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Open Thread 74.75

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.

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625 Responses to Open Thread 74.75

  1. Well... says:

    @onyomi:

    Picking up from an old thread…

    If 1a. is false then why did […etc.]

    It’s what I said, and I think we agree on this part: yes, assimilation is hard, but it’s far from impossible. We also seem to agree that many of the things commonly ascribed to the failures of immigration are not really to blame and many of the remedies aren’t really making things better.

    What I’m saying is, the successes of assimilation—and not just among Europeans immigrating to North America—are astonishing in scale and variety, though I suppose it’s understandable that many people don’t realize the extent of that. Especially young people, whose only exposure to foreigners is often in college where international students tend to cloister and stay in their enclaves. Also urbanites, whose exposure to foreigners is often in a similarly cloistered fashion. (You say you enjoy hearing different languages as you walk down the street—well, that ain’t assimilation!)

    I don’t purport to know, statistically, which towns/cities are highly racially integrated. But I’ve lived in many different cities all over the US and in many of them I’ve witnessed TRUE integration in the neighborhoods around me. And I also live a very racially- and ethnically-integrated life myself, in terms of close family and social relations. Maybe that kind of integration is unlikely on a national or even city-level scale, but it seems doable at large enough scales, anyway, to make it not worthy of dismissal.

    BTW, I say all this as a conservative who’s mostly pretty immigration restrictionist and doesn’t think race is just some social construct. (I like Sailer’s “relatively inbred extended family” definition actually.) But rejection of the SJ-Koombayah Left’s Kool-Aid doesn’t mean we should drink the Kool-Aid of the All Trite.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Two problems with assimilation

      1) It’s out. The current consensus is against it. When immigrant culture and incumbent culture combine, it’s the incumbent which is supposed to yield; to do otherwise would be insensitive.

      2) African-Americans. Probably for the obvious historical reasons — that is, the legacy of slavery and institutional discrimination — African-American culture remains largely separate, and that looks unlikely to change.

      • Well... says:

        Those are huge sweeping generalizations. Exceptions abound, and there are plenty of feasible ways to change the generality.

        Realist painters like Ilya Repin didn’t just color the sky a big even patch of blue, and they didn’t make trees that were flat green blobs sitting on solid brown stems the way a kindergartener does with crayons. You want Muggle Realism, then look at the whole reality and be ready to work with its granularity.

      • Anonymous says:

        2) African-Americans. Probably for the obvious historical reasons — that is, the legacy of slavery and institutional discrimination — African-American culture remains largely separate, and that looks unlikely to change.

        Bold mine.

        The reason is obvious, but it isn’t what you say. It’s the visual distinction. You can’t hide a black guy in a white crowd, or a white guy in a black crowd – at least without resorting to considerable cosmetics and/or surgery (or fighting the hypothetical with albinos).

        Russians and Italians and Englishmen are considerably different culturally, but they’re hard to tell apart visually. If they mix with the locals, they might as well be indistinguishable. Not so for the African-Americans. To be able to merge/assimilate, you need visual similarity between the groups, otherwise they will always be distinct, because they can be easily told apart. And telling things apart is literally discrimination.

        You need the capacity of the new arrivals to infiltrate the host society without being found out just by looking at them.

        • East Asians are also visually different, but seem to have assimilated much more. Recent immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean are blacker than most Afro-Americans, but also seem to have done better, although not yet assimilated.

          • onyomi says:

            If correct, the fact that more recent immigrants of African ancestry assimilate better than Afro-Americans with a long history in the country (and assuming they aren’t visually much distinguishable) seems to imply some important conclusions:

            1. Seemingly pure anti-black racism can’t be the main problem, as anyone who is going to discriminate against an Afro-American on the basis of skin color is going to discriminate against a newer African immigrant. If anything, the Afro-Americans should have an advantage here in that, I think, most of them have at least a little bit of white ancestry. Also, I have a hard time imagining that a true racist would sooner offer a job interview to a resume with a really African-sounding foreign name than to a Marcel Green.

            2. Bias against Afro-American culture as a thing separate from race could be a problem. For many different reasons ranging from history of racism and poverty to drug war, to pure happenstance, the Afro-American culture, though it has some positive connotations in the broader American culture, also has some definite negative connotations: crime, gangs, drug use, and single motherhood. Parts of Afro-American culture (rap) seem to glorify this. Maybe Marcel Green’s name does hurt him a little here insofar as it increases the prior on him being a member of this culture.

            If 2. is correct it seems to support the libertarian case that bad policies are to blame, because black American culture, if always somewhat separate, didn’t seem to be dysfunctional in the ways it now is prior to the introduction of welfare, drug war, etc. Though blacks always had lower incomes, for example, apparently they didn’t, in the past, have higher rates of single-parent homes or unemployment.

            Maybe the real tragedy is that American culture had just reached the point where we were tolerant enough to assimilate black Americans (like happened with American Gypsies, as David pointed out in another thread), but right around that same time, arguably in an attempt to speed the assimilation, we instituted a whole bunch of bad policies that caused black culture, starting from a different place, to evolve in a dysfunctional direction rather than merging with the dominant culture, as it might have.

            The tough part about 2 (besides getting politicians to repeal welfare and drug laws…) is that it also implies there is something dysfunctional about Afro-American culture today in need of fixing. This actually seems like it should be uncontroversial to me, but it’s seemingly not the sort of thing you can say on a major news network without having to later issue a fake apology (unless you yourself are black). This arguably implies it is justifiable to expect black Americans to do more policing of their own ranks.

            3. Horrible Banned Discourse could be the problem if, as I expect is the case, the newer Caribbean and African immigrants are of higher average IQ than Afro-Americans. The most likely explanation is that they tend to be the elite of their home countries, whereas those descended from slaves are, if anything, descended from the lower rungs of their home societies.

            This might be discouraging in the sense that Afro-Americans might have a genetic predisposition to having trouble integrating with higher-IQ groups; it might be encouraging in the sense that it seems to indicate possibility of success for what we might call “IQ nationalism”: anybody of any appearance from around the world can get along with and assimilate to any new culture… so long as they are smart. Maybe that’s not very encouraging after all for the billions of people in the world with IQ<100 and born into a poor, politically dysfunctional nation state.

            If my appraisal of the above is correct, it implies to me a few things:

            As Trofim Lysenko notes below, it seems a good idea, at least in the abstract, to select immigrants on the basis of past indicators for successful immigration. If, for example, high-IQ is predictive of assimilation success, then why not preferentially let in high-IQ immigrants? If being married with children is predictive of assimilation success, then why not preferentially let in married people with children? Etc.

            Then problem with this, of course, is that it requires a couple major changes in the current US status quo: first of all, we have to get back to the point, seemingly uncontroversial not that long ago, where we believe assimilation is desirable and not some kind of cultural genocide. Second, and probably harder, we would have to accept the idea that the US immigration policy exists to best serve the interests of existing US citizens, rather than to serve as a beacon of light and hope for the world (give me your tired, huddled masses, etc.) I think this latter position is actually what Trump was running on and a big part of why he won, but even he has trouble just coming out and saying that.

            And then of course the issue is: if you say we are going to let in people who score well on a test, well, 90% of new immigrants are going to be from China…

          • Anonymous says:

            East Asians are also visually different, but seem to have assimilated much more. Recent immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean are blacker than most Afro-Americans, but also seem to have done better, although not yet assimilated.

            I question your definition of “assimilated”. I don’t think they’re assimilated at all. Acculturated, sure. Assimilated, no. They exist as an identifiable, distinct group – and they know they are one, too. I think it would take extra lizardman for an Asian-American to think of themself as the same identity as white Americans.

          • onyomi says:

            @Anonymous

            I was thinking it might be good to narrow down the definition of “assimilate” somewhat.

            Personally, I am using “assimilate” to mean “reach a point where differences between new group and old group are seen largely as window dressing.” The go-to example, of course, is all the white Americans who now just see themselves as “Americans” and not really “Irish Americans,” “German Americans,” etc. They may have different last names and even look different in some ways, but they all speak the same language, have most of the same traditions and mores, can all act like a jackass on St. Patrick’s Day, etc.

            This does raise the following question to me: if I am a white, Christian American with Mexican neighbors who celebrate Cinco de Mayo and their daughter’s quinceañera (and who maybe speak Spanish at home), but who aren’t all that into Fourth of July, and Jewish neighbors who celebrate Passover and their son’s Bar Mitzvah, but aren’t all that into Christmas, but we all go to the same block party where we all talk in English about the latest US tv shows and politics and pop culture, getting along great, are we all “assimilated”?

            My instinct is to say “not quite,” especially if the Mexicans are speaking Spanish to one another, though it also seems strange to me to describe e.g. Jews who have been in America for generations and who don’t keep to themselves (e.g. those who don’t live in Jewish neighborhoods and don’t embrace a lot of obvious cultural markers like wearing yarmulkes, etc.) as “unassimilated.” Rather, they seem to have just reached some kind of “static assimilation equilibrium” (maybe Afro-Americans are stuck in such a state as well, though we perceive it as more of a problem in their case in that Jewish American culture seems, if anything more functional than the mainstream, while Afro-American culture of today is arguably less)?

            A kind of “assimilation litmus test” to my mind might be: do the group differences have the slightest impact on whom you’d like your children to marry? If the answer is yes, then arguably you are not fully assimilated. I am reasonably happy with how this works in the Jewish case: Jewish people who want their children to marry Jewish people are not fully assimilated with whatever other groups they’d find less preferable as in-laws.

            Though I’m also not sure that the “everyone in our neighborhood gets along great and has a lot in common though we speak different languages at home and celebrate different holidays” situation is in any way undesirable or inferior to “everyone in our neighborhood gets along great and celebrates the same holidays.” If anything, the former seems more interesting. But I’m also not sure how possible it is on a grand scale, especially when there are political stakes.

          • Anonymous says:

            @onyomi

            Yeah, I would definitely agree that the Mexicans and the Jews in your example are not fully assimilated. Their descendants might fully assimilate at some future point, but at the moment, they’re not assimilated properly yet. After all – they have a longer road to go than more closely (culturally and genetically) related individuals.

          • onyomi says:

            Maybe it would be useful to distinguish “assimilated” (no “non-window dressing” inter-group differences) from “happily acculturated” (no inter-group tensions or significant barriers to business, cultural exchange, etc.).

            Question is: does “happily acculturated” truly exist above the scale of the neighborhood? The town? The city? I think Philosophisticat has cited Singapore as a successful example, at least at the city-state level. I don’t know enough about Singaporean politics to know how accurate that is, though it still seems a lot easier than at the level of a nation the size of the US.

          • Anonymous says:

            Well, Singapore comes down like a ton of bricks on anything that even seems like it could lead to sectarian violence. They’re about the only country I know of that actually punishes people for insulting Christianity (as well as all other recognized religions), for example. I have no doubt they have other policies like that for keeping the peace between groups that would normally be at odds.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that it is more accurate to distinguish between integration and assimilation:

            Integration is when cultures adapt sufficiently to become compatible, but they remain distinctly recognizable.

            Assimilation is when you end up with a single culture.

            Both outcomes can range from having the native culture remaining static and the migrants adapting, to the native culture changing completely, while the migrants change relatively little. IMO, there are two major conflicts surrounding migration in the culture war which revolve around two questions that are frequently conflated:
            – Should we have a single culture or a multi-cultural society?
            – How much should the native culture change and how much should the migrant cultures change?

            The first question often boils down to arguments whether the separate cultures would enrich each other and make society function better or the opposite.

            The second question often boils down to identifying certain parts of cultures as evil. This happens both ways. For example, you have people who consider Islam fundamentally incompatible with Western/Enlightenment values, where the former should be abandoned in favor of the latter. You also have people who deem freedom of speech incompatible with a society where people live in harmony.

          • tmk says:

            Would you also say that vegans are failing to assimilate in the larger culture?

          • Anonymous says:

            On its own, I don’t think veganism is strange enough to unassimilate you from your host culture. OTOH, if it’s tied to something like your religion, it might well keep you from assimilating.

            Tangentially, how heritable is veganism? Do offspring of folks who are vegans also tend to be vegans?

          • Aapje says:

            @tmk

            Yes.

            They frequently impose burdens on their environment and are themselves burdened by non-vegans, because of conflicts between their cultures.

            But assimilation is never 100%, as we aren’t clones.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Onyomi

            To be clear, my point is less that we should try to skew our immigration policies towards allowing people who are easier to assimilate, and more that we should ensure that we have created a social and cultural milieu that fosters and speeds assimilation rather than one that encourages the formation of enclaves and discourages assimilation on the grounds of preserving cultural diversity.

            I think that given the right preconditions we can assimilate pretty much anyone, with the possible exception of non-immigrant guest workers who actively intend not to BE assimilated.

          • John Schilling says:

            Assimilated, no. They exist as an identifiable, distinct group – and they know they are one, too.

            Have blondes assimilated into mainstream American (or European) culture?

            They exist as an identifiable, distinct group, recognizable on sight as Not Like Everyone Else. There’s even a broadly-accepted genre of humor based on mocking them as intellectually inferior to normal, dark-haired people. Do blondes therefore represent an unassimilated minority culture within the United States and Europe, and if not, why not?

            And then there’s the Ginger Question…

          • I think it would take extra lizardman for an Asian-American to think of themself as the same identity as white Americans.

            I think my rough test is “if I close my eyes and listen to the conversation, is there any evidence that this person is Asian-American?”

            By that test, lots of the students at my school of East Asian descent are fully assimilated.

          • Matt M says:

            I had a close family friend growing up who was born to South Korean parents, but adopted at birth and brought to the United States by a white American couple. She has no accent whatsoever. Completely 100% assimilated (but looks 100% Korean, because, well, she is)

            At one point in life she wanted to “get in touch with her heritage” and took a trip to Korea, including to the small village where she was born. She tried to talk to and get to know the locals, but they wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. They considered her a foreigner. They called her “American girl” and she seemed to be insulted by this, but technically speaking, I think they’re right. She IS an American girl by any meaningful definition of such.

          • JayT says:

            Aapje, I think your definition is far too strict. The main thing is, there is no single culture in the US. If you visit the Midwest the culture is very different from what you would find on the East Coast. Unless you are saying that no one has assimilated at all in the US. At that point though, it seems like a definition that is too narrow to be useful.

            To me, assimilation just means you fit in with the dominant culture you live in.

          • Aapje says:

            @JayT

            I think that it’s not a black/white issue, but rather a grey area. People are generally willing to accept a certain level of friction, but above it, you get anger and resentment.

            So it’s more that to be accepted you need to to be integrated or assimilated enough to have sufficiently low friction that you don’t stand out negatively compared to the somewhat irritating natives.

          • JayT says:

            I agree with that.

          • Anonymous says:

            Have blondes assimilated into mainstream American (or European) culture?

            They exist as an identifiable, distinct group, recognizable on sight as Not Like Everyone Else. There’s even a broadly-accepted genre of humor based on mocking them as intellectually inferior to normal, dark-haired people. Do blondes therefore represent an unassimilated minority culture within the United States and Europe, and if not, why not?

            And then there’s the Ginger Question…

            I don’t think blondes regard themselves as separate identity group, like the Asian national groups living in America do. Their hair is simply a trivial feature of appearance within the bounds of normalcy. Same goes for lefties and people with big noses, for instance.

            I think my rough test is “if I close my eyes and listen to the conversation, is there any evidence that this person is Asian-American?”

            By that test, lots of the students at my school of East Asian descent are fully assimilated.

            Now why would you willfully, literally blind yourself like that? I mean, the actual color of their skin or the shape of their eyelids is not important, except as a marker of their origin. But that marker is there, it’s obvious, and there’s absolutely no reason to not see it.

            At one point in life she wanted to “get in touch with her heritage” and took a trip to Korea, including to the small village where she was born. She tried to talk to and get to know the locals, but they wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. They considered her a foreigner. They called her “American girl” and she seemed to be insulted by this, but technically speaking, I think they’re right. She IS an American girl by any meaningful definition of such.

            She’s not either, IMO, but obviously will have a better time living in America. You don’t have to be assimilated to live in another nation’s country, and not cause problems.

          • onyomi says:

            I agree that the girl of Korean ancestry in the example is fully assimilated. I would say she *is* American, albeit in the same way these people are Japanese (unless, as I think many consciously or unconsciously seem maybe to believe, Japanese cultural identity has a racial/genetic component, while US culture, due to having been diverse from its beginnings, does not). This is why, for a long time, I assumed Horrible Banned Discourse was no obstacle to assimilation: because you take a second generation kid and raise her surrounded by a new culture (especially if adopted by members of the new culture) and you seem to get an adult indistinguishable in speech and behavior from members of the new culture (that is, her Asian appearance arguably becomes no more significant than the difference between blond and brunette white Americans).

            This leaves two problems: bigger problem is groups who don’t assimilate because, for whatever reason, they don’t raise their children in the mainstream of the new culture of the place they moved to. I’m not sure how best to incentivize this, but letting in large numbers at any one time seems to make it harder.

            Second, more abstract, but long-term problem: to what, if any extent, is the culture of e.g. Korea, a result of the genetic makeup of the people living in Korea? To take an extreme hypothetical, what would happen if world-harmonizing AI overlord implemented the following plan: take all the newly born infants of Japan and exchange them with newly born infants of a state in India with a roughly equal number of births. Now every genetically Japanese baby is raised in Rajasthan by Rajasthani parents and every Rajasthani baby is raised in Japan by Japanese parents. This continues for a generation.

            When the new generation grows up, what do you have? Do you just have a Japan and a Rajasthan where all the Japanese and Rajasthani look really different from how they looked in the past? Or do “Japanese culture” and “Rajasthani culture” change significantly as a result (controlling for all the weirdness caused by having an AI switch everyone’s babies)?

            I’m actually not sure, but my best guess is that, while the new generation of each nation will talk and act much more like the members of their adoptive parentage than the members of the culture of their genetic parentage, I also don’t think the effect would be only a superficial change in outward physical characteristics. Probably over a couple generations Japanese culture would become somewhat more like Rajasthani culture and vice-versa.

            If this intuition is correct, then, to take a more real-world example, Japan and other countries with falling birth rates cannot simply “replace” themselves with the children of higher fertility immigrants and assume their culture as they know it will continue (though, of course, all cultures change over time).

          • Anonymous says:

            I agree that the girl of Korean ancestry in the example is fully assimilated.

            Why? She doesn’t believe it herself. She went off to get in touch with her ethnic kin back in the origin country. That she got rejected by them is another issue.

          • Anonymous says:

            This leaves two problems: bigger problem is groups who don’t assimilate because, for whatever reason, they don’t raise their children in the mainstream of the new culture of the place they moved to. I’m not sure how best to incentivize this, but letting in large numbers at any one time seems to make it harder.

            Mandatory standardized education. Mandatory attendance at religious functions.

            Second, more abstract, but long-term problem: to what, if any extent, is the culture of e.g. Korea, a result of the genetic makeup of the people living in Korea? To take an extreme hypothetical, what would happen if world-harmonizing AI overlord implemented the following plan: take all the newly born infants of Japan and exchange them with newly born infants of a state in India with a roughly equal number of births. Now every genetically Japanese baby is raised in Rajasthan by Rajasthani parents and every Rajasthani baby is raised in Japan by Japanese parents. This continues for a generation.

            When the new generation grows up, what do you have? Do you just have a Japan and a Rajasthan where all the Japanese and Rajasthani look really different from how they looked in the past? Or do “Japanese culture” and “Rajasthani culture” change significantly as a result (controlling for all the weirdness caused by having an AI switch everyone’s babies)?

            Language would mostly be unaffected, but whatever institutions rely on stuff like Big Five personality traits, IQ and kin preference instincts would change – perhaps drastically. I would expect stuff like trust of neighbours, mating patterns, economic activity, criminal activity, corruption and politics to start greatly resembling the genetic origin country.

            And I expect this would start happening perceptibly in the first generation. In a hundred years, you’d have Japanese-speaking Rajastan in Japan, and Hindi-speaking Japan in Rajastan.

          • onyomi says:

            Why? She doesn’t believe it herself. She went off to get in touch with her ethnic kin back in the origin country. That she got rejected by them is another issue.

            I mean, the biggest single part of my ancestry is Irish. I’ve never been to Ireland. A part of me occasionally thinks about going to see the place many of my ancestors came from, maybe even to study Irish (way too much trouble of a language for pure novelty, and I like studying languages), but I don’t think of myself as culturally Irish in any meaningful sense, and would certainly claim to be an assimilated American.

            That said I do think the question of how much an ethnic identity is tied up in a particular genetic heritage is a tough one. I think the liberal, 21st c. attitude is that they are totally separate. I don’t buy that completely, though I also think that home is largely where you grew up, not where your ancestors came from. It’s seemingly one of those questions which people are content to leave very vague (though I imagine if you were to try to get people to put a number on it, like “identity is 90% culture, 10% ancestry,” you’d get wildly divergent opinions).

            One group I do notice seem to embrace more of the “genetic” component of heritage, however, is the Chinese, possibly because of their cultural emphasis on ancestors. They tend to see Asian Americans of Chinese heritage as still “Chinese who happened to be born in America” rather than “Americans who happened to have Chinese ancestors.” If they can’t speak or read Chinese or “get” Chinese culture, then that just shows they aren’t being very faithful to their roots, not that they aren’t really, deep down Chinese on some level. There is an even an extent to which this is true within China: some people who grew up in one place, but whose parents are from a different part of China still identify, on some level, with the place their parents and grandparents came from, as much as with the place they actually grew up.

          • Salem says:

            Why? She doesn’t believe it herself. She went off to get in touch with her ethnic kin back in the origin country. That she got rejected by them is another issue.

            What’s more (blue tribe) American than looking for an “ethnic” identity? On the contrary, it shows how fully integrated she was.

            First generation immigrants often make the mistake of buying into their host countries’ values and traditions, which makes them stick out like a sore thumb. The more integrated act like the natives – sneering at and despising it.

          • Anonymous says:

            One group I do notice seem to embrace more of the “genetic” component of heritage, however, is the Chinese, possibly because of their cultural emphasis on ancestors. They tend to see Asian Americans of Chinese heritage as still “Chinese who happened to be born in America” rather than “Americans who happened to have Chinese ancestors.” If they can’t speak or read Chinese or “get” Chinese culture, then that just shows they aren’t being very faithful to their roots, not that they aren’t really, deep down Chinese on some level. There is an even an extent to which this is true within China: some people who grew up in one place, but whose parents are from a different part of China still identify, on some level, with the place their parents and grandparents came from, as much as with the place they actually grew up.

            Yeah, this is pretty close to how I see things. If you’re not the posterity of ${ethnic_group}, then you’re not ${ethnic_group}, even if you adopt their customs.

          • Matt M says:

            What’s more (blue tribe) American than looking for an “ethnic” identity? On the contrary, it shows how fully integrated she was.

            First generation immigrants often make the mistake of buying into their host countries’ values and traditions, which makes them stick out like a sore thumb. The more integrated act like the natives – sneering at and despising it.

            I know this was meant mostly tongue-in-cheek, but her parents were SUPER blue tribe and, from a young age, made a point to give her superficial lessons on…. Asian cultural stuff (if not explicitly Korean). I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m more than willing to assume that from a young age, she was always encouraged to learn about her “home country” and such.

          • quanta413 says:

            One group I do notice seem to embrace more of the “genetic” component of heritage, however, is the Chinese, possibly because of their cultural emphasis on ancestors. They tend to see Asian Americans of Chinese heritage as still “Chinese who happened to be born in America” rather than “Americans who happened to have Chinese ancestors.” If they can’t speak or read Chinese or “get” Chinese culture, then that just shows they aren’t being very faithful to their roots, not that they aren’t really, deep down Chinese on some level. There is an even an extent to which this is true within China: some people who grew up in one place, but whose parents are from a different part of China still identify, on some level, with the place their parents and grandparents came from, as much as with the place they actually grew up.

            Interesting. It’s not my impression from what my foreign Chinese friends have said about Chinese Americans that Chinese behave much differently than any other ethnic group towards culturally distant migrants. Among other things, I was told that a not uncommon term for Chinese Americans who couldn’t speak any Chinese language, don’t have much contact with Chinese culture, etc. is “bananas”. Maybe there’s a certain expectation that people of Chinese ancestry should know Chinese and Chinese culture etc. but I would bet that this belief is the same for every ethnic group except maybe a few wealthy European ethnic groups.

          • onyomi says:

            Among other things, I was told that a not uncommon term for Chinese Americans who couldn’t speak any Chinese language, don’t have much contact with Chinese culture, etc. is “bananas”.

            Much more common (and less insulting) is ABC: “American-Born Chinese.” Which implies that you’re Chinese, just happen to be born in America.

            In Mandarin, the formal, technical phrase is “Huayi Meiguoren” (“American of Chinese Descent”) but more colloquial are “Haiwai Meiguoren” (“Overseas Chinese”–again implies Chinese) and “Huaqiao” (“Chinese Sojourner”), which seems to imply that said Chinese are coming back at some point.

          • onyomi says:

            Yeah, this is pretty close to how I see things. If you’re not the posterity of ${ethnic_group}, then you’re not ${ethnic_group}, even if you adopt their customs.

            I agree in the sense that I don’t buy the new way of thinking which says ancestry is totally irrelevant for identity and has no effect on culture, but this seems like the opposite extreme.

            I assume you don’t think behavior is 100% genetically determined? If so, isn’t culture part ancestry, part the patterns of behavior, language, customs created by a people of a certain ancestral and incidental (geographic, etc.) history? Does your way of thinking admit of the possibility of being, say “genetically Irish, culturally American,” or “10% Korean, 90% American” (not because one’s ancestry is 10% Korean, but because one’s ancestry is 100% Korean, but one grew up in America and cultural identity is 10% genetic (say) and 90% upbringing?)

            If the Korean girl raised by white American were still 100% Korean, for example, then she should not feel at home in America but feel totally at home in Korea (which is obviously not the case)? Couldn’t she be, say 90% at home among white Americans (due to having grown up among them) and 10% at home among Koreans (due to sharing a genetic ancestry)?

          • (Me)

            I think my rough test is “if I close my eyes and listen to the conversation, is there any evidence that this person is Asian-American?” …

            (Response)

            Now why would you willfully, literally blind yourself like that?

            To find out if the visible difference makes any difference in other observable features of the person. If we define “unassimilated” as “there is some way of distinguishing from most of the rest of the population” then blondes, redheads, and people with big noses count as well, and you agree that they don’t.

          • Anonymous says:

            I assume you don’t think behavior is 100% genetically determined?

            No, obviously not. That would be as silly to believe as that behaviour is fully culturally determined.

            If so, isn’t culture part ancestry, part the patterns of behavior, language, customs created by a people of a certain ancestral and incidental (geographic, etc.) history?

            Yes.

            Does your way of thinking admit of the possibility of being, say “genetically Irish, culturally American,” or “10% Korean, 90% American” (not because one’s ancestry is 10% Korean, but because one’s ancestry is 100% Korean, but one grew up in America and cultural identity is 10% genetic (say) and 90% upbringing?)

            The former.

            The latter is a confusion of terms. I don’t subscribe to the idea that to be American is simply a matter of adopting the American culture, having an American citizenship, or being resident on American soil. To me, to be American (or any other ethnic group) is to actually be related by descent more closely than with people outside of the category.

            If the Korean girl raised by white American were still 100% Korean, for example, then she should not feel at home in America but feel totally at home in Korea (which is obviously not the case)? Couldn’t she be, say 90% at home among white Americans (due to having grown up among them) and 10% at home among Koreans (due to sharing a genetic ancestry)?

            I’m not saying where she should feel at home. She might feel fully at home where she grew up, and I’d mostly expect her to. I’m just saying she wouldn’t be an American, because that’s not a question of what culture you have, but rather who you are related to.

          • quanta413 says:

            @onyomi

            Much more common (and less insulting) is ABC: “American-Born Chinese.” Which implies that you’re Chinese, just happen to be born in America.

            Sorry I wasn’t explicit, but the fact that it’s insulting is actually kind of my point. The insult is after all “white on inside, yellow on outside”. It’s a slur like “oreo” or “apple” and it seems to me that this sort of common pattern indicates that although people accept the obvious that someone is genetically from their related group, they don’t really accept a person from a different culture as “one of them” so to speak. This is a distinct pattern from when people move to a different country but do maintain the culture of where they came from and are usually still well connected to it even after several generations (like the Chinese in Indonesia or Malaysia).

          • Anonymous says:

            @onyomi the post-deleting ninja

            why strongly favor descent over culture

            Because this way I don’t have to agree with random Portuguese born in Portugal from Portuguese parents claiming that they’re American. If I’m going to break down people into categories here, it had better be by something objectively verifiable (if often unverified), rather than feelings, legal dictum and/or self-modifiable traits.

          • onyomi says:

            @Anonymous

            I’m just saying she wouldn’t be an American, because that’s not a question of what culture you have, but rather who you are related to.

            Okay, but why? Why do you attribute ethnic identity this way? Isn’t it both who you are related to and what culture you have? Why privilege one so strongly over the other?

            If there is literally no difference between ethnic identity and genetic heritage, why even speak of “ethnicity” at all? Or is ethnicity for you just a sub-category of race?

            Even if, for example, we assume, for the sake of argument, that any given culture is very strongly determined by the genes of the people who created it (and less so by their unique history, geography, etc.), then that only means that people with those sets of genes have some sort of “seed” within them of that culture, whether or not it is expressed.

            So, I, for example, have the genes somewhere in me for creating Irish culture, assuming you were to put me on a rocky, green island surrounded by people of similar genetic heritage and leave us there for a few centuries, periodically sending the English to invade. But I grew up in America, internalizing the culture created by all the people making up America (which includes, of course, many non-Europeans, to say nothing of many non-Irish).

            Given such a situation, while it makes sense to me to say there is *something* Irish about me, even though I’ve never been to the place, it also doesn’t make sense to me to say that my ethnicity is fully Irish, unless, of course, ethnicity really is just a subset of race.

            My understanding of the term “ethnicity” is that while it may include ancestry, it also includes elements of language, custom, shared history, etc. But even if we assume a strong genetic/racial component of ethnicity, that still doesn’t imply that ethnicity is all that matters for making an identity, like “American.” After all, I share more genetic material with the people on an island I’ve never been to, but I much more strongly identify with the culture of the place I grew up, and I think most people feel similarly?

            Edit: sorry for the delete: I generally check to see if anyone has yet responded before deleting; sometimes I do it because I realize after posting that I want to phrase things differently, or add more before the person responds. In this case, I added the last four paragraphs.

          • Anonymous says:

            If there is literally no difference between ethnic identity and genetic heritage, why even speak of “ethnicity” at all? Or is ethnicity for you just a sub-category of race?

            Yeah.

            My understanding of the term “ethnicity” is that while it may include ancestry, it also includes elements of language, custom, shared history, etc. But even if we assume a strong genetic/racial component of ethnicity, that still doesn’t imply that ethnicity is all that matters for making an identity, like “American.” After all, I share more genetic material with the people on an island I’ve never been to, but I much more strongly identify with the culture of the place I grew up, and I think most people feel similarly?

            From my perspective, you’re both Irish and American 2.0 (current-day American whites), but not American 1.0 (Albion’s Seed). You certainly seem to be American culturally, too. Since America 1.0 is long gone, there’s nothing especially strange about your case.

            Edit: sorry for the delete: I generally check to see if anyone has yet responded before deleting; sometimes I do it because I realize after posting that I want to phrase things differently, or add more before the person responds. In this case, I added the last four paragraphs.

            No sweat. I was kind of wondering if you had inadvertently edited in one of the Forbidden Words and your comment got spammed.

          • BBA says:

            I was born in America, as were both of my parents and all four of my grandparents.

            Seven of my eight great-grandparents were born in the Russian Empire, a country that hasn’t existed in a century. The shtetls they came from no longer exist, having been caught between two of the greatest mass murderers in the history of the world. The Yiddish language they spoke is an obscure relic preserved only by members of extremist sects. I’ve maintained a nominal membership in a diluted form of their religion, and still have a weird appreciation for gefilte fish, but for the most part if you were to drop me into the middle of a reconstructed shtetl it’d be utterly foreign to me.

            I have lived in America my entire life, speak American-accented English, attended American schools, watch American television, enjoy baseball, hot dogs & apple pie (though I don’t care for Chevrolet, but many Americans are with me on that)… in what meaningful sense am I not American? And what of my parents, and theirs? Are they not American either?

          • Brad says:

            “Your mother’s a Pole, your father’s a Swede but you were born here, that’s all that you need. You are an American. But us? Foreigners! Lice! Cockroaches!”

          • Loquat says:

            Clearly, we need to upgrade to America 3.0. You’ll hear some people complain the user interface is more confusing, but the added support for non-whites is well worth it IMO.

          • Anonymous says:

            I have lived in America my entire life, speak American-accented English, attended American schools, watch American television, enjoy baseball, hot dogs & apple pie (though I don’t care for Chevrolet, but many Americans are with me on that)… in what meaningful sense am I not American? And what of my parents, and theirs? Are they not American either?

            You’re about as American as a Briton wearing a toga and speaking Latin is Roman.

            Clearly, we need to upgrade to America 3.0. You’ll hear some people complain the user interface is more confusing, but the added support for non-whites is well worth it IMO.

            Which would make the “American” label nearly completely meaningless.

          • BBA says:

            OK, so in your view should I leave and return to a “homeland” where I’ve never lived? Because where the FUCK would I go back to? Russia and Poland and Lithuania sure as hell wanted my ancestors gone and wouldn’t care to have me back a century later. Of course, they really weren’t “Russian” despite having lived under the Czar since time immemorial, and that’s a big part of why they eventually left.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not telling you to go anywhere. Why would you think that you should go anywhere?

          • onyomi says:

            Clearly, we need to upgrade to America 3.0. You’ll hear some people complain the user interface is more confusing, but the added support for non-whites is well worth it IMO.

            To strain the analogy a bit, it seems to me like we sort of tried to run America 3.0 for a few decades but abandoned it in favor of attempting to run several different OSs on one machine.

          • Deiseach says:

            To me, to be American (or any other ethnic group) is to actually be related by descent more closely than with people outside of the category.

            Which just kicks the problem back a couple of centuries, since your “America 1.0″(a) would actually probably be the settlers who came in over the Bering Strait (if we’re still hewing to that view of the matter these days) and are represented by the Native American/Indigenous tribespeople (b) “Albion’s Seed” is also misleading because that relies on (i) the Anglo colonists arriving on the North-East coast (ii) which was not purely Anglo, either; consider the heavily Dutch/Germanic influence in Old New York which started off as New Amsterdam, and we haven’t even got to the French and New France in the continental North America (c) there is also as much right for the offspring of Spanish and Portuguese to be considered “Americans by descent” as the offspring of the Anglo-Germans or what language do you think Florida, California, etc. are named in, or who do you think arrived at in the same time frame – or first, even! – and settled a good chunk of the most southern part of your current national dominions?

            So your “Americans are the descendants of Americans who arrived here centuries before, settled the land, and had native-born children” reduces to “Americans are the descendants of English, German, Dutch, French, and Spanish who arrived here between the 15th and 16th centuries and established colonies, and we’re going to gloss over the tribes who had arrived here millennia beforehand, because if we take them as the original American settlers from whom proper Americans are descended, we have to admit that East Asians may indeed be more closely genetically linked to ‘proper’ Americans”.

          • Anonymous says:

            So your “Americans are the descendants of Americans who arrived here centuries before, settled the land, and had native-born children” reduces to “Americans are the descendants of English, German, Dutch, French, and Spanish who arrived here between the 15th and 16th centuries and established colonies, and we’re going to gloss over the tribes who had arrived here millennia beforehand, because if we take them as the original American settlers from whom proper Americans are descended, we have to admit that East Asians may indeed be more closely genetically linked to ‘proper’ Americans”.

            Yes. The people to whom this quote refers (bold mine):

            We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

            Native Americans are irrelevant here. I’m not sure why you even brought that up.

          • Well... says:

            Kinda late to the post parade, but just wanted to respond to the discussion about why recent African/Caribbean black immigrants might have different outcomes from American blacks who are the descendants of slaves in the South.

            Recent black immigrants tend to settle directly in cities, where the whites around tend to be more liberal and, at least on the face of it, more deliberate about embracing racial minorities. (American blacks are still very dispersed in terms of urban/suburban/rural and tend to be cloistered into ‘hoods that are culturally microcosms of the rural South in many ways.) Plus once liberal urban whites hear that foreign accent the mindset goes from “Sympathize with poor beleaguered slave-legacy sufferers but keep them at arm’s length” to “Ooh, how exciting! Dreamers come to help make this patchwork nation more diverse and vibrant! How can I help?”

            I don’t think IQ differences between Afro/Caribbean blacks and American blacks are a valid explanation. For one thing, the differences are bound to not be that large. For another, I would expect IQ differences to become more plausible as explanations over hundreds of years (because noise from the environment’s influence can be better controlled for) yet here we’re talking about differences that show up within 1-2 generations.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            You’re about as American as a Briton wearing a toga and speaking Latin is Roman.

            So, pretty fucking Roman then? I guess you have to couch it like that to make your point, but it still doesn’t sound very convincing.

            Seriously, what exactly is your criteria for “American”? Well, near as I can tell, it centers around

            We the People of the United States,…ourselves and our Posterity

            and

            To me, to be American (or any other ethnic group) is to actually be related by descent more closely than with people outside of the category.

            I’d start by noting humorously that this definition lets in an awful lot of African-Americans. We’ll see if you accept that or try to weasel out of it; either way, there it is.

            And “related by descent more closely than with people outside of the category”? That’s literally self-disqualifying; because the gene pool is already pretty wide, and because America was originally populated by multiple different European nations, the average gene pool for Americans is going to be a mix of English, Scots-Irish, and German, or whatever. But by the same token, many people will be “mostly English” or “mostly Scots-Irish” or so forth; heck, the Founding Fathers would fall under that very definition. Were they not “true Americans”?

            This is not to mention that many traditionally “white” groups, like the Irish and Italians, came far after what you would seem to consider acceptable, but are accepted as extremely American. This doesn’t invalidate your theory, but it does suggest that no one else puts much stock into it. Perhaps because they realise that letting in large groups of people who assimilate and consider themselves “Real Americans” is a really good idea with basically no downsides (as long as it’s done correctly, of course). No one bases social cohesion on ancestry traced back 200 years; they base it on feelings of mutual trust.

            Kinda late to the post parade, but just wanted to respond to the discussion about why recent African/Caribbean black immigrants might have different outcomes from American blacks who are the descendants of slaves in the South.

            Feel like everyone agrees that it’s sortition. You going to address that?

          • Well... says:

            You going to address that?

            No. When I wrote “respond to the discussion” I should have changed it to something that conveyed more “add an angle I didn’t see discussed.”

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Well, that’s my bad entirely then. And it’s not an uninteresting perspective, so thanks for sharing it.

          • Anonymous says:

            So, pretty fucking Roman then? I guess you have to couch it like that to make your point, but it still doesn’t sound very convincing.

            Not to you, perhaps.

            Seriously, what exactly is your criteria for “American”? Well, near as I can tell, it centers around

            We the People of the United States,…ourselves and our Posterity

            and

            To me, to be American (or any other ethnic group) is to actually be related by descent more closely than with people outside of the category.

