Links 10/15: Take Back Your Link

In 1926, a rich guy died and willed all of his money to whichever Toronto woman could have the most babies in the next ten years. So began the Great Stork Derby.

For the past four decades or so, rich-country inequality has been increasing as labor gradually takes less and less of the pie; most people have blamed this on political or structural factors and expected it to get worse. A London economics professor suggests that it’s actually two demographic factors – the baby boom and the rise of China – creating lots and lots of new workers and driving the price of labor down. He predicts that from now on, as baby boomers retire and China shrinks, the trend will reverse and inequality will start decreasing back toward 1970s levels. Alternate still-pretty-good possibility: Africa booms as the new cheap labor source.

On the other hand, here are some people saying that 100% of the decline in labor’s share of income is due to intellectual property products.

The Yuan Percent: the children of China’s billionaires have nearly limitless wealth, but face the usual sorts of ennui and maladjustment that come with unearned riches. Their coping strategies range from taking over their parents’ businesses to becoming socially aware to retreating into a bubble of other rich kids to just partying a lot all the time. Also, one of them got a job with Uber and drives random people around in his Maserati.

The Wikipedia Entry For Guam, Retold As A YA Dystopian Novel

What’s the point of a bitcoin generating chip that doesn’t even earn back the electricity needed to power it? A micropayments revolution where you can pay $0.001 to watch a video without needing a linked bank account or anything.

US doctors have been busy this month switching over to the new ICD-10 diagnostic codes. These have been generally mocked as overly complicated, but the Internet has many helpful guides, including a primer on the OMG codes (OMG 000.30 – Injury to dominant hand from hitting computer screen due to ICD-10) and a refresher on Star Wars-related codes (U327.21A – Accident to, on or involving Alderaan when blown up by first Death Star, initial encounter). Once you’ve got them all down, commemorate your successful transition with the new coffee table book Struck by Orca: ICD-10 Illustrated

The mainstay of the Chabad Lubavitch armed forces is the Mitzvah tank.

A bunch of studies have come out in the past few years purporting to show that “poverty affects kids’ brains”, based on studies that show that poor kids have differently-structured brains than rich kids. These are always followed with calls to give better social/financial support to poor families with young children to help the kids develop better. I’ve always been really skeptical, on the grounds that it’s also possible poor families are poor because they have some characteristic that increases risk of poverty, which like many characteristics is expressed in the brain, which gets genetically transmitted to their kids, thus making their kids’ brains look different. So I wanted a randomized controlled trial giving poor families money and seeing if their kids’ brains develop differently. Well, now we are getting exactly that. I predict 66% chance it comes back positive (because things usually do) and 33% chance it comes back true positive and survives good replication attempts. Either way it is a win-win situation. If it’s negative, we have All Learned An Important Lesson. If it’s positive, then there’s a super-super easy way to improve kids’ long-term prospects and change the world. EDIT: Here’s a quasi-experimental look at some Cherokee Indians that does find an effect.

Nobels in Medicine go to two groups who came up with novel therapies for tropical parasitic diseases: one for the discoverers of avermectin, one for the discoverer of artemisin. Both are great drugs, both have saved tens of thousands, maybe millions of lives, and it’s good to see tropical medicine getting the recognition it deserves.

If you’re like me, you saw a couple years’ plateau in genome sequencing costs and started panicking that innovation had stopped and the Great Stagnation had taken over yet another domain. Well, good news: after a short hiatus, the cost of genome sequencing is falling faster than ever, and even the official statistics now correctly reflect that point.

No matter what their original views, Supreme Court justices get more liberal as they get older. 538 throws out hypotheses: they don’t want to get in trouble with the New York Times? They want to keep getting invited to the good cocktail parties? Really, these are some of 538’s hypotheses!

The island of Kiribati looks like what happens when a bored gamer has to come up with city names in their third Civilization IV game of the night.

Something I should have realized a long time ago: cells sometimes pick up a few extra mutations when they divide, but it doesn’t matter because throughout the zillions of cells in the body they all even out. Unless we’re talking about the first division of the fertilized zygote, or the first few divisions in the neural crest which is about to become the embryonic brain, or anything like that. Now scientists find these crucial developmental mutations lead to large populations of genetically different neurons in the adult brain. This ought to increase (by how much? I don’t know) our estimate of how much interpersonal variation is genetic. Even identical twins will have different post-fertilization mutations, so the old maxim that all differences between identical twins are non-genetic doesn’t really hold; since identical twins are the yardstick by which we judge everyone else, that means we have to revise those estimates as well. In other words, these sorts of mutations could make up part of what we previously called “non-shared environment”.

In the 1700s, the British famously discovered that citrus fruit cured scurvy, and the treatment became a well-known mainstay of the Royal Navy. So how come in the early 1900s, polar explorers kept dying of scurvy and none of them knew how to treat it? This is a really good article.

Mathematician James Stewart got rich writing a series of popular calculus textbooks. He used his fortune to create a calculus-related mansion called Integral House. When I get older I hope to be at least this eccentric.

Vox: India is as rich as the US was in 1881. I feel like this probably hides some important differences – if ‘access to cool modern technology’ wasn’t a factor, I would choose 1881-US or even 1731-US over modern India in a heartbeat – but still neat to think about.

I am a sucker for faux actual maps of conceptual space. You probably remember my map of the rationalist community. And I might or might not have previously blogged about the map of humanity, which I used to have hanging in my kitchen. Well, now there’s a map of literature. I wonder if there’s a way to get a paper copy…

One thing I love about the very early US was their weirdly earnest intellectualism/utopianism/classicism, which gives you all of these random farmers naming stuff after the Iliad and trying to write Homeric epics. Definitely from that genre: 19th-century Wyomingian George W. Corey wrote a Paradise-Lost style epic poem detailing Satan’s role in founding the Democratic Party.

Repealing Section 230, the law protecting websites from being sued for their commenters’ comments, is a really bad idea.

Secret Service broke its privacy rules to embarrass a critic. The most Third World thing I’ve heard of happening in this country for a while. Luckily they seem to be in big trouble for it.

China opens a Communist Party theme park. Currently mostly just statues and exhibits, but Twitter offers ideas for exciting rides like Pile Of Forty-Five Million Dead Bodies Mountain. No word on whether or not the log ride will have a soft landing.

More news headlines (1, 2) from the Department Of Rocks Pelting People.

Starts off okay: “An absolute and permanent ban on vivisection is not only a necessary law to protect animals and to show sympathy with their pain, but it is also a law for humanity itself…. I have therefore announced the immediate prohibition of vivisection and have made the practice a punishable offense…” Then gets kind of, what’s the word – ironic: “Until such time as punishment is pronounced the culprit shall be lodged in a concentration camp.” Animal welfare in Nazi Germany.

This list of ten commonly bungled historical quotes is notably mainly for the story of “There’s a sucker born every minute”. It wasn’t said by PT Barnum, but by his competitor, circus owner David Hannum. Hannum had bought the fossilized remains of the Cardiff Giant, Barnum had tried to buy it off him, Hannum had refused, so Barnum had made a fake copy. When thousands flocked to see Barnum’s fake, Hannum explained it away by saying “There’s a sucker born every minute”. Twist: unbeknownst to Hannum, the original Cardiff giant was also fake. So Barnum’s customers were suckers, Hannum was a sucker, and everyone who attributes this quote to Barnum is a sucker too.

Thieves rarely stay thieves for very long.

An older school starting age dramatically decreases risk of inattention/hyperactivity at age 7 (effect size of -0.7!), and this persists at age 11. Possible cause of secular increase in ADHD? This is going with all of the other studies into the “100% of problems are caused by school” bin.

Say what you want about California’s government in general, but this month they’re the latest (and largest) state to pass right-to-die legislation.

The majority of the world’s children are now in school, but don’t seem to be learning anything there despite developing countries sinking billions of dollars into education. This is going with all the other studies into the…you know the drill.

Prospect gives the leftist perspective on the narrowing of civic life – ie the decline of fraternal organizations, grassroots associations, and benefit groups.

Experiment: making someone consume sauerkraut juice makes them more likely to support Nazis. Paper suggests it’s because drinking a healthy-but-disgusting beverage means they’ve “done their good deed for the day” and are now free of having to worry about moral concerns, but I’m surprised they didn’t take the social priming aspect and say that sauerkraut primes German-ness. Related: meta-analysis finds small but robust effect of social priming.

One constant in the back-and-forth debate over immigration is that Muslim immigration into Western Europe has gone exceptionally poorly. Or so I thought – Marginal Revolution reports that 40 – 60% of Middle Eastern/African/Muslim immigrants in France marry someone who is “neither an immigrant nor a descendent of immigrants”, suggesting an impressive level of assimilation. Still don’t know whether that means ethnically-French people or ethnically-Middle-Eastern people whose families immigrated more than one generation ago.

I asked some people who had read Albion’s Seed why we attribute a lot of American South/Appalachian culture to the Scots-Irish when neither the Scots nor the Irish display those cultural features. Their answer: Scots-Irish is a euphemism. American Southerners and Appalachianites are actually descended from the Border Reavers.

Julia writes about preventing child sexual abuse. It says about 10% of people are sexually abused as children, which is much higher than I would have expected before going into psychiatry, whereas now I constantly have to remind myself that occasionally some people aren’t.

Fiesta Cookware was a 1950s fad. Like all 1950s fads, it played into nuclear mania; in this case, by including uranium-based paints to give it its cool radioactive-looking color. Since having uranium in the things you eat off of is clearly the best idea, you may be regretting you were not around in the 1950s to enjoy it. Regret no longer – it’s back on sale for $25 a plate from United Nuclear, which advertises that they are “great for radiation demonstrations, classroom/educational use, as a geiger counter test source, and certainly an item for collectors”.

The easternmost point in the United States is in the Virgin Islands and is named Point Udall. The westernmost point in the United States is in Guam, and is named Point Udall. Truly did Bill Clinton say “The Sun will never set on the legacy of Mo Udall.”

A lot of news sources recently reported that Tsinghua University has topped MIT for best engineering school. QZ does some decent investigative reporting and finds that this is only true if you measure by sheer quantity of papers. Apparently Tsinghua produces lots and lots of papers but they aren’t very good.

One of the lynchpins of the Fermi Paradox/Great Filter argument is that if advanced alien civilizations existed elsewhere in the Universe, we would have detected them by observing the megastructures they would build around their star(s) – but we haven’t, so they don’t. Now, for the first time, Kepler has detected a star that looks like it has a megastructure around it. But before you get too excited, it could also be some kind of exotic planetary collision or weird cometary cloud or something. Scientists have already applied to SETI to get radio telescopes pointed that direction to see if they pick anything up.

We’re always told that we need seven to eight hours’ sleep, but hunter-gatherers seem to make do with six and a half.

Via a Marginal Revolution article on a philosophy paper about how there shouldn’t be philosophy papers, I found Nathan Robinson’s blog Navel Observatory. It’s kind of one-third Freddie deBoer, one-third Brian Tomasik, and one-third weird humor. This article reminded me of my “Niceness, Community, and Civilization”: Is There A Principled Distinction Between Refusing To Watch American Sniper And Refusing To Read Fun Home?. And this one reminded me of my “Toxoplasma of Rage”: Keeping The Content Machine Whirring. Mr. Robinson also has a bunch of weird leftist childrens’ books on Amazon with titles like The Day the Crayons Organized an Autonomous Workers’ Collective and The Mayor of New Orleans Gets Her Way: A Child’s Urban Planning Toolkit.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

677 Responses to Links 10/15: Take Back Your Link

  1. Urstoff says:

    Alternative SC hypotheses:

    Peer pressure from the older (and already liberal) fellow justices — a self-reinforcing cycle
    Accruing wisdom through age

    • Creutzer says:

      I remember hearing some reasonable-sounding explanation from someone from the law scene that was somehow based on what kind of cases the judges take or don’t take, which was said to vary with age. I could have sworn it was on popehat, but Google failed me.

      • I wonder if there is a general tendency for people’s views to shift in the direction of those around them with age. Supreme Court justices are in Washington D.C. elite culture which I suspect is more liberal than the U.S. population and more liberal than the culture many of them were part of before joining the court.

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          What I am more worried about is bias among the intellectuals might be self-reinforcing (you will only hear the best arguments only for the side intellectuals are on). So it might not just be social network effects, you really might be going with the best argument, it’s just that the two sides don’t have “equal representation.”

          • Best arguments, as in, most effective arguments for the kind of people who consider intellectualism high-status and admirable. So it really depends on the social standing of intellectualism as such in general and in various subgroups.

            Now of course, that is true that lawyers, judges etc. are a group where this is very, very high.

            Actually it just occured to me how deep historical roots it has. Over two millenia ago, Cicero-as-a-politician and Cicero-as-a-philosopher was inherently linked to Cicero-as-a-lawyer. Insofar the Western tradition for public life is built upon a Roman tradition, it is built upon a lawyer tradition. In fact, public intellectuals, political philosophers can be seen as pre-lawyers. One of the most interesting – and from here the reactor compartment, the weirdest – thing I’ve read lately is Rawls being regularly referred to in US courtrooms.

            So, the influence of intellectualism on politics is a consequence of the rule of law(yers). Hm.

        • James D. Miller says:

          Republicans should try to move the Supreme Court to a more conservative city.

        • ryan says:

          That’s the cocktail party invite hypothesis which Scott mysteriously mocks. What’s up with that Mr. Psychiatrist? Supreme Court Justices are not human beings concerned with acceptance from their peer group?

          • Vorkon says:

            You know, I was just about to reply to David Friedman’s post above with, “isn’t that saying essentially the same thing as the ‘cocktail parties’ explanation from the article?” and I too was a little confused by the vehemence of Scott’s rejection of that explanation, but it seems to me that if you’re trying to convince someone of your point of view, “What’s up with that, Mr. Psychiatrist?” is a particularly bad way to go about doing it.

          • Jordan D. says:

            I don’t know any federal Supreme Court Justices, but if I were going to extrapolate from the state politics and judges I’m more familiar with…

            I expect that the Justices are more likely to have groups of friends made of the people they practiced with or from professional associations they’re members of, and each one is a sufficiently powerful political actor that they don’t really feel much pressure to ‘fit in’ by adjusting their opinions.

            IME, judges take ‘don’t talk about cases in front of you or which you’re likely to get’ pretty seriously, so I strongly expect that any outside influence has to come in either at the subconscious or the meta level. My pet theory, which has no evidentiary support that I’m aware of, involves each Justice having political commentators which they prefer to get their news from and their opinion shifts tracking those sources.

          • Just for completeness, I’ve seen the argument that Supreme Court justices are exposed to good lawyers, and the better arguments tend to be on the left.

          • brad says:

            One interesting thing about the lawyers before the Supreme Court is that almost all of them are top notch lawyers. The solicitor general’s office (which represents the federal government to the SCOTUS) is an extremely prestigious place to work. The way private sector representation works is that if you are a rich corporation you hire very expensive supreme court specialists, but if you are poor (say a prisoner or a non-profit) these same very expensive supreme court specialists take your case for free because it helps them get those rich corporate clients.

            The one exception, and virtually the only time you have mediocre lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court, is when a state government or agency is a litigant and which ever lawyer is in charge decides that they are going to handle it themselves instead of hiring a specialist.

            Now it isn’t the case that state appellants are always advancing “conservative” positions and in any event they don’t make up all or even most of the docket, plus often they do bring in a specialist, but your comment about lawyers made me think that perhaps it could contribute a little.

    • Devilbunny says:

      Fiestaware is still produced, although without the uranium glaze. It’s not just a Fifties craze. I have a cabinet full of Fiestaware plates, bowls, and serving pieces, as do my in-laws. It’s reasonably attractive, it’s been around forever (so replacements are easy to obtain when they break), and it can tolerate being heated in an oven. What’s not to like?

  2. pterrorgrine says:

    God dammit, I’ve been meaning to post that “Scott and Scurvy” article in every open thread for months, but there are always too many comments for me to bother. Now you beat me to it and there are hardly any comments! It is a fucking fantastic article, though.

  3. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Paradise Lost is blank verse. So why did George W. Corey try to write couplets, then fail so spectacularly?
    Samuel Johnson would be ashamed that this man shares his view of Satan’s politics.

    • chaosmage says:

      If we could ever know,
      I’d bet he did it so
      he’d play a tougher game
      and therefore gain more fame.

      Of course his wasting time
      on less than stellar rhyme
      and addled meter would
      besmirch what fame he could
      have got for couplet form.
      The couplet, as a norm,
      itself does not demand
      significant command
      of skill and may well seem
      a rookie’s rhyming scheme.

      A B A B rhyme will
      (at least to me) appear
      to prove a bit more skill.
      Of course I’m biased here.

  4. Douglas Knight says:

    Labor’s share of the pie is not shrinking. Inequality is rising because of changing distribution within labor. One of the key ingredients is increasing income in finance, but that’s payment for labor in finance, not returns to capital.

    Maybe the first link about demographics is relevant for explaining the real phenomenon, but it’s a red flag. The second link probably is about explaining a very small phenomenon. It is very easy to explain small phenomena, so people do it a lot.

    • Zaq says:

      Unless you’re using some non-standard definitions, that’s not true.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Accepting your link for the sake of argument, although it is by no means the only standard, it claims a slow decline from 1940-2000 and a fast decline since then. In particular, it says that nothing changed in 1975, when inequality started increasing.

        The first link is trying to explain the nonexistent change in 1975, so is confused. The second link is about the trend since 1940, so it is fine in its domain, as I said, but nonsense if it is interpreted as explaining inequality since 1975.

  5. DanielLC says:

    If they repealed section 230, how hard would it be for websites to have comments sections that are actually embedded websites hosted on the commentators’ servers?

    • Evan Þ says:

      Unfortunately, without Section 230, companies wouldn’t be able to safely rent server space to private individuals. So, each commenter would have to literally have his own server… which would be prohibitively difficult for nontechnical people to configure, not to mention expensive, and even more so to scale to prominent websites’ traffic loads.

      • roystgnr says:

        Without Section 230, would ISPs even be able to safely connect individuals’ servers to the internet? Or individuals’ clients, for that matter? If I read some horrible thing that was sent by Joe User’s server to Comcast who sent the packets to AT&T who sent them to me, what else keeps Comcast and AT&T from being liable?

        • Marc Whipple says:

          Intermediate carriers of defamatory information are not liable if they had no way to know that the information they were carrying was defamatory. If I send a defamatory letter to the NYT, the USPS cannot be sued for contributing to the defamation.

          Technically, if the data is not encrypted, the intermediate carriers could read it, but there are several dodges, the simplest of which is to require everything to be at least mildly encrypted. We could deal with the carriers. Hosts, however, would be SOL.

    • LHN says:

      I’d also ask if every country in the world has an equivalent to Section 230? I’m particularly curious about the UK, which already has active forum shopping for defamation cases, but are there generally jurisdictions in which site owners are taking their fates into their hands by having comments?

    • Echo says:

      Isn’t the whole point that they wouldn’t be able to? Eliminating comments and the ability of anyone-who-isn’t-them to speak is the open goal of these… people. Any solution we came up with to allow speech would be a “loophole” to be closed with further laws and enforcement.

    • Whoah. That’s basically Urbit logic, if I get the idea behind Urbit right.

      But how would one keep that anonymous?

    • gattsuru says:

      It’d be architecturally very difficult, for three big reasons. In order to host an embedded website

      * You must have a constantly-active internet connection, ideally with a static IP address or DNS name. While this isn’t too hard to do with experience, it is not easy and can require calling up your ISP. We’re relatively unlikely to see homes move away from the NAT/PAT that makes it complicated.
      * You must run a constantly-active server. With many people turning off their computers or having irregular power outages, this is not a trivial change, and the cost can add up over time (a 300 watt machine running 24/365 at 12 cents a KWH costs three hundred USD a year). Devices like Raspberry Pis or other embedded servers are an alternative (typical annual electrical costs closer to 10 USD), but add additional setup time. Phones are more consistently active, but their battery life and provider limitations make for poor web servers.
      * You must have a reliable web server service. An Apache service isn’t nightmarish to install and comes pre-built on some installs. Keeping it safe and secure, however, is not. And, of course, if you want anything novel or complicated, well, web app deployment is suffering.

      This is doable, but it’s very hard and most people won’t put in the effort. Worse, it’s not sure it’d be any help. Legally, right now, linking to a web page does not count as publication or republication of defamation — and this isn’t dependent on Section 230, but on some (fairly arcane) attributes of judicially determined law. So that’s good. But the downside of judicially-determined law is that it’s only as useful as the judges implementing it: a serious push against Section 230 might well give cause to reconsider the “link as highway sign” doctrine on its own, and there’s certainly nothing preventing it from being redefined by statute.

      A more likely solution is for major web services to host comments, but to do so on a server and through a corporation situated well outside of the United States and with few assets within the United States. This is already a pretty common strategy to avoid copyright complaints.

      Of course, that’ll still completely demolish comments as default assumption, or for integrated services run within the United States, as well as undermining the ability to handle [i]actually bad[/i] comments and leaving more people vulnerable to exploit.

    • RCF says:

      With the repeal of 230, would email companies be liable for what people say in email messages? If not, what if comments were structured as email? Instead of commenting, you send an email containing your comment. If you want to read other people’s comments, you send a [READ][n/t] email, and everyone’s comments are sent to you as comments. There could then be programs that seamlessly give the same interface as normal commenting systems. When you hit “submit comment”, it sends on email, when you click “read comments”, it gets the comments and arranges them according to codes included in the comments (there would be tags indicating parent comment, etc.)

      Really, the concept of “publisher” is rather unnatural in the internet age.

    • brad says:

      The concern seems a bit overblown. The U.S. First Amendment already makes it difficult to sue for a variety of speech torts before even considering the because internet law. Also, the common law of defamation has a more nuanced category of innocent disseminators that seems to better balance the concerns at stake than the absolute immunity of section 230. That rule would shift the burden to the website owner where he knew or should have known the material posted on his site was defamatory.

      • Andrew G. says:

        The reason — or at least one of the primary reasons — for section 230 immunity was to ensure that online services were able to filter and moderate content without incurring liability. The legal decisions prior to the creation of the law had created — or had the potential to create — an environment in which any attempt to remove content that was inappropriate for any reason might result in a judgement of liability for other content not removed.

        It’s possible that further case law might have eventually resulted in a workable position on online innocent dissemination that still allowed moderation to exist, but that wasn’t the way things were headed at the time. In fact it took five or more years to stamp out the myth of “remove even a single thing and you become liable for everything” which so many providers had bought into, even though there was less than a year between the ruling in Stratton-Oakmont v. Prodigy and the passing of section 230.

  6. Vaniver says:

    American Southerners and Applacahianites are actually descended from the Border Reavers.

    Ack! Keep the coastal South–i.e., plantation culture–separate from the mountainous South–i.e., Appalachia. The former is primarily from southern England, and is descended from the Royalist faction in the English Civil War and indentured servants, and the latter is primarily from the borderlands.

  7. JK says:

    In the 1700s, the British famously discovered that limes cured scurvy

    Lemons, not limes. One of the points in that article was that limes don’t really work.

    • C says:

      Or, limes work, but they’re less effective. (1/4 the vitamin C.)

    • Mary says:

      Probably leave you Vitamin C deficient, but there’s a large region between “adequate” and full blown scurvey.

    • anon says:

      The method of preparation of the juice mattered more than the original fruit. Vitamin C rapidly breaks down in contact with copper — juice prepared in glassware is significantly more effective than one prepared in copper cookware.

      This made figuring out the cause of scurvy not just hard but even sort of anti-inductive, as the tools the researchers used for trying to separate the curative agent usually destroyed it.

  8. C says:

    > In the 1700s, the British famously discovered that limes cured scurvy

    *Lemons*. They first used lemons.

    • Vaniver says:

      Part of the point here is that they weren’t quite clear on the difference between lemons and limes when they discovered the impact lemon juice had on scurvy.

      • Randy M says:

        Lousy Limeys.

      • Chris Conner says:

        And we’re still not clear on the relationship of lemons and limes today. The genus Citrus is a bewildering maze of hybrids. Plain old lemon is Citrus × limon, a hybrid of the citron, C. medica, and the pomelo, Citrus maxima…probably. Or it could be a hybrid of C. medica and the bitter orange, C. × aurantium, which is itself a hybrid of C. maxima and the mandarin, C. reticulata.

        The West Indian lime, also known as the Key lime, is Citrus ×aurantiifolia, a hybrid of C. medica and the papeda, C. micrantha. But if you simply say “lime,” unmodified, most people will think of the Persian lime, C. × latifolia, a hybrid of unknown parentage, but it’s probably a cross between C. aurantiifolia and either C. × limon or C. medica (that is, a hybrid of the Key lime and either the lemon or the citron).

        So while we no longer classify the lemon and the Key lime as being varieties of C. medica anymore, they both are descended from C. medica, and the Persian lime might even be descended from the lemon. And there is still wide disagreement among taxonomists over what members of Citrus should be called species on their own and what should be grouped as varieties of a species.

        To confuse matters, there are many other species called limes, some of them hybrids decended from C. medica, some not. Plus a few C. limon hybrids such as the Meyer lemon and the Imperial lemon. To further confuse matters, Citrus limetta is known as both the sweet lemon and the sweet lime.

        Good luck figuring out the vitamin C content of all of these. Since this has been shown to be a life-and-death decision, if you are planning an Antarctic expedition, perhaps you should forget about citrus fruits and pack rose hips instead, which are much higher in vitamin C content anyway.

        To confuse matters, there are many other species called limes that

        • Doctor Mist says:

          @Chris Conner:

          To confuse matters, there are many other species called limes that

          That what? What!?

          I thought the original article was interesting, but I was really caught up in your comment. Don’t leave me in suspense!

          • Chris Conner says:

            …that were going to be mentioned later in my post, but then got copied up earlier in the post, and then were forgotten about and not noticed when I didn’t scroll all the way back down to the bottom are found in the genus Tilia, not closely related to Citrus and which produce no fruit. Outside the British Isles, they are usually called basswood or linden trees. The wood is particularly suited to decorative carving.

          • The Anonymouse says:

            Also particularly suited for love songs.

    • suntzuanime says:

      “How well do limes cure scurvy if you call a lemon a lime? Not very well. Calling a lemon a lime doesn’t make it one.”

      • FeepingCreature says:

        Subtle, but I spot the hidden linguistic absolutism in the phrasing of “make it”, implying there is an objective definition of what’s necessarily a lime!

        So yes, calling a lemon a caller!lime does make it one. It doesn’t make it a writer!lime, but if everybody calls it a lime, then the writer of writer!lime is not participating in discourse.

        • Anonymous says:

          Linguistic prescriptivism is helpful in small doses for ensuring that anyone at all can participate in discourse. One of the big problems with the lemon-lime thing is that writer!limes were much less useful for scurvy, no matter how useful caller!limes were. If the callers had been using the writers’ term, the scurvy cure wouldn’t have been lost. Since they weren’t, eventually the writer!limes got substituted where the writer!lemons should have been used. This was a rather natural development given that lemons and limes were different things to the educated sots who were making procurement decisions. Keep asking for lime juice, and you’ll eventually get it.

          If everybody had been calling lemons “limes”, the problem would have proceeded even more quickly, since there wouldn’t in the first place have been a period in which writers knew that lemons in particular were what actually worked. It’s advantageous to conform to the terms used by the least ambiguous speakers, especially on medical matters.

  9. Yildo says:

    As a left-winger, I dislike being called “leftist”. Are there other left-wingers who self-identify as “leftist”, or is it a slur?

    I suppose the phrase “I am a leftist” does get some Google hits, but I’m not sure how representative a sample that is.

    Also, do some right-wingers call themselves “rightists”? The word has a Wikipedia article, but only 5% as many Google hits.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Is there a better word? “Liberal” runs into US/Europe issues, plus a lot of leftists hate being called liberal because they read it as “capitalism is okay but we need to restrict it just a teensy bit more”

      • Good Burning Plastic says:

        Is there a better word?

        The third word in the post you’re replying to is a suggestion for such a word.

        • anon says:

          The only difference between the two as far as I can see is that left-winger is harder to type/pronounce and thus conveys more respect. Leftist and rightist are both shortenings for -winger.

          • gbdub says:

            I always thought “winger” was more of a slur, e.g. “wing-nut”. It implies you’re fringe. Whereas “leftist” / “rightist” can just mean you lean mostly one way or the other.

          • DavidS says:

            Funny. At least in the UK this isn’t remotely how the terminology reads. Left-wing and right-wing are very normal statements. I associate them with wing as in ‘side’, i.e. left-wingers sit on the left in the French Assembly or whatever the term comes from.

            “Leftist” and “rightist” somehow indicate extremism and ideologues.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t let the leftists censor you Scott. It starts with “please consider this synonym” but before you know it you’ve been photoshopped out of your family picture book. You know what a leftist is, we know what a leftist is, so when we want to talk about leftists, let’s use the word leftist, why not so?

        • DavidS says:

          I’m not sure you know what censorship means. Combining this and the fact it;s a pretty vague term, I imagine you don’t know what leftist means.

          Also, the ‘You know what an X is, we know what an X is, so when we want to talk about Xs let’s use the word X’ could be applied to any openly prejudiced epithet you wanted, from the well known racist epithets to ‘blegg’ or whatever.

      • Kevin Orff says:

        “Genocidal commie idiot” is a better word.

      • ryan says:

        Use the color code. Blues, Reds, Grays.

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Is there a better word?

        Rightish and leftish? 🙂

    • HlynkaCG says:

      I know a fair number of Red Tribers, including myself, who’ll use “Righties” to refer to themselves and allies. Interpret that as you will.

    • nil says:

      I call myself leftist. It’s a good way to differentiate myself from liberalism (as I’m far too critical of both capitalism and natural rights for that to fit) without calling myself a socialist/communist/Marxist (which I don’t want to do partly because of the emotional reactions but mostly because I don’t consider myself sufficiently well-read to give Marxism a proper defense).

      • Marc Whipple says:

        Ironically, being insufficiently well-read is the only way to give Marxism a proper defense.

        • nil says:


        • Anonymous says:

          I would say that Marxism’s best defenses are hyper-intellectualized. They’re produced by the most ivory of towers. They’re also very difficult to read. Figuring out which ones have a point and which ones don’t is a task akin to tracing a very foreign dialect. It is always necessary to have a dictionary handy, it is occasionally necessary to diagram sentences, and sometimes one even has to trace cognates. Academic writing has evolved independently of the common tongue. I wonder if such dialects have developed in any languages other than english?

          Having done some recreational translations from academia, I’ve seen arguments that almost persuaded me. They at least made me find Marxist analysis more intellectually respectable. If I had been persuaded, I might try to publish common dialect translations out of that space in order to persuade others. I’m not a Marxist, so my motivation to break down the communication barrier ends at pointing out that it exists.

