THE JOYFUL REDUCTION OF UNCERTAINTY

Links 10/18: +1 Insiteful

Mark Hofmann, master forger, built a comfy career for himself forging documents that discredited Mormonism and selling them to Mormon officials who wanted to cover them up – for example, a letter in which Joseph Smith confessed that instead of seeing an angel, he had only seen a salamander. Then the murders began.

Byron White is the only person to have ever been both an NFL player and a Supreme Court Justice. He also won two Bronze Stars working naval intelligence in World War II. From his Wikipedia article: “White said that he was supposed to enroll at Harvard Law School, but got sick on the train ride there, so he got off the train in New Haven, Connecticut and went to Yale.”

Update on the mystery illness plaguing US diplomats in Cuba (and now China) – it may be a microwave-based weapon developed by the old USSR, possibly deployed from the back of a van. Still no word on who is using it against US diplomats or why.

Want to participate in a medical study? Don’t care which one? researchmatch.org helps connect researchers to wannabe-subjects. If you have a disease, great, but even if you don’t you can be someone’s control group.

Exposure to opposing views on social media increases partisan polarization. It’s not true that if people read the other side they would appreciate or like them more. I think this is probably related to everyone giving up on convincing the other side and focusing on radicalizing the base instead. If people were trying to convince you, listening to them would make you more convinced; if people are trying to radicalize your enemies, listening to them will make you more concerned. And here’s an article about people trying to do this right.

It’s 2018, so of course a rapper is planning to build a cryptocurrency-themed city in Senegal, and of course it’s already being compared to “a real-life Wakanda”.

One way to identify a brilliant person is that, while ordinary people are afraid you’ll steal their ideas, brilliant people have so many ideas that they know they will never be able to do all of them, and practically beg you to steal them so that they get done. Luke Muehlhauser is definitely a brilliant person, and here is his list of Projects I Wish I Had Time For. Somebody please do the historical music one and send it to me.

Eleven European nations are planning to mandate that recipients of government scientific grants must publish resulting papers somewhere they are freely available to everyone, eg open-access journals. This could be an even bigger deal than it sounds, since it would ensure open-access journals were the only place you could find a lot of the most important research, and so raise their prestige. Good job governments solving coordination problems!

Inevitably, capsule hotels have come to San Francisco. The symbolism isn’t great, but I’ve stayed at capsule hotels before and can recommend them as surprisingly comfortable and convenient.

Related: a real estate startup is getting into the Bay Area group house market. This sounds kind of like dialing the Bay-Area-ness up to 11, but it…actually seems like a good idea? They acquire and maintain the houses, screen potential residents, take care of chores like cleaning and keeping provisions stocked, and occasionally hold events, and residents pay them like any other landlord. professorgerm on the subreddit describes it as “take college dorms, remove the college, and make it a subscription model with transfer options”.

This month in dog-whistling: was a low-level Trump administration official resting her arms on each other in a totally normal way during the Kavanaugh hearings? Or was it a secret white supremacist salute? Update: it was the first one, and the official involved is a half-Mexican, half-Jewish descendant of Holocaust survivors.

Iran has one of the world’s largest cash transfer programs, though it’s not quite a basic income. Now a new study finds generally positive effects on labor participation.

Robin Hanson: The Game

The Institute for Competitive Governance is trying to crowd-fund an “open source legal system”, ie “an alternative law system for places where existing legal systems either do not exist or cannot be trusted”. Some more information here. There is no way this doesn’t end up being on the blockchain somehow. Also in crowdfunding news – friend of the blog Thomas Eliot is raising money for his new illustrated translation of the Enchiridion of Epictetus. Somewhat less likely to end up on the blockchain, but it is 2018.

This month in phrenology: “A series of studies conducted by Caltech researchers show that when people are shown photos of politicians they’re not familiar with, they can make better-than-chance judgments about whether those politicians have been convicted of corruption”. In particular. politicians with wider faces are more corrupt. And here’s a photoset in case you want to remind yourself what wide- and narrow-faced politicians look like.

The partisan makeup of different occupations. Note the consistent pattern where professions that manipulate the physical world are conservative and professions that manipulate ideas are liberal (in a way that doesn’t seem to depend entirely on skills or salary).

Ben Carson (who, remember, is still the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development) comes out against NIMBYism, cites econblogger Noahpinion’s article.

Why do people on hallucinogenic drugs so often see spirals or concentric circles? Because the brain maps the visual field to the visual cortex using a polar-to-Cartesian coordinate transform, and drugs cause linear abnormalities in the visual cortex through a reaction-diffusion process similar to the one that makes stripes on zebras. If this doesn’t make sense, read the link, it’s brilliant and fascinating and one of the only times I feel like some aspect of human perception has been completely explained with no mystery left anywhere. Original paper is here, zebra-stripe-generator applet is here. (h/t eukaryotewrites)

Ron Unz did a lot of interesting work on both sides of the political spectrum, and you may have cached that he’s a guy with some heterodox opinions but still pretty thoughtful. I was disappointed to learn that he’s now gone totally off the deep end into Holocaust denial and other related beliefs; this article gives a good bio and summary. This scares me because I don’t know how it happened; I often see people I respect in one domain having otherwise crazy opinions, but for some reason it’s worse when I can watch it happening in real time.

Step one: some Chinese people are going back to wearing traditional Chinese clothes, how #aesthetic. Step two: uh oh, it looks like the people wearing traditional Chinese clothing are a far-right supremacist movement. Step three: “Conspiracy theories among Han Clothing Movement participants claim that there is a secret Manchu plan for restoration [of the Qing Dynasty] that has been underway from the start of the post-1978 reform era. They argue that Manchus secretly control every important party-state institution, such as the People’s Liberation Army, the Party Propaganda Department, the Ministry of Culture and especially the National Population and Family Planning Commission which is regarded as a stronghold of Manchu influence. They believe that its one-child policy is but “an escalation of the long-term Manchu genocide that targets the Han people”.

You know the planet astrological symbols? Where Venus is a mirror, Mars is a circle with an arrow coming out of it, and nobody ever remembers the others? Well, did you know that more than thirty asteroids have their own astrological symbols for you to not remember?

Roopkund is a small lake 15,000 feet high in the Tibetan Plateau, which made headlines when explorers discovered several hundred human skeletons on its desolate shores. Scientists carbon-dated the skeletons to around 700 AD. Now somebody has gene-sequenced them, and found that they are mostly Greeks. How did hundreds of Greek people get to a remote part of Tibet and die there en masse in the eight-century AD? Wikipedia discusses the mystery.

This month in “nobody has principles”, USA Today on the implications of Kavanaugh: “’Law review editors: brace for a tidal wave of legal academic theories supporting judicial minimalism, Thayerianism, and strong — very strong — theories of precedent. Above all: the Court must do nothing without bipartisan agreement, otherwise it is illegitimate.’ The past half-century’s enthusiasm for judicial activism will vanish, as legal academia turns on a dime to promote theories that will constrain the court until a left-leaning majority returns, at which point they’ll turn on a dime again.”

Ben Hoffman: Financial investment is just a symbolic representation of investment projected onto a low-dimensional space inside a control system run by the US government. Tldr he disagrees with Nassim Taleb’s barbell strategy.

A year after China said it would “dominate” AI, it seems to be walking back its position and calling for international collaboration.

Will MacAskill’s TED talk on effective altruism. Related: 80,000 Hours synthesizes and summarizes their research finding the highest-impact careers.

“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” – Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire Of Louis Bonaparte

Confronted with the science saying it’s bad for teenagers to wake up too early, California’s legislature passes a ground-breaking bill saying that schools may not start earlier than 8:30 AM – only for it to be vetoed by governor Jerry Brown, who is apparently in the pocket of Big Morning.

This probably confuses a lot of people’s narratives: women are having more children than they were a decade ago.

Evidence that the solar cycle affects human lifespan, embryo survival, and number of children, probably because UV affects folate levels. h/t towardsagentlerworld

Commuting by bicycle has gone down over the past few years, at least in part because working from home is finally starting to rise.

no_bear_so_low does research on Google trends, including how left-wing searches are gaining on right-wing searches over time and anxiety-related searches are exploding.

Genomic Prediction launches their flagship product, a test that will assign polygenic scores to embryos and let parents decide which ones to implant. So far only being used for a few specific disorders, but the same technology would work for traits like height or intelligence. Gwern estimates that at current tech level, a process like this could probably gain three IQ points.

Americans with a science PhD can “get a fast track to influencing policy” by applying for the AAAS Science And Technology Fellowship by Nov 1.

NYT uses Facebook data to generate a map of how likely people in any one American county are to have friends in another American county. You could probably do some interesting research on migration patterns with this tool.

A clustering algorithm sorts 50,000 philosophy papers onto a 2D grid to make a map of philosophy. Somebody needs to turn this into sentimental cartography.

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578 Responses to Links 10/18: +1 Insiteful

  1. Allan53 says:

    “Then the murders began.” is a great way to end any recounting of past events.

    • J Mann says:

      Yeah, on my original read, I thought the opening paragraph of Lolita was overdone, until I came to that last sentence, at which point I came on board the “Nabakov is the GOAT” train.

    • ordogaud says:

      My favorite part of the story from the wiki article:

      Hofmann attempted suicide in his cell by taking an overdose of antidepressants. He was revived but not before spending twelve hours lying on his right arm, blocking its circulation, and causing muscle atrophy. His forging hand was thereby permanently disabled.

      Like the universe is writing a moral fable.

  2. Atlas says:

    This month in “nobody has principles”: USA Today on the implications of Kavanaugh: “’Law review editors: brace for a tidal wave of legal academic theories supporting judicial minimalism, Thayerianism, and strong — very strong — theories of precedent. Above all: the Court must do nothing without bipartisan agreement, otherwise it is illegitimate.’ The past half-century’s enthusiasm for judicial activism will vanish, as legal academia turns on a dime to promote theories that will constrain the court until a left-leaning majority returns, at which point they’ll turn on a dime again.” IE when the Court discovers an exciting new way to read the First Amendment as guaranteeing a right to gender-assigned-at-birth-segregated-bathrooms, Democrats will start praising strict originalism, and Republicans will gain a new appreciation of the Constitution as “a living document”.

    I agree that few people, if indeed any people at all, have coherent constitutional legal principles, but this seems more appropriately like a condemnation of the concept of constitutional law and the existence of a constitution to me than a condemnation of everyone all the time.

    The reality is that the values and beliefs one holds about politics will naturally profoundly shape one’s interpretation of the meaning and value of various laws. That’s perfectly natural and understandable; furthermore, in cases where how the law is interpreted has significant material consequences, a adjudicator will feel conflicted if what he sees as the more moral outcome requires on a certain, less plausible interpretation of the law.

    No doubt one could find many academic studies rigorously documenting this, but from a casual perusal of the news it should be clear that very many of the most important Supreme Court rulings of the past 20 years at least have been along close to strict partisan lines. (E.g., Bush v. Gore, Obergefell v. Hodges, Shelby County v. Holder.) This makes a clear mockery of the idea that Supreme Court Justices are “neutral” or “unbiased” arbiters of the law. Obviously, because they are nominated and confirmed by political parties representing certain constituencies and with certain political goals that law is relevant to, they will tend to interpret laws in a way that is desirable for the party that appointed them.

    In essence, many of the issues that the Supreme Court rules on are as much partisan politics as abstract jurisprudence. It’s fine that people have different ideas about political issues; this is problematic not because “nonpartisan” “principled” jurisprudence is a remotely desirable or plausible goal, but because the Supreme Court is a really dumb and arbitrary medium to use to decide political issues.

    We have a system to resolve political disagreements, and it’s called “democracy.” (For better or worse; I’m considering writing a very sympathetic review of Jason Brennan’s book Against Democracy in an OT if I can find the time to do so.) That is to say, we (nominally) believe that different viewpoints should be represented in politics roughly proportionately with the amount of people who have them.

    The Supreme Court does not do this, even though it often significantly impacts politics. Its composition is substantially random and arbitrary, and difficult to change. Of course, to some extent the Court is aware of this and for pragmatic reasons doesn’t attempt to fully exercise its theoretical rights/responsibilities of judicial review, but to me that just further demonstrates the pointlessness of both the Supreme Court and indeed the Constitution itself.

    • Your conclusion might be correct, but the fact that the court divides along partisan lines isn’t inconsistent with the Justices being unbiased arbiters of the law. It could be that they start with different theories of interpretation (original meaning, original understanding, living constitution, …), cluster on which theory they believe in and so cluster in their conclusions about cases.

      The interesting question would be the correlation between how they vote and what is in the political interest of the party by which they were appointed. But that requires case where you can separate the political interest of a party from what that party’s ideology implies, since the ideology might be partly about constitutional interpretation.

      Bush v Gore is one obvious example. Decisions that affect gerrymandering could be another.

      • zzzzort says:

        I recall seeing numbers, which I am now annoyingly unable to find, about how often justices ruled in accordance with amicus briefs from partisan institutions like Heritage or Center for American progress, which could give a more holistic view.

      • Jack says:

        Republican-appointed justices aren’t being partisan, they are ruling in accord with the correct interpretation of the constitution. Democrat-appointed justices don’t even have a fixed concept of the constitution, so have nothing but politics to rule with.

        Or else Democratic-appointed justices aren’t being partisan, they are ruling in accord with the best interpretation of the constitution. Republican-appointed justices hide the hard work of interpretation behind technicalities and mechanistic principles that seek to turn a revolutionary and pragmatic document into a conservative strait-jacket.

        Appointed justices aren’t beholden to their appointers. Appointing parties choose justices with a certain record and justices in some ways are consistent. The appointment can be totally partisan (eg picking the judge with whom we seem to agree most often rather than any attempt to pick the “best” judge) without that saying anything about the principles of the judge themself. The Republican and Democrat criticism of the other party’s appointees is in part that they’ve picked out weird justices–zany wingnut originalists or loony moonbat pragmatists–and this can divide the court into two fringey factions based on theories of the law rather than contemporary political issues.

    • BBA says:

      A few days ago Kevin Drum observed that there are two kinds of constitutions. They can be short and vague and require lots of judicial interpretation, or they can be long and detailed and minimize the role of the courts. This is particularly striking in Norway, which has similar laws and culture to its Nordic neighbors but a much shorter, vaguer constitution, and judicial review is accordingly much more important there than in Sweden.

      I think it’s better to make important points explicit than implicit, and jurists appear to agree, considering how recent constitutions trend towards the long/detailed end of the spectrum. We talk about “legibility” as a bad thing when it overrides folkways, but it’s a very good thing when we can all agree what the law says instead of getting bogged down in interminable exegesis of a 200-year-old text that somehow always agrees with the interpreter’s present-day political views.

      • baconbits9 says:

        Drum also only looks at 5 constitutions and his classification isn’t rigorous. The two short constitutions are 7,000 and 8,000 words and the two longest constitutions are 22,000 words and the 5th one is 13,000 which is closer to the shortest two than to the longer two in terms of total words, but gets classified as long because it falls into the reluctant bin.

        It’s meaningless data, longer doesn’t mean clearer or more detailed for one, and if there is an obvious correlation it looks like people who were using quills and parchment were thriftier with their words than those using typewriters.

        • BBA says:

          Yeah, he’s also missing the crucial distinction between common law (roughly, the English-speaking countries) where courts and precedents have always taken a central role, and civil law (roughly, the rest of the world) where statutes are paramount and courts are much less active. And the ease or difficulty of amending the constitution is also a factor.

          Still, from having read other countries’ constitutions myself, I find Drum’s stance in tune with my own. Elsewhere they have learned from our mistakes and made the answers to major constitutional questions explicit. I wish we could engage in a similar reform, but with our current fractious politics that’s impossible. Besides, ancestor worship is the heart of our civic religion, how dare I imply Madison and Hamilton were anything less than demigods?

          • m.alex.matt says:

            . Besides, ancestor worship is the heart of our civic religion, how dare I imply Madison and Hamilton were anything less than demigods?

            Well, Jefferson had that idea about going through the constitutional adoption process once every twenty years or so to give each new generation a chance to weigh in on what the Constitution should be like.

            Of course, Jefferson isn’t very popular right now. If the left liberal elite could get over their obsession with the crypto-monarchist plutocrat they’re currently drooling over and revive the image of the Sage of Monticello somewhat, maybe we could start having a useful discussion about a Constitutional re-write that doesn’t flip Founder Worship into Founder Loathing.

          • BBA says:

            the crypto-monarchist plutocrat they’re currently drooling over

            Which one do you mean? There are so many…

          • Randy M says:

            Probably the one who seems to have known his way around a rhyming dictionary.

          • mtl1882 says:

            @m.alex.matt Yeah, it wasn’t just Jefferson, but it seems like most of the big leaders at that time expected the constitution to be amended regularly – instead we’ve treated it like a message from God. So both sides are confused on this issue. And we get the whole “it doesn’t apply to modern life, which the founders could not have imagined” argument — they imagined quite a bit, and purposely left a lot of things open for that reason. They just expected it to be changed accordingly. While aspects of codified systems are appealing, I think human life is way too diverse to take that approach. The common law has major issues, but I think it is the best system. It allows change, but change rooted in recognized principles.

      • sandoratthezoo says:

        Superior law! There should be superior law, between constitutional law and ordinary statutory law.

        You could have a short, principled, relatively-easily-understood, hard-to-change Constitution, and then like 5x longer, harder-to-understand-but-still-easier-than-statutory law, harder-to-change-but-not-as-hard-as-Constitutional-Law superior law, then statutory law.

        • Gazeboist says:

          We have this, implicitly, in the hierarchical courts of appeals bound by the precedents of superior courts. There is an issue in that the courts (especially the Supreme Court) are overburdened and thus can’t answer every question that comes up, but the basic idea that the courts build frameworks for figuring out whether a constitutional violation has actually occurred works quite well, as long as it’s allowed to. Problems come up when courts aren’t allowed to review cases. And of course there’s the issue that the system can’t deal with laws that are impossible to follow. There’s also the fact that the amendment process is hard, so the constitution can’t reliably be updated. (Give us a robust and explicit privacy amendment! No more dicta* in statements of civil rights!)

          * I’m probably abusing the term “dicta” a little bit here, but hopefully the lawyers out there get what I mean.

      • moscanarius says:

        Or you can be Brazil, which has an enormous Constitution (~81500 words) that requires constant Court intervention because the 250 articles keep interacting with each other in ways nobody predicted.

        • BBA says:

          Ouch. But “fortunately,” the leading candidate for president of Brazil has promised to overthrow the rule of law and install himself as dictator, so soon they won’t have that particular problem anymore.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            I have not seen any really good reporting on Brazil, despite trying.

            Of course, Brazil is primed for a dictatorial takeover right now so I wouldn’t be surprised. Decades of incompetence and corruption + high crime rates.

          • moscanarius says:

            He hasn’t in fact promised any of that (and I don’t think he will do it if he gets elected – though there is some popular mood for another round of dictatorship).

            It was actually his main opponent (who is not much better) who has been entertaining the idea of having a new Constitution written, but chances of this being reported on mainstream media in English are slim.

            (But that aside, I just brought this up as counterpoint to Kevin Drum. In his model, small Constitutions need a lot of Court intervention and bigger ones need less; but the very biggest ones will need intervention too due to being more prone to self-contradiction and odd interactions. So if you want to minimize Court intervention, you have to aim for a sweet spot in size).

    • tscharf says:

      Lifetime appointments act as a low pass filter on the whims of the electorate, politicians, and groupthink of the moment. It gives more predictability to the system. For example the current academia groupthink would place lots of limits on freedom of speech (hate speech) and approve of some level of equality of outcome quotas based on group identity. Note: I’m sure there is right groupthink as well. It should be clear that trying to push this through today’s SC would be an exercise in futility no matter who has power at the moment. That’s a good thing in my view, we don’t want whiplash changes in fundamental rights.

      • Matt M says:

        Lifetime appointments act as a low pass filter on the whims of the electorate, politicians, and groupthink of the moment.

        In theory.

        In reality, some justices seem to care whether or not the media trashes their name and reputation, and that’s how you get John Roberts declaring that Obamacare is a tax.

      • Yosarian2 says:

        For example the current academia groupthink would place lots of limits on freedom of speech (hate speech)

        I don’t think that’s true; the idea that the government shouldn’t be regulating speech is still pretty deeply entrenched.

        Instead a lot of people go with the theory “it’s only a restriction on free speech if it’s the government doing it” and instead try to pressure big tech companies like Facebook or Google to censor hate speech or foreign propaganda or whatever. Which IMHO is probably going to prove to be a mistake as well but at least it’s a different mistake.

        • Matt M says:

          I don’t think that’s true; the idea that the government shouldn’t be regulating speech is still pretty deeply entrenched.

          No it isn’t. It’s not at all uncommon to catch lefties (including elected officials and journalists) believing that “hate speech” is already illegal and unconstitutional.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Compare flag-burning cases and laws.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            It’s not at all uncommon to catch lefties (including elected officials and journalists) believing that “hate speech” is already illegal and unconstitutional.

            Cite needed.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            In the US? I’ve literally never seen any journalist or academic make that mistake.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            Yeah, we’re going to need a few examples from this year (“not at all uncommon”) of both elected officials and journalists claiming that hate speech is unconstitutional. I’ll be surprised, impressed (with you) and mildly terrified (with the state of the world) if you can manage it, and sort of the opposite in the event that you can’t.

            This one doesn’t count, FWIW, though it’s obviously quite relevant to our discussion.

            I suspect the existence of constitutional protections on speech makes it easier for law-abiding people to talk smack about restricting it.

          • Matt M says:

            I’ve previously cited a few, in real time, as they happened. I haven’t kept a running list though. I’ll continue to point them out when they occur.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            There are also things I like to point out as and when they occur, Matt. The contrast between your initial comment and your ability to back it up when challenged is certainly one of them.

            If you want to fall back to “people on the left, some of them in positions of relative authority, occasionally understate the degree to which [what they call] hate speech is protected under the constitution”, that probably sounds like a supportable assertion, but it would still need some support, you know?

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Out of curiousity I searched “site:slatestarcodex.com “matt m says” “hate speech”” to see what came up. I searched each comment thread with the phrase “hate speech” and the closest example I can find is this comment from 2 years ago:

            It’s not at all uncommon for me to be arguing with people who already believe this is current law. I’d bet you anything that at least one third of Americans under the age of 30 legitimately believe that “hate speech” is not protected by the first amendment.

            Edit: I also regularly get into arguments with people from countries that have onerous hate speech laws who insist “There is absolutely free speech in Britain but part of protecting free speech is ensuring people aren’t victims of hatred”

            which quotes no specific people, much less elected officials and journalists (and I doubt that you are regularly arguing with elected officials, or that there are many elected officials under the age of 30).

            So I’m going to back pdbarnlsey on this one: without some actual examples, this is a completely empty claim.

          • Matt M says:

            Believe what you want. It has certainly happened before, and it will again. When it does, I’ll point it out.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I’m sure it’s true that you can dig up a journalist or elected official who thinks hate speech is illegal. I doubt it’s “not at all uncommon”, but who knows.

            What I know for certain, though, is that you lied to avoid having to provide any evidence for a claim you made, which might be the most informative part of this whole thread.

          • lvlln says:

            The most prominent case of an elected official believing that “hate speech” is unconstitutional that I can think of is Howard Dean’s tweet in April 2017. Note, though, that he wasn’t an elected official at that time, but rather a former elected official. And one example is hardly enough to say it’s “not at all uncommon.”

            I’d say it’s not at all uncommon – in fact, it’s the general consensus – in the circles I mainly run around in (heavily SJW-dominated) for people to take for granted that “hate speech isn’t free speech,” which isn’t exactly the same as saying that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the Constitution, though it would be reasonable to interpret it as such (arguments I hear from these circles tend to be rather imprecise and ambiguous and thus capable of taking on multiple meanings). But I don’t think I’ve run into any prominent journalists or elected officials (other than the Dean example above) who have repeated such lines or anything similar. And in the less SJW and more liberal circles I encounter, it’s certainly not consensus for people to make that error, though it’s not nonexistent.

          • mdet says:

            To back Matt up some — I remember reading this article about a year ago. Cites a CATO poll to say that “a quarter of Americans, 38% of African Americans, and 45% of Latinos erroneously believe it is already illegal to make a racist statement in public”. So Matt is correct that it’s not uncommon to find people who think hate speech is illegal, although citation still needed on “including elected officials and journalists”.

            (The polls generally show that Americans have a mishmash of semi-contradictory ideas on free speech, with large majorities saying things like “it would be hard to ban hate speech because people can’t agree what is hateful” but also “society can prohibit hate speech and protect free speech”.

          • Matt M says:

            For the record, by “including” I meant “this group includes a non-zero amount of politicians and journalists” and not “it is not at all uncommon to find politicians and journalists who think this.”

          • tscharf says:

            44% of students do not believe the first amendment protects hate speech.

            There’s not much difference between Democrats and Republicans in this survey. It would be nice if the academy made an effort to clear up this misunderstanding, but I don’t think they are motivated to do so.

          • “hate speech” is unconstitutional

            That isn’t what Dean (mistakenly) claimed and probably not what Matt originally meant, although it was what he claimed other people believed.

            If hate speech was unconstitutional, that would make it illegal—the Constitution is law. What Dean was claiming was that hate speech was not protected by the Constitution, hence that a law forbidding it would not be unconstitutional.

          • Gazeboist says:

            “Hate speech is aconstitutional”, perhaps.

          • Matt M says:

            That isn’t what Dean (mistakenly) claimed and probably not what Matt originally meant

            I meant the two as interchangeable, as I think most people do. But I see your technical point that this is not necessarily the case.

    • MoebiusStreet says:

      from a casual perusal of the news it should be clear that very many of the most important Supreme Court rulings of the past 20 years at least have been along close to strict partisan lines

      I think this is mostly the picture the media paints for us. In reality it’s a LOT closer than you’d think:

      The ratio is staggering. According to the Supreme Court Database, since 2000 a unanimous decision has been more likely than any other result — averaging 36 percent of all decisions. Even when the court did not reach a unanimous judgment, the justices often secured overwhelming majorities, with 7-to-2 or 8-to-1 judgments making up about 15 percent of decisions. The 5-to-4 decisions, by comparison, occurred in 19 percent of cases.

      And the court’s commitment to consensus does not appear to be slowing. In the 2016-17 term, 57 percent of decisions were unanimous, and judgments with slim majorities (5 to 3 or 5 to 4) accounted for 14 percent. This term shows a similar trend. Surprisingly firm majorities issued some of the most anticipated decisions. (link to source)

      and

      One popular school of thought holds that the Supreme Court is by now effectively a political institution, that Democratic appointees on the Court sit there with the purpose of enacting Democratic policies and Republican appointees intend to enact Republican policies. …

      This school of thought is wrong. It is not merely normatively wrong — as if there were no benefit in having a stable, democratically established basis for law — but wrong as a descriptive account of how the Supreme Court operates. The Supreme Court is at times partisan, and the most hot-button issues do tend to produce 5–4 or 6–3 votes, but the vast majority of cases before the Supreme Court hinge on complicated cases of law that require the full expertise of the justices. Many of these cases are decided unanimously. In fact, a surprising number of politically contentious cases are decided unanimously or close to unanimously.

      The most recent term, in fact, was the least partisan since the middle of the 20th century. Over half of the cases were unanimous, and only 14 percent were decided by a 5–3 or 5–4 split. To some degree, this can be attributed to the fact that the Court had only eight justices for much of the term, meaning the justices had to work to avoid tie votes, or to the relatively inconsequential roster of cases the Court dealt with. But even in a more typical term, approximately 80 percent of votes are in support of the majority opinion, and only about 20 percent of cases are determined narrowly. The 5–4 cases that get national attention are in fact somewhat anomalous. (link to source)

      • watsonbladd says:

        Most supreme court cases are statutory interpretation cases where there is a circuit split. Then there are tax cases, and cases involving native Americans. The really important cases involving constitutional law are much, much rarer.

    • aristides says:

      You say the last 20 years, and that is revealing. Look at this list of important supreme court cases. Of the 13 before 2000, only 2 were along party lines. Of the 8 since, only one was not on party lines. That shows that the constitution isn’t flawed, our current politics are. No constitution can protect the people from themselves.

      My personal belief, with a conservative bias, is that the liberal realest interpretation side started this devide. For decades liberal law professors preached to the students that judges should decide what is the right outcome, then write a ruling that supports it. This percolated through the left judiciary and academia. Then the right created their originalist counter movement that justices should interpret the constitution as it was originally intended, which would also advance conservative interests. Now in 2018, we have the first bench of 5 originalists and 4 realests, so we are going to see even more split decisions. (Technically, Roberts and Alito are hard to classify as originalists, but it basically works that way). In the old days when justices did not have clear ideologies, they could listen to any amicus brief and decide based on the particular facts. But once you embrace a specific ideology, you get pressured to stay with it, and the amicus briefs by your side, no matter the outcome. Otherwise you are a hypocrite, one of the worse things you can call a justice. See Scalia in his drug cases.

      • Yea, this. The total-cases statistics seem pretty silly in this context. In terms of either popular attention/interest or real-world significance (granting that those two criteria overlap far from perfectly), SCOTUS cases are obviously not created even slightly equally. A “Kelo” or “Roe” or “Bush v Gore” or “Obergfell” has the heft of many of those unanimous rulings put together.

  3. benquo says:

    Probably they used a different translation tool, since Google Translate doesn’t seem to offer an Aramaic option. (Some evidence that they use angels.)

  4. Atlas says:

    Ron Unz did a lot of interesting work on both sides of the political spectrum, and you may have cached that he’s a guy with some heterodox opinions but still pretty thoughtful. I was disappointed to learn that he’s now gone totally off the deep end into Holocaust denial and other related beliefs; this article gives a good bio and summary. This scares me because I don’t know how it happened; I often see people I respect in one domain having otherwise crazy opinions, but for some reason it’s worse when I can watch it happening in real time.

    Well, I’m not sure if this is cause for comfort or not, but my impression from reading a lot of Unz’s published writings and (even more revealing) comments on blogs like iSteve and Information Processing over the past couple years is that he developed many of his more insane delusional unorthodox ideas quite a long time ago, but kept quiet about them in public because he wanted to maintain some veneer of respectability. (I think he’s tried to run for a Senate seat in California once or twice. Also, trust me, some of the stuff he says in comments sections is way crazier than anything he published in American Pravda.) But for whatever reason, he just decided it was time to let his freak flag fly this summer.

    According to Unz, he’s been really busy with software development work, and hasn’t had a lot of time to write. But he seems to have taken the summer off to research and write up various out-there ideas. So it’s not like, he just randomly pivoted from believing in milquetoast stuff like English-only education to believing in 9/11 trutherism/Holocaust denial/Kennedy assassination conspiracies this year.

  5. anonymousskimmer says:

    How did hundreds of Greek people get to a remote part of Tibet and die there en masse in the eight-century AD? Wikipedia discusses the mystery.

    Wikipedia says the Greek group is only about 200 years old.

    Genome-wide DNA study of skeletons from Roopkund by Harney et al. 2018 revealed that the skeletons belonged to two-distinct groups, one group is composed of individuals with broadly South-Asian related ancestry from 9th CE[12] and the second group is composed of individuals from 200 years ago with genetic affinity with east mediterraneans.[13]

    Though both groups, ~1000 years apart, died from hail.

    • johan_larson says:

      The Greek skeletons don’t seem that mysterious. They could have been wealthy tourists or maybe explorers from Europe during the early nineteenth century who went to study or just gawk at a local attraction that was already famous and got caught in the same sort of storm that killed the earlier group.

    • Levantine says:

      genetic affinity with east mediterraneans.

      It could be traders with close genetic ties with the Levant or the Black Sea region.

      Disappearance of Europeans, especially if they were wealthy or missionaries, would have likely been documented in 19C Europe => the mystery would have been already solved.

  6. Plumber says:

    “….The partisan makeup of different occupations. Note the consistent pattern where professions that manipulate the physical world are conservative and professions that manipulate ideas are liberal (in a way that doesn’t seem to depend entirely on skills or salary). Also note how rare centrists are compared to partisans, even partisans of the side opposite the industry’s bias….”

    @Scott Alexander,

    One thing that struck me about the link is that in two jobs classifications that I’ve worked (Civil Servants and Residential Construction) the one that is more unionized is the more “left” one.

  7. Democrats can’t really argue for judicial restraint because it would mean that Roe vs Wade and Obergefell vs Hodges were mistakes.

    • SamChevre says:

      And, most critically, three of the five or so big Warren Court decisions were mistakes. (Brown, Sullivan, and Abingdon Township).

      • qwints says:

        I’m genuinely curious how you remembered Abingdon Township for Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963). The full party name is SCHOOL DISTRICT OF ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL. per the United States Reports. “Abingdon Township” appears exactly once in my search of federal cases, in People v. Steele, 333 NYS 2d 959, a New York criminal case involving involving nuns “‘lying in the center aisle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral during a high mass” in 1972 which apparently had something to do with Vatican II. A quick search doesn’t show anyone calling it “Abington Township” for short, usually just “Abington” or “Abington School District.”

        • SamChevre says:

          No idea how I (mis)-remembered it that way. I was in too big a hurry to google it, Note to self: posting when in a hurry is not a good idea.

      • g says:

        In case anyone’s wondering:

        Brown: Brown v Board of Education. The decision was to ban racial segregation in US public schools.

        Sullivan: New York Times Co versus Sullivan. The decision was that press reports about public officials can’t be libellous unless “actual malice” is involved, regarded as one of the key rulings supporting freedom of the press as presently understood in the US.

        Abingdon Township: Abington School District v. Schempp. The decision was that it is unconstitutional for a state government to mandate that public school pupils participate in religious activities.

        I am not certain whether I’ve understood SamChevre’s comment correctly; I think he is saying not that those decisions were actually mistakes, but that a strong principle of judicial restraint would require one to regard them as mistakes.

        (Personally, I would rather wait until we actually see the prophesied deluge of articles arguing that the Supreme Court “must not do anything without bipartisan agreement” before the hand-wringing about the hypocrisy of leftists begins. And I’d have more sympathy for such complaints if the political allies of the people making them had abstained from similar hypocrisy themselves.)

        • Personally, I would rather wait until we actually see the prophesied deluge of articles arguing that the Supreme Court “must not do anything without bipartisan agreement” before the hand-wringing about the hypocrisy of leftists begins.

          On the other hand, making the prediction now will provide us evidence about whether the model of leftist behavior that generates it is accurate or not.

          • brmic says:

            Not if it isn’t formulated as a testable prediction. Preferably one that has a real chance of turning out wrong.
            It’s trivially true that some people will turn out to be unprincipled. So on that level you need to name names or specify what constitutes a deluge.
            One level above, you have the problem that editors decide what gets published, so that you can have different people writing the op-eds pre and post and an editor saying they’re just in it for the clicks (or following the incentives) and your model of columnist behaviour is not applicable because the columnists are no longer the same.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            I think it’s generally true that people care more about issues than about procedural reasons to get those issues. For example “conservatives care about state’s rights unless those states want to do liberal things like legalize marijuana or net neutrality or tighten emission standards.”

            I think in general most people are more interested in results than have strong opinions on which vaguely and inconsistently defined theory of jurisprudence they support.

          • cryptoshill says:

            Conservatives absolutely care about states rights. To give you an example – a larger number of them will defect from making “illegalizing marijuana” a national policy than Democrats will defect from “legalizing discrimination against white people by universities”. Sure – I would argue that *less conservatives* will make the states-rights argument for marijuana legalization, but it’s still nonzero.

            Similarly , Democrats are definitely against the use of violence (police use of force, etc etc) but are willing to wink and nod at Antifa. However, the number of Democrats that are willing to slam Antifa is nonzero because even though they support Blue Tribe principles, there are a nonzero number of principled Blue Tribers who won’t just support any random group because they’re fighting the outgroup.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      They also can’t argue for judicial activism because it would mean that those decisions are only weakly binding at best. Yet here we are.

    • Matt M says:

      Um, call me crazy, but I seem to have observed a whole lot of political partisans arguing in favor of a certain thing even though it is seemingly inconsistent with positions they have taken in the past!

    • John Schilling says:

      Judicial restraint means that a sufficiently old mistake is nonetheless established law that the courts should refrain from meddling with.

      • albatross11 says:

        John Schilling: Isn’t that basically the whole point of precedent?

        • Simulated Knave says:

          Precedent is an attempt to have consistency. Consistency is good only to a point. Bad decisions can and should be revisited, and even good decisions are worth revisiting if standards have changed. The morals and expectations of today are not those of the eighteenth or nineteenth century. Things get revisited accordingly. That’s not a bad thing.

          If a court never revisits precedent, you are completely reliant on the legislature to update things. Legislatures do not do that quickly or effectively.

          It’s a balancing act. Law’s an art, not a science.

          • Aapje says:

            @Simulated Knave

            Isn’t it primarily the job of the legislature to bring law in line with changed viewpoints? In a (well functioning) democracy, the opinions of the legislature reflects the viewpoints of the current populace.

          • AG says:

            @Aapje
            But currently, what few laws do get passed by the legislature are instantly mired in legal challenges. People are using precedence to browbeat new legislative action.

          • Aapje says:

            But it’s absurd to demand that new laws should follow precedent, because the very reason to make a new law is to change something.

            If the judiciary blocks all laws proposed by the legislature that they dislike for political reasons, based on the claim that they violate precedent; but allow new laws that they like and/or creatively interpret existing laws to change precedent, then I would call that a coup by the judiciary.