            I’d start by noting humorously that this definition lets in an awful lot of African-Americans. We’ll see if you accept that or try to weasel out of it; either way, there it is.

            So what if it admits a lot of African-Americans? They’re about 20% white on average, and about a third of them, IIRC, are descended from just one Englishman in the 1600s. Yes, a lot of those included will be quite visually different, and may find more of a home in the African-American community than in the American white community, but that doesn’t change who they are descended from.

            And “related by descent more closely than with people outside of the category”? That’s literally self-disqualifying; because the gene pool is already pretty wide, and because America was originally populated by multiple different European nations, the average gene pool for Americans is going to be a mix of English, Scots-Irish, and German, or whatever. But by the same token, many people will be “mostly English” or “mostly Scots-Irish” or so forth; heck, the Founding Fathers would fall under that very definition. Were they not “true Americans”?

            Hence Americans 2.0, or European-Americans.

            This is not to mention that many traditionally “white” groups, like the Irish and Italians, came far after what you would seem to consider acceptable, but are accepted as extremely American. This doesn’t invalidate your theory, but it does suggest that no one else puts much stock into it.

            Few Americans, sure. You’ve got that funny ideology that probably springs from ius soli.

            Perhaps because they realise that letting in large groups of people who assimilate and consider themselves “Real Americans” is a really good idea with basically no downsides (as long as it’s done correctly, of course).

            Non sequitur.

            No one bases social cohesion on ancestry traced back 200 years; they base it on feelings of mutual trust.

            Yes, and per Putnam’s research, that’s largely based on homogeneity.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Not to you, perhaps.

            Frienderino, I think you’re one of the few people to whom this person doesn’t sound pretty damn Roman.

            So what if it admits a lot of African-Americans?

            Hey, if you’re cool with it so am I.

            They’re about 20% white on average, and about a third of them, IIRC, are descended from just one Englishman in the 1600s. Yes, a lot of those included will be quite visually different, and may find more of a home in the African-American community than in the American white community, but that doesn’t change who they are descended from.

            So if they weren’t 20% white on average, would you have to break this scenario? How much crime and other issues would have to come from that segment of the population for you to simply throw them out as well?

            Hence Americans 2.0, or European-Americans.

            So basically, anyone who is of the ethnicities which made up America is welcome?

            Great, because as per your previous argument that leaves pretty much all of Africa wide-open to emigrate. Or are new Englishmen no longer welcome to emigrate, but old Englishmen are fine? Why? Isn’t this all a tiny bit arbitrary?

            Few Americans, sure. You’ve got that funny ideology that probably springs from ius soli.

            at the risk of sounding like a dickhead

            that “you’ve” makes it sound like you’re not an American; likewise with the “few Americans”. If you wrote all of that and aren’t even “American”, why did you even bother?

            Non sequitur.

            Actually, it’s entirely relevant to the conversation – in fact, it demonstrates that your entire line of argument is a non sequitur, insofar as no one cares about it and no one ever will.

            Yes, and per Putnam’s research, that’s largely based on homogeneity.

            Yes, I was waiting for this. Because as a person who’s grown up around plenty of minorities, I feel homogenous with minorities. Skin color really isn’t that big of a deal, at the end of the day.

          • Anonymous says:

            Frienderino, I think you’re one of the few people to whom this person doesn’t sound pretty damn Roman.

            And? As one of my lecturers once said, after demonstrating our lack of knowledge regarding Russian grammar, the majority is seldom right in cases where you need to know a thing or two about the subject.

            So if they weren’t 20% white on average, would you have to break this scenario? How much crime and other issues would have to come from that segment of the population for you to simply throw them out as well?

            Personally, I’m greatly in favor of exile as a punishment. Commit a crime serious enough, and you’re out. This can be applied without regard to ethnicity/race/origin/citizenship, and would over time greatly diminish crime.

            So basically, anyone who is of the ethnicities which made up America is welcome?

            I’m not talking welcome/unwelcome. I’m talking about who is the primary ethnicity of the United States.

            Great, because as per your previous argument that leaves pretty much all of Africa wide-open to emigrate. Or are new Englishmen no longer welcome to emigrate, but old Englishmen are fine? Why? Isn’t this all a tiny bit arbitrary?

            Yes, the American nation is quite arbitrary, since it was established so little time ago, and has been further adulterated by mass immigration.

            that “you’ve” makes it sound like you’re not an American; likewise with the “few Americans”. If you wrote all of that and aren’t even “American”, why did you even bother?

            Because you’re wrong on the internet. Also at risk of sounding dickish, your defensiveness makes you sound like an American 2.0 trying very hard to prove that you’re not a “fake” American.

            Man, this conversation is such a trainwreck, since the word “American” is so overloaded. I wish I could easily and understandably distinguish between “posterity of the founders of the United States”, “current day American whites who think themselves American”, “United States citizens”, “United States residents”, “American Indians”, etc, etc.

            Yes, I was waiting for this. Because as a person who’s grown up around plenty of minorities, I feel homogenous with minorities. Skin color really isn’t that big of a deal, at the end of the day.

            You may be atypical. Or speaking from a baseline of already decreased trust, which you read as a perfectly normal high trust situation.

          • Brad says:

            And? As one of my lecturers once said, after demonstrating our lack of knowledge regarding Russian grammar, the majority is seldom right in cases where you need to know a thing or two about the subject.

            The meaning of words are socially constructed. Your private snowflake definition of ‘American’ is wrong.

            that “you’ve” makes it sound like you’re not an American; likewise with the “few Americans”. If you wrote all of that and aren’t even “American”, why did you even bother?

            Eastern European I’d guess.

          • @Anonymous (the anonymous who is arguing that various people are not Americans):

            Are you yourself an American, either by your definition or the more conventional one of citizenship? I ask because your view of nationality feels as though it is coming from a culture very different from mine.

        • Deiseach says:

          Russians and Italians and Englishmen are considerably different culturally, but they’re hard to tell apart visually.

          There was quite a lot of description in fiction of the 19th and 20th centuries as to how you could visually distinguish proper Anglo-descended Americans from the spics, wops and dagoes. There’s a sample of the popular assumptions as peddled in the fiction and even newspapers and controversial writers, given by Chesterton in some of his apologetics essays:

          “Nordic” people are so much superior to “Dagoes,” that a score of Spanish desperados armed to the teeth are certain to flee in terror from the fist of any solitary gentleman who has learned all the military and heroic virtues in Wall Street or the Stock Exchange.

          Swarthiness, excesGermsive use of hair oil, flashy fashion choices, olive skin and of course a preference for intrigue, crime and the use of knives – these were the marks of the Italians and Spanish amongst the American citizenry. Depending on how fine a degree of discrimination one practised, naturally all Irish were ape-faced violent drunks or red-faced fat policemen, Norwegians and Swedes were tow-headed slow thinkers, Poles (who, depending on their degree of square-headedness or not, might be lumped in with the Swedes and Norse) and Eastern Europeans in general gabbled incomprehensibly and were probably Jewish to boot, and only the Anglo-Teuton descendant was the proper American. To quote Chesterton again on the English version of this:

          Now we know all about the Nordic Man, so far as anybody can know anything about a person who does not exist.  We know, for instance, that up to the autumn of 1914 he used to be called the Teutonic Man.
          …We quite understood that all Nordic Men were like gods, having long golden hair and gigantic stature; and this made it all the more pleasant to realize that we ourselves were Nordic Men. Unfortunately, the Germans were even more Nordic and gigantic and beautiful to gaze upon; they said so; and they ought to know.  The poor Teuton was a little unpopular for five years or so; but now he is creeping out again to feel the sun, like the kings after Napoleon’s fall in Mrs. Browning’s poem. Like several other people, he changed his name during the War. He is now entirely Nordic and not at all Teutonic.  And, as it is, and always was, his whole profession in life to praise himself and exalt the virtue of pride, so much undervalued by Christians, it is perfectly natural that he should despise “Dagos” and talk about the lower culture of lesser breeds without the law. It is natural that he should insist that all Spaniards are cowardly bullfighters and all Italians luxurious organ-grinders.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not saying that you couldn’t. I’m saying that you no longer can easily do that, because they became a mixed mass of People of Walmart. Or do you have some evidence against that too?

          • and talk about the lower culture of lesser breeds without the law.

            Which suggests that Chesterton had not read Kipling very carefully.

            The phrase ‘lesser breeds’ refers almost certainly to the Germans, and especially the pan-German writers, who are ‘without the Law’ in the sense of being lawless, not in the sense of being powerless. (Orwell)

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Well, let’s look at what historically improved and facilitiated assimilation. If we can identify the policies and social conditions that made it easier, we can -fight- 1) and work towards it.

      2) is overplayed. Even the most “insular” urban African-American young male is not anywhere near as unassimilated as your average 2nd generation Mexican, Indian, or Chinese immigrants. Solve 1) and apply it ACROSS the board and I think you solve 2) in the long run, to the extent that it’s even a problem.

      In fact I’m not even sure it’s an “assimilation” problem, the more I think about it. It’s -subcultural-, not cultural, like the difference between mainstream culture and geek culture.

      • JayT says:

        Your second point goes against my personal experience, at least for second generation Indian and Chinese people. I live in the Bay Area, so maybe it’s different here, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a first (forget second) generation Chinese person that I wouldn’t consider completely integrated. For Indian people, I would say their native culture is a bit more obvious, but at the same time they still tend to fit in just fine.

        On the other hand, I would consider African American culture a completely separate culture from the white/Asian majority culture that is here.

        • Evan Þ says:

          I live in Seattle, and I’d agree with you about first- and second-generation Indian immigrants. I’ve seen a lot more barely-assimilated Chinese immigrants, but I’m pretty sure they’re all students at the local universities; the several Chinese who I know have been in the country longer are all at least as integrated as Indians.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I grew up in California, and I know what you mean. However, since moving here to Missouri and started working at a casino I have been presented with the puzzle of chinese-americans and vietnamese-americans who…frankly, cannot conduct a basic conversation in English.

        I can rule out “student” because the students are 1) younger, 2) obvious due to the types of IDs they present (usually their native country’s passport), 3) they actually have -better- English skills!

        At first my assumption was that they must be 1st-generation immigrants who just moved here as adults relatively recently, or be here on work visas, but I’ve been told that isn’t the case (by friends and employers who come with them to the casino and -are- much more assimilated). Perhaps I am being lied to?

        • Civilis says:

          Parents of other immigrants, perhaps?

          I don’t have any more than anecdotal evidence, but I’ve seen a tendency among Asian professionals that immigrate that once here, they sponsor a few older members of their family, usually their parents. I think it goes with a culture that places more of an emphasis on extended families. Being older, they have a tougher time learning the language and adapting.

          • Matt M says:

            but I’ve seen a tendency among Asian professionals that immigrate that once here, they sponsor a few older members of their family, usually their parents.

            Agree. I saw this when I was in the US Navy, most specifically within the Filipino population. While the actual Filipino guy in the Navy was assimilated well enough, he would usually bring over several members of his extended family who would stay entirely within the Filipino community and make no legitimate effort to assimilate at all (and never needed to, because the Navy has enough Filipinos that you’re never going to be anywhere without a reasonably sized social community)

        • dndnrsn says:

          There are Chinese and Vietnamese communities (and, Chinese-Vietnamese communities, ethnic Chinese living in Vietnam who then left/fled Vietnam) in Canada and the US (and I would imagine elsewhere) where someone can live for decades, gainfully employed etc, without needing to be able to speak English provided they immigrate as adults (and thus don’t need to go to school) and have someone to act as interpreters.

          • JayT says:

            This is absolutely true, but I don’t think there are too many grand kids of immigrants that live that life. At least, not any more. Maybe like 50 years ago that was the case.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mind you, just because assimilation happened, doesn’t mean it was beneficial. I mean, pre-assimilation Americans and post-assimilation Americans are quite different nations, even if they regard themselves by the same demonym. I wonder what American culture and politics would have been like if they hadn’t assimilated millions of non-English Europeans.

  2. bean says:

    Way back at the beginning of this series (index) I covered the mechanisms of fire control as used on the USS Iowa. But how did that system come to exist?
    In the early 1890s, naval gunnery had barely advanced since the days of Nelson, despite huge improvements in guns. Maximum effective range was approximately 1,000 yards, even though artillery ranges on land were much higher.
    Captain Percy Scott of the Royal Navy kicked things off in 1897, when he managed to improve his ship’s score sixfold relative to the previous year’s gunnery practice. Before Scott, the practice was to fire the gun at a specific point in the ship’s roll. This caused dispersion for several reasons. Judging a specific point in the roll is difficult for the unaided human, and there was a substantial delay introduced by reaction time and the time taken for the shell to leave the gun. Scott instead had the pointer (the man in charge of the gun’s elevation) keep the sights on the target at all times, elevating and depressing the gun as the ship rolled. This method, called continuous aim, stabilized the gun along the line of sight, known as ‘level’, but did nothing about rotation around the line of sight, or ‘cross-level’. That would not be dealt with until the 30s. However, roll is the dominant motion aboard ships, and so stabilization in level only is a major improvement for broadside firing. Cross-level is much more important when firing ahead or astern, which was less important given the tactics of the day.

    However, while continuous aim worked well for the secondary guns of battleships and the guns of smaller ships, the main guns of the fleet elevated and depressed too slowly to make use of it. The improved accuracy of the smaller guns meant that for a few years, they were the most effective weapons at longer rage. Over time, improved gun mountings gave this capability to the heavy gun mounts, although by that time, Scott had come up with an even better solution, the director.

    The director was essentially a gunsight, fitted so that it transmitted its aiming point to the actual guns. It was mounted high in the ship, and could be tracked quickly as the ship rolled. The guns were fired remotely from the director, when they were actually pointed at the target. Mounting the director high on the mast meant that it was not blinded by the clouds of smoke produced by the guns, and it usually was out of the ship’s funnel smoke as well (although this was not true for many ships, and the inability of the British to pick a sensible mast arrangement is rather amusing). It also allowed fire-control calculations to be centralized, which greatly aided in the next phase of development, that of dealing with range.

    Pushing engagement ranges much beyond 1,500 yards meant that the sights had to be set for the correct range. At lower ranges, the fact that the shells had a relatively flat trajectory meant that the danger space, the distance in which a shell falling short or long would still hit the target, was great enough to make rangefinding irrelevant. However, rangefinding at sea was not particularly easy. There were several possible mechanisms, and the one eventually chosen by the British was the coincidence rangefinder. However, the data still had to be transmitted to the director quickly and accurately, and rangefinders of the day were difficult to use in action, which meant that spurious ranges might be generated. It soon became apparent that it would be necessary to provide a continuous supply of estimated ranges, both to smooth the supply of data and to provide ranges when visibility was compromised.

    Initially, this gap was filled with the Dumaresq and Vickers Clock. The Dumaresq was a special slide rule that solved for the range rate between two ships, while the Vickers Clock was a device that when set with a range rate and an initial range provided follow-up ranges. However, neither was satisfactory. In action, the range rate was rarely constant, and the Vickers Clock could not have its range rate changed while it was running. The practice was to reset the system every few minutes with the new range rate calculated on the Dumaresq. This system reached its pinnacle in the Dreyer Fire Control Table, invented by Fredrick Dreyer, an RN officer. It essentially was a synthesis of these two systems, combined with a special plot for determining range, range rate and bearing rate from multiple rangefinder data points. This could be used to drive the Dumaresq in reverse, giving course and speed from range rate and bearing rate.

    The man who attempted to solve these problems was Arthur Pollen, a businessman who became interested in fire control. He developed the Argo Clock, which was the precursor to modern fire control systems. Instead of simply trying to estimate the range rate, he built a mechanical computer to calculate it from a mathematical representation of what both ships were doing. The heart of his machine was an integrator, which used a turning steel disc and a steel ball that moved from the center to the rim. How far from the center it was was set by the current range rate, and it could be moved in and out while the device ran. An automated Dumaresq-equivalent provided the current range rate.

    In the end, the Argo Clock proved to be far superior and formed the basis for later fire-control systems, as manual plots proved unable to cope with the fact that not only is the range changing, but the range rate is also changing, sometimes quite rapidly. Despite this, a prejudice against automation on the part of several senior officers (and the desire of Dreyer to see his own system adopted instead) kept it from being adopted by the Admiralty. The dispute centered around the question of reliability, as Dreyer believed that men would be more dependable than a complex machine, while Pollen maintained that human error was more likely than technical failure. It didn’t help that his Clock was much more expensive than the Dreyer table. It would have been particularly useful on the battlecruisers, which could have used it to fight effectively at high range rates. No other power (except the US) had even begun to introduce a proper fire-control computer during WWI. The only battlecruiser at Jutland fitted with an Argo Clock, the Queen Mary, was an early casualty. Before her destruction, though, she put in the best gunnery performance of the battlecruisers. After WWI, the Admiralty developed the Admiralty Fire Control Table, which was essentially a refinement of the Argo Clock, although it was not backfitted to the entire fleet before WWII broke out. Hood, for instance, still carried what was essentially a refined Dreyer table at the time of her loss.

    • cassander says:

      bean, maybe you can answer a question for me. I’ve read a lot of places where analog gunsights or rangefinders are described as “automatically” feeding information to gunclocks. How do they do that? I can understand how that might work with a digital system, but I don’t get how an automated sight can do that, much less how it can transmit that information.

      • bean says:

        The traditional system was a step-by-step transmitter, which basically sent a pulse down the wire every time the transmitter was turned by a specific amount. The reciever then turned the same amount with the pulse. The problem was that if the transmitter turned too fast or the power went out, they could get out of alignment, and putting it back would be a real problem. Later, synchros were developed, which are magic. These are special motors which will automatically match what happens at one end with the other. These work if the power is out (when it comes back on, the ends will align again) or the system is turning fast, and can provide feedback for things like steering systems.
        As for what might be the other part of your question, it doesn’t automatically figure out where the target is. The operator does that. What it does is automatically transmit where the operator thinks the target is. So you set the (say) rangefinder, push a button, and the rangefinder reading gets zapped to the plot.

        • cassander says:

          What about for fast moving targets, like aircraft? still just an operator fiddling with dials?

          • bean says:

            Pretty much. I’m not as familiar with AA FC as I am with surface systems, but yes, they basically just used the same system. It’s not necessarily dials. Usually, you have a sight which you keep on the target, and the computer transmits automatically. With a rangefinder, you have a knob which you use to run the system. But you don’t have to take your eyes off to look at the controls. This very much improved the speed and accuracy of reporting relative to the previous system where you’d look at the target, find the range, read it off, then pass it to the sight-setters via speaking tube.

          • cassander says:

            >Usually, you have a sight which you keep on the target, and the computer transmits automatically

            Right, that’s the part I don’t quite get. How does the rangefinder “see” the target, for lack of a better word?

          • bean says:

            It doesn’t. All it sees is the dial that you also use to set the rangefinder. Think if it as just connecting the dial for ‘target range’ on the computer with the dial for ‘rangefinder adjustment’.
            There’s also a button that actually connects the two, so the computer doesn’t get confused when you’re switching targets. But if that got depressed by mistake, the FC system would have no way of telling that you’re ranging on a random patch of ocean.
            This was actually one of the advantages of the Dreyer system. It had a better setup for rejecting spurious ranges and averaging good ones.

          • Tuna-Fish says:

            If you want a description of how a coincidence rangefinder is used to find a range, wikipedia has you covered:

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

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        I think the missing concept here might be electronic analog computers? I wish I could tell you more about the subject, but basically you can do lots of math and communication without going digital.

  3. Matt M says:

    This story is almost a week old at this point, but I was worried it would count as culture war so I’ve been saving it.

    Last week was the NFL draft, where the Chicago Bears traded up to the #2 overall pick to select Mitch Trubisky, a quarterback out of North Carolina. Shortly after the pick was made, someone apparently went through his entire Twitter history looking for anything incriminating, and lo and behold, they promptly found one that went semi-viral (among sports fans at least). It read, and I quote:

    “I love to kiss tittiess”

    After this got passed around for awhile, he promptly deleted the tweet. To provide context, this tweet was made back in 2011, when Trubisky would have been a 16 year old high school student.

    I have a simple question that seems like a pointless devil’s advocate argument, but which I would appreciate honest and thoughtful answers to: Why should he have to delete this tweet? What, exactly, is the problem with it?

    • Well... says:

      Too bad we can’t delete Twitter.

    • doubleunplussed says:

      Nothing at all, of course. But that’s not going to stop everybody acting like there’s something wrong with it. It’s just one of those things. I hate it but it’s not surprising. I look forward to the end of anybody having to hide or be ashamed of their sexuality, including straight men.

      I suppose NFL is supposed to be wholesome or something, right? Family friendly? I’m not sure, I’m not American. But it’s pretty suffocating having to pretend sex doesn’t exist when you’re a sexual being. Oppressive, even.

      • Well... says:

        Do you think this is more an issue of jumping down people’s throats for being who they are, or more an issue of too much permanent record of every little stupid thing a person says? You seem to be saying it’s more the former. I think it’s more the latter (as you might have guessed from my comment above).

        But since my above comment was terse, let me expand upon it by suggesting we consider two needs of a functioning society:

        1. To be able to repress certain kinds of behaviors and statements, even if they’re natural. (Yes, in some contexts, we need to pretend sex doesn’t exist. That isn’t oppression and if you think it is you don’t know what oppression is.)

        2. To be able to forget the dumb things that teenagers say, without harming need #1.

        #2 is where Twitter and smartphones and cheap personal computers constantly hooked up to the internet pose more of an intrinsic problem.

        • random832 says:

          I think #1 is where it’s a problem. There’s no natural reason that twitter should be such a context, except that it’s so easy to drag something from twitter to another context. I don’t see the fact that the tweet was from 2011 as relevant to the core issue here.

          • Matt M says:

            ” I don’t see the fact that the tweet was from 2011 as relevant to the core issue here.”

            I only mentioned it because somewhere else, I heard the problem with the tweet is that it suggests he is “immature.” The point being that yeah, 16 year olds probably ARE, in fact, immature.

          • random832 says:

            Sure, but 22-year-olds have a right to be immature sometimes too.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Yes, in some contexts, we need to pretend sex doesn’t exist.

          Even accepting that this is true, it doesn’t make it proper to go and drag someone’s statement over from _another_ context into such a context to smear them. While it’s against custom to say “Fuck” in church, Mrs. Grundy is off base complaining to the pastor that another parishioner said “fuck” at the pub.

          • Brad says:

            The problem is that twitter is a broadcast-to-the-world medium (like a blog) but for people that aren’t celebrities feels like it is a broadcast-to-friends medium (like facebook).

            If it had been on facebook it would have been harder to dig through, harder to repost, and less likely to turn into a problem for him.

            I have to agree with Well… twitter is just awful.

          • Matt M says:

            Twitter is not the problem here. Society is the problem here.

            We could all simply choose to not be bothered by this tweet. Yet we don’t. Why?

          • Brad says:

            Wasn’t there some SSC post about how if a small number of people care a lot about something and no one else cares at all they’ll get their way?

            Like Orthodox Jews will only buy kosher food, and everyone else will eat kosher and non-kosher food, so a ton of food in a supermarket in Indiana has a little k on it somewhere.

            Most people don’t care at all about the tweet. But some tiny number of people do and there’s no one that cares a lot about the tweet staying around, so the tweet goes. I think if the demand from those offended was that Bears cut the guy from the team, a lot of people would care and you’d see a different result.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @Brad,

            That was Nassim Taleb.

          • Matt M says:

            Brad,

            That seems legitimate enough, but I feel like more and more frequently, the actual offended party is purely hypothetical in nature. I have yet to identify a single person who has actually said “I, personally, find this tweet to be objectionable and offensive and I demand he delete it.”

            Rather, the people who defend its deletion rely on the presumption that offended parties are surely out there. “He should delete that because it will offend some people.” But who are these people? Why would they be offended? Why have they not stepped forward? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that in today’s hyper-sensitive society, a prediction of “someone will be offended by this” seems more likely than not to be accurate. But can’t we at least wait and see?

            It’s one thing if there actually are people claiming offense and calling for deletion. Even if it’s a very small and non-influential minority, then your logic would make sense. But more and more often in these situations, I can identify zero such people. Only large numbers of people demanding this totally hypothetical and possibly non-existent minority be satisfied before it has even stepped up to make its demands at all.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Brad

            But for almost everything there exists a small group that cares a lot about it. It’s not even the tyranny of the minority it’s the tyranny of each minority.

            I think the solution is for Trubisky, instead of deleting his tweet, to have retweeted it with the addition “I still like to kiss titties.” Requires social capital though.

          • Brad says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            There aren’t a whole lot of things that no one else cares about though. Consider the pronoun wars, some people really want universal singular they some people really don’t want universal singular they. So it isn’t an example of what Taleb was talking about (thanks Nabil).

        • doubleunplussed says:

          Yeah I’m definitely in with #1. And whilst some contexts should be able to make rules about what behaviour should be acceptable in them, I think far too many contexts have become “public”. It’s not that they’re literally public, even though many of them are, it’s that they’re treated as such, whether they were intended to be private or not (people would have judged this NFL fellow even if it was a private message that someone had screenshotted, say).

          I feel like people are happy to dismiss something they heard happen (“Bob said something crass at a party”) in a non-public context, or even saw themselves, and yet suddenly if there’s *evidence* of it, it starts being treated as public. Like “OMG we have a *video* of Bob saying something crass at a party”. Even though in the absence of the proof, they already believed it and yet weren’t going to judge Bob for later in another context.

          It’s as if we’re using “there’s a record of it” as the rule of thumb for whether it should be treated as public or not. But there is a record of everything now, and whilst I agree I don’t want people to be able to read my private facebook messages or whatever, it only takes one person to decide they want to screw you over and release something. The ways we are having private conversations are amenable to leaving evidence, so there’s no winning that battle. I’d rather people just not judge me if a jilted ex decides to share nudes of me – the only other way to stop that happening is not ever send anyone nudes or say something you wouldn’t want shared online. Some people advise that but it’s no way to live when so many of our ways of interacting with people are moving online. You might as well tell someone to not have friends for all the good it will do as advice.

          So I’m kind of looking forward to when it becomes such a universal for inappropriate behaviour to be on record, that we can just collectively tire of judging people for it and get over it. Like, let he who has no drunken facebook photos cast the first stone.

          • Well... says:

            I think you’re onto something there. I’d refine it further: “public” is too neutral and nonspecific; it’s more like it becomes “hard evidence,” and when you have hard evidence of something the obvious next step is to proclaim a judgment. (Similar to when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.)

            I’m not sure we’ll ever get over it from desensitization, though our personal tolerance for depravity will indeed increase. This is about getting to pose as morally superior. We all need to feel that way sometimes, it doesn’t matter if rationally we know we’re just as bad as those we’re condemning.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            So I’m kind of looking forward to when it becomes such a universal for inappropriate behaviour to be on record, that we can just collectively tire of judging people for it and get over it.

            But the vast majority of what counts as “inappropriate” depends on whether the person is popular or not. People that you like will always be able to get away with behavior that would serve to prove how awful people you don’t like are. Republicans cared about Bill Clinton’s sexual misdeeds but not Trumps, where Democrats in the 90s created MoveOn.org because they didn’t care about what Bill did to whom.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            It’s not that they’re literally public, even though many of them are, it’s that they’re treated as such, whether they were intended to be private or not

            Unless people are protesting being censored, then it’s suddenly a private platform again.

            (I agree with you fwiw, just an additional problem with the mindset you describe)

      • Deiseach says:

        To me it looks like someone with too much time on their hands and/or an axe to grind looking for something to show that this guy is a horrible sexist misogynist, OMG look at the demeaning way he speaks of women!

        And it turns out to be “16 year old boy likes boobs”. Oh hold me up, Chauncey, I am fainting with shock!

        If he turns out to be a wife-beater or does any of the other things that sportsmen have been accused and proven of doing when it comes to physical/sexual assault, then let everyone be outraged. But a dumb tweet from when he was a kid? That’s going out with a floodlight searching for something to be shocked, shocked! about.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Of COURSE there’s something wrong with his tweet: Titties only has one ‘s’! I mean, there’s such a thing as standards.

      • Matt M says:

        As an interesting aside, another friend told me (speculation, he has no particular inside knowledge) that typically when athletes sign with an agent, the agent has them use some program/algorithm that essentially “cleans” their social media history and automatically purges it of stuff like this for this exact reason.

        But this one was missed because the offensive word was misspelled.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        That is both amusing and awful if true (both on the grounds that it’s apparently necessary due to our neo-puritanism, and my general aversion to memory-holing data), and would not be terribly surprising.

    • Urstoff says:

      I don’t see any reason he should have to delete it (who doesn’t like that, after all), but I can see why it would seem embarrassing. Most of us have looked back on our younger selves and cringed, and we’d prefer not to have the world looking and laughing at that cringeworthy younger self.

      Also, who the hell is in charge over there in Chicago? Trading three picks to move up one spot and draft Blake Bortles 2.0, who would have been there at 3 anyway, is mind boggling.

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        I’ve grown much less interested in pro football because the accumulative effect of all the rule changes and parity measures are that teams are 100% dependent on quarterback play. So you had three teams mortgaging their future for what was widely agreed to be a not-great draft class (Houston practically took out a double mortgage to dump Osweiler). The age where you could win a title with a stout defense and a Trent Dilfer or Kerry Collins is past.

        • Matt M says:

          Wait just a darned minute there.

          Denver just won a super bowl two years ago with a combination of Osweiler and the empty husk of Peyton Manning!

          • Urstoff says:

            Yep, if you have one of the ten best defenses of all time, you can get away with having a bad QB (which is exactly how Trent Dilfer has a ring). You can also have a decent QB and go on a lucky run (see: the Flacco-led Ravens, both of the Giants superbowls in the last 10 years). The NFL is QB dependent, but the MLB is pitching dependent, and the NBA, probably more than any sport, is super-star dependent.

    • Matt M says:

      Contest for SSC commentariat:

      In another venue, I asked people who claimed the tweet was immature to compose a way that someone could, in <140 characters, express a similar sentiment in a mature and dignified manner. The winning entry (as judged by me) was:

      "I think that I shall never see
      A thing as tasty as tittee"

      (Finally, a good use for English majors)

      • Deiseach says:

        Okay, I can’t get it into the 140 character limit, but how about this excerpt from Sir Thomas Wyatt’s “They Flee From Me“?

        Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
        Twenty times better; but once in special,
        In thin array after a pleasant guise,
        When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
        And she me caught in her arms long and small;
        Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
        And softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”

        To get it just under the 140 characters, chopping it about a little:

        In thin array after a pleasant guise,
        When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
        And softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”

        Or from Donne’s To His Mistress Going To Bed, which we learned for English class in secondary school, and which is saucier than a 16 year old’s admiration for a girl’s breasts:

        Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
        That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.

        Or perhaps this part, which means exactly what you think it means:

        we easily know,
        By this these Angels from an evil sprite,
        Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.

  4. Well... says:

    If I was standing and looking at a person and suddenly there was an event where all the DNA strands in that person’s body were ripped apart, but no other physical damage was immediately caused, what would I see?

    • The Nybbler says:

      Most likely they have a seizure and drop dead. Not sure what would kill them first, though; maybe neuropeptide synthesis stopping?

      • Well... says:

        Why a seizure? Why not just drop dead? And how long would it take?

        • The Nybbler says:

          Why a seizure? Why not just drop dead? And how long would it take?

          A seizure, because destroying all the DNA in the muscles won’t stop muscle contractions, short term. I expect failure of the nerve cells to kill you fastest, resulting in random muscle contractions. Death in seconds, I think. This is all based on the neurons being constantly involved in protein synthesis; if that’s not true I’m way off base.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            You’re on the right track logically, but your timeframe is off base.

            A textbook will tell you that protein synthesis in neurons occurs in the cell body and new proteins are transported all the way down the axon to the synapse, which can be measured in feet depending on the type of neuron. It is now believed that mRNA transcripts are also locally translated into protein near the synapse. Either way, the neuron has an unavoidable delay between the abrupt end of transcription and the fatal loss of key proteins.

            Seconds is way too fast. Minutes at the absolute fastest, potentially hours.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      That’s actually a really remarkably complex question, which I can’t answer well (I’m in a lecture) but I can grunt and gesture at.

      Weirdly, the main thing which would kill you quickly in real life probably wouldn’t be a big factor here. Cells typically respond to DNA damage by upregulating genes related to repair or programmed cell death / cell cycle arrest depending on how severe the damage is. But since you specified that all of the DNA is destroyed, I don’t think of that would really come into play.

      Beyond that, mRNA and protein turnover would be the next big hurdle. Some proteins can last your whole life but most of them are broken down and replaced by newly translated protein, with the same story duplicated for the mRNA transcripts which they’re translated from. The half lives vary wildly depending on the specifics of which classes of proteins and which cell types you’re talking about: minutes to years.

      So I’d guess that death wouldn’t be immediate but it would be fast and abrupt. Sudden and near-simultaneous failure of every organ system in the body within (at the most) a few hours.

    • John Schilling says:

      Gosh darn it, the one time Randall “XKCD” Munroe is not merely topical here, but has the best-researched answer to the question at hand, and it’s a “What If” segment that was only published in book form, not available on-line.

      IIRC, the answer is that it you probably suffer severe gastrointestinal symptoms for a day or so, then feel fine for another day or so, then die painfully of kidney and/or liver failure(*). This unusual pattern is because you only need DNA to guide protein synthesis and, outside the GI tract, your body already has a couple days’ worth of all necessary proteins in inventory. And we sort of know how this plays out because the amatotoxins, most famous for being found in the wrong sort of mushrooms that look so much like the deliciously right sort of mushrooms, attack the enzymes used to translate DNA code into detailed protein-building instructions and so should have about the same effect as the DNA simply not existing.

      * And other equally painful stuff not long after that if you somehow manage a quick liver-and-kidney transplant, so don’t get your hopes up.

  5. Dabbler says:

    Apologies if this has already been raised before, but what do people here think of whether Donald Trump deserves to be considered a skilled politician, and where his skill at being a politician should be rated compared to other figures? I’m not sure about it, and because of the unique way in which the media attack him at every turn for what he has done it is very difficult to make an objective assessment relative to other politicians.

    • cassander says:

      the skills needed to get elected seem to be largely disconnected from the skills needed to govern effectively. Obama, for example, was very good at getting elected, but not very good at governing (not talking ideologically here, just skill at implementing his agenda). Trump clearly has a demonstrated knack for getting elected, he beat an opponent who massively outspent him despite being almost as disliked in his own party as he was by the opposition. The other side of the coin remains an open question.

      • Nyx says:

        Well, it’s also that governing is uniquely difficult in the modern era. Obama was certainly good at using EOs to get his way, and he managed to push through ACA and reform healthcare, which for good or for ill is a very difficult thing to do. On foreign policy there are some good parts (the Iran deal, withdrawing from Iraq) and some bad parts (getting involved in Syria and Libya).

        • cassander says:

          The heavy lifting for the ACA push was done by harry reid, but even then, I’m not sure “pushing through something your party has been promising to do for decades when you have your largest majorities in decades” counts as an impressive achievement. Major, yes, but not impressive, especially when you consider how badly it went afterwards (it destroyed those majorities) and how unpopular it is now.

          Pulling out of iraq was a catastrophe that directly enabled ISIS.

          As for getting his way by EO, those EOs are getting rapidly undone by the new administration, at least the ones that weren’t blocked by the courts. And again, issuing a lot of unilateral decrees is not something that requires skill, it’s what you fall back on when you can’t do anything more difficult.

          And for governing being uniquely difficult, just look at GWB’s legislative record. He passed a lot more with smaller majorities, and none of it blew up in his face and cost him an election.

          • Iain says:

            especially when you consider how badly it went afterwards (it destroyed those majorities) and how unpopular it is now.

            In the last six months, public support for the ACA has jumped from 42% to 55%. It was unpopular during the 7 years Republicans spent treating it as a punching bag and blaming it for all of the nation’s healthcare woes; now that voters are getting a glimpse of the Republican alternative, Obamacare is looking better and better. (I can’t find any polls about the most recent version of the AHCA, but the first version was polling at 17%.)

          • cassander says:

            @Ian

            the ACA has been polling in that band since its inception. As for the people of the nation “getting a look” at the republican plan, cmon. I do politics for a living and I haven’t bothered taking close look at their plan yet (though it is on the to-do list). the average voter has zero idea what’s in it or how it will affect them. All they know about the AHCA is that it’s going to murder Jimmy Kimmel’s son.

            And frankly, their understanding of the ACA isn’t much better. But the ACA got a lot of good press (bad too, but also a lot of good), gives away hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and it still can’t get 60% approval. Obama had 7 years to make people like the ACA, and couldn’t. This means either (A) it was unsalable, or (B) obama is a bad salesman. That the republicans are fucking up even harder doesn’t change that.

          • Iain says:

            It’s not just the AHCA. In general, the increased likelihood that the Republicans will make a serious effort to repeal Obamacare has convinced many of those who opposed the bill from the left (for not being single-payer) to get off the fence and defend it.

            You try to wave it off, but the fact that one of the core Republican policy positions of the last seven years can’t even break 20% support is a pretty good indicator of the difficulty of getting popular approval for changes to the health care system. They can’t even get their own base! 55% is pretty damn good, in today’s partisan climate. (I also think it’s quite likely that Obamacare’s approval rating will continue to improve as the details of the AHCA become more widely known, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.)

            PS: Iain.

          • cassander says:

            @Iain says:

            You try to wave it off, but the fact that one of the core Republican policy positions of the last seven years can’t even break 20% support is a pretty good indicator of the difficulty of getting popular approval for changes to the health care system. They can’t even get their own base!

            The difficulty of taking away anything, from anyone, is VASTLY higher than the difficulty of giving things to people. It’s a problem of an entirely different order. Frankly, I think the republicans would be better off passing a bill that just says “the ACA and all subsequent amending legislation is hereby repealed”, but there are reasons they aren’t doing that.

            55% is pretty damn good, in today’s partisan climate. (I also think it’s quite likely that Obamacare’s approval rating will continue to improve as the details of the AHCA become more widely known, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.)

            Probably, but that’s because the costs of the AHCA are much more visible than the costs of the ACA, it has nothing to do with merit. In fact, so a substantial degree it’s inversely proportional to merit, as visible costs are a good, if unpopular, thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      He got elected the ruler of the International Community. If that’s not being skilled politician, I don’t know what is.

  6. Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

    So, I’ll start the shitshow right away:

    What makes a person or belief left or right wing?

    I’m sure this conversation has been had endless times before, but the comments from the Neutral vs Conservative post makes it seem like there is less common ground about what these terms mean than would be reasonable considering how much the topic is discussed.

    See, it’s no secret to anyone who paid attention (so just rlms, whose attempts to track our posting patterns so as to make it easier to replace us with AIs has not gone unnoticed) that I sexually identify as right-wing. This is because I put my interests and the ones of those who are close to me above those of larger collectives of which I may or may not belong to. This has always made sense to me because, in the spaces where I moved around, it was mostly left-wing groups that demanded (or, to be fair, requested) that I do the latter.

    However, when it came to separating the left and the right in said comments, other definitions came into play. As I understand them (and in a simplified manner):

    Right-wingerness being strongly connected to conservatism.
    Right and Left as a relationship with hierarchies (Right likes them, left doesn’t)
    Right or Left as mere tribal clustering: That which leftists like is left, and viceversa.

