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Links 6/15: Everything But The Kitchen Link

Dogs’ reaction to magic tricks (EDIT: more at original source)

Automated theorem provers and the changing foundations of mathematics (does not require much math knowledge to read).

New American Statistical Association ‘premium’ membership plan will permit members to reject null hypotheses at alpha values > 0.05. Actually, the whole site is pretty good.

Some opponents of open borders argue that a lot of Third World countries (eg Afghanistan, Somalia) are kind of terrible, and worry that if we import many of their citizens here, then they might bring whatever factors made their country terrible to the First World and make our countries terrible. The open borders movement presents the start of a counterargument.

Canada passes a law saying they must eliminate one old regulation for every new regulation adopted. I didn’t realize libertarianism had a win condition, but I think Canada just reached it. Will be very interesting to watch.

National Review columnists debate the real primary contenders this election: Cthulhu versus the Sweet Meteor of Death.

Remember, “non-shared environment” doesn’t necessarily mean “sociology stuff” – Toddler temperament could be influenced by different types of gut bacteria.

Citizens of Baltimore living in (more) terror (than usual) as murders and all other types of crime skyrocket after Freddie Gray riots. Seems to be caused by the police not doing much policing. Dueling talking points are “recent media feeding frenzy has left police so scared of racism accusations that they won’t touch any majority-black area” versus “police are acting like toddlers and saying ‘well, if we can’t do policing with racism and brutality, then we’re just not going to do any policing at all, SO THERE”.

Old question “why does evolution allow homosexuality to exist when it decreases reproduction?” seems to have been solved, at least in fruit flies: the female relatives of gayer fruit flies have more children. Same thing appears to be true in humans. Unclear if lesbianism has a similar aetiology.

“Translating Finnegan’s Wake into Chinese” sounds like a bad joke or possibly a metaphor for life. It’s actually an unexpected bestseller.

If you’re not familiar with the Albion’s Seed hypothesis, Charles Murray does a decent job explaining it here, plus discussion of America’s multicultural past and future.

BoingBoing: Why Rickrolling Is Sexist

When I wrote a post calling the education system kind of useless (no, not that one, the other one) the first comment was Buck asking why developed countries with lots of education seemed to do better than developed countries with little education. A new study provides an answer: not because of education, because that seems to have no effect.

A novel but fascinating way of investigating gender discrimination in pay: do male-to-female transgender people take a pay cut? Do female-to-male transgender people get a pay raise? Obviously there’s a lot of trouble in adjusting for the effect of transgender itself on pay, but the study finds a 20% pay cut for M->Fs and a 10% pay raise (nonsignificant) for F->M, and concludes that this seems is likely more gender-related than transition-related. Probably should add this to my list of good social justice studies to replace some of the others that keep dropping like flies.

This is the most “we are living in the grim cyberpunk future” story I have ever seen: Russian billboard advertising contraband changes to a more innocuous advertisement when its computer vision system spots a police officer.

Back when I was writing about AI scientists who worried about AI risk, I somehow missed this great interview with Stuart Russell.

A mile-long machine is going to be deployed to the Tsushima Strait to clean it of floating garbage. If it works, there are plans to dispatch 1000 km (!) worth to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But actual ocean-garbage-ologists say it will never work and might be counterproductive.

Fake-Etymologies.com

Does Zoloft treat Ebola? Scientists decide to throw every existing drug at the Ebola virus to see if just by coincidence some of them work just by coincidence, and get some weird positives. But given how many drugs psychiatry has borrowed from infectious diseases, it’s about time we started giving some back.

The most important thing I’ve gotten out of this FIFA scandal is that being a complete loon is apparently no barrier to holding a very high position in the world’s most influential sporting body. Upon being arrested, vice-president Jack Warner promised: “Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming” he said. “The die is cast. There can be no turning back. Let the chips fall where they fall.” About soccer negotiations. This is the same guy who cited the Onion article.

Latest hullaballoo: Curtis Yarvin (aka “Mencius Moldbug”) was invited to give a presentation on his new computer system Urbit to the Strange Loop tech conference. Then some of his ideological enemies (actually literal Communists) found out, objected to his political views, and he got banned from the conference. Article here, Hacker News thread here, impressively prescient Moldbug post here, demonstration of inevitable Streisand Effect here. I did consider not linking this since it’s so obviously toxoplasma, but I was convinced to do so by this letter where the conference organizer states he’s never read any Moldbug himself, but decided to cave to the ban request because otherwise politics overshadow the conference, which was supposed to be about tech. This kind of crystallizes a pattern I’ve been noticing recently where some social justice activists use a tactic along the lines of “Nice institution youse gots here, shame if somebody were to politicize it”. I sympathize with the desire to give into that to avoid trouble, but I think maybe the only way to avoid enshrining that kind of heckler’s veto always working is to make it clear that the choice to give in will also be politicized. Maybe if organizers know that banning all insufficiently-leftist-people and not banning all insufficiently-leftist-people will both result in politicization and Internet firestorms, they’ll say “screw it” and just follow their principles.

Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy For Depression Losing Its Efficacy? New meta-analysis across almost 40 years shows that “effects of CBT have declined linearly and steadily since its introduction” with high significance consistent across multiple different measurement modalities. Study theorizes that maybe therapy is getting worse as a lot of people who aren’t very good at it or don’t stick to the evidence-based principles jump on the CBT bandwagon. Also suggests maybe as it becomes less “the exciting new thing” there’s decreased placebo effect. I would add a possibility that CBT ideas have become so prevalent in our society already that there might be less left to teach, and that as depression diagnoses have skyrocketed we may be sending a different population to therapy (eg people who are less severely depressed and therefore can’t be helped as much). Somebody should also try to unify this result with the finding that antidepressant drug efficacy has been declining over the same period. There’s something very important hidden here, but I’m not totally sure what it is.

Dalai Lama says is considering reincarnating as a ‘mischievous blonde woman’.

The economics of art museums. The first half of this article is a terrible ramble that demonstrates some, uh, creative understanding of economics. The second half is much better, and describes the economic forces that lead most art museums to keep most of their art in basements where no one can see it forever, even though selling the tiniest fraction of that could allow them to (for example) make admission free forever.

We already sort of knew that exposure to cat parasite toxoplasma was a risk factor for schizophrenia. Now researchers take the next step and find that children in cat-owning families are at higher risk of schizophrenia across multiple different studies. Odds ratio not on abstract, but it’s about 1.5.

Technocracy Inc was a pro-technocracy movement of the 1930s which had over half a million members, who “painted their cars Official Technocracy Gray, wore a uniform consisting of a gray double-breasted suit, and saluted [leader] Scott when they encountered him in person. At their most extreme, some members replaced their names with numbers, such as 1x1809x56.”

CuddleBids is…I should probably avoid saying “Uber for cuddle prostitution”, but I’m not sure there’s another equally concise way to describe it. Notable as example of the kind of website I hate, with all the information carefully hidden away where it can’t interfere with the sleek design. Other than that I so in favor.

Cool graphs on my Twitter feed: effect sizes of preschool interventions (low and dropping), funnel plot of preschool interventions, not very encouraging at all. Poor sociology. There’s always time to get into the gut-bacteria-studying business.

Cute confirmation bias experiment: when an education plan was pitched as “the Democrats’ education plan”, Democrats supported it 75%-17%, and Republicans opposed it 13%-78%. When the exact same plan was pitched as “the Republicans’ education plan”, Democrats opposed it 80%-12% and Republicans supported it 70%-10%.

The first review of this light fixture.

“Crash blossoms” are complicated ambiguous headlines, like “Screenwriter Reveals He Tried To Commit Suicide During Awards Ceremony”. Language Log has nine whole pages of crash blossoms.

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1,177 Responses to Links 6/15: Everything But The Kitchen Link

  1. FacelessCraven says:

    [comment deleted by poster for pointlessness]

    • Nornagest says:

      Probably too late now, but in future, if you blank your comment while editing it, SSC will delete it entirely.

  2. Agronomous says:

    Via Hacker News, something Scott is sure to be interested in:

    Fermented foods, neuroticism, and social anxiety: An interaction model.

    Next comes an interventional study, I hope.

  3. onyomi says:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/06/11/msnbc_panel_on_seinfelds_pc_comments_hes_a_billionaire_i_dont_feel_sorry_for_him_if_people_dont_laugh_at_his_jokes.html

    This kind of thing is getting more and more prevalent, and, imo, is a very bad trend: “don’t feel sorry for him! he’s rich!” “oh, boo hoo, poor mr. billionaire has a complaint! well screw him, he’s rich!” And this applies even when said billionaire is not so much complaining about his own life, but about a development in the culture.

    The subtle and I’m sure, not consciously intended message is: your opinions are valid in proportion to how oppressed you and/or your group are, and vice-versa.

    • Adam says:

      For what it’s worth, I don’t feel sorry for any of you or any of them, oppressed or not. If you live in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Western Europe, in 2015, and can’t find a decently happy life with fulfilling things to do, try harder.

      But with Seinfeld specifically, whether or not someone feels sorry for him seems beside the point. The point is too many college campuses have jumped the shark, though it does somewhat reek of “kids these days” bullshit we hear every time a generation gets old.

      • onyomi says:

        It’s not really about who does and doesn’t deserve sympathy, though I agree the third world poor are much more deserving of it than just about anyone in the US, it’s more the very framing in terms of sympathy: if you have a complaint about how the culture is developing then that is automatically read as a complaint about your own life, and therefore, to be evaluated as part of a wholistic evaluation of your life circumstances.

        This “wholistic” evaluation of an argument is precisely the problem. “The personal is political” means there’s no room for discussion of abstract ideas.

        • Adam says:

          Yes, very true and that’s horribly annoying. Seinfeld’s point, and anyone else’s point, should stand or fall on its own merits.

  4. Agronomous says:

    Je suis Moldbug.

  5. J. Quinton says:

    It looks like Scott is in the new again over at Slate.

    Of course, it’s due to the recent Moldbug banhammer from Strange Loop.

    • Peter says:

      Well, hurrah for Slate, and hurrah for David Auerbach! It’s really good to see someone who knows what liberalism actually is, lives by it, and is prepared to call the illiberal strains of leftist thought what they are.

      More like this, please.

      • Cauê says:

        I get a weird feeling from Auerbach, and this article is a good example. It includes several unnecessary insults, but I think they’re there mainly so his articles have a chance to actually be read by the left.

        • onyomi says:

          Yeah, I get a little tired of all the signaling insults required when defending a person with heterodox viewpoints. Still, glad he wrote it.

          On a similar note, I get tired of all the political jabs many blue tribe authors seem to insert when writing about unrelated topics. Not sure if it’s signalling to their audience or just because one feels one’s world view is so self-evident that it can be comfortably inserted everywhere. It doesn’t seem that red tribers are as “liberal” with the unrelated insults in their writing, though that may be because I’m more red and/or because I paradoxically read more stuff written by mainstreamish blues than by mainstreamish reds.

          I think reds are also more aware that some people think they are evil. Being blue means never having to worry about ethically-tinged insults. Until someone bluer comes along.

          This article (the Vox one below, not Auerbach’s, which is much better) made me think of this, even though it doesn’t include insults, so much as constant digressions into liberal pet causes which dilute the impact of the message, which, I think is supposed to be that “professors with tenure need to speak up and challenge their students.”

          http://www.vox.com/2015/6/10/8753721/college-professor-fear

          But that message gets so buried in statements about *what* professors speaking up need to say that I find the article greatly diminished in its persuasive power and clarity, at least to me as a reddish-grey reader.

          • Nornagest says:

            It doesn’t seem that red tribers are as “liberal” with the unrelated insults in their writing

            I grew up in dittohead country. Trust me, they totally are.

            Though I suppose talk radio is not writing, as such.

          • onyomi says:

            Well, I certainly expect Rush Limbaugh to throw in lots of insults about liberals, but he’s talking about politics specifically. I more meant political jabs thrown in as asides. Those may also be as prevalent, though I’m a bit hard pressed to think of where. I expect them on things like “theblaze,” but that is, again, explicitly political.

            It is true, as I said, however, that I tend to avoid mainstream red outlets. I read extreme reddish gray libertarian outlets because that’s where my own views lie, and I unavoidably read mainstreamish blue outlets because, well, it’s the New York Times, but I rarely have occasion to read more mainstreamish red opinion, and when I do I tend to think “ick.”

            Maybe “the average red tribe member” is the biggest lacuna in the worldview of academic/intelligentsia types today. Like, Bernie Sanders is probably ideologically farther from me than Rick Santorum, but it’s harder for me to comprehend voting for Rick Santorum than Bernie Sanders.

          • Gene Marsh says:

            ” Maybe “the average red tribe member” is the biggest lacuna “…….on SSC.

            This is the whole truth about this place.

            Its a place where the most powerful political force in american society, in american history, has been vanished.

            Grover Norquist. Newt Gingrich. Roger Ailes. Karl Rove. Hannity. Limbaugh. Foster Friess. Ken Langone. Dick Armey. Fucking Sheldon fucking Adelson. AFP. AEI. ALEC. The NRA. The Heritage Institute. Heartland Institute. Center for Consumer Freedom!!!!….

            If you only came here you’d never know these vocabulary words or their referents. Transpacific Partnership or Gamergate?
            What’s the diversion all about, libertarians?

            There is some motivation to pretend y’all aren’t running the show. Embrace your monoculture. You won the world!

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            To be fair, not all of us are American.

            EDIT: To clarify. Since many of us are not super familiar with American politics, discussions tend to go towards the common ground, which is the internet, where the left is King and identity politics is something people care deeply about and can be used to wield “power”.

          • Peter says:

            Indeed. For a start there’s me, I’m British, and left wing by British standards at that. I tend to prefer “centre-left”, as, well, I’m I slightly old-fashioned liberal who doesn’t subscribe to some of the more alarming SJ ideas, practises and norms.

            Monoculture? I’m not seeing it. There’s no way that, for example, ESR and I can be described as a monoculture.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Gene Marsh:

            Fucking Sheldon fucking Adelson.

            context:I am well on the left side of things, not just here, but broadly in America. Which I only state so you understand where I am coming from.

            Stating something this way is not helpful here. Attempting to boost your argument by simply using emotional words generally makes your argument less persuasive, rather than more.

            Broadly though, I agree with the argument.

            @Whatever Happened To Anonymous:

            American politics, discussions tend to go towards the common ground, which is the internet, where the left is King

            But a) you aren’t constraining your conclusions to the domain from which you draw all your empirical data. And b) you aren’t likely even going to the places on the internet where the American right (broadly) spends its time.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            I more meant political jabs thrown in as asides.

            Allow me to suggest that these only bother (you) if they hit (you), there you don’t notice them if you don’t find them objectionable. I’m sure there is a cognitive bias to cite here, just can’t think of it at the moment.

          • Deiseach says:

            Gene, I don’t know any of these words. I vaguely recognise Rove and Gingrich as American politicians of the Republican Party. I have an idea Limbaugh is a radio show host.

            The rest of it? Could you tell me, off the top of your head, what the ICA, the FCA, Macra, Enda feckin’ Kenny, Joan Burton, IBEC, SIPTU and NAMA refer to?

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            >But a) you aren’t constraining your conclusions to the domain from which you draw all your empirical data.

            Can you clarify what you mean here?

            > b) you aren’t likely even going to the places on the internet where the American right (broadly) spends its time.

            … Their facebook profiles?

          • onyomi says:

            @Heelbearcub

            “Allow me to suggest that these only bother (you) if they hit (you), there you don’t notice them if you don’t find them objectionable. I’m sure there is a cognitive bias to cite here, just can’t think of it at the moment.”

            No offense, but this is pretty obvious, and something I’m already taking into account.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            I think reds are also more aware that some people think they are evil.

            No offense, but this is pretty obvious, and something I’m already taking into account.

            I regard these two statements as not compatible with each other. Red-tribe has the religious right as a firm, solid, reliable part of its base. You are saying that many members of blue-tribe aren’t aware that people in red-tribe think they are evil? Red-tribe has people in leadership positions who are perfectly willing to call people in blue tribe evil. As in elected to the US House of Representatives or the US Senate

            I’m not saying this doesn’t exist in Blue tribe, but the idea that it is vastly over-represented in Blue tribe and only marginally represented in Red tribe doesn’t track with what I see of Red tribe.

          • Nornagest says:

            What’s the diversion all about, libertarians?

            Different people sometimes care about different things. Some of them are better represented on the Internet than others. This does not constitute a “diversion’.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Whatever Happened To Anonymous:

            But a) you aren’t constraining your conclusions to the domain from which you draw all your empirical data.

            Can you clarify what you mean here?

            My contention is that you are drawing broad conclusions about “the left” and “the right” (and those groups in America, I presume) based on what you are seeing on the internet based on the self-selected portion of the internet that you frequent.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            >My contention is that you are drawing broad conclusions about “the left” and “the right” (and those groups in America, I presume) based on what you are seeing on the internet based on the self-selected portion of the internet that you frequent.

            I’d say that’s fair, as long we (as in, you and me), are using “you” (and “we”, respectively) generally, rather than specifically.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            There is some motivation to pretend y’all aren’t running the show. Embrace your monoculture.

            Speaking only of forums somewhat like ssc, I’m not going to check which side this comment came from, because it could have come from either side. People who are used to ‘if you are not with us, you’re against us’ may see any neutral comment as supporting their enemy, and feel out-numbered.

          • “People who are used to ‘if you are not with us, you’re against us’ may see any neutral comment as supporting their enemy, and feel out-numbered.”

            That’s part of it. But the other part is that if you are fairly far out on either tail of a distribution, you naturally tend to lump everyone between your position and the other tail as the opposition—and they do indeed outnumber you.

            From a serious libertarian point of view, entirely replacing the public school system with vouchers is the moderate reform, eliminating government involvement in schooling entirely the hard core position. The former position might be supported by a few percent of the electorate, the latter, I would guess, by less than one percent.

          • Deiseach says:

            Red-tribe has the religious right as a firm, solid, reliable part of its base.

            The Religious Right is not a solid monolith, nor is it immune from fracturing; that piece from back in 2009 is fairly well supported by what is going on today. Statistically the Evangelicals are getting older and not replacing their members at the same rate as the general population. The “mainline” churches are trending more liberal, and there is indeed such a thing as the Religious Left; The Episcopal Church may be tiny in numbers relative to the entire American population but it has long regarded itself as having a voice and influence and leadership role much greater than its numerical base warrants, and it is very much on the progressive side. If Blue Tribe America is indissolubly wedded to, for example, the idea of “pro-choice”, the Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice is right there beside them. The Executive Director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is a minister of the United Church of Christ, the Rev. Barry Lynn, and they are as eager as anyone to keep creationism out of schools (for one topic).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:

            I think I broadly agree with what you are saying. Well, except that I would not describe the Religious Right as “fracturing”. You also point out that they are shrinking due to demographic trends, but I see no evidence that existing members of the religious right are splitting off and joining the progressive religious left.

            But I don’t know what that has to do with whether or not members of blue tribe a) believe they are hated by members of red tribe, and b) are justified in that belief.

            In that vein, the first article you linked is instructive. Right at the beginning the author points out: “1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism.” The rhetoric around that culture war coming from the religious right has largely been thin or unmasked hatred. The RR believes that blue-tribe is beholden to agents of evil, to be purged from the earth if they do not repent.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @HeelBearCub

            As a US liberal some of whose best friends are RRR, I mostly hear “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” On both sides, whether disagreement or opposition or oppression, etc, can be called ‘hating the person’ depends on who is doing the calling, how seriously, how big zis vocabulary is, and how many syllables zie expects zis audience to stand for.

        • Held In Escrow says:

          I really like Auerbach; he’s a dedicated lefty who is upset with how much of the left acts, but is also a good enough writer that he can make all the appropriate noises to get them to listen to him. I think his piece on online leftism is worthy flogging a bit: http://theamericanreader.com/jenesuispasliberal-entering-the-quagmire-of-online-leftism/

          It’s something I value in an author; being able to talk in the language of a community well enough that you can get them to agree to at least hear out an idea which, on its face, is completely taboo.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @houseboatonstyx:

        I’m familiar with that. But I think that usually applies when they have managed to think of the sinner as an actual person. And of course there are plenty of RRs who endorse the kind of actions that lead to, say, Nigeria passing a law recently that calls for capital punishment for homosexual acts.

        And then there is the fact that they maintain that the various acts and positions that blue tribes holds are evil. Hate the sin, love the sinner is all well and good, but punish the sin is where the rubber meets the road.

        The question isn’t, how reasonable are many RRs, but rather, is there enough accepted, mainstream RRs whose rhetoric and actions are generally accepted by red-tribe that a blue member could fairly conclude that there are plenty of red-tribe members who hate blue tribe.

        Do I have to go go dig around Right Wing Watch to find some of the almost infinite examples of red tribe inviting me to rhetorically suck on the barrel of their gun?

        This is all in the context of onyomi claiming that blue-tribe expresses their hate for for red-tribe more, which is demonstrably not true.

        • houseboatonstyx says:

          It might be possible to get some kind of measurement by making a list of expressions that you think show ‘hate’, then searching for them in a large sample of texts from both sides.

          Then show the top scoring texts to volunteers from both sides and let each volunteer remove from the list any instances that are “not true hate” or are metaphorical, etc. Score the texts again. Of the highest scorers, you can eliminate any text that you consider not truly mainstream/accepted.

          Then sort the texts into Red and Blue, and score again. Now you have a Red Number and a Blue number you can compare, with computers and volunteers doing most of the work and providing some objectivity, and giving you shorter and shorter lists to read.

          (Letting the volunteers also at an early stage dismiss any texts that come from sources they consider non-mainstream, would make less work for them, but might have some disadvantages for the examiner.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Sure.

            But it’s completely missing my point.

            I’m not trying to claim superiority of blue tribe rhetoric, merely refute the claim that red-tribe is so lacking in its employ of hateful rhetoric that one will hardly ever see it.

            The examples of red-tribe employing hateful rhetoric are legion. This is sufficient to disprove onyomi.

  6. Albatross says:

    Europe has a network of countries that no longer require passports to cross borders within the network. I don’t remember reading anything to suggest Europe’s GDP doubled or went down 25% or diverged from countries outside the network.

    Both sides of the open border argument wildly over estimate the impacts. Even with powerful incentives to move like Detroit and post-Katrina New Orleans and no barriers to better places to live, most people won’t move.

    Even in Italy, Turkey and Jordan where refugees arrive daily, allowing the refugees to work is basically going to offset GDP impacts. Long term for these countries open borders could reduce costs and allow more refugees to pass through to other countries which also disperses the impact.

    Doubling GDP or reducing it by 25% are estimates that should be attached to space aliens or followed by the phrase “over several decades.”

    • Jon Gunnarsson says:

      I agree that we should view claims of doubling GDP with scepticism, but you are wrong to suggest that Europe’s GDP not doubling is a strong argument against the doubling claim. Most of the benefit from open borders come from migration from very poor countries to very rich countries. All we have in Europe is open borders between very rich and moderately rich countries, hence we should only expect modest gains.

  7. stargirl says:

    Signal boosting this comment since it is buried deep in a comment thread. The comment does not directly capture my experience (I am often accused of being a sexist, I do not recall being seriously accused of racism). However despite being many standard deviations from the norm in my level of social acceptance (I consider furries to be badly oppressed for example) I often “Feel” myself to be on the right. As the comment says I stand with the enemies of my enemies or I stand alone. Sadly I think I am forced to stand alone.

    “@undefined:

    I have been publicly and explicitly accused of racism, not by one crackpot but by the consensus of a community formerly as diverse, thoughtful, and tolerant as this one, for having expressed the belief that cultural factors can adversely effect the performance of one nation’s armed forces relative to its neighbors. When I pushed back, trying to clarify whether “racism” was really what they meant to say, even though the nations involved all had majority populations of the same race, the response was that yes, I was a racist, beyond the pale, unfit for civilized society, unwelcome in their company unless I recanted, and that offering such a defense as this made my comments doubly offensive.

    It was, in hindsight, a mistake to have left quietly. But that was then, this is now:

    A: When you say “no more racists, zero”, do you mean to include me on the list of people to be expelled from society, or am I one of the tolerable not-quite-racists in your view?

    A’: Have you cleared this with all of your liberal friends?

    B: Do you understand that removing racists from society has costs as well as benefits, and that these costs increase exponentially as you have to search wider and finer, probe deeper with less discrimination to find the increasingly few remaining racists?

    B’: Do you and your colleagues really believe that those costs are worth the benefit, at the levels they will have to reach to get the very last racist? Because even the supposedly-intolerant Red Tribe is pretty much resigned to accepting a small residue of communists that can’t practically be eradicated.

    C: Do you think your offer of peaceful coexistence if only I will denounce Eich and Moldbug is even remotely credible?

    You cannot eradicate every last racist without waging war, and I mean to use that term without hyperbole. And you cannot exclude me from that war. I am, by the warped standards of your tribe, already denounced as a racist many times over. Also a capitalist, and a libertarian. And I’m one of those shy nerdy guys Scott wrote about in “untitled”, yet unwilling to declare myself unworthy of romantic attention. Probably a sexist in other ways as well, maybe a rapist and certainly an MRA. Do I need to go on?

    If “no more racists, zero” is truly the standard, then I’m on your tribe’s hit list, my name carved in adamantine runes. I can stand with the enemies of my enemy, or I can stand alone.”

    • John Schilling says:

      Standing alone is for peacetime. In time of war, standing alone ultimately means not standing at all, and limiting yourself to alliances where every individual member agrees with the goodness of every other, doesn’t change that. In time of war, you stand with Stalin knowing he’s a murderer twenty million times over, needing no other reason than that he stands against the guy that plans to kill at least twice that number.

      Moldbug wouldn’t be my first choice as a comrade, but undefined proposes to wage total war.

      • stargirl says:

        I feel rather conflicted due to my social views. For example my girlfriend is trans. Much of my family is on the “right.” My immediate family reacted poorly imo. My sister cried, my mom inquired if I needed therapy. My nuclear family would be rather horrified if I brought my GF to meet my father’s extended family. This is a rather bad spot. In general if someone is sufficiently left (but not into TERF feminism) they are likely to be cool with me and my GF. *

        On the other hand I never fear for my job because of people on the right. I have been viciously insulted and mocked on a number of forums. Always the people doing the attacking where on the left (feminists). These people also generally try to get me banned.

        I am starting to come to the conclusion that even if the right has problems with me the right is probably, overall, more tolerant. At least they will not wage “total war” on me. One sees the “tolerance” of the right even in the neoreactionaries. A number of neoreactionary writers are lbgt. Obviously some neoreactionaries insult these writers. But no one is purging them. Even Jim opposed purging people for interacting with Justin Tunny.

        *The situation with my GF does however make me truly furious whenever people talk about cis people benefiting from transphobia. I do not fucking benefit from transphobia. I love my GF and honestly prefer to not be told to get therapy.

        • John Schilling says:

          That sounds like a tough place to be in. Agreed that the right is unlikely to be after your job; some strains could give you grief in other areas of your life, but it seems like you are sensible enough not to be dealing with that sort.

          Family, well, you don’t get to pick those. Per Frost, it should be a “when you have to go there, they have to take you in” situation, and that should always have room for an SO of any gender as well. And maybe it would turn out that way for you and yours, if you had to fall back on it, but you shouldn’t have to even wonder.

          Best of luck finding places you can be comfortable, and I hope this continues to be one of them.

        • Bugmaster says:

          FWIW, I don’t know any trans people (as far as I’m aware), but this TERF stuff has a tendency to make me angry to the point of irrationality (i.e., it takes a lot of work to keep my emotions in check when the issue comes up).

          So, LGBT activists and feminists have fought hard over the years to gain some legitimacy, legal recognition, and basic human respect. Many of their heroes quite literally risked (and, in some cases, lost) their lives for this entirely worthy cause. So, what do they do as soon as they’ve gained some measure of political and social power ? That’s right, they turn around and begin wielding that power to persecute someone even less powerful than themselves ! Woo ! Progress !

          • Deiseach says:

            So, what do they do as soon as they’ve gained some measure of political and social power ? That’s right, they turn around and begin wielding that power to persecute someone even less powerful than themselves !

            The Great Day
            (W.B. Yeats)

            Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot!
            A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot.
            Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again!
            The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.

          • John Schilling says:

            So, LGBT activists and feminists have fought hard over the years…

            Have they, in fact? Collaborating as groups, I mean, not individually fighting their own fights or individual Ls also being feminists. My own feminist history is hazy, but doesn’t seem to include any conspicuous examples.

            And I can see several rational grounds for at least some feminists rejecting an alliance with LGBT. If you take it as axiomatic that such an alliance will be present, that all victims of the patriarchy must stand together or some such thing, then sure, the TERFs are traitors to the cause and that’s mind-numbingly infuriating.

            Without that axiom, the TERFs seem quite a bit more comprehensible, and feminists overall seem a less perfect fit as allies of LGBT.

            “Comprehensible”, of course, is not the same thing as “good”. But it is useful nonetheless.

          • Nornagest says:

            Have they, in fact? Collaborating as groups, I mean, not individually fighting their own fights or individual Ls also being feminists.

            As far as I know the movements are largely separable — and race is separable from both. Or at least were up until ten years ago or so, and outside of Tumblr I’m not sure how much has changed since; this talk about intersectionality is really quite a new thing, and it doesn’t seem to have made much of a theoretic or organizational splash.

            The concepts of patriarchy and male privilege in particular are a messy fit with LGBT theory (and to a lesser extent with anti-racism), and I don’t find circumlocutions like “transmisogyny” very satisfying. Of course, I’m biased there.

          • Anonymous says:

            A lot of TERFs are lesbians. Some of it is ridiculous fighting over un-privilege, but a lot of it is that they want safe spaces from trans (eg, MI womyn’s festival). The LGBT alliance is more fragile than the lesbian-feminist alliance. As for the latter, see the Lavender Menace.

          • John Schilling says:

            Yes, the other dubious axiom in the equation is that “LGBT” is a natural alliance whose members are all closer to each other than to any outside group.

            An L can be a member of feminism, or of LGBT(QBDSMXYZ…), or of both. But if feminism feels it has cause to stand against, say, G or T, then the Ls have to chose. And feminism is a bigger tent that may welcome unencumbered cis-female Ls.

            It would suck mightily to be a T or BT or even an LT, if the natural alliances turn out to be L+feminist and GBT+whatever. But it may be so.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      My thanks to the author of the above, for both that message and the rest of the thread.

    • undefined in this scope says:

      @John Schilling
      A: Is my personal view meaningful to your ability to say these things in public? For clarity no (though having not been there I don’t how much charity you’re giving yourself in that abstract), nor do I consider Eich really a bigot, nor the poor unsuspecting pizza place in Indiana to add some less blatant examples to this mix. I’m not sure debating these finer points is useful though because:
      A’: While I lack a rigorous survey the statement “publicly making hateful statements is sufficient reason to fire/ostracize/exclude someone” would easily clear the bar.

      B: Yes (did I not mentioned that these are scary times?), but the current approach to “where does this end” seems very much to be “we’ll know it when we see it”. The fact that this path is scary and morally troubled doesn’t dissuade people taking it if the alternatives look worse. A lot of people who thought that “live and let live” was working just fine were shocked by the past ~year of police brutality, GGate, etc. and they’re looking for something more proactive than cordial debate. The answer to why am I on the wrong side of the free speech is that I agree with them that the status quo is untenable.
      B’: They didn’t resign themselves to a certain tolerable level of communists, they kept grinding until it proved ineffective (and if you look at American politics vs the general West they were quite effective at grinding). Whack-them-as-we-see-them doesn’t have a failure point until it starts trying to whack opinions held by a significant percentage of the population.

      So pick any imaginary viewpoint, if you held a survey would 40% of America say “yes that’s racist”? If so you will probably not be able to get away with saying that on twitter (or any other forum where you hang your real name on it).

      C: No, but not because I wouldn’t think better of you (I honestly think your defense of all speech damn the consequences is noble) but because this current phenomena is more an immune response than a guided movement. The fact that any sample of the movement only agrees about a subset of the targets doesn’t prevent it from surviving and perpetuating. Arguments about gulags/state sanctioned murder/etc. aren’t seen as convincing since the people expect the fever to burn out once it’s driven the perceived level of hate back down to pre-youtube levels (which might be a bad bet in our brave new voluntary panopticon).

      • Peter says:

        “A lot of people who thought that “live and let live” was working just fine were shocked by the past ~year of police brutality, GGate, etc. and they’re looking for something more proactive than cordial debate.”

        And so the toxoplasma spreads…

      • John Schilling says:

        @undefined: People like you did make it impossible, or at least intolerably painful, for me to express my views in public. I’ve been working on my pain tolerance.

        You all have apparently been working on your ability to ban politically incorrect coders from jobs and conferences in San Francisco, on the grounds that this will stop crooked cops from shooting poor black men in Missouri. Somehow. You’ve learned how to attack weak targets on your home ground, to send a message, in supreme confidence that this message will be understood and accepted in the way you want.

        And you think that this war of yours will result in an improvement over the status quo?

        • houseboatonstyx says:

          @ John Schilling
          You all have apparently been working on your ability to ban politically incorrect coders from jobs and conferences in San Francisco, on the grounds that this will stop crooked cops from shooting poor black men in Missouri. Somehow.

          Well, that beats the 4th order effect (all four were about signalling) that I saw in a discussion of EA’s malaria nets, which ran something like this.

          [I’m reproducing the use of the word ‘African’ as zis comment did.]
          If you donate a large amount to EA and brag about it…
          A) … you’re presenting as caring about African children
          B) … and about all Africans
          C) … which inspires you to be nicer to Africans you meet in the US
          D) … which inspires other USians to be nicer to Africans they meet in the US.

          • Nornagest says:

            Frankly, I think the paternalistic attitude it expresses towards African children, and by extension Africans in general, is going to far outweigh any potential benefits of presenting as being nice towards them. I’m no SJW, but there’s more to racism than being mean.

            But I think possibly feeling a little more condescending towards people of African descent you meet is an acceptable tradeoff for actual Africans actually not dying of malaria. (And maybe Southeast Asians and Amazonians too, though I don’t know if any bednets are shipped to those locales yet.)

          • Peter says:

            Italics might have been me. Ah, here we go: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/06/01/ot21-master-and-commenter/#comment-207863. I’m not quite sure that’s a 100% accurate rendering of my point, but it’s close enough – the incidental details don’t matter.

            I seem to have voted 2:1 in favour of calling such reasoning sophistry. Anyway, if that really was what inspired that comment, then exasperation at the show of mental gymnastics with only the most tenuous connection to reality is… probably the best response.

            Actually preventing actual Africans from actually dying of actual malaria does indeed seem like a far more sensible reason to donate to AMF etc.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Peter

            Thank you. That was the right thread, which I had looked for but couldn’t find. My memory added some intermediate steps, and fairness would add intermediates to John Schilling’s example also. I pulled my italicized hypothetical quote from your declared steelmanning of inner SJWs, all within so many firewalls of disclaimer that I got lost trying to count and praise all of them.

            It does sound like John Schilling, you, and I are on the same page as to real effects vs signalling.

      • notes says:

        ‘Immune response’ or autoimmune disorder?

        Is it likely that the perceived level of hate will recede, when the ‘fever’ is itself perceived as increasing the level of hate?

        Is it reasonable to ask whether ‘whack-them-as-we-see-them’ has already hit the failure point you specified? As evidenced by, say, public backlash or the more easily quantifiable crowdfunding?

        What result follows from rules of engagement that encourage any grouping of 40% of the population or more to seek public shaming and shunning for those that disagree? What if there are two opposed groups of 40%+? What’s the equilibrium?

        Skip the arguments about the gulags and where all this could end – assuming the status quo is untenable, does this pattern of action improve things in the short run? In the long?

        • undefined in this scope says:

          @notes
          > ‘Immune response’ or autoimmune disorder?
          Well that was Scotts argument in Toxoplasma of Rage; I would counter that it’s a rational last resort to moving a stuck Overton Window.

          > What if there are two opposed groups of 40%+? What’s the equilibrium?
          An epic and disastrous shitstorm until both sides realize that the losses are too high and move to different tactics? If there is actually a 40% army of the willing-to-get-ostracized for “blacks are an inferior species” that is a hill I am willing to die on. But do you consider that 40% vs. 40% case likely? It seems ironic to ask here but are there no beliefs that you would fight an unwinnable and/or dirty fight for?

          > in the short run?
          That would be rather hard to prove either way. In terms of some correlations: gender role issues are improving significantly (I don’t think Rage is the primary mover here but it is what killed the Indiana RFA) and the odds of a police officer being charged with murder has moved from its previously immutable 0%.

          > In the long?
          In the long run I expect it to stop! Overwhelmingly we are not fighting against people with thoroughly reasoned positions, if it successfully expels the disease of flawed memes the immune system shuts down.

          • Cauê says:

            “blacks are an inferior species”

            How much, would you say, is your side unaware that they’re mostly fighting people whose positions are way, way removed from this, and how much is it actual dishonest misrepresentation?

          • notes says:

            I consider the 40% vs. 40% case to be an adequate approximation of where American politics currently stands. I don’t think there are currently 40% willing to be ostracized for ‘blacks are an inferior species.’ I do think there are two blocks of ~40%+ willing to ostracize back against the other tribe, be it blue or red, and I think this can escalate cyclically.

            Sure, there are things in life for which I’d fight to win, and take the moral cost on my conscience after. The question I’m trying to ask is, are you sure these actions are actually going to help things?