            The American political system is increasingly becoming a farce, where the emperor has no clothes, but everyone pretends:
            – ‘We uphold the constitution, by creatively interpreting it’
            – ‘We have a separation of powers, except that many of the powers of the legislature have been shifted to the executive, the judiciary is ‘discovering’ legislation that was secretly hidden in existing laws and the constitution, leaving actual legislature so weak that no longer acts to check and balance the other powers.’
            – ‘Lets decide who to give huge power to interpret the constitution by figuring out whether the candidate lied about making a lewd comment in his yearbook 35 years ago’

          • Simulated Knave says:

            @Aapje:

            In theory, yes, that’s what legislatures are for. In practice, they’re bloody bad at it. Legislatures don’t mind screwing over minorities, the vulnerable, or just not bothering to fix things that are important but politically risky or difficult.

            A Canadian example: the Criminal Code is LITTERED with a ton of stuff that has been held to be unconstitutional. But the legislature doesn’t bother doing anything about it. They just…leave it. But we’ve got a whole bunch of multiply-decimal-pointed subsections to deal with edge-case terrorism warrants. Because that was just so URGENT (it wasn’t).

            There was a guy who accidentally got convicted of murder because the lawyers and judge didn’t realize the section they were referring to had been struck as unconstitutional. People get charged with stuff that is no longer legal to charge them with. Etc. The legislature…ignores it.

            Legislatures are, unfortunately, not actually that good at lawmaking. They’re OK at trying to use law to solve problems. They are not great at maintaining existing laws or removing laws once problems are dealt with.

            I mean, hell, it’s an offence under provincial legislation in Manitoba to have dandelions on your lawn. Nobody fixes it. We just ignore it.

          • Lambert says:

            That’s what constitutions, as separate from normal legislature, is for.
            Precedent (judiciary) < Statute (legislature) < Constitutional law (as interpreted by the judiciary)

    • BBA says:

      I always had a soft spot for Felix Frankfurter, the left’s most celebrated practitioner of judicial restraint, who quickly became the left’s most despised practitioner of judicial restraint. Respect for the elected branches of the government is all well and good when it’s the New Deal you’re upholding, not so hot when it’s a requirement to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school and you’re saying it’s just dandy to convict Jehovah’s Witnesses children for staying seated. Yeah, I can see why the left went more towards the crusading activists like Warren and Brennan and Ginsburg, but Frankfurter stuck to his principles and I have to respect that a little.

      • engleberg says:

        His dad’s work for Hummel and Howe left Frankfurter with a lot of practical experience in what the law can get away with.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      The argument isn’t for judicial constraint. The argument is for governmental restraint on rights retained by the people, and equality before the law.

  8. Anonymous Bosch says:

    This month in “nobody has principles”, USA Today on the implications of Kavanaugh: “’Law review editors: brace for a tidal wave of legal academic theories supporting judicial minimalism, Thayerianism, and strong — very strong — theories of precedent. Above all: the Court must do nothing without bipartisan agreement, otherwise it is illegitimate.’ The past half-century’s enthusiasm for judicial activism will vanish, as legal academia turns on a dime to promote theories that will constrain the court until a left-leaning majority returns, at which point they’ll turn on a dime again.” IE when the Court discovers an exciting new way to read the First Amendment as guaranteeing a right to gender-assigned-at-birth-segregated-bathrooms, Democrats will start praising strict originalism, and Republicans will gain a new appreciation of the Constitution as “a living document”.

    Things less interesting than an accusation of unprincipledness:

    A preemptive accusation of unprincipledness.

    A preemptive accusation of unprincipledness made by Adrian Vermuele.

    A preemptive accusation of unprincipledness made by Adrian Vermuele as though he didn’t co-write his book on judicial deference with … Eric Posner, a liberal.

    • Galle says:

      I’m a liberal and I’m totally willing to admit that liberals are going to be unprincipled about this.

      Hell, I’m going to be unprincipled about this. This is an illegitimate Supreme Court and I see no reason to give them the same respect I’d give a legitimate one. Cooperating is stupid when you know that the other side’s strategy is “always defect”.

      • cassander says:

        I’m curious what about this court you think is illegitimate?

        • Galle says:

          Primarily the fact that Gorsuch is on it instead of Garland – that was only achieved as a result of the Red Tribe defecting in the prisoner’s dilemma while the Blue Tribe cooperated.

          I’m not a huge fan of Kavanaugh, either, and I think there should have been a much more serious investigation into the accusations before he was confirmed, but the Garland-Gorsuch fiasco is a much bigger issue when it comes to the Supreme Court’s legitimacy.

          • that was only achieved as a result of the Red Tribe defecting in the prisoner’s dilemma while the Blue Tribe cooperated.

            How did the Blue Tribe cooperate? They didn’t have the votes to block Gorsuch.

            Insofar as there was an old rule, it was that the President got to appoint justices as long as they were not clearly disqualified, where “disagree with the views of a majority of senators” did not qualify as a disqualification. That rule broke down at least as early as the campaign against Bork.

            Perhaps someone who knows the history better than I do can sum up past cases where the president proposed someone for the court and the other party had a majority of the Senate seats.

          • Nornagest says:

            Perhaps someone who knows the history better than I do can sum up past cases where the president proposed someone for the court and the other party had a majority of the Senate seats.

            You probably know the history better than I do, but Wikipedia summarizes this in their list of Supreme Court nominations. The last three were all under Reagan and Bush I, and immediately followed Bork: Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas. Before that, Stevens was appointed under Ford, and before that, Nixon appointed Burger, Blackmun, and Powell (and nominated Haynsworth and Carswell, who were rejected 44-55 and 45-51 respectively). There’s a few under Eisenhower too, but none before that until 1895.

            Except for Clarence Thomas, all of the approvals above enjoyed large majorities. Several were unanimous. That starts changing in the 90s or 2000s, though: Kennedy was the last unanimous vote, Ginsburg the last near-unanimous one, and no justice after Roberts got more than 68 votes in favor. After that it looks more like the 1800s, although data is spotty. Might be a point in favor of the idea that we’re reverting to an older style of partisan interaction.

          • If I read the table correctly, Clarence Thomas in 1991 was the last Supreme Court candidate to be confirmed by a senate controlled by the party that didn’t hold the White House and that was on a 52-48 vote after a lot of controversy.

          • Nornagest says:

            That’s my reading too. But it might be worth mentioning that Souter had been confirmed 90-9 the previous year, also by a Senate in opposition.

          • The comparison between the Souter case and the Thomas case suggests that it was the Democrats who defected from the existing pattern, went from routinely confirming a justice proposed by a Republican president to attempting, the first time unsuccessfully, to block one. Of course, one might argue that the Republicans defected from a pattern of proposing justices the Democrats would have little reason to object to–checking that conjecture would require a more detailed picture.

          • cassander says:

            @Galle

            The senate has the right to refuse to give its consent. It did so with Garland. I fail to see how that de-legitimizes the entire court. Did the the rejection of Harriet Miers (also achieved without a vote) de-legitimize it?

          • Nornagest says:

            The comparison between the Souter case and the Thomas case suggests that it was the Democrats who defected from the existing pattern…

            Sure, but why? That’s an awfully big difference for one year.

            I’m less interested here in finding someone to blame and more interested in figuring out what drives these highly partisan cases. Wikipedia-level reading suggests that Thomas’s confirmation fight had something to do with the fact that he was replacing Thurgood Marshall, but then again Souter was also replacing a liberal justice. The Anita Hill affair’s an obvious difference, but it sounds like the Senate was gearing up for a partisan fight even before that.

            Haynsworth and Carswell both seem to have been rejected on civil rights grounds.

          • cassander says:

            @Nornagest

            It’s worth remembering that from 1932 to 1980, the senate was controlled by the democrats for all but 4 years. the only two years of a republican president and senate saw no supreme court vacancies, so there simply weren’t opportunities for big partisan fights over the court, democratic control was just a fact of life.

          • Galle says:

            How did the Blue Tribe cooperate? They didn’t have the votes to block Gorsuch.

            The Blue Tribe cooperated, in this particular case, by nominating Garland, who the Red Tribe had specifically said they would accept as a Supreme Court Justice.

          • g says:

            @cassander The comparison with Miers is a bit strange. I mean, sure, you can describe the Miers and Garland cases in a way that makes them sound similar, but only by missing out a whole lot of relevant facts.

            Miers was clearly unqualified to sit on the Supreme Court, and her nomination was met with immediate strong bipartisan opposition (on that ground and also because she was felt to have excessively close ties to the president). It was withdrawn before the Senate hearings would have begun, presumably because it was clear that it would be rejected by a large margin.

            Garland was clearly qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, and seems to have been a strong candidate on two previous occasions. He was not strongly partisan (he’d probably have been the median justice on the SCOTUS if appointed). So far as I can tell, Republican senators’ opposition to him was purely political: their only problems with him were (1) that he was further left than they wanted and (2) that he was nominated by Obama.

            The last three times a Supreme Court justice was nominated by a president of one party while the other party controlled the Senate were Clarence Thomas (1991), David Souter (1990), and Anthony Kennedy (1988). In all those cases, it was a Republican president and a Democratic senate, and in all those cases the nominee was confirmed. It was a close thing in Thomas’s case, of course, and the time before *that* was Robert Bork who wasn’t confirmed. But there’s a clear precedent here: the Senate gives any credible nominee a fair hearing, and generally confirms the nomination. Between Thomas and Garland, though, something changed radically, and it became a matter of pure power politics. A Republican-controlled senate will confirm any nominee of a Republican president, and reject any nominee of a Democratic president. (Would a Democratic-controlled senate do the same, these days? I guess so, if only on the grounds that the other side is clearly playing “always defect” and so they might as well do likewise.)

            And that makes it much harder to see the Supreme Court as anything other than a product of partisan politics, a mere echo of who held political power when its members were appointed. I think that was much less so in the past. So, yeah, I think this impairs its legitimacy a bit. (Only a bit. Since SC appointments are made by the president and confirmed by the Senate, they are inevitably political products to some extent. But it seems like there used to be more willingness to compromise in order to appoint justices who were broadly acceptable and highly qualified.)

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            But there’s a clear precedent here: the Senate gives any credible nominee a fair hearing

            A Supreme Court nominee, that is. As with the discarding of the filibuster, this particular escalation was tried out first on lower-level judicial nominees; denying them hearings for political reasons goes back to (IIRC) 2001.

          • g says:

            @Paul Zrimsek

            Interesting! Actually, the idea seems to go back at least to … a certain Joe Biden, who in 1992 argued that GHWB shouldn’t nominate a Supreme Court justice, should a vacancy arise, in the immediate runup to an election, and that the Senate should seriously consider not holding hearings if they did.

            That does make it less clear that the Republicans’ behaviour in the Garland case is mere naked self-interested power politics, though of course it could be that Biden was unprincipled in 1992 and McConnell unprincipled in the exact same way in 2016.

            There’s one difference that might matter: Biden was speaking somewhat later in the year, about a hypothetical vacancy that would necessarily be later still. One could consistently hold that with an election in November it would be wrong to submit a nomination in, say, September but not in March.

            Regardless, I don’t think I can agree with either Biden_1992 or McConnell_2016.

          • cassander says:

            @G

            I don’t deny that there’s been a continual escalation of how openly partisan court nominations are since, roughly, bork. Where I object is to the sacralization of hearings as if they themselves were anything but political theater, or treating the senate’s refusal to vote on an issue as meaningfully different from voting it down. We both know why democrats wanted hearings in garland’s case, so they could parade how moderate he was and try to shame republicans into voting for him, to force republicans to take a vote that they might want to take. And that’s precisely why garland didn’t have a hearing, because there were plenty of republicans that agreed with what Mcconnell was doing, but didn’t want to have to go on record as voting for it. That sort of positioning is the meat and potatoes of how parliamentary politics works.

            I’ve run into plenty of people that said something like “hey, if they’d voted garland down, that would be one thing…” I’ve always thought that was bullshit. If Garland had been voted down, the left would have talked about show hearings with just as much scorn as they did no hearings. The hearings don’t matter, what matters is that the senate said no to someone purely because he was from the other side. And frankly, I think the fact that the that republicans did it first is largely a coincidence. Roberts was the last nominee to get substantial support from the opposition party, and I think that it Souter had been hit by a bus in 2008, the same drama would have played out with the parties and arguments reversed.

          • Matt M says:

            Roberts was the last nominee to get substantial support from the opposition party

            Which seems to have worked out fine for them, given that he defected to the left on Obamacare.

  9. Sniffnoy says:

    Pretty sure the Aramaic thing was done entirely by hand (and possibly is fake, i.e., having no Aramaic involved) — how else would an L turn into a Gamma?

    Also arrrrrgh the Luke Muehlhauser link’s bit about utilitarianism contains basic confusions, conflating decision-theoretic utility with E-utility! (And thereby implicitly consequentialism in general with utilitarianism in specific.) Luke Muehlhauser! You are better than this! You should not be getting this wrong! Welp, guess I better go comment over there and explain this at length yet again

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Correction: I was mistaken here about Luke Muehlhauser’s post. It does not in fact seem to have gotten the two mixed up, when read carefully. (I still think it should be clearer about the distinction though, because, well.)

  10. Atlas says:

    The partisan makeup of different occupations. Note the consistent pattern where professions that manipulate the physical world are conservative and professions that manipulate ideas are liberal (in a way that doesn’t seem to depend entirely on skills or salary). Also note how rare centrists are compared to partisans, even partisans of the side opposite the industry’s bias.

    I hope this doesn’t get construed as inflammatory, because I am saying that I DON’T want this to happen. But my takeaway from this is that, if you’re a cynical partisan Red Triber, you could attack the Blue Tribe by saying something like, “Us virtuous Red Tribers do positive things, often with our hands, in the competitive private sector, where we create value, like being miners, construction workers, surgeons and truckers. (And if we work in the government, like law enforcement or the military, it’s in a risk-taking and manly way.) Whereas those no-good Blue Tribers are parasites who work in the bloated noncompetitive public sector or wasteful ‘private’ sector fields like law that are closely tied to the government and regulation. They work in fields like law, education and media that are based on verbal sophistry and are mostly useless.”

    I’m just worried about this because I feel like in reality attacking your opponent’s character is usually as or more decisive as attacking their ideas. (Nassim Taleb has inaugurated the age of “do you even lift, bro?” being considered a valid line of attack in a political debate.) So if I was a partisan political hack, if I wanted to win people to my side, I wouldn’t bother with the merits of the issues, I would try to find unflattering but at least somewhat accurate sociological/anthropological observations about the “enemy team”, and find humorous/cruel ways to keep repackaging them.

    • idontknow131647093 says:

      This is known as the “priests and grifters” critique.

      • Atlas says:

        Could you elaborate? I’d never heard the term before, and a cursory Google search didn’t seem to provide any clarifying links.

        • idontknow131647093 says:

          There is an idea in some areas of human evolutionary biology that is somewhat niche that says that there have been various types of evolutionary strategies employed by humans. Some gained competitive advantage by being great farmers or great hunters. Others, who were less well suited for such tasks took to other strategies. Those were typically things like being a priest or shaman who gets people to pay them for salvation from damnation. Another class of these would be grifters who trick people out of money.

    • Nootropic cormorant says:

      I don’t see what’s so cynical about this. Surely one’s mode of living exerts great pressure on one’s ideas and winning political power helps reproduce these ideas, virtues accompanying them, subsequent life decisions and corresponding modes of living.

      • Atlas says:

        I don’t see what’s so cynical about this. Surely one’s mode of living exerts great pressure on one’s ideas and winning political power helps reproduce these ideas, virtues accompanying them, subsequent life decisions and corresponding modes of living.

        Of course. But I would contend the personal life of interlocutor is irrelevant to the veracity of the argument they’re making. Nonetheless, arguments in the public sphere are often conducted by trying to discredit the people making an argument rather than the facts or logic of the argument itself. In my view, these attacks are usually intellectually lazy and unproductive (in terms of arriving at the truth, at least.)

        That is to say, people often have great fun speculating about what personal defects cause their opponents to disagree with them, as opposed to explaining why their opponents are wrong to disagree with them. This, not honest and fair minded exploration of how, as you put it, modes of living and political beliefs interact—which is a very interesting and useful thing to study—is what I object to.

        • no one special says:

          That is to say, people often have great fun speculating about what personal defects cause their opponents to disagree with them, as opposed to explaining why their opponents are wrong to disagree with them.

          This is the original example of “logical rudeness.” Treating your interlocutor as an example to be examined and not a peer to be spoken with.

    • Matt M says:

      Uh, this is already very much a theme that has existed in right-wing spaces for at least 10+ years.

      I know that when a red tribe politician talks about “real Americans” the left-wing (and therefore establishment media) spin is that they must mean “white males.” What they actually mean is “a blue collar person who works with their hands.”

      • Atlas says:

        To some extent. But I feel like Facebook/Twitter meme tier Boomer conservatism is at least sometimes based on incorrect observations: for instance, that liberals are unemployed or on public assistance, which is simply not a very cutting attack because college-educated, politically active white liberals are not often unemployed or on welfare. (If the attack was explicitly on ethnic minorities who vote for the Democratic Party, it would make more sense, but it rarely is.)

        Whereas I feel like I don’t see as many memes/jokes about (white, college educated) liberals not working with their hands, not having valuable jobs, etc., which would seem to be a more effective line of attack. (Nassim Taleb’s writings about “IYIs” are an example of what I mean.)

        • Matt M says:

          If the attack was explicitly on ethnic minorities who vote for the Democratic Party, it would make more sense, but it rarely is.

          I think those specific sorts of attacks are certainly meant to imply that, but either self-censored for plausible deniability of the inevitable “racist!” charge, or censored literally in the sense that if you make such an attack on social media and directly mention race, you probably will have the post deleted and will likely be hit with an account suspension as well.

          Whereas I feel like I don’t see as many memes/jokes about (white, college educated) liberals not working with their hands

          What do you think the point of the term “soyboy” is? There are, by definition, no soyboys working construction jobs.

          • The Nybbler says:

            One difference is that “soyboy” isn’t about jobs, but an insult aimed at physical fitness and presumed low-testosterone. There’s no soyboys in construction, but there are non-soyboys working in law.

            I suspect that those who hold the blue-collar views about “real labor” are in general either not getting into political arguments on Twitter and Facebook, or manage to do it in ways which aren’t visible to SSC readers.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            Yea, but the tough construction worker rarely has a beef with the attorney who lifts, bro. In fact, a lawyer who lifts is significantly more likely to be libertarian or republican.

        • Aapje says:

          @Atlas

          “Ivory towers”

      • Clarence says:

        This was talked about on this very blog. They mean the Left’s outgroup is the Right.

        http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/

        Every election cycle like clockwork, conservatives accuse liberals of not being sufficiently pro-America. And every election cycle like clockwork, liberals give extremely unconvincing denials of this.

        “It’s not that we’re, like, against America per se. It’s just that…well, did you know Europe has much better health care than we do? And much lower crime rates? I mean, come on, how did they get so awesome? And we’re just sitting here, can’t even get the gay marriage thing sorted out, seriously, what’s wrong with a country that can’t…sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, America. They’re okay. Cesar Chavez was really neat. So were some other people outside the mainstream who became famous precisely by criticizing majority society. That’s sort of like America being great, in that I think the parts of it that point out how bad the rest of it are often make excellent points. Vote for me!”

        I was an Obama voter, and I have proud memories of spending my Fourth of Julys as a kid debunking people’s heartfelt emotions of patriotism.

        • Galle says:

          To be fair, there’s (recently?) been a development of genuinely heartfelt patriotism on the part of the Blue Tribe that’s rooted in basically just declaring that no, actually, the Blue Tribe are the Real Americans. Look for people who have strong opinions about the difference between “patriotism” and “nationalism”.

          • Matt M says:

            Yeah, the memes showing photos of D-Day with captions like “Anti-fascists disrupting a gathering of white supremacists” are definitely of a sort of tone and mindset that seems relatively new, as far as the left is concerned.

            Although watching them attempt to reconcile this with the wing that prefers comments like “America was never great” and protest chants like “No borders, no wall, no USA at all” will be interesting.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            @Matt M- see the man at the recent Portland counter-protests (against Patriot Prayer/ Proud Boys) who was beaten up by antifa for carrying an American flag.

            Link to local media story here

          • Matt M says:

            AlphaGamma,

            I’m aware of the story. I guess my point is that I’m not sure if 10 years ago, a left-wing person would have even thought to bring an American flag to a left-wing protest (as the victim in this case was and did).

    • 123123 says:

      How much of the partisan split in occupations is just due to a gender split in occupations?

      • Atlas says:

        I don’t know, but in general the marriage gap is much more important than the gender gap.

        • Matt M says:

          Indeed. The notion that women in general are some hugely overwhelming and reliable base for the Democratic party is a myth, perpetuated by the Democratic party.

      • Anthony says:

        I noticed that many of the most conservative occupations are those which are being (or have been recently) targeted by government regulation in ways which will hurt the incumbents (often without benefit to new entrants). Gas stations, energy companies, doctors, coal mining, insurance, tobacco, etc. All of those are the target of Democrat party proposals to regulate them.

        But then, I saw dentists way over on the right, too.

    • Tenacious D says:

      re: professions that manipulate ideas being liberal

      This really stands out to me with respect to climate change. The whole government-academic-NGO-media complex seems to regard plans and agreements as accomplishments (for example, this ad from a few years ago which I find really cringy). Whereas I would put the focus more on verified emission reductions or the successful execution of major renewable energy projects–which requires manipulations in the physical world. Environmental messaging that alienates Red (or Grey) Tribers is counterproductive because they have a lot of the skills that solutions require.

      • Matt M says:

        I think there might be something to this.

        I recall a whole lot of outright celebration from the left upon the signing of Obamacare, and not just of the “we got a win against our political opponents” variety but of the “we just saved millions of people from dying due to lack of health care” variety. The fact that a promise to do X was made was treated as the equivalent of X being accomplished.

        Contrast this with say, how the right would react if a “comprehensive immigration bill” promising stricter border security was signed. I don’t think the right would celebrate as if a bunch of illegal immigration had actually been prevented. A much more cynical “I’ll believe you when the wall is built” attitude would prevail. Ann Coulter regularly provides “BORDER WALL CONSTRUCTION UPDATES” on Twitter (Miles completed today: Zero. Miles completed year-to-date: Zero.)

        • Garrett says:

          This is one reason why I encourage changing the law to make it easier/possible for individuals to enforce the law without the agents of the State being present. This way, if an administration decides that a certain element of the law is undesirable, if the people still consider it worthwhile, they can enforce it themselves.

          • ana53294 says:

            That would also mean feminists acting as prosecutors for rape cases the State’s Attorney’s Office refuses to prosecute, though.

            Or BLM prosecuting every police killing prosecutors don’t.

            I am not sure you want to go down the rabbit hole of citizens organizations hiring lawyers acting as prosecutors for the laws they think prosecutors don’t prosecute enough of. Sure, more migrants get caught, but it would cut both ways of the culture war.

          • Lambert says:

            Sounds like a good way to abuse double jeopardy.
            An individual who is secretly sympathetic to the defendant can sneak in and prosecute incompetently, blocking anyone else from prosecuting again later.

          • Private prosecution is the normal arrangement at present in tort law–you call a lawyer, not a cop.

            In England in the 18th century it was the normal arrangement for criminal law. The case was in the form of the crown vs the defendant but it was the victim or someone acting for him, or in principle anyone else, who actually prosecuted.

            Because it was in the form of the crown vs the defendant the crown could still pardon. But there was a legal form, an appeal of felony, which was an entirely private criminal case, which meant the crown could not pardon a convicted criminal defendant. By the 18th century it was mostly out of use but still existed in the law, and there was at least one prominent case where two murderers were pardoned and opponents attempted unsuccessfully to use the appeal of felony to get them.

            I discuss it in my Legal Systems book, which should be out pretty soon—I’m in the stage now of tidying up the format of the bibliography and the footnotes and the like. And I still have to design a cover.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            In response to David Friedman’s post- In England it is still possible and not hugely rare for individuals to bring private prosecutions, though the Crown Prosecution Service (the usual state prosecutors) have the right to take over a private prosecution and discontinue it.

            As far as appeals of felony go, the weirdest thing about that is that it was the last situation in which trial by battle was available. In what was AFAIK the last time such an appeal was launched, in 1818, the defendant demanded trial by battle and was released when the plaintiff declined to fight him.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Uh-huh. That’s why no one celebrated the North Korean “treaty” until they actually got rid of their nukes.

          Look, every group touts their own successes, even just the incremental ones. If you aren’t touting the successes of the people you are in coalition with, it’s because they are also an intra-party rival faction.

      • Sebastian_H says:

        I think the whole international agreements thing is part of the cause about how it got so polarized. The last big international set of agreements could be broadly classed as the 1980s and 1990s free trade agreements. In general, nearly all the experts said that these agreements would be generally good for the countries that entered into them. And they were, when measured with broad averages like GDP. However, the experts have just caught on to what a large number of people knew because they lived it—that the gains from these trade agreements didn’t trickle down to average worker. So they were promised for decades that these international agreements would make their lives better off, who,e being asked to ‘temporarily’ pay the majority of the costs. Over the years they have come to think of this as a lie on the part of the experts rather than a mistake. (To be clear I think it was likely a mistake). But at this point they don’t see these government policy experts as reliable.

        So now, enter global warming. Again they are asked to make sacrifices for the common good, but this time there isnt enough trust to get there.

        • But at this point they don’t see these government policy experts as reliable.

          I think, more generally, that what is happening here and in Europe is in part a loss of faith in the existing intellectual elite. It feels to me as though the western European populations had more faith in their elite than the American population had in theirs, but I could easily be wrong.

          From my standpoint the result is a mixed bag, since I agree with the intellectual elite on some issues—indeed as a university professor have spent my life as part of it—but disagree on others.

          • Aapje says:

            @David

            Here is some OECD data about trust in goverment.

            Trust in government in the US is below the OECD average, below the N-European countries, on par with France and Spain, and above Italy and Greece.

            The average trend seems to be that trust is dropping.

            Interestingly, trust in government seems to have dropped drastically in the US in the 70’s.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            That is not surprising, if you know US history. There are many complex factors, but ongoing civil rights struggles, the Vietnam war, and Watergate come first to mind.

            You will note that the massive drop actually starts in 1964, when the CRA passes.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub

            You will note that the massive drop actually starts in 1964, when the CRA passes.

            That, or when LBJ starts lying about Vietnam….

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:
            Sigh.

            Yes, I already mentioned the Vietnam War as one cause. It is also true that the initiation of the drat and the first protests against involvement come in 1964 as well. The draft is more responsible than lying for the trend.

            Your framing strikes me as snidely partisan, especially given your history on this board.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Your framing strikes me as snidely partisan, especially given your history on this board

            So did yours, given yours.

          • Trust in government isn’t the same thing as trust in the intellectual elite, although they probably correlate somewhat. Just at the moment, the presidency, both houses, and a majority of states are controlled by the party that the intellectual elite, on average, opposes.

          • Matt M says:

            Just at the moment, the presidency, both houses, and a majority of states are controlled by the party that the intellectual elite, on average, opposes.

            This doesn’t necessarily mean that people who favor that party “trust the government” though. “The government” is more than just the people who are visibly at the top of the structure. I don’t know quite how to phrase this without using the term “deep state” but I think there are a lot of us out there who very strongly support Trump and most of the GOP, but who still assume “the government” is going to do absolutely nothing we want and is our active enemy.

          • John Schilling says:

            Yeah, I pretty strongly oppose Trump, but I agree that the Permanent Standing Bureaucracy ought to be considered a de facto fourth branch of the government. One not controlled by either party, but leaning substantially towards A: “Blue Tribe” and B: mainstream leadership of both parties rather than populist upstarts of either.

            This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I would prefer that it had been more explicitly integrated into the structure of the government at the time the Constitution was laid down (or possibly amended) so that the necessary checks and balances could be properly established

          • mdet says:

            I think “administrative state” is the term. Refers to things like NASA, EPA, CDC, without implying that the those agencies are part of a conspiracy.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:
            Note that the key point I am making is that it’s NOT THE 70s that is key to this process, nor is it surprising. It is complex, multi-factorial, and grounded in events in the 60s.

            If you wanted to make a point that the action in the Vietnam kicked off at the same time, you could have made it. 1964 did not immediately strike me as a pivot point for the war vis-a-vis drop in confidence in government, with the large scale protests not kicking in until a couple of years later.

            Do you admit that the CRA passing was a significant contributor to nationwide polling on confidence in the federal government dropping?

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Aapje’s second chart is fascinating. As HeelBearCub points out, trust dropped dramatically throughout the Vietnam War and Watergate, climbed partway back up during the Reagan years, stayed high for Bush I, and dropped just in time for Clinton. It hit a 25-year peak in 2001, perhaps because of 9/11 (though I don’t know what time of year they asked the question), but it had been climbing for 3-5 years before that. It went pretty uniformly downward throughout Bush II and Obama and ended at an all-time low before the election.

            The surprising thing is how non-partisan it really looks. LBJ and Nixon were obviously both the disasters I thought they were at the time. I never liked Reagan much but could not deny that people mostly did; his election was the last bona fide landslide — the best electoral advantage since FDR, and a fraction of the popular vote rivaled since then only by Bush I riding his coattails. The post-9/11 presidencies were dismal, with nothing like the jumps we saw under either Reagan or Clinton.

            I’m trying to see a partisan pattern but failing.

          • dick says:

            the Permanent Standing Bureaucracy ought to be considered a de facto fourth branch of the government.

            Strongly disagree, with this and more generally with the habit of anthropormorphizing any big group of uncoordinated people who act as if they’re coordinated because they have the same motivations. It’s unnecessary, intellectually lazy, and it becomes a catch-all answer for anything once it becomes habitual.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Note that the key point I am making is that it’s NOT THE 70s that is key to this process, nor is it surprising. It is complex, multi-factorial, and grounded in events in the 60s.

            It’s both. It’s the “long seventies”, the from after the assassination of Kennedy through Carter.

            Do you admit that the CRA passing was a significant contributor to nationwide polling on confidence in the federal government dropping?

            Trust in government peaks a few months after the CRA passes and then steadily declines for 16 years. If you have more precise data I’m happy to take a look, but on the basis of the evidence presented there does not appear to be a causal link.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:
            Yeah, no point in conversing. You’ve been shown wrong on this stuff so many times, it’s not worth rehashing.

          • Plumber says:

            @Matt M,
            “….The government” is more than just the people who are visibly at the top of the structure…..

            @John Schilling 

            “….I agree that the Permanent Standing Bureaucracy ought to be considered a de facto fourth branch of the government. One not controlled by either party, but leaning substantially towards A: “Blue Tribe” and B: mainstream leadership of both parties rather than populist upstarts of either….”

            For what it’s worth, the government that I’m mostly familiar with, The City and County of San Francisco, breaks down like this:

            While not as much as before, for decades cops, firefighters, and the working hands at the Department of Public Works in San Francisco have mostly gone to Catholic schools. The cop, firefighters, and DPW supervisors are usually Republicans, but hands are usually Democrats. 

            Upper white-collar management generally went to schools in the suburbs, and to college, and how they vote is unknown to me.

            Lower status white-collar workers are also also mostly ex-Catholic school students but a smaller percentage than the cops, firefighters, and trades, and whether they’re Democrats or Republicans largely depends on where they live, with the longer the commute the more likely that they vote Republican. 

            Our elected District Attorney was formerly our Police Chief and was a registered Republican, but he became a Democrat when he ran for office.

            All other elected officials in San Francisco are mostly Democrats with a couple of Green Party, but once they run for re-election the Greens usually become Democrats as well.

            The Republicans elected officials were usually ex-cops, but I don’t remember any who’ve stayed Republicans after the 1990’s. 

            Cities and Counties near San Francisco are much the same but the further away the more likely the elected officials are to be Republicans or “DINO’s” (by San Francisco standards), the “DINO’s” tending to be more ambitious for State office, while Republicans either stay local or run for Congress, state office being closed to them.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            dick-

            Strongly disagree, with this and more generally with the habit of anthropormorphizing any big group of uncoordinated people who act as if they’re coordinated because they have the same motivations.

            Not sure I understand your objection. Does Congress not count as a branch of the government because Congressmen are uncoordinated and have diverse motivations?

            Do you deny that most citizens’ interactions with the Federal government are vastly more likely to be with a member of the Standing Bureaucracy that with an elected official?

            I could see arguing that the Standing Bureaucracy is nominally part of the Executive Branch and should be considered as such rather than drawing a line between them. But the fact that the elected Chief Executive has no power to fire most of them should argue against that position, and in any case I don’t think that was the argument you were trying to make.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Only one of us got his dates mixed up HBC, and it wasn’t not me. Don’t get snippy when your theories don’t mesh with reality.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            big group of uncoordinated people

            Their actual de-facto un-rectificated leaders, policy writers, and career-breakers of that big group are a smaller group of at most a thousand people who all generally went to the same few schools, live within a few hundred miles of each other, go to each other’s social events, and thanks to the unofficial wonder of the internet and the official wonder of MoIs, have each other’s professional and private email addresses, cellphone numbers, and are in a closely held mesh of WhatsApp* and Signal groups.

            They are probably more closely aligned and emergently coordinated than any equivalently sized population of managerial staff of any given large organization anywhere at any time in history.

            * That’s the reason why I finally installed WhatsApp: that is the OTR disappearing-message messaging app I have to use whenever I need to chat with any given “Assistant To The Second Assistant Undersecretary of the Department of Administrative Affairs”, and not just in the USG but other national governments as well.

            Whereas the people I chat with in DARPA, DoE, NSF, Office of Technology Assessment, or the Digital Service… they are all on Signal.

          • dick says:

            @ Doctor Mist

            Does Congress not count as a branch of the government because Congressmen are uncoordinated and have diverse motivations?

            “Congress” isn’t a loose uncoordinated group, it’s an actual organization with a membership roster and meetings and stuff. I’m talking about the thing where people invent a name for vague, fuzzily-bounded collection of individuals who share a common characteristic but who don’t have meetings or clear membership and who don’t behave in a coordinated way, but appear to because of that characteristic motivating them. “Millennials are destroying chain restaurants.” “The Deep State is subverting Trump’s agenda.” “Techbros are driving up rents in the bay.” “The left wants higher taxes.” Each of those are, to my mind, probably technically true in some narrow sense but also really misleading and clickbaity, far to overbroad and unfalsifiable too serve as a useful model, and generally not welcome in a constructive conversation.

          • Matt M says:

            Look, I didn’t want to get into a debate about the merits of an anti-Trump deep state conspiracy here.

            My larger point is simply that when someone asks you a question like “Do you trust the government?” some people may mentally map that to “Do you trust Trump, Mitch McConnel, Mike Pence, and Clarence Thomas?”

            But many might very well map that to “Do you trust the various combination of DMV, Post Office, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Police employees you’ve recently interacted with personally?”

          • dick says:

            @Mark Atwood

            Their actual de-facto un-rectificated leaders, policy writers, and career-breakers of that big group are a smaller group of at most a thousand people who all generally went to the same few schools, live within a few hundred miles of each other, go to each other’s social events, and thanks to the unofficial wonder of the internet and the official wonder of MoIs, have each other’s professional and private email addresses, cellphone numbers, and are in a closely held mesh of WhatsApp* and Signal groups.

            I don’t know wha un-rectificated means, and I don’t know what MoIs are.

            My (charitable and steelmannish, I thought) working understanding of the purported Deep State was that it was supposed to be an emergent phenomenon; as in, if Trump says “Hey EPA, stop enforcing the clean water act!” and some bureaucrat there ignores that directive, he’s part of the Deep State by definition. Are you alleging an actual conspiracy, with leaders and membership and policies and such? If so, you’re right that that’s not what I was complaining about, but boy would that raise a lot of new questions…

          • Lambert says:

            This discussion reminds me I really ought to pick up a Yes Minister box set somewhere.
            Old cynical sitcom about the British “Deep State”.

          • John Schilling says:

            “Congress” isn’t a loose uncoordinated group, it’s an actual organization with a membership roster and meetings and stuff.

            Yes, but half of that membership roster consists of people whose primary purpose in life is to make the other half fail in their every professional goal. And vice versa. Calling this a “tight coordinated group” seems like a stretch.

            Meanwhile, the Old Boy Network is still quite strong in the civil service, and while they don’t all meet en masse, any one of them can probably call up any other for a bit of civil favor-trading.

          • @Dick:

            I think what he is alleging is something in between. Not a literal conspiracy with leaders and members but a collection of people who interact with each other alike, have some degree of shared views and values, and can coordinate informally.

            Someone mentioned “Yes Minister,” which was a British television show about the British equivalent. The central figures were a member of parliament who was a government minister and his permanent secretary. In the typical episode the minister gets concerned about some issue, proposes a government action to deal with it. The secretary agrees but ends up manipulating the minister into doing either nothing or more or less the opposite of what he originally proposed. The implication is that the career civil servants are really running things while pretending that the politicians are.

          • dick says:

            @ John Schilling

            Yes, but half of that membership roster consists of people whose primary purpose in life is to make the other half fail in their every professional goal. And vice versa. Calling this a “tight coordinated group” seems like a stretch.

            This is, by far, my least favorite type of SSC comment: the drive-by out-of-context nitpick.

            I didn’t say “Congress is a tight coordinated group,” or anything similar to it. I said some other groups are uncoordinated, and someone else said, “Like Congress?” and I said “No.”

