THE JOYFUL REDUCTION OF UNCERTAINTY

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### 746 Responses to Open Thread 82.75

1. I have an old project, long abandoned, to produce computer programs to teach economics. It looks as though it is being revived as open source.

http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2017/08/reviving-living-paper-project.html

• HFARationalist says:

I think this is a great idea! In the future I may do that for mathematics if I have time.

Another project that can be interesting is searching through research papers to produce a summary of important points.

• toastengineer says:

If I remember right, summarization algorithms are relatively mature, although I’m not sure how effective they are on hardcore technical text.

• HFARationalist says:

My main idea is to look for bold and italic text in scientific papers.

• Paul Brinkley says:

I am now seriously considering giving up some of my current hobbies to try to help with this. (I’ve long had it on my to-do list to understand your price theory book well enough that I could explain the material to other people.)

• The point of the project for me isn’t mainly to teach economics, although it is supposed to do that. It is to find ways in which a computer can teach better than a book.

Back when I did the programs for Price Theory, I sometimes attended econ meetings where my publisher had a booth. A question I sometimes got asked about the programs was how many chapters of the book were on the disk. The answer was none. The chapters were in the book where they belonged. The programs were intended to teach things in ways in which the book couldn’t. Hence my title for the project: Living Paper. My favorite of the three programs I actually did, Curvedraw, would be as relevant to a calculus course as to an economics course, since its purpose was to teach intuition for the relation between a function and its derivative–in my context total cost and marginal cost (and, in the program, average cost).

Back then, the idea of educational software was mostly that computers were sexy, so students would do the same things with the computer that they wouldn’t do with the book. I haven’t followed educational software, so don’t know how much of it has gotten beyond that point by now.

One of my other failed projects, c. 1985, was for software to let students take exams and professors grade them on computers. The idea was to make both taking and grading easier in various ways. Such software now exists, but all of its ingenuity goes into keeping the student from cheating, not making it easier for him to pay attention to which questions still need more work or to make it easier for the professor to grade all answers to question 1 in random sequence.

If anyone wants to revive the project (“Electric Blue Book”), there might still be a market niche unfilled.

• bean says:

Such software now exists, but all of its ingenuity goes into keeping the student from cheating, not making it easier for him to pay attention to which questions still need more work or to make it easier for the professor to grade all answers to question 1 in random sequence.

Based on my experience, it varies heavily by the software package. Whatever I used for Calc 3 was pretty good. You got graded in real-time, and there was enough feedback that it was genuinely helpful because you could more or less figure out where you were going wrong. The Mastering X series, on the other hand, was of the devil. There was one problem where the official answer was 0, and because the margin was set as a percentage, you had to give exactly 0. Also, one professor had a tendency to abuse it to set more work than they would have if they’d manually graded it, and in stupid ways. We needed to write complete and net ionic equations for like a dozen problems, and couldn’t copy and paste. It was infuriating. That’s more of a use problem, but I do think there’s some space in the marketplace. The problem is the same as the one that leads to high textbook prices.

• crh says:

The problem is the same as the one that leads to high textbook prices.

Is that just, “Purchasing decisions not made by end users,” or did you have something else in mind?

• bean says:

Is that just, “Purchasing decisions not made by end users,” or did you have something else in mind?

That’s pretty much it. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of this software had a much better interface on the teacher side than the student side, and they probably give it away to the professor and make the students buy the license.

• Charles F says:

@bean
Might vary by school, but what we had was teachers who were mandated to use Mastering X by the department, and they spent a lot of time complaining about their interface and apologizing to the students for the sorts of problems you were mentioning. They also called it a waste of money for the school, so I think they don’t only make money off students, but they could have been wrong or I could be misremembering that part.

2. JulieK says:

This National Review article touches on some ideas we’ve discussed:

In 2002, I got it into my head that I wanted to attend what was then described as the “Old Latin Mass.”
… For most of the people I met there, the Old Mass was the one quixotic cause to which they were attached. They knew that the local bishop didn’t like this movement, and that it placed them outside the mainstream not only of their culture but of their own Church. But they believed.

The price for their conviction was that they had to put up with the others – the people for whom the Latin Mass was just the first or the latest in a long line of disreputable fascinations and commitments.
… Eventually, Pope Benedict made clear that the Latin Mass was a good thing and said the bishops shouldn’t give us such a hard time. Since then, the ratio of normal people to kooks has changed dramatically in favor of normal people.

According to a theory Matt Lewis recently floated, libertarianism is some unique gateway drug to neo-Nazism. Lewis runs through a few white supremacists who have become notorious since Charlottesville and finds that some of them once self-identified as libertarians or have tried recruiting at libertarian events.

But it’s not just libertarianism. Jason Kessler, the lead organizer of the Charlottesville torch march, was formerly in Occupy Wall Street. And he’s not the only Occupy veteran who found himself on the alt-ish side of the street. Online activist Justine Tunney went from Occupy to G*m*rg*te to creating a petition for a CEO of America, fitting her new net-reactionary views.

Lewis comes across the most powerful explanation for the pipeline when professor Kevin Vallier tells him, “Libertarianism is an unpopular view. And it takes particular personality types to be open to taking unpopular views.” Indeed, marginal ideas attract marginal people. The experience of conversion itself can be intoxicating, and so often the first conversion is not the final one.

Before the Latin Mass, I spent some time in Evangelical churches, and I count many Evangelicals as friends and spiritual peers. But after 15 years of socializing myself into my religious views, I think one of the chief barriers to my ever concluding that Martin Luther correctly interpreted St. Paul’s letters is that I don’t want to become a person who wears khakis and a broad smile when prefacing a difficult conversation with the words, “The Lord put something on my heart.”

To believe something isn’t just to accept the conclusion itself; it’s to accept yourself as the type of person who believes it.
Cranks therefore come to accept or even embrace their own crankishness. One marginal idea leads to the next even more marginal idea. And the mainstream they rejected isn’t just wrong; its proponents become contemptible and corrupt. And contempt spreads easily: Normal people don’t care about ideas, the crank’s thinking goes, and endure the corruption around them in nearly silent docility. It’s the “normies” that kooks really can’t stand

(asterisks added to get this past the filters…)

• Shion Arita says:

To believe something isn’t just to accept the conclusion itself; it’s to accept yourself as the type of person who believes it.

I think the fact that this is the case for most people is the ultimate source of a nontrivial fraction of humanity’s problems.

This idea’s been operating in the background for me for a while, but I’ve never seen it verbalized until right now.

I think one of the goals of rationalism should be to get people to behave opposite of that statement, since ideally, to believe something IS just to accept the conclusion itself. People not wanting to accept themselves as the type of person who believes something often leads to people refusing to adopt beliefs that are probably true (for example atheism). And conversely, accepting oneself as the ‘type of person who believes something’ often leads to people taking party lines, and taking on beliefs that are probably not true because they fit the image of someone who believes the first thing (for example I don’t really see any reason that people’s beliefs about marijuana legalization should be correlated with their beliefs about the death penalty, but they definitely are). A lot of babies are thrown out with the bathwater because of that phenomenon.

I guess what we should try to promote is the concept of actually thinking for yourself, or something like that.

• Winter Shaker says:

I don’t really see any reason that people’s beliefs about marijuana legalization should be correlated with their beliefs about the death penalty, but they definitely are

I think that these can both follow quite naturally from a high level of general belief in the efficacy of punishment in achieving an orderly society. I think that belief is almost certainly tragically mistaken in the case of cannabis legalisation (I am agnostic on the death penalty – it’s one of those things where I instinctively don’t like it, but realise that my instinct is not really backed up by a deep understanding of the stats) … but I don’t think there’s anything logically incoherent about the two beliefs correlating.

• rahien.din says:

To believe something isn’t just to accept the conclusion itself; it’s to accept yourself as the type of person who believes it.

I think one of the goals of rationalism should be to get people to behave opposite of that statement

But:

1. Changing your beliefs does change you as a person. Facts are facts are facts, but humans are comprised of reactions. One would expect a certain belief to exert a particular limited range of effects on its believer – nothing else would make sense.

2. What would it look like if one of the effects of belief-in-rationalism was to be the type or person who eschewed anything that smacked of tribalism, whether that was good or bad? Maybe, in being a rationalist, you have to accept that this is the type of person that you are.

3. Even if you’re right that this is a very bad thing, mere reversed stupidity is not intelligence.

• HFARationalist says:

I’m not sure whether your post above is influenced by faith. I was a quasi-rationalist when I believed in religion. One thing religious quasi-rationalists may do is to invent or adopt lots of anti-epistemology to placate their own intellects while allowing the religious dogmas to exist or they will throw the dogmas out.

• Wrong Species says:

Are you going to say this every time someone religious comments?

• HFARationalist says:

@Wrong Species Don’t worry, no.

• rahien.din says:

Wrong Species,

They might. It’s part of the process. This passage from No Safe Defense, Not Even Science is pretty instructive :

Of the people I know who are reaching upward as rationalists, who volunteer information about their childhoods, there is a surprising tendency to hear things like: “My family joined a cult and I had to break out,” or “One of my parents was clinically insane and I had to learn to filter out reality from their madness.”

My own experience with growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family seems tame by comparison… but it accomplished the same outcome: It broke my core emotional trust in the sanity of the people around me.

Insofar as it means anything to anyone, I don’t begrudge them.

It is rather to the point of Nancy’s original post, though. At least for now, this is the type of person that they are, as a direct result of the chasm between their prior and current beliefs.

• Deiseach says:

Are you going to say this every time someone religious comments?

Of course they are. How else will they swank about being smarter than the average bear? “Yes back when I was an ignorant idiot, I too believed really stupid things. But now I’ve dropped all that and my epistemology is better than yours, so much better it brings all the rationalists to the yard (I could teach you but unfortunately you’re not autistic so it wouldn’t work)”.

• HFARationalist says:

BTW I don’t hate Abrahamic theists. However I have to be cautious about you guys’ reasoning. How can I know that anti-epistemology isn’t involved in any given rationality-related post written by a quasi-rational Abrahamic theist?

Back then when I was an Abrahamic theist my quasi-rational reasoning was filled with anti-epistemology such as nothing is necessarily real and “I just know!” Furthermore there were many topics I didn’t dare to mention to not offend AG. When a person believes in the existence of AG it is possible that their mind is constantly censored to not offend AG, their speech is certainly heavily censored to not offend AG and their reasoning is filled with anti-epistemology. How can we trust the quasi-rational outputs of such a gagged mind?

No offense but your mindset might be similar to my old one and the output of my old mind can not be trusted because it is so AGism-infested.

You may have your beliefs but please at least reject anti-epistemology so that your unverified beliefs aren’t going to change how you reason about secular topics.

• Evan Þ says:

This isn’t just theists who can have their minds filtered; everyone has their minds filtered by their worldview and preconceptions. Before Einstein, many scientists’ minds were blinded and censored by their assumption that light could not be deflected by gravity. Now, some people’s minds are filtered by their assumption that every race must have equal intelligence; others’ are filtered by their assumption that intelligence is largely genetic and does unchangeably vary by race. Yes, some of these are more filtered than others – but the filter is still there.

• HFARationalist says:

@Evan The difference is that AGists sometimes refuse to unfilter their minds when evidence shows up against their filters. So do SJWs. To me they are equally irrational. However SJWs are worse because they usually claim to be atheist and rational while AGists at least confess that they have faith.

Rationality involves removing filters when enough evidence shows up against it. Hence a true rationalist should be able to convert to theism based on evidence if enough miracles show up even though they reject faith. However are you guys able to convert to agnosticism if there is sufficient evidence that AGism is unlikely to be correct?

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

Actually, I’ve never seen a discussion of SJWs and religion. It’s plausible that a lot of them are atheist/agnostic/spiritual but not religious, but I don’t have anything I’d call evidence.

I don’t think they claim to be rational, they claim to be right.

• Wrong Species says:

@HFA

Everyone is biased about something, even you. There is a belief you hold dearly that someone thinks is so ridiculous that no one should take you seriously. And when they bring it up you, you would dismiss their evidence which they see as just as a further sign of your “faith”. Just because you think they have ideological blinders when it comes to religion doesn’t mean they are irrationally biased on everything and should be ignored. It’s called compartmentalization.

• HFARationalist says:

@Wrong Species When I’m irrational I’m sometimes open about that and try to make myself more rational. We are all biased. However we are not equally biased. Furthermore compartmentalization is not legitimate.

At the very least my beliefs on sexuality never (directly) infect my beliefs on other topics too much through anti-epistemology.

• Evan Þ says:

@HFARationalist, I could say the same – I try to make myself more rational, and I try to avoid anti-epistemologies.

You’ve been saying religious bias is uniquely pervasive in that regard, but that remains to be shown – especially given that numerous branches of Christianity do not share your former terror at incurring Divine displeasure through rational consideration.

• Deiseach says:

At the very least my beliefs on sexuality never (directly) infect my beliefs on other topics too much through anti-epistemology.

Funny, I sorta kinda seem to remember a few comments you made about your dream transhumanist future in which sexuality of all sorts would be done away with, sexual desire would be hacked so it no longer existed, reproduction would be finished, no more babies because yucky, and the likes because all the energy humans expended on sex and romance could be put to better uses (like a world of STEM with all the useless crap like art cleared away).

• HFARationalist says:

@Deiseach I agree that this can cause bias. I don’t deny that I have strong bias against sexuality and a strong dose of cynicism towards the entire humanity. This does make my worldview very cynical.

One fact is clear. My refusal to get coupled does alienate myself from the rest of humanity hence my lifestyle is really just intellectual and asexual hedonism (i.e. I just want more knowledge and reason. To hell with the society! I refuse to have a child even if my childlessness will cause humanity to be extinct! Humans have rejected me, hence I reject humans!)

• Andrew Hunter says:

Deiseach: any chance I can convince you to just not touch the poop?

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

That’s an interesting angle of old beliefs coming back in a new form.

I’ve seen the argument (possibly from RAWilson) that Leary’s SMI(2)LE (Space Migration, Increased Intelligence, Life Extension) is a replay of go to heaven, be transfigured, become immortal.

I’ve wondered if FAI is rather like Orthodox Judaism– binding an powerful and dangerous entity with chains of logic.

• Deiseach says:

Andrew, please try. I keep telling myself not to get drawn in and I keep failing not to do so. If you can convince me to be reasonable, have at it!

• Nick says:

ideally, to believe something IS just to accept the conclusion itself

I don’t think this is the case. Many ideas have logical consequences, and working those out is nontrivial. For a belief which is foundational to purported systematic belief systems (like religions or ideologies), the onus is (in a weak way) on the new believer to show that all those purported consequences don’t follow, whether because they depend on other beliefs the new believer doesn’t share, or because the arguments for them aren’t valid. For someone who has a hard time working that out, or confidence that they do share most or all of those other beliefs already, or confidence that the arguments are actually valid, accepting all of it is not so irrational. So I definitely don’t approve of this “I’m the sort of person who would accept all of this” reasoning, but I do think there’s okay reasons for conversions of this sort, and that that may lead to someone “taking the party line” even if they should really evaluate how you get from A (which they accept) to Z.

• Shion Arita says:

Right, ideas have logical consequences, but they are either obvious or if they’re not the way you work out the consequences comes from the ‘type of person’ you are. Neither of those are coming from the belief itself.

I don’t think the onus is on the new believer because most ideologies seem to be arbitrary enough that you shouldn’t assume a priori that they’re cohesive. Since the ideology as a collective has evolved over time and doesn’t behave like an entity or agent (Moloch), the burden of proof should be on the ideology as a collective since it’s easier for it to get really weird and arbitrary from that process than just one person thinking things through.

• HFARationalist says:

I strongly agree.

I’m mad at both Nazis and leftists for attacking Jews for simply being successful. I’m mad at SJWs who fail to see a distinction between all anti-SJW movements. I’m mad at people who actually believe that Buzzword Racism and Buzzword Sexism have to be correlated.

• Deiseach says:

I think one of the goals of rationalism should be to get people to behave opposite of that statement, since ideally, to believe something IS just to accept the conclusion itself.

I think that might be good, but people aren’t like that – it’s difficult to say “Okay, I believe this but that has no bearing on what kind of person I am”. Indeed, we throw around accusations of hypocrisy if someone states they believe/disbelieve something but then don’t act/act in a way that contradicts or at the least does not live up to that (e.g. politicians having affairs).

People not wanting to accept themselves as the type of person who believes something often leads to people refusing to adopt beliefs that are probably true (for example atheism).

Wasn’t that one of the aims/tools of the newly aggressive strand of atheism back when it was at its peak? “We’re not going to be satisfied merely with arguing against religious belief, we’re going to make believing in gods/theism ridiculous so that people will be ashamed to admit they’re believers! By using mockery and ridicule we will make it so that nobody who wants to be thought of as cool or even normal will ever admit to being a believer!”

• Shion Arita says:

I remember there being a lot of posts mocking religous people. I’m not sure if it was consciously targeted to make people ashamed to admit they’re religious, but I understand what you mean.

And I disapprove of that tactic and its effects, intentional or unintentional. If people stopped believing in god only because they’re afraid of the social blowback, they’re only being accidentally accurate, and they’ve ended up practicing bad epistemology.

• Yosarian2 says:

And conversely, accepting oneself as the ‘type of person who believes something’ often leads to people taking party lines, and taking on beliefs that are probably not true because they fit the image of someone who believes the first thing (for example I don’t really see any reason that people’s beliefs about marijuana legalization should be correlated with their beliefs about the death penalty, but they definitely are).

That can be a very dangerous effect, but I wonder if this is something so deeply ingraned in the human mind that it’s easier to work around it and work with it then try to eliminate it.

I mean, you actually see that at work here. People say “I am a rationalist” or “I am part of the rationalist movement”, which means “I am the type of person who tends to believe the things that people in the rationalist movement believe in”, right? Of course, the rationalist movement is unusual in that part of the “ideology” is to question everything, including assumptions taken by the rationalist movement itself, but I think it still generally holds true.

Same thing for other, related movements; if someone says “I am a transhumanist” or even if someone says “I am an atheist” you can often make highly correct assumptions about what their beliefs are on a wide variety of subjects.

And that might not necessarally be a bad thing, either. For example, if you want to convince someone to support life extension research or friendly AI research or cryogenics or whatever, it might actually be easier to first get them into a mindset where they think “a transhumanist is something I would not mind being” first, since that inherently will make them more open to learning about and maybe accepting ideas under the “transhumanist” umbrella.

And that goes for shaping your own identity as well; if you start off with the idea that “I am a tolerant person”, or “I am a rational person”, that might make it easier for you to move past intolerant or irrational ideas that you have developed through the culture.

So, in short; recognize that this effect exists, but it might at least sometimes be better to work with it instead of trying to totally eliminate it, especially if the latter isn’t possible.

• James Banks says:

I read the latest Atlantic recently and felt myself not wanting to adopt their liberal (by which I mean centrist) views because of the kind of people they seemed like. They kept talking about how great the facts were and how some people weren’t fact-based people. They wanted everyone to submit to the facts. I don’t know how the writers really think or feel, but it felt like they thought they were on the side of the facts. They want people to be fact-based, and so they wanted everyone to think like they did.

The problem is that nobody really knows how to ascertain values rationally. So if you’re being told to submit to the facts, but you can just sense that they other person has the wrong values, what can you do but reject their facts? You may not be clever enough to argue around their presentation of the facts. But often enough factual discussions are proxy wars for pushing values on people, and you can feel it, even if you can’t put it into words. You know they’re wrong, they’re something like “icky people”, on a personal level they’re untrustworthy, their values are wrong, but you can’t prove it, anymore than they can prove their values. I think values-preference partially (or wholly?) explains why some people are rationalists, some people are Atlantic-type liberals, some people are alt-right people, some people are Abrahamic, etc. A deconversion from a religion or ideology might be more often a value-alignment with something new. For instance to leave a religious faith may have more to do with adopting new values (perhaps liberalism) which go along with emphasizing a certain kind of activity, of detached thought and individualism. This is what gets some people to start questioning their faiths, this heart’s attraction to something-like-liberalism. The factual cascade, leading to the agnostic or atheistic beliefs, is secondary.

One could hope that, for instance, the alt-righters, the Southern Christians, (and the Atlantic-type liberals) are clinging to sacred, holy, beautiful values (amidst whatever might be evil), and that it is not for us to intellectually cleanse them from the earth, but rather to adopt those values ourselves, and then approach them with the facts. Maybe people will cling to their evil values, but one could at least attempt to find the beautiful ones and identify with them first, to come into alignment with the better people in each culture. I’m open to better liberals than what I see or project from the Atlantic, for instance, rationalist liberals. But I don’t trust militant reason that would just make the earth dull-hearted.

• Wrong Species says:

A deconversion from a religion or ideology might be more often a value-alignment with something new.

This is an oversimplification. Many people go from religious to atheist not because they stopped wanting to be a christian but because they couldn’t justify it to themselves. Those people are existentially lost until they can find some purpose. When some people first hear about muggle realism, they violently reject it at first. Only after they believed it do their views shift to the right. Values influence factual beliefs but it also works the other way around.

• James Banks says:

Values precede all facts, because values inform how we look for facts, how we define what a fact is. Some facts affect values, but those facts themselves depend on values. So its value-war all the way down. But only if you look hard, and don’t have any boundaries as a thinker. If you have boundaries, if you don’t look too hard, then there is still a “one right worldview which can be proven through explicit public reasoning” out there, somewhere.

It sounds like I’m saying “anything goes, epistemically”. While in theory you can posit any fact you want given a starting value set, we don’t tend to actually do that. We are limited by what helps us to survive. Dead (or sufficiently marginalized) people don’t form public discourse, don’t flesh out the details of a given worldview to satisfying verisimilitude. Unfortunately, this means that what we believe in most firmly and unselfquestioningly might just be what Moloch “wants” us to believe, and likewise what we fail to notice or believe in, might be what Moloch is blinding us to.

Maybe what we call “reality” really is what is livable to humans, not what is rigorously true, if there’s a conflict between the two. But then we aren’t rationalists, we’re humanists, and we’re no longer aimed at the unyielding truth, we’re aimed at the human-aligned belief-set. If reality is fundamentally personal, then absolutely we might be able to look at it as it is livable to us, in its very nature. In that case, reason and (a certain kind of personal universe-aligned) humanism are compatible, humanism being a subset of reason. Our moral sense might really be part of the universe, which is itself personal. A personal universe could have values inherent in it, and these could guide our search for facts.

• Wrong Species says:

If you’re saying that people only accept something that generally clashes with their values because they have the value of intellectual honesty, then I guess you’re technically right but “all facts come from values” is trivially true and not as profound as you originally made it out to be. If that’s not what you meant then you’re just wrong. Anecdotes are enough to disprove strong sweeping statements and I am an example of someone having encountered a factual belief that nauseated me at first only to relectuctanly accept it later.

• James Banks says:

If you’re saying that people only accept something that generally clashes with their values because they have the value of intellectual honesty, then I guess you’re technically right but “all facts come from values” is trivially true and not as profound as you originally made it out to be. If that’s not what you meant then you’re just wrong. Anecdotes are enough to disprove strong sweeping statements and I am an example of someone having encountered a factual belief that nauseated me at first only to relectuctanly accept it later.

I think I was talking past you. Sorry.

Yes, I think if a person finds a belief to be nauseating, yet unavoidably true, and then accepts it (to the point of it not being nauseating anymore), there was a shift in their values, and that was caused by their commitment to intellectual honesty. (Likely enough, though there might be other possibilities depending on circumstances.) It might not have been the deepest shift (I may diligently and less-emotionally (and relentlessly) fight against the formerly nauseating reality), but on some level, just to believe something that was more or less too abhorrent to believe means that I’m not as against it as I used to be.

Intellectual honesty means (I guess) that we see what we see, the best we know how. I think if I’m intellectually honest, I might see something different than some other intellectually honest person. “The best we know how” is different for different people. We expect reality to be a certain kind of thing before we investigate, and this affects our personal best practices, and thus what we ultimately see. Our relationship with trust, risk, and death also affects the methods we trust in as aspiring knowers. If you want to believe only true things, then go the epistemically least risky route, and only believe natural science that replicates and a few other things (or, go ahead and be a skeptic and only believe in the present moment that you sense by yourself right now). If you want to believe as many true things as possible, you might be okay with having 10% of your beliefs be false, not knowing which they were, if it gave you many more true beliefs than the least-risky way would. Yes, one of those false beliefs might kill you some day, but if the way you relate to death is such that that seems acceptable to you, so be it. Then there’s the question of, how do you have the most valuable, meaningful, useful, etc. body of beliefs. You could know a lot but miss something important. (I’m not sure what strategy a person would use to pursue this, but we seem to be able to look back on our past selves and say “that guy/gal was missing something important”.) I think in practice, people go back and forth between trusting propositions that are probably true, and retreating to trusting fewer propositions but only the surest.

• Yosarian2 says:

I think that is overwhelmingly what happens. People who were liberal or libertarian or conservative or socialist or whatever before they joined the rationalist movement don’t seem to fundamentally change their political values, or if they do they change them in unpredictable directions, not all in the same way; in fact, in rationalist circles you tend see a real diversity of political thought.

I do worry a little bit though about the fact that usually the smarter and better informed someone is, the easier it is for them to rationalize their own biases; maybe that’s all we’re doing here, and the only people willing to describe themselves as rationalists are the people who are able to rationalize their own beliefs and defend them with piles of logic and evidence, to such an extent that they can consider themselves both rationalists and (insert political ideology here) without seeing a conflict?

• Aapje says:

If people rationalize well, their beliefs are at least not super at odds with facts and logic. I see it as a win in itself if people build up a really strong bailey around the stuff where science becomes fuzzy enough to make their remaining biases not obviously incorrect.

At a certain point they may even accidentally move so far to the edge of their self-identity by steelmanning their beliefs that they accidentally become very similar to the most sensible of their opponents. Like the blogger that Scott dates or used to date who identifies as feminist/SJ, but is more similar to many progressive anti-feminists/anti-SJs when it comes to many beliefs involving gender.

Or the uber-libertarian on this forum who has a very favorable opinion of Sweden, just like most social-democrats.

Ultimately it’s not surprising that people end up with dissimilar beliefs, because it’s pretty obvious that different people have different needs, different experiences, different craziness, etc; which all informs their goals and values. At least a lot of people here seem to be willing to investigate their personal flavor of irrationality, which is much preferable in my mind to those who believe that they have the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything*.

* 42

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

I recommend the Matt Lewis link, and it connects to here, about conservatives being able to choose who they include in their movement, and that they can and should disassociate themselves from white supremicists.

• The Nybbler says:

they can and should disassociate themselves from white supremicists.

Reminds me of the story about Lyndon Johnson suggesting his opponent had “intimate relations” with a pig (if the story is true I’m sure Johnson didn’t use the euphemism). His campaign manager said “Sir, you know he doesn’t do that!”. Johnson replied “I know that, but I want him to deny it.”

The media keeps associating libertarians (one group of which threw Spencer out of a convention he crashed, according to Lewis), Gavin McInnes (who DID distance himself from Charlottesville, BEFORE the event), Moldbug (still Jewish), and everyone else they can stick with the alt-right label with white supremacists, and they do this not because there is truth behind it but because it serves their purposes. Denying it and distancing does not help; just the opposite, it paradoxically cements the idea of relationship as with Shakespeare’s “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.

• . says:

I don’t think this is the media’s fault. Non-violent law-abiding Muslims are constantly trying disassociate from Jihadists, and every head of state and major newspaper in the West trumpets it as hard as they can. It still doesn’t work.

• HFARationalist says:

Islamism needs to be destroyed. Then persecution and fear of Muslims will naturally disappear.

During the early 20th century there was no global hatred towards Muslims. I believe people in the Middle East will find their path into modernity and stable prosperity while Islam will be like modern Christianity or get destroyed.

• The Nybbler says:

The only distinction between the jihadists and the other Muslims is the lack of killing people. This is a pretty major distinction, but it’s the only one. If there were groups of libertarians going around murdering “statists”, other libertarians would be hard-pressed to disassociate regardless. On the other hand, libertarians and fascists are (obviously) rather different; the association in this case is created by the media.

• HeelBearCub says:

Muslims is the lack of killing people.

Not true, not kind, and definitely not necessary.

• HFARationalist says:

@The Nybbler There are also other distinctions. For example a Shia Muslim is much less likely to kill people compared to a Sunni one. A Salafi Muslim is much more likely to kill people compared to a non-Sunni one. A sufficiently secular Muslim-in-name-only does not wear distinctive clothing so they are unlikely to support Islamism.

@HeelBearCub I disagree with the true/kind/necessary rule. I just wish that all posts are as true as possible. Then it should not contain ad hominem. That’s it. Requiring that some post is kind results in SJWism.

• . says:

@Nybbler: your extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence. Do you truly believe this, or are you just trying to act as a counterweight to elite conventional wisdom?

@HFARationalist: the kind/true/necessary rule is needed in order to avoid groupthink. Sometimes you and your tribe might be wrong about things. If you are kind to people who disagree with you, they might be able to correct your false beliefs. More importantly, groupthink is maintained by deprecating people who disagree with your group, and being scrupulously kind to your opponents (especially when they are not present) can prevent this.

@HFARationalist
It’s a big internet. You are free to set up your own blog and use whatever rules you like in the comment section of it.

• HFARationalist says:

@Brad I apready have a forum, Rationalitycorner. You are free to use it. 🙂

@. Thanks! I assume that this works.

• . says:

Haha to be fair, I can’t prove that this works as advertised. But this website is strong anecdotal evidence (-:

• HFARationalist says:

@. Yes. My only complaint is that there are too many AG-worshipping people who haven’t all identified themselves.

The problem here is not really AGism itself but anti-epistemology. If an AGist only believes in messed up things about AG then it’s fine. However AGists here are mostly quasi-rational and hence are likely to have lots of anti-epistemology like I had when I was an AGist. Hence all posts by quasi-rational AGists here may be corrupted by AGism and its related anti-epistemology.

• Charles F says:

My only complaint is that there are too many AG-worshipping people who haven’t all identified themselves.

Hmm, yes. We really ought to be able to see at a glance who is an AG-worshiper in order to protect our rationality. Perhaps if we put a little cross/star of david/star+crescent next to their usernames. Just for epistemic caution of course.

(I don’t actually think this a good idea)

• Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

Perhaps if we put a little cross/star of david/star+crescent next to their usernames. Just for epistemic caution of course.

That’s so passé, multiple parenthesis is where it’s at.

• HFARationalist says:

@Charles F Nah. That sounds like Nazis. However we do need to be able to know who actually believes in AG so that we can discard their posts that contain clear anti-epistemology.

Dogmatic SJWs and other people also need anti-epistemology as well so again let’s take their words with a grain of salt.

• The Nybbler says:

@Nybbler: your extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence. Do you truly believe this, or are you just trying to act as a counterweight to elite conventional wisdom?

What’s extraordinary? How do you distinguish a Muslim jihadist who just hasn’t killed anyone in the name of Islam yet from a Muslim non-jihadist who won’t ever kill anyone in the name of Islam? You can break into large groups like Sunni and Shia, but there’s still a lot of non-jihadist Sunni out there, so that doesn’t change the statement much.

You can’t narrow down to some small subgroup, distinguished by something other than their murderous views and actions, and say “there’s where the murderers are”. If we could, it’d be pretty easy to solve the immigration security issue; we just wouldn’t let that subgroup in.

Contrarily, it’s easy to tell a libertarian from a neo-Nazi, without even considering whether either has killed anyone. The ones with the swastika flags, fascist symbols, chanting “you (or Jews) will not replace us”, and calling for the expulsion or extermination of non-whites… _those_ are the neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

• Charles F says:

we do need to be able to know who actually believes in AG so that we can discard their posts that contain clear anti-epistemology.

If the post contains clear anti-epistemology, we don’t need to know anything about the poster to disregard it.

• 1soru1 says:

> Contrarily, it’s easy to tell a libertarian from a neo-Nazi, without even considering whether either has killed anyone.

Maybe easy for you, but I bet say a Saudi cop would do better at the former than the latter.

Is there some kind of objective test?

• HFARationalist says:

@Charles F I agree.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

“How do you distinguish a Muslim jihadist who just hasn’t killed anyone in the name of Islam yet from a Muslim non-jihadist who won’t ever kill anyone in the name of Islam”

How can you tell whether anyone is going to be a murderer or not?

Well, actually, men tend to be more violent than women…..

• The Nybbler says:

How can you tell whether anyone is going to be a murderer or not?

Well, actually, men tend to be more violent than women…..

Yes. Nobody considers that unkind to notice, however. And of course there are a lot of other differences between men and women; nobody sane would seriously suggest that if a woman tends to be in groups where there are a lot of men that she’s likely a man and a murderer.

• Nick says:

@. Yes. My only complaint is that there are too many AG-worshipping people who haven’t all identified themselves.

The problem here is not really AGism itself but anti-epistemology. If an AGist only believes in messed up things about AG then it’s fine. However AGists here are mostly quasi-rational and hence are likely to have lots of anti-epistemology like I had when I was an AGist. Hence all posts by quasi-rational AGists here may be corrupted by AGism and its related anti-epistemology.

HFARationalist, to be perfectly frank, the last several open threads have seen you repeatedly schooled by “AGists” on everything from religion to politics to the basic terms under debate, not to mention rationality itself. You are the last person here qualified to say that “AGists here are mostly quasi-rational” or to accuse them of having “lots of anti-epistemology” or to suggest that their posts are “corrupted by AGism.” You are especially the last person in a position to complain that AGists haven’t all identified themselves, given that you are displaying prejudice against them in this very post.

• andrewflicker says:

As an atheist, I second Nick.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

Abolishing Islam is more practical than abolishing men, but not enough more practical.

• Deiseach says:

The only distinction between the jihadists and the other Muslims is the lack of killing people.

Rather more than that; the Jihadists (ironically, in view of all the Western thinkpieces calling for an “Islamic Reformation”) are the ones with a very conservative and fundamentalist view of Islam, a Sola Scriptura view where only the unadorned word of the Qu’ran and no later interpretations or accretions count. Hence the iconoclasm, heretic-hunting, smashing tombs of saints as places of pilgrimage because of idolatry, imposing dress codes and social controls, etc.

• The Nybbler says:

@Deiseach

You mean there are significant groups of Muslims who don’t believe in the dress codes and social control, accept that drawing Muhammed is OK, etc? My impression is that all that is _mainstream_ Islam (Sunni and Shia both), and the more liberal groups are a dwindling exception.

@Nancy Lebovitz

I didn’t call for abolishing either one. I’m just claiming that the reason Muslims in general get lumped in with jihadis, and libertarians get lumped in with neo-Nazis, are different.

• Deiseach says:

However AGists here are mostly quasi-rational and hence are likely to have lots of anti-epistemology like I had when I was an AGist.

You diverted a developing discussion about Islamophobia into talking about your own hobbyhorses. HFARationalist, you are not an autistic, you are a narcissist.

Nobody cares if you had a pink or a blue blankie when you were three. Unless it is relevant to the topic (and “I am so much smarter because I was able to discard all the programming and those fools weren’t” is not relevant), stop going off on tangents.

• Deiseach says:

You mean there are significant groups of Muslims who don’t believe in the dress codes and social control, accept that drawing Muhammed is OK, etc?

I think there are Muslims who don’t wear headscarves, would like their religious figures to be treated with respect (and the “drawing Muhammed” was not about respect, it was about deliberate mockery; I thought it was a bad idea because whatever about free speech, it was also defending the right to be offensive and that draws in a lot more people than ‘mad bombers’, the same way that there is a difference between drawing an image of Christ and one that is meant to be a poke in the eye) and would like to be able to live in a secular society as Muslims without having to either continually deny they’re mad bombers or adopt all the shibboleths of the progressive.

I think when the Western response is “stop believing in your religion as is and instead adopt a nice, liberal, watered-down version that is acceptable to Western sensibilities – be the Muslim equivalent of an Episcopalian”, that pushes a lot of moderate or would like to be moderate Muslims to a defence of their faith that is more fundamental.

I think the main problem is the assumption that anything stronger than “there are many paths up the mountain” means the same as “mad bomber”. Conservative Christians get this (the “so if you think abortion is murder, why aren’t you calling for women who had abortions to be put in jail?” and “you’re the same as a clinic bomber, aren’t you? I mean you believe the same thing they believe” lines) and I think Muslims get it too, and I think there is increasing radicalisation in Muslim countries (Turkey is particularly worrying and what is going on in Indonesia isn’t great, either) and whatever the solution is, it is not going to be helped by “The only difference between you and them is that you haven’t killed anyone yet”.

• Wrong Species says:

Let’s say we had a Turing test with a libertarian and a neo-Nazi. They will always answer your questions accurately. You can ask them anything except “is it ok to use violence against political minorities other than in self defense”. What kind of questions would you ask? I think asking what is the role of government would suffice.

Now take a conservative Muslim and a jihadi. You can ask them anything except their views on violence against infidels. What do we ask them?

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

“Now take a conservative Muslim and a jihadi. You can ask them anything except their views on violence against infidels. What do we ask them?”

You could ask them whether they believe they’re obligated to obey the laws of the government where they live.

This wouldn’t cover all the cases, but it would at least be a start.

• HFARationalist says:

@Nick I apologize. No offense is intended. Maybe compartmentalization works for you but it certainly did not work for me. I know that it was irrational and since I had lots of time to think about everything it evolved into more and more serious forms of anti-epistemology. I know that it is possible for a cherished belief to cause bullshit rationalization and have experienced it myself. Eventually I built an entire system of anti-epistemology so that I was at peace. However such systems of anti-epistemology can be very dangerous.

Furthermore you are probably not an autist. One fact about autism is that it can lead to extremism. An anti-epistemological idea inside the mind of a non-autist is less dangerous compared to the same idea inside the mind of an autist. If an autist does believe in something they are likely to actually act as if the stuff they believe is correct. We are less likely to be into groupthinking. However this also means we are much more likely to become completely dysfunctional over what you non-autists consider trivial or insignificant.

Maybe you can somehow have faith (in fact whether someone is an AGist does not matter, it is whether they believe they have enough evidence to support their claims that do) and rationality but I can’t. I love pondering about even the most trivial idea. Keeping a cherished belief for me can actually lead to lots of anti-epistemology.

• 1soru1 says:

> I think asking what is the role of government would suffice.

Rand al-Hitler says:
‘Government is a necessary evil for defending against existential threats ‘

• Evan Þ says:

@Nancy Lebovitz, suppose he answers, “No, I do not think I am obligated to obey laws mandating I provide cakes for gay weddings.” Next?