            I believe (and correct me if I misread you) that you argue that much ill, beginning with an ‘epic and disastrous shitstorm’ is an acceptable price to achieve a new and better status quo. The argument I’ve been making isn’t that you should have different preferences about how the world should be – it’s that you might wish to check whether your chosen means actually do move you toward your chosen ends. If they don’t, is that price still acceptable? For the chance of a better tomorrow, weighted against the chance of a worse tomorrow, and considered in the light of a certainly worse today?

            I believe you when you say ‘a lot of people are looking for something more proactive than cordial debate.’ It’s entirely human that the term you use to describe what they seek isn’t effective.

            Human and predictable as it is, the leap from ‘something must be done’ to ‘this is something, so let’s do it’ rarely achieves the ostensible goals. It does, however, let the newly proactive congratulate themselves and each other on their activity; the more violent the activity, the greater the plaudits.

            And yet, greater sacrifices do not inevitably lead to greater results: often they simply lead to greater waste. Price and value are loose correlates, at best.

            The short run is full of noise, and is – as you say – hard to prove. Still, against the changes you note must be set the backlashes. Are you confident that this process converts more than it antagonizes?

            In the long run you ‘expect it to stop’… because the opposing positions are not thoroughly reasoned… and impliedly because mob shaming is an effective way of inducing people to adopt better reasoned positions?

            Personally, I’d concur that mob shaming can be effective at changing public positions (and less effective, but still effective, at changing private ones), but I don’t think it has much to do with whether either the old or the new position is thoroughly reasoned. It is a tool to impose a predetermined dogma, not a way to find truth. I would not be confident that this process expels, rather than introduces, flawed memes.

          • notes says:

            Fare well, and better luck commenting on other topics.

            The basic question of how and how far one should go to address a perceived wrong is a real one, and well worth discussion.

            (There’s a separate but related discussion about what should be perceived as wrong, of course).

      • Cauê says:

        (did I not mentioned that these are scary times?)

        This may be your impression, but I think you’d have a hard time supporting that. This reminded me of people thinking violence is up when in fact it declined dramatically.

        (and insert standard objection here re:GG)

        • undefined in this scope says:

          @Cauê
          Scary because I agree in abstract with most of the concerns expressed here by other posters (thought not in their estimates of probability). I don’t know that you’ll trust me on this but I called myself a libertarian for a very long chunk of my life, I moved to “crazy liberal” when I was convinced that the level of harm inflicted by the status quo was far exceeding the good brought about by those ideals.

          I already am on the wrong side of these arguments in several places for thinking that the Indiana pizza place was just kind of harmlessly ignorant.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @undefined in this scope:

            I don’t know that you’ll trust me on this but I called myself a libertarian for a very long chunk of my life, I moved to “crazy liberal” when I was convinced that the level of harm inflicted by the status quo was far exceeding the good brought about by those ideals.

            I have observed this kind of behavior multiple times. It seem to me that there is a certain thought pattern, lets call it reactionary although that might not really be correct, that underlies people on the edge of any ideology.

            It seems like that thought pattern is actually more determinant of the actions/ideas of those who fall into it than the actual ideology. I think this can be seen in how far left and far right tend to fall into the same tests of ideological purity, so you see dictatorships on the left and the right that tend to end up with states that are exceedingly similar in character.

            I’m not sure if that rings any bells for you, or if it even could, given that I am attempting to characterize your mental state in a less than flattering manner.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Mark Atwood:

            Allow me to suggest that your comments seem exceedingly disingenuous. “Please continue talking so everyone can see how horrible you really are” is not actually an invitation to discourse.

            If that is wasn’t what you meant, it is how your comment reads.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            @HeelBearCub
            No offense taken, its an accurate assessment. My actions being moral is predicated on being able to reason them out well enough to counteract that. (Really folks, I do understand Schelling Fences and I’m not going to endorse killing anyone for their beliefs).

            Which is also why the “crazy gray” around here is interesting and why I’m curious how neoreactionaries form (since it seems likely to be a failure mode of the same mental system).

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Lots of people convert from one ideology to another. It doesn’t make them an expert on the old ideology, or prove that the old ideology was wrong.

            If the person is thoughtful, switching ideologies makes them more skeptical about the new ideology.

            If the person is not thoughtful, then they consider themselves to have had A Conversion Experience and then can easily throw out all the old stuff and ignore anyone who believes the old stuff.

          • nydwracu says:

            (Really folks, I do understand Schelling Fences and I’m not going to endorse killing anyone for their beliefs)

            Well, congratulations on avoiding the descent into absolute psychotic evil that a lot (by volume) of Blues have gotten sucked into.

            I spent a semester of college in Massachusetts. That’s where I found out that there are a lot of people who’d kill me and most of my family if they were given the chance. And thought it was totally reasonable and acceptable to say as much. (The things that are associated with Tumblr these days existed long before it. And mostly came from academia.)

            What I’ve been seeing since then is that no one has learned the right lessons from the 20th century. Meta is hard, I guess.

          • James Picone says:

            @Mark Atwood:

            Man, how could I not want to post here with implications like that running around? I sure do love the implication that I’m in favour of ruthless genocide because I think that government-funded public services are superior to private services in some sectors! And I guess I should stop the charade and make it clear that I understand exactly how the regulations I’m in favour of lead inexorably to burning everyone right of me on a stake! Believing that a functioning welfare system (ideally basic income) is a moral imperative was clearly just a cover for my desire to chain all capitalists to mighty engines, that they might toil until they die.

          • Bugmaster says:

            Am I missing some context here, or something ? “undefined in this scope” says,

            I moved to “crazy liberal” when I was convinced that the level of harm inflicted by the status quo was far exceeding the good brought about by those ideals.

            What is so frightening about this statement ? Isn’t this a pretty basic belief, that any activist, for any political position, surely holds ? A person who is ok with status quo and has no desire to change it would presumably find political arguments pretty pointless, and would decline to participate in them… right ?

            Wanting to change things does not, in and of itself, make you a crazy liberal (or conservative) fanatic bent on world domination, it just makes you a politically active person.

            EDIT: I should add that I totally disagree with “undefined in this scope”‘s views, but the mere desire to change things in and of itself is, IMO, unobjectionable.

          • Cauê says:

            Am I missing some context here, or something ?

            Pretty sure the reactions are more about undefined’s other contributions, especially the exchange in this thread.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            I did some soul searching by rereading what the actual left said about Eich’s resignation and I think the flaw in Mark’s post here is that he says “remind people how crazy the left is” which he means (intentionally or otherwise) “remind my ingroup why our outgroup is nuts”. I don’t think he’s even getting that because I mostly seem to have reminded them how to summon a mental image of their favorite straw-liberal.

            Which makes for great ingroup signaling, but outside that you look totally intransigent and hopelessly incompatible with society.

            When I decided to get into this thread it wasn’t because I thought I would convince anyone to change their moral principles, but because there seems to be a total lack of understanding of what motivated their outgroup. But in reality it seems to be primarily willful ignorance and there’s no amount of talking on my part that will change that.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            I thought it was pretty clear in the context that “remind my ingroup why our outgroup is nuts” was a paraphrase.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            @Mark
            > Even as a paraphrase, your made up quote is incorrect.

            Well, it’s outside the edit window so the best I can do is a sincere apology for the confusion.

            It was intended as a paraphrase, and I stand by it’s accuracy in that form unless you genuine believe advocating the methods you accuse me of is a “sane” position. In which case we’ll just have to be mutually horrified at the idea of either of our straw men gaining significant political power.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Mark Atwood:

            Yes, please do keep posting so that everyone can see that would rather engage with straw-men than actual argument.

            Sorry to everyone else, that was a sort jerky thing to post. I hope the point was clear.

          • Faradn says:

            “Please, do continue to engage here, so that everyone else can get a clearer and clearer understanding of the blue’s desired endstate, and a clearer and clearer understanding of the means the blues are willing to employ to get there.”

            I think the rightists who post here would like to think that “undefined” is representative of liberals–that would make it easy to write us off.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @undefined in this scope – “Yes (did I not mentioned that these are scary times?), but the current approach to “where does this end” seems very much to be “we’ll know it when we see it”.”

        So “we know it when we see it” is the targeting system, right? There’s a pattern in each member’s mind, and they match people and events in the world around them to that pattern, and if the match isn’t good enough, then the outrage kicks in, right? The problem, as I see it, is that the pattern is fairly malleable, and the visual input is heavily edited by the movement itself. Change the pattern, change the input image, and you can generate or suppress outrage more or less on demand. Actual lies usually aren’t necessary; it can be done with spin. Movements beget leaders, and leaders have a vested interest in keeping the movement going. It seems like a system pretty much tailor-made to grant overwhelming power to gigantic assholes.

        “A lot of people who thought that “live and let live” was working just fine were shocked by the past ~year of police brutality, GGate, etc. and they’re looking for something more proactive than cordial debate.”

        I would put forward that many of those instances are excellent examples of the visual input being tampered with. It’s a positive feedback loop. I mean, last fall, we had multiple high-profile accusations of rape/sexual assault, and a broad push for change in rules and institutions to combat “misogyny”, and then a bunch of them turned out to be fabricated. Then we were told that the fabrications didn’t matter, and we still needed sweeping social changes that give more power to the movement, because anything else would be letting the misogynists win. Ambition doesn’t have a satiation point.

        “So pick any imaginary viewpoint, if you held a survey would 40% of America say “yes that’s racist”? ”

        The movement is actively working to alter public opinion on what is and isn’t racism/sexism/etc. The more they succeed, the more power they have. The more power they have, the more effectively they can shift and/or control the definition. Again, positive feedback loop.

        I mean, you mentioned that you realize this is dangerous and morally fraught territory. But everything about this is self-perpetuating and -aggrandizing. And you expect or at least hope for a positive outcome, and that sorta baffles me.

        …You mentioned somewhere in this mess that you used to be fairly libertarian, and somewhat recently became distressed enough about the state of our society to switch to “crazy blue”, as I think you described it. If you don’t mind telling the story, how did that happen? What prompted the switch? Assuming you haven’t been driven off?

    • Anonymous Umberlla says:

      I think you guys have to consider the possibility that undefined in this scope is a right-wing guy pretending to have left-wing opinions. “They want to eradicate us” is a fear or fantasy held by many people on either side of many issues. “I want to eradicate them” is much less common, and most people are sorry to have allies who will say it loud and proud.

      • undefined in this scope says:

        I would deny your first point and agree with your second; however:
        > “I want to eradicate them”
        There seems to be an inability on this forum to separate “I want to remove racist ideals from the public sphere” from “I want to physically maim and murder the racists”. I wouldn’t be on this path if I thought the former required the latter.

        • Anonymous Umberlla says:

          I don’t believe you! But of course I can’t be sure, the world contains all kinds.

          “There seems to be an inability…” It’s not always an inability. Misunderstanding can be a rhetorical tactic. One way to limit the effectiveness of this tactic, is to use empathy when you express your ideas.

          It’s even better to use empathy when you formulate your ideas — but that advice is irrelevant if your ideas are phony, like I’m accusing.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            That would seem to cut both ways in your comment; but since I am apparently a walking Poe’s law violation here I will have to bow out.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            “There seems to be an inability…” It’s not always an inability. Misunderstanding can be a rhetorical tactic.

            “There seems to be an inability…” — is a way to be polite, and politeness is one of the standards here. That’s a nicer phrase than “Does EVERYBODY here do X?” “Is there anyone here who can X” … etc etc.

        • John Schilling says:

          Almost nobody wants to physically murder and maim the enemy, at least at the start. That’s, well, the Final Solution. Plan A is pretty much always for the enemy to admit their wrongness or at least weakness, surrender, and agree to live according to the conqueror’s rules. Maybe the leaders will have to go to prison for a while, but everyone else can just quietly recant and submit, nobody has to be maimed or killed.

          Undefined and his kin, almost certainly imagine they can achieve this through organized ostracism, social harassment, and democratic political activism. It’s when they find that this won’t actually make all the racists shut up and go away, that we get to see what their Plan B, and ultimately their final solution, look like.

          • Tom Womack says:

            It is at best catastrophically uncharitable to assert that someone has a final solution in mind. Don’t do that.

          • Bryan Hann says:

            “It is at best catastrophically uncharitable to assert that someone has a final solution in mind. Don’t do that.”

            Which is why I am glad that he doesn’t. (Or at least didn’t.)

          • Deiseach says:

            I think part of the problem is that what gets defined as “racism” gets defined down to finer and finer grains, so that heated and violent arguments about “Hispanic” versus “Latin@” versus “Spanish” and what exact shade of ‘brown’ is meant and how racist you are for even asking the difference take place.

            I agree racism is a problem. I disagree that questioning one person’s doctrinaire diktat about a particular point is racism.

      • Cauê says:

        I’ve learned to take this kind of suspicion seriously (“this doesn’t look like one of us, it looks like someone failing an Ideological Turing Test”). But their 10:42:00 comment suggests that it’s not necessary to say undefined is “pretending” to remark that they don’t look representative of the left.

        • undefined in this scope says:

          Is it really unexpected that a forum that mostly composed of the fringe of the grey would attract a fringe of the blue? But as pointed out by Anonymous Umberlla, charitable engagement here seems to be impossible so I will have to bow out.

          • Nornagest says:

            “Mostly composed of the fringe of the gray”? Christ. You admit qualms about tarring and feathering one racist and suddenly everyone thinks you’re harboring Nazis under the floorboards.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            I didn’t intend fringe as a euphemism for bigot/racist, there’s a wide variety of non-mainstream positions espoused but they are pretty overwhelmingly grey.

            (And it’s not like they bother to get under the floorboards, it’s more that Scott throws a rug over them in the open threads.)

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s not “gray” I’m objecting to so much as “fringe”. From where I’m standing, the bulk of the commentariat looks mainstream Gray; its tolerance for occasional fringe specimens does not imply that they’re well represented. At this point I think there are more leftists complaining about them.

            And even that tolerance has limits; witness what happened to Jim. Not that I disagree with that choice; I’m willing to hear just about anyone out as long as they’re polite about it, but Jim really, really wasn’t.

            (The Godwin annoys me too, but I guess I brought that down on myself.)

          • Deiseach says:

            Somebody remind me again what all these colours mean. It’s hard enough for my poor agéd brain to remember that Red and Blue in the American context are something not exactly mapping onto the opposite of what Red and Blue are over this side of the pond.

            Orange and Green I understand.

            Grey/gray and violet confuse me, so imagine how tangled I get trying to work out what a red-tinged blue fringe with a gray fringe represents 🙂

          • Nornagest says:

            Somebody remind me again what all these colours mean.

            Increasingly they seem to be used to mean “right-wing”, “left-wing”, and “anime perverts with weird political views” respectively, but that’s probably a corruption.

            My take on it is that Scott originally meant “red tribe” to mean the religious, rural, lower-middle to middle-class core of the American Right, “blue tribe” to mean the American Left’s agnostic, educated, urban and suburban core (“urban” here meaning geographically, not a euphemism for “black”), and “gray” to mean the emerging cultural clusters coming out of the Internet. Cultures, in other words, not political views as such, although they tend to be tightly correlated.

            That doesn’t remotely cover all the important blocs in the States, but Red and Blue are probably the most important ones.

          • Yes, I’m always vaguely amused that it’s the Red Tribe that is traditionally well-known for worrying about the Red Menace.

          • Alraune says:

            Red tribe/Blue tribe should be understood as primarily a matter of regional culture, with the actual political affiliations secondary. Blue territory is coastal, Red territory is rural, Grey territory is virtual with a couple meatspace colonies on the West coast.

            A decent way of summing up the difference between the two models –though it might be useless if you haven’t actually lived in the relevant regions– would be that the political Red Tribe is headquartered in Austin, Texas, while the cultural Red Tribe is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Though both Blues are in New York.)

        • Jaskologist says:

          Frankly, I was starting to think the same thing. I’m no blue, but this matched my darkest caricatures of SJWs a little too well.

          • Held In Escrow says:

            I’m fairly certain that calling people double agents is somewhat taboo if you want to engage in productive debate. I’m not getting that vibe off of undefined and it most certainly seems to a net negative to enable that sort of tactic even if it occasionally would catch a real crook.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            To be honest, he/she is far too apologetic, polite and straightforward to be a strawman. I mean, if I were to make a strawman, I wouldn’t try to make this helpful.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @Held in Escrow

            In this case, the person is either:
            1. Someone who has declared “total war” against my ilk.
            2. Some who is part of my ilk, but a liar.

            Either way, we’re already past the point of productive debate. And, though I’m not extending charity to the individual in this case, I think doing so is actually being more charitable to the blue team in general.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            If this is where the “culture war” framing device is going to take us, we might as well drop it.

    • John Schilling says:

      Yes, that’s me, and nice to see you again.

      I don’t think the state of the SF community is as generally or universally bad as you describe. The local cons I have attended lately have been mostly apolitical or politically diverse, and I’m still reading a lot of perfectly good professionally-published works from NYC-based houses not named after a misspelled legume. The points of attack have become increasingly obvious, especially the past two years, and now take the appearance of enemy beachheads. But a beachhead is the beginning of an invasion; there’s still a good ways to go before we’re down to La Resistance making a last stand from their redoubt in the Carolina Piedmont.

      Similarly, I don’t think undefined truly speaks for an overwhelming consensus of liberal Americans. He represents an emergent strain that could, but has not yet, become dominant.

      And, @anonymous umbrella below, I’m pretty sure he’s the real thing. Most of his early posts here were too subtle and too reasonable to be plausible sockpuppetry. It was only when we poked at some of the rougher spots and asked “wait, that’s a bit much there, did you really mean that?”, that the true form emerged. Sockpuppets don’t wait to be evoked like that.

      • LHN says:

        I think I know the online community you’re referencing as well. (I used my full name there, though LHN was in my sig file.) I remember beginning to lose patience with it when a comment of mine was read as racist by a prominent participant in a way that was pretty much the opposite of the principle of charity, and made me feel as if nearly two decades of participation hadn’t so much as gotten me the benefit of the doubt.

        Agreed that SF cons vary a lot, and there’s a lot of variation even within them. But the blacklisting and disinviting of guests are depressing, as are the endless cycle of kerfuffles and the current Hugo polarization. (On which I don’t feel terribly comfortable in either camp, and don’t really want to spend my free time marching in a civil war in any case. But of course that leaves the field occupied primarily by those who do.)

        Really, I’d just like someplace to talk about SF– online or in person– without having to bite my tongue re politics, especially now that heterodox opinions increasingly feel as if they carry the risk of ostracism. That seemed easier to find 20+ years ago than it does now– political arguments were hardly absent, but they were secondary to the shared interest.

        (Or maybe that’s just rose-colored glasses looking at youth.)

        • Nornagest says:

          Would this be the forum that begat John M. Ford’s Romeo and Juliet Infernokrusher sonnet, way back in the day?

        • LHN says:

          If it is, then I’m the one who’s misinterpreting. (Though that forum had some overlapping participants with the one I was thinking of.)

          In any case, I hadn’t seen that before googling, and previously unseen work by Ford, who died way too young, is always welcome.

        • As some evidence that the situation in SF isn’t that bad, the recent Baycon had a pretty clear leftish slant–but I was put on a variety of panels, including one on climate, surely by people who had some idea of my views.

  8. Agronomous says:

    I actually walked by the American Statistical Association’s headquarters a few days ago. Their address is:

    732 +/- 2 North Washington Street
    Alexandria, VA

    • Zeno of Citium says:

      I just looked this up and I am so disappointed to find out this isn’t true, at least according to the ASA website and Google street view.

  9. Jos says:

    FWIW, after a couple days of thought and a lot of helpful comments upthread, I’m ready to take the radical stand that blocking Yarvin is not cool.

    1) He’s there to discuss an unrelated idea – urbit, which I understand to be his proposal for a computer operating system that more easily allows for distributed processing among multiple computers. By preventing him from talking about that idea, people are functionally saying that because he’s guilty of expressing offensive opinions, his technical ideas should be shunned.

    2) I guess I’m OK in theory that someone could be enough of an ass on the internet that we should shun them. Let’s say somebody ran a blog where all he did was find stories involving rich Jews, Jews who had committed financial crimes, Jews who ran banks and publishing companies, and republish them with “here’s another example of a Jew who . . .” I’d kind of think that guy was an a-hole, even if all the stories were true. (I don’t mean to privilege any particular group. You can insert any other minority and stereotype if you like, or you can change the hypo so Pam Gellar invented an operating system – same result).

    3) But I don’t see a limiting condition, especially here. The rule isn’t “do we agree that Moldbug’s opinions are so far outside of reasonable discourse that we shouldn’t hear about his ideas for a distributed operating system?” Instead, the rule seems to be “if a critical mass of potential attendees are mad enough about what someone believes, then we shouldn’t hear their technical ideas.” That seems unreliable, and prone to abuse. Or as Ozy puts it, we’re apparently so unhappy with the status quo that we’ve summoned Cthulu and are hoping for the best.

    • Nicholas says:

      I think one issue is this: For the most part, we already shun useless people because there’s no good incentive not to. So if you say “Shun people, but not their useful ideas.” You’re basically against shunning anyone who isn’t already being shunned. We had to set up a schelling point kind of thing around shunning good ideas, because otherwise shunning doesn’t work as a disincentive.

      • Jos says:

        Thanks – my biggest concern is #3 – I can imagine a hypothetical where we shun someone’s potentially useful ideas because he’s an ass, but there doesn’t seem to be a reliable process to agree on a standard of shunworthiness, or to apply it.

    • Eli says:

      Or as Ozy puts it, we’re apparently so unhappy with the status quo that we’ve summoned Cthulu and are hoping for the best.

      Someone called for me? Because actually, as the representative of Cthulhu Leftswimmer on this comments page, I actually think that Yarvin shouldn’t have been disinvited from Strange Loop. Sorry, but blah blah complexity of values blah blah means that you don’t try to destroy someone’s professional and technical life just because you don’t like their politics. The trade-offs between these radically different domains of life need to involve direct violence before it’s acceptable to stomp Yarvin’s work life in favor of everyone else’s political decency (decent though it is, and wrong though Yarvin is).

  10. Pingback: Technical Speaker Uninvited When SJWs Politicize Event | Paul M. Jones

  11. Dain says:

    There’s been a gradual conflation of leftism and professionalism itself. It’s increasingly being considered pre-political, and a matter of basic courtesy and respect, to be a kind of soft lefty.

    • Adam says:

      This completely depends on what you mean by “lefty.” In my last office my boss was an American black man, immediate supervisor a Filipino woman, closest co-worker a Jamaican woman (who was also pregnant). So to the extent that saying it would be unprofessional in that context to express the opinion that we need to roll back legislation and social attitudes that prevent employers from not hiring blacks and women, or that prevent businesses from not serving them, or that it’s okay to pay people less if you expect they’ll get pregnant, is considered leftist, then sure.

      But it was the Army. We weren’t exactly a raging bundle of liberal softies. We just had a basic respect for each other (though we also fired people for being fat). It’s strange to be back out in the regular world and realize that the one place I’ve ever been where people best tolerated and respected each other’s differences and weren’t bigots about it, was full of gun-hoarding, small government-loving, Ron Paul voting Fox News watchers, and when I express the same opinions out here, I get labeled a leftist SJW. The Internet sucks, man.

      • Cauê says:

        Your first paragraph only makes sense if you assume that the personal characteristics you described imply the political positions you mention, which they don’t necessarily (granted, there’s a correlation).

        As for the second, where have you personally been labeled a leftist SJW here? Not saying you weren’t, but it looked weird to me.

        • Adam says:

          Right now, like 20 minutes ago, for saying it isn’t a huge tragedy that Curtis Yarvin didn’t get to talk at a tech conference, even after saying I would have let him speak if I was in charge of the conference!

          Wait a second, here. What does this mean?

          Your first paragraph only makes sense if you assume that the personal characteristics you described imply the political positions you mention, which they don’t necessarily (granted, there’s a correlation).

          I do think that being a pregnant black female almost certainly implies you think it’s not okay for employers to not hire and businesses to not serve blacks, females, or pregnant people, but nothing beyond that. The issue I see is people conflating this with “leftism.”

          • Cauê says:

            Ok, I think I found it. It looks like a garden-variety conflation of “person defending group X in this particular instance” with “member of group X” (no discussion of free speech can go without a few of these!). I don’t think the position you actually stated would get you labeled “lefty SJW” around here, but hey, time will tell.

            I do think that being a pregnant black female almost certainly implies you think it’s not okay for employers to not hire and businesses to not serve blacks, females, or pregnant people, but nothing beyond that. The issue I see is people conflating this with “leftism.”

            Most actual, real-world disagreements on this are not about whether “it’s ok”, but about the role of government in the matter, which is the argument I automatically thought of.

          • Adam says:

            It might just be my own bias as a not (completely) white person speaking, but I feel like for every Rand Paul who honestly believes in the optimality of outcomes from purely private exchange with no state coercion (which I very nearly completely agree with), there are quite a few more than one paleoconservatives hopping on the “down with government” bandwagon for the almost exclusive reason that the most important freedom to them is the freedom to exclude black people. And frankly, I hate them for hijacking libertarianism when they did and am largely glad some of them seem to be leaving to call themselves something else now, but I don’t feel like taking that position, that you know what, in 1964 in rural Mississippi, it was okay for the federal government to step in if the market wasn’t going to make it happen (but not okay to make a wedding cake baker today serve gays, as a counterexample), makes me a leftist, and that it’s okay and coherent to take both positions, like there are intermediate positions between “no government, ever,” and outright state-controlled enterprise.

          • Cauê says:

            That position hardly “makes you a leftist”, really. Necessary but not sufficient.

          • “I do think that being a pregnant black female almost certainly implies you think it’s not okay for employers to not hire and businesses to not serve blacks, females, or pregnant people”

            I’m a Jewish (ethnicity) libertarian atheist. I think it’s okay for employers to not hire and businesses to not serve Jews, libertarians and atheists—where “okay” does not mean that I approve of their doing so but that I think they should be free to do so.

            Holding the opposite view of the question would imply a political position to the left (in some sense of the term) of the position I hold.

          • “for every Rand Paul who honestly believes in the optimality of outcomes from purely private exchange with no state coercion (which I very nearly completely agree with), there are quite a few more than one paleoconservatives hopping on the “down with government” bandwagon for the almost exclusive reason that the most important freedom to them is the freedom to exclude black people.”

            I expect such people exist, but what makes you think they outnumber your first category? I may be getting a biased picture, but I’ve been an active libertarian for something over fifty years and I haven’t noticed such a pattern. It certainly doesn’t fit my observations of Students for Liberty or the Free State Project.

          • Adam says:

            Well, like you said, you’re involved in libertarian academic groups. I called myself a libertarian for most of the past 20 years, but it didn’t mean a ton to me or matter much and most of my exposure to libertarianism actually being popular has come since 2008 when the Republican party realized they needed a way to mobilize young people who have conservative economic leanings but aren’t religious to combat Obama’s somewhat unprecedented effectiveness at getting out the vote, and the discussion shifted from how to do things like create effective markets in fisheries to combat the tragedy of the commons, to oh my God the Civil Right Act was the worst thing ever.

            I’ll freely admit it’s largely mood affiliation. If the bastions of small government these days are going to be people like Ted Cruz, I don’t want a part of it, but frankly, I’ve never wanted a part in politics anyway. I don’t vote and mostly try to ignore politicians, but it bothers me that libertarianism was ignored for decades when it was all economists, but now that movement conservatives have used it to try and rebrand themselves, suddenly it’s hip.

          • multiheaded says:

            David: re: comparing your minority group membership status to that of a pregnant black woman… how does that Anatole France quote go again?

          • Adam says:

            See, as I tried to express above, I don’t even disagree with David’s basic sentiment. I believe, in general, businesses should be free to serve and not serve who they please. But I also believe, as a matter of sheer practicality, that in the American south prior to the Civil Rights Act, the practice was so pervasive that allowing universities and freaking drinking fountains to not serve black people was creating a permanent underclass, and the deleterious social effects were bad enough that intervention was warranted. That doesn’t mean it’s always warranted. I’m just more practical than ideological and the non-aggression principle doesn’t always automatically win the day. Sometimes the world can be improved by breaking it.

          • “how does that Anatole France quote go again?”

            “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”

            But you are missing my point, which is that the question of whether you are a member of a group and whether you believe there ought to be laws preventing discrimination against that group are separate questions. There are, as it happens, black libertarians, female libertarians, and pregnant libertarians, most of whom I would expect to share my preference for freedom of association. And there are lots of people who are not black, gay or female who do not share that preference and favor laws forbidding discrimination against members of those groups.

            The implicit assumption of the post I was responding to was that the only thing determining what laws someone was in favor of was whether the law was in his favor.

          • Adam says:

            David, what I was actually assuming is that a pregnant black woman I worked with wouldn’t like it if I thought people shouldn’t employ pregnant black women, but clearly I mis-expressed that. You can obviously believe, as a matter of principle, that people should be free to do so, even if their doing so would harm you. The thing I get from the Moldbug wing is not that people should be free to do so, but that it’s good and necessary to achieve the best world that people do so, and that is quite a different position.

          • Thanks for the explanation. My error.

          • multiheaded says:

            David, I am tempted to agree with your point in theory, but I feel like the example you have chosen to follow up on really highlights its practical shortfalls.

            Upholding unconditional freedom of association doesn’t sound like it would be attractive to people whose well-being – or survival – depends a great deal on others not being able to shun them.

            (As a soon-to-be-refugee, this speaks to me – and yes, yes, your cred as a champion of open borders is not in doubt, but I still feel a parallel.)

          • John Schilling says:

            …freedom of association doesn’t sound like it would be attractive to people whose well-being – or survival – depends a great deal on others not being able to shun them

            People like Yarvin, Eich, and Sterling, then?

            If you’re going to talk about people being shunned by “others”, you need to be a bit more clear on who those “others” are. Are you talking about being shunned by everyone else, or just by someone? And if we aren’t demanding that everyone open their communities to everyone else, then who is or is not allowed to engage in shunning?

            The state can make other people pretend to accept you. It can make them give you jobs and pay you money no matter your ethnicity or gender identity or beliefs. It can’t make them like you. It can also make you pretend to accept Yarvin, Eich, Sterling, it can make you give them jobs and pay them money, no matter how much you dislike them. Why should it do one and not the other?

            And consider the implications of the state being a democracy.

      • Ever An Anon says:

        When you’re at work you need to work professionally. If you start fights about politics and religion or can’t get along with your coworkers then yeah that’s obviously grounds to kick your stupid ass out, I doubt most people would disagree.

        (Generic you, not Adam particularly)

        But if I’m reading Dain correctly here, what he’s talking about is more along the lines of people’s private behavior outside of work being dug up and used as evidence that they aren’t fit for their jobs.

        For example, your campaign contributions might disqualify you from being in an executive or managerial position: after all, what if someone in a group you “hate” ends up as your subordinate? Or your flopped Facebook joke / leaked phonecall / doxxed blogging on some politically charged topic shows that you can’t be trusted to do your job.

        Either your company owns you 24 hours a day and everything you say or do in your private life is related to your professionalism and employability (which is a bullet very few of us on either side want to bite), or we have to admit that personal politics and religious views are orthogonal to professionalism.

        • Adam says:

          See, I don’t really disagree with that, but let’s say it came out that I was a fairly influential blogger who advocated white rule, segregation, and believed blacks were too stupid and violent to be trusted with power. Would it not be reasonable for my black boss at work to at least side eye me a bit, and maybe even fire me?

          • Ever An Anon says:

            If you don’t mind me answering a question with a question, how about the reverse? If some white executive one rung up from him finds out he posted in favor of rioting in Baltimore on his Facebook page and wrote in favor of the Nation of Islam in his college newspaper, can he fire him in turn?

            Being professional means finding a way to work with people who hold views you think are ridiculous or unethical.

            The PI at my lab is a no-joke literal Creationist, but he’s also a top-notch computational geneticist and experimenter who knows not to let his religion interfere with his work. Should I try to get his grants revoked because he’s wrong in a way which has no effect on his research quality?

          • Adam says:

            To the second, no, obviously not, being a creationist isn’t taking an openly hostile stance toward a person you work with. To the first, I don’t know enough about the Nation of Islam to take a position, but if white executive finds out someone working for him openly advocated killing, enslaving, subjugating, whatever, white people, and no longer feels comfortable with that person working there, that’s fine by me. The line is drawn at being publicly hostile to people you work with, not at being wrong about things.

          • Ever An Anon says:

            It’s refreshing to have a productive conversation amidst the flame.

            Public hostility towards coworkers would be a good rule-of-thumb, provided that hostile and public are defined sensibly.

            For example I’d be nervous with a coworker advocating things that would fall under violent or property crime against my demographics, so no Stormfront or SCUM need apply, but less felonious negative feelings towards mischlings or cishets are rude but not really any of my concern. Similarly, reasonable expectations of privacy should apply: I would give a lot more weight to someone putting #killallmen or #hitlerdidnothingwrong on their public twitter than if they said the same things on 8chan.

            Do you think a standard like that sounds reasonable?

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t know enough about the Nation of Islam to take a position

            The Nation of Islam is… odd. Its doctrine is, on its face, stupendously racist, but I’ve met a few of its followers in a martial arts context and they’ve universally been very polite to my pale ass. This may or may not be representative, and I doubt if “polite on the mat” would often extend to e.g. “happy with me dating their sister”, but I’d count it as evidence toward being able to work with them in other formal contexts.

          • Adam says:

            Yes, that sounds reasonable.

            Also, to add, what I was really intending to get at earlier isn’t necessarily that person deserves to get fired for it, but as a standard of professionalism, if you happen to work with a bunch of black people, and you’re plastering all over the Internet “hey guys did you know blacks are statistically more violent and have lower IQs, so when people don’t hire them for jobs and don’t want them to hold positions of public power and leadership, that isn’t racism, it’s just being good rational Bayesians and we should let that happen and, by the way, slavery wasn’t that bad and black people should be thanking us they aren’t in Africa any more,” at bare minimum that’s making for a pretty awkward, if not outward terrible, work environment should they find out about it.

            Honestly, I don’t even know how to handle something like that. Say I was the owner of the place these people worked. I don’t believe the guy deserves to be ostracized for life from holding any job at all, but on the other hand, I want sufficient workplace harmony that people are able to productively work with each other. There is no answer that doesn’t hurt somebody.

  12. Pingback: Two Kinds of Freedom of Speech (or #Strangeloop vs. Curtis Yarvin) | Popehat

  13. asdfghjk says:

    Wait, Mencius Moldbug is author of Urbit? Billions of internet users world wide, but I keep running into same people everywhere I go. Filter Bubble is real.

    • Jos says:

      I had a similar moment when libertarian writer Julian Sanchez was published all over Fringe fandom as the first person to crack the cypher that they used to introduce acts.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      Someone once told me that it isn’t a small world — it’s a big world, but it’s folded over so many times that it looks small.

  14. pn says:

    > A new study provides an answer: not because of education, because that seems to have no effect

    The study (linked above) seems to be from 2001, so not very new. Is this the correct link?

  15. Albatross says:

    On CBT/Depression:

    Alternative: if we believe therapy and drugs and diagnosis remain roughly as effective as they have been in the past, the skyrocketing depression epidemic and declines in treatment effectiveness could be due to depression just being that much worse.

    People at risk for depression have often had something terrible happen to them. Unemployment, sleep deprivation while caring for an infant, death of a loved one. Real world outcomes are generally improving (fewer people getting shot or dying in car accidents), but our knowledge of bad things is unprecedented.

    What if the depression epidemic isn’t over diagnosis but rather moar and worse depression?

  16. Troy says:

    Cool graphs on my Twitter feed: effect sizes of preschool interventions (low and dropping), funnel plot of preschool interventions, not very encouraging at all.

    As far as I can tell, these graphs aren’t differentiating between different kinds of effects — e.g., cognitive vs. non-cognitive skills. James Heckman claims that the latter are more impacted by these kinds of interventions than the former — informally, that we can improve character more than we can raise intelligence. I would be curious what the graphs would look like if different kinds of effects were separated out.

  17. AR+ says:

    It occurs to me that the situation in Baltimore may be the classic bind wherein law abiding folks are not protected yet are also not allowed to protect themselves.

    Like, people can run rampant robbing, raping, and murdering, but the moment somebody gets killed for doing that in the home of their would-rather-not-be-victim, then the police come in. In that case, you have somebody you can arrest rather easily; you already know their address, after all.

    Likewise w/ armed militia patrols, or anything like that. Since part of their point is to be visible, the police can disperse them, and then leave the area before gangs and other criminals rush back in to rob, rape, and murder all the former militia members and their families who have had their weapons confiscated as evidence.

    Would black Baltimorians be decently able to protect themselves without a professional police force? Without a firm policy to total police abandonment, we’ll never know.

    • Nornagest says:

      Do you want gangs? Because that’s how you get gangs.

      To clarify, there are two main pathways to organized crime. One is commercial: organizing to better offer illegal stuff, usually drugs, gambling, or prostitution. The other is self-defense.

      If an area or a demographic group isn’t effectively policed, it’s left open to depredation by existing gangs, or by random opportunists. (The latter rarely organize.) The victims tend not to appreciate this, and they’re perfectly aware of the conditions that allowed it, so some of them often end up self-organizing to defend themselves. But in order to do that, they need funding, to pay for weapons, vehicles, and bribes, and to entice recruits.

      They’re most likely poor, so there’s not enough money floating around to keep this sort of thing running as a side project. So they seek alternative funding. Inchoate gangs generally consist of lots of heavily armed young men without better things to do, and legal sources of revenue already have mature markets, so they expand to fill the available niches, often starting with protection rackets and later moving into other illegal trades.

      Pretty soon they look a lot like the other gangs.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        “We are just here to fight the fire that we set. As soon as you pay us to.”

      • Matt M says:

        “Do you want gangs? Because that’s how you get gangs.”

