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Open Thread 77.75

This is the biweekly hidden open Thread.

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820 Responses to Open Thread 77.75

  1. biblicalsausage says:

    Turn in your Bibles to the Book of Genesis, chapter 30.

    We find Jacob, his two wives, and their two female slaves, engaged in an epic child-having competition. Early in the lead, the less-favored wife Leah manages to produce four children. Rachel, the better-loved but infertile wife, gives her slave Bilhah to Jacob, who produces two children, at which point Rachel announces that she has won the contest. It’s difficult to see how having two children (kinda sorta) outweighs having four children directly, but that’s how Rachel sees it.

    Leah, who is not getting pregnant any more, gives her slave Zilpah to Jacob, and Jacob has two kids by Zilpah. The score is now six to two.

    Around this time, as grain is being harvested, Leah’s oldest boy, Reuben, finds some mandrakes, a plant superstitiously associated with fertility, out in a field. Reuben brings back the mandrakes to Leah. Rachel, hearing about the find, decides this might be just the ticket to get her into the baby-making business, and so she goes and asks Leah to give her the mandrakes.

    Leah is not pleased at all by the request. As she sees it, her sister-wife Rachel has been monopolizing Jacob’s attentions, and so she is not disposed to grant Leah’s request. So Rachel offers Leah a deal. “Give me the mandrakes, and I’ll have Jacob sleep with you.” Leah accepts.

    That evening, as Jacob is walking home from work, Leah goes out to meet him, and says, “You’ve gotta sleep with me tonight, because I’ve paid Rachel for your services.” If Jacob had any reaction to Rachel pimping him out like this, the text does not record it.

    Jacob upholds Rachel’s deal, and sleeps with Leah. She immediately conceives and has a fifth son, and after that a sixth.

    There is an irony here. Leah has a fertility drug, and Rachel gets her hands on it. But the net result is that it is Leah, not Rachel, who winds up having the additional children.

    (PS: The story also connects the mandrakes episode with the birth of the fifth son Issachar via etymology. Details available on request.)

  2. Brad says:

    77.5 failed miserably as a culture war free open thread. Is the beginning of a trend or an aberration?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      (Almost) completely up to the commentariat.

      If (enough) people strongly register a “hey, this is not cool” early on in those threads, I predict it would not have gone down that road.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        Agreed – they’ll go where the commenters want.

        I’m not sure “hey, this is not cool” or “less of this, please” would be enough. We’re (aspiring) rationalists; what if we tried analyzing what’s driving threads into the warzone? Something testable or predictable? (Yes, I know, we’d be aware of the test and that changes the result, but in what way?)

        Straw theory: we’re just tired. Maybe avoiding the war means sticking more to effortposts. Doing that might breed habits we desire more.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Paul Brinkley:
          As noted below, at least some of this is down to people not realizing the thread is one of the “no culture war” threads.

          But you also have OPs being too cute, with comments like “I’m sure we can avoid a culture war on this culture war topic”.

          • onyomi says:

            Maybe I was naive to think I could get answers to that particular question without it being a culture war (though there’s no particular reason that should be a partisan issue or connect to tribal politics; part of the problem, I think, is that there are so few areas of life nowadays which are not politicized, and so few major issues which don’t split along tribal lines), and maybe I shouldn’t have included the bit related to politicians’ motivations, but I have found it helpful in the past, and have successfully discussed other such issues in the culture war-free threads without descending into a shitshow.

            For example, there’s economics and there’s economics as relates to politics and motivations of politicians and voters, etc. etc.

            Sometimes I just want to discuss the former without the latter.

            Part of the reason I attempted that thread when I did was because I am mildly interested in that issue but never see succinct answers to basic questions about it around here which don’t turn into massive tl;dr culture war stuff. Probably shouldn’t have expected to buck that trend, and/or probably could have attempted to do so in a better way, but I find it too bad if, in general, they can’t ever touch on anything at all controversial.

            Like, I initially interpreted “no culture war” to mean, basically, no complaining about SJWs, feminists, and other identity-related stuff. Then it was sort of just “nothing too controversial.” Okay, fair enough, but that can be hard to judge and predict, sometimes, and it’s tempting to try to take the opportunity to discuss some things in a non-partisan way.

            But I’ll try harder to respect a stricter Schelling Point on this issue. It would also be nice if there were a way to move a whole thread or sub-thread, en masse to a different OT, but don’t know how difficult that is, technically. I did try to at least continue the discussion on the Subreddit rather than responding there once it got culture war-y.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            I think you could have easily predicted based on the following:

            I’m also highly skeptical of those claiming significant, concerted government action is necessary to avert a catastrophe. Some questions for those who think it is necessary:

            That is pretty much asking for it to descend into culture war, because you frame it in an antagonistic way. Compare that to how you framed the bitcoin question.

            Plus, I mean, really, you didn’t think Global Warming would be a siren call?

          • Brad says:

            Not to mention the entire fourth point.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “Plus, I mean, really, you didn’t think Global Warming would be a siren call?”

            I didn’t. The evidence suggests that I am stupid.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            Well, you are still happy with Trump, so …

            (Slightly friendly poke, slightly kicking of a man who doesn’t they are down)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Heel Bear Cub – The evidence accumulates.

            But seriously, I was hoping to make a point about how our current situation is ripe for cross-tribe cooperation and compromise. Based on that conversation, and the one in the reddit, I’m fairly convinced we could get a decent carbon tax implemented fairly soon in America with enthusiastic support from both tribes. Wouldn’t that be something?

            Culture war sucks. 😛

          • onyomi says:

            @Brad

            Not to mention the entire fourth point.

            Yes, I, and then HBC, already did mention that, and I admitted it was ill-advised.

            But a question: yes, skepticism about global warming, in particular, is a Red Tribe issue, but is skepticism about politicians’ and academics’ motivations in general a partisan issue?

            I guess general skepticism of government and academia is more a Red Tribe thing, but I think we should also be skeptical of GOP politicians whose foreign-policy world view just happens to be the one which results in them getting more power, and their constituents keeping their juicy military contracts. And generally Blue Tribe is more likely to have at least some of this skepticism than Red.

            Put another way, I wouldn’t expect a call to discount reliability of information based on knowledge of incentives of the sources of that information to be an inherently partisan issue. I don’t think unreflective acceptance of any group’s claims, even the claims of politicians and academics, is a very Blue Tribe value, much less a rationalist value.

          • Brad says:

            Now you’re just engaging in naked rationalization. Academics have been a right wing bugbear for fifty years. Your bog standard attempt to undermine their credibility by insinuating bad faith could have been uttered by Rush Limbaugh. Saying ‘well I was clearly right so it must have been okay to say’ misses the point entirely.

            As for the politicians that may not have been a conservative critique and instead a bog standard libertarian one, but I don’t see why that should make any difference. Do you think the culture free thread should be a liberal and conservative free zone so as to leave more room for libertarians to push their politics?

            Your post was clearly inappropriate for a culture war free thread.

          • Deiseach says:

            Speaking of a “siren call”, I have to admit, this tweet is not one of the bad ones 🙂

          • Garrett says:

            @FacelessCraven

            But seriously, I was hoping to make a point about how our current situation is ripe for cross-tribe cooperation and compromise. Based on that conversation, and the one in the reddit, I’m fairly convinced we could get a decent carbon tax implemented fairly soon in America with enthusiastic support from both tribes.

            That was recently tried and it failed. A proposal in Washington State which would implement a carbon tax and offset the revenue with a sales tax cut. Effectively revenue-neutral, but shifting the sources to discourage CO2 emissions. Republicans were on board.

            The left fell apart, with strong opposition to something which didn’t raise more revenues for the State. Or something which wasn’t sufficiently redistributive.

    • The Nybbler says:

      It’s SOP. Most of the culture-war-free threads have gone that way.

      • Barely matters says:

        True say.

        I think it’s mostly unavoidable, because one of the main reasons people care about culturewar stuff in the first place is that it’s managed to wiggle itself into virtually every field. And because of the modern style in which it’s being fought, when you try to officially limit it people just switch up their strategies and focus on consolidating their narrative assumptions as the new null hypothesis knowing that if anyone challenges them, the challenger can be accused of breaking the ‘no culturewar’ rule. Because of it’s ubiquity, trying to talk about most issues without referencing the war becomes a surreal exercise of ignoring the huge (and often angry) elephant in the room.

        I really enjoy reading Bean’s series on battleships, even beyond their high quality and interesting subject matter, for being one of the few threads that seems to almost entirely culturewar resistant.

        • bean says:

          I really enjoy reading Bean’s series on battleships, even beyond their high quality and interesting subject matter, for being one of the few threads that seems to almost entirely culturewar resistant.

          Who needs culture war when you can have real war? What use are slogans against 12″ armor belts and 16″ guns?
          But thanks for your kind words. The closest we’ve come was when someone tried to draw a connection between the failure of British signals intelligence and socialism. Everyone else looked at them weirdly.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Is this a challenge? I think we need to examine what exactly is going on in the custom of gendering warships female, the sizeism inherent in post-WWI limits on displacement, and what’s inherent in the assumption that bigger guns are better. Additionally, that we are not talking about carriers (which “give birth to” many smaller planes) shows a real discounting of motherhood around here.

          • bean says:

            Did you see Deiseach’s comments about Jutland and colonialism in the links thread? I’m really tempted to try a spoof of this kind of thing, just to see if I can even come close to passing the ITT. But I probably won’t, because I suspect I’d fail badly.

        • Thegnskald says:

          It does seem open threads are either culture war or naval gazing sometimes.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Point five threads should be only about naval warfare, so we have naval war and culture war OTs alternating or whatever.

          • Protagoras says:

            And some of the programming types around here need to revive the Springsharp project and turn out some updates. It’s scandalous that it hasn’t been updated for 9 years, with all the unfinished features it has.

          • bean says:

            I do occasionally talk about other kinds of warfare. But yes, we can have culture war threads and non-culture war threads.

    • Wrong Species says:

      To be honest, I completely forget about the no culture war thread and jump straight to the comments. I’m probably not the only one.

    • random832 says:

      I think a tool for moving subthreads might help. If one gets long enough, people are more likely to react “what am I gonna do, not reply? everyone else did”, and correctly calculate that it will not be deleted (since that would permanently destroy a lengthy discussion in which some people may have made insightful points), and it’s too late to ask everyone in the thread to just copy all their stuff over into one of the other open threads.

      A move tool would sidestep all this. After all, there’s nothing actually preventing people from discussing things on other threads in the middle of the week, so the goal doesn’t seem to be to have a “culture-war-free day”, so the no culture war threads are fundamentally an organizational tool. Organizational tools are more effective if things can be reorganized.

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      I agree with the other commenters that the “no CW” message should be more prominent, it’s easy to miss / forget. (I often don’t remember to pay attention to the actual number in the thread title.) E.g. call the thread 77.5-CWfree.

    • IrishDude says:

      Question: Do people think my discussion of voluntary communities in 77.5 falls under ‘culture war’? I conceive of ‘culture war’ topics to be ones related to the more traditional left/right divide, but I’m curious what other people consider to be ‘culture war’. I think a clearer conception of ‘culture war’ would be helpful to keep the moratorium on it going in the *.5 threads.

      • skef says:

        I read your initial post as continuing a conversation that already falls under the heading.

        If it had started fresh,

        As a libertarian, I’m highly supportive of communities and relationships. … It’s coercive relationships that bother my libertarian sensibilities, not voluntary bonds among people.

        would at least qualify as “asking for it”.

        Is it inherently a culture war topic? I don’t know.

    • My thinking is that this is a rule of Scott’s. Part of the reason for this I think is the commenters don’t have all that much commitment to the rule, so they try to slide in along the edges, and once the culture wars starts it is hard to just let it happen without making one’ sown comments.

      I kind of like culture war discussions. I suppose it is treated as a bad thing because it is thought that it never gets anywhere — people just bang their heads against each other. But I have seen actual progress made in such discussions in some cases. In anyone is going to come up with consensus about at least some some CW issues, it is going to be here, because we mostly treat each others comments with respect and answer them honestly.

      The kind of discussions that I don’t like are the intense discussions going back and forth between two people. Those almost never reach anywhere productive, and I skip over them after a while. I haven’t noticed CW discussions being more prone to that than other discussions. Our one long CW thread last time was actually kind of interesting. What I didn’t like in the last thread was the ongoing bashing of bintchaos, because people were being clearly uncharitable to her. (ISIS sympathizer, oh come on. She is sometimes unclear what she thinks, but that was ridiculous)(also the inserting of comments out of order. She apologized and said she was trying to avoid it.) And that had nothing to do with CW.

      • Jiro says:

        The problem is that the culture war is entangled in almost everything about which there is any debate. If the discussion is to go anywhere, it’s going to *have* to include culture war. If you declare no culture war, the only possibilities are no enforcement and selective enforcement; you can’t *really* enforce it without destroying everything else.

        That’s why when the Reddit group requires that all culture war go in one thread, you have one thread with thousands of posts and almost nothing else.

        • onyomi says:

          Agree; also, discussing whether or not the culture war has penetrated too many facets of life is itself now a culture war issue.

        • onyomi says:

          New evidence in “you can’t talk about anything interesting anymore without someone, somehow turning it into a culture war”:

          We need to inform people better about how classical sculpture was originally painted with colors, because failing to do so supports white supremacy.

          • Deiseach says:

            Some actual facts mixed in amongst a lot of opinionating. I liked the complaining about the lack of representation of POC as in having a man from New Zealand playing the Spaniard Maximus, when I have just finished reading a post on another site complaining about casting a white Spaniard in the role of a Hispanic character on a TV show.

            So – are Spaniards white or POC? It would appear to depend on who’s arguing the case and which side they’re taking. Never mind that current US/SJ racial categories are not a global standard, and people in other countries categorise or judge race differently.

            Also appreciated the dilemma the authoress of the article encountered there – is it homophobia to call a (presumed) gay man a racist based on who (it is assumed) he found sexually attractive? 🙂

          • Matt M says:

            Speaking of historical and/or moral dilemmas… in the upcoming Call of Duty sequel, you will be able to play as a black female nazi

  3. I asked for recommendations of people to follow on Twitter on the last open thread, but didn’t get a lot of replies, so I figured that I would ask again. I’m looking for people who frequently share interesting articles, make intelligent comments, etc. It can be people who are anywhere on the political spectrum, as long as they are smart and/or frequently share interesting stuff. I’m interested in politics, philosophy, mathematics, economics, biology, statistics, sociology, etc. I’m pretty much interested in everything, so if you know people who share interesting stuff on Twitter, please let me know. I’m also interested in anything that explains how Twitter works and what are some of the ways in which it can be used.

    • biblicalsausage says:

      I don’t go to twitter very often, but when I do, I check out Razib Khan, Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Matt Ridley.

      • bintchaos says:

        Razib Khan, Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Matt Ridley.


        IFF you like that sort of stuff, @UnzReview then.
        Those are mostly aich-bee-dee guys. <– banned word

        • biblicalsausage says:

          Well, Ridley’s not, as far as I know. He sure doesn’t sound like on. Sam Harris is agnostic on the topic and disapproves of researching it further. Steven Pinker posts twitter stuff almost entirely on unrelated topics, and has barely strayed toward heresy. Razib Khan has more or less distanced himself from the topic and from Unz. If you’re looking for lots of banned word content, I think all four of the ones I suggested will disappoint you.

          • bintchaos says:

            on the spectrum though– connected to the core of arch-dee-bee
            #SmallWorldSocialNetworks

          • biblicalsausage says:

            “on the spectrum”

            I guess in the broadest sense I can’t argue with you there, and I bet my current ideas about who’s interesting are somewhat influenced by past reading I’ve done on [redacted]. But if I were seeking to direct people to study [redacted], I certainly would not directed people toward those four. I would have directed them toward other sources. But I won’t, because I doubt doing that would add any value to this website. Anyone who wants to read about banned topics, pro or con, can easily start googling to their heart’s content. No need to let it ruin a perfectly decent website by turning it into a hellhole of banned-topic flame wars.

      • J Mann says:

        Does Andrew Gelman have a twitter? He’s the guy who I think is particularly missing from that list.

        • bintchaos says:

          gelman = @StatModeling
          i forgot @jasonintrator (jason stanley) philosophy community
          AND @jimalkhalili– humanist community and just general wonderfulness…

      • currentlyinthelab says:

        You know, i’m not the worlds biggest fan of Ridley.

        Its this certain “Wait and see” attitude when it comes to climate change.

        The CO2 fertilization effect seems to be real, and for agricultural crops a big deal (Large enough that Friedman successfully points out that the “threat to human nutrition” stories appear to be propaganda) but in the wild, the larger limits to plant growth are things like sunlight, temperature, soil quality, etc. The general opinion of biologists is that lab results for crops won’t transfer nearly as neatly to a real world setting due to all of those other limiters.

        There is also the absurdity of discouraging the encouragement of renewable energy research and development through financial incentives, when it seems most projections for the amount of available resources are at less than 200 years, from a long-term civilization standpoint. What I can see as more thoughtful would be pointing out that certain renewable-energy methods are actually inefficient and perhaps should not have subsidies(certain categories of recycling appear to fall into this category), or perhaps a support of nuclear power as a temporary fix.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @ currentlyinthelab – “Its this certain “Wait and see” attitude when it comes to climate change.”

          Last OT, and in last week’s reddit culture war thread, I put forward a method for getting Red Tribe on board with implementing Carbon Taxes. An awful lot of Red Tribe respondents were all for it, and quite a few Blue Tribe respondents opposed it on the grounds that they’d rather wait and get a better deal a decade or two later. It was an interesting thing to see.

          • currentlyinthelab says:

            Link?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Reddit thread
            OT Thread

            …What I got out of both threads, was that people in either tribe aren’t nearly so different in their priors as is commonly believed. A lot of Blue Tribers felt that the plan did sufficient damage to other things they value that it would be better to wait till the damage becomes obvious enough to get everyone on board, rather than cut a deal now at the expense of sacrificing other values. This seems more or less identical to the usual “wait and see” stance in Red Tribe, where they claim that the immediate costs aren’t obviously worth the long-term benefits, so better to do nothing for now. Blue Tribe and Red Tribe members willing to actually go for the deal seemed to do so because they felt that their half of the deal was worth what they paid, even if AGW mitigation/tax cuts turned out to be completely worthless.

            To the extent that blue tribe actually believes that Climate Change is a singular issue far and away more important to any other, I’m pretty sure they could get action on it tomorrow if they wanted. To the extent that they don’t get action on it, it seems that they don’t consider it a singular issue far and away more important than any other.

          • As among things to do to reduce warming, carbon taxes are the approach most likely to appeal to at least the free market/economist elements within red tribe. Blue tribe has some tendency to see it as a moral issue and object to people buying the right to sin.

        • currentlyinthelab says:

          edit-It seems that multiple doom and gloom environmental disasters were prevented because mankind actually *did* something about it, and I think this article does an OK job at listing examples.

        • but in the wild, the larger limits to plant growth are things like sunlight, temperature, soil quality, etc.

          I’ve seen multiple reports that satellite data show a general greening effect, attributed to CO2 fertilization. That would be mostly in the wild. I haven’t checked to see if there are other stories debunking those ones.

          Sunlight is a limit to plant growth both in the wild and in the experiments, not all of which were done in greenhouses. CO2 fertilization reduces water requirements, since the leaves don’t have to pass as much air through which means less evaporation. It’s logically possible that large scale effects would be either smaller or larger than the effects observed in experiment, but I see no reason to assume smaller.

          I don’t know what “larger limits to plant growth” means. Photosynthesis takes CO2, water and sunlight as its main inputs, and we have data on the effect of increasing one of them, the others held constant.

          There is also the absurdity of discouraging the encouragement of renewable energy research and development through financial incentives, when it seems most projections for the amount of available resources are at less than 200 years

          Two hundred years is a long time. Do you think a subsidy to research on energy sources done c. 1800 would have produced information useful for solving current problems?

          Markets allocate across time as well as across space. Allocating research funds to problems you expect to occur in two centuries, or even one century, is rarely sensible.

    • Urstoff says:

      dril, obviously

    • bintchaos says:

      Caveat: some of my special interests here– you can add links from the follower/following list of each socialnetwork hub if you like the domain– or twitter will offer you a list of similars
      @neuro_skeptic neuroscience community
      @astrokatie astrophysics & cosmology community
      @SwiftOnSecurity infosec community
      @stevenstrogatz & @edfrenkel mathematics & math ed community
      @yaneerbaryam complexity science community
      @GeorgeShiber Philosophy and theoretical physics (focus M-theory) community
      @seanmcarroll theoretical physics community
      @carlzimmer biology community
      @hsu_steve cognitive genomics community
      @Confusezeus international policy community
      @clarissaward Syria coverage community
      the only sociologist I follow is Dr. Atran @atranscott
      Hope this helps!

    • johan_larson says:

      Try Megan McArdle. She’s a right-libertarian, and writes about politics for Bloomberg.
      https://twitter.com/asymmetricinfo
      https://www.bloomberg.com/view/contributors/AQjVOcPejrY/megan-mcardle

      Here’s one of her better articles, about the Mormon social-support network in Utah:
      https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-03-28/how-utah-keeps-the-american-dream-alive

    • Space Viking says:

      Geoffrey Miller (@primalpoly), definitely.

    • Deiseach says:

      I stay far away from Twitter. I was never enticed by it to get an account in the first place, and all that I see from it are inflammatory tweets that result in a long chain of flame-war retorts, replies, and general “you are an effin’ eejit” in 140 characters.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        Ditto. A single tweet is far too short to convey anything useful, unless it’s a link to something longer. If there’s something valuable to say, I’d much rather read it from a blog than have to stitch together 27 140-char messages as though someone’s blowing up my phone texting me a thesis paper.

      • I used to think exactly the same thing, but since then I realized that it was a great source of information. I have added more things on my to-read list in the past 48 hours, since I started using Twitter, than in a whole month before that. There are just lots of people who use it to share interesting articles, facts, etc., but you don’t know that until you start using it. It’s also a great way to get in touch with interesting people. For instance, I just had a brief exchange with Garett Jones on the argument that open borders would drastically increase the world GDP, which was prompted by a tweet posted by another blogger whose work I recently discussed on my blog. I really think you should give it a try, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

    • IrishDude says:

      Naval Ravikant (@naval) is an interesting thinker on Twitter.

    • Thanks for all the recommendations, please keep them coming!

  4. Sniffnoy says:

    I tried to report a comment yesterday and when I did I just got a message saying “Cheater, huh?”. What’s up with that?

    • Brad says:

      It’s been broken for more than a month. This new report button was apparently an attempt to fix it, but it is still broken. Scott put out a call for WordPress / PHP knowledgeable volunteers to fix it, don’t know if anyone responded.

    • Nornagest says:

      You can temporarily restore your ability to report comments by logging out of WordPress and back in; at least, the interface thinks it went through. I don’t know if email actually gets through to Scott.

  5. Gossage Vardebedian says:

    Hi. Long-time, second-time. As this is the non-culture-war-free edition (it is, right?), I thought I’d throw this one out there. Several weeks ago, in his “Neutral vs conservative the eternal struggle,” Scott mentioned Conquest’s Second Law, which states: Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing. Scott noted he had no idea why that indeed seems to have a fair amount of truth to it. 1900+ comments on his post almost completely avoided addressing this particular issue. It seems to me this is the sort of thing that this community might happily puzzle over.

    This issue resonates with me quite a bit. I’m a pretty centrist, small-l libertarian for the most part, but I find myself increasingly being politically defined by my opposition to the far left or progressive constituency. I think this has come about because of the sheer quantity of strident leftism on the internet and especially in the MSM. To me, the answer to why Conquest’s Second Law seems true is “status.” I think it is very clear that there is a much more prominent status-seeking and elite-defining nature to leftism than to conservatism, and that this is something that asymmetrically attracts narcissists (or if you find that harsh, “people with a desire to improve their status in the social pecking order”) to the left, and encourages them to make their politics public in virtually any situation. Even a small percentage of such people in a group can, by their status-seeking nature, quickly come to change the public face, and in time the remit, of any organization. The Law then reduces, essentially, to the observation that leftism is fashionable and conservatism is not. My personal opposition to this reduces to the observation that far rightism has been basically completely, successfully marginalized, while progressivism is what the cool kids are doing, and is therefore much more dangerous.

    This all seems to me to be obvious, but I imagine many of you, especially perhaps some of the left-leaning among you, might disagree. Please note that none of this in any way constitutes the merest argument against any particular leftist point.

    Thoughts?

    • bugsbycarlin says:

      Pretty much exactly the topic of Scott’s http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/04/22/right-is-the-new-left/

    • Wrong Species says:

      But this just pushes the question back a level. Why is leftism higher status?

      • Gossage Vardebedian says:

        IF you accept my answer, yes, you’re correct. And that next question becomes very interesting. I would love to see people here try to answer it.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        It’s not the leftism itself that’s high-status. What’s happened is that among the Gentry– i.e., the people who are already high-status for non-political reasons– there’s a decorously toned-down version of leftism which has managed to get itself taken for granted, to the point where it’s ceased to function as an expression of political belief and become instead a form of etiquette: if you want to be regarded as a Good Person, these are the sort of noises you’re expected to make.

      • Deiseach says:

        See Brad’s reply to my reply to his comment about “where are all you people finding this left-wing outrage because I’m not seeing it”, which boiled down to:

        Me – I don’t go looking for it, it’s there in the places I frequent

        Him – Well maybe don’t frequent those places!

        But that’s the problem. Unless I totally give up my interests, the places I find other people willing to say “Hell, yes, I too think Dáin Ironfoot is da bomb!” will also be the places all (for instance) festooned with fan art, posts and the like about June being Pride Month, or people writing admonitory blog posts about “White writers, this is how to refer to POC characters or real-life people” and the rest of it, with the assumptions on the parts of the people there that all conservatives are equally far right-wing, all conservatives (even non-Americans) are the same in every respect as American Republicans, and all Republicans are evil, rich, old, Christian, white cis het men who greedily grab power and resources, rape the earth, grind the poor, and want to burn gays at the stake on a pile of burning Qu’rans and they are literal Nazis (as in the “punch a Nazi” meme which morphed from “Richard Spencer is a white supremacist neo-Nazi” to “all right-wingers are neo-Nazis strike that simply Nazis”).

        So unless I’m going to stick to about three traditional (not Traditionalist!) Catholic blogs that like to talk about Tolkien, I have no choices between

        (a) grit my teeth and say nothing in reply, except where goaded beyond restraint, and simply enjoy the content that is in common with my interests and the chats I can have with others about why Zeus is a dick

        (b) give it all up and go live under a stone with no Internet

        • qwints says:

          I googled some Tolkien forums because I wasn’t sure of your claim, and I think it’s fair to say the vast majority of the active ones all have the assumption that the default view is left of center, though many appear to rigorously limit political discussion to designated spaces. Amusingly, I found a SSC post linked in one of the discussions. The discussion itself fit the broad pattern I saw of most political discussions being intra-left disagreements, with the people in the center being subject to more critique.

          • Deiseach says:

            I googled some Tolkien forums because I wasn’t sure of your claim

            Just don’t get into the “Why Tolkien was a horrible racist” debates 🙂

      • The Nybbler says:

        Me – I don’t go looking for it, it’s there in the places I frequent

        Indeed, I certainly didn’t have to go looking for “OMG, Some Toxic White Male did horrible thing”. And if in any particular case I actually agreed the thing was horrible (as opposed to some completely bogus “microaggression”), there was still the chorus of “yes all men” and “structural/systemic racism/sexism” to assure me that even though I wouldn’t do such a thing, I was guilty by reason of my race and sex.

      • onyomi says:

        Might it not have to do with the survive vs thrive thing, but leftism isn’t just about focusing on thriving more, but also signalling that you are, currently, thriving, as reflected by your priorities?

        Like, what does the left want more of? More money spent on the poor and elderly, more money spent building cool new infrastructure, more policies to help historically disadvantaged groups get into college and find a job, more redistribution, more foregoing economic growth to protect the natural environment, more inclusiveness and acceptance of all races, cultures, and lifestyles…

        What does the right say to all this? Basically “we can’t afford all that!” and “Chesterton’s Fence!”

        Who worries about what they can afford? Poor people. Who worries that preferences in e.g. employment and college admissions will hurt them? People who are on the margins of being smart/rich/well-connected enough to get the job/spot at Harvard despite any preferences working against them. Who worries that society is changing in a way that will be harmful to them? People who don’t feel secure in their social position.

        • Barely matters says:

          This one often gets caught up in a feedback loop thanks to preselection heuristics.

          I might be hazy on details, but as far as I understand it the religious right used to do this quite a bit too in terms of providence and concepts like Trial by Ordeal. The unifying idea being that everyone wants to ally with winners, and if the conditions for ‘winning’ include having lots of people (Ideally other winners) wanting to ally with them, then the system is self reinforcing.

          At this point, the more interconnected society gets and the more success becomes focused on how well connected you are to other powerful people (As opposed to the rural dynamic where at least your land’s value is determined largely by how much hard work you’re willing to put into it), the more the tactic of signalling success to bootstrap your own performance becomes the Only Game in Town.

          I’d imagine that at some point it collapses when people start to look around and ask “Hey, wait a sec, I’m in crippling debt, you’re in crippling debt, my life’s actually in shambles, you’re having a breakdown… are any of us actually doing well here???”. But then, as it looks from social media around here, the more savvy early adopters just move one level of countersignaling down to the “I’m so successful that I don’t have to brag about how successful I am, check out what human garbage I am lol!” level of ironic hipsterdom. So I’ve seen no signs of actual collapse yet.

          Seems like we’ve invented a kinder, gentler version of “If you’re on top, you deserve to be on top. If you have a problem, you are the problem.”

    • qwints says:

      My personal opposition to this reduces to the observation that far rightism has been basically completely, successfully marginalized, while progressivism is what the cool kids are doing, and is therefore much more dangerous.

      This seems obviously untrue in the US. Republicans dominate the federal and state governments, with the rightmost having a great deal of influence. Fox News continues to be the most watched Cable News channel, as it has been for a decade. Conservative books sell better. While liberals hold the top ranked political websites, conservative websites are well represented. Finally, as they have for the last two decades, substantially more people describe themselves as conservative versus liberal even though more people call themselves democrats than republicans.

      • John Schilling says:

        I would wager that McDonald’s has higher gross revenue than every restaurant in the Michelin guide combine; does that mean that McDonald’s is higher status, “what the cool kids are doing”, more influential in the world culinary scene, etc?

        Be clear on what you are trying to measure.

        • Nornagest says:

          “More influence in the world culinary scene” is entirely possible. There’s been a McDonalds everywhere I’ve gone (its burgers outside the US are usually better than the ones inside, oddly), but there’s only one Chez Panisse.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @John Schilling:
          Doesn’t that just end up at “higher status” is by definition less “popular”?

          Which it has to be, as status is a positional, hierarchical aspiration.

          And, more to qwints point, it’s hard to argue that, say, fast food (as opposed to “high status” food) has actually been marginalized. It’s just not high status, which the most common food can’t be, by definition.

        • John Schilling says:

          @John Schilling:
          Doesn’t that just end up at “higher status” is by definition less “popular”?

          I don’t think that’s true by definition. The highest-status actors and fashion models are, I believe, also the most popular in the mass market.

          It might be true w/re political philosophies, and certainly votes->power is a mechanism by which popularity could lead to status in that market of ideas. But if we’ve also got media outlets who consider it their function to tell the rubes what to think, and elected representatives who feel their job is to to promise what is popular and arrange for something else to actually happen, it isn’t clear which way the correlation between popularity and status runs.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I don’t think that’s true by definition. The highest-status actors and fashion models are, I believe, also the most popular in the mass market.

            1) They may be popular (i.e. consumption of their product), but what they do and consume is not. Almost no one can perform a Taylor Swift song (the way Taylor Swift can). The CEO of McDonalds may be high status, by dint of being one of a very select group of people who can helm a Fortune 500 company, but the consumption of his product is not high status.

            2) By that same token, Taylor Swift has less status than Yo Yo Ma, despite being more popular. And among music cognoscenti someone else is likely higher status than Yo Yo Ma, despite being “unknown” and generally unpopular.

        • qwints says:

          I understood “successfully marginalized” to mean [has essentially no power to affect people’s lives] and “much more dangerous” to mean [has much more power to affect people’s lives]. I don’t believe that’s true for “far rightism” and “progressivism” in the US because, although “progressivism” is heavily overrepresented in popular media and academia, “far rightism” remains equal or dominant in politics, at least to the extent that we are talking about people inside the Overton window, and not about a few hundred people on the internet with extreme positions.

          It’s almost certainly true that middle class and upper class professionals in urban areas look more favorably on me if I tell them I voted Hillary, ate at Chez Panisse or read Between the World and Me than if I tell them I voted Trump, ate at McDonald’s or read Coming Apart. It would be silly to say that means Trump, McDonald’s or Murray lack any real influence or power.

        • kenziegirl says:

          In regards to McDonald’s specifically, McDonald’s food itself might be low-status but it’s elite folks making the laws which McDonald’s must follow and putting pressure on their business model. High-status elitist foodies influence McDonald’s, not the other way around. Remember (I think it was LA, certainly somewhere in CA) when the local municipality briefly put forth efforts to ban drive thrus to reduce engine emissions, or outlawed Happy Meal toys to make the food less desirable to children? And soft drink taxes and limits on soda sizes? Not to mention the fight over minimum wage – these issues are all being instigated by the blue tribe. McDonald’s has taken a beating. Their sales have been suffering for some time and they keep tinkering with their menu to bring it more up-market. They have specifically identified efforts regarding increased wages as one of the reasons they are pushing more toward automated ordering and corresponding reduction of employees.

    • Chalid says:

      Well obviously there are tons of non-left and non-right organizations out there so the law as stated is false. (Corporations, the AAA, your local hobbyist meetup…)

      So it seems like you’d want to start by figuring out what domains the law tended to be true in, and under what conditions, and then work from there.

      I guess the common examples are media and college campus organizations? In which case you might speculate that organizations that draw their membership from very leftist populations will become leftist.

      • Yakimi says:

        Are you sure that corporations are exempt from Conquest’s Law, in a time when commercials during the Superbowl, the Nuremberg Rally of American capitalism, were basically a giant middle finger to everyone who elected Trump, when banks eagerly brand themselves in neon colors for the duration of pride month, when every major corporation hosts a colony of grievance studies majors policing their coworkers for infractions against diversity and inclusion, when their philanthropic foundations lend their financial support to a vast network of activist organizations (e.g.), and when they have every reason to ally with the Left in order to protect the borderless imperatives of capital from proletarian xenophobia?

        • dndnrsn says:

          What “left” are you talking about? Corporations can get along fine with identity politics-loving “woke neoliberalism”, but they can’t get along fine with “nationalize the banks”; there’s a reason the former has become more popular (and profitable) than the latter.

          • Indeed. For the capitalism-hating hard left, a left wing corporation is a cotnradiction in terms.

          • Deiseach says:

            Corporations can get along fine with identity politics-loving “woke neoliberalism”, but they can’t get along fine with “nationalize the banks”

            I absolutely agree with your point; when you have large businesses falling over themselves to bring out the rainbow branding for Pride, it’s a sign of the cultural and social success of the progressive movement, but it says nothing about (or it says something negative about) the Left as a movement for economic change: the agents of capitalism are confident they can live comfortably alongside a Democratic, as a Republican, administration and government.

            Part of the schism between the Sanders and Clinton supporters, at least as it looked to me, was the big difference in mindset between those who wanted to talk about the decline of the unions, the relations of workers and employers, and the class element of the struggle versus those who were all “ugh, who cares about that socialism nonsense? we want LGBT equality! mandated contraception coverage by employer health plans! Hillary is a feminist woke ally!”

            Some few did realise that MegaBank being happy to wave rainbow flags did not mean that it was committed to ending inequality for the poor and marginalised, but a lot don’t make the connection or don’t care, or have some vague notion that once all bathrooms are trans-friendly bathrooms, the minimum wage will go up to $20 an hour by magic also.

          • dndnrsn says:

            There’s plenty of hostility towards the whole “hey look a bank put up a rainbow flag” type of thing in LGBT activist circles. It seems to take the form of “these are interlopers who only show up with some money when they calculate it benefits them more than it hurts them; they’re fair weather friends”, rather than, say, “we should remember that something’s up if banks want to be our friends.”

            The interesting thing with the whole Bernie vs Hillary, Brocialist vs Pantsuit Nation thing was the presentation of class issues as being a distraction (an opiate of the masses, if you will). “Brocialist” was coded as a white cishet male trying to flimflam people by saying “but class war is the important thing you guys!”

          • qwints says:

            And damn was the Bro meme effective.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            When factoring in the amount of prestige, effort, and media attention that went into pushing the bernie bro meme, was it actually effective?

            I ask sincerely. From my perspective it wasn’t but my perspective is most definitely skewed.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @AnonYEmous

            I don’t know how you’d measure these things, but the BernieBro/brocialist thing was effective, at least a year or so ago. It’s probably lost stock since Clinton lost (although there was a bit of an attempt at blaming her loss on ex-Bernie supporters), Corbyn did better than expected, etc, but for a while someone could say/write “brocialist” and the clear meaning was “Marxist white dude who is insufficiently intersectional” – there was also a period where some people really fiercely defended the idea that the only reason somebody in the primary season might not like Clinton was misogyny (of course, questioning this was itself misogyny).

          • AnonYEmous says:

            “brocialist”

            i don’t think this should be lumped in with “bernie bro” because the definition you gave for it (accurate, by the way) is different from the definition of Bernie Bro. Some overlap, but key difference that Bernie Bros are meant to be harassers and so forth, whereas brocialists are just not intersectional enough.

            there was also a period where some people really fiercely defended the idea that the only reason somebody in the primary season might not like Clinton was misogyny

            Yeah, but considering this made them look ridiculous and used up social capital, did it have enough of an impact to be worth it? That’s what I’m getting at, I guess.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @AnonYEmous:

            BernieBro was a subset of brocialist, wasn’t it? The overall message being that what Clinton was selling/tried to sell – “woke neoliberalism” is what I call it (can’t remember where I stole that from – it’s best exhibited in that bit about how breaking up the big banks wouldn’t end racism, sexism, etc) was what people really needed; all these white men saying that capitalism was the problem? Naive at best, malicious at worse.

            You think it made them look ridiculous, but there are plenty of people who think that Clinton’s loss can first and foremost be blamed on misogyny.

          • Zodiac says:

            You think it made them look ridiculous, but there are plenty of people who think that Clinton’s loss can first and foremost be blamed on misogyny.

            Do we have some numbers for this? I can see how this is a thing for radfems and SJWs but is that sentiment found in the general population?

          • dndnrsn says:

            I have no idea what % of people would say “misogyny was the first and foremost factor in Clinton’s defeat.” I, personally, would say it was a factor, but not the first and foremost one. Probably in the top 3, definitely in the top 5.

            However, it is an opinion I have seen expressed, and not just by radfems or left-wing campus activists or whatever.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            BernieBro was a subset of brocialist, wasn’t it?