@HFARationalist, I think you’re dangerously missing Nick’s point.

• Nick says:

@Nick I apologize. No offense is intended. Maybe compartmentalization works for you but it certainly did not work for me.

I’m afraid I don’t accept this apology, on the grounds that you show no repentance for the statements I’m responding to. I’m not saying I’m offended, and I would never have commented just to say that. I’m saying that you’re wrong, and if you care about the truth as much as you say, you should be paying attention to that. Let me try this one more time….

My point above was that the last several threads have shown that—regardless of whether you want to hear it—you have a lot to learn from theists. That doesn’t mean that you need to accept their beliefs as your own, but it does mean you need to be willing to engage with their ideas. What you did above to rahien.din is a prime example of your being unwilling to do this. This, more than anything, I’m telling you to knock off—for your own good.

I’m sorry for your terrible experiences with Christianity, but a site like this, where people enjoy talking about ideas and where some people are Christian, is not a suitable safe space for you. Indeed, someone here might even, with the utmost care and caution, suggest that you drop the defeatist attitude and confront whatever you’re afraid of, because that’s the only way to grow as a person and to grow closer to the truth. Please don’t blame them. We’re rationalists here, and we can’t help being influenced by that.

• Deiseach says:

Furthermore you are probably not an autist.

Cut that out. Several people have already told you that using “I am an autist” is not a Get Out Of Jail Free card. If you genuinely cannot stop this kind of tic (“I’m an autist! I’m autistic! Don’t blame me, it’s my autism!”) every time you get criticised in order to avoid engaging with the criticism then maybe you should read and re-read any comments before you post them and delete the extreme “I love this, this is a killer point, oh boy this will make them sit up and take notice” parts you particularly cherish, because usually it’s those parts where you come off as off in your own little world with no attachment to the one the rest of us are living in.

• rahien.din says:

Nancy Lebovitz,

Abolishing Islam is more practical than abolishing men, but not enough more practical.

As a dude, this made me laugh.

HFARationalist,

we autists are much more likely to become completely dysfunctional over _____

Consider that you are currently becoming completely dysfunctional over your anti-“anti-epistemology.” You may have escaped from extremism into… another form of extremism.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

Actually, I bet there isn’t anything in any Abrahamic holy book which forbids baking cakes for gay weddings.

• rlms says:

@Wrong Species
“Let’s say we had a Turing test with a libertarian and a neo-Nazi. They will always answer your questions accurately. You can ask them anything except “is it ok to use violence against political minorities other than in self defense”. What kind of questions would you ask? I think asking what is the role of government would suffice.”
Taking central examples of each ideology, there are lots of things that would work, e.g. “How much should the government regulate businesses?” or “Should we drastically increase immigration from non-white countries?”. In a less convenient world where the Nazi is an ex-libertarian and still likes markets, and the libertarian is kinda racist, you probably need something like “Are public perceptions of the Holocaust accurate?”. If your neo-Nazi isn’t anti-semitic (possibly that is a contradiction for neo-Nazis, but I think it’s possible if we change it to a libertarian and a white supremacist), it gets harder.

“Now take a conservative Muslim and a jihadi. You can ask them anything except their views on violence against infidels. What do we ask them?” That depends. If the conservative Muslim is stipulated to share the views of the jihadi but disdain violence, then obviously it’s impossible. Otherwise, you ask them about one of the things they have differing opinions about.

• Evan Þ says:

@Nancy Lebovitz, in other news, “Jesus never said ANYTHING about felony home invasion!” Even though the Bible and Quran don’t say anything about baking cakes for weddings as such, they do say a lot about not helping people in their sin. (At least, the Bible does, and I gather from Muslims’ behavior that the Quran agrees.) So, for someone who believes gay marriage is sin, the conclusion follows.

• Wrong Species says:

‘Government is a necessary evil for defending against existential threats ‘

Is this a serious answer? If someone told me that, I would just ask more questions until I got something less vague, like on free trade or minimum wages. Or maybe about government building roads and regulating finance. I don’t think you realize how different libertarians are from everyone else.

• HFARationalist says:

@Nick I see. I agree that we shouldn’t judge who is more rational than others based on whether they believe in AG. Even back then when I believed in AG I did encounter people who were less rational than myself. Dialogues and learning are always good.

@Deiseach I do have a tendency to build my own pet theories. Explaining everything by autism and lack of autism makes no sense because this is just a one-size-fits-all theory which makes it useless.

• . says:

“Now take a conservative Muslim and a jihadi. You can ask them anything except their views on violence against infidels. What do we ask them?” That depends. If the conservative Muslim is stipulated to share the views of the jihadi but disdain violence, then obviously it’s impossible.

On the contrary, you ask “do you disdain violence”. Pacifist Muslims, no matter how rabidly traditionalist, are as innocuous as the Amish and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Obvious rejoinder: it’s not enough for them to disdain violence – that’s an ephemeral, emotional thing. For a true counterexample we’d need to see an ideological opposition to violence, the way that libertarians are ideologically opposed to fascists.

Rejoinder to the rejoinder: religions don’t work like this[*]; except maybe for the Catholics they’re just not thought out that explicitly. The Jewish scriptures are explicitly pro-genocide; nonetheless the Israel is at worst a run-of-the-mill colonial regime. Besides being a waste of time, looking to deep ideological roots allows unlimited no-true-Scotsmaning.

A better criterion is to look to laws, where we see that even theocracies like Saudi Arabia and Iran oppose terrorism and religious war.

Obvious rejoinder: no they don’t, they support it.

Rejoinder to the rejoinder: They’re happy to use it, just like the US was happy to ignore the electoral victory of Hamas despite being pro-democracy. They can still oppose it on net.

[*] And neither do political movements, like non-academic libertarianism.

• JulieK says:

HFARationalist wrote:

My only complaint is that there are too many AG-worshipping people who haven’t all identified themselves.

I am a religious Jew. Feel free to disregard anything I write.
[In case anyone is wondering about the timestamp on this comment, over here it is 9:42 pm.]

• The Nybbler says:

[In case anyone is wondering about the timestamp on this comment, over here it is 9:42 pm.]

Now there’s an interesting question I’m sure a rabbi or 3 has considered… is there any sort of trouble resulting from doing something on Friday or Sunday which causes an effect prohibited on the Sabbath in a time zone where it is the Sabbath. For a silly simple example, consider shooting a flaming arrow across the terminator such that it sets a pile of tinder on fire on the other side. Actually better make it a laser, the terminator moves really fast.

(it’s really Saturday here, I’m not observant)

• Montfort says:

@The Nybbler, I expect it would go pretty much along the same lines as Sabbath timers, right?

• you ask “do you disdain violence”. Pacifist Muslims, no matter how rabidly traditionalist, are as innocuous as the Amish and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Practically nobody, Christian or Muslim, disdains violence. How many Americans think that the U.S. should not have fought WWII? How many Americans believe that whichever side he favors in the Civil War should have surrendered instead of fighting?

The original question was about conservative Muslims, not pacifist Muslims. I don’t suppose a pacifist Muslim is impossible, any more than a pacifist Jew, but in both cases pacifism makes a poor fit with the religious texts.

• Mary says:

“is there any sort of trouble resulting from doing something on Friday or Sunday which causes an effect prohibited on the Sabbath in a time zone where it is the Sabbath”

No. It is perfectly fine to, for instance, set up an automatic system, not during Sabbath, to turn the lights on and off on the Sabbath, so all that matters is whether it’s Sabbath for you.

• rlms says:

But the fact that Spencer did decide to crash a libertarian conference is relevant. Reporting it might smear some innocent libertarians, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. I don’t think Gavin “much less [sic] than six million [were murdered in the Holocaust] and they starved to death and they weren’t gassed” can complain too much about being associated with white supremacists. I’m pretty sure Moldbug has either openly stated or at least implied that he supports racial slavery, in which case he definitely can’t complain (although I don’t think he’s widely known outside the internet, so I doubt the media is smearing him anyway).

• The Nybbler says:

But the fact that Spencer did decide to crash a libertarian conference is relevant.

Relevant to what? “Neo-nazi crashes libertarian conference, gets thrown out” is not at all support for the proposition of some sort of positive association between neo-Nazis and libertarians.

• rlms says:

He didn’t crash the DNC, or a Peta meeting for instance. It indicates that he likes libertarians, and is evidence that his friends do to. It doesn’t tell us much about what libertarians think about him (and indeed the fact that they threw him out suggests “not much” is the answer), but it is notable nevertheless.

• Wrong Species says:

@rlms

Let’s say David Duke endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012 just because he didn’t want a black President. Does that tell us anything about how racist Romney is?

• rlms says:

@Wrong Species
Did you read my most recent comment? I’m saying that “Spencer crashes libertarian meeting” gives us useful information about Spencer, but not much about libertarians. Likewise, David Duke endorsing Romney tells us little about Romney, especially if Duke explicitly gives his reasons.

Side note: since you bring up David Duke, it is interesting that he endorsed Trump but in 2008 was ambivalent about whether he preferred McCain or Obama.

• Wrong Species says:

@rlms

If they threw him out then what exactly do you think Spencer trying to crash a libertarian conference says? Either tell us or stop vaguely trying to hint at something because although you are careful not to explicitly say it, you are definitely trying to imply the racism of libertarians with your hinting.

• rlms says:

@Wrong Species
It suggests that there is something about libertarianism that he likes. I’m not saying that they’re racist, or even that he thinks they’re racist, although those are possible explanations. From the article linked above, it could also be that he thinks libertarians will be open to unusual and unpopular ideas such as his. I don’t know what explanation is correct, but an explanation is demanded.

• Wrong Species says:

An explanation isn’t demanded unless you assume that libertarians are courting racists in some way. If a Stalinist endorsed Bernie Sanders, you wouldn’t say that this demanded an explanation. This whole thing where you imply that libertarians are racist but in a way that has plausible deniability is very tiresome and unconvincing.

• rlms says:

Stalinist support for Bernie Sanders certainly would demand an explanation! Anyone supporting anyone else demands an explanation. Often the explanation is pretty obvious so no-one cares. That isn’t the case for Spencer-libertarians, unless you are deeply uncharitable towards the latter, and I don’t think it is for Stalinists-Sanders either (but in any case that’s irrelevant).

• MrApophenia says:

Hey, I’ll say it. There are libertarian positions which are extremely racist-friendly, the most notable of which is opposition to government protections of racial minorities. Ron Paul was very outspoken in his opposition to the civil rights act, and libertarians often defend the right to “freedom of association” specifically as an ability to do things like “only serve/hire white people.”

Now, I absolutely believe that lots of libertarians hold these views out of a maximalist view of individual liberty. But I also don’t think it is a coincidence that the only even slightly significant political movement in the US that openly argues for the elimination of the bulk of the laws against racist practices happens to draw a bunch of racists.

And then you also get into the fact that you have some major libertarian hero figures like Ron Paul who had longtime connections to some of the proto-versions of the type of movements we are discussing.

Back in 2008 the New Republic decided to go deeper than the handful of excerpts everyone had heard about with racism in a couple of old newsletters.

https://newrepublic.com/article/61771/angry-white-man

“But, whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul’s name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him–and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays.”

Not going to quote the whole thing but it is worth a read.

The Venn diagram of libertarian and white supremacist is not new and has always had some very noticeable overlap.

• Reading the New Republic piece, I don’t see any examples of bigotry against Jews. There are some negative comments about Israel but they look as though they are motivated by foreign policy concerns, not anti-semitism. Not all that different from attitudes one sees nowadays on the left.

• MrApophenia says:

Yeah, agreed, actually. But the racial stuff contains things that go farther than Richard Spencer.

• toastengineer says:

So how DO you deal with it? Just dismissing it seems like it would work, as soon as your opponent starts with the Godwinning you just interrupt, say “cut it out,” and re-state your point to bring attention back on to what your actual beliefs are instead of “you don’t really believe that, you’re actually a Nazi.”

But how do you do that when your opponent is in almost total control of the means of communication?

• Yosarian2 says:

The first time I saw an article that identified the term “alt-right” and included both groups like white supremacists and nazis as well as neo-reactionaries and the “manosphere” and so on wasn’t the mainstream media trying to attack those groups, it was Milo’s article on “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right”.

I don’t think it’s accurate to blame “the media” for this grouping; as far as I can tell, this was a label and a grouping created from within the alt-right movement labeling themselves, and even when they created this general label they knew there were a certain number of white supremacists within that umbrella and didn’t seem to care at the time.

• Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

I don’t think it’s accurate to blame “the media” for this grouping; as far as I can tell, this was a label and a grouping created from within the alt-right movement labeling themselves, and even when they created this general label they knew there were a certain number of white supremacists within that umbrella and didn’t seem to care at the time.

I think this is backwards, when “the media” started just calling everyone to the right of Clinton who knew what a meme was as “alt-right”, a bunch of people went ahead and said “sure, why not?” (In Milo’s case, it was probably opportunistic base-building), then it turned out there was a group who called themselves alt-right, and had a very particular set of beliefs, and everything got messy and complicated.

• Yosarian2 says:

I think you have the order of causality backwards.

First of all, as far as I can tell, Milo and Breitbart in general started trying to do “base building” around the concept of the “alt-right” before the mainstream media was actually talking abut the “alt-right” as a thing. In other words, there were a significant group of people calling themselves “alt-right” and organizing online as such before the media started talking about it; it wasn’t something created by the media, it was something created by the group itself, and then the media reported on it. (Although I agree that by the vague and fuzzy nature of the group, a lot of people who might not have thought of themselves as alt-right got kind of lumped in by the label.)

Secondly, when Milo wrote that article, he clearly knew that a significant part of what he called the “alt-right” were, well, actual Nazis. If you read the article, he talks abut the “1488’ers” as being part of the movement (“88” being code for “heil Hitler”) although he tries to dismiss them and to claim that the rest of the alt right “wishes they would go away”. Even beyond that, he does talk significantly about “white identity” being a core part of what makes the alt-right different from the “normal” conservatives.

So, it’s not they didn’t know what the alt-right was; they knew, they just didn’t care, because they were trying to create a new political movement that encompassed a lot of groups that felt left-out by mainstream conservationism, and they knew that that would by necessity have to include at least some white supremacist groups.

Also, the whole alt-right and neo-reactionary movement always had a slogan/ ethos that you “never punch right” and that there are “no enemies on the right”, which makes it inherently hard for them to criticize or distance themselves from other groups more extreme then they are.

• Anatoly says:

As someone who also paid a lot of attention to the alt-right and the neo-reactionaries before them, I think Yosarian2’s story is completely accurate.

• cassander says:

@Yosarian2

I don’t think you’re wrong, exactly, but I think you’re overstating the case. to call the alt-right significant before a year or two ago is extremely generous. There were tiny, groups that might have recognized one another as vaguely kindred spirits, but there was no organization, no presence in the real world, no meetings, no rallies, nothing that could be called a movement. there had been something of a movement in the 90s, under the label paleo-con, but it had largely fallen apart. A few years ago “reactionary” had started to get a little ink as an umbrella term, but then comes this year’s election, and as whatever says, the media started calling everyone who voted for a trump alt-right.

As for the notion of never punch right, that’s an idea that’s been honored more in the breach than the observance. It’s a lesson that some on the right have tried to impart based on what they observe (not at all inaccurately, imho) as an extremely successful left wing strategy. But various alt-right factions have never had trouble critiquing each other. they almost can’t avoid it, in fact, because unlike the leftist groups, they have massively different conceptions of the world they want to build.

• Iain says:

As for the notion of never punch right, that’s an idea that’s been honored more in the breach than the observance. It’s a lesson that some on the right have tried to impart based on what they observe (not at all inaccurately, imho) as an extremely successful left wing strategy. But various alt-right factions have never had trouble critiquing each other. they almost can’t avoid it, in fact, because unlike the leftist groups, they have massively different conceptions of the world they want to build.

You are falling prey to outgroup homogeneity bias.The activist left is notoriously prone to infighting, to the extent that Monty Python parodied it in Life of Brian: “Fuck off! ‘Judean People’s Front’? We’re the People’s Front of Judea!”

• cassander says:

@Iain

there’s a difference between squabbling and condemning. on the left, those further to their left are, at worse, misguided but well intentioned, almost never an evil enemy to be cast out and opposed, forever condemned. Just compare, say, the level of opprobrium directed towards, say, Walter Duranty vs. Lindbergh, or Buckley’s purge of the right vs. the small efforts the left made to purge communists, briefly, in the 50s.

• . says:

@Cassander: Welfare capitalists (like the democratic party) are consistently anti-communist. And the mainstream right has also been consistently anti-theocratic; my point is that “Don’t punch [direction]” is a weird and novel principle.

(Which suggests it is maladaptive, probably through the mechanism we are seeing right now, where the people who adopt it get dragged down by the most heinous folks in their direction.)

• cassander says:

@.

Welfare capitalists (like the democratic party) are consistently anti-communist. And the mainstream right has also been consistently anti-theocratic; my point is that “Don’t punch [direction]” is a weird and novel principle.

Not really. They were legitimately anti-communist for a couple years in the late 40s and early 50s, but they soon hopped on the anti-anti-communist bandwagon and have been kosher with communism (if not always actual communist states) ever since. Show me anyone on the left who condemns anti-fa or IWW with 1/10th of the vehemence that the right condemns the KKK.

my point is that “Don’t punch [direction]” is a weird and novel principle.

Novel? no enemies to the left is a slogan and policy more than a century old.

(Which suggests it is maladaptive, probably through the mechanism we are seeing right now, where the people who adopt it get dragged down by the most heinous folks in their direction.)

depends what you mean by maladaptive. It has burned people, the coiner most especially, but in terms of moving politics leftwards it’s been enormously successful.

• Just compare, say, the level of opprobrium directed towards, say, Walter Duranty vs. Lindbergh, or Buckley’s purge of the right vs. the small efforts the left made to purge communists, briefly, in the 50s.

On the other hand, consider Stalinists vs Trotskyites c. WWII. The Stalinists were accusing the Trots of being “objectively pro-Nazi.”

• HFARationalist says:

Why shall anyone disassociate themselves with white supremacists? To me (sole) White Supremacy without leaving any room to others is just an impossible ideal for some so why shall we even care? The problem is not Supremacism. Instead the problem is violent tribalism. For example Dylann Roof is ideologically a moderate for he considers Jews white and Northeast Asians great. That put him in the H.BDer range. However he has shot people while real White Supremacists on Stormfront mostly haven’t. The problem isn’t mere extreme beliefs. Instead what people do about their beliefs are at least equally important.

The only thing we need to care about is stopping violence.

• Evan Þ says:

The only thing we need to care about is stopping violence.

I agree. But unfortunately, many people will respond that “words are violence.”

• HFARationalist says:

I disagree. Words aren’t inherently violent unless they incite violence.

• keranih says:

@HFA –

What do we do about people who (in serious error, imo) who *do* say that “words are violence”? Or, not so much what do we do about the people as the point of view?

• The Nybbler says:

What do we do about people who (in serious error, imo) who *do* say that “words are violence”?

Best plan of action: consider them idiots on the level of Flat Earthers, and ignore them and everything that follows from their beliefs.

Most viscerally satisfying plan of action: Alternately talk to them and punch them in the face until they learn the difference.

• MrApophenia says:

Richard Spencer and his group explicitly argue for the creation of a whites-only ethno-state and removal of minorities by *mumble, mumble, don’t ask*.

Any ground he gains politically is an existential threat to the physical well-being of others.

“Words are violence” is being over-used a lot. Your professor who said something insensitive might be a dick, but that isn’t violence.

But incitement to violent action really is a thing, and I find the argument that we have to pretend people like Spencer are peaceful because they haven’t actually got an army to accomplish their violent goals with yet to be disingenuous at best.

• . says:

Or people who say “being fired for circulating a politically incorrect memo is violence?” (I bring this example up not because it is more awkward for the right but because it is more plausible. Well, maybe I bring it up for both reasons.)

• Trofim_Lysenko says:

Any ground he gains politically is an existential threat to the physical well-being of others.

If you had said “Richard Spencer’s Ideology in control of the organs of the state, or even part of it, would constitute an existential threat”, you might have a point.

What you said is both patently false and makes you sound like the people who talk about radical Islamists as an “Existential Threat” to Western Civilization.

• HFARationalist says:

@The Nybbler Richard Spencer won’t be an existential threat to humanity. A new Hitler will because a nuke-owning dude hellbent on exterminating Jews and a nuclear Israel trying her best to defend Jews are going to cause lots of places to be nuked.

The key distinction between mere white nationalism and white dominionism is whether a person believes that there should be a border beyond which white control ends. The key distinction between white dominionism and white Exterminationist Tribalism (please see the definition below) is whether a person believes that there should be a border beyond which non-whites, no matter how the term is defined, should be allowed to exist.

Nazism includes Gentile Exterminationist Tribalism as a part of its ideology.

P.S. Exterminationist Tribalism is a neologism which means an ideology that believes that everyone outside a tribe must be exterminated.

• Any ground he gains politically is an existential threat to the physical well-being of others.

That’s true of pretty nearly every political position from the standpoint of its opponents. Any ground gained by supporters of Obamacare is an existential threat to the physical well-being, indeed the life, of others, from the standpoint of someone who believes that Obamacare will badly injure the U.S. medical system. Any ground gained by opponents ditto from the standpoint of those on the other side.

• MrApophenia says:

Oh, nonsense. White supremacists aren’t an existential threat in the handwavy “I think Obamacare is bad for the country way,” they’re a threat in the “our whole stated motive is to ethnically cleanse you guys” way.

The only topic up for debate is how likely they are to be able to accomplish their inherently violent goal.

• onyomi says:

The only topic up for debate is how likely they are to be able to accomplish their inherently violent goal.

Would you consider Zionism an inherently violent goal?

• White supremacists aren’t an existential threat in the handwavy “I think Obamacare is bad for the country way,” they’re a threat in the “our whole stated motive is to ethnically cleanse you guys” way.

I would reverse that. How much of a threat people are depends both on how much damage they want to do and on how likely they are to do it. White supremacists are a tiny nut group, as shown by how few people they had at Charlottesville, gathered from all over the country. The chance of their accomplishing their stated ends is essentially zero. Their only political importance is as a source of left wing paranoia, potentially damaging.

On the other hand, both the supporters and opponents of Obamacare, or any other live political issue, have a sizable chance of accomplishing their ends. So if you think Obamacare will destroy the U.S. health system, leading to millions of excess deaths, you should view its supporters as a much more serious threat than white supremacists. Similarly, if you think Obamacare will save the U.S. health system, for how you should view its opponents.

The underlying question is how strong the argument is for suppressing a group by means such as keeping their supporters from giving speeches. That arguments depends both on the success of the group being terrible and on it having a significant chance of happening.

If you don’t like my example, consider people who argue for some version of Marxism. Marxism has, historically, been responsible for tens of millions of deaths. It isn’t likely to happen in the U.S.–but it’s a good deal more likely than white supremacists taking over. Nazis are official villains in our culture in a sense in which Marxists are not.

Someone who described himself as a socialist, after all, was a serious candidate for the presidential nomination of a major party. It’s not clear in what sense he actually was a socialist–the term has a wide range of possible meanings–but the fact that the label didn’t frighten away supporters is significant.

What do you think would have happened if one of the Republicans candidates had self-described himself as a fascist?

• Trofim_Lysenko says:

they’re a threat in the “our whole stated motive is to ethnically cleanse you guys” way.

Motive and intent is not in and of itself a threat. Threat requires motive + capability. To be an “existential threat” to an entire demographic is a pretty significant bar to clear, generally reserved for governments and large non-state actors with entire military forces at their disposal, national-scale famines and pestilences, etc.

A couple hundred to a couple thousand guys with little to no political power, organization, or coordination are a threat only insofar as they might produce violent individuals or small groups for street/gang violence. That puts a pretty low ceiling on their status as a threat. Even if every single adherent of their ideology was ready, willing, and able to go out and start committing acts of violence against minorities (something I find unlikely, but let’s assume), that would put them on the level of threat of…well…a large gang, something like the Bloods (est. membership 20-25,000 nationwide), but below that of MS-13 (est. membership 70-80,000).

More likely given the number of violent types I’d put them in the same category as groups like the Pagans, Outlaws, or Bandidos MCs. Potentially nasty if you walk into the wrong bar unarmed, and a group that law enforcement should be monitoring closely for organized criminal activity, but by no means an “existential threat”.

• anonymousskimmer says:

@DavidFriedman

White supremacists are a tiny nut group, as shown by how few people they had at Charlottesville, gathered from all over the country. The chance of their accomplishing their stated ends is essentially zero.

The pardoning of Arpaio is hardly the first time in our nation that someone who unlawfully acted against a group of others was let off without punishment.

They don’t have to fully accomplish their stated ends to be seen as an existential threat. Their capacity to act out some of the mere means is bad enough.

And your entire argument is essentially saying to people with genuine existential fear that they’re ignorant and reactive to fear at all. That is less than convincing.

• Mary says:

Best plan of action: consider them idiots on the level of Flat Earthers, and ignore them and everything that follows from their beliefs.

Ignore the way they go around beating up people and calling that free speech?

• The Nybbler says:

Ignore the way they go around beating up people and calling that free speech?

No, ignore (and/or laugh at) those who claim words are violence. Those who claim their actual violence is free speech need to be jailed. Most of those who claim speech is violence and should be met with (actual) violence don’t act on their belief; if they did I’d have quite a few more bruises.

• Mary says:

“they can and should disassociate themselves from white supremicists.”

Define “disassociate.” In such terms that a reasonably prudent person, using ordinary judgement, can see whether they have done so.

’cause no one’s going to listen to a demand that amounts to “give me a blank check to demand things of you.”

• The Nybbler says:

Jiro T has been complaining that sometimes SSC readers give too much charity to people attacking others. Here Dougherty is doing the same thing, assuming he isn’t just continuing the attack. The Matt Lewis article is a hit piece; claiming libertarians are really just people who want to discriminate against black people is perhaps the second most common smear (after “Republicans who want to smoke pot”, which Lewis also uses). It plays fast and loose with the term “alt-right”, using it widely to refer to McKinnes and Moldbug’s groups while at the same implying that it refers to neo-Nazis (who would have Justine Tunney and Moldbug both on their “eliminate” lists).

Evidence in favor of it continuing the smear rather than just being based on it: Dougherty implies that Spencer is an example of a libertarian-turned-alt-rightist, but even Lewis notes that Spencer got thrown out of a libertarian conference after crashing it, though he then ignores this.

• Yosarian2 says:

Jason Kessler, the lead organizer of the Charlottesville torch march, was formerly in Occupy Wall Street.

Apparently, this is mostly untrue. Kessler tried at one point to show up to join an occupy march because he thought they were anti-globalist and liked that, but when he got there he quickly clashed with the rest of the people at the march and left; he wasn’t actually involved with Occupy in any significant way.

http://www.snopes.com/2017/08/17/jason-kessler-soros-deep-state-plant/

Just a minor quibble; overall, I agree with the article and think it makes some good points.

To believe something isn’t just to accept the conclusion itself; it’s to accept yourself as the type of person who believes it.

Cranks therefore come to accept or even embrace their own crankishness. One marginal idea leads to the next even more marginal idea. And the mainstream they rejected isn’t just wrong; its proponents become contemptible and corrupt. And contempt spreads easily: Normal people don’t care about ideas, the crank’s thinking goes, and endure the corruption around them in nearly silent docility. It’s the “normies” that kooks really can’t stand

There’s definitely something to this. There are certain ideological positions whose adherents, or at least most vocal adherents, seem to be bitter, angry, and resentful all the time. And not even about specific concrete people or policies that might eventually go away (e.g. Obama/Trump) but instead about large amorphously defined groups of people (the media/the patriarchy).

That fact alone makes those positions less attractive. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.

• lvlln says:

This reminds me of a study I heard referenced in The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe a few years ago, about how conspiracy theorists tend to believe in multiple conspiracy theories even if those theories aren’t particularly related to each other. It makes sense; if one’s mind came to the conclusion that some massive powerful force is fooling everyone else but oneself, then the subject doing the fooling need not be limited to just one entity or area. And the nature of conspiracy theories is such that any evidence to the contrary is merely evidence of the coverup, and the more convincing the counter-evidence is, the more powerful the forces performing the coverup are, so it’s a ratchet that just goes one way.

Same sort of thinking manifest in ideology, perhaps. Heck, there’s often plenty of literal conspiracy theorizing among those types, like the pizza pedophilia ring thing.

• sandoratthezoo says:

Yeah, it’s an interesting cognitive failure mode.

I’m reminded of an argument I got into on an RPG mailing list, decades ago. Someone was suggesting a house rule or something. The scenario involved rolling 10d10 (ten 10-sided dice), and one of the commenters said something about it being a degenerate situation if someone rolled all 10’s.

So I was like, “Yeah, I mean, the odds of that are one in ten billion, I don’t think we have to care a lot about that.” And this person countered that he’d seen 10d10 come up all 10’s — in fact, twice in one night.

I replied that it was considerably more likely that someone was using biased dice or biased rolling techniques or was just flat out cheating than that he’d seen two 1 in 10 billion events in a single night’s die rolling. He was offended and argued with me.

So far, so standard “I don’t understand probabilities.”

But the interesting thing was that he brought up in support of his view that really unlikely statistical events are… not actually really unlikely… that he’d also seen 8 natural 20’s on a 20-sided die in a row (1:25,600,000,000), and a twice-in-a-row clean miss with an 18 die pool in Exalted (1:103,000,000), and other unlikely events.

And so that’s an interesting mental fallacy. The proper response to seeing more and more extremely unlikely “random” events is to question to a higher and higher degree whether or not they’re truly random. Like, in my view, seeing a single one-in-ten-billion roll? Well, committed roleplayers roll a lot of dice. There’s a wide audience of gamers I’ve interacted with who’ve had a chance to tell stories of unlikely rolls. There are a wide variety of different unlikely die scenarios, any of which could be a plausible story of “you’ll never believe what happened to me.”

But the more different unlikely stories accumulate to one player, the more likely that person is being played or is a liar.

But he didn’t see it that way. Having bought into the idea that a really unlikely event happened to him once, he thought that showing more unlikely events increased the plausibility of the one event.

Seems like a similar mentality to a conspiracy theory.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

If theoretically rare die rolls are coming up relatively often because of cheating, then the rules should accommodate those die rolls.

• sandoratthezoo says:

Well, perhaps true, but that wasn’t the argument he was making. He argued extensively that this wasn’t cheating and that, I guess, everyone misunderstood how probabilities work.

• onyomi says:

Almost 100% of libertarians I’ve ever met, myself included, are people more likely than average to believe conventional wisdom (about anything) is somehow wrong. If they weren’t this type of person they probably wouldn’t have become libertarians in the first place, but it does make me wonder if we can attract more non-INTJ types if libertarianism becomes more mainstream (ironically the rise of the alt-right as the new weird, edgy right-wing ideology of choice may help with this by making libertarians look reasonable in comparison).

This definitely causes a problem where you tend to start thinking “if the conventional wisdom was wrong about so many other things, maybe it’s wrong about this too!” Hence, libertarians are much more likely than average to be into Crossfit and the paleo diet, both of which I think are mostly bad, and which have no logical connection to libertarianism. But if I tell them to just eat a low fat diet and work out slowly without a bunch of explosive movements they’ll often launch into a just-so story about how “the nutrition establishment” conned everyone, etc.

My solution is to try to assume experts know what they’re talking about unless I see some very good real-world indicators they don’t. Also related, I try to take into account the motivations of those involved. There are very good reasons why e.g. politicians might prefer a distorted version of history; there are fewer obvious incentives for dietitians to recommend rice krispies over eggs and bacon (the conspiracist, however, can always come up with something, usually involving the adjective “big [pharma]” etc.).

• Don_Flamingo says:

The first time, I encountered the idea, that shaving foam/cream/aftershave/warm water is fundamentally unnecessary was by some Libertarian weirdo, who presented it as a grandiose conspiracy theory of the cosmetics industry to market said products. I didn’t (and still don’t) believe the conspiracy for one second, but I tried it and don’t use any of these products anymore and I’m doing just fine without. I think, that at some point, fit and athletic people tried experimenting with their macros a bit or just compared their eating habits with the current guidelines and noticed, that they’re just fine eating for example lots of bacon and eggs.
I think, the ‘wrong’ dogmas of the virtues of a low-fat diet and five meals a day aren’t due to Big Sugar or other such conspiratorial nonsense, but rather due to the government-funded scientific establishment (or just some it’s organisations) feeling itself pressured to give definite, authorative and universal answers to nutritional questions, when the topic is far too complicated for anyone to really understand yet (nutritional studies being extremely hard to do right, people being genetically different and/or leading wildly different lives, replications being too expensive to attempt for there to even be a replication crisis yet etc.).
I believe the best approach is to just try out Paleo/IF/Keto/vegan/high-carb/standard diets without believing any of the theories, that explain why they should work (bound to be a bunch of just-so stories of people trying to translate their metic ‘knowledge’ or sciency enough sounding motivated reasoning a la ‘The China Study’). They probably all work more or less, assuming you’re not a couch potato. As far as I understand it, beneficial effects ‘increased energy/mood after a dietary change seem to occur often, but never last long. But if the standard approach is working for you and you’re as about as lean/healthy/muscular as you want to be, I think that’s not exactly evidence to support the notion, that current nutritional scientific consensus (I don’t believe there is much of that anyway) and governmental guidelines are worth a damn [not that I’m saying, that you did that]. I think ‘trust the experts’ as a heuristic just fails in that field.

• The Nybbler says:

So you shave dry?

• anonymousskimmer says:

I shave in the shower with soap (and the water turned off during the actual shaving). I use a cartridge which is over 1 year old now. While these cartridges lose that razor hone fairly quickly, they still stay sharp enough for a non-painful shave for a long period of time.

I highly recommend cartridge extended use as a way of saving money.

• AnonYEmous says:

soap works fine as bootleg shaving cream (done it myself) but it is still a purchased product. I’m interested to see if Don is serious; I’ve shaved without anything before, and I usually get cut a bit.

Supposed proofs resolving the P versus NP problem pop up every few years or so, and to my knowledge they’ve always proposed P != NP. Has there been a seriously considered proof attempt of the other case, P = NP?

• Thegnskald says:

I played around with trying a while ago, and based on previous work which generalized (possibly a subset, I cannot recall precisely) NP problems to graph analysis, came to the conclusion that the problem might be solvable if network graphs could be translated into a canonical form (that is, such that any network graph could be trivially compared for equality to any equivalent network graph), as, IIRC, that was the major NP component remaining in the previous team’s work. I made zero progress on that problem, however, and suspect matrices are inadequate as a mathematical expression for the purpose of solving that particular problem.

• The Nybbler says:

There’s been work on non-constructive P = NP proofs, but I don’t think any has gotten to the point of a proposed proof for review.

• Random Poster says:

I don’t know about the “seriously considered” part, but many claimed proofs that P is indeed equal to NP are collected on this page along with claims to the contrary, and claims that the question is independent of ZFC. I didn’t bother to count, but it certainly doesn’t look like claims of unequality outnumber claims of equality by any significant amount.

• eyeballfrog says:

P = NP being independent of ZFC would be rather weird. Unless I’m mistaken, it would require one of the following

1) P != NP, but there does not exist a formal proof of this fact. This isn’t all that weird by itself, but it also requires that there must be nonstandard models of set theory where P = NP. Of course, there are also nonstandard models of set theory where the reals are “countable”, so perhaps this isn’t a problem.

2) P = NP, but the polynomial-time algorithm that solves 3-SAT* cannot be proven to run in polynomial time. This sounds really wrong, though I can’t say it’s obviously so because there might be connections to the halting problem and I don’t know enough about computability theory to know whether there is.

On the upside, if it turns out P = NP is independent of ZFC and (2) can’t be the case, that would give indications about how to extend ZFC. Unlike the continuum hypothesis, which hasn’t seen a need to be nailed down yet, it seems like an axiom system should be able to prove a much more practical result like P != NP.

Of course, the real conclusion of this is that P = NP is probably not independent of ZFC (or even fragments of it). Just really hard to prove.

• Scott Alexander says:

If there are standard versions of set theory where P != NP, but nonstandard versions where P = NP, does that tell us anything about whether we can build a real-world computer that solves NP problems in P time? Does it make sense to talk about an experimental program where we look for problems like this in order to empirically determine what version of set theory is correct?

• Björn says:

If P = NP is independent of standard set theory (ZFC), this would most likely mean that there are “algorithms” that can not be constructed in ZFC, but there is also no axiom that “bans” constructing them. The problem is that when someone creates an axiom system where those “algorithms” can be constructed, most likely they would turn out really weird.

If one uses Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem on the Peano Axioms to extend them with a new axiom, one can get new “natural numbers” with strange properties like being bigger than all “normal” natural numbers, and when multiplication or addition is defined on them, the other one can not be written down. I think (and I say this as a theoretical mathematician) those “new natural numbers” have no meaningful application, and I think it would be the same for the “weird algorithms).

And I don’t think that “correct” is a useful property for axiom systems. If axiom system are consistent (they don’t have a contradiction), then some are more practical then others, but they all express something.

• Pseudocydonia says:

Arguably, the other Scott A has some work in this direction: https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2725

I think it’s important, though, to mention that ZFC is probably too high-level of a domain of discourse, in some sense, for P!=NP. In particular, this is a statement about computable procedures, so if we can prove that there is no proof either way, then we’re looking at nonstandard models of arithmetic. And we can already build lots of nonstandard models of arithmetic inside a model of ZFC.

Intuitively, the right level to look for proofs of P!=NP is way down at recursive constructive arithmetic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_mathematics#The_base_system_RCA0 (this basically the axiomatic theory that describes Turing machines). So you could have some situation (unlikely, but let’s speculate) where ZFC proves that in every model of arithmetic inside ZFC, P=NP, but RCA0 cannot prove that P=NP. This would tell us that we can never build a computer that solves NP problems in P time, but that ZFC believes that it is possible to do so.

I would take this as strong evidence that we should weaken ZFC rather than extend it.

(Warning, I’m a constructive mathematician, not a computational complexity theorist per se.)

• Douglas Knight says:

If someone claims to have a polynomial time algorithm for an NP-complete problem, no one seriously considers the paper, but instead says “implement it and get back to me.”

What about if the algorithm runs in polynomial time but has a constant hidden by the big O of 2 ⇑ (2 ⇑ (2 ⇑ (h/2)) + 3) ?

