We would have a conversation in which I knew I was right, but I frequently found myself frustrated by his ability to completely strip my argument of any logical underpinnings.

        Today, after further reflection on those cases and after growing more erudite and confident myself, I think there were two facets to this.

        On the one hand, I’m sure there were cases where my convictions of my own righteousness really weren’t as strongly founded as I believed, and his cutting them down was a demonstration that I needed a stronger foundation before being willing to accept something so strongly.

        But on the other hand, there was also a certain amount of rhetorical skill involved: he was just a better debater than me. A skilled rhetorician frequently can twist into a knot someone who just doesn’t have the skills to defend his position. I think that’s even true if the more skilled one is trying to debate fairly and honestly.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Scott discusses something similar here.

          • Wrong Species says:

            The difference between Scott and the article above is that Scott calls it “epistemic learned helpless”. So he doesn’t know if the argument is right or wrong but for his own sanity, he might choose to ignore it. The person above says the other person is “obviously wrong” because their gut says so.

      • Incurian says:

        You all make good points but I know I’m right so suck it so I’m going to think about it more. I think that as suntzsuanime said, different things are being conflated, but I’m not sure what the specific rules ought to be.

        • Incurian says:

          I thought about it, here are the rules:

          -It’s wrong to mislead people who are not your enemies, and you should be careful about misleading even them because your credibility may become important in the future. White lies to your SO about their weight are ok, but don’t delude yourself into believing you’re really accessing a deeper truth, you’re just trying to maintain social harmony.

          -If someone’s facts are misleading, the burden is on you to explain why that is the case. You need to get into petty arguments about statistics. I mean, you don’t need to, but you also can’t really continue the argument (which might be the wiser choice in many cases).

          -If you “know you’re right” but the other person is more knowledgeable, you need to stop knowing you’re right and reconsider your position. You may very well turn out to be right, but you don’t know it yet.

          These are inconvenient rules but the alternatives are worse.

          My original point was that although the problems she lists are annoying, I thought people either adhered to my rules (or some similar variation), or broke them subconsciously, possibly with some cognitive dissonance involved. I didn’t think people held the belief that lying is an acceptable rhetorical tactic as long as you know you’re right.

          • Loquat says:

            How closely do you think you’d adhere to your third rule if someone were trying to argue you into a conclusion you found wholly unacceptable and repugnant? Like, (argument you can’t find a hole in) therefore you should join our death cult and suicide-bomb the mall this weekend.

            I feel like a lot of people would endorse NOT reconsidering your position and just rejecting your opponent’s argument out of hand when they’re arguing for a sufficiently repugnant result, no matter how well they make their case.

    • rahien.din says:

      An oblique example from my own practice

      There is a certain medication that I give out a lot for epilepsy in kids, and its only real adverse effect is irritability, which happens about 30% of the time according to the literature. Otherwise, it is really amazingly safe. We are supposed to tell our patients about adverse effects before giving them medications. I was exposed to two strategies regarding this medication.

      Strategy A : quote the numbers and tell your patient’s mom there is a 30% chance of causing irritability
      Strategy B : tell them it’s safe, full stop, with no mention of irritability whatsoever

      Patients who got strategy A were told 30%, but 60-70% of them would come back with irritability. Patients who got strategy B were told 0%, but about 5-10% of them would come back with irritability. So strategy B is less “factual” than strategy A because it deviates from observed facts, but it is more “truthful” in that there is a smaller discrepancy between the patient’s expectation and experience than with the more “factual” strategy A.

      There are all kinds of caveats (reporting biases abound). But, these strategies have real implications, because the number of drugs you have tried predicts your ultimate prognosis to some degree, and it does not matter whether a drug failed because it didn’t work or because it hurt you.

      • Might a compromise be to say something like “About a third of the time it has some negative effects but not dangerous ones,” without specifying the effect and so triggering it?

        • rahien.din says:

          Maybe. But in my experience that statement will trigger something.

          • And if you then tell them “Oh no, that’s not one of the side effects this medication can have,” do they believe you?

          • rahien.din says:

            Well, their willingness to be convinced in a single instance isn’t the point.

            I’ve told them that something bad could happen, but I haven’t told them what it is. So they are stuck trying to guess if the bad thing is happening whenever their child has some symptom. Just read the databases generated via FAERS – people worry that literally any symptom could be an adverse effect of their medications. Telling them “Your symptoms are not the bad thing I’m thinking of” only addresses a single instance, but does nothing to help the overall uncertainty.

            That strikes me as kind of cruel. Especially when uncertainty is such a large part of the difficulty of epilepsy.

      • reasoned argumentation says:

        It seems possible that it causes irritability in everyone but some people have lower baseline irritability or sensitivity to irritability so that they don’t complain about the condition since it doesn’t push them over some threshold. When they’re told about it in advance, they notice because they’re looking for it (right now you’re conscious of your breathing because I wrote this).

        • rahien.din says:

          Sure sure, there are plenty of good explanations for how this happens. Ultimately it’s an overlap between a factual adverse effect and a very real nocebo effect.

          Mechanisms aside though, my question is : what is actually true for my patients?

          If I tell 10 patients that 3 of them will get sick from the medicine, then 7 of them get sick. If I tell 10 patients that 0 of them will get sick from the medicine, then 1 gets sick. In which case have I told the more true statement?

          • Jiro says:

            The number of patients who get sick, for some predefined definition of “sick”, remains constant whether you tell them or not. The number of patients who report getting sick will change, not the number of patients who actually get sick.

            The extra 6 patients either do or don’t meet the predefined definition of “sick”, and which statement is true depends on that, unless you define “sick” such that whether the sickness is reported is part of the definition of being sick.

      • Aapje says:

        @rahien.din

        People who falsely report to you that their medicine gives them irritability give you the possibility to reassure them. People who don’t get that the medicine might cause these symptoms might experience years or even decades of adverse effects, without any idea that the medicine is the cause. I would argue that the latter outcome is worse than a false belief that the medicine causes their irritability, so it’s not just the gap that matters, but you have to weigh false negatives against false positives based on their consequences.

        I would also argue that you might be able to evade the problem by Strategy C: measure the the irritability of patients with a test before and after you give the medication. If you don’t tell them why you do this test (and it is not obvious from the test itself), you’d have much more objective information.

        • rahien.din says:

          Aapje,

          Thanks. Your points are very well-taken. Interestingly enough, Strategy C is basically what I do. I don’t even suggest this medication to kids I think will go bonkers. On followup visits, I ask normal indirect questions and observe the kid’s behavior. That’s usually enough to know if I am inducing misery.

          If those sorts of ethical considerations can be satisfied, I still think that Strategy B is more “true” than Strategy A.

          People who falsely report to you that their medicine gives them irritability give you the possibility to reassure them.

          This I am very unsure of.

          In the absence of other identifiable causes of irritability, what could it mean to falsely report irritability? Nocebo is a real thing, and I don’t doubt the genuineness of my patients’ experiences. Moreover, patients with “false” irritability do get better once the medication is weaned off. There are multiple common ways that causality is examined in medicine, and this would seem to satisfy their definitions of a probable or likely adverse effect. So I hesitate to tell patients their experience of irritability is false.

          My other hesitation is pragmatic : only in extreme cases have I successfully reassured a parent who thinks their kid has gone feral. Switching medications is almost always the right decision.

          • Aapje says:

            @rahien.din

            Nocebo is a real thing

            Sure, but it is difficult to distinguish from false attributions. Vague symptoms that everyone has (like irritability) and that have very common other causes (like being tired or having sleeping problems) are extremely prone to false attribution effects where people latch onto the explanation you handed to them. So I would suspect that many of the people who report more irritability just take variations in irritability and instead of attributing that to being tired (or such), they attribute it to the medicine, because you made them look aware that the medicine can cause this.

            This article suggests that people tend to underestimate the likelihood of rare events when they learn by experience and overestimate when they learn by being given information about existence of the risk. This matches your experiences.

            My other hesitation is pragmatic : only in extreme cases have I successfully reassured a parent who thinks their kid has gone feral. Switching medications is almost always the right decision.

            Devil’s advocate suggestion: give them a placebo first and tell them about the risk, then switch them to the real medicine if they complain or keep having the original symptoms.

          • rahien.din says:

            Thanks Aapje,

            I should be careful to say that this is not mere false attribution, or at least, the false attributions are not detectable. I want my patients to stay on this medicine – it’s very good – so I question them closely.

            Moreover, if there is an organic cause of irritability… there is still some rationale to not give a drug that will heighten that irritability. EG, I don’t suggest this drug to kids who already have poor sleep, have autism, etc.

            give them a placebo

            Could be an interesting experiment, and it has been tried before in other circumstances in order to test parental report of hyperactivity following sugar intake. And your other article is interesting and well-taken. Both of these cast some doubt on the reporting.

            But I’m not convinced it matters.

            Some patients report irritability that is “false,” and others report irritability that is “true,” but their description of the irritability is not different and there are no identifiable other causes. I have to decide whether each patient in isolation is “false” or “true.” But there’s no way to make that distinction.

            Yes you could do a before-and-after formal neuropsychiatric assessment, but if that’s necessary, no one will opt in to the medicine. And it’s an even stronger nocebo stimulus.

            Even if I can make that distinction, my patient’s experience is their experience, regardless of what I insist it should be. Especially when the only reason why they “falsely” think their life is worse is purely because of my suggestions. That seems highly unethical.

            So you may be right that some of these parents have the false experience that their child is irritable. But that idea can not be operationalized.

        • Cypren says:

          People who falsely report to you that their medicine gives them irritability give you the possibility to reassure them.

          This seems really only true for side effects that have obvious physical symptoms. Mood-affecting symptoms seem likely to self-reinforce via psychosomatic effects to the point where the person really is experiencing the adverse effect they claim to be, but for the wrong cause. As @rahien.din says, “nocebo” is a very real thing.

  10. People often say that, since the police stops more blacks than whites, yet the proportion of blacks they stop who have something illegal on them is not higher than the proportion of whites they stop who do, it shows that the offending rate for blacks is not higher than for whites and that cops are racist. This argument can be found, for instance, in the DOJ report about the Chicago Police Department written after the death of Laquan McDonald. But I think it’s a fallacious argument, because while it would be valid if, within each group, cops stopped people randomly, not only is this assumption totally implausible but the conclusion of the argument I criticize actually implies that it’s not true. I wrote a post, as well as a follow-up on it to clarify some points, where I argue for this in more details and I’m curious to know what you think. I hope it’s okay for me to link to my blog in this way, as I know people have been annoyed by the way in which I did it before, but I tried to follow people’s advice on how to start a discussion about something I wrote.

      • Yes, I remember that post, but it was much more general in scope than mine, which makes a more limited point. I don’t think he makes the point I make in my post, but it’s been a while, so I could be wrong. That being said, I think both his post and the Lauritsen and Sampson review of the literature it relies on a lot are very good, but there seems to have been a few recent meta-analyses that have nuanced their conclusions a little bit, though without affecting the bulk of them. Maybe I’ll write a post about this literature at some point, but it would take time, so it probably won’t be for a while. Even without looking at the literature, I think a back-of-the-envelope calculation is enough to make it very implausible that discrimination plays a substantial role, compared to other factors. I have written something about this which I will plan to post soonish. I think there are many popular beliefs that can be shown to be implausible with a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      I think you’re rather quick to accuse people of overt bias in the first post. Yes, it’s a clear enough idea once pointed out, but it’s complex and subtle enough that it took me several read-throughs to fully grok what you were saying (maybe your explanation just isn’t the best), and I know a reasonable amount of statistics. I also didn’t realize the issue on my own, despite having looked at the argument in a class on crime and on my own, and being skeptical of the “cops are the Klan” narrative.

      Now, arguably professional researchers should have more diligence and you could accuse them of some lack of integrity by not investigating further arguments whose conclusions they liked. But it is hardly intentional lying.

      • It may be that I wasn’t clear enough, but I took myself to be making just the point that you’re making, namely that while this mistake is understandable for ordinary people, it really shouldn’t be made by professional researchers. I also didn’t accuse anyone of lying and, in fact, I explicitly said that I didn’t think Lamberth was dishonest. As for the rest, you may be right that I underestimated how difficult it was to see the problem, even if you are skeptical of the liberal narrative about cops. But, as you admit yourself, professional researchers at least should have noticed this a long time ago. And, as I suggest, many of them probably did, but didn’t say anything because the political environment in academia makes it difficult.

        • Cypren says:

          You’re making a causality argument. It’s clear enough in mathematical terms for someone with a math background, but I should point out that couching it in those terms severely limits the number of people who are likely to read or understand it. Unless you’re presenting at a conference of mathematicians, physicists or computer scientists, as soon as you use the phrase, “Let X be…” you’ve probably lost 90% or more of your potential audience.

          I agree that it’s likely that the religious precepts of Academia, probably the most important of which is thou shalt not question any assertion of widespread systemic racism, are probably behind the lack of challenge of the arguments you’re criticizing. But I would, because my strong internal biases are against the Cathedral and its priors. You haven’t made a case for that in your essay; you’ve merely asserted it. To persuade people whose priors are not already in alignment with yours, you’re going to need more evidence to show that there are systematic attempts to suppress ideas and narratives contrary to accepted SocJus orthodoxy before alleging bias.

          • I used the silly example about people getting stopped to see if they have coins in their pockets in the hope that it would help people who aren’t very comfortable with math understand it. But you may be right that it wasn’t enough or, as you say, that people just stopped reading before that.

            On the other point you make, I don’t think it’s true that I merely asserted that ideological uniformity was responsible. I took myself to be making an inference to the best explanation. As I note in my post, most professional researchers know enough statistics to understand the fallacy, yet they commit it all the time or at least don’t criticize it when others commit it.

            I think the best explanation is that ideological uniformity makes it less likely they will see the problem and, if they see it, that they will point it out. You may think that it’s a weak inference, but I didn’t merely assert my conclusion.

  11. Jaskologist says:

    Many of you probably know that US life expectancy was flat from 2012-2014. The question was whether this was a statistical fluke, or the start of a new trend. Numbers are in for 2015. Life expectancy has declined.

    So now it’s a trend: 3 years of no progress (in contrast to the previous long-term steady progress), and then movement backwards.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Case & Deaton found there was only a decline for white woman. This seems to show a decline for white men, white women, and black men. Any idea why the difference?

      • Jaskologist says:

        I have no special insight; I’ve just been googling periodically to see when the numbers are in because I think this is a very significant change. NYT dissects the data a little more, and they seem to agree that it hit white men, white women, and black men. Deaths from cancer lessened, but a bunch of other things got worse.

    • Deiseach says:

      Stupid obvious comment: all the easy remedies have been used, now the US is hitting the hard cases where little to no progress can be made? Heart disease and cancer seem to be the two big killers here; they talk about the increase in obesity as being behind the heart disease increase so perhaps that’s it, or perhaps people are succumbing to the more intractable problems that drugs/surgery can’t (yet) tackle?

      • Nornagest says:

        That would explain no progress, but not negative progress. That plus obesity might drive a decrease, though.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Also suicide? I seem to recall earlier posts mentioning that’s up among white people.

          • Eltargrim says:

            The WP article seems to show that the suicide death rate increased from 13.0 to 13.3 deaths per 100 000 people between 2014 and 2015; this is a relatively low absolute change. Conversely, heart disease increased by 1.5 per 100 000, stroke by 1.1 per, and diabetes by 0.4 per.

            Life expectancy at age 65 was unchanged; it’s the expectancy at birth that’s decreasing. My money is on complications from obesity causing earlier and more severe health incidents. On the other hand, as suicide is a significant cause of early mortality, small effects could potentially be magnified.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          Could be a delayed effect of the recession. 3 years isn’t that long of a time.

    • LoopyBeliever says:

      An economist Andrew McAfee spoke at the recent future of AI conference (that Scott wrote about here).

      He mentions increase in mortality of white men over the couple last years. He ties it to technological unemployment (hollowing out middle income ranges) -> lower status for uneducated men -> increase in non-social behaviour (drug abuse, suicides) -> increase in support for anger motivated politics (Trump, Brexit). He makes some interesting points about potential solutions to this, in particular he critiques basic income guarantee.

      It is a very insightful short talk. I recommend.

  12. AnonEEmous says:

    here is an open question to the open thread

    Currently there’s a study arguing that Obamacare saves 45,000 lives a year

    However I seem to recall some random blind trials done in some state where those who received Obamacare, or maybe it was Medicare which was meant to amount to the same thing, showed no improvement in health outcomes

    what are the problems with these two studies? Which one is correct? And can anyone help me find the second study?

    • cassander says:

      You are thinking of the Oregon Medicaid Study.

    • The only 2 RCTs I know of the effect of health insurance coverage on various health outcomes are the Oregon study mentioned by cassander and a RAND study from the 1970. Both of them suggest that we should take these claims about the effects of Obamacare with a huge grain of salt.

    • Corey says:

      The Oregon Medicaid RCT was underpowered and said “getting Medicaid is somewhere between really good and kind of bad”; see here for analysis. The post links to another on the Romneycare diff-in-diff analysis, which links to other posts about the general question “does health insurance improve health?”

  13. Eltargrim says:

    In science news, scientists have opened a seal to the end of the world. We see the birth of an unholy abomination, wrought in an anvil of diamond.

    I speak, of course, of bonded helium. Turns out a combination of metallic sodium and helium will turn into a novel solid bonded phase at pressures above 113 GPa (more than one million atmospheres). This phase, Na2He, has interesting electronic properties, and computational work suggests that Na2HeO will be stable at the (relatively) low pressure of 15 GPa.

    The nobility have fallen; long live the reactive proletariat!

    • Wrong Species says:

      This is really interesting. Why is it that pressure makes such a difference?

      • Eltargrim says:

        If you look at a lot of the energy terms at the atomic scale, they often have a 1/(r^n) dependence. For a compound to be thermodynamically stable (like Na2He) it needs to have minimized its energy much more than any nearby configuration.

        At standard pressures (~1 atm) helium is happy as a hog to be by itself. It has a full shell of electrons, it’s neutral, and that means it’s very low energy. If helium starts to get close to another atom, it will usually be easier to minimize the energy of the system by the helium moving away, rather than sharing electrons or something similar.

        Pressure starts to take away some of the usual strategies for minimizing energy. Pressure, even macroscopic pressure, makes atoms move closer together. The smaller r term in the 1/(r^n) potentials means those energies can get much larger, and that can require unique strategies to cope. For example, metallic sodium is a conductor at standard pressures (electrons move freely), but at high pressures it’s an insulator (electrons are isolated). This is because the core electrons are practically touching at high pressures, whereas at standard pressure they’re well-separated.

        In the case of Na2He we get a funky fluorite structure. In fluorite, you have a 2+ cation (calcium) charge-balanced by 1- anions (fluorine). In Na2He you have almost a mirror: 2- anions are being charge-balanced by 1+ cations (sodium). In yet another bit of weirdness, though, the 2- anions aren’t helium: they’re isolated electron pairs. This kind of material is called an electride. You can see the concept schematic in Fig 2. The red diamonds are actually isolated electron pairs acting like a negatively charged ion.

        So in short, very high pressures make things behave weirdly compared to their standard pressure analogues. In nature, we see this with neutron stars, and stars in general (nuclear fusion). On Earth, we have to make do with lower pressures, so our weirdness is restricted to electrons.

  14. Alejandro says:

    John Holbo discusses Haidt and political correctness. Written in the typical Holboan somewhat-rambling style, but with lots of interesting points here and there. My own attempt at a summary of the main argument is that there is a tension, or even a contradiction, between Haidt’s praise of the more diverse moral foundations of traditional societies (as opposed to the lone “harm and fairness” foundations underpinning Western individualism) and his current criticisms of campus PC culture. Campus PC culture is precisely an incorporation of “sacredness” values into the western liberal moral portfolio: there are some things you should not say even if they cause minimal concrete harm, because they reveal you to be an intrinsically “bad” person. These are exactly the kind of moral attitudes that Haidt praises in traditional societies as a way of generating social cohesion.

    • cassander says:

      It’s worth mentioning that Haidt has more or less reputed his views on left wing purity since the publication of his book.

      • Randy M says:

        But that doesn’t mean he has repudiated a view that having sacredness is good, in which case is it indeed good if PC fulfills that role? (Taking for granted he did think it was superior to have more moral dimensions)

        It’s funny, though, in that I don’t the most purity-obsessed among us would argue for sacredness for it’s own sake; more that certain things are sacred, and sacred things should be recognized.

        Well, perhaps the more analytical rationalists might posit that if human society functions better with a sense of sacredness, but actual things or concepts aren’t, actually sacred, we should be some somewhat arbitrarily (but not capriciously). But it doesn’t really work for the average person to think that the sacredness is extrinsic, does it?

      • Aapje says:

        I would argue that not all sacredness is created equal. If genetic purity is sacred, you tend to get discrimination of people. If American Football is sacred, a lot of money gets spend on a sport.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        There was a link to an article about changing attitudes about sex and food in the Haidt article that didn’t work.

        Here it is.

        I think it’s correct but doesn’t do justice to the weirdness level about food, and oversimplies about sex, but it’s still a good start.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Does Haidt praise a diversity of moral foundations? Didn’t Holbo assert this in the previous post, Haidt responded by denying that, and Holbo returns here to repeat himself? What’s the point?

