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Links 6/17: Silinks Is Golden

Did you know: JRR Tolkien’s great granddaughter, Ruth Tolkien, is the only blind person in the UK to be a competitive fencer. She is currently ranked the #186th best fencer in the country.

Alpha – an ambiguously-AI-automated alliterative account about abiogenesis. As an annotator already announced, “absolutely an amazing achievement”.

In response to my Silicon Valley reality check, Noah Smith looks for good critiques of Silicon Valley.

Sarah C is interested in a potential sepsis cure and pleads for you to consider helping a hospital fund a study. Outside my area of expertise, except to say that sepsis is really bad and curing it would be pretty great, plus I trust Sarah.

Neerav Kingsland: Ignoring Educational Productivity Is Immoral: “studies consistently find urban charter schools outperform traditional public schools while spending around 20% less per-pupil…what, as a society, could we do with this 20% extra funding that urban charter schools could save us?” I would love to see a debate between Neerav Kingsland and Freddie deBoer – I can host or otherwise try to make it happen if they agree.

Related – Wanted: A Charter High School That Starts Class At A Reasonable Hour

New front on the battle to prove that zero-calorie sodas must be bad in some way: does CO2 in carbonated beverages induce ghrelin release and increase food consumption?

According to Muslim legend, the Jews will try to hide behind trees to escape the Last Judgment, but the trees will shout “There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!” – except for the Gharqad tree, which is apparently pro-Jew. This has led to all sorts of amazing conspiracy theories, like that Israel is planting a bunch of Gharqad trees to ensure hiding places for its citizens. And here’s a book about Hamas terrorists with an interesting passage on the Gharqad tree legend.

A paper claims that housing restrictions have “lowered aggregate US growth by more than 50% from 1964 to 2009″.

Explaining The Gender Gap In Crime: The Role Of Heart Rate. “A low resting heart rate is widely regarded as the best-replicated biological correlate of antisocial and criminal behavior” Apparently it might have to do with something general level of autonomic arousal being lower in (to be blunt about it) emotionless sociopaths?

The best Internet responses to Trump touching a glowing orb in Saudi Arabia.

I don’t have a source for this, but it looks right, and it’s a really cool way of presenting the data:

The mathematics of Girih tiles, a beautiful form of Islamic art which applied principles of Penrose tilings five hundred years before it was discovered in the West.

Vox tries its hand at an explainer about the Sam Harris / Charles Murray interview. Some criticism from Gene Expression, The Misrepresentation Of Genetic Science In The Vox Piece On Race And IQ. From Elan, The Cherry-Picked Science In Vox’s Charles Murray Article. From Sam Harris, an accusation that the article just blatantly lies about the contents of the publicly available podcast (one of the authors later apologizes for this, but Vox hasn’t changed the article). From Professor Emeritus Richard Haier, who called it a “junk science piece” and tried to write a counterpiece for Vox (they refused to publish it, but it’s now up on Quillette). And even from other Vox reporters who thought it was journalistically shoddy. As for me, I think the article was as good as it could be under the circumstances – while it does get some things wrong and is personally unfair to Murray, from a scientific point of view I’m just really glad that the piece admits that IQ is real, meaningful, and mostly hereditary. This was the main flashpoint of the original debate twenty-five years ago, it’s more important than the stuff on the achievement gap, and the piece gets it entirely right. I think this sort of shift from debating the very existence of intelligence to debating the details is important, very productive, and worth praising even when the details are kind of dubious. This should be read in the context of similar recent articles like NYMag’s Yes, There Is A Genetic Component To Intelligence and Nature’s Intelligence Research Should Not Be Held Back By Its Past.

AskHistorians: Did Roman legionnaires get PTSD? “For the Romans, people experiencing intrusive memories were said to be haunted by ghosts…those haunted by ghosts are constantly depicted showing many symptoms which would be familiar to the modern PTSD sufferer.”

Somehow I went through medical school without ever learning that going in hot tubs while pregnant can be a risk factor for birth defects.

Like a food blog, except it’s RPG rations for dwarves, elves, orcs, et cetera.

Highly educated people are more likely to get brain tumors. The article mentions the boring hypothesis that they just have better access to medical care (but then how come most other cancers are higher in the uneducated?), but also proposes the much more interesting hypothesis that “having more brain cells or greater brain activity somehow increases a person’s risk”.

Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford is looking for a research assistant for Toby Ord (founder of effective altruism, currently working on a book on existential risks). If you’re interested, check out the job details and contact info.

According to the Guinness Book Of World Records, the most fraudulent election in history was the 1927 Liberian presidential contest, in which incumbent Charles King received 234,000 votes despite there being only 15,000 registered voters.

The “moderate drinking increases lifespan” vs. “that’s obviously just a confounder based on only healthy people drinking” wars continue, with the latest volley being that fruit flies and chickens exposed to alcohol vapor live longer. I was previously on the “obviously just a confounder” side of the debate, but the animal studies sound pretty convincing.

Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, P.G. Wodehouse, G.K. Chesterton, and A. A. Milne all played on the same amateur cricket team. The team called themselves the Allahakbarries “[under] the mistaken belief that Allahu akbar meant ‘Heaven help us’ in Arabic.”

Heredity watch: Elon Musk’s maternal grandparents were well-known pilots and explorers, and Musk’s mother spent part of her childhood on various family expeditions in search of a lost city in the Kalahari Desert.

The best new blog I’ve come across recently is Sam[]zdat, which among other things has been reviewing various great books. Their Seeing Like A State review is admittedly better than mine, but I most appreciated The Meridian Of Her Greatness, based on a review of Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation. Go for the really incisive look at important ideas and social trends, stay for the writing style.

What lesson should we draw about Democrats’ prospects from the Republicans’ 7 point win in the Montana special election? (point, counterpoint).

The Less Wrong Wiki hosts a List of Rationalist Podcasts.

Behavioral Individuality In Clonal Fish Arises Despite Near-Identical Rearing Conditions. Worth interpreting in the context of my post Non-Shared Environment Doesn’t Just Mean Schools And Peers – even fish raised in exactly the same environments will show “non-shared environment” effects, probably because of something like embryogenetic randomness.

An easier way to read the Less Wrong Sequences online at readthesequences.com.

Mark Zuckerberg Calls For Universal Basic Income In His Harvard Commencement Speech. Sure, Silicon Valley people call for lots of things, but this seems especially important insofar as Zuckerberg seems like he’s positioning himself to run for President at some point.

An analysis showing Donald Trump’s speech patterns getting less fluent and more bizarre over the past few years – might he be suffering from mild age-related cognitive impairment? Also, given that this can be pretty subtle (cue joke about Trump) and affect emotional stability in complicated ways, should we be more worried about electing seventy-plus year old people to the presidency?

A sobering statistic on the difficulty of dialing back mass incarceration (incompletely sourced, but seems to check out): “if America only jailed murderers and rapists, it would still have more prisoners per capita than Western Europe”.

Measures Of Dogs’ Inhibitory Abilities Do Not Correlate Across Tasks. A lot of good cognition studies are being done on dogs these days; this one suggests that we don’t yet have a good general concept of “inhibition” that we can use to say that some animals (people?) have better self-control in general than others.

Big systematic review and meta-analysis: what actually helps lower-income students succeed? Read the paper or the Freddie deBoer blog post, which summarizes the results as “human beings”.

A more recent study on the evolutionary history of Ashkenazi genetic diseases (paper, popular article) claims that Tay-Sachs is probably the result of evolutionary selection, but that others (eg Gaucher, torsion dystonia, Fanconi anaemia, etc) aren’t, which would be a partial blow for Cochran et al’s selection theory. My guess is they just don’t have enough power to detect the effects – if this was all random drift, it would be vanishingly unlikely that so many of these diseases end up in the same pathways (eg lysosomal storage). [EDIT: I may be misunderstanding this; it may just mean there’s no net selection even though they’re diseases]

Related: a reader points out this paper on “The Social Construction Of Hungarian Genius”.

PNAS has a good (albeit kind of silly) article on claims that scientific progress has slowed.

This month in insane Twitter drama, for people who have previously made the good choice not to follow insane Twitter drama but want to walk back on it for some reason: will Sam Kriss publicly denounce Zionism? (1, 2, 3). What happens when Jeet Heer tweets “Bernie would have won”? Is Joan Walsh un-woke on Palestine? And apparently there is some kind of Joan Walsh/Katie Halper feud. I realize this sort of stuff seems petty, but it was really helpful in getting me to understand why everyone hates each other, and helped convince me that a lot of things I thought were silly arguments against straw men are actually important arguments against a large contingent of (depressingly) real people.

Parcel sorting facilities in China.

Noah Smith: The US has forgotten how to do infrastructure.

That story about how Gavrilio Princip failed to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand, then went to get a sandwich, then ran into the Archduke just outside the sandwich shop and assassinated him anyway? The Smithsonian says it’s probably false.

Did you know: the ancient Egyptian language of hieroglyphs and Pharaohs survived into modern times as the Coptic language and is still the liturgical language of Coptic churches today. Also, English words derived from Egyptian include “adobe” and “oasis”.

New study finds that growth mindset is not associated with scholastic aptitude in a large sample of university applicants. Particularly excited about this one because an author said that my blog posts about growth mindset inspired the study. I’m honored to have been able to help the progress of science!

Rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun wrote a 1952 sci-fi story about the colonization of Mars, in which the Martian government was led by a President called “the Elon”.

Internet payment processors and payment regulations are terrible and destroying the nootropics industry and probably a bunch of other industries I know less about, part 459401.

ABC News reported that a meat company’s product was disgusting low-quality “pink slime”, and people stopped buying from that meat company. Now the company is suing ABC for $5.7 billion in a lawsuit with the potential to have chilling effects on journalism in general.

I think the Byzantine Empire had the coolest-sounding titles of any civilization, including Grand Logothete and Megaduke.

A deadly fire in an apartment building in London gains an extra layer of horror in the context of this blog post by apartment residents predicting that there is definitely going to be a deadly fire there soon due to apartment management and local government incompetence.

Contra recent thinkpieces about how polls don’t work and psephology is a pseudoscience, on an aggregate level the probabilities from prediction markets have been impressively accurate.

Phone companies were ready to deploy cellular phones since the 1940s – the reason we didn’t get them until the ’80s was government regulators refusing to give them the spectrum space for political reasons.

There’s wide state-by-state variation on the legality of shooting Bigfoot, with Washington calling it a felony and Texas calling it acceptable given that it’s technically “an invasive species”. (h/t Tumblr)

A swarm of 20,000 bees recently descended upon Vox Media’s Manhattan offices, leading to articles like The Swarm Of Bees Outside Vox Media, Explained.

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1,007 Responses to Links 6/17: Silinks Is Golden

  1. actinide meta says:

    I’ve been in communication with Dr. Marik about his sepsis treatment. I’m not knowledgeable enough to have a very strong object-level opinion about whether it works, and there is a daunting graveyard of failed treatments for sepsis, but the potential benefit is so staggeringly large (sepsis causes *millions* of deaths per year worldwide, and many other bad outcomes short of death) that an RCT to evaluate it looks like a very, very good investment. And since someone is getting sepsis every two seconds, it’s worth trying to hurry – many conventional sources of funding are very slow.

    However, I’m pretty sure that Sarah’s estimate of $250K to fund a study is very low. It’s true that the claimed effect size is large, so in principle a small study should be able to detect it, but as I understand it there are a lot of fixed costs for these things, and a tiny study may be unconvincing even if it’s statistically significant on paper. Dr. Marik’s own current estimate is ~$2M and I would not personally be surprised if that is low. If someone can credibly test this theory for $250K, they should speak up because I would be happy to fund it right now!

    • chosh says:

      Do you know where the $250K estimate originally came from? Sarah’s linked post seems to say it’s already been established that this will cost that much, but I’m not seeing where that was.

      Also, thanks a ton for being proactive and actually reaching out to Dr. Marik, I’ve been procrastinating on figuring out how to vet this for weeks now.

    • grendelkhan says:

      Seen over there: there’s an ongoing clinical trial elsewhere, estimated completion next April, testing Vitamin C for sepsis against placebo. This isn’t quite the same; Dr. Marik’s protocol combines Vitamin C, thiamine and corticosteroids.

      This seems like a good sign, as this sort of thing (no novel drugs, likely cheap to do) can get funded. See also ultrasound for Alzheimer’s here, and also here.

      • Deiseach says:

        On the face of it, Vitamin C for sepsis makes me go “Huh?” (and brings back memories of Linus Pauling’s evangelisation for it) but then again, it’s crazy enough that it just might work!

        🙂

        (I’d kind of be betting on the corticosteroids, though).

        • Hawkguy says:

          I agree with you on the steroids comment. Low-dose steroids often improve shock symptoms, but their effect on mortality tends to be dependent on disease severity.

          It’s frustrating steroids is part of the proposed concoction. The study needs to be set up with vitamin C as the independent variable and steroids being given to every patient. My suspicion is Vit C may have some small benefit in the already malnourished, but I doubt it’s turning the tide is a patient who is already circling the drain.

      • actinide meta says:

        Dr. Marik showed me an (unpublished?) in vitro study showing that hydrocortisone + ascorbic acid does something to protect endothelial cells that neither does alone. So there is actually reason to think that the combination therapy is important. Of course the model may or may not match what’s really happening in septic patients.

      • anholt says:

        This comment almost convinced me not to donate — there’s an ongoing clinical trial, so the need is less urgent, right?

        My second thought was: *I* wouldn’t be convinced by a single clinical trial, so if it’s this promising then it would be great to see multiple slightly-varying trials happen. Donated.

    • mfm32 says:

      Perhaps fortuitously, Jeff Bezos just made an open solicitation for charitable endeavors on Twitter. He says he wants things “at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.” I’d say this qualifies very well on both fronts.

      Someone should suggest the trial to him. I would do it, but I have virtually no Twitter presence and I suspect someone with a higher profile stands a better chance of getting through.

  2. bintchaos says:

    Here’s my glowing orb meme.
    Of course to get the punch line its necessary to understand that sorcery and witchcraft are indeed punishable by law– (i think its by beheading ) in the Kingdom, where the constitution is the Quran and the consenual rule of law is shariah..

    My guess is they just don’t have enough power to detect the effects


    I think convergent gene networks and large sample cognitive genomics may yield results soon– that is what I meant when I said Cochran’s tech is dated.

    From Professor Emeritus Richard Haier, who called it a “junk science piece” and tried to write a counterpiece for Vox (they refused to publish it, but it’s now up on Quillette).


    I agree with Dr. Haier– because its just pandering to the liberal base, exactly like conservatives pander on climate science, evolution, and the relative fitness of conservative ideology in the 21st century.

    I think this sort of shift from debating the very existence of intelligence to debating the details is important, very productive, and worth praising even when the details are kind of dubious.


    Sure hope you still feel this way when/if my dissertation on red/blue brain biochemistry and the Soldier/Explorer CCP gets published. 🙂

    • Scott Alexander says:

      “I agree with Dr. Haier– because its just pandering to the liberal base, exactly like conservatives pander on climate science, evolution, and the relative fitness of conservative ideology in the 21st century.”

      Yes – my point is that the science on some things (IQ having predictive power, IQ being heritable) is so strong that they can’t even deny it in order to pander any more. It’s like when conservatives switched from saying “there’s no such thing as global warming” to “global warming isn’t caused by humans” – even though the second statement is false, the switch from the first to the second statement represents a real (if hidden) victory of science over misunderstanding.

      • bintchaos says:

        Agree totally– but now conservatives have pushed farther down to “well okfine Global Warming exists and AGW exists but those are meaningless because model tonality and uncertainty“– so where does the drilling stop? Is there a bedrock of acceptance of science?

        • Tetrikitty says:

          I’d say it probably stops at “well fine, we need to do something about global warming but probably not spend X% of the budget on it”, where X% is somewhere around the point of diminishing returns.

      • Andrew Klaassen says:

        I was thinking about an irony of IQ heritability the other day: If we managed to magically give everyone the perfect environment to maximize their IQ, the variation in intelligence caused by variation in DNA would be 100% in that population.

        That led me to wish for non-relative measures of the impact of environment and genetics on intelligence in these discussions at all times. A statement like “genetic variation is responsible for 50% of the variation in intelligence” is a common statement which is supposed to say something about the relationship between genetics and intelligence, but it’s actually a statement about the relationship between genetics and inequality. With perfect equality, the impact of genetics will go up to 100%; as inequality grows, the impact of genetics will approach 0%.

        IQ points seem like the best measure we’ve got, though even they are, in typical practise, measured relatively. But let’s go with them: We know that being poor and thinking about expensive car repairs can temporarily lower your IQ by 10 points or so. We know that being adopted from a low-SES family into a high-SES family can raise your IQ by more than 10 points. I’d be curious to know what impact the provision of, say, disease-free running water has on average IQ scores; how much has chlorine raised average general intelligence? And, on the genetic side, what is the maximum IQ point impact of a single genetic variation? Of the top 10 or top 100 of them put together?

        • Barely matters says:

          I was thinking about an irony of IQ heritability the other day: If we managed to magically give everyone the perfect environment to maximize their IQ, the variation in intelligence caused by variation in DNA would be 100% in that population.

          I had a prof years ago who used to explain this beautifully in a lecture called “Hitler Clones vs. the United Federation of Planets”.

          It never occurs to most people that the effect size of different inputs varies from population to population. To most people you come across saying something like “In this group, height has a hereditary coefficient of .8, but in this group, it’s down at .4” sounds like absolute lunacy. But it’s easy to see that in a society of Hitler Clones who are genetically identical, any difference in ability must be the result of environmental factors, whereas in a post scarcity society with perfect teaching techniques where everyone is able to reach their full potential, any difference in ability must be genetic (Or at least innate).

          So inequality is half of the equation and diversity is the other. As environmental inequality drops, genetic factors become more prominent. As genetic variation drops, environmental factors become more prominent.

          The answer to all your questions in the final paragraph are “It varies depending on what population you’re looking at, who you include, and when you test.”

          • youzicha says:

            it’s easy to see that in a society of Hitler Clones who are genetically identical, any difference in ability must be the result of environmental factors

            Or not; see the fish link above!

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            I had a prof years ago who used to explain this beautifully in a lecture called “Hitler Clones vs. the United Federation of Planets”.

            Heh. Nice.

            As environmental inequality drops, genetic factors become more prominent.

            More prominent in relative terms, but not (necessarily) any larger in absolute terms. A tiny effect which explains 100% of existing variation is still a tiny effect. That’s the part around the communication of these ideas that bugs me. Why use variable hereditary coefficients if absolute numbers are available and more meaningful?

            (There’s a similar problem with the communication around genetic relatedness that bugs me, too. I remember wondering in high school how I could be 95% related to a chimp but only 50% related to my siblings…)

            The answer to all your questions in the final paragraph are “It varies depending on what population you’re looking at, who you include, and when you test.”

            I was using the unspoken caveat, “All else being equal,” which usually covers things, but the fish link that youzicha referred back to makes a great case for even tiny, random differences leading to large effect sizes – so all else can’t be equal for practical values of “equal”, which is fascinating.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Up next: double-blinded studies on the effects of getting into art school on Hitler clones.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            I don’t have full access to this recent study, but if I’m squinting at the provided figures correctly, and plugging them into this formula correctly, all 50 or so IQ-related genes (and 300-ish SNPs) that they’ve found together explain about 6 IQ points in the population of ~78,000 people studied.

            Presumably, they’d continue to explain 6 (fixed, 1930s) IQ points whether environmental variation was eliminated or whether we started handing out lead-laced lollipops to random kids.

            I’m happy to be corrected on that.

          • tgb says:

            Okay, but why were they clones of Hitler? Wouldn’t you go with storm troopers or something to play off the Star Trek of the other side?

        • Cliff says:

          We know that being poor and thinking about expensive car repairs can temporarily lower your IQ by 10 points or so. We know that being adopted from a low-SES family into a high-SES family can raise your IQ by more than 10 points.

          Ahem… what?

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            Ahem… what?

            Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function. Summary. Criticism.

            Missing a night’s sleep will lower your tested IQ by about the same amount. Ever since I became a sleep-deprived parent, I’ve been stupider than I used to be. You could argue that sleep loss is a temporary event, but what if it happens every single day for years on end?

            The adoption numbers are from the Vox article that Scott linked to, which claims a positive IQ impact of 12-18 points.

        • bbartlog says:

          It looks like there is significant variation caused by neither genes nor what we think of when we use the word ‘environment’ (although in published papers it generally gets put in the category ‘non-shared environment’). Even with a perfectly controlled environment including, say, identical clone mothers with carefully managed prenatal lifestyle, you would still have measurable variation which would for all practical purposes be random. Granted, we might only be talking a residual +/- SD of 2 or 3 points, but it would not go to zero.

        • Brandon Berg says:

          We know that being adopted from a low-SES family into a high-SES family can raise your IQ by more than 10 points.

          In adults? There’s a phenomenon in IQ research called the Wilson effect: In young children, IQ is highly sensitive to shared environment. As children grow into adults, the influence of shared environment weakens dramatically. Maybe because environments become much more similar once children reach school age, or maybe because adult and child IQ tests are testing something completely different.

          A lot of these studies touted as proving that shared environment matters more than we thought are based on testing of young children. Due to the Wilson effect, these are of questionable relevance to the heritability of adult IQ.

      • bintchaos says:

        I thought about what I hate about pandering so much…its so disrespectful. Automatically assuming you have to soft peddle the science and the math…I’m an educationist. Everyone can learn. But the polarization is so intense right now that no one will accept learning from the other team’s experts…and you wind up with this ferocious counting coup on the other team’s science or philosophy or history or standard-bearers. I think within group experts have to create better delivery systems to educate members of their own tribe. I think its their responsibility.
        That’s what I hope to discover with the Cooperation Competition Paradigm I’m working on…there aren’t superior and inferior traits…

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        So you might have missed this in the earlier open threads, but bintcchaos is an Islamist and apologist for ISIS [1] [2] [3] who has been abusing an exploit to insert comments out of order.

        • bintchaos says:

          How is explaining what IS plans, goals and methods are being an apologist?
          Since I’m explaining how Islam works does that make me an apologist for Islam?
          Aren’t you supposed to know your enemy?
          And what has that got to do with the NeuroScience of Intelligence? And we established that I’m just using the reply function from email links, not hacking URLs
          Can I report this comment?
          Guess not.

          Why don’t Americans believe what IS says they want to do when they spell it out? The jihadist tell you exactly what they want to do, why they are doing it, and how they plan to accomplish their goals.
          Just read these two books– pamphlets actually, more like field manuals– The Global Call to Islamic Jihad and The Management of Savage Chaos. Instead we have whole books and blogs devoted to micro-analyzing psycho-sexual motives, like a nation of blindmen feeling up an elephant.

          This isnt going to end well.

          “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
          ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Since I’m explaining how Islam works does that make me an apologist for Islam?

            The part where you accuse anyone who disagrees with your assessments of “whitesplaining” is what marks you as an apologist. If you were merely explaining how it works, you would not get so offended by disagreement.

          • bintchaos says:

            I said mansplaining– is that now the same thing as whitesplaining?
            I get the feeling that David Friedman is lecturing me on something I know more about than he does from a position of authority as a senior white male.
            Male was kind of the operative word here.

          • You have been arguing that conservatives who don’t denounce Trump are pandering to their base. It occurs to me that this raises a question associated with the claim that you are an Islamic State apologist.

            You have made repeated references to Jihadists. In none of them did you denounce I.S. No comments along the lines of “of course, these Jihadists are rapists, murderers, and generally defaming the good name of Islam.”

            There seem to be two possibilities. One is that you are an I.S. supporter, in which case the conversation would be more interesting if you said so. The other is that you are pandering to I.S. supporters by not denouncing it and them.

            Which is it?

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            The third possibility (and the one I believe is most likely) is that bintchaos takes the not-unpopular (on SSC) position that ISIS are an inevitable (or at least logical) consequence of Islam.

          • bintchaos says:

            @rlms
            That is mostly correct…a better summary of my position would be a marine biologist studying a great white shark…my area of study is complex adaptive systems dynamics.
            IS was the emergent apex predator in a virulently hostile eco-system created by many parameters (one of which being US interventism in MENA).
            So does the marine biologist admire the shark?

          • @bintchaos:

            So you will withdraw your charge of pandering if I explain that I regard Trump as an interesting phenomenon in the American political system that I would like to understand–as in fact I do?

            That would correspond to your explanation of why your failure to denounce ISIS is not pandering.

          • bintchaos says:

            @DavidFriedman
            sure, if you express your admiration for DJT as the apex predator in the ecosystem of US government.
            But that also implies you have to admire his expert farming of the low-information base for votes and accept that he is killing conservatism’s chance for future majorities.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            So would you agree IS is pandering to a low-stability base and killing Islam’s chances of peaceful integration?

          • I get the feeling that David Friedman is lecturing me on something I know more about than he does from a position of authority as a senior white male.

            I get the feeling that you have no idea how much I do or don’t know about Islam. You could get a first approximation from the chapter on Islamic law in my current book–corrections welcome.

            I can’t tell if you know more or less about Islam than I do–my guess so far is more about some elements, less about others. I probably know more medieval Islamic stories than you do and much more about medieval Islamic cooking, but surely less about Ibn Taymiyyah.

            I tried to get a clearer idea by engaging you in a conversation on some things I thought interesting, but you weren’t willing to play.

            The “senior white male” part says more about you than me.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Gobbobble

            So would you agree IS is pandering to a low-stability base and killing Islam’s chances of peaceful integration

            ?
            nope, the opposite.
            I dont think its possible to force a “peaceful integration of Islam”.
            As evidence, US has wholly defunded CVE in the acknowledgement that there is no counter-narrative…at least, no counter-narrative that is accessible to the US.
            @DavidFriedman
            I get the feeling that you are an orientalist and that makes me deeply disinterested in your book.
            And yeah, it certainly does– my whole academic life I’ve been lectured to by senior white males on how I dont actually know anything. Not your fault– we all have bias.

          • bean says:

            I get the feeling that you an orientalist and that makes me deeply disinterested in your book.

            And I get the feeling that you’re deeply disinterested in actually engaging with us, and are instead just here to talk at the evil conservatives.
            Count me as deeply disinterested in listening to you, too.

          • bintchaos says:

            I explained how I got here …I fell inlove with Dr S based on UNSONG and the Eternal Struggle.
            But I lack sufficient empathy substrate to be the Arlie Hoschild of the high-information conservatives.
            So yeah, there is no dhiliz here, as al-Ghazali would say.

          • Nornagest says:

            I get the feeling that you are an orientalist

            You sure are full of reasons not to talk to people.

          • Deiseach says:

            But I lack sufficient empathy substrate to be the Arlie Hoschild of the high-information conservatives.

            Never heard of the person whom I had to Google. Turns out to be the kind of person I should have expected. Bred’n’buttered in Berkeley, California (though could there be another? A merciful and just God surely would not permit such!) and did a “With Rod And Gun Through Darkest Heartlandia” book:

            In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right.

            For “one of the most influential sociologists of her generation”, that’s not a name I recognise, so either she’s Only World Famous In Berserkly or I just don’t know enough sociologists – a possibility that I find, oddly enough, cheers me right up 🙂

          • bean says:

            But I lack sufficient empathy substrate to be the Arlie Hoschild of the high-information conservatives.

            So basically a missionary to an unreached people group? I thought liberals were generally against that sort of thing.
            Or maybe I’m just misunderstanding. But if you’re trying to understand us, you could try being a bit less at odds with community norms.

          • Deiseach says:

            my whole academic life I’ve been lectured to by senior white males on how I dont actually know anything

            Have you considered the possibility that people who have lived longer than you were in the world first and may, just perhaps, have some inkling or experience of things that you do not yet possess? Shocking hypothesis, I know, but nothing should be beyond the bounds of consideration!

          • Nornagest says:

            that’s not a name I recognise, so either she’s Only World Famous In Berserkly or I just don’t know enough sociologists

            FWIW, I lived in Berkeley for several years and I’ve never heard of her. Don’t follow sociology much, though.

          • I get the feeling that you are an orientalist and that makes me deeply disinterested in your book.

            The book is about a bunch of different legal systems, only one and a half of which are Muslim. No idea if it would interest you–possibly not, given what you have revealed about your approach to understanding things. I’m not proposing grand theories, just trying to make sense of how other people have solved the problems legal systems exist to deal with.

            If “orientalist” means “non-Muslim who finds Islam interesting,” I plead guilty. It sounds as though you probably qualify as well, assuming you are not yourself Muslim, something you have, I think, implied but not actually said.

          • So yeah, there is no dhiliz here, as al-Ghazali would say.

            Can you see why the effect of a comment like this is to make people irritated at you, view you as someone not worth conversing with? The only function of the reference is to show off your purported (for all I know real) erudition. If you had wanted to convey information you would have used terminology there was some hope others here would understand.

          • Qays says:

            @bintchaos

            The word is dihliz, not dhiliz. It’s Persian, not Arabic.

          • Deiseach says:

            Looking it up online, it can refer to: the vestibule of a tent, the (red) tent of the Sultan/commander, the (angled) corridor(s) leading from the courtyard/entrance hall into the main body of the home.

            Ah, so is the dilhiz, as used in this sense, something along the lines of what Lewis was getting at in “Mere Christianity”?

            I hope no reader will suppose that “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions – as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in.

            And is this the same al-Ghazali as wrote “The Incoherence of the Philosophers”, which argues against material contingency but rather that all events and actions flow from the immediate will of God? A strange choice to be the favourite quote of someone who tells us they study computer complexity theory, do not have any mystical leanings but are solidly physics and materially-based when it comes to social psychology and leading the advance to a better world by guiding mass human consciousness on scientific principles!

            It’s a bit rich to be denouncing Harris, Dawkins et al as defectors from the Science Tribe for not going hammer and tongs at creationism when you yourself are always quoting someone more creationist than the creationists! 🙂

          • bintchaos says:

            @Qays
            Thanks for the correction. My spelling is not good, and the spellchecker doesnt do farsi.
            @DavidFriedman
            Not really sure this is interesting to anyone except you and your incessant witchtesting. When I started to study arabic my prof said to listen to quranic recitation to improve speaking performance. Besides Quran we also read sufi love poetry, arabian odes, classic arabic literature. I was drawn first to Ibn Arabi and from him to al-Ghazali. Then in reading Ghazali’s jurisprudent arguments with Ibn Taymiyya to my narrow-beam focus on Taymiyya and his student Ibn Qayyim.
            I also really recommend you read Edward Said’s book Orientalism if you haven’t read it. Here is a pretty good book on Taymiyya you might like–
            The Taymiyyan Movement

          • Deiseach says:

            Not really sure this is interesting to anyone except you and your incessant witchtesting.

            You are the one who jumped in here scattering references to all manner of things and using terms in the fashion, as another commenter said, of an Arabic version of a weeabo.

            Strangely enough, we do have people on here who are familiar with intelligence agencies, government contracting, various strands of computer science, history, and yes even jurisprudence and Islamic thought, as well as many other topics, and these people came by their knowledge the real way.

            If you imagined you could, unchallenged, make assertions based on our presumed ignorance and unfamiliarity with the scraps of Arabic and three letter acronyms you like to toss about, you see that you were mistaken. When you then go on to reply, not with providing evidence to back up your claims, but with petulant accusations of witch hunting and sexism (senior white males daring to think they might know more about something than you!) then you show yourself likely to be one of the following:

            (a) a liar, plain and simple, who is not studying the claimed subject at an academic level but has picked up a few words here and there, as a magpie might pick up shiny sweet wrappers
            (b) not a liar, but someone with a very shallow knowledge of what they allege they are studying; a facile familiarity that Googling and Wikipedia would give them
            (c) to be actually as young as the text speak makes you out to be
            (d) a troll

            Whichever, if any, of these are true, you also show yourself to be someone not worth engaging with if all you can do is obfuscate and react with “sexism! ageism! witch hunting!”

            Put up or shut up, as they say.

          • Qays says:

            @Deiseach

            Al-Ghazali’s central argument against the Aristotelians (the “philosophers” whose incoherence he sets out to demonstrate) is, effectively, that they had defected from the Science Tribe, as he conceived of it, by proposing and insisting upon a metaphysics totally divorced from rational proof. He’s quite a foundational figure in the development of modern rationalism, you’d do well not to poo-poo him.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Qays
            yes, that is how I understand Ghazali. And I liked your ScienceTribe of Islamic thought description very much. But I don’t understand why Ghazali is so badly misrepresented in western thought. One would think Orientalists would love The Hermeneutics of Reconciliation and his attempt to modify exegesis of Surah Baqarah to dispute christian shirk.

          • Qays says:

            @bintchaos

            Yeah, the al-Ghazali as enemy of reason meme is a bit strange to me as well. I think to a large extent it emerged out of simple linguistic confusion: people (both in the West and in some theologically conservative Muslim circles) read him as criticizing “philosophy” rather than “Aristotelian metaphysics” because the word he uses is “falsafa,” and this initial misapprehension persists because it’s a lot easier on the brain than actually sussing out the intricacies of the debates between the Mu’tazilites and the Asharites.

            In terms of his approach to the hard sciences, though, al-Ghazali is firmly rationalist, certainly by the standards of his time. And none of us are Aristotelians anymore anyway.

          • Not really sure this is interesting to anyone except you and your incessant witchtesting.

            If one claims to be a witch, one must expect to be tested.

            When I started to study arabic my prof said to listen to quranic recitation to improve speaking performance. Besides Quran we also read sufi love poetry, arabian odes, classic arabic literature. I was drawn first to Ibn Arabi and from him to al-Ghazali. Then in reading Ghazali’s jurisprudent arguments with Ibn Taymiyya to my narrow-beam focus on Taymiyya and his student Ibn Qayyim.

            Thanks for the explanation of your background in matters Islamic. Mine began in a less academic fashion.

            A very long time ago I got interested in historical recreation and adopted the persona, in that context, of a Maghrebi, a Berber c. 1100. I wanted to know what such a person would be like, so read whatever relevant I could find. One of my activities in recreation was story telling, so I accumulated period Islamic stories that worked for oral presentation. Another was medieval cooking, so I experimented pretty extensively with the period Islamic sources and arranged for the translation of one of them–I, unfortunately, do not read Arabic.

            That then intersected with my professional (and political) interests, producing the chapter on Islamic law in my current book on legal systems. Last semester, probably the last time I will teach the course that book grew out of, my class was mostly made up of Saudi LLM students, so I had primary sources in my classroom and was able to learn a reasonable amount about modern Saudi law and the respects in which it is or is not fiqh.

            I also really recommend you read Edward Said’s book Orientalism if you haven’t read it.

            I haven’t read it and probably won’t. Judging by what I could learn about it with a quick online search, it is a larger and earlier example of something that irritated me in Hallaq, the attempt to turn the discussion of Islamic history into a weapon in current political controversy.

            Here is a pretty good book on Taymiyya you might like–The Taymiyyan Movement

            Thanks. That sounds more interesting.

            And in exchange, three reading suggestions. I am fond of Mohammed’s People, a history of the early centuries done as a pastiche from period sources. The memoirs of Usamah ibn Munqidh, either the older or the more recent translation, is a window into one part of medieval Islamic culture. And al-Tanuhki (The Table Talk of a Mesopotamian Judge) is another and different such.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Qays
            Really? I think conservatives are sortof Aristotelians because they are so focused on the local view…while liberals are more Platonists because they attempt the global view.

            @DavidFriedman
            The reason you should read Said is to proof your writing against pervasive orientalism…it is very to hard to write objective analysis of anything islamic in the current environment, even if you don’t deliberately incorporate that.

            adopted the persona, in that context, of a Maghrebi, a Berber c. 1100.


            ha! Role playing game.
            on ahadith I agree with Qays. It doesn’t matter a whit what non-muslims think of the validity of ahadith.
            What are you going to do, argue with Islamic scholars with a thousand years of isnad about validity?

          • Qays says:

            @bintchaos

            There are three main schools of classical Islamic theology or metaphysics:

            1. the Mu‘tazilites, who adopted large swathes of classical Greek philosophy (which is why they’re often termed Aristotelians or Neoplatonists), and who are today more or less extinct (largely thanks to al-Ghazali)

            2. the traditionalists or Atharites (“textualists”), represented by Ibn Taymiyya and the modern Hanbali/Wahhabi/Salafi nexus, who basically rejected all metaphysical speculation as inherently heretical

            3. the Asharites, who count al-Ghazali among their number, who are today the predominant Sunni theological school and who basically synthesized the beliefs of the other two schools

            While there are certainly individual questions on which the Mu‘tazilites and the traditionalists have more in common with each other than with the Asharites, they’re generally opposed to each other. The modern traditionalists attempted to coöpt al-Ghazali’s criticism of Mu‘tazilite falsafa as a standard traditionalist criticism of all metaphysical speculation (“philosophy” as we understand it), which is why their reading of him has so much in common with the early Orientalist reading (which is itself long out of favor with specialists in medieval Islamic intellectual history in the Western academy, though not out of favor with New Atheist popular scientists and their followers).

          • engleberg says:

            @bintchaos- ‘the reason you should read Said is to proof your writing against pervasive orientalism’

            My God Ate My Homework students are perennial. My granddad had students in 1920s Idaho going ‘I won’t do my Jane Austen homework because she isn’t Christian enough, give me an A anyway or I’ll call you anti-Christian’. Said’s Orientalism is for students who want to go, ‘I won’t read Jane Austen because she’s not anti-imperialist enough, give me an A anyway or I’ll call you imperialist’. My Dog Ate My Homework students are less anti-intellectual.

            Said was a real thinker and his other books are worth reading, but Orientalism pandered to bad students.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Qays
            Thank you for the helpful backgrounder, which should be immensely useful to the SSC commentariat.
            Like I said, I studied sufism, shiism, the Mu’tazhilites etc on my path to Ibn Taymiyya.
            I think Orientalism is newly manifest in the rise of cottage industry jihadologists morphed into internet pundits who say things like “Ibn Taymiyya was kind of a dick” and flog books on their TLs.

            not out of favor with New Atheist popular scientists and their followers).


            Defectors from MY ScienceTribe.
            My particular interest in Taymiyyan tafsir stems from complex adaptive systems theory and John Maynard-Smith (JMS) evolutionary theory of games (EGT). The current resurgence of salafi-jihadism obviously echoes the Mongol invasions environment that Ibn Taymiyya lived in.

            @engleberg

            Orientalism pandered to bad students.


            I talk with Edward Said’s nephew nearly everyday and he would be very disappointed to hear that.

          • Nornagest says:

            I also really recommend you read Edward Said’s book Orientalism if you haven’t read it.

            I haven’t read it and probably won’t. Judging by what I could learn about it with a quick online search, it is a larger and earlier example of something that irritated me in Hallaq, the attempt to turn the discussion of Islamic history into a weapon in current political controversy.

            I have, and your judgement is correct.

          • Deiseach says:

            Qays, I certainly do not mean to pooh-pooh al-Ghazali, but it is fairly likely that were he writing today, he’d be strongly in favour of Theistic Evolution, sympathetic to the “teaching creationism in schools” side of the fight in America, and be on the Francis Collins side of “believers and scientists”.

            You may or may not be aware that P.Z. Myers thinks Collins and his like are not real scientists and are lying to themselves one way or another as to what they really believe.

            If I take bintchaos seriously in previous statements about not being a mystic (intelligence has a physical basis and complexity science will work out a way to let us create a scheme to improve society and culture by manipulating the underlying laws of human behaviour and psychology – sounding reminiscent of Asimov’s psychohistory to my ears) and their criticism of atheist scientists and thinkers for not educating the public/their base on climate change and creationism, then al-Ghazali would not be a sympathetic thinker as he plainly values faith, places faith as more important to understanding than unaided and mere human reason, and fairly clearly believes in God as the First Mover and Ground of Being for the universe.

            You know, something along the same lines as those Christian theists bintchaos thinks should be getting a stern dressing-down from Harris, Dawkins and others.

            Resolve the contradiction for me, please, without it being “Ah yeah, but he’s not a white Christian, that makes all the difference!”

            Re: Said, I think the book has some useful things to say but it is certainly of its time, did have an ideological axe to grind, and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.

            I talk with Edward Said’s nephew nearly everyday and he would be very disappointed to hear that.

            Excuse me, I’m just clearing my throat and certainly not laughing up my sleeve.

            Child, the name-dropping you engage in is becoming absurd. At this point, so far as I am concerned, you are the binti who cried wolf one too many times. You may well be Said’s nephew himself but right now I wouldn’t believe you if you said it was twelve o’clock at noon.