• Douglas Knight says:

My guess is that such claims are much less than 1% of claims that P=NP. More common, maybe as high as 10%, are nonconstructive claims. People who explain why they can’t identify or run their algorithm are treated like those who claim to prove P≠NP. Most of which aren’t seriously considered, either. This doesn’t answer Many Cookie’s question, whether a single proof had ever been seriously considered, but I think it is relevant to why his impression of the publicity doesn’t match Random Poster’s numbers.

• sandoratthezoo says:

This ^^^. A proof that P == NP wouldn’t be a super-elaborate hundred page paper, it would be an algorithm that solves the Traveling Salesman problem in polynomial time and it would shower its inventor in sweet, sweet cash.

• Urstoff says:

What types of commercial applications would such an algorithm have?

• sandoratthezoo says:

Well, good question actually. Lots of NP-hard and NP-complete problems have commercial applications — the actual traveling salesman problem is itself describing a genuine, commercial problem! Like, being able to route to a large number of destinations via the most efficient route would be great.

But actually, there are approximate solutions to these problems that are pretty good and relatively computationally efficient, so a perfect solution might not actually be much of an upgrade.

(That said, there is a Millennium Prize for P vs NP, so you can get a million bucks that way).

• rlms says:

The classic one is stealing all the money on the internet, but I don’t know if that works any more; encryption may have moved on.

• sickofpalantirs says:

Anything to do with delivery – Amazon, Fedex, UPS.

• Thegnskald says:

The commercial version of the problem – without the constraint of not using the same path twice – is relatively easily solvable in polynomial time. (N^3, where N is the number of nodes in the graph; R, below, refers to the set of points to visit).

First, calculate the shortest path between every node on the graph. That’s N^3. Store that in N trees with bidirectional pointers, with a hashmap for each node pointing at each node of itself in each tree. Using these trees, looking up shortest distance is at most N. Next, calculate the shortest path between each point you want to visit. (R). Next, choose two arbitrary points having the shortest distance between them (arbitrary in case of a tie), and the path between them, as both sides of your starting loop. Now iterate through each other node to visit, inserting it into the loop wherever it adds the least additional distance. (R^2)

Is this rather horrible algorithm going to result in the shortest possible path? No idea. Probably for all but pathalogical cases, which is all that matters, commercially.

But this is fairly standard for NP problems; for real-world cases, they are usually reducible to P, usually within a small margin of a perfect solution. A general-purpose solver which could solve NP problems in polynomial time will probably be less performant than a domain-specific solution, however, and in practice probably wouldn’t be very important, in the full scheme of things.

My personal suspicion is that P=NP, given the success of domain-specific solutions, but that neither a proof nor a solver are feasible.

• Iain says:

usually within a small margin of a perfect solution

This is very problem-dependent. Some important problems are NP-hard just to approximate within a constant factor.

The best known approximation for the traveling salesman problem is within a factor of 3/2, provided that the distances form a metric space (which is likely for most real-world applications).

I don’t think a polynomial algorithm for a problem known to be in NP would lead automatically, and certainly not obviously, to a way to crack AES or ChaCha.

Edit: Hmm the post this in reply to disappeared.

• Skivverus says:

Maybe not obviously, but my understanding of NP problems is that they’re frequently demonstrated to be in NP in the first place by reducing them to one of the other NP problems; “NP-complete” is a relevant term here.

@Skivverus
But cracking a symmetric cipher isn’t generally thought of in terms of complexity classes. I don’t know that there are any such reductions.

Asymmetric schemes, with their frequent reliance on the discrete log problem (sometimes over an elliptic curve) or prime factorization seem better candidates for an immediate application.

• Douglas Knight says:

No, it isn’t obvious, because you can’t attack the ciphertext of a system used to encrypt random data.

Here is a problem in NP: given a sequence of outputs from a PRNG, determine the seed. (That is, a family of PRNGs in P with growing seed length.)

With the right definition of “secure against polynomial adversaries,” a private-key cryptosystem is equivalent to a secure PRNG. Thus the existence of such a system implies P≠NP.

Unless I’m missing something, I think that’s the answer to a question no one asked. CSPRNGs aren’t parameterized by seed length, I’m not even sure how that would work.

The deleted claim was that a proof of P==NP would break symmetric encryption. I don’t see how you get there from, say, a O(n^4) algorithm for SAT3.

If it’s encrypting random data you are worried about, posit the attacker has the SAT3 algorithm and his task is key recovery from a known plaintext in faster than brute force time.

• The Nybbler says:

A stream cipher is just a keyed PRNG, so if you can solve the PRNG problem you can solve a stream cipher. Similarly, any known-plaintext break of a cipher computable in P is in NP; the cipher itself is the verifier. Technically the decision problem in NP is “does a key exist which produces this ciphertext for this plaintext”, but the equivalent search problem (OK, wiseguy, what is that key?) is also in P if P = NP.

• Douglas Knight says:

Yes, inasmuch as AES is a finite problem, it is impossible to compare to asymptotic questions like PvNP. But most cryptosystems are pretty close to parameterized families. It is quite reasonable to say “If cryptography is possible, then P≠NP.”

But the hypothesis is weak: only protection against polynomial adversaries. If you can break cryptosystems with time n^log(n), you might say that cryptography is practically impossible, and yet if it is impossible to do better, still P≠NP. P≠NP is a robust hypothesis because it is not a precise hypothesis. If SAT were solvable in time √2^n, that would not immediately imply that anything about other NP problems. They might be solvable in time √2^(n^2) time, which is not useful.

Asking for better than brute force is not quite the right condition. You can compensate for a √2^n algorithm by doubling the key size. Indeed, we use 256 bit keys to compensate for quantum computers. Of course, you can only double prospectively. Such a polynomial transformation could ruin your day, but NP doesn’t care about it.

• Andrew Hunter says:

Douglas Knight: point of order: you *can* solve SAT in time O(\sqrt{2}^n).

http://jeffe.cs.illinois.edu/teaching/algorithms/notes/04-fastexpo.pdf (Page 3 contains the claim.)

• Douglas Knight says:

k-SAT can be solved in time b^n, for b<2, but b(k) should approach 2 as k grows, the strong exponential time hypothesis.

I hate to be so literal minded in the face of what I’m sure are very deep and beautiful theorems, but I don’t think any of these posts actual answered the question.

Right now if I want to recover the key used to encrypt a ciphertext where I know say the first sixteen bytes I can do that with (a few hundred * 2^128) instructions. If I gave you a black box that could solve a 3-SAT problem in a few hundred * n^4 instructions, could you produce the key faster than I could using brute force method as outlined above? That’s the question, not whether some generalization of the problem would have the property that eventually it would be faster to use the 3-SAT black box than to brute force it as keybits went to infinity.

If the answer is no, or is an open question, than a proof by demonstration that p==np does not necessarily break symmetric encryption in any practical sense. And that’s even after being generous with the constant terms of the hypothetical algorithm.

• Iain says:

Pretty sure Brad is right. I’m not aware of any cryptosystem that reduces to an NP-complete problem. Even if a reduction does exist, and P=NP, there’s no guarantee that the polynomial algorithm is practical and efficient. After all, n^100 is a polynomial.

• Douglas Knight says:

Yes, it really does break.

Iain, no cryptosystem is based on an NP-complete problem. But all cryptosystems are in NP. The encryption algorithm is the verifier.

• Iain says:

Crypto relies on one-way functions: functions that can be efficiently computed, but cannot be efficiently inverted. It is true that “efficient” generally implies “polynomial”. Encryption is clearly in P; otherwise we would not be able to encrypt anything. Brute-forcing the key must be in NP, because there’s an efficient algorithm to verify your success — you just encrypt again and compare to the ciphertext. If P = NP, then there’s a polynomial algorithm to find the key. Crypto must be broken, then, right?

Wrong. Efficient implies polynomial, but polynomial does not necessarily imply efficient. We tend to use it as a Schilling point, because it’s more objective than trying to decide whether O(n^10) really counts as efficient, but there are plenty of unworkably inefficient polynomial algorithms.

P and NP are both statements about how much harder problems get as you scale them, in the worst case. Crypto doesn’t care about scaling: crypto wants problems that are hard, period. Moreover, crypto also can’t settle for worst-case complexity: crypto has to be hard to break in the general case, not just the worst one.

If somebody came out tomorrow with a proof that P = NP, then the theoretical underpinnings of cryptography would have to be revised, but practical security would be unchanged.

• Douglas Knight says:

Iain, yes, there are lots of different questions you could ask. If you give a wrong answer to one of them, condemning it as a bad question is a pathetic excuse after the fact. You’re still wrong.

• Charles F says:

P and NP are both statements about how much harder problems get as you scale them, in the worst case. Crypto doesn’t care about scaling: crypto wants problems that are hard, period

I think the rest of your post is all on-target, but I don’t think this is true. In a world where Moore’s law hasn’t petered out yet and changing standards is painful, we super care about scaling. If I increase my encryption key from 1024 bits to 2048 bits with a scheme that probably takes exponential time to break, that can naively keep me safe for more than a thousand extra years of improving hardware. In a world where encryption is really hard, but scales with n or n^2, once it’s breakable at one key length you have to either scrap the system and find a harder one or massively increase key lengths to keep up with hardware, which also makes your encryption process less efficient.

Like, if you manage to leverage a transcomputational problem somehow to get a basically untouchable constant factor, great, but otherwise, you want to be able to make things a lot harder for them while making things only a little harder on yourself, so scaling matters.

• Iain says:

@Douglas Knight:

Instead of calling me pathetic, would you care to point to any statement I’ve made that is wrong? (Despite your attempts to correct me on NP vs NP-complete, you will notice that I actually did write “NP-complete” in my original post.) While you’re at it, you could try responding to the main argument that Brad and I have been making: the existence of a polynomial algorithm to break AES is not the same as an efficient algorithm to do so, and P=NP only guarantees you the former.

@Charles F:

I basically agree. My point was just that cryptosystems are designed and analyzed for a particular concrete level of security, rather than based on how they will scale into the distant future. It is unclear to me what it would even mean to scale SHA-3, for example: it’s not like it has a key size. Scaling is important, but the constant factors that normally get ignored when talking about complexity are also very important in crypto. I probably should have written: “Crypto doesn’t just care about scaling.”

• Douglas Knight says:

As to your actual point, I have addressed it repeatedly, both the extent to which it is right and the opposite. I don’t think Brad is making the same point, although it is hard to tell, because he isn’t making any points, only asking questions. But see his last comment.

• Charles F says:

@Iain
Sure, I can agree that crypto doesn’t just care about scaling. Or even that scaling is only a practical and not a theoretical concern.

It is unclear to me what it would even mean to scale SHA-3, for example: it’s not like it has a key size

There are four output sizes defined for SHA-3. Larger output sizes mean a larger space to search and rarer collisions. They’re all designed to be interchangeable, and if somebody ever has a practical dictionary-style attack on the shortest one, we can deprecate that one and add a new, larger output size to the standard. And we can keep doing that (and keep hashes fairly small) until somebody comes up with a better attack vector than brute force.

• albatross11 says:

Charles F:

SHA3 is built on top of Keccak, which is built on top of a 25x25xn bit permutation. (Like a block cipher with a fixed key.). And Keccak defines a whole series of permutations that scale with the size of n, up to n=64. (n is always a power of two.). You could probably come up with some general rule to keep scaling up to increasing sizes of n, so maybe you really could keep scaling it forever. The only parts of the cipher that vary for different n are the rotation amounts (the rho layer) and (I think) the round constants. (You’d eventually need a longer LFSR to generate the round constants.)

So maybe you really could scale up the permutation size arbitrarily.

I’m not remotely a complexity theorist, but I think if we found that NP != P, we’d still be interested in ths general question of whether there are problems where it’s harder to compute y=f(x) given x than to compute x given y, which is kind-of what we’re getting at with P vs NP. We don’t necessarily care if computing f(x) takes n steps and finding x given y takes n^{100}, but we’d like to know if there are functions where it’s practical to compute y=f(x) but not to compute x from y.

If you can’t find such functions, then most crypto is breakable. We’d be left with only the information theoretic stuff.

• Orpheus says:

Sounds unreasonable. If your algorithm runs in O(n^100) the implementation will do you no good.

Don’t be fooled, the P=NP problem is purely theoretical, with little to no practical applications (despite the popular literature).

• sandoratthezoo says:

I mean, sure. You can construct a scenario in which the exponents are so high for a polynomial solution that it has no practical benefit. But that’s not really a very likely scenario, I think. What would require 100 looping levels or whatever to do, that didn’t require n looping levels where n is the size of the problem? If you can make 100 looping levels do any size problem, why do you need 100 looping levels?

If P == NP (it doesn’t), then I’d expect it to be the case that a solution would be not an insane exponent. A clever way to compose two quadratic algorithms together, such that the total complexity of the solution is O(n^4) or O(n^4 * log n) or something. But actually… I mean, come on. P != NP. We can’t prove it, but we can feel it.

• Iain says:

I mean, sure. You can construct a scenario in which the exponents are so high for a polynomial solution that it has no practical benefit. But that’s not really a very likely scenario, I think. What would require 100 looping levels or whatever to do, that didn’t require n looping levels where n is the size of the problem? If you can make 100 looping levels do any size problem, why do you need 100 looping levels?

You’d be surprised. There are a number of examples of polynomial algorithms with higher complexity. Take, for example, this paper, which approximates an NP-hard problem within a factor of 0.8776 of the optimal solution in polynomial time, the only downside being that the time complexity is roughly O(n^(10^100)).

• Orpheus says:

This paper:
http://graphics.berkeley.edu/papers/Cantarella-AED-2004-06/
Gives an algorithm with running time O(n^78) plus a bunch of other stuff and a HUGE constant.

I’ll do you one better. Say P !=NP, but I can solve an NP complete problem in O(n^(log log log n)). While it is exponential, in practice it is not very big for any reasonable n.

• The Nybbler says:

The proof could be non-constructive. Which would be deeply unsatisfying, but still a proof.

• Orpheus says:

Depends how you define seriously considered. My advisor had a student who came up with such a proof, and my advisor considered it. Guess how the story ended.

Did he “find” a polynomial time solution to an NP-hard problem?

• Orpheus says:

I don’t know. My advisor doesn’t like to talk about it since he (the student) had some sort of a severe mental episode as a result of the whole thing and had to leave the program.

Ah, that is not how I guessed the story ended. Good show of respect from your advisor.

• The Element of Surprise says:

Reminds me of “The Physicists”, a play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, about a physicist who makes several remarkable discoveries (among them a way to enumerate all possible inventions) which he deems too dangerous for mankind to know, and who therefore goes on to feign mental illness to deflect attention from his discoveries.

• Aapje says:

He was right, but the proof was considered too dangerous to be known, so he was taken to a secret facility in a black helicopter and made to work on math problems for the NSA.

• pontifex says:

For what it’s worth, Donald Knuth gave an interview where he let slip that he, personally thinks P probably equals NP, but that in practice it makes no real difference. http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=2213858

Don Knuth: As you say, I’ve come to believe that P = N P, namely that there does exist an integer M and an algorithm that will solve every n-bit problem belonging to the class N P in nM elementary steps.

Some of my reasoning is admittedly naïve: It’s hard to believe that P ≠ N P and that so many brilliant people have failed to discover why. On the other hand if you imagine a number M that’s finite but incredibly large—like say the number 10 3 discussed in my paper on “coping with finiteness”—then there’s a humongous number of possible algorithms that do nM bitwise or addition or shift operations on n given bits, and it’s really hard to believe that all of those algorithms fail.

My main point, however, is that I don’t believe that the equality P = N P will turn out to be helpful even if it is proved, because such a proof will almost surely be nonconstructive. Although I think M probably exists, I also think human beings will never know such a value. I even suspect that nobody will even know an upper bound on M.

Mathematics is full of examples where something is proved to exist, yet the proof tells us nothing about how to find it. Knowledge of the mere existence of an algorithm is completely different from the knowledge of an actual algorithm.

For example, RSA cryptography relies on the fact that one party knows the factors of a number, but the other party knows only that factors exist. Another example is that the game of N × N Hex has a winning strategy for the first player, for all N. John Nash found a beautiful and extremely simple proof of this theorem in 1952. But Wikipedia tells me that such a strategy is still unknown when N = 9, despite many attempts. I can’t believe anyone will ever know it when N is 100.

I don’t think he ever proposed a proof, though. And I don’t think most computer scientists agree with this position…

4. Daniel Frank says:

I recently completed a 10 day silent meditation retreat and wrote about my experience here: http://danfrank.ca/reflections-on-a-10-day-silent-meditation-retreat/

It was really difficult, stimulated intense feelings, but ultimately, not very impactful.

A lot of people in the SCC community are interested in meditation. In fact, the positive endorsements on here (and other adjacent websites) played a big role in giving me confidence to experiment with it. So now that I’ve dabbled with the practice, I’m happy to answer any questions anyone has either about experimenting with meditation, or going on a retreat.

• johnjohn says:

Thank you for sharing

• Vermillion says:

Thanks, I thought that was an interesting read. I did a 3 day silent retreat (plus a day for arrival/departure with talking etc) a couple years ago and I’ve thought about it often since then. It was a smaller group and much more secular, you might prefer something more like that.

I’d be curious how your reflections will change as time go on. I’m especially curious (it sounded like you were too) about the feelings of pain that came up around the 7 day mark. I had a similar experience but then I don’t know if I got into it as deeply as you since I barely felt like I was ‘really’ meditating by the last day. Anyway I remember talking with a monk who was guiding a couple of our sessions and mentioning how I kept feeling a pain in my upper back and shoulders as I sat.

He said that it was possible I needed to adjust my posture or the positions of the pillow. But also that in his experience ‘grief lived in the shoulders’. I remember being kind of taken aback, and on reflection thinking about how accurate that felt. That’s something I’ve come back to a lot, how emotions instantiate themselves in our bodies, perhaps beneath the level of consciousness, like an underwater mine.

I’d like to go on a longer retreat, I think there are other insights out there. Many of them might also be painful, but I think they could be necessary.

Would you go again if the opportunity arose?

5. sohois says:

Has the recent market power study been discussed here? [Link

Pro-paper description

Counterpoints by Marginal Revolution [1] [2]; Robin Hansen; and Karl Smith

Noah Smith defends the paper and responds to some criticisms here

the original paper argues that large increases in markups on the price of goods represent an increase in the market power of firms, almost to monopoly levels. This is then pointed to as a potential source of many modern economic ailments, particularly declining wages. The critics argument can be distilled down into the data not fully supporting accusations of monopoly conditions, and instead at worst markets are in monopolistic competition. There’s obviously a lot more to both sides, but you’re better off reading the above links to get the full picture.

My economics knowledge is limited to teaching a high school class on it, so I don’t have much to add from that perspective. I will say that the paper seems intuitively accurate, given how many markets seem to have become dominated by a few super firms with very large market shares, and the seeming inability of anti-trust or competition regulators to do anything in the anglo saxon world that limits these mega firms. What are your thoughts?

• baconbacon says:

Classic Noah Smith, not in a good way. He switches between time frames without warning to get to the result. It is almost impossible to follow even for economics enthusiasts (like me) because of the vague wording at times. He is a talented writer in this sense, he lays out the facts for his story and knows what language to use to generate the impression that X=Y without having to outright state it. What he doesn’t mention in the piece is where the holes in his argument are.

His series tells basically the same story as Livermore’s – profits have gone up up up. But he doesn’t extend back to the 50s, so it’s not clear whether higher capital costs back then would reduce the high profit margins seen on Livermore’s graph. Interest rates were similar in the 50s and 60s to what they are now, so it seems likely that Barkai’s method would also produce a large-ish profit share back then as well.

So it does seem clear that profit has gone way up in recent decades. But a full account should say why profit was also high in the 50s and 60s, and whether this too was caused by market power.

Here he is referencing a graph starting in 1985, and then he comments on the 50s and 60s, basically ignoring the 70s. This is significant because virtually everyone who argues that labor has lost its share of profits says that it starts in the early 70s.

This is where it gets slippery. Smith shows us a graph of profits that he endorses as “more accurate” that starts in 1985, this displaces the previous graph of profits (which it agrees with reasonably closely for the period that both cover). The previous graph shows profits falling from the 50s and 60s (eyeballed average ~10%) into the 70s and 80s (where the peak never even hits that ~10% average from 1968 through 1996).

Then

Also, as an interesting side note, Barkai mentions how corporate investment has fallen. That’s interesting, because it definitely doesn’t square with the “increasing fixed costs” story. Here’s Barkai’s graph:

The attached graph shows that corporate investment has fallen in very recent times hitting its low around 2010 and being below (again eyeballed) average since ~2008.

Let me lay out the holes as I see them.

1. Market power supposedly is a major reason for the decline in labor’s share of income. Smith doesn’t mention a start date, but the early 70s are generally cited in the literature, the only evidence of corporate profits that he presents shows decreasing profits during this period. This is directly in opposition to the theory of market power, and generally what you would expect with Cowen’s monopolistic competition hypothesis where both labor and capital are losing due to dead loss issues (it also fits other dead loss hypotheses such as increased regulatory burden).

2. Smith argues against the monopolistic competition stance with an investment graph that shows very low levels of investment in the recent past. However that same graph shows rising levels of investment from ~91-99 with 99 looking to be the peak of the graph, and falling investment from 81-91. There is no apparent correlation between his approved profit graph and the investment graph outside of the 5-10 year stretch at the end which he uses as evidence.

Overall his defense is ad hoc with fragments being presented as a strong argument with holes that you would only see if you happened to be familiar with them before hand.

• A Definite Beta Guy says:

Markups don’t explain monopsony power in the labor market.

EDIT: Just look at this. Straight increase in the markup rate:
https://niskanencenter.org/blog/markups-market-power/
You can clearly see that this does not tie out at all to the actual labor share of income or the company profit rate.

What does this measure really tell us about macroeconomic conditions?

There’s some inverse relationship between company profit margins and labor share of income, but it doesn’t tie out directly to this profit rate. My guess is also to be careful about capital income measures after Piketty’s failure to account for house income (which is a capital income measurement not accruing to businesses, even if it takes away from labor share of income).

6. S_J says:

Some time back, there was an Open Thread discussion of abortion.

At some point, I voiced my opinion that if an abortion would stop a beating heart, then abortion should not be allowed at that point. The typical response was that “the vast majority of abortions are not at that stage of development”, but I found it odd that no data was offered.

So I went on a little search (and got distracted by other meatspace events).

In the United States, the best statistics that are available are provided by the CDC.

This is not mandated-reporting; it still appears to be the best representative sample available. According the the Abortion Surveillance Report produced by the CDC, something like 90% of abortions in the United States happen at less-than-or-equal-to-13-weeks of gestation.

These numbers are further subdivided into less-than-or-equal-to-8-weeks-gestation, and greather-than-8-weeks-but-less-than-13-weeks-gestation. Unless I’m misreading those numbers, something like 65% of all abortions in the United States happen at less than 8 weeks gestation.

Another website gives details about development during pregnancy. This website measures time past-expectant-mothers-last-period and time-since-fertilization.

Apparently, during most of human history, women measured pregnancy from the end of the previous period. Only recently have women (or their doctors) been able to measure from the point of fertilization.

This development pattern is shown:
1. Ovulation produces an egg in the date range of 11-21 days after the end of the woman’s previous period.
2. After intercourse and successful fertilization, the zygote spends 6-12 days traveling into the uterus, while developing into a blastocyst
3. The blastocyst embeds into the uterine wall and develops into an embryo.
4. The above date ranges make fetal age a messy range at “week 3 of gestation, week 1 of fetal development”. But there are noticeable structures developing into cardiac/nervous-system/digestive organs at this point.
5. At “week 4-5 gestation, week 2-3 of fetal development” there is said to be a distinguishable heart-beat, measurable movement of blood through developing blood vessels, and distinguishable limb buds.
6. At “week 6 of gestation, week 4 of fetal development” there is a heartbeat that can be detected through vaginal ultrasound.
7. At “week 8 of gestation, week 6 of fetal development” there are ears, skeletal structure, muscles that can contract, hair follicles, and every major organ present in an adult human

I notice something immediately. If all abortions in the less-than-8-weeks-gestation group happened during that 8th week, then all of them stopped an active heartbeat.

However, if all of those abortions happened before the 4th week of gestation, then very few of them stopped an active heartbeat.

So I don’t think we have good enough data to presume that “the vast majority of abortions do not stop a beating heart”. Because the fetal heartbeat begins somewhere after the 4th week of gestation. (The first trimester ends at 13 weeks of gestation.)

The wide date range from end-of-mothers-previous-period to date-of-fertilization makes it hard to estimate actual fetal development at the point of abortion.

However, if the pregnant woman is a week past her first missed period, then it is highly likely that the developing fetus already has a measurable heartbeat.

Thus, if the argument that “abortion should not stop a beating heart” is the best measuring point for when abortion should be forbidden, then abortion should be forbidden past a very early point in pregnancy. It should definitely be forbidden past the 8th week of gestation, and possibly past the 5th week of gestation.

However, the messy spread of time from end-of-previous-period to point-of-fertilization can make this hard to measure.

Which then results in the uncomfortable conclusion that the safest method is to forbid abortion past the easiest point to measure–the 4th week of gestation, or the first time the expectant mother has missed her period.

• S_J says:

In a separate post:

While it’s certainly an evocative image, I’m not really sure why the heartbeat itself should be ethically or legally significant.

As you pointed out yourself, adopting this standard would be a de facto ban on abortion. Most pregnant women won’t have even realized that they’re pregnant until they’re almost past the deadline and many won’t know until well after the fact. And much of the information needed to make an informed decision, such as genetic amniocentesis, isn’t available until long after that deadline has passed.

Why should people who oppose an outright ban on abortion support an effective ban like this?

• HeelBearCub says:

I mean, lots and lots and lots of things have beating hearts. What is special about a beating heart?

This very much feels like an attempt to smuggle in preferred assumptions as if they have been previously agreed to.

As a guess, the original response was to the often seen claim “every abortion stops a beating heart” which is (as OP shows) profoundly untrue.

• Evan Þ says:

As a guess, the original response was to the often seen claim “every abortion stops a beating heart” which is (as OP shows) profoundly untrue.

Oh? It seems to me that OP’s shown it’s largely true (at least, assuming that most abortions take place past week 8… which I’m under the impression is the case?)

• herbert herberson says:

OP says “Unless I’m misreading those numbers, something like 65% of all abortions in the United States happen at less than 8 weeks gestation.”

and, regardless, every != most

• Winter Shaker says:

I think I missed that the first time round, and you may not want to re-litigate it here, but I am curious as to why you would think that ‘beating heart’ should be the schelling point, rather than the more obvious schelling points of ‘conception’, ‘birth’ or ‘point at which we can be reasonably confident that the nervous system has developed enough to be able to experience suffering’.

[Okay, I should have expected to be ninja’d on that one 🙂 ]

• Garrett says:

Pet peeve: “Conception” isn’t really a thing. There’s fertilization (when egg and sperm join), and implantation, when the now-embryo is attached to the uterine wall.

Additionally, there are a number of other steps in the Development of the nervous system which might be used.

• John Schilling says:

but I am curious as to why you would think that ‘beating heart’ should be the schelling point, rather than the more obvious schelling points of ‘conception’, ‘birth’ or ‘point at which we can be reasonably confident that the nervous system has developed enough to be able to experience suffering’.

Why is an information booth at a train station a more obvious Schelling point than e.g. a coffee shop? Coffee shops are better places to meet people, because you can sit down and eat/drink/read/whatever while waiting for them and later while chatting with them. And yet Schelling’s students chose the information booth.

We’ve got thousands of years of broadly cross-cultural heritage, even in medicine and law, that says a heartbeat defines life. In most relevant cases, the presence or absence of a heartbeat closely correlated in time with the presence or absence of every other marker for life that we care about. But, unlike “reasonable confidence that the nervous system has developed enough”, heartbeats are easy to define and easy to measure. You don’t need to sit down and appoint a committee for lengthy deliberations to get to a beating heart standard.

That’s why “beating heart” is a more obvious Schelling point. Conception and birth are even more obvious. The thing you’re looking for, I think, is a carefully negotiated optimal solution, and that’s pretty much the opposite of a Schelling point.

• Jiro says:

We’ve got thousands of years of broadly cross-cultural heritage, even in medicine and law, that says a heartbeat defines life.

No, we don’t, unless you equivocate on what you mean by “life”. Something with a heartbeat is alive in the biological sense, but that doesn’t make it human or give it rights. Chickens have beating hearts and you’re allowed to kill and eat them (unless you’re a vegetarian, but few vegetarians oppose abortion, especially at this early stage). And I believe chickens have been known to have beating hearts for thousands of years.

• John Schilling says:

No, we don’t, unless you equivocate on what you mean by “life”.

I’m not equivocating at all when I say that “life” is orthogonal to “species”. By longstanding tradition pretty much everywhere, a thing that has a beating heart is always considered alive and thus entitled to all the rights and considerations of other living members of its species. “alive” + “human” = Thou Shalt Not Kill, “alive” + “livestock” = try not to torture it too much, etc. Similarly, a thing with a non-beating heart is traditionally always considered not-alive and thus entitled to all the rights and considerations of a not-alive thing of its kind. “Not alive” + “human” = do not eat, dispose of respectfully, “Not alive” + “livestock” = anything goes but we’ll look at you real funny if you have sex with it, etc.

Traditionally, pretty much every time we’ve cleverly tried to move the lines or create new categories so that a living thing created by human sexual reproduction can be defined as “not really human” or denied the rights and considerations of other humans, we’ve wound up regretting it. Trying to create such a category for not-yet-sentient fetuses is again going to take you into the opposite of Schelling Point territory. For clear demarcations without contentious negotiations, you’ve got two borders you can work with and you need them to be as unfuzzy as possible and as uniformly accepted as possible. So, what divides “human” from “not human”, and what divides “living” from “dead”?

• 1soru1 says:

> By longstanding tradition pretty much everywhere, a thing that has a beating heart is always considered alive and thus entitled to all the rights and considerations of other living members of its species.

I think that would make a heart transplant murder, no?

It’s hardly going to resolve the question, but you can look at the other end of life. The official standard is that brain stem death is enough reason to turn off a life support machine.

Some would disagree with that, but is there anyone out there who would not unplug a headless corpse?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/when-decapitation-doesnt-mean-death_us_58124189e4b096e8706962e5

• John Schilling says:

I think that would make a heart transplant murder, no?

Organ transplants generally have required a rethinking of traditional standards of life and death, in a manner that not infrequently results in doctors being accused of murder by e.g. aggrieved parents of the “donor”. And sometimes by the police.

Since it results in saving the lives of unquestionably innocent people, and we usually get everyone else involved to agree to it beforehand, there’s a strong incentive on society to adopt a non-traditional standard of death for this purpose. But the alternatives to “heart stopped, time to pull the plug” for this purpose are clearly fuzzy and ambiguous enough to not qualify as Schelling points by any standard, even when we can attach an EEG machine and measure brain activity.

Other plausible Schelling points: As noted, breathing is a traditional one, but useless for this purpose unless we’re trying to allow for immediate postnatal abortion. “Quickening” is traditional on the other end but largely deprecated in the western world, and subject to obvious reporting bias. Fetal viability, but like brain activity difficult to evaluate on a case-by-case basis. Dividing pregnancy into trimesters has sufficiently established itself in western medical practice that it could presumably be used, and IIRC was used by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. It would be really, really helpful if hearts started beating at or about the end of the first trimester and viability at the end of the second, but nature hasn’t obliged us on the first part of that at least.

• Jiro says:

By longstanding tradition pretty much everywhere, a thing that has a beating heart is always considered alive

That’s where the equivocation comes in. Something with a beating heart is considered alive in the same way that a chicken is. But it is not considered alive in the sense “it’s alive so I don’t have the right to kill it”. You can’t just prove that the fetus is alive in the first sense and then switch over to the other one.

• John Schilling says:

Something with a beating heart is considered alive in the same way that a chicken is.

To the vast majority of the human race, nothing human is, was, or ever will be “alive in the way a chicken is”. A human is either not alive at all, or it is alive in a way a chicken will never be, and anyone who proposes otherwise is a monster.

And to people who recognize different orders of animal life, e.g. vermin < livestock < pets, a creature is either not alive or it is fully alive in the usual manner of its type. Your attempt to collapse these two axes into one, in a sort of moral "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" way, isn't without a basis in reason, but it has almost nothing to do with how the vast majority of humans who aren't utilitarian rationalists are going to evaluate moral questions.

"Hey, guys, it's so simple! We just treat embryos between six and twelve weeks like they are alive in the sense that chickens are alive so that we can deal with them they way we do chickens!" is not the Schelling point that brings agreement on troublesome abortion questions, it is the thing that gets its proponent dismissed as a second-rate Peter Singer.

• Jiro says:

To the vast majority of the human race, nothing human is, was, or ever will be “alive in the way a chicken is”.

But this means you’re agreeing with me. Having a beating heart proves that a fetus is alive in the same way that a chicken is–and nobody uses that definition of “alive” on humans.

Proving that a fetus is alive by a definition nobody uses, and then pretending that it means the fetus is alive according to a different definition, is equivocation.

• John Schilling says:

If you think the phrase “a fetus is alive in the same way that a chicken is” is at all relevant in attempts to persuade people who aren’t nerdy rationalist utilitarians, then no, I don’t agree with you. But I don’t know how to explain it any better than that, so I guess you’ve managed to shut me up.

• Jiro says:

It’s supposed to be persuasive, but not in the sense that you’re supposed to believe it. The whole point is that saying that a fetus is alive because it has a heartbeat doesn’t tell you anything that people actually care about.

• Winter Shaker says:

That’s why “beating heart” is a more obvious Schelling point. Conception and birth are even more obvious. The thing you’re looking for, I think, is a carefully negotiated optimal solution, and that’s pretty much the opposite of a Schelling point.

Okay, I take your point … I was thinking more in terms of ‘rough estimate, based on current medical knowledge, of when a developing nervous system is likely to have the capacity to suffer, pending us improving our understanding so as to be able to pinpoint it more accurately’. But if that’s still too elaborate to count as a schelling point, then fair enough, I will retract my use of that term.

However, I stand by my original point – that ‘conception’ (even despite the fuzziness that Garrett points out) and ‘birth’ are both deeply flawed, but ‘heartbeat’ just seems like a really really weird option. It’s so close to conception as to make practically no odds, (assuming you are taking a ‘minimise suffering’ position, rather than a ‘for supernatural reasons a new soul with the same rights as an adult pings into existence fully formed at fertilisation’ position, which you presumably can’t be if you are arguing for heartbeat) and there is nothing magical about a heartbeat in a thing which was already being sustained, and will continue to be sustained for several more months, by nutrients from a bloodstream pumped by a completely different heart anyway.

That is to say, in the case of a developing embryo, the presence or absence of a heart beat very obviously does not correlate with the presence or absence of every other marker for life that we care about, so arguing that that should be the cut-off seems to me to make even less sense than conception, birth, maybe even than an arbitrary number of weeks.

• John Schilling says:

(Fetal heartbeat is) so close to conception as to make practically no odds,

Pragmatically, if fetal heartbeat occurs at six weeks, that’s enough time for an attentive woman to note that she’s missed a period, pee on a stick, say “oops…”, and make a quick visit to the local clinic. This takes care of most of the demand for abortions, and so most of the controversy.

Or would if it weren’t for the combined problems of inattentive women and obstacles deliberately placed in the path to the clinic, but six weeks at least gives you room to address the issue.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

It’s not just a matter of women being inattentive about their periods– some women have irregular periods.

• secondcityscientist says:

“Breathing” would be another obvious Schelling point, though one that abortion opponents are unlikely to adopt.

Also, as cardiac development is something I have a bit of expertise in: the heart develops before basically any other organ in the body. It starts contracting before the gut and the lungs are anything more than an undifferentiated mass of mesenchyme, before the neural plate transitions to the neural tube. Before the limbs are anything more than lumps on the side of the embryo. Heart beats start before the heart itself is fully developed, instead of a four-chambered heart it is only a peristaltic tube when it begins contracting. By choosing this specific marker as a cutoff, you’re biasing yourself towards one of the earliest possible developmental markers – and I suspect this is something the OP knew when he or she chose it.

• sierraescape says:

@secondcityscientist

Nah, a heartbeat isn’t chosen to be biased towards earlier developmental markers. Please consider motives a bit more carefully. It is a clear Schelling point. “Don’t stop a heartbeat” is far, far easier to coordinate around than, say, “don’t stop waste moving through the intestines” or even “don’t kill something that looks like a human.”

Heartbeat appears to me to be by far the best Schelling point besides birth and conception. Speaking of which, birth seems to me a far better point than breathing itself–otherwise killing an otherwise healthy baby which has just exited the wound before it takes its first breath is entirely permissible.

• Drew says:

We’ve got thousands of years of broadly cross-cultural heritage, even in medicine and law, that says a heartbeat defines life

There’s tradition that says, “No Heart Beat => Dead”. So, “Alive => Heartbeat”. But, you can’t use “A => H” to get “H=>A”. That’s just bad logic.

When I think of cultural tropes around when stuff’s alive, the one that jumps out is, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” This is literally saying that the thing isn’t a chicken until it has hatched. The still-developing egg is just an egg.

If we look at livestock pricing, there’s nothing special about heartbeats. Here’s an article on bred heifer prices.

The author doesn’t talk about heartbeats because the presence of a heartbeat isn’t culturally significant. The cow’s pregnant, or it’s not. The calf is born, or it’s not. But there’s no jump in price for the calf-fetus getting its heartbeat.

This matches what I’ve seen with religious traditions. No religion I’m aware of would change it’s funeral or post-miscarriage rights based on the presence or absence of a heartbeat.

As an example, the Conference of Catholic Bishops has rites for Blessing of Parents after a Miscarriage or Stillbirth. It doesn’t talk about stage of pregnancy because that’s not a culturally-salient distinction.

• Deiseach says:

Guttmacher Institute does a lot of work on this, they are a “research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and globally” so they do think abortion is the bees’ knees, but their stats are generally trustworthy.

• Drew says:

Which then results in the uncomfortable conclusion that the safest method is to forbid abortion past the easiest point to measure–the 4th week of gestation, or the first time the expectant mother has missed her period.

Pregnancies that make it to 4 weeks still have a ~25% chance of ending in miscarriage.

Would you really declare that these miscarriages are as morally-significant as the death of a 12-year-old with leukemia? If so the implication is that we’re massively mis-allocating our medical research funds.

Miscarriages would be such an overwhelming loss of QALYs that we should focus almost all of our medical research on them, to the exclusion of pretty much everything else.