      Added: You merely claim that Haidt praises sacredness as promoting cohesion. Holbo seems to claim that Haidt wants diversity of foundations on campus. I don’t think Haidt is calling for social cohesion of campus at all, so there is no conflict. I think Haidt is calling for social cohesion of America and for the left to recognize the morals that it shares with the right, but refuses to talk about. If the left created a new sacredness that promoted cohesion on the left, that might be good for the left, but not for the whole.

      • toBoot says:

        I’m surprised to see Haidt characterized as pro-sacredness. I’ve read both The Righteous Mind, and The Happiness Hypothesis, as well as some of the articles on campus PC culture. It’s been a few years since I read those books, but I don’t recall coming away with the impression that he thought sacredness was inherently good. Just that a lot of people who claim to have harm-principle based values, in fact also engaged in sacredness judgment (e.g. when he discusses how people contort their reasoning to try to show how using an American flag as a cleaning rag is harm-causing behavior).

    • toBoot says:

      I’m surprised to see Haidt characterized as pro-sacredness. I’ve read both The Righteous Mind, and The Happiness Hypothesis, as well as some of the articles on campus PC culture. It’s been a few years since I read those books, but I don’t recall coming away with the impression that he thought sacredness was inherently good. Just that a lot of people who claim to have harm-principle based values, in fact also engaged in sacredness judgment (e.g. when he discusses how people contort their reasoning to try to show how using an American flag as a cleaning rag is harm-causing behavior).

  15. nostradamus says:

    Recently read this article that was very critical of people worried about “superintelligent” AI. Curious what people here think about it? http://idlewords.com/talks/superintelligence.htm

    Will post my own thoughts later if there is interest.

    • rlms says:

      It’s a mixed bag. The “argument from complex motivations” is basically the very weak argument from “but making paper clips sounds nasty, surely AI would talk about poetry and read Reddit instead?”. The “outside argument” is mostly “these people are weird (and have incentives to play up the dangers of AI)” which, while it is a view I am sympathetic with, isn’t actually a counterargument. But I think the “argument from brain surgery” (which I prefer to frame as “why hasn’t our existing (human) human-level intelligence bootstrapped to godhood yet?”) is strong, and the arguments that AI would require actual time to learn, and that intelligence isn’t necessarily powerful by itself are also worthy of consideration.

    • Corey says:

      I read it a while back, the “argument from my roommate” has merit I think. The “argument from Slavic pessimism” I think could go both ways – maybe it’s not AI itself we have no hope of getting right, but Friendliness.
      Another interesting possibility though I forget what it’s called in the article: maybe intelligence has a conceptual limit (anything smarter than X breaks itself) – not the sort of thing you’d want to count on to save us from uFAI, but it would be interesting to know.

      • Kevin C. says:

        “maybe it’s not AI itself we have no hope of getting right, but Friendliness.”

        Let me very much second this view. I am highly skeptical that “Friendliness” is even possible; my own intuition is that any non-human intelligence (whether AI, highly-modified post-humans, or extraterrestrials) will have irreconcilably conflicting interests with humanity, making conflict inevitable.

        “maybe intelligence has a conceptual limit”

        Actually, I have an argument along these lines. First, what is the use of intelligence? Primarily, modelling the world around the intelligent agent. But when it comes to modelling the world, for example, going from, say, the second to third digit of pi gives you more improvement in accurately modelling the world than going from the twenty-second to twenty-third digit. Similarly, part of modelling the world is modelling other intelligent agents. But as game theory has shown, chains of “I know that you know that I know…” tend to quickly converge on game-theoretic equilibria, and adding further levels of recursion to the model fail to much improve on things. Thus, it seems clear to me that at some level, intelligence, like so many other things, is subject to diminishing marginal returns.

        But, in addition to the material and energy costs of intelligence, there’s also the “mind virus”/”memetic hazard” element. By analogy, as computers have gotten bigger and more powerful, have they become more or less vulnerable to viruses and other propagating malware? Does it take proportionally less or more resources to guard against such? Recall that much repeated quote about “some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them”. If the marginal cost of vulnerability to “memetic hazard”, and the resources needed to combat them, does not decrease with increasing intelligence, and especially if it increases, then combined with the diminishing marginal returns, there clearly exists a marginal returns=marginal cost optimum intelligence, with any smarter mind being “too smart for its own good”, and less adaptive on average than the optimum intelligence. Note that in this model, anything that improves the scale of communication between minds increases the risk associated with “memetic hazard”, and will thus push the optimum intelligence downward.

        • Corey says:

          Corollary: easy communication / social media makes society dumber. Seems to fit the data 🙂

        • Let me very much second this view. I am highly skeptical that “Friendliness” is even possible; my own intuition is that any non-human intelligence (whether AI, highly-modified post-humans, or extraterrestrials) will have irreconcilably conflicting interests with humanity, making conflict inevitable

          Even basically passive systems that just answer questions or whatever?

  16. rlms says:

    Based on the discussion of Wicked last OT:
    What is SSC’s third-favourite musical?

  17. FacelessCraven says:

    Why is it wrong to “out” illegal immigrants by reporting them to the appropriate government entities?

    During the various discussions about the Berkeley protests, Zombielicious and others used Milo’s planned presentation on how to report illegal immigrants to the authorities as proof that he was a bad person who should be strongly opposed.

    Pro-argument I can see: I’m under the impression that Milo was specifically reporting people he didn’t like for reasons other than their illegal immigrant status; SJ activists, for instance. This trips the “argument gets counter-argument, not bullet” alarm.

    Anti-argument: they are illegal immigrants. They are breaking the law to be here. Exercise of free speech does not give you a right to break the law, or a pass on the consequences of breaking the law. Claiming that reporting illegal aliens is unethical is an attempt to make an end-run around laws that have considerable popular support. Nor does this seem to be a case of “lawfare” or harassment via the legal system; the illegals in question are not having their lives combed through for minor violations to be gouged with; they have broken the law, and in the few cases I’m familiar with are openly bragging about having done so.

    • psmith says:

      Edited for cuntiness.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        It would be cool if we could minimize right-wing-snark in this thread. I can generate an arbitrary amount of that myself, but am much more interested in principled arguments on the issue. At least a few people in the previous threads were willing to grudgingly tolerate violence over this sort of “outing”, and I’d like to hear why. I also disagree with the “counter-argument not bullet” argument, but am not supremely confident about my position.

      • Wrong Species says:

        The weird thing is that isn’t necessarily true. People do generally acknowledge that it’s acceptable to have borders. They just act like it’s wrong to enforce the rules once illegal immigrants are inside the country. It reminds of the Wet feet, dry feet policy towards Cuba.

    • Corey says:

      It’s not nice, for starters. But the main difficulty I see: how’s a civilian gonna determine a random person’s immigration status?

      Unless they’re your employee that you’re paying under the table (in which case reporting them would be extra dickish), what’s the strategy? Call ICE about every “Mexican”-looking person you see who speaks Spanish in public? Seems like a lot of hassle for the false positives.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        Growing up I knew a lot of people who were very open about being illegal immigrants.

        They probably wouldn’t volunteer that information to a cop or an employer, but it’s something that’s going to come up in conversation eventually. It’s an open secret, if it’s a secret at all.

        (As a sidenote, every time I hear “ICE” I feel like a Decker. Why does the name of the agency have to change every few years?)

      • suntzuanime says:

        Note the

        and in the few cases I’m familiar with are openly bragging about having done so

        . Like, there was that guy who was writing in the NYT(?) about his experiences as an undocumented immigrant, under his own name. Does not take a genius to figure that one out.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Corey – “It’s not nice, for starters.”

        Why not, specifically? And how not-nice is it? How angry should we be at this sort of behavior?

        “But the main difficulty I see: how’s a civilian gonna determine a random person’s immigration status?”

        For purposes of discussion, I am assuming that they have themselves openly admitted to being an illegal immigrant, or otherwise their status is not really in question; the criticism of Milo is that he’s outing actual illegals, not that he’s filing false reports.

        [EDIT] – Let’s assume they didn’t publicly declare that they were an illegal immigrant, but someone found out anyway, which strengthens the flavor of Doxxing. Still, the people we’re talking about are actual illegals, so false positives aren’t an issue.

        • Corey says:

          And how not-nice is it? How angry should we be at this sort of behavior?

          Depends on your opinion of the severity of the crime. At two ends of the criminal spectrum, (probably almost) everyone agrees that keeping quiet about murderers is wrong, and hanging out on streets with a radar gun reporting speeders to the police would be pointlessly mean. Or maybe consider tax evasion, another crime that’s common and people are often proud of, for a case a little further from the edges.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            I often wish it were legal/effective to anonymously submit dashcam videos of drivers being asshats. A horn just does not do enough to get people to update their dangerous behavior.

            Reporting tax evasion also falls into my bucket of “obviously a Good for society”, if probably-implausible for Joe Neighbor to provide evidence for.

          • caethan says:

            Are you kidding me? I would bake cookies gratis for someone who wanted to volunteer to run a speed trap around my house. I’ve got a two-year-old. Speeding is not a victimless crime.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            hanging out on streets with a radar gun reporting speeders to the police would be pointlessly mean.

            We’ve got those already in the UK. It doesn’t seem to cause much controversy.

        • Jiro says:

          Whether you should be angry should be affected by your attitude towards illegal immigration. But I get the feeling that the people who are actually angry are trying to have it both ways: they are angry in a way which implies that they like illegal immigration, but few of them are actually willing to say that they support illegal immigration to the degree necessary for their anger to make sense.

      • gbdub says:

        Last time I looked at numbers, something like 1/3 of Hispanic people in Arizona are undocumented. So “randomly pointing at Mexican looking people” would actually give you a pretty high hit rate.

        Add in a few simple behavioral observations (“is standing at Home Depot soliciting day labor”, “pays for everything with cash”, “lives in neighborhood X”) and you could quite easily hit percentages that exceed the probable cause most warrants are based on.

        Not saying we ought to do that, but it really wouldn’t be that hard.

    • Alejandro says:

      Here is an attempt to steelman the underlying position. One can think that declaring open borders would lead to hundreds of millions immigrating to the US in a very short time, with very bad consequences for a country unable to deal with the suden influx, so it is propoer to have laws restricting immigration. At the same time, one can believe that the marginal immigrant at the current relatively small rates has neutral or positive consequences for the country. (Note this is unlike most laws prohibiting something: the marginal murder or fraud is not neutral/positive.) Then one can think that the State should not go through the effort of enforcing the law to deport current illegal immigrants, even if they are violating the law. Clearly being in the US is massively positive for the immigrant himself (as well as for relatives and close network, some of which are perhaps citizens), and deporting the immigrant causes a great concentrated harm on someone already in a vulnerable position, while costing the State money and time, and not having tangible benefits for the country other than an abstract “rule of law”. If deporting is unjust, then a fortiori outing people in order to get them deported is also unjust.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Alejandro – “If deporting is unjust, then a fortiori outing people in order to get them deported is also unjust.”

        Clearly. But a large plurality of the US does not accept this logic; they are pissed that the immigration laws have been flaunted for decades and want them to be strictly enforced.

        I can understand the position you lay out, but that’s a different thing from agreeing with it. The attacks on Milo mostly seem to be claiming that what he’s doing is fundamentally indecent, ie that he’s violating universal rules of society in a way analogous to, say, screaming racial slurs at black people or waving “God Hates Fags” signs at a marine’s funeral. If one *doesn’t* agree with the claim that the illegal immigrants we already have should be allowed to stay, why is reporting one a bad thing?

        • The Nybbler says:

          The attacks on Milo are mostly just tribal; as far as I know, no one knows what Milo was actually going to do. He denies that he was going to publicly name “undocumented immigrants”.

      • Kevin C. says:

        @Alejandro

        “At the same time, one can believe that the marginal immigrant at the current relatively small rates has neutral or positive consequences for the country.”

        This reminds me of those bits about Justus Möser I linked in a previous thread, and how Muller uses him as an example of how “conservative” thinking differs in terms of systemic incentives vs. individual compassion. The example was Möser’s essays arguing against the then-current legal change forbidding guilds their traditional practice of excluding bastards from membership. He admits that it’s not a bastard’s fault they’re a bastard, and that humanitarian compassion is clearly on the side of letting them in. But, as he notes, consider what this does in the aggregate to the incentives. Anything that reduces the stigma associated with out-of-wedlock births and single parenthood reduces the degree society disincentivises extramarital sex, and if sex is significantly available outside marriage, then the single life becomes clearly preferable to the institution of lifelong marriage, and society has good reasons to incentivize marriage over singlehood. (Möser also notes that reduced stigma on out-of-wedlock birth will increase extramarital sex and (accidental) single motherhood, and that some fraction of those unintended pregnancies will not be affordable by their mothers, and will be “solved” by infanticide, leading not only to an increase in dead infants, but an increase in dead women when those committing infanticide are caught and executed (by drowning) for their crime. He also argues that the new statutes have taken property from the guilds, namely the “honor” of a guild which is a collective possession of it’s members, and which is reduced by being forced to admit bastards.)

        Apply this in parallel here. Each marginal immigrant might, taken alone, have a case for being let stay. But then take the Kantian approach, and consider the resulting incentives in the aggregate, and how this weakens the ability to have in practice “laws restricting immigration”, which you admit are proper.

      • Cypren says:

        (Note this is unlike most laws prohibiting something: the marginal murder or fraud is not neutral/positive.)

        I’m not certain I agree with this proposition. For example, I think there are an awful lot of people who would agree that the murder of Hitler in 1930 would have been significantly more than a “marginal” good for Germany and the world. There are probably an awful lot of people who believe that the murder of Donald Trump in 2015 (or right now) would have been the same, or a fraud that deprived him of his fortune and therefore his ability to use it to buy access.

        It seems to me that other than true pacifists (of whom there are very few; I suspect the vast majority of people have at least one person they would prefer to see dead, whether they’ll publicly admit to it or not), what most people object to is not necessarily murder as such, but murder of someone they personally believe is undeserving. The general prohibition on murder is a detente reached because none of us trust strangers to decide who is and who is not deserving, and therefore we surrender that privilege ourselves to reach a social equilibrium.

        Opposition to illegal immigration is similarly about preserving a social equilibrium. Much like we don’t trust people to decide who to murder, we also can’t trust people to make objective decisions about who should and should not be allowed to break immigration law and how much value they bring to society. I’m not suggesting that the average illegal immigrant is the same level of net negative to society as the average murder. But the principle to me seems the same; it’s less important what the marginal benefit or harm of the act is and more about the marginal damage it’s doing to the concept of the rule of law. Once we eliminate neutral law and leave everything up to individual discretion, it’s hard to stop the floodgate from opening and getting an ever-escalating quantity of the behavior we’re trying to prohibit.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          To be fair, “marginal” generally implies any random instance, while you’re talking more about (perceived) Greater Good-style specific exceptions. I do agree with your conclusion that individuals should not be allowed to determine what exceptions are justified, though.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I find the pro argument you give compelling; there’s a difference between being a law-n-order fanatic who would report any illegal immigrant who they found out about, and someone who co-opts the government into acting as their enforcer by selectively reporting crimes that mostly go overlooked.

      As someone who is rather anti-authority I don’t like the idea of reporting anyone for any sort of victimless crime (and despite its bad effects on the whole, I don’t believe any individual act of illegal immigration can be said to have a victim), but I wouldn’t expect that argument to hold weight to a traditional conservative or other law-n-order type.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        Eich is the canonical case, so let’s go with him.

        Eich engages in legal free speech. His opponents organize a legal social campaign against him to get him fired. A lot of people around here feel that this is a “bullet”,

        The “outed” illegal has broken immigration law, and engaged in free speech. Milo legally reports them to ICE. A lot of people here think this is a bullet.

        How do you rank it compared to Eich? More egregious, less egregious, roughly equally awful?

        I have never really given much of a damn about the immigration issue generally; the two things that get me angry about it are claims that Hispanic immigration is going to give Dems a permanent majority, and claims that we don’t have the right to enforce our own laws. This issue tweaks both: I accept that I have to put up with Blue Tribers; we’re all citizens here, they have as much claim to the country as I do, the best we can do is try and figure out a way to live together in peace. All of that goes out the window for someone who isn’t a citizen, has no right to be here at all, and is nonetheless acting like they own the place. In that case, Charity pretty quickly goes to zero.

        A lot of times when Immigration comes up here, people float the idea about allowing open borders but denying immigrants access to welfare, voting, etc. I feel like this is a perfect example of why that would never, ever work.

        • AnonEEmous says:

          Well, the obvious difference is that there isn’t going to be a social campaign designed to shame emigrants until their companies fire them. Instead, there’s a law, being enforced.

          A lot of people seem to think that the point is to have conservative pressure mobs attack illegal immigrants, and that is pretty stupid. But it also seems to be a thought with very little backing, most of it due to some random professor claiming to have “reliable sources” which conveniently ended the debate in his favor.

        • Matt M says:

          I don’t like the comparison to Eich. This reminds me of the discussion we had in the last OT about left-wing vs right-wing efforts to silence speech.

          In one case, you have people attempting to enforce (or aid in the enforcement of) laws that, whether you agree with them or not, no one disputes were legitimately passed in full accordance with the rules and procedures of our glorious democratic process.

          On the other side, you have vigilante mob-style justice wherein people attempt to enforce things that are not laws, but they really think should be.

          This is not a fair comparison.

          However, I will suggest the fact that we end up with issues wherein the law is markedly different from the prevailing norm should be viewed as something of a cognitive dissonance between the state and the culture. I would suggest that vast majorities of people do, in fact, believe both “the average marijuana user shouldn’t be hassled” as well as “the average illegal immigrant shouldn’t be deported” even if they support legislation making both of those things illegal.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Matt M – “On the other side, you have vigilante mob-style justice wherein people attempt to enforce things that are not laws, but they really think should be.”

            The question isn’t whether the riots are justified. The question is if Milo is roughly analogous to, say, Amanda Marcotte or Andrew Cord, and thus someone we on the right should be disavowing to avoid being hypocrites.

        • random832 says:

          Eich engages in legal free speech. His opponents organize a legal social campaign against him to get him fired. A lot of people around here feel that this is a “bullet”

          To my understanding, he was a CEO and made more than ten times as much money as me. I’ve seen no argument that he will be unable to find work making the same amount of money as me, and will accept no argument that making only as much money as me is a “bullet”. (Well, I’m hesitant to really commit to “will accept no argument”, but it’d have to be a heck of an impressive one.)

          • Jiro says:

            “It’s a sufficiently low amount of money that the threat will intimidate people in such positions” is enough to make it a “bullet”. By your reasoning, robbing a millionaire of a half million dollars is just words.

          • random832 says:

            We’re not talking about robbery, we’re talking about (the threat to) legally not giving money to a nonprofit based on their decision to have someone as their CEO. Calling it a “bullet” (or, talking about “mess with his livelihood” etc) makes the implicit argument that he is thereby unable to support himself or his family, which is a position I find fundamentally dishonest.

            Also, while googling for past discussions about this I participated in, I ran across a statement that he was offered a CTO position at the same pay he had as CEO. We can argue counterfactuals all day about whether the boycott would have actually stopped if he’d taken it, but then we’d be talking about what he was threatened with in the counterfactual instead of in reality.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Would you consider it a bullet, or at least a credible threat, if Eich were gay and it were an anti-gay mob loudly and publicly calling for “legally not giving money to a nonprofit based on their decision to have someone as their CEO”?

          • and will accept no argument that making only as much money as me is a “bullet”.

            I think the underlying distinction is orthogonal to the one you imply.

            The difference between argument and bullet is not the size of the effect. An argument attempts to defeat an idea by persuading people, the one who proposes it or the ones he is speaking to, that it is mistaken. A bullet tries to prevent an argument from being made by making it costly for someone to make it.

            Those are two quite different approaches to changing people’s ideas. In particular, the first works better if your position is true and the position you are attacking is false. The second depends not on that but on how much political or social power you have.

          • random832 says:

            @Gobbobobble

            Would you consider it a bullet, or at least a credible threat, if Eich were gay and it were an anti-gay mob loudly and publicly calling for “legally not giving money to a nonprofit based on their decision to have someone as their CEO”?

            Being gay is not in the same category as having political views or taking political action. Not a nonprofit either, but probably the closest equivalent is the call to boycott Apple for not supporting the Republican Convention.

            @DavidFriedman

            A bullet tries to prevent an argument from being made by making it costly for someone to make it.

            Is there no room for a distinction based on people’s right to decide what their own money is spent to support? They’re taking away their own money, not anyone else’s.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            To my understanding, he was a CEO and made more than ten times as much money as me. I’ve seen no argument that he will be unable to find work making the same amount of money as me, and will accept no argument that making only as much money as me is a “bullet”.

            What are the odds that this salary cap, beyond which one apparently loses one’s permission to hold controversial political opinions (or at least opinions which would become controversial several years later), would happen to be just high enough that it doesn’t affect you personally? That was sure lucky, huh.

          • Randy M says:

            I think that’s definitional. “Punching up” and all that.

          • Cypren says:

            Is there no room for a distinction based on people’s right to decide what their own money is spent to support? They’re taking away their own money, not anyone else’s.

            This strikes me as mostly an argument about social norms. The Right has historically believed in the idea that politics and professionalism are two separate spheres, and punishing companies for the beliefs or political views of their employees or officers which do not affect their work is out of bounds. As David says, it’s an attempt to shut down speech by imposing costs on the speaker. In contrast, the dominant attitude on the Left since at least the 1970s has been “the personal is political” (despite the original use of the slogan having nothing to do with attacking people’s personal lives).