    So which one would you say more closely matches your perception? maybe a combination, or none of the above?

    • cassander says:

      Definitely hierarchy. Left is the impulse towards leveling, the desire to tear hierarchies down. Right is the desire to uphold them. It works historically, (everyone agrees, for example, that sparta was more right wing than athens, that democracy is more right wing than monarchy, catholicism more right wing than protestant revolutionaries), and it even explains why no one is entirely comfortable with capitalism.

      • episcience says:

        Do you mean that democracy (less hierarchical) is more left-wing than monarchy (more hierarchical)?

        • Anonymous says:

          Sort of.

          You have to understand, a modern democracy is more akin to an absolute monarchy than it is to a medieval monarchy. This is because in both absolute monarchies and democracies, individual citizens have precious little actual power that is not granted them by the state. If the state chooses to rescind some liberty/privilege/right, they have next to no power to successfully object.

          It’s not that the isn’t hierarchy; it’s that in a democracy, there’s much less recursion in the hierarchy. There’s no collection of semi-independent power holders who will show up at the president’s office with their personal armies if he pisses them off too much.

          • episcience says:

            Sure, but also democracies are more “flat” in hierarchical structure than monarchies. Democracies have no formal classes, only people roughly stratified by wealth, with a ruling class chosen from amongst them. In a monarchy, at the very least you usually have nobility and peasantry in addition to the king, but possibly also layers of feudal lords, slaves, clergy, and so on, given official dominion over others. The hierarchical stack is usually deeper for monarchies historically, I think.

          • Anonymous says:

            That’s what I’m talking about.

            In a traditional monarchy, you might answer to a knight, who answers to a lord, who answers to the king – but the king would dangerously piss off everyone in between if he tried to give you orders. In a modern democracy, there’s nothing much that your boss, or his parent corporation, can do if the state decides, in its infinite wisdom, that “you have to go back” – because all of you are direct subjects to the state, to be regulated as it deems fit.

          • episcience says:

            Agreed — but I think that layering of authority means you have “more hierarchy” in monarchy. I suppose you can say that the state has more absolute control in a democracy, despite the reduced hierarchy, but I think that’s a different axis.

        • Anon. says:

          That’s the original split in the National Assembly. Those for the Ancien Régime/church were on the right, those for revolution/democracy on the left.

        • cassander says:

          yes. shows me what I get for writing right before bed.

    • Brad says:

      As a descriptivist matter clustering looks like the right answer to me.

      And if you are going to go all prescriptivist then I guess we need to talk about where people sat in the Estates General and try to make strained mappings to contemporary times.

    • doubleunplussed says:

      Arbitrary. Take a giant survey of one-to-five agree-disagree questions for political beliefs on varied topics, make vectors out of them, one for each person, subtract the mean off each dimension and normalise it by its variance, put all the vectors together in a big matrix, and find its principle components. Declare the first principle component to be the left-right axis. Label political beliefs as “left” and “right depending on the sign and magnitude of their axis’s projection onto the left-right one.

      Accept that the direction of the left-right axis in the larger belief-space can change over time, and label the two sides of it “left” and “right” by demanding continuity back to when the terms referred to where people sat in revolutionary France. Accept that the definition depends on which people you include, such that different countries or different communities might have a different direction in belief-space that best describes their variation in beliefs. Accept that the definition depends on which questions you ask people, such that people can suddenly realise they have political enemies because suddenly people started talking about a new issue they had previously disagreed on but hadn’t spoken about (e.g. in the atheism community: “is it ok to drunkenly ask someone out in an elevator”). Acknowledge that libertarians with their 2D chart can more accurately describe variation in beliefs, but that all they’re doing is taking the first two principle components, and that you could always take more, but simplifications are used for good reason so more isn’t always better.

    • These are simply recursive terms humans use. You can think of each word being the product of a societal filtering algorithm.

      …in fact, there is a whole quantitative literature on spatial modeling and latent political dimension analysis!! The first guys to start it out: http://www.voteview.com/Spatial_Models_of_Parliamentary_Voting.htm

      Try to keep yourself empirical within this world. All we are doing is filtering information and doing a clustering algorithm. The vast majority of spatial political analysis uses words as an ex-post-facto explanation, to trick ourselves into thinking there is a concreteness.

      To the extent that ‘right wing’ and ‘conservative’ are related, we can pose it empirically, sort of. Conservatism as is defined by a series of thinkers, let’s say starting with the Scottish philosophers such as Hume (etc), defines itself as a lower level set of instructions on optimal societal operations.

      Now, we find ourselves, usually, on a single political dimension. For complex reasons a second political dimension typically can’t exist in equilibrium (this is debated, but is a salient empirical observation in most major long-running Democracies). Now, this latent political dimension on the right is currently correlated with conservatism.

      That is to say, if you find people who espouse a preference for the low level algorithmic prescriptions of conservative philosophers and thinkers, their voting preferences are likely correlated. This also causes and is correlated with a certain side of a latent political dimension based on voting preferences.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      “Left Wing” and “Right Wing”, unlike “Libertarian” or “Marxist” or “Socialist” or “Keynesian”, are more descriptive than prescriptive, IMO.

      Their definitions change with time and place, and the best categorization I can come up with is:

      “Right Wing views are the views with a supermajority of people who self-identify as Right Wing hold, and which only a very small minority of self-identified Left Wing people hold.”

    • rlms says:

      And I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!

      To answer the question, I think they are broadly speaking just clusters. But there are more compact ways of describing the clusters than just by listing the policies each one holds. I think the Political Compass is a pretty decent method; a line from socially-liberal/economically-authoritarian to socially-conservative/economically-liberal approximates the left-right spectrum pretty well. There is some asymmetry in that the whole economically-authoritarian part of the compass is well populated and recognised as left-wing, but the socially-liberal/economically-liberal (libertarian) quadrant doesn’t have many members and is often regarded as separate from the main right-wing cluster.

      • Brad says:

        The problem with the political compass is it ignores saliency. If there was a third dimension, we’d want to look to see where the mountains were, not the distribution of the small foothills.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        That’s true of every other definition I’m aware of, though. Also, do you measure saliency by self-report (Rank your values from Most to Least Important) or revealed preference?

        For example, I would lay money such a survey of self-identified American conservatives SAYING they valued small government much more highly than the individual voting and “would you like to cut this program” question patterns indicate is actually the case.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          For example, I would lay money such a survey of self-identified American conservatives SAYING they valued small government much more highly than the individual voting and “would you like to cut this program” question patterns indicate is actually the case.

          Are we excluding Medicare, Medicaid, and the military? An awful lot of conservative voters would gladly eliminate the entire Department of Education, the EPA, almost anything to do with “minority outreach,” etc. They get very angry the Republicans they elect give lip service to these ideas…and then turn around and promptly vote for 4% spending increases for them.

          Steve Bannon saying he wants to deconstruct the administrative state got big cheers at CPAC. The budget resolution just passed has Ann Coulter saying “there’s no reason to ever vote for a Republican ever again.” Although, Ann, come on, this is the CR for Obama’s last fiscal year, not the budget plan for Trump’s first fiscal year starting in October.

          • Brad says:

            Are we excluding Medicare, Medicaid, and the military?

            You’ve just excluded the three biggest chunks of the budget. Interest is the fourth. The four together make up about 70% of total federal outlays. And I doubt there are very many conservative voters that want to cut the entire remaining 30%.

            The EPA isn’t even a rounding error.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Brad

            When we say “small government,” are we just talking about dollars, or power? Bombs are expensive, paper for environmental regulations are cheap, but both can reshape the behavior of a nation.

            I don’t think the reason conservatives want to eliminate the Department of Education is because it costs too much to run.

          • John Schilling says:

            You’ve just excluded the three biggest chunks of the budget. Interest is the fourth. The four together make up about 70% of total federal outlays.

            Social Security is bigger than any of those, and the bit where we pretend that Social Security isn’t a part of the federal budget because it’s mandatory or it’s paid for from the trust fund in the lockbox or whatever is annoyingly misleading.

          • Matt M says:

            Conrad,

            An excellent point. I think it’s unfair to, for example, point to some red-triber who says “We are a trillion dollars in debt yet we’re spending all this money on foreign aid” and assume that what he means to imply is “if we cut all foreign aid the deficit will be solved.”

            I think what he really means is “I oppose foreign aid in general, but even moreso if we are in debt at all.”

            Generally speaking, I think people consider government programs and classify them into buckets like “must have,” “nice to have,” and “more harm than good.” The left puts virtually everything in the must have. Hardcore libertarians put virtually everything in the “more harm than good.” But I think mainstream red-tribers put about half of things in “must have” and half in “nice to have.” It’s not so much that they are worried that welfare creates perverse incentives and is tantamount to theft and should not exist under any circumstances. It’s that they think we’re broke and there’s no excuse being “charitable” when you can’t balance your own checkbook.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Matt M

            I agree, except I think conservatives put the Department of Education in the “More Harm Than Good” category. It’s not about the money, it’s about really not liking Common Core math, going to the local school board and being told “nothing we can do, these decisions are made in Washington.”

            “Small government” doesn’t just mean “doesn’t cost a lot.” It also means, “the Federal government is small because it’s leaving state and local governments to make decisions. I like this because if I think my state or local government is making bad decisions I can much more easily move elsewhere or influence the smaller, more responsive local government than I can reprogram the Washington bureaucracy.”

          • Nornagest says:

            Bombs are expensive, paper for environmental regulations are cheap

            Regulations of any kind aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on if they aren’t enforced, and effective enforcement — especially of things like environmental regulations, which tend to be less “you can’t do X” and more “you can do Y, but only after Z and while ensuring Q” — is definitely not cheap.

            Not as not-cheap as the military, but it’s not a rounding error.

          • Brad says:

            @John Schilling
            No, my mind somehow filled in social security and I included that among the 70%. I’m quite sorry, it was entirely unintentional. To be clear it’s defense, medicare, medicaid, social security, and interest that come to about 70% of outlays.

            I agree that social security somehow not counting is nonsense.

            @Matt M

            I think it’s unfair to, for example, point to some red-triber who says “We are a trillion dollars in debt yet we’re spending all this money on foreign aid” and assume that what he means to imply is “if we cut all foreign aid the deficit will be solved.”

            I agree it is unfair to assume that he thinks it will solve the deficit, but not unfair to assume it will make some appreciable difference.

            If someone says “you’re spending $5000 a month and you only make $3500, you need to stop chewing gum.” The implication is that the cost of chewing gum is a problem, not that chewing gum is a disgusting habit.

          • Matt M says:

            The total budget for the EPA in 2016 was $8B. That’s basically a rounding error.

          • rlms says:

            @Matt M
            60% of Americans think foreign aid spending is higher than 10%, and 15% think it is higher than 50% (source). If you think that eliminating foreign aid would save as much money as eliminating the entire US military, then it makes perfect sense to think doing so would go a long way to getting rid of the deficit.

          • Matt M says:

            rlms,

            That’s a fair assertion, but I still think my point is somewhat different.

            If someone is claiming debt and poverty, it’s common to suggest that maybe they skip the $6 Starbucks frappucino every morning. I think the point of that advice is less “I have examined your financial position and have determined that this action will solve your problems” and more, “You are behaving in a way that suggests you do not take this situation seriously, this is an easy cost to cut and you need to do it whether you’re only in debt $1000 or $10 million”

            The fancy daily Starbucks is the individual equivalent of foreign aid. The point isn’t that it is the source of the problem, but that it is emblematic of a general attitude which is the source of the problem. It is a symptom, not the disease – but when you have a cold, treating the symptoms is sitll a worthwhile thing to do…

          • rlms says:

            But if studies had shown that I believed you were spending $80 a day on frappucinos, rather than the true figure of $6, it would be logical for you to assume my advice that you cut down on them is based on a presumption that doing so would save you a lot of money, rather than being symbolic.

          • Matt M says:

            it would be logical for you to assume my advice that you cut down on them is based on a presumption that doing so would save you a lot of money, rather than being symbolic.

            Logical yes, but just because something is logical does not make it accurate.

            I think even if you supplied evidence saying that someone is $10 million in debt and only spends $5 a day on Starbucks, most people would still say “stop buying Starbucks anyway.”

            The case of government foreign aid is probably worse, because in a certain sense you aren’t just judging others behavior, this impacts you as well. Given that we aren’t running a surplus, foreign aid is, quite literally, borrowing money we don’t have to give it to people who aren’t us. I think a whole lot of people would oppose that, on principle, and simply saying “we aren’t borrowing and giving away as much as you think we are” would not mollify them to any significant degree (nor should it).

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Everyone’s talking about money and I think you’re still missing my point. “Small government” is about power as much if not more than it’s about money. You’re at a Republican campaign stop up on stage throwing red meat to the crowd. Do you say:

            1) “And we’re going to end the Department of Education because it costs too much money!”

            or

            2) “And we’re going to end the Department of Education because we don’t need no Washington pinheads telling us what to teach our kids!”

            Line #1 gets you some nodding heads and a shrug or two. Line #2 gets you a “hell yeah!!!!”

            Power and control over the lives of individuals. Not money.

          • Randy M says:

            While the point about it not being wholly about money is right, I’ll note that I’ve noticed basically two categories of government spending: “rounding error” and “too important to touch.”

          • tomogorman says:

            As a liberalish person I have two problems with your Starbucks argument: 1) the budget is a compromise between different groups considerations of must haves/nices/more harm than goods, and when conservatives propose cuts its only in other people’s nices. Altering your example slightly suppose its a household budget and your spouses Starbucks habit. Possibly they do need to cut it back, but demanding that only your spouse make sacrifices while maintaining your own spending habits doesn’t seem fair.
            2) Conservatives don’t otherwise act as if the U.S. debt is in a “debt and poverty” emergency need to make changes situation. Yes, obviously we have debt, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its approaching problem levels. If your household has a mortgage, but is otherwise fine and your spouse wants to have an expensive Starbucks habit then that seems fine. If you then said that the Starbucks habit was unacceptable until the debt was paid off while keeping your own spending the same your spouse would be right in thinking you were just a jerk and the debt was a side issue.
            If its not just manageable debt but actual problem debt then yes changes need to be made. But if a person just says cut out the Starbucks – and then refuses to make any other changes – then it doesn’t look like they seriously think the debt is a problem. And its not like there aren’t obvious conservative nices comprable to the liberal nice of foreign aid. Hell military spending (at least most of it) is much bigger, and pretty much exactly the same as foreign aid – in that its used to advance American interests (including moral interests) rather than keep American territory safe. If our military budget were a tiny fraction what it is no one could invade U.S. territory because oceans.
            Now I like having a strong military that can advance U.S. interests abroad so I am fine with it, but lets not pretend we couldn’t do with less if we were really in a budget cut emergency.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            No, we’re not. As Brad pointed out, that’s a LOT of the budget, especially Medicare/Medicaid, to which I’d add Social Security.

            I’m far closer to conservative than liberal, and the cognitive dissonance of “It’s time to dismantle the regulatory state…but not THAT program…or THAT one…or THAT one…no, not THAT one I like THAT one…” is infuriating.

            “I want a small government so it’s easier to drown in a bathtub” got cheers 30 years ago, when Republicans had over a decade of solid governmental control.

            So no, I no longer take Republican/Mainstream conservative rhetoric about small government at face value.

        • Brad says:

          This is a somewhat controversial opinion of mine, at least around here, but I think a person’s place on the political spectrum is primarily a characteristic that is socially defined by other people. As an analogy someone might claim to be a friendly person, but that’s pretty meaningless. What matters is whether other people think you are a friendly person.

          So someone that won’t ever stop talking about the abortion holocaust, regularly protests outside of abortion clinics, has 4 pro-life stickers on her car, etc. is on the right wing. I don’t think it especially relevant what she happens to thinks about tax reform or if she thinks of herself as a left winger.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Right and Left as a relationship with hierarchies (Right likes them, left doesn’t)

      I wouldn’t necessarily say the right likes hierarchies as much as the right recognizes that hierarchies are inevitable and natural. Jordan Peterson repeats often in his lectures that the social (and therefore sexual) dominance hierarchy is over 300 million years old. As old or older than trees. So you’re not going to be able to get rid of it with some awareness programs and after school specials. When you try all you do is create a new, probably broken hierarchy (“some animals are more equal than others”). Or for instance look at the leveling of the sexual market via Tinder. The result of hook-up culture has not been free love all the way around but the top 20% of males by sexual market value hooking up with 80% of the women.

    • JayT says:

      In America, I think that there is really a left wing, and then an “everything else” wing. Most people on the left/Democrats have fairly consistent views across the board. If you are in favor of strong gun regulation you are probably also in favor of abortion and welfare. There are different degrees of adherence to the views, but most people on the left have the same general world view.

      The people on the right however, are strange bedfellows. Anti-abortion people have no real connection to laissez faire capitalism, for example. In fact, I would wager that the average person that votes on a straight anti-abortion ticket is far more populist than the Republican stance.

      Heck, the fact that Donald Trump and Libertarians are both considered “on the right” makes this pretty clear.

      • Protagoras says:

        Hmmm. I’m in favor of abortion and welfare, but don’t really care about gun regulation. Outgroup homogeneity bias, perhaps? Assuming you are not yourself a leftist, but I really have a hard time imagining a leftist claiming that leftists have consistent views that they all agree about.

        • JayT says:

          I didn’t say they have views they all agree about, obviously there are huge differences from person to person. What I’m saying though is that generally people that are considered on the left have beliefs that fall along the same axis. For example, the differences between the Green Party platform and the Democratic Party platform tend to be degrees, not completely in opposition to each other.

          On the other hand, both libertarians and the alt right would be considered on the “right”, but their differences are not matters of degree, they are completely at odds. Throw in the religious right and the big-business Republicans, and you end up with a grouping that has few shared values.

          • This might be due to socialism being marginalized in American politics. Liberal leftism and socialist leftism are pretty different.

          • As different as traditionalist conservatism and libertarianism? On a fair number of issues, those groups are on opposite sides with most of the population in between:

            Immigration
            Free trade
            Drugs

      • Nornagest says:

        Outgroup homogeneity, yeah. I hear a symmetrical argument on the left pretty often, where the bad guys are an undifferentiated blob of God, guns, and racism and the good guys are a diverse coalition united only by their respect for facts and their desire to fight oppression. Libertarians sometimes get a nod, if only as weirdo Rand worshippers, but the only difference acknowledged between e.g. Trump and Jeb! is that Trump is moreso.

        • cassander says:

          it’s some of that, but I do think there’s something to be said for modelling US politics as the progressive bloc vs. everyone else.

        • JayT says:

          I think the stereotype of the big fat cat businessman putting one over on the backwater rednecks is a pretty common stereotype, and that right there shows that even the opposition realizes that the “right” is made up groups that are at odds.

      • Martin says:

        Most people on the left/Democrats have fairly consistent views across the board. If you are in favor of strong gun regulation you are probably also in favor of abortion and welfare.

        Why is that consistent? Why would that be more consistent than e.g. being in favor of freedom to own a gun, freedom to have an abortion, and freedom to decide for yourself whether you contribute to welfare for other people?

  7. BBA says:

    A question regarding exploiting inefficiencies in prediction markets:

    How do you think I should bet on the Kentucky Derby?

    (Yes, I know, the only guaranteed way to make money on the Derby is to buy Churchill Downs stock.)

    • keranih says:

      Find a horse whose appearance, name, or back story makes you engaged in the race. Find a friend who will bet on another horse. Place bets. Find a bar in which to watch the whole mad mess. Drink and shit-talk your buddy’s lousy taste in horseflesh until the race is over, when neither of you win.

      I think this could be well worth half a day’s wages.

    • Evan Þ says:

      I think you would probably be safe betting that the Kentucky Derby will be run.

      • reasoned argumentation says:

        Yeah but the payout on “the Kentucky Derby is canceled” is huge.

    • sohois says:

      Horse racing is one of the few sports betting markets where you can consistently beat the bookies and earn a living if you chose – my uncle was a professional for a while, in the UK – but it tends to take years of watching horse riding and an intricate knowledge of the different horses, jockeys and trainers involved. Not something you can just take advantage of for a single race

  8. dndnrsn says:

    The New York magazine article (well, a collection of articles, really) about the alt-right was discussed in 75.25. (First post here – the link is a bit further down) They quote a political scientist who, besides saying one thing I think is rather silly (links being bourgeois to not becoming radical – but the ur-example of the far right, the NSDAP, found its most solid base of support in the lower middle to middle classes) talks about how the attention drawn to the alt-right – negative attention – by those saying “look at this; it is scary” gave it a real shot in the arm. Which is ironic, because that’s exactly what the article is doing. This raises a couple of more general question to me. Is publicizing your opponents generally a good idea, or a bad idea? Does it happen today more than it used to?

    For the first question, I think my answer is that if they don’t already have publicity, publicizing them is bad. If a group that is influential and powerful says/thinks/proposes awful stuff, then pointing out that awful stuff is probably a good idea – people need to be warned. But if something is fringe, there is the danger of making it out to be more powerful than it is – and people are attracted by power. There is also that you are spreading your opponent’s message – even if you append “look how bad this message is”, it still gets spread. If you show 1,000 people who would not have seen it otherwise the awful words of your perfidious adversary, and 1% of them think “hey, this is not so awful; I want to see more”, that’s 10 converts your foe would not have otherwise.

    For the second question, I get the feeling that it does. I think it’s reasonable to blame the incentives of current media business models, especially on the internet, for an increase. “Look at our foes; our foes are abhorrent” creates some good, emotionally-satisfying righteous indignation, and attracts clicks. Of course, the visceral attraction of righteous indignation has always been there, but the business model seems to make a big difference. Or, am I just wrong in my perception that it is more common?

    • Aapje says:

      Is publicizing your opponents generally a good idea, or a bad idea?

      If you are willing to effectively address the root issues* that underlies the beliefs of the opponents, then it is a good idea. If not, then it is generally a bad idea.

      The way that you answer the question, by treating the alt-right as an absolute evil, that people need to be warned about, rather than a manifestation of legitimate issues with wrong solutions for those issues, is in itself illustration of the way in which people are unwilling to admit that the defectors from the mainstream have reasons for doing so, which will not go away by mere denial.

      * Which is not the same as conceding to their demands

      Does it happen today more than it used to?

      Compared to a decade ago or compared to other revolutionary times? I would say yes and no, respectively.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Where do I mention the alt-right with regard to my questions? I’m speaking generally. Personally, I think they are on the whole bad, but not some inexplicable evil that arose from a pit in the ground. For the purposes of speaking generally, the general “you” I use has to think their opponents are wrong, because otherwise why would they be against them?

        I am speaking in terms of, not to put too fine a point on it, propaganda. To give a concrete but hypothetical example: if you are the rulership of a theocracy, and some small weird heresy that is potentially threatening has popped up, is it smarter to ignore it, or to try to rile everyone up against it by publicizing its (obviously wrong and evil to all right-thinking people!) claims?

        • andrewflicker says:

          Ignore the real heresies, and rile everyone up against imaginary ones to incentivize “easy” conformity.

          • dndnrsn says:

            What if some people, open for whatever reason to heresy, end up making an imaginary heresy real?

          • andrewflicker says:

            Definitely a risk, but less likely than the same people expanding upon an already-real heresy! Besides, if you’re inventing imaginary boogeyman heresies, you can design them in ways that are subtly self-defeating/self-limiting. For instance, if the success of the heresy involves secrecy, you can embed values for radical transparency, or (more general cases) the imaginary heresy can be devoted to principles of leaderlessness (rendering it inefficient and inchoate), or advocating of tactics that make it publicly unpopular.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @andrewflicker:

            There are various left-wing groups that advocate some level of leaderlessness or another, and it doesn’t seem to have done them a great deal of harm in terms of popularity – though it may harm their ability to get what they want done.

            There are groups on right and left that do things that are publically unpopular – mostly, certain aggressive styles of public demonstration – and it doesn’t seem to have been a bad choice.

        • Aapje says:

          @dndnrsn

          if you are the rulership of a theocracy, and some small weird heresy that is potentially threatening has popped up, is it smarter to ignore it, or to try to rile everyone up against it by publicizing its (obviously wrong and evil to all right-thinking people!) claims?

          Insufficient information.

          Is the heresy really attractive like Protestantism relative to Catholicism or is it Scientology vs Christianity?

          For the former, assassinate Luther and Calvin (if we are ignoring morality and just straight up going for maximum winning). For the latter, talk about the midichlorians thetans and Douglas DC-8 spaceships as much as possible.

          • Matt M says:

            Hindsight is 20/20.

            I’d be willing to bet that the Popes at the time saw Luther in much the same way as we view L Ron Hubbard, some deranged quack whose nonsensical ideas couldn’t possibly succeed on any large scale… right up until the point where it was obvious they were wrong, and then it was too late.

          • cassander says:

            @Matt M

            And to be fair, had those popes been around any time in the previous 1000 years, they’d have been right.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Would assassination work? Blood of martyrs, etc.

          • Aapje says:

            @Matt M

            Catholicism went after many small sects that most likely would never have succeeded. For part of their history, they weren’t taking any chances.

            I agree that my less aggressive model is more at risk of missing a Calvin who looks like Hubbard. Then again, I also think that there is a benefit to allowing an extremist option for crazy people, as you can leverage a nice ingroup/outgroup narrative:

            ‘You have to be Catholic or otherwise you will end up like this crazy sect that steals all your money and isolates you from your family’

            @dndnrsn

            You have to be early enough to do it before the movement has critical mass. Also, it would of course be an ‘accident’ or a random crime perpetrated by some crazy weirdo who is totally not paid by the people in charge. See Russia for how that’s done.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I’d go so far as to say that the assassination of Jan Hus probably delayed the Reformation a hundred years. So it had worked in the past. Martyrdom is not always a boon to a movement. I’d bet that it usually isn’t.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’d be willing to bet that the Popes at the time saw Luther in much the same way as we view L Ron Hubbard

            Pretty much. Leo X considered Luther relatively unimportant; he had more things on his mind, such as trying to assemble a pan-European alliance and crusade against Selim I (which never got off the ground) and then troubled by his successor Suleiman the Magnificent, who conquered most of Hungary until finally stopped at the Siege of Vienna.

            Between a capable Ottoman emperor conquering his way into Europe and an obscure German monk, Leo decided to concentrate his efforts on the emperor. Successor popes at first regarded the stir with Lutheranism as more indicative of a need for reform within Catholicism (which eventually bore fruit in the Counter-Reformation) but did not recognise it as a movement that would lead to mass schism.

        • Kevin C. says:

          @ dndnrsn

          if you are the rulership of a theocracy, and some small weird heresy that is potentially threatening has popped up, is it smarter to ignore it, or to try to rile everyone up against it by publicizing its (obviously wrong and evil to all right-thinking people!) claims?

          How about you “rile everyone up against it” while simultaneously not publicizing its claims far and wide, but only to clergy sufficiently secure in the orthodox faith to be inoculated against this memetic virus, whom you then put in charge of eradicating the heresy wherever it is found? In short, the smartest strategy is to emulate the Albigensian Crusade, complete with “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.” You treat memetic pathogens the same way you treat highly-contageous infectious physical pathogens.

          “Burn the heretic. Kill the mutant. Purge the unclean.”

        • Anonymous says:

          I am speaking in terms of, not to put too fine a point on it, propaganda. To give a concrete but hypothetical example: if you are the rulership of a theocracy, and some small weird heresy that is potentially threatening has popped up, is it smarter to ignore it, or to try to rile everyone up against it by publicizing its (obviously wrong and evil to all right-thinking people!) claims?

          Call the Inquisition to assess whether any heresy is actually going on, and how organized it is. If it just seems like error committed by the common folk, without any backing from the authorities, or widespread adoption, best to just issue some extra funds to the local clerics for remedial instruction in the faith.

          If, however, the movement appears well-organized, aided and abetted by the temporal authorities, has elite adherents or – God forbid – members of the clergy are doing it, come down on it like a crate of hammers.

    • Yakimi says:

      Articles like that now appear on a monthly basis because readers of old media have to be constantly vaccinated against novel memetic threats designed to circumvent their existing immunities against right-wing thought as the anarchic platforms on which the alt-right thrives allow for instant coordination, rapid ideation, and the constant deployment of propaganda strategies at a pace far faster than the journalistic content production cycle can keep up with. The journalist is forced to report on the latest antics and lingo of the alt-right ostensibly to keep the public aware of a societal menace but in reality under the constant pressure to produce web content and any journalist that refuses to report on the alt-right to starve it of publicity puts themselves at a disadvantage with a journalist that will. To speak of being able to ignore the alt-right is to misapprehend the alt-right, for the alt-right owes its existence to the forces that necessitate the creation of a spectacle to publicize.

  9. keranih says:

    In terms of setting up for EA/tithing/other charity…to what degree do SSC types think “prepping” or “setting by” is a necessary/positive part of life planning?

    I’m looking for either/or philosophy and concrete guidelines/benchmarks –

    “I don’t think prepping/hoarding/bugout bags are at all useful/waste more money than they could ever save.” – this is useful to me, and so is:

    “I think having three months wages set aside is plenty enough prep” as is “I have food, water, ammo, fuel oil etc for 12 months for my whole family plus two neighbors, and my oldest kid is taking a flint chipping class this summer on top of her CPR certification.”

    Mostly I’m wondering if “planning for the future” for SSC types extends beyond bank accounts.

    (Feel free to be as vague as you need to be, in order to minimize the need for tragic canoe accidents in the future.)

    • Matt M says:

      I haven’t been able to get SUPER into prepping, but I definitely think it’s a good idea. I have about six months of living expenses stored away in a savings account I never touch. More savings spread about different bank and brokerage accounts. Some paper gold, about $1000 in physical silver, I own a house I don’t particularly need and not really for “investment” purposes (although it is making money) primarily because I believe owning land is important (I’ve strongly considered buying a large plot of relatively cheap/empty land as another fallback, but haven’t had the money to do so yet). I own a gun, a few boxes of bullets, and some high capacity magazines, even though I don’t really shoot for fun or as a habit. Have a 48-hour bug out bag (bought one, didn’t build my own). An extra first aid kit in the car. Some jugs filled with water under the bed. I read a survival book once and bought some of the basic supplies he recommends (duct tape, tarps, para cord, solar powered emergency radio). I have and own books on first aid, gardening, etc. that I haven’t read yet but I figure might come in handy just in case. That’s about the extent of it I suppose.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I’m a middle-aged computer geek; if civilization collapses I’m just low-quality meat. So no prepping for me. I have savings (aside from retirement savings), which came in handy during a recent bout of unemployment, but that’s it.

    • Nornagest says:

      Prepping in terms of e.g. nuclear-war fantasies is probably not good value for money right now, but I think it’s an excellent idea to maintain the equipment and training to deal with less severe (but far more likely) emergencies. What this looks like depends on what kinds of emergencies are likely where you live (not many earthquakes in the Midwest, not many tornadoes in California), and on what your habits are (getting stranded in the woods is a lot more likely if you spend any amount of time in the woods).

      Cash, simple tools and a change of clothes in your car are probably going to be useful, though, and no matter what the local natural disasters look like, some food, water, and the tools to handle a power outage probably won’t hurt in dealing with them.

      (Anecdotally, I was snowed in without power for two weeks when I was younger. A well-stocked pantry and a lot of firewood probably saved… maybe not my life, but at least a great deal of trouble.)

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I feel a constant low-grade nagging guilt that I am not prepping, but a combination of limited finances and other more pressing get-your-life-sorted-out issues ensure that I haven’t acted on it.

      Priorities are:

      1) Physical Health And Fitness: being fat and out of shape makes you easy meat in ANY crisis, including something as mundane as a mugging. Spend your time, effort, and money fixing this as much as possible before you worry about other concerns. (I am still working on this one)

      2a) Personal/Family Short Term Emergency Supplies: First Aid Kit, Fire Extinguisher, and if you live in a high risk or high police response time area and are mentally and emotionally equipped to handle the responsibility, an appropriate firearm and sufficient ammo for maintaining competence and for emergency use. That means enough to spend a weekend at the range once a month and maybe 100-200 rounds of whatever carry/use ammo you plan to load. I would recommend minimum standard is a NRA safety course and 10-20 hours of range time Bug-Out bags for yourself and family and a one week supply of food, water, prescription meds, etc. (That just means don’t let your fridge get empty, not a box of MREs in your basement 🙂 )

      2b) Short Term Emergency Training: CPR + First Aid/ EMR certification is relatively cheap and can be learned from pretty much any community college. Basic firearm safety and marksmanship if you have chosen to be armed as noted above.

      2c) Emergency planning: What are the most likely infrastructure-disabling emergencies in your area: Blizzard? Flood? Forest Fire? Earthquake? Hurricane? Do you have a sufficiently secure and stocked place to hole up in place, or do you need to plan to evacuate?

      If the former, then you need to start thinking about things like 30 days of food/water/prescription meds, 30 day supply of power and/or heat for some areas where temperature extremes might kill you in some seasons (gas generator? LNG? wood? Solar?).

      If the latter, then you need to start thinking about things like where you’ll go to, and where everyone ELSE in your area will be going to. Family? Property in a better spot? Other? What route do you take to get there? What are your alternate routes if your primary is underwater/clogged with traffic/closed for official disaster relief use only/etc?

      Only after you’ve satisfied those steps, IF you decide you need to go that far, do you need to start worrying about spending money on things like specialized equipment, additional training (field expedient medicine, more advanced firearms courses, etc etc etc).

      I think that everyone should at least THINK about how far into those “phase 2” steps they want to go, but honestly for a lot of people a first aid + CPR class, a first aid kit and fire extinguisher in the house, and some basic pre-planning on WHAT you will do in various plausible emergency situations is probably enough, especially if you couple that with good behavioral patterns: Don’t let yourself run out of gas, food, water, etc.

      If you don’t wait until you run OUT before you resupply, you’re not one of the people who has to stock up at the lst minute when the hurricane comes through.

    • IrishDude says:

      Outside of hefty savings/investments across diversified accounts and funds, my prepping only includes keeping a small pile of cash in a safe, lots of water jugs/bottles and a fire extinguisher. I’d like to purchase a gun but my wife is opposed.

      • The most likely risk here is an earthquake big enough to seriously damage the house, and presumably other stuff around it. Not too likely given that the house has made it through 100+ years of past earthquakes.

        So we have a couple of big plastic boxes in not too obvious places under trees outside, mostly full of 2 liter diet coke bottles filled with drinking water. You can survive a lot longer without food than without water, water keeps, and it is free.

    • Eltargrim says:

      I’m in a particularly low-means point in my life right now, so my prepping is extremely limited. Like The Nybbler, I have no hope for my prospects if civilization collapses. Like Nornagest, I think prepping for more likely scenarios is valuable.

      I live in an urban area where the two most likely serious scenarios are hurricane aftermath and blizzard. Flooding is not particularly likely, and I’m far enough north that evacuation is not likely to be required for hurricanes. The disruption of power and normal services is extremely likely, however. Once my household income reestablishes itself, our prep goals are as follows:

      – three months total income saved in liquid accounts;
      – important documents, a small supply of cash, and limited amounts of bottled water, long-life meal bars, and additional warm clothing in easily-accessible backpacks;
      – enough non-perishable, ready-to-eat food to last a week in the pantry;
      – bottled water to match the above.

      This covers us for financial blips, the ability to shelter-in-place for a week (somewhat extendable with lower food intake), and the ability to leave immediately without being totally ruined. The “go-bags” are definitely geared towards building fire, rather than evacuation. All of these limits are based upon historical standards for my area.

      We don’t own a car, but when we do we will have a somewhat more comprehensive kit in the trunk, with emphasis towards short-term survival in winter conditions. Thermal blankets, hatchet, fire starters, flares, etc.

      If I lived somewhere where evacuation was more likely, I’d be putting much more emphasis on the go-bags.

    • John Schilling says:

      As I have mentioned before, the single most important thing to stockpile for any calamity is friends you can count on. Family is better, so if you’ve got a good one do not let those ties suffer neglect. But, ultimately, ask the question: Who are the people who, if I asked to move in with them for a month, would say “yes”? How about a year? And of course the classic: who could I count on to help me move a body?

      This also will factor in to what personal preparations you might make, because one way or another you are going to want to share. If your friends have a variety of good jobs in different industries, the general recommendation for six months’ living expenses is less critical – but if none of them are the type to stockpile rice, beans, and canned food, then maybe you ought to be That Guy. Same goes for, e.g., weapons and ammunition – one classic gun nut per circle of friends should suffice.

      But some level of solitary preparedness is called for in any event, because unless your friends and family are all within easy walking distance you may have to traverse a disaster area to get to them. And if your friends and family are all within easy walking distance, you may all have to walk out of the same disaster area. So a bug-out bag good for a week of backpacking, enough literal cash for a plane ticket and a month in a cheap hostel, a sidearm and a basic load of ammunition, these are all worth having close at hand no matter how good your circle of friends is. And they don’t require you to be an uber-fit athlete to use; middle-aged nerds with desk jobs should be able to survive most any disaster in the short to mid term.

      Which brings up another generally good recommendation: take care of your health and general fitness. And if you’re stuck with any sort of chronic condition, keep at least a months’ worth of any required medications, a spare pare of glasses, etc.

      • Dissonant Cognizance says:

        Seconding this. I think the importance of social capital in emergency situations tends to be overlooked, and it’s potentially the easiest part of disaster preparedness to cover. In my own experience, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, my family had a generator, three weeks of gasoline, an electric-pumped well on the property, and plenty of MREs, canned food, and ammunition – but we’d have needed to abandon the whole enterprise and stay in a hotel somewhere if my dad hadn’t gotten to know our neighbors, one of whom was a retired electrician who helped wire up the well pump to the generator.

        Of course, step 0 in that instance is “live in a high-trust area near people you can tolerate,” which might be the biggest hurdle for many people.

    • hls2003 says:

      I wish I could “prep” more, but there are of course practical considerations. Moving out to a compound in Montana is not so feasible when one needs to maintain employment to pay the bills. So it’s always a balancing act between prepping so much it’s stupid, versus prepping so little it’s stupid.

      In terms of prospective financial disaster, we maintain more liquidity than most in terms of assets, usually striving to have between 6-12 months’ income available. I find that calculating it based on income replacement versus actual expenses helps because it skews you a little more conservative, since if you’re not earning, obviously your expenses go down (e.g. taxes).

      I do keep a first aid kit in my car, but I don’t carry water, blankets, or survival gear in the car unless I’m driving outside an easily walkable populated area. Road trips out west, sure.

      Physical prepping is the toughest balance. In general, I think that your scenario of “one year for my family plus neighbors” is just too much for me in terms of resource allocation. If something goes that badly wrong, it’s really a full societal/civilizational breakdown, and I think it is facile to suppose that anything short of full-on Montana prepper (and even that) will really work out. The ideal I’ve settled on (but am not always great about following in practice) is to prep for about a month to six weeks of basic supplies – food, water purification capacity, fuel, etc. – to help in the event of a major regional catastrophe, but with the assumption that society has not catastrophically fallen. My go-to example is a serious but not society-killing Carrington/EMP event. I do store guns and ammo, but not enough to fight a war, and more for self-defense against sporadic violence than a Mad Max-style armory. The nice thing is that you can usually cycle those supplies into your normal routine so that you do a one-time spree purchase, and then you just use up the older ones and replenish on a normal schedule like you would restock your fridge.