And, I’d argue that the state should ensure that everyone deserves a funeral and a respectful burial. If a person’s family can’t or won’t provide this, then I think the service should be conducted at the public expense. Would you support full funerals for naturally miscarried tissue?

The alternative is saying that these ‘deaths’ are only morally significant when it helps restrict women, and aren’t of a concern otherwise.

—-

But, I’m another person who doesn’t see why I should support “beating heart” as a a better coordination point than “breathing.”

I don’t assign much moral weight to newborns. So, I’m not worried about us ‘slipping’ to any plausible point.

Instead, I accept “infanticide is legal murder” for the same reason I’d be ok with a country saying, “kitten-burning is murder.”

Both crimes acts are extremely rare. They’re deliberate, and not something people would do out of necessity. So, while I think the acts are over-criminalized, there’s not a lot of practical harm. People can avoid infanticide or kitten-burning in the same way they avoid walking in front of trains.

The “beating heart” standard, in contrast, would require significant number of people to hold their spouse’s hand, as the spouse hemorrhages out due to a ruptured Fallopian tube. That seems far, far more repugnant than infanticide.

• Deiseach says:

I don’t assign much moral weight to newborns. So, I’m not worried about us ‘slipping’ to any plausible point.

Oh, that will be reclassified as euthanasia, under right to die laws. Baby X can’t speak for themselves but would you really force a child living with an incurable syndrome that is in great pain to exist for the few years of life they have, instead of a painless and humane death? The parents can make this medical decision and they’re asking us to help Baby X.

I don’t think we’re “slipping”, I think we’ve already “slipped”. It’s just haggling over the price, now.

• Wrong Species says:

With the Charlie Gard case, we’re already at the point where parents don’t have a choice anymore. If the doctors say the child isn’t worth saving, you’re not allowed to save him/her, even with your own money.

• . says:

I’m not totally up on the case, but I *think* this mis-states their position. The problem was not that Gard would not contribute to society, the problem was that he would have been condemned to an I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream situtation.

• keranih says:

FWIW, I think the NHS was completely out of line and betrayed their humanity, much less their responsibility to the citizens who employed them, but I agree with . that the stated reason for forbidding further care to Gard over his parent’s objections was that the doctors/administrators had the opinion that any further care, no matter who provided it, would preserve life with pain but not function or communication.

• Wrong Species says:

I meant “the child isn’t worth saving(because its life will have too much suffering that can’t be overcome) not “the child isn’t worth saving(because it doesn’t pass a societal cost-benefit test). My point was that we have slipped even further than Deiseach said.

• keranih says:

Would you really declare that these miscarriages are as morally-significant as the death of a 12-year-old with leukemia?

A non-trivial fraction of parents do think so now, in the USA today.

Other places, other times, you didn’t grant people the status of humans until they get to five years old or so.

The alternative is saying that these ‘deaths’ are only morally significant when it helps restrict women, and aren’t of a concern otherwise….I don’t assign much moral weight to newborns.

The first sentence shows a strong lack of charity/understanding of the other side, and yes, cremation/burial for miscarriaged babies is a thing.

The second sentence is not wrong so much as very rare. I don’t think you well understand the pov of many people on this, which makes it hard to make arguments that other people will accept. (Or so I’e been told.)

The “beating heart” standard, in contrast, would require significant number of people to hold their spouse’s hand, as the spouse hemorrhages out due to a ruptured Fallopian tube. That seems far, far more repugnant than infanticide.

To me, this looks like a motte and bailey exercise. Even the Catholic Church does not *require* that a woman die of an ectopic pregnancy. It might be helpful to note that ectopic pregnancies occur at about a rate of 1 per 100 live births, while in the USA today, the abortion rate is about 20 abortions per live birth. And the death rate even in undeveloped nations is very low – around 2% of ectopic pregnancies result in the death of the mother. (In the literature, one is more likely to survive being carried to term as an ectopic pregnancy than being infected with rabies, but the survival gap is very slim.)

While I would not wish this situation on anyone, I don’t think the math entirely works out in favor of your argument.

• entobat says:

[I]n the USA today, the abortion rate is about 20 abortions per live birth.

My intuition violently rejects this statement. Are we working under two radically different sets of assumptions?

Back of the envelope calculation: there are ~300 million people in the US [a little more], half of whom are women. Women live on average 90 years and give birth to 3 children [a little less], so 1/30 women give birth in a given year. This comes out to ~5 million births.

100 million abortions a year means the average woman gets two abortions every three years. That seems way, way, way, too high. Getting pregnant takes a while! It probably takes at least a month of unprotected sex for the average woman to even conceive a child, so the maximum is probably 36 abortions every 3 years. But there’s no way the demographics of “can afford / has insurance for 36 abortions in 3 years” and “can’t figure out how IUDs work” line up. And there are plenty of women who never get an abortion—or only once in their life (the classic “I made a mistake”)—who will drag the average down considerably.

Google confirms that there are 4 million live births in the US every year, and further supplies that there are 600,000 abortions reported to the CDC. Are you saying that > 99% of abortions in the US are not reported to the CDC?

• keranih says:

Yeap. Dadnabit. Meant to say “22 per 100 live births”, the same scale as I used for ectopic pregnancy.

22 per live birth *is* quite extreme. Even the USSR, back in the bad old days, only got so high as 2.01 abortions per live birth. (not a typo)

• hyperboloid says:

@keranih

Just seconding what entobat said. CDC statistics put the rate at something like 200 abortions per thousand live births. in addition to the sheer mathematical implausibility of, at a minimum, 80 million abortions being preformed every year, it’s odd that your figure is off by exactly two orders of magnitude. I think you’ve simply misplaced a decimal point.

• keranih says:

Yeap. Dadnabit. Meant to say “22 per 100 live births”, the same scale as I used for ectopic pregnancy.

(PS, ty for the charity of the assumption)

• Drew says:

I took the argument to be that “heartbeat” is an interesting shelling point.

I agree that “heartbeat” it’s a possible shelling point. But so are ‘conception’, ‘2nd trimester’, ‘viability’ or ‘birth’.

To stand out among these possible coordination points, I think there’d need to be some number of people who see the event as a morally significant transition (or close to one).

I’m not aware of any group of people that’s especially attached to “heartbeat”.

The Catholic rule is a dentological “you must not intentionally kill.” Abortion is prohibited in-as-far as it’s an intended consequence. Abortion is allowed in-as-far as it’s a side effect of removing tissue.

However, nothing about this hinges on heartbeat. As a result, Catholics (and other dentologists) have no reason to accept the ‘heartbeat’ shelling point.

That leaves a utilitarian-style argument that fetuses get a lot of moral significance when they develop a heartbeat. I don’t think that any group of people holds this belief.

So there’d be no coalition that wants to anchor policy to “heartbeat” instead of moving it earlier or later in the pregnancy.

And, even if OP represented such a coalition, I’m not sure why they’d talk about forbidding abortion on a week-by-week basis when ultrasounds are available.

Edit: Restructured to focus on OP more directly, and move away from generic culture-war. And I apologize for the low-quality prior post.

• Wrong Species says:

The utilitarian position would be that a fetus starts to have moral significance when it can feel pain, not when it has a heartbeat.

• Evan Þ says:

I certainly hope there’s more to the utilitarian position, or else killing someone under general anesthesia would be totally okay.

• keranih says:

@ Drew –

I appreciate the edit. Thanks.

I myself agree that “heartbeat” might become a decent Shelling point, but it is not well advocated for now.

However, I’m not sure how relevant that is. For example, women have known themselves to be pregnant before “quickening” – that is, first feeling the baby move inside the uterus. However, quickening has been (in Anglo culture) been a shelling point for determining if abortion or homicide has occurred. It’s not so used now, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t considered a decent line before.

History is full of moving lines (and goalposts). Even as a conservative, I think that the modern WEIRD culture is less about whether or not to move goalposts as where to set them (and for how long.)

• It’s worth noting that the traditional Schelling point was quickening, I think believed to happen at the end of the first trimester and be signaled by movement of the fetus.

7. bean says:

Naval Gazing
Thoughts on recent incidents at sea
Series Index
Monday brought news of an incident at sea, the collision between the destroyer John S McCain and a tanker near Singapore. 10 sailors are still missing, although some bodies have been found. This followed on the heels of the USS Fitzgerald collision in June, which killed 7. There have also been a pair of more minor incidents earlier this year, the grounding of the cruiser USS Antietam and the collision between the USS Lake Champlain and a Korean fishing boat. All but Lake Champlain are homeported in Japan.

Fundamentally, I believe these are the result of failures of seamanship. Not running into things is one of the most basic skills of running a ship, and while good seamanship can compensate for bad electronics, good electronics simply paper over bad seamanship until something major goes wrong. We’ve seen the same effect in aviation, called instrument fixation, most notably the crash of Air France Flight 447, where an electronics failure caused the crew to become confused and pilot the airplane into a crash.

There’s been some speculation about these being the result of Russian or Chinese cyberattacks. This is really implausible. No cyberattack has yet been invented which will cause the failure of the Mk 1 eyeball. Maybe a complete systems crash that caused a failure of all communications and electronic plotting would make this forgivable, but the crew would have noticed and reported that. And then the problem would be fixed.

The USN appears to be taking this seriously, although I’m not sure it will solve the problem. The relief of the 7th Fleet Commander (7th Fleet is the USN’s western Pacific fleet) is fairly typical, but the zero-defect culture of the USN has caused problems in the past. People tend to fudge the results until it blows up on them. We’ve seen this with a rash of ship captains being relieved for various causes over the past 10 years. It looks like the USN might be promoting the wrong people, and I desperately hope this means they get to the bottom of it. Or the problem could be concentrated in certain areas. All the ships involved were old and assigned to 7th Fleet. We don’t yet know if this is a result of those factors, or coincidence. A good place to start getting answers is finding an independent flag officer (I’d suggest looking at either the Coast Guard or the Royal Navy) to run the investigation. But the situation is still developing, and there is a lot of work being done. Not sure when it will spill into the public eye. The best place to watch is probably the US Naval Institute news blog, which is generally somewhat more accurate than the regular media.

• bean says:

I’ve just changed the index from an SSC post to a Google Docs, so I don’t have to keep updating it. Also, a reminder that I’m currently moving, and looking for guest posts by people who know of naval things. If you want to write one, email me at battleshipbean at gmail.
And thanks to Scott for getting the OT up. I was starting to twitch.

• sohois says:

I know nothing about boats, but I am an expert on the shade of blue, Navy. Would this be an acceptable substitute?

• bean says:

How does one become an expert on a specific color?
Also, no. But a good try.

• Gobbobobble says:

I knew a paint chemist who could go on for hours about the different types of black.

• hlynkacg says:

Minor grumble…

While I understand the reasoning, the use of “missing” in this context has always bugged me. We know where these guys are, they’re behind the watertight bulkhead that separates the aft berthing spaces from the rest of the ship.

• John Schilling says:

Conceivably they could have been up and about even when they were supposed to be getting rack time, been knocked overboard by the impact, and are now treading water in the Pacific.

Not terribly likely at this point, but since it’s Really Really Bad to get that wrong in the first few hours, I can see the logic behind “missing” as the initial classification and the lack of urgency in changing it. Soon enough we’ll either find the bodies or close the first phase of the investigation.

• hlynkacg says:

Like I said, I understand the reasoning, it just irks me.

• CatCube says:

I imagine that “Missing” also trips some bureaucratic filters necessary to get search and rescue deployed, and as John Schilling noted, it’s important to get them out there fast.

It might be the inverse of “DUSTWUN” used in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is “Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown”. If you called someone “Missing In Action”, well, that needs to be reported to the Pentagon within a few hours, because (IIRC) the President wanted to be woken up if a Soldier was declared MIA. If somebody is DUSTWUN, you can take a day or two to look for them without waking up the President.

• Gobbobobble says:

Minor paraphrase:

I’d suggest looking at […] the Royal Navy to run the investigation

Is this a thing that happens? Special Relationship and all, but I didn’t expect that to extend to “come audit how we run our military”. I’d have guessed that the brass were far too paranoid for such things 🙂

• bean says:

There’s a lot of low-level interchange between the USN and RN, to the point that a surprising number of USN carrier pilots and deck crews are RN. (This has occasionally caused problems because the USN prohibits facial hair and the RN doesn’t if you can still seal your mask.) At a higher level, it’s unlikely because the USN doesn’t think it has to listen to anyone else. Most bridge crews in other navies have the standard international watchstander certification. The USN doesn’t, probably simply because they aren’t willing to let the auditors in. Or, uncharitably, because they aren’t up to standards.
As an example of the different cultures, during one exercise a USN and an RN warship bumped (the nautical equivalent of a fender-bender). The next day, the USN ship was missing, and the RN admiral asked what had happened. He was incredulous when he was told that the US ship had been ordered back to port for an investigation. He had apparently been involved in a similar incident early in his career, and been given a letter from a senior admiral beginning ‘today you became a better sailor’.

• Gobbobobble says:

Thanks!

The USN doesn’t, probably simply because they aren’t willing to let the auditors in.

That’s much more in line with what I’d expect 🙂

• AlphaGamma says:

This has occasionally caused problems because the USN prohibits facial hair and the RN doesn’t if you can still seal your mask.

IIRC the RN only allows facial hair if it is a ‘full set’ (full beard and moustache connected to each other). The RAF allows moustaches but not beards, as does the Army (except pioneer sergeants who have beards). Sikhs, of course, are an exception.

• bean says:

You’re probably right. I just recall hearing some of the RN people having to carry around copies of the relevant regulations while on exchange tours.

• dvr says:

The theme of comments on the Navy subreddit (see here, here, and here) has been to blame fatigue.

“I averaged 3 hours of sleep a night on my DDG and CG. Sometimes I’d go days, 48-36 hours, depending on scheduling, before I could catch more than a 90 minute nap over lunch in my shop.”

With a whole list of responses about how they have the same experience and this is typical of the Navy makes this seem like a pretty serious problem. Cyberwarfare might not be able to sabotage the Mk 1 eyeball, but 48 hours without sleep is getting into “literally hallucinating” territory, and the ability to exercise good judgment will be compromised long before then.

The aviation comparison is also interesting, since apparently sleep deprivation has been recognized as a big enough problem for naval aviators that pilots and flight crew have strict limits on working hours and are required to get a certain amount of sleep every night.

If this is actually the problem it seems like the fix should be fairly straightforward- implement new policies to ensure that sailors are getting adequate rest, and enforce them.

• bean says:

If this is actually the problem it seems like the fix should be fairly straightforward- implement new policies to ensure that sailors are getting adequate rest, and enforce them.

I’m reluctant to just blame fatigue here. Was it contributing? Almost certainly. But two collisions leaving sailors dead with three months is massively above base rates. Sailors have been sleep-deprived since at least Nelson’s day. Unless someone can show that fatigue has gotten a lot worse recently, I still think there’s a serious problem somewhere else.
All that said, don’t have any objection to an anti-fatigue program for the ship’s crew similar to what the air crews get. Hlynkacg should be able to talk more about that.

• hlynkacg says:

As noted, fatigue/inattentiveness was recognized as an extremely common cause of crashes and flight deck mishaps fairly early which lead to the adoption of regulations and institutional/cultural norms regarding “crew rest” on the aviation side. The most significant being clear delineations between “up” (on duty) and “down” (off duty) time and an emphasis on contiguity. “6 hours rest” means “6 hours uninterrupted rest”. NAVAIR regs specify how much down time personnel get for a given amount of up time, and “breaking crew rest” (putting someone back on duty before their allotted down time has elapsed) is treated as a moderately big deal.

I can’t really speak much about life on the Surface Warfare side but, I remember a conversation I had during my first detachment to a small-boy* where one of the younger boat guys was shocked that we [the air det] expected to and would stay at our stations for 8, 12, even 24 hours at a stretch. My understanding is that duty/watches for the ship’s company were allocated in 4 hour blocks, and while (on paper at least) they were getting more a lot more down time than we were, it was rarely uninterrupted. I also got the impression that the line between on duty and off duty was a lot more porous for the boat guys. I don’t think telling a supervisor, or random NCO looking for a working party “find someone else, I’m out till 1600” would have gone over well at all.

*Aviation parlance for non-carrier naval vessels that do not have their own aviation facilities.

• John Schilling says:

No cyberattack has yet been invented which will cause the failure of the Mk 1 eyeball.

Unfortunately, the Mark I Eyeball comes pre-hacked with a vulnerability to objects on a steady collision course.

Playing devil’s advocate, if I could hack a PPI or other display so that any object on a constant, closing bearing gets a small fictitious bearing change with each update, I’d wager I could get a fair number of deck officers to disbelieve their own lying eyes and/or lookouts’ reports. Maybe even until it was too late. I don’t think it could be kept hidden well enough to make for a really effective attack, so I don’t think it is what is happening here, but it’s an interesting, nasty thought.

• bean says:

A reasonable point, but it seems unnecessarily elaborate as a scheme. If I could hack USN PPIs, I certainly wouldn’t risk giving the game away by trying to get their ships hit by merchies. That capability would stay safely concealed until the actual war started, and my fighters started disappearing from their screens. Also, I’ve heard that the Fitzgerald’s CIC correctly plotted the ship that hit her, and for some reason the bridge did nothing, but I don’t have sources offhand.

• Deiseach says:

So could this possibly be the results of all the increasing bells and whistles, with sailors being trained on the machinery and the old-fashioned “look over the side with your own eyes” approach gone out with the dodo?

• bean says:

That’s my guess as to the prime cause. There’s obviously other contributing factors (I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone involved was really fatigued), but it’s hard to see how this could have happened with proper manual situational awareness.
There’s a lot of issues in the surface warfare community. (Glossary: SWO is Surface Warfare Officer, the people responsible for driving warships). Lack of standardized training, a culture that doesn’t focus on lessons learned, and the fact that they aren’t necessarily the cream of the navy. There are undoubtedly good SWOs, but the bad ones aren’t being washed out early enough. And then there’s the frankly bizarre, like Staple Head.

• Gobbobobble says:

the fact that they aren’t necessarily the cream of the navy

Where do these people go? Subs? Aviation? I would’ve expected “running the big expensive ship” to be a prestigious, competitive position.

• bean says:

Where do these people go? Subs? Aviation? I would’ve expected “running the big expensive ship” to be a prestigious, competitive position.

More or less. Aviation is probably the most prestigious, along with SEALs. Submarines are sort of off to the side. It takes a special kind to do that.
AIUI, there’s basically no way to wash out of the SWO track, except by running your ship into something. It’s kind of the default you do if you don’t want to do something else. There are undoubtedly people who really want to drive ships, but I’m not sure the Navy is doing a good job of separating them from everyone else.

• hlynkacg says:

I would’ve expected “running the big expensive ship” to be a prestigious, competitive position.

Command of a ship is very prestigious and highly competitive. Being a junior officer aboard one is not, and that’s being charitable.

Aviation, specifically fixed-wing carrier aviation, has been the most prestigious career track on the officer side for a while. Personally I blame Tom Cruise. Special Programs (SEALs, Divers, EOD, SWCC) are prestigious but more so on the enlisted side. There just aren’t enough leadership billets in it for your average fresh-faced academy grad to consider it a sound career move. Subs are prestigious but also kind of weird, they do cool things and have very high standards but they keep to themselves. Non carrier aviation has a (not entirely unwarranted) reputation, as where people who wash out of harder programs end up. SWO, being the largest community by a wide margin, ends up as “the default” and I think there’s some merit to bean’s suggestion that the Navy is not doing enough to separate those who are SWOs because genuinely want to drive big ships from the those who are there because they look good in white.

• redRover says:

Non carrier aviation has a (not entirely unwarranted) reputation, as where people who wash out of harder programs end up.

Is this mostly for fixed wing P-3/P-8 type stuff, or helos as well?

• hlynkacg says:

Both, but there are enough people there by choice to keep the community healthy. At least that was the case in my day.

• John Schilling says:

So now I’m reminded of Robert Heinlein’s story about “The Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail”, wherein the quasi-autobiographical protagonist determines that World War Two is coming soon, a young-ish man’s postwar prospects will be greatly diminished if he isn’t a veteran of some sort, and he’d rather not suffer inconvenience, discomfort, and/or death on the path to becoming at least a second-rate war hero.

Decides to fly maritime patrol aircraft, on the grounds that A: aviation is mature enough to be reasonably safe if you aren’t pushing the limits, and the second engine plus emergency water landing capability helps, B: most likely to be based stateside, and if not then on a nice tropical island, and C: U-boats have only a minimal antiaircraft armament which they rarely use to any effect.

Actual Heinlein served in the SWO community and then invalided out with tuberculosis before having to decide what he was going to do in WW2. But it does occur to me that, at this point, flying a P-8 is basically flying a 737 but you get “veteran” benefits and prestige to carry into your second career as an airline pilot.

• Dissonant Cognizance says:

FWIW, submariners consider themselves the most elite and selective (and, yes, the weirdest) of the three main warfare communities, but then everyone in the Navy thinks their job is the hardest and most important and that they’re criminally underappreciated.

• Andrew Hunter says:

• bean says:

See here

• Deiseach says:

the fact that they aren’t necessarily the cream of the navy

From “King Solomon’s Mines”:

“That pendulum’s wrong; it is not properly weighted,” suddenly said a somewhat testy voice at my shoulder. Looking round I saw the naval officer whom I had noticed when the passengers came aboard.

“Indeed, now what makes you think so?” I asked.

“Think so. I don’t think at all. Why there”— as she righted herself after a roll —”if the ship had really rolled to the degree that thing pointed to, then she would never have rolled again, that’s all. But it is just like these merchant skippers, they are always so confoundedly careless.”

Just then the dinner-bell rang, and I was not sorry, for it is a dreadful thing to have to listen to an officer of the Royal Navy when he gets on to that subject. I only know one worse thing, and that is to hear a merchant skipper express his candid opinion of officers of the Royal Navy.

• hlynkacg says:

…and don’t even think about getting the Army involved. 😉

Thank you, that made me chuckle and reminds me that I’ve been meaning to read the rest of Haggard’s Quartermain stories.

• redRover says:

Unrelated question going back to the carrier vulnerability thing:

How hard is it to mission kill a carrier by hitting the catapaults or arresting gear? I assume the cats are more vulnerable than the arresting gear, but it seems like a hit on either of these would effectively mission kill the carrier, even if everything else came out relatively unscathed. Obviously the next question is how long it takes to get back to operating capability, but I imagine there’s no hard answer to that without knowing more about the size of the weapon, where it hit, etc. However, I imagine it would probably involve a trip back to a shipyard to get a decent fix done, and who knows what the lead times are on some of that stuff.

• hlynkacg says:

The catapults are surprisingly small targets and in the Nimitz has 4 of them but really only needs one, maybe two. I can think of a few easier targets that have less redundancy. The arresting gear on the other hand might be worth aiming for. Punching a hole in the landing area would at least buy you an hour or two, and wrecking the arresting gear machinery spaces below it might necessitate a return to port. Those piston assemblies are pretty massive and I don’t know how many (if any) spares are kept on board.

• bean says:

That’s a really good question, and one I don’t have a good answer for. As hlynkacg points out, there are four cats, and they’re reasonably spread out. You also have three or four arrester wires, each of which has an independent dampener. And the weapons you have just aren’t likely to be that accurate, particularly as the deck is several inches thick. The latest ship I have good numbers on hand for is Midway, which was 3″, which is enough to be fairly resistant to most modern anti-ship missiles unless they land right on target.

• hlynkacg says:

Ironically I’ve actually given this question a lot of thought. 4+ hours in Stbd D waiting for the pointy-nosed assholes to finish thier deck quals will do that. I’m honestly not sure how much of it I’m comfortable sharing in public.

In a general sense getting a mission kill on a carrier is tricky because it’s already a floating maintenance depot. A lot of the fiddly little bits like sensors and communications that you might take a smaller ship out of the fight can be readily repaired/replaced by the carriers own onboard facilities. redRover’s Idea of targeting the arresting gear is a good one, but runs into practicality issues. A hit that trashed the A-Gear machinery spaces would certainly be a mission kill and likely necessitate a return to port but scoring that hit is going to be tricky. At the end of the day though I think the best bet is probably just to kill it with fire.

Aircraft and Aircraft Carriers both have tendency to fill any empty volume they have with gasoline. A sizable conflagration will draw the crew’s full attention and certainly preclude the launch/recovery of aircraft.

• Andrew Hunter says:

Question: in a modern combat environment, can you really target any specific part of the carrier? Bean seems to be implying pretty strongly that any hits at all you’ll take and be lucky to get. No?

Now what this means is the above discussion is actually “in the case where someone gets lucky (or throws enough metal) and mission-kills a carrier, what did they likely hit?”, which is still interesting, but less tactically relevant.

• redRover says:

@Andrew Hunter

I think with current technology it’s basically if you get a it, you get a hit, and you can’t really choose where you get that hit. However, in the future I wonder if you could get decent enough optical processing for the terminal phase that you could try to target specific bits of the flightdeck. As bean has pointed out, even finding the carrier is a non-trivial exercise, especially given the distance that a carrier can move during the flight time of the missile. The hardware doesn’t seem like it would be too hard, and image processing probably wouldn’t be too difficult, as you already know the outline of the target from the X zillion pictures of the carriers that are around. Obviously it would need some testing, and you would also need to maintain a decent amount of maneuverability into the terminal phase, plus it would be vulnerable to relatively simple countermeasures like a smoke screen, but I wonder if you could get away with it once or twice in the future?

• cassander says:

@Andrew Hunter

there is some ability to target different parts of the carrier, but fairly limited. Radar guided weapons will naturally home in on the parts of the hull that reflect radar especially well, usually the corners. I’m not aware of a missile that does this, but missiles can be designed to attack decks rather than the sides of ships. IR weapons will be drawn to the hottest parts of the ship, usually engine exhausts.

• John Schilling says:

Some modern antiship missiles use imaging infrared sensors as part of the terminal guidance system, which gives them at least the hardware element for targeting specific aimpoints on a ship. And sea-skimming missiles seem to be able to hold altitude to within a meter or two, which implies steering accuracy generally should be that good if you’ve got the sensor data to support it. So the question comes down to whether Enemyistan can write software that will reliably match an IR image to a target model in its library and maintain a solid lock on a preferred aimpoint.

Note that there’s a nasty failure mode where your missile isn’t quite able to reliably recognize e.g. the arrestor machinery and so alternates every half-second between aiming for a spot near the stern and “nope, can’t make it out, going to be safe and head for center-of-mass”. That at best leads to the missile bleeding off energy in a zig-zag trajectory, and at worst going completely out of control.

• bean says:

I feel compelled to point out that something like 90% of antiship missiles sold are of designs that were intended to take out frigates in the 80s. Yes, the very latest whiz-bang missiles might be able to do specific targeting (although you also have to worry about what your missile does when it can’t draw a correlation between the carrier in its database and the Burke it’s actually headed towards), but they are rare and also potentially fraught with all sorts of interesting software bugs.
There is some potential for specific targeting, but I think it will probably come about as a result of an attempt to minimize damage to the target in scenarios where the US doesn’t want to actually kill them, instead of attempting to maximize damage from a given warhead by our enemies.

• hlynkacg says:

@Andrew Hunter

Targeting specific components is possible, but basically requires modern guidance tech and a platform with clear line of sight. Getting that is going to be difficult if the carrier’s escorts and air wing are doing thier job. In a situation where carrier is alerted and actively trying to evade/repel attackers I’d say bean’s characterization holds, but as the opening shot in a sneak attack there is the potential to get lucky. Emphasis on the luck part.

• hlynkacg says:

In regards to “promoting the wrong people” there was a joke when I was in that went

Mr. Roberts never made captain, but Mr. Bligh did.

• AlphaGamma says:

In fact, Bligh retired as a Vice-Admiral.

On the other hand, at the time of the Bounty mutiny, his actual rank was Lieutenant- he was only Captain by courtesy. And he never held a sea-going flag command- his last two commands were the ship in which he was expelled from New South Wales (where he was governor) by a rebellion, and the squadron in which he returned to England after he was replaced and the rebellion ended…

• The Nybbler says:

So he made it to flag rank after losing a mutiny? Was that usual? I’d have expected being mutinied against would be at least career-limiting if not career-ending.

• bean says:

Apparently not. He was court-martialed, but honorably acquitted. (At the time a court-martial was essentially the board of inquiry, and was mandatory after the loss of a ship.)
He didn’t drive the crew to mutiny through strict discipline, and the whole situation was a bit weird. But he made Captain, and that meant he’d make it to flag rank if he didn’t die first.
Actually, he was apparently highly regarded. He commanded ships at both Camperdown and Copenhagen. I’m not sure why he was sent to Australia, or what went wrong there, but I’ve always walked away from trying to understand Australian politics with a headache.

• bean says:

I was talking about this was a former SWO friend, and he had some interesting thoughts. He was in 94-00, and talked about driving around off SoCal as night OOD. The captain had standing orders to wake him if any ship got within 10,000 yards, and wanted a long list of information when he did. But it took ~10 minutes to calculate everything on that list, which meant that he lost situational awareness for quite a while at a vulnerable point. He said he spent most of the time navigating to make sure nobody got within 10,000 yards just so he didn’t have to fill out the forms, but that this sort of thing almost happened to him.
His top-level thoughts were just that we got really unlucky to have two incidents so close together. This sort of thing does happen from time to time, most recently the Porter in 2012. Apparently it had happened to his ship (Kincaid) shortly before he joined, although they’d only had one dead. I’m not sure I endorse this, but I figured I should share it.

• johan_larson says:

Foxtrot Alpha has an article about efforts to evacuate the flooded areas of the USS Fitzgerald after it was struck by the ACX Crystal.

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/inside-the-struggle-for-survival-onboard-the-uss-fitzge-1798417269

The article references a report released by the navy on August 17th:

8. . says:

Animal ethics question: I am reading Wilson and Holldobler’s The Ants and it says something really striking:

[Myrmecocystus mimicus] colonies conduct ritualized tournaments… Opposing colonies summon their worker forces to the tournament area, where hundreds of ants perform highly stereotyped display fights. When one colony is considerably stronger than the other, in other words able to summon a larger worker force, the tournament ends quickly and the weaker colony is sacked…. the queen is killed or driven off and the larvae, pupae, callow and honeypot workers are transported to the raiders’ nest.

There are plenty of animals (including humans) that substitute displays of strength for total combat, and it’s easy to imagine how this evolved since it is better for both the winner and the loser. Something like that is happening here: since the fight is ritualized rather than all-out, the weaker colony’s workers, pupae etc. are preserved. But they are not reproductive! And the reproductive ant is frequently killed. It is as though humans mugged in a dark alley would agree to bet their lives on an arm-wrestling match rather than fight, in order to keep their phone screens from getting cracked. You can imagine this giving humans a group advantage – at least this way someone gets an intact cell phone – but it still seems really weird.

• Urstoff says:

That does seem weird. Why acquiesce if they’re just going to kill you anyway?

• 1soru1 says:

> Why acquiesce if they’re just going to kill you anyway?

Because genes are selfish, not moralistic. One surviving copy is better than zero, for either side.

• Urstoff says:

What copies survive in this case? And if there’s some non-zero chance of a successful defense, then acquiescence doesn’t makes sense from a selfish gene perspective.

• 1soru1 says:

The copy held by the attacking queen.

• Urstoff says:

Right…so ritual combat benefits the winner, but not the loser. Given that these aren’t repeated games, as the loser is destroyed, it’s hard to see how the losing behavior would have evolved given that it doesn’t benefit any of the genes of the loser.

• Charles F says:

Right…so ritual combat benefits the winner, but not the loser.

I thought the point was that it benefits the gene, which is held by both of them.

Given that these aren’t repeated games, as the loser is destroyed, it’s hard to see how the losing behavior would have evolved given that it doesn’t benefit any of the genes of the loser.

I think there’s a little bit of nuance lost here. In a ritual combat that’s fairly even, territory is maintained and neither colony loses many ants. In one that’s close, but favors one over the other, the losing colony cedes territory and the next time it happens it will be closer to their colony and they should be able to make a better showing because of that. If one is the overwhelming winner, they destroy the other colony and take over.

• Urstoff says:

• 1soru1 says:

True if the ‘losing behavior’ is genetically distinct from the winning one. But if it is a single trait that is sometimes beneficial and rarely negative, then that’s enough for evolution to work.

Given ant battles lack tactics, morale, weaponry, etc., they are going to be pretty much deterministic. In species that lack a dedicated solder caste, they are a matter of workers pairing up and killing each other; the side with ants left over wins. So submitting when you are going to lose anyway is near-zero cost.

So even if a strategy of ‘accept surrender, fight to the death’ was biologically possible, it would have no reason to be evolutionary superior to ‘accept surrender’. So Occam’s razor favors the simpler strategy.

• Iain says:

@1soru1:

Even if we assume for the sake of argument that ant battles are a strict numbers game, I don’t think your conclusion is true.

One colony can be wiped out but still have surviving sister colonies. So long as the colony being wiped out is more related to other nearby colonies than it is to its conquerors, a gene for taking the bastards down with you will tend to spread, because it makes your relatives safer from subsequent attacks.

• 1soru1 says:

> So long as the colony being wiped out is more related to other nearby colonies than it is to its conquerors

If there were some biological mechanism whereby that assumption might be tested, and acted on where applicable, then using it would likely be beneficial.

• Iain says:

I mean, there’s probably already selective pressure to avoid picking fights with related colonies. (Unless the solution is just to make sure you fly far enough when forming a new colony that your neighbours are unlikely to be related.)

• HeelBearCub says:

The point Urstoff is making is that the opposing Queen, the only “true” holder of the genetics of the defeated colony, dies. So none of her genetic code survives.

What I think you may be saying here is simply that the genetic package for this particular behavior is more likely to survive if this behavior is adopted.

I’ve maintained that this kind of game theory explains altruism as well. Sure, the individual who is truly altruistic may lower their own chances of survival, but the altruistic package is more likely to survive. This explains why it doesn’t seem to depend very much on complex kin calculations.

You can say that the gene package is “selfish”, but that doesn’t mean that the individual isn’t actually altruistic.

• Deiseach says:

Honeybee queens fight and the colony follows the winner, so presumably the ants have the same instincts: follow the winning queen. Otherwise you’re wiping out the population for no gain if the two colonies fight each other ‘to the death’. Taking in the losing larvae etc means the greatest number survives, and since only the queens reproduce, the mostly sterile workers don’t lose anything by submitting to another queen – they don’t get to transmit their genes in general, anyway.

• Rob K says:

When honeybee queens fight, the fighters are siblings or mother and daughter, all closely related to the workers in the hive. Queens of different hives don’t fight.

• keranih says:

To quibble – workers of a hive with “queenright” are strongly hostile to invading queens and will kill them if possible. In order to introduce a new queen to a hive, one must kill the old queen and introduce the new queen in a way in order for her pheromones to take effect and coopt the workers to accept her.

• Witness says:

Only the queen is killed, right? And possibly only “driven off”, which maybe leaves a slim chance of turning the tables later?

So let’s alter the analogy: bands of people gather together and ritually challenge each other. An obviously dominant display results in the weaker group serving as slaves to the stronger and removed from the reproductive pool*, rather than being immediately killed. I think there are some people who would replace all-out war with this if given the choice. It doesn’t even sound *that* far off from some things I’ve read about actually happening.

*In humans, we’d likely see only the males removed, but whatever.

• . says:

It is true that this happens among humans (Zheng He was the victim of just such a settlement) [I was probably wrong about Zheng He]. If this is an instinctive way of resolving conflicts among humans it also demands explanation.

The ambiguity in “driven off” may explain what’s going on here, a lot could hinge on the deposed queens’ survival rate.

• hlynkacg says:

Is it weird that I find it weird that you find it weird?

• anonymousskimmer says:

since the fight is ritualized rather than all-out, the weaker colony’s workers, pupae etc. are preserved. But they are not reproductive!

Possible they can be. Better a shot than no shot at all.

Why did human eunuchs work at all?

Perhaps the two ant colonies are relatively closely related? Odds are they would be if they are close enough for a ritual war. And if so, then the extra workers from the one colony would aid the survival of the other colony. Odds are they are only combating in the first place due to some resource limitation or other environmental factor which risks both colonies in some way.

The above description reminds me a bit of the Moche civilization:

some, like Ivan Ghezzi, also argue that this conflict was fundamentally ritualistic in character. Ghezzi explains that dominance over neighboring populations was far more important than the mere acquisition of land, given the amount of effort needed to make this landscape fruitful. A successful ritual war could convince the losers that the winners’ influence with the gods was stronger than their own; acceptance of the winners’ dominance would result, at least for a while.
http://michaeltfassbender.com/nonfiction/ancient-history/history-of-the-moche-people-of-peru/

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

“Why did human eunuchs work at all?”

In the real world, there’s a pull towards reproductive success, but people have additional motivations like comfort, pleasure, and status.

• anonymousskimmer says:

Yes 🙂 , it was a rhetorical question.

I’m sure the motivations of ants also do not solely revolve around reproduction. Reproductive selection is not synonymous with “fully determined by reproduction”.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

How sure are we that this actually happens?

A little searching turns up that ants do ritualized combat– display combat where no one gets killed, and a mention of workers being enslaved, but no mention of queens being killed.

• . says:

I checked the source, which is Tournaments and slavery in a desert ant by Hölldobler. The article is just as vague as the quote about what exactly happens to the defeated queens; I think they must not have observed it directly. It is definitely possible that this a big nothing.

• Chalid says:

Maybe nearby ant colonies have closely related queens on average; a high expected degree of relatedness would justify this behavior.

Prediction: when a new queen of this species leaves the nest, it does not travel far from its parent colony.

• rahien.din says:

If an ant colony’s survivability is directly related to its size (seems plausible) and if non-ritual ant wars are waged in large part by attrition (seems plausible) then the winning colony’s survivability is maximized if combat is ritual.

Therefore, ant species that tend toward such ritual combat will outperform ant species that tend toward physical combat.

• Grek says:

Ant larvae ARE reproductive. Random larvae in the hive are selected to be fed enough to grow into queen ants. If the victorious hive loots the defeated hive’s larvae, they are also taking perpetuating the defeated hive’s genetic lineage. Which is a clear when for the smaller hive, in that their infant children are not slaughtered and eaten by the warrior ants from a more powerful hive.

It bothers me that people jump to group selectionism rather than double checking whether more traditional selection isn’t going on.