            This is essentially an argument about whether politics is boxing by Queensbury rules or total war. The Right’s historical view (which has been changing rapidly in the last decade; see Trump, Donald) has been that politics is a gentleman’s sport with rules where we all shake hands at the end of the day. The Left up until the 1960s largely treated it the same way, but since the Civil Rights era has more or less treated it as total war: you use any and all means at your disposal to undermine, destroy and pressure your opponents because winning is all that matters.

            In large part, this is the difference of a group that believes it can work within the system to achieve its ends versus one that believes the system must be destroyed. Trump’s rise was essentially the Right coming around to the same conclusion that the Left did half a century ago and saying, “fuck it, the gloves come off.”

          • Incurian says:

            For the sake of clarity, it might be best to consider 4 categories of response rather than 2: arguments, bullets, direct action, and pressure. Direct action might be firing someone strictly because of their politics (it’s not violent, but it’s clearly a dick move). Pressure might be boycotting a brand because of their politics (which is not the best way to change minds, but it’s within your rights to not support people/causes you find offensive). Bullets are literal violence.

            As random832 said, I think there are important distinctions between them.

          • random832 says:

            Trump’s rise was essentially the Right coming around to the same conclusion that the Left did half a century ago and saying, “fuck it, the gloves come off.”

            Even granting that it was the Left first, even granting that it was relatively recent for the Right (two things I definitely do not actually concede), you don’t think there’s anything the Right has done before Trump that qualifies as this? I mean, just to pick a recent one, let’s not forget just why Trump has a Supreme Court vacancy to fill in the first place.

          • Cypren says:

            @random832: We’ve largely been in an escalating war of tit-for-tat for the last 50 years. Yes, I think the Left “started it” as much as anyone can really be said to start anything, but I think the Right kept the boxing gloves on a lot longer.

            I don’t think you can really bring up judicial confirmations without acknowledging the elephant in the room: the “advice and consent” role was restricted to qualifications and temperament, not political views, until Robert Bork in 1987. We’ve been on a downhill spiral ever since, of which the unfortunate tabling of Merrick Garland was simply the latest incident. Both sides agree that we need to stop defecting and start cooperating, but neither one is willing to do so until they’ve gotten revenge for the last defect. So it continues.

            Honestly, at this point, I’m sort of curious to see which side will be the first to start assassinating the other side’s Justices while they control the confirmation process, because I don’t doubt it’s coming. We’ve piled too much power into the hands of nine individuals in robes for it to not devolve into violence at this point.

          • @DavidFriedman

            A bullet tries to prevent an argument from being made by making it costly for someone to make it.

            Is there no room for a distinction based on people’s right to decide what their own money is spent to support? They’re taking away their own money, not anyone else’s.

            That is an important distinction, but not the distinction between an argument and a bullet in this context.

            I think you have a right to try to make someone worse off to punish him for making arguments you disapprove of, as long as you are making him worse off in a way you have a right to do, such as not buying what he is selling or not selling what he wants to buy from you. Or, for that matter, telling him that you think worse of him for making those arguments, supposing that he is likely to care.

            But I also think that discouraging arguments in that way is an entirely different approach, and a much less attractive one, than discouraging them by offering better arguments against them. For one thing, it doesn’t require you to have better arguments, so works as well when you are wrong as when you are right.

          • Aapje says:

            @Friedman

            They were not just boycotting though, they were putting big pressure on the figurative shop to remove the product from the shelves (boycotting would be if they stopped using the browser themselves and started a campaign to convince others to do so same).

            By doing this, they removed the option for a ‘market vote.’

            SJWs tend to be a minority who seek positions of power and/or seek influence with those in power, so they avoid needing majority support for their actions and as a minority, can force the majority to do what they want.

          • random832 says:

            They were not just boycotting though, they were putting big pressure on the figurative shop to remove the product from the shelves (boycotting would be if they stopped using the browser themselves and started a campaign to convince others to do so same).

            Either there is some detail that I have forgotten, or your analogy has fallen apart. Can you explain what specific event this refers to, and what was in fact done that cannot be fairly described as “campaign to convince others to do the same”?

            And what entity, exactly, is the “figurative shop”?

          • Aapje says:

            Eich was kicked out not because of a successful boycott by people who started using an alternative browser (enough people to result in a measurable impact on the browser usage figures), but by putting pressure on Mozilla to fire him (Mozilla being the ‘shop’).

            There was never a demonstration that a large number of people supported the activists, they put pressure on a few people.

          • random832 says:

            Eich was kicked out not because of a successful boycott by people who started using an alternative browser (enough people to result in a measurable impact on the browser usage figures), but by putting pressure on Mozilla to fire him (Mozilla being the ‘shop’).

            You are playing some kind of shell game here. Mozilla is the supplier of the product, there is no additional entity positioned to be the “shop” (as there would be if, say, someone had tried to have Google and Apple pull the mobile versions of Firefox from their app stores). There was no mechanism, other than the boycott, for pressure to be applied. Mozilla was entirely free to choose whether to wait and see if the boycott was actually “successful” on the numbers, or to shy away from controversy and avoid the risk that if they bet wrong the numbers wouldn’t come back.

      • Civilis says:

        As someone that can emulate a traditional conservative / law-and-order type, one of the things we tend to believe is that the punishment should fit the crime. The problem with illegal immigration is that the minimum viable punishment for the crime (deportation) is grossly disproportionate to the damage done by an individual act of illegal immigration. This is why much of the rhetoric from the right tends to concentrate on those illegal immigrants that have committed other crimes besides just illegal immigration; they’re easy cases to justify the punishments involved. If they’re already headed to prison, deporting them doesn’t seem disproportionate.

        An otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrant has broken the law by trespassing here to come for a better life; in general, this is a ‘stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family’ type offense. We on the right have compassion, but if you make that sort of thing legal, suddenly everyone is starving enough to justify theft and nobody is making bread. Imprisonment is out as a punishment for illegal immigration, as you’ve just hampered their ability to benefit society as a whole and are now housing them at cost. If you fine them, however, you’ve just set a “if you’re rich enough to pay the fine, you can cut the immigration line” rule for immigration which harms the neediest would-be immigrants. The only punishment which has the potential to deter the crime without burdening society is deportation, with all the pain and heartache that entails.

        It’s another case for which there are no perfect or even good solutions; we just need to find a least bad one.

        • multiheaded says:

          Ahhhh. Self-consciously arbitrary and chaotic enforcement of a law on a population that has no say in it. That’s my favorite part of Law & Order!

          If you fine them, however, you’ve just set a “if you’re rich enough to pay the fine, you can cut the immigration line” rule for immigration which harms the neediest would-be immigrants.

          If you’re on the Right, maybe you should acquaint yourself with any standard free-market defense of price discrimination. Unless you think that e.g. Uber surge pricing is also monstrously unfair to poor people, comrade.

          (FYI, the current Kafkaeqsue system of refugee “vetting” is, if anything, way more arduous to its subjects than scrounging up/borrowing a fixed sum. especially if that investment can completely turn their life around. I’m for open borders altogether, but immigration fees are by far the less brutal and harmful control mechanism.)

          • Civilis says:

            If you’re on the Right, maybe you should acquaint yourself with any standard free-market defense of price discrimination. Unless you think that e.g. Uber surge pricing is also monstrously unfair to poor people, comrade.

            The right’s not a monolithic block, and some of us see the market differently. Because I like analogies, think of choosing who gets to immigrate as a business hiring a new employee (a free market process). We don’t just hire the person that asks for the lowest salary, we do a quick check to see if there’s any black marks on their history. Once we hire them, they are often on probationary status without the full rights of an employee until we’ve proven they can do what they said they could do. We also might choose to hire people for reasons other than direct revenue; think of a Wal-Mart greeter hired to generate goodwill rather than revenue.

            Ahhhh. Self-consciously arbitrary and chaotic enforcement of a law on a population that has no say in it. That’s my favorite part of Law & Order!

            I’m not saying we shouldn’t be orderly in how we handle immigration, just that it’s a hard problem.

            People aren’t perfectly rational machines. It’s perfectly ok to be both free market and capable of compassion, or both desiring of law & order and merciful. Recognizing that there is tension and any solution is imperfect is important. It keeps you from going crazy when imperfect people can’t implement your perfect plan in the real world.

            Personally, I would think that ‘we have X number of open immigrant slots, and they go to the high bidders’ would work just as well if not better than the current ad-hoc system, but it’s not a perfect solution. Taking only the highest bidders in the immigration lottery is like a business maximizing short term revenue at the expense of long term profitability. It may be better to have someone that is worth less immediately but pays off over a long term than someone that can fork over the cash now but loses you money in the long term. (Right now, we have a line of applicants outside the door, but are effectively handing a paycheck to anyone that makes it to the employee lounge, even if they’re not actually working.)

            I’d also prefer to minimize the amount of vetting we need to do, but I recognize there are times when you need it, like, say, speaking perfectly hypothetically, when a nearby country decides to save money on prisons by sending all their violent criminals to you as immigrants.

          • If you’re on the Right, maybe you should acquaint yourself with any standard free-market defense of price discrimination. Unless you think that e.g. Uber surge pricing is also monstrously unfair to poor people, comrade.

            That’s not what economists usually refer to as price discrimination. Price discrimination is selling the same good to different people at different prices based on their willingness to pay. It can either increase or decrease economic efficiency depending on the details of the situation.

            Surge pricing is selling goods at different prices at different times due to shifts in the demand (or supply) curve with time. It increases economic efficiency.

            Price discrimination requires the seller to have some degree of monopoly power. Surge pricing would happen in a perfectly competitive market–the way grain prices vary with the harvest.

    • suntzuanime says:

      I think that only a certain subset of crimes are crimes that we want people to go around reporting. You don’t report people for smoking weed or internet piracy, but you do report them for theft and rape. If you report someone for smoking weed you’re a gigantic asshole, and similarly for illegal immigration.

      • Matt M says:

        This.

        The people who get upset (at either example) are, almost exclusively, people who think it shouldn’t be a crime at all.. I also think both cases are interesting in that even a lot of the people who do think it should be illegal are mainly concerned about abuse, or worst case scenarios, and that having a law on the books is necessary to prevent the worst case scenario. Some people support making marijuana illegal only because they’re worried about stoned drivers or what have you, and making life more difficult for the hippie that smokes in his home and harms no one is just collateral damage. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you report the hippie.

        A lot of people don’t want open borders because they don’t want hordes of criminals and terrorists flocking over here with no screening mechanism. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they report the dishwasher at their local restaurant who doesn’t seem to be harming anybody.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          Is someone a huge asshole for pushing for strict enforcement of immigration laws? Many of Trump’s supporters want all of the illegal immigrants in the country to be deported. Is that an asshole position to take?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Again, consider the analogy with marijuana legislation. There’s a huge difference between someone who supports banning marijuana and someone who goes around looking for people smoking weed and reporting them to the cops.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @suntzuanime – Weed is an issue that there’s no real fight left on; all that stands in the way of full legalization is inertia. Immigration, on the other hand, is still a live issue. If people are assholes for reporting illegals, surely they’re already assholes for wanting the immigration laws enforced in the first place, and we’re back to the problem of half the country being “deplorable”. At that point, you might as well call people assholes for wanting to own guns or being pro-abortion or for any other mainstream political position.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I feel like you have declined to engage with my point in favor of posting your political opinions.

            Perhaps it would be helpful to consider a less controversial law, like the law against cocaine. Cocaine legalization does not have much momentum, and an opposition to cocaine legalization is clearly not beyond the pale. But even so, if you go around looking for people snorting coke so you can report them to the cops, people are going to consider you a giant asshole.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @suntzuanime – That is certainly not my intention. Near as I can tell, your point is that it’s just a cultural norm that people who report illegals are assholes. The Milo situation is the first incident of this type that has come to my attention, and I’m uncertain of whether condemnation is actually a cultural norm or not. A great deal of the culture war currently seems to consist of claiming and then enforcing cultural norms, and one of the best available counters to this tactic is to point out that the behavior in question is still well inside the Overton window and thus legitimate, while the attack is an attempt to arbitrarily shift that window and therefore not.

            “There’s a huge difference between someone who supports banning marijuana and someone who goes around looking for people smoking weed and reporting them to the cops.”

            This is true. On the other hand, if Tommy Chong drives his Blazemobile into Little Rock, Arkansas covered in Chronic4Lyfe bumper stickers and starts haranguing the locals on what squares they all are, I’m not going to be upset when someone drops a dime on him and the local PD busts him for possession.

          • Civilis says:

            suntzuanime: I think that only a certain subset of crimes are crimes that we want people to go around reporting. You don’t report people for smoking weed or internet piracy, but you do report them for theft and rape. If you report someone for smoking weed you’re a gigantic asshole, and similarly for illegal immigration.

            I think there’s a middle ground.

            If the person smoking weed is outside your window at 3AM with his buddies making noise and throwing his butts on your lawn, most people think you’re justified in reporting him. It’s kinda like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. We’re not justified in searching out illegal immigrants for being illegal immigrants, but there is some level of circumspection required and you make it obvious that you’re flaunting the law, eventually someone’s justified in reporting you.

            On the same comparison, parading around to demand subsidized college education because you’re here illegally is like smoking weed on the front steps of the police station.

          • random832 says:

            If the person smoking weed is outside your window at 3AM with his buddies making noise and throwing his butts on your lawn, most people think you’re justified in reporting him.

            Yes, but that’s because he’s done some harm to you (maybe not enough to justify what’s going to happen to him, but what else can you do). Reporting someone as a reprisal for their political speech is fundamentally different. Argument gets counter-argument, not bullet.

            By saying “there is some level of circumspection required” you are saying that they should be punished for attracting attention, rather than for doing something which harms someone.

          • Civilis says:

            By saying “there is some level of circumspection required” you are saying that they should be punished for attracting attention, rather than for doing something which harms someone.

            I do see your point. I certainly don’t want someone calling the police every time I exceed the speed limit. Still, if I get pulled over going one mile over the limit and given a ticket, I can’t blame the cop, even if he is an asshole. I knowingly took a risk. If you’re here illegally, that’s a risk. Given that we have people advertising their status as illegals in the paper, it’s as minimal a risk as my driving the speed of the surrounding traffic. If you’re here illegally, minimizing the number of people that think you’re an asshole and hence willing to report you is sensible risk management.

            Unfortunately, I think that unless you’re going to somehow convince most of the country that restrictions on immigration are immoral, it’s a distinction without a difference. Either violating social norms is wrong, or it’s not. Ultimately, ‘don’t snitch’ (or ‘don’t stick your nose into other people’s business) is an unwritten social norm. If we’re going to punish people for being an asshole for snitching via social shaming, we’re well within our rights to punish people we see as assholes for attracting attention for violating social norms that we’ve codified as laws, even if what they attracted our attention for isn’t the codified social norm they are violating. ‘Don’t snitch’ as a social norm is also relatively low on the totem pole, it frequently gets overridden by other, more important norms, like ‘don’t abuse kids’.

            Ultimately, we have to leave it to people to say ‘is this crime worth reporting’ and trust them to make that decision reasonably, knowing that some may make that decision differently than we would in similar circumstances.

            (I see the logic behind the sanctuary city laws, but the concept in execution has gone from the practical ‘it’s worth protecting legal immigrants when it benefits us by stopping worse crimes’ to an ideal ‘we’re going to shield illegal immigrants from deportation at any cost’.)

          • Randy M says:

            It’s not hard to agree that we shouldn’t report people for infractions of laws like speeding or possession of marijuana. But I find that that leads me to want to get rid of the laws; if the offense isn’t serious enough to report, why is it serious enough to enforce?

            At the same time, I don’t want people to go around looking for ways to get their neighbors in trouble with the law; it reminds me of totalitarian police states. But maybe that is only truly objectionable when the law in question exists to support those in power, rather than preserve the public good.

            Maybe we need to import the legal concept of standing into the discussion? But then that would imply you shouldn’t report a murder if you have no relation to the victim, so no, I don’t think that settles it.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @suntzuanime – “Perhaps it would be helpful to consider a less controversial law, like the law against cocaine.”

            Was this an edit? I missed it when responding last night. I think it’s a pretty good comparison.

            Milo seems like a pretty raucous guy. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s partaken of the Peruvian Marching Powder. I don’t really care one way or the other if he does or not. He’s also not a US citizen. On the other hand, if his political enemies lured him to a coke party with the promise of free coke, recorded him doing fat rails, submitted the evidence to the police and got him booted from the country, I would not think they had acted indecently. It would be his own damn fault for letting himself be undone by his vices. I would not consider this a “bullet”.

            Sterling got a whole lot less defense than Eich did, and most of it centered around whether the punishment meted out to him was an overreaction. But he did actually make racist statements, and we as a culture actually do see explicit racism as worthy of censure. What happened to Sterling seems a whole lot less like a “bullet” than what happened to Eich, and maybe not a bullet at all.

          • random832 says:

            Sterling got a whole lot less defense than Eich did, and most of it centered around whether the punishment meted out to him was an overreaction. But he did actually make racist statements, and we as a culture actually do see explicit racism as worthy of censure. What happened to Sterling seems a whole lot less like a “bullet” than what happened to Eich, and maybe not a bullet at all.

            Is the distinction on what happened to them, or on whether we agree that racism and anti-gay are the same thing, or on whether we consider a campaign donation to be an act of public speech?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @random832 – “Is the distinction on what happened to them, or on whether we agree that racism and anti-gay are the same thing, or on whether we consider a campaign donation to be an act of public speech?”

            I think the distinction is over how objectionable/fringe their actions were. If Eich had participated in a WBC protest, I doubt anyone would have been surprised by the condemnation. What he actually did was make a political donation to a campaign opposing gay marriage; opposition to gay marriage being, at the time, the stated position of Obama.

            Social shaming is a useful, probably even vital tactic, but it only works if it is used to enforce an overwhelming consensus. You cannot declare that half or even a quarter of the country is deplorable. If you try, social shaming as a tactic stops working completely. Eich’s attackers were de facto declaring that a large plurality of the country should be barred from any high-status position. They got their way with Eich and their other early successes due mainly to inertia, at the cost of a massive right-wing backlash that is still gaining steam.

          • random832 says:

            Eich’s attackers were de facto declaring that a large plurality of the country should be barred from any high-status position.

            I don’t think they were. I think they just didn’t want their own money to be used to pay him.

          • skef says:

            Still, if I get pulled over going one mile over the limit and given a ticket, I can’t blame the cop, even if he is an asshole

            Ha!

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @random832 – Positions have implications.

            If Eich had been replaced by someone else who’d donated a thousand dollars to prop 8, would that have been acceptable? Obviously not. So it’s not just him, it’s anyone who does what he did.

            Was it something about Mozilla itself that made his action especially egregious? No, Mozilla has nothing to do with politics generally or gay rights specifically. It’s functionally indistinguishable from numerous other non-profits. If it’s justifiable to kick him out of Mozilla, it’s justifiable to kick him out of any of those other positions too.

            Is there something about non-profits that makes them very different from other social organizations? Not really. They rely on volunteers and donations, but regular for-profits aren’t immune to social pressure and boycotts either. Why is Mozilla a legitimate target in a way that, say, Google isn’t? Because Google’s big and therefore much harder to pressure? That’s not a reassuring distinction.

            “I think they just didn’t want their own money to be used to pay him.”

            They pretty clearly didn’t want anyone else’s money going to him either, and in fact they got their wish. This proved to a great many people that Eich’s critics intend to do as much harm as they can to anyone who disagrees with them. They hit Eich because he was a soft target; no one was left with the impression that they intended to stop there. Eich was not an outlier, but well within the norm. Therefore, they’re targeting normal individuals. Mozilla wasn’t an outlier in its goals or organization, therefore they’re targeting all companies. Hence the backlash.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Mozilla is different in that it’s a soft target. If people try to target Starbucks or Microsoft, well, people still like their products. They are boycotted thousands of times a year and it goes nowhere. But Mozilla depends on a very small network of contributors. Get that network on your side and you can shut Mozilla down.

          • Iain says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            They hit Eich because he was a soft target; no one was left with the impression that they intended to stop there. Eich was not an outlier, but well within the norm.

            And yet, by and large, “they” did stop there. The Eich Affair was nearly 3 years ago; if your analysis was correct, shouldn’t we have another prominent example by now?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Because the whole “pour encourager les autres” thing was quite successful. People in the tech industry have learned to keep their damn heads down lest they be chopped off.

          • Cypren says:

            Seconded, as one of those people who is keeping his damn head down. But the incident didn’t make me more inclined towards leftist views; it made me angry and pushed me further to the right from my previously more-centrist position because that could have been me they were after.

            Once again, this is how we got Trump. Tell enough people “you’re either with us or against us” and eventually you may find that more people are against you than with you. I loathe Trump on a personal level, disagree with almost all of his political positions, and yet I still would much rather have him installed as dictator for life than live in a democratic society run by the social justice nazis who ran Eich out of his job.

            Threatening people is a pretty quick way to build up hatred that will override all rational decision-making.

          • Civilis says:

            Because the whole “pour encourager les autres” thing was quite successful. People in the tech industry have learned to keep their damn heads down lest they be chopped off.

            I think it was successful up until the election. At this point, with the revelations brought about by the election, I don’t know that they can keep it going once Trump settles down in office. We’ll have to wait and see.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I think Edward Scizorhands is closer to right here. There aren’t as many soft targets like Eich/Mozilla out there. Most of the ones soft enough to be hit that way already HAVE been. The rest are more financially robust and have cash flow it would take more social leverage than is currently available to compromise.