            You’ve claimed to be rather too much of a Renaissance person, what with your multitudinous fields of study, expertise to the tips of your fingers on the most obscure elements of Islamic theology and jurisprudence, mysterious hints as to intelligence agency connections, and the Devil knows what else, all this from a person who started off with the tone and prose style of a fourteen year old with the text speak. And now this: “yeah well you only read the book, I talk to his nephew! every day!”

            Anyone want to start a list of “things what bintchaos has claimed to know/do/be”? Just for the amusement value?

          • @DavidFriedman
            The reason you should read Said is to proof your writing against pervasive orientalism…it is very to hard to write objective analysis of anything islamic in the current environment, even if you don’t deliberately incorporate that.

            Mostly I work from primary sources (admittedly in translation). The main exception is in the legal system, but I read a range of sources, and I think I am safe in concluding that Hallaq, who blames the destruction of the traditional legal system (of which he thinks highly) on western Imperialism, is not an orientalist in your sense.

            on ahadith I agree with Qays. It doesn’t matter a whit what non-muslims think of the validity of ahadith.
            What are you going to do, argue with Islamic scholars with a thousand years of isnad about validity?

            It matters what is true. I’m not interested in arguing with Islamic scholars, I’m interested in understanding legal systems.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Deiseach

            I share your skepticism, but in this particular case it’s at least semi-plausible assuming they are referring to Saree Makdisi, who’s a professor at UCLA.

            After all, we speak to a professor from CA all the time here at SSC.

            Side Note: Bintchaos, you indicated an interest in maintaining informational security with regards to personally identifiable information. I get that, I have a lot of friends who feel the same way due to bad experiences with cyber-stalkers and such.

            Be aware that things like identifying someone whom you communicate with regarding academic topics, combined with your academic areas of interests in other posts, talk about professors, etc, constitute exactly the sort of clues someone so inclined could use to start localizing you.

            I am aware that this is a potential double bind for you since you also want to establish credentials and that you know what you’re talking about, but you should be aware that that is the sort of thing that leads to compromised security more often than not having good enough technical measures.

        • So you might have missed this in the earlier open threads, but bintcchaos is an Islamist and apologist for ISIS [1] [2] [3]

          Interesting if true, since the IS position is not one we get much exposure to, but I don’t think any of your links are sufficient to show more than that she believes herself knowledgeable about Islam and wants to correct our ignorance on the subject. It’s true that she appears especially fond of Ibn Taymiyyah, a medieval thinker popular with both the founder of the current Saudi variant of Sunni Islam and the IS.

          If she is a supporter of IS, she might be able to answer some questions, in particular what the basis is for the claim of the current IS leader to the caliphate. I assume he is, or at least claims to be, Quraysh, but that’s only a necessary condition, not a sufficient one.

          • bintchaos says:

            Baghdadi is Qurayshi, and hafiz ul Quran.
            But there is a lot of internal argument in Islam about the sufficiency conditions.

          • On sufficiency conditions …

            As best I can tell, in theory the requirement is assent of the believers as represented by some group of high status figures but there has never been a precise definition. There is an al-Ma’mun story about that.

            In practice, it was mostly hereditary succession with the incumbent choosing his successor. I don’t think having memorized the Quran was either a necessary or a sufficient condition. Early on there was a view that the caliph had to be learned in the law, but that got dropped for practical reasons.

            Do the ISIS people accept the legitimacy of the standard succession through the Abbasids? Of the Ottoman claim?

        • Jaskologist says:

          I think there’s a 30% chance that bintchaos is Jill/Moon.

          • Loquat says:

            Doubtful – I don’t remember Jill/Moon ever having much to say about Islam, and she was particularly interested in psychology, which I haven’t seen bintchaos bring up at all. So unless Jill had a drastic change of interests and spent the last few months immersing herself in Islamic studies, they are in fact different people.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @Loquat

            There was a moderately-tinfoil theory floating around that Jill/Moon was a peculiarly dedicated troll, or group of trolls, poking to see how much the community can put up with. If that was true, it raises the probability of bintchaos (a good handle for a troll) being the same person.

          • Deiseach says:

            I think there’s a 30% chance that bintchaos is Jill/Moon

            I don’t think so; Jill/Moon struck me as a True Believer (she used to get very upset when challenged on her facts, or what she perceived as and believed to be facts).

            bintchaos seems a lot more relaxed about that, they ignore what they’ve been told to stop doing and they keep on trying to poke and prod a reaction out of people, e.g. in regard to the “ISIS/ISIL apologist” thing, I think they’re not but that it’s in part showing off their knowledge of the “inside baseball” of Islam, in part genuine interest in the situation and an attitude that US/Western intervention has caused a lot of its own problems (and there is definitely something to that) and partly trying to goad someone on here to come out with NUKE ‘EM TILL THE SAND GLOWS! so they can then trill about how this proves we’re all conservatives and conservatism is an non-viable ideology yadda yadda yadda Carthago delenda est.

            I get the feeling that David Friedman is lecturing me on something I know more about than he does from a position of authority as a senior white male.

            Male was kind of the operative word here.

            See the attempt here to get a row going about sexism, which they also tried with me before (amusing, since it’s interesting to be imputed to be sexist about your own sex).

          • I don’t think Bintchaos can be Jill–the style is too different. I actually wondered if she could be Sidles, but I don’t think that works either.

            Bintchaos is Bintchaos. But that doesn’t answer any of the interesting questions about where her odd approach to the conversation is coming from.

          • Nornagest says:

            If Sidles was capable of changing his posting style this much, he would have done it one of the half-dozen times he got banned. And yeah, Jill had different buttons to push.

            Jim is a more interesting theory, but I don’t think Jim understands millennial-flavored progressivism (or any other kind) well enough to convincingly fake it.

          • rlms says:

            I think it is most likely that bintchaos is a newcomer, say 80%, with the remaining 20% divided in decreasing amounts between Sidles, some other commenter, Jim, Moonjill. The posting style is different to Sidles’, but I think he could’ve changed if he’d wanted to. I can’t see Jim being able to pass the ITT regarding Islam this well, and I don’t think Moonjill would be deceptive like this. My headcanon is that bintchaos and Sidles are friends, and he has passed the baton of being SSC’s token confusing left-wing commenter onto her.

          • Nornagest says:

            To be fair, bintchaos hasn’t passed the ITT for Islam to me. She likes to bust out Arabic words, but that might just make her the Arabic equivalent of a weeaboo; I’ve never seen her pinned down to any kind of explanation of them.

            But David Friedman seems to think she’s worth talking to on the subject, and he knows a lot more about Islam than I do, so I’ll defer to his judgment here.

          • psmith says:

            If a sockpuppet/alt, I think Tekhno.

            IIRC and incidentally, there were some fly-by-nights who bore a pretty strong resemblance to bintchaos.

          • Tekhno says:

            @psmith

            I’ve been itching to argue against the extremely vague theory on the fitness of conservatism bintchaos has been pushing, but since my computer was down, I had to wait for others to finally pick up on it. I’m occasionally anti-conservative (that was more just signalling/appeasement to try and balance things out – but I mostly stopped that when the survey results came out showing how balanced SSC is on the political spectrum across users, destroying the SSC is right wing narrative), but not like this. I have no idea whether conservatism is unfit or not, and I’ve always been suspsicious of the “wait for them to die off lol” narrative. It could be that conservatism as understood today is doomed (I hope so), but some other ideology of the right will replace it due to age demographic shifts (I hope so), and I honestly think some on the left might rue the death of conservatism if it happens.

            The biggest annoyance about bintchaos’ posts is how he/she keeps implying that figures like Sam Harris are either “conservatives” or in some way responsible for creationism and climate change denial, which ties into his/her implicit belief that SSC is responsible for these same things.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Tehkno
            ;;sigh;;
            I came here because of UNSONG and also someone linked me the Eternal Struggle post. Both of which are purely brilliant. I read Arlie Hoschild’s book Strangers in Their Own Land and thought maybe I could scale the “empathy wall on conservatism” in my own cohort of education and IQ. I’m pretty bad at that part as it turns out, but through no fault of SSC.

            The biggest annoyance about bintchaos’ posts is how he/she keeps implying that figures like Sam Harris are either “conservatives” or in some way responsible for creationism and climate change denial, which ties into his/her implicit belief that SSC is responsible for these same things.


            ?? SSC has no responsibility for low information voter beliefs. How do you make that connection?
            But I do absolutely despise Harris and Dawkins, at least in their current instantiations, probably Dawkins more than Harris because he’s a lot smarter and should know better.
            I see them as cheaters, defectors from ScienceTribe. Dawkins wrote a chapter in JMS EGT book. And all Harris does anymore is flog anti-Islam propaganda and muslim hysteria.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Bintchaos – “I’m pretty bad at that part as it turns out, but through no fault of SSC.”

            Eh, we’re a prickly lot. There’s a weird way of talking here that everyone is used to, and people who don’t use it really stick out and tend to get hammered for it, and the hammering gets everyone annoyed… If you decide to hang around, you’ll figure it out. It’s not that complicated, I don’t think.

            “I see them as cheaters, defectors from ScienceTribe.”

            Over Islam, or something else? And why are they defectors for going after Islam? They went after Christianity pretty hard back in the day, and everyone seemed fine with that.

            @Everyone else – this thing, where new posters come in, don’t fit the norms, and get dogpiled, is… offputting. It doesn’t work, either. It didn’t work with Jill, Sidles, or Jim. It’s rude, and worse it’s ineffective. We’ve done it enough times that this should be obvious to everyone in this thread, and I *know* y’all are smart enough to generate alternatives.

          • bintchaos says:

            Dawkins wrote a chapter in John Maynard-Smith “Evolution and the Theory of Games”. He and Harris both full-well understood evo bio and evolutionary theories of culture and religion.
            But at this point they have monetized Islam bashing to draw christians to their side of the battle.
            For Dawkins, as a militant atheist, a significant percentage of christians become atheists so its a recruitment potential. Muslims dont become atheists, hardly ever.
            He suspects Islam is a CSS that has superior fitness to christianity, and he knows atheism has a really high selection gate. He understands cultural transmission and replication.
            I think they are both afraid of the transmissablity of Islam. So scaremongering is their only defense. They are defectors.

            I also hate cheaters. The Sad Puppies cheated to force their choices onto the ballot. I will NEVER read any of their sanctioned authors.
            Probably not the desired effect.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Bintchaos – “Dawkins wrote a chapter in John Maynard-Smith “Evolution and the Theory of Games”. He and Harris both full-well understood evo bio and evolutionary theories of culture and religion.”

            I think I understand what this means. Generally, culture and religion help encourage stability and prosperity up to a point, right? If not, please elaborate?

            “But at this point they have monetized Islam bashing to draw christians to their side of the battle.”

            …Why shouldn’t they? We Christians have more or less given up on cultural dominance as a lost cause, and not actually useful to our values in any case, and are generally pretty okay about living in the sort of world Team Science claims to want to build. We don’t generally stab, shoot, or explode people for the glory of God with any great frequency. If we’re willing to give up on enforcing our rules through law, why shouldn’t Team Science make allies out of us? Especially when Islam is not nearly so accommodating, and does seem to be on the rise?

            “For Dawkins, as a militant atheist, a significant percentage of christians become atheists so its a recruitment potential. Muslims dont become atheists, hardly ever. He suspects Islam is a CSS that has superior fitness to christianity, and he knows atheism has a really high selection gate. He understands cultural transmission and replication. I think they are both afraid of the transmissablity of Islam.”

            …All of this seems like excellent reasons to do exactly what they’re doing.

            “So scaremongering is their only defense.”

            If Muslims don’t convert to atheism, and if Islam is memetically superior to Christianity and possibly to Atheism itself, how is Islam not a serious threat that should be fought tooth and nail, from the Team Science perspective?

            “They are defectors.”

            What makes them defectors? What value does Islam offer to Team Science?

            “I also hate cheaters. The Sad Puppies cheated to force their choices onto the ballot.”

            I’m pretty sure they played exactly by the rules as written. If they hadn’t, their plan wouldn’t have succeeded. Can you point out a specific rule that they broke?

            “I will NEVER read any of their sanctioned authors.”

            Would you have read any of their authors anyway? If not, why should they care?

          • Very Interesting says:

            Don’t think bintchaos is Jill/Moon or a Sidles alt, but I’m pretty darn sure she posts as wenjie on Steve Hsu’s blog. The Steve Hsu approach is to just ignore her. That’s what I do on here as well as on Hsu’s blog. At best she adds nothing to the discussion but at worst she’s just kind of annoying. Pretty harmless, in my opinion.

            Whether or not they’re the same person, I suspect they both know very, very little about whatever they suggest they have knowledge on and have really just picked up the buzzwords related to certain topics. I haven’t seen any indication that she has any kind of mathematical sophistication or knowledge on complexity theory (she claims to be familiar with the latter), but who knows.

          • bintchaos says:

            Do I know you? I don’t recall seeing you as an SSC commenter here over the last 3 months.
            But thank you for your input into the socio-lab.
            I think I’m arriving at some hypotheses about what separates liberals from conservatives.
            One is the end justifies the means for conservatives.
            Like Dr. Hsu, I’m not a climate science major, but here is a guy who is that illustrates my hypoth from Dr. Hsu blog.

            Matthew Cooper steve hsu • 13 days ago
            I had to google Koonin. Once I did I realized I am somewhat familiar with him. He strikes me as someone with an axe to grind, but i think a red team analysis would be good. Anything that adds knowledge and advances the science is good. My main criticism would be it might be a misdirected use of time and energy. Second, to a large degree the whole idea is exactly what the scientific literature already does. If Koonin can use theory or data to refute the consensus findings, he’s more than welcome to publish them in a scientific journal. Are you familiar with Richard Mullers work at Berkeley Earth? In many ways, this was a red team blue team exercise for the observed temperature trend. Muller is a brilliant physicist with a history of climate skepticism. He published a controversial theory about glacial / interglacial cycles years ago, and expressed great skepticism about anthropogenic warning. So, the Koch brothers funded him to put the temperature data to the test. Much to their surprise, his work baluster the consensus climate science findings. Muller continues to express great skepticism about the future impacts especially the claims is stronger storms, floods, droughts. Notably, he stays away from anything tied directly to temperature, such as ocean expansion (which accounts for the majority of sea level rise), melting glaciers, and decreased snow accumulation. Instead he focuses on the impacts tied to precipitation, which are the most uncertain and thus much easier to poke at. Nevertheless, I think it’s a brilliant example of the red team blue team idea that we can already look at. I think repeating it, but for future predictions based on models, would be great. I’d organize it in much the same way. Provide independent funding to whomever Koonin wishes, funding that doesn’t come from the federal government, and make the whole thing transparent. Publish it in open access journals and make the data publicly available, including all code. This is how Berkeley Earth did it. You can download all their code and double check it for yourself. The sticky part I imagine would be the peer review. Deniers would claim the peer reviewers are corrupt if they didn’t allow results to be published that are scientifically bogus.

            I count myself as very conservative on this topic. I think what is most needed is stronger collaboration with the statistics community. Over the years, rigorous statisticians have chimed in and often corrected many mistakes made by less rigorous climate scientists. See the debate about Michael Mann’s hockey stick chart, for example. In most cases, while these analyses have exposed problems with climate science methodology, they end up improving the science because the methods are more rigorous and come to the same conclusion, albeit with a greater acknowledgement of the uncertainty. I think this is a real issue that you raise, we need to be more transparent about the uncertainties. That way other scientists from the social and economic fields have better uncertainties to work with to assess how problematic the issue is. It’s that arena that gets people emotional, like some other posters here. Once people start talking about communism, taxes, jobs, you know they are no longer actually talking about climate science! That stuff is so much more important, which is why people get so emotional. I guess it’s only natural to attack the scientists, so if a red team blue team exercise would calm down the rhetoric then I think it would be fantastic.


            It doesnt matter to conservatives that the Kochs are funding climate denialism for their own reasons.

            approach is to just ignore her. That’s what I do on here as well as on Hsu’s blog.


            Be my guest. After all…everyone tells lies about everyone else on the internet, don’t they?

          • Whether or not they’re the same person, I suspect they both know very, very little about whatever they suggest they have knowledge on and have really just picked up the buzzwords related to certain topics.

            I’ve been trying to figure out whether that is the case with regard to Islam. She clearly has some knowledge about the current jihadist movement. But beyond that, she either doesn’t know or doesn’t feel like engaging.

            One of the major issues for making sense of the legal history is whether the hadith are real or whether all or almost all are later forgeries, as Schacht and some others argued. When I tried to get her view on that, her response was that it was an Islamist argument, with the implication that it was therefor of no interest. That might make sense if she is herself a Muslim but she has pretty clearly implied that she isn’t, so should be happy to look at questions about Islam from outside as well as inside the belief system.

            On the whole I find the puzzle of her–what her actual belief system is, what she does or doesn’t know–more interesting than arguments about how conservatism will do in this century and why.

          • Nornagest says:

            this thing, where new posters come in, don’t fit the norms, and get dogpiled, is… offputting. It doesn’t work, either. It didn’t work with Jill, Sidles, or Jim

            That’s not what happened with any of those people. Jill, Sidles, and Jim didn’t get pushback and eventual bans because they were new and didn’t talk in the register we like (Jim in particular was one of the first people here, but all three stayed around more than long enough to learn the ropes). They got it because they didn’t engage with others, preferring to treat any faint hint of interest as an invitation to hold forth on their various hobbyhorses: Jim’s charming reactionary views, Jill’s naive progressivism, and Sidles’… uh, “empathy-centric cognition blah blah blah the world wonders”. Prove them wrong and they’d move on without acknowledgement, then return to saying exactly the same stuff in the next thread.

            That is unacceptable. I’m willing to listen to just about anyone as long as they give some evidence of listening to me, but if you can’t get your head out of your ass long enough to notice that the person you’re talking to might have a point, you don’t belong here. We can all watch Jon Stewart or listen to Rush Limbaugh or just browse our Facebook feeds if for some reason we want that shit; the “autopilot recitation of talking points” niche is very thoroughly filled.

            Plenty of new contributors show up and don’t have any trouble with this, whatever their style looks like.

          • bintchaos says:

            @DavidFriedman

            When I tried to get her view on that, her response was that it was an Islamist Orientalist argument, with the implication that it was therefor of no interest.

            fixed that.
            I’m just not interested in Orientalism tyvm.
            I’m interested in what adherents (al mumineen, the believers) think about their own religion.

            “All knowledge that is about human society, and not about the natural world, is historical knowledge, and therefore rests upon judgment and interpretation. This is not to say that facts or data are nonexistent, but that facts get their importance from what is made of them in interpretation… for interpretations depend very much on who the interpreter is, who he or she is addressing, what his or her purpose is, at what historical moment the interpretation takes place.”
            ― Edward Said

          • After all…everyone tells lies about everyone else on the internet, don’t they?

            No, they don’t.

          • Very Interesting says:

            @bintchaos

            No, you don’t know me. I think I’ve posted once before to give suggestions on foreign language learning. I’ll take your non-denial as admission of being wenjie.

            My gut says you chose “wenjie” to post on Hsu’s blog because you thought a Mandarin disqus name would be useful for posting on a blog written by a man with a surname of Hsu (presumably a Wade-Giles romanization of Xu 许, though I never learned Wade-Giles). I don’t know the rules on posting in different languages here, but if you are indeed wenjie and you speak Chinese, feel free to reply in Chinese (Mandarin) – I speak it.

            Your knowledge of Islam comes off as superficial to me and I doubt you know anything about complexity theory beyond what you’ve read on wikipedia and popular science articles. I’m far from an expert on Islam, but my math skills/knowledge are a little better than average. So, please feel free to demonstrate your knowledge in the math domain. If your knowledge is beyond my comprehension, I’m certain others here can weigh in.

            I suggest these things because I think they’d help your case (of being authentic, sincere, and knowledgeable in what you’re discussing). Maybe you are being sincere and you’re knowledgeable about various topics you suggest you are, but it doesn’t seem so from the way you express yourself. It also doesn’t help when your replies fly off into wild tangents. What does the difference between conservatives and liberals have to do with my comment?

          • Qays says:

            @DavidFriedman

            It doesn’t really matter if the hadith are real or forgeries. Some are probably real, some are certainly forgeries, but the notion that it’s possible to tell with any precision which are which using traditional techniques of verification is a legal fiction, as is the notion that individual hadith are accepted or rejected according to their authenticity rather than their content.

            The hadith corpus is a body of precedents that can be individually adopted or dismissed using the language of content-neutral transmission analysis to obscure the reality that you’re actually adopting or dismissing them depending on whether or not they support the stance you’re attempting to argue for.

          • Deiseach says:

            The biggest annoyance about bintchaos’ posts is how he/she keeps implying that figures like Sam Harris are either “conservatives” or in some way responsible for creationism and climate change denial, which ties into his/her implicit belief that SSC is responsible for these same things.

            To borrow a term from bintchaos’ apparently favourite Islamic theologian/philosopher, al-Ghazali, bintchaos is an incoherent philosopher 🙂 They lambaste the perceived atheist defectors for not educating their base on climate change and creationism, yet happily use approvingly as (it would seem) some kind of ecumenical thinker a Persian scholar who would oppose and abhor atheist science, someone who seems to have conceived of the Absolute Sovereignty of God in a fashion that even Calvin might have thought “Steady on there!” (I don’t know his opinion on predestination but I think he might have been favourable to the notion).

          • Deiseach says:

            I also hate cheaters. The Sad Puppies cheated to force their choices onto the ballot.

            The Sad Puppies used an exploit that was already in place so the existing Hugo/Worldcon committees could get their favourites onto the ballot and make sure the ‘right’ guy won. Larry Correia had been pointing out for years that the voting slate was open to abuse, he was told that he was imagining things and nothing like this could or did ever happen, so he set out to create a slate in exactly the way he said could be done.

            And he did.

            And there was much outrage and yelling of cheats and cheaters, and mobilisation to vote against the Puppy slate. Just like Correia said could be done.

            Now the PC crowd have decided to make sure this can never happen again – just a pity they weren’t as concerned about possible abuses when their favoured candidates were winning.

            As for you not reading the Sad Puppy authors, that’s fair enough. I don’t read the Hugo winners anymore myself because I find that PC side of the fence generally boring and bad writers, too 🙂

            I am angry that politics got involved in all this but I have to admit, it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I thought that the Hugos were open to all SF fans to vote on but nope, turns on they’re the property of WorldCon and only people with paid-up memberships can vote for them. As to all the SF writers and otherwise involved who then went “But didn’t you know this?”, no, for years whenever I heard about the Hugos, I heard them pitched as “the people’s choice”, “what the fans – like you – think are the best” and so on, as if they were a representative sample of all SF fandom and not just “the few Americans who go to WorldCon and can vote”.

            But as I said, for years now I’ve been not following the Hugo winners because they’re just not my cup of tea.

          • bintchaos says:

            @facelesscraven
            Sorry for the late reply, but I had a time-out for saying mean things.
            Re: Dawkins and Harris. No, ScienceTribe should not form an alliance with western civ. Thats my opinion, it is not Dawkins and Harris opinion. I doubt their “enemy of my enemy” approach will deliver the desired results, however.

            If they hadn’t, their plan wouldn’t have succeeded.

            So…what was their plan? If it was to piss off the committee and the regular members (easily thwarted by the simple device of No Award) and ensure that none of us would read Correia in a hundred thousand years, yeah, fine, that worked out great.

            @very interesting
            wow…Wenjie comes from 3bodyproblem by Cixin Liu…I guess it will be more recognizable next year when the movie comes out. She’s the girl that “pushed the button”. Its pinned on my TL. Encapsulates my feelings right now.
            I have been internet stalked before, and in RL and its unpleasant. I keep my academic and family life private as possible from my internet persona. Dr. “Alexander” does too– its only good internet hygiene.
            If you read my blog I wrote about sandpile collapse in MENA a year before the Nautilus article came out. Nuff said.
            My thought process is just naturally tangential. I do not actually think I’m very “smart”, just really good at pattern recognition. I’m trying to be a principled SSC commenter here and conform to SSC protocols and standards.

            Doesnt always work.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Deiseach
            Actually Ibn Taymiyya is my favorite islamic scholar, as I explained to David Friedman above.
            Ibn Taymiyya once called Ghazali a promiscuous thinker over Ghazali’s incorporation of heretical christian ideas. The Incoherence of the Philosophers (which I have read) was a rejection of the incorporation of the ancient greeks into current Islamic thought. Do you honestly think religions aren’t complex adaptive systems?
            yes, dihliz means a threshold where in theory one could have a neutral discussion of opposing views–being neither in out or out of the room…like what Dr. S is attempting to create at SSC.

            The Sad Puppies used an exploit that was already in place


            yes, the estimable tactic of poll swarming. More validation of the ends justifying the means for conservatives. Or as Pascal Boyer puts it in Religion Explained, extremists burning the the middle ground to force moderates to choose a camp.
            Why do conservatives consistently believe they are being kept out of culture and academe by liberal conspiracies? It hasn’t occurred to you yet that your film, your ideology, your literature and your comedy just aren’t as competitive as in the open marketplace as you think they are?
            That would be the simplest explanation– survival of the fittest.
            Interestingly I WAS a weeaboo in high school when I started taking Japanese…I think I’m somewhat permeable to other cultures, which would be consistent with Explorer phenotype. We listened to J-pop and watched animes. hahaha, LMC and Genki Rockets. Takes me back.

          • Very Interesting says:

            I have been internet stalked before, and in RL and its unpleasant. I keep my academic and family life private as possible from my internet persona. Dr. “Alexander” does too– its only good internet hygiene.
            If you read my blog I wrote about sandpile collapse in MENA a year before the Nautilus article came out. Nuff said.

            I agree, that is good internet hygiene. I don’t expect anyone to reveal their personal identity against their will. My point was, it seems like you misrepresent yourself and your knowledge. I find it Very Interesting that you chose a Chinese name to post under at Hsu’s blog and here you post as BINTchaos and express some unconventional opinions on Islam. Honestly, it seems like you just read a lot of wikipedia articles, blogs, and popular science articles. I had that opinion of wenjie before you came here as bintchaos.

            My pattern recognition is pretty good, too. Your style of writing is unique and I immediately suspected that bintchaos and wenjie were one in the same (who needs machine learning to detect posters using different handles?). When you started criticizing Hsu and posting links to his blogs it was obvious to me that my suspicion was correct. You seemed to have an infatuation with Hsu until his more recent posts on liberals, after which you seemed to do a 180. If you’re so easy offended, you’re going to have a hard time here.

            I didn’t know you had a blog. Honestly, I probably won’t read it.

          • The hadith corpus is a body of precedents that can be individually adopted or dismissed using the language of content-neutral transmission analysis to obscure the reality that you’re actually adopting or dismissing them depending on whether or not they support the stance you’re attempting to argue for.

            That is the implication of Schacht’s argument, not just for current law but for the whole history. The question is whether it’s true. Supporters of the traditional view would claim that the elaborate scholarship around hadith and their isnads is sufficiently reliable so that legal conclusions can be based on it.

            Everyone, of course, agrees that lots of hadith are bogus. The question is whether the standard collections of authenticated ones contain mostly ones that are genuine, as Islamic legists have long claimed.

            I don’t know enough about the evidence to have a confident opinion, although the fact that Hallaq, while attacking Schacht, adopts a position actually not that far from his, makes me suspect that the Schacht view is reasonably close to correct.

          • Qays says:

            @Deiseach

            Again, don’t be so sure al-Ghazali was opposed to “atheist” science. He explicitly excludes math, logic, physics, and astronomy from his criticism of philosophy: his bone of contention is with Greek metaphysics, not with science or rationality, and he criticizes Greek metaphysics in part for being not scientific or rational enough.

            @DavidFriedman

            Hadith traditionalists will make the argument you describe (that the elaborate scholarship is sufficiently reliable so that legal conclusions can be based on it), and this argument is one possible orthodox stance at Islamic law. But it’s sort of like the American strict constructionist argument about the Constitution, whereby even those scholars who insist that they’re going by the literal text of the Constitution as it would have been intended by the Founders wind up issuing opinions that contradict what the Founders probably intended on a not irregular basis.

            What actually matters isn’t whether the hadith are “genuine” in the sense of historically accurate representations of what Muhammad actually said or did, but that they’re “genuine” in the sense that they’ve been used as binding precedents by generations of scholars and so have to be taken seriously, even if you wind up finding a reason to dismiss them. If you read works of classical fiqh you’ll find that scholars of all four madhhabs are perfectly willing to dismiss hadith for purely ad hoc reasons – be it by direct matn criticism (“this hadith has a perfectly sound isnad, but it must nevertheless be invalid because its content makes no logical sense/is historically anachronistic/etc”), by finding a way to call into question a link in the isnad, or by simple handwaving (“the hadith is authentic, but circumstances have changed and now the public interest demands we set it aside”).

            Hallaq’s criticism of Schacht, as I understand it, isn’t that the traditional hadith sciences are so elaborate that they couldn’t possibly have gotten all that stuff wrong, but rather that the historical verifiability of a given hadith doesn’t really matter for the purposes of the law, since jurists have always been perfectly willing and able to reassess the authenticity of hadith when it becomes intellectually necessary for them to do so, and that so few hadith are classified as mutawatir in the first place (a tiny minority of the hadith present in the canonical collections).

            I’d recommend Behnam Sadeghi’s “The Logic of Lawmaking in Islam” if you want to see where the post-Schacht consensus is trending these days.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            ” I thought that the Hugos were open to all SF fans to vote on but nope, turns on they’re the property of WorldCon and only people with paid-up memberships can vote for them. ”

            For what it’s worth, the most common mistake about the Hugos seemed to be believing that it was a juried award with no input from fans.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Bintchaos – “Sorry for the late reply, but I had a time-out for saying mean things.”

            Eh? Well, for the record, you can say whatever mean things you like about me. I won’t particularly mind.

            “Re: Dawkins and Harris. No, ScienceTribe should not form an alliance with western civ.”

            Who should ScienceTribe form an alliance with? Islam?

            “Thats my opinion, it is not Dawkins and Harris opinion. I doubt their “enemy of my enemy” approach will deliver the desired results, however.”

            Sure, and fair enough, but surely this is a pretty heterodox view for “ScienceTribe”? You were saying that Dawkins and Harris have betrayed science tribe, but how does that work when they’re doing exactly what they’ve always done: vociferously attacking religious belief?
            You can believe that the best tactic for ScienceTribe moving forward is to ally with Islam, but ScienceTribe, as I understand it, has been hostile to ALL religion from the start. If you’re pro-religion, any religion, isn’t it you whose good standing in ScienceTribe should be suspect, not them?

            Obviously, none of this means you’re wrong and Harris and Dawkins are right; that’s a completely seperate discussion. I’m just talking about what the sides are in the first place.

            “So…what was their plan? If it was to piss off the committee and the regular members (easily thwarted by the simple device of No Award) and ensure that none of us would read Correia in a hundred thousand years, yeah, fine, that worked out great.”

            Again, none of you were reading Correia in a hundred thousand years anyway, so no loss to Correia. Correia’s plan was to expose the realities of the Hugo vote, to prove that the award was rotten due to rampant politicing and slate-voting, to challenge the dominant clique’s control over the award, to rouse a rabble on the right, and to get famous in Red Tribe. He succeeded more or less completely on all four goals. Getting Blue-Tribe types to read his books was never a viable option; they’d been treating him and others like him like garbage from the start.

            Ditto for Vox Day, whose goal was to destroy the award’s credibility, and gain fame among Red Tribers thereby. And that worked pretty well too.

          • bintchaos says:

            ScienceTribe shouldn’t make alliances with ANY socio-religious or political ideology. Those things are transients.

            Again, none of you were reading Correia in a hundred thousand years anyway, so no loss to Correia


            I might have read him. Now I never will.
            heres my response to Nornagast. Pretty much says it all.

            @Nornagast

            ‘Round where I come from, we call that voting.

            ‘Round hyeerr, on the other side of the (apparently unscalable ) empathy wall, we call that dirty tricks.
            Think about it terms of payoff with the basic but useful iterated TfT.
            In the iterated TfT optimal strategy is Saint v Saint. But optimal game move is copy other player strategy.
            The Sad Puppies went Sinner v Saint. So the academy and voting members copied their strat.
            Now its a Sinner v Sinner TfT, and no one wins.
            The awards committee changed the rules so it can never happen again, and thousands of hardcore scifi otaku (like moi) will never give Correia a fair shot.
            gratz, conservatives.


            Again, your defense is the Ann Coulter “liberals gave us no other choice” defense, part of BigLiberal Conspiracy Theory, so obviously endemic among conservatives.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Qays
            That is where the Sunni concept of the “uncreated, revealed Quran” comes into play. If the Quran actually contains every possible variation of every law ever required for human welfare in every frame of spacetime for all of eternity, it has to be in some sort of compressed code that can be released/validated by islamic scholarship and study. That code is arabic, thus the “seven thousand layers of meaning”, and the injunctions against translation.

          • Deiseach says:

            Don’t think bintchaos is Jill/Moon or a Sidles alt, but I’m pretty darn sure she posts as wenjie on Steve Hsu’s blog.

            So as well as affecting Arabic culture, they do the same for Chinese over on another blog? Isn’t that cultural appropriation which their side (liberals not conservatives) do not approve of, unless they claim to be biracial Chinese and Arab?

            I think the trouble is that they do have a broad but shallow knowledge of the topics they like to mention, but did not anticipate meeting anyone on here with actual and deeper knowledge of the matters at hand – underestimating the enemy, as it were: how smart could we dumb Red Tribe conservatives be, after all? Easy to drop in, dazzle us with their sophisticated and cosmopolitan university-educated intellect, and leave us all shaking our fists in baffled and ignorant fury.

            Not quite working out like that, since we do have a few university-educated persons on here ourselves 🙂

          • Nornagest says:

            ‘Round hyeerr, on the other side of the (apparently unscalable ) empathy wall, we call that dirty tricks.
            [IPD stuff]
            gratz, conservatives.

            Look, I don’t have a dog in this fight; I’ve read a fair amount of SF but I’m not involved in the SF fan scene and don’t care who its awards go to. I didn’t follow the Puppies debacle closely (though I’ve absorbed a fair bit of it through osmosis) because — although I’m certainly no fan of capital-S capital-J Social Justice — it looked to me like stupid fan drama. I still think so.

            But from an outsider perspective, I find Deiseach or John Schilling’s takes on it a hell of a lot more persuasive than yours. The Puppies believed there was a segment of the fanbase that wasn’t being represented by the Hugos, so they got that segment voting and got themselves represented. This wouldn’t have worked if they weren’t playing by the rules. When it did work, suddenly everyone that was being served by the status quo complains about “dirty tricks”. And that’s all they’ve got. No attempt at a solution, nothing about the split in the fanbase, unless it’s to whine about conservatism ruining everything. Do you understand how unimpressive this looks from the outside?

            Also, I’m quite familiar with the iterated prisoner’s dilemma. Its strategic space is way broader than you’re suggesting, and there’s a whole body of ideas on when and how to forgive defection within it; reducing it to a simplistic sinners-and-saints narrative makes me think your knowledge of the subject is very shallow.

          • But it’s sort of like the American strict constructionist argument about the Constitution,

            I actually use the constitutional context in explaining what I understand to be the difference between Sharia and Fiqh. Constitutional law for a lawyer or conlaw professor is defined by past rulings of the Supreme Court. Constitutional law for a Supreme Court justice is what those rulings ought to be, deduced from his view of what the Constitution means and how it should be interpreted. Similarly, Fiqh is what the legal scholars have deduced from their sources, Sharia is what they should have deduced–law, as it were, in the mind of God.

            What actually matters isn’t whether the hadith are “genuine” in the sense of historically accurate representations of what Muhammad actually said or did, but that they’re “genuine” in the sense that they’ve been used as binding precedents by generations of scholars and so have to be taken seriously, even if you wind up finding a reason to dismiss them.

            That may be what matters if you want to predict the result of a law case. But if you want to understand how legal systems work it matters how Islamic law came into existence, and there are at least two quite different accounts out there. Consider the relevance for the issue of to what degree founding documents can constrain the law.

            Hallaq’s criticism of Schacht, as I understand it, isn’t that the traditional hadith sciences are so elaborate that they couldn’t possibly have gotten all that stuff wrong, but rather that the historical verifiability of a given hadith doesn’t really matter for the purposes of the law

            He may make that argument, but what I got from reading him was the claim that a few hadith really go back more or less as far as they claim, but only a few.

            Is there any chance I can interest you in reading my chapter on Islamic law and telling me what things you think I got wrong? The book draft is webbed.

          • Nornagest says:

            @Qays —

            Taking a break from this obnoxious little spat, I just wanted to say that your posts are very interesting and I’m looking forward to reading more of them.

          • Qays says:

            @Nornagest

            Much appreciated. SSC is one of the best places on the internet as far as I’m concerned, so I’m happy to contribute what I can.

            @DavidFriedman

            I think your shari‘a/fiqh analogy is pretty good, though I’d caution you that in practice shari‘a is often used in classical legal texts to refer to what “should” be called fiqh.

            I’m not sure the distinction between “genuine” prophetic hadith and pre-Islamic Arabian or Roman or whatever law that’s been incorporated into and legitimized by the hadith corpus really matters from the perspective of a practitioner of the law. Or at least, it doesn’t matter for the purposes of the current of Islamic law that’s historically been the most important. A precedent is a precedent, whether it’s passed down by way of the hadith corpus or by way of the madhhab’s own canon (and in many cases it’s easier to circumvent a prophetic hadith than an opinion from, say, the founder of the school).

            The exception is the Hanbali madhhab, which is basically the legal exclave of the “hadith folk,” and which treats the hadith corpus with great reverence and is extremely reluctant to discard “authentic” hadith for any reason. But this isn’t really true of the three major madhhabs. The Hanafi and Maliki madhhabs in particular predate al-Shafi‘i’s synthesis of hadith studies and fiqh, and their methodologies therefore hark back to the period when hadith study was not considered integral to the law. Both have a tendency to employ the hadith corpus as a toolbox for building legal opinions rather than as a singularly productive way of divining the “true shari‘a” (with the Hanafis preferring syllogistic reasoning to hadith scholarship to this end and the Malikis preferring their own variety of pseudo-hadith from Malik and his companions in Madina). The Shafi‘is are intermediate in this respect – they show more reverence for the hadith corpus than the Hanafis or Malikis, but are also more tolerant of qiyas than the Hanbalis.

            So I think in actuality it doesn’t really matter where the hadith corpus comes from, provided we’re talking about a juridical tradition that’s willing to discard “authentic” hadiths as necessary. For the Hanbalis this is a problem, since they treat the outcomes of the traditional hadith sciences as categorically binding (e.g. if a hadith is authentic it is true, period), but not for the other madhhabs.

            And yeah, Hallaq’s main article on hadith basically argues that there are only a handful of mutawatir hadith so the whole debate is sort of a waste of time. Isn’t that a reasonable stance? Treating this tiny sub-corpus as being representative of the prophet’s actual deeds may or may not be historically accurate, but as far as legal fictions go it’s not particularly destabilizing to the integrity of the system. It only becomes a problem when these dubiously-sourced accounts come to constitute a substantial chunk of the legal tradition (as I’d argue they have in the Hanbali madhhab, though Hallaq might disagree with me on that).

            I’ve taken a quick look at your chapter, it overall seems good. A few quibbles:

            On page two you propose the traditional “the scholar starts from the sources and builds a law out of them” framework, but I’d take a look at Sadeghi’s book, because he basically proposes an inverted framework (“the scholar starts with the law he wants to justify and uses the sources to justify it”).

            I think the Hallaqians basically won the argument over the closing of the gates of ijtihad.

            You only list three of the four sources of the law: the fourth, qiyas (syllogistic reasoning), is by some measure the most productive historically (though the Hanbalis claim to not believe in it). There’s also a fourth pseudo-source that exists in at least the Hanafi and Maliki schools: “public utility,” called istihsan by the Hanafis and maslaha by the Malikis, though this may be getting a bit too far into the weeds.

            The key point of disagreement with Schacht among academics isn’t with his claim that the hadith are mostly post-prophetic, but rather with the notion that classical Islamic scholars were treating large numbers of them as apodictic when they weren’t.

            Order the schools Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i, Hanbali.

            What you call siyasa shari‘a is actually siyasa shar‘iyya, and it doesn’t mean the general spirit of the shari‘a but rather “discretionary law.” This is the term for the lawmaking capacity of the ruler that lies outside of the shari‘a proper.

            The case of the Ottoman explosion of siyasa is indeed an interesting one, though I think there are crucial differences between the postcolonial collapse of the traditional legal system and what occurred in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman jurists constituted a powerful arm of the state bureaucracy and had a great deal of political sway – the same is not true of, say, the Islamic legal scholars in French Algeria. The Ottoman jurists were also trained in the classical legal tradition.

