[Trigger warning: Some discussion of rape in Part III. This will make much more sense if you’ve previously read I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup]
One day I woke up and they had politicized Ebola.
I don’t just mean the usual crop of articles like Republicans Are Responsible For The Ebola Crisis and Democrats Try To Deflect Blame For Ebola Outbreak and Incredibly Awful Democrats Try To Blame Ebola On GOP and NPR Reporter Exposes Right Wing Ebola Hype and Republicans Flip-Flop On Ebola Czars. That level of politicization was pretty much what I expected.
(I can’t say I totally expected to see an article called Fat Lesbians Got All The Ebola Dollars, But Blame The GOP, but in retrospect nothing I know about modern society suggested I wouldn’t)
I’m talking about something weirder. Over the past few days, my friends on Facebook have been making impassioned posts about how it’s obvious there should/shouldn’t be a quarantine, but deluded people on the other side are muddying the issue. The issue has risen to an alarmingly high level of 0.05 #Gamergates, which is my current unit of how much people on social media are concerned about a topic. What’s more, everyone supporting the quarantine has been on the right, and everyone opposing on the left. Weird that so many people suddenly develop strong feelings about a complicated epidemiological issue, which can be exactly predicted by their feelings about everything else.
On the Right, there is condemnation of the CDC’s opposition to quarantines as globalist gibberish, fourteen questions that will never be asked about Ebola centering on why there aren’t more quarantine measures in place, and arguments on right-leaning biology blogs for why the people opposing quarantines are dishonest or incompetent. Top Republicans call for travel bans and a presenter on Fox, proportionate as always, demands quarantine centers in every US city.
On the Left (and token libertarian) sides, the New Yorker has been publishing articles on how involuntary quarantines violate civil liberties and “embody class and racial biases”, Reason makes fun of “dumb Republican calls for a travel ban”, Vox has a clickbaity article on how “This One Paragraph Perfectly Sums Up America’s Overreaction To Ebola”, and MSNBC notes that to talk about travel bans is “borderline racism”.
How did this happen? How did both major political tribes decide, within a month of the virus becoming widely known in the States, not only exactly what their position should be but what insults they should call the other tribe for not agreeing with their position? There are a lot of complicated and well-funded programs in West Africa to disseminate information about the symptoms of Ebola in West Africa, and all I can think of right now is that if the Africans could disseminate useful medical information half as quickly as Americans seem to have disseminated tribal-affiliation-related information, the epidemic would be over tomorrow.
Is it just random? A couple of Republicans were coincidentally the first people to support a quarantine, so other Republicans felt they had to stand by them, and then Democrats felt they had to oppose it, and then that spread to wider and wider circles? And if by chance a Democrats had proposed quarantine before a Republican, the situation would have reversed itself? Could be.
Much more interesting is the theory that the fear of disease is the root of all conservativism. I am not making this up. There has been a lot of really good evolutionary psychology done on the extent to which pathogen stress influences political opinions. Some of this is done on the societal level, and finds that societies with higher germ loads are more authoritarian and conservative. This research can be followed arbitrarily far – like, isn’t it interesting that the most liberal societies in the world are the Scandinavian countries in the very far north where disease burden is low, and the most traditionalist-authoritarian ones usually in Africa or somewhere where disease burden is high? One even sees a similar effect within countries, with northern US states being very liberal and southern states being very conservative. Other studies have instead focused on differences between individuals within society – we know that religious conservatives are people with stronger disgust reactions and priming disgust reactions can increase self-reported conservative political beliefs – with most people agreeing disgust reactions are a measure of the “behavioral immune system” triggered by fear of germ contamination.
(free tip for liberal political activists – offering to tidy up voting booths before the election is probably a thousand times more effective than anything you’re doing right now. I will leave the free tip for conservative political activists to your imagination)
If being a conservative means you’re pre-selected for worry about disease, obviously the conservatives are going to be the ones most worried about Ebola. And in fact, along with the quarantine debate, there’s a little sub-debate about whether Ebola is worth panicking about. Vox declares Americans to be “overreacting” and keeps telling them to calm down, whereas its similarly-named evil twin Vox Day has been spending the last week or so spreading panic and suggesting readers “wash your hands, stock up a bit, and avoid any unnecessary travel”.
So that’s the second theory.
The third theory is that everything in politics is mutually reinforcing.
Suppose the Red Tribe has a Grand Narrative. The Narrative is something like “We Americans are right-thinking folks with a perfectly nice culture. But there are also scary foreigners who hate our freedom and wish us ill. Unfortunately, there are also traitors in our ranks – in the form of the Blue Tribe – who in order to signal sophistication support foreigners over Americans and want to undermine our culture. They do this by supporting immigration, accusing anyone who is too pro-American and insufficiently pro-foreigner of “racism”, and demanding everyone conform to “multiculturalism” and “diversity”, as well as lionizing any group within America that tries to subvert the values of the dominant culture. Our goal is to minimize the subversive power of the Blue Tribe at home, then maintain isolation from foreigners abroad, enforced by a strong military if they refuse to stay isolated.”
And the Blue Tribe also has a Grand Narrative. The Narrative is something like “The world is made up of a bunch of different groups and cultures. The wealthier and more privileged groups, played by the Red Tribe, have a history of trying to oppress and harass all the other groups. This oppression is based on ignorance, bigotry, xenophobia, denial of science, and a false facade of patriotism. Our goal is to call out the Red Tribe on its many flaws, and support other groups like foreigners and minorities in their quest for justice and equality, probably in a way that involves lots of NGOs and activists.”
The proposition “a quarantine is the best way to deal with Ebola” seems to fit much better into the Red narrative than the Blue Narrative. It’s about foreigners being scary and dangerous, and a strong coordinated response being necessary to protect right-thinking Americans from them. When people like NBC and the New Yorker accuse quarantine opponents of being “racist”, that just makes the pieces fit in all the better.
The proposition “a quarantine is a bad way to deal with Ebola” seems to fit much better into the Blue narrative than the Red. It’s about extremely poor black foreigners dying, and white Americans rushing to throw them overboard to protect themselves out of ignorance of the science (which says Ebola can’t spread much in the First World), bigotry, xenophobia, and fear. The real solution is a coordinated response by lots of government agencies working in tandem with NGOs and local activists.
It would be really hard to switch these two positions around. If the Republicans were to oppose a quarantine, it might raise the general question of whether closing the borders and being scared of foreign threats is always a good idea, and whether maybe sometimes accusations of racism are making a good point. Far “better” to maintain a consistent position where all your beliefs reinforce all of your other beliefs.
There’s a question of causal structure here. Do Republicans believe certain other things for their own sake, and then adapt their beliefs about Ebola to help buttress their other beliefs? Or do the same factors that made them adopt their narrative in the first place lead them to adopt a similar narrative around Ebola?
My guess it it’s a little of both. And then once there’s a critical mass of anti-quarantiners within a party, in-group cohesion and identification effects cascade towards it being a badge of party membership and everybody having to believe it. And if the Democrats are on the other side, saying things you disagree with about every other issue, and also saying that you have to oppose quarantine or else you’re a bad person, then that also incentivizes you to support a quarantine, just to piss them off.
Sometimes politicization isn’t about what side you take, it’s about what issues you emphasize.
In the last post, I wrote:
Imagine hearing that a liberal talk show host and comedian was so enraged by the actions of ISIS that he’d recorded and posted a video in which he shouts at them for ten minutes, cursing the “fanatical terrorists” and calling them “utter savages” with “savage values”.
If I heard that, I’d be kind of surprised. It doesn’t fit my model of what liberal talk show hosts do.
But the story I’m actually referring to is liberal talk show host / comedian Russell Brand making that same rant against Fox News for supporting war against the Islamic State, adding at the end that “Fox is worse than ISIS”.
That fits my model perfectly. You wouldn’t celebrate Osama’s death, only Thatcher’s. And you wouldn’t call ISIS savages, only Fox News. Fox is the outgroup, ISIS is just some random people off in a desert. You hate the outgroup, you don’t hate random desert people.
I would go further. Not only does Brand not feel much like hating ISIS, he has a strong incentive not to. That incentive is: the Red Tribe is known to hate ISIS loudly and conspicuously. Hating ISIS would signal Red Tribe membership, would be the equivalent of going into Crips territory with a big Bloods gang sign tattooed on your shoulder.
Now I think I missed an important part of the picture. The existence of ISIS plays right into Red Tribe narratives. They are totally scary foreigners who hate our freedom and want to hurt us and probably require a strong military response, so their existence sounds like a point in favor of the Red Tribe. Thus, the Red Tribe wants to talk about them as much as possible and condemn them in the strongest terms they can.
There’s not really any way to spin this issue in favor of the Blue Tribe narrative. The Blue Tribe just has to grudgingly admit that maybe this is one of the few cases where their narrative breaks down. So their incentive is to try to minimize ISIS, to admit it exists and is bad and try to distract the conversation to other issues that support their chosen narrative more. That’s why you’ll never see the Blue Tribe gleefully cheering someone on as they call ISIS “savages”. It wouldn’t fit the script.
But did you hear about that time when a Muslim-American lambasting Islamophobia totally pwned all of those ignorant FOX anchors? Le-GEN-dary!
At worst this choice to emphasize different issues descends into an unhappy combination of tragedy and farce.
The Rotherham scandal was an incident in an English town where criminal gangs had been grooming and blackmailing thousands of young girls, then using them as sex slaves. This had been going on for at least ten years with minimal intervention by the police. An investigation was duly launched, which discovered that the police had been keeping quiet about the problem because the gangs were mostly Pakistani and the victims mostly white, and the police didn’t want to seem racist by cracking down too heavily. Researchers and officials who demanded that the abuse should be publicized or fought more vigorously were ordered to attend “diversity training” to learn why their demands were offensive. The police department couldn’t keep it under wraps forever, and eventually it broke and was a huge scandal.
The Left then proceeded to totally ignore it, and the Right proceeded to never shut up about it for like an entire month, and every article about it had to include the “diversity training” aspect, so that if you type “rotherham d…” into Google, your two first options are “Rotherham Daily Mail” and “Rotherham diversity training”.
I don’t find this surprising at all. The Rotherham incident ties in perfectly to the Red Tribe narrative – scary foreigners trying to hurt us, politically correct traitors trying to prevent us from noticing. It doesn’t do anything for the Blue Tribe narrative, and indeed actively contradicts it at some points. So the Red Tribe wants to trumpet it to the world, and the Blue Tribe wants to stay quiet and distract.
HBD Chick usually writes very well-thought-out articles on race and genetics listing all the excellent reasons you should not marry your cousins. Hers is not a political blog, and I have never seen her get upset about any political issue before, but since most of her posts are about race and genetics she gets a lot of love from the Right and a lot of flak from the Left. She recently broke her silence on politics to write three long and very angry blog posts on the Rotherham issue, of which I will excerpt one:
if you’ve EVER called somebody a racist just because they said something politically incorrect, then you’d better bloody well read this report, because THIS IS ON YOU! this is YOUR doing! this is where your scare tactics have gotten us: over 1400 vulnerable kids systematically abused because YOU feel uncomfortable when anybody brings up some “hate facts.”
this is YOUR fault, politically correct people — and i don’t care if you’re on the left or the right. YOU enabled this abuse thanks to the climate of fear you’ve created. thousands of abused girls — some of them maybe dead — on YOUR head.
I have no doubt that her outrage is genuine. But I do have to wonder why she is outraged about this and not all of the other outrageous things in the world. And I do have to wonder whether the perfect fit between her own problems – trying to blog about race and genetics but getting flak from politically correct people – and the problems that made Rotherham so disastrous – which include police getting flak from politically correct people – are part of her sudden conversion to political activism.
[edit: she objects to this characterization]
But I will also give her this – accidentally stumbling into being upset by the rape of thousands of children is, as far as accidental stumbles go, not a bad one. What’s everyone else’s excuse?
John Durant did an interesting analysis of media coverage of the Rotherham scandal versus the “someone posted nude pictures of Jennifer Lawrence” scandal.
He found left-leaning news website Slate had one story on the Rotherham child exploitation scandal, but four stories on nude Jennifer Lawrence.
He also found that feminist website Jezebel had only one story on the Rotherham child exploitation scandal, but six stories on nude Jennifer Lawrence.
Feministing gave Rotherham a one-sentence mention in a links roundup (just underneath “five hundred years of female portrait painting in three minutes”), but Jennifer Lawrence got two full stories.
The article didn’t talk about social media, and I couldn’t search it directly for Jennifer Lawrence stories because it was too hard to sort out discussion of the scandal from discussion of her as an actress. But using my current unit of social media saturation, Rotherham clocks in at 0.24 #Gamergates
You thought I was joking. I never joke.
This doesn’t surprise me much. Yes, you would think that the systematic rape of thousands of women with police taking no action might be a feminist issue. Or that it might outrage some people on Tumblr, a site which has many flaws but which has never been accused of being slow to outrage. But the goal here isn’t to push some kind of Platonic ideal of what’s important, it’s to support a certain narrative that ties into the Blue Tribe narrative. Rotherham does the opposite of that. The Jennifer Lawrence nudes, which center around how hackers (read: creepy internet nerds) shared nude pictures of a beloved celebrity on Reddit (read: creepy internet nerds) and 4Chan (read: creepy internet nerds) – and #Gamergate which does the same – are exactly the narrative they want to push, so they become the Stories Of The Century.
Here’s something I did find on Tumblr which I think is really interesting.
You can see that after the Ferguson shooting, the average American became a little less likely to believe that blacks were treated equally in the criminal justice system. This makes sense, since the Ferguson shooting was a much-publicized example of the criminal justice system treating a black person unfairly.
But when you break the results down by race, a different picture emerges. White people were actually a little more likely to believe the justice system was fair after the shooting. Why? I mean, if there was no change, you could chalk it up to white people believing the police’s story that the officer involved felt threatened and made a split-second bad decision that had nothing to do with race. That could explain no change just fine. But being more convinced that justice is color-blind? What could explain that?
My guess – before Ferguson, at least a few people interpreted this as an honest question about race and justice. After Ferguson, everyone mutually agreed it was about politics.
Ferguson and Rotherham were both similar in that they were cases of police misconduct involving race. You would think that there might be some police misconduct community who are interested in stories of police misconduct, or some race community interested in stories about race, and these people would discuss both of these two big international news items.
The Venn diagram of sources I saw covering these two stories forms two circles with no overlap. All those conservative news sites that couldn’t shut up about Rotherham? Nothing on Ferguson – unless it was to snipe at the Left for “exploiting” it to make a political point. Otherwise, they did their best to stay quiet about it. Hey! Look over there! ISIS is probably beheading someone really interesting!
The same way Rotherham obviously supports the Red Tribe’s narrative, Ferguson obviously supports the Blue Tribe’s narrative. A white person, in the police force, shooting an innocent (ish) black person, and then a racist system refusing to listen to righteous protests by brave activists.
The “see, the Left is right about everything” angle of most of the coverage made HBD Chick’s attack on political correctness look subtle. The parts about race, systemic inequality, and the police were of debatable proportionality, but what I really liked was the Ferguson coverage started branching off into every issue any member of the Blue Tribe has ever cared about:
Gun control? Check.
The war on terror? Check.
American exceptionalism? Check.
Gay rights? Check.
Palestinian independence? Check.
Global warming? Check. Wait, really? Yes, really.
Anyone who thought that the question in that poll was just a simple honest question about criminal justice was very quickly disabused of that notion. It was a giant Referendum On Everything, a “do you think the Blue Tribe is right on every issue and the Red Tribe is terrible and stupid, or vice versa?” And it turns out many people who when asked about criminal justice will just give the obvious answer, have much stronger and less predictable feelings about Giant Referenda On Everything.
In my last post, I wrote about how people feel when their in-group is threatened, even when it’s threatened with an apparently innocuous point they totally agree with:
I imagine [it] might feel like some liberal US Muslim leader, when he goes on the O’Reilly Show, and O’Reilly ambushes him and demands to know why he and other American Muslims haven’t condemned beheadings by ISIS more, demands that he criticize them right there on live TV. And you can see the wheels in the Muslim leader’s head turning, thinking something like “Okay, obviously beheadings are terrible and I hate them as much as anyone. But you don’t care even the slightest bit about the victims of beheadings. You’re just looking for a way to score points against me so you can embarass all Muslims. And I would rather personally behead every single person in the world than give a smug bigot like you a single microgram more stupid self-satisfaction than you’ve already got.”
I think most people, when they think about it, probably believe that the US criminal justice system is biased. But when you feel under attack by people whom you suspect have dishonest intentions of twisting your words so they can use them to dehumanize your in-group, eventually you think “I would rather personally launch unjust prosecutions against every single minority in the world than give a smug out-group member like you a single microgram more stupid self-satisfaction than you’ve already got.”
Wait, so you mean turning all the most important topics in our society into wedge issues that we use to insult and abuse people we don’t like, to the point where even mentioning it triggers them and makes them super defensive, might have been a bad idea??!
There’s been some really neat research into people who don’t believe in global warming. The original suspicion, at least from certain quarters, were that they were just dumb. Then someone checked and found that warming disbelievers actually had (very slightly) higher levels of scientific literacy than warming believers.
So people had to do actual studies, and to what should have been no one’s surprise, the most important factor was partisan affiliation. For example, according to Pew 64% of Democrats believe the Earth is getting warmer due to human activity, compared to 9% of Tea Party Republicans.
So assuming you want to convince Republicans to start believing in global warming before we’re all frying eggs on the sidewalk, how should you go about it? This is the excellent question asked by a study recently profiled in an NYMag article.
The study found that you could be a little more convincing to conservatives by acting on the purity/disgust axis of moral foundations theory – the one that probably gets people so worried about Ebola. A warmer climate is unnatural, in the same way that, oh, let’s say, homosexuality is unnatural. Carbon dioxide contaminating our previously pure atmosphere, in the same way premarital sex or drug use contaminates your previously pure body. It sort of worked.
Another thing that sort of worked was tying things into the Red Tribe narrative, which they did through the two sentences “Being pro-environmental allows us to protect and preserve the American way of life. It is patriotic to conserve the country’s natural resources.” I can’t imagine anyone falling for this, but I guess some people did.
This is cute, but it’s too little too late. Global warming has already gotten inextricably tied up in the Blue Tribe narrative: Global warming proves that unrestrained capitalism is destroying the planet. Global warming disproportionately affects poor countries and minorities. Global warming could have been prevented with multilateral action, but we were too dumb to participate because of stupid American cowboy diplomacy. Global warming is an important cause that activists and NGOs should be lauded for highlighting. Global warming shows that Republicans are science denialists and probably all creationists. Two lousy sentences on “patriotism” aren’t going to break through that.
If I were in charge of convincing the Red Tribe to line up behind fighting global warming, here’s what I’d say:
In the 1950s, brave American scientists shunned by the climate establishment of the day discovered that the Earth was warming as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, leading to potentially devastating natural disasters that could destroy American agriculture and flood American cities. As a result, the country mobilized against the threat. Strong government action by the Bush administration outlawed the worst of these gases, and brilliant entrepreneurs were able to discover and manufacture new cleaner energy sources. As a result of these brave decisions, our emissions stabilized and are currently declining.
Unfortunately, even as we do our part, the authoritarian governments of Russia and China continue to industralize and militarize rapidly as part of their bid to challenge American supremacy. As a result, Communist China is now by far the world’s largest greenhouse gas producer, with the Russians close behind. Many analysts believe Putin secretly welcomes global warming as a way to gain access to frozen Siberian resources and weaken the more temperate United States at the same time. These countries blow off huge disgusting globs of toxic gas, which effortlessly cross American borders and disrupt the climate of the United States. Although we have asked them to stop several times, they refuse, perhaps egged on by major oil producers like Iran and Venezuela who have the most to gain by keeping the world dependent on the fossil fuels they produce and sell to prop up their dictatorships.
A giant poster of Mao looks approvingly at all the CO2 being produced…for Communism.
We need to take immediate action. While we cannot rule out the threat of military force, we should start by using our diplomatic muscle to push for firm action at top-level summits like the Kyoto Protocol. Second, we should fight back against the liberals who are trying to hold up this important work, from big government bureaucrats trying to regulate clean energy to celebrities accusing people who believe in global warming of being ‘racist’. Third, we need to continue working with American industries to set an example for the world by decreasing our own emissions in order to protect ourselves and our allies. Finally, we need to punish people and institutions who, instead of cleaning up their own carbon, try to parasitize off the rest of us and expect the federal government to do it for them.
Please join our brave men and women in uniform in pushing for an end to climate change now.
If this were the narrative conservatives were seeing on TV and in the papers, I think we’d have action on the climate pretty quickly. I mean, that action might be nuking China. But it would be action.
And yes, there’s a sense in which that narrative is dishonest, or at least has really weird emphases. But our current narrative also has really some weird emphases. And for much the same reasons.
The Red Tribe and Blue Tribe have different narratives, which they use to tie together everything that happens into reasons why their tribe is good and the other tribe is bad.
Sometimes this results in them seizing upon different sides of an apparently nonpolitical issue when these support their narrative; for example, Republicans generally supporting a quarantine against Ebola, Democrats generally opposing it. Other times it results in a side trying to gain publicity for stories that support their narrative while sinking their opponents’ preferred stories – Rotherham for some Reds; Ferguson for some Blues.
When an issue gets tied into a political narrative, it stops being about itself and starts being about the wider conflict between tribes until eventually it becomes viewed as a Referendum On Everything. At this point, people who are clued in start suspecting nobody cares about the issue itself – like victims of beheadings, or victims of sexual abuse – and everybody cares about the issue’s potential as a political weapon – like proving Muslims are “uncivilized”, or proving political correctness is dangerous. After that, even people who agree that the issue is a problem and who would otherwise want to take action have to stay quiet, because they know that their help would be used less to solve a problem than to push forward the war effort against them. If they feel especially threatened, they may even take an unexpected side on the issue, switching from what they would usually believe to whichever position seems less like a transparent cover for attempts to attack them and their friends.
And then you end up doing silly things like saying ISIS is not as bad as Fox News, or donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the officer who shot Michael Brown.
This can sort of be prevented by not turning everything into a referendum on how great your tribe is and how stupid the opposing tribe is, or by trying to frame an issue in a way that respects or appeals to an out-group’s narrative.
Let me give an example. I find a lot of online feminism very triggering, because it seems to me to have nothing to do with women and be transparently about marginalizing nerdy men as creeps who are not really human (see: nude pictures vs. Rotherham, above). This means that even when I support and agree with feminists and want to help them, I am constantly trying to drag my brain out of panic mode that their seemingly valuable projects are just deep cover for attempts to hurt me (see: hypothetical Bill O’Reilly demanding Muslims condemn the “Islamic” practice of beheading people).
I have recently met some other feminists who instead use a narrative which views “nerds” as an “alternative gender performance”, ie in the case of men they reject the usual masculine pursuits of sports and fraternities and they have characteristics that violate normative beauty standards (like “no neckbeards”). Thus, people trying to attack nerds is a subcategory of “people trying to enforce gender performance”, and nerds should join with queer people, women, and other people who have an interest in promoting tolerance of alternative gender performances in order to fight for their mutual right to be left alone and accepted.
I’m not sure I entirely buy this argument, but it doesn’t trigger me, and it’s the sort of thing I could buy, and if all my friends started saying it I’d probably be roped into agreeing by social pressure alone.
But this is as rare as, well, anti-global warming arguments aimed at making Republicans feel comfortable and nonthreatened.
I blame the media, I really do. Remember, from within a system no one necessarily has an incentive to do what the system as a whole is supposed to do. Daily Kos or someone has a little label saying “supports liberal ideas”, but actually their incentive is to make liberals want to click on their pages and ads. If the quickest way to do that is by writing story after satisfying story of how dumb Republicans are, and what wonderful taste they have for being members of the Blue Tribe instead of evil mutants, then they’ll do that even if the effect on the entire system is to make Republicans hate them and by extension everything they stand for.
I don’t know how to fix this.
I’d probably fall under ‘Gray Tribe’, because all I can think of when I hear Red/Blue trot out their narrative is that I wish they would all shut up because they’re just a bunch of idiots spewing out nonsense on subjects they don’t even understand – even worse is when they’re right and they can’t defend it properly, or wont (i.e. Reds say capitalism is egalitarian, Blue says 3rd world sucks because of capitalism, and I’m looking for a way to euthenize 90% of the population as my ‘position’). I’ve always been a contrarian and iconoclast, but I loathe the boring and feminized culture of ‘Blue’ despite their superficial rationality; and I find Red much more logical, if hilariously deluded as to the transcendent value of their memes. Anyway, all of this stuff leaves me cold, it does not inspire me to take sides, it inspires me to misanthropy.
I am glad people are starting to peg Reason as a leftist-Progressive mag, they certainly are. Their overlap with the libertarians is like 80% repackaged liberalism and 20% “Grey Tribe” libertarianish types. Never will you find there hardcore reactionaries or Nietzscheans, even if they are hardcore anti-state radicals who think everyone but the cops should have guns. I don’t have much to say about the rest of it, because I wish most voters in this country need some Ebola to thin the herd a bit. Who knows, the disease scare might kick some balls into the Yewessay.
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What a delightfully intelligent essay. I just found you, and this made me decide to read everything else you are going to write, so please keep it up.
That’s it, really, I’ve nothing topical to add.
At the end of the above piece, Scott notes “I don’t know how to fix this”
The following piece (and many of the author’s other works) may be part of the solution. Peter Sandman is a risk communication consultant. Below is a link to his advice about how public health officials should handle members of the public who have beliefs about Ebola that are well outside the mainstream. His advice is generalizable to the problem of increasing empathy (and sympathy) between ideological opponents so that substantive communication can occur.
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Republicans push forced quarantines but I want a voluntary one, a cheap subsidized hotel at international airports where people may want to stay or who have friends of family who wants them to. If someone misses a flight because of a fever that isn’t Ebola they might not mind it if their was no additional cost to them to get a later flight. A danger to the US will come when someone desperately needs to hide a fever or to not reveal who they were with for the past three weeks. As long as a few people are getting infected the US will continue one tier rapid response Ebola care, and maybe no one will die unless Ebola becomes one more complication for a very sick individual.
But Pakistan is another matter I am glad the Pakistani peace keepers back from the Congo are getting a three week quarantine, a one in a million chance of being sick matched by the millions who would die if Ebola got out of hand there. Check out, Ebola Pakistan, Something Actually Worth Panicking About
“When people like NBC and the New Yorker accuse quarantine opponents of being “racist”, that just makes the pieces fit in all the better.”
opponents or proponents?
P.S. New here. Interesting blog. Looking forward to reading more.
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Hey guys. Anyone from Brazil here?
So, I’m Brazilian, and we just had last sunday the final round of our presidential election.
We had two candidates to choose, Dilma and Aecio, and thanks to that I’ve seen everyone around me splitting up in the equivalent two “tribes”.
Dilma from the PT party would be closer to the overall image of the Democrats, but her party color is Red.
Aecio from the PSDB party would be the Republicans in this analogy, except his party color is blue.
Dilma won, but with a very slim margin, something close to 51%-49%.
If you look to images about who won in each state you can clearly see that the country seems very divided. Here’s such an image, with a bonus showing who won in the 2010 election:
(note: in Brazil there is no electoral college, only the popular vote counts)
Anyway, after experiencing this, I cannot help but think Brazil is becoming more and more like the USA in its politics. We have multiple political parties, but only 2 (PT and PSDB) ever get to the final round for the presidency. And as far as political tribalism is concerned, pretty much everyone already has picked a side for life: businessmen will always vote PSDB, teachers always vote PT, the poorer north is PT, the richer south is PSDB.
Then again, these “tribes” tend to disperse by the end of the election year (for the next 1-2 months they will still be fighting each other online), and then people go back to their “other tribes”, be they Red Blue or Grey.
And even though I consider myself closer to what you called the “Blue” Tribe in my values, I interact daily with people from the “Red” tribe too, so I don’t feel they live in the dark matter world in my case.
BTW – Scott, you might feel like doing a bit of research on the brazilian program “Bolsa Familia” (“Family Purse”). It is the closest Brazilian version of a “Minimum Income Guarantee”, and a very divisional topic in Brazilian politics. Dilma voters love it, Aecio voters hate it, but if a politician says he wants to end this program he’s commiting political suicide.
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Wow. I think I love you, my man. As a old-school liberal who over the last year or so has realized that there is actually no place for my views – which I hope have some nuance to them, and don’t involve demonizing half the population because they haven’t come around on gay marriage – your blog is a burst of light. I’ve only read this post and “I Can Tolerate Anything But the Outgroup” so far, but you are clearly a powerful and well-organized thinker. Thank you.
So what do we do? The stridency on the right has stopped bothering me – they’re out of power, and I’m not involved too much with them anyway – but how do we move left-leaning people away from the insanity I see in The Atlantic and The New Republic, two magazines I used to enjoy? Spend an hour in those comment sections and you’ll weep for the future.
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The above is a link to the science and medicine of Ebola.
Skin in the game.
On Ebola, and the other topics, can the response devolve into standard partisanship only when the stakes are small? I wonder how politicians’ stances might change if there were 100 Ebola cases in the US with a likelihood of going to 1000 cases. My guess is that the posturing would disappear.
As to how to fix things, here is an interesting study showing how small payments can change the dynamite dramatically.
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“If the latter claim were a mere assertion, the two claims would be logically equivalent. But there are in fact good reasons to think that God is eternal, uncaused, unchanged, etc. Thus, it is not arbitrary to say that God is different from everything temporal, caused, and changeable. ”
Than your entire point about how the argument isn’t “everything has a cause except god” is a massive red herring as that is, in fact, your argument. And it boils down to “god is different because God is different”.
“Okay, so Marxists made bad arguments, so argument is never any better than assertion? ”
My point is “argued for” is the same as assertion in the absence of evidence.
“Indeed they don’t. E.g., when you claim below that “Sophistication of arguments is irrelevant, only the level of support from evidence matters,” are you justifying that assertion with arguments, or evidence? Because if it’s with an argument, then sophistication would be nice. If it’s with evidence then you’re using your conclusion as evidence for your premise.”
I’m using evidence to support that claim. Historically things that have been supported by stronger evidence have been more likely to be correct than things that were not.
The inputs and outputs are not the same. Individual pieces of evidence are the input, and the concept of evidence is the output. It is a similar argument to “steve always shows up on time, therefore steve is reliable and so will show up on time in the future”.
“Anyway, which conclusion do you allege is being used as evidence for which premise in, e.g., the Summa Contra Gentiles?”
The specialness of God is an input and output of the argument. God has to be special in order to not have to be caused, but at the same time the argument discovers that god is special because there has to be something that isn’t uncaused.
“The “universe as a whole” is irrelevant. Aquinas’ argument is grounded in concepts like actuality and potentiality *within* the realm of everyday objects.”
The universe as a whole is entirely relevant. Using everyday objects to generalize to the behavior of the universe itself is like declaring that since everything in a box is made out of metal, the box itself must also be metal.
“The Spitzer book to which I cited above argues that all inflationary cosmologies (e.g., Borde-Vilenkin-Guth) and string cosmologies (e.g., Steinhardt-Turok cyclic ekpyrosis, Gasperini-Veneziano multiverses) “must have a beginning.” Is that assertion wrong? How?”
All universes have a finite amount of time. However time is a property of the universes themselves, not the system as a whole. We don’t know how the system works because we can’t examine it so we have no data (with the exception of the universes existence and properties).
“Souls aren’t made of anything at all. They are formal essences. Souls are no more “made of stuff” than the number 2 (which is also formal) is made of stuff. No ectoplasm or ghost in the machine is being posited. (You may wish to assert, wrongly (and less wrongly!), that the number 2 is just a generalization of an operation like putting two pebbles in a bucket to count sheep.)”
We know the brain has correlation to functions by area. If you accept souls interact with the brain than certain parts of the soul are attached to certain areas of the brain. Different attachments means the soul is differentiated.
“To say that souls have to have similar rules to material objects is to beg the question against immaterial souls. It’s like an undersea fish who doesn’t believe in the surface saying that flight must work exactly like swimming, and that if air isn’t buoyant like water then the whole theory of “flight” must be incoherent. ”
I’m not understanding the objection. Sure the fish is wrong, but most theories of flight proposed by fish would be wrong so it isn’t wrong to refuse to accept the theories in the absence of evidence.
As is we have no reason to believe souls are only made of one thing and all previous experience shows that complex things have more than one part. Given that souls are supposed to correspond with physical objects (human minds) it is most reasonable to presume they are similar in structure.
“Like multiverses and atheism?”
The universe exists. Poisting multiple versions of it isn’t an epicycle. It is like poisting additional planets as the explanation for gravitational anomalies- sometimes it is accurate (Neptune) and other times it isn’t (Vulcan- it was supposed to be inside the orbit of Mercury). The important thing is that it is testable- once we figure out how the universe began, we can figure out if the process if duplicable.
“They’re done through the body, not by the body alone. Soul and body together get us qualia; body alone gets us p-zombies.”
So in other words external behavior has no change at all? It has no predictions that are different than the materialist one?
“Empirical evidence concerns measurements of matter. Souls are immaterial. ”
Once they interact with material objects their effects are material. For example, if you are able to make a person a p-zombie. We can get pretty close with “split brains”.
“Please read the Ross paper: our ability to distinguish between the operator “plus” and the Kripkean operator “quus” (and other such Quinean indeterminacies) requires immaterial intentionality.”
Quinean indeterminacies appears to be “there are multiple different ways of translating a language”. This doesn’t require immateriality; it just means that human experience allows us to judge which items most closely correspond to human experience. I’m pretty sure that people’s ability to carry this out drops significantly if it leaves their area of competence- that is the reason that jargon is so hard to get through.
“You’re missing the point; it’s not freedom of worship. Can Catholic Charities of Massachusetts refuse to place orphans with gay couples?”
Freedom of worship doesn’t include “freedom of running charities”. The two are separate.
“Can Gordon College require its students to refrain from all sexual behavior other than straight marital sex? ”
If they don’t take money from the federal government in any form than yes (this came up with segregation; money includes student loans but if you don’t accept that you are good).
“Can evangelical bakers refuse to make cakes for gay weddings?”
Sure. Owners have the right to refuse service to customers in certain fields. They can’t refuse to sell to gays but they can refuse to make custom cakes.
“It’s not about whether civil SSM will be granted; that battle is over. It’s about whether civil SSM can coexist with tolerance for anti-SSM Christians, or whether gays are going to be sore winners and refuse to tolerate Christian “diversity” on this issue.”
We already had this battle in the civil rights era. Certain forms of discrimination were determined to be illegal and since our legal system works on precedent this will be applied to homosexuality as well. Unless you are objecting to foundation of our legal system, I’m not seeing where you could have compromises.