            I mean, yeah, but as I understood it Bernie Bro is a brocialist who harasses or is misogynist or whatever. In other words, someone who doesn’t really exist in large enough numbers to matter but was purported to. So did people actually believe that they existed in large enough numbers? Again, I think no but I’m kind of bubbled in this regard.

            You think it made them look ridiculous, but there are plenty of people who think that Clinton’s loss can first and foremost be blamed on misogyny.

            Yes, and it makes them look ridiculous. It’s not even hard to disprove, actually. If you want that counter-argument to use for yourself just say so and I’ll give it to you, it’s a pretty good one.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @AnonYEmous

            I thought the “BernieBro” thing was not necessarily about harassing, or anything, but more being a putdown of overenthusiastic Bernie fans. The message sort of being “oh jeez you are so naive he can never win, get behind Clinton, she’s gonna win” layered with “only people who are really privileged think class is the most important thing” (Marx’s ghost just got a headache or something).

            I think misogyny played a role, but I don’t think it was #1, probably not #2, factor. I’d say being the “establishment” candidate probably hurt her much more.

            What do you think disproves it, though?

          • I have no idea what % of people would say “misogyny was the first and foremost factor in Clinton’s defeat.” I, personally, would say it was a factor, but not the first and foremost one. Probably in the top 3, definitely in the top 5.

            Don’t you need to offset this by the number of people who voted for Clinton because she was a woman? My guess is that her gender got her more plus votes than minus.

            Of course it is possible that those who supported her because she was a woman would have voted for whoever the Dem nominee was. But also you need to account for those who hated Clinton partly because of her gender, but never would have voted for a Dem anyway. I think the most votes either way are from those who wouldn’t have bothered to vote or would have gone 3rd party if Clinton hadn’t been there. And now I have so muddled the issue that I have no idea which way it went.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            The rather facile accusations of misogyny also run into this problem.

          • Matt M says:

            My guess is that her gender got her more plus votes than minus.

            The fact that she openly and voluntarily promoted herself on the basis of being a woman suggests that SHE thought it did more good than harm. Were the opposite true, she (and her surrogates) would have attempted to downplay it, right?

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Eh, at this point I don’t know which of us is right. Plus, the deeper question – whether or not the meme was effective – is pretty difficult to answer.

            What do you think disproves it, though?

            Well, a very good argument I was informed of and use is Clinton’s performance among women in the four swing states she needed and Trump won – Florida, and the other 3 I Googled right now (Iowa, NC, Ohio). Basically, looking at the difference between the 2012 and 2016 election…Trump outperformed Romney with male voters, sure, but Clinton underperformed Obama with female voters. In fact, had Clinton gotten Obama’s same female vote share, she would have won the swing states and become president. So at this point all you can really do is say “internalized misogyny”, which *shrug*.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            As to what was a “Bernie Bro”, I can’t say there was any definitive definition, but I’d say it was mostly used to indicate a certain kind of revolutionary mindset that insisted there was no difference between Trump and Clinton. The kind of mindset that is both sure that everything is completely screwed, but that nothing really matters. If the world burns who cares. The revolution can’t fail, it can only be failed, and yet the system always wins.

          • BBA says:

            The “misogyny” argument is unfalsifiable, which is why the hard-core Clinton supporters haven’t let it go. Though I’ve seen some advance to the theory that Bernie Sanders is a Russian plant, which is…uh…interesting?

    • dndnrsn says:

      I’m gonna remark what I often do – what do you mean by “leftism” when you use that word? It’s a word that leads to a lot of confusion, because it can mean both “left-wing politics” and “left-wing politics of a particular, usually Marxist, bent.”

    • biblicalsausage says:

      Why do all organizations that are not explicitly right-wing shift left over time?

      I think this questions works better if we break down “left-wing” and “right-wing” down into some of their broad categories of issues.

      On issues that are one variant or another of “religious vs. secular”, that one’s easy. As I see it, the religions of the world have all been getting melted down wherever there’s widespread literacy and access to science for five hundred years now. At any given point, the religions are *completely* broken down, but they’re working on it. So if you’re standing a little left of center, you’ve got the wind at your back, and if you’re right of center, you’re swimming upstream. I can elaborate on this part of anyone wants.

      On issues that break down to “punishing crime” versus “being merciful to criminals”, I’m not sure confident that there really is a leftward shift. See incarceration rates over the past four decades.

      On issues that break down to “sharing the wealth” versus “letting capitalism do its thing”, I’m really not sure that there really is a leftward shift. Certainly, the rich countries of the world have settled into an equilibrium were 30-50% of income gets spent on various welfare-type projects. But communism has died, and the US Federal Government’s ability to collect taxes has been frozen at 18-21% of GDP for the last seven decades.

      When it comes to left-wing control of speech via taboos, there does seem to have been a major escalation in the last five years or so, but I’m not positive whether this is going to be a long-term thing or not. And, despite the fact that the loudest parts of the left continue to kick people off college campuses and riot here and there, you can still be elected president while enjoying a shocking amount of freedom of speech, so I’m not completely sure how strong this trend is, or how much staying power it’ll have.

      I’m sure there’s room for argument on any of the points above. Our culture’s trajectory has a lot of moving parts, but I’m not completely sold on the “ever-leftward” narrative.

    • Schibes says:

      I imagine many of you, especially perhaps some of the left-leaning among you, might disagree [with my validation of Conquest’s Second Law].

      Yes, please allow me to cheerfully disagree. I’m left of center with some small-l libertarian sympathies and there are a couple different hobby groups I’m involved in, most notably my local gun club, that pretty blatantly violate Conquest’s Second Law. I could elaborate on this quite a bit but let’s see first if this is considered a valid exception.

      • Jiro says:

        Given the political stances of the left with respect to guns, I don’t see how a gun club can violate Conquest’s Second Law. The gun club is inherently associated with right-wing politics just by existing and depending on guns not being banned.

        • John Schilling says:

          True in the United States, not necessarily in much of Europe where gun control isn’t a big political issue because the Overton window has narrowed to “OK, everybody knows there will be some hunters with bolt-action rifles and such and that’s about it”.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        What the views of members of your gun club on, say, marijuana legalization and gay marriage, compared to their views a decade or two ago? Holding firm on one issue where there’s no give doesn’t mean you aren’t drifting left on all the other ones. Not sure if this contradicts Conquest’s law, though.

    • cassander says:

      The left has been consistently winning political battles for the last 100 or so years, and people go along to get along. In an anti-world where politics were moving right in the long term, we’d probably have an anti-conquest formulating the opposite law.

    • AnonYEmous says:

      “To me, the answer to why Conquest’s Second Law seems true is “status.””

      To me, the answer to why it seems true is that a lot of left-leaning people have decided that advancing their ideology is a primary goal and may even be more important than their other work.

      I’m trying not to generalize here, but I do feel that there are a lot of people that fit this description on the left, moreso than on the right. And I would imagine this is why. Now it’s beginning to even out, and it may even eventually swing the other way.

    • shakeddown says:

      Alternatively, maybe the correct formulation should be “any right-wing organization soon becomes explicitly right-wing”. This makes sense – the right is big on explicit tribalism, while the left frowns on it.

      Well, actually I think both versions are wrong. Military/law enforcement are pretty right-leaning without being explicitly so.

  6. PedroS says:

    I have been thinking about the free-will/determinism problem, and read some (admittedly short) summaries on compatibilism. As far as I could understand, I got the impression that compatibilism “solved” the problem of the co-existence of free will with that of a deterministic universe by changing the definition of “a free act” from the traditional understandings of “an act is free if either there are several plausible choices or if its origin starts with an individual decision” to that of “an act is defined as free if it is taken without coercion by an individual in pursuit of their desires (regardless of the pre-determined or voluntary nature of those desires)”.

    My questions for the philosophers in the audience are:
    A) As a first approximation, is my encapsulation of the compatibilist solution adequate?
    B) If this is an appropriate statement of compatibilism:
    B.1) would it be adequate to state that the problem of the existence of free will comes from the way we define “free will” ?
    B.2) would an attempt at a rebuttal in the form “compatibilism solves the problem by defining the problem away” have any credit?
    B.3) How rational must a desire be for an action pursued in furtherance of such a desire tobe free? E.g. Suppose Alice is absolutely convinced that buried gold coins buried under 2 inches of dirt will sprout golden trees. She desires to plant golden trees for the benefit of mankind and therefore trades her possesions for gold Kruggerrands and buries them all over the surrounding country. Would this be a free act?

    • Wrong Species says:

      https://xkcd.com/927/

      Compatiblism, by its formulation, doesn’t solve the problem.

    • Protagoras says:

      A) It’s fair enough.
      B1) I suppose this is true of any problem in a sense, but probably more true of free will.
      B2) It is popular, but I would say no. The various intuitions people have about free will are incoherent; any consistent story of free will sacrifices some of them. Standard compatibilism makes one choice of which intuitions to sacrifice, other views make other choices. Some try to muddy the waters to conceal the fact that they are making sacrifices (this is true of all the views; some compatibilists do this too, of course), but everybody is doing it, so it makes little sense to single out compatibilism for blame on this score.
      B3) Whether someone is a compatibilist is not so tightly linked to the role of rationality in their account of free will as to make it sensible to identify something as the compatibilist answer (or the incompatibilist answer) to this particular question; different variations of each view will have different responses.

    • Thegnskald says:

      Imagine somebody, somewhere, had a magic machine that could reverse time by thirty seconds.

      You make a decision to drink water instead of beer in that thirty seconds, because beer has too many calories or whatever, and proceed to fetch a water bottle.

      Do you expect your decision to change, no matter how many times time is reset? Do you expect to think different thoughts?

      If it doesn’t, your behavior is deterministic.

      If it does, your “free will” isn’t so much free will, as it is randomness. Your choices can be changed just by repeatedly resetting until you come to the conclusion the magic-device-wielding person wants.

      Compatibilism, at its core, is recognizing that free will and determinism aren’t in contradiction – in this thought experiment, you have less free will without determinism, because somebody else can control your choices.

      Determinism merely says that you will make a specific set of decisions – it doesn’t say they were not freely chosen.

      • Iain says:

        This is also my view on free will. If “free will” requires my decisions to be random and unpredictable, then I don’t want any, thanks.

        • Do you really put positive value on predictability per se? Or is your concern really that if your actions were unpredictable, they would also be unconnected with your values, personality, etc:?

          https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5RCbEdKJgjyLTJBZDZSSHlJVFk

          • skef says:

            Help me out with the tap-dancing in IV.2 …

            If the idea is that indeterminism is necessary for free will, a pseudo-random generator can’t suffice, because it is deterministic. How are they not saying “free will … is not even compatible with determinism” at the bottom of p. 30, then withdrawing to a weaker claim in IV.2, then restating the stronger claim in the conclusion?

            (Rhetorical criticism aside, I do think there is good reason to think we’ll find noise amplifiers in the brain, because randomness is useful for information processing and good pseudo-randomness might be more “expensive”.)

          • Iain says:

            @TheAncientGeekAKA1Z:

            It is the connection with my values and personality that I find important. Given the exact parameters of a particular situation, I find it comforting to think that I would behave consistently. To borrow an example from your link: if I walk into a voting booth and pull a lever, then you zap me back in time with a reverse-o-ray and make me do it again, I would be pretty concerned if my vote changed from one iteration to the other. My choices should be connected to my values, knowledge, and beliefs, which are pre-existing facts about the world.

            One of the inputs to the (possibly deterministic) algorithm of the universe is my personality, as it is encoded by a bunch of neurons sloshing around in my head. My entire being is tied up in that squishy lump; there is no Iain outside of it. If my actions are not determined by the details of my brain, what else could be determining them?

          • It is the connection with my values and personality that I find important. Given the exact parameters of a particular situation, I find it comforting to think that I would behave consistently

            So you have never regretted anything?

            My choices should be connected to my values, knowledge, and beliefs, which are pre-existing facts about the world.

            #

            Yes, but connection can falls short of complete determinism, and some choices are torn.

            One of the inputs to the (possibly deterministic) algorithm of the universe is my personality, as it is encoded by a bunch of neurons sloshing around in my head. My entire being is tied up in that squishy lump; there is no Iain outside of it. If my actions are not determined by the details of my brain, what else could be determining them?

            What if the state of your brain is not determined?

          • Thegnskald says:

            Personally, no, I do not regret things, because I understand that my choices are made based on context; divorcing decision from context is nonsensical.

            And whether or not your brain is deterministic is a distinct question from whether free will and determinism are compatible.

      • Do you expect your decision to change, no matter how many times time is reset? Do you expect to think different thoughts?

        If it was a decision I regretted, I would want it to be different.

        If it does, your “free will” isn’t so much free will, as it is randomness

        What’s the difference?

        – in this thought experiment, you have less free will without determinism, because somebody else can control your choices.

        OTOH, in that thought experiment , you have more free will because you can make different choices.

        • Determinism merely says that you will make a specific set of decisions – it doesn’t say they were not freely chosen.

          It doesn’t state it explicitly, but it implies it in conjunction with some definitions of freedom, particularly those that associate freedom with ability to have chosen otherwise than you did.

          • Thegnskald says:

            The ability to have chosen other than you did is distinct from doing so. Decisions are made for reasons – the reasons do not cease to apply if the scenario is replayed exactly as it played out the first time. To suppose you would choose differently is to suppose the reasons would be weighed differently, to suppose somebody else would make the decision.

            We can apply the same logic to the future.

          • The ability to have chosen other than you did is distinct from doing so. Decisions are made for reasons – the reasons do not cease to apply if the scenario is replayed exactly as it played out the first time.

            A decision can be torn — we can have reasons to do one thing, and also reasons to do another.

            To suppose you would choose differently is to suppose the reasons would be weighed differently,

            Yes

            to suppose somebody else would make the decision.

            That doesn’t follow–or at least, i it implies you become a different person every time you make a decision,

          • Thegnskald says:

            No – it implies you make the decision you make because you are the person you are. The person who would make a different choice is a different person.

          • if a person is defined in a fine-grained way by a set of preferences, then there is no long-term personhood.

          • Thegnskald says:

            In one sense, yes. In another, no. We do change, and even where we are the same, different circumstances can result in different decisions.

          • That doesn’t answer the point. If our identifies have fine grained dependence on our psychological state, then we don’t have long term personhood, even if we think we do.

            OTOH if the dependence is only coarse grained, it is coherent for (a version of) me to have made a different choice, and for those alternative choices to still be “mine”.

        • Thegnskald says:

          That, to me, is a confused conception of “will” – indeed, it is something the opposite of will.

          The fact that I could make another choice should never negate the fact that I make the choices I do, based on the circumstances I find myself in. If my choices are based not on my thoughts, if my thoughts are based not on my information, on my history, if there is no consistent thread to who I am and what I decide – then I am not a being of free will, for I cannot choose anything, I am merely an iterated game of random chance as to what decision happened to me.

          Free will requires determinism, in the sense that it requires a consistent self, who would act the same way in the same context. Anything else isn’t free will – it is being hostage to the decisions of an inconsistent self, a series of people who were not in any meaningful way myself, who made decisions I would not have chosen in the same context.

          Free will is both the existence of other choices we could have made, and a consistent thread of self that would have made the same decisions anyways.

          • The fact that I could make another choice should never negate the fact that I make the choices I do,

            That’s ambiguously phrased–do you mean the fact that you did make certain choice, or the fact that you would only ever make a certain choice, even if you had a do-over?

            If my choices are based not on my thoughts, if my thoughts are based not on my information, on my history, if there is no consistent thread to who I am and what I decide – then I am not a being of free will, for I cannot choose anything, I am merely an iterated game of random chance as to what decision happened to me.

            You can have a consistent thread that falls short of complete determinism in all things

            Free will requires determinism, in the sense that it requires a consistent self, who would act the same way in the same context.

            No, FW only requires enough determinism to carry out an action once a decision has been made.

            Anything else isn’t free will – it is being hostage to the decisions of an inconsistent self

            Rather than being a hostage to a consistent self? Determinism in all things means you never have any real choice. Less than complete determinism is compatible with having just enough consistency.

            Free will is both the existence of other choices we could have made, and a consistent thread of self that would have made the same decisions anyways.

            How does a choice you would never make exist?

          • Thegnskald says:

            A restaurant menu is a list of choices. The fact that there are certain things I would not order does not mean I don’t have the choice – only that I wouldn’t take it.

            It seems you think free will requires that options have nonzero probability assigned to them, that anything that wouldn’t be chosen wasn’t a choice in the first place. The difference, however, is between “wouldn’t” and “couldn’t” – free will merely requires “could”, it does not require “would”, and indeed, a universe without “would” and “wouldn’t” has no free will at all, only probability.

          • The choices on a restaurant men are ink on paper. What kind of thing is an unchosen choice metaphysically?

            will merely requires “could”,

            UInder determinism, there is no “could” because all options except one have zero probability.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Choice is the experience of selecting among multiple options.

            That there is only one selection that will be made does not negate this experience, not mean the other options were not meaningful. Indeed, I suspect many people would be significantly unhappy if options except the one they’d choose anyways were taken away, because it is the experience of choosing, not the choice itself, which is significant to the concept of free will, which is the internal sense of control over our lives.

            An insistence on an objective sense of free will fails to understand what free will is; there can be no such thing. Either our choices are random – no free will, just chance – or they are predetermined – no free will there either, in a specific sense that the outcome cannot be altered (although to me this is exactly as nonsensical as arguing that free will is negated by the existence of history that cannot be altered, for pretty much the same reasons)

            But that isn’t what free will is. It is the subjective internal sense of choice – it is an experience.

          • An insistence on an objective sense of free will fails to understand what free will is; there can be no such thing. Either our choices are random – no free will, just chance – or they are predetermined – no free will there either,

            I have argued at lengththat that is a false dichotomy.

            It is the subjective internal sense of choice

            Says who?

        • powerfuller says:

          If it was a decision I regretted, I would want it to be different.

          In this thought experiment, are we assuming that when time is reset, you will revert to the state of mind you were 30 seconds ago, so you’d have no knowledge of having relived the decision? You wouldn’t be able to regret it.

          If we’re assuming awareness of the time-loop, so you knew the previous choice, you may indeed make a different decision, but that’s due to it being in a different circumstance, and thus a different choice from the original.

          • I regret certain things now, and I don’t need a time loop to do that.

            To regret something is to want to have done it differently. It follows from that , that if offered a time machine, I would want to use it change my regretted decisions.

            Whether I could is a lot less relevant, since the point was only to show that some common attitudes imply or depend on a specifically incompatibilist notion of free will.

    • powerfuller says:

      Compatibilism, as you describe it, seems to me an attempt to get the question of free will back into the arena of life that people, besides philosophers, actually care about. Most people are more concerned with the consequences of free will vis-a-vis the law, the state, society, etc., than whether an act is truly free in some niggling philosophical sense.

      In the niggling philosophical sense, who cares if a will is “free”? It seems to make little difference in life, or one’s experience of life, whether our choices are the result of spiritual or mechanical actions. In other words, when I’m worried about impingement upon “my free will,” the operative word is my, not free. Even if I’m a deterministic automaton, I still would prefer to see the output of my particular programming, not somebody else’s being forced upon me.

      EDIT: moved comment ‘cuz I replied in the wrong place.

      • In the niggling philosophical sense, who cares if a will is “free”?

        Do you care that you coukd bring about a future that would not have happened without your decisions? if not, why not?

        Compatibilism, as you describe it, seems to me an attempt to get the question of free will back into the arena of life that people, besides philosophers, actually care about.

        I think people do generally care about making a difference.

        spiritual or mechanical

        Spiritual and mechanical are not synonyms for free and determined.

        • powerfuller says:

          @TheAncientGeek

          I do care about living in a world where a future is, in part, the result of my decisions, but what I mean is I don’t care whether those decisions are the result of predictable physical processes in my brain, or the result of a soul free from physical influences. Even if they’re determined, and even if I’d always make the same choice given the same circumstances and state of mind, they’re still my decisions, and I want to be able to act them out. Rather than believe that I have free will and worry about whether it’s truly free, I’m more inclined to think that, for all intents and purposes, I am my will — it’s more important for being mine than for being free.

          I don’t think the ones really concerned about making a difference in the world spend too much time worrying about who or what exactly is making the difference; whether their desire to make a difference is a choice or just a involuntary action that feels like a free choice. I think they’re too busy focusing on actually doing things to make that difference occur. If I say, “I choose to drink a beer,” and a philosopher says, “You don’t really have a choice, it’s because of these factors…” Even if he’s right, it makes no practical difference to my life or my desire; I’ll still want a beer! I could be a Buddhist and believe there’s no self to have a free will, but to me it seems just as reasonable to say, “My will is myself.” Even if it’s not “free,” it’s still valuable since it’s the basis of my [experience of my] being.

          I don’t mean to use mechanical/spiritual as interchangeable with determined/free, but doesn’t the traditional idea of free will require a non-physical soul to avoid being completely determined by the physical world? I’m not well-read on the subject (at least, not any philosopher in the past 300 years). It’s possible I’m completely missing the point.

          • Iain says:

            Rather than believe that I have free will and worry about whether it’s truly free, I’m more inclined to think that, for all intents and purposes, I am my will — it’s more important for being mine than for being free.

            This is a good way to put it.

          • e. I think they’re too busy focusing on actually doing things to make that difference occur.

            That may be true, but it may well just mean that they just have a mismatch between their beliefs and their behaviour. Philosophers do not have the luxury of using inconsistency to solve problems. Free will does have the implications about whether or not one can affect the future, and the fact that some people can’t see that doesn’t change
            it. The world also contains people who think low taxes are compatible with high spending. To show that two ideas are compatible you need to do more than point out that some people hold both.

          • The problem is where ownership and responsibility come from. Libertarians can explain that in terms
            of causal chains that can be traced back to the agent and no further. Determinists can’t do that, because of the implication that all causal chains go back to the big bang. Of course everyone believes they have agency and origination….but if course the mere fact that a belief is widespread does not mean it is compatible with any other idea.

            idea of free will require a non-physical soul to avoid being completely determined by the physical world?

            The traditional theory does say that … in the sense that the modern theory, naturalistic libertarianism ,doesn’t.

          • 1soru1 says:

            Affecting the future in a deterministic way is still affecting the future.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            To put it another way: I only care about the question of free will because I’m concerned about the possibility of having an unfree will. Being told that everything is deterministic once you break it down to a physical level of description where no such thing as a will exists at all, doesn’t really touch on that concern.

          • > Affecting the future in a deterministic way is still affecting the future.

            It’s being a teen tiny part of a long casual chain that brings about the future, without being anything special.

    • would it be adequate to state that the problem of the existence of free will comes from the way we define “free will” ?

      In a sense that is true of every problem. If you want to say that FW is particularly dependent on definitions. or particularly dissolvable, you need to supply specific reasons. Of course, the disdvatnage to solving a problem by changing the definition of the terms is that you can’t really claim to have solved the *original* problem.

    • rahien.din says:

      I don’t think the term “compatibilism” is correct. It implies a sort of non-overlapping detente between freedom of will and determinism, and I don’t think that is right.

      Agency is the fact that my actions are directly attributable to the interaction between my personal nature and my environment (my output is a function of my input and programming).

      Will is the desire regarding my actions that precedes my acting. It is part of my personal nature. It is a sort of weighting function for potential actions. Some actions are given a high probability mass (I buy a turkey sandwich), some are given a slightly lower probability mass (I buy a tuna salad sandwich), some are given a low probability mass (I rob the sandwich store), and some are given a zero probability mass (I waggle my antennae to detect predatory centipedes). These weightings are a necessary consequence of (and only of) my personal nature.

      With this understanding of will as a part of my personal nature, it is clear to me how insufficient it is merely to say “free will and determinism are compatible.” Will is itself determined, and it is one of several cogs in the process of agency.

      So will is a linchpin of determinism. Calling them “compatible” is misleading.

      Edit: typos. Posted from my iPhone

      • You have not shown that any kind of freedom is compatible with determinism.

        • rahien.din says:

          A will is more free to the extent that it assigns probability mass to a wider array of actions. Likewise, a will is more constrained to the extent that it assigns probability mass to a more narrow array of actions. “Freedom of will” is just a way to describe the contents of a will.

          But the contents of a will would still be determined. If my will is more free, that state of freedom is determined. If my will is less free, that state of constraint is determined.

          Determinism can not be incompatible with that which it determines.

          • random832 says:

            > A will is more free to the extent that it assigns probability mass to a wider array of actions.

            My understanding of “determinism” is that it is an absolute assignment of 100% of the probability mass to a single outcome, i.e. it’s opposed to quantum stuff that is truly random and the argument is regarding whether any of that quantum stuff has a macroscopic effect in terms of the outcomes seen in the brain and from there the person’s actions.

    • currentlyinthelab says:

      Everything we know about the human brain and the observations of science indicates that you are a bio-chemical puppet, subject to mathematically deterministic forces(and are thus a product of forces outside your control), or quantum randomness(or chance also outside your control).

      Free will can still be tautologically true and compatible with that of science depending on your rules of grammar and language and definition of words and its relation to emotion.

      But its good to remember this concept is then a bit of a game of picking out the proper definitions and logical rules of grammer, and that might not map neatly into the common usage and understanding of free-will.

  7. Kevin C. says:

    So, I have two related questions, essentially one meta-level and one object level. Going for the meta-level question, consider a two-party conflict or confrontation (one with duration/repetition and no distinct time limit). And that one party, call them A, eschews certain tactics as “dishonorable”, “immoral”, etc., while side B engages in at least some of those tactics, and finds them effective. Sure, one needs to avoid engaging in a tactic or technique to make a credible moral claim that such tactics should be off limits, but this requires that A can effectively persuade B to stop using these tactics despite their effectiveness. But when this persuasion fails, and B seems determined to continue beat A with tactics A finds “dishonorable”, doesn’t A continuing to “take the high road” become, at some point, a recipe for defeat? Choosing “cooperate” against DefectBot? At what point does one, in A’s position, switch from “the high road” to a more “tit-for-tat” strategy?

    • biblicalsausage says:

      If there are only two parties, and if there are effective “dishonorable tactics”, and if the party willing to use the dishonorable tactics is not capable of being persuaded by moral arguments, and if the two parties are otherwise evenly matched, and if the honorable side has no honorable way to punish the dishonorable side’s honorable behavior, the dishonorable side will tend to win by cheating. That’s true.

      But those idealized assumptions may not be much of an approximation of the real world in many cases. Often, there are enough different parties out there, and enough of a sense of social shame on the “dishonorable” side, that loudly voiced disapproval can pull the dishonorable side into line, sometimes. In a political struggle, being publicly identified as the “bad guys” might be fatal in the long run.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Often, there are enough different parties out there, and enough of a sense of social shame on the “dishonorable” side, that loudly voiced disapproval can pull the dishonorable side into line, sometimes.

        I think the key word there is that “sometimes” at the end. And for the “sometimes” that “loudly voiced disapproval” doesn’t pull them into line?

        And on the equally-matching condition, I see how if A is, barring the “dishonorable” tactics, stronger than B, “taking the high road” might be valid. But what if instead B has an advantage over A even without the dishonorable tactics (but still prefers to win faster with them than slower without them)?

        In a political struggle, being publicly identified as the “bad guys” might be fatal in the long run.

        And if “A” is already becoming “identified as the “bad guys”” even with “taking the high ground”?

        • biblicalsausage says:

          Well, there are endless possible permutations. It would all depend on what the dynamics of the situation look like and what specific kinds of “dishonorable tactics” we’re talking about. In the real world, “dirty tricks” sometimes do work, and sometimes they don’t.

          And sometimes, even if side A wants to use the same “dirty tactics,” it cannot, because the playing field is asymmetrical. It’s a complicated world.

          • Kevin C. says:

            Well, there are endless possible permutations. It would all depend on what the dynamics of the situation look like and what specific kinds of “dishonorable tactics” we’re talking about.

            So this a case where discussion should stick to the object level, then?

          • biblicalsausage says:

            Well, someone better than me at thinking about abstract game theory could probably have a lot of interesting things to say about this on a hypothetical level. But I run out of ideas pretty quick if it’s all hypothetical.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Hypothesis: honorable tactics are a mixture of effective long-run strategies and status displays. Even the status displays aren’t necessarily a complete loss– they’re successful strategies for maintaining a status symbols.

          Success might consist in part of having good judgement about which standards of behavior are worth maintaining and which are pretty much a loss for you.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “maintaining a status symbols” should have been “maintaining a status hierarchy”.

            I can’t even blame a computer– I meant to type status system, and was bushwacked by a finger macro.

          • albatross11 says:

            One important feature here is that sometimes how I play the game can influence what the rules of the game will be going forward. For example, both big political parties are willing to play every legal game to win, including redistricting and changing polling place hours to screw the other side. But neither side is actually into sending thugs to disrupt the other side’s rallies or get out the vote efforts. One plausible reason for this is that both parties would lose if clashes of gangs of thugs became a regular part of elections.

          • The Nybbler says:

            But neither side is actually into sending thugs to disrupt the other side’s rallies or get out the vote efforts.

            You are mistaken.

          • albatross11 says:

            There are riots in a few places, such as college campuses. Those are bad, but they’re quite distinct from having the Democratic party dispatch a gang of thugs to rough up the guys at the local Republican Party office. I would be very surprised to see such tactics happen, and I expect that if they are tried, the local authorities will land like a ton of bricks on the thugs.

          • Matt M says:

            I think there’s plenty of reason to suggest that some of the Trump-related riots in Chicago and SoCal were funded by major Democrat donors.

            Particularly given that they stopped almost immediately once they started getting press coverage and photos of attractive women with bloody noses started circulating, and they realized it would do more harm than good.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Jesus said that when a man strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him your left. He didn’t say what to do if he clocks you again.

    • Jordan D. says:

      Maybe, but also not necessarily?

      First, of course, this only makes sense in a true two-party ecosystem; if there is a third party or parties, it is possible that A’s insistence on honorable conduct is tactically sound because it will help convince C to his side, or at least not to side with the despicable B. A related issue- if A and B are conglomerate or inchoate entities, it could be that A becoming more like B will cause A to lose membership, and grow weaker than the forbidden tactics can account for.

      Assuming true two-party status, one has to consider the level of effectiveness. In the traditional prisoner’s dilemma, if A cooperates and B defects, B wins massively and A loses massively every time. But what if A and B are *almost* exactly matched, and B’s immoral tactics only make getting victory slightly more likely? Then it could actually be worse for A to switch, because the gain from using the immoral tactic might not be greater than the disutility from A’s own revulsion to such dishonorable stuff. If A and B are regularly battling, for example, over who gets to ride shotgun in a car, maybe victory isn’t worth any amount of shame?

      It’s also possible that A’s use of the tactic will be less effective against B for similar reasons. If B’s secret tactic is shouting ‘Look behind you!’ and bonking A in the noggin when he turns, doing the same thing to B might not even work.

      So it seems to me that in any given conflict where there are only two relevant parties, A and B, and there is a disreputable tactic that A dislikes and B will use, A should weigh the subjective ‘badness’ of the tactic versus its effectiveness for A in particular and the stakes of the game, and the lower the former and higher the latter, A should be more willing to relinquish the high ground.

      • Kevin C. says:

        But what if A and B are *almost* exactly matched, and B’s immoral tactics only make getting victory slightly more likely?

        Like I asked biblicalsausage above, what if A and B, without the immoral tactics, are not exactly matched, in B’s favor?

        If A and B are regularly battling, for example, over who gets to ride shotgun in a car, maybe victory isn’t worth any amount of shame?

        But if A and B’s battle is existential, or nearly so?

        It’s also possible that A’s use of the tactic will be less effective against B for similar reasons. If B’s secret tactic is shouting ‘Look behind you!’ and bonking A in the noggin when he turns, doing the same thing to B might not even work.

        Okay, but what should A do in that situation?

        • Jordan D. says:

          >What if everything is in B’s favor?

          I don’t see how this changes anything. A weighs how much the use of the tactic is likely to help it versus harm it, but accepts that they’ll probably lose anyway. Hey, at least in theory it could be most tactically effective to become a martyr rather than die a hypocrite!

          >If the battle is existential

          Assuming the battle is existential- two people dueling to the death, perhaps- you weigh that factor in favor of adopting the immoral tactic, since even a small chance of averting a huge cost could be worth considering. But without object-level detail, I don’t think you can naively assume that it’s always better to do evil than to die.

          >What should A do?

          Observe that adopting the tactic will probably not work and therefore lower accordingly his desire to compromise and use it.

          ~

          I think part of the thing here is that you want to stick to the meta level, but I really think the simple “how much will this really help me versus how much does it hurt me to do this” balance covers the general question completely. The (literal?) devil is in the details here; why does A find the tactic immoral, how effective will it be, what are the consequences of use vs. disuse, how existential is the conflict, etc.

          Like, look. Obviously if two people are playing an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, Prisoner A should pick tit-for-tat rather than be a cooperate bot. But the Prisoner’s Dilemma is the spherical cow in a vacuum of decision-theory exercises.

          If this is two people dueling and A knows that B plans to spin around and fire early, then it seems like A has a good argument for breaching the rules himself.

          But what if it’s the same situation, but A lives by an old-timey honor code that would drive him to commit suicide from the shame of cheating anyway? Well, now it’s better not to cheat, since A has a chance of surviving the first shot and winning honestly, but A will never escape himself if he cheats.

          If representatives of two companies are having meetings to negotiate deals and Company B keeps threatening the families of Company A to get better terms, maybe Company A lacks the power to do the same and is better off staying quiet until they can get an FBI investigation or something.

          If we have two churches feuding, and Church B starts sending people in the night to vandalize the property of Church A, maybe adopting those same tactics will cause Church A to lose horrified parishioners, and end up weakening them more than a loss would.

          If you have a civil rights leader A who is trying to overthrow an apartheid regime led by B, maybe you’re entirely outgunned and adopting violent tactics has only a tiny chance of succeeding, and it’s actually better to martyr yourself and be a symbol.

          Or maybe you’re in the same situation but the adoption of violent tactics has a much higher chance of succeeding, and riots in the streets are the way to go.

          ~

          So I think that’s my answer. There’s a simple balancing test, but the factors can be very complex.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think a lot of tactics have the property that they mess up your internal cohesion. My impression is that this happened with the US torture policy (leading to people refusing to have anything to do with it) and later with US surveillance policy (leading to a lot of leaks/whistleblowers).

          • hlynkacg says:

            This is one of the things the US Military emphasizes in command training (and that fiction almost always fucks up) If you’re in the business of giving orders don’t give an order that wont be followed.

    • Jiro says:

      It is possible that A precommitted to not use those tactics because doing so creates better incentives. If it’s a true precommitment, A then won’t use them even when using them would work better. Because of the incentives, A benefits from this averaged over all possible worlds even though A is harmed when you consider only the current situation. But A can only benefit like this if the precommitment is credible.

      Genuinely believing that certain tactics are dishonorable is a way to credibly precommit to not using them.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        Yeah, but since genuine pre-committment is impossible for un-augmented humans, there’s still the question of when to abandon your (false) pre-committments.

        • Jiro says:

          Genuine precommitment is impossible for unaugmented humans and arbitrary precommitments. But in certain specific cases, unaugmented humans are able to precommit. My point is that when humans “irrationally” refuse to use dishonorable tactics, that’s because their “irrational” refusal is just a precommitment.

          If you were in his position, you might be able to abandon the precommitment, but you’re not in his position; he is, and he has a different mental makeup than you. His actions are constrained by his “irrationality”, which prevents him from abandoning his precommitments.

          • albatross11 says:

            Humans commit all the time. We use contracts, laws, and reputations; we hire external services to do the expensive punishment at a profit so we won’t be dissuaded from punishing defection by the cost; we structure our organizations so that some commitments are super hard to break. (Try getting the US military or secret service to go along with a coup. Their commitment to not doing so is built into their selection and training of personnel and their instutitional culture.)

        • Yeah, but since genuine pre-committment is impossible for un-augmented humans

          Other species manage it. How else would you explain territorial behavior?

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            1) Animals mostly don’t have theory of mind in the first place, so I don’t see what role precomittment could play? 2) Even if they did, you don’t need to appeal to precomittment to explain territoriality, since territorial predators are defending an immediate interest: an interloper might eat food that would otherwise be theirs. 3) animals are dumb, which could confer an advantage in the precomittment department.

        • 1soru1 says:

          Impossible for human _individuals_, but the topic is human _organisations_.

      • Kevin C. says:

        Because of the incentives, A benefits from this averaged over all possible worlds even though A is harmed when you consider only the current situation.

        Except we don’t live in “all possible worlds”, but only “the current situation”. How much should the A’s care that they would have benefited on net for “taking the high rode” in some alternate histories, if, in the sole real one, B is succeeding in working to the goal of A’s utter extiction?

    • Brad says:

      Did you read Niceness, Community and Civilization as well as Be Nice, At Least Until You Can Coordinate Meanness?

      • albatross11 says:

        These sound like books written by Thomas Schelling, and only available in Lucien’s library in Morpheus’ realm.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Why would you ever choose the high road over tit-for-tat in the first place? If we stick to two players, the main reason is signal error: it is hard to tell when the other player is cooperating, so tit-for-tat players can get stuck in a paranoid cycle of retaliation.

      So the answer is “abandon the high road if the rate of signal error goes down enough.”

      • Kevin C. says:

        Why would you ever choose the high road over tit-for-tat in the first place?

        Because part of how Party A distinguishes themselves from Party B is as the Party Who Does Not Do Such Things?

        You know, the whole, well-worn “he who hunts monsters”, “if you kill him, you’ll be as bad as him” tropes.

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          “if you kill him you’ll be as bad as him” illustrates my point. We virtuously kill people all the time. But this is only unambiguously virtuous when we have made sure there is very little chance of erroneously interpreting those people’s actions (for example, we try to only kill people after a fair trial).

      • bintchaos says:

        @5hog

        Why would you ever choose the high road over tit-for-tat in the first place?


        Because in Sinner v Saint iterated TfT the Sinner always wins.
        At least Sinner v Sinner is a CAT game. (nobody wins)

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          Would you please repeat with fewer abbreviations? “CAT game” is ungooglable.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s not an abbreviation at all. It’s “cat game” or “cat’s game”, a tie in tic-tac-toe, though the origin of the expression is unknown.

            Prisoner’s Dilemma isn’t even the same kind of game as tic-tac-toe. Tic Tac Toe is a combinatorial partisan game; prisoner’s dilemma is a simultaneous game.

          • bintchaos says:

            oh, sorry…
            that was too simplistic–in iterated (repeated) Tit-for-Tat the combinations are Saint v Saint (max Payoff for both players) Sinner v Saint (Sinner always beats Saint) and Sinner v Sinner (no Payoff for either payer, a CAT game or a draw) Nybbler is correct, and I don’t why we always capitalized it in school.
            In TfT both players start as Saints. Becoming a Sinner means breaking the rules of play (cheating). TfT means a play is in response to other player– Optimal strat is Saint v Saint– reciprocal altruism from evo theory of cooperation.
            The Iterated PD (Prisoner’s Dilemma) is a special instance of TfT involving cheater detection and defection.
            Reciprocal altruism is the simplest game structure, model used as a teaching model.
            Evolutionary games, Cooperation Competition Paradigm and complex adaptive games are more sophisticated models.