            The Ottomans were also far from the first Islamic polity to promote one of the four madhhabs as “first among equals.” In fact, this was the norm throughout Islamic history: the only region where multiple madhhabs coëxisted was Iraq, the Levant, and Egypt. All other regions of the Islamic world have been historically the domain of a single dominant madhhab, and many rulers were much less tolerant of the non-dominant madhhabs than the Ottomans were (for instance, in al-Andalus only Malikis were allowed to become qadis). This sort of thing didn’t really hamper the development or the independence of the various madhhabs. A good book on this is Sherman Jackson’s “The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihab al-Din al-Qarafi,” which examines the thought of an Egyptian Maliki writing at a time when the Mamluk state had attempted to implement policies favoring the Shafi‘i madhhab (I think? might have been the Hanafis).

            With regard to the similarities between Jewish and Islamic law, you might consider looking into the literature on potential Islamic influences on medieval Jewish law – many of the great medieval Jewish jurists, including most notably Maimonides, grew up in an Islamic scholarly milieu.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:

            The Puppies believed there was a segment of the fanbase that wasn’t being represented by the Hugos, so they got that segment voting and got themselves represented.

            First let me preface with the fact that I don’t really have any skin in this game either, as I wasn’ t a follower of the Hugos and, while being in my past a prolific fantasy (and some sci-fi) reader I really wouldn’t know a Hugo from a hole in my head.

            That said, this doesn’t seem like a correct summary. AFAIK:
            1) The Puppies thought that the Hugos had been taken over by (roughly) infidels, and that they needed to restore the awards to the “real” fans, so that “real” sci-fi and fantasy would be awarded.
            2) They didn’t just get more like minded people voting, but engaged in a campaign for a specific book (Correia’s own book) and then a specific slate. That, again AFAIK, is not something people had done before and was seen by many authors as in very poor taste).

          • @DavidFriedman

            I think your shari‘a/fiqh analogy is pretty good, though I’d caution you that in practice shari‘a is often used in classical legal texts to refer to what “should” be called fiqh.

            Hence fn1 in that chapter.

            I’m not sure the distinction between “genuine” prophetic hadith and pre-Islamic Arabian or Roman or whatever law that’s been incorporated into and legitimized by the hadith corpus really matters from the perspective of a practitioner of the law.

            I’m not planning practice Islamic law–or any other law for that matter. I’m interested in how legal systems work, which includes where they come from. So the difference between Schacht’s version and the orthodox version is interesting to me.

            And yeah, Hallaq’s main article on hadith basically argues that there are only a handful of mutawatir hadith so the whole debate is sort of a waste of time. Isn’t that a reasonable stance?

            Very likely–it’s not an issue on which I’m competent to offer an opinion. What struck me as unreasonable was that he seemed to be presenting himself as very much a critic of Schacht while taking a position much closer to Schacht’s than to the traditional view of the matter.

            While on the subject of Hallaq, this old blog post of mine deals with one reason for my reservations about trusting him.

            I’ve taken a quick look at your chapter, it overall seems good. A few quibbles:

            Thanks. Noted. It’s hard to be sure how much detail to go into on a single legal system.

            The key point of disagreement with Schacht among academics isn’t with his claim that the hadith are mostly post-prophetic, but rather with the notion that classical Islamic scholars were treating large numbers of them as apodictic when they weren’t.

            I thought the hadith in the standard collections were generally regarded as valid, having been purged of a much larger number of doubtful ones. Not true?

            The Ottoman jurists constituted a powerful arm of the state bureaucracy and had a great deal of political sway – the same is not true of, say, the Islamic legal scholars in French Algeria. The Ottoman jurists were also trained in the classical legal tradition.

            Part of what is interesting to me in Hallaq’s story is the claim that, in the traditional system, the legists were effectively independent of the state. That was clearly not true in the Ottoman system. Compare the English church before and after Henry VIII. Anglican clerics might be politically influential, but they were influential from within the state not outside it.

            The Ottomans were also far from the first Islamic polity to promote one of the four madhhabs as “first among equals.” In fact, this was the norm throughout Islamic history: the only region where multiple madhhabs coëxisted was Iraq, the Levant, and Egypt. All other regions of the Islamic world have been historically the domain of a single dominant madhhab, and many rulers were much less tolerant of the non-dominant madhhabs than the Ottomans were (for instance, in al-Andalus only Malikis were allowed to become qadis).

            You know this stuff better than I do, but I don’t think that is correct. I’m pretty sure I remember a mention of a non-Maliki chief qadi who was required on certain issues to follow Maliki rules.

            Do you have a good source that goes into some detail on these questions? One of the things that interested me about Islamic law was that it seemed to be a polylegal system. I realize that often one madhab was dominant in an area, as the Maliki in al-Andalus, but I thought permitting only a court of one madhab was relatively uncommon pre-Ottoman.

            Also, do you have a source that goes into some detail on how, when more than one madhab was functioning in an area, cross cases were handled–which court they went to?

            With regard to the similarities between Jewish and Islamic law, you might consider looking into the literature on potential Islamic influences on medieval Jewish law – many of the great medieval Jewish jurists, including most notably Maimonides, grew up in an Islamic scholarly milieu.

            That occurred to me when I came across Maimonides’ comment that the sages recommended no more than four wives. I haven’t checked to see if it is in the Mishnah, and my copy seems to be hiding at the moment.

            In any case, thanks for the comments. I have thanks at the beginning of the book for the people who volunteered to correct some of my errors. If you want to be included, email me with your real name.

            ddfrATDaviddfriedman.com

            And if you are ever in the SF Bay area, perhaps I can invite you over for a medieval Islamic dinner.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @HBC

            Not quite. First, people absolutely had done so before (series of reminder posts on their own and friends’ blogs, links with instructions on how to sign up for Worldcon membership, etc). The distinction, to the extent that there is one, is that in 2013 Correia was much louder and direct about it.

            To be clear, by “louder and more direct” I am not referring to things like suggesting people get Worldcon memberships and so on, or suggesting a specific work. Again, that was already done on a “network of friends” basis (posts on the lines of “My good Buddy Neil Gaiman’s book is up, you guys all like my writing, Neil’s is awesome, so I think he deserves to win this year and you probably will too. Here’s the link to get a membership, thanks!”). He crafted his pitch as an outsider, not to fandom, but to the insular circle or club that he argued controlled the Hugo, and suggested that a vote for his book was a vote in favor of enjoyable, plot-comes-first fiction and against preachy message fiction. He was also suggesting that people should do likewise and saying what he’d liked this year, and encouraging readers in the comments to share their favorites.

            The end result of this was that quite a few people outside the usual overton window of the WorldCon segment of Fandom ended up on the nomination list, though I don’t believe he did. Note his reaction.

            He was also engaging (and still is) in a lot of internet argument over articles like this and responding to lines like:

            “I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories”

            and

            “I want to never again read entire anthologies of SF stories or large-cast novels where every character is binary-gendered.”

            with articles like this and lines like:

            “If humans having 5 or 6 sexes in the future is part of your story, write it. If it isn’t part of the story, why would you waste words on it? Oh, that’s right, because MESSAGE.”

            By the time the 2014 Hugos rolled around, there was already a lot of bad blood, and that was the point at which Larry and friends doubled down, and so did the people pushing back, and it spilled over into general internet awareness.

            As I’ve said before, I think Eric Flint (hardly a rabid right winger) had the best take on it, disagreeing with Correia & Co’s accusations that the Hugo selection was hijacked by people voting on -ideological- grounds (basically pro-left wing and SJW messaging), while agreeing that there has been an increasing gap between what wins awards and that unless you’re GRRM, Lois McMaster Bujold, or Neil Gaiman you can write what wins awards, or what sells, but not both.

            The distinction is that where Correia and company saw malice and hijacking of SF Fandom, Flint sees the gap between Literary and Mainstream. He even made a point to speak in defense of the sad puppies writers in response to some of the nastier accusations being slung around.

          • Qays says:

            @DavidFriedman

            There are two steps to determining the probative value of a hadith. The first is whether it’s sahih (authentic) or da‘if (weak). All, or almost all, of the hadiths collected in the main collections are sahih.

            This is where the second step comes in: a sahih hadith can be ahad (singular) or mutawatir (widespread), according to how many independent narrations can be constructed for it. The exact cutoff point for being considered mutawatir will vary, though three to five+ narrations is common. This is the key distinction, since almost all discussion of the hadith corpus already excludes those deemed weak.

            A sahih ahad hadith has less probative value than a sahih mutawatir hadith. The general formulation is that the knowledge provided by a mutawatir hadith is certain (qat‘i, “cutting”), whereas the knowledge provided by an ahad hadith is speculative or probabilistic (zanni, “theoretical”). There are variances between the schools, with the Hanbalis generally more willing than the others to base their arguments on ahad transmissions, but the classical scholars had in the main already reached the same conclusion that Schacht says they hadn’t: that only a very limited number of transmissions could be treated as totally reliable, and that the rest could only be employed in conjunction with other sources of law in drafting rulings (“good enough for government business,” but not good enough to be the linchpin of your argument if the stakes are at all high).

            The independence of the jurists from the state wasn’t a binary thing. It was pretty common for rulers to appoint not only qadis but muftis as well (various Andalusi rulers, for instance, appointed shura councils consisting of several muftis whom the chief qadi was required to consult). Rulers also founded madrasas to train jurists, just like the Ottomans. Did this mean that the jurists in these societies weren’t independent of the state? Not really, at least in my experience. The jurists had a degree of political independence even if they were the political appointees of the ruler, because the ruler depended on the community of jurists to legitimate his rule and was loathe to upset them, and because jurists were perfectly capable of operating outside of the state if they felt so inclined (since their legitimacy ultimately derived from their ability to convince laypeople to take their rulings seriously, rather than from any official imprimatur) – or at least this was the case before the Ottoman period. I’m not an Ottomanist, so I don’t know what exactly became of the independence of the Ottoman jurists. I’m sure plenty has been written on the subject. But the comparison with an Anglican cleric to me isn’t particularly illustrative, since the idea of an Anglican cleric operating outside of the Anglican church doesn’t make much sense (who’s going to take him seriously?), whereas the idea of a mufti/law professor operating outside of the state university system or the state department of law makes a lot of sense.

            In Egypt and the Levant, where madhhab pluralism was the norm, there evolved a body of rules and conventions governing which “hat,” so to speak, a qadi should wear when adjudicating a given case. A Maliki qadi might be expected to rule as though he were a Hanafi in certain cases. What I was referring to was that these sorts of conventions only arose in societies where there were actually large numbers of jurists belonging to different madhhabs: namely Egypt, the Levant, and Iraq (and possibly pre-Safavid Iran, which is said to have been largely Shafi‘i but which may have had a Hanafi minority). In other regions there was really only one madhhab in town, and scholars who did wind up joining minoritary madhhabs were basically excluded from any sort of higher office (see the case of Ibn Hazm, second founder of the lost Zahiri madhhab and just about the only non-Maliki of any note in the entire history of al-Andalus). The Ottoman Empire’s attempts to strengthen the Hanafi madhhab were if anything much less strict than the policies undertaken by other Muslim states to strengthen their own respective official madhahib.

            I don’t think anyone has really looked holistically at this question of how cross-madhhab cases were handled, since in the mono-madhhab regions it wasn’t really an issue: almost everyone in al-Andalus and North Africa was a Maliki, almost everyone in India and Central Asia was a Hanafi, and that’s just the way things were, the courts weren’t going to go brush up on some obscure (to them) variant of fiqh just because some random guy decides to be a Shafi‘i or whatever. You’re only going to find this developed into a comprehensive doctrine in the central Arabic-speaking regions where there actually were multiple madhhabs on the ground, so it’ll be treated as a feature of Mamluk and Ottoman legal culture more than anything. I think the best place to start looking is probably Sherman Jackson’s book on al-Qarafi.

          • that only a very limited number of transmissions could be treated as totally reliable,

            “Very limited number” as “a dozen or so” or “only a few thousand”?

            I thought that, as a substitute for multiple independent chains for one hadith, it was possible to consider the substance of a hadith certain if there were several different hadith with the same implication. Isn’t that how the basis for consensus was established?

            The independence of the jurists from the state wasn’t a binary thing. It was pretty common for rulers to appoint not only qadis but muftis as well (various Andalusi rulers, for instance, appointed shura councils consisting of several muftis whom the chief qadi was required to consult).

            I had thought that mufti, like the Roman jurisconsult, was a position defined by reputation rather than appointment until the Ottomans. Are you describing anything more than the instructions to the chief qadi of which ones to consult? They were also being consulted by lots of other people, both qadis and litigants, no? Perhaps I am relying too much on Wallaq here.

            Rulers also founded madrasas to train jurists, just like the Ottomans.

            Those, as I understand it, were supported by waqfs and so out of the control of the ruler, even if the endowment had been provided by a previous ruler. Ford Motor Company has no power over the Ford Foundation. The Ottomans ended up seizing the waqfs and so getting control over the funds that supported legists.

            and because jurists were perfectly capable of operating outside of the state if they felt so inclined (since their legitimacy ultimately derived from their ability to convince laypeople to take their rulings seriously, rather than from any official imprimatur) – or at least this was the case before the Ottoman period.

            That, I think, was the point I was making.

            I’m not an Ottomanist, so I don’t know what exactly became of the independence of the Ottoman jurists. I’m sure plenty has been written on the subject. But the comparison with an Anglican cleric to me isn’t particularly illustrative, since the idea of an Anglican cleric operating outside of the Anglican church doesn’t make much sense (who’s going to take him seriously?), whereas the idea of a mufti/law professor operating outside of the state university system or the state department of law makes a lot of sense.

            In Egypt and the Levant, where madhhab pluralism was the norm, there evolved a body of rules and conventions governing which “hat,” so to speak, a qadi should wear when adjudicating a given case. A Maliki qadi might be expected to rule as though he were a Hanafi in certain cases.

            That seems to be the current situation in the KSA.

            I don’t think anyone has really looked holistically at this question of how cross-madhhab cases were handled, since in the mono-madhhab regions it wasn’t really an issue: almost everyone in al-Andalus and North Africa was a Maliki, almost everyone in India and Central Asia was a Hanafi, and that’s just the way things were, the courts weren’t going to go brush up on some obscure (to them) variant of fiqh just because some random guy decides to be a Shafi‘i or whatever. You’re only going to find this developed into a comprehensive doctrine in the central Arabic-speaking regions where there actually were multiple madhhabs on the ground, so it’ll be treated as a feature of Mamluk and Ottoman legal culture more than anything. I think the best place to start looking is probably Sherman Jackson’s book on al-Qarafi.

            Thanks.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Bintchaos – ScienceTribe shouldn’t make alliances with ANY socio-religious or political ideology. Those things are transients.

            So it’s more the allying with Christianity rather than the hostility toward Islam that you’re objecting to? How do you think Harris and Dawkins should be prosecuting their opposition to Islam instead of their current methods?

            “Again, your defense is the Ann Coulter “liberals gave us no other choice” defense, part of BigLiberal Conspiracy Theory, so obviously endemic among conservatives.”

            Well, I used to be a fairly rabid liberal, so I have a fair amount of personal experience with the realities of the actual factual Big Liberal Conspiracy. And based on that personal experience, Coulter is right for a relatively recent timeframe. Social Justice broke the “peace”, or the closest we’ve come in the last decade.

          • Qays says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Hallaq pins the number of mutawatir transmissions at closer to a dozen or so than to a few thousand. In “The authenticity of prophetic hadith” he cites classical sources who claim to have found six to nine total. The distinction you’re referring to is between tawatur lafzi (verbatim concurrence) and tawatur ma‘nawi (concurrence in meaning), but hadith of the latter type were apparently even rarer than those of the former, and in any event not considered to have definitive epistemic weight.

            A mufti is a position defined by reputation rather than by appointment, but in al-Andalus the ruler would appoint certain muftis to a council that judges were required to consult. A qadi was obligated, under this system, to base his ruling in the case on the opinion of at least one of the muftis.

          • Hallaq pins the number of mutawatir transmissions at closer to a dozen or so than to a few thousand.

            That was my impression. It was why I saw his criticism of Schacht as dubious. Schacht says zero, the orthodox literature says thousands, Hallaq says a dozen–which is Hallaq closer to?

            But I gather your view is that he was criticizing Schacht on a different basis.

            but hadith of the latter type were apparently even rarer than those of the former, and in any event not considered to have definitive epistemic weight.

            As I understand it, the claim that the Prophet said his people would never be agreed on an error is based on hadith of that type. And since it is the basis for holding that Ijma provides an additional source of authority, it seems to have very considerable epistemic weight.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          I find it hilarious that “is an ISIS apologist” and “posts comments out of order” are presented as being of equal weight.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            The former is a bigger deal to me but Scott is a really meta guy. If my estimation of him is accurate, having an openly Islamist poster who abides by the blog’s rules is more of a pro than a con in his eyes.

            If bintchaos is banned it will probably be for her persistent and obnoxious violation of forum customs rather than for advocating jihad. Which is fine: a ban is a ban, and either way it means having to scroll past less IS propaganda.

          • The Nybbler says:

            When she first started doing the comments thing, I thought maybe she was Dreaded Jim (who also did that), because her comments about Islam pushed me towards Jim’s way of thinking WAY better than anything Jim ever wrote.

          • bintchaos says:

            I find it baffling.
            Much like my confusion about why USians would rather make up fantasy reasons for IS near-pathological but historically validated hatred of and reasons for attacking US and US interests.
            And NEways there was a big discussion on 7.5 of how I’m just replying in an email link, and some other commenters tried it and it worked just like I described. So if Nabil is expecting the ban hammer to hit me over that, he will be sadly disappointed.

            And I’m a hard sciences type. I’m spectacularly uninterested in psychology, social science and political “science”. My interest in Islam is part of my interest in information theory, evo theory of culture, EGT, chaos, collapse, entropy, CAS, theoretical mathematics, socio-physics and large non-equilibrium systems (what Von Neuman called non-elephants).
            I’m not of any of those other people.

          • random832 says:

            And NEways there was a big discussion on 7.5 of how I’m just replying in an email link, and some other commenters tried it and it worked just like I described. So if Nabil is expecting the ban hammer to hit me over that, he will be sadly disappointed.

            And in 77.25 you were asked to stop using the email reply links and claimed you were “NOT DOING THAT”, and blamed your slow Tor/VPN connection instead.

            The 77.5 subthread you’re referring to where someone confirmed it was a real issue, began with someone asking Bakkot to fix the email links to not do that anymore.

            Regardless of what the cause is, the result is unacceptable (I personally don’t care because I always read comments by searching for the “new” marker, which works fine, but it causes problems for the community) and you have the ability to prevent it.

          • CatCube says:

            To be fair, it seems that she primarily follows the threads through the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” checkbox, and the e-mails generated apparently contain links that place the replies out of order. If she hasn’t been here long enough to get used to how the reply links on the blog work and therefore how conversations flow once they reach the deepest nesting she may not understand why it’s so infuriating to have those replies out of order.

            It’s way easier to follow with the automatic thread collapsing and new comment highlighting, so she may not have the same reaction to the misordering as those of us who have been following since those weren’t things.

          • bintchaos says:

            NOT DOING that was a response to repeated accusations of hacking the URL.
            I didn’t realize I was being ordered to not use the email reply links.

          • CatCube says:

            @random832

            There’s two e-mail reply systems in use on here. One is hosted by Bakkot, but I the other one (that I believe bintchaos is using) I think is WordPress, which we may not be able to affect.

            Edit: Of course this doesn’t excuse not using the links here on the website, now that it’s been brought to her attention.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Catcube
            It is a wordpress thing.
            I’m trying to follow instructions and do what people are telling me now.
            Is this form correct?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @bintchaos:
            Just use the SSC comment site itself to reply (by clicking the reply link on the comment), not anything supplied directly by wordpress.

            At the deepest nesting level there is not a reply like, use the up arrow link to go back to the previous level of comment and click reply there.

          • Deiseach says:

            Sample from their blog:

            the complexity science paradigm of Cooperation Competition seems to be in play here– my thesis is that the between group variance of red and blue phenotypes overwhelms the between group variance on race, and also is greater than the within group variance on red/blue phenotypes.

            we have a fab new toolset: Social Physics, Data Mining, Machine Learning, Social Network Analysis, Complexity Science…
            we should be happy as kings with our new ability to advance the frontiers of science.

            but instead we see screaming and whining from conservative “scientists” abt how they cant speak about old crap science on campus cloaked in the mantle of free speech.

            Bad, outdated science isnt free speech.

            So all the hints they are dropping about their Great Scientific Project mean that they think there really is such a thing as a “red” brain and a “blue” brain (presumably to be demonstrated by MRI scans?) and from this we can extrapolate all manner of things that will eventually lead to us being able to implement social control via SCIENCE!!!!

            (a) Haven’t we heard all this – including the “really scientific scientifically-based psychology, not theory about the psyche, will let us manipulate the brains and minds of the masses to create the perfect society”- before in varoius forms?

            (b) Wot no acknowledgement of Gail Saltz who seems to have laid the foundation for “there are Democrat brains and Republican brains”? A little ungrateful, don’t you think, to be peacocking around about your great idea and not mentioning that you’re copying someone else’s thought? Though Dr Saltz herself plainly owes a debt to Gilbert and Sullivan:

            That Nature always does contrive – Fal lal la!
            That every boy and every gal
            That’s born into the world alive
            Is either a little Liberal
            Or else a little Conservative!

        • JulieK says:

          What I’m wondering is whether it’s cultural appropriation for a person of the wrong ethnicity to call themselves “bint.”
          (…since I missed the chance to ask this about the name “Marsh*yne” [actual name currently banned].)

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            British culture is one of the ones it’s OK to appropriate. And only a bloody wanker would say otherwise.

          • John Schilling says:

            Is “bint”, when not preceded by “moistened”, even a thing in British culture any more?

            It’s originally from Arab culture, as the feminine for “bin” as in “son/daughter of”. Make your own guess about the intent behind “bintchaos” as a pseudonym. Entered British slang during the Colonial era as slang for the sort of Arab daughter likely to be hanging around with British soldiers in the Middle East, so somewhere between affectionate and derogatory depending on context.

            And I think was on its way out when Monty Python adopted it as one of several less-than-complimentary nicknames for the Lady of the Lake. Certainly not much call for it in its original application.

            On the other hand, lobbing scimitars at random peasants so they can call themselves “Emperor” is the sort of thing a Daughter of Chaos might well do, so maybe she did steal it from the Brits rather than the Arabs.

          • Tarpitz says:

            With the usual caveats about age, region, social class, level of irony etc. “bint” is still contemporary British English slang, yes – generally I would say used to mean something like “silly woman”, on an emotional spectrum somewhere between affection and infuriation.

    • Deiseach says:

      conservatives pander on climate science, evolution, and the relative fitness of conservative ideology in the 21st century

      Ah, the Carthago delenda est of every bintchaos comment 🙂

      “What’s your favourite ice cream flavour, readers?”

      “The popularity of chocolate is merely conservative pandering to their base on climate change, evolution, and the maladapativity of conservative ideology!”

      “Opinions amongst my fellow commenters on summer bedding plants?”

      “Gardening is a fakery designed to appeal to the conservative suburban dweller’s fantasies of ancestral estates, in the same way conservatives pander on climate science, evolution, and the chances of their ideology surviving in the 21st century!”

      “My God, the rolling news coverage of the Martian invasion shows shocking scenes of devastation in Seattle; who knew the aliens had such a hatred of coffee?”

      “Plainly this is the invaders pandering to conservatives regarding their hatred of so-called ‘hipster’ views, just like they pander on climate change science, creationism, and the lack of appeal conservative ideology has to modern 21st century urban liberal educated people!”

      • bintchaos says:

        hahaha!
        this is the kind of elegant but exquisitely content-free elocution that SSC is so famous for and I am so woefully bad at.
        When I get my my new Mac-book pro in december I will be able to display the n-dimensional fitness landscape of conservative tendency– until then I bow to you.
        (makes obeisance to Deiseach)

        • CatCube says:

          this is the kind of elegant but exquisitely content-free elocution that SSC is so famous for and I am so woefully bad at.

          Actually, you’re one of the most excellent people at it on here. You just don’t see it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Cat Cube:

            Deiseach is a master at the righteous indignation tilt at weak-man post with a literary flair.

            bintchaos reads significantly different, more “millennial shorthand fill in the gaps with common knowledge”. And they (she?) are changing their posting style quite a bit as we go foward.

      • hlynkacg says:

        hey guys, Deiseach’s channeling Sidles again. Somebody fetch the holy water.

      • Artificirius says:

        There are times when I deeply regret the lack of the thumbs up button.

    • in the Kingdom, where the constitution is the Quran and the consenual rule of law is shariah

      I don’t know if you are using “consenual rule of law” (sp?) to mean something other than the local legal system, but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, although closer to following fiqh than almost any other modern society, does not have a strictly Islamic legal system. Like Israel, although to a lesser degree, it has a hybrid of the traditional and modern systems.

      Simple example: Jinayat. Under fiqh, if you kill someone his kin may have the right of retaliation, depending on the nature of the killing, and if they do not retaliate are entitled to dia, the Islamic wergeld. In addition, the killer is obliged to free a believing slave or fast for two months. That done, it’s over.

      In KSA, he also gets put in jail for ten years or so.

      • bintchaos says:

        umm…witchcraft or sorcery is a tazir punishment, and yes its a beheading. There have been several since 2010.
        Are you now talking about qisas punishments?
        Qisas is very big with IS– I have been told that they consider themselves the Wali of the ummah.
        Consensual rule of law is from evo theory of culture. Its the rule of law imposed by the consent of the governed.

        This is boring– all you guys seem to have is armies of dragon’s teeth straw men and handfuls of radar chaff.

        • I wasn’t referring to either Tazir or witchcraft. I was responding to your claim that the consensual rule of law in KSA was Shariah, and offering an example to the contrary.

          The example involved Jinayat, not Tazir. Qisas is a right under Jinayat but not the whole of it.

          • bintchaos says:

            Okfine…now I’m really confused…are you saying that tazir and jinayat aren’t shariah compliant?

          • On the contrary. I am saying that the current treatment of killing in the law of the KSA is not consistent with fiqh, since it adds to the jinayat punishment a term of state imprisonment.

            Hence it is not true that the legal system of the KSA is Shariah, although it’s more nearly true than for almost any other modern Islamic state.

            You keep referring to Shariah. Does that mean you take the view that “Shariah”, rather than “fiqh”, is the proper label for actual Islamic law, as implemented in actual societies?

            I think it makes more sense to think of Shariah as God’s law which only God can know for certain, fiqh as the human attempt to figure out what it is and instantiate it. There can be only one Shariah but the different schools have different uncertain beliefs about what it is, hence produce slightly different versions of fiqh.

  3. Nornagest says:

    “the Elon”

    Is that like “the Humongous”?

  4. manwhoisthursday says:

    I’m just really glad that the piece admits that IQ is real, meaningful, and mostly hereditary. This was the main flashpoint of the original debate twenty-five years ago, it’s more important than the stuff on the achievement gap

    Hmmm, from a personal perspective, where everything wrong with the world is being blamed on my alleged white male racism, I’m intensely interested in knowing whether the achievement gap really is the result of white people behaving badly or whether the left has been grotesquely slandering the proverbial stale pale male.

    Personal motivations aside, it would seem like a pretty good thing for society if we can move the contentious question of what causes the achievement gap into the realm of settled science rather than group on group recrimination.

    And a big part of why IQ has faced such resistance in the first place is because of the achievement gap, so it’s actually pretty important that we figure that question out.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I agree that logically it should be important to talk about the achievement gap is because it prevents people from believing in IQ (and I think that was the whole reason Murray even mentioned it in Bell Curve in the first place).

      But pragmatically, the opposite seems true – most people are willing to believe in IQ despite the achievement gap (making up whatever theories are necessary to justify it to themselves, like stereotype threat on IQ tests or whatever), but any talk about race makes them really angry and gets them to execute collective punishment on anyone who talks about IQ or genetics. So strategically I think the best plan is to make sure the ideas are out there so that people who care about logical consistency can find them, but be very quiet about them so that it doesn’t cause everyone else to get the torches and pitchforks and burn down various genetic laboratories that are just trying to cure cancer or something.

      As for the white male racism, I admit it’s really annoying, but I think it’s important enough to deploy good genetic engineering before something kills us that I’m willing to temporarily sacrifice the cause of making annoying people shut up.

      • Ilya Shpitser says:

        Let me try to steelman denialists:

        They believe some true beliefs are too dangerous to be widely adopted, because we live in a fallen world where it’s easy for consequences of these beliefs to run away from you and cause untold damage (since “inhuman social agents” e.g. corps/gvts/etc are not aligned).

        I really think people give too much weight to IQ, probably because they got overexcited about factor analysis? Factor analysis is a lot weaker than it seems. Also, why do dimension reduction into R^1? Why not R^10? The entire approach is extremely weird and confusing.

        Every time people jump from “IQ predicts” to “IQ causes”. Can’t do that. Or at the very least, if you want to do that, you really need a much more airtight case than what I have seen.

        • J Mann says:

          I think the two best arguments against the Murray argument are:

          1) The possibility that there are genetic racial IQ differences (and even enduring environmental differences) is a basilisk – an idea so dangerous that even being aware of it can cause harm.

          Therefore, while it may be OK for domain scientists to be aware of group g differences, and while it may be in the mainstream to believe that those differences probably have at least a partial genetic component, (a) the discussion should be restricted to scientists who are working in the field and (b) as long as we don’t have conclusive evidence for genetically based intragroup differences, we shouldn’t publicly hypothesize that there might be some.

          (Not many people make this argument out loud, but I have some sympathy for it. I’d never voluntarily bring up intra-group g differences with my kids, for example – the knowledge can only do harm.)

          2) That Murray tends to defend guys like Rushton as reasonable scientists. (I don’t know if Rushton is or not, although he still seems to get a fair number of citations).

          • bintchaos says:

            I like the idea of a basilisk…but its impractical.

            Unless there is a totalitarian world order, someone, somewhere, will create an enhanced human. –Stephen Hawking


            US is already in an arms race with China on AI and cognitive genomics– the Chinese are far less queasy about liberal basilisk concerns.
            I really recommend Dr. Haiers book– its short, comprehensive and generally excellent. Dr. Zimmer recommended it too.
            OTOH these discussions are compounded by people like Harris and the whole aich-bee-dee community (including Sailer, Khan, Derbyshire, Murray) into some sort of gotcha war where they are counting coup on the liberals over IQ heredity while blinded by multiple motes in their own eyes (climate science, creationism, and the eroding fitness of conservative ideology).

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Re: “basilisk,” you don’t have to be so dramatic.

            We have lots of examples in history of ideas being vastly misunderstood and used to justify bad things by people who were some combination of unscrupulous and stupid. People react to ideas in relatively predictable ways. Some ideas lie in spots in the “idea-space” where people are prone to misinterpret them in dangerous ways. None of this is new — our society evolved anti-bodies to stay away from certain lines of thought for this reason.
            Human minds are complicated software. It’s possible that you don’t want to run certain types of programs on human minds.

            I always wondered why people chafe under this, presumably culture war reasons?

            I think folks who get fixated on winning the culture war by any means necessary are dangerous lunatics. I worry they may end the world one day.

          • bintchaos says:

            Isn’t the problem that the GOP has already lost the culture war, or at least they perceive that they have lost?

          • meh says:

            Are there any examples of reasonable and effective uses of basilisks? I guess by definition it is possible there are many we are unaware of, but I am skeptical of this being a viable strategy.

            It might be good if say we didn’t have knowledge of nuclear weapons, except that the Axis or Soviets would have continued developing them.

          • bintchaos says:

            Classified data and covert intelligence…for example, US has more installations in Africa than there are countries because of the incoming billion man youth bulge.
            Certainly dont talk about it openly.
            US also keeps knowledge about what KSA is up to because that might induce anti-muslim riots here.

          • albatross11 says:

            Bintchaos:

            None of those people defends creation science. Razib Khan and Sam Harris are, in fact, vocal atheists, with no particular love for religious conservatives. So at least one of those motes belongs to some subset of people on the Right (and a smaller subset on the Left), but not to any of the people you’re talking about there.

          • bintchaos says:

            “Those people” dont try to educate their base on creationism (in spite of being atheists) or climate science, or on the declining fitness parity of conservative ideology.
            so yeah, their motes.

          • AnarchyDice says:

            Side note, when people talk about ideas as Basilisks, it always makes me think of the fictional SCP Foundation’s memetic/anti-memetics like this short story:

            ‘Ideas don’t die.’
            http://www.scp-wiki.net/introductory-antimemetics.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @Ilya

            People chafe under this because it is the argument we were explicitly and repeatedly taught to reject every time History class got to the Scopes trial. The underlying topic is still evolution, even!

            If you read Willaim Jennings Bryan’s closing speech for that trial, you will find that he mostly talks about how believing evolution will lead to atrocities (and 20 years later Hitler demonstrated how right he was).

            Multiple times in my public school education we were talk how bad and low-status Tennessee was for taking this position. So yes, culture-war reasons.

            [Darrow says] “you cannot destroy thought because, forsooth, some brain may be deranged by thought. It Is the duty of the university, as I conceive it, to be the greatest storehouse of the wisdom of the ages, and to have its students come there and learn and choose. I have no doubt but what it has meant the death of many, but that we cannot help.”
            This is a damnable philosophy. – William Jennings Bryan

          • rlms says:

            @Jaskologist
            I think your claim that belief in evolution lead to Hitler is dubious, to say the least. But more importantly, it certainly didn’t lead to atrocities in Tennessee.

          • J Mann says:

            @Ilya – didn’t mean to be dramatic, I just think it’s a compact formulation for “idea that can be harmful to know.”

            It’s probably patronizing, but IMHO, it’s probably net harmful for most people to know when a stereotype has a basis in fact, especially if they’re not good at separating averages from individuals. I don’t particularly want a hiring manager at a small company to know if redheads are on average not as smart as blonds, and I certainly wouldn’t put it on a middle school curriculum.

            On the other hand, I do think it’s helpful to know (a) if you’re involved in research or policy where the issue is relevant or (b) you’re assuming that disparate outcomes are very likely the result of discrimination or unfairly biased procedures.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            “Those people” dont try to educate their base on creationism (in spite of being atheists) or climate science, or on the declining fitness parity of conservative ideology.
            so yeah, their motes.

            Who the hell do you think is the base of Sailer/Khan, let alone Harris?

            Also, what’s this talk about “fitness of conservative ideology” and on what basis is it put on the same level of settledness than creationism or climate science?

          • albatross11 says:

            bintchaos:

            No, you’re just wrong about the facts here.

            Sam Harris comment on creationism

            You keep making bold claims of fact that are wrong, and are easily checked. This was thirty seconds of Google searching for me. You’re quickly moving into the same territory as internet political memes forwarded by family members of Facebook, in terms of trustworthiness.

          • The fact that there are basilisks is itself a basilisk. As I usually put it:

            “Some statements are both true and dangerous, and this is one such statement.”

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            @Anarchy: As Russians would put it: “Manuscripts don’t burn.”

            @J Mann: I just think the term “basilisk” has a bad brand at this point. But yes, I agree with you. I don’t see any particular reason why human minds can’t be easily screwed up by knowing certain types of things that happen to be true.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Sorry bud, the foundation does not have an antimemetics division.

          • J Mann says:

            @Ilya and David – thanks.

            That’s a shame, because I like the term when it’s not used for “ideas that we shouldn’t think or our descendants will be punished by hypothetical future AIs.” Is there a preferred replacement term?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I agree one reason for forbidding discussion of genetic contributions to inter-group differences is noble. Yes, if group A is shown to be on average more intelligent than group B, this can contribute to dehumanization of group B. That is bad. (My solution to this is my Catholic faith: we are all dumb compared to God). But there is also the selfish reason, that an awful lot of people make political hay by claiming that better outcomes for group A must only be because of oppression of group B by group A, and this justifies giving them political power to “correct” this oppression. Acknowledging that the “oppressor” in question may in fact be that bitch Mother Nature derails the gravy train, because Mother Nature doesn’t file tax forms.

            I would much prefer to find a productive way to talk about these issues because when you outlaw truth, only outlaws will have truth. The only people openly and gleefully discussing these sorts of issues are the kinds of people I don’t particularly want making policy decisions.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Is there a preferred replacement term?

            When I went through NCO school one of the subjects we touched on was “infectious ideas” or “Queeg Questions” (named for the captain in the Cain Mutiny). Ideas that will corrode morale and unit cohesion if they are allowed to spread. Personally I like “Cognitohazard”, the SCP’s name for such concepts, but “Memetic Hazard” would probably be more descriptive/recognizable to the general public.

          • Deiseach says:

            Also, what’s this talk about “fitness of conservative ideology” and on what basis is it put on the same level of settledness than creationism or climate science?

            That’s binti’s tic; as ye may know a Sidles post by the plenitude of links and statements phrased as rhetorical questions, so may ye know a bintchaos post by banging on about conservativism no matter if it is pertinent to the subject or not.

            It’s their King Charles’ Head 🙂

          • Re: “basilisk,” you don’t have to be so dramatic.

            There’s an uncontroversial sense in which random information can be epitemically damaging: that’s why educators invariably teach things in a certain order.

          • albatross11 says:

            If you accept that there are memetic hazards that must be suppressed for the good of society[1], then you still have the problem of deciding:

            a. Who should be in the position of deciding what’s a memetic hazard.

            The power to decide what ideas must never be discussed implies the power to rule all kinds of inquiries out-of-bounds. Perhaps class warfare and envy is a basklisk, so nobody should be allowed to discuss economic inequality[2] and trying to collect income statistics should get you no-platformed or fired. Maybe the theory of evolution is a memetic hazard that will undermine belief in traditional morality and leave everyone acting like an animal. Some people have argued that questioning the course of our war on terror is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and should be suppressed.

            Prominent, powerful people have made arguments for suppressing all that information at different times. Should they have been followed?

            b. Who should be allowed to know these dangerous truths?

            Our decision makers get a lot of their information from ordinary-person education and popular culture and media and books. Further, their decisions have to make sense to the voters if they’re to hope to get re-elected. If some forbidden fact is relevant for the decisions they need to make, who provides them with that information, and with the surrounding decades of intelligent discussion and debate and research that puts it in meaningful context? When the president needs to understand that antibiotic overuse is contributing to the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria, do we have a committee of enlightened microbiologists come give him a short course in the theory of evolution, which he’s spent his whole life hearing derided as atheistic pseudoscience, so he makes good decisions? How is that likely to work out?

            [1] Maybe there are, I’m not convinced this is true in general.

            [2] Attempts to remedy economic inequality accounted for most of the murders of the 20th century, one way or another, so it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a dangerous topic to open.

          • MoebiusStreet says:

            Indeed, the current position on NSA data collection seems to follow exactly this pattern. Not only aren’t we allowed to know the secrets that they’re collecting, which I think we’d mostly agree does relate to national security, but this is taken to at least one level of meta. We’re not allowed to know *how* they’re collecting the data, nor how many people’s data are being collected. Heck, until Snowden spilled the beans, although there was widespread suspicion, we weren’t even allowed to know that they were doing such data collection at all (which I guess was a second level of meta).

          • Careless says:

            I’m not really sure how you can hide group differences in intelligence or anything else from smart kids in heterogeneous groups.

            My daughter is white/Asian, and by the time she was five she was asking questions that ultimately were about sexual reproduction trying to figure out how she was a mix of two races.

            I didn’t realize that my advanced classes were mostly populated by Jews because I, well, didn’t think about identifying Jews as a class. If they were obviously of a different race, of course I would have realized there was something up with academic performance.

          • rlms says:

            @Careless
            You don’t have to hide the existence of group differences, you just have to hide any genetic basis. That is much easier: genetic homogeneity of IQ is not a priori unreasonable.

          • genetic homogeneity of IQ is not a priori unreasonable.

            Not impossible, perhaps, but implausible. It’s easy to observe similarities between parents and children, in both physical and intellectual characteristics. Intelligence has to be heritable to have been produced by Darwinian evolution, so the only argument for homogeneity would be that the optimal IQ was the same in the different environments in which different groups evolved. There are lots of physical traits for which that is obviously not true, so why expect it to be true for intellectual traits?

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            There are many traits that differ between groups, but also many that don’t (significantly). I don’t think there are obvious reasons that IQ should be in the former category.

          • There are many traits that differ between groups, but also many that don’t (significantly).

            Discrete traits such as number of arms don’t generally differ between subgroups of a species. Are there any continuous variables, such as height or IQ, for which groups that evolved in different environments over a long period of time, such as sub-Saharan Africans, Europeans, and East Asians, have the same distribution?