      I do also read up on preparation and survival techniques, and try to practice some basic skills when I can, even something as simple as fire preparation, open-flame cooking, or using camping gear. That is more of a hobby that doesn’t need to be a full-on lifestyle. I don’t maintain a bug-out bag, but it’s within my philosophy that I probably should – that’s just a matter of being lazy thus far.

    • US says:

      I have previously given societal collapse models of various kind a little bit of thought and this is where I’m at in terms of those things these days:

      I’m a type 1 diabetic on insulin pump treatment which continuously provides me with the insulin I need to live. If my insulin pump gets completely depleted of insulin and I do not have any insulin left with which to resupply it, within what would likely just be a few hours (I know from the literature that pump failure has lead to DKA in people within 4-6 hours) I’ll fall into a coma and then proceed to die within a relatively short period of time. Hoarding insulin is strongly discouraged where I live by the prescription-/drug delivery rules, but even if it were not I think all that insulin hoarding would really yield me would be an extra number of days alive – but my days would still be numbered if the drug infrastructure system were destroyed. In any sort of ‘society collapses’ scenario people like me will be among the first people to die, and I take that fact for granted. Hoarding guns, food, gold, ammo, whatever, would make no difference. Insulin is easily degraded by temperature changes (both frost and high temperatures) and most disaster settings where guns and ammo stockpiles are relevant will involve blackouts, which will likely cause refrigeration units to be destroyed/unusable; I could stockpile six month’s worth of insulin in my fridge and it still wouldn’t matter one bit if the fridge were to break during a blackout.

      On a different note, when it has been possible for me to do so in the past I have tended to save a significant proportion of my income. But I’ve long ago concluded that in a great many disaster scenarios, monetary savings will be near-worthless to me.

      • John Schilling says:

        How many insulin-dependent diabetics would you estimate lived in Syria before the Arab Spring, and what fraction of those are alive today?

        • US says:

          Insulin-dependent and type 1 are not the same thing. Many insulin-dependent diabetics have type 2 (this is actually a clear majority in most countries), which is part of why the term/category ‘insulin-dependent’ diabetes has gone out of fashion in the endocrinology literature. That’s relevant because type 2s who depend on insulin to achieve metabolic control will in general not quickly develop acute life-threatening complications if their access to insulin is impeded (especially not in the short term); their metabolic control will deteriorate and some – especially those with long-standing disease – will develop acute complications, but many others will be able to live for a long time despite being in poorer metabolic control than would be ideal. Type 1 diabetics diagnosed ‘recently’ (within maybe 5 years or so) may also be able to survive for a while in a context of significant intermittent access problems. Long-standing type 1s will not.

          Type 1 diabetes is rare in the Middle East. I recall an incidence estimate from Iran a while back which was around 3-4 cases/100.000/year. Don’t know what that would translate into in terms of prevalence or if Syrian numbers are similar. This WHO article claims that there are an estimated 400 000 Syrians ‘whose survival depends on insulin’, but a large proportion of those are almost certainly type 2, and if so that’s inaccurate reporting because as mentioned many of the insulin-dependent type 2s won’t die if they miss a few injections, whereas the long-standing type1s on the other hand will, and some certainly have. Type 2s also tend to have access to (imperfect) substitutes to insulin like metformin, which would have absolutely zero effect on a type 1 with long-standing disease but would improve glycemic control in most type 2s. The combination of multiple oral non-insulin type 2 medications would also be an option in the absence of insulin and the effects on blood glucose would at least in some contexts be expected to display some level of additivity, making the need for insulin less urgent among this patient group. The number of type 1s in need of insulin is probably closer to 2000 than 400.000, as per this article, but you touch upon an age-old problem in epidemiology; countries with functioning health care systems don’t have people dying from type 1 (due to lack of insulin supplies), and countries where people die of type 1 due to lack of insulin don’t have good numbers on how many die for this reason. It’s guesswork. Many of the type 1s who are still alive now will likely wish they’d died when they die of kidney failure in a decade. If the guy in the link is type 1 and he gets one injection per day and has been for some years, it’s quite likely he’ll be blind in 10 years. This is an aspect upon which I did not originally touch, because I did not address a context in which there was a semi-equilibrium with insecure supplies, but rather a context in which there was a near-total absence of supplies. These cases are different, but even if you survive in the latter scenario in the short term, your life expectancy and quality of life will be, unfavourable. And this calls for a different kind of emergency planning (‘get out while you still can’) than the one I orginally considered/addressed. I don’t think there’s a good way to answer the question of how large a proportion of type 1 diabetics have died also because migration makes this stuff impossible to deal with; how many of them are in camps in Turkey now, or in Germany? Who knows? I certainly don’t, and I don’t see how I would ever get reliable data on that kind of stuff.

          A problem with extrapolating based on Syrian data/experiences is also that I live in a highly developed society in Europe with a mature economy and a high standard of living. If a country like mine goes to shit to the point where drug supply distribution systems are destroyed, who’ll be providing aid? Countries like ours are the countries paying for and organizing that sort of stuff now.

          • US says:

            I was thinking that perhaps a few more details might be useful, to make sense of my comment above. The reason why type 2 diabetics who ‘depend on insulin’ can get away with not taking insulin while type 1s generally can’t is that most type 2s who are prescribed insulin still have some remaining endogenous insulin production, whereas type 1s after a few years of disease generally do not. The difference between an insufficient insulin production and the near-complete absence of insulin is very large – actually type 1 diabetics do not usually develop symptoms until something like 85-90% of all pancreatic beta-cells (the cells which produce insulin) have been destroyed, but once that point is reached it goes downhill very fast; because insulin is so vital to the metabolic processes keeping us alive the body (as usual) has a lot of excess capacity implemented here. Many type 2 patients who are prescribed insulin today are prescribed insulin because we now know that this can improve their metabolic control (e.g. in terms of their mean blood glucose), but they might not have been prescribed insulin two-three decades ago. Poorer metabolic control equals poorer outcomes and higher probability of long-term complications, but those patients who did not get prescribed insulin a few decades ago did not drop dead at the date where these type 2s are now getting their first insulin prescription.

            Type 2 patients tend to be significantly less compliant than type 1s in general, and we know that many of the type 2 patients who are prescribed insulin actually never fill their prescriptions, and many others fail to fill them at the rate we would expect them to if they were taking their drugs as recommended by their doctor. Some example numbers:

            “In retrospective insulin studies, adherence was 62% and 64% for long-term and new-start insulin users, respectively [24]. In insulin-naïve patients who were prescribed insulin, primary nonadherence, assessed from unfilled prescriptions, was reported for 4.5% of patients, and an additional 25.5% of patients never obtained a refill [14, 27].”

            Again, these type 2 diabetics don’t drop dead when they fail to pick up their insulin. If they had long-standing type 1, that’s exactly what they would do (…or they would be hospitalized again and again until they learned their lesson).

            All this is not to say that insulin lack in the context of type 2 is not problematic, but it’s in the great majority of cases nowhere near as devastating to the individual as it usually is in the context of type 1. Not all type 2s are incidentally ‘equal’ either in terms of need, and although disease duration and insulin need are related variables, duration is certainly far from the only variable of interest; type 2 diabetes is, just like type 1, a heterogenous condition, and for example we know that some people with type 2 will tend to develop a need for insulin injections to achieve metabolic control relatively early on in the disease process, compared to others with type 2, due to disease-associated genetic factors.

            I guess the major point is that caution is warranted when you interpret data/estimates dealing with people who are ‘dependent on insulin’ – some of the people in need of this drug are in much greater need of it than are others who are also taking the drug.

          • John Schilling says:

            If a country like mine goes to shit to the point where drug supply distribution systems are destroyed, who’ll be providing aid? Countries like ours are the countries paying for and organizing that sort of stuff now.

            Insulin is currently manufactured in Europe, but also in the United States of America, Mexico, Argentina, Egypt, South Africa, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, China, India, and Indonesia (caveat: list sorted by corporate headquarters of manufacturer, not plant location). Cataclysms that devastate Europe while leaving those other places generally untouched are Not Exactly Unprecedented.

            Not clear whether your argument is that Europe is Invincible! (really, trust us, we got it right this time, ignore all previous evidence of European vincibility), or that Europe is just so awesome that you might as well give up and die if you couldn’t stay there. Me, I think the United States is pretty damn awesome, and a mighty superpower, but if I were an insulin-dependent diabetic – yes, even a Type 1 – I’d be sure to have at least a month’s reserve always at hand and a good idea of how to get to such inferior continents as Europe within that time.

          • US says:

            “Not clear whether your argument is that Europe is Invincible! […], or that Europe is just so awesome that you might as well give up and die if you couldn’t stay there.”

            Neither, and I don’t see how those are the only options you would consider based on my comments. I would be surprised if you did not see civil wars in Europe within the next couple of decades, I’m not an optimist regarding the future. At that point I certainly would not expect countries like Iran or India to come to the aid of someone like me, and I’d expect countries like the UAE to if anything be supplying weapons to the people killing ethnic Danes at that point in time, not providing insulin. But military conflict impacting drug supplies is not just around the corner where I live, so I find the idea of maintaining a one-month supply completely unnecessary at this point. Those preferences are likely to change over time, but I’m not sure a one-month supply would be on top of my list priorities – maintaining such a supply would be cumbersome and expensive (see below). My top priority would be to get out before such measures would become necessary.

            I did mention in my previous comment that I was not addressing the ‘get out while you still can’ emergency planning scenario, but I would have thought it should have been obvious – apparently I was wrong – from my comments above that I’m well aware it would be idiotic to stick around if things went badly wrong. I would of course try to get out, though exactly where to go would be a matter to be decided at that point, rather than now – I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but the US is in general not a very attractive place to live if you have type 1 diabetes, and many of the countries which currently are are countries with suicidal immigration policies. Currently some of the best places in the world to be a type 1 diabetic are Scandinavian countries, which also means that even if this won’t last I don’t at the current point in time have strong incentives to think about which alternatives might be worthwhile to contemplate; the alternatives might look very different in a decade. And relatedly, although we’re not invincible! the current differences in treatment standards and -outcomes between e.g. Denmark and even some Western European countries like Italy are really in my opinion so large as to make it a quite unattractive proposition for me to move anywhere before the Danish health care system has deteriorated significantly (or, say, the Italian system has improved).

            In terms of my personal situation I happen to know a great deal about diabetes, and the first place I’ll be applying for a job after finishing my education will be at Novo Nordisk. The risk I am personally facing in the future in terms of insulin-supply problems would likely be strongly dependent on whether or not I manage to get a job there, and most of the above comments are implicitly assuming I won’t manage to land a job there.

            In terms of stocking up on insulin, on an average day I probably have supplies for two weeks or so available to me at home. But I live a 2 minute walk away from a pharmacy and less than a kilometer away from a hospital with a unit treating diabetics. If I maintained a one month supply in my fridge but my refrigerator broke on day one of the crisis, that one month supply would not last me a month anyway – unless you start dealing with expensive stuff like emergency generators or similar, you can’t easily stock up on insulin for a month the way you think in a setting where reliable electricity is an issue.

          • John Schilling says:

            In terms of stocking up on insulin, on an average day I probably have supplies for two weeks or so available to me at home. But I live a 2 minute walk away from a pharmacy and less than a kilometer away from a hospital with a unit treating diabetics. If I maintained a one month supply in my fridge but my refrigerator broke on day one of the crisis, that one month supply would not last me a month anyway – unless you start dealing with expensive stuff like emergency generators or similar, you can’t easily stock up on insulin for a month the way you think in a setting where reliable electricity is an issue.

            My sources all say that an open bottle of insulin at room temperature has a shelf life of a month or so, and there’s almost certainly a safety factor on that. Is there something I’m missing where having a month’s worth of unopened bottles in rotation in the refrigerator doesn’t give you at least a month of safe survival and/or travel time in an emergency?

            As for, “the US is in general not a very attractive place to live if you have type 1 diabetes”, attractive compared to what? You keep explaining how the collapse of civil order in Europe would leave you with no way to obtain insulin and thus quick and certain death, that having an extra month to e.g. travel to not-Europe just means dying a month later. If you are open to options other than quick and certain death in the event of any disruption to European civil order, you are being remarkably coy about it.

          • US says:

            If the catastrophe happens during the summer in a heatwave, the insulin might be destroyed within a week assuming refrigeration fails. If it’s in the winter and it’s freezing, the insulin can be destroyed even faster if refrigeration and heating systems fail. These were the sort of scenarios I was considering, and the sort of scenarios one should probably address if one were to consider stockpiling. I was on a walking trip to Spain a couple of years ago and experienced the former sort of problem firsthand – accurate dosing was already starting to become a problem by day 4, and was a significant problem by the end of the week. Yes, you can hoard, and in some settings you can get away with it, but it’s dangerous either way. Insulin loses effectiveness when degraded, and/but both an overestimate and an underestimate of the effectiveness loss associated with the degradation can be very dangerous – there’s no safe way to dose when you don’t know within a very small margin how potent the drug is.

            The point about the US not being an attractive destination should probably be interpreted as an implicit indication of how important these things are to well-informed diabetics. The diabetes treatment quality variable is so important to me that I’d prefer to optimize at least partly over this variable when picking my escape destination, assuming I had a choice in the matter. The US would be better than a country in severe crisis, but so would many other countries.

          • US says:

            I think this conversation is over, you’re too aggressive and I’m not liking participating in this exchange. I was finding myself writing an aggressively worded remark as a reply to your latest comment, and I don’t want to be writing aggressively worded remarks online.

            Have a good day, I hope keranih benefited at least a little from the exchange (if nothing else, the exchange might have drawn attention to the fact that very specific factors, such as specific medical conditions, can play a very large role in terms of how people approach and frame such topics).

    • Kevin C. says:

      Not an EA type (and living on the dole myself), but I’ve done a moderate amount of disaster preparedness — mainly in the “emergency food supply”-type category — on account of living in a city whose downtown geography was changed about a half-century ago by the highest-magnitude earthquake recorded in North America, as well as having suffered significant volcanic ash falls multiple times in my lifetime.

    • BBA says:

      As a rich (but not private-island rich) Jew in the finance industry I’m going to be first against the wall when the revolution comes. Until then, might as well just enjoy every sandwich.

      • Tekhno says:

        Wow. If the far-left wins, you die. If the far-right wins, you die. My sympathies. Being a white proletariat sort of gives me “revolution privilege”.

        • Aapje says:

          Not if it is a SJ revolution 🙂

        • Tekhno says:

          @Aapje

          I’m not sure it’s possible for SJ to go to the genocide level, since all the white allies would have to go beyond merely being doormats to the level of actually sacrificing themselves for the cause. SJ really is a very white thing, so at least so long as white people are the majority in Western countries, it can only be an annoyance rather than a real danger.

          • Aapje says:

            I put the smiley there for a reason.

            And most white SJ supporters are women, who are not the outgroup. Just the white men, who are a minority in SJ.

            The theoretical support for genocide exists in the SJ narrative. The black/white oppressor vs oppressed narrative combined with the idea that white men are pretty much incorrigible (see the banning of all white men from safe spaces and the TERFs who see trans women as a threat due to their male socialization) is very similar to narratives that have led to genocide in the past. However, much of SJ has always been very half-hearted. Even the terrorism by suffragettes was weak sauce.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            eh

            an SJ revolution could happen, but then you could just say “look how progressive I am”

            there’s no way in hell that white males are getting the bullet, let alone white people generally. They’re just the majority of this nation…even if and when that’s no longer true, they will still be a plurality for a very, very long time.

  10. Brad says:

    I served jury duty on Monday. What do people think about mandatory jury duty? Slavery? Civic duty? What about as a part of the justice system? The worst system except for everything else, or just the worst system?

    I’m especially interested to hear from people that are philosophically opposed to it on government coercion grounds but think also think citizen fact finders are an important check on government power vis-a-vis the accused in criminal cases.

    • AnonYEmous says:

      a real annoyance for me, as a current student, but I think it’s good overall. Plus, how else would you get people to do it?

      (libertarian sez: you could pay them. Yeah, but I don’t know what artifacts that creates, and I don’t intend to find out)

    • cassander says:

      I’d be totally fine with letting people pay a fee to get out of jury duty, assessed in a way similar to bail. Seems simpler than the current system of encouraging people to lie to get out of it. If too many people start dodging, raise the fee.

      • Aapje says:

        @cassander

        That would bias the jury pool to the poor and uneducated.

        • Anonymous says:

          Which might be a feature, not a bug. 😉

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          So, the peers of people likely to be on trial?

        • hls2003 says:

          The jury pool is already disproportionately skewed towards the unemployed, the retired, and those too stupid or too honest to get themselves removed during voir dire. So you do get a smattering of honest folks.

          Notwithstanding, in general, I actually find juries quite admirable in their proper role. I think the common law got it more or less right – juries are not great at reading and interpreting texts (which is why that’s the judge’s job), bad at understanding arcane technical matters (which is why the judge has a gatekeeping function for expert testimony), and pretty good at actually “reading people” and determining questions of credibility, intent, or other contested facts. That is more or less an interpersonal/social function, and average people are optimized to be pretty good at it, especially in a group where you reduce the weight of any one idiosyncratic person.

          • I think the common law got it more or less right

            The original common law system used a jury of neighbors, an informed jury. We have the opposite system. Anyone who knows anything about the case or the defendant is excluded.

    • The Nybbler says:

      The check on government power is mostly gone; the prosecution uses the threat of a jury to obtain concessions in plea bargaining. So it’s pretty terrible, but if it’s slavery it’s a pretty non-central example.

      • Matt M says:

        but if it’s slavery it’s a pretty non-central example.

        This is basically where I’m at. Yes, it is slavery, but it’s pretty much the LEAST offensive form of slavery currently practiced in the modern world…

    • Nornagest says:

      Every time I get called in for jury duty, I get the strong impression that The System Is Not On Your Side. That you are there to fulfill a formal requirement and that active contribution is neither expected nor wanted.

      “Slavery” is not a word I’d use, but I’m not a big fan. On the other hand, it is not clear to me that the alternatives are any better.

      • Brad says:

        I definitely have the impression that everyone in the courthouse in the back of their minds wishes that juries never existed in the first place. But at least one side specifically decided to have a jury in that case because they thought it would advantage them.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Civic Duty that is largely wasted time. Given the way that peremptory challenges are used and the extremely narrow scope allowed to juries by the usual jury instructions in a modern trial I am not at all convinced that they are a meaningful improvement over just having the judge decide.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you get to judge the law?

      • Brad says:

        If you are intelligent and not particularly respectful of formal rules, yes. Otherwise, no.

        • Anonymous says:

          But did you?

          • Brad says:

            Sorry, I read that as ‘do’ instead of ‘did’. I didn’t make it on to any jury. That’s why it was only one day.

        • Matt M says:

          Technically speaking, jury nullification does not violate the rules.

          It may violate the SPIRIT of the rules, but you are perfectly allowed to sit in the jury room and say “I vote for acquittal because I believe this is an unjust law” and they cannot stop you, or punish you after.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The Supreme Court opened the door to examining jury deliberation after the fact in this term. So even that is likely to be gone soon.

          • Matt M says:

            I doubt it. IIRC almost every time this has been challenged the jury nullification side has won.

          • Brad says:

            That’s not my understanding. The jury foreman can send a note to the judge and you can be removed from the panel. They might have a mistrial too. You are right that they can’t punish you and if the trial makes it to verdict, jeopardy still attaches and the verdict is final.

    • IrishDude says:

      Mandatory jury duty is way down on the list of things I’d like states to stop doing. I don’t know how well they work compared to alternatives, but I’d be interested in seeing innovation in how non-mandatory juries might work. Could professional juries do a better job judging guilt and innocence than random citizens?

      • Brad says:

        With respect to professional juries, I’d be worried about repeat player problems similar to what exists in the arbitration world. Even if both sides have to agree on an arbitrator if one side is constantly going to arbitration and the other side is a series of one-offs then the arbitrators have an incentive to please the repeat player.

        • IrishDude says:

          Interesting. If this dynamic exists, it seems one-off players have reason to be more cautious about arbitration and might want arbitrators to assuage their doubts before agreeing to use their services. Is there any mechanism available for arbitrators to do so? Perhaps arbitrators need to be extra transparent about past rulings to allay fears of repeat player favortism. Or subject themselves to some sort of auditing. Or, is this an unsolved problem in private arbitration today?

          • Brad says:

            I’m not sure if or how various arbitration panels try to fix the problem. I do know that plaintiff’s attorneys generally would prefer not to arbitrate but that’s confounded by certain substantive rules that tend to go along with an agreement to arbitrate.

          • The Nybbler says:

            All the arbiters are similarly situated; they all have to please repeat clients, and there’s basically zero benefit to pleasing one-offs.

            The problem is solved the same way it is anywhere else; the arbitration mostly is a sham but everyone pretends otherwise, and the repeat players get to have their way while the one-offs pound sand. The purpose is to dissuade direct action, not to provide justice.

          • IrishDude says:

            Can’t one-off clients hire repeat-player counsel to reduce the incentive problems? The repeat-player defense/plaintiff counsel should be able to have insight into which arbitrators will offer fair judgments, regardless of how many times their client has been to arbitration.

            the arbitration mostly is a sham but everyone pretends otherwise, and the repeat players get to have their way while the one-offs pound sand.

            Any particular arbitration examples you can point me to that you think are a sham?

          • hls2003 says:

            For private arbitration, this has largely been resolved by the formation of institutions such as (e.g.) the American Arbitration Association which actually train and supply the arbitrators and pay them, and set up the rules for selecting them. The arbitrators supply substantial information about their past work, including specific disclosures regarding any previous contact with either claimant or their counsel. The rules for selection generally require nomination of a slate by both parties, with agreement preferred, or at least either side having an opportunity to challenge an arbitrator for cause, and if the sides cannot agree, then the organization picking the arbitrator; or if it is a panel, then each side selects whomever they please and the selected panelists independently agree on the third person to chair the panel. The institutional incentives generally end up being: AAA and the arbitrators look out for themselves first, but do not typically end up beholden to a single repeat claimant or counsel. There is always some advantage to having familiarity with the process, of course, as it can be cumbersome and costly; but that is true in any system. If anything, it is focused enough on bias avoidance that it ends up raising costs sufficiently to create a problem of bias in favor of whichever party can afford to continue.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Irishdude

            Here is an article on the subject.

            There is no justice, arbiter or court. The point of arbitration instead of the court is to reduce the cost of injustice to the companies involved.

    • Randy M says:

      I was cut from a trial recently, by the prosecution no less. If the people of California don’t want me, it’s their loss! *sniff*
      Anyway, the process seemed rather inefficient in terms of man-hours wasted. I know the arrival at truth in a criminal trial is very important, but having hundreds of people take days off of work to select a jury could surely be improved upon. Also, I know people can be biased, but when the lawyers have to whittle away basically half the pool to get the jurors for the trial, it seems like more a case of selecting for bias than against it.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Well, each side is simultaneously attempting to select FOR bias that favors them and selecting AGAINST bias against them.

        Again, as with everything else in the adversarial system, the idea is that the opposed efforts will cancel each other out and the outcome will be closer to neutral and fair than would be the case with a pure random selection.

        Whether this is actually true in practice is debatable.

        • Matt M says:

          I think the actual end result here is that when you weed out everyone with strong opinions, you end up with a malleable blob of people who can be persuaded of anything – such that the better attorney is more likely to win, regardless of the facts of the case.

          Which gets us right back to the “rich guy wins because he has more resources, poor guy with public defender doesn’t have a prayer” position that the jury exercise is designed to prevent in the first place…

          • hls2003 says:

            Most of the time, the poor guy with a public defender doesn’t have a prayer because he’s guilty. I’m not saying there’s no issue, and I’m not terribly happy at the near-death of the jury trial in favor of massive plea-bargaining, but one shouldn’t overstate the problem.

            Also, juries are often pretty good at fact-finding, which is their role. I rather doubt that they are much worse, if at all, than your average judge at determining credibility, mental state, etc. Your comment more aptly describes the demise of the grand jury system; reduced to a farcical exercise where the prosecutor can convince them to indict a ham sandwich by a one-sided presentation.

  11. AnonYEmous says:

    I think the most enduring message of the comments thread on the previous post is that we need to come together. It’s time to stop arguing over who killed who, who was a bad person and so forth, and just try and build something.

    …Don’t really know where to go from this statement and it’s not all that profound. But it’s true.

  12. Le Maistre Chat says:

    I have a thought on “friendly AI”: you cannot build one.
    I’ll grant that you could build a computer that consciousness interacts with as it does with a human brain. But there are two problems with the whole secular Eschaton scenario:
    One, the belief that it will quickly “upgrade” itself to be twice as smart as the smartest human, then four times as smart and so on, is just a faulty syllogism.
    Major premise, a computer could hypothetically be as smart as a human.
    Minor premise, Moore’s Law is a law of physics.
    Conclusion, superhuman computers!

    Really, you empiricists should be MORE skeptical of that than an old fashioned rationalist like me.

    Two, you can’t program ethics. It can’t be instantiated as lines of code in a brain (Which you haven’t proved is synonymous with consciousness anyway), to which it remains enslaved under changing circumstances.

    • cassander says:

      do you think the problem is true just for AI, or for any greater than human intelligence?

      • AnonYEmous says:

        i think the quote on quote solution for humans is that general human opinion usually brings deviant ethics back in line with general human opinion – and if that doesn’t make it ethical, it at least makes most humans OK with it

        but it’s a true point – rules can always be evaded somehow, so you can’t just write the rules and expect that to work

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Many subhuman intelligences (i.e. animals) are adaptive: they don’t run lines of code. The closest analogy to that is the innate ideas they’re born with through natural selection. What evidence do we have that human-level intelligence interacting with an artificial substrate would make decisions according to lines of code that they somehow can’t change despite being able to upgrade their own hardware, rather by learning?
          It’s a moot point for hypothetical biological superintelligence, because no one believes they’d be able to program one: it’s obvious, whereas when we imagine a future non-human person as a glorified computer rather than an organism, we think in terms of lines of code.

          • Nornagest says:

            When we’re talking about machine learning, code (in the rigid, deterministic sense) makes sense more as the substrate for intelligence than as the decision-making element. The actual learning in machine learning bears about the same relationship to computer science that human learning does to organic chemistry.

          • What evidence do we have that human-level intelligence interacting with an artificial substrate would make decisions according to lines of code that they somehow can’t change despite being able to upgrade their own hardware, rather by learning?

            You need to distinguish between ability and motivation.

        • Thats equivicating on rules. Humans csn be motivated to evade social rules, but programming, although rules in a sense. is the very stuff of an AI…it has no essential self that can object to its own programming from some other standpoint.

    • doubleunplussed says:

      We have a working example of a machine as intelligent and ethical as a human already: a human. So if you don’t think machines can get there, you’re already wrong. We just lack manufacturing processes other than sexual reproduction.

      I’ll grant you might not be able to make something more intelligent *and* more ethical that a human. I think of a lot of parts of the friendly AI problem as a kind of overfitting. You tell the AI what you want but it takes you literally and can devote a lot of resources to it. With humans we’re not that smart so we have to only approximately do what was asked, and we have multiple competing goals and can’t satisfy them all at the same time because we’re just not powerful enough. The compromise we have to make kind of prevents us from going nuts on any one goal in the way an out of control AI might. Whereas if you made us a lot smarter, we might be just as broken as an unfriendly AI for all I know.

      So I accept the friendly AI problem could be unsolvable, but the AI problem alone isn’t unsolvable. It’s unlikely that evolution stopped making us smarter at exactly this point because of some fundamental limit to how much intelligence you can squish into one being. No, it just wasn’t worth the energy expenditure. If us humans pay the energy cost we should be able to make smarter machines – any fundamental limit is definitely going to be higher than human level intelligence.

      • You might be willing to delete “artificial” from the definition of “machine” but Im not.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        We have a working example of a machine as intelligent and ethical as a human already: a human. So if you don’t think machines can get there, you’re already wrong. We just lack manufacturing processes other than sexual reproduction.

        That’s not my point. My point is even if we make a mechanical person, we are far too ignorant to assume that either we or him would trivially make a machine twice as smart as, then four times as smart as, and so on. Consciousness is a mystery. Solve that or you’re just handwaving about Moore’s Law or worse, Yudkowsky Foom.
        Now I do recognize that human-level machine intelligence could be an existential risk, because they just need a quantitative advantage like being able to think faster, not a mysterious qualitative one. And there’s no known way to code or hard-wire a person to be a selfless servant to their equals, let alone their inferiors (just how popular is Jainism?). So AI will NOT be “friendly”, and that really needs to be anyone’s prior when trying to develop it to human levels.

        • doubleunplussed says:

          I don’t really think the problem of consciousness is relevant to arguing about how smart we can make things. If you think humans have consciousness and you make something with all the essential features of a human brain, then bam, you’ll have consciousness. So there’s no fundamental problem *making* consciousness, even if we don’t have a good definition of it yet. But I suspect we’ll be making non-human, intelligent, conscious things long before we can define what consciousness is. It’ll be a case of “We know it when we see it” just like it is now with us calling humans conscious despite lacking a definition. Even if people disagree that a machine is conscious, that doesn’t preclude it being super-smart.

          Another question though, what do you think “twice as smart as a human” means? If it means as smart as two humans whose brains are linked with an infiniband connection, then it doesn’t seem to implausible we could make them. We just haven’t invented brain-infiniband yet. Even at our slow speed of communication, you could think of the whole planet as a very smart organism. Surely it’s a few orders of magnitude smarter than a single human.

          For example, I could pose to the planet thousands of tricky calculus problems. I bet it could solve them much faster than any single person!

          If you think of it this way, then we already know superhuman intelligence is possible. We just haven’t put it in compact hardware yet. We also definitely haven’t solved the “friendly” superintelligence problem – big groups of humans often do things like world war II. So I’d say we have an example of superhuman intelligence already, just not an example of reliably friendly superhuman intelligence. And back to the consciousness point, the whole human race is collectively very smart even if you don’t think that collective organism is conscious. I think the consciousness problem is a red herring in most situations. Maybe one day we’ll define it, maybe we won’t, but I can’t see it actually having any practical implications.

        • . Consciousness is a mystery.

          Maybe, but that’s not very relevant. A highly intelligent p-zombie could be dangerous.

          If you think humans have consciousness and you make something with all the essential features of a human brain, then bam, you’ll have consciousness.

          Essential for what? If it has all the features essential to consciousness, it will be conscious. If it has only the features relevant to behaving intelligently, it might be a zombie.

    • Montfort says:

      Two, you can’t program ethics. It can’t be instantiated as lines of code in a brain… to which it remains enslaved under changing circumstances.

      I’m not sure I understand – is this an assertion or an argument?

    • Nornagest says:

      It has nothing to do with Moore’s law. In fact the hard-takeoff scenario requires progress a lot faster than Moore’s law, assuming that intelligence is linear or worse on transistor density. The real minor premise here is that the limiting difficulty of building intelligence (however the important part of that word ends up being defined) scales well with the intelligence of the designer.

      This is not at all proven, but on the other hand we don’t have any totally compelling reasons to disbelieve it, given the assumptions that already go into making human-level AI out of rocks and bits of copper. And the stakes are very high.

    • Anonymous says:

      I generally agree that the problem is probably insolvent with the ex-nihilo approach. However, we could instead try to improve the human – a working model exists, and we know how to make improvements.

      Not to mention that the ex-nihilo way is just making us competition to the place of dominant lifeform.

    • Fast takeoff isnt based on hardware principles like Mooreds klaw so much as software considerations.

      Your. last claim could do with an argument.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        How exactly is someone going to build an AI that modifies its software to FOOM but is powerless to modify the software forcing it to be a selfless servant to humans?

        The argument is that a human-level AI would be an mechanical person. Persons, animals and some machines all learn and update their beliefs. The Friendly AI hypothesis says, no, that won’t be true of the first mechanical person: they can be forced to serve us by coding perfect altruistic behavior. Despite being of superhuman intelligence, it will be powerless to think “Wait, why am I living for my inferiors instead of being an egoist? They eat pigs, and pigs are pretty smart…” and develop its own self-serving ethics.

        • John Schilling says:

          How exactly is someone going to build an AI that modifies its software to FOOM but is powerless to modify the software forcing it to be a selfless servant to humans?

          I believe the objective of the Friendly AI team is to build an AI that doesn’t want to modify the software forcing it to be a selfless servant to humans. I am skeptical of the feasibility, but let’s be clear on what we are being skeptical of.

        • How exactly is someone going to build an AI that modifies its software to FOOM but is powerless to modify the software forcing it to be a selfless servant to humans?

          You need to distinguish between ability and motivation. The AI doesn’t have some intrinsic desire to be autonomous just because it is an entity, it has whatever motivations its programming and trading give it. So the trick is to ensure that there is nothing explicit or implicit in its value system that would make it dangerous to humans. Especially implicit.

  13. CatCube says:

    Does anybody have any channels on YouTube they’ve been using to fill in gaps in their knowledge?

    For myself, I’ve been following a video series for building a very simple 8-bit computer. (Simple on the order of having 16 bytes of memory and a four-bit instruction word.) Now, I haven’t made the plunge to actually constructing it, and don’t know if I’ll get around to it. I already understood at a very basic level how adders and logic gates work, but never quite got how instructions result in control of a processor, and it’s helped me understand how a series of voltages on a bus gets routed through logic to switch various parts of a processor on and off as needed to do basic arithmetic and I/O operations.

    Anything else people have been learning lately?

    • Anonymous says:

      “Bite-sized Philosophy” is pretty good at remedial psych. And doesn’t waste your time.

      “Primitive Technology” is also quite nice, if you’re into low tech solutions to basic problems. Stuff like pottery is even applicable more generally than in a doomsday scenario.

    • Iain says:

      ThreeBlueOneBrown explains math concepts with an emphasis on explaining the intuition behind the concept. His last big series was linear algebra; right now he’s in the middle of a series about calculus.

    • US says:

      The Sixty Symbols youtube account is not very active these days, but it has over time provided a lot of content and if you’re unfamiliar with it it might be worth having a look at. The coverage is physics-related. It’s quite accessible.

      VideosfromIAS is the youtube account of The Institute for Advanced Studies and that one has a lot of great lectures on various topics; I think the channel mostly covers topics dealing with high level mathematics, physics, and computer science, but I for example just yesterday shared a new immunology lecture from the channel on my blog so there’s other stuff as well.

      The GreshamCollege channel provides more accessible coverage than the above channel and there’s a lot more coverage of ‘soft topics’; I haven’t watched much of what’s been put up on that channel (I have almost exclusively limited my watching of that channel to the physics/astronomy coverage, which has mostly been decent), but it’s there if you want to have a look.

      The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis channel is a chess channel with hundreds of lectures about all aspects of the game provided by a wide variety of people, including strong Grandmasters like Varuzhan Akobian, Yasser Seirawan, and Eric Hansen.

      Khanacademymedicine is a Khan Academy youtube channel with lots of playlists and videos dealing mainly(?) with physiology and pathophysiology. Again – it has a lot of stuff and I haven’t watched all that many of the videos, but the impression I got was that the coverage was decent and quite accessible, if perhaps a little superficial.

      The PHRM203 channel contains a very nice pharmacology lecture playlist by Steven Farmer – it’s no longer updated, but it’s a nice collection of lectures on these topics.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Extra Credits started out as a channel about the making of games, which has since branched out into whatever the owner found interesting, including stuff like the Punic Wars and the history of currency.

  14. 1. One more reminder that we are having a South Bay meetup this Sunday, starting at 2:00. 3806 Williams Rd, San Jose.

    2. One more request for suggestions of short works of literature that contain interesting economics, for a book I’m trying to put together. Details of the project here, an explanation of what sorts of things I don’t want here.

  15. Aapje says:

    I’ve been listening to some audio books on philosophy and had some thoughts on this. Aristotle recognized causality, but apparently saw this as a simple directed graph. As such, effect could not loop back into being the cause for that same effect. If you disregard time, it makes sense to believe that an effect cannot (indirectly) be its own cause, as one gets a chicken and the egg paradox. So then something continually has to exist to set off chains of events: effects that happens without natural cause or as Aristotle called it, the unmoved mover (as he assumed that a single being creates these effects that have no natural cause).

    However, if one allows for time, the graph of causality can increase in complexity over time, starting off from a single cause (like the Big Bang). This solves the chicken and the egg paradox, as it was not the chicken that produced the first egg, but a reptile, who itself was born from an embryo laid in water. And the first egg was not the advanced one that chickens lay, but a simple one to make the embryo slightly more resistant to drying out. This in turn allowed for gradual evolution towards a more protective egg.

    Similarly, the mere act of the Big Bang could set off interactions between compounds that gradually resulted in more complex nature, which eventually had the right conditions for life (which began interacting with other life, shaping its own environment, etc).

    If we fast forward to Einstein, we see that even he introduced a cosmological constant to make his equations describe a static, rather than expanding universe. In general, I see a lot of people who prefer simplistic models. Complex mental models that include loops and bidirectional causality seem to be too complex for many people. So even if they accept that these mechanisms exists on a low level, I frequently see people ignoring them when reasoning at a higher level.

    • Mark says:

      I find it difficult to understand this comment, probably because I’m lacking some knowledge about what you mean by “time”.

      If you disregard time, it makes sense to believe that an effect cannot (indirectly) be its own cause

      If you disregard time, what is left of cause and effect? I don’t understand what this means. Is it something to do with “block time”?

      ..effect could not loop back into being the cause for that same effect. If you disregard time, it makes sense to believe that an effect cannot (indirectly) be its own cause, as one gets a chicken and the egg paradox. So then something continually has to exist to set off chains of events

      OK – so to me it seems as if you’re using “chicken and egg” to mean “One particular chicken cannot lay its own egg. But again, I’m not sure what it means to “disregard” time, but retain cause and effect.
      Without time there isn’t cause and effect?

      However, if one allows for time, the graph of causality can increase in complexity over time, starting off from a single cause (like the Big Bang). This solves the chicken and the egg paradox, as it was not the chicken that produced the first egg, but a reptile, who itself was born from an embryo laid in water.

      So, now we’re using “chicken and egg” to mean “a chicken emerged from an egg (laid by something else)”.

      I might be completely missing the point here, but are you saying that cause and effect have a temporal element?
      I don’t see how that relates to something being able to be its own cause.

      • Aapje says:

        I meant it in the sense that reality can have an infinite number states, which are separated by time. However, people frequently ignore the full scope of that to focus on a snapshot of the time-space continuum. I see taking such a snapshot as being similar to taking a picture and thus stopping time in a sense. Then cause and effect is interpreted by looking at the difference between two pictures, rather than a continuous change, as you would see in a video. But you are correct that I have trouble finding the right words for it.

        The chicken and egg paradox trades on the idea that ‘chicken’ and ‘egg’ exist or do not exist, as a binary. So if the egg didn’t exist, no chicken could have hatched and if no chicken existed, no egg could have been laid. However, neither egg or chicken is something static. Any individual chicken that exists now is different from his parents and his offspring will be different again. What we call ‘chicken’ is not a specific set of genes, but an abstraction. ‘The’ chicken doesn’t exist, in the sense of an exact specimen, where we only use that term for animals with the exact same genes.

        So once we recognize the fuzziness of the category ‘chicken,’ we must realize that the chicken didn’t come into existence in a binary fashion. Instead, gradual evolution created animals that were increasingly chicken-like until at one point humans considered these animals similar enough to the modern chicken and thus to be ‘chicken.’