            Why would you ever choose the “high road” over TfT in the first place


            A Superrational player would always choose the high road. But its unclear that Superrational players ever exist.
            In a CCP or evolutionary game the “high road” may yield more payoff than the reciprocal move.

    • Well... says:

      Here are two reasons you might want to stick to the high road:

      1. It may look like tit-for-tat is more effective now, but the high road might take you to victory in the end–even if you don’t see it in your lifetime. The high road has that reputation exactly because it contains old wisdom and has withstood many tests against tit-for-tat-ism in the past.

      2. The high road is better in some non-material way. If you believe in any kind of morality, the high road is the moral alternative, and there is more at stake based on your taking it than whether or not you win some conflict against the tit-for-tat-ists.

      At first when I wrote these I thought they were mutually exclusive but thinking more about it I’ve realized they are not.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        The high road may be immoral. John Brown took the lowest road available, but it’s not obvious that he was morally in the wrong. As did Nat Turner.

      • Kevin C. says:

        2. The high road is better in some non-material way. If you believe in any kind of morality, the high road is the moral alternative, and there is more at stake based on your taking it than whether or not you win some conflict against the tit-for-tat-ists.

        But what if the long-term conflict is an existential one? Is there really more at stake then? “Yes, we’re going to be utterly wiped from the face of the Earth, but at least we kept our morals!”?

        • The Nybbler says:

          “Yes, we’re going to be utterly wiped from the face of the Earth, but at least we kept our morals!”?

          You probably know the saying “The Constitution is not a suicide pact”; there’s a similar saying about the Torah (it is to live by, not to die by). So, if your moral code is going to result in your extinction, you’re probably right to break it. Though I’d add that if your moral code keeps putting you in that situation, perhaps it needs to be rethought.

          • Deiseach says:

            Some people may choose to die rather than break their code. “I could not live if I were that sort of person”. It’s the “if someone holds a gun to your head and tells you they’ll pull the trigger unless (you convert to Pastafarianism/rape that twelve year old/something else you may find abhorrent)” question: do you do that or not?

            For some people, it may be as simple as ‘if I give in to this, then anyone can threaten me to get their ends and I’ll give in. I’d rather die than be constantly at the beck and call of a bully’. For others, it may be a moral principle. Or “a fate worse than death”. Or the martyrs who did not give in to the pressure of the State and the implorings of their loved ones, versus those who did give in (see the whole Donatism debate).

        • Well... says:

          But what if the long-term conflict is an existential one?

          Then things could be different. But in the vast majority of large-scale two-party conflicts neither side is threatened with being “utterly wiped from the face of the Earth.” And in intra-US large-scale two-party conflicts, none are.

          • Kevin C. says:

            neither side is threatened with being “utterly wiped from the face of the Earth.”

            Do you mean this in terms of being “wiped out” as individual humans, or “wiped out” as a culture/tribe. Are there still Sumerians? Does our present-day world hold any Scythians? But were the Sumerians or Scythians, as individual human beings, subjected to mass slaughter? A party, a culture, a tribe, a nation can be lost forever without having to literally slaughter its members, yes? The Sumerians and Scythians and countless other peoples are still quite extinct as cultures, as nations, as peoples, even if faint traces of their bloodlines remain mixed into some present people, right?

          • LHN says:

            Did the Sumerians or Scythians die out because they were too high-minded to undertake the dirty necessities of surviving?

            Have many peoples in recorded history been faced with such a choice where it’s plausible that taking the low road would have saved them, or taking the high road would have prevented their survival?

            There are, historically, many, many more predicted doomsdays than dooms. And the record of response to those predictions doesn’t necessarily suggest that responding to the next prophet of doom with extreme action is the way to go.

          • Well... says:

            Do you mean this in terms of being “wiped out” as individual humans, or “wiped out” as a culture/tribe.

            Both, with qualifications on the latter:

            A) Isn’t the “tribe” a collection of individual humans? If you meant tribe in more of an identity umbrella sense, then it’s redundant.

            B) You have to be really careful to confirm that what you’re talking about is a culture being wiped out, and not just facing outside pressures or in the process of changing at a natural pace.

            For example, if I’m an Amishman elder, and a bunch of the kids come home from their jungspringe with cell phones and insist they ought to be allowed to keep them and use them freely, at the meeting where we elders discuss the ordnung I might say our church is threatened with being wiped out by these kids and their cell phones, or else I might say that these kids are merely trying to make our church embrace some change that is unwelcome or too fast. If I make the former argument, then I have to explain how my own use of the community telephone booth didn’t wipe out but merely incrementally changed the church I grew up in, in which the acceptance of that booth was hotly contested.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Well…

            Isn’t the “tribe” a collection of individual humans?

            Yes, but not an arbitrary collection; there’s ties of blood and history, of common mores and rites and values and life modes and all the things that make up what we call a culture.

            So, where, in our present-day world, are the Sumerians? Since, according to you, cultures can only be “wiped out” by literal genocidal extermination of the constituent humans, and no such mass slaughter of Sumerians occured (if I’m remembering my ancient history correctly), then clearly, by this position of yours, the Sumerian culture was never “wiped out”, and merely underwent “the process of changing at a natural pace” across the millenia, and thus must still exist in some changed form. So which of our present-day cultures is the Sumerians?

            And also, were Native Americans under these “Americanization” policies “just facing outside pressures”? Is Macaulayism nothing more that “outside pressure”? I guess these are no big deal, since you seem to imply, by the contrast, that mere “outside pressure” does not threaten to wipe out a culture?

            Plus, you miss the possibility of the death of a culture by total assimilation. Where are the Agawam? The Pensacola? Or, where are the Tangut — of the Western Xia/Tangut Empire — now? The Tocharians? The Sogdians? The Wuhuan? The Xiongnu? The Jurchen? The Zhangzhung? How much of the Xianbei culture has survived after nearly two millenia of “sinicization”? How is the culture of the Taokas people doing? Do I have to go on?

          • skef says:

            Do I have to go on?

            Why not? It would be illuminating to your point, which can be made far more acute. It seems safe to add in Homo Erectus, for example. That’s not merely a culture, but a whole species that’s been wiped out.

            History is certainly littered with terrible events. To embrace your metaphysics is to call every ending a tragedy, whether it resulted from a pile of corpses or a big party where two groups decide they like each other and start trading recipes. The most ardent Jews today are dressed for the 19th century, not 1270 BCE.

            There’s a vacuous way of reading “Cthulhu always swims left”: If the right is conservative, and therefore in some sense trying to preserve aspects of the past, then “the world is drifting to the left” will be true in any world that changes. There are more substantive readings of the criticism of that phrase, but you seem to be tied to the vacuous one.

            Shit changes. If you view change itself as a tragedy, there’s some decent, if imperfect, cognitive tech for lowering the anxiety of people who find themselves with that attitude. Ask your local Buddhist.

          • albatross11 says:

            Also, if its a war of extermination (loser gets wiped out) then there’s not really much room for any kind of subtle coordination, because the end results are always that at least one side loses everything. For less dire conflicts, though, you can decide not to use gas because that way the other side won’t use gas, or decide not to start nuking the other guy’s cities in hopes that he won’t nuke yours.

          • Well... says:

            @Kevin C:

            I didn’t say it’s impossible that a tribe or culture can be wiped out, only that you have to be careful about using that term. “Wiped out” connotes something different from “changing beyond recognition” and implies a different set of appropriate responses if your goal is to “save” that tribe or culture.

    • skef says:

      Keep in mind that none of the advice you’re trying to prompt from this thread actually applies if you’re just mistaken about the “object level”, whatever it is, involving a “(nearly) existential long-term conflict”. An artificial ratcheting up of stakes doesn’t vindicate an actual ratcheting up of tactics.

    • Kevin C. says:

      Okay, proceeding to the object level question, if that is okay.

      Basically, why isn’t the Right willing to even try to fight the Left with their own tactics? Why aren’t we matching “punching Nazis” with “punching Stalinists” or such? There’s racistsgettingfired.tumblr.com, but no “SJWs getting fired”; if Lefties are going to work to purge people from the institutions they control for being insufficiently “woke”, why aren’t we trying to get lefties fired or purged from institutions we control? (The one case I know of where something like that occurred, it was met with a lot of condemnation here on the Right.) Every time some lone nut goes on a killing spree, and the targets are such that it can be portrayed as a right-wing attack on the Left (everyone seems to forget Republican-appointed Judge John McCarthy Roll), it gets paraded around as the fault of “dangerous right-wing rhetoric” that needs silenced — even to this day, the New York Times is still claiming that Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage was Sarah Palin’s fault. Or how “PUAs” and “MRAs” still get blamed for Elliot Rodger. Now, you can sort of see the Right doing similar blame on the influences of a Muslim attacker, but even then with the usual Dubya-style “these people are not proper Muslims, but have perverted the ‘Religion of Peace” to twisted ends” disclaimers. But can anyone seriously picture Republicans doing the same with a non-Muslim lefty lone nut attack that injured or killed one of ours; calling on the “dangerous talk” on the left (of which one could find plenty just searching Tumblr or Twitter for a few minutes) as being responsible for motivating and directing this attack, as the Left does with the likes of Loughner, ? Or would you see only calls for “unity” and the like? Lefties like to “dox” us; why aren’t we “doxing” back?

      Now, I might accept the argument that these strategies just work better for the Left than the Right. But then, as I asked Jordan D, how should we fight then? Because “taking the high road” clearly isn’t working. So if “going tit-for-tat” won’t work either, what will? What strategies work better for the Right than the Left, if any? (Or are we on the Right just spitting futile defiance at the invincible eldrich entity summoned from beyond the void and unstoppably devouring the world, and we should just lie down and accept defeat because there is no hope? — You know, the view I’ve been forbidden from endorsing by hlynkacg, Well… and Deiseach, under penalty of being denounced as a perdiferous traitor.)

      • Randy M says:

        But can anyone seriously picture Republicans doing the same with a non-Muslim lefty lone nut attack that injured or killed one of ours; calling on the “dangerous talk” on the left

        Yes, here’s one example, although he does specify it as a “fringe” leftist.

      • Randy M says:

        But can anyone seriously picture Republicans doing the same with a non-Muslim lefty lone nut attack that injured or killed one of ours; calling on the “dangerous talk” on the left (of which one could find plenty just searching Tumblr or Twitter for a few minutes) as being responsible for motivating and directing this attack, as the Left does with the likes of Loughner,

        Yes, for example see Ace of spades yesterday, although he qualified the violence as “fringe”.

        • Kevin C. says:

          And just how prominent is Ace? How does his readership compare to that of the NYT? And doesn’t that also further make my point? If the “moderate, mainstream” Left isn’t going to “police” their “lunatic fringe” — and perhaps even “contextualize” and make excuses for them — why should we on the Right bother policing ours?

          To quote from Daniel Greenfield at FrontPage Mag:

          Congressman John Lewis claimed that the repeal would kill. Congressman Ruben Gallego insisted that he didn’t have to be civil to Republicans because their “policies that are going to kill people”.

          So where are the Republican politicians saying we don’t have to be civil to Democrats because their policies “are going to kill people”?

          Edit 2: I also agree whole-heartedly with Ace’s final line on that post: “When you have one part of the country calling for the death of the other part of the country, you don’t have a country any longer.”

          • skef says:

            Erick Erickson is prominent.

            In recent decades, statements from the right about how you don’t have to be civil to Democrats have tended to include “the troops”.

      • Iain says:

        Or maybe you’re just not looking in the right places.

        Here is an article from the NYT, full of phrases like “The suspect in the shooting in Virginia put a new spotlight on the rage buried in some corners of the progressive left.”

        Here is a Vox article that unambiguously rejects the notion of blaming Palin for the Giffords shooting.

        Here’s an incident in which Andrew Breitbart deliberately got a government employee fired using a misleadingly edited video.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Ed Kilgore

          What happened in Alexandria this morning was not an exercise in “Trump-hatred” or progressive political protest, but an act that violates the most basic norms of a constitutional democracy governed by the rule of law. Left-of-center people — a group that includes myself — need to examine their consciences and their words to ensure that we in no way give even the slightest sense that violence against political opponents might ever be justified.

          • Jiro says:

            That ‘s partly condemnation, and partly No True Scotsmanning the attackers. Of course it was an exercise in Trump-hatred. “Trump-hatred” means hating Trump. It doesn’t mean “ways of hating Trump that I wish to be associated with”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            Did you actually click through and read the whole thing?

            But what the moment really calls for is something more specific and meaningful: a mutual denunciation of political violence and the potential incitement of political violence by Democrats and Republicans, the right and the left.

            Kilgore isn’t saying “no true Democrat” or “no true progressive” but rather saying “Hey, let’s make sure that we denounce violence and incentment to violence even when the people doing it are in your camp.”

            To requote the original:

            Left-of-center people — a group that includes myself — need to examine their consciences and their words to ensure that we in no way give even the slightest sense that violence against political opponents might ever be justified.

            How is that not an implicit admission that some rhetoric has crossed this line?

            He isn’t denying that the shooter was a liberal, but rather saying that we should examine ourselves for any role that we had in inciting this liberal to violence and recommit and reiterate our condemnation of violence as a means to a political end.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Sorry Jiro, I’m backing HBC on this one.

        • Kevin C. says:

          Here is a Vox article that unambiguously rejects the notion of blaming Palin for the Giffords shooting.

          Sure, now. But where were these authors back when the shooting and the blaming the Right first happened? And, of course, this will be “memory-holed” the next time the Left can blame a lone nut on the Right, with explanations as to how this time, it really is totally the fault of dangerous right wing rhetoric clearly beyond the bounds of “free speech”. It’s a consistent pattern, wherein the Left freely uses a tactic, then all of a sudden just happens to note its immorality at the particular moment when the Right starts using it… and then forget the denunciations and go right back to using it once it serves them to do so. Wash, rinse, repeat. And this Vox article looks like just another piece of this. (Try taking a look at this other Vox article, and just count all the “fnords” toward the Right.)

          • Iain says:

            But where were these authors back when the shooting and the blaming the Right first happened?

            Giffords shooting: 2011.
            Founding of Vox Media: 2014.
            Fiendishly clever of them, really.

            It’s a consistent pattern, wherein the Left freely uses a tactic, then all of a sudden just happens to note its immorality at the particular moment when the Right starts using it… and then forget the denunciations and go right back to using it once it serves them to do so.

            Well, clearly your side is morally superior and never politicizes events, unlike those scurrilous wretches who oppose you. So I’m sure you have lots of parallel examples lined up from the Gabby Giffords shooting, right? Where a bunch of prominent right-wing pundits lined up to dutifully consider whether conservative rhetoric was responsible for encouraging the shooter?

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            Giffords shooting: 2011.
            Founding of Vox Media: 2014.

            He did say authors, not publications.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        Yep, this is plausibly signalling error – your impression is based on what “everyone” says, anecdotes, and interpretations of tone. Extremely suspect. Of course you might be perfectly correct, but this is nowhere near the certainty you’d need.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Explicity-rightist institutions DO purge leftists. The right doesn’t control much in the way of nominally-neutral institutions.

        • random832 says:

          Well, the tactic seems to mostly consist of controlling controversy-averse organizations from the outside by threatening boycotts/protests if they don’t fire the person. It’s not clear why the right wouldn’t be able to replicate it.

      • qwints says:

        I’m on “the Left”, but there are definitely people doing exactly the things you’re talking about on “the Right.” I don’t think these tactics have been effective for either side on a systemic level, although they have caused a great deal of harm to a maybe a couple dozen individuals.

        *The “Proud Boys” and “DIY Division” have engaged in street fights with antifa. There was video of a man hitting a woman during a melee at a rally in Berkeley that got a lot of praise from some on the right. The Oath Keepers regularly show up armed to protests, as do other smaller groups.

        *SJW List may be the one you’re thinking of that was criticized, but it’s an explicit attempt to get people on the left fired. There’s also a long history of the right trying to get professors fired for being too leftist, most recently the professor who tweeted about white genocide (e.g. the firing of Ward Churchill or David Horowitz’s “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America”).

        *As others have pointed out, there absolutely have been voices on the Right linking Hodgkinson to the Left. Similarly, the Left has been blamed for Micah Johnson (Dallas police shooting) and Kendrex White (UT stabbing)

        *There are organized efforts to dox Leftists. You don’t have to look hard to find people on the Right talking about pulling off antifa masks and taking pictures, which may have contributed to Eric Clanton (the bike lock wielding antifa at Berkeley) facing criminal charges . At the last protest I went to, a guy wearing a Breitbart shirt walked around and took pictures of all the protestors on our side.

        • Matt M says:

          You don’t have to look hard to find people on the Right talking about pulling off antifa masks and taking pictures

          Which serves to place the two sides on even footing.

          Antifa shows up in masks, Proud Boys don’t. Proud Boys have to take their own video of antifa, because CNN will be there taking video of them to decry “right wing violence”

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            Videoing protests is good but I feel the need to defend CNN here. If, hypothetically, CNN gave perfectly proportional coverage to left and right wing immorality, would you be able to tell? It is always totally clear that the idiots on your side are peripheral, while the idiots on the other side are the essential reality of the movement.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Matt M

            Antifa shows up in masks, Proud Boys don’t.

            Yes, because there are laws against the sort of mask-wearing the “Antifas” are doing, originally written to target the KKK. And while no one seems able or willing to enforce them against the Left, you can bank on them coming down with full force on any Right-winger who dares to do so.

            Proud Boys have to take their own video of antifa, because CNN will be there taking video of them to decry “right wing violence”

            Yeah, when CNN isn’t too busy staging “moderate” Muslim anti-terror protests.

            Note how when it comes to us pointing out examples on the Left, we can point to established institutions, politicians, and noteworthy individuals, but when it comes to the Lefties giving “but the Right really does do it too” examples, it’s pretty much Internet randos?

          • qwints says:

            The claim that the police aren’t willing to enforce laws against “the Left” is easily disproven. To take the latest high profile example: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/local/public-safety/prosecutors-file-additional-charges-against-inauguration-protesters/2017/04/27/2c7eca62-2b96-11e7-a616-d7c8a68c1a66_story.html

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Yeah, a bunch of protesters starting a literal riot on inauguration day and injuring policemen isn’t the best example. How many people have suffered legal consequences for the Milo riots? The Charles Murray riots?

        • Kevin C. says:

          There’s also a long history of the right trying to get professors fired for being too leftist, most recently the professor who tweeted about white genocide (e.g. the firing of Ward Churchill or David Horowitz’s “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America”).

          And just how effective has that been, versus the Left getting Righties pushed out of Academia? Have you ever been to Haidt and co.’s Heterodox Academy?

          • qwints says:

            Off the top of my head, the right got Churchill and Click fired. The left got McAdams fired, Wolfe to resign and Christakis to step down from a position. A quick google search suggests that people being forced out from academia is quite uncommon.

            The under representation of the Right in academia, which Haidt is concerted about, is a very different phenomenon which probably isn’t explained by overt, dishonorable tactics. It seems to be much more akin to the underrepresentation of women in tech.

          • lvlln says:

            Wait, did the right get Melissa Click fired? I had thought she had gotten herself fired by committing assault on camera. Or is there another Click I hadn’t heard of?

          • qwints says:

            That’s to whom I was referring.

          • Matt M says:

            I had thought she had gotten herself fired by committing assault on camera

            Heh, I do like the (almost certainly correct) implication that she would have totally gotten away with the on-camera assault had the right not complained about it.

          • Deiseach says:

            As to Melissa Click, I had forgotten about her until I Googled the name. But not to worry, in 2016 a Jesuit university gave her a job (I don’t know if that’s something to praise as an act of charity or one more thing to worry about in regard to universities ‘in the Jesuit tradition’).

            I really can’t shed tears over Ward Churchill; a guy who was a prime example of cultural appropriation (“yeah I’m totally one-sixteenth* indigenous people, how dare you question my background?”) making an academic living off white-bashing, finally got bounced because he hadn’t the common sense of a doorknob to keep his trap shut in the immediate wake of 9/11** (never mind that he was also insulting all the non-white, non-Western workers in the World Trade Center who died), and who has now relocated to Atlanta where he does not appear to be living on the side of the road fighting with raccoons over food scraps, but has the time and money to work on finishing his book(s).

            *Literally:

            In 2003, Churchill stated, “I am myself of Muscogee and Creek descent on my father’s side, Cherokee on my mother’s, and am an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.” In 1992, Churchill wrote elsewhere that he is one-eighth Creek and one-sixteenth Cherokee. In 1993, Churchill told the Colorado Daily that “he was one-sixteenth Creek and Cherokee.” Churchill told the Denver Post in February 2005 that he is three-sixteenths Cherokee.

            **Critique capitalism and interventionism all you like! But at least wait until the bodies are cold, okay?

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          @qwints:

          There are organized efforts to dox Leftists. You don’t have to look hard to find people on the Right talking about pulling off antifa masks and taking pictures, which may have contributed to Eric Clanton (the bike lock wielding antifa at Berkeley) facing criminal charges .

          Revealing the face of someone who is in the middle of committing felony assault is a very, very non-central example of doxxing.

          • qwints says:

            I disagree It went way beyond pulling off his mask. People established his identity and published everything they could find about him. Publishing a person’s otherwise unknown personal information (name, job, social media and address in the Clanton case) is what I understand doxing to mean. Most of the high profile doxings I remember involve people who had done despiscable things.

          • Matt M says:

            Cracking someone over the skull with a piece of steel isn’t a really despicable thing?

          • qwints says:

            It is. Which is why publishing the identity of someone who did it is a fairly central example of doxing to me.

        • AnonYEmous says:

          *The “Proud Boys” and “DIY Division” have engaged in street fights with antifa.

          There’s a difference between fighting back against groups who openly argue for fighting against you, and actually attacking peaceful protesters. Have the groups you name done the latter? Maybe they have, but I bet they haven’t.

          There was video of a man hitting a woman during a melee at a rally in Berkeley that got a lot of praise from some on the right.

          Yeah, probably because she could be found on Facebook declaring her desire for Nazi scalps, and found on video using glass bottles as weapons. Or maybe just because entering a melee while part of one of the two sides marks you out as a target, same as any other.

          The Oath Keepers regularly show up armed to protests, as do other smaller groups.

          I have heard things about the Oath Keepers but do not know what to believe. However, what I have heard is that they are meant to keep the peace and constitutionalists. I also haven’t heard of them shooting anyone or getting arrested for armed battery. So this seems like a moot point.

          *SJW List may be the one you’re thinking of that was criticized, but it’s an explicit attempt to get people on the left fired.

          More like, not employed in the first place. I would argue that specifically the point of such is to not hire political partisans which will then use whatever you give them to further the cause, but honestly I don’t mess around with Vox Day’s work these days, so you can have this one.

          There’s also a long history of the right trying to get professors fired for being too leftist, most recently the professor who tweeted about white genocide (e.g. the firing of Ward Churchill or David Horowitz’s “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America”).

          Yeah, but the recent example is a pretty egregious one. Not that I’m in favor of firing, but I think he was pretty unironically in favor of killing white people. Yes, the tweets he made weren’t entirely serious, but I don’t think his desire for dead white people was the part he wasn’t being serious about.

          *There are organized efforts to dox Leftists. You don’t have to look hard to find people on the Right talking about pulling off antifa masks and taking pictures

          Because antifa masks are part of a tactic to commit crimes and get away with it. I mean:

          which may have contributed to Eric Clanton (the bike lock wielding antifa at Berkeley) facing criminal charges

          Look, obviously this is a partisan action, but if your political opponent commits crimes it benefits everyone for them to be arrested. It’s not like these people are being doxed to be harassed; their criminal acts are being documented.

          At the last protest I went to, a guy wearing a Breitbart shirt walked around and took pictures of all the protestors on our side.

          Now this is more like doxing. Unfortunate, indeed.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        To be honest, my plan is to wait them out. They’re in the process of destroying themselves. Structurally, the left controls…nothing. Republicans have 2/3 of state legislatures and governor’s mansions and federally Republicans, led by Trump, control all three branches of government.

        The left only has social control, and they squandered their social capital by forcing insane purity spirals in their own ranks, and cutting off anyone on the right. You can’t enforce social rules if you refuse to even engage socially.

        They have nothing to offer voters, and nothing to offer socially.

        Largely this is a result of following an invented rather than discovered memeplex. At this point we dive off into evo psych or theology and I’d just direct you to Jordan Peterson’s videos. The right is generally following individual modes of behavior that in the long run result in prosperous outcomes. The left has thrown evolved tradition out and replaced it with their own untested and unworkable ideas, and will inevitably fail. See the tower of Babel, or Seeing Like a State.

        Have faith.

        • Kevin C. says:

          @Conrad Honcho

          They’re in the process of destroying themselves.

          [Citation needed]

          Structurally, the left controls…nothing.

          Except Moldbug’s “Cathedral”: the Federal bureaucracy (a.k.a. “the swamp”), the Mass Media, and Academia. Toss in a lot of the courts. The cultural commanding heights.

          Republicans have 2/3 of state legislatures and governor’s mansions

          And how much power do they really have? If a state bordering Mexico wants a border wall…? How about abortion? Gay marriage? No-fault divorce?

          federally Republicans, led by Trump, control all three branches of government.

          On paper, sure. But in practice? Does the president really control the Executive Branch bureaucracies? And just how much power does Congress really have anymore? For example, in theory the House has “the power of the purse” and can shut various other parts of the government down by cutting off their funding. And yet, look at how little actually shuts down in any “government shut down” (versus how much should according to “power of the purse” theory). And as for the third branch, you mean the judiciary that folks across the spectrum describe as in revolt against Trump? And before you mention Gorsuch, I remember the liberal columnists writing about how their more hysterical fellows needed to calm down because he was no extreme right-winger but a moderate, with examples and ennumerations how. And the phenomenon of right-leaning SCOTUS appointees consistently drifting left — I think someone here once posted a link to a paper that theorized about the mechanism behind this — as seen most readily in Chief Justice John “Schrödinger’s Tax” Roberts.

          The left only has social control

          Then why did the Berkeley police stand by? Then why aren’t the anti-KKK mask laws enforced against the masked Antifas? They seem to have control over the folks who give the orders to the rank-and-file of our law enforcement agencies.

          You can’t enforce social rules if you refuse to even engage socially.

          Sure you can, via firings, blacklistings, economic pressure, mobs, “selective leaking”, and so on. Not to mention control of the Federal bureaucracies, as mentioned above.

          They have nothing to offer voters

          Except “gibs”, as it’s said. And “affirmative action” or other preferences and set-asides for you and your identity group, so long as you’re not a straight white male. And never forget the willingness of people to “feed the crocodile, in hopes of being eaten last”.

          The left has thrown evolved tradition out and replaced it with their own untested and unworkable ideas, and will inevitably fail.

          I agree, I’m just not sanguine, to say the least, about that inevitable fall. The market can stay irrational, lot of ruin in a nation, et cetera, et cetera. Like Venezuela spending the oil infrastructure maintenance funds on socialist redistribution, an ultimately unworkable project can be propped up for quite some time by consuming civilizational “seed corn”. I recall a commenter over at Unz (I think on one of Pat Buchanan’s recent columns) outlining a “Snow Crash”/fall of Rome scenario where DC still claims, but cannot enforce, control over a US that has become a fractious, violent 3rd-world landscape of warlords, Mexican drug cartels, PMCs, and Chinese businesses, because they’ve abandoned every function except the left-leaning welfare state, with all the taxes they can manage to collect handed out to poor non-Asian minorities. I think this is too optimistic. As I’ve said here before, while I think the collapse of the Left is inevitable, I think said collapse is pretty much guaranteed to permanently destroy industrial civilization beyond all repair (and has non-trivial odds of people of European ancestry being rendered pretty much extinct by the rest of the world, either during the catastrophe, or in the great conflicts and migrations to follow in its post-apocalyptic wake).

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            [Citation needed]

            The by-county electoral map? The utter mockery they receive on a daily basis while the rest of us red staters go about our daily business? I work my job, my wife raises our adorable children, we go to church on Sundays and the guns in my and my neighbors’ closets mean none of that leftist insanity will ever come to my neighborhood? They’re all sound and fury signifying nothing.

            Except Moldbug’s “Cathedral”: the Federal bureaucracy (a.k.a. “the swamp”), the Mass Media, and Academia. Toss in a lot of the courts. The cultural commanding heights.

            Does anyone respect any of that? The emperor has no clothes. We all know that. The emperor and his subjects haven’t caught on that we’re all just giggling is all.

            And how much power do they really have? If a state bordering Mexico wants a border wall…? How about abortion? Gay marriage? No-fault divorce?

            Border wall is coming. Only those who vote leftist are murdering their kids, marrying dudes. These are all long-term losing strategies.

            But in practice?

            Patience is a virtue. The battle is unfolding before your eyes.

            They seem to have control over the folks who give the orders to the rank-and-file of our law enforcement agencies.

            In few, isolated municipalities. There is a reason all the riots happen in blue counties. Munch your popcorn and watch the lefties burn their own cities. Of course, pray they open their eyes and leave, but they’re really just destroying themselves.

            I agree, I’m just not sanguine, to say the least, about that inevitable fall.

            I’ll snip your other segments and pick up here because it’s the same answer. Prepare, act rightly and wait. Serve truth and you and yours (and ours) will be fine.

            I’m Catholic, so I take a 2,000 year long-term view of these things. We’ve seen way worse. I wish I had the Polandball meme of everyone who opposed the Church and lost. “How many divisions does the Pope have?” Not really a relevant question now, is it Stalin? We always win not because God is with us but because we are with God.

            We align ourselves with Truth, while our enemies align themselves with Power, but in the end Truth always wins. It’s slow and it’s awful and there is much suffering, but this is the only option.

            We’ve already read the end of the book, man. You can go read it yourself. We win.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            The by-county electoral map?

            So what? You seem to be laboring under the delusion that those sort of elections actually matter to any significant degree.

            The utter mockery they receive on a daily basis

            And just where, outside our tiny internet spaces, is this “daily utter mockery” occuring? Because I don’t see it anywhere else. Where is it on TV? In the newspapers?

            I work my job, my wife raises our adorable children, we go to church on Sundays

            For now…

            the guns in my and my neighbors’ closets mean none of that leftist insanity will ever come to my neighborhood

            I’m sorry to disagree, but I really don’t think that when (not if, when) “that leftist insanity” comes to your neighborhood (or your workplace, or your church, or…), that those guns are going to do much to stop it. Sure, you might be able to shoot a few raging Antifa types. So? There’s plenty more where they came from, and in the meantime you’ll be charged for your “right-wing hate crime”, and will probably find yourself having the rest of your life to get intimately aquainted with your large, muscular cellmate.

            Does anyone respect any of that?

            Plenty. I know a lot of people who do so. It looks to me like a majority of urbanites do. And the police do seem to be taking orders from people who respect “all that.”

            Border wall is coming.

            So people keep saying. But how’s getting the funds from the Congress we supposedly control going? I’ll believe it when I see it.

            Only those who vote leftist are murdering their kids, marrying dudes. These are all long-term losing strategies.

            Except they more than make up for the lack of their own children by a combination of importing foreign allies and converting our tribe’s offspring. Memetic propagation over genetic. And I recall reading somewhere that the Imbangala of Africa managed to persist for centuries with high infanticide rates offset by the (child-soldier-style) induction of captured young men from neighboring peoples.

            Patience is a virtue.

            Again, they’ve been slowly winning for 500+ years.

            Munch your popcorn and watch the lefties burn their own cities.

            At which point they move to ours. Recall the “Californication” of Colorado and elsewhere. Or when the Feds decide your neighborhood needs more “diversity” and mandates some Section 8 housing be opened up for some vibrancy?

            I’m Catholic, so I take a 2,000 year long-term view of these things.

            And I’ve never seen any evidence strong enough to shake my belief in metaphysical naturalism (the rejection of any “supernaturalism”, also known historically as “materialism”) and atheism. There is no God for us to be with. There is no “end of the book”, there is no guarantee of victory, and we, the Red Tribe, the West, indeed can be utterly wiped forever from this Earth as a culture (and probably will).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C – What’s the point of life, in your view? What does a good life consist of?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            What’s the point of life, in your view?

            At the base, for most living species, to see that one’s genes are passed on (either by oneself or by kin who also carry them). For humans, this expands to also passing on one’s memes/culture, particularly to the extent those memes are useful at the task of passing on one’s genes, at the levels of individual, family, or (ethnic) tribe.

            What does a good life consist of?

            I can’t really say; is there really such a thing for most human beings? Life’s a b*tch and then you die. Entropy wins. (I think Camus is right about “the one really serious philosophical problem”, but I don’t think anyone’s given a sufficiently solid showing as to the standard answer, which has also served as one of my criticisms of the “Rationalist movement”: what if, when we overcome all the cognitive biases and irrationalities installed by Darwinian evolution, and become truly rational, we discover that in fact, life really isn’t worth living?)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C. – “For humans, this expands to also passing on one’s memes/culture, particularly to the extent those memes are useful at the task of passing on one’s genes, at the levels of individual, family, or (ethnic) tribe.”

            “I can’t really say; is there really such a thing for most human beings?”

            When I was an Atheist, my life mainly consisted of hate and fear. Now that I am a Christian, the hate and fear are pretty much gone, and what little remains seems to be diminishing. I’m not sure I’d say I’m living the Good Life right now, but members of my immediate family definately are, and I’m a lot closer than I was before. I’m not sure that the Christianity is 100% necessary for the change, but letting go of the hate and fear definately was, and Christianity helped with that a very great deal.

            In any case, yes, I think it is definately possible to live a good life. I recommend it. Wisdom that leaves you irretrievably miserable is not wisdom at all.

            “Life’s a b*tch and then you die. Entropy wins.”

            If this is indeed the way things are, why not go full hedonist and/or suicide?

          • Kevin C. says:

            If this is indeed the way things are, why not go full hedonist and/or suicide?

            For the former, two things: because even with my medications, my depression tends to leave me a bit anhedonic; and because I have yet to figure out how to stop caring and attain ZFG. For the latter, because when I previously tried, I failed, and I found the subsequent psychiatric hospitalizations a sufficiently unpleasant enough experience as to deter me from another attempt due to the risk of another failure.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Kevin, please consider this post written with all the love one can give to a stranger.

            I understand you have great disdain for the left. That is, it’s completely obvious to you that the left is wrong, wrong about human nature, wrong about the relationships between people and between man and state and ends in destruction. On this we are in complete agreement.

            However, I also get the impression that while you know what’s wrong with the Blue Tribe, you cannot say what is right in the Red Tribe. Preferable, sure, but not True. This is expressed as lack of belief.

            Do you want to believe? I mean, are you sitting there saying, “I totally wish I could be down with all this Jesus and church and family and community stuff but I just can’t because science?” If you don’t want to believe, or you actively disbelieve, then just stop reading here. There’s no point going on. If you want to believe and just can’t then I think I can help, buy giving you a process to go from “want to believe but don’t” to “believes so easily the thought of not believing is a non-issue.” I think that might appeal to you, given what I know of you from reading your posts for six or eight months now.

            Okay, so if you’re open to believing, try this process.

            1) Admit you want to believe.

            2) Dive in to understanding the metaphors of the Christian faith. I highly, highly, highly recommend watching Jordan Peterson’s videos. His Biblical series is still in progress, and I don’t know if I’d start there just because he’s still working out the kinks in the presentation. Maybe just watch the Maps of Meaning videos. At this point you should understand the wisdom of Christianity as a memeplex of proper ways to live for you now, you in the future, your family, your community, and eventually the world.

            2a) This sounds a lot like Kierkegaard’s Leap of Faith. “This is good, can’t prove it, take a leap of faith and just believe anyway.” This sounds too difficult, like you’re intentionally blinding yourself and just “hoping.” I’d come at it from the other side. So:

            3) The goal here is to be at a point where you understand the necessity and importance of acting as if you believe the stories are literally true, even though you understand them as metaphors. Note I said “acting.” You have to actually act out the rituals in order to achieve the desired results. That is, pray, understanding that even if no one is listening to the prayers you’re getting the benefit of meditating on what you’re grateful for, what you want to improve in your life, etc. Go to church, even if you don’t “believe,” because it’s good to connect to your community, and the way to bring about peace in the world starts with turning to your neighbor in church, putting out your hand and saying “peace be with you.” Fast during Lent because it’s good in this time of plenty to remember what it’s like to not have.

            4) Do this for awhile and see the positive changes in your life. At this point you’re acting as if you’re a Christian even though you don’t really believe it. That is, you’re LARPing.

            5) Stop LARPing and actually believe all the things you already believe because you’re acting every day as if you believe them.

            That’s how I’d go about it. I think if you give this a try you might well cough up that blackpill that’s choking you. Good luck and God bless.

            “Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times.”
            ―Saint Augustine

            P.S. When you decide to convert, pick Catholic because you get to call people heretics and it’s awesome.

          • skef says:

            At this point you should understand the wisdom of Christianity as a memeplex of proper ways to live for you now, you in the future, your family, your community, and eventually the world.

            By the fake-it-till-you-make-it standard, Buddhism has a lot more going for it.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @skef

            By the fake-it-till-you-make-it standard, Buddhism has a lot more going for it.

            How do you expect to preserve western culture and traditions by adopting an eastern religion?

          • skef says:

            How do you expect to preserve western culture and traditions by adopting an eastern religion?

            That’s a different discussion.

            Anyway, you’re using a pitch tuned to attract a depressed nihilist. Whatever else might be said about @Kevin C., he’s not lacking a sense of what is right and what is wrong. More specifically, he doesn’t lack a sense of what’s right in Red Tribe (as you put it), he thinks that Red Tribe has also tilted away from the good (as he’s made clear in past posts).

            So, convenient as it is to throw all the Euthyphro problems out the window, I don’t see that working in this case.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @skef

            Kevin can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure he has “preservation of western civilization” as a terminal value. Therefore pitching him an eastern religion is not at all going to work. Paraphrasing Rep. King, you can’t save western civilization with somebody else’s religion.

          • skef says:

            Right, so pitch him with that if anything, rather than taking a nihilism-based approach. Anyone who doesn’t currently believe but does have a sense of right and wrong is likely to find that dumb and offensive.

            My comment had more to do with the relationship of your argument to Christianity in particular than to it’s application in this instance. I will say that, in general, an atheist who is looking to get back into religion and was exposed to a particular one in their youth will probably have the most luck with that one, even if they never believed. But I’m not certain of @Kevin C’s background in that respect.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @skef

            I will say that, in general, an atheist who is looking to get back into religion and was exposed to a particular one in their youth will probably have the most luck with that one, even if they never believed. But I’m not certain of @Kevin C’s background in that respect.

            Yeah, that doesn’t apply in my case because I’m completely unchurched. The sort of “cultural Christianity” that means gifts and a tree on Christmas, and a big dinner (and dyed eggs as a kid) on Easter is as close to “religious” as it gets. As I’ve frequently put it, I descend from a line of men too antisocial for organized religion.

            (This is also part of why I often cite Xunzi as an example of compatibility of traditionalism and emphasis upon “rites” with a lack of religious belief. And why I also point to the example of religion in Japan.)

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Kevin C – “Then why did the Berkeley police stand by?”

          Budget and/or political influence. But it didn’t stop the right-wingers from kicking Antifa’s asses, running them off, and walking away free and clear afterward.