            That is a relative statement about Congress’ coordination. It is limited in scope to its context: Congress is more coordinated than the groups I mentioned. To pluck it from its contextual moorings and point out that it is not true in an absolute sense is unkind, unnecessary, and so, so annoyingly tedious to respond to. (And it seems to happen here a lot, and by some strange cooincidence, never to the ingroup…)

          • dick says:

            @ DavidFriedman

            I think what he is alleging is something in between. Not a literal conspiracy with leaders and members but a collection of people who interact with each other alike, have some degree of shared views and values, and can coordinate informally. Someone mentioned “Yes Minister,”…

            That’s fine, and I’m sure that does happen, and what I’m saying is that it’s intellectually lazy to give the group of people who do that a name and then talk about them as if they were a real organization that sets goals and has agency. It’s the difference between “The office candy jar was refilled this morning, but all the peanut butter cups were gone by ten AM. I guess a lot of people here like them.” and “Those damned Reeses Thieves have once again succeeded in their quest to deny me my favorite snack!” Both fit the available evidence, but the first one is a much more sensible model of the world.

            edited to add: but I’m open to hearing the counter-example! What’s a statement in which “Deep State” is a useful label? Useful, as opposed to tautological (“the Deep State is working to subvert Trump’s agenda”) or unverifiable (“Trump would’ve done X by now if it weren’t for the Deep State”) or otherwise only of interest to people who already agreed with you about whatever’s being discussed.

          • Matt M says:

            The “deep state” is essentially

            “The Government”
            Minus highly visible public figures at the very top of the three branches
            Minus front-line employees with virtually no power (beat cops, letter carriers, military junior enlisted, etc.)

            If you want to pick on me for lumping too many disparate people into one group such that the classification fails to be useful, maybe you should take it up with the people asking polling questions about how much individuals “trust the government” while failing to specifically define who and what “government” they are talking about.

            That classification is even larger and less specific than my own!

          • John Schilling says:

            This is, by far, my least favorite type of SSC comment: the drive-by out-of-context nitpick.

            Me, I’m not terribly fond of posts that include accusations of “intellectual laziness”, by people who are too intellectually lazy to read charitably, define their own terms, or even find a less insulting way of making their point than accusing someone of “intellectual laziness”. But I bet it felt good when you were typing it.

          • Murphy says:

            @DavidFriedman

            The implication is that the career civil servants are really running things while pretending that the politicians are.

            I don’t believe that was the implication of Yes Minister.

            Sometimes the minister won, sometimes he lost but the show revolved around the implicit conflict between the 2. And both were actually pretty reasonable.

            I thought it was a masterful show of conflicting incentives.

            The civil service mostly wanted to keep doing what they were already doing, without changing everything every 4 years. That’s fairly reasonably a part of effective governance. As such they also favor conservative (small c) policies that keep things mostly the way they are.

            Politicans meanwhile want big changes and big programs with their names on them.

            Politicans want to be able to say they cut costs, civil servants don’t want to get fired.

            And ultimately in any organization, polity or state… you need to keep the people who actually implement your policies reasonably on-side.

            Some episodes the whole thing built towards getting cooperation between parties.

            The civil service wasn’t running the show… but they could be unhelpful if they were getting screwed.

            Sir Humphrey Appleby: What’s the matter, Bernard?

            Bernard Woolley: Oh nothing really, Sir Humphrey.

            Sir Humphrey Appleby: You look unhappy.

            Bernard Woolley: Well, I was just wondering if the minister was right, actually.

            Sir Humphrey Appleby: Very unlikely. What about?

            Bernard Woolley: About ends and means. I mean, will I end up as a moral vacuum too?

            Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, I hope so, Bernard. If you work hard enough.

            Bernard Woolley: I actually feel rather downcast. If it’s our job to carry out government policies, shouldn’t we believe in them?

            Sir Humphrey Appleby: Huh, what an extraordinary idea.

            Bernard Woolley: Why?

            Sir Humphrey Appleby: Bernard, I have served eleven governments in the past thirty years. If I had believed in all their policies, I would have been passionately committed to keeping out of the Common Market, and passionately committed to going into it. I would have been utterly convinced of the rightness of nationalising steel. And of denationalising it and renationalising it. On capital punishment, I’d have been a fervent retentionist and an ardent abolishionist. I would’ve been a Keynesian and a Friedmanite, a grammar school preserver and destroyer, a nationalisation freak and a privatisation maniac; but above all, I would have been a stark, staring, raving schizophrenic.

            I’ve gradually come to the belief that Yes Minister is probably one of the most accurate windows into the realities of politics that we’ve ever seen on TV.

          • dick says:

            Me, I’m not terribly fond of posts that include accusations of “intellectual laziness”, by people who are too intellectually lazy to read charitably, define their own terms, or even find a less insulting way of making their point than accusing someone of “intellectual laziness”. But I bet it felt good when you were typing it.

            I didn’t strain a muscle over-explaining myself because history has taught me that I’m not smart enough to know which things will be misinterpreted and in what way they’ll need to be clarified, but I staked out a position I feel strongly about (that it’s bad habit to anthropomorphize vague, uncoordinated groups), cited some examples of the thing I’m complaining about (“Millennials are destroying chain restaurants.” “The Deep State is subverting Trump’s agenda.” “Techbros are driving up rents in the bay.” “The left wants higher taxes.”), answered a question about it, and am here to defend/explain/explore it further if people care to. Is that not what we’re supposed to do here?

            The implication that I accused you of intellectual laziness is false. I said that a particular way of modeling the world is intellectually lazy, and the examples I cited make it clear that this is not specific to you. Yes, I was dismissive towards the position you took (“the Permanent Standing Bureaucracy ought to be considered a de facto fourth branch of the government”), but I didn’t get the sense that it was some kind of core tenet of yours, and that arguing against it would constitute a personal attack; I assumed it was more of a “here’s an opinion that seems plausible to me but people could argue against it if they like” sort of thing, so argue against it I did. Again, is that not what we’re supposed to do here?

          • Plumber says:

            @Matt M

            “The “deep state” is essentially

            “The Government”
            Minus highly visible public figures at the very top of the three branches
            Minus front-line employees with virtually no power (beat cops, letter carriers, military junior enlisted, etc.)…

            @Murphy

            …I don’t believe that was the implication of Yes Minister.

            Sometimes the minister won, sometimes he lost but the show revolved around the implicit conflict between the 2. And both were actually pretty reasonable.

            I thought it was a masterful show of conflicting incentives.

            The civil service mostly wanted to keep doing what they were already doing, without changing everything every 4 years. That’s fairly reasonably a part of effective governance. As such they also favor conservative (small c) policies that keep things mostly the way they are.

            Politicans meanwhile want big changes and big programs with their names on them.

            Politicans want to be able to say they cut costs, civil servants don’t want to get fired.

            And ultimately in any organization, polity or state… you need to keep the people who actually implement your policies reasonably on-side…..”

            If you include front-line government employees I’ll cop to some footdraging when it comes to “initiatives” and “reforms”, because usually the way things have been done are done that way because they’re proven to work, and while how the new central plans could seem attractive to upper management is sometimes apparent their distance from what’s actually needed to be done means that implementing their new ideas always (I can’t remember an exception in the last seven years) makes things run worse and/or is a pain in the neck that causes more problems than benefits. 

            Being slow to implement the changes in the hope that their minds will change before it’s too late is rational at the local level, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was the same with Federal government. 

            I assume that upper management feels the same way about our requests for equipment, and they hope the problem goes away or we change our minds, as what seems obviously needed in the field takes a mighty long time for us to get.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        regard plans and agreements as accomplishments

        I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard “the Mideast peace process” spoken of as if it were actual Mideast peace.

        • albatross11 says:

          Thomas Sowell makes the point in a couple of his books that there’s a lot of stuff where its name has little to do with its reality. The one that sticks in my head is that most “profit-making businesses” eventually fold up, having never made much of a profit.

          • Aapje says:

            Non-profit vs profit doesn’t refer to the actual (lack of) profits, but to the financial goals of the organization.

            A non-profit targets no or minimal profits and will seek to reduce profits if their income outstrips their costs (too much). A profit-oriented business tries to make maximum profit.

            However, both types can be long-term focused. A profit-oriented business can accept temporarily losses if that is expected to result in more (chance of) long term profit. A non-profit can accept temporary losses or profits for various reasons.

            A further complication is that profit-oriented investors generally spread their investments, so they only have to make a profit on all their investments, so it can be advantageous to allow their investments to be used speculatively, where the (few) gambles that pay off, outweigh the (many) gambles that don’t.

          • Tenacious D says:

            Thomas Sowell makes the point in a couple of his books that there’s a lot of stuff where its name has little to do with its reality.

            Confucius says:

            A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately.

          • Slocum says:

            Non-profit vs profit doesn’t refer to the actual (lack of) profits, but to the financial goals of the organization.

            That distinction doesn’t even always apply. Sometimes the only difference between the two is whether the proceeds are taken 100% in salaries vs partly in salaries and partly in profits to the owners. But if the owners are also the managers, this is almost a distinction without a difference. There are some tax-rate advantages to for-profits (you don’t pay payroll taxes on profits), but there are also advantages to the non-profit approach — you can solicit donations, some labor regulations are lighter, you may be able to use volunteer labor without running afoul of minimum wage laws, and you may get virtue points with prospective customers (especially if the customers are, themselves, non-profits or government agencies). But the non-profit form doesn’t mean that the execs aren’t paid salaries as lavish as the organization’s revenues can support.

          • Note also that the common idea that a non-profit has lower costs because it doesn’t have to pay profits is wrong, based in part on a misunderstanding of the relevant economics, in part on the ambiguity of the term “profit.”

            In a competitive industry, equilibrium economic profit is zero. What isn’t zero is accounting profit, because it includes the return on the firm’s capital. A non-profit needs the same amount of capital to do the same things as a for-profit firm.

            Of course, it may get that capital as a free donation–the case of a foundation such as the Ford Foundation or the Rockefeller foundation. But that’s the same logic as a non-profit that gets volunteer labor or cash contributions to run, not some inherent advantage of the form.

    • Plumber says:

      @Atlas,

      I’ve been a construction worker (for over a decade), and I currently am a public sector worker (for almost a decade doing plumbing repairs for The City and County, hence @Plumber), and for what little it’s worth I’m against both the anti-union Janus decision and Roe v. Wade (I think the legality of abortions should be up to local voters, not judges), mostly my “Blue” inclinations sway my vote, but I’ll mock any college student who lectures me about pronouns (I’m also married to a college grad but I really resent the collegiate social class).

      Make out of that what you will.

    • Galle says:

      There’s no “could” about it. If you’re a cynical, partisan Red Triber, you do do that, on a regular basis. And if you’re a cynical, partisan Blue Triber, you use the exact same data to attack the Red Tribe by saying something like, “Us educated, enlightened Blue Tribers work in modern fields that allow us to see the big picture and to develop a great understanding of the forces that actually matter is running the country, while the primitive, barbaric Red Tribers are all either ignorant miners and construction workers who don’t know any better or bloodthirsty soldiers and police officers.”

      (Well, not phrased quite like that, but it’s the gist of the argument)

      The thing is, both these arguments are designed to appeal to the values of the tribe making them. The Red Tribe’s argument depends on Red Tribe values, like “manliness”. It’s not going to convince anyone who isn’t already a member of the Red Tribe, or a similarly anti-modern culture. Similarly, the Blue Tribe’s argument depends on Blue Tribe values, like “education”. It’s not going to convince anyone who isn’t already a member of the Blue Tribe, or a similarly modern culture.

      These aren’t actually arguments. They’re just another form of tribal in-group signalling.

  11. Sniffnoy says:

    BTW, if you’re linking to Robin Hanson’s board game idea, a good link to go along with it is Zvi Mowshowitz’s assessment of how it would likely go with skilled players.

  12. Nornagest says:

    Roopkund is a small lake 15,000 feet high in the Tibetan Plateau, which made headlines when explorers discovered several hundred human skeletons on its desolate shores. Scientists carbon-dated the skeletons to around 700 AD. Now somebody has gene-sequenced them, and found that they are mostly Greeks. How did hundreds of Greek people get to a remote part of Tibet and die there en masse in the eight-century AD?

    That’s the coolest thing I’ve read all week. Granted, the stuff I’ve been reading this week has mostly been dry computer science, but it’s still stupendously cool.

    I don’t think my face after reading it can be described without resorting to emojis. Maybe even reaction images.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Except it says that the group that died around 700 AD had DNA from Iran or Greater India, while the Greek skeletons are only 200 years old.
      (“That just raises further questions!”)

      • Lillian says:

        Both groups are also thought to have died from hail storms, which says interesting things about how severe the weather can get in the area.

  13. Clarence says:

    It’s far more likely that those diplomats are victims of a counter-surveillance device than any “Commies under the bed” conspiracy. Still, a very small part of me gets warm fuzzies from seeing the same State Department employees who treat Americans abroad so shabbily get some comeuppance.

    Fun Fact: ‘MoveOn’ was created by leftist men in order to get Congress to ignore accusations made by women against Bill Clinton and give him a slap on the wrist instead of impeaching him. In other words, they just wanted Congress to “Censure and Move On”. (BTW there was a load of evidence in this case. eeww)

    “professions that manipulate ideas are liberal”

    They are leftist, not liberal. How do you tell the difference? Liberals believe in freedom of speech. They might disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it. Leftists believe that simply speaking can be violence. See this piece in the New York Times that makes a pretty convincing case for it. Allow me to steelman:

    Words can have a powerful effect on your nervous system. Certain types of adversity, even those involving no physical contact, can make you sick, alter your brain – even kill neurons – and shorten your life.

    Your body’s immune system includes little proteins called proinflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation when you’re physically injured. Under certain conditions, however, these cytokines themselves can cause physical illness. What are those conditions? One of them is chronic stress.

    Your body also contains little packets of genetic material that sit on the ends of your chromosomes. They’re called telomeres. Each time your cells divide, their telomeres get a little shorter, and when they become too short, you die. This is normal aging. But guess what else shrinks your telomeres? Chronic stress.

    If words can cause stress, and if prolonged stress can cause physical harm, then it seems that speech – at least certain types of speech – can be a form of violence.

    That the Left have begun to label free speech as somehow a ‘right-wing’ value is particularly rattling. It is not, it is a liberal value. If you need to delete, censor, and ban all counter arguments to your narrative, maybe you’re wrong. If you need to take away freedom of speech to be successful, you’re not a liberal. You’re a Leftist. Cut out a man’s tongue and you don’t prove him wrong, only that you’re afraid of what he has to say.

    • melboiko says:

      Believers that words are harmless and don’t do things are kindly challenged to read J.L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words. Don’t read summaries, read the original text. It’s short, it’s intelligent, it’s readable, and you’ll be glad you did.

      Then start considering the consequences of living in a reality where words do things, where saying stuff is an action, and where there are power differentials (so that someone in a subordinate position, e.g. a child in a classroom or an employee who needs their job, can’t opt out of having things done to them with words). In classroom A, the boys stomp boy A’s foot every day because he’s “gay” (=effeminate). In classroom B, the boys say derisive epithets and degrading things at boy B every day. Are class A boys doing things and class B boys only exercising their inalienable, morally-good-by-definition right to free speech? Are class A boys “bullying” and “humiliating”, but not class B boys? Is boy A undergoing damage but not boy B? What about class C, where they don’t talk to boy C directly but every day talk conspicuously of things like “we should kill all faggots” or “no gay boy will be allowed to stay alive in this city”, etc.? What about class D, where they don’t say anything within teacher’s earshot, but paste threatening posters on noticeboards and graffiti bathroom doors? What about class E, where no direct threats are made, but there are constant jokes and grotesque rumours portraying gay people as disgusting, diseased and subhuman, concomitant with boy E being segregated, cut off from all activities? Are the jokes by definition “just joking”, i.e. exempt from the possibility of being unethical actions? Can the act of joking be an act of “humiliation” or “segregation”, in the same way that a boss’ sleazy joke can be an implied threat of punishing dissenters, or a lobbyist’s joke can be an implied offer of a bribe?

      > Cut out a man’s tongue and you don’t prove him wrong, only that you’re afraid of what he has to say.

      Given that people can do things with words, is it not rational to be afraid of certain things done with words (trivial case: threats)? Is it despicable for a boy who is every day humiliated with words, to wish that the other boys were not allowed to humiliate people, whether the means of the act of humiliation is a foot or a vocal apparatus? Is any harmful action permitted, as long as the harmful action is done with words, because free speech?

      (All examples taken from my actual lived experience.)

      • Machine Interface says:

        Yeah, it’s surprising that an unconditional defense of free speech (nevermind that such unconditionality is always illusory — I have never met a free speech advocate who doesn’t provide for at least a handful of exceptions) so often comes down to “but words are harmless, they are not acts”, which is not just wrong, it’s *trivially* wrong.

        The best illustration of this is the doxing paradox. Doxing is a form of expression, and if you’re “100% pro free speech”, then you must allow doxing, a practice which is used almost exclusively to intimidate opponents and effectively censor them by bullying them out of the public space.

        • Clarence says:

          Yeah, like I said: leftists aren’t in favor of free speech.

          • Machine Interface says:

            Nobody is in favor of free speech. Everybody is in favor of “free speech except for these obvious, non-brainer exceptions I just thought of”; everyone has this imaginary common-sense line that allowing anything beyond that is inflammatory peace disturbance, and allowing anything less than that is authoritarian censorship, but see *my* limit to what can be freely said is rational and makes perfect sense.

          • albatross11 says:

            If only there were some well-articulated body of laws and legal decisions we could fall back on when we thought about free speech (in the sense of laws restricting or punishing it), imagine how much easier our life could be.

          • Eigengrau says:

            @Machine Interface
            That should be copy-pasted everywhere people start shallowly arguing about free speech.

          • Tatterdemalion says:

            If only there were some well-articulated body of laws and legal decisions we could fall back on when we thought about free speech (in the sense of laws restricting or punishing it), imagine how much easier our life could be.

            Unfortunately there are a bunch of such bodies of opinion, with considerable differences between them, so we still need a way to decide whether, say, the US or the German standard is better.

          • albatross11 says:

            Fair enough. I’m very comfortable with US law on free speech–there’s a lot I don’t think our system gets right, but in this area, I think we mostly nailed it.

          • Machine Interface says:

            It’s worth pointing out that the not only the US standard has varied over time, but even *the interpretation* of the standard has varied over time. The provision on non-protected speech that allowed “Ulysses” or “Howl” to be banned for obscenity is still there — it’s just not *currently* interpreted that way.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I’ve asked this before and didn’t get a response, I’m hoping someone knowledgeable can step up now:

            I’ve somehow gotten the impression that a lot of what we think of as free speech, 1st Amendment protected stuff was created by the Warren Court, and is pretty distinct from the free speech jurisprudence prior to that era.

            Anything to that idea?

          • beleester says:

            If only there were some well-articulated body of laws and legal decisions we could fall back on when we thought about free speech (in the sense of laws restricting or punishing it), imagine how much easier our life could be.

            That falls in the “free speech simply means the government can’t restrict your speech” camp. Nothing wrong with that stance, especially if you want to maximize private freedoms, but there’s a pretty good chunk of the right that believes that large internet companies are using their power to censor right-wing viewpoints on their platforms, and that’s a problem.

          • Guy in TN says:

            That falls in the “free speech simply means the government can’t restrict your speech” camp.

            I interpreted that to mean something alone the lines of “since government, through the courts, is what defines ‘free speech’, the government cannot actually violate free speech (except for when an upper level declares that a lower level of government has done so).”

            It’s a good response, because of the reductio ad absurdum aspect forces the reader to consider the difference between “free speech the legal construct” and “free speech the philosophical idea”, which are often muddled in these sorts of debates.

          • johnstewart says:

            @Eugene Dawn – your question piqued my curiosity, too, so I asked a 1st amendment expert:

            https://twitter.com/Popehat/status/1050088505936736257

            I’ve somehow gotten the impression that a lot of what we think of as free speech, 1st Amendment protected stuff was created by the Warren Court, and is pretty distinct from the free speech jurisprudence prior to that era.

            “Well, to a limited extent. That’s true of recognition of numerous rights. But the free speech seeds were planted earlier, in cases like Barnette, and in earlier cases on the clear and present danger doctrine.”

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Thanks! I’m mostly delighted that I had Popehat respond to a question of mine, even if indirectly.

            That’s an interesting response. Even Barnette is still pretty late, all things considered; does that kind of robust free-speech protection go back any earlier than the late ’30s when Black and Douglas joined the court?

          • johnstewart says:

            @Eugene Dawn

            Also worth checking out his his podcast, Make No Law, which I’m not caught up on:

            https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/make-no-law/

            … but gets into some very interesting SCOTUS history.

      • Said Achmiz says:

        Believers that words are harmless and don’t do things are kindly challenged to read J.L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words. Don’t read summaries, read the original text. It’s short, it’s intelligent, it’s readable, and you’ll be glad you did.

        I have read this book.

        It does not support your argument.

        (Because none of the speech acts in your scenarios are perlocutionary speech acts—unless, of course, one accepts the claim that by speaking certain words, one can thereby, directly, via the medium of words exclusively—as opposed to, in consequence of actions taken, which are ostensibly caused by the words—inflict psychic or neurological damage upon a listener. But if we accept that claim, then the rest of your argument becomes entirely superfluous.)

      • mdet says:

        I’m a big fan of freedom of speech, and it’s not because I think words are harmless. I don’t. I would definitely challenge and criticize if I heard anyone saying the examples you gave.

        When I say I believe in strong freedom of speech, I mean that I believe that someone who wants to make a kind & sincere argument for a position I strongly disagree with should be allowed and maybe even encouraged to do so. I don’t have any problem with telling someone who is deliberately trying to provoke or antagonize “You’re not welcome here”, although I don’t think any words should literally be treated like a punch in the face.

    • dick says:

      The word for people who are generally on the left but weak on free speech is “people who are generally on the left but weak on free speech” and the word for arguing about definitions of vague group labels with strangers on the internet is “The Most Boring Thing In The World”.

    • ilikekittycat says:

      Leftist here, believe in free speech, lots of people like me believe in free speech. Please don’t make posts like this in the future.

      • Matt M says:

        lots of people like me believe in free speech. Please don’t make posts like this in the future.

        hmmmmmmmmmm

      • David Shaffer says:

        kittycat, did you actually read that before posting?

        • ilikekittycat says:

          Yes? I have no authority to remove posts, or change posting behavior, and I didn’t invoke Scott Alexander to remove it. “Don’t post like this” or “less of this, please” etc. are social shorthand on this website to think out what you’re saying and post in a less inflammatory way in the future. There is no obligation for the poster to have to do that or I would not have said “Please.” I don’t want this to be prevented by some kind of authority or moderator, I want the poster to want to see why they did a thing in the moment they possibly didn’t realize was unnecessarily antagonistic

          Am I anti-gun-rights if I support second amendment rights but talk to an individual about how they absolutely should not own a gun in their circumstance? Am I anti-choice if I support abortion rights but would personally counsel people against them? Right, then don’t be intellectually dishonest and pretend that my personal request (which mimics the form of requests made by any number of right-wing posters in the past whom no one here doubts support free speech) is akin to a Soviet censor’s pen itching to strike out passages

      • John Schilling says:

        The phrasing was conspicuously tone-deaf, but a sincere “please don’t say things like that” is entirely consistent with an absolutist position on free speech.

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Would you mind elaborating on how you believe your free-speech-supporting leftism differs from liberalism?

        Alternatively, what are your views on hate speech?

        I’m really not trying to provoke; sincerely curious.

  14. Brett says:

    I checked out the price for a bed in the capsule hotel. $62/night is pretty nice for a downtown SF hotel stay. I’d be up for it if it was only for 1-2 nights (longer than that, and I think I’d prefer just traveling further to have a larger hotel room).

    Fun fact- Hoffman is or was the cell mate of one of the Lafferty brothers.

    It’s quite an eye-opener to see the Chinese version of . . that.

    I’m going to guess that a lot of those never-married women in their 40s who have children do have long-term partners they’re having children with. They’ve just decided that they’d rather not get legally married.

  15. Michael Watts says:

    If people were trying to convince you, listening to them would make you more convinced

    Um… citation needed?

    • melboiko says:

      Trivial counterexamples: If fascists were honestly trying to convince me that Jewish people should be killed, I don’t think I’d be any more convinced that Jewish people should be killed. If flat-Earthers were honestly trying to convince me that the Earth is flat, I don’t think I’d be any more convinced of it, either.

      Rhetorics are important but they aren’t everything. Content exists. There is such a thing as actually disagreeing with certain ideas, proposals, ideologies (on ethical, rational, or principled bases).

      • albatross11 says:

        There’s some intellectual version of the range of acceptable outcomes you get in negotiations, right? There’s a range of ideas where you might change your position on them, or at least come to accept that maybe other people who disagree with you have some points on their side. Whether the Earth is flat or genocide is morally acceptable aren’t in that range, but a lot of practical political questions probably are. For example, should we lower the drinking age to 18, or set the capital gains tax rate to the same as your normal income tax rate, or raise the minimum wage? Those are questions where you might be convinced based on some data or argument, if it’s presented well and isn’t wrapped in an attack of you and everyone you love.

    • Matt M says:

      Marginally more convinced than you would be by someone who isn’t trying to convince you.

      That seems like a reasonable thing to stipulate, IMO.

      The point isn’t “everyone who tries to convince you will succeed” but rather “people who are trying to convince you will do a better job convincing you than people who aren’t trying to convince you.”

      • John Schilling says:

        Particularly when the people who aren’t trying to convince you, are instead trying to convince their friends to hate you.

  16. melolontha says:

    Also note how rare centrists are compared to partisans, even partisans of the side opposite the industry’s bias.

    I’m not sure this holds up. As far as I can tell, the ideology scores are based on campaign contributions, with non-donors ignored. Presumably donors tend to be more partisan than non-donors, which would bias the results away from the centre.

    (More speculatively, I wonder what the ideological distribution of candidates looks like: are there many ‘centrist’ candidates to donate to, or would you have to donate to a mixture of left- and right-wingers in order to be deemed a centrist?)

  17. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Half-Mexican, half-Jewish woman descendant of Holocaust survivors libeled as white supremacist by white male journalist, news at… never o’clock.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      It was a much simpler time, a sweeter time, when the country fought over such silly things, how innocent we were way back then. Wait that was only five weeks ago?

  18. chrisminor0008 says:

    RE: Wide faces

    Regular alcohol consumption will make one’s face wider and puffier. I wonder if there’s any connection between alcohol (ab)use and immoral behavior.

  19. ana53294 says:

    The open-source mandate seems to be directed not just at making sure that articles funded by the body are open source, but at destroying journals:

    Under Plan-S, funders will pay an upfront fee to journals to cover editing costs, the so-called article-processing charges, to ensure the work is available free to access for anyone in perpetuity. The journal should be entirely open access, rather than a hybrid that offers an open access option. Authors, not publishers, will maintain copyright on their work.

    […] A few highly cited journals such as Nature and Science will be off-limits for grant holders subject to Coalition-S, unless these publishers change their policies and offer open access.

    I wonder how academia will change. While the number of papers and the impact factor of the journal matters, I know of several people who only got a professorship once they had that coveted Nature/Science publication. I hope this does manage to destroy them (while Nature/Science do offer hybrid open-access, I don’t think they will become completely open access).

    How much power does EU research have to establish standards? What is the percentage of high-impact papers published that are funded by Coalition-S participants?

    If the US federal government does join the Coalition, that will definitely destroy those journals.

    • Aapje says:

      The members of cOALition S have their own national policies and ways to do funding, so the impact will differ by country.

      For The Netherlands, the financing is split in three types: the first money flow, the second money flow and the third money flow (yes, we are very creative).

      The first money flow is generic funding for both basic infrastructure, education and research and is 3.6 billion euros. This sum is stagnating severely, as this funding was reduced when the number of students went down in the past, but now that more people are studying again, the funding is not increasing. This means that an increasing percentage of the first money flow goes to education and infrastructure, rather than research.

      The second money flow is granted by competition(s). There are two organisations doing this, NWO (400 million) and KNAW (100 million). NWO is member of cOALition S and will supposedly then demand open access (although I wouldn’t be surprised if they allow for exceptions).

      The third money flow is ‘other income.’ EU subsidies, subsidies by the government to do something specific, paid research done for companies, renting out facilities, etc. This is 2 billion in total.

      So the cOALition S agreement impacts 400 million of the 6.8 billion of income for the universities, which seems low. However, this is somewhat deceiving as:
      – That 400 million is fully dedicated to research, while a large part of the first money flow goes to education and basic infrastructure.
      – A lot of research has multiple sources of funding and researchers will have to obey the conditions by NWO even if only part of their funding comes from that source.
      – Universities are lazy and depend on the second money flow competition(s) to identify good researchers. So winning these competitions is very important to young researchers as it makes or breaks research careers. So a very large percentage of the established researchers of the future will need to publish in open access journals during part of their career.

      PS. Fun fact: the income of Harvard is 3.8 billion euros, larger than the first money flow in the Netherlands and over half the total income for Dutch colleges.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        cOALition S

        Why do I feel like the scientific journals are about to get a ransom note? Is this really how this organization styles itself?

        • Doctor Mist says:

          Apparently.

          I’m guessing OAL stands for “open-access something”. Literature maybe?

        • Aapje says:

          @HeelBearCub & Doctor Mist

          It seems that I copied a mistake they made. They mostly use cOAlition S (so with a lower case l), but I copy/pasted their name from a headline where they had an uppercase L.

          So the upper case letters seem to just be a reference to Open Access.

          And yes, this is what you get when people desperately want to be clever.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Oh, would you look at that; even the link I cited has a lower-case ell.

            OK, so what about the S? Is it “Plan S” for “Science” or were there Plans A through R that have been rejected?

            But now I’m just snarking because the name offends my sense of esthetics: It still looks like a ransom note. Never mind me.

    • Aron Wall says:

      Despite being a big proponent of openness in Science, and a boycotter of overpriced journals such as Elsevier, I’m still rather annoyed by this development. It will mean that the top journal in my field, Physical Review Letters, plus 2 of the 3 top journals I frequently submit to Physical Review D, and Classical and Quantum Gravity, will be off limits to me. (The third one is JHEP, an purely electronic journal which is completely open, and funded directly by outside sources.) The Physical Review journals are controlled by the APS, a professional physics society that I am currently a member of, so it is not overpriced and its profits go back to benefit the field. Everyone who submits to these journals also posts their papers for free on the arXiv, and there are no publication charges.

      These days, “Open Access” usually means that the journal bills you thousands of dollars in publication charges in return for making it publicly accessible, which nobody would ever pay unless they can charge it to their government grant. So the journals are just changing which large organizations they are mooching off of, and I feel that this model gives too much incentive for scammy journals to publish bad articles in exchange for a fee.

      Yes, all journals have expenses, and in any workable model somebody has to pay for it. But I feel like the arxiv+Physical Review model is far less exploitative than than some of the “Open Access” journals that I suppose will take its place.

  20. Kuiperdolin says:

    Something cool I stumbled on on wikipedia and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before but nobody else is interested around me IRL : the Fuegian Dog.

    It’s not a member of the dog/wolf species but a completely different and rather distant canid species that was domesticated independantly by Indians in Tierra del Fuego. Apparently it was a rather bad pet and is now extinct, but that’s a legit domestication event (it looked markedly different from the wild form) you never hear about.

    • gwern says:

      I don’t know how domesticated it really was. Being exterminated for aggression against humans/cattle, and described as disloyal to their human masters suggests it was not far removed from its wild roots and hardly tame. Only 1 of the 2 WP illustrations indicates a coat change or anything approaching piebaldism, and the ears aren’t floppy either.

      • sandoratthezoo says:

        Hey, random question jumping off from this:

        One of the central theses of Guns, Germs, and Steel as I understand it was that Eurasian people happened to get lucky and get animal species that could be domesticated, and usefully, and Australian, African, and American people got unlucky and got impossible-or-useless-to-domesticate animals.

        So, like, how about wolves/dogs? Those are endemic to the Americas and Africa, right? Did they get domesticated there?

        • herbert herberson says:

          There were definitely dogs in pre-Columbian America, but they’re mostly believed to have came across the land bridge in a domesticated/semi-domesticated state

        • Nornagest says:

          There was as much megafauna in the Americas as in Eurasia or Africa before humans arrived, and some of it would probably have been domesticable. Horses originally evolved there, for example.

          Most of it went extinct around the time humans crossed the land bridge for the first time. We don’t know for sure that they died because of overhunting, but the timing (and circumstantial evidence, like tool marks on bones) is awfully suggestive. It might be that early Native Americans killed and ate everything that would have made useful draft animals for them a few thousand years later.

          • Kuiperdolin says:

            An obvious exception in North America is the reindeer. It’s there to this day, and rather identical to the Eurasian one, but the natives either failed or did not bother to tame it.

            In South America, of course, the (some) local camelids survived and were tamed. Possibly the Andes precluded wiping them out.

          • Eponymous says:

            Bison. Probably not so different from Aurochs.

          • Nornagest says:

            Bison. Probably not so different from Aurochs.

            Not so sure about that. There are European bison too, and they’ve never been fully domesticated either.

            Reindeer are a good counterexample, though.

        • Eponymous says:

          Greg Cochran has argued that Diamond is wrong, lots of animals could be domesticated. No reason to think zebra are nastier than the ancestors of horses, bison than aurochs, etc. Probably lots of animals are domesticable, and plants too, but people don’t bother because we already have well-optimized livestock and crops. There was a Russian scientist who domesticated foxes in a few generations.

          This makes sense to me. Given what we know about genetics, it seems plausible that if you select just about any animal for tameness, you can get a much tamer version. There seem to be some common pathways too — common changes in features (smaller heads, floppy ears, maybe neoteny?).

          I’m not an expert, so can’t say for sure that he’s right and Diamond wrong, but I find the argument pretty convincing.

          • engleberg says:

            Central Asia should have ruled Eurasia, but there were just too many random raiding parties floating around, sniffing out centers of civilization and smashing them up as they took over. Something similar seems to have retarded Amerind progress before Columbus.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            @engleberg

            That makes as much sense as saying the Romans should have ruled but for the Gauls and Scipio.

            Indeed GG&S implies rivals are important for advancement.

            Almost all of his theories are weird and self rebutting. The only one I would accept is that Eurasia>America because East-West Transport in EA was not as inhibited as North-South in the Americas (because of the bottleneck).

          • herbert herberson says:

            There’s a very straightforward reason why African animals would be less tamable–they evolved alongside dangerous hominids. When Homo Sapiens first encountered central Asian wild horses, the latter had at most a million years of experience with Homo erectus, and for most of their range they didn’t have any experience at all. In Africa, hominids had been hunting animals (probably not fully-grown big game, but if they were like any other predator they were going after the young ones whenever they could) for at least 2 million years. If the opportunistic hunting of chimps is any guide, it could have been a lot longer than that. This is a lot more time to build up an instinctual fear of bipeds, which, in turn, is going to interfere with archaic domestication (which was probably not usually a very intentional project)

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ Herbert Henderson

            By that logic new world animals would be more tamable as they were settled later, as well as late colonized islands. I don’t think that this is the case.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I wonder also if there is some way to analyze them based on versatility. Flax can be domesticated to be used to make fibers, oil or meal while wheat was more of a one purpose crop.

          • herbert herberson says:

            I assume they were tamable, but, contra the Eurasian animals, the humans they initially encountered had greater social and material technologies (when it comes to American colonization, we’re probably talking about cultures that specialized in hunting mammoths in the Arctic) that allowed the humans to hunt them into extinction (especially in conjunction with the additional stresses of the Ice Age ending) before domestication was able to occur.

          • Janet says:

            Indeed– I don’t think that Diamond’s theory holds up under scrutiny. Both Africans and pre-Columbian Americans domesticated many animals they lived near. For example, Africans domesticated the donkey, greylag goose, guineafowl, and tilapia (fish), and semi-domesticated several antelope species (oryxes, elands, and the like) and arguably ostriches too. There are some others which may well have been originally African (but also could have been European or Arabian), including the honeybee, domestic dove, dromedary camel, and domestic cat. There’s also debate over whether African species were cross-bred into modern domestic cattle.

            In pre-Columbian America, people domesticated the llama, alpaca, guinea pig, muscovy duck, and turkey. They semi-domesticated bison (at least in the east) and stingless bees as well. Arguably, Americans were even better at domesticating plants than the Old Worlders, including maize (corn), sunflowers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peanuts, beans and other legumes, tomatoes, tobacco, cassava, quinoa, many squashes, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, papaya, chestnut, pecan, rubber/latex, oil palm, and so on. (They had even more than that, actually, with crops like little barley, goosefoot, maygrass, bristlegrass, etc. that have subsequently been displaced by more lucrative crops like maize or wheat.) Not to mention medicines, like quinine, and spices and flavorings, like vanilla, in their hundreds.

            So, I really don’t think that neither “they were too stupid to domesticate things” nor “there just weren’t appropriate species to domesticate” explains a whole lot.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @janet:
            His thesis is much more nuanced than that (and is never “they were too stupid”, which is the antithesis to his thesis).

            The domesticated animals come in in two ways in his thesis, IIRC. One is large domesticated animals are essentially a pre-industrial engine which make many things easier or even possible. Both (sub-Saharan) Africa and the Americas lack these. Africa’s candidate species aren’t amenable to domestication, the New World’s large animals were all killed about the time human population growth picked up and he posits that they were simply too easy to hunt to extinction.

            The second is about the interlink between agriculture and domesticated animals, which is part of the “germs” part of guns, germs and steel. Basically if you have a dense enough population, for long enough, then domesticated animals serve as a vector for the development of acute deadly diseases. But his reasoning there on the Africa and the world is mostly based around the length of time the populations were agricultural.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            One is large domesticated animals are essentially a pre-industrial engine which make many things easier or even possible. Both (sub-Saharan) Africa and the Americas lack these. Africa’s candidate species aren’t amenable to domestication, the New World’s large animals were all killed about the time human population growth picked up and he posits that they were simply too easy to hunt to extinction.