          • James Miller says:

            @Iain “And yet, by and large, “they” did stop there. The Eich Affair was nearly 3 years ago; if your analysis was correct, shouldn’t we have another prominent example by now?”

            The SJWs tried to get Peter Thiel kicked off of Facebook’s board but they failed.

          • suntzuanime says:

            They went after Palmer Luckey too. Maybe they’ve just been having less success lately because people are sick of their shit? What a nice thing that would be to believe.

          • BBA says:

            Oh boy, we haven’t discussed Eich enough! Well, let me expand on that “soft target” line.

            Mozilla is quite possibly the only company of its kind – a for-profit subsidiary of a nonprofit foundation formed to support an open-source software project. A lot of the people protesting his appointment thought it was like Chick-fil-a or Hobby Lobby, and the CEO would have the power to make his “bigoted” views official company policy, and then got too angry to listen to me explain that it didn’t work like that, Mozilla is a bottom-up community project.

            And then in the midst of it, Eich gave an interview in which he addressed the controversy with a bizarre reference to Indonesia, at which point I realized he had no business being CEO of anything and should never have been offered the job. (This is not an insult – I also have no business being CEO of anything.) And I get the sense that people inside Mozilla were feeling the same way, and this was more of a “loss of confidence” than a firing.

            Note that nobody cared as long as Eich was CTO of Mozilla, nobody has hounded the company where Eich now works and demanded he be fired, and nobody has said anything about Gerv Markham, a high-profile Mozilla employee who wears his Christianity and his opposition to same-sex marriage on his sleeve.

            It was such an unusual situation that I think it’s impossible to draw any conclusions about anything else from it. And that’s all I have to say about that.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Smaller heads have been chopped, but they’ve failed to get many more big head choppings; those left are too small to make publicity or (like Thiel and Luckey) too tough to chop. Getting Moldbug booted from Strangeloop was the next big one in tech; they failed at Lambdaconf. They also got Dr. Tim Hunt chopped; a Nobel Prize doesn’t count for much (as Dr. Watson earlier found out)

          • Cypren says:

            @BBA: I tend to agree with you that at this point, it’s much harder for the SJ crowd to claim prize scalps of very high-profile individuals; the low-hanging fruit has been culled.

            That said, line-level workers are still very much in danger of coordinated harassment and disemployment campaigns if they offend the priesthood. As I recounted in another thread, I’ve personally seen it happen to two people I know (coworkers; I’m not talking about people who worked in the Bangalore office of the same multinational, I’m talking about people I knew and interacted with every day) and had it tried unsuccessfully with a third, who survived it only because he was indispensable to the company and the CEO knew exactly how much trouble we’d be in if he caved. I know for a fact at least one of these incidents was written about here on SSC; I haven’t checked all the archives to see if the others were.

            So I guess while it’s nice that the SJWs aren’t likely to sink Peter Thiel anytime soon, it’s not a huge comfort to people without billions of dollars and close friendships with major tech leaders. We’re still looking over our shoulders ever day and tip-toeing around mindfields lest we find ourselves on the receiving end of a campaign to render us persona non grata in tech.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Seconded, as one of those people who is keeping his damn head down. But the incident didn’t make me more inclined towards leftist views; it made me angry and pushed me further to the right from my previously more-centrist position because that could have been me they were after.

            Yep.

            And I realize that utilitarian arguments never seem to have any effect in these cases, but it is worth considering that bullying people into silence does not create allies; it creates Good Soldier Schweiks. A whole secret army of people publicly nodding their obedience to the Central Committee’s diktats while quietly doing everything that can be done anonymously to make the Party members’ lives miserable, out of sheer spite. (All the aggressive doxxing of pseudonymous writers and campaigns against anonymity start making increasing sense in that context.)

            Just letting people hold their dumb retrogressive opinions without risking their employment would have been far less damaging to the social justice cause, in retrospect. The vast majority of people don’t (or didn’t, several years ago) really care about politics unless it directly affects them, so maybe it was a bad idea to make it directly affect them, huh?

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      I don’t think it’s wrong to report them to authorities, but I don’t think that’s what Milo was doing. He was just holding them up in front of a bunch of alt-right bros as a not-so-subtle “here’s someone to target and harass.” It’s basically doxxing. I doubt Berkeley PD or ICE are watching his presentations ready to bust the door down on whoever he names.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        The arguments I saw were very specific that the objectional element was the “outing” to authorities; his talk apparently was showing the activist’s public statements, showing his audience the ICE “report an illegal” page, and then entering the Activist’s information into that page.

        I would strongly disagree that publicizing an activist’s public, activist statements constitutes “Doxxing”. I’m under the impression that they were speaking under their public name, but may be wrong about that. I would also point out that mainstream blue-tribers are entirely willing to defend Doxxing as a tactic, and that outrage over harassment has always been extremely selective.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          I would strongly disagree that publicizing an activist’s public, activist statements constitutes “Doxxing”.

          I obviously can’t speak to specific people in the absence of knowledge about who was going to be outed. Obviously if they weren’t using their legal name it would be doxxing by any standard. But I don’t think amplifying public statements is necessarily exclusive with doxxing. Certainly one way of doxxing is to publicize information that was private. But another method is to amplify public information presented to one audience to another one.

          For instance, it’s very trivial to find Scott’s identity, because he used to be public about it. If I were an unscrupulous Scott-hater, and sent his most inflammatory out-of-context quotes to his employer along with said public disclosure, that would certainly be doxxing, because the audience matters. I’m not sending that stuff to his employer for any reason except to get him in trouble.

          Similarly, Milo wouldn’t be publicizing that student’s information to show people how to use the ICE website. That rationale is so transparently bullshit that it’s pretty much a troll of its own. You could show people how to do that with a fictional Juan Doe if you really wanted to. No, the purpose is to get that person’s information in front of a bunch of people (Milo’s audience) who will make their life a living hell.

          The arguments I saw were very specific that the objectional element was the “outing” to authorities;

          I would also point out that mainstream blue-tribers are entirely willing to defend Doxxing as a tactic, and that outrage over harassment has always been extremely selective.

          I’m going to get very very very mad on the Internet right now, and I apologize that this is coming at you, specifically, because it happens almost constantly everywhere and I’m probably guilty of it myself at times.

          But this is the worst. The fucking worst. This stupid vos quoque argument combines the emptiness of the appeal to hypocrisy with the laziness of a weak-man. If you want to engage a mainstream blue-triber, then go find one. If you want to engage my post, then find me, specifically, saying that doxxing is a legitimate tactic.

          As someone who has mongrel political beliefs that don’t neatly map onto any tribe this is, by far, the Worst Argument In The World because it’s roughly 1000% easier to argue by contradiction against one’s own perception of some random tribe than to engage with the specifics of what is said in a given conversation. This mental virus is basically everywhere now, even places aspire to some higher standard of logical rigor, and makes me question whether it’s even possible to talk to people about politics as an independent anymore.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Anonymous Bosch – I appreciate your frustration, but on the other hand I’m at a bit of a loss at how to proceed. This entire conversation seems to me to be about cultural norms, not ideals. I don’t know how to discuss group-wide norms without appealing to examples from the group. This isn’t down to anyone’s personal preferences; it’s about what rules we as a society enforce and why. Hence the appeals to group-level examples like toleration of speeding or narcotics use. For what it’s worth, I’ll try to confine myself to your specific statements in this thread, though.

            “Certainly one way of doxxing is to publicize information that was private. But another method is to amplify public information presented to one audience to another one.”

            What is the difference between your second definition of doxxing and just straight up quoting people you disagree with as examples of an ideology you think is wrong? How do we do political debate at all without using this sort of “doxxing”?

            “”No, the purpose is to get that person’s information in front of a bunch of people (Milo’s audience) who will make their life a living hell.””

            I strongly disagree. My belief is that he is making a statement that reporting illegals to the ICE is a socially acceptable thing to do, by doing it publicly. Certianly that is what a great many of the attacks against him have claimed, including the ones by SSC posters that prompted my OP.

            To address your specific argument though, this harassment narrative was maddening during the Ants, and it’s no less maddening now. People publicize notable examples of bad behavior and poor arguments made by members of the other tribe because they are good examples of why the other tribe is fundamentally wrong. Pointing out their egregious behavior, and how that behavior is minimized, tolerated and enabled by their allies, is such a fundamental part of political debate that even describing it is a bit boggling. By your definition, it seems to me that pretty much everyone talking about politics with an audience of any appreciable size is a doxxer and/or harassment-enabler… Which to be fair does seem to echo your closing paragraph.

            How should we be doing things, in your opinion? Milo exists, Marcotte exists. Berkeley College Republicans exist, Antifa exists. Illegal immigrants exist, immigration laws exist. What do?

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          For instance, it’s very trivial to find Scott’s identity, because he used to be public about it. If I were an unscrupulous Scott-hater, and sent his most inflammatory out-of-context quotes to his employer along with said public disclosure, that would certainly be doxxing, because the audience matters. I’m not sending that stuff to his employer for any reason except to get him in trouble.

          Just because Scott sucks at hiding his real identity, it doesn’t mean that he’s posting with it, so this example would still be regular doxxing, even if it’s low effort. I’d say it’s significantly different from signal-boosting controversial, out of context statements said with their real identity, even if the latter is still bad.

        • Aapje says:

          I would argue that doxxing is always the amplifying of information that is public to some extent, otherwise the doxxer wouldn’t have the information in the first place.

          The ability to doxx means that at least one person knows the real name behind the pseudonym, his address and/or other information that the person wants to keep separate from their pseudonym.

          I a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter that a programmer has Moldbug beliefs and people at a programmer conference would not punish him for it unless he brings it up at the conference itself. And it wouldn’t matter that a psychiatrist has Scott Alexander beliefs. But the world is not perfect, so it does matter and privacy is important.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Correction: you don’t think that’s what Milo was allegedly doing. There’s no actual evidence this was going to happen.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Consider the example of speed of a motor vehicle while on a public roadway.

      The law is that you cannot exceed the posted speed. The enforcement of that law is limited to people who exceed the posted speed by a non-negligible amount or do so in situations that have other exacerbating factors.

      Now imagine a Highway Patrol website that allowed people to report “illegal driving”. And that doing so would actually result in certain prosecutors applying the strict definition of the law.

      Suppose a group was reporting relatively random people who admitted to exceeding the limit. Imagine if one of those people came to your place of work and was hanging around the water cooler recording audio, combing the employee list to search social media for posts admitting to any speeding, and recruiting your co-workers to report others.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’m not sure about dobbing someone in (informants have not generally been well-regarded in Irish history). On the other hand, when you have university students and former students making much of their undocumented status for places in the Oppression Olympics, including public statements in school papers and on the campus radio, then turning around and going “I’m terrified of Milo because I’m undocumented and suppose someone tells the authorities” – I am not so convinced:

        More disturbing was the possibility of him outing and targeting specific undocumented students on campus, much like he did to a trans student at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

        As an outspoken undocumented student at UC Berkeley, this frightened me. I walked around campus constantly looking over my shoulder that day, uncertain whether the doxing of my online profile had already placed a target on me.

        If you’re really scared of being revealed, why would you go around with “I’m an illegal” practically on a T-shirt?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          In the US, most feel free to admit that they drive over the speed limit and many will happily say things like “if you are driving the speed limit, stay in the right (outside) lane and keep out of my way”

          But if a private citizen was hanging out on the roadside with a radar gun jotting down license plates, they would feel quite nervous. And many would get quite angry.

        • One Name May Hide Another says:

          A lot of people seem to suggest that Milo outed a trans student during his University of Wisconsin talk. He did no such thing. I think some of the articles covering the incident were intentionally misleading. The trans student in question gave an interview for the local TV news talking about her issues with accessing the women’s locker rooms at the university. Milo showed a screenshot of the news coverage and made a rude joke or two about the student. That does not amount to outing or doxxing.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        Comparing illegal immigration to speeding seems to assume the conclusion; whether illegal immigration is a big deal or not is the whole issue under contention. More generally, if illegal driving impinged directly and significantly on national-scale politics, I think it’s pretty unquestionable that we would treat it very, very differently.

        I think suntzuanime’s cocaine example is much more relevent; replies here.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          The illegal immigrant who states there status is doing so explicitly because they are like speeders, where self-reporting of speeding is not punished.

          This is also similar to self-reporting drug use, yes.

          And your “lure people to a party” example is not analagous. You need to find a relatively random person, not a public figure, and you need to do it based on something other than direct evidence.

          Consider trolling Facebook or r/trees for people to report.

          Or consider trying to get Milo arrested because he admitted, in a book, to using drugs. Or, trying get him deported because he admitted it.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “Or consider trying to get Milo arrested because he admitted, in a book, to using drugs. Or, trying get him deported because he admitted it.”

            I would not be particularly upset about someone doing this. If Milo wrote about how he always keeps a bit of nose candy around for quick pick-me-ups, and someone got him raided, arrested for possession and subsequently deported, that would not be a problem for me.

            Your previous argument about trawling Facebook or r/trees makes me a lot more uncomfortable. I’m not sure why; I think r/trees being weed might be part of it.

          • Cypren says:

            You can chalk me up in the list of people who wouldn’t have a problem with Milo getting arrested for drug possession or use either. I think drug laws are dumb, but as long as we have dumb laws on the books, they need to be enforced with particular vigor against the wealthy, powerful and high status. That’s the only way they stand a chance of being repealed.

    • Chalid says:

      If “outing” became common, it would make illegal immigrant communities much more segregated, distrustful, etc. and therefore generally toxic to society. Given that an illegal immigrant is here, it’s certainly better for everyone that he has the ability to make friends, can live someplace in a stable way, etc. Especially since their kids are citizens.

    • John Schilling says:

      If it’s that easy for you, as a civilian who has zero authority to stop people and check their paperwork, to figure out that someone is an illegal immigrant, then the police don’t need your help in the first place. You may reasonably assume from the fact that there are still undetained obvious illegal immigrants out there that the police don’t give a damn or, at a minimum, have devoted all of the finite resources they are going to devote to that task. In which case, what you accomplish by snitching, if you can do so vigorously enough to get a policeman to put down his donut and make an arrest, is mostly just to substitute one detained illegal immigrant for another.

      Net social benefit, zero. At the personal level, it gives everyone who knows about the incident reason to not trust you with anything they might like to keep at all private, and cause to wonder whether you snitched on that particular immigrant because of your abiding passion for law and order or because they particularly offended you in some way. Neither of these are going to do you any good, so don’t do that.

      OK, if you are trying to signal tribal loyalty to the Trumpists, it might do you some good. But that just leads to a broader admonition of “really, don’t do that”.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not evil to report illegal immigrants, just as it is not evil to do a citizen’s arrest or take other action to defend yourself and your community where the civil authorities have failed to protect you. Illegal immigrants shouldn’t be there. Reporting them to the civil authorities is just, just as reporting a theft, a trespassing or tax evasion.

      (I agree with some of what John Schilling said above, though. Particular circumstances heavily weigh on whether it’s a good idea, not just non-evil.)

  18. Kevin C. says:

    A question for my fellow Red Tribe-ish, Trump supporter-ish types here on SSC.

    Out in one of the more Alt-Right areas I frequent, they’re claiming that the more “establishment” republicans are going to have to join the “Royalists” (as they call the Congresspeople supporting “God-Emperor Trump”, a title they’re increasingly taking seriously) as a matter of survival, and that none of the “#NeverTrumpers” are going to cross the aisle on impeaching Trump because then they’d be literally “signing their own death warrants”. Meaning, not that they’ll be under threat from Trump supporters, but that if the Democrats ever retake the White House they will literally execute every single last Republican in Congress, even those who sided with them, and “Romanov” the entire Trump family. The question: I’m not a Leftist plant for thinking this is crazy, right? Because I’ve been called “Grima Wormtongue” and given “echo brackets” for saying that’s nuts. Or am I wrong, and we’re now really at the “you win the Game of Thrones or you die” stage of politics?

    • Cypren says:

      This strikes me as even more paranoid and insane than the left-wing theories that Trump is going to seize power and run a military dictatorship. At least there’s some vaguely rational-ish correlation that the military and police overwhelmingly supported Trump and so they might follow his orders.

      To believe that Elizabeth Warren is going to ascend the throne and start rounding up Republicans for the gas chambers is to believe that there’s a hidden Progressive Army somewhere. (Okay, yes, I realize this was the plot of an Orson Scott Card novel. It was just as silly then.) It would have to be one with advanced alien technology preparing to emerge with their mind control rays to co-opt all of our existing armed forces when Her Most Exalted Diverseness gives the secret code word.

      ARE YOU AIMING YOUR MIND CONTROL RAYS AT ME? ARE YOU?

      • Cypren says:

        …and of course, I post this snark and then click a link to a Power Line blog post (I know, I know, I’m a glutton for punishment) which ends (emphasis mine):

        It is easy to laugh at the current hysteria in the Democratic Party, and, perhaps, it is a moral duty to do so. But we are learning something very ugly about liberals. All that talk about democracy? Forget it. Their interest is in power, period. I seriously think they would throw us conservatives in jail if they had the opportunity. The Democratic Party, as currently constituted, must never achieve power again.

        So apparently the tribal hysteria is not entirely confined to just crazy 4chan type posters and has infected the (somewhat) more mainstream right-o-sphere as well.

        • gbdub says:

          There have certainly been plenty of Democrats (voters and pundits, not so much politicians) advocating jailing e.g. “climate denialists”, “hate speakers” (for a broad definition of hate speech), and the entire Dubya administration.

          I generally consider these calls about as serious and likely as calls to literally “lock Hillary up” which is to say, semi-serious but highly unlikely to actually happen.

        • Civilis says:

          “If they had the opportunity” covers a multitude of sins. The idea of Democrats passing a Canada or UK style hate-speech law if they could get it past the first amendment isn’t that outlandish, and based on the rhetoric applied to Sen. Sessions, they think that would apply to mainstream Republicans.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Some of them absolutely would throw conservatives (and libertarians and liberals who weren’t with the program) in jail if they had the opportunity. Expansion of the criteria for “harassment” and support for “hate speech” (in practice meaning “speech which opposes us”) laws demonstrates this. Very few of them yet have the taste for killing (the antifa probably do, but I kind of suspect it’s the other way around for them; they are thugs who have found a political excuse, not political radicals who have turned thuggish).

          Believing they’d carry out mass execution of Senators is another level of crazy.

        • John Schilling says:

          Forget it. Their interest is in power, period. I seriously think they would throw us conservatives in jail if they had the opportunity.

          That is certainly true of some of them, and may be true of most of them. Fortunately, they don’t have the opportunity and even giving them the White House, 60% majorities in both houses of Congress, and six Supreme Court justices would not give them that opportunity in the short term.

          As Civilis notes, they could do things like expanding hate-crimes laws to the point where what is today common speech among Republicans would be legally actionable. Republicans not being complete morons, this results in Republicans being more circumspect but not in Republicans being locked up en masse (though a few might chose figurative martyrdom)

          A policy of locking up, or per Kevin C actually executing, Republicans merely for being Republicans, would be so obviously illegitimate that the civil service, the military, the police, would stall indefinitely when it came to carrying it out – even the ones who might privately want to, would (rightly) fear being stuck as the fall guys when the political tide turns and the top brass hide behind plausible deniability. It would take a generation of consistent Democratic rule to make that sort of thing a realistic possibility, and a generation of consistent Democratic rule would make that sort of thing unnecessary.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Fortunately, they don’t have the opportunity and even giving them the White House, 60% majorities in both houses of Congress, and six Supreme Court justices would not give them that opportunity in the short term.

            Strongly disagree; we’d see a repeat of the events following passage of the Federalist Sedition Act. Sure, most of you could stay silent; I personally am temperamentally unsuited to doing so even when it is in my best interests. But there’s also the actual conservative media. We’d see the editors of Breitbart, the Washington Times, and other conservative newspapers jailed. Right-wing bloggers would also be jailed, and some Fox News commentators. All in the name of “stopping hate”.

          • James Miller says:

            All it would take to silence the right would be for the government to not enforce the law when the left engages in violence against the right, as happened with the anti-Milo protesters in Berkeley.

          • Iain says:

            If it is dumb when the left panics about Trump jailing his political opponents, why are we suddenly giving credence to wild speculation about what Elizabeth Warren would do, given sufficient power?

            At least the people hyper-ventilating about Trump can point to the “lock her up” chants at his rallies.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Iain

            Who is “we”? No one here (including Kevin C.) is claiming Warren will be executing Senators; it appears “we” are unanimous in _not_ giving credence to those claims.

            @James Miller
            Selective enforcement and lack of enforcement of the laws against rioting could prevent public speaking by conservatives. It can’t really stop the right-wing media nor the internet. If it gets to the point where the government is allowing left-wing militias to burn down Fox News headquarters and murder Breitbart reporters in broad daylight, that’s another matter, but I think we’d reach the point of actually jailing them before that happened nationwide.

          • Cypren says:

            @Iain: Read what I wrote. The Elizabeth Warren story was deliberately sarcastic and absurd. Unless you believe in alien mind control rays.

            [looks at you suspiciously] You don’t have alien mind control rays, do you?

          • Cypren says:

            If it gets to the point where the government is allowing left-wing militias to burn down Fox News headquarters and murder Breitbart reporters in broad daylight…

            The history of the Israel/Palestine conflict is very instructive on this point, with both sides forming citizen militias and active terrorist groups as the British government stood by and allowed violence to happen. I would expect a theoretical future Red/Blue Civil War 2.0 to proceed along the same lines, especially because of how dispersed power is in the US.