          • Marc Whipple says:

            Ah, but you missed my point. My point is not that you can’t be highly learned and defend Marxism. My point is that you can’t be well-read and defend Marxism, because my definition of well-read includes “having read things other than Marxist books, like maybe some psychology books or even a history book or two.”

          • Cet3 says:

            And you honestly believe no Marxists have ever read psychology and history books?

    • Will S. says:

      I refer to myself as a leftist, as in I have anticapitalist, antiracist, anti-imperialist, antipatriarchal beliefs but either don’t identify at all, or at least not strongly, as a Marxist, anarchist, socialist, etc.

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        I’m anti- some different things, but otherwise I’m in a similar gap. I’ve been calling myself ‘leftist’ or ‘far left’ to indicate ‘out there somewhere, voting for the furthest left option on each ballot, and for the furthest left candidate who can get things done’. I agree with the Blues on most current issues (except the SJW stuff). As a classic feminist here, aka Second Wave) I hereby repudiate the sort of women who have been criticizing the Scotts.

        As for other commentors who have been criticizing this Scott and SSC, I suggest that they read first, then

        I didn’t see what I was looking for, though; it was something about a blogger using zis own taste/reactions to get rid of comments and/or people who didn’t fit. Thus the blog would be shaped to a certain style, better than rules could do it.

    • suntzuanime says:

      I know some leftists who spit at “liberals” and use the term to distinguish themselves from the cowards who would never strangle a kulak to death. Are you saying you’d prefer the term “left-winger”? This whole thing strikes me as a little silly. Why are leftists left-wingers so fascinated by running on the euphemism treadmill?

      • Randy M says:

        I know 8 years ago Hillary Clinton said she prefers Progressive at a debate, so that’s what I go with. There is a bit of irony inherent in a non-believer using the term, admittedly.

        • Both “progressive” and “liberal” have the problem of assuming their conclusion. I don’t regard leftists as progressive because I don’t, on the whole, consider the changes they want to be progress. I don’t regard them as liberals because I don’t think they are in favor of more freedom.

          Of course, I am also unhappy that the enemies of liberalism stole its name, so prefer not to endorse the theft.

          And conservatives are not all that conservative–at least not the ones who would like to undue the New Deal changes, which have been part of our system for eighty years or so.

          “Right” and “left,” although they have their own problems, don’t embody any linguistic claims of importance—nobody much cares how the French arranged themselves in the National Assembly.

          • LHN says:

            Not even the French, who’d essentially abandoned Left and Right for the Mountain and the Plain by 1792.

          • Randy M says:

            Yes, and since I don’t assume the conclusion, I see the hubris in the term. When being charitable, I try to keep that out of my tone, but either way I’m using their term.

          • RCF says:

            “Progress” denotatively is change, and connotatively is good. “Progressive” positions are generally the first (although not always); it’s mostly the second that’s being assumed. What’s also notable about the term “progressive” is the way it conflates change and good; there’s definitely a valence of treating change being a value in itself.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Not all change is positive and thus not all change is “progress”.

        • Garrett says:

          One of the problems I have with this is a lack of connection to the progressive movement, from the 1890s to the 1930s. This was a movement that said we could improve humanity (the eugenics movement) as well as social order through prohibition. To the extent that large government works were done, they were effective. The best example is the Hoover Dam.
          Now California has managed to bind itself in red tape so that the high-speed rail it was mandated to build wasn’t even able to start construction on the segment between two inconsequential towns in the same amount of time.

        • RCF says:

          There’s also some irony, if not hypocrisy, in that she referred to not saying the pledge of allegiance as an assault on our heritage (along with implying that it disrespects the troops), thus implying that she considers tradition something that should be valued for its own sake, and should take precedence over such silly things as treating minorities with respect.

      • Captainbooshi says:

        Why are left-wingers so fascinated by running on the euphemism treadmill?

        Well, I would say that it’s because we believe semantics are important. They govern how other people view us and how we view ourselves. They can be both a critical defensive and offensive tool, so nailing them down correctly can be both a crucial and unending task.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Semantics are important, no doubt, but you seem to be confused about the direction of causality. Meaning flows from reality into the lexicon, not vice-versa. That’s why the euphemism treadmill exists, because swapping one word for another does not change the underlying reality and whatever negative associations were associated with one word will simply come to be associated with the other as long as the thing in reality they are associated with is viewed the same way.

          I can appreciate the Orwellian desire to change the shape of people’s thoughts by changing the shape of their language, but swapping one word out for another doesn’t really change the shape of the language, just puts a new coat of paint over it.

          • ryan says:

            I don’t think that’s true. The negative associations of sexual perversion haven’t carried over to sexual preference, for example.

          • DavidS says:

            Surely it’s a mix, if only because language encodes assumptions and therefore makes them stickier than they would be otherwise. You might say that in that regard it’s inherently conservative.

            Obviously if the real-world association is strong, replacing the word doesn’t help – that’s clear from several overly-optimistic attempts to do so. But often terminology developed in the context of different views, but still survives.

          • Randy M says:

            Well we no longer recognize the concept of sexual perversion. There’s no such thing as a bad kink, just a partner who hasn’t consented to it vigorously enough.

          • Devilbunny says:

            ryan: this is in no small part because we have sterilized the discussion of gay sex. When my wife and I were newly married, we lived in a duplex with a constantly shifting cast of characters in the other half. Our longest-lasting neighbors in three and a half years were a gay couple. One was a bartender who would occasionally go to big gay events like Southern Decadence (the name is a hint to how they viewed themselves) in New Orleans to practice his trade (he could make $1000+ a night in tips). The stories they told would have stunned the average middle American who accepts gay rights on a well-they-love-each-other-who-are-we-to-judge level. Those guys would have bareback sex with anything warm, willing, and concave, and I say that as someone who really doesn’t care what consenting adults do behind closed doors.

      • Nornagest says:

        The liberal thing actually makes a bit of sense to me; liberalism is a well-defined intellectual viewpoint with a well-defined history, though the waters get a bit muddied in the States, and the socialist cluster is profoundly opposed to most of the stuff it stands for. Even if it happens to temporarily agree on some incidental stuff like civil rights.

        Distinguishing between leftist/left-winger, on the other hand, seems silly. The only way I can make sense of it is if you want to drop the -ism as a way of saying you’re not into ideology, but that just exchanges incoherent for extremely wrong.

      • whateverfor says:

        It doesn’t really matter that much, but Leftist is a term used mostly by the right (Just google Leftist and look at the results), so seeing it triggers an unconscious not-my-tribe defense response. There’s nothing wrong with left wing or lefty or anything like that.

        If you want a guess at analysis: when someone inside the left wants to use an -ist label, they will tend to call themselves socialist or liberal. Leftist comes from a kind of outgroup-homogenity bias perspective. There’s nothing inherently wrong with term, but when it’s mainly used by the right discussing the left it will pick up negative connotations.

        • Anonymous says:

          Doesn’t fleeing the outgroup’s terms just create a treadmill? If everyone the right calls leftist calls themselves lefty, the right will eventually pick up lefty, forcing those who called themselves lefties to flee to another term. If lefties flee to left-winger, it probably won’t be long for the right to pick up left-winger. Will they flee to leftist then?

          The terms that each side uses to refer to the other sound abusive out of the mouths of the out-group because we know that the out-group ‘hates us’ and is ‘wrong’. I’m talking meta-level, not object-level. It’s probably true of both sides here and in the general case. It doesn’t really matter what term the out-group is using to refer to the in-group. They’re expressing ‘hatred’ and promoting their ‘wrong’ beliefs. Therefore, whatever term the out-group uses is abusive, even if that term is the one the in-group uses. This must mean that the in-group is using the wrong term, even if the out-group learned it from the in-group.

          It’s not a terrible problem as these things go, but it’s silly. Fleeing another group’s language because of that group’s presumptive evil tends to deepen partisan divides due to the creation of dialects and the embrace of communicative taboos as a general strategy. It makes it very hard to identify non-evil members of the out-group by proving too much with the specific words they use.

          Not to mention that ‘success’ looks like both sides settling on the most transparently insulting way to refer to the other side… That’s where that treadmill stops. Once both sides have settled into a discourse where they’re referring to the other in ways that the other would never refer to themselves, equilibrium is reached.

      • Peter says:

        I identify as a centre-left liberal; “leftist” for me means sufficiently far left that you don’t say “centre-left” or “left of centre”. Being able to identify as “liberal” is a handy way to spit back at those leftists while being civil to the centre-*.

        “Centrist” is definitely a thing, it’s not just leftist vs rightist.

      • James Picone says:

        While I don’t agree with the original post (I have no problem being described as ‘leftist’), I do think there’s merit to running the euphemism treadmill. Done properly, it’s just being polite. You don’t call people things that have negative connotations, even when they’re accurate, unless you’re trying to be insulting. I don’t use the term ‘retarded’ for much the same reason I don’t call people dickheads when I disagree with them here.

        • Randy M says:

          How is that comprable? Has there ever been a time when dickhead was denotationally accurate, or retarded not so?
          “Retarded” has come to be insulting because it is used by juveniles to assert other people’s errors are a result of being mentally disabled and so implies that being mentally disabled is worse than being normal but… well, it is. But so obviously so that it is rude to point it out.
          I suppose you could say dickhead is offensive because it is equating crude behavior with masculinity or something, but honestly I doubt the reason you don’t call people here dickhead is because you don’t want to impune males.

          Retarded started down the euphemism treadmill because the underlying reality is unpleasant. Dickhead is the opposite, using a crude term inaccurately to give behavior worse connotations than the common word of “jerk” or “inconsiderate” conveys.

          • James Picone says:

            I didn’t mean it to be an exact analogue, just that ‘retarded’ means roughly the same thing as ‘developmentally disabled’ but without some of the connotations, and ‘jerk’ means roughly the same thing as ‘dickhead’ but isn’t as strong.

        • keranih says:

          There is a lot of use in calling people as they prefer to be called, when you are addressing them or in their company. It’s generally of very low effort and builds a lot of mutual trust.

          There is a lot of room for decreasing the ease and accuracy of communication when one word is swapped for another due to a change in fashion, and not in the thing named. See: clarification of the classification of various microbes, where it seems that the microbe namers go through and give out new species names to the same bugs, every 8-12 years, just because they *can*. (*)

          (*) I exaggerate a hair. The microbe namers have Real and Serious Reasons for confusing everyone else.

          • Jiro says:

            Does “everyone else” even exist when it comes to “everyone else” having to use new names for microbes? It’s not something that most people need to do, after all.

      • Marc Whipple says:

        Because eventually people catch on to their newest euphemism, and they have to have a new place to hide. It’s like how James “Slippery Jim” DiGriz always had a backup identity or two to drop into between major grafts.

      • Cet3 says:

        This isn’t an example of the euphemism treadmill, and if you think rationally about it, it should be obvious why.

    • birdboy2000 says:

      I call myself leftist. Then again, I also want to end capitalism – if you don’t, I can see why you might dislike the term, given its usual associations.

      • birdboy2000 says:

        Socialist democracy. The USSR’s error, IMO, was in empowering an unaccountable vanguard party to do the things Marx wanted done by the people.

        • suntzuanime says:

          There is no “the people”. Anything you want done will need to be done by actual persons.

        • I propose you read a bit into Moldbug’s theory, such as

          The problem is, nevermind if it is socialism or capitalism, democratic accountability is even theoretically impossible. Basically democracy is a joke in all kinds of systems. The reason is that whoever performs this kind of control over the elites is, of course, the actual ruler. Like, Mazarin ran France, but if Mazarin was accountable to the king then of course the king was the actual ruler, just personally involved in the details. If the people held a government accountable, the people are the actual rulers. But of course, the people are hilariously unsuitable for the job of being an actual ruler, they simply don’t have the training, the experience, the time to invest, just nothing. Most people will know about as much about politics as about football, and actually letting the people be rulers would have the same effect as if the people ran Manchester United. Hilarious/sad even to imagine.

          Due to the people being so radically unable to exercise actual rulership, in practice a third group of people does the actual rulership. Not government and not people. A third group. This third group is not very well defined. You may call them opinion leaders. Professors, intellectuals, journalists, activists. Basically they tell the people how and what to think, and the people exercise rulership based on these ideas. They are of course the least accountable of them all, by the very nature of this job. It is just exercising free speech after all, giving informed, intelligent opinions.

          In other words, democracy always, naturally, collapses into logocracy i.e. the power of intellectuals, journalists, the kind of folks who advise the people how to think.

          These days they are not even very secretive about it. Whenever people say STEM degrees > arts degrees e.g. on Reddit, someone will defend arts degrees as “a more educated citizenry leads to a better functioning democracy”. Isn’t it basically a direct admission that the job of professors is to tell voters how to think, and thus remote-control democracy? Isn’t there a direct connection between sociology professors talking about oppression and voters voting for more feminism e.g. ? This is how this control works. This is logocracy.

          Then there are two options. Either logocracy maintains a facade of democracy forever.

          But often there is a shortcut. If the people, the voters tell the government whatever the professors tell them to think anyway, why shouldn’t the government listen directly to the professors and basically ignore the voters?

          In a socialist setup, that is precisely the Soviet Union. They too had a form of democracy in the beginning, in factory councils, but it collapsed into this kind of rule where party big guys just listen to the Marxist philosophers directly.

          In a less socialist setup, a good example of the government-logocratic shortcut is the recent gay marriage via the Supreme Court stuff in the US. Not very democratic. But if democratic voters will think what the intellectuals tell them to think about it anyway, why shouldn’t the government / Suprememe Court take a shortcut and basically implement what the intellectuals decided to support? The people will catch up to the intellectuals later anyway. Which is actually happening.

          This was probably a turning point in the USA as well. From this point on, you will see more and more of a closed loop of intellectual opinion leaders working with the government and the people kinda cut out. And this even makes sense, because the people will sooner or later think what the opinion leaders tell them anyway so it is more efficient. Just not call it democracy. Democracy, as we demonstrated here, is inherently unstable and usually a farce.

        • Bugmaster says:

          None of that answered Mark Atwood’s question:

          What do you want to replace *my* capital, and my choices of what I do with it, with?

          As far as I can tell, your answer is “not Democracy”, but there are an infinite number of systems that are “not Democracy”. So which one are you suggesting we use ? And how is it better than our current one ?

        • @Bugmaster – you seem to have really misread something here. I was not proposing anything, I was replying to someone who has and thus had nothing to do with Athwoods question. I was explaining why the proposal to replace it with democratic socialism is inherently unstable. I don’t want to replace it with anything. Try to follow who is replying to whom please. And I will try to add @ signs more frequently.

        • Murphy says:


          I think that that analysis ignores some factors.

          if that’s logocracy then it’s very soft logocracy. If the opinion leaders stray too far from the general populations positions too fast then they lose their power. If the government just starts listing directly to the logocrats and stray too far from the general populations positions too fast then they lose their power.

          Also since it’s easy enough for plutocrats to employ pet academics it would look like this system could turn into plutocracy pretty easily but still runs into the same problem.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          “These days they are not even very secretive about it. Whenever people say STEM degrees > arts degrees e.g. on Reddit, someone will defend arts degrees as ‘a more educated citizenry leads to a better functioning democracy’. Isn’t it basically a direct admission that the job of professors is to tell voters how to think, and thus remote-control democracy? Isn’t there a direct connection between sociology professors talking about oppression and voters voting for more feminism e.g. ? This is how this control works. This is logocracy.”

          This, exactly this.

          People revere science, because it produces miracles, repeatable miracles. To paraphrase Maistre (I think this is in “Enlightenment on Sacrifices”), “In paganism inventors were deified, as was their right”). There is a whole tribe of intellectuals who are envious of this and want their degrees in sociology or [noun] Studies to confer the same authority.

          Of course the danger in thinking STEM is the only source of knowledge is scientism. This can take at least two forms. The first I’ll call Dawkinsism, in which the STEM professors may mock arts degrees but their magisterium contains much the same moral teaching as the sociology, etc. professors (sin consists of being racist or sexist, homosexuality is to be celebrated, churches are hives of bigotry, etc). The second is Dark Enlightenment, in which the STEM professors realize en masse that science can’t prove moral facts.

          The only escape from scientism Maistre saw was for philosophy of science to be grounded in Christian philosophy (Cartesian rationalism with remnants of Platonism[1]).

          [1] It’s interesting to note that he wasn’t into Thomism.

        • Anthony says:

          Trigger warning: topic drift

          Whenever people say STEM degrees > arts degrees e.g. on Reddit, someone will defend arts degrees as “a more educated citizenry leads to a better functioning democracy”.

          Isn’t that exactly why we want more people with STEM degrees? We want a more educated citizenry. And doesn’t anyone on Reddit ever use that counterargument?

        • Nornagest says:

          Isn’t that exactly why we want more people with STEM degrees? We want a more educated citizenry.

          I suspect theDividualist is reading “educated” there as “indoctrinated”. STEM wouldn’t count there because it’s much less effective at indoctrinating students, despite ever-expanding core requirements.

          Not sure I agree with him, though. The theory doesn’t predict the women-in-STEM push, for one thing, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone come out in favor of arts/humanities/social science degrees over STEM specifically on grounds of better education; granted, I don’t hang out in those Reddit threads. There’s certainly a perception among educated Blues that any opposition to the privilege model etc. must come out of ignorance, but I think they honestly think that’s a matter of fact, not of doctrine.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          “There’s certainly a perception among educated Blues that any opposition to the privilege model etc. must come out of ignorance, but I think they honestly think that’s a matter of fact, not of doctrine.”

          The 50% women in STEM thing is a logical consequence of their belief that, it being self-evident that all men and women are created equal, only discrimination can explain unequal outcomes. However, they also believe humanities professors should be perceived as having equal authority to science professors.
          Actually, I think you basically said they think disputing “women ought to earn as much as men, but they don’t, and only because of male privilege” should be treated the same as disputing heliocentrism. I agree that’s where they’re coming from.

        • Nornagest says:

          I think you basically said they think disputing “women ought to earn as much as men, but they don’t, and only because of male privilege” should be treated the same as disputing heliocentrism.

          Yeah, that’s a decent way of putting it. I think I’ve even heard the word “denialism” being thrown around.

        • NN says:

          The 50% women in STEM thing is a logical consequence of their belief that, it being self-evident that all men and women are created equal, only discrimination can explain unequal outcomes. However, they also believe humanities professors should be perceived as having equal authority to science professors.

          Then why is there no push to get more men into female dominated fields such as, for example, virtually all humanities and social science majors?

        • Michael W says:


          It’s not a wacky coincidence that the Cold War ended up being a capitalist democracy vs. a communist dictatorship. The systems go hand in hand.

          Political power reflects /actual/ power. A country where things work otherwise is either dysfunctional until it changes its system, or else the powerful simply seize political power. In capitalist countries, economic power is in the hands of the people. In communist countries, the economy is dictated by the central government.

          Once a group is elected into a position of absolute power, they can freely act with impunity. At that point, the only reason to continue holding fair elections is if you feel like jeopardizing your hold on power for the sake of being fair. And when has a human ever done that?

        • @Marc Whipple

          Germany isn’t a socialist country.

        • Marc Whipple says:

          You’re probably right – there aren’t enough Scotsmen there.

      • But is regardless of whether it is desirable or not, is it theoretically endable? I mean it in the usually hyper-pessimistic sense of reactionaries. The normal mode of humans is to kill and gore each other over property, loot. Tribal war etc. Capitalism seems to be an attempt to try to be more civilized and enforce having ownership over whatever we acquired through lawsuits instead of the viking way. Even capitalism is somewhat utopian – there are plenty of countries on Earth where if a debt is not paid, hiring someone to break the debtors leg is more practical than a 5 years long lawsuit. Ending capitalism, in the simplest sense, is making such property claims non-enforcable, basically it means the lawsuit path to enforce property claims is out. Why do or anyone else on the left think it will lead to people being all brotherly instead of just go back to the old violent ways? For example, drug-dealing is a non-capitalist business because claims over a turf are non-enforcable with a lawsuit. You could say it is a form of socialism, as the sales venue, the gang turf is legally a communal (municipal) property. And what it leads to in practice is not dealers going all brotherly: it just leads to them shooting each other.

        Is it really just having radically different levels of pessimism about human behavior? Or something else here?

        • nil says:

          Hey man, if you can think of a better way to convince the fossil fuel industry to leave trillions of dollars of capitalized property in the ground or to prevent a hard-launch AI whose primary imperative is fiduciary duty, then I’m all ears.

          FWIW, a review of the anthropological literature, imo, indicates that the only human nature is cultural plasticity

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          “Why do or anyone else on the left think it will lead to people being all brotherly instead of just go back to the old violent ways?”

          The abandoned old ways are by definition reactionary, so if anyone reverts to them after the Revolution (which is progressive by definition), the vanguard Party will crush them?

    • Pku says:

      I go by “leftist”, mostly because I broadly identify with leftism but not necessarily the american variety (On an emotional side, american democratic signalling makes me feel alienated while I like the Israeli variety (or at least used to; it seems to have gotten more feminist and SJW-y lately)).

    • haishan says:

      I call myself a rightist sometimes, but mostly because it gives a sense of my politics without signaling any particular tribal affiliation.

    • E. Harding says:

      I’m okay with “rightie” as a noun or “rightist” as an adjective.

    • SpaghettiLee says:

      Not only am I not offended by it, I’m not sure I’ve met a left-winger/liberal/progressive who is. A lot of them realize that it’s intended to be an insult, but don’t actually get personally offended by it.

      On the mainstream left I’ve noticed very little fretting over the distinction between liberal, leftist, left-winger, and progressive, because usually there’s not much need to draw a distinction. Obviously, some people disagree.

    • oligopsony says:

      I get mildly annoyed when “leftist” is applied to left-liberals, though I cannot really explain why I’m so prescriptivist about such a vague descriptor. For parity’s sake I try to preserve “rightist” (like “reactionary”) for the non-liberal right; e.g. the GOP are right-liberals while Nick Land is a rightist.

      (Additional fatwas: the way Americans use “liberal” is Wrong, as is their ideological color schema; “progressive” is worse than useless.)

      • Progressive is an extremely useful term, for two reasons.

        One, it relates to a theory of history, namely the Whig one, that history inherently marches towards certain goals (liberty, equality, fraternity). Many progressives explicitly approve of this view (see Obama: history takes sides), those who not generally still behave as if, because they grew up in a culture where mainstream assumptions are already based on a progressive view on history, and finally because learned conservatives and reactionaries explicitly criticize this view.

        Another reason is that it demonstrates the unified common ground between left-wing and liberal attitudes. Especially in Europe, liberalism and leftism seem really different things – on the surface. But the attitudes behind are still pretty similar and “progressive” demonstates this attitude. Generally that both want to “progress beyond” “outdated” “backwards” things. Such as nationalism or traditional gender roles. So as the left and liberals have a similar view of history, they have a common enemy in “traditionalism” or “alpha male politics”, and this commonness is what “progressive” demonstrates.

      • Chalid says:

        Me too. In my mind “leftist” should be reserved for people who are more left than say Bernie Sanders; to me it carries a connotation of being well outside the mainstream.

        • gbdub says:

          Doesn’t “winger” connote even more fringiness? “Ist” seems more gentle. Maybe its just that “ist” sounds a lot like “ish” or that “centrist” is a thing while “center winger” is basically an oxymoron.

    • It’s hard to express it in a way that is truly idiomatic English. “wing” is almost pejorative, as it suggests extremism, and “winger” sounds borderline weird. Compare: wingnut.

      “Rightist” and “leftist” should not be so bad – they are short and to the point. Sounds a bit French, see gauchiste, but why not. They invented these concepts, after all. Why does leftist sound worse than gauchiste to you?

      Progressive/conservative/reactionary works well enough, as they relate to theories of history, which are ur-important.

      Some languages use the equivalent “leftsider” and “rightsider” which actually sounds surprisingly idiomatic in English: compare “insider” and “outsider”. Could worth a try? Insider trading. Outsider attitudes. Leftsider economic policies. Rightsider social values. Does not sound too bad to me.

    • Jaskologist says:

      “Right” has relevant homonyms that “left” does not. A “rightist” sounds like someone who is super in favor of people having rights. Accurate enough, but probably not something a leftist would want to concede that easily (although I could see the kind of person who talks about “freeze peach” starting to use it derogatorily).

      • Winter Shaker says:

        A “rightist” sounds like someone who is super in favor of people having rights. Accurate enough, but probably not something a leftist would want to concede that easily

        I’d have thought that a simpler description would be that people on the right and left ends of the political spectrum both think that people should have certain rights, but disagree strongly over what rights those would be. For instance, the right to receive $15p/h for one’s work vs the right to freely negotiate wages, or the right to refuse service to those you don’t wish to associate with, vs the right to be treated with equal respect at any business you visit, etc.
        Or have I misunderstood your comment?

        • Jaskologist says:

          You’ve misunderstood. To call someone a “rightist” carries something of an implication that they’re the ones who are hardcore about rights (compare to “Islamist”). I don’t think a leftist would want to do that.

          Calling someone a leftist mostly just marks them as hardcore to the left. The other meaning of left (as in “left behind”) doesn’t hold much political meaning, so the positional (and basically neutral) definition dominates.

    • brad says:

      To my ear both “rightist” and “leftist” are old fashioned terms that belong to an era where communism, or at least full-on socialism (not democratic socialism), were in the Overton window.

      In the US liberal and conservative seem to work fairly well, within the Anglosphere left and right wing work okay, and for an audience more diverse than that, I don’t think there’s any choice but to bite the bullet and be more specific. Linearization is spotty even within a country, cross culturally it doesn’t work at all.

      • ” or at least full-on socialism (not democratic socialism)”

        This struck me, because I don’t think the distinction is about democracy. A society in which all the means of production were owned and controlled by a state controlled by politicians chosen through open and fair election would be both full-on socialism and democratic, although my guess is that it wouldn’t turn out to be a stable equilibrium.

        On the other hand, a society along the general lines of the current Scandinavian countries would, I think, still feel like democratic socialism even if its government was based on a highly restricted franchise. Consider Bismarck’s Germany, which pioneered a lot of the policies that people somewhat left of center like.

        The real distinction, as best I can tell, is between socialism in the traditional economic sense and economically capitalist societies with quite a lot of redistribution. Welfare aside, my impression is that the Scandinavian countries are if anything somewhat more free market than the U.S., not less–get high marks in the economic freedom of the world index.

        • brad says:

          I think you’re quite right.

          Democratic socialism is kind of like the Holy Roman Empire, it doesn’t require democracy and excludes socialism. Instead it is just one wing of the mixed or welfare capitalist spectrum.

          The overloading can be pretty annoying. There’s socialism in the collective ownership of the means of production sense, socialism in the welfare capitalism sense, and socialism in the scorn word sense. None of them have much to do with each other, and sometimes it isn’t clear which one is meant.

  10. Echo says:

    I always wondered what was going to happen to all the “bitcoin mining rigs” once the inevitable happened. Obviously the guys using botnets had the better solution, but it’s good to know all those fancy graphics cards won’t go in the trash.

    My friend is retiring next week, and thought she wouldn’t have to learn the ridiculous new ICD codes. But they forced her to do the training anyway.
    I can’t wait to bleed out in the parking lot as hospital admissions quibble over how to register my injury.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I am at a low low low level of clinical practice, so maybe I escaped all of this, but for me it was as simple as going to the website, typing in “what’s the ICD-10 code for major depressive disorder recurrent severe”, and it telling me. If I’d been really on top of things, I could have just typed in the old code and had it spit out the new code. So I haven’t personally found it to be a big deal, although maybe that’s because psychiatrists run into fewer orca-related incidents than most other specialties.

      • Echo says:

        Your electronic records systems actually give you results rather than “803 error: 67-year old user detected“?

      • Devilbunny says:

        The problems with ICD-10 are paticularly horrible in surgical specialties because of the detail of describing how any particular injury occurred. Burn due to waterskis on fire, etc. It’s driving the orthopedists nuts.

    • LHN says:

      How did they force someone retiring next week to do the training? Unless they were going to hold her last paycheck hostage or something, I’d think it would be pretty easy to play hooky from even if technically mandatory.

      • Echo says:

        Because she is the nicest woman in the world, the easiest pushover ever, and suspects they’ll need her post retirement when her replacement can’t handle the inhuman workload.

  11. Douglas Knight says:

    The sequencing costs are interesting because it seems to show that Ilumina had specific beliefs about the demand curve. The plateau is entirely due to their decision to keep costs high. They didn’t think it was worth lowering costs until they could advertise the “thousand dollar genome.” Which they did, at the beginning of the year. This seems weird to me, because everyone talks about how the thousand dollar genome will be a big deal, but they mean retail price, while Ilumina’s price is wholesale.

    • Murphy says:

      They’ve got competitors snapping at their heels. nanopore sequencing is total crap right now due to awful accuracy but is improving pretty fast and if that takes off then illumina will be in trouble. But absent current competitors they’re not going to lower prices until the demand has grown enough to maintain their profits.

    • RCF says:

      Shouldn’t it be “basin”, rather than “plateau”?

  12. That link about mutations in the brain was very interesting. I’d recently read Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life which proposes that accumulated mutations in Mitochondrial DNA are the most significant cause of aging.

  13. Lawrene D'Anna says:

    “inequality has been increasing”

    I really hate to read that phrase without the appropriate qualifier “in rich countries”. No way no how has inequality been increasing globally.

    Even in rich countries I’m not sure it’s actually true, but I’ll admit I don’t know enough about it to say with confidence.

    • Dan Simon says:

      Do measures of inequality take into account the decreasing marginal utility of money? If Bill Gates quadruples his wealth/income while I merely double mine, I’m pretty sure that the inequality between us, while nominally greater by any mathematical measure, will lessen in every practical sense. I hypothesize that most “increases” in inequality in developed countries are an artifact of this phenomenon: the higher up you are on the socioeconomic ladder, the greater an increase in wealth or income–even in percentage terms–you need to really feel like you’ve gotten richer…

      • brightlinger says:

        The usual claim I see is that utility goes logarithmically with money, meaning that “twice as much money” is the same amount of utility no matter how much money you currently have. For you to get more utility out of a proportionally smaller increase would require sub-logarithmic utility. With my total lack of expert knowledge, sub-logarithmic seems plausibly defensible but certainly not obviously true.

      • The kind of folks who complain most about inequality generally complain about the inequality of power-exercised-through-money, not consumption. The charitable view is that it is a worry about how it can be abused. The uncharitable view is that inequality of power is an ideal excuse for people who want more for themselves.

        • James Vonder Haar says:

          I can only speak for myself, but the diminishing marginal utility of money is absolutely why I support progressive taxation and a strong welfare state. Pay for health care for everyone before letting rich people buy yachts.

          Of course, for the same reason I’m in favor of dramatically increasing foreign aid and boosting stuff like Effective Altruism, which many of my fellow progressives don’t do, indicating at best a kind of nationalism and at worst hypocrisy.