9. HFARationalist says:

Music of totalitarian movements

I’m not sure if anyone else here has listened to music of totalitarianism but I suggest that let’s give it a try as long as you don’t live in a jurisdiction such as Germany that bans them.

I’m not sure whether it is suggestion at work. However Nazi songs are uniquely depressing. Does anyone else believe that Horst Wessel’s song is just depressing?

• Well... says:

No clue, but I once got curious and listened to a bunch of Nazi punk music on Youtube. I thought it might be interesting to see if these guys reject the “black” roots of rock music (i.e. blues) and injected something very different instead, kind of the way Helmet does (lots of unusual key changes, dissonant harmonies, unorthodox rhythms, occasional odd meter, etc.).

Well it turned out the Nazi punk bands weren’t nearly that smart or sophisticated: it was all basic 1-4-5 chord progressions in 4/4 (or 2/4, really) with angry rapping over them, mostly about how white kids should stop acting black and sagging their pants. The music was incredibly boring and uniformly poorly recorded.

• HFARationalist says:

Sorry but that’s just pseudo-Nazism. America isn’t disciplined enough for the real thing.

I’m talking about actual, serious Nazi songs such as Horst Wessel’s Song and the Devil’s Song (SS marches in enemies’ land). I can understand why they caused people to commit the Holocaust.

Here are my comments on real Nazi songs.

Horst Wessel’s Song is melancholic with the idea of an oppressed people seeking revenge.

The devil’s song is basically SS members openly declaring themselves Satanic (which is really shocking in a Christianized society in 1940s) and amoral.

Both are really horrible as music, especially the latter.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

It seems plausible that they liked the Devil’s Song because they were already bad rather than that the Devil’s Song made them much worse.

• HFARationalist says:

I agree. It was originally a Condor Legion song. I’m not sure whether the lyrics have worsened over time.

The melody seems to make people cold and cruel. It’s certainly not going to make one happy. Both the melody and the lyrics are fit for Nazi mass murderers and unfit for normal people.

10 years of Nazism wasn’t sufficient to bring up enough SS executioners who didn’t believe that there was something wrong with shooting women and kids. Hence SS members did openly admit how evil they were and tried to accept amorality.

P.S. The foreign versions of this song usually have less insane lyrics. The German version is the worst.

• dndnrsn says:

@HFARationalist

For one thing, a decent chunk of the executioners were not SS men – when the SS death squads went to work during the invasion of the USSR, they bulked out their numbers with “reserve police” units meant for rear-area security. Among other army units that participated in the killing.

For another, they absolutely were able to justify it to themselves. Himmler’s speeches, or at least the one delivered only to SS men, expanded at length on the theme “we did this horrible, yet necessary, thing, while remaining moral” and he justified the murder of women and children on the basis that a future generation would seek vengeance otherwise. Meanwhile, the men who did the killing found ways to justify it to themselves, eg telling themselves that it was OK to shoot children because with their parents dead they were doomed anyway, so really it was merciful.

They didn’t justify their evil deeds to themselves by saying “well actually we are evil” like some kind of early-90s Norwegian metal band. They came up with excuses and rationalizations.

• HFARationalist says:

@dndnrsn Oh I never did it.

I really wonder whether Nazism was the first rational, collectivist and amoral movement that has ever existed.

• dndnrsn says:

I don’t know that I’d call them rational, and they were grotesquely immoral – their entire system was predicated on the need to conquer, destroy, and enslave, with conquering, destroying, and enslaving also a means to that end.

• HFARationalist says:

@dndnrsn I would say that they were at least much more rational than most people in that period. It takes some rationality to be that immoral. To get started they needed to discard all the rosy stuff culture and Christianity have produced. Or I would say..to be that immoral you need to get rid of lots of woo.

• Trofim_Lysenko says:

Yeeaaah, I’m not sure what you mean about SS Marschiert in Fiendesland (which is catchy enough to survive with rewritten lyrics in at least three or four militaries, to include Germany’s). It’s lyrics are pretty tame compared to “Yellow Bird”, “Momma Told Sally”, “I wanna Fly an F4 Phantom”, “Blood On The Risers” or that all-time classic “Napalm Sticks To Little Children”.

I’m pretty sure the SS’ badness is fairly orthogonal to their choice of music.

• dndnrsn says:

@HFARationalist

The Nazis had plenty of woo of their own, and the “Nazis discarded Christianity” thing is not really correct either.

• HFARationalist says:

@Trofim_Lysenko

Really thanks! You are right and I was wrong. Lesson learned and case closed.

Our consensus: The evils of Nazism aren’t necessarily related to their music.

• Aapje says:

We’re getting this site banned from the internet with these extremist opinions!

• cassander says:

I don’t think it can be argued that USSR produced the most inspiring national anthem in the world. I can’t hear it without feeling an urge to run up a red flag and start slitting throats.

• HFARationalist says:

I agree that USSR had a nice national anthem. It is still used by Russia now. It certainly calms and motivates people.

The North Korean one is also good.

Communists usually pretend that they are in heaven even when they are in hell.

Nazism should be seen as a distinct phenomenon from fascism. The music of Italian fascists is enjoyable. The music of Nazis on the other hand is horrible. You should try it if it is legal in your jurisdiction.

• HFARationalist says:

If you want to listen to Islamist songs please listen to a parody/remix version. Don’t go to real Islamist websites and Youtube pages because we rationalists don’t want tto be mistaken as Islamists.

Who has listened to ISIS songs? Again please do it through anti-ISIS parody videos.

• CatCube says:

I’m at a bit of a loss to understand why an individual who happens to visit one website visiting another website would cause confusion in this way.

This leaves aside the fact that many (or perhaps most) of us aren’t “rationalists”. We’re rational, of course, but reject the movement with that name as a way to gussy up certain political positions so their holders can coo about how smart they are.

Okay, fair cop. My apologies.

• hlynkacg says:

Are you actually interested, or just trolling?

• . says:

Interpreting it charitably, figuring out how to monetize disaster relief would be a huge coup for libertarianism.

• Urstoff says:

That’s what “price gouging” is. It benefits everyone by drastically increasing supply, but people hate it anyway because they somehow think there’s a scenario where demand skyrockets, supply keeps up with demand in the short-term, and prices remain the same.

• Jiro says:

Allowing price gouging benefits people in the immediate situation but creates bad incentives.

• Urstoff says:

What bad incentives does it create?

• Jiro says:

It creates incentives to raise prices.

• Skivverus says:

Eh, an incentive to raise prices isn’t so bad. What is, though, is an incentive to create disasters, which increases as the price spike does.
That is, the Broken Window Fallacy isn’t as much of a fallacy if you happen to make windows. Mostly we mitigate this by hunting down people who break windows (or who pay other people to break windows from the proceeds they expect from the increased demand).

• It creates an obvious good incentive–to make sure that, if a disaster occurs, you have an inventory of the goods people will want, which you can sell at a high price.

• Standing in the Shadows says:

you have an inventory of the goods people will want, which you can sell at a high price

I discovered some time ago that the local immigrant owned family owned “dollar store” keeps an inventory of window fans, window ACs, and small ceramic electric heaters stored in some very cheap warehouse space a few hours drive outside the city, that they opportunistically keep stocked up when they find really good prices.

When there is a local weather temperature excursion, they sell them at a 10x-plus markup.

There are people who think this sort of thing is immoral. Such people are wrong, and are stupid.

• Urstoff says:

Well, yeah, and those short-run price increases increase short-run supply. Are you claiming it increase prices in the long-run as well?

• Jiro says:

Come on. Giving an example of a good incentive (it incentivizes sellers to stock up) doesn’t mean the bad incentive doesn’t also exist. It’s not as if they are mutually exclusive. Whether the situatioon is overall better or worse considering the incentives depends on the balance between good and bad incentives.

• Giving an example of a good incentive (it incentivizes sellers to stock up) doesn’t mean the bad incentive doesn’t also exist.

Correct. You asserted bad incentives. I pointed to an obvious good incentive.

You wrote “it creates incentives to raise prices.” Why is that a bad incentive? Given that supply was less than demand at the old price, raising the price until they are equal looks like a desirable change.

Are you in favor, in other contexts, of pushing prices below market equilibrium? If so, why?

• Jiro says:

Why is that a bad incentive?

Because “price” can be set high enough that the disutility of paying the price is just slightly less than the disutility of being dead, homeless, etc. I don’t think you should be permitted to sell someone the food they need to live for the price of a slavery contract, even if that is the market equilibrium.

Are you in favor, in other contexts, of pushing prices below market equilibrium?

If “other contexts” means “scenarios sufficiently different that I don’t have similar concerns” obviously my answer must trivially be “no”.

• Price gouging does not benefit people as much as selling the same goods at uninflated prices. You write as though it is a law of nature that gouging occurs, but it is a decision made by humans. Therefore it is not inevitable, and it is morally considerable.

When there is a local weather temperature excursion, they sell them at a 10x-plus markup.

There are people who think this sort of thing is immoral. Such people are wrong, and are stupid.

Nothing is stopping them from
using a 5x or 2x markup. Gouging in the sense of excessive profit is not making anything happen.

• @Jiro:

You are conflating two different situations–an unusual scarcity with monopoly. If someone is the only seller of food, he can push the price way up, accept the fact that he won’t sell all of his food, but be better off than selling all of his food at the price at which quantity demanded equals quantity supplied. That’s true whether or not there is some special problem with food due to a crop failure or the like.

In an unusual scarcity, such as a snow storm resulting in a sudden demand for shovels or a power failure a sudden demand for candles, there is no particular reason to assume only one seller, and the prejudice against raising prices in that situation isn’t limited to monopoly situations. With multiple sellers, the price rises to the point where quantity demanded equals quantity available. If I try to push it higher than that, I’m the one who is left with unsold inventory while my more reasonable competitors sell out.

If sellers try to hold the price below that, you have the same problems as with ordinary price control. Something has to ration the limited supply, determine who gets it, since people want to buy more at that price than others want to sell. So lines get long enough so that price in time plus price in money is up to the supply equal demand point, or the goods are allocated to the people who happen to arrive at the store first instead of the people who value them most, or they get allocated to the people the sellers happen to like, or … . And none of those scenarios give sellers an incentive to prepare for the shortage by accepting the cost of holding an extra inventory of those goods in exchange for the extra profits to be made in the occasional emergency.

• Jiro says:

And none of those scenarios give sellers an incentive to prepare for the shortage by accepting the cost of holding an extra inventory of those goods in exchange for the extra profits to be made in the occasional emergency.

Yes, they do. The key is that not all scenarios which depend on higher prices depend on the same levels of higher price If you allow 20x normal prices, but you don’t allow slavery contracts as prices, it may be that the 20x normal price is sufficiently high to encourage holding extra inventory for disasters.

• Yep. Gouging is excessive profit. You can allow profit and forbid excessive profit at the same time

• onyomi says:

Three guys are in white collar prison and ask each other what they’re in for.

A says: I got caught price gouging. The judge said I charged too much more than the market price.

B says: I’m in here for dumping. The judge said my prices were too far below market price.

C says: I’m in here for collusion and price fixing. I charged the same as everybody else.

• Jiro says:

Three blue-collar criminals in jail:

A (convicted for robbery) says: I went into a bank and took something that wasn’t mine!

B (convicted for bringing a gun into the bank) says: I went into a bank and brought in something that was mine!

C (convicted for threatening the customers): I neither brought in anything nor took anything out!

• albatross11 says:

AncientGeek:

What’s the difference between a reasonable and unreasonable markup, and how do you determine that?

• skef says:

What’s the difference between a reasonable and unreasonable markup, and how do you determine that?

Whether you could get away with charging members of your in-group that much for it?

• Mary says:

After Katrina, there was a lot of loud demands about price gouging.

So, before Rita, the gas stations were much more reluctant to raise prices.

Result: a lot more people found it literally impossible to get the gas they needed to flee Rita than to flee Katrina.

• Edward Scizorhands says:

Solution: Have the government mandate price increases. Throw a switch and say “all gas must now go up by 3 a gallon.” You can’t get mad at the store owners that way, and meanness is coordinated so people don’t feel especially targeted. • random832 says: If you have that level of central control, why not implement rationing instead? Keep demand under control by saying each customer is only allowed to buy enough gas to get to a level sufficient (plus some margin of error) to reach the next gas station along the evacuation route. • Edward Scizorhands says: What I propose is much much easier than rationing. And I’ve been in ration lines at gas stations and they are stupid. When you limit each person to 5 gallons of gas, they go from gas station to gas station to fill up. “Enough to get to the next gas station” is not how you quickly evacuate a town. Prices are useful tools. Let them work. But people get butthurt that they’ve being “gouged” so this is a way to get past the butthurt. • random832 says: How do you prevent people from dying because they can’t afford the raised prices on essential goods? In a disaster area there’s no good way to get charity or government aid to them in time to make a difference. • Edward Scizorhands says: I’m not trying to solve that problem. I’m trying to stop people from making problems worse by replacing markets with scheme they haven’t thought through. • Aapje says: Price hikes for fuel during evacuations have two potential benefits: 1. Making it worth keeping larger supplies if the price hike is larger than the cost of storage and opportunity costs between evacuations and/or bringing in supplies before a potential evacuation (park fuel trucks somewhere). 2. Distributing fuel more efficiently, for instance by forcing more people in fewer cars so they can share fuel costs. Is there any research to how effective this actually is? I have my doubts since the problem often seems to be the infrastructure, which you can not magically scale up when the disaster is imminent, but evacuations are so rare that preparing too much is not worth it. Is a bit of price gouging really going to be so worthwhile to upgrade the infrastructure a lot? People also seem quite price insensitive to fuel costs in general and considerably more so in emergencies. Even with no price gouging it makes a lot of sense to fuel up your cars/boats to the rim and keep some petrol in a canister, because of the risk that the petrol station will run out or be so busy that you need to wait hours in line. The risk of those things provide incentives much like price gouging, so does that provide much additional benefit? • Edward Scizorhands says: I would like some flow vs stock numbers. Like: Houston has 10 million cars each with a 10 gallon gas tank, that average about half-full. (People drive until nearly out of gas then fill up.) So there are 50 million gallons of gas in Houston normally, but when there is a emergency people will want 100 million gallons to top off their tanks. The Houston market receives 30 million gallons of gas a week, so this represents 1.5 weeks worth of demand appearing at once. What are the real values for my bolded numbers? • random832 says: @Edward Scizorhands I don’t know the specifics to put real numbers to it, but your scenario puts a tank and a half of gas (on average) in every car. • keranih says: a tank and a half in every car Yeap. Because many (most?) households with two cars don’t drive them equally, and a non-trival number have a car that is not normally driven much, and so has a lesser demand throughout the year. But probably most significant is the existence of portable gas tanks. • . says: To be sure, stockpile goods and then sell them is definitely a good market-based response, but it does seem relatively hard to do rapid provision of non-excludable goods, a.k.a. repairing the roads and corpse removal. There might also be a great opportunity to make loans to the survivors, since an unpredicted disaster means a whole lot of people desperate for immediate cash who also aren’t deadbeats. Do retail banks have disaster-chasing divisions? • Paul Brinkley says: I can’t even tell what Brad is replying to. It appears as a top-level comment, and nothing in Scott’s post looks relevant. Everything else in this thread reads like everyone knows except me. Is my thread format broken somehow? • Brad says: No, I deleted the substance of my top level post. It was a fairly obnoxiously phrased question about conservatives about to be hit by a hurricane and whether or not they’d eschew government help. • Deiseach says: conservatives about to be hit by a hurricane and whether or not they’d eschew government help I think that speaks to the problem in the main post; “conservatives” is a wide-ranging term that covers a lot of points of view, but it gets treated in effect as “really right-wing” and as we’re seeing, conflated with “conservatives = alt-right = white supremacists = Nazis” (I’ve seen at least one comment online making this exact same jump, and there seems to be a current of sentiment about “see, we told you Republicans were Nazis and you didn’t believe us!”). I’m a conservative, and right now there has been severe flooding in part of the country (not my part) and the government is promising financial backing to the local authority to repair damage and I don’t see why this would be a problem. My only scepticism, in fact, is that the aid money will be set aside or handed over without a festoon of conditions. “Conservative” does not automatically mean “anti-government” or “libertarian”. • HFARationalist says: “Conservative” or “right-winger” aren’t useful terms at all. • ildánach says: @HFARationalist And likewise “Liberal”, “Progressive” and “Left-Winger”. I can’t help but wish there was a stronger movement to taboo political group names. 11. lvlln says: So I’m sure many here, and everyone who pays attention to the culture wars, have heard about the story of one Robert Lee being moved around in his college football announcing duties by ESPN. There’s still a lot that we don’t know and perhaps might never know about the circumstances, such as how much of it was a voluntary choice by Lee versus pressured onto him (especially given that ESPN recently had massive layoffs a few months ago). And the fact that he was re-assigned to another game that wasn’t obviously a downgrade (at least, not obvious to me, not knowing much about college football) and the fact that he was a part-time employee rather than someone with a career track at ESPN makes the decision seem more reasonable than it otherwise might have been. But what this got me thinking about was the uncomfortable place that Asians have in the current culture war in the USA. When it comes to representation in professional sports, it seems to me that Asians might be one of the least represented racial groups (is this actually true? My perception is that both athletes and announcers – who tend to be ex-athletes – are overwhelmingly white, black, or Latino, with different skews for different sports, like hockey being very white or basketball being very black), and we just saw the professional opportunities of an Asian announcer being manipulated purely because of his name. Yet the people most loudly complaining about ESPN’s actions tend to be those who also loudly complain about others loudly complaining about mistreatment of racial minorities. Recently there’s also been some controversy over a lawsuit over affirmative action due to its discrimination against Asians, with people seeming to take sides entirely based on how they always felt about affirmative action, with no modulation for how they feel about racial minorities. For a while, I’ve been considering Asians the elephant in the room in the race wars in America – we’re clearly minorities, and many of the same arguments about representation, the othering of non-whites, the treatment of whites as default, etc. that many on the left use to support the notion that non-whites are being oppressed apply to us just as well as to any other non-white race. There are additional Asian-specific concerns, of course, such as the hypersexualization of Asian women and the exact opposite of Asian men. Yet we’re also highly inconvenient for many other arguments, such as school performance, income, career success, which tend to be better than those of whites, despite all the obvious evidence of oppression listed above. So one big thing that I’m wondering about is, where will we be 5 years from now? Will Asians still be the elephant in the room that no one really honestly talks about, used when convenient but ignored when not? Will we be sufficiently welcomed in the left as another legitimate member of the POC who are oppressed by society, to join the fight in dismantling the kyriarchy? Will our population-level academic/financial success be used as obvious evidence that we must be an oppressing others and get us into the same group as whites? Or something else I haven’t imagined yet? In 2012 I wouldn’t have accurately predicted what the culture war landscape would have looked like in 2017, and I really have no idea what it will look like in 2022. As an immigrant from Korea, I’m not sure which of the 3 situations seems most likely, or which I’d even prefer the most. • HFARationalist says: You need to prepare for the worst. As the power and prosperity of Northeast Asians increase so will hatred towards Northeast Asians. Several decades later Northeast Asians might be in the same shoes whites are in now, strong but hated. So you need to always be ready to move. I hope China and North Korea become democratic ASAP. If that happens you will at least have a safe place to emigrate to. You need to be prepared for Koreas getting annexed by China and non-NE Asians throwing you out like Jews because you earn money through hard work and intelligence. Then you should decide whether you want to return to Northeast Asia or remain outside it at any time. You may move from nation to nation to keep yourself and your property safe, you know. Take care! 🙂 Oh and Southeast Asians and Indians are very different from you. They aren’t in the same racial situation you are in. • lvlln says: You need to prepare for the worst. As the power and prosperity of Northeast Asians increase so will hatred towards Northeast Asians. Several decades later Northeast Asians might be in the same shoes whites are in now, strong but hated. So you need to always be ready to move. I hope China and North Korea become democratic ASAP. If that happens you will at least have a safe place to emigrate to. You need to be prepared for Koreas getting annexed by China and non-NE Asians throwing you out like Jews because you earn money through hard work and intelligence. Then you should decide whether you want to return to Northeast Asia or remain outside it at any time. You may move from nation to nation to keep yourself and your property safe, you know. Take care! 🙂 Oh and Southeast Asians and Indians are very different from you. They aren’t in the same racial situation you are in. You don’t seem to go into any rational support for your assertions here. Certainly, Asians getting labeled the hated oppressor just like the Whites is a real danger, but what makes you think it is bound to happen? And why decades? I’m thinking decades is a way too long a time span to make accurate predictions about something like this – I imagine something completely unexpected might be in vogue in a few decades. I was very much into the social justice movement when I was in college 10 years ago, and I wouldn’t have predicted that it would have become what it is today – I wonder if you’re in any better position to make predictions. Also, when it comes to East Asia, I think hoping for China or North Korea to become democratic, or thinking that China will annex the Koreas are all rather unlikely. If any of those happen, it’s likely to happen with a lot of violence that would override any concerns I have about the social treatment of Asians. You seem to be laying out a truly worst case scenario, but I don’t see reason to believe that it’s a likely scenario – at least, not likely enough to seriously commit resources to prepare for. Yes, if left unchecked, SJWs are likely to cause incredible amounts of death and suffering. But they’re not unchecked. • HFARationalist says: You don’t seem to differentiate among Northeast Asians, Southeast Asians and South Asians. They are in completely different situations. Northeast Asians are likely to be able to do well in the long run. However if China and North Korea stay erratic it is possible that despite the fact that Northeast Asia will likely be rich there will be enough Northeast Asians who don’t want to be in Northeast Asia (e.g. China annexes both Koreas and Koreans don’t want to live under Chinese occupation). If that’s the case the NE Asian diaspora is likely to behave like a market dominant minority similar to some parts of the Jewish and Lebanese diaspora, namely they tend to be rich but they frequently worry about safety. Southeast Asians on the other hand may not necessarily do very well especially if we consider Pacific Islanders Southeast Asians. Hence they may choose to stay in America and other places even if SJWs or Nazis are running amok because their home countries may be even worse. If racism in America ends in a new Jim Crow or Apartheid they will be able to make a living. If instead real Nazism appears they need to move out or they will be gassed. South Asians are in another situation which is different from the first two groups. They tend to be elite members of their respective groups back in South Asia. So it is mostly an issue of whether they will have opportunities here. If Nazis run amok they will leave ASAP. I usually only think about worst case scenarios which is why I talk about genocides and genocidal race wars all the time. The whites vs NAM conflict isn’t about to end soon and NE Asians as well as Jews need to evacuate on time to not become casualties in this stupid conflict. • lvlln says: I think you might be able to write a really interesting piece of speculative fiction with this. I don’t think this kind of worst case scenario is worth considering more than that, though. For Jim Crow or straight-up Nazism to come to the US in a dominant way would require many many things to go wrong in a row for which we have lots of corrective measures in place. I’m not particularly worried about that. I’m a little more worried about dekulakization, but still well within the “pay attention” phase, not the “prepare for” phase. • HFARationalist says: @lvlln I’m not really sure. The point is that a new Jim Crow or Apartheid or even mass expulsion is NOT the worst case scenario. The worse case scenario I’m actually thinking about is genocide. As long as you can leave this is not that bad. • sandoratthezoo says: I think that in general, in popular political discourse, intellectual consistency is rare. I’d expect it to continue to be the case that Asians are treated as minorities when their experience fits into the narrative that a person is pushing, and ignored otherwise. • HFARationalist says: Because when people really do investigate what’s going on with Northeast Asians and their similarity with whites it will probably lead to H.BD and that thing is radioactive. Another funny thing is that people failing to separate this stupid pseudo-racial “Asian” category into Northeast Asians, Southeast Asians and South Asians. • Deiseach says: Another funny thing is that people failing to separate this stupid pseudo-racial “Asian” category into Northeast Asians, Southeast Asians and South Asians. Because nobody outside of America uses those categories; over here “South Asian” means “Indian” and would be used in that way, or the local PC term would be used (the Brits have their own ethnic categories). • HFARationalist says: I agree. 🙂 • Brad says: People value concision over precision. Those with ancestry from the Indian subcontinent are only a about 1% of the population. From the south-east Asia, about 2% with about half of that being Filipinos. East Asians are about another 3%. The total is about 6%. In contrast, African-Americans are about 12.5% and Latinos are about 18%. The alternative to an omnibus Asian category isn’t more specific categories, it’s being omitted from the conversation altogether. That’s what happens to every group in the world that doesn’t fit into White, Black, Latino, or Asian. • HFARationalist says: I agree. However socioeconomically it makes a lot of sense to separate these three groups. Being omitted from the conversation isn’t necessarily a bad idea especially for successful groups. • Jiro says: Will Asians still be the elephant in the room that no one really honestly talks about, used when convenient but ignored when not? That’s already happening. Will our population-level academic/financial success be used as obvious evidence that we must be an oppressing others and get us into the same group as whites? That’s already happening too, except nobody says it explicitly. • HFARationalist says: Eventually Northeast Asians will leave. If White Nationalists control America they will leave due to the white mob. If NAM control America they will leave due to the NAM mob. Eventually Northeast Asia will be so rich that almost no Northeast Asian will want to remain in America any more just like Japanese Brazilians desiring to leave Brazil. Then the “model minority” idea will end because the word “Asian” will refer to children of poor Southeast Asian refugees who are similar to NAMs socioeconomically. The new model minority will be Indians or they will simply be reclassified as whites. This is likely to happen in the next 50 years. • Yosarian2 says: I doubt it. Not 100% sure what you include in your category of “northeast Asian”, but: -While Japan is a rich country, the very high population density has some negitive impacts in standard of living, especially in terms of housing; just the fact that it’s so crowded and therefore housing is so expensive will tend to discourage people from moving back to Japan. Similar problems apply for countries like Singapore and Taiwan. -China will probably pass the US in total GDP in 15 years or so, but the standard of living *per capita* will probably still be lower then the US for a long time after that. • HFARationalist says: Racially NE Asian = Japanese + Korean + Chinese + Mongolian In the case of Japan the Japanese emigration rate is currently really low. The Japanese do enjoy Japan in general and are content with staying there. Japan is safe, clean, rich, convenient and its people have long life expectancy. In the case of China and post-Kim North Korea I think it is very likely that they will be rich in the long run. It takes some time for them to be fully developed but China has already built wonderful infrastructure. The main problem America has is its race problem. I don’t think there is any easy way out. I have no idea whether H.BD is correct. However if it is at least partly correct America’s underclass problem is probably not going to end anytime soon. Even if H.BD is just bullshit it will take a lot of time (and libertarianism) to solve. In the worst case Jews, Europeans, all kinds of Asians and Hispanics can just leave America. However as I said before, blacks and Native Americans have no place to go to if things become insane. • lvlln says: Will Asians still be the elephant in the room that no one really honestly talks about, used when convenient but ignored when not? That’s already happening. Well, yes, hence the “still.” Will our population-level academic/financial success be used as obvious evidence that we must be an oppressing others and get us into the same group as whites? That’s already happening too, except nobody says it explicitly. Well, yes, but it’s the “explicitly” I’m wondering about. As explicitly and openly and hatefully as whites get labeled as oppressors? • HFARationalist says: If that happens it is not necessarily bad for you. If I were you I would choose to be on the white side instead of the NAM one because the former is safer. • The Nybbler says: One possibility is that Asian women will go one way (with the idpol group), and Asian men the other (with the white males, which they tend to be lumped in with in the first place). And so the culture war just gets messier and messier. • lvlln says: Hm, that’s a good point. I could definitely see that happening and becoming more explicit. Some anecdotes that probably don’t mean anything but which come to mind are Suey Park being a very outspoken pro-idpol voice at one point, while Tim Tai and Andy Ngo have been subject to abuse by people who were pro-idpol. • andrewflicker says: I think there’s a number of sociologists writing about how asians in America are slowly “becoming” white, for the purposes of group identification and social dynamics. See how previous generations of Irish, Germans, or even “hispanic whites” eventually just got lumped in as “white”. • HFARationalist says: This can happen after Northeast Asia becomes so rich that new immigrants from that region generally cease to show up which has already happened for Japan. When that happens and the current intermarriage rate does not drop Northeast Asians who have not left America will be largely absorbed by whites. • Randy M says: Yet the people most loudly complaining about ESPN’s actions tend to be those who also loudly complain about others loudly complaining about mistreatment of racial minorities. It’s not complaining about persecuting a minority, it’s pointing out evidence that the current round of anti-persecution has gotten absurd. Will we be sufficiently welcomed in the left as another legitimate member of the POC who are oppressed by society, to join the fight in dismantling the kyriarchy? Will our population-level academic/financial success be used as obvious evidence that we must be an oppressing others and get us into the same group as whites? There’s a vague implication that the former is desirable and the latter undesirable. This does say something about the oppression narrative. For a while, I’ve been considering Asians the elephant in the room in the race wars in America – we’re clearly minorities You are minorities in America, but evidence is very much lacking that you suffer because of it, and given that there is a continent of 4 billion or so Asians (Asia) just over the sea with a myriad of nations designed or evolved with their interests in mind, I don’t see why non-Asian countries should prioritize the particular concerns of its Asian sub-populations, given that they have the same legal rights and protections as other citizens already. all the obvious evidence of oppression listed above. Evidence listed: -Private organization rearranges its employees assignments to avoid negative PR from liberals (who apparently don’t do nuance any longer) -Are subject to being displaced by affirmative action -Being a minority -Not “seen as default” despite being a whole 6% of the population -Asian women hypersexualized (more than white women?) and Asian men not sexualized This… kinda seems like “first world problems.” Can you give obviouser evidence of oppression? • lvlln says: Evidence listed: -Private organization rearranges its employees assignments to avoid negative PR from liberals (who apparently don’t do nuance any longer) -Are subject to being displaced by affirmative action -Being a minority -Not “seen as default” despite being a whole 6% of the population -Asian women hypersexualized (more than white women?) and Asian men not sexualized This… kinda seems like “first world problems.” Can you give obviouser evidence of oppression? I think those who complain most loudly about oppression of minorities tend to view the above as sufficient evidence to convince anyone that they’re being oppressed. I also think those people wouldn’t consider the fact that Asians make up just 6% of the population particularly relevant – for instance, they seem to find the idea of considering “cis” the default to be highly problematic, even though trans people make up an even smaller proportion of the population. Do you disagree? I personally think oppression should be evidenced by empirical data of common acceptance of actual discrimination that leads to worse outcomes, not hazy ill-defined terms like “seen as default” or “sexualization” or “objectification.” But that’s not considered the proper metric these days among the people who most loudly talk about noticing and fighting oppression. • Randy M says: Do you disagree? My mistake, I thought you were putting this argument forward, rather than questioning the consistency of those who might. I do not think “those who complain most loudly about oppression of minorities” is a group that is scrupulously objective and rational, and I don’t think you are going to convince them to support you by pointing out that you also suffer oppression as they define it. So, to answer your question, I think Asians will continue to be the odd ones out, not as powerful of a group nor as, let’s say, captivating of a grievance narrative, as those who are able to better capitalize on “historic under-represented” status, until your share of the population grows, at which point you may briefly wield significant power before splitting into subgroups. • HFARationalist says: @lvlln Northeast Asians will do well even if more discrimination appears just like Jews. SJWs and Nazis are really similar in the sense that they both try to artificially transfer resources from one group to another, believing that this can somehow make the world more fair. That doesn’t work. @Randy M This is unlikely to happen since most Northeast Asians and maybe Indians will leave if America ever becomes weird. The percentage of Asian Americans is likely to drop instead of rise in the long run. • Deiseach says: Asian women hypersexualized (more than white women?) and Asian men not sexualized Asian men were sexualised in a racist-adjacent fashion, see the movie Broken Blossoms which does have one scene where the character Cheng Huan has a moment of sexual temptation and is portrayed as the leering, yellow-faced demon terrorising pure white womanhood (it passes very quickly and his good intentions are established after that). The whole idea of White Slavery also played on that; the lurid campaigns against it portrayed it as a matter of gangs of foreigners trapping and kidnapping white women for prostitution. Why Asian men were later seen as not a sexual threat (and then that developing into not possible sexual partners at all) may possibly have to do with that role being shifted mainly to black men and perhaps Asians being very careful in the wake of things like the Mann Act not to engage in cross-racial romances and marriages with white women. • HFARationalist says: This is an interesting idea. I don’t know whether it works better than mine though. My idea is that this phenomenon is in essence non-racial in nature. Instead it is a consequence of social changes. Different groups are adapted to different environments. Hence when you put them together they don’t necessarily behave in the same way. The traditional white cultures did not have full sexual freedom as existing today. However they did have courtships compared to Northeast Asian or Muslim cultures which mainly practiced arranged marriages. • HFARationalist says: @lvllin By the way, hypersexualization of (Northeast and Southeast) Asian women is one of the factors that has been keeping these two groups safe. It’s in your interests to let this trend continue. In fact due to this trend John Derbyshire, Richard Spencer and many other alt-right leaders (even Andrew Anglin!) are not hostile or not very hostile to Northeast Asians which makes genocide of Northeast Asians unlikely unless China and US are caught in a war. The opposite for (Northeast and Southeast) Asian men on the other hand is a real problem for you unless you are asexual. However this trend wasn’t actually caused by racism. Instead it was caused by the dating culture of America. Racism does not explain why black men have a lot more success with white and other women compared to Northeast Asian men. Since there is welfare providers aren’t very popular here and Northeast Asian men are traditionally primed to be providers you are basically in a wrong dating market. In fact your marriage prospects would have been higher in 1960s. If you are looking for a spouse you can always aim for Latin American and Southeast Asia. There are enough ladies there looking for providers. That’s why Japanese Brazilian men can get ladies, even Portuguese ones easily despite the fact that Brazil has a lot more racism compared to America. • eh says: Racism does not explain why black men have a lot more success with white and other women compared to Northeast Asian men The okcupid data doesn’t quite agree with that claim, and it suggests that Asian women aren’t so much “hypersexualised” as they are “as sexualised as white men and women”. • The Red Foliot says: People who use OkCupid aren’t a random sample of the population at large. I would say they are a highly biased sample. • dndnrsn says: Interesting data point: in Canada, despite Asians (East, South, and Southeast) being a larger % of the population – 6% in the US, in Canada I would guess 14 or 15% (a bit over 13% as of 2011). This makes them the largest minority group in Canada. If you take South Asians out, East and Southeast Asians are still the largest minority group. Despite the fact that the demographics are completely different, the discourse is still basically the same as the US. • HFARationalist says: That’s because they are usually not a problem and can earn enough money? What is the Discourse mostly about in Canada? • dndnrsn says: Canada’s population of Hispanics is significantly less than the US, so they’re more or less absent, and the nature of our Hispanic population is different, because we’re not next to Mexico. Canada has a larger % of people of part or whole aboriginal descent than the US does people of part or whole American Indian descent – about 2.5x the %. They may also have it worse than in the US. For the first reason and possibly also the second, their issues are more present in the public eye than is the case in the US. Black people are a considerably smaller % of the population than in the US, and there are as far as I know no localities with as high a % as is the case in the US (in general, our patterns of urbanization are a bit different, both with regard to ethnicity and distribution). Social problems here are similar to the US, albeit to a lesser degree. Solving these social problems is impeded by the tendency of Canadians who consume US entertainment and news media to think that things are the same as in the US. Which they aren’t. East Asians are, yeah, doing well enough that they kind of fall off the radar. They’re underrepresented in some fields, overrepresented in others, overrepresented at good universities. Commit crimes at a lower rate than white people, etc. Similar to the US. • HFARationalist says: ^I don’t consider “Hispanic” a race on par with whites and blacks. Instead I propose that we simply call white Hispanics white, black Hispanics black, Native American Hispanics Native American and mestizo Hispanics multiracial (white + Native American). Having “Hispanic” as a separate category is as absurd as having “Anglo” as a separate category and then claim that all WASPs, Indians, English-speaking Africans are Anglos. Northeast Asians fall under the radar in Canada for the same reason why Singapore does not generally have affirmative action for white expats or Indians, namely they are socioeconomically completely functional. In fact America does not have affirmative action for Arabs or Iranians either. They function well and don’t need them any way. Blacks don’t inherently have problems. African immigrants here are doing fine. However for whatever reason a significant group of native blacks/AAs aren’t doing fine. They are angry because they are poor. Others are angry at them because they think AAs are commiting too much crime. • cassander says: I think a large part of the reason asians have gone unmentioned for so long is that they aren’t an electoral prize. Asians are only 5% of the US population, and 1/3 of them live in california, one of the least electorally dynamics states in the country. With no rewards to be won by mobilizing them politically, no one will bother to do so. 12. Jiro says: Scott, somehow this is always showing Pacific time for me in the timestamps on posts and on the “comment since” input. • bean says: That’s the board clock that everyone sees. It used to be central time, but then Scott moved to the Left Coast. 13. Vermillion says: Maybe I should save this for the next classified thread but this is more seeking general advice/thoughts so let’s do this. A week ago I (successfully) defended my PhD. That’s the end (almost to the day) of a 7 year grad school career. At this point I’m not exactly sure what I want to do, but I do know I don’t want to stay in academia. Beyond that I haven’t narrowed down my options that much, for one I don’t want to miss an interesting opportunity, and also I think I’d probably enjoy a wide variety of experiences, so long as their sufficiently different from my previous life. Here are some of the skills I have already and that I’d like to keep developing going forward: Explaining complex topics to laypeople, with PowerPoint if necessary. Working with teams of other smart, driven people, leading them if need be. Analyzing complex problems, with statistics if desired. Finding creative solutions, and figuring out how to actually implement them, since that’s the hard part. What I don’t want to do more of: Wait a month for rats to be born before the next round of experiments. Wait 2 months for reviewer comments. Write grants forever and ever. My current thought is to go into consulting, and I’ve got some leads I’m working to that end. I’d be really curious what other suggestions you all might have. • Eltargrim says: I’m afraid I can’t offer any suggestions, but congratulations on finishing the marathon! • Vermillion says: Thanks! • Chalid says: Congrats! Finance and tech are obvious options – have you ruled them out already? • Vermillion says: Thanks as well! I haven’t ruled either out, I think tech is less likely only because I’m not a great programmer nor inclined to become one. On the other hand there’s a lot of interesting biotech developments I’d like to get into. I’m also pretty interested in machine learning and AI (mostly on account of reading this blog) but I’m not sure where to go with it. Finance I’m not super familiar with but I understand I’d have to go and get certifications before going far, so that kinda dims my enthusiasm. • Chalid says: Data science seems like a decent fit for you; it does require programming, but you don’t have to be a great programmer. In finance, the kinds of roles a PhD will track you into don’t typically require certifications. Often these look like data science roles except they’re called “quantitative analyst” or something like that, though with more emphasis on subject matter expertise than your typical data science role. I did once meet a guy with a PhD in biology (I think) whose job was to keep abreast of biotech research (read journals, go to conferences, etc.), and then use that knowledge to help his hedge fund figure out which companies were likely to succeed. I have no idea how to go about getting a job like that though. • thepenforests says: Haha, I’m in a remarkably similar situation (7 years of grad school, defend next week, don’t want to stay in academia, not sure what to do next). If you don’t mind me asking, what was your PhD in? I obviously don’t have much advice for you (if I did, I’d use it myself). But I’ll at least say congrats, and best of luck. • Odovacer says: Wow! I’m in the same boat for the most part. I worked with mice* in genetics and am finishing after ~6.5 years. However, I’m still writing my dissertation. I know for certain I don’t want to do a post-doc or go into academia. I’m considering a biotech start-up, pharm company, or consulting. I too am mediocre when it comes to programming. However, I know a neuroscience PhD who went to a programming bootcamp and now does data science. He seems to like his new job quite a bit, and makes good money *Man, waiting for those suckers to breed and give me the right genotypes was a huge time-sink. It made me a bit envious of those in bioinformatics and those who worked with bacteria. • Well... says: User experience research. 14. gph says: New study on panic disorder that’s somewhat tangential to the Suffocating Woman post. The study shows some interesting results around a receptor which functions as a pH sensor somehow within the context of the inflammatory response of our microglia (basically the brains immune cells) . From what I understand the expression of this receptor was much higher in those suffering from panic disorder. Perhaps these pH sensors play some part in detecting suffocation, maybe even being involved in kicking off and building up the feedback loop that Scott proposed in his post. 15. Nancy Lebovitz says: I’m currently reading Winter Tide— it’s the sequel to The Litany of Earth, which is available for free at Tor. The premise is that Lovecraft’s Deep Ones are a maligned and mistreated minority– they’re good people with a worthwhile religion and a little magic, not to mention knowing much more about the history of intelligent life on earth than people do. As you may be able to deduce, this is very SJW. Lots about oppression, and no reason to think anything will get any better. Graceful writing, tremendous love of learning (a good bit of the story is about Deep Ones recovering their cultural heritage), vivid characters. The religion includes a good bit of stoicism. This may be of interest to conservatives because it’s about a culture where tradition is true and valuable. • sandoratthezoo says: I liked the original short story! Does the book do more with the, like genre elements of it? Because I liked “Deep Ones as mistreated minority” in the original short story, but it seems like if it’s just a novel-length examination of that conceit, it would stretch a little thin. But given a good plot and more depth to the Deep Ones qua Deep Ones, rather than Deep Ones as a stand-in for any oppressed people would probably get my purchase. • Nancy Lebovitz says: I’m not very far into the book, but there’s more about the history. We get to meet a Yith! I’ll report back when I’ve read more of the book. 16. Nancy Lebovitz says: Through the Shadowlands: A Science Writer’s Odyssey into an Illness Science Doesn’t Understand is definitely a rationalist book. A science writer with a background in mathematics is hit with a devastating combination of intermittent severe (and worsening) exhausting plus paralysis. She goes to conventional medicine first, but it isn’t useful. She didn’t like support groups much, but eventually explores extreme caution about mold, and finds it helps enough to make her life better. She does a double-blind test with washcloths, half of which have been exposed to a little mold and half of which weren’t. She didn’t react 100% accurately, but got it right enough that it’s some evidence that something physical is going on. Anyway, the book is about a stubborn effort to rationally solve a hard problem. 17. eyeballfrog says: Were people more impulsive in the past? This might just be selection bias, but reading through various historical events, it seems behaviors like dueling, feuds, and large scale wagers were more common in the past than they are now. I can make up a just-so story about how modern civilization selects for higher executive function, but I’m curious if there’s any evidence this is actually the case. • rlms says: People were definitely more violent (read the various lists of riots on Wikipedia and you will probably be shocked how many there are, especially controlling for population size). • onyomi says: Society was also younger in general. • Loquat says: Related: my father likes to say that one of the major themes of A Song of Ice and Fire is that in a society where people are considered adults at the age of 15, you’ll see a lot more stupid and impulsive behavior. • Eric Rall says: Gregory Clark in “A Farewell to Alms” documents a significant downward trend in rate of return on land in England from 9-12% around 1200 AD to less than 3% in the late 20th century. IIRC, he interprets this as a facet of a broader trend of real interest rates declining due to people becoming steadily more long-term-oriented rather than present-oriented. • Does he consider the alternative explanation of increasing security of property rights? • Eric Rall says: It’s been a while since I read it, but I don’t remember him talking about that at all. He’s pretty focused throughout on culture and temperament (particularly with regard to conscientiousness and future time orientation) and human capital. Off the top of my head, the biggest argument in favor of Clark’s interpretation of the graph over a security of property rights story is that security of property rights probably didn’t improve as steadily as the graph trend. In particular, I’d expect the Wars of the Roses to be a low point in terms of security of property rights, but the graph looks pretty flat for the 1450-1480 period. • James Banks says: The behaviors you mention (dueling, feuds, and large scale wagers) could be explained by an emphasis on personal (or collective) honor. Wagers can be about saying “I really do believe in this, or I really can do this, I stake my reputation on it”. Maybe people were more afraid of living in shame than of dying? Or, people in general were more willing to die, which allowed them to value honor? 18. James Miller says: I just got some Modafinil using a GoodRX coupon at Stop n Shop. I had a prescription but didn’t try to get it covered by health insurance. Without the coupon it would have been around600, with the coupon $71. • Deiseach says: Okay, I know this is some generic versus brand name thing, but honest to God: The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of modafinil is around$35.04, 95% off the average retail price of $816.41. America, your systems are broken. This is not sane pricing differences. Sane pricing is “it’s as much as €100 cheaper for car insurance if you shop around” or “I got it €50 off in a sale”. Not “it would have cost me$800 if I went with version A but I got version B which only cost $35”. • Urstoff says: No one pays the “average retail price”; I’m not even sure what purpose the retail price serves. Insurance companies negotiate lower rates, and individual consumers use discount/co-pay cards. I have a medicine that would normally cost$1200 a month and instead I pay $5 because the manufacturer gives me a co-pay card. I presume this is because that$1200 is over and above what the insurance company pays, and they’d rather have what the insurance company pays rather than nothing at all.