        The police operate and function identically to a gang. So it’s not a matter of wanting them or not. We already have them.

        • Nornagest says:

          If I wanted an example of a police department acting like a stereotypical gang, the LAPD’s CRASH unit in the Nineties would be a better example than Baltimore now. Stereotypes aside, though, the difference between gang and government is not one of kind; it’s one of age, refinement, stability, and perceived legitimacy. All of that can break down, of course; at this point I don’t trust many media claims about the situation on the ground in Baltimore, but I think we can safely say that it involves a crisis of legitimacy.

          But in this context, I’m not trying to comment on the problem so much as the proposed alternative. All of the above goes for “armed militia patrols, or anything like that” as much as it goes for a rogue police department — and they’d be starting from nothing, disconnected from the structure of law and precedent that attempts to keep regular police forces in line. The results are unlikely to be pretty, as we’ve seen many times before.

        • If your bandits are small, independent, and mobile, they have no incentive to do nice things, and tend to prey on the communities they come in contact with, and leave.

          If your bandits are large, stationary, subordinate to a larger body, and administratively competent, they are still bandits, but they have some incentives to be nice, to shear the sheep instead of slaughter them.

          Stationary bandits are much preferable to mobile bandits. So yes, the police are a gang, but which gang do we prefer?

          • Matt M says:

            I would suggest to you that there are plenty of large gangs (bloods, crips, MS13, etc.) who are both large and who are stationary (meaning, they have a long-standing presence in many large cities and won’t be abandoning said presence any time soon).

            Whether the police are truly subordinate to a larger body is up for debate. I guess if you want to get technical about it, I would identify the government as a gang, and the police are the enforcement branch, much like gangs surely have leaders, enforcers, accountants, etc.

      • DavidS says:

        Your ‘commercial’ route: my knowledge of gangs is more from Godfather and the Sopranos than any actual study, but aren’t a lot of the commercially started gangs designed to gain an advantage in businesses that are themselves legitimate? E.g. intimidating competitors, bribing/threatening those making decisions about which product/service to buy etc?

        I seem to remember that keeping a stranglehold on the sale of (presumably legal) olive oil was a big early in the early Godfather, and that monopolising waste disposal is a thing in the Sopranos…

        Another interesting thing on this ‘accidentally becoming a gang’ thing is that you often see claims this happens with originally ideological groups: e.g. in Northern Ireland. Once you’re armed, bound together as a brotherhood, and outside the law, the step from fighting the ideological enemy to extorting money with menaces and drug-peddling seems almost surprisingly small.

        • Nornagest says:

          I don’t know a lot about the Italian Mafia, but I seem to recall that the olive oil thing was based on a real incident. That seems more the exception than the rule, though; most of the gangs I know much about have funded themselves through businesses that are, if not always outright illegal, then at least sleazy.

          Gambling’s probably the most historically significant of these; it drove a lot of the history of the yakuza and the Chinese triads, and informal lotteries were important to a lot of American gangs in the first half of the 20th century. Through drugs are probably more important now.

    • onyomi says:

      http://fee.org/anythingpeaceful/detail/how-policing-works-in-a-privatized-city

      See also: Detroit Threat Management Center and similar agencies that pop up when law and order really breaks down. Apparently none of their clients has ever been injured and the injury record among their officers is like, 1.

      • Adam says:

        Sussex, NJ privatized its police force in the early 90s, but I believe the state legislature forced them to stop. I’m kind of surprised the idea hasn’t taken off in more places. Police are kind of expensive, and we see the main complaint lodged by the dude who wrote this is oversight and accountability, but existing police already lack oversight and accountability.

        • FWIW, I suspect one of the problems in the US is that the police are part of local government, rather than being part of the state government as in most (?) of the rest of the world.

          • Nornagest says:

            There are tradeoffs, as with most choices regarding degree of government centralization. The big advantages are that you get police forces that have skin in the game, which allows for closer ties to local communities and better responsiveness to local conditions, and that it becomes a lot harder for high-level authorities to use local police to enforce laws that’re locally seen as unjust. Medical marijuana laws, for example, wouldn’t yet have gotten off the ground in the States if the main police forces were federalized.

            The big disadvantage is that they’re drawing from local governments’ often sharply limited budgets, which can encourage what could politely be termed nontraditional funding practices or more accurately be called kleptocracy. Especially during economic downturns.

            (I assume here that by “state” you mean national-level government, not provincial. Most European countries [an exception is Germany] allocate the main responsibility for criminal investigation to a police force funded and organized at the national level but broken down into regional subdivisions; municipal police often exist as well, but have limited powers.)

          • LHN says:

            Though in practice, in a lot of places cops seem to become isolated and tribal relative to the local population anyway. It might well be worse if they were responsible to the state or federal capital. (And it’s hard to see how it would make it better.) But getting the police to feel like part of the community rather than beseiged by it seems to be an unsolved problem. Despite efforts like community policing and beat meetings, to try to encourage regular non-hostile interactions.

            There are clearly lots of places where a racial component makes things worse. But taking the anecdotal evidence of a local police blog my wife reads, while race is definitely a factor, it’s also pretty clear that they don’t have much use for any civilians.

          • @Nornagest: no, I meant like Australia – each State has its own police force.

            @LHN: a lot of the abuses I hear about in the US seem to be due to local politics, and speaking personally I know I wouldn’t trust the city council here to be in charge of the police!

            Big cities probably not such an issue – heck, some of them are as big as my entire nation, so I’m sure they can run their police forces just as well as we can. I’m less confident about towns and smaller cities.

            (I’m not confident in this opinion. It’s just a guess.)

          • LHN says:

            My city is bigger than dozens of countries (over a hundred by Wikipedia’s list, but that counts dependent territories), and its police periodically get exposed for engaging in systematic torture and/or “enhanced interrogation”, so. (And the state keeps getting the laws against recording them struck down by the courts and then reinstating them slightly rephrased, so shifting control centralward seems unlikely to help.)

            But by now I’d be more curious to know which large US jurisdictions if any have police who continue to be held in relatively high regard in the age of ubiquitous recording.

            (Examples from elsewhere are also of interest, but American police and criminal cultures seem to be one of the clearer examples of our exceptionalism. I’d be less sanguine about our ability to implement a model imported from a different cultural and constitutional environment.)

  18. Deiseach says:

    Off-topic ranting and raving coming up, apologies in advance to all members of medical professions or their friends, family and loved ones (Scott, you’re a psychiatrist, you should be okay on this one but still, let me make it clear: I don’t mean you in the following jeremiad). Warning: coarse and vulgar language will be used.

    Mid-morning today I had a doctor’s appointment. I comported myself in such a way that I am going to send a card of apology to my doctor. But do you know why I behaved like a boor and a rough, rude brute?

    WHY DO DOCTORS DO THIS? PART ONE

    The reason I was at a doctor’s appointment was that I got a letter asking me to come in to discuss the results of a recent blood test “but there was nothing to worry about”.

    If there was nothing to worry about, why were you calling me in? Doctors don’t ask you to come in so they can tell you “Congratulations! Everything is fine!”

    My doctor said, when I asked her “Tell me the bad news”, that she put that in so I wouldn’t worry over the weekend. I have Type 2 diabetes, which is a progressive disease, and which is managed by medical professionals scaring the crap out of me about going blind, liver and kidney failure, heart attack and stroke, and needing my feet amputated as complications of the disease, in order to keep me motivated to keep up the programme of metabolic control.

    Of course I am going to worry about my blood test results, no matter if you put in a cheery line about “Don’t worry!”

    This was the first unpleasant joust of arms. But it wasn’t the worst.

    WHY DO DOCTORS DO THIS? PART TWO

    Sir Tim Berners-Lee, I am minded to postulate your cause for canonisation, because were it not for the Internet, I would know damn-all about the true state of my health. I certainly can’t go by what my doctor is telling me.

    Okay, turns out that my “nothing to worry about” blood test results show that not only is my metabolic control slipping (Hb1AC levels up, still within acceptable ranges but definitely gone up), my triglyceride levels are still way too high, now one of my liver enzymes is above the acceptable range (ALT, should be at a maximum of 33 units, mine is 38).

    Yeah. Sure. Nothing to worry about there. Even though my liver panel before was normal and now it isn’t, and looking this up on the Internet tells me this particular enzyme is very indicative of liver disease.

    Even though – and this is where I’m hitting the roof – I was put on statins, which I was very dubious about, and which have a known and recognised side effect of liver damage (that’s why they made me get a liver panel test in the first place, to set a baseline).

    I did NOT want to go on statins for cholesterol, because (again, thank you Google) (a) my total cholesterol levels are just peachy, but my triglycerides are way too much (b) statins don’t do anything for reducing triglyceride levels (c) that liver damage thing. But she persuaded me, and again today wants me to continue with them because statins for diabetics help protect the heart.

    WELL WAIT A MO, DOC: AFTER A YEAR ON THESE HEPATOTOXIC DRUGS, IT TURNS OUT MY TRIGLYCERIDES ARE STILL BAD AND NOW MY LIVER IS NOT SO GOOD? AND YOU WANT ME TO STAY ON THEM?

    Oh, no, that’s not what she wanted, she wanted:
    (1) Okay, you’ve been on them a year
    (2) Your triglycerides are still bad and now one of your liver enzymes is elevated
    (3) Elevated liver enzymes is a sign of liver damage, which these drugs are known to cause
    (4) SO I WANT YOU TO GO ON A HIGHER DOSAGE OF THE SAME DRUG

    You may take it my answer to that was “no”. I had to keep harping on that I was always dubious about statins, that I’ve been on them a year and I don’t think they’ve done me any good (as witness my high and remaining high triglyceride levels ) and now with the first time ever that I’ve had liver elevation, I am not happy with them. We’ve agreed (or she thinks we’ve agreed) that I’ll stay on the same dosage of statins but she has now prescribed for me to take as well a fenofibrate.

    WHICH IS WHAT I WANTED IN THE FIRST PLACE A YEAR AGO, SINCE THEY DO REDUCE TRIGLYCERIDE LEVELS AND AREN’T AS HEPATOTOXIC.

    Since the atmosphere was, to say the least, strained at this point, I agreed, took the prescription, and left in a huff (or a minute and a huff, as the great Groucho remarked).

    Am I going to continue taking the statins, as she thinks I am going to do? Am I fuck! The remainder of my current prescription are going straight in the bin, and I’m discontinuing them as of today. I will stick with the fenofibrate and see how my next blood test (in three months time) looks.

    I had to huff and puff and be the Big Bad Wolf to get some straight talk and scrap the notion of upping the statin dose, and get a different medication prescribed as well instead. That’s why I’m sending the apology note. And my doctor is one of the good ones, much the best of the various ones I’ve seen. Imagine what kind of trouble I’d have with a bad doctor!

    But thank you God and Saint Tim for the Internet, because otherwise I’d be fucked as to how to know what is going on and how to treat it (e.g. I only know about the ALT ranges because I Googled it, my doctor didn’t tell me).

    • Jiro says:

      Of course I am going to worry about my blood test results, no matter if you put in a cheery line about “Don’t worry!”

      You are being excessively literal. The doctor didn’t put that in to keep you from worrying at all, he put it in so that you would worry less. Ask yourself: if the doctor had said “you have a really bad problem”, would you have worried more? Then you were worrying less with what he actually told you.

      • Deiseach says:

        No, she said she put it in so I wouldn’t be worrying over the weekend, which didn’t have the effect she intended.

        I really would have preferred a straightforward: “Your blood test results came back with this reading, which is why I want you to come in for an appointment”.

        Unspecified “You need to come in BUT DON’T WORRY EVEN THOUGH I’M IMPLYING SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH YOUR RESULTS BUT NOT GIVING YOU ANY CONCRETE INFORMATION SO YOU HAVE A WHOLE THREE DAYS TO FRET OVER ‘IS THIS KIDNEY FAILURE OR ANY OF THE OTHER FUN THINGS THEY TOLD ME WOULD HAPPEN WITH THIS CONDITION????'” did not, as you can see, work for me.

        I am very literal-minded; I don’t know if it comes with the territory of Autism Spectrum disorders that run throughout my paternal family line, but I much, much prefer concrete facts that I can research and gauge the likelihood that (a) this is remote chance of happening (b) this might be serious if not caught in time (c) better order the coffin now than a general anodyne “okay something’s wrong but you have to wait three days to find out what but don’t worry”.

        Tell me not to worry, and I’ll worry (because why would you tell me not to worry unless there was something to worry about? People don’t normally go “Hi, Bob, lovely day, oh – and don’t worry about that thing”)

        • Jiro says:

          No, she said she put it in so I wouldn’t be worrying over the weekend, which didn’t have the effect she intended.

          She said she put it in so you “wouldn’t be worrying”, but “wouldn’t be worrying” is not to be taken literally. It means “so you would worry less” and not the literal meaning “so you wouldn’t worry at all”.

          I really would have preferred a straightforward: “Your blood test results came back with this reading, which is why I want you to come in for an appointment”.

          Doctors are reluctant to tell you anything substantial in a letter becaise it might lead to liability under HIPAA for leaking your private medical information, if someone gets ahold of that letter.

          • Deiseach says:

            Jiro, I don’t think Irish doctors come under HIPAA, and my brother’s hospital clinic had no problem sending him a printout of his blood test results in an ordinary letter sent through the post 🙂

            She told me that she put it in so I wouldn’t worry – not “so that you would worry less” but “so that you wouldn’t be worrying over the weekend”.

            It’s probably “different strokes for different folks”. I do better with information. Like my father before me, if it’s left nebulous like that (something is wrong, because you don’t get called in for an unscheduled appointment if something is right, but you’re not told what’s wrong and you have a condition where there are a whole lot of things that can go badly wrong), then I worry about what it might be and, I freely admit, leap to the ‘worst-case’ scenario.

            Whereas if I got either the plain “Please make an appointment to come in and discuss your blood test results” or “This is the result that we need to discuss”, I wouldn’t have worried so much. If I had the information, I could have looked it up before (as I did after the appointment) and found out was this something minor, something that needed watching, or something really serious that needed intervention now.

            Instead, I was fretting myself into conniptions about WHY DID SHE SAY NOT TO WORRY? THAT MEANS THERE IS SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT! YOU DON’T SAY ‘DON’T WORRY’ UNLESS THERE IS SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT! OH GOD, IT’S KIDNEY FAILURE, ISN’T IT? IT’S IN THE FAMILY! I KNEW IT – I’M GOING TO NEED DIALYSIS OR A TRANSPLANT!!!!

            Yes. That’s over-reaction. But that’s my family heritage mental state (over-literal, tending to be pessimistic, expecting the worst when we hear “we need to discuss this”) 🙂

          • Jiro says:

            She told me that she put it in so I wouldn’t worry – not “so that you would worry less” but “so that you wouldn’t be worrying over the weekend”.

            That’s why my point about not being literal. “Wouldn’t be worrying” doesn’t mean “wouldn’t be worrying”; it means “worrying less”. Or to phrase it in an even longer way, it means “wouldn’t be worrying based on X, without this necessarily mean you wouldn’t be worrying based on other things”. You can’t interpret this statement so literally that you think it’s false because you’re still worrying.

  19. Carl Shulman says:

    “Remember, “non-shared environment” doesn’t necessarily mean “sociology stuff” – Toddler temperament could be influenced by different types of gut bacteria.”

    Plausible prior, but little update from this.

    It’s an epidemiological correlational study. Looks like weak evidence and risk factors for p-hacking:

    “Christian and study co-author, microbiologist Michael Bailey, PhD, studied stool samples from 77 girls and boys, and found that children with the most genetically diverse types of gut bacteria more frequently exhibited behaviors related with positive mood, curiosity, sociability and impulsivity. In boys only, researchers reported that extroverted personality traits were associated with the abundances of microbes from the Rikenellaceae and Ruminococcaceae families and Dialister and Parabacteroides genera…

    To identify correlations between gut bacteria and temperament, researchers asked mothers to assess kid’s behavior using a questionnaire which measures 18 different traits that feed into three composite scales of emotional reactivity: Negative Affect, Surgency/Extraversion and Effortful Control. Scientists looked at the different genetic types and relative quantity of bacteria found in the toddler’s stool samples along with their diets.

    The average gastrointestinal tract contains 400-500 different species of bacteria, and most of them belong to one of ten phyla of bacteria. “

    • Deiseach says:

      The trouble with this study is that I can immediately see fast buck merchants leaping on it to sell supplements (like probiotics) marketed at toddlers (or rather, anxious parents of same) along the lines of “Want a confident, outgoing, friendly child that will do well at school? Take new BabyBio which helps your child’s temperament!”

      Also, basing it on mother’s evaluation of their child’s temperament is dreadful. We’re pretty clear that girls and boys are socialised differently, right? So that what in boys is attributed to confidence, curiosity, etc. gets called different and less positive names in girls. I don’t much like the idea of a group of three year olds in a lab being scrutinised by a crowd of behavioural scientists behind a two-way mirror, but it at least would be a tiny bit more objective in judging what was and wasn’t aggression versus confidence.

  20. Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

    Old question “why does evolution allow homosexuality to exist when it decreases reproduction?” seems to have been solved, at least in fruit flies: the female relatives of gayer fruit flies have more children. Same thing appears to be true in humans. Unclear if lesbianism has a similar aetiology.

    I honestly thought it was reasonably clear that it didn’t necessarily reduce reproduction. Males have extremely unequal sexual success, whereas female success is much closer to equal. Consider for example mitochondrial-Eve vs. Y-chromosome-Adam. Even in historic timeframe, identifiable individual males sired astonishingly nontrivial percentages of the world population. (Googling is an exercise for the reader.) Removing males from competition that were never going to mate anyway coupled with even trivial improvements elsewhere is a net gain. Reduced male-male competition related mortality? Increased female fertility? Assistance rearing? All of the above? At this point the exact collection of fitness improvements are more of an idle curiosity than a serious open question. Alteratively, in a much more flippant response, you may as well ask why evolution hasn’t turned our retina right side up yet.

    Re: lesbianism. If there is a female around, someone is going to mate with her. You know, consentually, or… whatever. Why pretend female preference actually matters?

    • houseboatonstyx says:

      Being lesbian does not mean choosing to be child-free. Some even now choose at least occasionally to lie still and think of babies.

    • Deiseach says:

      Yeah, exactly. Your limits on reproduction are the number of fertile females, not males. One man and ten women means (in theory) a year later – ten babies. Ten men and one woman – again in theory, and unless you get twins or triplets – a year later, one baby.

      So you really need fewer males to keep up the population than are born (that’s why male animals are culled in domestic animal rearing, from chickens to cattle). Reducing the number of “alpha males fighting and seriously injuring/killing one another for access to females” by removing them – or making use of a mutation that means they’re removed – from competing for female means better chance of more males surviving (if they’re not engaging in mock or real warfare over mates, they’re around for protecting the rest of the group, for work, for all the male tasks), less expenditure of resources (those males help raising/protecting the young of their female siblings), encouraging group bonding by homosocial bonding, etc.

      • This argument, and the one that preceded it, assume group selection. I gather most evolutionary biologist believe that it is much weaker than individual selection.

        The fact that 5% of the males have no children may not reduce the number of children produced in the society, but it reduces the number of children produced by those males, hence the frequency of genes they carry, in particular the gene that (hypothetically) inclines them to homosexuality, in the next generation.

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        Yes. A point against might be, if the Macho Alpha Jocks/Bloods/whatever are getting larger harems and the Betas/Omegas/whatever are having fewer children, that’s not so good for passing on genes for non-macho talents. Hm, so a gay artist/thinker should sow plenty of het wild oats before settling down in a gay university where he doesn’t have to take care of them.

        • Deiseach says:

          that’s not so good for passing on genes for non-macho talents

          Are you forgetting the maternal genes, or do the Jock genes overcome all? 🙂

          • Nornagest says:

            My last comment here seems to have gotten caught in the spam filter. Let’s try that again.

            Unless maternal and paternal genes are interacting in unusual ways, we’d expect this kind of sexual selection to exert pressure regardless of what the maternal genes look like — though “pressure” does not mean “conquers all”. The most probable scenario where it doesn’t would be if the same genes are adaptive in men proportional to their maladaptiveness in women (or vice versa), but I wouldn’t expect to see that very often.

            At least, that’s true if the jock-alpha-male-bro-harem thing is real, which I’m not totally convinced of.

  21. Daniel Armak says:

    ETA: I turned this into a post on LW Discussion. I’m not asking commenters here to go to LW, that would be wrong and impolite, but the comment posting system on LW is much nicer to use and I wish I could somehow help the SSC comments to be as user-friendly.

    Regarding homosexuality: is it possible that the implementation of heterosexual attraction and its developmental link to gender is complex enough, and fragile enough, that it just doesn’t develop correctly in 3% of cases despite immense evolutionary pressure?

    About 3% of all babies born have some sort of birth defect, and many others were spontaneously aborted at an earlier stage. Foetal development just isn’t very reliable. Genetic disorders which appear later in life and were fatal before modern medicine also probably add up to a few percent of all births. Could it be that the link between gender and sexual orientation is just one of those things that tends to go wrong, and there is nothing more to explain?

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the best armchair explanation on this thread. Yes, exactly; the system is underspecified.

    • Tarrou says:

      Possible.

      Worth remembering that females have much higher rates of “soft” homosexuality or bisexuality, and are thought by those who study these things to be more “plastic” or changeable in their sexual preference. Those who study specifically arousal debate whether male bisexuals exist at all, but assuming they do (and I do, humans are infinitely diversified), the number is much, much smaller in men than in women. Not sure how that would be implicated by developmental issues.

      The other fly in the ointment is that we know that certain experiences at formative times can shape sexual orientation, most notably with abused children subsequently being attracted to children.

      I have this depressing feeling that once the politics blows away, we’re going to be left with the same answer for sexuality we are for most human phenomenon, 50/50 nature/nurture.

      • vV_Vv says:

        The other fly in the ointment is that we know that certain experiences at formative times can shape sexual orientation, most notably with abused children subsequently being attracted to children.

        Could this be caused by a parasite that spreads through sexual intercourse?

        An adult male can easily rape or otherwise persuade into sex a male child who will in turn grow up to be an adult male who can have sex with other children, spreading the parasite.

        An adult male can also easily rape a woman, the woman then can’t easily rape anybody, but if she becomes a slut she can spread the parasite to many men.

        Therefore it would be evolutionary advantageous for an STD to reprogram men to become pedophile rapists and women to become sluts.

        Perhaps some STDs actually work that way. And maybe even the social norms against pederasty, and female promiscuity in Western societies culturally evolved due to parasite pressure.

        EDIT:

        Off the top of my head, historical recurrent outbreaks of plague seem to correlate with strict sexual mores and condemnation of homosexuality.

        • houseboatonstyx says:

          Off the top of my head, historical recurrent outbreaks of plague seem to correlate with strict sexual mores and condemnation of homosexuality.

          As a starter for untangling some of the which-causes-which … on a large scale, which one is usually post hoc? And which other mores cluster with each side? Perhpas in the long term, strict sexual mores > more babies > crowded quarters > plagues; while in the short term, sexual promiscuity spreads disease faster, is blamed for starting it, is suppressed by strict sexual mores … and the cycle starts again.

          • Nornagest says:

            The opposite seems more likely to be true now, but historically, I’d expect strict sexual mores to lead to fewer babies, not more — mostly by way of delaying childbearing. We might associate medieval sexual mores with marrying people off early, but for economic reasons that would only have been feasible for the upper classes.

          • Protagoras says:

            Strict sexual mores seem to produce a tendency for people to view any effort to avoid STDs other than avoiding promiscuity to be something shameful, because only promiscuous people would need to do such things. Arguably, they do not actually have much effect in terms of actually lowering promiscuity, and even if they do have some such effect, it does seem like there are a number of cases where their effect in discouraging anti-STD precautions is greater than their effect in discouraging promiscuity, and so strict sexual mores end up encouraging STDs. This seems to be the pattern among heterosexuals in the developed world, from what I’ve gleaned from sexual health researchers. Of course, outside of the modern world, there would have been fewer anti-STD precautions, but but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any; knowing which symptoms to look out for and avoiding partners with those symptoms may have made a slight difference, for example.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Maybe this is true in the modern world where condoms exist and they are effective at preventing common STD infections, but in ancient societies condoms didn’t exist and even if they did, they would have done little to prevent infection by things like plague, smallpox or leprosy.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            historically, I’d expect strict sexual mores to lead to fewer babies, not more — mostly by way of delaying childbearing.

            On the level of a kid whose information comes from Vacation Bible School and Louis L’Amour, I’m seeing US pioneers, like the Old Testament tribes wandering in the wilderness, trying to limit sex to procreation so as to get more procreation. In the US, some of them would find places to settle and build towns safe from predators or raids, but eventually over crowded and becoming fleshpots themselves.

            The resulting friction was easier to deal with while there was a Western frontier for dissenting people to trek on to. But at the Pacific Coast there was no more Western frontier, so we all piled up here, both sides, which makes California a very interesting place.

          • John Schilling says:

            You must be reading different Louis L’Amour books than I did. Certainly I don’t recall aversion to recreational sex as a major plot point in, well, any Western ever. Well, occasionally you’d have a plot where the respectable townsfolk were trying to shut down the brothel, but that was usually pretty late in the “pioneering” phase and incidental to anyone’s reasons for coming to the West.

            Historical pioneering and settlement, meanwhile, was generally about economic opportunity, with a side order of escaping from civilization by people who already had or expected they soon would bump up against civilization’s laws in a bad way. The only major let’s-practice-our-moralistic-religion settlement movement in the American West was the Mormons. Anyone whose brand of Not Getting Any was less incompatible with mainstream Christianity, could usually just buy some land and set up a commune in the more civilized regions without anyone bothering them, e.g. various Shakers, Quakers, and Amish.

      • DavidS says:

        “Worth remembering that females have much higher rates of “soft” homosexuality or bisexuality, and are thought by those who study these things to be more “plastic” or changeable in their sexual preference.”

        Have you got a source? That matches my anecdotal experience but I always assumed it was more to do with society’s attitude to male vs. female bisexuality than anything more inherent. Especially as in other eras the opposite seems to have been the case (perhaps because women were discouraged from sexuality per se).

        Really interested if we have info that suggests the difference isn’t just a cultural thing. My armchair supposition has always been that most people are probably at least potentially somewhere on a bisexual spectrum, but we get very strong cultural steers on attraction. Basically, I find it much more plausible that people will be culturally led to ignore/sublimate certain attractions than to create them entirely.

        • vV_Vv says:

          Testosterone increases sex drive in both sexes, and it also specifically increases sex attraction towards females.

          Women in their early 20s are at peak testosterone, which causes significant sexual attraction towards other women. Whether they decide to act out such desires may depend on the social environment.

      • NN says:

        Worth remembering that females have much higher rates of “soft” homosexuality or bisexuality, and are thought by those who study these things to be more “plastic” or changeable in their sexual preference. Those who study specifically arousal debate whether male bisexuals exist at all, but assuming they do (and I do, humans are infinitely diversified), the number is much, much smaller in men than in women. Not sure how that would be implicated by developmental issues.

        In modern Western cultures. In other societies throughout history, most famously Ancient Greece, male bisexuality appears to have been far more common than it is in our society.

        Granted, it is hard to make a comparison to female bisexuality since there is much less historical data on female sexuality in general. Still, I would be very wary of trying to draw conclusions solely from our own society given the frankly overwhelming evidence that cultural mores can strongly influence the prevalence of this sort of thing.

    • bbartlog says:

      I think your explanation is likely to be correct. Worth bearing in mind that we haven’t had much time, evolutionarily, to move from the somewhat simpler estrus-based sexual attraction that many other primates have, to the rather unusual visually and socially cued one that we have now. Hell of a complicated thing to get right in a few hundred thousand generations. Looks like lots of imprinting has to be going on (hence paraphilias), maybe with unreliable triggers. If Mother Nature took bug reports, you could file a raft of them on this feature.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      @Daniel-

      Food for thought, though I’m surprised you haven’t been pounded on for using the phrases “birth defect” and “tends to go wrong”. This sends me down a train of thought that doesn’t have much to do with your own comment; apologies.

      If the explanation is analogous to a birth defect, we nevertheless are not inclined to treat it as a defect. Why is that?

      The obvious reason would be if it imposes no significant harm on the victim, unlike for example being deaf from birth. (No matter how inclusive society might be, and no matter how real Deaf Culture might be, deafness is objectively disadvantageous.) Are there any disadvantages to obligate homosexuality beyond what is culturally imposed? I don’t know of one (difficulty in reproducing and susceptibility to AIDS both seem largely consequences of culture), but I’m not sure anybody would do a study to see if gay men are more prone to liver disease.

      I gather if there were magic wands to “cure” deafness and homosexuality, there are some members of each group who would decline. But my own tendency is to feel that the obdurate deaf person would be making a mistake, while the obdurate homosexual would merely be making a choice.

      I’m trying to think if there is a better analogy: a condition that might unexpectedly turn up in a friend or relative, that is moderately rare, that has such a profound effect on his life as to be a big part of his self-identity, but that has no physical downside. Extreme genius comes to mind, so maybe I should exclude both upsides and downsides. I’m not sure what I would make of such an example if I thought of one, but I’m intrigued by the fact that I don’t seem to be able to.

      • John Schilling says:

        The reproductive disadvantage of obligate homosexuals, especially male obligate homosexuals, is absolute and not culture-dependent. A straight man can reproduce by having sex with a woman, by finding a woman who wants a sperm donation from a stranger or nonromantic partner, or (if we’re counting strictly memetic reproduction) by finding an orphan whose guardian will let him adopt. An obligate homosexual male can use only two of those methods, and the one they can’t use is the one linked to the biggest reservoir of eager wombs.

        Susceptibility to AIDS transmission is also at least in part biological. Even if we assume that the traditionally greater promiscuity of homosexual men is entirely cultural, the regular swapping of penetrator/penetratee roles and the more frequent use of the rectum beyond its design specifications substantially increase the overall risk from what would otherwise be a marginally transmissible infectious
        agent.

        And, I would think that having a much smaller dating pool from which to select romantic partners would also be a substantial, culturally independent disadvantage, unless perhaps we’re postulating a culture where all the gays move to designated gay communities where they can fill their Dunbar number with fellow gays.

        • On the other hand if, as seems to be the case, males have a greater taste for promiscuity than females, a male who prefers sex with other males may be in a better position to satisfy that taste.

          • Adam says:

            Or if he actually doesn’t want kids, it could be easier to just have sex with men than to worry about birth control, surgery, and finding a wife who also doesn’t want kids.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          @ John Schilling- Valid points.

          I was sloppy to call the reproductive disadvantage partly cultural; I meant to distinguish between simply making it harder to pass on your genes, which is incontrovertible but not the sort of downside to the individual that deafness is, and difficulty in forming a family and raising a child, which I think it’s fair to call partly cultural.

          You may be right about AIDS. The cultural component of that to which I referred was the part of gay culture that embraces promiscuity. The prevalence of AIDS in African females makes me wonder how much difference your other observations really make, but I’m not well-informed. The argument about the design specs of the rectum strike me as having a little too much of the “Just-So Story” to it, but there are certainly sensible arguments from evolutionary biology that partake of the same apparent patness.

        • NN says:

          I don’t see how AIDs is at all relevant to human evolution, given that HIV only started infecting humans on a large scale within the last 40 years.

          Obviously, there have have always been STDs, but in a pre-modern environment were male homosexuals really at that much greater risk of dying from disease?

          Also, “the regular swapping of penetrator/penetratee roles and the more frequent use of the rectum beyond its design specifications” is far from a cultural universal. In Ancient Greece and Rome, for example, there were very strict social rules on who was allowed to penetrate whom, with the general rule seeming to be that only the older or higher status man was allowed to “top” (for example, a male Roman citizen was allowed to penetrate a male slave, but never the other way around). Similarly, in modern prisons there is often an attitude that only the men who are penetrated are “gay.”

          • John Schilling says:

            From the discussion of Bentham a few posts back, classical civilization was big on what we would call pederasty, and didn’t have much to say about obligate male homosexuality. There may or may not have been obligate male homosexuality, but with socially acceptable pederasty available as a cover probably nobody is going to talk about it much.

            Agreed that Greco-Roman pederasty wouldn’t have supported an epidemic of something like AIDS, unless it were being used as a cover for modern-style MSM obligate homosexuality.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            @NN- Good point. As I said, despite the horror of AIDS I’m not inclined to think of it as a direct drawback of whatever causes obligate homosexuality. And I really am therefore still interested in whether there is a good analogy for a really significant but otherwise neutral moderately rare developmental variation (still assuming Daniel’s model is close to true).

            To come at it from another angle, suppose we eventually get a really clear picture of how gender and attraction each happen, and pin down what causes them to be linked in the uncommon way. Would that change our view of homosexuality? What if we discovered at the same time that the cause was directly connected with something else, like an increased chance of depression, or a decreased chance of schizophrenia?

            I honestly don’t know but it seems intriguing. Certainly if we found such associations to exist with regard to presence or absence of a Y chromosome, we would just shrug and say “That’s how it is,” rather than deciding that presence or absence of a Y chromosome was itself a genetic defect.

  22. Christopher says:

    I kind of don’t blame that guy for not reading Mencius Moldbug. I have tried more than once and I just find him incredibly dull.

    Actually, I find him tiresome very much because he has this tendency to spend decades demolishing the irrational and emotional attacks his opponents could make, and then, after you’ve read through his 2000 word essay on why white nationalism is unlikely to cause global warming, you finally get to some bog-standard thing that any halfway competent opponent could mount a substantive argument against, AND to boot it’s an argument that other people have made with clarity and charm, rather than buried in some kind of impenetrable word-cocoon.

    What I’m saying is that I really, really sympathize with anybody who hasn’t read him; I mean, I don’t understand who his enemies are, because I can’t fathom how anybody tolerates him long enough to even reach the point of disagreeing with him.

    THAT SAID, I am amazed at how scared people are these days of expressing judgement. Everybody has political views and the right to express them. Now, I sympathize with a curator who says “The political views of our participants are irrelevant to the proceedings here”, but I can also sympathize with somebody who believes certain views are beyond the pale; perhaps the views of Neo-Nazis, or ISIS sympathizers, or whatever.

    What you can’t do is pass the buck. Whoever got mad at Moldbug also holds a lot of controversial opinions, and Moldbug’s fans, as well as free speech types, are going to push back. You can make whatever decision you want, but you won’t succeed at pretending you haven’t made a decision.

    Incidentally, all that aside, for somebody who doesn’t know Moldbug’s writings, what’s he said that’s actually so bad? I just can’t dig through his writing anymore. That thing about why he’s not a white nationalist flirts with white nationalism in a cutesy way but he never quite puts his opinion into plain language.

    edited to remove a paragraph and make it a little less ironic that I’m dissing Moldbug for talking too much.

    • Tarrou says:

      Judgment is for adults, and we are a culture obsessed with never becoming one.

      As to the rest, the political winds shift. I find Moldbug interesting, but not enough to finish any of his writings. Christ he does bang on. In that respect however, he reminds me of Marx or Hegel, always the passion for detail, always sure yet vague. Always clearly smart but so confused in delivery most people will claim to know what he was talking about rather than admit he stopped making sense.

      The left has stagnated. Political innovation will belong to the right for the next several decades, Darwin have mercy on our non-souls.

    • Viliam Búr says:

      I can also sympathize with somebody who believes certain views are beyond the pale; perhaps the views of Neo-Nazis, or ISIS sympathizers, or whatever.

      I would have no problem with banning Nazis or ISIS. But the problem is that these days on Twitter anyone can be called a Nazi or ISIS. I would not be surprised to find out that there are left-wing people on internet who have called even Scott a Nazi sympathizer or an ISIS sympathizer. These labels are used extremely cheaply these days. All you have to do is to disagree with some left-wing person on internet about some trivial detail, and you are “literally” Hitler.

      It’s no longer “someone on the internet is wrong and I will spend the whole night arguing against them”, but it is “someone on the internet is literally Hitler and I will spend the whole night organizing my comrades to make them fired from their job”. Doing as much harm as possible has somehow became the default left-wing reaction to any argument they don’t like (which is pretty much anything).

      In the country of my childhood, this is what would happen to Moldbug — He would spend a few hours questioned by the communist gestapo-equivalent; maybe tortured to confess what other people with similar opinions he knows. After a phone call, his blog would be immediately deleted by the server owner. He would be fired from his job, and never allowed to get any job that requires being “trustworthy”. His children would not be allowed to study at university, and his relatives would not be allowed to travel to other countries.

      This whole story to me shows that communists are always the same; the difference is only how much power they have, and how much damage they can do to people who disagree with them. Banning Moldbug from a conference is as much as they can legally do, so this is what they do. If they would be in a position to legally kidnap him and torture him, I don’t see any evidence why they wouldn’t. In countries where they were allowed to do similar things, they did.

      • Adam says:

        Yeah, but here in the country that isn’t the country of your birth, he’s doing quite well and just doesn’t get to speak at a conference, and Donald Sterling and Brendan Eich are still going to die billionaires.

        • Anonymous says:

          Brendan Eich is not a billionaire. No one made a billion dollars off of Netscape. Marc Andreessen didn’t make a billion from Netscape and hasn’t been able as a VC to turn the money he did make into a billion. And Eich isn’t Andreessen. He was pre-IPO, but barely.

          (Marc Andreessen probably was a paper billionaire at some point.)

          • Adam says:

            Yeah, fair enough. I’m not sure Donald Sterling is actually a billionaire, but the point he owns many, many productive assets that are not the Clippers and kicking him out of one rich guy’s club is a lot less horrible than disallowing him from all clubs, and preventing Brendan Eich from being a CEO isn’t nearly as bad as preventing him from being employed at all.