          • Urstoff says:

            It seems like trying to fine tune the tax code to make it “fair” (whatever that means) is a mug’s game. Just write the tax code to maximize growth, fairness be damned, and use the proceeds to fund generous social insurance programs.

          • Marc Whipple says:


            P. J. O’Rourke once pointed out that average per-capita income in Haiti was like $535/year or something like that, while there were a lot of people running around with gobs of money (mostly obtained through graft of some kind.) He agreed that this was a sad state of affairs, but pointed out that if the money was distributed equally everybody would have… $535. The solution is not to slice the pie with perfect equality. The solution is to make the whole pie bigger, which usually results in even the smaller slices growing while not meeting backlash from the people who already have big ones.

          • RCF says:

            @Marc Whipple

            According to some rough calculations I did on limited data, if all income were redistributed equally among Americans, about 2/3 would have their income increase. I.e., about 1/3 of Americans have income above the average.

          • This could be defensible as a progressive _consumption_ taxation, such as 60% VAT on yachts. This would actually be somewhat acceptable for some conservative instincts – classical Adam Smith types have always been “producerist”, they did not care so much about consuming “superfluities” than about reinvesting in the family business. At any rate many conservatives would at least not see that as inherently immoral and perverted, although perhaps still bad economics. There is a certain traditional strain against luxury consumption, from Roman poets to Puritans.

            But notice how nobody is seriously proposing this! It is all capital gains tax and income and all that. Of course theoretically money reinvested is not taxed, but if you ask yourself exactly what is the gap between reinvestment and consumption, beyond simply delayed consumption (savings on a basic saving account, although the banks invest that, too) it gets weird, doesn’t it? It seems like despite theoretically no taxing reinvested money, and yet taxing earnings instead of consumption, someone is pulling a nasty trick here?

            Luxury consumption taxes are so much more obviously fair than capital gains or progressive income taxes that you should suspect there is something nasty going on here and that is why most lefties don’t demand the far more logical and sellable luxury consumption tax.

          • Marc Whipple says:

            The latest figure I see from a quick Google is $27k-ish per income earner. Let’s go nuts and assume it’s now $30k. So if we redistribute it, each household with two income earners gets $60k.

            For many households, this would be a life-changing increase in income. No questions asked.


            1) This would result in a huge net decrease in income taxes collected by the Federal, state, and local governments. That money would have to be made up somehow.

            2) Every industry and sub-industry that caters to the needs of people who make more than that would immediately and completely crash. Eventually, we could retool the economy, but what we now think of as luxury industries would be destroyed forever. Some people would still spend more than others, but everybody would have the same basic income, which means demand would be much higher for “luxuries” that that income level would support and zero for luxuries above that. (This has wide-ranging and non-obvious effects. For example, personal security guards are a luxury. Boom, they’re gone.)

            3) I can think of a bunch of other hideously negative effects without even trying. For example, I’m not even getting into the massive reallocation of capital and the resultant disruption of ownership and management of uncountable businesses, etc. Nor all the people who would instantly be unable to afford their property taxes, debt service, etc. Are you thinking Jubilee? Those are fun.

            Would some people have a lot more money if we recut the pie? Absolutely. That’s trivially simple.

            Would we all be better off? Would our society, in other words, experience a net increase in welfare?

            In my opinion, that question is also trivially simple. Oh HELL no.

          • sweeneyrod says:


            Consumption taxes on luxury goods don’t work, as luxury isn’t an intrinsic property of a good, but depends on context. A train ticket to work is a necessity, a ticket to a holiday is a luxury. One house is one of the most fundamental necessities. Five additional houses are clearly not.

            In any case, consumption taxes (or Value Added Taxes) are used to an extent in many countries. In the UK, yachts are subject to 20% VAT. Non-chocolate-coated biscuits are not. However, this is of limited use in creating a fair system, both for the reasons mentioned previously, and because a system that set rates for individual items would be even more hideously complicated than the one we have now.

    • E. Harding says:

      Inequality has certainly been increasing in China, a really poor country back in the day. Probably in India, as well, as well as in the other former Communist countries.

      • cassander says:

        it’s quite possible for inequality to be increasing in every individual country and still be decreasing globally. See Simpson’s paradox.

        • Mark says:

          And the realisty is almost exactly that. In almost every individual country, inequality is increasing, but the immense growth rate of China and India (and others) mean global inequality is decreasing.

          This still suggests to me that once developing countries growth starts to plateau we’ll still continue to see increasing inequality and all the resultant problems.

  14. Soumynona says:

    Regarding the weird star: oh dear, it has begun.

  15. alexp says:

    On the Yuan Percent link:

    I read about the guy driving his Maserati around for Uber in order to pick up chicks and thought it was a funny and clever strategy at first. Then I thought about it again, and it seems like going to an expensive club and getting a table and a bottle (the conventional rich person strategy) would work much better.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      “Then I thought about it again, and it seems like going to an expensive club and getting a table and a bottle (the conventional rich person strategy) would work much better.”

      How does this work, exactly? You go to the club. You reserve a table. You buy a bottle of alcohol. Then what?

      • notes says:

        Then someone else starts flirting.

        As a conventional rich person strategy, going to gold-digger hunting grounds as a way to get laid isn’t crazy. Not optimal – depending on what one is optimizing for – but not ineffective.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          How are they supposed to know you’re rich? Do you have to get special rich person alcohol? Is it shiny enough that people notice it’s special rich person alcohol even from far away? Do you need to write I AM RICH on a piece of paper and fold it in half and put it on your table like a nametag?

          • Echo says:

            (It doesn’t actually work like this)

          • brad says:

            The act of going to a club and paying $300-$1k for a $30-$150 bottle of alcohol is a pretty good indicator that you are rich. Not perfect, but pretty good.

            If you pay towards the top end of that the club makes a real spectacle of bringing it over to you, so everyone is aware.

          • nyccine says:

            “Bottle Service” is waaaaay overpriced. As in, several hundred dollars for the same thing you buy in the liquor store for 25.00-30.00 bucks. You get your own table, and depending on venue, get other amenities (I’ve heard of personal DJs, amongst other things). Trust me, if you’re the type of person who frequents clubs where bottle service is a thing, the girls there know you’re loaded when they see you at the table with the bucket.

          • Will S. says:

            Most of the people at a club will be standing. You can’t get your own table unless you’re getting bottle service, and a bottle of midshelf liquor will cost you hundreds of dollars. So by sitting at a table you’re committed to spending a large amount of money, and anyone who sees you sitting at said table knows it.

          • Nornagest says:

            Bottle service is super expensive. It usually gets you the table, a bottle of decent-to-good liquor, and an arbitrary amount of mixers, and that’ll cost you something like three to five hundred dollars in San Francisco. Probably more in New York, probably less in Detroit.

            Typically the only tables in the club are the ones used for bottle service, so if you’re holding court at one of the tables everyone knows you’re doing some conspicuous consumption. That isn’t to everyone’s taste, of course, but it’s attractive to some.

          • This is a real funny question. I had periods of my life when I had significantly more many than my social circles of the same age group and yet I was absolutely unable to pull off “rich” guy game because I did not have the kind of attitudes, style, that actual natural-born super-confident rich playboys had. Like, if I bought an Armani Jeans or a bottle of Dom Perignon, I kinda tended to parade it around, even when I tried not to. Because it was a big deal for me. And basically the actual rich guys considered designer clothes as pure consumables, they would have a lazy day, don’t shower, put on wrinkled clothes, they usual hungover days, and those would still happen to be designer ones, and they could grab a Dom Perignon as if it was beer, a totally no-fucks-given way. And this is how you recognize an actual rich. And this is why I failed at “rich” guy game. This nonchalance about expensive stuff, and a totally non-artificial extreme arrogance is usually how the message goes through.

      • Urstoff says:

        Exude pheromones and manspread. The rest will take care of itself.

      • Cole says:

        Reserving a table in a club is much different than reserving a table in a restaurant.

        Its usually very expensive (compared to just paying for a cover fee or a few drinks). One common feature is that you have to buy ‘bottle service’ which really operates like a minimum guaranteed purchase of alcohol. If you buy a 500 dollar bottle service then you can get up to 500 dollars of alcohol for “free” and any additional alcohol costs will be added onto your bill.

        Inviting someone to your table is saying ‘hey come drink this alcohol I bought.’ Saying yes is kind of the same as saying yes to someone who offers to buy you a drink. In this case though the ‘drink’ is far more expensive.

        I’m a little hazy/rusty on the rest of the details for flirting at clubs (Mostly learned through watching other people, only one or two personal experiences). Seems to mainly involve lusty looks, lusty dancing, lusty grabbing, and making out in that general order. No talking because its usually too loud to even hear yourself talk. The guy with the table goes into the crowd to find a girl, and if he gets stopped at any one of those steps on the dance floor he brings the girl to his table at which point he is allowed to try and progress through the steps again. Girl can refuse by making up an excuse to go back to the dance floor.

        Its a great way to select for someone based on sexual attractiveness or sexual chemistry. Sweaty dancing in a crowd of people seems second only to alcohol in terms of breaking down sexual reservations and shyness. Its a terrible way to select for a partner if you care at all about communication, or any verbal conversation.

        • Echo says:

          Agreed. I’ve hooked up with more compatible partners over thanksgiving dinner conversations than through “this man is willing to grab my hips and grind me without speaking or seeing my face”. The latter’s fun, but… not a very fulfilling kind of fun.

          It’s hard to understand why a lot of self-described “rationalists” would be so fascinated with the kind of game you find in a clu—… Oh. Game. And games can can be analyzed and optimized for success.

          • Urstoff says:

            I suggest not trying to pick up women (or men) at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

          • Saul Degraw says:

            To be fair, the poster didn’t say it was a family dinner.

          • “It’s hard to understand why a lot of self-described “rationalists” would be so fascinated with the kind of game you find in a clu—”

            If “fascinated with” means “curious about” rather than “wanting to indulge in” it seems pretty natural. Courtship behavior is both profoundly irrational and, in principle, rationally explainable on evolutionary lines, which makes it interesting. And, of course, rationalists have the same evolved tendency to pay attention to it as other people.

        • Saul Degraw says:

          I gotta say that bottle service always seemed like a waste of money to me. There are other things I’d like to spend that kind of money on. Also you have to be a very specific kind of person to hook up at clubs and most people are not that kind of people.

          I think a lot of dating unhappiness and mishaps happen because people try to be who they are not. Friends dragged me to a club once and it wasn’t very fun. Not my kind of music, not my kind of scene, lots of middle aged dudes trying to act younger than they were, etc.

        • >Its a great way to select for someone based on sexual attractiveness or sexual chemistry

          Only if the male is super attractive (being rich can be part of that). Clubs are basically the places that prove me redpiller ideas about hypergamy are real. Take a guy who looks reasonably attractive on the street, put him in a club and he has almost no chance as the club is full with really rich playboys in super expensive clothes, perfectly ripped body builders, athletes, and other 10/10 men. Of course, the women tend towards 6+ too. But the point is, even the 6-7/10 women will ignore the 6-7/10 guys, they will go for the 10/10 ones. So the whole dynamic is a small number of super wow guys having “harems”.

          Essentially if you are not a male model or born so rich that every pore of you radiates infinite confidence, clubs are absolutely a suckers game. If you want the sweaty lusty kind of attraction, you probably have to find a party where the participants are closer to randomly selected, less strongly self-selected for top attractiveness. Like a party in someone’s house, who is inviting his friends including the geeky ones. There will be one or two super playboy guy who will probably disappear with a girl in 30 minutes, and the rest have fairer chances.

          Like, for example, if you happen to go to Lama Ole Nydahl’s Buddhist meditation courses in campsites, there are always huge parties at the end with really drunk people and the participants are far more randomly selected for attractiveness and thus the whole thing is fairer. Esp. in Poland, there are crazy parties at the courses.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Even if we assume that this is correct about clubs and bars, and I have indirect anecdotal evidence that it is not, there is no evidence that Red Pill theories are correct outside the bar and club environment. Bars and clubs are very specialized environments where people aren’t trying to act at their deepest. It favors the most extroverted rather than introverted. Other social places like religious buildings or lecture halls will favor a more reflective and introverted personality.

          • Cole says:

            “Clubs are basically the places that prove me redpiller ideas about hypergamy are real.”

            I’m not very familiar with rediller ideas.

            I don’t think clubs are just for the super attractive. All my experiences at clubs were going with a married couple that had met at a club. Neither of them were attractive. If you aren’t a 10 on attractiveness the way to make up for it was with good dancing, or an interesting costume.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Yes, the red-pillers may have discovered some phenomena capable of shedding a bit of light on human nature, but they are far too eager to generalize behavior in one specific and rather artificial scenario to humanity as a whole. They’re almost as bad as social scientists in this respect.

          • LeeEsq says:

            The fact that they take their intellectual terminology from the Matrix should be enough to give people warning that they haven’t thought things entirely through.

          • Marc Whipple says:

            There are many, many ways to “date up” for men in these situations. “Game” is one, but one of the more interesting ones is to find some niche community where physical attractiveness is not thought of as important as some other quality you have, can learn, or can fake.

            These are readily findable with some clever Internet searching.

          • Fibs says:

            Wait, what?

            The hypergamy model (which you didn’t specify, but seems to mean “women date up” or something?) is based on the solid reasoning that in a large cluster of shiny objects, the shiniest object will seem relatively more attractive than less shiny objects? And this somehow proves that all women something something male model harems.

            Congratulations. You’ve successfully uncovered the well known principle of relativity. Thing seem more dire or more shiny in direct contast to other things, so in an environment with amazingly beautiful models the merely beautiful models seem less pretty. Truly a staggering insight into the principles of the Feminine Mind has been harnessed here today.

            I don’t want to come across as mean-spirited, and I apologize if I’m doing so, but it’s a little hard not to seem incredibly droll when this apparent nugget of wisdom is literally just the statement that “People are kind of bad at absolute measures of worth and tend to rely on social cognition to inform them of the relative “value” of a given object / person”. That doesn’t actually tell you anything about Women or Red Pills (??) or Game or Picking People Up or Sex or Life or Anything At All, it just means that in a given cluster of people the baseline for “wow” changes based on the composition of that cluster.

            It’s the exact same thing for men, by the way; they’ll find women more or less beautiful when their cohorts are more or less beautiful. So are men hypergamous? This seems to be sort a slur, like its meant to indicate that women are somehow fickle and untrustworthy because their feeble brains can be tricked by relative status effects. That’s what you’re sort of sliding in with that “harem” thing there.

            “Ah, look at thos feeble X they can be tricked by Y because they’ll all be attracted to the billionare in the company of millionares and this proves they’re hypergamous to the core and the billionare gets the pick of the litter!”

            … well, no? Social cognition is relative. And this isn’t a “woman” thing, it’s a “person” thing. Status evaluation is a fairly fluid process at all times. This is long enough so I’ll just try to phrase it in the simples manner possible so I can sort of perhaps shed some light on why I think this is strangely weird to use as a “proof of redpiller ideas”. The theory (to me) seems literally to be the following:

            “Hey, it turns out? People prefer the thing that stands out the most in any given group because it is more noticable than the baseline”

            To which I can only say: “yes”. That’s not exactly profound. Just, like, drop six blue skittles next to one red one. Which stands out the most?

          • Brn says:

            > The hypergamy model (which you didn’t specify, but seems to mean “women date up” or something?)

            The red pillers belief in hypergamy is that women will, when choosing a mate, as much as possible pick the highest status man that they can, and that they will, if possible, exchange their current mate for a higher status mate. So, yes, they think that a women will be more attracted to a billionaire than to a millionaire.

            >It’s the exact same thing for men, by the way; they’ll find women more or less beautiful when their cohorts are more or less beautiful.

            Actually, that isn’t quite so. People are more attractive when in groups then alone. So everyone is more attractive in a group, even if they are the least attractive member of the group. See The Cheerleader Effect:

            > So are men hypergamous?

            They would say no, because a women’s status does not affect how attractive men find her.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Marc Whipple, the idea that people who are into RPGs might do better with other people into RPGs rather than people who like to dress up and go clubbing seems to be a no-brainer. This isn’t to say that your going to get success but you’ll probably do better by looking for your romantic partners among people with similar interests.

          • whateverfor says:

            (Disclaimer: Much of red-pill theory is stupid, and much of what isn’t only applies in very selected environments)

            I don’t think you’re quite getting the hypergamy theory: it’s not that women prefer the most desirable men (which is blindingly obvious, and true of both sexes). It’s that women prefer the top men MUCH more than the average man. There’s a classic OKCupid blog post where they plot data on how men and women rate attractiveness. The chart for men rating women is a perfect bell curve centered on 50%, while the chart for women rating men is not: 80% of the men are listed as below average.

          • Marc Whipple says:


            That’s not quite what I’m talking about. You’ll certainly have more luck looking for similar interests, but I’m talking about gaining status/appearing to have more status than you actually do.* If you want to do this in the physical world, you work out, change your diet, have plastic surgery, etc. If you want to do it economically, you find a way to make more money. If you can’t, won’t, or don’t want to do either of these, but want to increase your status, you can try to find some commuity where status is not directly related to these things, and whatever status is related to, either you have naturally, you can acquire for what you believe is a reasonable amount of effort, or can fake convincingly.

            *In a way, it’s not possible to “appear” to have more status, but I hope you take my point.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        The key phrase is “bottle service,” as several people have indicated. The “service” part refers to the club recruiting girls from the dance floor.

      • Helldalgo says:

        Then the women begin to circle. In a desperate attempt to win your approval, they put on their most ostentatious clothing and do the mating dance. Their eyes flutter. Their hearts beat faster.

        You evaluate. Eventually, you lock eyes with the most appealing one – the one with the pretty face, whose mating dance had that neat little shimmy thing near the end. You crook your finger. She approaches. With your approval, she sits.

        The other women fall away in a flutter of disappointed sighs.

    • LHN says:

      I can easily imagine a preference for driving a cool car over sitting in a loud club that overcomes any differences in efficacy.

    • Of course, if I had a Maserati, I would also find an excuse to maximize the time I spent driving.

  16. Michael Vassar says:

    Casually, childhood being stomped out globally to make more room for demonstrably useless schools looks more like the sort of thing that our descendants will be ashamed of than even factory farming.
    and this or equivalents look likely to have much better consequences, at least if combined with wireless. Does anyone know what barriers exist to distributing a few million such chargers and a few tens of millions of tablets and pre-installing the hardware and software to maintain a mesh network on them? It really seems like the sort of thing that could be justified in terms of customer acquisition.

    • E. Harding says:

      Does anyone know what barriers exist to distributing a few million such chargers and a few tens of millions of tablets

      -Cost of tablets and chargers: $90*50 million=$4.5 billion. So maybe the whole endeavor would cost $5-6 billion total. WinBook TW700 (cost: $60) runs actual Windows, including Office (one year free included), so I’d recommend that over Android. The transportation barriers might be substantial in some interior and rural areas, especially in Africa.

      What would the mesh network be for?

      • gattsuru says:

        In theory, to provide software updates, information, and most importantly communication.

        In practice, once you get out of urban areas you tend to have very long distances, which current wifi technologies don’t support. Subsistence farming requires space on the area of an acre per person and usually two to three times that in the developing world. Wireless range — even with specially-designed devices like in the OLPC project — just can’t handle that. Urban areas will do better, but these are a relatively small portions of the population.

        Preloading the devices with the full Wikipedia database in the local language(s) is ‘easier’, but many of these copies are small enough to fit precisely because they are so few internet-connected peoples speaking the languages in that area. Af.wikipedia is around 50 MBs right now, sw.wikipedia has a whole 20 MBs of data in its entire text-only archive, sn.wikipedia’s last significant text-only dump was a mere <10 MB, and these aren't even particularly rare languages — Zimbabwe alone has another thirteen [i]official[/i] languages that don't even have wiki projects right now. This isn't as critical an issue as it sounds, since English is in many ways the lingua fraca of [i]education[/i], but it further restricts the utility of existing projects and interfaces when working outside of the well-educated classes.

      • Desertopa says:

        To get them into the hands of every individual in impoverished countries, the distribution costs would probably be much higher than the production costs, because there are no local services for a lot of the destination points that you could direct the deliveries through with any sort of reliability.

    • I don’t understand – how could these devices fulfill essential functions of the teacher, such as to push and force kids to learn, and teach discipline and delayed gratification and all that? It is not just about presenting information or else a public library would be all we ever needed.

      The basic logic of schooling is that it has to be rammed down our throats because we’d rather be outside playing. Tablets can’t do this. Nor can public libraries.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I like your honesty!

        • Brian Donohue says:

          Isn’t this excessively cynical?

          Am I the only one who remembers a handful of teachers capable of presenting material in an inspiring way, which tablets and libraries can’t do?

          • Urstoff says:

            I remember a few teachers like that, but I was a smart, bookish student that was predisposed to find them inspiring.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Can’t it be both?

          • RCF says:

            If you had to do it over again, you would spend more time with bigots?

          • Doctor Mist says:


            If you had to do it over again, you would spend more time with bigots?


          • RCF says:

            The Boy Scouts range from being at worst promoters, and at best enablers, of bigotry.

          • dirtyHippy says:

            While the BSA has bigoted policies on the national level, individual troops have lots of autonomy on how they run themselves, and can largely ignore national’s rules if they like. The implication that BSA is chock full of bigots is simply wrong.

          • Nornagest says:

            @dirtyHippy — That matches up with my experience. I was an atheist Boy Scout at a time when atheists were making national news for getting kicked out of the Boy Scouts, although I wasn’t very loud about it.

      • Randy M says:

        Teachers can’t do this either, of course. But for some, teachers along with a grading system and an elaborate series of social rituals around the judgements teachers make semi-annually can. For others, teachers along with burly security a phone call away, truant officers, and marginally less pleasant continuation schools can.

      • Addict says:

        My dad was telling me about something he heard on NPR’s science friday about a guy who put a computer with an internet connection in a bunch of poor villages/slums in india, with vague instructions to “study molecular biology” included somehow and absolutely no teachers. He compared to a private school in england, taking a highschool course. At first, the private schoolers were learning faster while the indian kids learnt english. eventually the indian kids, pretty much just using wikipedia and textbooks popular enough to priate with “[name of book] pdf” in google, caught up to and surpassed the english kids.

        The *reason* they continued working on the assigned topic with absolutely no prompting was the “hey gimme the mouse, i can do better” effect.

        It fell apart a couple months later. He did some more experiments and found that all that was needed to stop the crash was to get an ‘encourager’, someone to say “wow how did you learn that?” Or “man that’a pretty cool, that will serve you well later in life” at given intervals, and the crash never happens.

        If somebody could find this article for me, and perhaps correct the things about it I got wrong, that would be excellent.

        • Desertopa says:

          This strikes me as plausible if the student population in the Indian group is highly self-selected.

          Although I haven’t been a public school teacher, I’ve worked as an educator in nonprofit programs, and my experience is that, yes, most children at least in the populations I’m working with do have to have learning forced on them, but there is a minority who do not, and the greatest factor in holding back the learning of kids who’re eager to do so is being forced into groups where the pace is set by kids who have to be dragged the whole way.

        • Nita says:

          That sounds like Sugata Mitra’s hole-in-the-wall experiments. This might be the article, which also helpfully mentions some criticism by Donald Clark.

    • I’ve been thinking about the idea of national government as a very sticky meme. Once it’s established, there doesn’t (so far) seem to be a good way out of it, and it spreads. “Education” might be another such meme.

  17. J says:

    Re: the narrowing of civic life. As far as I can tell, the Left spent a few generations fighting against teams. The old boys’ network, racist country clubs, religious hiring practices, all represented an in group excluding an out group, and that’s unfair.

    Having won that fight in many ways, they’re now noticing that teams can actually be quite valuable for minority groups in particular: Mexican immigrants holding weekly parking-lot fiestas, LGBT pride parades, support groups for abuse victims. Such groups shouldn’t simply be absorbed into the bland dominant culture, and they should draw strength from others like them.

    I think that’s a good thing; humans thrive in teams. The embarrassing thing is the awkwardness that happens as the platform makes an about-face, and they have to rediscover how teams are supposed to operate while discarding all the anti-team rhetoric.

    It’s sort of an awkward teenager phase, trying to act confident about rapidly shifting values. Thus LGBT folks are just like everyone else and shouldn’t be singled out, but they also have a special identity and so much courage, and we should support them but we can’t be on their team directly because we can’t understand their struggle, so we’ll be allies. And I want to go visit your non-Judeo-Christian Religion of Peace sometime that has so much folksy wisdom and insight, and how dare anyone force you to remove your veil, except you think what about Gays and oh crap my brain just seized up.

    By contrast, the right has always had teams. Not necessarily beneficial teams, but also plenty of benign ones like little league for the kids. So while I see plenty of nonsense from both sides on my facebook wall, the right wingers seem to have a better intuitive sense for how to be good sports about it.

    So that’s the best analogy I can draw: it’s like the kids who mocked sports growing up deciding that sports are important now, and watching them painfully rediscover the rules of sportsmanship. Also, their worldview is dominated by a teamless version of fairness, so they’re really not sure if they’re okay with “winning and losing” as a concept.

    • Urstoff says:

      So is little league a conservative institution, or was that the analogy?

      I don’t care, because now I’m going to believe this proposition:
      Conservatives are more polite online because they learned sportsmanship from Little League baseball.

      • Echo says:

        Isn’t that the accepted reason for organizations like Little League? It’s not supposed to raise kids to be MLB stars, but to make them good, honest citizens.

        Have we really grown so degenerate and atomized as a culture that we mock every source of social cohesion that isn’t an identity group based on incoherent rage and hatred?

        How much further do we have to sink before people realize Norman Rockwell paintings are something to imitate rather than mock from a dark, rent-controlled San Francisco apartment cell?

        • Nicholas Carter says:

          In much of my part of the United States, Little League is a culture for toxic and often physically violent competition both directly between adults and by proxy between their children. “Medals for Participation” are invoked in the same breath as “not cheating”. I’m not aware of any values there.

          • The_Dancing_Judge says:

            Little league can be taken too seriously, but anyone who thinks the “common experience” of little league is “a culture for toxic and often physically violent competition both directly between adults and by proxy between their children” has drunk the wrong cool aid.

          • Nicholas says:

            Common among /whom/? I’ve also been invited, in a public setting, to physically assault unknown homosexuals as a recreational activity. Maybe the baseline for shitty human behavior in my area is just higher than average.

          • Pablo says:

            What part of the US do you live in? When I was in Little League, all we did was play t-ball and speculate amongst ourselves about who was winning, because the adults officially did not keep score in order to keep the losing team from feeling bad. I was the token RINO in a fairly rednecky Catholic/evangelical Republican rural area of New York.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      You’d like to think that, but the article pretty much ends with “but in the end, it’s good that civic life declined, because civic life is racist.”

      • Dan Simon says:

        I don’t believe this is a left-right thing at all. As Sartre famously said, Hell is other people. As society has become more affluent, people generally have less need to rely on their ties to mutually supportive communities, and are better able to afford to keep others at comfortable arm’s length. So they do.

        • Echo says:

          Yes, but one group in particular has been writing essays about how it’s important to destroy the nuclear family and civic life for the last 50 years.

          • Urstoff says:

            As Scott’s fiestaware link shows, the nuclear family is alive and well.

          • Dan Simon says:

            Well, yes, but they’re disproportionately affluent, so…

          • Luke Somers says:

            I’d really, really like to hear about how the left has been trying to destroy the nuclear family and civic life since the ’60s.

            Note: ‘allowing other things besides that in cases where other things are desired’ is not the same thing as seeking to destroy.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Communism was explicitly against it, the fact that it wasn’t “abolished”, much like in the case of religion, was not due to lack of trying.

            Of course “THE LEFT” is not exclusively communism, but let’s not pretend it didn’t exist.

          • gattsuru says:

            Luke Sommers :

            In terms of writing essays about the importance of destroying the nuclear family, which seems to be Echo’s statement, this seems rather uncontroversial? It’s a staple of feminist critique, and not uncommon among the more general left. Even the more general “family raising kids” rather than specific husband-housewife-2.51 children set, you have fairly mainstream folk talking about how the importance of child-raising as a community thing.

            In terms of actions, divorce reform, the availability of welfare for unmarried women, changes to requirements for certain types of housing assistance, and the shape of current tax policy, all matter. At least in the United Kingdom and United States, the percent of households that fall under definitions of nuclear family have dropped by around a third since the 1960s (poor and minorities worst hit), and single motherhood has nearly doubled.

            You could argue that these reforms aren’t responsible for the negative results, or that they’re worth it despite the costs — I’d probably agree for at least a few. But pretending that it doesn’t exist seems a good way to encourage value drift that you might not like, not to mention miss out on possible ways to avoid costs.

          • Jaskologist says:

            This article in The Atlantic from 1926 remains ever timely:

            When the Bolsheviki came into power in 1917 they regarded the family, like every other ‘bourgeois’ institution, with fierce hatred, and set out with a will to destroy it. ‘To clear the family out of the accumulated dust of the ages we had to give it a good shakeup, and we did,’ declared Madame Smidovich, a leading Communist and active participant in the recent discussion.

            So one of the first decrees of the Soviet Government abolished the term ‘illegitimate children.’ This was done simply by equalizing the legal status of all children, whether born in wedlock or out of it, and now the Soviet Government boasts that Russia is the only country where there are no illegitimate children. The father of a child is forced to contribute to its support, usually paying the mother a third of his salary in the event of a separation, provided she has no other means of livelihood.

            At the same time a law was passed which made divorce a matter of a few minutes, to be obtained at the request of either partner in a marriage. Chaos was the result.

          • Luke Somers says:

            Links to these feminist critiques? If they’re not going beyond ‘things other than the nuclear family should be allowed and freely accepted’, then that’s not ‘trying to destroy’. It might be destroying the hegemony of the nuclear family…

            ‘Raising kids as a community’ in particular seems weak.

            “divorce reform, the availability of welfare for unmarried women, changes to requirements for certain types of housing assistance, and the shape of current tax policy, all matter.”

            They all matter, and they all make doing things other than forming a nuclear family suck much less. This does not seem to me to be an attempt to destroy nuclear families.

            It’s like, if there was a rule that everyone had to have red roses on their front lawn, repealing that law to make things easier for people with sandy soil, who live in apartments, who are disabled, or who are subject to vandals… would not be an attempt to destroy red roses.

          • Echo says:

            Apologies for the unformatted link dump: I’m right in the middle of cooking.

            “the incest taboo is now necessarily only in order to preserve the family; and if we did away with the family we would in effect be doing away with repressions that mold sexuality into specific formations.”

            “The queer challenge to capitalism’s sacred family is the reason the right wing can’t ever give up its opposition to gay rights. ”

            ““The incest taboo can be destroyed only by destroying the nuclear family as the primary institution of the culture. The nuclear family is the school of values in a sexist, sexually repressed society”

            “Familialism is usually considered conservative or reactionary by its critics who argue that it is limited, outmoded and unproductive in modern Western society. As a social construct imposed on non-Western cultures, it has been criticized as being destructive.”