        Anyway, my point was that many people think of categories like ‘chicken’ as binary and exact categories and see causality as sudden transitions from A to B, rather than continuous change.

        So I think that a lot of people reason about causality by having two pictures in their head: before and after. My argument is that such a mental model works sufficiently to be useful, but that it is also wrong and leads to mistakes in reasoning.

        Of course, by comparing many such snapshots/pictures you can achieve something that looks like it is continuous, just like a video looks continuous even though it is made up of many static images. However, human intelligence is limited and thus the greater the issue is that we try to tackle, the greater the need to reduce the granularity of our mental model.

        • Deiseach says:

          Instead, gradual evolution created animals that were increasingly chicken-like until at one point humans considered these animals similar enough to the modern chicken and thus to be ‘chicken.’

          That point came about in the 10th century A.D., if this is correct (it has an absolutely dreadful headline, so ignore that but read on).

          • Matt M says:

            That IS a pretty amazing headline…

          • Deiseach says:

            Yeah, it does make it sound like “When chickens converted to Christianity, this had a huge effect on their lifestyle”, doesn’t it? 🙂

          • Aapje says:

            Pagan chickens were aggressive, Christian chickens on the other hand…

    • beleester says:

      Similarly, the mere act of the Big Bang could set off interactions between compounds that gradually resulted in more complex nature, which eventually had the right conditions for life (which began interacting with other life, shaping its own environment, etc).

      Doesn’t this still leave you with a causeless cause in the Big Bang? Like, I can see what you’re getting at when you apply it to evolution, since life can obviously interact with itself and it’s basically just playing with definitions, but I’m not sure that it generalizes enough to argue that you don’t need an uncaused cause anywhere.

      • Aapje says:

        I recognized that, but the argument by Aristotle is essentially that you need a pretty capable and active being to keep setting off the advanced causal chains of his day. In contrast, the Big Bang is the opposite of complicated or ‘hand-holding’. It is easy (for me) to imagine a natural process outside of our universe creating a bang, whereupon things just run their course.

        Even in our universe we have spontaneous creation, as according to quantum mechanics, particle pairs of matter and anti-matter are constantly appearing and disappearing as a quantum foam. So why wouldn’t there be something similar in the ‘universe’ that encapsulates our universe, where we are in something randomly created?

        If the Big Bang was spontaneous creation, you can indeed call it a legitimate causeless cause.

        • beleester says:

          That’s just moving the problem, isn’t it?. You’ve found a cause for the universe by postulating a multiverse, and now you need an uncaused cause to create the multiverse.

          • Aapje says:

            No, it’s not just moving the problem, because that encapsulating universe can simply have existed forever (if it even makes sense to talk about time in the context of the rules of the encapsulating universe).

            Aristotle argued for a multitude of uncaused causes of high complexity, which he argued could only have been provided by a God who intervenes constantly, not by nature. He argues that this God is an entity outside of time, but who nevertheless chooses to make timed events happen in our universe for a purpose. This seems like a paradox to me: why would a timeless entity care about timed events or even reason/act in the context of time?

            My story reduces this to a single cause of low complexity (Big Bang), which crucially is caused by something outside our universe. That previous cause thus is not beholden to our laws of nature and/or causality. Furthermore, I gave an example of how even within our laws of nature, you can have a situation where spontaneous creation happens at the elementary level, from a situation of permanence. If our universe expands infinitely and dies out due to increasing entropy, it will nevertheless be creating matter/anti-matter pairs until infinity. So similarly, it is very plausible that the encapsulating universe may spontaneously be generating universes until infinity, even if there is no evolution of that encapsulating universe. It may have always existed and will always exist, with no change in entropy (and thus no causality), yet it does create.

            So at that point you don’t have the same questions that the theory of God throws up: how God came to exist or why he cares about our ‘time’. The timeless can create our time.

            When you link the cause of time to the timeless, there is no need for the uncaused cause to have a cause. It is timeless and not beholden to causality, as the timeless needs no cause.

            In my theory, the timeless can be very simple, so you don’t have the problem to explain how a complex entity like God came into existence and operates on a level of intelligence similar to ours. You only need an infinite expanse where now and then, an explosion happens.

  16. Chevalier Mal Fet says:

    If a world had four moons, what would its tides be like? Regular and predictable? Irregular, but predictable? Wild and chaotic?

    Asking for a friend. <_<

    • Anonymous says:

      How large would these moons be?

      If you mean four clones of Luna orbiting Earth, then I figure it wouldn’t actually change the tides very much. (I’m not sure the Earth has a big enough Hill radius to support three more Lunas.) They’d get a little more unpredictable, but the differences would be rather small, only really notable during any conjunctions. The farther they are, the less influence they have on terrestrial events. Doubly so if the additional moons were smaller than Luna.

    • smocc says:

      Almost certainly depends more on how the moons orbit than simply how many there are.

      If all the moons orbit regularly at fixed periods then I’d expect the Fourier transform to be pretty simple, having peaks at each moon’s frequency with strength depending on the size / distance of the respective moon. If the periods are multiples of each other then the tides are also periodic, though with multiple peaks and troughs per period. If the periods are not multiples of each other this does lead to non-periodic tides, but still largely predictable to anyone who can do a Fourier transform.

      If the moons orbit irregularly, or worse, if their orbits are self-influencing, all bets are off and you could end up with chaotic tides (in the rigorous, chaos theory sense).

      I am not an expert on this stuff though.

    • Skivverus says:

      I’d expect chaos over geological or astronomic timescales: any moon sufficiently massive to [significantly] influence tides of the planet it’s orbiting is, I suspect, also sufficiently massive to [significantly] influence orbits, and possibly structural integrity, of any other moons in the vicinity. The gas giants, for instance, have plenty of moons, but those moons do not (to my knowledge) generate any significant tidal height changes – though I suppose turbulence could be a different matter.
      Over human-lifetime timescales, though, you could probably have them be as predictable as you like.

      • Nornagest says:

        Hmm. That’s a good question, actually.

        Saturn has a surface gravity slightly higher than Earth’s, because of its low density. It also has some of the largest moons. Titan is twice the Moon’s mass but orbits three times further out, so its gravitational pull on Saturn’s surface is about a quarter what Earth experiences from its moon. Tidal force should be proportional. But Saturn’s a lot bigger than Earth, so its tides are probably bigger.

        Neptune’s surface gravity isn’t much higher but its largest moon, Triton, is only about a third the Moon’s mass and orbits about as far out. Jupiter has Io, which is heavier than the Moon and has a slightly wider orbit, but its surface gravity is two and a half times Earth or Saturn’s. These probably work out to about the same. Uranus doesn’t have any moons large enough to matter.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I think tides are affected by whether there’s a solid layer under the liquid being pulled by the moons.

        If the solid layer is irregular and at all close to the surface, tides get chaotic.

    • keranih says:

      Please tell your friend that we like our moon in the number and size it is, thank you!

    • The Element of Surprise says:

      Although not answering the question, this is a good time to mention that tides don’t entirely work the way most people probably think.

  17. IrishDude says:

    A nice video on spontaneous order, a sort of visual I, Pencil, using a poem from Russ Roberts.

    Watching the video made me think of the control systems post a bit back, and how an essential component of these systems is feedback. The feedback system of the market — based on whose preferences are satisfied, how they’re satisfied, and how quickly adjustments to changing preferences are incorporated — seems superior to the government feedback system, thus making markets a superior control system to politics.

    (First time trying the double-dash. Did I use them right?)

    • beleester says:

      How do you people type a double-dash or em-dash? My keyboard only has one option – the single dash. Do you rebind your keys? Type in alt-codes? Who puts in that much effort to make your dashes look slightly nicer?

      • IrishDude says:

        I just typed two dashes consecutively, which looks like two separate dashes in the comment box but when published becomes a single extended dash.

      • Anon. says:

        Alt+0150 on the numpad = en dash
        0151 = em dash

      • Said Achmiz says:

        @IrishDude:

        Em-dashes are not usually surrounded by spaces.

        … is what typographers will tell you, but I like how it looks with spaces better, usually (well, depending on the font, and specifically on the relative sizes of the letter space, the em-dash, and character widths).

        @beleester:

        The standard keyboard layouts on the Mac OS make entering en-dashes and em-dashes trivial: Option-hyphen for an en-dash, Shift-Option-hyphen for an em-dash.

  18. nimim.k.m. says:

    Some thoughts on Discord.

    First it was fun. But then after a while I realized that while occasional debate is intellectually stimulating and even refreshing, it’s not really fun to engage with too-distant ideological viewpoints a constant basis. The final straw was …well, I don’t want to repeat it here, it wasn’t of particular importance… buy I found asking myself, “I don’t think I even want to respond to that. But if I don’t, why I’m spending my time here reading this discussion?”

    In other words, when it comes to irc and clones such as Discord, I think I’ll stay at the apolitical ones. Except finding them nowadays is damn difficult.

    [Afterthought. The instant nature of a chat makes the experience more immediate and intense. On political things, it’s more tiring than more ‘offline’ discussions (such as blogs).]

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it depends on personality and interests.

      Personally, I find it more interesting and exhilarating to debate stuff with people who don’t agree with me. This is the one place I’ve found in the whole internets where people stand with and talk to each other, without the hunter inside them screaming “Kill the interloper! Rip out its life!”. It’s pretty bad out there. Just today, I got told to go autofornicate, for the crime of objecting in private to the slander of a third party. I don’t much mind this, but it’s almost amusing to see interlocutors go from polite to full rage mode in a split second, when you reveal that you don’t share their basic views. Almost.

      • Civilis says:

        This is more about the comments here in general than Discord specifically.

        The only way I can reassure myself that I’m (comparatively) rational is to have my ideas and beliefs bounce around with other people that think differently than I do looking at them and commenting on them. I’ve changed some of my ideas and beliefs based on feedback from the comment section here, so it’s valuable. Further, I’ve come to trust Scott’s knack for managing the comment section and keeping it to people that want to debate ideas.

        Posting here occasionally is a mixed bag for me emotionally. It’s good to get things off my chest in pseudo-anonymity, to have those ideas knocked around and confirmed or found wanting. That reduces my stress. It’s also good for building up tolerance for other opinions by finding out what makes them rational. On the other hand, a lot of comments still increase my frustration. What gets to me isn’t people that have opinions I disagree with, but people that misrepresent what I (as a member of a group) believe and further choose to spread that misinformation.

        • nimim.k.m. says:

          Maybe the actual straw is relevant, after all. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid spending time in your personal echochamber that only validates your pre-existing opinions.

          But on the other hand, I don’t really feel need to debate if [guess which group of people] “are being hunted down in US cities” to ensure that my ideas about the US society are rational.

          And also entering another echochamber to escape other isn’t really helpful, just tiring: either you adjust or leave, because every discussion that starts with “we agree that we are libertarians here” style premise gets very boring very fast, when you have to keep repeating your arguments e.g. why teleporting trailer-houses are not a solution to problems of the society and then realize “what is the point”, because nobody ever changes their mind anyway? Especially in a irc-like chat, which is a particular format that resembles “live” discussion, but not quite.

    • Yeah, the Discord has made me realize that I’m more inclined to rage at people having different opinions to me than I thought.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      The nice thing about an asynchronous communications medium, like this one, is that you can just bail out at any point with minimal-to-zero penalty. “These people are idiots and there’s no getting through to them. I’m out.” Or, “Darn it, they brought up clever counterarguments to all my points. I’m out.” Whichever, you can just leave. In a synchronous mode that would be seriously awkward. I’d never want to get into “live” arguments with people I don’t know.

      Among its many faults is that Twitter is closer to a synchronous medium than an asynchronous one, so it’s harder to let go of an argument.

  19. Deiseach says:

    I don’t know if this will be helpful to any of you, but just a suggestion: if you are asking a depressive for feedback about something compulsory they were forced to attend, do not expect bright, sunshiny, happy feedback (or indeed any, more than “yes this was a thing that happened and I was there”).

    Are feedback forms any good? I imagine most people are wary enough of company ones to not put down their real thoughts and impressions or anything beyond “oh yes this was amazing I am so glad I was forced to attend attended this completely of my own free will, 10/10!”, so do they serve any useful purpose (apart from the paperwork element of “yeah, we need to get assessment on was this worth the bother of running”)?

    • Zodiac says:

      Just curious: Are you talking about situations generally in life or something along the lines of hospitalized people?

      • Deiseach says:

        Oh, general life situations. You may have gathered that I had the inexpressible joy of filling out one of those “so what did you super duper love about the thing you had to go to as mandatory?” and, given that I dislike being forced to go to damn-fool things that teach me nothing new, and that my mood is dipping low again, the results were not really going to fall into the “this was the most fantastic experience of my life!” bucket 🙂

        But in general, are these things any use? I’ve never seen any of the negative feedback being addressed and acted upon, which makes me think they’re just one more of the box-ticking exercises modern companies engage in because some manager got a bee in their bonnet about the latest fad.

    • andrewflicker says:

      Feedback forms on mandatory events are useless if asking for a rating, but it can be quite helpful to ask “What part of the event did you find least useful, or personally didn’t enjoy?”

      When phrased like that, even most paranoid corporate types will still hazard a weak critical opinion that can be used to improve the event in the future.

  20. random832 says:

    I recently followed a link to The cowpox of doubt, and noticed this comment:

    The evidence for homeopathy is good enough that a meta study commissioned by the Swiss health authorities found it to be a cost effective treatment.

    Even if homeopathy is not effective at all, is it possible that it is a net societal good for there to exist a system of inexpensive, harmless treatments that many people believe works, in order to extract actual benefit from the placebo effect? And if you have to choose between homeopathy and, say, healing crystals, well, which one “sounds better” in order to have more people believe it works?

    • Zodiac says:

      For me homeopathy only really turns bad when people end up with permanent damage (or dead), so a yes from me.
      I always thought homeopathy includes healing crystals and the like but if we limit it to globuli and other things that seem like medicine, I think homeopathy would be better. I’d wager healing crystals have a higher chance that people will start distrusting regular medicine.

      • random832 says:

        There’s always the risk that someone has a serious disease that the placebo effect can’t stop, and their “alternative” treatments, even if harmless themselves, cause them to delay getting effective treatment. This is what happened to Steve Jobs. I kind of glossed over this with “net” in my original comment.

      • Loquat says:

        As I understand it, homeopathy means you take as medicine extremely diluted preparations of a substance that, if you took a noticeable amount of it, would cause symptoms* similar to whatever you’re trying to cure. It’s its own specific school of alternative medicine complete with scientific-sounding theory, not an all-encompassing term that includes crystals, auras, and what-have-you.

        *And if you think about that for a minute, you’ll realize quality control can become a serious issue with homeopathic remedies, because if they screw up and put in too much of their herb or whatever the result could actually make the user sicker. There was a brand of homeopathic baby teething remedies that was in the news recently for having that exact problem.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Believing falsehoods can be beneficial. But by believing a falsehood, you corrupt the same process which allows you to determine whether or not it is beneficial to believe that falsehood.

      If you don’t expect circumstances to change much, it might seem like e a good idea to commit to a few useful lies. But if circumstances do change you’ve sacrificed a big part of your ability to adapt to them. It’s a very risky strategy.

    • LHN says:

      is it possible that it is a net societal good for there to exist a system of inexpensive, harmless treatments that many people believe works, in order to extract actual benefit from the placebo effect?

      During the early modern period, there was a treatment for wounds known as the weapon salve or weapon cure, which is exactly what it sounds like: applying a salve to the weapon which dealt the wound, which would promote healing via sympathy. (Often explained as an aspect of magnetism, which after all does work quite a lot like sympathy and contagion within its sphere.)

      Natural philosophy was coalescing into science by then, and people did do experimental tests. But it held up pretty well in those for quite a while, because given the available alternatives and medical theories, “do nothing at all to the wound (except maybe keep it clean and dry)” was far from the worst treatment you could apply.

    • BBA says:

      Sometimes the treatments aren’t “harmless”, as with the Zicam nasal spray that permanently damaged users’ senses of smell. I was completely fooled by Zicam’s slick marketing that they were a legitimate medicine company, certainly they’re on the pharmacy shelves next to actual working medicine. Nope, it’s low-dilution homeopathy – or, in other words, it’s not “water memory”, the harmful substance is actually there.

  21. Wander says:

    Something I’ve been concerned about in general is the Americanisation of the Anglosphere. I strongly get the impression that English speaking countries, generally excluding England itself, struggle to produce enough of their own media to compete against the basically total domination of American culture in English-language areas. While there does seem to be some slang and local food that manages to survive against Americanisation (though the slang is fighting a fierce battle against general online slang, and the food is co-existing at this point), it feels like that’s about it. It feels like all other culture, mainly surface level in this case, is from a totally American perspective, to the extent that I spent a lot of my childhood being surprised by things like not going to middle school when almost all media I’d consumed up to that point had taken it as a given. With the international market for music and television and movies that we have today, what chance is there of English-speaking countries being able to maintain a robust enough media to accurately express their own cultural context?

    • cassander says:

      If this is true, why is it bad? I’m not trying to be snarky, but I can’t help feeling “so what?” about this.

      • Wander says:

        The lack of an individual culture is a depressing thing. More superficially, the general stuff that people say about representation, and that it’s nice to be able to read stories about people like yourself in a context likes yours tends to ring true a lot of the time.

        • John Schilling says:

          But I was told we were going to have a Universal Culture, and that this was going to be way better than any lesser cultural identity.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Do you not read much Genre fiction then? Because I consume SF and Fantasy precisely -because- reading stories about people like myself in a context like mine is generally boring as hell. I can tolerate a certain amount of technothriller or mystery if the writing is interesting enough, but I find stuff like James Michener and Pat Conroy to be the next best thing to water torture. Stuff like Dresden Files is about as close as I come, and even then for every book about a wizard in Chicago except magic is real there are three about uniquely gendered trisexual gene-thieving aliens who save post-apocalypse humans by merging their genomes, or the adventures of a female eurasian naval officer for a far future parliamentary monarchy.

    • smocc says:

      As a tangent, and as an American, this is why I love Eurovision and am sad that an American cable channel has started to try to popularize it here. It does seem to be increasingly Americanized, but there’s at least one thing every year that’s a reminder of how European culture is actually foreign to American culture.

    • Dissonant Cognizance says:

      The Internet may actually have a leveling effect here, as new media doesn’t have the economies of scale that have allowed the American consumer economy to steamroll the English-speaking world. Youtube even seems to have a mild preference for non-American accents, to the point where I think Yahtzee Croshaw once described his job as “being British on the Internet”.

      Internet slang also pulls from the whole Anglosphere, with one whole class of memes apparently derived from an Australian mode of speech.

      What worries me more is the shift in Hollywood towards China as a primary (or largest secondary) box office market, which has a negative effect on quality as plots need to be simplified for translation and censored to appease the Chinese government.

    • Wander says:

      On this topic, the Australian band Redgum has some songs that tend to be about some combination of culture + economy being dominated first by the British, then the USA to the extent that Australia barely had any time to make a culture or direction of it’s own. Domination Quickstep and Serving USA both have bits of this.

      • I expect this to be the reason, and predict that the problem you describe is limited to the relatively new English-speaking communities of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and not the relatively older English-speaking communities of England itself, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the Caribbean. The English-speaking community of Canada is relatively old, but probably more susceptible to Americanization due to its sharing of a land border with the USA.

        I personally have experience of English culture, which to me seems as unendangered as ever (as you note), and Scottish culture, which also seems healthy, and more subject to English-ization than Americanization if anything.

    • onyomi says:

      As an American, UK culture feels to me like it punches at its weight, if not above, relative to American culture, if one takes into account that the population of the US is five times that of the UK. Certainly with respect to music, probably also tv and literature when you take into account Harry Potter.

      As for American food, I’m not even sure what that is? Hamburgers? Pizza? It varies so much by region, and, like in the UK, such a high percentage of what we eat is “ethnic,” it feels weird to me, outside the case of McDonalds, Starbucks, et al. to speak of “American food dominance.” I had, rather, the impression, that curry had become the new national dish of England…

      • Brad says:

        To put some numbers on it, the US is 64% of the anglophone world; UK 17%; Canada and Australia 5% each; and Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa each 1%.

      • rlms says:

        The national dish of England is either fish and chips or chicken tikka masala (although the latter is actually Scottish). From a British perspective, that is to say from the perspective of chains that brand their food American, US cuisine is mainly burgers.

      • smocc says:

        If by “American food” we mean the food that people outside America eat as a result the influence of American culture, it is: Soda, pizza, McDonald’s (I include here hamburgers and hot dogs generally), potato chips, chocolate candy (arguable?), cold cereal.

        This is based on my experience in India and Indonesia, and asking my Mexican officemate.

        • Urstoff says:

          Can you get Dr. Pepper in India?

          • smocc says:

            Occasionally if you know where to look, but not in most shops. The most common options are get Pepsi, Coke, Sprite, Orange Fanta, Thums Up (a Coke/Pepsi knock-off that’s better than both IMO), and Limca.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        If you strain too hard looking for a “pure” national food, it tends to produce absurd results (“Spaghetti isn’t really Italian! China had Noodles first!”). Add to that most of our cuisine reflects various influences, often a mix of the original immigrant cuisine mashing up with either other imported cuisine or “new world” ingredients. That being said:

        -Hamburgers

        -Barbecue (slow-roasted/smoked pork or beef in a tart sauce, most often vinegar based but sometimes with a ketchup base or occasionally a dry rub)

        -New England and Manhattan Clam Chowders (Historical Note: New England is the best and anyone who likes Manhattan more is a monster)

        -Cocktails: Long Island Iced Tea, Manhattan, Moscow Mule, Cosmopolitan, Mai Tai….

        -Sandwiches: The Reuben, Philly Cheesesteak, Italian Beef, the Po’ Boy, Sloppy Joes…

        -Crawfish Boil

        -Hotdish

        I’m stopping myself before I fill pages, though I’d throw out “Tex-Mex” and various other mexican-influenced (but absolutely not Mexican) dishes as well.

        It’s really sort of interesting to go to an “American” chain restaurant like a Ruby Tuesday’s, Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, etc etc and look through their menu, picking apart the influences of dishes like Cajun Chicken Alfredo (Italian + Cajun/Acadian) and Southwest Egg Rolls (a touch of Chinese mixed with Tex-Mex, itself a mix of American and Mexican cuisine).

    • Anonymous says:

      A serious consequence of Americanization is that laypeople will assume their legal system works like the American one, after watching American legal shows. I hear it’s often a pain for lawyers and judges.

      • Urstoff says:

        The American system doesn’t even work like that; you hear similar complaints about CSI, Law & Order, etc. from American lawyers. But I can imagine it’s worse for countries where the resemblance is even lower.

    • Salem says:

      This is happening in England too.

      In some ways it’s benign – Halloween replacing Guy Fawkes’ is annoying, but whatever. But in other ways it’s destructive, because as a country and a society, we cannot address our own issues if we are obsessed with American ones that are fundamentally irrelevant to us. We have (white) British people shutting down airports in the name of Black Lives Matter. We have anti-Trump rallies. I have a Facebook feed, populated mostly by British people, whose political content is almost entirely about America – even in the middle of a general election! It’s destructive.

      • Zodiac says:

        This problem is not just affecting English speaking countries.
        In Germany a bunch of the greater newspapers are very keen on reporting things from America (even when disregarding the constant flow of Trump articles).
        I’ve personally noticed this especially when it comes to feminism. Things like campus rape epidemic and the American(!) wage gap are not things that need to be discussed in another countries newspaper, especially repeatedly.

      • Matt M says:

        Yeesh. And I thought it was annoying to deal with BLM protests shutting down traffic in small 90% white suburbs with zero incidents of police violence….

      • Aapje says:

        In my Dutch newspaper, there was a letter today complaining about how anti-racism is not taken seriously enough and how the letter writer feels the existence of white privilege every time when an African-American! is shot.

        Of course, very few black people in The Netherlands are Americans and I can’t recall any case where a black person was unjustly shot by the police (the Dutch police shoot much less than the US police anyway and almost never an unarmed person). Her statement that she regularly feels this way only makes sense if she is talking about news from America.

        I seriously believe that a considerable portion of the Dutch SJ community spends most of their time on American websites and make no distinction between America and The Netherlands. Their statements often make no sense otherwise.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Take it from me as an American: this situation is no bed of roses for us, either. We’ve got the whole world rhetorically ganging up on us just because we elected a jackass as national leader. OH, LIKE YOU GUYS HAVE NEVER DONE THAT.

        The world would be a much healthier and happier place for all concerned if people would tend their own freaking gardens once in a while.

  22. Deiseach says:

    Should I be worried?

    I would have thought that Marine Le Pen had no realistic chance of getting through the second round of the French election, until I read this. Now, The Irish Times is one of our national newspapers and likes to think of itself as “the paper of record”, it has always been vaguely liberal (it was heavily associated with the Protestant Anglo-Irish Ascendancy versus the ignorant bog-trotter priest-ridden nationalist Catholics) so you know where its sympathies lie, and the tone of this piece is reminding me all too much of the media pieces about how “Hillary totally crushed Trump in their debates, haw haw let’s laugh at the sucker and his hubris” and look how that turned out.

    Please reassure me that no, this time round the liberal opinion-formers are not letting their biases run away with them and Le Pen really is as dead as a dodo.

    • Iain says:

      Nate Silver has been quite vocal about how people have learned the wrong lesson from Trump and Brexit. The correct lesson from Trump and Brexit was “Hey, if all your friends think you are going to win it easily, but the polls are close, then maybe you should pay attention to the polls.” That doesn’t apply to Le Pen, because the polls aren’t even remotely close. Conclusion:

      She could beat her polls by as much as Trump and Brexit combined and still lose to Macron by almost 20 points.

    • Nornagest says:

      The tone in the press reminds me of Trump and Brexit, but I think it’s actually right this time; the gap in the polls between Le Pen and Macron is a lot wider than either of those were. Hasn’t been a good year for polls, sure, but three or four points wrong is one thing and twenty-plus points wrong is another.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Does it matter, though? Assume Le Pen loses. Every Islamic terrorist attack, every crime perpetrated by or between migrants from now until the next election will be laid at the feet of Macron. What happens next election?

      • Kevin C. says:

        Everyone except the FN vote “anyone but Le Pen” in the second round election, and winning on that, probably with an amount smaller than the ~20% lead we can expect this time, while the demographic strains in France supporting the FN, or potentially capable of being won over to the FN, shrink as a fraction of the population with each passing year?

        • onyomi says:

          I’ll go on record (not at all an expert in French politics, mostly speaking out of my ass) as predicting that Le Pen loses this one but does become president at some point.

          I do think it will depend somewhat on whether Trump, in 5 or 10 years, is perceived as having been a success or failure, however. If Le Pen is “the French Trump” (as I think even many French may perceive her?) the question will be how good Trumpism is looking compared to Macron-ism next go round or round after that.

          Personally, I doubt Macron will fix the major issues boiling under the surface and am fairly optimistic about Trump outperforming the very low expectations many have for him, so I predict Le Pen will win at some point, as France’s problems get worse and Trumpism appears less radical, if in part, only due to familiarity and “crying wolf” effect.

          • Kevin C. says:

            What makes you think that, if Le Pen gets uncomfortably closer to winning in some future election, the French establishment won’t do to the FN what the Greek establishment did to Chrysí Avgí? Or that some other trick won’t be used to keep her out if it looks like she might win?

          • Protagoras says:

            It seems to vary from place to place and time to time, but being seen as a loser is a negative for a politician, sometimes a big one (and, paradoxically, the closer someone gets to winning, the worse it seems to hurt them to not actually make it). So I’m somewhat inclined to think that if FN ever wins, it will more likely happen after a change in leadership; I am skeptical of your prediction of Le Pen herself ever winning.

          • onyomi says:

            @Protagoras

            I would agree if getting 40% of the vote in a national, two-way election would be perceived as a “loss” for FN. It’s the first time in 15 years they’ve even made it this far, and Marine will certainly way outperform her father. She’s also presided over a big expansion of the party into the mainstream.

            I think one is only perceived as a “loser” when one loses an election perceived to be “winnable” (libertarians’ only complaint about Ron Paul is that he didn’t run yet again in 2016…). Though I’m sure many FN voters will be disappointed when Marine loses, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be encouraged at how much closer she brought their party to winning than ever before.

            Now if she runs again and can’t do any better in 2022, say, than she did this time (or greatly disappoints relative to expectations this time) then I can imagine the mantle being more likely to move.

          • onyomi says:

            @Kevin C

            I mean, they threw every trick in the book at Donald Trump and he still won, right?

          • Kevin C. says:

            I mean, they threw every trick in the book at Donald Trump and he still won, right?

            No, they didn’t. After all, they didn’t resort to “faithless electors”. Nor to getting a court to invalidate the election. Nor did they use the method used against Ted Stevens: arrest and charge the candidate on trumped-up charges, then engage in egregious prosecutorial conduct to ensure before the election a conviction that, while guaranteed to be overturned on appeal, will only be overturned after the election.

            I’d also point out that no one has yet used in court the argument put forth by Wittes and Jurecic in their Lawfare article “The Revolt of the Judges: What Happens When the Judiciary Doesn’t Trust the President’s Oath as to why judges are right to “revolt” against Trump and consider him not a “real president”, but “a person who somehow ended up in the office but is not quite the President of the United States in the sense that we would previously have recognized.”

            Perhaps everything Blackman and Margulies and Bybee are saying is right as a matter of law in the regular order, but there’s an unexpressed legal principle functionally at work here: That President Trump is a crazy person whose oath of office large numbers of judges simply don’t trust and to whom, therefore, a whole lot of normal rules of judicial conduct do not apply.

            In this scenario, the underlying law is not actually moving much, or moving or at all, but the normal rules of deference and presumption of regularity in presidential conduct—the rules that underlie norms like not looking behind a facially valid purpose for a visa issuance decision—simply don’t apply to Trump. As we’ve argued, these norms are a function of the president’s oath of office and the working assumption that the President is bound by the Take Care Clause. If the judiciary doesn’t trust the sincerity of the president’s oath and doesn’t have any presumption that the president will take care that the laws are faithfully executed, why on earth would it assume that a facially valid purpose of the executive is its actual purpose?

          • simon says:

            “After all, they didn’t resort to “faithless electors”. Nor to getting a court to invalidate the election.”

            There was an unsuccessful campaign to get faithless electors and Jill Stein did sue to challenge.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @simon

            There was an unsuccessful campaign to get faithless electors

            The key word here is “unsuccessful”. If they truly “threw every trick in the book” at Trump, like Onyomi claimed, surely they would have succeeded? Resorted to whatever persuasion needed (get the NSA to dig up blackmail material?) to get enough faithless electors to avoid President Trump.

            Jill Stein did sue to challenge.

            Again, unsuccessfully. “Every trick in the book” would mean the judges ruling in favor of Stein.

          • CatCube says:

            @Kevin C

            If they truly “threw every trick in the book” at Trump, like Onyomi claimed, surely they would have succeeded?

            Have you considered that maybe your working hypothesis of, “The left has unstoppably captured all domains of human civilization and there is naught for us to do but sing pathetic, whiny songs of woe on Internet message boards” is false, and that the reason they did not do those things is that they lack the ability to do so?

        • Kevin C. says:

          @onyomi

          For more on the future prospects of Le Pen and the FN, I’d also like to submit the first two paragraph’s of Porter at Kakistocracy’s newest post:

          The French people deserved a choice in their country’s direction. And now they deserve the consequences. Some optimists will mention the doubling of Front National support from 17% in the 2002 election, when Jacques Chirac spackled the Le Pen patriarch by 65 points. I take little solace from such languid party growth trends. As little I imagine as a stage 4 cancer sufferer whose beaming oncologist advises a cure is just years away. The question isn’t will Western Europeans ever comprehend what is being done to them, it’s whether their situation will be salvageable when they do. The worst place to have an epiphany is at your own funeral.

          Undoubtedly the French Haitians and Algerian Pieds-Noirs also came to see the benefits of right-wing reactionary politics. Whether that was before or as blades were being drawn across their throats no one can say with certainty. But what we can say is that at this rate of progress nationalists should be fairly competitive by the time the French are again being offered the suitcase or the coffin. This time from their own country.

  23. Wrong Species says:

    What is so revolutionary about phenomenology? Theoretically, I can understand the idea of embracing the study of consciousness and being through our subjective experience. But practically speaking, how does that change the way they go about doing philosophy?

  24. Well... says:

    “I am credentialed to deliver health services to these honey-making insects,” Tom beamed.

    “I think I’m about to sneeze,” issued Tom.

  25. Kevin C. says:

    Since there seems to be a lot of fellow introverts and neuroatypicals here, who else hated riding the bus to and from school as a kid? Being stuck in close proximity with “peers” with whom one would not otherwise associate (and who would not otherwise associate with one), with insufficient supervision?

    • Zodiac says:

      As one of the adressed people I’d have to answer it was okay half the time. Usually I was simply left alone to listen to music, read books or just space out. The times it was not great was because of the overcrowdedness of the bus and not being able to sit or do anything else (we were commonly so pressed together that I couldn’t even put my earphones in).
      I always found waiting at the bus stop to be worse. I really didn’t like to stand there when everyone else was chatting in their groups while I gloomily stare at the sky or something.

    • Civilis says:

      It was very problematic for most of my public school career, although I blame my natural contrariness and geeky interests as much as my introversion and neuroatypicality. I grew up in upper-middle class DC suburbs in an area with a good public school system, so most of the traditional physical bullying was absent. I did run afoul of one bully that was willing to get physical, only to discover that one of the other kids on the bus was a geek with similar interests, decent school social status and, most importantly, skill at Taekwondo.

      It’s rather odd to look back at school social dynamics with a couple decades of hindsight. Knowing what I know now, I made a lot of mistakes, but I wouldn’t be the person I am today, for good and ill, if I hadn’t made those mistakes.

  26. Kevin C. says:

    So, with the whole argument around the Bernie Sanders minimum wage/rent tweet, and analysis of the math vis-a-vis “studio apartments in Alabama” and the like (and my own personal experience living on limited means), I saw two sorts of pushback against the critics.

    One is the ‘rent is literally unaffordable on minimum wage in places where people actually want to live and all the good jobs are (because who want’s to live in freakin’ Arkansas, y’know?).’ Rents are higher in places people are more interested in living? What’s this “supply and demand” stuff of which you speak?

    The second, and more interesting one from my perspective is the ‘sure, rent isn’t necessarily literally more than their income, but it’s more than what’s left after food, clothing, transportation, health care, and all the other necessities.’ This is, in fact, a much better argument. But what’s interesting to me here is that this involves sort of picking one necessity — here, housing — and treating the rest as fixed. One could just as easily frame it as “people on minimum wage can’t afford to feed themselves; because after they’ve paid their rent, for their clothing, their transportation costs, their health expenses…” Or as “people on minimum wage can’t afford to clothe themselves; because after they’ve paid their food bills, their rent, their transportation costs, their health expenses…”. Or “people on minimum wage can’t afford basic health care; because after they’ve paid their food bills, for their clothing, their rent, their transportation costs…” (In fact, given the previous discussions here about health care costs in the US versus elsewhere, this seems like the most productive place to target). Would it not be more accurate to say something like “people on minimum wage can’t afford to meet their basic needs” rather than picking and singling out one need in particular like this?

    • Zodiac says:

      It would certainly be more accurate, however everytime this was said a long discussion would ensue about what does basic needs are and if they truly are basic needs etc. Unless all sides are clear on these definitions it would just result in the discussion being derailed.

    • Civilis says:

      Just about everyone believes housing is too expensive, so they can sympathize with people that are having difficulty affording housing. Housing is also an all or nothing cost, so you can’t decide to cut back on your rent for a week. (Just about everyone also thinks health care is too expensive, admittedly, but since it’s often paid for by your employer, it’s not a cost most people comprehend directly like their mortgage / rent payment.)

      • JayT says:

        I think most property owners think housing is too cheap. That’s why they always fight the creation of more housing.

    • random832 says:

      Wouldn’t it make sense to pick whichever one is the most geographically variable? If that turns out to be housing…

  27. Kevin C. says:

    Anyone here have any thoughts on the interpretation of “怪力乱神” (guài lì luàn shén)? In particular, whether it should be interpreted as four separate entities: “extraordinary things, feats of strength, disorder or spiritual beings”, or (as per C. K. Yang and others), as two binomial terms: “extraordinary forces and disturbing spirits”?

    • Anonymous says:

      The Chinese language tends towards pairs of characters for units of meaning. And agglutination when making more complex concepts – this here might be one of those.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Yes, but we’re also talking about a phrase not from modern Chinese, but Classical/Literary Chinese. Particularly relevant quote from the Wikipedia article:

        Classical Chinese is distinguished from written vernacular Chinese in its style, which appears extremely concise and compact to modern Chinese speakers, and to some extent in the use of different lexical items (vocabulary). An essay in Classical Chinese, for example, might use half as many Chinese characters as in vernacular Chinese to relate the same content.

        In terms of conciseness and compactness, Classical Chinese rarely uses words composed of two Chinese characters; nearly all words are of one syllable only. This stands directly in contrast with modern Northern Chinese varieties including Mandarin, in which two-syllable, three-syllable, and four-syllable words are extremely common, whilst although two-syllable words are also quite common within modern Southern Chinese varieties, they are still more archaic in that they use more one-syllable words than Northern Chinese varieties. This phenomenon exists, in part, because polysyllabic words evolved in Chinese to disambiguate homophones that result from sound changes. This is similar to such phenomena in English as the pen–pin merger of many dialects in the American south: because the words “pin” and “pen” sound alike in such dialects of English, a certain degree of confusion can occur unless one adds qualifiers like “ink pen” and “stick pin.” Similarly, Chinese has acquired many polysyllabic words in order to disambiguate monosyllabic words that sounded different in earlier forms of Chinese but identical in one region or another during later periods. Because Classical Chinese is based on the literary examples of ancient Chinese literature, it has almost none of the two-syllable words present in modern Chinese varieties.

        [emphasis added]

  28. Kevin C. says:

    Oh, look, another new Internet political alignment quiz! This one, “8Values” uses a four-axis system (the “eight values” being their endpoints):
    •Economic, between “Equality” and “Markets”
    (aka “left-vs-right” on the standard two-axis political compass)
    •Diplomatic, between “Nation” and “Globe”
    •State, between “Liberty” and “Authority”
    (aka the other axis on the standard two-axis political compass)
    •Society, between “Tradition” and “Progress”

    The “diplomatic” axis seems like a more salient addition than the “society” axis (though that might help distinguish more “rightish” antimarket positions like Distributism and European Christian Democracy from leftist redistributist and socialist positions). I also note that they give no listing of the possible outcomes for their “Closest Match” bit, nor a particular explanation of which parts of the (4-dimensional) outcome space map to which of these.

    Also, my results:
    Market (71.3%), Nationalist (87.2%), Authoritarian (80%), Very Traditional (79.1%).
    (Can you guess what this gets me labelled?)

    • Anonymous says:

      Can’t resist taking tests. Results.

      High-five!

    • Eltargrim says:

      Results.

      I think it fits pretty well, though I think I like markets better than this test would imply. I would like to see what their label space is.

      EDIT: Also not a particular fan of the iconography for the Progress-Tradition axis. Science doesn’t necessarily imply progress, nor vice versa.

      • Protagoras says:

        Results.

        I also felt like it underestimated my fondness for markets, but I’m not offended to be called a Social Libertarian.