            For the record, I fully support kicking Sterling out of all clubs, period. He was a rotten person for decades who abused his tenants and the City of Los Angeles. Eich, not so much. He seemed like a decent enough guy perfectly well-qualified to run a company. But I’m not crying for either of them.

          • BBA says:

            “He seemed like a decent enough guy perfectly well-qualified to run a company.”

            I’ll have to disagree with you there. Being CEO requires the ability to communicate effectively and earn the respect and trust of others. Eich’s incoherent sputtering in response to the boycott convinced me he had no business running anything bigger than a one-man consultancy.

            Shame he couldn’t have stayed on as Mozilla CTO though.

          • Jiro says:

            Really? Is there something he could have said that would have indicated to you that he was a good CEO?

          • BBA says:

            Hell if I know, but I know what he did say was the opposite of whatever that is.

            (I know that’s not a very rational thing to say, but this is about “people skills” and people are often irrational. Rationalism has its limits.)

        • John Schilling says:

          Do we really need to explain why “he has lots of money, therefore he’s doing OK, therefore we didn’t really hurt him, therefore it was OK for us to do what we did to him”, is a loathsome attitude? Do you really think that a person sitting alone in a room whom no one will ever talk to, approximately the state that Donald Sterling’s critics would like to reduce him to, is doing “OK” if there are enough digits on his bank-account balance?

          Forget loathsome: do you think it is strategically wise to announce to everyone in the world with more money than you, that you consider them either fair game or acceptable collateral damage on account of their wealth? Do you think you can defeat them all, or do you imagine that they will not treat you with the organized contempt with which you treat them?

          • Adam says:

            That’s not my attitude, though. My attitude is that it’s not a big deal some dude can’t speak at a conference. It’s not like anybody is going to not buy his product if it does what he says it does. It’s certainly not morally equivalent to throwing him in the gulag and torturing him. Look at what I was replying to.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            > Forget loathsome: do you think it is strategically wise to announce to everyone in the world with more money than you, that you consider them either fair game or acceptable collateral damage on account of their wealth? Do you think you can defeat them all, or do you imagine that they will not treat you with the organized contempt with which you treat them?

            That would only be relevant if he was targeting them because they had money. When people say “he’s still rich” they generally mean “unfortunately we can’t fix the fact that he’s still rich”. At least that’s what I mean when I say it.

            Since a reply like this always loops around to “But what if they do it to you!” I will say that society owes everyone (horrible people included) basic dignities like food, shelter, medical care, access to information and freedom of movement (this list will likely expand as technology progresses); but the ability to earn large amounts of money or force people listen to your ideas are not on that list.

          • Adam says:

            Hell, I’m not even targeting him at all, and I’m not sure Curtis Yarvin even has more money than me. I don’t even personally think he should be banned from this conference or that he’s a generally harmful person. I just meant exactly what I said. It’s not a huge injustice that will do him material harm.

            Sterling, on the other hand. Yeah, there is no place for him in polite society.

          • Cauê says:

            “forcing people to listen”

            Do you really think this is an appropriate description of these controversies?

            People seem to go comically out of their way to find things to “not being forced to listen” to…

          • undefined in this scope says:

            @Cauê
            That was in reply to “sitting alone in a room whom no one will ever talk to”, if noone wants to talk to him then then yes he can live his life alone. Ability to share ideas to willing listeners is covered under “free access to information”.

          • John Schilling says:

            I did look at what you were replying to; perhaps you should do the same. There were no gulags mentioned. Torture was a “maybe”, and brief. What was threatened, was ostracism and unpersonhood.

            And, “some dude can’t speak at a conference”? Please explain to me what is unique about this conference, that the same dynamic won’t apply at any other conference Yarvin or Eich might speak at, any other job they might hold. “It’s not like anybody is going to not buy his product…”? Tell that to Eich and Mozilla, who faced explicit boycotts over the issue.
            And that’s assuming the product can even be developed in an environment where anyone who codes for one of Them will never code for Us, and Us dominates the tech industry.

            Eich and Yarvin will have financially secure forced retirements, if only because the likes of our undefined in scope do not have the means to impoverish them. Probably they will even find other conference organizers, other employers, willing to take a chance on them, but the relative courage of these hypothetical future individuals does not diminish Alex Miller’s moral cowardice.

            And the relative inability of the SJ brigade to match Soviet Russia’s capability for institutional ostracism, doesn’t diminish their moral equivalence. I’m still looking for what distinguishes you from them. Where’s the line between harassing Yarvin out of one conference, and harassing him out of every place he might practice his profession? Presuming you had the means for the latter, where would you stop, and why?

          • Adam says:

            “You?” Now I’m part of the SJ brigade? I’d employ him and wouldn’t ban him from my conference if it was my conference. I just said I don’t think it’s a big deal.

            But anyway, it’s obviously time to bow out since this isn’t something one can discuss at all without being placed on the side of some imaginary line, which kind of illustrates my point about why it’s fairly reasonable to not want to deal with this from the organizer’s perspective. Allow him to speak and some people think you’re white supremacist sympathizers. Don’t allow him to speak and other people think you’re a free speech suppressing communist who would gladly imprison the guy if you only had the means. There is no winning position to take.

          • John Schilling says:

            Good to know that you mean to impoverish people you disagree with on issues like this. Even better to know that you lack the means. But, on the matter of strategy, really? You think it wise to say to all of the world’s rich, “Your continued wealth is contingent on your agreeing with me, and/or my remaining politically impotent”? ISTM that even rich people who agree with you on the issues today, would be a bit concerned about that.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            @John Schilling
            Hah, things get inevitably weird dancing on slippery slopes like this so lets try something more comprehensive.

            In general western society the statement “wealthy people should not be able to buy political power” is not exactly fringe, so yes, I expect them to remain as politically impotent as anyone else in a democratic society and I don’t consider stating that as dangerous (and if it is then well, the class war is already quite lost). People with opinions odious to the majority are not owed some extra underdog bonus where the are allowed to advocate publicly free of derision.

            “Take away their wealth” is a tricky framing because of the way we (western society) view economic freedom. If you’re impoverished you’re probably dying of a preventable disease while living in a wet cardboard box; and no I don’t think that’s a reasonable outcome for anyone.

            But from a more socialist perspective I am morally OK and even in favour of society refusing it’s benefits (aka your money being something other than funny green paper) to someone it finds horrid; while also being forgiving and letting them rejoin if they decide to stop being an asshole (America is pretty terrible at the forgiving part of this equation).

            Assuming they want to continue being an asshole the discussion isn’t so much about what society should do to people but what it owes to people. It’s impossible to eject someone odious from society without condemning them to a painful death in hostile terrain; so that list comes down to “the veil of ignorance says any society must allow odious people lead a decent life” because as everyone will happily point out I might someday be odious to the majority. Beyond the veil of ignorance “don’t torture people, period” is a good moral rule that gives the same effect.

            And no, I am not going to publicly advocate the socialist part of this agenda anywhere less fringe than here because that would only hurt that cause. But if we can politely discuss killing all the brown people in California with the NRx crowd surely socialism isn’t beyond the pale here.

            P.S. > Even better to know that you lack the means.
            The scary part of this modern world is that anyone with a twitter account theoretically has the means to do that to either of us (well, assuming you’re not independently wealthy enough never to need a job again).

          • John Schilling says:

            But from a more socialist perspective I am morally OK and even in favour of society refusing it’s benefits (aka your money being something other than funny green paper) to someone it finds horrid;

            OK, this is where we part company in a big way. Not sure if it’s even potentially reconcilable.

            I make a deal with society. In exchange for e.g. helping launch a dozen GPS satellites, society grants me a certain measure of wealth. At no time was “…unless we later find you horrid”, listed as part of the deal.

            And the deal was for wealth, not “funny green paper”. The paper was to make the negotiations easier, because barter is comically impractical at this level. But part of the general deal that society offers everyone is that the green paper will be maintained as a stable medium for storing and exchanging wealth.

            I held up my end of the deal. You turn on your iPhone, it knows where you are, it gets you where you want to be, provides various location-dependent services. And when you want to blow up ISIS, the missiles usually don’t hit innocent bystanders. That’s on me.

            What’s on you is, you pay up, and you let me spend the money as I see fit. You don’t revoke the currency or call the bank and have them zero out my account. Not even if I decide to use a thousand dollars’ worth to buy TV advertising for a political cause you find horrid.

            You want to not make any deals with me in the future, fine. You want to organize a campaign to intimidate other people into not making deals with me, that’s not fine. But reneging on the deals you already made, with me or with Yarvin or Eich or even Sterling, taking against our will things that we have fairly earned, that makes you an enemy of the highest order and it removes us from any obligation or restraint in our dealings with you and the society you have bent to your will.

          • Publius Varinius says:

            @ undefined in this scope“if noone wants to talk to him then then yes he can live his life alone. ”

            Be honest with yourself. You don’t think that nobody wants to talk to Moldbug/Sterling/whoever. You do know that people want to talk to them, but they can’t, since they are intimidated. And you welcome that.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            @John Schilling
            > [Capitalism]

            There is no way I would expect to convert someone politically in this skinny little comment box so yes we are going to have to disagree here.

            > You want to organize a campaign to intimidate other people into not making deals with me, that’s not fine. But reneging on the deals you already made, with me or with Yarvin or Eich or even Sterling, taking against our will things that we have fairly earned, that makes you an enemy of the highest order and it removes us from any obligation or restraint in our dealings with you and the society you have bent to your will.

            Making this about “me” is ignoring reality, “my side” (the liberals) consider Eich and Modlbug an existential threat and absolutely intend to destroy them. If they want to continue holding their views publicly the only rational option is to fight; but I expect they will lose.

            A significant minority of American society is already out to destroy the publicly anti-gay and a majority quietly supports them, I am not sure if there’s a majority to support destroying white supremacists yet but I suspect that is coming.

            Do you find it at all funny that when I, just another individual on a message board, advocate for “taking against our will things that we have fairly earned” that you consider me an existential threat that must be destroyed but you’ll argue that till your blue that attempting to destroy Moldbug is maximally evil after he repeatedly proposes the murder and enslavement of whole categories of people?

          • undefined in this scope says:

            @Publius Varinius
            No, I think that it’s a pointless hyperbole because the odds of there ever being someone so odious that literally “noone wants to talk to them” is 0.00% and I’m happy that they won’t lead a tortured solitary life. Maybe someday someone will even convince them not to be such an asshole.

          • Cauê says:

            Ok, this has gotten ridiculous.

            Argument gets counterargument. An attempt to do something horrible may get “the only rational option is to fight”, but not “they want to continue holding their views publicly”.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            @Cauê
            Is that a moral statement or factual observation? Because “liberals remove Eich from his job” is an actual event that precipitated this thread of conversation and I don’t think you’ll be able to sell that as a moral statement to anyone significant because the left considers the public advocacy horrible to be “doing something horrible”.

            I don’t see any possible future where saying “We should kill all the blacks” does not elicit a much more material response than the simple “No you shouldn’t”.

          • John Schilling says:

            Making this about “me” is ignoring reality, “my side” (the liberals) consider Eich and Modlbug an existential threat and absolutely intend to destroy them. If they want to continue holding their views publicly the only rational option is to fight; but I expect they will lose.

            So, to be clear, it’s not just one guy being excluded from one conference, and it’s not just a few extremists making noise. This is “the liberals”, as a class, trying to absolutely destroy Yarvin and Eich, and presumably anyone else like them.

            Who are not, in fact, existential threats to anyone. Eich holds a modest opposition to gay marriage specifically while respecting gay rights generally. The process by which this leads inexorably to all of LGBT+dom being marched off to the camps is the most cartoonishly exaggerated version of the domino effect I’ve yet seen. Moldbug, is I believe rather less genocidal than you would accuse him of being, but more importantly is politically impotent.

            If you all believe that these people are “existential threats”, then your threat assessment capabilities are as defective as the nutbars who wanted to round up every Moslem in America on 9/12/01 and send them off to the camps. You won’t stop at Moldbug and Eich. You won’t stop with with the anti-gay and the white supremacists. You will, inevitably, turn on me.

            Your tribe is powerful enough that it is within the realm of possibility that you will succeed in destroying your enemies. That makes you an existential threat to me. Your tribe, at least to the extent that you speak for it, is arrogant enough to believe that its power is supreme, that its victory is certain, and that its lesser enemies will convert to your cause rather than face destruction at your hands. That makes you an existential threat that cannot be negotiated with.

            Not sure there’s anything else to talk about. To the extent that you speak for Liberal America, that was pretty much a declaration of total war against everyone who is not liberal. We’ll see how that turns out for you.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            @John Schilling
            Pretty much! Can I ask you a question before you go though? Am I really the person bringing the idea of absolute culture war to your attention or are you writing that way for dramatic effect? Because by my observation being anti-gay in the public sphere has been political/career suicide for a while now.

            Ok, one more thing that you seem to really be missing here. Neither of these people are “threats” because of their individual power; Moldbug is indeed politically impotent but the class of $(white supremacist) is a real political and moral danger (if you disagree with me on that you’ll just have to take my word that the left absolutely believes this). Moldbug is being attacked because he’s an easy piece of that block to pick off and picking him off makes belonging to the $(white supremacist) class less desirable for anyone on the edge.

          • John Schilling says:

            Obviously, you’re not the first person to bring the idea of total culture war to my attention. But, at least in my experience, most liberals do not speak of this as a necessary and desirable thing. Mostly, they speak of it as a thing that is being forced upon them by Evil Republicans, that they’d rather avoid if the ERs would let them.

            This may not be entirely sincere, but even an insincere expression of hope for peace is a mildly positive sign. Or maybe the liberals I interact with are atypically tolerant of dissenting views.

            But comments like yours are useful for gauging how the pro-war sentiment stands. Until it is clear that they represent the absolutely dominant strain of contemporary Liberalism, I am going to strongly question them when I see them. Because, really?

            When it is clear that they represent the absolutely dominant strain of contemporary Liberalism, then we will go to war.

          • Cauê says:

            @undefined

            The way to proceed from here would be going on about the reasons for defending free speech. To be honest, however, trying to talk you out of “war” would feel like roleplaying, and I don’t feel like it.

          • undefined in this scope says:

            @John Schilling
            Sorry to keep continuing this then but:

            > most liberals do not speak of this as a necessary and desirable thing. Mostly, they speak of it as a thing that is being forced upon them by Evil Republicans, that they’d rather avoid if the ERs would let them.

            This is a contradiction, “being forced” is what makes something necessary.

            Ok, what do you think “peace” looks like to them? I’ll tell you, it means that there are no more racists, zero. I don’t want a war (it’s honestly somewhat aggravating that you think seem to think I’m sitting here cackling for red tribe blood). I think the level of turbulence we’re in and the amount of damage being done to small targets is fucking scary. But I also agree that advocating racism causes tangible harm and removing that from the public sphere ASAP is critical. This is not an even vaguely controversial position on the left.

            > When it is clear that they represent the absolutely dominant strain of contemporary Liberalism, then we will go to war.

            If you’re willing to abandon Eich and Moldbug I honestly unclear on which ideas you expect to be under attack for. If you’re worried about the fact that I’m an actual socialist I can reassure you that for now that’s a fringe position, and that if that battle comes class war is an entirely different mechanic than culture war. Probably involving robots and lasers (that was a joke (hopefully)).

          • John Schilling says:

            @undefined:

            I have been publicly and explicitly accused of racism, not by one crackpot but by the consensus of a community formerly as diverse, thoughtful, and tolerant as this one, for having expressed the belief that cultural factors can adversely effect the performance of one nation’s armed forces relative to its neighbors. When I pushed back, trying to clarify whether “racism” was really what they meant to say, even though the nations involved all had majority populations of the same race, the response was that yes, I was a racist, beyond the pale, unfit for civilized society, unwelcome in their company unless I recanted, and that offering such a defense as this made my comments doubly offensive.

            It was, in hindsight, a mistake to have left quietly. But that was then, this is now:

            A: When you say “no more racists, zero”, do you mean to include me on the list of people to be expelled from society, or am I one of the tolerable not-quite-racists in your view?

            A’: Have you cleared this with all of your liberal friends?

            B: Do you understand that removing racists from society has costs as well as benefits, and that these costs increase exponentially as you have to search wider and finer, probe deeper with less discrimination to find the increasingly few remaining racists?

            B’: Do you and your colleagues really believe that those costs are worth the benefit, at the levels they will have to reach to get the very last racist? Because even the supposedly-intolerant Red Tribe is pretty much resigned to accepting a small residue of communists that can’t practically be eradicated.

            C: Do you think your offer of peaceful coexistence if only I will denounce Eich and Moldbug is even remotely credible?

            You cannot eradicate every last racist without waging war, and I mean to use that term without hyperbole. And you cannot exclude me from that war. I am, by the warped standards of your tribe, already denounced as a racist many times over. Also a capitalist, and a libertarian. And I’m one of those shy nerdy guys Scott wrote about in “untitled”, yet unwilling to declare myself unworthy of romantic attention. Probably a sexist in other ways as well, maybe a rapist and certainly an MRA. Do I need to go on?

            If “no more racists, zero” is truly the standard, then I’m on your tribe’s hit list, my name carved in adamantine runes. I can stand with the enemies of my enemy, or I can stand alone.

          • voidfraction says:

            >Ok, what do you think “peace” looks like to them? I’ll tell you, it means that there are no more racists, zero.

            This is an incredibly laudable goal, but it sounds about as achievable as a Bush-era declaration that they will not rest until there are no more terrorists, zero. Our post-9/11 zealousness overseas led to a situation where impoverished Afghan goatherds could falsely denounce their neighbors as terrorists for massive cash rewards. In most cases, the government would snatch up said neighbor and ask some very pointed questions, which was especially handy if the informer had a grudge against them.

            As the increase in clickthrough rate and social status achieved by calling out racists continues (and the profit margin of newspapers continues to fall), we’ll start to see similar phenomena.

          • Alraune says:

            This is an incredibly laudable goal

            No, it is the essence of evil. “Kill all X” does not become laudable because you picked the right X.

          • Gene Marsh says:

            Performing victimage is a bad look for an adult male. My apologies if you’re under 18,
            but you come off like a real tearful fanboy.
            When you feel scared just repeat to yourself “my side owns all the guns, they have nothing but shrill voices, mace and long fingernails. my side is represented by rightwing legislators running every statehouse in the land with fealty to nobody but your corporate heroes. The SJWs (so embarrassing-this term) have…..like zero political prescence?” You think Hillary’s strategizing with sleater-kinney or morgan stanley? Who’s running your world SJWs or the US Chamber of Commerce?
            Don’t be such a pussy, kid. You’ll be fine.

          • Peter says:

            Re: Gene Marsh – True? Kind? Necessary? I count at least two cases of sexist nonsense there, including one gendered slur.

            Edit to add: Oh, you seem to have left of your own accord.

          • Publius Varinius says:

            @Gene Marsh

            “my side owns all the guns”

            Did you really think that Morgan-Stanley is in league with “adult males”?

            Of course not. That so-called “side” does not exist. You and your friends made it up to justify your genocidal tendencies.

            I see you left this place. Good riddance.

        • drethelin says:

          Jews in Germany were doing “quite well” up until they weren’t. That in fact was a huge part of the rhetoric against them. Being in favor of all-out tactics against the enemy doesn’t go away when you become more powerful than them.

          • Adam says:

            Christ almighty, here we go again. A guy get barred from presenting at a conference and already one person compares it to the gulag and another to the holocaust. Can we recognize the existence of degrees of things?

            Can we say it isn’t a huge deal to prevent a guy from talking at a specific place to a specific audience and he’ll be fine, while also saying it’s not okay to confiscate all his property and throw him into a forced labor camp?

          • John Schilling says:

            Haven’t we been told, repeatedly, that the reason we must shun and ostracize the likes of Yarvin is that from little things like emotionally-detached essays on nonliberal politics might grow something of real and great harm in the future?

            I see real and great harm growing from petty acts of organized ostracism, long before I see Moldbug reestablishing the French monarchy. A small evil is still an evil. A small evil by an ambitious power, is a warning.

          • Matt M says:

            Indeed. The commies who will do literally as much as they can to destroy their ideological enemies seem, to me, to be a much bigger threat than someone who occasionally suggests that colonialism wasn’t that bad.

            Even if we set them equal in terms of how bad it would be if they took over, based on current trends, the commies seem far more LIKELY to take over sometime in the forseeable future than colonialists do…

          • Gene Marsh says:

            “Even if we set them equal in terms of how bad it would be if they took over, based on current trends, the commies seem far more LIKELY to take over sometime in the forseeable future than colonialists do…”

            We are colonialists! This is a known known. You’re going to be so psyched when you finally read about the Iraq War. Double your pleasure when you discover the fall of communism. You’ll wipe the sweat off your brow when read Fukuyama and understand there is nothing else but capitalism. No competing system. My God. So fearful. This entire commentariat is like the twilite zone episode “monsters on maple street”.

            Scott, as a mental health professional who has participated in the riling up of this absurd hysteria, you have two good reasons to talk these terrified gynophobes down. Its the most irrational place ive ever been on the internet.
            … its been hysterical.
            Been lurking for a year. Heading for saner pastures——bye bye

          • @Adam: you’re overlooking the damage to society. We have a crisis in computing – the unprecedented extent to which computers are now being used, and the number of new ways in which they are being used, have far outpaced our already limited ability to engineer reliable software.

            We drastically need novel ideas like those that were to have been presented. Society can’t afford to lose this sort of talent for irrational reasons.

      • Emile says:

        In the country of my childhood, this is what would happen to Moldbug — He would spend a few hours questioned by the communist gestapo-equivalent; maybe tortured to confess what other people with similar opinions he knows. After a phone call, his blog would be immediately deleted by the server owner. He would be fired from his job, and never allowed to get any job that requires being “trustworthy”. His children would not be allowed to study at university, and his relatives would not be allowed to travel to other countries.

        Les anybody think this is hyperbole, a few years back in China I met people to whom that happened (lost their engineer job, couldn’t get a new one, not sure about whether family members had problems but I think so), for belonging to Falun Gong.

    • Jos says:

      I don’t know what it is that Moldbug thinks either. As you point out, his writing is long enough that I’m not sure anyone knows, even Moldbug.

      My guess is that the case against Moldbug is the case against Limbaugh – that you could easily find several dozen snippets of language that are offensive, and that that’s enough to those who don’t want people presenting at tech conferences if the presenters have a sideline blog with offensive material.

  23. AR+ says:

    So, overall, on a scale of 0 to 9, where 0 is, “maybe just don’t live with cats while pregnant, if it’s not too inconvenient,” and 9 is, “GAS THE CATS, PET WAR NOW!”

    …how much of a concern is Toxoplasma, really?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Current risk of schizophrenia is 1% per person, study finds an OR of 1.5, ORs are terrible but sometimes you can approximate them as RR, so that would mean there’s an absolute risk of +0.5% schizophrenia from having a cat.

      That’s not nothing, but probably not worth holding a jihad over either.

    • houseboatonstyx says:

      Getting a little bit meta utilitarian here, we don’t know the apparent connection is real and non-negligible. We do know that losing a cat causes pain to the people who loved it.

  24. Paul Kinsky says:

    Peter Watts recently posted a (very) short story that seems highly relevant to the AI-risk crowd: http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=5968

    The core thesis is that sufficiently high-bandwidth links between brains would act similarly to the corpus callosum, causing them to coalesce into a single intelligence. Assuming this is possible, I believe that the first superhuman intelligence will likely be composed of networked human brains and not silicon.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split-brain

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I don’t know much neuroscience, but I think the corpus callosum is collections between lots and lots of individual neurons. It’s not just a single wire connecting Relay Station 1 on the right to Relay Station 2 on the left.

      I’m not sure how technology would duplicate that without some way of connecting billions of neurons individually to a wireless communications implant. That sounds really hard.

      • Paul Kinsky says:

        it would require something like the network of thousands of 100-micron passive sensors proposed in this recently published two year old paper “Neural Dust: An Ultrasonic, Low Power Solution for Chronic Brain-Machine Interfaces” It’s summarized (quite well) here: http://upgrade.io9.com/neural-dust-is-a-step-towards-nexus-806802917.

        I can’t find any more recently published works by the authors, but assuming steady progress in micro or nano-scale fabrication I expect that similar systems will become feasible within the next few decades. The proposed neural dust would consist of passive sensors, but nodes with read/write capability are certainly possible. I expect it to arrive at approximately the same time as the first human-level AI.

    • anon says:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GAicTW7MGo

      2013 lecture by Watts on networked minds which also digs into the split brain question. He seems to suggest in this one that a hive mind comprised of multiple networked brains wouldn’t be conscious because signal propagation time would preclude self awareness, a point he also makes in a throwaway line in Echopraxia regarding distributed AIs.

    • rsaarelm says:

      So if I understood it correctly, it has millions of regular human brains suddenly linked into one huge neural network for 21 seconds, and this results in a burst of superintelligence that manages to do a bunch of Getting Out Of The Box engineering before someone pulls the plug. Let’s assume the big connection somehow works as advertised, the brains can actually do some meaningful wide-scale communication right away through some kind of interfaces that have already learned each user’s personal idiosyncratic neural patterns and so on.

      Every human brain is still running at a clock speed of somewhere under 100 Hz. The newborn hive mind is going to be one hell of a pattern recognizer and random association trip, but any new sequential thinking it’s going to do is going to have less than 2000 iterations to run before the plug is pulled. You can do something with that, but you’re not going to do the sort of iterative planning you need to design and launch a swarm of AI software agents. Making something like that is going to take a lot of cycles of coming up with a partial design, evaluating it and refining it, and that’s going to involve working off your earlier mind state. I don’t see how any brain could do anything at all with what it learned from the meld experience before the next neuron firings, so the whole mess would probably have to take quite a while longer to get its hivemind superintelligence legs.

      • John Schilling says:

        Ooh, now that’s a clever, evil thought. Plausible.

        Another factor is, there’s a lot of overhead to meaningfully initializing a million-node network, and I don’t know that it can be done ab initio in 2000 clock cycles. Sure, 2^20 ~= 1E6, so with a perfectly efficient binary tree you’ve got twenty cycles to send out the problem and twenty to collate the answer(s), only 2% of your time.

        But that’s assuming the network is fully mapped before startup, the optimized software is up and running, the problem and each node’s role in solving it can fit into a single word or packet, etc, etc. If you’re burning 2% of your “lifespan” every time you do a simple ping-response across the distributed brain, you may not get much thinking done with even a million brains of raw meaty computronium.

        On the other hand, as you note, maybe someone is inclined to leave precoded “and here’s how you bootstrap a megabrain in under a dozen ticks” routines lying around in hopes of a few crumbs of singularity-level reward…

        • Deiseach says:

          Yeah, I imagine if a group wanted to create a hive-mind AI, then a resource like a huge, linking in brains and giving them virtual worlds to play in, network already set up would be catnip to them.

          All(!) they need to do is go online in a group together, make a plan about how they’ll override the safeties, and what they’ll do from there – including the “here’s one we made earlier: how to bootstrap yourself to AI godhood” caches of information already embedded in previous trips online.

        • Paul Kinsky says:

          Good point, but in the linked story the brains were already connected to an optionally shared VR gaming/media environment. Those brains would already have access to whatever protocol that VR environment was using as a sort of base channel.

          Also, central control may not be required. Network brains probably suck at emulating traditional computing environments, but it’s possible that something more distributed could still do useful work. (Baseless speculation disclaimer on this paragraph, though)

  25. Cauê says:

    Shooting from the hip on the depression thing: are treatments less effective across the board, or are they still as effective in some cases but ineffective in a growing number of cases? If the latter, perhaps what’s been changing is what cases are diagnosed as depression.

  26. AR+ says:

    I sympathize with the desire to give into that to avoid trouble, but I think maybe the only way to avoid enshrining that kind of heckler’s veto always working is to make it clear that the choice to give in will also be politicized.

    I think there was a major game theory book that pointed out that making it a crime to give into blackmail can protect potential blackmail victims.

    Similar: my idea to make yielding to terrorist threats a capital crime.

    • Cauê says:

      Sounds like Schelling, but I don’t have it on me to check.

      • tgb says:

        Schelling absolutely gives that example, as well as an old law in England making it punishable by death to pay ransom/tribute to pirates.

    • Matt M says:

      Of course, there’s also the Walter Block theory in “Defending the Undefendable” which states that blackmailers add positive value to society by giving those with dirty secrets additional flexibility in deciding whether or not their secrets are exposed.

      • Held In Escrow says:

        It’s the blackmail paradox; we’re technically better off in a one round game by letting blackmail exist because both parties are better off for the transaction… but you create a perverse incentive to hunt down dirty secrets that others have and then blackmail people for them, which is just rent seeking.

        • It’s one step more complicated. You also create an incentive for people not to do things they would be ashamed of having known, or likely to get locked up for, because other people have an incentive to find out about it in order to blackmail them. From that standpoint, blackmail looks rather like a decentralized private system of criminal enforcement—good or bad according to your view of the rules it enforces.

          My complaint about Walter’s article is that, as best I recall, he ignores the incentive to find out secrets effect in the first half, where it undermines his argument (since it means the victim may be worse off as a result of blackmail being legal) and then discovers it in the second half where it supports the argument he is making there.

      • Deiseach says:

        How is that giving me flexibility? I have a secret that, for whatever reason, I don’t want my family and/or my superiors and/or society at large to know. Now, whether or not it’s a criminal secret may affect if it’s a good idea for a third party to have knowledge of it, but someone calling to see me and saying “I know all about X, if you don’t pay me this amount every month, I will tell all” is not flexibility, it’s coercion.

        No blackmailer:
        Choices – I tell my secret. Result: my secret is revealed.
        I don’t tell my secret. Result: my secret is kept.

        Blackmailer:
        Choices – I reveal the secret before the blackmailer can reveal it – depending on what the secret is and how big an effect it will have on my life, this could be the nuclear option. Result: my secret is revealed.
        I tell the blackmailer go ahead, I won’t pay, tell all – the Duke of Wellington’s “publish and be damned”. Result: my secret is revealed.
        I want to keep my secret secret and I can afford to pay the monthly sum. Result: my secret is kept.
        I want to keep my secret secret but I can’t afford to pay – it gets revealed (or I try murdering the blackmailer, which probably gets it revealed anyway in the long run when I’m arrested for murder). Result: my secret is revealed.

        Blackmail being legal or the existence of blackmailers seems to mean more likelihood of secrets coming out, and not by free choice but by coerced actions. Even when a crime is involved, a blackmailer is not a whistleblower; the blackmailer is happy to profit by my crime (after all, if I’m locked away in jail, I can’t pay the hush money every month). If the blackmailer reveals wrongdoing, the positive effect for society (real criminals are discovered and punished) only comes about by accident. I don’t see it as discouraging people from doing things that could later be used for blackmail, because we’re all young and stupid at some point (e.g. the modern example of girls sending naked photos of themselves to boyfriends and then being horrified when these end up for public consumption) or we get into situations that go out of control or we’re unlucky or we are sometimes really bad people who do really bad things.

        • John Schilling says:

          You’re assuming “blackmailer” is an, er, black-and-white categorization.

          Consider a marginal blackmailer. A person not already favorably predisposed to you, who stumbles upon your dirty secret. Dirty secrets are gossip-worthy, and any decent gossip has social value to whoever spreads it first. Keeping dirty secrets is shameful – not as shameful as the underlying act, usually, but if the first person to discover the truth doesn’t blab, they risk collateral damage should some later discoverer go public and the circumstances make clear that the first one had known all along.

          If blackmail is effectively proscribed, the person who stumbles upon your dirty secret, tells all. The benefit to them is small, the risk to them instead keeping the secret may be small, but that’s balanced against no benefit to keeping your secret and no risk in revealing it.

          Your dirty secret is revealed. You have no choice.

          If blackmail is an available option, your dirty secret may or may not be revealed. You have a choice, even if not a free one.

          Now, this is balanced against the fact that legal blackmail will encourage people to seek out your dirty secrets, rather than limiting your concern to people who might stumble across them. So I doubt it’s a net benefit in that regard. But the argument of increased choice isn’t entirely spurious.

        • Deiseach says:

          Keeping a secret second-hand is only harmful to you if the secret is criminal (e.g. if it is later discovered you knew Tom Thumb was a swindler, murderer or rapist and never said). Indeed that’s where the whole impetus for laws about mandatory disclosure are coming in for teachers, etc. who have suspicions of child abuse and don’t contact the relevant authorities.

          If, on the other hand, the dirty secret is that X who is married to Y is having an affair with Z, the collateral damage is much smaller; Y may be angry or distressed you never told them, but it’s not a criminal matter.

          I don’t necessarily see gossip as the same thing as blackmail. For blackmail to be blackmail, the second party who stumbles across the secret has to threaten the person whose secret it is with revelation of the secret unless some item or act of value is paid to the blackmailer.

          Susie telling Jenny who tells Annie who tells Winona that Mary has a crush on Tom may be embarrassing for Mary, and may even have an ill effect on her social standing in the group if Winona is Tom’s girlfriend, but it’s hardly blackmail unless Susie goes to Mary and threatens to tell Winona she’s trying to steal her man, unless Mary hands over her lunch money every day.

          Also, re: blackmail being proscribed – and if you include gossip in the category of blackmail – we do proscribe it under the heading of confidentiality. Scott finds out embarrassing dirty little secrets about people as part of his job. Hell, so do I, and I don’t even want to know them. I’ve referred to some of them on here before, but only because (a) I’m not naming names (b) the majority of you are thousands of miles away (c) I hope it’s not in the spirit of gossip but rather as evidence of “this kind of stuff happens”.

          I recently during the working week learned another juicy horrible dirty little secret. If I go around telling it to people in the neighbourhood, the benefit to me is small but the risk is indeed great – risk of losing my job and being sued for slander by the person and all other consequences of breaking confidentiality.

          There may be no benefit to me in keeping their secret (and indeed, if Social Services were any damn good, they should know this type of thing already, or we should be free to tell them) but the risks are more than small.

          Should we do away with client/doctor, client/lawyer, client/public services confidentiality in the spirit of not proscribing blackmail?

          • “I don’t necessarily see gossip as the same thing as blackmail.”

            The point isn’t that gossip is the same thing as blackmail. It’s that one possible benefit of blackmail is that it permits someone to pay $100 to the blackmailer in order to prevent him from spreading gossip that would otherwise cost the equivalent of $200 in reputational or other damage.

  27. Nick T says:

    It’s interesting how the open borders piece keeps using the word “smart” to mean “high human capital”, as if intelligence were the only component of human capital that might generate externalities.

    • John Schilling says:

      Yes, that grated on me as well. And a large fraction of his target audience is I think primed to reject anything that hints at IQ as a discriminator between classes of humanity, so this may have been tactically unwise as well as annoying and inaccurate.

  28. Anonymous` says:

    …so the gay-male-has-fecund-female-gene thing sorta explains* the well-known “younger brothers are more likely to be gay” thing (*I have no quantitative knowledge about these effects; maybe it doesn’t explain all of it). To be a younger brother, your mother had to be on the more-fecund side.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Family size is an obvious thing to control for, and I would be, I guess not shocked, but certainly a bit surprised if they hadn’t thought to control for it.

      • Anonymous` says:

        …I finally actually clicked through to the abstract and they thought of the point in my parent post. Skimming the paper, though, I don’t think they controlled for family size.

    • gbdub says:

      My understanding was that younger brothers are more likely than older brothers to be gay, controlling for family size. In other words, given that a family has 3 sons, the 2nd is more likely to be gay than the 1st, and the 3rd more likely than either. But the 1st son is not significantly more likely to be gay than an only son in a one-son family.

      You seem to be thinking “all sons in multiple son families are more likely than only sons to be gay”. Which is not quite the same thing.

    • MawBTS says:

      Were you guys aware that when a gay man has an identical twin, that twin is typically sexually discordant (ie, not gay)?

      That seems a pretty strong indicator that male homosexuality has an environmental trigger, rather than a genetic one.

      • Ano says:

        And yet we have no idea what that trigger is. Given that homosexuality has existed in some form in a massive range of societies separated by both time and location, it seems hard to narrow it down. Perhaps there is a hidden environmental connection between Sudanese gay activists, Elton John and King James I, but if there is, I can’t see it.

  29. Sigivald says:

    Maybe if organizers know that banning all insufficiently-leftist-people and not banning all insufficiently-leftist-people will both result in politicization and Internet firestorms, they’ll say “screw it” and just follow their principles.

    Additional bonus – if this behavior becomes widespread and usual, the politicization stops.

    Incentives matter, as the economists say.

    When politicization stops being a winning strategy, it will stop happening.

  30. Sigivald says:

    and worry that if we import many of their citizens here, then they might bring whatever factors made their country terrible to the First World and make our countries terrible.

    So, like Californians?

    (Not in the “third world” aspect, but in the “moving and bringing terrible policy ideas with them” aspect.

    It’s a standard subject of mockery in Arizona and Colorado, and has been for decades in Oregon and Washington.

    Exactly how true it is is hard to quantify, of course.)

  31. JayMan says:

    Remember, “non-shared environment” doesn’t necessarily mean “sociology stuff” – Toddler temperament could be influenced by different types of gut bacteria.

    Yes. However, as far as I’ve seen, there’s little by way of evidence that variation in gut flora is causal to phenotypic variation, rather than itself being just another result of said variation. However, this arena holds a lot of promise for future discovery.

    Some opponents of open borders argue that a lot of Third World countries (eg Afghanistan, Somalia) are kind of terrible, and worry that if we import many of their citizens here, then they might bring whatever factors made their country terrible to the First World and make our countries terrible. The open borders movement presents the start of a counterargument.