            Right, but those are all post hoc reasoning. One example, for instance is this story: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/22/587755920/why-the-last-wild-horses-really-arent

            This is the same for all domesticated species. There are no wolves, no horse, no boars, no chickens, etc etc that haven’t been inbred with escaped domesticate versions of themselves. So the wild wolves today are more domestic than the ones that existed a million years ago (plus we probably also killed a lot of the most violent ones when they tried to take out food/defend their own food). American Bison and African Buffalo/Wildabeest are probably very temperamentally similar to the oldest wild boars and cows, we can’t know for sure, but there it is.

      • Kuiperdolin says:

        They probably weren’t as domesticated as the vanilla dog but :
        – what animal is ? Aggression and disloyalty are what domesticated cats are about, it just was harder to put up with in F-dogs because they were bigger and did not piss brain parasites everywhere.
        – they still trusted them enough to sleep with them for warmth. Now admittedly I’m acoward but “too wild to share my bed” is not very wild at all. Especially for a canid strong enough to mess up goats.

        • arbitraryvalue says:

          “too wild to share my bed” is not very wild at all

          I’m sorry, but I can’t stop giggling at this. Sounds like someone doesn’t have a very interesting love life…

        • Aapje says:

          @Kuiperdolin

          Interestingly, I once saw a documentary about Siberian hunters who always let their dogs sleep outside to keep them ‘tough,’ despite Siberia getting very, very cold in winter. They also were weren’t allowed on the snow scooter, having to run enormous distances along side it for long trips.

          One of the hunters explained that he was exceptionally nice to his dog by teaching it not to eat the prey without beating the dog.

          Those are hard people, with a hard life.

      • gwern says:

        On the plus side, since we do have semi-usable PGSes/gene-sets for domestication now from dogs & the Russian foxes, and the WP article also mentions that some Fuegian dog samples are in museums, the question should be answerable – grab some of their bone, get the DNA, see how domesticated they look on a genetic level compared to their surviving culpeo counterparts. I’m very doubtful they’ll turn out to be much domesticated – I mean, we’re talking about the Yaghans here, they couldn’t even figure out clothes.

  21. luispedro says:

    Epistemic status: speculative:

    Maybe the question “why are intellectuals on the left?” is wrong.

    Maybe it’s like asking “why do people eat Russian food in Russia?”

    Rather, Russian food is what we call whatever people in Russia eat.

    Elite media/academics/government servants/… are the left and their ideas are left-wing ideas. Elite business/church/military people are the right and their ideas are right-wing ideas.

    Fundamentally, the first group will (generally speaking) push for more bureaucratic/gov control because that’s what they’re good at, while the second pushes for more market/tradition because that’s what their good at. Everything else is up for grabs, which is apparent when you compare Left-wing ideas across space and time.

    • Clarence says:

      Except this lurch to the far left is recent and never before happened in history. Typically journalists were hard-headed fact finders and academics were tweed-suited stodgy conservatives. See: The White House and the Pauline Kael Syndrome. Short version: In 1973, all six major US class segments were centrist. Over the next 35 years, five of the segments moved slightly to the right, but “Intellectual Upper Class” moved far out to the left.

      More info: https://heterodoxacademy.org/2016/01/09/professors-moved-left-but-country-did-not/

      • Anon. says:

        Typically journalists were hard-headed fact finders and academics were tweed-suited stodgy conservatives

        Eh, I don’t buy it. The ratio was not as extreme as today, but I was recently reading about the discovery of DNA and half the scientists in the book were Stalinists. And on the journalist side, you had people like Walter Duranty being widely celebrated.

        • luispedro says:

          There was that joke that “my academic department is very politically diverse, we have Maoists, Stalinists, Trostkists, and, I think, even some social-democrats.”

          The “Intellectual Upper class” is a weird construct. I’m not sure that picking people who are at the top 5% of income as representative of media/academic elites is correct. That will exclude most journalists and academics. Most professors make less than that, even at top universities, unless they are very successful or have some income beyond their salaries, which is not uncommon in some fields, but also not universal. There are probably more lawyers than academics (all fields) in that group.

      • 1soru1 says:

        > tweed-suited stodgy conservatives

        Tweed-suited stodgy conservatives about a country that had strong unions, high taxes, effective government and was making undeniable forward progress on racial and cultural issues.

        There’s only so much mileage you can get out of analyzing the biases of the guy in the lookout post shouting ‘there’s an iceberg ahead’ without yourself looking to see if they are right.

      • Eponymous says:

        What does seem to be true is that academics have moved dramatically over the last generation or two away from being registered Republicans (my field being an exception).

        There could be a number of reasons, but the one I’m most concerned about is general anti-intellectualism in the GOP, and the parties differentiating more along elite/non-elite lines than they have historically. I don’t think this is healthy for the country.

        • cassander says:

          There could be a number of reasons, but the one I’m most concerned about is general anti-intellectualism in the GOP,

          Do you think that’s a cause or a consequence of the Anti-GOPism of the intellectuals?

          • Porkman says:

            I think this is a question where terms need to be defined before it goes further.

            There’s a difference between the “hard science intellectual who says that Company X is poisoning the water” where the GOP antipathy is probably donor driven and “Social science intellectual who says that policy X is racist.”

    • zzzzort says:

      The pro-anti government seems like the wrong axis to break this down on. In different historical contexts, the right have been associated with the army, the church, capitalists etc. even when that meant a more statist bent (think Napolean), and teachers, students (always students), etc. have been on the left even in contexts where the left meant liberal reforms that reduced state control (think Nelson Mandela).

      • albatross11 says:

        I feel like the traditional left/right split in the US (more-or-less a mix of the liberal/conservative alignment created by the New Deal, Civil Rights movement, and Reagan/Thatcher revolutions) is a spectacularly bad fit for the issues currently facing the country.

        • Plumber says:

          “….I feel like the traditional left/right split in the US (more-or-less a mix of the liberal/conservative alignment created by the New Deal, Civil Rights movement, and Reagan/Thatcher revolutions) is a spectacularly bad fit for the issues currently facing the country….”

          @albatross11,

          I disagree completely. 

          The old union and Catholic versus country club and Episcopalian traditional left/right was intuitive and fitting, it’s the modern college city girls “left” versus rural church men “right” that has me baffled, and which seems to be about social signalling rather than concrete issues that I understand. 

          A return to the traditional left/right divide would be an improvement, at least for my sanity.

          • albatross11 says:

            Well, as one example, a lot of the left/right split as of, say, Thatcher/Reagan was about how best to fight the cold war. (There was actually a lot of rhetoric from old cold war battles recycled for the war on terror, where it really made very little sense.)

            There’s just not anything very much like the cold war going on now.

    • cassander says:

      It’s a mistake to think that either group pushes instinctively for markets. Deep down, most people dislike markets, those on the left dislike them because wealth is such an explicit hierarchy, and people on the right dislike them because capitalism is always disrupting existing hierarchies.

    • hyperboloid says:

      We’ve been through this before, but the terms left and right come from the French revolution.

      In 1789 when the Estates General was convened by Louie XVI to resolve the nation’s economic crisis the majority of the delegates swore an oath not to dissolve until France had a constitution. as the third estate was a bare majority of the the body, they immediately descended into infighting and factionalism. The supporters of the rights of the King, the clergy, and the aristocracy came to sit on the right; and republicans, the representatives of the monarchy’s bourgeois creditors (who were even then beginning to be called capitalistes ), and those elected to represent the urban Sans-culottes sat on the left.

      Ever since then those who have advocated greater egalitarianism have been called the “left”, and those who have opposed them have been called the “right”. These categories are relative and can be quite loose.

      When one talks of equality the question quickly becomes equality of what, and between whom? The Communists are fanatically devoted to material equality almost to the exclusion of all other things, feminists are concerned with equality of the sexes, various sorts of liberal with equality before the law.

      Some people on the right, almost exclusively in North America, like to identify the left with those who favor greater state control. This has almost nothing to do with how the terms are used by anybody else. Everybody who fought in the Spanish civil war saw it as a fight between Izquierdistas y derechistas. How could one make sense of that using the stateist vs anti-stateist schema? On the one side you have Fascists and monarchists, on the other you have liberals, communists, and anarchists. If you see it as a fight over whether to preserve the existing hierarchies of Spanish society things become very clear.

      If you wonder why egalitarian ideas are so popular with intellectuals all I can offer is that they are basically correct, and most people who’s career affords them the opportunity to think about these things recognizes this fact. Since the eighteenth century those who have aimed to increase equality have brought the world representative democracy, capitalism, free trade, women’s suffrage, racial equality(up to a point), the abolition of slavery, and the end of imperialism. Of course some of them also brought the world Communsim, so it’s not on unblemished record.

      People on the right often site some variation of Conquest’s infamous law that any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing, or in a modern guise that “Cthulhu always swims left”. Various conspiratorial explanations for this phenomenon have been around for centuries claiming that it’s due to the Illuminati, or liberal elites, or most infamously the Jews. It never seems to occur to them that the most parsimonious explanation is that reality has a well known liberal bias.

      • cassander says:

        Ever sense then those who have advocated greater egalitarianism have been called the “left”, and those who have opposed them have been called the “right”. These categories are relative and can be quite loose.

        I would say rather that the left are those who want to tear down established hierarchies of authority and the right seeks to preserve them, but alright.

        Some people on the right, almost exclusively in North America, like to identify the left with those who favor greater state control. This has almost nothing to do with how the terms are used by anybody else.

        this is, to put it mildly, nonsense on stilts. Anarchists are a tiny fraction of the left. the overwhelming majority of the left seeks to expand state power to enforce, using your terms, their particular brand of egalitarianism. the claim that they don’t seek to expand the power of the state for its own sake is a pedantic dodge. it doesn’t matter than expanding the power of the state isn’t their purpose, it’s almost invariably their method.

        If you wonder why egalitarian ideas are so popular with intellectuals all I can offer is that they are basically correct, and most people who’s career affords them the opportunity to think about these things recognizes this fact.

        Of course, prior to about 1750 or so, everyone who ever sat down to think about it came to the conclusion that slavery was a just part of the natural order. In 1450, almost everyone in europe who thought about it came to the conclusion that Catholicism was the one true religion! Don’t confuse consensus with accuracy, especially when it’s politically motivated.

        It never seems to occur to them that the most parsimonious explanation is that reality has a well known liberal bias.

        You can’t possibly be that unself-aware, can you?

        • Tatterdemalion says:

          this is, to put it mildly, nonsense on stilts. Anarchists are a tiny fraction of the left. the overwhelming majority of the left seeks to expand state power to enforce, using your terms, their particular brand of egalitarianism. the claim that they don’t seek to expand the power of the state for its own sake is a pedantic dodge. it doesn’t matter than expanding the power of the state isn’t their purpose, it’s almost invariably their method.

          There are some areas (economic regulation and gun control obvious one) where leftists favour more state control and rightists left, conversely, there are others (e.g. gay rights, abortion, drugs, criminal sentencing, turning a blind eye to police misconduct) where it’s the reverse.

          At the moment, on balance, I think it’s probably fair to say that Western left-wingers favour more state control than Western right-wingers, but I think that’s only been true for the last 10 or 20 years, as social conservatism has lost ground to liberalism and liberalism has lost ground to social justice activism, so you can’t make it part of an ongoing distinction, whereas I think hyperboloid’s point about egalitarianism, while a gross oversimplification that gets all sorts of details wrong, is a good first-order approximation.

          You can’t possibly be that unself-aware, can you?

          Less of this sort of thing, please.

          • cassander says:

            >There are some areas (economic regulation and gun control obvious one) where leftists favour more state control and rightists left,

            You cannot consider the regulation of all economic activity “one” thing. we have a regulatory state that costs trillions a year to enforce and comply with, it’s probably the single biggest diver of human behavior in history.

            there are others (e.g. gay rights, abortion, drugs, criminal sentencing, turning a blind eye to police misconduct) where it’s the reverse.

            Not really, no. On gay rights, mandated tolerance (bake the cake or else) is as much a state imposition as mandated intolerance. the non-statist position would be neither. On police powers, those economic regulations aren’t going to enforce themselves. Must I remind you of eric garner, killed during an arrest over his violation of an economic regulation. As for drugs, you can champion pot all you want, but it’s not the left that advocating for the FDA letting people take drugs it doesn’t approve. the left almost universally wants to accomplish its aims by the expansion of the state.

            At the moment, on balance, I think it’s probably fair to say that Western left-wingers favour more state control than Western right-wingers, but I think that’s only been true for the last 10 or 20 years,

            It’s been true since the first world war.

            , whereas I think hyperboloid’s point about egalitarianism, while a gross oversimplification that gets all sorts of details wrong, is a good first-order approximation.

            As I said, I disagree with his phrasing, but there’s truth in the idea that the core of the left is leveling. I said as much. That doesn’t make his other claims true.

          • Matt M says:

            There are some areas (economic regulation and gun control obvious one) where leftists favour more state control and rightists left, conversely, there are others (e.g. gay rights, abortion, drugs, criminal sentencing, turning a blind eye to police misconduct) where it’s the reverse.

            I dispute this claim. In none of the areas you mention does the left want substantially less state control. They just want a different kind of control.

            They don’t want “no control” over abortion. They demand that abortion on demand be legal and easy to obtain in every possible jurisdiction. They want to federally require that parental consent not be required or provided. They want to themselves dictate the timing of when abortions will and will not be allowed. They want all abortions to be free, funded by the state, provided exclusively by government licensed doctors. Etc.

            Same thing with drugs. In no state where marijuana has been “legalized” has the law been changed such that the result is now “you can do whatever you want with marijuana.” Instead, it’s just another centralization and taxation scheme where every aspect of it is heavily and extensively regulated, and highly taxed. Only people with official government approval are allowed to sell it. Etc.

            They don’t want “no control” over gay rights. They want the state to fine and jail anyone who is unwilling to bake a gay wedding cake. They demand that every jurisdiction support, license, and honor gay marriages.

            I could go on here, but what would be the point?

        • Tatterdemalion says:

          They don’t want “no control” over abortion. They demand that abortion on demand be legal and easy to obtain in every possible jurisdiction. They want to federally require that parental consent not be required or provided. They want to themselves dictate the timing of when abortions will and will not be allowed. They want all abortions to be free, funded by the state, provided exclusively by government licensed doctors. Etc.

          I think you’re conflating limiting state control over individuals with the interplay of different levels of the state.

          I think that the situation in which state control over abortion is minimised is almost* exactly what you describe liberals as wanting – one where everyone, everywhere, is free to decide for themselves whether to have an abortion or not.

          As far as I can tell, the thing you’re contrasting it to is a situation in which different subjuristictions get to make their own choices about how much control to exercise over the lives of individuals.

          I think that the measure of state control is “when is an individual allowed to make their own choices, vs when are they constrained by a branch of the state”; I don’t think that it’s in any way relevant whether they’re constrained by a federal government or a parish council.

          You make precisely the same mistake with gay marriages – yes, the left want to force all juristictions (which are abstract objects, not people) to allow people (which are people) to choose for themselves whether to get married or not – that is, they want the situation in which state control over individuals is minimised.

          A mixture of repressive and non-repressive jurisdictions is more repressive than all jurisdictions.

          How much control different branches of the state exercise over one another has nothing to do with how free a country is – that’s solely about how much control the state in total exercises over individuals.

          I think it’s probably true to say that, at least in the USA, the left wants to see state power centralised and the right to see it distributed more often than vice versa. Certainly, I would cheerfully vote to remove the 19th to 24th words from the 10th amendment. But the main reason for that is that the left wants to use the power of the federal government to restrict the right of state governments to control individuals – that is, to reduce state control, rather than to increase it.

          • albatross11 says:

            Antidiscrimination law is one place that contradicts this claim–liberals (very broadly–antidiscrimination law is popular overall) want to use the power of the government to require that employers, landlords, and businesses employ/rent to/do business with members of protected groups, even if they explicitly don’t want to. In cases where there is a stronger state law than federal law, liberals (much narrower meaning here) support imposing those stricter requirements–for example, if a given state has a law against discrimination on the basis of gender identity, but the feds don’t, the liberal position is going to be in favor of enforcing that law.

            Another counterexample involves gun ownership. Approximately zero liberals support the idea that state restrictions on firearm ownership should be struck down in favor of the greater freedom permitted by the feds.

          • Matt M says:

            You’re not totally wrong, but that’s only half my point.

            The left wants everyone to be able to choose whether to have an abortion or not, sure. But they want no one to be able to choose whether they pay for abortions or not. All must be compelled to finance abortions, regardless of their personal stance on them. This involves extensive state control, in a way that ultimately affects a larger percentage of the population than a complete ban on abortion would (there are more taxpayers than there are women who want/get abortions).

            And again with gay marriage. They want everyone to be able to decide whether to get married or not, but they want no one to be able to decide whether to serve a gay wedding or not. All must be forced to comply.

            Even independent of the federalist concerns, it is not at all obvious that in any of these scenarios, the left favors maximum individual freedom. In all cases they still want heavy-handed enforcement by some level of government.

          • Dan L says:

            @ Tatterdemalion:

            I think that the measure of state control is “when is an individual allowed to make their own choices, vs when are they constrained by a branch of the state”; I don’t think that it’s in any way relevant whether they’re constrained by a federal government or a parish council.

            This. A critical role of the federal government in the US is to act as a check against states’ control over their citizens. If the federal government decides to deny states power within a sphere of life, one can reasonably argue that this is a centralization of power but it’s disingenuous in the extreme to argue that this is a net increase in governmental power. It’s like calling the selective incorporation of the First Amendment “oppressive government intrusion into the regulation of free speech”.

            It is true that the Democrats tend to prefer federal control over a given area while the Republicans would prefer it be up to the states, but this is a very broad-strokes generalization and there are plenty of exceptions. My take on the matter is that neither party has particularly strong principles in this matter, and cynically favors whichever level of government is fulfilling their agenda today.

            (But is also very much not a coincidence that the Democratic base includes groups that have seen state control over their lives eliminated at the federal level.)

            @ Matt M:

            Even independent of the federalist concerns, it is not at all obvious that in any of these scenarios, the left favors maximum individual freedom. In all cases they still want heavy-handed enforcement by some level of government.

            “They”

            It is not a rare thing, for someone to want the biggest stick around to enforce their will on everyone else. The idea that the US Left is uniquely and universally guilty of it is laughable.

      • Slocum says:

        If you wonder why egalitarian ideas are so popular with intellectuals all I can offer is that they are basically correct

        But academic leftists are not egalitarians. They are deeply embedded in hierarchical systems of rank (systems that they don’t wish to dismantle). Tenured vs non-tenured. Full vs associate vs assistant professors. Endowed chairs. Academy members. Citation rankings. Winners of Nobel prizes, Fields Medals, MacArthur Fellowships, etc. The same is true in government with secretaries, under-secretaries, assistant-secretaries, and its civil-service GS rankings which, BTW, have direct military rank equivalents:

        https://www.federalpay.org/article/civilian-to-military-rank

        (I particularly love this sentence: “These tables help civilian and military personnel determine proper conduct for social and diplomatic purposes when interacting with each other.”)

        In comparison, private-sector organizations tend to be much flatter, looser and more egalitarian in manner.

        • Tatterdemalion says:

          That’s not an accurate portrayal of academic culture as I’ve ever experienced it – it tends to be much more egalitarian and less heirarchical, with seniors much more willing to be argued with by juniors and fewer social distinctions of rank, that what I’ve seen of most other walks of life (which is, admittedly, limited)

  22. tmk says:

    > no_bear_so_low does research on Google trends, including how left-wing searches are gaining on right-wing searches over time

    Strange that they never consider changing Internet demographics as an explanation. Since 2004 computers and smartphones have become cheap, ubiquitous and easier to use. The demographics of Internet users in 2004 and 2018 is very different.

    • Matt M says:

      But why would this favor increasing left-wing searches?

      My much more fun theory here is some combination of “Right-wingers have given up on Google because they assume it’s biased” and “Google is biased and is actively lying about this sort of stuff”

      • JPNunez says:

        This is my take as well. At least the “right wingers have given up on google” part.

        Right wingers are probably getting more of their info from whatever subreddits they prefer, or forums, etc.

        • mdet says:

          While I do know one right-wing guy who’s given up on google, does that really generalize? When I think “average right-leaning person” I think of a 50-something guy from a working class-ish background. I don’t know how many of them are going to subreddits instead of just google searching when they need something online.

          The actual graphs in the post basically just say “Googling ‘socialism’ spiked in popularity relative to googling ‘conservatism’ and ‘libertarianism’ around 2008-09, and 2015-16, and those spikes haven’t entirely died down yet”. I’m gonna go with the simple explanation that in 2008-09 a lot of Republicans were accusing Obama and Occupy Wall Street of being socialists, and in 2015-16 Bernie Sanders was accusing himself of being socialist, so there were large upticks among both liberals and conservatives wondering what exactly that means. But neither conservatives nor libertarians gained any news-cycle buzz during this time, so no spike. (“Libertarian” googles actually do spike relative to “Marxist” googles in 2016, probably from people trying to figure out if they should vote for Gary Johnson). The author states that these search trends don’t correspond to massive gains in left wing sentiment among the general public, but you don’t have to actually vote Bernie to want to know what he’s talking about.

          This is a pretty un-exciting explanation though.

  23. Hoopdawg says:

    Somehow, I was surprised that the “left-wing” searches in the google comparison actually were left-wing. I guess I got too accustomed to hot takes in the vein of “leftists are Clinton supporters who oppose freedom of speech” around those parts.

  24. The Element of Surprise says:

    In that map of philosophy, right in the middle of model theory, mathematical logic, recursion theory, theory of science, and theory of biology there is–Marxism. I… guess I will start reading more about Marxist philosophy?

    • Urstoff says:

      I found that interesting as well. Also interesting: the distance between philosophy of science and “theory of science”. Not so surprising: epistemology being it’s own big island with little connection to much else.

    • belvarine says:

      The Marxists Internet Archive contains a wealth of information for the interested:

      https://www.marxists.org/archive/index.htm

    • matthewravery says:

      Ware the low-dimensional summary of highly-dimensional data!

      (Especially in cases where they use a brand-new algorithm and don’t offer any useful interpretation of the dimensions they’ve created. I mean, the plot doesn’t even have labeled axes! And don’t get me started on the clustering, which appears to cover only a small portion of the total articles in their data set, but I can’t really tell because they don’t tell me…. But hey, the picture is gorgeous, so there’s that!)

      • parerga says:

        Yep, as we say in german: “Da scheiden sich die Geister.” (It’s where minds fork their paths.”) I actually state both techniques, umap and hdbscan, in the graphic, but I can fully understand that people distrust an uninterpretable (and therefore unlabeled) axis.
        I think that I can provide more insight into the data using “real” clustering that looks only for very dense data, as opposed to partitioning techniques that assign every point a lable. But both ways work well.

        You can find the full code for the project (with minuscule differences in data and method) here.

        • matthewravery says:

          Yes, you did state the methods! I actually went and looked up the dimension reduction paper. My point wasn’t that the methods were opaque but that the newly-generated dimensions were. When doing exploratory analysis of this nature (PCA and everything that comes after it), I always like to at least give a vague notion of how each dimension should be interpreted. If I find I’m unable to explain them, I question whether they’re really that useful. (And they still can be for some tasks!)

          I probably came off sounding more negative than I felt about the picture, but it checked a lot of the boxes for my concerns about proliferated data science:

          1) It looks really clean/professional
          2) It’s accessible but non-specific, allowing folks to draw any number of interpretations (see above in this thread)
          3) It has the appearance of analytical rigor (and in this case, required doing a lot of things that are pretty tricky, mostly the feature extraction if I had to guess)
          4) It ultimately probably isn’t giving us very useful information

          So people walk away thinking, “Wow, that picture/analysis provides us with lots of good, useful information,” when really, what they should think is, “Huh. That’s a cool picture. I’m interested to see what their next steps are.”

          For example, I think The Element of Surprise taking this picture as a cue to look at a subject he hadn’t anticipated would be close to his interests but was on the plot is a good use of your analysis. Urstoff questioning the distance between two clusters, OTOH, isn’t. Without knowing what those clusters or dimensions mean, reading too much into the distance is a bridge too far, IMO.

          • parerga says:

            The full code for the project is available on my website. To a certain extent I take the blame for misunderstandings, which is why I note in a newer version — Scott has kindly posted the link — explicitly that you should not try to interpret the axis.
            On the other hand your critique seems to fit all kinds of bad readers, and is by no means limited to datascience. Anybody can take a book about, let’s say the history of philosophy, read two pages and the summary, and come a way with terrible impressions, without any appreciation for the complicated methodological assumptions and boundaries any history of ideas faces.

            Nietzsche describes the problem thus, in Human, all too human II:

            The Worst Readers. — The worst readers are those who act like plundering soldiers. They take out some things that they might use, cover the rest with filth and confusion, and blaspheme about the whole. (137)

            But I do share concern about the limits of the conclusions that can be drawn from this graphic. When we try to answer very specific questions about the discipline, a slightly modified method, the usage of actual statistical tools and little to now dataviz become necessary.

  25. actinide meta says:

    Has anyone tried the striate cortex connectivity described in the hallucinations link (with the angle-dependent connections) as a neural network architecture? It sounds like it might be pretty nice!

  26. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    https://reason.com/archives/2018/10/07/everything-you-know-about-stat?utm_medium=email

    This looks like a reasonable analysis of state educational rankings– it ignores the measures of what is spent in favor of how students do on tests, and looks at how well various demographic groups do, and how much is spent (adjusted for cost of living) compared to the quality of education.

    Has the article missed anything important?

    • RobJ says:

      Really interesting. Pretty shocking to see that $ spent per student was used as a measure of education quality.

      The criticisms I can think of are:
      – Pulling graduation rates out of the equation makes sense if all you want to see is student performance, but I think spending money on increasing graduation rates is a defensible use of public education money (even if the stat can be games by letting people graduate without proving they’ve met any particular criteria). The same goes for pre-k enrollment, although I guess you’d hope it would improved scores.
      – Just by eyeballing, it seems like how rural a state is makes a big difference in spending. As in, more rural population means less efficient education (although there are certainly plenty of outliers… New York looks pretty bad and Virginia pretty good).
      – They investigate results by race to show how demographics affect scores, but don’t do it by income, which might also provide insight.
      – The rhetoric around “completely flipping the traditional rankings” seems somewhat overstated and I’d like to actually see the regression for teachers unions showing that they have a “powerful negative effect on student performance”

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        Pulling graduation rates out of the equation makes sense if all you want to see is student performance, but I think spending money on increasing graduation rates is a defensible use of public education money

        Why do you say this? Does graduating from high school actually improve the actual education level of students? I suspect not. Those marginal students spending enough time in school to graduate don’t learn any more, just satisfy the red tape to get a degree, and thus do better relatively to other kids. I can see states making it easier to get a degree, so their kids have a competitive advantage to kids from other states, but I see no benefit to for kids in the aggregate who don’t move out-of-state.

        • RobJ says:

          I see where you’re coming from, but the bar already exists that having a high school diploma is important, so trying to get as many kids over that bar as possible makes sense to me. If you were a parent with a marginal kid, would you rather attend a school more likely to get them to graduation or not? My impression is that many jobs require a high school diploma, so getting more kids to graduate would be a benefit to those kids that graduated that otherwise would not have. They will have more options.

          I can definitely understand not taking the graduation rates into account when comparing quality of education between states (which is probably over-broad anyway), but the efficiency scores don’t seem to acknowledge the fact (or at least don’t seem to find it notable) that public schools do plenty of things that aren’t just education, but may also be useful.

          • cryptoshill says:

            @RobJ – but the bar for the high school diploma exists because some number of people don’t get them. Increasing the percentage of people with one just reduces the value of the HS diploma for more money spent. It’s potentially the most utility-minimizing thing to do. The government loses utility (public money), people and businesses lose an important signaling vehicle, and it doesn’t even fix the signaling economy.

          • RobJ says:

            @cryptoshill – I guess if you view the additional education or “red tape” as useless, then sure its just money going to nothing but inflating the signaling game. But if that extra effort actually has some educational benefit (or even just a confidence boost to students learning they can succeed), then you are getting a higher quality of citizen. And you can make the same argument all the way down… why put effort into getting 11th grade students to 12th grade, or 9th to 10th, or 1st to 2nd.

            You can look at it as a sort of “minimum standard” education that we want kids to receive. So of course schools will try to get them to reach it. That’s the whole point, right? Every grade has a minimum standard they want kids to reach to move on to the next grade level. For the school system as a whole, “graduation” is the standard.

            It seems like what you want is more rigorous standards for graduation so that we can be sure it means something other than the student just showing up, and I can agree with that.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            The stats, as we have them, are on crypto’s side on this one. Education is almost all signaling after grade 10.

          • RobJ says:

            Can you point me to what stats that would be? Just thinking about it for a minute, I’m not sure what stat would show at when education becomes signalling. No difference in life outcomes between HS grad and dropout after 10th grade?

            Either way, it seems like the solution is to fix the standards if the current ones don’t work well rather than punishing schools for trying to meet the standards they are set with.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            There are various stats that show that additional years of schooling without getting a diploma don’t convey much if any additional buying power, particularly if you adjust for standardized test scores.

            Employers reason that if a job applicant has been admitted by a college, has completed the degree requirements, and has the credential, she is more likely than a job applicant who does not have the credential to have the kinds of skills that the employer needs and wants. The credential will therefore have considerable value to the degree holder and to the employer even if college has added nothing to the labor force productivity of the college graduate. It has value to the individual and to the employer purely as a screen or as a filter.

            https://www.nas.org/articles/The_Sheepskin_Effect

            Basically. The research is like this: If you drop out after 2 or 3 years of high school, no one cares, if you graduate, that significantly increases your value. In addition, merely being admitted to a university is worth about 1/4 of the value added, with completing the 4th year (about 1/2 the value) being worth more than completing years 1-3 (another 1/4).

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Presumably the paper the education article was based on.

  27. Ceres is a minor planet, not just an asteroid. it’s astronomical symbol is just as valid as Pluto’s!

  28. Nietzsche says:

    About the philosophy map. The problem is that the authors have used an algorithm to force a multidimensional set of data into two dimensions, and that may well create some clustering artifacts. I don’t know how the particular algorithm they are using works, but an example of how a 3D to 2D projection leads to artificial clustering, consider the night sky: to us, it looks like a 2D scattering of stars which we cluster into constellations– but those stars, when you put the third dimension back in, are not close at all. They only appear clustered in the particular projection we are using. So I would take all of his conclusions as simply assertions. While “continental philosophy” may not seem that distant from the rest of the work in this projection, it may well show up as extremely remote in the original n-dimensional dataset. The right thing to do would have been to do clustering in n-dimensions and *then* project it onto 2 for visualization.

  29. Joel Salomon says:

    All Star in Aramaic was a human-done translation in both directions; see https://isaacwritesaboutmusic.com/2018/08/20/i-was-the-one-who-translated-all-star-into-aramaic-and-back-please-stop-thanks/ for explanation by the translator.

  30. Urstoff says:

    A visualization of sorts of the history of philosophy: https://www.denizcemonduygu.com/philo/

  31. eqdw says:

    Update on the mystery illness plaguing US diplomats in Cuba (and now China) – they may be a microwave-based weapon developed by the old USSR, possibly deployed from the back of a van. Still no word on who is using it against US diplomats or why.

    When I read that article a month ago, it sent me down a Wikipedia hole around the Microwave Auditory Effect. This one passage stood out to me

    In 1975, an article by neuropsychologist Don Justesen discussing radiation effects on human perceptions referred to an experiment by Joseph Sharp and Mark Grove at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research during which Sharp and Grove reportedly were able to recognize nine out of ten words transmitted by “voice modulated microwaves”. Since the radiation levels approached the (then current) 10mW/cm² limit of safe exposure, critics have observed that under such conditions brain damage from thermal effects of high power microwave radiation would occur, and there was “no conclusive evidence for MAE at lower energy densities”.[5][6]

    This is literally saying that in 1975 the US experimentally verified a technology to make people hear voices in their heads.

    Granted, it immediately goes on to say “also it took so much power that it would microwave your brain”. But on the other hand, 40 years is a lot of time to operationalize a technology.

    • albatross11 says:

      It also may be that the sort of people who want to f–k with a target by making them think they’re crazy (or make them critically mishear something in a dangerous situation) don’t actually mind so much if they also do some brain damage.

      • eqdw says:

        Sometimes I wonder how many conspiracy theories have a kernel of truth to them. I mean, if the United States Government was publicly claiming to have the ability to make people hear voices, 40 years ago, what crazy capabilities do they have today that they aren’t even acknowledging.

        Honourable mention: a patent I recently saw that claims that by imperceptibly flickering the brightness of a gif on a webpage in your peripheral vision, they can reliably generate specific entrained brainwave patterns to lull them into a daze and, if intense enough, trigger nausea.

    • Aapje says:

      @eqdw

      They told me I was crazy for wearing a tinfoil hat.

      WhO iS CrAzY NoW, HUh?

  32. silver_swift says:

    Robin Hanson: The Game

    This strikes me as a good “hard mode” for Camel (C)up. Just replace all betting actions in the game with trading one or more predictions on which camel will win or lose the game.

  33. Edward Scizorhands says:

    On polarization, one thing I noticed on Twitter is that I will read a left-wing tweet, and it will have a huge pile of Likes and few responses, and then I will read a right-wing tweet, totally opposed, and it, too, will have a huge pile of Likes and few responses. They are two separate worlds, comingled with each other.

    Most social media is very poorly suited to convincing the other side, because what you write for an audience of co-believers reads nothing like what you write for an audience you want to convince. You read the other side and are astonished by how they are ignoring the Completely True Facts For Your Side, and know they are just that much more stupid.

    (Even writing skeptically about your side for your own side is likely to make you a witch.)

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Also, if I were going to design a debate space geared towards maximum intransigence, I don’t think I could do better than FaceBook. Here, in a culture where being wrong means you’re evil, have an argument in front of everyone you know, from childhood friends to family to coworkers. That’s going to work out great.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        So….how would we design something better? I can certainly discuss politics on SSC, but that’s not really what we aim for when we say we want democracy.

        If your problem with Facebook is that your coworkers and family members will call you evil, then the problem isn’t really Facebook, or democracy, or anything else. I mean, your coworkers and family members are calling you evil. That’s…not really fixable under any system.

        • albatross11 says:

          Among my Facebook friends, the problem is that there are a smallish number of people who will brook no argument on many key issues, and in fact won’t hesitate to start throwing around nasty names. These are family and friends, and I don’t want to break off connections with them, but they make any kind of nuanced discussion quite difficult.

          Along with that, the format makes any kind of long discussion almost unworkable, and rewards short memes and point-scoring “checkmate, fundies” type arguments. And it connects together lots of people who maybe I didn’t want to get involved in a political or CW discussion with, including perfectly decent people whose political/social bubbles and Overton windows almost don’t overlap at all, so almost anything from the other side is going to sound crazy or evil.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Almost anything where you can debate anonymously or pseudonymously is better. It’s much easier to admit you’re wrong when no one knows who you are. Or also much easier to do that thing Scott said as a play on “First they ignore you, then they laugh…” and it goes through five other steps of gradually lessening resistance and begrudgingly agreeing you have a point etc until you win.

          You can’t change someone’s mind over FaceBook. All you can do is browbeat people into submission.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Facebook is terrible for multiple reasons. The audience, the reacts (none of which expresses unequivocal disapproval; not that having a Dislike button would be any better), that stuff that generates more heat gets pushed up, etc. There are people who in one-on-one, in-person conversations are agreeable and nuanced, and on Facebook they turn into utter monsters. This doesn’t seem to be something that one political persuasion does and the other doesn’t; it’s universal. That random acquaintances-of-acquaintances can stumble in and get involved makes things worse.

      • Tenacious D says:

        If The Social Network has any accuracy about the origins of Facebook it was practically designed to facilitate social signalling.

    • Matt M says:

      The concept of “ratio” on Twitter was basically invented to look at this particular scenario.

      High “ratio” tweets (where the number of likes is proportionally higher than the number of responses) are considered to be quality tweets. Low ratio tweets generate a lot of comments (presumably people telling the person they are wrong) and few likes.

      I recall reading an article about how Chris Cillizza was one of the lowest ratio accounts on all of Twitter.

    • Garrett says:

      I’ve discovered that merely pointing out the logical errors in another’s position gets you cast as the devil.

  34. Loriot says:

    For what it’s worth, reading the comments here often shifts my opinion towards the opposing viewpoint. Maybe it’s because people here are actually trying to be convincing, rather than preaching to the choir/inciting outrage.

  35. vV_Vv says:

    Update on the mystery illness plaguing US diplomats in Cuba (and now China) – they may be a microwave-based weapon developed by the old USSR,

    Okay.

    possibly deployed from the back of a van. Still no word on who is using it against US diplomats or why.

    Probably a gay frog conspiracy.

  36. Kurt Anderson says:

    In no way am I claiming to be a brilliant person, but I did a version of Luke Muehlhauser’s “Projects I wish…” on my own website a couple of years ago and still update it regularly. I love that idea!

  37. JPNunez says:

    Gotta admit I was wrong on the lady dogwhistling that sign.

  38. Levantine says:

    Ron Unz did a lot of interesting work on both sides of the political spectrum, and you may have cached that he’s a guy with some heterodox opinions but still pretty thoughtful. I was disappointed to learn that he’s now gone totally off the deep end into Holocaust denial and other related beliefs; this article gives a good bio and summary. This scares me because I don’t know how it happened; I often see people I respect in one domain having otherwise crazy opinions, but for some reason it’s worse when I can watch it happening in real time.