“A Thomist natural law argument always beings from all humans, qua rational animals, having the same telos. Ad hoc reasoning without that context is, to this Thomist, bad natural lawyering.”
Except the Jews did not have the same telos- the whole “God’s chosen people to stand as an example to the world” is explicitly a different purpose than the rest of mankind. Having Christ be at a specific time and place gives different teloses to different groups of believers; it was the job of the Spanish to carry the word of God to China, not the other way around.
“You seem to be using “one-sided” to mean “one side is right.” And you seem committed to that. Okay.”
I’m not using it to mean “one side is right”. I’m using it to mean “one side has arguments that are logically sound”. The arguments that are applied to nukes and GMOs could be applied even better to the alternatives which means the arguments are pointless- it is a bit like claiming “crops take up land that could be used for something else” is an argument against GMOs.
“Transhumanism, both historically and in recent times (as opposed to in your own idiosyncratic usage), has included advocacy for both germline (gene pool) and somatic (individual) biomodificaton. ”
I never said transhumanism didn’t include germline modification. I said the point of transhumanism was the modification of individuals, not the modification of mankind’s gene pool. Transhumanism is an individual based political movement; eugenics was a socially based one.
Thinking they are the same because they both deal with genes is a bit like comparing Nazis to doctors because they both disapproved of smoking.
“If you’re thinking of technocrats who think the solution to issues is expertise and reason, you’re also thinking of blues like Herbert Croly, aren’t you?”
There have been red technocrats as well. The distinct factor for greys is that solving the problem in itself is the goal, not fairness, justice or some abstract benefit for mankind. The greys hold having the correct answer and rationalism as something valuable above all else.
Reds wanted to use eugenics to eliminate deviants, blues wanted to improve the moral nature of humanity and greys are the ones who thought putting tattoos on people to prevent individuals with recessive genes from mating or making a department to manage human breeding were good ideas.
“More definitional disputes, I guess. Progressives were in favor of some of those things, and rural traditionalists against them. But today’s blues and reds have ideological ancestry on both sides of the politics of those days. Anyway, I don’t think this definitional dispute is going anywhere, either. Cheers.”
I’m not seeing how it is definitional disputes. Progressives were blue and populists were red. The platforms have changed over time which is why you can’t really claim individuals with odd platforms are violet.
Violets honestly look like red academia- they are interested in theology and advocate more ideologically consistent policies (in this case ones consistent with Catholicism).
I don’t know what you mean by “universe,” but not all models of cosmology have a finite amount of time, let alone a beginning. Most cosmologies continue forever. The Steady State theory had neither a beginning nor end. I don’t know about the three Irenist mentioned, but I doubt any of them has a beginning.
I’m talking about multiverse cosmologies. IIRC, steady state was overturned by Big Bang cosmology? Is steady state still a thing?
Yes, Steady State is overthrown empirically. It is a counterexample to sweeping theoretical claims.
I’m pretty sure that the
threetwo theories you mentioned don’t have beginnings. But this is a simple matter of looking up what the theories say. Spitzer should not be “arguing” about whether specific theories have beginning. That is a serious category error.
Indeed, Borde-Guth-Vilenkin isn’t a cosmology at all.
I don’t think Spitzer is “arguing” that’s what the theories say. I think he’s informing the reader that that’s what they say, and then plugging that into his philosophical argument. He’s not trying to do physics by writing a philosophy book.
“Argue” was your word, not mine.
Universe is the thing we are inside that “started” with the Big Bang (or at least that is as far back as we can measure). I can’t really define it well since we don’t know if there is actually anything else in existence, much less if that other stuff is reachable.
I should be more exact. By finite I meant has a start; the universe might exist forever but we are worried about it being bounded at one end. Of course the universe might be expanding and collapsing for eternity or be caught in a closed time loop, but I’m honestly not up to date enough to know if those are options.
@Samuel Skinner: IOU a reply tomorrow. Thanks for another interesting read.
Well, yeah, that is my argument. My point was that my argument is not “everything has a cause,” (which is a common caricature of the First Cause Argument), but rather, exactly as you put it, “everything has a cause except God” and that there are reasons, not just assertions, why God is uncaused.
I’m going to respond to an uncharitable and then a charitable reading of what you’re saying here.
Uncharitable reading: “Aquinas’ argument starts from God, and then outputs God. That’s obviously fallacious.”
Response: No, Aquinas’ argument starts from the existence of any process of change to any object you care to name, and then carefully deduces what would have to hold, in any possible world, for the very existence of a contingent (changeable) thing to be possible. He doesn’t start with “Premise 1: God exists,” and then affirm God’s existence as his conclusion later on!
Charitable reading: Look at the discussion in the Sequences of how you can’t determine hemlock will kill Socrates just by defining him as mortal. We only learn about the world through evidence. No matter how complicated your argument, if its only inputs are words or mathematical operators, then it’s an entirely analytical, a priori argument—you’re not generating new knowledge. You’re just defining your terms such that your conclusion is somehow contained in your terms. You’re hiding inferences from yourself. Boil the inferences down, and Aquinas’ whole theology amounts to defining wood as phlogiston + ash, and then very carefully deducing that wood has phlogiston in it. There’s no connection to reality.
Response: That’s a very strong argument. Although far less technical, it’s pretty much Kant’s argument against the possibility of metaphysical proof of God, souls, etc. Thomist attempts to refute Kant on this point tend to be voluminous discussions of subtle ways the Thomist takes Kant to have misunderstood Being. If that’s your point, though, I’ll concede; I’m not going to attempt to refute Kant in a blog comment.
But I would like to know if the Kantian point is the one you’re making. As you said, we can create mathematical formalisms that don’t apply to physical reality. We can also make arithmetic errors. What I’m calling the “Kantian point” is the contention that no matter how logically pristine, any metaphysical formalism can never hook up with reality, so we can never know if it’s true or not. If that’s what you’re contending—that Aquinas’ argument may be formally correct, but doesn’t hook up with reality, then I’ll leave you and Kant in peace. If what you’re contending is instead, or also, that Aquinas’ argument commits a logical solecism, a kind of “arithmetic error” rather than just consisting of a properly manipulated “math” that we don’t know how to test the applicability of, then I think you’re being unfair to Aquinas. But I think the Kantian point is the stronger one for you and the deadlier one for me—Aquinas could make no mistakes in his argument and still fail, if Kant is right.
If the Kantian point is the one you’re making, then it bears noting that Kant thought the problem with such arguments is that we cannot get outside our own heads (no matter how rationalist and aware of our biases we are) to get at unmediated reality. That has dire implications for metaphysics, obviously, but it also has implications for what kind of veracity you can claim for scientific experiment—the results of which we discover phenomenally. Here’s a Feser excerpt on scientism that speaks to this:
Now, there’s are a lot of ways for philosophy of science to handle these issue. E.g., you can have a deflationary definition of causality as just “observed regularities” that have so far proven predictable and leave it at that: in that case, you’re not claiming to know that photons “cause” us to see, but rather to have noticed that we tend to see stuff when there’s light, and we don’t, as of yet, have any reason to think that the correlation is going to disappear ever. There are other ways, too. But all of them leave you with a more skeptical sense of whether you’re getting at noumenal “reality,” and all of them involve at least some analytic philosophy—the problem is a problem of thought, not one amenable to “evidence” from a microscope or something. You can think for a lifetime about these problems and end up with a very respectable atheist anti-metaphysics and a very respectable deflationary account of causality. But one ought to do the work; you can’t just say that “evidence” disproves the very possibility of metaphysics, or of robust causality.
He’s making a metaphysical argument about being and change in the most general humanly conceivable senses. He’s not doing cosmology. He’s asking “what must logically be the case for change of any kind to be possible from one kind of being to another?” We could live in some parallel universe with totally different physical laws, and it wouldn’t affect that question. It’s not a physical question about how the cosmos empirically is. It’s a metaphysical question about how any conceivable cosmos must logically be. That’s why the Kantian objection is so telling—if Aquinas’ argument succeeds, is Aquinas discovering how any real cosmos must be, or how any cosmos must be for our monkey brains to be able to think about it coherently? In other words, is Aquinas proving that if change occurs, then there must be a God, or is Aquinas proving (if he’s lucky) that we can’t coherently think about change without smuggling in inferences about God? If Aquinas’ argument succeeds, is he discovering a property of the world, or of our evolved minds? That to me is where the debate lies: are synthetic a priori judgments possible (Kant says yes, you appear to say no), and if so, are we capable of making synthetic a priori judgments about metaphysical questions like God and souls? To the latter, Kant says no, which is an attack on the possibility of Aquinas’ project at a different level than I take yours to be, but one that works out to the same failure for Aquinas.
It’s not about time, exactly. IIRC, Spitzer’s book claims that when you work through the math on the theories mentioned, any possibility of multiverses they contain is of a finite number of multiverses, each of which began a finite time ago (or is time-bounded on one end, or however a more physics-literate person than I would put it). So even if there were multiverses “before” the Big Bang (although, as you point out, “before” is the wrong word here, because time is within universes, not among them), there isn’t an infinite regress of them. So say there’s 5 universes, or 5369 universes, or a googleplex of universes, or whatever, in the causal chain leading up to the Big Bang. There’s still a beginning to that chain, because the chain is (or so Spitzer claims) mathematically demonstrably finite. Then Spitzer pulls out “everything that begins to exist must be caused either by something that began to exist sooner, or by something that exists eternally,” claims that the first universe in the causal chain can’t have been caused by an earlier universe, so it must be caused by something eternal, so goddidit. Now, I don’t love this argument. Nor am I remotely competent to know if he’s presented the physics accurately. But—if Spitzer is right about the physics, then the multiverse objection to cosmological arguments for God (i.e., that there are infinite multiverses, or that the Big Bang was “preceded” by another universe that’s not time-bounded in a pastward direction, or whatever) is ruled out. That still leaves a need to flesh out the “goddidit” part (which is where an argument like Aquinas’ might come in), but it’s not an unimportant point, if it’s true.
They don’t interact; they’re the structure. Sphericity is the form of a ball. But sphericity isn’t “attached” to any part of the rubber in a ball, and doesn’t “interact” with it. Duality is the formal structure of a set of two pebbles. But duality/the number 2 isn’t “attached” to the pebbles, and doesn’t “interact” with them. Spherical form “constitutes” the rubber ball as a sphere. Duality “structures” the set of two pebbles. The soul is the formal structure that makes a bunch of carbon and water and whatnot a rational animal, and not a puddle of chemicals. The soul “gives life” in the sense that those chemicals organized into a functional animal are alive, whereas those chemicals in a puddle are just sitting there. The Sequences talk about what it’s like to view an algorithm from the inside. The soul idea is (very, very broadly speaking) similar to that: human consciousness is what it’s like to be mathematically, formally structured matter—from the inside. The soul amounts to the suggestion that intentionality is at the core of human consciousness, so that to be a mind is more akin to being the number 2 from the inside than it would be to being pure, unstructured matter from the inside. (Of course, there is no matter without mathematical structure—form can exist without matter, but prime matter is a solely theoretical idea.)
The universe displays mathematical regularity. That suggests that there is something important about the formal.
Nope. That’s why the Kantian objection is the key one. If armchair metaphysics tells us something about the world, then I don’t need a testable prediction. If it doesn’t, then I’m wrong.
As above. Sphericity is a form. It doesn’t “interact” with rubber to make a ball.
Try reading the Ross paper. The argument is not about that. The paper is short. The upshot is that it is always indeterminate whether any material object (say a calculator display) instantiates one meaning or another for us. Ross goes on to say that this indeterminacy of material objects inheres in neurons, too. He then argues that, since logic itself presupposes precisely formal operations like modus ponens, we cannot consistently uphold reason without conceptualizing the mind as immaterial. Summed up like that, it sounds ridiculously implausible. Hence my request to read the paper, instead of just taking it from me. BTW: Eliminativist reductionist atheists like Alex Rosenberg and the Churchlands make much the same point–that intentionality cannot inhere in matter like neurons–but argue that intentionality is illusory, rather than that the mind is immaterial. Ross’ point as far as that goes is that you can’t abandon intentionality (i.e., aboutness) and then expect to make an argument “about” it being an illusion. It’s self-refuting
I said that. I said it was about the latter, not the former.
The objection would be to extending the precedent “no discrimination based on race” to “no discrimination based on sexual behavior.” Homosexuality appears innate, so in that sense it’s like race. However, it’s not being born gay that traditionalists object to, but acting on that orientation sexually. So it’s about behavior. We already have a legal regime where you can discriminate based on behaviors like choosing not to wear shoes (“no shirt, no shoes, no service”). So while I predict that the precedent will be extended, it’s not obvious. Further, given how marginalized racists are nowadays, anti-SSM folks understandably do not want to be subject to the same legal treatment.
On a Thomist account, every human has the same telos—union with God. You’re talking about something like vocations, calls, or missions, perhaps. A telos is something universal to all creatures with the same essence, in this context—all humans, i.e., all rational animals, have the same telos. Reasoning like “westlandians have this telos, and northlandians have another” would require one of the ethnicities in question not to be human—not to be a rational animal. That’s why the conservative Catholic Dominicans like Bartolome de las Casas at the Valladolid Debate disapproved of the newfangled (in their century) institution of African and Indian slavery—they argued that the institution was tantamount to denying the humanity of the enslaved. It’s analogous to how conservative Catholic natural lawyers today complain that abortion amounts to denying the humanity of the unborn. Rational animals are not to be treated the way slavery and abortion treat their victims; being enslaved or killed thwarts achievement of contemplative union with God. (In case you’re wondering, this is one area where the Catholic sense of where the natural law arguments go is different than the Aristotelian—Aristotle endorsed slavery.)
All fair points.
I wondered that myself before I proposed the tribe—am I just talking about Red intellectuals here? It’s a reasonable question, but on reflection I don’t think so. There are a lot of “seamless garment Catholic” homeschooling moms, e.g., that aren’t academics at all, but share many of the same Violet politics, beliefs, and sensibilities. But for some purposes, depending on what the “tribes” model is to be used for, I suppose lumping Violets with Reds (or Blues with Grays) could be entirely serviceable—sometimes you want to model something down to the quarks, sometimes you want to approximate to the proverbial spherical cow. Depends on what you’re working on.
“Well, yeah, that is my argument. My point was that my argument is not “everything has a cause,” (which is a common caricature of the First Cause Argument), but rather, exactly as you put it, “everything has a cause except God” and that there are reasons, not just assertions, why God is uncaused.”
No, there aren’t. God is declared to be uncaused because God is uncaused. The entire point of the objection is that if job can be declared to be uncaused by fiat, so can the universe.
“No, Aquinas’ argument starts from the existence of any process of change to any object you care to name, and then carefully deduces what would have to hold, in any possible world, for the very existence of a contingent (changeable) thing to be possible. He doesn’t start with “Premise 1: God exists,” and then affirm God’s existence as his conclusion later on!”
You just missed God being smuggled in. “He is deducing that everything” … what, you missed it? Okay lets put what he is really saying-
-Everything (except God) follows these rules. Since we need something that doesn’t follow these rules only God fits the bill.
He is inserting a bunch more steps to separate things out, but that is really what it boils down to. At which point “why can’t the universe as a whole fill the same role” is a perfectly reasonable question.
I’m going to ignore the charitable interpretation because Aquinas point “things that have a beginning have things that cause that beginning” is in fact true of everything we see. I just don’t believe we can generalize that to the universe as a whole or things “before” the universe and we have good reason to believe they don’t.
“But one ought to do the work; you can’t just say that “evidence” disproves the very possibility of metaphysics, or of robust causality.”
No, you don’t need to do any of the work. The keyboard reliably puts up little black letters on the screen. We see things that confirm causality and empiricism every second of every day.
“He’s making a metaphysical argument about being and change in the most general humanly conceivable senses. He’s not doing cosmology.”
Talking about the origins of the universe isn’t cosmology?
“We could live in some parallel universe with totally different physical laws, and it wouldn’t affect that question.”
Sure it would. If we lived in a universe where things could occur without causes like say quantum fluctuations in the vacuum, that would be entirely different than a universe where everything had to have causes.
“So say there’s 5 universes, or 5369 universes, or a googleplex of universes, or whatever, in the causal chain leading up to the Big Bang. ”
There isn’t. There is no time outside the universe and there is no interactions between the universes so you have no way of declaring that other universes are before or after our own universe. There is nothing stopping all other universes from being both “before” and “after” our own.
“They don’t interact; they’re the structure. ”
No, the structure of the brain is neurons.
“But sphericity isn’t “attached” to any part of the rubber in a ball, and doesn’t “interact” with it. Duality is the formal structure of a set of two pebbles. But duality/the number 2 isn’t “attached” to the pebbles, and doesn’t “interact” with them. Spherical form “constitutes” the rubber ball as a sphere. Duality “structures” the set of two pebbles. ”
Those are both descriptions, not additional items layered on top of the objects.
” The soul is the formal structure that makes a bunch of carbon and water and whatnot a rational animal, and not a puddle of chemicals. The soul “gives life” in the sense that those chemicals organized into a functional animal are alive, whereas those chemicals in a puddle are just sitting there. ”
That is vitalism, not souls.
” The universe displays mathematical regularity. That suggests that there is something important about the formal.”
The universe has things that correspond to language. All that shows is that we invented tools to describe the universe.
The first program was invented 50 years before the first computer. Don’t be surprised if theories are proposed way before scientists can test them; after all, people remember the first guy not the verifier.
“Try reading the Ross paper. The argument is not about that. The paper is short. The upshot is that it is always indeterminate whether any material object (say a calculator display) instantiates one meaning or another for us. Ross goes on to say that this indeterminacy of material objects inheres in neurons, too. He then argues that, since logic itself presupposes precisely formal operations like modus ponens, we cannot consistently uphold reason without conceptualizing the mind as immaterial. ”
You just claimed metaphysics doesn’t make any testable predications. Here you are claiming metaphysics makes testable predictions. Specifically you are claiming brain emulations are impossible because they presumably wouldn’t have a soul and carry this process out.
” We already have a legal regime where you can discriminate based on behaviors like choosing not to wear shoes (“no shirt, no shoes, no service”).”
If people started to discriminate against people for being left handed on the grounds lefties can always switch to their right, left handed would become a protected class. Behaviors you can discriminate against are very specific and confined to things that are highly mutable.
“So while I predict that the precedent will be extended, it’s not obvious. Further, given how marginalized racists are nowadays, anti-SSM folks understandably do not want to be subject to the same legal treatment.”
So its okay to discriminate based on sexual orientation, but they think it is wrong to discriminate based on political belief?
” You’re talking about something like vocations, calls, or missions, perhaps. ”
And so was the judge. He wasn’t saying blacks couldn’t go to heaven- he was saying their vocation, call or mission was different from whites or Asians.
The First Cause argument, at least as Aquinas posed it, goes something like this:
1. Everything we observe has a cause.
2. But there cannot be an infinite chain of causation, because then there would be no first cause.
3. Therefore, there must be something uncaused which caused everything else.
4. Everyone knows that this is God.
I agree; my opponent is pointing out that technically what Aquinas said is “everything that comes into existence has a cause” and I’m saying that isn’t categorically different- the same objections apply to both variants.
Oh, right. Sorry, I didn’t take enough time to read your post. My bad.
It’s not about following rules. It’s about being partly actual or wholly actual.
You seem to be confusing two arguments: Aquinas’ First Way (which has nothing to do with the universe as a whole) and the kalam cosmological argument (which does, and of which Fr. Spitzer gives a variant.)
Technology doesn’t solve Hume’s problem of induction. Nor does it referee between the nominalism of Hume, the conceptualism of Kant, and the realism of Aquinas. Nor does it referee between Berkeleyan idealism and Lockean empiricism. “Science works bitches” has nothing to do with those sorts of arguments.
He’s not talking about the origin of the universe. Kalam cosmological argument proponents like Spitzer, or William Lane Craig, are doing that. Aquinas is not. The origin of the universe has absolutely nothing to do with his argument. His argument is about how things logically must be right now, not at the beginning of the universe. It concerns per se causal series, which are cotemporaneous. A single object during a single instant of time, like right now or noon last Tuesday, is all that need be considered.
If quantum mechanics is acausal, then how does your computer confirm causality for you?
If there’s no interaction between the universes, then another part of the multiverse can’t have caused our universe, right?
The brain is made of neurons. The structure is the organization of the neurons.
What’s a description? How’s it work? Does it convey information? What’s information?
Nope. Vitalism posits a life force analogous to the physical forces like electromagnetism; that’s a kind of efficient cause, not a formal cause.
Math is a very impressive tool for describing the universe. Suspiciously so.
I’m claiming a brain emulation wouldn’t have qualia or intentionality. It’d be a p-zombie, basically. But there’s no way to objectively test another’s subjectivity. So, as much as it would be convenient for me if it were a testable prediction, it’s not.
Celibacy and sex are highly mutable behaviors.
Depends. Some of them are libertarians who think private institutions should be able to discriminate based on political belief, orientation, race, or anything else. Others aren’t.
Then that’s more of a deontological argument: God calls you to do X, so do X.
(This is fun, by the way. All the best to you.)
“It’s not about following rules. It’s about being partly actual or wholly actual”
Yes, it is about being like everything else in existence that has ever been observed (the rules) or not. The positions are equivalent.
“You seem to be confusing two arguments: Aquinas’ First Way (which has nothing to do with the universe as a whole)”
You keep repeating that. It isn’t true. Aquinas argument requires everything in the universe to behave a certain way for his generalization to be valid. If there are things that can come into existence without causes, his argument doesn’t work.
“Technology doesn’t solve Hume’s problem of induction. Nor does it referee between the nominalism of Hume, the conceptualism of Kant, and the realism of Aquinas. Nor does it referee between Berkeleyan idealism and Lockean empiricism. “Science works bitches” has nothing to do with those sorts of arguments.”
I thought “every second” was obvious enough, but apparently not. I’m not referring to technology. I’m referring to the fact the world is comprehensible enough we can physically interact with it. We can touch solid objects, we can see things, we have a whole host of things we deal with constantly.
“Aquinas is not. The origin of the universe has absolutely nothing to do with his argument. His argument is about how things logically must be right now, not at the beginning of the universe. ”
Let me get this straight. The first cause argument is not about how the universe began? Can I get you to state that outright? I always like it when my opponents openly admit they are spouting gibberish.
“If quantum mechanics is acausal, then how does your computer confirm causality for you? ”
The same way radioactivity is acausal but radiation is not. The same way that gambling is random, but the profits of casinos are not.
“If there’s no interaction between the universes, then another part of the multiverse can’t have caused our universe, right? ”
Another universe could not have cause our universe. The multiverse is more than just universes.
“What’s a description? How’s it work? Does it convey information? What’s information?”
Sphere is a description. It is a word applied to a category of things we observe. It conveys information that the thing referred to is in the category. Information is anything that narrows down the possibilities of what something can be.
I don’t know why you are asking this- all of this can be found with a simple google search.
“Nope. Vitalism posits a life force analogous to the physical forces like electromagnetism; that’s a kind of efficient cause, not a formal cause.”
No, you’ve declared all living things have souls, including viruses. That is vitalism (vitalism doesn’t require a life force as it includes “or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things”. Thanks wiki!)
“Math is a very impressive tool for describing the universe. Suspiciously so.”
Math was systematically developed over thousands of years by geniuses in order to be useful.
“I’m claiming a brain emulation wouldn’t have qualia or intentionality. It’d be a p-zombie, basically. But there’s no way to objectively test another’s subjectivity. So, as much as it would be convenient for me if it were a testable prediction, it’s not.”
Sure there is. You can ask a p-zombie if they experience the same subjective experience as others. P-zombies are only impossible to measure if they lie or if it is impossible to describe subjective experiences; fortunately the subjective experience in this case is something very easy to describe and with brain emulations we can make honest individuals.
“Celibacy and sex are highly mutable behaviors.”
It takes about 10 minutes to throw on the requisite clothing. The items you mentioned have a much larger turn around time and to make matters worse, there is no defined amount of time you have to go without sex to be celibate.
“Depends. Some of them are libertarians who think private institutions should be able to discriminate based on political belief, orientation, race, or anything else. Others aren’t. ”
It is a poor blaster that doesn’t point both ways – Hober Mallow
They shouldn’t be surprised if endorsing policies that can be used to eliminate your political movement end up with the movement eliminated.
“Then that’s more of a deontological argument: God calls you to do X, so do X.”
The judge wasn’t saying that. He wasn’t making any particular claims about what each race was supposed to do, only that god intended them to do certain things separately. He is referencing the natural order to justify separation, but that only meant the vocation was different in the sense of who you are supposed to work and interact with.
Why should the necessary be like the contingent? How are you justifying that assumption?
Ah, so you’re making some sort of quantum acausality objection? Even granting arguendo that quantum phenomena are efficiently acausal, they wouldn’t be formally acausal, since they’d still fall under physical laws.
And Dr. Johnson tried to refute Bishop Berkeley by kicking a stone; it’s a tempting response not only to Berkeleyan idealism, but to the Humean induction problem. But it seems a bit naïve. I’d prefer to refute them with argumentation. I think you should prefer that, too.
Opponent? Are we having a debate? Are you trying to win something? It’s just internet comments. Relax, and let’s search amicably for the truth together.
Now, as it happens, although the kalam cosmological/first cause argument (e.g., Craig, Spitzer) is about when the universe began, Aquinas’ cosmological/first cause argument is not. Your confusion is entirely understandable. Here’s a selection from one of my first links in our conversation:
I like your examples. Could you elaborate more on this idea of how acausal micro-processes can be parts of causal macro-processes? Is the acausality ontologically fundamental, or is it just an epistemological limitation? How do we know?
Interesting. What else is it? How is the “more” relevant to your argument?
How do we arrive at the categorizations of what we observe? Is it a clusters in thingspace kind of process? Or something else?
I’m trying to figure out what you think the natures of language and mathematics are; I can’t google that. Further, one can’t solve nominalism vs. conceptualism vs. realism by googling the answer any more than you can refute idealism by kicking a rock or vindicate causality by touching a keyboard. You seem, IMHO, too confident that deep philosophical questions can be settled by appealing to common sense intuitions without giving arguments.
I was thinking more of the elan vital of Bergson. But sure, I’m a non-reductionist, so if that’s the way to define vitalism, then I guess the shoe fits. After all, I do think rational animals have different organizing principles than other sentients, which have different organizing principles than non-sentient life, which has different organizing principles than the inanimate.
I was thinking of Einstein’s chestnut about the comprehensibility of the universe being itself mysterious. If math is aligned with reality (as opposed to being a human-specific construct), then it’s possible for purely logical argumentation to tell us about the world.
Okay. I don’t really have anything useful to add on any of those topics.
“Why should the necessary be like the contingent? How are you justifying that assumption?”
I don’t know how those terms are being used there. However, my position is that the current situation (where presumably the necessary is not like the contingent) is not generalizable to origins of the universe because we don’t know the rules the system as a whole follows.
“Ah, so you’re making some sort of quantum acausality objection? Even granting arguendo that quantum phenomena are efficiently acausal, they wouldn’t be formally acausal, since they’d still fall under physical laws.”
I’m not making a quantum acasuality argument. I’m saying we don’t know if the universe as a whole is acasual.
“But it seems a bit naïve. I’d prefer to refute them with argumentation. I think you should prefer that, too.”
Why? It is impossible to disprove stimulated universe, sophism and 5 minute ago creation by argument. We just ignore them for the most part because there is no point in considering them.
“Your confusion is entirely understandable. Here’s a selection from one of my first links in our conversation:…
What he means is that there must be a most fundamental cause of things which keeps them in existence at every moment, ”
Unless they radioactively decay? Or is this the more general “there must be something that causes the laws of physics to constantly hold true”? Because the models of the big bang I’ve seen hold that the laws of physics changed and the fundamental forces separated out as the universe became cooler.
“I like your examples. Could you elaborate more on this idea of how acausal micro-processes can be parts of causal macro-processes? Is the acausality ontologically fundamental, or is it just an epistemological limitation? How do we know?”
Going from acausal to causal is easy. Heat is a good example- the individual particles are random, but the net result is something that has rather clear properties.
Now, getting the acausal in the first place is the hard part and essentially boils down to “why does the universe follows the patterns it does” which given the absence of spare universes to study isn’t currently answerable.
“Interesting. What else is it? How is the “more” relevant to your argument?”
The more is relevant to explain why there aren’t universes before or after yours. The “what else” we don’t know, but there has to be “X” in a multiverse theory because our universe is currently not interacting with any other universes.
“How do we arrive at the categorizations of what we observe? Is it a clusters in thingspace kind of process? Or something else?”
You mean why do people see shapes? Instincts explain a good deal of this- after all, all humans can learn language, but only by a certain age.
“I’m trying to figure out what you think the natures of language and mathematics are; I can’t google that.”
Languages exist among other animals. The ability to learn them is instinctual, although the details tend to be culturally determined. Math refers to a massive field covering things that are probably instinctive (addition, subtraction, counting) and things that were clearly invented.
” You seem, IMHO, too confident that deep philosophical questions can be settled by appealing to common sense intuitions without giving arguments.”
Oh no, it is worse than that. I reject the idea deep philosophical questions exist.
“After all, I do think rational animals have different organizing principles than other sentients, which have different organizing principles than non-sentient life, which has different organizing principles than the inanimate.”
Care to phrase that in a way that is testable?
“If math is aligned with reality (as opposed to being a human-specific construct), then it’s possible for purely logical argumentation to tell us about the world. ”
Sure. But not necessarily the universe itself because math and logic have been created by examples “inside”. Of course we could have the principles wrong.
It’s more general than whether the laws of physics are constant or whether our universe is acausal. Aquinas is concerned to answer the question of why, from moment to moment, there is something rather than nothing. You’ve said you can’t see much point to questions like that. You’ve also indicated that, properly boiled down conceptually, you think such questions can be seen not to exist—a kind of positivist position, I think. I could argue against positivism, I suppose, but since you also don’t see much point in questions like these, I won’t. Different strokes for different folks—if metaphysical questions bore you, that’s fine.
Sounds like the issue is epistemological rather than ontological; thanks.
Thanks for clarifying your position.
It’s not a testable prediction. It’s an attempt to explain phenomena like consciousness, intentionality, and qualia, but it’s not predictive—experience of the phenomena predates the idea. Trying to make it predictive would fail—it would just end up being a laughably bad scientific theory, like phlogiston. But the goal isn’t to do science, it’s to do metaphysics, which is interested in a different kind of explanation. Since you’ve stated you’re not interested in that kind of thing, I think I’ll leave our conversation here.
” Aquinas is concerned to answer the question of why, from moment to moment, there is something rather than nothing. You’ve said you can’t see much point to questions like that.”
No, you got my position wrong again. I don’t think such questions are valid questions. It is no more of a valid question than asking why do dragons tunnel through France. The grammar is correct, but the question doesn’t have any relation to anything in reality.
” It’s not a testable prediction. It’s an attempt to explain phenomena like consciousness, intentionality, and qualia, but it’s not predictive”
If it isn’t predictive, it doesn’t explain anything. At the risk of invoking the sequences, if a theory can be used to explain any result (which is what nontestable theories do), than it doesn’t explain anything at all. “Living things are different from nonliving things in ways that cannot be measured” is no more useful than insisting that souls suppress consciousness and so humans are the only things in reality that have them. Or that there are multiple different souls that humans need and spirits collect them like pokemon before people are born. Once you reject the concepts of evidence and testability there is no limit to the number of theories that can be produced.
“Trying to make it predictive would fail—it would just end up being a laughably bad scientific theory, like phlogiston.”
Phlogiston isn’t laughably bad- most things that burn do have a substance in them that is released by burning- carbon. It took until prevision instruments in the 18th century before it could be disproven.
So your position is part of the family of positivist (or perhaps Quinean naturalist) positions in epistemology. That’s pretty much what I figured. Sorry I wasn’t clearer.
Evidentialism is one theory of explanation and justification. Plantinga’s view of warranted belief is another. Foundationalism and coherentism are others. To take a single example, coherentism limits the number of theories that can be produced by requiring logical coherence within one’s web of beliefs.
“Evidentialism is one theory of explanation and justification. Plantinga’s view of warranted belief is another. Foundationalism and coherentism are others. To take a single example, coherentism limits the number of theories that can be produced by requiring logical coherence within one’s web of beliefs.”
You are doing it again. People do not start out with the rules of logic written out in their brains. Logic had to be deduced from evidence in the first place. It bears those marks pretty clearly- the Greeks didn’t know about Wave-Particle duality so something both being part of one category and not being part of that category doesn’t seem to fit.
Most of the rest of logical rules follows similar features. Argument from authority isn’t valid because people can’t cause the fundamental nature of reality to change just by speaking (which needs to be evidentially determined, especially since most folk superstitions hold the opposite) for instance.
In short, logic requires evidence to back up its validity. You can’t use logic while rejecting the concept of evidence any more than you can use Christianity while rejecting the concept of Jesus.
You might lump this in with Kant, but I tend to go for the Richard Rorty-style position that (1) any argument that involves metaphysics is inherently flawed and nonsensical, (2) epistemologies (and moral values) are contingent and not “justifable” in any even vaguely objective sense. (I take Eliezer Yudkowsky to be essentially endorsing (2) in essays like this one and this one, with an extra empirical claim that most humans have moral values that are close enough that we can pretend they’re all the same; though I believe he disagrees with me about whether that’s an accurate summary of his position).
I think of Kant as more of a conceptualist (it’s all in our heads, but universally so given the structure of our minds–kind of like Chomsky thinks about language) and Rorty as more of a nominalist (it’s all in our heads, and it’s culturally variable and ought to be pragmatically chosen). I think Rorty’s deflationist therapeutic account of philosophy is more anti-metaphysics than Kant’s.
Yeah, I wasn’t claiming that Kant and Rorty say the same thing–they obviously don’t. But Rorty’s nominalism does have the same sort of implications for “your metaphysical argument can’t actually have implications for the real world” that you were ascribing to Kant. Just with a side order of “and also, it’s silly.”
Yeah, Rorty always had that refreshing forthrightness about what his anti-foundationalism implied. Has Scott ever blogged any Rorty? That would certainly be something to read.
I should mention that I really enjoy your comments even though I almost always disagree with them. (I think the Aquinas argument is transparently silly for reasons you can probably infer, but I also think you have the better of most of the arguments about it on this thread, for instance).
Actually, I kinda think Violets are in some ways my outgroup. The reds and blues I mostly kind of shake my head at in confused amusement, but Ross Douthat’s blog is always interesting but also gets me genuinely angry from time to time, which almost nothing else ever does.
Thanks for your kind words, Jadagul. (If you’re a Rorty fan, I probably can infer why you think Aquinas’ arguments are silly.)
Although I think, contrariwise to you, that Grays are kind of my outgroup, I don’t think any Gray authors really anger me. Frustruate me, perhaps.