    Those people are crazy. They don’t see the obvious flaw in extrapolating from the fact that smart Third Worlders earn more in First World countries to conclude that the same would continue to be true if the bulk of the Third World moved to the First?

    There is rather incontrovertible evidence on this point: poverty and wealth, particularly in today’s world, is endogenous. People are the source. Move the people, you simply move their conditions with them (a few marginal changes notwithstanding – but Gregory Clark’s work shows that even the supposed productivity boost that immigrants experience still has them end up fairly constant in rank-order from their place of origin to their new locations.)

    Old question “why does evolution allow homosexuality to exist when it decreases reproduction?” seems to have been solved, at least in fruit flies: the female relatives of gayer fruit flies have more children. Same thing appears to be true in humans. Unclear if lesbianism has a similar aetiology.

    Absolutely not. Any such putative sexually antagonistic genes would be quite easy to find in GWAS studies. Such studies have turned up none. See the discussion indexed here:

    Greg Cochran’s “Gay Germ” Hypothesis – An Exercise in the Power of Germs | JayMan’s Blog

    As for female same-sex attraction, the best suspicion is that its roughly selectively neutral. See here:

    Female Same-Sex Attraction Revisited | JayMan’s Blog

    If you’re not familiar with the Albion’s Seed hypothesis, Charles Murray does a decent job explaining it here, plus discussion of America’s multicultural past and future.

    See also of course:

    American Nations Series | JayMan’s Blog

    • Scott Alexander says:

      The rank order thing seems much less interesting than you think. Consider Maoist China. It was a hellhole. Consider non-Maoist China. It is rich and powerful and approaching First World living standards. All the open borders advocates are saying is that instead of waiting for China to become non-Maoist, we could have had the Chinese go over to places that were already non-Maoist.

      • John Schilling says:

        Doesn’t that lead to something like 90% of the world’s population living in 10% of its habitable land, with 90% of the planet given over to the failed states that come when oppressive regimes can no longer find enough oppressees to keep the machinery running? And, since some of the 10% will do better than the rest at dealing with the massive influx, with 99/1 in the next generation’s self-sorting?

        If the plan is that we then go knock over the failed states and set up our own institutions around the mostly-empty globe, then what you are essentially proposing is a calculated multi-generational plan for world conquest by NATO. So let’s talk about what the optimal timescale for shifting to the “conquest” phase should actually be, and how the targets of this plan are likely to react in any event.

        Otherwise, you’re ceding the globe to tyranny and then anarchy, and hoping we won’t be utterly swamped by the refugees.

        • onyomi says:

          I think America having open borders would actually help the people who stayed in countries with worse governments than our own because it would introduce an element of competition for citizenry. Unless they go the opposite route and forbid emigration, like North Korea.

          Imagine if anyone from Haiti were free to work and live in the US so long as they can get here. Haiti would empty out very rapidly at first, but the politicians there might actually start to suck less when they realize that their entire tax base is going to evaporate if they don’t start sucking less.

          If we could somehow get all the nations of the world to have open borders simultaneously that would be better, but much less plausible.

          • John Schilling says:

            Why Haiti and not Cuba? For almost 50 years, US policy has been that essentially any Cuban who makes it to the US coast is entitled to permanent residency, and hundreds of thousands of Cubans have taken advantage of this. Do you see any improvement in Cuban government or institutions that you would attribute to this factor?

          • onyomi says:

            I honestly am not familiar enough with the history of Cuba to say, but it wouldn’t surprise me if, in an alternate universe in which fleeing Cubans were sent back to Cuba, the Cuban government were even worse.

          • Anonymous says:

            This has been tried and it doesn’t work. Puerto Rico did empty out. Equilibrium was achieved by receiving lots of money from the mainland.

            (A lot more Cubans would leave if it were legal.)

          • LHN says:

            When did Puerto Rico empty out? Census numbers seem to show steady, mostly double-digit growth decade-by-decade through 2000.

            (Since then there’s been a ~2 percent drop, which doesn’t suggest a mass exodus.)

      • Ever An Anon says:

        Edit: ninja’d, and evidently exposed as an unoriginal thinker.

        That argument would seem to apply more towards pro-British colonialism than pro-immigration though, given that Deng was in large part looking out the metaphorical window at Hong Kong and Singapore’s successful capitalist economies instead of at, say, Chinese-Americans in California.

        Besides, even if Mao had decided to let everyone leave, who is supposed to take on more than a billion Chinese refugees? That’s what the issue is now: if everyone can immigrate freely as a ‘refugee from poverty’ as it were, then what do you do with the hundreds of millions of new Americans? Why not emulate the Chinese transition to capitalism and improve their homelands instead?

        • Anonymous says:

          Mao did, in fact, offer Nixon as many Chinese as he wanted, in blocks of 10 million.

        • AR+ says:

          Indeed. Isn’t open borders really just benevolent colonialism, anyway? The important thing is that they live under Western rule; the only point of disagreement seems to be whether to bring them to the West or bring the West to them.

          And annexation does, at least, trivially solve the problem of where all the new residents are supposed to live.

          • Randy M says:

            Well, there is the fact of how voluntary it is (which is why I didn’t make this same point after seeing the two issues juxtaposed in this thread).

      • Tarrou says:

        All the economic analysis forgets basic tribalism. As you well know, Scott, humans are built to ingroup/outgroup. The simple fact is, that a group of people who have an identity together are going to want to keep that grouping distinct and keep others out. You can wish people weren’t like this, but they are. Personally, I think the ethnic nation-state is probably the largest possible stable “tribe”. Being multi-ethnic brings many advantages, but just as many problems. And ending states? Good luck. Borders are what make nations. It is the whole point. As a thought experiment, open borders is interesting. As policy, it is hilarious.

      • Cassander says:

        China had a gdp pretty capita about 1/3 that of Mexico’s. It’s no where near first world standards

    • gwern says:

      Any such putative sexually antagonistic genes would be quite easy to find in GWAS studies. Such studies have turned up none. See the discussion indexed here:

      So let me see if I understand how GWAS applies here.

      Your argument is that while heterozygote advantage & sexual antagonistic selection may have complicated nonlinear genetic-to-reproductive-fitness relationships where maybe a little is better than more or less or effects vary by gender, but still under both theories there should necessarily be a simple additive relationship from more of a particular variant to greater likelihood of being homosexual. (Is this based on the general observation that most genetics is additive, or do the twin studies specifically prove that the small heritability must be mostly additive?)

      And that 23andMe GWAS finds no statistically-significant hits despite claimed high power to detect important additive variants; so we can infer from the absence of evidence that there probably are no important additive variants, hence no important variants, hence neither heterozygote advantage nor sexual antagonistic selection.

      Is that right?

  32. No discussion of the Moldbug/Strange Loop controversy would be complete without a link to Moldbug’s offer to recant.

    • I like how he’s framing this so that the truth of what is going on, and the injustice that is being perpetrated against him, is impossible to miss.

    • Walter says:

      “But recanting is a serious matter – it’s the sort of thing you need to get right the first time.”

      Ah Moldbug. Its really a shame he doesn’t blog anymore. He’d be fun to read even if I disagreed with him.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I found that smarmy and annoying.

      • Peter says:

        Also… I know I shouldn’t use stupid Bingo card logic, but it’s impossible to resist. There’s a Crackpot Index and comparing yourself to Galileo scores you pretty big points. It’s a little different from the usual, and it’s not revolutionary new physics theories, but still.

        You may now tell me off for being a bad bad person. I admit it.

        • memeticengineer says:

          This is probably the least appropriate place ever to use bingo card logic! http://squid314.livejournal.com/329561.html

          • Peter says:

            Indeed.

            Although, come to think of it, is reaching for one of Scott’s essays in this way our own version of Bingo carding?

          • Cauê says:

            Nah… we’re pointing to actual arguments, and would hopefully be open to discussing the merits of counterarguments.

        • Bugmaster says:

          To be fair, when crackpots compare themselves to Galileo, they usually do so in a favorable fashion: “They persecuted Galileo, but look, he was totally right ! And now they are persecuting me, that means I’m right too !”

          Moldbug, on the other hand, is doing so in a self-deprecating fashion. He’s saying, “Galileo was perfectly willing to say whatever the powers that be wanted him to say, just in order to survive in society; I’m willing to do the same thing. Yes, this may not be brave or honorable, but if the alternative is to be burned at the stake like Bruno, then screw it, I’m signing on the dotted line”.

          • FJ says:

            I believe the classic rebuttal to the crackpot is “They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

          • LHN says:

            Which always seemed unfair to Bozo, who deliberately solicited laughter rather than unintentionally earning it.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ fj

            Being laughed at isn’t conclusive evidence for either side. Bayesianly, Wright Brothers are rare. But when one of them is right, the result is very important. The odder a claim sounds, the more important it may be — after being laughed at more loudly.

            Some people want to rename Columbus Day to something more PC*. I’d like to rename it Queen Isabella Day, in honor of funding crackpot research that brings big unexpected results.

            *Sheesh, I probably get counted as part of a Rightist dogpile** for using that term. But, ‘epidemic’, ‘SJW’, ‘PC’, ‘Homeopathic’, ‘Woo’, etc are part of how language evolves.***

            ** I have no idea what ‘attacked hard’ meant in the original comment. But like other Leftists, around here I usually keep my head down for … similar reasons. I’d call it ‘being dogpiled’, except that would be stretching ‘dogpiled’.

            *** I’ll defend my use of ‘evolves’ and other footnotes if invited. “Let’s step out to the left side of the screen, buddy.”

      • Anonymous` says:

        I’m willing to give even more license than normal for smarminess and annoyingness when the perpetrator was barred from giving a talk on his new computing system for his unrelated political views. Given how seriously you usually take these kinds of cases, I’m surprised that’s your reaction.

  33. Esquire says:

    Missing talking point re: Baltimore. If police doing their normal jobs in these communities are the only difference between no murders and TONS OF MURDERS, it suggests that police activity is an enormous net positive for Baltimore’s poor minorities. Doesn’t mean abuses are OK, but certainly seems like a different background context than we usually hear.

    • Adam says:

      When has Baltimore ever had no murders?

      • Esquire says:

        Uh is the factual content of the link text that crime “skyrocket”ed in dispute?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Actually, I haven’t seen anything that gives any sort of detail to the “skyrocket” claim. The linked article only states one number with no context at all.

        • Adam says:

          No, the dispute is with what you said, that police doing their normal jobs is the difference between no murder and tons of murders. The rep in the article doesn’t even give a consistent account. On the one hand, he says police aren’t arresting anybody because they’re afraid of getting in trouble. But earlier, he says any time they arrive at a scene, they’re immediately surrounded by 30 to 50 people. If the latter is true, then sure, a city with continued rioting in which police cannot do anything at all is surely even worse than a city with overzealous racist police, but there are intermediate options between those two things.

          • Ever An Anon says:

            [A] city with continued rioting in which police cannot do anything at all is surely even worse than a city with overzealous racist police, but there are intermediate options between those two things.

            Are there?

            That’s not snark, I’m honestly not sure. It certainly seems like the reverse is true, at least anecdotally: I have never seen or heard of a police reform which didn’t substantially tilt the balance of power towards criminals.

            The current situation re: crime and police abuse is appalling and unprecedented. But the solution of weakening the police only works if crime can be contained through other mechanisms. That has yet to be demonstrated.

    • Matt M says:

      Even if we find it morally repugnant (for a number of reasons), it’s not a bad attempt at a controlled experiment by the police officers.

      Basically, “You think we cause net harm to your community? Fine. We’ll go away and let’s see what happens.”

    • Another one: isn’t it more likely that they’re thinking “if we show our faces, we’ll get lynched”?

      • Adam says:

        That seemed to be what the police rep was saying, about officers getting swarmed by a mob anywhere they go, which I don’t think very manner would advocate as a sane means of enforcing police neutrality.

    • einbaltimore says:

      Baltimore still has a pretty high murder rate, right now is just a lot higher than normal.

      ” But earlier, he says any time they arrive at a scene, they’re immediately surrounded by 30 to 50 people. ” – this is an exaggeration. I haven’t seen it happen once and the police are always patrolling where I live. It was happening as much as they claim, they would be able to release dash cam video or offer some proof.

      Right now I don’t think it’s neither narrative or the police can’t do they job because they are scared or they aren’t doing their job. I believe it’s a drug war going on. It appears that people are being executed; no shootouts, headshots, etc.

      • I have no particular reason to believe this is in fact happening; but surely the fact that it isn’t happening in your particular part of the city is not evidence that it isn’t happening elsewhere?

  34. onyomi says:

    Factor which may work in favor of net positive effect of open borders:

    Maybe the goodness of good institutions becomes, to some extent, self-evident to those who live with them.

  35. In re dogs and magic tricks: It does seem rather unfair to the dogs. However, I wouldn’t mind seeing how dogs react to food appearing out of nowhere. Also, it was interesting that some of the dogs seemed as much distressed as frustrated at the second link about the floating hot dog.

    Two points against the Charles Murray link: I appreciate the summary of Albion’s Seed, but I live in Philadelphia, a fairly large city, and I do keep seeing the same post office clerks again and again, and we’re at least on mildly friendly terms. Not every post office in a big city is huge.

    More importantly, when he says that small towns don’t need much oversight, I’m shocked. Hasn’t he heard of Ferguson? It’s conceivable that small town need better targeted oversight than they’re getting– less on the whole, but more intrusive about some things.

    BoingBoing on Rickrolling: That link got me to listen to the lyrics. I feel doubly trolled.

    • Alraune says:

      iirc, Ferguson is only a small town in nominal terms. It has a high population density and is functionally part of St. Louis. They just declare a new municipality every five feet in Missouri for bizarre zoning/development control reasons.

      • Anonymous says:

        Also, Ferguson had a lot of population turnover recently.
        (Ferguson is under the 20k threshold that Murray suggests.)

    • Randy M says:

      In what way did Ferguson need more oversight? I belive racial disparities in arrests were fairly typical there. Open to correction.

      • Ferguson was using arbitrary fines collected from mostly poor, mostly black people to fund their local government.

        • Randy M says:

          Hadn’t heard that before, but doesn’t sound particularly atypical; many cities fund themselves in large part with fines and fees which the poor are more likely to be either ignorant of, or unable to avoid.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The fines were/are essentially kleptocracy. The fines/tickets didn’t serve the purpose of keeping the city safe/enforcing socially good behavior, but rather simply operate in lieu of a sane taxation system.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “The fines were/are essentially kleptocracy. The fines/tickets didn’t serve the purpose of keeping the city safe/enforcing socially good behavior, but rather simply operate in lieu of a sane taxation system.”

            …uh, yeah, that still doesn’t sound atypical. I’ve lived in a couple municipalities in Texas that were well-known for working like that. Likewise the dependency of state and federal agencies on asset forfeiture to keep their budgets padded.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Just because something has become typical doesn’t make it OK. The question at hand is does Ferguson (as a small community) support the narrative that small communities need less oversight.

            Randy M seems perfectly fine with situation and think it is fine because it is typical. I’m not arguing against its typicality, but its OKness.

          • nydwracu says:

            Maryland: “Looks like we have a huge budget problem. Time to install speed cameras everywhere!”

            Allowing the state to collect fines is not the best of incentives, especially since people always want more state and lower taxes. But it’s only a problem in places where there are a lot of blacks. Doing underhanded shit like that to white people isn’t a problem, because for something to be a problem, there has to be a race/gender/”””sexual orientation””” angle.

          • Two tangents on fines to fund local government:

            1. Kipling has a story about it (“The Village that Voted the Earth Was Flat”).

            2. It happens in modern China. At some point, operating an automobile in Beijing required payment of eleven different fees.

          • Actually, there a lot of complaint about speed cameras as a recent generation mechanism in the UK. Absent a race or gender angle.

          • BBA says:

            Hampton, Florida was a town of a few hundred that managed to annex a few feet of a nearby highway and proceeded to milk speeding drivers for what they were worth.

            This only went so far before drivers started complaining, and it turned out that the town had no financial controls to speak of and the fines just went into various government officials’ pockets. Oh, and the mayor was busted selling pain meds. Even for Florida this was a bit much.

          • Gene Marsh says:

            “Allowing the state to collect fines is only a problem in places where there are a lot of blacks. Doing underhanded shit like that to white people isn’t a problem, because for something to be a problem, there has to be a race/gender/”sexual orientation””” angle.”

            I thought you were sane?

        • Randy M says:

          HeelBearCub thinks our federal government will be more even handed and has the resources to give oversight to every municipality. I am amused on both counts.

          Unless we were talking about oversight from the town citizens? I totally agree people need to be more involved in local politics.

    • alexp says:

      Re: Murry, Haidt speculated that less bureaucratized community built on interpersonal bonds, traditional authority, and religion might work well for most people, but fails people on the margins, such as racial and sexual minorities, people who’d prefer ad less traditional role, or people who are abused by their traditional authority figures.

      For example, look at this Cracked article (Huge trigger warning regarding sexual violence):
      http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-1440-5-things-i-learned-as-sex-slave-in-modern-america.html

      • Protagoras says:

        While the piece is mostly about alleged personal experiences, when it wanders into statistics they include the usual red flag BS ones, and the whole story really sounds too much like the lurid, sensationalistic narratives of the anti-prostitution crowd to be believable. It’s possible that awful things happened to her that she’s embellished to bring closer to the anti-prostitution narrative (children being exploited by their parents is certainly believable, and perhaps she just tacked on the bits about the fictional multi-billion dollar international child prostitution conspiracies), but it’s also possible it’s all fiction (that’s certainly not unheard of in this area, sadly).

        • Cauê says:

          There are certain clues that the story is too perfect, like the fact that it checks a suspicious number of boxes of “things these activists fight against”. Considering this, the site it’s on, and previous experiences, I give over 50% probability that it’ll turn out to be a “composite character”.

          (but I’m biased, including because I read the article immediately after reading your comment)

          • John Schilling says:

            I read the story before his comment, and had the same reaction. Having read something of the opsec measures the kidde-porn community has to take to avoid being trivially rolled up by the FBI, a group of actual white slavers operating as openly as that article described – advertising on public web sites with “everybody knows wink wink” codewords, would be out of business and behind bars in their first year. The pricing structure feels off, as well, but that’s less certain.

            Even the author’s personal story has inconsistencies that I’d like to see explained, like why a teenager groomed from birth to be a sex slave and sold into that position by her parents has her own car (or even knows how to drive one). Maybe I can cut her some slack on that; idiosyncracies happen and memory is fallible. But her description of the wider conspiracy, of which she can have at best limited firsthand knowledge, is not plausible.

          • alexp says:

            The author does describe significant opsec for when her mother was selling. Apparently there were long chats with plenty of codewords before anything happened. If she was 6, she probably wouldn’t be aware of all the measures taken.

          • alexp says:

            Also, regardless of how large a problem sex slavery and human trafficking is, the point of the link was the personal relations cutting through impersonal bureaucracy system that Charles Murray talked up completely failed this person. Even if you disbelieve this account, look at the sitiuation with the Duggars, where repeatedly sexual abuse of minors was brushed under the rug by the patriarch, aided and abetted by local officials and law enforcement.

          • John Schilling says:

            If the point is how the local bureaucracy lets abusive parents and abused children slip through the cracks, that’s maybe a story that should be told. But it should be told without the patently implausible story of a vast international white slaver conspiracy wrapped around it. And yes, it is implausible. Conducting your slave trading on a public website in pig latin, which the author claims to have done herself when she was on the far side of sixteen, not six, is not the opsec that keeps the FBI from rolling up your network.

            I mean, “UVA Jackie” may well have been done wrong in some way by a Phi Kappa Psi upperclassman. Throwing in the seven gang-raping pledges with the beer bottle and the broken glass, didn’t help her case. “Anonymous Sex Slave”, was very likely horribly abused by her parents and their friends, let down by the local authorities, and left feeling she had no choice but to become a prostitute. And as with Jackie, I don’t care any more, because I don’t know how much is real and how much she made up to pull my strings.

        • Cauê says:

          Hey, today’s article from the WaPo Fact Checker is about some of these bad human trafficking statistics (including links to previous articles on the topic).

          Highlights:

          So one government agency appears to cite two other government entities — but in the end the source of the data is the same discredited and out-of-date academic paper. It would be amusing if it were not so sad.

          (…)

          All too often, politicians, the media and government agencies have cited thinly sourced and dubious statistics when speaking about human trafficking, apparently because numbers such as “13” have shock value. But advocates hurt their cause when they cite numbers that are easily debunked.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2015/06/11/the-dubious-claim-that-on-average-girls-first-become-victims-of-sex-trafficking-at-13-years-old/

    • Sylocat says:

      Also, it was interesting that some of the dogs seemed as much distressed as frustrated at the second link about the floating hot dog.

      One commenter on the second video pointed out that the dogs were probably reacting to the humans’ bizarre body language rather than to the hot dog floating.

    • John Schilling says:

      Our host investigated this sort of thing with exceptional thoroughness a while back. TL,DR version: American cops, prosecutors, et al are for the most part not racists out to stick it to black folks. But boy, howdy, do they have it in for poor folks, who happen to be disproportionately black in most cities.

  36. veronica d says:

    I think I would give about anything to end up sitting across the train from Voevodsky and Awodey, although I doubt I’d have much to add to the conversation. But still, like a lot of people who started learning “computer science” (as such) before they began to learn proper mathematics, I’ve always found myself in the constructionist/computationalist camp. As I was slowly exposed to that thing called “set theory,” I was pretty nonplussed.

    But anyway, Turing machines are pretty cool, but they feel pretty ugly, as mathematical abstractions, and discovering type theory and the lambda stuff was a pretty big deal for me. This was pure computation, but beautiful. Anyway, “programs as proofs” was something that just kind of worked for me, mentally.

    I’d love to see these ideas spread and more people develop these skills, but it probably won’t happen. (Pending some transhumanist mental revolution. Not holding my breath.)

    #####

    On the Moldbug thing, good grief. This kind of shit does not help.

    Which, I don’t blame people for despising the man. He’s pretty horrible, which is to say his beliefs are horrible. But anyway, if I ran that conference, I think I’d talk to him, ask him, ”Hey, can you commit to keeping politics way, way, way out of your talk, like not mention the political context at all and just talk about your technology? Like, you can state your opinions on crypto and distributed computing and the value of provability and so on without having to state the political background? Will you promise to do that?”

    If he promised, I would tell the critics to stuff it and listen to his technical results.

    Or not. They can skip his talk. Or whatever.

    Anyway, if his technical ideas have merit, they have merit. If they do not, they do not. We can view them separately from his politics.

    That said, I suspect that his status as a truly terrible person will limit the adoption of his specific technology, just cuz social stuff. Which, fine. That’s life.

    Well, and also I suppose his technology won’t be adopted because it is ridiculously impractical (so far as I understand it). But so what? During his talk he might show some slide with some stupid diagram, or perhaps talk about some idea or result, that causes a listener to get a really, really great idea.

    You know, something practical. And something not associated with a hateful, toxic ideology.

    Anyway, I’m a “social justice warrior” (or whatever), but I ain’t afraid to listen to math.

    (That said, I wonder if this kerfuffle will get more people to look at his tech stuff, and then maybe someone who isn’t a terrible shit can take any worthwhile bits and work them up without association to Moldbug. That might be a good thing.)

    (Actually I suspect his technical ideas will turn out to be a giant tower of nothing much, a curious glimpse into a troubled mind. But still.)

    • Esquire says:

      I am very sad that SSC readers are OK with the idea of “terrible beliefs”. IE if I genuinely think X is a true statement… can that really have a bearing on whether I am a good person? Like… it’s not like I *made* X true or *want* it to be true… as a (aspiring to be) rational human, I assign probability to X in a way that is unrelated to those things.

      • Elissa says:

        There could be beliefs which tend very often to cause people to behave terribly. Even though you might adopt a belief in all good faith, if it tends to cause terribleness in people who believe it, your believing it is still evidence about what sort of person you are.

        If such a belief is also false, there isn’t really much to be said in its favor.

        • Esquire says:

          My usual view is that there is nothing to say about a belief except that it is true or false (or gets credence P). I guess you could posit that there are human cognitive bugs that make certain beliefs SO TOXIC that they must be avoided even when true because they lead to irrational destructive behavior. Like… we all know not to look in Pandora’s Box because (correct) knowledge of its contents drives anyone insane… and therefore we shun anyone who has looked. But… is that really what’s happening here?

          Seems to me much simpler and more likely that veronica believes Moldbug is a terrible person because she strongly disagrees with him. Which, you know, is pretty normal, but just sad to see here.

          EDIT: Realized Elissa and Veronica were different people and edited the above text.

          • Elissa says:

            I’d just like to point out that I am not the same person as Veronica and I am not taking any stance in this comment about the terribleness of Moldbug or his beliefs.

            Let me give an example of a belief I would consider terrible which, while extreme, doesn’t require any basilisk-type cognitive bugs. Suppose there’s a fellow I know who openly holds a strong belief that women are not sentient and cannot suffer. Suppose also that he is sincere and came by this belief honestly.

            This is terrible. I can’t trust this guy, because his belief means that he has no reason beyond self-interest not to hurt me. I don’t want to be around him, because I know he will give no weight to anything I say, which is inherently disrespectful. No matter how many times he promises to treat me as if I were a person, I am just not confident enough that he will– how surprised would you be to find out that this fellow had raped a woman when he thought he could get away with it?

            I am also as sure as I can be of anything that he is wrong, because I am a woman and I know myself to be sentient and capable of suffering. I have no reason to want this belief around. It is bad and I want it to go away.

          • Esquire says:

            Elissa – thanks, I think this is a pretty fair response. BTW I did eventually notice that you were not Veronica (and edited the text before I saw your comment), but too late.

            I can imagine a lot of situations where I have a hard time convincing somebody of something I have good reasons to believe, and as a result tend to avoid them or otherwise treat them differently due to anticipating their incorrect beliefs. (I am still not sure it is fair to say the person is “terrible”.) Knowledge of your own sentience is a great example of something that’s easy to know but hard to prove.

            But… I think this is similar to my basilisk example, in that it is theoretically possible, but probably not what is happening. Moldbug’s writing doesn’t seem to be about the kind of epistemologically complex ideas that make this kind of thing possible, and if this is really what Veronica was thinking I imagine she would have used pretty different phrasing.

            Also… can you think of an example of a *TRUE* belief that would cause similar problems? If women were indeed not sentient than your example would fail.

          • Jos says:

            Esquire, if I had to think of true beliefs that were nevertheless net harmful, I guess I’d go for ones that would cause unjust action. I’ll think about it.

          • Elissa says:

            Right now I can’t think of any non-controversial examples of true beliefs which would cause the same kind of problem, but in this case the beliefs veronica is calling “horrible” are (I presume) ones she disagrees with, so the question doesn’t seem directly relevant.

            My intent was only to establish that some beliefs constitute evidence that the people who hold them are “bad”, in the sense of “untrustworthy and to be avoided”. If you agree with that, I think we’re pretty much done here, since I can’t pretend to speak for veronica (although I wouldn’t be surprised if she did mean something like this by “horrible” beliefs).

            Thanks for your civility toward me.

          • Esquire says:

            I guess I’m interested in an example of a true belief because if true beliefs are immune from horribleness than I am OK to continue trying really hard to believe X IFF X is true, and not worry about being horrible as a result.

          • Jos says:

            Ok, here are some examples. All of them depend on someone applying the information illogically, so you personally can probably “handle the truth” in all cases.

            1) Let’s say you sincerely want to maintain a healthy weight and are able to do so because of superstition (you swore to God that if you weigh more than 5 pounds over your goal at the end of a month, God should punish you, and the belief is helping you maintain your goal). Under those circumstances, you might not want to know that God won’t actually punish you for violations.

            2) Similarly, you are getting actual relief from chonic pain due to the placebo effect as a result of acupuncture, and there is no equivalent relief available from anything real. I would have to be an a-hole to convince you that acupuncture is a scam.

            3) You are a landlord, and if you knew that men are 3 times as likely to hold damaging parties and not pay for the damages, you would be unavoidably unable to refrain from discriminating against men on the margins. As a result of your ethical values, you would think this discrimination wrong. As a result, you try your best not to be convinced of any disparity.

          • eh says:

            Let’s substitute harmful for horrible, since harmfulness seems to be less politicised than horribleness. Nick Bostrom does a much better job of addressing this (http://www.nickbostrom.com/information-hazards.pdf), but a good example would be murder.

            Assume that murder is harmful, and that likelihood of committing murder increases as the risk of getting caught decreases. If there’s a false but widespread belief that >90% of American murder cases are solved, then the true belief that only ~60% of American murder cases are solved would be harmful if it became widespread. When paired with literature that takes a neutral or positive stance to the murder question, the writer themselves could be considered harmful.

            What assumptions and values are Moldbug’s detractors bringing to the table? We can’t tell if Moldbug’s beliefs are harmful without establishing the ground rules for harm. If, for example, the belief “genes which raise and lower IQ are sometimes linked to ethnicity” (i.e. torsion dystonia in Ashkenazim) is assumed to be inherently harmful, then both he and the majority of biologists have harmful beliefs.

          • Matt M says:

            eh – Good example.

            And would people be insisting that someone who has studied the research and found out that the true rate is 60% make some sort of personal effort to change their beliefs to believe that it’s 90%? Because that’s better for society, even if it isn’t true? Could they do that, even if they wanted to?

            I can maybe see an argument of “If your beliefs are potentially harmful, you owe it to society to not promote them publicly,” but saying “If you hold harmful beliefs, that makes you a horrible person, even if the beliefs are factually correct” seems like a whole different animal…

          • Ever An Anon says:

            The thing is, the people most likely to commit murder are those with a long pattern of antisocial behavior and poor impulse control: i.e. people who know from personal experience how the sausage is made, and who are not particularly good at following incentives anyway.

            The false belief could easily end up as more of a tax on potential victims, who overestimate their own safety and underestimate the gains of better policing.

            I’m not trying to fight the hypothetical for its own sake, but instead to point out that we can’t infallibly predict how any given lie will work out long-term. Choosing to deliberately lie should be something done in extremis, like an axe murderer at the door, not as a casual ‘social engineering’ practice.

        • Matt M says:

          “Even though you might adopt a belief in all good faith, if it tends to cause terribleness in people who believe it, your believing it is still evidence about what sort of person you are.”

          Not so sure about this one. Are you suggesting that people who legitimately believe things that might have unfortunate implications, or things that often have led to other people who believe those things doing terrible actions, should simply refuse to believe the things they believe?

          To what extent would that involve (or require) ignoring legitimate evidence because you don’t want it to be true.

          To put it another way – it almost sounds like you’re encouraging people to base their beliefs on what they think would yield the best outcomes rather than on what they observe to be true.

          • Elissa says:

            I’m kind of agnostic on whether trying really hard to believe whatever is actually true is the best strategy. I do it, but that’s mainly because my brain isn’t wired to do anything else.

            However, you can continue to use this strategy for choosing your beliefs without making it your only safeguard against horribleness. If you concede that wrong-and-harmful beliefs are bad in a way that wrong-but-harmless beliefs are not, you should probably 1) treat other people’s wrong-and-harmful beliefs differently than their wrong-but-harmless ones, and 2) treat your own harmful-if-wrong beliefs differently from your harmless-if-wrong ones. The first will protect you from other people’s horribleness, and the second from your own.

          • Matt M says:

            “If you concede that wrong-and-harmful beliefs are bad in a way that wrong-but-harmless beliefs are not”

            What relevance does this have towards beliefs that are truly held and that the person does not think are wrong?

          • Elissa says:

            Can you clarify your concern here? It seems flippant to say “It’s relevant because people who are wrong don’t know they’re wrong,” but I don’t know what you’re getting at if that doesn’t answer your question.

          • Matt M says:

            I think my concern is that you seemed to be implying that beliefs are choices, and that deeply held beliefs can simply be modified if we discover that the consequences of the belief are generally bad, without considering the accuracy of the belief one way or another.

            It almost gets back to the whole growth hypothesis argument. If believing in X produces better outcomes *even if X isn’t true* then it is perfectly logical to say that people should believe in X.

            Maybe your brain works that way, but mine doesn’t. As odd as it sounds, as I get older, I become more and more convinced that I didn’t *choose* to be a libertarian, and that there is literally nothing that could convince me to be anything else. And it’s not that I’m closed-minded or unwilling to hear alternative viewpoints, I’m just absolutely convinced that my beliefs encompass a certain set of moral truths.

            So even if you could conclusively prove to me that believing in socialism increases the wealth and happiness and life span, not just of the individual believing in it, but of everyone in the world, I still don’t think I could do it. I could try my best to fake it but I’m not convinced it would ever stick.

          • Elissa says:

            Ok, this is frustrating, because I specifically said that you don’t have to stop believing whatever seems most likely to be true for all this to apply. It really seems like your entire last reply is talking past me.

            Guy-who-thinks-women-aren’t-sentient can and maybe should go on believing what he believes until he sees evidence that convinces him otherwise. Doesn’t change the fact that, under my point 1), I want to keep away from him and his wrong-and-harmful beliefs. Are you saying I’m obligated to hang out with him just because he’s perfectly sincere in thinking I’m not a person?

            Under my point 2), he should definitely refrain from raping women, on the off chance he might be wrong, because even though he thinks it’s correct, he can still see that this is a harmful-if-wrong belief. He might also do well do look extra hard for evidence he is mistaken, and try extra hard to avoid identifying with this particular belief.

          • Matt M says:

            You’re obviously free to associate with whoever you want. I just have a small problem with the “he’s horrible because he won’t change his beliefs” is a bit unfair, particularly if there is some legitimate dispute regarding the factual basis for said beliefs.

            Arguing that his beliefs can lead to harm (such as rape) is nice in theory, and you’re right that maybe he should hedge his bets and not rape people because IF he is wrong, that’s a huge harm and provides (relatively) little benefit to himself.

            But let’s say he doesn’t rape people. I think the odds of getting him to change his beliefs (even assuming it’s possible at all) are pretty low if your approach is to tell him “Someone might listen to you and use your beliefs as justification for rape,” while not arguing the factual validity of the beliefs at all.

          • Elissa says:

            I’m not arguing with him for heaven’s sake. I’m avoiding him. I don’t like being around people who don’t think I’m a person, as perhaps you can imagine. I never said he was necessarily a horrible person; I just don’t feel safe that he isn’t. I am completely comfortable saying that his belief is horrible and the world would be better without it.

            Do you actually object to any of this? Or do you just resent the fact that honest mistakes can cause a person to do horrible things, such that others are right to avoid them? Because that one’s on the universe, not me.

          • darxan says:

            @Elissa
            Your contention that Alawites should be shunned until they renounce their religion is very problematic.The only reason I’m not calling it bigoted is that I found out “bigot” is an anti-Norman slur.

          • Bryan Hann says:

            The beliefs of people who believe “vaccinations are bad” perhaps lead people to behave in bad ways. But do we consider them to be bad people? I hope not.

      • Nicholas says:

        While I can’t say there’s an explicit chain of reason behind it, I imagine that many people who discuss “terrible beliefs” don’t actually think there are real beliefs, just beliefs in belief with terrible motivations. (i.e. it is obvious that atheists believe in Jesus in the sense that they believe the sky is blue, they just don’t believe in believing in him because otherwise they couldn’t cause school shootings*.)
        *-True story, the Baptist megachurch in my town has an awful pastor.

    • Adam says:

      People pillory that conference organizers too much for this. They’re not in the business of being heroes for free expression and don’t need their event to turn into a WTO protest. They found out the guy is toxic and they were going to catch hell if they let him speak, and catch hell from a much smaller group that no one cares about if they didn’t let him speak, so they didn’t let him speak.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        I don’t think people are blaming the organizers, or I hope they aren’t. We don’t blame people for making rational choices we don’t like, we blame the incentives for those rational choices.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Blaming the organizers is the easiest way to change the incentives.

          • Matt M says:

            Right. Not that it’s morally justified, but it’s easier to convince conference organizers that free-speech advocates can be just as annoying as communists than it is to convince the communists to be less annoying.

      • John Schilling says:

        Two much smaller groups: neoreactionaries, and strong believers in freedom of expression.

        As a member of the latter group, I am disturbed to hear that we are small and nobody cares, but I have to acknowledge that it may be an accurate assessment.

        Next question: For members of a small group that nobody cares about but who aren’t ready to crawl into a hole and die just yet, what might be some good strategies for ensuring that people do care in cases like this?

        • ddreytes says:

          You can’t, there’s nothing we can do, it’s doomed.

          Slightly more serious answer: I think that it’s very difficult, because at the end of the day, the tribalism is very entrenched, and the tribal arguments are just almost inherently more appealing to people than the arguments about freedom of expression. And it’s also difficult because it can be kind of a tricky, complex argument to make sometimes – especially when you’re dealing with the actions of private individuals or organizations, and with social pressure on expression.

          I’m honestly not sure what the best course of action is, except to try to shift people out of the tribal mindsets, and to do the intellectual work to ensure that we have a pretty good account of precisely what freedom of expression means especially outside the context of governmental repression.

          • Cauê says:

            It’s not so much about what freedom of expression means as it’s about whether we want to have it.

            (and as one of the “strong believers in freedom of expression”, I can tell you that fights about it feel tribal to me, even when the one whose expression is being attacked is not of my tribe)

          • ddreytes says:

            @Cauê:

            That’s fair, and it’s very possible that my particular perspective is distorting my views here. So let me expand on what I mean.

            First, I think it is both an argument about what freedom of expression means and and argument about whether we want to have it. I think there are people – I don’t know how many – who on some level agree in principle with the idea of free expression being important, but who don’t recognize it as a problem outside of government – this is, I guess, what Scott has called the ‘spirit of the first amendment’ question. And I think there really are a lot of complexities there. So I think both things are necessary – that freedom of speech is important, and that defining what freedom of speech means in a social context is important.