    You are saying: it’s bad because you don’t know how it happened, and worse because you can watch it happening. Watching it happening should give clues how it happened. What you say sounds like an emotional reaction that only sees the cup half empty.

    The reason for the reaction are opinions about historic events.
    Feeling scared about some opinions on what should be done with an arms arsenal or the government in the near future is pretty understandable.
    Feeling scared about the historical opinion of one bookish website owner is much less so.
    Instead, it is suggestive that the topic and certain view on it are treated as sacred, rather than in – a rational manner.

    As for any real craziness: where there is misplaced sacredness with its taboos, there you can expect
    deviancy as an element of rebellion against the forbidden, and
    stupidity as a natural consequence of the lack of free speech.

    • beleester says:

      If Holocaust denial was just a “historical opinion,” it wouldn’t be scary, but it almost never is. It’s inevitably packaged with other, nastier beliefs, usually something along the lines of “The Jews have been pushing the Holocaust myth to garner sympathy and put their nation beyond criticism.” I have literally never seen someone who was honestly “just asking questions” about the historical narrative.

      (A justified fear in this case – the article links to some other nasty anti-semitic stuff Unz has posted)

      I would say that learning that someone you respect is becoming hateful is scarier than learning that someone you respect has opposite opinions on foreign policy.

    • When the average idiot writes a blog post denying the Holocaust, I usually just laugh at it. Not merely the logical fallacies used to support it, but also the utter pointlessness of it. I could see why Germans would deny it, but what’s the point of American white nationalists denying it? Their ancestors didn’t kill any Jews, they fought against the Nazis. If a Jew claims that white Americans are nevertheless responsible for the actions of their fellow non-Jewish Whites in Europe, white nationalists could use this to point out the nature of Jewish identity. They would point out that you would never expect the Irish to blame Russians for England’s actions during the potato famine, and use this to show that Jews aren’t just another white ethnic group like the Irish or Italians, but rather one which sees themselves as essentially different from non-Jewish whites, in the same way that white nationalists see them. Likewise, if a Jew were to argue that America shares responsibility for the Holocaust because it didn’t let in enough Jews, they would point out how no other group which experienced genocide makes a similar argument, and ask what this says about the way the Jews view their relationship to the governments of the world. But that would be assuming they have any brains, which they don’t.

      When I read Ron Unz’s article, it was different. Here was someone I used to admire descending into madness. So there’s the question, what is the cause? Could it be a tumor à la Charles Whitman?

      • John Schilling says:

        The point of denying the holocaust is that they want to get it right next time, but they can’t afford to say so. If everybody knows what the Holocaust was, then they will recognize anyone proposing Holocaust 2.0 through any plausible camouflage, and drive them out of polite society. And, in countries without the First Amendment, possibly straight into prison. If “everybody knows” that the Holocaust was a mythical conspiracy theory, then nobody can call out the proponents of Holocaust 2.0 without being branded a loony conspiracy theorist. Greatest trick the Devil ever pulled, etc.

        And in the meantime, it’s as good a way as any to fill a hall with fellow Jew-hating wannabe mass murderers while pretending to be just edgy revisionist historians. Nobody will really be fooled, but the speaker probably doesn’t go to jail and everybody else can semi-plausibly claim to have just been curious in a way that wouldn’t fly if the speech had been advertised as “Jews: My plan to kill them all”.

        So there’s the question, what is the cause [in Ron Unz’s case]? Could it be a tumor à la Charles Whitman?

        Could be that with great age comes not giving a fuck. Ok, Unz isn’t that old, but if he’s past believing that he can be elected Governor or publish a mainstream magazine ever agin or whatnot, he may no longer feel the need to censor beyond-the-pale beliefs that he’s held all along.

        • Matt M says:

          He’s not that old, but he does have what is known as “F-you money” does he not?

        • Civilis says:

          The point of denying the holocaust is that they want to get it right next time, but they can’t afford to say so.

          I think this is missing an important step. Ultimately, I agree with you that most if not all Holocaust deniers want to either genocide the Jewish people or at least would have no problems with it happening, but I don’t think the reasoning is that direct.

          I think that for an intelligent conspiracy theorist, you have to look at their chain of reasoning, and an important part of that is trying to figure out what their logic is so you can see where it goes wrong. With a conspiracy theory, a major point of the theory has to be “what’s the point of the conspiracy in the first place?”, and in the case of the Holocaust, it’s “why would someone fabricate the death of millions of people?”

          In the case of many of the Kennedy Assassination conspiracy theories, Kennedy was killed by a shadowy government conspiracy so that Johnson, who was either a conspirator or more amenable to the conspirator’s goals, could be president. The 9/11 theories have the government blowing up the WTC to justify a war in the Middle East. I would suspect Armenian genocide denial sees the claims of an Armenian genocide as an attempt to claim that some currently Turkish land is rightfully Armenian. I will admit that the ‘moon landings were fake’ conspiracies are harder to justify this way, but I suspect that the most complete theories either include the cover-up of a massive theft of government funding or of proof the world is flat (and flat earth conspiracies probably trace back to covering up proof that the Bible was literal).

          It’s not that everyone that believes these conspiracies thinks this logically; I suspect there are some people (the lizardman quotient) that see the ‘evidence’ presented for the conspiracy and believe it, but those originating the theories think this way.

          So, back to the Holocaust. Why do these people say that multiple governments and tens of thousands of people (minimum) conspired to massively inflate the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust?

          • nkurz says:

            Ultimately, I agree with you that most if not all Holocaust deniers want to either genocide the Jewish people or at least would have no problems with it happening

            The “if not all” seems like an unnecessary qualification. Do you believe that Unz (ethnically Jewish, parents spoke Yiddish) would have no problems with a full Jewish genocide, of which he and his family would presumably be victims? I don’t personally know the mindset of Holocaust deniers, but I think you are underestimating the percentage who reach their conclusions independent of anti-Semitism, driven more by a distrust of official narratives than by animosity toward modern day Jews.

          • Civilis says:

            I don’t personally know the mindset of Holocaust deniers, but I think you are underestimating the percentage who reach their conclusions independent of anti-Semitism, driven more by a distrust of official narratives than by animosity toward modern day Jews.

            I’ve given a reason besides antisemitism for the persistent myth of Holocaust denial down below (the Holocaust is presented as the ultimate crime of nationalism). But I think most modern nationalists have a gripe with Jews as maintaining an identity separate and distinct from that of the host culture around them, which plays into the whole issue of ‘dual loyalties’ often thrown around. While they might not have a desire to see all (or any) Jews killed, they would be happy if the idea of a separate Jewish culture were to vanish (which in modern parlance would be a genocide of the culture).

          • I don’t have any direct observation of holocaust denial, but I can see one possible motivation. Jews in general and Israel in particular got a lot of PR mileage out of other people’s guilt feelings for the holocaust.

            Suppose you are someone who wants to be pro-Palestinian for reasons having nothing to do with anti-semitism, most obviously because you buy into the widely popular anti-colonialism movement and there aren’t any European colonies left to protest against–unless you count Israel, which looks sort of like one. The Palestinians are anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish. Hitler was anti-Jewish. Do you want to self-identify as on the same side as Hitler?

            The force of that sentiment has gradually weakened over time, with the result that lots of countries now are willing to support the Palestinians over the Israelis. But I can see that, if you were in that position, believing that the holocaust hadn’t happened, that Hitler’s anti-semitism was only on the same scale as Tsarist anti-semitism and the like, would make your support of the Palestinians feel more comfortable.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I think you guys are missing the boat here.

            Conspiracy theories are ultimately attractive because of current day positions and events, even if they are conspiracy theories about something that happened long ago. With that in hand, you can start at various “starting” points now and work back to “the Holocaust is/was a hoax”.

            For instance, if you find it attractive (because you feel not in control of your own life) to believe in a current worldwide conspiracy that rules the world via shadow government and media manipulations headed by Jews, you easily work back to “and that’s why they faked the holocaust”. Once you have a desire to for the Holocaust to be a hoax, producing “evidence” of such is a simple consequence.

      • P. George Stewart says:

        “what’s the point of American white nationalists denying it?”

        Well, because one has looked into it and found it dubious, and an indirect smear on Whites?

        Because it’s functioned as a warning that Whites shouldn’t ever have any sense of collective ethnic solidarity because look what happens when they do?

        I’m 59, I’ve believed in the Holocaust all my life, since I watched The World At War when I was a kid, while I was a socialist from when I can remember thinking about politics till my late 20s, and all through the time since then that I’ve been a centrist-ey sort of libertarian.

        But looking into the Holocaust recently, I was surprised at how little evidence there is for it.

        Right now, I don’t believe in any of the three main pillars of the Holocaust narrative any more – there’s no evidence of any order to exterminate, there’s no evidence of “gas chambers” or “death camps,” and there’s no evidence of the figure of 6 million, which seems to serve an iconic purpose rather than being a fact, and hasn’t changed even as the proposed death tolls in various camps have been revised (mostly downwards fwiw).

        I don’t believe any more that there was any plan by Nazis to deliberately exterminate Jews en masse. The nearest thing one can find that could possibly be read as such a thing is the famous Wannsee Conference. But there’s no evidence that extermination was discussed at Wannsee, and it looks to me like the “Final Solution” discussed there was the mass deportation of Jews from Germany to Russia after the end of the war (a solution Goering and others had proposed, and thought “barbaric but necessary”).

        And the more distance I have from the Holocaust narrative, the more ludicrous it seems to me that otherwise sane and intelligent people can believe it. The “gas chambers” idea alone is quite daft and unworkable, and has no evidence to support it whatsoever. Zyklon B was a de-lousing agent, and that’s all it was ever used for by the Nazis. (There’s some wiggle room for Holocaust believers in the Easternmost camps, the “Aktion Reinhardt” camps, but the “gassing” method that’s proposed to have been used there was diesel fumes from tanks IIRC.)

        The truth as far as I can see is that there were slave labour camps, certainly, and some Jews died in them, for sure, but not many, and not as a matter of deliberate policy (naturally not, since the Nazis needed their skilled and semi-skilled slave labour to make stuff for the war).

        The Einsatzgruppen forest mass murders are also real, and probably amount to 300,000 or more (although that includes various Eastern Europeans, Gypsies and resistance fighters, some of whom were Jews).

        But the Holocaust? No, that’s beginning more and more to look a”Big Lie,” a moral Ponzi Scheme, and the measure of that is the degree to which doubt about the Holocaust is increasingly desperately outlawed. That is not a normal response to a proposed historical fact, even a proposed historical fact about a proposed historical genocide.

        Here’s one thing to ponder. Whenever anyone mentions the Holocaust, the imagery that immediately comes to mind is the horrific visual imagery we’ve all seen from the liberation of the Western camps by the Western allies, and the thought (for most normal people) comes, “But that’s ridiculous, how can you deny the Holocaust, we’ve all seen the pictures!!!

        But those images are from the Western camps liberated by the Western allies. At the time, the Western camps were thought to have been “death camps” complete with “gas chambers” too. But nobody serious believes that any more.

        In fact, the emaciated bodies in the pictures and movies mostly died of Typhus and other diseases in the overcrowded conditions at the camps in the last year of the war, after the slaves had been shipped from the Eastern camps to the Western camps ahead of the advancing Russians. Under the conditions of Allied bombing, the Nazi command structure was screwed, medicine and food were hard to come by even for Germans, far less in the camps, and Germans were dying of Typhus too – but there weren’t large numbers of Germans clustered in slave labour camps dying from Typhus en masse.

        The emaciated look was the result of dysentery, not deliberate starvation. Really, if anybody’s to blame for the deaths of those people, it’s the Allies.

        Now of course, those people shouldn’t have been in the camps, there shouldn’t have been slave labour camps, the fact that there were slave labour camps is a black mark on the Nazis.

        But that was not the Holocaust, what happened in the Western camps wasn’t the Holocaust, the imagery that’s branded on our minds wasn’t the Holocaust.

        So what was? And then one’s journey begins …

    • cassander says:

      I think there’s a steelman version of holocaust denial that goes “There were a lot of ways to get killed in eastern europe between 1939 and 1945. We know for a fact that stalin was both willing and able to murder lots of people and not just cover it up, but convince the non-communist world that the nazis had done it. It’s therefore quite possible, even probable, that a lot of the victims of the holocaust were killed by the russians either during the war or shortly thereafter.”

      It’s also worth noting that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone actually make an argument like this in the wild, so to speak.

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        I think about half of Jewish victims of the Holocaust come from just the camps Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzek, and Chelmno. Presumably these deaths cannot be attributed to the Soviets in anything but indirect ways.

        The Einsatzgruppen are estimated to have killed another 1 million Jews or even a little more; I believe these numbers come from the Einsatzgruppen reports, so presumably there is no way to attribute these deaths to the Soviet Union. Another 800 000 are attributed to the ghettos, again, outside of Soviet control.

        Looking at these figures from the Holocaust Museum, the only categories that I think are compatible with your hypothesis are “Shooting operations in the USSR” (55000 deaths) and “Other” (500 000 deaths)–and it’s clear from their discussion of the “Othe”r category that not all of those deaths can be plausibly attributed to the USSR; for example, I gather that all Jews killed in Romania by the Iron Guard contribute to this figure, and 300 000 Jews killed is the figure usually attributed to Romania.

        This leaves about 250 000 deaths that could be attributed to the Soviet Union. Even if we give all of these deaths to Stalin, that’s 4% of the total for the Holocaust, and that’s an upper bound. So, “a lot of the victims” is probably an exaggeration.

        Moreover, while there certainly were a lot of ways to get killed in Eastern Europe during WWII, we know the Nazis devoted a certain extra energy to killing Jews, so there’s good reason to believe that Jews were disproportionately victims of Nazis rather than Soviets.

        Finally, apparently the first mention of the 6 million figure is from a Nazi source, who attributed it to Eichmann: 4 million in camps, plus 2 million shot by Einsatzgruppen. This is close enough to the estimates above that I think, even if there are slight overestimates, it’s clear that the Germans themselves accepted roughly the numbers and breakdown I outline above.

        So, unless you have some specific evidence beyond the fact that Stalin once tried to pin some murders on the Nazis and failed, I’d suggest that it is not particularly probable that this story is true.

        • albatross11 says:

          Also, it’s not like being off by 50% in the numbers would change anyone’s moral evaluation of what happened. “We only murdered three million people, not six million” wouldn’t be a very convincing defense, even if you could make a factual case for it.

        • cassander says:

          I believe these numbers come from the Einsatzgruppen reports, so presumably there is no way to attribute these deaths to the Soviet Union. Another 800 000 are attributed to the ghettos, again, outside of Soviet control.

          Records were fabricated for Katyn. The Russians took Berlin, which means that they could destroy or fabricate what they wanted from the official record without much external inspection.

          So, unless you have some specific evidence beyond the fact that Stalin once tried to pin some murders on the Nazis and failed, I’d suggest that it is not particularly probable that this story is true.

          Um, we do. Not just Katyn, multiple instances of it actually. The Soviet approach to post-war casualty assessment could often be summarized as “find every body we can between Moscow and Berlin that wasn’t wearing a German uniform and attribute it to the Nazis.” For example, the deaths under the Soviet occupation of Poland were carried on official Russian casualty lists through the cold war. They counted POWs that weren’t confirmed dead, but didn’t return to Russia. And some estimates even included gulag deaths among civilian war dead.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            The Soviet approach to post-war casualty assessment could often be summarized as “find every body we can between Moscow and Berlin that wasn’t wearing a German uniform and attribute it to the Nazis.”

            This is only relevant insofar as Holocaust death totals are based on Soviet assessments–I agree that we shouldn’t take the Soviets’ word for it that they had nothing to do with the Holocaust, but the fact that the Soviets lied about who they killed isn’t evidence against attributing murders to the Nazis if that attribution is based on other lines of evidence than Soviet testimony.

            The Russians took Berlin, which means that they could destroy or fabricate what they wanted from the official record without much external inspection.

            These reports were evidence in the Nuremberg trials; I am not aware that any of the defendants claimed they were fabricated.
            Also, the actions of the Einsatzgruppen are partially corroborated by witness testimony and other evidence.
            More generally, an assertion that these documents were faked is an extraordinary claim and requires more evidence than that the Soviets might have had the inclination and opportunity–these documents have been well-studied for 70 years, and so far as I know your claim that they may have been faked is the first such claim ever made. How long did Stalin’s fake Katyn records fool people?

            EDIT:
            I stand corrected, Holocaust deniers have claimed that the Einsatzgruppen reports are fake. Here is a discussion of the claim. An important point is that one of the Nuremberg defendants mentioned the existence of the reports before the Allies realized they had them, and as mentioned above, the defendants never disputed their authenticity.

          • cassander says:

            Eugene Dawn

            This is only relevant insofar as Holocaust death totals are based on Soviet assessments–I agree that we shouldn’t take the Soviets’ word for it that they had nothing to do with the Holocaust, but the fact that the Soviets lied about who they killed isn’t evidence against attributing murders to the Nazis if that attribution is based on other lines of evidence than Soviet testimony.

            The totals are based on documents that the soviets had plenty of time to look over, prune and add to.

            Also, the actions of the Einsatzgruppen are partially corroborated by witness testimony and other evidence.

            the Einsatzgruppen definitely existed. But it’s certain that at least some of the deaths attributed to them were actually people killed by the soviets, or who didn’t die at all and just got lost in the chaos.

            More generally, an assertion that these documents were faked is an extraordinary claim and requires more evidence than that the Soviets might have had the inclination and opportunity–

            I’d agree. And I’d further argue that faked documents are much less likely than lost/purged/accidentally destroyed documents that would have revealed the fates of people that were presumed dead. Again, we know for a fact that people some of the people normally blamed on the Germans or the Holocaust were killed by the Russians, the only question is how many. I would be surprised if the number was significant, but I do think it’s possible.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            The totals are based on documents that the soviets had plenty of time to look over, prune and add to.

            Some of the partial sums that comprise the totals are based on some documents that satisfy this description but not all of the partial sums have this dependence, nor do all of the relevant documents; moreover there is no evidence that the Soviets did this, only a statement that they had the opportunity.

            the Einsatzgruppen definitely existed. But it’s certain that at least some of the deaths attributed to them were actually people killed by the soviets, or who didn’t die at all and just got lost in the chaos.

            Yes, obviously the Einsatzgruppen existed, and obviously the totals have some inaccuracy, but for this to be meaningful we have to suppose that the inaccuracies change the estimates by a serious amount, and that a significant number of the inaccuracies should be attributed to Soviet action instead.
            My point was that not only did the Einsatzgruppen exist, the Nuremberg defendants recognized the documents I alluded to earlier as genuine, so the actions documented in the Einsatzgruppen reports are partially corroborated as being due to Nazi action by the Nazis whose actions are described in the reports. So, even if we discount the accuracy of the reports, there’s no particular reason to think they were faked by the Soviets, or that the numbers are inaccurate for any reasons other than the usual ones–in which case it’s not clear why we are justified in attributing the inaccuracies to Soviets dumping their murders onto the Nazi balance sheet.

            Again, we know for a fact that people some of the people normally blamed on the Germans or the Holocaust were killed by the Russians, the only question is how many.

            Why do we know this for a fact? And, the framing of “the only question is how many” implies that the answer to this question might be quite unrestricted in scope. But in fact, I don’t see any reason to believe that “how many” is anything other than a small enough number to be a rounding error on the Holocaust death totals, in which case it’s not clear why we care.

          • cassander says:

            So, even if we discount the accuracy of the reports, there’s no particular reason to think they were faked by the Soviets, or that the numbers are inaccurate for any reasons other than the usual ones–in which case it’s not clear why we are justified in attributing the inaccuracies to Soviets dumping their murders onto the Nazi balance sheet.

            You seem to be implying that it’s all or nothing. It isn’t.

            Why do we know this for a fact?

            Because we know about Katyn. Because we know of the Soviet inclusion of people who died in the gulag as “war casualties.” The Soviets blaming their crimes on the Nazis isn’t a hypothetical, it’s well established fact.

            And, the framing of “the only question is how many” implies that the answer to this question might be quite unrestricted in scope.

            Which is why, immediately after that sentence, I said “I would be surprised if the number was significant, but I do think it’s possible.”

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            You seem to be implying that it’s all or nothing. It isn’t.

            I’m not sure what “it” refers to here.

            Because we know about Katyn. Because we know of the Soviet inclusion of people who died in the gulag as “war casualties.” The Soviets blaming their crimes on the Nazis isn’t a hypothetical, it’s well established fact.

            Yes, but what we haven’t established as fact as that these are relevant comparisons for Holocaust totals. We know the Soviets tried to blame their crimes on the Nazis, but we also know that current historians haven’t fallen for it. Given that the bulk of the evidence for Holocaust deaths comes from German records, this theory rests pretty strongly on the idea that the Soviets faked Nazi records, and have gotten away with it for 70+ years.
            As far as I can tell, none of the Soviet efforts at deception involved doctoring Nazi records; they seem to have involved intimidating witnesses and planting fake evidence at the scene, so neither seem like good comparisons for what you’re alleging here.
            Also, the rest of the Allies saw through the Soviet deception pretty quickly; given that no issues have been raised over the Einsatzgruppen documents in 70+ years, and that Einsatzgruppe commanders themselves regarded the documents as broadly accurate at their trials, again the comparison to Katyn seems baseless.

            “I would be surprised if the number was significant, but I do think it’s possible.”

            In my first comment I attempted to upper bound this number and came up with 250 000 deaths–this is still probably too high, since it attributes all “shootings in USSR” and non-Romanian “other deaths” to the Soviets rather than the Nazis; it would be amazing if all of these deaths were misattributed, and in fact we’d expect the Nazis to be preferentially killing Jews over the Soviets, so even dividing these figures 2:1 in favour of the Nazis gives about 1% of Holocaust deaths attributable to Soviets rather than Nazis.

            If you want to argue that there’s any reason to expect the number to be higher than this ~1%, you’ll have to give some actual reasons to believe that specific German documents were faked or otherwise misattribute deaths; otherwise I think we can close the case on how many killings are wrongly attributed with the conclusion that it’s insignificant.

      • Civilis says:

        [This post is a half-formed thinking exercise; please critique!]

        My original theory was that Holocaust denial is rooted in antisemitism rather than defense of Nazi Germany; as such it would be important to a Holocaust denier that the death totals are a deception, not that they occurred due to someone else. As Alexander Turok points out above, the Germans might have a motive to deny that the Germans did the killing, but an American wouldn’t. To contrast, deniers of other genocides are often protecting their group; I would wager most deniers of the Armenian genocide are Turks, for example.

        Thinking about it more, and reasoning it out, there’s a historically unique relationship between the Jewish people and nationalist ideologies, and a lot of groups have a reason to go after the Jewish people for political reasons, and the easiest way for them to do that is challenging the credibility of the Holocaust which is both inexorably tied to excesses of nationalism in general and to the Jewish people.

        Part of it is the association of any right-wing nationalist ideology with the Nazis. On one hand, it’s a convenient attack against the right wing nationalists (and anyone on the right). The Nazis were German nationalists, and directed most of their ethnic hatred to the Jews, Slavs, and other European minorities in and around Germany. The American “white nationalists” are historically disproportionately fixated on hatred for African-Americans. Most of the European “white nationalists” branded as Nazis hate their own minority populations, and certainly the Russian neo-Nazis don’t hate the Slavs. On top of the fact that they all regard Jews as outgroup at minimum, that they’re all associated with the Nazis gives a reason for Jews to oppose them, and that the Jews seemingly as a group oppose them gives them reason to hate the Jews in a self-reinforcing cycle. Further, the generalization of the term Nazi means that the crimes of the Nazis are associated with all right-wing nationalists and as such disproving them would boost the claims of all right wing-nationalists.

        Part of it is that many of the left-wing nationalists (such as the American black nationalists and Arab nationalists) have either historical reasons to justify hatred for the Jewish people or opposition to the state of Israel and those that don’t have the motive to show solidarity with their oil-rich allies. Israel is a good target because its existence is also a good argument for the right-wing nationalists in that is supposedly demonstrates that Jewish opposition to nationalism isn’t on principle. Since you have both sides opposed to it, it becomes mutually reinforcing; if even the other side hates something, your hatred for it is obviously justified.

        Combining the two, you get the idea that lots of groups have justifications for hating the Jews, and incentive to remove their claim on moral legitimacy as victims in the most prominent genocide of the 20th century. If the Holocaust is fake and the Jews of Europe were not eliminated en masse, the biggest crime of right-wing nationalism is removed and the moral claim of its strongest opponents is also destroyed. At the same time, if the Holocaust is fake, the entire rationale for the state of Israel goes up in smoke and it becomes strong evidence for the fever dream conspiracy theories of both the right and the left.

        Trying to stop this stupid shit before it gets started and get these idiots out of the American political Overton Window (on both sides) is a very big deal for me because the idea that denying historical truth becomes politically the most logical route to power is a very scary prospect. As such, it’s easy for many people to overlook just how stupid many of these denial attempts are when your motivation for refusing to face the truth is so strong.

        • MB says:

          I don’t see how “if the Holocaust is fake, the entire rationale for the state of Israel goes up in smoke”. Isn’t the state of Israel justified by the several million Jewish people living there, like most other modern (national) states?
          Likewise, in order to justify the existence of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and pretty much all South American countries, must one necessarily look to some claims of horrible persecution? Otherwise, let me guess — they all become illegitimate and need to go back to Europe pronto?
          The unstated premise here is that legitimacy only comes from victimhood. Moreover, even if it were so, and even if the veracity of the Holocaust were under dispute (which I don’t think it really is), what is less deniable is that Jewish people were persecuted in many countries before and during WWII, no matter what form this persecution may have taken.
          So, in order to claim that the *entire* rationale “goes up in smoke”, one has to further argue that victimhood is a sort of winner-take-all competition; if Jewish people’s claim is not big enough then it doesn’t really count.
          Unfortunately, this indeed describes a certain strain of US politics, which some call “victimhood olympics”.
          But in fact the state of Israel never depended on an accurate count of Jewish victims of genocide — though the persecution certainly “helped”, just as the bloody suppression of Polish, Irish, and Greek rebellions made many sympathize with the Polish, Irish, and Greek causes.
          In fact, the same Wilsonian principles at work in many other cases (like the Lausanne peace treaty), according to which the best solution to ethnic strife is a solid, defensible border, were at work here. See for a similar example the Czechs, whose national state was recognized in spite of a substantial German minority, or Poland and the Danzig corridor.
          Still, I am very curious how you came up with the idea that “if the Holocaust is fake, the entire rationale for the state of Israel goes up in smoke”. Is this a standard argument in left-wing intra-party debates, that only the Holocaust justifies the existence of Israel?

        • MB says:

          PS I also see some similarities between this claim and some Christian fundamentalists’ claims that if one stops believing that the world was literally created in 6 days then this falsifies the Bible, so one must logically then immediately go out into the street and steel, rob, and murder.

  39. SolenoidEntityImmolates says:

    re: the history of music.
    There actually was an hour-long performance by the Australian Chamber Orchestra with pop-electronic group The Presets in 2014 that did pretty much this. IIRC it started with early music and progressed continuously and without any breaks in the arrangement through different periods and then up to the modern era where it morphed into a sort of chronological ‘megamix’ of recordings. It was pretty impressive, though more an arrangement than an original composition.
    I’m not sure if a full recording is accessible online but maybe someone more motivated than me can find one.
    http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2014/05/19/4007584.htm
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6UexJDN1UQ

  40. CarlosRamirez says:

    I’m having doubts about the entire charity concept. I don’t think Scott ever convinced me of anything, but he has succeeded, with his culture war posts, in providing a higher resolution image of the concept of ‘strife’, with I guess the intention of getting people to cool off a bit. That’s all well and good, but we do have a fundamental values clash going on right now. For instance, I can’t visualize what the compromise position is between #believewomen and presumption of innocence, it seems to be one or the other.

    By contrast, I have changed my mind on things in the past, but this only came about due to repeatedly experiencing cognitive dissonance that I was unable to resolve with my belief structures at the time, forcing me to update. For example, the progressive subroutines in my consciousness are unable to formulate counters to even silly meme pictures like this. WARNING: VERY POLITICAL (if someone thinks that’s not a pile of contradictions, I’m interested in seeing why they think that. I don’t think it can be argued they aren’t actual progressive positions.) This was a very rough process, and Scott has never made me experience that.

    That said, it may be that I’m misunderstanding charity, but the only bits of charity I care about is not mounting personal attacks, and not setting up strawmen, and I think the concept of charity as laid out by Scott is more expansive than that.

    • Nornagest says:

      if someone thinks that’s not a pile of contradictions, I’m interested in seeing why they think that. I don’t think it can be argued they aren’t actual progressive positions.

      They’re actual progressive slogans, but a slogan is more a pointer to a position than the position itself. It’s almost always easier to find apparent contradictions in the rhetoric than it is in the actual underlying opinion: on the right-wing side, think of a dude with a Thin Blue Line sticker and a Molon Labe sticker next to each other on his truck.

      • CarlosRamirez says:

        Thin Blue Line sticker and a Molon Labe

        How do these two contradict each other?

        • Nornagest says:

          Who do you think’s going to be taking your guns?

          Sure, there are ways to reconcile that issue, but that’s kind of my point. Slogans and symbolism are optimized for punchiness, not for consistency.

          • CarlosRamirez says:

            Ah, I see now, I thought the thin blue line was about the movie, which was about wrongful death sentence. You are correct.

            That said, I think the ideas in the image I posted rise above the level of a slogan. I know many liberals would agree with many of the following negations of what I posted, but I think progressives would find themselves disagreeing with all of them. Consider, are there progressives who agree with any of the following statements:

            Whites are not oppressors.
            Non-whites are not victims.
            Race exists.
            Racial diversity is bad.
            Differences should not be celebrated.
            We’re all different.
            Diversity ought to be preserved by avoiding mixing together in non-white countries. (Those last three lines are actually part of each other, IMO. I think that would be the negation, but it seems weird.)

            Hmm, looking at it that way, I think progressives would approve solely of “Race exists”, and potentially, “We’re all different”, but they would possibly be leery of them.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Who do you think’s going to be taking your guns?

            The funny thing is that this doesn’t get any better when you turn it around to the progressive position: Fuck the police! ACAB! BLM! But ban the civilian possession of guns, they should be carried only by uniformed agents of the state.

            Neither side is quite sane on this particular issue.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            If the police officers come to take the guns it’s because of the bad people writing the laws. One can support the men and women of law enforcement while disliking the laws they enforce.

          • John Schilling says:

            Who do you think’s going to be taking your guns?

            Jackbooted ninja-clad BATF stormtroopers, of course.

            More seriously, both sides of the Culture War have very different views of federal vs. local law enforcement. To Red Tribe, local police are decent blue-collar working men keeping the streets safe from the Scum of the Earth, while the feds are suits with guns who enforce the whims of the DC Elite. To Blue Tribe, local police are often seen as redneck thugs who joined so they could oppress and murder POC; the FBI are the folks who avenged the Mississippi Three and can be called on to root out murdery corruption wherever Red Tribe holds local power.

            Simplistically speaking, and complicated by the fact that specific Federal agencies (e.g. ICE) often have mandates that are strongly coded for one side or another in the Culture War.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:
            I don’t think that portrayal is valid for either side, not in a generalizable way.

            Rather, each side leans on federal or local power to the extent that the other disagrees with them. If local police in NYC randomly search “suspicious” people walking on the public thoroughfare, the right cheers it. If they want stronger gun control laws, the right boos. Reversed for the left.

          • John Schilling says:

            If they want stronger gun control laws, the right boos.

            That second clause has a subject and a verb but is missing an object. The right boos whom? Because I haven’t seen much heat directed against local police over gun control issues, even in communities where the local government favors gun control. And that’s a subject I follow pretty closely. The focus is almost always on Democratic politicians with a side order of BATF hate, regardless of who is actually enforcing the laws in question. Maybe a police chief will catch a bit of flack, but with a subtext of “…and he’s not a Real Cop(tm) anyway, just a politician with a badge”.

            If there’s an issue where the Right boos local law enforcement, gun control isn’t it. I’m not sure what would be. Closest I can come is the negative case of local police not cracking down on antifa-style thuggery, and even then it’s mostly directed against political hacks who are presumed to be keeping the Real Cops from doing their job.

            Reversed for the left.

            That’s more your territory than mine, but do you have any good examples of leftists as such cheering for local law enforcement?

          • qwints says:

            That’s more your territory than mine, but do you have any good examples of leftists as such cheering for local law enforcement?

            Leftists generally not, but I’ve definitely seen Democratic and progressive examples. This sign from Occupy Austin comes to mind: https://imgur.com/gallery/mDKR0

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:
            The left absolutely tout local law enforcement who are in favor of stronger gun control laws. The cite those positions approvingly and frequently.

            As to right leaning gun control opponents and local law enforcement, just one example, are the bevy of youtube videos “owning” local law enforcement with their knowledge of open carry laws, etc. As a completely anecdotal story, I have a group of male friends that formed over a yearly golf outing that skew more conservative (although white, professional, lawyers, bankers, techies). At some point many years ago we had a spirited discussion around a shooting that occurred during no knock raid where the person shot came out into a small living room from a bed room brandishing a golf club in the way you might a sword.

            Trust me, that group of people was not on the side of local law enforcement in that conversation. And the most ardent gun proponent was least on the side of local law enforcement. He skews conservative Catholic, militia, and libertarian, with an (un)healthy dose of crank.

          • John Schilling says:

            You understand that explicitly confrontational open carry is a fringe position in the gun rights movement, right? If that plus “there’s Youtube videos” is where you’re drawing the line, then OK, consider my argument amended to allow for exceptional fringe cases on both left and right. No, wait, that’s not an amendment because my original argument was explicitly a generalization rather than a universal claim.

            An amendment would be to make explicit that “local law enforcement” refers to rank-and-file police officers but not necessarily police chiefs and the like.

    • qwints says:

      As a leftist, I’m kind of befuddled by your inability to model me. The meme picture is just a low level language game akin to “Why do we drive on a parkway but park on a driveway?”. The first two lines appear to be talking about white supremacy. Not everyone on the left would agree – for example, an orthodox marxist would say that the bourgeois uses white supremacy to divide the proletariat on racial lines causing workers to work against their own class interest. Most people who would agree would talk about the system of white supremacy as one “axis of oppression” which exists alongside others such as sexism. I’d agree that, in the US, white people, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally do things that make non-white people worse off.

      The next two lines misunderstand what “race” means. For the vast majority of people on the left, race is a social construct without a basis in biology. “Race doesn’t exist” means that the scientific racism which started in the late 19th century is false. Both the groupings of someone like Blumenbach and the claims about the attributes of those groups are false. At the same time, race does exist as a cultural reality in a particular historical context. A Black person in the US in 2018 will likely have many experiences in common with other Black people in 2018 – both things like traditional food or practices as well as how they are treated and perceived by other people. Valuing diversity means valuing those different cultural practices as well as the unique insights that arise from lived experience.

      “We’re all the same” actually gets a lot of pushback on the left, but the basic claim that has the widest acceptance is that all people have subjective experience and that subjective experience is valuable. Many would also agree that all humans have identical or at least extremely similar needs and desires. It’s a Shylock’s speech from the Merchant of Venice type argument not an argument about homogeneity.

      The last three lines are just silly. If we’re talking about people of different races having children together, people on the left would say that creates more diversity since you now have someone with a new set of cultural traditions and experiences. I’m not even sure what the last line means – I think it’s supposed to be a claim about cultural relativism? – but it’s not representative of any strains of left thought I’m familiar with.

      • CarlosRamirez says:

        If we’re talking about people of different races having children together, people on the left would say that creates more diversity since you now have someone with a new set of cultural traditions and experiences.

        Yes, it creates a new culture, but the previous cultures vanish in the process. I have Taino DNA, but Taino culture has long been completely extinguished. Well, the other parent culture, Spanish, remains, but in Spain, not in the Americas.

        Do you agree with any of the following?

        Whites are not oppressors.
        Non-whites are not victims.
        Race exists.
        Racial diversity is bad.
        Differences should not be celebrated.
        We’re all different.

        • albatross11 says:

          It seems like each of those slogans (or anti-slogans) would almost need a short essay to address. Like, “race exists.” What does that mean?

          I’m not a liberal, but I’d say

          a. Racial categories as defined in popular US culture don’t carve nature at a joint, but they’re still useful, like personality test scores or the coma scale.

          b. Race[1] correlates strongly with genetics, culture, and shared history. All those matter for different things. (Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out which matters–blacks have a higher rate of heart disease than whites. Is that genetics? Or culture-influenced diet? Or life-history-induced higher stress levels? Or something else?)

          c. Race is sometimes useful as a quick stand-in for those things–it costs almost nothing to get, and is quite informative in some areas.

          d. Different racial groups differ a great deal in many observable outcomes in life, which is often worth knowing about. Income, IQ, education, crime rate (both committing crimes and being victims), unwed births, life expectancy, family wealth, religion, what part of the country you live in, what entertainment you like, etc.

          [1] As defined in US popular culture, as found in the US. Blacks in the US are much more homogenous than blacks throughout Africa, for example.

        • quanta413 says:

          I’m not the person you were asking but…

          I’ve never been fond of the idea that differences are a strength to be celebrated or the opposite idea that differences are a weakness to be removed. Many differences are irrelevant, but many are relevant. Some differences are helpful, some are the opposite of helpful. Most differences are just sort of… there.

          I can’t honestly answer questions like that without a more concrete subject. And my answers will vary with the specifics.