That said, I’ve always seen Douthat as particularly innocuous–maybe it’s some kind of privilege on my part, but the idea that he of all people would anger someone surprises me. Whatever blind spot that is probably makes it likely that I might anger people the same way. If I ever do, and you’re around, please feel free to let me know I’m being an ass so I can stop it. (Being an ass is a danger I worry about a lot when I abstractly, i.e., with the luxury of privilege, defend Red positions on SSM or abortion, e.g., since those issues are extraordinarily vital and personal for a lot people with Blue views on them.)
Don’t worry about it–I’m really hard to offend.
Thinking about it more, the part of Douthat that gets me upset or angry is that he’s an obviously very smart and reasonable person who has some premises that are just wildly and directly in conflict with my own. (In particular, I’m somewhat evangelically sex-positive and “more people should be having more casual sex” is very close to being a terminal value).
I’d be interested in seeing _arguments_ on the subject, but of course as a Rortyan I don’t think arguments on those subjects are particularly coherent even in concept. I do have the same reaction to people who claim that inequality is bad in itself or that we should care about the welfare or interests of animals at all.
Edit: which is to say, I get frustrated when people argue from those premises without justifying them, because I feel like they think their premises have justifications, and I think they’re wrong. I would find it less frustrating if the essays had a “I irrationally value these things” disclaimer, or if they attempted to argue for the premises in a forum where I could argue back.
I think the most popular eternal cosmology these days is Aguirre-Gratton http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0111191
It gets around the assumptions of the BGV theorem by reversing the thermodynamic arrow of time at some point (well, strictly speaking a light-like surface) in the distant past. Thus, while after the big bang the second law of thermodynamics holds, in the distant past, the time reversal of the second law holds.
Note: this is actually not that wacky an assumption. Most attempts to derive the second law of thermodynamics work equally well in the past and future direction. The microscopic laws of physics are after-all time symmetric (actually CPT symmetric, but the distinction doesn’t seem to matter wrt the second law of thermodynamics) so it makes sense that the overall cosmology should be time-symmetric as well. This time symmetry is also a reason to be suspicious of a time-asymmetric premise like “whatever BEGINS to exist has a cause,”
Great point! Thanks for the heads-up on Aguirre-Gratton, too.
Since I’m here I might add a few more comments on your exchange with Samuel Skinner
I’ve never found this switch to formal cause particularly convincing, even under an assumption of Thomism. Yes, under hylomorphic dualism the universe, as a corporeal being, is supposed to have formal (*and material*) causes. But, as postquam sanctissimus says:
“Neither of these parts has ‘being’ through itself, nor is produced and/or corrupted through itself, nor is it posited in a predicament, except reductively as a substantial principle.” Thus, the formal cause of the universe cannot be God, since the form of the universe has no ‘being’ through itself, nor does the form of the universe seem like the sort of thing that requires its own formal cause (I can’t imagine what the form of the form of the universe would be other than simply the form of the universe.)
I also read the Ross paper. I’ve got to say, I find the argument unconvincing. If I were being uncharitable, I would summarize the argument thusly: Ross believes that to say we are “adding” means not only that we get correct answers in the inputs we actually add correctly, but that we would also get correct answers on the inputs we cannot add correctly (were it not for the fact that we can’t actually do that.)
He asserts that we have this seemingly meaningless ability based only on the fact that we believe we are “adding,” but he denies the same for adding machines even though we don’t believe we are lying when we call them “adding machines.”
A steelman might be that we feel we know what we’re shooting for when we define the ideal “addition” functionality, even if we know we can only match the ideal functionality on a limited set of inputs. Now here you get into things humans actually can do that might be taken as evidence that we know what we’re talking about.
1) Even if we can’t compute the sums on which “addition” and “quaddition” differ, we can prove theorems that are true for one functionality but false for the other. The problem, computers can prove theorems too. (And it’s no good to argue that what theorem provers do is fundamentally different from what human mathematicians do, since that’s exactly the conclusion you’re trying to support in the first place.)
2) We can build machines to extend our addition ability and convince ourselves that they work. Problem is, this only works if the laws of physics cooperate. It’s fairly easy to construct an alternate set of physical laws where human designed-computers would be just as convincing to their designers as real-world computers, while giving different outputs for some, possibly many inputs.
Thus, we find that when we define precisely what we mean by the claim that we can resolve Quinean indeterminacies, it’s either something computers can do also (possibly better or possibly worse given the current state of AI research,) or it’s something that on further reflection, we can’t do either.
Finally, I would note, it seems plausible that our notion of the ideal functionality is parasitic on its physical instantiations rather than the other way around. After all, wasn’t the original point of addition to figure out things like how many shekels of wheat I have in my temple storehouse based on daily logs of how many shekels were brought in or removed each day. If my storehouse is such that putting in one shekel on Tuesday and another on Wednesday results in three Shekels I can take out on Thursday, don’t you think I’d like to plan for that eventuality rather than what the sum “should” be?
Since I’m here I might add a few more comments on your exchange with Samuel Skinner
That’s a lovely point, Ray, and elegantly put. And you’re quite correct. (It helps that you’ve clearly done the reading.) God is posited as the cause of the existence (God being existence essentially, i.e., being Being) of forms and matter alike. He isn’t posited as the formal cause of the universe—He’s not the laws of physics. As opposed to Aristotle, I think it’s more of a particularly Thomistic point to want to stress that existence is to essence (i.e., form) as form is to matter—i.e., form is act relative to matter, but potential relative to being.
My point with Samuel Skinner wasn’t an invocation of God as Creator (since, as you allude to, He’s upstream of form and matter alike in such an argument), just the limited point that even if something is efficiently acausal (which is what I think the quantum argument is about, although the physics is way over my head), that doesn’t make it formally acausal. Of course, whether formal causality is even a thing is obviously a controversial point. If I understand it correctly, the quantum acausality objection to cosmological arguments for God is a contention that there’s good physical reason for the universe to be a brute fact, so that the physics is all the sufficient reason we need to satisfy the principle of sufficient reason. Since formal causality is a itself a controversial claim, I’d expect defenders of the quantum acausality objection to attack the legitimacy of formal cause as a theoretical requirement, and of God as ground of being as a coherent concept, rather than to attempt to prove formal acausality of the universe or something.
Those are very thought-provoking arguments. The bit about theorem-proving computers is particularly fine. I’m not sure, but I think maybe after I think it over for a while, you may have convinced me that quaddition was a bad example for Ross to pick. I think, though, that Ross’ point is about the precision of our thoughts generally. (In that, it’s sort of like Frege’s example of the Pythagorean Theorem in “Thought,” although obviously mathematical logicism vs. psychologism is a quite different issue than immaterialism vs. physicalism in theory of mind, despite the various affinities the two debates have). Now, logical theorems, properly formalized, are I assume as amenable to proof by computer as mathematical. So even if we go to Ross’ modus ponens example, I think your larger point still stands, and perhaps reduces Ross’ argument to just a general complaint that computers and other objects are only bearers of intentionality to the extent we assign meaning to their operations. But I think your argument might (I have to think about it) defeat Ross’s attempt to buttress the intentionality point with Kripkean and Quinean concerns. Ross has been my go-to quick argument for immateriality for years now. Now you’ve made me doubt his key points. Bravo, sir!
As a historical matter, math probably did start just that way—something like the pebbles for sheep-counting in the Sequences. You won’t be surprised to learn that I’m a mathematical realist, though. So however pragmatic human motives were for doing math, I take it that we were discovering rather than inventing. That’s a pretty fundamental dispute in philosophy of mathematics, of course, (perhaps THE fundamental dispute), and it doesn’t look likely to be settled anytime soon.
Are you the same Ray that’s commented (about Dennett, e.g.) over at Leah Libresco’s Unequally Yoked blog, btw? If not, there’s are apparently two very argumentatively powerful guys named Ray out there on the Internet. If you are the Ray from Leah’s place, glad to encounter you again! If not, glad to meet you!
I am the same Ray as you spoke to previously. Glad to encounter you again as well.
Not much to add, but after some thought, I think I have a better idea why I have the intuition that addition is a well defined notion, and why I don’t think it supports Ross’s arguments:
First of all, I’m pretty sure the intuition only applies to addition of things that are unambiguously numbers. I have no intuition that the sum of a “fnark” and a “quorg” should be well defined. This will become important later.
I will, in particular, focus on addition of natural numbers represented in decimal notation, since that’s the type of number I’m most confident of my ability to check additions for. When I picture checking that an addition is correct, what I imagine myself doing is lining up the inputs and outputs of the putative addition operation so that the 1s place, 10s place etc all line up on top of one another then I go from right to left checking that the sum is correct for the digit I’m looking at, and remembering the carry until I can use it to check the next sum. Note that my confidence is not based on my ability to do an infinite number of distinct addition problems, but rather on my ability to get it right for the 200 possible, digit,digit, carry combinations. I don’t need to remember anything except the previous carry value. (I don’t need to know how many digits I’ve already checked or how many I have left to check etc.) Thus the instances of the 200 different cases are identical from my perspective.
The only residual concerns are that I can live long enough to get to all the digits, and that the digits will remain stable while I’m checking. However, these concerns would also be present if I was simply checking that the inputs were well formed numbers in the first place (I’d only have to recognize 10 correct cases instead of 200, but that doesn’t strike me as a big deal). Since I was only concerned about adding things that are unambiguously numbers, these things can’t be a serious concern, or the inputs wouldn’t unambiguously be numbers.
The above argument is basically just the Turing machine formalism, where I’m placing myself in the role of the finite-state head, and placing in the role of the tape some distinctly physical storage medium (e.g. ink on paper; I’m definitely picturing something spatial if not outright physical when I try to convince myself addition works), so it should generalize to a broad class of mathematical objects — certainly all of the ones I’m reasonably confident are well defined.
As for non-mathematical Platonism — in my view and that of a lot of other people, it seems that a little observation of arguments between professional philosophers, especially on topics they describe to be “metaphysical,” should disabuse one of the notion that natural language terms are in general well defined.
Irenist’s description of Violet tribe fits me to a T. If I might add a few insights about us Violets:
-The core principal of Violet philosophy is the idea that we are under a higher moral authority, and owe it a certain obedience. Socially, this generally means valuing restraint: sexual, economic, environmental, personal.
-Being a nascent tribe like the Greys (must we use the British spelling, Scott?) we don’t yet have a lot of the baggage the two primary tribes do. If you’re looking for the heresies that will get you tossed out of the Violet tribe, we don’t really have them anym more than the Greys do. We’re just not that much of a monolith yet.
-My theory is that the two primary tribal narratives have become incoherent, and as a result both tribes are about to be replaced by the Greys and the Violets. The Red and Blue narratives worked in the sixties. They don’t match reality anymore.
-In the early stages of undermining and replacing the dominant tribes, the Violets and the Greys are natural allies. Both new tribes can come together around reducing/decentralizing government, environmental conservation, opposing police state practices, and ending wars of aggression. We’ll probably even all be willing to vote together for Libertarian causes until the primary tribes and parties are made obsolete. Then the fun begins.
-At some point, Greys and Violets will clash. There are a number of areas where this might happen, but my money is on parental rights vs children’s rights. Violets will want parents to be free to raise children as they see fit; Greys will want to protect children from situations they see as abusive. The children’s rights movement will be the end of the alliance between Greys and Violets.
But let’s enjoy it while we can, eh?
From my perspective as a Grey, I see Violet as an occasional ally on object-level issues but as even worse than Blue or Red on big picture ideological/philosophical stuff, precisely because Violet values restraint and sees themselves as under a higher moral authority. Violet communitarianism is more of an opposite to Grey individualism and drive for mastery than either Blue progressivism or Red conservatism.
Also, while it’s possible that Red will be replaced by Violet, I don’t think Blue is going anywhere anytime soon.
@John Henry: Your insights are very insightful. I clicked on your blog; please post more!
@blacktrance: From the other side, I agree. In the near term, Gray and Violet are likely to be allied on object-level opposition to the reigning Red/Blue policies we live under. Eventually, the philosophical polarity will lead to opposition on increasingly salient issues like biotechnological interventions, etc.
I disagree about Blue, though. From, my Violet perspective, the difference between a Blue neoliberal Matt Yglesias and a Gray libertarian Tyler Cowen, e.g., seems about as inconsequential as the distinctions that divide Catholics from Orthodox, or Sunni’i from Shi’a, probably look to a Gray atheist: Blue intellectuals and wonks are increasingly open to market-like solutions (e.g., carbon markets, the “nudge” idea of regulation), and cultural libertarianism is ascendant in both tribes. Gray just looks like the future of Blue from here. As for Violet being the future of Red–I certainly hope so.
Matt Yglesias is far from a typical Blue, nor do I see much indication that Blues in general are heading in that direction. Blues are still skeptical about markets, and I don’t see any indication of that changing, apart from on some cultural issues such as drug legalization.
Good points, blacktrance.
I complained elsewhere that people were performing a Texas sharpshooter job on the left, excluding anyone halfway intelligent from the Blues by default. When Paul Krugman and Brad Delong aren’t Blue, I feel like something is wrong with the way you are using this classification.
Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong are certainly Blues and not Greys despite being notably pro-market, though they seriously downplay where they disagree with the Blue mainstream and heavily emphasize where they agree, and cheer for Blues in general. If he were a dictator, Paul Krugman would likely enact policies more pro-market than the status quo, but if he had to select a dictator from current politicians, he’d select someone less pro-market than the status quo.
Econ-literate Blues (Krugman, DeLong, Yglesias) are still Blues, but their views are at odds with the Blue majority.
Hypothesis: Blue isn’t going anywhere because women aren’t going to flock to Grey, barring large changes in gender expression.
What if Blue/Gray is like a CP Snow “Two Cultures” thing, with the gender skew being an indirect product of that based on how much affinity for humanities/sciences the two genders tend to have in our culture.
In the same sense that Samuel Skinner suggested that Violets might just be Red academics, could one suggest that Grays are just Blues who aren’t humanities types? Both would be less than entirely accurate. But they’d be getting at something.
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Hey, I just had an idea, could we get Red Tribals to back phase-out and environmental cleanup of plastics if we sold it as, “xenohormones are making your children gay and trans,” or would this be self-defeating because Blue Tribals would then become pro-xenohormone?
I’ve actually been wondering about that (though not under the cool name xenohormone). My particular thought was that if I were a right wing activist, I would devote all of my effort to fighting endocrine disruptors and see if the decay of modern masculinity or whatever took care of itself.
But the EU has banned more things containing endocrine disruptors (such as thermally printed receipts), and most righties don’t think Western Europe is doing better culturally than the US is.
That actually sounds like a possible agreement place.
I have a better idea: do not support feminists. At all.
And I blame the left, as with most of its scholarly output since Gramsci being about all the evil ways of politicizing every little thing in the war for power and the destruction of the West.
Here’s how you fix this: by helping make the left go back to being seen as the den of degeneracy it is.
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As a libertarian of the purple tribe, I’ve watch the red/blue narrative on Rand Paul with great joy. Not because I identify with him — he’s not my style of libertarian, which I think is intentional on his part. Rather, I enjoy watching how teams red and blue react to him.
He is accused of flip-flopping on the issues. If you listen and read carefully to what he says, he’s surprisingly consistent for a politician. What he does do is change his rhetorical approach, so that he’s never solidly on team red or solidly on team blue. To see the mental conniptions he creates for teams red and blue is a source of great joy for me. For that matter, he gives us water boys on the sidelines on team purple great fits too. A rare treat for those of us who have a love/hate relationship with politics.
Not that this necessarily contradicts anything in this post – by all means you’ve elucidated a very common occurrence, I do want to make a comment about the specific example of Ferguson, and its comparison with the story in Britain.
The story in Britain was facts-known post-op. While details may not have been finalized, it was CLEAR what abuse had gone on, the magnitude of it, and the reason behind it. The evidence pointed strongly to the Red Tribe’s Narrative, so the Red Tribe gave it constant coverage, and the Blue team played constant “Look, Squirrel!”.
The Story in Ferguson however, is different. Note your “(-ish)” addendum. The facts are not in. We really don’t know if this was a case of police abuse or not. Over the past month I have heard pieces of evidence emerging that support both sides. There is no doubt that the Red Tribe didn’t give it the same play as the blue tribe because it doesn’t fit their narrative.
But at the moment we don’t know which narrative it actually fits in the first place.
The Blue team took the story, assumed and alleged every racial, evil motive under the sun and declared the officer guilty months ago – and we still don’t have a clear picture of the events.
Once the story is spun… what is the Red Tribe to do? There are no facts to contradict the narrative put in place by the Blue Tribe. Why would they cover it? They don’t have any relevant information – no one does. And they can’t just go on the air and say: “Hold up, we don’t know all the facts here.” They’d be thoroughly condemned because the story has already been framed by constant Blue coverage and allegation of facts, motives, etc.
Is whitewashing a known story where the facts contradicts your narrative the same as whitewashing an unknown story where only the current speculation and framing of the facts contradict your narrative – but the actual facts aren’t yet known?
I guess what I’m saying, is that the Blue Team media tends to whitewash known stories – they filter contradictory evidence out of the world. The Red team [more often than the blue team] filters contradictory *speculation* out of the world. [More often] there is at least a good-faith reason for the Red Team to clam up – talking about it hurts their side, but also wouldn’t further inform their viewers about the state of the world. [More often] The Blue team will filter evidence – deliberately under-informing their viewers about the world, and fill [more] air time with speculation that pushes there narrative. That is to say, something that looks like evidence, but later turns out to be made of whole-cloth.
I’ve done a test of sorts a dozen times over, mostly as a challenge to blue-tribe friends that are honest enough to test themselves. Over a month, watch Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. Write down all the stories mentioned, and note all concrete facts covered, and record which arguments for both sides were mentioned on-air. Then Compare them. What were facts that were relevant to the interpretation of the story? What were the strongest arguments given for both sides? Were the strongest arguments for each side mentioned on the ideologically-opposed network?
In every test run so far, Fox news had more ‘facts’ than CNN or MSNBC on most stories, and the concrete Blue Tribe arguments got more play on Fox than Red Tribe arguments on just about every story. Fox news still seemed to treat Blue-Tribe interpretations as ‘token’, but they seemed to honestly give the other side their say, and seemed much less likely to obscure known, relevant facts.
The most telling part was that several Red arguments on CNN and MSNBC that were put under the “weak” label… were later put under the “Strong” label by my blue friends while watching Fox. And it wasn’t because the argument was necessarily presented better – it was that additional evidence from Fox fundamentally changed the story. This certainly happened the other way around, but it was much, MUCH less prevalent.
The most important thing to take away is that both sides will certainly push and spin their narrative – so you have to drink from BOTH wells to know you’ve gotten the full picture.
But in my personal experience, the Blue side actively filters fluoride from the water, while the Red Team refuses to add fish oil. And (speaking in broad strokes here) the Blue side seems to constantly be manufacturing evidence for their side, and then covers the hell out of it, while the Red tribe sits and waits for evidence that supports their side to manifest itself… and then covers the hell out of it.
In my personal opinion, that speaks something to whose narrative – whose subjective map of the objective world – aligns closer with reality. Which is, of course, why I switched from Blue to Red. The first victim of my test was myself.
But in fact, they did.
Referencing NRO again, here’s an early one by “The Editors“:
And I like that they did. But to my later point, they can’t run a piece for 30 days saying: “We don’t know anything yet – stop covering this”.
You can occasionally talk about how much speculation and improper journalism is going on. But you can’t match the volume of bad journalism and race-baiting with that. At some point you have to cover it less, for the same reason you weren’t going to cover it at all in the first place.
The convenience store video of Michael Brown strong arm robbing the little clerk was released in mid-August. Autopsy reports came shortly after. Now we have forensic evidence that Brown attacked the cop inside his own police car! This has turned out to be another fiasco like Duke lacrosse, Oberlin attack blanket, Trayvon, Jena Six, Tawana Brawley, and so many others. The simplest explanation is that there is an enormous hunger in the national media for tales of violent white racists, such a hunger that much of what we hear on the subject is disingenuous. And there is very, very little accountability in the press for getting stories wrong. If the Trayvon story turns out to be a big black guy gaybashing a mixed-race Hispanic, well, the national media owns the microphone and they’re just not going to talk about that.
Been thinking about this, and it suddenly occurred to me that part of the problem with quarantine could simply be Team blue’s near pathological need to not be like Team Red.
Just listen to Markos. Team Blue are those non-fearful people who only worry about real problems, like those mean Republicans forcing women to pay for their own birth control, not fake problems, like an Ebola pandemic.
Is it simply the case that, to Team Blue, there are no problems outside the US? Is that why Obama sees Republicans as enemies, whereas Putin, Iran, ISIS, etc. are merely opponents? Why Obama looks for “no victor, no vanquished” in Iraq and Syria, but wants to destroy Republicans, Catholics, and anyone else who disagrees with him here at home?
Is the problem simply that Team Blue can’t conceive of a physical threat, rather than a political one?
Dear slatestarcodex: you have *got* to listen to this podcast: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2013/06/kling_on_the_th.html 🙂
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I love how Scott can take an old, calcified issue and make people look at it with fresh eyes, just by moving a few words around. The reframing of climate change, the Korean experiment in the anti-reactionary FAQ, the Utopia with American Immigrants in “neoreaction in a nutshell”….Let’s do more of this.
ISIS: “Why are we providing welfare to Iran, and the nation who gave us the 9/11 highjackers (Saudi Arabia)? They can afford a war, they know the area, and most of all it’s their backyard and therefore their responsibility. We encourage dependence and irresponsibility by doing the jobs that other nations should do for themselves. In fact, let’s get out of the whole exporting-revolution thing altogether – it didn’t work when the communists did it, and why are we following their lead anyway? After all, if Washington can’t be trusted to know what’s best for Idaho, how can Washington be trusted to know what’s best for alien cultures on the other side of the world?”
Policing: “How about, as a form of reparations, whites pay taxes so that blacks can have extra policing in their neighborhoods, and the sort of criminals who prey on blacks get punished extra hard?” (Of course I don’t support unequal punishments based on race, I just don’t understand why blacks choose this, of all things, to be angry about. After all, most victims of black crime are black). “If you go around terrorizing black people, you are the overdog and must be stopped, I don’t care if you wear a white hood or gang colors”.
The opinion-shift re: Ferguson suggests a new concept: “Locking yourself in the Motte”. The Bailey is “Police are killing innocent blacks at random”. Then the motte is “Well, not exactly, but police don’t use the right tactics when in mortal hand-to-hand combat with criminals who lunged at them”. Such a weak motte would only be used as a last resort by anyone competent.
But maybe there are examples of police gunning down blacks at random, but the SJW are too incompetent to find them. This sort of incompetence is the key to why I broke with the blue tribe: yes, it’s usually better to root for the underdog than to be a callous, herd-following bully. Yes, we’re all better off when the game is diverse and competitive. But understand that sometimes the underdogs lost for a reason. Sometimes losers have the habits of losers, and if you adopt the habits of losers, you too will lose.
And so I’m grey.
The fact that you think the other side is saying “police are killing innocent black at random” should have been a giant blinking billboard that you don’t understand what’s actually being said; if you can’t understand why the other side believes what they do, it means you don’t actually know what they believe.
In this case, the actual claim being made is that police response is racially biased, and they respond disproportionately violently when a suspect is black vs white. For one example that came up recently, John Crawford was killed by police for having a toy gun. There’s a surveillance video embedded in that article showing Crawford continuously, from the time he picked up the pellet gun off the shelf to the time he was shot and killed by police. At no point was he doing anything remotely threatening (the 911 call that summoned the police blatantly lied about him “pointing at people” and “loading the gun”), and he appears to be completely unaware of the police until he actually gets hit – he’s facing the other direction, on his cell phone, continuing to absent-mindedly swing the toy gun at his side like he’d done for several minutes prior on the video.
This is only one incident, of course, but it’s given as a recent and particularly egregrious example of what people claim is a general tendency that’s reflected in a bunch of arrest and violent-response stats. We know, for example, that black people are vastly disproportionately jailed for minor drug offenses vs white people, despite stats showing that black and white people *use* drugs at the same rate.
I’m enjoying television with my wife right now and so don’t have the time to look up more, but you get the idea.
I get the idea. Talking points I’d like to see:
“Stop talking about Ferguson, that’s not a real example of biased policing. Instead, look at this adorable little girl whose dog got shot in a police drug raid. Let’s rethink drug laws.”
Heck, you could even use an adorable blonde girl, because if better policing is the goal, that’s good for everybody and race doesn’t even need to come into it.
So here’s what I’m missing: what could online feminists actually do to hurt you? Could they incite attacks on your home? (See: Bill O’Reilly and Islamophobia) Could they encourage the people around you to attack and rape you? (See: gamergate) Could they encourage other police officers to shoot you? (See: rewarding Darren Wilson with $400k and counting)
Really anyone with sufficient power of any ideology could do those things.
I take it you miss the doxing and personal attacks by the “anti-gamergate” side? And the many death threats against Darren Wilson?
Or is it just OK for you when any non-Blue Tribe member is threatened or harmed?
“I take it you miss the doxing and personal attacks by the “anti-gamergate” side? And the many death threats against Darren Wilson?
Or is it just OK for you when any non-Blue Tribe member is threatened or harmed?”
I don’t think Grey is actually malicious like that, but rather ignorant of the blue sides’ aggressions. Both sides live in a bubble where their attacks are ignored or played down and the attacks of their opponents are signalboosted to insane proportions. I would also suspect, especially with regards to gamergate, that the blue tribes’ bubble is much stronger owing to their defacto control over most of the media.
Internet feminists love to get people fired from their jobs. The crazy fringe of their movement makes death threats just like the crazy fringe of gamergate does, and it’s hard to hold either movement responsible for the actions of their fringe, but if you have an employer, you are in danger of having an internet feminist call that employer and tell them what a horrible person you are, and that’s not the fringe, that’s not denounced by the reasonable core of the movement. That’s approved by the mainstream.
I agree that SJW’s go after people’s jobs, and it is reasonable to fear that. On the other hand, I don’t take death threats from my side very seriously.
I don’t like them. I wish people would not behave that way. At the least, it does not help. Plus, you know, it’s actually just crappy no matter what side you are on.
But I don’t think it equals the threats Anita (and others) are getting right now, simply because I doubt anyone on my side will actually kill. It’s not our style.
By “our style,” BTW, I mean among geek feminists, the actual people fighting this fight on Twitter. I don’t mean the broad left, such as (for example) the Antifa types. Yeah, there is some overlap, but they seem a different tribe.
Okay, so let us look at the threats Anita (and others) are getting. Who is sending them?
Young, angry, disaffected men.
Should we fear such men?
Well, I don’t. Not really. The threats I experience are from hyper-masculine working-class men. I get along swimmingly with nerds.
But Eliot Rogers is fresh in our minds.
The next Eliot Rogers (and there will be another) won’t come after me. I’m not high profile. I lack visibility. I would have to be very unlucky, wrong place at the wrong time. Of that, you and I have equal odds.
But Anita? Zoe?
The threats against Anita in UT were very scary. Marc Lépine is frightening name.
These men exist. They are out there, right now, stewing and plotting. People like Anita and Zoe are central in their minds.
Your implication that this is something unique to SJW is wrong. I have a number of female friends and acquaintances who have had their careers affected (lost jobs, demotion, “unofficial” demerits) by harassers moving off of the internet and calling their actual jobs.
Assholes cover the whole spectrum, unfortunately. :/
Ferguson and Rotherham were both similar in that they were cases of police misconduct involving race.
No, they’re not. Ferguson and the Martin/Zimmerman case were both similar in that they were cases where a black thief (would-be thief in Martin’s case) viciously attacked a patrol person and was rightfully and laudably killed in the act — and the Black Tribe erupted in a huge tantrum rather than accept that fact.
The racial lesson to be learned here is that true morality must be color-blind. Being part of a historically-oppressed group does not entitle you to a free pass when you bully, rob, or attack other people. And as long as the vast majority of robbers and murderers are black, not only cops but everyone is going to profile you. That’s not racism. Ignoring the facts because they’re politically incorrect would be racism.
In the larger context of this article, the race issue and the global warming issue are similar in that they’re cases where the Blue Tribe — which has a long history of making up phony emergencies and getting its biased media to trumpet them as good reasons for wanting to take away the freedom and prosperity we’ve paid for — is at it again. But we’ve stopped believing them, permanently. They’re liars.
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Congressman Alan Greyson – the most left-wing person in congress – called for a travel ban on West Africa back in JULY. http://tinyurl.com/ntjh9fa
What an excellently written article!
I am a member of neither tribe, and reject them both as being irrational and, well, tribal.
I only wish to contribute one thing to this wonderful article: brevity.
Politics is not about discovering the truth, or even about finding practical solutions. Politics is the art of rewarding your friends, cronies, and tribal members, and punishing your enemies. Politics is, therefore, the practice of creating the illusion of answers and solutions, while profiting from one’s unjust authority.
Scott’s assumption that HBD Chick’s superb blog was apolitical until Rotherham is unperceptive.
It’s less political than your average far-right racism blog, for sure.
EDIT: speaking generically here; I did not mean to call your specific far-right racism blog “average”.
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Good piece. I assume you are familiar with Dan Kahan’s research along these lines. Your final point is an example of what economists call “market failure,” situations where individually rational behavior fails to produce group rational behavior.
For an example on the other side, note that most of the criticism of AGW by people who are not themselves scientists tries to argue that the earth is not warming or the warming not due to humans, that the whole thing is a fraud designed to accomplish liberal ends. What they should be arguing is that warming will produce both costs and benefits spread out over a long and uncertain future, hence that we do not know, cannot know, whether it will on net turn out to be a good or a bad thing. But that’s not nearly as much fun to argue. People, conservatives or liberals, don’t like admitting their own ignorance.
18 year hiatus in warming (or, if you prefer, a 16 year drop, since 1998 was warmer than 1996, and we’re currently matching 1996). We’re totally outside the range predicted by > 95% of the models offered by the “climate science” community. CO2 levels, OTOH, have been climbing quite handily.
So, no, we’re not warming at the moment, and we’re well within the range of temperatures that have been observed to occur on the Earth without any human industrial activity. That’s science.
Does human activity have some effect on the temperature? Maybe. But it appears that the magnitude of natural temperature variability is greater than the magnitude of human contribution to the temperature.
IOW, not a big deal.
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Hi, good article. Three responses:
1: In the 1950s, scientists noticed the world had been heating up for the last 50 years. However, by the time they really got going, the word was in a 20+ year cooling cycle. Then, right when some doomsayers started talking about the oncoming global ice age, teh world started heating up again. Then, when the “we’re all going to die” brigade was hitting full force in the late 1990s, the word stopped warming. in fact, we’ve had an 18 year warming “hiatus”, despite continued increases in CO2, and outside the 95% confidence interval of all the major models.
In short, the climate “science” field is full of hacks who don’t have the slightest clue what is going on. The only reason to listen to them and believe them is because it fits your political biases.
2: Being willing to quarantine of the Ebola countries requires valuing American lives over non-American lives. If you have that value, quarantine is the obvious solution for a disease for which we have no cure. Yes, it’s a nice fantasy that in the US, the death rate would “only” be 10%, assuming that so few people get it that we can provide full care to everyone who does get it. But
A: The current death rate for Ebola in the US is 100%
B: The CDC has proved utterly incompetent in dealing with Ebola so far, which makes it hard to believe that they’re all of a sudden going to be hyper-competent
So quarantine is the cheapest and safest choice for America.
3: The police officer who shot Michael Brown apparently had some rather severe face injuries right after the shooting. Did he beat himself up? Or was Michael Brown not that “peaceful”? FWIW, I read a good deal about Ferguson on right wing blogs (Especially Ace of Spades), both about the shooting, and about the (insanely stupid) initial police response. So I don’t know who you targeted in your search for “right wing coverage of Ferguson”, but your results were contrary to my experience.
4: How sheltered in your Blue Tribe world? Do you know about ClimateGate? Did you read any of the emails? Did you see the one where the famous climate “scientist” wrote to a challenger that he would not be sending the challenger his data, because “you’re just trying to prove me wrong”? Many of us “deniers” know what real science looks like, and what the scientific method entails, and understand that when people refuse to give you all the data and methods you need to recreate their published results, what that means is that their published results are garbage, and and honest scientific publisher would immediately pull the paper of someone who acts like that.
Since this is not the standard in climate “science”, it follows that the field is not a real scientific field, and neither the practitioners nor their results are worthy of any respect.
All the narrative changes in the world will not change those facts.
No we haven’t.
No he didn’t. (This one is super-ridiculous – if I remember the timeline right, it started from some “leaked X-rays”, which were blatantly taken from an old textbook and clumsily photoshopped to remove some of the identifying information.)
ClimateGate is not a real thing.
ClimateGate is a real thing, though. The article you linked to is mainly about clearing scientists of misconduct. But if you read the narrative that the e-mails construct you’ll see that it really exposed an entire culture.
1: Yes, we have. Read your own link. The “air temperature”, which is what everyone was talking and predicting about until all the predictions failed, has been flat for the last 18 years.
2: That picture is not real. Fine, I never even referenced that picture, and your link is the first time I’ve seen it.
Do you have solid proof that the claim that he was injured is false? Or do you just have a knock on that picture?
3: Yes, ClimateGate is entirely real
BTW, the “exhonerations of Mann” referred to in that hack job you posted were nothing of the sort. Having spotted that bit of dishonesty up front, I stopped reading. Because I dont’ read people who I know are lying to me.
Finally, we have this statement (found in the ClimateGate emails) from Dr. Phil Jones, head of the East Anglia CRU, to Warwick Hughes: “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
No one who says that about published data can qualify as a scientist. No one who finds that statement unobjectionable can claim to understand the scientific method, let alone claim the mantle of “science” for their beliefs.
From the New York Times
WASHINGTON — The police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., two months ago has told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as he struggled over his gun with Mr. Brown, according to government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the matter.
The officer, Darren Wilson, has told the authorities that during the scuffle, Mr. Brown reached for the gun. It was fired twice in the car, according to forensics tests performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The first bullet struck Mr. Brown in the arm; the second bullet missed.
The forensics tests showed Mr. Brown’s blood on the gun, as well as on the interior door panel and on Officer Wilson’s uniform. Officer Wilson told the authorities that Mr. Brown had punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck.
The account of Officer Wilson’s version of events did not come from the Ferguson Police Department or from officials whose activities are being investigated as part of the civil rights inquiry.
I am utterly willing to believe that police screw up, that some cops are thugs with guns who should never have been trusted with them, that the cops are overly militarized, that the war on drugs has really screwed up law enforcement in the US, and that we need to fix things.
I’m not willing to believe that young thugs need to be cut some slack when they’re black. And I’m not willing to listen to anything coming from people who minimize the harm done by violent criminals.