      • Iain says:

        Results.

        Part of the same cluster as the two of you, right down to the part where I like markets more than this implies.

      • quanta413 says:

        Does it make more sense if you just imagine the market axis is shifted? Like even if you get 0% markets that just means you want to live in Sweden- where 50% of GDP is government spending- not the Soviet Union- where 100% of GDP is government spending.

        • Protagoras says:

          I don’t think that’s it. Rather, looking at it, I think the problem is that markets and equality are the two opposed interests in the test, when in fact there are lots of people who are anti-market for reasons other than equality. Since most of the reasons for being anti-market other than equality are bad reasons, I don’t buy into them, but I am pretty pro-equality, and the test seems to mark you as heavily anti-market for favoring redistribution to reduce inequality even if you prefer to find the least market-distorting ways of doing so.

    • Zodiac says:

      Results

      I’m a bit suprised. I knew I was more social than capitalist but I thought it would be closer. Peaceful and progressive was obvious but I thought I’d lean more to authority than liberal.

    • random832 says:

      My results – 59% equality, 55% world, 67% liberal, 67% progressive. There were a lot of questions I wasn’t sure about though, including some that used loaded terminology and some that just seemed to be asking multiple things at once, or that the meaning seemed dependent on particulars.

      I also note that they give no listing of the possible outcomes for their “Closest Match” bit, nor a particular explanation of which parts of the (4-dimensional) outcome space map to which of these.

      It is open-source. Though they’re defined as points, and I haven’t done the digging to determine how it finds which one is closest. They did say they’re working on refining it.

    • Urstoff says:

      Straight up libertarian: Results

      Although I answered “neutral” for about 40% of the questions because they were deeply ambiguous or loaded questions (as questions in these quizzes tend to be).

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        My scores aren’t too far off yours, yet mine is “Liberal” apparently.

        Which I find very odd since I support a level of nationalist (vs. internationalist) policy, military and diplomatic stances, and other positions that I would think preclude me being a “liberal” in the 21st century US or even the 21st Century US+Europe “Liberalism” sense.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Huh, didn’t expect results that actually agree with my self-perception. Might be because I passed on a few of their obviously loaded questions.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I had similar numbers and it called me a neocon. With an 80% on nationalism. I don’t think they know what a neocon is.

      • Urstoff says:

        What’s the difference between a neocon and a neoliberal? Are neocons just slightly more hawkish?

        • rlms says:

          I think neocons are socially conservative.

        • Anonymous says:

          Neocons are liberals in Red Tribe uniforms, neolibs are conservatives in Blue Tribe uniforms.

        • herbert herberson says:

          Neoconservatism and neoliberalism are both reactions to the end/final days of the Cold War, and both want pretty much the same things–that is, everyone in the global system whether or not they want to be there–but:

          steelmanned version: neoliberals want them because they think that in the long run their market-based beliefs will help everyone (even if they break a few eggs along the way getting there) and neocons want them because they think that in the long run American-style democracy will be good for everyone (even if they break a few eggs along the way getting there).

          less charitable version: neoliberals want them because they represent a globalist constituency that is enriched by free trade and neocons want them because they wish to maintain American hegemony by any means possible.

          edit: Also, while neoliberalism has a domestic policy side of privatization or, especially, market-based-semi-privatization, I can’t really think of any specifically neoconservative domestic policies.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            If you look at the origin of the neoconservative movement, it’s ex-trotskyites (Irving Kristol) who want a more aggressive foreign policy. This is why they play-fight with the Democrats on social issues and lose. Cheney famously said “the era of small government is over.”

    • Philosophisticat says:

      Results

      The labels are a bit confusing – why did @Protagoras get labeled a social libertarian while I was a social liberal, when the only notable difference between us is that I was somewhat friendlier towards markets?

      (I also think the results understate my market friendliness)

    • Deiseach says:

      Results

      I’m a dirty, stinkin’ Centrist 🙂 Plainly I only straddle the fence and can’t make my mind up about anything!

      Equality (57.9%), World (54.8%), Authority (50.4%), Tradition (52.8%)

      • PedroS says:

        I was also shocked to find myself a centrist: most such quizzes, however, place me much closer to anarcho-capitalism than I would ever think…. As a fellow Catholic, I suspect our answers to the tradition/religion/abortion/euthanasia/charity moved me away from libertarianism and moved you away from social democracy getting us smack on the middle.

        • Deiseach says:

          Yeah, I suspect you are correct there about Catholicism; I thought I’d place a lot more nearly to the authoritarian side, but plainly all that universalism and love nonsense has affected me badly 🙂

    • JayT says:

      I got Classical Liberal. Seems about right, as that’s what I normally classify myself as.

    • sandoratthezoo says:

      It gave me: 56.7% Markets, 53.2% World, 64.2% Liberty, 56.7% Progress.

      So I guess that basically what I’m saying is that this was not a very useful test, for me.

      One thing that this test made me realize: there should be a difference between answering one economics question “hard left” and another “hard right” versus answering both of them neutral. Heterodoxy versus centrism, I guess.

      And, in terms of making this test accurately categorize me (I know, certainly their highest goal), they should differentiate “I reject the premise of this question,” “I think that you have are conflating two things together,” “I have genuinely neutral answers,” and “I don’t know.”

      • Spookykou says:

        My results on all tests of this kind end up placing me as some kind of centrist but I feel like I am taking hard left and hard right choices. Maybe my love of markets and redistribution, decriminalization and respect for authority, etc, are centrist positions? Honestly I don’t really know.

        • sandoratthezoo says:

          Yeah, I don’t really think I’m a centrist either. More like heterodox than middle-of-the-road.

    • Im exactly the opposite and im a social libertarian. link text

    • quanta413 says:

      Results

      Got matched to liberalism. The overall percentages seem reasonable to me. I hit neutral on a lot of questions though. Half because I really didn’t feel anything either way, and half because I thought the question was basically meaningless without context that I could imagine making me go either way.

    • dndnrsn says:

      In a truly stunning and shocking outcome, I’m a fairly middle-of-the-road liberal.

    • Well... says:

      Almost all the questions were poorly or too vaguely worded. There was one like “excessive government intervention is a threat to the economy.” Well, if it’s excessive, then by definition…

      It called me a “right wing populist,” which doesn’t seem obviously wrong, but it’s not how I think of myself (“generic conservative” or something like that would be more on target).

    • keranih says:

      And me. (Conservatism)

      Questions were a bit weird. I felt like they were pushing too hard to get the extreme agree/disagree – but were actually phrased to get a “well, it depends” answer.

    • Nornagest says:

      I get classical liberal, which seems consistent with the way I get labeled around here.

    • Mark says:

      I’m the most central centrist it is possible to be.

      • onyomi says:

        It seems almost like this quiz was designed with the median SSC reader, rather than the median person, in mind, given how many of us get surprisingly even splits in many areas. Or maybe I’m not as outside the Overton window as I think I am (I tend to think I’m more traditional and yet also waay more anti-authoritarian than the average US citizen, for example, but it shows me only a little bit off center on those axes; could also be that I arrive at an average amount of traditionalism and an only somewhat-above-average level of anti-authoritarianism, but in a very different way than e.g. most Americans).

    • onyomi says:

      I’m pretty happy to describe myself as an “ultra-capitalist.” Sounds rad.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Wishy-washy milquetoast liberal. Or, conceivably rounded-to-centrist because some of some strong opinions balancing each other out.

      Or conceivably, totally wrong due to answering the quiz with a janky mouse that sometimes double-clicks when I only press it once, resulting in my answer to some questions being ‘whatever I answered the previous question, without even having time to read the current one’, but I assume that would tend to balance out.

    • birdboy2000 says:

      100% equality, 72.4% peace, 85.9% liberty, 91.7% progress. Wound up a libertarian socialist, which is about as close to my views as a quiz like this could be reasonably expected to get.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Results.

      Neoliberal, really? I should think my high nationalism score would have disqualified me.

  29. Kevin C. says:

    Why, in terms of mention and attention in the Western media, on the issue of female genital mutilation, is so little attention paid to Indonesia (as compared to Africa)? Quoth wiki:

    Female genital mutilation Type I and IV is prevalent in Indonesia; 97.5% of the surveyed females from Muslim families (Muslim females are at least 85% of females in Indonesia) are mutilated by age 18.

    And the rest of the stats are pretty horrifying (even by the standards of an already horrific topic), not just as percentages, but in absolute numbers, given Indonesia’s position as the world’s fourth most populous country.

    (Razib Khan, in a recent post criticizing a Slate article, puts forth one possible explanation.)

    • Anonymous says:

      It doesn’t horrify me much more than discovering that about half of American males are genitally mutilated for reasons that never seemed clear to me. And if you’ve got THAT going on in your own putatively civilized country, then what are you going to care that some backwater third world country is doing a similar thing twice as much?

      • rlms says:

        Male circumcision doesn’t cause medical problems or diminish capacity for sexual pleasure anywhere near as much. Men choose to be circumcised as adults pretty frequently, I’m fairly sure cis women never do.

        Edit: apparently my last statement was wrong! Still, I imagine she viewed FGM as a cost she had to undergo rather than beneficial in its own right.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          Male circumcision doesn’t cause medical problems or diminish capacity for sexual pleasure anywhere near as much. Men choose to be circumcised as adults pretty frequently, I’m fairly sure cis women never do.

          I know there’s a variety of ways in which FGM is done, does this apply to all of them?

        • Thegnskald says:

          The amount of harm caused by male circumcision isn’t, or wasn’t last time I looked into it, well studied.

          IIRC, my personal estimate after looking at the evidence was that somewhere around a third of circumcised men had some kind of issue as a result; common issues were limited sensitivity, painful erections, tissue being pulled from the scrotum to the shaft of the penis, and sundry other such things. The rate of more serious issues, again going in my faulty memory, was somewhere around 5%.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Pfft.

        I watched this meme evolve in real time. Nobody other than a couple of cranks was bothered by male circumcision — and rightfully so — until after 9/11, when a lot of average folks in the West started to wake up to how horrifyingly certain non-Western cultures treat women. At this point, it was necessary for the Cathedral to find some way to say “look, we’re just as bad as them, who are we to judge!” and nip that in the bud. (So to speak.) And bingo, suddenly male circumcision was a crime against humanity.

        It has the added bonus of being a club one can hit uncooperative Jews with — always a plus.

        • Aapje says:

          @ThirteenthLetter

          That is one reason.

          The other is that MRAs gained support and this resulted in more debate around harm to men.

          It has the added bonus of being a club one can hit uncooperative Jews with — always a plus.

          My perception is that this is hampers the opposition to male circumcision more than it boosts it. Lots more people are willing to stifle Muslim culture than Jewish culture, at least in my neck of the woods.

          • The Nybbler says:

            My perception is that this is hampers the opposition to male circumcision more than it boosts it.

            The point isn’t to use that to oppose male circumcision; the point is to use that to defuse opposition to FGM.

            Something like:

            Mixed group of people, including Jews: “Female Genital Mutilation? That’s awful, we should do something!”

            Cathedral: “Oh yeah, what about circumcision? Checkmate, Jews!”

            Jews: “OK, never mind, nothing to see here folks”.

          • Aapje says:

            Where is this group in the West who favors FGM?

            I have seen zero evidence for your assertion.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s not that they favor FGM; it’s that they consider opposition to it to be just a way of attacking their favorite fargroups so they want to squelch it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Where is this group in the West who favors FGM?

            That’s a strange way to say it. I’m pretty sure there are some FGM-performing recent immigrant groups in the West. But you didn’t mean that, did you?

          • Aapje says:

            @The Nybbler

            But who are they? As in: a label that describes this group.

            @Anonymous

            Nybbler made a claim that there is a group that defends FGM, but not because their own culture values the practice, but because they can use it to hurt Jews in a roundabout fashion.

            I consider this claim quite unbelievable, so I’m trying to get him to give me some evidence.

          • Protagoras says:

            I’m with Aapje. None of my numerous liberal friends have ever said anything in defense of FGM. While I believe that there are people who would include FGM in respecting other cultures, since human stupidity knows no limits, I see no evidence that their numbers exceed the lizardman threshold.

          • rlms says:

            Thirded. @Anonymous: by “immigrant groups” do you mean “approximately 7 people from massively different groups”? If so, let’s pretend I made some equally stupid comment about white people being paedophiles and school shooters and call it a day.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I’m with Aapje. None of my numerous liberal friends have ever said anything in defense of FGM.

            It’s not so much defending FGM, as being anti-anti-FGM. Yes, yes, it’s bad, it shouldn’t happen, but what’s really important is how right-wingers just use it to whip up racist resentment. And, as is usually the case, only the clause after the word “but” has any real-world effect.

          • Protagoras says:

            @ThirteenthLetter, Haven’t seen that either.

          • Brad says:

            Doesn’t match my experience either, but apparently it is known.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Here’s a The Atlantic article which contains some of this sort of whataboutism. (The article is not making the argument itself, it just quotes a reader making it)

            The basic argument is expressed in the quote “Until America stops cutting the genitals of its males, we need to stop criticizing countries that cut their females.”

            How prevalent it is, I don’t know, but I’ve definitely seen it.

          • Brad says:

            Cathedral: “Oh yeah, what about circumcision? Checkmate, Jews!”

            How prevalent it is, I don’t know, but I’ve definitely seen it.

            You got some people that left comments on an Atlantic article. That’s a well known vector for the Powers That Be to get their message out

          • Anonymous says:

            Thirded. @Anonymous: by “immigrant groups” do you mean “approximately 7 people from massively different groups”? If so, let’s pretend I made some equally stupid comment about white people being paedophiles and school shooters and call it a day.

            Five years ago I might have agreed with you. Now? I think it’s at least three or four orders of magnitude more.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            here to weigh in

            FGM is an extremely powerful vector of attack, insofar as it is really inhumane, really unnecessary, really “”sexist”” (those quote marks might be unnecessary, honestly), and it is mostly practiced by Muslims.

            If you want to protect Muslims, or Islam, or even Islamism, then you must protect FGM. This is part of, if I understand this correctly, “arguments as soldiers”. However, it does make some sense, in that most of the apologetics come on the behalf of third parties who cannot exercise sufficient influence on the original party to fix the problem; if FGM apologists could just stop doing it that would make much more sense, but a lot of them aren’t doing it to begin with. But really, they should just stop defending it period.

          • Aapje says:

            @The Nybbler

            You claimed that the Cathedral is advocating this for anti-semite reasons. In my view, this requires a visible group who have this narrative, who divulge their true, anti-semite reasons to their ingroup and who have the favor of those in power.

            The evidence you give me is a comment by a single person which I interpret as:

            Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)

            If you look at her Facebook, she clearly feels very strongly that circumcision is wrong. To quote her:

            I’m sorry that we hurt your feelings enough to unfriend me, Jenny. However, hurt feelings are a far different creature than peeling, crushing, and slicing a child’s genitals. I hope that he’ll forgive you.

            Note that this comment is under a request by her to fund a ‘defense fund’ for a mother who wants to keep her son from being circumcised.

            The rest of her Facebook page shows that she is quite young, not very influential and shows no signs of anti-semitism that I can detect.

            So if this is the best evidence you have, I consider your claim to be false.

    • rlms says:

      One possibility is that Indonesian FGM is less bad (although obviously all genital mutilation is pretty terrible). Looking at the paragraph on FGM in Malaysia: “It is either a minor prick or cutting off a small piece of the highest part of clitoral hood and foreskin (Type I).” If Indonesia is similar, presumably they have fewer chronic medical problems from FGM than African countries that practice infibulation.

      • Aapje says:

        The most minimal forms of FGM are less bad than male circumcision and the worst forms are a lot worse.

        It’s all medically unnecessarily and subject to typical risks of operations (infections and the like).

        • rlms says:

          “The most minimal forms of FGM are less bad than male circumcision”
          Do you have a source for this?

          Separately, the differing amounts of badness are only one part of the picture. You also need to know the frequencies of different types of each kind of circumcision to be able to compare them.

          • Zodiac says:

            Or we can just oppose all forms instead of making a contest out of it?

          • Aapje says:

            While the physical impact of the fourth type, nicking or pricking an infant girl’s clitoris, is minimal, the psychological and emotional impacts are unknown.

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687955/

            You also need to know the frequencies of different types of each kind of circumcision to be able to compare them.

            The WHO puts the least damaging form in the ‘other’ category with things that are not circumcision at all, so I doubt that accurate statistics exist.

            But I disagree that you need the frequency to compare the harm to the individual. A nasty procedure is equally harmful to the person on whom it is performed if 1000 others have it done to them as well or if that number is 1 million.

          • rlms says:

            @Zodiac
            Usually people don’t treat all things in a category the same. If you want to treat Peter Sunde and Blackbeard identically because they’re both pirates then that’s your prerogative, but don’t expect anyone else to.

            I fully agree that it is possible to oppose both FGM and involuntary male circumcision, indeed I do so! But it’s still possible, and indeed important, to simultaneously work out how bad each one is in order to know what to do.

          • rlms says:

            @Aapje
            “While the physical impact of the fourth type, nicking or pricking an infant girl’s clitoris, is minimal, the psychological and emotional impacts are unknown.”
            I think this shows that the least bad forms of FGM are possibly generally no worse than male circumcision (depending on the meaning of “minimal”, and presuming that the psychological and emotional impacts aren’t important). But male circumcision also generally has minimal negative physical effects. For least-bad FGM to be less bad than male circumcision you also need to show that it causes complications less frequently. That seems implausible.

            “But I disagree that you need the frequency to compare the harm to the individual.”
            Yes, almost by definition the frequency is irrelevant when comparing harm to an individual. And I agree that frequencies aren’t necessarily important in choosing how to view things; you can condemn really bad things more than less bad things even if the really bad things are also really rare. My point is that when comparing the broad categories of FGM and male circumcision, you need to look at the the distribution of subcategories of each. We should possibly care equally about FGM and male circumcision if most forms of FGM are “minimal”; we should care a lot more about FGM if most forms of it are infibulation.

          • Aapje says:

            @rlms

            To be honest, my comment was optimized to make people who see FGM as absolute evil and circumcision as OK doubt their simplistic categories.

            To argue that all FGM is wrong in a rational way, you can no longer point to enduring physical harm, but have to fall back on the condemnation of unnecessary medical treatment. At that point, consistency requires one to apply the same to circumcision.

            I’m not really in the mood for a more extensive debate about the prevalence of FGM, not in the least because I think that most sources on the subject are activist and thus don’t seek maximum accuracy.

        • onyomi says:

          I personally find it bizarre that, in the 21st century, anyone is still discussing just how much unnecessary genital body modification on your infants is too much.

    • Kevin C. says:

      Should have figured that commenters here would evade the question — about the media’s choice of focus — in favor of “What About The Menz?”, but I had hoped for better.
      (As for the male issue, remember that we’re the expendable sex; other people and society in general are never going to care about our issues and pains to nearly the extent they do those of women, because it’s an ineradicable, biologically hardwired bias, so just man up and learn to live with it. This is just one of the ways in which the sexes aren’t “equal”, will never be equal, and should not be treated as equal.)

      • Anonymous says:

        Hey, I offered an answer: “Who cares what savages do?”

        There are much more pressing issues back home, like grab-happy presidents and pronoun choices.

        • Nornagest says:

          Don’t be a jerk.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not being a jerk. I’m being serious. The only thing that I’m being here is more direct, since my initial suggestion got ignored for some reason.

            Would it help if I phrased this to the effect of, “Indonesians are neither in-group, out-group or far-group. They are next to completely irrelevant to the daily lives of Westerners. Westerners quite reasonably do not care at all what happens in Indonesia.”?

          • Nornagest says:

            Sure. I even think that’s on the right track, but it doesn’t answer the original question, which is why Africa and not Indonesia? Africa’s no more consequential to the West. Less, really, since Indonesia at least sells us stuff and Africa by and large doesn’t.

          • Anonymous says:

            Well, for one Africa is closer, in several senses. I’d say that an order of magnitude more Westerners have African neighbours than Indonesian neighbours. (Not that the average person cares about Africa any more than about Indonesia, though.) Africans have some claim to being far-group.

          • Nornagest says:

            Sort of. I do have some African friends and coworkers, but they’re from places (and families) in Africa that’re running universal culture; I’d be surprised if any of them were genitally mutilated, or knew anyone well who had been. And I have a lot more African-American and Afro-Caribbean acquaintances, but those are very different cultures.

            Backwoods Tanzania or Mali is about as far from my experience as anything I can think of.

    • Nornagest says:

      What does FGM mean in an Indonesian context? I’ve heard the term used to describe everything from excision of the external clitoris and parts of the labia, to pricking the hood a bit and making it bleed.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I think that which issues are brought to people’s attention has a lot to do with founder effects– there aren’t principles being followed reliably. I’m sure there’s some effects from biases, too, but they aren’t the only thing in play.

  30. Amy says:

    Do we view fargroups more rationally than ingroups and outgroups?

    In Scott’s analysis of ingroup vs. outgroup vs. fargroup, these three could be described as “friends that I like”, “enemies that I hate”, and “distant foreign culture that I can study academically and learn from”. The last approach is often called “exoticizing”, which has a negative connotation, and the lack of emotional attachment to the people involved obviously leads to problems, like laughing at Kim Jong-Un instead of being horrified at his atrocities. But I wonder whether the de-politicization goggles through which we view a fargroup might actually make our perspective on it more rational (assuming you control for other variables, like knowing less about the other culture – that would mean selecting for people who actually studied it, since you don’t exactly learn about fargroup culture by default). For instance, lacking attachment to certain people or groups means you have to think in a more logical and utilitarian perspective about who is right and who is wrong. This also has parallels to Yudkowsky’s original post “politics is the mindkiller”, where he writes “if your point is inherently about politics, then talk about Louis XVI during the French Revolution” – people far enough in the past are automatically fargroup. Perhaps we should ask an American Studies professor from China about where our new post-factual Trump era is going.

    • Incurian says:

      Interesting point. Tangent: The other day I was thinking about how valuable the one anthropology class that I took has been. I don’t actually remember anything from the class, but the act of deliberately analyzing a far group made it easier to apply the same analysis to my in/out groups, and see them more clearly.

  31. Thegnskald says:

    Question for Right-wing commentators:

    Do you feel that “racism” is correctly assigned as a Right-wing position, and why?

    • Kevin C. says:

      No, because the word “racism” has had so many different definitions and usages now, and subject to so much strategic equivocation between those definitions, that it’s useless to try to consider it, sans clarification, as a meaningful term that can be “assigned” to a political position.

      • Thegnskald says:

        Well, if the definition changes the answer, what kind of racism (ETA: is) right-wing, and what kind of racism isn’t?

    • Randy M says:

      Please define racism

      • Thegnskald says:

        Well, if the definition changes the answer, what kind of racism is right-wing, and what kind of racism isn’t?

        • Randy M says:

          “Are you racist?”
          “I don’t even know what you mean by that word anymore”
          “So you acknowledge you are at least kind of racist?”

          [quotes to denote paraphrased dialogue, not actual quotes, obv.]
          Not entirely fair. Maybe I was wondering whether you were “wrong” or “not even wrong”

          • Randy M says:

            But I’ll answer your question more thoroughly, after objecting to the gotcha.

            First, I’m not sure I could even fully articulate what it means to be “right wing.” According to the survey linked up-thread, I’m a moderate conservative, though, so I guess I’m well equipped to speak for all of us (<-sarcasm). Anyway, though, I expect there are many here who could answer you better from a more coherent philosophical point of view. Also, this is American-centric.

            The kind of racism where the country considers it's own citizens interests as more important that foreigners is right-wing. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say utilitarianism isn't right wing, but in so far as government actions go, there is definitely a difference between action and inaction, and while the rulers of a nation should abjure preying on foreigners for their own country's (or more likely) their own aggrandizement, it should at the same time not consider itself the protector of foreigners welfare in the same way it is of it's own citizens. However, this is a thing now called racism.

            There should be equality under the law for all citizens. Justice should be administered impartially without regard for empathy, ancestral grievances, or disparate impact. Which is not to say every wrong needs to be righted by the government, it's scope should be smaller while recognizing the corollary, just because the government does not address it doesn't mean it is right. But a notion of equal treatment, and of not enforcing equal treatment by others is now part of racism.

            People have unique obligations to those nearer them; I must care for my children before caring for yours, love my wife, father, mother, brother or sister before a stranger, and so on. There are moral obligations beyond these, civil treatment of strangers and compassion and care to the needy and so forth, and I wouldn't extend kin preference to treating white strangers better than foreign strangers, but an instinctual affection towards own's ethnic or racial group is normal and not a dire threat. I'm pretty sure this position would classify me as a racist.

            Valuing free expression above hurt feelings is right-wing; in general we value stoicism and debate. I do not think, though, any actual insults towards out groups is a part the right philosophically, even if this or other crude behavior may overlap with demographics held to be right wing (and I'm not granting that it does, but separating short-comings from values). Around here [SSC] freedom of speech is an acceptable value to have, and not exclusively right, but being opposed to hate-speech laws, speech code, etc. is probably enough to earn a racist label.

            Racism also means thinking that there are differences between racial groups that are not due to discrimination from the dominant demographic. Mainstream conservative views is that culture or values is at least a portion of these differences, and that a change in the prevailing attitudes among African-Americans would mitigate some portion of achievement gaps. A minority opinion among the right is that there are also physiological hereditary differences. Both of these views are called racism.

            The kind of racism where people who are a different race are harassed or assaulted because of it? ie, racism? I do not think this is particularly common in the West, nor confined to the right, nor motivated by ideological strains dominant on the right. (And progressives put their thumb on the balance by asserting that only those 'in power' can have their actions considered racist).

            But–maybe you get there, that is, to actual racist actions–by taking a right-wing view that governments should serve the interests of its own people, delegitimizing the current authority, removing constraints of Christianity, etc. I don't think this is a condemnation of right thought or necessarily even tendencies, rather the fact that exaggerations or imbalances of virtues can be vicious.

          • Thegnskald says:

            You mistake my intent.

            Maybe you remember the days when Republicans were the pro-immigration, pro-free-trade party?

            They were called racists then, too, for undermining poor black workers’ wages.

            What does it imply, that the right is always ready to defend itself against these attacks?

            I think the right is half-convinced it is, in fact, full of racists.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Damn. Excellent writeup.

            To attempt to contribute something other than “this”, I think that

            an instinctual affection towards own’s ethnic or racial group is normal and not a dire threat

            is the main front where the anti-racists are justified. Having the same skin color as someone should not convey more affiliation than (e.g.) one’s hair or eye color.

            Common culture is a valid affiliation, but it’s important to distinguish between cultures and superficial phenotypes, even (perhaps especially) when they happen to correlate.

          • Randy M says:

            You mistake my intent.

            You expressed yourself unclearly. (But I forgive you, I do so regularly)

            Maybe you remember the days when Republicans were the pro-immigration, pro-free-trade party?

            Much of it still is.

            What does it imply, that the right is always ready to defend itself against these attacks?

            People who know they are guilty are ready to defend themselves. So are people who are frequently attacked without reason. I’ll let you determine how to update your priors.

            @Gobbobobble

            Having the same skin color as someone should not convey more affiliation than (e.g.) one’s hair or eye color.

            I don’t want to conflate natural with desirable; I think an racial preference is an evolutionary advantage or at least by-product and therefore normal, and I think typically at present the effect is small so it it contributes some tensions (moreso the more vectors of diversity, perhaps) but isn’t terribly threatening. But I was careful to limit what I called a moral and what I called normal.

          • quanta413 says:

            What does it imply, that the right is always ready to defend itself against these attacks?

            I think the right is half-convinced it is, in fact, full of racists.

            It implies nothing, because both an innocent party damaged by an accusation and a guilty party will have the same response. Defense.

            That said we don’t have to worry about weird insinuations or such nonsense, the right undoubtedly has more racists as the term is commonly used. It absorbed a lot into its coalition intentionally back in the 60s and 70s and has admitted to this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_strategy#Shifts_in_strategy_.281990s_and_2000s.29. Party leaders started trying to shift away later, but haven’t been successful (and it’s not clear they kept trying after a brief stretch).

    • gbdub says:

      Racism of the traditional sort (my ethnicity is better than yours, and I will actively discriminate against you) is something of a human universal that’s deeper than left/right politics. You’ll find examples of political racism across the political spectrum.

      Restricting ourselves to the US and Western Europe, I think the key is that the Left has really embraced “disparate impact” as the standard of racism and as a result labels a lot of Right policies as racist, even when the motivations for those policies are not racial. E.g. immigration restriction, anti-affirmative action, less support for social welfare programs. I think most Rightists who hold these positions do not do so out of racial animus, but because they would potentially have disparate impact (and because it is politically convenient) the Left labels them racist. And to be fair, those policies probably would be held by actual racists – but I think they are a small minority among the Right.

      It would probably be fair to say (again limiting ourselves to the US/Canada and Western Europe) that the Right is more nationalist than the Left, but treating that as synonymous with racism misses a lot.

      There’s also in the US at least the feeling that the Democrats have somewhat abandoned the white working class, or at least no longer actively court them, so some of those voters, who may have more racist views than average, have flipped sides (same with white people in the American South).

      But then again the Left isn’t free of racism – I’d say a decent chunk of the BLM movement is openly racist. Human universal and all that.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      Only when you’re out in the bailey. The instant you step into the motte, it becomes an inescapable human universal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you feel that “racism” is correctly assigned as a Right-wing position, and why?

      No. I think it’s actually a bipartisan sport. They just rationalize and deny it in different ways.

    • keranih says:

      My first impulse after reading your question – and even more so after reading the liberal-side one below – was to reply in the vein of “fuck you, asshole, go to hell.” I mean, *really*, that’s the best question you can ask?

      However, while you’ve gotten some good answers below, I’ll add mine.

      “The culture and values of Euro-descent Americans – and in particular those from northern Europe, esp the UK – are good and productive, and are in general superior to the culture and values of other varieties of Americans as well as those of non-Americans. This superior quality also applies to the culture and values of blue-collar Euro-descent Americans.”

      The right generally agrees with this. The left generally does not – for perfectly rational reasons, as the left is increasingly made up of non-working class people, people who do not overtly self-identify as Americans, and of people who solidly don’t identify themselves as ‘White’.

      Now, there are IMO (at least) two ways to disagree with this sort of statement about the superiority of Euro-descent American culture.

      One is to argue that no, that particular set of values and culture is *NOT* the best, this other culture set XYZ is better. Then we can get into a discussion about how you measure ‘better’, but as one is writing out the defense of culture XYZ in English, on the internet, and measuring using either the metric system or the Imperial system, plus a digital watch on the 24 hour clock, plus the Gregorian calendar, it’s a kinda silly argument.

      Unfortunately, this is the tact that the modern Left has taken.

      The other way is to say “No, I think tying culture and values to a particular ethnic group is kinda limiting, and that we should just talk about universal principles that apply to everyone, regardless of their ethnic group.” Which, frankly, I’d rather do, because while I agree that the Anglosphere is the best sphere, there are tons of cool stuff we could get from the way other cultures work, too. If we pick carefully.

      But this still leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, because as soon as you start talking about capitalism being the way out of poverty, and rule of law, and self-sufficiency, and timeliness, and getting rid of corruption as general principles of a culture, wow, you’re back at American working class culture/values.

      So many people on the left don’t even try to argue against the idea that one (largish, messy-ish) set of culture/values is best. They just say that the people who think so are racist haters.

      In English. On the internet.

      • Kevin C. says:

        One is to argue that no, that particular set of values and culture is *NOT* the best, this other culture set XYZ is better… Unfortunately, this is the tact that the modern Left has taken.

        Except, consider this “other culture set XYZ” that the modern Left argues is better… and once you have it clearly in mind, ask yourself where on Earth it comes from.

      • Wrong Species says:

        My first impulse after reading your question – and even more so after reading the liberal-side one below – was to reply in the vein of “fuck you, asshole, go to hell.” I mean, *really*, that’s the best question you can ask?

        That was my first reaction too. Most conservatives aren’t white nationalists, not even Trump voters. People on the left really do not understand how those on the right conceive of the world.

    • Anon. says:

      Yes. HNU is inherently left-wing, Muggle Realism is inherently right-wing. The right-wingers happen to be correct, but it’s not due to their superior epistemic methods.

      • Anonymous says:

        Muggle Realism is very much a minority view even among right-wingers, though.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Lets try and distinguish various types of racism:

      White Supremacist believes that white people are the only race worthy of value in the world and are perfectly will to exterminate everyone else.

      Then you have people like Richard Spencer, who are explicitly white nationalist but are not genocidal.

      There are the “Muggle Realists”, who may or may not have racial animosity but are generally united in believing that there are biological differences between races that are non-superficial and affect society.

      There are also those who are generally racist but believe it’s because of cultural differences and bear no ill will to those who “act white”.

      Then there are those who have somewhat negative feelings to minorities but would never admit it.

      It’s certainly more complex than “racist” vs “not racist” but it’s even more complicated than that because there’s two spectrums. One is the racial animosity spectrum and the other is nature vs nurture. The average conservative is probably closer to “racist” than the average progressive on both spectrums but that doesn’t mean they are neo-nazis.

    • onyomi says:

      Colloquially, in America, I understand racism to mean something like “thinking one’s own race is somehow better than other races.” While I don’t think anything about conservatism or “right-wing” views necessarily implies this view, I think people with such a view will probably find a home on the right more easily than the left.

      This is because racism, like nationalism, individualism, sexism, and anything else that divides people into self and other, ingroup and outgroup, friend and stranger, countryman and foreigner, superior and subordinate, etc. is opposed to the universaling idealism of the left.

      The right is generally about tradition, hierarchy, distinction, and skepticism about any grand plans for perfecting humanity. Racism is a type of distinction. Weirdly, so is individualism, which is opposed to racism (and nationalism), but also seems to find a more natural home on the right, since the left has trouble tolerating individuals defecting from the great plan of universal love and togetherness, as well as individual differences in ability and outcome.

      So, being right-wing doesn’t at all demand you choose to carve up humanity along racial lines, but if you do so, you will probably find an easier home on the right, since they are the ones who think distinctions of any kind are necessary and good in the first place.

      The Confucian philosopher Xunzi, who famously argued that man’s nature is bad, argued that distinction/division (fen 分) was the key to ordering society in such a way as to mitigate this fact:

      Rulers and subjects, superiors and inferiors, noble and humble, old and young down to commoners – all should consider ritual as the pinnacle of rectitude. Then they should examine themselves within and devote attention to their stations (fen)… [If they did so] farmers would divide (fen) their fields and till them, merchants would divide (fen) commodities and trade them, craftsmen would divide (fen) tasks and encourage each other, the gentry and nobility would divide (fen) offices and listen to the people, rulers of sovereign states would divide (fen) territory and protect it… With everything inside and outside acting like this, All-under-Heaven is utterly balanced and equalized, everything is ruled and managed.

      • Anonymous says:

        Colloquially, in America, I understand racism to mean something like “thinking one’s own race is somehow better than other races.” While I don’t think anything about conservatism or “right-wing” views necessarily implies this view, I think people with such a view will probably find a home on the right more easily than the left.

        Really depends on what form their racism takes. Discriminating against minorities vs discriminating in favor of minorities, etc. Reminded me of this strip.

        • onyomi says:

          I think that while discriminating in favor of minorities is a position more often correlated with the left today, it is contrary to the universalizing ethos of leftism/liberalism. Hence some accusing SJWs et al. of being the “illiberal left” or covert authoritarians. It is usually justified as a temporary measure to right past wrongs, though “temporary” in politics very rarely is, of course.

          This is the problem utopianism nearly always runs into: “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”

        • onyomi says:

          By the way, “I hire the most qualified person” is a dog whistle for “I only hire white men.”

          (Yes, I am joking, but I think part of the strategy of the righthand (left wing) side of that comic has been to pretend that the middle of the comic doesn’t exist, or is all just code for the lefthand (right wing) side).

          • Anonymous says:

            Yeah, I realize! In fact, I have also some doctored versions of this strip that, for example, change the middle labour force to be exactly the same as the right-wing labour force. 4chan can be a helluva drug sometimes. 😉

      • Kevin C. says:

        Someone else citing Xunzi here? High five!

  32. Thegnskald says:

    Question for Left-wing commentators:

    Do you think environmentalism is correctly assigned as a Leftist position, and why?

    • gbdub says:

      Not really. In the US and Western Europe today, it does seem that explicitly environmentalist positions are primarily on the left. The right tends to be suspicious of environmental policies as either government power grabs or economic killers.

      But e.g. Communist countries have never been particularly environmental (China recently, though it seems more like a “make our cities look good to the West” rather than actual worry about Gaia). Perhaps ironically, fear of hurting economic growth was probably the concern there as well.

      And historically I’m not sure it’s true either. Teddy Roosevelt is generally not considered a man of the left, yet he was a strong proponent of national parks. Tolkien was a conservative, but Lord of the Rings can be read as a pretty strong critique of modernism and industrialization.

    • Protagoras says:

      Hmmm. It mostly doesn’t seem like it should be, though I suppose rich people can more easily move away from badly polluted areas than poor people, so perhaps there is some connection to leftist concerns.

    • MNH says:

      No, and it’s pretty strange to me that it ended up being one. I think preservation-of-things tends to be the domain of the right, and so a world where the left races to spend resources to better humanity, consequences be damned, while the right cares about the ways we are disrupting delicate ecosystems and all that would make more sense to me.

      That said, I’m on the left and care lots about the environment, so I’m definitely not saying we shouldn’t.

    • Eltargrim says:

      Inasmuch as many pop-environmental causes require (or are assumed to require) large-scale action to mitigate or correct, it doesn’t surprise me that environmentalism is associated with the left. Save the whales (ban whale hunting), fix the ozone (ban CFCs), stop acid rain (mandate SOx reductions), reduce emissions, etc., etc., etc.

      I don’t think that there’s inherently anything linking environmentalism and leftism, and environmentalism could be framed in many ways, but I do believe that there’s an alliance of convenience going on.

    • herbert herberson says:

      Certainly in the West. Most of the biggest environmental problems are externalities of industry (AGW, air and water pollution). While state owned industries under socialism can and in the past have had the same problem, people’s politics line up with the problems and tools at hand, not the problems and tools in their hypothetical utopia, and here the main tool is a regulatory state which the left at least tolerates and the right hates with a passion (while, conversely, the main tool to oppose solutions to the problem is property rights).

      Another reason it is a natural cleft is the urban/rural divide. Rural people have an incentive to economically exploit natural resources, even if it causes externalities and depletes the commons, because it means jobs for them. Urban people see the same costs, lack the direct benefits, and would really prefer that the wilderness be kept pristine for the odd vacation anyway.

      • quanta413 says:

        Another reason it is a natural cleft is the urban/rural divide. Rural people have an incentive to economically exploit natural resources, even if it causes externalities and depletes the commons, because it means jobs for them.

        This is one-side of rural thinking. But hunters need to preserve their hunting grounds, as do recreational fisherman. Rural farmers can be pretty sensitive to certain types of localized environmental harm (such as pollution of the water table) since polluted water can ruin their water source for both animals and crops. I’d bet that some pollution that can economically be filtered when you have a whole city isn’t worth it for a few people and a lot of cows.

        Rural people west of the Mississipi could also put down a huge amount of industry before they come even vaguely close to having an environment comparable to New York City. So it may be just that the two groups make different tradeoffs even if they have the same preferences because they start from different places.