          • Careless says:

            You don’t have to hide the existence of group differences, you just have to hide any genetic basis.

            Er, the problem is that she figured out the genetic basis of differences when she was 5. She’s not going to miss the fact that her advanced classes are 90% Jewish/Asian/part Asian when she’s 12, let alone an adult

          • albatross11 says:

            I think the intelligence differences between racial groups aren’t really very big in absolute terms–blacks and whites and Asians can all live in the same society just fine, learn languages, learn to read, etc.

            I think we notice and care about the differences because we have a society that gets organized more and more along intelligence lines. A lot of your future is determined by how you do in school and what university you go to and what degree(s) you end up with. We have successfully made those things reflect actual differences in intelligence pretty well–though work ethic and such matters a lot, too. The result is that differences in intelligence matter in day to day life. Everyone knows the physicists are smarter than the elementary school teachers, who are smarter than the janitors[1].

            Because race is visible, and because races differ in terms of intelligence, anyone can look at the magnet school and notice that the kids are almost all white and Asian. They can notice that when you track kids in school, the low tracks end up a lot blacker than the high tracks. It’s easy to see that a lot of Harvard students are Asian, that most conferences in math, CS, engineerng, and the hard sciences have lots of whites and Asians and not many blacks, and so on.

            But we have a really ugly history of race relations in the US. Blacks and American Indians were really screwed over, mistreated repeatedly for centuries. (Asians and Jews also got their share of kicking around, but since they now are both doing well, it seems less salient.)

            Because of that ugly history, it seems all too plausible, seeing those differences, that they’re the result of discrimination. People see that the AP classes have very few black kids and say “why are these racist teachers and guidance counselors keeping black kids down?”

            This is one reason that the fact of different average IQs for different races is important for the public to know. Because without knowing that, we end up demanding the impossible–demanding that the educational system run itself so that blacks are 1/8 of the graduating physics PhDs, or 1/8 of the kids taking AP Calculus, or whatever.

            [1] On average. I’m sure there’s a janitor somewhere who’s smarter than the average physics postdoc, but on average, physicists are very smart, teachers less so, and janitors still less so.

          • Careless says:

            genetic homogeneity of IQ is not a priori unreasonable.

            If you’re a creationist, I suppose. If not, you know that genetic differences in IQ must exist for humans to have evolved.

          • I think we notice and care about the differences because we have a society that gets organized more and more along intelligence lines.

            I think the main reason we care about it is the one implied later in your comment. The existence of differences in the distribution of outcomes by race is routinely taken as proof of discrimination and so justification for policies sold as eliminating or making up for discrimination. That argument depends on the implicit assumption that there are no significant differences in characteristics, such as intelligence, that affect outcomes within racial groups. There is no reason to expect that assumption to be true, very little evidence that it is true, and a fair amount of evidence, short of proof, that it is false.

            If people are basing policies and judgements on an assumption, it matters whether that assumption is true.

          • albatross11 says:

            I’ll note that the Vox article (as well as the old APA statement on the Bell Curve) directly and strongly claim that intelligence differs by race. I don’t think that’s really part of the debate among people who study this stuff anymore. The cause of the differences and whether anything can be done about them via policy changes (headstart, universal pre-K, etc.) is where the Vox piece disagreed with Murray.

          • rlms says:

            @Careless
            “Er, the problem is that she figured out the genetic basis of differences when she was 5.”
            She might have *concluded* that, but she didn’t *know* it any more than if she’d lived in Guatemala in the 1970s and concluded that Guatemalan Mayan men were genetically predisposed to have an average height of 5 ft 2. Even if her conclusion was true, it wasn’t justified.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          1. The quality of the factor analysis is irrelevant to any practical question. If you want to make a new test, based on better factor analysis, you are free to do so. Most people are interested in the question of what they can do with existing tests; how those tests were created is not relevant. FWIW, a lot of psychologists think that you should subdivide IQ into math, verbal, and the not practically useful 3d spacial. Which is why most tests don’t give a single number.

          2. Most claims people make about IQ are predictive, not causal. The main causal question is whether educational interventions that raise test scores are actually useful.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I am super confused by your comment. I wasn’t talking about how good factor analysis is or isn’t, but about factor analysis itself as a method here.

            I don’t work on psychometrics, I merely object to use of factor analysis methods for causal discovery.

            I think the way dimension-reduction people would do this is to see what the natural dimension of the space “human brain” is (without consulting psychologists — what do they know? The brain is some crazy machine evolution cobbled together, why would it decompose into human concepts like “verbal” and “math”?)

            The vast majority of discussion about IQ, including here, is about a single number.

            People make causal claims about IQ constantly, often of the form of “what would happen if [someone]’s IQ were raised or lowered X points.”

            I have zero problems with using IQ as an outcome or as a predictor.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            If people make unwarranted causal claims, point out those specific claims. I rarely see claims are not charitably interpreted as predictive claims.

            If people make unwarranted reductions from M,V to IQ, point out those specific errors. But don’t complain that people don’t use instruments that don’t exist.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            @Douglass Knight: I don’t think we disagree?

            But let’s revisit this conversation later when inevitably some silly IQ argument happens somewhere.

            One important thing I believe strongly and want to emphasize is this. If we want to learn about X, and don’t have the right tool yet, it’s better to do nothing than mislead people with the wrong tool. The burden of doing the right thing is on the tool-user, not the tool-maker.

        • Christopher Hazell says:

          It depends how we’re reading “denialists” but I would argue the real steelman is that lengthy Sam[]zdat reveiw of “Seeing Like A State”

          One of the things that endlessly frustrates me about this debate, here and elsewhere, is the idea that the only possible response to a book like the Bell Curve, or to intelligence research in general, is either

          A)Utter suppression of all such research, or

          B)Continuing all such research and assuming that any problems are utterly minimal and will solve themselves.

          Surely, surely there must be some middle ground? I can’t help but think that if intelligence researchers understood the arguments against High Modernism a little better it might, perhaps, help them tailor their research in such a way that it would not be misused as it has been in the past, watch out for past mistakes, or even suggest new avenues of research to undertake.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I honestly don’t see any calls to prevent research into IQ in general.

            I see lots of objections to assuming that “IQ=outcome=IQ” and that IQ research means we know racism doesn’t effect outcomes.

          • J Mann says:

            @HeelBearCub – agreed.

            There are effectively calls to ignore any research by anyone who has received funding from The Pioneer Fund, but that’s a separate question.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            help them tailor their research in such a way that it would not be misused as it has been in the past, watch out for past mistakes, or even suggest new avenues of research to undertake.

            Isn’t that exactly what Murray has done? His solution to different group abilities is UBI.

        • mupetblast says:

          “They believe some true beliefs are too dangerous to be widely adopted, because we live in a fallen world where it’s easy for consequences of these beliefs to run away from you and cause untold damage…”

          That’s roughly the point John McWhorter makes toward the end of this talk:

          https://bloggingheads.tv/videos/46391

          John Horgan has made similar arguments, though about the threat to free will by neuroscience.

      • manwhoisthursday says:

        I have yet to see an instance of where giving in to SJWism actually helps in any way.

        • The Nybbler says:

          I have yet to see an instance of where giving in to SJWism actually helps in any way.

          It might help one personally, e.g. to keep a job or a book deal or some such thing. If one has the stomach to compromise oneself that way.

          • John Schilling says:

            I strongly suspect John Scalzi’s post-Racefail career is an example of such. And Brendan Eich would almost certainly have kept his job at Mozilla with an apology.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling

            Here’s what I don’t get. Scalzi is held up as some sort of standard bearer of SJ type thinking in sci fi. I read a few of his books and none of it struck me as particularly SJ-heavy. If I had to guess the political affiliation of the author through his books, I would have guessed “dishwater Democrat, not particularly strident about anything.”

            His personal activity (blogging or whatever) might be, but that’s a different bucket from what those complaining about people like him complain about, which is that supposedly the actual books are getting pumped full of messaging. My impression of his books was mostly “decent at plotting, some strong moments, tries too hard to be clever, mediocre at best at writing dialogue.”

          • John Schilling says:

            I agree with you on Scalzi’s writing. But if your books are apolitical light entertainment of middling quality, it’s easy to stand out for anything but your writing. Scalzi made a public about-face in the middle of Racefail, and carried his new “Champion of the Rainbow Coalition” persona not only into his blogging but also into his SFFWA presidency (which came during a socially contentious period).

            For what it’s worth, my own analysis of Hugo voting patterns shows at least as much of the post-Racefail shift comes from the reputation/image of the author and publisher as the content of the books. And both sides are guilty of pushing mediocrities with the right author bio, e.g. Larry Correia.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Scalzi’s got two things making him a standardbearer.

            1) “The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

            2) A personal feud with Vox Day. (although only VD seems to be keeping up his end)

          • engleberg says:

            @’both sides are guilty of pushing mediocrities with the right author bio, e. g. Larry Correia.’

            Correia is a brilliant pure action writer, almost as good as young David Drake. The book bomb people he pushes, yeah, some mediocrities. It’s a weak period in SF generally. Flashes of brilliance like Benford’s new WWII A Bomb book or Sandford/Ctein’s Saturn Run, but mostly it’s just a bunch of awards going to whoever sucks up because there just aren’t enough good people doing good stuff out there.

          • bintchaos says:

            It’s a weak period in SF generally


            To me, that is just an incredible statement. I think two of the best books in the history of the awards came out recently: Cixin Liu’s 3BodyProblem and KSR’s Aurora. Cixin is a chinese scifi author who is mad popular in China, KSR has written many award-winners, but Aurora is special– actually quoted by IRL physics professors and researchers for its thought experiments on generation ship entropy and exo-planets.
            The Sad Puppies event caused some sort of sorting of science fiction into red and blue camps–polarization.
            Even science fiction is polarized now.
            Thats why I’m interested in games…on observation there don’t actually seem to be explicitly redtribe games and bluetribe games. Games are the dark matter of the social metaverse…maybe they could be common ground.

            As an aside I think Correia is pretty bad– reads like formula pulp fiction goes to space.

            ** sorry about that– this was an experiment to see why the wordpress comment system was behaving like it did– puts your comment directly after the person you were responding to in stead of under the last reply level– so it can come out of time-order– like albatross comment below precedes mine.

          • albatross11 says:

            That seems plausible. Scalzi seems like a competent writer, and the three books of his I’ve read have been enjoyable but not spectacular, including the Hugo winner. (Which was fun and clever, but not even in the same time zone as something like _A Deepness in the Sky_.)

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling/The Nybbler

            It’s funny, though, that given that a fairly common sentiment on the SJ side of things is “there’s no such thing as neutrality, no such thing as being apolitical, etc”, it’s a bit out of place that this supposed standard bearer doesn’t write standard-bearing novels.

            I mean, Pratchett did a better job of everything Scalzi does as a writer. Vastly better writer (up until near the end of his life) and really good at establishing a moral to the story that was usually fairly progressive (ditto – his last novels were the opposite of this; it went from “show” to “tell” very dramatically; Snuff was especially bad).

            When I read Redshirts my reaction was that it reminded me of Pratchett’s really early sci-fi stuff, except less inventive.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Bintchaos – “Thats why I’m interested in games…on observation there don’t actually seem to be explicitly redtribe games and bluetribe games. Games are the dark matter of the social metaverse…maybe they could be common ground.”

            That… didn’t work out super well a couple years ago. We just had another flareup at e3 too. But I’d agree the gaming space seems to have come out of it in much better shape than sci-fi fandom.

            “As an aside I think Correia is pretty bad– reads like formula pulp fiction goes to space.”

            Has Correia actually written anything set in Space?

          • Matt M says:

            As someone who is into gaming and not sci-fi, I would have thought gaming was one of the most politically polarized hobbies that existed.

            Yeesh, you sci-fi fans must have it REALLY bad…

          • BBA says:

            We just had another flareup at e3 too.

            And the rapid flameout of said flareup has restored a lot of my faith in humanity.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            And the rapid flameout of said flareup has restored a lot of my faith in humanity.

            But the prompt apology of the one burned by the flames has rather gotten on my nerves.

          • Careless says:

            Look at the list of award winners since 1993. It’s basically a catastrophe.

            I have nothing in common with the Puppies in who should have won, AFAIK, but it’s really obvious that something broke the system there and it’s been broken since then

          • John Schilling says:

            Correia is a brilliant pure action writer, almost as good as young David Drake.

            You’ll note that young David Drake was never nominated for the Hugo. Nor, for that matter, was middle-aged David Drake nor Old David Drake. If you’re a “brilliant pure [X] writer”, and the genre isn’t [X], then the implication is that you aren’t so brilliant in the other things that make up the genre. Science fiction has usually aimed higher than Pure Action, In Space!, and e.g. such stories are almost never considered Hugo-worthy.

            Also, for whomever was asking, I’m pretty sure that Larry Correia has never actually set any of his stories in outer space.

          • BBA says:

            @AnonYEmous: the key point is that the apology (which I assume to be sincere) was accepted and there was no further incident, aside from some grumbling among the handful of dead-enders still interested in fighting this.

          • Aevylmar says:

            Look at the list of award winners since 1993. It’s basically a catastrophe.

            List of 2002 nominees:

            Neil Gaiman: American Gods
            Lois McMaster Bujold: The Curse of Chalion
            Connie Willis: Passage
            China Miéville: Perdido Street Station
            Robert Charles Wilson: The Chronoliths
            Ken MacLeod: Cosmonaut Keep

            I hear all of these authors praised regularly, many of them are very good (Curse of Chalion is probably the best standalone fantasy novel ever written), and the only book on this list people don’t go “You should read this” at me is Cosmonaut Keep – which got last place.

            No, I’m sympathetic to the idea that the Hugo awards have fallen since a Golden Age – Bujold goes from almost winning with Curse of Chalion and Falling Free to almost winning with Cryoburn and Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance – but I don’t think you can say that 1993 was the breakpoint.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @John Schilling

            To be specific, the closest Correia’s come is very light, very silly “Buckaroo Banzai”-ish short story which is more about parallel earths, though he has a co-written sci-fi novel in the works. Other than that it’s Urban Fantasy (Monster Hunter International series), Swords and Sorcery (Son Of The Black Sword, which miiiight have some subtle hints of a sci-fi explanation in its backstory, but if so much weaker than something like Wolfe’s Severian books), Period Urban Fantasy (Grimnoir), and Action-Adventure/Technothriller (Dead Six books w/ Mike Kupari)

            Re: Correia vs. Scalzi, yeah, they’re operating at about the same technical level. The differences are that Scalzi plays to tropes more popular with the WorldCon cognoscenti (“It’s Like Starship Troopers, but the protagonist wakes up and realizes how evil the war is, so he betrays his own species in order to bring peace!”) and as noted distinguishes himself by dint of his personal politics and politicking/networking in the field, whereas Correia is avowedly populist in his writing outlook (write what’s fun, because fans like it and will buy it) and basically built his whole persona around being a publishing/industry “outsider”.

          • Careless says:

            I don’t think you can say that 1993 was the breakpoint.

            Why not? Of the books in the 33 years before that, something like 30 are books with reputations or by titanic authors. Of the books in the 23 years after, you’ve got Diamond Age, Deepness, Harry Potter, American Gods (possibly being unfair to 3 Body Problem).

            edit: 1993 being chosen specifically because of the Connie Willis problem

          • JulieK says:

            I hear all of these authors praised regularly, many of them are very good

            I love Connie Willis in general, but wasn’t so impressed w/ Passage (nor her novella “The Winds of Marble Arch” which won in 2000).

          • dndnrsn says:

            Isn’t it fairly normal for a good writer/musician/actor/director/whatever to not win the big prize for their best work, and to end up getting it for a lesser, later work?

          • John Schilling says:

            Why not? Of the books in the 33 years before that, something like 30 are books with reputations or by titanic authors. Of the books in the 23 years after,

            Perhaps twenty were written by authors who will be regarded as titanic in 2040? There’s an obvious problem in perspective here. But Stephenson, Bujold, Vinge, Gaiman, Willis, Rowling, Robinson, Haldeman, that’s already a list of titans and most of them are still writing.

            There is an observable change, not in the subjective quality or “titanicness” of the works but in the extent to which objective indicators of SJ alignment correlate with Hugo nomination and winners. But the break point for that is 2010, not 1993. 1994-2009, we get a lot of very good books by very good authors who haven’t had time to establish Heinleinesque reputations (and will by definition never be able to establish “founders of the genere” level reputations)

          • Curse of Chalion is probably the best standalone fantasy novel ever written

            It is indeed very good, but are you taking the position that Lord of the Rings isn’t a novel?

          • AnonYEmous says:

            are you taking the position that Lord of the Rings isn’t a novel?

            Certainly not a standalone one, given that it’s a trilogy

            Also, while I’m here, just wanted to also cosign the goodness of Curse of Chalion.

          • John Schilling says:

            Certainly not a standalone one, given that it’s a trilogy

            That The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy, is not “given”. It was written as a single novel, structured as a single novel with six major sections, submitted for publication as a single novel, and published as three simultaneous books due to the limitations of bookbinding technology in 1950. Single-volume editions are now common in hardcover.

          • engleberg says:

            @me- ‘It’s a weak period in SF generally. ‘

            @bintchaos- ‘To me that is an incredible statement. I think two of the best books in the history of the awards just came out: The Three Body Problem and Aurora.’

            The history of the awards includes a lot of first contact and generation starship stories. I intend to read Liu, but I’ve tried Robinson repeatedly and he just doesn’t have much zip. Or bring new stuff to the SF table.

            @John Schilling- ‘Science fiction has generally aimed higher than Pure! Action! In Space! -and such stories are generally not Hugo material.’

            ‘Fill every rift with ore’ was good enough for Keats, and may be expected to outlast the fads of our time. Writers who can’t do good action scenes lack a basic skill of storytelling. It doesn’t help for them to be snotty about their incapacity. Tolstoy wrote good action scenes: Borodino, the finest ladies of Russia at the Bolshoi Ballet wickedly ogling dancing boys in Daisy Dukes. Correia could do either scene: Kim Stanley Robinson could not.
            Correia’s not a SF writer at all by the standard of Anderson, Heinlein, Niven, Pournelle, Zelazny; but he has the old Weird Tales razzle-dazzle and a knack for striking status detail.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            two of the best books in the history of the awards came out recently: Cixin Liu’s 3BodyProblem and KSR’s Aurora

            Three-Body Problem?? Give me a break.

            The background stuff of recent Chinese history was interesting, but every single character was a cartoon.

            The science stuff was laughable. Take an elementary particle and unfold it in one dimension to make something unimaginably large in the remaining two — okay, I can sort of live with that. But then: write on it? WTF?

            My daily log says I was engrossed by 3BP when I started it, and regretted that I would not have access to the next two books in the trilogy for a while. By the time I finished it I wanted to hurl it across the room with great force.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Dr. Mist
            I really liked The Dark Forest Doctrine, the concept of the 3body game as a vector to spread an invasive religion, the tags to mathematical history, Tianamming’s sacrifice, the epic space battle…oh sorry…i have read all 3 books.
            But mostly I loved the character of Ye Wenjie…because most days I would just push the button too.
            What saddened me most about this whole thread is the polarization of sci-fi. Thanks Puppies!
            George RR Martin held the committee’s own awards after the event– Aurora won one of the No Award categories– does that mean conservatives can’t like Game of Thrones/Songs of Fire and Ice now? A lot of SSC commenters are trash-talking Scalzi– well Martin hates the Puppies too. I dont think the Puppies “won” anything.
            Your punching back is just slapping yourselves in the face here.

      • Forge the Sky says:

        I’m a white male myself, and my main concern about the racism isn’t so much that it’s annoying (though it is). My concern is what sort of things some white males might do when sufficiently pissed off, and implicitly informed that racial conflicts are now an acceptable M.O.

        Those sorts of things aren’t exactly good for the sorts of civilization needed for the development of genetic engineering tech, either.

        • manwhoisthursday says:

          Yeah, attacking people for a shared identity is a great way to strengthen that identity, especially among men. Best way to create more white nationalists is to constantly go on about how bad white people, especially white men, are. (The wives and girlfriends will tend to go along with their menfolk.)

          • Forge the Sky says:

            Vox Day often says the alt-right is inevitable, and I am concerned he may be right.

            Believing your government should be the special protectorate of its citizens interests as opposed to a globalist cooperative entity is certainly a defensible position. Racially based nationalism, though when articulated carefully can be non-destructive and non-racist, would I think be neither of those things in actual practice.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The problem is that to some white males, government now looks like the special protectorate of the interests of everyone else.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            uh huh

            the only place that “black” is an identity is America, and to an extent other western countries

            why? Because “black” people were chained, then segregated, and generally beaten upon and hung from trees.

            “white” isn’t much of an identity right now. And obviously snide jokes aren’t equivalent to chains around your arms and a noose around your neck. But it can feel that way sometimes, and in addition to pissing me off personally, on behalf of myself and others, it’s also a really fucking stupid tactic. I honestly feel that a lot of progressivism is merely action taken without thought to the consequence, saved by the fact that they don’t have enough power to make what they want happen. But that’s another story.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            “Don’t disparage Muslims because if they don’t feel welcome they might turn to terrorism.”

            “Let’s write article after article about how white men are evil and the cause of all the problems in the world. Nothing bad will possibly come of this.”

          • FacelessCraven says:

            “Don’t disparage White men because if they feel put upon they may revolt.”

            “Let’s openly discuss whether Muslim Citizens should have their status stripped and be exiled from our country.”

            Two edges on that knife.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Two edges on that knife.

            The US is about 31% non-Hispanic white males and 1% Muslims, so we can at least decide which edge is dominant by the ancient principle of “might makes right”.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Yes, it all cashes out here, the famous: “anecdotally sized populations,” as some resident edgelord called it.

            This type of talk leads to a terrible moral clarity. Lots of people, myself included, do not want to live in the kind of United States, our true or adopted home, where one’s moral worth has to do with how numerous one’s genetic or cultural kin is. People will fight, by word, by political action, and by force if needed, until the political will behind this sentiment is utterly broken.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Well yes, but what do you do when you find out that’s the world you’re living in?

            From where I’m sitting, a society where one’s moral worth is determined by how numerous (or aggressive) one’s genetic or cultural kin is only possible outcome of identity/intersectional politics and that’s precisely why I view it as a serpent that must be crushed.

          • The Nybbler says:

            This type of talk leads to a terrible moral clarity. Lots of people, myself included, do not want to live in the kind of United States, our true or adopted home, where one’s moral worth has to do with how numerous one’s genetic or cultural kin is.

            I wouldn’t say “moral worth”, but something like this would seem to be an inevitable consequence of democracy. Whoever is more numerous sets the rules. This is why an assimilationist culture was a good thing; anybody could become cultural kin, provided they could give up the incompatible elements of their own culture.

          • albatross11 says:

            So how about if we disparage neither Muslims nor white men as a whole, but rather concentrate our criticism on individuals or small groups actually doing something wrong. Bashing every Muslim whenever there’s a terrorist attack is a shitty thing to do. Bashing every white guy when the cops shoot an unarmed black kid is also a shitty thing to do. I don’t see a particular problem figuring out the right thing to do, here.

          • The Nybbler says:

            So how about if we disparage neither Muslims nor white men as a whole, but rather concentrate our criticism on individuals or small groups actually doing something wrong.

            Because tribalism is a dominant strategy.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            The difference between blaming “Muslims” and “white men” is that the former share an ideology, a system of thought which produces certain results. This is why many who wish to criticize “white men” will focus on “whiteness” or “toxic masculinity”, but these are vague constructs which usually mean what the speaker wants them to mean, unlike “Islam” which is a religion with a holy book and priests.

            Despite that I don’t blame anyone but the terrorists, anyone who assisted them, and their ideology. I know most who profess to believe don’t believe so strongly or believe strongly in another direction. But terrorism is part of the ideology, as currently constituted.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            People who call themselves Muslims share an ideology in the same sense people who call themselves Christians do.

            That is, about as much sharing is happening as between Pope Francis and Lyle Jeffs.

            Do you have a single Muslim friend?

        • albatross11 says:

          Yeah, I think racial identity politics is at least an order of magnitude more dangerous than knowledge about heritability of IQs or other muggle-realist ideas. But racial identity politics is extremely popular on the left, for everyone but whites. This is pretty obviously not something that can work out forever, and in fact, it seems like the rise of Trump is partly about the rise of white ethnic identity politics. I think we will regret opening that can of worms.

          • Brad says:

            But racial identity politics is extremely popular on the left, for everyone but whites.

            I don’t think that’s true at all. There’s no especial enthusiasm for East Asian identity politics, Native American identity politics, Indian identity politics, or Pacific Islander identity politics.

          • Nornagest says:

            There’s plenty of Pacific Islander racial politics in Hawaii, which is the only state in the US where Pacific Islanders are a demographically significant minority. Native American identity politics were popular a couple decades ago but seem to have burned themselves out.

            I’d agree with you on Indian and East Asian, though — specific issues come up occasionally, but there isn’t anything significant on the national level that can be described as a movement.

          • Forge the Sky says:

            Thinking through Brad’s point here. A thought, which might be a paranoid one but let’s see where it leads – all these dynamics that are popular in leftism currently seem to be about using a narrative of power/oppression to rationalize redistribution of power and resources.

            White men have tended to have the largest amount of power and resources in aggregate, moreso than even more successful groups (like east Asian immigrant descendants) due to their greater numbers. As such, any group that could be depicted as being oppressed by them has taken the opportunity to tap into their resources. We get the big ones of men oppressing women, cis-gendered oppressing queergendered, and whites oppressing blacks. Leaving straight white men situated like an O- blood donor, who can give to all but receive from none.

            Still more subjectively – It also seems to be a matter of white culture to be forbearing towards those lesser than you, to give to those that need help, and to believe others when they say they’ve been wronged. Basically the foundations for a high-trust society, being taken advantage of by subcultural forces that realized that they could manipulate those tendencies for gain.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Native identity politics is big in Canada, at least on campus and in the media.

            I’m guessing that Native Americans have been washed out by other identity concerns in the U.S. They likely will in Canada as well, as the place becomes more and more multicultural.

            Many naive Native activists dream of a grand coalition of the fringes, where everybody joins together to fight the white man, and so are in favour of more immigration. But it’s more likely their special claim on white people’s notice will be diluted, and they’ll end up as “just another minority.”

          • albatross11 says:

            I recommend trying to found a South Asian Students’ Association at your university, and then trying to found a White Students’ Association at your university. Report back on which one gets acceptance and which one triggers a month of campus-shutting-down protests. That’s the difference.

          • Christopher Hazell says:

            Okay, so, historically, into living memory, blacks and gay people have been subject to unequal laws, to say nothing of historical time.

            One thing that drives me up the wall is that,
            in the US at least, obviously white people opened up the “racial identity” can of worms, centuries ago. Different races were given different (lack of) protection under the law. This in turn led to quite a lot of literature and thought about “white identity politics” in the 18th and 19th century, and eventually led to, you know, the civil war.

            Look, different races think of themselves AS different races at least partially because legal structures dividing us into different races were invented by our governments and then continued into living memory.

            I could tear up progressivism, and its terrible approach to the proverbial privileged white man as much as the next guy, but it is incredibly intellectually dishonest to pretend that “white ethnic identity politics” were somehow invented in the last couple of years solely as a reaction to some kind of incomprehensible left-wing thing that just appeared for no reason.

          • The Nybbler says:

            At least in tech, Asians present the same problem as Jews, only writ larger and more visible. They’re the elephant in the room when diversity statistics come up (though some white male is often rude enough to call attention to it) Mostly they’re implicitly treated as white for statistical purposes, but not reviled the same way whites are. Some Asians are concerned that “diversity” measures might harm them, but if they bring it up they’re “shushed” without rancor.

            I have two explanations for this, one reasonable and one tinfoil-hat. The reasonable one is that the Asians know they’re vulnerable as an over-represented group, the actual racist whites don’t like them, and the rest of the non-SJW whites are afraid they’ll jump the wrong way if stirred up. And their success presents a problem to the SJWS.

            The tinfoil-hat one is that the Chinese government is sponsoring the SJW movement the same as the Soviets sponsored the peace movement.

          • MoebiusStreet says:

            @Nornagest

            on Indian and East Asian, though … there isn’t anything significant on the national level that can be described as a movement.

            No, but I can imagine it happening. There’s a lot of simmering resentment in the Chinese community about affirmative action, and how the net effect is that it’s incredibly difficult for deserving Asian students to get into top schools, relevant to protected races. Educational achievement is a core value for this community, and there’s a clear causal link in denying them so many opportunities. The character of this group isn’t such that there would be violence, but I can see it coming to a lot of cultural grief.

          • Nornagest says:

            it is incredibly intellectually dishonest to pretend that “white ethnic identity politics” were somehow invented in the last couple of years solely as a reaction to some kind of incomprehensible left-wing thing that just appeared for no reason.

            It would be more accurate to say that white ethnic identity politics are reentering the mainstream as a reaction to some kind of incomprehensible etc. etc.

            When I was growing up (in a blue state, but a red part of it), there was a cross-tribal consensus that MLK Jr’s “not by the color of the skin, but by the content of their character” was what we were all aiming for, i.e. that policy ought to be ultimately if not proximately colorblind, and racial identity politics, while perhaps understandable, were ultimately counterproductive. There was plenty of racial tension (this was the era of Rodney King, after all) and there was a lot of disagreement about the extent to which that mission statement had been realized and the roadmap we should follow to realize it more fully. But an overwhelming majority of people would have signed on to the goal itself; the only holdouts in Red or Blue tribes (minority opinion was more complicated) would have been a few old bearded dudes innawoods on the one hand, and a few young bearded dudes on college campuses on the other. Both those groups have existed with roughly their present ideology since the Civil Rights era (as I’ve said before, the racial rhetoric in e.g. Days of Rage is virtually identical to modern rhetoric modulo some vocabulary), but they were pretty thoroughly marginalized.

            Sometime in the late 2000s to early 2010s, that consensus started breaking down within Blue Tribe. It took a while for a reaction to appear, because the stigma was and is still very strong. But now we’re seeing it.

          • Brad says:

            @albatross11

            But racial identity politics is extremely popular on the left, for everyone but whites.

            I recommend trying to found a South Asian Students’ Association at your university, and then trying to found a White Students’ Association at your university. Report back on which one gets acceptance and which one triggers a month of campus-shutting-down protests. That’s the difference.

            You aren’t saying the same thing in these two quotes.

          • Forge the Sky says:

            @Brad
            “I suggest talking to some.”

            What do you think I’m doing lol

            Anyways, ideological leftists aren’t really who I’m concerned about. Those I talk to tend to be pretty sensible about this sort of thing, and also tend to reject ideas like ‘color-blind racism’ and so on, even if we tend to disagree about some of our theories and priorities.

            I’m concerned with people who use the narrative of leftism for the gain of their ingroup.

            …”there’s no such thing as white culture…”

            There’s no such thing as ‘Brad.’ You’re actually just a collection of molecules that you’ve arbitrarily decided to identify as a unitive entity.

            No sense going into the details every time you introduce yourself though.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Even most SJWs still have a colourblind society as their ostensible goal. After all, racial and sexual distinctions are the villain in their story. However, the status of that particular goal seems to be an awful lot like goal of a stateless society under Communism: people have given up on it happening anytime soon, or, pragmatically, ever.

          • Brad says:

            Forge the sky, I apologize for the edit. It was in the first couple of minutes, I thought what I wrote came off as too snarky and I got rid of it.

            For everyone else, s/he is responding to something that was there, albeit briefly, not crazy.

          • albatross11 says:

            Brad and Nornagest:

            Fair enough, let me try to phase this better:

            a. White identity politics was a thing for many years, especially in the South. Ethnic identity politics was also a thing in the North, though more narrow–Irish or Italian or whatever.

            White identity politics led us to have some really awful policies. So they became radioactive, and that was a good thing.

            At the same time, narrower big-city ethnic identity politics became less of a thing, I think mainly because the ethnic groups tended to intermarry and fade into nonexistence (who cares today if Joe O’Hara marries Mary Giovanni?).

            b. But there are a lot of racial/ethnic identity politics on the left, where they seem to be quite popular and well-supported, at least when it comes down to black and hispanic identity politics. There’s a whole intellectual structure of arguments for why these are good things, and why viewing morality and policy through a “is it good for our race” lens is good and right. There’s a vast structure of political and social and moral arguments that seem to me to put race at the center of the moral universe.

            At the same time, we’ve seen the visible rise of nonwhite elites. That’s a huge win, since it represents talented people who formerly would have been excluded from the elite and now are welcomed. And we’ve also seen a lot of poor whites do relatively badly, and often seen the message from media sources “yeah, shut up about your suffering, you’re playing the game on the easiest setting.”

            c. Over time, I think that has created a space for white identity politics to come back, and I think we’re seeing that. I think this is an overwhelmingly bad thing, and I wish I saw how to push back on it. One thing that I don’t think is going to work to push back on it (and shouldn’t logically work) is the argument that racial identity politics by whites is evil and awful and Hitleresque, but racial identity politics by other groups like blacks or hispanics or East Asians or South Asians is laudable.

          • Brad says:

            Where you go wrong, factually, is in paragraph b. There aren’t ” a lot of racial/ethnic identity politics on the left”.

            The politics of and regarding African-Americans is sui generis. Hispanic isn’t a race, is barely an ethnicity, and there’s a lot less intra-group solidarity than you seem to think. As seen by rest of the coalition the various Hispanic groups are viewed similarly to how the old coalitions viewed Irish and Italians. I expect things to end roughly the same way for them.

            often seen the message from media sources “yeah, shut up about your suffering, you’re playing the game on the easiest setting.”

            From media sources, or from blogs, tumblrs, and twitter posts that some of you guys inexplicably endlessly seek out?

            One thing that I don’t think is going to work to push back on it (and shouldn’t logically work) is the argument that racial identity politics by whites is evil and awful and Hitleresque, but racial identity politics by other groups like blacks or hispanics or East Asians or South Asians is laudable.

            That’s not happening. We have first generation immigrants acting like first generation immigrants and we have the African-American issues that seemingly will always be with us. There’s no broad leftist conspiracy to advance all the races except the white race which is to be suppressed.

          • There aren’t ” a lot of racial/ethnic identity politics on the left”.

            The politics of and regarding African-Americans is sui generis. Hispanic isn’t a race, is barely an ethnicity, and there’s a lot less intra-group solidarity than you seem to think.

            The attitude of college administrators to “La Raza” is the same as it would be to a white group calling itself “the race”?

          • albatross11 says:

            Brad:

            How would we decide which of us is right about the factual claim that there are a lot of racial identity politics on the left? What kind of evidence could we use to decide who’s right?

            This NYT Op Ed piece covers a lot of my feelings about the issue, and at least seems to suggest that I’m not the only one to worry about it. That op-ed led to this set of pieces reacting to it.

            I Googled around for a few minutes, but couldn’t find an obvious link or article that would make a strong case in either direction.

            Racial identity politics means, more-or-less, appealing to blacks by promising to further black interests, hispanics by promising to further hispanic interests, etc. I think this is much more common on the left than on the right. If that’s true, I think we should see:

            a. Democrats making way more direct appeals to blacks, hispanics, Asians, etc., based on their interests as a racial group, than Republicans do.

            b. Groups with an explicit racial/ethnic identity being considered important supporters of Democrats much more often than of Republicans.

            c. Ideologues and academics on the left producing justifications for racial/ethnic identity politics much more often than ideologues and academics on the right.

            Does that seem reasonable? What other signs would we look for to see who’s right?

          • albatross11 says:

            Brad:

            As an aside, I agree with you about the cohesiveness of Hispanics as a political group. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans and Cubans (the three biggest groups) come from three quite different countries, have different interests and histories and problems, and there’s not a whole lot keeping them together politically.

            And in general, it looks to me like Hispanics fade into general Americans in a generation or two–the kids grow up here and speak English perfectly, intermarry with random Americans, and think of themselves as Americans with some family back in Mexico.

          • Forge the Sky says:

            @Brad re: edit

            Thanks, no problem.

            @et al

            Regarding the prevalence of identity politics in the Left, I can’t speak with great authority but get the sense that, though Brad has a point (leftists aren’t generally pushing them all the time) they are nonetheless very sympathetic to marginalized groups expressing them even with great stridency, and very opposed to powerful groups expressing them at all – though the latter phenomenon is the natural result of the former.

            Also, though it is important to remember that white identity was once a powerful and often destructive force, it is also important to place it in proper context. It has very much been the norm for groups of people to identify as separate and somehow superior throughout history, and for that to be a very bad thing for weaker outgroups in the surrounds. Just because white people gave that a scientific gloss a century or two ago doesn’t make it fundamentally different….it was just the explanation that was in vogue after the ‘maybe x people don’t have souls like we do’ sort of explanation became less defensible.

            This is important because it suggests different ways to deal with the issue than an explanation that regards white identity as a unique proclivity that needs to be wiped out.

            Some people think the only way to to mix populations together till they homogenize. Maybe, but we shouldn’t underestimate the incredible privation the human race would suffer by losing all unique cultures. Another solution would be segregation of different identities, but it’s not clear this is possible without oppression resulting. A third possibility is training people to accept diversity around them in non-destructive ways, which is the current ideal of (much of) the left, but it’s not clear how possible this ultimately is either.

            A fourth possibility is genetic engineering of our personalities to MAKE it possible I suppose, but this is ethically and technically daunting.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Where you go wrong, factually, is in paragraph b. There aren’t ” a lot of racial/ethnic identity politics on the left”.

            The politics of and regarding African-Americans is sui generis.

            Certainly the situation of African Americans (and in particular descendants of slaves) in the US is sui generis. But the identitarians do not actually treat it that way. Blacks are oppressed (whether or not descendants of slaves), Hispanics are oppressed, Muslims are oppressed, Native Americans are oppressed; these are all People of Color, and they have identities which matter.

          • vuzqk says:

            @Forge the Sky

            Still more subjectively – It also seems to be a matter of white culture to be forbearing towards those lesser than you, to give to those that need help, and to believe others when they say they’ve been wronged. Basically the foundations for a high-trust society, being taken advantage of by subcultural forces that realized that they could manipulate those tendencies for gain.

            You might be interested in Paul Gottfried’s “Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy”. Chapter 2 draws a line from Protestantism to modern identity politics guilt-tripping, noting, e.g., that Sweden’s multicultural policy efforts have not made as much headway in the (few) Catholic regions.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Brad

            While East Asian and South Asian identity politics is not much of a thing in North America, there is of course identity politics in East and South Asia – it’s just that it tends to be on the right-wing side of things (eg Hindu nationalism in India – Modi has been responsible for at least one pogrom).

            Meanwhile, in North America, while East Asians tend not to be heavily into identity politics, some are; they and the South Asians who are seem, in my experience, to go less for individual identity politics movements than for casting themselves as being part of a broader umbrella of POC.

            And as has been pointed out, Aboriginal identity politics is a pretty big deal in Canada (focusing on the many awful ways they have been and are being screwed over – the treatment of Aboriginal people is basically Canada’s great crime) – I thought it was in the US too.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            One thing that drives me up the wall is that,
            in the US at least, obviously white people opened up the “racial identity” can of worms, centuries ago.

            But I would also argue that, around the 80s and 90s, white people and even everyone else started to let it die down. And now the flames are being fanned again.

            It’s especially annoying because my generation didn’t do any of this. I don’t treat people of different races differently and I try not to. I just want everyone to agree on that. And to that end, people who do treat people differently will receive my disapproval, and I will try to cancel them out. I know that’s a lot of people, but all the same when people openly and directly set out to subvert this as a norm it chaps my hide. And it’s not good for the society.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            But I would also argue that, around the 80s and 90s, white people and even everyone else started to let it die down. And now the flames are being fanned again.

            I grew up in that generation, too, and things seemed fine to me, too. But talking to blacks and other minorities, it turns out that a lot of bad shit still happened, it just stayed silent because it wasn’t okay to talk about it. So now they’re trying a different tack: Make noise about every possible and potential racial injustice they become aware of.

            A similar thing has happened with complaints about police violence. Has some of it become excessive? Sure. Have some fine, upstanding police officers been lumped in with the bad ones? Yes. Would it be better if we went back to the Always Trust the Men in Blue era? Ehn… I dunno about that.

          • vuzqk says:

            *correcting my earlier comment: Switzerland not Sweden

          • Brad says:

            @albatross11
            If I take your two posts together, I think we have some overlap. It’s my contention that notwithstanding some rhetoric to the contrary, Hispanics, and more accurately specific Hispanic groups, are politically speaking the same sort of phenomenon as the Irish and the Italians were. In your earlier comment you call that “big city ethnic politics” which is a fine name. I think that this is analytically separate from the racial politics surrounding African-Americans, and to go back to your original parent post that we are all posting under, not particularly dangerous. That’s even more so the case for the support on the left, if any, for the racial politics of East and South Asian communities. No immigrant group has as their fondest ambition to take a place along side African-Americans in the American hierarchy. They want to follow the path carved out by the Irish and/or the Jews.