Treyvon Martin assaulted and seriously injured George Zimmerman. He deserved to be shot, Zimmerman had every right to defend himself. If you don’t believe in self defense, including armed self defense, then I’m not going to listen to anything you have to say on the subject of crime, the criminal justice system, and reforming the police, because you’re clearly not on the side of the innocent (crime victims are innocent, too. So are potential crime victims, especially the ones who don’t want to be victimized).
This isn’t about Team Red v. Team Blue, this is about decent human beings who don’t want to be robbed, raped, or murdered, vs. people who either for political reasons (must get out the black vote) or selfish philosophical reasons (I’m not at serious risk of being robbed, raped, or murdered by inner city thugs / I can afford to hire armed guards, therefore I won’t value self defense) are more pro-criminal than they are anti-injustice.
Because the biggest injustice is to be robbed, raped, or murdered.
Given your ouvre here, it’s hard to avoid the impression that your metric for determining whether police acted inappropriately is the race of the alleged victim. If that is not the case, please give us examples where you acknowledge the police wrongfully employing lethal force against black victims.
Meanwhile, from the same article you just quoted:
Which is also consistent with blood spatter on the car and the gun. Is there some reason, other than the fact that Wilson is white and Johnson is black, that you place more weight on Wilson’s version?
In almost all encounters, it is very difficult to determine who initiated or escalated violence. But Johnson’s account is that Brown did not engage in any violence at all. That is not consistent with the claims of injuries to Wilson. If physical evidence of his injuries is ever established, it certainly trumps eye-witness accounts. The injuries have not been documented in public, but Wilson did go to the hospital, so there is probably a record which will be released at some point. The New York Times reports that Wilson really did claim to federal investigators that he was injured, and presumably they have access to the hospital records, so the claim is probably not absurd.
But at least Johnson’s account is better than the Daily Kos account that Veronica linked to that claims that Brown’s arm never entered the vehicle.
1: Not being a racist, I don’t track people by their skin color. So can’t tell you police victims by skin color.
Would you care to offer up some worth victims of police aggression? Here’s a hint: it helps if they’re not violent thugs.
2: I watched video of Michael Brown walking into a convenience store IIRC, grabbing something, strong-arming the clerk, and walking out. I have no sympathy for violent thugs, no matter what their skin color.
3: I don’t remember seeing any autopsy reports for Michael Brown consistent with having a car door slammed into his body. Do you have any?
4: Via CBS:
Family and friends recall a young man built like a lineman – 6-foot-3, nearly 300 pounds
Now, let’s look at that testimony again:
Mr. Johnson has said that Officer Wilson was the aggressor, backing up his vehicle and opening the door, which hit Mr. Johnson and Mr. Brown and then bounced back.
“He just reached his arm out the window and grabbed my friend around his neck, and he was trying to choke my friend,” Mr. Johnson told reporters after the shooting. “He was trying to get away, and the officer then reached out and grabbed his arm to pull him inside the car.”
A: All the reports said the cop pulled UP to the two guys walking down the middle of the street. How did the cop car get ahead of them?
B: So the cop backs up, gets behind the two, opens his door into them, said door which then rebounds closed. I’m trying to visualize this set of actions, and not really seeing it.
C: Then the cop reaches out and tries to strangle a 6′ 3″ 300 pound man with one arm through his car window? WTF?
5: I don’t necessarily believe the cop. I’m pretty positive I don’t believe Johnson (and if you can’t figure out why Johnson might have an incentive to lie, you’ve got serious problems). Unlike you and the author of the post, I’m reserving judgement, and simply pointing out that there are facts and claims available that, if true, would take the Michael Brown shooting from the realm of “racist cop assaults poor innocent black boy” to the realm of “shit happens”.
Is racism a problem in America? Of course it is! We call it “Affirmative Action”, and “Equal Opportunity” (because, as we all know, some people are more equal that others). Hell, we have a racist “Justice” Department that explicitly refuses to prosecute cases where blacks are accused of violating whites civil rights.
We are a long way from having a country where people are judged by the content of their character, rather than by the color of their skin. But we can, and should, blame the racists of Team Blue for that. So I’m ill inclined to listen to any complaints they have about government officials harming people based on the color of their skin.
Oh, just to be clear: I don’t believe it’s physically possible for someone inside a car (not an SUV / truck) with a closed door to reach out with one arm and strangle a 6’3 300 pound 18 year old male. The leverage isn’t there, the angles are all wrong. So unless I’m reading Johnson’s claims wrong (please tell me what I’m getting wrong here if I am getting something wrong), I don’t believe what Johnson’s saying because it just isn’t credible.
If Wilson has claimed anything physically impossible, please do point it out.
“Being willing to quarantine of the Ebola countries requires valuing American lives over non-American lives.”
You wrote “requires” here. So, is the following a fair representation of your views? “No-quarantine saves more non-Americans than it kills Americans; liberals, who consider it self-evident that all men are created equal, are successfully minimising total deaths by opposing a quarantine. However, this is the wrong goal to pursue.”
I’m not Greg so YMMV, but these are exactly my views. A travel ban to Liberia may or may not save more Liberian lives, but this should be irrelevant to the American government’s decision except insofar as dead Liberians somehow hurts American citizens (less trade perhaps.) In my view it is the duty of a state to maximize the well-being of its citizens and only its citizens in the same way it is the duty of a corporation to maximize its profit and only its profit. One would not decry, say, Coca-Cola for not cutting back on factories and salaries and whatever so it can donate the maximum amount of money to save lives in Africa, and one should not similarly decry a state for not doing the same thing. Individual citizens, of course, may believe in whatever moral system they want, and are welcome to themselves donate money to saving lives in Africa if they so desire, but they should not try to force the state to neglect its own duties to accommodate their morality.
1: There is no evidence that refusing to quarantine West Africa actually saves any West African lives. After all, Thomas Duncan came here, and died anyway.
2: Failing to quarantine West Africa allows disease carriers out where they they can infect a “virgin field” as it were. It may be that some West Africans are escaping their countries, and getting to places where they won’t be infected, and that a travel ban would have forced them to stay and get infected.
However, we know for sure that neither of those Nurses would have caught Ebola if Duncan had not been given his tourist visa.
So I would rephrase your statement as “No-quarantine might save more non-Americans than it kills Americans; liberals, who hate all members of the Red Tribe, and don’t really like Americans in general, are happy to see Americans die by opposing a quarantine, esp. since it allows them to feel morally superior while watching it happen. The correct goal goal for the US Government to pursue is the protection of American lives. Since quarantine will definitely save American lives, concerns about what it does to West African lives are, and should be, irrelevant to the American Government.”
If the US had a working Ebola vaccine available to cover every American, then quarantine would be a stupid idea. We don’t. The only way we can stop the spread of the disease is to stop the spread of the disease carriers.
Here’s the thing, Leo, I find this sentence utterly laughable and unbelievable: “liberals, who consider it self-evident that all men are created equal”
Note to all those who would respond to the below with “we can’t afford to be the world’s policeman”: We can’t afford to be the world’s doctor, or the world’s hospital. But that is what you’re proposing when you oppose a quarantine because of the effect it will have on non-Americans.
If Team Blue actually believed that, Obama would have taken out the Syria gov’t after it used WMD against Syrians. The US Army would be in Nigeria hunting down Boko Haram. And it would be fighting in Syria and Iraq to destroy ISIS. And Team Blue would be in full throated support of those activities.
If Team Blue actually believed that, “Honor” killings and FGM would be major topics of discussion, and essentially everyone in America would be on the same side on them.
Yes, American lives are always cheap to Team Blue, but what is verboten is American power, and American exceptionalism. The reason why Team Blue opposes quarantine is not because you value West African lives as much as American ones, but because quarantine would be a display of American power advancing American interests.
And that you can not abide.
Thanks for articulating this. I was wondering why I was feeling so cranky at the release notices for Naomi Klein’s new book (shorter: “if global warming is true, then capitalism is over; global warming is true, therefore capitalism is over”), and wanted very much to somehow tell her that you are not helping your cause by insisting that there is precisely one solution to a problem, therefore if anyone believes in the problem, they must therefore accept your solution. This will not result in more people accepting your solution; it will result in more people disbelieving in the problem. Aargh.
naomi klein has a special kind of idiocy all their own. I don’t throw that word around lightly, I assume most people as famous as who aren’t senators have at least something going for them, but she is just utterly, irredeemably without merit.
This is because global warming is her excuse to justify her socialism and not a thing she genuinely cares about.
Hence the term “watermelon” (green on the outside, red on the inside).
I think people who claim environmentalists are socialists in disguise have it completely sideways. To me it looks like environmentalists are rightists masquerading as leftists.
Does anyone know of a fruit that’s red on the outside but blue on the inside? Is there any?
Edit: the closest I could find was the dragon fruit, which is pink on the outside but white on the inside (white is a sort of conservative seeming color?).
This idea is explained very well here. and here.
It’s important to draw a clear line between romantic eco-puritanism and scientific environmentalism, or “ecomodernism”. The Breakthrough Institute is a lot like Scott’s climate change reframing, only it’s about getting the blue tribe to support new technology and economic growth. Here’s their takedown of Naomi Klein.
A strawberry can be red on the outside and blue on the inside, if you catch it at just the right stage of overripeness and mold infestation.
Thanks for the link, that was very interesting
Scott: Please stop using your powers for evil.
Rule 34 of the internet is if you can imagine it, there is porn of it.
Rule 35 is that if you can imagine it, Scott Alexander can find a link to it.
This has been amply demonstrated by thousands of pages of blue hyperlinks.
A useful rule of logical reasoning is that if P is true regardless of whether Q is, then Q is not evidence for P. If you know a priori that you can find a given article on the internet (whether or not your argument is true), the link isn’t evidence for that argument.
With that said, time to quote:
One post from the Washington Post: I’ll take that as limited evidence for Ferguson spilling over into issues of American exceptionalism. Two posts from Huffington Post: I think they publish everything and I’m not convinced that rule 35 wouldn’t be true if limited to that website. I know nothing about Fair Observer or the Nation. But the last three are by feminist.org (feminism), thenewcivilrightsmovement.com (gay rights) and 350.org (global warming). These are websites about feminism, gay rights and global warming, respectively. If you want to convince me that something is being related to Judaism you cannot quote a rabbi’s blog. Talking about Judaism and current events is all that they do!
Or rather, in an ideal world that wouldn’t convince me. In practice it probably will, because we have a huge bias towards taking things as representative. That’s why we believe that we stand a chance of becoming sick with Ebola, or having our children shot up at schools. If you link me to an article about Buddhist monks ice fishing, I will believe that ice fishing is, if not expected of Buddhist monks, at least fairly typical. Please do not link to Buddhist ice-fishing articles.
The solution? Limit yourself. If you want to argue that something is representative of liberals/conservatives/democrats/republicans/feminists/whatever, limit your searching to a limited set representative websites of those groups (they’re not hard to find).
You’ll be delivering better arguments (when your support really exists), you’ll have a better sense of the strength of your arguments, you won’t be promoting a practice that is currently problematic, but will become a major problem as “sources” multiply further and more people copy you.
Also, it won’t take me 24 hours to try to read an article without being tripped up, and you’ll have contributed ever so slightly to crucial research into formal verification of computer programs. Please?
(By the way, the Reza Aslan interview was on CNN, not Fox, and his opponent was the liberal HBO comedian Bill Maher.)
This summarizes the whole piece, I think: “When an issue gets tied into a political narrative, it stops being about itself and starts being about the wider conflict between tribes until eventually it becomes viewed as a Referendum On Everything.”
Fantastic analysis – I look forward to coming back for more. I just wanted to say that while I believe that your main thesis is correct, I think this “expansion” is justifiable. If the mainas and phobias you speak of here are true, then it is inevitable that they will be the primary cause of various “issues” coming into existence in the first place, in which case it would be appropriate to view the issue as such a referendum.
I share your pessimism too. You don’t know how to fix this – no one does. It’s as if we are fighting a civil war without fatalities. I don’t know if it is a prelude to an actual civil war or if it is perhaps an entirely new phenomenon. It can’t last forever, though.
“If the [manias] and phobias you speak of here are true, then it is inevitable that they will be the primary cause of various ‘issues’ coming into existence in the first place, in which case it would be appropriate to view the issue as such a referendum.”
There are multiple causes at work in each case; defaulting to looking at the Other Side’s Partisan Bias as the salient cause (or even looking at Both Sides’ Partisan Biases) is epistemically unhygienic because it reinforces confirmation bias. Having a grand theory that can explain everything (a) makes it hard to notice all the interesting complicated mechanisms that also contribute to the phenomena you’re seeing, and more importantly (b) makes it hard to appreciate the hits to your model. (This is risky even when the grand theory can explain lots of things! In some ways riskier.)
If you’re worried about bias, the best approach is to avoid politically charged topics; and if you must debate something politically charged, do your very best to focus on highly specific, factual, empirically testable, noncentral-to-your-interests-and-passions object-level subtopics. Debate ‘what behavioral signs do and don’t predict capacity to suffer in 2-month-old fetuses?’ or ‘what survey data is out there attesting to the affects of abortion availability on parent-child bonding?’, not ‘do (women/fetuses) have an Unconditional Right to (bodily autonomy/life)?’ and not ‘are the biases of (The Tribe I Dislike) responsible for this issue’s polarization and mishandling?’
Even ‘are the biases of (all political partisans) responsible for this issue’s polarization and mishandling?’ is risky, because Tribe Politics itself can become an irrationally stigmatized outgroup. Confirmation bias and attitude polarization don’t care whether how admirably contrarian and above-the-fray you are.
David Brin talks up this aspect a lot on his blog, describing the current political divide as the Nth phase of the endless North-South conflict.
Here’s some surprisingly good news coverage on the Ebola situation.
I think many of the aims of the climate change crowd could be just as reasonably approached from a “peak oil” rationale. This would be more acceptable to conservatives for whom global warming is now a poisoned well.
See, this is the only problem with trying to comment on your interesting and thoughtful essays. They quickly accrete hundreds of comments that can be difficult to work through to avoid redundancy. This time I’m just going to throw caution to the wind and weigh in without reading through. there’s a valid and important core to the point you’re making in this article, but it saddens me that the point is diluted by what I view as your somewhat cartoonish and unfair characterization of the conservative worldview. Our thought is not remotely guided by reactions to “scary foreigners” and the like. It calls to mind the research I’m sure you’ve commented on showing that conservatives are better at putting their heads into the minds of liberals than vice versa.
Environmentalism *is* somewhat tied to nationalism in countries which have strong sense of paganism or pagan past.
What could be done about this whole mess of fight between two tribes? In FPTP (“winner takes it all”) system, such as the US, it is probably caused by Duverger’s law. Due to the influence of large and powerful countries, it is felt even outside these countries, as it is exported via cultural and academic influence. However, it seems to me that even in Proportional Representation system Duverger’s law still exists, it is simply pushed to the higher level of coalition building – members of parliament have to select one Prime Minister, thus we have a situation that is somewhat similar to FPTP system. This is why even in countries with PR system we usually see two large traditional parties, one of which gets to form the government (with smaller coalition partners). The opposition party usually gets no minister portfolios.
However, one way to avoid “us vs them” dynamics is to avoid having two big clusters. Instead we should have many small groups which pursue different policies and their voting/debating coalitions become predictable only after the issue being debated is known (at present, you can predict that the left will cooperate with the left, and the right will cooperate with the right, even though you might not be aware exactly what issue is being debated). People should feel that they are pushed by other people from *all* sides (both sides, if we assume one-dimensionality). But we still have Duverger’s law which (in the long run) forces people into two large clusters.
So, a question is, how would a system that eliminates Duverger’s law at all levels look like?
In other words, Moloch again?
I think the correct breakdown is that environmentalism is Romantic rather than Enlightenment, rather than global vs. national vs. personal or liberal vs. conservative. The Romantic/Enlightenment dichotomy doesn’t break cleanly down the middle of the political spectrum; right now leftist discourse tends to rely more on Romantic appeals, but that hasn’t always been the case.
“Environmentalism *is* somewhat tied to nationalism in countries which have strong sense of paganism or pagan past.”
is that the source or the result? Nationalism has certainly produced attempts at pagan revival, and so has environmentalism.
Would appointing an infectious disease specialist or epidemiologist as ebola czar rather than a politician have been conceding too much to the red team?
I keep mixing up the red and blue teams in comments. Did they have to be named counterintuitively?
I’m guessing you’re not American? “Red” and “blue” have pretty well-established political connotations over here, although they’re quite recent (dating from the closely contested 2000 presidential election) and were more or less arbitrary at their inception. Nothing to do with the older association of red with communism, nor with the British colors for Labour and the Tories respectively.
I’m tempted to say we just do it to wind up the Europeans. Kind of like sticking with customary measures.
Re: red Republicans being “arbitrary”:
Nothing is arbitrary.
An interesting side issue would be the “only Nixon could go to China” effect. GWB can massively expand a government program with a prescription drug benefit and Obama can order drone strikes at will or arm bands of militants with no flak.
Also, interesting to note how measures in Africa have been more consistent with red team thinking than blue team.
Very timely post, since Roger Scruton just put out a book this month entitled “How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism”. Here is his actual project:
The environmental movement, he contends, is philosophically confused and has unrealistic agendas. Its sights are directed at the largescale events and the confrontation between international politics and multinational business. But Scruton argues that no large-scale environmental project, however well-intentioned, will succeed if it is not rooted in small-scale practical reasoning. Seeing things on a large scale promotes top-down solutions, managed by unaccountable bureaucracies that fail to assess local conditions and are rife with unintended consequences. Scruton argues for the greater efficacy of local initiatives over global schemes, civil association over political activism, and small-scale institutions of friendship over regulatory hyper-vigilance.
I think this appeals to the conservative conscience a lot more than your silly hypothetical.
Scruton’s argument seems aimed at ‘get conservatives to do at least a little pro-environment stuff, while continuing to oppose all the policy initiatives they’ve been opposing’. Whereas Scott’s argument seems aimed at ‘get conservatives to completely flip policy views; or imagine how they’d talk in the alternative universe where they were already flipped’. They’re both interesting experiments.
I recently talked to someone who argued that the media was hyping Ebola in order to distract us from ISIS. He also recommended the works of Noam Chomsky to me.
sounds like something moldbug would say back around 2008
This article has now been linked on Marginal Revolution, and the comment thread there is very interesting. I think the commenter dan111, in particular, made some excellent points. For instance:
I think this is basically true, and many of his other criticisms of the piece are also spot-on. Above, I did my best to produce an anti-abortion position in left-liberal language – but I’m not naïve enough to think it has any chance of resonating with actually existing left-liberals, any more than Scott’s argument above could have any resonance with Conservatives. Fundamentally:
I think this is true. Scott cheerfully admits he barely knows any conservatives, and he is likely far more familiar with libertarian and even NRx arguments than conservative ones. So while I don’t blame him for failing the Turing test, it does mean he has asymmetric insight into the red and blue tribes.
One half interesting, one half moaning that this is US-centric. Yes, we get it, Americans tend to talk about things in an American context. Why the heck would you expect anything else?
I think maybe it’s because much of the rest of the world has a relatively high awareness of how some things differ in America from what they’re used to, whereas many Americans don’t have the corresponding awareness of how things differ outside America. There are obvious reasons for this, but it’s not that hard to understand why the asymmetry might irk non-Americans sometimes.
Because universal conclusions are better than american-centric conclusions, obviously. For a start, you can draw on universal human things like “fear of disease” for them.
I see very little value in dan111’s posts, which are mostly kvetching about not being understood and pointing out Scott’s self-admitted incompetence at properly modeling the Red tribe. Overwhelmingly, the thread over at MR seem to be much more meanspirited name calling (there’s a comment calling the post swill without support) and very little mental introspection (notice that one commentator thinks the liberals come off much better in the narrative post, when both paragraphs were explicitly constructed to be parallel and Scott clearly implies that the Blue tribe likes touchy feely ineffectual measures over concrete ones stated by the read tribe, but only the Red tribe gets accused of extra things!)
What value do you see in the thread?
Regarding the breakdown of Ebola quarantine positions:
I think there is an element of chance. A single act or statement can set off a preference cascade which provokes its mirror opposite on the opposing side. If the President had come out day 1 with a travel ban, it is perfectly likely that Reds would have found a way to criticize it.
That said, there are limits. Witness the Red criticism of the President over his “red line” comments on Syria and subsequent waffling on whether to bomb. The president was criticized for warmongering for setting a red line, then for rushing to bomb, then for not bombing. But ultimately, what undid his response was the fact that not even the Blues wanted any part of a campaign at that time. Witness the Red support for the anti-ISIS campaign (with criticism that it should be stronger).
The principle that I find best predicts the positions of Reds and Blues is concentric loyalty. Reds are concentric, Blues are inverse. In the case of Ebola, this means that the primary concern for Blues is helping Africans, even if that means sending soldiers to Liberia, even if this raises the risk of US cases from trivial to non-trivial. The priority for Reds will be as little risk to the homeland as possible. No Red I have seen has advocated against sending aid to West Africa, Reds are big on charity and helping the needy. But they don’t want ANY risk over here. And we’ve clearly got a risk.
Summary: Quarantine does fit the Red narrative better, but this is a marginal enough case that it is at least conceivable that the positions could be reversed had things gone differently.
“On the Left (and token libertarian) sides, the New Yorker has been publishing articles on how involuntary quarantines violate civil liberties and “embody class and racial biases”, ”
Except, that’s not the argument the Left is making. The Left is saying that a travel ban is ineffective because a travel ban just in the U.S. won’t keep ebola from spreading to other countries; a travel ban against West Africa will probably make it more likely for Ebola to spread faster in West Africa. The net effect is that a travel ban increases the amount of virus making it more likely to be transmitted despite fewer travelers. A travel ban might slow down how quickly the virus gets to the U.S., but, then when the virus does come, it will come faster and harder.
It’s interesting that the Red/Blue difference goes beyond just being tribal. The Red team’s arguments are simple, emotional, and wrong. The Blue team’s arguments are based on facts and evidence.
It is interesting, isn’t it? The tough question is whether this is caused by the Red tribe’s ignorance, perfidy, or oil companies.
It’s the Koch brothers, obviously.
? How does that work?
A travel ban is likely to reduce the presence of Western doctors, either by explicitly forbidding they travel to West Africa, or by strongly signalling that they may be prevented from returning home or traveling to the United States. If you believe that palliative care reduces the risk of disease transfer from sick individuals, and that western doctors improve palliative care (either by having better training/tools or just adding numbers of doctors), then reducing the availability of western doctors can get to the kilodeath or even megadeath range pretty quickly.
This isn’t a certain result — Nigeria’s been able to contain the disease very well, as have a few jurisdictions even within Sierra Leone, just through internal tools — but it’s a pretty easy model to construct and believe, and from a utilitarian perspective a very compelling argument.
A quite comfortable quarantine could be set up for doctors, perhaps in Guantanamo or some stateside facility. I think most doctors would find this a reasonable measure to protect their families. Right now a doctor may not want to go to Africa because there is no such measure in place.
I’m actually kinda curious why /this/ isn’t being proposed instead, but I dunno enough about the exact details of applying such a thing and it may not scale to the number of people involved.
But even if it were a good idea, it’s separate to the whole-nation-travel-ban quarantine concept.
I think you’re being over-literal about what people are meaning by “quarantine” in this context. It can easily serve as shorthand for “first stop people there from travelling here, and then make special exceptions as needed for medical personnel (with proper screening, of course).” It does not exclude chartering special humanitarian flights, any more than supporting the rule “stop at red lights” means people don’t think ambulances are allowed to run them.
When people say “why isn’t there a quarantine?” they’re saying “why didn’t you enact the very simple and obvious travel restrictions that would have kept that guy from coming here and infecting (so far) two other people? Forget perfection, you’re not even trying.”
We know that quarantine has been a fairly effective means of containing disease even under pretty primitive conditions. It’s a proven and robust solution that can conceivably be instituted with very few resources. The administration seems to be saying we don’t need quarantine because we have medical science but by medical science they mean a large unwieldy bureaucracy that thinks politically first and scientifically second.
I’m not sure that’s really the case. I can come up with a compelling argument where availability of travel to West Africa has relatively little impact on the eventual containment of this epidemic, compared to even a small risk of a high-transmission event in the United States. Where even though the heartfelt compelling thing is to try to help, following your emotions to try and assist only risks greater harm.
I’m erring to more doctors on site rather than fewer, personally, but it’s certainly not /obviously/ wrong, and several versions are even based on facts and evidence.
By the way, your own image gives a value for Rotherham of 0.296 Gamergates, not 0.24.
>There’s not really any way to spin this issue in favor of the Blue Tribe narrative. The Blue Tribe just has to grudgingly admit that maybe this is one of the few cases where their narrative breaks down. So their incentive is to try to minimize ISIS, to admit it exists and is bad and try to distract the conversation to other issues that support their chosen narrative more. That’s why you’ll never see the Blue Tribe gleefully cheering someone on as they call ISIS “savages”. It wouldn’t fit the script.
I’m pretty sure you’re wrong about this. Blue Tribe-ers just have to talk about how ISIS are basically the same as the Red Tribe, y’know, ’cause we all know that ISIS are motivated by misogyny and fundamentalist religion.
ISIS are just too unpopular for not attacking them to be a good political move. The ideal strategy is to associate them with something you oppose already, so you can say “see what happens!?”
I’ve specifically seen blue-tribers cheer on attacks on ISIS that included the word “barbarians”, which is basically the same as “savages”.
(As an aside, I always find it strange that people seemingly can’t tell the difference between ISIS and Al Qaeda. Talking about them hijacking planes in order to become martyrs. Very odd.)
You are aware that ISIS used to be Al Qaeda’s branch in Iraq, right? (though the rules for what counts as “Al Qaeda” or “a branch of Al Qaeda”, are not clear cut)
No, the rules are very simple: anything they say.
Who is “they”? ISIS? Al Qaeda? Who can “rightfully” speak in the name of Al Qaeda? If my cousin Ben claims to be a branch of Al Qaeda, is he?
As a rough heuristic, when someone says an issue is really simple I usually assume he turned his brain off and will just be spouting party slogans.
How about you give an example that is not clear-cut, rather than putting idiotic words in my mouth?
The rule is that the central leadership of Al Qaeda has to approve of them.
Isis broke with the Al Qaeda leadership because Isis disobeyed their order not to kill Muslim civilians.
(not the same anonymous as above)
Obama himself referred to ISIS as Al Qaeda’s JV Team, so I don’t think it’s that strange that people lump them together.
Once upon a time, they were. Al Qaeda has repudiated them since then.
No, they repudiated al Qaeda, first. More specifically, they killed the envoy.
TIL… anyway, said connection is broken.
Did you see “Vox sentences” today?
“1. We did it, folks. We successfully politicized Ebola”
“The Rotherham scandal was an incident in an English town …”
Sorry, that’s missing the point. What happened was that after decades of Pakistani pimps grooming underage white girls all over England and the practice being covered up by Labour politicians and the police, one city, Rotherham, finally issued an official report on the practice.
For example, I’d been hearing about “grooming” for years, and finally wrote about it in 2013, a year before the Rotherham report came out:
If a runaway trolley were about to smash into a bus containing 100 trapped members of the Harlem Jazz Orchestra, would you push a wholly innocent man named Chip Ellsworth III onto the tracks to stop the accident? What if the bus held 100 members of the New York Philharmonic and the guilt-free man’s name was Tyrone Payton?
Would your politics have any relevance to whether you’d prefer to kill the white man to save the black musicians or to kill the black man to save the white musicians?
In a fascinating 2009 academic paper by four social psychologists, The motivated use of moral principles, UC Irvine students who identified as politically conservative were found to be racially evenhanded. When given the scenario about killing Chip to save 100 Harlemites, conservatives were no more or less likely to agree it’s the right thing to do than when told to ponder killing the man with the cornerback’s name to save 100 classical musicians.
In striking contrast, liberal students displayed greater bloodthirstiness when presented with the scenario that gave them an opportunity to kill the WASP to help the blacks. This liberal desire to shove a white man to his death to salvage blacks rather than a black man to salvage whites was extremely statistically significant (p = .002).
(What does this have to do with the post? Seems like Open Thread material.)
I feel more reluctant to sacrifice Chip Ellsworth III than Tyrone Payton. (Thoe names, incidentally, are a really weird way of communicating race.)
I … guess this confirms that I belong to some sort of violet/purple tribe?
What do you make of Chris Mooney?
Chris Mooney is the science journalist who has never ever heard of liberal creationism, of the liberal assault on IQ researchers?
Yes, that one. Empirically speaking, IQ research in group differences is largely balanced in favor of hereditarian, but in practice it is favoring the environmentalist side due to inherent liberal biases in academia and entrenched views in society.
In fact, I remember the other day seeing a screed against Davide Piffer being written by some deranged SJW that argued that Piffer be assassinated because his views are “racist” and can’t be countered with evidence.
In my review of Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind,” I argued that the central dividing line in the 21st Century between white conservatives and white liberals is that conservatives tend to have concentric loyalties while liberals tend to have leapfrogging loyalties that make them feel like they are better than conservatives. (Of course, nonwhites are encouraged by white liberals to have concentric loyalties):
So, sure, Ebola Guy from Africa gives ebola to a couple of Americans, but that’s a small price for them to pay for me not being one of those horrible white conservatives.
Scott actually made a very similar point in this piece: https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/04/22/right-is-the-new-left/
The leapfrogging theory of liberalism is false.
Sailer writes: “to root for Manchester United’s soccer team is conservative…if you are a Mancunian. If you live in Portland, Oregon, it’s liberal.”
But hey, do European liberals follow Nascar? Of course not!
Speaking as a right-winger, liberals are very consistent – just as they say, they always root for the underdog, whom they perceive to be “oppressed”. And it just happens that white Americans, as an ethnic group, are the global overdog (no one can honestly deny it), and therefore, from a white American perspective, liberals have to be anti-themselves. But black (or female an so on, similar reasoning applies) liberals are perfectly allowed to favor their own type and still be liberals; their loyalty doesn’t have to leapfrog, because blacks and women are perceived to be lower than and oppressed by white straight men. European liberals are perfectly allowed to put Europeans before Americans (I know some who are disgustingly racist towards yankees), but never before third world immigrants. Here in Italy, southern Italians are the underdog, so northern liberals empathize with southerners, and southern liberals… also do – no leapfrogging.
As for “soccer”, which Sailer says is an overdog liberal favorite, well, soccer is seen as the underdog because it’s the favorite sport of the “rest of the world”, which is the underdog relative to America.
If sometimes liberals seem inconsistent with the overdog-underdog principle, it’s because:
1) an objectively overdog group manages to get away with being considered underdog
2) some groups are simultaneously “oppressed” and “oppressor”. For example only few liberals speak against oppression of various minorities in Muslim countries, but that’s because they don’t want to be perceived as favoring the perceived American oppression of Muslims.
3) another essential component of liberalism is that great “canopy” institutions (the federal government, the UN) are seen as disembodied spirits with no self interest. They are not considered to be players in the game pursuing their own goals, and therefore can’t be “overdogs” – they have no place in the totem pole but sit outside it.
This is canny and well-written, and I support it. Its central point, that the “leap-frogging” or self-hatred that liberals are sometimes accused of is an artifact of perception, with white Americans looking mostly at white Americans (and, in other countries, analogous things happening with their own power groups), and missing that it’s the power dynamics that matter, seems well-supported and strongly explanatory.
Just for clarity, I – the anonymous who wrote the refutation of Sailer – don’t actually believe that underdog groups are “oppressed”.
Some of the groups perceived as underdogs aren’t even such (example: Jews).
I’m actually a right-winger.
In what sense are you characterizing Jews as “not underdogs”?
Listen, privilege exists on multiple axes. Someone can be privileged by virtue of being, say, white, upper-middle-class, and well-educated while still being disadvantaged by being Jewish in a society that’s built around the assumption that most people are Christian or Christian-ish. Obviously a white upper-middle-class Jew is on the whole less oppressed than a poor black Christian, and Jews are definitely disproportionately white and probably disproportionately upper-middle-class, so it seems like Jews don’t face much disprivilege overall. (And you’re right, we don’t face much.) But the fair comparison is between a white upper-middle-class Jew and a white upper-middle-class Christian or Christian-ish person.
For instance, I live in a society in which I have to change my schedule and/or arrange for someone to cover for me at work to get the day off for my most important religious holiday when it falls on a weekday; a comparable Christian lives in a society which arranges itself to provide the day off and collectively joins in the festivity. Because of other privileges I possess, I have access to the resources to make that possible for me, but it’s still an expenditure of energy on my part rather than the universe arranging itself for me. It’s not a big deal in comparison to the oppression that other people face on other axes, but it’s still a consequence of living in a society organized around the assumption that everyone is something that I’m not.
I support every word you say here regarding intersectional privilege as long as you don’t start pretending this means that non-Jews are privileged over Jews as a class.
Which to your great credit you haven’t, you’ve correctly made the discussion about the set of white upper-middle class educated Jews vs the set white upper-middle class educated non-Jews. I just wanted to point this extremely important map/territory distinction out for the sake of the neutral reader, as it were.
Probably worth noting here that one of the advantages of being largely upper-middle class is that Jews, unlike most other minorities, have generally been able to segregate themselves almost entirely in either Blue territory or the bluest urban centers of Red territory.
I bet surveying the minority of Jews residing deep in Red territory would turn up considerably more evidence of the hostility that used to be prevalent everywhere before WW2.
Okay Zorgon I think I really don’t understand what you mean, because if I were to say that non-Jews are privileged over Jews as a class, what I would mean by that is exactly what I wrote above. What would you take it as meaning?
After all, poor black non-Jews would have advantages over poor black Jews in North America, assuming there are some, for roughly the same reasons as middle-class white non-Jews have advantages over middle-class white Jews. (Indeed, the poor black Jews would have the disadvantages of being Jewish compounded by having less access to resources to compensate for them, and by being an even smaller minority in their communities.)
like you say yourself, the fact that your religious holiday isn’t on Sunday “isn’t a big deal”. You have to do more to make a case that your group is currently oppressed.
This is part of what I meant when I said that Jews are no underdogs:
It doesn’t matter whether one group’s high wealth is earned or the result of external advantages. It’s incompatible with what I mean by being underdogs. I don’t mean victims of injustice. I simply mean people of inferior status. It is the left who tends to make the inference that any group of inferior status must be victim of injustice.
I said we’re not very oppressed.
And please taboo “status”; I have no idea what you mean by it.
(Also, I’m told that Christmas is very frequently not on Sunday and people often get the day off for it too.)
There are two types of class distinction that get thrown around regarding oppression.
One is the classical sense of the word – that all other things being equal, one class of people will be favoured over another.
The other is the SJW “institutional” sense of the word – that one class is favoured over the other in all circumstances due to overwhelming cultural animus towards the oppressed class (and since this is usually presented as absolute and universal, I can only assume some kind of space magic or perhaps the work of a rogue GAI).