            Regarding tribalness, this is very likely where my personal perspective comes from, because most of my conversations on this topic involve me trying to convince fellow blue-tribe members that expressing red-tribe views does not, in fact, make a person evil. That said, my sense is very much that tribalness plays a strong role here – the dialectic that I usually see is that there’s a conflict between allowing the expression of views on the one hand, and on the other hand the unacceptability of those views and the importance of maintaining a boundary between what is and is not approved of.

            So I guess that’s, basically, what I mean to say here. I hope that’s a little more clear; I apologize if it isn’t.

        • Wrong Species says:

          I’m libertarian minded and I’m not outraged. Conferences should be allowed to ban whoever they want for any reason.

          • Jiro says:

            Libertarianism doesn’t require that you not be outraged, only that you want the conference to be legally permitted to do this. You can permit it legally and be outraged at the same time.

        • Adam says:

          Honestly, I have no idea, but putting conference organizers in a position where they’re fucked if they do, fucked if they don’t probably doesn’t improve anything. Personally, I feel like I can wear two hats and see it differently depending on which. As a free expression advocate, I fully support the damn Ayatollah Khomeini presenting at Tel Aviv University if he develops some awesome technique relevant to the conference subject, but as a university rep, I can understand why they wouldn’t want that.

          • John Schilling says:

            In 1940, Norway was fucked if it sided with the Allies (because it would have been invaded by the Axis), and fucked if it sided with the Axis (because vice versa, though the Allies would have started with “just” a blockade). And, really, fucked if it tried to remain neutral, because that actually lead to the Axis invasion force landing while the Allied invasion force was still boarding its transports.

            There’s an alternate history where Churchill reasons, “putting the Norwegians in a position where they’re fucked if they do, fucked if they don’t probably doesn’t improve anything”, and with compassionate understanding tells them to go ahead and side with the Axis if that’s the only way they can have some peace. Does that alternate history work out better for anyone? Even the Norwegians?

          • Bryan Hann says:

            John,

            Yes, but war is being fucked *in extremis*. We have before us here a real life situation of someone being disinvited to a conference. That is worth talking about. We also have before us here a discussion about ethics — about what is good. That is a good discussion to have.

            Some of us are *also* trying to discuss what we would do *in extremis*. Such a discussion can be interesting. But while hard cases make good intuition pumps, they make bad law.

            There seems to me to be a line beyond which we are, as it were, at war, with the civil rules understandably going out the window. And it seems to me that many are tempted to draw that line far too early.

          • John Schilling says:

            Yes, but we also have people saying here that the line has already been crossed, that we are at war, and that their side’s desired end state is for Yarvin to be alone in a room, ostracized from civil society, and stripped of all wealth beyond mere subsistence.

            What I’d like to see, what I’ve asked for repeatedly, is a defensible line between “Yarvin can’t speak at Strange Loop”, and that extreme end state. He’s been disinvited from one conference – by a dynamic that seems likely to apply at any other tech conference he might speak at, any job he might apply for, and I expect any product he might try to sell will face the same sort of boycott threat that Mozilla faced when Eich was CEO.

            That’s an extremely fucked-up situation. We need a defensible cease-fire line, and none is being offered. If Yarvin comes out of this OK only because his enemies are presently too weak to be 100% successful at denying him professional opportunities, that means we win this battle – it doesn’t mean there isn’t a war.

            So it’s not premature to talk about who might be on what side of that war.

          • Adam says:

            Frankly, I get a little tired of the war rhetoric. I just got out of the Army four months ago. I watched one of my gunners shoot an eight-year old kid in the face. The XO’s gunner took a direct mortar hit while he was asleep in his CHU and we spent the next day cleaning guts off his shit so we could send it back to his family. There are worse things happening in the world than people getting laughed at on the Internet and banned from video game forums, or Donald Sterling, who still owns half the City of Los Angeles, not getting to own the Clippers any more.

            For what it’s worth, no, the conference organizers were obviously not that fucked. Nothing they could have done, including what they did, was going to result in a country getting invaded, and it doesn’t seem very useful to me to compare their situation to an alternate history where Norway sided with the Nazis.

    • Randy M says:

      “Which, I don’t blame people for despising the man. He’s pretty horrible, which is to say his beliefs are horrible.”

      But the former didn’t always mean the latter.
      I could grant you so much as “x is horrible because his recommendations (to actions) are horrible.” But merely beliefs? We seem to have slingshot-ed away from “virtue ethics”, bounced around abit, and ended up at “badthink ethics.”

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Well, frequently beliefs both came from and lead unerringly to actions.

        If I believe that people who eat the meat of turkeys are unclean and untouchable whose touch may damn me to eternal fire, that is going to lead to actions on my part. And it won’t be the kind of action that is limited to me not eating turkey. It will be the kind of action where I want certain things to happen to people who do eat turkey. I will want to be protected from them. I will want the right to treat them as a danger to me (because I believe they are).

        Strong beliefs are rarely action neutral.

        • Randy M says:

          Beliefs may well lead to actions, and I am in favor of generally taking someone at their word. But I don’t think it is fair to be able to either ascibe very much predictive power to expresed beliefes, nor to ascribe moral worth to a person based on it, for at least two reasons.
          One (and I realize how silly it is to say this about someone who writes voluminously, but then again, also opaguely) language can be an imperfect expcommunication tool. He doesn’t believe in equality may mean he sees inferior people as beneath consideration, or it could mean he sees himself with an obligation to help those genetically less fortunate. The best way to figure it out is to observe actual behavior, because (short of magic pills) we can’t read minds or predict the future. Second, I think actins speak louder than thoughts because one might have mixed, conflicting views or simply be confused about what one thinks. One might say, when asked, that everyone is perfectly equally lovely, but find themselves avoiding particular sorts. The behavior is what earns them the approval or approbation.

    • “He’s pretty horrible, which is to say his beliefs are horrible.”

      “That said, I suspect that his status as a truly terrible person”

      Which is it?

      One of my colleagues is, I think, responsible for a greater reduction in the utility of the world, more human unhappiness, than anyone else I know, judged by her description of her role in legal changes that she thought good and I think bad. She not only holds bad beliefs, she has to some degree implemented them.

      But that doesn’t make her a terrible person, and she isn’t.

      • Matt C says:

        Are there any terrible people? What qualifies one?

        • Samuel Skinner says:

          You have to think

          Intelligence is measurable
          The current tests work
          African Americans and black sub Saharan Africans score worse

          It isn’t necessary to think the last factor is caused by genetic (although it obviously doesn’t help).

          • Wrong Species says:

            You can still get away with believing all of those things as long as you qualify it with some belief that discrimination is the problem. Flynn still seems to be respected. It might depend on the audience though. If it’s the writers of Jacobin Magazine, believing the first thing if probably enough to make you evil.

          • Adam says:

            You can think the current weight of evidence seems to suggest all that and it might be true, and still not take the further is-ought leap that then we should exclude black people from leadership roles, it’s perfectly rational and okay for police to preferentially beat the shit out of them, women need to get the fuck back in the kitchen, slavery and colonialism weren’t all that bad, and we need to get back to white monarchy if we want a better world. I really don’t see what’s hard about this distinction. It’s the political stances that are terrible. Darwin and Mengele both believed survival of the fittest was a real thing in nature. What it led them to do with their lives is what makes them different.

          • Matt C says:

            You know, I was actually interested in what David might have said there.

            I was certainly not interested in having you drop in and spam your talking point on the flimsiest pretext of responding to what I was asking.

            Everyone on SSC has been heard what you are saying over and over. It has probably been said a dozen times or more in this very thread. At this point it is not new or novel or interesting. It is not challenging or eye opening, it is not amusing or clever. It is just goddamn noise. Which then reverberates.

            Please think a little bit next time and either say something of substance or emit the talking points somewhere else.

          • nydwracu says:

            You can think the current weight of evidence seems to suggest all that and it might be true, and still not take the further is-ought leap that then we should exclude black people from leadership roles, it’s perfectly rational and okay for police to preferentially beat the shit out of them, women need to get the fuck back in the kitchen, slavery and colonialism weren’t all that bad, and we need to get back to white monarchy if we want a better world.

            Moldbug says nothing about “white monarchy” other than that he thinks it’s stupid for people to care about the race of people in government — he thinks it’s stupid for people to care about any property of the government or the people in it other than its/their ability to provide good governance. He’s clear about this. So why are you attributing this “white monarchy” position to him?

          • Adam says:

            I was about to apologize and say I’ve never read Moldbug and don’t mean to attribute those things to him, but then I re-read my comment and I didn’t attribute those things to him. I just said they’re what makes the difference between scientific race realists and legitimately terrible people. Whether or not this particular person is terrible I don’t know and don’t really care.

            To Matt, I actually am sorry to ruin your thread, but that was intended to be a response to Samuel Skinner, not you.

          • Matt C says:

            Samuel and Adam–

            I regret the peevish tone. It was already a noisy and bickering thread when I came here, I shouldn’t expect too much or get overly annoyed when it is my foot that happens to get stepped on.

        • “Are there any terrible people? What qualifies one?”

          I think there are. I think what qualify someone are not factual beliefs but values, objectives. Someone who wants other people to be unhappy out of malice is, in that respect, a terrible person. Someone who wants other people to be happy, healthy, and wise, and believes the way to achieve that objective is to set up a communist totalitarian system may be dangerous, but not necessarily terrible.

          • Matt C says:

            That’s unusual, since it probably exempts some of the historical mass murderers from being terrible people. I imagine you’re OK with that.

            Is acquiring wrong ideas so much different from acquiring wrong values? There are a lot of people out there who enjoy being vicious or cruel, but at least with adults I think most of them believe it is justified in some way or another. It’s needed to advance a more important goal, or they are “hitting back first”.

            One terrible person I know (by your definition) comes to mind. He’s done a lot of bad stuff. But it’s obvious that he is very, very angry all of the time and I think also very unhappy. I don’t think he thinks of himself as sadistic or vicious, even though he is.

            If I enjoy belittling my subordinates, but I don’t admit this to myself, and I really do think I am improving the company with my nastiness, does it still count as malice?

          • On historical mass murderers, I would say it does depend on their motives. To take an extreme and implausible case, someone who puts poison in a city’s water supply in the false belief that it’s the antidote to the poison he thinks someone else put in is not evil.

            For real mass murderers it’s harder. I suspect that some of Mao’s motives were, by my standards, evil, but it’s hard to be certain. Stalin and Hitler are probably clearer cases, even though they killed fewer people.

            If part of the reason you enjoy belittling your subordinates is malice, then to that extent you are wicked. If you would really rather treat them nicely but honestly believe that saying hurtful things to them is a necessary means to keep the company, and their livelihood, going, then no.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fun fact: The more you understand math, the worse social justice looks. Not for any moral or ethical reasons, simply because the justifications made by its proponents are largely antithetical to the Enlightenment values upon which the modern incarnations of mathematics were built. In the mid-1800’s mathematics was a demonstrably useful tool in the natural sciences and engineering, but in many ways it was philosophically a mess. Bolzano was one of the first “purists” insisting upon rigorous definitions divorced from physical reality, making him a critical intellectual seed-planter for the Coq program in the link.

      One layer into reality is the physical sciences, which seek to find congruence between the raw ideas of math to approximately predict observable phenomena. With one foot on each side of the line, mathematical physics, which seeks to derive connections between and general insight into the mathematical techniques demonstrating physical predictive utility. Essentially, by driving mathematics into the realm of pure ideas, Bolzano and subsequent thinkers forced the language of science into a realm as objective as any intellectual product of the toils of subjective beings could achieve—which is why there’s a significant contingent of researchers who scoff at mathematical physics: they see it bending the rules to try and make things fit, and it doesn’t help that much of the results therein cannot be verified experimentally.

      Way the fuck in the stratosphere, far away from reality, is the postmodern epistemological clusterfuck that is critical theory. Unabashedly draped in social activism, its proponents are concerned primarily with inducing social or political consequences, and often seem convinced that every other field of scholarship have similar priorities. Thus they assert “objectivity” as a justification, not a goal in itself, and feel no compunction mixing and matching hard evidence, fabricated evidence, nonexistent evidence, and outright falsehoods in service of their greater goals. Selectively swelling and dismissing the value of a line of reasoning based upon the author’s relationship to the subject at hand abandons the storied epistemological tradition viewing humanity as one small part of larger whole. They assert “reification” of an idea contingent upon the existence and interpretation of the associated linguistic expression, recklessly reversing the causal arrow and taking a gigantic shit all over the wondrous insight of Bolzanno that underpins this fascinating piece of software.

      Respect the Coq. Fuck SJ.

  37. Jiro says:

    Some opponents of open borders argue that a lot of Third World countries (eg Afghanistan, Somalia) are kind of terrible, and worry that if we import many of their citizens here, then they might bring whatever factors made their country terrible to the First World and make our countries terrible. The open borders movement presents the start of a counterargument.

    No, it doesn’t. What it argues against is the idea that it’s terrible for the imported workers, and for the world, not the idea that it’s terrible for the countries they immigrate to. I don’t care that immigration is good for the immigrants or for the world average, for the same reason that I don’t care that letting homeless people into my living room is good for the homeless people, and gives them more utility than I lose (thus increasing the average for the world as well).

    • Adam says:

      Some people do care, though. My house is a bit too inside of personal space, but if I can make the entire world better off at a cost to my country, I’m more than willing to do that. Someday, I might even want to move, and it’d be nice if wherever I moved to also let me in.

      • Jiro says:

        The point is that Scott improperly characterized it (and in such a way that it looks good for more people than the correct characterization does).

    • BD Sixsmith says:

      Few, if any, things are more dangerous than the overconfidence that fills the gap left by respect for tradition. In a flash the world is one’s own to be ordered as one wishes. These people would tear a nation into charter cities and gated communities like I would tear a pizza into pieces.

  38. Derelict says:

    “Contraband” was somewhat suggestive – I thought somebody was putting out ads for drugs when really it’s just genuine Italian meat that the Russians have no business banning in the first place.

    • DanielLC says:

      Some would say that the US has no business banning drugs.

      Although considering how badly that ad thing failed, I suspect the police don’t care much.

  39. John Schilling says:

    OK, I’ve read the “Open Borders” link, and I’m not seeing how it even begins to argue against the “killing the goose that lays the golden eggs”, aka Somali-immigrants-will-turn-the-US-into-Somalia, hypothesis.

    Mostly, it evangelizes the author’s amazingly profound discovery that talented people achieve more in groups than in isolation, and the obvious first-order consequences of this – which he extrapolates well beyond the bounds where most of us are wondering about second-order effects.

    More specifically, it focuses on the “hive mind” hypothesis that the author explicitly acknowledges may result in a substantial reduction in global productivity as the institutions of first-world nations are “much degraded relative to the pre-open borders rich world”. The author then claims that this is OK because the standard of living of poor unskilled laborers worldwide will rise to ~15% of the US level, which he claims is literally an order of magnitude higher than where they are now. And notes that he doesn’t believe the “hive mind” hypothesis that is the focus of this essay anyhow, but is presenting a worst-case scenario for the sake of argument.

    Possibly he’s got an argument against the “killing the goose” hypothesis elsewhere, but I’m not seeing anything here beyond the fact that the goose’s corpse will feed some poor starving Africans for a while.

    Problems I do have with his argument in this essay:

    1. The claim that the goose’s corpse will raise the standard of living of the global poor by an order of magnitude, to 15% of current US levels, is unsupported in the essay and seems implausible. Just for starters, are we really agreeing that the current standard of living of the average unskilled worker is only 1.5% of the current US average?

    2. Destroying the engine of prosperity of the US and Western Europe, for the sake of the Third-World poor, is a political non-starter. This argument cannot possibly hope to persuade anyone other than the tiny handful of pure consequentialists that make up, what, maybe 5% of the US electorate? To make this argument, is pure posturing.

    3. The step from “smart/talented people work best in groups” to “if we stop putting borders between group formation, world GDP drops 25%”, needs to be explored a bit
    more. I get that this is the goose-killing hypothesis that the author rejects, but if he’s taking a devil’s-advocate role in that respect he needs to actually advocate for the devil.

    4. The author’s preferred solution seems to be semi-permeable borders and incentive pumps to concentrate all the world’s smart and talented people in a few “gated communities”, while most of the unskilled laborers and other stupids go Somewhere Else. Sounds like I’ve heard that one before. The part where it leads to an order-of-magnitude increase in the standard of living for the stupids, that I haven’t heard before, and I really need an explanation of how that’s supposed to work.

    • Aaron Brown says:

      concentrate all the world’s smart and talented people in a few “gated communities”, while most of the unskilled laborers and other stupids go Somewhere Else.

      He is not recommending this proposal, he is saying that if “[c]ritics of open borders from a hive mind angle” wish to be consistent, they should recommend it.

  40. Vaniver says:

    Some opponents of open borders argue that a lot of Third World countries (eg Afghanistan, Somalia) are kind of terrible, and worry that if we import many of their citizens here, then they might bring whatever factors made their country terrible to the First World and make our countries terrible. The open borders movement presents the start of a counterargument.

    What? That’s not at all the start of a counterargument. It’s an argument that Nigerian doctors will be more productive in America than they will in Nigeria (yes, obviously). But I don’t see closed borders advocates most worried that Nigerian doctors will drop the quality of American medicine; I see them most worried that Chechens will ritually murder our Jews and blow up our marathons.

  41. Emily says:

    Another There Is A Subreddit announcement: There is a subreddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/

    (Scott: If these are annoying, or if you don’t want there to be a subreddit, please let me know and I will stop posting these/stop trying to make there be a subreddit.)

  42. Mary says:

    My favorite such title is “Three Sentenced on Counterfeit Charges.”

  43. merzbot says:

    Okay, but Moldbug is a far-right, literal fucking white supremacist. This isn’t some anti-gay marriage Republican we’re talking about. Personally I’m okay with blackballing the scum of the earth from conferences. I prefer to live in a world where that happens, actually.

    • Alraune says:

      It is a fact that the neo-feudalists are in no danger of taking over the country. It is a fact that the neo-feudalists are not even in danger of being in danger of being in danger of taking over the country. The only way Moldbug’s ideology could ever end up being harmful to you would be that, if the rest of us somehow manage to burn civilization down around our own ears, he might get to laugh at us briefly before we are all eaten by the irradiated super-wolves.

      So allow me to present an alternative explanation: you are sadistic, fascistic scum who will torment anyone they are permitted to on the flimsiest of excuses, even and especially if they are harmless, and the rest of us should hang you by your ankles before you try and do the same to us.

      • Emily says:

        If you wait for the point where it’s clear that a group is in danger of taking over your country, you’re way past the point where you’re going to be able to ban people from that group from conferences. At that point, they are banning you from conferences. Better to get on that early.

        • Alraune says:

          We’ve got a lot of witch-hunter-burning ground to make up, yes.

          • Emily says:

            By taking seriously groups that tell us they are opposed to liberal democracy (and engaging in some freedom of association against them), perhaps we can prevent the future *actual* burning of ideological minorities.
            Alternatively, we could *not* take them seriously when they tell us about their values. We could say “it’s totally cool with us that you oppose how we live and govern ourselves, and we will make sure there are no consequences for this.”

          • Alraune says:

            By taking seriously groups that tell us they are opposed to liberal democracy…

            The last time we tried that, the TSA stopped zero terror plots, but destroyed several American lives in wasted time, made life suck harder for minorities, and stole my toothpaste. And that’s just the domestic side, completely ignoring the part where we wasted billions of dollars, destroyed several countries, and gave the entire citizenry of two others PTSD.

            This isn’t an issue you can have both ways. Either ideological freedom is a stable social equilibrium or it isn’t. If freedom is a stable equilibrium, there isn’t any excuse for ideological repression and sentiments like merzbot’s are just pathetic hypocritical sadism. If, on the other hand, ideological freedom is unstable, then we might as well write this whole mess off and start disentangling ourselves into nice ideologically segregated provinces that can hopefully secede from each other peacefully and with decent trade agreements.

          • Matt C says:

            Emily, I think what you say is a defensible position. But also I think it fits McCarthyism quite neatly. Do you think Joe McCarthy was right, or at least not wrong?

          • John Schilling says:

            McCarthy was factually incorrect. In the alternate history where he came ten years early and with a list of actual Nazi agents and their dupes, in positions of power and influence, is there any doubt that he is the hero of the hour?

            So, yes, if you are dealing with people who both intend and have the credible means to wage war against you, the rules are different. Where to draw that line, when the enemy hasn’t been polite enough to declare war on you and you consider it impolitic to unleash the full range of war powers and just want to get rid of the infiltrators, is a tricky question. But unleashing war powers, even culture-war powers, is a Really Big Deal, and ought not be done without dire necessity.

          • Emily says:

            @Matt:
            I think John’s response was a good one.
            I’m still trying to figure out my beliefs on this. But I don’t think “that person isn’t a threat” is a good argument. First, because any group that becomes a threat at some point wasn’t. Second, because it suggests to me that we’re supposed to treat people with very serious critiques of how we live as if they’re just playing at it. I don’t think that’s even respectful of them. If the neo-reactionaries are just doing this as a hobby to meet people and gain status and don’t actually mean anything of it, they should, IDK, get into chess or WoW or something. And if they do mean it – well, people are going to notice and treat them differently as a result, and I don’t always have a problem with that.

          • Matt M says:

            “McCarthy was factually incorrect.”

            Was he now? He may have been wrong about some specific individuals, but the general assertion that the USSR had implanted spies and sympathizers at the highest levels of government, media, education, etc. was absolutely correct.

          • John Schilling says:

            If I squint and tilt my head just right, I can find a handful of communist agents at the third-highest levels of government, all of whom were gone by the time McCarthy got started. He was wrong about the level of communist infiltration, about the magnitude of communist infiltration, about the location of communist infiltration, and about the identity of the communist infiltrators, all of which he had specifically claimed to have certain knowledge of. And he was a fool for not checking his facts before going forward.

            If McCarthyism was justified on account of communist spies not being entirely fictional, then Stalinism was justified on account of corrupt and oppressive capitalists not being entirely fictional.

          • multiheaded says:

            McCarthy’s biggest failure, one that neoreactionaries do mention in a somewhat confused way, was his utter lack of distinction between “Western radical-leftist-sympathizer who also did not openly denounce the USSR” (many, many educated people) and “Actually a Kremlin patsy” (limited in their influence).

            I dare say that, looking at China, even if a quiet socialist takeover of the sort Reactionaries imagine (and imagined at the time) actually happened in the US, handing everything over to Moscow was the one thing the radicals certainly *wouldn’t* have done. Overfitting the domestic political realities to the Cold War framing kept the American right (and center) quite confused throughout the 50s and 60s. Even LBJ, struggling to understand what’s going on, kept attributing things like black riots to a literal Moscow plot.

          • Matt M says:

            Except that we do have evidence that Moscow literally did encourage sympathetic journalists to try and encourage race riots and other such things.

            Were those journalists the primary cause of race riots? Probably not. In any case, let’s be clear that I never said “McCarthyism” was justified. There’s a key difference between being factually correct and being justified. The ends don’t justify the means. That’s what’s SUPPOSED to separate us from the filthy commies in the first place!

          • Matt C says:

            Emily–

            McCarthy was certainly not wrong about communists intending to subvert the liberal democracy of the U.S. and replace it with a dictatorship of the proletariat. (Or do you disagree?)

            Your principle is that people who are openly antagonistic to liberal democracy deserve to be outed and ostracized, I think wherever possible. If I got that wrong, please clarify.

            This principle applies to a lot more people than just Curtis Yarvin and NRX, including communists, anarchists, Earth Firsters, at least some Muslims, probably some Christian factions, and you can continue the list for yourself.

            McCarthyism looks to me like a real life example of your principle, put into action against the communists. To say that McCarthy was wrong in the details isn’t really addressing the point. Let’s stipulate that he was wrong on the details. Was he wrong on principle?

            What about all the other folks today who are in fact opposed to liberal democracy, but not currently ostracized by the mainstream? Should they be?

          • Alraune says:

            I don’t think “that person isn’t a threat” is a good argument against preemptively attacking them.

            Then you have abandoned civilization, and we all need to start ostracizing you. You cannot have this both ways.

          • nydwracu says:

            By taking seriously groups that tell us they are opposed to liberal democracy (and engaging in some freedom of association against them), perhaps we can prevent the future *actual* burning of ideological minorities.
            Alternatively, we could *not* take them seriously when they tell us about their values. We could say “it’s totally cool with us that you oppose how we live and govern ourselves, and we will make sure there are no consequences for this.”

            I agree. People who talk about opposing how we live and govern ourselves, who talk about actively working to destroy our current system, who ‘joke’ about politically-motivated mass murders, etc. are a serious problem, and we have to suppress them before they become a danger. Steve Klabnik and Bahar Mustafa should be purged and made unemployable.

            Moldbug, on the other hand, explicitly and repeatedly says that no one should take any action whatsoever against the current regime, but instead should wait for it to fail.

            Hell, Klabnik and Mustafa and so on are more dangerous than a lot of white nationalists — there’s a very large difference between wanting a small piece of land for your tribe and wanting violent revolution and/or mass murder. But it’s a huge problem when a few WNs decide to try to take over a not-even-a-town in North Dakota with a population of twelve, whereas, when communists advocate for communist violence, it’s just, like, a joke, man, chill out.

          • Emily says:

            @nydwracu
            If you got the communists uninvited from this, I would definitely not have a problem with that. Calling for mass murder is not ok.

            I’m not sure about making people unemployable. I don’t want to make MM unemployable. But certainly, at a minimum, anything I wouldn’t object to being done to him, I also wouldn’t object to regarding the communists.

          • John Schilling says:

            As I ‘ve said elsewhere, I think the law’s overt-act standard for punishing criminal conspiracies is a wise one and ought to be adhered to even outside of legal contexts. The most vile of communists, actively planning the overthrow of Western civilization, ought to be allowed to speak. I won’t invite them to speak in my space, but I won’t demand anyone else exclude them, nor see them forced into poverty.

            Also, I want to be able to hear what they are saying to their minions, and I want them to have the sort of cushy jobs and lifestyles that give them very much something to lose if western civ goes down.

            Whether overt actions are more likely to come from neoreactionaries or communists, I leave as an exercise for the student.

        • Emily says:

          @Matt:

          My argument is this: if you are a vocal, committed opponent of liberal democracy, I do not think everyone else is obligated to ignore that when deciding things like who gets to immigrate, speak at conferences, come to dinner parties, etc. I think it’s a totally valid thing to take into account in these types of situations.

          That doesn’t mean in all circumstances we should ostracize them. In most, it would make us a less-good liberal democracy without much benefit. But we don’t ostracize en masse because we don’t want to be that kind of place, not because we owe them not-ostracism. Certainly, when someone is actually the leader of an anti-democratic ideological movement, I don’t see what grounds they have for objecting to this.

          I don’t know enough about McCarthyism to have a rewarding conversation with you about it. I think John’s comments have been good. I certainly don’t think that what I’m saying obligates to me endorse every example of people ostracizing opponents of liberal democracy. I do think that a blanket no-ostracizing-opponents-of-liberal-democracy view requires one to reject every possible example of it.

          Also, this is getting to be really clunky. Not to harp on it, but there’s a subreddit for exactly these sorts of conversations. Do you think we could continue it there? http://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/

          • ” if you are a vocal, committed opponent of liberal democracy, I do not think everyone else is obligated to ignore that when deciding things like who gets to immigrate, speak at conferences, come to dinner parties, etc. ”

            I agree. Since it’s a position held by some intelligent people and one that most of us get very little exposure to, one ought to favor such people in decisions such as who you invite to dinner or ask to speak at conferences. Immigration I’m not so sure of.

            I’m serious. Many years ago I was invited to a conference in Paris. Shortly before it occurred, a bunch of people pulled out because one of the people invited was, by their account, a fascist and anti-semite—I think actually part of Le Pen’s movement.

            My response was that that was a reason to go, since fascism had obviously been persuasive enough to get a lot of people to support it, I had never had a chance to talk with a fascist, and I would like to. The person in question responded to the protests by himself withdrawing from the conference, but I was able to arrange to have dinner with him. It was quite interesting.

            He wasn’t exactly a fascist or anti-semite, since he was also anti-Christian. He was someone who saw pagan classical antiquity as the high point, and everything since as a decline from it. Also someone who imagined the U.S. as wall to wall McDonalds with no intervening culture. I enjoyed telling him about the SCA.

          • Matt C says:

            I understood you to say we should ostracize Yarvin because he was a committed opponent of liberal democracy (and therefore dangerous).

            I think this is a difficult principle to apply consistently. It was worth poking at the implications.

            If you are only saying that people should be allowed to take note of a person’s politics when they interact with them, well, sure they should.

            I didn’t move to Reddit because I think the discussion is probably done at this point. If you’ve got more to say about this you could start a thread there and I’ll see it.

      • undefined in this scope says:

        A person or group doesn’t need to “take over the country” to be harmful, if Moldbug’s writing manages to convince a few hiring managers to quietly stop considering inferior races/sexes for positions he’s done at least as much economic harm to others as getting banned from a conference has done to him.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Of course, maybe _your_ arguments end up convincing a few hiring managers that it’s a good idea to quietly stop considering people who privately hold eccentric but harmless political viewpoints for positions. In that case, given the damage you might do, perhaps you’re the one who should be banned from the conference…

          This weapon doesn’t care what direction it points. Sure you’re comfortable with handing it out to everyone?

          • undefined in this scope says:

            Comfortable? No, I find twitter shaming storms that destroy peoples lives to be quite scary because I am on the wrong side of many of those arguments.

            But I don’t see a plausible path to verbal disarmament. The status quo isn’t all that great either and a not having these battles means conceding to keep it.

        • ” if Moldbug’s writing manages to convince a few hiring managers to quietly stop considering inferior races/sexes for positions he’s done at least as much economic harm to others as getting banned from a conference has done to him.”

          If I correctly understand you—quite possibly I don’t—the implication is that the right way of keeping hiring managers from coming to conclusions you think mistaken and undesirable is to keep them from hearing arguments for those conclusions, done by making it costly for anyone to publicly offer such arguments. Since the sort of pressure produced by not inviting people to conferences is unlikely to be sufficient for the purpose, doesn’t the argument suggest more direct restrictions on speech?

          Are you comfortable with the idea that the proper way of dealing with other people is to get them to hold the conclusions you want them to hold by by preventing them from hearing arguments against those conclusions?

          • undefined in this scope says:

            (Obviously I’ve read some of your work so I’m attempting to convince you of anything, only to expand your mental model of the outgroup.)

            Somewhere else here you said that a plausible definition of a “terrible person” was someone motivated by malice. I hold that malice too narrow a word here because (close to) no one thinks they’re advocating for Evil, rather they base their views on first principles that inevitably lead them to malicious acts.

            From that it’s morally OK to “suppress” a view (scare quotes because everyone so far jumps straight from publicly heckle to gulags) if there is no non-inevitably-malicious set of first principles that can give rise to it. Most of the left holds that “all men are created equal” or at least “all men must be treated equally” as necessary principle for non-terrible views.

            > are you comfortable

            Asking that in this context presupposes that there is always a comfortable path through life, or at least that the current level of bigotry in America is reasonably comfortable.

            This is skirting dangerously close the the previous conversation, but please consider that I’m not proposing to imprison anyone or burn their books. The point of these actions is that most people do not have thoroughly reasoned beliefs to be argued into our out of. Making racists lives unpleasant is not to punish them but to make flawed logical paths less appealing to those who would casually tread them without analysis. I am comfortable assuming that racial supremacy is a flawed path.

            If there’s some grand unified theory of racism that Moldbug feels a critical need to develop I’m not going to prevent him, but making his life unpleasant is an unavoidable side effect dissuading the vast body of dumb racists looking for rhetoric to validate their beliefs.

            But the unaddressed point I was making in the comment you are replying to is that some acts (the hiring discrimination in aggregate) can cause harm morally equivalent to violence. If Moldbug was successfully running a “Puch a Black Man in the Face Today!” campaign most of society would be willing to ostracise him, but the fact that this happens in aggregate makes the terribleness of his views harder to detect. (And that point is probably the pinnacle of “things you’re not going to convince someone into or out of on the internet”.)

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            I’d actually find it a bit more reassuring if your goal was to punish racists: at least then the harm you’re willing to inflict might be tempered by some sense that there are limits to how much punishment a person deserves just for expressing an opinion. But combine your grandiose goal of eliminating racism entirely with your by-any-means-necessary ideas about how to get there, and it shouldn’t be all that surprising if some of us see a gulag at the end of the road. (That you’re not in favor of such measures now is cold comfort, considering that you’ve already made the long march from “Taxation is theft” to “Making a living is a privilege you forfeit by offending us”.)

          • “Making racists lives unpleasant is not to punish them but to make flawed logical paths less appealing to those who would casually tread them without analysis. I am comfortable assuming that racial supremacy is a flawed path.”

            Thanks for the response.

            Part of my problem with your position is the assumption that your belief that other people’s logical paths are flawed is not only reliable enough for you to act on it in your own decisions, such as not accepting the conclusions those paths lead to, but reliable enough so that you are entitled to prevent other people from accepting those errors by making it harder for them to hear the arguments for them.

            The alternative position, which is the one that underlies much support for freedom of speech, is that the best way of finding out which beliefs are flawed is by letting people argue them out. It’s certainly not perfect, as demonstrated by the large number of people who, for some puzzling reason, fail to agree with me. But considered as a general policy, I think it leads to better results than each side trying to do its best to keep the other side’s arguments from being heard.

            I haven’t read enough of Moldbug to have an opinion on him. But based on Scott’s attempt to sum up the neoreactionary position, it seems to me that they are providing a useful service by offering arguments against the views that practically everyone else takes for granted—even if most of those arguments turn out to mistaken, as Scott argued in his later piece.

            Another part of my response probably comes from the combination of holding very unfashionable views and being more familiar with the arguments than most people I encounter. In my experience, the overwhelming majority of people who think certain views, in particular mine, are obviously wrong are not competent to hold that position, whether or not it is true–they don’t know the arguments on both sides. So that makes me skeptical of the “of course it’s wrong, so we ought to keep people from hearing arguments for it” approach.

      • ddreytes says:

        Sincere question: at what point does a group’s potential to take over a country justify banning it? because the implication of your post is that there is, in fact, some point at which this becomes true.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          Well, “sympathizers of the group stage terrorist attacks” certainly doesn’t seem to be enough, so I would guess “has a bunch of irrelevant blogs scattered through the internet” doesn’t make the cut either.

        • Alraune says:

          And my sincere answer is, I have no idea. I also don’t know who my tribal patriarch is. Living in a society with numerous lifetimes of peaceful power transfer is weird.

      • Nornagest says:

        Wow. Too many houses, not nearly enough pox.

      • OTOH, if there a danger of neo-reactionaries taking over, we should invite them to conferences to keep an eye on them.

        “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”—Michael Corleone

        “Every university should have two communists on its staff so we never forget what those people were like.”—Rush Limbaugh

      • multiheaded says:

        [le escalated quickly face]

    • 27chaos says:

      Link to his literal white supremacy, anyone?

      • Jos says:

        It’s a bit of a crash blossom, but I think that Merzbot means that Moldbug’s sexual partner is a white supremacist. Or possibly that Moldbug is literally white, but that would be odd – not even Julian Assange is that.

        • Anatoly says:

          He isn’t literally white, don’t be absurd. He just has sexual congress with literals (constant expressions in source code). Apparently.

          • zz says:

            He’s in congress? There’s a congress just for sex?

            And here I thought that you muricans were all anti-sex (until I read the Murray piece, that is).

          • Randy M says:

            You’re such a wit. We shall have to intercourse at length some time.

          • Lesser Bull says:

            Maybe not literally white, but at least supremely white?

      • creative username #1138 says:

        Moldbug has written a blog post specifically outlying why he is not a white nationalist (also his father’s Jewish, which is a big no-go for a lot of actual white supremacists)

    • Anonymous says:

      Moldbug and friends are not “white supremacists.” There own analysis ranks Asians over whites. Of course they really are anti-black/hispanic. But accuracy is important.

    • Murphy says:

      Feels good doesn’t it?

      You’re following in the grand old tradition.

      The sad thing is that I have the vague feeling that I’d have more luck convincing him to treat you with respect and decency than trying to convince you to treat him with respect and decency.

      • onyomi says:

        Agreed.

        I also like this blog better when terms like “scum of the earth,” and “someone who isn’t a terrible shit” are not used, especially with respect to someone like Moldbug, who, so far as I can tell, is only guilty of politely, calmly offering arguments for unusual positions. (And though I haven’t read him that extensively, I nowhere get the sense that he advocates white supremacy, or anything like that, unless you consider Amy Chua to be a white supremacist).

        I think there is a pernicious slippage between “hateful” ideology and “hateful person.” A hateful person may deserve to be called “scum of the earth.” A person nicely expounding an ideology you think is inherently hateful (but which they probably don’t see that way), probably does not.

    • randy m says:

      Shouldn’t the literal go after the fucking?

    • Gbdub says:

      He’s also a literal fucking computer system developer, which seems more relevant to whether or not he should be allowed to speak on that subject at a tech conference than any political ideologies he holds under a blogging pseudonym. At least I’d like to live in a world where that’s the case.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      OK. This is a horrible form of argument. It substitutes passionate words for actual ideas.

      But would people arguing against it at least steel-man it?

      1) Can organizers of events make decisions about who they should invite?
      2) Can organizers of events take into account whether the inclusion of the invitee is more or less likely to lead to the event being successful as they define it?
      3) If you were personally organizing an event, would there be any ideas or associations (unrelated to the purpose of the event) which would marginally influence your decision on whether to invite a participant?