    • rlms says:

      Line three of your meme is a slogan that conflates “races are large areas on a continuum, not discrete points” with “race is meaningless”. With the former meaning, it doesn’t contradict any of the others. Line six means that people of different races have the same moral value and many of the same traits, and therefore doesn’t contradict the previous two lines which are about culture. Lines seven to nine aren’t mainstream positions as far as I’m aware; not many people think mixed raced relationships are obligatory in “white countries”, let alone that additionally they are bad in non-white countries.

      • CarlosRamirez says:

        Are you sure about race-mixing not being obligatory? There seems to be a strong expectation that the future is mixed race, thought perhaps that means people think race-mixing to be inevitable. I also have to repeat, that this does not apply to liberals, it’s criticism of progressives specifically.

        Line three of your meme is a slogan that conflates “races are large areas on a continuum, not discrete points” with “race is meaningless”.

        So progressives can confidently say “Race exists.”?

        • albatross11 says:

          I think that without a strong legal or cultural barrier to mixing of races, we pretty inevitably will see mixing–you meet some nice girl, start dating, and nature runs its course, ending up with the two of you checking out housing listings while she tries to decide what breakfast won’t interact badly with the morning sickness. If you’re white and she’s Asian or hispanic or black, this all seems to work the same way as if she’s white. This is basically what you see happening all through US society.

          And all of this seems like a pretty good outcome to me, overall, though I’m not morally opposed to some people trying to convince members of their group to marry within their group, as long as they don’t try to use the law or force to impose it. This is why we had massive waves of immigration of foreigners with strange languages, diets, religions, dress, habits, etc., in the past, and now their grandkids and great-grandkids are all basically generic Americans.

          • CarlosRamirez says:

            I don’t even think it’s a bad outcome myself, but only if presuming this won’t have major negative consequences. But I do note it is considered immoral to attempt to prevent this outcome, no matter what prevention mechanism it is, even if it’s just trying to socially engineer people to avoid miscegenation.

          • quanta413 says:

            Miscegenation occurs at considerably lower rates than would be expected from random mating. I don’t think the pro-miscegenation side is anywhere near winning this one. I don’t think they even exist. A lot of progressives who occasionally talk that way are super white bread married to someone super white bread and have a super white bread extended family.

            Which is a shame really. I think something closer to random mixing would probably be an improvement overall. Marriage is the sort of alliance that really changes people’s priorities.

          • albatross11 says:

            In my social circle, my parish, and the area where I live, mixed families are quite common. I think this is basically a function of young people of different racial groups being around each other at the biologically- and socially-mandated time to start pairing off and forming families.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @quanta413:

            I think it’s simply that what is considered to be taboo changes once it happens enough. Once you have enough interbreeding of X and Y, people stop caring about X and Y interbreeding. Yeah, there are some feedback loops that vary this, but when Ben Jealous identifies himself as Black, you know you are starting to get somewhere. Consider that I say that I am Italian (as my last name is clearly Italian), but if I have more time I say I am Italian-Czech-German-French Canadian. Tiger Woods is “Cablanasian”, etc.

          • quanta413 says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Sure I agree it happens more than it used to because people don’t care as much. I’m saying no one is really pushing for it and there’s probably more silent resistance to the practice than it appears. Which you can see because interracial marriage is still way below what would be expected from random mixing. I agree with the last two examples, but I’m not sure I think Ben Jealous’s identity is really a sign of social change. A social norm of hypodescent for people with African ancestors is pretty embedded in the U.S.

            On top of that, there’s a common pattern of absorption of mixed race people into being identified as one or the other thing. Typically whatever other people think they look more like. With the strong exception of hypodescent for having Sub-Saharan African ancestors. This outcome only really makes sense if people range from not preferring miscegenation to having no preference. If a lot of people preferred miscegenation you’d expect them to play up their ancestry. Like Tiger Woods. But I think Tiger Woods is in the minority here in trying to explicitly embrace all of his ancestry.

            Like yeah, most people seem to be ok with miscegenation and it happens at nontrivial rates, but marriage patterns are revealing.

          • and there’s probably more silent resistance to the practice than it appears. Which you can see because interracial marriage is still way below what would be expected from random mixing.

            An alternative explanation is that there is a good deal of social clustering by race. I can only remember one black woman who I at some point thought of as a potential girlfriend–nothing came of it, I vaguely think more from her disinterest than mine. But that would probably be a larger fraction of the black women I encountered in the sort of context where courtship would seem relevant than the corresponding number for white women.

          • quanta413 says:

            @David Friedman

            I agree that that is a contributing factor. It’s possible it’s the dominant one. On the other hand, people also do spend some effort choosing their social circles. Mostly I think this is innocuous, but I think there is some tendency on average for people to want to group with people who look more like them.

            My vague feeling about my social circles is that miscegenation or even cross racial dating is still rarer than I would expect by chance. But my social circles are very far from representative.

    • Sebastian_H says:

      All slogans lose nuance. “Black Lives Matter” should be understood as “Black Lives Matter Too”. “Believe Women” should be understood as “don’t be dismissive, just because they didn’t act like the perfect victim.” “Pro-life” should be understood as “when talking about abortion I’m at least sometimes concerned about fetal life”.

      There is a definite problem where the very most extreme extremists seem to believe the slogans as if they were the whole argument, but they don’t seem even like the majority of their side.

      • CarlosRamirez says:

        I really don’t think the things I posted are merely slogans. You will note that they’re assertions, that is, the actual words of it state that something is true, unlike “Believe Women”. “Black Lives Matter” is also an assertion, an obvious one that no one who isn’t a neo-nazi would disagree with, though BLMers go a lot further than that, since it’s obvious one can’t build a movement by taking such an obviously true assertion as the alpha and omega of it. “Pro-life” is not an assertion either.

      • Joseph Greenwood says:

        This is an extremely uncharitable take on the slogan “pro-life,” especially compared to your framing of the other slogans.

    • dick says:

      I can’t visualize what the compromise position is between #believewomen and presumption of innocence, it seems to be one or the other.

      You are implying that #believewomen implies support for the idea that the US legal system should adopt a lower standard of evidence for sex crimes. Yet you asked this exact thing last OT, and as far as I can tell every single reply from the left disputed that. Am I missing something, or are you just ignoring them?

      • CarlosRamirez says:

        Erm, sure it was me? If it was me then I absolutely forgot I made such a post, since I’ve been also having that discussion in r/ssc, where there actually was someone defending #believewomen as a judiciary standard. Is there any quick way I can see the replies to my comments on here?

        • dick says:

          I’m referring to this post: “I want to do an adversarial collaboration on the conflict between #believewomen and presumption of innocence. I would hold up the presumption of innocence side.”

          If it’s not clear why this is wrong, imagine a lefty asking to do an AC between #MAGA and the presumption that racism is bad. This is wrong because there are people who would say racism is part of #MAGA and people who would say it isn’t. Since people disagree on what the label #believewomen means, why not just replace it with whatever you think it means, and skip all the boring argument about definitions?

          • CarlosRamirez says:

            My understanding of #believewomen is that it means an accusation ought to be enough to punish. I get this from basically all the left believing Kavanaugh being confirmed is:

            a) Disrespectful to sexual assault survivors, which is only true if Kavanaugh is a sexual assaulter, and we don’t have any evidence of that that would stand in a court of law.
            b) An outrage, because he ought to have been punished in some way, for example, denying him his nomination.

            Since we have no evidence that meets the high standard of a court of law, we are left with the accusations and circumstantial evidence. And clearly, many people believe those are enough, or should be enough, to mete out a punishment. Therefore, #believewomen is the belief an accusation ought to be enough to punish.

            About perjury, etc. People are not outraged about perjury. #believewomen would not have gained so much traction, nor Ford become such an icon, if this was about perjury.

          • dick says:

            My understanding of #believewomen is that it means an accusation ought to be enough to punish. I get this from…

            Does anyone here think that? And if not, would you agree that repeatedly starting threads based on that assumption is not very nice?

          • CarlosRamirez says:

            Does anyone here think that? And if not, would you agree that repeatedly starting threads based on that assumption is not very nice?

            Ok. Let’s say no one believes that. Then, Kavanaugh being confirmed is:

            a) Not disrespectful to sexual assault survivors.
            b) Not an outrage, because he did not have to be punished in any way, for example, by denying him his nomination.

          • albatross11 says:

            Carlos:

            Quite a bit of the discussion there was about the proper standard of evidence for an accusation made in a senate confirmation of a supreme court justice. It’s not at all clear what standard of evidence is appropriate there, but it’s almost certainly not exactly the same as the one we’d use to sentence someone to prison.

            The usual line here was something like “It’s not a criminal trial, it’s a job interview.”

          • The Nybbler says:

            @albatross11

            There were also people arguing that the accusation should be enough to drop him, that it was worth it for Trump to find someone untainted by such accusations. That implies an accusation should lead directly to consequences, which is a very low standard indeed.

            I think “For criminal trials we have presumption of innocence and proof beyond reasonable doubt, but an accusation is sufficient to impose any other consequences” is very nearly complete destruction of presumption of innocence. After all, an impeachment proceeding is not a criminal trial either; it “merely” removes one from office and disqualifies them from any office of profit or trust in the US government.

          • CarlosRamirez says:

            @albatross11

            No, that’s not quite right. If Kavanaugh was not nominated, then that means society has decided he is more likely than not a sexual assaulter. Sexual assaulters are severely punished, in no way does denying someone a promotion constitute sufficient punishment. People would try to get him dismissed as a judge, and his reputation would be in tatters. This is the reason why severe accusations need evidence to substantiate them: if true, the perpetrator will be severely punished, and society has decided it does not hand out severe punishments lightly.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Albatross,

            25% of the SSC Dem readership are 95% confident that Kav is guilty. The vast majority are more than 65% confident Kav is guilty.

            Also, “court of law” is not the same as “US Law.” US colleges are required under Title IX to use a “preponderance of evidence” standard. A US collegiate institution operating US license instructed by US bureaucrats under the guidance of a US statute as interpreted by US judges is engaged in US law by the common sense of the term, even if it isn’t dealing out punitive damages. Civil courts are also clearly engaged in US law, and do not use a “beyond reasonable doubt” standard.

            65% is well beyond preponderance of evidence. I don’t need to provide the conclusion I’m hinting at, because it’s exceedingly obvious. It’s also obvious that if you cannot recall basic things like time and place, that alleged perps cannot even establish an alibi, which would be the only thing could possibly prove innocence.

          • albatross11 says:

            Instead of debating whether we should #believeallwomen, maybe instead we should debate the specific questions it raises. The slogan is (like all slogans) lacking in much detail.

            The problem is that rape and sexual assault are generally pretty hard to prosecute. (I think this is mainly true of date rape and similar stuff–if a stranger rapes you in your house, the bastard may be hard to catch, but the prosecution probably won’t be as hard.)

            There are very often no witnesses except the victim and the perpetrator. (Or possibly the victim and the false accuser–the whole problem is that it’s very difficult to decide which case we’re in.) This means that it’s pretty common for a woman to make an accusation of rape, have an unpleasant and intrusive medical procedure done to retrieve the rapist’s sperm for a DNA test, and go through a pretty awful few days interacting with the justice system, only to have the prosecutor drop the case because he doesn’t see any realistic hope of getting a conviction.

            The best available data we have seems to indicate that a fair number of rapes and sexual assaults happen and don’t get reported, basically because the victims can see up front that there’s never going to be enough evidence to prosecute. This fits with the anecdotal evidence I have from women I know and trust. Also, the common stories from women who have gone through the formal process of making an accusation seem to be pretty awful–the whole process is commonly described as being as bad as or worse than the original rape/assault. This is true of the one case I know where the victim not only reported it, but was believed and the perp got prison time for it. It was still a nightmare for the victim.

            Further, women who have gone public with a rape/sexual assault accusation generally seem to feel like they paid a heavy social cost for it, too. That, again, is the common thing you see in media reports, but also is consistent with the cases I personally know of. (Though those are based on me believing the stories of women I know well and trust.)

            The outcome of all that is that there are probably a lot of rapes that never get prosecuted or even brought to the attention of the police. It’s like if accusing someone of stealing your bike was going to cost you several months’ salary. You’d never accuse someone of stealing your bike unless it was a super expensive racing bike and you had ironclad proof, neither would anyone else, and bike thieves would face little check from the law.

            So, the question is, how do we make this better?

            One starting point is to try to decrease the social cost that victims pay for going public.

            Another point is to see if there’s any way to make the formal legal process of making the accusation less hellish. (As far as I can tell, most ways to interact with the criminal justice system are pretty awful, so maybe this is just hard to fix.)

            And finally, there are some people (but maybe not many here) who think we should have a lower burden of proof for these cases, since they seem to be so hard to prosecute. I’m not a fan of this idea, though I haven’t thought deeply about it.

            What else might we do here? I’m less interested in deciding whether I should be happy or angry to see #believeallwomen than I am in what the best information is about how big this problem is, and how things might be improved.

          • brmic says:

            @CarlosRamirez
            You seem to have caught yourself in a set of wrong starting assumptions and faulty logic, that is hard to untangle. I don’t see how I can do so without a line by line reply and want to apologize for that in advance.

            My understanding of #believewomen is that it means an accusation ought to be enough to punish.
            Your understanding is wrong, or at least seriously incomplete. Also, ‘punish’ is doing double duty. If you read it as ‘negative social consequence’, then sure, any sane accusation of sexual assault ought to bring negative social consequences if only because some people should end up breaking the tie in favour of the woman.
            I get this from basically all the left believing …
            Yeah, well, I don’t and I don’t think others around here do. You can name names from elsewhere or ask us.

            Kavanaugh being confirmed is:
            a) Disrespectful to sexual assault survivors,

            The what? FWIW, I disagree quite strongly. I can see arguments how the process was re-traumatizing and how the process was disrespectful e.g. in the sense that the one week FBI investigation is a sign of not taking the accusation seriously enough to do a thorough job.
            b) An outrage, because he ought to have been punished in some way, for example, denying him his nomination.
            Again, I disagree, I don’t think it’s an outrage. Even so it’s not ‘his nomination’ but Trump’s and the senate’s to confirm. Nominees have not been confirmed in the past, some never got to a hearing 😉 The nomination isn’t the seat. 2nd, ‘punishment’ as used here is a bit unusual and I’m worried the use both here and above is evidence of a connection in your mind that has no correspondence in reality. Also, as has been explained ad nauseam here and elsewhere, he was nominated for one of the highest honors in the country, where usually our standards are a bit higher and where not getting the job because of reasons that would be unproblematic in other contexts has precedent.

            … we are left with the accusations and circumstantial evidence. And clearly, many people believe those are enough, or should be enough, to mete out a punishment. Therefore, #believewomen is the belief an accusation ought to be enough to punish.The last sentence refers back to your earlier claims about presumption of innocence. Do you notice how you used the same term for ‘any negative social consequence’, ‘not getting a SC seat’ and ‘going to jail’ in the same comment. I hope this is unintentional and the confusion is in your head.

            As it occurs to me that ‘any negative social consequence’ might meet your definition of punishment and you’d see even that as a bridge too far, consider the case if the victim is telling the truth. Then, unless she can win a court case, everyone in their mutual social circle continues to treat the perpetrator as though nothing happened, which in turns means treating her as if she was delusional. How is that not also a ‘punishment’ by the same definition?
            Meanwhile, in the real world, people ostracize other people all the time over the prettiest crap and no one bats an eyelid.

            Finally, consider, if you can, the perspective on you a) and b) someone would have, who found the evidence compelling and genuinely believes Kavanaugh assaulted Ford. Can you see how _under this precondition_ they might say BK’s confirmations is disrespectful to survivors and an outrage? How that is not an absolute statement but conditional on the belief in his guilt?

          • albatross11 says:

            ADBG:

            As best I could tell, a lot of people had much, much higher confidence in their conclusions about whether Kavenaugh had done it than was justified by the available data. This was most visible among partisan Democrats, who often expressed great certainty that he was guilty, not only of the sexual assault of Ford, but also of being part of a gang rape gang. I talked face-to-face with otherwise intelligent and rational people who were convinced of this.

            I think this was an example of partisanship and media bubbles successfully mindkilling a bunch of people. The available set of facts that came out in the press simply did not support any great certainty about what happened there. But there was also a big selection bias going on–most people didn’t comment on it, since they knew they didn’t really know what had happened.

          • albatross11 says:

            The Nybbler:

            I felt like there was a lot of reasoning going around w.r.t. the Kavenaugh hearing that failed because of we’re in an adversarial setting.

            In a world where some evidence fell from the sky that told you (say) “There is a 20% chance that this guy tried to rape some girl in high school, and perjured himself to get away with it,” you would rightly decide not to put that guy on the supreme court. The 20% chance would be enough to choose someone else. Maybe even a 5% chance would be enough.

            But in an adversarial setting, it’s pretty easy for the other side to come up with unfalsifiable accusations that look like they should get us up to some kind of probability (maybe 5%, maybe 20%, maybe 50%) where we should ditch him and choose another nominee. So if we adopt the rule of “A 20% probability of badness means we ditch him,” then the other side can always make us ditch a nominee.

            Did that happen this time? Probably not with Ford, as best I can tell, though it’s possible. Quite possibly with the other accusations, which seemed to me to have no evidence at all and to be driven by a mix of wanting media attention / clicks and ideological commitment to defeating Kavenaugh for standard political reasons.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I don’t know exactly what #BelieveWomen means, because it’s not an organized group and subject to standard motte-and-bailey problems.

            But I will say that the accuser should have an advocate. Someone should believe the accuser, at least to start out and if the story doesn’t fall apart. Historically, there has often not been an advocate for the accuser in sex crimes, which is bad. The fix is make sure that advocate exists, not to get rid of advocates for the accused[1] or people trying to figure out the truth.

            [1] Current Title IX on campus often lacks an advocate for the accused.

            ==========

            Separately, I’m not sure that the adversarial system works for “job interviews.” There were good reasons for Kavanaugh not be nominated (he had massive debt that simply disappeared several months ago) and adding this one in, if I had a time machine I would tell Trump to just pick someone else.

            But sometime between the end of his first week of questioning and after Avenatti came out with his claims, “just don’t give him the job” went off the table. Kavanaugh had no room to retreat: it was either get confirmed or get crushed. Ford’s stated goal was that someone else get picked instead of Kavanaugh and that’s why she reached out to Eshoo on July 6.

          • johnstewart says:

            albatross11

            As best I could tell, a lot of people had much, much higher confidence in their conclusions about whether Kavenaugh had done it than was justified by the available data. This was most visible among partisan Democrats, who often expressed great certainty that he was guilty, not only of the sexual assault of Ford, but also of being part of a gang rape gang.

            I may be to the left of you, but am FAR from a self-identified Democrat. I’m sure my politics are right of the average in my city (as my dad puts it, the People’s Republic of Madison).

            That said, I read Ford’s testimony, and it was very, very credible. Did you read it? I find it hard to even understand how someone could have done so, thought about her position, and rationally conclude this was a political hit-job.

            Of the possible explanations of where we are (that I can think of):
            1 – Ford is telling the truth, Kavanaugh doesn’t remember it.
            2 – Ford is telling the truth, Kavanaugh is lying.
            3 – Ford is mis-remembering.
            3 – Ford is lying.

            … from a simple Occam’s Razor question, #1 or #2 seem far, far likelier than #3 or #4, for very many reasons, including corroboration of her statements in the past, history of his drinking, and what douche-nozzles entitled ivy league drunk kids are.

            By far the most likely scenario is #1 – this is something that would be seared into Ford’s memory, and something that was so unimportant as to be forgettable for Kavanaugh.

            It’s just not likely she is making this up, and almost as unlikely she is mis-remembering.

            It’s just not plausible, trying to be neutral about it, that she is a tool of the Democratic machine and this is some fabricated hit job.

            And I am NOT a Democrat, and certainly not a “partisan Democrat”.

          • … from a simple Occam’s Razor question, #1 or #2 seem far, far likelier than #3 or #4,

            That seems right if you think of the question in terms of these specific people. But Ford isn’t a random person, she is a woman who appeared with this accusation.

            If the story is true what is special about Ford is that she is the one woman to whom it happened. If it is false, what is special about her is that she is the one woman out of a thousand (or whatever number you think more plausible for those in as good a position as she was to do it) most willing to tell a plausible lie in order to block Kavanaugh. That perspective ought to alter your odds, by how much I don’t know.

            Here is a simple back of the envelope calculation. Suppose that, before any evidence appears, you believe the chance that Kavanaugh would have done such a thing to a victim who would, under these circumstances, report it is .1 . Suppose you also believe that the probability that the woman most willing to make up such a story out of all who plausibly could would be as convincing as you found Ford is .1 You should conclude that the probability that it would be true and reported is the same as the probability that it would be false and reported this plausibly. Inflating both for the fact that it was reported, truthfully or not, gets you to 50/50. (That’s ignoring the possibility that both of them are lying, that Cavanaugh attempted to rape A, who didn’t report it, and was reported by B, who invented her story.)

            But it shows why just looking at how plausible Ford is gives you the wrong result.

            I agree with you, by the way, that if it did happen it is much more likely that Kavanaugh would forget it than that Ford would.

          • johnstewart says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Suppose that, before any evidence appears, you believe the chance that Kavanaugh would have done such a thing to a victim who would, under these circumstances, report it is .1

            Suppose you also believe that the probability that the woman most willing to make up such a story out of all who plausibly could would be as convincing as you found Ford is .1

            I don’t believe these two possibilities are even close in probability, no. Why would they be?

            You’re asking in the first case, in the scenario before Kavanaugh was accused of anything, what the odds I would put him as having attempted to rape someone when he was 17? I’ve no idea, but of course quite low.

            But whatever the number is, that a woman who was willing to make up such a story, and be as convincing as Ford is is much, much lower than that.

            So, no, I don’t see how you get close to 50-50 on this. If I had to pick a ratio between these, it would be 10-1, not 50-50.

            Where do you personally put it? You honestly think these two scenarios are equally likely?

          • But whatever the number is, that a woman who was willing to make up such a story, and be as convincing as Ford is is much, much lower than that.

            The question isn’t how likely it is that a particular woman would be as convincing as Ford with a made up story, it’s whether there is at least one woman out of all those who could who would be at least as convincing as Ford. For any single woman it would be a high estimate but there are surely hundreds, perhaps more, who could make a false accusation and have an incentive to do so, and it only takes one.

            My own guess, not having watched the testimony of either aside from the first minute or two of Kavanaugh’s, is that it would not be surprising if Kavanaugh is lying, not surprising if Ford is. I think it is unlikely that Ford is making a mistake in her memory, possible that Kavanaugh is making a mistake in his.

            I doubt that I am good enough at detecting lying by people who are good at it to gain much additional information from watching the testimony. As evidence that other people are not very good at detecting it either, I note that even after the testimony there was a high correlation between people’s political views and who they believed.

          • gbdub says:

            “#1 or #2 seem far, far likelier than #3 or #4, for very many reasons, including corroboration of her statements in the past,”

            What corroboration are you referring to here? The lack of corroboration by the other named names was I think the deciding factor.

            “history of his drinking, and what douche-nozzles entitled ivy league drunk kids are.”

            This part is doing a ton of work, and I think that’s the rub. A lot of the rhetoric seems to be attempting to make Kavanaugh a generic stand-in for “douche-nozzle entitled ivy league drunk kids” who too often get away with various levels of sexual impropriety. But Kavanaugh is not a generic accused, and Ford is not a generic accuser. That people roughly like Kavanaugh probably got away with assaulting people like Ford in the 80s is only tangentially relevant to whether this specific attack actually occurred.

            This is the crux of the culture war issue here I think – the Kavanaugh-is-guilty side is perfectly willing to assume all Ivy League frat boys are rapists, or close enough, until proven innocent.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            this is something that would be seared into Ford’s memory,

            Memory isn’t like writing things down in a book. They change over time. And since you used the word “seared” . . .

            I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared seared — in me.

            That’s John Kerry, and as you’ve probably guess by context, we know that this wasn’t true. None of his friends, who had supported him in other matters and other details, said that this happened. I don’t think he was knowingly lying, but over the years memories change, especially the stories you tell yourself about yourself. We re-process memories over the years in a giant game of telephone with ourselves. and this includes editing and changing them. (If you think that the Republicans will, er, forget this as soon as it’s convenient, I agree with you.)

            And I’ll say again: I assign a low chance to her just lying about this.

          • johnstewart says:

            @DavidFriedman

            The question isn’t how likely it is that a particular woman would be as convincing as Ford with a made up story, it’s whether there is at least one woman out of all those who could who would be at least as convincing as Ford. For any single woman it would be a high estimate but there are surely hundreds, perhaps more, who could make a false accusation and have an incentive to do so, and it only takes one.

            Yes, I understood your math, and I stand by my assessment of 10-1 over 1-1.

            It’s not just that there was a woman willing to make a false accusation, but to make one this credible.

            My own guess, not having watched the testimony of either […]

            Well, that’s kind of a big rub. You’re assessing credibility without actually hearing from those you’re judging? I’ll say my judgement of your judgement has now gone significantly lower!

            I think it’s worth reading this:
            https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4945864/Ford-Testimony-2018-09-26.pdf

            Maybe you’ve already decided, but after reading that it was hard for me to come to a different conclusion than Ford is both sincere and credible.

            it would not be surprising if Kavanaugh is lying, not surprising if Ford is.

            I think the most likely scenario is that neither one of them is lying, and while it was a traumatic and memorable event for Ford, it was too booze-clouded and/or unimportant enough for Kavanaugh to remember.

            @gbdub

            This is the crux of the culture war issue here I think – the Kavanaugh-is-guilty side is perfectly willing to assume all Ivy League frat boys are rapists, or close enough, until proven innocent.

            I’ve known, and know, a lot of frat boys, and knowing what the culture was like at frats a decade after Kavanaugh went to school, I know that pushing down a woman in a room, drunk, with your drunk buddy, and groping her is certainly plausible.

            However, not only do I not assume all Ivy League frat boys are rapists, I don’t think in fact Kavanaugh probably ever raped anyone.

            @Edward Scizorhands

            Memory isn’t like writing things down in a book. They change over time. And since you used the word “seared” . . .

            Definitely true. At a point, we don’t even remember. We remember remembering.

            That this is the case definitely informs my opinion.

            I’m still at 10-1.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s not just that there was a woman willing to make a false accusation, but to make one this credible.

            Someone on the subreddit calculated that there were about 6500 DC-area private school girls within a three year window. Any one of them could have made an accusation as superficially credible as Ford’s — that is to say, almost the exact same accusation. But of course there were many other possible accusations that could have been made (e.g. a less falsifiable accusation at Yale), which raises the number even higher.

          • You’re assessing credibility without actually hearing from those you’re judging?

            Correct. I know that she says he did it and he says he didn’t. I think I have a reasonably good picture of what evidence each has offered. I don’t believe I am sufficiently good at interpreting behavior to judge whether one or the other is lying. As best I can tell, in part for the reason I mentioned and in part for other reasons, people greatly overestimate their ability to do so.

            As best I can tell, in situations like this where most people know which side they are in at the beginning, very few switch sides as a result of listening to testimony and figuring out which person they think is lying.

          • albatross11 says:

            I am deeply skeptical that you can infer very much about whether someone is telling the truth by watching a video of them testifying. And I’m even more skeptical than you can do this in a situation where there are already all kinds of tribal and emotive and moral appeals to whether you should or should not believe them.

            Is there data anywhere of whether people watching a video of someone speaking can tell whether they’re lying, or misremembering? Because my strong suspicion is that people cannot, in general, do either one.

          • albatross11 says:

            Is there any good data on what fraction of frat boys or prep school kids commit rape?

            How does that compare with, say, equal-aged men who don’t go to college?

            It seems to me that it’s very easy to decide that “he seems like the kind of guy who would be guilty” based on stereotypes and media images, but also that this is a remarkably bad way to actually get to the truth.

          • johnstewart says:

            @DavidFriedman, @albatross11:

            You’re both making the point that it is impossible to tell whether someone is lying or not based on observing them.

            I don’t disagree.

            That’s not at all why I believe Ford is credible. It’s based on her written testimony, the plausibility of her claims, and many other facts about this situation.

            Again, I’m not a Democrat. I wouldn’t say I’m neutral – I think Trump is a stain on our country, and that what Republicans have done as a result of his ascendance makes a mockery of their party and their stated values.

            But I went into this without any a priori belief that Kavanaugh was evil or a rapist. And I’m frankly stunned that any rational person could conclude that she is a lying shill, no matter their political beliefs.

          • And I’m frankly stunned that any rational person could conclude that she is a lying shill, no matter their political beliefs.

            I haven’t concluded that she is, only that she might be. And if you can’t understand that, I think that means that you have not followed my argument.

            The alternative is that you really believe that less than one woman in a thousand, given the same opportunity to make a fake charge that Ford had, would take it and be as convincing as she was.

            That’s not at all why I believe Ford is credible. It’s based on her written testimony, the plausibility of her claims, and many other facts about this situation.

            Then why did you write:

            You’re assessing credibility without actually hearing from those you’re judging? I’ll say my judgement of your judgement has now gone significantly lower!

            If hearing their testimony isn’t at all the basis for your beliefs, why does my telling you that I formed my opinion without listening to it lower your opinion of my judgement?

          • johnstewart says:

            The alternative is that you really believe that less than one woman in a thousand, given the same opportunity to make a fake charge that Ford had, would take it and be as convincing as she was.

            Yep.

            And I think anyone who examined the whole thing rationally would, too.

            If hearing their testimony isn’t at all the basis for your beliefs, why does my telling you that I formed my opinion without listening to it lower your opinion of my judgement?

            I can’t quite parse this, “isn’t at all”.

            – It’s not the entirety of the basis of my belief. In this case, I’m referring to the written statements, especially the one I linked by Ford. I think this is very important in deciding her credibility (and am frankly a little shocked you’d think otherwise!)

            – I concur with those who have said determining whether someone is lying based on watching them speak is folly. I don’t believe I’ve stated otherwise.

          • Me:

            If hearing their testimony isn’t at all the basis for your beliefs, why does my telling you that I formed my opinion without listening to it lower your opinion of my judgement?

            You:

            I can’t quite parse this, “isn’t at all”.

            I was quoting you. You wrote “That’s not at all why I believe Ford is credible.” You then offered other reasons why you believed it. If listening to them wasn’t at all why you believed Ford was credible, which was what you yourself wrote, then I don’t see why you had a problem with my forming my opinion without listening to them.

            – It’s not the entirety of the basis of my belief.

            Again, what you wrote was “”That’s not at all why I believe Ford is credible.” You now seem to have changed your mind and be saying that it was part of why you believe Ford is credible. That would explain why you were bothered by my forming an opinion without listening to them. But it doesn’t fit with:

            – I concur with those who have said determining whether someone is lying based on watching them speak is folly. I don’t believe I’ve stated otherwise.

            You also wrote:

            In this case, I’m referring to the written statements, especially the one I linked by Ford. I think this is very important in deciding her credibility (and am frankly a little shocked you’d think otherwise!)

            So what you are now saying is that what bothered you was not my failing to listen to them but my not having read their written statements. As it happens I hadn’t–I was going on lots of second hand accounts by people on both sides–but what I said was that I had not listened to them, so your response to my saying that still doesn’t make sense to me.

            I have now read the text you linked to. It provides no significant information I didn’t have and no reason to change my opinion on the controversy. It could be a truthful account, it could be pure invention, and I don’t see how you can tell which it is.

            I don’t see what facts there are, in that or in other things we have been told, that convince you that fewer than one woman in a thousand could have faked it that well.

            As best I can tell, the only evidence she offers is that her husband says she told him about it, with Kavanaugh’s name, at a point after Kavanaugh had been prominently mentioned as a possible Supreme Court pick, and her psychiatrist says she told her about it, without his name, at about the same time. That’s it. None of the people she says were present has confirmed her account and there is no physical evidence.

            In an environment where lots of people regard Kavanaugh as a terrible choice who must be stopped, you don’t think one woman in a thousand could come up with evidence that good?

          • qwints says:

            One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned here is that Ford named three people at the event (Kavanaugh, Judge and “PJ”) who also show up on Kavanaugh’s calendar entries for July 1. The event has more boys attending (7) than Ford said were at the party (4) but I think it narrows the number of people who could have made such a plausible accusation.

          • Matt M says:

            And I think anyone who examined the whole thing rationally would, too.

            Your repeated insistence that anyone who comes to different conclusions than you is irrational is insulting and offensive and you should knock it off.

          • albatross11 says:

            What is the base rate on false accusations or mistaken identifications when the accusation is made three decades after the alleged crime? I don’t think we actually have any data on that, but it’s hard to believe that either the probability of false accusations or of misidentifications goes *down* with the passage of decades.

          • Matt M says:

            What is the base right on false accusations of well known, highly visible, politically controversial, public figures?

            We don’t know that either.

            What bothers me with the “Rationality suggests Ford is telling the truth!” crowd is that they seem to be very picky about just what counts as a prior and what doesn’t. What I mean here is something like, let’s say we start our chain of logic with the fact that most men aren’t rapists, ergo the odds of Kavanaugh being a rapist are low.

            But wait – says the defender of Ford. We must consider that false accusation rates are also incredibly low. Therefore, the odds of a man who has been accused of rape being a rapist are high!

            But then they stop with the logic chain at that precise step and go no further. No evaluation of the what impact the accuser’s complete inability to recall any verifable fact about the night in question might have on the odds. No evaluation of the fact that the witnesses she provided cannot corroborate her story. No evaluation of the many pro-Kavanaugh witnesses he provided. No evaluation of the fact that he’s a highly visible public figure whom many on the left seem to literally believe will turn all American women into sex slaves. And so on and so forth.

            There’s a huge and complex chain of things we can consider that would have an impact on his probability of guilt. There’s no logical reason we should go as far as “most accusations aren’t false” and then immediately stop there.

          • tscharf says:

            This, I guarantee you, is not what happened:

            1. Ford made an accusation, and then went on with her life.
            2. Kavanaugh denied it, and went on with his life.
            3. Without giving any further thought to the situation they showed up to testify.

            Kavanaugh / his handlers stated they did days of testimony, one more than 8 hours to prepare for this, and it is unfathomable that Ford who is being represented by the best Democratic lawyers available didn’t do the same.

            This makes the outcome of a credibility assessment to be as much a battle of lawyer preparation as does the actual guilt and innocence. Like I said before, put up Meryl Streep with a fake accusation and see what happens. This doesn’t mean Ford is right or wrong, it just makes determining it without evidence very difficult.

            I find it very strange anyone has any confidence of what happened here. At least with OJ we had a mountain of evidence to sort through.

          • herbert herberson says:

            @tscharf That’s an important and rarely recognized point.

            It also cuts against both sides of the “did his testimony show an un-judicial temperament” debate. On the one hand, the idea that he was a privileged fratboy who got so emotional at being challenged for the first time that he went on an unhinged rant is simply inaccurate; on the other hand, his forays into outright partisanship weren’t the relatable fruits of umbrage that his defenders see them as so much as they were entirely premeditated political maneuvers

          • @qwints:

            but I think it narrows the number of people who could have made such a plausible accusation.

            I thought Ford had said that it couldn’t be the July 1 event–am I wrong?

            In any case, there may be few people who could make that particular plausible accusation but there are lots of other ways in which someone else could have made an equally plausible accusation. Anyone who attended Yale with him or dated someone who did could have known the names of a few people Cavanaugh hung out with, for instance.

            It’s worth noting that Judge isn’t just a random person. He is a friend of Cavanaugh’s who wrote a book about his own alcoholism. If someone was inventing the story, he would be an obvious person to put into it.

          • qwints says:

            Ford has not said that. After a search, I think you’re referring to this Politico story which quoted an unnamed “member of Ford’s team” saying Ford ““would have told [the FBI] that she never considered July 1 as a possible date, because of some of the people listed on his calendar who she knew well and would have remembered.”

      • cassander says:

        You are implying that #believewomen implies support for the idea that the US legal system should adopt a lower standard of evidence for sex crimes. Yet you asked this exact thing last OT, and as far as I can tell every single reply from the left disputed that. Am I missing something, or are you just ignoring them?

        In my experience, you are absolutely right that #believewomen insists that they don’t want to lower the legal standard. But they also insist on massively expanding the definition of rape and simultaneously insisting that people believe almost any accusation that isn’t physically impossible to have happened, as if doing those things wouldn’t, in the long run, invariably lead to lower the legal standard. This is hardly the first time a political movement advocated sincerely for mutually incompatible goals, and it won’t be the last, but that doesn’t make it unproblematic nor does it make it illegitimate to point out that doing the things that #believewomen calls for will lead to an effectively lower standard.

        • brmic says:

          We’ve just been over this and I notice you’ve updated to ‘will eventually, somehow, someway lower legal standards’ To which I say
          (1) this is not a given and far from ‘invariable’
          (2) this is especially not a given since even today perceptive individuals such as yourself can foresee that danger and even get agreement from across the aisle that this is something to watch out for.
          (3) I reiterate my ask for your solution. ‘Do nothing’ is not acceptable to me. Apparently the solutions on offer that preserve the presumption of innocence are not acceptable to you because according to you they will inevitably lead to losing the presumption of innocence anyway. I can work with you rejecting proposed solutions based on rigorous, ironclad demonstration of their negative long-term consequences that even careful observation and adjustment won’t prevent. Hand-waving them away won’t do. Alternatively, I’d like to hear how you would solve the problem.

          • CarlosRamirez says:

            This what I said over on r/ssc in response to someone asserting false allegations are rare, which is true:

            believewomen is the belief that an accusation ought to be enough to punish. Hence the outrage at Kavanaugh being unpunished: many people are of the opinion that Ford’s accusation ought to have been enough to mete out a punishment, and believe that it is a miscarriage of justice that no punishment, such as being denied his supreme court nomination, was forthcoming.

            False allegations being rare only undermines presumption of innocence if one is too shortsighted to visualize what justice systems without presumption of innocence look like: as the historical record shows, they’re an incoherent pile of lynch mobs, and of despots purging their enemies while claiming to be doing good.

            Consider that the principle of presumption of innocence is at least 1,400 years old, and unlike a great many other things that old, is still venerated by man to the point that it is enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This makes it a formidable example of a Chesterton’s fence, literally one that has stood for 1,400 years, and been extensively tested in that time.

            But let’s throw out everything I just said, and grapple more directly with the implications of most accusations being true. Let us assume this is not an artifact of justice systems that don’t immediately reward accusers, but is actually a fact of life in all ages and nations. A rather disturbing conclusion immediately becomes apparent:

            Lynch mobs usually catch actual rapists and murderers. Behold, the image of justice!

            But perhaps that’s too glib: presumably, we don’t want to utterly destroy even actual rapists and murderers. Just imprisoning them for some years is light enough. But it is only light when compared to being brutally lynched. Lynching and imprisonment are clearly both severe and permanently life-altering forms of punishment, so the distance of their harm is not as great as it seems at first glance.

            Bringing this back to Kavanaugh, obviously the stakes for him are not as high as for someone accused of rape. Nevertheless, the moral thing to do is to presume innocence, such as not to undermine one of the cornerstones of the Western conception of justice, which is the best system of justice that has been tried so far in all the history of humanity.

            We’re left with a conundrum for those who would do away with presumption of innocence: either the lynch mobs are right, or if they’re wrong, then why should our battle-tested systems of justice try to function more like a lynch mob? Why should we in our daily lives try to function more like a lynch mob? Why should we mete out severe and life-altering punishments with anything less than 99.99% certainty that we have the right person?

            Nobody has suggested the rate of false accusations is as low as 0.01%, therefore, an accusation will never be enough.

          • cassander says:

            We’ve just been over this and I notice you’ve updated to ‘will eventually, somehow, someway lower legal standards’ To which I say

            (1) this is not a given and far from ‘invariable’

            Have you met people? Do you really think you can massively raise the social salience of an act, deem it witchcraft, and trust that they won’t want to burn the witches. Because if so, I have a bridge I’d love to sell you.

            (2) this is especially not a given since even today perceptive individuals such as yourself can foresee that danger and even get agreement from across the aisle that this is something to watch out for.

            No, I can’t, because the entire point of this conversation is to ask what happens when #believewomen gets what they want, and what they want is to make exactly that sort of questioning morally impermissible.

            (3) I reiterate my ask for your solution.

            My solution for what? Rape, like every other crime, has massively declined over the last few decades. And that’s fantastic, so fantastic that I see neither an epidemic of rapes that needs solving, nor evidence that the things we’re doing in general to stop crime don’t work for rape. Would the world be better with less? Of course, but not if it comes at the expense of punishing huge numbers of innocents.

          • brmic says:

            @cassander

            Do you really think you can massively raise the social salience of an act, deem it witchcraft, and trust that they won’t want to burn the witches.

            What are you talking about here precisely? Without the metaphors please.

            No, I can’t, because the entire point of this conversation is to ask what happens when #believewomen gets what they want, and what they want is to make exactly that sort of questioning morally impermissible.

            Citation needed? Maybe this is a bubble thing, but in my bubble incremental change with a re-evaluation down the road is the usual suggestion.

            that I see neither an epidemic of rapes that needs solving, nor evidence that the things we’re doing in general to stop crime don’t work for rape. Would the world be better with less? Of course, but not if it comes at the expense of punishing huge numbers of innocents

            The evidence for the epidemic has been presented, you just refuse to update. The argument for why rape is a special kind of crime has been made repeatedly. The argument for ‘huge number of innocents’ is non-existent.

          • believewomen is the belief that an accusation ought to be enough to punish.

            You seem to be using “punish” in a broad and somewhat fuzzy way, sometimes applying to any adverse consequence.

            If someone has a twenty percent chance of being a rapist I would discourage my daughter from dating him—and I presume she would choose not to on her own. My daughter is a delightful young lady and not being able to date her is an adverse consequence. Is that a punishment? Should it only happen with proof beyond a reasonable doubt?

          • cassander says:

            @brmic says:

            What are you talking about here precisely? Without the metaphors please.

            I’m not sure what else there is to say. You can’t make sexually assault more of a bad thing than it already is without secondary consequences.

            Citation needed? Maybe this is a bubble thing, but in my bubble incremental change with a re-evaluation down the road is the usual suggestion.

            Putting aside that we just saw a massive, nationwide spectacle of exactly the opposite of what you suggest, you also have the passage of yes means yes laws, and a public movement openly dedicated to the proposition that voicing doubts about the assertions of supposed victims is illegitimate. That’s not me reading into them, they’re literally saying that.

            The evidence for the epidemic has been presented, you just refuse to update.

            The problem with you presenting the usual set of unavoidably weak statistics, while completely ignoring the massive decline in rapes over the last 30 years is not me failing to update. I’ve seen them before, and the evasion before.

            the argument for why rape is a special kind of crime has been made repeatedly.

            No one denies this.

            The argument for ‘huge number of innocents’ is non-existent.

            The evidence for large numbers of innocents has been presented, you just refuse to update.

          • The Nybbler says:

            You seem to be using “punish” in a broad and somewhat fuzzy way, sometimes applying to any adverse consequence.

            An example from Google — the idea was floated that any man accused of sexual harassment should simply be fired without bothering to investigate if the claim was true.

          • brmic says:

            you also have the passage of yes means yes laws, and a public movement openly dedicated to the proposition that voicing doubts about the assertions of supposed victims is illegitimate. That’s not me reading into them, they’re literally saying that.

            Do yes means yes law remove the presumption of innocence? Clearly not. If we find out they don’t work, I’m all for reversing them. So far, they seem to have less adverse consequences than I expected, but it’s still early days.

            As for your link, did you read it? It goes through a long list of bullshit victims have historically had to hear and yes, it’s calling for an end to that. There is no mention of changing laws, just culture. (And yes, regardless of whether you’re law enforcement or not: If your first response to someone who claims to be victim of a crime is doubt, and if that attitude is reserved for particular crimes, that is a problem.)

          • cassander says:

            @brmic says:

            Do yes means yes law remove the presumption of innocence?Clearly not.

            When they require the use of a preponderance of evidence standard, absolutely yes.

            There is no mention of changing laws, just culture.

            I’m glad you now admit this, because before when I said that #believewomen wants to make questioning the veracity of supposed victims socially unacceptable, you denied it.

          • David Shaffer says:

            @CarlosRamirez

            Bravo, this is an excellent point and clearly explained.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            You seem to be using “punish” in a broad and somewhat fuzzy way, sometimes applying to any adverse consequence.

            If someone has a twenty percent chance of being a rapist I would discourage my daughter from dating him—and I presume she would choose not to on her own. My daughter is a delightful young lady and not being able to date her is an adverse consequence. Is that a punishment? Should it only happen with proof beyond a reasonable doubt?

            Regardless of whether we call it punishment, I would argue that if all women chose to not date a person with a 20% chance of being a rapist and no one would offer a job to that person; that person would experience extreme hardship. I think that many people would prefer a temporary jail sentence.

            Ultimately, a lot of reasons why we have due process are just as applicable to how people treat each other outside of the legal system. The justice system is sanitized vigilantism anyway.

          • Matt M says:

            Right. If you refuse to date anyone with 20% chance of being a rapist, that means for 4 out of every 5 people you reject under the grounds of “possible rapist” will have been entirely innocent.

            This is unfair to them, but also potentially harmful to you, in the sense that you reject many potential mates who actually meet your criteria just fine.

            It might still be worth doing, but I think you’d have to be very careful about where you draw the line. Is 20% the right number? 10%? 1%?

          • tscharf says:

            There are likely many instances of alleged sexual assault that are legitimate cases of confusion on consent. There is nothing wrong with trying to establish some rules and teach them to protect both women and men from false allegations. This is the low hanging fruit that can be addressed successfully.

            I’m not saying this is a good rule or guideline, but imagine if “the woman takes off her own clothes” is a rule that makes the burden of proof much higher, and further suppose this was taught and everyone knew it. It stands that cases where a woman freezes up in confusion gets “assaulted” by a man who can’t read social cues very well would be reduced.

            It’s progress.

          • Aapje says:

            A further point:

            One of the reasons why people traditionally care so much about due process from the government, but far less from people or companies is that consequences of choices by the government are much harder to escape.

            If you misbehave in a way that upsets the government, every cop will come after you actively. If you misbehave in a way that upsets some women (or men), you may get a shitty reputation that reduces your chances, but a lot of women won’t know about that or care about it.

            The same is generally true for getting a job, unless you are in a very small field.

            The same is true for getting an audience for your ramblings.

            However, this is decreasingly the case with the internet, big multinationals, etc. Things can haunt you forever. You can get enemies that go after you wherever you go. Employers who have no direct knowledge of your past may just google you and find a negative story (true or false). A person who offends others with his ramblings may suddenly get blacklisted from all major platforms in small order. Etc.

            My grandparents lived in a time where keeping up appearances was a primary concern. That’s how you behave in a setting where making a social faux pas can have serious long term consequences. Perhaps we will go back to that again, where people present a facade in public, and are only honest behind closed doors (or with a fake username).

            Interestingly, some people desire to deanonymize the internet, which could be horrible in this respect.

          • g says:

            @Matt M

            I think that if you have a policy of not dating people who have a 20% chance of being a rapist, and if you make a reasonable attempt to have probability estimates that actually reflect available evidence, then the false positives (i.e., people you decline to date who aren’t actually rapists) will, as a population, not look just like the non-rapist population as a whole. For instance, they will include a larger fraction of people who have perpetrated other kinds of sexual misconduct that fall short of rape, and a larger fraction of people whose beliefs and/or attitudes make them more likely to rape in the future even though they haven’t done so yet. My guess, though it could be wrong, is that a large fraction of the false positives will be of this sort. (Because I expect being in categories like those makes it much more likely that a person will be evaluated by a reasonable person as 20% likely to be a rapist.)

            Of course judgement is fallible, and if you have such a policy there may be other groups of people, in reality entirely non-rapey, that are greatly overrepresented in your false positives. That’s bad; it may be very bad, especially, if many other people’s judgement is off in the same way; but if your judgement is off in such a way, the chances are you’re going to avoid dating those people even without the “don’t date anyone with a 20% chance of being a rapist” policy.

        • dick says:

          In my experience, you are absolutely right that #believewomen insists that they don’t want to lower the legal standard. But they also…

          Are you referring to an SSC poster? If so, who? If not, is this the right place to demand an explanation?

        • ana53294 says:

          There are two things in a rape accusation that have to be proven: that there was a sexual act, and that there was no consent.

          I submit that #believewomen means to believe the woman that she did not consent. Because usually, the lack of consent part is the one that is hard to prove, whereas the fact that they had sex is much easier to prove.

          Proof of the sexual act should not depend on her account, but on physical evidence.

          • albatross11 says:

            But in many rape cases, both parties agree that the sex happened, and the only question, legally, is whether the victim consented. Saying “we’ll just take the alleged victim’s word for that” means saying “anyone you have ever had sex with can have you put in prison anytime they like, on their word alone.”

          • ana53294 says:

            There was a very mediatic gang-rape case in Spain recently, which got resolved as sexual abuse and not sexual assault (rape).

            Spanish law requires that there be “violence or intimidation” in order for the case to be classified as rape. This is translated into the victim having to fight or say no in order to prove she was raped; acting passively is not enough.

            The thing is, people in the street have a certain idea of what intimidation is, which differs from what Spanish judges think. An example I liked was the different treatment there would be between theft and robbery.

            Say five men, strong, two of whom are trained to fight (one was police, the other was Army), approach a young girl in a closed room and nicely ask her for a wallet. Then they take away her phone, and police find her crying on a bench. She testifies that she felt compelled and afraid, so she gave them all her money. Nobody would question that there was, indeed, an implicit threat, even if there was no explicit threat.

            But they didn’t take her wallet, they raped her, and videotaped her (in videos she is shown in a passive attitude). And then the justice system decides that no, there was no intimidation, even if any normal person can clearly see that the situation itself carried an implicit threat.

          • Aapje says:

            @ana53294

            The problem with ‘implicit threat’ is that it is heavily based on the assumption that one person should know what the other person is thinking. Since mind-reading is impossible, this generally means that people are held to account for the stereotypes about them.

            So a man should then assume that his behavior will be seen as more threatening than the same behavior by a woman, because men are stereotyped as more violent/dangerous. Due to ‘implicit threat,’ a man is then not allowed to ask for things that a woman is allowed to ask for.

            A black man should then assume that his behavior will be seen as more threatening than the same behavior by a white man, because black men are stereotyped as more violent/dangerous. Due to ‘implicit threat,’ a black man is then not allowed to ask for things that a white man is not allowed to ask for.

            In other words, it legalizes discrimination and turns ‘don’t act uppity’ into law.

            One way around this is to only recognize implicit threat that derives from people choosing to present some way voluntarily, rather than being forced into it by nature. For example, recognizing implicit threat that results from someone dressing up in Hell’s Angels clothing, but not implicit threat that results from their gender, race, etc. However, then you still have a grey area. Did the ‘heavy’ man choose to bulk up in the gym or is that just his body type?

            Another way is to only recognize implicit threat if the alleged victim gave sufficient indication that should make one suspect that he or she was acting due to perceived duress, even without being completely explicit about that.

          • ana53294 says:

            I think enthusiastic consent should be the requirement, at least when we are speaking about unusual sex acts where there could be a perceived implicit threat.

            So, while I am not entirely sure about vanilla missionary position sex within a relationship requiring explicit enthusiastic consent, I unusual forms of sex should require enthusiastic consent.

            So, for group sex, BDSM, anal, and many other things I haven’t heard about, the standard of consent should be enthusiastic consent.

          • Aapje says:

            @ana53294

            Sure, as long as its limited to those things.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Sex outside of a specific relationship where the two parties usually have sex is unusual.

    • ilikekittycat says:

      if someone thinks that’s not a pile of contradictions, I’m interested in seeing why they think that.

      Sure.

      Whites are oppressors. Nonwhites are victims. But race doesn’t exist

      “Race doesn’t exist” is just a certain segment of the right-wing idiots across the political spectrum repeating what they hear when they hear sociologists say “race is socially constructed” and not an actual left-wing position.

      Yet I love racial diversity. And I celebrate our differences. Because we’re all the same

      Obviously a notion of a “melting pot” takes into account a relatively modern frame of mind about these things on behalf of the two sides. If there was a tribe like the Sentinelese or someone in the Amazon that just hate outsiders and do nothing but attack them and drive them off, we’re not similar enough for cultural exchange to occur, even though we’re obviously humans capable of interbreeding. You’ll never get them to integrate one black guy and one Latino, etc., until they look like the Burger Kings kid club. Here you have some kumbaya platitudes, for sure, but if you pointed out the exceptions to them, no thinking progressives are gonna say these are totally mandatory and universalizable, just guidelines/ideals, drawing the border at a different place than traditionalists of whats “too” extreme to mix, etc.

      So let’s destroy diversity. By mixing together

      Culture is in constant dialectal tension (and this includes notions of race, in the left view.) It’s not like shit and ice cream, where any admixture leaves you with “shit.” You are gonna have new things emerging from the mixture all the time that challenge and alter the existing structures. Italian-Americans were once just Italians, weird Catholic immigrants who weren’t allowed under the umbrella of “whiteness.” Over time they became less scary and now you have Italian-Americans, who aren’t the previously existing WASP white American, but also wouldn’t fit in going back to Sicily, either.

      But only in white countries.

      This is straight-up racist propaganda. The Left would be thrilled if China, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc., took their part in conscientious modern society and let in tons of migrants, stopped oppressing minority sects in the name of the dominant sects, and so on.

      • The Nybbler says:

        “Race doesn’t exist” is just a certain segment of the right-wing repeating what they hear when they hear sociologists say “race is socially constructed” and not an actual left-wing position.

        Unless the Huffington Post has switched sides, I don’t think so.

        • ilikekittycat says:

          Fair enough

        • xq says:

          The article seems to be expressing the “I don’t see race” position, which most progressives would identify primarily with the right (it was regularly parodied by Colbert’s character for example).

          Every combination of beliefs exists on the internet, but coming from an American progressive it’s a heterodox view.

        • qwints says:

          That’s not a Huffington Post piece, it’s a blog post that Huffington Post hosted, but the contributor does identify as politically progressive. It also takes the standard lefty position (race is a social construct without a biological basis). What’s unusual is the proposal: “stop talking about race to solve racism” hasn’t been a mainstream left position since at least the 90’s. When Roberts used a similar line in 2007, it was widely attacked by the left.

      • quanta413 says:

        Italian-Americans were once just Italians, weird Catholic immigrants who weren’t allowed under the umbrella of “whiteness.” Over time they became less scary and now you have Italian-Americans, who aren’t the previously existing WASP white American, but also wouldn’t fit in going back to Sicily, either.

        I think the idea that Irish or Southern Europeans or what have you didn’t count as white is weaker than it looks despite that monograph “How the Irish became white”. It’s just that whites can be racist against other whites too. It sounds kind of weird to modern Americans, but it isn’t.

        Like some Italians are darker skinned than the Swedish, but they’re both still Europeans and people knew that.

        Old social categories were different. I’ve got a book on Muslims in antebellum America and I remember some weird historical detail about an African who called himself an Arab prince and was thus clustered with whites instead of blacks by a lot of people at the time.

        • idontknow131647093 says:

          I always find it odd when people bring up Irish/Italians in this context. Maybe it is because there were so many that almost everyone alive has an ancestor from the 1860-1920 immigration wave (including me). However, that doesn’t make the point that it works, it merely means it worked for you.

          Its like people have forgotten that big city machine politics began at that time, or that those machines are the cause of many of our lasting city problems, or that those machines also caused reactions like an aggressive centralized American government.

          So I’m not racist against Italians, indeed I am 1/4 Italian, but I understand that a person in 1875 America would have been wary of Italians if they didn’t want a city machine and a nationwide income tax. Now we have both.

          What would a person in 2018 say to the 1875 isolationist to convince him? That America would become the most dominant country in the world? That would make him laugh because he already thought that would happen in 30 years (and he’s not wrong). That there would be consistent growth for a century (aside from that one decade) and man would go to the moon? He would say, “yes, and? What about something impressive?”

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          I don’t know that Irish and Italians weren’t considered white, but they were definitely considered to belong to a separate race in some sense: Thomas Huxley distinguished between the Xanthochroic (fair white) and Melanochroic (dark white) races, the latter of which contained the Irish, Welsh, Southern Italians, Greeks, etc. Later on, you’ll see people distinguish between the Nordic race and the Mediterranean race.
          This distinction makes it into Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race, and the idea that the Nordic race was distinct and superior found expression in the Immigration Act of 1924 which limited immigration from Southern Europe and especially Italy.
          Proponents of the law (or the general idea of a restriction on immigration from Italy more generally) justified it on the basis that “the immigration of people removed from us in race and blood is rapidly increasing” (Henry Cabot Lodge), that it was a bulwark against “a stream of alien blood” (author of the law Albert Johnson), and “the races of men who have been coming to us in recent years are wholly dissimilar to the native-born Americans” (David Reed, the other author).

          So, white, but still a distinct and inferior race of white.

          • quanta413 says:

            So, white, but still a distinct and inferior race of white.

            Yeah, that’s what I’m saying!

            People in the past sometimes used notably finer grained distinctions than in the present.

            It’s more like “The Irish became somewhat confused with Anglo-Saxons” than the “The Irish became white”.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            In context though, I think this is still a good example of “race doesn’t exist”, in the sense that Italians and Irish were still thought of as racially distinct from English and other northern Europeans in a way that I don’t think is really true now. It’s true that the relevant distinction wasn’t quite white vs. non-white, it was Nordic white vs. dark-white, but it’s still an example of a racial distinction being erased over time.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @quanta413:
            Mmmm, think that is a misreading of nuanced argument about “becoming white”. As people find it less and less convenient or desirable to identify Irish/Polish/Italian/etc. as inferior, they stopped caring about identifying that ancestry and arguing that the “superior race” was Anglo-Saxon or Norse or Aryan or whatever. White only really starts to become a marker of superiority once you give up on the others as meaningful. It’s not that the Irish became confused with Anglo-Saxons, but that Anglo-Saxon ceased to be a claim of superiority (and Irish inferiority).

            And you also simultaneously stop seeing depictions of, for example, Irish as dusky skinned apes and skulking black shadows.

          • quanta413 says:

            Ancestry sells kits pulling out the various European ancestry components in a DNA test. I think they’re still thought of as distinct.

            We just don’t think that Italians are inferior to Anglo-Saxons anymore.

            I think it confuses things to say “race doesn’t exist” instead of “social status doesn’t have to be related to race”.

            Same thing for “becoming white”. No one “became white”. They were all white all along. They just started being less racist about who they married.

            EDIT: And just for reference. I read that whole monograph “How the Irish became white”. It’s not bad, but I think his choice of words is more obfuscating or confused than helpful.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            They’re currently thought of as distinct nations, not distinct races. Remember, the Irish and Italians were lumped in together as examples of the Melanochroic race.

            I agree that a lot of the confusion seems to be bound up in different meanings of the word “race”.

          • quanta413 says:

            They’re currently thought of as distinct nations, not distinct races. Remember, the Irish and Italians were lumped in together as examples of the Melanochroic race.

            People in the past had less accurate classifications of race because they couldn’t do DNA tests. They didn’t know exactly how inheritance worked. So they basically had to guess how closely related different peoples were based upon geography, history, and physical similarity. These are not useless techniques (paleontologists and anthropologists still use these techniques), but they are less powerful and specific techniques for determining ancestry than just extracting some DNA.

            And a nation is not its people. You can’t DNA test for what nation someone is from. Race has approximately meant ancestry for a long enough time, so it should be used to mean ancestry. Or grudgingly used to mean categories ancestries are put into. And the deviant uses of race to mean things besides ancestry should be purged. We’ve already got ethnicity to mean certain parts of culture.

            I agree that a lot of the confusion seems to be bound up in different meanings of the word “race”.

            LINGUISTIC PRESCRIPTIVISM FOREVER!

          • albatross11 says:

            When people now use the term race, they almost always mean something like “people from the same continent, as judged by their looks.” Other people in the past have sometimes used race to mean something more like “people from this particular country” or “people from this region of some continent.” But there was never a time when people somehow thought Irish weren’t white in the sense that people now use that term. They often thought the Irish were stupid or criminally inclined or whatever, but not that they weren’t from Europe.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            @quanta
            I’m not sure I understand the point you’re making, so instead I’ll just say, I strongly disagree about prescriptivism.

            @albatross11
            Yes, I agree with all of that. I still think it’s interesting and noteworthy that a clade containing Irish, Italians, etc., that used to be of paramount political and social importance, has all but disappeared in current discourse.

            To stick to the point about how the term “race” is used, I guess I’d say that the ancestral grouping defined by “race” seems to have been widened at some point to allow the Italians to join the same race as the English, and this gerrymandering of the borders of racial identity is the point being made when someone says “race doesn’t exist”.

          • Phigment says:

            I think that, honestly, it’s a matter of the word “race” coming to have a more specific meaning over time.

            People today, when using the word “race” specifically use it to mean broad phenotypical features, especially skin color.

            People a century ago would use the word “race” in that way, but they would also use it to refer to things modern people would denote as “tribes” or “nations”.

            When G.K. Chesterton or Edgar Rice Burroughs spoke of the Irish Race, or the Polish Race, or whatever, they don’t mean simply a specific set of genetic characteristics, they mean a set of social characteristics. A member of the Irish race acts like an Irish person, and talks like an Irish person, and has the cultural values of an Irish person, and also probably looks like an Irish person, too.

            The “looks like” aspect is not imaginary, either; family resemblance is a thing, especially in small communities that were semi-isolated. I can go to a family reunion in my ancestral hometown and fairly reliably pick out the people who have the same set of wrinkles as my dad and know they’re my cousins. And that’s after generations of folks leaving town, marrying, and coming back. I think a lot of modern people really don’t have a visceral understanding of how human phenotypic variation can play out, because they’re used to being in big cities where everyone has been reproducing with everyone else for generations, and only the most obvious characteristics are identifiable. Prior to easy long-distance migration, which got a huge kick mid-twentieth century, it’s not just a matter of skin color; you could tell if a person came from the neighboring town because she had the characteristic strong chin or he had the typical sticking-out ears, or whatever. And in fact, an 18th century person could look at a crowd of foreigners and have a reasonable chance of distinguishing the French people from the Italian people or the British people.

            Sort of similar to how individual towns not that far apart used to have distinguishable accents, but those are blurring together into more general national accents.

            Irish and Italian and Polish people didn’t literally “become white”; they became identical to the dominant tribe in most of the characteristics that anybody cared about in practice. Once you practice the same religion, attend the same schools, speak with the same accent, and cheer for the same local sports teams for a couple generations, having red hair is a cosmetic quirk instead of strong evidence that you’re one of those Other Tribe Members.

        • Matt M says:

          The Irish aren’t considered white to this day.

          Just look at “Beto” O’Rourke!

        • Douglas Knight says:

          “How the Irish became white”

          That book about the Irish being white, not being counted as white. The author is only interested in what he means by “white,” not what anyone else, today or yesterday means by the term.

      • Machine Interface says:

        It’s always surprising to hear that only white, western countries have to “deal” with situations of high cultural and ethnic diversity. Apparently Russia, India, Singapore, Vietnam, Bolivia or Ethiopia do not exist.

        • Matt M says:

          Those countries “deal” with it much more effectively/ineffectively, depending on your point of view…

          • Machine Interface says:

            Well if we go in the details: Vietnam and Ethiopia mostly ignore their diversity and have everything tailored for the dominant ethnic/cultural group (which in Ethiopia isn’t even the most numerous group) — but there’s no real expectation for the other groups to assimilate either. It’s basically how the German Empire used to handle its diversity (back when it included millions of Poles): “well we kinda conquered your land so you can still live there, just stay out of the way of Real Citizens please”.

            India and Russia are federations with very strong local rights for recognized minority groups (though usually more respected in India than in Russia, but it does help that India’s “minorities” can be several dozen million people strong).

            Bolivia has 40 official languages, and Singapore has enforced ethnic diversity in its electoral process, as well as what is probably the toughest anti-racist legislation in the world — to my knowledge Singapore is the only country where racist hate-speech can make you go on trial on charges of *sedition*.

          • quanta413 says:

            India and Singapore are distinct examples of two different places with racial and ethnic politics I really hope the U.S. doesn’t emulate. Or become more similar too.

            India’s racial, ethnic, and religious politics look like a failure from my perspective. Singapore’s better in a lot of ways you just have to not have a first amendment. No thanks.

            Vietnam and Ethiopia seem like they might really suck if you aren’t the dominant group (moreso than normal I mean).

            I think the U.S. really is kind of unique in that its social dynamics are closer to absorption or blending. This does lead to different challenges and tradeoffs.

          • Aapje says:

            @Machine Interface

            The Netherlands used to have pillarization, where different groups lived in parallel societies. The Protestants had their own churches, schools, shops, cafes, sports clubs, newspapers, etc; just like the Catholics, socialists and liberals.

            For TV, it was too expensive and difficult to have multiple TV channels back then, so the pillars shared a channel (and later channels), where TV shows were made by a specific pillar. So the Protestants would make shows that reflected their values, just like the Catholics, socialists and liberals would make shows that reflected their values (although it turned out that a lot of shows had cross-pillar appeal).

            Then at the national level, there was a state that handled shared interests and conflicts.

            I think that this was more or less the original ideal for the founding fathers in the US, who intended for states to be their own pillar and then for the federal government to be fairly minimal and to handle the shared interests and resolve conflicts.

            The US pretty drastically changed course during the Progressive Era, most notably & famously by Theodore Roosevelt, where the federal government was used to enforce a single set of values and behaviors across the US. From my perspective, this created strong tension between the constitution and the new (i)deal. This was not resolved by changing the constitution to match the new goals for the federal government, because the US has a false national narrative that they follow the path set by the founding fathers, making it impossible to openly admit to drastically changing direction. This gap between the contents of the constitution and what the people want the constitution to say was instead closed by ‘creative’ interpretations of the constitution.

            This in turn creates a lot of uncertainty and lack of clarity about the goal of the (federal) government, because the American constitution doesn’t actually serve the normal purpose of a constitution by being a fairly clear description of the semi-immutable long-term goals of the nation.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            The US pretty drastically changed course during the Progressive Era, most notably & famously by Theodore Roosevelt

            Franklin D. “FDR” Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt was his (distant) cousin who became president earlier in the century.

          • Aapje says:

            Theodore forcefully rejected the idea that the constitution strongly limits the federal government:

            It is the people, and not the judges, who are entitled to say what their constitution means, for the constitution is theirs, it belongs to them and not to their servants in office—any other theory is incompatible with the foundation principles of our government.

            The words of the Declaration of Independence, as given effect by Washington…are to be accepted as real, and not as empty phrases…that in very truth this is a government by the people themselves, that the Constitution is theirs, that the courts are theirs, that all the government agents and agencies are theirs… It is for the people themselves finally to decide all questions of public policy and to have their decision made effective…We here, in America, hold in our hands the hope of the world.

            The Constitution was made for the people and not the people for the Constitution.

            All constitutions, those of the States no less than that of the nation, are designed, and must be interpreted and administered so as to fit human rights.

            To hell with the Constitution when people want coal!

            It is true that Theodore’s actual centralization efforts were mostly blocked (and that a federal income tax was not introduced by reinterpreting the constitution, but by an amendment), but this change was not sudden. It was a matter of more and more people being convinced and power gradually being centralized.

            Drastically changing the course of a nation takes decades, if not longer.

            Franklin was the one who then was able to actually make large changes, partly due to circumstance and partly due to more people supporting a new goal for the federal government.

          • Machine Interface says:

            To clarify, my point was not that non-western countries necessarily handle diversity well, or better than western countries.

            It was that the not uncommon red tribe claim that “only white/western countries have to deal with ethnic/cultural diversity” is true neither in its strong form (“non-western countries are not confronted with diversity”) nor in its weak form (“non-western countries don’t accomodate or compromise in the face of diversity”).

          • mtl1882 says:

            @Aapje

            I agree about the false national narrative being a big problem, and it keeps us from dealing with things as they are. But this didn’t start with FDR – it started prior to the Civil War, and culminated at that point. Suddenly, the federal government is way too huge for the original constitution to make sense, especially when the bill of rights is applied to the states. We needed to make changes to level that out. Now, you can argue we should never have made changes, but the status quo got us the Civil War. At a certain point, modern communication and transportation made the whole every state an island thing less and less tenable. Plus you have enough time passing that the values of the revolution and thinking behind it are becoming less clear to the people alive. We couldn’t get along with such divisive issues. Perhaps we would be able to get along now, with slavery (and the related free speech/violence issue) out of the way.

            ETA: I think it would do humanity a favor to temporarily make each state an island, with most of its own laws, and see how it goes. With the option to move to another state at any time. It wouldn’t really work because of family ties, but I think it would allow people to come to terms with the reality of their utopian dreams, and also to see which societies work best and what happens over time.

      • MB says:

        “The Left would be thrilled if China, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc., took their part in conscientious modern society and let in tons of migrants, stopped oppressing minority sects in the name of the dominant sects, and so on.”
        Considering that China actually has had a leftist party in power for many years now, but has never let in large numbers of non-Chinese migrants, this is false. Or, if your definition of the Left requires excluding China from your ranks (those unenlightened foreigners did Communism wrong), then your definition of the Left is disingenuous and wrong.
        Oppressing minority religions is in fact the Left’s preference. Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minority Christian sects were heavily persecuted throughout the Communist camp, even more so than mainstream Christianity: as heavily as Muslims are persecuted in China now.
        This stems from the fact that the Left needs (and wants) to enforce absolute conformity. Every organization must serve the needs of the state. Thus, belonging to minority religions is seen (not completely wrongly) as a sign of non-conformism and dissent, even more so than belonging to the majority religions, which in the end, not without many dark episodes at first, are now grudgingly tolerated and even coopted.
        In the West, the Left used the principle of tolerance to weaken non-leftist mainstream institutions, until only their allies were left standing. In Europe some left-wing or liberal governments have waged a decades-long war against the Catholic Church, which was a strong opposing force — but when the question comes to Islam, their religious rights are in a whole different class, including ecclesiastical courts that were abolished for Christians many centuries ago. And even in the US, I cannot read the Left’s promotion of witchcraft, astrology, and other such non-mainstream spiritual practices as anything but an attempt of weakening mainstream religion.
        So: the Left encourages non-conformism and minority groups when it’s out of power, as a conscious strategy of subversion; the Left crushes religious and ethnic minorities when it is in power, so that this same weapon cannot be used against it.
        Your expression “would be thrilled” is accurate — Western leftists have no power over what is happening in China or Saudi Arabia, for them it’s exactly like watching a movie. Look at what the Left does when it has gained power, instead.

    • vV_Vv says:

      For example, the progressive subroutines in my consciousness are unable to formulate counters to even silly meme pictures like this. WARNING: VERY POLITICAL

      War is peace

      Freedom is slavery

      Ignorance is strength

      Diversity is equality

  41. ordogaud says:

    When asked technical questions about the future city, he [Akon] replied: “I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out.”

    Found the next Steve Jobs.

    • Matt M says:

      *Elizabeth Holmes

      • John Schilling says:

        Yeah, Steve Jobs actually knew and had established a partnership with the geek who would “figure it out”, before he started making the promises and collecting the $$$.

      • moscanarius says:

        True that.

    • I say he’s the next Sam Hyde:

      He says that the system of cryptocurrency “allows the people to utilise it in ways where they can advance themselves and not allow government to do those things that are keeping them down.”

      The site for Akon’s new crypto coin says that Akon Crypto City is being developed on 2,000 acres of land that the president of Senegal gifted to the musician, adding that it will be “a first of its kind 100 per cent crypto-based city with AKoin at the centre of transactional life.”

  42. The Nybbler says:

    I just noticed the title is a slashdot reference.

  43. parerga says:

    I’m the author of the philosophy-map. I’m incredibly happy to find it here in my daily reading.
    Would you mind linking to the website? I give the code and more detailed comments on the method there, which might help to clear up some questions people usually have. If you don’t get around to it, I of course fully understand.

  44. tscharf says:

    “I often see people I respect in one domain having otherwise crazy opinions, but for some reason it’s worse when I can watch it happening in real time.”

    This description fits almost everyone I know well. I don’t know why this is looked down upon by many, as far as I am concerned this is called having a unique character, and being a flawed individual, or perhaps an individual who is willing to voice unpopular opinions where it is useful to do so. I find it strange that it is important to some that people pass a broad based purity test. I would estimate that those that pass this test are likely doing so in a rote manner based on social pressure. Ugh. Being weird and having strange opinions makes life way more interesting. I place almost no value on broad based consensus in my designated tribe (which is defined by this very thing, ha ha) and would prefer it just all went away. I suppose I am saying in clumsy way that conformity is becoming over valued.

    • dick says:

      I think there’s a little room between “unique character willing to entertain unpopular opinions” and “holocaust denial”.

  45. Lambert says:

    I think the real value of Robin Hanson’s game is as a way of easily setting up a simple prediction market. It solves the problem of ‘probability games like this sound neat, but how do you actually set up a market with a small number of players who aren’t expert traders?’
    AFAICT, the crux of it is that you mostly trade with the bank; buying a bet raises the price by a certain amount and selling one lowers the price by the same amount.
    That sounds like it shouldn’t be hard to implement online, for example.
    And it needn’t be used for mutually exclusive outcomes. Sportsball fans could trade on probability of $PLAYER scoring at least once, for example.

  46. Tenacious D says:

    In Soonish by the Weinersmiths, I learned about someone whose life took some outlandish turns, like Hofmann and White: Gerald Bull. He was a Canadian aerospace engineer who researched ways to launch satellites with artillery. Later, he went to work for Saddam Hussein and eventually got assassinated in Belgium (probably by the Mossad).

    • John Schilling says:

      Gerald Bull probably doesn’t rate even a hundred milliTeslas on the Mad Science Mythic Scale, but he is noteworthy. So, may be worth clearing up a few of the myths.

      Bull absolutely loved his Ginormous Hypervelocity Ultracannons, because Ginormous Hypervelocity Ultracannons are Wicked Cool, and shut up about rockets I’ll find an excuse for why there’s an application that absolutely calls for a Ginormous Hypervelocity Ultracannon. But he was a genius-level talent in the field of ballistics generally, and when he absolutely had to, he could design mundane artillery of unpredecented performance.

      He wound up working for the Iraqis when his GHU-enthusiasm had worn out his welcome in Canada, the US, Belgium, and even apartheid-era South Africa. The terms of his deal appear to have been that the Iraqi government would finance the construction of a Ginormous Hypervelocity Ultracannon they had no use or desire for, and in exchange he would upgrade their mundane artillery and ballistic missiles. The ultracannon was never built, but the ordinary guns and missiles were. The guns worked quite well, aside from the usual problems with being used by an Arab army. The missiles were still kind of iffy in 1990. And it was almost certainly the latter that lead to his assassination at the hands of the Mossad.

      Hmm, also on the subject of Mad Scientists with crazy ballistic obsessions, Robert Mainhardt and the long slow death of the Gyrojet. Though I believe Mainhardt himself managed to die peacefully in bed.

      • Tenacious D says:

        Thanks for the elaboration, John.