You’re very clearly using the first definition, and I applaud that.
I don’t see why these two possibilities are inconsistant:
1) Liberals always root for the underdog which for white people in the US usually means “leapfrogging”.
2) Liberals reflexively favor whatever is alien and flaunt their “leapfrogging” loyalties as a sign of in-group status.
All you have to imagine is that rule 1 determines how earnest liberal intellectuals arrive at their judgements about the relative value of things. The bulk of mainstream liberals don’t perform any searching analysis of who is oppressed and oppressor in any given situatuation, they recieve it from these thought leaders and trust them to have properly applied rule 1.
Over time, libs as a whole get used to being told that some familliar mainstream American thing is terrible, ignorant, oppressive, and gauche while some alien or ethnic thing is noble and sophisticated and rule 2 emerges. This creates an opportunity for manipulative counterculture-based social climbers to use rule 2 to gain status just by embracing something which is distant or alien without ever having to examine it in light of rule 1.
It’s hard for me to imagine a circumstance where rule 2 would come to be without the prior existance of rule 1. It is also hard to believe that, given the existance of ambition and laziness, rule 1 could be widely recognized without rule 2 eventually emerging.
“Ferguson obviously supports the Blue Tribe’s narrative.”
Giant black guy goes on crime spree, shoves around tiny convenience store clerk while stealing cigars on video, attacks cop in his police cruiser when cop tells him to stop walking down the middle of the street, gun goes off in police car, crime spree guy gets shot, black mob burns down wrong convenience store and paints “Snitches Get Stitches” …
One saving grace of SSC at least is the new commentors. Hopefully more HBD people comment on here rather than SJWs.
Anyway, Steve is right. Ferguson can only support blue tribe’s narratives if they thoroughly skew and doctor it.
Similarly, Ms. Jeantel’s testimony at George Zimmerman’s trial suggested that Trayvon Martin’s attack on Zimmerman was a gay-bashing. But, tens of millions of liberals remain convinced that Zimmerman attacked the 12-year-old Trayvon out of White Privilege.
It’s all about who controls the Megaphone.
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But forget the above. What this is about are the empirical facts of the matter, and how they are skewed (largely by the left) to fit their narratives. There is a preponderance of data behind biological criminality of blacks and some other groups. One such datum being MAOA, amongst many other data. This is definitely not in support of the leftist interpretation of Ferguson, is it? I wonder why Scott doesn’t write more about leftists straying contrary of the facts vis-à-vis HBD?
This is very whiny. Chill.
Thing with Ferguson is that it was never political to begin with. A thug who robbed a store was rightfully shot when he attempted to harm a police officer. He happened to be black (as HBD would predict) and thus the issue became one of “racism.” “Racism” is naught but an insult used by leftists to stifle discussion of truth and facts. It’s the same insult used to rail against honest scientists who are merely following the data where it leads them vis-à-vis race differences in intelligence and crime. Ultimately this whole situation is a fault of leftists. If they paid any heed to the scientists who do research on topics like this, nothing like this would have happened, with blacks in a furore looting businesses. This is not political. The leftists have made it political.
You sure do sound totally apolitical there!
Scott previously named this guy as the one who was impersonating him. Was that ever disconfirmed?
The question is whether it was ever proved. IT WASN’T. Not only do I use an ISP that uses dynamic IPs, shuffling, I assume, around the whole Southern Ontario region where I am located currently (actually don’t live here primarily,) but I think Scott has an entirely irrational notion that all who are pro-HBD on his blog are the same person. It is indeed disconcerting that the actual imitator might live closer to me than I would have imagined, but even then, it isn’t me. It’s someone with the same ISP. The person impersonating Scott is definitely an SJW rather than any HBDer. Truth of the matter here is that Scott is accusing me of doing this mainly as a way to insult the entire field of HBD out of some personal agenda. Perhaps he isn’t as grey as he tries to convince us?
Either Scott is biased and lying or someone associated with HBD is biased and lying. Which do I believe?
Are you sure your response isn’t predicated by some irrational hatred of HBD?
Ballast: for what it’s worth I’m fine with many aspects of HBD but I still think you’re a big wanker.
This seems like an easy claim to check: Scott can look through the IPs for Ballast’s other comments and see if they change periodically and all trace to southern Ontario.
Also, comment reported for gratuitous insults to our host based on zero evidence. Dude, whether you’re telling the truth here or not, you should know better than to try crap like that.
Insults? To Scott? No, it’s more pointing out the truth rather than insulting. It’s not hard to notice that Scott doesn’t have a good opinion of HBD, contrary to HBD’s well-vetted provenience in mainstream, reliable science. He pretends to be grey, but who’s he fooling?
Um, where exactly are you noticing this? Did you miss the part of this very post where Scott referred approvingly to a blog that literally has “HBD” in its name? As far as “good opinions of HBD” go, that alone puts him well into the top quintile.
(I think I’ve used my italics quota for the day.)
I’m genuinely confused. If you’re actually really confident that Scott was just wrong about this because of the way your ISP works, why did you then accuse him of anti-HBD activity? This doesn’t make sense if you’re telling the truth about the ISP thing, but it doesn’t make sense as some kind of strategic move against him either.
Nothing Ballast says about anything makes rhetorical sense.
Not plausible, dude. There aren’t that many HBD bloggers in the first place. The chances of there being another one that’s located on your ISP and in your geographical area and who’s interested enough in Scott to do that sort of thing is very small already; things like that do happen sometimes, but I’ve only seen it when information spreads through offline social networks. If it’s not you, in other words, it’s someone you know.
And now you’re asking us to believe in this convenient IP collision? Back when I was doing user-facing administration, if someone had made an analogous claim, I wouldn’t even hesitate before pulling the trigger.
Do you know how many people live in my geographical area to even comment on that? And I don’t have any interest in Scott, I only found this blog and started commenting with the post on political tribalism, that too when some HBD blogger tweeted about it, I think Jayman. And unless you have some idea about the number of people who frequent HBD websites, don’t even comment. It could number the millions, some bloggers rack up hundreds of comments for each post. And lastly, I have no interest in impersonating Scott in any way, whatever that will accomplish. I did see the comments by the impersonator on some blogs I check out, but I didn’t understand that they were impersonations since I didn’t know Scott’s actual name or blog. He goes by Scott Alexander everywhere. And I have plenty of reason to believe that Scott is not quite pro-HBD. He never includes an HBD viewpoint in his blog posts and doesn’t link to any HBD blogs or anything like that. Not that he is vehemently anti-HBD, but I can only hope that an increase in HBD commentors around here will be a turning point.
Not precisely, but I don’t need to. More people in your area (or, more precisely, more people served by the local branch of your ISP) makes it more likely that it covers people with the required characteristics, but it also means the chances of an IP collision are proportionally lower.
The biggest limiting factor isn’t “near you”, it’s “interested in Scott” (although “HBD” probably comes within an order of magnitude). But “near you” is good for a few bits of entropy, and you don’t need all that many.
There’s also the fact that there is more than one dynamic IP providing ISP in my area, so the number is far lower than the estimated population of internet users. But the fact still stand that I was only recently introduced to SSC, while on the other hand I’ve been following HBD blogs for years now where reference to Scott has been made disparagingly (especially concerning the NRx FAQ.) It could just be one of these people who by chance lives near me (and many people live in Toronto and use my particular ISP and was probably assigned my current IP before.) But I still hold that this whole thing was not done by any HBD follower, but rather by SJWs who wish to tar HBD, or as far as I can discern from the faked comments on GNXP. Other comments by the impersonator, which I’ve only seen on one other site, follow in the same vein.
>The question is whether it was ever proved. IT WASN’T.
>The person impersonating Scott is definitely an SJW rather than any HBDer.
>insult the entire field of HBD out of some personal agenda.
Yup, it’s confirmed.
Or not. I laid out the reasons why it isn’t me behind this thing. Unless you or anyone else has more proof beside a coincidental IP conflict with a dynamic IP, I am really not too interested since it really has nothing to do with me anyway.
This poster is banned indefinitely for several reasons.
1. Statements like “Racism is naught but an insult used by leftists to stifle discussion of truth and facts.” I think there might be a few other things racism is.
2. You’ve made like a dozen comments on here now and every one has been pushing the same line. I try to tolerate people making taboo comments here, but I don’t have much sympathy for one-issue folks who are here only to stick taboo stuff on every post. I feel like I have more than enough people here willing to give me the HBD side of things, and most of them are less in-your-face about it than you are.
3. I still think you’re impersonating me. I mean, I guess it’s possible that it’s someone else from Ontario with your IP. But then, I suppose in that case I’m unfairly thinking worse of you because I’m lumping you into a large group based on your area of origin, then condemning that entire group because of the criminal actions of a few of its members. I’m sure you wouldn’t know anything about that.
my quick and dirty answer to why red tribe is pro quarantine? the core belief of red tribe is that america is the shining city upon a hill, and their duty is to defend it. the core belief of team blue is that america isn’t the shining city yet, but it can be, and their duty is to build it. keeping something bad out is the natural inclination of defenders, but is too simple a task to interest builders.
Also, there is an easier way to get the red tribe on board with climate change. decide on how big you want your carbon tax, then write a bill that does nothing but A, imposes that tax, B, cuts other taxes slightly more, say 5%. Not a rebate program, not tax credits, actual tax reductions. You can pick whatever taxes you want to cut, but it is best if you can eliminate whole classes of tax, the bigger the better (payroll taxes would be ideal). Then get up there, tell the world you have a plan to save the environment and cut taxes, and dare republicans to vote against it. any time any republican objects, just shout “i want to cut your taxes and save the planet, but republicans would rather protect the oil companies.” If you’re cutting the payroll tax, you can even say “I want to cut taxes, save social security and protect the environment, but republicans would rather protect the oil companies.” You’d win in a landslide. the biggest obstacle would be getting the left onboard with simply cutting that many taxes, the instinct (and interest group pressure) to meddle is just too strong.
This has already been tried. It didn’t work. Google “John McCain”
It won’t work for a republican, it would work for a democrat. Presidents accomplish the most when they steal the other side’s issues, and taxes are the ur-issue of the right. They’re the thin glue that holds a disparate coalition together. Climate change is much less essential to the left.
Many of the democratic politician and public policy guys who have advocated for cap-and-trade have included compensating tax cuts as part of the package. Hasn’t got them anywhere.
A few have, I wouldn’t say many. And it didn’t go anywhere because, as I said, the party won’t embrace the idea, they’re too wedded to the hope of taxes going up for both ideological and practical reasons.
> If I were in charge of convincing the Red Tribe to line up behind fighting global warming, here’s what I’d say:
D…do we have permission to try and spread this on social media seriously? I’m not the most versed person in ethics but that seems like a serious net good for humanity (sans nuking China…)
Clean energy theoretically ought to fit right in. All in our own boundaries, promoting US industries, no need for importing oil, technological leader of the world, technological problems are grist for yankee ingenuity, don’t let the Communists get ahead of us — etc.
But the oil companies started their memes long ago, and I doubt that view is reversible.
Oh, please. Big Oil spent hundreds of millions of dollars on alternative energy during the 70s, and lost their shirt.
If they thought the money was there, they would invest. But it’s not, and they won’t.
Reading this comment and those above it has led me to a realization that I hadn’t quite been able to formulate the last time the subject came up.
Previously, we’ve had a discussion of “cis by default” vs. “viscerally invested in one’s sex/gender” (where I came down as the apparently rare individual here clearly in the second category).
What I notice reading many of the discussions about nerds here is that for some of you, nerd actually seems to be an affirmative identity you’re really invested in. Whereas, while descriptively I am clearly a nerd (love board games, science fiction, learning for its own sake, elegant math problems, and also am socially anxious), I’m not emotionally invested in the category. I’m “nerd by default.”
I think this is why I have trouble wrapping my head around discussions of “nerd culture” — for me, nerdiness is, a) a collection of traits, of which any given nerd may not possess the full set, and b)a category imposed from outside by social exclusion. I understand the fact that some nerd/geek qualities are now higher status and more mainstream than they used to be, but it’s still hard for me to understand people waving the nerd banner at the ramparts. Like I said, some of us are just nerd by default.
I’m “nerd by default” but I’m still invested in nerd culture because the whole of nerd interests is greater than the sum of its parts. Its various aspects (interests, forms of interaction, etc) feed each other in a way that causes them to be more appealing together than separately.
There was a bit of this in the comment you linked, but I might as well go into more detail: “nerd”/”geek”/etc. has both descriptive and normative senses. You can be a nerd descriptively without identifying as such. You can even enjoy media aimed at the nerd culture (American comics post-1990 or thereabouts, for example) without identifying with it.
There’s definitely a culture, though, and not just because some kinds of nerdiness are in some sense cool now. (Actually, I think that’s almost entirely unrelated.) Like most identities, though, it’s not something you consciously choose to invest yourself in. More on this later, maybe.
Personally, I’m descriptively a nerd but I have serious problems with the culture. It’s in some ways a culture I grew up in, though, so I can’t claim to be entirely outside of it. Awkward place to be, to be honest.
I’m also quite nerdy without having any investment in “nerd culture”.
Well, I was at a group event last night, and “the nerds” were a pretty clear category among the women there. And it mattered, regardless of whether I wanted it to matter. And in fact, some of the non-nerd women there were pretty far into “Mean Girls” space, which — I find them entertaining. They can throw some heavy shade and it can be fun to watch. But they are not kind, and I do not trust them. The nerd gals, on the other hand, were mostly pretty chill and we kinda “got” each other.
So, short version, identities are not arbitrary. There are real social reasons they emerge. They matter.
(Fun story, one of the women is a kinda-halfway-notable feminist blogger. And the difference between what she writes and how she acts is — well — it surprises me. I agree with what she writes. I am entertained by her in-person antics. But golly the disconnect.)
Apparently France has had its own tribal wars going on for more than a century. This short little snippet is a fascinating read, and the podcast even more so if you get a chance to listen to it:
Gah! You used Google result counts to make an argument! Google fakes them! It always reports orders of magnitude more than there actually are. Try flipping through the pages, 10 at a time. Usually it stops at a few hundred. (And the number that they report in the same place as the original changes).
Edit: This post is a perfect example of the “Only say anything when you disagree” failure mode.
You’re right that the counts are faked (well, estimated). But the listed results remove near-duplicates (from spam blogs and content farms) more aggressively than the source for the estimated counts. So don’t assume the number of actual listed results is true either.
Do you have a reason to believe that the opaque algorithms biases the comparison towards one side or the other? Do you have a better idea than google counts? If no and no, then no problem.
“Another thing that sort of worked was tying things into the Red Tribe narrative, which they did through the two sentences “Being pro-environmental allows us to protect and preserve the American way of life. It is patriotic to conserve the country’s natural resources.” I can’t imagine anyone falling for this, but I guess some people did.”
I have seen this in practice, in an individual case (not a group-wide thing). A fundraiser got a self-proclaimed Tea Party member to donate money to an environmental lobbying organization by selling it as “watchdog-ing those untrustworthy politicians so they don’t go back on their promises to protect our resources” or something like that.
Another thing to consider with HBD chick is that women tend to take less kindly to coddling rapists than men do, more of a personal/empathetic connection to the victims.
On global warming: Have you read Dan Kahan’s blog over at http://www.culturalcognition.net? It’s exactly what you’re talking about except a lot deeper on the subject.
Here’s the unfortunate truth about your alternative narrative. If that was actually the narrative from the start, if global warming were presented as a red issue, about isolating the US from the world, making sure the filthy third worlders were never allowed to build coal plants and start defiling the atmosphere, waging the energy cold war with China, trying to get tariffs and embargoes on their goods, and so on:
You’d lose the blue tribe. Well, more precisely, you’d have never had them from the start, and they’d grow into your enemy over time.
Sorry, there’s no way out of this bind.
If you want to deal with global warming, invent an economically viable fusion reactor. You have no other option.
economically viable fusion reactor
But it’s not about economic viability, or you wouldn’t need to specify “fusion” rather than “nuclear.”
“women tend to take less kindly to coddling rapists than men do”
This is not my experience.
Compared to Pakistani men I bet they do.
Really though I think it’s the empathy thing.
Fission seems to work well enough.
Given the narratives of the blue and red tribes as described, does anyone feel like the parties should have opposite stances on gun control?
Red – “Poor people in inner cities, gang members, drug-addicts, and teens who consume too much violent media are running around rampant with firearms, endangering public safety. Public officials who are soft on crime refuse to do anything about this epidemic.”
Blue – “The reds are bigoted and think poor people can’t be trusted with firearms. In reality, however, things usually work itself out. Most people are good people, which means that the average firearm is more likely to prevent a crime than it is to cause one. These communities are more self-policing than we think.”
I recall that the NRA was actually pro-gun control when the Black Panthers were open carrying.
…yup. And modern proponents of gun ownership still haven’t forgiven the Black Panthers. Which is about all you need to know about them, really. Every time they talk about the need for an armed public to defend “our rights,” remember that they still haven’t forgiven the Black Panthers for doing exactly what they say is necessary, under far more extreme circumstances, and remember that people like me aren’t in the “our” who’s rights are to be protected by the armed public.
Does it make sense to assign agency to the NRA?
The NRA supported a 1930s gun control bill. I don’t know if it supported the 1967 Mulford Act, aimed at the Black Panthers. But its reversal did not wait for the Panthers to go away. It was divided over the 1968 federal gun control bill, which it did help write, eliminating most of the provisions. The faction that opposed the enacted provisions spent the next decade taking over the NRA, creating the organization that we know today
The NRA flipped, but the individuals composing it did not. And maybe neither did Reds. The NRA was founded in 1871 by rural northerners. Today it it made up of rural southerners. I don’t know when that changed.
Keep in mind that there is a large cultural component to the red and blue tribes, and guns are an important in the rural areas of America.
There are two reasons why this doesn’t happen. First, the typical (or stereotypical) Red likes being able to have guns and doesn’t live in close proximity to poor people in inner cities, so the Reds’ stance is switched. Second, Blues put more stock in the authority of government institutions, e.g. “Why do people need guns to defend themselves when we have the police?” or “Killing people to defend yourself is barbaric. We need better education and social services to prevent crime in the first place”.
The above Red and Blue arguments align better with Communitarian vs Libertarian.
you could say the same thing about almost any issue. In the 60s the kennedy and johnson admissions pushed a supply side tax cuts with the promise that cutting taxes would result in increased revenues. why? to pay for the social programs they wanted to pass. they were opposed by the right (not the republicans, the right) for reasons of economy, a right that had just spent the 50s fighting a losing battle against increased military spending. “my body, my choice!” is a hell of a lot more natural coming out of red mouths than blue. Team red vs. team blue is not about policy preferences, it is about the motivations behind those preferences.
Let’s play Anti-politics! This exercise will increase our willingness to think outside conventional paradigms. Take the values and assumptions of one group and use them to support policies they’d more commonly oppose. Or use total randomization for an even odder experience!
Gay Marriage: We need to stop promiscuity of all sexual orientations and encourage The Family.
Military Spending: The federal government needs to be smaller and less powerful. Balance the budget!
Military intervention: It’s racist to care less about Rwandans than white Americans.
Pollution: His smoke has blown across my property line.
UBI: Means testing wastes man power; trim those bureaucrats.
Closed borders: Allowing immigration sends the message that only a honky country can help you.
Some of these are not anti-politics, they are widely held on the right (although not necessarily majority positions).
Your position on gay marriage is the position of the Conservative Party in the UK (and why they legalised gay marriage), and your position on US military spending is the “paleocon” or “Old Right” one in the US.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are apolitical, but …
I’ve actually heard some LGBT activists argue something like this: the gay marriage campaign has been problematic because it essentially operates by making gay people seem more like they are conforming to sexual norms so that they are more socially acceptable, and venerates marriage over other relationships styles, so it throws flamboyant, promiscuous and polyamorous people under the bus.
I think they are probably correct to some extent.
Edit: AJD already pointed this out below in response to blacktrance.
Unborn children are the weakest and most vulnerable among us. This glibertarian nonsense of self-ownership neglects the fact that we aren’t isolated individuals, we are part of a community, with shared responsibilities to each other, not just fixed and arbitrary rights. As currently exercised, abortion is the exercise of private and arbitrary power and gender privilege – a reactionary custom, and everything we oppose. Those who try to justify it on the grounds that the unborn “aren’t fully human” are disgusting reactionaries much like those who justified slavery against African-Americans on similar “reasoning.” We are supposed to be forever widening our ambit of moral concern to include more than just straight, white, cisgender, adult males; it is long past time that the countervailing force of government stepped in to prevent society’s private oppression of the unborn. Abortion should be illegal – or if legal, heavily regulated, allowed only on the agreement of both parents, and the approval of a government expert certifying that the situation is an appropriate one.
This one scared me with its plausibility. 🙁
As for a Rightwing argument for abortion: My body is my property; no one can tell me what to do with it or in it. When and how I evict a trespasser is up to me. Parasites have no rights. What a fetus ‘is’ is a matter of my individual opinion. I have no responsibility to others, human or not, born or not. The only right involved is my Constitutional”right of privacy” to control my own body — so says the Supreme Court.
Hm. That’s a pro-abortion argument we leftists are using already.
I want to join a mirror-universe political party 🙁
@Salem: As you might expect, your comment above basically IS a Violet-style argument against abortion. We really think much of what you just wrote. Red beliefs, blue mores.
Public Broadcasting: Subsidizing public broadcasting causes a news monoculture; We should end that subsidy to have a greater diversity in news broadcasting, allowing underserved groups to have news broadcasts that target their interests.
Affirmative Action: Affirmative action programs single our racial minorities and “mark” them, making them the targets of harassment. We should end those programs to improve the social circumstances of minority students.
same-sex marriage: Government recognition of same-sex unions encourages gays to arrange themselves in (previously exclusively heterosexual) patriarchal families and suppresses truly alternative lifestyles, as well as decouples one specific gay right from other more important LGBTQ issues. Instead of radically dismantling current society, same-sex marriage threatens to absorb homosexual people into it.
immigration: Immigrants, especially from third-world countries, tend to hold illiberal views, and their presence reduces natives’ support for the welfare state. To preserve progressivism at home, we have to prevent the importation of those who would vote to dismantle it.
free markets: Freedom of association liberates low-status people and others who are suffering from discrimination by reducing the importance of social capital, and freeing them from having to justify their desires to the socially powerful. Being able to buy something with money instead of having to ask for permission disproportionately helps disadvantaged people. Social conservatives afraid of “crass materialism” have a point – for example, if a transsexual person can simply pay for a sex change surgery instead of having to wait for the procedure to be approved by government bureaucrats who tend to do what’s socially popular, they’re considerably freer and better off. Instead of having to deal with Authority (whether societal or political), people can simply trade value for value.
This is pretty close to an actual non-rare left-wing argument.
This has long been one of my go-to arguments for free markets, and I’m surprised and disappointed that it has gotten very little traction over the years…
Blue Tribe: Socioeconomically disadvantaged people suffer the most from high food prices. Thanks to advancements in modern science, we can now grow safe, nutritious crops at minimal cost, which improves accessibility of healthy food to those who need it the most. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that GM crops are safe; the entire “organic food” industry is a sham that caters to the privileged white upper class and keeps food prices high. Glorifying the purity of “organic” food while condemning more affordable options is little more than thinly veiled racism and classism.
Red Tribe: Liberal scientists are determined to play God and tinker with the DNA of the very food we eat, without concern to the safety of their fellow Americans. Instead of adopting these potentially unsafe and toxic crops, we should stick with tried-and-true traditional methods of agriculture.
…Put that way, it almost seems surprising that these aren’t the standard party positions.
Well, the Blue Tribe still has a lot of “nature” rhetoric, which is why the GMO thing isn’t a Blue universal, and I’m not sure how much the Red Tribe specifically supports GMOs.
The Red Tribe is usually neutral on GMOs. It’s mostly a Grey vs Blue issue.
What does it mean to be “neutral” on GMOs? No one is pushing them; it’s just choice vs banning GMOs. And why would someone push them, since they have won in the marketplace? I suppose that Reds might not have noticed the issue, but since it’s a farm issue, it seem rather unlikely.
They don’t take a strong stance on it. They oppose GMO labeling because it’s regulation on business, but they don’t care about GMOs as such, as opposed to many Blues who are actively opposed to them. The Blues would march for a GMO ban, but the Reds wouldn’t march against one.
You need to recall that Red and Blue aren’t just randomly assorted purely ideological coalitions. Red is rural, Blue is urban.
This whole thread is an excellent illustration of the incoherence (or at least increasing irrelevance) of the two primary tribal narratives, and the need for them to be replaced by the more consistent (or at least increasingly meaningful) Grey and Violet tribes.
Blues aren’t going away. Coherence may be another matter, but Grey is insufficiently Blue on certain issues to replace Blue, and Violet is unlikely to replace Red. I know less about the specific dynamics of Red (I know I should probably learn more in order to rationally engage, anyway), but I doubt that Violet is going to supplant them. Violets (from the descriptions I’ve seen) seem to be Blue on the issues which are still meaningful and will probably stay meaningful in the Red Tribe, but Red on the issues which matter less. Except theism, of course, but there are plenty of theistic blues.
I hope not. Greys tend to come across like they’ve been run through a narrow band-pass filter, and my reaction to Violets would be the same as Marinetti’s reaction to his proto-Violets if they weren’t prone to occasional flashes of sanity in their struggle against the Blues.
What I’d like to see is a recovery of what we Reds [sometimes like to imagine we] once were: gun-toting, beer-swilling rednecks with walls lined with bookshelves.
I don’t know who our opposition would be. I can’t think of anything that would let me clearly pick a side in that circumstance, unless the Blues stick around.
I think one more factor in the politicization is that Ebola is that the incentives drive the parties.
For Republicans, it’s win-win. If Obama does put in a quarantine, he’ll be blamed for all the hassles that generates. If he doesn’t and Ebola spreads, he can be blamed. If he doesn’t and Ebola fades, nobody will remember. It’s not as if Democrats will be able to brag about how they did nothing and things turned out OK.
Don’t Republicans brag about how Reagan did nothing and the economy turned out okay?
No, they brag that he cut taxes.
reagan is a great example of both narratives getting it wrong. red and blue both massively exaggerated the actual amount of tax cutting reagan did. Taxes in 1979 were 18% of GDP, in 1989, they were 17.8% of GDP.
Taxes have hovered around the same percentage of GDP for the past 60 years. That doesn’t mean that significant changes haven’t been made to tax rates in that time.
Did you really just say that “the overall tax rate hasn’t changed significantly, that doesn’t mean the the overall tax rate hasn’t changed significantly”? marginal rates have changed, sure, but marginal rates are meaningless on their own.
Overall vs specific, I think?
> marginal rates have changed, sure, but marginal rates are meaningless on their own.
Actually, marginal tax rates are the most important.
I said that tax rates are not the same thing as tax receipts (which are also not the same thing as tax receipts as % of GDP), because they aren’t. In fact, the standard Reaganomics claim is that you can lower tax rates without lowering receipts by the same amount (and possibly even raising them). That’s whole idea of the Laffer Curve.
I would love to see both feminists and nerds gravitate to this understanding. I would love to see feminists accept it. I would love to see nerds embrace it. (I say this as a female feminist nerd.)
But I don’t see how to get there from here. And sure, partly that is because the Jezebels of the world will keep throwing bombs. Fine. But there is another side. The problem is this: it does not describe all nerds, not hardly. For many male nerds, it is not that they don’t want to perform masculinity. In fact, they want to very much. There problem is that they perform it poorly. So you get the red pill and fedoras and hyper-masculine first-person shooters and much raw woman-hating.
Which, look, the woman-hating I experience from nerdy men on the Internet is damn relentless.
So both of these men exist, the kind-hearted, femme-boy nerd just looking for a break, and the raving -chan troll who wants to explain to me what my genitals smell like.
So, anyway, I think I can tell the difference and I really, really, really try to get it right. But it is a completely toxic and broken social situation.
This is probably naive, but I keep returning to the idea of writing up a document of things we can all agree on–things like ‘having hair on your neck is not, in itself, a crime’ and ‘no one is obligated to be attracted to anyone’–that we could use as a Schelling point to condemn the bad nerds and not the good nerds, and condemn the condemnation of good nerds and not the condemnation of bad nerds.
Thing is, right now my side will have none of it. Which sucks a lot.
Personally I suspect this is for not-good reasons, that some people actually enjoy mocking nerds. It feels good to kick those beneath you.
(Remember the “NiceGuys of OK Cupid” thing? Did you ever notice how much people loved passing around pictures of fat, hapless nerds, as if those guys were the worst misogynists on OK Cupid.)
(I did it also. Most of us did. I’m not proud.)
So, anyway, baby steps. I do what I can.
Can I just say thanks for existing and speaking? My echosphere is full of the worst feminism-as-a-service types ginning up outrage, and it’s easy to forget that feminism and empathy are not mutually exclusive.
You’ve provided a nice counter-example, while still clearly being an orthodox feminist, and sometimes I need the reminder that you exist.
Likewise, thank you. Feminists who will admit to their movement’s painful tendency to “kick down” are rarer than hen’s teeth.
Truthfully, the gender performance theory of nerddom reads to me more as “when all you have is a hammer” thinking then as genuine insight; it’s the kind of thing you’d come up with when you’ve started from a highly prescriptive gender binary covering the entire spectrum of human interaction and need to explain the existence of (male) nerds in that light. It is more compassionate than pointing to random 4Chan trolls and assuming that they represent nerds at large, and that’s good, but it only goes so far.
“Alternative gender performance” is certainly one of the things that can contribute to guys being pushed into nerd culture in school, but it’s not the only one. There are lots of other things that can do it: being too awkward, too studious, interested in the wrong things or with the wrong intensity. Not all of these are gendered issues, as evidenced by the fact that girls and women do sometimes get called geeks or nerds for much the same reasons that boys and men do. (And not everyone that gets called a nerd in school grows up to partake in nerd culture, of course, but we can ignore those that don’t.)
The experience that male nerds share, therefore, isn’t an alternative approach to masculinity: it’s exclusion from non-nerdy social circles, including those that would normally lead to early experimentation with sex and romance. (I don’t know why young nerds don’t date within nerdy circles; adult nerds do, though the gender ratio’s often badly skewed. Maybe it’s just that peer pressure isn’t pushing them to break gender-segregated clique lines.)
That’s pretty fundamental to the nerd identity. The reaction to it isn’t. Some nerds decide that the wider culture’s gender and sexuality norms don’t work for them, and look for alternatives; the kink scene’s full of these, for example. Others blame the beneficiaries of those norms: that’s how you get /r/TheRedPill. A lot just withdraw. I don’t think the nerd culture as a whole prescribes any particular approach to gender and sexual expression, though: indeed I think a lot of its problems come from the fact that it doesn’t have a cultural handle on gender and sexual expression.
It’s a messed-up scene in a lot of ways. But I don’t think you can call it misogynist or queer (if I may use that word this loosely), even though it contains prominent streaks of both.
Got it in one, at least in my experience and what I saw of my social circle when I was young. All girls were mysterious and hard to understand, nerdy girls included, and though there’s a lot of angsting about the lack of dating, there really isn’t much in the way of direct social pressure to “go for it” and ask people out.
There are a bunch of associated cultural factors, too: introversion, lack of date-worthy social gatherings, etc. I helped myself a lot by attending more concerts, because I was lucky enough to have to decent teen-centered small concert venue nearby that often drew mid-level bands that were popular among me and my peers.
Yeah, you’re using it correctly. It’s being reclaimed as a generic “not cishet-normative” disclaimer these days, due to the unsustainable explosion of letters to add to the LGBTXYZ acronym-fest.
+1. In particular, as a self-identified male nerd, I’ve always felt much farther from femininity than from masculinity. I’ve actually toyed with the idea that my nerdiness is a form of hypermasculinity; concern for aesthetics and popularity is stereotypically feminine, and I cared about these less than the bros. This fit nicely with the autism-spectrum theory of nerddom.
(N.B. a linguistics study I participated in actually identified my speech as ‘hypermasculine’)
Steve Urkel and Screech Powers were both representatives of a specifically male archetype… (Are these TV shows too old to reference and assume everyone gets it?)
Definitely agreed about the early experimentation with romance part.
Something I remember strongly from the transition from school to university was the sudden explosion of potential available partners within the “nerdy” circles I preferred. I don’t know what it is that specifically keeps “nerdy” school cliques quite so separated. For a long time I thought that “nerd” women simply lacked the strong social norm regarding finding a boyfriend that mainstream teen girls had, but from talking to a large number of them since then I’ve learned that wasn’t the case at all – the pressure to pair off was just as strong for them as it was for us. That I was able to construct such a theory just illustrates how isolated we were from one another.
My current theory is that nerd culture at a school level is forced by its highly artificial context to remain atomised and can’t form a coherent subculture in the way it does later in life. Once it does, nerds start dating nerds with considerable fervour.
I think the reason a lot of nerds don’t date other nerds is that they just don’t know many or any nerds of their desired gender. IME, it’s very common for nerds to have no friends in real life, or to only have 1-3 close buddies but otherwise no social life off the internet.
Also, as a non-kinky nerd, I really envy the communities set up for nerdy kinksters. I wish there were vanilla equivalents.
FWIW, I don’t think that those “raving -chan trolls” are necessarily motivated by their hatred of women (though, human diversity being what it is, some probably are). Instead, I think they are motivated by their desire to hurt someone in general — and they are very good at figuring out the optimal way to hurt someone. So, if you’re a woman, they will focus on your genitals. If you’re a man, it will also be your genitals, just a different set of them. If you’re gay, it will be your sex life. If you’re disabled, it will be your disability. If you’re blonde, it will be your hair color… and so on and so forth. If they can’t figure it out on the first pass, they will keep dictionary-attacking all of your attributes until something finally makes you snap.
Such people are probably relatively rare (as a fraction of overall population), so in real life you’re unlikely to encounter them. However, the Internet provides an easy mechanism for concentrating all of them together in one place, so they seem a lot more numerous than they really are.
That just my unsubstantiated hypothesis, anyway.
I really really disagree with this. Out of curiosity, how often do you actually go on 4chan? From what I’ve seen, most of the boards are genuine hives of misogyny. 4chan hates everything to an extent, but they REALLY hate women, and despise feminism. They also will frequently explicitly state that their hate from women stems from their lack of romantic success. I wish I had some choice screencaps to show you, this is the best I can do for now.
The only thing they hate more than women… is themselves.
If this is a representative example, I just feel sorry for them.
It’s a very toxic subculture, very destructive. This stuff terrifies women, particularly public figures. Which feeds back on geeky men. Which feeds back again.
Look, I have to work hard not to get sucked into this cycle. It would be easy. My Twitter feed is full of links like these. Basically, it’s pretty hard to be an online feminist these days and not encounter this stuff constantly.