            The family is just another tool of capitalism that must be smashed.

            “The traditional patriarchal nuclear family should be replaced by free associations between men and women”

            We can do this all day. Can you find a single counter-example?

          • James Picone says:

            This is a cardiology problem, right?

            Like, if I wanted to depict the US Right as being into slavery in the 19th century, I bet I could find essays written by people in the Right advocating slavery, policies the Right advocated that made black people poorer, etc.. I’m not sure that we’d say it was a central position, though.

            Similarly, someone 50 years from now quoting radical feminists on transgender rights would not be accurately representing the views of the left overall, or even the views of the social-justice chunk of the left, but they’d be able to find a lot of essays.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @James Picone – “This is a cardiology problem, right?”

            A couple threads back, I was debating Nita on whether traditional parental authority in general and corporal punishment in particular constituted child abuse. There are various formulations of “childrens rights” and similar concepts, and of course the social engineering views typified by “It takes a village to raise a child”.

            I wouldn’t say it’s a view that has maintained strong support long-term, and obviously all the horrifying examples of the theory in practice behind the iron curtain had a lot to do with that, but it’s definitely a thread in the Left-wing tapestry. Watered-down versions of it are spread widely through left-wing thought, and highly concentrated versions are not infrequent.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ FacelessCraven
            Watered-down versions of it are spread widely through left-wing thought, and highly concentrated versions are not infrequent.

            That sounds like motte and bailey, respectively.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @houseboatonstyx – “That sounds like motte and bailey, respectively.”

            As in, the watered-down claims are the motte, and the extreme claims are the bailey? Or my referencing the watered-down version is the motte, and referencing the extreme version is the bailey? I’m not sure which you’re saying. Elaborate?

          • Echo says:

            If it is a cardiology problem, all you have to do to prove me wrong is present a single cardiologist who isn’t a murderer.
            All it would take is a single essay about how great and wholesome the patriarchal nuclear family is, from any leftist. And I’d be instantly and permanently refuted.

            I’m not making the lesser claim that anti-family policies are “common” on the left. I’m making the strong one that it’s universal, so that it’s easier (possible) for people to falsify.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            > All it would take is a single essay about how great and wholesome the patriarchal nuclear family is, from any leftist.

            Any True Leftist?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Houseboatonstyx – Maybe hit him with an example and find out? His claim is certainly a whole lot farther out there than I’d be willing to go, but I can’t actually think of any counterexamples.

          • Echo says:

            The obvious example is trade unionism, with “a job for every man to support a family”. But I suspect a modern leftist would find them too problematic to read enough to get a quotation…

          • James Picone says:

            All the people arguing for gay marriage and gay couples being able to adopt aren’t arguing in favour of family?

            Also, here is an opinion piece by “the chair of the National Foundation for Australian Women Social Policy Committee.” arguing against family-tax-benefit cuts being advocated by the major right-wing Australian party currently in power. Does that meet your bar?

            Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you’re arguing, given that you refer to the “patriarchal nuclear family” later. If you specifically mean man-as-breadwinner, woman-as-housewife, nothing else allowed, then yeah sure you’re going to find precious little support for that, but then I think you’re equivocating on ‘family’ in a way designed maximally to pull on emotions. I don’t care about that model of family.

            If you just mean people pairing off and staying in stable monogamous relationships to raise kids, which I how I read you originally, then the claim you’re making is ridiculous.

          • Luke Somers says:

            Doesn’t seem motte-and-bailey to me, really. Seems like a regular old spectrum of opinions and from the outside, only the most outrageous attract attention.

            It’s a bit like why, from the point of view of the irreligious, it might take some reminding that a majority of Christians in the US are not biblical literalists.

          • Echo says:

            … That article goes on and on about state enablement of non-traditional and separated/unmarried families, vs evil conservatives’ support for intact nuclear families. Is that really what you want to use as “pro nuclear family” evidence? Or even “stable and monogamous”, to use your looser definition?

            I mean, yeah, I’ll take it, but I’m disappointed enough that I’m going to go search for better evidence to disprove my claim.
            Is that really the best you can be bothered to find?

          • James Picone says:

            It was low-hanging fruit – that’s a major news site in Australia that I check on a regular basis, and I remembered that article when replying to you because it’d recently been published.

            If that’s your reading of the article I don’t know what to tell you. It seems pretty straightforward to me:
            – The government proposes to cut family tax benefit B (‘FTBB’)
            – This disproportionately affects low-income and single-parent families
            – The government suggests it’ll work out because it incentivises people to get work, but the author of the article thinks that’s a bit ridiculous.

            Discussion of how evil conservatives support the nuclear family isn’t really part of it (except, possibly, in the comments, which I haven’t read).

          • Luke Somers says:

            Echo, we have said that the Left also supports people with less traditional forms of family, or none.

            This does not constitute a war on nuclear families!

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Since Sartre was a Maoist, that doesn’t support your point that living without other people is an apolitical, generically human sentiment.
          Compare the militant liberal Karl Popper, admitting the risks of the Open Society he advocates:

          “As a consequence of its loss of organic character, an open society may become, by degrees, what I would like to call an ‘abstract society’. It may, to a considerable extent, lose the character of a concrete or real group of men … there are many people living in a modern society who have no, or extremely few, intimate personal contacts, who live in anonymity and isolation, and consequently unhappiness. For although society has become abstract, the biological makeup of man has not changed; men have social needs they cannot satisfy in an abstract society.” (Popper 1950, p. 174-5)

          This risk grows, dare I say it, organically from the New Left’s concept of justice. You can’t find a job through your civic network, because civic life is racist. When out of work, you can’t rely on church charity, because churches are havens of bigots. The individual has to become an anonymous direct dependent of the central government, either through a jobs program or welfare.

          • Yes, but its roots are even older than that. Check out Ferdinand Tönnies’s Gesellschaft-Gemeinschaft thing. Association vs. community. For some reason, Anglo culture inherently tends towards more association and less community, this can even be tracked back to the Middle Ages – most like exogamy being the ur-cause.

            The point is, in an alternate history with not leftist influence, the typical white Anglo in 1700 still cannot have the same kind of community bonding as e.g. a Mexican. They don’t even really understand the concept of an extended family really that well! They always though when your kids grow up you kinda become just friends. (Except the Scots in Appalachia who have this idea of clan type extended families. Supposedly they were less exogamous.)

            The reason Germans used to and Russians still see Anglos as weird is precisely this tendency towards loose associations which predates Leftism.

          • Luke Somers says:

            > You can’t find a job through your civic network, because civic life is racist…

            What? I’ve never heard of anyone on the left saying you couldn’t find a job through your civic network. What could easily have racially disparate impact would be an employer not giving due consideration for hiring to anyone not in their own civic network.

          • szopeno says:

            “employer not giving due consideration for hiring to anyone not in their own civic network.”

            I don’t get it. Why employer must consider hiring someone outside their own civic networks??!

          • Luke Somers says:

            If their civic network is 100% one race – e.g. caucasian -, and also happens to contain a disproportionate amount of the wealth in the community, then a policy of only in-hiring would lock other races out.

          • szopeno says:

            I still don’t get it. So what? One employer has locked out all other races. Why this one particular employer should care? Why anyone should care?

      • Anonymous says:

        At first, I didn’t read the whole article. My intuition was, “Civic life looks like structures. They’ve coded ‘structures = bad’. Therefore, they’re probably going to really struggle to accept civic life.” I re-read it after seeing this comment, and I’m more sure of this idea.

        I think this is the most important axis that separates the radical left from classical liberalism. Classical liberalism has faith in institutions and is concerned with how to create good institutions that will be positive for society. The radical position is that all institutions are inevitably structures which will be used for oppression and All Things Bad.

    • Pku says:

      The analogy kinda breaks down – My biggest problem joining sports as an adult was how hard the people who’d grown up playing took it and how angry they’d get about losing (or perceived cheating). Growing up playing sports seems to teach valuing winning to an irrational degree over actual good sportsmanship.
      I’d say this probably applies to the original point too, in that being “pro teams” doesn’t seem to teach you how to respect other people’s teams any better than being anti-team does (and everyone likes their own teams anyways, so its not hard to support them).

      • nyccine says:

        You’re missing that it wasn’t always like that. As the importance of team-based athletics as social bonding eroded, the people who stuck with it were the ones driven by competition. When I was getting into Little League, in the late-80’s, you had heard of nightmare parents “living their dreams through their kids,” but you usually never saw any, and a parent would have been shamed to be seen as such. Ditto with the over-competitive kids – drive was fine, even encourage, but there was a line you didn’t cross without getting called on it.

    • Saul Degraw says:

      I don’t think the “bowling alone” phenomenon can be blamed solely on the left. I think a lot of it is technological innovations. I like going to the movies. A lot of people tell me “Why should I go to movies, concerts, theatre, etc?” when I have a 50 inch HDTV at home, Netflix, hulu, videogames, and high-speed internet, and surround sound?”

      A lot of it is also personal choice. A few weeks ago I read about mega commutes in the Bay Area. A lot of people interviewed took the long commutes to get a big house with a pool and backyard. What is wrong with a somewhat smaller house, a community pool, and a public park?

      • FacelessCraven says:

        well, for the public pool question…

        also, people would probably not be cool with me practicing archery in a public park.

      • I think human bonding cannot really be based on just hanging out and having fun. Even common interests don’t always help that much. Two things work.

        One is if people really need help from each other. Lend me a lawnmower bro I will lend you my power washer bro kind of thing. Team with with 5 neighbors to remodel the houses of all of us. Does this still happen in rich countries? As people got richer, in the sense of consumption goods, they need not that help. Also, welfare. Welfare basically killed the borrow money from the neighbor thing.

        Another thing is that men’s groups need structure. Hanging out is too unstructured for the male mind. But imagine an organization with a goal, like a local mountaineering society, and doing the old fashioned way: elect chairman, treasurer, write rules, have a court of honor etc. men tend to thrive in orgs like that because it gives structure. Scouting is another good example. And the issue here is that these went out of fashion.

        • chaosmage says:

          Two other things that work, communal violence and communal intoxication, went out of fashion too.

          • Anonymous says:

            Communal intoxication went out of fashion? What? Huh? Are you joking?

          • chaosmage says:

            Not joking. I’m pretty sure intoxication has become more individualized. Communal drinking certainly still exists, but less so than it did.

            Some forms of institutionalized intoxication, like the daily rum ration for sailors in the Royal Navy, have been abolished. Others have shrunk: It used to be normal, if not typical, for most workers in a factory to celebrate the end of their shift with a drink together. Now they have to drive. Others forms of communal drinking have had exceptions added: Nowadays even a Catholic priest doesn’t have to drink the sacramental wine if he’s an alcoholic. That was unthinkable for nearly 2000 years. Pregnant mothers left the (socially accepted) drinking population fairly recently. It is no longer considered appropriate for even kids to have small alcoholic drinks on festive occasions.

            So yeah, communal drinking didn’t disappear, but I do think it’s in decline. Intoxication in general didn’t decline I guess, but it fractured. Even at parties, a larger number of different beverages and other drugs are now available, and you don’t get that particular vibe of “we’re all having the same” that drinkers find it easy to bond over.

          • LeeEsq says:

            The pub, saloon, tavern, or whatever you want to call it used to be a much more important social institution in Western life than it is now. During the 19th century, they function as working class equivalent of the Gentleman’s club, a center for local politics, and more. After Prohibition, they were mainly places to get a drink and lost some of their political and social functions. Now, they are places people hang out on their own or go with small groups of friends.

        • Community can also form around shared interests– there’s quite a bit of it in sf fandom, even there’s also been damage from culture wars.

          I suggest that it takes strong shared interests, not just something people think is kind of pleasant, and it probably doesn’t work unless there can be stable Dunbar numberish sub-groups. In other words, you can build on an interest which is fairly rare but not extremely rare. Or you can go local.

          What you can’t do is build community among tens of thousands of people who show up at a sporting event. Would anyone care to talk about whether community develops at large commercial conventions?

    • Tatu Ahponen says:

      The socialist movement in Europe spent decades constructing alternatives to the social institutions of the bourgeoisie – it didn’t only encompass the labour unions and political parties, but a whole world of theaters, sports teams, mutual aid societies, reading clubs, co-ops basically, almost any social institution you can think of. From this perspective, the analysis that “As far as I can tell, the Left spent a few generations fighting against teams” seems rather hilarious.

      • Magicman says:

        Do you mean socialist Europe or “socialists in Europe” ?
        If you are talking about socialist Europe then the two situations can’t simply be compared to one another. In eastern bloc countries and in Nazi Germany. The state built up a network of organisations (co-opting some, creating others) which served to reinforce the state and provide acceptable outlets for leisure activities. Within the frame of this arguement it seems reasonable to propose that the “left” might use a different approaches when it controls the state to those it pursues when it forms a significant minority within the state.
        However I don’t really agree with the idea that the left is the cause of the breakdown in teams. Or that a single left exists spanning multiple countries. Instead I would say that a number of factors, right-left-corporate-social-technological have broken down family-ethnic & community bonds that once existed (especially in major urban centres).

    • I am not sure I can be as charitable as you are. What if it is not an about-face, but the whole idea has always been to destroy the teams of “oppressors” while strengthen the teams of “oppressed”? The point is, I don’t even have to accuse them of lying, I just need to point out that the fight against teams was done in the kinds of media that are typically consumed by the “oppressors”. So it was obviously a message to them. Have you ever seen any evidence they sent the same message in the “oppressed” media or communication channels as well? To use an US based example, the black church communities, did anyone tell them specifically in the kind of media they consume, which is probably not the NYT, that it is a bad thing?

      As a working hypothesis, I assume the idea has always been “oppressor groups bad, oppressed groups good”. To use a Euro based example: Communists, who have always been the most hostile to nationalism and churches, have always had extremely tight group cohesion, “the goal is nothing, the movement is everything”.

      • Anonymous says:

        As a working hypothesis, I assume the idea has always been “oppressor groups bad, oppressed groups good”.

        Well, not quite. We had a whole thing in my queer theory class about ‘homonormativity’. At first, it seems nice and reasonable that they’re actually not just identifying oppressors/oppressed (falling victim to the oppression olympics) and determining good/bad groups from that. However, the only way to make sense of things at this point is to assume that all groups/structures/institutions/norms are coercive and oppressive. Then, the goal is always to destabilize groups/structures/institutions/norms. This is precisely why it’s almost impossible to adopt civic life.

    • LeeEsq says:

      My take on the narrowing of civil life is different. Civil life didn’t decline for political reasons but for geographic and social ones. The traditional type of civil organizations worked when life was more communal in the sense that interaction with other people could not be easily avoided. The type of civic organizations that some people more thrived more in traditional small towns and villages or ethnic urban neighborhoods. Once the modern suburb with it’s single family homes on relatively large lots and lack of walkability came along and television and the fridge made it possible to entertain at home more easily, civic organizations declined because they could not survive in the new geographic environment.

  18. Jiro says:

    I don’t thionk a headline which says the US is blamed for bombing a hospital really counts as rocks pelting people. It doesn’t use the words “US bombs hospital” but the implication is clearly there, which it isn’t in the other example.

    • Pku says:

      If you know it, you can definitely see it, but it’s not obvious if you haven’t followed the news (a friend who read that headline over my shoulder assumed it meant terrorists attacked the hospital at first).

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        At the start of the news cycle, it was really unknown if the US did it. That headline seems perfect, since it says 1) the event happened, and 2) the US is the chief suspect.

    • RCF says:

      Was the issue with “rocks pelt people” that it was vague about agency? I thought the issue was that when used correctly, the verb “pelt” takes the thrower, not throwee, as the subject; the thing thrown is the indirect object, and thus the rocks didn’t pelt anyone, Palestinians pelted with rocks. But with correct usage of the verb “hit”, the thing thrown can be subject.

      • Marc Whipple says:

        It was “vague about agency” in that it could be read as implying that the rocks mysteriously transported themselves through the air without human intervention. Or perhaps there was a freak landslide!

        The real issue is that it is a laughably transparent attempt to diminish the fact that Palestinians with rocks and other primitive weapons kill Israelis: in other words, they’re dangerous, and Israelis aren’t just oppressing them for no reason other than eeeeeeeevul.

        I’m sure you realize that, but at some point, even those of us with the obnoxious pedant gene have to concede that we’re being obtuse. 🙁

        • RCF says:

          Are you intending to assert that I am pretending to not know something that I do know, and that I am an obnoxious pedant who is being obtuse?

  19. Jack V says:

    “making someone consume sauerkraut juice makes them more likely to support Nazis”

    Maybe they should have stopped the survey, then! 🙂

    I also thought, “I’ve not tasted sauerkraut juice, but I’m not surprised it made people angrier”.

    • Pku says:

      I have. It did kinda make me see the charm in violent extremism towards whoever made it (I don’t think it was the jews, but maybe back in the old days it was the drink that went with gefilte fish?)

    • chaosmage says:

      It tastes like the liquid that you can buy pickled cucumbers in, seasoned with vinegar. Helps with scurvy, too.

    • Vamair says:

      A single datapoint: I love me some sauerkraut juice when done right, but I like sour taste and also I’m Russian and pickled cabbage is among our national food. It also shouldn’t prime “Germany” here at all, but should prime “alcohol” as sauerkraut juice is a popular cure for hangover.

  20. Sigivald says:

    Note that on the Fiestaware, there’s uranium in the glaze, not paint.

    Ceramic glazes are permanently fused to the surface, and don’t flake like paints may; the [almost certainly overblown by radiophobia] fear was that acidic foods might eventually manage to leach enough uranium out to possibly be vaguely harmful.

    (Probability? I don’t know that anyone’s really done the work to see how much actually happens, but I’d expect it to be better-bonded to the glaze than lead is to the matrix in lead crystal, which is the closest parallel that comes to mind.

    I wouldn’t worry about using Fiestaware, myself.

    (See also thus; contact with a 10″ uranium glaze plate produced a 0.0024 mrem/hr contact effective dose. The very useful Banana Equivalent Dose is .01 mrem; so, hold the plate for four hours, eat a banana, same radiation exposure.

    Leaching is, just like with lead crystal, dependent on contact time and acidity, and reduces over time simply because the material is gone [this suggests a highly acidic pre-treatment would reduce it significantly]; their estimate of nothing-but-Fiestaware for a year was 40mrem. 4000 BED is less to sneeze at, I suppose, but note – per Wikipedia – that ambient radiation in the US Capitol building is 85 mrem/yr. just from the granite construction emitting radon.

    In other words, “don’t worry about it, just maybe don’t use it to store your tomato sauce for a week”.)

    • Uranium really isn’t that radioactive. It’s got a half life of a billion years which means you don’t see decays very often. If it didn’t have such a long half life then you wouldn’t find Uranium ore around, it would all be gone already. When you have a nuclear reactor containment breach what you worry about isn’t the uranium but the reaction byproducts which often are horrifyingly radioactive.

      • Bugmaster says:

        Isn’t uranium still a heavy metal, though — just like lead, but more so ?

        • geist says:

          Less so, in fact. (i mean less toxic, though it is heavier)

          • Bugmaster says:

            How come it’s less toxic ? Just curious.

          • Pku says:

            And does “less toxic” mean “almost as bad” or “practically harmless”?

          • Tom Womack says:

            The problem with lead is that it reacts with -SH groups on cysteines in the active sites of enzymes, which uranium doesn’t, and that it behaves chemically enough like calcium for other enzymes to pick it up but not enough like calcium for the enzymes to work having picked it up.

            Uranium is bad for your kidneys, but I haven’t found a biological explanation of why … I found some Russian research saying that breathing UF6 was bad for the lungs of dogs, but that’s true of volatile metal fluorides in general and determining it was at best a waste of dogs.

        • Many people still use lead based pottery glazes too. At a population level it’s worth not having that but from a personal safety level it’s not really a danger worth worrying about.

          A lot of people think that there’s something scary about a 100 grams of Uranium just sitting on a table but really the radiation it’s giving off is tiny and it’s way less dangerous than 100g of mercury.

      • RCF says:

        There are quite a errors with that post. Half-life is not a property on an element, it’s a property of a particular isotope. U-238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, but the uranium found in power plants is not 238 but 235, which has a half-life of 704 million years. And having a long half-life isn’t necessary to be present in nature; some relatively short-live isotopes exist as products of other radioactive isotopes.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      So when they say it’s useful as a classroom demonstration and Geiger counter calibrator, could you use a banana for both those things too?

  21. Sniffnoy says:

    Regarding Kiribati — note that Kiribati consists of multiple islands; the one shown in that picture is Kiritimati.

    The other two villages on Kiritimati, not shown in the picture, are known as Tabwakea and Poland.

    (Also, apparently Paris is abandoned.)

    • AlphaGamma says:

      Also, Kiribati orthography is interesting as the language only has 20 phonemes, and the alphabet has 11 letters plus the digraph NG.

      Kiribati used to be known as the Gilbert Islands- Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) is the best rendering of “Gilberts” in the local language. Likewise, Kiritimati is also called Christmas Island, and the two names are pronounced similarly.

  22. Tatu Ahponen says:

    When it comes to labour’s share of income declining, the most obvious explanation would be the weakening of the influence of the movement whose purpose is increasing labour’s share of income – you know, the labour movement.

    Also, when it comes to poverty and brain, this probably bears mentioning:

    • That is a non-explanation, as it is easy to see one step further: the labour movement’s one and only real weapon has always been “then we won’t work” (striking). And since “no worries, I’ll just move the factory to Asia, please keep on not working, the dole office is that way” became a valid answer, it obviously became toothless – or rather transformed into yet another political special interest group who is more interested in taxpayer money than this kind of direct pressuring of employers.

      • CatCube says:

        And before, factories were much more likely to be sited at the intersections of transport corridors bringing in raw materials–like Pittsburgh and Detroit being important for steel and cars because they were close to coal sources and were on the Great Lakes to bring in iron ore. When transportation became cheap, even if they didn’t move to Asia, they could still move the plant to another area of the United States to break strikes.

  23. IIRC, Aleutian Alaska is both the eastern- and westernmost portion of the US.

    • Izaak Weiss says:

      Yeah, west and east sure are hard to define! But Udall and Udall aren’t that arbitrary.

      • Pku says:

        We could make a natural definition for easternmost/westernmost by requiring that the cutoff lines doesn’t intersect any US territory. That might leave a few places in the pacific where we could cut off Guam or something – we can get rid of that loophole by forcing the line to maximize average distance from the US. That way it would pass through India or something, which doesn’t work from a global perspective but hell, we’re looking from an american perspective anyways.

  24. Tatu Ahponen says:

    Also, the reactions in the comments of that post are… fascinating. People flat-out denying the results of the study based on nothing expect their own preconceptions of North Africans and France, asking sarcastic questions like “No ghettoes in France?” (as if the someone was claiming that the levels of intermarriage would solve *all* the problems), bringing up countries like Germany and Denmark to disprove developments in France (as if the immigration and integration policies in these countries were at all similar) and so on and so on.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to admit that these results are what follows relatively logically from France’s long-standing policies of assimilation and laïcité (the latter also affecting the immigrants so they become less religious and thus have less reason to not intermarry)?

    • Urstoff says:

      MR comments have been trending fiercely nativist/Sailerist for a while now. Tyler covering the Syrian refugee crisis fairly frequently has really riled them up.

      Their general argument is a nice closed loop:

      1. People share cultural characteristics with their country of origin.
      2. Country X (namely, Middle Eastern and African countries) have bad cultures.
      3. People from Country X have bad cultural characteristics.
      4. Countries with good cultures (namely, countries with majority populations of Western European descent) should not accept People from Country X because they will ruin the good culture of the their destination country.

      If you want to read it more charitably, add in the necessary probabilistic qualifiers (people from Country X tend to have bad cultural characteristics, etc.).

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I don’t know how MR comments got so bad; certainly Tyler himself doesn’t seem like a natural fit for such people. This is my nightmare scenario for SSC.

        • Echo says:

          If you don’t challenge received wisdom, you don’t get an infestation of the kind of people received wisdom labels evil.
          There’s two obvious solutions, and it’ll be interesting to see which one you end up picking. And inspiring if you somehow manage to find a third answer.

          • xq says:

            If you don’t challenge received wisdom, you don’t get an infestation of the kind of people received wisdom labels evil.
            This claim is very easily falsified by reading comments on mainstream local newspapers.

        • Urstoff says:

          Complete lack of moderation, I think (although that doesn’t explain why now versus why not five years ago). A good commentary community (it seems to me) requires some moderation and cultivation to encourage civil discourse and diverse opinions rather than simply becoming an echo chamber for one increasingly extreme viewpoint with the occasional dissenter that gets shouted down. TC and AT only very occasionally make comments, and I imagine the only ones (if any) that get moderated are those containing good amounts of profanity.

        • brad says:

          There’s almost no moderation. The only things I’ve seen disappear are some posts by a guy that has a serious grudge against the school he teaches at, and the post you rot13’d the other day.

          He also rarely engages with the commentators to set a tone or anything like that.

          Edit: as for why now instead of 5 or 10 years ago, more discoverability. In earlier times law or economic blogs were niches read mostly by academics in law or economics (same is probably true in other fields, I don’t know). But the good ones started getting linked all over the place and soon you were seeing people come in from redstate dot com and slate dot com and the like.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            When you say “the post I rot13ed the other day”, do you mean someone posted the exact same thing on MR? Interesting.

          • brad says:

            I can’t remember if it was exactly the same, but it was at least very very similar including the part at the end about copying and pasting this elsewhere.

            That was one of the very few posts I’ve noticed disappear in the comment’s section over there. I remember it specifically because deleting it screwed up the threading in the system they use and the replies to it ended up in random other places.

        • suntzuanime says:

          My conspiracy theory is that Tyler is in fact a natural fit for such people, but doesn’t want to be thrown out of polite society. So he maintains a mild edge in his blog posts proper, with obscurantist Straussian hints of a sharper edge that his comments section can then pick up. Under our beloved Section 230, he’s not responsible for his comments section, so he gets his toxic problematic ideas out there without getting in trouble with the New York Times or getting disinvited to the good cocktail parties.

          • Urstoff says:

            So the Straussian of his clearly pro-Syrian refugee posts is that he’s really anti-Syrian refugee?

          • suntzuanime says:

            No, I suspect that may be a point of genuine disagreement. I was speaking more towards the larger puzzle of how his comment section came to be infested with “such people”.

          • E. Harding says:

            Urstoff, the thing is, he is clearly addressing these posts to a hostile audience. They may be meant to rile up that hostile audience, but I’m genuinely uncertain of Cowen’s intentions here. If he assumed the sale and addressed these posts to a sympathetic audience, a sympathetic audience would spring up.

          • Yeah, that’s exactly what I think Tyler does. I think he wants the comments he has. He wants an informed, intelligent commentariat that opposes his value system and scorns much of his observations.

            About the only time I saw him truly taken aback by his commenters’ disagreement was when he got blasted for congratulating Bryan Caplan for homeschooling, since “homeschooling” apparently meant “ask Bryan’s rich and famous friends to lecture his kids for free.”

            His blog is hugely popular and he can do anything he wants–including leaving comments off entirely, which he did for years. So the idea that he doesn’t have exactly the comments he wants is bizarre.

          • Careless says:

            It’s important to remember that Tyler likes to troll his readers

        • Dan Simon says:

          Based on my limited interactions with/observations of Cowen, I think he’s a perfectly natural fit for idiots of all stripes–but particularly those who are quite certain they are in fact very, very clever.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            Banned for one week for somehow being unable to generalize “I will ban people who needlessly insult Bryan Caplan” to “I will ban people who needlessly insult Tyler Cowen”

        • baconbacon says:

          Cowan almost never engages in the comments, which makes a big difference.

        • E. Harding says:

          I don’t think the MR comments are bad; they’re mediocre. I’ve heard of MR for years before I started reading it, but I only started reading it when Sailer linked to it a couple of times. Tyler linking to one of my posts when I first commented there, thus granting me something like 800 pageviews convinced me to stay. Yes, the lack of moderation is frustrating. Impersonators have impersonated me and Art Deco, and in response, my comments were deleted, and the impersonators’ left!

          Consequently, I was forced to impersonate Cowen to get his attention (which totally worked, but not at getting future impersonators’ comments deleted) and created a verification method for my comments, which led to the flow of impersonators’ comments to greatly diminish.

          Tyler is a natural fit for such people because his blog does not lean Left, it is insufficiently libertarian for libertarian ideologues to cluster around it, Sailer links to it (and comments there), Tyler rarely interacts with the comments, and what Tyler links to fit with the sort of things these people like to discuss and comment on. Also, hardly any Americans support Open Borders, anyway.

          The Econlog comments would have ended up like this, too, were it not for Mr. Landsburg’s wife.

          My comments are sometimes deleted by Cowen and Just another MR commentor’s comments are frequently deleted by Tabarrok.

          Why’s this your nightmare scenario? It would only be possible with the unserious moderation Cowen provides.

          • Urstoff says:

            “The ship is perfectly seaworthy!” says Captain of sinking ship.

          • Psmith says:

            I’m with E. on this one. MR comments are quarrelsome and tribal, but reasonably entertaining, often quite informative, and not an excessive circlejerk.

          • Careless says:

            Just another MR commentor’s comments are frequently deleted by Tabarrok.

            That’s odd. Isn’t he the one pretending to be an open borders advocate?

      • Randy M says:

        Makes more sense than geographical determinism.

      • I fail to see the fallacy in this. Pretty much how I think on the gut level, too, although did not work it out yet. Pretty sure it is right up to 3, especially if you consider bad culture not only teaches badly, it also traumatizes you in all sorts of ways and then you even have psychological stuff to deal with, too.

        Perhaps it is clearer if you see bad culture as NORMAL culture. We WEIRDS are not normal, and it is simply so that normal people in the third world did not adapt to our ultra-weird ways like launching a lawsuit if you have a problem with someone instead of the perfectly natural rallying up the clan and launching a vendetta attitudes.

        If you are bothered with racial overtones, use this parallel: bad third world cultures are like vikings. We would have exactly the same problem with lily-white vikings: radically different ideas about solving problems with violence vs. civilized ways, and so on. Get it? Third world culture, like viking culture, is normal in the biological sense, we aren’t ,so these way they cannot live well here, and we could not live well there (even the toughest guy here would be a “beta” there).

        Perhaps, if I really want to find a potentially fallacious part is perhaps that claiming that local good culture is not powerful enough to transform the imported bad culture. Is this your point?

        But that can be argued as that the problem is that to transform imported culture you need to present an attractive alternative. And good cultures are not so proud and sure about themselves anymore, there is less romantic flag-waving and more self-critical “we were horrible colonists, sorry” and thus the immigrants simply don’t see anything attractive to assimilate to. This just makes sense? I mean I am an immigrant/expat myself although it is one EU country to the other, but I mean I too would much rather assimilate to something along the lines of “we rock, fuck yeah, join us to kick ass together, we are awesome (flag wave)” than “we are very sorry, sorry, we were/are just very bad people, racisthomophobicsexistoppressive we are really sorry, sorry” – it is just hard to see the appeal in joining such a losing team.

        Maybe not everybody understands my point. I will rephrase. Good cultures may think that despite their masochism, they have an attractive offer to immigrants, like better life, rule of law, higher quality of living, healthcare, schooling and so on. But they forget the very basic logic of group dynamics, that the power trip of winning matters more than a quality of living – see spectator sports. So the migrants would rather assimilate to a culture that goes on a winning streak kicking ass, and it requires they emit a message of national pride, than a self-critical, self-humiliating team. I mean, as in spectator sports, you may support a team in a losing streak but never a team who is not proud of itself. Get it? I mean I roll the same way, too, it is not just assumptions about others.

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          If you look at the official line of the French state, or quite a many other European states, it is quite a bit closer to flag-waving and we-kick-ass attitutes than “we are sorry”.

        • John Schilling says:

          The first Viking you bring into your effeminate civilized society is probably an asset. Unless he’s a very, very stupid Viking (paging Thor, pre-Marvel version), he’s smart enough to know there are enough BETA CUCKOLD ORBITERS to pincushion him with arrows from a cowardly distance if he causes too much trouble. But there are enough people that you wouldn’t mind seeing battle-axed that you can find a lucrative, enjoyable niche for one Viking if you aren’t very very stupid yourself.

          The last Viking you bring into your civilized society, well, he’s the last because after that it’s not your society any more, nor civilized. Enjoy your thralldom.

          In the middle, you’ll have the interminable debates between “Vikings are good, more Vikings are better, haven’t you looked at the history of Viking immigration so far, we should totally open our borders”, and “Vikings are Bad, haven’t you seen what the Vikings did to England/Wales/France/Ireland/Russia…, we should totally build a wall to keep every single Viking out”. Good luck finding the actual optimum for either Viking immigration or Viking border control policy.

          And for the non-hypothetical historical example of the middle ground, consider what happened when the United States started bringing in immigrants from the historically peaceful and temperate Emerald Isle. All the usual predictions of blood in the streets, anarchy and chaos, the end of civilization, which were sort of borne out at first but then we and they got smart about it and turned the Irish into the backbone of our east coast police departments for the better part of a century. But that was stumbling into the optimum by dumb luck, not rational planning.

          • Winfried says:

            I think that immigrants/refugees from Islamic nations would most definitely be willing to help police morality in Western society, but I don’t feel like that’s an acceptable role to most citizens.

          • Devilbunny says:

            My great-great-grandfather was an immigrant from said island, and family history says that he bailed on New York (eventually settling in a small town in Indiana that bears our name) to skip a murder rap. So I think the locals may have had it right.

        • Urstoff says:

          (3) does not follow for self-selected immigrants, (4) needs more argument given USA is major counter-example number 1 (note that proponents of more open immigration don’t say it will be painless, just that it’s a net improvement, often a large one, in the long-run), and (1) and (2) are fuzzy enough to be close to completely untestable. Now, these fault may all be due to my phrasing, so I would welcome a honed form of the argument. Add to that that even if the whole thing is true, it doesn’t budge my moral calculus much given that I don’t value the lives over fellow citizens much more than non-citizens (when speaking in terms of policy decisions, anyway; at the personal level, you of course can’t help but value your family/neighbor/friends higher than others, and the people in your grocery store higher than random people in Africa).

          • Randy M says:

            3 may not be proven, but it’s still the way to bet, especially when people are fleeing due to poverty, warfare, etc.
            As for the US disproving mass diversity being a peril, there’s a heck of a lot of ruin in a nation of this size.
            For 1, I’d say it’s still the way to bet (sorry, “where your priors should lie”) if “culture” has any meaning at all.
            For 2, the topic at hand sort of argues for that (“which way are the migrants going again?”).
            I say that as someone quite willing to see faults of his own culture, traits exhibited by the people here collectively have, over the last few centuries, made this a more pleasant place to live with enough excess to attract people from all other cultures, including those with quite strong attachmentst to their own cultures.
            But it sounds like I’m saying nothing you haven’t read, and the upshot of recent trends is that we will probably within our lifetimes see the truth of the matter more plainly, so there is that at least.

          • Definitely decent points.

            >(3) does not follow for self-selected immigrants,

            This is an excellent truth, up to a point. The 19th century Italian guy who blew all his inheritance on an ship ticket to America with nothing to await him in the beginning but a menial job and maybe later a homestead. Today the cost of the journey is far lower and less perilous, and there is all kinds of welfare and caretaking waiting for “refugees”. I admit, there is still something impressive about people daring to go on shitty boats on the Mediterran or paying several thousand euros to human smugglers (most likely they sold their house and blew it all on it). This is certainly a sign of courage and motivation. I would not call these people passive or lazy. However the big question is if this is a courage and motivation in the good direction? And if it necessarily keeps up? What if after spending so much and taking such a perilous journey one actually justifiedly thinks they earned now an easy life on the welfare check? It would not be an entirely weird way to think. Especially not in that Europe where the white natives tend(ed) to think 25 years in a comfy office job at the state railroad earned them a long and cushy pension. The locals are not very good at refusing an easy life at someone else’s expense either, so this is even something problematic if gets assimilated to.

            >(4) needs more argument given USA is major counter-example number 1 (note that proponents of more open immigration don’t say it will be painless, just that it’s a net improvement, often a large one, in the long-run), and

            Historically, the USA was very, very good at flag-waving nationalism. There is still more of this going on than say in Germany – they don’t say pledges of allegience, don’t keep flags in classrooms and don’t have flagpoles in their gardens. This is a longer story, but basically a propositional nation based on lots of idealistic values can easily get more proud about itself and thus presenting an ideal assimilation target than ones shaped by random history and ethnicity.

            And yet, this assimilation thing is lower and lower even in the USA as well precisely because there is now more masochism. You can read these articles in PJ Media how Mexicans support the visiting Mexican football team and drive around with Mexican flags in the rear window. What is even more telling that when in the 19th century Johann Schmidt moved to America he changed his name to John Smith. Today it sounds almost ridiculous anyone would do anything like this.

            > Add to that that even if the whole thing is true, it doesn’t budge my moral calculus much given that I don’t value the lives over fellow citizens much more than non-citizens

            This is something difficult for me, for I am far more inherently tribal. Maybe I can offer a simple argument of selfishness: you yourself are probably going to get more from fellow citizens than strangers, in general? I am very much unashamedly selfish about things like this. I see no reason why not, ethics never interested me much, it is usually just signalling anyway. I see a value in unselfishness as a psychological benefit for myself: clearly things like reducing my ego by focusing on helping others is a good thing for my psyche, meaning this it in a broadly Buddhist sense, but I can do plenty of that altruism on a purely patriotic level. If my goal was maxing out global utility, it would be sub-ideal, but if my goal is just how it effects my own psyche, it works well enough.

            But if you want more ethical arguments, you can focus on two things. First, truly meaningfully helping other people requires being closely familiar with their circumstances, mindset and so on. Second, I don’t know the official name but I saw a concept of cascade utilitarianism thrown around here. Namely, that you should be helping people who are the most likely and most efficient at helping others too, those who are going to pay it forward.

            Also, the usual civilization-is-fragile conservative stuff. If – if – the West breaks, who is going to be beacon for the third world? Then they will be hopeless forever, as they are clearly unable to bootstrap themselves. Well, maybe China will help them.

            How could the West break? I am not going to paint a picture of abstract dsytopia, but I have a very handy empirical data. Housing. Immigrants gotta live somewhere? Here is an interesting data. Vienna, Austria is winning these quality of life awards for many reasons, one of them is the municipal government investing really a lot into housing. Building 20x as many flats as say Munich a year. And good ones. And yet, it is somehow not enough! If you go the private way and have about $60K to part-buy a flat and pay a rent for the rest, you must sign up while it is still in planning phase as the waiting lists are filling up quickly. If you don’t have this money and want to go the public way, rent from the municipal gov, there is one website to sign up, called wohnservice and long story short, it is difficult, and if you win a place in a waiting list now you can wait a year for it to move in. So clearly, even with this huge amounts of money put into housing it is not working at all. And cities who don’t do this, London, Berlin, are crazy expensive and unaffordable. Unless you want to live really third world and start a family in a maisonette.

            So even the very basic thing of housing all the people is totally fragile in Europe.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Your wrong about the behavior of 19th century German immigrants to the United States. Most of them maintained their German identity for generations. They lived in German speaking villages or neighborhoods, worshipped in German speaking churches, taught their kids German and made sure they were fluent, and founded German language newspapers and other cultural institutions. Most Anglo-Americans did not like them because even the religious Protestants among them did not properly observe the Sabbath in an Anglo-Protestant way. Most maintained a pro-German position during World War I and suffered because of that.

          • NN says:

            Saying that the US was better at “flag waving nationalism” in the 19th century than it is today shows a serious lack of historical perspective. Before the Civil War, people would say “these United States” rather than “the United States.” Thanksgiving was made a national holiday in 1863. The 4th of July was made an official holiday in 1870, and a paid holiday for Federal employees in 1938. The Pledge of Allegiance was composed in 1892, and it was endorsed by Congress in 1942 (“under God” was added in 1954). The Star Spangled Banner was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and was made the national anthem in 1931.

            Looking at the dates, it seems clear to me that “American nationalism” started to be really pushed after the Civil War for obvious reasons, and reached its peak during the 1930s-50s for equally obvious reasons. That’s why there is so much emphasis on the things that America supposedly has that the Nazis and the Commies supposedly did not: democracy, wholesome small town farmers and shopkeepers, churches, immigrant melting pot, pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps, etc.

            It is simply wrong to say that 19th century immigrants were exposed to more American flag-waving nationalism/patriotism than more recent immigrants.

          • Chris Conner says:

            @ NN:

            Before the Civil War, people would say “these United States” rather than “the United States.”

            A Google Ngram search on those two phrases shows that “the United States” has always been completely dominant, to the point that “these United States” is hard to distinguish from the x axis.

          • NN says:

            A Google Ngram search on those two phrases shows that “the United States” has always been completely dominant, to the point that “these United States” is hard to distinguish from the x axis.

            And again I learn not to believe everything I read. Still, the Civil War itself demonstrates that American nationalism wasn’t very strong in the first half of the 19th century.

          • John Schilling says:

            The more relevant distinction is “the United States is…” vs. “the United States are…”. “These [X]” is only one way of expressing the pluralism of X, particularly when X is already in plural form, and it’s a clumsy one not likely to be used unless someone is specifically trying to make a point. But if the construction calls for is/are, that is in standard English quite unambiguous as to whether the speaker is thinking of a singular or a plural.

            And while that shift sort of did happen in the mid-19th century, it’s complicated, and not a straightforward result of the American Civil War.

          • Careless says:

            Most Anglo-Americans did not like them because even the religious Protestants among them did not properly observe the Sabbath in an Anglo-Protestant way.

            How am I supposed to observe Saturday, again?

      • Sastan says:

        Tyler’s take on immigration is extreme, so much so that it pushes many people who may be all for immigration, but recognize the need for SOME regulation of it, and that those regulations be enforced, into camp with anti-immigrant folks.

        Open borders is a fringe position. It is not well supported in the public, but much of the discourse is saying anyone who thinks even having a border is a good idea is a Horrible Terrible Racist Who Wants Small Children To Die.

        If that makes me a Sailerite, hoist the Mains’l.

        • Urstoff says:

          Tyler has often said that he is not for open borders (Alex seems to be, though). The position that has recently gotten everyone riled up is that the US should take in 200,000 Syrian refugees. I would doubt that if your opposition to that modest amount is strong, then you would want to open immigration more than it currently is.

          • John Schilling says:

            200,000 Syrian refugees would be roughly 20% of the total US immigrant population in an average year, more than from any other single nation, and more than the entire current Syrian-American population. Immigrants are not fungible, and it is entirely reasonable to see this particular batch of immigrants to be problematic at the proposed scale while still favoring expanded immigration generally.

          • Urstoff says:

            20% of a number that is too small in the first place (hence, wanting more open immigration), so that’s not really a strike against it. And regarding them as “problematic” seems to rely on the argument I outlined above. It seems to me that a plan that settles them in lots of communities across the country rather than just tossing them all in Detroit (or wherever) would eliminate whatever prospect there was of them being “problematic”, unless you mean people from that country period are problematic, which needs an actual argument (and seems to argue in favor of immigration restrictions from that country, which is not generally consistent with more open immigration).

          • Jiro says:

            How do you settle them across the country rather thasn putting them all in the same area, without totalitarian restrictions to keep them from all moving to the same area anyway?

          • keranih says:

            @Urstoff –

            1) That the current rate of immigration is “too small” is an opinion, and not everyone shares it. (A metric. Someone give me a metric for determining the optimal rate of immigration, please!) Likewise, many people are concerned about the immigration system and how abysmally it seems to function, and think that a better area to focus on is the system fix, rather than simply changing the rules for the drama of the week.

            2) If the number of immigrants is not increased, then the Syrian refugees will be displacing others. Some of these displaced would (by whatever measure one picked, and there are many) be more “deserving” of admission than a majority of the Syrians.

            3) If the people are “being placed” that seems to indicate that their housing, assistance, etc is being provided for them, rather than purchased by the immigrants themselves. One way of maximizing the number of immigrants would “can be placed” would be to choose areas with low COL. So Detroit it is.

            Likewise, both local environment and economies of scale would make it far better to locate the refugees in groups, so as to maximize the use of translators, lawyers, etc, and a supportive community would allow the newcomers to transit off assistance faster than a community where the refugees feel more dependent on government assistance. Again, Detroit!

          • John Schilling says:

            20% of a number that is too small in the first place (hence, wanting more open immigration), so that’s not really a strike against it.

            I repeat, immigrants are not fungible. Even ignoring the possibility that Syrian immigrants may be objectively worse than others, if I’m seeking to increase cultural diversity I’d rather have ten new groups of 20,000 rather than one of 200,000. Particularly if that big one is going to settle in one place and become locally dominant; as others have pointed out the “settle in one place” thing is probably going to happen whether you want it to or not.

          • Sastan says:

            1: I perhaps did not make my characterization clear. You are correct that Tabbarok is the Open Borders advocate, although I think Cowen isn’t that far behind. In the second instance I was speaking more generally.

            2: As to the Syrians, I don’t have a solid position on their immigration to the US. I do know that Syrians coming from Turkey aren’t “refugees” in any realistic sense. They may have been refugees when they passed from Iraq or Syria into Lebanon or Turkey, but they aren’t anymore. Doesn’t mean they aren’t in dire straits and it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take priority over other immigrants who are in less terrible conditions, but let’s not exaggerate the threat here. The world is full of people who are quite desperately poor compared to the US. If they are no longer under threat of violence, they are not refugees, they are economic migrants just like the Croatians, Mexicans, Guatemalans etc.

            3: I think the metric for how many immigrants to allow in should be the degree to which the nation can integrate them. We are all richer for the bits of foreign culture we have integrated. But we will all be much, much poorer if we degrade our own institutions by overwhelming them with people who actively oppose those institutions. I happen to think the absolute number is less important than the values of the home culture, and the immigrant’s position within it.

    • Jiro says:

      Also, the reactions in the comments of that post are… fascinating. People flat-out denying the results of the study based on nothing expect their own preconceptions of North Africans and France

      Someone in the comments in Marginal Revolution said that he has actually read the survey and that it defines as “descendant of immigrants” someone with a parent who is an immigrant. If this is in fact true, the survey is worthless.

      • Tatu Ahponen says:


        • Murphy says:

          Ah I see, they define immigrants as anyone born outside france, whatever their nationality at birth. So if children are born outside France to french parents then they still get counted as immigrants.

          Ditto ethnic french living in neighboring countries within the EU.

          It would be like a study of immigrants marriage patterns in texas which drew no line between immigrants from Mexico and immigrants from New Mexico.

          If you read a study which showed that immigrants standards of living were really high in Texas but then found they’d counted californians who moved to Texas as immigrants would that screw up the validity when what people are actually interested in are the living conditions of actual immigrants?

          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            “The 2008-9 survey Trajectoires et origines shows that forty-four percent of the descendants of masculine immigrants of Algerian or Moroccan origin have a spouse who is neither an immigrant nor a descendant of immigrants. The rate rises to 60 percent for those of Tunisian origin, falls to 42 percent for those of Turkish origin, rises back to 65 per cent for those of sub-Saharan African origin (we cannot, in this latter case, distinguish between Muslims and non-Muslims). For women, the rates are a little lower, which is to be expected in disintegrating patrilineal cultures, but they remain at a very high level for those of Algerian (41 per cent), Moroccan (34 per cent) and sub-Saharan African (40 per cent) origin… – See more at:

            In case of Algerians, you might have some pieds-noirs, but how many ethnically French immigrants do you believe France is receiving from Morocco or Turkey?

          • Jiro says:

            According to the person in the comments the problem is the other way around. French people from the former colonies don’t get counted as immigrants, which is okay. The problem is that Muslim immigration to France predates recent political problems–it goes back to the 1960’s. If you define “descendant of immigrants” as “has a parent who is an immigrant”, you exclude people whose grandparents and great grandparents are immigrants.

          • Randy M says:

            I other words, this could well be counting immigration for the purposes of marrying one’s cousin as assimilation because they are marrying a “non-immigrant”? As well as, as I meant to suggest elsewhere, French converting to Islam to marry immigrants.

          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            French converts of Islam are about 100,000-200,000, so there aren’t enough of them to explain the statistic.

            Like with many other posts in this thread, this discusses things that could be. Then again, they could not – and many of the French posters in this thread are saying things to the effect that the statistics probably holds true in its intended meaning and people from North African and Turkish background simply are marrying people from other backgrounds in relatively large numbers. Is that so hard to believe?

    • US says:

      Generally not interested in discussing politics, so this’ll be a one-off comment.

      “bringing up countries like Germany and Denmark to disprove developments in France”

      I was the one bringing up the Danish data in the comments there, so that sort of feels like a personal attack on me which I feel a sort of silly desire to address.

      As you’ll note I gave no reason for posting the data in my comment, I just posted the data and commented no further in that thread (two reasons for not engaging any further being that I dislike discussing politics in general, and I dislike the low level of debate in MR threads). It’s nice that you can tell that the true reason why I shared the data was that I wanted ‘to disprove developments in France’. Actually I just figured I knew about some data on a related topic. It doesn’t seem outrageous when discussing ‘low-resolution data’ from one country to include ‘higher-resolution data’ from other countries to learn about potential dynamics of interest hidden in the data – as you’ll note, my comment included data on the breakdown of marriage behaviours across country groups not included in the original post and included data on other specific countries with particularly high and low intermarriage rates. The Danish report had much more data than I included in the comment.

      I also shared the data in part because there’s in general in my opinion too little data featured in discussions like these and the Danish data are the data I know about, as I’m from Denmark. A big related reason is that it actually took me quite a lot of time to collect and work with the data I included in the comment – the data I report on is from a Danish report by Statistics Denmark, which I had previously translated large parts of on my blog – it seemed like a good idea, considering the amount of work that had gone into translation etc. and the fact that such data is not in general available to people who do not know Danish (no official translation of the publication exists, which was why I decided to translate parts of the report on my blog in the first place), to share the data in the specific context. The Statistics Denmark publication was written in Danish, so basically what I did was making available a lot of data that foreigners would otherwise in all likelihood never know about.

      Basically I had spent a lot of time making available data you’d otherwise never have known about and I decided to share the data in a discussion about what in my mind was conceptually related data; and what I get in return here is a guy questioning my motives for sharing the data and claiming they’re irrelevant. This kind of behaviour is incidentally a big part of the reason why I don’t like to discuss politically related topics.

      As mentioned I’ll not be engaging any further here.

      • Tatu Ahponen says:

        Well, I am sorry, then, but that is really how it came across in the context of the thread.

  25. Not John Sidles says:

    Shocking Events Did you know: Scott Alexander has BANNED John Sidles from using bold text and topic-comment sentence structure. Lollapalooza!

    The loophole “they” don’t want you to know But this one weird loophole allows UNLIMITED SHITPOSTING! Scrumptious! If you are not John Sidles, you can use the “dark secrets” of bold text and topic-comment structure with NO LIMITATIONS.

    Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity Act now to take advantage before they close it forever! Simply click “reply” below this comment, enter your name, email, and shitpost, and you too can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

    • *Subject to conditions of truth, necessity, and kindness.

    • Nornagest says:

      Please don’t do that.

    • birdboy2000 says:

      I laughed.

    • Alexp says:

      What exactly is topic comment sentence structure?

      • Michael Watts says:

        Here are some examples of topic-comment sentence structure:

        1. That I’d believe.

        2. Tiger Woods — I don’t like him.

        3. The stupid, it burns.

        4. For salary, we can offer $XXXX.

        Some people would have you believe that an English sentence must begin with the subject, but that’s not actually true.

        • RCF says:

          Why would anyone think that? Given how common it is for English sentences to not start with the subject, the idea that this is a rule is quite bizarre. Never in my life have I come across a person advancing such a position. Are there really people who believe this?

          • Winter Shaker says:

            In a similar vein, I make it a rule to always use a split infinitive when I have the choice, since the idea that you can’t is an arbitrarily made-up rule of grammar that annoys me 🙂

          • RCF says:

            In my opinion, splitting or not splitting the infinitive can signify important distinctions. For instance, “to start slowly” means something different from “to slowly start”. Also, the word “to” is often a preposition introducing the subjunctive, rather than part of an infinitive. A classic example is “to boldly go”. Here, “go” is not the infinitive, but subjunctive.

      • Anonymous says:

        Answer  It’s like this.

        Further clarification  John Sidles used to format his posts like this all the time.

        Conclusion  This style of talking is reminiscent of crack-pots like the Time Cube guy so Scott forbade it.

        • Michael Watts says:

          What you have in bold are more like labels; “further clarification” is not a topic for “John Sidles used to format his posts like this all the time” — in fact, “further clarification” has no role in that sentence at all.

          Topic-comment structure just means locating at the beginning of your sentence whatever part of it you feel to be the most subjectively important.

        • Vorkon says:

          I only just realized that with this rule in effect, John Sidles will never be able to roleplay as HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic. Not that I think he was planning to, or anything, but this makes me kind of sad.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            This is probably the oddest justification I’ve seen for amending an internet forum rule, and I’ve been on the internet since 1989.

            And given current creative trends, I see this holding the title for probably another five years.

          • James Picone says:

            Objection: Have we established that he isn’t HK-47?

    • The_Dancing_Judge says:

      i laughed alot

    • TheFrannest says:

      i don’t do shitposting, or need to be allowed shitposting. i am shitposting.

    • RCF says:

      “Simply click “reply” below this comment, enter your name, email, and shitpost”

      Improper use of parallelism. Unless “shitpost” was intended as a noun.

      • Linch says:

        Fwiw, I definitely read “shitpost” as a noun.

        • Anonymous says:

          I don’t know if it was intended to be a noun, but it works as a noun here. You enter your name in the Name field, e-mail in the Email field, and shitpost in the Comment field.

  26. Randy M says:

    “40 – 60% of Middle Eastern/African/Muslim immigrants in France marry someone who is “neither an immigrant nor a descendent of immigrants”, suggesting an impressive level of assimilation.”

    Which way are the conversions going there?

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      What a good question. Laicite has been mentioned, but is that custom efficient at turning people of any religion secular, or only at browbeating Christians?

      France may be different, but the Anglophone version of secularism only works against Christianity. Compare the historiography of the Enlightenment in any school textbook to punditry like this:

      “You can’t count yourself among those working to reform Christianity when you openly argue that the only way to reform Christianity is to ‘crush’ it. That message may resonate with Christophobic audiences in the West, but it simply underscores his alienation from — indeed, his antagonism towards — those actually involved in a struggle to reform Christianity and fight violent extremism. We cannot fight crusaders while embracing views as intolerant and inflexible as theirs, or make common cause with monarchs who share the religious outlook of the crusaders. Voltaire actually plays a destructive role by reinforcing a belief among young Christians that the hatred of Christianity has been normalized in the bourgeoisie — a sentiment that further fuels radicalization.”

    • Tatu Ahponen says:

      Most likely both ways to most of Europe’s quasi-official religion of not giving a crap about religion.

    • thirqual says:

      Anecdotal, but I know of all the second-generation from Muslim backgrounds I know, there are none that were still identifying as Muslim past 25 y.o. (only one as theist). On the other hand, they also tend to be above-average in education, so…

      By the way, introducing someone to charcuterie is very rewarding.

    • Emile says:

      (Frenchman here)

      The only case I can think of is my cousin who married an arabic woman, and as far as I know he didn’t convert.

      Most arabs I know (in a somewhat more educated / techie) do seem just like everybody else (don’t seem to care about religion much, drink alcohol), though when I was a student I knew some who were more religious.

    • Deiseach says:

      Laicite has been mentioned, but is that custom efficient at turning people of any religion secular, or only at browbeating Christians?

      France has been arguing both sides of the question for a long time.

      From “The Ball and the Cross” (yes, more Chesterton, as if you couldn’t guess by now):

      “Yes, France!” said Turnbull, and all the rhetorical part of him came to the top, his face growing as red as his hair. “France, that has always been in rebellion for liberty and reason. France, that has always assailed superstition with the club of Rabelais or the rapier of Voltaire. France, at whose first council table sits the sublime figure of Julian the Apostate. France, where a man said only the other day those splendid unanswerable words”–with a superb gesture–“‘we have extinguished in heaven those lights that men shall never light again.'”

      “No,” said MacIan, in a voice that shook with a controlled passion. “But France, which was taught by St. Bernard and led to war by Joan of Arc. France that made the crusades. France that saved the Church and scattered the heresies by the mouths of Bossuet and Massillon. France, which shows today the conquering march of Catholicism, as brain after brain surrenders to it, Brunetière, Coppée, Hauptmann, Barrès, Bourget, Lemaître.”

      “France!” asserted Turnbull with a sort of rollicking self-exaggeration, very unusual with him, “France, which is one torrent of splendid scepticism from Abelard to Anatole France.”

      “France,” said MacIan, “which is one cataract of clear faith from St. Louis to Our Lady of Lourdes.”

  27. anon85 says:

    This is like the third time I’ve heard of Arthur Chu, and every single time I hear about him he’s doing something terrible (e.g. promoting dirty argument tactics, attacking Scott Aaronson, or in this case, advocating the repeal of section 230).

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Request that we not get into another discussion of him personally.

      • anon85 says:

        Fair enough. Feel free to delete my comment. In my defense, his attack on Aaronson felt pretty personal (I have a lot of respect for Scott Aaronson).

    • Echo says:

      (Edit: saw Scott’s reply right after posting. Just imagine I said something pointlessly cruel)

      • Deiseach says:

        Reminding people that someone slightly smarter (and much more anti-social) than them can ruin their hobby by exploiting systems they take for granted is a net positive.

        True – gathering together a party for a tarring, feathering and running out of town on a rail can be a surprisingly festive occasion, especially if you pack a picnic lunch! 🙂

    • Luke Somers says:

      Only when I read this comment did I get him un-mixed-up in my head with the US attorney who drafted the legal justification for waterboarding.

  28. Deiseach says:

    Okay, I was “hmming” along to the Map of Humanity ráimeas, until I hit this line:

    “Just as Inferno was the most interesting book of Dante’s Divine Comedy” –

    – and that’s when I knew the guy was talking bobbins. What he meant was “I vaguely remember doing a quick read through the Spark Notes about the “Inferno” in school, I glanced at the “Purgatorio” and I never even looked at the “Paradiso” because it’s Heaven so it has to be boring, right?”

    Come back when you grow up, sonny buck, and then we can possibly have a chat about literature 🙂

    Also – Elizabeth I on the Island of Wisdom? Feck the feck right off!

    • Urstoff says:

      He meant that Inferno was the most metal book of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Man, in Paradiso Dante meets a giant eagle made out of the souls of just rulers, and when it looks him in the eye, the eye is partially made of righteous pagans .

      • Deiseach says:

        “Metal” is a phrase I expect 18 year old boys to use (and then grow out of).

        Or possibly Mossy Hennebry.

        • Martin-2 says:

          That’s the most un-metal thing I’ve heard all day.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          you clearly are not an american.

          • Deiseach says:

            Very clearly not an American, nor ever have been an 18 year old boy 🙂

            I’m sure there must be women who also unironically use the term, but I do have to say, evoking “Metal!” makes me giggle, because unless we’re talking Scandinavian murderers, metal is mainly wearing tight jeans and screaming a lot.

            To go “Wow, cool! Metal!” about the “Inferno” is to make Dante’s point for him, the same one that Virgil smacks him round the head for: you’re not looking beyond the surface, you’re being led astray by shallow emotional reactions. See the reality and you see not daring bold adventurers but people stuck in the repetitive loop of the things they made of themselves, the ultimate selfishness of “I want to have my own way”. It’s a slasher movie, “Friday the Hallowe’en Return of Freddie Part Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine” that will never finish, always churning out the same old thing, trying to jjog jaded tastes by “so we killed them by hanging, burning and drowning, what can we do now? ah yes, we’ll saw someone in half while they’re still alive!” Any meaning long since drained away and only “how can we get more gory” left, so that young teenagers will think they are rule-breaking free spirits by watching it and pretending to be unaffected (or worse, really unaffected).

            I never cry reading the “Inferno”. I am often brought to tears reading the “Purgatorio”. Parts of the “Paradiso” make me laugh. As I get older, I appreciate the “drier” parts of the entire work more. Anyway, my main point is, anyone who dismisses the entirety of the work and goes the safe, conventional route of “Inferno is the best part” has clearly neither read the poem in its entirety nor even the part they are ostensibly praising, but merely parrot the conventional imagery in their head (ah yeah, hell! demons fire torture sin cool metal!) from skimming the student guides and dashing off essays without the necessity of reading some old book from before they even had television.

            And now, having demonstrated my grumpy old codgerdom sufficiently, I shake my walking stick at you young whipper-snappers and stump off grumbling to myself 🙂

        • Peter says:

          Oh, with an appropriate sense of irony you can use it at much older ages – you just need to choose the target carefully. Dante’s Inferno – don’t call it metal. “Bloodmouth carnist” – totally metal.

        • >metal is mainly wearing tight jeans and screaming a lot

    • Nicholas Carter says:

      Personally I didn’t like Paradisio. I think it has something to do with the fact that hell as a big funnel carved out of the ground is an easy image that’s still in modern circulation, but I have no idea how Dante is getting from one sphere to the next. Also it just seemed to be less of a story.

      • brad says:

        It has a similar problem to Paradise Lost, God or in this case heaven, is a lot more boring than the Devil and Hell.

        Plus there’s the whole creepy Beatrice thing. (If you are unfamiliar with their actual relationship look it up sometime.)

        • Deiseach says:

          You know, I pretty much want to gather all the Romantics together, put them in a sack, and beat that sack with a stick for the whole “creepy Beatrice thing”.

          What I find much more creepy is Goethe’s “Eternal Feminine” and how that motif was developed after him. Whatever else the figure of Beatrice is for Dante, it most certainly is not that.

    • DavidS says:

      I don’t think it’s controversial. Paradiso is at best harder to get in to than Inferno.

      • Nornagest says:

        Inferno is something like 30% religious allegory and 70% Dante’s highly imaginative revenge fic. The allegory parts show up more in other work, but the revenge parts are more fun to read, even if those of us who aren’t scholars of medieval Italian have lost all the context. Maybe because of that.

        Purgatorio and Paradisio are mostly allegory, and the parts that aren’t allegory are mostly gushing (especially about Beatrice), and that’s less fun to read without an interest in the subject matter.

  29. suntzuanime says:

    Regarding the Secret Service thing, I don’t know why you’re surprised or think this sort of thing only happens in third world countries. There is a long tradition of bureaucrats leaking embarrassing information when they’re mad at politicians, and sometimes it has major impacts on the course of history (e.g. Watergate).

    • Echo says:

      I was going to say, isn’t that the entire modus operandi of the British civil service?
      They had to tone down Yes Minister because people wouldn’t have believed some of the ridiculous things that went on in government, and they knew they’d get shut down if they were too on point.

  30. Izaak Weiss says:

    I never saw anyone talking about *refusing* to watch american sniper, just not wanting to watch it and trying to convince other people it wasn’t worth their time. Am I just hanging out in different communities than these people (note, I am present in SJ tumblr!)

    • Echo says:

      Um, you didn’t catch the “we will not let this be screened, and will attack anyone who watches it on their own time” protests?
      Why is there this constant stream of “I am not personally aware of anything my side has done wrong” posts?

      • Technically Not Anonymous says:

        >Why is there this constant stream of “I am not personally aware of anything my side has done wrong” posts?

        You don’t usually hear about inconsiderate things your side does that the other side gets really angry about when you don’t read the other side’s media very often. I Googled “american sniper protests” and all that came up were a couple of protests at universities. Is that what you’re referring to?

      • Murphy says:

        Imagine that you’re a greenist. You hang out on greenist forums, you read greenist newspapers etc. The hated purpleists do something stupid/embarrassing. Someone posts it to greenist boards and it gets upvoted because it makes greenists feel good to hear about it and they all chime in with something like “well that’s what you’d expect from a purpleist”.

        The next day a fellow greenist does something stupid/embarrassing. It probably won’t be posted to greenist boards but if it is it’s going to get downvoted because it makes greenists feel bad to hear about it and if they comment they chime in with something like “ugh, that person isn’t a real greenist” “probably a crypto-purpleist” “I’ve no affiliation with that guy, he doesn’t represent greenists in any way”

        The purpleists of course have 100% exactly the same pattern in place.

        So people tend not to be very aware of bad things their own side does while being very very aware of everything bad their enemies do.

        • Echo says:

          But how do the greenists organize nation-wide campaigns to do stupid and embarrassing things without the non-stupid greens finding out? Does that not leak into general green discourse at all?
          Is it all planned on some fringe “shit manarchists say” facebook page that nobody else knows about?

          If I want to know what awful deeds my side is up to, I just have to check what’s cooking on a few boards…

          • Murphy says:

            People tend to not be terribly aware of the negative side of their own group.

            [picking things which tend to be quite popular]

            The majority might see the nationwide announcement that sounds good like “greenists, campaign to prevent poverty in our country”, they don’t hear about the crazy shit individuals or small groups do.

            The purplists see “greenist nutter tries to deport poor”

            There’s not just a single greenist forum, there’s thousands of them and many people only frequent one or 2 where the local version of greenism is closest to their own. If one of those forums organises something monumentally stupid the others likely don’t even hear about it.

            And yes, if you’re a purplist then watching greenist boards is the best way to get word about stupid shit your own side is doing.

      • Cauê says:

        Why is there this constant stream of “I am not personally aware of anything my side has done wrong” posts?

        I find these useful. They carry a lot of information, like “this isn’t widely known on my side”, “this isn’t widespread on my side”, “this isn’t widely endorsed by my side”, or generally “this isn’t representative of my side”. Even the fact that one considers this a “wrong” that should be disavowed is interesting in cases like this, as I can imagine a possible alternative response of “yes, and they were right to protest and refuse to watch it”, which was not the one offered.

        The dynamic that others have pointed out above isn’t healthy and deserves to be fought (giving it a name could help – did anyone do this?). It rides on outgroup homogeneity bias and can only worsen perceptions of the outgroup, which is basically the last thing we need nowadays. It is also ridiculously vulnerable to trolling and dishonest manipulation.

      • RCF says:

        “Why is there this constant stream of “I am not personally aware of anything my side has done wrong” posts?”

        The implication seems to be that there is something wrong with them. And the post didn’t say “I am not personally aware of anything my side has done wrong”, it said “I am not personally aware of instance of this particular allegation occurring”. I think it’s a bit dishonest to misrepresent the original post like this. I don’t see what’s wrong with saying “People are attacking this action. Is this a straw man, or is anyone actually advocating this action?”

    • Sastan says:

      In my state, at the largest and most prestigious school here, there were protests which caused the film to be pulled from campus. When an Arab-American student wrote an op-ed condemning this, his dorm room was vandalized and he was physically threatened and fired from the school newspaper.

      Of course, then there were counter-protests, and the film wound up being screened by a different student organization after all, but let’s not pretend that the SJWs didn’t try to have it banned where they had the most influence.

      • Careless says:

        And the university replaced the film with Paddington, which I really hope was an intentional needling.

    • RCF says:

      BTW, I highly recommend the Navel Observatory article.

  31. Aegeus says:

    I was going to make some snarky comment about when we can expect an anime about the personification of Guam, but then I remembered Hetalia is a thing.

  32. Greg says:

    The scurvy article from Idle Words made me think of my all-time favorite Idle Words article. Link:

  33. Mo Udall was the namesake of only one of those Points Udall. The other was named for his brother Stewart, who was JFK’s Secretary of the Interior.

    I worked on Mo Udall’s presidential campaign in 1976. He lost primary after primary to Jimmy Carter by razor-thin margins.

    One of these was Wisconsin. I went to Appleton, Wisconsin for a few weeks to work full time on the Udall campaign. I left Wisconsin on primary night thinking he had won, and arrived back in Michigan the next morning to the news that, no, Carter had won.

    Some columnist wrote that Udall, a humorist, was “too funny to be president,” and Udall used that as the title for a book he wrote about the campaign.

    Udall was a Mormon, though perhaps not a very devout one. The only person who raised any objection to him being Mormon was Detroit mayor Coleman Young. The mayor was extremely unpopular in the suburbs, and I think his anti-endorsement nearly won Udall the Michigan primary.

    Of course George Romney had already blazed the trail of being a Mormon presidential candidate in 1968. The issue raised against Romney was that he was born in Mexico, not so much that (like Udall) he was a descendant of polygamists.

  34. Nornagest says:

    There’s a big caveat in the study about hunter-gatherer sleep, which the linked article fails to pick up: it’s tracking time spent in actual sleep, not the time blocked off for rest.

    …with the sleep period duration (time between sleep onset and offset) of from 6.9 to 8.5 hr (Table S1).

    I don’t know what studies conducted on industrial populations say, but 7 to 8.5 hours sounds a lot like what most of us spend in bed.

    • Also, having one sleep per day is not a human universal – my rural grandparents always had an after lunch nap, because they got up early to feed the livestock.

      It is not impossible that say 4.5+2 hours could work better than one time 8. Tiredness and the time needed to rest it out is not necessarily linear. I don’t have any evidence either way, it is just a possibility. It could as well work the other way around, sometimes it does: if you skip a whole nights sleep, the next evening you don’t need 16, about 12-13 is enough.

    • Careless says:

      Sleep time is known to vary by race, and blacks sleep less than others, so…

    • The other thing I wonder about is that modern hunter gatherers aren’t on the best land. Earlier hunter gatherers may have had a better deal and more time for sleep.

  35. endoself says:

    > For the past four decades or so, rich-country inequality has been increasing as labor gradually takes less and less of the pie; most people have blamed this on political or structural factors and expected it to get worse.

    Look at table 1.11 at (click modify to see data for more years, and chart to see it as a graph). The labour share of income has been pretty flat in the US, so this makes no sense as an explanation for rising inequality.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Here is a better link for the table. I can’t get the chart to work.

      • endoself says:

        From your link I can directly click the chart button and get to the chart. None of the actual data series show up at first, so you have to add them by clicking on the left side of the screen. I guess this is because there are too many data series to make a readable graph if they were all plotted at once.

        Here is a version of your link with more data (1929-2014 rather than 1955-2014).

  36. Earthly Knight says:

    Say what you want about California’s government in general, but this month they’re the latest (and largest) state to pass right-to-die legislation.

    Pointless nitpick: whenever California does anything they’re ipso facto the largest state to have done that thing. Assuming we’re not talking about geographical area, but we’re not, that would be bonkers.

    • Deiseach says:

      Why should California being the largest state to pass such legislation convince me it’s a good idea? If it’s a good idea, size does not matter. If it’s a stupid idea, size does not matter.

      It’s rather like saying “John Smith is the tallest man to think Chesterfields are a cool, refreshing smoke”. Nice for you, John, but your height won’t save you from lung cancer.

      • roystgnr says:

        California being a large state doesn’t make their ideas any better, it just makes them more consequential. If it’s a good idea, size makes it better. If it’s a stupid idea, size makes it worse.

        • Deiseach says:

          Arguments that rely on “But X is the biggest state/party/group of chipmunks to vote for this!” rarely convince me.

          Great, you persuaded thirty thousand people to be damn fools instead of three thousand. Whoop-de-doo. I already knew humans were stupid; that this year’s crop of lemmings flinging themselves off a cliff is the largest in the past fifty years means nothing more than a lot more dead lemmings at the base of the cliff.

          • Linch says:

            Forgive me if I’m saying the obvious and missed your point, but I think you’re approaching it from the wrong way.

            Scott was using “X supports Y” as an example of “X can’t be all bad, heck they supported Y!” However, you seem to be arguing that Scott was endorsing the idea that “X is large, therefore Y is right,” whereas for Scott “Y is right” is sort of already assumed.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            I assumed that the point of emphasizing the size of California was merely to say, “We’re getting a real test of Idea now! If there’s anything out there capable of breaking Idea, California’s probably got it somewhere.”

          • Marc Whipple says:

            My response to any Argument To Majority Belief is that I will not even consider that I might be wrong because a majority disagrees with me unless it can be shown that the percentage of the population which disagrees with me is higher than the percentage of the population that is stupider than I am.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’d expect stupidity to increase the variance in opinions, but not change the mean, except in special cases.

          • Ebony says:

            What happens if the most populous state in the union (yes, you’re in Ireland – this is a USian colloquialism for “most populous of the 50 states in the US federal system”) legalizes a previously illegal behavior, like
            – gay couples marrying
            – smoking pot for fun or profit
            – operating drone-delivered burrito delivery services?

            Suddenly, some fraction of a gigantic slice of the US population will check out this newly permitted behavior. (Whether it’s because these people are stupid, as you say, or smart, or just curious, or natural-born anarchists who don’t like to break the law…)

            We’ll have a big pile of new data about how/whether these changes to our laws work. We’ll have torn down a big old fence in the grandest pasture in County Whatever, figuratively speaking. And we’ll see what galumphs through.

            Other places will follow suit (or run screaming in the other direction).

            Edit: … which Cerebral Paul Z said already, more succinctly.

          • Nornagest says:

            Trying stuff is good. I like trying stuff. I think it’s one of the biggest potential strengths of the federal system.

            On the other hand, though, the laboratories-of-democracy approach worked a lot better when the states were less culturally unified than they are now, and so changes in one state had some time to get the bugs worked out before it came up on other states’ radar. That’s a bigger deal for some issues than others, but it leaves us relatively ill-equipped to deal with short-term/long-term tradeoffs when the long term takes more than a couple of election cycles to manifest.

            Doesn’t help that these changes tend to be brought in through sweeping waves of national outrage rather than any kind of rational cost-benefit analysis.

  37. irr says:

    Kiribati is also the setting of The Sex Lives of Cannibals, a hilarious and depressing memoir of a couple years spent frying in the sun and drinking oneself into submission in the South Pacific.

    It’s the book that taught me what wild dogs eat. (They eat slower wild dogs.)

    • Nornagest says:

      I read that. Decent book, if you want a couple hundred pages of concentrated and almost completely unromanticized culture clash.

    • RCF says:

      It seems physically impossible for the soul food source for wild dogs to be other wild dogs. Feral dogs, maybe.

  38. If sauerkraut makes people support Nazism, we’d expect other cultures with sauerkraut-like dishes to be more authoritarian as well. What do they eat in North Korea? Kimchi? Well that’s just fermented cabbage.

    • Nornagest says:

      I’d be very surprised if there was an organic effect here. Pretty much every cuisine in the world uses lactic acid fermentation for one thing or another: Korean kimchi, Japanese tsukemono, Chinese black bean sauce, pan-European pickles, American sourdough bread and pancakes…

      (For good reason; it’s delicious.)

    • Peter says:

      As always, it’s worth reading the paper to see the statements that people may or may not be endorsing. None of the questions have an explicit reference to the NSDAP or Hitler or anything like that, they’re on the level of “seeing a woman wearing a burqa makes me uncomfortable” or “due to the politics of Israel, I can understand a resentment toward Jews”. There was a pre-test to “validate” their dependent variable (the 9 statements) – for “validate” read “check that the scale is valid in some regards”. They got a 128 students to answer a questionnaire about how left-or-right-wing, and how moral-or-immoral someone who agreed to these statements would be – the average scores for all of the questions were on the right-wing side and immoral side. There is no sign that the validation panel were asked anything about how Nazi the statements are, or about the experimenters interpretation of the particular wrongnesses of particular statements.

      So the participants were asked to rate their agreement or disagreement with the statements on a 10-point scale, “1=very negative 10=very positive”, presumably “neutral” works out as 5.5. The sauerkraut drinkers, on average, disagreed with the statements, but their degree of disagreement was 0.73 points less strong than the non-drinkers. In the paper this is reported as “agreed more strongly”. There are other cases where the paper says “stronger endorsement” where a more accurate description would be “weaker disagreement”.

      The paper discusses the Kraut=German hypothesis but does no experiments either way.

      So having gone on about Nazis with no rigour, they finally get to the “contribution” bit. “This article is a playful demonstration that moral behavior in one domain gives one a license to do something immoral in another domain.” So various unsubstantiated accusations of some heavy stuff get thrown around and then it’s all a bit of fun.

      People like to talk about the mathematical problems in social psychology papers, but there’s a phrase: “an iron door on a house of straw”[1]. It doesn’t matter how rigorous the statistical analysis is, if the conversion of statistical results into natural language is unrigorous.

      [1] Picked up from cryptography – it doesn’t matter how unbreakable your code is, if someone can steal the key or the plaintext, your cryptosystem is no good.

      • Randy M says:

        Things like this are why social science often comes in quotes.

        • Peter says:

          Eh. I’ve seen some pretty rubbish papers in one of my own fields. I’ve trashed some papers (well, at least one) during peer review that make this one look like a model of rigorous inquiry, and it/they still got published… On the other hand the over-interpretation of results I think is a widespread problem.

          Also, I have a soft spot for social psychology. Every now and again I try to have a go at reading some sociology and I’m reminded of how good social psychology is in comparison. If I’m feeling charitable I’ll say it’s because social psychology is a much more tractable subject.

  39. Linch says:

    The linked article, and a lot of folks here, seemed to assume that most people had an intimate knowledge of what a “Maserati” was. Is this normal? Like, are Normal-Americans-Who-Know-How-To-Drive all typically aware of what the different types of cars are, particularly luxury brands?

    • Nornagest says:

      Maseratis are kind of obscure; they’re rarer than Jags or Porsches (or, now, Teslas) and don’t have the super-exclusive cachet of Ferraris or Lambos. I knew what it was, but five years ago I wouldn’t have.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Maserati is a somewhat more obscure luxury car brand than, say, Ferrari, but within the realm of what one can expect a reader to be aware of, and if they aren’t, they can work it out from context, or just Duck Duck Go it.

      I believe I became aware of the brand via this song:

      • I became aware of it (Central Euro here) through a joke about 30 years ago.

        Guy dies, goes to heaven and Saint Peter, weighing his merits, gives him a BMW to drive but warns him he is not allowed to drive over 130 km/h on the pearly motorways. Then suddenly someone zooms past him at 200 km/h and pretty sure he floors it and starts racing. Instantly Saint Peter appears and says “What did I just told you?!” and then the guy replies “Sure, but some bearded hippie just tore past me in a Maserati at 200 km/h, I thought if he can, so can I!” and then Saint Peter replies: “Man, that is a Nazarethi, not a Masrati and not a bearded hippie but the boss’s son!”

      • Anonymous says:

        I also discovered it through a song.

    • Saul Degraw says:

      A Maserati seems like a fairly known sports car of the “lots of dudes will lust for one and never be able to afford one.”

      A few years ago there was a news story about a 20 year old intern that drove his bosses Maserati into the light rail tunnel in SF.

    • Wrong Species says:

      I’m not exactly a big car guy and I knew that it was a sports car.

    • Acedia says:

      I only knew what it was from Top Gear, which for some reason I enjoy watching even though I’m not particularly interested in cars and don’t even have a license.

  40. haishan says:

    I assumed that Bill Clinton quote was a joke, but nope.

  41. haishan says:

    EDIT: Here’s a quasi-experimental look at some Cherokee Indians that does find an effect.

    I don’t know anything about this study, but the proposed mechanism makes me a little wary:

    What precisely did the income change? Ongoing interviews with both parents and children suggested one variable in particular. The money, which amounted to between one-third and one-quarter of poor families’ income at one point, seemed to improve parenting quality.

    • Loquat says:

      If you read past the part you quoted, it says the poor families tended to have extremely unstable income and the adults tended to stress out over it, so adding the guaranteed stipend reduced their financial uncertainty and thus their stress levels. I don’t think it’s terribly questionable to suggest that people are better parents when they’re not highly stressed.

  42. Emily says:

    The winners of the Great Stork Derby each received $125,000 for their nine kids. We’ll say, back-of-the-envelope, that’d be 2.15 million Canadian $ now or about $1.6 million American.

    If you knew you were able to and would get the money, would you have nine kids in a decade for that?

    I would not.

    • Jiro says:

      From the Snopes article linked from the Wikipedia article: “It should be stressed that it doesn’t appear any of the women got in the family way by trying for the prize. Likely as not, these same women would have had just as many young ones even if there’d never been a Stork Derby. A look at the family stats of the 1933 front runners bears this out: the five women leading the pack had 56 kids between them, but only 32 of the children were eligible to be counted under the terms of the Millar will.”

  43. E. Harding says:

    “if ‘access to cool modern technology’ wasn’t a factor, I would choose 1881-US or even 1731-US over modern India in a heartbeat”
    -Really? In the age of the horse and buggy, where half the children died before the age of 10, and the administration was similarly incompetent as in modern India? The only factor left would be social capital, culture (Hindu v. Christian), and genetic IQ! I’d pick modern India simply due to the health benefits.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Well, not only that, but you would have a 15% chance of being born in to chattel slavery in 1731. And 1881 would be no picnic either.

      So, as with many things, the assumptions one makes about where you are going to fall in the societal hierarchy matter. Being born in the “Untouchable” class in India would still have some significant downsides even today (but not chattel slavery bad).

      And that doesn’t even get into gender.

      I think this is the kind of assumption that makes intersectional minded folks bring up the concept of privilege. Yeah, if you are a person who codes as “white male” in 1731 or 1881 you can start making the case. Female? Black? Asian? Jewish (at least in some parts of the country)? Seems like it is much harder.

      • LeeEsq says:

        Considering our host’s background, he would be on the lower end of the Western social hierarchy in 1731 or 1881. 1731 was many decades before Jewish emancipation and 1881 was the year the Russian government decided to go really berserk on Eastern European Jews and the benefits of emancipation began to pitter out in the West.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I’m not saying he didn’t take it into account, but I wonder.

        • E. Harding says:

          Pppft. Lehman Brothers already existed in 1881. And he was talking about the U.S., not Russia (and even there, he could move North, to near Latvia, or even to the U.S., which had open borders for Whites at the time). Even in old Russia, Jews had the highest literacy rate of any ethnic group in the country. Even 1731 PA and Rhode Island would have been just fine for Jews. Only with a powerful system of oppression (e.g., Nazi Germany, Mongol China) could you ever get Jews or Chinese in general at the bottom of the totem pole.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Most Jews in the United States were working class at this time. There was a Jewish upper and middle class but the mass migration of the Ostjuden was starting. Most Ostjuden tended to be factory workers and other poorly paid occupations. Its why they were very attracted to different forms of socialism.

          • E. Harding says:

            -Citations? The idea Jews were “attracted to different forms of socialism” because of poor pay sounds like absolute nonsense, which is what it is. Have you ever met a working-class Marxist in your life? Why aren’t a substantial portion of working-class Whites or Blacks today attracted to socialism? Factory workers as a whole lean pro-Union, not socialist. U.S. Blacks generally seem to be focused on control of the means of consumption rather than the means of production. Today, the percentage of Jews who are factory workers is in the low single digits, and guess who the most publicly prominent Jew running for President is? And have you ever heard of Karl Marx? Leon Trotsky? Rosa Luxembourg? Herbert Marcuse? Albert Einstein? These were not working-class Jews!

      • E. Harding says:

        Jews were White in the 19th century U.S. Just the fact they weren’t disproportionately represented on the Supreme Court doesn’t mean they were some sort of oppressed minority.

        Women had few political rights and were prevented from social advancement, but could still work. Same for Chinese and Blacks. This mostly affected the right third of the relevant bell curves.

  44. Andy Blumson says:

    Re: the Communist Party Theme Park: . Also: there’s a museum about the Tiananmen Square protests in Hong Kong: . Flypaper?

  45. Saul Degraw says:

    The Haredi are very good at picking out who is Jewish and asking them to do some sort of little prayer or something. The interesting thing is that they just want reform Jews like me to become more Jewish like them. They don’t go preaching to non-Jews.

    Are you being Jewish today? is a question they asked me while being secular on the Sabbath.

    • Emily H. says:

      Where I live in Brooklyn I get the full-press “are you Jewish?” questioning during the high Holy days — maybe just being white and relatively modest/frumpy is enough to mark me as a good enough possibly-Jewish target?

    • AlphaGamma says:

      I think the Mitzvah-tank people are Hasidim not Haredim.

      The only people I know who have been asked “are you Jewish”, though, are people who have been walking past a synagogue that wants a tenth person for a minyan.

      • LeeEsq says:

        The Mitzvah Tank people are Chabad Hasidim. The only other Hasidic group into intra-Jewish missionary work are the Breslov Hasidim. Other Hasidic like the Satmar groups are more insular.

        All Hasidic Jews are Haredim but not all Haredim are Hasidic. Haredim is just the Hebrew word used to describe the the Ultra-Orthodox, those that believe that modernity and Orthodoxy are not compatible unlike the Modern Orthodox who do.

        • AlphaGamma says:

          I always thought that Hasidim and Haredim were different and that Ultra-Orthodox was a blanket term for both (the difference being Hasidic philosophy). It looks like I may be wrong and many of not most/all Hasidim do consider themselves to also be Haredi.

          • brad says:

            The oldest division in the religious Jewish world is geographic. Those descended from Central / Eastern Europe are Ashkenazim and those descended from the Spanish Jews that fled to the middle east after the expulsion are Sephardi (plus communities that merged with them). Those two groups don’t cover everyone there are smaller groups, but they cover most. While many secular Jews map these groups to roughly the equivalent of ethnicity, it is also a big deal religiously — Ashkenazi and Sephardic practice differ significantly.

            There are divisions within the Sephardic world, but they aren’t terribly important in the US because we are overwhelmingly Ashkenazi.

            Within the Ashkenazi world there is a big distinction between hasidim and misnagdim (also known as Litvak). In Eastern Europe the hasidic stronghold was Galacia and the Misnagdim stronghold was Lithuania though there was no strict geographic separation. The misnagdim emphasized study and had at the center of its world a series of renowned yeshivas (schools). Hasidim was a backlash against the perceived austerity and elitism of the misnagdim and emphasized spirituality and taking joy in prayer. They clustered around a strong religious figure (the rebbe) rather than around a yeshiva. Both the misnagdim and the hasidim had subgroups strongly associated with particular cities. Given the modern connotations it is worth noting with some amusement that Galicia and hasadism had similar cultural status back as the deep south and Charismatic Pentecostalism do in the US today.

            The term haradi is relatively modern (dating from the late 19th century) and was only needed once the other streams of Judaism (reform, conservative, & modern orthodox) started to become coalesce. In contemporary NYC parlance, it refers to all of the Hasidim and much of the Yeshivish world (the spiritual and in many cases literal decedents of the misnagdim). The modern orthodox are definitely not haradi.

            In general if a religious Jewish man wears a hat all the time, as opposed to just a yamaka, he can be considered haradi. Some yamaka wearers can also be haradi and those in the know can instantly tell a lot about a person by exactly what type of yamaka they are wearing. For example a knitted yamaka in NYC means the person is modern orthodox (in Israel it is more political than religious, affiliating the wearer with the national religious movement).

            Anyway to get back to the main point, the mitzvah wagon people are Chabadniks, they are Hasidim and haradi. They are one of the few groups that aggressively recruit (though only among Jews) and have missionaries all over the world. There is a slow burning scandal involving some of them because they were all convinced their late rebbe (often just called The Rebbe) was the messiah and some have refused to give that up since he died. This poses serious problems within the context of orthodox Judaism and is considered heretical by some of the other haradi.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Brad: I was about to be a terrible pedant and call you up on your spelling, since it looked like you had confused Galatia and Galicia, but I saw a disambiguation link, and it turns out it was me that was confusing Galicia and Galicia.
            Dang, that’s bamboozling 🙂

  46. Echo says:

    So, uhh… This exact issue was raised two posts ago as an extreme future hypothetical of the risks posed by quotas.

    The world is beyond parody.

    • Samuel Skinner says:

      “You know, comrades,” says Stalin, “that I think in regard to this: I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how.”

    • Megaburst says:

      Well one of the big lessons kids tend to learn in high school is that everything high school authority figures tell you is bullshit. There’s a possibility that anti-SJ will become cool in the same way doing drugs is cool. I actually think there’s a chance we’ll swing uncomfortably far to the right from coming SJ backlash (speaking as a moderate right winger).

      Also note that the woman complaining has a Hispanic name. And, ultimately the left can’t go too far with the hate for white people/men because well over half of the US population is either white or a man. So yeah I’m not super worried *crosses fingers*.

      • suntzuanime says:

        There were a number of majority-black states in the pre-Civil War Southern US, it’s not at all clear that just being in the majority will protect you from the ravages of the privileged minority.

    • Deiseach says:

      Middle school is what – 12-15 years old? For pete’s sake!

      And are class elections a big thing in American schools? I’m only going by small Irish town experience decades ago, but the closest thing we had was voting for class prefect, and nobody wanted that job.

      I think schools nowadays do have student councils or something, but I can’t say that it’s important or makes a huge difference or that the majority of students care a straw about it.

      So do American student councils really have any power, or is it simply something the ambitious (who may eventually end up going into politics) care a whole lot about while the ordinary majority couldn’t care less?

      • CatCube says:

        It looks good on a resume, mostly, though there might be some party-planning involved, as well.

      • Randy M says:

        I don’t remember a single school election before Sophmore year of college, and that only because me and a buddy campaigned like crazy for a dorm-mate running for Sophmore class president. (It was crazy because he ran unopposed).

        • Tom Richards says:

          My school had mock general elections to coincide with actual general elections. They were… not taken entirely seriously, though turnout was pretty high. I won on behalf of the Stop the Pylons party (a real if obscure protest party in 2001) through a mix of populist policies I had neither the ability nor the intention to deliver on, given that winning conferred no actual power or other benefits of any kind (kebab van in the playground, poledancers in the sixth form common rooms) and being friends with a disproportionate number of the house prefects responsible for the junior houserooms. To what extent their influence took the form of convincing 12 year olds that voting STP was cool, and to what extent it was outright fraudulent box-stuffing, I have never asked.

          It’s possible this would have been better preparation for a career in real world politics than I realised at the time.

          • Deiseach says:

            That’s rather the impression I get from student union politics in colleges/universities over here; about 90% of the student body don’t give a damn about the union (apart from when it’s running rag week and talking about legalise drugs! and the like), but a very very small percentage see it as a way to get a degree of power and even better the first rung on the ladder of actual real national politics (there’s a list here of people who got ‘the start’ by being involved in student politics, and this is just the national body (it doesn’t mention the likes of Ivana Bacik, who got her start as President of the Students’ Union in Trinity).

            Since my day job involves working with local politicians (thankfully, at a remove), you can imagine how unimpressed I am with all this ambition and power-grubbing by the youth who want to get noticed by the great and the good of the Establishment, and use activism (whether progressive or traditional) to do so 🙂

          • Deiseach says:

            Why I have a low opinion of politicians, both local and national, or, The Lowly Minion Bitches On Here Because It Affords Her Anonymity.

            So my last job was involved with local government provision of education and training services (which covered everything from secondary schools to post-secondary education to adult and continuing education to literacy to job skills programmes) and my current job is involved with local government, provision of social housing services (which also includes overseeing grant schemes for which private homeowners can apply).

            And in both cases this involved contact (luckily, since I am the very lowliest of minions, as little as possible and as indirect as possible) with politicians; mainly of the local stripe (town and county councillors, not exactly the same as the American equivalent but close enough for the purpose of this plaint) but also elected representatives to the national parliament (one of whom I knew when he was in short pants so I’m not inclined to be overly impressed when the letter on the official stationery comes in to the office making requests) and even ministers in the government of the day.

            And they’re all the goddamn same: interested in parish pump politics (I think the American equivalent is pork barrel politics). What can I get, how can I get it, and how will this translate into votes for me in the next local/national election?

            This rant has been triggered by a report in the local newspaper today, where Concerned Local Representative makes his case for Greater Transparency and Efficiency In The Service of the Public if only the recalcitrant bureaucracy of the public servants would co-operate.


            There’s what he says, and what he means, and you can never go too far wrong if you hold as your mantra “Why is this lying bastard lying to me?” when contemplating anything a politician says or does.