          “Then why aren’t the anti-KKK mask laws enforced against the masked Antifas?”

          Budget and/or political influence. But Mr. Bikelock is staring down three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and Based Stick Man is still free and clear.

          Your model did not predict those outcomes, which indicates it’s not a very good model.

          “I recall a commenter over at Unz (I think on one of Pat Buchanan’s recent columns) outlining a “Snow Crash”/fall of Rome scenario… …I think this is too optimistic.”

          Okay. So when does the crash arrive? What’s your timeline? At what date, if we’re still muddling along more or less as normal, do you reassess your priors?

          • Kevin C. says:

            Budget and/or political influence.

            I’d say the latter, and that that “political influence” — i.e. the bosses who give the orders being totally on the side of the Antifas — isn’t going away.

            and walking away free and clear afterward.

            For now…

            But Mr. Bikelock is staring down three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon

            Odds he’ll be acquitted? Or conviction overturned on a technicality on appeal after he gets high-priced lawyers brought in via lefty crowdfunding (or deep pockets like Soros, or by lefty lawyers doing it pro-bono)?

            Okay. So when does the crash arrive?

            I figure we’ve got at least a century or more. A century or more of further floods of immigration and a shrinking white demographic. A century or more of further economic pressure and decline for the Red Tribe (with increasing credentialism, and requirements to graduate from Progressive-Orthodoxy-dominated Academia, as just one of the tools). A century or more of them finding ways to spread the “vibrant diversity” into our communities. A century or more for them to follow European countries like Germany and restrict or ban homeschooling. A century or more for them to mess with zoning, housing policies, and the like to make “family formation” increasingly difficult and expensive for us (see Steve Sailer). A century or more to ever-more-broadly redefine “child abuse” so as to remove more and more children from right-wing homes? A century or more for our tribe to continue becoming a smaller fraction of the electorate, so that the Republican Party is forced to move ever Left to “peel off” some faction of the Democrat electorate, as is the usual mechanism under Duverger’s Law (for example, they can keep trying the outreach to consistently-socialist-voting non-Cuban Hispanics, until the future two-party system is between the roughly evenly-matched “take Whitey’s stuff and give it to the Blacks” party and the “take Whitey’s stuff and give it to the Hispanics” party). A century or more of dysgenics pushing us toward Idiocracy. A century or more of them propagandizing and indoctrinating and otherwise spreading their perniciously virulent memetic contageon everywhere with the Mass Media Megaphone and the educational institutions. A century or more of telling the Third World that their poverty and dysfunction are entirely and solely the white man’s fault (so guess where they’re going to look to “get theirs back” in mass numbers when civilization finally collapses under the weight of Leftist insanity and they’ve finally run out of the last dregs of civilizational seed corn — until, like Venezuela, they’ve drained dry every last bit of money needed to maintain the basic energy infrastructure needed to maintain industrial-age civilization — and we no longer have the technological advantage to counter their numbers). A century or more of “secularization”. A century or more to spread their ideas to other countries. A century or more to work to make the Chinese “woke”. A century or more of “flight from white”. A century or more of Pope Benedicts being replaced by Pope Francises. A century or more of more and more lesbian “clergy”. A century or more to overturn Wisconsin v. Yoder and begin pushing back against the Amish. A century or more of improving surveillance technologies, until we’re all potential Donald Sterlings. A century or more of people being rendered unemployed — or unemployable — by witchhunting Twitter and Tumblr mobs. A century or more for military technology advancements to make our civilian arms even less relevant to effective warfare. A century or more of “if you object to making gay wedding cakes, don’t run a bakery for a living” expanding to more and more job fields. A century or more of “your religion ends at the church door”; you can say whatever you want about the morality of X inside your church, but in “public society” you better act in total accordance with “nondiscrimination” rules, or else. A century or more to improve fMRI brain reading to sniff out “unconscious” or “covert bigots” for some necessary “sensitivity training”. A century or more of “more women in the military”, women in combat roles, more LGBT in the military, and more and more people in the military command hierarchy who owe their presence and rank to left-wing politics and thus whose loyalty to the left-wing power structure can be relied upon if or when things go “hot”. A century or more of Cthulhu swimming left, a century more of the eldrich horror that is “Universal culture” going all “om nom nom” on the entire planet.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Kevin C. – “I’d say the latter, and that that “political influence” — i.e. the bosses who give the orders being totally on the side of the Antifas — isn’t going away.”

            I think you’re underestimating the budget angle. And again, if they’d wanted to arrest the right-wingers, they had every opportunity.

            “For now…”

            When do you predict this will change?

            “Odds he’ll be acquitted?”

            Poor, I should think. They’ve got him dead to rights.

            “I figure we’ve got at least a century or more.”

            Scott seems pretty sure CelestAI eats us about that point. I’d be sort of amazed if we don’t have a serious pandemic by then. Isn’t the Yellowstone supercaldera overdue as well? Any threat a century out is no threat at all.

            You list too much to address point by point, and at too long a timescale for either of us to see anyway. I counter by predicting how I think the next ten years are going to go: Social Justice breaks and recedes, systems our society is built on are rendered obsolescent and replaced, and the world looks different and better than anyone expected.

            Do you think universities are even going to exist twenty years from now? Without them, how much of these problems just go away? Do you think American Blacks are going to be happy living in squalor for another fifty years? Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            When do you predict this will change?

            Most likely, the next time there’s a Democrat in the White House.

            Edit: In fact, that’s my answer whenever anyone points to a supposed Trump “victory”: what makes you think the next Democrat President won’t undo them all (and push further left besides). Suppose Trump somehow, miraculously manages to get the wall completed. What then prevents the next president from simply withdrawing all guards, maintenance, funding, etc. and standing by as the Mexicans tear holes through it? Nobody has provided my convincing evidence that these victories are lasting, rather than temporary blips in the overall Leftward movement of the past half-millennium.

            Poor, I should think. They’ve got him dead to rights.

            Doesn’t it depend on the twelve dimwits in the jury box and what the mass media has crammed into their skulls? The prosecution can put on the best possible case, and the jury can still acquit if they agree that Professor Clanton was perfectly justified in swinging that bike lock at one of those evil, murderous fascists their TV is always warning them about. Not to mention there’s plenty a lefty judge can do to “put his finger on the scales”, yes? And while a conviction can be appealed, an acquital cannot (no matter how blatant the misdeeds of the judge).

            I counter by predicting how I think the next ten years are going to go: Social Justice breaks and recedes

            Social Justice gets larger and stronger.

            systems our society is built on are rendered obsolescent and replaced

            Systems our society is built on decay, with no one who is both able and willing to repair or replace them.

            the world looks different and better than anyone expected

            The world looks worse for at least straight white men (and probably marriage-and-motherhood-inclined straight white women), with the limited exception of tech-toy distractions and VR pacification.

            Do you think universities are even going to exist twenty years from now?

            Barring the Endwar kicking off in that time period, yes. HYP and the Ivies have too much history, institutional capital, reputation, and inertia to simply go away that soon. In fact, I predict the number of jobs that require degrees — and not any sort of test or other “unaccredited” substitute (it’s the diploma, not the learning, that matters) — to go up.

            Without them, how much of these problems just go away?

            At least a few, which is why I’ve expressed favor toward a “dissolution of the monasteries“-style forced dissolution, dispossession, and appropriation to remove them. I just don’t think such a thing can be achieved.

            Do you think American Blacks are going to be happy living in squalor for another fifty years?

            Of course not. But with all “respectable” voices affirming that that “squalor” is solely the fault of white people’s Evil Eye “systemic racism”, and anyone who says otherwise is a horrible, Charles Murray-level racist who deserves to die, they’ll express that unhappiness by trying to “take back” what Whitey “stole” from them. By demands for reparations, by demands for further ethnic set-asides, by pushing expansion of the welfare state, by shooting “race soldier” cops, by theft, by increased “polar bear hunting”, or whatever other means, licit or illicit, they decide to pay back “the racists keeping them down”.

            Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.

            But they can last quite long, and do a lot of permanent damage both as they go on and when they end. “Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” “There’s a lot of ruin in a nation.”

            And even if we do last the next ten to twenty years, that still doesn’t mean the Red Tribe won’t subsequently, through a mix of assimilation/absorption/conversion and deaths both natural and not, be destroyed as a culture by the Blues.

          • Matt M says:

            Odds he’ll be acquitted? Or conviction overturned on a technicality on appeal after he gets high-priced lawyers brought in via lefty crowdfunding (or deep pockets like Soros, or by lefty lawyers doing it pro-bono)?

            Next to zero. Although I don’t think it means much in the long term. I think this guy is unfortunate and he’s going to be the symbolic figure of “see, the police are fair and really do crack down on both sides equally” even if they only arrest 1 leftist for every 99 rightists they round up in these rallies.

            Bike lock dude needs to have the book thrown at him so they can plausibly claim neutrality.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Kevin C. – “Most likely, the next time there’s a Democrat in the White House.”

            If we get another democrat, they serve their term, and then we get another republican, and things at that point are no worse than they are now or even have improved some, would you reconsider your priors?

            “Social Justice gets larger and stronger…”

            If, at the end of the ten years, social justice is weaker, society is stronger, and things look better for white males and reproductively-inclined females, will you reconsider your priors?

            “Barring the Endwar kicking off in that time period, yes.”

            See, that boggles me. The higher education system is so obviously a massive, wasteful scam that I can’t imagine it lasting another two decades. I mean, I imagine Harvard will exist indefinitely, but the university system as a whole can’t possibly survive what the internet is and does that long. The alternatives are too ripe.

            “Of course not. But with all “respectable” voices affirming that that “squalor” is solely the fault of white people’s Evil Eye “systemic racism”…”

            We are watching this consensus break down right now, which is one of the big reasons I don’t see Social Justice as having much in the way of legs. Look at the pushback and the edits to that Vox article on Murray in the links thread.

            “By demands for reparations, by demands for further ethnic set-asides, by pushing expansion of the welfare state, by shooting “race soldier” cops, by theft, by increased “polar bear hunting”, or whatever other means, licit or illicit, they decide to pay back “the racists keeping them down”.”

            My hope would be that once “institutional racism” stops being the sole acceptable explanation for every problem at every level of society, that might free us up to find actual solutions to the immiseration of Black America. Didn’t France do a fair job of integrating blacks into their society without making them a wretched underclass back in the day?

            “And even if we do last the next ten to twenty years, that still doesn’t mean the Red Tribe won’t subsequently, through a mix of assimilation/absorption/conversion and deaths both natural and not, be destroyed as a culture by the Blues.”

            Nothing lasts forever, under your preferred materialist framework. You, as you are now, are already antithetical to the Red Tribe of a hundred years ago, whose propagation this whole discussion is about. Is that not so? If being as you are is good, than how can a further-drifted Red Triber of a hundred years hence be bad?

            What is it we’re actually looking to preserve here, is my question?

        • Matt M says:

          They have nothing to offer voters

          How about “the last guy kinda sucked and it’s our turn now.” (aka, occam’s razor for why Trump won)

          No party has won more than three consecutive Presidential elections since the 1940s.

          The masses are ignorant and impatient and every President promises utopia. Then they fail to deliver utopia, so the other side gets a turn.

          I see no particular reason to think this cannot continue indefinitely…

          • bintchaos says:

            I see no particular reason to think this cannot continue indefinitely…


            You had better hope it does…because you just described America as a periodic equilibrium and large non-equilibrium systems are vulnerable to collapse.
            If I am correct in my predictions that the demographic timer and educational attainment will eventually deliver a permanent liberal majority what happens next?
            Civil war? A putsch?

          • CatCube says:

            I don’t see any reason to believe that you’re any more correct than the people predicting a permanent conservative majority roundabout 2004, due to the new import of national security in the aftermath of 9/11. Then in 2012, Obama was supposed to usher in the dawning of the permanent liberal era. Now the Republicans hold all three branches of government.

            Nobody engages your hypotheses on this because you’re not saying anything novel. Every comment you’ve made on this issue has been said better by smarter people a long time ago. The arrogant claim that the left has a near-monopoly on all the smarties is something I first heard around 15 years ago, and it wasn’t any less stupid then. That you apparently think you’re the first to try to convey this to us benighted righties is one of the reasons that Deiseach mocks you.

            You’ve not said anything to convince me that the left’s stranglehold on higher education is due to some sort of inherent capability gap, as opposed to competing explanations. One such is that the administration drifted to the left beginning in the 60s and actively maintains this stranglehold via hostile environment, rather like how the lack of Jews in white-shoe law firms in the middle of last century wasn’t due to the lack of Jews more than capable of doing the work.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @bintchaos – “If I am correct in my predictions that the demographic timer and educational attainment will eventually deliver a permanent liberal majority what happens next?”

            Either the liberal majority ushers in the Golden Age, or sooner or later (probably sooner) they split over various issues and we’re back to two parties again. If they’re reasonably congruent with reality, things probably go okay. If they’re not, things fall apart and we have a crisis.

            Life goes on, in any case.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            If I am correct in my predictions that the demographic timer and educational attainment will eventually deliver a permanent liberal majority what happens next?

            The seas turn to lemonade, and the friendly anti-lions and anti-tigers evolve.

          • Matt M says:

            Can we please just stop feeding the obvious troll?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @FacelessCraven

            Either the liberal majority ushers in the Golden Age, or sooner or later (probably sooner) they split over various issues and we’re back to two parties again.

            But there’s nothing that says that “split” back into two parties means that one party will be anything as right-wing as present Repubs, does it? For example, they could split on, say, Black vs. Hispanic, with both sides agreeing on “screw those straight white males”. Or any other splits on the coalition of the fringes that still leave the Red Tribe minority without any but the most token of offerings from one side (even worse than what gets alt-Righties to compare current “establisment Republicans” to victims of nest parasitism).

            If they’re not, things fall apart and we have a crisis.

            And how big can the crisis get? Civilization-ending? Mass deployment of engineered bioweapons bad? Greater than 90% global fatality rates, with concentration in the “developed” nations?

            Life goes on, in any case.

            Until the day it doesn’t. Extinction does happen (in fact, it’s the long-run historical norm), and extinction is forever.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Kevin C. – “But there’s nothing that says that “split” back into two parties means that one party will be anything as right-wing as present Repubs, does it? ”

            Nope, nothing that says that. If right-wing ideas aren’t obviously useful, people won’t adopt them and they’ll die out. Same for left wing ideas, come to think of it.

            I was listening to a Jordan Peterson Lecture earlier tonight about the Bible. Peterson is, near as I can tell, a liberal and an atheist, but he sounds nothing like the atheists from the early 2000s. I would say he sees value in some right-wing ideas. So do others, I think.

            “And how big can the crisis get?”

            Probably not a very big one. I doubt as bad as Rome Falling. And if I’m wrong, well, the Chinese will be happy to pick up the slack, I’m sure.

            “Until the day it doesn’t. Extinction does happen (in fact, it’s the long-run historical norm), and extinction is forever.”

            Christianity makes this much less of a worry.

          • Kevin C. says:

            If right-wing ideas aren’t obviously useful, people won’t adopt them and they’ll die out.

            The problem is if right-wing ideas are more workable long-term, but not “obviously useful” in the short term when compared to the “pretty lies” of the left. What if right-wing ideas die out from losing the memetic competition with persuasive left-wing ideas, but then those left-wing ideas prove ultimately incompatible with reality and utterly disastrous for their host populations? What if Leftism is the cognitive equivalent of heroin, attractive but bad for you? (Scott did at least acknowledge this possibility, yes?) Or the memetic equivalent of a virulent pathogen; highly contageous across populations but ultimately bad for the long term survival (and reproduction) of the host population, ready to do to much of humanity — particularly the West — what smallpox and the like did to the Native Americans? A set of ideas’s fitness in the memetic competition for mindshare, the “marketplace of ideas”, does not necessarily correspond to how well it accords with reality and the Darwinian fitness of those who hold it.

            I would say he sees value in some right-wing ideas. So do others, I think.

            Well, I’d only heard of Peterson in the context of the left’s attacks on him. How’s his position, reputation, and influence in academia, particularly relative to those denouncing him. I’m an atheist “who sounds nothing like the atheists from the early 2000s” and “sees value in some right-wing ideas”. How much power and influence do these (few) people really have, relative to the opposition?

            And if I’m wrong, well, the Chinese will be happy to pick up the slack, I’m sure.

            First, what if the baizuo do manage to win over the Chinese elites, like they’ve been trying? Second, so what? The Chinese aren’t my people. Would you tell a dwindling Native American tribe “don’t worry, white folks will ‘pick up the slack'”? That strangers will inherit an Earth devoid of us and our ways isn’t really any sort of comfort at all.

            Christianity makes this much less of a worry.

            Not a Christian, and I find the evidence insufficient to convince me otherwise.

          • Deiseach says:

            If I am correct in my predictions that the demographic timer and educational attainment will eventually deliver a permanent liberal majority

            You mean the same demographic timer that was for sure going to give us President Hillary this last election? And all the college-educated young voters, especially young women, that would turn out to sweep her to victory?

            Yes, they turned out in droves – in California, where the excess votes did her no good at all since she won the state and the surplus didn’t transfer elsewhere, so every vote over the ones needed to win was in effect a wasted vote.

            Part of why her campaign was poorly run; the taking for granted of the black vote and the assumption that they’d turn out for an elderly rich white woman seeking to be the first woman president in the same numbers that they turned out for the younger black man seeking to be the first black president. We saw an awful lot of talk about the demographic advantage in the run-up to the election.

            If you’re willing to wait for your fairy godmother to come along with all those millions of new votes to win elections for your side, you are going to need them in states that are not already solid blue. What are the signs of that? Or is it going to be “another three million new Democrat voters in California, thanks guys but we could really use you in Nevada instead”?

            If we go by the Pew Report on data from 2014, the share of immigrant population is holding steady. The states that are most popular still have the highest percentage of immigrants:

            In 2014, 59% of unauthorized immigrants lived in the same six states that have housed the majority of unauthorized immigrants for decades. California, with 2.3 million, has by far the largest number, followed by Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. The unauthorized immigrant population had become much more dispersed around the country as numbers increased in nontraditional settlement areas. In 1990, 80% of unauthorized immigrants lived in the top six states; by 2005, the share had fallen to roughly the current level, 61%.

            Okay, so let’s compare those states by the vote in the presidential election.

            California – went for Hillary. Increase in immigrant population would not make a difference here, unless you lot scrap the electoral college and go solely for a “first past the post” popular vote.
            Texas – went for Trump, despite being second on the list of “most immigrants”. Maybe a change in demographics will make a change here, but I imagine this is one for the long haul.
            Florida – Actually flipped this time, to Trump/the Republicans from Hilary/the Democrats. No demographic timer advantage there this time out!
            New York – solidly for Hillary and again, as with California, more immigrants is not going to make a change here.
            New Jersey – same as New York.
            Illinois – and the same as NY and NJ.

            So demographics will only have an effect if the dispersal effect (as noted in the Pew Report – “The unauthorized immigrant population had become much more dispersed around the country as numbers increased in nontraditional settlement areas” – continues, but that includes the necessity that this dispersal is not clustered in the large urban centres, but is scattered throughout the counties of various states, turning them from red to blue. A strongly red city can be diluted to blue by changing demographics, but unless the numbers stack up that the urban population outnumbers the rest of the state, that is not going to do much good.

            So it’s more complicated than “simply wait for more immigrants/more immigrant babies and the culture will change”.

          • bintchaos says:

            You mean the same demographic timer that was for sure going to give us President Hillary this last election?


            No, its not the same demographic timer.
            Its the educational attainment and demographic shift timer.
            Last election was Brexit redux even though everyone from Gelman to Wang said it wasn’t. Close election masked by shy Trumpers and polling lag.
            Currently 70% of USians have no college, but increasingly citizens are going to need education and training for the new job market.
            I think the next migration will be the colonization of the heartland by white-collar tele-commuters looking for cheaper housing and better lifestyles for their kids. They will still vote liberal.

          • Its the educational attainment and demographic shift timer.

            There are (at least) two different theories on the relation between education and voting. One, which I suspect Bintchaos holds, is that left wing views are more nearly correct than right wing views, so when people get more educated they move left. Think of it as a version of the Whig theory of history–change as progress.

            I find it hard to be persuaded by that view. I’ve spent my entire life in the academic world. The dominance of left wing views among students isn’t due to the students being smart and educated, it’s due to their, like other people, being conformists.

            The evidence is that if you talk with them–which I did lots of when I was a college student, some of when my kids were looking at colleges, and my kids did more of in college–most are strikingly ignorant of the facts and arguments relevant to their political beliefs. That was true when I was a Harvard undergraduate in the early sixties, and it’s still true.

            If we shift from students to professors, the pattern is much more complicated than a simple shift left. If I look at my field, economics, it’s been the other way around, at least if we think of right as support for free markets, laissez-faire, and similar ideas. As of c. 1960, it was generally taken for granted that the way for poor countries to get rich was central planning, five year plans and the like. For edition after edition Samuelson’s text claimed the Soviet Union was rapidly catching up with the U.S. India was supposed to be the example of doing it right, supported by U.S. foreign aid.

            Eventually people noticed that India was staying poor, Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore getting rich. The Soviet Union collapsed, decent economic data became available, and it turned out that the economist who had been criticized for his low estimates of Soviet economic performance had actually been overestimating it.

            As of 1960, everyone outside of Chicago took it for granted that the Phillips Curve represented a real trade off, that a government could keep unemployment low if it was willing to tolerate a significant but constant level of inflation. The experiment was tried. There must be some serious economist somewhere who still believes it, but I don’t think I have met him.

            Or consider another field. The idea that intelligence was in large part heritable went from right wing heresy–consider the treatment of Cyril Burt after he was safely dead–to orthodoxy. See the recent discussion here of Vox vs Murray.

            It almost feels as though the pattern is for left wing orthodoxies to run into their inconsistency with the real world, get gradually abandoned among serious people in the field while holding on among the true believers, and be replaced by new orthodoxies–hopefully, but not necessarily, better ones. Socialism is dead, long live environmentalism.

            The world isn’t moving left. It isn’t moving right. The intellectual world is moving in all directions at once, as usual.

            As a final and perhaps pessimistic note, consider Dan Kahan’s evidence that the more intellectually able someone is the more likely he is to agree with his group’s position on issues linked to group identification, whether that means believing in evolution or not believing in it.

          • bintchaos says:

            @catcube

            you’re not saying anything novel. Every comment you’ve made on this issue has been said better by smarter people a long time ago.


            Citation needed.
            I am unaware of anyone previously applying complexity science and EGT to explain the current toxic polarization of this country.
            But I would be grateful for any links.

            @Davidfriedman

            One, which I suspect Bintchaos holds, is that left wing views are more nearly correct than right wing views


            I just love when people explain to me what my views are…not!
            I just think left wing views are more successful in the 21st century environment. A superior fitness landscape for BlueTribe traits if you will.
            Are conservatives just incapable of seeing the Internet has changed every thing?
            We are all on depêche mode now.

          • @Davidfriedman

            One, which I suspect Bintchaos holds, is that left wing views are more nearly correct than right wing views

            I just love when people explain to me what my views are…not!

            Might happen less if you made an effort to make your views clearer.

            I just think left wing views are more successful in the 21st century environment. A superior fitness landscape for BlueTribe traits if you will.

            You snipped the quote from you that I started with:

            Its the educational attainment and demographic shift timer.

            The question is why you expect that increasing educational attainment would result in gains for blue tribe views. If my conjecture about your views was mistaken, what is your reason?

          • Deiseach says:

            I think the next migration will be the colonization of the heartland by white-collar tele-commuters looking for cheaper housing and better lifestyles for their kids

            There was a discussion about precisely this (I think perhaps over on Ozy’s blog?) as to why the techies were not heading out for cheaper housing in other states instead of trying to get together to rent one room in a house with six other people in the Bay Area, and the consensus seems to be that it’s a combination of (a) the companies that they want to work for/will pay them the high wages are all located in Silicon Valley or thereabouts and for various reasons, new tech start-ups are not going to get off the ground in Arkansas or wherever, they too go where the venture capital money and networking within the industry is, which is currently Silicon Valley (b) the white-collar programmers and suchlike aren’t having kids right now (if ever) and prefer to live in the large urban areas because of all the cool fun things to do and places to go.

            So while tele-commuting is technically possible and indeed could be going on right now, it’s not really going to happen. The white-collar liberals are not having kids in such numbers or at the stage in their careers that giving up $$$$$$ salaries to move to Outer Podunk for a cheap, large house is attractive to them; we’ll probably see more of this instead. (I have to admit, looking at the picture of pre-fabs, I am tickled by the notion of white-collar college-degree trailer parks. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!)

            So the dream of the white-collar colonisation is still just that. Personally, I think it would be fantastic if the high-value companies set up branches in the industrial wastelands to encourage economic development and job growth; there are people with college degrees who would like to get a job somewhere nearer to home than having to move all the way out to the coast, but for various reasons this is not going to happen or is not happening now.

          • Nornagest says:

            The white-collar liberals are not having kids in such numbers or at the stage in their careers that giving up $$$$$$ salaries to move to Outer Podunk for a cheap, large house is attractive to them; we’ll probably see more [corporate-sponsored prefab housing] instead.

            Although housing has gotten less affordable over the last few years, white-collar workers in most of the country don’t need to move to Outer Podunk for a (semi-)affordable house. You do in the Bay Area, and a few other markets like New York’s inner boroughs, but these aren’t really representative of the American urban landscape; New York is huge and hellaciously dense compared to any other American city, and the Bay (California in general, but especially the Bay) has got structural problems that amplify normal urban NIMBYism to unsustainable levels. You’re not gonna see Google or any company like it building glorified capsule hotels for its workers in Portland or Dallas or Philly; there’s no reason for it to.

            Cold comfort to Bay Area tech workers, but there’s only a few hundred thousand of them vs. something like a hundred million self-identifying American liberals.

          • bintchaos says:

            @DavidFriedman

            The question is why you expect that increasing educational attainment would result in gains for blue tribe views.


            Data.
            Post election data to be precise.
            Education Not Income…
            Manufacturing Can’t Explain Trump’s Win

          • Nornagest says:

            You can’t draw a graph from one data point.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Deiseach & @Nornagast
            1. early times
            2. Tesla

          • Nornagest says:

            Tesla

            I take it you’re alluding to the so-called Gigafactory currently being built out by Reno? It’s certainly a more affordable area than around Tesla’s existing factory in Fremont, and I’ve got friends in Reno who’re enthusiastic about the jobs it represents (with good reason; Reno’s a depressed, and depressing, area), but I’m not sure it’s going to be much of a white-collar operation. Already, Tesla does most of its R&D in Palo Alto, not Fremont, and that’s unlikely to change in the near future.

          • Post election data to be precise.

            That tells us that education correlated with voting pattern in one election. You are offering a prediction for the rest of the century.

            And it wasn’t even a conservative vs liberal election. Trump isn’t a conservative, he’s a demagogue with no clear political views of his own, and his campaign was pretty deliberately targeting non-college demographics, especially blue collar workers. Ideological conservatives mostly opposed him, at least until it was clear he was going to get the nomination, and in some cases after.

          • pontifex says:

            If I am correct in my predictions that the demographic timer and educational attainment will eventually deliver a permanent liberal majority what happens next? Civil war? A putsch?

            I live in California and I interact with some of the immigrant groups that (some) Democrat strategists think will give them a “permanent majority.” The thing is, these immigrant groups are actually very conservative in many ways! For example, when California voted on Proposition 8 (banning gay marriage), it happened to be the same day as Obama was on the ballot. This led to a higher than usual black turnout. And since blacks are socially conservative, they voted for the ban on gay marriage.

            You could tell a similar story for Mexicans, Vietnamese, Arabs, etc. Socially conservative, fiscally indifferent, trying to make ends meet for themselves and their families. Emphasis on the families part here.

            It’s worth keeping in mind how different the political landscape was in the past. Around the 1900s mainstream opinion was in favor of eugenics and antisemitism– yes, even in the US. In the 1930s it seemed obvious that democracy was crumbling and fascism and collectivism were the way forward. In the 1960s it seemed obvious that the USSR was outproducing the US and they were going to bury us. Now it seems obvious that progressivism and identity politics are where it’s at. But political orthodoxies have a way of crumbling.

            Frankly, bintchaos, you’ve already pointed out some of the cracks in the current US-led world order. You should understand that it won’t last forever.

          • @David

            conformity

            How fortunate that your own libertarianism can’t even glibly discussed as the family religion!

            @bintchaos

            I just think left wing views are more successful in the 21st century environment. A superior fitness landscape for BlueTribe traits

            That is line with our host’s theory.

            http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/04/a-thrivesurvive-theory-of-the-political-spectrum/

          • bintchaos says:

            @AncientGreek
            yes, I agree with that…but my interest is more focused on whether there are phenotypic and neurotypic differences between RedTribe and BlueTribe.
            We already know there are large ideological differences and the gap seems to be widening.

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          The Left offers redistribution of wealth and various national projects like the NSF. Pretty straightforward really. The right does not appear to know what it wants, which probably explains why right-wingers feel powerless despite a great deal of political power.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          @Conrad Honcho:

          …federally Republicans, led by Trump, control all three branches of government.

          You can put me on top on an elephant.

          You can even give me the reins to the elephant.

          That’s still a very different situation from me controlling the elephant.

          This goes back at least to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger trying to control the State Department, and is one of the main reasons the continued rampant growth of the Executive Branch worries me.

          (Other reasons include that fact that it’s growing its own other two branches inside it: legislative in the form of regulation creation, and judiciary in the form of administrative law judges.)

          • beleester says:

            That just raises another question, though: What makes the left any better at elephant-wrangling than the right? The same forces that make it hard for the right to shift the direction of the bureaucracy make it hard for the left as well.

            (Trump has been uniquely bad at controlling the elephant, since he didn’t have a good transition plan in place and didn’t realize how many positions he needed to fill, but one administration does not a doomsday prophecy make.)

            I haven’t heard the executive described as having copies of the other branches inside it before. Interesting view, and worrying.

          • Nornagest says:

            What makes the left any better at elephant-wrangling than the right?

            The libertarian point of view is that the left is pro-elephant: either that the left overtly or covertly treats the expansion of state power as a good in itself, or that it’s sufficiently instrumentally useful as a vector of redistribution or social justice or whatever that they usually don’t mind.

            I don’t find the first version satisfying: the left doesn’t much like expanding the police or military, for example, both of which are about as instrumental to state power as anything you could hope for. But the second might be gesturing in the right direction. In the US in particular, it’s worth mentioning that public-servant unions (e.g. teachers’ unions) are a core Democratic constituency, the incentives following from which are obvious.

        • shakeddown says:

          The right is dying, long-term. If you look at the under forties vote, Democrats won over 400 electors last election (including states like Texas).
          Republicans rely on baby boomers. Bigger picture, people generally decide on party affiliation by which president is popular when they’re twenty. The right had an advantage with baby boomers thanks to Nixon Carter Reagan (two popular Republicans and an unpopular Democrat). Millennials have had Clinton bush Obama Trump, all of who push young people left.

          But more importantly, they’re ideologically bankrupt. Republicans have become the party of Fox news and librul tears. That’s not a winning strategy, long term. It’s something for people in dying small towns and meth addicts to hold on to as they look for someone to blame.and they’ll die out soon enough.

          • Nornagest says:

            I will say what I say every time this question comes up, which is that the historical track record of this sort of triumphalism is very, very poor. I could elaborate, but I don’t feel like it.

          • shakeddown says:

            Yeah, it probably is, in the sense that the Republican party will almost certainly not go down, long term.
            What could happen is an internal fracture leading to a massive reform – maybe they start focusing on negative effects of SJWs and feminism (and reasonable economic conservatism) instead of conspiracy theories and science denial.

            ..or maybe they just double down on the worst parts of the party and get the next generation to back it somehow. Let’s not be too optimistic.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Or the Republicans die and the Democrats split. It’s not as though there haven’t been party switchups before.

          • Nornagest says:

            Or the Republicans die and the Democrats split. It’s not as though there haven’t been party switchups before.

            Could happen. I do think we’re in the early stages of some kind of realignment, although I don’t know if it’ll end with a Democratic and Republican Party (with somewhat different constituencies) or not. My bet would be for yes, but that is a bet and not a certainty.

            Major parties in the US don’t die often, and the last time it happened was in the leadup to the Civil War. As nasty as current politics are, I don’t think there’s anything quite as divisive as slavery on the table. Least, I hope so.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Does it have to be that a terrible crisis reshuffles the parties? The “Republicans are dying out” argument is largely a demographic one; people who would vote Republican are becoming fewer in number, people who wouldn’t, more.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        Kevin C – “Basically, why isn’t the Right willing to even try to fight the Left with their own tactics? Why aren’t we matching “punching Nazis” with “punching Stalinists” or such?”

        Because they’re losing tactics. Recall your previous predictions. There hasn’t been a significant Antifa-style brawl in what, two months? Right-wingers did in fact fight back, and what’s more they won the last major scuffle, and they were not punished for it by the police. Mr. Bikelock was actually charged with serious crimes. Both of those results were directly counter to your predictions, If I remember correctly.

        You predicted things would continue heating up. They haven’t; we’ve had pretty much complete calm for several weeks in a row. Now we have a shooter that didn’t even manage to kill anyone, and succeeded only in making the left look worse than they already do. This is not the dam breaking, it’s just another crazy guy shooting people more or less on schedule.

        You’ve waffled on predicting that Trump and his family would be murdered by their political enemies. That hasn’t happened either. I’m 95% confident he’s going to serve out his term in peace.

        If you’re convinced things are accelerating, well, make some predictions. What do the next few weeks or months look like?

        • Kevin C. says:

          There hasn’t been a significant Antifa-style brawl in what, two months?

          How significant is “significant”? Does the masked Antifa attack on Patriot Prayer’s pro-free speech demonstration last Thursday night at Evergreen State count? Wherein Patriot Prayer’s leader Joey Gibson was maced by one of the Antifas? And I suppose two people in a truck shooting at another vehicle that had a MAGA flag in Indiana doesn’t exactly count as a “brawl”.

          Right-wingers did in fact fight back, and what’s more they won the last major scuffle, and they were not punished for it by the police.

          For now. But how about under the next Democrat president, for example?

          Mr. Bikelock was actually charged with serious crimes.

          Charged, but not yet convicted. And even if they manage to convict, and it survives appeal, despite the likely flood of financing for legal support to come from the Lefty fundraising machines, I have no doubt he can look forward to a cushy post-incarceration career like plenty of other left-wing heroes who’ve served time.

          They haven’t; we’ve had pretty much complete calm for several weeks in a row.

          Weeks is way too short a scale.

          Now we have a shooter that didn’t even manage to kill anyone

          This one didn’t. What about the next one, and the next one, and the next one?

          and succeeded only in making the left look worse than they already do.

          Really, because I’m not seeing this. I’m seeing some media lefties hard at work explaining how this is actually all the right’s fault. And others, like Vox, Media Matters, and Salon, explaining how Republicans are a bunch of unfair, massively hypocritical whiny conspiracy nuts who are “blaming everyone from Shakespeare to Snoop Dog” and soley responsible for “politicizing this event”, for blaming this on left-wing rhetoric in the same manner the left blamed right-wing speech for various past incidents; and how they’ve just now discovered that this sort of blame game is an invalid and counterproductive tactic that the right needs to stop, just stop, right this instance, and which discovery will be completely forgotten the next time they find it convenient to blame the right for a lone nut’s rampage. And some are outright defending Hodgkinson and his actions, like Washington Post columnist and New Republic contributor Malcolm Harris (who has a book with Little, Brown of New York forthcoming in November), who argued that if Hodgkinson had any sort of serious health issue, his shooting of Scalise is “self defense”, to keep one’s fingers crossed hoping for “David Duke without the baggage” Scalise to die in the hospital, and that applying “respect for human life” to the GOP is “just bad math.” Or Huffington Post writer Jesse Benn saying the problem with Hodgkinson’s violence was that it was an individual act, and anti-right-wing violence should be an organized group endeavor, and further, asking “What’s more harmful: Putting millions already on the margins more at-risk via draconian policies, or shooting a racist lawmaker in the hip?” Or DailyKos and Vox Media founder Markos Moulitsas saying that this is Republicans “getting what they want”. Or Newsweek making a specific point of noting that Rep. Scalise “was an early endorser of President Donald Trump.” Or “film producer and media personality and philanthropist” Tariq Nasheed essentially implying that Scalise deserved it. Or Louisiana prosecutor Sonia Gupta telling people to hold their prayers because Scalise is “a racist piece of shit and hateful bigot.” Or, on the vast “this is about guns” front, you have Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe (D) claiming on camera, with a straight face and in all apparent seriousness, that gun violence claimes “93 million Americans a day”. I’m seeing “well that KKK fucker deserved it”, “it should have been Trump”, “It’s a shame more Republicans weren’t shot”, “i don’t feel bad for people that think i should die”, “Republicans created this hate-filled rhetoric” and that it’s “karma” for Scalise’s “teabagging beliefs”. And there’s Laura Ingraham getting a tweet from a lefty saying “Too bad you don’t play baseball.” Or Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) getting an email with subject line “one down, 216 to go”, and a body that reads:

          Did you NOT expect this? When you take away ordinary peoples very lives in order to pay off the wealthiest among us, your own lives are forfeit. Certainly, your souls and morality were lost long before. Good riddance.

          Or you can look at how the Florida’s Democratic Party’s going ahead with their large “Leadership Blue” fundraising dinner on Saturday that will include a panel called “The Resistance Panel” and moderated by Black Lives Matter co-founder DeRay McKesson.

          They might be “looking worse” in our tiny, narrow islands in the vast sea of liberals actively cheering violence against Republicans, but not much beyond that.

          You’ve waffled on predicting that Trump and his family would be murdered by their political enemies.

          First, that wasn’t my prediction, it was one from the Dreaded Jim, which I actually found a bit extreme and improbable. And even then, it was that the Trumps would be “Romanoved” after he leaves office (and thus, out of self-preservation and care for his kin, he would avoid this possibility by engaging in a Caesarist autocoup).

          What do the next few weeks or months look like?

          The scale of weeks and months is too volatile. After all, the Right does make small, temporary gains and win limited, temporary gains. But in the long run, they always prove temporary; on the scale of decades and centuries, only left-wing victories have proven lasting. (I’m not saying all left-wing victories prove to be enduring, just that some do, and that none on the right do so.)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            “How significant is “significant”? Does the masked Antifa attack on Patriot Prayer’s pro-free speech demonstration last Thursday night at Evergreen State count?”

            Was it on the scale of the Berkeley Riots?

            Both groups were anticipating the arrival of an off-campus group called Patriot Prayer at 5:30 p.m. When 5:30 p.m. arrived, there was no sign of the Patriot group, but the gathering had grown to about 120, with some wearing masks.

            Patriot Prayer — which announced earlier this week that they planned to have an event called “March Against Evergreen State College” then later renamed the event “Free Speech Evergreen State College” — finally arrived about 6:30 p.m. Troopers stood between the two groups for more than an hour, as various members shouted and tried to provoke each other. The counter-protesters sprayed Silly String and threw some pine cones.

            However, just the one arrest was made before the event broke up about 8 p.m. A mask-wearing 25-year-old man was arrested for disorderly conduct.

            Sounds like a no.

            “For now. But how about under the next Democrat president, for example?”

            Obama was not the apocalypse. He wasn’t great, but he was definately an improvement over Bush.

            “…I have no doubt he can look forward to a cushy post-incarceration career like plenty of other left-wing heroes who’ve served time.”

            Maybe, and that’s certainly to their shame.

            “Weeks is way too short a scale.”

            I disagree. Weeks and months is a good timescale, because it gives you a short enough feedback loop that you can run a significant number of tests, enough to establish a pattern. If your theory requires century timescales, it is immune to refutation.

            “Really, because I’m not seeing this. I’m seeing some media lefties hard at work explaining how this is actually all the right’s fault.”

            You have a point here, and it seems to me that this point should be pressed.

            “They might be “looking worse” in our tiny, narrow islands in the vast sea of liberals actively cheering violence against Republicans, but not much beyond that.”

            I do not think the mainstream is actually interested in cheering violence. They have too much to lose. The base may be, and that is worth pointing out, but that is not terribly surprising. Our base advocates for violence a fair bit as well. Second Amendment Solutions and such.

            “After all, the Right does make small, temporary gains and win limited, temporary gains. But in the long run, they always prove temporary; on the scale of decades and centuries, only left-wing victories have proven lasting.”

            This argument is somewhat convincing to me. On the other hand, I notice that this argument only appeared within the last decade or so; I know I would have scoffed at it in the 90s as a right-winger and in the 2000s as a left-winger. If the pattern is so obvious, so inescapable, why did it take till the current decade for people to put it together? Could it be that the pattern is, in fact, illusory, dependent on coalition effects that are temporary rather than any actual deep-seated trend in reality?

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        @Kevin C., our Alaskan Atheist Prophet of Doom:

        …how should we fight then? Because “taking the high road” clearly isn’t working. So if “going tit-for-tat” won’t work either, what will? What strategies work better for the Right than the Left, if any?

        Barbecue sauce is a possibility: since it’s a given that the Left will eat itself, we should attempt to strategically squirt barbecue sauce on the parts of its body we wish it to sink its fangs into. That biology professor at Evergreen State, for instance.

        Twitter is the greatest barbecue-sauce delivery system ever invented; Tumblr and FaceBook aren’t bad, either. Just create a couple accounts, follow the right people and retweet (/retumble/reface) the right things for a while, and you easily build cred (conformism makes this easy).

        Then find a Lefty who thinks a bit too much or too clearly, or may stand on principle or something. Taunt, goad, or manipulate them into saying something heretical (the barbecue sauce); if that fails, just make it up (photoshop a Twitter screenshot for extra evidence). The rest takes care of itself.

        Bonus: it’s a lot of fun being a bully when you can’t possibly get hurt.

        Either half of all the Twitter-mob crap is anti-Leftists doing exactly this, or we’re more doomed than even you think.

        • albatross11 says:

          I think Moloch has already been hired to cater the barbeque sauce. His contract is written in the ML algorithms that analyze what social media sites should show you to maximize stickiness, and he’s already optimizing for clicks by maximizing outrage.

      • AnonYEmous says:

        Basically, why isn’t the Right willing to even try to fight the Left with their own tactics? Why aren’t we matching “punching Nazis” with “punching Stalinists” or such?

        tactic A accomplishes nothing, so tactic B will also accomplish nothing

        More broadly, the PR war is probably the most important war of all, especially since it’s a whole lot easier to get racists fired than it is to get SJWs fired. It’s a lot better, politically speaking, to make the other side look unpleasant, rather than gather meaningless feel-good victories (commie punched, SJW fired, how does this help you politically)?

        • Kevin C. says:

          It’s a lot better, politically speaking, to make the other side look unpleasant

          Sure, if I thought we could do that. But we’re not doing that. Because despite all our “taking the high road”, and all the “dirty tricks” of the left, to the average American, head full of whatever the Mass Media Megaphone has embedded in there most recently, we’re the ones who “look unpleasant”, not them. In the “mainstream of the marketplace of ideas”, we’re all hideous, murderous, jackbooted monsters, and the Left are all saintly heroes uplifting the downtrodden and courageously battling the Vile Oppressors.

          See, that’s one of the problems. When it comes to the war of appearances and persuasion, the memetic battle for the mindshare of the masses, the Left has a natural, and I’d say nigh-insurmountable, advantage. The “PR war” front is the Left’s greatest strength; on that battlefield they are utterly unbeatable. It is effectively impossible for the Right to have better PR than the Left among the common masses (hence another reason democracy inherently favors the Left). And as every strategist from Sun-tzu on has taught, you do not attack the enemy where he is strongest (and you are weak). If the Right has any possibility of beating the Left, it will not be on the PR battleground, but in a different domain where we are weak and they are strong. (But I cannot really think of any such domain. Can you?)

      • shakeddown says:

        Now, you can sort of see the Right doing similar blame on the influences of a Muslim attacker, but even then with the usual Dubya-style “these people are not proper Muslims, but have perverted the ‘Religion of Peace” to twisted ends” disclaimers.

        Does anyone on the right ever use these since dubya? Have you even heard of the sitting Republican president?

        • Matt M says:

          I recall the sitting Republican President being widely denounced by just about every other Republican on Earth every time he says anything un-PC.

          Remember how everyone ran screaming away from him with his very first “illegal aliens are rapists” comment?

          • shakeddown says:

            The guy has overwhelming Republican support both in the popular base and Congress. You really can’t pull the “he’s an attacked minority” card.

      • shakeddown says:

        This whole argument is based on a false premise. Basically, you see the right Chinese robber fallacy the left, and ask why the right isn’t willing to be dishonest and draw overly broad conclusions from individual cases. I’ll leave it to you to figure out the answer.

  8. Wrong Species says:

    I’m probably going to take a philosophy of mind class for my minor, does anyone know how long they spend talking about non-physicalist theories? I think the subject is fascinating but I can’t take any kind of dualism or idealistic monism seriously.

    • Protagoras says:

      Depends heavily on who’s teaching it, and what exactly the class is (even if it’s just called “philosophy of mind,” what role it has in the program may be different depending on what level it is at and what other classes are also offered by that department). I mostly studied philosophy of mind with Jaegwon Kim, who largely ignored Cartesian dualism and idealism, but who spent a lot of time on various kinds of “non-reductive” materialism as well as Chalmers-style views. But he’s retired and you’re probably not at Brown, so that doesn’t help. You should ask the instructor for a syllabus or something; no random person on the internet is going to know.

    • Urstoff says:

      You’ll read Descartes, but probably not any other serious dualists or idealists (because they are few and far between and the major debates have little to do with dualism). John Foster and Howard Robinson are both idealists of a sort, so if you’re interested in that, I’d seek out their work. E.J. Lowe was a major recent dualist (he died in 2014) that was more philosophically rigorous than the stuff that comes out of the Christian apologetics camp (e.g., Richard Swinburne). Kripke has an important argument against the identity theory, and is sometimes called a “neo-dualist”, but he hasn’t really said much aside from a few paragraphs here and there. Brie Gertler is a “naturalistic dualist”, but really just isn’t a strict physicalist (note that dualism and physicalism are not exhaustive of the possible metaphysical positions). The 2010 anthology “The Waning of Materialism” has some interesting stuff in there, but again most of the arguments are negative.

    • skef says:

      How do you feel about subjective eliminativism?

      I would think most contemporary courses will at least discuss dualism, sometimes only to criticize it. Idealism seems to be an optional topic. I taught it early on to establish a sort of “space” of potential theories, and towards the end of the course assigned the Bostrom simulation paper and pointed out that the simulation hypothesis is form of neo-idealism.

      If you’re going to bother with philosophy at all, I strongly suggest prying open a larger space for yourself between “agreeing with” and “taking seriously”.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Let’s say you take an evolutionary biology class and you realize half of the time will be spent discussing creationism. Now maybe you will change your mind but probably not. I’m not saying that I won’t change my mind but I would rather discuss theories that I believe have a higher chance of being right. My prior is that dualism is about the same level as vitalism.

        • skef says:

          Probably best to stay away from philosophy entirely, then.

          • Wrong Species says:

            You’re being incredibly uncharitable. Just because I would rather study things I think have a chance of being true rather than things I think have little chance of being true doesn’t mean I’m unfit to learn philosophy. Would you rather study Aristotlian physics or contemporary philosophy of science? Don’t be a prick.

          • skef says:

            Aristotlian physics is more proto-science than philosophy of science, so that’s kind of apples and oranges.

            Why “unfit” rather than “disinterested”? I’m not trying to imply anything about your abilities. Someone who can accurately judge for themselves that they are not interested in different conceptions of dualism is probably not going to be very happy with identity theory or proto-panpsychism. The views face difficult objections for which there is no clear answer. Just because a view is in your ballpark doesn’t mean you won’t feel it’s a waste of your time.

            I can easily imagine taking a philosophy of biology course in which half the time is spent discussing creationism, or more likely Intelligent Design. Probably not intro. The ways in which ID fails as a good scientific theory although it was devised to have that shape likely make it a good illustrative case.

  9. I want to expand on an issue I raised in a recent comment–desert vs entitlement as moral visions.

    One intuition is that people should get what they deserve. Good people should end up with good lives, bad people with bad lives. I think of that as the God’s eye view of morality. God, if he exists, knows what is good or bad, knows who did what why, and has unlimited resources with which to reward the good.

    The other intuition is that people should get what they are entitled to. Consider, as a simple example, a lottery. Nobody thinks the winner deserves to win–the result depended on random chance, not moral worth. But almost everyone thinks he is entitled to win, given that everyone involved agreed on the rules they are playing by.

    I think of that as the human eye view. We have no way of agreeing on what people deserve, since, all other problems aside, we have no way of determining what counts as good or bad. But we do, usually, know the rules of the game we are playing, and we can say whether an outcome is according to the rules–whether someone bought his TV or stole it, did or didn’t cheat in the poker game, … .

    We have both intuitions, but the desert intuition seems to get a lot more attention. In my view that is a mistake, because there are massive problems with trying to organize or judge a society on that basis. They include:

    Things happen independent of desert. Someone is struck by lightning and requires expensive medical care to survive. He didn’t do anything to deserve to be struck by lightning. But then, other people didn’t do anything to deserve to have to pay for his medical care–the lightning wasn’t a result of their sins either. The way I usually put this is that God does not have a budget constraint, we do. When costs appear, someone has to bear them, whether or not anyone deserves to.

    The desert view is massively inconsistent not only with how the world works but with how almost everyone wants it to work. As I pointed out in another thread, the difference between the opportunities available to someone born in the third world and someone born in America is massively greater than the difference between an American white and an American black. Yet few of the people who want to change America to give blacks the same outcomes as white make any serious effort to argue either for free immigration or for revenue maximizing taxation of all Americans, rich and poor, for the benefit of people in poor countries.

    Implementing the desert vision requires someone with the power to judge everyone else, in order to decide what people deserve. Absent a God, that isn’t an attractive picture.

    A final problem, which occasionally shows up here, is the difficulty in defining desert. It’s tempting to say that someone who is very productive deserves a high income or that someone who goes around robbing and murdering people deserves to be punished. But all such judgements are vulnerable to the argument that the person did not deserve the characteristics that let him produce a high income, did not deserve to be the sort of person who went around robbing and murdering. Push the argument far enough back along the causal change and nobody deserves to be anything, hence nobody deserves anything.

    People who argue along these lines generally conclude that everyone deserves the same outcome, but that doesn’t actually follow. If nobody deserves anything, then I don’t deserve to be richer than you, poorer than you, or have the same income as you. Or have a higher income than an ant. Or a rock.

    The implication is not egalitarianism, it’s moral nihilism.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      If nobody deserves anything, then I don’t deserve to be richer than you, poorer than you, or have the same income as you. Or have a higher income than an ant. Or a rock.

      This why I pray for mercy, and never justice. Justice means getting what you deserve. Nobody deserves that.

      • Matt M says:

        One of my all time favorite movie quotes is from The Unforgiven.

        “Deserve’s got nuthin to do with it!”

        • FacelessCraven says:

          Also, “We all got it coming.”

          And Chesterton: “For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy.”

    • biblicalsausage says:

      It’s true that there is a problem with trying to run a society where everyone gets their just deserts, because we can’t reach widespread agreement on who deserves what. But that argument can potentially cut both ways. There is also a difficulty in producing a society where everyone gets what they’re entitled to, because we can’t get widespread agreement on who is entitled to what.

      In the game of lottery, your example, there is general consensus that everyone who plays the game agrees to the rules and therefore there’s no problem when someone wins. Okay. But in the game of life, the rules are non-consensual. All of us, no matter where we are born, are born into some system of rules for allocating resource, rules which we never consented to in the first place.

    • rahien.din says:

      You contrast two ideas as mutually exclusive: people get exactly what they deserve versus people get what the rules of society entitle them to.

      But you don’t really explain the latter. If we are forbidden from invoking desert, what do we use for the basis of our societal entitlements (using your words)?

      • My point is that we have two sets of moral intuitions of a strikingly different structure. Neither structure, by itself, describes the whole intuition. Believe in outcome by desert is consistent with different views of what make someone good and so deserving–but nobody believes that the winner of a bet deserves to win it in that sense, only that he is entitled to receive the winnings. Belief in outcome by entitlement is consistent with different views of what fair rules of the game are–but playing by the rules isn’t the same thing as getting an outcome because you are good.

        I am a libertarian, so libertarian rules of the game feel right to me, but even within that there are parts that are quite unclear, such as the justification for ownership of property or what is the just remedy for violation of the rules. People who are not libertarians will have different intuitions about what the rules are. My point wasn’t that I could show some set of rules was right, only that entitlement and desert are fundamentally different intuitions.

        • rahien.din says:

          Thanks! I think I understand you better now.

          Merely a suggestion: maybe instead of “playing by the rules” we could say “interacting with the rules”? One can break the rules in a calculated way as a form of a bet. Driving over the speed limit is a kind of bet, but it isn’t playing by the rules. A desert-based account might be that people who drive too fast do not deserve to get to their destination sooner. An entitlement-based account might be that speeders are betting they won’t encounter or cause some trouble, and are thus entitled to the outcome of their actions.

          The other situation that occurs to me is sport. One might deliberately break the rules (even knowing one will be caught) in order to increase the chance of winning. Consider the Polish defense and the punt protection strategies of the Baltimore Ravens. These would be prohibited by desert-based accounts but not by entitlement-based accounts.

          Am I applying your idea correctly? CMWIW

  10. I have just webbed the v0.1 version of my latest project, a collection of short works of literature that contain interesting economics. It’s a web page with links, taking advantage of the fact that most of the things I want are already online. The final version would presumably be a printed book and a kindle, which would require copyright permission for those works not in the public domain.

    Comments welcome, especially suggestions of other things to include. Also of a better title.

    Embedded Economics v0.1

    Blog post explaining the project

    • Well... says:

      I wonder if you’re familiar with any of the People of Helm stories…I last read them as a kid so it’s been a while and my memory’s hazy, but I’d bet a few of those had some econ lessons.

    • Incurian says:

      Some suggestions, in ROT13,

      Urvayrva pbhyqa’g znxr vg guebhtu n puncgre jvgubhg univat bar punenpgre orng nabgure bire gur urnq jvgu fbzr aba-vaghvgvir rkcynangvba bs rpbabzvp npgvivgl, ohg urer ner fbzr rknzcyrf V pna guvax bs bss gur gbc bs zl urnq.

      Gvzr Rabhtu sbe Ybir vf n pbyyrpgvba bs fgbevrf (cyhf n senzvat qrivpr naq na rkgraqrq rcvybthr). Bar bs gur fgbevrf vf nobhg sebagvre yvsr va n arj pbybal, jurer gur cebgntbavfg npgf n onaxre oevrsyl. Gur pbybavfgf varivgnoyl qrpvqr gb “angvbanyvmr” gur onax, naq gurl ner fhecevfrq gb svaq gung ur unf ab zbarl va erfreir naq unf pbzcyrgryl nagvpvcngrq gurve zbir. Ur tbrf ba gb rkcynva jul ur qvq vg naq jul onaxvat naq pheerapl ner zber pbzcyvpngrq guna gurl fhfcrpg. Va bar bs gur rneyvre fgbevrf gurer vf fbzr gnyx bs gbkvp vapragvirf naq gur tbireazrag cnlvat snezref abg gb tebj nalguvat.

      Va Sbe Hf, Gur Yvivat, gurer vf na rkgraqrq qvfphffvba nobhg artngvir vapbzr gnk, nf jryy nf n ahzore bs jrveq rpbabzvp guvatf V pna’g erpnyy.

      Gur Zbba Vf N Unefu Zvfgerff snzbhfyl cbchynevmrq GNAFGNNSY. Gur genqr orgjrra snezref, nyy pvgvmraf, gur nqzvavfgengvba, naq gur uhatel cbchyngvba ba Rnegu ner xvaq bs na vagrerfgvat svpgvbany pnfr fghql nobhg pbybavnyvfz znlor.

      Va Gur Png Jub Jnyxrq Guebhtu Jnyyf, gurer ner n srj oevrs rknzcyrf. Gur znantrzrag bs Tbyqra Ehyr ubyqvat qrcbfvgf jvgubhg vagrerfg naq znxvat n xvyyvat bss bs vg, GNAFGNNSY ntnva ba gur zbba ertneqvat oernguvat nve naq rzretrapl erfphr perjf punetvat sbe gurve freivprf.

      Arny Fgrcurafba unf fbzr cerggl terng naq boivbhf rknzcyrf. Va Qvnzbaq Ntr, gurer vf fbzr fcrphyngvba ba n oneryl cbfg-fpnepvgl fbpvrgl. Va Fabj Penfu, gur vagryyvtrapr znexrg vf xvaq bs vagrerfgvat. Va gur Onebdhr Plpyr, vg rkcyvpvgyl qrfpevorf gur perngvba bs n ybg bs zbqrea onaxvat naq svanapvny vafgvghgvbaf. Ernzqr unf n cerggl vagrerfgvat qvfphffvba ba iveghny pheerapl, nf qbrf Pelcgbabzvpba (ohg va qvssrerag jnlf).

      • As I explained at my second link, I’m looking for things short enough so that I can produce a book containing lots of them. Novels don’t qualify. An excerpt from a novel only qualifies if it works on its own as a story. Your Time Enough for Love example might–I’ll have to reread it–but I don’t think the others do.

        I want to produce a collection of things people would read for their own sake, not excerpts chosen to demonstrate that literature sometimes contains economics. The latter would be unlikely to be read by anyone other than a professor looking for ideas for lectures or students reading it because it was assigned.

        • Incurian says:

          Of course, I should have rtfm.

          Actually I did at one point, as I was writing my reply I thought, “why didn’t I mention this when I saw it on the blog?” Whoops.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      Are you familiar with the Marshall Jevons books? I had to read The Fatal Equilibrium for my intro econ class, and it was pretty reasonable.

      • I reviewed the first of them, not very favorably. One of the later ones is better.

        Those are novels written by two economists to make economic points. I’m trying to put together a single book containing short works of literature that have interesting economics, works good enough so people read them for their own sake. A novel is too long and an excerpt from a novel is usually something that you would only read because you have been told it has economics in it, not because it is actually worth reading for itself.

        I go into some of this at the second link in my initial post.

  11. I have just webbed the latest draft of my not yet published book, Legal Systems Very Different from Ours. Comments welcome.

    • biblicalsausage says:

      I’ve read the chapters 1-6, 11-12, 15-17. As someone who first read anarcho-capitalist thought via Rothbard, and grew somewhat disillusioned with some of his idealism and hyper-theoretical approach (if that makes any sense), I’ve greatly enjoyed looking into your work, which seems a bit more empirically grounded and sober.

      I would come away from Rothbard thinking, “Fine. This is elegant. But would any of it actually work in practice.” Your latest book goes into pretty deep detail as to what alternative legal practices have in fact worked, at least well enough that they were used to structure a society. This seems to fill a major gap for me in what I’ve read so far.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      I read an earlier version, so I’m more likely to read now if you can give me some patch notes.

      But I mainly come in to recommend this to others, especially anyone who thinks big sociological debates could use more empirical data.

      And it’s a fun read. You might not expect that part.

      • I’m afraid I didn’t keep patch notes. Most of the changes since the previous webbed version are minor ones, largely in response to my editor daughter’s pointing out problems. I think my substantial rewrite of the chapter on the problem of error, however, was done after I webbed the previous version.

  12. Kevin C. says:

    Two particularly interesting paragraphs from Michael Power’s thought-provoking Financial Times articleHas Western-style democracy become too expensive for capitalism?

    The central reason why Western democracy is in decline is that its capitalist bedfellow can no longer afford the financial demands that full-blown democracy is placing upon it. History has shown that capitalism can adapt, consorting with a variety of political systems in the past 5,000 years. Looking ahead, it will probably find another political host to aid its survival. Democracy — capitalism’s host over the past century — is far more brittle.

    Democracy’s political demands have productively cohabited with the economics of capitalism for a century because the economic largesse that this arrangement produced was partially redistributed via the tax-the-winners and spend-on-the-falling-behinds mechanisms of social democracy. This persuaded those whose livelihoods required subsidisation to support this marriage of convenience. The rise of populism, the deepening divide between generations and the growth of anti-establishment political movements on both extremes of the political spectrum suggest this grand bargain may be losing its attraction. This cohabitation is threatened because the economic surpluses generated can no longer cover the level of political demands for subsidisation.

    The article touches on the rise of China, automation-driven inequality and job loss, youth unemployment, rising protectionist sentiments, and labor productivity, and I think is well worth a read.

    • pontifex says:

      Whoa. Have Death-Eaters infiltrated the Financial Times?

      Unfortunately, I can’t read the article to find out since I don’t have a subscription to the FT.

  13. Virbie says:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/15/seven-percent-of-americans-think-chocolate-milk-comes-from-brown-cows-and-thats-not-even-the-scary-part/

    The Washington Post apparently hasn’t heard of Lizardman’s Constant, taking the news that 7% of Americans think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows as a Very Serious Warning (TM) of how poorly-educated on nutrition Americans are.

    No disagreements on the actual claim, it’s just funny that the lede is so dramatic and so trivial.

    • Deiseach says:

      Well, apparently you can tell the colour of a hen’s eggs by the colour of her earlobes 🙂

    • biblicalsausage says:

      I, for one, am shocked and saddened that only 93% of Americans given an earnest, correct answer when asked a stupid question. The correct answer, no doubt, is to restructure our educational system to include more information about agriculture, along with mandatory expulsions for anyone who gives sarcastic responses. Chocolate milk is no joking matter.

      • Zodiac says:

        You say that as a joke, yet I know a few people who say that with complete conviction.

  14. johan_larson says:

    Google is riding high right now. They are expanding rapidly and planning to open several campuses for new hires. But how does all of this end?

    Let’s suppose Google follows the trajectory of an earlier darling of the computer industry, DEC. DEC’s big thing was minicomputers; they built some really famous ones like the PDP-8, the PDP-11, and the VAX line. They were started in 1957, and had a good run for about a generation until they were done in by a market shift away from minis to workstations and PCs. The last dregs of DEC were sold to Compaq 41 years later in 1998.

    So, if Google follows the same trajectory, having started in 1998, they will flame out in 2039, done in by the next big thing in the industry. What might that be?

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      I don’t know, but when DOJ brings a monumentally drawn-out and expensive antitrust suit against the company, that will be a good sign that its irrelevance is at hand.

      • WashedOut says:

        Filing a “monumentally drawn-out and expensive antitrust suit against a company” seems to contraindicate “irrelevance”, by definition.

        I think it more likely that Google will get so big that it becomes part of the technological infrastructure that underpins the developed world. It will effectively transition from “corporate entity” to “technological substrate”. Try suing that.

    • Brad says:

      Microsoft and Apple were started in 1975 and 76 respectively — 41 and 42 years ago. And they are still riding very, very high.

      • johan_larson says:

        Oh, sure. I’m not saying DEC’s is the only possible story. Some companies die younger, some older. But I’d push back a bit against the claim that Microsoft is riding very high. Though it caught a second wind after Nadella stepped up, it’s not the kingpin of the industry any more, but it certainly was back in the nineties. Within the industry, it just isn’t spoken of in a breath with Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon. It’s a big, old, second-tier company, like Oracle, say.

        Apple’s story is even more interesting. It’s not often you see a Second Coming played out in real life.

        • Brad says:

          Microsoft may not be as sexy as those companies, but it is more valuable than Amazon and Facebook, and has a PE ratio considerably higher than Apple and about the same as Alphabet (nee Google).

        • Virbie says:

          > Within the industry, it just isn’t spoken of in a breath with Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon. It’s a big, old, second-tier company, like Oracle, say.

          This is only true at the consumer-level. People who know what they’re talking about disagree. While I was at Google (during some of Microsoft’s shittiest years), Eric Schmidt would constantly hammer home the point that you should never, ever underestimate Microsoft (I believe he’s said as much publicly too), and Google’s management lives by this as well.

          As just one example, even through their absolute worst years, Microsoft had one of the best research labs of its kind on the planet. The fact that their company culture was so necrotic that nothing good ever made it to market is exactly the kind of thing that can be turned around in a relatively-not-that-long period of time and then you’d expect to see a discontinuity in unleashed potential.

          • johan_larson says:

            Paul Graham is certainly within the industry, and as one of the founders of a top startup accelerator (Y Combinator), he knows what he is talking about. And he wrote Microsoft is Dead.

          • rlms says:

            @johan_larson
            Paul Graham (understandably) cares about the capacity of companies to threaten startups. But even if we assume that Microsoft is dead in that somewhat ill-defined way, it’s still pretty alive in the sense of wealth. I’d be happy to be assessed as dead by Paul Graham if I could be stinking rich simultaneously.

          • Virbie says:

            @johan_larson

            I’m very familiar with Paul Graham, like him a lot, and appreciate his propensity for thinking hard about a lot of things, but I wouldn’t say he knows what he’s talking about.

            Less snarkily: Paul’s bar for publishing things that he’s thinking about is a lot lower than you’d expect; things that he’s sort of thinking about end up being published and often have tons of rough edges and unwarranted conclusions. I enjoy this about him because it means you get to read his (often very good) musings about many different things, but putting as much confidence into any given essay of his as you are right now is doing yourself a disservice.

            Looking at it from another angle, it should be pretty obvious which data point is higher-quality:

            1) the billions-of-dollars-at-stake actually-implemented strategies of large companies that compete directly with Microsoft

            vs

            2) a single essay written by a guy whose incentive is to attract talent to smaller companies. Even if he’s 100% correct and 100% confident about his assessment of Microsoft, you’re assuming that he’d share that 100% honestly with the public.

            Like I said, I really like pg, but your entire understanding of Microsoft seems to be based on the fact that you read Paul Graham’s essay before other perspectives and you’re hesitant to update your model.

          • pontifex says:

            I enjoy reading Paul Graham’s essays, but you have to keep in mind that he’s kind of the crazy old uncle of the VC community.

            He got rich in the original dotcom bubble of 1999 selling a doomed startup to Yahoo for a silly amount of money. If he had waited a bit longer to sell, or if he had come to the Valley a little bit later, he would just be a drone at AmaGooFaceSoft now.

            Since we live in one of the realities where he didn’t, he’s now expounding on how Lisp is responsible for all his success (wat?), big companies are dinosaurs, etc. etc. “It’s easy to find gold in them thar hills! All you do is swing your pickaxe! And make sure it’s the purple one.”

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      The last dregs of DEC were sold to Compaq 41 years later in 1998.

      Digital Semiconductor was sold to Intel; the rest of the company went to Compaq. I don’t think either part actually qualified as “dregs”; remember that AltaVista was part of what Compaq got, and the billion-dollar Fab Six went to Intel.

      The company had grown a hell of a bureaucracy, though, and wasn’t effective or fast enough at getting good ideas from the Western Research Lab to market.

      I wrote my first program on a PDP-11/7A, running RSTS/E.

    • pontifex says:

      Prediction: If Google falls, it will be because of some huge scandal. They store and process highly personal data from millions of people around the world. If they have a “Snowden moment” where they’re found to have done something awful with the data, there could be enough public outrage to trigger the government to break up the company. Basically it would be AT&T or Standard Oil all over again.

      I can’t imagine them falling any other way. At this point, they have enough money that they could just put millions of dollars in a trash barrel every year and burn it. They’d still live like kings off the interest from the rest. They have more than 40 billion dollars in cash alone, not including any other assets.

    • shakeddown says:

      This is basically the German tank problem – see here https://what-if.xkcd.com/65/

  15. J Mann says:

    Latest discussion in the Vox/Murray dispute. The discussion is getting deeper into the details, and therefore IMHO more interesting.

    https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/6/15/15797120/race-black-white-iq-response-critics

    • Virbie says:

      Wow that’s fascinating. I’ve never seen that level of clarity and intellectual honesty from Vox. I suppose their authors intentionally dumb down most of their work, which can have the effect of making it seem intellectually dishonest. They should be challenged this heavily more often and maybe we’ll start seeing a higher proportion of quality work out of them!

      • I agree that it is more intellectually viable than most of what we’ve seen before, but I still find it somewhat disingenuous about the question of how much of the Black/White IQ difference is genetic.

        Nisbett makes the strongest case, although I can’t judge whether his statistics are cherry picking studies to find what he wants. But the studies he quotes seem to say that the Black/White IQ difference has halved in the last couple of decades, indicating that there is a large environmental component. However, he doesn’t mention that Murray has never claimed that the difference is 100% genetic. In The Bell Curve, the two authors state that the Black/White environments in the US aren’t different enough to account for a full standard deviation difference in IQ. Even if Nisbett is correct that the gap has shrunk by half, it doesn’t mean that the remaining difference isn’t genetic.

        Harden essentially fights the straw man that Murray believes the entire difference is genetic. And he claims that race cannot be defined clearly. This is true, but does not negate the statistics about those we have defined as Black and White.

        Turkheimer admits that Murray does not claim the differences are fully genetic. The other two authors should read what Turkheimer says. But Turkheimer claims it is immoral to have a theory that there is a genetic component to IQ without proof. This is the worst argument, in my opinion, because he is basically arguing in favor of politics over science in a question that is clearly a scientific one. At one point he claims the issue itself is irredeemably scientific. In my opinion it is only Turkheimer that is unscientific.

        These opinions are only slightly better than the trash talking Murray has gotten on The Bell Curve since the book came out. At least now the critics have given in on the actual science in The Bell Curve — namely that IQ is a real thing that has real life consequences, and that there is a Black/White difference in IQ, however it occurred. It is good that the discussion has moved to areas that are truly up for debate.

  16. J Mann says:

    Ok, one more Charles Murray question, in a few parts:

    1) Are the genetic tests offered by Ancestry.com, 23andMe, etc. generally reliable regarding amount of ancestry from different areas?

    2) If so, is it possible to find a reasonably big data set of people who identify as wholly caucasian but actually have some African ancestry?

    3) If so, can we compare IQ and IQ proxies of the group in #2 with people who also believe they are white and who have less African ancestry?

    4) If so, has anyone ever done that?

    That seems to be a good way of checking how much effect racism might have as an environmental variable, subject to some caveats. You would have people who grew up believing they were white, so you could control for other environmental variables like wealth and see what happened.

    • Well... says:

      The experimental design is cool, but it doesn’t test the hypothesis. The hypothesis is about race, and race typically isn’t about genetics-as-detectable-in-DNA, but rather genetics-as-visible-at-100-yards.

      • J Mann says:

        I think it has the potential to challenge some hypotheses.

        1) For example, if IQ didn’t vary between people who believe they are fully Caucasian but are in fact of partial sub-Saharan-African ancestry, and people who believe they are fully Caucasian and are, that would cause me to reduce my internal probability of there being a substantial genetic competent to the group IQ difference.

        1.1) Another possibility would be that the differences in ancestry weren’t large enough to produce a statistically significant effect, but that’s an issue that can be addressed with larger samples and good math.

        1.2) Another possibility would be that intelligence is relevantly linked to the same genes that produce appearance changes, but given the number of genes we believe affect intelligence, that seems unlikely.

        2) On the other hand, if IQ varied as predicted based on continent of ancestry, even among people brought up in white families believing they were white, I think that would lower the probability of the “group differences are caused by racism” hypothesis, as well as the culture hypothesis.

        2.1) Another possibility would be that the identified group still varies from the typical white appearance in some what that exposes them to discrimination that affects their IQ.

  17. Kevin C. says:

    One of those things I see brought up from time to time is Medieval animal trials. And pretty much every time, it’s in the vein of “look at how silly and ignorant people were back then”. But I’d like to ask people to consider the perspective of animal rights. As one of the few works I’ve seen to defend it, this Slate article, puts it:

    While these explanations go partway toward elucidating animal trials, none of them fully clarify the practice. They hardly explain why citizens went to great pains to create space for humans to judge animals for their actions. Correcting hierarchical order or sending a stern message to animal owners could have been accomplished much more easily and cheaply with summary execution. What the trials strongly suggest is that pre-industrial citizens deemed the animals among them worthy of human justice primarily because they had, like humans, the free will to make basic choices.

    What are we to make of this evidence that our ancestors imputed to animals a sense of moral agency? Contemporary responses have been either to mock them as pre-enlightenment rubes (“artifacts of a superstitious and ritualistic culture,” as legal scholar Katie Sykes summarizes this stance) or to dismiss them as sinister masochists who enjoyed watching animals dangle from the gallows because they had, as historian Edward P. Evans put it in 1906, “a childish disposition to punish irrational creatures.” Overlooked by these interpretations is something that, as we increasingly remove animals from public view, becomes harder to appreciate: These people saw aspects of animal behavior that we don’t see anymore. In this sense, these seemingly odd trials have much to teach us about how fundamentally our relationship with animals has changed over time and how, more poignantly, we’ve lost the ability to empathize with them as sentient beings.

    While that article blames industrialization and the reduction in contact with animals that came with the shift away from pre-modern agriculture, I’d argue that the “modern view” — wherein moral agency is solely a property of human persons — is at least partially due to Cartesian Dualism and associated developments of the Enlightenment. To quote the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s article on “Animal Consciousness”:

    Descartes himself practiced and advocated vivisection (Descartes, Letter to Plempius, Feb 15 1638), and wrote in correspondence that the mechanical understanding of animals absolved people of any guilt for killing and eating animals. Mechanists who followed him (e.g. Malebranche) used Descartes’ denial of reason and a soul to animals as a rationale for their belief that animals were incapable of suffering or emotion, and did not deserve moral consideration — justifying vivisection and other brutal treatment (see Olson 1990, p. 39–40, for support of this claim).

    (And one cannot miss the work the RSPCA did in its early days to combat vivisection and cruelty in animal experiments.) So, if one is trying to move past believing in “the Ghost in the Machine”, and to recognizing that (at least some) animals have non-zero moral worth, then perhaps one might admit non-zero moral agency as well. Note, that this non-zero moral agency can still be much, much, much less than human moral agency, as moral agency is not binary (we admit that children have less than adults, especially the younger they are; similarly with various mental imparements). And I’m not exactly calling for restoration of animal trials. I’m just saying that, given that the “only humans morally matter” legacy of Dualism seems to be weakening, perhaps those who make that rejection should stop seeing the Medieval attitudes here as entirely silly and stupid, but, while not correct, at least more morally reasonable than the vivisectionists and such of the early Enlightenment.

  18. Atlas says:

    Just a random thought about terrorism:

    Whenever there’s an Islamic terrorist attack, liberals are triggered by right wing people pointing out, hey, what a zany coincidence that this attacker also belonged to a certain religion of peace, isn’t it funny how, even though terrorism is just a risk that we all have to accept and live with and keep calm and carry on through, you never hear about these kinds of bombings/shootings/stabbings happening in countries like Poland and Hungary for some reason, etc.

    But then conservatives get triggered by liberals pointing out that, objectively speaking, terrorism causes fewer—far fewer—fatalities than many other risks that don’t receive anywhere near as much media coverage, so why is it such a big deal? And there’s really no good answer to this—one tack seems to be one I saw Douglas Murray try in a YouTube video, namely that the fact that terrorists intend to cause harm, which someone makes it more important. This makes no sense to me—are the victims of terrorism more dead, do their loved ones suffer more, than victims of drug overdoses/car accidents/heart disease? Run of the mill homicides are also intentional, and don’t receive anywhere near as much media coverage.

    But there’s a different justification for worrying about terrorism that some, notably Nassim Taleb, have vocally propounded, and which Scott discussed in “Terrorism and Chairs: an Outlier Story.” The argument is that terrorism is fat-tailed, so, even though a small number of people die in terrorist attacks compared to other things every year, there’s a chance that terrorists could use a biological/nuclear weapon of some kind to inflict mass casualties, as opposed to thin-tailed risks like falling deaths that remain relatively constant, so wipe that smug grin off of your face liberals.

    This just seems like a really, really weak argument—indeed, a self-defeating one— to me. It may be the case that there is a significant risk from terrorists acquiring WMD, though that seems like it would be very difficult and expensive, and considering how much difficulty terrorists have pulling off relatively small operations like the 2010 Times Square attempted bombing I kind of have a hard time believing that terrorists would be able to just build, transport to and detonate a nuclear device in the middle of NYC or something without a drone strike/the NSA/the want of a nail ruining the entire plan at some point.

    But ok, let’s accept this for the sake of argument. If true, it seems like “terrorism” is really two separate things: the thin-tailed risk from bombings/stabbings/shootings that are what we see in the real world provoke hysteria and media coverage—it’s not like terrorists will be able to stab/shoot 15,000 people to death in one year—-, and the hypothesized fat-tailed risk from WMD. Maybe the hypothesized fat-tailed risk of WMD is comparable to the number of fatalities from auto accidents, but if so it just means that there’s yet another risk that is more important but receives far less coverage than the small-scale terrorist attacks with guns/knives/bombs. I guess you could argue that the ability of a lone wolf terrorist to acquire a gun at Walmart and kill a dozen or so people before being stopped makes it more likely that a terrorist network could assemble a nuclear device, transport it to a major population center and successfully detonate it before being foiled, so therefore we should worry about actually observable terrorist attacks because they could show an increased chance of fat-tailed ones. (Though, again, those seem like almost two separate phenomena to me.)

    But no one on the right (e.g. Stefan Molyneux) ever responds to a terrorist attack like that. They point to the actually dead victims and wring their hands about how long will it take people to wake up. So all in all I think that the liberal point about victims of terrorism being less than victims of car accidents/drug overdoses/homicides/suicides handily survives the fat-tailed distribution challenge. I would further note that it seems suspiciously like many of the people who make this argument are making an isolated demand for rigor, in that they’re willing to worry about fat-tailed risks and call for drastic measures when it comes to Islamic terrorism, but not so much for A.I. risk or ecoterrorism or giant asteroid strikes or any of the many other hard to predict but possibly devastating risks one could imagine.

    • hls2003 says:

      That wasn’t what I took from Scott’s piece. I thought the key point was that terrorism differs from bathtubs because the former is committed by actors with agency, whose behavior can be affected by the reaction of the victimized, whereas bathtubs (unless the Internet of Things has slipped up on me more quickly than I thought) don’t much care whether you bomb them, appease them, or convert to Bathtubianity.