          • Iain says:

            Sorry, I was using “Elizabeth Warren” as a metonym for “the Democrats” as a whole, which I guess is confusing given the context.

            I’m talking about stuff like this:

            Some of them absolutely would throw conservatives (and libertarians and liberals who weren’t with the program) in jail if they had the opportunity.

            We’d see the editors of Breitbart, the Washington Times, and other conservative newspapers jailed. Right-wing bloggers would also be jailed, and some Fox News commentators.

            If somebody on Tumblr reversed the sides and said this about Trump, people here would be making fun of it, and using it as evidence that the left is disconnected from reality. What, precisely, is the difference here? Is it the plausibility of the two sides? Because I’m having a hard time thinking of anything from the left to compare with “Lock her up! Lock her up!” from the president.

            Or, to phrase it in a less confrontational way: if people are prepared to grant The Nybbler the interpretive charity to treat the remarks I quoted as a discussion of a hypothetical but deeply implausible situation — which I think is totally fair! — then perhaps they should also consider granting similar interpretive charity when reading comments from their outgroups. (As one example, consider the repeated discussions about people on the left who purportedly believe Trump is Literal Fascist Hitler.) Interpretive charity isn’t only good when applied to your own side.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Iain, I personally don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that people who say they want to have criminal penalties for speech they don’t like would in fact impose them if they got the chance. On the other side, this would be the equivalent of suggesting (on November 9, 2016) that Trump would start mass deportation of illegal immigrants or overzealously prosecute the media for defamation or even to prosecute Hillary Clinton. It is not the equivalent of saying Trump is literally Hitler — the equivalent of that is the Elizabeth Warren death squads.

          • Aapje says:

            @Cypren

            Or N-Ireland. This fiction that only one side gets to use violence until the other side behaves (= accepts oppression) is rather silly. When violence becomes a viable way to achieve results and non-violent methods become less viable, those who want results will resort to violence, on both sides.

            It’s a death spiral.

          • Iain says:

            @The Nybbler:

            On the other side, this would be the equivalent of suggesting (on November 9, 2016) that Trump would start mass deportation of illegal immigrants or overzealously prosecute the media for defamation or even to prosecute Hillary Clinton.

            Okay, sure, those are reasonable comparisons. But those sorts of claims are generally seen on SSC as strident and unserious. You can’t have it both ways: either your discussion about leftists jailing the editors of the Washington Times is a stain on your credibility, or we should go easier on people who express the same sorts of concerns on the other side.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Not red tribe, but Trump supporter. Do they mean metaphorically literally execute or literally literally execute? I can see a sense in which that might be colorful metaphor for something that wasn’t completely insane, but no, we’re not at the point of mass purges of political parties yet. Heck, Trump hasn’t even had Clinton arrested.

      • Kevin C. says:

        “Do they mean metaphorically literally execute or literally literally execute?”

        The latter. Actual bullets into actual Republican brains.

      • pylonshadow says:

        “Target the enemy at every opportunity. Hit them wherever they show themselves vulnerable. Play as dirty as your conscience will permit. Undermine them, sabotage them, and discredit them. Be ruthless and show them absolutely no mercy. This is not the time for Christian forgiveness because these are people who have not repented, these are people who are trying to destroy you and are quite willing to harm your family and your children in the process. Take them down and take them out without hesitation.”

        SJW Attack Survival Guide

    • FacelessCraven says:

      That is extremely retarded. Good on you for trying to inject some sanity, but I would recommend not frequenting a place that fucked up.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        Don’t use “retarded” as an insult.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          I am not sure how to reply to this. Where are we on the euphemism treadmill now?

          • Anonymous says:

            “Developmentally challenged” was the last answer I got. But that was a couple of years ago, so it’s probably considered archaic by now.

          • Corey says:

            euphemism treadmill

            It’s illustrated well in an NAACP-like example: the advocacy group for such people in my county is “The ARC”, where ARC once stood for “Association of Retarded Citizens”.

            I refer to my daughter as “special in the Olympics sense” and nobody seems to mind.

          • John Schilling says:

            “Retarded” classically refers to a person, not an argument or assertion. Whether or not it is inherently more offensive than e.g. “stupid”, saying “that’s stupid” merely indicates that a person has made one stupid argument whereas “that’s retarded” strongly implies “you’re retarded”, generally incapable of making not-stupid arguments.

            You probably ought not be doing that on the basis of one stupid argument.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            Well, you could reply to it by never using “retarded” as an insult again. You’re not the only one in this comments section to do it; you’re just the first one after I got fed up.

            This isn’t the euphemism treadmill: that would be if someone objected to describing a person as “retarded”.

            But since it still has the meaning of “person with something wrong with their cognitive ability”, using it as an insult expresses some contempt or dislike or devaluation of people with below-average cognitive ability.

            Since one of my daughters is one of those people with below-average cognitive ability, you using “retarded” as an insult or negative description of a thing makes me want to punch you in the face. Then the left would say, “Look, those Right-Wing SSC Commenters really are violent! We told you so!”—and neither of us wants that.

          • Controls Freak says:

            “Retarded” classically refers to an engine timing, not a person, argument, or assertion. You probably not ought assess whether a motor is knocking or in danger of detonation over the internet.

            I try to live in the good old days, when it just meant delayed or hindered. I try to reclaim this slur whenever I can. If we’re waiting for Person X to show up to an event, and someone says, “Where is Person X?” I respond, “Oh, they’re just retarded. They’ll be here soon.”

          • suntzuanime says:

            As long as we’re PC-ing up the comments here, do you think we could get people to stop making racist jokes about the Irish?

          • Anonymous says:

            Since one of my daughters is one of those people with below-average cognitive ability, you using “retarded” as an insult or negative description of a thing makes me want to punch you in the face.

            That’s a problem mainly with you, not anyone else. Using insults is not nice in general – but apparently, according to you, this insult is off-limits, because you have a personal relation to it?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It’s illustrated well in an NAACP-like example: the advocacy group for such people in my county is “The ARC”, where ARC once stood for “Association of Retarded Citizens”.

            Here in the UK we had the National Spastics’ Society, which changed its name to Scope back in 1994. And now, low and behold: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=scopey

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Machina ex Deus – I had been under the impression that the movement to taboo the word in question had largely failed, you’re the first person I’ve run into to actually take offense to it, after years of hearing jokes where its supposed offensiveness was the punchline. It also galls me to lose a pejorative of long and honorable service.

            On the other hand, while I am generally in favor of offending people these days, I find I have little stomach for actually inflicting offense directly. Consider me properly chastised.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            Thanks. I appreciate it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Terms for undesirable traits will get used as insults. It’s just how the world works. Every time we move on to another term, it simply comes to describe the same undesirable trait, and people start using it as an insult, because what it is describing is undesirable.

        • Incurian says:

          I have never heard a good explanation for this.

          • Anonymous says:

            For what? Why people use “retarded” as an insult? Or why other people object against using it as an insult?

          • Cypren says:

            My belief is that people who chide others for using politically-incorrect insults are mostly just engaged in conspicuous virtue signaling. It explains quite nicely why there needs to be a never-ending race to create new euphemisms; it’s like the fashion industry for status-signaling. You don’t want to be caught dead using last year’s terminology, do you? So uncouth.

          • Incurian says:

            The rule probably ought to be “don’t harass people, especially the disadvantaged.”

            I think this is an instance of “building a wall around the Torah.” But as someone upthread mentioned, this absolutely just leads us to the euphemism treadmill.

            For an interesting counter example, I think it’s completely reasonable to require that people not use “gay” (and other related words) as negative terms, because it’s implying that gay is negative. Even though most people didn’t mean it that way, I understand why it is inherently offensive.

            I don’t think this applies to things like “retarded”, “blind”, etc., because they’re merely hyperbolic description, which is appropriate for an insult (whether or not it’s appropriate to insult at all is another matter).

            For a counter-counter example, the N-word is on it’s face just a reference to skin color, but it’s loaded with a bunch of very negative connotations, and you won’t catch me arguing that it’s ok to say just because it’s merely descriptive.

            So why not the same protection for “retarded?” Because the euphemism treadmill is… bad, and it should be nipped in the bud.

            All that being said, I personally don’t say it because my wife unfairly harasses me when I do.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s too late, “MR” (for Mental R-) has been replaced by “ID” for Intellectual Disability. The treadmill grinds on. Though Control Freak’s engine timing reference elsethread suggests a (very insulting, close your eyes now) Foghorn Leghornism: “That boy’s so slow, he’s firing 5 degrees after, I say after, top dead center.”

          • thehousecarpenter says:

            Why is it assumed that trying to stop people from using “retard” as an insult is what leads to a euphemism treadmill?

            I would have thought it was the other way around. Like, people with intellectual disabilities exist, and people are not going to want to refer to these people by words with strongly pejorative force such as “stupid”, etc. So they’re going to look for words that don’t have that pejorative connotation attached for them, and if there aren’t any left in the language they’re going to have to invent new ones.

            Meanwhile, somebody who wants to insult somebody for their lack of intelligence can use any of the many terms that have already been fixed at 100% pejorative, such as “stupid”, “idiot”, “imbecile”. Why, then, do people use the more euphemistic terms? I could be wrong, but I suspect the ultimate reason is that some people are contemptuous of the intellectually disabled and want to explicitly express that contempt. (To be clear, I’m not saying that every person who uses such terms does it for this reason—in fact I think most of them just use it in the normal memetic way, because it’s an insult they know other people mind and it’s the first one that came to mind—I’m talking about the motivations of the first adopters.) If that’s the case then it comes down to what you think is more feasibly eliminable, human kind-heartedness or human cruelty.

            Personally, I don’t think *either* of these things are eliminable, and therefore I have to just accept the euphemism treadmill as something that will inevitably happen. But I’m not actually that fussed about it. Language changes. If in the future I have to stop using “intellectually disabled” to refer to intellectually disabled people because it’s now considered offensive, and adopt some new more PC euphemism instead, I’m entirely cool with that.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @thehousecarpenter – “I could be wrong, but I suspect the ultimate reason is that some people are contemptuous of the intellectually disabled and want to explicitly express that contempt.”

            I disagree. Actions that arouse pity from the disabled bring scorn toward those who are able yet still wallow in folly. The base claim is that they are acting contrary to their nature, which brings their nature into question. The same idea can be seen in the now-taboo “you hit like a girl”.

    • skef says:

      Can I ask what the end-game in this scenario is, after the execution of one of two parties? Are they thinking communism? SJW enforcement militias?

      • Kevin C. says:

        My understanding of the argument is not that Trump and the Republicans are going to be murdered by the Left, but that it is clear the Left intends to do so. And that Trump and Congressional Republicans, if they don’t already realize this, will soon. Thus the more moderate Repubs in Congress will, in the spirit of Franklin’s “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately”, join with the pro-Trump faction in backing Trump 100% as a matter of literal survival. Similarly, the argument is that Trump, to avoid having “his son getting eaten by crocodiles”; i.e. the whole family getting “Romanoved” by Black Block types or any of the other “Nazi-punchers” on the Left just slavering to do violence against those who disagree with them, will have to call upon the above support in Congress, his “100% support” amongst the rank-and-file military and police, Eric Prince (via his sister Betsy DeVos), et cetera, and openly defy the courts, the bureaucracy, and so on, carrying out the autocoup, giving Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the other “liberal” justices “free helicopter rides to the Atlantic”, and pretty much become right-wing dictator for life because he’ll have to as the only way to avoid having himself and his children murdered by increasingly unhinged, increasingly violent leftists; and, eventually, pass the job onto a son or grandson, so that, many generations from now, much like with Caesar Augustus, the historians will retroactively recognize The Donald as the first Emperor of the Trump Dynasty.

        • Nornagest says:

          That’s pretty silly. No doubt there are some characters out there who could talk themselves into building a mountain of Trumpist skulls; the antifa we’ve recently seen in action, for example, might not be far from that point. But there really aren’t very many antifa in total, nor are those that do exist well positioned ideologically or physically to carry out civilian massacres, let alone pose a serious threat to the President of the United States. And if… wherever you’re hearing this… thinks the likes of Elizabeth Warren are anywhere close to resorting to organized political violence in the near future, I don’t know what to tell them. Tolerating the black bloc, sure; even tacitly admiring them. But that’s a far cry from overt support, or even the more obvious forms of covert support.

          Don’t get me wrong, a number of Bad Ends in our future are a lot more credible now than I’d like them to be. But this particular scenario isn’t one of them.

          • Kevin C. says:

            “That’s pretty silly.”

            I agree. But saying that is what got me echo brackets and replies of “Grima Wormtongue has now revealed himself…” As far as they’re concerned, anyone who disagrees with the argument is probably a Jewish Leftist infiltrator.

          • Cypren says:

            @Kevin C: Sounds like you need to find a higher class of place to hang out. Like, say, the nearest crack house.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C, – What you are describing is full epistemic closure. I used to get most of my media intake from places with a similar degree of closure, though they mostly came at things from a populist left-wing stance. I eventually left when I realized that I was receiving no useful information; I already knew what the headlines and the commentary was going to be before the page even booted up: the government is doing awful things because it is evil, corps are doing awful things because they are evil, bad people are doing awful things because they are evil. It wasn’t even a matter of concluding that they were wrong in these accusations, just a realization that I understood their perceptual filter well enough that I didn’t need them to apply it for me any more.

            Speaking more generally, what value do you derive from being in such a forum?

        • Cypren says:

          In the highly unlikely event that this happens I suspect I will welcome the inevitable death of the world in nuclear fire. It will be more sane than the alternative.

        • skef says:

          Ok, to be more specific then, what is the intended endgame? I mean, unless the hope is to convince moderate Republicans of this when it isn’t true, so that Trump can be God Emperor, they would presumably have a subsequent plan, right? Things don’t just stay the same after one of the two major parties is collectively executed. Even mustache-twirling villains usually have some sort of plan.

          As a conspiracy theory this sounds kind of slip-shod.

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      I second the sentiment that this sounds about as delusional as the left wing people I know on the internet who panic on Trump sending death patrols to murder muslims “any time now” and brag how they would hide Anne Franks in their cellar.

      Look at a place where there is real authoritarian government or other similar extreme political situation going on. For example, Turkey, or Rurssia, or Ukraine, or the infamous cases from the US South from the civil rights era (and before) everybody on the Left likes to iterate. The usual sign is that there are arrests and political violence and such in the real, physical world. And I don’t mean random violent protesters hitting random people and burning things (which while bad, happens semi-regularly almost everywhere — and the Berkeley protest was still far, far away from a real riots the police couldn’t control even if they tried), I mean targeted beatings and killings. The kind of where there’s knock on your door, next you know you have a hood over your head and being savagely beaten (if you’re lucky) or someone finds you dead in the nearby river next week (if you are not) or maybe you just disappear (if you are, for example, in al-Assad’s Syria prior to the actual fighting breaking out).

      And even then, in Russia the couple of people who have infamously died have been very unlucky to anger some corrupted oligarch. Usually they just end up in a Russian prison.

      The places you hang around sound like echochambers where the echo effect has reached insane levels. I’d suggest re-evaluating their epistemic value. Only a couple of months ago Obama was still the president, and the only black helicopters that landed in anyone‘s backyard to commit an execution did so in Middle-East, to kill Osama frickkin’-bin-Laden.

      edit. Thinking about it, the more people propagate this kind of insane theories will make it more likely that enough people start to believe them and thus make them into a reality. (“If they are going to kill us / there’s going to be a revolution, might as well as be the one who strikes first and is doing the killing.”) Also, recall the Days of Rage blog post that was posted some time ago: the political violence in the US has still not yet even reached the 1970s level of insanity.

      • Cypren says:

        Only a couple of months ago Obama was still the president, and the only black helicopters that landed in anyone‘s backyard to commit an execution did so in Middle-East, to kill Osama frickkin’-bin-Laden.

        To be fair, Obama was more a fan of drone strikes than black helicopters and did kill 4 US citizens (though only one was explicitly targeted) and may have possibly signed a death warrant for a fifth, though that is unproven. So the precedent has been set, though I don’t think this is really a good argument that we’re about to see any critic of the president die in a fiery explosion.

        But it should still make anyone who believes in due process and rule of law very uncomfortable.

        • nimim.k.m. says:

          You are correct, and I thought about mentioning the drone strikes, but it would sidetrack from my main point, that is, the previous democratic party government of US did not have indications of starting a reign of terror and killing republican senators.

      • reasoned argumentation says:

        As Moldbug recently pointed out – since the consensus is that only direct government action counts as oppressive government we’ve ended up with a government that outsources its political violence and applies it through disintermediated agents in a semi-random manner. Ferguson, MO was recently ethnically cleansed in a very violent process – but not a direct government one.

        • hyperboloid says:

          Ferguson, MO was recently ethnically cleansed

          If I may ask, what American cities do you consider to have been ethnically cleansed? And when did this supposed cleansing happen?

          • The Nybbler says:

            If I may ask, what American cities do you consider to have been ethnically cleansed?

            Chicago. Detroit. Washington, D.C. New York City. Newark, NJ. Camden, NJ. Baltimore, MD.

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

            http://www.gif-explode.com/?explode=http://i.imgur.com/xZoKnTa.gif

            http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/White-Flight-By-The-Numbers-206302551.html

          • hyperboloid says:

            @ The Nybbler

            It is apparently a well known “fact” among white nationalists that Baltimore is a lawless hellhole where no white person would dare venture for fear of being slaughtered by rabid packs of feral Negroes.

            I find this amusing as I am a white man and have lived in mixed race neighborhoods in Baltimore for most of my life; and yet I have been repeatedly assured by various alt right types that I must have been ethnically cleansed.

            Despite our city’s remarkably high murder rate, the odds of a law abiding, middle class, white man in Baltimore being the victim of violent crime are pretty slim. The overwhelming majority of both the perpetrators and victims of violent crime are people who earn their living breaking the law, mostly by dealing drugs.

            White flight was not ethnic cleansing, as people left mostly for economic reasons, in particular falling property values. When the traditional industries that supported the city collapsed in the nineteen seventies, property values plummeted, crime rose as many of our poorer citizens turned to the drug trade as a means of support, and people pulled up stakes for greener pastures.

            At no point was this migration principally driven by racial tensions, or fear of racially motivated violence. White flight is in many ways missed named, as was the dived between those who stayed, and those who left was not really a racial one. Plenty of poor whites stayed, and Baltimore experienced massive “black flight”, mostly to Prince George’s county.

            In fact I think this phenomena did more damage the then any change in racial demographics, as it left behind concentrations of where successful communities had once been.

            @suntzuanime

            Nobody is being forcibly relocated, they’ll just be shot if they stay.

            That is straightforwardly falsified by the fact that plenty of whites do live in these cities, and are at remarkably little risk of being shot.

            @John Schilling

            An average non-Hispanic white person living in Detroit for their entire life has an 18% chance of being shot and a 5% chance of being murdered.

            That is likely to be a very misleading statistic, as the risk of being a victim of violent crime is non randomly distributed in the population. It’s almost certainly
            the case that young white men in Detroit who work in the drug trade (yes they exist), or habitually steal to support a habit, or are otherwise involved in a criminal lifestyle, are much more likely to be shot then a middle aged manager at GM.

          • Nornagest says:

            …the risk of being a victim of violent crime is non randomly distributed in the population. It’s almost certainly the case that young white men in Detroit who work in the drug trade (yes they exist), or habitually steal to support a habit, or are otherwise involved in a criminal lifestyle, are much more likely to be shot then a middle aged manager at GM.

            No doubt this is true, but you’d need some implausibly high rates for it to be driving shootings/murders at 18%/5%. I don’t think 1 in 5 people in Detroit are or were e.g. actively involved in the drug trade, and that would be a minimum for this theory to work out — it assumes that ~100% of people in drug-related occupations or similar get shot at some point.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Nornagest
            Those are lifetime prevalence numbers. There are certainly communities where ten or twenty percent of men are involved in habitual criminal behavior for some portion of their lives, usually the mid teens to mid twenties.

            But I would be surprised if white Detroit as a whole qualified. There may be something wrong with John schilling’s numbers, and It would be helpful if he could site a source.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Between 1950 (the peak of white population in Baltimore) and 1990, the white population of Baltimore went from 720,000 to 290,000, while the non-white population went from 226,000 to 450,000. In 1960, white population was 610,000 while nonwhite population was 330,000. By 1970 it was 480,000 to 430,000. Certainly whites were leaving already, but it seems hard to believe the race riots of 1968 did not accelerate this trend.

          • BBA says:

            So, when affluent white people like me move back into the neighborhoods that our grandparents moved out of, displacing the people of color who had lived there in between, is that also ethnic cleansing?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @BBA

            Depends. Some claim that “gentrification” is being accomplished through official (police) and unofficial harassment of, threats towards, and violence against the people in the neighborhoods to be gentrified. If they are correct, “ethnic cleansing” seems like a fair description.

          • BBA says:

            Hm. I figured it was mostly simple economic pressure, but maybe economics is war by other means. And one wouldn’t expect the original “cleansing” to be so easily reversible just two generations later.

            As long as nobody’s being ordered at gunpoint to leave the Bronx I have trouble calling it ethnic cleansing, but that’s just me.

          • Nornagest says:

            Those are lifetime prevalence numbers. There are certainly communities where ten or twenty percent of men are involved in habitual criminal behavior for some portion of their lives, usually the mid teens to mid twenties.