            What we are really looking at here, as is almost always the case in America when it comes to race, is blacks and whites.

            And in those terms, I don’t think the argument you and some others are making that this is a unique moment in time is all that persuasive. In the 1960-70s there were actual black nationalists. It was the era when Kwanzaa was invented. The afro. Malcolm and Ali. Nor were the 80s or 90s some period of total racial harmony only to be shattered by leftist defectors. We had black-white racial tensions and animosities in the 60s-70s, 80s-90s, and we still do in the 00s-10s. We had professors writing abstruse things about race in all those eras. We had politicians both openly appealing to and dog whistling to those animosity in all those eras.

            Yes, it’s a real problem. But it din’t spring into existence when you or I came into political consciousness. It isn’t one part of a picayune college and twitter centered “culture war”. It is a major theme of American history and will continue long after everyone has forgotten what SJW was supposed to stand for.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Christopher Hazell

            One thing that drives me up the wall is that,
            in the US at least, obviously white people opened up the “racial identity” can of worms, centuries ago. Different races were given different (lack of) protection under the law.

            Isn’t that just human nature, though? Primates are tribal, and every society throughout history and prehistory has distinguished between “us” and “them.” The only thing perhaps unique among whites is their efforts to rid themselves of their own ethnic politics.

            I guess I’m saying I don’t think whites “opened the can of worms centuries ago.” The worms were never in a can, for anyone. The worms were always crawling around, infesting everything, everywhere, for everyone. The only thing whites have been doing with regards to the worms and the can is trying to force the worms into a can.

          • Deiseach says:

            from blogs, tumblrs, and twitter posts that some of you guys inexplicably endlessly seek out?

            Believe me, I don’t seek them out; I trip over ’em when otherwise trying to find and follow content on topics of interest to me.

            This is a big part of why I cherish SSC here; it’s possible for people to talk at length and in detail about (say) battleships without feeling the need to parade a particular list of “And here’s why A/B/C is so bad and problematic in their/its attitude to [insert culture war topic]!” (For example, I’d not be horribly surprised to find someone, somewhere had written about the Battle of Jutland with the slant on it that the British foul-ups were all the fault of not promoting enough naval captains from their imperial colonies where non-whites were the majority or something)*

            *Rhetorical exaggeration for the sake of effect! If you do indeed know of such a piece, for the love of Jove and all the little fishes, please don’t link me to it!

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Nornagest

            Native American identity politics were popular a couple decades ago but seem to have burned themselves out.

            They still simmer a bit here in Alaska, given we have the highest fraction of population of Natives of any state (19.4%), the Native Corporations, and the various mostly-Native villages throughout the state. (Particularly on issues of law enforcement and education.)

          • Brad says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            The only thing whites have been doing with regards to the worms and the can is trying to force the worms into a can.

            That must have been what Jim Crow was about, trying to create a colorblind society. Glad we cleared that up!

          • John Schilling says:

            As an aside, I agree with you about the cohesiveness of Hispanics as a political group. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans and Cubans (the three biggest groups) come from three quite different countries, have different interests and histories and problems, and there’s not a whole lot keeping them together politically.

            True, but see Chris Rock’s infamous rant on the conflict between black people and, uh, the other black people. Or look at the generally-unspoken but I am told quite real intra-black status ladder based on lightness of skin and straightness of hair. Or the subtribes of middle-class descendant of slaves, inner-city descendant of slaves, Afro-Carribean immigrant, and recent central African immigrant.

            I think there’s an element of “me and my brother against my cousin; me and my cousins against the world” in most identity politics. Including the white variety; “poor white trash” wasn’t invented as a term of pan-white-dude solidarity.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Brad

            That must have been what Jim Crow was about, trying to create a colorblind society. Glad we cleared that up!

            I was thinking more like the Civil Rights Act and the massive educational and cultural push in the US that racism is A Very Bad Things and perhaps The Very Worst Thing. Other people don’t seem to do this much. I don’t think the Japanese care much about insulting the Chinese or the Koreans and the feelings tend to be mutual.

          • bean says:

            For example, I’d not be horribly surprised to find someone, somewhere had written about the Battle of Jutland with the slant on it that the British foul-ups were all the fault of not promoting enough naval captains from their imperial colonies where non-whites were the majority or something

            So far as I know, that doesn’t exist, probably because the SJW crowd can’t be bothered to care about that kind of thing. But it’s a really amusing image. Of course, I wonder if we can tie HMS New Zealand (the only ship that carried out specifically nonwhite rituals, and which came out undamaged) into this somehow. Hmm….

          • Nornagest says:

            In the 1960-70s there were actual black nationalists.

            Still are. I’ve met a few Nation of Islam types; it’s really odd talking to someone who’s generally friendly and incredibly polite (seriously, they’ve got the Mormons beat there) but whose religion you know casts you as more or less literal devilspawn.

            They’ve got nowhere near the political prominence they did in the Seventies, though, or even in the Nineties. (This may appear inconsistent with some earlier posts in this thread; but like I said earlier, the racial politics albatross and I have been describing are mainly a Red/Blue Tribe phenomenon. That is, mainly white, although plenty of what SJ types would call “people of color” belong to those tribes too. Racial politics in black subcultures have followed a separate evolutionary path.)

          • Iain says:

            @Conrad Honcho:

            I was thinking more like the Civil Rights Act and the massive educational and cultural push in the US that racism is A Very Bad Things and perhaps The Very Worst Thing.

            Painting the Civil Rights movement as a thing that white people did is certainly an interesting choice. I seem to recall a handful of non-white people who played a role. As an example of white people trying to push worms back into cans, it lacks a certain something.

          • lvlln says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I guess I’m saying I don’t think whites “opened the can of worms centuries ago.” The worms were never in a can, for anyone. The worms were always crawling around, infesting everything, everywhere, for everyone. The only thing whites have been doing with regards to the worms and the can is trying to force the worms into a can.

            This seems true to me. From what I can tell, distrust/disdain of people of other races was basically the default and ubiquitous for basically the 1st 99% of human existence. And the great moral innovations of the past couple centuries came from convincing everyone that these worms infesting everything was a bad thing and that we should all put them into cans. I’m not sure it’s right to say that the whites were the ones trying to force the worms in the can, though – at best, maybe one can say that the whites happened to be the ones in power or happened to be the ones to stumble upon the idea of treating people as equals regardless of race. How and why whites happened to be in that position of power rather than any other race, I don’t know, but my guess is just luck of history.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Iain

            Painting the Civil Rights movement as a thing that white people did is certainly an interesting choice. I seem to recall a handful of non-white people who played a role. As an example of white people trying to push worms back into cans, it lacks a certain something.

            The nation that voted for the Civil Rights Act was 90% white. You seem to be implying that it was forced on this unwilling 90%. If it wasn’t the 90% white electorate, then who did it and how?

            Also, you said “back into cans.” When were the worms ever in the can? What were societies like before white people opened the can and let the worms of racism into the world? Multicultural rainbow of peace and tolerance and harmony was it?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @lvlln

            And the great moral innovations of the past couple centuries came from convincing everyone that these worms infesting everything was a bad thing and that we should all put them into cans. I’m not sure it’s right to say that the whites were the ones trying to force the worms in the can, though – at best, maybe one can say that the whites happened to be the ones in power or happened to be the ones to stumble upon the idea of treating people as equals regardless of race.

            I’m not sure it’s caught on very well in non-Western nations. I hear Singapore does a really good job of maintaining social order in a mixed religion society, but largely because they brutally crack down on anybody who insults any religion. And they apply it equally, to all religions.

            I don’t know enough about the legal systems in other nations to comment, but I understand David Friedman just wrote a book on the subject, so perhaps he can answer: how do non-western nations deal via their legal system (or cultural propaganda) with different outcomes for different ethnic groups? Do they do significantly worse or better than the west or the USA? Or do they even care?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The nation that voted for the Civil Rights Act was 90% white

            There was no national referendum. I am not sure one would have succeeded (look at the gay marriage referendum in California).

            I believe there were only 5 black congressmen in 1964.

            The almost universal white leadership were, as LBJ said, made to pass the CRA by the successes of the Civil Rights Movement in making clear the brutality of Jim Crow.

          • Iain says:

            @Conrad Honcho:

            Well, I would start by looking at the leadership of the Civil Rights movement, which was rather less than 90% white. Moral suasion from a campaign led primarily by black people convinced a sufficient fraction of white people to get the Civil Rights Act passed. Opposition was, obviously, almost entirely led by white people. Are you really trying to characterize that as “whites […] trying to force the worms into a can”?

            (Ignore my “back” into cans; it was just sloppy word choice.)

          • Aapje says:

            @Brad

            I don’t think that people are arguing that racial nirvana had been reached before SJ people came and ruined everything.

            Stereotyping and prejudice is part of the human mind and I would even argue, a logical consequence of the ability to think abstractly. Various studies show that very young children already can be very racist, which progressives generally attribute to society brainwashing children quickly, but which I would argue (also) simply arises in the absence of such. For proof, I offer that children frequently discriminate based on traits on which adults rarely discriminate each other, like red hair or wearing glasses. I’ve never heard a SJ person argue that red hair or wearing glasses are axis of oppression, strongly suggesting that very few adults are discriminated based on those.

            As such, I would argue that the best we can do is teach people to be aware of and minimize their natural impulses. I would argue that the evidence suggest that American society was going in the right direction. The election of Obama is one such piece of evidence, but also the substantial reduction in the number of whites who oppose a close relative marrying a black person and the whites who oppose living in a half-black neighborhood, as visible here. I would argue that integration by way of intermarriage and mutual living are hugely important to break down false stereotype and nuance true stereotypes, so those changes seem highly important.

            However, what we’ve seen recently is that racial segregation is being championed, for example, at some universities where racially segregate housing is demanded for ‘safety.’ So where once whites demanded racial segregation, which has been justly derided by progressives as retarding black advancement, we now see a move to do the same by some on the left. Similarly, I would argue that teaching racial awareness of discrimination (wokeness), with the claim that any feelings of discrimination are factually discrimination, leads to oversensitivity where many experiences that white people also have are falsely attributed to racial discrimination. There is strong evidence that humans are prone to finding false patterns, blaming scapegoats, blaming others for their own faults, etc. I would argue that teachings that feed this, without adding a counterbalance, are very dangerous.

            Do you agree that being falsely accused leads to resentment?

            If so, do you agree that resentment along racial lines fuels racism?

          • Brad says:

            @Deiseach

            Believe me, I don’t seek them out; I trip over ’em when otherwise trying to find and follow content on topics of interest to me.

            Sorry, I don’t particularly believe you. I live in NYC, a bastion of leftism, read a liberal daily, and listen to public radio. I’m as blue tribe as they come, I don’t have a single friend, relative, co-worker, or acquaintances of any kind that voted for Trump.

            Yet somehow I manage to avoid all these allegedly ubiquitous messages from “the media” that white men are cause of all the world’s problems and that any suffering we go through is either fake or a good thing. In fact the only place I go to where I see these sentiments are a regular basis is here, albeit as endless of strawmen and weakmen, rather than played straight.

            If I can manage to avoid it without even trying, y’all certainly could if you wanted to.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Iain

            Of course the Civil Rights movement was led by black people, but it wasn’t like black people conquered white people and forced them to not be racist against their will. White people, one at a time, chose to side with the Civil Rights movement. They decided collectively and individually that “racism is wrong” and that white people would change. They would change, they would change their neighbors, and they would change their children.

            You can’t change people against their will. They have to want to change. White people were way more racist than they are today, and that is because whites chose to change to be less racist (i.e., pick up the worms one at a time and cram them into that can). At extreme cost. How much time, how much money, how much blood has gone into the efforts, by white America to change white America? We’re not talking about a trivial change or lip service, but deep fundamental changes with life or death consequences that has taken decades and is still ongoing and will continue into the foreseeable future.

            I don’t think it’s fair then to deny white people credit for the Civil Rights Act and the ensuing cultural changes. If white people didn’t change themselves, who changed them? It was my white parents, and my white teachers, and my white friends at school who taught me not be racist. Who taught you?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Conrad Honcho:

            White people, one at a time, chose to side with the Civil Rights movement.

            Chose? Or were convinced?

            Or maybe some of the former and a great deal of the later?

            When you talk about “white people” in monolith like this, it very much comes off as the bully who beat you black and blue every day in middle school but did it less and less and eventually stopped. You had noticed that they went to Church and asked them what Jesus would think of them.

            Years later they takes credit for stopping that horrible bully from beating you

            In the abstract, it’s true that they were the ones who decided to stop beating you, they weren’t forced to, but it’s not fair for them to take credit for it either.

            And of course white people aren’t a monolith who can be credited with this thing wholesale (and the actions of black people made into an unimportant trivial detail). The story is far more complex than that.

            Mostly what we can say is that the US States (both individually and federally) imposed white supremacy on the land, to great ill effect and without complete remedy.

          • Iain says:

            @Conrad Honcho:

            There are two subtly different questions here.

            Q1. Do white people deserve credit for the Civil Rights Act?
            A1: Sure, some of them do, to the extent that said white people were actually in favour and supported it. There are obvious problems with assigning credit to the opponents of civil rights, but I assume you’re not trying to argue that.

            Q2: Does the credit for the Civil Rights Act go to white people?
            A2: No. The majority of the heavy lifting was done by black people; white people just had to go “huh, yeah, you’ve got a point, we should really stop being so racist”.

            Note that, at the time, this was not seen as a friendly exercise in avoiding identity politics and focusing on the content of a man’s character. Martin Luther King was a politically controversial rabble-rouser. The circumstances surrounding the writing of the Letter from Birmingham Jail, are a good example of the response he got.

            If you are buying worms by the canful and systematically dumping them on your neighbour’s head, and he engages in a long and frequently dangerous campaign to convince you that he does not deserve worms in his hair, then you should certainly be commended for ceasing your worm-based assault, but it’s a bit rich to simultaneously start painting yourself as a bold anti-worm crusader.

          • Nornagest says:

            I live in NYC, a bastion of leftism, read a liberal daily, and listen to public radio […] Yet somehow I manage to avoid all these allegedly ubiquitous messages from “the media” that white men are cause of all the world’s problems

            Not to put too fine a point on it, but fish are probably unaware of water. Isn’t one of the big points of intersectional social justice the idea that it’s really easy for cultural messaging to pass unnoticed among its perpetuators?

            Well, that’s you.

          • how do non-western nations deal via their legal system (or cultural propaganda) with different outcomes for different ethnic groups? Do they do significantly worse or better than the west or the USA? Or do they even care?

            I can’t speak to non-western systems in general but, so far as I can tell, most of the systems I looked at took different outcomes for different groups for granted, although “ethnic” might not be the right category.

            In Periclean Athens, for instance, famous as an exemplar of democracy, about half the population were slaves and some of the rest were metics, resident aliens with rights restricted in various ways.

            The Romany, at least the American Vlach Rom, the group I know most about, have words for male and female Romany, words for male and female not-Romany, but apparently no words that would cover both. Norms about how you are supposed to treat people only apply to Romany. Within the Vlach Rom there are four different Natsiya (“nations”), and different outcomes for different Natsiya are taken for granted.

          • Brad says:

            @Nornagest

            Isn’t one of the big points of intersectional social justice the idea that it’s really easy for cultural messaging to pass unnoticed among its perpetuators?

            I wouldn’t know.

            There’s two small groups of people that think it is super important and are hyper-aware of every little doctrinal nuance.

            Well, that’s you.

            You should have no problem quoting where I’ve said so then.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Brad is apparently the frog who no longer notices the boiling water.

            You don’t have to go out of your way to hear disparaging things about whites and white males especially. I’m involved with a bunch of literary communities and not two minutes ago an article on Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, which basically consists of her obsessive cataloging of all the alleged microagressions that have been committed against her and people she knows, showed up on my Facebook feed from a group dedicated to the poetry of Derek Walcott.

          • rlms says:

            Some might say being involved with literary communities is going out of your way.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Chose? Or were convinced?

            What’s the difference?

            In the abstract, it’s true that they were the ones who decided to stop beating you, they weren’t forced to, but it’s not fair for them to take credit for it either.

            It is, however, unfair to deny said former bullies any credit for the cessation of bullying, and worse continue to accuse them of inventing bullying itself, whilst every other schoolyard since the beginning of time and continuing to this day is rife with unrepentant bullies.

            The natural state of man is tribal. This is evidenced by our history dominated entirely by stories of tribes murdering each other. And modern chimpanzees form tribes, and rip the members of other tribes limb from limb (literally). There is no chimp KKK forcing it on them. It’s just a natural survival mechanism to support animals similar to you and be wary of/hostile to animals different from you. Those animals that did not do this did not survive.

            You said “stop bullying,” as if it’s an active, needlessly cruel thing one has chosen to do that they have to simply “stop.” No, racism is a passive, natural thing, that one must actively oppose. If all you had to do was “stop being racist,” it would be incredibly easy and would not have cost all the time, money, blood and tears.

            I think your argument only makes sense if you believe the default state is anti-racist, because then going from “evil” to “normal” is, yes, unworthy of recognition. If you think the default state of man is racist, then going from “normal” to “good” is worthy of consideration, or at least unworthy of derision. Do you think the default state of man is racist, or anti-racist?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @manwhoisthursday

            microagressions

            I cannot wait until we win the war on microaggressions so we can finally address these interminable nanoaggressions.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Iain

            If you are buying worms by the canful and systematically dumping them on your neighbour’s head, and he engages in a long and frequently dangerous campaign to convince you that he does not deserve worms in his hair, then you should certainly be commended for ceasing your worm-based assault, but it’s a bit rich to simultaneously start painting yourself as a bold anti-worm crusader.

            Which came first, the can or the worms?

          • albatross11 says:

            It seems kind-of hopeless to parcel out the responsibility for either good or bad things to racial groups as a whole. Some whites had a huge hand in passing the civil rights act, desegregating the schools, sending the national guard to enforce desegregating the schools, and wrecking their political party’s century-old coalition to do so. Other whites stood aside and didn’t care one way or another. Still other whites resisted that process every step of the way. Some whites even *murdered* people campaigning for civil rights. Similarly, some blacks led the fight for civil rights; others endured all kinds of nastiness to get civil rights; still others did nothing but collect the benefits. That’s the normal way things are when you talk about really large groups of people.

            There’s neither guilt nor credit to be had for whole racial groups. I no more get to claim credit for the actions of the white guys who fought for civil rights than I must accept blame for the actions of the white guys who fought against civil rights. Those were all done by other people, whose main connection to me is that they looked a little like me.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Some might say being involved with literary communities is going out of your way.

            This is kind of the point: if you want to avoid the “hate the white man” stuff, you pretty much have to avoid all contact with anything related to the humanities. Maybe if you’re only interested in STEM subjects, or jockish activities, you can avoid that stuff, but even so.

          • Brad says:

            Brad is apparently the frog who no longer notices the boiling water.

            Or perhaps you’re oversensitive, paranoid and revel in outrage and resentment.

            As long as we are just throwing things out there.

          • Or perhaps different people are in different environments.

            I have no first hand experience of discrimination against me for being male and white, but that doesn’t mean that others don’t face such experience.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I grew up in that generation, too, and things seemed fine to me, too. But talking to blacks and other minorities, it turns out that a lot of bad shit still happened, it just stayed silent because it wasn’t okay to talk about it. So now they’re trying a different tack: Make noise about every possible and potential racial injustice they become aware of.

            Which is stupid, because things were clearly getting better then – imperfect, but improving – and now they’re getting worse.

            And look, it’s one thing to be vocal about racial injustice. But at this point they’re actively seeking it out. “Possible” racial injustice? That ends up being “you wore a hairstyle we adopted” or “you wore a hat”, i.e. cultural appropriation. It ends up being non-racist statements which are in some way insensitive. It ends up meaning that you can’t even address racist arguments and reject them soundly because you’ve already shown yourself willing to understand the racist argument and that kiiiiiinda makes you racist too, so instead just reject the arguments out of hand which totally fails on the level of convincing people but works great on the level of feeling good about yourself.

            I’m not going to say 80s-90s were great. But if we were still acting like that, we could have something beautiful going on. I know that because most people do still act like that and we mostly do. I want to keep that.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Oh yeah, sorry to double post, but

            Would it be better if we went back to the Always Trust the Men in Blue era? Ehn… I dunno about that.

            Thing is, it’s not even so much about excessively lumping in all police officers, as it is about murders of black men rising (and I believe murders of police as well). So, I mean, more black people would be alive if we went back to that era. But maybe we wouldn’t feel as good about it. I prefer the former, at this point.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Oh blow me, Brad. One minute you’re saying that anti-white male trash talk is hard to find, and when, if you’re interested in the humanities, that turns out to be obviously untrue, you say we’re oversensitive.

            David, I doubt that white males face that much outright discrimination, though there is the issue of affirmative action. However, if you’re much interested in the humanities, it’s hard to avoid constant insults directed towards white people and white males in particular. Your experience in economics may be different.

          • Aapje says:

            The micro-aggression argument is that a constant barrage of ‘othering’ comments causes psychological damage, especially in the form of anger, frustration or exhaustion. “Over time, the cumulative effect of micro-aggressions is thought to lead to diminished self-confidence and a poor self-image, and potentially also to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.”
            Source

            I think that it is pretty clear that ‘othering’ happens quite a lot to white men nowadays, often to an extent that can be more correctly called macro-aggressions. My newspaper regularly features the ‘angry white man’ slur, for example. In my eyes, this slur intends to portray white man as irrationally angry, implying that the causality is unreasonable anger -> find fairly random targets to blame; rather than that they have specific objections and their anger is specifically about this. The latter framing requires that the actual complaints are examined, while the former frame allows them to simply be dismissed.

            Other people who have complaints/demands are not dismissed as being ‘angry,’ although they frequently are angry.

          • Your experience in economics may be different.

            Dierdre McCloskey claims that when he told his chairman of his plans, the response was “Great. I get one more woman, one fewer man, and I don’t have to hire or fire anyone.” And I remember a comment long ago in a different university about a possible hire, call her Jane: “This is one we would want even if her name was John.”

            So there is affirmative action hiring in economics, both by gender and race, which some approve of and some don’t. But I haven’t encountered any attitude of hostility to white males.

            Economics is its own ideology, orthogonal to conventional left/right divisions. Paul Douglas was a prominent economist who ended up as a Democratic senator. I remember my father commenting that when he testified before the Joint Economic Committee it would end up with him and Douglas vs the rest of the committee. I had a similar experience on a smaller scale once as the expert witness for one side helping to depose the other side’s expert. He and I spoke the same language.

      • Reasoner says:

        As for the white male racism, I admit it’s really annoying, but I think it’s important enough to deploy good genetic engineering before something kills us that I’m willing to temporarily sacrifice the cause of making annoying people shut up.

        What if genetically engineered people are what kills us? We all know high-IQ misanthropes. Humans behave in a “speciest” way towards less intelligent non-human animals like monkeys and pigs. Homo Sapiens may have slaughtered less sophisticated species like the Neanderthals early in our history. We seem to explicitly accept a value system where intelligent beings deserve greater moral consideration: see e.g. scientists calling for greater rights for dolphins on the basis of their high intelligence.

        I worry about selection effects. When we think of geniuses, we think of people like Feynman and Von Neumann. Those people are “high-functioning geniuses”. But there’s also a big “dark matter” pool of lower-functioning, sometimes misanthropic geniuses.

        Why are we working to identify genes for intelligence but not altruism? Why are we working to produce geniuses before figuring out how to bring them up? Grady Towers recommends surrounding them with intellectual peers. But if Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart is correct, this kind of cognitive stratification is exactly what put America in its current precarious political situation. People in the comments of this blog have hypothesized that Blue America’s contempt for Red America’s low intelligence is a key part of the problem.

        • albatross11 says:

          As an aside, I don’t know about genetic studies, but there is a rich literature in trying to understand how altruism[1] could have evolved. I’ve only scratched the surface of this literature, but it’s something that a lot of very smart people have spent a lot of time thinking about.

          My very strong suspicion is that there is a lot of impact of upbringing and environment on how willing you are to seek more cooperative vs competitive strategies, whether you default to defect/defect or tit-for-tat, etc. But there’s probably also some genetic influence.

          [1] Though evolutionary biologists define altruism a little differently than we’d do in daily conversation.

    • Andrew Klaassen says:

      I’m intensely interested in knowing whether the achievement gap really is the result of white people behaving badly or whether the left has been grotesquely slandering the proverbial stale pale male.

      I spend a lot of time talking with people on the left. It’s not, in general, about white people behaving badly – though that does come up now and again – but white people don’t have to behave badly in order to a) benefit from the current system and b) contribute to the harms caused to non-whites by the current system. If almost everybody – both whites and non-whites – have an unconscious bias in favour of white/male/tall/attractive, the person benefiting from that doesn’t have to do anything wrong in order to get a prestigious, well-paying job that probably should’ve gone to a more qualified non-white/female/short/ugly person.

      How did the system – and our unconscious biases – get that way? It might not have anything to do with white males behaving badly now – though that does happen now and again – but it definitely has something to do with white males behaving badly in the past. Primitive accumulation and all that.

      There’s also an argument that the achievement gap is being reinforced – made worse, even – by the educational frenzy of upper-middle class parents with their competitive kindergartens and million-dollar school fundraising efforts and massive tuition increases and all that. They won’t be able to completely pull the drawbridge up behind themselves, but they’re certainly trying. “We’re only trying to help our own children… what could possibly be wrong with that?”

      FWIW, I’m a white male, and I’ve definitely benefited throughout my career from implicit biases in my favour. It’s not that I’ve sucked at my jobs, but I’ve been given opportunities to prove myself where other people would’ve had to prove themselves before being given the opportunity. If there’s anything which has held me – and a lot of resentful white men I know – back, it has been social anxiety, which, thankfully, is eminently treatable. Self-treatable, even.

      The underlying moral question, for me: If you’re not doing anything wrong, but something wrong is being done on your behalf, and you know about it, what are you morally obligated to do? What if it’s even being done for you by the people it’s harming?

      • Ilya Shpitser says:

        Yup, this is one thing I learned about the US: even a first generation immigrant from Eastern Europe like myself, who had nothing whatsoever to do with dysfunctional history of the US, can still end up embedded into a complicated social context in such a way that unfairness happens.

      • The Nybbler says:

        None of my family was in this country before 1865 (1897 is the earliest I can find). None of my ancestors who lived in this country lived in the South. Whatever was done to black people in America, I didn’t do it and furthermore they didn’t do it. And I’d reject ancestral guilt in any case. I didn’t do it, and putting that burden on me because I share a skin color (roughly) with those who did is out and out racism.

        Have I benefited from implicit biases in my favor? I don’t know, obviously. Nor do I know if I’ve been harmed from implicit biases against me. Implicit bias research has had its share of replication issues. I’m certainly not going to accept as a given that I’ve gotten some undeserved benefit (and no undeserved detriment) as a result of my appearance, and that therefore I’m obligated to self-abase in favor of those who presumably got the opposite..

        • Andrew Klaassen says:

          I didn’t do it, and putting that burden on me because I share a skin color (roughly) with those who did is out and out racism.

          My preference: Try to make sure that the playing field is actually balanced. I don’t think that’s a burden, or racism; it’s just fairness.

          My ancestors were discriminated against; I think we were second-lowest on the list of acceptable white immigrants. We even had the Klu Klux Klan speaking out against us, and a brief immigration ban. No ancestral guilt here. That doesn’t mean that I don’t unfairly benefit from how things have changed since then.

          I’m certainly not going to accept as a given that I’ve gotten some undeserved benefit (and no undeserved detriment) as a result of my appearance, and that therefore I’m obligated to self-abase in favor of those who presumably got the opposite.

          There’s no need to accept it as a given. I think there’s an obligation to try to find out if it has probably (or probably not) happened, though, and at least contemplate it. (This is where my left-wing friends would look at me sideways: “Just contemplate it? And don’t do anything about it? Because you benefit from it? Typical…”)

          • The Nybbler says:

            My preference: Try to make sure that the playing field is actually balanced. I don’t think that’s a burden, or racism; it’s just fairness.

            And how do you measure this and how do you do the balancing? From where I sit, the playing field is actually unbalanced the other way, and not implicitly but blatantly. Preferences in college admissions, preferences in certain jobs, respectable organizations pushing for benefits for other races. When HR or an executive search committee talks about “looking for diversity candidates”, that means “anyone who isn’t a white male”.

            That doesn’t mean that I don’t unfairly benefit from how things have changed since then.

            Things have indeed changed: They’ve gotten far better for black people. But pointing this out gets arguments about the legacy of slavery, the legacy of Jim Crow, the legacy of discrimination. And of course those legacies will never go away, because the past is unchanging.

          • Stepping back from the particular issues here, I’m interested in the idea of “undeserved benefit.”

            In any society, many benefits are undeserved. Most obviously, Americans, both black and white, have the immense undeserved benefit of being born in a developed country instead of, say, Poland in the 12th century or Nigeria today. Anyone with loving and able parents has the undeserved benefit of having had them. Not being mugged or murdered is an undeserved benefit. Being born with genes for a healthy heart, without genetic diseases, … are all undeserved benefits.

            Is the implicit theory that we want to create a world in which everyone gets what he deserves. If so what would that look like and how could one imagine creating it, save by an omniscient and all powerful deity?

            The alternative, which seems to me to make much more sense, is a world where everyone gets what he is entitled to, which is not at all the same thing. If something belongs to you and you give it to me I am entitled to have it, whether or not I deserve to. That comes closer to being a well defined outcome, although there are obviously still problems, and one that human institutions might get close to producing.

          • My preference: Try to make sure that the playing field is actually balanced. I don’t think that’s a burden, or racism; it’s just fairness.

            The unbalance in the metaphorical playing field is much larger as between a random American and a random Indian or African than between two random Americans, so why is it the latter you focus on?

          • Jiro says:

            Because I have a terminal preference for balancing the field among Americans, but not between Americans and non-Americans?

          • alchemy29 says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I’ll concede I do not have a philosophical justification for caring about equity between Americans more than between Americans and non-Americans. My best shot is that I have no control over what other countries do with their policies and that having separate nation states with self determination has seemed to work well in the world for preventing conflict and for other reasons. For your other points:

            Anyone with loving and able parents has the undeserved benefit of having had them

            Public education, child protective services, good mental health services, school lunch programs. Not a complete substitute for good parents (or even close), but at least an attempt at equalizing.

            Not being mugged or murdered is an undeserved benefit.

            The justice system, personal injury law and homicide victim benefits all exist as a way of trying to create fairness out of these situations.

            Being born with genes for a healthy heart, without genetic diseases, … are all undeserved benefits.

            This is the best argument for universal health insurance.

          • caethan says:

            @DavidFriedman

            May God save each and every one of us from getting what we deserve.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @The Nybbler

            And how do you measure this and how do you do the balancing?

            Both good questions. How would you do it? Let’s say that you don’t want to be blinded by either your own preconceptions or those of others. What gold-standard experiment would you design to measure the amount and direction of bias?

            I work in the 3D animation industry, which immediately suggests an idea to me: Motion-capture someone describing their job history and skills, and then apply it, Andy Serkis-and-Gollum-like, to models of different ethnic groups and levels of attractiveness. Have large numbers of job interviewers rate the generated candidates. From the ratings, you should be able to construct a correction function that you’d apply, sports-betting-spread-like, to hiring decisions.

            (How this would all work in practise is left as an exercise to the reader.)

            From where I sit, the playing field is actually unbalanced the other way, and not implicitly but blatantly. Preferences in college admissions, preferences in certain jobs, respectable organizations pushing for benefits for other races. When HR or an executive search committee talks about “looking for diversity candidates”, that means “anyone who isn’t a white male”.

            But what’s your own personal experience? Have you encountered any implicit biases – or outright prejudice – at work or in your social life, and who did it favour?

            I’ve read about all the things you’re talking about, but I’ve rarely encountered them in real life, on the job. The real-life biases I’ve encountered have almost always been in the direction suggested by the left-wing research, to the point that it’s boring and routine. It’s not as bad as it was when I was growing up, but it’s still there.

            Things have indeed changed: They’ve gotten far better for black people. But pointing this out gets arguments about the legacy of slavery, the legacy of Jim Crow, the legacy of discrimination. And of course those legacies will never go away, because the past is unchanging.

            In my ancestors’ case, there was a legacy of discrimination. In our case, the past hasn’t changed, but the legacy has pretty much disappeared. Now, I’m just another white guy. In large part, that’s because we didn’t go through anything nearly so extended and traumatic as slavery and Jim Crow and redlining and all that. Not much trauma – short healing and recovery time. Massive historical trauma? It’s gonna take a while.

            If someone’s broken bone is half-healed, you could tell them, “Why aren’t you back on the rugby field? Your bone is much better than it was! What’s wrong with you, you wimp??” But that ignores the fact that “much better” doesn’t equal “fully healed”.

            Is that a fair argument?

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Is the implicit theory that we want to create a world in which everyone gets what he deserves.

            That’s a really interesting question. I’ve been thinking about it – or a closely related question, anyway – ever since I read that the guy who coined the term “meritocracy” meant it as a dystopia. If my assumptions seem a little muddled, that’s because they are; I haven’t yet worked out what I think about it.

            If so what would that look like and how could one imagine creating it, save by an omniscient and all powerful deity?

            We never create the better worlds that we imagine, do we? We just try to inch closer to them, one way or another, and we have to be satisfied with having – hopefully – made some small part of the world a bit better.

            The alternative, which seems to me to make much more sense, is a world where everyone gets what he is entitled to, which is not at all the same thing. If something belongs to you and you give it to me I am entitled to have it, whether or not I deserve to. That comes closer to being a well defined outcome, although there are obviously still problems, and one that human institutions might get close to producing.

            Have you read Amartya Sen’s (Nobel Prize-contributing) Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation? He talks about exchange entitlement and famine. One classic example is the shipping of grain out of Ireland during the potato famine. The Irish were not entitled to the grain – they did not own it and were unable to buy it – so they starved. That seems like an undesirable outcome, doesn’t it? And yet it’s perfectly fine by the moral standards of ownership and exchange entitlement, and the English who were in charge were happy to make that argument and enforce that moral viewpoint.

            Entitlement is a reasonable way to organize things most of the time, but, like most good ideas, it shows its flaws when it’s insisted on under all circumstances.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @DavidFriedman

            The unbalance in the metaphorical playing field is much larger as between a random American and a random Indian or African than between two random Americans, so why is it the latter you focus on?

            Being concerned about one doesn’t preclude being concerned about both, does it?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Motion-capture someone describing their job history and skills

            Clever, but impractical. And if it came out with the wrong answer, the claim would just be that people were responding to the privileged mannerisms of the privileged group which came through the motion capture. I know of two attempts to do something similar; one the gender-reversed Trump debate (in which female-Trump did _better_ against male-Hillary) and the interviewing.io voice masking experiment, which came up with a null result for male-versus-female.

            But what’s your own personal experience? Have you encountered any implicit biases – or outright prejudice – at work or in your social life, and who did it favour?

            Oh yes, blatant prejudice and hatred directed against white males. I’ve had this playing field discussion before; I was told that the playing field was SO tilted towards white males that literally no measure against white males could even begin to balance it.

            Now, I’m just another white guy. In large part, that’s because we didn’t go through anything nearly so extended and traumatic as slavery and Jim Crow and redlining and all that.

            Ah, redlining. Funny thing…. during the time FHA redlining was in effect, my family, all my direct ancestors in the US, lived in areas designated either red or yellow.

            Not much trauma – short healing and recovery time. Massive historical trauma? It’s gonna take a while.

            Oh, and did I mention my mother’s side of the family is Jewish? To be fair, I can’t claim the Holocaust any more than Obama can claim slavery, but it’s not like the history of Jewish persecution started with Hitler.

            If someone’s broken bone is half-healed, you could tell them, “Why aren’t you back on the rugby field? Your bone is much better than it was! What’s wrong with you, you wimp??” But that ignores the fact that “much better” doesn’t equal “fully healed”.

            We’re talking about different people. There are no former legal US slaves alive today. And if these benefits and detriments are due to past harms being transmitted across generations rather than being due to the current situation, how is it that white people whose ancestors had nothing to do with it somehow get the benefits, and black people whose families were similarly unaffected get the detriments?

            Furthermore, if the problem is not a tilted playing field now but damage to the players from generations back, what good does it do to try to even things out? Does this not merely perpetuate the harm? You broke my grandfather’s right knee, I break your right knee, maybe your kid breaks my grandkid’s right knee? What does that accomplish?

          • cassander says:

            @Andrew Klaassen says:

            Have you read Amartya Sen’s (Nobel Prize-contributing) Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation? He talks about exchange entitlement and famine. One classic example is the shipping of grain out of Ireland during the potato famine. The Irish were not entitled to the grain – they did not own it and were unable to buy it – so they starved. That seems like an undesirable outcome, doesn’t it? And yet it’s perfectly fine by the moral standards of ownership and exchange entitlement, and the English who were in charge were happy to make that argument and enforce that moral viewpoint.

            Sen also claims Mao as the greatest humanitarian in history. his work is EXTREMELY suspect and prone to completely ignore context in order to prove his ideological points. This is no exception. The british did not just happen to own all potatoes in ireland by some freak accident, or even by the working of capitalism. They owned them because they spent literally centuries using the power of the state to deliberately impoverish as many of the native irish as they could. These policies persisted until the late 18th century, some well into the 19th. the irish famine was not a product of “entitlement” or capitalism, it was a product of 3 centuries of british colonial policy.

          • John Schilling says:

            The british did not just happen to own all potatoes in ireland by some freak accident, or even by the working of capitalism.

            Nit: Pretty sure the British didn’t bother to own any of the potatoes in Ireland. They just made sure to own almost everything edible that wasn’t a potato, on account of the other stuff was actually profitable to export.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @The Nybbler

            I know of two attempts to do something similar; one the gender-reversed Trump debate (in which female-Trump did _better_ against male-Hillary) and the interviewing.io voice masking experiment, which came up with a null result for male-versus-female.

            The interviewing.io thing is exactly what I’m looking for – thanks for pointing me to that.

            Oh yes, blatant prejudice and hatred directed against white males. I’ve had this playing field discussion before; I was told that the playing field was SO tilted towards white males that literally no measure against white males could even begin to balance it.

            Fair enough. I’ve only ever heard things like that from cranks, not from anybody who’d have any impact on my career or social life. But we all have different experiences, and I admit that mine are limited to me.

            Ah, redlining. Funny thing…. during the time FHA redlining was in effect, my family, all my direct ancestors in the US, lived in areas designated either red or yellow.

            Oh, and did I mention my mother’s side of the family is Jewish? To be fair, I can’t claim the Holocaust any more than Obama can claim slavery, but it’s not like the history of Jewish persecution started with Hitler.

            I’ve got a pogrom or two in my ancestry, too, though nothing to compare with the history of Jewish persecution. : – )

            We’re talking about different people. There are no former legal US slaves alive today. And if these benefits and detriments are due to past harms being transmitted across generations rather than being due to the current situation, how is it that white people whose ancestors had nothing to do with it somehow get the benefits, and black people whose families were similarly unaffected get the detriments?

            In my experience, the answer is pretty obvious: Stereotypes get applied which have nothing to do with a particular individual’s particular history.

            Have you not seen that in action? (Even if the stereotype you’ve personally been affected by is “white guys suck”?)

            Furthermore, if the problem is not a tilted playing field now but damage to the players from generations back, what good does it do to try to even things out? Does this not merely perpetuate the harm? You broke my grandfather’s right knee, I break your right knee, maybe your kid breaks my grandkid’s right knee? What does that accomplish?

            I guess I don’t see the attempt to correct for bias as being the same as harming someone who would otherwise benefit from the bias. My experience leads me to believe that the playing field is still tilted, though, which means that we’ll talk past each other to some degree; if you don’t believe that there’s still some tilt (and maybe there isn’t where you live), I can see how you’d come to your position.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @cassander

            Sen also claims Mao as the greatest humanitarian in history.

            That’s one I haven’t heard before. Could you point me to a reference? All I’m finding is that Sen once praised the “barefoot doctor” system that Mao put in place during the Cultural Revolution.

            his work is EXTREMELY suspect and prone to completely ignore context in order to prove his ideological points. This is no exception. The british did not just happen to own all potatoes in ireland by some freak accident, or even by the working of capitalism. They owned them because they spent literally centuries using the power of the state to deliberately impoverish as many of the native irish as they could. These policies persisted until the late 18th century, some well into the 19th. the irish famine was not a product of “entitlement” or capitalism, it was a product of 3 centuries of british colonial policy.

            Sen was arguing that most modern famines don’t happen because of food shortages, but because of power relationships. In the famine that affected his childhood and got him interested in the question, the power relationships were kept in place by British free market rules. They weren’t created that way – as in Ireland, colonial actions (I hesitate to say colonial “policy” in the case of India, given the whole history with the East India Company) created the power relationships – but the maintenance of British dominance into the 20th century and the famines that resulted were given a moral gloss by using strictly applied free market principles. “You don’t own it; you can’t eat it.”

            Sen’s prescription was democracy; one of his major claims is that famines don’t happen in democracies. What do you think of that? If the Irish had the vote, would people have died during the famine?

          • On the question of exporting Grain during the potato famine.

            I may be mistaken, but the account I saw was that they were exporting grain and importing maize, which produced a net gain in calories. It may be wrong, but you can’t simply take an emotionally telling factoid at face value without knowing more.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I may be mistaken, but the account I saw was that they were exporting grain and importing maize, which produced a net gain in calories. It may be wrong, but you can’t simply take an emotionally telling factoid at face value without knowing more.

            I haven’t had a chance to do much searching, but I have found one mention of it near the bottom of this extended discussion of some of the stories that grew up around the famine:

            “…it is only fair to point out that the newspapers contain a strong indication that the cargoes of the Porcupine and the Ann were trade goods, not charity; they were consigned to local merchants based in Louth and Meath, who it might be expected would sell them rather than give them away. Speculation in imported corn, moreover, was scarcely unheard-of two years into the Great Famine…”

          • The Nybbler says:

            In my experience, the answer is pretty obvious: Stereotypes get applied which have nothing to do with a particular individual’s particular history.

            This claim is in conflict with the “broken leg” analogy. This claim is that people are discriminated against today, and has nothing (directly) to do with slavery, redlining, Jim Crow, or any of the rest of it. The “broken leg” analogy suggests something different, that even if the playing field is level (or tilted the other way) today, that the players who were (or whose ancestors were) subject to discrimination and oppression in the past are at a disadvantage today. It’s possible that both are the case, but they need to be evaluated separately.

            I guess I don’t see the attempt to correct for bias as being the same as harming someone who would otherwise benefit from the bias.

            If the bias is _current_ bias, and if you can measure the bias and accurately correct for it. it’s different. But if that doesn’t hold, you can’t. And I would argue it does not hold. The remedies and proposed remedies are all too ham-handed, and the bias can’t be accurately measured in any case. If you “correct for bias” by biasing the game in favor of the (black) son of a wealthy Kenyan immigrant over the son of a white sharecropper, you’ve done nobody any good.

          • cassander says:

            @Andrew

            Sen on Mao:

            “compared with China’s rapid increase in life expectancy in the Mao era, the capitalist experiment in India could be said to have caused 4 million excess deaths a year since India’s independence…India seems to manage to fill its cupboard with more skeletons every eight years than China put there in its years of shame, 1958-61.”

            This is, of course, nonsense. Chinese LE rose after Mao took over because china pre-Mao started the largest civil war in history, was invaded by the Japanese, then finished the largest civil war in history. Mao doesn’t get credit for saving lives he was ending through his civil war.

            Sen was arguing that most modern famines don’t happen because of food shortages, but because of power relationships.

            this is not false, but also not really meaningful. There exists in the world enough food to feed everyone, the trouble is how you deliver it. Capitalism has a centuries long record of delivering food to people who need it, there has never been a famine anywhere because someone bought up all the food. the closest you get to famines in capitalist societies are Ireland, where capitalism was just beginning to merge after centuries of brutal colonialism, and 1940s India, which was nominally capitalist, but in the middle of a world war where the Japanese invaded burma and stole all the rice that used to be exported to bengal. Neither can be attributed to capitalism.

            In the famine that affected his childhood and got him interested in the question, the power relationships were kept in place by British free market rules.

            Again, there was nothing free market about the bengal famine. It was caused by the japanese invading Burma and stealing all the rice to feed their armies.

            Sen’s prescription was democracy; one of his major claims is that famines don’t happen in democracies. What do you think of that? If the Irish had the vote, would people have died during the famine?

            The Venezuelans had the vote, and they’re starving. It’s capitalism that prevents famine, not democracy.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            Thanks for the link. The BBC has a summary of the famine which says that there was a food shortage in 1846-7, but grain imports increased dramatically after 1847 and there was “an absolute sufficiency of food that could have prevented mass starvation, if it had been properly distributed so as to reach the smallholders and labourers of the west and the south of Ireland.” The link you provided focuses on the shortages in the same years as the BBC does, though it goes one year earlier: 1845-7. So both sources appear to agree on the timing of the absolute food shortage portion of the famine.

            So the “artificial” famine was 1848-1852, when problems of distribution – of food, money, or power, depending on your point of view – led to continuing needless death.

            Wikipedia says that other sources of nutrition were also shipped out of Ireland: “Irish exports of calves, livestock (except pigs), bacon, and ham actually increased during the Famine. … A wide variety of commodities left Ireland during 1847, including peas, beans, onions, rabbits, salmon, oysters, herring, lard, honey, tongues, animal skins, rags, shoes, soap, glue, and seed … 822,681 imperial gallons (3,739,980 litres) of butter exported to England from Ireland during nine months of the worst year of the Famine.”

            If I’m doing my math correctly on the butter numbers, that’s approximately enough calories to keep 40,000 people alive for a year. (Yes, I know, you can’t feed people only butter, and that butter has storage and transport challenges. : – ) Because of the high price of butter calories (and the other calorie source exports mentioned) that presumably could’ve been (was?) traded for a much higher number of grain calories, though grain prices were high that year and I’ve got no idea what the calorie price conversion rate would be. In any event, that was in 1847, and the political/economic/ideological famine happened in 1848-52.

          • baconbacon says:

            Sounds like the BBC needs to read some Hayek.

            “an absolute sufficiency of food that could have prevented mass starvation, if it had been properly distributed so as to reach the smallholders and labourers of the west and the south of Ireland.”

            This is a conceit of the state/historians, you cannot look at where people suffered and then come to the conclusion that with “proper distribution” it would have been alleviated.

          • rlms says:

            @baconbacon
            So the Holodomor was inevitable, and the Soviets should not be blamed for it?

      • cassander says:

        This argument is premised on the assumption that that you’ve gotten opportunities others wouldn’t have……and they didn’t. the first part of this statement is unquestionably true, the second is extremely suspect. Life is not fair, and at some point everyone gets chances they don’t deserve and everyone eventually misses out on something they did deserve. The left wing argument implicitly assumes that the balance sheet is so massively tilted that every white person, especially every white male, no matter his circumstances, is coming out ahead.

        Now, maybe that’s the case, maybe it isn’t, but the left makes almost zero effort to actually demonstrate this. In my experience, they consider even asking the question deeply suspect. Given that for decades now the left has been winning political arguments and enacting policies they claim will address these policies, I am left with one of two conclusions. (A) They’re right about the balance sheet, in which case their decades of policy have achieved very little and they have thus disqualified themselves from future policy making by gross failure. (B) They’re wrong about the balance sheet in which case they have solutions for a non-existent problems that just happen to give them money, political power, and prestige. Either way, I don’t feel inclined to listen to their “solutions.”

        • Andrew Klaassen says:

          The left wing argument implicitly assumes that the balance sheet is so massively tilted that every white person, especially every white male, no matter his circumstances, is coming out ahead.

          In my observation – and I may well be wrong – things have gotten better, but we’re not there yet. At one time, the table for prestigious jobs was tilted 100% in favour of white males – and that didn’t include the Irish or the Jews. Now maybe it’s – let me pull a number out of my ass – 60-40 or 55-45 in favour of white males, all else being equal. (All else is rarely equal, of course.) That doesn’t put every white male ahead all the time, but it’s enough to cause systemic unfairness when it comes to prestigious, well-paying jobs.

          I’ve only got anecdata, but I’ve been on both sides of the hiring table multiple times. What I’ve seen of biases, stereotypes, and occasional outright prejudice fits what the research has found. Am I seeing what I expect to see because of confirmation bias? That’s possible, of course.

          I am left with one of two conclusions. (A) They’re right about the balance sheet, in which case their decades of policy have achieved very little and they have thus disqualified themselves from future policy making by gross failure. (B) They’re wrong about the balance sheet in which case they have solutions for a non-existent problems that just happen to give them money, political power, and prestige.

          I’d suggest the opposite – they’ve gotten us this far, despite pushback and “surely this is far enough!” objections going all the way back to slavery, so why not let them have another go-round or two and see if we can’t get even closer to the ideal of a level playing field? : – )

          • At one time, the table for prestigious jobs was tilted 100% in favour of white males – and that didn’t include the Irish or the Jews.

            You don’t say when you are talking about. Discrimination against Jews in college admission existed at least into the 1920’s and probably later. But the tilt did not actually result in Jews being blocked out of prestigious jobs–they ended up doing very well by that measure.

            So I think you have to distinguish the question of whether prejudice existed from the question of how much effect it had.

            Suppose you are part of a minority of 5% of the population. Further suppose that 50% of the population are strongly prejudiced against you, unlikely to hire you, buy from you, do you any favors.

            The effect of that prejudice will be small, because the other fifty percent can provide all the jobs and customers you need.

          • cassander says:

            In my observation – and I may well be wrong – things have gotten better, but we’re not there yet. At one time, the table for prestigious jobs was tilted 100% in favour of white males – and that didn’t include the Irish or the Jews. Now maybe it’s – let me pull a number out of my ass – 60-40 or 55-45 in favour of white males, all else being equal.

            I can accept this argument, but I hear very few people on the left making it, much less following it up with the logical conclusion, maybe left wing politics should focus less on issues of race and gender and more on other sorts of balance sheets.

            >I’d suggest the opposite – they’ve gotten us this far, despite pushback and “surely this is far enough!” objections going all the way back to slavery, so why not let them have another go-round or two and see if we can’t get even closer to the ideal of a level playing field? : –

            I the rhetoric were “we’re almost there, equality is just around the next bend” this argument might be plausible., but that’s not what I’m hearing. If anything, the level of rhetoric seems inversely proportional to actual state of the balance sheet.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            I can accept this argument, but I hear very few people on the left making it, much less following it up with the logical conclusion, maybe left wing politics should focus less on issues of race and gender and more on other sorts of balance sheets.

            Class comes up a lot, and of course the intersection of All The Things, though one thing about the left is that it’s always fighting with itself about which liberation battle is most important next. What usually happens – and this is on both the left and the right, I’ve noticed – is that people mostly focus on the balance sheets on which they think they’re losing out. Everybody is looking up and seeing assholes, never mind their own shit.

            If anything, the level of rhetoric seems inversely proportional to actual state of the balance sheet.

            The rhetoric has gone up and down. Abolitionists raised it higher (with good reason) than anything I’ve heard lately.

          • cassander says:

            @Andrew Klaassen says:

            >Class comes up a lot, and of course

            as an additional thing to be concerned about, not something to focus on instead of other things.

            the intersection of All The Things

            That’s just saying “don’t fight with each other, we still have those white guys to take down.”

            , though one thing about the left is that it’s always fighting with itself about which liberation battle is most important next.

            I see a different dynamic. I see a bunch of factions that aren’t so much fighting with each other as they are clamoring for attention from people who aren’t members of said faction. Some factions get traction and others don’t, but they aren’t really in direct conflict with one another most of the time.

            The rhetoric has gone up and down. Abolitionists raised it higher (with good reason) than anything I’ve heard lately.

            If you have to reach that far back for a disconfirming example, I think you’re sort of demonstrating my point that level of rhetoric is not connected to level of suffering in any logical way.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            Discrimination against Jews in college admission existed at least into the 1920’s and probably later. But the tilt did not actually result in Jews being blocked out of prestigious jobs–they ended up doing very well by that measure.

            Indeed – and they did well using large doses of hard work, intelligence, and complaining long and loud (and with good reason) about the prejudice they faced. They complained on behalf of other minorities, too, and were responsible for a huge amount of progress against prejudice in the 20th century. A bunch of commie complainers who called out every bit of harmless prejudice they saw.

            Suppose you are part of a minority of 5% of the population. Further suppose that 50% of the population are strongly prejudiced against you, unlikely to hire you, buy from you, do you any favors.

            The effect of that prejudice will be small, because the other fifty percent can provide all the jobs and customers you need.

            It’s always more complicated than that, isn’t it? If the non-prejudiced half of the population will face boycotts from the prejudiced half if they hire you, they might let financial considerations make their decision for them. If the prejudiced portion of the community are the financial and social gatekeepers, they might not even need to be half the population in order to enforce discrimination.

            But closer to the mark, I think, is Solzhenitsyn’s quote about the human heart. The dividing line isn’t between prejudiced and non-prejudiced people; the line is between how often the implicit biases we have do or don’t influence our decisions, and whether we act to recognize and correct that or not.

          • cassander says:

            Indeed – and they did well using large doses of hard work, intelligence, and complaining long and loud (and with good reason) about the prejudice they faced. They complained on behalf of other minorities, too, and were responsible for a huge amount of progress against prejudice in the 20th century. A bunch of commie complainers who called out every bit of harmless prejudice they saw.

            they complained by saying the discrimination should stop, NOT that they should get special treatment to make up for said discrimination. that’s a HUGELY different ask.

            It’s always more complicated than that, isn’t it? If the non-prejudiced half of the population will face boycotts from the prejudiced half if they hire you, they might let financial considerations make their decision for them. If the prejudiced portion of the community are the financial and social gatekeepers, they might not even need to be half the population in order to enforce discrimination.

            The historical evidence for the effect you’re claiming is weak. at the end of the day, the only color the capitalist cares about is green, and prejudice always costs you money. Financial concerns are always going to mitigate against prejudice, they will rarely, if ever, uphold it.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            Some factions get traction and others don’t, but they aren’t really in direct conflict with one another most of the time.

            You may have missed the vicious Hillary-vs-Bernie supporter infighting, and the (so far) permanent ruptures which resulted. A lotta people ain’t friends anymore. Perhaps the recency of that is colouring my view of how common real infighting on the left is, though.

            If you have to reach that far back for a disconfirming example, I think you’re sort of demonstrating my point that level of rhetoric is not connected to level of suffering in any logical way.

            That’s fair. I’m not sure what the significance of the point you’re making is, though. Jim Crow silenced a lot of rhetoric; it got loud in the ’60s; it got quieter again in the maybe-if-we-don’t-talk-about-it-it’ll-go-away ’80s; now it’s loud again. The level of rhetoric seems to have more to do with how much media gatekeepers want to emphasize conflict or cooperation. It seems like the level of conservative and populist rhetoric has gone up to 11 in the past few years, too; if my talk-radio memories are serving me correctly, I’m pretty sure the latest right-wing intensification of rhetoric preceded the left-wing intensification, if only because angry talk radio preceded the Internet. With the Internet, all the angry people are yelling loudly.

            I’ve enjoyed this discussion. Time to sleep, though. I may not have a chance to return to it, so I’ll say now that I’ve appreciated the back-and-forth.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            at the end of the day, the only color the capitalist cares about is green, and prejudice always costs you money. Financial concerns are always going to mitigate against prejudice, they will rarely, if ever, uphold it.

            Okay, just one more. : – )

            I’ve seen this argument a couple of times now, and I find it a bit bewildering. It doesn’t fit with my experience at all. Capitalists are mostly stumbling along with poor information and implicit biases just like the rest of us. People make hiring decisions for all sorts of reasons other than the corporate bottom line: Will I get along with this person? Will they at least not embarrass me? Do I feel good around them? If I hire them here, will they hire me at another company when the tables are turned? What will our customers think of them? Will they threaten my job? Will they take over my job so I can move on to better things? Will I understand them when they talk, or will I be constantly frustrated by their accent? Are they old and inflexible? Are they young and inexperienced? Can I party with them? What kind of beer do they prefer? Am I hungry and grumpy and therefore this person is an idiot?

            Most companies are really bad at predicting performance based on their hiring process, and they aren’t all that hot at evaluating performance on the job, either. In part, that’s because most hires don’t make that much difference to the bottom line. Hire a bunch of average white guys instead of a bunch of minorities who would’ve done the job 1% better? It’s not going to make any difference to the company. It’ll make a difference to the group of people who consistently didn’t get hired, though.

          • Nornagest says:

            Hire a bunch of average white guys instead of a bunch of minorities who would’ve done the job 1% better? It’s not going to make any difference to the company.

            Sure it will — it’ll make a 1% difference. That doesn’t sound like much, but businesses frequently get made or lost on a 1% margin.

            Businesses being made of people, they will of course deal with the same biases that every other institution does, but this logic grants a proportional advantage to those that’re less biased. In the long run we would expect to see that reflected in which businesses survive, and ultimately in business culture.

            (The signal’s gonna be small and noisy, though, so it might take a long time.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            That’s far too facile an answer to what Andrew said.

            There is more than 1% variation in the abilities of everyone in a company with hiring authority, and yet they will not all be let go accept for the top. Thus biased hiring practices that cause a 1% degradation in performance can easily exist.

            Also, Microsoft Bing exists.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @cassander

            If anything, the level of rhetoric seems inversely proportional to actual state of the balance sheet.

            It’s called the Tocqueville effect.

          • It’s always more complicated than that, isn’t it? If the non-prejudiced half of the population will face boycotts from the prejudiced half if they hire you, they might let financial considerations make their decision for them. If the prejudiced portion of the community are the financial and social gatekeepers, they might not even need to be half the population in order to enforce discrimination.

            And if the prejudiced portion are the lower class, the opposite result happens. Obviously it’s complicated, but my stylized case, where there are ten times as many unprejudiced potential employers as members of the prejudiced group, leaves a lot of room for variation in the details before the prejudice has a big effect.

            If there is a serious problem with the prejudiced group objecting to other people hiring members of the minority, then the minority will tend to get hired in less visible positions or in parts of the country where the unprejudiced predominate. In the case of anti-black prejudice, employers didn’t get boycotted for hiring blacks–the railroads had black conductors, restaurants had black cooks, … .

            There might well have been problems with hiring blacks in what were seen as elite jobs–a black member of a law firm, say. But that affects only a small fraction of the black population, which means you don’t need very many whites willing to defy such pressure to employ them. And there will be some positions, such as a law firm specializing in black clients, where the pressure doesn’t exist.

            I’m not arguing that there is no effect–obviously there is. But I think people greatly exaggerate the size. Again, consider the case of the Jews, Chinese, Italians or Irish. In all cases there was prejudice, but it didn’t result in those people ending up, a few generations down the road, worse off than the descendants of earlier migrations. And in the case of the Chinese and Japanese they, like blacks, were marked–the fact of their ethnic identity couldn’t be concealed, as the identity of the others, after the first generation, sometimes could be.

            Sowell’s conclusion in Ethnic America is that the status of American blacks is due to neither genetics nor prejudice but to culture, with the contrast of the West Indian immigrants who are blacker, visibly and genetically, than the descendants of slaves, but do much better.

          • Nornagest says:

            Thus biased hiring practices that cause a 1% degradation in performance can easily exist.

            …I thought that was the point I was making?

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            Sure it will — it’ll make a 1% difference. That doesn’t sound like much, but businesses frequently get made or lost on a 1% margin.

            Businesses being made of people, they will of course deal with the same biases that every other institution does, but this logic grants a proportional advantage to those that’re less biased. In the long run we would expect to see that reflected in which businesses survive, and ultimately in business culture.

            (The signal’s gonna be small and noisy, though, so it might take a long time.)

            Yep. In my experience and observation, the signal is extremely small and the noise is overwhelming.

            In small companies, success or failure of the firm is primarily driven by one or two key salespeople, managers, and technical leads, and a massive dose of luck. Most of them fail within a few years for reasons which couldn’t be corrected by hiring slightly better employees. Most of them don’t have the resources to do proper HR anyway; hiring is haphazard; reviews are non-existent or shoddy; promotions depend on the founder’s whim. Butterfly effects are strong, as early investment and technology decisions can lock companies into courses which either doom them or drive them. One guy gets sick at the wrong time, a critical sales meeting goes poorly, a bank payment can’t be met, and the company goes under.

            In large companies, sales and production inertia can mean that the results of poor hiring and HR decisions may not have an impact for years. With only a handful of large companies in a given sector, they copy each other’s business fads in an endless go-round, in a way that maximizes noise and minimizes signal. It’s all about total quality management, then it’s all about rank-and-yank, and then it’s all about diversity hiring, and then it’s all about cultural fit, and then it’s all about outsourcing… …and after all that, it’s a failed merger by a CEO who wanted to be on the cover of Business Week that dooms the company.

            The model for a signal gradually overcoming noise is evolution, and evolution takes a long, long time. And it’s unreliable: Near-random walks for small signals, getting stuck on local maxima, etc.

            In the case of businesses, you don’t even have heritability. I’m still thinking through the implications of that for the ability of signal to overcome noise.

          • birdboy2000 says:

            A “level playing field” doesn’t abolish the bourgeoisie, it doesn’t even rein it in or reduce their share of profit; it just makes it more ethnically diverse. It does absolutely nothing for the overwhelming majority of people, regardless of “race” or ethnicity or what have you, because the overwhelming majority of people in this system are set up to fail.

            Trying to address implicit bias is a fool’s game; even if it’s real and has the alleged effects, it’s impossible for any policy to effectively control. A social system which requires moral exemplars to even create a semblance of equality is a system which can not be made equal.

            Intersectional “activism” is the greatest gift the right could have ever asked for; if we want to fix things, we need to unite across the boundaries nationalists and bigots of all colors fight like hell to erect. Workers of the WORLD, unite.

          • cassander says:

            @Andrew Klaassen

            Most companies are really bad at predicting performance based on their hiring process, and they aren’t all that hot at evaluating performance on the job, either. In part, that’s because most hires don’t make that much difference to the bottom line.

            Everything you say up to here I agree with, but this:

            Hire a bunch of average white guys instead of a bunch of minorities who would’ve done the job 1% better? It’s not going to make any difference to the company. It’ll make a difference to the group of people who consistently didn’t get hired, though.

            Is not accurate. the great thing about capitalism is that it works even if you accept that firm decisions are completely random. Capitalism is a darwinian process, and like evolution, it doesn’t require conscious decision making to produce beneficial results. Managers might not be able to tell which employees are 1% better than others, but at the end of the day, but the bottom line can. in the long run, companies that persistently hire worse people will do worse.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I’m not arguing that there is no effect–obviously there is. But I think people greatly exaggerate the size.

            It’d be interesting to see a comparison of people’s perception of bias compared to measured bias. Would they be as wrong about it as they are about things like foreign aid spending, the NASA budget, wealth inequality, and the threat of death due to terrorism?

            And bias isn’t a simple thing, of course; we tend to lump different groups of people into different boxes, so not every job is biased in favour of white males. When occupations change in power and prestige and pay, though, it does seem that white males usually somehow end up with biases in their favour when it comes to those jobs. Not always, but often enough to make one suspect that what the left says about bias isn’t completely ridiculous. I like the example of the inversion of prestige that has happened between software programming and middle management over the past half-century or so. (One anecdote that you might enjoy.)

            Sowell’s conclusion in Ethnic America is that the status of American blacks is due to neither genetics nor prejudice but to culture, with the contrast of the West Indian immigrants who are blacker, visibly and genetically, than the descendants of slaves, but do much better.

            Aye, it’s hard to deny the continuing impact of American slavery (though some people still try). I would doubt that West Indian blacks face no prejudice in the U.S., though… surely Sowell didn’t go that far?

          • The Nybbler says:

            I like the example of the inversion of prestige that has happened between software programming and middle management over the past half-century or so.

            Whites are slightly underrepresented at the big prestigious tech companies. At least anecdotally, it hasn’t gotten whiter since the 80s.

            From your anecdote:

            Later, after I started working the Soviet Union, and even in the United States in the early 1990s, I understood that this was a trend. I’d say that 70% of the programmers I encountered in the IT industry were female.

            I can’t speak for the Soviet Union, but it is certainly not the case that in the United States early 1990s, 70% of programmers were female. The profession has been male-dominated since the Department of Labor has kept statistics.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @cassander

            Is not accurate. the great thing about capitalism is that it works even if you accept that firm decisions are completely random. Capitalism is a darwinian process, and like evolution, it doesn’t require conscious decision making to produce beneficial results.

            Are you familiar with the randomness of outcomes in Darwinian processes given small fitness differences and small populations? You can play around with a simulator (one of many) here. Playing with a 1% fitness difference (the rest set to default), I’m typically getting the advantageous allele being eliminated from 2 populations out of 5. In the 3 of 5 populations where, as you’d expect, the advantageous allele wins out, it typically takes anywhere from 40 to 300 generations.

            Evolution is not a perfect analogue – heritability and reproduction in particular work differently – but hopefully that gives you a better sense of why I’m skeptical about ability of the selective mechanism of capitalism to eliminate hiring bias any time soon, or maybe even at all.

            (Another complication of the capitalism-evolution analogy is that companies are usually made up of individuals whose interests only partially overlap with that of the company as a whole. If the company dies, they don’t; if the company makes a bigger profit, it may have little or no impact on an individual’s wages. The company may, in fact, make a profit by lowering their wages. The evolutionary analogue is group selection. Group selection isn’t non-existent in nature, but it’s constantly undermined by individual selection, and advantages that you might expect to be favoured by group selection often don’t get very far.)

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            @Andrew Klaasen

            About Sowell’s comparison of black immigrants from the West Indies to born-and-raised African-Americans, you said:

            “Aye, it’s hard to deny the continuing impact of American slavery (though some people still try). I would doubt that West Indian blacks face no prejudice in the U.S., though… surely Sowell didn’t go that far?”

            Since hardly any Americans make a visual distinction between born-and-raised black Americans and West Indies black immigrants, I think it’s safe to say that the prejudices they face are more or less identical. And while lots of individual racists still exist in the US, the institutions like universities are either non-racist or actively try to assist black people. Police famously treat black people differently than others, but black people also have higher crime rates and probably are more dangerous to a police officer in personal interactions. Here we get into a chicken-and-egg problem with no easy solution.

            It is also important to note that the West Indies were slave colonies. These immigrants were descendants of slaves, same as most black Americans. Unless you want to make such a distinction between sugar-cutting and cotton-picking, this comparison ends up being roughly equal. [Actually sugar-cutting was worse from what I understand.]

            As I understand Sowell (and I agree with him), the cultural malaise holding back many black Americans is largely a by-product of failed attempts to help them (plus the decline of traditional American society e.g. the churches – see this graph of out-of-wedlock births, with upwards trend starting ~1960; it scares me that nobody I know is freaking out about this). Since this “help” never occurred in the West Indies, immigrants from these countries do not suffer the same disadvantages and do better.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            Whites are slightly underrepresented at the big prestigious tech companies.

            Underrepresented in terms of population, but what about in terms of programming ability? I think it’d be interesting to apply the bias test I proposed above to prestigious tech company interviewers to see how much they systematically over- or under-estimate programming ability in different groups given the same interview answers.

            I suspect that the large tech companies, which have been investing in diversity training and serious HR research for a few years now, would probably score different groups more consistently than either the average company or themselves a decade ago would.

            At least anecdotally, it hasn’t gotten whiter since the 80s.

            I wouldn’t try to make the argument that things have gotten worse, bias-wise, since the 1980s. I was alive then. : – )

            I can’t speak for the Soviet Union, but it is certainly not the case that in the United States early 1990s, 70% of programmers were female. The profession has been male-dominated since the Department of Labor has kept statistics.

            I’m sure the URL will make you skeptical : – ), but it looks like the turning point in the U.S. was sometime in the mid-1960s.

          • John Schilling says:

            Since hardly any Americans make a visual distinction between born-and-raised black Americans and West Indies black immigrants,

            Not visual, no, but how often do we interact with someone in any significant sense without hearing them talk?

          • cassander says:

            @andrew

            Are you familiar with the randomness of outcomes in Darwinian processes given small fitness differences and small populations?

            Yes. fortunately, though, the economy is composed of billions of consumers and millions of service providers. Small population problems are not relevant.

            (Another complication of the capitalism-evolution analogy is that companies are usually made up of individuals whose interests only partially overlap with that of the company as a whole. If the company dies, they don’t; if the company makes a bigger profit, it may have little or no impact on an individual’s wages. The company may, in fact, make a profit by lowering their wages.

            Again, that doesn’t matter. A barber today is exactly as efficient as a barber in Periclean Athens, but the modern barber makes a hell of a lot more money. Why? because he cuts hair in a society that is far richer, so if people want their hair cut, in the long run they have to raise wages in accordance with the general productivity level of society.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @Progressive Reformation

            As I understand Sowell (and I agree with him), the cultural malaise holding back many black Americans is largely a by-product of failed attempts to help them (plus the decline of traditional American society e.g. the churches – see this graph of out-of-wedlock births, with upwards trend starting ~1960; it scares me that nobody I know is freaking out about this). Since this “help” never occurred in the West Indies, immigrants from these countries do not suffer the same disadvantages and do better.

            That’s an interesting argument. I don’t know enough about West Indian history to judge it one way or another. Did they face the same post-slavery conditions that blacks in the U.S. faced, with legal segregation in the South and defacto segregation in the North for a century after slavery ended? Were they doing just as poorly as blacks in the U.S. right up until the Great Society?

            And for another comparison point: Did the descendants of black slaves who escaped to Canada see the same declines after Great Society-type social programs were introduced in the 1960s?

            Yet another comparison point: What about West Indian blacks who didn’t immigrate to the U.S.? My impression is that crime rates are very high in a number of West Indian nations. Are you sure that Sowell isn’t just documenting an ambitious-immigrant effect?

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @cassander

            Yes. fortunately, though, the economy is composed of billions of consumers and millions of service providers. Small population problems are not relevant.

            Most companies are competing with a small number of competitors within a limited niche. I may have this wrong, but it seems like effective population sizes for firm-on-firm competition are typically small.

            Hmm. Now I’m interested in seeing if I can find small-population-effect analogues in various industries. Large fluctuations in population size? High risk of extinction? Founder effects? Low “genetic” diversity? Drift? Inbreeding?

            I didn’t mean to come off condescending when I pointed you to evolution simulator, BTW; I wasn’t sure if you were familiar with it, and thought that you might find it interesting if you weren’t.

            Again, that doesn’t matter. A barber today is exactly as efficient as a barber in Periclean Athens, but the modern barber makes a hell of a lot more money. Why? because he cuts hair in a society that is far richer, so if people want their hair cut, in the long run they have to raise wages in accordance with the general productivity level of society.

            I’m not sure how that applies to competition between companies with different levels of bias in their hiring practises. Could you clarify?

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            The main result of discrimination against Jews in certain portions of academia was that CUNY became an intellectual powerhouse.

          • cassander says:

            @Andrew Klaassen says:

            Most companies are competing with a small number of competitors within a limited niche. I may have this wrong, but it seems like effective population sizes for firm-on-firm competition are typically small.

            Definitely not. If you want to buy a plane that carries 400 people, sure, you need to go to one of about 3 companies in the world. But that picture is not accurate for the thousands of other goods. Just look around the room you’re sitting in right now and try to count the number of brands for the various products you can see. then remember that, for example, all the companies that make lightbulbs and lamps aren’t just competing with the other lightbulb companies, they’re also competing with candle companies, and companies that make gas lamps, and every other type of lighting. And then we have to realize that goods are not bought in isolation. In some hypothetical world where some oligopoly managed to dramatically hike the price of lightbulbs, people would respond by buying few of them. Some of that money would be spent on alternative forms of light, but most would be spent on goods that have nothing to do with light production, simply because of the shift in relative values of goods. Ultimately, every good sees competition not just among the producers of that good, but the producers of every other good.

            I didn’t mean to come off condescending when I pointed you to evolution simulator, BTW; I wasn’t sure if you were familiar with it, and thought that you might find it interesting if you weren’t.

            didn’t think you were. And I wasn’t familiar with that particular model, but I have seen similar math in other contexts.

            I’m not sure how that applies to competition between companies with different levels of bias in their hiring practises. Could you clarify?

            The point, which wasn’t well articulated, was that you have to look more broadly than a single worker and a single employer. any systematic bias against a group of people pushes down their wages relative to the rest of society. the stronger the bias, the more incentive it creates for people to break the taboo. such bias is self defeating in capitalist interactions because ultimately the cost of not hiring someone is

          • When occupations change in power and prestige and pay, though, it does seem that white males usually somehow end up with biases in their favour when it comes to those jobs. Not always, but often enough to make one suspect that what the left says about bias isn’t completely ridiculous.

            Being a lawyer stayed high status over the past forty years. When my sister went to Bolt, c. 1970, women were a tenth of the class (by memory but I think right). Currently I believe they are a bit over half the average law school class. So that case doesn’t fit the claimed pattern.

            I would doubt that West Indian blacks face no prejudice in the U.S., though… surely Sowell didn’t go that far?

            His claim wasn’t that West Indian blacks face no prejudice, it was that their income reached the U.S. median in one generation (again from memory, so I don’t guarantee details). They are visibly blacker and genetically blacker than the descendants of southern slaves, so should face at least as much racial prejudice and have more genetic disadvantage. So if the reason American blacks do poorly is either racial prejudice or genetic inferiority, West Indian blacks should do at least as badly.

            They don’t, hence Sowell concluded that the cause was neither discrimination nor genetics. His explanation, as best I remember, was that southern plantation slavery was the equivalent of centrally planned socialism–labor doing what the people in charge told it, being fed and clothed by the people in charge. West Indian slavery was more like medieval serfdom–the slave cultivating his own plot for himself plus working some number of hours for his owner. The latter produced a much healthier culture than the former.

            But again, all this is memory of a book I read long ago, so for a reliable account you would need to read the book. Which, as I remember, was well worth reading.

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @cassander

            then remember that, for example, all the companies that make lightbulbs and lamps aren’t just competing with the other lightbulb companies, they’re also competing with candle companies, and companies that make gas lamps, and every other type of lighting.

            In theory all these products are fungible and the companies producing them are in competition, but in practise the periods of direct competition tends to be short. Superior price and technology wins out. A candlemaker which has eliminated bias in its hiring practises is not going to win the lighting war against a lightbulb factory that’s full of bigots.

            Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the fact that most employees aren’t employed to nearly their full potential. There are a number of reasons for that – one of them is that if you try, you tend to have high burnout and mistake rates, and the potential that you thought you had is diminished; another is that companies don’t like to have irreplaceable people if they can help it; another, I think, has something to do with the coordination that’s required between large numbers of people, though I haven’t worked that one out yet – and that’s another reason that hiring employees who are 1% better won’t make much difference. I haven’t thought that one through very far, though, so feel free to pick it apart.

            And then we have to realize that goods are not bought in isolation. In some hypothetical world where some oligopoly managed to dramatically hike the price of lightbulbs, people would respond by buying few of them. Some of that money would be spent on alternative forms of light, but most would be spent on goods that have nothing to do with light production, simply because of the shift in relative values of goods. Ultimately, every good sees competition not just among the producers of that good, but the producers of every other good.

            Price elasticity of both supply and demand varies from product to product, which might allow for a test of your hypothesis. Biased hiring practises, if they have a meaningful impact on final prices, should disappear most quickly in products which are most sensitive to changes in price, since they’ll lose out the most in the global competition between goods. My brain isn’t working quite properly at this time of night, so I’ll ask: Do I have that right?

            didn’t think you were. And I wasn’t familiar with that particular model, but I have seen similar math in other contexts.

            Interesting. What other contexts does the math arise in?

            The point, which wasn’t well articulated, was that you have to look more broadly than a single worker and a single employer. any systematic bias against a group of people pushes down their wages relative to the rest of society. the stronger the bias, the more incentive it creates for people to break the taboo. such bias is self defeating in capitalist interactions because ultimately the cost of not hiring someone is

            And that has definitely happened repeatedly with low-skill jobs; I can think of half-a-dozen examples without trying, and I can even think of a couple of examples of medium- and high-skill jobs where that has happened. Fair point. But doesn’t the fact that it happens at a lower wage support the idea that bias is still coming into play?

          • Andrew Klaassen says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Being a lawyer stayed high status over the past forty years. When my sister went to Bolt, c. 1970, women were a tenth of the class (by memory but I think right). Currently I believe they are a bit over half the average law school class. So that case doesn’t fit the claimed pattern.

            Although… I have read a whole bunch of doom and gloom over the past couple of years about how becoming a lawyer is now the worst decision you can make, so that would fit the timing perfectly. : – )

            More seriously, I’d also be interested in knowing on which bump of the bimodal salary distribution for new lawyers most men vs. women in these equal law school classes end up in.

            Edit: Though if anyone would be careful to do everything they could to eliminate hiring bias, you’d figure it would be Big Law.

          • Aapje says:

            @Andrew Klaassen

            When occupations change in power and prestige and pay, though, it does seem that white males usually somehow end up with biases in their favour when it comes to those jobs. Not always, but often enough to make one suspect that what the left says about bias isn’t completely ridiculous.

            Pretty much all metrics show that men favor high pay, power and prestige much more than women do (compared to other goals, such as a good work/non-work balance, happiness at work, physical safety, etc).

            The logical result is that when occupations change in power, prestige and pay, this will cause men to flock to or flee from that occupation. Furthermore, the logical result is that men and women will shape the workplace around their different goals and that those will therefor become less pleasant for the average person of the other gender. For example, a male dominant workplace is more likely to offer high pay, but demand long work hours. A female dominant workplace is more likely to offer part time work and other secondary job benefits, but low pay.

            Note that this is all perfectly consistent with the obvious gender roles, where men are expected to be providers and women to be nurturers.

            The common progressive narrative, that the main cause of gendered workplace differences is workplace discrimination has resulted in the claim by the mainstream left that the lower average wages for women are because women get less pay for equal work. Obama has argued this, so it is a mainstream/dominant left wing belief.

            Statistical analysis has shown conclusively that about 2/3rd of the gendered wage gap is provably not due to workplace discrimination, but because men and women make different work choices and that those work choices impact pay regardless of gender. In other words, a woman who makes the choices that men are more likely to make, also gets the higher pay. The cause of the remaining 1/3rd cannot be assumed to be workplace discrimination, but can also simply be work choices that employers reward, but that are too fuzzy to measure objectively or can be measured, but aren’t. Common sense says that they exist (for example: being hard working or a lazy employee is a work choice that can not easily be measured) and are likely to be rewarded by employers with higher pay. Common sense also suggests that if we see for choices that increase pay and that we can measure than men are way more likely to make those choices, then the same will be true for choices that influence pay that we don’t measure, but that surely exist.

            These facts have been known for some time and yet the mainstream left continues to use the narrative that the gender pay gap is 100% due to workplace discrimination.

            So given this clear example of how the mainstream left keeps making completely ridiculous claims about workplace bias causing the gendered pay gap (where they cannot prove that even 1% of the gap is due to workplace discrimination), I would suggest that you update your belief that they never make completely ridiculous claims.

            PS. I do believe that cases of pay discrimination exist, both against men and against women, but I have seen no credible evidence that allows for a claim that this is worse against a specific gender or to make even a reasonable guess to how large this effect is.

            PS2. One of the major ways in which the mainstream left is being deceptive is by cherry picking issues to focus on. When it comes to gendered workplace differences, they tend to focus on top jobs and (total) pay. If you were to look at jobs at the bottom, workplace fatalities, spending power/hour worked; you can build a tragic picture of men suffering, while women have few problems (of course, that would be a biased view as well).

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Andrew Klaassen

            Certainly computer programming was at one point female dominated. And certainly it is male dominated now, so it switched at some point. I tend to suspect the 1967 Cosmo article was an anachronism, but that’s before any statistics I have found. I suspect the turnover was in the 1950s and probably has more to do with men returning from the war than anything else. Here’s what Margaret Hamilton (who led the Apollo system software team) had to say:

            “When I began as a programmer in 1959, and continuing until now, in every software organization and in every software project I have been involved in, there were always many more men than women programmers.”

            The switch took place well before the 1990s.

          • Aapje says:

            There is also the issue that the very early programming jobs were mostly mere data entry.

          • bean says:

            Definitely not. If you want to buy a plane that carries 400 people, sure, you need to go to one of about 3 companies in the world.

            Who is the third? McDonnell Douglas stopped making widebodies almost 20 years ago.
            (Of course, there’s the used market, which is a lot more robust than it is for most products. That should probably be factored in. We’ve stopped making new planes that are so much better the old ones are totally obsolete.)

          • hlynkacg says:

            I would assume the three companies are Boeing, Airbus, and Lockheed, but Tupolev and Antanov are also potential choices not to mention the fact that Embraer and whatever the Chinese have also been looking to make in-roads to the larger airliner/freighter market.

            Edit: Ilyushin should be on that list as well.

            Edit 2: Ninja’d by Bean

          • bean says:

            I would assume the three companies are Boeing, Airbus, and Lockheed, but Tupolev and Antanov are also potential choices not to mention the fact that Embraer and whatever the Chinese have also been looking to make in-roads to the larger airliner/freighter market.

            Lockheed shut down TriStar production in 1984. They’re out of the airliner game, and I really doubt they’re coming back.
            400 seats means it’s a widebody, and the only other company that makes widebodies is Ilyushin, and they do like one a year. China is trying to break in, but so far, they just have paper.
            Embraer hasn’t even managed a full-size narrowbody yet, and I think that’s probably a prerequisite for a widebody project.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Sure the tri-stars are pretty much on thier way out but as far as I know Lockheed’s kept the Martin Marietta plant open so they can fulfil heavy transport/tanker contracts the same way Boeing keeps the old McDD team around to work on fighters.

          • bean says:

            Sure the tri-stars are pretty much on thier way out but as far as I know Lockheed’s kept the Martin Marietta plant open so they can fulfil heavy transport/tanker contracts the same way Boeing keeps the old McDD team around to work on fighters.

            Absolutely not. The line shut down 30 years ago, and the TriStar, though probably the most advanced of the first-generation widebodies, is still a 70s design. It’s at least 3 generations out of date. You’d have to pay an absurd amount of money to get the line up and running again, for an airplane that most airlines have already retired.
            (Also, it was built by Lockheed at Palmdale before they merged with Martin Marietta. The responsible group is gone.)

          • hlynkacg says:

            You misunderstand. I’m not saying that restarting Tri-Star production is a reasonable possibility. I’m saying that Lockheed has retained the capability to build large aircraft.

          • cassander says:

            @bean

            Who is the third? McDonnell Douglas stopped making widebodies almost 20

            Ilyushin is still making the Il-96, which is in between 767 and 777s in size. I don’t think tupovlev builds any wide bodies currently, but if they can, they’re both technically part of the United Aircraft Company anyway, so the list is Boeing, Airbus, and UAC/Ilyushin. Antonov was making An-124s, but, IIRC, they stopped a few years ago and they were cargo planes anyway.

          • cassander says:

            @Andrew Klaassen says:

            In theory all these products are fungible and the companies producing them are in competition, but in practise the periods of direct competition tends to be short. Superior price and technology wins out. A candlemaker which has eliminated bias in its hiring practises is not going to win the lighting war against a lightbulb factory that’s full of bigots.

            fungibility is not a binary. All products are fungible to a degree, the question is how much. And while the un-bigoted candlemaking might not be able to win, the bigoted lightbulb maker will. There is a reason that big business was the most persistent opponent of jim crow

            I haven’t thought that one through very far, though, so feel free to pick it apart.

            It’s unquestionably true, but it’s almost universally true, and thus not particularly relevant.

            Biased hiring practises, if they have a meaningful impact on final prices, should disappear most quickly in products which are most sensitive to changes in price, since they’ll lose out the most in the global competition between goods. My brain isn’t working quite properly at this time of night, so I’ll ask: Do I have that right?

            that seems reasonable to me, with the caveat that you also have to account for the fact that the degree to which those hiring practices affect price/quality. An bigoted basketball team that refuses to hire black players probably is going to run into more issues than a similarly bigoted ice hockey team.

            Interesting. What other contexts does the math arise in?

            context, in this case, meant other presentations of the same math talking about evolution.

            And that has definitely happened repeatedly with low-skill jobs; I can think of half-a-dozen examples without trying, and I can even think of a couple of examples of medium- and high-skill jobs where that has happened. Fair point. But doesn’t the fact that it happens at a lower wage support the idea that bias is still coming into play?

            I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “it” and “that” here.

          • bean says:

            @hlynkacg
            Ah. There’s a lot more that goes into building an airliner than just building a big airplane and stuffing seats into it. (My job is part of that ‘lot more’.) Suffice it to say that if you want to put paying passengers on that airplane, Lockheed isn’t a good candidate.

            @cassander

            Ilyushin is still making the Il-96, which is in between 767 and 777s in size. I don’t think tupovlev builds any wide bodies currently, but if they can, they’re both technically part of the United Aircraft Company anyway, so the list is Boeing, Airbus, and UAC/Ilyushin. Antonov was making An-124s, but, IIRC, they stopped a few years ago and they were cargo planes anyway.

            They’re building one a year, and the only airline operating them is Cuban. Not even Aeroflot flies Il-96s these days. Seriously, the only people flying Russian airliners are those that are such international pariahs that they can’t manage to get Boeing or Airbus products. Nobody chooses them willingly. Boeing is looking at shutting down the 747 line because they don’t have enough orders to keep the production rate above 6/year in the medium-term. That’s the lowest rate they think they can make a profit at. 1/year isn’t really production, it’s Russian vanity project.
            My employer competes against the other guy. If I suggested Ilyushin was a competitor, I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

          • cassander says:

            @bean

            They’re building one a year, and the only airline operating them is Cuban. Not even Aeroflot flies Il-96s these days. Seriously, the only people flying Russian airliners are those that are such international pariahs that they can’t manage to get Boeing or Airbus products. Nobody chooses them willingly. Boeing is looking at shutting down the 747 line because they don’t have enough orders to keep the production rate above 6/year in the medium-term. That’s the lowest rate they think they can make a profit at. 1/year isn’t really production, it’s Russian vanity project.
            My employer competes against the other guy. If I suggested Ilyushin was a competitor, I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

            I’m on the military side of things, I just know that the Russians are buying several as transports. I know nothing about the civilian production, and certainly wasn’t trying to imply that they were going to be taking contracts from Boeing and airbus any time soon.

          • hlynkacg says:

            There’s a lot more that goes into building an airliner than just building a big airplane and stuffing seats into it.

            Citation Needed.

            I’m kidding but also feel the need to point out that the spec was for “a plane that carries 400 people” not “a plane conveys 400 paying passengers in the style to which they have become accustomed”. 😛

          • Nornagest says:

            Well, you could probably fit 400 people in a KC-135 if you chopped them finely enough.

          • bean says:

            I actually carried out an experiment by asking a couple of my co-workers what they thought of Ilyushin. Neither of them knew who that was. So I actually overestimated them as being on our radar.

            I will admit that under a strict reading of the spec, you don’t need a 400-seat airliner, and as an airliner guy, I read that into it.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Fair enough, and as a former military guy who among other things once worked forward logistics for a major NGO, my first thought was something to the effect of “That’s going to be 36 tons give or take. What do we have that can lift that?” 😀

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            @ Andrew Klassen

            Did [blacks in the Caribbean] face the same post-slavery conditions that blacks in the U.S. faced, with legal segregation in the South and defacto segregation in the North for a century after slavery ended? Were they doing just as poorly as blacks in the U.S. right up until the Great Society?

            I’m pretty sure the Caribbean populations were doing worse in pretty much every way. Haiti freed itself from French slavery at the turn of the 19th century, then plunged into murderous chaos, tyranny, and crushing poverty. Jamaica’s GDP per capita today is only $5000/year (even the much richer Caribbean nations, like the Bahamas or Trinidad and Tobago, have a GDP of only around $20000/year today, and in 1965 it was less than $3000/year); black Americans had a median income of about $25000/year back in 1965. Not to mention that black Americans live in a country with much better infrastructure, schools, public services, utilities, environmental controls, etc. than virtually all of the Caribbean nations, and this was much more so back before the Great Society.

            Some nations like Cuba even had segregation (it ended after the revolution, I think); others like Haiti were black-ruled. Nevertheless, economic and social conditions for black Americans were vastly preferable to those in virtually all of these countries – even with Jim Crow.

        • Christopher Hazell says:

          The left wing argument implicitly assumes that the balance sheet is so massively tilted that every white person, especially every white male, no matter his circumstances, is coming out ahead.

          The major problem is that, in theory, it doesn’t, but in practice it does. I hear, every so often in Portland Oregon, how white men have no reason to be unhappy because “the system is rigged in their favor.”

          Then every day I watch homeless white men line up outside my work to get free food.

          Imagine an alternate world, where, every Saturday, people are forced to go play in a large casino for one hour. All the games are rigged, and more, they are rigged based on race. They make sure that when a white person plays, they lose 60% of their money, and when a black person plays, they lose 90%.

          Here are two very bad theoretical approaches to articulating what is unjust about this:

          1. “The game is rigged in favor of white people! White people need to reinvest their winnings to help black people!”

          2. “Who cares about race? Everybody is losing money and so talking about race is just a distraction.”

          I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain why neither approach actually captures the situation very well, but on the other hand, those two modes of thinking are awfully, awfully popular.

          One thing I’ve noticed is that black writers, especially older ones, tend to be very careful with the way they use the concept of privilege. White writers tend to use it carelessly and sloppily but black ones usually say, “I don’t want you to cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes, I want you to listen to problems I have had to deal with that you haven’t had to deal with.”

          And then usually white people go, “I can’t believe you want me to cover myself in sackcloth and ashes!!!!!!!!”

          • Jiro says:

            Because one of the predominant uses of it is to say “I want to force you to cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes. The black writers who don’t use it that way have no influence over the people who do.

          • The Nybbler says:

            White writers tend to use it carelessly and sloppily but black ones usually say, “I don’t want you to cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes, I want you to listen to problems I have had to deal with that you haven’t had to deal with.”

            This is just a rhetorical game. The writing is meant to convince you to feel something, it’s not just a neutral history. It’s not uncommon for a guilt trip to begin with “I don’t want you to feel guilty but…”, and this is the same sort of thing.

          • carvenvisage says:

            It’s the sort of thing that’s used as a game precisely because it’s important to listen when people mean it. You can adopt a policy of saying “fuck it I’m not listening” if you want but you seem to be confusing that into a general epistemic position

            “Because often it’s bullshit, I don’t want to listen, and because I don’t want to listen, It’s never true.”

      • Jiro says:

        If almost everybody – both whites and non-whites – have an unconscious bias in favour of white/male/tall/attractive, the person benefiting from that doesn’t have to do anything wrong in order to get a prestigious, well-paying job that probably should’ve gone to a more qualified non-white/female/short/ugly person.

        So why aren’t the measures taken against white males used against tall or attractive people?

        • Brad says:

          What measures?

          • Jiro says:

            Affirmative action? Diversity requirements? Presumption that a disparate impact on short and ugly people implies discrimination? Media telling people how bad it is to discriminate against the short and ugly (aside from obesity in women, which has become a left-wing cause for some reason)?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “obesity in women, which has become a left-wing cause for some reason”

            Actually, it’s fatness in general, but I’ll grant that there’s more about fat stigma against women.

            To answer your question, there’s quite a lot of prejudice, it hurts people, and it’s not as though people on the right are going to be interested in the matter.

          • JulieK says:

            it’s not as though people on the right are going to be interested in the matter.

            Why shouldn’t they be? Stereotypically, blue-tribers are the thin ones.

          • albatross11 says:

            Nancy:

            It strikes me that one reason fat acceptance ends up on the left is because the left already has built up an intellectual structure that fits well. There’s already an established sort of mental slot to put “people being kicked around by society while nobody much notices.”

            My biggest qualm with the fat-acceptance movement, as I’ve understood it, is that I don’t want to see factual questions about health to be answered based on a political movement. I absolutely don’t want fat people kicked around[1], and I also absolutely don’t want medical advice to get shaded to stay on the right side of the activists.

            [1] This is self-interest. For similar reasons, I get *really* nervous around trolley tracks.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            There’s a lot of bias about fat and health, but I don’t think the fat acceptance movement is the only source of bias. There’s a widespread assumption that weight loss is a panacea, and this has really serious consequences. Fat people’s diseases frequently don’t get diagnosed because many doctors assume weight loss is the first thing any fat person should do. (No cite, just a tremendous pile of anecdotes.) Thin people have trouble getting a diagnosis if they have a fat person disease.

            I have no hope of getting accurate information about the risks of bariatric surgery.

          • Jiro says:

            It strikes me that one reason fat acceptance ends up on the left is because the left already has built up an intellectual structure that fits well. There’s already an established sort of mental slot to put “people being kicked around by society while nobody much notices.”

            That doesn’t really explain why the left goes for that, but doesn’t do that for being short or ugly.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “That doesn’t really explain why the left goes for that [fat acceptance], but doesn’t do that for being short or ugly.”

            Such things are hard to prove, but have a theory.

            The distinctive thing about fatness, rather than being short (for men) or ugly, is that the culture has the assumption that being fat is a character defect, and sells a solution for being fat which is very costly in effort for a lot of people, but doesn’t work especially well and sometimes makes people fatter.

            This has resulted in people who are angrier than they would be if they’d merely been stigmatized.

          • Jiro says:

            The distinctive thing about fatness, rather than being short (for men) or ugly, is that the culture has the assumption that being fat is a character defect

            That’s a just-so story. If things were the opposite way around, you could instead point out that since being short is not treated by the culture as a character defect, it more resembles gender or race, thus explaining why the left does short-acceptance but ignores fat acceptance.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            The more logical explanation is that women get judged more on their weight and men more on their height.

            As it happens, a lot of people believe that men oppress women and that women have it far worse. This narrative is easily compatible with fat-shaming, but requires rationalizations to make it compatible with discrimination based on height.

          • random832 says:

            That’s a just-so story. If things were the opposite way around, you could instead point out that since being short is not treated by the culture as a character defect, it more resembles gender or race, thus explaining why the left does short-acceptance but ignores fat acceptance.

            But – apart from Randy Newman – there are not people who are loudly anti-short in the way that people are loudly anti-fat or racist. When subconscious bias is all there is, it’s hard to build a movement against it.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            random832

            Prejudice against short men isn’t entirely subconscious.

            I push back against “the Napoleon complex”. Partly it’s that Napoleon wasn’t short. * Mostly, though, it’s that short men get sneered at for what would be considered normal ambition in tall or average men.

            While I’m on the subject, I might as well ask. There’s a thing that happens to fat women, or at least I’ve seen a lot of mentions of it. There are men who want sex with fat women, but are unwilling to be seen in public with them. Who knew courage could be so important in relationships?

            Anyway, I’ve never heard of this happening with short men, but maybe I’m just not hanging out in the right places.

            *however, French and English inches being of different lengths is enough to make me wonder if we’re in a simulation and we’re being trolled

      • J Mann says:

        That’s generally the lefty case against “white people” these days – that while many are presumably slavering racists who should be denounced whenever they accidentally let their masks slip, the bigger problem is the majority who don’t recognize that the system is structured to give them tons of advantages, and resist efforts to change the system to make it more equitable. (In other words, “check your privilege”).

        • Aapje says:

          And of course this is unfalsifiable, because white people who argue that the evidence is lacking are denounced as being in denial (an ad hominem attack to argue that their evidence is invalid). So you can agree or you can prove them right.

    • herbert herberson says:

      There was a thread a week or two ago about how liberals are untrustworthy advocates of climate science, because the solutions for preventing climate change are often things that liberals want anyway.

      Seems to apply just as strongly for the anti-SJW right and racial IQ differences, except with a significant difference being that if the liberal climate alarmists are actually right, we have an unprecedentedly vast problem to solve lest billions suffer, while if the anti-SJW right is actually correct about racial IQ differences, we have about twenty years of unfair rhetoric and marginal discrimination in college admissions and a handful of jobs to answer for.

      • John Schilling says:

        Are you modeling the “anti-SJW right” as actual racists looking for an excuse to discriminate against black people here? If so, then mostly no, and if not then the connection you are trying to make isn’t as obvious to me as it is to you.

        • BBA says:

          Herbert chose his term poorly. Not the whole of the “anti-SJW right”, but for a large fraction of the people who bring up racial IQ differences, that’s precisely what’s going on.

          At least, I suspect as much. Nobody actually admits to arguing in bad faith, but it sure does stink of it.

          • albatross11 says:

            Can you explain what you mean by “arguing in bad faith?”

          • BBA says:

            Misrepresenting your position. Claiming to be an “objective” seeker of “truth” when in fact you’re already certain of what you believe and are only interested in the “science” that validates it.

            In other words, what that holocaust denier with the inverse-color anime avatar was doing a couple of open threads ago.

      • There was a thread a week or two ago about how liberals are untrustworthy advocates of climate science, because the solutions for preventing climate change are often things that liberals want anyway.

        Seems to apply just as strongly for the anti-SJW right and racial IQ differences,

        It applies to everyone. We all have a tendency to bias our perception of the world in the direction that fits our views.

        Responding to John, the argument doesn’t require any actual racists, just people who are opposed to affirmative action, non-discrimination law, etc. on other grounds, such as support for freedom of contract. The fact that blacks have lower average incomes than whites is used as an argument for such policies. A non-discriminatory explanation of the difference undercuts those arguments. So we are prejudiced in favor of believing it. We are further prejudiced in that direction because we want to believe that the free market produces generally good results.

        Similarly on climate. I am opposed, for reasons having nothing to do with climate, to increases in government power. AGW alarmism, CAGW, provides arguments for increasing government power. So I have an incentive not to believe in CAGW, whether or not it is true.

        The conclusion is that you should not trust anyone to have an unbiased opinion–you have to look at the arguments and evidence for yourself. The people you can most trust are the ones whose conclusions go contrary to their biases, and after that ones who have no particular bias on the issue in question.

        Two examples. I like to cite the IPCC in climate discussions because it’s pretty obvious that, insofar as they have a bias, it’s in an alarmist direction. Hence when they retract their previous claim of a link between climate change and droughts, you can be pretty sure it’s because the evidence does not support the claim. When they offer estimates of the net effect of warming that are tiny compared to the alarmist rhetoric, you can be pretty sure that, insofar as those estimates are biased, they are biased high, not low.

        When I was looking at the legal system of Somalia for my book on legal systems, the first source I found was a book written by a Dutch libertarian who lived in Somalia for the last twelve years of his life and edited by an American libertarian. I didn’t trust it, because I knew it would be biased towards saying things I wanted to believe. Further research discovered books by an LSE anthropologist who had been studying Somalia since the 1950’s and was clearly the expert on the northern Somalia system, and that was what I mostly based my chapter on.

        The fact that climate alarmists are proposing policies that they would support even without climate is a reason not to take their belief as evidence that their beliefs are true. It’s not a reason to ignore actual arguments and evidence. Similarly in the other direction. I’ve never argued, on my blog, that people should be skeptical of climate alarmism because I am. I have sketched arguments to support my skepticism and offered arguments, based on evidence people can check, to show that some people and arguments on the alarmist side are dishonest.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Seems to apply just as strongly for the anti-SJW right and racial IQ differences, except with a significant difference being that if the liberal climate alarmists are actually right, we have an unprecedentedly vast problem to solve lest billions suffer, while if the anti-SJW right is actually correct about racial IQ differences, we have about twenty years of unfair rhetoric and marginal discrimination in college admissions and a handful of jobs to answer for.

        This starts to look like Pascal’s Mugging.

      • Wency says:

        The climate science worst-case scenario is that the Earth converges towards Venus. The racial differences worst-case scenario is that Western countries converge toward some unpleasant earthly place — South Africa, say, or worse. Venus is definitely worse than South Africa, but the difference isn’t quite so stark as you paint it.

        The entire issue of racial IQ differences is whether the African/MENA mass migration to the West could, with some loving care, resemble the Irish assimilation into America, or whether biology ensures it will more resemble the African assimilation into America, but with enough numbers to perhaps destroy Western institutions.

        Without such stakes, these questions would be much more academic. But when a society’s racial makeup is rapidly in flux, anyone trying to forecast the future of that society has to weight the relative importance of that racial makeup and of existing culture and institutions.

        • Nornagest says:

          Whether you buy… god, I can’t bring myself to even type that stupid euphemism… or not, MENA and sub-Saharan Africa are totally different culturally and in terms of population genetics, and should not be lumped. The fact that they’re both currently not very nice places to live on average is not due to similarity along these axes.

        • rlms says:

          “Venus is definitely worse than South Africa, but the difference isn’t quite so stark as you paint it.”
          It’s pretty damn stark. For instance, the population of South Africa is growing, while Venus is literally an uninhabitable hell.

        • John Schilling says:

          The climate science worst-case scenario is that the Earth converges towards Venus.

          That is not actually a plausible scenario. The “marching morons” scenario where if we don’t ruthlessly eugenicize the low-IQ types out of the gene pool the human race will devolve most of the way back to chimpanzees, rubbish as it is, is less implausible than Earth becoming a second Venus.

          • rlms says:

            Is the difference that stark? Would a deliberate attempt to turn the Earth into Venus inevitably fail? My impression is that it would be possible. It’s unlikely that someone would try, but it’s also unlikely that Idiocracy is a documentary.

          • John Schilling says:

            The Earth’s oceans didn’t boil away early in its history, and so the past four billion years have seen most of the Earth’s carbon sequestered in sedimentary rock. That’s the carbon you need to make a Venus, and it’s effectively out of reach.

            Back in the days of Usenet, I did collaborate with rasfw’s resident climatologist on a “plan” to Venusify Earth, but it basically involved a thousand-plus years in which a totalitarian regime commits the entire human economy to mining Everest-scale piles of carbonate rock and enriched uranium for the last generation of humanity to run through the Giant Nuclear Furnaces. And even then there was a fair bit of handwaving, e.g. how to keep the underground cities cool while the Morlockian technicians ran the furnaces.

            I suspect that if I worked at it, I could come up with an even more outlandish scheme to populate the Earth entirely with literal subhuman morons, but as realistic prospects, neither one works.

          • rlms says:

            Interesting, thanks.

          • psmith says:

            I did collaborate with rasfw’s resident climatologist on a “plan” to Venusify Earth, but it basically involved a thousand-plus years in which a totalitarian regime commits the entire human economy to mining Everest-scale piles of carbonate rock and enriched uranium for the last generation of humanity to run through the Giant Nuclear Furnaces.

            This sounds pretty neat and I would read it if it’s readily available.

          • LHN says:

            @psmith: Start around here and follow the replies, especially by John and by Willam Hyde.

            https://groups.google.com/d/msg/rec.arts.sf.written/oZiDrRVbsVY/qBnoHoaZPNQJ

        • herbert herberson says:

          South Africa, say, or worse. Venus is definitely worse than South Africa, but the difference isn’t quite so stark as you paint it.

          jesus fucking Christ. That’s it. I’m through with this racist shithole

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I mean, I hate to bring it up, but I do hear white people in South Africa are starting to come under serious persecution. Doubt that’s going to change your mind vis-a-vis leaving though, given the going term for such persecution among certain groups.

      • The fact that people with an ideological commitment X want X ish solutions to problem Y isn’t unusual and isn’t confined to the left..neoliberals think markets are the solution to almost everything, gun rights people think armed teachers are the answer to school shootings, etc.

  5. J Mann says:

    Vox did update their point on Flynn. Originally, they wrote:

    Here, too briefly, are some facts to ponder — facts that Murray was not challenged to consider by Harris, who holds a PhD in neuroscience, although they are known to most experts in the field of intelligence.

    – The Flynn effect, named for the political scientist and IQ researcher James Flynn, is the term many scholars use to describe the remarkable rise in IQ found in many countries over time. There has been an 18-point gain in average IQ in the US from 1948 to 2002. One way to put that into perspective is to note that the IQ gap between black and white people today is only about half the gap between America as a whole now and America as a whole in 1948. Murray’s hand-waving about g does not make that extraordinary fact go away.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20170518144940/https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/5/18/15655638/charles-murray-race-iq-sam-harris-science-free-speech

    But over the next few days, Vox substituted the following:

    Here, too briefly, are some facts to ponder — facts that were insufficiently addressed in the podcast (or omitted entirely):

    – The Flynn effect, named for the political scientist and IQ researcher James Flynn, is the term many scholars use to describe the remarkable rise in IQ found in many countries over time. There has been an 18-point gain in average IQ in the US from 1948 to 2002. One way to put that into perspective is to note that the IQ gap between black and white people today is only about half the gap between America as a whole now and America as a whole in 1948. When asked about the Flynn effect by Harris, Murray responds with some hand-waving about g, a response that does not make the extraordinary fact of the Flynn effect go away.

    Clarification: This article has been read to say that Harris did not ask Murray about the “Flynn effect,” the increase in IQ scores over time. That wasn’t our intent. They did discuss the phenomenon. We meant to say that Harris didn’t challenge Murray enough on its implications, and Murray’s answers on it were inadequate. The passage has been revised.

    I thought Harris challenged Murray on the Flynn effect – I guess it’s up to the readers whether they’re convinced by Murray’s answer, but I wouldn’t call it “handwaving,” I would call it a disagreement.

    (My understanding is that Murray thinks that the Flynn effect doesn’t appear to be in the same areas of g where researchers have found intra-group differences and therefore is worthy of note but not particularly likely to cast light on the problem. The Vox authors aren’t clear why they think the Flynn effect is relevant to the question, which makes the disagreement hard to score.)

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Thanks – I looked for that but somehow missed it. I’ve updated the post.

    • Fossegrimen says:

      The usual (strong) argument for why the Flynn effect is relevant goes:

      1: An unknown factor X has changed IQ substantially over a relatively short time.
      2: This factor may have worked differently on blacks and whites.
      3: Therefore it is possible that the IQ disparity and also achievement gap is caused by the Flynn effect

      The weaker and more annoying version involves assuming that 2 is obviously true and that it is caused by white people preventing blacks from getting access to X.

      I am all in favour of investigating the Flynn effect; either 2 and 3 is true and we can get a lot of smart black people or at worst we learn something new and interesting about how IQ change over a couple generations. I’m good with either.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Therefore it is possible that the IQ disparity and also achievement gap is caused by the Flynn effect

        I believe this gets it backwards.

        Given that the Flynn effect is larger than observed racial disparity, it strongly suggests that the observed racial disparity may not be hereditary at all, as it proves non-hereditary effects are strong enough on their own (and we know that the non-hereditary environment of blacks and whites has been quite different in aggregate).

        • albatross11 says:

          The Flynn effect shows that environmental (in a very broad sense) changes can shift raw scores on IQ tests by quite a bit, more even than the black/white IQ difference if you go back far enough. That demonstrates that the black/white IQ difference could plausibly be entirely environmental. And indeed, this is the same issue that comes up generally here–blacks and whites in the US live in different enough circumstances that it’s really going to be hard to untangle environmental or genetic effects.

          You can try to control for some of the environmental differences between blacks and whites to untangle this stuff. The most extreme version of that involves transracial adoption. My understanding is that there’s not a ton of data there, but the data that exists does show a substantial closing of the IQ gap. (But someone please tell me if I’m wrong.) I know that if you simply control for (or partition out) blacks from high socioeconomic status or income, you also narrow the gap but don’t eliminate it. That presumably captures some of the environmental differences, but not all of them.

          Actually, given the heritability of IQ and the lower fertility of more educated people in most first-world countries, the Flynn effect raises some serious questions, because what we’d *expect* to see is falling IQ scores (as fewer smart people reproduced than dumb people); instead, we see rising IQ scores.

          A critical question about the Flynn effect is whether it represents people actually getting smarter, or whether it represents something more like people being more generally savvy about paper-and-pencil tests and IQ-test-like questions.

          As an example of this, think of increasing average height over time. That’s a real increase–something physically changed and everyone got taller.

          Now, imagine giving everyone a test on a computer console in 1977 vs 2017. It’s quite plausible that the average performance on the tests would go up substantially in 2017, because by then, everyone is familiar enough with computers that they’re comfortable with the setup and the cognitive complexity of the test is really just what’s on the test. In 1977, maybe a substantial fraction of test-takers would be spending a lot of mental cycles trying to figure out how the heck to use this weird TV-looking thing with typewriter attached to answer these questions.

          I’ve read the claim that there are technical reasons to think that the Flynn effect is more like everyone getting better at taking the tests rather than everyone getting smarter, but I don’t really know enough to independently evaluate those arguments.

          • bbartlog says:

            The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study showed only a small effect in terms of closing the gap. Indeed depending on how you want to parse the results you could argue that it shows no gap-closing effect at all (the adopted white cohort had average IQ 106 at age 17, the black cohort – those with two black biological parents – had IQ 89). There is also little support in the results for a negative effect from self-identifying as black or being culturally affected by stereotypes somehow. The half-black/half-white adoptees were intermediate in IQ score (99 at age 17), which is about what you’d expect from simple genetic effects but rather at variance with what we would get if the lower scores were a result of being culturally classified as black.
            Not a huge sample size though.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Transracial_Adoption_Study

      • J Mann says:

        One problem is that Murray’s position is “we don’t yet know whether the observed disparity is environmental, genetic, or if a combination, what the combination is, but my personal guess is that it’s a combination.”

        Turkmenier, et al.’s position is “the current state of knowledge is such that Murray’s position is absurd and junk science.”

        If you accept the responses to Turkmenier that the gap hasn’t closed much, if at all, I don’t see how the Flynn effect isn’t consistent with both the combination hypothesis and the entirely environmental hypothesis. The Flynn effect might close the gap if it starts to level off for whites earlier than for blacks, but if the rising tide continues to lift all boats, then any closure of the gap will at best be minor.

        In the podcast, Murray says that the Flynn effect is interesting and needs more study, but that so far it’s not promising on closing the gap because the areas where the Flynn effect shows most improvement aren’t the areas where the gap is measured. Turkminier isn’t very clear why this is “hand-waving”, but I’d love to learn more.

    • J Mann says:

      Vox did a follow up, which addresses a number of these issues in detail.

      https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/6/15/15797120/race-black-white-iq-response-critics

      • albatross11 says:

        Reading this, I had a couple factual questions and one basic complaint.

        The factual questions:

        a. There is a large difference between the claim of a 15 point IQ difference and the claim of a 9.5 point IQ difference. Is this just something Murray’s wrong on? (Or maybe his data is outdated?) Is there enough data that we can all agree on the *size* of the gap? Does the difference here come down to whether we’re controlling for other stuff like family socioeconomic status (SES)?

        b. The fact that heritability of IQ is higher for low SES than for high SES kids seems really important, because it suggests that we’re leaving money on the table as a society.

        That matters a lot, and I’ll come back to it in a separate comment.

        My complaint:

        c. The authors are claiming (or letting Vox claim on their behalf) that Murray is peddling pseudoscience on race, when the case they’re actually making is that he’s expressing an opinion about a factual question (whether the black/white IQ difference is substantially genetic) for which there’s not strong evidence either way.

        Those two seem *really* different to me. I’m not any kind of an expert in this field, so I can’t independently evaluate whether Murray’s opinion is more likely to be right than Nisbet’s. But one thing the authors have *not* done, at least to my mind, is made the case that Murray’s position on this issue is pseudoscience. Turkheimer’s argument actually seems to me like it should lead him to condemn Nisbet as bitterly as he condemns Murray. If the whole question of how much of the black/white IQ difference is genetic vs environmental is simply impossible to form an informed opinion on, then shouldn’t they be complaining with equal bitterness about anyone who says that the difference is 100% environmental?

        Is there a way for an outsider to the field to get any sense of what the likely range of answers is to that question?

        • Aapje says:

          But one thing the authors have *not* done, at least to my mind, is made the case that Murray’s position on this issue is pseudoscience

          I agree. If this level of subtle disagreement is pseudoscience, then much of science is pseudoscience, because you often see disagreements of this sort.

          Ultimately, the main difference between Vox and Harris/Murray is that the former argue that there is insufficient evidence to state that it is likely that there is some genetic differences in IQ between races, while the latter argue that the evidence is strong enough to make that claim.

          They mostly disagree about the size of the evidence, not the way it is pointing.

          • albatross11 says:

            I guess the other thing I’d love to see is one of the authors here coming onto Sam Harris’ podcast to discuss where they agree and where they differ with Murray.

      • albatross11 says:

        The linked article (the Vox article responding to criticisms of the previous Vox article criticizing Murray and Harris) pointed out that the heritability of IQ is much higher for high-SES (wealthy and high class) kids than for low-SES (poor and low class) kids. And I said that this is a big deal, that it implies that we are, as a society, leaving money on the table. Indeed this kind of discussion is why I think we ought to be discussing this whole field openly and without no-platformings and riots and accusations of pseudoscience being tossed around.

        To see why this is a big deal, you need to ask why we would see this pattern. Why would IQ be more heritable among high-SES (wealthy, upper class) kids than low-SES (poor, lower class) kids?

        Let’s assume that your intelligence (as approximately measured by IQ) comes down to some mix of your genes, your environment, and random stuff outside anyone’s control.

        Now, imagine we have some set of “best practices” for raising kids. Probably this is something like a safe, low-violence environment with both parents present and plenty of food to eat, with books and intelligent conversation and no lead paint chips on the walls and such.

        What would happen if we looked at a bunch of kids raised with those best practices? They would still have variation in IQ, since that comes from genes, random stuff, and environment. But they’d have less variation, because they’d all be getting about the best environment anyone knew how to give them. So most of the remaining variation would be split between genes and random stuff. In other words, the part that gets assigned to genes (the heritability) will be higher for these kids. We made the environment close to optimal for almost all these kids, so the environmental contribution to IQ became about the same for all of them. So more of the remaining variation came from genes.

        Now, suppose we had a group of kids where some families followed the best practices, and some didn’t, and some followed some but not others. What would we observe? We’d see variation in their IQs, too. (More variation, in fact.) But now, when we measured out the causes, differences in environment would account for more of that variation. The effect of genes would be less important, because kids were raised in such different environments. We’d see lower heritability of IQ in those kids.

        The implication here is that:

        a. high SES parents are providing a pretty uniform environment, in terms of the stuff that matters for IQ. So genetic differences drive a lot of observed differences in IQ.

        b. low SES parents are providing a pretty inconsistent environment, some doing well, others doing poorly. So genetic differences get mixed up with environmental differences in IQ.

        That implies that there are best practices that could be adopted by more low-SES families, to help their kids out. You could imagine trying to do that with government programs like headstart or universal pre-K. I gather Murray is skeptical that these will have much impact because in general, the effects tend to fade over time. And Turkheimer et al think that the fact they work for a little while means we’re onto something and we should try more.

        I’d love to see the authors discuss this with Murray, actually. My guess is that Murray would point to the social dysfunction in the white working/lower classes he described in _Coming Apart_ as a likely explanation for the difference in environments. And I’d love to see smart people with the relevant expertise trying to untangle that.

        For example, is heritability of IQ substantially different in blacks and whites? Is it substantially different in single-parent vs two-parent families? When we just flat give poor families more money, do we change heritability of IQ, or average IQ of their kids?

        All of this implies thinking of kids’ IQs as something we’d like to raise. I’ll acknowledge there are some skulls along the road here–we ought not to use this as an excuse to send poor kids to boarding schools to take away their culture, or to sterilize the poor, or some such horror. But it sure seems worthwhile to look at whether there’s anything we can do here that’s both useful and non-horrible.

        • grrath says:

          All of this implies thinking of kids’ IQs as something we’d like to raise. I’ll acknowledge there are some skulls along the road here–we ought not to use this as an excuse to send poor kids to boarding schools to take away their culture, or to sterilize the poor, or some such horror. But it sure seems worthwhile to look at whether there’s anything we can do here that’s both useful and non-horrible.

          This is the philosophy that I don’t really understand. Why do we need to raise the IQ of everyone to a certain level? I think the goal of closing gaps is noble but if this does not actually lead to broad changes in achievement then there is not necessarily going to be much of a benefit. For the most part, IQ has very low meaning for anyone close to the middle of the bell curve. If self-reported black people close the 10 IQ point gap with white people, will this actually lead to any change? Not to mention, wouldn’t this indirectly decrease the IQ’s of whites since IQ is a normally distributed value?

          Why do we believe that people with higher IQ are better in some way? If we increased the IQ of everyone by 50 points, all I expect happening is that PhD’s will be worth absolutely nothing and everyone would be too distracted trying to solve Navier-Stokes equations to work in the mines and keep the economy running.

          • Why do we believe that people with higher IQ are better in some way?

            The answer in The Bell Curve was that IQ correlates with lots of desirable outcomes–stable marriage, income, … .

            If self-reported black people close the 10 IQ point gap with white people, will this actually lead to any change? Not to mention, wouldn’t this indirectly decrease the IQ’s of whites since IQ is a normally distributed value?

            What matters isn’t the number, it’s the characteristic the number measures. Would you similarly argue that raising real income isn’t worth doing because there will still be as many people below the median as before?

            If we increased the IQ of everyone by 50 points, all I expect happening is that PhD’s will be worth absolutely nothing and everyone would be too distracted trying to solve Navier-Stokes equations to work in the mines and keep the economy running.

            You seem to be assuming that the economy is a zero sum game. If everyone got smarter, at the very worst everyone could do the job he is doing better. More plausibly, jobs where intelligence wasn’t worth much would tend to be replaced, as the supply of low IQ workers went down and of high income workers went up.

          • grrath says:

            The answer in The Bell Curve was that IQ correlates with lots of desirable outcomes–stable marriage, income, … .

            Most statisticians would say that correlations without a plausible causal mechanism do not give enough evidence to suggest that raising that value is going to lead to the same gains marriage, income etc. Not to mention, those metrics in and of themselves are not 100% positive. (Is it better if high IQ individuals are more likely to stay in a stable marriage where they’re being abused?)

            What matters isn’t the number, it’s the characteristic the number measures. Would you similarly argue that raising real income isn’t worth doing because there will still be as many people below the median as before?

            So again, back to my main point, why are we talking about IQ? Wouldn’t it be better to focus on the characteristics in a more granular way than looking at broad correlative measures? If we want people to have higher incomes, we could easily just change the prerequisites of getting into high income fields. Without a causal mechanism of how IQ actually functions to increase incomes, then there’s no real reason to manipulate this number over any other. Are higher income individuals actually better at their jobs or are they just better at capturing higher salaries?

            You seem to be assuming that the economy is a zero sum game. If everyone got smarter, at the very worst everyone could do the job he is doing better. More plausibly, jobs where intelligence wasn’t worth much would tend to be replaced, as the supply of low IQ workers went down and of high income workers went up.

            I was referring to the pure number being normalized to the population and therefore seemingly zero-sum but I concede that I wasn’t clear. Over time the economy would definitely stabilize but are you assuming that the number of robotics PhD’s for example is the main limiting factor of removing low income jobs? What about raw resources or other bottlenecks in the process? There is only a limited amount of people who are allowed to gain college admission in America and worldwide. How will these new high IQ individuals actually change the economy without institutional support? More plainly, how does a higher IQ causally lead to an “improvement” in the economy and where does the data support this beyond correlations?

            Sorry if I’m asking a lot of questions. It just seems to me that people are making a lot of assumptions based on (admittedly rigorous) statistical concepts.

          • If we want people to have higher incomes, we could easily just change the prerequisites of getting into high income fields.

            It sounds as though you think income is unrelated to productivity–that doctors get a high income because they are allowed to put M.D. after their names, not because they are providing useful services.

            If we want people in general to have higher incomes we have to increase the total output of the society. Making entry to fields easier might do that, but not because they are high income–barriers to entry for barbers or flower arrangers or hair braiders make the society poorer too.

            Without a causal mechanism of how IQ actually functions to increase incomes

            I would think the causal mechanism was obvious. IQ is a measure, no doubt imperfect, of people’s ability to process information. Isn’t it obvious that that is a useful skill and so tends to make people more productive?

            Over time the economy would definitely stabilize but are you assuming that the number of robotics PhD’s for example is the main limiting factor of removing low income jobs? What about raw resources or other bottlenecks in the process?

            You are imagining a rigid economy where single factors bottleneck production. That isn’t how real economies work. Output is a continuous function of lots of inputs. Making more of any one input available tends to increase output.

          • grrath says:

            It sounds as though you think income is unrelated to productivity–that doctors get a high income because they are allowed to put M.D. after their names, not because they are providing useful services.

            If we want people in general to have higher incomes we have to increase the total output of the society. Making entry to fields easier might do that, but not because they are high income–barriers to entry for barbers or flower arrangers or hair braiders make the society poorer too.

            I agree. So how does IQ actually help with this? How does it make an individual more productive? Can a higher IQ doctor cure more patients per day than a lower IQ one? What is the actual differential that we are looking for? Population level statistics don’t tell us this. The point about raising incomes was that adjusting arbitrary numbers does not necessarily lead to improvements in their correlatives.

            I would think the causal mechanism was obvious. IQ is a measure, no doubt imperfect, of people’s ability to process information. Isn’t it obvious that that is a useful skill and so tends to make people more productive?

            No, it is absolutely not obvious. No high-IQ skill occurs in isolation and if you ask a surgeon for example, most of their time is spent scheduling surgeries, rounding with their patients and doing surgeries. A CEO tries to solve the problems that occur in their organisation in the most efficient way. IQ gives no information about how a person is going to be ‘better’ at these activities than others. This is like putting people on a football team solely based on their bench press. Correlative but there is a large gulf between the measurement and the actual activity.

            You are imagining a rigid economy where single factors bottleneck production. That isn’t how real economies work. Output is a continuous function of lots of inputs. Making more of any one input available tends to increase output.

            If anything, my model is more dynamic since it assumes that increasing IQ is not going to automatically lead to better output. The economy is complex and increasing one input is not guaranteed to increase overall production because of other bottlenecks in the process. High-skill labor is no different to low-skill in most models and we shouldn’t assume there is going to be a productive space for all of these super-geniuses to perform their breakthroughs. There is very likely to be a point of diminishing returns here.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            “I would think the causal mechanism was obvious”

            Hey look at this @Douglas Knight, people are jumping from predictive to causal. Only took two days!

          • engleberg says:

            @grrath- ‘this is like putting people on a football team solely based on their bench press.’

            IQ is (bench press) times (sprint speed) times (stuff I don’t understand, plus flaws in various IQ tests). Football teams look really hard at both sprint speed and bench press. You are giving ‘solely’ a workout.

          • Rick Hull says:

            @grrath

            So how does IQ actually help with this? How does it make an individual more productive? Can a higher IQ doctor cure more patients per day than a lower IQ one? What is the actual differential that we are looking for?

            One way to think about IQ is success in the face of difficulty. A student with a higher IQ is more likely to be accepted at a difficult medical school, more likely to graduate, with more honors, and more retained knowledge, if we grant the premise that IQ relates to information processing ability. This results in a more capable doctor able to succeed at more difficult tasks. We might see this productivity boost in patients per day, but more likely we are talking about success rates in difficult cases, or the ability to even attempt difficult cases.

            This is just a narrative, not a proven statement of fact. Does it seem implausible to you?

        • grrath says:

          @Rick Hull

          Nope. Not implausible at all. The burden is on you to prove that that is actually what IQ is measuring. After that, show how neurons integrate information differently based on IQ measurements. After that, demonstrate how gene transcription leads to increase in those skills and the proteins and metabolites that lead to that increase. After all of that, maybe we can start talking about implications of genes and IQ.

          I like your theory, it sounds nice and tidy but sounding nice is not a useful characteristic of scientific theories. Everyone who isn’t willing to think critically about this topic would stand to learn that. (If you’ve accepted or rejected this argument on the face value of cool graphs, then you’re probably in that camp.)

          • Rick Hull says:

            To the contrary, if you find my story plausible, care about the truth and the underlying biological mechanisms, and consider yourself a scientist, then the burden is on you to show it true or false. I’m just a computer programmer.

            We’ve got one plausible story now. Do you have any alternatives? Which part of my story do you find least plausible?

  6. flockoflambs says:

    Re: the Montana special election. I had responded to Jadagul here.

    Mostly the really important point to get out is that the Dem House nominee in 2016 got 40%. So looking at improvement in House election results, this is only a growth of 4%. Not very good when the prediction is “Democrats need a 4-6% swing to take the House in 2018.”

    More broadly, it goes to show that there are different data sets you can choose from. 538 chooses to look at change relative to Presidential performance, instead of relative to House performance. Largely because the House election data is very messy. But that’s still a choice, and the human level choices impact even what people consider “purely statistical analysis.”

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Isn’t a growth of 4% pretty good when swing states are typically won by 1-2% margins?

      • flockoflambs says:

        Are we talking Presidential or House here? Because the House is much more biased against Democrats (partially due to gerrymandering, but also due to geographic concentration of Democrats) than the Electoral College is. Which is why 538 says Democrats need 4-6 points of swing away from the 2016 House results.

        It’s also less good given factors that won’t apply in the midterms: national focus on this race meant there should have been fundraising parity, whereas not every swing race in 2018 will get a national donor base involved in it. Plus the bodyslamming thing.

      • bintchaos says:

        4% would have delivered HRC the election in these battleground states.

        NOTE: non-Nate Silver data so i cant be steel-manned

        • flockoflambs says:

          But we would like to win the House in 2018.

          • bintchaos says:

            Could happen…
            its early times and Montana isnt exactly a bellwether– I think some recent “jungle primary” elections…Kansas, Georigia, California have shown an up to 8% flip in republican districts.
            Watch Georgia 6th for the Ossoff/Handel election later this month.

      • Lasagna says:

        There’s the danger of attaching too much importance to these numbers. This is a specific House race involving specific voters, in a special election, between two specific candidates. The voters cast their votes based on those facts, not based on national trends.

        Trying to use this race to guess how the House of Representatives is going to change in a year and a half seems pointless. If the Democrats had run an amazing candidate who clicked with his district’s voters, he’d have won. If what’s-his-name had clocked a mother of three and member of the PTA instead of a British journalist, he’d have lost.

        I feel like every time these conversations start, we enter “but the Democrats start with 246 electoral votes” territory. That was never true. They start with zero, just like the Republicans.

        A change from 40% to 44% of the vote for the Democrats in Montana just tells you that the Democrat lost (again). It doesn’t tell you how Pennsylvania is going to vote in 2018.

        • flockoflambs says:

          The approach of intellectual humility is totally true in this case. I wrote the post to point out the desperate overconfidence of the Vox piece, that was ignoring a lot of damning data, just to reassure its readers the next morning in the wake of a symbolic defeat.

          Given what we know, there is a decent chance Democrats might take the House in 2018 (which is absolutely needed because the Senate is out of reach due to which seats are up, to get real congressional investigations going and stop the pipeline of toxic legislation.) But it didn’t really get any more likely with a 7 point loss in Montana, and there’s enough reasons to be nervous that we shouldn’t be cheering ourselves up over this loss.

  7. gwern says:

    Big systematic review and meta-analysis: what actually helps lower-income students succeed? Read the paper or the Freddie deBoer blog post, which summarizes the results as “human beings”.

    My sides when a meta-analysis aggregates a bunch of small nulls and its only mention of small-study effects or publication bias is

    In addition to the analyses reported in this section, we evaluated publication bias for all studies and for tutoring studies separately, using funnel plots. There were indications of publication bias when we included all studies, but no clear indications for tutoring studies. All other components were evaluated in too few studies to be examined in this way.

    (There is always publication bias, and publication bias checks are low powered, so if your aggregate shows publication bias, all subtypes are biased.)

  8. qwints says:

    Regarding urban charter schools, the most obvious issue with the claim are selection effects (more motivated students/students of more motivated parents go to charter schools, and charter schools can more easily exclude less motivated/more disruptive students). CREDO, who Kingsland is citing, claims to control for this using protocol they call the Virtual Control Record.

    Freddie DeBoer questioned the effectiveness of the control here and linked to a blog discussing another possible issue, survivorship bias (where CREDO is excluding bad charters that close) here.

    • AKL says:

      There is a natural experiment in Boston where charter school applications regularly outstrip supply, and students are awarded slots in a random lottery. Researchers examined longitudinal, individual student level data to compare lottery winners (who attended charters) with lottery losers (who attended public schools) and found [relatively] huge effects.

      Brookings has a very nice writeup.

      Edit:
      Boston seems nonrepresentative of the national charter school experience, however.

      • Virbie says:

        I don’t know much about what the topic, but in additional to what AKL said, the article mentions taht New Orleans expanded their charter schools to serve 95% of its schoolkids and sustained the quality.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @AKL:

        In marked contrast, we find that the effects of charters in the suburbs and rural areas of Massachusetts are not positive. Our lottery estimates indicate that students at these charter schools do the same or worse than their peers at traditional public schools

        The finding was specific to urban charter schools in MA, and not a general finding. (and they, as you say, also mention Ohio as a counter example). This would suggest we need to understand why certain charter schools have positive effect, and others neutral or negative. It doesn’t look like we can just say “accio charter” and predict any particular effect.

        • The Nybbler says:

          If Boston is anything like Philadelphia or New Jersey, it’s no surprise the charters did a lot better in the urban areas than suburbs. The difference wouldn’t be in the charters but in the schools they are drawing from; many urban schools aren’t doing much but warehousing students. If the effects of school are very non-linear — very high for the first increment in quality with diminishing returns after that — then it would be much harder for any school to make a large difference over all but the worst public schools.

        • AKL says:

          @HeelBearCub

          It doesn’t look like we can just say “accio charter” and predict any particular effect.

          Totally agree. IIRC the authors briefly discuss possible reasons for Boston’s atypical results vs. e.g. Ohio, but do not go in depth. Even supposing that Boston charters are “better” than public, non-charter alternatives, we can’t do more than hypothesize about the “why” at this point.

          I would be very interested in good research along those lines, especially research that attempted to disentangle situationally specific factors from practices that could be successfully “exported.”

    • Jaskologist says:

      The link is about the financial side of charter schools. In this case, selection effects are irrelevant.

      Let’s assume:
      1. Charter schools have the same effect academically as normal schools; any higher scores are simply a matter of getting better students.
      2. Charter schools are 20% cheaper.

      In this case, charter schools would still be a good idea just because they save money. If you can select off some portion of your top top students and educate them cheaper, you have freed up that money for other things.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        2. Charter schools are 20% cheaper.

        Only if that 20% cheaper is fully generalizable. It matters a great deal why the charter school is cheaper.

        • Matt M says:

          Why? So long as #1 is true and the results are held constant?

          Let’s say that charter schools ONLY work for bright, motivated students. Per Jask’s point, we could then move all the bright, motivated students to charter schools and save 20% on them, thus freeing up that extra 20% to be used to improve things for the less bright in the public schools.

          Obviously if the charter school model only works for some small subset of students that makes it less scalable, but I feel like “well this isn’t infinitely scalable” is hardly a reason to avoid doing something AT ALL…

          • albatross11 says:

            Probably anything non-horrible will work well for the top 20% of students. Filter out the top 1% of students, and you can probably educate them with Khan academy videos and workbooks and minimal supervision and do fine.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            There is more than one reason why, but let’s take one, which is a kind of adverse selection.

            If what Charter Schools do is simply pick off the kids who cost 20% less to educate (remember, students/families are self-selecting into the charter system before the lottery), then you don’t have any actual cost savings, you are just grouping the less expensive and more expensive kids and calling that cost savings. If you look at the cost of the whole system it might actually be rising!

            Imagine a very simple model wherein I buy two kinds of cookies, Oreos and Chips Ahoy. I buy the same number of Oreos and Chips Ahoy.

            If I calculate my per cookie cost it’s $0.10.

            Someone offers to sell my me Oreos for for $0.08 and I jump at it, but afterwards, my per cookie cost at the first supplies jumps to $0.13. It turns out that those Oreos were actually costing me $0.07 at the first supplier, but I did not realize it, because I thought I was buying undifferentiated “cookies”.

          • Matt M says:

            If what Charter Schools do is simply pick off the kids who cost 20% less to educate

            You are assuming the existing public schools are already educating these students for 20% less than average students. I’m a bit suspicious of that.

            Does a teacher spend less time grading the papers of smarter students? Does the school buy fewer fancy technological gizmos because the smart students don’t really need them? Maybe, but probably not to the full extent possible if you physically separated the smart students out and allowed the entire school to be specifically designed for the needs of a specific type of student.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            @Matt M-
            I mostly agree with your broader point, but regarding:

            Does a teacher spend less time grading the papers of smarter students?

            Almost certainly. I’ve graded papers, and it’s at least an order of magnitude faster to confirm that an answer is correct than to puzzle through a wrong answer trying to determine just how wrong it is.

      • qwints says:

        I understand Kingsland’s argument is “charter schools can probably get better, or at least equal, results in low-income areas for 20% less cost” and that this implies we “as a society” should educate more students in public schools.

        That conclusion relies on the claim that charter schools produce “at least equal” results, which might not be the case even if they get higher test scores. That’s the point I was making. You can’t just assume away the possibility that charter schools might be worse for students.

        As HeelBearCub points out, the 20% cheaper figure may not scale. It also may not be the case that charter schools are truly 20% cheaper. It might be that charter schools are just avoiding expenses that are required to provide universal public education (Kingsland notes and adjusts for special education, but there could be others that charters would have to undergo if they took more students).

  9. The Nybbler says:

    Noah Smith: The US has forgotten how to do infrastructure.

    In which he finds the largest part of his answer, and glibly slides right past it. The Washington Post article he links shows time to complete Environmental Impact Statement for large highway projects going from 2 years to 8 years since the 1970s. Before then, it was 0 years, because no such statement was required. And the statement itself is only the smallest part; because of various environmental rights of action, as soon as you announce a project, every environmental and NIMBY group in the area sues, and you’re held up as you deal with each of those suits.

    • poipoipoi says:

      My personal favorite: The new Bay Bridge, which they spent 11 years doing the paperwork on before spending 14 years actually building the thing.

      After the original bridge fell down in an earthquake.

      /My personal solution: Every EIR should, in the alternatives section, have a section called: “Well, if we don’t do this, they all move to Vegas and run the A/C 24/7 because it’s 112 degrees while living in their 3000 sq. ft. mansions and driving their SUV’s to work”.

      • cassander says:

        I prefer the southeast high speed rail corridor. Established during the first Bush administration, it has not yet finished its environmental impact studies. And the project consists mostly of upgrades to existing right of way.

        • tmk says:

          In cases like that I wonder if the issue is not lack of political will to complete the project. Actually building would cost money, canceling would be bad PR or embarrassing, so let it linger in the planning phase forever.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      (1) Not clear that environmental paperwork fully explains what is going wrong. If that were the limiting factor, we’d expect building to take a long time to get started, but to go fast once it’s begun. (2) But certainly environmental paperwork slows things down. Then the question is, is the problem too much paperwork, or is the US as bad at completing paperwork as it is at construction? (3) You point to a reason why the latter might be the case: the US administers via the courts when it should be administering via the executive. I’m 50% on this, if only because America’s litigiousness can be used to explain just about anything. What percentage of construction costs go to law firms?

      • Nornagest says:

        What percentage of construction costs go to law firms?

        This wouldn’t fully account for the expense, because chilling effects. If you drag your feet or overbuild on a project because you’re afraid of getting sued, you end up spending more money even if no one actually sues you.

      • christhenottopher says:

        If the environmental paperwork is also accompanied by higher environmental standards (which is theoretically the point of all this red tape), then this could also imply things like more high quality materials, more cautious construction practices, and more specialized labor all of which would raise costs in ways not reflected by administrative/direct legal costs. In addition this would also fit with overall longer construction times. Of course in that case we might be getting some benefits from the expense and we’re really asking for a cost-benefits analysis (I suspect current standards have likely overshot the ideal on environmental safety, but I can’t be sure without more looking into the differences in results from older vs newer practices).

  10. Nornagest says:

    Noah Smith: The US has forgotten how to do infrastructure.

    Pretty handwavey. The first half of the article, explaining why infrastructure costs aren’t due to various things, is good, although I didn’t find the bit on environmental protections satisfying (“it’s hard to believe that countries such as France would be so willing to pave over their natural beauty and slaughter endangered species”… well, things that are hard to believe happen all the time, and the US has some of the strictest environmental laws in the world). It goes downhill after that. The kind of general mismanagement he describes isn’t an explanation, it’s a placeholder for a missing one.

    • The difference is that in France they have well trained bureaucrats who say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and can be asked about things ahead of times whereas in the US we save money on bureaucrats by just letting everybody sue every development project on environmental grounds and battle it out in the courts. That reduced the sticker price of environmental protection when the relevant law was being passed.

      • The Nybbler says:

        We have bureaucrats. But ours can only say “no” and “approved”. So they’re just another hurdle; you get an “approved” from the bureaucrats and you still have to deal with all the other potential vetoers.

      • poignardazur says:

        I honestly don’t know how good the French government’s bureaucracy is.

        But from the second/third hand accounts I’ve heard of it, it’s probably not orders of magnitude above American ones. For one thing, French state employees are extremely hard to fire (the closest equivalent being “promoted to work in an out-of-the-way post, usually overseas”), which means administrations can often end up playing Negative Asset Hot Potato (or so I’m told). And there’s a shit ton of paperwork for everything.

        Also, we have worker strikes all the damn time. Especially the train workers. Seriously, they organize strikes several times a year.

    • albatross11 says:

      The sensible argument here isn’t that *any* environmental protections mess up infrastructure, merely that *our specific* environmental protections mess up infrastructure, via allowing NIMBY-motivated lawsuits to delay infrastructure projects for decades.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      I’d like to see more comparisons between building on land that has already been zoned for a purpose versus building on bridges and stuff, and I’d like to see public vs private comparisons. If the US really has forgotten how to build, someone smart stands to make a lot of money…

    • switchnode says:

      Rather. He conflates a less cumbersome process with less intent, which is absurd.

      (I do wonder how fair it is to lay the blame for inefficient or overly restrictive regulation/regulatory process in general on environmental protections specifically, but I don’t have the information to venture an opinion on it. Missing explanation, indeed—I’d welcome any recommendations on the topic.)

  11. meh says:

    “I’m just really glad that the piece admits that IQ is real, meaningful, and mostly hereditary.”

    My reading of the article does not see them whole heartedly accepting this. They are first presented under a headline ‘Flawed Logic’ and then attributed as ‘Murray’s premises’

    You’re really happy with this article?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Some quotes from the article:

      “Intelligence is meaningful. This principle comes closest to being universally accepted by scientific psychologists. Every clinical psychology program in the country trains students in IQ testing, tens of thousands of IQ tests are given in schools every year, and papers in mainstream scientific journals routinely include information about intelligence, even when IQ is not the main object of study. On a more basic level, who doesn’t notice that some people have larger vocabularies than others, can solve harder math problems or organize more complex projects? IQ tests reliably assess these individual differences. Moreover, people who do well on one kind of ability test also tend to do well on others, a phenomenon that is referred to as g, as in general intelligence.”

      “There is a vibrant ongoing debate about the biological reality of g, but intelligence tests can be meaningful and useful even if an essential inner g doesn’t exist at all. Good thinkers do well at lots of things, so a test that measures quality of thinking is a good predictor of life outcomes, including how well a person does in school, how well she performs in her job, even how long she lives.”

      “Intelligence is heritable. To say that intelligence is heritable means that, in general, people who are more similar genetically are also more similar in their IQ…Like the validity of intelligence testing, the heritability of intelligence is no longer scientifically contentious.”

      “Race differences in average IQ score. People who identify as black or Hispanic in the US and elsewhere on average obtain lower IQ scores than people who identify as white or Asian. That is simply a fact, and stating it plainly offers no support in itself for a biological interpretation of the difference.”

      I am happy about this because in the past I’ve seen people (especially the Voxes of the time) vigorously deny all of these points. Heck, they even discuss the “social construct” thing less badly than they could have.

      • meh says:

        Aren’t those quotes just an explanation of Murray’s view. The article says:
        “We, and many other scientific psychologists, believe the evidence supports a different view of intelligence, heritability, and race.”

        My reading is that a page or two down in the article, they are just explaining Murray’s points, how there is some consensus on those points, but that they disagree and there is also some support for their viewpoint. They do not seem to be accepting of the statements you quoted above, just stating them as Murray’s premises.

        The paragraph I wrote may sound like they are making reasonable arguments, but this article begin with “Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science… Sam Harris is the latest to fall for it”

        • Scott Alexander says:

          My interpretation is that those quotes are the authors (two of whom are pretty big-name IQ scholars) giving their own opinions.

          • meh says:

            Fair enough. I’m out of my expertise here to examine more specific points. It did feel to me as though as they led with ‘junk science’ but spent most of the article describing how most of Murray’s points were the consensus. I also find it laughable that Vox can say:

            “It is never a good thing to make poorly justified scientific claims”

            So I guess I can be happy that the article was not worse, but it still seems far from a desirable outcome.

    • albatross11 says:

      Far more people read the headline than the article. So the headline can be “let’s burn this hideous witch” and the body of the article can quietly point out that witchcraft doesn’t really have any power and nobody’s cow has actually been hexed.

      • Deiseach says:

        To quote GetReligion on who actually writes headlines:

        Every now and then, newspapers need to go out of their way to correct errors found in headlines, but not in stories.

        This would, for example, help news consumers understand that headlines – 99.9 percent of the time – are written by copy-desk editors who do not consult with the professionals who actually reported, wrote and edited the story in question.

        My first full-time job in journalism was working as a copy editor – laying out news pages, doing final edits and, yes, writing headlines. It’s hard work and you rarely have time to visit the newsroom for debates with reporters about the wording of headlines.

        • meh says:

          It’s well known editor’s make the headlines. But that doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands, and give passes all around. Whoever makes the title, it is an issue if most people are getting most of their content from the headline.

          • Deiseach says:

            But that doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands, and give passes all around.

            I agree (and things like the Rolling Stone story, where everyone involved wanted it to be true – or at least could be parsed as true – demonstrate this).

            But I would, in the past, have blamed reporters for letting misleading headlines go, so finding out that often reporters have no idea their carefully written and balanced story is going out with a headline saying “Witch hexes on rise – you may be at risk!” caused me to be a little more sympathetic to the persons of the press.

            If copy editors are sticking on attention-grabbing headlines, and if attention-grabbing headlines sell papers (or get page views), then it’s the business side of the media enterprise that needs to address this, and unfortunately I don’t think that “if it sells, keep doing it” is going to be discarded by the business side (which is primarily interested in how much advertising it can sell to generate revenue and not cluttering up the pages with all that reporting stuff).

          • meh says:

            But there are those enterprises where “if it sells, keep doing it” does not stop at the headline, and extends to content. Is the argument different in that case?

            Also, if reporters are given a pass at having no idea about the headlines, that does not give them an incentive to actually have an idea about what the headline will be.

        • albatross11 says:

          The thing is, way more people read headlines than read the stories, and way more people read the first couple paragraphs than continue to the end. So if you want to mislead people without lying to them, you imply the lie you want to tell in the headline and the first couple paragraphs of the story, and then bring up the full details that change the whole flavor of the story in the last couple paragraphs, preferably after the jump to A17.

          • meh says:

            Or you give a section header that says ‘Flawed Logic’, and a bullet list of 5 premises. Some paragraphs later say that you agree with 4 of the items, and only contest the last, because people are definitely not just reading the bullet list.

  12. 75th says:

    My brain’s so big its cancer gets cancer

  13. This weeks variation on there’s more than one country in the world, you know: why did nobody get cellphones in the forties?

    • baconbacon says:

      In 1945 how many countries in the world were rich enough and large enough to make it a worthwhile development project? Locking out the largest single potential market probably hinders development, no?

      • random832 says:

        What about bringing the device to market in one country with an eye to shaming other countries into moving on the regulation issues?

        • albatross11 says:

          The original cellphones were expensive and unwieldy toys for rich people. I’m skeptical that 1960s technology would have improved that much, even if the spectrum had been made available.

          • Exactly…the broadcast technology is only half the story..

          • baconbacon says:

            I’m skeptical that 1960s technology would have improved that much, even if the spectrum had been made available.

            This is why bureaucracies murder innovation, people put far to much weight on phrases like this. The future is unknowable, it has to be walked into to discover. If the US government had functionally made PCs illegal or unprofitable from 1950-1980 you would look back and say “well PCs weren’t ready for the mass market until the 80s anyway, so no big loss”, but this is wrong. You (and I and everyone) are functionally unable to predict what is necessary for technological change to sweep a country. It is unknowable if such a law would have pushed computing technology back 5, 10 or 50 years.

            However by eliminating spaces where ingenuity could generate massive gains it is almost certain that we have lost out on many advances… though it is impossible to know which.

        • baconbacon says:

          What about bringing the device to market in one country with an eye to shaming other countries into moving on the regulation issues?

          What about spending a few billion dollars connecting land lines across the US? If you are in the communications industry in the 40s and the single largest market just outlawed cell phones are you going to pour your money into cell phones or landlines?This decision might not be prohibitive on its own, but it heavily pushes technology in one direction.

      • tmk says:

        Large area is a negative for cellphone networks. It is much easier to cover a large population in a dense country. Low density does increase the value to the user a bit, if the rural area is actually covered, but not enough.

        As others have said, cell phones in the ’40s would hav been big, expensive car phones until the ’90s anyway. Digital electronics is what enabled cell phone mass adoption.

        • baconbacon says:

          Large area is a negative for cellphone networks. It is much easier to cover a large population in a dense country

          I wasn’t talking about large in a geographic sense, but large in a relative sense. The US has plenty of population dense areas you can cover and you don’t have to build nationwide service from day one. NYC is larger (population wise) and far denser than quite quite a few European countries.

          As others have said, cell phones in the ’40s would hav been big, expensive car phones until the ’90s anyway. Digital electronics is what enabled cell phone mass adoption.

          First this assumes that technology would have advanced the same with this different pathway opened up.

          Secondly, who cares? Lots of people would have loved to have big, expensive car phones during that time period. Instead we got some second (or 10th) best solution.

    • You need to look at British and German telecommunications expertise in the forties

      One thing the article doesn’t make clear is that early mobile communications meant car phones.

      The gear was even bigger than eighties handsets.

      So it was a toy of the rich. And backing TV was not exactly an insanely stupid choice in the sixties and seventies.

      • random832 says:

        It seems plausible that some portion of the size of the gear might be attributable to the amount of power required to communicate with a single central station per city.

        Some other portion might be attributable to the low frequencies.

        • And a huge chunk would be lack of miniaturisation in the sixties and seventies..the integrated circuit had barely been. Invented

          • Protagoras says:

            Yes, it seems overwhelmingly likely that this is really the main factor. It requires some now trivial electronics to handle the mobile phone doing things like connecting to the intended target and not generating conflicts with other phones, and in the mid 20th century those electronics would actually have been quite bulky and not at all trivial.

      • baconbacon says:

        So it was a toy of the rich.

        So were many medical advances, cars, computers, television, AC, refrigerators etc, when they were introduced.

        “just a toy of the rich” is frequently shorthand for “something amazing that we want to get to the public as soon as possible to increase the standard of living, and is an argument FOR not against.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          And also bicycles!

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Videos about weird but ridable bikes. There’s some overlap among the videos, but not that much.

            The first video is mostly bikes not for sale, but the later ones are mostly commercially available.

            I think the videos are at their best if you let yourself be surprised, but I’ll rot13 some descriptions in case you’d rather have some idea of the bikes.

            Fgenaqorrfg ovxrf, ovxrf onfrq ba rkrepvfr rdhvczrag (ryyvcgvpny, gernqzvyy), fubrf vafgrnq bs gverf, jbbq (sebz fvzcyr gb neg bowrpg), fznyy craal sneguvat, erirefr craal sneguvat, pbafgnag guvpxarff gevnathyne jurryf, ovxrf gung sbyq hc fhecevfvatyl fznyy, n snpr-sbejneq erphzonag ovxr gung ybbxf zber cenpgvpny guna gur hfhny ovxr, naq ba naq ba.

          • Aapje says:

            I went to a bicycle museum in The Netherlands and they had a lot of two seaters, frequently side by side. The reason was that these were primarily sold to rich people, who used it for touring and showing off.

            These were mostly popular in the period between the balance bicycle (the first type of bicycle) and the velocipede (a bicycle where the pedals are attached to the front wheel).

    • BBA says:

      Terminology matters. Mobile phones were in fact introduced to the US market in the 1940s, but they weren’t cellular phones – they couldn’t switch base stations mid-call, which limited their usefulness. As described in that article, MTS was cumbersome, requiring an operator to manually connect each call, but back then they didn’t have long-distance direct dialing on landlines either.

      Lack of radio bandwidth certainly didn’t help, but it’s not like AT&T was sitting around for 40 years with boxes full of DynaTACs (let alone iPhones) waiting for the FCC to grant their license, which the summary implies.

      Of course, Reason will blame the US government for anything. I can see them saying the FAA killed the Concorde and is the entire reason why we don’t have 2-hour transatlantic flights today.

    • bean says:

      Because the tech wasn’t there. The article, as others have pointed out, totally misses the difficulties inherent in making a cellular network, which is what makes the current system so revolutionary. As an example, the reason cell phones on planes were originally banned was to protect the cell network, not the planes. An analog cell at altitude basically violated the design assumptions, and tended to bounce between stations, knocking out other calls. This stuff is hard.
      They also seem to willfully distort ‘private use’, which, AIUI, was basically walkie-talkies with base stations. I don’t think they were switched, for one thing. The other important thing they miss is the Carterfone decision in 1968, which was about a device that attached a private radio to the phone system. Oddly enough, it’s best remembered today for laying the ground for things like answering machines, not for a bunch of people suddenly setting up their own radio relays into the phone system.
      (Also, it bears pointing out that Private Land Mobile Radio got started in 1927, well before even Reason claims that the idea for cell phones was around.)

  14. Eltargrim says:

    The swarm of bees outside Vox made me double-take, given that we had the exact same thing happen in my city just now. Coincidence? Probably.

  15. John Schilling says:

    Sadly, I think only about half of those cool-sounding titles exist in-game in Crusader Kings II. But I am likely to wind up playing a Byzantine Emperor (or possibly Empress) in the next generation of my current and final campaign. That should open up all the honorary titles that aren’t easy to see from the outside; I’ll be sure to go through the list and award as many as I can before I disband the Empire. Definitely want a Caesar and a Megaduke.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Caesar is an option: http://www.ckiiwiki.com/Honorary_titles#Byzantine_titles
      I seemed to recall the Steward being called Logothete, but I was wrong. Sakellarios is still cool, though.

      No luck on Megaduke, either. Though IIRC (haven’t played since pre-Horse Lords), “superduke” was the fan term for a character with two duke titles. (Also, when playing ERE, having hereditary doux is/was Doing It Wrong – strategoi(sp?) are/were far superior)

      • John Schilling says:

        And Mystikos is much cooler as a title for the Spymaster than as a glorified secretary,

        I want to say that the game recognizes “Grand Duke”, which is a fair translation for Megaduke, in at least some multi-duchy contexts, but I can’t swear to it. Will definitely appoint a few strategoi just to say that I did, but I’m not sure it’s the best strategy. Have never played as the ERE before, and will probably dismantle and disband the Empire not long after claiming it, so it probably won’t come up.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Yeah, like I said, I haven’t played in a while, and PDX keeps stirring the meta. Could be viceroyalties got hit with a nerfhammer. I liked ’em better than hereditary vassals, personally. If a viceroy was incompetent or uppity it was relatively doable to transfer control to someone better without pissing off the whole empire.

          AIUI the Doing It Wrong method was to have mixed hereditary and viceroyal vassals, since they aren’t overly fond of each other – if you can do pure hereditary ERE it would probably work.

          Dismantling sounds pretty entertaining, too. If you do an AAR I’d read it 🙂

          • John Schilling says:

            AIUI the Doing It Wrong method was to have mixed hereditary and viceroyal vassals, since they aren’t overly fond of each other

            Exactly. And I’ve already got a perfectly good Sicilian Norman Empire based on an elective Emperor over hereditary Dukes, so I’d rather incorporate as much of the former ERE as I safely can into that structure than try to run two separate Empires with two distinct systems of government.

            Or three, because the HRE is also potentially vulnerable if I do this right. Depending on how much of the HRE and ERE I have to cut away to keep the rest stable, this is going to be one messed-up Europe by the time I’m finished.

    • cassander says:

      I really want to like crusader kings. And I keep giving it chances, but every time I do, the same result ensues. I start with great enthusiasm, then almost immediately start getting annoyed about how it doesn’t really represent any of the really interesting aspects of feudalism. It does nothing with legitimacy, with the multi-hattedness nature of multiple holdings, little with dynastic relations, little with the difficulty of raising armies, the value of money, and the only real centrifugal force is rebellion. The great feudalism game has not yet been made.

      • Protagoras says:

        Yeah, I’ve recently been reading Hume’s history of England, and also recently doing some CKII playing, and the combination of the two meant that in reading Hume I was constantly struck at how little of what he described could be modeled in CKII.

        • cassander says:

          Yeah, the contrast to EUIV is pretty striking. If you read early modern european history, you can often describe what’s going on in EUIV mechanics. But there’s nothing in CKII that even tries to model the Guelph/Ghibelline conflict, the investiture controversy, the rapid and repeated waxings and wanings of the the power of the kings of france, the politics of crusades, or anything else.

      • John Schilling says:

        The simplistic economic model, including its (lack of) military implications, is my biggest complaint about the current version. But I’m not sure what you mean by “does nothing with legitimacy”; it clearly recognizes and I think reasonably approximates the effects of the various flavors of illegitimate and dubiously-legitimate children. Likewise papal vs royal investiture. And post-Conclave at least it does have nobles and councils effectively clawing back power from Kings who aren’t both strong and careful.

        ETA: Agree with cassander that the all-or-nothing spoils distribution of the Crusades eliminates some interesting and important politics.

        • cassander says:

          By legitimacy, I meant legitimacy of title, not in inheritance. Aside from a few minor opinion modifiers, the game treats titles you’ve had for a week the same as ones you’ve held for hundreds of years, titles you usurp or invent the same as those granted by emperors.

          And yeah, the all or nothing war results are a travesty, as are the extremely limited options for getting involved in the wars of your vassals/leige. Kingdom wars should be all about getting vassals on board.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Yeah, I think strict pyramid feudalism is a conceit you kinda just have to roll with for CK’s broader mechanics to make any sense as a game. There is a length-of-reign opinion mod, and the way usurpation is coded, it’s much more of a formalization of one’s gains than initiating a coup.

            The balance between blobbing and anti-blobbing is very tricky. There’s a Sid Meier vid out there somewhere with essentially that “People don’t like to play waning periods”. When things start to go downhill, only a small subset of an already niche genre find it enjoyable to keep playing instead of starting over.

            And, y’know, at least the Crusade results aren’t the HOI4 peace conferences. It’d make more sense with a properly multiplayer game, but in-depth politics with an AI is currently not really plausible. Attempts frequently just lead to exploits.

          • cassander says:

            there are ways to make pyramid feudalism work more interestingly though. For example, when you go to war, you shouldn’t just get to raise vassal troops. Instead, you should get ways to call your vassals into war, like allies, and when you or they get those calls, there should be a range of options from full throated support to active opposition.

            Or with titles, not all titles should be equal. 1000 year old dukedoms should give more prestige than one created yesterday, and you should be able to build up the prestige of your titles by getting them recognized by figures like the pope or emperor, particularly if you’ve acquired it by dubious means.

            Basically, you need to make the game more about building consensus and less about murdering your inlaws.

          • John Schilling says:

            For example, when you go to war, you shouldn’t just get to raise vassal troops. Instead, you should get ways to call your vassals into war, like allies, and when you or they get those calls, there should be a range of options from full throated support to active opposition.

            Hmm. Examples of feudal vassals in the high middle ages openly rebelling against their lord because said lord waged a war the vassal didn’t support? Not saying it never happened, but examples don’t come immediately to mind.

            The “call your vassals as allies”, is I believe the current mechanic for pagan realms. For Christians and Moslems, vassals never officially refuse to support their lord’s wars, but the number of men they send passive-aggressively depends on their present opinion of said lord – and things like calling up their men for prolonged periods will adversely affect that opinion.

            Also, unless you have a high level of royal control, the council gets to vote on your hair-brained schemes for offensive wars, and any high-ranking nobles who aren’t on the council are going to be extremely upset about that in a no-troops-for-you kind of way.

          • Examples of feudal vassals in the high middle ages openly rebelling against their lord because said lord waged a war the vassal didn’t support?

            Not exactly rebelling, but when John told William Marshall to come with him to try to reconquer territory in France the Marshall refused on the grounds that he had resworn his Norman lands to the king of France with John’s permission, so was the French king’s man when on that side of the channel.

          • cassander says:

            Hmm. Examples of feudal vassals in the high middle ages openly rebelling against their lord because said lord waged a war the vassal didn’t support? Not saying it never happened, but examples don’t come immediately to mind.

            Well, one, I said it should be an option, not that it should happen every time, and two, that’s how Henry V basically conquered france, by getting the dukes of burgundy to side with him and not the kings of france. It’s also basically what happened every time HRE emperors spent too long south of the alps. And the number of times vassals didn’t outright rebel and were just strategically unhelpful? too many to count.

  16. ParryHotter says:

    Regarding the infrastructure article, when I read it a few weeks ago, I was struck by how he missed something so obvious: greed. Is it so hard to imagine that companies are just charging governments and municipalities a fortune for infrastructure work, not because their costs are higher, or due to inefficiencies, or the headaches of unions, but simply because they know they can get away with it due to the various special interests at play in this realm?

    Or am I being too cynically naive?

    • Nornagest says:

      Greed is a constant. Actors always charge what the market can bear. If more rents are being extracted (and it sure seems like they are), then that’s because of a change in the market, not because actors are less virtuous now than they were in the past.

      The article attempts, and mostly fails, to find out what changes in the market those are.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      (I’ve never studied economics, please correct me.) I don’t see where rents could come from here – there is no sign of monopoly power. You could tell a story where the government gives sweetheart deals to favored companies, but isn’t this stuff done by blind bidding anyway?

      • Nornagest says:

        Rents can come from a lot of places, not just monopoly power. Asymmetric information, asymmetric access, barriers to entry, preexisting ownership of scarce resources, sending a guy named Guido around to break your competitors’ legs.

        But the point I was trying to make above is that saying “it’s rents” doesn’t help us much. Of course it’s rents. Steel and concrete aren’t much more expensive. Land and labor are, but not in proportion. So it’s rents, but the article gives no good argument for what they are, who they’re going to, or how they work.

    • Squirrel of Doom says:

      People say greed is the real cause when gas prices go up. But I never hear an analysis of why greed went up 4% on a random Tuesday, nor do I hear them being happy that greed is decreasing when gas prices go down.

      For the question why US infrastructure is so much more expensive than both other countries today and the US itself in the past, blaming greed also just moves the problem. Why is there so much more greed in the US than elsewhere, and also compared to the past?

      • poignardazur says:

        > nor do I hear them being happy that greed is decreasing when gas prices go down.

        Haha, exactly! I often have a feeling that people assigning moral corruption to unfavorable economic decisions (e.g.: prices going up, wages going down, DLCs, etc), were making a fundamental mistake and this comment nails it 😀

  17. Jiro says:

    “if America only jailed murderers and rapists, it would still have more prisoners per capita than Western Europe”.

    Those figures don’t seem to have been corrected for race.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Why would those figures need to be corrected for race? Even if race is causal, America has the racial profile it has, so dialing back mass incarceration will remain difficult as long as we have as many murderers and rapists as we have. Unless we stop jailing them, which seems unreasonable.

      • Randy M says:

        I believe it is the assumption that America should mirror western Europe that he is objecting to.

      • Jiro says:

        Why would those figures need to be corrected for race?

        Because the implicit argument is that America is doing something bad that Western Europe is not doing. If the disparity is caused by race, this may not be true.

        • Virbie says:

          > Because the implicit argument is that America is doing something bad that Western Europe is not doing. If the disparity is caused by race, this may not be true.

          It’s not clear to me at all that that’s implicit. I took it as narrowly (and effectively) targeting the oft-held belief that America’s barbaric thirst for punitive incarceration was driving our high prison numbers. That’s entirely independent from proposing a specific cause for the gap between us and W Europe, which could include the racial one that you mention.

      • Z says:

        Look at homicide rates by country, then cross-reference demographics in the US, UK, Germany, France, Norway, etc.

        They should be corrected because comparing the US to western Europe is unfair when demographically the US does not mirror any western European country.

        If anything a fair comparison would be to look at the nationalities within the US, control for age (at least), and compare criminality with their nation of origin. That’s much more complicated, but avoids a Simpson’s Paradox.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Fine, but the US still compares unfavorably with Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania and Namibia.

      (To get into US territory you need to look to former slave/communist states, not just African states. The Caribbean is way up there, as is Russia).

  18. Douglas Knight says:

    Alcohol:

    What really convinces me that alcohol really works is that it has a specific effect. It decreases mortality from ischemic heart disease and increases it from all other causes. If you think that there is a confounder, you should argue that the confounder has the same risk profile.

    Also, there is a mechanism: alcohol is a blood thinner.

  19. poipoipoi says:

    So as for the housing thing, it’s not just a price thing. It’s a generational class thing.

    Price/Income in Dallas is 4. Rent/Income is 30% and used to be 23% before we banned building on a national level in 2006. (Not joking. Sub-Great Depression per-capita for a decade).

    So in Dallas, you pay a third in taxes, a quarter to rent, scrape together 80% (aka 20% down) over a decade or so (assuming you didn’t FHA a 3% down loan and pay PMI the first few years) and then go buy a nice little $200,000 house out in some suburb.