      That would also be the link to the fat tail issue. Since terrorism is committed by conscious agents, potentially the wrong response can encourage/inspire/allow/otherwise increase the chance for terrorists to commit the fat tail attack. Our reaction to bathtubs cannot possibly be “wrong” in that way.

      • Virbie says:

        @hls2003

        > I thought the key point was that terrorism differs from bathtubs because the former is committed by actors with agency, whose behavior can be affected by the reaction of the victimized, whereas bathtubs (unless the Internet of Things has slipped up on me more quickly than I thought) don’t much care whether you bomb them, appease them, or convert to Bathtubianity.

        This doesn’t make much sense to me. You took a leap from “bathtubs have no moral agency” (true, but devoid of implication) to “the danger level of bathtubs is not within our control”, which helps make your point but is decidedly untrue. If we took a minuscule fraction of the amount of money we’ve justified spending due to terrorism and spent it on making every bathtub in every house in America incredibly safe, we absolutely could. The claim these people are making is that we’ve decided as a society that the level of risk/expense that current bathtubs offer is fine, but for terrorism our brains have short-circuited and the calculation is wildly out of proportion.

        I’m varying degrees of sympathetic to the other arguments for why people are so irrationally terrified of terrorism, but the “moral agents” argument is empty of merit.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          This is an interesting point.

          On the one hand, it implies that spending on safer bathtubs is more justified, because bathtubs can’t change their behavior, and therefore interventions are more likely to successful in lowering risk.

          On the other hand, bath tub risk is to some extent the result of personal choices, where certain functions trade-off vs. bathtub safety. This is true in a way that is not true of terrorist risk, because whatever my choices, the terrorists will still be looking to kill me.

          I think the “moral” part of “moral agency” here is a red herring. It’s really the agency that matters. We have to use different mitigation strategies vs. risk factors that have agency and those that do not.

          • Virbie says:

            Sure I agree, the “moral” part is just a distraction. I’m saying that I don’t see why the concept of agency should change the calculation much.

            > This is true in a way that is not true of terrorist risk, because whatever my choices, the terrorists will still be looking to kill me.

            I think the idea is generally not that we should completely ignore the existence of people who want to kill us: it’s that we should work on longer-term solutions to “making people not want to kill us” without hysterically overreacting and shooting ourselves in the foot with short-term reactions to the ones that do manage to kill us, at rates lower than bathtubs.

            It’s fundamentally an argument against the kind of Code Red, emergency-action-over-careful-consideration thinking that has characterized the political discussion around terrorism in the recent past.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            The response I usually have to this touches on the point hls2003 and others are making:

            If I announce that I will spend no more than $1M next year addressing lightning strikes, lightning will not plan to strike people in ways that get around my expenditures. If I announce that I will spend no more than $1M next year addressing terrorism, terrorists will plan attacks that bypass my expenditures.

            That terrorists possess agency is absolutely key, particularly when the manner of addressing the threat is complex enough that the primary indication of impact ends up being how much you’re spending on it.

            This has failure modes, of course. I could spend $1M on lightning strikes one year and $2M the next, and have lesser effect because I spent that $2M foolishly. So money spent ends up being a placeholder for assessing effect, only because we don’t know or don’t understand how it’s being spent.

            Agency is key in how you spend that money, too. As hls2003 points out, you don’t have to worry about whether some of your money should be spent on deterring lightning; you know that’s useless*, so you focus on fewer measures. With terrorism, however, you might get more effect by focusing on physical measures like you would for lightning or bathtubs, or you might get more from psy-ops, propaganda, foreign aid, etc.; moreover, you now have to consider spending resources on figuring out which method is most likely to be most effective.

            *as of 1750 AD or so

          • Kevin C. says:

            @HeelBearCub

            This is true in a way that is not true of terrorist risk, because whatever my choices, the terrorists will still be looking to kill me.

            I’m not sure that the “whatever your choices” bit is true, because you could choose to convert to Islam, after all.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Kevin C:
            And that is going to stop me from being killed by an Islamic terrorist how?

            Is suppose if I converted to Islam and then moved to their territory and joined their jihadi group it might lower the odds of being killed at their hands (although I kind of doubt it), but it would significantly raise the probability that I was killed due to their actions.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @HeelBearCub

            And that is going to stop me from being killed by an Islamic terrorist how?

            Well, you said that they’d “still be looking to kill you” regardless of your choices. I pointed out a choice that would get them to stop looking to kill you. Whether you might end up “collateral damage” instead is a different matter.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Kevin C:
            Being Muslim doesn’t untarget me.

            If I am Muslim and in the line of fire of the terrorist attack, I’m still just as targeted and still just as dead. Because they are targeting random people in the target country.

          • Anonymous says:

            If I am Muslim and in the line of fire of the terrorist attack, I’m still just as targeted and still just as dead. Because they are targeting random people in the target country.

            Well, maybe if you put on Arabic Muslim attire, grow a long beard, they will hesitate before pulling the trigger.

          • Bintchaos keeps talking about the importance of Ibn Taymiyyah. One of his controversial views was support for jihad against other Muslims.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Yeah, pretty much.

            I’m all for safer bathtubs and so forth, by the way. But I don’t know how much you can really do in that area. One big innovation is those little mats, but they’re sold separately and not everyone has them. I guess you could make them a mandatory inclusion, but they’re kind of painful to stand on; I didn’t really respect them until I fell in the bath myself (luckily I was fine, as I grabbed onto a railing. Said railing had to be re-drilled into the wall, but oh well).

            So that’s a lot of personal stories but the point is: terrorism seems like one of those things you can actually do something about. I accept the risk of falling over in a bathtub, as a risk of taking baths. Ditto for car accidents, as a risk of having cars. What I see a lot of people arguing is that you should accept the risk of terrorism, as a risk of living in a big city (I think Sadiq Khan has said something similar to this, so hopefully I’m not making that up). You can also make your own argument that you should accept the risk of terrorism, as a risk of living with a lot of Muslims – blaming it on US foreign policy optional. But the first argument is kind of BS, and the second argument seems to lead to a lot of people saying “well I don’t want to accept that risk, so I don’t want to live with a lot of Muslims”, which is not exactly what the users of this argument are going for.

          • Aapje says:

            You could simply ban/heavily tax tubs, to make people use showers, which are safer and use less water.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @AnonYEmous:

            But I don’t know how much you can really do in that area

            A hard surface, which becomes slick when wet and soapy, is not level, with lots of hard edges which requires traversing a high lip to exit? You don’t think a different design could make that much safer?

            Now, of course there are trade-offs, consumer choice, etc. But, the market perhaps has built a better mouse trap.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            A hard surface, which becomes slick when wet and soapy, is not level, with lots of hard edges which requires traversing a high lip to exit? You don’t think a different design could make that much safer?

            Yeah, that’s a fair point, and now that I think one of my house’s showers has a very similar design. But obviously that design is only practical for showering – I think the article is trying to sell it as a design for bathing, but I’m extremely skeptical of that. At the very least it should take a lot more time and water to fill up, and besides you don’t have much risk of falling in a bath. Then again, most people don’t take baths these days, so there is some room for improvement I guess.

          • beleester says:

            @AnonYEmous: My bathtub has a rough, grippy surface on the bottom of the tub so you don’t need to use a bath mat – the bath mat is basically part of the bottom of the tub. It’s a pretty elegant solution.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            I feel like if the barbarians are through the gates, and blowing you up, and your response is to fixate on your bathroom, or Nerfing IKEA…

            …maybe your civilization deserves to be destroyed.

            (Hey, what do we know about Roman baths in the first half of the fifth century? Were there any changes to their bathtub-related liability law (lex solium)? David Freidman, I’m looking at you.)

        • hls2003 says:

          First, I didn’t say bathtubs have no “moral” agency. I said they have no agency. I agree that “moral” agency would not be relevant to this discussion – which is why I never said it.

          Bathtubs are not conscious. They do not strategize. They cannot be deterred, frightened, encouraged, convinced, or coerced. They do not change tactics in response to defenses. Terrorists, on the other hand, are agents for whom all the above are true.

          That difference is why they are treated differently. In extremis if you decide that you will no longer spend any resources combating terrorism – zero intelligence, security, military, or financial resources – then you could rationally expect (or at least would not be surprised) if your deaths from terrorism increased significantly year-over-year, and perhaps at an accelerating clip as terrorists are emboldened by success. If, on the other hand, you decide that you will no longer spend any resources combating bathtub deaths, you would expect perhaps a very small one-time increase in deaths (maybe cutting PSAs to old folks and mandatory shower bars collectively increase deaths by, say, 10%), which then stabilizes at a new normal. There is no chance of feedback effects with bathtubs. There is with terrorism.

          We can argue about whether the resources spent on terrorism are excessive, or whether the chosen methods are efficient. I happen to think there is room for improvement in both fields. But arguing that terrorism is the same type of risk as bathtubs is wrong. They are separate types of risk because terrorism is responsive and bathtubs are not. It is rational to treat them differently.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      But then conservatives get triggered by liberals pointing out that, objectively speaking, terrorism causes fewer—far fewer—fatalities than many other risks that don’t receive anywhere near as much media coverage, so why is it such a big deal?

      IMO, one counter to this is that for most of Other Risk X (e.g., chairs, cars, anything found on r/OSHA), one can internally accommodate for it with “Just Don’t Be Stupid”. If I’m careful on my chair, drive safely, and follow the guidelines then I don’t have to worry about X.

      (This is admittedly naive in several cases, driving being a prime example. But it’s still psychologically effective. It lets folk rationalize it away as “Well I’m not Florida Man, so it won’t happen to me”.)

      With terrorism, the whole point is to make people paranoid about everyday activities. Its goal is to be the proverbial Spanish Inquisition so that it can’t be preaccounted for. You can’t exactly say “Well I’m not stupid, so I won’t get suicide bombed”. The lack of individual agency in prevention contributes to its effectiveness. (Constant Vigilance is pretty high cognitive load, prone to stereotyping, and degrades (or at least is indicative of degraded) societal trust levels so I don’t really think the concealed carry badass solution is a good one.)

      • Brad says:

        Why can being killed by a drunk driver plowing into a crowded sidewalk be rationalized as stupid victims, but being killed by an Islamic terrorist plowing into a crowded sidewalk, not?

        • John Schilling says:

          It can’t, which is why drunk driving has provoked a large-scale societal response complete with government intervention, punitive sanctions, hamfisted social interventions, and general stupidity of the sort often seen with e.g. responses to terrorism. Fortunately, there’s no particular ethnic group we can pin as being responsible for most drunk driving, so the “us vs. them” aspect isn’t as bad as it is w/re terrorism.

          • Virbie says:

            There’s no ethnic group, but it is a little odd that the behavior of drinking, or drinking heavily, hasn’t been demonized more (given that the Temperance movement predates the heyday of drunk-driving fervor by many decades). It’s not like there isn’t precedent for doing so with other things: try telling someone in polite society that you tried (the far safer) LSD, or that you smoked weed (if it was 10 years ago and outside of CA).

            I drink fairly often socially, but I’m not really a fan of it as a drug, and if there were substantially more social pressure around the act of drinking I’d probably rarely drink; much like the fact that weed would definitely appeal to a LOT more people if it weren’t for the stigma around it applying constant gentle pressure in the other direction.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I blame college kids and boomers who don’t want to give up their “sex drugs and rock and roll”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Virbie:
            I think that, like sex, there is both encouragement to, and simultaneous pressure not to, drink heavily.

            For example, not being able to “handle” drinking heavily is treated with a fair amount of social disapprobation. You are supposed to be able to drink a lot, but not be “sloppy” drunk.

          • Virbie says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Oh absolutely. I used to drink like crazy in college, when I was more susceptible to those kind of social forces. The fact that I have a high tolerance only reinforced my willingness to participate in getting some easy social status.

            To get back to the point, I don’t think that what you’re describing is exogenous to what I’m talking about. The fact that there’s a culture around drinking that normalizes and even lionizes it is dependent on the fact that it’s not demonized. You can see the same thing with weed in the places where subcultures that accepted it were allowed to grow big enough. I was born and raised in CA so this is something I have experience with too: it’s never even occurred to me that I might get in trouble for smoking weed, including in public parks etc.

          • John Schilling says:

            There’s no ethnic group, but it is a little odd that the behavior of drinking, or drinking heavily, hasn’t been demonized more (given that the Temperance movement predates the heyday of drunk-driving fervor by many decades).

            The Temperance movement was also allowed to demonize the behavior of drinking to the point of making it illegal. This is perceived to have ended Very Badly, and not in an “OK, we wen’t just a little too far” sense.

            Until this is forgotten, the “correct” level of demonization for heavy drinking in the United States is going to be roughly midway between pre-MADD three-martini lunches and Prohibition.

            The War on Drugs not being regarded as so obviously a failure as Prohibition, there’s no upper limit to the acceptable demonization of non-alcohol-and-tobacco drug use.

      • Kevin C. says:

        You can’t exactly say “Well I’m not stupid, so I won’t get suicide bombed”.

        True, but I would note that suicide bombers aren’t exactly indiscriminate in their choice of targets. I recall an exchange in the comments at Rod Dreher’s where one commenter said “Islamic Terrorists would never try this in blue collar or rural Ohio, Michigan or Pennsylvania” (of course, meaning this in terms of terrorists willingness to face “tough, manly, Real American Men™” versus “effete urban liberal Pajama Boys”), and Ken’ichi replied with “Perhaps, but more likely because not much in the way of the sort of highly-visible targets they like.” One can choose to live and work in areas that are devoid of the sort of big, showy targets suicide bombers prefer, and greatly minimize one’s risk. (In fact, since several of my fellow right-wingers have pointed out that it’s primarily more our folk living in the “low targeting risk” areas, and lefty folk concentrated near likely targets, I’ve considered adjusting my positions on Muslim immigration and “terrorism is just a risk that we all have to accept and live with”.)

        • The Nybbler says:

          I’ve considered adjusting my positions on Muslim immigration and “terrorism is just a risk that we all have to accept and live with”

          Hey, I’m working in Times Square.

        • Matt M says:

          I’ve always been amazed that this never works in reverse. i.e. 9/11 didn’t really lead to any significant amount of New Yorkers suddenly converting to red tribe (even if only for foreign policy purposes).

          Like, the people who are most plausibly likely to benefit from things like “extreme vetting” or other measures designed to reduce terrorism are the people living in Manhattan and Washington, DC. In other words, the people who voted against Trump 10:1.

          • Virbie says:

            It seems facile to me to say that those people are somehow more principled on average or something; Does anyone have an alternative explanation?

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I have a couple, hopefully in line with your urge to not be facile.

            One is good ol’ institutional inertia; people tend to vote the way their parents voted, and even terrorism won’t flip that generational trend. This isn’t for nothing; people vote the way their parents do because of several supporting arguments shared among their family, and those arguments don’t just go away because of one incident.

            Another is that it did flip a few New Yorkers even so. I recall numerous stories of people joining the armed forces on 9/12, for example. And the most common definition I’ve heard for “neocon” is “liberal who’d been mugged by 9/11”.

          • Brad says:

            @Paul Brinkley

            And the most common definition I’ve heard for “neocon” is “liberal who’d been mugged by 9/11”.

            That’s pretty anachronistic.

            @Matt M

            Like, the people who are most plausibly likely to benefit from things like “extreme vetting” or other measures designed to reduce terrorism are the people living in Manhattan and Washington, DC. In other words, the people who voted against Trump 10:1.

            I think it is much more plausible to expect to see a shift in the political positions of the tribe than a mass exodus to the other tribe. The politics aren’t fundamental to the tribe identity, they are contingent.

            And indeed you did see some of that. The NYPD has been pretty aggressive in anti-terrorism tactics, and gotten relatively little pushback. Not none, the ACLU keeps litigating, but not too much. On the national level there were lots of Democrats that supported the Patriot Act.

            As for extreme vetting and Trump you are begging the question.

          • Nornagest says:

            On the national level there were lots of Democrats that supported the Patriot Act.

            I think this stumbles on the timing of that particular bit of tribalization. On 10 September 2001, terrorism wasn’t really on the national agenda — it happened, it made the news, there were people trying to stop it, but doing so was an operational question within the global security space, kinda like how who exactly gets to give a speech on campus was, two years ago, an operational question within the academic space. On 12 September 2001, everyone wanted to stop terrorism but there was little clarity on how to do so.

            It’s easy to forget now that we’re all tired of the wars he started, but George W. Bush was a hugely popular guy when the Patriot Act passed. There was certainly some pushback from a few people further out on the left and the libertarian right, but not a lot; there was a real prospect of the changes it started becoming part of the new normal of politics, as indeed they did in Britain. I think the only reason they didn’t is because the Iraq War was sold largely on counterterrorism grounds, and so counterterrorism tactics — any counterterrorism tactics — were tarred by association.

          • hls2003 says:

            It strikes me that an interesting thought experiment would be an executive order abolishing travel restrictions, refugee restrictions, and “vetting” (whether extreme or not) but barring any entrants under the new order from settling in any city with a population density less than 10,000 per square mile. Who loses? Urban areas are blue islands, who presumably would welcome the relaxed restrictions; Trump supporters opposing the newcomers reside very predominantly outside urban areas. Even the Red Stater argument that potential terrorists might strike outside their neighborhoods doesn’t do much; terrorism as a tactic only works well in areas of concentrated population. The London Bridge or Nice attacks don’t work on a country road.

          • Nornagest says:

            Impossible to enforce without draconian internal travel restrictions.

          • The obvious explanation is that they don’t believe that those policies make terrorism significantly less likely.

    • hlynkacg says:

      I think the huge glaring difference that the “Terrorism vs Chairs” comparison misses is that furniture isn’t going to up it’s game after failing to kill you the first time around. This makes it easy to judge the cost/benefit of defending against chair related deaths. If you’re worried about earthquakes, you build sturdier buildings. It’s not like a fault-line isn’t going shift tactics or move to a new location with softer targets.

      Terrorists on the other hand, if denied the opportunity to blow up parliament, will happily settle for blowing up a rock concert. That makes them a lot scarier than furniture or fault-lines.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        But what reason is the to believe that the terrorists can up their game? Disregarding frequency, the scale of terrorism in the West seems to be decreasing, not increasing.

        • Nornagest says:

          Not sure. There’s been nothing on the scale of 9/11, but that was such an outlier in so many ways that it invites overfitting just by existing.

          I think the Madrid bombings were the most lethal attack in the West since, but the 2015 Paris attacks were within spitting distance of those.

        • hlynkacg says:

          what reason is the to believe that the terrorists can up their game?

          Terrorists have upped thier game in the past and I see no reason to believe that they wont be able to do so in the future. Terrorists are human and humans have a demonstrated knack for adaptation and creativity.

          Heck, I’m reasonably confident I could wreak considerable havoc if I were so inclined with the modest resources I have on hand, never mind a few reliable accomplices and a wealthy patron.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            I think people smart enough to kill more than 20 people and dumb enough to do it are quite rare. Certainly I am neither.

        • Aapje says:

          But what reason is the to believe that the terrorists can up their game?

          1. Muslims are radicalizing world wide.
          2. The number of Muslims in the West is increasing.

          One would logically expect more attacks in the future unless we change these trends.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            This is going to sound like PC special pleading but… citation needed for number 1. I know it’s obvious, but is it true? Particularly since 2 cuts against it.

          • Aapje says:

            At the very least, we can see that many Muslim countries were far less orthodox in say, the 70’s. We also have surveys that show substantial negative changes in Indonesia (see page 94).

            Also, 2 doesn’t really matter much here, since the number of Muslims in the West is just a fraction of the total number of Muslims.

    • bintchaos says:

      Dr. Taleb also said that IS is anti fragile.
      And then deleted the tweet. 🙂

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Hate crimes kill extremely few people. I mean, what are the chances of a black man being lynched in modern day America? Therefore, if a black man is lynched, we should ignore it because I mean, come on your chances of being lynched are way, way, way less than your chances of dying from a lightening strike. Who cares if there’s a random black man swinging by his neck from a tree? That’s just part and parcel of living in a modern society.

      We treat both hate crimes and terrorism differently from other crimes because the target is not just the victim, but the society itself. If your neighbor is killed by his business partner over a business dispute, well that sucks, but it’s not any threat to you. You’re not in business with that guy. The murderer is in jail and what’s done is done.

      If your neighbor is killed indiscriminately because of his race, that’s a big problem for you. Even if you’re not of his same race, because the kind of people who would kill him for his race are the same kinds of people who would kill you for being opposed to the killing of people of your neighbor’s race.

      Terrorism is not just an attack on the people who are killed. It’s an attack on the entire society they inhabit. It destroys trust between members of that society.

      • Virbie says:

        > Hate crimes kill extremely few people. I mean, what are the chances of a black man being lynched in modern day America? Therefore, if a black man is lynched, we should ignore it because I mean, come on your chances of being lynched are way, way, way less than your chances of dying from a lightening strike. Who cares if there’s a random black man swinging by his neck from a tree? That’s just part and parcel of living in a modern society.

        Meh, this analogy would make sense if lynching and hate crimes were rare occurrences coincided with complete equality of treatment for black Americans overall. Lynching was one of the most monstrous forms of the same phenomenon manifesting all the way down the spectrum of severity (i.e, all of the rest of the ways that black Americans were treated).

        Alternatively, if terrorists were doing everything from large attacks to beating up individuals to moving your furniture so you stub your toe, with correspondingly increasing frequency respectively, then yea, the average person _should_ be worried, since the probability of some sort of victimization would be so much higher (not to mention the unavoidable secondary effects on everyday life, as with the hate crimes example).

      • pontifex says:

        I was going to post exactly this. If there was a school shooting and I posted about how chairs kill more high schoolers than school shootings every year, people would look at me like I was a monster. And yet we give the same rhetoric a free pass when people wave it around regarding terrorism.

        Terrorism always has a goal of persuading people to do something (not publish cartoons of Mohammed, not admit to being gay, etc. etc.). It’s worth spending a lot to minimize terrorism to avoid the chilling effects that terrorism is designed to create. It’s not about an insurance-company style calculation of deaths over time.

        • rlms says:

          “people would look at me like I was a monster.”
          Would they? The swimming pool meme is pretty common.

    • Well... says:

      And there’s really no good answer to this

      Sure there is. You sort of hinted at it.

      Think about all that other bad stuff we’re mockingly told is more deadly than terrorism: car accidents, shark attacks, cancer, etc. Any sure step the US could take to drastically reduce these things–starting tomorrow–would instantly lead to potential run-ins with the Constitution and our national ethics:

      -Want to drastically reduce car accidents? Make the driver’s test so hard that only 1% of the very best drivers can pass it, and beef penalties for moving violations way up.
      -Want to drastically reduce shark attacks? Make swimming in US-controlled ocean waters illegal.
      -Want to drastically reduce death from cancer? Make cancer screenings mandatory, punishable with jail time.

      But to reduce what appears to be Islamic terrorism, just cut way back on immigration and visas by people from Islamic countries.* America is well within its rights to do something like that. Nobody is owed the right to come here.

      It’s the “if you find yourself in a hole stop digging” principle.

      *Yes, I know Islamic terrorism is often committed by people who were born here, but we can prevent the next wave by keeping out their parents.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Right. If you accept two statements as true:

        1. For every additional Muslim, there is a higher chance of terrorism

        2. No one has a right to immigrate to the US

        Then reducing the number of Muslim migrants is just common sense. No one’s rights are being trampled on, we reduce the risk of terrorism and we can even give the spot to some other person who is significantly less likely to cause us harm. If we don’t discriminate against Muslims now, then we could put ourself in a position in the future where we do have to make difficult decisions.

        • Well... says:

          Yes, I accept both statements as true.

          If we don’t discriminate against Muslims now, then we could put ourself in a position in the future where we do have to make difficult decisions.

          Yes. This is something very important not many people understand. There is a pattern to how societies and cultures develop when they’re subjected to continually higher threats from terrorism. The direction of that development is not what the typical pro-immigration person would probably like.

          I’m very low on epistemic certainty lately and this has pushed me toward the center in many ways, but this is one issue where I think one whole side of the debate is dead wrong and being terribly short-sighted about it.

          • Aapje says:

            Exactly.

            The irony is that my rights are being hollowed out to fight terrorism, while I’m being told that preventing terrorism in the first place is violating human rights.

          • There is a pattern to how societies and cultures develop when they’re subjected to continually higher threats from terrorism.

            There is a depressing but well written alternate history series by S.M. Stirling in which a high functioning slave society starts in southern Africa and eventually conquers the world. At one point, it controls Eurasia, America is free. The U.S. has a more innovative, flexible society, which the bad guys recognize as an advantage. So they harass it in ways that push it into defending itself in ways that make it a more closed, less innovative society.

            I am reluctant to recommend the books–the first one is Marching Through Georgia–because I found a convincing portrayal of an evil society that worked well depressing. But that’s my fault, not the author’s.

            Peshawar Lancers, on the other hand, by the same author, was great fun. Alternate history with implied references to Burroughs’ Mars novels, Kim, Flashman, … .

          • Well... says:

            @David Friedman,

            We’re often told that the terrorists’ goal is to get us to clam up and be less free, and that when we do things like restrict Muslim immigration into our lands we are playing into their strategy.

            Can you explain why you find this argument convincing? I used to believe it but no longer do.

            (PS. To echo Wrong Species, below, I also want to point out that I don’t support a complete Muslim ban–but not for the same reasons as him. I do support greater restriction on immigration across the board though. It’s one of the few issues anymore where I have a strong position on one side or the other.)

          • Jiro says:

            The argument is sophistry and is another case of “you should do something (stop fighting terrorism) that straightforwardly seems like it would harm you and help me”, which is usually motivated reasoning or concern trolling.

            Terrorists’ goal is to take away specific types of freedom from us, not to “take away freedom” in general. The freedom you lose from anti-terrorism measures is not the same type of freedom that the terrorists are trying to take away (unless you’re fighting terrorism by banning criticism of Islam, forcing women to wear burqas, etc.)

          • We’re often told that the terrorists’ goal is to get us to clam up and be less free, and that when we do things like restrict Muslim immigration into our lands we are playing into their strategy.

            Can you explain why you find this argument convincing? I used to believe it but no longer do.

            I made no claim about the motives of the terrorists. For the argument to work in the form you offered it, one would have to assume that the terrorists believe that being free is a strength, hence want us to stop it.

            The version of the argument I have seen is that if western countries are hostile to Islam, that will reduce the tendency of Muslim immigrants to acculturate into western values, and the terrorists see that, naturally enough, as a good thing. That seems plausible enough, but I don’t know if it is true.

          • Well... says:

            @David Friedman:

            I’m unfamiliar with that version of the argument, but it doesn’t seem plausible anyway. Terrorist recruiting appears to be pretty strong in Western countries that put lots of effort into not being hostile to Muslim immigrants. The Wikipedia list of Islamist terrorist attacks, if you mentally filter out non-Western countries and Israel, includes lots of entries from France, Germany, the UK, and some from the US and Scandinavia. There are a few from Russia, but aside from that I don’t see any from Western countries known to be relatively hostile to Muslim immigrants, such as Poland or the Czech Republic.

            It’s not a perfect data set, I know–Canada is pretty welcoming and only has 2 entries, so population size is probably a factor–but the argument as you’ve stated it still seems unlikely to be true.

          • rlms says:

            @Well…
            What is your point about population size?

          • Well... says:

            @rims:

            Basically that it’s a confound. (Along with geographic location, which I should also have mentioned.) So for example, Iceland is a small, fairly socially liberal country whose attitude toward Muslim immigrants is likely to be much more welcoming than, say, Russia’s. Yet Russia has suffered more Islamic terrorism because there are simply way more Muslims who wind up in Russia, due to Russia’s size and its proximity–and connectedness by land–to Muslim countries.

          • rlms says:

            @Well…
            But Canada has a large population (and a reasonable proportion of Muslims), yet few terrorist attacks.

          • Well... says:

            @rims:

            Is Canada an outlier? Seems like it to me.

          • rlms says:

            @Well…
            Maybe, but an outlier in a sample size this small is significant. But I don’t think it actually is an outlier. Canada has experienced two small attacks, one of which falls towards the mental illness side of the mental-illness/ideology spectrum. But Sweden has also only had two, and the population sizes aren’t that different.

            More pertinently, Norway and Austria haven’t had any Islamist terrorist attacks (even though Austria is 7% Muslim), and Spain has only had one (despite having almost twice as many Muslims as Canada). I think a better model is that Western countries have similar proportions of Islamists. Poland and the Czech Republic have an order of magnitude fewer Muslims than any of the countries that have experienced attacks, so we would expect an order of magnitude fewer attacks (an amount which is basically zero on a timescale of decades). The only outlier is France, which has loads.

          • dndnrsn says:

            You can’t compare the Muslim populations of Canada and the US to Muslim populations in Europe. For one thing, selection is completely different. For another, Canada and the US are markedly better at integrating immigrants than European countries.

            Further, compared to the US, Canada is not Target #1 as the US would be (eg, 9/11), and for stuff akin to the Pulse shooting, that’s harder in Canada, because our firearms restrictions are much stronger.

          • rlms says:

            @dndnrsn
            Statistically you can. Here are figures of terrorist attacks since 9/11 per 100,000 Muslims in a variety of countries (figures from that Wikipedia page and pages titled “Islam in [x]”):

            Canada: 0.20
            US: 0.33
            UK: 0.18
            Sweden: 0.33
            Germany: 0.11
            Spain: 0.05
            Denmark: 0.4
            Belgium: 0.1
            France: 0.34
            (contrary to the impression I had before, France don’t actually have a particularly high rate of attacks)

            So the US and Canada are well within the normal range, and actually towards the high end.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @rlms

            That 0.2 number has more to do with Canada’s relatively small number of Muslims than any serious threat of Muslim terrorism in Canada. There have been two attacks, which have caused two fatalities and four injuries, not including the perpetrator of one of the attacks. One attack was committed by a Quebecois convert, the other by a half-Libyan half-Quebecois convert – so it’s barely even to do with immigration.

            Number of dead is a better indicator of threat than number of attacks, because it helps separate the kind of attacks Canada has seen from well-organized, supported, high-body-count attacks.

            Would you say that the UK has a smaller problem with Muslim radical terrorism than Canada does?

          • rlms says:

            @dndnrsn
            I agree that number of attacks can be misleading, but using number of deaths can be too, as it places basically no weight on small attacks. Canada might have less of a terrorist problem than France, but I don’t think it is 25 times better as number of deaths would suggest. Using that metric also suggests Spain is twice as bad as France, which I don’t think is correct. It is also very sensitive to whether attacks succeed or fail, due to how infrequent they are. If the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu attack had been similarly successful as other car ramming attacks, it would have killed several times as many people and Canada’s figure would be a lot higher. The same applies to the 2010 Stockholm bombings, but the opposite applies to attacks that kill a lot of people.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @rlms:

            Overall, though, Canada doesn’t seem to have a problem of anything like the sort some European countries do. There have been foiled terror plots here, but I think it’s notable that the two attacks there have been, have been lone self-radicalized guys, neither raised Muslim. It’s also interesting that both seemed to have targeted military personnel, over attempting to maximize casualties by attacking civilian targets. Terrorism against Muslims has a higher death count than terrorism by Muslims as far as Canada is concerned.

          • John Schilling says:

            Terrorism is a strategy people resort to when they(*) don’t think they can win their wars by more conventional means. We may imagine that the Islamists imagine their armies eventually conquering the whole of the Earth, and that’s probably true of some of them, but the invasion of e.g. Canada is I think way, way down on their to-do list.

            The wars Islamists are having trouble winning today are basically, A: kicking the Jews out of “Palestine”, B: kicking the Hindus out of Jammu and Kashmir, and C: not getting kicked out of what bits of Syria and Iraq they still hold. So the targets of Islamic terrorism are going to be a weighted average of A: whoever is seen as waging war against Islam in Palestine, India, Syria, and Iraq and B: whatever is convenient to Islamic wannabe terrorists.

            By virtue of their liberal immigration and asylum policies, Canada and Sweden are convenient to lots of Islamic wannabe terrorists, but they are only weakly involved in waging any war Islamists care about. The US, UK, and France, are the ones bombing ISIS in I and S, and the US in particular has been seen as Israel’s protector for generations. So, Islamic terrorism even if it’s not quite as convenient. Also in Russia and India, but meh, nobody here much cares about those two.

            * Or more precisely the armies and insurgents they see as fighting on their behalf, as it usually isn’t the same individual persons pursuing the different strategies.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @John Schilling:

            Are Canada’s immigration and refugee policies that liberal? Most immigrants get in by a pretty demanding points system, and the rest are either family reunification or refugees, and the refugee system is a weird public/private hybrid that seems to select for people who would do OK in Canada anyway.

          • rlms says:

            @John Schilling
            There are two overlapping clusters: terrorism as a strategy, and terrorism as an activity for young male often-mentally-ill petty criminals who have been influenced by propaganda. I think that a lot of attacks by Western Islamists currently fall more in the second cluster. That means they will happen in proportion to the number of people who fit that profile in a country, rather based on each country’s foreign policy. Countries with anti-Islamist foreign policy should have more large organised attacks. I don’t know the extent to which that happens. It definitely applies to the UK, but the post-9/11 large attacks in the US (Boston bombings, Pulse shooting) weren’t very political, France is a mixed bag, and Spain had a very large organised attack without foreign policy to trigger it.

          • Aapje says:

            @rlms

            The UK has/had a pro-Islamist policy.

            UK policy is/was that Islamist extremists could openly do their thing, as long as they didn’t attack the UK or its allies.

          • John Schilling says:

            UK policy is/was that Islamist extremists could openly do their thing, as long as they didn’t attack the UK or its allies.

            Cite?

        • Wrong Species says:

          I should point out that I actually don’t support a Muslim ban. The main reason is that I do take the idea of duties towards refugees seriously. If we let in 10,000 refugees, that could raise our chances of a terrorist attack but that’s also 10,000 people who’s lives are measurablely better off. And 10,000 people is not a large number compared to the population of the US.

          There’s also the issue of uncertainty. I do believe that terrorism and Islam are connected right now but it’s not like it’s a guarantee. Islamic terrorism only became an issue in the 80’s and only started ramping up in the last couple decades. Who’s to say the issue won’t go away 20 years from now?

          • Kevin C. says:

            Islamic terrorism only became an issue in the 80’s and only started ramping up in the last couple decades. Who’s to say the issue won’t go away 20 years from now?

            “Terrorism”, perhaps, but are you familiar with, say, the Barbary Wars? “The shores of Tripoli”? Or how about the Fall of Constantinople? The Umayyad conquest of Hispania? As one infamous far-Rightist has repeatedly put it:

            For well over a thousand years many kingdoms, nations, peoples, cultures, religions, tribes, and armed religions, have sought to coexist with Islam. None have succeeded. We will not be the first.

          • For well over a thousand years many kingdoms, nations, peoples, cultures, religions, tribes, and armed religions, have sought to coexist with Islam. None have succeeded. We will not be the first.

            That simply isn’t true. Judaism is a religion and a culture, and it coexisted with Islam for more than a thousand years. There were some conflicts at the beginning and at the very end, but on the whole Islam was more tolerant of Jews than Christianity. Consider the contrast between Muslim Spain and Christian Spain.

          • rlms says:

            @Kevin C.
            David Friedman has provided some counterexamples. For more, see modern-day Albania, Senegal, and several of the *stans; and the Mughal Empire historically. Those meet the standard of being more tolerant than comparable non-Muslim countries (Albania hasn’t had a Srebrenica). If you just want the standard of as tolerant as comparable non-Muslim countries, the examples you give meet it! If we’re going to judge the peacefulness of Christianity based on religious violence in 16th/17th century, it won’t look very good either.

          • Aapje says:

            @Wrong Species

            If we let in 10,000 refugees, that could raise our chances of a terrorist attack but that’s also 10,000 people who’s lives are measurablely better off. And 10,000 people is not a large number compared to the population of the US.

            10,000 people is also not a major number compared to the total number of Syrian refugees (UNHCR registered 4,863,684).

            That 10,000 is not even close to making any real impact, so it’s pure virtue signalling.

            Islamic terrorism only became an issue in the 80’s and only started ramping up in the last couple decades. Who’s to say the issue won’t go away 20 years from now?

            Salafism is on the rise world wide. Do you have a plan to reduce this or are you simply hoping that the trend reverses? If it doesn’t, then what do you do?

          • bintchaos says:

            Do you see the logic flaw in all your muslim ban arguments?
            Lets suppose there is a muslim ban, and also all muslims are deported– down to 3rd or 4th generation. Outlaw Islam, make Quran illegal, etc.
            So what happens to US overseas interests and allies that are still exposed to attacks in situ?
            Any crack-down on US muslims will destabilize our pals al Salool (House Saud) and Sisi and King Abdullah.
            So your muslim ban might reduce terror events in US (much like RU genocide of ~250,000 chechan muslims did temporarily) but the energy will get pushed off to MENA and Africa into attacks on US allies and interests.
            mw there are ~23 million refugees, half of which are children. There are a projected 1 billion youth in Africa by 2050, mostly Sunni muslim. A depthless pool of recruits for emergent Islamic insurgencies.

            Also, how do you stop recruitment of non-muslim US youth by conversion to Islam? its impossible to reduce US terror events to 0. Did you know US has given up on CVE? there is no counter-narrative under the initial condition of US interventionism and injustice. “secular democracy” is not competitive in dar ul Islam.

          • The Nybbler says:

            So what happens to US overseas interests and allies that are still exposed to attacks in situ?

            They either expel their Muslims too, or are subject to attacks. Note that this is true _regardless_ of whether the US expels its Muslims, so it’s not an argument against expulsion.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Nybbler

            They either expel their Muslims too


            There would be no one left in KSA…whole country is muslim.
            Actually KSA has exported terrorists for 30 years…redirecting them to attack the West and funding them.
            And now this is what is KSA is doing–
            Destabilizing Indonesia

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Aapje

            That 10,000 is not even close to making any real impact,

            It does for those 10,000. It’s not all or nothing. As far as hoping the trend reverses, I’m not exactly counting on it but it’s more about uncertainty than completely changing my opinion. It probably won’t happen but considering how new Islamic terrorism is, it’s a factor we should consider.

            @Kevin C.

            I do think you’re right, although I’m not as fatalistic. Just because we solve the terrorism problem doesn’t mean everything is ok. I’m not convinced that Muslims can assimilate easy but that’s not that big of a problem as long as you keep their numbers as a percentage of the population small.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Wrong Species

            I’m not convinced that Muslims can assimilate easy but that’s not that big of a problem as long as you keep their numbers as a percentage of the population small.

            Two words: differential fertility.

            Also, what about when your country keeps them small as a percentage of its population, but a country next door becomes Muslim majority? And some sizeable chunk of that majority decides it’s time to once again expand the Dār al-Islam into the Dār al-Ḥarb? (Paging Charles the Hammer…)

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Kevin

            Pew estimates that Muslims will make up 2% of the population in the US by 2050. Of course, these are just projections which means they could be wrong but I think it’s more likely that fertility falls down than rises. Fertility in the Middle East has been falling for a few decades now and Muslims in the US are more susceptible to those trends. Of course, there’s the possibility that America gives up on its borders and people around the world just flood in. I do worry about that but it’s quite different than a population ballooning up to 10% despite minimal migration through high fertility rates.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            I’m sort of baffled by the idea that seems to be floating around that even a small Muslim population will eventually take over because Muslims are somehow culturally more fertile than non-Muslims.

            The total fertility rate for MENA was 5.96 in 1984 and 2.85 in 2014. That’s a drop of just over 2 kids per woman in a single generation. To put it in bintchaotic terms, we’re neglecting to discuss the decreasing fitness of Islamic ideology in the 21st century.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m sort of baffled by the idea that seems to be floating around that even a small Muslim population will eventually take over because Muslims are somehow culturally more fertile than non-Muslims.

            Because they are.

            The total fertility rate for MENA was 5.96 in 1984 and 2.85 in 2014. That’s a drop of just over 2 kids per woman in a single generation. To put it in bintchaotic terms, we’re neglecting to discuss the decreasing fitness of Islamic ideology in the 21st century.

            We’re not talking about Muslims in their homelands. We’re talking about Muslims in our lands.

          • Aapje says:

            Muslim fertility rates are dropping in Europe pretty fast. They won’t take over unless you have large scale migration.

          • Aapje says:

            @Wrong Species

            It does for those 10,000.

            Syrians can generally find safety in the vicinity of Syria, though. So the only thing that you are doing is taking a small group of third/second worlders and making them lottery winners.

            The main reason why the Syrians are not content to live in Turkey is because they were used to pretty decent living conditions and they lost a lot of that. However, they still tend to be better off than large groups of other people.

            You would probably do a lot more good if you were to take in 10,000 Dalit…

            And you won’t have a percentage of those Dalit commit terrorist acts.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Biblicalsausage

            the decreasing fitness of Islamic ideology in the 21st century.


            But that’s not true.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Aapje

            The entire country has the potential to become a war zone. Would you feel safe in the “safe” parts of Syria? As far as Turkey, the more other countries take in, the less Turkey has to do. If no one offered help, they would just refuse any more refugees after a certain point.

            However, we could make a deal with places like Saudi Arabia to take in refugees in exchange for some goodies.

          • Aapje says:

            @Wrong Species

            I favor paying the countries in the region (more) for taking in the refugees.

            I never talked about areas within Syria, so I’m not doing to defend what I didn’t claim.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Aapje

            For some reason, I read “vicinity” as the area within Syria, so that was my misunderstanding.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Wrong Species,

          what’s left out of your argument is possible costs. A high proportion of potential Muslim immigrants are harmless, productive people, and their children will be, too. (Citation needed, and may be more true in the US than Europe.)

          Not having these people adding to your society is a loss.

          And border constraints aren’t free.

          • Anonymous says:

            Not having these people adding to your society is a loss.

            You’re assuming they’re adding, not subtracting, or that they’re part of the native society in any appreciable sense.

          • The Nybbler says:

            what’s left out of your argument is possible costs. A high proportion of potential Muslim immigrants are harmless, productive people, and their children will be, too.

            But can we distinguish well enough (perhaps with “extreme vetting”) so that Muslim immigration will be a net benefit to the country? If not, then it doesn’t matter that a blanket ban shuts out some good people; on the net, the ban is as good as we can get.

          • Anonymous says:

            But can we distinguish well enough (perhaps with “extreme vetting”) so that Muslim immigration will be a net benefit to the country?

            Probably not. Japan already admits next to no-one, and monitors all its Muslim residents, and things like this still happen.

          • Randy M says:

            Thing is, though, we can make our own people.

          • Anonymous says:

            Thing is, though, we can make our own people.

            We’re sort of shit at it right now, though. (But that’s no reason to import alien replacements.)

          • But can we distinguish well enough (perhaps with “extreme vetting”) so that Muslim immigration will be a net benefit to the country?

            One point that hasn’t been introduced is the effect of generous subsidies to refugees/immigrants, as in the case of Germany.

            The simplest way of reducing the problems associated with Muslim immigration, especially in Europe, is what I believe is the Czech approach. Make immigration easy but provide no significant welfare benefits to the immigrants. People who want to come to work still come, become productive members of the society, and most put their energy into supporting themselves and their families, not blowing things up. Desperate refugees will still come–begging in Berlin is better than being massacred in Libya. But there is no longer a reason for people to come with the intention of living off of, and possibly subverting, the host society.

            During the period just before and after WWI, the U.S. was absorbing about a million immigrants a year into a population a third its present size. Under essentially those rules.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            Moreover, the Muslims themselves are morally considerable. Keeping out Muslim immigrants would damage the interests of those potential immigrants.

      • But to reduce what appears to be Islamic terrorism, just cut way back on immigration and visas by people from Islamic countries.

        That might reduce the amount of terrorism by amateur do-it-yourself terrorists. I don’t think it would have much effect on terrorism by competent terrorist groups, such as the 9/11 attack.

        The U.S. hosts over 70 million foreign tourists each year. How hard can it be for an organization with resources to slip a few of its operatives into that flood? Stolen passports from respectable western countries, including the U.S., sell for a few thousand dollars, so even if the U.S. refused to issue any visas at all terrorists could get in disguised as citizens.

        • John Schilling says:

          Stolen passports from respectable western countries, including the U.S., sell for a few thousand dollars, so even if the U.S. refused to issue any visas at all terrorists could get in disguised as citizens.

          Not by using stolen passports, they couldn’t. Have you noticed in your recent travels that US border guards don’t just look at the blue pamphlet and wave you past any more, they machine-read it? And then take your fingerprint?

          If the passport has been reported stolen, then when you try to cross the US border with it, the only part of the United States you get to see is the inside of a jail or prison. Same deal if your fingerprints don’t match the ones linked to the passport. And this is now true of most first-world nations.

          Stolen passports still have some uses, but illicitly entering first-world nations isn’t generally one of them.

          • Nornagest says:

            I wonder how accurate their fingerprint readers are. The ones I have experience with have an error rate of about 1 in 10,000, which sounds high for this application.

          • I had not noticed that. Interesting. But I still don’t see how, as a practical matter, you can keep a serious terrorist organization from getting a few operatives into the U.S.

          • bean says:

            I wonder how accurate their fingerprint readers are. The ones I have experience with have an error rate of about 1 in 10,000, which sounds high for this application.

            What sort of error? False rejects are fairly easily dealt with by re-scanning, and if necessary bringing in the CBP people to double-check. False accepts are a potential problem, but at 1 in 10,000 not a huge one. I certainly wouldn’t base a plan on those odds.

          • John Schilling says:

            @Nornagest: A false reject leads to secondary screening, where e.g. one border agent asks you detailed questions about your trip and a second calls the home and/or office of the person you are claiming to be. One per 10,000 isn’t too high for that.

            @David: Inserting NOC agents who can move freely in developed countries in the 21st century is hard enough that even Mossad can’t do it reliably without e.g. asking sympathetic foreign Jews for the temporary loan of their passports. There are obvious vulnerabilities in the United States, due to our economic addiction to illegal immigrant labor, but if the US goes Full Trump, then it does become genuinely hard for Al Qaeda to insert useful operatives.

          • Inserting NOC agents who can move freely in developed countries in the 21st century is hard enough that even Mossad can’t do it reliably without e.g. asking sympathetic foreign Jews for the temporary loan of their passports.

            This involves two problems–getting into the country and moving around in it. So far as the first is concerned, quite a lot illegal immigrants without the resources of al Quaeda or the equivalent manage it.

            So far as the second, I can not remember ever being asked for any ID more secure than a driving license while traveling within the U.S.. I don’t know how thorough the check of drivers’ licenses is for flying, but the random motel just looks at it, so the use of forged or stolen ones should be easy.

            So once you get into the U.S. with a reasonable amount of money, or a credit card, what keeps you from moving around freely?

          • Nornagest says:

            What sort of error?

            It’d be a false accept in this kind of scenario, or a misidentification if you’re comparing against multiple templates. False rejects are far more common (usually caused by fingers too dry or too wet; if it’s really severe the device will notice and refuse to generate a template, but it can also produce a bad one), and can usually be handled by wiping off the offending finger (if too wet) or rubbing it on something mildly oily like your forehead (if too dry) and trying again. You can reduce the false accept rate by looking for a closer match, but this quickly increases the false reject rate to levels that make it unusable in edge cases — it’s basically your average precision/recall tradeoff.

            Fingerprint readers really aren’t very good, although they’re way better than face recognition, which had something like a 1% misidentification rate when I was working around it. But if they’re being used as one element of a defense-in-depth strategy like John Schilling describes, they’re probably good enough.

            (Iris scanning is a lot more accurate, and it could actually be made cheaper — all you really need is a cellphone camera with an IR filter, and a few LEDs in the right spectrum for illumination. Not even a good cellphone camera. I don’t know why it hasn’t taken off outside the intelligence community — there was talk about using it for border security, years ago, but nothing’s come of it that I know of. Maybe it’s too cyberpunk-dystopian for people.)

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @David Friedman

            Remember that something like 2/3rds of illegal immigrants are Visa Overstays, which means they didn’t have to defeat any of our immigration and border security measures.

            Of the remainder, I know that as of the time I was getting out of the military/intelligence field (~2005) there was actually a fair amount of concern over the possibility of terrorists attempting to sneak over the mexican border, enough so that there was sufficient non-classified articles and such to generate plenty of lurid book and movie plots using just that conceit.

            I would be very surprised if the border patrol is not very aware of that particular threat, even if it’s relatively tough to control. However, exploiting that in order to launch a coordinated large-scale attack (getting, say, 15-30 jihadis with good enough fake IDs to pass muster for casual hotel purchases and the like, vehicles with plates that won’t get them pulled over, etc, etc) is the province of organized networks that have time to plan and practice and coordinate.

            As pointed out before, one of the things we’ve gotten pretty good at doing is using drones, SOF, and cooperation with other countries’ LE and Military assets to keep those networks disrupted. Mind you, I think if we took in, say, 500,000 refugees over the next few years, we would absolutely start having to worry about coordinated attacks again, at least for awhile, but that’s more a feature of deliberate bad actors rather than anything intrinsic to Islam.

            This is why I am sympathetic to the anti-refugee-immigration position while still arguing that more Muslim immigration in the context of our normal visa process is relatively safe (or at least incurs a manageable increase in the risk of lone wolf attacks).

          • Matt M says:

            However, exploiting that in order to launch a coordinated large-scale attack (getting, say, 15-30 jihadis with good enough fake IDs to pass muster for casual hotel purchases and the like, vehicles with plates that won’t get them pulled over, etc, etc) is the province of organized networks that have time to plan and practice and coordinate.

            You don’t need any of that if you have sympathetic co-conspirators already on the inside. They can stay in the radical imam’s basement. He can buy their groceries so they don’t have to go out. Whatever.

      • Anonymous says:

        *Yes, I know Islamic terrorism is often committed by people who were born here, but we can prevent the next wave by keeping out their parents.

        Those can also be dealt with by some combination of revoking citizenships, removing ius soli in favor of ius sanguinis, exile as a judicial punishment and expulsions.

        • tmk says:

          Revoking correctly granted citizenships, and exiling your own citizens is rather frowned upon in the modern world. Mostly because it creates a bunch of stateless people that you expect other countries to deal with. What would you think if Mexico declared some people no longer Mexican citizens and threw them in inflatables on the Rio Grande?

          • Anonymous says:

            Carry on as usual? It’s not like there are plenty of illegal migrants coming from over there already.

      • Yakimi says:

        But to reduce what appears to be Islamic terrorism, just cut way back on immigration and visas by people from Islamic countries.* America is well within its rights to do something like that. Nobody is owed the right to come here.

        It’s endlessly fascinating to me how this elegant and peaceful solution of keeping out populations known to produce hostile insurgents is far more horrifying to leftists, liberals, and conservatives alike than the option of invading and bombing same those populations in their own countries. Imagine all the lives that could have been saved, all the waste that could have been prevented, had the West simply filtered immigrants by religious origin after 9/11 instead of trying to turn Iraq into Switzerland.

        Yet this solution was never even on the table. Why?

        • Jugemu says:

          I think a lot of it is driven by the belief in the “Proposition Nation” – that nations are most fundamentally built on ideas, not people. That is, once the Constitution has declared various rights, and We The People have declared we believe in this and that, all we have to do is to get others to agree and then they will be just like us. This even sort of worked for different European groups immigrating to the US, but even there you can still find significant differences between the descendants of Borderers/Puritans/Quakers/etc (as pointed out in previous posts here). However, this doesn’t seem to be effective for all groups. Blacks still aren’t quite “assimilated” in the way that the Irish or Italians are. Muslims are still a bit up in the air in the US but aren’t doing well in Europe which seems like a bad sign.

          Also, because the US is already so ethnically mixed already, it’s difficult to exclude any particular group without opening up a can of worms about whether the existing mix is ideal or not.

        • rlms says:

          All the lives that could have been saved by filtering immigrants instead of invading Iraq come from second part. Deaths from terrorism are a rounding error in comparison to deaths from war, and deaths from Muslim immigrants to the US who arrived post-9/11 are even fewer (Orlando still happens, as do Fort Hood, half of San Bernardino, and the Beltway sniper attacks if you count them; these account for the majority of post-9/11 deaths from Islamist terrorism in the US). I don’t think you’ll find many leftists or liberals who oppose the Iraq part of your solution.

        • tmk says:

          Leftists and liberals liberals have criticizes foreign wars, bombings, etc. plenty. Conservatives who support said wars presumably think they prevented even more deaths that would have resulted from not intervening.

          • Yakimi says:

            I’m not saying liberals and leftists aren’t critical of military action. What I’m saying is that they are less critical of military action than they are of a discriminatory immigration ban, even though the harm incurred by the latter is far smaller than the former. In other words, the set of all progressives who supported the wars in the Middle East is larger than than the set of all progressives who would support an immigration ban. Many of the pundits and publications which came out in opposition to Trump’s temporary half-measure had been supporters of the Iraq War and would welcome his strike on Syria.

            I’ve tried discussing this disparity with leftists (not liberals) and they don’t really have an answer for it.

            Conservatives who support said wars presumably think they prevented even more deaths that would have resulted from not intervening.

            Right, but my point is that they didn’t think to consider calculating the effects of an immigration ban into their definition of “not intervening”.

          • 1soru1 says:

            > I’m saying is that they are less critical of military action than they are of a discriminatory immigration ban

            Those liberals (more leftists, really) who were supportive (or not totally opposed) to the invasion of Iraq did so under the belief that it might well be a net humanitarian benefit (and looking at Syria, that view is less obviously wrong than it seemed 10 years ago).

            If there was a semi-plausible claim that an Muslim immigration ban could save the lives of a million Muslims, and there were lots of prominent Muslims figures pleading for it to be put in place, then I’d imagine the politics would be similarly different.

      • rlms says:

        You are not accounting for the costs. Even if we take a selfish (and arguably evil) view that we don’t value Muslim immigrants at all, there are problems. A blanket ban on Muslims has economic costs, since you are losing all the Muslims with above average economic productivity. It plays into the hands of terrorists in supporting their narrative of an inevitable clash between Islam and the West. Even if you don’t regard that as intrinsically bad, it has negative effects: it increases the probability of both existing US Muslims and US non-Muslims committing terrorist attacks, and of non-US terrorist organisations trying to harm the US.

        • Anonymous says:

          A blanket ban on Muslims has economic costs, since you are losing all the Muslims with above average economic productivity.

          Is their sum total contribution positive or negative? If you use money into-budget/out-of-budget from Norway as a proxy, it doesn’t look all that good.

          Furthermore, is unemployment higher than friction? In which case a reduction of the workforce would be good for the natives.

          It plays into the hands of terrorists in supporting their narrative of an inevitable clash between Islam and the West.

          I would *hope* it’s inevitable, because the other option is becoming Muslims ourselves.

          Even if you don’t regard that as intrinsically bad, it has negative effects: it increases the probability of both existing US Muslims and US non-Muslims committing terrorist attacks, and of non-US terrorist organisations trying to harm the US.

          Which is only a problem if they are *able* to do harm. The current state is already that they are both able and willing. A change to willing but unable seems greatly better. (Never mind that reprisals of sufficient strength might actually reduce willingness.)

          • rlms says:

            The net contribution is irrelevant. The point is that with a blanket ban you remove the possibility of getting high quality immigrants. I think your table is irrelevant, regardless of whether it is about government income/expenditure or immigrants sending money back home. The former isn’t connected to economic value, and the latter is just another form of consumption.

            “I would *hope* it’s inevitable, because the other option is becoming Muslims ourselves.”
            Don’t be obtuse. The vast majority of interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims in Western countries are friendly and involve neither conversion nor violence. There is no sign of a trend away from this in most countries.

            “A change to willing but unable seems greatly better.”
            I presume you are talking about the latter part of my statement, because a Muslim ban has no effect on the former.

            Presumably you are saying that non-US terrorists have the ability to harm the US because they can immigrate. But preventing immigration doesn’t prevent ability to attack. A determined terrorist organisation can either get around an immigration ban in the same way as other illegal immigrants, focus their efforts on recruiting existing US citizens, or send people who can pretend to be non-Muslim to immigrate.

            “Never mind that reprisals of sufficient strength might actually reduce willingness.”
            Elaborate please.

          • Anonymous says:

            The net contribution is irrelevant.

            Why? “We have these four guys who are up to spec, but if you hire them, you must also hire six guys who don’t work and cause trouble.” sounds like a poor deal.

            Don’t be obtuse. The vast majority of interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims in Western countries are friendly and involve neither conversion nor violence. There is no sign of a trend away from this in most countries.

            Just wait until they’re the majority.

            I presume you are talking about the latter part of my statement, because a Muslim ban has no effect on the former.

            Yes, if that means only “no more Muslims”, rather than “no Muslims”.

            Presumably you are saying that non-US terrorists have the ability to harm the US because they can immigrate. But preventing immigration doesn’t prevent ability to attack. A determined terrorist organisation can either get around an immigration ban in the same way as other illegal immigrants, focus their efforts on recruiting existing US citizens, or send people who can pretend to be non-Muslim to immigrate.

            Can they make as many, as easily? A reduction of attacks to a small fraction of the original frequency sounds like a good, realistic goal to hope for. Most of the attacks in the news these days happened because they were easy to carry out.

            Elaborate please.

            Have you heard what the Soviets did to the Hezbollah when they kidnapped some of their diplomats?

          • rlms says:

            @Anonymous
            I phrased that badly. My point is that a blanket ban does have the cost of removing access to high quality Muslims, and Well… isn’t considering it. Note that a more targeted ban doesn’t have this problem.

            “Just wait until they’re the majority.”
            That will happen when and how, exactly? And what are your examples of countries where a small majority of Muslims persecutes a large minority of non-Muslims?

            “Yes, if that means only “no more Muslims”, rather than “no Muslims”.”
            No, I meant that your comment was only applicable to attacks by actors from outside the US. A Muslim ban has no effect on the ability of people within the US to be terrorists (and that group is responsible for the majority of deaths from Islamist terrorism since 9/11).

            “Can they make as many, as easily?”
            The current rate of attacks on the US by outsiders is pretty much zero. As far as I know, all attacks since 9/11 have been somewhere on the spectrum from lone wolf to inspired by ISIS or similar. That doesn’t diminish the culpability of ISIS, but it does mean that the risk from outside attacks is largely based on the possibility of another large scale attack like 9/11. Either sneaking some people over the Mexican border, finding some perpetrators without Muslim backgrounds, or recruiting existing US citizens will not add much logistical difficulty.

            “Have you heard what the Soviets did to the Hezbollah when they kidnapped some of their diplomats?”
            Sure, if terrorist attacks take the form of kidnapping we can consider torturing and killing relatives of the kidnappers to persuade them to release hostages. That tactic isn’t applicable to current terrorist MO. But in any case (regardless of what you are retaliating against relatives for), if you target innocent people in the US you will start a civil war, and if you kill innocent foreigners you are basically continuing existing policy.

          • Randy M says:

            My point is that a blanket ban does have the cost of removing access to high quality Muslims, and Well… isn’t considering it.

            Because it’s only worth considering if the net results of Muslim immigration is greater than that of other groups of potential immigrants that we could draw from. People aren’t exactly fungible, but there’s plenty of wells to draw from if we are thirsty; no reason to go searching for the pure water in the contaminated well.

          • Anonymous says:

            I phrased that badly. My point is that a blanket ban does have the cost of removing access to high quality Muslims, and Well… isn’t considering it. Note that a more targeted ban doesn’t have this problem.

            Why do you need high-quality Muslims? Isn’t it a little selfish to poach them, and leave the low-quality Muslims in their own countries?

            That will happen when and how, exactly? And what are your examples of countries where a small majority of Muslims persecutes a large minority of non-Muslims?

            Egypt (Copts), which you should be aware of. Iran (Zoroastrians), which is largely historical, because there aren’t very many Zoroastrians anymore. Turkey (Armenians), which should be familiar, because the Turks invented modern genocide there. And that’s not even mentioning the Islamic State, which is country-enough to have parking tickets and taxes.

            The current rate of attacks on the US by outsiders is pretty much zero. As far as I know, all attacks since 9/11 have been somewhere on the spectrum from lone wolf to inspired by ISIS or similar. That doesn’t diminish the culpability of ISIS, but it does mean that the risk from outside attacks is largely based on the possibility of another large scale attack like 9/11. Either sneaking some people over the Mexican border, finding some perpetrators without Muslim backgrounds, or recruiting existing US citizens will not add much logistical difficulty.

            Which is why we should import more of them continuously. Or, when in a pit – continue digging.

            Sure, if terrorist attacks take the form of kidnapping we can consider torturing and killing relatives of the kidnappers to persuade them to release hostages. That tactic isn’t applicable to current terrorist MO. But in any case (regardless of what you are retaliating against relatives for), if you target innocent people in the US you will start a civil war, and if you kill innocent foreigners you are basically continuing existing policy.

            How about expelling the usual suspects? No genocide, domestic Islamic terrorism rate drops to Poland levels.

          • rlms says:

            @Anonymous
            “Isn’t it a little selfish to poach them, and leave the low-quality Muslims in their own countries?”
            This is a fully general argument against all high-quality immigration. Would you support that?

            “Egypt (Copts), which you should be aware of”
            You didn’t read my question carefully enough. 90% Muslim is not a “small majority”. If you think that terrible things will happen when the population is 51% Muslim, I want to see examples. Otherwise, I want to see a model for how any Western country could end up 90% Muslim.

            “How about expelling the usual suspects?”
            Who are “the usual suspects”? Where do you plan to expel them to?

          • Anonymous says:

            This is a fully general argument against all high-quality immigration. Would you support that?

            Yes.

            You didn’t read my question carefully enough. 90% Muslim is not a “small majority”. If you think that terrible things will happen when the population is 51% Muslim, I want to see examples.

            Terrible things are already happening. But you are right, I didn’t catch the full meaning of your demand.

            Going over the list of countries by percentage of Muslims, and selecting those hovering in the 40-60% Muslim range, I can provide:
            – Nigeria, home of the Boko Haram.
            – Israel/Palestine (since their borders and/or autonomy are in constant dispute and frequently change), which should be obvious.
            – Lebanon, see their civil war.
            – Malaysia, if you believe the HuffPo article about “religious tyranny” there.

            Otherwise, I want to see a model for how any Western country could end up 90% Muslim.

            1. Differential fertility. Tends to drop subsequently, but:
            2. Continuous importation of new, high-fertility Muslims.
            3. Civil war when the kaffirs realize they’re about to become dhimmi.
            4. Kaffirs lose war because they’re mostly old women, and are genocided and/or expelled.

            This could be stopped at any point with appropriate policy. It would normally take whole centuries, but our birth rates are just so horrible it might well happen in our lifetime somewhere.

            Who are “the usual suspects”?

            Muslims.

            Where do you plan to expel them to?

            That’s not how expulsion works.

          • BBA says:

            …how do you think expulsion works?

            If what you’re saying is “don’t let them in to begin with” you’re a few decades late for that.

          • Anonymous says:

            …how do you think expulsion works?

            I’m not sure why, but many people I talk about this are concerned with the destination of the expelled. I mean, that’s not even what “deportation” means, if one pattern matches it to that. The point of expulsion is that they subjects are expelled FROM somewhere; where they go is not.

            In practice, it’s not even an issue. All of the Middle East uses jus sanguinis, which means that the expelled would always be citizens of some other place. (Or at least CLAIM to be citizens of somewhere else, if they arrived without any papers – in which case the destination is clear.)

            If what you’re saying is “don’t let them in to begin with” you’re a few decades late for that.

            Well, it’s not too late for *everyone*, but that’s not what I mean here. Of course, ceasing to dig once you’re in a hole is also a good idea.

          • rlms says:

            @Anonymous
            “Yes.”
            Your selfless attitude towards foreign countries is interesting (although it does seem to contradict the opinions I presume you hold about refugees). I think will we will have to agree to differ here.

            “Going over the list of countries by percentage of Muslims, and selecting those hovering in the 40-60% Muslim range, I can provide:
            – Nigeria, home of the Boko Haram.
            – Israel/Palestine (since their borders and/or autonomy are in constant dispute and frequently change), which should be obvious.
            – Lebanon, see their civil war.
            – Malaysia, if you believe the HuffPo article about “religious tyranny” there.”
            Nigeria doesn’t have a majority of Muslims, but it does meet the spirit of what I was asking for. However, Israel/Palestine obviously isn’t a single country, the Lebanese civil war was 30 years ago and cannot be blamed on the existence of Muslims, and I do not believe the HuffPo article about religious tyranny in Malaysia.

            “1. Differential fertility. Tends to drop subsequently, but:
            2. Continuous importation of new, high-fertility Muslims.
            our birth rates are just so horrible it might well happen in our lifetime somewhere.”
            Pew predicts that the proportion of Muslims in the US will rise to the dizzying heights of 2.1% by 2050, that is to say the same as the UK in the 90s (extrapolating from census data). That suggests it might reach the even dizzier heights of the current UK proportion (5%) within our lifetime (well my lifetime at least, I don’t know how old you are). I cannot see how it might reach above 15% in my lifetime.

            “Muslims.”
            So you plan to target the existing Muslim population as a whole, including the vast majority who have no connection to terrorism whatsoever? I can’t see that going down well with either the law or the vast majority of the population who will be reminded of Hitler. But if you are taking that approach, you should also logically round up the users of the sites Elliot Rodger frequented. Unless there are hundreds of thousands of them, they are an order of magnitude more terroristy than US Muslims (even assuming Elliot Rodger is the only one).

            “That’s not how expulsion works.”
            Yes it is. If you make someone leave a place, they must necessarily arrive somewhere else.

          • Anonymous says:

            Your selfless attitude towards foreign countries is interesting (although it does seem to contradict the opinions I presume you hold about refugees).

            1. Just because (some of them) are the best that a particular group has, does not mean that they’re good in relation to the natives of wherever they’re going.
            2. I don’t want my elites poached by more prosperous countries either.

            the Lebanese civil war was 30 years ago and cannot be blamed on the existence of Muslims

            Given that the war was in part caused by the demographic shift in favor of Muslims, I beg to differ.

            Pew predicts that the proportion of Muslims in the US will rise to the dizzying heights of 2.1% by 2050, that is to say the same as the UK in the 90s (extrapolating from census data). That suggests it might reach the even dizzier heights of the current UK proportion (5%) within our lifetime (well my lifetime at least, I don’t know how old you are). I cannot see how it might reach above 15% in my lifetime.

            The places I was thinking of were the ones with already large amounts of Muslims (like France, which conveniently does not gather relevant data), and small populations versus large amounts of immigration (like the Netherlands or Sweden). I’m not 100% positive, but Pew appears to be presenting a technically true, but useless analysis where there’s no more waves of illegal migrants.

            So you plan to target the existing Muslim population as a whole, including the vast majority who have no connection to terrorism whatsoever? I can’t see that going down well with either the law or the vast majority of the population who will be reminded of Hitler.

            “Faintly reminiscent of Hitler now” or “actual Hitler down the road” is exactly the choice we are facing right now.

            But if you are taking that approach, you should also logically round up the users of the sites Elliot Rodger frequented. Unless there are hundreds of thousands of them, they are an order of magnitude more terroristy than US Muslims (even assuming Elliot Rodger is the only one).

            Assuming I don’t consider native Elliot Rodgerses our own problem, to be dealt with internally. Not against exile for native criminals, though, or profiling of likely criminals.

            Yes it is. If you make someone leave a place, they must necessarily arrive somewhere else.

            But we don’t have to care where, or how. Just punish those who fail to succeed.

          • rlms says:

            “But we don’t have to care where, or how.”
            Um, yes you do. If details are irrelevant you might as well just say “solve terrorism by stopping terrorists”.

          • Montfort says:

            It’s true that you don’t have to have a destination in mind for the expelled population when you expel them, it just seems like something you might want to think about.
            Because these days, if you’re “expelling” some population from your country, then either:
            a) they manage to emigrate to some country that will take them
            b) they still hang around inside your country, except now maybe you’re putting them in prison or moving them to Guam or somewhere for not leaving.
            c) you put them on a boat and they tour around the oceans begging countries to let them in, probably eventually returning to your country or dying.
            d) you start dumping people in other nations by force or stealth, ignoring their right to control their own borders.

            Now, maybe mostly everyone falls under (a) (less likely if you’re expelling US citizens). But (b) through (d) all have significant downsides. Even (a) could have downsides if their likely destination is, to take an extreme example, ISIS training camps – I don’t think it is, but the question of where they’ll go is worth thinking about for a few minutes so you can at least have the peace of mind of knowing most of them are going back to be dentists in relatively-stable countries (or whatever).

        • Wrong Species says:

          Islamic terrorism is a statistical thing. The more Muslims you have, the higher the probability of an attack. You may marginally raise the chances of a single Muslim committing an attack(and I think that’s far from proven) but that gets overwhelmed by the reduction in absolute numbers of potential terrorists.

          • bintchaos says:

            The problem is, in a globalized world, you cannot just count the muslims in US as your proto-terrorist pool.
            Reducing attacks in US will just shift energy to places where there are a lot more muslims.

          • Anonymous says:

            globalized world

            Found the problem!

          • The Nybbler says:

            Reducing attacks in US will just shift energy to places where there are a lot more muslims.

            I’m not seeing the downside.

          • bintchaos says:

            If KSA falls then IS (or whatever comes next) gets an airforce.
            If Jordan falls then IS gets an airforce and a border with Israel.
            The one thing all muslims will unite on is hatred of Israel.
            Imagine how different the ME would look today if IS had an airforce.

          • Anonymous says:

            Imagine how different the ME would look today if IS had an airforce.

            Like it looked after the Six Day War?

          • Wrong Species says:

            Do you think there is some kind of conservation of terrorism where reducing it in the US automatically increases it in other countries? I’m not buying it. Either way, it’s not the problem of the US government to fix terrorism in Saudi Arabia. And you seriously overestimate the ability of ISIS to overthrow a stable government. Saudi Arabia isn’t Syria.

          • bintchaos says:

            As long the initial conditions that spawn islamic insurgencies are unchanged, new insurgencies will emerge…and evolve to more radical and virulent forms. Socio-physics conservation of energy and chaos theory.
            Islamic government is demographically inevitable in MENA and sub-sahara.
            Dr Atran says eventually there will be nuclear weps in the hands of terrorists. There is no counter-narrative to salafi-jihadism– US has dumped CVE as useless. Did you read what KSA is doing in Indonesia? US has been trying to make “moderate muslims” for decades…KSA is pushing Indonesian “moderate muslims” hard right with an invasive cultural transmission strategy.

          • Anonymous says:

            As long the initial conditions that spawn islamic insurgencies are unchanged, new insurgencies will emerge…and evolve to more radical and virulent forms.

            I agree. As long as Islam exists, it will cause trouble.

          • Anonymous says:

            @bintchaos

            We shall see.

          • bintchaos says:

            @Anonymous
            *shrug*
            Why do you think IS wants the global confrontation so bad?
            Because they know they will win.

          • Anonymous says:

            @bintchaos

            We’ll win, provided we actually start fighting this century. I don’t think we have time to wait the customary five centuries before retaliating.

          • bean says:

            If KSA falls then IS (or whatever comes next) gets an airforce.
            If Jordan falls then IS gets an airforce and a border with Israel.
            The one thing all muslims will unite on is hatred of Israel.
            Imagine how different the ME would look today if IS had an airforce.

            You’re totally failing to distinguish between ‘has airplanes’ and ‘has an air force’. These are not remotely the same thing. Operating modern, high-performance aircraft well is not easy, and it requires a lot of experience. Unless IS manages to somehow ideologically convert every member of those air forces, they’re not going to get that. They’ll get, in a best case, a bunch of planes, parts, and manuals. But they won’t know the tricks of maintaining them, and that’s hard, particularly when the manufacturer is no longer willing to answer your calls.
            Also, airplanes are easy to move. If the KSA falls, I expect that most of the pilots (who are pretty westernized, and IIRC trained in the US) to take their planes and go elsewhere. It happened to the Iraqi AF, and they didn’t have anywhere nearly as nice to go.
            Lastly, airplanes are a really good target for the sort of war the US is good at. If they captured a bunch of air bases, those bases would soon disappear under a hail of Tomahawks and JDAMs.
            (This is all pretty obvious to anyone who has a passing familiarity with defense matters. Are you sure you have a security clearance?)

          • Wrong Species says:

            @bintchaos

            Socio-physics conservation of energy

            You’re going to have to explain what this is, why I should believe it and why you think it proves your point.

          • bintchaos says:

            @bean
            wow, that is incredibly naive.
            You think asymmetrical warfare doesn’t scale into an airwar?
            Tell that to the 911 group.
            If KSA falls Israel is going down– and they are paranoid enough to pull the trigger on the Samson option.
            Remember how rapidly the Eastern Bloc collapsed?
            How fast the Arab Spring spread?
            Collapse of large non-equilibrium systems is my jam.
            Its what I study.

          • Anonymous says:

            You think asymmetrical warfare doesn’t scale into an airwar?
            Tell that to the 911 group.

            Hijacking civilian airliners once when people weren’t expecting it is not quite an “air war”.

            If KSA falls Israel is going down– and they are paranoid enough to pull the trigger on the Samson option.

            Why is Israel going down, in your opinion? And why do you think the Israelis are paranoid?

            Remember how rapidly the Eastern Bloc collapsed?

            What’s that got to do with anything?

            How fast the Arab Spring spread?

            With copious aid from the idiots in the Blue Empire?

            Collapse of large non-equilibrium systems is my jam.
            Its what I study.

            Meaning, you’re as young as your writing skills indicate?

          • bean says:

            wow, that is incredibly naive.
            You think asymmetrical warfare doesn’t scale into an airwar?

            Uhh…. No. No it does not, for two reasons. First, unless you’re Sweden, your air force is designed to operate from large bases with big runways and lots of parts. Last I checked, the RSAF does not operate Swedish aircraft. They are not structured to conduct an asymmetrical war, and you can’t create that kind of structure overnight.
            Second, modern C4ISR systems make this impossible. An E-3 can keep track of where every airplane is while it’s in the air. If it lands, you know pretty precisely where it is. Send a U-2 or a Global Hawk over, find it, and kill it (not with the U-2, obviously). Or just wait for it to show up again, then shoot it down. It can’t move without you seeing it.

            Tell that to the 911 group.

            Wait. That’s your example? That’s what you’re going to use to justify the statement that if the Saudis or Jordanians fall, ISIS gets an air force, and that AF will be useful? If you seriously think that, then there’s no point in my answering the rest of your points.

            Collapse of large non-equilibrium systems is my jam.
            Its what I study.

            Whatever you study, it clearly isn’t air warfare.

          • Why do you think IS wants the global confrontation so bad?
            Because they know they will win.

            Why do you assume their view of the matter is correct? Hitler thought he would win. Communists knew theirs was the wave of the future.

            Also, while I may be mistaken, I thought the ISIS view was that they would first lose, then get victory back by divine intervention. Am I mistaken? If not, are you arguing that that view is correct?

          • John Schilling says:

            If KSA falls then IS (or whatever comes next) gets an airforce.

            The IS has already has an air force; ex-Syrian L-39 attack trainers, MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighters. The L-39s may have flown a few combat missions, but not enough to matter.

            Modern combat aircraft – even old Soviet designs but especially the latest Western ones – require a large team of technicians with highly specialized skills and equipment to support, or they stop working after one or two flights. In the KSA, the pilots are mostly princelings who are about the least likely Saudis to sign on with the IS, and too many of the technicians are western contractors who are even less so. And Boeing isn’t going to sell F-15 spare parts to the IS.

            Also, when the United States sells modern combat aircraft to all but its very closest allies (not KSA), they don’t get the source code to the software running the plane’s weapons systems, and they get a different version of the software than ours. I don’t actually know what happens if a Saudi F-15 tries to fire an AMRAAM at a US or Israeli F-15, but I’d pay good money for dashcam footage of the first IS pilot in a stolen F-15 to try and find out.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            First, unless you’re Sweden, your air force is designed to operate from large bases with big runways and lots of parts.

            If it’s not jacking the thread too much, I’d be interested in some expansion on what the Swedish Air Force does differently. The best I could glean from their wiki is “…maybe they use a lot of helicopters?” but that doesn’t really change the asymmetry calculus (does it?)

            @Anonymous

            Meaning, you’re as young as your writing skills indicate?

            Come on, dude. As obnoxious as the constant memespeak is, this really is not appropriate.

          • Brad says:

            Hey, I actually know the answer to one of these military things! The Gripen was specifically designed to be able to use rough, short runways. Swedish air force doctrine is that the national highway system can double as landing strips.

          • bean says:

            If it’s not jacking the thread too much, I’d be interested in some expansion on what the Swedish Air Force does differently. The best I could glean from their wiki is “…maybe they use a lot of helicopters?” but that doesn’t really change the asymmetry calculus (does it?)

            Brad is right, although it’s more than just the ability to use rough runways/highways. The airplanes are designed to be serviced quickly, using mostly low-skilled conscripts working from trucks parked next to a highway. In theory, this gives them the capability to wage a sort of aerial guerilla war, because the Russians (or whoever else might be invading Sweden) can’t possible shut down every potential base by bombing, and the base is gone before the enemy can find it. In modern practice, improved computers and radars mean this won’t work any more, although it probably would have been quite effective up through the 70s or 80s.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Interesting, thanks Brad (ETA: also bean the ninja)! That does sound useful for asymmetric. Which I guess they expected to need if they ever had to fight the Soviets.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Gobbobobble

            Come on, dude. As obnoxious as the constant memespeak is, this really is not appropriate.

            I’m objecting as much to the quality of his arguments as to the quality of the form he presents them in.

            But you’re right, my bad to be trolled.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ John Schilling
            Forget modern aircraft, even comparatively primitive military aircraft or an armed GA fleet would be a massive force multiplier.

            The fact that we don’t see many Cessnas or Robinsons with dishkas and RPGs bolted to the side providing CAS is evidence that ISIL lacks the pilots and general organization it would need to field a useful air force even if they did have the planes and the parts to maintain them.