            They’re lifetime prevalence numbers for white people in Detroit, not white men. Given that a large majority of habitual criminals are men, to get a lifetime prevalence of ~18% in a mixed-gender community (again, assuming every habitual criminal gets shot at some point) you’d need about 35% of men. And since they’re usually young men, we’d either need about that percentage of young men to have been involved in criminal cultures over several decades, or even higher numbers for a shorter period of time.

            That seems implausible to me.

          • John Schilling says:

            There may be something wrong with John Schilling’s numbers, and It would be helpful if he could site a source.

            I’m on a different computer and couldn’t find all of the exact sources I used last time, so this reconstruction is a bit patchy.

            49 white people killed in Detroit in 2012.

            701,475 people lived in Detroit in 2012, and 7.79% of Detroit’s people were non-Hispanic whites in 2010.

            So, 49 / (0.0779 * 701475) = 0.0897% probability of a generic white person being killed in Detroit in an average year.

            Life expectancy of a white person born in Michigan in 2012, 78.7 years.

            Which gives a 7.1% lifetime probability of murder, but that’s for 2012 because 2012 was the last year for which I could easily find a racial breakdown of homicides. Detroit’s homicide rate has fallen by 22% in the past four years, so assuming no further changes that gives a bit over 5% lifetime homicide risk for white people in Detroit. And the ratio of shootings to homicides comes in at 4.25:1 in this source, which would be a 23% lifetime shooting risk.

            Digging into the details, same sources, the lifetime homicide rate for white vs black people in Detroit comes to 5.6% vs 5.3%. Anyone claiming ethnic cleansing on the basis of that 0.3%, deserves to be laughed at.

            Is the white homicide rate being driven by young white male drug dealers and their enforcers? If we assume that 52% of the white males in Detroit enter the drug trade at 15 and that 100% of those are shot by the time they are 24, that would about work. I’m skeptical.

          • LHN says:

            John Schilling: my immediate observation is that the pool of potential victims isn’t just residents. E.g., as of 2013, about 72% of the people who worked in Detroit (and are so available to be crime victims there) didn’t live there. Just based on the demographics of the region, a larger proportion of that 72% are likely to be white than residents. http://michiganeconomy.chicagofedblogs.org/?p=462

            I don’t know what the pattern of illegal activity is, but I at least wouldn’t be surprised if a fair fraction of people buying or selling drugs in Detroit, or engaging in other sorts of criminal enterprises that involve a heightened risk of murder, also don’t live there.

          • John Schilling says:

            My immediate observation is that the pool of potential victims isn’t just residents

            Good guess, but from my first cited source, 88% of Detroit’s homicides took place in a residential setting. That’s hard to square with white suburbanites being killed while they working in the city.

          • LHN says:

            Honest question (because I don’t know much about it): where does the drug industry generally operate? I have an impression of crack houses and meth labs operating in what would ostensibly be residential, but that’s more pop culture osmosis than anything.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Imagine getting a citation because your neighborhood wasn’t zoned for meth labs.

          • Corey says:

            @suntzuanime you now have me picturing turning HOA “lawn police” types loose on the drug trade, and I think that needs to be made into a sitcom.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            In my experience, pot dealers tend to do business in their mom’s basement. Crack dealers do business out of a normal-looking house up the street where cars with out-of-city plates keep coming and going. Fifteen years ago, they had an open-air crack market going on a large traffic island across from the liquor store, but gentrification.

            Meth dealers do business nowhere near me, I assume in trailer homes or perhaps some sort of barn.

            And one of the guys alleged to be a dealer in my neighborhood is in his 50s. Drug dealing doesn’t look like drug dealing.

        • Civilis says:

          Ferguson, MO was recently ethnically cleansed in a very violent process – but not a direct government one.

          Ethnic cleansing and violence have distinct and very serious meanings. Perhaps different, less loaded terms would work better. I’m fed up enough with people that think speech can be ‘violence’. ‘White flight’ and ‘gentrification’ are not ethnic cleansing.

          Yes, a number of American inner cities seem to be self-segregating along ethnic lines, and one of the reasons people are leaving some areas has to do with violent criminal behavior, but nobody is being forcibly relocated. This (the self-segregation, or perhaps balkanization, not the ‘not forcibly relocated’) is most definitely not a good thing. Detroit, Balitmore, and Newark are, by American standards, horrible places. (Washington D.C. has been, until recently, headed the other way, due to the increasing power of the bureaucracy and it’s hangers on). It’s also most definitely not ethnic cleansing, or genocide, or whatever.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Nobody is being forcibly relocated, they’ll just be shot if they stay.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            I am pretty sure Baltimore, Newark and Detroit aren’t quite as bad as Zimbabwe.

          • Civilis says:

            They’re at increased risk of violent crime if they stay. Nobody’s going to target them if they don’t move. And they’re at basically the same risk as members of the dominant ethnic group if they stay. The rioters that burned sections of Baltimore and Ferguson didn’t care whose property they burned and looted.

            Yes, violent crime is a bad thing. These aren’t safe places to live, and they should be. We should be worried that the balkanization of the city will further exacerbate ethnic tensions, making the problem even worse (and, eventually, maybe leading to real ethnic cleansing). But ‘people leaving because crime has gone up’ isn’t ethnic cleansing.

          • The Nybbler says:

            What if it turned out that the 1960s-70s race riots were a deliberate and successful attempt to drive white people out of the cities so black politicians could take them over? Would it be “ethnic cleansing” then?

          • Civilis has a point. I suggest we use a more nuanced term. How about hyper-extreme white “double Holocaust” genocide cleansing?

          • Civilis says:

            What if it turned out that the 1960s-70s race riots were a deliberate and successful attempt to drive white people out of the cities so black politicians could take them over? Would it be “ethnic cleansing” then?

            Ok, dictionary definitions of ethnic cleansing:

            “the mass expulsion or killing of members of an unwanted ethnic or religious group in a society.”
            “the expulsion, imprisonment, or killing of an ethnic minority by a dominant majority in order to achieve ethnic homogeneity”
            “the systematic forced removal of ethnic or religious groups from a given territory by a more powerful ethnic group, with the intent of making it ethnically homogeneous”

            If it really was a deliberate plot by Democratic politicians (a la the 70s ‘we need to make things bad to trigger a revolution’) I could see it described as ethnic cleansing even if it’s not forced expulsion. I could see arguing that some of the 60s-70s radicals would have committed ethnic cleansing of their neighborhoods if they could have gotten away with it. I could even see arguing that Progressives on some college campuses have tried to ‘ethnically cleanse’ their colleges if you’re willing to allow me to define ‘the right’ as an ethnic group for this purpose, which I could even argue is probably the best way to look at it. Americans now divide more by political tribes than ethnic groups, from some of the studies I’ve read about.

            Outside of the recent political protests at Berkeley, I don’t think any of the recent bouts of collective violence in the inner city have been targeted on any group. They may use politics as a cover, but the goal is to smash stuff and loot things. They’re not picking and choosing who they hit.

          • John Schilling says:

            Nobody is being forcibly relocated, they’ll just be shot if they stay.

            An average non-Hispanic white person living in Detroit for their entire life has an 18% chance of being shot and a 5% chance of being murdered. This is an unusual definition of “they will be…” that you are using. Insofar as the risk is largely independent of ethnicity, it is also an unusual definition of “ethnic cleansing”. One could argue that Detroit is being cleansed, full stop, but that process appears to be tapering off.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Civils

            About recent targeting of white people during mass violence:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB5lirVJtwE

          • cassander says:

            @The Nybbler says:

            >What if it turned out that the 1960s-70s race riots were a deliberate and successful attempt to drive white people out of the cities so black politicians could take them over? Would it be “ethnic cleansing” then

            You don’t need the hypothetical. Most big US cities saw deliberate attempts by various city governments to drive people out of their cities. Which ethnic groups did the driving and which groups got driven varied from city to city, but driving freeways through the neighborhoods of your rival ethnics was standard practice.

          • Civilis says:

            About recent targeting of white people during mass violence:

            There’s a difference between some of the rioters choosing targets of opportunity based on ‘they’re not part of our group’ and deliberately making a specific group the target of the riot, as in Kristallnacht.

            I worry about my overly precise definition, as I don’t know if Kristallnacht even qualifies as ethnic cleansing under a strict definition of the term (it was most definitely a harbinger of the ethnic cleansing to come later, but we’re looking at it as if it were an isolated event). It’s a good self-test for whether the definitions I’m using work, as it’s definitely ethnically targeted violence, the question is whether it counts as expulsion or forced removal. Certainly, I’m not pedantic enough to argue with someone that says Kristallnacht was ethnic cleansing.

            However, Baltimore and Ferguson weren’t Kristallnacht or even “hyper-extreme white ‘double Holocaust’ genocide cleansing”. I don’t mean to say that what’s been happening in the inner cities is a good thing; it’s serious, and we need to work to stop it from happening.

            I probably should apologize for being a bit over sensitive here. I just think a lot of serious words get overused in a dangerous fashion, even sometimes by people I otherwise agree with. Because of a tiny group of idiots throwing similar phrases around, we right now have a larger group of idiots that thinks it’s perfectly okay to assault just about anyone on the right side of the political spectrum, and so it’s made me a bit touchy.

    • hyperboloid says:

      Out in one of the more Alt-Right areas I frequent, they’re claiming that the more “establishment” republicans are going to have to join the “Royalists” (as they call the Congresspeople supporting “God-Emperor Trump”, a title they’re increasingly taking seriously

      You have to understand that the kind of political views that you subscribe to are held by a percentage of the American public that can be safely rounded down to zero. There simply are no royalists.

      And disseminating paranoid fantasies that rabid hordes of social justice warriors are planning some kind of night of the long knives under president Elizabeth Warren is not going to change that.

      Trump himself might be willing to accept the job of emperor, but that’s based on nothing other then greed and a pathological need for self glorification. If anybody else was offered the job he would be the first to speak out against it as abrogation of the American democratic tradition, as it is likely not in his commercial interest to conduct business under a dictatorship not run by him or his close allies.

      You keep confusing what most Americans mean when they say “Conservative”, with the kind of politics you believe in. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of the American right believes in some form of the legacy of the American revolution. Even the most explicitly racist elements just want to narrow the circle of political participation to exclusively include “whites”, not burn down the entire system of American democracy.

      Outside of a bizarre tiny Internet bubble, there is no possible base of political support for a movement to install anybody as a monarch, or dictator, of any kind. The people who hold the real power over violence in our country, that is to say the United States military, take their oaths to the constitution very seriously. There is no Ceaser, Sulla, Franco, or Pinochet waiting in the wings to cleanse society of the leftist scourge. And it is an infantile fantasy to believe otherwise.

    • Leit says:

      Don’t read the comments.
      Do not read the comments at alt-right sites.
      The comments section is virtually guaranteed to be a dumpster fire in reactor four.
      Even so, the couple of places I’m familiar with would have to have gone sharply downhill for this sort of thing to become something more than a signalling exercise/fantasy.

      • Corey says:

        something more than a signalling exercise/fantasy

        I think that’s a general problem with intellectually-monocultural places: yesterday’s signalling exercise is today’s group-consensus position, then it’s tomorrow’s minimum-required-for-membership position. Trolls make this effect worse.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Trolls make this effect worse

          If I were to troll alt-right sites, I would absolutely do it by screaming about how The Left is trying to murder us all.

    • James Miller says:

      Before answering this question you have to answer why this kind of thing almost never happens in democracies and then try to figure out if next time will be different.

    • rlms says:

      Don’t listen to everyone else, it sounds pretty plausible to me.

    • dndnrsn says:

      There are elements of the right that worry about left-wing death squads and elements of the left that worry about right-wing death squads. Both are convinced that their opponents want to do things that will destroy society; many seem convinced their opponents are omnipotent or close to it. They can’t both be right, and I suspect neither are. Me, I think that what ends up destroying society is gonna be something we don’t see coming.

      • suntzuanime says:

        I think the hardcore on either side would be willing to pull out the death squads under the right circumstances, I just don’t think we’re a single election away from it.

  19. Deiseach says:

    It’s not a proper conspiracy theory until the Vatican is mentioned, and here at long last it is!

    Okay, before I start, does the New York Times retain any credibility as a newspaper, much less ‘the paper of record’, when it comes to He Who Must Not Be Named and his administration? This is the kind of tinfoil hat coverage I expect to see on websites that start off in red capital letters about how THE ANTI-CHRIST REVEALED: THE ROMAN CHURCH IS THE WHORE OF BABYLON AND THE POPE IS THE MAN OF BLOOD and then goes on to spill the beans about the New World Order, how the Jesuits founded both the Communist Party and the Nazis, and the Jews only think they’re pulling the strings because the Vatican is pulling their strings.

    Now, as a Catholic, this is the kind of story you read where a stringer in Rome has had an agreeable luncheon with one of the many clergy in the Vatican bureaucracy who, as long as your paper is paying the expenses, will be quite happy to give you a story about the real inside scoop. Some of it may even be accurate. Generally, though, the paper doesn’t name names of sources and isn’t as upfront about the menu for the pleasant tête-à-tête as the Times’ story here –

    Mr. Harnwell said over a lunch of cannelloni.

    Reading through the story (I’ve waded through it so you don’t have to unless you’re feeling in need of some suffering), we get a lot about Mr Harnwell. A lot. He certainly doesn’t seem to be encumbered by hiding his light under a bushel, nor shy about bigging himself up on his own website via approving quotes (allegedly) by Steve Bannon.

    That the guy is a huge Bannon fan? Very likely. That Steve Bannon knows him from a hole in the ground? No idea, or at least not in other than the most cursory “I want to get a Breitbart reporter covering the Vatican beat, who can help me do that?” fashion.

    Anyway, to get to the meat of the story (and very lean it is too), the tie-up between Harnwell, Bannon and the Vatican is that Bannon is (allegedly, we only have Harnwell’s word for all of this) linking up with Cardinal Raymond Burke, and Harnwell is the guy who introduced them.

    Now, I’m fairly sure this name means nothing to most of you. But if you’ve been following the fluttering in the dovecotes during Francis’ reign, Cardinal Burke is an American cardinal, formerly Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (basically the judiciary of the Catholic Church) and on the conservative wing. He’s “clashed” with Francis most notably over Amoris Laetitia – anyway, let’s just skip the inside baseball and say that if Francis is perceived by the media as a cuddly liberal who is going to drag the Church into line with the present-day Zeitgeist, Burke is the opposite of that.

    Okay, so if you want to talk up a conservative conspiracy where Trump (or rather Bannon) is plotting with Elements Within The Vatican to overthrow or undercut the Reforming Pope, then sure, Burke is the guy you’ll pick.

    On the other hand – Burke is a traditionalist. Bannon is a three-times divorcé who probably hasn’t darkened the door of a church since his kids were christened. This is not the kind of ally someone who is seriously dubious about Amoris Laetitia is going to cultivate, in other words. All we are going on here is Harnwell’s word and I think you should take it as seriously as any other “an inside source at the Vatican told our reporter” story, which is that both parties had a nice meal and a chat in pleasant surroundings and this is what was produced to justify the expenses claim.

    Anyway, for a conspiracy theory, they missed the perfect ingredient! Cardinal Burke is Patron (he’s been demoted, or it’s being presented as a demotion, by moving him from the Signatura to this) of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (this video gets it hilariously wrong in every detail but it’s the kind of thing I mean about juicy conspiracy theorising).

    The Order of Malta. The successors (well – it’s tangled, various organisations are going around claiming to be the real or the only true successors) of the Knights Hospitaller. Sure, it’s not the Templars, but it’s nearly as good!

    Cardinal Burke who is head (okay, no he’s not the head but come on, petty details) of his own private army within the Church allying with Bannon and Trump in a pro-anti-Muslim, anti-Pope Francis internal coup – how could they have missed that angle?

    Swiss Guard versus the Order of Malta – place your bets now! 🙂

    • Loquat says:

      Combining this with some of the paranoia above, I am forced to conclude that Burke is going to use Order of Malta commandos to carry out a coup in the US and turn us into the revived Holy Roman Empire with Trump as Emperor, to forestall the otherwise-inevitable coup by leftists that would result in the mass execution of every political figure to the right of Hillary Clinton. It’s the only thing that makes sense!

      • John Schilling says:

        My only regret is that we couldn’t have done this in 1950 or thereabouts, when the Order of Malta aka Knights Hospitaller had an actual strategic bomber force. This was the same era that the International Red Cross operated a munitions factory, so the leftists won’t be left totally outgunned in the War of the Militant Pacifists.

        (The boring version: Things that might be interpreted as ex-Axis military assets but with utility to the civilian postwar economy get parked with custodians of unimpeachably peaceful intentions to reassure everyone that they aren’t secretly gearing up for WW2.1)

    • The Order of Malta. The successors (well – it’s tangled, various organisations are going around claiming to be the real or the only true successors) of the Knights Hospitaller. Sure, it’s not the Templars, but it’s nearly as good!

      What do you mean “nearly”? The Knights of Malta, aka the Knights of St. John, were the Christian equivalent of the Barbary Corsairs, organized piracy on a large scale. To minimize competition, the two firms had a simple rule for market division. The Corsairs only targeted Christian ships, the Knights only Muslim ships. That aside, their systems were pretty similar.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        THE KNIGHTS OF SAINT JOHN!?!
        (the knights of saint john!)

      • Deiseach says:

        I meant “nearly as good for conspiracy theory purposes”. Everyone and their dog drags the Templars into their conspiracy (Dan Brown, Assassins’ Creed, you name it) but the only pop culture reference to the Order of Malta I can think of off-hand is “The Maltese Falcon”.

        Clearly they are an untapped source for future conspiring 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        What do you mean “nearly”? The Knights of Malta, aka the Knights of St. John, were the Christian equivalent of the Barbary Corsairs, organized piracy on a large scale. To minimize competition, the two firms had a simple rule for market division. The Corsairs only targeted Christian ships, the Knights only Muslim ships. That aside, their systems were pretty similar.

        Did the Knights of Malta also raid Muslim coasts for slaves and loot?

      • The original Mr. X says:

        To minimize competition, the two firms had a simple rule for market division. The Corsairs only targeted Christian ships, the Knights only Muslim ships.

        Yeah, I mean, it’s not like a crusading order and members of a religion whose leader commanded them to wage war against infidels could have had any other reason to target the other religion’s people.

        • John Schilling says:

          Was there a command from the Pope to generally wage war against Muslims after the last of the Crusader States fell in 1291? The Crusades themselves were IIRC fairly specific in their targeting.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think he’s talking about jihad there. As in “one party is Crusaders, the other party is Jihadis targeting everyone else”.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            What Anonymous said. My point was that using ideas like “market division” and “avoiding competition”, as if the Hospitallers and Corsairs were modern firms competing for market share, just seems like a weird and anachronistic way of explaining why the Knights enslaved Muslims and the Corsairs enslaved Christians. The fact that enslaving enemies was a common part of warfare in this period, and that both sides were at war against the other, seems a much more adequate explanation.

    • suntzuanime says:

      On the other hand – Burke is a traditionalist. Bannon is a three-times divorcé who probably hasn’t darkened the door of a church since his kids were christened. This is not the kind of ally someone who is seriously dubious about Amoris Laetitia is going to cultivate, in other words.

      You don’t gotta give somebody communion to conspire with them. Catholics don’t really go in for the “oh, impure sinner, must never interact with them in any way” deal as much as some religions do.

      • Deiseach says:

        If I, a cardinal, have come to hair-pulling with the pope over his Exhortation on marriage and the family in regard to re-admitting the divorced to Communion, I’m going to have to do some very fast talking to explain how I’m cosying up to a guy who is on Divorce Number Three currently 🙂

        I’m giving Cardinal Burke the credit that he does believe what he claims to believe and is not just cynically peddling a line for the rubes that he doesn’t care about when it comes to getting power for himself (e.g. the way Republican candidates have used the pro-life vote and then done little to nothing when they get into office because pragmatically it’s more trouble than they’re willing to take on for the level of reward they’d get). There’s a lot of politics in religion, sure, but not all religion is politics plain and simple.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Jesus broke bread with prostitutes, I don’t see why you can’t conspire against the Pope with a divorcé. We’re not called upon to totally shun the divorced or anything.

          • Deiseach says:

            If your point of departure with the pope is that he is too liberal about relaxing the restrictions around marriage and that letting people divorce, re-marry and be re-admitted to the sacraments without the necessity of (a) annulment (b) penance and change of life, then it’s hypocrisy at best to link up with someone who’s a lapsed Catholic who divorced, remarried, divorced again, remarried again, and divorced once more. It sounds as if you don’t care for the principle, you’re only interesting in enforcing rules for no reason other than they give you power.

            You know, all the old Protestant canards about priestcraft.

            What, in this putative union of Trump and/or Bannon with Burke, is the end that they wish to achieve? The story in the NYT seems to boil down to: they’re both anti-Muslim bigots who want to work together to ensure Muslim immigration is halted and reversed. So as far as the reporter is concerned, Burke’s fight with Francis has nothing to do with anything like “he really does believe the doctrines on sacramental marriage”, it’s down to anti-Muslim sentiment, which is why he can link up with Bannon, who also is a white supremacist shares anti-Muslim sentiment.