      • hyperboloid says:

        on the subject of Mad Scientists with crazy ballistic obsessions, Robert Mainhardt and the long slow death of the Gyrojet. Though I believe Mainhardt himself managed to die peacefully in bed.

        Gerald bull’s basic idea of a Jules Verne style space gun was technically viable. It would have to be a kilometer long light gas gun, and the g-forces involved would tend to destroy all but the most robust payloads, but it would work. The real problem is economics. There just isn’t enough of a market for launching those sorts of payloads (mostly consumables and maybe some structural components), and by the time there is there will likely be better options than literally firing them out of a cannon.

        The Gyro jet gun (rather than the flair launcher) was always doomed to be useless as a military implement. When people first hear about the Gyro jet and it’s accuracy problems they often assume that the issue is stabilization in flight, and while that is a problem it is not the problem.

        The reason you can manage to hit the broad side of a barn with an AR-15 is that the propellant all burns at once while the bullet is still in the barrel. The gyro jet projectile is a rocket that is trying to gain velocity as it’s failing towards the ground along a ballistic arc. Even a tiny change in the burn rate of the propellant and your point of aim is way off.

        You can send a gun to do a rocket’s job, but you can’t send a rocket to do a gun’s.

        • Nornagest says:

          That seems wrong to me. A lot of rocket launchers have spotting rifles built in, which consist of a light, single-shot gun mounted parallel to the rocket tube and firing a special tracer round ballistically matched to its rockets. This wouldn’t work if there was significant uncertainty in their external ballistics.

          If I’m not mistaken, the actual burn time for most man-portable rockets is quite short, and they follow a ballistic path for most of their range.

    • Eugene Dawn says:

      Isn’t there a plotline in a Tom Clancy novel that’s based on Gerry Bull? Sum of All Fears, maybe? I tried looking this up and can’t find it now, but I’m pretty sure that’s how I learned about him.

  47. Big Jay says:

    If the Manchus are targeting the Han for genocide, they’re doing a really crappy job. The Han are literally the most numerous ethnicity on Earth. There are about 130 Han for every Manchu.

  48. HeelBearCub says:

    In regards to Unz, from the article:

    Still, I suspect the roots of his current opinions lie not in Jewish anti-Semitism but a kind of runaway contrarianism.

    This is one of the reasons why I continue to argue that is important to both a) make not merely a contrarian rebuttal to a popular point, but also an affirmative case of what you believe is actually occurring, and b) make positive case for positions that you hold, even when you think other people have made them.

    • quanta413 says:

      Those are fair points, but it also helps to… well… I have no idea how to put it nicely.

      I mean, Unz made me think “There but for the grace of God go I…” a couple years ago when I had only read a few of his articles. It seemed like he had paranoia issues or badly overactive pattern matching (even for a human) or something… But some of his writing was still interesting.

      Now though? I think he’d have to fix a lot of other things before time would be well spent on (a) and (b).

      Also, I wouldn’t apply (a) and (b) to all questions/answers. There are cases where showing an answer is false is sufficient. In the extreme case, if next week some popular point implied perpetual motion machines or violated Arrow’s impossibility theorem or something, I’d be derelict not to point that out. Even if I hadn’t read the original 500 page treatise on the idea and didn’t propose a better engine or better voting system whatever the topic may be.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        What I mean is that, especially if you have a strong contrarian streak, (a) and (b) need to be part of the regular mental hygiene to keep you from runaway contrarianism. It’s not a cure for runaway contrarianism. Ounce of prevention, pound of cure, etc.

        In addition, if you don’t do this, even if you yourself don’t fall victim to runaway contrarianism, anyone who follows your work is being induced towards it.

        This is in the context of my repeated forays at trying to point certain things out to Scott about his writing.

        • quanta413 says:

          That makes sense. Yes, most of the time showing something is false isn’t easy (outside the lab or mathematics). So if you aren’t spending much time in a lab but instead are dealing with more typical things humans think about, I agree that it’s more important to make a positive case.

        • Aapje says:

          @HeelBearCub

          I would argue that the proper amount of contrarianism depends on the environment and your (self-chosen) role in that environment. If you are surrounded by people who have a tendency to take drastic measures with high possible downsides, based on poor evidence, it can pay off hugely to be very contrarian (for yourself and those you influence).

          However, if you are in an environment where those around you don’t act too volatile, being contrarian is less useful.

          It is also a lot more useful to be a contrarian when you are a rare voice/adviser who criticizes the establishment in your environment, than when everyone acts that way.

          Finally, if you actually have a leader role, where you get to set or implement policy, its usually more important to be conservative than when you are merely a man with an opinion.

          • If you are surrounded by people who have a tendency to take drastic measures with high possible downsides

            Such as turning about 14% of world production of maize, the world’s most important food crop, into alcohol, in the mistaken belief that doing so reduces CO2 output.

          • Aapje says:

            That’s not a drastic measure though, because there is not a lack of calories right now & certainly not a lack of maize.

            The 1st-gen biofuels are boosted in large part to subsidize farmers, while in the same move, it gets rid of the maize surplus. In both the EU and US, traditional subsidies are increasingly disliked, so farmer subsidies are now greenwashed. So it’s a win-win-fake win sort of situation (farmers win, politicians win because they can both pander and pretend to help the environment, while CO2 output isn’t really effected although dumb people think it is).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            CO2 output.

            This fucking bullshit, right here.

            Hey, let’s shoehorn in some talking points on global warming. Snarking. Absent any attempt at context.

            This is the kind of bullshit that happens way too often here. As I recall, it’s this behavior that got Sailer banned.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            I didn’t argue for any specific level of contrarianism. I argued for a certain intellectual hygiene when being contrarian. I don’t think your point is oppositional to mine.

  49. Michael Handy says:

    The housing start up basically sounds like Strata management applied to renters. It could be very good or very bad, depending on the building management policies.

  50. Eigengrau says:

    Is there anything that distinguishes a “capsule hotel” from a hostel, aside from the fact that your bed is enclosed? Isn’t this just a flashy rebranding?

    • Nornagest says:

      It’s pretty much just the enclosed bed, but that’d be a big plus for me. I’ve stayed in hostels before, and the biggest problems I have with them are the lack of physical security for my stuff and the difficulty I have getting to sleep when I’m sharing a room with six other guys half of whom are snoring.

      (Well, that and the beds are never long enough, but I’m a tall guy and this probably wouldn’t generalize.)

    • hyperboloid says:

      Enclosed and stacked vertically, kind of like a human server rack. I suspect that the reason they are not common outside of Japan is that not much of an increase in density is actually achieved over just using bunk beds, and the economics of buying the capsules doesn’t make sense in countries with lower real estate prices.

  51. Bugmaster says:

    So far only being used for a few specific disorders, but the same technology would work for traits like height or intelligence. Gwern estimates that at current tech level, a process like this could probably gain three IQ points.

    Topical: http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/bad-genes
    On a more serious note, they claim to be able to detect:

    common single-gene disorders, such as Cystic Fibrosis, Thalassemia, BRCA, Sickle Cell Anemia, and Gaucher Disease;
    Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Coronary Artery Disease, Atrial Fibrillation, Breast Cancer, Hypothyroidism, Mental Disability, Idiopathic Short Stature, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    I don’t know much about human genetics — which of these are polygenic, and how polygenic are they ? I think that e.g. diabetes involves something like 150 genes, but I could be wrong.

    • gwern says:

      I think that e.g. diabetes involves something like 150 genes, but I could be wrong.

      Oh, much more, it’s thousands of variants at least. For example, here’s a really big new diabetes GWAS which alone has over 400 hits and hasn’t accounted for remotely all of the heritability: http://mccarthy.well.ox.ac.uk/2018/10/gwas-gift-keeps-giving/ Similarly for the others.

      Fortunately, for embryo selection, all you need to do is ranking / predicting which of a few embryos has the highest/lowest risk, which is a much easier task than predicting exactly the risk of every embryo or identifying every single relevant variant at very high posterior probability.

  52. Well... says:

    Older politicians have had more opportunities to be corrupt. Older politicians might have wider faces too.

    Late school start times suck for parents who have to get to work early.

    I wish there was a Ben Franklin circle in my city but there isn’t, and I am not interested in the work it takes to start one. But my city is large enough that I think someone here might start one eventually…does it say whether there’s a way to get notified if/when that happens? I couldn’t find anything on the site but I’m notoriously bad at finding that kind of info on websites.

    For anyone who’s interested, the Ig-Nobel prize winners.

  53. blumenko says:

    Roopkund is in Uttarakhand, India; which is neither in Tibet nor the Tibetan Plateau, as it is on the southern slope of the Himalayas.

  54. Lambert says:

    The story about microwave weapons used against US diplomats doesn’t add up.
    Detection of that kind of microwave signal using off the shelf receivers should be trivial.
    Direction finding would be more complex, but not beyond the ability of a bright EE student.
    If it were considered plausible that microwaves were being used, we would have proof by now.
    And the weapon could easily be shielded against using a tinfoil hat. (more of a helmet really, with a wire mesh over the face)

  55. arancaytar says:

    I’m fascinated that I’d never heard of the Hofmann story before, and I thought it was going to be something obscure that happened in the nineteenth century when it was actually the 1980s.

    • Silverlock says:

      I ran into the story by way of Radio Reader a few decades ago. It has stuck with me ever since. I seem to remember Hofmann’s being confused as to why people felt sorry for the bombing victims since “they didn’t know they were dead.” That did not seem to matter when he decided he did not want to be executed.

  56. alcoraiden says:

    The teenager still hanging around somewhere in my head says fuck your parental convenience, it’s a bitch to wake up early. My circadian rhythm never changed from when I was like 16. I still can’t get up early. Workplaces need to offer more flex hours. Augh.

    Also, nooo, stop having so many kids. We need fewer people on the planet. I for one am not having any, but can we tone it down in general? Have like…one or two in a family? Not more?

    • Matt M says:

      Jerry Brown explicitly admitted that he vetoed this bill because the teachers union opposed it.

      My mom was a teacher (although not in California) and it seems very obvious to me that this was almost certainly a case of the teachers simply not wanting to be inconvenienced with a schedule change.

      • gbdub says:

        Teachers swear up and down that they do a ton of work outside classroom hours (they better, else they are being vastly overpaid for a part time job).

        Why can’t they just do some of their after class work (grading papers and whatnot?) in the newly free 8-9 AM hour, and keep to the same schedule?

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          They do have extra work outside of class hours, but they also have shorter work hours, and two months of vacation.

          IIRC surveys show that teachers work a bit over 40 hours during the school year, slightly under the average for professionals. Brand new teachers put in a lot more hours, like most brand new professionals, for reasons sensible (needing to get up to speed, creating things they will need over their careers, making up for silly mistakes made from inexperience) and non-sensible (thinking that putting in 60+ hours counts as doing a good job, mistaking effort for results, not having a life, thinking they need to show off to the boss, not realizing that burnout is real).

        • Matt M says:

          They could do that, but why should they want to? They’ve got cushy union jobs that have given them decades of stability, and their union is so powerful that all they have to do is say “Nah, we’d rather not do that, let the kids adapt to our preferences,” and the governor will say “Yes ma’am!” So why shouldn’t they do just that?

      • Plumber says:

        “…Jerry Brown explicitly admitted that he vetoed this bill because the teachers union opposed it.

        My mom was a teacher (although not in California) and it seems very obvious to me that this was almost certainly a case of the teachers simply not wanting to be inconvenienced with a schedule change….”

        @Matt M,

        This issue has me on different sides than my usual ones. 

        I’m usually reflexively pro-union, and pro-local over state government (California is just too big, and Sacramento too far away), but in this case later start times would be so obviously good for the kids that I did want the State to impose them.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I strongly support the idea of everyone else not having children. It will leave more resources for my progeny.

      • quanta413 says:

        You can’t tell them about the second part!

        Just nod your head and act supportive.

        • Along analogous lines, heterosexual men ought to be strongly in favor of male homosexuality, since it reduces the number of competitors, opposed to female homosexuality for a similar reason.

          Yet the actual pattern appears to be the opposite.

          • Well... says:

            Single heterosexual men ought to be strongly in favor of male homosexuality. Most (or if not most, then a lot more anyway) married heterosexual men have less of a reason to care, and may be comparatively free to take other perspectives.

          • Married men have less of a reason, but the argument still goes through. Fewer heterosexual men means fewer men his wife could leave him for. More single women he could leave his wife for.

          • Gazeboist says:

            But suppose bisexuality is more prevalent among women, as some have speculated. In this case, each heterosexual or bisexual man pair-bonded to a bisexual woman reduces the number of competitors by two, compared with a reduction by one if we simply substitute a homosexual man. In this case, heterosexual men who believe their partners are bisexual ought to favor bisexuality, rather than homosexuality, in other men.

            I leave to the reader the task of considering the disingenuous bihacking prostletyzation singularity that could result.

            (Note: this is not meant to be an attack on any actual men, or women or anyone else for that matter, who may think bihacking is a good idea or otherwise have an opinion on it. “Disingenuous bihacking prostletyzation singularity” was simply the most absurd conclusion I could come up with from the premise “heterosexual men strategically advocate a particular sexuality for other men in order to increase their own reproductive success” – although after some consideration I think “bisexual men cause bisexual women” might also be doable.)

          • Well... says:

            By the way, here is a non-moral-foundations reason why heterosexual men might disapprove of male homosexuality:

            Straight men might perceive male homosexuals as more likely to attempt sexual assault against them, which is unpleasant and potentially traumatic even if it’s not successful.

            (While I know that just being male doesn’t mean every gay man will find me sexually attractive, I can personally attest to having been hit on — uncomfortably and aggressively in a few cases — by about a dozen gay men over the course of my adult life, some of whom were strangers and some of whom were not. There’s no reason a gay guy should get the impression I’m gay either, BTW.)

            Suppose you were for some reason compelled to spend a year in some kind of isolated environment (research outpost, desert island, prison, commune, that kind of thing) and you got to pick between two that were identical except one was full of gay men and the other was full of straight men. I think most men would assume the environment with the straight men presents to them a lower risk of sexual assault.

          • albatross11 says:

            Even with no real risk of sexual assault, I’d expect the heavily-gay community to be full of awkward sexually/romantically-charged interactions I didn’t want.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Depending on what “disapprove” actually means, that is a moral-foundations reason, just an indirect one.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            In the context of the conversations about sexual assault, this turn of the conversation is … lacking in self awareness, it seems to me.

          • Well... says:

            Please explain, HBC.

            I consider myself a pretty self-aware person. I have also been the target of some rather aggressive, borderline threatening sexual advances from gay men. If other guys have had similar experiences — which I presume many have — I could see that becoming the psychological basis of some general disapproval of homosexuality. What are you proposing is my blind spot there?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Well:
            Broadly, and admittedly uncharitably, the recent conversation around sexual assault could be summed up as “Bitches be lying, yo. Ain’t no problem with them being assaulted. Shit is made up by crazy SJWs.”

            But simply breath a word about the possibility that a gay man might possibly be interested in touching your body and the immediate response is “And that is why homophobia is perfectly rational. We cannot have that.”

          • Thegnskald says:

            HBC –

            You realize the reverse holds as well?

            That if it is reasonable for women (and society in general) to treat straight men as a sexual threat, then homophobia in this sense is equally reasonable?

            That if homophobia in this sense is unreasonable – and I am pretty sure both you and I agree that it is – that maybe the way society treats straight men might be fucked up as well?

            Consider the way society handles men who have been sexually harassed or raped by other men. First, just that. Now imagine that, instead, it is treated like, say, being mugged. Now, can you see why gay people might be concerned with a #metoo movement targeting them, and nobody else? Can you see why the idea of a homophobe deciding to ruin your life would be troubling?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            How about a society where we take sexual assault as a real problem and deal with it? Men shouldn’t sexually assault anyone. Women shouldn’t sexually assault anyone. Non-binary people shouldn’t sexually assault anyone.

            As to false accusations of sexually assaulting a straight man, I’m pretty sure gay guys have been worried about this for a long time before now. Fag bashing isn’t metaphorical.

          • Thegnskald says:

            HBC –

            That evades the argument in favor of another one, about ending sexual assault.

            But the thing is, we aren’t talking about ending sexual assault, we are talking about a culture that treats men – including gay men – as sexual predators.

            Your argument is like saying that the problem with black men being seen as criminals can be solved by reducing the crime rate.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            I think Thegnskald hit it almost perfectly: We can either have a real system, or we can have Tom Robinson convicted and shot on the steps of a Macomb Co. courthouse.

            Pretending like there are some magical societal witchcraft we can do to stop creepy guys from groping girls on the subway is stupid. Its just as dumb as not putting a lock on your front door.

          • quanta413 says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Broadly, and admittedly uncharitably, the recent conversation around sexual assault could be summed up as “Bitches be lying, yo. Ain’t no problem with them being assaulted. Shit is made up by crazy SJWs.”

            Given how you summarize your opposition here and how you call yourself left, it’s no wonder a lot of people here have a dislike for the left.

            To quote someone upthread

            this turn of the conversation is … lacking in self awareness

          • Broadly, and admittedly uncharitably, the recent conversation around sexual assault could be summed up as “Bitches be lying, yo. Ain’t no problem with them being assaulted. Shit is made up by crazy SJWs.”

            I find it hard to see how you could get that from anything anyone wrote here. By “the recent conversation” are you referring to conversations elsewhere?

          • brmic says:

            By “the recent conversation” are you referring to conversations elsewhere?

            Not HBC, but I too would characterize recent discussions on here in similar manner. Unsubstantiated claims that victimization surveys are not to be trusted recieve very little pushback, worries about false accusations are treated with utter seriousness. Just from the comment section here, the problems seem equally grave, with slightly more concern about the latter.

          • Thegnskald says:

            brmic –

            Your interpretations are, of course, your own. But if you wish to stand up for HBC, perhaps some of that evidence which HBC was asked for and didn’t provide would be more helpful than an affirmation which will largely be seen as “I too share the same politically partisan opinion on this matter”.

            Because, bluntly, from the conversations I followed, which granted was far from all of them, the perspective you seem to be arguing for isn’t one in which women’s issues are given a higher priority, but one in which any attention paid whatsoever to men’s issues is too much.

            Note that I do not think you support sexual assault victims, and that I say women specifically. Because I honestly don’t think you give a shit that the victimization surveys you allude to, when they are not structured to avoid implying women rape men, indeed suggest women rape men at about equal incident rates that men rape women. Speaking as a man who has been raped by a woman, I do not feel that the people who claim to be advocating for sexual assault victims care about me. More, I see far more threat in a false rape accusation against myself than being raped again. Maybe getting raped and then being forced to pay twenty years of child support to my rapist would be about as bad as a false accusation.

            Either way, my impression of your side of the conversation is “Any suffering of men is acceptable if it prevents any suffering of women”. While romantic, I am sure, such outdated gender roles have no place in a supposedly egalitarian movement.

          • brmic says:

            @Thegnskald
            I understood David Friedman as asking to clarify whether HBC was really talking about discussions on here, not asking for links/citations. Thus I answered, that I got a similar impression from recent discussions _here_.
            I don’t see where HBC was asked for evidence, but at any rate, I was only responding to DavidFriedman and I am confident in my interpretation of his question as not asking for links/citations.
            Whether DF wants to summarize that as ‘same politically partisan opinion’ is up to him, I don’t mind either way. I understood his question as implying that it be interesting to know whether this perception (and that’s all it is) is more widespread. I hoped he might find my data point valuable. If he uses it to file me under ‘so politically biased as to be out of touch with reality’, so be it.

            The rest of your post strikes me as both overly hostile and extremely invested in a particular mental model of another poster on the internet. I recommend counselling/therapy or just talking to someone close to you. It seems decidedly unhealthy.

          • Thegnskald says:

            brmic –

            The rest of my post, which is heavily surrounded with “my perception of the conversation”? (ETA: Okay, apparently I didn’t repeat that as many times as I thought, as it only shows up once at the end, as opposed bookending the relevant section as I thought I had done. My bad, must have deleted the first instance in editing.)

            Since you would apparently rather diagnose strangers on the internet than attempt to understand what they are telling you: That is what “perception of conversation” looks like, when you are the recipient. It is why I don’t engage in it, generally.

            So consider your advice for counseling, in view of that I am deliberately mirroring your conversational strategy, and consider what you look like to me.

            ETA:

            Or, to reiterate an ongoing theme: Maybe some self-awareness should be engaged as you accuse me of being “overly hostile and extremely invested in a particular mental model of [other posters]”. That pretty much defines your reaction to the conversation, after all.

          • JonathanD says:

            @DavidFriedman, probably no one is still checking the thread, but just in case, HBC’s interpretation of the conversion seems accurate to me.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Jonathon –

            Question in general, I guess:

            Why does anybody think it matters what their interpretation of the conversation is?

            More, why does anybody think that making the claim that they can’t tell the difference between a caricature of a generalization of a set of political positions defined by opposition to one’s own views, and a specific and non-representative sample of political arguments whose only relationship to that set is equivalent disagreement with one’s own views, is something that advances their cause?

            It just looks like a declaration of willing ignorance, and support for same. And the overall presentation is one of a political alignment in which it is virtuous to be ignorant in this way, in which it is virtuous to refuse to be charitable to specific views.

          • JonathanD says:

            @Thegnskald

            He asked. He seemed bewildered that anyone might interpret the thread that way. He seems like a genuinely good guy. So, it seemed like a worthwhile use of thirty seconds to add a another, “yeah, that’s what that sounded like to me” to the pile. Sometimes we can’t hear how we sound to other people, you know?

            ETA: Forgot to answer the second question. I don’t think I’m making that claim, and I’m not trying to advance a cause.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Jonathon –

            Unless there is a comment I am missing, David didn’t ask. What he did ask was whether HBC got that impression from another conversation – which, insofar as any other question can be inferred, is a question of how HBC came to that conclusion. Bewildered is right. What I think you miss is the reason for the bewilderment.

            I am not bewildered; there are many possible reasons why somebody might get that impression. None would be particularly flattering if I described them from an internal perspective; if I were to describe the most likely candidate from the perspective of someone who holds it, it amounts to “Sexists won’t admit sexism outright, so the category being drawn between sexist and non-sexist arguments is fundamentally faulty, and the arguments being offered are sexist by virtue of supporting sexism, regardless of the claimed intent of the speaker”, replacing “Sexist” with the relevant qualifier as necessary.

            Would you say that is a fair way of characterizing your reaction to the conversation as a whole, or do you have something more specific you can point to?

          • @brmic:

            You are correct that my question was whether he was referring to conversations here. His comment struck me as entirely unjustified by such conversations so I would be interested in seeing a defense of it, but that wasn’t what I asked for.

            Victimization surveys could be off in either direction, but for everything except murder they are probably the best measure of crime rates we have. I don’t remember noticing anyone here denying that, but I could have missed it.

            I assume that everyone here agrees that both false rape accusations and true accusations that are difficult to prove are problems. Judging the size of both is hard. For the second category we can compare victimization survey results with police arrest and conviction rates and conclude that a considerable fraction of rapes don’t get reported and a larger fraction don’t result in conviction.

            Given the nature of the crime, it’s hard to see a solution to this that doesn’t involve lowering the standard of proof, which then increases the risk of false accusations.

            I have just been reading the laws of Hammurabi, and noticed that in a variety of cases a false accusation, which seems to mean one that did not lead to conviction, resulted in the accuser being penalized, typically by the same penalty the accused would have suffered if convicted.

            That doesn’t make sense with a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard but does if the standard is “preponderance of the evidence.” Which is why I have suggested that if universities are going to use a preponderance of the evidence standard for sexual assault, then failing to convict ought to result in punishment of the accuser.

            I’ve made a similar argument in the context of tort law, where the standard is preponderance of the evidence, and pointed out that Periclean Athens seems to have had something along those lines, although the damages owed by the failed accuser were only one sixth of the damages he had claimed were owed to him.

          • brmic says:

            @Thegnskald
            This is a sad case of miscommunication.

            That is what “perception of conversation” looks like, when you are the recipient. It is why I don’t engage in it, generally.

            Thing is, I didn’t mind the last paragraph at all. I can work with Either way, my impression of your side of the conversation is “Any suffering of men is acceptable if it prevents any suffering of women”. by simply saying that this isn’t my position and then we can work on a series of statements I agree to that would convince you that the sentence above is not my position. Or maybe we agree to disagree because it turns out that due to something you don’t trust anything I say. In which case there’s nothing I can do with respect to you, but maybe I can learn about the something.
            When we get to detailed assumptions about how and how often I beat my wife, that’s less useful/actionable.

            On the subject matter (a) as I said, I was responding to David Friedman and I think I understood him correctly (but I’m not HBC). He was asking for a perception. (b) I’m usually careful to talk about victims and perpetrators of sexual violence because I don’t want to exclude male victims and female perpetrators as they are very much on my mind. (Due to greater stigma I consider male accusers more credible all else being equal.) If I slipped up, apologies, my bad.

          • Thegnskald says:

            brmic –

            Er. Don’t take me quite that literally.

            Shifting from object level to meta level, my point wasn’t about my perception, it was about how our perceptions are colored and defined.

            The comment you are responding to was created as a deliberate mirror image of the way I believe the conversation is being filtered and interpreted and perceived by those who think that the people who want a standard of evidence for such accusations which don’t render the accusation itself sufficient evidence for social conviction.

            At a meta-level, maybe your apology is how you model the “correct” reaction to offending somebody; that is, you are making the argument (by example) that this is the correct way to respond.

            I disagree.

            Once we acknowledge the universality of the experience of perceiving one’s political opponents to be terrible, the necessity for an apology, if an apology is ever necessary, likewise becomes universal. Which is to say, our conversations, insofar as we all follow this informal rule, must be constantly surrounded with apologies for some sort of… cultural imperialism, an apology for insisting our own values matter.

            And, no. Just, no.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Which is why I have suggested that if universities are going to use a preponderance of the evidence standard for sexual assault, then failing to convict ought to result in punishment of the accuser.

            Seems most likely that such a procedure would just result in more convictions, to avoid punishing women. The problems with the system aren’t caused by bad procedures; the bad procedures are a result of the core problem with the system, which is that it is not about justice but about protecting women.

      • zqed says:

        I strongly support the idea of me not having children. It will leave more resources for me.

        And my non-existent progeny will not be resentful for the resources your progeny acquire.

      • hyperboloid says:

        @Conrad Honcho
        Only until the crippling genetic burden of inbreeding sets in.

      • Slocum says:

        Unless you think of other people’s children as resources for your progeny. Places with low birth rates and shrinking populations (and the abandoned, decaying buildings, neighborhoods, and towns that go with it) along with a preponderance of old people are really not to envied.

    • We need fewer people on the planet.

      Are you bothered by the fact that the people who made forceful versions of that claim fifty years ago also made predictions which were strikingly falsified?

      • Plumber says:

        @alcoraiden

        “….We need fewer people on the planet….”

        “…Are you bothered by the fact that the people who made forceful versions of that claim fifty years ago also made predictions which were strikingly falsified..”

        @David Friedman,

        Well….

        On the side for less people: 45 years ago my parents were able to afford a bigger and less old house in Berkeley with money that took them far less hours of labor to earn than a smaller older house bought by me and my wife in 2011 that would be completely out of reach today, tents of the otherwise homeless are visibly spreading, traffic is much worse, and used needles litter San Francisco, especially near the Civic Center BART station.

        On the pro more people side: A lower percentage worldwide live in extreme poverty, more live in democratic republics, the murder rate is down in the U.S.A., and what was an open air parking lot next to the West MacArthur BART station that was a notorious site for muggings in the 1980’s now has housing, cafes, and restaurants and is pretty nice.

        • Well... says:

          I was summoned.

          Based on what I’ve heard San Francisco seems like a crappy place to live. A place of desperate extremes, like a lot of big cities. I’m agnostic as to how good it used to be, but I’m willing to believe it was better in some ways, worse in others. (True for any “would it be better to return to X years in the past” question.)

        • Urstoff says:

          Is cheaper real estate worth sacrificing all of the other positive aspects of a growing population?

    • Dack says:

      We need fewer people on the planet.

      “What most frequently meets our view (and occasions complaint) is our teeming population. Our numbers are burdensome to the world, which can hardly support us…. In very deed, pestilence, and famine, and wars, and earthquakes have to be regarded as a remedy for nations, as the means of pruning the luxuriance of the human race.” -Tertullian, 200 AD (World population ~190 million)

  57. Huston says:

    Scott’s summary of the issue at the top of this post (“documents that discredited Mormonism and selling them to Mormon officials who wanted to cover them up”) is erroneous; in fact, neither half of that precis can even be reasonably substantiated by the Wikipedia content he linked.

    Here’s a thorough summary of the facts at hand, much of which is missing from Wikipedia: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Forgeries_related_to_Mormonism/Mark_Hofmann/Church_reaction_to_forgeries.

    Since the apparent goal of that phrasing is to make the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints look bad (as per Scott’s hastily slanderous abstract), please let me share my video summarizing some illustrated, documented, objectively factual evidences for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon as a legitimately ancient record (and, therefore, the veracity of the LDS Church’s beliefs): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ATGGwbll3c. (Yes, I shared the same link in this forum earlier this year, but it feels appropriate to post it again as a response to the critical stance implied in the verbiage above. As before, I’m always happy to discuss the evidence in that video!)

    • dick says:

      If “Mormon officials who wanted to cover them up” were changed to “Mormon officials who, Hofmann hoped, would want to cover them up” would that satisfy you? Certainly it seems a little unfair to complain about the first bit – these are acknowledged forgeries, so it’s pretty obviously implied that the documents only appeared to be discrediting.

      • Matt M says:

        I think the concern is that Scott’s wording sort of implies that “covering up documents that discredit Mormonism” is a thing that Mormon officials commonly do (which would imply that such documents exist, and that coverups are the only thing preventing the religion from being widely discredited).

      • Huston says:

        Yes, that would seem to be a more responsible description of what happened, but in all fairness, I admit that Scott’s role here is hardly that of an objective reporter, so maybe my expectation isn’t fair. Still, at the level of factual accuracy, his wording is certainly off. You make valid points, so thanks.

    • Bugmaster says:

      I think you are conflating the two issues. The divine origins of the Book of Mormon (or lack thereof) have little to no bearing on the Church’s behavior in regards to forgeries. I think your argument would be stronger if you either stuck to one single topic (i.e. “the BoM is divine” or “the Church acted forthrightly with regards to forgeries”); or perhaps if you provided some logical link between the two.

      • Huston says:

        I didn’t really mean to suggest a direct link between the two halves of my post–addressing the OP’s wording and then my own apologetic effort–only that the mindset implied by the first naturally leads me to follow up with the second…but you’re absolutely right–the construction there clearly is that of a refutation directly to the preceding claim. You’re correct, and I should have been more clear.

    • Mablun says:

      If you’re interested in objective truth I’d give serious consideration to relying on sources that make it their primary objective to find the objective truth, warts and all. Fairmormon is an apologetic organization and explicitly state that their purpose is to defend the Mormon church. In all cases, they are going to give you a narrative that defends Mormonism, even in cases where Mormon officials were wrong. The Hofmann forgeries are one such example and so if you want to have the full story on that, apologetic organizations should never be your primary source of information. If you only have time for one source, wikipedia is probably fine. If you want to delve deeper, never read only the apologetic information without also reading something from a non-Mormon source.

      Imagine someone were researching a product. Scott point’s to a brief consumer reports article. And you counter by linking to the manufacturer’s PR page telling people to get the real info from there. Eh, consumer reports is probably going to be closer to the real info. If you really want the full story you also need to read the 1-star reviews, not just the company press releases.

  58. Steve Sailer says:

    To Europeans, narrow-faced people tend to look more aristocratic, broad-faced people more prole. An amusing comparison are the two English soccer stars David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. Both come from similar class backgrounds, but narrow-faced Beckham has apparently decided that physiognomy is destiny, married Posh Spice, and devoted himself in retirement to being superbly well-dressed like the English gentleman he was, apparently, born to be.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Any reason for this? Are Normans narrower-faced or something?

      • Simulated Knave says:

        Several possible explanations suggest themselves.

        Firstly, a Czech study found narrow face shape in men correlated with higher intelligence. So narrow-faced people may look smart.

        Second, narrow-faced people are (arguably) prettier on average. That never hurts.

        Third, looking at those “average face” studies, Anglo-Saxons and Celts actually probably ARE a little narrower-faced on average than the Scandinavians and French.

        Fourth, being a big stocky peasant has been gauche for ages. Better to be elegant and graceful. You can be big and muscly TOO, but grace beats clumsy if you’re picking.

        Basically, everyone likes elves.

      • dick says:

        This brings to mind the Russian fox breeding experiment. A researcher spent 60 years breeding lines of foxes for docility and aggression, and one of the results was that the tame foxes looked more puppy-ish: smaller, bigger ears, and just generally cuter. The implication was that some of the traits we think of as cute in dogs are probably only considered cute because they indicate domestication.

        My knowledge of this is limited to a PBS documentary I saw ten years ago, but according to the experimenter’s wiki page, the tame male foxes “skulls gradually became narrower, more like those of females…”

    • AlphaGamma says:

      Oddly, the very word “Europe” means “broad-faced” (named after a mythological figure).

  59. peopleneedaplacetogo says:

    Regarding the group-house startup (“HubHaus”), this sounds pretty much identical to the business model pursued by the startup Campus, which failed in 2015 leaving its residents (which IIRC included some members of the rationalist community?) to scramble for housing on short notice. I’m sure it’s been tried many other times but seems to have a lot of difficulty profitably scaling.

  60. Porkman says:

    @Scott Alexander Can we change the “

    This month in “nobody has principles”, USA Today on the implications of Kavanaugh:“

    to

    This month in “nobody has principles”, Conservative Opinion Columnist Glenn Reynolds writes in USA Today on the implications of Kavanaugh:

    This isn’t the editorial board of the publication and it’s important to say who is writing it. For an example of why this is important. Let me do it with another Op ed that was published yesterday.

    USA Today on the implications of Medicare for All:

    “The Democrats’ plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised. By eliminating Medicare as a program for seniors, and outlawing the ability of Americans to enroll in private and employer-based plans, the Democratic plan would inevitably lead to the massive rationing of health care. Doctors and hospitals would be put out of business. Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors. There would be long wait lines for appointments and procedures. Previously covered care would effectively be denied.”

    Now that was actually written in USA Today. By Donald Trump. Which I think we all would agree is crucial information that someone seeing that quote would want to know.

  61. Alsadius says:

    Re music history, I know of at least two local radio shows that do things like this. Both are more about the performers than the techniques, and neither is strictly chronological, but they’re both excellent.

    1) The Ongoing History of New Music, focusing mostly on alt-rock (https://edge.ca/show/the-ongoing-history-of-new-music/)
    2) The Legends of Classic Rock (which seems to have ended and to not to be online, sadly)

    From a more technical perspective, I’ve enjoyed Collective Cadenza on YouTube(https://www.youtube.com/user/collectivecadenza/videos), but they’re short-form, and there aren’t that many of them.

  62. jaychess says:

    I’ve finally taken the plunge and made an account to comment after a few years of lurking.
    Unsure if this has the potential to be fruitful, but I wanted to put an open question to the community.
    I’m in an MA program for Social and Political Thought, with an undergrad in Philosophy. I have to settle on a thesis soon (December), but my thoughts are far too scrambled and big-picture to settle on anything for more than a week. I want ideas for things that will be a) constructive and meaningful contributions worth having been explored, b) capable of holding my attention to write a thesis and c) moving me towards a useful PhD program and not sinking my into a niche that will prevent my continued education. My background is grounded in post-war continental philosophy and post-colonial theory but I’m also versed in economics, logic, complex systems theory, ethics and environmental science.
    Most of my current proposals revolve around:
    -what makes activism work’ with regard to indigenous movements and environmentalism in Canada.
    Other half-hearted proposals include:
    -Freud, Epigenetics and Intergenerational Trauma
    -Computation complexity and planning economies
    -Polycentric Ontologies and Materialism
    -Revisiting Husserl, Logical positivism and psycho-logism
    -Posthumanist vs Transhumanist theoretical realizations

    All very broad and poorly fleshed out, but I’m open to any alternative ideas or interesting framing of these ideas!

    Thanks,
    JC

  63. S_J says:

    Amusing tidbit about FaceBook data and the NYT article on the geography of FaceBook friendship…

    When they split the United States into two geographic sections by social-connectedness, they see Hawaii and the rest of the United States. That, by itself, is a considerable surprise.

    When they split the U.S. into 50 geographic areas, we see most States, but we also see things like a major city in one State attached to some section of a neighboring State. (In my own home state of Michigan, I see that the city of Toledo, OH has drawn a section of Michigan into its social map…but Michigan has drawn Green Bay, WI into its own social map.)

    The maps for 100 (or more) areas of social-connectedness show interesting things, also.

    • Gazeboist says:

      As someone who grew up in NJ, a state that (to be somewhat hyperbolic, but only somewhat) consists of the suburbs of two different out-of-state cities, I can’t say I’m surprised that some cities get pulled into neighboring states. Rivers, after all, are both convenient natural borders and convenient natural highways. The Texas/Mexico border has examples of the same sort of phenomenon in a couple of places, if I understand correctly, although they’re usually more like Kansas City than like New York and its ‘burbs.

      Edit –

      Also, we now have solid evidence that the circuits of the federal Courts of Appeal should be reorganized, although it unfortunately doesn’t show that the 9th circuit is twice the size it should be. Although stare decisis does create a problem where we can only split circuits, and never combine them.

  64. Anthony says:

    Regarding the historical music one, it would be interesting to compare results to this: http://everynoise.com/engenremap.html (Did I first see that here?)