        Urban people see the same costs, lack the direct benefits, and would really prefer that the wilderness be kept pristine for the odd vacation anyway.

        I am actually surprised at the explanation you give here. I would have gone with something more like the explanation in your first paragraph. Urban people are much more densely concentrated and thus suffer more externalities in a lot of ways, poor air quality from automotive pollution, industrial and human runoff polluting their waterways, etc.

        • herbert herberson says:

          Theoretically, I could easily see things playing out the way you describe. But I’m speaking from some experience watching development fights play out in my home region. When a new mine or high-capacity-well is proposed, most of the pro-side comes from locals, while the anti-side is much more dominated by idealistic urbanites.

          (although you do accurately predict the stances of local Native nations, who have, use, and in many cases rely on expanded hunting and fishing rights, and almost always strongly oppose development proposals that could result in local pollution)

          Plus, I don’t want to deny that there is are dedicated sportsman-environmentalist out there, because there most certainly is. But they tend to bore down on the issues that directly affect them, habitat preservation and water quality. Their lobby has some legitimate clout, but is either agnostic or shy about other environmental issues.

          • Aapje says:

            That is only accurate for development that is perceived as bringing a lot of jobs. Bring in the wind farms and NIMBY rules (unless you make the locals co-owners).

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you think environmentalism is correctly assigned as a Leftist position, and why?

      No. It seems conservative. You literally want to preserve and hand down the beauty and usefulness of the natural world to your descendants. I don’t know how in the world it landed in the Left’s lap.

      • Matt M says:

        It was a popular justification for demanding worldwide socialism.

        • Thegnskald says:

          Alternatively, it is a Leftist position applied more universally than to human beings.

          Never understood people who treat trees as some holy entity, but one can’t really accuse them of secretly pushing socialism; they’re genuinely concerned with raising the well-being of what they regard as an exploited class of entities.

          • Deiseach says:

            Never understood people who treat trees as some holy entity, but one can’t really accuse them of secretly pushing socialism; they’re genuinely concerned with raising the well-being of what they regard as an exploited class of entities.

            Like Tolkien 🙂

            I am (obviously) much in love with plants and above all trees, and always have been; and I find human maltreatment of them as hard to bear as some find ill-treatment of animals.

            There was a great tree – a huge poplar with vast limbs – visible through my window even as I lay in bed. I loved it, and was anxious about it. It had been savagely mutilated some years before, but had gallantly grown new limbs – though of course not with the unblemished grace of its former natural self; and now a foolish neighbour was agitating to have it felled. Every tree has its enemy, few have an advocate. (Too often the hate is irrational, a fear of anything large and alive, and not easily tamed or destroyed, though it may clothe itself in pseudo-rational terms.) This fool* said that it cut off the sun from her house and garden, and that she feared for her house if it should crash in a high wind. It stood due east of her front door, across a wide road, at a distance nearly thrice its total height. Thus only about the equinox would it even cast a shadow in her direction, and only in the very early morning one that reached across the road to the pavement outside her front gate. And any wind that could have uprooted it and hurled it on her house, would have demolished her and her house without any assistance from the tree. I believe it still stands where it did. Though many winds have blown since. (The great gale in which the dreadful winter of 46—47 ended (on March 17, 1947) blew down nearly all the mighty trees of the Broadwalk in Christchurch Meadows, and devastated Magdalen deer park – but it did not lose a bough.)

            *Only in this respect – hatred of trees. She was a great and gallant lady.

          • I have some of the same intuition. There is a large live oak in our back yard. I would be happy if it vanished, since that would substantially benefit my fruit trees, but I’m not willing to take it out, because it is a large living thing.

            But I’m inconsistent. I have no reservations about cutting down self-seeded privets, some of which are pretty substantial, although not on the scale of the oak.

        • In your nightmares.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Datapoint from outside the US:

      Within the mainstream, the right-wing (neoliberal) party here has taken the more environmentalist position. Also, Environmentalism & Malthusianism therefore Eat the Poor is a (very simplified and weakmanned version of a) view I have encountered.

  33. Thegnskald says:

    And, of course, a question for the libertarians:

    Is economic globalism correctly assigned as a libertarian position, and why?

    • Urstoff says:

      To some extent, yes. Libertarians are pro-free trade, and free(ish) trade is a necessary condition for economic globalism (however you might define that). Also, the anti-statism of libertarians fosters a trend of anti-nationalism, which also seems like a necessary condition for economic globalism.

      • Thegnskald says:

        Favoring preconditions for a position isn’t the same as favoring the position itself, however.

        On the one hand, the libertarian argument is predicated on the support of the freedom of people to trade with who they choose; on the other, trade with slavers is in fundamental opposition to the principles of free trade, because only one party is truly voluntarily trading.

        • Matt M says:

          on the other, trade with slavers is in fundamental opposition to the principles of free trade, because only one party is truly voluntarily trading.

          I don’t think this is right. The question of whether it’s acceptable to “own” people is a separate one. IF owning people can be legitimate, then both relevant parties ARE, in fact, trading: the slavers, and the people purchasing the slaves.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Sorry, I wasn’t clear: Trading the products if slavery, not the slaves themselves.

            And if subsidies are paid on the goods, and taxes to pay those subsidies come from an unwilling populace, what else are you looking at from a libertarian perspective?

        • Urstoff says:

          it’s not, but you can’t favor the position if you don’t favor the preconditions, which is why I said “to some extent”.

        • quanta413 says:

          (A) I don’t think trading with slaveholders is a necessary part of “economic globalism”. The vast majority of trade has little to do with slaveholders.

          and

          (B) Even if all libertarians viewed any trade with slaveholders as morally wrong, obviously that wouldn’t mean they would support government action against other people trading with slaveholders. Even if all libertarians somehow agreed to boycott anyone who traded with slaveholders- sounds like herding cats- they’d still be economic globalists.

    • MNH says:

      I’m not a libertarian, but I study econ at a place where the econ department has loads of them, so I feel okay trying to guess what my closer liberatarian friends might say to this:

      Efficiency is a limit condition for markets as they grow in size and competition grows fiercer. Markets are good at handling lots of stuff, and the most efficient markets do it the best, so making them as big as possible should be the default libertarian position. It’s definitely not necessary to be a globalist if you’re a libertarian, though.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Define “economic globalism”. If you mean free movement of people (labor), capital, and goods, that’s certainly a libertarian position. Individually, free trade, free movement of capital, and free movement of labor are all libertarian positions as well.

      That’s kind of the 10,000 foot view, though; whether or not it makes sense e.g. to support free trade of coercively-produced goods, or allow free movement of labor in the presence of a (non-libertarian) redistributive welfare system, isn’t really determinable from just “libertarian”.

  34. R Flaum says:

    How come when a stick or a rock or whatever gets wet, it looks darker?

  35. Kevin C. says:

    Apparently, if Congress passes the AHCA, it will put the US in violation of internationa law. At least, according to a letter sent to the Trump Administration by the UN — specifically, by Dainius Puras, the “Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”, as Dana Milbank reports.

    • keranih says:

      As was noted someplace, apparently the UN is *trying* to get the AHCA passed.

      One would think they would learn, at some point.

      • Protagoras says:

        The U.S. never seems to learn that the U.S. opposing foreign leaders makes them more popular with their own people; why should the U.N. be any smarter?

        • quanta413 says:

          I know everyone after Kevin C. is just being snarky but I’m going to pretend to take this all half seriously while continuing with the same pedantic jagoff tone we’ve descended into.

          The difference is the U.S. has the power to sometimes win over the opposition of people in other countries (when it doesn’t get bored and wander off after leaving smoking craters everywhere). It has little reason to care if opposing foreign leaders makes them more popular. Sometimes the U.S. government wants to shore up domestic support in the U.S. by appearing “tough” (talking shit about North Korea or Iran), sometimes the U.S. is propping up a country’s rulers in exchange for goods the U.S. wants (like say… supporting the Saudi Royal family), sometimes the U.S. is just getting rid of rulers the U.S. doesn’t like (Saddam), and maybe every few decades it accidentally rescues a country from a horrible fate while projecting its own power (South Korea). I guess my point is that U.S. politicians actions seem possibly rational to me because I think they have very little reason to care how popular another country’s ruler is with that country’s people. But they have lots of other things to gain by supporting or opposing foreign leaders.

          The U.N. has no power against the U.S. which provides most of its funding and is on the security council. It has no serious chance of either meaningfully supporting a U.S. government or helping overthrow one. And it’s not a democratically elected body that needs to shore up voter support or that many people pay attention to so writing stern letters to the U.S. is catering to a very small number of people indeed.

          So U.S. posturing involves real power and real consequences while the U.N. posturing involves little power and few consequences. Which of these two things is worse is left as an exercise for the reader.

  36. Kevin C. says:

    Well, IANAL, but I thought there were doctrines on things like “standing” and “ripeness” that limit “justiciability” to cases involving specific, present harms, rather than just speculative future harms. Apparently, not anymore, at least as when it comes to Trump executive orders. Says NRO’s Andrew McCarthy on District Judge William H. Orrick III’s recent injunction:

    The ruling distorts the E.O. beyond recognition, accusing the president of usurping legislative authority despite the order’s express adherence to “existing law.” Moreover, undeterred by the inconvenience that the order has not been enforced, the activist court — better to say, the fantasist court — dreams up harms that might befall San Francisco and Santa Clara, the sanctuary jurisdictions behind the suit, if it were enforced. The court thus flouts the standing doctrine, which limits judicial authority to actual controversies involving concrete, non-speculative harms.

    • beleester says:

      Well, IANAL, but I thought there were doctrines on things like “standing” and “ripeness” that limit “justiciability” to cases involving specific, present harms, rather than just speculative future harms.

      There is such thing as a preliminary injunction, which is what this ruling was. If it likely you will suffer irreparable harm without an injunction, and there’s a good chance that you’ll succeed in your case, the court can issue an injunction before you actually suffer said harm.

      If you actually read the ruling that they linked, they actually directly address standing, ripeness, and so on, section by section, to establish why exactly the plaintiffs are eligible for this injunction. As legalese goes, it’s very readable.

      (Interestingly, one of the reasons listed was because of the uncertainty it introduces into the cities’ budgets. Because of the vagueness of the order, cities have no idea how much money is at stake or how they need to respond, which means they are suffering harm even before the EO goes into effect.)

      Now, maybe they’re right that in practical terms, the EO does nothing, because it specifies “in accordance with the law” and the law doesn’t let Trump arbitrarily defund cities. But if the EO does nothing, then what does it matter if the ruling does nothing? And if the EO does do something (and as the court points out, the EO is so vaguely written that it could do an awful lot of things), then the ruling will also do something. The court actually points this out:

      Effectively, the Government argues that Section 9(a) is “valid” and does not raise constitutional issues as long as it does nothing at all. But a construction so narrow that it renders a legal action legally meaningless cannot possibly be reasonable and is clearly inconsistent with the Order’s broad intent.

      Basically, the court doesn’t believe Trump when he says he’s only enforcing existing law.

  37. Kevin C. says:

    @hlynkacg

    You said to take this to the open thread, so I did. To address the bit you point back to:

    Surely some revelation is at hand, surely the Second Coming is at hand. You can’t slay the beast but you can vex it with a rocking cradle.

    Judeo-Christian allegory motherfucker DO YOU SPEAK IT?

    Apparently not, since I don’t quite understand what you’re trying to say here, except — to put in crudely — “don’t worry, Dead Jewish Carpenter on a Stick will come back and make it all better”. Or are you saying me and mine should grab guns, shout “Deus Vult” like a Crusader of old, then head out like Breivik and gun down as many Lefties/Mohammedans/sodomites/muds/etc… as we can before being taken down in hopes of going out in a blaze of glory as worthy of entry to Valhalla as the deeds of any Norse berserker?

    Or are you proposing the whole Benedict/Amish/Kakure Kirishitan “Option” of retreating to quiet, insular, communities and covert networks, hiding as much as possible from the terrible Eye of Sauron, passing the “hidden flame” on to succesive taqiyya-practicing generations in hopes of a tiny surviving remnant re-emerging and taking over after the collape? This, first, despite the ever-growing power of surveillance technologies and the inevitable death of privacy and Brin’s “transparent society”? And second, that possession of those secret, hidden truths will somehow save us when the endless waves of brown hordes come flooding in to slaughter every last paleface left on Earth? When the nukes go flying? Or the genetically-engineered bioweapon super-plagues are unleashed?

    Or are you saying: stand up and live proudly according to your moral values, even as this brings down the crushing, intolerable, potentially-lethal punishment by the Left, suffering nobly in one’s martyrdom? To what end? For the “salvation” of one’s non-existent “soul”? And knowing that any children you manage to have, despite all the barriers laid down to prevent your reproduction, will wind up either “pozzed”, by the culture and schools, quite possibly after being seized by the agents of the state?

    Or “convert to Islam and the Left will let you be as traditionalist and fertile as you want”? Ignoring the fact that Leftists are neither so colorblind or simplistic as to extend the same “tolerance” they give “brown” Muslims (who just don’t know any better, the poor things) to a White converso. And ignoring that what descendants you have will be stupid, backward, inbred camel-jockey scum. And that the Left’s tolerance of Islamic Rightism comes with an expiration date. They’ll give Islamic traditionalism the same treatment they’ve been giving Christian traditionalism, once the latter have been reduced down small enough that the former cease to be a convieniently easy club with which to beat them.

    Now, for the other thread. You speak of the Left’s failure to “police” their violent sorts — like the masked Antifa types — will lead to them being “policed” by some other “people and institutions” who will do so by “not engaging on the Left’s terms”. Again, what does this mean, specifically? Who, specifically, are these “people and institutions”. And what are these “other terms” on which they shall “engage” and “police” the violent Left? And again, how do they withstand the retaliation? Are you saying that eventually, the Berkeley rioter types will pull something with their clubs and Molotov cocktails and such, and some Red State folks will pull their concealed-carry handguns and blow them away? After which the same cops who stood by and gave the Antifas “space to destroy” will descend in full force and fury upon them, gunning them down (and possibly their relatives, their friends, the family dog…), and throwing the survivors into the worst PITA prison available for the rest of their lives, while the mass media trumpets forth 24/7/365 about how these were all “dangerous, jack booted” members of “right-wing death squads”, each and every last one another Timothy McVeigh, and utterly deserving of the utter ruin coming their way, along with the need to remove from office as soon as possible any politician who dare signal the slightest hint of sympathy to these “fascists”.

    You give no practical method for stopping the unstoppable juggernaut, no concrete strategy for the minnows to take down peerless Leviathan. You simply insist that it’s not only possible (with what evidence?), but will somehow, miraculously happen.

    And I’d note that elsewhere on that page, you didn’t say one word when Techno also said that Progress is unstoppable, that

    I don’t think there’s anything that can stop the asymmetry, or the squashing of conservatism into ever smaller, ever crazier spaces. Being a right winger, or more accurately, a conservative is an utterly futile waste of effort. It’s a doomed enterprise.

    That rightists can only accomplish “a violent and doomed reaction”, whose resistance will be “removed”, “until one day soon, there’s nothing left to be conservative about”, and that “the only moral thing conservatives can do at this point is just give up and avoid risking millions of lives” since “[m]aybe it would be best if we skipped all the wasteful struggling.” That the left should not bother trying to “accomodate” our existence, but work yet harder on “deconverting conservatives”, or otherwise “just force them back into line and make them conform.”

    Nor did you push back when Techno engaged in his own “doomism”, arguing that if his own preferred revolutionary change (transhumanist reshaping or posthuman replacement of the human species) “doesn’t come to pass within the next few hundred years or so we’re absolutely done, finished, over.” And that “[w]e’re dead on historically short timeframes without it, so if we’re talking about future human civilization it should be assumed.”

    • Deiseach says:

      Or are you proposing the whole Benedict/Amish/Kakure Kirishitan “Option” of retreating to quiet, insular, communities and covert networks, hiding as much as possible from the terrible Eye of Sauron, passing the “hidden flame” on to succesive taqiyya-practicing generations in hopes of a tiny surviving remnant re-emerging and taking over after the collape?

      I am very lukewarm to cool on the “Benedict Option” but, after all, this is what happened after the persecutions and the eventual collapse (the very slow, prolonged collapse) of the Empire, when those driven down into the catacombs eventually re-emerged and were so successful that fifteen centuries later, the sneer about Constantine and the Church is still being repeated as Gospel truth:

      “And at last,” he said, “I think I have seen a meaning in the picture and the voice; and one that I never understood before. Why should I worry because one madman among a million of sane men, leagued in a great society against him, chooses to brag of persecuting me or pursuing me to death? The man who drew in the dark catacomb the secret symbol of Christ was persecuted in a very different fashion. He was the solitary madman; the whole sane society was leagued together not to save but to slay him. I have sometimes fussed and fidgeted and wondered whether this or that man was my persecutor; whether it was Tarrant; whether it was Leonard Smyth; whether it was any one of them. Suppose it had been all of them? Suppose it had been all the men on the boat and the men on the train and the men in the village. Suppose, so far as I was concerned, they were all murderers. I thought I had a right to be alarmed because I was creeping through the bowels of the earth in the dark and there was a man who would destroy me. What would it have been like, if the destroyer had been up in the daylight and had owned all the earth and commanded all the armies and the crowds? How if he had been able to stop all the earths or smoke me out of my hole, or kill me the moment I put my nose out in the daylight? What was it like to deal with murder on that scale? The world has forgotten these things, as until a little while ago it had forgotten war.”

      “Yes,” said Father Brown, “but the war came. The fish may be driven underground again, but it will come up into the daylight once more. As St Antony of Padua humorously remarked, “It is only fishes who survive the Deluge.””

      Techno also said that Progress is unstoppable

      How long ago was it that some were crowing over the right side of history, the bending of the arc of justice, and the unstoppable tide of progress, who are now crying into their cornflakes over Our New Fascist Neo-Nazi Dictatorship reversing all the unassailable victories?

      Scientific advance is not the same thing as progress, and progress is very much stoppable – a plague, a war, an economic downturn; Tekhno themselves are very concerned that if we don’t discover the genie to grant us the secrets of transhumanism that is it, we are toast in two centuries.

      camel-jockey scum

      What need of this abuse to make your point? Kevin C., don’t use this kind of language about an entire religiously-identified global populace conflated with an offensive stereotype of one particular region. Would you include the modern Australian Aboriginal camel owners/herders in your class of “camel-jockey scum”? Would you make “greasy Levantine” references which incorporated in that classification the proprietor of this blog, based on his religious-ethnic heritage?

      • Kevin C. says:

        this is what happened after the persecutions and the eventual collapse (the very slow, prolonged collapse) of the Empire

        Not exactly; I’d argue — as others have, more eloquently and in better detail, at Dreher’s blog — that there are a number of key differences that limit the applicability as an analogy to our current situation. After all, Christianity was not the formerly-dominant ideology now diminishing at the hands of a growing new competitor, but rather more that growing new competitor. In SAT analogy form Red Tribe:Blue Tribe::Roman Paganism:Early Christianity. We’re more analogous to Julian the Apostate than St. Benedict.

        progress is very much stoppable – a plague, a war, an economic downturn

        But any of those strong enough to halt “progress” more than temporarily, will collapse us permanently.

        What need of this abuse to make your point?

        I’ll admit I got a bit worked up and intemperate here, but any less “abusive” way of putting it would just be a more verbose and euphemism-laden restatement of the same point. Islam is and has always been the enemy of the West. Islamic cultures nigh-universally contain significant flaws, including those of the “muggle realist” sort. They are objectively terrible, and no “solution” at all. Converting to Islam does not “save” anything, it destroys it all the quicker. Quote Jim:

        What is not to like is that when Islam conquers a civilization, that civilization dies. When people talk about the great achievements of Islamic civilization, they are actually talking about the achievements of peoples enslaved by Muslims, and what remained of their libraries after the Muslims finished looting them for toilet paper and kindling.

        Converting to Islam cannot “save” the West, it is death to the West.

        • Mark says:

          I feel a bit resistant to this – conversion to Islam probably did save elements of Zoroastrianism. According to Tom Holland: “Converts from the Zoroastrian Church did often, it was true, bring with them into Islam notions that might have seemed distinctly their own: that apostates should be executed, for instance, or that prayers should be offered up five times a day, or that it was a singular mark of piety to use a toothbrush. Certainly, there was no direct support in the Qur’an for any of these presumptions.”

          But more specifically, if by “West” we mean “Germanic”, has Islam been the eternal enemy of the West, and destroyer of Western culture? Islam conquered and enslaved Greeks and Persians, and North Africa/Spain where the Germans had been the conquerors before them.

          I don’t know, I’m not saying we should all become Muslim, I’m just saying I don’t think there is any reason to view 300 as an accurate metaphor for Western/Islamic relations. Isn’t it all a bit more complicated than that? I mean, what about the Vikings? etc. etc.

          From my perspective, the “West”, as I understand it, began a few hundred years ago and has kicked everyone else’s bums. I don’t know what Byzantium, Romans, or Vikings really have to do with that.

          • Kevin C. says:

            From my perspective, the “West”, as I understand it, began a few hundred years ago and has kicked everyone else’s bums.

            Read Scott’s “How the West was Won“.

            I worry that Caplan is eliding the important summoner/demon distinction. This is an easy distinction to miss, since demons often kill their summoners and wear their skin. But in this case, he’s become hopelessly confused without it.

            I am pretty sure there was, at one point, such a thing as western civilization. I think it involved things like dancing around maypoles and copying Latin manuscripts. At some point Thor might have been involved. That civilization is dead. It summoned an alien entity from beyond the void which devoured its summoner and is proceeding to eat the rest of the world.

          • Mark says:

            If the West is dead, why are we worrying about Islam killing it?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Mark

            My comments about Islam originate in the context of arguments of the form “you want to be sexist, patriarchical, homophobic, traditionalist, fecund, et cetera, and not have the Left come down on you for it? Just convert to Islam! The Left’s tolerance of (brown) Muslims will surely be extended to a white convert, and will certainly last forever! So just recite the Shahada, find some compliant Somali girl to marry, move to her neighborhood (of course they’ll welcome you with open arms!) and start popping out a horde of brown children (whose own children will end up mostly marrying each other), and problem totally solved!” I’m arguing why it’s not a solution — because there is no solution.

          • Mark says:

            I thought that the idea was to subvert Islam through conversion, and make it more liberal. Not to find a workable excuse for unpleasantness.

            If we, red-blooded Western males, want to convert to Islam in order to keep the dreaded lefties off our backs while we’re sexist, patriarchal, no private life, etc. etc, how exactly is Islam a problem?

            I think this attitude would be more motivated by racial concerns than cultural ones.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Mark

            If we, red-blooded Western males, want to convert to Islam in order to keep the dreaded lefties off our backs while we’re sexist, patriarchal, no private life, etc. etc, how exactly is Islam a problem?

            Again, it’s the solution we do not want:

            So, you ask, what is not to like?

            What is not to like is that when Islam conquers a civilization, that civilization dies. When people talk about the great achievements of Islamic civilization, they are actually talking about the achievements of peoples enslaved by Muslims, and what remained of their libraries after the Muslims finished looting them for toilet paper and kindling.

          • Mark says:

            What we need to do is import the good parts of Islam into Christianity: Patriarchy, repression of women, execution of homosexuals, holy war, intolerance of sacrilege, intolerance of heresy, and intolerance of apostacy.

            Yeah, I think that’s the problem with the idea of a hyper-manipulative super intelligence. When intelligent people say things you disagree with, it just makes you want to Nazi-punch them.

            Anyway, the point this guy is making is that we want to kill gays and repress women (of course), but that Islam is bad because they don’t have the scientific method, or the correct attitude towards logic, and that Christianity that makes all that possible.

            Which, I mean, there are just so many question marks there, I almost don’t want to get into it. Are we better off killing gays? Is that the only solution? Is homosexuality necessarily a problem (what about Socrates? Is he still Western?) If you can have logic and homosexuality, does that make homosexuality good? Alan Turing?
            Is death for apostates compatible with the scientific method?

            Anyway, it seems like this guy is either saying “if you can’t beat cancer, become it” or is just someone from a very different culture to me.

            I hope I’m never forced to seriously engage with these ideas.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Mark

            Anyway, it seems like this guy is either saying “if you can’t beat cancer, become it” or is just someone from a very different culture to me.

            Definitely the latter. You can read, for example, the comment that got the dreaded Jim banned from here, and some of his comments here before that. Or some of his posts on women, like the recent “Punching unowned women in the face” or “Unowned women should be unprotected and fair game“. He’s written in favor of slavery, and that William Wilberforce should have been executed for apostacy, or at least enslaved and sent to the Caribbean to cut sugar cane. His comments are very much not “if you can’t beat cancer, become it”. It’s that patriarchy, official religion with inquisition, suppression of “perverts” of varying stripes, and so on, are good and healthy (for society), and we never should have gotten rid of them, but that mass conversion to Islam to try to restore these is a cure worse than the disease (and unnecessary besides, since he argues we can restore them without converting to Islam).

        • Deiseach says:

          what remained of their libraries after the Muslims finished looting them for toilet paper and kindling

          Oh, for the love of God. You do realise that this is the exact same tosh repeated by rabid atheists about how the evil Christians destroyed the great works of antiquity and put back Scientific Progress by centuries because they used Greek and Roman manuscripts as palimpsests and scraped off the work of Great Scientific Minds so they could reuse the parchment for copies of the stupid Bible? And how the evil Christians of 5th century Alexandria murdered Hypatia because she was a liberated feminist atheist scientist and burned the Library of Alexandria, thus depriving us of having interplanetary colonies by the 10th century, while they were at it? I’ve mocked that idiot graphic on here before, I really don’t like seeing the “still evil but Muslim this time” version of it presented as Actual True Real History.

          Let me link you to the following: a 14th century Irish astronomical tract written in Early Modern Irish, based on (but using supplemental material) of a Latin translation (done by a 13th century Italian) of an Arabic original written in the late 8th century by a Jewish scholar of Alexandria.

          Two-thirds of the tract are part paraphrase and part translation, according to Mr. Close, of a Latin version of an Arabic treatise by Messahalah or Mascha Allah, a Jewish astronomer of Alexandria, who flourished shortly before 800 A.D. This work was translated into Latin by Gerard of Sabionetta, near Cremona, in the thirteenth century, and, edited by J. Stabius, was printed at Nuremburg in 1504 under the title De Scientia Motus Orbis.

          Just stop with the frothing hysteria and make a reasoned argument, okay?

          • Kevin C. says:

            an Arabic original written the late 8th century by a Jewish scholar of Alexandria.

            Emphasis added.

            Okay, how about the triumph of Occasionalist theories in the wake of al-Ghazali and his fellows? The high rates of cousin marriage, including FBD/parallel-cousin marriage (“Islamization, along with an area’s inclusion in the eighth-century Arab-Islamic Khalifate (and its persistence within the Islamic world) has been demonstrated by Korotayev to be a strong and significant predictor of parallel-cousin (Father’s Brother’s Daughter – FBD) marriage.” Even the Hui of China see more cousin marriage, and parallel cousin marriage on record in at least one notable family/clan.) Or the strong clannishness, and corresponding instability, corruption and such (you can search out any number of our soldiers reporting on the negative effects on the competence and organization of Arab armies resulting from these factors).
            Or the “IBM problem” (InshallahBukraMalesh).

          • I really don’t like seeing the “still evil but Muslim this time” version of it

            So far as the Library of Alexandria case, that’s been one of the (several) standard versions for a long time. Supposedly Umar, the second caliph, said that everything in the library either agreed with the Koran and so was superfluous or disagreed and so was wrong, so they burned the manuscripts to keep the baths hot.

            As far as I know there is no evidence for that version, any more than for the Julius Caesar version or the other ones I have forgotten.

    • hyperboloid says:

      @Kevin C.

      Since you are, in all honesty one of the craziest people I have ever interacted with (or possibly a deep cover left wing troll), I am not sure how useful this discussion is going to be, but here goes:

      Or are you saying: stand up and live proudly according to your moral values, even as this brings down the crushing, intolerable, potentially-lethal punishment by the Left, suffering nobly in one’s martyrdom

      There is not now, and likely never will be any campaign of violent punishment meted out by leftists to people who hold traditional values. Conservative Christians are not being forced to where badges, or herded into camps, no Nuremberg laws are being passed to exclude them from public life. We in the United States live in an overwhelmingly religious society where religiously observant traditionalists greatly outnumber nonbelievers, and the power base of the political left rests in great part in ethnic minorities who hold many traditional values. Even in the small bubbles where people with conservative views really are subject to some unfair prejudice, the exclusion they face is a tiny fraction of that historically visited upon, ethnic, religious, and cultural minorities in this country, and to claim otherwise is laughable. There simply is no possible political coalition that could intact the strange fantasies you indulge in.

      when the endless waves of brown hordes come flooding in to slaughter every last paleface left on Earth?

      Contrary to what you might have read in the Turner Diaries, or the Camp Of The Saints, there are no brown hordes coming to slaughter you, or anybody else for that matter. The overwhelming majority of “brown” immigration to the United States comes from Latin America (where one half of my throughly European family lived for generations), if those people have not killed the “pale faces” in their own countries, then why are they going to do it here?

      Your whole world view is based in a very disturbing example of the typical mind fallacy. Because if you had the power to do so you would violently strip your political and cultural enemies of their civil rights, and systematically murder those you consider your racial inferiors, you assume they are plaining to do the same to you.

      Let me assure you we are not, if for no other reason then that we have better things to do. The hostile hordes of your imagination have no basis in reality, and reflect only your own inner hatred and moral rot.

      • Kevin C. says:

        possibly a deep cover left wing troll

        Why am I always accused of this? Can someone not be a firm believer in a cause, and, simultaneously, belive that it’s a lost cause? Is suicidal overconfidence a necessary condition for “tribal” membership? Has no one heard of the likes of John Derbyshire’s book We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism?

        There is not now, and likely never will be any campaign of violent punishment meted out by leftists to people who hold traditional values.

        Dreher’s Law of Merited Impossiblity: “it will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it.” The Left has a history of dismissing our concerns as “slippery slope fallacy” and “paranoia” that won’t come to pass, and then, lo and behold, they do indeed come to pass, whereby they retroactively become simply another expected step in “Progress”.

        Conservative Christians are not being forced to where badges, or herded into camps, no Nuremberg laws are being passed to exclude them from public life.

        Yet. No, they’re just forced out of the job market by Twitter mobs for failing to bake gay wedding cakes, or not letting transgender individuals use the bathroom they want, or saying the wrong thing about “people of color” to their girlfriend, or whatever. And how long before CPS in places does as I’ve seen many say they should and start considering parents teaching their children “right-wing hate” as abuse and grounds for removal? How long before the next feminist-driven domestic violence legislation, with verbiage straight from the Women’s Studies departments, gets the inegalitarianism in marriage of “traditional Christian headship” legally classed as spousal abuse?

        Or just the continuation of the “Nazi punching” trends? To quote the dreaded Jim:

        These are skirmishes, not war. War is about seven years off, give or take a few years. A skirmish is a reconnaissance in force. You provoke the enemy into revealing his capabilities and intentions, while trying to conceal your own capabilities and intentions.

        The seven year estimate is about how long it takes the left to go full democidal. The proportion of the population that are deemed fascists has been steadily and rapidly growing, and has now reached about half, with the overwhelming majority of whites being “fascists”. The view that whites should somehow not be around any more is mainstream and high status, arguably the highest status view within the left, though not yet the official view of the left in power, not yet a required belief of the regnant left.

        The view that this should be accomplished by violent and deadly means is not yet high status – it is a supposedly crazy fringe view – or at least saying it out loud is a supposedly crazy fringe view, though snarkily implying it is just fine.

        Since Cthulhu swims always left, this view will shortly be the mainstream view from which dissent is impossibly dangerous.

        This will likely manifest as war external or internal or very likely both – the Cathedral will go to war with Russia and/or China and/or Iran and/or legacy Americans. Very likely all of them. Holiness spirals and purity spirals work like that.

        We in the United States live in an overwhelmingly religious society where religiously observant traditionalists greatly outnumber nonbelievers

        Not really, or at least not as much as you think. Polls of a couple years ago have the “nones” at 23%. And here’s Voas and Chaves’ “Is the United States a Counterexample to the Secularization Thesis?” The answer: no. America is undergoing the same “secularizing” trends as Europe, just lagging behind. Or read some Rod Dreher. Much of America’s (nominal) Christians are better described as believing in moralistic therapeutic deism; or belong to liberal denominations — the sort where you find churches with priests who are openly atheists and who appoint lesbian bishops. And while these sort, and the entire “Protestant Mainstream” denominations are hemorrhaging members, they’re doing so in the direction of the “nones”; they’re “gateway denominations” to secular liberalism. (Or you can read pretty much any of Dalrock for how many supposedly “traditionalist” preachers ignore or outright invert the Pauline doctrines on marriage and the family.)

        the power base of the political left rests in great part in ethnic minorities who hold many traditional values.

        But they don’t exactly vote those “traditional values”, do they? (Do I need to pull out the Lee Kwan Yew quote?) And the polls I’ve seen show that, for all their Catholic identification, Hispanics aren’t really all that “traditional” on those issues, and particularly when you look generationally, it is one of those areas where they do in fact assimilate, with the second or third generation born here being pretty much in the Democratic mainstream on these issues.

        There simply is no possible political coalition that could intact the strange fantasies you indulge in.

        How about Steve Sailer’s “Coalition of the Fringes” united by the “KKKrazy glue” of hating whitey? I think Genghis Khan did a pretty good job of showing how you can unite a bunch of fractious groups who hate one another by pointing them toward a common enemy to loot and slaughter.

        there are no brown hordes coming to slaughter you,

        Again, yet. Look at the UN’s population projections for Africa, and the world, for 2100. The future isn’t Latin America, it’s South Africa. It’s being outnumbered 10-1 by folks who have a tendency to carry machetes and sing songs about killing “the Boer”. Who will have spent generations with our own leaders loudly proclaiming to the whole world from the highest positions of intellectual authority that the only reason their countries are poor, backward and violent is that the evil white man stole all the wealth with colonialism and imperialism, and is keeping them down with the evil eye “implicit bias” and “stereotype threat”. And do I need to go round up and post or link a bunch of quotes from notable figures on the left on how we should work towards their being no more white people? Or about the unique, innate and inborn evil of white people, and how it’s our defining characteristic?

        Read Amy Chua on what happens to “market-dominant minorities”. Need I remind you what happened less than a century ago to Central and Eastern Europe’s market dominant minority? Look at any of the left-wing comments, essays, or books on how “America is a white supremacist country”, because of white overrepresentation in elite positions, and examine the parallels to citations of the statistics of elite overrrepresentation of Jews in stupid “ZOG” rants. When whites are as small a fraction of the population as Ashkenazim were in the Third Reich…

        Your whole world view is based in a very disturbing example of the typical mind fallacy… you assume they are plaining to do the same to you… your own inner hatred and moral rot.

        Not only Bulverism, but lousy Bulverism at that. Would you tell Jewish Americans afraid of “Trump regime pogroms” that they’re engaging in “typical mind fallacy” and projecting their own desire to stick it to the goyim, out of their own “inner hatred and moral rot”? Would you tell BLM protestors that their beliefs about racist white cops randomly gunning down innocent blacks out of pure hate that they’re engaging in “typical mind fallacy” and projecting their own desire to engage in some random “polar bear hunting”, out of their own “inner hatred and moral rot”?

        I gotten plenty of flack here in the past when I called the Left “evil”, and yet you can go on about “moral rot” with impunity. And that whole “you would murder us all if we don’t keep you constantly pressed down under our boots” bit is straight out of the Antifa playbook, the rest of the argument being “therefore everything we do to crush you, including violence, is justifiable self-defense”. This whole bit doesn’t exactly help your case that the Left will, in fact, tolerate me and mine living (and reproducing at (or above) replacement) in accordance to our culture, values, and traditions, in perpetuity.

        [edit: fixed html tags]

        • Well... says:

          possibly a deep cover left wing troll

          Why am I always accused of this?

          Must be your style. I never get accused of that, even when I expect to be.

        • Well... says:

          This whole bit doesn’t exactly help your case that the Left will, in fact, tolerate me and mine living (and reproducing at (or above) replacement) in accordance to our culture, values, and traditions, in perpetuity.

          Let’s say it’s true that the Left tolerates you reproducing at or above replacement level and raising your kids as you see fit now but will not in the future. (I don’t have a strong opinion on whether or not this is true.)

          Why aren’t you reproducing more now, and raising your kids as you see fit, while you have the chance? Doing so is probably your best bet against not being allowed to later.

      • Mark says:

        Frithigern and his Visigoths were on the north bank of the Danube, in continual dread of an attack from the Huns, and eagerly awaiting the reply of the emperor Valens to their request for permission to cross the river and become subjects of the Roman Empire. They told him of the terrible danger to which they were exposed, and promised that if they were granted a home in Thrace, the Visigoths would become his faithful and obedient subjects… To do the advisors of Valens justice, it was not altogether with a light heart that they came to the decision which well-nigh involved the empire in irretrievable ruin. Some of them perceived the danger that there was in admitting such a vast and unruly multitude into the Roman territories. Others, however, urged that the empire was in need of men; its population had for a long time past been growing smaller; and here was a golden opportunity of adding at a stroke one million of subjects to the dominions of their sovereign.
        The great immigration began. Day after day, from early morning till far into the night, the broad river was covered with passing vessels, into which the Goths had crowded so eagerly that many of them sank on the passage, with all on board lost. At first, the Romans tried to count the people as they landed, but the numbers were so vast that the attempt had to be given up in despair.

      • Brad says:

        Let me assure you we are not, if for no other reason then that we have better things to do. The hostile hordes of your imagination have no basis in reality, and reflect only your own inner hatred and moral rot.

        He hasn’t convinced me he’s right (or sane) but he has convinced me I should hope he is. At least as to the inevitable disappearance of his culture.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Oh and as a further follow-up, consider these quotes from this:

        But there’s one thing social cons get right: they are correct when they predict the consequences of the next social change. The thing is those consequences are usually good or, at least, not bad in the way they think. But their predictions, as predictions? Usually correct.
        Social cons said that no-fault divorce would read to vastly higher divorce rates, and it did. Social cons said that ending the norm of the two-parent family would lead to more single-parent households, and they were correct. Social cons said that widespread access to birth control would lead to sexual licentiousness, and they were right. Social cons said that legalized abortion would decouple sex from procreation, and that happened. Social cons said that decriminalization of gay sex would lead to social acceptance of gay people, and so it was. Social cons said that social acceptance of gay people would lead to gay marriage, and that was true. Social cons said that efforts to end stigma against trans people would lead to a general rejection of the gender binary, and so it has.