          • Nornagest says:

            Has anyone done that? I remember hearing about the Tamil Tigers having an air force a while back, but they’re the only insurgency I can think of that did.

          • psmith says:

            Has anyone done that?

            The Biafrans by way of Count von Rosen.

          • bean says:

            @hlynkacg

            The fact that we don’t see any Cessnas or Robinsons with dishkas and RPGs bolted to the side providing CAS is a strong evidence that ISIL lacks the pilots and general organization it would need to field a useful air force.

            Light airplanes like that are hideously vulnerable to ground fire, even from rifle-caliber machine guns. If you can hit them with the RPG, they can hit back with an RPG (or, more accurately, an SA-7), and they have a much better platform to aim from. To be even marginally useful, you need something along the lines of a Super Tucano, and ISIS has the problem that they can’t run around at high altitude because of the Russians.

            @Nornagest

            Has anyone done that? I remember hearing about the Tamil Tigers having an air force a while back, but they’re the only insurgency I can think of that did.

            Probably not. Air defense is one of the things that governments are generally pretty good at.

          • bintchaos says:

            @all
            sorry I didn’t make this clear.
            911 was a tech exploit in evolving adaptive asymmetrical warfighting. IS would not ever attempt a conventional airwar.
            If IS gets control of the Land of the Two Holy Sites you simply aren’t going to able to bomb them out of there (bombing from air cav is the only way that IS has been dislodged from acquired territory so far) without starting WWIII.
            Remember that is what they want.
            Also IS just has to land one good punch on Israel to draw them into the conflict. Again, a winning strategy. Just because they haven’t been able to accomplish this so far doesnt mean they won’t ever be able to.
            Some tech exploits I can think of are drone hacking, suicide commandos in light glider aircraft or parasails, cyber-attacks on control/sensor systems…for example I think of smart cars as a car bomb in every garage.
            They aren’t going to fight a conventional airwar– it will be exploits, it will be evolutionary and adaptive.

            @DavidFriedman
            You are describing the Prophetic Methodology I think?
            Have you read Jean-Pierre Filiu? His book is really good.
            Apocalypse in Islam.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Nornagest
            The Tamil Tigers are probably the most recent example, but you’ll also find a fair bit of it in Latin America with the drug cartels. and if there’s any truth to some of my friend’s stories Africa is rife with it.

          • bean says:

            sorry I didn’t make this clear.
            911 was a tech exploit in evolving adaptive asymmetrical warfighting. IS would not ever attempt a conventional airwar.

            First, you specifically tied a Jordanian or Saudi fall into ISIS getting an air force. ‘Evolving asymmetrical warfighting’ isn’t really a defense of that position. What, concretely, would the Saudis falling give ISIS that would help them in the air? All of the planes are gone, as is everyone who knows how to make them work.

            If IS gets control of the Land of the Two Holy Sites you simply aren’t going to able to bomb them out of there without starting WWIII.
            Remember that is what they want.

            Personally, I don’t care about the Two Holy Sites, so long as they don’t make too much trouble. And an air campaign with modern weapons is perfectly capable of returning them to the 18th century economically, without scratching a single sacred site.

            Also IS just has to land one good punch on Israel to draw them into the conflict. Again, a winning strategy. Just because they haven’t been able to accomplish this so far doesnt mean they won’t ever be able to.

            The Israelis aren’t completely stupid. Saddam tried to do the exact same thing in 1991. He failed. I don’t think that Israel going after ISIS would actually lead to WWIII. Most Muslims don’t seem to like ISIS, either.

            Some tech exploits I can think of are drone hacking, suicide commandos in light glider aircraft or parasails, cyber-attacks on control/sensor systems…for example I think of smart cars as a car bomb in every garage.

            All of these are things they can work on today. Taking over KSA/Jordan would be only a very marginal improvement in their ability to do so, coming from greater prestige and ability to recruit people, combined with slightly better access to material. You specifically linked those conquests to a major improvement in their air capabilities. None of these things are really air war. They will not be able to challenge air superiority with them. A drone, hacked or not, isn’t that different from a rocket, which the Palestinians have been using for years without that being called ‘air war’.
            (Also, how are smart cars car bombs? The manufacturers are not stupid, and making exploding cars is generally considered a bad thing.)

            They aren’t going to fight a conventional airwar– it will be exploits, it will be evolutionary and adaptive.

            Substitutions of buzzwords for actual thought. Maybe you do work for the DoD.

          • Nornagest says:

            ISIS captured a number of ex-Iraqi airfields a few years ago, back in the early stages of the war when it was marching more or less unopposed across northwestern Iraq. I don’t know how many aircraft the Iraqi government managed to get out before they arrived, but ISIS has managed to field a few Abrams tanks, which suggests to me that the government didn’t do a very good job of protecting their military assets.

            Still, we haven’t seen anything in the air, so I don’t think a theoretical expansion into Jordan or Saudi Arabia would help much — they don’t add anything to the table that the Iraqis didn’t have.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Bean

            Light airplanes like that are hideously vulnerable to ground fire, even from rifle-caliber machine guns.

            “Hideously vulnerable” by the standards of a modern, highly risk averse, Air Force that spends millions of dollars and several years training each of it’s pilots? Yes. “Hideously vulnerable” by the standards of someone who’s alternative is an open topped truck? Not even close.

            As far as troops on the ground are concerned enfilade fire from a heavy machine gun is enfilade fire from a heavy machine gun regardless of whether that gun is mounted on a Super Tucano or a Piper Cub.

          • bintchaos says:

            Most Muslims don’t seem to like ISIS, either.
            I think I’m getting a glimmer of understanding here…conservatives don’t really understand or care about complexity science.
            One thing IS gets from taking KSA airforce is that they aren’t a part of the coalition anymore. Remind me why Israel has never been a part of the coalition again, and why US has 2 airbases in Qatar and zero in KSA?
            Muslims may not “like” IS but they frickin’ hate Israel.
            I guess thats why Trump’s horrifying foreign policy choices dont bother conservatives.
            Interesting.

            And KSA falling will spread sandpile collapse to neighboring states– Dhar Burning Algorithm effect.
            That’s my new Game Theory question– why would you play a game you know you can’t win?

          • bean says:

            @hlynkacg

            “Hideously vulnerable” by the standards of a modern, highly risk averse, Air Force that spends millions of dollars and several years training each of it’s pilots? Yes. “Hideously vulnerable” by the standards of someone who’s alternative is driving around in an open topped truck? Not even close.

            I still disagree. Even a light airplane is both more vulnerable and more expensive than a truck. And when it goes down, you can’t bail out nearly as easily.

            As far as troops on the ground are concerned enfilade fire from a heavy machine gun is enfilade fire from a heavy machine gun regardless of whether that gun is mounted on a Super Tucano or a Piper Cub.

            True. But you usually don’t use the Tucano as a platform for strafing (and if you do, you give it a heavier gun), and it usually is fitted with countermeasures to keep the SA-7s away. Low altitude is deadly these days.

            @bintchaos

            I think I’m getting a glimmer of understanding here…conservatives don’t really understand or care about complexity science.

            No, I just don’t think that your understanding of complexity science means that you’re more qualified than me to understand politics in the Middle East.

            One thing IS gets from taking KSA airforce is that they aren’t a part of the coalition anymore.

            This is obvious.

            Remind me why Israel has never been a part of the coalition again, and why US has 2 airbases in Qatar and zero in KSA?

            Politics. Politics can change.

            Muslims may not “like” IS but they frickin’ hate Israel.

            And yet they don’t all go to war with Israel every time the Israelis get into feud with the Palestinians. In 1991, Israel had to be kept out of the Coalition against Saddam, because the ME members couldn’t be seen fighting alongside them. The last major Arab-Israel war was 1973, 18 years before. That was 26 years ago, and relations have improved during that time. Also, serious threats have a way of making allies. If ISIS gets bad enough, the Israelis will join the coalition, and it won’t be a big deal.

            And KSA falling will spread sandpile collapse to neighboring states– Dhar Burning Algorithm effect.

            Would you care to explain what Dhar’s Burning Algorithm is, and why it applies here? Your ‘I know complexity theory, and you should thus listen to me’ shtick is getting kind of old.

          • Protagoras says:

            @bean, Why don’t more countries try to do what Sweden did with the Gripen? A plane that is cheaper and easier to maintain seems to have huge advantages, not least that you can do more training flights and give your pilots more experience actually flying the planes for less money.

          • bintchaos says:

            @bean

            No, I just don’t think that your understanding of complexity science means that you’re more qualified than me to understand politics in the Middle East.


            I never said that.
            I am just offering that the solutions conservative commenters are proposing here are very US centric, very linear, and seem to lack understanding of interaction effects.
            According to what I know about complex adaptive systems theory your solutions will fail. Obviously you have some other theoretical structure that is supporting your POV that they wont fail.
            Dhar burning algorithm postulates a sandpile landscape where sandpile collapse on one grid can influence other adjacent sandpiles. Its a toppling matrix.
            On observation conservative commenters don’t seem to care about Trump’s foreign policy blunders…that leads me to the conclusion that conservatives aren’t really interested in interaction terms, preferring to think of America as standalone system perfectly capable of imposing its collective will on the rest of the world by force.
            That view is just kind of basically incompatible with CAS theory.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Bean
            I feel you’re so focused on specific means than you’re neglecting the ends. The point is not to replace Tucanos with Piper Cubs the point is to put guns on targets. Bolting a couple of HMGs to GA aircraft is an exceptionally cheap way to do that and while low altitude is deadly these days, it’s not all that more deadly than being a front-line gunslinger in an insurgent army.

            @ Protagoras
            It’s not as sexy, means accepting higher loss rates, and in the case of the US Air Force they have sufficient money and established infrastructure to not worry about it.

          • Nornagest says:

            There are a lot more semi-qualified gunslingers than semi-qualified pilots, and it’s easier to attract more after the first batch have been blown up. And if you want to keep it up past the first couple sorties, you don’t just need semi-qualified pilots; you also need fully qualified aircraft mechanics, a steady supply of aviation fuel, and a bunch of other stuff. Those don’t just grow on trees.

          • cassander says:

            @Protagoras says:

            @bean, Why don’t more countries try to do what Sweden did with the Gripen? A plane that is cheaper and easier to maintain seems to have huge advantages, not least that you can do more training flights and give your pilots more experience actually flying the planes for less money.

            it’s hard to say exactly because the swedes are very tight lipped about releasing actual figures, but most estimates say that the gripen isn’t actually all that much cheaper than, say, an F-16.

          • bean says:

            @Protagoras

            Why don’t more countries try to do what Sweden did with the Gripen? A plane that is cheaper and easier to maintain seems to have huge advantages, not least that you can do more training flights and give your pilots more experience actually flying the planes for less money.

            It’s not that simple. The Gripen is easy to re-arm and re-fuel on the side of the road. But there’s a big difference between that and the plane being cheaper and easier to maintain overall. I’ve heard good things about the Gripen’s serviceablility, but every manufacturer of advanced combat aircraft claims theirs is the cheapest to run overall. (Except LockMart and the JSF, who sell on other things.) Unfortunately, I’m a naval guy, and I don’t know enough to disentangle the results.
            One other aspect may be the Swedish concept of operations being rather different from that of the US. They’re looking primarily at short-range, small-group strike missions on little notice. “There’s a Soviet brigade landing on Gotland. Here’s the grid. Go kill them.” The US plans large, elaborate missions, with lots of airplanes. At some point, the ability to brief the pilots starts to limit you rather than the ability to turn the planes. The A-10 is the US plane that comes closest to the Swedish ConOps, and it had pretty much the same capabilities in terms of field arming and service.
            See here for a very good, if rather long, discussion of aircraft sortie rates.

            @bintchaos
            Look. I’m not sure what the best solution to the Middle East is. I’m not an expert in the region by any means. But I’d say that ISIS seems like the sort of thing that might happen when an unstable system collapses, and it hasn’t swarmed everything under yet.

            Dhar burning algorithm postulates a sandpile landscape where sandpile collapse on one grid can influence other adjacent sandpiles. Its a toppling matrix.

            There’s a rather old term in foreign relations for this, the domino theory. The fact that you referred to some algorithm that doesn’t even show up on wikipedia instead does not increase my confidence that you are trying to communicate clearly. (You may be right about dominoes, although the level of grassroots support for ISIS seems rather low in the UAE and such.)

            @hlynkacg
            Basically what Nornagest said. Planes and pilots are expensive. If the cost of getting the plane up exceeds the value you get from it, then you don’t bother to try. Because of the danger, the benefit is low.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Nornagest
            I think “fully qualified” is carrying a lot of water there.

            @ Brad
            Planes are cheap unless you’re buying them from Lockheed. Parts too if you don’t really care where they come from. It is pilots (and capable spotters) that are the limiting factor, which is the point I’ve been to make this whole time.

            The fact that we don’t see many Cessnas or Robinsons with dishkas and RPGs bolted to the side providing CAS is evidence that ISIL lacks the pilots and general organization it would need to field a useful air force even if they did have the planes and the parts to maintain them.

            Trying to argue against this by pointing out the inferiority of modified GA aircraft to military aircraft completely misses the point.

          • John Schilling says:

            Light airplanes like that are hideously vulnerable to ground fire, even from rifle-caliber machine guns.

            I’m going to have to disagree with that one. There are plenty of examples of light aircraft being adequately survivable above battlefields without modern air defenses. Of particular relevance was a study I recall of USMC vs Army helicopter operations in the first(?) Gulf War, where USMC doctrine required pilots keep their speed up at all times and Army didn’t. Neither side was taking heavy casualties because Apaches are nigh-bulletproof, but the Marines weren’t even getting hit very often. There was, IIRC, a threshold at about 90 knots (160 km/h) where manually-aimed(*) automatic weapons stop being effective.

            In a guerilla-vs-3rd-world-government scenario, there would be real value to the guerillas having armed light aircraft if they could support them – as historically the Tamils and Biafrans did. If the US or even Russian air force is working with the government, as in Iraq and Syria, the armed Cessnas are going to be tracked back to their bases and in very short order plane, pilot, support team, and enthusiasm for continuing this strategy are all going to die horribly.

            * Without dedicated AAA sights, at least.

          • bean says:

            @John
            Perhaps I should have been more clear in my assumptions. In Iraq and Syria right now, there is no way ISIS will be able to operate above the level of danger from ground fire. If they go fast enough low down, they may or may not have too much to fear, depending on the armament and training of their targets. (The AH-1s may not have taken many bullet hits, but 90 kts doesn’t protect you from SA-7s.)
            But you’re a pilot. Try strafing someone with one or maybe two machine guns at 90 kts, knowing that they may be calling in a MiG.
            Basically, yes, in some situations you may be able to make light aircraft work for you as an insurgency. Syria today isn’t one of them.

          • bintchaos says:

            @bean

            Look. I’m not sure what the best solution to the Middle East is. I’m not an expert in the region by any means. But I’d say that ISIS seems like the sort of thing that might happen when an unstable system collapses


            well yah…look, complexity science is pretty new, but heres a good start from Nautilus– not exactly the same as the domino theory, but close.
            Think of a domino in the middle of a box structure of 4 dominos that spreads energy in four directions in stead of 1 direction, the direction of fall. And you are correct, large complex non-equilibrium systems are vulnerable to collapse.
            Heres a good intro paper from Dr. Berenger.
            Dhar just extended the mathematics from the original Bak-Tang-Wiesenthal sandpiles.
            Google BTW sandpiles or Abelian sandpiles– I’m sure thats there.
            I just think…the conservative approach seems to be unilateral brute force military power… some situs are not solvable by those means…complex non-linear systems especially.
            Like Dr. S’s sandbags and the unstoppable flood…

          • Protagoras says:

            According to Wikipedia, the Gripen costs $4700/hr to keep in the air, the cheapest F-16 variant costs $7000/hr. Not orders of magnitude, obviously, but definitely not chump change. Is there reason to be suspicious of the numbers Wikipedia cites, or is the F-16 so much better than the Gripen that it’s worth spending 50% more per hour in the air? Or are people being irrational in not buying Gripens or trying similar approaches with their own planes?

          • bean says:

            @Protagoras
            Numbers like that are stupidly complicated to analyze. I wasn’t really joking when I said that Boeing (Super Hornet), Saab, Dassalt, Eurofighter, and probably the Russians all claim to have the cheapest fighter to operate. It depends on what you count and where, and there’s enough degrees of freedom to allow you to prove anything. Anecdotally, the Gripen has good serviceability, and is probably relatively cheap to fly. But I don’t know what that means in a 1 to 1 comparison against an F-16.
            Edit: Cassander does a much better job of explaining this below.

          • nimim.k.m. says:

            @Protagoras

            The decision which fighter aircraft to buy is always a very political one. I’ve seen some arguments on these OTs why continuing with F35 might be a good idea for the US (mostly because there’s nothing better in sight and starting anew would be even more expensive), but elsewhere I’ve seen also discussion does it really make sense for not-US countries to buy it because training flight hours, maintenance, etc will be freakishly expensive compared to (for example) next gen Gripen.

            But surprise or not, majority of the US allies are ordering JSF.

          • cassander says:

            @Protagoras

            According to Wikipedia, the Gripen costs $4700/hr to keep in the air, the cheapest F-16 variant costs $7000/hr. Not orders of magnitude, obviously, but definitely not chump change. Is there reason to be suspicious of the numbers Wikipedia cites, or is the F-16 so much better than the Gripen that it’s worth spending 50% more per hour in the air? Or are people being irrational in not buying Gripens or trying similar approaches with their own planes?

            Well, to start with, both of those numbers are far too low, at least for a developed country with relatively high wages for mechanics. The US military officially charges about 20k per flight hour for its F-16Cs, which is not far off from what the swedish military admits it pays for maintaining the grippen. Both of those figures are on the high end, but both aircraft also have much lower figures for aircraft in service with cheaper countries. The two aircraft are roughly similar in cost. My source for both of these figures is Aviation Week’s annual MRO forecast, which seeks to calculate exactly these numbers.

            Wikipedia is very good at some things for aircraft, and not so good on others. Variant information (e.g. if you want know what difference was between the UH-1H and UH-1N) it’s actually very good. Specifications, they’re hit or miss depending on their source. Fleet numbers, ballpark figures at best. But cost per flight hour? definitely wouldn’t trust them. there is so much that can go into those figures that you need to work very hard to make sure you’re doing an apples to apples comparison, and wikipedia’s model doesn’t really allow for that. It’s not so much that their numbers are wrong, but that there’s nothing ensuring that the number on one page has been gotten by the same methodology as one on a different page.

          • Controls Freak says:

            @bintchaos

            domino theory… Dhar burning algorithm…

            Given that these models may have very different underlying dynamics than the systems you’re trying to map them onto, why should I believe them? Perhaps I could construct a simple collapse model of how the accuracy of collapse models collapses.

        • bintchaos says:

          You aren’t accounting for costs at all.
          Do you see the logic flaw in all your muslim ban arguments?
          Lets suppose there is a muslim ban, and also all muslims are deported– down to 3rd or 4th generation. Outlaw Islam, make Quran illegal, etc.
          So what happens to US overseas interests and allies that are still exposed to attacks in situ?
          Any crack-down on US muslims will destabilize our pals al Salool (House Saud) and Sisi and King Abdullah.
          So your muslim ban might reduce terror events in US (much like RU genocide of ~250,000 chechan muslims did temporarily) but the energy will get pushed off to MENA and Africa into attacks on US allies and interests.
          mw there are ~23 million refugees, half of which are children. There are a projected 1 billion youth in Africa by 2050, mostly Sunni muslim. A depthless pool of recruits for emergent Islamic insurgencies.

          Also, how do you stop recruitment of non-muslim US youth by conversion to Islam? its impossible to reduce US terror events to 0. Did you know US has given up on CVE? there is no counter-narrative under the initial condition of US interventionism and injustice. “secular democracy” is not competitive in dar ul Islam.

          • A conservative is someone who believes actions have consequences…except in international politics.

          • bintchaos says:

            @AncientGreek
            Thank-you.
            That explains a lot.
            Not to mention what this would do to Israel’s prospects.
            There are only 8.8 million jews in Israel– demographic doom if they cant learn to get along with their neighbors.

          • bintchaos says:

            @AncientGreek
            You would probably know this…does that mean conservatives are Aristotelean frogs only concerned with their local mud hole and liberals are Platonic birds concerned with the wider world?

          • qwints says:

            What’s an Aristotelean frog or a Platonic bird? Is it an Aristophanes reference?

        • A blanket ban on Muslims has economic costs, since you are losing all the Muslims with above average economic productivity.

          Why is above average the relevant criterion? Is your maximand something like per capita income? That’s a fallacy of composition, as should be obvious, one that it implies that a change that makes everyone better off can still be a loss.

          The relative criterion is positive productivity. The simple way of filtering immigrants for that is to offer no subsidy/welfare to new immigrants.

          • Anonymous says:

            The relative criterion is positive productivity. The simple way of filtering immigrants for that is to offer no subsidy/welfare to new immigrants.

            I would add a requirement for a citizen to be legally responsible for the immigrant’s actions. If they commit a crime, they get deported and the responsible citizen goes to jail.

          • rlms says:

            I agree that the average isn’t a cutoff point. But I think that relatively unproductive workers are easier to replace than highly productive ones. If we magically banned all Muslim immigrants who would end up earning minimum wage, it would be easy to replace them by allowing e.g. more Mexicans in. But banning a highly skilled Muslim immigrant would cause them to be replaced by someone less effective.

        • biblicalsausage says:

          “A blanket ban on Muslims has economic costs, since you are losing all the Muslims with above average economic productivity.”

          There are some worthwhile arguments in favor of Muslim immigration, but this is not one of them. If we’re already stipulating that the US can pick and choose what kind of immigrants, it wants, there’s an easy work-around for this one.

          You’d just estimate how many highly-qualified Muslims you’re excluding and replace them with equally-qualified Chinese. Since we’re bringing in only about 130,000 Muslims per year, and only some of them will fall into the “above average” category, I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find enough Chinese takers to compensate.

          • Matt M says:

            Every year we forcibly kick out tens of thousands of Chinese and Indians who have just completed educational studies in American universities and who strongly desire to stay.

            They’re educated and skilled, by our very own standards, speak English, and have already had 1-4 years to start assimilating.

            Yeah, this wouldn’t be a problem.

          • rlms says:

            “You’d just estimate how many highly-qualified Muslims you’re excluding and replace them with equally-qualified Chinese.”
            That only works for qualifications where the US currently rejects some people who apply with them. You can only accept more Chinese immigrants, you can’t just kidnap talented Chinese people. But there are some qualifications (brilliant academic, CEO of a major company etc.) where everyone with them who wants to come to the US is allowed to. So, assuming an efficient market, you will be replacing Muslims in those roles with inferior candidates.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            @rims.

            So we’re looking at a country with 330 million inhabitants, and 130 thousand Muslim immigrants per year. Out of that 130 thousand, some are presumably so awesome that we could never replace them because we already accept 100% of people that awesome who want to come to the US.

            I wish there was some way to quantify this irreplaceable group’s current contributions, so we can decide whether the US can afford to lose these folks. Are there a dozen of them a year? A hundred? A thousand?

            Are there even ten Muslims in the US who wouldn’t be essentially replaceable economically if we decided to replace them? I don’t know. But I’d bet the economic cost of stopping all Muslim migration would be low, or even a net economic win.

            From where I stand, the only interesting arguments for continuing to let Muslims in the country are arguments about fairness, relations with the Muslim world, and so on. I don’t buy the idea that anyone is actually defending Muslim immigration because they’ve done an economic cost-benefit analysis and decided that Muslims are fulfilling some vital economic role in American society.

          • I don’t buy the idea that anyone is actually defending Muslim immigration because they’ve done an economic cost-benefit analysis and decided that Muslims are fulfilling some vital economic role in American society.

            “Vital economic role” is a straw man. Some of us have concluded, on the basis of economic theory, that as long as immigrants are not subsidized their net effect on the existing population is positive.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            @DavidFriedman,

            And I’m sure it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that, in a world where immigrants don’t have access to a social safety net, their presence is probably going to be a net positive for the natives. Fine. I won’t argue that.

            But, in a world where we do heavily subsidize people, and where we have various limits that keep the number of immigrants far lower than a free market in labor would provide, we’re in a somewhat different situation.

            In this world, is there anything, economically, that our current 130,000 Muslim immigrants each year do for us that could not be easily replaced (and at lower governmental costs) by taking in 130,000 immigrants from somewhere else instead? I don’t see any reason to think so.

          • Matt M says:

            Not to mention that when it comes to skilled immigration, my understanding is that a whole lot of this is decided by a simple lottery system, rather than a close examination and ranking of candidates by various desirable factors.

            In other words, there’s no way to guarantee that if we displaced the 130,000 Muslims who won the lottery with 130,000 Chinese and Indians who didn’t win the lottery that, even on strictly economic terms (without considering terrorism or assimilation or any of that), we wouldn’t actually be getting even better people than we were before.

          • rlms says:

            @biblicalsausage
            The idea isn’t that there are people who literally can’t be replaced, rather that there are people who will be replaced by worse workers (and for important jobs even a small decrease in quality can have a significant cost). There are certainly more than ten very high value Muslims in the US: this non-exhaustive list alone has more than 10 CEOs, and doesn’t include e.g. the ex-CEO of Coca-Cola.

      • Brad says:

        @Well…

        Any sure step the US could take to drastically reduce these things–starting tomorrow–would instantly lead to potential run-ins with the Constitution and our national ethics:

        -Want to drastically reduce car accidents? Make the driver’s test so hard that only 1% of the very best drivers can pass it, and beef penalties for moving violations way up.

        I don’t think this is a very good example. We could drastically reduce traffic deaths and injuries without offending the constitution or any sort of ethics. We currently mandate that cars have certain saftey and pollution control devices. These rules are enforced by inspection requirements and criminal penalties for willful evasion. There’s no legal or ethical reason that a similar rule couldn’t be put in place that mandated governors limiting vehicles to 50 miles an hour. Such a rule would drastically reduce traffic deaths and injuries.

        We don’t do such a thing because whether we admit or not we are okay with trading off lives, including innocent lives, versus other things.

        It’s one thing to say terrorism is different because of cognitive biases A, B, and C. It’s another to cheerlead for these cognitive biases.

      • Virbie says:

        > -Want to drastically reduce death from cancer? Make cancer screenings mandatory, punishable with jail time.

        This is _incredibly_ disingenuous. You intentionally skipped right over solutions like “make cancer screenings free”, “spend tons of money tagging and tracking every shark possible”, etc. None of your solutions are inherently the only possible steps we could take; you just cherry-picked absurd examples that would be unduly coercive and then with a straight face claimed that they’re the only steps we could take to reduce these risks.

        The real reason we don’t do more about these risks isn’t because they’d be too coercive[1]; it’s because we’ve decided that we’re at roughly the right spot on the risk/cost curve, a calculation which our collective brains have short-circuited for terrorism.

        [1] Obligatory caveat that yes, any gov’t spending funded by taxation can be considered coercive but that’s the case for spending on terrorism as well.

        • Well... says:

          @Virbie, I’m answering both you and Brad at the same time since you made similar arguments (hopefully he searches the page for his handle):

          You’re probably right that the costs of plausible methods of preventing cancer or car accidents would be mainly felt in places other than our Constitutional rights. I thought up those examples rather hastily and was probably trying to be more parallel than was necessary.

          My point is that whatever Americans do to combat cancer or car accidents will have significant costs to Americans. But the cost of preventing Islamist terrorism in America by greatly reducing immigration by Muslims is very low for Americans.

    • Anonymous says:

      But then conservatives get triggered by liberals pointing out that, objectively speaking, terrorism causes fewer—far fewer—fatalities than many other risks that don’t receive anywhere near as much media coverage, so why is it such a big deal?

      The difference, as I see it, is that the risk of chair-related fatalities is outweighed by the usefulness of chairs. Whereas, as far as I can see, Muslim immigration is a net loss even if they didn’t commit any terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacks are just an insult in addition to the injury of welfare state abuse, increased crime, lowered social cohesion/trust, change in voting patterns and risk of civil war down the road.

      • onyomi says:

        I think this is a key point, and another reason I hate the concept of “cultural appropriation” with a fiery passion. I mean, really, what benefit is there to the majority population of having more foreigners around, other than the sort of benefit which could be replicated by the host population simply having more babies (and therefore having more labor, etc.; though I’m aware in many cases they seem not to want to do this; we also don’t seem to be suffering a labor shortage in the developed world)?

        To my mind, the only real benefit of diversity per se, from the perspective of the host population, is getting introduced to new technologies, new ways of thinking, new arts, new foods, new languages, etc. which can, at least in some cases, enrich one’s own world. But now if host group does this with too much gusto, it’s somehow abusive and evil.

        So the message is: “diversity is great! …but if you try to enjoy it, you’re evil.” In other words, as suspected, diversity is actually a kind of religious penance. If you get too into self-flagellation, you’re just being kinky/missing the point.

        • tmk says:

          > simply having more babies
          Not so simple, as Japan and others have found out.

          There is also the economic advantage of people moving to where their skills are more valuable. On average, someone who is an expert in field X is more likely to migrate to a country with many companies working in field X.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            In the case of Japan, if you have a country so densely populated that a 1,000-square foot house costs an average of about $350,000, I have some sympathy for the not-baby-having.

    • bintchaos says:

      Dr Taleb has himself said that IS is anti-fragile. In situ US and Russia are indeed hitting IS with “ALL they have”. Russia killed ~250k muslims in the Chechan rebellion attempting to “wipe out” internal terrorism.
      But the long term prospects for ending terrorism require changing the initial conditions that create it.
      I think terrorism is a strat in a complex adaptive game, and until initial conditions are changed new fractal instances of islamic insurgency will just evolve in response to environment.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, killing terrorists theoretically works *eventually*. Just so long as you are killing them faster than they are reproducing. Which isn’t quite likely.

      • But the long term prospects for ending terrorism require changing the initial conditions that create it.

        And you believe those conditions are? And can be changed how?

        One condition might be oppressive governments in Islamic countries, but it isn’t clear how one could change that and our attempts so far have not turned out well.

        Another is a world where the West is obviously much richer and more successful than the Islamic world. Changing that requires that Islamic societies have the sort of institutions that promote economic growth, and it isn’t clear how one gets that to happen. And it would still take a while.

        Other candidates? Even if Israel vanished, Islamic societies have lots of reasons to fight each other, starting with Shia vs Sunni. One of the minority positions of your friend Ibn Taymiyyah was that Jihad was legitimate against other Muslims, and ISIS appears to agree.

        • rlms says:

          “Changing that requires that Islamic societies have the sort of institutions that promote economic growth”
          Is that not the case? Does e.g. Indonesia have vicious anti-market policies?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            What proportion of Islamic terrorism does Indonesia produce?

          • bintchaos says:

            @Gobbobobble
            Not much so far– but thats about to change
            This is really a brilliant adaptive strategy for invasive cultural transmission.

          • rlms says:

            @Gobbobobble
            Not much, but I assumed we were talking about oppressive Islamist governments in general, not just ones that produce terrorism (although Indonesia was still not a great example for that). But the same applies to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan etc. as far as I know.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        > In situ US and Russia are indeed hitting IS with “ALL they have”.

        If the US and Russia were hitting IS with “ALL they have” Raqqa would have been flattened on the third day of the war. Despite all the posturing from Obama and Trump about how aggressively we’re battling the grave threat of the Islamic State we are not even remotely taking this seriously.

    • dndnrsn says:

      You can see this elsewhere in this thread: people will use concerns as standins for other concerns.

      Take someone who is right-wing enough (I assume there are some on the left who have this concern, but it is mostly a right-wing thing, and not especially centre-right either) to worry about long-term demographic change. Move more towards the centre, and “chronic” crime becomes more of a concern. Some crimes are more “loaded” than others (sex crimes create more outrage than muggings, but invite the riposte “you’re just playing into old stereotypes of shady foreigners who want to defile women” because of this). Move more towards the centre, and “acute” crime like terrorism becomes the concern. It’s more acceptable, more within the Overton Window, to worry about Manchester than muggings, and more acceptable to worry about muggings than Rotherham, so to speak. But it’s still more acceptable to worry about Rotherham than demographics.

      You can see the same pattern with discussion of illegal immigration in the US. “Look at how voting patterns in California have changed” is to the right of complaining that sanctuary cities make it harder to prosecute minor crimes is to the right of pointing out a few highly nonrepresentative cases of lurid murders committed by guys who should have been deported but weren’t.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s a pretty good analysis. I’m not sure I understand your point, though.

        • dndnrsn says:

          That one answer to the question “why are right-wingers so upset about terrorism?” is “they’re not just worried about terrorism, but terrorism is the thing that it’s most socially acceptable for them to be worried about.” It’s a proxy for something else; worries about terrorism are in effect fighting a proxy war. Similarly, the same thing explains why some left-wingers point out after every terrorist attack that terrorism is less of a threat than heart disease, or whatever – it’s a proxy.

          The discussion about terrorism – or, at least, about terrorism by radical Muslims – is about a lot of unspoken stuff, a lot of stuff that’s below the surface. The cycle of “Muslim radical terrorist attack, right wing shouts about terrorist attack, left wing says it’s no big deal because look how dangerous falling in the shower is” makes little sense if you think that the conversation is 100% about the attacks – for one thing, it causes a lot of people on the left and right to hold positions different from what they usually do (“terrorism kills very few people” is of a similar form to “very few people shot dead are shot by police”, for example, and right-wingers in the US at least tend take a different stance on “lone nut with AR-15” than they do “radical Muslim with suicide bomb”; and watch what happens when it’s a racist terrorist, like that guy in Quebec who went into the mosque with a gun killing people).

          • Wrong Species says:

            I do think this is part of it but not all. Conservatives do care about terrorism. The issue is one of values. When it comes to gun control for instance, conservatives are opposed because they believe it’s a right and progressives don’t think much about the second amendment. To ban guns for a conservative is taking away essential freedoms while it’s common sense to a progressive. Terrorism is similar. Conservatives don’t see anyone as having a right to immigrate to the US. Banning people who could be a threat is common sense. But for progressives, that’s religious discrimination. It’s something that we don’t practice inside our country and is really just a callback to a more regressive time. Telling people they can’t come to our country because they are Muslim is wrong and it’s an unacceptable price to pay to marginally reduce the risks of terrorism.

            So the question is how do these two groups talk to each other? Both have different values that can’t be easily reconciled. And even agreeing to the same facts wouldn’t change that.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Wrong Species

            So the question is how do these two groups talk to each other?

            They don’t. They’re fundamentally incompatable within a single polity. (And given that one views themselves as the “Universal Culture” toward whom the Arc of History bends…)

          • Nornagest says:

            And given that one views themselves as the “Universal Culture” toward whom the Arc of History bends…

            Arguably both do, it’s just that only one uses it as a talking point.

            See e.g. “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Nornagest

            Arguably both do, it’s just that only one uses it as a talking point.

            Does the Right really see ourselves as “Universal”, as not only the way things should be done in our own families and nation, but as the One Right Way for All People, Everywhere? The more actively-evangelizing Christian portions, perhaps. But these days, I find much more “tall fences make good neighbors” attitudes here on the Right than on the Left. And when it comes to zeal at “converting the heathen” and forbidding him to practice his vile, barbaric folkways even in his own lands (for his own good, of course), I see that far more on the Left; don’t you? (Again, with the limited exception — for now — of Muslims.)

          • Nornagest says:

            Does the Right really see ourselves as “Universal”, as not only the way things should be done in our own families and nation, but as the One Right Way for All People, Everywhere?

            Yes. The difference is that the left thinks the One Right Way is the One Right Way for ethical reasons that need to be fought for. They also think it’s inevitable because the arc of the moral universe etc. etc., but this is an inevitability mediated by people fighting against injustice.

            The right (except for the religious right, which holds an analogue of the above views modulo some vocabulary) thinks the One Right Way is the One Right Way for practical reasons that need to be maintained, and that it isn’t necessarily inevitable — only that all the alternatives are worse.

            These One Right Ways don’t all cover the same territory — each leaves latitude the other doesn’t. So both have a claim (more or less strained depending on how authoritarian the speaker is) to being on the side of freedom.

            There was some historical fondness on the Right for the idea that different ways work for different peoples, but that’s out of fashion, even among the euphemism right. These days the euphemisms just think other peoples aren’t as good at it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Wrong Species

            I’m not necessarily talking about the US, though. Plenty of places (including nice places) have less strong protections for guns and speech. The right-wingers there still have a similar reaction to/narrative of terrorism.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            What I see is that a group feels that their needs are sacrificed for the needs of others.

            Generally, you see that the right is perfectly willing to accept risk of death or other downsides if they feel that there is a strong upside for themselves. Generally, that upside revolves around jobs/better pay.

            The perception is now that migrants cause unemployment, lower pay, destruction of their culture AND terrorism. The latter is the poison cherry on top of the shit cake that they feel they are forced to eat.

            PS. Many Geert Wilders voters came from the left and in surveys, many show very left-wing economic beliefs. So you have to be very careful with the claim that anti-Muslim beliefs are strictly right wing.

          • PS. Many Geert Wilders voters came from the left and in surveys, many show very left-wing economic beliefs.

            Hostility to immigration, terrorism aside, seems to fit the left wing view of the world better than the right. Free market economics, which has traditionally been part of the right wing package, suggests that immigrants produce net benefits for those already here via gains from trade. The intuitive mistaken view in which there is a fixed pool of jobs and the immigrants are taking some of them goes along much better with leftish views of the economy.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            But you’ll see more right-wingers, and more mainstream right-wingers, say “terrorism” when asked “what’s bad.” “Destruction of our culture” is a bit of a lurch to the right. Nobody likes terrorism, but saying “we need to keep our culture” marks you as a certain sort of person.

            And, yes, there’s economic-left immigration restrictionism – there’s a whole lot of money being left on the table, so to speak, in the shortage of left-wing anti-globalist parties – and there’s what I think of as Fortuynism (the pitch of which is “hey, you like sex drugs and rock’n’roll? THE MUSLIMS WILL TAKE THAT AWAY”). But they’re relatively minority tastes.

            @DavidFriedman

            The “bundles” of opinions that make up left and right in different places, or labour vs liberal vs conservative, or whatever, are often wildly incoherent, and frequently the result of historical accidents. There’s probably a timeline where environmentalism is the domain of nudist neo-pagan ethno-nationalists, for example. In this timeline, believing that immigration is good is usually found on the left, and while the most coherent open borders argument is anarchist, and probably ancap, the most common open borders argument is a left-wing-but-statist (and in my view rather less coherent) one.

          • Tibor says:

            @David: This is why I think the terms left and right are hopelessly confusing today. Le Pen is considered right wing, so is Trump. I consider both of them to be leftist based on their economic policy. To make it even more confusing, in Germany “die Rechte”, i.e. “the rightwingers” is used pretty much synonymously with “the Nazis”. A free market-friendly(ish) party is going to be considered centrist (except by radical leftists who will lump in together nazis and “neoliberals” into one “rightist” group). I think the best response to this mess is it is to stop using right and left altogether, particularly for liberals/libertarians who don’t fit into the way the left-right scale is understood by most very well.