And when it is not us publishing the links, it’s one of these guys jumping into our mentions. My Twitter block list is long.
The RedPill is one of the worst mind-viruses to hit geeky men.
Tentative theory, based on little information: What’s really going on is a war on empathy, and women symbolize empathy.
You are seriously underestimating how huge (and as it follows, diverse) 4chan is. Tens of millions of people diverse. As in replace “4chan” with “Australia” to realize the scope of your generalization.
Futhermore, there’s no meritocracy of opinions so you’ll see everything, not just the one popular opinion.
As such you’ll see people saying “everyone on 4chan likes x” and someone saying “everyone on 4chan hates x”. It’s a haven for confirmation bias and revisionism.
Though I will agree with misogyny being overrepresented.
4chan is, no doubt, a diverse place. But this is still a misleading analogy. Most of the community that makes up Australia are there by accident of birth; everyone on 4chan chooses to associate with 4chan. In almost every meaningful sense (other than nationality), the population of Australia will be more diverse than the population of 4chan.
truly, I exaggerate
nonetheless it seems like an idea enviable to the boldest of trolls to call a population of that size misogynist or anything else for that matter. I seem to recall a blog post about “weak men” that could seem to explain why it just might cause marxists and neoreactionaries to put aside their differences to flame someone on twitter.
Obviously not every single 4chan user is a misogynist but
1. There are enough misogynists on 4chan that the overwhelming impression that one gathers when one browses the site is that the community is misogynistic
2. I have no doubt that when 4chan users seem to rally around an anti-feminist cause, most of the vocal ones are genuinely doing so due to their hatred of feminism.
“Hatred of feminism” is not the same as “hatred of women”. Please don’t equivocate between the two.
You can draw a distinction between the two, but in practice they end up looking remarkably similar.
(Intellectual hatred of straw feminism or Tumblrism, as often shows up here, is only distantly related to the “hatred of feminism” that most people end up experiencing, at least in my experience. It’s possible you live in a more enlightened world where people have rational arguments about feminism over snifters of bourbon. If so, I envy you and your lack of terrible, hurtful namecalling, and graphic, terrifying violence and death threats.)
“‘Hatred of feminism’ is not the same as ‘hatred of women'” is not the same as “‘hatred of feminism is always polite and coldbloodedly intellectual”. Please don’t equivocate between the two.
Hatred of women can very easily be a cause of hatred of feminism.
Unfortunately, the use of “hatred of women” as a defence against criticism of feminism is not actually connected to whether that criticism is driven by hatred of women (or even hatred of feminism). The logic goes:
– Feminism seeks to help women.
-> Feminism is good for women.
-> Things that challenge feminism are bad for women/hurt women.
-> Wanting to challenge feminism must be based on wanting to hurt women.
It’s not quite superweapon-level, but it’s close.
Yeah, that sort of narrative definitely happen, and it sucks. :/ Still true for at some people, unfortunately. SOCIETY IS HARD.
I don’t want that understanding to become popular because I don’t want nerdiness to be viewed as an aspect of my gender or my beliefs about gender. If being nerdy is argued by feminists to be a good thing, nerds will become less popular due to their association with the unpopular feminists.
I don’t even like the idea of nerdiness, to be honest. Identity claims like that are very confining because other people will treat you differently based on them and because you’ll internalize them and treat yourself differently.
Male-presenting nerds are already looked down on to a significant extent because they don’t exemplify standard ideals about what men should look like, act like, etc.; and likewise for female-presenting nerds falling short of ideals about how woman should look and act. Recognizing that fact doesn’t mean that nerdiness is intrinsically gender-ish; knitting and football have different gender associations we shouldn’t lie to ourselves about, but if I like knitting that doesn’t mean I have to identify as ‘a man, but one who likes knitting’. Knitting is not an aspect of my gender, but people’s perceptions cause it to be a gendered activity.
Sorta, but it’s more that nerds are deficient on some standards that cut across the sexes. For instance, the stereotype that nerds don’t know how to dress well or groom themselves. The sex stereotype is that fashion and grooming is a stereotypically female domain, so in a way nerds are being faulted for presenting as too male.
It seems that this idea of male nerds as men who defy traditional gender norms of masculinity is a quirk of modern American culture.
Historically, the ideas of masculinity in the Western culture had a tension between the Apollonian (rationality, self-control, moderation) and the Dionysian (emotion, excess, ostentatiousness).
Both aspects were considered important for a well-rounded man, although the preferred balance varied over the times and places.
(I suppose that similar concepts also existed in non-Western cultures, for instance the Samurai were supposed to be well-educated and level-headed).
It seems that modern American culture has come to identify normative masculinity with the Dionysian (e.g., jocks, gangstas) while deploring the Apollonian (nerds).
Not really. The Apollonian aspect is embodied by the stoic, squared jawed Renaissance man, the guy who can coolly solve problems and loves his mother.
Nerds hit an aspect of this, but they’re not central in it, imo.
You really think that society celebrates arrogant obnoxious dudes and “deplores” level-headed, intelligent men? Perhaps if by modern American culture you mean the ecosystem of a middle school.
* Look at how much people hate the Jersey Shore guys, and the intense negative stereotype surrounding it and brands like Ed Hardy or Affliction.
* In superhero movies like Spiderman, Batman, and Iron Man we admire the hero at least partially for their intelligence and rationality.
* The negative reception to NFL player Richard Sherman’s outburst a year or so ago shows that even among “jocks” we like them to composed and put-together.
Brash, argumentative guys probably are considered highly masculine because they are in fact highly masculine. High testosterone usually correlates to this type of ostentatious behavior.
In a strange coincidence, at least one widely-read blogger comes out in favor of bullying gross nerds.
That reads as satire or sarcasm to me, although I have no idea who this person is and might be missing some context.
Right now people on my side are either angry, frightened, or both. Many of them are saying dumb things. Some of those things are clearly meant as hyperbole, which maybe makes them okay, maybe not. Pick your poison. But I hope that folks can take a deep breath and realize, this is not a good time.
Oh, and he is the guy from ValleyWag, so yeah, statements like that are a big problem.
ValleyWag… oh, that thing. Probably not sarcasm, then.
Well, that’s 0 for 1 for the principle of charity.
Well, I love ValleyWag. But then, I work for one of their favorite targets. So it’s a perverse pleasure.
It’s not sarcasm. His history of written output is a history of hating “privileged” gross nerds in the name of SJ.
Well, his main target seems to be arrogant jackasses in Silicon Valley, who seem fine targets to me. I don’t cry much when when he takes shots at (for example) Paul Graham.
His problem is he shows no discernment. He is a broken clock, right more than twice a day only because the Valley is thick with jerks.
I believe there are people who are in the first place in favor of social justice goals, and stomping on nerds is just collateral damage. But Sam Biddle shows every sign of being the opposite – SJ is the trendy pretext for his hatred for nerds.
Consider his whole-hearted support for the anti-commuter-bus campaign, where the brunt of hatred and mockery is faced not by the elite billionaire puppet masters of Silicon Valley, but by everyday working nerds trying to take a bus to work. Even when Valleyway trains its fire on the elite, when a guy in New York from a money family bashes Silicon Valley folk for having money and using it, it doesn’t come off as a critique of the upper class from the working class. Instead it sounds like an indictment of those gauche nouveau riche for lacking the class and elegance of old money.
Paul Carr’s takedown explains it pretty well.
Also: targeting “arrogant jackasses in Silicon Valley” comes off very differently when it’s a group policing its own excesses, and when it is an attack on leaders of the outgroup. Paul Graham has doubtless said some jerky things, but I’m not ok with Sam Biddle using him as fuel for his anti-nerd jihad.
Why is Paul Graham a jerk. I have no real knowledge of Paul Graham beyond the essays on his blog. But for the most part his essays gave me the impression he was an ok fellow.
I know he is part of running Hacker News and Y Combinator and maybe he is an asshole in that capacity?
Paull Carr’s article was why I did what I talked about in this article. I kept reading that, and wanting to know what he was talking about, but resenting constantly clicking through to VW articles
I dunno. The bus thing seems more like a proxy fight over gentrification. I’m not sure if I’d go from there to “anti nerd” jihad.
Which is to say, Biddle is relentlessly anti-brogrammer, and anti-smug-VC, on and on — he skewers SV culture in many ways it deserves. On the other hand, I’m a tech nerd. I work for SV big-tech. But still, I don’t feel targeted by him. And I’ve ridden those busses. (Sometimes. I’m an East Coast gal, but from time to time I visit central command.)
Anyway, Biddle is not the hill I’m going to die on. That tweet was clearly messed up and I do think he has problems.
Biddle is anti-brogrammer? Really? Isn’t he anti-(complaining about brogrammers) on the grounds that they don’t exist?
Sam Biddle’s attacks against “brogrammers” seem to be that they’re just dorky nerds, not cool like real bros. Also that, unlike actual bros, sometimes they are not even white. (Seriously, read the article).
Here’s his words about *real* bros: “Sometimes they’ll talk playfully about sluts, or hedge funds, or cool ties—at their occasional silliest, the perfect, shimmering hybrid of the southern boor and the northern prig. Really, they’re benign. Friendly guys and very well educated, but it’s highly unlikely that they’ll end up working on the next app you download.”
Does this sound like a guy who cares more about social justice than hating nerds? ~Don’t worry, no gross app development here, we’re just benign guys talking about sluts.~
He’s literally just a bro using SJ as a pretext to hate on nerds. It’s the most parsimonious explanation for the evidence. I know you said he’s not your hill to die on, so I feel bad piling on, but I think Blue Tribe folk should realize that Sam Biddle is not actually on your side.
@anonymous — Not that I know of, but then I’m just a casual reader of ValleyWag. But that’s not the impression I get.
Have a link where he suggests that?
(Edit: this was crossposted w/ memeticengineer, in case that’s not obvious.)
Holy shit, I cannot believe someone actually got paid for writing this. This is a new low for shitty Gawker articles.
This guy seems to only be able to view the world in broad, sweeping, utterly reducing stereotypes. Proof that Malcolm is not a “bro” includes that he is hard working (?), is wearing a flannel shirt (??), was excited about “having recently added a Pinterest button to Behance” (???), and that a woman who he works with “isn’t forced to wear a tube top or dance on a couch at work” (???????).
This reads like some sort of alternate universe leftist Heartiste, only without the insight.
This seems like the opposite of what’s going on in that article? He identifies himself as a nerd a few times and heaps massive amounts of scorn onto bros.
The “brogrammer” concept is designed to allow the transfer of scorn from “bros” onto nerds. It allows those who use it to blame any given nerd for all the excesses of “bro” culture.
I’ve never met a brogrammer; Only an ocean of nerds. But I live in the midwest; Maybe silly valley is full of them. I’ve never seen one though.
I’ve definitely met brogrammers, which is a term that seems to apply to men who are nerds in one sense, but in another sense who exhibit a callous hyper-masculinity, which can be quite hostile to we non-bros (and specifically quite hostile to women).
The myth is that they congregate among like-minded peers, mostly in the startup space. I don’t know. I’ve only worked for one startup in recent years, and it was not bro-ish at all. On the other hand, I have a couple woman friends at startups. They complain of the bro-zone.
Anyway, I suspect there is a certain “eye of the beholder” facet to this.
Huh. Update applied.
It would be interesting to get a map of where they roost, either geographic or topical. (or economic?)
On brogrammers themselves:
They seem to exist, but also seem to be relatively rare. I’ve occasionally seen specific people online self-describe as brogrammers but never met one in real life. I have also seen startup hiring pitches that feature brogrammer-ness, apparently without irony.
Most tech and/or folks seem to disdain them. So do I. Nerd culture has enough problematic aspects without throwing in a chewy swirl of bro culture.
@memeticengineer — I wonder how much of this belief is propped up by the bad startup pitches, compared to the number of actual brogrammers in the world. Cuz yeah, I see the ads more than I see the brogrammers.
Also, I think that a lot of women working in tech have to deal with a kind of constant, low-grade sexism, like this. That guy might be a perfectly decent fellow — I dunno — but that presentation did not go over well with women (to say the least).
Thing is, I bet a lot of feminist would describe that guy as a “brogrammer”, cuz that is the term they have available to describe sexist men in software, especially those who humblebrag about their hot but demanding girlfriends. On the other hand, a lot of men would probably see that guy as just “Jonathan who works on the build system.”
I have also met “brogrammers”. In the Silicon Valley scene, they seem more concentrated in startups – I don’t see them often at Google, but I may be mistaking them for marketing folk.
But I’ve definitely partied with people who satisfy the stereotype.
>This reads like some sort of alternate universe leftist Heartiste, only without the insight.
Offtopic: does anyone have links to this claimed “insight”? I keep hearing about it …
Tried looking for it a few times, but he’s written a lot of stuff and all of it makes me want to punch him.
It’s not the first time he’s made shitty comments about me. Although your link is a little bit less personal than last time.
Note to self: don’t get drunk and pull stupid publicity stunts
Two of Ross Douthat’s latest columns point to an interesting counter-example where conservative & liberal values have aligned behind the same law, but for different reasons: California’s “Yes means yes.”
Liberals like it for the obvious reasons, conservatives like it because they think it will scare men away from being promiscuous and into long-term relationships.
Nice illustration of the “bipartisan == stupid and evil” theory.
You make it sound like a baptists-and-bootleggers sort of thesis. I read those columns as pointing out that liberal rhetoric on this issue sounds an awful lot like conservative rhetoric on other issues (law as moral prescription, etc.) and so let’s stop talking about conservatives as the only ones “forcing their beliefs” on others.
I did over-simplify to make the point (Douthat points out liberals are divided amongst themselves) – and I kind of took it as writ that both tribes try to use legislation to enforce their morality (liberals on gun laws, for instance).
Douthat’s conclusion (in the second article) was to speculate that both tribes were probably wrong about what knock-on effects the law would have, and that it’s probably going to make things worse.
I don’t think there’s enough evidence here to claim an actual alignment. Something passing in California tells us only that Blues support it; we can’t extrapolate to Reds from it. Are any red states looking to pass a similar bill?
This is an imperfect barometer, but a quick National Review search gives articles by three different people opposed to it:
“This is a misguided attempt to micromanage sex, and an insult to both men and women.”
“California sexual misconduct bill creates a consent muddle.”
“An Enabling Act for the Salem Rape Culture Trials.” (this one really, really hates it)
Until I see some conservative coming out in favor of it, this looks like a case of imagining what a conservative in your head would do rather than listening to real ones.
How about Heather Mac Donald?
That does seem to be in favor, but mostly in the vein of “heightening the contradictions.”
I haven’t read it carefully, but I thought it was just: better than the status quo.
Also, she’s pretty clear that the rest of the conservatives are against.
Red blue tribe. Red blue pill? Matrix! Evil twin! Which is which? So many levels that I’ll be reading this over and over. Does Ebola care. Is there any point. I’m going to have an existential crisis when I can work out what that means.
I’m Dada Discordia and I approve this message.
> Another thing that sort of worked was tying things into the Red Tribe narrative, which they did through the two sentences “Being pro-environmental allows us to protect and preserve the American way of life. It is patriotic to conserve the country’s natural resources.” I can’t imagine anyone falling for this, but I guess some people did.
As a foreigner, this is something that has *always* confused me about American politics and American Christianity.
I was raised in Canada in a very religious conservative household, in a religious neighbourhood, with religious friends. I went to church regularly. I was, at the time, very Christian.
And yet, climate change, conservation, environmentalism, etc., all of these things were very important to me. And my family. And my community. And my church. In fact, I think I may have even sat in on sermons growing up extolling the virtue of not wasting, not using more than your fair share.
Scott, you say you can’t imagine anyone falling for that, but for me, I can’t imagine any religious person thinking anything *else*.
My post-hoc theory is that the particular religious culture I came from has historically been very tight-knit, insular, agricultural communities. Historically, they were fairly communistic in nature, and had a very direct interest in not spoiling the nearby environment. Without the benefits of privatization technology (for lack of better term), they needed to reinforce social mores against wasting communal resources. Nowadays, even as they’re more or less fully integrated with modern western culture, they still carry that strong moral conviction towards conservation.
When I hear American conservatives talk about how Jesus gave us this land to do with what we please, it drives me crazy. Every piece of theology I was raised with framed the issue as “Jesus gave us this land to watch over and take care of, because we’re responsible people who want it to last for our children and their children and their children after them”.
tl;dr: you might think that selling environmentalism that way is flippant, but a few hundred thousand Mennonites in Canada believe that, in that framing, as a matter of culture and theology.
My stereotype about your religious background and ones like it (perhaps extending to the whole Violet realm) is that they tend to be rather antinationalist, so the particular line Scott talks about is hitting another group altogether – am I wrong here?
I think you’re exactly right, Oligopsony.
> My stereotype about your religious background and ones like it (perhaps extending to the whole Violet realm) is that they tend to be rather antinationalist, so the particular line Scott talks about is hitting another group altogether – am I wrong here?
Oh, there’s no doubt that Scott is not talking to my religious background. As many other commentators like to point out: a lot of his commentary is subtlely US-centric, and I wouldn’t expect Canadian religiousity to cleanly slot into the US Christian Conservative narratives.
Additionally, Mennonites are fringe even by religious standards, so I’m used to a lot of their views not being represented by the mainstream.
I was really just trying to highlight that there is at least one group of people who doesn’t think it is ridiculous to draw that link between patriotism (in this case to a cultural group rather than a state) and environmentalism. Scott’s commentary implied that he thought this was self-evidently silly
I always have to stop and consciously flip the “red” and “blue” for ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’, given that on this side of the Atlantic, Red is Labour (well, more a washed-out pale pink these days) and Blue is Tories (Conservative Party).
The mix of religion and politics is another thing altogether.
That was spooky. Kind of like waking up one morning and going to work, but finding when I stop at Starbucks that the only thing they serve is cold protein brine and all my money is fuschia instead of green and has pictures of an alien god-empress on it.
Oh, man, did that happen to you too? I thought I was the only one.
That was a weird week.
Everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
(I’m so, so sorry.)
The great thing about the Grey tribe is that its grand narrative is meta enough to almost always encompass the correct position: problems in the world are caused by stupid and confused people. My tribe is the greatest because regardless of whether it’s the Red or Blue tribe that’s confused or stupid at the moment, Greys remain free to choose correctly. My tribe is the greatest because we can look at issues like ebola and ISIS, and do proper utilitarian calculations. The world would be better if more positions of power and influence were held by members of my tribe. My tribe’s only weakness is that we have a hard time including people who aren’t smart enough. My tribe is the greatest!
(This comment is entirely serious and literally true.)
Hmm. That sounds like a plausible sort of sentiment to attach to, say the rationalist community (CFAR, LW, etc.). I wouldn’t share that sentiment, but I could see why someone could reasonably hold it.
But Scott defined the Gray relative to the Blue as “the half-branched-off collection of libertarianish tech-savvy nerds.” That’s a rather more heterogeneous group, and it seems like a less defensible subject for your claims.
Are you defining Gray tribe a bit differently than Scott? Or do you have a higher opinion of how often “libertarianish tech-savvy nerds,” generally, actually engage in explicit utilitarian calculations and whatnot than I do? Because to me, “libertarianish tech-savvy nerds” seem to have relatively predictable failure political failure modes, too. (Unless you’re a libertarian yourself, I think doctrinaire libertarianism would be the obvious example here. If you are, carry on.)
What do you mean by Libertarianism? I find alot of people who are very negative of libertarianism take the term to be pretty extreme. Other people consider Scott a libertarian. (despite him writing an anti-libertarian faq. To be fair that FAQ was pretty moderate).
I mostly just meant “that which Scott opposed in the FAQ.” I’m pretty sympathetic to a lot of libertarianish ideas myself, actually. I just think that “libertarianish nerds” (or any other group) are “always smarter and righter than everyone else,” which is my uncharitable reading of the post above, is kinda sorta implausible, just based on what we know about the nature of human cognition. I mean, they have LOTS of great ideas, but nobody’s perfect.
To the motte!
No, I define the Gray tribe as only including the *most virtuous* of the half-branched-off collection of libertarianish tech-savvy nerds. People who do not engage in explicit utilitarian calculations and whatnot are fake Scotsmen, not true Greys.
Exactly. Signaling is something other people do.
I really laughed out loud while reading this. To be fair, I am home alone.
For full effect, must be read in Adam West’s voice.
Or do you mean fake Scott’s men?
> If I were in charge of convincing the Red Tribe to line up behind fighting global warming, here’s what I’d say
This part was hilarious to me.
There are well-known political narratives which are neither Red nor Blue.
For instance, “Freakonomics” made famous the hypothesis that crime dropped in the 1990s because of Roe v Wade.
This hypothesis may or may not be correct – it doesn’t matter for my purposes. What does matter is that: (a) the hypothesis gained a surprising amount of currency; and (b) has plenty to outrage both Blue and Red groups.
I’ve heard Blues react with outrage because the hypothesis implies that the aborted babies were much more likely to have grown up to commit crime. This is taken to imply all sorts of racist and classist ideas.
I’ve heard Reds react with outrage because the hypothesis implies that legal abortion (something they oppose) has reduced crime (something they think is very desirable).
The hypothesis is certainly not an in-group narrative for either Red or Blue. Yet despite this it’s received quite a bit of thoughtful attention. It’d be interesting to understand why that is, in the light of Scott’s arguments.
attention, yes. thoughtful attention?
Yeah, I think Gray tribe. And libertarians. And economics and policy pundits generally. A good comparison case is Kevin Drum’s writing in “Mother Jones” on the lead/crime link. It’s a lot more impressive than the abortion/crime link, but it’s not really particularly fun for either group to contemplate. So it hasn’t encountered really strong opposition, but nobody seems that passionate about it, either.
Speaking of narratives: http://nithgrim.wordpress.com/tag/narratives/
Some Blues (e.g. SJWs) are outraged by the idea, but others nod along and say it’s obvious. Reds tend to agree that it’s a plausible conclusion but say that it’s not a morally acceptable method of reducing crime.
That’s my point of view. Interesting, but ultimately unhelpful phenomenon. We don’t live in the world where the most moral policies are always the easiest (though they do tend to be the best long term).
Neither Red or Blue, but some much more minor affiliation would absorb this study into its narrative, unfortunately.
Which group both holds a racist outlook, while not holding to the universalist, religion spurred condemnation of abortion that the Reds do?
National-Socialists. In a more moderate, and general sense; eugenicists.
Eugenics historically was not really tied in to fascism in any sense other than that they also did it (in a much more fascist kind of way, ie. mass murder). It was supported by a lot of people with very different ideologies, though the ways they wanted to carry it out were different (Most eugenecists just wanted to sterilize people, not kill them like the nazis). And today non-murderous eugenics is more a grey tribe thing than anything.
There are well-known political narratives which are neither Red nor Blue.
“Freakonomics” made famous the hypothesis that crime dropped in the 1990s because of Roe v Wade.
Is this actually famous?
They made it slightly more well-known, but I got the impression it’s vastly less effective as a political narrative than the other examples. (Thank God.)
Yes, it is famous. It is the basis of all of Levitt’s fame. It’s about 90% as famous as Levitt.
No, it’s not effective as a political narrative. It was talked about, but no one endorses it as an argument. I don’t know why MN called it “a political narrative.” It’s something that could be a political narrative, but no one actually uses it that way.
“This can sort of be prevented by not turning everything into a referendum on how great your tribe is and how stupid the opposing tribe is, or by trying to frame an issue in a way that respects or appeals to an out-group’s narrative.”
This will never happen. The incentive to journalists is to be the first to find the best way to slice and dice the latest controversy in a way that just so happens to amount to an indictment of the bad guys. “I’m holy, the other tribe is evil/stupid” is the reason most people read sites like HuffPo, Jezebel, Return of Kings, etc. Non-ideologized information just can’t deliver a dopamine hit like an ideological narrative can.
I agree that not politicizing everything will never happen — in democracy. The reason for the dopamine hit is the lust for power. In democracy a mob is powerful, and so democracy will evolve means of organizing mobs.
I watched the Ferguson story erupt over twitter, and I noticed a slow but relentless push in the media coverage, and the social media discussion. Scott describes Ferguson as being “police misconduct involving race” — but at the beginning of the scandal, there was much more focus on the “police misconduct” part, while by now, most of the discussion focuses on the “race” part.
Watching this happen in real time, it felt like a relentless grindstone, moving the topic from police misconduct to race. I can’t help but notice that police misconduct is a relatively neutral issue that both Reds and Blues can get behind, where race is much more specifically Blue aligned. Changing the narrative from police misconduct to race changed it from a neutral issue everyone could support to one where only one tribe could play. It was non-partisan, and became partisan.
What you observed is the left adapting away from their original narrative — racist police kill innocent unarmed black because racism — to a cloud of squid ink around structural racism. The problem was exactly that the original narrative would not stand up. There may have been police misconduct, but that is by no means clear. There certainly was, however, misconduct on the part of Michael Brown. We have the videotape.
“Racist police kill innocent blacks everywhere” is something that fires up black and blue voters. “Policeman kills hulking black strongarm robber who charged” might fire up some black voters, but not the blue.
Nope. I’m not saying that didn’t happen, but I’m talking about an earlier transition from “WTF are the police in Ferguson doing?” _to_ “Racist police kill because racism.” The earliest reports looked like this:
Why are the police waring Camo? Is that a tank? I heard they threw tear gas into people’s yards. People can’t leave their homes. This is crazy. _The police in Ferguson are out of control._
Police militarization isn’t something the average person can really *do* something about. We can get angry about it, and maybe remember it when it’s politics time, but ultimately only politicians have the power to change this.
Racism, on the other hand, is something we feel we *can* affect, by talking about it.
I think it’s rather natural, then, that the topic drifts from thing-we-can’t-do-much-about to thing-we-feel-we-can-do-something-about.
Do you actually think it’s easier to make the police less racist than to make them less militarized? Or just that people feel that way?
I ask because it is a surprising claim. I would expect equipment and tactics are easier to change than the the secret dark feelings in people’s hearts.
Also, per Scott’s graph, it seems like the actual result of talking a lot about racism in the context of Ferguson has been to slightly increase racism.
I tend to see targeting the dark feelings in people’s hearts as a fool’s errand, at least on an institutional level. Better to build structures into the organization in question that make these abuses more easily punishable.
Idk for sure whether it would be easier to pressure law enforcement into adapting increased oversight then pressuring them into demilitarizing. Although it does seem far easier to get an organization to adapt new methods of oversight then to get it to willingly give up some of its power and significantly change the way it functions.
I think people feel that way – politics is impersonal, but attitudes can be changed by an impassioned argument, man.
I agree with you that the reality is the exact opposite – while it’s not trivial for politicians to reverse police militarization, it’s not impossible either, and once they make it an issue it’s not hard to actually enact in any individual case (I believe, but could be convinced otherwise by people more in the know). Racism, on the other hand, is built into our lizard brains; all we can do is shuffle around who the outgroup is.
I think I’m stating things too cynically in my last comment, actually.
Police militarization is something that the average person can only affect through political means – talking to representatives, and paying attention in politics so they can affect voting. Once you’ve gotten awareness out, you’re pretty much out of options (other than expensive ones, like actually dedicating time to political activism).
Fighting racism, though, is something you can try to do one person at a time, in your spare time on the internet, and it triggers your righteousness feelings as a side benefit. We have an effectively limitless well of people to attack for racism.
So I think the conversation shifting from police militarization to anti-racism is a natural consequence of simply running out of things to do in the first topic.
I think it’s rather natural, then, that the topic drifts from thing-we-can’t-do-much-about to thing-we-feel-we-can-do-something-about.
There is a third way that talking about X can do something. When X is relatively unknown, making it known as a general problem that may be relevant anywhere, to anyone, can get some change going. Aside from the obvious, it may interest some hardware hackers in making some useful gadgets. For widespread support, the meme “It only happens to black people [so white people are safe]” is counter-productive.
Other folks said the conversation shift was about pushing the tribal narrative and attacking the outgroup. That seemed uncharitable to me, but it seems like you agree with them.
I disagree that it was *about* pushing the tribal narrative. But there was an element of the tribal narrative from the beginning, and once we ran out of other things to talk about, we shifted to talking about the one thing we never get tired of talking about: how racist everyone else is.
(I say this as a proud SJW, who is convinced the Ferguson police have a terrible dynamic with the population of the city, driven strongly by a racial bias, among several other factors.)
There’s a difference between doing something *on purpose* and it just happening because that’s how things tend to work.
Tab, I think you could benefit from re-reading “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup”. People don’t push their tribal narratives and attack the outgroup *on purpose*. Most people don’t even consciously think in those terms. People do it because it feels good and that’s just how things work out. That’s why it’s so insidious. The ultimate point of the Outgroup post is: when you find yourself attacking people, and it makes you feel righteous, and you never get tired of it, you should immediately become very suspicious of what you’re doing and why.
I notice I am confused that you’re apparently aware of doing this, and aware of the relevant concepts, but do not show even a glimmer of self-doubt. Now updating towards lower value of clear explanations of meta-level ideas. I will have to try to be even more vigilant for this pattern in myself.
(And the point of this “Case Studies” post, as I see it: pushing the tribal narrative is often not very effective, because by design it alienates those who do not already agree. So not only is it done for the wrong reasons, but it’s also the wrong thing to do, at least in consequentialist terms.)
The fact that my opinion and a leftist “Boy, I sure do hate the outgroup!” opinion look similar doesn’t necessarily mean my opinion is wrong. Reversed stupidity is not wisdom, etc.
I’ve read the Outgroup post several times and spent significant time reading the comments and thinking about the topic; I’m very aware of its core point (which I believe you correctly described). I still feel that the best explanation of the police response to the situation is a department deeply disconnected from their community due to racial biases, along with several other reasons (militarization helping promote a department culture that supports shows of strength against the public, rather than empathy, for example).
That’s totally fine, and I would give this explanation high probability myself.
But, at least as I understood this subthread, we weren’t talking about whether racism is one root cause (and perhaps even the major one). I thought we were talking about whether the correct reaction to this is to focus on racial bias to the exclusion of other factors, and mainly by repeatedly calling particular people and groups racist. You defended this course of action based on the fact that attacking people for racism is fun and feels righteous. Probably true! But that’s a terrible basis to decide whether it’s the right thing to do. That’s all I’m saying.
The bit about global warming is the kind of thing I would expect a Red Tribe version of George Lakoff to produce.
I thought the attempt at Red environmentalist rhetoric was pretty good. However, I’m not that well qualified to judge it, since as a Violet my environmentalist sensibility is shaped more by writers like Tolkien, Wendell Berry, and “Crunchy Conservative” Rod Dreher (all of whom write of conserving the old land and its old ways in elegiac tones), none of whom might appeal to typical Reds all that much, given the demonstrated lack of traction for “Creation care,” stewardship rhetoric among Reds generally when churches have tried it.
However, I think Scott’s survive/thrive take on Red should play a bigger part. Just as Ebola is kind of like the survive/thrive post’s zombie epidemic in the way that it triggers Red fears, I think the more catastrophic global warming scenarios (melting permafrost releasing methane, e.g.) can and should be sold as civilization hanging by a thread for maximum Red rhetorical impact.
That said, I think Scott’s right that, given contemporary politics, green policies just aren’t going to be salable to Reds as a group. Rhetoric like his can convert a few individuals in conversation between trusted friends, but I don’t think the macro effect amounts to much.
I’m surprised more people haven’t started pushing the obvious left-wing (and libertarian pacifist) line on ISIS: is is completely horrible, and also Bush’s fault and proof that American military interventions in the middle east will have terrible unintended consequences and we should just stay far, far away for the foreseeable future.
Or Paleocon isolationism. Paleocons (We should not spill one drop of American blood to improve the situation in Whereverstan, it’s none of our business, interventionism is a product of save-the-world naivete) and hardline liberal opponents of intervention (It’s imperialism, a product of the military-industrial complex designed to get more contracts for Halliburton and defend American hegemony) propose the exact same policy presciption on foreign affairs, based on 180-degree different interpretations of what the motivations of those proposing intervention are.
Sean Haugh (libertarian running for North Carolina Senate) has taken that position. I don’t think he’s even typical libertarian, let alone conservative.
This sounds like the standard libertarian position to me.
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From the start of your article:
From later on in your article:
In other words, your certainty about what causes a split on the quarantine has drastically changed within the space of a few paragraphs. Initially, picking sides to support a preexisting narrative is one of several factors, it’s a possibility, maybe it’s a little of both. Later on, picking sides to support the narrative has suddenly turned into the reason. I think this is a little disingenuous.
I’d also argue with a lot your specific points. For instance, closing borders is one of those issues where a significant number of Republicans disagree (Bush certainly didn’t try to close the borders).
And in the case of global warming, the problem isn’t that global warming was tied into the blue narrative. Or rather, it is, but there are different types of being “tied in”. One way to tie an issue into a narrative is to use the narrative to support the issue (because you support X, where X is a Blue policy, you should oppose global warming). Another is to use the issue to support the narrative (because global warming is a problem, you should do X, where X is a Blue policy). It’s the second type of tying which leads the reds to oppose the idea that there is global warming. The red equivalent, therefore, would not (as you suggest) be “because Communism is bad, and the Communists contribute to global warming, global warming is a problem”–the red equivalent would be “because global warming is a problem, we should nuke China/support Bush/etc.”
I think this particular pithy quote admirably sums up a lot of the problems surrounding modern political discourse. It is increasingly extremely hard to talk about actual problems without dealing with tribalist allegiances.
Thank you for writing this.
Well, we’re effectively forced into this kind of side-choosing adversarial warlike tribal behavior by democracy. If you remove democracy, would we still feel such a compulsion to politicize everything? I doubt it. Whenever I travel abroad I feel temporary relief from the need to pick sides and be partisan because I’m not under the illusion that I have political power. Of course, I have no political power at home either, but since the mob *does*, you feel a strong compulsion to join it… and so society’s mutual estrangement gets a tiny bit worse every day.
Mobs have political power under any system. Under kings, forming actual, in-person mobs with torches was the preferred expression of political power.
If I so choose, I can escape political tribalism by going to the local fundamentalist/liberal church where they are fuming about disgraceful priests that won’t call homosexuality sin/bigoted literalism and take a peak into what the dominant mode of mind-killing tribalism used to look like when people didn’t have formal political power.
>Under kings, forming actual, in-person mobs with torches was the preferred expression of political power.
This was never very practical and is completely impractical today.
And yet, it still happens regularly when people get dissatisfied enough.
> Whenever I travel abroad I feel temporary relief from the need to pick sides and be partisan because I’m not under the illusion that I have political power.
I wish that worked for me. I’m a Canadian citizen in the US; I can’t vote, nor exercise any political power whatsoever here. I live in a very, very, very blue area, an area so partisan that they make jokes about how partisan they are. I’m discovering more and more that I feel like a weird grey/violet tribesman, and the constant shitty reasoning and bad policies by people trying to out-progress each other still pisses me off. A lot.