            Not that I am saying, implying, inferring, alleging or any whisper of a shade of a thought of anything slanderous or libellous that the Concerned Public Representative might be less than stainlessly honourable with regard to truth-telling, no indeed. No lawyers or courts for redress need be engaged! All that follows is a pure hypothetical, a thought experiment, a ‘what if?’

            Okay, some background: we used to have two separate bodies dealing with local government in our county, one for the city and one for the rest of the county. Thanks to the reforms initiated by our national government, we are one of the blesséd few who underwent amalgamation. So now we are all one big, efficient, streamlined, less expensive, happy family. We are All One and no more divisions or fighting between areas or between city and county for the goodies, correct?

            To borrow (and probably mangle) the Pratchett quote: “We’re all one big family, and you’ll see the resemblance for yourself after you’ve been called out to your first few domestics”.

            Somehow in the name of efficiency and better service to the public, we have ended up with three mayors and two Cathaoirligh because none of the egos involved wanted to be downgraded as the rooster on their local dungheap, nor perceived to be less important than another area, post-amalgamation. All must have shiny official titles! This is the level we are dealing with, ladies, gentlemen and others.

            (If you are imagining a dense miasma of cynicism enveloping me as I type this, you’re not wrong).

            (This is getting long, so I’m going to cut it in two).

          • Deiseach says:

            So. To get to the long-delayed point of this ramble: what politicians of all stripes like to do is present to the public that They The Man. They got you that grant/medical card/planning permission/social welfare payment/job for your nephew Mick on the council road team.

            Oh, they say that they can only make representations and they can’t promise anything, but we all know the score: you want something done, you go to the local rep.

            Which… is kinda yes and kinda no. If it worked as public perception has it, that would be bribery and corruption and inducement and undue influence and contravening the regulations and a whole host of other things that would get us low-level minions sacked out of our jobs at best, and hauled up before a court looking at jail time at worst.

            We get letters. We get phone calls. We get personal visits from the councillors, who technically are our bosses so we can’t tell them to jump in the conveniently at hand harbour. All asking favours on behalf of Mrs Murphy and Mr McGrath who want a house or a grant or a this or a that. And are, of course, deserving cases.

            Now, there’s two things at play here:
            (1) You can put in your spake all you like, but we make the decisions by the regs. (Though what does work is not hassling the lower grades, but leaning on the higher ones; the 6s and above, the Heads of Departments and so forth. They need to keep the politicos they schmooze with sweet, so they are more likely to bend on a hard case and tell us to go ahead and give them what they want).

            (2) The citizen crying on your shoulder is not telling you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, councillor/TD/Minister. Not naming any names but there is one particular long-standing and on-going case where there are very, very good reasons that hell will freeze over before the person in question gets what she is looking for, never mind how many pathetic letters she writes about all she wants is a little house so the social workers will let her kids back to visit and stay with her. Confidentiality doesn’t let us put the local guys wise as to why this is, which is why we are getting constant phone calls from the office of one politician on her behalf.

            Anyway. The newspaper. Our selfless warrior for the good of the public wants more information out of us in greater detail about the disbursement of grants and how much is going where and why. He used an example of contrasting applicants; the hypothetical honest but poor but deserving applicant in real need who does it all by the book and gets turned down, versus the applicant with plenty of money who can pay for it themselves, probably Knows Someone in the office, and gets their application pushed through for Reasons. If we, your local councillors, only knew who was getting what and why, this would never happen (he said piously), which is why he is demanding the paper-pushers in the offices (that would be us) stump up the info they are demanding.

            My attitude is “They don’t need that information. They may want it, but they don’t need it”. But I’m only the minion who turns the raw data about this each month into information for the monthly council area meetings; it’s up to my boss and her boss how much and in what level of detail gets passed on.

            They don’t want it for transparency and efficiency. What they want is what they used to get pre-amalgamation, and what was given to them for the express purpose of keeping them sweet so the former County Clerk (not his real title) could then go and do things his own damn way with little to no oversight (and then leave the results of that to be cleaned up when he left post-amalgamation), and what they are not getting post-amalgamation:

            They want names and amounts of who, in what area, is getting how much of a grant for what purpose.

            So that they can then write or phone and say “Ah, Mrs Murphy, you’ll be glad to know you’re getting €3,500 for the conversion of your bathroom into a walk-in shower for your mobility issues” before we send out the official letter of award.

            So that they can take the credit for “Councillor O’Loonasa got me the grant”, even though (a) they did no such thing, we judge everything by the regs and do we have wiggle room for genuine hard cases and (b) that would be extremely illegal on everybody’s part if that were true.

            I now end with a strong recital of “Bah, humbug!” and that is why I have very little or no meas on politics or politicians, except I don’t know what we’d replace them with!

      • Echo says:

        Something the ambitious care about. It’s one of those “teach the kids how civics is supposed to work” things, and… well, this is the lesson they’re getting.

      • Nornagest says:

        Generally student government in the US [ETA: at high school level and below] has no real power, and very little fake power. It often plans student events, not uncommonly decides some ceremonial frippery like what inspirational quotes will be read during graduation, sometimes sends (non-voting) student representatives to the adult administration, very occasionally decides some very minor points of policy.

        Class elections are often promoted as a big event on campus anyway, but as far as I can tell that’s because the powers that be think it’s good for high school kids to be running and participating in campaigns. Everyone knows the prize at the end is worthless. I’m not sure anyone thought seriously about the message that sends.

        • Linch says:

          In a lot of colleges, student government decides whether and how much student organizations get funded. This can be pretty significant for an organization starting out, and indeed for most organizations that aren’t as tightknit as Greek groups.

          • John Schilling says:

            The “student government” under discussion here is middle and high school government, pre-college. And that is pretty much pure ceremony, and very little of that. At the collegiate level, the students are adults who can have legal authority over real money, and the range of extracurricular activities is much broader, so the student government can do stuff that’s actually somewhat important.

          • Echo says:

            The student council at my old alma mater just refused to fund the sailing club, because it was “bourgeois”. Meanwhile they literally pay people to go get drunk in LA clubs.

            Once you get an infestation, you’ve got to burn the whole place down to get rid of them.

    • xq says:

      Extreme future hypothetical risk? Lots of countries have quotas for ethnic minorities or women in their legislative bodies (countries not controlled by SJWs, btw). See:

      • BBA says:

        The Democratic and Republican National Committees both have gender quotas, as do many of the parties’ state and local bodies.

    • stillnotking says:

      What do you mean? She said she wasn’t nullifying the election. Obviously the results are being withheld for perfectly legitimate reasons that she simply didn’t have time to explain.

      On a more serious note, she is literally suppressing the voices of students of color — most of whom presumably voted for the winning candidates, unless there was a truly absurd racial difference in turnout.

  47. Anon. says:

    Speaking of sleep, is polyphasic sleep legit or is it one of those internet things?

    • Helldalgo says:

      The spouse claims it’s legit, just unsustainable while having a normal job. He says that he managed it for about six months, and loved it, but couldn’t fit the short naps into his work schedule.

      So, there’s exactly one piece of anecdotal evidence in favor of “legit.”

      • Scott Alexander says:

        This is what most people I hear from say. It “works” in the sense that if you do it exactly according to the schedules you won’t be tired. It “doesn’t work” in the sense that it’s really hard and unpleasant and means you can’t have a normal social life. I don’t think I ever met anyone who did it long-term (let’s say > 2y) and liked it. I also met one or two people who say it permanently screwed up their sleep cycle in some way – this seems to be a rare outcome, but potentially possible.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      I know someone who attempted to adopt a polyphasic sleep cycle in his last year of university and ended up failing his final exams.

      Obviously something resembling polyphasic sleep was and is adopted by anyone spending long periods on a ship which operates a two-watch system with the traditional Royal Navy cycle of watches (changeover at 0000, 0400, 0800, 1200, 1600, 1800, 2000- the two two-hour “dog-watches” are to ensure that peoples’ watch periods aren’t always at the same time of day), and probably other two-watch systems as well. Single-handed long-distance sailors also do it, but they can’t manage indefinitely- it is technically illegal for them to sleep at all, most manage with short naps and instrument alarms set to wake them if something changes.

      EDIT: It should be noted that some sources say the Royal Navy noticed a decline in mortality when it adopted a three-watch system, changing watches at the same times. The “Swedish watch system”- changing at 0000, 0400, 0800, 1300, 1900- is apparently less hard on crews even if run as a two-watch system, even though nobody gets more than 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep and that only every second day (and in the afternoon!).

    • Anonymous says:

      Polyphasic sleep is like penis enlargement — I can’t tell you if it’s legit, but I can tell you not to bother with it. There’s a significant investment for dubious benefits, and doing it wrong can cause serious problems. Mono- or bi-phasic sleep is the only schedule suited to nearly all social and professional obligations, and the best thing about having a large block of time to sleep in is that you can move it around a bit without completely fucking over your entire schedule and feeling like you’re going to die.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve only read one report of someone maintaining a poly-phasic (tri or greater) sleep cycle for more than a week, and I got the impression the author was motivated to write as though it were successful rather than tell the truth.

      Why are you interested in polyphasic sleep? If you want more free time, there are lower-hanging fruits.

    • That matches what I’ve heard– polyphasic sleep doesn’t work socially, or for normal jobs, or for anything that requires eight hours of attention, and there’s not a lot of slack for breaking the schedule.

      All this being said, I’d like to see science fiction about a culture which organized itself around polyphasic sleep.

  48. Helldalgo says:

    I know, I KNOW that I need to be skeptical, but dammit, I’ve been waiting for aliens for so long. I’m primed to befriend an otherworldly consciousness.

  49. phil says:

    don’t think modern day hunter gatherers are that representative of those from 10,000+ yeas ago,

    today’s H+G live in the most marginal ecologies, basically only those areas that the rest of the humans have decided that they can’t be bothered with

    which probably has all sorts of implications for studying them

    modern H+G tend to be shorter than most other people, ancient H+G had taller skeletons than farming society humans until about 100 years or so ago

  50. Stupid comment: I remember in a past links thread there being a ICD code for “Accidental bite by another human”. I believe that I forgot to share that in 5th grade I was the cause of injury of that nature. We were playing Basketball, I was running, someone moved out of the way and *all of a sudden* there was another person behind them. I gasped at them being there opening my mouth as I ran into their temple at running speed. Bit of blood but not too much I think. They had to get a tetanus shot I think.

    Maybe this link:

    • Marc Whipple says:

      Does it count as an “accidental bite” if you punch somebody in the mouth and cut yourself with their teeth? ‘Cause I bet that happens fairly often. People are stupid.

  51. SpaghettiLee says:

    Is it relatively agreed upon that an alien civilization that has advanced beyond our own technologically would be using a Dyson Sphere-type object, or are there other conceptual ways to acquire that much energy?

    • Samuel Skinner says:

      The only alternative I can think of is taking apart you local star because your fusion reactors are more efficient then stars. There isn’t any other method we know of that can produce that much energy.

      • Marc Whipple says:

        If you could figure out a way to invert significant quantities of matter into antimatter and used that for an energy reactor, it would make fusion reactors look pretty pathetic.

        And if you could figure out some way to access the energy of the vacuum… 😉

        Note: Piers Anthony actually set up a fictional future society where the former was possible in his “Bio of a Space Tyrant” series. The mechanism is never discussed in detail, but it’s alleged that using a newly discovered form of gravity manipulation, normal matter can be converted to antimatter. They do this mostly to iron because anti-iron is still easy to manipulate with magnetic fields and is therefore simpler to handle safely.

        • roystgnr says:

          If you could figure out a way to invert significant quantities of matter into antimatter and used that for an energy reactor

          Then you’d have violated conservation of baryon number and lepton number, two of the most fundamental rules of particle physics, so forget about it – is what I was going to say. But apparently the only thing that modern particle physicists are confident is conserved is “B – L”, the *difference* between those numbers, which ought to be zero for any neutral atom. So…. maaaaybe??

          • John Schilling says:

            It’s not at the level of a conservation-of-energy or second-law-of-thermodynamics violation, but it contradicts enough solid physics that you might as well skip the “flip matter to antimatter” stage and just say “convert matter entirely to energy”. Apply technobabble as necessary. Black holes mumble mumble Hawking radiation something or other.

          • Marc Whipple says:

            Oh, it’s science fantasy at this point. But it’s arguably a method we know of, even if we don’t know how to do it. 🙂

    • John Schilling says:

      The second law of thermodynamics argues convincingly for the view that anything which can efficiently channel that much power will, from a distance, look like a classic Dyson shell. A whole lot of diffuse infrared radiation, and very little visible light. Doesn’t matter whether the thing on the inside is a star, a black hole, an array of monopole-catalyzed proton decay reactors, or something I can’t even think up the technobabble for, the one non-negotiable part is the radiator on the outside.

      KIC 8462852, is still emitting lots of light but conspicuously not the diffuse IR. So it’s not a Dyson shell, nor any other efficient machine for channeling a star’s worth of power. It could be an incomplete or broken Dyson shell, but both of those are unstable over deep time and so unlikely to exist in a galaxy where we can’t seem to find any complete, working Dyson shells.

      • Chris H says:

        Unless of course the hypothesis that in some way the galaxy was inhospitable for intelligent life until EXTREMELY recently and we’re seeing either the first or one of the first Dyson spheres under construction.

        If so, we are probably pretty screwed. These aliens were building their first Dyson spheres 1,500 years ago. They were centuries of advancement ahead of us (assuming AI doesn’t drastically speed up advancement…though they’ve likely beat us to that punch too) 1,500 years ago. When their expansion wave hits us, it’ll make Columbus-with-small-pox-blankets v. immune-system-deficient-Arawak look like a fair and even fight in comparison.

        • Luke Somers says:

          Not necessarily. Once you get the ability to put arbitrary atoms in arbitrary places over a large volume, there could well be a plateau in technological capability.

          I’m more worried about whatever galaxy-spanning effect it was that caused us to come out so close to synchronous. Sweeps by the Kohr-Ah?

        • Echo says:

          Has anyone ever used that as the premise to a sci-fi novel?
          We noticed a single star slowly going dark except for diffuse IR. Seventy years later, stars within five light years of the first also started to fade.
          Twenty years after that, every star within a hundred light years of the first vanished in under six months…

          • Anonymous says:

            Stephen Baxter’s Manifold: Space has a similar thing going on.

          • Pandora’s Star has… not this, but something kind of similar where we observe a star being enclosed by a Dyson sphere in a matter of milliseconds. (Warning: this is one of those books that I described as “a very good 600-page book enclosed in a 1000-page book”.)

          • Echo says:

            Mai, at least it wasn’t The Reality Dysfunction, right?
            Love that guy, but wow does his editor need a giant pair of shears.

            Baxter’s Manifold thing just seemed… too out there. Should I give it a try?

        • keranih says:

          Columbus-with-small-pox-blankets v. immune-system-deficient-Arawak

          Is it an object level debate to note that I really really wish this sort of extreme historical error would not show up at SSC?

          OTOH – the idea that aliens 1.5KLY away would share enough biology with us that they could (assuming they wanted to) use common infectious diseases as a tool of subjugation is pretty interesting. However, I suspect that we’d end up like the labor force of the Draka, where in two-three generations (or less) there would be no hint that we’d ever had a problem with the conquest.

          • On the subject of Columbus, smallpox blankets, and historical error …

            So far as I know, the one documented case of deliberately spreading smallpox to Amerinds was in British Canada by a British officer. Columbus may have a lot of bad behavior to his discredit, but the mass dieoff due to Old World disease was not deliberately engineered.

          • Nornagest says:

            It was a British officer, yeah, but in what’s now Pennsylvania, not Canada — it’s alleged to have happened during the Siege of Fort Pitt, part of Pontiac’s War.

            That article’s grown since I last looked at it, but the allegation seems foggy in a number of ways; an order seems to have been given, and blankets may have been, but it seems highly uncertain that smallpox was actually transmitted. In any case, there was no deliberate large-scale biological warfare campaign going on during the colonization of the Americas, and definitely not one going back to Columbus.

            (Which is not to say that Columbus didn’t do some really nasty shit to the Arawak; he definitely did.)

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            45/I was refraining from saying that I doubted that many of Columbus’s crew were down with smallpox, or that Queen Isabella had supplied a chest of infected blankets in case they found an inhabited continent in their way.

            According to Charles C. Mann, author of 1491, “[T]he worst thing the Spaniards did, some researchers say, was entirely without malice—bring the pigs” which carried many diseases that spread wider than their expeditions’ routes. “The Spanish and the Portuguese lacked the germ theory of disease and could not explain what was happening (let alone stop it).”

          • keranih says:

            @ houseboatonstyx

            Thanks muchly for that link. 1491 is on my to-read list, still, but I’d missed that Atlantic article.

            (I disagree with the importance Mann puts on pigs – they might have been a contributor, almost certainly, but I think the human-specific diseases would have been much more influential.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ keranih

            The article says the human-specific diseases would have wiped out the expeditions faster than they could spread it to the natives. There are several screens of relevant information between the two sentences I quoted.

          • keranih says:

            @ Houseboat –

            I did actually read the article. Mann over-emphasizes – imo – the contribution of livestock to the post-exchange die-off, and that of pigs in particular. The diseases mentioned in conjunction with pigs are not at all likely candidates for epidemics with high casualty rates. (In particular, the TB reference is unlikely – TB is killed by heat, and unless one drinks raw milk, the main way people get it is by breathing cow breath while milking in enclosed barns. So not really a pig-sourced disease.)

            The human-associated diseases, however, have carrier states which help maintain them in the population. So it’s certainly possible that de Soto’s men could have carried a killer disease with them.

            Finally – and to my mind, most significant – putting the blame on de Soto’s pigs ignores the already-present deadly diseases moving in waves through Mesoamerica. Even if de Soto and his men had never come to the Mississippi, those epidemics would have come with Indian traders and raiders.

            (Its possible we’re talking past each other, in which case, my apologies.)

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ keranih
            Finally – and to my mind, most significant – putting the blame on de Soto’s pigs ignores the already-present deadly diseases moving in waves through Mesoamerica.

            I’m sorry if my brevity gave that impression; the article seemed to me to emphasize the overall waves of different diseases spread from different locations.

            De Soto’s real pigs make a nice counter-synecdoche to Columbus’s alleged smallpox blankets. The point being that the blankets (if any) would be deliberate germ warfare by an 18th Century British officer, while the pigs and other contagion factors from the various pre-1500 Europeans were unintended and unknown to them.

    • Murphy says:

      Small black holes fed with a steady stream of matter, kept at a size such that they produce a lot of hawking radiation is one possibility though their practicality is debatable.

  52. oligopsony says:

    It’s kind of one-third Freddie deBoer, one-third Brian Tomasik, and one-third weird humor.

    Those may actually be my three favorite things.

  53. TheFrannest says:

    > 40 – 60% of Middle Eastern/African/Muslim immigrants in France marry someone who is “neither an immigrant nor a descendent of immigrants”, suggesting an impressive level of assimilation.

    But that doesn’t imply assimilation per se, it implies that they don’t form ethnically exclusive diasporas. They may marry the local populace but expect the whoever they marry to assimilate, or make sure that the children grow up in their culture and not in the local culture. That is actually more confirming than denying the common concern from the anti-immigration crowd.

    I see this pattern with Caucasian men who marry the local populace.

    • Emile says:

      They may marry the local populace but expect the whoever they marry to assimilate, or make sure that the children grow up in their culture and not in the local culture.

      As far as I can tell from growing up and living in France – that’s not the case (I mean, sure there are some trying to preserve their culture and avoid assimilation, but they don’t seem to have the upper hand).

    • sweeneyrod says:

      “That is actually more confirming than denying the common concern from the anti-immigration crowd.”

      By this logic, any result of the study would confirm anti-immigration rhetoric:

      low% of immigrants marry locals – no assimilation
      high% of immigrants marry locals – they’re absorbing locals into their evil ways!

      • TheFrannest says:

        Here’s the rhetoric: immigrants immigrate, do not behave according to the standards of the local culture, marry locals and make them assimilate into their culture, and have many children while locals who marry locals tend to not have as many children.

        Having a study that confirms that immigrants marry white women will mainly make people say “well duh”

        • Urstoff says:

          If anyone has met children of immigrants, they know that cultural practices are only marginally passed down to children and are pretty much completely absent in the grandchildren.

          • Jiro says:

            Urstoff: Assuming the immigrants don’t form immigrant-heavy communities of their own that behave like some native groups that manage to pass cultural practices down.

          • Salem says:

            Oh come on.

            Look, your statement isn’t entirely false. For example, I’m the child of immigrants, and my brother and I have only marginal cultural attachments to [3rd world origin country] and my kids will just be ordinarily English but with funny names.

            But then go look at Southall or Tower Hamlets. You’ve already got 3rd generation immigrants living there, and they have not assimilated. It’s a fantasy to suppose that the “cultural practices” of the 3rd (or 5th) generation immigrants of places like that are going to remotely approximate their white neighbours’ in (say) Ealing.

            Now you might object that Southall doesn’t look much like Bangladesh in terms of its cultural practices. And that’s true! The original immigrants tried and failed to pass down their original culture unchanged, but they’ve instead given rise to a new set of cultural practices, influenced by both Britain and Asia. But that British Asian culture is stable, and not going away. The claim that immigrants don’t integrate to the native culture is, in these cases, true. The anti-immigrant line isn’t that Tower Hamlets is Dhaka-on-Thames in every conceivable respect, but that a number of undesirable “cultural practices” get imported, and persist, and prove very hard to get rid of. And it’s true.

            But it’s also true that lots of other immigration is good, and does result in assimilation. So, the question is, how do we get the good kind of immigration, and not the bad? And I’d say:

            1. Host country needs to respect itself. Britain lacks this. Ironically it’s assimilated immigrants who are some of the few people willing to express pride in their country.
            2. Trickle not a flood. Small rates are easier to assimilate because by the time more people come, the originals will have become assimilated.
            3. Diverse immigration. If all of your immigration comes from a few sources, that’s much more risky.
            4. Immigrants who want to assimilate.

            Personally I think (1) is key. You can’t begin to build a solution until you address that.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          “marry locals and make them assimilate into their culture”

          And hence if the study had shown that only 1% of immigrants marry locals, you would have said “Oh no, this doesn’t fit my theory! The theory must be wrong! Immigrants are clearly assimilated much more easily than I though!”? I am somewhat sceptical about that.

          • Jiro says:

            And hence if the study had shown that only 1% of immigrants marry locals, you would have said “Oh no, this doesn’t fit my theory! The theory must be wrong!

            He wasn’t saying that having immigrants marry white women proved the theory, he was saying that it was consistent with the theory. There’s nothing impossible about two mutually exclusive observations being consistent with a theory.

            (Also, marrying white women is not the same as marrying white natives. Many Middle Eastern cultures are patriarchial and it is plausible that marrying natives has different implications for assimilation depending on whether the natives are female or male.)

          • sweeneyrod says:

            Evidence being consistent with a theory means little. A theory that is consistent with all possible observations tells you nothing about those observations. If a theory about how well integrated immigrants are is consistent with any evidence about those immigrants, it is completely useless.

          • Jiro says:

            Evidence being consistent with a theory means little.

            It means “you know that evidence you thought was a disproof? It isn’t. Try again.”

      • Tatu Ahponen says:

        That study *still* doesn’t only speak about immigrants marrying “white women” but also shows that there’s a considerable amount of intermarriage going on among women of non-European immigrant backgrounds.

  54. Tom Stroop says:

    Great Stork Derby: Yeah, that’s a dollar auction if I’ve ever seen one.

    (Unrelated) David Chapman has a good post about ethics-as-signalling stuff.

  55. > Alternate still-pretty-good possibility: Africa booms as the new cheap labor source.

    Look. To steelman the anti-IQ position, let’s conditionally concede IQ may be an innacurate metric. But it still measures something, that something causes many points of difference between Sub-Saharan Africa and China, and that something probably has something to do with labor productivity. Even if IQ is halfway cultural and full of whitey assumptions (steelman), I suppose even those may matter running a factory in a way that whitey will buy whatever is made there. This is not going to be easy.

    • Linch says:

      “that something causes many points of difference between Sub-Saharan Africa and China”

      A lot of that “something” is malnutrition and parasites.

      • Wait a bit please. China had huge famines during the Great Leap forward. That counts as malnutrition?

        • Paul says:

          I suspect there might be considerable differences between outright famine and chronic malnourishment. The former involves a lack of calories, but not necessarily a lack of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. Chronic malnutrition by comparison can (depending on the nutrient in deficit) be harder to notice, and more likely to be long-term.

        • Anthony says:

          Anyone born during the Great Leap Forward is now at least 54; China is not as young as sub-Saharan African countries, but there are a lot more people under 54 than over it.

      • szopeno says:

        When testing uneducated, malnourished, sick children in Africa you can get IQ of below 70 points. So yeah, parasites and malnourishment definetely counts. But it’s hard to argue that, for example, American Blacks are loaded with parasites and malnourished compared to poor whites.

    • Randy M says:

      Don’t worry, it will be a labor boom because it will be sweat shops in Africa run by Chinese managers.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      If IQ measures ability to thrive under Western work conditions, Chinese-owned African factories may confound racist (what would a more neutral term be? “Murrayist”?) predictions based on it.

      • E. Harding says:

        NAFTA didn’t have a huge positive or negative effect on the economy of Mexico; Chinese-run plants for the production of manufacturing goods for export won’t have a huge positive or negative effect on the economy of Africa. Kenya and Tanzania had dozens of opportunities to perfect industrialization strategy, yet, Cambodia and Bangladesh are beating them at both economic growth and speed of industrialization.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      1. Capitalism took off just fine in pre-Flynn Europe + US.

      2. Lots of African-Americans do a perfectly good job in manufacturing work. That screens off most of the genetic issue, leaving just parasite/malnutrition issues. But as Africa becomes richer, those solve themselves.

      3. How high an IQ do you need to make random plastic doodads? I assume the multinationals will take care of te setup and all the workers will have to do is show up.

      4. Sub-Saharan Africa has very uneven IQ; the Igbo and Ethiopians stand out as especially high-scoring. Their areas are already starting to boom, but there’s plenty of room for more industrialization before you have to go to the worst performers.

      • E. Harding says:

        Hm. Compared to Africa today, the Detroit of 1980, which had some of the highest wages for young people in the country, sounds like a pretty good idea.

        And there is only one first-world Black-majority country*, and it’s a tax shelter which had a higher GDP (PPP) per capita in 1969, before it was even independent. That’s a bit stronger evidence than “capitalism took of just fine in pre-Flynn Europe + US”. Were Europeans and Americans back then generally genetically basically the same as Sub-Saharan Africans today? I don’t think so. And reading the literature written at the time, I can’t see much of an improvement in quality. Indeed, the gains in vocabulary scores over the past half-century in the First World have, as Steve Sailer recently pointed out, been very modest:
        The Flynn Effect was by no means a boost to all aspects of general intelligence. Numeracy and information literacy, for example, which you might expect to have improved due to the Information Age, barely improved at all.
        The fact Africans of exceptional ability disproportionately cluster around Southeast Nigeria and central Ethiopia does not tell us much of anything. South Africa, Ghana, and Botswana have never done very well on international tests of student achievement. Neither has India, which has lots of exceptional people.

        *Greece, Israel, and Taiwan are First-World; Russia, Hungary, and Argentina are not. And by my count, there are as many Black-majority countries as White (non-Arab, non-Hispanic, non-Turkic)-majority countries.

        I’m seeing more signs of industrialization in economically stagnant Haiti and Madagascar than in economically booming Rwanda and Ethiopia.

        • TheFrannest says:

          How is Greece first-world compared to Russia?

          • JBeshir says:

            Greek GDP per capita: 21,956.41 USD (2013)
            Russian GDP per capita: 14,611.70 USD (2013)

            Even after Greece’s massive decline in GDP per capita, they’re still way richer than Russia per capita.

        • keranih says:

          And there is only one first-world Black-majority country*, [snip] *Greece, Israel, and Taiwan are First-World; Russia, Hungary, and Argentina are not.

          What’s the metric for determining the distinction between first world and third world? (And why not use the more modern vocabulary of developed/developing?)

          And by my count, there are as many Black-majority countries as White (non-Arab, non-Hispanic, non-Turkic)-majority countries.

          Objection, failure to account for multiple variables which have previously been shown to be influential on a nation’s developmental progress, and instead relying on just the exposure under consideration.

          • E. Harding says:

            “Developing” countries is a label that is best applied to the first-world countries, as it is in those countries where the development frontier is most consistently being pushed forward (Paul Romer helped popularize this idea).

            What multiple variables do you want me to account for?

            And fifty is enough for exposure under consideration to still yield at least one first-world Black-majority country which was not first-world before its independence. For Asia, we have the Four Tigers and Japan. For the Black-majority world, there is nothing.

  56. >as baby boomers retire

    So we the almost 40 will finally see some promotions coming? My gen in Europe tends to have rather slooow careers, because as most places have a combination of seniority and merit, and when 70% of the company is 50+, you really need a lot of merit to outdo the seniority disadvantage.

    But how the eff should we get promoted as promotions means you get a team to manage, usually less experienced folks than you and usually that means younger folks? Not a law of nature, but is statistically so. I mean, there aren’t really that many people younger than us. I don’t see these armies of bright, hungry 25-28 yo yuppies that we were. Maybe they are strategically disguised as hipsters. Heh.

    Also, the elderly are a gold mine. I see corner shops converted to hearing aid shops and suchlike. This is what the smart money is doing these days. One of my acquaintances did an elderly nursing course. He does not really want very much to work in that, but if other plans fail, it seems like a surefire Plan B these days.

  57. Arceris says:

    > Mathematician James Stewart got rich writing a series of popular calculus textbooks. He used his fortune to create a calculus-related mansion called Integral House. When I get older I hope to be at least this eccentric.

    Scott, there are limits to how eccentric one can be.

  58. Peter says:

    That map of humanity wasn’t made by a Warhammer (as in, Warhammer Fantasy, not 40K) fan, was it? The island of Utopia looks remarkably like the island of Ulthuan where the High Elves come[1] from, both in terms of shape (a circular thing with a gap in the south leading to a big sea in the middle of the circular thing). Location – in the north, in the ocean between the two northern continents.

    [1] Well, “came”, apparently there’s this End Times thing where things, err, changed quite a bit. It seems that a lot of long-term fans are not happy.

  59. Emile says:

    The Mayor of New Orleans Gets Her Way: A Child’s Urban Planning Toolkit.

    The important question here is : why does that girl’s hair look like Texas?

  60. Peter says:

    I’ve been thinking about that sauerkraut juice/Nazi thing. The paper mentions the perceived health benefits of the juice, shows that the perception of health benefits mediates the shift in political attitudes. But why? The paper cites moral licensing, but how about an alternative hypothesis. Feeling healthy makes you feel strong, feel capable. So maybe you’re more likely to identify with the politics of the strong. In extremis, you could possible say that sauerkraut juice makes you feel like an Überman… hang on, preserved green vegetables, feeling strong, reminds me of Popeye. Yes, Popeye the Überman.

    My brain is a strange place at times.

  61. PGD says:

    Metafilter self-parody watch: right wing talk show host criticizes yoga class limited to people of color, class voluntarily shuts down at least temporarily, Metafilter goes berserk:

    “I am crying while reading this news, because I was just contemplating posting on AskMeFi a question on how to navigate white yoga class spaces as a queer genderfluid/woman of color. I also just read an AskMeFi question by a cis man who asked if he wanted to practice yoga, if he had to do any of the “woo” stuff, and there are 30 comments that back him up enthusiastically saying, “I’m an atheist, and you can totally practice yoga without having to do with any of the spiritual roots!”

    I feel so sick of how acceptable this violence against POC and LGBTQ-only spaces are. White, cis people, straight people, already get so many access to spaces and don’t feel the threat of violence, of death, of policing, of being taunted or harassed for wanting a space of their own. Why can’t they just fucking allow people who want a space of their own for historical, spiritual, and cultural reasons to have it for their own? Why do they want everything, even spaces and practices that they already colonized??? Isn’t it enough? Now I have to learn how to practice yoga from the privacy of my own home, from a white Youtube guru, because I am having so much trouble finding people of color yoga practitioners that even look like me. This Youtube guru doesn’t even talk about the spiritual practices, so I’m considering stopping following her and finding someone else, because I don’t want to contribute to cultural appropration anymore, which is so hard to find because you can barely find role models because of shutting down spaces like POC yoga!

    I hate white supremacy. I’m so sad and done with seeing my friends and communities being slaughtered and shut down like this, but it keeps happening, and we keep having to rebuild.”

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      I don’t think it’s prudent, nor in the spirit of this place’s stated values, to go all “Look at these dumbasses and the dumb-ass things they say!”, regardless of whether its reciprocal.

      Now that the obligatory virtue signaling is out of the way, I should probably save that post to use as pasta.

      • PGD says:

        Sigh. OK, you;re right of course.

        Just *one* more comment from that thread and then I promise I’LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN!

        “White people want to own everything about black people, their hopes, dreams, bodies, wealth, art, humor, their history; everything. It’s so sick and it’s so invisible till something like this happens….It’s a classic abuser relationship. Whites police people of color because we want to control everything they do or can think of doing. When they escape us or defy us, we explode in rage. ”

        I agree that there’s a reasonable argument for an all POC yoga class. Or an all white class. And I think it’s legal as long as it’s a truly private club. The talk show host was obviously just trolling. Still, that thread….

    • Murphy says:


      Is it actually legal in the US for a club to offer services to only black clients?

      From what I can find it appears that private clubs can exclude who they like.

      There appears to be a non-trivial number of such clubs which still exclude women or exclude non-whites in the US and I suspect they don’t individually get as much hostile attention.

      So while I think the initial criticism was accurate it doesn’t really seem fair to level so much hate at the club.

      The author of that quote would seem to have as much right to exclude non-indians from her club as the Butlers golf club has to exclude women. Until the latter is actually dead and gone she has as much right to the former. I don’t think it’s nice but she has a decent justification for why she’d want it and precedence for such things being allowed.

      • Marc Whipple says:

        Places of public accomodation must accomodate… the public.

        Private clubs can, in theory, discriminate racially or any other way they please, but in practice there are many ways to legally attack them as well as to socially sanction them.

    • JK says:

      Someone at MeFi recently linked to a collection of Scott’s writings. Predictably, the comments section erupted into hysterics about Scott’s deviance from MeFi orthodoxies on feminism and so on. Someone defended Scott by saying that “MetaFilter is rather an echo chamber around these topics, and Scott’s writing is one of the few places I get an alternative perspective.” The killer answer to this was that “It’s true [that MeFi] a terrible echo chamber where many of us agree that women are people too.”

      What is weirdest to me about social justice style thinking is how strongly is relies on crude reifications, essentialism and stereotyping while at the same time bemoaning them.

      • stillnotking says:

        I, for one, feel that Scott’s defenses of female chattel slavery are both thoughtful and humane, especially the “clean cages” post.

        Edit: Joke! Joke!!

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Say what?

          I think I have missed something here.

          • “Women are smarter than corvids, elephants and whales, but far dumber than men, and thus shouldn’t be subjected to factory-farming conditions, but should be controlled by the men in their lives, as they are universally too stupid to govern themselves.” is a belief completely line with “Women are people.”

            Motte and bailey again, basically, only with a cartoonishly narrow motte.

      • LeeEsq says:

        This is because they want to replace one Orthodoxy with another Orthodoxy

    • Anonymous says:

      Hello, everyone! I thought you all, as the preëminent local wolf den, would be very interested in a BEAUTIFUL deer I’ve discovered! Its movements are full of grace and its coat is pristine! It’s the most aesthetically pleasing deer I’ve ever beheld, and best of all, you can see it yourself! It lives RIGHT OVER THERE!

    • Anonymous says:

      An interesting argument in favor of freedom of association, even for baddies like white people or straight people or men, that might appeal to SJW types, that just occurred to me: whenever a privileged group like this self-segregates, it leaves the dis-privileged as a higher percentage of the rest of the population. Example: when white people go away and form a white people club, the main population has proportionally more non-white people, and therefore is more representative for its non-white members, so more of the yoga classes they could attend will be run and attended by non-white people, and similarly for all other activities where they want to interact with members of their group. On the other hand, insist white people (or substitute your preferred privileged group) must include non-white people in everything they do, and proportionally fewer mainstream activities will be run and attended by non-white people.

    • Peter says:

      Oooh, good find. I’m not usually a Jacobin fan but they come up with some good stuff from time to time.

      I have this pet obsession on looking up opinion polls with demographic breakdowns, and seeing how well opinions on specific issues correlate with demographics. The broad conclusion seems to be “not very strongly” and “noticeably less strongly than with party politics, as measured by party voted for in the last general election and voting intention in the next”. I’m glad to see the trend extends beyond the UK.

    • Echo says:

      “a lot of questionable reactions to the shootings in Paris stemmed at first from something entirely different: American ignorance of France and the French language, and therefore a massive degree of confusion about what Charlie Hebdo was and what its cartoons actually meant.”

      “Was it shooting up or shooting down to kill those cartoonists? It’s so hard to tell, comrade!”

  62. Psmith says:

    On the off chance that I’m not the last SSC reader to hear about this, tumblr user xhxhxhx linked to these recently, and I thought they were neat as hell.
    And apparently there’s a whole community of people writing these things. I look forward to idle hours and fifty open Wikipedia tabs.

  63. bean says:

    The article on scurvy was interesting, but there were serious errors. It’s clear the author hasn’t read much about Amundsen’s expedition, or even anything modern about Scott’s, as it describes him as a meticulous planner.

    That’s… about as far from the truth as it’s possible to be. Scott was a monumental disaster as a polar explorer, and it’s amazing that he lived as long as he did. Note his reliance on theory as to his method of preventing scurvy. Amundsen had simply noticed that people who ate fresh meat didn’t get scurvy, and made sure his people got enough fresh meat, seal or dog. They didn’t get scurvy.
    Amundsen definitely deserves to be described as a meticulous planner. While Scott’s team starved to death due to poor planning, inadequate preparation, and pointless changes of plan, Amundsen’s team was gaining weight on the return trip, and leaving food behind. Scott, on his way to the South Pole, insisted on taking Danish butter, because that’s what (IIRC) Nansen used on one of his expeditions to the north (even though it meant he had to ship it to Australia, which had plenty of butter of its own). He also decided to use skis, but didn’t think they needed to learn until they were already in Antarctica. Amundsen took experienced skiiers, and rebuilt his gear half a dozen times, despite having built it based on extensive arctic experience.
    An excellent book on the subject is Roland Huntsford’s Scott and Amundsen (also published as The Last Place on Earth.) Highly recommended.

    • RCF says:

      We already have Scott Alexander and Scott Aaronson, now we’re adding discussions of Scott&Amundsen?

  64. Decius says:

    Why have a chip that spends electricity to earn a small amount of bitcoin, when you can buy a chip that comes preloaded with some bitcoin that it uses to pay for the music you play?

    • RCF says:

      The only advantage I see is that if your device is generating its own bitcoin, it can be completely anonymous (with proper TOR and such). If you buy something pre-loaded with bitcoin, then someone could theoretically track the bitcoin you’re spending back to the company that sold it to you. Mining rigs can function as money launderers (or, at least, money anononymizers): buy a rig with traceable money, produce untraceable currency.

      What I’m unclear on is: my understanding is that bitcoin mining is granular. You don’t decide “I need 0.01 bitcoin, so I’m going to go out and mine that many”. You can set up a rig that has an expectation value of 0.01 bitcoin, but you don’t ever get 0.01 bitcoin; you either get 25 coins or you get nothing. So I guess the rig can sit around mining until it gets 25 coins, then pay them out until it runs out, then start mining again, but if that’s what it does, that’s an important detail that should have been included in the article (and does significantly reduce the anonymity if there are thousands of transactions tied to one successful mine).

      Also, they try to dismiss concerns about the cost by saying that prices will go down as technology advances, but that doesn’t hold much water; the bitcoin reward system is designed to adjust to advancing technology. As technology advances, the computing power required to mine will increase. While this particular device may be cheaper in the future, it will then not be powerful enough to make a practical amount of bitcoin. If they can’t make a cost effective device now, I don’t see much reason to think they will in the future.

      • Peng says:

        What I’m unclear on is: my understanding is that bitcoin mining is granular.

        That’s what mining pools are for. A bunch of miners agree that whenever any of them gets a prize then it will be shared among all of them in proportion to how much mining they each did. If you only do .01 BTC worth of mining, then you almost certainly won’t get the prize, but you will still produce a proof-of-work that says “you did .01 BTC worth of mining in the name of the pool”. Any proof-of-work that didn’t win is worthless to a solo miner, but it’s exactly what the pool promised to pay you for.

        And by “promise” I don’t mean that anyone has to trust anyone else: Mining-in-the-name-of-the-pool is a different computation than mining-in-the-name-of-yourself, so whenever a member wins it directly causes the pool to gain the prize, the member can’t renege on their promise to share. And the pool pays out to members in small increments, so if it ever reneges in the other direction then the members will immediately know and leave without having wasted much mining effort.

  65. Ben says:

    I’m amazed no one has said this yet.
    Spivak Calculus > Stewart Calculus.

    • Urstoff says:

      Apostol Calculus > Spivak Calculus > Stewart Calculus

      (okay, so I’ve never used Spivak’s book…)

      The Stewart book seems like just another textbook that has gotten really popular via historical inertia, like McConnell and Brue’s introductory economics text.

      • Pku says:

        Rudin>max{Apostol,Spivak,Stewart} (>>>Lang. Lang is terrible).

        But on a more serious note, calculus textbooks really need to stop being a thing.

      • stargirl says:

        I think Spivak Calculus is the math book that re-payed my efforts to read it most generously. And I have read a decent number of math books. The issue with saying Spivak > Apostal is that Spivak did not write any Equivalent of Apostal Vol. 2. Calculus on manifolds is definitely not a comparable book to Apostal 2.

    • Echo says:

      What is the best calculus book/series to read on your own time as a refresher?
      Tried to do a basic integration the other day, and realized how badly my math skills have atrophied.

  66. thewitcher says:

    I remember The Reason I Jump, a memoir of a 13 y/o boy with autism, being well-reviewed in the mainstream press. I ordered a copy recently for my family, as we have a boy with autism.
    Today I just found out it was written under Facilitated Communication (FC), which, according to wiki, is a crock – the autistic communicator is being held by a facilitator whose subtle, subconscious movements indicate the answers, with no input from the autist (the Clever Hans effect).
    Oh, and the English translation team includes a novelist, the author of Cloud Atlas.
    Is my instinct to chuck my copy of the book a sound one?

    • gattsuru says:

      Facilitated communication is very likely to be crock — there have been a number of high-profile cases where the facilitator made (often accusing) statements out of thin air using an autistic child like a pen. Most anything that’s remotely reputable tends to go under the label of assisted communication devices instead these days. However, there’s some controversy over whether the techniques involved here are true facilitated communication or not. Temple Grandin’s review and some of Mitchell’s answers on the BBC site suggest that this is somewhere between the two: the communication method did not involve wrist support and there is apparently video of the autistic child writing without outside human facilitation.

      That said, The Reason I Jump has a number of signs of being heavily edited by neurotypical interventions, at least in English. There’s a lot of stylistic and technical signs that wouldn’t make sense for any Japanese person to use, neurotypical or autistic, and many more discussion focuses I’ve never seem someone on the autism spectrum feel were natural. That doesn’t necessarily invalidate the content, but it does give reason to be cautious about its flavour and thematic conclusions.

    • Ricardo Cruz says:

      “the autistic communicator is being held by a facilitator whose subtle, subconscious movements indicate the answers, with no input from the autist”

      I just watched the frontline report on FC. There is one skeptic researcher that says the input from the autistic person is real. The facilitator rewards the autistic person when he responds to his impulses. So what happens is that the facilitator is in effect training the autistic person to be an amplifier of the facilitator’s own subconscious impulses.

  67. Steven says:

    > Alternate still-pretty-good possibility: Africa booms as the new cheap labor source.

    Not particularly likely. Africa (which, mind, currently only has 80% the population of China) is fragmented into 54 separate countries, many of which have nothing resembling an effective central government. There’s no one who can do for “Africa” what Deng Xiaoping did to China, and accordingly its impact will be at best a number of individual bucketfuls of new labor added, rather than a flood.

    The one great reserve army of the malemployed in the world today is India, and that army will not march until India’s elite gets over its deeply-ingrained hatred of industrial production.

    • Michael W says:

      Right now a factory in China is much more reliable and secure than one in the typical African country, while being nearly as cheap. Hence why nobody manufactures in the Congo.

      But it doesn’t take Deng Xiaoping to convince companies to invest in your country when you’re offering one of the world’s last remaining sources of cheap labour.

      That said, I agree that I don’t expect this to take place until the alternatives have been exhausted.

      • Steven says:

        Um, no. The labor being cheap is irrelevant.

        The addition of China and Eastern Europe to the available labor pool was not because companies suddenly noticed there was cheap labor there. It’s because the governments in those places started allowing companies to operate in them. In Eastern Europe because the Red Army left, in China because the new national leader decided it was a good idea. As soon as companies were allowed to operate, they did.

        The role of a Deng Xiaoping is not to “convince companies to invest”, it’s to order the people with guns to let companies actually operate plants. Even completely free labor doesn’t make up for your plant being expropriated a week after you move the machinery in, whether formally by the national government in Angola or informally by the local warlord of the week in Congo. Until a country is actually opened for business by someone who commands the guns, its labor pool is unavailable, whatever its theoretical price.

        And since Africa has no one Deng, it cannot be opened for business all at once like China was. It can, at best come in individual buckets, which, as individual buckets, cannot have the same sort of impact that the opening of China (or the liberation of Eastern Europe) had.

    • Samuel Skinner says:

      Nigeria then. It has 177 million and hit 914 million by 2100.

  68. Michael W says:

    There’s no such thing as a bored Civilization IV gamer 🙂

  69. RCF says:

    “A bunch of studies have come out in the past few years purporting to show that “poverty affects kids’ brains”, based on studies that show that poor kids have differently-structured brains than rich kids.”

    That’s rather poor wording. It would be better as “poor kids have brains structured differently than rich kids’.”

    “One constant in the back-and-forth debate over immigration is that Muslim immigration into Western Europe has gone exceptionally poorly. Or so I thought –Marginal Revolution reports that 40 – 60% of Middle Eastern/African/Muslim immigrants in France marry someone who is “neither an immigrant nor a descendent of immigrants”, suggesting an impressive level of assimilation. Still don’t know whether that means ethnically-French people or ethnically-Middle-Eastern people whose families immigrated more than one generation ago.”

    The term “descendant” isn’t generally restricted to one generation.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      “A bunch of studies have come out in the past few years purporting to show that “poverty affects kids’ brains”, based on studies that show that poor kids have differently-structured brains than rich kids.”

      That’s rather poor wording. It would be better as “poor kids have brains structured differently than rich kids’.”

      What distinction are you trying to draw here? It looks like you just changed the word order.

      • szopeno says:

        I think he meant to say that the fact that you find different brain structure in poor children, does not mean that this difference was caused by poverty. This could mean that they have different brain structure because they inherited it from their parents, and this is the reasons their parents (and them) are poor.

        Impossible to tell without controlled experiments.

      • RCF says:

        “It looks like you just changed the word order.”

        Word order is important. If you’re comparing X and Y, the logical formulation is X [comparison] Y. Here’s your sentence, with X in italics, Y in bold, and comparison words in capital letters. “poor kids have DIFFERENTLY-structured brains THAN [the brains that] rich kids [have].” The words “Poor kids have brains” belong together, as do “differently than”. Yes, human brains are good at reconstructing what you’re actually saying, and readers’ language processing modules will probably gloss over you jumping back and forth between two different phrases (along with the ellipsis), but it’s still sloppy writing, and promotes bad rhetorical habits.

  70. >Mathematician James Stewart got rich writing a series of popular calculus textbooks.

    Mind = fucking blown. Got rich. By. Writing. Calculus. Textbooks. Land of opportunities indeed. Well, continent of opportunities, as he is Canadian.

    And y’all complain about unfairness and lack of meritocracy? The kind of textbooks I bought at my Euro business school bookstore were cheap, printed on toilet paper in a few thousand copies at best, and the royalties to the author would not buy a car. And we ended up not buying them anyway because the sneaky bastard teachers wanted to push us to actually attend to lectures (engineering demand and job security, obv) and thus 90% of the exam material was from the lectures, not textbook. While the guys writing textbooks struggled, the local rich fuck with the BMW was the bar owner. Meritocracy and fairness? Getting rich on writing calculus textbooks is mind-blowing ultra-fair. It is absolutely lovely when people get rich who give not what people in their stupid minds think they will enjoy, but what they actually need. This is ultra-meritocratic, even more than usual capitalism that often focuses more on desirable products than useful ones.

    • Peter says:

      > And y’all complain about unfairness and lack of meritocracy?

      Sure, well, sort of. “Meritocracy” has two facets – one facet is people who have merit having the power, and the other is the people with the power having merit. Also, “meritocracy” could mean “at least some meritocracy” or “perfect meritocracy” or something in-between or you could flip-flop between the two motte-and-bailey style.

      Substantive equality of opportunity is a pain to measure, but one possible proxy is the correlation between income and parental income – i.e. intergenerational social mobility. Yes, people with high-earning parents may or may not be more likely to have merit than people with lower-earning parents, but that’s true in all countries, and if you compare various Western countries, then the USA ends up doing pretty badly. Alas, so does the UK. But equally, I’ve seen newspaper columnists[1] in print deny that there is any social mobility (in the UK) anymore. Their line is incompatible with the statistics. Stories of people doing well by doing a good job are compatible with the statistics.

      [1] Well, OK, a columnist, Suzanne Moore, who has many other faults as well. It was actually quite pleasing to catch her making such a verifiably ridiculous statement.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      “And y’all complain about unfairness and lack of meritocracy?”

      I’m not exactly sure who the “y’all” are here.

      If it is the American left, then complaints about a lack of meritocracy are not so much “We must build a meritocracy, so that those with merit can succeed” but rather counters to what are, essentially, just-world arguments. The just-world argument goes as follows: The US is a meritocracy, therefore anyone who is poor is merely not taking the opportunities afforded them because they are some combination of lazy, unintelligent and/or untalented.

      The existence of some people with merit who succeed is not a proof of this argument.

  71. Muga Sofer says:

    “No matter what their original views, Supreme Court justices get more liberal as they get older.”

    Really? That chart looks to me like the average of conservative judges drifts downwards until it meets the average of liberal judges; while liberal judges remain roughly the same but MAYBE go down a nonsignificant percentage point or two.

    That’s pretty far from “no matter what their original views”, it’s a huge partisan difference.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was also confused by the article’s use of “liberal”. I would have liked them to better define the term (if they did give a better definition, I didn’t remember). For example, the article said that judges become more accepting of other viewpoints — something many people might not associate with a contemporary “liberal”.

  72. Jaskologist says:

    The Yuan Percent: the children of China’s billionaires have nearly limitless wealth, but face the usual sorts of ennui and maladjustment that come with unearned riches.

    Does this make you reconsider your support of the Basic Income?

    • Dirdle says:

      As another supporter of the idea at least in theory: not really. The argument from children of the rich is not now new, and the considerations of it are the same as ever. There are a variety of points that could be made, but it seems like. Well, how to put this? If we struggle to feel useful and wanted if we’re not required to work, that’s our problem? Hum, I think there is simply too much ideological difference there still. Can we clarify that, since the ennui-argument should work regardless of such matters, we’re not talking about the practicality of implementing basic income, nor the problem of parasitism on welfare structures, nor any inherent wrongness of underlying redistribution of wealth, but rather solely about whether it is good for people to not have to work, absent any need for them to do so? Further, I think we can leave aside the question of whether people will still be afflicted by feeling useless if they are doing work they know is useless – true or not, I’m not sure it matters.

      This leaves my question: is it acceptable for those of us who more strongly need-to-be-needed to begrudge others their ability to be happy without being depended upon? Are we to believe no one has such an ability, that everyone who says otherwise is secretly or subconsciously as psychologically becrutched by their labours as ourselves? Wouldn’t that be downright odd, seeing as saying you love your work and just need to be useful, y’know, is a far better way to show off being virtuous?

      I have heard people say they cannot imagine what they would do if they had no job and no need of one. This, flatly, staggers me. Cannot imagine? Have they even tried? Even if the brain-functionality that generates the ideas is really just generating things-to-say-that-sound-socially-acceptable-to-claim-to-want-to-do-but-are-unfeasible-enough-to-warrant-not-actually-making-an-effort, that should still feel like being able to imagine things.

      • Anthony says:

        I don’t see why, at least in theory, we can’t couple a Basic Income with Basic Work. You sign up for Basic Income, and you get told where and when to show up, get given a broom or a trash bag, and get to clean up sidewalks in your town. There’s plenty of work that would be a public benefit to have done, but isn’t worth spending lots of money to do; if you’re going to give people the money, why not get some work for it?

        Back when the Left actually believed in the importance of work, they used to propose things like this. Nowadays, it’s just “gimme the money”.

        • Jiro says:

          Work has a certain amount of costs that don’t depend on the salary, such as having to find childcare and having to get transportation to the place of work. Basic income associated with basic work could leave people worse off than without the basic income and work because of these fixed costs.

          Also, it would be hard to administer the basic work in such a way that it’s not more exploitative than normal work (for instance, do they get any sick days off of basic work? How do you prevent the size of the basic work requirement from increasing without bounds, if the basic work is actually useful and therefore some politician gets a career boost from requiring more of it? Is basic work subject to minimum wage laws?)

        • Cet3 says:

          UBI is, or at least was, a libertarian idea, and giving the money to everyone with no strings attached is the whole point. Otherwise, it’s just the same old welfare system it was supposed to replace. What’s rational about reflexively attributing every idea you don’t like to the machinations of the Left?

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          I think many well-off people don’t realize just how much socially valuable work there is to do in poor neighborhoods, right in their schools or even in their apartment buildings.

          I support wage subsidy, even at the cost of me paying for it. If you can hire a neighbor lady to watch your kids for $3/hour and the state is supplementing that by $5/hour, a lot of the lower-skilled citizens can be part of the economy again. If it’s that easy to find child-care you can go clean up the front lobby that your other neighbor wanted you to do.

        • John Schilling says:

          The value of the UBI over more traditional social-welfare programs comes from its universality – everyone in the target population (roughly, citizens/subjects/residents of State X) gets it. Whether they need it or not, whether they deserve it or not. Evil Billionaires get it, just like crippled beggars do. This has two critical effects. First, it gets rid of the huge negative marginal “tax” that is imposed when a person gets the type of Real Job(tm) that eliminates their eligibility for traditional welfare. Second, it greatly reduces the scope for political tampering as various special-interest groups negotiate loopholes such that their people can either double-dip at the low end or avoid paying their share at the top. Or, in the middle, profit from various rent-seeking opportunities like setting themselves up as the consultants you have to deal with to fill out the paperwork that proves you’re one of the ones that gets the money as opposed to one of the ones that has to pay for it all.

          We can imagine doing that on the “income” side. It’s not going to happen, but it’s not nonsense. It would be expensive, but between sweeping away all the corrupt broken welfare systems and giving all of the actual taxpayers a $5K/yr GBI to mitigate the extra taxes they’re going to have to pay for the whole thing, the math kind of works out.

          I can’t see how you’d imagine making an Universal Work program, actually work universally. Some people can’t work; the aforementioned crippled beggars are actually crippled. Some people won’t work, e.g. the Evil Billionaires. Lots of people shouldn’t work, at least at the trash-picking type jobs you’re talking about and maybe not at all, because they have better things to do. And then there’s this pesky concept of “retirement” that just about everybody in the industrialized world is really, really looking forward do.

          The bureaucracy that’s going to build up around deciding who has to work and who doesn’t, that’s going to be worse than anything the traditional welfare state has to offer. So will the perverse incentives at the must-work/doesn’t-have-to-work border.

          If all you’re saying is that the state should give a socially useful day-laborer job to anyone who wants and can perform one, that’s not Universal Income nor Universal Work by definition. It’s something we could sort of do and sort of did do during e.g. the Great Depression, and it’s fair game for most any society in a science fiction or fantasy novel. It probably won’t work in the contemporary industrialized world because we have many millions of unemployed people who truly, sincerely believe they are entitled to not have to do menial labor ever and have the resources to cause no end of trouble if you try to make them do menial labor for their daily bread.

          And it’s not necessary in the contemporary United States at least, because we already have private-sector day-laborer jobs for just about anyone who wants them. That’s basically the source of the whole illegal-immigration thing that Trump is milking – more menial-labor jobs on the table than American citizens willing to perform them.

          • Jiro says:

            That’s basically the source of the whole illegal-immigration thing that Trump is milking – more menial-labor jobs on the table than American citizens willing to perform them.

            “We can’t find workers” is almost always “we can’t find workers at the price we’re willing to pay”. Without illegal immigrants driving the price down because of 1) greater competition and 2) de facto exemption from minimum wage laws, if American citizens refused to do the jobs the employers would have to raise the salary until they stopped refusing.

            The fact that American citizens are unwilling to do the work at the salary offered is actually an important part of how the free market works.

          • brad says:

            Or the work in question just wouldn’t get done. Demand for most goods and services aren’t completely inelastic.

          • John Schilling says:

            Or the work in question just wouldn’t get done.

            Most likely. The price at which any significant number of native-born Americans will take a menial-labor job, and actually do it, is going to be quite high. Most of these people believe themselves to be entitled to at least a retail-sales job; the menial-labor jobs being harsher and less pleasant will need to offer premium wages. And most of these people have ties to middle-class American culture that offer the alternative “career” of mooching off friends, family, and public assistance while agitating for whatever populist politician promises to give them a good job. After a year or two of this, the mooch-ees will be leaning populist as well, if only to get their layabout brother-in-law off the couch.

            Any plan that involves tens of millions of native-born Americans doing menial labor for less than $50K/year, is a bad plan. Lots of trash is simply not going to get picked up, etc.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            It probably won’t work in the contemporary industrialized world because we have many millions of unemployed people who truly, sincerely believe they are entitled to not have to do menial labor ever and have the resources to cause no end of trouble if you try to make them do menial labor for their daily bread.

            You have convinced me to never support a Basic Income.

        • brad says:

          That system is called employer of last resort. It’s associated with Australian school MMT.

          In addition to the problems mentioned by the others, what do you do when the person is a crappy worker? Such a worker can easily be a net negative. What are your carrots and sticks to motivate? This is already a problem with public sector workers because of rigid civil service and union contracts but would be even more so with a guaranteed job scheme.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      1. I don’t know how much of this is “unearned wealth” versus “extreme amounts of wealth” versus “so much wealth that it is impossible for them to relate to anyone else”.

      2. I would much rather be one of these Chinese rich kids than a poor person.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. I am now certain any Basic Income should be less than a billion dollars.

  73. JBeshir says:

    I find “Keeping The Content Machine Whirring” interesting for how it shows one of these articles about how Thing Is Terrible And We Should Not Be Okay With That is written by someone who is in fact entirely reasonable, doesn’t think shaming individual pieces of media is at all productive, outright says they don’t know what they’re talking about, and more or less manufactured the whole thing as a form of performance art because doing so made money.

    My main take from “Toxoplasma of Rage” was that media selected for emphasising the naturally outraged, but this leads me to wonder how much outrage is outright manufactured by article writers who see that propositions that things are outrageous and proposals for radical positions get clicks and just create them with the same attitude as a student told to create an essay “arguing in favour of” something.

    How much polarisation and demonisation is coming from *deliberate* manufacture of contentious, very dubious issues to fight over, beyond and above the selection pressures, by people who feel that putting out an article no matter how poorly argued is a morally neutral thing to do that they’re just being paid for?

    • Technically Not Anonymous says:

      >How much polarisation and demonisation is coming from *deliberate* manufacture of contentious, very dubious issues to fight over, beyond and above the selection pressures, by people who feel that putting out an article no matter how poorly argued is a morally neutral thing to do that they’re just being paid for?

      In the absence of hard evidence one way or the other, my intuition is “a lot.” There’s no way they don’t know they’re getting their clicks by rustling people’s jimmies. And I’m sure many of them don’t feel great about it, but it’s not like there are millions of jobs out there for people who want to write insightful articles that consider both sides of an issue and come to an interesting conclusion.

    • Nornagest says:

      If we’re lucky, maybe we can get the content machine to eat itself. Deliberately stirring up dubious outrage is itself outrage-worthy, after all…

      • BBA says:

        I saw an article some months ago about how each Monday one lucky site has its link to John Oliver’s weekly rant go viral, and this generates lots of income for producing absolutely nothing original at all.

        I don’t watch John Oliver but if he ever made that the subject of his weekly rant, the content machine would get really awkward for about a week…until Oliver’s next show airs, to be precise.

  74. ad says:

    Their answer: Scots-Irish is a euphemism. American Southerners and Appalachianites are actually descended from the Border Reavers.

    Then shouldn’t we be saying “Scots-English”?

    Anyway, is Appalachia really very like the Scottish Borders or Northern England?

    • brad says:

      The Irish part comes because many ended up in Northern Ireland before making their way over to the US.

    • Steven says:

      Well, you see, there was a stopover for a couple generations in Ireland where they were the Ulster Scots.

      Which is to say, Appalachian culture is born from an offshoot of the people that gave us the Orangemen and Northern Ireland’s Unionist paramilitaries.

  75. Kaj Sotala says:

    We’re always told that we need seven to eight hours’ sleep, but hunter-gatherers seem to make do with six and a half.

    Finally objective proof that modern life is worse than hunter-gatherer life.