            If (for the sake of exaggeration) we take it that Burke wants a theocratic America where the Catholic Church rules, he’s not going to get it via Bannon, who quite plainly isn’t bothered about keeping Church laws. For that reason alone, making an ally and making agreements with Bannon is foolish. Unless we take the view of the paper, which is more or less “yeah yeah, we know the religious guff is only a cover story, the real thing both these guys have in common is right-wing politics and anti-Muslim bigotry”.

            I’m saying I don’t believe the story because (a) there is only one source quoted who seems to be more interested in making himself out to be this influential mover and shaker with contacts on both the Vatican and the White House side (b) I think Burke genuinely is concerned about the sacrament of matrimony which is why he wanted the dubia on Amoris Laetitia (c) I don’t think Burke is motivated by white supremacist anti-Muslim right-wing politics but most importantly

            (d) mostly because it reads like a conspiracy out of a Dan Brown novel, not real journalism. It’s lazy work.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I agree that Burke would be a hypocrite if, after fighting with the Pope about letting divorcees remarry, he then married Bannon. Somehow I don’t think that’s on the table, so I don’t see a more platonic form of “linking up” with him as any sort of violation of his principles.

            The story seems unbelievable for other reasons, but it’s not implausible that a priest would work with a sinner. That’s sort of their job description.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            You know, all the old Protestant canards about priestcraft.

            Is Priestcraft more like Minecraft, or World of Warcraft? Either way, I think we’ve solved the vocations crisis.

            And is Protestant a class and canard a race, or the other way around? What special abilities does a canard have?

  20. IrishDude says:

    Carrying over a conversation from the other thread, I’d like to get thoughts on:
    1) Do you think most people mostly treat others peacefully?
    2) If yes to 1), do you think this is mostly due to fear of consequences from police/going to jail or due to other reasons?
    3) If you think it’s mostly due to other reasons, what do you think are the most salient reasons that people treat others peacefully?

    • The Nybbler says:

      1) In the US, obviously, yes

      2) Mostly other reasons.

      3) Most people don’t want to get into a confrontation that they might lose, or if they win might cost them more than they would win. Acting peaceably is usually easier and pays off better. Of course there are exceptions, and in those cases fear of official consequences enters into it.

      • IrishDude says:

        What particular costs do you think are most likely to occur when a person engages in confrontation, even if he/she wins, other than official consequences?

        • The Nybbler says:

          You can get injured. Your property can be damaged. Your time will be spent. You can gain a general reputation for being violent/confrontational, which has both costs and benefits. Separately and more specifically, you can motivate revenge by the person you won over or their friends and family.

          • IrishDude says:

            How much do you think this cost is pertinent: A person who engages in violence against others will think poorly of themselves afterwards. In other words, how much do you think conscience plays a role in restraining violent behavior?

          • The Nybbler says:

            I think conscience is likely to stop many people from engaging in planned and premeditated violence. But there are plenty of people who either are without conscience or who do not find some types of violence to bother theirs. And I think it’s the first thing to go in the heat of the moment.

        • Deiseach says:

          What particular costs do you think are most likely to occur when a person engages in confrontation, even if he/she wins, other than official consequences?

          A punch in the face? We had an exchange in the comments on a past thread over someone who, when dared by a drunken idiot to “Make me” when he wouldn’t stop acting like a clown, hit him – to the shock of the idiot and his friends, who plainly didn’t come from a culture where they expected any consequences from challenging someone other than backing down and clearing off, certainly not the possibility of physical retaliation.

          Not everybody comes from a culture/background where, if you act like a jackass and challenge people to stop you acting like a jackass, you can continue to act like a jackass secure in the knowledge that everyone is too polite to use force.

          This has its ups and downs – I do come from a culture/background where if you act like a blackguard and then follow that up with a challenge, you had better be prepared to back that up with your fists. For non-blackguards the rule tends to be: Don’t hit first, but if you do get hit, you can choose to hit back and that doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on your character.

          The downside of that is that someone who is physically aggressive can dominate and even instill fear in a neighbourhood/grouping well beyond their actual importance, because nobody wants to get into a fight with a violent person and have them gather up their family and come break in your windows and doors (another reason I am less than impressed with the Berkeley students and ex-students defending the black bloc re: property damage on the grounds that windows don’t feel pain – for all their chirruping about their deprived/oppressed backgrounds, plainly they haven’t lived where the possibility of having your windows smashed and your door kicked in by the violent, and being assaulted yourself, is an actual threat).

          • Cypren says:

            The distinction you’re pointing to is the key difference between the honor and dignity cultures so well described in Campbell and Manning’s “Microaggressions and Moral Cultures” (summary at the link). The wealthier classes in Western society are living in a dignity culture; the poorer classes (and much of the rest of the world) are living in an honor culture. When the two meet, there are frequently sparks and a lot of surprise.

            There’s a great piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates that I’m utterly failing at finding a link for (if anyone knows what I’m talking about, please link me! I’d love to read it again!) where he talks about his experience acculturating to upper-class professional culture, having grown up in the Baltimore ghetto. He recounts an incident where he got into an argument with someone at a political convention and almost escalated it to physical violence, but his boss pulled him back from the edge and gave him a sharp lecture of the “what the fuck do you think you were doing? You were about to throw your whole life away!” variety. He talks about what a sudden realization that was about how completely different the rules and assumptions of upper class society are from lower class, and how they don’t mix well at all.

          • Iain says:

            Pretty sure this is the TNC article in question.

          • Cypren says:

            Thanks, that was exactly it! Absolutely great piece. It resonated with me a lot as someone who also grew up spanning two cultures and still has trouble respecting all of the norms of each in context.

          • Aapje says:

            I wish that bell hooks would read (and understand) that article, because she assumes that all men are taught honor culture to the same extent as her friends and family.

    • Randy M says:

      Do you count things like fraud, shop-lifting, petty theft, as violence for this question, or only assault & battery/muggings on up?

      • IrishDude says:

        Mostly thinking of physical force like assault/rape/murder/armed robbery, but I’d include fraud, shop-lifting, and petty theft as well.

        • Randy M says:

          Then yes, out of a mix of official consequences and reputation, with a significant fraction who behave peacefully/honorable out of moral conviction.

          In other words, I think most people do not steal/lie because they don’t think they could get away with it; if everyone thought that they could get away with it, but it wasn’t yet a widespread practice, you’d probably see a majority (65%?) engage in opportunistic theft (maybe violence up to intimidation, shoving in crowds, etc.) with the rest abstaining due to conviction, but overtime the participants increase as the hold-outs see honor as a “sucker’s game”.

          Assuming there isn’t a sort of arms race in consequences, possibly including mafia like organizations to keep businesses profitable if we posit authorities are unable to inflict lawful consequences.

        • Wrong Species says:

          This is my problem with the Non-Aggression Principle. Libertarians like to play the definition game where things they like are defined as non-violent. If I decide to use force to oust a trespasser, I may be in the right but I’m still using violence against a peaceful person. If you want to claim the moral high ground, you have to say that it’s also wrong to use violence against property crimes.

          • gbdub says:

            I don’t think the libertarian position is “shooting a trespasser is nonviolent”. Rather, property being a right, property crimes are themselves violence and justify a violent response.

          • Wrong Species says:

            My point is that calling property crimes “violent” is torturing the use of the word. It redefines the common meaning so they can say they aren’t initiating violence.

            It also smuggles in a libertarian conception of legitimacy. That’s why the state making you property taxes is violent but a landlord making you pay rent isn’t.

          • IrishDude says:

            To clarify, my OP was trying to get at: do most people treat each other decently, and if so, what are the primary causes of this. Being peaceful (non-violent) is one way we treat each other decently and I used this specific term in my OP, but respecting other people’s property is also treating people decently and so I was curious about Randy’s thoughts inclusive of that as well.

            I think violence can be used justly and unjustly, and am not a pacifist, for the record.

          • gbdub says:

            Are you saying that calling e.g. a riot that destroys a storefront “violent” is torturing the common meaning? Because I feel like that’s a fairly standard interpretation of “violence”, and calling it “peaceful” would be a greater warping of common usage.

            That’s why the state making you property taxes is violent but a landlord making you pay rent isn’t.

            This is another poor interpretation of libertarian principles.

            In the case of the landlord, rent is what you pay for the use of the landlord’s property, according to a contract you both agreed to presumably non-coercively. Thus, not theft.

            Taxes are the state taking your property according to laws which you are coerced to abide by. Thus theft. Unless you believe that all property belongs to the state, but that’s where libertarians and socialists differ.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Wrong Species –

            Communication error.

            It may help if you substitute something like “unilateral non-consensual action”. There are other subtleties about societal consent – consider the difference between yelling in someone’s face versus talking quietly to them, in either case without their consent; the fact that we treat one as marginally violent and not the other suggests something like a social contract of consent.

            You will find the libertarian concept of violence is closer to common understanding than a strict definition. They handle, for example, BDSM much better, as well as non-consensual acts of social-level intimacy, like hugging.

            Sort of. They lean heavily on social contracts, which libertarians would ordinarily claim to be against. Any libertarians around who can clear that up for me? Why do social norms matter vis a vis violence?

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Gdub

            Rioting isn’t violent because it involves property damage but because the way people go about doing it. If you believe that me stepping on to your property without your express permission is a violent act, then yes, you are using a highly nonstandard definition of violent. If you choose to use violence to keep me away, you may be in the right. But you are still the one initiating violence.

            In the case of the landlord, rent is what you pay for the use of the landlord’s property, according to a contract you both agreed to presumably non-coercively. Thus, not theft.

            Taxes are the state taking your property according to laws which you are coerced to abide by. Thus theft. Unless you believe that all property belongs to the state, but that’s where libertarians and socialists differ.

            I’m not a socialist but I don’t really see a difference in principle. A landlord can make you do what he wants. The state can make you do what it wants. In an anarcho-capitalist world, these people would be one and the same. So when the ancap says they want to get rid of the state’s monopoly on violence, all they are really doing is shifting that right from what we call the state to the individual property owners. It’s a shift from political authority to absolute propertarian authority.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @thegnskald

            Are you suggesting that a duel is non-violent? After all, they both consent to shoot each other.

          • random832 says:

            @gbdub

            In the case of the landlord, rent is what you pay for the use of the landlord’s property, according to a contract you both agreed to presumably non-coercively. Thus, not theft.

            I was going to say something about it being the state’s property, which the “landlord” rents, but I see you’ve already gone there later in your comment, but attributed it to socialism (seems more feudal to me – the difference between allodial title, which is only held by the state, and fee simple, which is what everyone else has)

            Taxes are the state taking your property according to laws which you are coerced to abide by. Thus theft. Unless you believe that all property belongs to the state, but that’s where libertarians and socialists differ.

            I’m not sure how it’s measurably different, from your perspective, from all property in the world belonging to private owners who won’t sell it to you at any price, and therefore you must pay rent to (and obey rules imposed by) one or another of them in order to exist.

            Add to that the fact that you don’t have the automatic right to move elsewhere, and it begins to look a lot like feudalism. So maybe states are just a natural consequence of property. A state is just a very large landlord (or homeowner’s association), and the whole map is covered with them, and the common people (serfs, if you will) are born with no real property and no ability to obtain it.

          • gbdub says:

            @Wrong Species
            First, I’m not really a strict libertarian, and I’m not someone who goes around saying “taxation is theft!”. I’m mostly objecting to what I perceived to be your overly glib interpretation of libertarian theories on violence.

            A landlord can make you do what he wants.

            No, a landlord can make you do what you agreed to do when you contracted with them for use of their property

            You seem to be ignoring the issue of consent here – and that’s the rub! If I voluntarily enter into a lease, my landlord is hardly being violent by expecting me to honor the terms of that lease.

            random832 raises an interesting point that a sufficiently monopolistic landlord might wield state-like coercive powers in a quasi-feudal way. So certainly “coercion” exists on a continuum.

            But likewise “violence” is a continuum, and I don’t think it’s inherently silly to call trespassing “violent”, it’s just a minor form of violence.

            I don’t want to speak for libertarians, but certainly I’m on board with proportionality in response to violence, and in remedies for victims of violence. So I wouldn’t say it’s open season on someone who just steps on my land. At the same time, if I physically toss the trespassing dude out after asking them to leave, I don’t want him to have a legal/moral defense of “I was just sitting here peacefully and he violently assaulted me!” The trespasser is ultimately the initiator of bad behavior, not the landowner asserting their property right.

          • Wrong Species says:

            You can define violence however you like. But everyone else believes that violence is some variation of “rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment”. So when you say that libertarians don’t believe in initiating violence, it’s a bait and switch where you say one thing and mean something else. Based off the common definition of violence, you are initiating violence against the trespasser. Based off your own idiosyncratic definition, it’s whatever you want it to be. But just think how ridiculous that is. If I have been told to leave a property by the landlord and I’m sleeping there, you insist my act of sleeping in a room by myself with no one around me is an act of violence. Or maybe I’m trespassing without knowledge of doing so. You believe that by walking around, I’m committing violence against the owner. No matter how ridiculous it is though, libertarians in general will keep using this definition because they know that replacing it with a more appropriate word loses its rhetorical punch. It’s dishonest.

            The trespasser is ultimately the initiator of bad behavior, not the landowner asserting their property right.

            I agree. But violence isn’t the same thing as breaking property rules.

            Now to the “consent” of property. We do have consent with states, it’s called immigration. But what about people who live in one state for their whole life? Imagine that you grew up in one house and you never left. At what point did you consent to the rules of the landlord?

          • The usual libertarian category is “initiation of coercion” or “initiation of force.” It isn’t coercion if it is mutually agreed to, as in a duel. It isn’t initiation if it is a response to someone else initiating coercion against you, as in responding with force to an attacker.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Wrong Species –

            It is violence in the same sense that boxing or rugby are.

            Words can mean different things. They can even mean different things to different people.

            I would shoot somebody if they broke into my house. I would regard them as initiating the situation, more – they have created a scenario where my only options to rectify the situation are violence, either my own or outsourced to the police.

            I don’t see the use of playing definitional rule-lawyering. In our society there is an implicit threat of violence behind damage to property, and ignoring that to make some kind of pseudo-leftist point doesn’t hold any value, particularly given the long-standing principles behind many variants of leftism which hold that property itself is violence. If you don’t understand why leftists would hold that, you don’t understand what property is.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            [Libertarians] lean heavily on social contracts, which libertarians would ordinarily claim to be against. Any libertarians around who can clear that up for me? Why do social norms matter vis a vis violence?

            Putting on my libertarian hat: social norms aren’t special. They’re just a non-physical tool that has proven to save time and effort when resolving disputes. They’re not mandated (coerced through force), but you can expect everyone to look at you funny if you eschew social norms in a libertarian setting, for the same reason you’d get looks if you insisted on splitting firewood with a pocketknife.

            Or, to put a sharper point on it, if you insisted on poor tools when employing your trade with other people. A libertarian would claim you have every right to split wood with a pocketknife, but would not wish to buy firewood from you. Likewise, you have every right to speak menacingly (yelling in someone’s face can be physically unpleasant, so let’s suppose it’s just being growly and insulting, say), but no one’s going to seek conversation with you in that case. Like I said, nothing special; these are the normal reasons anyone would reject anyone who rejected social norms, libertarian or not.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @thegnskald

            See my reply to gdub. I don’t know what you think I believe but I’m no leftist. I agree that the trespasser is in the wrong. My point is that it’s fundamentally dishonest to make up your own idiosyncratic definition without being upfront about it. Look at this conversation with a hypothetical socialist:

            “I don’t believe in initiating violence”
            “Then why did you hit him?”
            “Because hateful words are a form of violence”
            “…”

            If you agree with me that what the socialist is saying is dishonest then you should admit that saying libertarians don’t believe in the “initiation of violence” is also dishonest.

            @David
            Why is it a coercive act for the government to demand property taxes but not for the landlord to demand rent?

          • John Schilling says:

            It isn’t initiation if it is a response to someone else initiating coercion against you

            So who is “initiating coercion” when a policeman, private security contractor, or concerned citizen tries to pull over the idiot who insists on driving 100 mph through a residential neighborhood?

            If the answer leads to a conclusion that we have to let people drive at 100 mph through residential neighborhoods until they actually hit someone. then liberty or at least libertarianism is DOA. If the answer is that driving 100 mph through a residential neighborhood “coerces” the residents to accept an unwanted risk, then you are on a slippery slope to everything even slightly dangerous and unpopular being prohibited.

            I see far too many libertarians trying to draw lines on the more cliff-like portions of that slope and saying “but obviously we should stop sliding here, because liberty”, to the point where I no longer consider the NAP to be useful guidance.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:
            IANALibertarian.

            But isn’t the answer to your scenario that the road will be privately owned and that people will choose to buy their property and build their homes adjacent to roads that don’t allow this? And that people accessing that private road have to abide by the contract which allows them access? (Well, at least the AnCappers).

            I mean, I think that private roads are unworkable for other reasons, perhaps best summed up as “network effects”, but, you know, that’s just me.

          • John Schilling says:

            That’s more of an anarcho-capitalist rather than general libertarian answer, and it’s not readily traceable to anything we can build out of our present society where most of the roads aren’t privately owned.

            It also has the problem of, gee, I just bought the roads on all four sides of your house, and my price for ever letting you leave or anyone ever bringing a scrap of food in is everything you own plus a twenty-year sexual slavery contract on your teenage daughter. If I catch you setting foot on the road without permission, that’s Initiation of Force, just like it would be for the guy driving the fast car, and my men will defend my property against your nefarious aggression with these nifty pain rays that we bought from the now-defunct military.

            I suspect that Homo Economicus, practicing perfect game theory against a player whose lust for their teenage daughter was quantitatively rational, could probably avoid that outcome at some lesser cost, but that’s not terribly reassuring.

          • IrishDude says:

            @John Schilling

            So who is “initiating coercion” when a policeman, private security contractor, or concerned citizen tries to pull over the idiot who insists on driving 100 mph through a residential neighborhood?

            I think it’s relevant who owns the roads the idiot is driving through. If it’s a neighborhood owned by adult race car drivers that signed an agreement to allow severely high speed limits and the ensuing higher risk to person and property, then I wouldn’t say those abiding those rules were coercing the inhabitants, and those trying to stop the speedy guy going 100 mph would be initiating coercion.

            If it’s the typical neighborhood owned by families with kids who post 25 mph lower speed limits, then they don’t consent to the increased risks of high speed limits and are coerced by the speeder who inflicts much higher risk of harm on them. The people stopping the speeder would by using retaliatory justified coercion.

            It matters greatly what people consent to when determining whether something is coercive. And sometimes coercion is justified and sometimes it’s not.

          • IrishDude says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I think that private roads are unworkable for other reasons, perhaps best summed up as “network effects”, but, you know, that’s just me.

            Here’s a list of private highways in the U.S..

            Business complexes could privately own their roads, either by a single real estate developer that owns it all and leases out space, or a joint ownership by all the business owners on the complex. Same for residential real estate.

            You can have private roads where people live, where they work, and in the spaces between those two spots. You can have private roads on private nature reservations and the roads to get to them to. You can connect cities with private roads.

            All the above private roads can be restrictive or open to all, depending on the owner(s) wishes. I see this situation working pretty well for the most part, with some potential edge cases to work out.

          • IrishDude says:

            @John Schilling

            It also has the problem of, gee, I just bought the roads on all four sides of your house, and my price for ever letting you leave or anyone ever bringing a scrap of food in is everything you own plus a twenty-year sexual slavery contract on your teenage daughter. If I catch you setting foot on the road without permission, that’s Initiation of Force, just like it would be for the guy driving the fast car, and my men will defend my property against your nefarious aggression with these nifty pain rays that we bought from the now-defunct military.

            I don’t think I know anyone who thinks private property is inviolable. I think easements can be a reasonable restriction on private property rights, depending on the circumstances of the case. Certainly in the scenario you describe I think it would be justified for the surrounded person to violate the consent of the highway owner by moving across his land to get to the rest of society. I think it likely that a reasonable private arbitrator would come to that same conclusion if such a case went to court.

            EDIT: I just thought of what I think is an interesting analogy to your example. Modern states engage in a public version of your private tyranny through the use of border controls, where people get trapped in countries with very corrupt governments and widespread destitution, not allowed to leave by the surrounding countries, no matter the price paid. So, similar to how I think it’s just to violate the consent of the horrid private highway owner, I consider it just to illegally immigrate.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @IrishDude:
            The roadway network in America is decidedly not private. Even in 1795, when that first turnpike was built, it was not the only road, and the network that it connected to was not private.

            So pointing at the fact that some private roads exist, which I knew and my argument does not depend on, doesn’t mean anything.

            John Schilling already made the argument about the kind of thing that can happen if you allow your property to be surrounded and therefore made potentially inaccessible. Some private equity firm starts scooping up the right roads, and squeezing people really hard.

          • John Schilling says:

            I think it likely that a reasonable private arbitrator would come to that same conclusion if such a case went to court

            But now you’re just arguing that libertarian policies are awesome because anything that isn’t awesome will obviously be deemed unreasonable in court for mumble reasons, which is hardly an improvement over the NAP as policy guidance.

          • rahien.din says:

            @IrishDude, JohnSchilling

            Re: controlling roads to control the people served by the roads

            It’s no hypothetical. Federal agencies have done this exact thing. When they want people off their land, they may try to condemn the only roads leading to the people’s homes. The example I am aware of, kid-you-not, is to expand a protected wetland area and aid duck migrations.