Please tell me the secret of your apathy!
When I go abroad, it’s to countries that are farther removed from Anglosphere power struggles. Given the shared language and culture I don’t think there’s much separation between the US and Canadian “civil wars”.
Not democracy per se, but the current system of 2 party representative democracy
“If this were the narrative conservatives were seeing on TV and in the papers, I think we’d have action on the climate pretty quickly.”
Maybe the outcome would either be Blue Team switching to climate skepticism (“you know, cap-n-trade sort of sounds good, but it’s mostly about giving large hidden subsidies to large corporations. Ever wonder why they keep pushing for these climate change ads? And who will have the most trouble paying higher gas and heating prices, I can assure you the country club will still be heated! Even if climate change is true, 1 degree over 200 years cannot be so bad. What, those extreme predictions of catastrophe? paid for by corporations. I mean, 15 years ago, which prediction said there would be a climate lull. Scientists have had their brains destroyed by eating GMOs, anyway.”) or, even worse, inaction. When there is generalised consensus but localized resistance, sometimes you get inaction (see annual farm bill).
The Jennifer Lawrence nudes, which center around how hackers (read: creepy internet nerds) shared nude pictures of a beloved celebrity on Reddit (read: creepy internet nerds) and 4Chan (read: creepy internet nerds) – and #Gamergate which does the same – are exactly the narrative they want to push, so they become the Stories Of The Century.
So I was annoyed about the Jennifer Lawrence photo leak and that was not because I hate “creepy internet nerds.” I like nerds! I was annoyed because lots of people said “if you take naked photos of yourself you deserve this kind of treatment.” Feminists critisising something involving nerds isn’t always because they hate low status men :(. Are you triggered enough by feminism that you’ve started to see it as such?
[Yes it is not the most important thing in the world, and is probably less important than Rotherham (though both are less important than, say malaria), but it’s important to me because I identify with women who have nude photos leaked.]
Yes, this. It’s the privacy violation (people *should* feel free to take sexy pictures of themselves if they want, and shouldn’t fear them being put into the world against their will) and the slut-shaming of “you deserve this, you whores” that made me angry about the whole thing. The status of the perpetrators was frankly irrelevant, other than “oh lord, 4chan again, those fuckers”.
This is just me, my sample is skewed, etc.
>I was annoyed because lots of people said “if you take naked photos of yourself you deserve this kind of treatment.”
I have seen many, many more people saying this than people actually saying “if you take naked photos of yourself you deserve this kind of treatment.”
A lot of people take nude selfies. Slut-shaming them has gotten significantly harder, because now “phone got hacked” is something the average person worries about.
I have seen people arguing that “this kind of treatment” somehow doesn’t harm celebrities. (And thus pretty transparently justifying their own actions, I think.) But this is actually the first time I haven’t seen slut-shaming as the predominant media response to leaked sextapes etc.
Yeah, the *media* response has been good about this incident. The “those sluts deserved it” response was from the people trying to defend The Fappening and its related stuff.
(I stay away from 4chan most of the time, but I saw a lot of screengrabs of 4chan posts, and a few reddit ones, basically saying “the sluts deserved it”.)
Not to say that I agree with the “they deserved it.” sentiment. But as a general statement, one has to wonder how emotionally damaging you can consider leaked nude photographs to be, of people who have regularly appeared fully naked in movies.
It doesn’t make it right, or okay. But it kind of goes to the old black-humored joke of “If a man forces himself on a prostitute, is it considered rape, or shop-lifting?”
Adjusting it to the current topic: “If someone steals a nude photograph of a porn star, is it a violation of privacy, or shop-lifting?
When assessing bad behavior that results in psychic harm, rather than physical harm, you can’t claim something is equally bad to all people. The damage is more or less purely based on how they feel about the experience, and how they can convince others they feel about it. And while most people may be expected to react similarly, its also understandable to assume certainly people should act differently than normal.
Again, not to minimize any pain being felt, or to justify the actions taken. And I think in this specific situation, I don’t believe J.L. has appeared fully naked in film before. But some of the other actors… they are fully right from a privacy standpoint, but their lamentations of personal embarrassment ring somewhat hollow.
Evaluating psychic harm on a case by case basis produces an incentive for victims to over-react, in order to get their cases taken more seriously. This may reduce the chance of victims who aren’t good at playing the victim role getting justice, as they are drowned out by the better actors. There also seems to be evidence that the strain of playing the role of victim is not psychologically healthy even for those who are good at it. So it is almost certainly best to assess crimes that do psychic harm on the basis of their overall effects, and not try to evaluate exactly how damaged each particular victim was.
I’d fully agree, if you have a system that actually conforms to that. Often I see the bar set at a minimum, regardless of the psychic harm done, but in many cases the punishment is increased when the victim expresses a strong feeling of psychic harm. Such as in the case of male student expulsion from college campuses, without any form of evidence or due process.
Overall, because it varies from person to person, which makes for bad law, and its something difficult to individually quantify or prove in the first place, punishment should be separate from psychic harm inflicted, and based purely on the act itself.
Also, as a side note, can the current state of professional soccer be considered a case-study for this phenomenon?
The feminism vs low status men stuff isn’t usually so much about the actual positions of feminism as it is about rhetoric coming from the feminist movement as a whole. While many individual feminists, such as yourself (and Ozy and Multi as mentioned by Scott) have admirably gone against the “nerds are evil misogynists” meme, large amounts of feminists, including some that appear to be minor movement leaders, have embraced it with glee. I agree that posting nude pictures of people against their consent is bad, but the responses to this sort of thing (gamergate, nice guys, etc.) continually horrify me.
Despite this I don’t really think I have a problem with feminism itself, and when Scott uses this to say “feminism is bad” I think he is making an error. “Bully low status, socially awkward and nerdy men” is not an inherent part of feminism, It’s just something that happened to become latched on to it.
But how can you necessarily distinguish between “inherent part of feminism that feminist leaders support” and “non-inherent part of feminism that feminist leaders support.” If the answer is, as it appears to be defacto, that the good bits are inherent and the bad bits are not, then this just seems extremely epistemically fishy, especially as feminists are generally unwilling to apply the same logic to groups they are opposed to e.g. the MRM.
Honestly it seems easy enough to distinguish to me. You can support feminism without wanting to bully nerds for the same reasons you can support communism/capitalism without supporting gulags/helping fascists and theocrats murder people. Both those things were bad things done in the name of communism/capitalism, but it’s easy enough to imagine communists/capitalists who don’t support torturing and murdering dissidents/helping bloodthirsty fascists and theocrats. Not only can I easily imagine feminists that don’t hate nerds, I was responding to one.
As for MRAs my opinion on them is basically the same as my opinion on feminism, and I don’t see any reason why they are incompatible.
All I can say is that some of us see this and are trying in small ways to turn the tide. But it is a big tide.
But feminism is on the whole correct. Sexism is real. It hurts women more than men. A balanced society is worth fighting for.
I’m not sure what to ask from nerds. I don’t expect you to sit meekly while people kick you. I suppose I can ask this: look for feminist theorists who are not saying abusive things about nerds. Listen to them.
Note, you may not agree with them. They may offer critique you do not like. That is different from abuse.
(In other words, there is a difference from saying, “You’re showing male privilege” and “Ha! Neckbeards!”)
>the same reasons you can support communism/capitalism without supporting gulags/helping fascists
considering that literally every single instantiation of communism produced its own system of gulags, I’m you can’t really claim that.
I knew someone was going to say that (: which is why I used both examples. I disagree, but they were both just examples.
Oh yeah, and before any silly argument starts over this, I was not trying to say that bullying and mass murder are even remotely comparable evils. I was just using them as rather extreme examples as to why opposing an ideology because someone does something bad in the name of it is silly.
“Bully low status, socially awkward and nerdy men” is not an inherent part of feminism, It’s just something that happened to become latched on to it.
I wonder when it got latched on. Obviously some time since the 1970s, when Marlo Thomas was doing “Free to be / You and me.” We were for uniting all non-jocks (including nerds) against jocks.
It’s worth bearing in mind that outside of zero-consideration places like 4chan, the message wasn’t actually “you shouldn’t take nude pics if you don’t want people to see them” in about 99% of the supposedly “sexist” statements people were so quick to call out on Twitter etc.
Nearly all of them instead said something on the lines of “you shouldn’t put nude pics on the Internet if you don’t want them to get hacked.” Which is probably a bad way of putting it, but this isn’t victim blaming, it’s nerd-speak shorthand for “The Internet is not secure. Not ever. Seriously. No matter how many times you change your password. No matter how good you think your antivirus and firewall package is. Stop putting sensitive things on the Internet. Stop doing it. It will not end well.”
They’re not saying “your nude pics are the problem, slutbag.” They’re saying “putting nude pics on the Internet is like putting them in a big glass display case in the middle of the street and thinking they’re in a safe.” They’re addressing an object-level error, not making meta-level commentaries on the people making the error.
I have a special degree of sympathy for the specific people burned by this incident, because many of them were not actually aware that their devices were backing up their pictures to the iCloud service, and I think a lot of the nerd-type responses like the ones I gave above missed that. But it’s not slut-shaming, it’s Internet security awareness. I’ve not generally gotten the impression the people in question were particularly bothered that Jennifer Lawrence took some nudes of herself.
(One other note, though – I get mildly irritated when people parrot the media line that the Fappening was a “4chan hack”. Some bunch of hackers sprung the pics from iCloud then offered them to 4chan, knowing that there would be a likely buyer from the hordes on /b/. 4chan certainly has a history of performing raids and hacks, but this was not one of them.)
*s it just random? A couple of Republicans were coincidentally the first people to support a quarantine, so other Republicans felt they had to stand by them, and then Democrats felt they had to oppose it, and then that spread to wider and wider circles? And if by chance a Democrats had proposed quarantine before a Republican, the situation would have reversed itself? Could be.*
Probably not. Here’s a data point. I am a Red Tribe member. Can’t really help it, I was born that way. When I first heard that a Liberian had Ebola in Dallas, from a neutral news source, I was shocked and surprised that our government had let him in to the country. As much as I purport to go around thinking that the Left is evil and insane and stupid, my unconscious still believes that they would do the patently obvious thing, which my unconscious defines as quarantine. Now, when I stop making unconscious assumptions and consciously think it through, I agree that at this stage, the risks aren’t such that quarantining Liberia, etc., is the only rational possible choice. But my instincts still are what they are, so it still makes sense to me that you’d quarantine unless there are strong reasons against it. But it seems that the Blue Tribers who run the country right now have the opposite instinct–you don’t do mean, divisive stuff unless you absolutely have to.
*Much more interesting is the theory that the fear of disease is the root of all conservativism.*
I’m a little doubtful of this research, if only because most academic research on conservatism is done by folks who have strong motives to frame conservatism badly. That said, its a commonplace on the right that the fundamental insight of the right is that things are much better now than they could be and could go very badly wrong, whereas the left seems to take the view that things are pretty sucky right now and naturally should be much better than they are. This doesn’t always seem to line up with the actual political positions the two groups end up taking, though.
That said, its a commonplace on the right that the fundamental insight of the right is that things are much better now than they could be and could go very badly wrong, whereas the left seems to take the view that things are pretty sucky right now and naturally should be much better than they are.
Even just mentioned in passing, this is one of the better one-sentence summaries of the divide I’ve yet heard.
There’s also a different frame for just about the same thing:
The right thinks that things were better in the past, are okay now and will get worse unless we go back to the old ways (or at least don’t get rid of any more of it). The left thinks that things were worse, are now still not good enough but we can make it better by continuing the change
So for me that summary says nothing new, but ignores the tribes views about the past.
You have to go pretty far right to find people who think that things were unequivocally better in the past. The mainstream right position is that most/many things are better now than in the past, but that doesn’t mean the past was full of horrible people or doesn’t have lessons for today or wasn’t better than today along at least a few axes. That sounds pretty nuanced for a political position, but in my experience that is the mainstream right position on the past, at least in America. My guess is that the right is forced into a nuanced position because it doesn’t want to reject either the present or the past.
I agree up to a point. I think the acceptance of the past decreases the farther you go back. So if you want someone to say “150 years ago everything was better”, I agree with you, you have to to go to the far right (e.g. neoreactionaries who fawn over the austro-hungarian empire). But if you go not too far into the past, and say “In the 60s everything was better” I think you would find a lot of agreement on the not that far right, while the left would say that, due to the conditions for blacks, women and gays back then, it was still pretty bad.
I read a lot of mainstream conservative sites and I’ve never seen anyone argue that conditions for blacks, women, gays, etc., were acceptable even 20-30 years ago. I’ve only seen that kind of argument from reactionaries and NRxers.
Look at Ross Douthat on the sexual revolution, for example. He is a full blown Catholic social conservative, but the strongest argument he can make is ‘yes, the sexual revolution is a good thing on the whole, but there are some downsides’
I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time to look for quotes from better sources, so I’ll just take the easiest one: from the wikipedia page off Ann Coulter:
“In 1960, whites were 90 percent of the country. The Census Bureau recently estimated that whites already account for less than two-thirds of the population and will be a minority by 2050. Other estimates put that day much sooner. One may assume the new majority will not be such compassionate overlords as the white majority has been. If this sort of drastic change were legally imposed on any group other than white Americans, it would be called genocide. ”
“If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.”
She is definitely someone in the mainstrem media. I can accept that she does not represent the mainstream political view of the right, but she is accepted amongst the right.
I don’t think Franz was saying that mainstream conservatives would say that, e.g., “conditions for blacks were better”; ratther, that mainstream conservatives would say that “conditions”, in general, were better, and probably not realize that in making that judgment they’re (among other things) only taking the perspectives of white people into account.
the left seems to take the view that things are pretty sucky right now and naturally should be much better than they are.
You probably meant something different by ‘naturally’, but it made me remember the opinion I used to have (with, apparently, Marx) that if the stiff, corrupt things were smashed, something better would come up ‘naturally’.
As is often the case, I think you are missing a simple but boring explanation in favor of interesting ones. Liberals tend to defer to people with more technical expertise than themselves. They defer to physicists about the age of the universe even though they never studied that. They defer to biologists about evolution even though they only took bio 101. They defer to geologists meteorologists and other climate scientists about global warming even though they don’t know the models. They defer to health professionals about smoking even though they haven’t studied the chemical or statistical basis for that conclusion. And when the epidemiologists at the CDC say no quarantine they defer to them. Deferring to experts is just what liberals do.
I think they can be pretty sceptical about intelligence researchers, evolutionary psychologists, economists, pharmacologists, Arabists, nutritionists…Doubtless, in many cases, rightly or wrongly, they would claim that these people are not experts but this is what Red Tribers say about climate scientists.
As a factual matter, I think most liberals probably agree with:
– what the majority of mainstream biologists at prestigious institutions say about intelligence
– what the majority of mainstream biologists at prestigious institutions say about pharmacology
– what the majority of academic scholars of middle eastern history or Islamic religion say about Arabs
and with significantly lower confidence than the above:
– what the top economists suggest about fiscal and momentary policy (in so far as they have options about those issues at all)
As a factual matter, from my admittedly limited sample, no liberal I’ve ever talked to has even known that testing shows a significant gap between black and white IQs. If this had gotten into the media as “something the experts believe”, then quite plausibly liberals would defer to it. But it hasn’t, even though it is quite demonstrably something the experts believe. (The existence of the gap is noncontroversial except among utter morons; its provenance (environmental, genetic, test bias, whatever) is a subject of debate.)
It’s not a matter of liberals actually going out and looking up what the experts say when they want to form an opinion about any specific subject. This, I think, would be fairly defensible on objective grounds. It’s a matter of one tribe, which has taken “listens to the experts (unlike those nasty outgroupers)” as its gang sign, using expert opinion as a club when it’s convenient, and burying it when it’s not.
I don’t think “listens to the experts” can provide an explanation of either tribe’s actions. Insofar as one tribe does listen to one specific set of experts, it’s much less because that tribe sees that set of experts as The Experts than it is because that set of experts tells that tribe what it wants to hear.
There are ‘experts’ (people in relevant positions of authority) who think intelligence isn’t even a real concept — like Howard Gardner. And there are social psychologists who conservatives are inclined to take seriously, like Jonathan Haidt. (I think they’re both wrong, but Haidt’s model is at least useful for rhetorical analysis.) The reasons for this look clear to me: Gardner tells Blues what they want to hear (the world is fair and everyone has talents that are basically equal), and Haidt tells Reds what they want to hear (their moral vision is more complete than that of Blues).
On the other hand, there might be a real cultural difference there. I don’t think this maps clearly to Red vs. Blue, but there’s one culture that epistemically privileges everyday experience and ‘noticing’, and another culture that prefers to outsource thought to people or institutions that they judge are sufficiently moral to be trustworthy. I would put Robert Anton Wilson, Steve Sailer, and the ‘smart redneck’ talented tenth of the Reds in the former camp, and moral-majority Reds and most Blues in the latter camp. That’s probably correlated with “tries to figure out where people are coming from” vs. “tries to divide people into good/thedish and bad/elthedish”.
But no, I intuitively think that model is wrong; it seems too beneficial to the Reds. Are there cases where Reds prefer not to notice things, and prefer to trust official-sounding authority?
Probably. Evolutionary psychology might fall into that camp, but a better example is the practical consequences drawn from HBD. You hear people saying that current black behavior is biologically inevitable without trying to find the historical high-water mark of black behavior in America. Also economics, although the Grays are also guilty of that.
…so no, I don’t see any way to salvage that. All groups pick and choose their experts, it seems.
Are there cases where Reds prefer not to notice things, and prefer to trust official-sounding authority?
Eh? One of the official Blue narratives against the Reds is that Reds trust the police, the military, and the government in general too much. Whereas the Blues are the “reality based community”, bravely “speaking truth to power”.
Today on “sentences that have never been uttered before”…
The snappy-but-probably-wrong answer is of course “religion”. It’s true for e.g. creationism, but I don’t think it generalizes well, and Blues and Grays probably overestimate the importance of religious narratives in Red thinking.
“National security” is probably a better answer; consider the WMD debacle in the Bush era.
Leonard, that’s somewhat different. Reds mainly trust the instincts of the police. They trust them when they say: in the heat of the moment, it was a reasonable decision to pull the trigger. It is not often that the police make a pronouncement ahead of time that people can divide on. There is a good comparison between stop-and-frisk and quarantine, but that’s not typical of what it means for Reds to trust the police.
Causation of the gap is mostly genetic. I tried to explain this to some leftist SJWs and their only response was “das raycissss!!!!!”
“As a factual matter, from my admittedly limited sample, no liberal I’ve ever talked to has even known that testing shows a significant gap between black and white IQs.”
They just frame it as “IQ tests are biased”. And they pissed off at you if you try to get them to define what “biased” means.
As a factual matter, from my admittedly limited sample, no liberal I’ve ever talked to has even known that testing shows a significant gap between black and white IQs.
This strikes me as particularly unexpected. The justification for the Blue Tribe’s twitchiness about SATs and IQ and such is that they demonstrate bias (rather than genuine differences) in some way. How would that belief stand on its own without the idea that black and white groups have different average scores? I can’t make sense of that.
I have seen things like a published scientist (experimental psychology; teaches statistical methods) mentioning that stereotype threat entirely explains the IQ gap. (This is a misreading of that very enticing first graph.) I don’t think that they were too foolish to read the paper; I think that they’d seen that graph on tumblr and engaged in some motivated stopping.
I’ve also had someone actually flinch away in horror when I used the phrase “bell-shaped curve” (I was trying to explain a normal distribution; this had nothing to do with IQ or testing or even people.) The phrase had such terrible negative valence that I might as well have said “Aryan”.
People lose their jobs for pointing out the agreed-upon science: e.g., James D. Watson on black-white IQ gaps, Jason Richwine on Hispanic-white IQ gaps, and, to some extent, Larry Summers on male-female high end IQ gaps.
I’m not familiar with the other two, in the case of Summers, it’s not settled science, but Summers didn’t present it as settled. He said that this was one, out of many hypotheses. So simply acknowledging that a hypothesis is being considered, without endorsing it oneself, is enough to draw the wrath of feminists. And the attacks quite often misrepresented Summers as saying that “women can’t do math”.
Note that very few people actually criticized Summers for simply considering a hypothesis. A very common form criticism of Summers was that he should have also offered hypothesis X, usually one he did offer.
Intelligence researchers and pharmacologists are not, or, at least, need not be biologists. I suspect that most leftists and liberals would defy mainstream opinion not because of their denial of the most obviously controversial stuff but as I think that most of them would reject IQ itself – which, regardless of its merits, goes against the field.
I suspect you are right about Arabists but, then, the field is part of the left-dominated humanities (which is not proof that they are wrong but does suggest that their conclusions will be more favourable to leftists regardless of their perception of their expertise).
Blues certainly like to claim that they “listen to experts” much more frequently than Reds do. It seems to be a big part of their self-image, which is interesting in itself.
Being “pro science” often appears to be a means of distinguishing oneself from rednecks, as is evident from the fact that it only seems to entail “mocking creationism”.
No, they tend to mock homeopathy/general pseudoscience too. That was the big thing in the UK sceptic community a few years ago, at least.
Ah, yes, fair point. But in the UK we have “Daily Mail readers” rather than “Texan evangelicals” so there is a need to expand one’s range.
In the US, I would bet that somebody who is very into homeopathy or alternative medicine is Blue tribe. Same for being anti-vaccine.
Hmmm, yeah, I don’t think hippies who refuse to vaccinate their children and go to homeopaths are the typical daily mail reader. I guess sceptics often have two outgroups? Daily mail readers are one and homeopathy using hippies are another.
I’d be surprised if most users of homeopaths were hippies.
People, people, people. The question of attitudes to vaccination and political affiliation has been empirically addressed , repeatedly, and there is little correlation between ideology and antivax. In fact, the recent surveys showed the very conservative to be a bit more likely to hold antivax views than the very liberal.
As a US left coast mostly-Blue environmentalist who shops in the woo woo section of Whole Foods, I’m surprised. I thought anti-vax was an exclusively Red thing; can’t imagine any of my crowd going in for it. I would link anti-vax with Red ‘Preppie’/’Survivalist’ people who stock guns and dry food in family bunkers in the flyover north woods, and with members of fundamentalist Christian congregations.
And as someone in the exact same camp, I held the exact opposite view – I seem to mostly see antivax from the woo left. Shows what personal experience is worth. ^_^
See, that’s interesting. Out here in Bluesville-on-the-Willamette (that is, Portland, where young people go to retire), I see antivax primarily represented by the homeopathy/heart chakra/anti-fluoride/anti-GMO crowd.
Anecdata, of course, but it’s interesting to see it going both ways.
Well, we might distinguish Blue organic adults who pass up the Flu of the Year shots, from Red parents who crusade about measles vaccine causing autism. Some of my best friends are the former, but I know of the measles autism people only from written sources.
Anti-vax is probably more of an emerging Violet tendency than a Blue or Red one. Fits better with the mistrust of centralized authority and trust in nature/higher power.
I haven’t personally observed anti-vax sentiment among Violets, John Henry. I’ve observed quite a bit among Blues attracted to New Age woo, and among older Reds of the sort who pass around email forwards about anti-vax, or why you should buy gold now, or whatever. Of course, Violets are a smaller group, so it’s easy to oversample the other two.
I already provided links to actual empirical research on this question.
Why do people keep playing dueling anecdotes when there is survey data avaiable showing no correlation between ideology and anti-vax?*
(*excluding, of course, the HPV vaccine)
Matthew, read comments before replying to them.
Anonymous, my comment was placed there because it was more convenient nesting, but is directed at all of the comments that have followed my earlier one, not just Irenist.
My guess is that, as Blue starts to get replaced by Grey, Violet will grow to encompass the crunchier camps within Blue, including the hippies and New Agers, even as Grey absorbs some of the Big Industry interests from Red. Anti-vax will probably remain a fringe interest (just as it is today) but it will see a lot more sympathy from Violet than from Grey.
Right, like James Watson.
This seems to fall apart pretty quickly: the Blue Tribe is not known for deferring to economists for topics like rent control or corporate taxation, nor is it known for deferring to Monsanto or even non-corporate domain experts before opposing genetically-modified organisms. And then we get to gun control…
I /expect/ there’s different levels of trust in different sorts of experts, but even that has issues (conservatives trust economists, so obviously they hate tariffs… wait). The general model is far too simplistic.
This is an honest question, do you happen to know some good papers to read on effects of gun legislation on various things?
I’ve gotten deep enough down the rabbit hole that I have to think twice before linking to the extremely pro-gun Gary Kleck, but the other papers listed here are pretty strong.
I think you have the causation backwards there. the experts in our society are those that are credentialed by academia. Academia is overwhelmingly blue tribe. therefore, it produces “expert” results that just happen to coincide with natural blue tribe biases. with a lot of subjects, like chemistry or civil engineering, there are no salient blue tribe beliefs at stake, so the result is pretty clean. But once the results start to have political implications, like with most of the social sciences, things get murky pretty quickly. the best example of this is robert putnam, who is so blue tribe he looks like a new england puritan. after discovering that diversity reduced social trust, he sat on the findings for years and tried to find some way to disprove them. now, to his credit, he ended up publishing anyway, but it isn’t hard to imagine someone less honest or less secure in his position not doing so.
But on things like IQ, academics who actually study the subject don’t disagree very much. They just tend to maintain a low profile to keep from getting Watsoned.
As the word “expert” means “person who authority people defer to”, the claim that people defer to experts is somewhat tautological.
It does? Perhaps to you it has different connotations, but to me it just means somebody who is highly knowledgeable in their field and has nothing to do with deference.
I think if you want to compare “Rotherham” vs “celeb nudes” it’s important to remember that the “celeb nudes” story was an *American* story. Rotherham is a UK story and my general experience is that UK stories are much less reported on in the US than US stories are reported on in the UK. The UK papers were full of it. Even the left-leaning ones.
And alas where once Rotherham had a problem with accusing Pakistani criminals of crime because OMG RACISM now the whole bloody country is busy assuming that this type of ghastly crime is somehow unique to Pakistani gangs, it is not.
The UK has had Afghani/Pakistani rape gangs in Rochdale, Telford, Oxford, Rotherham, Derby & Manchester so far and I think it’s a fair bet we’ll discover they have gone on in every city with a sizeable South Asian population.
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/269399/Race-and-cjs-2012.pdf latest data suggests that minority groups do commit more rapes per capita, but the issue here is not rapes simpliciter but gang rapes & grooming gangs
Observations from the UK:
no mention of race, more about police desponse (and lack thereof)
discoveries of paedophillia are nigh-constant in the news
Is pedophilia or acting on pedophilia memetic to some extent, I wonder? I know it makes me feel intensely awful when I even hear the world. And something that powerful might get stuck in someone’s head in a bad way.
No, but hysteria over it certainly is, hence mobs throwing bricks at those disgusting paediatricians, because that’s basically the same as “paedos”, right?
As Anonymouse said above, the rape gang phenomenon is widespread among South Asian communities up and down the country. Asians, as defined by the census, make up ~4% of the UK population, while Whites make up 92% – 23x more Whites than Asians. I don’t need to tell you that there aren’t 23x more White rape gangs.
As for “the whole bloody country is busy assuming that this type of ghastly crime is somehow unique to Pakistani gangs” – please, point to me a major publication that dared go that far. The most right-leaning papers will go is decrying political correctness, they won’t actually join the dots.
Right, Scott’s comparison of Rotherham and Ferguson is basically 180 degrees backwards.
Correctly predicted the left and right’s attitudes to quarantine from “the right is big on sacrificing weak members to save the group, the left is big on never hurting anyone except those who suggest such sacrifices”.
The two nurses were big quarantine advocates? What I am gently trying to suggest is that only the first half of your rule of thumb seems to fit.
Be less gentle and explain your reasoning, because I have no idea what your point is.
This is your rule of thumb for the left:
“Correctly predicted the left’s attitudes to quarantine from “the left is big on never hurting anyone except those who suggest such sacrifices””
So far, the only people hurt by the lack of a quarantine are the two Dallas nurses.
Neither of the Dallas nurses was pushing strongly for a quarantine that I can see.
Therefore your rule of thumb for the left is wrong.
The real answer is that your rule of thumb for the right should also be the rule of thumb for the left, its just that the left has different goals for which its willing to sacrifice the weak and a different u nderstanding of who the weak/unimportant are.
Ah, I see. No, by “hurting” I mean actively causing harm or refusing equal treatment, not all sorts of harm. Obviously if the lack of quarantine causes half of everyone in the world to die of Ebola that’ll be rather harmful, but that’s not “hurting” anyone in the sense that refusing an Ebola patient a hug and a kiss is hurting them. (Although no one defends that, because common sense still exists.) The nurses hadn’t tried to quit their job or asked for more safety precautions or anything; you can’t frame their contracting Ebola as someone more powerful throwing them overboard for the greater good.
I don’t think it’s interpreting the question politically. I think the simplest explanation is that people are engaged in a mixture of evidential and social cognition. “If Ferguson is your best example of unfairness, then clearly the American justice system must be fair.”
In my toy model, there are small numbers of activists (interpreted broadly) who can raise the salience of issues, but most people are broadly rationally ignorant, and take cues from the activists. So I didn’t know anything about medicine, but I noticed that there was a controversy over vaccination leading to autism, and so I worried that maybe the MMR jab is bad. Then, more evidence came in. Strictly speaking, the fact that no link to autism could be shown in a small number of children shouldn’t cause me to update substantially in favour of MMR being safe. But it did, because it debunked Wakefield and his supporters. It undermined their credibility, and made me update away from them having any substantial argument, and it lowered the salience of the issue.
So if I have little personal experience of the American justice system, I might well take cues from activists and think it unfair. But if I look at what happened in Ferguson, conclude that it was no big deal, and I see those self-same activists proclaiming it the worst-thing-ever, then it’s going to undermine the credibility of those activists in just the same way.
EDIT: Steve Johnson, above, appears to be an example of someone who updated in this way.
Nah, I’m a reactionary – I didn’t update to believe that the system is race blind and fair after Michael Brown got shot.
My prior is that we live under anarcho-tyranny where everything is illegal except crime and that races have radically different levels of spontaneous aggression (as well as different socially tolerated levels of aggression). The Michael Brown incident confirmed the reactionary view quite well, thank you very much.
My post above was why someone who starts from somewhere other than the reactionary position should shift more towards the reactionary position (if the best example they have is terrible …).
“Everything is illegal except crime”
The less pithy-oneliner way to say it: There are, generally speaking, people who are basically law-abiding and people who aren’t. This can of course be twisted by circumstances, but it holds true for most first-world societies. The former contingent makes very little work for law enforcement, under a sane regime. The latter contingent is small and makes most of the trouble, where ‘trouble’ is read as crime, chaos, violence, and so forth.
It is far easier to deal with the first contingent than the second. Basically law-abiding people, after all, don’t usually intentionally make trouble. And under current circumstances, there are incentives both against actually enforcing the law against the high-crime contingents, because they have certain anomalous demographics and so enforcement invites howls of racism, classism, &c., and against doing nothing, because law enforcement is often scored on the number of arrests/prosecutions/whatever it’s responsible for. Under these circumstances, there is a tendency for law enforcement to begin looking hard for any excuse to press cases against basically law-abiding people who break some essentially trivial regulation, while seeking to avoid doing the same against actual criminals. Hence, anarcho-tyranny: the government is merciless to civilians, but makes no attempt to curb chaos. An example would be the classic case from the Rotherham scandals, in which families of the victimized girls who attempted to act against the gangs on their own were arrested for “disturbing the peace” or “spreading racial hate” or whatever.
Regardless of whether that is correct or not, the implication that I am supposed to get that from “Everything is illegal except crime”….
I mean, if you want to spread your ideas/oppinions/ideology around you should be aware that the people you want to spread your idea/oppinion/ideology to are probably not well versed in your incredibly condensed inside-lingo.
@Franz_Panzer: The expectation is more that you will google the term “anarcho-tyranny” and stumble into an article such as this which explains the concept.
I think the neoreactionary concept of “anarchy-tyrrany” is that many things are illegal which shouldn’t be, but on the other hand, things that are truly wrong (“real crimes” in some sense beyond the legal) such as violence and theft are effectively not illegal because the laws are not sufficiently enforced.
(To be clear, I don’t endorse the view that the US is an anarchy-tyranny in this sense.)
Another common view is that thete is lots of free – floating state power and people like to throw it sound, but no consistent hegemony.
I think the simplest explanation is that people are engaged in a mixture of evidential and social cognition. “If [X] is your best example of [Y], then clearly [Z] must be [non-Y].”
or as said below,
(if the best example they have is terrible …)
I think this is an important point that deserves a snappy name of its own. Referring to summary judgment might be accurate, but too obscure for general use. Perhaps ‘The Weak Strongest Case Fallacy’. ‘Fallacy’ used very loosely.
[ Not to agree with your object level X and -nonY here.]
It’s pretty simple. The case was a fiasco for progressives (as was Trayvon Martin – for basically the same reasons). The narrative is that angelic black people are shot for no reason all the time by whites. The reality is that they get away with lawless behavior for a long time and some rare black person gets shot for pushing the same exact stuff with the wrong man.
Trayvon Martin had burglaries covered up because the numbers (of black students being arrested in that district) “looked bad”. He pushes a bit too far with an armed guy – assaulting him by slamming his head into the concrete after attacking him – and gets shot. Michael Brown committed a strong-arm robbery then assaulted a cop (after walking in the middle of a street – a blatant assertion of power) – pushed the same stuff he’d been getting away with too far with the wrong man and got shot.
Those are the best examples progressives have for their narrative. When your best examples completely fall apart under the slightest amount of scrutiny you’re clearly not telling the truth.
If that were the case, it would be difficult to explain why black people felt justice was *less* colourblind after the Ferguson shooting – surely they would agree with the white people questioned that the ‘rare black person get[ting] shot’ was evidence of justice in action, if it were easy to see that the black person getting shot unequivocally deserved to be shot.
Nobody unequivocally deserves to be shot. We had fairly serious riots in London, and an enormous number of ongoing law suits, in a case where a man who was known from surveillance to have just collected a gun, and who it turned out had thrown the gun out of his car minutes earlier, was shot by armed police who stopped the car.
“Walking in the middle of the street” should not be a capital offence!
Perhaps I was a bit uncharitable to Steve Johnson when I characterised his argument as “Progressive people find it difficult to pretend there is racial prejudice in the police when the best example progressives can find of a black person getting shot by the police was unequivocally deserving of being shot”, but I hope he doesn’t take offence – what I wanted to get across was that if it was *really* obvious that Brown was in the wrong (as in, ‘So obvious the progressive media couldn’t possibly spin it that he was in the right’) you would expect to see black people agreeing that the police were more colourblind than before (or at least, not changing much in their opinion overall). That suggests to me that it was not obvious that Brown was in the wrong (in the way I define it above – ‘obvious enough that a partisan media source can’t spin it enough to placate progressives’), which means we need to look elsewhere for an explaination of why there is such a divergence of opinion between white and black people in answering that question.
Not everybody is accessing the same suite of facts (another consequence of suppressing inconvenient stories). How many folks do you know who thought, or think to this day, that the Trayvon Martin case had anything at all to do with Stand Your Ground laws?
I think if the issue is a “black vs. white” one, then people will mainly choose their opinion based on tribal affiliation, pretty much regardless of what the actual facts are. For example, I’m under the impression that many black people were calling for OJ’s innocence during the famous trial, even though now looking back it seems pretty clear that he was in fact guilty.
Definitely different facts fir Trayvvon. Most people I know were completely unaware of any evidence for injuries to Z. I still don’t believe that could be anything better than “racial profiling, starts fight, escalates even losing”
There were better examples of at least plausible police misconduct, though not necessarily racism, that happened shortly before Brown’s shooting: Eric Garner dying while being put in a choke hold during arrest, and John Crawford being shot while holding a toy gun.
These incidents may have contributed to raise tension until Mike Brown’s shooting, and when it turned out that he was a poor poster child for the cause, it was already too late. Alea iacta est.
Similarly, in the #gamergate case, tension in the nerddom over SJW entryism has been mounting for years, then the Zoe Quinn-Kotaku incident happened and all hell broke loose, and when it become apparent that the original incident was probably overblown, it was too late to stop the outrage. Alea iacta est.
This mechanism allows the Reds to criticize the Blues over raising race relations and police behavior concerns by accusing them of being black supremacists who just want to justify the behavior of a criminal, and it also allows the Blues to criticize the Grays over raising SJW entryism concerns by accusing them of being misogynists who want to control the sexual behavior of a woman in a matter of no public relevance.
Excuse me, is this an example of American insanity? If a person walks in the middle of the street, then they are provoking the police to shoot them because that’s “a blatant assertion of power”.
I don’t know whether to hope this comment is a leg-pull or to be afraid that it’s serious and genuine.
Do you really not realise how crazy (yes, I mean crazy) you sound to non-Americans when the attitude is “Well, we give our cops guns, what do you expect them to do with them?” I understand that Michael Brown was accused of stealing thirty dollars worth of cigars. I did not understand that the U.S.A. had reintroduced the death penalty for petty theft.
Walking in the middle of a busy street forcing traffic to stop for you is a blatant assertion of power. It says “I am not bound by the conventions that you are because I am above the rules” – it’s exactly the same type of behavior as this: http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2013/01/28/cars-doing-donuts-shut-down-highway-880-in-oakland/. It’s an assertion of control of public space specifically meant to intimidate people into viewing the aggressors as authority. That alone isn’t provocation for being shot by the police but it’s far past the line for getting confronted by the police. Once someone is in a confrontation with the police assaulting them is amazingly far over the line into what should get you shot. Imagine what happens if a pro-social person confronts someone who would do that.
Daylight strong-arm robbery is the same type of act.
> Walking in the middle of a busy street forcing traffic to stop for you is a blatant assertion of power. It says “I am not bound by the conventions that you are because I am above the rules” – it’s exactly the same type of behavior as this: http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2013/01/28/cars-doing-donuts-shut-down-highway-880-in-oakland/.
I live near Oakland, and I see poorer looking people walking in the middle of the street all the time. I’ve wondered about this a lot, until one day a progressive homeless rights activist friend of mine told me the following:
“They’re walking in the middle of the street because it’s the safest place for them. Late at night, when there isn’t too much traffic, walking on the sidewalk can be dangerous. You have no idea who or what might pop out of a doorway or back alley, and if a homeless person gets robbed or assaulted, nobody is going to care. And so, they walk in the middle of the street as a way of maintaining visibility and distance from any potentially dangerous surprises”.
Their explanation always seemed a little bit pat to me. Plus, as a cyclist, I’ve got a healthy fear of cars and I wouldn’t trust a car to see me at night. But, just thought I’d share what The Other Side thinks about this
Steve Johnson talked about a busy street in the day, while the activist talked about an empty street at night. Both explanations are probably correct, but they are explaining very different behaviors.
You said you see poor people in the middle of the street all the time. If you mean all times, such as during the day, you should ask your activist friend to explain that, too.
> You said you see poor people in the middle of the street all the time. If you mean all times, such as during the day, you should ask your activist friend to explain that, too.
That was basically my reaction as well. She had no response beyond “they do it for the same reason”. Which struck me as decidedly less convincing given it was in broad daylight
If pushing someone counts as “strong arm robbery”, then I think this is another instance of what seems to be the push in the U.S. to make even petty offences even more ‘criminal’ so that they attract more severe jail sentences, and thus reflect better on the ‘tough’ attitude to crime and criminals when it comes to election times.
No wonder you have bulging prisons, and no wonder it’s financially attractive for the private companies to get involved in running prison services.
I was curious what exactly “strong-arm robbery” means. I have not heard this term outside the context of Ferguson. Apparently it just means a as taking or stealing something from a person using force or threats but without using a weapon. In other words, it’s all the kinds of robbery that aren’t armed robbery. (Any theft that involves use or threat of force is robbery).
This is odd since people seem to use it like it means “particularly extra bad/violent robbery”, but it doesn’t mean that at all.
ME, legal definitions don’t match common definitions. Normal people don’t distinguish between larceny, robbery, and burglary. If people use “robbery” to include purse-snatching (technically larceny), then it is useful to have the phrase “strong-arm robbery” as something stronger. But I don’t think the common use of “strong-arm robbery” matches the legal use, either. I think it means robbery with actual (unarmed) violence, not just a threat. But it’s hard to determine common use.
My impression is that people started using the term in reference to Michael Brown because the police used it. And then maybe latched onto it because it sounds menacing. And that it’s previously not a phrase that people commonly used at all.
But maybe I am wrong? I don’t remember ever hearing the phrase “strong-arm robbery” before the Ferguson events. But it’s possible I am atypical.
Google has a million hits for strong-arm robbery, including many other news reports. Maybe they’re all lazily echoing the police, but it’s not just this one case.
> Once someone is in a confrontation with the police assaulting them is amazingly far over the line into what should get you shot.
No, that would be disproportional response. The first party to introduce the threat of deadly force (as determined by a court of law) into a situation is criminally responsible for it, be they police or civilian. Mere assault does not inherently qualify. (IANAL)
True, though once assault has of any sort has taken place, it is much more likely to be the explanation for the cops subsequent escalation of their own than simply racial bias.
Escalating from assault to deadly force too quickly is a problem, but a much different one than to escalate from walking down the street to deadly force, and if that is what it is presented as, people are going to find that it isn’t evidence of racial animus, even updating in the opposite direction.
And here was me thinking walking in the middle of the street was a great way to get killed by being hit by a car.
Apparently in America you are in more danger of being killed by the police than by traffic accident – how reassuring? Between this and the recent comments about “Oh come on, nobody shot up a school in Ireland? Not even once?” I am beginning to understand the popularity in YA fiction of dystopias – you lot are currently living in one, where public murder is regarded as simply another fact of everyday life.
I’m 95% certain this is not actually true. I bet there’s even a Sequence about this kind of conclusion-jumping.
The number of police killings is not officially tracked, but a little googling shows it is on the order of about 400 people per year. The vast majority of these are considered justifiable.
Compare that to ~32000 deaths in vehicles. Of course, the vehicle deaths affect almost everyone, whereas the police killings are mostly men, black, and poor. And criminal. So, from the POV of a black male criminal, the police are very dangerous and you are in a dystopia.
More seriously, our inner cities (== black ghettos) are indeed dystopic, and perhaps the awareness of that does increase interest in dystopic fiction here in the States.
It is officially tracked, they just haven’t published any numbers since 2009.
To be fair, Deiseach, my model of Ireland has shifted from “vast Catholic potato farm” to “bureaucratic dystopia” thanks to your comments about your job in previous threads.
This sort of nationalist dick-waving is painfully boring and I’d really love not to do it. Can we get on that?
I’m not sure if I need to say this or if you are being tongue-in-cheek, but no, I didn’t actually believe there are more police shootings than car accidents.
That was hyperbolic overstatement used as a rhetorical device in reply to the proposition that by walking in the middle of the street, you are justifying the police in shooting you dead.
I don’t think anybody claimed that jaywalking is a reasonable cause for the police to shoot you dead.
The claim is that jaywalking is a reasonable cause for the police to stop you. If the police stops you and an altercation ensues, then shooting may or may not be justifiable, dependeing on the details of the incident.
Excuse me, Nick, why do you assume all our potatoes are Catholic? 🙂
Though we did just celebrate National Potato Day. And we have a theme park devoted to crisps (you call them potato chips) – or rather, Mr Tayto (you have Disneyland, we have Tayto Park).
Re: the job – I think all bureaucracies are dystopic. The thing to remember is that the people on the front line (the ones who deal with members of the public) get the abuse, while the real power lies far, far up the line with the senior civil servants and the politicians.
And to tie in with what happened in Rotherham, the Social Services are useless. I saw it in my last job (local education) and I’m seeing it here (social housing). It’s a combination of social workers being overstretched and overburdened with case work, no new recruitment to bump up the numbers (because of the embargo on public sector recruitment – and the next time you hear politicians promising to ‘trim the fat’ out of the public sector and cut the burden on taxpayers, remember that public servants/civil servants include teachers and social workers, not just paper-pushers who take long coffeebreaks) and new social workers coming out of university training with heads full of 70s fluffy nonsense theory, looking at their job through rose-coloured glasses and no real-world experience.
Thanks to confidentiality requirements etc. I can’t give details but just today I heard an egregious example of someone milking the system re: foster care, and of course, there’s no social worker/social services monitoring or intervention. We can’t just dob ’em in (much as we’d like to); we need grounds for a complaint (other than one of my colleagues who has the facts on the ground via ‘my parents live in that village and everyone knows the woman who is the foster carer is first in the pub and last out of the bookies’ office’) and even if you do get the social worker to take notice, probably they’ll have the wool pulled over their eyes because people like that know how to play the game. It’s only when the social workers get a bit of experience and have their eyes opened that you get results – and then they get burned out, leave, and are replaced by another wet-behind-the-ears greenhorn.
I don’t know what the Social Services in America are like, but I’d not be surprised if they were much the same.
The number of people killed by bullets in the U.S. each year and the number of people killed by cars in the U.S. has become about equal in recent years. Most of the deaths caused by bullets are suicides.
The only way to understand America is to understand that our civil war started at the founding of America and never ended. The War of Secession was just the point when it came into the open.
Civil, or Revolutionary? Or both?
Do we care how it sounds to non-Americans? it’s not about you.
When you drag us into your wars, it’s about us. You are the crazy person with the gun collection who may indeed start running amok and shooting up the whole street – that makes it about us.
I would love to see the logic that connects Ferguson to “dragging you into wars.” More to the point, I would to see what passes for the logic but isn’t–it would amuse me.
I never tracked the Trayvon case well enough to talk about it well, but:
This is blatantly untrue.
1. Brown *shoplifted*, not “committed a strong-arm robbery” (and the shopkeeper didn’t feel it was important enough to report it to authorities, so Wilson didn’t know about it and it has no relevance here).
2. Brown did not assault Wilson. Here’s a DailyKos story laying out the incident timeline with tons of interviews and direct evidence (such as recorded audio).
3. I don’t know about you, but walking in the street was common when I was a teen as well. Calling it “a blatant assertion of power” is bizarre and feels like an attempt to paint it as an aggressive action that would justify an assault.
If that wasn’t a strong-arm robbery, what is?
Does 911 not count as authorities?
Actual strong-arm robbery.
You’re being very non-central right now. Have you ever shoplifted, or known people who have? Pushing past/shoving a clerk who suspects you and is trying to stop you from leaving isn’t uncommon.
That said, others are saying that he didn’t shoplift at all, and it was a result of a different argument between him and the clerk. I don’t know enough to comment on that.
I mean, shoving people isn’t cool. But it’s not an attack, except in a narrow “it’s technically in the same category, if we’re bringing up legal definitions” sense.
Again, the shopkeeper did not call anyone. I’m pretty sure that what I said was accurate.
So who did call 911? How do you know?
I’m not sure, but Luke says that a bystander may have. I haven’t heard of any 911 call, so I can’t comment on the veracity of Luke’s words.
I read an interview transcript with the shopkeeper, though, where he definitely said he did not call the police (this was right when they were playing the narrative that Brown was targeted as a robbery suspect).
Did anyone say the police were looking for him as a suspect?
Possible, I suppose, before the story became clear — news is like that — but all the arguments on the subject I saw were that the robbery showed both that Brown was willing to resort to violence, and had reason to be edgy about police. (Just because you and I know the police weren’t after him for that, doesn’t mean he knew.)
Here is the police report on the robbery.
Mary, when the police released that, they said Wilson was looking for Brown. But they kept changing their story. The final version was that that was not his task, but he happened to hear the incident broadcast was suspicious of the cigars he saw.
Those of you that know me know I’m far from an SJW, but that proves exactly nothing in the context of black America. Almost every black guy I know is edgy around police. My regular martial arts training partner, who’s a smart, stable guy with a good job, a steady girlfriend, and a master’s degree, tenses up when sirens pass while we’re training. There is some obvious cultural distrust going on here.
Granted, this comes out of living in Oakland — a high-crime city with gang problems and a trigger-happy PD. I don’t know if it generalizes, nor how far it does if so.
There was physical contact between the perpetrators and the victims. Therefore, it is legally considered a strong arm robbery. You appear to be either very ignorant, and willing to make claims without checking to see whether they are true, or just dishonest.
I suspect that in many contexts, the phrase “it is legally considered” may correlate positively with what was called in an earlier discussion “a featherless biped”. That is, a term that suggests to the general public something quite different from the actual object being referred to (ex: “Martin Luther King Jr was a criminal”).
Tab Atkins categorized as “blatantly untrue” various claims, among them the statement that “Michael Brown committed a strong-arm robbery”. This claim was not blatantly untrue, it was a claim about Michael Brown’s criminal actions that, according to criminal definitions, was true. TA said that MB “shoplifted” rather than committing a robbery. What distinction was TA making, other than the precise definitions?
The distinction I’m making is in the normal use of the terms.
You attempted to use the fact that Brown committed “strong-arm robbery” to justify his eventual shooting by the police. Casting him as someone who commits “robbery” makes him a criminal, and throwing in the scary word “strong-arm” makes him sound violent, like the sort of person that might attack an officer, which then got him shot.
In reality, he shoplifted, and shoved a clerk when he attempted to stop him. This is also known as “stupid shit teenagers do”. This happens all the time without much consequence, legal or otherwise; that is very much different from robbery, which is not common, and frequently comes with legal/penal consequences.
This is pretty much a textbook non-central fallacy use. Pointing to legal definitions does not defeat this accusation; the whole *point* of the non-central fallacy is appealing to technical definitions so that someone who is a fringe member of a group can be cast as a core member of the group; in this case, the group is “violent criminals”.
So while your statement may have been correct by a strict technical sense (though that’s questionable – I’m very much not convinced it would stand up in court), it was blatantly false in its implication. Unless you’re willing to argue that shoplifters deserve to be executed, or that shoplifting indicates cop-fighting tendencies (neither of which are true, by my own frequent experience), your statement did not actually lead to your conclusion. It was either untrue (if interpreted colloquially) or a non sequitur (if interpreted technically).
So while your statement may have been correct by a strict technical sense … it was blatantly false in its implication.
@RCF, see ‘motte and bailey’. In this case, the motte is your legal definition, which most people are unfamiliar with.
The robbery is relevant for two reasons. One is that it was reported and broadcast, so that Wilson could have been, as he apparently claims, looking for Brown. The other is as an example of “a blatant assertion of power” and for connection to his other actions. Indeed, the violence in the video tape is not simply pushing past the clerk to get out the door, but coming back to intimidate him. He did not use violence to escape someone he feared, but made a point that he did not fear.
You keep criticizing the use of “strong-arm robbery” while refusing to give a definition, just insisting that everyone around you is dishonest. The behavior of everyone else, falling back on the legal definition (and, yes, it would stand up in court; pushing someone is the canonical example of escalating from larceny to robbery) matches memetic engineer’s claim that there is no other use.
Styx: what is your definition?
Here the meaning depends on what group will be hearing it. Lawyers and police may think of a definition in a law book saying that any physical contact makes a ‘strongarm robbery’. Laymen will think of a meaning like the one described in http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/strong-arm, which in several lines specifies using force or threat “to make someone do what is wanted”. Synonyms include browbeat, bulldoze, bully.
If in fact what the suspect did was to brush by the clerk while escaping, that is not what will be suggested to the general lay public by ‘strongarm robbery’.
“You attempted to use the fact that Brown committed “strong-arm robbery” to justify his eventual shooting by the police. Casting him as someone who commits “robbery” makes him a criminal, and throwing in the scary word “strong-arm” makes him sound violent, like the sort of person that might attack an officer, which then got him shot.”
You seem to be confusing me with Steve Johnson.
“This is also known as “stupid shit teenagers do”. “
Now who’s engaged in the non-central fallacy?
“ that is very much different from robbery, which is not common, and frequently comes with legal/penal consequences.”
It wasn’t different from robbery. It was robbery, it’s not common, and it is illegal. This idea that “It’s not as bad as most robbery, so it’s okay” is absurd.
“This is pretty much a textbook non-central fallacy use.”
No, it’s not. You’re trying to turn the non-central fallacy into a weapon to refuse any label that is insufficiently central.
‘Pointing to legal definitions does not defeat this accusation”
It does defeat the claim that THE LABEL IS FALSE. You don’t get to call a claim “blatantly false” just because you can think of some valences in the statement that are misleading, and your insistence otherwise show a deep contempt for the concept of truth. You did not merely say “Hey, Steve Johnson, your label of “strong-arm robbery is misleading”. You said that it was false. You said that Michael Brown did not commit a strong-arm robbery.
“that shoplifting indicates cop-fighting tendencies (neither of which are true, by my own frequent experience)”
Being willing to shove someone to steal something from a store absolutely should cause an update on the probability of getting in a fight with a cop.
“@RCF, see ‘motte and bailey’. In this case, the motte is your legal definition, which most people are unfamiliar with.”
The motte and bailey consists of three things. There is the bailey, a claim that is useful, but unsupportable. You have not presented anything as being the bailey. The second element is the bailey, which is something that is supportable, but vacuous. You claim that the legal definition is the bailey, but the fact that Michael Brown shoved someone is hardly vacuous. The third element is equivocation, of responding to attacks on the bailey by substituting the motte, which I have not done.
It’s clear you don’t have many friends who shoplifted as teenagers (or who will admit to it). It’s common, it’s low-harm (hardly harmless, but still, not that bad), and it’s absolutely not indicative of someone being a violent thug likely to assault a police officer, which is what was directly implied by the OP.
First, I note that you haven’t apologized for mixing me up with Steve Johnson.
Second, we aren’t discussing someone who shoplifted, we’re discussion someone who committed robbery. You accuse Steve Johnson of engaging of the non-central fallacy, but at least the category that he is putting Michael Brown in, Michael Brown is actually a member of. You, on the other, hand are ALSO engaging in a non-central fallacy, of trying to locate Michael Brown in the “shoplifter” category, and trying to pretend that since shoplifting is not indicative of violence, Brown’s actions aren’t indicative of violence. So that’s ALSO the non-central fallacy, except that it doesn’t even have the virtue of being literally true.
I wrote “Being willing to shove someone to steal something from a store absolutely should cause an update on the probability of getting in a fight with a cop.”
You responded with “It’s clear you don’t have many friends who shoplifted as teenagers (or who will admit to it). It’s common, it’s low-harm (hardly harmless, but still, not that bad), and it’s absolutely not indicative of someone being a violent thug likely to assault a police officer, which is what was directly implied by the OP.”
So, in other words, I made a statement about what shoving someone says, and you responded with what shoplifting says, which is not what I was talking about. This is very dishonest behavior.
What I said is both true and necessary. Tab Atkins, on the other hand, is posting unkind and untrue statements. I do not see how accusing Steve Johnson of posting “blatantly false” statements is not uncivil, but criticizing such accusation is.
RCF, without speaking for Scott, it’s generally accepted that insulting people is significantly less civil than criticizing the things they’ve said. Maybe this is not as it should be, but that’s still the way it is.
“Blatantly untrue” is an insult. RCF turned around and said the same thing back to Tab Atkins, unpacking the comment.
Douglas, Tab’s comment described Steve’s comment, not Steve himself, which is the distinction I was trying to highlight. Is this a somewhat silly distinction? Possibly. Is it nevertheless one which is widely regarded as important? Yes.
Grammatically, yes. It is also a “description of a comment” to say that it is emitted by a lying piece of shit.
Yes, strictly grammatically. Despite this, neither of us (I would have expected) would have trouble identifying your example as being about a person, whereas “this claim is obviously false” is, to my mind, quite clearly not.
I am having trouble understanding what you disagree with. Do you disagree with the claim that comments about* what someone says are generally regarded as substantially different, in terms of civility, from comments about the person themselves? Do you disagree that Tab’s comment was about what Steve said, whereas RCF’s was about Tab personally? Is the disagreement elsewhere?
* [where “about” is used in the common English sense, rather than meaning the strict grammatical referent]
He definitely shoved the shopkeeper, man. The defense I’ve seen was that he paid for everything he took. That right there is a much better explanation of ‘no criminal complaint’ than that it was shoplifting.
> Michael Brown committed a strong-arm robbery then assaulted a cop
As I’ve seen it:
it was a very peculiar robbery in which he left the money paying for the stolen goods behind. The shopkeeper was upset with him for being presumptuous and was trying to void the sale. The shopkeeper didn’t even call the cops – it was a bystander.
I have been unable to find any evidence one way or the other on this.
The point that he shoved a shopkeeper stands.
Hmm. Having read almost all of the report, I see that the shopkeeper did give a report indicating that things were indeed stolen, even if part of it was paid for.
Where do you get the claim that he left any money?
He visibly walked out of the store with things that were not listed in the theft report.
You had this belief before you read the police report. Where did you get it from?
A somewhat unreliable source, it seems, given some (slight) discrepancies between its claims about the police report and the actual police report. Sorry I can’t be more specific; I read about Ferguson from a bunch of places, and this was buried in among them.
Just FYI the far right (i.e. steve sailer et al) have covered Ferguson quite extensively, although admittedly it was mainly by attacking the blue tribe narrative and making it conform to the red tribe mold. See:
http://www.unz.com/?s=ferguson&searchsubmit=Search&authors=steve-sailer&ptype=isteve&commentsearch=exclude. There are three pages of articles on ferguson by stever sailer here, compared to just three articles on Rotherham.
And the dreaded jim: http://blog.jim.com/culture/ferguson-chimp-out/
I didn’t find that part of the post accurate either. You hardly need to go to the far right. A quick search of Red State and National Review turn up lots of unique articles about Ferguson:
Leaving aside the issue of whether I’m “far right” (personally, I think I’m the most sensible moderate out there, but I don’t expect most people to recognize that … yet), the reason I didn’t write all that much about Rotherham is because I’d already written a full Taki’s column more than a year before about the general problem all over England of Pakistani pimps grooming adolescent English girls for statutory rape
Contrary to Scott’s claim that Rotherham is an “incident,” it was merely the first place that issued an official government report on a problem that had been going on for many years all over much of England with the Establishment trying hard to cover it up.
The many years in which respectable people in power tried to cover up for the Pakistani pimps makes it the exact opposite of Ferguson where the National Establishment went into a tizzy, which proved, yet again, as in Trayvon, Oberlin Assault Blanket, Mario McMillian, Duke Lacrosse, Jena, and so, so many others to be factually dubious.
Compare and contrast the current ebola stuff with the 2009 swine flu stuff, where vaccines were a big thing, and I remember the American right being the anti-action side.
More whites asserting that black people are treated fairly *after* Ferguson, reminds me of Drew Westen’s finding that partisans presented with evidence directly opposing their support for their candidate ended up *more* committed to their candidate.
I have an alternative hypothesis: People who think Ferguson is overblown, will then conclude “That example of racism isn’t even real. If the supposedly most important example of extreme racism that the blues can come up with isn’t even real, then there probably isn’t much substance to accusations of racism.”
It is perfectly logical to decide that if the best evidence–or even the typical evidence–for X isn’t very good, that X is less likely to be true. And this doesn’t require Scott’s explanation, so Scott is just giving us a just-so story, not really explaining the red reaction to Ferguson.
Edit: It seems that several people here have said this already.
You conclude, “I don’t know how to fix this.” But I think you have the beginnings of a solution already.
Just take the argument you wrote for why Republicans should fight against global warming. Then turn it around, and argue why Democrats shouldn’t care about it so much. You don’t have to come up with perfect logical arguments, just ones that sound emotionally convincing the first time someone sees them.
The goal isn’t to convince anyone; it’s just to get people to start thinking about these issues for themselves in a new light. Repeat the same process for a few other controversial issues, and you might see people starting to break out of the ruts that their thinking has fallen into.
I want to test out your global warming argument on the Republicans that I know, and see how they react to it. But I really think it could work.
“Then turn it around, and argue why Democrats shouldn’t care about it so much.”
I’m not sure I’d expect this to work, since Democrats care about the issue for a different set of reasons.
Well, that’s why you need to turn it around.
For example, the pitch could focus on Kyoto-like arrangements holding back third world industrialization after the West already got its pound of flesh, thus neatly preserving extant exploitation structures forever.
One of these days someone should write a post-peak oil sci-fi novel where the Sahara gets eaten by an empire (presumably masterminded behind the scenes by the French) and becomes a solar-generating world power.
Been done already by Alastair Reynolds: Blue Remembered Earth & On The Steel Breeze.
Yasmin Alibhai Brown, herself British Asian Muslim and very much on the Left, wrote an article which I thought was an exception to this, the only one I found in a sea of Left multiculturalist apologia:
Being on the “white” side of this emotionally, although fairly liberal politically, I found this breaking of tribal ranks (in both political and ethnic senses) very helpful, even moving.
Yeah, I have to say I saw Rotherham as a very British (maybe European) story, and I was not expecting to see it covered in American media [it was covered across political lines in the UK].
But in the British media there was a different problem. The right banged on, with justice, about multiculturalism and political correctness. The left banged on, with justice, about social isolation and official incompetence. What neither did, for the most part, was address all of the factors that had led to and enabled the calamity – meaning that there may be no changes whatsoever.
Ignoring an issue can be less problematic than framing it through blinkers. At least the former sometimes leaves the facts in good condition for someone to come across.
It was also tied into another existing narrative of “low status women being abused and the police ignoring it” which had come up with Jimmy Saville scandal (famous television presenter and serial child abuser, crimes not properly investigated). Which exists on both sides, though the right empathised the “vile paedo” line and the left the “establishment are bastards” side.
What I’d disagree with in Scott’s version is that in Rotherham, it wasn’t only the police who failed, it was Social Services most crucially. And that ties in with local politics, and that ties in with local councillors not wanting to rock boats by outraging local communities by seeming to pander to BNP (although it seems nowadays their thunder has been stolen by UKIP) propaganda attitudes about “Your men are all rapists! You come over here to steal our women!”.
Nobody, whether you’re talking about Right or Left, comes out of that looking 100% spotless. The Jay report makes that very clear; sometimes the police response was excellent, sometimes it was dreadful, and the local council in Rotherham had services under severe pressure, which it didn’t understand and didn’t prioritise when it came to child sexual exploitation.
The conservative argument is a bit silly the way you’ve phrased it, but reading Jared Diamond’s Collapse was the first thing that made me realize on a gut level that the environment is important. Our natural resources are the absolute foundation of our economy and ultimately all modern civilization, so they need to be protected if we want to prosper.
This line of argument avoids relying on either aesthetic appreciation of “Nature” or shallow veneration of “Science”. Those are the two standard narratives we see from the left. If you’re going to poke fun at others’, what are the reasons you think Global Warming is important? I think even your intentionally silly patriotism example is better justified than most people’s.
This isn’t a tribally motivated attack. Just my genuine opinion. I’m a registered Democrat, but I do think the conservative framing is better here and want to know why reasonable people might disagree.
Also, can we somehow check what attitudes about Ebola in other countries are? There’s going to be some communicability (pun) of attitudes due to transnational interactions, but the information would still be somewhat helpful. It seems like doing this should be easy, yet I can’t actually think of how it might be done without a work intensive study.
Yeah, at least for the conservatives I’ve been reading, you’d definitely want to invoke “decadence” and “decline.”
“There’s going to be some communicability (pun) of attitudes due to transnational interactions”
I think that’s not so much a pun as an explicit analogy.
I think the best way to frame it for conservatives would be to bring up peak oil or energy-related geopolitics, get them to buy into alternative energy (there was an article a while back about the Tea Party pushing solar panels or something like that), and then, “oh, by the way, global warming, so we should probably get our engineers on this soon.” Maybe say some bad things about the Saudis while you’re at it.
IIRC, Mitt Romney tried something like this in 2008 and 2012, framing it as energy independence. It didn’t get much traction.
I wonder whether Al Gore did more harm than good, by accelerating the process of concern about global warming becoming associated with the left.
I think it was inevitable that the oil companies and other industries would lead the Right to reject that concern.
“The conservative argument is a bit silly the way you’ve phrased it, but reading Jared Diamond’s Collapse was the first thing that made me realize on a gut level that the environment is important. Our natural resources are the absolute foundation of our economy and ultimately all modern civilization, so they need to be protected if we want to prosper. ”
There are issues with collapse. The sections on Easter Island, Greenland and the Maya are wrong. Current evidence from Easter Island supports the idea that invasive species and not overharvesting were responsible for the extinction of their trees, the idea that the Norse in Greenland didn’t eat fish while every other Norse did is less likely than they simply used fishbones to make tools and the situation with the Maya is inconclusive (I don’t remember enough of the details).
Also conserving resources is a bit silly. If they are energy resources than they are pretty interchangable- no reason to conserve coal if you have plenty of natural gas. If they are physical resources and they can be recycled, no need to conserve them is the cost of reclaiming them is cheaper than mining for more. If they are physical resources that can’t be recycled, you need to find substitutes anyway because the world isn’t making any more zinc.
Two other theories about Ebola quarantine opinions:
Theory A: The President is a Democrat. There isn’t a quarantine. Therefore Republicans favor a quarantine and Democrats oppose it.
Theory B: One party is naive about the government’s ability to use its powers for good and favors top-down, command-and-control regulations to make things right. They also have a “we’re all in this together” collectivist mindset that makes them want the government to step in and protect large groups of people. The other party is aware of the limits of government power, and the perverse incentives and workarounds that inevitably arise when the government tries to use blunt tools like bans. They also value rugged individualism, chafe against policies that involve restricting people’s freedom for the “greater good”, and think people should take care of themselves. So, naturally, the latter party will end up advocating for travel bans and quarantines while the former party opposes them.
Theory B is what I thought was going to be discussed after glancing at this post, but it predicts the opposite of what Scott has noticed. I’m not sure whether to call his (and several other commenters’) observations into question or to reject B.
Commenter lmm agrees with B as well, it seems, in the comment above yours.
I think this is one of the useful aspects of Red/Blue rather than liberal/conservative: The basic liberal/conservative values w.r.t. government would suggest that the positions on immigration are swapped, but other aspects of Red/Blueness dominate here instead.
The quarantine shakes out along those, immigration-like lines, naturally.
> One party is naive about the government’s ability to use its powers for good and favors top-down, command-and-control regulations to make things right.
I honestly didn’t know which party you were referring to in this sentence until I checked the fnords in the following sentence. That suggests that this is more of a slogan than a description of any aspect of reality.
I think the whole point was to give a just-so story that could apply equally well regardless of who supports/opposes quarantine.
A seems very simple. So its probably likely to be true.
Theory A strikes me as the obvious theory. But given that my priors are with Scott on whether a quarantine is a good idea or not (i.e. it isn’t), this sounds like a kind of partisan explanation: the government is doing something sensible, and the Republicans are opposing it for no other reason than that there’s a Democrat in office. On the other other hand, my true belief is that such explanations are often right no matter what people who would like to see false balance between the two sides say.
I don’t think it actually boils down like that. If you talk to these folk, they have a compelling argument for a quarantine being effective, they have obvious evidence that the current method has risks, and they don’t see the rewards to palliative care as being as high enough to justify those risks.
They can be and likely are wrong — their model doesn’t really work if you presume palliative care has any serious impact on the average number of infections, which seems to be the case — but at the very least it’s trivial to explain as rationalization and more compelling to explain through trust modeling.
Theory A reminds me of an article I read about how Republicans used the exact same rhetoric to oppose Clinton’s interventions in Kosovo that Democrats used to oppose the Iraq war. I can’t find it again, unfortunately, but I remember one Republican was even quoted as saying there was not a “clear exit strategy.”
If this is the quote, the Republican in question was Bob Dole:
This seems odd to me. Is it just tribalism, or do the main criticisms against the Iraq war simply not apply as well to Kosovo?
Well, in retrospect considering that Kosovo worked out pretty well while Iraq didn’t, I’m leaning towards ‘not just tribalism’.
A rich guy from Saudi Arabia organizes attacks on important US buildings. As a consequence, the president of Iraq must be removed. Huh ? I think the Kosovo case did not have these absurd features.
There were many differences on the object level. On a meta level, we can compare the Republicans’ statements when a Democrat, Clinton, was president, to their statements when a Republican, Bush, was president. Under Clinton, they said that we should not be trying to enforce our ideas of democracy on a part of the world/cultures not ready for it. Under Bush, they said we were fighting for Iraqi freedom and Afghan nation building (ie elections etc).
Iirc, both times the Democrats stayed closer to the object level.
In the 2000 election, the position taken by the Bush campaign was that the Clinton administration was too interventionist. They flip-flopped on that almost as fast as FDR abandoned his campaign promise to retreat from Herbert Hoover’s unprecedented levels of government intervention in the economy.
The Iraq War started March 20, 2003. This is closer to the end of Bush’s first term than the beginning, so I’m not sure what you would consider a “slow” flip-flop.
In the search for partisanship, you’re all ignoring the impact of 9/11. This was a big deal, and people really did re-evaluate their positions in light of it. It explains the revised Bush position on nation building much better than “he was in such a rush to flip-flop that he didn’t even do it until the third year of his term.”
You want a flip-flop, explain why opponents of Iraq-bombing engaged in nation-bombing in Libya.
The Iraq War was only so late as his third year in office because 9/11 forced Bush to invade Afghanistan first.
Source? I certainly don’t recall any push for an Iraq invasion pre-9/11.