      • Cauê says:

        It’s not about the exact same thing, but I think Scott’s “the spirit of the first amendment” is quite relevant here.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Cauê:

          Actually, I agree that discussions around “Doctrine Of The Preferred First Speaker” are completely on point to this.

          I would argue that the Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker example is a great reductio example.

          See below for my reductio example.

          I think there are principles that are in tension with each other here.

      • onyomi says:

        1. yes
        2. yes, but if caving to threats about issues unrelated to the event, one has to wonder if he isn’t both impoverishing the event by disqualifying people for irrelevant reasons and also contributing to a larger culture of politicizing everything and discouraging free speech.
        3. Though I can’t be entirely sure, not being in the situation myself, I’d like to say no. This is because I am committed to the idea that one can be wrong about one thing and still have something valuable to contribute with respect to something else (this cuts both ways, as Stephen Hawking being good at physics doesn’t necessarily make him a good theologian), and also that ideological witch hunts reduce everyone’s quality of life and thinking in the long run.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @onyomi:

          If you were to find out that, out of a pool of 20 possible speakers for the last unfilled slot in your conference, one of those was a currently active and outspoken NAMBLA member, would your likelihood of using that speaker go up, down or be unchanged?

          If it would change, why?

          Edit: If not, why not?

          And don’t assume that anyone warns you about it. They include it as part of their CV when applying for the job in the other activities/organizations section.

          • onyomi says:

            I have to admit that if there were other equally good or better options, the NAMBLA thing on the resume might tip me toward another candidate on the margins, especially since inclusion of such info on a CV used to apply for something unrelated to NAMBLA issues would signal to me that the person was potentially tone deaf or unable to keep his political activism separate from other professional activities. Paradoxically, it would bother me less to find out that he wrote pro-NAMBLA blog posts under a pseudonym, because that would tend to indicate he had more discretion. On the other hand, I think un-inviting someone requires a more serious potential problem than failing to invite someone in the first place, so on that score knowing about something like this beforehand might be better.

            If the person with “NAMBLA Activist” on his resume were the best candidate by any appreciable margin, I might contact him and ask whether he is willing to avoid causing any potential distraction by using his presentation to talk about NAMBLA or other irrelevant topics. If he could agree to exercise such discretion, I’d probably still invite him.

          • onyomi says:

            This also brings up for me something I’ve been meaning to ask on an OT one of these days, which is whether or not I’d be able to resist using the Death Note (notebook with the magical power to kill anyone whose name you write in it) of the manga/anime of the same name. I’m not very confident I could resist the temptation to at least kill some people like Kim Jong Un, who seem to really, really deserve it, but it could be a slippery slope from there.

            The current discussion reminds me of this because, while I talk a good game about what people in positions of authority should do when faced with choices like “do I hire slightly more qualified person with ideology I find odious,” I’m not as confident as I’d like to be that I would actually live up to those ideals were I in a position of authority.

            This is, of course, because *my* political views are correct and *my* political tribe is routinely selected against for this kind of thing, so I’m just balancing the scales and helping the truth to win… is how I think I’d be tempted to feel. But it’s precisely because everyone feels this way that we can’t have nice things.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m not very confident I could resist the temptation to at least kill some people like Kim Jong Un, who seem to really, really deserve it, but it could be a slippery slope from there.

            Kim Jong Un’s replacement would be unlikely to be much better, and would be very likely to have less legitimacy in his peers’ eyes (hence less stability for the country). There are few things I’d less like to see at my doorstep than a heavily armed totalitarian dictatorship, but one of them is a heavily armed collection of feuding warlords.

            You could, of course, keep using the Death Note to knock over warlords, but information’s so sparse out there that using it in a way that decreased the total expected body count would probably be a full-time job.

            Granted, I could probably find someone to use the Death Note on, even if I’m not sure who at this very moment.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Granted, I could probably find someone to use the Death Note on, even if I’m not sure who at this very moment.

            Well, the obvious utilitarian option is to kill someone in a way that makes you rich (are celebrity dead pools legal?) and then use the money to improve the world however you see fit.

          • onyomi says:

            If I killed Kim Jong Un, it would probably not be for utilitarian reasons, but because I literally think he doesn’t deserve to keep breathing. That said, I would bet one could find a way to use such a power to destabilize that or any other regime, and it’s hard to imagine the DPRK being replaced by anything worse. In a world where non-libertarian politicians drop like flies, how long before politicians start becoming more libertarian, or everyone just stops wanting to be a politician altogether, resulting in de facto anarcho capitalism? What’s more I’m not even sure I would feel evil while doing this, because I think non-libertarian politicians are unfairly aggressing against innocent people, so theoretically I could think of it as helping people defend themselves. What is more, I could justify it on utilitarian grounds, since I am confident that eliminating governments would allow rapid economic and medical development, saving far more lives than the few politicians I’d killed.

            I’m not saying I think this is the right thing to do, or even what I would do, but it is more tempting than I’d like to admit. What might hopefully save me from doing this would be some of the same ethical and empirical views that make me a libertarian in the first place, namely that concentrations of power are bad, the knowledge of central planners is limited, and no one has the right to force his idea of what’s best on others (or to take someone’s life except in extremes of self defense, etc.), but again, it’s kind of tempting.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            Remind me not to hire you to organize any conferences unless they are on the topic of the importance of free speech. 🙂

            I think your prior position is swamping your assessment of what you would actually do if you had “skin in the game”. Having that knowledge should be a large disincentive to hiring him for that position, not just “might tip me” territory. Having his participation represents a big risk for the public event absent some other knowledge to the contrary, and represents a risk to you and anyone who can reasonably be seen as being responsible for overseeing/participating in your decisions.

            Long before you get into the territory of “is it moral to support his activist work by voluntarily giving him custom”, you should discount his utility merely on the risk front.

          • onyomi says:

            Well, sure, if I thought there was a real chance that this person would ruin the conference and I’d lose my job then I probably would try to avoid inviting them, whatever the reason. But it strikes me in most cases like these, be it the one with Moldbug or controversial commencement speakers, that the the stakes are nowhere near that high for anyone involved. It’s more like “I don’t want the headache of possibly dealing with some complaints.”

            In the case of Moldbug, a quick Youtube search will turn up totally innocuous presentations by him on his urbit ideas, as well as him reading poetry and debating futarchy. They are hardly riot-starting presentations. I think it’s pretty obvious that if inviting him were to actually cause any disruptions it would be because of the people who don’t like him trying to make it about his ideology, not about him injecting his ideology. And to cave to that sort of pressure is, frankly, pretty pathetic, imo.

            Sure, it’s understandable to err on the side of caution, and I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t do the same if I thought there was a real chance that Moldbug’s presence would ruin the conference or get me fired, but on the other hand, I think there should be a presumption that people are mature enough to judge a presenter on his presentation and not his unrelated political views, and I think the idea that one shouldn’t listen to someone talk about computer programming if they have the wrong political views is a really nasty precedent to set.

            Honestly, my initial reaction would be just to uninvite the complainers. Anybody who says “did you know person a, who is presenting on unrelated topic b, holds objectionable position c????” doesn’t sound like anyone I want at my event.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            Forgive me, I don’t want to debate Moldbug at this moment. I’m trying to get at the question of whether there are competing principles. As I stated above, I think arguing from a reduction is helpful to establish that a principal exists. The Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker real word example is a great reduction to the other extreme and establishes a different (competing) principle.

            I think I’ve gotten you to agree that a conference organizer should, as a matter of principle, attempt to make their event successful, and that this principle allows them to take into account some views that are so outré as to represent real risk to the success of the conference. I don’t think that is a statement of the root principle, but I think we have established that there is one.

            Hypothetical addition to the hypothetical scenario:

            Suppose this slot is for someone to be the last speaker on a panel, and you know that one of the speakers on the panel you have already hired is a male survivor of childhood sexual abuse by their father. Does that have additional affect on your decision?

          • nydwracu says:

            Do you really think Alex Miller would’ve done the same thing in response to complaints about someone on his side?

            Look at his Twitter account. Dude’s not exactly trying to hide where he stands. The other organizers, even more so.

          • onyomi says:

            I think this is an important point. Suddenly people care a lot more about free speech when the controversial speaker shares their own views.

          • onyomi says:

            @Heelbearcub

            I think my principle is pretty clear:

            One should try, as much as possible, to pick event participants on the basis of their predicted contribution to the event, not on unrelated views they may hold but which you don’t expect to factor into their participation. If you expect there’s any possibility he might cause disruption by expressing unrelated views, then that is a factor reducing the predicted contribution in proportion to the severity of the possible disruption and probability of it happening.

            If somehow this person’s views are going to ruin the event just by virtue of him holding them, then one doesn’t have to be doctrinaire about the above, since, as event organizer, your primary responsibility is successful event, but it’s hard for me to think of a case in which someone merely holding objectionable views which he doesn’t express at the event could ruin an event.

            And, again, if what’s going to ruin the event is not anything objectionable position holder says, but others’ reaction to his presence, then, if it is at all feasible to do so, it is these others who should be uninvited, not the controversial view holder. To do otherwise encourages this kind of “victimization preemptive strike” which is becoming more and more common, and, imo, loathsome.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            I’m not sure that answer actually engages with my hypothetical. But, trying to interpret it in a way that does, I think you are saying that having a NAMBLA supporter and a survivor of child abuse on the same panel attempting to discuss, say, astrophysics has a high probability of negatively affecting the event, and that this is reasonable to take into account.

            So, now reengaging with Moldbug, wouldn’t it have a high-degree of probability that putting Moldbug on a panel with, say, Neil Degrasse Tyson, trying to discuss (insert some area of shared expertise) would have a high-degree of probability of negatively affecting the event?

          • onyomi says:

            I don’t see why. Do you think Moldbug is incapable of having a rational discussion on an unrelated topic with people who disagree with him ideologically?

          • John Schilling says:

            wouldn’t it have a high-degree of probability that putting Moldbug on a panel with, say, Neil Degrasse Tyson, trying to discuss (insert some area of shared expertise) would have a high-degree of probability of negatively affecting the event?

            Almost certainly. But if it’s Curtis Guy Yarvin and Neil Degrasse Tyson, that ought to be a different matter. Probably wouldn’t be, IMO, but that has more to do with my opinion of Neil than of Curtis. Regardless, it’s the one you imagine would go off-script and introduce contentious politics to a civil technical discussion that you don’t invite to the conference. And if it’s ten instead of one, you don’t invite any of them; if it’s a hundred you cancel the conference and have a quiet private meeting with the handful of people who are willing to talk tech.

          • onyomi says:

            “…it’s the one you imagine would go off-script and introduce contentious politics to a civil technical discussion that you don’t invite to the conference.”

            Yes, exactly.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I don’t see why. Do you think Moldbug is incapable of having a rational discussion on an unrelated topic with people who disagree with him ideologically?

            Well, now I am going to ask you to go back and fully engage with my hypothetical. Why might a survivor of child sexual abuse and NAMBLA proponent have trouble having a rational discussion about astrophysics? What problems could it cause?

          • onyomi says:

            No problem, if they don’t know that about one another. And if they do, the one(s) who think they are incapable of even talking to someone whose view triggers their trauma, even if said person promises not to bring up said views, are the ones who should bow out. Everyone’s views are triggering and loathsome to someone. Wear shoes; don’t demand the world be carpeted.

            And I still don’t get the analogy to Moldbug and Tyson. Was Tyson molested by a monarchist as a child? Or is it because he’s black and Moldbug believes in average IQ differences among groups? If the latter, does this mean we should uninvite Charles Murray as a speaker if his mere presence makes one black person uncomfortable, even if he’s not there to talk about race and IQ?

            This idea that merely being in the presence of someone you know holds a view you dislike is threatening, even if the person is totally polite and not talking about said view, seems very pernicious.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            No problem, if they don’t know that about one another. And if they do, the one(s) who think they are incapable of even talking to someone whose view triggers their trauma, even if said person promises not to bring up said views, are the ones who should bow out.

            All I can say is, once again, I don’t think you are acting as if you have any skin in the game. I really honestly don’t think anyone would consciously put a childhood sex abuse survivor and a NAMBLA advocate on stage together unless it was to discuss that specific issue. The fact that you won’t even admit to any trepidation at all suggests you don’t like what that does to your position.

            Imagine how the conversation would go with the person you already hired. “So, I’m hiring someone who happens to be a NAMBLA advocate for the panel, but I’m giving you the heads up in case you want to bow out.”

            edit: Especially when you had the opportunity to hire 19 other candidates. It’s not as if this particular candidate is the only person who could fill the panel slot.

          • onyomi says:

            You’re assuming that I, as conference organizer, know or care about these peoples’ personal lives. Why would someone applying to speak at a tech conference tell me about their history of sexual abuse or their membership in NAMBLA?

            My expectation as organizer of a tech conference is that everyone is professional enough to keep unrelated political views and past emotional traumas out of the discussion of tech. Anyone who signals that they can’t do that, be it because they can’t help talking about NAMBLA everywhere they go, or because they can’t stand to even be in the same room as someone who might privately support NAMBLA, should probably not be invited.

          • Jaskologist says:

            A card is being palmed in jumping all the way to NAMBLA, and I feel like this is done all the time. It’s always “but what about segregation when they turned the firehoses on black people? And that’s why we need to destroy this pizza place in the middle of nowhere for giving the wrong answer to a hypothetical question!”

            No. Toleration of other viewpoints is* the rule, along with putting political disagreements to the side when discussing unrelated items. Everything else is an exception which should be granted only in extreme circumstances. Hard cases make bad law.

            *should be/needs to be

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I don’t think the NAMBLA example is a good comparison. A child abuse survivor experienced child abuse while, as far as I know, neither Moldbug nor these so called communists ever experienced Monarchy nor Communism.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            Why would someone applying to speak at a tech conference tell me about their history of sexual abuse or their membership in NAMBLA?

            Again, you are refusing to engage with the hypothetical where you do know these pieces of information.

            The question is, given you know this, what do you do, and what principles does that reveal? I have freely admitted all along this was a reduction argument and whatever principle it revealed is in competition with other principles.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jaskologist:

            I am very specifically not palming the card. I am telling you straight out that this is a hypothetical reduction. You seem to be saying that because a principle of “toleration of other viewpoints” exists (which I have freely admitted exists) that this necessarily must void all other principles that might conflict with it.

            I think principles that exist can be in tension with each other. Free speech does not allow crying “Fire!” in a crowded theater being the famous example, but not the only possible case of tension between principles.

          • onyomi says:

            I have already addressed several variations on this hypothetical. If my views are still unclear, please reference earlier posts.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            You seem to have started out saying that their position would make a marginal difference and have now changed to the position that it wouldn’t make any difference as long as they assured you they wouldn’t mention NAMBLA during the conference. You started out saying that you would contact them if they were clearly the best candidate, and now don’t seem to think they would even need to be the best candidate.

            My contention is that you started in one place, and it turns out you don’t like the implications of that, and have switched position because of this.

          • I think to make the NAMBLA example work, you want to specify that the only reason the conference organizer knows that a potential participant is a NAMBLA member is that a third party told him and demanded that he uninvite the man for that reason.

          • onyomi says:

            @Heelbearcub

            If my position seems to change, it’s because I keep answering slightly different questions.

            The initial response was about choosing between two otherwise equally qualified candidates, one of whom listed NAMBLA on his resume, and one of whom did not.

            The other responses have been about whether or not to revoke an extended invitation or withhold an invitation to an otherwise superior candidate just because of an ideological position.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            My hypothetical situation has never involved either rescinding an invitation to speak or rejecting a clearly superior candidate. I tried to be clear about that, but obviously was not clear enough.

            The reason I am framing it this way is because I want to explore only the marginal difference made by a) the association to NAMBLA itself and b) the knowledge of the negative effect this would likely have on an already invited participant.

            This is why I have been insistent on resisting changes to the framing. Changing the framing allows one to ignore the marginal effects if one chooses to.

            As for rescinding invitations, I am perfectly willing to stipulate (concede, if you want, although I never argued against it) that, say, “resisting coercive behavior intended to punish in fact what cannot be punished by law” is a good principle and one of those that is in tension with other principles.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @PSmith:

          That article is in no way relevant to my point. As Popehat points out right at the beginning, the contention that all speech is not protected is not in dispute. In other words, the core concept that principles can be in contention with each other and still remain principles is not in doubt.

      • Viliam Búr says:

        Can organizers of events make decisions about who they should invite?

        I apologize if this opinion is inconsistent, but this is how I feel it:

        If an organizer decides to not invite a person X because of their political opinions, or because of their color of skin… that’s okay. As long as it is the organizer’s own decision, not an outside pressure. When it is a pressure from outside, it’s not okay.

        The reason behind this opinion is approximately this: If one organizer decides to not invite X, some other organizer may decide to invite X. This way, the organizer also damages their own conference. This is feedback that in long term may support the conferences without censorship.

        On the other hand, when the blacklisting of X is organized by an external group, that group will likely threaten all organizers. There is no feedback. All that is necessary is for the external group to precommit to cause more damage (e.g. by slandering the conference on Twitter) than the damage caused naturally by not inviting a few interesting speakers.

        In one case, the conflict is organizer vs speaker, in the other case, the conflict is external group vs speaker. The external group has no responsiblity, is probably anonymous, is not in the business of organizing the conferences… and yet they take the power to decide who is allowed to go there and who isn’t. All power, no responsibility — that is the part I hate.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          The question I have put forth is NOT “is it possible that political views can be unfairly discriminated against as a result of external pressure?”

          I think it is fairly clear that not inviting someone to a tech conference because they have a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker (and I am Republican) is an easy example. That would clearly be wrong and establishes that a principle exists.

          I am trying to establish that there are other, competing principles at work. As you are not an American (I am assuming), you might not be familiar with the NAMBLA organization. I would not suggest googling it though. It is an organization that promotes men having sex with young (prepubescent) boys. Here it is serving as a useful shibboleth in trying to establish that there are competing principles to be considered.

    • Wrong Species says:

      This isn’t Facebook. You don’t need to signal how progressive you are.

    • blacktrance says:

      How much do you trust people to decide who “the scum of the earth” are? Whatever your views, they were outside the Overton Window at some point in history. Would it have been right for someone holding them to have been excluded from conferences back then?

    • Urstoff says:

      I don’t really have much confidence in my ability to correctly identify the scum of the earth.

  44. Jos says:

    Does anybody have recommended reading on the general subject of gay fruitflies? I agree with the commenters upthread that the subject sounds fascinating.

  45. Besserwisser says:

    The obvious counterpoint to the difference in pay being caused by non-trans discrimination is that transwomen adapt typically female behaviour and if women’s choices tend to decrease their wage so will transwomen’s choices. This will increase after transition because they will need to unlearn male behaviour patterns they’ve been teached because they were treated as men.

    Remember, few if any disagree with numbers showing women earning less than average. The argument is that women would make as much as men if they acted more like men. And when thinking of women trying to act like men, transwomen are among the last I will think of.

    • Ever An Anon says:

      That’s not necessarily the case, at least not for modern transsexuals.

      From what I understand, transwomen generally fall into two cultural camps: gay men who transition into straight transwomen and straight men who transition into lesbian transwomen. The former apparently behave more like South Asian “third gender” folks and make a great effort to pass, while the latter are more aggressive and politically active. Depending on prevalence, which one dominates (and which the study samples more of) is going to determine whether they behave in a stereotypically feminine or masculine way.

      Of course this whole idea is pretty goofy even for a social science paper. It’s introducing a huge number of confounders from lack of a menstrual cycle (and correspondingly non-cyclical hormone levels) and maternity to skill at passing and local attitudes on LGBT, which common sense indicates will overwhelm any effect they are looking for.

      • Jiro says:

        The study didn’t try to distinguish the two camps, so any effect it shows would be the weighted average of those two camps. So your “that;’s not necessarily the case” doesn’t apply; it being the case half of the time is enough for the effect to show up, if the other half’s effect is merely neutral.

      • Leo says:

        Estrogen and progesterone levels tend to fall into cyclic patterns even with regular doses, though not to as high a degree.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I would have expected the majority of the male-female difference to be due to:

      1. Studying different subjects in school
      2. Women getting pregnant and raising families more
      3. Biology

      The transgender study suggests none of these are a major option (well, you could make a stretch case for biology, but to a first approximation, no)

      • anon says:

        One possible cofounder:

        It is much easier for transmen to “pass” than transwomen. I would not be surprised if visibly trans people get paid less on average, was this controlled for in any way?

        • Gbdub says:

          I had the same thought. Seems the study is trying to prove gender bias while assuming there is no bias regarding trans people. Which is an odd set of priors to believe.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          “It is much easier for transmen to “pass” than transwomen.”

          Well, one question there might be “why”? Another question might be, what affect does that this have on on cis-gendered women who are not conventional looking?

          In other words, I’m not sure that simply saying “they aren’t passing” is a good enough explanation even if it is true.

          • Nornagest says:

            “It is much easier for transmen to “pass” than transwomen.”

            Well, one question there might be “why”?

            You’re probably trying to point to something about beauty standards, but judging from the transpeople I’ve known, the answer is actually “because biological men come in a wide range of heights and bone structure, and if they’re unlucky enough to get the more stereotypically male versions, then that’s hard to change surgically”.

            We see a comparable range in female secondary sex characteristics: a (cis) woman with small breasts is in about the same boat as a man with a weak chin and no Adam’s apple, viz. they might be seen as a little boyish (effeminate) but they’re in little danger of being misgendered. The difference is that there’s less chance for a transman to have something he can’t leave behind, aside from a few less-obvious bits like the hipbones.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You’re probably trying to point to something about beauty standard

            Hmm, no, not really. Really just conventional vs. non-conventional. My prior is that non-conventional looking males are perceived differently than non-conventional looking females. The males aren’t judged as handsome, it’s just that their lack of handsomeness is not perceived as a particular negative.

            Maybe you could say this a different beauty standard, but I would rephrase to say that there is no expectation that a man be handsome to be acceptable in the work place.

          • Alraune says:

            Well, one question there might be “why”?

            If you pull members of the population at random, men look less like other men than women look like other women. We know this, and parse sex by assuming anyone that is not identifiably female is male. There’s also a major evolutionary bonus in there, since it means our snap assessments of physical danger are rigged towards androgyny returning false positives instead of false negatives.

            non-conventional looking males are perceived differently than non-conventional looking females.

            Different standard deviations. Non-conventional-looking males are substantially less non-conventional-looking. (Now, you might be right even when you adjust for that, but that needs something like actual data.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            If you pull members of the population at random, men look less like other men than women look like other women.

            Non-conventional-looking males are substantially less non-conventional-looking.

            Depending on how you mean it, those statements are opposite each other. But I think I get your gist. You are asserting that because males have more “natural” variation in looks that you have to be really out there to look unconventional, because conventional is already so broad.

            Do you have some citation that this is true biologically, and not simply socially constructed?

          • Alraune says:

            Do you have some citation that this is true biologically, and not simply socially constructed?

            Not sure what you’re referring to by “this” but the general principle of higher male variances is a straight up XX vs. XY thing. Men must express one X-chromosome fully while women express a mediation of their two, which gives men a broader SD on virtually everything, including appearance.

            You are asserting that because males have more “natural” variation in looks that you have to be really out there to look unconventional, because conventional is already so broad.

            Right. “What the hell is wrong with that cat?” vs. “Hey look, a poodle!”

          • anon says:

            “Another question might be, what affect does that this have on on cis-gendered women who are not conventional looking?

            In other words, I’m not sure that simply saying “they aren’t passing” is a good enough explanation even if it is true.”

            You seem to have missed the point. I am not saying that it has to do with attraction at all. I am merely saying that being seen as Trans can itself lead to lower wages, and FTM are less likely to be identified as trans.

            If not accounted for, this effect explains away the study, as the passablity of trans people has 0 to do with ciswomens wages.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @anon: It would in no way explain the trans-men’s wages going up, so there is that (although it seems that effect may not have been measured as significant.)

            @Alraune: This post on height calculates the SD of males as 7 CM and females as 6 CM.

            Now, you are absolutely right that that is a bigger SD. But it isn’t anything like cats vs. dogs different. What you are saying isn’t a bad theory, but I would want something more than what are relatively subtle differences in amount of variation within the sex. In addition, from a trans perspective, it might be worthwhile to note that sexual dimorphism may be more important than variation within the sex.

            For instance, as an average size male I am likely to take notice of a female taller than me, but not a male. As a female, I might take more notice of a male shorter than me, but not a female. Given a workplace environment where male supervision is still more prevalent (citation needed, I’m not sure how true this is) then the trans-woman may stick out more simply because she is taller. But in a world dominated by female supervisors, the trans-man might stick out more.

            I am not advocating this theory, mind you. Just mostly spit-balling.

          • Besserwisser says:

            I’ll have to look it up and somehow but I heard about studies examining the effect of attractiveness of people to their wages that men’s wages are more influenced by their appearences.

            Also, in addition to the rise in pay being non-significant, I would expect wages to go up anyway, which is why I mostly focussed on the transwomen so far. Granted, this just makes the decline of their pay all the more significant.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Besserweiser:

            That is a good point re: wages going up. Really though, it would be good to compare them vs. a reference class (if they are a programmer, what did programmer wages do during the period, etc.)

            I don’t know if the study controlled for job description, which would actually be a big confounder, especially if the period studied included 2008.

          • Anonymous says:

            My prior is that non-conventional looking males are perceived differently than non-conventional looking females. The males aren’t judged as handsome, it’s just that their lack of handsomeness is not perceived as a particular negative.

            Maybe you could say this a different beauty standard, but I would rephrase to say that there is no expectation that a man be handsome to be acceptable in the work place.

            A problem with this is that you’re assuming that male attractiveness and female attractiveness both derive from apperance by an equal amount, when it seems to me that there is overwhelming evidence that that’s untrue: that a woman’s attractiveness is determined by her appearance to a far greater extent than a man’s. And therefore that it’s inaccurate to correlate appearance and attractiveness like this when comparing men and women.

          • Deiseach says:

            men look less like other men than women look like other women

            What? I am having genuine difficulty understanding that statement, unless you mean something akin to the Disney Model of Female Faces: female characters are drawn according to a standard template but more variety is acceptable in male characters.

            This whole topic is very tangled; social pressures about what is deemed attractive plus what is deemed acceptable behaviour and appearance for women probably does exert a lot of influence on “I have to wear heels and makeup and fit this dress size and dye my hair blonde” so making women en masse on the surface seem more similar – but I’m not sure.

          • rsaarelm says:

            This whole topic is very tangled; social pressures about what is deemed attractive plus what is deemed acceptable behaviour and appearance for women probably does exert a lot of influence on “I have to wear heels and makeup and fit this dress size and dye my hair blonde” so making women en masse on the surface seem more similar – but I’m not sure.

            You could test this mechanically. Just scan in a bunch of male and female faces, tag the positions of various facial features on every face, and see if the facial feature positions in the male faces will have bigger variance between each other than the positions in the female faces.

        • memeticengineer says:

          Besides the passing effect, there are many indications that transfeminine people face greater prejudice. They are more likely to be seen as ridiculous, gross, or hypersexualized. “Woman in a dress” is seen as a joke, but few would think twice about the reverse. A lot more trans women get murdered than trans men, even relative to their populations. Some theorists thus refer to “transmisogyny” rather than just plain transphobia.

          • onyomi says:

            It’s funny–I think many might view this as a reflection of society’s devaluation of women–that men who become women are treated worse than the reverse.

            But I actually see it as the opposite–that men suffer more from rigid gender expectations and face violence when they fail to live up to them. And, of course, cis men are far more often murdered than cis women, so if transwomen are more often murdered than transmen, then that probably means that much of society sees still sees them as men. And if there’s one better target for violence than a man, it’s a non-gender conforming man. You wouldn’t hit a girl, after all?

          • memeticengineer says:

            I wonder about this myself. Julia Serrano argues that there’s two separate but related phenomena: a force that tries to keep people within their prescribed gender roles and a force that portrays the female gender role as worse. You could interpret things instead as separation of gender roles plus stricter enforcement of the boundaries of the male gender role. I am not sure this alternative explains all the phenomena I mentioned though, for example fetishistic hypersexualization of trans women doesn’t seem to align with this. Alternately, you could synthesize the two views: perhaps the male gender role is more strictly enforced precisely because femaleness is devalued (and thus moving away from femininity would be seen understandable, while moving towards it would be seen as perverse). I am not sure what to think of all this stuff in terms of causes, but I do think it’s a real phenomenon that transfeminine people generally have it worse than transmasculine people.

          • onyomi says:

            Or maybe it’s because femininity is *more* valued that its boundaries must be strictly policed?

            A very conservative friend recently posted on Facebook: “Caitlyn Jenner will never have the same status as my wife or mother!”

          • Besserwisser says:

            On the one hand, I wouldn’t expect the gender which is valued more to also be killed more. On the other hand, maybe men are valued more precisely because their numbers are going down. I’ve heard people in areas where many men died due to war or genocide respect the surviving men much more.

            Another explanation I’ve heard is that because bearing children is such an integral part of the female gender role, transwomen remain inable to fully fulfill this. Meanwhile, transmen can fulfill most of the male gender role since getting women pregnant is a much smaller part of it (one man can get several women pregnant anyway). I don’t necessarily agree with this but it’s food for thought.

            Personally, I just think the kind of people who would attack transsexuals for being trans are also likely to assign sex based on genitals and enforce gender roles, thus attacking the more acceptable target, the ones they see as men even if they are equally disgusted with transmen. It could also be about female hypoagency and male hyperagency, where people blame transmen transitioning on external factors while transwomen are seen as men who make anything out for their own reasons.

          • Ever An Anon says:

            I don’t think it’s half as complicated as all that.

            The use of the word “trap” kind of sums it up: the idea that some small percentage of women are secretly disguised men (not endorsing just explaining) is a disgusting and infuriating thought. Moreover it hints at a predatory motive, after all why disguise oneself at all if you’re not trying to trick someone?

            This could also underlie the popularity of the autogynophilia theory, since it’s basically a more cerebral version of the same idea. Transwomen are, according to that theory, recruiting unwilling bystanders as part of their sexual roleplay whenever they try to pass in public.

            Add the castration angle on top of that and I don’t see any reason to resort to complex theorizing as to why transwomen catch most of the violence.

          • Cauê says:

            I can’t name one single trans man. But, between famous people, people I follow and interact with on the internet, and people I don’t follow but the internet throws at me regardless, I think I could name ~20 trans women.

            Not that many, but 20 x 0 is a large enough difference to require explanation, and it would be pretty weird if that explanation didn’t have anything to do with the explanation for differences in other areas.

          • AJD says:

            The first person who comes to mind when I try to think of a famous trans man is Chaz Bono, the son of Sonny & Cher. Admittedly not as famous as currently high-profile trans women like Caitlyn Jenner or Laverne Cox.

      • Anonymous says:

        ‘Biology’ is a vague term in this context. Any and all differences between men and women are ultimately caused by biology, because biology is the ’cause’ of sexual dimorphism in the first place.

        People on the left tend to blame differences in average outcomes between genders on social factors. People on the right tend to blame them on innate differences in ability and preference. All of those may well play a part. However I think both of those only scrape at the main cause of difference: a specific kind of preference/social factor. Namely, that men on average find certain characteristics in women attractive; women on average find certain characteristics in men attractive; most people are straight; most people want to be attractive in the eyes of those who they are attracted to; therefore most men make attempts to do things that straight women find attractive, and most women make attempts to do things straight men find attractive.

        In the case of pay, it’s simply that women find a high salary attractive in men while a high salary in a woman doesn’t make her any more attractive to men. Therefore men stand to become more attractive through earning more, and so prioritize work, particularly prioritizing pay over other factors like enjoyment or convenience; whereas women do not have this incentive to care about pay, and so consider it a lower priority relative to other factors.

      • Besserwisser says:

        I would base a lot of it on career choices later in life, such as women being significantly less likely to apply for manager positions. Granted, them putting family before career plays into this but it’s probably not the only reason and deserves a seperate category.

    • Anonymous says:

      The theory that seems most plausible to me is that transmen pass *a lot* better than transwomen and I expect a non passing trans to be discriminated against far far more than either nontransexual men and women.

      • Jiro says:

        The same factors that affect whether they can pass affect whether they are considered attractive for their new sex and we know that pay depends on attractiveness as well.

  46. Deiseach says:

    Instead of arguing about politics and religion, I think I’ll provide an excerpt of Doctors What Can’t Write Or Spell Good (arising out of what Scott said about the difference in Irish and American medical education and what I see at work).

    From a self-typed letter by a G.P. (I know it’s self-typed as if you handed up these errors in a assignment on a secretarial course, your class tutor would lambaste you), misspellings of: practice, persistent, asthma, haemorrhoids, investigation, depression and oesophagitis (twice, two different misspellings).

    From a hand-written letter by a consultant psychiatrist (in this case, it’s not so much the handwriting was bad as that it was full of flourishes which rendered it practically impossible to read): it started with something I managed to make out about “the patient is resistant to taking meds” and then the rest I could not interpret; the ending looked like saying something about trying the meds again if “elbow is persistent”, but I’m fairly sure that was not the proper meaning 🙂

    • speedwell says:

      I worked for a year and a half as a proofreader and copy editor at a small typesetting firm years ago. We did a lot of work for medical and psychiatric journals. If spelling accuracy was considered as important as relevant knowledge in medicine generally, not only would we have been out of jobs, but so would all of the medical professionals, bless them.

      • nydwracu says:

        Yeah, skill with words doesn’t correlate with expertise and so on anywhere near as much as Blues might think. Ever seen a mailing list full of tech professionals?

        • Deiseach says:

          I have no idea why half the country isn’t dead due to chemists handing out the wrong prescriptions due to bad handwriting or spelling on the part of doctors 🙂

          This is why I’ve said I have experience in translating Techie into English. It’s also why, as someone engaged in clerical work, I get really hopping mad a little bit miffed when people make sniffy remarks about so-and-so is “only” a secretary, or that lower white-collar/pink-collar work isn’t particularly skilled, so it’s the niche of the less intelligent (those who couldn’t get into college).

          There are so many managers and bosses out there who can’t write a legible sentence in English to save their lives, and it’s the PAs and clerical staff who turn out documents (salvaged from what Mr Boss has provided) that present a professional image of the business or organisation. It’s particularly ironic given that “communication” is a perennial business buzzword and the importance of good communication is always being emphasised.

    • “two different misspellings”

      One of my and my wife’s hobbies is medieval cooking. She likes to point people at a 14th century recipe in which the main ingredient appears four times, with four different spellings.

      So things may be improving. Slowly.

      • Nick says:

        I wonder, is there any actual advantage conferred by prescribing (heh) a single spelling of a word, if all the spellings of words correspond about as well to the pronunciation of the word as prescribed spellings do?

        • I think there is.

          The obvious example is the case of two words that sound identical, such as “sea” and “see.” Further, individuals vary somewhat in how they pronounce words, so the spelling that worked for one reader would mislead another.

          • Nick says:

            Well, most of the time we can already pick out which word is meant by context. So it seems to me that words that are phonetically identical could about as easily be spelled identically. But I think you’re right about pronunciations differing. Actually, given that there was much more variation in the past, just to what extent were English spellings even comprehensible from one region to another? I don’t know how to take it if many words had three or four spellings but everyone more or less always understood. Unless they didn’t, I don’t know the history of these things.

          • AJD says:

            there was much more variation in the past

            [citation needed]

        • nydwracu says:

          We could switch to a 1-1 writing system for English, but, having occasionally tried to use one, you’d just get more variation there.

          (How do you write unstressed vowels? With the letter for /ə/ or the letter for /ɪ/? Do the two contrast? I have no idea. This is probably more of a problem for Shavian than for Deseret; in Deseret, you’re supposed to write unstressed vowels with their stressed values (which introduces its own bag of worms, since, in a lot of cases, you can’t know their stressed values any other way than Latin spelling), and you can use any letter to represent the name of the letter in addition to the sound the letter represents, so /əm ən əl ər/ can usually be written /m n l r/.)

        • switchnode says:

          Interregional comprehensibility is one reason; it’s already been mentioned. (Standardization picks up with the printing press. Economies of scale!)

          Another is the handling of words as data. Lexical ordering, recordkeeping, tokenization… pretty much all automated or otherwise algorithmic ways of dealing with written text depend on having a consistent symbolic representation.

          How do you look something up in a dictionary if it doesn’t have a consistent spelling? (How do you write a dictionary?) The same goes for card catalogs, documentation, et cetera; anywhere you might want to look up a certain record or subject in a corpus will benefit from standard spellings.

          This becomes even more relevant, of course, when dealing with computers—finding a given string in a body of text is very easy and very useful, but mechanizing phonemic English is a hard problem. Databases, search engines, etc. etc. etc.

          (And computational linguistics. You can quibble about its immediate usefulness, but natural language processing is at the very least interesting, and it’s hard to imagine inconsistent spelling not complicating the problem.)

          • Peter says:

            natural language processing is at the very least interesting, and it’s hard to imagine inconsistent spelling not complicating the problem

            Indeed. NLP stuff at the very least attracts paying customers, and one of the things I had the joy of working on in a previous job was making sure our software could cope with the various spellings of “haemorrhagic septicaemia”. As well as the various spelling mistakes there’s a US/UK difference – nominally they write “hemorrhagic septicemia” on their side of the pond, but it turns out that mid-Atlantic spellings are pretty common. The problem grows exponentially with every part of the term that isn’t the same everywhere.

            So abandoning standardized spelling really would complicate things massively.

          • Nick says:

            The words as data point is an excellent one. Re dictionaries, it’s worth pointing to e.g. Noah Webster’s spelling reforms.

  47. Ever An Anon says:

    So is Joyce more or less comprehensible in Chinese?