            I wish I could give you a good source. Suffice to say that when a friend of mine worked on the Hill, she helped write a bill to combat this practice.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Why is it ok when a private organization owns the roads and charges people for its access but not when the government does so? Why is it that I’m “consenting” to his fees but not the governments?

          • IrishDude says:

            @HeelBearCub

            You say: “I think that private roads are unworkable for other reasons, perhaps best summed up as “network effects”, but, you know, that’s just me.”

            I noted that private roads do and have existed, so they seem to me they can clearly work.

            You say: “The roadway network in America is decidedly not private.”

            I understand the way things are, but private roads do exist and can therefore ‘work’. Perhaps it would help if you would describe more what you mean about private roads not being workable.

            John Schilling already made the argument about the kind of thing that can happen if you allow your property to be surrounded and therefore made potentially inaccessible.

            And I made a counter-argument. I don’t consider private property inviolable and don’t know anyone else who does, with easements under certain conditions being the kind of things I think likely to hold up in private arbitration. And that, well, nation states already act this way against people living against their border, with observed really negative effects on those people that are trapped, so I don’t find government control of property to be a necessarily good alternative.

            Some private equity firm starts scooping up the right roads, and squeezing people really hard.

            Aside from private property being something I don’t consider inviolable, if you are describing a situation where a firm tried to increase their profits by raising prices, I’ll note that this induces competitors. From the wiki page on private highways: “Because electronics did not exist in that era, all tolls had to be collected by human cashiers at toll booths, creating high fixed costs that could only be covered by a large volume of traffic. As railroads and steamboats began to compete with the turnpikes, less profitable highways started to shut down or be turned over to governments.”

          • IrishDude says:

            @John Schilling

            But now you’re just arguing that libertarian policies are awesome because anything that isn’t awesome will obviously be deemed unreasonable in court for mumble reasons, which is hardly an improvement over the NAP as policy guidance.

            How many people do you think would consider the situation you described an unjust one? I think a vast majority of people would. Under a Machinery of Freedom arrangement, most people would then want to sign up for security services that protected the right of people to cross the ringed highway, and private security services would be incentivized to agree to arbitration agencies that their customers preferred.

            Any response to the nation-state analogy on borders, and how we currently observe nations leaving people trapped in terrible situations by not allowing entry/exit?

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            Why is it ok when a private organization owns the roads and charges people for its access but not when the government does so? Why is it that I’m “consenting” to his fees but not the governments?

            To me, the difference in treatment partly depends on if you consider the government ownership legitimate. If a mafia comes to a town, breaks some legs, and comes to have de facto control over it, I don’t think shop owners are consenting when the the mafia makes their monthly rounds for ‘protection’ or ‘governing’ payment and the owners comply.

            To the extent consent is on a continuum, the level of consent in the mafia scenario is much less than the level of consent given by shop owners that voluntarily join together to hire and pay fees to private security and governance firms.

          • skef says:

            How many people do you think would consider the situation you described an unjust one?

            Given that step 2 in any argument about libertarian principles is “well you know, libertarians don’t really agree on anything!” or “wait, which conception are you criticizing, because so-and-so writes …”, it’s really hard to say.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Irishdude

            To me, the difference in treatment partly depends on if you consider the government ownership legitimate.

            That’s exactly right. The difference between libertarians and others isn’t that libertarians don’t believe in the “initiation of force” and other people do, it’s that they don’t consider the government legitimate but they have no problem with property owners. If we got rid of all the governments in the world, and started from scratch, we would be under a similar situation to where we are now, even if anarcho-capitalism was successful. Why? Because eventually someone would grow up in a household where they never have a definite moment of consent and yet they are still paying for services. If we broke up all the countries in the world in to micro-states, it would be the same result. So the libertarian problem with governments isn’t really that they exist, it’s how far their geographic reach is.

          • IrishDude says:

            @skef

            Me: “How many people do you think would consider the situation you described an unjust one?”

            You: “Given that step 2 in any argument about libertarian principles is “well you know, libertarians don’t really agree on anything!” or “wait, which conception are you criticizing, because so-and-so writes …”, it’s really hard to say.”

            I think you can use your knowledge of what you think is just, and what those around you think is just, to come to some idea of what other people think and how wide spread an ethical judgment might be. But if you don’t feel comfortable speculating on others, you can at least answer for yourself. Do you find the scenario John Schilling described an unjust one?

            EDIT: And because it would be interesting to note, I wonder if any poster would speak up to call John Schilling’s scenario a just one. I’m guessing such people are out there, but my feeling is they’re probably pretty rare.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            So the libertarian problem with governments isn’t really that they exist, it’s how far their geographic reach is.

            Well, both kind of. My definition of government requires political authority, where state agents engaging in behavior that would be seen as wrong if done by non-state agents are considered legitimate. Some people are given special moral status, which I have a problem with, and therefore I do have a problem that governments exist.

            Geographic reach plays a role in what behavior used to gain property I consider right or wrong. For example, if 100 people are stranded on a tiny desert island, with just enough coconuts to last everyone a week which is when a ship is expected to rescue them, then I think I would not respect ownership claims of the first guy to find the coconuts and claim them all. I’d think the guy a jerk if he tried to defend his claim, and I’d join with the 99 in using coercion to acquire possession of the coconuts.

            I’d feel very different about ownership claims over a coconut tree if they were plentiful and the desert island was vast.

          • Wrong Species says:

            My definition of government requires political authority, where state agents engaging in behavior that would be seen as wrong if done by non-state agents are considered legitimate.

            Let’s imagine that we lived in ancapia. One guy manages to buy up all the land in the entire world(Assume the least convenient possible world). Suddenly there’s not a difference between government and property. It’s one and the same. He doesn’t need to use his political authority to assert his dominance, he can rely on what I call “Propertarian authority”. You may consider propertarian authority more legitimate but it’s still equivalent for all practical purposes, in this scenario at least. It still involves him having the right to do something that we wouldn’t let the other people do. Property taxes are the equivalent of rent. Regulations are the equivalent of rules. So we agree that every other person growing up in this situation besides the owner never really consents, right?

            Now here’s the catch. This is not just a weird problem for a hypothetical world that’s never going to happen. It’s a problem for any possible world, unless you never have any children and then start from scratch. Someone is going to grow up on a plot of land where they never give their explicit consent. This affects both property owners and governments. So when you say that the government has the ability to do things other people can’t, that’s not true. The government collects taxes. The owner collects rent. Right now, we separate the two, but in your world you’re not really eliminating the government so much as conflating it with property.

          • skef says:

            @IrishDude

            If we are just going to reason from what we “think is just”, what do we need libertarianism for? What about the aspects of libertarian thinking that many people find counter-intuitive? When someone responds to my intuition with “mumble mumble NAP mumble” what am I supposed to say?

            If our intuitions about what is just are sufficiently reliable, why is it that libertarians themselves can’t come to agreement on so many issues?

          • Why is it a coercive act for the government to demand property taxes but not for the landlord to demand rent?

            Because the landlord owns the property and the government doesn’t.

            That, of course, get us into the question of how property is justly acquired. It’s a hard problem for the libertarian in the case of property in land. I have an attempt to solve it, but not one I am very happy with.

            It’s much easier for what is on the land, including the house the tenant is renting, since that was built by the landlord, if not with his own labor with the labor of other people who agreed to build it for him in exchange for things he did for them.

            Why is it a coercive act for you to make me do something but not for me to make me do something? That’s the easier version of the same question.

          • Anonymous says:

            Because the landlord owns the property and the government doesn’t.

            That’s a fascinating way of looking at it, but I don’t think it’s correct.

            The way I look at it, the government owns all its territory, and grants some (most) of it in fief to individual vassals (mostly citizens, but sometimes others) based on its internal rules of acquisition and transfer. The government still levies taxes on these fiefs, of course, the landlord just happens to be entitled to making productive use of it and reaping the lion’s share of the profits. The government also reserves the right to revoke said fiefs if it feels the need to do so, with compensation or not.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            You said: “Why is it ok when a private organization owns the roads and charges people for its access but not when the government does so?”

            I responded that the difference is whether the ownership is considered legitimate. Do you disagree that it’s relevant how someone comes to own something on whether them charging for use of that possession is legitimate? Do you think there is a moral difference between the mafia charging for their protection and governance services after violently taking control of a town and private vendors charging for their protection and governance services after being voluntarily asked to provide them by the townsfolk?

            @skef

            If we are just going to reason from what we “think is just”, what do we need libertarianism for?

            Let me first note that I can’t speak for all libertarians, just myself as a more fringe AnCap libertarian.

            I think some ethical judgments of what is just are widespread (rape is wrong) and some aren’t (abortion is okay). If asked to speculate on how a certain hypothetical would play out in AnCapLand, having some sense of whether people would be likely to consider that scenario just helps to answer the question of what the response to the scenario would likely be. John Schilling’s proposed scenario seems like one where most people would be unlikely to respect the private property claims as unjust and therefore my response to the hypothetical is that the highway owners claim probably wouldn’t have standing.

            Now, there are other situations that could be described that are more ambiguous, where there is much more disagreement about what is just or not. Say, what the proper compensation is for a man who without provocation seriously injure another man. I can see people coming to fairly different conclusions on what is just compensation. In such a scenario, I think a Machinery of Freedom type arrangement with private security and arbitration, with arbitrators picked to satisfy consumer preferences, is more likely to result in a judgment found just by more people than the justice system under states.

            In other words, I think AnCap libertarianism describes a more just system, from how people voluntarily pick their service providers (instead of having them imposed on them) to how justice is determined by private arbitrators when there are competing beliefs on what is just.

            What about the aspects of libertarian thinking that many people find counter-intuitive?

            Can you provide an example please? I think that would be easier for me to respond to.

            When someone responds to my intuition with “mumble mumble NAP mumble” what am I supposed to say?

            You could say, as I do, that non-aggression is a good presumption for people to believe in, but that there exceptions to it can be just. You could say, as I do, that reasonable people might disagree on what counts as justified aggression, and so it would be good to have a system that best accounts for these varying opinions on justice.

            If our intuitions about what is just are sufficiently reliable, why is it that libertarians themselves can’t come to agreement on so many issues?

            I think intuitions about what is just are reliable on many things but not on all things. I teach my kids not to hit and not to steal, which seem like pretty good rules of thumb on how to live justly, rules of thumb I think most parents teach their kids. As he gets older I’ll teach him what I think are justified exceptions, and to the extent I get pushback from others on some of those exceptions, I say it’s good to debate.

            I think the AnCap mechanism for debating and determining justice is better than state-based solutions, though it’s still not perfect.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            I see consent as on a continuum, with the ability to exit a situation being a relevant factor. If a person is in a situation that can be easily exited, but they choose to remain, then I think that level of consent is higher than one in which a person is in a situation with very high costs to exit. So, I think the level of consent given to live in any particular city is higher than the consent given to live in any particular country, given how relatively easy it is to move to a different city but not a different country.

            It’s why people tend to not like monopolies, as it feels like there is no choice or ability to opt out, and subsequently the level of consent is not as high as it would be with a diverse set of options. Governments are the biggest most salient monopolies. One man owning all the land would also be a monopoly with no ability to exit, and therefore the level of consent to remain in his territory would be nonexistent.

          • skef says:

            @IrishDude

            My original point was that libertarians don’t agree on the sort of points that were being discussed earlier. I’ve talked to libertarians who would be fine the enforcement of private roads surrounding an area. One common way of pushing back against such examples is “it’s not important because it wouldn’t happen (or would only happen to someone being really dumb).”

            Now you’re asking me to talk with you about your version of AnCap. I don’t care! One of the main reasons I don’t care is that “the AnCap mechanism for debating and determining justice” being “better than state-based solutions” assumes there is something that “the AnCap mechanism for debating and determining justice” refers to. I don’t think there is sufficient agreement such that that definite description has a referent. Even if your preferred conception would be helpful in “determining justice”, if other people won’t use it, that doesn’t matter much.

            Many, many political systems would work well if everyone agreed on some given X or Y. “Things would be great if everyone agreed to ____” is famously not a convincing argument for agreeing to ______.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Irishdude

            Sure it’s important how the government came to be the owner but that’s a different question than whether ancap world would have less “political authority” than a state dominated one. You mentioned degrees of consent and the absence of exit, which I completely agree with. My point is that the person who grew up in a city-state has just as much consent as the person who grew up in a city owned by one individual.

            Here’s another scenario. Imagine that we have two cities. One of them taken over by the mafia. Another had a single individual buy out the whole city, giving a fair price and without any kind of coercion. Both have exit rights. Now imagine that some time has passed. The mafia becomes more lenient and the business owner becomes more exploitive. After two hundred years, the individual policies becomes identical. Now a libertarian comes along and says we need to dismantle the mafia organization because of its illegitimate founding. The citizens are more reluctant because they have seen that the other city lead to the same end result and fear dismantling would lead to interim chaos. Wouldn’t you sympathize with the reluctant citizens?

          • John Schilling says:

            How many people do you think would consider the situation you described an unjust one?

            Most of them. But then, most people would consider it unjust if anybody is poor and rich people aren’t being taxed at least 20% of their income to alleviate poverty. Most people would consider it unjust if there were ever any mass shootings in the news and people were allowed to buy machine guns without Extreme Vetting. Most people (in first-world nations at least) would consider it unjust if employers were ever allowed to pay people less than $5/hr for their labor.

            And most people would consider it unjust if the state were not allowed to “initiate aggression”, for the common-language definition of those words, in a wide variety of situations.

            “Most people would consider it just/unjust” is the standard for democracy, is neither necessary nor sufficient for and may be incompatible with liberty, and is a particularly bad fit for NAP-purist libertarianism.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @rahien.din wrote (seventeen posts above; thanks, nesting limit!)

            It’s no hypothetical. Federal agencies have done this exact thing. When they want people off their land, they may try to condemn the only roads leading to the people’s homes. The example I am aware of, kid-you-not, is to expand a protected wetland area and aid duck migrations.

            You may be thinking of the Hammond family in Oregon. This was part of a long, drawn-out series of actions by the Fish and Wildlife Service to get them to move off their ranch to make it part of a bird sanctuary.

            The Guardian has an article about the Hammonds.

            Google supplies more information: Neighboring ranchers were flooded out by the feds. And it will surprise nobody who’s been paying attention that FWS has mismanaged the bird sanctuary so badly (e.g. letting carp take over the lake, allowing junipers to take over the fields) that fewer birds are present now than when it was owned by the ranchers.

            The government, which we tend to think of as a guarantor against feuds, seems to have started and continued one of its own in this case—a very one-sided one. The 70-something grandfather and 40-something father are currently serving five-year sentences (in California, of course) on trumped-up arson charges.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Wrong Species

            The scenario you describe of two cities that seem similar, and whether we should think of them differently, reminds me of this nice article from David Friedman on communist/capitalist trucks.

            I’m running out of energy to get into a more detailed reply for now, but perhaps we can pick up this thread in a future OT.

            EDIT: @skef and John Schilling, similarly, I’d like to pick up this topic in a future OT. I appreciate your replies.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Wrong Species

            That’s exactly right. The difference between libertarians and others isn’t that libertarians don’t believe in the “initiation of force” and other people do, it’s that they don’t consider the government legitimate but they have no problem with property owners. If we got rid of all the governments in the world, and started from scratch, we would be under a similar situation to where we are now, even if anarcho-capitalism was successful. Why? Because eventually someone would grow up in a household where they never have a definite moment of consent and yet they are still paying for services. If we broke up all the countries in the world in to micro-states, it would be the same result. So the libertarian problem with governments isn’t really that they exist, it’s how far their geographic reach is.

            I didn’t find the counter-arguments to this point convincing, and I think that this is why the formalist patchwork of REDACTED IDEOLOGY is a much more grown up and sophisticated ideology than libertarian anarcho-capitalism (but still flawed), which is reflected by so many of its advocates being ex or post-libertarians.

            If we accept that the anarchism part is incoherent, then what we actually have is a desire for decentralized privately run states. When this is the entirety of the ideology, it becomes much clearer to discuss, since you have absolved yourself of the ethical murkiness of justifying property and arguing over what counts as a violation and so on, and you can solely focus on questions of efficiency and outcomes and so on. Property depends on its ability to be defended, and so the state has the highest level claim of all.

            Property is any stable structure of monopoly control. You own something if you alone control it. Your control is stable if no one else will take it away from you. This control may be assured by your own powers of violence, or it may be delegated by a higher power. If the former, it is secondary property. If the latter, it is primary or sovereign property.

            In the REDACTED IDEOLOGY sense, anarcho-capitalists essentially believe that secondary property can exist all on its own.

            If sovereign property is required, then the state is a given, and the question is only about organization.

          • If we accept that the anarchism part is incoherent, then what we actually have is a desire for decentralized privately run states

            How do you define a state? In particular, how do you define a decentralized state? Does “decentralized” mean no territorial monopoly?

            If I defend myself with force against a mugger, am I a state? If not, what has to be added?

          • Kevin C. says:

            What’s the difference, in practice, between “decentralized privately run states”, with control/sovereignty over territory treated and defended as property, with the possiblity of subcontracting and delegating to smaller subdivisions (as “secondary property”), and feudalism (as actually practiced before the rise of centralizing forces in the Early Modern period)?

          • Tekhno says:

            @David Friedman

            How do you define a state? In particular, how do you define a decentralized state? Does “decentralized” mean no territorial monopoly?

            Each state would have a territorial monopoly. But there would be a lot more of them.

            I’m not actually arguing this position, by the way. I’m just saying that it’s more realistic than anarcho-capitalism, especially since it has monocentric law enforcement, rather than polycentric law enforcement (each territory has a fixed law agency, rather than there being a market in law agencies per territory, or rather; the market for law agencies is called war).

            If I defend myself with force against a mugger, am I a state? If not, what has to be added?

            A state has to involve the organization of people. Probably something above the Dunbar number where you’d get bureaucracy type effects where people would be ruled by people they don’t know, and those rulers in turn wouldn’t know them. So you can distinguish a tribe from a state, but it pretty clearly isn’t anarchistic either, since there are still involuntary imposed hierarchies involved even in tribes, and there is no market in law.

            @Kevin

            What’s the difference, in practice, between “decentralized privately run states”, with control/sovereignty over territory treated and defended as property, with the possiblity of subcontracting and delegating to smaller subdivisions (as “secondary property”), and feudalism (as actually practiced before the rise of centralizing forces in the Early Modern period)?

            Feudalism tied serfs to the land of their lords. That’s one of the defining features of feudalism along with the absence of land being a commodity. This wouldn’t be the case under Mldbg’s scheme (which I don’t agree with, but it’s far more plausible than anarcho-capitalism), so it’s pretty clearly still capitalist rather than feudalist.

          • Feudalism tied serfs to the land of their lords. That’s one of the defining features of feudalism along with the absence of land being a commodity.

            I don’t think either of those is correct. Bloch comments somewhere that there are no references to serfs being tied to the land in France before (I think) the fourteenth century, so although it’s a possible characteristic it is not a necessary characteristic.

            And there were markets for land in medieval Europe.

            My preferred definition of feudalism is a system where the key resource is controlled at a level below the top, making the ruler a coalition leader rather than an autocrat. In medieval Europe the key resource was heavy cavalry. In Tammany New York it was votes. For details, see Plunkett.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            In medieval Europe the key resource was heavy cavalry. In Tammany New York it was votes. For details, see Plunkett.

            That is a decidedly non-standard definition.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @DavidFriedman

            “Bloch comments somewhere that there are no references to serfs being tied to the land in France before (I think) the fourteenth century, so although it’s a possible characteristic it is not a necessary characteristic.”

            Not to mention that there’s significant variation between Western and Eastern European forms; it’s my understanding that the restrictions and labor obligations on villeins under manorialism were fairly light.

            Edit: I’ve said to people before that when critics of AnCap compare it unfavorably to feudalism, and AnCaps defend against the charge, they’re usually both wrong. Namely, because their conception of “feudalism” seems to owe less to history and more to Monty Python and Mel Brooks; it’s usually an anachronistic amalgamation of grinding Eastern European serfdom, “Royal Absolutism” that was actually part of what replaced feudalism, and “the Dung Ages” myths like Droit du seigneur/ ius primae noctis, “Black Legend” propaganda about the Inquisition, nonsense about Columbus being denied funding because the kings and queens of Europe thought the Earth was flat (when actually it was because he was using a figure for the size of the earth that was known to be far to small, and there was, really, no way his expedition could even make it halfway to Asia; he lucked out by there being two unknown continents in the way), and other such stuff.

          • random832 says:

            @IrishDude

            The scenario you describe of two cities that seem similar, and whether we should think of them differently, reminds me of this nice article from David Friedman on communist/capitalist trucks.

            So, this bit stuck out at me.

            For one thing, the individual voter has very little incentive to try to find out whether the proposed political changes are actually in his interest, since his vote has only a small chance of determining what actually happens. The individual purchaser, on the other hand, “votes” by buying or not buying a house in the community.

            It seems to be saying that exit (or, if you will, “entrance”) is more important than voice, and that voice isn’t worth anything at all.

          • IrishDude says:

            @random832

            It seems to be saying that exit (or, if you will, “entrance”) is more important than voice, and that voice isn’t worth anything at all.

            I don’t think it says voice is worth nothing, just that the incentives to produce desirable goods are stronger with easy exit/entry than through voice. When people can easily say no to what you’re offering, you’ve got to offer good value to get them to voluntarily buy what you’re selling.

            For a really interesting look at exit and voice, I highly recommend this 15 minute talk from Balaji Srinivasan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOubCHLXT6A