• Deiseach says:

Urstoff, that still makes no sense.

Imagine going into a greengrocers to buy an apple. At the till, you are told “That will be $300”. “What?” “Ah but if you have our loyalty card it will only be$0.30!” “Yeah, but still – what?” “Well, our wholesalers negotiate it down to $3.00, then all our regular customers sign up for the loyalty card and we only charge them$0.30!” “But why can’t you just charge that in the first place?” “What, and wreck our perfectly functional system?”

• John Schilling says:

I didn’t check the last time I was in Ireland, but do hotels list their nominal rate on a placard inside the door like they do in the US? And if so, does anyone anywhere ever actually pay that price?

It profits sellers while not harming the normal range of buyers to have an unrealistically high “sticker price” in a number of cases. E.g., if theft of the item is common, it gets you maximum restitution and the thieves maximum sentences. If some of your customers are rich foreign tourists who don’t know better, they may pay full price. If some of your customers are the sort of people who won’t feel right unless they’ve haggled and negotiated a “bargain”, the sale ends up proceeding at the usual price but they feel better about it.

The people harmed being in the first case thieves, in the second case rich foreign tourists, and in the third case no one at all, I’m guessing there won’t be much support for any demand that these practices go away.

• Jiro says:

If some of your customers are the sort of people who won’t feel right unless they’ve haggled and negotiated a “bargain”, the sale ends up proceeding at the usual price but they feel better about it.

And to customers who don’t feel good about it but recognize that they’re running as fast as they can to stay in the same place, this is just deadweight loss. Both parties are worse off than if there had been no fake price, no fake negotiation, and the ultimate price had been the same.

• John Schilling says:

In that specific transaction, both parties are no worse off. In the next transaction, the local merchant may be quite a bit better off and the rich foreign tourist may be a little bit worse off, iff the merchant posts an excessive sticker price that everybody local knows not to pay. The transaction after that, the local merchant is no worse off and the tourist who is proud of their haggling skills is a little bit better off.

I suspect you may be exaggerating the magnitude of the deadweight loss necessary to facilitate these local gains.

• Loquat says:

@Deiseach

I expect pharmacies are simply afflicted with the same cost syndrome we have in most other areas of health care that are usually covered by insurance – there’s a way high list price, different insurances negotiate that down different amounts, and almost everyone these days has insurance. So the provider definitely doesn’t want to lower their list price below the highest negotiated insurance price, and usually even wants to stay above that so that even the insurance company with the highest price can say they’ve negotiated a better deal for their customers. It’s an incredibly annoying system for the customer, I know.

• BBA says:

As I understand it, Quaker merchants gained a lot of business from their competitors by setting “fair” prices in advance when the norm was haggling down from an artificially high asking price over everything. The fact that they were successful enough to displace the norm and force their competitors to copy them indicates that enough people find it an irritating waste of time instead of “getting a good deal” or whatever.

Also, if the asking price is too high, the negotiation ends up like this, only without Murray. (Not now, Murray!)

• Urstoff says:

Deisach, no, it doesn’t make any sense, and the current health insurance system is supremely stupid. However, complaints about drug prices in most cases don’t reflect reality.

• Douglas Knight says:

You’ve been taking modafinil for a while, haven’t you? Has it really been costing $600/month? Have you been fighting with your insurance company? importing from India? • James Miller says: No. I tried it a few times several years ago. I remember it because much cheaper then. 19. It occurs to me that “Jews will not replace us” makes no sense except as a mishearing of “you will not replace us.” Insofar as people on the right are worried about being replaced, it’s being replaced by immigrants, especially Hispanic immigrants. That fits both conservative worries that immigration or legalization will produce more Democratic voters and claims from the left that whites will soon be a minority. The world population of Jews is only about fourteen million, almost half of them already in the U.S., so there is no way that anything short of an implausible mass conversion could result in Jews in Americans outnumbering non-Jewish whites. Is what is going on the media mishearing in order to fit the right wing anti-semitic stereotype, itself coming from the idea that right=Nazi=antisemite? Or is it members of the alt-right making the same mistake on their own behalf? At a slight tangent, I don’t think there is a consistent link between fascism and anti-semitism. Fascist Italy wasn’t very anti-semitic, despite pressure from its German ally, and I don’t think Spain was. Under the Italian rules, as I understand it, the restrictions on Jews did not apply to Jews with evidence of Italian patriotism, such as those who had fought in the Italian army in WWI. Checking a webbed account, I find “Indeed, Franco publicly denounced racism and antisemitism in Morocco during the Civil War and Jews served in his forces without official discrimination” along with some points in the other direction. • eyeballfrog says: I think the idea is that they’re claiming that mass immigration is being orchestrated by the Jews to replace white people. I’m a little unclear on whether the supposed motivation for this is anything beyond “Jews are just inherently evil.”. That was the impression I got from the alt-right discussions I’ve seen of this idea. • So your interpretation is that what the phrase means is “we will not let the Jews bring in non-white immigrants to replace us”? That makes more sense than “we will not let ourselves be replaced by Jews.” • Well... says: @eyeballpepe eyeballfrog: seconded. • dndnrsn says: It definitely was “Jews will not replace us” or possibly the singular. eyeball frog is correct in what the anti-Semites believe. This has been an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory trope since at least the late 19th/early 20th century (which appears to have been the period where anti-Jewish sentiment began to shift from a largely Christian-motivated, medieval-style, blame-for-the-death-of-Christ-and-blood-libel form to a biological, conspiracy-theory form). • skef says: The most likely explanation: “You will not replace us” was a signature phrase of the event, appearing in some of the advance materials on the organizers’ twitter account. That set it up to also be a chant at the event. Spontaneous variations on chants at demonstrations are very common, and obviously can’t be given much intellectual scrutiny in real time. So some participant — in awareness of a general if nebulous anti-Jewish sentiment that was also quite clear in the advance materials on the organizers’ twitter account — probably “offered” the alternative up to the crowd, and it was taken up. • ilikekittycat says: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n12sjwk9FBE You can clearly hear “JEWS” with the sibilants that would not be present for shouting YOU. There may have been one group that was trying to stay on track and say YOU will not replace us and another chanting JEWS, but the idea that no one at all was chanting JEWS is objectively disproven • Atlas says: It occurs to me that “Jews will not replace us” makes no sense except as a mishearing of “you will not replace us.” I agree that this seems to be a mishearing of the actual chant—at least, I’ve only seen it described as such in mainstream outlets like the New York Times that are antagonistic to white nationalists, and not quoted as a tagline/chant by any actual organizers or outlets affiliated with the march. (Which makes sense in that people who would chant “Jews will not replace us” would necessarily chant “you will not replace us”, but the converse is not necessarily true.) However, I think this misunderstanding is understandable, because the chant “Jews will not replace us” fits with the beliefs of many white nationalists: the demographic transition you mention above is (allegedly) driven by Jewish influence in media, education and government, and thus, while the influx of immigrants is not notably Jewish, its purported final political cause is the nefarious influence of Jews. Is what is going on the media mishearing in order to fit the right wing anti-semitic stereotype, itself coming from the idea that right=Nazi=antisemite? Or is it members of the alt-right making the same mistake on their own behalf? Another piece of evidence in favor of this hypothesis is that, while some liberal Jews today, like e.g. Matt Yglesias, identify the CSA (and identity politics in the white South more generally) as a symbol of blood-and-soil nationalism that is thought to be Bad For the Jews, in actual history the CSA was not anti-Semitic toward the relatively few Jews who lived in the South, as Judah Benjamin’s appointment as Secretary of State suggests. (And more generally, while I would want to get some more solid evidence, my impression is that white Christian Southerners have generally been indifferent to/favorably disposed towards Jews on the whole, or at least much less anti-Semitic than one would predict on the basis of the traditionalism/nationalism=anti-Semitism theory.) The historical relationship between Jews and nationalism seems to have been quite complicated, contra both the views of anti-Semites and some left-leaning Jews, however, or at least that’s what I’m learning from the book Esau’s Tears. • registrationisdumb says: Having watched a livestream, the audio was fuzzy, but it sounded like one of the crowds was alternating chanting the two, with maybe 25% of the people saying Jews or something similar rhyming with you and ending with an ‘S’. As to why, it’s hard to say. From browsing /pol/, who seem to be the most antisemetic community I can think of, approximately 0 of them were at the rally to confirm or deny. Their theory seems to be that since the FBI (or CIA I can’t remember), have plants in both the antifa and “alt-right” (they claim Mike Peinovich and Richard Spencer are govt plants) side of things, these were actors or plants of some sort. While it does seem possible, I have 0 basis for judging whether there’s any reason to believe them or any of the more mundane explanations like people are offering here. Like, it seems incredibly stupid for me to believe this, but believing any of the other explanations also seem incredibly stupid. And even if any one explanation i’ve seen including theirs is anywhere close to correct, it’s probably also 90% wrong. • Anon. says: If you look at that Oregon wildlife refuge occupation from last year, out of ~40 people, 9 were FBI “informants”. And that was a tiny group in the middle of nowhere that nobody had heard of. I would be astounded if antifa/alt-right groups were not crawling with feds. • Montfort says: It’s not that 9 of 40 just happened to be informants, the FBI deliberately sent in 9 informants after the occupation began (according to the linked wiki article). So all that means is that there were at least 9 informants who could plausibly be accepted by the occupiers and were available for FBI use at the time. I don’t think Bundy was really checking for membership in any movement, and probably welcomed any volunteer who seemed sincere (though I don’t have specific information on this point). There were probably more than nine informants in Charlottesville just because the event was much bigger and easy to attend. But I don’t think the FBI would have exerted the same level of effort to get informants in as they did in Oregon, since the rally was legal and didn’t pose a threat of a Waco-type situation. I expect antifa/alt-right groups aren’t crawling with feds in the sense of agents, since it would be a lot cheaper just to subvert some of their members than embed an agent. But they serve a similar purpose, in the end. • Iain says: “Jews will not replace us” might not make sense, but it is incontrovertibly what the marchers in Charlottesville were chanting. See, for example, the Vice documentary (link should go to the right time in the video). They’re not subtle about their antisemitism. For a couple more examples, see here and here (from the same documentary). • registrationisdumb says: even if you believe the Vice documentary was touched up or selectively cut, in live footage you can definitely hear an S sound in the chant that would indicate a not insignificant portion of them were saying “jews.” • Certainly sounds like it, which leaves the question of what they mean by it. • ilikekittycat says: “The program of white genocide by which the Zionist overlords enact open borders and reduce white birthrates will not succeed” • HeelBearCub says: “We hate Jews” Do you really require it to make actual, rational, logical sense? The narrative of a tribe against the outgroup as always, simultaneously, “We are so much better than the outgroup. We will easily crush them!” And “The outgroup is an existential risk to us. We must crush them now while we have any chance.” 20. rlms says: Nancy Lebovitz’s comment “Abolishing Islam is more practical than abolishing men, but not enough more practical” reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to ask for a while. Given that men are responsible for a hugely disproportional amount of the world’s violence, and violence is bad, should we try to abolish men? Obviously, genocidal campaigns are also bad. But there are other possibilities. For instance, we could try to isolate the biological factors that cause men to be so violent (testosterone seems like it could be a big one) and try non-coercive methods (pay people to take antiandrogens, or in the near future directly alter genetics). Other than side effects from current medical technology, are there good arguments against this? (Yes, but I’d like to hear and discuss them.) • James Miller says: We could also alter women so that they find violent men disgusting. This would do wonders to reduce male violence. • rlms says: True, but I think that’s less tractable (Society Is Fixed Biology Is Mutable). Altering women — and men for that matter — to find violence abhorrent is more complicated than just altering men to be more like women; we don’t have a clearly biologically defined population of “people who abhor violence”. • Nancy Lebovitz says: “We could also alter women so that they find violent men disgusting. This would do wonders to reduce male violence.” Assuming that such is possible, they should also be altered to find non-violent men more attractive. I do wonder what world you’re living in, though. I know a lot of married men (with children, even), and they aren’t especially violent. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they had violent pasts. • Barely matters says: Man, how many times have we seen this exact argument play out where someone points out women being in aggregate attracted to antisocial traits, and the first line of defense is a women denying it based on anecdotes about people she knows? Trying to knock down the straw statement ‘all women are attracted to violence and only violence and no women are attracted to nonviolent men’ by giving counterexamples convinces exactly no one, an is the limit of what this line of argument can demonstrate. Given that everyone here who is paying attention, from the random commenters to Scott himself, have noticed the trend of antisocial bruisers being rewarded, and meek prosocial others being ignored, you’re pissing into the wind. As much as I think the idea of women ceasing to reward antisocial behaviour is unworkable because women as a group flat out won’t do it, it would be really nice if we could stop trying to deny that this dynamic is a significant part of the equation. • . says: Agree that anecdote is not very strong but the opinion of “everyone here who is paying attention” is useless (and note that Nancy is in fact here). Particularly since the model is so ill-defined that I’m not even sure what we’re talking about. Everyone in their right mind is attracted to agentic people, as friends, co-workers, you name it, but the signals of evil people and agentic people may be similar. And evil people might be so rare, and agentic people so valuable, that it might be rational to pursue people who give off these signals. Would this count as an explanation? • INH5 says: Personally, the explanation that I favor is, as Ozy puts it, “sluts are evil.” That is, a bunch of studies find that people with more antisocial traits tend to show a greater desire for sex with many partners, and naturally people with a greater desire for X will put more effort into achieving X and be more likely to succeed at it than people with a lesser desire for X. Or as someone on Reddit put it: As a general rule, any activity that has a reputation for being unattractive to women will be full of men who, you guessed it, don’t optimize their lives for being attractive to women. If I was to draw a probabilistic causal diagram, there would be a doesn’t optimize for being attractive to women node which increases the probability of invests a lot of time and money in Magic the Gathering and goes in to computer programming because it’s fascinating stuff who gives a shit about stereotypes and doesn’t shave regularly and wears clothes that don’t fit. Keep in mind that it’s not at all uncommon for a single heterosexual man to go out to parties in order to meet women every single weekend. From the perspective of a geek like me, that is a massive time sink. If you’re a geek, and you aren’t investing at least 10 hours of your week in meeting girls, that seems like a sufficient explanation right there for why you are single. • Matt C says: I didn’t think it was an anecdote as much as an appeal to common experience. Which my experience agrees with–women swooning for violent men may be a thing but it is not the normal thing. • Barely matters says: @ . The model only becomes incomprehensible once you use the term ‘evil’, which is the poorly defined part. If I were to try to state it with maximum specificity, it would be “Women are attracted to men who exercise power over others, especially when this benefits the man at the expense of another person or society as a whole.”, of which, violence is a particularly salient and unambiguous subcategory. Those men are often at the very top of their game. This in and of itself is fine, and even rational on the surface level, as successful violence is hard evidence of competence and often well correlated to personal success. However, when one at the same time wants to see themselves as doing good for the world and fighting for the plight of the weak and disempowered (Often self-servingly when one would be the beneficiary of said fight), this rewarding of the very opposite qualities throws a huge wrench into the plan. Even worse if one actually does want both to make the world better, and fuck men who happen to make the world worse for their own benefit. At that point the only way not to have to choose between one of those goals is to fuck those men while remaining carefully oblivious to their role in facilitating and encouraging others to better themselves at the expense of everyone else. So the objection here isn’t that women are wrong to be attracted to violent men, it’s that they are dishonest in doing so and denying it, especially when coupled with decrying said violence in others while reinforcing it with their own selection. Even if you don’t believe this is the case, are we in agreement that IF women were personally selecting for violent and antisocial men, this would increase the frequency of such men to whatever degree that men as a group are interested in sex? I feel like even getting this agreement explicitly would be a massive step towards honestly assessing the roots of some serious problems we have in modern society. @INH5 All due respect, Ozy’s research is powered by so much motivated reasoning and shoddy construction as to be worse than useless. That said, even accepting your point with absolutely maximum charity, this would indicate that women are at very least not opposed to sleeping with holders of those antisocial traits. Unless you think this extra interest provides so much of a boost to one’s attractiveness that it overrides any attractiveness downside that we would expect from say, a being serial domestic abuser, known bully, or convicted murderer. As Scott has pointed out, these guys don’t have much trouble dating, marrying, and having kids, and I don’t think that can be adequately explained by “They just want it that much more!”. • INH5 says: @Barely matters: I find it extremely plausible that there are women who will date men with horrible personalities because they find them attractive. There are, after all, plenty of men who will date women with horrible personalities because they find them attractive. It would hardly be surprising to learn that women can be equally shallow. See also the psychology literature on the Halo Effect and similar things. Regarding the hypocrisy of “women” saying that they fight for the weak and disempowered but “rewarding” men who oppress the weak and disempowered: have you ever considered the possibility that the internet feminists who criticize “toxic masculinity” and the women who have sex with antisocial men are different people? And if you want to say that they are still hypocrites because they don’t criticize other women for their poor romantic/sexual choices, how much time do you spend criticizing men who refuse to date fat women with good personalities? • Deiseach says: Hm – let me see if I got this right: “I’m a Nice Guy and I can’t get a date but Bonehead Bill has all the women he wants” – not anecdote, but “trend noticed by everyone paying attention” and therefore Proper Scientific Conclusion “I know lots of women who like nice guys not bruisers” – not Scientific Trend, merely anecdote by women denying Real Proper Scientific Trend because pffft, women so emotional and defensive when men point out their irrational behaviour to them! Barely matters, you are making me more and more glad I never wanted to date anyone ever. Can we get some real data on “women being in aggregate attracted to antisocial traits” and not merely “me and my pals say women won’t swipe right on our OKCupid profiles”? I mean, it’d be easy for me to say that “Via my work, I have noticed that men in aggregrate are attracted to slappers” but that doesn’t make it data, it just makes it an anecdote. Look, in my experience, the kind of women who are attracted to violent men are, er, the kind of women who are attracted to violent men, and that is not women who have a lot of attractiveness or resources but do have a hell of a lot of baggage themselves. If you want to date that kind of woman, the only advantage I can see there is that she’s easy (if I were a man, or lesbian, I sure wouldn’t want to date them even for a one night stand). If on the other hand you are saying “the nice girls of my own class and educational attainment are all dating the greasy bikers” yeah, well, I can’t opine on that because I don’t see it but maybe you do. • Deiseach says: The above being said, sometimes yes, nice girls end up with bad boys, but it’s often by accident. Again, only an anecdote, but I knew a nice girl who was at risk of this; she had her own problems, was a single parent, and was so desperate to find a boyfriend again that she lowered her standards, with the following result: she comes in on Thursday and tells us about her abortive date where “He rang me while I was on the way to meet him to say he’d be late because he had to stop for a fight”. General reaction of the rest of us*: You did NOT meet him She: No, I went straight back home and turned off my phone so he couldn’t call me Us: Good girl (*and two of us were from Limerick which as Scott will confirm rejoices in the soubriquet Stab City, one from one of the bad parts of the city – though she did grow up there just before it turned into the bad part). By your “trend of antisocial bruisers being rewarded, and meek prosocial others being ignored”, she should have been delighted with her man’s show of prowess and we should have been encouraging her to take him on. Nope, not how it turned out. She wanted a nice guy but they’re tough to find when you’re in a certain socio-economic class! • The Nybbler says: Deisach, a search for [women attracted to dark triad] pulls up plenty. Although a fair bit of it assumes the attraction as fact. Here’s one which doesn’t: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273809664_The_Dark_Triad_personality_Attractiveness_to_women The effect isn’t at at all subtle: “A t-test showed the high DT character was rated as significantly more attractive than the control character (t126= 5.40, p< .001, d = 0.94)" • . says: Re ‘evil’: I actually think this is better-defined than ‘anti-social’ (though there may be a social psych definition of the second one that I just don’t know about). are we in agreement that IF women were personally selecting for violent and antisocial men, this would increase the frequency of such men to whatever degree that men as a group are interested in sex? Definitely. I would qualify that we ourselves are the product of natural selection, so whatever level of aggression is selected for is probably the level that looks normal to us. (And to be fair I’m an angry bastard, which seems maladaptive unless there is some mechanism like the one you describe going on.) • Nancy Lebovitz says: Just as general points, the claim that women prefer violent men shows a woeful failure to quantify. What proportion of women? How violent? It is certainly the case that there are many violent men who are good at attracting women, although at least some of them start by pretending not to be violent– unless you assume that women are very good at detecting hidden violent tendencies, this might be a hint that many women actually don’t like violent men. It’s equally certain that a lot of men who aren’t violent have trouble attracting women. However, I wonder how many of them look at the people they know and ask “How many of the men who attract women aren’t violent?”. Have a couple of theories: One is that at least some of the violent men who are attracting women have both parties playing their sex roles hard. He’s conspicuous. So is she– being a beautiful woman takes both the right body type and a good bit of self-display. So, they’re people who it’s easy to notice and remember. The couples who are just kind of reasonable, moderate people who put socially normal amounts of effort into their self-presentation don’t get noticed as easily. Here’s mere theory, and yet emotionally raw. Maybe the people who form those horrible relationships– or lack of relationships– have parents who are bad at relationships. As a loyal reader of ssc, I am obliged to mention that there might be a genetic component. However, it might also be that people who get imprinted on the relationship(s) they grew up with don’t have a system 1 ability to imagine an affectionate, respectful relationship. Unless they’re lucky and/or get good therapy and/or have later-in-life inspiration, they’re going to have trouble with relationships. • Nancy Lebovitz says: The Nybbler: That study is vague and hypothetical. Women are asked which personality profiles they find more attractive. However, what does attractive mean? Someone they’d have sex with? Seek a long-term relationship with? Fantasy fodder? I’ve gotten very picky about whether studies are about what people actually do (this is expensive to find out) or what people say they’d do (much cheaper). • The Nybbler says: @Nancy Lebovitz Quantifying is hard without doing actual studies (which have been done). But it’s not a subtle effect, so it can be seen qualitatively. If we consider four extremes: 1) extremely aggressive men who can’t find women to be with them even short term 2) extremely aggressive men who have no problem finding women to be with them at least short term 3) extremely unaggressive men who can’t find women to be with them even short term 4) extremely unaggressive men who have no problem finding women to be with them at least short term we can see that Category 1 is the null set, category 2 is quite large, category 3 is quite large, and category 4 is quite small. Of course most men are at neither extreme. • Deiseach says: Okay, Nybbler, thanks for doing that and providing some data. Let’s look at what that study says: (1) It is proposed that the Dark Triad characteristics are evolutionarily adaptive for males in regard to short-term mating, and that since short-term mating is more risky for females than males, these characteristics are therefore attractive to women. Bit of a circular argument there (“we propose attractive characteristics are attractive”) but let’s not get too picky from the start. We’ll grant the assumption – these characteristics are attractive – and go on from there. (2) “In short-term contexts, women (like men) place a high value on facial and bodily attractiveness (e.g. Van Dongen & Gangestad, 2011), and evidence suggests the DT and its constituent traits are associated with higher physical attractiveness” Well, good golly Miss Molly, you are telling me guys with the Dark Triad (honestly, I feel I should be typing that in one of those metal fonts with spiky, blood-red dripping lettering) are good-looking in a stereotypically attractive manner and that women like stereotypically good-looking guys over less good-looking guys? Hold the front page! Has anyone perchance done a study to examine if large-bosomed blonde young women are considered more attractive to men? Y’know, I’m only in to the third paragraph of the introduction so far and already I think there may possibly be a clue as to why oh why do nice girls like bad boys there? FOR THE SAME REASON NICE BOYS LIKE CUTE BLONDES, GUYS, AND IT AIN’T NECESSARILY FOR THEIR PERSONALITIES! (3) “Campbell and Foster (2002) report that male narcissists groom and advertise wealth and resource provision in a manner attractive to women (Vazire, Naumann, Rentfrow, & Gosling, 2008).” “Machiavellianism is associated with social manipulation and opportunism, both beneficial to the pursuit of short-term mating.” “Psychopathy is further associated with superficial charm, and a deceitful and sexually-exploitative interpersonal style (Paulhus & Williams, 2002).” Well hold me up, Percy, do you mean to tell me that Dark Triad males (insert power-metal kerranng! chord here) do not start off by telling women “I’m gonna treat ya bad, maybe even beat ya up and for sure steal your money and run around on ya” but they present themselves as attractive and appealing, they lie, deceive and manipulate like low-down dirty skunks, and they probably are well-practiced at using charm and other strategies to disarm in order to persuade women into short-term flings and “just a bit of fun”? This flies in the face of everything the nice boys told me, that women preferentially and knowingly choose violent cheating abusive rats in the full knowledge that the bad boys ain’t no good! (4) “Two self-descriptions were generated to represent high DT and control men. The high DT self-description contained manifestations of the trait descriptors that comprise Jonason & Webster, 2010 ‘Dirty Dozen’ measure (a desire for attention, admiration, favours, and prestige; the manipulation, exploitation, deceit and flattery of others; a lack of remorse, morality concerns and sensitivity, and cynicism).” They talk about the two character descriptions but give no example of the actual wording, which is frustrating, because wording choice is going to be very important – did they present the Dark Triad male self-description as “I’m a selfish bastard who cares about nobody other than myself” or “I make my own decisions and I don’t let myself be hobbled by other people’s opinions of what I should do”? One sounds more like a free-spirited, independent thinker than the other, even if they both come down to the same thing. Anyway, given that the Selfish Bastard does indeed seem to have been more appealing, the fact remains that (a) the women did judge them as lacking in good traits and (b) this was possibly all in the context of “would bang for a one-night stand, would not marry”, as the researchers themselves admit is likely: “All three components have repeatedly been found to correlate negatively with self-reported Agreeableness (e.g. Jonason et al., 2009); in the present study, women rated the DT individual as less Agreeable than the control character. While this may seem to mitigate attractiveness, low Agreeableness has been found to correlate with higher levels of casual sex for both men and women (Trapnell & Meston, 1996)” “We acknowledge limitations in the present study. Participants were all undergraduate students, a youthful population more short-term in their relationship orientation. We have assumed that the current sample viewed our characters with a primarily short term perspective, but this conclusion should be supported by follow-up work. Replication with a community sample would be valuable, as would assessment of the characters’ appeal as short versus long-term mates. We did not enquire whether our participants were currently engaged in relationships, nor did we assess their sociosexual orientation. These and other variables associated with the status of respondent could be usefully pursued in future work. Women low in Agreeableness are more likely to engage in casual sex than Agreeable women (Trapnell & Meston, 1996), and may recognise – and find attractive – DT men. The menstrual cycle may also increase the attractiveness of DT individuals, given its documented effect on the short-term mating preferences of women (e.g. Gangestad, Garver-Apgar, Simpson, & Cousins, 2007).” So basically – young women out on the pull on Friday night are more likely to find a good-looking, charming guy who knows how to chat them up by a mixture of flattery, cajolery and humour a better choice for a bit of fun slap and tickle than the average joe. Also, women answering a questionnaire about “which of the fictitious choices do you find more attractive?” do indeed go for the Bad Boy*, but that is not to say they would make the same choice if faced with real, live, in the flesh samples before them. Especially if we are talking “long-term relationship, possible marriage and kids versus short-term fling, fun but not reliable”. tl;dr – women are people too, so they behave like people, and when out for some fun without commitment they prefer good-looking charming guys who seem like they’ll be exciting and a good time in the short term. *Look – Fedya Dolokhov in the recent BBC adaptation of War and Peace? Woof! Real life? Run away as far and as fast as your little legs will carry you! Nice Guy character you want to settle down with, marry, and have four bouncing babies with? Denisov (also woof! but in a different way, total sweetheart, knows how to take “no” for an answer without whining about how come she likes the other guy more than him and can dance the mazurka leaving you breathless afterwards). • Aapje says: @Nancy Lebovitz It is certainly the case that there are many violent men who are good at attracting women, although at least some of them start by pretending not to be violent– unless you assume that women are very good at detecting hidden violent tendencies, this might be a hint that many women actually don’t like violent men. Common sense would be that aggressiveness is like just about every other trait: people desire a certain level of aggressiveness in their partner, not too little, not too much. Presumably female desire for male aggressiveness is a normal distribution centered around a certain point X. A man who is more aggressive than X normally would benefit on average from pretending to be less aggressive (or changing himself permanently), while a man who is less aggressive than X normally would benefit on average from pretending to be more aggressive (or changing himself permanently). Male desire for female aggressiveness is presumably a normal distribution centered around a certain point Y. I would argue that if X > Y, then women prefer more aggressive men compared to what men prefer in women. However, it actually seems more complicated than this, as research has found that boys engage more in physical and verbal aggression, while girls engage more in relational aggression. A large quantity of bullying research shows the same. This study found that “dating popularity was positively correlated with popularity, social preference, and overt and relational aggression.” If you look at table 1, you see that relational aggression was more strongly correlated with dating popularity in girls than in boys & overt aggression was more strongly correlated with dating popularity in boys than in girls. • Barely matters says: I have to laugh at the predictable default response that in even mentioning this dynamic I must be in the camp of “me and my pals say women won’t swipe right on our OKCupid profiles”, being that I am firmly within the group who has learned to use controlled violence and antisocial signaling to attract women, and can do so at a level that is sufficient to earn a salary. In short, I’m one of the group who has explicitly thought about it and said “So I need to be brutal? Alright then, I’ll be brutal.”, and have been single for almost a week over the past decade, while dating and sleeping with the sorts of women that most commenters here fap wistfully to. What part of anything I’ve written gives anyone the idea that I’m anything close to ‘nice’? Further comedy, within the last year and a half, I’ve dated and broke up with one of the most vocally hardcore ‘toxic masculinity’ feminists I’ve ever known. So, I mean, tell me more about how they’re not the same people. I don’t think there can exist data that would satisfy you here. @INH5 how much time do you spend criticizing men? Arguably even more than I criticize women here. Men don’t get a pass for enabling shitty behaviour here either. It’s been less than two days since the last time I told a friend “Have some goddamn self respect, this girl is treating you like shit in the same way she did her ex boyfriend when you two got together and you’re just letting her do it.”. I find it weird to equate fat with prosocial behaviour, being that one is sum positive utility and the other is the exact opposite. Unless you’re trying to smuggle in that prosocially minded men are boring or lame by default without having to actually say it. Which would kinda demonstrate the dynamic I’m talking about pretty succinctly, if that’s what you were doing. @ . Could work if I knew what we mean by evil here. I think Antisocial can be clearly defined here in utilitarian terms as ‘produces net negative utility’, which is why I use it interchangeably with ‘net negative sum competition’. I really appreciate that at least somebody is willing to step up and say “Yeah, if this is the case, it’s facilitating a lot of bad shit in modern society” rather than hedging. I feel like this would be completely uncontroversial if I were saying something like ‘people who protest DeBeers while wearing their diamonds are facilitating the behavior they are vocally against’. I’m also sure a half dozen other examples of this dynamic easily spring to mind. I largely agree with your point about natural selection, with the caveat that we are currently a species who are trying to do better than our history. Our ancestors won by conquest, rape, tribalism, later nationalism, and generally murdering men who don’t look like us, while keeping their wives and daughters as fuck slaves. Cutting that out is a large portion of the modern social project, with which we’ve seen a great deal of success and commensurate rewards of stability and relative peace that come with it. At this point, I’m asking that women get on board with making these improvements, rather than just advocating everyone else do it while individually maximizing their own self interest. Exactly the same thing I ask of men who try to free ride. Be the change you want to see in the world, reward the change you want to see in the world. • Deiseach says: I am firmly within the group who has learned to use controlled violence and antisocial signaling to attract women Well, if you say so Barely, then I guess I must believe you. I mean, it’s not like you never mentioned any of this or provided anything more than “trends say” versus “women only have anecdotes”. But sure, I won’t doubt a word you write, I mean I don’t want any aggro from an ex-Navy SEAL, do I? • Barely matters says: @Deiseach Cool, so what do we do now? Throw down some pictures and have a pose-down? Or just throw up our hands and say “Well I guess we’ll never know!” Nice double bind though. Not much space between “Angry nice guy” and “Ex navy seal meme” when it comes to talking on the internet, is there? • Deiseach says: a 30 something sex worker who has made somewhat of a career from this game, versus that of a post-menopausal, obese, asexual, office clerk OOOoohhhh talk dirty to me baby, you’re getting momma so hot! It’s true, it’s true: I want a dirty bad boy to treat me mean!!! Yes, with sweet talk like that, I can see how you get women to pay for the pleasure of your company. I think Nybbler’s study could be onto something here, by George! Barely, if I believe you, you have admitted to being a lying, deceitful, manipulative scumbag. Now, you tell me: why should I then believe such a person when they tell me about how they’re livin’ the high life? • Barely matters says: Barely, if I believe you, you have admitted to being a lying, deceitful, manipulative scumbag. So, from here we’ve established that disagreeing with you gets one labeled a frustrated nice guy. Denying that gets one labeled an overcompensating edgelord. Stating virtue credentials categorizes one as a nice guy, and copping to not doing so leads to the description in the preceding quote. So, I think it’s clear to everyone reading at this point that this is a fully general status based counterargument. Good luck with that one! You personally don’t have to believe it because none of this pertains to you. Anyone else reading who does happen to be in the thick of things, if Deiseach’s experience resonates with you better, I fully encourage you to follow her recommendations. Let me know how it works out! • The Nybbler says: Deisach, I’m fairly sure Barely Matters has mentioned being a sex worker in previous threads in other contexts, so you’re being extremely uncharitable by suggesting he’s making it up for cred in this discussion. • INH5 says: @Aapje: This study found that “dating popularity was positively correlated with popularity, social preference, and overt and relational aggression.” If you look at table 1, you see that relational aggression was more strongly correlated with dating popularity in girls than in boys & overt aggression was more strongly correlated with dating popularity in boys than in girls. It’s actually more complicated that than. According to the discussion, relational aggression increases dating popularity for both genders. However, if I’m reading the discussion and the top graph on page 690 right, after you control for general popularity, overt aggression among boys doesn’t seem to have any significant effect on their dating popularity. Specifically, it slightly decreases the dating popularity of both unpopular and popular boys to a degree that I’m sure is not statistically significant. With girls, however, the effect depends on their general popularity: popular girls get significantly more dating popularity if they are more overtly aggressive, while unpopular girls get less dating popularity if they are more overtly aggressive. This is a very strange result and I have no idea how to interpret it. • Aapje says: @INH5 I thought it might be an artifact of the questions asked. Their ‘overt aggression’ seems to be more like (routine) physical bullying than asserting physical dominance. The paper argues that popular and popular girls may use violence differently. Perhaps the popular girls only use violence against girls who are less sensitive or insensitive to relational aggression, while those bullied girls have no other tool but overt aggression, which is then status lowering if used routinely, instead of as a last resort. However, the study doesn’t have any evidence to prove or disprove this. • random832 says: @Deiseach OOOoohhhh talk dirty to me baby, you’re getting momma so hot! It’s true, it’s true: I want a dirty bad boy to treat me mean!!! @Barely matters I fully encourage you to follow her recommendations. Let me know how it works out! Based on my observations of the local norms of this community, I suspect we’ve reached the point in the discussion where other uninvolved commenters are meant to say “less of this, please.” • Barely matters says: @Random832 Less of this, please Copy that. (Also: Good god! That first quote is not what I was facetiously recommending. I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing in that quote.) • random832 says: (Also: Oh god! That first quote is not what I was facetiously recommending.) I didn’t intend to suggest it was, I simply quoted, separately, what jumped out at me as the ‘worst’ things from each of you. (Both of which were dripping with sarcasm anyway, so maybe out of context quotes weren’t the best idea) • Barely matters says: @Deiseach I’m trying to put this delicately, despite the level of snark coming from your end. But with respect to weight of anecdote, there is a lot of difference in comparing the experiences of a 30 something sex worker who has made somewhat of a career from this game, versus that of a post-menopausal, obese, asexual, office clerk who has not. I mean, I could try to contradict Scott on matters pertaining to psychiatry based on my experiences around the office water cooler (Or Bean on naval history, or Friedman on economics, or Schilling on rocketry, or for that matter you on the intricacies of Christianity), but even I’m not that arrogant. Maybe turn down the snark in areas outside your field of expertise. One could argue that my experience is also not relevant to the average poster here, to which I would say that mine is only relevant to the degree that I am able to get something they want. I know it’s fun to talk on the internet and decide that any gaps in knowledge default to your position, safe in knowing that no ethics board would accept an experiment wherein a group of men was instructed to verbally or physically abuse their partners in order to test their efficacy against a control group. It’s also especially easy when you have absolutely no skin in the game. I think Nancy’s concessions in this thread are about as good as one can expect on the topic. Going from “This doesn’t happen!” to “Ok, maybe it happens sometimes, but they probably had bad role models and parents and not enough therapy, and they probably only mean like casual sex, and even if they report it on surveys it doesn’t necessarily mean they actually do it in reality and…” is progress in my book. • Deiseach says: Or you could admit: women like sex just like men like sex, and for fun and non-commitment, they like slightly off the straight and narrow people. You claim to be a sex worker. Okay, so women who can afford it pay for your services. Do any of them consider you a proper/long-term/real relationship boyfriend, someone as a potential marriage partner? Or as “yeah I get to have fun when I want it and don’t need to put work into maintaining a relationship and can end it when I want it” professional association? And that’s the crux of what we are arguing over here: side A says “women don’t want nice steady guys, they want bad boys” (sometimes with a side of “and when those bitches want to settle down, then they are interested in guys like me, so to hell with them!”) and side B says “not all women want that, some women certainly do and they break down into (i) women who have grown up in circumstances where the men around them – their fathers or more likely their mothers’ various partners, their brothers, the boys at school, the boys they end up going out with, etc. – behave like that and are socialised like that, and (ii) women who are indulging in a fling, a thrill, a ‘dangerous liaison’ but not intending a long-term relationship because they know the guy is definitely not marriage material. And sometimes, admittedly, (iii) women who think they can reform the guy through The Power Of Love”. Side A rejoins that no, all women knowingly choose violent, manipulative criminal types over the nice, steady, respectful provider types. And round and round the argument goes and there is no end in sight. • Barely matters says: First off, let’s be clear as to what I’m saying here. A high enough proportion of women, especially at the most attractive end of the spectrum, tolerate and even privilege socially net negative behaviour including violence, bullying, abuse, theft, drug use, etc, in their criteria for selection of sexual partners. What I’m saying is that given two identical people (Or even the same person at different times), with the sole difference being one successfully demonstrates one or more of the above listed properties, that one will enjoy more success than his prosocial counterpart. What I’m saying is this “Side A” has done both, and women respond better to what I’d consider shitty behaviour if it were done to me. I learned this the hard way when my rent and food was at stake if I didn’t perform. And you can bet that over the years I’ve tested everything I can think of to see what works best (As not doing so would be leaving actual money on the table). At first I would be a colossal asshole to customers who I wished would go away, but noticed the exact opposite effect. A similar dynamic shows itself in Belle De Jour’s biography when she raises her prices hoping to reduce her workload. It turns out that her clients are using price as an indicator of quality, and business continues apace until she raises her price to truly ridiculous levels. As much as I wish this didn’t generalize to women outside the club, it absolutely does. Don’t take my word for it though, I encourage guys to test it out for themselves. Find a place you don’t often go to (Might want to move a town over if you’re really worried), and go out with the goal of actively pushing your jokes and banter too far. See if you can get slapped or have a drink poured onto you. It’s harder than you think. Once talking to someone, tell them that their humanities major is stupid and marks them as a complete waste of space. Tell them they can’t eat those fries, because they’ll go straight to their thighs and those cankles already look obscene. Tell them that someone needs to take them out back and spank them, because what they just said was profoundly retarded. When they get angry, laugh at the fact that they’ve missed the joke. In short, act the part of that pure, selfish, completely needless asshole for one night (Treat it like a stage performance if you need to, really get into the character with the intent of leaving it behind at the end of the act). You’ll be successful in pissing some people off, and at that point you’ll deserve it. But you’ll also learn that, for most of the people reading this, the point you thought was too far doesn’t even come close to how far you can push. You won’t get shot, or stabbed, or beaten up. I’d be surprised if you even managed to get slapped or had a drink thrown at you. Tell your friends that you took a bet from a guy you know online and that you’re trying to get slapped. Depending on your friends, many will think this is hilarious (If anyone does this and gets slapped successfully, I’ll send you 20$). The other thing you’ll start noticing is that once you can do this without flinching, it works even better with high quality women, because no one talks to them like that.