    If the translation went a more literal route it should produce complete gibberish (I will resist the cheap joke) which makes me think they tried to translate the symbolism instead. In that case I could see the text becoming much less opaque since it would be drawing from a more unified ‘symbolic alphabet’ as it were.

    • Deiseach says:

      I have to admit, I’m fascinated to know what the title translates as (or rather, what choice the translator made) because it’s a pun: is it the imperative of “wake, awaken, wake up” – “Finnegans, wake up now!” – because the novel is the collective dreaming of the Finnegan family; is it describing the moment of awakening – the Finnegans wake (up) – or is it “wake” as in the funeral celebration and ballad? Is there a practice in China analogous to a wake?

      • Anonymous says:

        From what little Chinese I know, “Fenningen de Shouying Ye” seems to be a pretty literal translation of “Finnegan’s Wake”.

        I’m guessing the translator probably toned down Joyce’s writing style a lot to make it readable in Chinese – still experimental and avant-garde to an extent, but probably more like Naked Lunch or something along those lines than the original work.

  48. Technocracy Inc is totally the early 20th century predecessor to grey tribe politics (or post-politics or apolitics). Everyone grey-o-sphere thinker should definitely read up on it. It’s a really quirky interesting movement and its shortcomings (odd economics) are well worth chewing on for a bit if you’re a post-politics rationalist type. They’re plan for post-scarcity economy with energy credits and the like is basically the direct ancestor of the similar chatter in /r/futurology and its related crowds.

  49. Peter says:

    That Democratic/Republican policy proposal thing: reminds me of the way I believed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs right up until Bush Jr. said he had them, and then I stopped believing he had them. You (you-plural) may make whatever remarks about epistemic standards and stopped watches you see fit.

    • 27chaos says:

      Maybe you can keep that kind of sometimes useful skepticism, but apply it more broadly, to both parties.

  50. Jasonium says:

    There is no apostrophe in the book title Finnegans Wake.

  51. Shenpen says:

    >why developed countries with lots of education seemed to do better than developed countries with little education.

    Education is an expensive consumer good and thus richer people/nations tend to buy more of it. This doesn’t necessarily make them richer. Let’s call this “The BMW Theory Of Education”.

  52. DavidS says:

    We’ve had that Canada “One in, One out” rule in the UK for about 4 years. Though here it’s based on cutting equal costs to the costs you impose rather than just counting regulations by number. Quite a few places have or are introducing that sort of rule, from my understanding.

  53. ilzolende says:

    If you’re going to link to two-year-old stuff that’s been republished on a list people expect to consist of recent things, would you also consider starting Amazing Breakthrough Day?

  54. haishan says:

    Shameless derailment, but I hope this is interesting enough that it doesn’t matter: Tumblr user xhxhxhx has had some very good economic history posts of late, including one about how the Great Depression was the most technologically innovative period in US history. Anyway, they stopped doing it (maybe?) because of low response, so I’m shamelessly plugging it here hoping that it is enough to get it started again.

  55. suntzuanime says:

    People are more willing to eat an unfamiliar dish if they’re told it comes from their favorite restaurant than if they’re given the exact same dish and told it comes from a cabal of evil poisoners. This is a shocking example of confirmation bias.

    • Deiseach says:

      I think the point is more to do with the narrative you see floating about that Republicans block perfectly reasonable Democrat-inspired bills simply because they are Evil and want non-hetero cis straight old rich white Christian males to suffer, while Democrats are reasonable and nice and vote on the merits.

      Seeing actual politics in action is not a surprise to any of us over the age of fourteen, but for some people who believe “My side is the nice side and those over there are the nasty ones”, maybe it may shake loose some fixed notions?

      • Gene Marsh says:

        “We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party…..The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition….The post-McGovern Democratic Party, by contrast, while losing the bulk of its conservative Dixiecrat contingent in the decades after the civil rights revolution, has retained a more diverse base. Since the Clinton presidency, it has hewed to the center-left on issues from welfare reform to fiscal policy. While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post.”
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lets-just-say-it-the-republicans-are-the-problem/2012/04/27/gIQAxCVUlT_story.html

        • From the same article:

          And Mike Lofgren, a veteran Republican congressional staffer, wrote an anguished diatribe last year about why he was ending his career on the Hill after nearly three decades. “The Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe,” he wrote on the Truthout Web site.

          Shortly before Rep. West went off the rails with his accusations of communism in the Democratic Party […]

          Consider how the parallel(?) accusations of being a Nazi and being a Communist are treated.

          • Deiseach says:

            Yep. Mr Lofgren says the Republicans are behaving like Fascists – perfectly fair comment.

            Mr West says the Democrats are behaving like Communists – clear sign he’s nuts with his crazy conspiracy loon talk!

          • social justice warlock says:

            They’re both accusations of being a communist; “one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of the 20th century” is a standard liberal way of grouping together Nazis, Communists, and anyone else who isn’t a liberal.

          • Gene Marsh says:

            Lofgren made an unflattering comparison.

            West made a batshit accusation:
            “Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party”.

            You made an equivocating wisecrack.

          • cthulhu delenda est says:

            30 seconds of googling leads to:

            West: “It’s a good question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. … It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

            On Facebook, West elaborated: “I stand by the point of my comments. The press wants to write gotcha stories and talk semantics, but just look at the words and actions of the Progressive Caucus. You can call them socialist, Marxist, communist or whatever you want, but the point is, they oppose free markets and individual economic freedom, they want to redistribute wealth, and they want to see the nation fundamentally transformed. Their policies are destructive and I will stand up to them regardless of the critics. Members of this Caucus lavished praise on Fidel Castro following a 2009 visit, just to name one example. The Communist Party USA claims the Progressive Caucus as its ‘ally.’”

            So Gene, dishonesty or motivated ignorance?

          • Gene Marsh says:

            “So Gene, dishonesty or motivated ignorance?”

            http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2012/apr/11/allen-west/allen-west-says-about-80-house-democrats-are-membe/

            Here’s rundown on non whig, federalists, dems or repubs. who’ve served in congress.

            Adams Democrat – 1 (House)
            American Laborite – 2 (House)
            American Party – 40 (House)
            Anti-Jacksonian – 44 (House)
            Anti-Mason – 30 (House)
            Conservative – 9 (8 House, 1 Senate)
            Conservative Republican – 2 (House, Delegate)
            Constitutional Unionist – 2 (House)
            Democrat Farmer Labor – 3 (House)
            Farmer Laborite – 13 (House)
            Free Silver – 1 (House, Delegate)
            Free Soil – 11 (5 House, 6 Senate)
            Greenbacker – 12 (House)
            Independent (unaffiliated) – 24 (20 House, 4 Senate)
            Independent Democrat – 27 (26 House, 1 Senate)
            Independent Radical – 1 (House)
            Independent Republican – 15 (14 House, 1 Senate)
            Independent Whig – 1 (House)
            Jackson Democrat – 1 (House)
            Jacksonian – A couple hundred, I’m not going to count them
            Law and Order – 1 (House)
            Liberal – 1 (House)
            Liberal Republican – 9 (6 House, 3 Senate)
            Non partisan – 1 (House)
            Nullifier – 13 (10 House, 4 Senate; one was in both)
            Oppostion – 14 (House)
            Populist – 45 (39 House, 6 Senate)
            Progressive – 23 (22 House, 1 Senate)
            Progressive Republican – 3 (House)
            Prohibitionist – 1 (House)
            Readjustor – 7 (5 House, 2 Senate)
            Silver Republican – 6 (4 House, 2 Senate)
            Socialist – 2 (House)
            State Rights Democrat – 2 (House)
            Unconditional Unionist – 24 (18 House, 6 Senate)
            Union Democrat – 2 (House)
            Union Laborite – 2 (House)
            Union Republican – 4 (House)
            Unionist – 51 (40 House, 11 Senate)

          • Nornagest says:

            Oh, for fuck’s sake. If Cthulhu’s quote is accurate, then in context West obviously means that as a rhetorical condemnation of the Progressive Caucus, not an accusation that its members are or have ever been literal members of the Communist Party of the US (whom I’ve never heard anything from, even when I was going to college at the hippest of hippie schools).

            I don’t, as it happens, agree with him — old-school communism is quite a different animal from the present-day American Left, even the parts of it that call themselves Communist but especially those that have seats in Congress, and I don’t think old-school Red-baiting has factual or rhetorical legs. But I can see what he’s trying to do.

            I realize that this commentiariat has pretty much thrown out nonpartisanship as a norm, but can we at least dial back the quote-mining? That shit’s worthy of Gawker.

        • Cauê says:

          Yes, this is a good example of Deiseach’s point.

          • Gene Marsh says:

            That point being “both sides do it”? Because if you like that insight you’ll love the centrist fan fiction of David Brooks, George Stephanopoulous, and Bob Schieffer.

          • Cauê says:

            I’d normally try to be less blunt, but… Gene, I don’t think you’re making your side look good here.

            But ok, maybe you don’t really think tribalism is something only the other tribe does (as it’s looking like). Can you give some examples of tribalism by liberals, so we can better understand each other?

          • Gene Marsh says:

            I went to grad school at UMASS in the nineties. While I didnt strictly object to identity politics, I was furious that the left abandoned labor in favor of it. I slowly came to see that corporations had no problem with identity politics and that’s what i understood neo-liberalism to be. Socially liberal fiscal corporatism that attends to photogenic tokenism but gives fuck-all about the people I identity with: disenfranchised underdogs of every demographic. Growing up in the early eighties hardcore scene I never shook the antagonism for the powerful and priveleged.
            In truth I’ve never met an SJW (i’ve read some Judith Butler?) and I don’t even know where to find them on the internet (I’m 48.) I’ve never been clear on what tumblr is. Could I get a link?
            From what I can tell it sounds like the NRx/Libertarians and Feminist/SJW share my least favorite traits. Utter certainty and rush to closure. Also no sense of humor. Humor and ambiguity is my bread and butter.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            “While I didnt strictly object to identity politics, I was furious that the left abandoned labor in favor of it.”

            That is all the left has left. Communism, central planning, nationalization- they have all been shown as failures. Strong social safety nets are all that is left but they aren’t compatible with relatively open borders.

            I mean just look at Bernie Sanders. Here are the 12 issues he thinks are important enough to list

            http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/recent-business/an-economic-agenda-for-america-12-steps-forward

            His glorious plan to improve the position of workers is doubling the minimum wage and cutting back on international trade. That is all that is left wing economic to improve people’s lives on his goals. They are both pretty loopy (he explicitly calls out NAFTA and CAFTA- exactly what does he think will happen if the factories shut down in Mexico and the wages double in the US).

            ” I slowly came to see that corporations had no problem with identity politics and that’s what i understand neo-liberalism to be. ”

            Sort of. The present is like the 1880s. The substantive issues about how society should be (slave vs free, planned vs market) are over, one side was totally eliminated and so tribalism filled the gap.

            “I’ve never met an SJW and I don;t know where to find them on the internet. For all the talk of them on this site there’s never a link.”

            Atheism Plus? You can also try Occupy Wallstreet’s progressive stack (where under privileged can override normal queue order)

            “But from what I can tell it sounds like the NRx/Libertarians and Feminist/SJW share my least favorite traits. Utter certainty and rush to closure.”

            Neoreactionaries are just people who have a big idea that explains everything. Unlike other versions of the grand idea (which seeks to solve politics) it declares the problem is not solvable in foreseeable future. Seriously, they don’t have concrete policy outlines for what their despot should do when they get into power- they are like Plato or Marx talking about the ideal/future state.

            Libertarians is so broad you can’t really make a blanket statement about them. People agree with libertarians until the moment they start disagreeing (see freedom of speech). Feminists have no defined definition. Even the MRA’s who think Western Feminism is poisonous because of its ideological underpinnings have no objection to the idea of women’s issues.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @Samuel Skinner:

            I don’t think your summary of Sanders’s viewpoint is fair. He’s not just proposing to double minimal wage, he’s proposing to:

            1). Improve roads and some other infrastructure
            2). Reverse climate change
            3). Make it easier to create worker-owned co-operatives
            4). Make it easier to create unions
            5). Raise minimum wage (he doesn’t say by how much)
            6). Raise the income of women (he doesn’t say how)
            7). Reduce outsourcing
            8). Cut college costs
            9). Break up big banks
            10). Create a single-payer health care system
            11). Expand social safety net programs
            12). Stop corporate tax evasion

            Of these, points #3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are aimed at directly supporting workers; the other points are aimed at supporting everyone, workers included.

            You might argue that some or all of these points are either impossible to implement or outright harmful, but that’s not the same thing as claiming that they are nonexistent.

          • Deiseach says:

            I was furious that the left abandoned labor in favor of it. I slowly came to see that corporations had no problem with identity politics

            Gene, I can certainly shake your hand in agreement on that. My own political views are that (up to really recently), I’d vote straight Fianna Fáil in every election and give the rest of my preferences to Labour.

            My own party have made such an ignoble steaming heap of cronyism, incompetence and greed out of being in power that I am rendered physically ill by the notion of voting them back into power in next year’s election, even after a chastening period in exile. So that’s out.

            I am not voting Fine Gael.

            Labour have more and more abandoned their roots as ‘the party of the working class’ (ironically as they absorbed/were taken over by – which it is depends on your view – more ideologically rigorous parties such as the remnants of The Workers’ Party).

            They have no problems with pushing a progressive, ‘identity politics’ agenda (the former Minister for Education in our current government and the former Tanáiste-cumMinister for Foreign Affairs, who is now the ex-leader of the party, were both out about being atheists and wanting to drag Ireland out of its backwards, priest-ridden past). As they have seen their working-class vote migrate to Sinn Féin, they keep chasing the undecided middle-class vote, and this in turn means they keep shedding working-class urban voters who perceive them as running to the centre.

            Campaigns such as the recent same-sex marriage referendum were the perfect expression for this; it was an easy, feel-good victory. Things like standing up to the senior partner in power on cuts to social welfare and the austerity budgets? Big talk before the election, rolling over and caving in afterwards.

            As you say, corporations have no problem with identity politics – indeed, one of the points urging voters to vote “Yes” in the referendum made by our Taoiseach was that if we wanted to attract multinationals, we needed to show we were a progressive society. The idea that big, foreign corporations should influence how our society was shaped, or the decisions the people took on national questions, slipped by unquestioned or unremarked upon – certainly not by Labour!

            So I’m probably going to reluctantly vote Sinn Féin – or more likely, any Independent candidates.

          • nydwracu says:

            I slowly came to see that corporations had no problem with identity politics and that’s what i understood neo-liberalism to be.

            Exactly.

            Anyone who agrees that this is a problem should go read this and the book quoted here. Capitalism isn’t pushing atomization out of the goodness of its heart.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            “I don’t think your summary of Sanders’s viewpoint is fair. He’s not just proposing to double minimal wage, he’s proposing to:”

            I only selected left wing policies. There are policies that have been done by both American political parties

            1 and 12

            Policies agreed upon by all Democrats

            2

            Policy declarations that are nonsensical

            4 (the requirement to form a union is 30% of workers), 6 (gender is already a protected category), 9 (The US financial industry’s relative size is smaller than many European countries in the categories he mentions)

            Policy’s that preferentially help the better off

            8, 11

            That leaves 3, 5, 7, 10

            I accidentally skimmed over 3; however it is not a program that would have a large impact (if the problem is workers don’t have a lot of money, making it easier for them to buy companies doesn’t help).

            He states the amount he wanted for 5 elsewhere
            http://cnsnews.com/news/article/ali-meyer/sen-sanders-touts-15-minimum-wage-says-employment-states-higher-wages

            I left out 10 because it isn’t clear how it differs from what Obama has provided

            And you are understating 7. It isn’t “ending outsourcing”
            “We must end our disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other low-wage countries. ”

            He openly states we need to eliminate our trade policies.

            “Of these, points #3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are aimed at directly supporting workers;”

            4 and 6 are already law- it is no more helping workers that arguing for women’s suffrage in 2015 is helping women.

            I missed 3, however the laws are already pretty favorable to syndicalism. It is leftist, but it doesn’t state any actual policies.

            5 and 7 I gave him as actual left wing economic plans. The state a novel policy and are aimed at improving specifically the position of workers. They happen to be nuts, but the question was “what policies are the left putting forth” and unique policy positions that differ from the right and neoliberal left are what he would be interested in.

        • randy m says:

          Was that a rebuttal or an example?

      • suntzuanime says:

        This result is perfectly compatible with that model, though. How do people know a bill will hurt non-SCWMs? Because it’s promoted by the Republican Party. How do people know a bill is nice and meritorious? Because it’s promoted by the Democratic Party.

        • Gene Marsh says:

          “How do people know a bill will hurt non-SCWMs? Because it’s promoted by the Republican Party. How do people know a bill is nice and meritorious? Because it’s promoted by the Democratic Party.”

          The first time I read that i thought you were being evenhanded.

  56. DrBeat says:

    I think Rickrolling really lost its impact when they monetized that video. It’s just not the same when you click a link and start hearing a Grey Goose vodka ad, instead of Never Gonna Give You Up’s distinctive opening.

    Truly, a tragedy of capitalism.

    • Eggo says:

      Wait, some people see ads on youtube? When did this start happening?

      • bartlebyshop says:

        After AdBlock came into existence. AdBlock updated to block Youtube ads extremely quickly once they started, because they are extremely annoying. I’m guessing you’ve had AB/NoScript installed for a long time?

  57. Orb says:

    Yeah, I would ban both Moldbug and the communists who complained from the conference.

    • Godzillarissa says:

      Not sure how many people you’d have to kick out, but watering down the bill with politically acceptable “experts” and has-beens might not be your best bet.

    • houseboatonstyx says:

      +

      It might be more efficient to ban anyone who objects to any qualified speaker because of any political reasons. If a speaker is qualified, zie has probably put zis energy into real accomplishments — though if zie has involved zirself in political flaps, zie may need a second look at zis common sense or zis interest in the field.

      • Belabored Yearning says:

        (to rephrase it):

        Ban attendees who have proposed banning attendees who haven’t themselves proposed banning attendees.

        It reminds me of Kantian style arguments that it’s irrational and immoral to tolerate the intolerant.

        • John Schilling says:

          “Ban the first person who calls for a banning”, seems to me little different than “shoot the first person who draws a gun”. If you want your gatherings to be as civil as possible, these are policies worth considering.

    • Gbdub says:

      Except that it sounds like Moldbug has something of value to give to the conference (a presentation on Urbit). Do his communist detractors have similar value to add? Seems that should be relevant on who to ban.

      • Viliam Búr says:

        Also, even if some of the communists do care about the conference and have something of value to add, they could simply select as their speaker someone who doesn’t. So the speaker gets banned, but doesn’t mind it.

        This is the advantage of numbers, and of having enough pawns to sacrifice.

    • Anonymous says:

      That supposes that the communists were actually planning to attend the conference.

  58. Daniel Speyer says:

    I suddenly had a desire to go back to this comment and leave a reply about gingerbread made with almond flour, but SSC blocks commenting on old threads, so I have to make do with leaving this comment.

  59. anon85 says:

    The fruit fly thing can’t explain homosexuality. No matter how many genes you find that cause homosexuality in males but are beneficial in females, the question remains: why didn’t evolution come up with a simple if-statement (if female, activate the gene, otherwise don’t)? Such an if-statement would be *tremendously* advantageous, and evolution had a billion years to figure it out.

    • Eggo says:

      “The evolution of condition dependent sexual dimorphism” from this university might be a good place to start looking.

      The TL;DR is that genomic imprinting has costs, and it’s actually surprisingly difficult for peacocks to pass on large, colourful tail feathers to their sons without it affecting their daughters.
      Genetics is hard, and evolution isn’t a wizard, basically.

      • anon85 says:

        Sure, but the whole point is to explain why it’s hard. Saying “the genes for gayness are beneficial in other ways” gives essentially zero information; what’s interesting here is why evolution can’t route around this with a simple if-statement or something.

        Evolution may not be a wizard, but if the prevalence of homosexuality reaches single digit percentages is most species, persisting for a billion years, that seems like a *huge* design flaw, and explaining it seems nontrivial to me.

        Think about it: eliminating homosexuality gives you a free ~5% reproduction advantage. Not only that, but this has held true for millions or billions of years in your ancestral environment. This should easily trump things like “slightly better eyesight”, which evolution successfully selects for. The only explanation I can think of is that getting sexual dimorphism consistently right is *extremely* difficult – harder than any problem evolution ever had to solve.

        What I would like is an explanation of why sexual dimorphism is so difficult. The fruit fly thing is irrelevant.

        • Eggo says:

          The answer is in one or more of those papers I linked above. They have _some_ understanding of the mechanisms that govern gene expression, and it’s fascinating to see the trade-offs involved in stuff like genomic imprinting.
          The costs of restricting gene expression can include birth defects, cancer, etc. So in a lot of cases it’s easier to tolerate traits that reduce fitness.

          I’ll try to find the one with the best high level explanation–can’t remember the title.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          if the prevalence of homosexuality reaches single digit percentages is most species

          if.

          • anon85 says:

            That “if” seems pretty true to me:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals

            but feel free to explain why you disagree.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I don’t see many numbers in that article; mostly it is “has been observed.” Moreover, there is a big difference between “homosexual behavior” and a strong preference that is evolutionarily problematic.

            Humans and sheep are the only mammals where a substantial number of males exhibit a strong preference for mating with males over females.

            I think that there are a fair number of bird species that form long-term households in which a a substantial number of pairings are male-male. But not most species.

          • anon85 says:

            So homosexuality is prevalent in humans, sheep, some birds, and fruit flies, and homosexual acts are common in many other animals, but you don’t view this as puzzling?

          • Douglas Knight says:

            The puzzle of it putatively persisting for billions of years is rather different from the puzzle of it persisting for a century or ten millennia. The resolution of the first puzzle is that it isn’t true.

          • anon85 says:

            I see, so I take it homosexuality separately evolved in humans, sheep, birds, and fruit flies, right?

            Can we at least agree that homosexual acts go back a billion years, since most animals engage in them? And supposing that’s true, why are we assuming that homosexuality is a relatively recent phenomenon?

          • Adam says:

            Sexual reproduction at all only developed about a billion years ago, and animals only appeared 600 million years ago.

          • anon85 says:

            @Adam you’re right, I should have said half a billion instead of a billion. I was rounding to the nearest order of magnitude.

        • John Schilling says:

          eliminating homosexuality gives you a free ~5% reproduction advantage

          How does that work? I’ll spot you 5% outright homosexuality, though I’m pretty sure that’s about half an order of magnitude high.

          So 5% of lesbians are Kinsey-6 homosexual. For almost all of human history, that has about zero effect on their fertility; they’re going to be pregnant every few years from menarche to menopause or death, they’re just not going to enjoy getting there. And they’re not going to have as stable a bond with the father, which will probably have some effect on overall reproductive fitness but not 5%.

          And 5% of men are Kinsey-6 as well, but even if we don’t force or shame them into marriage, so what? They pair up and go away, the rest of the male population looks at the effective 1.05 gender ratio and says (pick one):

          A: “Such a tragedy; 5% of women will go unloved!”

          B: “Now we don’t need to rape all the lesbians, and everything will balance!”

          C: “More women in the harems of the Alphas, and slightly better odds for the Betas!”

          At the individual level, yes, male homosexuality at least is a substantial evolutionary disadvantage and always has been. At the societal level, not so much. If the fundamental unit of human evolution is the tribe rather than the individual, then I’m not seeing the strong pressure to exclude every last trace of gayness that might be floating around the gene pool.

          • anon85 says:

            The fundamental unit of evolution *is* the individual: most evolutionary biologists that I respect argue against group selection.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            + on several points

            If the fundamental unit of human evolution is the tribe rather than the individual, then I’m not seeing the strong pressure to exclude every last trace of gayness that might be floating around the gene pool.

            If the unit of /whatever/ is the tribe, and most mothers have a husband to help with her children while gay uncles spend their time in monasteries and universities or trekking to see what’s over the mountain — then the more gay males the better. Up to some limit, which would be interesting to think about.

          • onyomi says:

            This would be especially true if homosexuality were more common in men than in women, since you don’t actually need all that many heterosexual men to keep women reproducing at their maximum possible rate.

            But I don’t think that is the case (I think female homosexuality is just as common as male?). Then again, lesbians’ preferences about whether or not to have sex with men were probably even less respected, historically, than men’s preferences about whether or not to have sex with women, so it may not matter too much.

          • Alraune says:

            The positive correlation between number of older brothers and homosexuality (assuming that hasn’t been refuted?) suggests that the relevant unit of selection in this particular case is The Y-Chromosome, acting in a fashion that’s optimized for life in a defaults-to-cousin-marrying society where every male is heavily related to every other male and the Y’s primary survival constraint is that you not get into a disastrous war with your own brothers.

          • Mary says:

            “And they’re not going to have as stable a bond with the father, which will probably have some effect on overall reproductive fitness but not 5%. ”

            Arguable. You do have to remember that he will have greater paternal confidence, which will help.

          • Mary says:

            “most evolutionary biologists that I respect argue against group selection.”

            Group selection has been observed in action. By breeding hens from the best laying coop, not the individual best breeders, they got a lot of nasty behaviors (such as hens killing other hens) down.

          • Adam says:

            The fundamental unit of selection is the gene, not the individual. If a particular gene is found in both males and females, and prevents males from reproducing but not females, it will still propagate.

          • anon85 says:

            @Adam Yes, the fundamental unit is the gene. But a gene that prevents homosexuality would give a huge evolutionary benefit.

            In addition, if gene A causes homosexuality in males but is beneficial in females, then first of all, it better be *really* beneficial in females (because it is devastating for the gene in males), and secondly, any gene B that adds an if-statement that says “if female, activate gene A; otherwise don’t” would be a hugely beneficial gene. So there’s still a puzzle here: why doesn’t B exist?

          • Adam says:

            How do we know these don’t exist? A gene’s existence doesn’t imply it’s universality. The overwhelming majority of people are not homosexual, presumably because of the overwhelming reproductive advantage due to not being homosexual. Look at all the other bad things that genes do. It’s very hard to completely remove any and all detrimental genes from an entire species.

          • anon85 says:

            @Adam, these other bad things don’t have a prevalence of 5% of the population. Many of them hardly affect the pre-reproduction age population at all (e.g. most cancers). 5% non-reproduction is huge! It’s so enormous that I can’t imagine any positive advantage that can outweigh it.

            Think about it this way: suppose there was a gene that caused people to kill themselves before they reproduce. And suppose that 5% of the population had this gene. Further, suppose that this behavior existed in many other animals, and indeed it might be hundreds of millions of years old. Would this not strike you as surprising?

          • Adam says:

            I don’t think it’s the case throughout animal evolutionary history that homosexuals had 0% probability of reproducing, and heterosexuals 100% probability. No doubt there is some difference between the two numbers, but clearly not enough to completely eliminate the behavior. I just don’t think it’s quite the drastically huge disadvantage you think it is. Plenty of gay people still have kids, especially gay women.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Group selection has been observed in action. By breeding hens from the best laying coop, not the individual best breeders, they got a lot of nasty behaviors (such as hens killing other hens) down.

            The argument against group selection is not that it is impossible in principle, but that the conditions necessary for it to work are so strict that they almost never arise in nature. It requires mutations to confer a ridiculously high ratio of rewards to the group versus damage to the individual, and minimal to no exchange of individuals between groups. Humans, of course, can artificially create an environment in which group selection happens. See Eliezer Yudkowsky’s “The Tragedy of Group Selectionism”.

            The fundamental unit of selection is the gene, not the individual.

            This.

          • anon85 says:

            Even if the disadvantage was 1% instead of 5%, that’s still too large for the gene to survive for long.

          • Careless says:

            @Adam: if they existed. the enormous benefit of the gene in females would make A spread to the whole population, basically, which would make B spread to the whole population. So you still wouldn’t see the situation we have now

        • Anonymous says:

          What I would like is an explanation of why sexual dimorphism is so difficult.

          A lot of things are difficult. Evolving an eye without a bass-ackward retina was difficult. Evolving testicles that could be stored inside the body cavity was difficult (though elephants have managed it). I’m not sure what’s informing your expectations here.

          • anon85 says:

            Putting the testicles inside the body, or getting the eye to not have a stupid blindspot, seem like nice advantages. But they can’t be solved using a simple if-statement. And they probably don’t give you a survival disadvantage that’s as high as 5% or even 1% (unless you believe that 1 in 20 chimpanzees in the wild get castrated by blows to the testes).

            I think there’s still a legitimate question about why the prevalence of homosexuality is as high as 5%, while the prevalence of other sexual dimorphism problems (e.g. intersex people) is generally 1% or less.

          • @anon85: last time I paid attention, the leading theory said that whether you were heterosexual or homosexual was determined by hormone levels in the mother at certain critical periods. It isn’t clear to me how that could be fixed without at least potentially messing up a whole lot of other stuff.

          • anon85 says:

            Well, the fruit fly article linked in OP suggested there was a gene that caused homosexuality in males but was beneficial in females. If that were the case in humans, that could indeed be solved by an if-statement (if female, activate gene).

          • But is “if female” actually straightforward to implement genetically? I mean, it’s not like a digital computer.

            How do genes activate and deactivate one another anyway? (I doubt it’s as simple as you’re suggesting.)

          • Adam says:

            Genes can do that, but I believe it’s mostly very early in the developmental process before sex is even established.

          • @Adam: I would vaguely suppose that it might be possible for a gene on the Y chromosome to deactivate the gene that (hypothetically) causes male homosexuality. But I strongly suspect that it isn’t that simple. 🙂

            (The most obvious problem: how does a gene that deactivates another gene identify the target? It can’t very well say “deactivate the 581st gene on the fourth chromosome”, so there must be some mechanism that links the two genes. Does the wrong gene sometimes get deactivated, or conversely, does it sometimes not deactivate anything? Does this mechanism only work for certain target genes, because of something about their structure?)

          • John Schilling says:

            We’re talking about chunks of neurobiology far too complex to be coded in single genes, of course. But if it takes a thousand genes to code for the proteins that will nudge an embryonic brain into building what puberty will later activate as a male-oriented sex drive, it may take only one gene to code for a protein that might throw a spanner in the works, blocking or competing for resources with one of the thousand.

            Put that protein on the Y chromosome, and Mr. XY gets a 99.9%-complete male-directed sex drive, as functional as e.g. an internal combustion engine that has every part perfectly placed save an undersized ignition coil. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, maybe it coughs and sputters intermittently, depending on how undersized the coil is, depending in turn on fine details of gene expression during fetal development.

            And, evolution being efficient but imperfect, there will also be genes (maybe the same genes) on the Y chromosome that retask most but not all of that now-idle machinery to make a female-directed sex drive. Depending on which genes get “broken”, when and to what extent their broken-ness manifests, you wind up with obligate homosexuality, bisexuality, partial or total asexuality.

            Maybe also some reproductively beneficial effect as well, but I don’t think anyone has found the smoking-gun candidate for that.

          • Adam says:

            @Harry,

            Embarrassingly enough, I used to originally be a biology major a lot time ago as an undergrad, and I should know this, but I completely forgot how it works. Someone here must actually be a biologist. I found a brief explanation from the NIH.

          • Ever An Anon says:

            As someone working with transcription factors (I’m on the bus to my lab as I write this), gene expression is a really poorly understood and complex system. We know more now than at any previous point in human history, and we do know quite a bit in absolute terms, but there is still more darkness than light total.

            The gist is that there are very few simple ‘switches’ involved. Each individual TF regulates dozens to tens of thousands of genes, and they tend to operate in concert with other transcription factors to form large complexes which do the real work. For extra fun, they are themselves transcriptionally regulated so there’s a hierarchy of factors, and related factors can sometimes substitute for one another if the one stops working even if their normal functions are different.

            That’s not to say there’s no rhyme or reason to it, quite the opposite, but it’s a complex and highly redundant system. There are probably several different paths to roughly the same endpoint, each with their own quirks, rather than a singular “gay gene” or even a “gay enhancer region.”

    • Harald K says:

      My suggestion for anyone inclined to speculate about evolutionary whys and why-nots still stands: Go out there and play with a genetic algorithm, and you’ll see soon enough how perverse they can be about not doing the “obvious” thing.

      • anon85 says:

        I’ve coded genetic algorithms before, thanks.

        I think this homosexuality issue still demands an explanation. If we just say “evolution doesn’t do the obvious thing, so don’t worry about it”, then the theory of evolution loses a lot of explanatory power. If we overuse antibiotics, will bacteria develop resistance? Well, you could say that “evolution doesn’t do the obvious thing”, so maybe not. This isn’t very useful though.

        • Harald K says:

          Then you know how much depends on your choice of representation! A simple if/then switch need not be simple at all.

          For antibiotics, we know bacteria develop resistance, because we’ve seen it. But there are also a lot of things, which from a naïve point of view might seem like similar threats, which bacteria are not good at developing resistance against (such as bleach).

          The point is that we can’t say very much without experimentation, or pretty knowledge of the genetic mechanisms involved.

          • anon85 says:

            Genetic algorithms can suck at certain things. But evolution in nature seems to suck less, which is why it can produce things that genetic algorithms can’t (such as intelligence). Even if for some reason evolution couldn’t come up with a solution to homosexuality, that would demand an explanation (for example, we have an explanation for why bacteria are vulnerable to bleach).

            The bleach example isn’t even that convincing: if you use low enough concentrations of bleach, so that 95% of bacteria survive in each generation, and if you did it for a hundred million generations, I fully expect some creative solutions on the bacteria’s behalf, even if full resistance to bleach is impossible.

          • Lesser Bull says:

            We have reason to think that nature can come up with a solution, since so many mammal species, including close kin, don’t have obligate male homosexuality.

          • How much obligate male homosexuality is there?

            I’m defining it as a strong dislike of sex with women. It seems to me that homosexual men who find sex with women less satisfying than sex with men, or not especially fun but not awful are much more common than those who’d actively avoid it.

            This also means that in societies where there is strong social pressure to have children (probably just about all of them until recently), there’s going to be less selective pressure against male homosexuality of all sorts.

  60. Orb says:

    Two simple arguments against open borders:

    1) The revealed preferences argument. If you’re an American, real estate is probably one of your top expenses. And if you’re reading this blog, you are probably paying a premium to live in a relatively safe area with lots of other smart people like San Francisco or New York. Empirically, there are tons of people who pay lots of money to live in nice neighborhoods away from loud, criminally inclined poor people. It’s not socially desirable to say that you want to live far away from poor people, but there seems to be a tremendous revealed preference for this and this revealed preference shouldn’t be dismissed IMO.

    2) The nuclear weapons argument. Let’s say the US gets a bunch of immigrants from the Third World. After they’ve lived here for a while, they start to demand voting rights. It’s not socially desirable to restrict voting rights for immigrants, and anyone who says it might be a bad idea is labelled as a “bigot” in the press. So they get them. Immigrants continue streaming in. The immigrants are less intelligent, more clannish, and more violence-prone than existing natives. They elect politicians who share those characteristics. The US becomes a more belligerent world power and a few decades later World War III starts. (Remember, our current peace is anomalous.)

    Another question for open borders advocates: what causal factors lead to the US having higher-quality institutions in the first place? My answer: To run a great company, you need great people. Companies that succeed like Google are extremely selective in who they hire. Running a great country is the same way. If your country is full of great people, you’ll have great institutions, great companies, great social norms, etc. If it’s full of lousy people you get the opposite. Laws and institutions are entangled with culture at a deep level.

    Arguably one of the best things about the US is we have these highly prestigious universities that elevate the status of smart people and put them in positions of power even though most of the citizenry isn’t very smart. (If you don’t believe me that this is an issue, just look at how smart people who don’t have fancy degrees, like Eliezer Yudkowsky, get treated in the press and by the population at large.)

    Open Borders advocates often use the rhetorical tactic of saying “well if great people are so valuable, then it makes sense to deport the lousy people already in the US, and clearly we don’t want to do that, right?” But this is a social desirability wedge. It’s not considered socially acceptable to say the US would be better off if high-crime, low-productivity populations were deported to Africa. But it might be true.

    We should expect that anti-open-borders people will stay quieter than pro-open-borders people because most of the anti-open-borders arguments don’t sound socially desirable. For example, I would hesitate before writing this stuff under my real name.

    I’m also annoyed by the motte-and-bailey tactic of advocating totally open borders but then retreating to just more skilled immigration if questioned. I’m in favor of admitting highly skilled, peaceful, friendly immigrants. I’m not in favor of open borders. They’re totally different and it’s dishonest to pretend that if the first is a good idea, the second is a good idea too.

    Personally, I’m willing to bite most of the bullets Open Borders advocates lay out. For example, I’m completely in favor of all us rationalists packing our bags, heading to an island somewhere, and only letting people in if they’re super-smart like us. It seems like common sense: in the same way it makes sense to be selective about your housemates and coworkers, why not your neighbors, political leaders, etc.?

    • Wrong Species says:

      I would be willing to have open borders but only if freedom of association was taken more seriously and people stopped trying to give welfare to everyone who enters the country. America had that policy in the 19th century and it seemed to work pretty well.

      • Freedom of association is the right to join political parties and hold political meetings , and you have it. What you think isnt being taken seriously needs to be called by another name.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Wikipedia tells me that freedom of association is “the right to join or leave groups of a person’s own choosing, and for the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of members.” I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that it only refers to political parties.

          • In what way is it not being taken seriously?

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            @AncientGeek: It is illegal.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @TheAncientGeek

            I can’t tell if you’re joking or not but employers are not allowed to discriminate on race/age/religion/etc. Businesses get in trouble by not catering to gay weddings. What I’m saying is that as long as people can get sued for discrimination, I think open borders is probably a bad idea.