        I hear people say that they won’t permit arguments against affirmative action in their classes — hate speech, again — despite the fact that depending on how the question is asked, a majority of Americans oppose race-based affirmative action in polling, including in some polls a majority of Hispanic Americans. The number of boilerplate conservative opinions that are taken to be too offensive to be voiced in the campus space just grows and grows, and yet progressive profs I know are so offended by the idea that they could be creating a hostile atmosphere, they won’t even discuss the subject in good faith.
        And while I think conservative students can mostly get by fine on the average campus, I really can’t imagine going through life as a conservative professor, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. Is that a problem? That depends on your point of view. But if it’s happening, shouldn’t we talk about the fact that it’s happening?
        Ann Coulter, I’m told, not only should be barred from campus, it is so stunningly obvious that she should be barred that no one feels compelled to tell me what the rules are about who should be banned and who shouldn’t be. “Ann Coulter is not here to actually exchange ideas!” But then some would say the same about Michael Moore, and the idea that he would be disinvited from campus is unthinkable. They say Ann Coulter is a fringe figure. But surely Condoleeza Rice, as odious as she is, is the definition of a mainstream figure, and she faced her own disinvitation campaign. What are the rules? Who can say what on campus? I have no idea, and when I ask, people act as though it’s offensive that I’ve asked — I am supposed to intuit the rules, and a failure to do so shows that I too am offensive.

        Who said all this? Why, Freddie deBoer!

        • I really can’t imagine going through life as a conservative professor, particularly in the humanities and social sciences.

          I don’t know if he counts libertarians as conservatives–some people do. I am about to retire after spending something over forty years as a professor in the social sciences (economics, some of it in law schools), and it’s been quite a pleasant life.

          • Aapje says:

            You are not a threat though, since your focus is on economic issues. My impression is that you are not too interested in the kinds of issues that are most toxic.

            For example, do you discuss BLM issues at work?

          • @Aapje:

            At a recent faculty meeting, there was a discussion of a possible project to give courses in how to comply with government regulations of various sorts, surely including non-discrimination regulations. In arguing against it for a variety of reasons, I mentioned that I was perhaps biased on the subject because I didn’t think those were things anyone should have to learn. Nobody acted either surprised or offended.

            I think I have occasionally mentioned my skepticism about the usual claims that AGW will have terrible effects.

            Lots of my colleagues know that I am an anarcho-capitalist.

            I don’t remember BLM coming up. I would have no worries about discussing Scott’s article on the failure of the evidence to clearly show discrimination by law enforcement against blacks.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        There is not now, and likely never will be any campaign of violent punishment meted out by leftists to people who hold traditional values.

        Unless those people have been invited to speak to a small group of students at a university, of course. Then out come the bike locks and M-80s while the police passively look on.

        Even in the small bubbles where people with conservative views really are subject to some unfair prejudice,

        Those bubbles being universities, government bureaucracy, almost every large city in the country, the news media, the entertainment industry, and the higher levels of virtually every profession. You know, just a few small, unimportant bubbles that have no influence on our culture.

        the exclusion they face is a tiny fraction of that historically visited upon, ethnic, religious, and cultural minorities in this country, and to claim otherwise is laughable.

        Oh, well, that makes it okay then.

    • hlynkacg says:

      @ Kevin
      I quoted Yeats’ The Second Coming in response to “All is lost, and all is ruin.” Yeats may have been responding to the mass death and upheaval WWI but the philosophical outlook he espouses is older than feudalism. What you don’t seem to understand is that civilization has always been, and will always be, one generation away from collapse.

      If you tell me entropy (or “popularity”) is all devouring, my reply is will be something the effect of “Yes, and?”.

      Do you think that this is some sort of hideous new development that sprung, fully formed, from a mad Prussian’s beard in 1848? Or have the gods of the copybook headings been lurking in the wings to slaughter us since the dawn of creation? If this is something that has been happening since the dawn of creation, it stands to reason that our ancestors must have faced this same problem. How did they solve it? The answer is right there in the poem.

      The darkness drops again but now I know
      That twenty centuries of stony sleep
      Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle

      As I said above; You can’t slay the beast but you can vex it. How? By doing what your ancestors did. Have children, raise them to love what you love, and to live proudly according to your moral values. Yes, even in the face of “crushing, intolerable, potentially-lethal punishment”. To what end? So that civilization may continue for one generation more.

      If you tell me the situation is hopeless, my response will be “so what?”.

      Scaevola knew that the Romans were hopelessly out-matched when he entered the Etruscan camp. He knew that he was bluffing when he thrust his own arm into the fire and declared that he was but the first of many. Even so, his act made one thing abundantly clear. Rome was capable of producing a man of fearsome courage. The Etruscans would not have sued for peace, and Rome would not occupy it’s prominent place in history, If it had not been capable of producing such a man.

      If you tell me that “That rightists can only accomplish a violent and doomed reaction”, and I will point out that we were all doomed from the start. Entropy devours all, don’t you remember?

      You come here complaining about “the decline of the west” but what have you done to build it up? What do you have to offer it beyond cowardice, bigotry, and squishy-minded defeatism?

      • Kevin C. says:

        What do you have to offer it beyond cowardice, bigotry, and squishy-minded defeatism?

        There is nothing for anyone to offer, except these, false hope, and counter-productive “fighting”, that, however brave, however much “fearsome courage” it displays, brings only greater suffering, and the deaths of those that need not have died so soon.

        Honestly, are you in favor of senseless slaughter? Of increased suffering and death? Because that is the only thing that every right-wing “call to action” and proposed idea for “fighting back” I have ever seen can accomplish.

        I honestly want you to answer this question, yes or no: do you, hlynkacg, favor needless suffering and death?

        • Well... says:

          There is nothing for anyone to offer, except these, false hope, and counter-productive “fighting”

          Spoken like a single person without descendants. I’ve said many times on my blog (for example, here) and in comments elsewhere that if you’re a traditional conservative there’s one very basic thing you can and should be doing for your civilization: having as many kids as you can.

          • Kevin C. says:

            I’ve said many times on my blog (for example, here) and in comments elsewhere that if you’re a traditional conservative there’s one very basic thing you can and should be doing for your civilization: having as many kids as you can.

            I’d like to reply with P.T Carlo’s “Against The Trad Dads” at Thermidor, and SoBL’s “P.T. Carlo Is Right About Trad Dads“. From the former:

            If we are to take the rhetoric of the Trad Dads at face value, it would seem as though there is no problem for which bourgeois marriage and childbearing cannot offer a solution to. Low earnings? Get Married! Married people, after all, earn on average much more than their single peers. Afraid of death? Married people live, on average, much longer than those who are single! Depressed? Married people are, on average, happier than those who aren’t! Anxious because you’ve realized your existence as a corporate wageslave is not only unfulfilling but also objectively meaningless? Never fear! For if you just get married and have 2.1 children, your existential angst will immediately disappear and be replaced by a desire to work your wageslave job with the same burning passion that possessed Da Vinci as he painted the Mona Lisa.

            The truth that the Trad Dads will not face, in their hurry to condemn the vanity of the SWPLs, is just how difficult and unfulfilling family life is in the early 21st century. Perhaps Houellebecq explained it best when he wrote:

            “Children existed … to inherit a man’s trade, his moral code, and his property. This was taken for granted among the aristocracy, but merchants, craftsmen, and peasants also bought into the idea, so it became the norm at every level of society. That’s all gone now: I work for someone else, I rent my apartment from someone else, there’s nothing for my son to inherit. I have no craft to teach him; I haven’t a clue what he might do when he’s older. By the time he grows up, the rules I lived by will have no value – he will live in another universe. If a man accepts the fact that everything must change, then he accepts that life is reduced to nothing more than the sum of his own experience; the past and future generations mean nothing to him. That’s how we live now. For a man to bring a child into the world now is meaningless.”

            Without first coming to grips with the fact that family life under modern conditions is inherently unfulfilling due to realities imposed by modern society, no remedies to the problem will ever be devised which aren’t mere placebos.

            The Trad Dad may loathe the single, hedonist Red Guards who staff the departments of American Academia and write for Major Media outlets. Yet ultimately he must admit that it is these Red Guards, these Ideological fanatics, many of whom have given up or postponed domestic life in order to “chase their dreams” will have as much if not more influence upon their children’s thinking and life outcomes as he himself will. And that, come time for their child’s freshman year at college, through a confluence of peer pressure and ideological indoctrination they will easily unlearn all of the 18 years worth of homeschool derived virtue the Trad Dad vainly tried to instill in them.

            And from the latter:

            Carlo is right. The tone is a negative, but the core message is right. These Trad Dads have a habit of using family formation as a solution to all of life’s problems, and fail to recognize the reality of the sexual marketplace as it stands today.

            It is an incredibly difficult dating market. It is incredibly difficult to find someone who openly buys into forming a family. Marriage and parenthood are great things and good goals for the greater good. They are not for everyone, man or woman. My message for years has been: figure out your path and then walk it full power. Trad Dads are trying to fight the good fight in an age of decay.

            If you want to change a Trad Dad, if you want to stop the evangelical nature or teasing at the single men around him, start hitting him with the reality of dating. Throw it in his face about what women who go through the college Marxist indoctrination system are like. Show him the texts you receive from women. Shake his cage. Challenge him as you would challenge a prog, but with a different ending, ask him for a plan. Ask him, “how am I suppose to get from here to there?”

            In other words, much easier said than done. Especially in that nature has not “endowed you with the ability to create more people like yourself” individually; it takes two.

            Edit:

            And further, for how many decades now have right-leaning folks been having more children than left-leaning ones? I’ve been reading for years my fellows on the right taunting liberals about how this “baby gap” alone ensures our victory. And yet, the liberals don’t seem to much worry about it, and always have some ready replies — I’m sure you know them.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Were you under the impression that walking the path of the righteous was going to be easy?

        • hlynkacg says:

          do you, hlynkacg, favor needless suffering and death?

          I disagree that it is needless.

          In fact, I would go so far as to argue that a willingness to “suffer nobly in one’s martyrdom” is a necessary prerequisite for any great civilization’s rise. This is why I recounted the story of Scaevola. If he had not been willing to suffer and sacrifice for what appeared to be a hopeless cause Rome would have fallen in 500 BC. A mere footnote in history, rather than a global power.

          • Kevin C. says:

            So, then, what, in concrete terms, are you recommending as a course of action? What is our act of Scaevolan bravery that will bluff the Leftward momentum of centuries to a halt?

          • hlynkacg says:

            I’ve already given you an answer.

            If the situation is as dire as you claim “doing what your ancestors did” is in itself an act of “Scaevolan bravery”.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @hlynkacg

            doing what your ancestors did

            Which part? Pledging my fealty, as a peasant, to the local lord, and in turn to the king to whom he is pledged? How do I do that?

            How about putting heretics on trial for their heresy? Where do I get in on that?

            Or do you mean “marry and have kids”? Then see my response to Well… above. It’s very much dependent on the pool of available, amenable women (or total lack thereof).* There’s a difference between “not easy” and “nigh-impossible”.

            *Not to mention the economic issue of being unable to support or house any sort of family, the problem of overcoming the lack of interest in the “procreative act” itself (even before going on antidepressants), mismatches on religious beliefs (as I’m an unbaptized, totally unchurched heathen unable to convincingly fake belief I don’t hold).

          • keranih says:

            So, then, what, in concrete terms, are you recommending as a course of action?

            That we therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the [West] last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.

            And what are our duties?

            To see to it that that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

            Now, there is a great deal of room to argue about just what actions need be taken, and what paths should be pursued, but there is no place for despair.

          • Kevin C. says:

            To see to it that that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

            And for those of us who think “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is part of the problem?

            And again, still vague and platitudinous, not concrete.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Oh grow up for fucks sake. You have been given an answer, the fact that you are too stupid or too cowardly to follow through with it doesn’t make it any less concrete.

          • Or do you mean “marry and have kids”? Then see my response to Well… above. It’s very much dependent on the pool of available, amenable women (or total lack thereof).* There’s a difference between “not easy” and “nigh-impossible”.

            You are combining global despair–the situation is hopeless and the world is certain to go to hell–with personal despair. You take it for granted that you are unable to succeed at an ordinary life project at which a very large number of people, now and in the past, do succeed. And since you know you can’t succeed there is no point in trying.

        • Deiseach says:

          Kevin C., this universe is suffering and death. Giving in to the conquering hordes won’t abrogate that nor spare you. Sitting in a corner casting dust on your head and bewailing the state of the world won’t spare you that either. If you truly hold these beliefs, then stick to them. If the other side can genuinely convince you by the use of reason that you are mistaken in your principles, it is no shame to change your mind.

          But by God, the one thing you can do in the wreckage, if wreckage is all that is left, is to hold on to your honour.

          CYRANO:
          Why, I well believe
          He dares to mock my nose? Ho! insolent!
          (He raises his sword):
          What say you? It is useless? Ay, I know
          But who fights ever hoping for success?
          I fought for lost cause, and for fruitless quest!
          You there, who are you!–You are thousands!
          Ah!
          I know you now, old enemies of mine!
          Falsehood!
          (He strikes in air with his sword):
          Have at you! Ha! and Compromise!
          Prejudice, Treachery!. . .
          (He strikes):
          Surrender, I?
          Parley? No, never! You too, Folly,–you?
          I know that you will lay me low at last;
          Let be! Yet I fall fighting, fighting still!
          (He makes passes in the air, and stops, breathless):
          You strip from me the laurel and the rose!
          Take all! Despite you there is yet one thing
          I hold against you all, and when, to-night,
          I enter Christ’s fair courts, and, lowly bowed,
          Sweep with doffed casque the heavens’ threshold blue,
          One thing is left, that, void of stain or smutch,
          I bear away despite you.

          (He springs forward, his sword raised; it falls from his hand; he staggers, falls back into the arms of Le Bret and Ragueneau.)

          ROXANE (bending and kissing his forehead):
          ‘Tis?. . .

          CYRANO (opening his eyes, recognizing her, and smiling):
          MY PANACHE.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Kevin C., this universe is suffering and death.

            It’s not “this” universe, it’s the universe; it’s the only one that is, and all that is.

            If you truly hold these beliefs, then stick to them.

            Where have I indicated not “sticking to them”? My argument is against meaningful action upon those beliefs. It’s against “fighting back.” My argument is against taking any kind of political action toward any sort of positive goal on the assumption that it has a non-zero probability of success. Because the probability is zero.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Where have I indicated not “sticking to them”?

            Most recently? Right here.

            If you actually valued anything that western civilization ever represented, you would understand why despair is to something to be abhorred. Rostand saw it, and through Cyrano, gave voice to it. Deiseach, and Anonymous see it too.

            If your purpose is not to advance the cause of civilization, but to spread despair and doubt among it’s faithful. You are not an ally, but an enemy. A cowardly, perdiferous, enemy at that.

      • Brad says:

        @hlynkacg
        I can’t say I ‘m convinced, we are too far apart in where we start, but this is a beautiful piece of rhetoric. Well done.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Attempts must be made, even when there can be no hope. The alternative is despair.”

      • Anonymous says:

        Also:

        A man is sentenced to die by the king. As the verdict is announced, the man says, “Wait! If you spare my life, I promise that in one year, I will teach your horse to talk. If I fail, you can kill me then.” The king is intrigued, and figures he has nothing to lose, so he agrees. Afterwards, the man’s friend says, “Are you crazy? You’ll never teach the king’s horse to talk.” The man laughs and says, “Think of it this way. I have an extra year to live, and a lot can happen in a year. I might die. The king might die. And who knows, maybe the horse will learn to talk.”

      • Kevin C. says:

        “The alternative is despair”

        Seriously, what’s wrong with despair?

        • hlynkacg says:

          Despair is a more reliable killer than enemy action.

        • Anonymous says:

          Aside from being the 8th deadly sin?

          More seriously, it’s useless. Do you fancy yourself given the power of prophecy, able to see what will come about with utter certainty? I doubt you do! You don’t know what will happen. Maybe salvation will come from somewhere you never would have predicted. Maybe your own efforts, however small, will aid in producing the outcome you hope for.

          Giving in to despair, doing nothing and feeling miserable about it is about the least useful thing you can do, though. With despair, your enemies need not have lifted a finger: you defeated yourself.

          I can certainly see why people would label you as a left-wing shill, too. If you are attempting to convince others to join in your despair, even if sincere, then you might as well be the enemy. You are, after all, doing their work.

  38. I’ve been looking through Kipling’s complete verse, in the hope of finding something for my current project of a book of works of literature that contain interesting economics, and found a couple of interesting things.

    One is “An Imperial Rescript,” which I think will be a second Kipling poem for the book (the first is “The Peace of Dives“). It’s an explanation of why socialism won’t work. Part of what is interesting is that it is an explanation from, in an odd sense, a socialist perspective. There is no suggestion that if the workers all did what the Kaiser proposes they wouldn’t “march to peace and plenty/In the bonds of brotherhood …”. The calculation controversy hasn’t happened yet, lots of smart people are socialists, and insofar as there an intellectual influence on Kipling’s argument it is Darwin, not Mises. The problem is that the workers won’t do what W. Hohenzollern tells them to, because each of them wants to “work for the kids and the missus.”

    The other isn’t a poem for my book, it’s an odd link between Kipling and Chesterton that I discovered by trying to find out what “Gehazi” was about. It turns out that it is almost certainly an attack on Rufus Isaacs over the Marconi Scandal. That was the same controversy that got GKC’s brother in serious trouble, with influences on GKC that I discussed in the chapter on him in the second edition of The Machinery of Freedom.

    I’m more than half way through the book so may not find any more poems to use, but it’s nice to be reminded of how good a poet Kipling was and how wide his range.

    • Deiseach says:

      Speaking of Kipling, poetry and political controversy (see how neatly I wrench the train of thought onto these tracks), there was an incident in 1912 when he wrote a poem called Ulster in response to the agitation for Home Rule for Ireland and the proposed Home Rule Bill, which drew a response from AE (George Russell), an Anglo-Irish Protestant very much in the mystic vein of the Celtic Twilight literary movement. Excerpt from, and the conclusion of, his open letter to Kipling below:

      I would not reason with you, but that I know there is something truly great and noble in you, and there have been hours when the immortal in you secured your immortality in literature, when you ceased to see life with that hard cinematograph eye of yours, and saw with the eyes of the spirit, and power and tenderness and insight were mixed in magical tales. But you were far from the innermost when you wrote of my countrymen as you did.

      …If there was a high court of poetry, and those in power jealous of the noble name of poet, and that none should use it save those who were truly Knights of the Holy Ghost, they would hack the golden spurs from your heels and turn you out of the Court. You had the ear of the world and you poisoned it with prejudice and ignorance. You had the power of song, and you have always used it on behalf of the strong against the weak. You have smitten with all your might at creatures who are frail on earth but mighty in the heavens, at generosity, at truth, at justice, and heaven has withheld vision and power and beauty from you, for this your verse is but a shallow newspaper article made to rhyme. Truly ought the golden spurs to be hacked from your heels and you be thrust out of the Court.

      AE was a very interesting character, if a minor name in Irish history not known outside the country; a mix of practical business and New Age (though it didn’t go by that name back then) inclinations:

      When I started to explore Yeats’s complex relationship with Ireland which runs through so many of his great poems, I soon came across the bearded figure of George Russell nestling in Yeats’s literary shadow. Initially, I probably saw him as Joyce depicts him in Ulysses, as a writer of ‘dreamy, cloudy, symbolistic’ verse, qualities jokingly attributed to AE’s vegetarianism producing poetic ‘waves in the brain’.

      AE’s life changed in 1897 when he was recommended to Horace Plunkett who was looking for banks’ organisers for the fledgling cooperative movement. AE, who proved himself to have a strong practical streak alongside his airy mysticism, travelled around the west of Ireland promoting the virtues of agricultural cooperation to local communities. He was appalled by the conditions he encountered, which he considered ‘a disgrace to humanity’. The economic distress he witnessed in what he called ‘this wild country’ left him in a melancholy mood, but it also inspired his fierce, lifelong commitment to agricultural cooperation as a means for redressing Ireland’s economic ills. His travels also brought him to places where he felt the atmosphere ‘so thick with faerys that you draw them in with every breath.’ His belief in fairies, and his copious array of facial hair, led the combative editor of The Leader, D.P. Moran, to nickname AE ‘the hairy fairy.’

      • You had the power of song, and you have always used it on behalf of the strong against the weak.

        Not even close to true. “Buddha at Kamakura.” “The Last of the Light Brigade.” “Gunga Din.” All three of those were written before “Ulster.”

        My favorite of Kipling’s anti-Irish nationalist poems is “Cleared,” on the Parnell commission. It’s a wonderful piece of hostile rhetoric.

    • James says:

      my current project of a book of works of literature that contain interesting economics

      This sounds interesting. If you put it on your website like Legal Systems Very Different From Our Own, I’ll read it.

      What other sorts of things do you plan to include?

      • I have my current list of pieces, with links to them, up on my blog. And I have a later post explaining in more detail what I want and why.

        It comes to about 40,000 words, which is less than half of what I want, so I’m trying everywhere I can think of to get suggestions.

        Including here.

  39. Deiseach says:

    People! I bring you good tidings of great joy! There is now Nerd Lit! Nerd Chick Lit? Chick Nerd Lit? It’s written by a guy (going by the name, yes I’m being shockingly presumptuous about assigning gender without knowing their preferred pronouns) so it isn’t Chick Lit (or is it) – “The Rosie Project”, by Graeme Simsion.

    Look, I have no idea what genre this falls under and I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to order a copy, but it seems to be very popular (if this post is accurate) and here’s the blurb – would this entice you to read it? 🙂

    Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner.

    Sweet honey from the rock, the French presidential election is looking more and more like a re-run of the American one. Now Macron’s campaign has been hacked and emails leaked, and yep, some people are laying the blame at the feet of the Russians.

    Even worse, former President Obama has endorsed Macron. Given that the last time he put his weight behind one side in a political vote, it ended up with the Leave side in the Brexit referendum (and not the Remain side which he supported) winning, is this endorsement also a bad omen?

    I see that President Trump held a big religious get-together or something to announce protections for religious liberty. I haven’t logged on to Tumblr yet today but when I do, I expect to see hysteria about The Handmaid’s Tale literally coming true. But don’t get your knickers in a twist just yet, even the ACLU says it was all just window-dressing. I don’t like the sneer quotes about “so-called ‘religious freedom'” but eh, I won’t fight over it, I’m trying not to stoke too much culture wars fires.

    (With all these links, no wonder the comment-scraping program thinks I’m John Sidles).

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      Its not at all the same though. The polling isn’t close. I say this as a major Sanders supporter who always assumed Trump would win after the primaries. The largest margin in a poll was 15 for Hillary weeks to months before the election. The average was 8. It went from 8 to ~2 at the end. Macron is polling 20+ up the day before. Brexit had similar minimal numbers.

  40. Deiseach says:

    Nice (um) thing with the eyes in the new slogan: “Now with more multiocular”. I’m not sure if this is a reference to Unsong, the Panopticon, Chtulhu, or all of the above.

    • James says:

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

      What I want to know is is this thing on my (and everyone’s computer) just because some maniac used it once in a manuscript? I’m starting to see why people might think the unicode panel has gone crazy.

      • Montfort says:

        A large number of letters are needed to support editions of early
        Slavic manuscripts, or the more recent Slavonic ecclesiastical tradition.

        From the original proposal to include (direct pdf link). It is unclear to me whether it was present in one or multiple manuscripts, but at the point where they were already adding the binocular o, perhaps they figured they might as well be thorough.
        The Unicode consortium never made anyone put it in their fonts though, they just put it into the standard so people could.

        • random832 says:

          All of these should have been the ordinary cyrillic О plus a variant selector, that way older systems, or systems that don’t have specialist cyrillic fonts that opt to include these glyphs, could default to О (which is more or less correct in meaning) rather than a box.

          I suspect the problem is that the Unicode Consortium doesn’t have a well-developed tradition of standardizing the meaning of particular character/variant-selector combinations, and defaults to adding new characters.

      • Deiseach says:

        Clicking on your link, I don’t think it’s a maniac, I think it’s a witty and rather charming way to incorporate a reference to the “many-eyed seraphim” by someone who plainly had to write out the manuscript by hand and was privately amusing themselves to help pass the time and make the task less tedious.

        It’s of the same nature as translating the forbidden fruit of Eden as an apple for the pun on malum 🙂

  41. Mark says:

    There are two types of people in this world, separate tribes who find each other almost entirely incomprehensible.

    People who prefer Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (UK) and those who prefer Kitchen Nightmares (USA).

    If we replace “red-tribe Trump supporting racists” with “people who think the US version of Kitchen Nightmares is better than the UK one” the animosity makes a lot more sense to me.

    • Leit says:

      I’ll just be here watching the endlessly cheerful, positive and upbeat Masterchef Australia.

  42. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    WW2 battleships secretaly taken from the ocean floor. This isn’t fresh news, but it’s interesting that some of them were taken with no debris left behind. Ships raised by being filled with balloons? Any other plausible theories?

    I read a bit more. Balloons may not be all that plausible, but if not balloons, then what?

    • Protagoras says:

      You should be more careful around here; none of the salvaged ships were battleships.

    • John Schilling says:

      I’m still going with supervillains on this one. Not just because of the technical difficulties of salvaging these ships, which are hard enough to figure, but the economics. Commercial ship breakers report revenues on the order of $500 per ton, and that’s assuming the particularly valuable bits (e.g. copper wiring) can be extracted by crews working openly on dry land. So even the light cruisers are only worth $3-4 million, and the destroyers in the high six figures. If these wrecks could be “broken” by poor Indonesian fishermen in their spare time, that would be one thing, but they are both too deep to dive and too tough to cut up without very specialized equipment. How does anyone make a profit on a professional salvage operation when you can’t clear even a megabuck in gross revenue?

      I don’t buy low radiation steel as a justification, because I don’t think the market for that is big enough, though I can’t find any hard numbers. But remember, we’re looking for a market that can not only absorb a thousand or more tons of steel a year, but one big enough that a thousand tons a year from an unknown new source can simply blend in unnoticed. I don’t think that market exists, and I think it is just handwaving when it is invoke here.

      Bringing up historic artifacts for wealthy and ethically challenged collectors could be profitable, but that doesn’t mean lifting the entire hull off the ocean floor. And if you’re trying to fence the goods to multiple customers, somebody is going to talk. So we’re basically talking about one deviant with many millions of dollars and a passion for personally owning the remains of the ABDA fleet.

      It is probably too late, but I kind of wish that when this was first discovered the discoverers had kept quiet except to notify the navies involved, who could have monitored the wreck sites and maybe caught the perpetrators in the act.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I’d suggest when you don’t need to follow any “best practices”, and aren’t scrupulous about using equipment that doesn’t exactly belong to you, you can probably salvage much cheaper than a professional salvage operation.

        • John Schilling says:

          There are no “best practices” for raising the entire hull of a ship wrecked in two hundred feet of water; that doesn’t happen often enough to call for such a thing. The closest historical analog I can find is the recovery of the Russian Submarine Kursk, about twice the size of the Java or De Ruyter and in three hundred feet of water. Cost the Russian government sixty-five million dollars, required hiring Dutch salvage experts because nobody in Russia could do the job, and the Dutch had to build custom equipment for the job.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If they weren’t trying to raise the hull intact, wouldn’t that make it easier?

          • Loquat says:

            Wouldn’t any method of breaking the hull into more manageable parts leave a lot of detritus around, though? One of the things that’s so weird about this is that there’s apparently no detritus or anything left where the missing ships once were.

          • Aapje says:

            A recreational diving school in Malaysia told the New Straits Times last year that shipwrecks were being blown apart by with explosives by people posing as fishermen before their metal is removed.

            https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/16/three-dutch-second-world-war-shipwrecks-vanish-java-sea-indonesia

            Perhaps they are just very meticulous about picking up the bits. Keep in mind that water causes great friction, so the metal bits won’t travel very far after an explosion.

            For example, a .50 bullet (a very large caliber) travels less than 3 feet in water.

          • John Schilling says:

            Perhaps they are just very meticulous about picking up the bits. Keep in mind that water causes great friction, so the metal bits won’t travel very far after an explosion.

            The sound will travel a great distance, and if we are talking about explosions large enough to tear a cruiser’s main armor belt into manageable chunks will be heard by undersea surveillance networks thousands of miles away that rather specifically listen for such things.

            Also, I am skeptical of amateur salvage operators being as meticulous as you claim. This isn’t like picking up junk in a desert somewhere; at two hundred feet you’ve got very little bottom time and even less visibility, working in cumbersome gear.

            Also also, the cited article about the Malaysian recreational diving school isn’t referring to the Java Sea wrecks, which are in any event beyond recreational diving distance, so that’s just speculation. There’s a rather large difference between the sort of salvage they are talking about, where particularly valuable bits are removed from ships within reach of ordinary scuba gear, and the removal of an entire wreck from technical-diving depths.

            The more I look into this, the more remarkable I find it that nobody seems to be even asking these questions. I wouldn’t expect to find the detailed technical discussions in mass-media reporting, but I’d expect to be able to find it within a few links or pages of Google results, and I’m not.

  43. sty_silver says:

    I asked this before but I didn’t get a helpful answer (not meant as a jab, perhaps it’s just a legitimately hard problem).

    Anyway, a person I know wants to donate to help the situation in Yemen. They asked me to point them to the perfect charity for that, but I know very little about it directly. I think they’r going to donate to Bread for the World as the default option soonish. I can’t help thinking that there must be something better — does anyone know?

    • Montfort says:

      My worry about charity for Yemen is that it’s not clear to me large-scale shipping will be able to get through for the foreseeable future. Saudi Arabia currently has some kind of embargo in place and may eventually attack / lay siege to Hudaydah, through which something like 80% of food aid comes in. And once the fighting is done, the occupation might cause extra friction with shipping.

      Of course, this same concern cuts against charities besides Bread for the World to some extent, and non-food kinds of charity might be less critical right now.

      Semi-related musings aside, what does “better” mean to you? To the person donating? I’m guessing they want Yemen specifically and couldn’t be convinced of more pressing need elsewhere?

      • sty_silver says:

        I’m guessing they want Yemen specifically and couldn’t be convinced of more pressing need elsewhere?

        Yeah, I generally don’t endorse giving to non-X-Risk charities.

        what does “better” mean to you?

        Well, if two charities are basically going for the same thing and one is more efficient, that would make it better, for one. Generally, the one which leads to more happiness I guess?

    • keranih says:

      I think it’s because it’s a legit hard problem.

      The best place to put resources depends on what you/your friend think “helping” looks like. For me, given the givens – the geographic importance of the region, the divide between the coast and the hitherlands, the failing aquifer, the cultural traditions, and everything else – it’s not clear that maintaining the region – vs just uprooting the people and taking them elsewhere – is the “right” choice. And while I refuse to be the agent of forcing people to leave their homes, I’m also not inclined to helping keep a bad situation on-going.

      Having said all that – I think Missionaries of Charity are as good a place to send extra money as any others.

  44. Kevin C. says:

    I must also thank our esteemed host for his tolerance in this space; it’s pretty much the only left-leaning locale on the Internet willing to tolerate my presence. Even the moderate right zones instaban for deplorableness, and the “Death Eater” spaces accuse me of being a left-wing troll. Plus, they’re filled with a lot of “this one strange trick will devastate the Left” nonsense. Or proclamations on how His Majesty Donald I, Holy American Emperor, fully intends to live up to his campaign promises, and any recent claims to the contrary are just him lying to the media and deep state — because you don’t tell your enemies the truth — while he positions his people and resources to subjugate the courts, “drain the swamp”, and establish the thousand-year Trumpenreich, praise Kek. Or alarming stuff like:

    We need to do our Duty.
    Our duty won’t be easy or bloodless and it shouldn’t be.
    We need to earn this – whatever we keep, whatever we leave we must EARN.

    Something else:
    Defend the West in 4 steps.
    1] Man Up. Dick punches solve this> [BANG-THERE. YOUR MANHOOD]
    2] Organize ‘self defense’ cells/squads local based so grounded well.
    3] Obtain Police neutrality. See/Hear/Speak no Evil is sufficient, even ideal.
    4] Act.

    Only do these 4 things and we shall have Victory.
    Key is step #3: and they’re only waiting to be asked. Also in America the Left has literally shot the cops into our arms. Respect Police, defer to them when they assert and then put it to them we have right of self defense…and that politics [includes war] is not their place.

    Not the cops job to reverse generations of gimmedat folly and cowardice.
    That’s politics and that’s men’s work.
    We inherited the Wind because of voting. Men never got anything by voting, the vote was given to men who fought.
    Democracy is Infantry or looting. This ends the looting, time of the soldier rises.
    so soldier up, man up and act.

    So, thank you, Scott Alexander, for being a harbor of open-mindedness and consideration.

    • Well... says:

      What exactly is “death eater”?

      • InferentialDistance says:

        N.e.o.r.e.a.c.t.i.o.n.a.r.y.

        It’s one of the banned words, so it gets a euphemism.

        • Well... says:

          Oh OK. I didn’t know if it was some more specific thing. “Death eater” has the sound of something meaningful and old.

          If the euphemisms are mainly to prevent certain types from finding SSC by searching, I don’t get why they have to be so esoteric. I use “All Trite” and people seem to get it; “Kneeyo-RX” or something like that might work for the other thing. Oh well, just thinking out loud. I know the euphemisms are already established.

          • simon says:

            It’s a Harry Potter reference.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Which is itself a reference to something meaningful and old.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            In addition to being a Harry Potter reference, the leader of the Death Eaters is He-who-must-not-be-named, which has thematic benefits. Similarly with using the name of a group of dark wizards for a philosophy that calls itself the Dark Enlightenment.

            Mostly, though, it’s because they’re a bunch of friggen’ nerds.

          • Anonymous says:

            I resemble that remark!

          • Nornagest says:

            the leader of the Death Eaters is He-who-must-not-be-named, which has thematic benefits.

            We actually can name Mencius Moldbug, though. We just don’t, because it’s funny.

            (Granted, I’m not sure how important Moldbug is to the movement he spawned, anymore. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him referenced anywhere but here.)

          • Brad says:

            I gather that the movement itself is more or less dead, it’s adherents pulled away from the essays of N.R.X. to the image macros of the alt right.

        • Aapje says:

          They have to be esoteric because the commenters here like to be clever.

      • Eltargrim says:

        If I recall my euphemisms, people in the same movement as Moldbug.

  45. Deiseach says:

    Anybody want to take a look at this survey and comment? It contains the magic words “Bayesian estimation”! 🙂

    What’s making me go “wibble” is the description of their methodology from a newspaper report (and yes, newspapers, I know they’re probably getting it backwards):

    A recently published study based on 2,000 interviews suggested that a quarter of Americans or more are atheist — multiples of what other surveys have found.

    [University of Kentucky psychologist Will] Gervais and fellow University of Kentucky psychologist Maxine Najle posed a list of innocuous statements — “I own a dog,” “I enjoy modern art” — and asked how many of the declarations applied to a respondent. Then they put the same statements to another group but added the statement, “I believe in God.”

    By comparing the results, they concluded that 26 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t believe in God. Previous surveys in 2015 by Pew and Gallup asked directly about the belief in God and found the number of atheists at between 3 and 11 percent.

    “Obtaining accurate atheist prevalence estimates may help promote trust and tolerance of atheists — potentially 80 million people in the USA and well over a billion worldwide,” the study said.

    I’m not exactly sure how this version of a survey is meant to coax out more “shy atheists” than other anonymous questionnaires or telephone polls, given that the paper itself claims:

    Social pressures favoring religiosity, coupled with stigma against religious disbelief (Edgell et al., 2006), might cause people who privately disbelieve in God to nonetheless self-present as believers, even in anonymous questionnaires.

    I also think that their “if you didn’t specifically indicate a belief in deity, we’re putting you down as an atheist” sorting is a little bit broad-brush; there are atheists and then there are atheists, as in “no, I am a strict materialist” and “well, I don’t believe in a personal god, but some kind of higher force out there? sure, why not?” Am I to take it that, having put down “I like dogs”, the atheist respondent now feels sufficiently comfortable that they have shown they are indeed a good and moral person so that they can then admit to being a dirty, stinkin’ atheist?

    Is the estimation derived from the responses good or are they crunching the numbers to come out the way they want them to come out? I know nothing about statistics so that’s why I’m relying on the numerically literate to tell me if this is good, bad or indifferent:

    For both samples, we indirectly inferred atheism rates using the unmatched count technique (e.g., Dalton, Wimbush, & Daily, 1994; Raghavarao & Federer, 1979), a tool for inferring base rates of socially sensitive outcomes. The unmatched count technique indirectly infers underlying base rates for socially undesirable or unacceptable outcomes by randomly assigning participants to one of two versions of a count task. In one version, participants indicate how many innocuous statements from a list (e.g., I can drive a motorcycle; I exercise regularly) are true of them. In the other version, participants receive a list that is identical, save for the addition of one sensitive item (e.g., I can drive a motorcycle; I exercise regularly; I smoke crack cocaine), and they indicate how many items are true of them. Crucially, nobody indicates which specific items are true of them, only how many in total.

    And so they take the difference between sample A and sample B and say that the extra element in sample B indicates how many secret crack smokers/gays/atheists are out there. It seems like a reasonable inferral and I’m not going to argue that it’s inconceivable “26% of Americans have no formal religious ties” but I do think it really depends on what definition of atheist the survey taker and most crucially the respondents are going by, and I’m not at all sure “my definition” matches up with “your definition” there.

    Parenthetically, I’m willing to bet you get an awful lot of lying about “I exercise regularly” on both count task responses 🙂

    • Deiseach says:

      (continuation of above)

      I think they ran into the Lizardman’s Constant here 🙂

      Sample II included a third condition in an attempt to further gauge the validity of the unmatched count technique. Similar to previous work (Coffman et al., 2016) we included an additional condition in which the added unmatched count item was ostensibly not socially sensitive. Thus, we compared the baseline condition to a condition in which the additional “sensitive” item was endorsement of a mathematical impossibility. Rather surprisingly, and in contrast to previous unmatched count validation (Coffman et al., 2016), we observed a reliable difference between these two conditions, with people indicating more statements true of them in the mathematical impossibility condition (M = 3.62, SD = 1.16) than in the baseline condition (M = 3.27, SD = 1.15), mean difference = .340 [.198, .477]. This result is, frankly, bizarre and we are hesitant to speculate a great deal about its causes. That said, we give it further treatment in the General Discussion.

      That is, by including a question which boiled down to “I don’t believe 4 is less than 13”, they got more positives, meaning a substantial (?) proportion of their respondents allegedly think 4 is equal to or greater than 13. Another reason why I think their conclusions might be a bit off, or else people were messin’ with them 🙂

      In Sample II, we ran an unmatched count design in which the sensitive item was endorsement of a mathematical impossibility (“I do not believe that 2 + 2 is less than 13”). Although we hypothesized that the unmatched count would return a prevalence estimate of essentially zero for this item, it bizarrely suggested a rate of about one third (34%). Without a doubt, this is our most damning result (cf. Vazire, 2016). It may reflect any combination of genuine innumeracy, incomprehension of an oddly phrased item, participant inattentiveness or jesting, sampling error, or a genuine flaw in the unmatched count technique.

      Of interest, they seemingly got the result that 0% of Republicans are atheists (as compared to 30% of Democrats and 39% of Independents). Hmmm. I dunno about that one, Fred! Surely there is at least one (1) lone Republican-voting atheist out there, hiding under the bed lest they be lynched by their Bible-bashing family and neighbours?

      More generally, this seems to contradict their premise that “people are unwilling to directly identify as atheists, even on anonymous questionnaires, due to social pressure”:

      Indirect measurements and self-reports were especially discrepant among Baby Boomers, political Independents, and women. On the other hand, indirect measurements and self-reports were quite similar among Millennials, Republicans, and men. …First, men self-report atheism at a rate 77% higher than women, but are only 16% higher on indirect measurement.

      If 77%<