Deiseach, I’d prefer not to fight with you in general, because I like a lot of the other things you post, but you’re seriously out of your element here and you don’t know when to back down. Leading with the assertion that ‘women like sex just like men like sex’ really hammers that home.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

“A high enough proportion of women, especially at the most attractive end of the spectrum, tolerate and even privilege socially net negative behaviour including violence, bullying, abuse, theft, drug use, etc, in their criteria for selection of sexual partners.”

About how high of a proportion?

Also, what do you make of the “how I met my SO” anecdotes, which mostly consisted of instant compatibility?

• INH5 says:

@Barely matters: I think both sides of this discussion may be talking past each other.

I’m trying to figure out what you mean, exactly, when you say “anti-social behavior.” You start out saying:

A high enough proportion of women, especially at the most attractive end of the spectrum, tolerate and even privilege socially net negative behaviour including violence, bullying, abuse, theft, drug use, etc, in their criteria for selection of sexual partners.

But then later you say:

Once talking to someone, tell them that their humanities major is stupid and marks them as a complete waste of space. Tell them they can’t eat those fries, because they’ll go straight to their thighs and those cankles already look obscene. Tell them that someone needs to take them out back and spank them, because what they just said was profoundly retarded. When they get angry, laugh at the fact that they’ve missed the joke.

I could see how this behavior could fit the definition of bullying and maybe even abuse in some circumstances, but what does it have to do with violence, theft, or drug use? Sure, maybe this sort of behavior is more common among men who are violent, steal things, or use drugs, but it seems like something very similar could just as easily come from a perfectly peaceful and law-abiding person who happens to be participating in Radical Honesty.

And as to why this helps when trying to pick up attractive women, I think you answered it yourself:

The other thing you’ll start noticing is that once you can do this without flinching, it works even better with high quality women, because no one talks to them like that.

An attractive women is almost certainly going to assume that a man who approaches her in a bar and acts nice to her is trying to pick her up. Not doing that acts as counter-signalling.

It would support your point better if you claimed that going up to women and saying things like “I’m a heroin addict,” or “I’m a bank robber,” or “I’m a hitman for the mob” helps. I mean, assuming that statements like that would be taken seriously and not assumed to be jokes.

• Barely matters says:

@ Nancy

High enough to be relevant to anyone who is interested in sexual success. How could you even put a number on this? Is there an experimental design that would satisfy you?

I don’t see those anecdotes clashing with any of this at all, given that the partners of convicted criminals tell similar stories to the partners of doctors.

@INH5

That recommendation was restricted to small surface transgressions because I didn’t think it to be good advice to advise the readers here to go out and intentionally get into a fight, start carrying a gun, or start routinely carrying illegal drugs. This is training wheels level aggressive signaling.

Though you’d be hard pressed to find a drug dealer without an entourage of smoking hot women, and I’ve never known a bouncer who relishes every opportunity to knock heads against the curb who was hard up, if one isn’t already getting into fights, engaging in illegal activities like breaking and entering or dealing hard drugs, it certainly isn’t worth starting just for the sake of tail.

I’m well aware of why it works on this level with respect to radical honesty and differentiation, and this is where I prefer to hover as well, because appropriating the symbols of violent people in order to piggyback on their status is a lot safer than actually being illegally violent and thuggish.

Coincidentally, though it’s not my normal go to, you can get a lot of success with exactly the lines you’re proposing. Claiming to be a mob hitman or a bank robber is so over the top that they can’t be taken seriously, so they’re all easy to deliver (And probably more interesting in terms of light conversation than stating your real job).

“Actually, I just moved back into my parents’ basement. By the way, do you know anyone here I can score from?” is hilariously workable. From there you can either act seriously disappointed (“Well what good are you then!? I thought you knew people around here!”), or you chastise them for actually knowing someone who is holding (“Seriously?! Show me your arms! Are you retarded? Nobody does that anymore”).

I don’t think you could deliver these straight with the intent of being taken seriously if you tried. (And I highly recommend saying them.)

• Deiseach says:

random832, apologies. Here, have this nice picture of a basket of kittens to settle your stomach!

Nybbler, I missed any of that. If he has claimed it before in other contexts, okay, I will give credence to it.

Barely, don’t worry, the entertainment value of this entire thread is massive. Besides, aren’t you telling people that backing down is for wimps? I’m just applying the strategy! 🙂

women respond better to what I’d consider shitty behaviour if it were done to me. …In short, act the part of that pure, selfish, completely needless asshole for one night

Hmmm – this being your dating advice… let me scroll back in the comments a bit…what was it you said in regards to me?

a post-menopausal, obese, asexual, office clerk

You naughty nubbins, were you making eyes at me? For shame! I am old enough to be your mother! Smacked botty and straight to bed with no supper for bad little Barely!

Gentlemen, please do follow and implement his advice and report back here. I am on tenterhooks to see the results!

As to the studies on aggression, plainly I am the Spiders Georg of the female dating pool. I was not impressed, nor did I play the game, at seven years of age when the other girls screamed and ran from the boys who sharpened ice lolly sticks against the wall and ran at them yelling and waving them. I stood my ground because if Colm Montgomery tried sticking a sharpened wooden stick in me, he was smaller than me and I could beat him up*. And yes, I knew the other girls weren’t really scared, that’s not why they screamed and ran, it was all part of the game. Well, I’m a lot older than seven, and boys waving their lolly sticks still doesn’t impress me 🙂

*That being said, Gearóid Fitzgerald was bigger than me and I intimidated him into lending me his comics, so there you go! It’s entirely possible my whole problem here, Barely, is that I don’t think like a woman (stereotypically is supposed to think when it comes to this stuff), I think in some ways more like a man.

• Barely matters says:

Uh, Deiseach, you realize that when I stated you to be

a post-menopausal, obese, asexual, office clerk

I was doing so in the absolutely least insulting and inflammatory phrasing possible while still conveying how far away your experience is from being useful. The point is that the guys here might as well be taking dating advice from their grandmother. If anything I’ve said there is factually incorrect or irrelevant to the situation, feel free to enlighten me.

On the contrary

you have admitted to being a lying, deceitful, manipulative scumbag

Does not have nearly the same property.

I’m going say it outright here, the horny grandma act is really strange, and I’m not sure what you think you’re accomplishing by insinuating that your interlocutor is sexually interested in you. If you’re trying to deflect from the accuracy or relevance of the previous description, then I suppose mission accomplished, but I don’t think it’s doing you any favors otherwise.

In any event, congrats on successfully derailing the conversation.

• Deiseach says:

Oh, Barely. Juuuuust when I was going to leave it go.

What’s the matter, your routine never failed to work on a woman before? The negging always gets the results? And if you’re pay-to-play, as The Nybbler assures me is true from previous claims you have made, then you must have banged your share of horny grandmothers before – don’t be so coy! Though I do not think that you are sexually interested in me and the prospect is not at all appealing – by your own admission, you’re somewhat shopsoiled – but how does it feel when the boot is on the other foot, and all denials of interest are treated with – let’s see, what did you advise?

Tell them they can’t eat those fries, because they’ll go straight to their thighs and those cankles already look obscene. Tell them that someone needs to take them out back and spank them, because what they just said was profoundly retarded. When they get angry, laugh at the fact that they’ve missed the joke

Hint: what I am doing here is following that advice – I’m laughing at the fact that you have missed the joke, see?

You have said, and advised others, that the best results with women came when you were an asshole. You were insulting, hinted at being violent, treated them with disdain, lied and manipulated. You furthermore claim to be a sex worker using this technique to get and exploit the maximum return from clients. It’s a bit late to start drawing your skirts around your knees about your reputation.

Fact of the matter is that assholes (real or pretending to be) don’t impress me; women do – unlike your shrugging off the very notion – have sexual desires and furthermore being humans experience those desires in similar ways to the way men experience them, though I will grant you that they may not express them in the same way. Or what do you think your women clients are giving you money for – being insulted and put down? Granted, there is such a thing as humiliation kink but if that’s the kind of services you are providing then you should be upfront about it and be willing to accept that extrapolating from a sexual sub-category is about as useful as extrapolating that all men want to be spanked by nanny from the requests of the clientele of a dominatrix.

I don’t know if your advice to the lovelorn is any good. I would be extremely interested if any of the men here try it out and report back on their experiences.

And in case you are in any doubt, I am laughing at you, not with you, you big hung sexy stud who gets all the girls by throwing shapes like you might punch them and earns a tidy living by sneering putdowns at good-looking women or at least women who look like they have the money to spend on a gigolo!

(For a guy who says it’s all a technique, guys, and one that you have mastered, think of it as acting the part of an absolute bastard, you rise to the bait remarkably easily. After all, you’re the one trying to convince a fat, ugly, old bitch that you’re hot stuff and make your living this way).

• Barely matters says:

Dei, I’ve been broadcasting to the readers here who aren’t you, specifically speaking to the ones for whom these threads might actually matter, and pertain to real deficiencies in their lives. You’ll also notice that I’m not rising to your insults or getting weird and throwing them in return.

I can see that you’re hurt by this whole thing and are lashing out predictably, but doubling down is not helping your case.

I’m not trying to convince you personally of anything. I’m trying to relay my experience (the value of which can be decided the reader) to people who can make use of it. It would be fantastic if in future you would stop trying to make this about you.

• Deiseach says:

the ones for whom these threads might actually matter, and pertain to real deficiencies in their lives

If they follow your advice, they certainly will have deficiencies in their lives. Either they will have to pretend to be something they’re not, which will eventually trip them up, or they really will become as unpleasant as they act, which will eventually trip them up also.

Well, Barely, we’ve had a long chat about this and we are still standing on the sides of “man telling women what women want” (from my side) and “you haven’t my experience of getting women into the sack” (from your side). The informative thing will be if any of the guys on here take your advice, adopt the “I’m a genuine son of a bitch” style, and report back on their successes (and/or failures).

I remain devoutly thankful that nature, the universe or random genetic chance has meant I have never had any interest in or inclination to pursue this wading into the sewer* because it seems like an awful lot of bullshit to put up with for a momentary spasm of pleasure. Is this what Lord Chesterfield was alluding to, after all?

*Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop

I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
Those breasts are flat and fallen now
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty.’

Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul,’ I cried.
‘My friends are gone, but that’s a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart’s pride.

`A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.’

• Deiseach says:

I can see that you’re hurt by this whole thing and are lashing out predictably

Yes. So hurt. So terribly, terribly wounded. Flames! On the side of my face!

You can tell, can’t you Barely? Despite all my protestations to the contrary? You’re a sophisticated man of the world, suave and soigné, who has an an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents – ah, excuse me, I seem to be confusing you with another person, please forgive me.

Ah yes, let me recall once again those sweetly alluring terms in which you first directly addressed me and demonstrated your virile masculine superiority, let me assuage my woundedness once more with memories of your love-talk!

(T)here is a lot of difference in comparing the experiences of a 30 something sex worker who has made somewhat of a career from this game, versus that of a post-menopausal, obese, asexual, office clerk who has not.

How uncouth, how vicious of me to take your soft murmurings of “a sex worker who has made… a career from this game” (the game being that of “I am firmly within the group who has learned to use controlled violence and antisocial signaling to attract women”, advice to others to achieve success in this being “In short, act the part of that pure, selfish, completely needless asshole for one night”) and from there contrive the wicked and false insults that such would mean you admitted to lying and manipulation! No unbiased observer could draw such a conclusion from your statements!

But enough, ’tis too much, I must withdraw from the lists with my vanity rebuked for daring to break lances with a man in his prime, and must instead weep salt tears of bitter regret and envy in my cold, lonely bed.

It is only fitting.

• Barely matters says:

I’m most surprised at how specific a picture you’ve managed to extrapolate from The Nybbler mentioning that I’ve talked about my history of sex work before. The space between what I’ve actually written, and what you’ve built me into in your imagination, would be very charitably described as ‘protesting too much’.

• Barely matters says:

Anyhow, with that out of the way…

To go summarize the key points before Deiseach got her back up, starting from when James Miller pointed out that women not accepting violent men would do a lot to curb male violence:

1) James is completely correct here, and trying mightily to stop something while personally rewarding it is counter productive at best. We can bail water as fast as we want, until those leaks are patched the issue will persist.

2) Women not accepting violent and antisocial men is only half the broader picture here. Men aren’t off the hook either in rewarding bad behaviour, and I have equal chastisement ready for men who tolerate abusiveness, dishonesty, bullying, or violence in their partners.

3) As with virtually every other problem, don’t hate the artist; hate the fans. Any social problem that persists is a problem that is sustained by someone getting what they want from it. So if you don’t want it to continue, don’t let them profit from it.

4) It’s debatable whether women actually do tolerate or privilege violent men. I personally think it’s an extremely one sided debate, but we see no shortage of people willing to extremely passionately and emotionally argue that this doesn’t happen. Familiarize yourself with some of the research, look around and see what your experience tells you.

5) I personally, through experience from a career working first as a stripper, then moving on to doing porn for several years, believe that women (Especially very attractive women who have many competitive options to choose from) do personally reward the violent and brutal behaviour in men that they otherwise vocally condemn.

6) This is an obviously uncomfortable position to hold, and one that both has many repugnant conclusions, and is very likely to receive emotional pushback. Here it’s important to distinguish between something being effective (Like becoming a drug dealer or being abusive towards a woman with whom you have a sexual relationship), and something that is worth doing (I don’t think so, due to carrying significant risk of jail time or being shot, and because that’s fucking awful, respectively.)

7) Don’t take my word for any of this. Further, please, please, don’t take anyone’s word on this who is clearly unsuccessful. This is a field in which everyone considers themselves to be an expert. In the very next thread we have a well meaning but extremely autistic fellow trying to give advice, which turns out roughly as one would expect. In your own life, prioritize advice from people who achieve things you would like to achieve yourself. Grandma means well too, but she really doesn’t understand your perspective.

8) In service of not taking my, or anyone’s word, do go out and test ideas. Different people need different advice, and my read on this particular community is that most of us fall on the ‘too nice’ side of the spectrum. As a calibration exercise, I highly recommend that nice people go out and experiment with exactly how far they can push people before they are no longer ‘too nice’. Being too mean (Up to the point of causing someone tangible harm) is no worse for anyone than being too nice. Disregard people telling you that this will scar you for life and lock you into a path of lies and abuse. Try it for a day with a crowd that doesn’t matter, and if it gets terrible results for you, just stop doing it. You can even apologize if you feel you were really out of line and someone calls you on it. People having healthy boundaries is what we wish would happen in the first place, and those people should be actually rewarded.

9) Don’t talk about what you’re going to do, just do it. This is my throwaway account for discussing uncomfortable ideas. If you talk about this in public, you will be coded as an enemy and attacked completely independently from the strength of your argument. People, in this case especially women, and especially especially unattractive women, feel their identity being threatened by having this brought up at all. As seen in this thread, you’ll be called a frustrated nice guy, an edgy internet navy seal, any of hundreds of other names that some of you might be familiar with. And if those don’t stick, they’ll be happy to fill in the blanks from their imagination and attribute a host of other indictments as if they were fact. While people like Deiseach have razor tongues, they’re ultimately toothless. If you do say something that rings true enough to cut to the heart of their identity, intense several thousand word rants on why they don’t care and aren’t sexually interested in you (As if anyone asked in the first place), aren’t uncommon. These leave you no worse than you were before, and often people end up rolling themselves in the mud to spite you.

10) The goal of all this is to correct what looks from here to be a misalignment of goals and actions. If we really disapprove of a behaviour, then we’re wasting a lot of time chasing out collective tails by fighting it with one hand a rewarding it with the other. If we don’t actually disapprove of a behaviour, then I’d prefer if we could be collectively honest about it so that you high performing people trying to make the world better can optimize for the right things, instead of wasting some of the best talents of our age on a wild goose chase targeting something nobody actually wants.

• The Nybbler says:

Doing so would significantly drop rate of reproduction among the affected population. Even if you avoided any direct side effects, the non-violent men who resulted would not be attractive to most women.

• Mark says:

non-violent men who resulted would not be attractive to most women.

That doesn’t seem true to me. If you had a non-violent version of Brad Pitt (and Brad Pitt may well be non-violent for all we know) he would be unattractive to most women?

It’s a nice, spicy little meme, though.

• The Nybbler says:

That doesn’t seem true to me. If you had a non-violent version of Brad Pitt (and Brad Pitt may well be non-violent for all we know) he would be unattractive to most women?

They’d still find him physically attractive, but he’d fall into the category of “good looking but no spark”. Note that many of the characters he’s played have not been non-violent.

Also consider that by non-violent we’re not talking about men who don’t do violence, but men who are lacking the biological factors which make men violent; testosterone is the example in the OP. This is pretty close to being literally neutered.

• INH5 says:

Doing so would significantly drop rate of reproduction among the affected population. Even if you avoided any direct side effects, the non-violent men who resulted would not be attractive to most women.

Nowadays reproduction has is far more correlated with desire to have children than with sexual attraction, because contraception.

Even if you accept all of the Red Pill stuff at face value, you have to admit that in the current evolutionary race Alphas are getting their ass kicked by Betas who happen to be born into conservative/religious/rural subcultures and by Omegas who like donating to sperm banks.

• The Nybbler says:

Nowadays reproduction has is far more correlated with desire to have children than with sexual attraction, because contraception.

Yes, _now_ desire to have children is the limiting factor. I’m claiming removing the violent impulse from men would change that. And that’s if you avoided direct side effects, which you wouldn’t if you went after testosterone.

• INH5 says:

Yes, _now_ desire to have children is the limiting factor. I’m claiming removing the violent impulse from men would change that.

Why would it change that? Are you suggesting that, for example, Mormon women wouldn’t marry Mormon men and have children with them if the men in question weren’t violent? Because while I don’t know many Mormon women, I would be very surprised if “has a violent impulse” was high on their lists of desired qualities in a husband.

And that’s if you avoided direct side effects, which you wouldn’t if you went after testosterone.

Yes, going after testosterone directly would have all sorts of side effects, but I don’t think that’s particularly relevant to this discussion. rlms did, after all, say “Other than side effects from current medical technology, are there good arguments against this?” (emphasis added)

• Aapje says:

@INH5

How do you feel if ‘violent impulse’ is reframed as ‘willingness to protect’?

I have a feeling that there is a breakdown of communication here where some people define men with a violent nature as a continuum from ‘will investigate a scary noise’ to genocidal maniac, while others only consider very violent men as having a violent impulse.

• The Nybbler says:

Are you suggesting that, for example, Mormon women wouldn’t marry Mormon men and have children with them if the men in question weren’t violent?

I’m saying that if the men in question lacked a violent impulse, the women would mostly not be interested in them. (and vice-versa, but that counts as direct effect).

• registrationisdumb says:

First we should eliminate all predator animals to reduce the suffering of prey animals and see how that works out :^)

• anonymousskimmer says:

I disagree with this statement as an absolute. Some kinds of violence have redeeming qualities.

Most of those redeeming qualities could be otherwise had via 1) different biological/personal/social methods to generate satisfaction from anger (possibly through genetic engineering or chemical therapies), and 2) a genuine societal enforcement of fair play (basic consideration and basic respect).

• The original Mr. X says:

Other than the moral problems with dicking around with people’s genetics, a society of such people would be easy prey for any society (or even subset of their own society) whose men hadn’t been altered.

• rlms says:

If so, why aren’t women preyed upon by men?

• 1soru1 says:

> If so, why aren’t women preyed upon by men?

Yes, it is kind of mysterious how no man has ever done a bad thing to a woman in all of recorded history.

Or if they did, they were one or two isolated bad apples, well out of the cultural mainstream.

• rlms says:

I can definitely imagine someone who believes that male-female oppression is worse than non-gendered violence. I can’t imagine that someone hanging around here.

That is especially true if ignore sexual predation, since that is linked to sexuality and sex, not hormone balance.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

Should war be counted as male-female violence to some extent?

The vast majority of soldiers are men. Some fraction (probably half or more) of civilian casualties are women.

• Aapje says:

@Nancy,

That seems rather silly when the target is other men. War pretty always kills a lot more more men than women.

• keranih says:

@ Nancy –

half or more of civilian casualties are female

This is not supported by what I know of post-conflict population ratios in any war I’ve read on. In particular, in the USSR after WWII and the British upper class after WWI, there was an marked and society changing gender imbalance. The imbalance in other eras and conflicts can be difficult to tease out, given associated disease and starvation, population migration, and poly marriages, all of which can mask gender imbalances.

Another factor is the definition of “civilian” – depending on the culture and motivation of the classifier, this might be “all people (*) not in military uniform” or might be “females of any age, plus males not yet at puberty, assuming they are not associated with the government nor in the army’s train”.

Warfare – to include everything from cattle raids to industrialized meat grinders – has, in human history, been a male pursuit launched against other males. Women were frequently captured, raped, or killed outright, but the risk to a woman was much less than that to a man.

(*) the number of women as counted in military forces as combatants has always been a small fraction of men, but prior to the warfare reforms of the 17th century, camp followers were a much larger fraction of any army group.

• bean says:

The vast majority of soldiers are men. Some fraction (probably half or more) of civilian casualties are women.

Well, if civilian casualties are randomly distributed among the civilian population (how good of an assumption this is depends heavily on how those casualties happen), then yes, >50% will be women, simply because the male fraction of the civilian population has shrunk due to the men who are no longer civilians. But that’s almost tautological, and it’s fantastically rare that the civilian casualties are a higher percentage of the civilian population than the military casualties are as a percentage of the military population. So more men than women are going to die, and overwhelmingly more men are going to be intentionally killed as opposed to dying as a result of standing next to something that got blown up.

• rlms says:

@Nancy Lebovitz
The relevant categories here are violence that men commit against women because they are women (making some men feminine would approximately double the amount of this done by non-feminine men) and general male violence (making some men feminine reduces this to the female baseline for them). War definitely affects a lot of women, but for this argument it’s in the second category.

• rlms says:

@keranih
You may be right (although bean seems to disagree, and if most civilian casualties in modern wars come from bombing I would expect you to be wrong), but those examples don’t seem very good. There weren’t many civilian casualties in the British upper class in WWI — the imbalance surely comes from the male military casualties — and presumably almost all men in the USSR were conscripted in WWII, so the civilian population was largely female.

• keranih says:

@ rlms –

The ‘balance’ of civilian war deaths due to bombing depends on what was getting bombed. Most military forces aimed their weapons at ports, railroads, military depots, and factories – not at suburbs or housing districts. Not because they were decent men who didn’t make war on women, but because time was short and bombs were expensive, and there were a large number of enemy men in the ports, railroads, etc who needed shooting.

The 19th century rise of women in factories in war time impacted this, but this link shows that in Manchester during the blitz, the number of adult men killed outnumbered the adult women by about 20%. (And these were all civilians.)

There have got to be better numbers somewhere, but I don’t have them.

• The Nybbler says:

1) Women are less violent than men, but generally not non-violent.

2) Men, for various reasons, will defend women from other men

3) Most societies have strictures against men preying on women, enforced (in different ways) by men and by women. Sometimes more successfully than others

4) When all that fails, they are.

• hlynkacg says:

If so, why aren’t women preyed upon by men?

A good deal of ink from Aeschylus to Kipling has been spilled discussing this very topic. The TL/DR is that societies that encourage men to sacrifice themselves for “the greater good” tend to out compete ones that don’t.

• . says:

Surely not, you don’t need to be emotionally volatile to pull a trigger when it is in your considered interest to do so.

• The original Mr. X says:

Admittedly I’ve never been in battle, but my understanding is that, when the bullets start flying, emotional/morale factors are much more important in keeping men going than reasoned consideration of their interests.

• hlynkacg says:

No but it does help.

• Trofim_Lysenko says:

And if all acts of violence in war were self-defense, that would be fine, but that simply isn’t the case. Even in a theoretical situation where you the only war you ever fight is a defensive war, often the best defense is a good offense. The ability to drive home a spoiling attack or to raid the enemy aggressively.

And THAT requires both aggression and (to some extent) measured irrational disinterest in your own well-being. The safest place for any individual to be in a war is far away from the fighting. And if you ARE in the fighting, it’s far safer to stay behind cover than to attempt to more effectively kill the enemy. After all, that means exposing yourself to more fire and risk of personal injury, and the more effective you are at taking the fight to the enemy, the higher priority you are as a target.

To say nothing of the virtue of stubborn, irrational refusal to give up when logic dictates that the most logical course of action would be to do so, and the way that in the chaos of combat that can turn defeat into victory.

• The Element of Surprise says:

Reminder that the sex difference in violence is in the same ballpark as the difference in violence between races. An argument that makes a strong case for “abolishing” or “modifying” people based on one of these characteristics would probably need to consider the other characteristic as well.

• rlms says:

How true is that when you control for wealth and population density, and/or go outside the US?

• The Element of Surprise says:

In Krivo & Peterson 2000 (the most credible source after a few minutes googling) difference in urban homicide rate between black and white goes from factor 5 down to factor 2.6 (Figure 1, pg. 555, note graph is log scale) when matching a “concentrated disadvantage index” (which to a part may be a direct consequence of race itself). Naively calculated, if one were to able to reduce black violence by a factor of 2.6, it would reduce total violence by about 26% and would entail modifying 13% of the population. Modifying 26% randomly selected males (13% of population) to have female violence rates would give a similar result.

• rlms says:

Thanks!

21. onyomi says:

“Diversity” is obviously one of the most contentious topics lately, and I think part of the problem is it’s so often left underspecified, perhaps sometimes intentionally so, as to what exactly we mean by “diversity” and in what contexts. Therefore, I’m going to write a brief rundown of types of diversity I can think of and purposes/contexts in which they might seem to be beneficial or harmful. I am curious whether others agree with my assessments:

1. Racial Diversity: this seems the thing people mean most often, but I honestly have trouble thinking of a lot of benefits to racial diversity per se. If racial diversity is a proxy for cultural diversity, I can see more benefits (new music, foods, sports, ways of looking at the world), but obviously there is great cultural diversity within races. It seems strange to say that a town with first-generation Italians, Spanish, Irish, German, Swedish, and Polish immigrants lacks diversity, while a town with half black Americans and half white Americans is diverse. Racial diversity might confer some genetic benefit in the offspring of mixed-race children, but I don’t think it’s big enough to justify as an end in and of itself. It is good for individuals, of course, if they are not constrained against marrying the person they love, but racial diversity per se doesn’t seem to have a lot to recommend it except as a proxy for ethnic/cultural diversity, and it seems a pretty poor proxy.

On the negative side, it also seems like racial diversity, perhaps due to some temperamental traits held in average by races, but perhaps simply because of the visual difference, seems to make it harder for people to fully integrate. Witness that we still have “the black neighborhood” in many American cities. We might say that that’s just the fault of white racism, but even if it is, that might be hard to ever fully overcome.

2. Cultural/Ethnic Diversity: As stated above, cultural diversity seems to add a certain richness: you get exposed to new arts, music, food, sports, ways of looking at the world. The downside may be that you lose the sense of community that comes with e.g. everybody celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. You may be able to get around this to some extent by saying “okay, now everybody celebrates Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Cinco de Mayo,” but there is still clearly some benefit to having some shared cultural assumptions, especially at the neighborhood and city level. Maybe as you move up to the national level it becomes less important, but then you have the problem of different groups, so long as they remain culturally distinct, breaking into squabbling blocs, each fighting for their own group interests rather than the interest of the nation.

3. Gender Diversity: This basically means more women in traditionally male jobs and roles and vice-versa. The biggest benefit here is again one of individual freedom: women who want to be physicists and men who want to be primary school teachers are not prevented from doing so. But that’s again a benefit of not restricting people on the basis of gender, rather than a benefit of gender diversity per se. That is, it’s an argument for not discriminating against women, but not for actively aiming to achieve a gender quota.

At the societal level, we don’t restrict the talent pool for any given pursuit to just half the population. I’m not sure if this makes a big difference. Depends on how many really talented men and women would have been kept out of contributing to their preferred fields under a more traditional gender role system. Disadvantage seems to be loss of sense of peoples’ roles in society. Overall, seems to be harder on men, since in practice this means they have to compete with women for the jobs men traditionally did and also have a harder time finding women who want to e.g. focus on homemaking and raising children. Probably results in lowered birth rate. Extra income made by two-income households may just get sucked up in extra taxes, money spent on daycare, etc. Smart women who would have been focused on childrearing now leave that important job to people who are probably less intelligent and invested in their children.

4. Diversity of though/political persuasion: Red tribe likes to complain that academia is all about the racial and ethnic diversity but not ideological diversity, and I think this is true. I think in academia, especially, the argument for intentionally making sure diverse viewpoints are represented is strong, especially given the danger of group think. Academics will counter there are limits: surely we don’t need to hire an intelligent design proponent for our biology department. Sure, there are limits, but it seems we should err on the side of assuming different schools of thought are legitimate, given the strong bias people have to assume that people who think differently from them are just wrong.

Outside academia the argument seems weaker. It may be beneficial to your life/business if you are able to tolerate/do business with people of diverse thought systems, and you may enrich your life if you have the opportunity to be exposed to them, but having a high diversity of ways of thinking about the world within the neighborhood, city, or higher political entity seems more likely to result in conflict and breakdown of societal trust than the reverse.

Overall, the conclusion I’m seeming to reach even as I write this is that diversity per se doesn’t seem to have a lot of advantages, and that most of the advantages traditionally ascribed to it are actually advantages of tolerance. It is good for the individual if they don’t live in a society which will reject their chosen friends or spouse just because she belongs to a different race or culture. It is good for a society not to refuse to consider the ideas of a different culture just because they come from a different culture. It is good for a society to not refuse to trade with a different society just because it is a different society. It is good for society not to prevent talented women from entering a field just because they are women.

Outside the example of diversity of thought in academia, which acts as a guard against groupthink, however, the benefits of diversity per se seem questionable at best, and there are also significant downsides. To my mind this means that fights for e.g. not discriminating against people in employment are probably good, but that fights for intentionally aiming to achieve e.g. a diverse student body for its own sake are probably misguided.

Overall, I think this is part of what I might term my own attempt to reconcile my libertarianism with the critiques of the alt-right. Recently there has been handwringing over the “sinister libertarian-to-alt-right pipeline.” And maybe some would claim I myself am in this pipeline. I certainly think some alt-right proponents have some good points, especially on this diversity issue. But I think “tolerance, not diversity for its own sake,” may be a good way to reconcile it. Put differently, I might call it “libertarianism toward the peaceful, alt-rightism toward the violent,” or simply “live and let live.” That is, do not use violence, coercion, political power, or undue social pressure to prevent people mixing freely, yet also do not accept violence, coercion, political power, or undue social pressure as the cost of achieving someone’s ideal of a perfect, homogenized world.

• Well... says:

Different scales, too. I hardly see this get talked about.

For example, what would please a diversity-mongerer more: if I married a black woman and was emotionally close with her family but wanted to keep my country mostly white, or if I pushed for my country to become more racially diverse but refused to date or marry or have friends outside my race?

• registrationisdumb says:

From what I’ve seen in the culture wars, they prefer the second. Brad Torgersen of Sad Puppies was married to a black woman and was just a non-Blue-Triber (I don’t believe he was an ethno-nationalist), and he got plenty of hate. Meanwhile if you look at the average writers room of the places attacking him, they were 100% white/jewish women of whom most likely associated primarily with other white/jewish women.

• anonymousskimmer says:

onyomi’s reply to this sub-thread seemed to be deleted while I was replying to it. Here is my response to that post (it took multiple re-posts and edits to get it inline in the proper place):

Malcolm X agreed with you: http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/mxp/speeches/mxa16.html

Politics mostly trumps… well, everything.

I think the actual issue is minor actions versus major actions. If a person is ‘righteous’ in minor actions, but ‘unrighteous’ in major actions, then the major actions trump. There’s also the fact that what you do to me trumps what you did to someone else in my estimation of you (within the typical limits of tolerance and forgiveness).

People can easily see the large-scale effects political positions have. They can easily see how few people need to hold these positions to have legislative effect – which personally effects them. Whereas your friendships only effect your friends, and your dates only effect those you dated, who generally aren’t the people demonizing you for your politics.

• Nancy Lebovitz says:

Ostracism activates the same parts of the brain as physical pain

Anyone know whether this has replicated or not?

It wouldn’t surprise me if threats and insults (depending on context and the person) affect people similarly.

It’s quite possible that having a bright line for physical violence is more convenient than true.

• anonymousskimmer says:

Ostracism activates the same parts of the brain as physical pain

What kind of pain though – what pain range does ostracism have?

Throbbing, acute, deep dull, etc… Short, medium, chronic?

• Well... says:

From what I’ve seen in the culture wars, they prefer the second.

That is my observation too. But it’s strange: you’d think they would prefer the first, since the first is real actionable diversity, and if the first was widespread (say to the point that the country was 51% white) they’d have an unarguably diverse society.

Whereas if the second was widespread they’d have a society that will forever be in a diversity crisis.

• INH5 says:

You could argue (as many racial nationalists do) that the first would lead to less diversity in the long run as intermarriage blurred the boundaries between different groups.

You know, like how even the Far Right in the US has no issues with referring to the descendants of a hodge podge of European ethnic groups that in Europe have spent the last 1000 years or so murdering each other by the millions as a single group of “white” people.

• Well... says:

A country that’s 51% white and 49% pan-mulattoized (and bent on staying that way) is still more diverse than one that’s 100% white (and constantly saying they want it to change but resolutely against doing anything basic to make that happen).

• keranih says:

even the Far Right in the US has no issues with referring to the descendants of a hodge podge of European ethnic groups that in Europe have spent the last 1000 years or so murdering each other by the millions as a single group of “white” people.

A great deal of the ‘Far Right’ *now* has no problem lumping all American-based Euro-descent humans together, but as recent as 70 years ago this wasn’t the case. (And it’s not something that Europe actually embraces either – we’re several centuries away, imo, from the day that the Brits and the French cop to a common heritage.)

This perspective (of a governing commonality) didn’t happen by accident. I am willing to believe that the identity-focused wreckers who broke up that perspective didn’t intend to do so, but as they don’t appear to want to trade back for a (declared, intentional) ‘national heritage’ to override the impulse to break into subtribes, it gets harder every day to convince myself that the destruction wasn’t on purpose.

Certainly that common lumping was not equally valued by everyone.

• dndnrsn says:

Sort of related: a lot of people don’t really think about things in terms of demographic percentages, overrepresentation, underrepresentation, etc. So “diversity” becomes a fuzzy stand-in term.

Example: people will look at a Silicon Valley company that is 80% male/39% white, 29% East Asian, 29% South Asian, 2% Hispanic, 1% black and say “this company is not diverse” when what they really mean is “black and Hispanic people are hugely underrepresented, and women are quite underrepresented too.”

As lvlln notes elswhere in this OT, Asians often don’t get counted for these purposes. Universities where white people are underrepresented relative to the general population, and where Asians are overrepresented, will still get referred to as being “really white.” What people are noticing is that there are groups that are even more underrepresented.

• The Nybbler says:

Diversity of thought to avoid groupthink could be important in many fields, not just academia. One typical claim by race-and-gender diversity-pushers is that women and people of other races bring a different perspective which can be valuable when designing products for diverse markets. If true, this would apply even more to diversity of thought. (But it may not be true; the Japanese and Chinese have certainly successfully made many products for the American markets)

• Jiro says:

No, that’s the wrong answer. The correct answer is “in Bakke, the Supreme Court said that reverse discrimination is permitted for the sake of diversity.”

That’s really all it is. Everyone talks about “diversity” because that’s the magic word that the Supreme Court has said you have to use. Pretty much the only people talking about any other kind of diversity are people saying “since you claim to be sincere about diversity, let’s see if you’ll follow through on it in other cases”.

• The Nybbler says:

Which leads to nonsense like HR departments talking about diverse and non-diverse individuals.

• keranih says:

You might want to check out this heterodox academy podcast.

TL;DR version (c’mom, it’s just 30 minutes) – there is a tension between wanting cultural equality, cultural sovereignty (or cultural purity/preservation) and cultural integration – if we want equality, we’re going to decrease differences, cultural integration tends to mean one culture swallowing another, and cultural sovereignty (such as American Indian separate nations) leans toward separate but equal. It’s very hard to work for more than one of these.

One of the most frustrating conversations I ever had with a…a…a leftist focused on identity politics (*) was in discussing “prejudice against Jews” in the abstract sense. I tried to point out that if “Jews” were distinguishable from “WASP Americans” then in those differences there might be something that would cause random person Henry to prefer the company of Jews while random person Pete preferred the company of non-Jews, while random person Tom might see no difference.

But if *everyone* was like Tom, then there would be no differences between this group of humans labelled “Jews” and this other group labelled “WASPs”. The person I was speaking with was ethnically Jewish, insisted that there were cultural differences between the two groups, and yet “there is no reason to discriminate against Jews ever!”

Granted, trying to tread this ground would have been difficult for someone more tactful and of a culture/class closer to the person I was speaking to, but it was tremendously frustrating to me that I could not well communicate that I thought it possible to prefer to not hang out with a person of a particular group without automatically having the preference of throwing people in ovens. For this person, being uncomfortable in a different culture was the same as wanting genocide for members of that culture.

(*) I want brownie points for not using a much shorter three letter term

• anonymousskimmer says:

but I honestly have trouble thinking of a lot of benefits to racial diversity per se.

Hope (and other positive emotions) for those of a race which is far less prevalent in the milieu in question.

All of the knock-on effects from these two things.

racial diversity, perhaps due to some temperamental traits held in average by races, but perhaps simply because of the visual difference, seems to make it harder for people to fully integrate.

I think you have this backwards. Lack of initial diversity encourages large numbers of people to keep safe or keep gentrified.

that might be hard to ever fully overcome.

Start in preschool, and keep it up through college.

Overall, the conclusion I’m seeming to reach even as I write this is that diversity per se doesn’t seem to have a lot of advantages, and that most of the advantages traditionally ascribed to it are actually advantages of tolerance.

1) You’re taking a very social view of the situation; as an asocial the personal aspects are far more important to me, and diversity movements have somewhat different pros and cons (with definite overlaps).
2) How do you think tolerance is maintained? Enough people have the “this is the way it’s always been done” mindset that they don’t even see that Chesterton’s Fence is actually some random sticks-in-the-mud blown there by a hurricane, and not an actual fence at all.

• Björn says:

Diversity is most of the time used as a suggested solution to a problem. The problem is that if for example you look at tech companies in the USA, you find out that both white people and men are employed there much more often than the US demographics would suggest.

Now which solution does “diversity” suggest? It is hiring more non-whites and non-men. But the deeper problem is that even though there are some qualified people that are not white males and get scared off by the masculine tech-culture, there are not enough of them. The reason is that some demographic groups in the USA have more disadvantages than others, and the US education system does not really help those at a disadvantage. Note that those demographic groups don’t need to be racial, there are lots of poor white people in the USA who don’t get good education. But you don’t see that they are missing when you look at (superficial) demographic statistics.

So I would say that “diversity” is the wrong solution to an actual problem. However, “diversity” has the advantage that from a public relations viewpoint, “diversity” is easy to handle, because it’s so symbolic. That’s why there is so much diversity-stuff going around at the moment, you can always campaign for more diversity, or promise to honor diversity, etc. It also fits in well with the American view that stresses the individual. By contrast, campaigning for a better education policy is much harder, and it also forces you to campaign on state level, with much less chance for local confrontations.

• dndnrsn says:

It does not appear to be true that white people are disproportionately present in tech, or at least, on the technical side of things. According to this it looks as though whites are strongly overrepresented (versus national %s) as top management and sales, slightly overrepresented as mid-management, slightly underrepresented as admin, and significantly underrepresented as “professional” and techs.

• Björn says:

I don’t think I agree with your observations. Cisco and eBay have quite few black people in all positions, while Dell and Ingram Micro have about 10% black technicians, but still only 5% black professionals. What we see is that Asians are often overrepresented, while blacks are often unterrepresented. Also, the statistic is quite simple, so we don’t see how much middle class replication there is (in the USA there is a black middle class, which is also discriminated against, but not so much in education.), what is hidden in the large white group, etc.

• Aapje says:

@Bjorn

According to eBay itself, it has 7% black employees and 2% in tech, which is worse than the figures you give for Dell and Ingram Micro (I did not verify whether you are correct on those).

Cisco has even fewer black employees, 3.4% total and 3% in tech.

I suggest changing your news sources, since many statements that you make seem factually incorrect and easy to verify.

• dndnrsn says:

@Björn

Mea culpa. I was only looking at Cisco – somehow seeing the “All” option as the default choice for sex and ethnicity, I made the error of thinking that the default covered all 5 companies. I don’t know why they don’t offer the ability to see the demographics of all 5.

In general, though, it looks as though Asians are significantly more overrepresented in tech than white people are, and white people may be slightly underrepresented, or at parity with the general population. So tech ends up looking like top universities, more or less.

• The Nybbler says:

The problem is that if for example you look at tech companies in the USA, you find out that both white people and men are employed there much more often than the US demographics would suggest.

As dndnrsn points out, white people aren’t overrepresented, though men are. But if you don’t accept proportional represention as a good thing as a first principle, why is this a problem?

get scared off by the masculine tech-culture

That’s sneaking in a couple of assumptions which have not been established: that there exists a “masculine” tech culture, and that women are scared off by it. Despite the rise of the term to cliche, “brogramming” was a hoax. Most of us aren’t popping our collars, chugging Red Bull, pumping iron, and pounding out code. (And if we were “bros”, women in general would probably find the culture less off-putting.)

The reason is that some demographic groups in the USA have more disadvantages than others, and the US education system does not really help those at a disadvantage.

This cannot explain the over-representation of Asians, nor the gender imbalance. Asians tend to go to the same schools as whites, and men as women; women are overrepresented on the whole at the undergraduate level.

• Björn says:

If some parts of the population are less likely to work in relevant industries, one can assume that there is quite much wasted potential there.

Maybe I should have elaborated the “masculine tech-culture” a little bit. I did not mean “masculine” in the pure traditional sense, I rather ment the following: From my experiences, in programming, computer science etc, there is a culture where you are expected to teach everything to yourself, and where people that are willing to learn but have not much prior knowledge are showered with stupid comments and general unhelpfulness, while people that are showing of their computer skills they learned since they where 12 get lots of positive attention.

It can very well explain the over-representation of Asians, for example if most of the Asians are rather recent immigrants that brought good education traditions with them, while the USA has a fair chunk of uneducated white people.

• The Nybbler says:

If some parts of the population are less likely to work in relevant industries, one can assume that there is quite much wasted potential there.

One can assume anything, but it’s just an assumption, it still hasn’t been established with any evidence.

From my experiences, in programming, computer science etc, there is a culture where you are expected to teach everything to yourself, and where people that are willing to learn but have not much prior knowledge are showered with stupid comments and general unhelpfulness, while people that are showing of their computer skills they learned since they where 12 get lots of positive attention.

Doesn’t sound particularly “masculine” to me. Nor particularly true, except the part about expected to teach everything (or at least many things) to yourself; people who are willing to learn get pointed to resources. People who expect to be spoon-fed everything tend to get derision.

• Jiro says:

It does not appear to be true that white people are disproportionately present in tech, or at least, on the technical side of things.

See conversation, on this very page, about how Asians get treated as whites when it comes to figuring out who’s the oppressor.

Your statistics show that there is actual diversity, but your statistics don’t show “diversity”. “Diversity” hasn’t meant actual diversity since Bakke.

• The reason is that some demographic groups in the USA have more disadvantages than others, and the US education system does not really help those at a disadvantage.

That might explain a lower fraction of blacks, but not women. Men and women go to the same schools and currently women, on average, do somewhat better in them than men.

• Charles F says:

I don’t know. I didn’t realize I was supposed to be networking or something in college, among other things. I did very well by every metric you would measure, but got less out of it than a lot of my peers and ended up having more trouble transitioning to being employed and doing real work. I don’t know if it’s the case, and I suspect it isn’t (for no solid reason, admittedly), but it certainly doesn’t seem completely unreasonable, that there could be hidden, hard to measure axes on which boys get better preparation, even while girls get higher grades.

And anyway, your point doesn’t actually seem to address the issue. If women have significant disadvantages and they go to the same schools and do just slightly better, based on grades alone they’re not getting enough of a leg up to make up for the existing handicap. So it seems obviously true that education isn’t really significantly helping those at a disadvantage.

• Aapje says:

@Charles F

How can you be so sure that women are actually doing worse relative to their goals? The evidence very strongly points to women having different goals and the perception that women do worse depends greatly on not counting the advantages that women have, but only bemoaning the disadvantages.

• Charles F says:

I don’t know if it’s the case, and I suspect it isn’t

If women have significant [implied: net] disadvantages

• Aapje says:

Fair enough. I’m just a bit frustrated that the debate is generally one-sided.

• The Element of Surprise says:

There are potential benefits of diversity in institutions (in a broader sense) by making these institutions more empathetic towards the people who depend on them. Black police officers might be better at policing a black community, female bosses might more fit to make company policy that respects the needs of women, right leaning google / twitter / etc. employees might cause censorship policies to align more with the sensitivities of a greater part of the population.

• Aapje says:

That is the theory, but does it actually work that way in practice?

Ultimately, the idea that black people, women, etc tend to share the same concerns seems quite racist and sexist & primarily based on prejudiced beliefs. In actuality, we see that black police officers do actually shoot at (black) suspects if they feel threatened, very similar to white officers; that leaders make decisions mostly on what their community thinks is sensible, rather than based on their race or gender, etc.

Most diversity policies seem based on what feels right, not on actual evidence. In fact, a lot of times, the claimed causes turn out to clearly be false and the proposed solutions non- or counter-productive when actual research is done.

• anonymousskimmer says:

Importance of diversity in police work:

He’s proud of the police work he’s done over the last three years. His language skills help him elicit confessions, locate murder weapons and translate suicide notes, speeding investigations and providing cultural context to unexplained crimes.

Because there are so few Chinese-speaking officers, he’s often loaned out to other agencies. Immigration authorities, the FBI, neighboring police and fire departments have grown to rely on him.

Personally I was grading standardized tests for McGraw-Hill and read an answer I was unfamiliar with. I asked my neighboring graders what the term meant and a black man said it was a name for those adjustable baseball caps. That was an acceptable answer so the student received full points on that question when otherwise I would have had to mark the answer wrong solely through my own ignorance. (I can’t remember what the term was anymore.)

• Trofim_Lysenko says:

So, culture, not race.

• Aapje says:

@anonymousskimmer

Your examples are about skills and/or culture, not race, which is exactly where the diversity proponents tend to go wrong, preferring racist ideals based on prejudice over actually improving how organizations function.

If you set up a quota to get more non-white cops, you won’t necessarily get more Asian cops, you might just get more black ones. If you set up a quota to get more Asian cops, you won’t necessarily get more Mandarin-speaking officers. You may simply get a lot of Indians. You may get people with Chinese (grand)parents who actually speak and/or read/write Mandarin extremely poorly. You may have a lot of criminals who use Chinese dialects or other Chinese languages than Mandarin, so you may actually want people who are fluent in those.

It does make sense for the police to hire a sufficient number of people who are fluent in certain languages, but it is racist and less effective to assume that just because someone has Chinese ancestors, they have skills that are (somewhat) common in their group. It is far more effective and less racist to set up the hiring process where people are simply asked whether they have certain skills, where this counts in their favor for hiring decisions and where a central database has this info, so if the skill is needed, this person can be located quickly. Then it doesn’t actually matter if this person is actually Chinese.

As for your other example, I assume that the term was ‘snapback.’ This is urban slang, which is probably more familiar to the average black person, but I bet that a large number of (older) black people don’t know it, while a decent number of white people do (those into hip-hop). The age factor is probably huge here (and perhaps also class), which is something that race-based diversity goals would not seek to increase.

PS. Didn’t you have access to a PC or smartphone while grading? Because unknown terms can be looked up.

• anonymousskimmer says:

PS. Didn’t you have access to a PC or smartphone while grading? Because unknown terms can be looked up.

Test confidentiality was important enough that we were forbidden phones in the grading room, and the PCs we used to grade the computerized/scanned tests were all terminals.

I do believe you are right about the term for the hat.

Cultural and skills diversity are very important. I’d even admit they are generally more important than racial diversity. But racial/ethnic diversity is still more than just skin deep.

• Aapje says:

Cultural and skills diversity are very important. I’d even admit they are generally more important than racial diversity. But racial/ethnic diversity is still more than just skin deep.

I agree, but the advocates of ethnic and gender diversity seem to be mostly opposed to improving class diversity and even more so to culture diversity, strongly favoring discrimination against everyone with ‘wrong’ ideas.

I also object to the hypocrisy of claiming that ‘oppressed groups’ have diversity that makes them better at and/or more interested in certain things, but decrying any claim that those groups may have diversity that makes them worse at and/or less interested in certain things as racism or sexism; while for the ‘oppressor groups’ the opposite is true.

To me such double standards for groups is racism and sexism & fatally undermines most diversity attempts going on now.

In general, selectively exaggerating or downplaying the significance of skin color of gender based on bias towards certain races and genders logically leads to attempts to be unfair in favor of certain groups.

• . says:

Re: advantages of racial diversity: People may be able to get an advantage by banding together and screwing over whoever is outside their band. The criterion for band-formation doesn’t actually matter, but it works best if it is very obvious and difficult to change. Language (or accent), class mannerisms and skin tone are all really good for this, but skin tone is the best and therefore most dangerous.

However, we’ve decided to band together on the basis of nation instead. In order to preserve internal peace and unity we try to efface other criteria of band-formation. One way to do this is through diversity. If there are always greenskins around, the purpleskins are less likely to conspire against them or to further develop an exclusive group identity.

Color blindness would be better, but humans can see color so we must try something else.

The other diversities also have this going on to a lesser extent.

• The Nybbler says:

If that’s the case, we’re doing it exactly wrong. All this diversity-pushing is actually cementing the racial identities, not breaking them down. Google has its Black Googlers Network, student activists are pushing for racially segregated dorms at colleges, etc.

• Aapje says:

@The Nybbler

Of course. It is pretty obvious that many/most of the diversity pushers actually want very much the same thing as the ‘white culture’ people, with their dislike of cultural appropriation, their desire for segregation, etc.

• At only a slight tangent …

David Skarbek, in The Social Order of the Underworld, describes how prison gangs work. By his account, a large part of what they are doing is enforcing rules on their own members, in order to keep up the reputation of the members so that other prisoners will be willing and able to deal with them. Thus if a member of gang A has bought heroin from a member of gang B but then doesn’t pay for it, gang A forces him to pay or lets gang B beat him up if he doesn’t, in order that other prisoners will be willing to deal with gang A members.

Gang membership is defined by race/ethnicity. One result is that racial divisions in the prison are stronger than they were before the gang system developed, despite racial divisions in the outside world having gotten weaker. The reason, as Skarbek sees it, is that the system requires some easy way of knowing what gang a prisoner is a part of, so as to know who is responsible for making him behave and who you should distrust in the future if they don’t. Race provides an easy label, as do tattoos.

So that is a context in which racial diversity (within gang) is a liability, makes the system work worse.

For a brief summary of Skarbek’s account, see his chapter (8) in the webbed draft of my current book.

• Aapje says:

So the lesson here is that we can fix racism and sexism by giving every baby a geometrical tattoo on the forehead which is part of a small set of possible tattoo’s, but independent of race and gender.

I just fear that the squares will oppress everyone, though.

22. BBA says:

Sixty years ago, humorist Jean Shepherd pranked the bestseller lists by having listeners to his radio show ask bookstores for a nonexistent novel, I, Libertine by the equally nonexistent Frederick R. Ewing. Due to the way the lists were compiled, a “bestseller” didn’t actually need to have a single copy sold if enough bookstores reported that customers were interested in it. Sure enough, this “novel” hit the charts before it was even written. Shepherd did this for a laugh, and when he and Ted Sturgeon actually wrote I, Libertine they donated the profits to charity.

Well now we’re much better at tracking book sales, but the NYT had a #1 bestselling young adult novel this week that nobody’s heard of and that apparently isn’t in stock at any bookstore in the country. This book, Handbook for Mortals, is real, as is its author, Lani Sarem, but its “bestseller” status was the result of a deliberate campaign to place bulk preorders at independent bookstores that report to the NYT list. Someone allegedly affiliated with Sarem “bought” just enough copies to climb to the top of the list, but few enough at each store that the sales wouldn’t be considered “corporate” and get the book a dreaded asterisk on its bestseller status. Somehow wrapped up in this is actor Thomas Ian Nicholas, who owns the movie rights to the book and is trying to get outside funding to make the film – and did I mention that Sarem and Nicholas are slated to star in the movie, and the company that published the book is owned by Sarem’s husband?

Things move a lot faster today than in the ’50s, and Handbook for Mortals was removed from the bestseller list just a day after it first appeared there. Still a bit surprising that it’s only slightly harder to game the system now than it was back then.

• I have heard of a similar tactic for ebooks. You get a hundred fans to each buy a copy of the book at the same time on the same day. Amazon’s software shows the book as a bestseller for the next hour or two. During that time, if it works, another hundred or more people buy it because it’s a best seller, and with luck it goes on from there.

I heard this described by an author who claimed to have done it. Details from memory, and I have no idea how accurate his account was.

• Trofim_Lysenko says:

It’s a semi-common tactic. I’ve heard it called “Book-Bombing”, and I’ve seen authors use it to try and drive attention of their own or friends’ works.

23. An excerpt from the fascinating transcript of the cross-examination of Charles J. Guiteau. Guiteau shot President James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881. Garfield died eleven weeks later.

During his trial, Guiteau’s appointed counsel put forth an insanity defense, but Guiteau himself vehemently insisted that he was not medically insane.

Guiteau was found guilty, sentenced to death, and hanged.

Q [Prosecutor]: Did you believe it was the will of God that you should murder him?

A [Guiteau]: I believed that it was the will of God that he should be removed, and that I was the appointed agent to do it.

Q: Did He give you the commission in writing?

A: No, sir.

Q: Did He give it in an audible tone of voice?

A: He gave it to me by His pressure upon me.

Q: Did He give it to you audibly?

A: No, sir.

Q: He did not come to you in a vision of the night?

A: I don’t get my inspiration in that way.

Q: It occurred to you, as you laid there on the bed, that if President Garfield were dead, it would solve the whole question?

A: Yes, I say so.

Q: Did it occur to you that you were the very man to kill him?

A: Not at that time, sir. My mind was unsettled. I tried to throw it off.

Q: Whom did you think then was the man to kill him?

A: I had no thought on the subject, sir.

Q: You had no thought of his being killed by anybody then?

A: The mere impression came over my mind that if the President was removed, everything would go well.

Q: Did you contemplate his removal otherwise than by murder?

A: No, sir; I do not like the word “murder”; I don’t like that word.

Q: I know you do not like the word; it is a hard word, but it is there.

A: It don’t represent the actual facts in this matter.

Q: It does not represent the inspiration?

A: No, sir; it does not. If I had shot the President of the United States on my own personal account, no punishment would be too severe or too quick for me; but acting as the agent of the Deity puts an entirely different construction upon the act, and that is the thing that I want to put into this court and jury and the opposing counsel. I say this was an absolute necessity, in view of the political situation, for the good of the American people, and to save the nation from another war. That is the view I want you to entertain, and not settle down on a cold-blooded idea of murder. I never had the first conception of his removal as murder.

Q: Do you feel under great obligation to the American people?

A: I think the American people may some time consider themselves under great obligations to me, sir.

24. Well... says:

Where should I go to see the far-Left/BLM/SJW/hardcore feminist/etc. (approximate) equivalents of…

– 4Chan /pol (i.e. the unabashed, uncensored, “subconscious train of thought” of a movement’s underbelly)
– Unz review (i.e. a thoughtful more intellectual cross section of the movement, accommodating some disagreement)
– TRS (i.e. a rather forceful and often-fiery blog that tends to hone in on the latest issues and rallying cries)

A few representative Twitter handles would be illuminating too.

• dndnrsn says:

What do you think is the essence of each of these – what would you be looking for in an “equivalent” of each?

• Well... says:

Good question. I’ll update the original post.

• dndnrsn says:

Weird, something tripped the filter and I don’t know what. Anyway.

1. probably some part of Tumblr is where you’d find the people on the not-mainstream left who are sort of the bizarro mirror-world version of /pol.

2. I don’t know if I’d include Unz in with those. Unz does stuff like reprint with permission people who are mainstream respectable, like Bacevich – and his thing is “American foreign policy is really stupid” which isn’t left or right inherently. I’m kind of blanking on this one. Are you wanting more idpol stuff, or economic leftism?

3. Isn’t TRS basically just a more polished /pol?

• Well... says:

Thanks.

1. Do you know where on Tumblr? (I’ve never really used that site.)

2. I agree about Unz, but he collects enough far-right/All Trite people there that I think that’s the core readership. Seems so from the comments anyway. I guess what I’m looking for is “thinking man’s far-Leftism”.

3. Maybe. I haven’t read more than a handful of posts there and they seemed a lot more put together than just “polished” but your characterization might still be right. Still would like to see a leftwing analog or the closest to it.

• dndnrsn says:

I imagine the way to find what you want on Tumblr would be to search for likely hashtags, see who’s posting what, and see who follows/reblogs who.

• HFARationalist says:

I’m not sure. I’m not familiar with leftists. However I will disagree that Unz Review is necessarily a far right website.

AmRen (American Renaissance) (Polite, not antisemitic, basically just WN)
VDARE (Basically just WN)
Stormfront (A forum)
VNN (Another forum)
Daily Stormer (Basically a WN who is also antisemitic and is into trolling)
Infostormer (Similar to daily stormer)
The Phora
Occidental Observer
Iron March (This site is very antisemitic. However it isn’t really racist. Instead it is just fascist in the literal sense of the word.)

(i.e. a thoughtful more intellectual cross section of the movement, accommodating some disagreement)

Jacobian, maybe, for the far left.

• Well... says:

You mean jacobinmag.com? Or something else?

• hyperboloid says:

For a left wing equivalent of Unz review I’d go with Z magazine, the old Marxist standby monthly review , Jacobin, or maybe ROAR Magazine. But I just don’t think there is a left wing 4chan.

There is just a deep asymmetry between the American far left and the far right. The far left are qusi-anarchists whose ideal society looks something like Syrian Kurdistan, or Revolutionary Catalonia. The far right includes people who idealize the axis powers. Aside from some truly marginal leftovers from the fringe of the 1960s anti-war movement, who were literately carrying pictures of chairman Mao, I don’t think there is any equivalent on the left.

• AnonYEmous says:

there is something called /leftypol/

not sure what it is, but it exists

• dndnrsn says:

@hyperboloid

Maoists are uncommon but not fringe, I would say. Stalinists, now, they are fringe. There’s also people on the far left who aren’t actual Stalinists but use Stalin-era imagery as an edgy way to say “fuck Nazis.”

• The Red Foliot says:

For a left wing inversion of 4chan, see the subreddit “Asian Masculinity,” whose members tend to be racist misogynists in the same vein as 4channers, but whose predominant ideology has to do with racial politics of a decidedly left wing variety. There are probably websites where embittered young males of other non-white races gather, and they are probably similarly left wing.

But they are not as big as 4chan. Most of the low brow left wing activity on the internet seems associated with Tumblr. Tumblrinas would be the analog to 4chan in terms of both size and maturity.

• HFARationalist says:

^I won’t say that Northeast Asian bitter males are a different kind compared to white bitter males. The reason is that the existence of both groups was caused by the same environmental factor, sexual promiscuity.

• anonymousskimmer says:

I have no clue, but here’s a list of the more left sites in my News/Opinion bookmark folder, quickly checking them out might be worth it to you:
Vox.com | Explain the news
The Daily Beast
The Baffler—The Journal That Blunts the Cutting Edge
The Mary Sue – The Nexus of Pop Culture and the Uncharted Universe
The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com
The Intercept
In These Times
Mother Jones | Smart, Fearless Journalism
ThinkProgress
Jacobin | Reason in Revolt
CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
Alternet (not actually bookmarked anymore)
DailyKos (not a bookmark either, but needs to be added)
Jezebel, Feministing (not bookmarks, but should be added)

• James says:

Isn’t tumblr the mirror image of 4chan? Granted, you have to find the right tumblrs to follow, but that can’t be too hard: if you find a handful of even-slightly SJW (acronym used but not endorsed) tumblrs then you can click through to the sources of the things they reblog to find a few major players.

• winchester says:

Laissez’s Faire

25. jeqofire says:

How does the report link work? If one should activate it in error, is there a means of undoing it?

• Evan Þ says:

I’m not sure it’s worked at all for the last several months. Back when it did, it put the comment in a queue for Scott to look over whenever he got around to it.

26. HFARationalist says:

Emojis as a new lingua franca of humanity

I’m not sure whether this has been tried before. However we can indeed try to invent a new language that is mainly based on emojis. People who speak English words will pronounce them using English words. People who speak French will pronounce it using French words, etc. Regardless of which language people speak we might be able to get the message through.

• rahien.din says:
• The Element of Surprise says:

Apparently contempt is for the Chinese what snow is for Eskimos.

• rahien.din says:

One other explanation I heard somewhere (99%I? Radiolab? I forget where) is that in China, a smile consists of 1. upturned corners of the mouth, and 2. the eyes close a little and crinkle up at the corners. Which makes sense. If a person smiles and their eyes don’t change, they’re either fakey-fake or totally psychotic. It just happens that the Chinese are more sensitive to that.

• toastengineer says:

The thing is, emoji aren’t an intentional feature of Unicode, or at least if they are now they didn’t start that way.

Part of Unicode’s mandate is that any digitized text that exists on the planet should be able to make a round trip through Unicode without losing data, which means making Unicode a superset of literally all text encoding schemes ever conceived. Early Japanese cell phone carriers liked to stuff silly little pictographs in to the undefined bits of whatever text encoding they were using in Japan at the time, just like IBM did with math and box drawing symbols in the extra 128 characters you got by using the 8th bit in ASCII, and thus the Unicode Consortium was obliged to make every single one of these part of Unicode. Apple then put them in the iPhone on-screen keyboard, and eventually people started discovering and using them.

So I’m pretty sure the Consortium never intended for emoji to be pictographs to represent every common human concept; they’re mostly just a “oh fuck I guess we technically promised that we’d do this” thing plus some political additions since some people convinced themselves that women’s career ambitions would be annihilated by there not being enough emoji of female doctors and such.

• powerfuller says:

Charles Bliss tried to invent a completely symbolic language: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blissymbols. Per the Wikipedia article, Bliss’s original goal was frustrated because nobody wanted to use them as an international language, though people did find a use for it helping children with cerebral palsy communicate in their native languages.

As Rahien.din’s link suggests, I doubt any widely-used language or symbol set can remain consistent across time and space. Esperanto only has perfectly regular grammar because not enough people speak it to mix it all up.

• Iain says:

No. This is a good article about emoji as language:

Here’s a fun twist on a classic book meme to prove my point: pick up the closest book to you, open it to a random page, point your finger at a random sentence, and try to “translate” it into emoji. Show this to someone with no context, and see if they can figure out what the hell you’re trying to say. Compare this to the experience of reading a book in translation. Sure, you’ll probably miss out on a few subtle nuances from the original, but you won’t be hopelessly lost.
[…]
Emoji are a universal language the same way that pointing at stuff and grunting is a universal language. Useful, under a certain set of circumstances! But what makes language really powerful is its ability to talk about stuff beyond the here and now, beyond the easily visualizable. In other words, abstraction.

And you can’t have something that’s both abstract and universal at the same time. It’s a contradiction. If it’s universally, instantly understandable, it’s got to be really simple. If it’s abstract enough to talk about anything interesting, it gets that way because of a bunch of arbitrary associations of form and meaning that you just have to learn by rote. (It’s not a coincidence that learning about a new topic often involves picking up a bunch of new vocabulary.)

• toastengineer says:

Ever see those “Shakespeare except its teens texting” books they had in B&N back in ’15 or so?

Then again, Spacelog‘s “Apollo transcripts in Twitter format” is pretty neat…

• . says:

Weaker claim that I support: emojis should be normal in written communication. It is very hard to communicate tone or intention in text, and I’ve had some really bad misunderstandings with co-workers which could have been easily resolved if we’d been using emojis. Novels could use emojis as well; third person subjective narration would particularly benefit.

• quaelegit says:

A subcase of your experience is exactly the original statement of Poe’s Law, according to Wikipedia

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.

• HFARationalist says:

I agree. I usually use a “;-)” to show parody.

27. sierraescape says:

28. purplepeople says:

What is the current state of 3d printing (additive manufacturing)? I somewhat get the impression it has not lived up to the hype, and if so why would that be? Have there been unexpected challenges in production or something?

Also how profitable can this be as a hobby given a good product idea?

• redRover says:

The big problem with 3D printing is that it’s still much more expensive than traditional manufacturing for all but very small quantities. A lot of this is because the material cost is quite high, but some of it is also that the production rate is rather low per machine, which means higher capital costs, though this is probably the more surmountable problem. Also, related to the material cost problem is the problem that only a relatively small number of materials are suitable for 3D printing, and those often with a limited range of treatments and qualities. However, as the technology improves, and people get more acquainted with how 3D printing can be used, (i.e. building products optimized for 3D printing, rather than using a 3D printer to build something that would traditionally be injection molded or milled or whatever) it is expanding its place in the global supply chain. Nonetheless, I think the material limitations, relative to other processes, will keep it from really displacing a lot of more traditional manufacturing.

• toastengineer says:

It’s also because, at least with the layered deposition methods that most people think of when they think “3D-printing”, you don’t really know what the material properties of the thing you just made are. You can’t use 3D printed parts for anything load-bearing because you don’t know how well the layers adhered; maybe it can take 80% of the shear load of cast PLA, maybe it can take 10%. There’s no way to know.

• Iain says:

SpaceX is using 3D printing for some of its rocket parts.

• bean says:

SpaceX is using 3D printing to produce some very specific parts that couldn’t be produced using conventional means. The one I got to see was a sort of very fine, thick grid in (IIRC) Inconel, which you could only see was a grid when you held it right. It couldn’t have been made using any other process I know of, and I was rather stunned. 3D printing is great for that, and for 1-off parts, but it’s not good for mass production of parts that can be built conventionally.

• quaelegit says:

I’m no expert in 3d printing, but my impression is that it is VERY useful in specific cases (bean gave a great example), but not economically/technically superior to other pre-existing techniques in most cases. So yes, it didn’t live up to the hype, but the hype got way out of hand.

As for being a profitable hobby, I do have one anecdote:
One of my roommates spent his summer internship money on a 3d printer, and used it for all sorts of projects. The one that most interested the rest of us was a planetary gear that was VERY fun to spin. He said they took about $3 in filament to make, but at least half a dozen of our friends would have been willing to buy them for$4 or $5. Unfortunately, I think the market has since been cornered by fidget spinners 😛 • Aapje says: He said they took about$3 in filament to make, but at least half a dozen of our friends would have been willing to buy them for $4 or$5.

That is still a very poor margin if you factor how slow 3D printers tend to be, how much cleanup tends to be necessary, that selling in any real quantity probably requires shipping which would produce a total price above $4 or$5, etc.

29. Charles F says:

Does anybody have any guess where would be a good place for a gay man to look for potential partners in a traditionalish heterosexual marriage resulting in some smallish number of children? Lying about it for the entire course of a marriage is probably not an option. Being okay with extramarital dates or hookups with men would not be a requirement. Being okay with infrequent sex would be. Religiousness would be perfectly okay, barring some extreme cases, as long as they’re fine with somebody non-religious.

Is there any context where women would have a reasonable chance of being okay with that setup?

(Feel free to question the premise/wisdom. This seems to be sort of weird and there’s probably a reason for that. But I reserve the right to ignore you.)

• skef says:

… traditionalish heterosexual marriage resulting in some smallish number of children? Lying about it for the entire course of a marriage is probably not an option.

You presumably mean lying about it to your spouse. Are there requirements about how the arrangement needs to look from the outside? What about your spouse’s sexual outlets?

• Charles F says:

Yes that’s right. Lying to almost everybody else indefinitely is an option I would be okay with in theory but in practice it seems like secrets don’t last, and I’m not particularly concerned about how it looks from the outside.

As for their sexual outlets, as long as it makes them happy and doesn’t involve me much it’s basically fine with me, but all else being perfectly equal: low libido/ace > masturbation > some FWBs > secondary relationships > casual sex, but the difference between the endpoints is really pretty small.

• anonymousskimmer says:

A guess would be a Christian church. Aim for a larger one (more potential partners) which is slightly evangelical. This is just a guess.

A second guess would be a Catholic church.

A third guess would be a lesbian-friendly group. (Can your spouse be homosexual too?)

• Charles F says: