This is the weekly open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. Also:
1. I’ll see some of you at the Bay Area Solstice tonight!
2. Comments of the week are Yarbel on why Israel would demand a snap decision on peace, Chris Stuccio on the new Bitcoin computer, and explanations of English’s non-uniqueness by nydwracu and Machine Interface
3. The Future of Humanity Institute has job openings right now, including three research fellowships at the Strategic AI Research Center and a position as executive assistant to Nick Bostrom. If you have the necessary skill set and are interested in humanity having a future, take a look at their page. Related: If You’re An AI Safety Lurker, Now Would Be A Good Time To De-Lurk
Mourinho’s got the boot and Chelsea are just sitting above the relegation zone.
No comment 🙂
We are flourishing in decent mid-table obscurity, and the Foxes(!) are currently top of the table.
Who is we?
>Mourinho’s got the boot and Chelsea are just sitting above the relegation zone.
That’s really sad to hear, Mou has been a source for much hilarity
>Who is we?
Liverpool, most probably.
In the long tail of one of the previous thread I suggested that assortive mating by intelligence was primarily a blue tribe phenomenon mediated by elite colleges and grad schools. David Freidman objected that there are other mechanisms besides universities. When pressed for examples he pointed to firms and suggested that rising executives might meet and marry. But this doesn’t seem like plausible for the red tribe generally given the tendency for young first marriages. He had other good points about grays and non-tribals, but I’m curious if there are common and effective mechanisms for getting the smartest young men and women in the red tribe together at the age when they tend to marry for the first time.
I’ll take as given for the sake of argument that assortive mating by parental wealth is a decent substitute, but is that all there is?
Um, don’t most smart red tribers still go to college? Then they can meet each other there (at the young Republican club, or the aspiring business leader club, or at a campus religious organization, etc). I suspect that the ones marrying their HS sweethearts aren’t the cream of the crop.
Anecdotally, I have a family member who went to Wheaton, and I understand a rather large fraction of their students end up marrying one of their classmates, often shortly after graduation. Going by SAT scores, it looks like the 25th/75th percentiles at Wheaton are around +1/+2 SD, so that’s fairly strong assortive mating.
I suspect that the ones marrying their HS sweethearts aren’t the cream of the crop.
Thank you for insulting my father, Frank R. Oh, I know you didn’t mean it on a personal level, but when you’re flinging out bons mots about the dum-dums on the opposite side of the divide, you’re going to insult a lot of people unintentionally – possibly even those in your own family (unless you can demonstrate that all your family members who did not go to college and/or married their first loves are all stupider than the rest of your family).
My father was intelligent. He was even intelligent in the way this site loves: mathematically intelligent, interested in STEM, loving to work out maths problems for fun.
He also had to leave school at fourteen to find work and help support his family, so he never got an education commensurate with his ability and indeed did end up marrying his “HS sweetheart”. Worse again, he even ended up – quelle horreur! – joining the Army for lack of a better job! Nice to have it confirmed he was not “the cream of the crop”!
You know, I just love the assumption on here that not going to college means you’re stupid.
Since we acknowledge (we are acknowledging, right?) that Red Tribe and Blue Tribe don’t simply mean Republican party voter and Democratic party voter, and that corresponding Red Tribe and Blue Tribe characteristics can be found in other societies, I am not going to pare this down to Republican versus Democrat, not least because there are Democrat voters who are not otherwise Blue Tribe.
But this back-patting assumption that since you went to college that proves you’re one of the Smart People and thus those that did not are (1) unassailably dumb (2) members of the rival cultural/political/social tribe is really beginning to annoy me.
There are people who did not go on to college who are equally as smart as those who did, and there are various reasons why they didn’t : lack of money/opportunity, the necessity to support themselves as soon as they finished their education because of family circumstances, more interested in a practical skills career than an academic one, wanted to go into the arts instead (yes, you can do this without a third level degree), just not interested in going and not because they preferred to go into business and begin grinding the faces of the poor as soon as possible.
I know Neil Kinnock’s speech was political campaign emotional appealing (the “thousand generations” stuff is silly) but there is the germ of a point in there:
You want to know why my youngest brother was the first person in my family to get a third level education and a degree? It’s not because he’s the smartest of we four siblings. It’s down to serendipity: my aunt in Wales died, left my mother the proceeds of the sale of her house in her will, and after paying off her debts, there was enough left to pay for my brother, who had just completed his secondary education, to go to university. Without that money, we could not have afforded to send him.
Or we could just make the same assumption that I see repeated on here time and time again: he has a university education so naturally he’s smarter and more progressive* than I, who do not, am and morally superior to me on every topic that counts.
*More progressive, certainly: he’s the gay rights, vegan, atheist, animal rights etc. one of the four of us. Smarter, I would definitely dispute, since I did his homework for him in primary school 🙂
The argument, or at least my argument, wasn’t that everyone that doesn’t go to college is dumb, but rather that everyone that goes to (elite) colleges (and especially grad schools) is smart. So if you have a group of people that often meet their future spouses in grad school and those grad school classmates are all smart you have a plausible process whereby the smart are more likely to marry the smart than whatever the background rate is.
The question I had was what other mechanisms are in place to match the smart with the smart. If the answer is just they find each other in amongst more homogenous groups (like Murphy suggests) — of course I understand that happens and has always happened, but I don’t see any reason to think that it would be more common now than it used to be or is as strong an effect as the elite grad school one.
ok, I’ve been assuming that we’re of similar generations, both from ireland and your parents sound not-dissimilar to my own in many respects, only secondary school level education etc, my dad never got any tertiary qualifications but he did help create some of the earliest comp-sci courses.
but now I’m curious.
With the grant and ,up until recently, third level being effectively free in ireland even my classmates with dead parents or dying parents, zero-asset parents, profoundly disabled parents and broken families were able to afford to go to Uni while incurring no or minimal debt yet only one of your siblings could?
Was the free tertiary education not a thing for your generation or was your income essential to your family from the time you graduated from secondary? Cultural difference?
My secondary school was considered a “rough” one sitting in the middle of a big council estate with most of the school from the estate yet pretty much the only people who didn’t go to third level were the handful of D-class jackass-bullies who preferred to skip out and set fires down by the river or attack people and the small minority who either thought school was for morons and knew that daddy had a job lined up for them in his buisness or who thought school was for morons because “why would anyone work”.
My dad was more or less the same: at least as smart as I am, which is saying something, but only barely graduated high school and went into the Navy soon after. Now he’s a blue collar maintainance man, at least until he retires on his next birthday.
That said, I don’t think Frank was being deliberately classist or is even wrong in terms of population numbers. Empirically, college grads taken as a group are smarter than high school grads taken as a group: all of the bumps that an individual might get hit with smooth out on a population level. Having a degree doesn’t make you any smarter and a plenty of idiots get degrees, but it still serves as evidence.
In the context, however, of Blue versus Red, that was a hell of a lot of assumptions floating around unchallenged.
“smarter Red Tribe people go to college” – meaning the vast unleavened lump of the Red Tribers are just the hicks from the sticks, good enough to fix your car or your plumbing but not really much use and certainly not in the Brave New World coming where everything will be done by robot. The type who are “not the cream of the crop”.
Meanwhile, all the Blue Tribe (or the vast majority that counts) go to college. What about poor Blue Tribers? Are there such beasts, or is it a different class of poor – the ‘starving artist’ rather than the guy who hasn’t worked since the box factory closed down? Or Democrat voters who don’t fit the entire Blue Tribe profile – the ethnic minorities which act as tokens, fashionable charms dangling from the fair trade organically sustainable hand-woven by Nepali AIDS survivors bracelet of the bien pensant in order to prove how utterly, utterly diverse they are, unlike the Red Tribe.
But let us conveniently forget that those same “voting for the right party” persons may have the wrong attitudes and indeed engage in wrongthink, e.g. those black churches which resolutely refused to come on board with “gay rights are the new civil rights”, or Latino immigrants who are manual labourers and not college-educated – you know, just like the non-cream of the crop Redneck Red Tribals.
I’m angry that apparently the notion that you can make snooty remarks about the non-college educated and it doesn’t strike anyone as classist, racist or plain ignorant bad manners because you’re talking about “that lot there” who are, after all, your fellow citizens and fellow humans.
It reminds me very much of the definition of humanitarians being people who love Humanity in the abstract but who hate their fellow humans they engage with in day-to-day life.
Generally speaking there aren’t a lot of poor or working class people in the “Blue Tribe,” because it’s basically defined as coastal middle and upper class whites. A Koch isn’t culturally very different from a Kenedy: both of them go to the same schools and the same boat clubs.
Unions form a strong constituency for the Democrats but they’re not the same sort of people as the “Blue Tribe” and typically have vastly different concerns. Ditto with ethnic minorities: blacks and latinos are valuable voting blocks but also much much more conservative than the median democratic candidate on anything except race.
Going back to anecdotes: my Dad is a yellow dog democrat, a lifelong union member and lives in a democratic stronghold state. But he’s also a veteran who never went to college, loves country western music, wears timberland boots and desperately wishes his illegal coworkers could be convinced to learn to speak English. Give him a gun and a bible and he’d fit in perfectly with the “Red Tribe.”
So yes it’s absolutely a class thing first and foremost.
You know, I just love the assumption on here that not going to college means you’re stupid.
Unless you’re Eliezer Yudkowsky.
I’d imagine you’d get some degree of assortative mating simply due to people often finding people on their own level most interesting.
People also tend to associate in clubs and societies which can also filter for intelligence to an extent. The people who join more intellectual clubs are more likely to get together. Women in the chess club are far more likely to date other members of the chess club than are women outside the club.
I’m largely speculating, since I’m an academic and an atheist, but I would expect some red tribe assortive mating to happen through churches. It helps to have institutions that sort people by intelligence but it isn’t essential, since people can sort themselves within an unsorted population.
In more traditional societies, couples are largely put together by the parents. I don’t know if there is a significant amount of that pattern happening in some form in American red tribe populations.
I’m not a regular attendee I go closer to once a month rather than every Sunday, but speaking from experience church functions and auxiliaries are a decent places to find a mate. My friend J met his (now) wife through the choir (he was a tenor and she was an alto), and I’ve certainly derived some benefit from the social opportunities offered by volunteering and simply mingling.
Re: the whole Israel-Palestine shitstorm upthread, has anyone suggested yet that Israel abolish the Palestinian autonomy and eject anyone who complains? Because that’s an option that’s likely to lead to internal peace. Indeed, the time couldn’t be better, with Syria, Iraq and Egypt all occupied with rebel problems – even the Saudis are busy intervening in Yemen – so immediate anti-Israel coalitions are unlikely to emerge.
As it happens there is a pro-ethnic-cleansing party in Israel. Guess you’ll need to step up if you want to maintain your edge posting bona fides.
Are you accusing me of posting that simply for the sake of the edge factor, rather than a serious solution proposal?
I’m not surprised to learn that the Israelis have such a faction. Jews are smart, after all. What is that faction called, though?
All of those people in those countries would come together to oppose Israel.
Doubtful. And even if – it isn’t like Israel hasn’t beaten them all together before.
I don’t think Israel is silly enough to provide them with an attacking outside threat just when they’re tearing each other to bits.
Israel wouldn’t be attacking any of them, unless you mean that being subjected to Palestinian refugee migration is an attack.
“Hurr durr look how low status I am”
“Fuck off, loser”
“Joke’s on them, I was countersignaling”
Placebo effect and regression to the mean:
Is metformin a cheap anti-aging drug?
FYI, there was some discussion of this in the last links thread. But it is an underexamined topic and could always use more attention!
Indeed. This could be very good news for my parents and grandparents, especially.
How does an environmentalist prove they’re not a “watermelon” (green on outside red on inside), beyond openly saying that communism is a bad idea? It seems like an impossible accusation to answer?
By being an eco-capitalist, eco-fascist or green conservatist?
Join the Mexican Green Party. They love the death penalty and hate the gays. And their logo is a happy toucan.
They also throw a wicked party and have entertaining radio spots.
Consume a lot of dye?
Discuss why you think nuclear power is a good thing (if you think nuclear power is a good thing, that is)?
Talk about a carbon tax in an explicitly market-based way?
Find someone to the left of you and castigate them for it (not it)?
I think the kind of person who is likely to claim that someone is only supporting environmental goals because of insidious communist sympathies is not likely to change their mind and also isn’t worth dealing with.
I agree with the last paragraph, but still the notion does not come out of the blue. For some reason there are more “eco-concerned” people on the left and probably more the more to the left you drift. It might have something to do with messianic tendencies of the left-wing, I don’t know. It might simply be that the left took this idea first, so it became a “leftwing idea” by default. But it is not a bad prior to assume that an environmentalist is likely to also be a socialist (and more likely to be a communist as well, despite the horrible ecological track-record of actual communism). The Green Parties, at least in Europe, are often the most radical left save for actual communists and the environmentalist issues are maybe not even the major part of their program anymore. There are also some center-right green parties, but the only one I know of which has some noticeable support is the Green Liberal party in Switzerland (liberal is not used in the US sense, so it does not mean left-wing).
But I think the answer to the original question is simple. If you favor state solutions in things not related to environmentalism, then you are likely to be a melon. If not, then you probably are not. Do you also support minimum wage laws? What is your stance on gun control? Are (let’s say non-environmental) taxes too high/too low/just right according to you? Should there be limits to what is free speech (should there be a legally defined “hate-speech”)? Should the state have a say in how you raise your children? And so on…
Of course one could also argue for market-based environmental actions as opposed to the state-based ones. For example one could want to buy parts of the Amazon through a charity and conserve and protect it, or what an actual charity does – use the charity money to sue the Brazilian state to give that land back to the Indians from the Amazon who tend to not turn it into farmland (which strikes me as a nice libertarian property rights approach). Makes more sense to me than supporting state subsidies of various industries which label themselves as eco-friendly, but not always are – such as in the case of the so called biofuels.
On a slight tangent, I usually take particular environmentalists seriously if they are not fanatically against (meaning not that they have no objections against them, but that they do not see them as a sin) nuclear power and GMOs, two things that, despite not being perfect, seem like a part of the solution to a lot of environmental issues rather than a cause. Yet these environmentalists seem to be a minority.
> For some reason there are more “eco-concerned” people on the left and probably more the more to the left you drift. It might have something to do with messianic tendencies of the left-wing, I don’t know.
It’s probably just because both “red” and “green” types have a common enemy: capitalists / corporations.
The standard “red” conflict is between capitalists/owners/rentiers and workers. (This mimics the older conflict between landowners and laborers.) It’s about the division of the spoils of production.
The standard “green” conflict is between unbridled development/production and the environment. Of course, if you reduce production, this will harm workers too, but this is through fairly indirect channels (reduce return to capital -> less investment -> labor demand curve shifts in), while the losses of shareholders/owners are more direct and obvious.
Then you have enemy of my enemy is my friend. And it also helps that hippies have natural affinity for “the little guy”, even if most blue collar types don’t think much of hippies.
(Also, to some extent political alliances are arbitrary accidents of history that are later rationalized. Like, why are rich business owners and conservative Christians natural political allies?)
“Natural allies” to me implies overlapping interests, but I think the (recent) durability of the alliance between business conservatives and religious conservatives is more due to non-overlapping interests. Business conservatives don’t care too much about religiously motivated morality signaling — there’s some historical friction around media, but self-censorship has largely solved the problem and media’s not a very conservative industry anyway. Religious conservatives (in the US, where they’re mostly Protestant and have inherited shares of the Puritan attitude toward labor) don’t care too much about laissez-faire economics. So there’s not too many ways for them to step on each other’s toes.
There’s historically also a bit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” action going on here, since both are strongly anti-Communist — religious conservatives because they object to Communism’s atheism and materialism, business conservatives for obvious reasons. But that’s a lot less relevant after 1991, and Islamism is an imperfect substitute.
There’s a difference between concluding that someone is likely to be left-wing because they are concerned about environmental causes and claiming that they are they are only using concern about environmental causes as a beard to promote socialism. That’s usually the context I see the ‘watermelon’ canard brought up.
FWIW I think the association is just because the right ended up the party of Unrestrained Free Market Capitalism.
I think that what you described would be the Libertarian party in the US and similar parties in Europe, not the right as a whole. At the same time, you can be pro unrestricted capitalism (or definitely much more unrestricted than a typical Republican) and concerned about environmentalist issues. In fact, I would not be too surprised if on average the members of the Libertarian party were more inclined to have sympathies to at least some environmentalist goals than the members of the Republican Party. Ditto for supporters of those parties or of what they broadly stand for.
Your last paragraph is why the right distrusts environmentalism and supports climate-change denial. When every single environmental problem is presented with a left-wing – more government regulation, more taxes, less property rights – solution, it’s rational to believe that left-wing economics is the real aim and that environmental concerns are only being used as a propaganda hook. So until the environmentalists fix their attitude, and are willing to offer solutions which don’t consistently and completely map to left-wing economic desires, the right is going to treat them as a gang of thieves out to steal their property and destroy the economy.
What would be a right-wing solution to climate change, given that you’ve excluded taxes, and therefore excluded Pigovian taxes?
Reduce taxes and regulations on energy companies, hope that somebody invents magic in the next few decades?
Incidentally, Pigovian taxes are my preferred solution to the problem – tax CO2 emissions, make it zero income by cutting other taxes, let the market sort it out. Maybe look into why nobody wants to build nuclear power plants and whether there’s a governmental problem there (I am not an expert on US/European/whatever nuclear power regulations. I’m in favour of removing the ban on nuclear power plants in my country though). I don’t think this is a terribly uncommon position in the cluster of people who care about the issue – the nuclear thing is definitely not very common, and I understand that, I’m not really super into them, but a carbon tax is very much a popular proposition, and revenue neutrality is pretty common as well. I am, of course, quite left of centre.
I reserve the right to not interact with people who are just being shit-stirring conspiracy theorists. If you’re going to implicitly accuse me of being dishonest, why should I bother?
Nuclear power plants would be a start. You almost caught on, but just barely missed it.
The answer to your question “Maybe look into why nobody wants to build nuclear power plants” is precisely that the left *is* doing it based on ideology, and nuclear power plants don’t fit into the ideology. If you could solve the problem of getting the left to support nuclear power, you wouldn’t need to convince the right, because to solve the problem you have to remove the exact thing that the right is complaining about.
(This applies to geoengineering too. That’s really horrifying to someone with a pro-nature ideology.)
I don’t follow. To me it looks like nuclear power is just as much a problem for the right as it is for the left as making them work requires a fairly high level of government intervention.
1) Nuclear plants need to borrow an enormous among of money up front to be built. No one wants to lend them that money at a rate that makes the whole plant economical unless they have some sort of guarantee that someone will be willing to buy power from them at a stable rate for the next 50 years. That means granting a government monopoly. The alternative is to have the government guarantee the loans.
2) Decommissioning costs, including waste disposal, are quite high. Without government regulation companies will incorporate special purpose entities, run power plants and pay dividends and then go out of business before paying decommissioning costs. So you need rules about reserves, bonds or the like, which in turn make the spreadsheet for profitability worse and increase the calls for subsidies.
3) There is a certain amount of catastrophic risk associated with nuclear power plants. The options are: let them run without adequate insurance and let the chips fall where they may or require adequate insurance. If the government chooses the former there is no built in market mechanism to ensure the companies spend enough on safety and so you need micromanaging safety regulations. But if the government chooses the latter there isn’t the depth in even the reinsurance market to write these policies and if there were the cost would make running plants uneconomical. So in practice you need government to provide backstop insurance which in turn brings you back to micromanaging safety regulations.
@Brad In addition to your points, North America’s natural gas boom, and probable cheap future solar, add a lot to the risk of investing a few billion dollars in a nuclear power plant in the United States. Electricity production prices are probably trending downwards for quite a while.
I am under the impression that no one really would make a go of it currently in the US unless it was either subsidized, or if some sort of regulation (e.g. carbon tax) was making alternative forms of energy more expensive. With that said, I do find it plausible that they’re over-regulated and would be open to sensible deregulation, though I don’t know enough to offer specifics. But while 20-30 years ago that might have made a big impact, I don’t see it making much difference at this time.
In general, the pro-capitalist argument with regard to nuclear power is that the reason it costs too much to be economical is unnecessary government regulation, based on environmentalist alarmism about the size of the risks.
If the returns are too low to cover the size and risk of the investment, the plant shouldn’t be built. This might be true, even in a free market.
Obviously, in that case, the advocates of laissez faire would say that nuclear power plants should not be built if they are not profitable.
Yes, it’s reasonable to require that nuclear power companies cover the decommissioning costs up front (or in some way make sure they are paid, which is a legitimate concern). If this makes it unprofitable, the plants shouldn’t be built.
But maybe the decommissioning costs are too high because of an unnecessarily high level of regulation.
I don’t see why nuclear power plants can’t be insured. Yes, the potential damage is quite high, but that just means they have to make the probability of disaster quite low. If they are not profitable enough to make up for the cost of insurance, they are senseless and shouldn’t be run. Especially not by the government. The catastrophic risk doesn’t go away when the government imposes it on people without any market limitation on the risk it can impose.
Basically, you are arguing that nuclear power is economically insane. That running the plants is not productive enough to make the benefits greater than the costs. Maybe so. In that case, pro-capitalists would be against nuclear power.
But now this is an object-level dispute about nuclear power. One side thinks it would likely be profitable (for the company and society) if the layers of Soviet bureaucracy were removed. The other side thinks it wouldn’t.
The pro-capitalists say: the market will build nuclear power plants if they are profitable, and it won’t build them if they are not. Either way, the government should not build them.
Edit: Ninja’d by Vox Imperatoris
Nuclear power plants are very expensive, but a great deal if not the majority of those costs are regulatory. Even getting the land to build it can be a huge hassle since local governments and the EPA can and will step in and prevent construction on any flimsy justification. Reducing the regulatory burden would make nuclear power much more economical.
As for the argument that private firms won’t invest in something on that scale remeber that even with present costs, including the regulatory burden, the price of getting a nuclear plant running are on the same order of magnitude as building a semiconductor fabrication plant. Private actors are absolutely willing to invest in capital on the order of billions of dollars, but why should they do so if there’s a risk their plant will be arbitrarily shut down or nationalized every four years?
The argument against nuclear power on economic grounds is bizarre because it’s so circular. The government could make toothpaste just as difficult for private firms to manufacture if it wanted to, but would that mean the market is incapable of supplying the need for toothpaste or that toothpaste manufacturing is inherently inefficient?
AFAIK a cutting edge fab has a payback period of 5 years. It will continue to run for another decade or more on less and less performance critical parts, with correspondingly lower margins, but if it it wasn’t projected to make back its costs while the node was top of the line they wouldn’t get built.
A nuclear power plant has break even times of 25-50 years.I can’t think of anything else the private sector invests in with that long a time horizon. Not even new drugs. A payback period that long means that you are extremely sensitive to interest rates and construction delays. A project can easily swing from projected profitability to projected loss over the lifetime of the project before it has even been finished being constructed. What kind of equity component would you require before you’d lend money to a project like that?
An unsubsidized nuclear power plant that is required to internalize its externalities (primarily pay for cleanup and self insure) (edit: typo) without government granted monopoly is not economically feasible. I have nothing against nuclear power, but I can’t say I’m pro-nuclear because it practice that means pro-nuclear-subsidies.
Yes, but what is the reason the payback period on nuclear power plants is so long? They cost so damn much to build.
Why do they cost so damn much to build? Regulations.
If the regulations were cut to a reasonable level, would they still cost too damn much to build? Maybe. I don’t know.
There are two very large potential externalities with nuclear power.
1) A disaster on the scale of Chernobyl, the kind that renders thousands of square miles dangerous to inhabit, is almost assuredly non-insurable. A company might say they are insuring against it, but the odds of actually paying to render all people whole seems highly unlikely.
2) Nuclear waste. We are still building reserves of this waste with no permanent storage or disposal. Taking out insurance against a leak event at a permanent storage facility 10,000 years in the future seems unlikely to be realistic, let alone building an annuity for active maintenance and monitoring in the kind of temporary storage we use now.
Objecting to the cost of government regulation without honestly dealing with those issues at the same time seems to not realistically deal with the problem.
Fukushima has been estimated to have cost hundreds of billions of dollars worth of direct and indirect damages. Who is going to write the insurance policy at that level, what are they going to charge for it, and what kind of safety measures are they going to demand to make sure they don’t have to pay out?
Sure, I acknowledge it is possible I’m wrong and a nuclear power plant could be economical if only the bureaucrats got out of the way, but I highly doubt it.
How is France managing it?
Their plants don’t seem especially dangerous, so I don’t think they are skimping on safety requirements.
Their energy costs also don’t seem out of line with the rest of Europe’s.
Even getting the land to build it can be a huge hassle since local governments and the EPA can and will step in and prevent construction on any flimsy justification.
Weren’t we just asking a little while ago why anyone would want to build nuclear reactors in the ocean? This. This is why we want to build nuclear reactors in the ocean.
And we have over half a century of experience that this can be done safely, affordably, and almost uncontroversially.
I agree that insurance per se doesn’t make any sense at that scale, but there are other ways to do these things.
For example, you could take the estimated costs of a meltdown or leak and then use the annual risk to calculate the approximate costs borne by people living near a nuclear plant. Then you can simply internalize them by having the plant’s owners pay out that sum either in taxes or directly to local residents. And it would also provide clear incentives for the owners to buy additional safety measures, since they would be reducing their operating costs.
As for nuclear waste, the danger is greatly overstated. Nuclear reprocessing significantly reduces the volume of waste produced and removes the longest lasting isotopes. The only reason the government supposedly needs to dig 10,000 year tombs for nuclear waste is because political pressure took the idea of actually reusing any of that spent fuel off the table. Even just building new reactors would solve most of it, since breeder reactors do all of their own reprocessing internally.
Fukushima has been estimated to have cost hundreds of billions of dollars worth of direct and indirect damages.
Fukushima has also been estimated to have cost about fifty billion dollars worth of direct and indirect damages. Fukushima is a bad example for this purpose, because it is terribly easy to conflate damage done by the reactor failure, damage done by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake at the same time, and quasi-damage done by irrational fear.
Chernobyl is a legitimate example of a hundred-gigabuck nuclear catastrophe, and maybe reaches the terabuck threshold. But the answer to that one is rather simple – build your nuclear reactors out of metal rather than coal, and enclose them in reinforced concrete rather than brick.
Électricité de France is 85% owned by the French government, and even nominally private companies in France are often “championed” (read heavily subsidized) by the government.
I accept your number for the sake of argument. Could even Munich Re write a $50B policy? And even if you find a consortium that could legitimately do so, what would it cost and what would be the quasi-regulatory requirements that they’d impose?
I don’t know how such a system would work. The only thing I can think of would require extensive government involvement. That government involvement might technically be in the form of risk modeling rather than regulatory mandates, but given the way the features of the model would fall through to the payments I’m not sure that’s a distinction with a difference.
@ James Picone
What would be a right-wing solution to climate change, given that you’ve excluded taxes, and therefore excluded Pigovian taxes?)
Not interesteed in -wing talk, but here are some places I’d start on the problem (as President Palin’s token-Democrat czar).
1. Remove any regulations (many iirc are at local levels, or policies of lenders, etc) that hamper an individual putting up a homemade solar panel on his own roof, or a homemade windmill in his own yard. (See ~1970s _The Mother Earth News_). Or other small or medium size projects, from small or medium size companies.
2. Cancel any subsidies to fossil fuel industries that are keeping their prices artificially low. Also, make them pay their own externalities.
3. Redirect those subsidies to clean energy development for use within its local area: no more big wind or solar farms* that require wide grid distribution.
Okay, 1 and 2 ought to please some Libertarians, and might give good enough results that 3 would be less needed.
Incidentally, Pigovian taxes are my preferred solution to the problem – tax CO2 emissions
I disagree. C02 emissions are too narrow a target, as is AGW. Imo going to cleaner power is worthwhile on its own, for many other obvious reasons. (And taxes are way too game-able, by those who have the most money and power to game with.)-
* Btw, why (and from whom) is current money going to these giant monolithic projects instead of smaller, more adaptable projects?
Nuclear plants need to borrow an enormous among of money up front to be built. No one wants to lend them that money at a rate that makes the whole plant economical unless they have some sort of guarantee that someone will be willing to buy power from them at a stable rate for the next 50 years.
If we said “buy from them at a profitable rate for the next many years”, this would apply to the big wind and solar farms I get quixotic against (as investments). Solar and wind energy price depends on high tech research that changes faster than anything can be built. For goodness sake let’s build some stuff to use asap, but don’t tie up a 50-year investment in something that can be out-competed by what’s built next year: that way breeds instant dinosaurs.
Better to invest in a lot of small s/w projects with different approaches, and hope that at least some of them will stay profitable long enough to support the others while they all adapt.
“No nuclear” is bipartisan over here in Australia.
The problem with geoengineering is that GW is already an uncontrolled geoengineering experiment. Doing another big scary geoengineering experiment to try and reverse the first one instead of just stopping the first one seems like a bad idea.
(Although a good chunk of the low scenarios in the IPCC’s projections require negative emissions ~2050, so we might have to do it anyway).
None of this is helping my perception that the only acceptable ‘solution’ to people of this persuasion is “Do nothing; hope it sorts itself out accidentally”.
Bipartisanship: Being stupid AND evil. 😉
Show an understanding of property rights and the tragedy of the commons. Know Coase.
Although I don’t really see why environmentalism would automatically lead to a suspicion of communism rather than just more regulatory statism of the kind we currently have now. Communist countries tend to be very environmentally unfriendly.
If you are a True Believer in Communism pointing out that historical “Communist” countries have been both repressive and environmentally disastrous will just tend to confirm your suspicion that such countries were insufficiently Communist and/or that such reports were mostly counter-revolutionary propaganda.
Communist countries are not relevant when discussing with communists.
My uncharitable interpretation to why there’s a lot more far-left environmentalists than there used to is that it’s pretty much the number one strike against free-market capitalism currently: Since Capitalism has failed to fail for all the reasons they have been giving in the past, they’re jumping onto the new one.
I might not be paying attention, but I haven’t heard much “nationalize/collectivize industry X” from the environmental movement. Instead, they seem to just want a lot more regulation.
At some point, the difference between “nationalize” and “regulate the bejeezus out of until only government blessed megacorps can survive” becomes academic. Power utilities are pretty close.
@Gbdub: Isn’t that Fascism, not Marxism?
Sure; the difference between Fascism and Marxism is whether or not you give the industrialists a chance to do your bidding before shooting them.
Le Maistre I’d agree, unfortunately “fascism” has been ruined as a descriptor since now people just think it means something between murdering Jews and generally being a particularly nasty conservative. “Socialism” is not quite there yet. Either way, environmentalism as it stands does seem to be drawn to authoritarian big government solutions of one form or another, which makes sense since the core belief of environmentalists is basically that humans are awful and will destroy the planet if left to their own devices.
And Nybbler, I must say I LOL’d.
This is exactly it!
I mean, it’s not exactly recent. It goes back to the New Left and the birth of the environmental (or, as it used to be called, “ecology” movement).
The Old Left had wanted as much economic growth as possible—”acceleration”—and was convinced that capitalism was just a very inefficient system that was bad at producing economic growth. Why have 40 brands of cereal by 10 different companies when we can have just one and build heavy industry? We’ll save and invest a lot now, and sure that means we’ll be a little poorer, but our children will have communism (which is the basic-income utopia where there is no effective scarcity). It was precisely the idea of socialism = two marshmallows, capitalism = one marshmallow.
But after it was pretty conclusively shown that capitalism was far better at producing growth than state socialism, the leftists didn’t become ardent champions of laissez faire. They just started to say economic growth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s “unsustainable”; it’s killing Mother Earth; we need to embrace “limits to growth”; we need to focus on happiness and equality, not material consumption.
There are still some of the former around, but the latter trend is dominant today. That’s the root of the concern about income inequality. Sure, there are arguments that income inequality decreases growth, but when it comes down to it I think many people would say that too much inequality is bad even if it does produce more growth. There’s the idea that we have all the wealth we really need; what we’ve got to do is shift it around for a more equal distribution.
That last sentence is very insightful. Americans in particular are so wealthy that many of them can’t imagine there isn’t enough for everybody to live almost as well if we all just give up a latte a day and take The Donald’s private jet away. There isn’t anything like that much (yet) but these aren’t people who excel at math.
Environmentalism is ultimately a luxury good. No one scrabbling to survive (or scrabbling to join the 21st century) is going to make major sacrifices for the important but diffuse and long-horizon benefits of “going green”.
So the solution is not to restrict wealth, but grow it, so that more people are wealthy enough to start caring about the environment.
How would your general suggestion have dealt with CFCs?
Relying on the market throwing up a good technological solution to an environmental problem sounds, to me, like an excellent strategy for running headlong into the worst possible consequences of the first problem the market doesn’t solve fast enough.
Agree with all of the above, but might further add: advocate specific, reasonable solutions, and show a sense of proportionality. For example, if you are concerned about global warming, say, “here are specific steps the following governments could take which would not be insanely costly, which we could reasonably expect these governments to cooperate on, and which would make a real difference.” The problem with a lot of warming alarmists in my mind is that they don’t seem to offer any realistic, implementable solutions, but seem more concerned with using global warming as a cudgel to stop various kinds of economic development they find icky, such as fracking. As with the gun control thing, one is reluctant to give an inch, because the feeling is that they’ll only use that as an opportunity to start pushing for a mile–be the mile confiscation of all guns or shutdown of all domestic petroleum production or whatever.
Also, and this is just me, but I personally found environmentalism a lot more sympathetic before it was so myopically focused on global warming to the exclusion of all else (whatever happened to “save the whales” and “save the rainforest”?), and also find global warming-related arguments more convincing when they are made about specific issues, like, “look at all the biodiversity we stand to lose,” etc. Most of the arguments I see about global warming today on Facebook and the like are pure signalling: look at these dumb red tribe members who hate science!
Related to proportionality, resist the temptation to engage in hyperbole, even if you are frustrated at the lack of progress: I recall all the rainforest hysteria back when I was a kid–you’d hear statistics like “1 football field worth of rainforest is lost forever every minute”–and yet somehow we still kind of have jungles (the old word for “rainforests”) all around the equator. This kind of “crying wolf” leads to suspicion about future doomsday claims.
But most of all, just make it as clear as possible what your actual goals are: preservation of biodiversity, clean water, clean air, etc. (I’m CERTAINLY sympathetic to any effort to clean up the air of North China…); otherwise, fair or not, there may be an impression that your real problem is economic development per se, or that your real goal is to use environmental issues as a pretext to achieve more globalism and state control over peoples’ lives.
I see it similarly. I share some environmentalist concerns, for example, I would not like the Amazon to be mined out and turned into a farmland, I think that pollution in many places in the world is terrible and should be reduced. I also think that one can usually do this through private means, maybe not always (but it is at least always necessary to see if the costs of state solutions do not exceed the benefits, a difficult thing to estimate, admittedly, but the standard way of doing it is forgetting about the costs altogether). I would be willing to give some money (less than what I give to GiveDirectly, but only say by half) to people who do something sensible to solve these problems without state intervention punishing private actors (the reason I do not give money to the Rainforest Foundation I mentioned here which seems to do things really well and its only dealing with the state seems to be suing it to give the property back to the rightful owners, is that they have a horrible response time to my questions – I waited 2 months before they replied to my first email and then have not received any answer to the other which I sent at least a month ago).
I heard someone say the other day (no idea who it was anymore, it was some time back) that we “should focus less on global warming and more on local pollution”. I completely subscribe to that sentiment and insofar as the environmentalists do that, they usually have my sympathies (usually, it depends on how they go about it and if they are civil or aggressive as they often are). But it seems to me that the crusade against climate change often diminishes the focus on the other issues.
“we “should focus less on global warming and more on local pollution”.”
And presumably whatever you did to improve air quality in Northern China, say, would also probably help with global warming insofar as Northern China contributes to it, but narrowing it down to a specific local issue makes it seem more practical and achievable, and the payoff more tangible–whether or not you agree humans are making a big impact on the climate, you can probably agree that Chinese people would like to breathe clean air.
The goals of many warming alarmists seem so grand and unrealistic that I think it discourages people from even starting.
Well, if you stop a chemical plant in China le their toxic waste flow into the river or install filters on its chimneys that catch poisonous but not to-global-warming-contributing chemicals, then you don’t do much about the global warming, but you still do a lot of good and a good which is, as you write, much more achievable and also measurable. It seems to me like an effective altruism question – focusing on local pollution is obviously a good, it is easier to measure its impact and easier to achieve it…so is the deworming initiative, giving money to poor individuals directly and basically all the GiveWell charities. On the other hand, fighting climate change seems to be something closer to giving money to political parties in the hope that their policies will make lives of people better (in fact, often it is exactly that).
With local pollution, there’s not really a collective action problem there that requires international coordination the way there is with global warming. Local Chinese pollution doesn’t hurt people outside of China the way Chinese CO2 does.
But don’t a lot of the things that cause local pollution also release CO2?
onyomi – there are cleaner and dirtier ways of burning carbon-containing fuels to generate power (whether electrical or motive). Generally, burning cleaner doesn’t reduce the amount of CO2 released, even if you reduce the NOx and SOx and O3 emitted.
In fact, one major “local” pollutant is soot (particulates, PM10). It’s unburnt carbon. The solution to that particular pollutant is to burn it – tune your powerplant so less soot escapes – which effectively *adds* to the CO2 emission. (Though not by a lot.)
Cleaner-burning engines are *generally* a little more efficient, but that’s mostly because all the research into engines in the past 30 years or more has had lower pollution as one aim.
My avatar smiles upon this comment thread.
One thing for any environmentalist to remain conscious of is that there are already gobs of regulations on the books. Oil drilling operations, chemical plant construction and operations, mining, logging, fishing, farming, whatever, all aspects of industry are already regulated. Pretty much all companies working in those spaces put a lot of effort into adhering to the regulations, because your company can be ruined pretty quickly if you’re caught violating them.
This is one reason why people working in any resource-oriented sector start twitching when we hear calls to, for example, “Regulate the oil industry!!!! Regulate fracking!!!!” It’s already regulated, it may actually already be regulated fairly intelligently, and if you aren’t aware of what exactly the rules are, then it isn’t helpful to try to suggest new ones. Finding good regulations is a complex process of compromise between the ideal of zero-environmental-impact and the reality that you can’t get logs without cutting down trees, etc., and usually involves both bureaucrats and industry insiders collaborating to reach something that actually works.
TLDR, a vague sense that there’s too much pollution can serve a function if it spurs you to learn more about the existing regulatory system, but works against you if all it does is motivate Facebook rants.
Personally, I have a hard time taking proposed action against global warming seriously when the people promoting make deals at huge lavish conferences, ferried there by private jet, and places like the Sierra Club continue to push unscientific boogeyman arguments against nuclear power.
I know this isn’t strictly logical, but the optics are terrible: the people claiming this is a huge threat don’t seem to be acting like it, although they are very quick to say I ought to change my lifestyle and/or give them additional political power.
And I’ll add that the biggest successful reductions in CO2 seem to be coming from places other than these grand agreements – Europe’s carbon market and offsets seems increasingly like a boondoggle, while the US has reduced emissions by switching a lot of coal production to newly available natural gas. Not sexy, but effective.
They’re saying you ought to pay a little more for carbon, not spend your life shivering in the dark.
“Pay a little more for carbon” only makes sense as a means to “encourage” the production of less carbon, ergo a change in lifestyle. Otherwise it’s just a regressive tax enriching governments and purveyors of often fraudulent “carbon offsets”. (And considering there are still people who die every year when they can’t afford heating oil, “shivering in the dark” is apparently a distinct possibility, at least on the margin)
The US government spokesman for the necessity of this is of course John Kerry, a man who owns at least 5 houses, a jet, and a yacht.
Of course it’s intended to change your (and everyone’s) lifestyle, *in subtle ways*. If someone was taking your car away then I could understand wanting to make Kerry give up his jet. But no one is taking your car away.
It is much easier to make my car less or un-economic for me to use as I wish than it is to make Kerry’s private jet less or un-economic for him to use as he wishes by playing at the margins. Unless you make it as *relatively* expensive for him to use his jet as it is for me to use my car, I don’t find this argument very sympathetic.
Jets are probably more affected by oil prices than cars, actually.
Yes, they are. But that doesn’t mean Kerry is more affected by the price of fuel than I am.
Since apparently I skipped too many steps in my post down below, I’ll expand here: If Kerry et al want me to REALLY BELIEVE they are committed to reducing global warming, first I want to see taxes on fueling private planes (i.e. planes not operated by common carriers) which are at least as significant to the passenger’s overall net worth/income as raising carbon taxes on auto fuel is to the average person in the United States. Work it like speeding tickets in Scandinavia, for all of me. When Kerry has to worry if he’ll be able to make the mortgage if he travels too much in his jet the way John Q. has to worry about what rising fuel taxes will do to his grocery money, then I’ll believe he believes it’s a crisis. Until then he can go and pound sand.
@Mark Whipple The last proposal targeting private jets (eliminating a fairly small tax break) was shot down by the right. No idea if Kerry/Obama would support your proposal, but it would certainly be DOA in a Republican congress.
I’ve never found the private jet argument very convincing, unless the people owning those jets are proposing to abolish rich people as well as reduce total carbon emissions. A few are, to be fair, but most aren’t.
The nuclear power argument is a lot toothier. We’re now at a point where you make an economic argument for wind/solar and not be completely insane, but nukes occupy a complementary niche, and I’m having a hard time thinking of arguments against filling it that don’t amount to superstition.
I did state that I understand it’s illogical. But only to a point – I understand there will always be rich people, but if said rich people are, on the one hand, asserting that this is the greatest extant threat to the planet, and on the other, are apparently unwilling to make even minor visible lifestyle sacrifices… (I mean seriously, Kerry alone could eliminate the carbon output of like a dozen average Americans and still live like a king)
It does make you question the sincerity of their motives when their proposal just so happens to increase their personal power / fame / wealth.
The thing is, John Kerry could destroy all his assets and kill himself today so that neither he nor his belongings ever contribute another molecule of additional CO2 to the atmosphere again, and that would not have any meaningful impact in AGW. To impact AGW requires global-level (or at least national-level) changes in behavior, and excepting something truly absurd, no luxury by any individual is going to change anything. Thus it makes perfect sense to me that Kerry would model AGW as something that he can impact only through political actions but not through any personal actions and thus would act accordingly: push hard for regulation to fight AGW in the political realm, while living his private life as if it can’t impact AGW – because it can’t.
This seems innocuous to me and doesn’t make me at all suspicious of his beliefs or commitment wrt AGW and fighting it. Anyone bringing up such an argument DOES make me suspicious, as I register it as a grasping-at-straws argument, one that seems to rely mostly on attaching negative affect to an individual whose side one doesn’t like.
There’s also a case to be made that Kerry should be aware that people WILL make this argument, and that many people WILL find such an argument convincing, and therefore if he REALLY wanted to fight AGW, he would prevent himself from being open to such attacks. At the object level, this has problems, such as the fact that, short of committing suicide, there will ALWAYS be room for people to criticize his CO2 contribution. At a more meta level, this seems more indicative of a failure in Kerry’s politicking than of his lack of conviction in his belief about AGW.
This reminds me of the commonly seen argument whenever people call for higher taxes – Why don’t you just send in more $$$ to the govt if you like taxes so much? The failure of the argument is the same, which is that even if someone like Warren Buffet gave his entire life savings to the IRS, it wouldn’t impact the govt assets enough to allow for any meaningful changes in the budget. To do that requires nation-level changes that impact the 100s of millions of people living in the US. And so someone who calls for raising taxes while not paying a penny more than the taxes they legally have to pay seems completely innocuous to me and not at all noteworthy.
You’re right in that Kerry himself, flagrant as his CO2 production is, is statistically insignificant.
OTOH, so is my car.
The rebuttal based on this observation is left as an exercise for the student.
This is why Kerry doesn’t call for banning you from owning your car or for shaming you for using your car.
One major problem among people who perceive AGW as a problem is that a lot of them DO try to shame individuals for their individual contributions to AGW. This is boneheadedly stupid, partly because, as discussed above, changing an individual’s behavior doesn’t meaningfully affect AGW, and partly because it predictably creates backlash. AFAIK, Kerry and other politicians of his ilk are not among them. And while they may hold some responsibility for not calling out those in their camp who DO use such terrible arguments, they are ultimately not responsible for those arguments.
I’ve perceived things as changing in the last few years, though, with the AGW-is-a-problem camp getting together behind the message that one’s own individual behaviors don’t matter, but rather the aggregate affect on behaviors of the people caused by large scale policy changes (e.g. carbon tax, cap & trade).
“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.. that’s not leadership.” –Barack Obama
If you google that phrase, you will find many right-wing sites making hay of it. Many of them would later contrast it with this:
The left may not note these things, but I assure you that the right does, and it does so quite regularly. And it definitely feeds the skepticism.
I’m pretty environmentally conscious and tend to put a sweater on rather than turn the heat up, even if I would be more comfortable turning the heat up. My slight added discomfort slightly decreases my work productivity, but not by enough for me to think it’s worth turning up the heat.
However, if I were President of the United States, I would consider it paramount that I be as productive as possible, and would as such prioritize my personal comfort over the marginal costs to the environment of turning the heat up a bit.
Part of the art of leadership is making seemingly stupid gestures and sacrifices in order to inspire your followers. When Alexander the Great and his army were dying of thirst in the Gedrosian desert, Alexander’s soldiers managed to scrounge up enough water to fill a helmet and offered it to him. He poured the water into the sand because he wanted to show that he was willing to endure the same hardships as his men, and it is said that this had as much effect on each soldier as if he had drunk the amount of water that Alexander threw away. How do you think they would have reacted if instead Alexander had said “I am in charge of this army, and anything which improves the probability that I can get us out of this dessert even slightly is of paramount importance, so, sure, give me the water”? The whole army would have collapsed on the spot!
No individual can, by themselves, directly impact AGW through their own personal consumption.
But collectively everyone has to somewhat lower their consumption (or make their consumption less carbon intensive, at least).
Is it really so ridiculous to expect a leader to model the behavior that the leader believes we all must eventually engage in? Is “lead by example” no longer a thing? Hell, Michelle Obama matches her nutrition advocacy with a mostly symbolic organic vegetable garden on the White House grounds. Why can’t Barack say “I can keep the heater at 69” or Kerry say “you know what, I only need 4 houses”.
the AGW-is-a-problem camp getting together behind the message that one’s own individual behaviors don’t matter, but rather the aggregate affect on behaviors of the people caused by large scale policy changes
Consequence-wise, we environmentalists do better by supporting green research (or even lobbying) than by spending our own time bicycling or shivering or whatever.
Specific to fuel use, if our using less gas brought the price down, under current conditions that would just make it cheaper to operate the bulldozers and chainsaws. Gas prices will go up and down eventually, but the trees stay down.
What else goes up and down is effect of political action. Elect Clinton/Gore … but soon it’s all to do over again.
The effective action I see is getting more green power up and running … and buying more forest acres and protecting them (or more land in general and making it profitable more cleanly). (Or of course supporting space research for more, yanno, space.)
I’d be interested to see a graph of delta in carbon emissions over time, with the X-axis segmented by party in office. Betcha the correlation is small, or driven entirely by one big outlier.
I’d do it myself but I’m having trouble finding US-specific emissions numbers.
If they are not driven almost entirely by the strength of the economy, I will be very much surprised.
How do you know this? Convincing people has value. How many marginal people can you convince to help save the environment by bicycling and reducing the apparent hypocrisy of your side by a marginal amount? That could be a larger consequence than anything else you can do.
Sacrificing for a cause yourself is Bayseian evidence that it is worth believing you when you tell other people to sacrifice.
“Sacrificing for a cause yourself is Bayseian evidence that it is worth believing you when you tell other people to sacrifice.”
I reject the assumption that any major sacrifice of lifestyle is necessary, by anyone. We don’t need to use less energy, just cleaner energy.
If personal sacrifice were useful for public relations (which I doubt), still there are useful sacrifices. Instead of spending hours bicyling, spend the time at a second job in a start-up green business, either earning to donate to forest preservation, or re-investing in the company’s green research. Or even volunteering at a community organic garden.
A very common general heuristic:
I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who claim it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.
I was actually about to reply to your comment above with that exact quote.
When they have the first Climate Change Prevention Videoconference, my confidence in their confidence will take a large step forward.
AGU15 has a attend-via-telepresence thing going on: FAQ entries about it. Does that count?
Politicians are not my central example of people saying we should do something about global warming.
I submit that you are atypical. The majority of people saying we need to do something seem to primarily influenced by politicians and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
It just seems a strange choice to me. Like evaluating libertarianism based on Rand Paul, instead of actual thinkers in the field.
(And, of course, the argument already gone into well above that the serious people here don’t think we all need to shiver in the dark; they think that with the appropriate economic incentives we’ll transition baseload power and come up with a clever solution to the transportation problem. I can’t transition baseload power by myself, and public transport is very much a sure-hope-your-city-got-it-right problem.)
I think I’ve figured out what’s going on here, might be something to do with the different forms of government in Australia vs the US.
Over here, politicians vote along party lines close to exclusively, certainly in the two major parties. Voting in the opposite direction is the kind of thing that gets you kicked out of the party, unless the particular vote has been declared a ‘conscience vote’ by the party (usually used for certain kinds of ‘moral issue’. Abortion, for example). My understanding of the US is that this is much less the case – politicians can vote ‘against their party’ and it happens fairly often.
The result is that politicians are much less likely to be individual advocates of particular policies over here. The ‘proper place’ to do that kind of thing is internally, trying to convince the rest of your party.
There’s a few good points here, but I see most people that replied have taken the opportunity to suggest being right wing as a solution to an unfair accusation. I feel like they wouldn’t propose becoming left wing in order to escape unfalsifiable claims of being a fascist. Would have been great hear more meta-level support or suggestions, but ok. :-/
I support centrist social policy and centre-left or sometimes centre economics (externalities, pro-small-business and centre-leaning cooperatives, very market orientated, non-statist), but it still hasn’t stopped people accusing me of this.
Citizensearth, I couldn’t help but notice the other day that you pooh-poohed the idea that the comment section of this site was saddled with a rightwing/libertarian/anti-liberal bias that always gets the last word, and frequently the only word.
I thought that was strange, since, whenever I see you try to engage (always politely, always striving to transcend blue and red thinking) or ask a question here, you invariably get warmed-over rightwing groupthink in response.
Fair comment. I guess its hard to really gauge something like that accurately. I’ve probably adjusted my perceptions a bit from this, I’ll admit. Thanks for your positive comments.
I find this frankly a bit insulting. Citizensearch asked a question based on the idea that he was worried about being perceived as some kind of pinko commie by right wing types. Right wing types chimed in to give their honest opinions about how he might avoid that, though I’m not sure Citizensearch didn’t end up mistaking that for us accusing him of being a pinko commie, when we were just responding from the perspective of a theoretical right winger who might accuse him of such.
And not all our advice boiled down to “just be more right wing.” Much of it was just about how one prioritizes and presents the same ideas.
I can understand a certain frustration: some of the responses did end up amounting to a criticism of the left and of environmentalism, but if the goal is to get more insight into why right wing types tend to be skeptical of environmentalism and thereby, perhaps, to avoid being lumped in with left wing environmentalists, then even that should have some instructive value.
But mostly: when someone asks for honest opinions about how a group thinks, don’t turn around and call it “warmed over group think” (which Citizensearch did not, but anon did)… even if that’s what it actually is! Recall that we were, to some extent, playing the part of theoretical right wing interlocutors, not engaging with him in an object-level debate about leftism and environmentalism.
I whole-heartedly agree with this.
There are apparently a lot of libertarians and conservatives here. And some of those…bad conservatives…really get on my nerves, too.
But you’re absolutely right that you can’t expect to ask what a group of conservatives think and not get “conservative groupthink” in response.
Behold the following theoretical conversation:
I don’t see people actually addressing the basic problem of responding to the Hypothetical Interlocutor. I mean, hell, apparently a carbon-tax isn’t a market based solution now, according to Jiro and Marc Whipple. When anything that “increases government power” (scare quotes intended) is a communist plot, you really aren’t at the level of debate of rational and effective means of responding to problems.
It strikes me that the real issue is that HI doesn’t actually want to have a conversation about climate change, or form an effective understanding of Citizensearth’s position, but rather is simply repeating their justification for not listening to whatever it is he has to say.
You can say I am weak-manning the HI, but what other way can model someone who call someone else a “watermelon”?
You could respond to the HI “actually I’d be very open to the idea of free market / non government solutions to reduce carbon output, I just don’t have any good ideas there. Do you?”
It’s entirely possible HI is just reflexively rejecting global warming and solutions to it as tribal signaling behavior. But let’s not pretend there aren’t folks on the left making the opposite statements for the same reason. Debating either may not be productive.
But honestly, I’d say that’s the only answer if there are rational opponents who think you are a pinko commie – make it clear you’d at least consider non government solutions to AGW, and acknowledge arguments that government action would be ineffective. Otherwise it can look like you’re pushing AGW as a means to higher taxes and more centralized government.
Honestly I think that’s why the “lack of personal sacrifice” arguments I brought up upthread gain traction. It’s like “gee, you seem awfully interested in passing big new laws, not so much about actually reducing footprints”. If you bring out a hammer for every fastener from a nail to a nut, I might start to think you just like swinging hammers.
“make it clear you’d at least consider non government solutions to AGW”
AGW, insofar as it exists, is an externality to the market. Given that, supporting “non government solutions” is, to a great approximation, a non-starter. Once you accept that it exists and needs resolution, some sort of government involvement is required.
So I think it would be disingenuous of me to say I would “consider non-governmental solutions” in the manner that you suggest. More to the point, why does it make me a communist if I think that some problems require government solutions?
“I don’t think all problems require government solutions, but I think this one does.” That’s a genuine answer and gets sort of at the same point, but I’m not sure whether HI is likely to accept that. My internal model says that they are committed to an “all regulation is bad” framework. Perhaps that is uncharitable.
@HeelBearCub – I never meant to imply you need to agree with non-government solutions, just that you’d need to take them seriously and not label someone a climate denier if they say they don’t like the proposals of the latest fancy climate policy shindig.
Here’s a market or semi-market policy to reduce carbon emissions: streamline regulations and don’t block development of natural gas resources and nuclear power. Don’t think that would work as well as the Paris agreement? Fine, but please “consider” the argument, and I won’t think you’re being tribal or a commie.
Let me see if I can offer an explanation of the “non-governmental solutions” argument:
It is proposed that the government intervene to deal with the inefficiency resulting from an externality. I believe that governments are very bad at doing things. Hence the intervention will have a deadweight cost of (say) a billion dollars and provide only a very partial solution to the externality problem. (If you think that claim is obviously implausible, consider the case of biofuels in the U.S., which has a deadweight cost of much more than a billion and appears to have had no effect at all in reducing CO2.) So the intervention is only justified if the inefficiency it deals with is so large that a partial reduction is worth more than a billion dollars.
Suppose, however, we had a way of reducing the externality that was costless or better than costless. The obvious candidate is something government is currently doing that increases the externality and that it (on other grounds) ought not to be doing.
For CO2 there are at least two candidates I can think of, probably more. Government land use regulation results in people commuting long distances because it is illegal to build very high rise residences near where they work (I’m thinking of San Francisco) and also illegal to build housing on most of the land near where they work (the figure I have seen is that eighty to ninety percent of the land of the Bay Area cannot legally be built on).
Government failure to price highway use as a private owner would (congestion pricing) results in traffic jams, which result in people driving slowly, which produces more CO2.
So even if the inefficiency from the externality does not justify government regulation, it provides a further argument for eliminating undesirable features of what the government is already doing. My first example is a non-governmental solution in a strong sense–housing built by the private market once the government stops preventing it. My second is non-governmental only if it goes all the way to private highways, but it’s a solution that involves altering what the government is currently doing to mimic the non-governmental approach.
An example that others have raised is regulation of nuclear reactors. I don’t know whether nuclear reactors would be worth building in a totally free market context. But I can easily imagine some people thinking that they would, thinking that it is regulation that makes them so expensive, hence that eliminating such regulation would be a non-governmental way of reducing CO2.
Well, everyone appears to be arguing at the object level, rather than talking about Citzensearth’s particular problem. Again, I don’t see how believing that government action is necessary to prevent AGW is makes one a “watermelon”
“Government land use regulation results in people commuting long distances because it is illegal to build very high rise residences near where they work”
Here, actually is a great example of what I am talking about. Even if one accepts this as a good solution to the problem, the actual enactment of it would require that the Federal Government prevent local governments from enacting land use restrictions. Or, to put it the way HI would “Federal Government takeover of a local government! I know you were a communist!”
The federal government leans on state and local governments all the time — sometimes by asking more or less politely, sometimes by threatening to remove highway funding or other subsidies, and sometimes through 14th Amendment or Commerce Clause mandates. I have heard people claim that this amounts to communism, but they’re usually the same people with bumper stickers on their pickup trucks inveighing against the New World Order.
Remember, the question isn’t “is HI right?” or “is it fair of HI to think this way?” it’s “given that some people think this way, how best to deal with them?”
One good way might be to show knowledge of, or at least express openness to non-governmental solutions of the sort David Friedman and others have described.
One probably wouldn’t even need to rule out or keep quiet about governmental solutions; simply knowing about or being open to non-governmental solutions in addition to the commonly known governmental solutions would already indicate more desire to bridge the gap than I think is common.
Yes, the Feds do lots of things all the time. How does that amount to a means of assuring HI that more federal government power is OK in this case?
“I have heard people claim that this amounts to communism, but they’re usually the same people with bumper stickers on their pickup trucks inveighing against the New World Order.”
And who do you think accuses people of being a “watermelon”?
I’m not trying to convert whatever stereotype you have in your head to environmentalism. I’m trying to convince you that proposals involving the federal government exerting influence on the state and local level don’t automatically provoke accusations of communism, except from people no one seriously tries to cater to anyway.
As I think this thread has demonstrated, you see suspicions along those lines from a lot more than just a few paranoid rurals.
Well, now you’re equivocating between government power and federal government power. It is quite possible for an increase in federal power vis-a-vis the states to be a decrease in total government power.
Sure, there is the question of the advocates of “states’ rights”, but that is at best tangential to the question of the size of government as a whole. Many of the 19th-century Southern advocates of “states’ rights” believed in the unlimited power of state governments to do whatever they pleased. (They believed that the states inherited this power from the British Parliament, which was held in common law according to e.g. Blackstone, to have unlimited power.) It was very useful to believe this, if you were going to defend slavery. But surely such a person does not, in any objective sense, believe in “small government”.
If the federal government stops local governments from enacting zoning restrictions, that’s not “big government”. That’s limiting the total size of government by setting one part of it against another. Which is the purpose of separation of powers, federalism, and checks and balances.
Are you saying that you think I am a secret communist? Or that Citizensearth is? Or are you saying that other people in this thread think we are secret communists?
I didn’t think anyone in this thread was actually espousing the line that if I care about the environment it’s really only because I want the government to have more power. If they are, I’ve missed it.
For what it’s worth, I tend to think that Nimby-ism is big problem (and actually is another way in which externalities aren’t paid for!) I’m sympathetic to the argument that land-use restrictions cause sprawl and a host of bad things. So I am actually not objecting to “zoning reform” as a part of the package of things that we do to deal with AGW (and a whole host of other sprawl related issues). However, I imagine that a requirement of more density, imposed by the feds, wouldn’t be supported by those arguing that relaxed zoning?
As another example, in NC (and other coastal areas) people are “very concerned” about the “eyesore” that would be created by a windfarm as far as 20 miles from shore, and therefore have imposed a minimum 20 mile distance, IIRC.
Do you actually follow US politics? Are you from the US? Because this is the kind of statement that people on the left usually say in the US.
“given that some people think this way, how best to deal with them?”
That is a good point. Modifying my earlier statement to include something of what Gbdub was suggesting:
“I don’t think all problems require government solutions, but I think this one does, but I am open to other ideas on how to deal with the problem, as long as they are effective, regardless of whether they involve increasing government power or not.”
I think other people in this thread distrust the environmentalist movement’s explicit goals, partly out of suspicions that they’re motivated more by redistributionist sentiments or an aesthetic distaste for industrial capitalism than by any particular regard for conservation per se. I see “watermelon” as a shorthand for this, though I expect it’s only literally true (i.e. points to secret Communism) for a small fraction of environmentalists.
Personally, I think that’s a little off the mark but not completely bogus. Most of the hardcore environmentalists I know seem to be motivated mainly by pastoralism, a sense that we’d be better off aiming to all live in places like the Shire or a tribal village: they do have redistributionist goals and often a lot of visceral hate for capitalism, but they’re downstream of that preference, not upstream. (The extreme of this line of thinking isn’t Communism, it’s anarcho-primitivism.) Less serious environmentalists might have all sorts of motivations, but they’re not the ones setting the agenda.
I’m in favor of conservation and many other green goals, but I think pastoralism is an extremely bad idea.
Indeed. I don’t think environmentalists are “watermelons”, but I do think that for a large number of them, making everyone shiver in the dark is the end, not the means to the end.
They may champion various impractical forms of alternative power, but if someone manages to figure out how to make such power practical, they find a problem with it.
The only acceptable solutions to these environmentalists involve everyone not driving, living in tiny apartments in multifamily buildings, turning the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter, eating vegetarian, etc.
Yes, I am from the U.S. and follow American politics.
One guy who writes a lot about that very topic is Timothy Sandefur, who is a libertarian and works at the conservative/libertarianish Pacific Legal Foundation—a public interest law firm that quite often sues local governments in federal courts alleging that the local policies are unconstitutional. He’s written a very good book which, among other things, argues against the “unlimited power of the states” interpretation of the Constitution (that is, even before the 14th Amendment).
I myself work (temporarily) at the Institute for Justice, which is a libertarian public interest law firm that does much the same thing. For example, challenging the constitutionality of licenses on African hair-braiders as a violation of the Due Process Clause.
Now, it’s true that there are two camps on the “right” in regard to the interpretation of the Constitution.
One camp, represented by Robert Bork, worships democracy and the unlimited tyranny of the majority. They believe the 9th Amendment is meaningless, that the 14th Amendment doesn’t stop the state governments from doing anything they please, and that judges should practice “judicial restraint” and not actually overturn anything the government does.
The other camp believes that the government exists for a specific reason—to protect individual rights—and that anything outside of this narrow scope is unconstitutional. At least since the 14th Amendment, the federal courts also have the power to strike down violations of liberty by state governments.
The latter group was allegedly “discredited” at the end of the hideous “Lochner era”: the era where the Supreme Court struck down the minimum wage at the state and federal level, child labor laws, maximum-hours laws, the unequal application of local ordinances against Chinese laundries, and confirmed the doctrine of birthright citizenship. This era was ended by the “switch in time that saved nine”: when the Supreme Court stopped striking down every element of the New Deal, possibly in order to avoid Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme.
At that point, the Supreme Court got rid of the doctrine of “substantive due process” and—after approving Japanese internment—gradually brought it back in a twisted form where some rights really count and require “strict scrutiny” to be restricted, while economic rights don’t and require only a “rational basis”.
But—now they’re (we’re) back: the faction in favor of a government of “few and defined powers”. The usual watchword is “judicial engagement”, which prominent conservative George Will has supported very openly.
Oh, and by the way, Sandefur and most of the other prominent members of this camp’s view of the Obergefell decision ruling same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional: correct outcome; reasoning could be better.
Ironically, now a lot of “progressives” are in favor of “judicial restraint” again: the evil Citizens United decision and all that.
“living in tiny apartments in multifamily buildings, turning the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter, eating vegetarian, etc.”
There is this other weird element to environmentalism which has not much to do with socialism other than that they both seem to glom onto the same receptors as religion would. That is, there is a weirdly religious penitential tinge to many environmentalists’ attitudes by which the sacrifices one must make to atone for the sin of despoiling the earth become a kind of end in themselves.
“living in tiny apartments in multifamily buildings, turning the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter, eating vegetarian, etc.”
There seeks to be something of a “heads I win, tails you lose” argument here. People are complaining both that “environmentalists”, writ-large, are not doing these things, and also that they are doing these things (and expect everyone else to.)
This strikes me a little like the “can I be an EA if I don’t put myself in penury?” question, but in reverse, and more absurd, as theor is no requirement for environmentalists to be as effective as possible, only effective enough.
I drive a 45 MPG car and fuel with locally sourced waste vegatable oil biodiesel. But that is not enough, I am guessing, for those who would find my lack of eschewing motor transport in general to expose me to charges of hypocrisy.
I believe you are misunderstanding the objection.
The argument is something like: “Environmentalists preach that man must renounce the limitless pursuit of material wealth in order to avert humanity from destruction; everyone is obligated to sacrifice. But these specific environmentalists do not sacrifice. Therefore, they are hypocrites.”
Obviously, if they either a) actually did sacrifice as much as they expect everyone else to—and maybe this applies in your case—or b) said the environment will be fine even if Westerners keep their lavish lifestyles as technology will solve everything, then they would not be hypocrites.
Except those who endorse the latter viewpoint are usually not called environmentalists.
The environmentalists flying around in private jets (or buying wasteful local and “organic” food) are the ones who are alleged to be hypocrites.
Imagine that a group shifted to your solution 1.
Now they’re not hypocrites, they’re religious zealots who want us all to shiver in the dark as penance for our crimes against Mother Earth.
Heads I win, tails you lose.
I see it a little differently. I didn’t actually ask for object-level opinion on why right wing policies are better than left. But that’s mostly what I got. It was basically seen as a queue to advocate policy and the issue of massive hyperbole was ignored. The right could easily talk about times they had been unfairly labelled, and I’d be very interested. But almost the entire subthread is object with no meta. Why?
Imagine you were being called a fascist (I don’t know your exact views I assume you’re not), and came to SSC to compain that despite having centre-right or centre views that you were being unfairly labelled as fascist. It would probably be poor taste for others to respond only with “you can avoid this by adopting left wing policies”. Wouldn’t you hope they could see the problem on a meta level?
Surely the spirit of SSC is that people should adopt and change views based on reason and thought rather than social pressure! Isn’t the number one enemy on SSC blind loyalty to the red/blue tribe and the abandonment of reason? I was hoping for more expression of that spirit. I didn’t actually ask what the correct policy was, so I don’t think all this was invited at all.
@ James Picone:
If someone is wrong, he’s wrong. Obviously, anti-environmentalists think that environmentalist claims are wrong on the object level.
The question is what flavor of wrong they want to be. Of course anyone who disagrees is going to accuse him of something. Otherwise there would be no disagreement.
I suppose I respect zealous fanatics more than I respect hypocrites. They put their money where their mouth is. They may be more objectively harmful, but at least they’re worthy opponents.
To take another example: a fanatic who murders abortionists vs. the hypocritical suburban mom who supports banning abortion but gets one herself when she gets knocked up in a one-night stand. They’re both wrong, but the former is acting as he should if his object-level beliefs are true.
But people did give advice in regard to prioritizing issues, making it clear that you understand economics and are not against progress, etc.
There’s only so much you can say about that, though. Once that was out of the way, people naturally moved on to arguing about what to prioritize or what should actually be done, etc.
@David Friedman I support congestion pricing and I get where you’re coming from about it being closer to the private solution, but realistically, if you go to any right wing space and advocate for it, you’re going to get called a big-government commie. Same for rezoning, though less so.
An aside – isn’t a gasoline tax similar in effect to road use fees? I understand it’s not an ideal dynamic-pricing solution that properly measures road depreciation etc, but in your opinion is it better than nothing? It certainly seems much cheaper to administer.
> But people did give advice in regard to prioritizing issues, making it clear that you understand economics and are not against progress, etc.
Advice that assumes its my views that are the problem (as if I haven’t studied market economics). I’ll be sure to keep that in mind the next time they winge about being labelling a mysogynist (or however you spell it) or racist by some SJW brigade. This majority of this subthread is bitterly disappointing.
What do you expect? Obviously they think your views are wrong!
If your desire is to come off as sharing their values but disagreeing on the facts, you have to signal that you really do share their values. If you disagree on their values—if you would like socialism even if it weren’t necessary to stop global warming—well, that is what it means to be green on the outside and red on the inside.
You have to say: I love capitalism, I support capitalism all the way, and I think private property should be applied to every situation we can apply it to. But it doesn’t work here, to my great sorrow. Here are the facts that show why. That’s pretty much what it requires.
Similarly, if a right-winger doesn’t wish to be seen as a misogynist, he must show that he is agrees with feminists that women are morally equal to men, that they deserve to be happy just as much as men, that he is not biased against women, but that he thinks e.g. that family law is biased against men in a way that harms women, too (or at least does not help them).
Sorry. I saw a climate change thread and I got all excited. I’ll try not to next time.
Sorry for my part in derailing this.
@James Picone and Chalid
Thanks. I mostly was thinking of others, but I appreciate it.
So basically I have to be a raging capitalist and think Scandanavia = Stalin before I can find common ground enough to engage with these guys, or even get them to acknowledge sometimes centrists and leftys get unfairly labelled too. Doesn’t sound very meta. Sounds 100% object-level trench-warfare politics, and I don’t like that because its ruining the western world.
“However, I imagine that a requirement of more density, imposed by the feds, wouldn’t be supported by those arguing that relaxed zoning?”
Not a requirement of more density–that again would be government intervention. The abolition of the requirements that impose low density.
And one doesn’t have to argue for the federal government imposing such on the states, although one could. A nongovernmental approach might be to argue that the state or the city ought to abolish restrictions that resulted in lots more commuting.
If you don’t want to be suspected of left wing habits of thought, you might not want to interpret “government should let people do X” as “government should make people do X.”
I really don’t think there’s any magic wand you can wave here. There’s a strain of right/libertarian thought that sees environmentalism as a communist plot, period. Any other indication of not being a communist is irrelevant; caring about environmental issues is, to that particular group, roughly equivalent to expounding on how great Marx is.
Just take it as an indication that they’re not worth dealing with.
(I don’t, of course, mean to imply that it’s a substantial chunk of the left, that anyone here is of that persuasion, that this is behind a majority of climate denial, etc.. Also I’m really terrible at following my own advice here.)
You have a good point thanks!
“substantial chunk of the left” should be “substantial chunk of the right” of course. Something something Freudian.
Sorry for the nitpick, but if you were accused of being fascist, I would again suggest showing that you prefer market solutions to state organized (if perhaps through nominally private companies) solutions 🙂
Being in favor of a carbon tax rather than funding for recyclable research, regulation of who does what that produces CO2, would be one sign. Trying to reduce CO2 with the minimal control over what people do.
As opposed to “smart urban planning” and similar dirigiste approaches.
Sometimes the political opposition on the right is actually greater against market-based solutions like a carbon tax as opposed to green-orientated subsidies or programs (which I agree are suboptimal in vast majority of situations). I’m in at least partial agreement though.
I think it’s just the political opposition of consumers. They’re not going to like things that increase gas prices, no matter what political part they’re affiliated with. And they probably won’t understand what a revenue-neutral carbon tax is. They’ll just see gas prices go up.
Taxes are not market based solutions.
Say I implement a carbon tax of 5% while reducing the overall tax burden by the same amount I expect to collect from that tax. It is market neutral at least. The tax does not mean additional revenue to the state, it is only meant as something that internalizes the costs from a negative externality of pollution. Of course, if it is chosen too high, that is bad, if it is chosen too low, well, then it is better than nothing but it is probably hard to estimate the right amount especially since various lobbies will inevitably want to push it one way or another. But it is definitely more market-oriented than simply spending more tax money on something. Also, if I am convinced that the negative externality is sufficiently big, I can maybe quite safely estimate it from below and do better than nothing, provided that my estimate of the size of the externality is correct (of course, it is not how the sate works, but someone could support the tax under those conditions and it would be quite consistent with at least non-socialist attitude).
Subsidies, positive or negative, are not market-based solutions. Gonna have to go with Jiro on this one.
Doesn’t mean they can’t be effective policy tools, but they’re not market-based solutions. Although something like a government-sponsored X-Prize would be a tougher call.
Then what market based solutions are there to the problem of externalities? Especially non-local externalities which are diffuse and difficult to measure?
If you can’t price something, you can’t create a true market-based solution. Probably as close as you’ll get to one is a credit trading scheme, but that can only work if you assign a price to the externality.
Arguably a credit system is a tax which is a negative subsidy, but the difference is if you can trade them. The reason plain ol’ subsidies aren’t market-based solutions is that there’s no market involved in the first place.
The market solution to externalities is to privatize them.
If that is unfeasible, there is no market solution, and one has to resort to non-market solutions like taxing and regulating.
Isn’t this just saying that a tax is not a solely market based solution?
Taxes have a marginal effect on the behavior of the market assuming they are near or over the difference from the substitution price. Only in the case where they don’t approach the difference in substitution price would they not have an effect on the market.
Of course taxes have an effect on the market. But they are not of the market. They are government force imposed on the market (whether beneficial or not).
Complete all-round price controls, as existed in the Soviet Union (they did have money), in some way or other involve a market. But they are not “market solutions”.
@Tibor – the problem is that no one trusts the promise of “revenue neutral”.
Externalities are one of the essential problems of markets, and there are not easy solutions. Forcing the market to somehow ingest the cost of the externality is in no way comparable to a price control.
But this is why Republicans should be particularly inclined to favor carbon taxes. In the very short term, it’s trivial to show revenue-neutrality, because you have real numbers for how much income tax is being paid and how much fossil fuels are being burned and it’s ten minutes with a spreadsheet to show that reducing income taxes by X% and adding a $Y/ton carbon tax will exactly offset in the next tax year.
In the long run, no, it’s not revenue-neutral – it’s revenue-negative, at least normalized to GDP, because even without carbon taxes people keep finding more efficient ways to use fossil fuels and more broadly economical substitutes for fossil fuels. Less fossil fuels being burned means less taxes being paid. So you not only get less global warming, but you get to “starve the beast” at the same time. Or at least make the Damn Dirty Democrats waste political capital fighting for obvious, explicit tax increases if they want to keep their beloved Big Government.
Republicans should love this, right? Well, unless they are Republicans who want big government but don’t want to pay for it, but that would be ideologically inconsistent so there shouldn’t be any Republicans like that.
@Gbdub: Sure, but in principle it is possible, so it is possible to have that position. In the same way, I am be for completely free immigration combined with zero state welfare. Since that is not politically feasible probably anywhere at the moment, I would in practice support some kind of a compromise if I had a say in it but if someone asked me what I would really prefer to have, then it would be this. In a similar way you could have an environmentalist that says “well, I support a 5% carbon tax on corporations while reducing the corporate income tax by 5%”.
@all: I guess you are right, it is not a market solution, but it is not an anti-market solution either. It is “market neutral”, the fact that one would prefer that over a socialist solution is a good evidence that that person is not a socialist.
Externalities are not a problem of markets, per se.
Externalities exist when government intervention, high transaction costs, or high enforcement costs make it impossible to extend property rights and therefore markets to all areas of the economy.
Now, every real-life market has some externalities. Baking bread produces a positive externality in the form of the pleasant smell. But the nature of the situation makes it impossible to charge people for the right to smell it. This means slightly less bread is produced than would be optimal.
But that is insignificant, and we can ignore it. We should ignore it.
If the externalities cannot (reasonably) be ignored, then the government must step in and supplement the market with non-market interventions.
Now it’s entirely possible that, with global warming for example, we can just ignore the externality. Maybe on net it’s an improvement. Or maybe the cost of geo-engineering will be so low that a single philanthropist will be able to fix it. Or maybe not.
John Schilling argues that Republicans ought to love revenue neutral carbon taxes. That assumes that they will really be revenue neutral, which depends on your theory of what determines the equilibrium level of taxes. The result in practice could easily be that you put in a carbon tax, reduce another tax, and in a few years raise the other tax–because whatever pressures were holding the other tax at its previous level have now eased, letting it come back up.
If the point is not obvious, consider how many taxes have been imposed as a temporary measure and in practice become permanent.
For an older example of the problem, consider Adam Smith’s discussion of sinking funds. The government borrows some money and institutes a tax calculated to pay off the debt in a fixed length of time and then end. After a while it wants some more money, so it borrows some more, converting the sinking fund to a permanent fund and the temporary tax to a permanent tax, now sufficient to pay only the interest on the increased debt.
“Tax” by itself means “tax in addition to what we have”.
A tax accompanied by a reduction in other taxes could be market neutral. Of course it is also impossible to implement.
… and in a few years raise the other tax–because whatever pressures were holding the other tax at its previous level have now eased, letting it come back up
There’s generally no such thing as “letting” a tax come “back up”, someone has to make it go up. That someone has to be a U.S. Congressman, standing in front of the CSPAN cameras, saying “I propose a bill to raise this tax”.
And in the stereotypical Republican world view, the pressure that prevents this comes from Republicans, as every Democrat secretly wants to raise taxes. So if the argument is that “pressures [will] have eased…”, that sounds like Republicans arguing that a Republican-backed carbon tax would make Republicans less diligent in applying “pressure” to prevent increases in, say, the income tax. That seems unlikely, or rather, it seems possible but only in ways that aren’t flattering to Republicans.
Also, pet peeve, I rarely find anything useful or insightful in any argument or explanation that uses the term “pressure” in a political context without explanation. Describe the actual mechanism by which the relevant political change is caused or prevented, please.
One reason to be wary of the “externalities” argument is that most of the environmentalists I’ve seen advocating a carbon tax to not seem to want to set it equal to their best estimate of the external cost, but rather to whatever level they believe will achieve the reduction in emissions that they’ve decided in advance is the right amount. The prominence of that plucked-from-the-air 2C target in the Paris talks is a good example of the sort of thinking at work.
Another reason to be wary of the externalities argument in the AGW context is that we are talking about net costs summed over a century or more. Nobody knows or can know the magnitude. In my view we don’t even know the sign, although lots of people are sure they do. So the actual tax will reflect not real costs, not even the best possible estimate of real costs, but the politics of those who benefit or lose by it.
I again offer the example of biofuels. Environmentalists eventually realized that they don’t actually reduce CO2. But we still have the mandate, are still doing our bit to increase world hunger by pushing up the price of corn–because that raises farm incomes.
Once you abandon the philosopher king model of government, solving externality problems becomes a much harder problem.
Australia implemented a carbon pricing mechanism and simultaneously trebled the tax-free threshold (The lowest income tax bracket), which IIRC resulted in a net reduction in government income. (It was later repealed after the right-wing party got into power. The tax-free threshold increased stayed, of course).
If you can’t believe that your government could actually implement a revenue-neutral carbon price, maybe get a better government?
> Taxes are not market based solutions.
A tax on an externality is, because it removes a public/external subsidy. If someone whizzes in the town well why should everyone else pick up the bill for the cleanup?
The “market solution” is not to let someone piss and tax everyone else to clean it up. The market solution is to privatize the park he pisses in and make them hire security guards or janitors if they want to keep it a nice place.
Once we’re in the realm of having the government do something, we’re outside of the realm of market solutions. And once we’re in that realm, sure we can say it’s more fair to tax that one pisser than tax everyone else. But the market solution is not to tax at all.
@James: Where do they sell better governments? I want one for Christmas.
Seriously though, “get a better government” is something everyone would do if it was a(n easy) possibility. The problem is that a) people disagree on what is better and (even more importantly) b) the government has intrinsic mechanisms that make it turn out some way – so the support of more ecological production of energy turns into subsidies of “biofuel”, which is basically corporate welfare (and on net anti-ecological as well). Note that this is an overall pattern, even in the more more left-wing EU, you biodiesel is subsidized, so it is not a “twist of evil Republicans” or something like that.
In the same way, once introduced, taxes tend to stay, no matter how “temporary” they were supposed to be at first. The most commonly cited example (perhaps it is already mentioned in this thread somewhere) is the weird US tax for US citizens living abroad in countries with lower taxes (it is always reminds me of that Monty Python sketch, where the ‘serious looking gentleman’ proposes to boost the national economy by taxing all foreigners living abroad 🙂 ). Originally a “temporary measure” to help the war effort during WW2. Unless people in Washington somehow missed that the war ended some 70 years ago, they just kept it for convenience – more money to redistribute means more money to redistribute among your electorate. For the US citizens who live in Switzerland, this must be quite a pain in the back…then again, one can always renounce citizenship, I guess, but that is not practical if you intend to come back to the US, also I don’t know if you can renounce a citizenship if that would make you a citizen of no country and getting Swiss citizenship takes at least 10 years. Maybe one workaround would be the new Estonian e-citizenship (although I am not sure what it entails exactly), but I digress.
Of course, this is not a strict rule in the way gravity is and it is possible for it to happen otherwise – such as with your Australia example. But sometimes a coin toss ends up heads 10 times in a row (if it does not in a sufficient number of tosses, then your coin is actually more likely to biased) but in any particular 10 tosses, the probability of that happening is 1/1024 (I suppose a probability of a long-term income negative/neutral carbon tax is slightly better than this, but not by much, it also depends a lot on the country).
You might disagree, that the government intrinsically works this way, but if you accept it as a premise, then you can understand that the people who do believe that are hesitant about supporting yet more taxes (even if in principle they would be for a carbon tax accompanied by a equal reduction of the overall tax burden – and if it were somehow possible to guarantee that the taxes don’t increase again with the next government – it is politically easier to increase a tax than to introduce a new one). Also, the actual right-wing parties do not even always limit the state expense or tax income. Bush was in fact more socialist than Clinton in this respect. Things like this naturally make people suspicious about any new tax.
If you are talking about changing the government system as opposed to finally electing “the right people”, ok, that might help, but then it is like if I told you “if you’re so concerned about clean energy, get cold fusion!”
That’s partly loss-aversion and partly that taxes are difficult to raise thanks to the political system we use. Taking people’s money is hard, but it’s relatively easy to print money and spend it on a subsidy for green energy (and inadvertently devalue the money of those people you were about to tax).
More to the point, carbon taxes or energy taxes often don’t reduce carbon emissions at all. Part of the reason the steel industry in the UK is going under is because energy prices are so high (partly due to green taxes); instead, steel is getting made in China where there’s less regulation. The result is that global emissions are actually higher than if there had been no tax at all.
That’s a problem with uncoordinated action, not the carbon tax in and of itself.
Which, admittedly, is a hard problem to solve. But that does not make it unsolvable.
@HeelBearCub: How would you propose to force China to care about stuff like how much emissions they produce?
You might be successful at convincing them that it might be better if people did not have to wear face masks to protect themselves against the smog. But unless you are going to threat them with the use of force against them (which would be worse than any, including the most catastrophic global warming predictions) or embargoing them (which would again require a coordinated action, otherwise you just make yourself a lot worse off and China a bit worse off but probably not enough to matter), they will simply not care. You might force Bangladesh, but not country of 1 billion where the security of the power of the ruling elite depends quite a lot on the economy of the country continuously improving.
Here’s a proposal, regardless of whether global warming is going to be catastrophic, that I would take: In exchange for a moderate sized carbon tax, eliminate capital taxes. Any progressive who supported this would show me that they care enough about the environment to make a serious concession and that they are definitely not a left wing extremist.
Also, no one has mentioned this but progressives are very opposed to natural gas even though it is probably the main reason the US has been reducing it’s CO2 rate. Fewer roadblocks to it’s development would be a free market path to stopping global warming.
If you eliminate capital gains and don’t eliminate pass-though corporations then you will open up a hole in the income tax system that will swallow the whole.
After you’ve studied the tax code for a while it becomes very clear that it is easy to propose reforms and very difficult to make them work as intended.
Pass-through taxation just imputes the income to the ultimate receiver. Whether it passes through a pass-through entity is entirely irrelevant as to whether a capital gain is taxed or not, and you can’t use a pass-through entity to convert ordinary income into a capital gain in any way that you couldn’t do without a pass-through entity. Can you elaborate? I have a feeling I missed a step there.
That being said, I could not agree with your last sentence more. Anybody who says they can do something by changing the tax code and implying that the solution is simple/obvious/straightforward is either lying or does not have any significant understanding of the tax code. (I do not count Wrong Species’ assertion that they would view the described compromise as an indication of sincerity as such a claim: they never said it would be simple/obvious/straightforward.)
I withdraw the claim, I thought there was something where you could get subchapter-s distributions as non-qualified dividends, but I can’t find anything and I vividly remember now why I hated tax law.
Not a problem. It’s bloody confusing stuff.
Cap-and-trade schemes often have some soft of tax offset. Back when cap-and-trade wasn’t obviously dead in the US, Obama talked about an associated tax credit, for example. Usually it’s one that tries to counteract the regressivity of a carbon tax but I’m very confident that that’s the sort of thing that could have been negotiated on, had the carbon tax itself not been a non-starter.
Personally, I’d prefer not to not completely screw the working/middle class here and would try to negotiate a different tax to cut. But if a highly regressive tax like capital gains was all I could get then I’d take that deal.
There is no stupider tax than the capital gains tax, except maybe the corporate tax.
It’s a deliberate tax on saving and investment. Deliberately increasing time preference. Deliberately moving from two marshmallows to one marshmallow.
The only thing that should be taxed (to the extent that the taxes are necessary to fund the government), leaving aside the argument for Pigovian taxes, is consumption. Because it does the exact opposite as the capital gains tax: it encourages people to decrease time preference and focus more on the future.
If you think it’s unfair to the poor, combine it with a reimbusement, either universal or income-scaled. Something like the FairTax.
But really, the objection to “regressive” taxation is somewhat silly. Why should the cost of the government stay the same or increase as your income goes up? Literally nothing else works that way. That’s why you want to make more money: so the same car is a smaller percentage of your income.
Still, if you want to soak the rich, soak the rich. But don’t soak them for saving their money and investing it in things the rest of us can benefit from. Soak them for spending their money selfishly on caviar and sports cars. (I guess it’s the “logic” that the economy grows by consuming more, not by producing more.)
If a rich man builds a factory and invests the all profits in building two more factories, what special benefit does he get? None! Insofar as it is saved and invested, the wealth of the rich has only a general benefit. The special benefit comes only insofar as it is withdrawn and consumed.
And the corporate tax is absurd for the exact reason that “corporations aren’t people”. They do two things with their money: a) reinvest it in productive enterprises and b) pay out dividends. As for reinvestment, why would you tax that?! Don’t you want them to do that? We tax cigarettes because we don’t want people to smoke! As for dividends, again, if you want to soak the rich then tax their consumption.
Eliezer Yudkowsky agrees:
He’s exactly right.
Ebeneezer Scrooge was a great practitioner of effective altruism. Now, I’m not in favor of altruism. I think he’s got the right to enjoy his wealth to a normal extent.
But a man who labors day and night to increase his fortune, while endeavoring to spend only the tiniest possible fraction of it—the world could not ask for a more devoted altruist. Such a person produces more value than ten Mother Teresas.
… wow, that sure went way way outside the scope of the original post.
Yes if I could wave my magic policy wand and replace all income and capital taxes with a consumption tax that would be great. And as long as I’m dreaming, I’d like a pony too. As a practical matter, a shortfall in the (United States) government’s revenue is going to be met with additional income tax. Penalizing work! Penalizing investment in human capital! et cetera, just take all the arguments against capital taxes and do the appropriate mapping. And widening the (already wide) gap between income and capital gains taxes leads to evasion and inefficient behavior.
(To perhaps note the obvious, the obstacle to a shift toward consumption tax is old people who have been taxed all their lives on their income and would have the buying power of their savings rescued by the consumption tax.)
As for you not liking the whole concept of progressive taxation – feel free to look up the standard answers and post a refutation if you like.
When you’re in a hole, stop digging. Natural gas is better than coal, but natural gas is still worse than not-a-fossil-fuel.
This is a scenario where I’m happy to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
I wouldn’t say that you’re a socialist but this is exactly what I’m talking about. What your comment says to me is that you care more about environmentalism as a part of your ideology than using all available tools to prevent global warming, which if it was as bad as many think it is would be the most important goal right now.
Amusingly enough, I would say I probably am a socialist as the term is understood in the US. In the last few elections I have first-preference’d the Greens, am in favour of universal healthcare schemes such as Australia’s medicare and would like it expanded to dental treatment, quite like our interest-free-government-provided-student-‘loan’ tertiary-education scheme, I think the Australian welfare system is pretty good but needs defending against a bunch of the changes the right-wing party here wants, etc..
I don’t see where thinking natural gas isn’t a great solution is ideological, though. I don’t think it should be banned, I just think it’s a bad idea. It emits less than coal. Sure, lovely, great. Even reduces particulate emissions, great. But given that we do eventually need to get emissions to essentially zero, maybe we shouldn’t be setting up infrastructure for something we’re going to have to abandon in a couple of decades anyway.
The problem is that what you call “digging” is what the rest of us call “living”. If we’re not burning coal or oil or wood or natural gas (CO2), splitting the atom (waste, risk of disaster) or damming rivers (certainly the most environmentally damaging on all but a global scale), we’re shivering in the dark.
Wind is insufficient (and besides kills birds, transmission lines interfere with migration, whatever), so is solar photovoltaic (also environmentally damaging to manufacture, transmission lines again), and solar thermal (ruins delicate desert environment, transmission lines)
never mind the whole mining and processing of elements like cadmium and gallium required to manufacture things like solar panels and microchips in the first place.
Similarly rooftop solar and wind are all well and good for charging one’s iPad, but you aren’t going to be running an MRI machine, aluminum smelter, or walk-in fridge on such limited amperage.
Nuclear and hydro aren’t “digging” in this metaphor. Neither is fossil fuel with at least 100% carbon-capture-and-storage provisioned. Because they don’t have net CO2 emissions.
Natural gas development is essentially a bet that CCS will be cheaper than nuclear power/other alternative power sources, and that we’ll develop it in time. It has its good points – it is pretty close to strictly better than coal, so anywhere powered principally by coal is going to benefit.
My problem with it is that the push-it-down-the-road and rely-on-future-technology-development strategy has a lot in common with “do nothing”. Hoping that CCS is economic, that it can be developed and deployed in ~the next two decades, and that after kicking half the can down the road there’ll be the political will to actually get it deployed… kinda risky.
I think there are two issues here.
An individual environmentalist demonstrates that his motivation is not a general hostility to markets and individual freedom by proposing the least intrusive solutions to the problems he sees (carbon tax rather than direct regulation and subsidies) and by making arguments that show that he understands and on the whole agrees with conventional market economic analysis (externalities and other sorts of market failure, not “greed is evil”).
But that still leaves the possibility that the movement he is a part of is motivated by left wing ideas, that once the real world demonstrated that central planning worked much worse, not much better, than markets, environmentalism was adopted as a new justification for policies that used to be defended on the grounds that markets were irrational. That matters, because the non-left environmentalist is basing his environmentalism on a lot of factual claims, few if any of which he can verify himself. If those claims are coming out of a community where people want a certain conclusion and bias their research and arguments accordingly, he may be being motivated by anti-market beliefs at second hand.
The particular case I’m thinking of is global warming alarmism. The argument for the existence of AGW is, in my judgement, convincing. The argument for showing that it has terrible effects is not. In the public context, that argument largely consists of greatly exaggerated accounts of the scale of the projected effects (New York City underwater, the ocean turned acid, no more snow) combined with a pattern of attributing all bad climate results to AGW whether or not there is any reason to.
In the academic context, it results in people looking hard for bad effects of warming, much less hard for good effects, tending to overstate the former, miss or understate the latter. I have a couple of examples on my blog from the work of William Nordhaus, an economist who specializes in effects of warming.
He is not a socialist and has at times been willing to disagree with the alarmist consensus–back when Kyoto was an issue he estimated that the costs of adopting those policies were much larger than the benefits. But when his calculation of clear costs and benefits resulted in no good reason to do anything about warming, his response was to look for more costs–but not to look for more benefits. When his estimate of the cost of doing nothing for fifty years instead of adopting the optimal policy immediately gave a figure that, spread out over the world and the rest of the century, was tiny—a reduction in world GNP of about .06%—he instead reported it as a lump sum (four trillion dollars present value) and commented on how large it was.
The IPCC reports give a mix. The scientific parts, so far as I can tell, are honest, but with some bias towards finding the results they expect. The summary for policy makers, on the other hand, blurs the distinction between climate effects and effects of AGW, and generally tries to present the scientific results in whatever way makes AGW look most threatening.
The non-academic end feeds back on the academic end, because everyone is a layman with regard to much of the argument. If you believe, from reading alarmist rhetoric about the issues you are not an expert in, that global warming is a terrible problem, you have an obvious incentive to bias your research, or at least its presentation, accordingly. One common pattern I observe is that when someone publishes research which undercuts some part of the “global warming is terrible” story, it is usually accompanied with a qualification of “but people shouldn’t conclude from this that global warming isn’t terrible.”
Exactly. Great summary!
Someone please save this and link it the next time the “market fundamentalist science deniers” argument comes up.
This is a good post. But I couldn’t help thinking throughout my reading of it that a very similar argument could be used in all sorts of other contexts and lead generally to people viewing each other very uncharitably. For example, a similar argument could be used by those who want to say that immigration restrictions are racist.
If the people who support immigration restrictions want to show they aren’t racist, they need to seriously consider what Bryan Caplan calls “keyhole solutions”: things that allow immigrants to come in while covering for their alleged non-racist objections. Such as free immigration with an immigrant tax, free immigration but no naturalization, at the very least free work permits but no permanent residency, or some such thing.
I do think that racism is the motivation behind people like Steve Sailer. The fundamental premise is “no stinky immigrants”, and everything else is a rationalization.
Or as I’m sure some people will insist, maybe they’re not “racist”. Maybe they’re just virulent nationalists who hate foreigners for equally illegitimate reasons.
1) It is bizarre to claim that a position shared by most Americans needs to have its supporters show they aren’t racist. Open borders just isn’t that popular; most people support immigration restrictions.
2) It may not be possible to provide such solutions. After all, in your concept, it’s the open borders advocate who gets to decide whether a position actually is racist, and he’s not exactly a neutral arbiter. He could very well end up just deciding that every single solution proposed that isn’t an open borders one just happens to also be racist. The definition of racism is fuzzy enough that you’re never going to be able to prove him wrong.
3) It may be that such solutions exist but they just aren’t practical. For instance, if the problem is that immigrants will take social services, we could solve this by never giving immigrants social services. But not giving immigrants social services is not feasible. Furthermore, it’s often the open borders people’s allies who are making the solutions unfeasible in the first place–the left leans towards open borders and would also be the first to complain if immigrants were denied social services.
1) Natural conclusion: Americans in general have a racist/nationalist bias on this issue. There’s no law of nature that says the whole country can’t be wrong. It’s happened before. Indeed, as Caplan has pointed out in The Myth of the Rational Voter, people systematically overestimate the dangers and underestimate the benefits of trading with foreigners as well. Besides, most Americans aren’t frothing at the mouth against immigrants: they tend to not actually know how restrictive the current system is and support immigration restrictions being “increased” to a lower level.
And if you’re an American conservative at all, you necessarily believe that the majority of people are biased into thinking government “solutions” work much better than they actually do.
2) That’s just what the left-wing environmentalists say: “no matter what I do, the right-wingers will accuse me of being motivated by an anti-capitalist bias.” The point is not whether you can convince an arbitrarily stubborn person; the point is whether you really are motivated by bias.
3) That’s also just what the left-wing environmentalists say: right-wing solutions to global warming that don’t involve dismantling capitalism won’t work. Maybe they’re right. But if they don’t want to be taken as zealots who will argue against capitalism no matter what, they need to seriously consider whether they might work and take the least restrictive option.
They need to show that they love capitalism and love progress and love the benefits of fossil fuels—but tragically, the costs are just too high. That is not their general attitude; their attitude is one of glee that Mammon is destroying itself. Need I point out that a similar analysis applies to the anti-immigrant right?
As for the latter point that the welfare state is incompatible with open borders: that’s a perfect opportunity for right-wingers to argue that the welfare state is immoral. They can say: abolish welfare for immigrants and exempt them from the extra taxes to pay for it, then when it is shown that such a policy can work, eventually allow Americans to opt out of the welfare state in turn for lowering their taxes. They will be eager to do so, and the whole system of welfare will collapse.
The right could turn this issue into their moral high ground. Bernie Sanders has already said “open borders is a Koch brothers idea”; the right can ask him why he is so driven by racism to exclude people willing to work for their pay.
Sailer’s premise is more “no stupid immigrants” than “no stinky immigrants” but, yeah, racism. That type of anti-immigration advocate is a lot like the sort of environmentalist Citizensearth is trying not to be mistaken for: he’s cavalier about the costs of the policies he wants because he regards most of them as benefits rather than costs.
1) Vox, you are equivocating between “immigration restrictions” and “more severe immigration restrictions”. Someone who supports a lower level of immigration restrictions still qualifies as “people who support immigration restrictions”.
2) There’s a difference between being able to accuse anyone of X because X is very loosely defined, and being able to accuse anyone of X because they can have X as a hidden motive. The left routinely calls things racist based on very loose definitions without needing to imply anything about hidden motives. At least we know what opposition to capitalism means, even if we may err in determining that it is present in one case. We don’t know what racism means, not as it is used by the left against open borders proponents.
3) In order for that to be parallel, you would have to have a situation where global warming can be solved without dismantling capitalism, but in order to do it without dismantling capitalism we also have to do something else that the right doesn’t like.
Yes, that’s true. I’m not saying the mainstream American supports open borders or anything. I’m saying the mainstream American is wrong and ought to.
But my first assumption is not racist bias. Maybe, like the majority of Americans, they are hopelessly ignorant on every major issue.
In the spirit of charity, I am going to make a couple of guesses about what the left means to denounce by “racism” in this regard (and I think I’m right):
a) Indifference to the suffering of immigrants as a value distinction. An American’s happiness just counts more than a Congolese’s. The left hates this, and they don’t much care to make the fine distinction between being indifferent to others because of the color of their skin and being indifferent to others because of where they were born.
b) A type of cognitive bias in which people systematically exaggerate the positive qualities of their own race and society and systematically exaggerate the negative qualities of foreigners. This leads to paranoia about immigrants.
Maybe the extreme left on open borders insists on opposing both a) and b) and would say that America should open its borders even if the country would be ruined. Even Bryan Caplan says something close to this.
But I am okay with a), to be honest. I think that purely selfishly America should have open borders. It would be good for the country and the majority of the people. When I say that immigration restrictionists have a racist bias, I am not criticizing them for not wanting civilization to collapse. I am suggesting that their biases are causing them to exaggerate the danger of civilization collapsing.
If it could be shown that open borders would make the average quality of life decrease (among natives and their descendants; obviously it would make the total average decrease), I think it would be reasonable for Americans to oppose it. Or if it were in the interest of some and not others, for the will of the stronger to prevail.
What, like subsidies and Pigovian taxes? That is what reasonable environmentalists argue.
They insist on a calm analysis of the harms of global warming and argue for the minimum possible restrictions on the economy to address them. We act only if there is a harm, not on the “precautionary principle” that doing something is always better than nothing. If a harm cannot be demonstrated, we should not impose a restriction.
And I agree that if the harms are real and not a net good or fixable by technology, that’s what we should do.
The left routinely calls things racist based on very loose definitions without needing to imply anything about hidden motives.
That may be true when they’re calling things racist, but when they’re calling people racist, nine times out of ten it’s in the context of a debate that started out being about something else, and racism IS the (alleged) hidden motive.
The parallel to smoking, second-hand smoke, and CFCs is left as an exercise.
The Centre for Effective Altruism’s EA Outreach team is looking for general sociological models to inform our thinking on movement-building. Examples: Schelling segregation, the Grannovetter riot model, etc.
What are some additional models which play into the dynamics of large-scale social networks that we should consider?
What are some good source for conservative opinion that aren’t far-right/alt-right? (Not that alt-right stuff is never worth reading, but I already know where to look for that.)
Is The American Conservative alt-right? Or City Journal or NRO?
I don’t know about TAC, but City Journal seems pretty mainstream-right, and NRO is definitely not alt-right – the sort of people who use the word “cuckservative” seriously tend to describe the National Review as being such.
I think I don’t really know what alt-right is. Is that the Steve Sailer-worshipping crowd that, as you mentioned, uses “cuckservative” unironically? Basically, the group that’s infested the MR comments in the last year.
According to this chart, Steve Sailer is definitely on the alt-right.
Okay, so if that’s the alt-right, what is their policy goal? Deport non-whites? Deny them the vote (I’ve seen E. Harding suggest just this)? I would assume making gay marriage illegal again. More strictly enforced immigration laws…protectionism, maybe?
As far as I can tell it seems to sort of be a loose way to refer to the grouping of people who are clearly far right but don’t appear to be “traditional” far right, for reasons ranging from content to style. It’s one of those terms that has the problem of multiple people using it for multiple different meanings.
The Death Eaters are probably the central example: they’re clearly far-right, but historically the Far Right has not been “Computer Programmers For Monarchy” or anything like that. They don’t have very much in common with, say, the BNP.
Steve Sailer is probably best described as alt-right.
That chart is helpful to explain who the alt-right considers themselves to be, but the “race gap” is weird. Jim Goad, Le Pen, UKIP, Gavin McInnes, etc are probably unacceptable to the mainstream right, let alone the left as it currently exists.
Also, I note that it leaves off the “Red Pill” types, a decent chunk of whom I would call alt-right – a whole bunch seem to have gone from simple “how to use evopsych to get laid” plus anti feminism to outright white nationalism.
@dndnrsn: The old “Networks of Dark Enlightenment” chart overlaps somewhat with the alt-right chart and does include the manospherians, but it’s a bit out of date.
Looking at all those groups, versus those they consider “cuckservatives” (mainstream right? establishment right?), is that they tend to have a far stronger emphasis on human difference on a biological level.
A mainstream right-winger will often consider the failure of an individual or a group to succeed to be a failure of personal decision making or the result of bad culture. Someone in the alt-right is more likely to blame immutable biological factors. For instance, take a kid who is bad at school. The standard mainstream right opinion is going to be that the kid doesn’t work hard enough, the kid’s parents are a bad influence, etc. They are unlikely to take the position that the kid just is never going to do well at school due to low genetic intelligence or whatever.
What divides them from the “traditional” far right seems to be differences of style (for instance, the chart you posted includes TRS – there’s a definite difference between their look-how-edgy-we-are-here’s-some-offensive-Pepes-and-Nazi-imagery shtick and “old fashioned” neo-Nazis – the latter are in earnest, the former are kind of like racist hipsters) and differences of demographics (probably younger, probably more people raised in a “blue tribe” environment, probably more middle-class and educated). Moldbug is not the kind of person you’d expect to find at a Skrewdriver concert.
I can’t imagine the Death Eaters or the rest of the alt-right existing without the internet, unlike the “traditional” far right.
My understanding is that the policy goal is a norm shift. Specifically, to get rid of the norm that political engagement should at least *pretend* to be about helping everyone overall, rather than about the forming of coalitions of the powerful which then get to act apathetically to the minority, specifically along ethnic grounds.
Getting rid of the “race gap”, getting rid of the “moral authority of the left”, etc, seems to refer to this. Lay the groundwork for object level policies to then flow from politicians talking openly in terms of which ethnicities are good and which are bad.
It isn’t as if everyone else is adhering nearly as well to the cooperative expectation in politics as they should be, to be fair.
UKIP is trying very hard to position itself as the party of reasonable people who are just concerned with immigration on grounds of economic impact to the poorer and who dislike Europe-wide institutions. They are trying very hard to take the position that they are just arguing for what’s best for everyone. It doesn’t surprise me that even if mainstream politics alleges the positioning is artificial and considers them unacceptable, they don’t get counted as supporters of the alt-right.
Compare the BNP, who have no reservations about openly advocating policies based on ethnicity and race such as “voluntary repatriation” which are much more in line with the alt right’s expressed concerns.
Good point. I can’t imagine the “regular” far-right coming up with edgy alt-right Disney parodies like “Troll the Cuck Out of You” and “White People’s Hero”, either.
I think this is exactly right and very significant.
The mainstream conservative movement in the U.S. is a mixture of classical liberal individualism which supports personal responsibility, and of values traditionalism supporting Judeo-Christian culture.
The “alt-right” is essentially collectivistic and believes in almost complete genetic determinism. Ironically, they hate “progs”, but they are very similar to the turn-of-the-century Progressive movement. They are in favor of promoting the social good by improving the eugenic racial stock of the country. It was the Progressives who imposed the quota system for immigration. And they are seemingly sympathetic to government intervention as such; they just think the current interventions are dysgenic or something.
JBeshir: I replied to you but messed up and posted in a different level of the thread.
Interestingly, those who call themselves progressives now seem almost entirely opposed to the idea of innate capabilities, which places them in the same camp in the question of “innate ability: yes or no” as everyone else except reactionaries.
“Progressive” nowadays seems first to have been used as a euphemism for “liberal” when the latter became a term of abuse by the US right, within the past decade or so. More recently, it seems to be used by some on the left who are defining themselves against those they call “liberals”, who they see as insufficiently left-wing, insufficiently committed to the program, insufficiently aware of the problem (edit: as brad points out, liberals being attacked by others on the left for these reasons is not a new thing – I phrased this poorly by making it sound like it’s a new thing, rather than that “progressive” being used in this way is/seems to be a new thing). Left-wing students hounding a left-wing administrator for not doing enough to protect them from campus microaggressions is a conflict I would characterize as progressives vs. liberals.
Where the conservative would respond to a child doing badly in school by criticizing the child and the child’s family – the implication being that the kid would do well in school if they buckled down, if their parents were married and respectable, etc – the general response of the left seems divided.
A liberal will blame society instead of the child and the child’s family, and say that society must change – but has as an objective equality of opportunity. The child’s path to success should be cleared by society, but it’s recognized that some kids are still not going to go down that path – it’s enough that everyone running the marathon had a fair start.
A progressive will put the blame in the same place, but will have an objective equality of outcome. If the child doesn’t succeed, it’s proof that the child’s path to success was not actually cleared, and society must do more. Any discrepancy in who crosses the finish line and when is proof, to them, that the marathon wasn’t fair. Because of this, they tend to be against the idea of equality of opportunity as a terminal goal, and hostile to the concept of meritocracy.
So all three – the conservative, the liberal, and the progressive, accept the idea that all have the same chance at success in life. They just lay the blame for a lack of equality in different places. Meanwhile, on the left, the liberal and the progressive disagree on how to measure whether the problems behind that lack of equality has been solved.
This places the reactionaries (including the far right, and thus in turn including the alt-right) in a very different position from the rest of the political spectrum. They’re the only ones who take the position that some kids will never do well in school, no matter their diligence, upbringing, or how society treats them.
I think this is what is behind a lot of their “cuckservative” talk – I think they’ve misidentified the issue. They accuse mainstream conservatives of being afraid of the left, or secretly wanting to be friends with Salon writers, or whatever. However, that mainstream conservatives would not be friendly to HBD and the Red Pill and so forth makes more sense when it’s considered that mainstream conservatives tend to consider most differences in achievement as personal failures, which are in turn often the result of cultural failures.
I think you’ve nailed it. Great post!
Someone should bookmark this somewhere.
Edit: I suppose you could say communists, conservatives, liberals, progressives, and libertarians all believe that all men are created equal. They all believe that, in some respect, people are or ought to be equal.
Communists and progressives: equal outcomes.
Liberals (and progressives, to some extent): equal opportunity.
Conservatives and libertarians: equal rights and freedom.
“Reactionaries”, or the “far right”, do not believe in any form of equality. Some people are the elect, and others are the reprobate. Which is also odd because they say their opponents are Calvinists.
Second edit: further, I would say that one way to distinguish a conservative from a reactionary is to look at who he considers equal. Conservatives, of course, regard the oppressed group of the day as naturally unequal.
You become a reactionary when you believe that one of the groups which society has already decided are equal, in fact are not equal.
If you think transsexuals are unequal today, you’re a conservative.
If you think homosexuals are unequal, you’re on thin ice.
If you think women are unequal, you’re a reactionary.
If you think blacks are unequal, you’re an extreme reactionary.
And if you believe in the divine right of kings, you’re comical. Like a visitor from the 1600s wearing a funny hat.
Attacking “liberals” for being insufficiently leftist is not new. Phil Ochs wrote a (fairly hilarious) song called “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” in 1965. Back then though the people doing the attacking wouldn’t have called themselves progressives, they’d be socialists or radicals.
Personally, I don’t care for “progressive”. In addition to the turn of the century baggage, it just sounds like an unlovely word to my ear.
It’s possible to observe stuff in the alt-right about libertarianism where authors praise it in principle, but argue that it is only possible in high-trust societies (which they often conclude must be ethnically homogenous) where everyone shares libertarian-friendly cultural values (which they often conclude to be European or Anglo cultural values).
A decent chunk of them are ex-libertarians and describe a sort of conversion process where they decided that libertarianism could only exist if protected from those who can’t do/don’t value libertarianism. Some of them seem to be promoting a sort of “libertarianism inside the group, collectivism outside the group” type deal.
Haidt defines conservatives as equally valuing care, equality, fairness, loyalty, purity, and authority, and liberals as overwhelmingly valuing care and equality. Compared to this, reactionaries value equality a lot less than conservatives, and probably value care less (there seems to be a general acceptance of cultural practices that are nasty to people on an individual scale but serve a larger purpose) and libertarians value loyalty, purity, and authority less. Progressives value what liberals value but value loyalty (group solidarity – eg, how some people turned on Caitlyn Jenner when she remained a rich white Republican woman, instead of becoming a radical social justice activist) and purity (Haidt focuses on things like offbeat sex stuff or burning the flag, but progressives have their own list of symbolic harms) more.
brad: Thanks for catching that; edited. I phrased things poorly – liberals being attacked by other leftists is indeed not a recent trend.
Yes, there is a fair bit of that element in them. And that’s what I’m most sympathetic to, if anything.
Indeed, I find myself having to argue elsewhere in this thread that “Yes, I would like the Palestinians to be able to live wherever they want. But Israel can’t allow that because their whole free, liberal society would be destroyed.”
I think a large portion of the alt-right movement takes this kind of legitimate concern and blows it up vastly beyond all sensible proportion. A few scattered Islamic terror attacks in Europe = EURABIA! No more Muslims! In fact, expel the ones already there! Do something, anything!
Similarly, there is the completely false idea of an illegal-immigrant crime wave spun by people like Steve Sailer. White Protestant family of four killed by illegal Mexican drunk driver! Why didn’t the government deport him before it was too late?!
Yeah. They really are a “reaction” in the sense that they see something they oppose and sprint in the opposite direction. What is somewhat ironic is that one element of what they are reacting to – a complete denial of human difference – was itself an early-to-mid 20th century reaction to bigotry.
What is especially unfortunate here is that a retreat into racism and misogyny isn’t needed to recognize that human difference exists. Stephen Pinker isn’t a Death Eater, for instance.
I’m a left-winger, and I think it’s a real detriment to the left (and to a lesser extent, the mainstream right that has adopted similar beliefs beliefs) that there is so little acknowledgment of human difference: it’s led to some beliefs that are directly contradicted by reality, and it’s led to some really bad public policy. A society where there’s a minimum level of human dignity for all and nobody goes hungry or without shelter or without medical care shouldn’t require pretending that everyone is identical.
But the alt-right has a really bad habit of taking the problems with currently popular beliefs and coming up with some really, really ugly stuff.
“Achievement Gap Politics” divides educational viewpoints into three classes:
The achievement-gap thing is a tricky issue.
I don’t think most conservatives and (regular) libertarians think there are no innate differences among people. They just don’t think outcomes are entirely explained by those differences. They believe that people have free will.
So some people will have to work harder, while for others success will come easy. But everyone through hard work is capable of doing reasonably well, except a small minority of obviously handicapped people, who should be helped through private charity. Which is possible because there aren’t that many.
>Okay, so if that’s the alt-right, what is their policy goal?
Why would they need to have one? Politics isn’t just about demands. For example, being liberal or left-wing also means you believe a lot of statements that are not demands, just statements. And people on the right can disagree with that analyze that. But policy demands are not necessary.
Policy demands assumes a lot of things. You still expect something from the current system, as opposed to just waiting until it collapses. You think the current system gives a damn about you. The more rightwards go, the more ridiculous they sound like.
As a parallel. Imagine you are living in the Soviet Union and you are like a Western Liberal. You have policy proposals? No. You just write samizdats about what the Pravda tells people is lies. And just wait for it to collapse. You really really really don’t have any proposals to give to Communists apparatchiks, other than to GTFO. You want a different system but there is hardly even a point in arguing it as long as the current ones are in power. You need to have your collapse first.
>Some people are the elect, and others are the reprobate.
Ugh, no. First of all the reactionary sphere has hardly any plans or demands. There is a clear disbelief in equality and autonomy but not agreed on plan of what should take its place.
I think expecting political demands or making clear plans is selling us short. Callit megalomania, but I think it is really about something as big as the Enlightenment. A large, multi-generational thing, the important thing is to work out the basic analysis and philosophy now and maybe 100 years later the politics. Or 25. Jumping from philosophy to politics makes you small, it makes you still work insight the ruling, Enlightenment paradigm. If one really wants to take on something as big as the Enlightenment, one needs to take it slow. The faster you go, the cheaper and less formidable you look like. If Locke wrote a Constitution for a proposed country five years after he wrote the Two Treatises, people would have taken him far less seriously.
Convince people know how equality and autonomy means alienation and meaninglessness, and worry about what should be in their place 50 years later.
Secondarily, and it is only just my personal view, not representing anyone, this Gnostic elect stuff feels entirely weird to me and I am sure nobody really wants this. The key insight is that when people are equal they are also unconnected, unbound, just floating around in space.
So the idea of hierarchy would be to bind people together in a close, personal, organic way, like a liege/vassal relationship, or a patriarchical family.
The problem with the elect/reprobate Gnostic model is that you just one loose group of elect floating freely above the reprobate.
Instead, my idea would be organic-hierarchic networks of people bound together, like how it really worked in the pre-modern era, we never had a floating elect, we had this far more personal feudalism.
It is often said The Last Samurai is the most reactionary movie made lately. There is a strong personal bond between Katsumoto and the samurai, and the Emperor and Katsumoto. The hiearchy is of personal bonds. It is not an elect floating freely above others.
This movie got feudalism really, really right. I mean, the ideal kind of feudalism, the one worth dreaming about, not necessarily all the ways how fallible humans fucked up the system, of course.
So, in short, the problem with egalitarianism is that it makes people too free, free of bonds, alienated, atomistic. If you want to bind people together, by blood, oaths, lasting relationships, you always end up making it hierarchical, it just never works any other way. If you tried binding people together on a strictly equal level I guess you would get a herd. The close, personal, companionship based relationship between a warlord and his comitatus works because it is hierarchical.
> My understanding is that the policy goal is a norm shift. Specifically, to get rid of the norm that political engagement should at least *pretend* to be about helping everyone overall, rather than about the forming of coalitions of the powerful which then get to act apathetically to the minority, specifically along ethnic grounds.
This sounds suspiciously like you’re saying their goal is “Be actually evil.”
Is that really how they would describe their goal?
I think they would maybe have some more complicated theory about who is allowed to form coalitions excluding the concerns of whom, perhaps along the lines of The Dividualist’s comment about who a country is “for” here, and they’d be likely to say that their project is a wider one of which this is only a part, but I think they’d agree that it is at least a part of their project to make it politically mainstream to campaign for and enact policies which reward/redistribute on the basis of ethnic groups, and for reasons other than it being better for everyone overall to do so.
The Sailer Strategy, which is one of the more explicit object level strategies I’ve seen from the alt-right, is fairly explicitly this; a call for Republicans in the US to just plain try to get such a large percentage of white voters they can ignore what minority voters think of their plans and enact things which they don’t like, and to do so by making the case that enacting these things is great for white voters in particular rather than by making the case that they’re best for everyone.
I think they would at least agree that the “race gap”, as it were, is “the thing making this strategy beyond the pale”, and closing it is their project to change that.
Basically, I’d suggest it isn’t so much any of the individual policies Urstoff mentioned at the top of this set of comments but the meta-level changes to how politics are conducted that would enable things like them to be pursued. Without needing to make and win a convincing case that it’s best for everyone to pursue them, since doing so would be extremely difficult.
I think this is more or less inevitably going to sound evil to anyone who doesn’t care about dominance of or even existence of particular ethnic groups for their own sake, but is roughly accurate.
@TheDividualist: So the idea of hierarchy would be to bind people together in a close, personal, organic way, like a liege/vassal relationship, or a patriarchical family.
I sympathize with this, but you make it sound like the higher levels of the hierarchy would only be open to warriors, i.e. a subset of men. That’s disturbing for women, and peaceful men. There are and have been patriarchal societies where it sucks to be female, and if you just say “hey, let’s rebuild an organic hierarchical society” without details, this is a rational concern.
If you say “let’s consider patriarchy and personal relationships between people of different classes as embodied in Christendom”, we’re on less slippery ground. Because bear in mind that the last time people tried to build a right-wing society on secular reason, it was Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile.
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that I didn’t wish I could un-read that used “cuck”.
I guess Vox Day’s latest book just lost a potential reader 🙂
Good point. UKIP (why is it “UKIP” instead of “The UKIP?”) is trying to inject its positions into the mainstream (or, present its policies as already being mainstream). It doesn’t have any overt language or official positions of racial superiority, does it? In comparision, BNP is very much a white supremacist party, which only seems to care about the EU insofar as EU policies support mass immigration.
A key difference is that UKIP are either (depending on who you ask) racists pretending not to be racists, or non-racists accused of being racists. Whereas the BNP are very much racists, and don’t bother to pretend that they aren’t.
Even when you consider the most openly racist and least esoteric (no cyberpunk monarchists) alt-right types though, there’s a strong cultural difference. As jaimeastorga2000 points out, the BNP aren’t redubbing Disney songs. Your average neo-Nazi probably doesn’t have any rare Pepes. TRS (who are maybe the most traditional far right and least Death Eater of the alt right types) would probably be ecstatic if the BNP somehow won power in the UK, but they don’t seem like the blue-collar beer-hall-brawler types that have been stereotypically common in the far right for most of the 20th century.
Perhaps the difference is in how they came to their particular opinions? The traditional far right seems to have largely been the province of disaffected blue-collar types whose political involvement has mostly been with the far right. With the alt-right, you see a lot of talk of libertarianism and being ex-libertarians. I also get the sense that a decent number were incubated in a left-wing political atmosphere.
I think you guys are over-complicating it about this racist and non-racist thing. Look. Nation-states are supposed to be the national homelands of ethnic groups. Maybe America not because America has always been a liberal ideal, but England’s existence is to provide a place for the English, which means both culture and ancestry. Therefore, it is an entirely moot point if the UKIP or BNP are racist, I think it is perfectly normal that to not want to have too many non-English people in a place that is supposed to be the place meant for English people. All the usual characteristics of racism, like hatred, superiority complex, or random discrimination are not necessarily related to it, this is why it is so weird to talk about racism here. It is simply the conviction that nation-states are meant for specific ethnics. Otherwise, why have an England? What is the point of having a country like that? Without ethnic homelands, it could be One World Government or One World America, which is largely the same.
The idea of countries as ethnic homelands is not even something ur-conservative. It is Israel, 1948 and it is how LIBERALS like Woodrow Wilson created countries like Czechoslovakia in 1920. It was made to have a place for ethnic Czechs and Slovaks. Why else? If you just let anyone live there, why even create the country?
Imagine you are a Wilsonian liberal in 1920 and you just made Czechoslovakia and now 3M Turkish people want to immigrate there. Would you allow it? Why? You made that country for a different purpose? Should you now rename it to Czechoslovakturkia? Why? So you say no, you say you just want Czechs and Slovaks to live there + traditional minorities (DE, HU, gypsy), right? And does that make you racist? No, just fucking common sense. You make a country for one people, why let other people immigrate there?
The same way, why would it be so racist for the UKIP or BNP to keep England English? If England is not English, what is the point in having an England, instead of a United Anglosphere or World Government or something? So ethnic discrimination in immigration and suchlike is IMHO inherently linked to the whole purpose of having all these historical nation-states.
I don’t disagree with the notion that some nations exist to provide a place for a cultural/ancestral national group. I don’t know if I could say all are, because it gets complicated (Nigeria has four main ethnic groups, and a ton of minor ones – is it a nation? Canada has indigenous people who were there first, has been colonized by multiple powers, has had waves of immigration from all over the world – what is a “Canadian”?)
As such, it appears you think I am saying something I am not? I am not saying that cultural or ethnic nationalism, absent racism, hatred, aggression, etc, is toxic or morally wrong. It is entirely reasonable that if I wanted to move to, say, Samoa, they might say “no, you’re not Samoan, Samoa is for Samoans, and letting non-Samoans in will jeopardize that” or “well, OK, but you better be on your best behaviour, and don’t expect us to accommodate you, and don’t expect to ever be more than part of a tiny minority of non-Samoans”. (Samoa chosen at random – I have no idea what Samoa’s immigration policies are).
When I say the BNP is racist, I mean it as a descriptor. Beyond ethnic/cultural nationalism, they (i)are(/i) racist, in the sense of believing in racial superiority. The attempt by Nick Griffin to reinvent it as a non-racist ethnic nationalist party was kind of feeble (on the same level as Coca-Cola talking about how corn syrup water is part of a healthy lifestyle), and before that the party was officially racist. They have strong connections to hatred and aggression.
It was relevant whether or not UKIP is racist because the alt-right chart that jaimeastorga2000 posted listed UKIP as being part of the “edgy right” but not as being on the right side of the “race gap”: I was questioning whether that perception, and that of a few others on that chart, were shared by the mainstream right, let alone the left. I was comparing UKIP to the BNP.
Most nations aren’t really “supposed” to be anything, not having been consciously designed by any particular person or people.
It’s also not clear why we should care about the reason a country was put together- if the reason England became a single nation was because some guy wanted to merge things “to enable my claim to authority as the supreme monarch”, if we optimised for what things were “supposed to be” that would require us to immediately restore absolute power to the monarchy, and… go find the ancestors of whoever it was, since our current monarch is probably the wrong one?
Is/ought distinction, again- we don’t care about what optimisation criteria generated a thing, we have our own values.
Some people seem to directly value about having a place in which a given ethnicity is dominant. Others only instrumentally, if at all.
“Independent countries are only justified to the extent they support competition, differences in culture, differences in preferences, extra-productive clusters of humanity, and anything else that is instrumentally useful for fulfilling human preferences” is not an absurd position, and that the latter implies it (by removing direct valuing of separation of ethnic groups) is not a problem for it.
Reformulating: ethnic nations are solutions to game theory problems, mutual distrust. If I am A and I think B are are bunch of tribal ethnic nationalists, then I also have to get tribal with my A and form our own country so that we can resist and defend our safety. Could be that B thinks the same, too. So it is a mutual distrust prisoners dilemma kind of thing. A coordination problem, in the grand Molochian way: I don’t want many A in my country B because they may form ethnic mafias and persecute us. But of course my distrust of them can lead to mistreating them and then maybe a self-fulfilling prophecy. Coordination problems are hard.
Anyway, the idea is that sovereign govs are powerful so let’s try to form them over groups that have trust in each other, that nobody will capture it to persecute some other subgroups, so ethnic and religious similarity is thus useful.
This was, so far, even a centrist, moderate view. Now, here comes the part that you may find too right-wing, but it is a proposed fact, not a value. I propose that on the broad average, in the 21st century, non-whites are far more likely to become racist, ethnicist, tribal, and persecute whites or each other, than whites, because whites were had at least 3 generations of listening to lefties now who kept telling them don’t be like that, while most nonwhites not. In other words, ethnic nationalism is far more allowed and normalized in e.g. Kazakhstan than e.g. Canada, therefore, Canadians could suffer from letting in too many Kazakhs who could form ethnic gangs or something and persecute them. While they would not suffer from letting in too many Swedes, because Swedes already had 3 generations of lefties telling them to not be ethnic nationalist.
In other words, broadly saying, there is this proposed hatefact that non-whites are more right-wing within their own context, which is even admirable for us (I aesthetically like the wolf symbolism of Turkish nationalism and their wolf-head gang signs), but unfortunately it can be directed against us, so I would rather not import it.
In other words, the reason you guys on the left should listen to your local right-wing in this immigration stuff is that 1) you dislike them 2) they are telling you most immigrants are going to be right-wing in their own context, too 3) do you really want to import that?
I mean, do you on the left have any arguments why third-world immigrants would have Enlightenment individualist and autonomist and tolerant views and all that, instead of being literally like your worst enemies on the right or worse? I mean, you guys have a progress narrative, you really hate people of the past with their horrible ethnicist, sexists etc. values, but aren’t third-worlders are just like whitey people of the past, from your angle? Because they did not get enough of your progress medicine rammed down their throats yet, unlike whites, so they are going to be unfortunately very unenlightened? The left used to think like this up to the 1960’s and then somehow threw it all away and began loving unenlightened and definitely non-leftist tiers-mondial people.
The obvious solution, then, would be to take as many foreign “savages” as we can accommodate without them bringing us all down into savagery. Or if nothing else, and if you insist on “edginess”, have segregation within the country if necessary but still both gain from trade: such as by having the “savages” do menial tasks like cooking and cleaning in return for much higher wages than they could get in their countries.
But no, the nativist solution is always: no, the ship if already sinking! We can’t take on any more! Nothing will do but complete exclusion!
The pro-immigration side therefore suspects that the nativists are misperceiving reality, quite likely because of a racist bias. If they reject even the possibility of bringing foreigners in as second-class citizens, they probably are driven by bias and are rationalizing a basis for exclusion.
I’ve never heard of any racist who just wants to harm blacks or Jews as a terminal value. They see them as a threat and respond in a rational way given that assumption. The criticism of racism is that the racists are systematically biased in such a way that they vastly exaggerate the threat other races pose.
Even the Holocaust is not really a matter of differing terminal values. If Hitler had been right that the Jews were all Bolsheviks in a millennia-long conspiracy to destroy civilization and eliminate every human value—and that no matter what, they could never be reformed and would always be an existential threat to humanity—then I suppose his treatment of them made sense on that basis. The criticism is that this was a completely false perception, driven by racist bias and blind hatred.
The problem with that is that we don’t know what the critical number is, either for your first scenario or your second one. It seems likely that the US has not hit it yet: it seems possible that some European nations either have or are getting very close to it.
@ Marc Whipple:
This is exactly the leftist argument that we should immediately ban all industrialization to stop global warming.
1) Exaggerate the danger. Look only for evidence of harms and not benefits.
2) Assume the worst-case scenario.
3) Ignore less restrictive solutions.
4) Enact the policies you’d prefer even if there were no danger.
I could distinguish them, but your point is taken. I guess you make your assessments and you pick your battles. *shrug*
I absolutely get your point, like, I am totally not opposed to the idea of having a cheap babysitter from a poor country, but there is a problem. Well, it is an example of a general class of problems, which deserve their own name and I don’t know the proper name of it. But basically the idea that if X is good and other people always distort X into something bad then it is better not to do X at all. I there is no better name I will call this “Schelling entrenchment”. When you defend a less ideal but less pervertable version of a thing, not a better but more pervertable one.
To give you a good example, using your industrialization vs. global warming example, it is like as if letting people to put smoke into the athmosphere means people burn down national parks for shit and giggles, so you decide to entrench into a zero-smoke policy. Well, wait, it is not a good example, the total sum of industrialization worths more than national parks. Anyway.
Not sure about the migration situation in the US, but here, I am absolutely fed up with how Paris or Sweden look like, this seriously got out of hand. At least a 25 years moratorium with zero in-movement until they get all assimilated. At this point every tiny valve designed to let only real nice Filippino babysitters in somehow ends up letting in tons opf angry young men from Afghanistan. At this point just everything got too dangerous. And work actively on assimilation, don’t just expect it to happen i.e. stop all the masochism and brag them about how a great nation you are and thus they feel incentivized to identify with it and be proud about it. One of the biggest problems is that assimilation is slowed down / not happening due to immigrants thinking if you are not proud about your country, if you are not saying you are awesome, why should I adopt this identity? And that is correct.
So basically, almost nobody I know is denying that a moderate trickle of immigration, heavily filtered, tested, whetted, and somewhat segregated and so on, would be workable.
The problem is that it all gets hijacked by the holiness-signalling left who just wants to let all asylum seekers / refugees in. This is the shittiest part really, at least Europe is trying hard to keep out people from a normally functioning third world country who could actually be useful as car mechanics and yet we are letting in droves and droves of asylum seekers / refugees without checking their usefulness, just out of “compassion”.
So let me reformulate the point. It is not even immigration. Immigration is at least fairly filtered already. It is the “humane” stuff, refugee-asylum-family-unification stuff that is the problem. This is why “Schelling entrenchment” is needed.
I am tempted to say that non-compassionate immigration is almost not dangerous, this is done fairly sanely in Europe, and in America too, I think, restricted number of work visas etc. It is all the humane crap that breaks us, it is not the Indian prgrammers, it is the asylum seekers from the worst hellholes who bring fairly hellhole-standard behaviors.
You’re very willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Israel*, taking their words that the Jewish boat is sinking, but reluctant to extend that same courtesy to anyone else.
The same arguments which support preventing Jerusalem from turning into Gaza City can be used just as easily to support preventing London from turning into Karachi or Los Angeles from turning into Mexico City. It seems pretty hypocritical to reject them in the latter cases as racist but accept them in the former as necessary sacrifices to protect liberal society.
In practical terms I don’t think building walls is an effective or realistic solution, but seeing Jews build a huge wall and then loudly denounce anyone else trying to do the same raises the suspicion that they at least think it is.
*(No I’m not pro- or anti-Israel. I don’t care what they do as long as they don’t drag me into it or try to tell me what to do, which means my only real beef is with their lobbyists.)
What. The. Actual.Fuck.
You realize there’s no council of the elders of Zion where we all get together and decide both Israeli policy and what agenda our agents in the U.S. media will push on various issues. Right? RIGHT?
Notice that this refusal to treat people as individuals has some unfortunate parallels to your arguments about “the Palastinians”.
In comparison to Europe, the US and Canada have national cultures which seem to do a much better job of integrating immigrants. Or, immigrants to the US and Canada integrate better than immigrants to Europe. Or, bit of column A, bit of column B.
Canada is probably in the best position, because the lack of proximity to any country but the US means that immigrating to Canada requires some doing, even illegally (which usually takes the form of someone entering the country legally as a tourist or student and not leaving when their visa is up).
Of course, there are Scandinavian countries with serious integration problems, compared to the US and Canada. Part of the difference is probably that the US and Canada have significantly less generous welfare states.
The US and Canada both have national identities that are much less based on common ethnic background than Europe, and for the past few decades at least, much less based on race. Cultural identity is more malleable. Someone, or their kids, can become American or Canadian in a way that doesn’t seem to have happened so much in Europe.
You say that one of the problems for Europe is a strain of “masochism”, as you put it, in the national narratives. The US still has a fairly triumphalist national narrative. Even Canada does, compared to some European countries.
As an example of superior integration in North America, Muslims in the US (and presumably in Canada), by Pew polling, are far less conservative, radicalized, etc than Muslims in Europe.
@ Dr. Dealgood:
Your argument is of the form:
“You say people should have the right to own guns. Therefore, you ought to say they should have the right to own ICBMs.”
People ought to be able to own guns in order to defend themselves, and they shouldn’t be banned just because a few criminals are going to take advantage of it.
But letting everyone have nuclear missiles would present an existential threat to society. If handguns presented such a threat, then they ought to be banned. They don’t, so they should not be banned.
If you drink too much water, you will die. That doesn’t prevent someone from arguing that, if his throat is parched from only taking in a tiny trickle of water, it might be defensible for him to take in an enormous additional quantity of water.
My position is that letting in all the Mexicans who want to come is not going to destroy America. But Israel letting in all the Palestinians would. What can I say? It is possible for two situations to be different. If the U.S. were concerned with taking in 300 million people all of one ethnicity who hate them and have been in conflict with them for decades, I would say they shouldn’t do it.
With gun control, left-wingers have an alarmist bias—probably some kind of fear and aversion to guns and rednecks—and exaggerate the harms of guns compared to the benefits. (Gun control as we know it was also in many ways motivated by racist fears of blacks with guns.) I say that right-wing immigration restrictionists have a bias against immigrants that colors their view of the harms and benefits.
Maybe I too am unreasonably biased against Palestinians. But I am all in favor of seeking the least restrictive solution. For instance, I would be in favor of the Palestinians being able to move to the U.S. In the U.S. they would be such a small minority that they would assimilate and not have a chance in hell of accomplishing anything through violence.
The problem is that people are biased against Israel and criticize it for things they wouldn’t criticize any other country for. It would be absurd for me to criticize Israel for not taking in five million Chinese to balance out the Palestinians or something, which could very well work. It would be absurd because no other country is willing to do anything similar, so I can’t place Israel on a special plane of evil.
I think NRO is probably the best in terms of sampling – its Corner blog has all sorts of authors of varying quality and interests jostling for attention, so it’s a good way to get a snapshot of the current state of debate.
The Federalist I think is also a solid source.
Personally, I enjoy Allahpundit’s posts on HotAir, although he’s by no means representative, simply because his sense of humor resonates almost perfectly in sync with my own.
The American Interest is pretty good, if you don’t mind a paywall after reading three articles. I find it to lean mostly on foreign policy content, though.
Second the vote for City Journal. Also, The Federalist is pretty new, and has a lot of good stuff. NRO is really variable, both politically and in quality. Some really good stuff, some really stupid stuff.
Unz.com is a good aggregate source of right of center blog opinions.
That’s all alt-right, isn’t it?
Looking at their columnist list, it looks like a list of alt-right authors, right-wing authors who are outside of the mainstream right or downright far right but not alt-right, and a few who don’t seem to fit (Bacevich is hardly alt-right, might not even be right-wing, and Finkelstein is some kind of socialist or other).
“Right-of-center” is not the term I’d use. “Far right” is more accurate. Though I suppose the far right is right-of-center.
Many of what unz.com aggregates are alt-right. Ron Unz specifically wants “… and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media”, which maps to alt-right (and alt-left).
Unz on the minimum wage:
Unz clearly didn’t consider childcare or other non-profit but necessary service labor in his remarks.
The American Conservative.
It’s also the only conservative publication I know of that rejects tea-party politics, international saber-rattling, and free market fundamentalism.
Just posted upstream about how accusations of racism fail to stick to Trump because his supporters are precisely the people who are tired of the overuse of that term.
But makes me also wonder: are we maybe in a general “Boy who Cried Wolf” situation in US politics? Like, if we had a truly racist fascist candidate running for the GOP nomination, would we have anything we could say about them that we didn’t already say about every previous candidate? And God help us if we ever get a real Kenyan Muslim Marxist running for the Democratic nomination.
“Just posted upstream about how accusations of racism fail to stick to Trump because his supporters are precisely the people who are tired of the overuse of that term.”
Racist, xenophobic, same difference. And if you don’t think it’s xenophobic to forbid 1.6 billion people from entering your country because a fraction of a fraction of a percent of them are terrorists, I don’t have anything else to say.
I’m pretty sure you totally missed the point of this post, didn’t read the above-referenced post, and are pattern matching to make erroneous assumptions about my personal views.
And if you don’t think it’s xenophobic to forbid 1.6 billion people from entering your country
I would be mildly alarmed if 1.6 billion people wanted to enter Ireland and that’s not xenophobia, that’s “But where will they all fit?”
Agree about the stupid race-baiting, suggest you rephrase your numbering.
This comment doesn’t address the parent at all.
Addresses it in that (a) someone may have reasons for not wanting open immigration other than being a xenophobic racist (b) we all make mistakes when typing in the heat of the moment, but on reflection you might want to re-word so you don’t sound like you literally mean “let 1.6 billion people into the country as migrants”.
Not sure why you used “you” there in response to my post, since I’m not the parent.
Regardless, the OP is about the meta level point of whether accusations of racism have been diluted so much that they’re meaningless, not the object level question “Is trump a racist”.
Edit: Actually, did you think I was responding to you? I wasn’t, I would have replied to you if I was. I was responding to the same person you were. That’s why our comments are on the same indentation.
Also, I just want to point out that the conflation of racism and xenophobia recently is exactly part of the problem I’m talking about. I, personally, am neither racist nor xenophobic. I’m arguably xenophilic and am in favor of open borders.
But it’s also perfectly conceivable to me that someone could be against open borders–maybe even xenophobic–but without being racist. But these people would probably be okay with new Swedish immigrants you might say. Probably. But Swedish immigrants would probably be Christian (or culturally Christianish agnostic/atheists) and more culturally similar to our theoretical immigration opponent. Further, if you proposed to them allowing in Middle Eastern Christians, I think many of them would be okay with it, as they would be not okay with letting in very fair-skinned Muslims, proving it’s not fundamentally a racial prejudice.
It’s a not entirely unfounded concern about having people with a fundamentally different culture and set of values move into your neighborhood and start recreating their culture in your backyard. But the United States is all about immigrants, you might say. Yes, it is–wave after wave of mostly European immigrants who have all mostly assimilated into the American mainstream after one or two generations (and slaves as well, of course, though it’s hard to call them “immigrants” who “assimilated” when they didn’t have a choice).
But that is not what is happening in Europe recently. In many European nations recently it seems many Muslim immigrants are setting up their own insular communities and are reluctant, even hostile to the idea of integrating into the European cultural mainstream. The American looks at this situation and is afraid the same thing might happen here. I don’t know whether this is a realistic fear, given our distance from the Middle East, which may preclude the kind of mass migration experienced in Europe, but one can at least understand how the fear might arise.
And again, it isn’t about race, it’s about culture. This attitude, if extreme, might rightly be termed “xenophobia,” but it isn’t “racism.” Right now on my Facebook feed are multiple posts accusing Trump supporters of being “racist.” Not “xenophobic,” not “anti-immigrant.” Racist. And it’s precisely because of this sort of promiscuous use of the latter term that it has lost most of its sting, even when used appropriately.
What I find as strange about the xenophobia/racism labels is that the same people who are against Muslim immigration is that they are generally either neutral of favourable towards east Asians, who are arguably even more xeno than muslim Syrians, Afghans or Magreb Arabs and what is more – they usually are much much less hostile to or even supportive of non-muslim arabs. That kind of breaks the racist accusation for me and the xenophobic has to be quite specific to work. I don’t like the world “islamophobic” any more than I like any politically motivated “phobias” but it fits better than anything. These people are actually afraid of Islam, they do not “hate other races” or even “hate Arabs” (insofar as they do show signs of it it is because they put Islam and Arabs together…but if the majority of Arabs rejected Islam today and converted to Buddhism, they would cease being hostile towards them).
Then there are people, who I think actually have a reasonable case and who are worried that taking in hundreds of thousands of illiterate (in their own language) people with no education to a welfare-overblown Europe is not a smart idea. And there one cannot even use the islamophobic label.
The trouble is that these various groups of people (actual racists, people who are afraid of muslims, people who are concerned with “how are we going to integrate these people who won’t have a chance at getting a job?”) are often mixed together and all labeled “racist”, which is a modern equivalent of heretic (in the sense that you are saying “do not even talk to these people and try to understand them”).
By the way, one of the most vocal opponents of immigration and especially Muslims in the Czech republic is called Tomio Okamura, he is half Japanese, born in Japan. The irony is probably lost on him, but it again is some evidence to my point – the people who are called racist actually are apparently not racist towards him (although he is quite extreme in his rhetoric, basically on the Trump level, although thankfully with a much smaller group of supporters), on the contrary, they listen to him (and this is clearly the ‘islamophobic’ crowd).
“wave after wave of mostly European immigrants who have all mostly assimilated into the American mainstream after one or two generations”
There is at least a colorable case that there is no such thing as assimilation, only how much persistent diversity you’re willing to put up with. (This has thrown a substantial monkey wrench into my own thinking about immigration.). See, for instance:
I do think there is some truth to this, but I also think assimilation does happen. When you compare the attitudes, behaviors, etc. of Asian Americans to those of their immigrant parents, for example, I think you find the differences go deeper than language. They are Americans with Asian parents and maybe some subtle lingering Asian cultural influences, yet they dress, act, and, I would argue, even think in a recognizably American way.
As someone who grew up in “New France,” and who currently resides in “Greater Appalachia,” I can tell you they’re not hugely different from “The Deep South.” They are a bit different from “Yankeedom,” but it would be pretty surprising if such geographically distant areas weren’t home to at least slightly different cultures.
Fair enough. There’s a good deal of room to hash out the details, for sure.
@onyomi: But it’s also perfectly conceivable to me that someone could be against open borders–maybe even xenophobic–but without being racist. But these people would probably be okay with new Swedish immigrants you might say. Probably. But Swedish immigrants would probably be Christian (or culturally Christianish agnostic/atheists) and more culturally similar to our theoretical immigration opponent. Further, if you proposed to them allowing in Middle Eastern Christians, I think many of them would be okay with it, as they would be not okay with letting in very fair-skinned Muslims, proving it’s not fundamentally a racial prejudice.
Hi, that’s me. I support taking in Christian immigrants from the Middle East (once upon a time, before I was born, “Arab-American” just meant Lebanese). Latinos seem like decent Christian folks on average, and the Indians and East Asians the government lets in are very productive and well-adjusted even if culturally alien (but many Asians are now Christians too!).
What I’m afraid of are terrorist attacks, Rotherham type rape gangs, Salafi mosques, a ban on criticizing Islam or drawing Mohammed while libeling Christianity and Piss Christ remain protected speech, veiled women, etc.
Because of the violence Muslim communities incubate, I consider Western governments that enable this demographic shift to be in violation of the social contract whereby we individuals rationally give up our natural right to use violence in exchange for security. I no longer view representative government as a sacred value: if the oligarchs we elect choose to elect a new people and said people have a worldview that’s more violence-prone than the old people, we need to get rid of the political class by any means necessary (but the less violent, the better).
I can think of several reasons besides xenophobia to oppose 1.6 billion people entering my country
“But makes me also wonder: are we maybe in a general “Boy who Cried Wolf” situation in US politics?”
Yes, that was my feeling as well. After watching Scalia get pilloried in the media for tentatively discussing possible opposition to affirmative action, I am having a hard time taking the label “racist” seriously when applied by the media. There’s a large swathe of issues that are literally no longer even topics open to discussion.
Pretty much. I think some of Trump’s proposals are legitimately really scary (banning “all Muslims” from entering the US, “shutting down their internet”, going after terrorists’ families). But after accusing all national Republicans of being misogynist racist bigoted warmongers, it’s difficult to call out the real thing and get taken seriously.
Actually, it’s worse than that. So many people on the left are so committed to the idea that Republicans really *are* misogynist racist bigoted warmongers, that they now are saying things like “what’s the big deal with Trump? The other candidates are just as bad, though maybe they’re hiding it better.” (Paul Krugman has essentially said this several times on his blog, and linked to others saying it.)
That’s *really* dangerous, and shows how much such people have lost perspective (you really can’t tell the difference between a moderate Republican and someone who wants to ban all Muslims from entering the country?). Extending the analogy, crying wolf is one thing, but now people who’ve been arguing that all Republicans are wolves in sheep’s clothing are saying, “Why are we getting so freaked out about a *real* wolf?”
In practice, the distinction would be that a lot of the more moderate people who don’t jump to accusations like that would join in. Since more extreme people have a disproportionately large (and possibly growing) portion of the conversation, this is getting harder to diagnose. (Also, even if they had the same volume, they emotionally get heard more, just by regular ole simplification bias).
Some of us have been there for a long time. I think people are starting to get sick of it. We’ll see how it plays out. It’s primarily about how well the media and entertainment industries can maintain a status lock on what’s popular and acceptable in public. And given the notorious “artistic” temperament, I think we can look forward to some prominent right-wing trolls shortly. After that, the gates will be unbarred, Katie.
I think this is likely. Traditional political snarl words are losing their power; the left has called the right “fascists” and “racists” for so long, and the right has called the left “socialists”, that these terms no longer mean much of anything. Trump seems to have been shrugging off the open accusations of fascism (which are much more frequent than with any other major Presidential candidate I can remember in my lifetime) like water off a duck’s back. And note how Bernie Sanders basically said “yeah, I’m a socialist – so what?” and his campaign didn’t fall apart?
Personally, I think this is a good development. Maybe people will start analyzing policy proposals on the merits, rather than whether they pattern-match to hot button terms like “racist” or “socialist”.
I come to a similar conclusion from a different direction – I don’t think there’s any policy position someone could endorse such that the far right will agree that they are racist.
That’s strange, because a large part of the far right are racist, and don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
(I’m using ‘racist’ in the meaning ‘likes some races and hates/dislikes others’.)
My point is more that they’ll engage in mental gymnastics to disclaim racism. See, for example, this recentish comment in a links thread here implying that it’s not racist unless you specifically want to commit genocide. (I don’t know what the authors political inclinations are).
Some of them, yes. ‘Racist’ is used as an insult, people don’t like being insulted especially when they think they don’t merit it, and not everyone has internalized that the disclaiming strategy doesn’t work.
If someone calls you racist in a public forum, you might as well accept that label, daring the opposition to come up with something worse. In doing so, your detractors only wear out the utility of the term and show themselves to be both impotent and emotional.
It doesn’t really matter if you are racist or not.
@ James Picone,
Is there any evidence that a Red Triber could reasonably offer of “non-racism” that you would accept?
The way I see it. If am am accused of racism I can try to defend myself by arguing my position on the merits and inviting friends and coworkers to vouch for my character but in the end I’d just be inviting you to play superweapon bingo and the only winning move from my perspective at that point is not to play.
As such the best response to accusations of racism is to accept it and move on.
Especially so long as the same people who are always going on about the prevalence of racist “dog-whistles” amongst the Red Team inevitably make excuses for members of the Blue Team who get caught displaying overt racism towards black conservatives like Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice, and Tim Scott.
TL/DR, I agree with Annon that It doesn’t really matter if I’m racist or not.
If someone calls me a racist I’m just going to roll my eyes and ask them if that’s the best they’ve got.
Sure. They could, for example, not indicate that they think black people are inferior, either in a ethical sense or in a biological sense. (Criticising cultural stuff like, say, female genital mutilation, honour killings, or the like is totally okay). They could refrain from indicating that they think muslims are just waiting to be let into their country so they can be terrorists.
What I’m objecting to is the “I’m not racist, I just think black people are stupid because of their genetics” game.
Yeah, that’s wrong and incoherent. What such a person should be saying is “I’m a racist, and racism is correct because genetic differences between are real and substantial, and not all traits subject to these differences are desirable, etc, etc.” instead.
You’re attacking a straw man.
The biological determinists aren’t the ones typically accused of engaging in “mental gymnastics” to disclaim racism.
The people engaging in mental gymnastics are those who try to deny that their criticism of the cultural stuff (the stuff you claim is ok to criticize) is a racist dog whistle.
Your complaints about inner city crime and the breakdown of the dual parent household are just surface manifestations of your closet racism.
You don’t actually care about the persecution of Christians in Syria, you’re just an islamaphobe.
…and so on.
I linked to somebody making the argument that it’s not racist if you’re not specifically calling for genocide, so it’s at least a weakman, thank you verymuch. 😛
“wants to commit genocide” is only 1 of out of 4 definitions of racism posited by the original commenter in that thread. So your assertion that their position is “it’s not racist unless you specifically want to commit genocide” is itself on very weak ground.
I don’t think I belong anywhere near the far right, but I get accused of “Racism” a lot, and my response has come to be “if this be racism, make the most of it”. There is a vast swath of opinion that gets lumped in here, from the obviously supremacist to the obviously correct.
For what it’s worth, I believe in the absolute moral equality of all humans, modified only by personal behavior. I just don’t believe in the cultural equality of anyone, and I accept the likelihood that some races have small genetic differences that can produce large performance differences on very specialized tasks.
I think “Racism” has been overused and now refers to too much to be useful. If you mean “white supremacist” or “black supremacist”, say so. If you mean cultural xenophobe, say so. If you mean religious bigot, say that. “Racism” as a term is meaningless. It’s just an emotional appeal. All it means is “he’s a bad man”. And I’m very, very bad.
Now “racist” has become so worn they’re starting to use “white supremacist” as a general term of insult. BlackLivesMatter is especially bad for this.
In the last 2 months or so, I encountered the use of the word racist as a description of three completely different (and IMO unrelated to anything that is reasonably defined as racism) things:
1. The idea that catholic countries are on average worse off economically than protestant countries because the protestant teaching enforces work morale and the idea that hard work in life is rewarded by heaven (although as far as I know, this is only true of calvinists, but anyway).
2. Dislike or fear of muslims or islam.
3. Radical feminism – a friend told me that she thought radical feminism was “racist against men”. I pointed out that men are not a different race (unless you are a radical feminist, I guess :)) ) and she said that that was not how she meant it, but that it is simply treating men as something worse than women.
So what I get from that is that the word racist is about as far from its original meaning today as the word gay is from meaning happy and joyful. The problem is that everyone recognizes that gay means homosexual and nobody would even associate it with meaning joyful, if you say that something/someone is racist, it still conjures up the image of Nazis or apartheid, even though people use the word all the time without suggesting that someone would support race-based policies (actually it makes logically more sense to call affirmative consent policies racist than most of what is being called racist today) or who would even advocate an ethnic cleansing.
I’ve been having a conversation with a visitor of my blog (can name you if you like, just thought I’d wait to see what you want) who has a background in neuroscience, and though I’m a non-expert more coming at this from a philosophy of science perspective, I thought it might be the kind of thing people here might be interested to read:
Why I think Neuroscientists Should Be Wary of Using the Term “Consciousness”.
I tried hard to make a pretty strong case, but as always I love to hear agreement/disagreement/other perspectives of anyone on SSC!
Would I be far off in summarizing it as:
The word “consciousness” may have a perfectly good and clear meaning in your field but it may be worth avoiding using it for the same reason that it would probably be best for quantum physicists to avoid using the word “observer”: because annoying people from the made-upy fields with their own silly definitions of the terms involved will make up all sorts of bullshit based on your statements if you use the terms because they carry a lot of connotations and denotations outside your own field and if you’re not careful you’ll find your research being used to support Deepak Chopra quotes.
Lol, I wouldn’t summarise it quite like that no. It’s a fairly short and easy read, so hopefully it won’t need a summary from me beyond the title.
I don’t think it’s quite as simple as you think it is, especially if the person reading it is from outside the LW-rationalsphere (or whatever we’re calling it now). A short summary would be warranted if you thought you could make one.
I think generally its normal to refer to “consciousness” when we’re thinking about a sort of general feeling you get when you’re awake as a human. But there’s massive philosophical baggage that comes with using not only the term itself, but the schema/group of ideas it implies. I’ve tried to lay out really clear explanation of the problem and the reasons why it may not be intuitively obvious. I try to show why I think the baggage has serious real world consequences too.
That’s a bad summary, the article is much better, but there you go. 🙂
Your argument, as i interpret it from the computer picture analogy, seems to be that people aren’t really thinking about their own thinking, instead they’re thinking about a simplified and inadequate representation of their thinking. I don’t think that is a meaningful distinction. The way people model and monitor their own thought processes isn’t perfect, but having a perfect model isn’t necessary to say that someone’s brain is modeling. I don’t think people’s sense of self or internal narrative of consciousness is so disconnected from what’s actually going on in their brain that this sense should be disregarded. When people mentally verbalize opinions like “my brain feels sluggish and sleepy” or “I am angry”, I think those opinions are usually essentially correct. If that doesn’t count as self-awareness in your view, I think you’re defining the word to mean something very different than what most people interpret it to refer to, and attacking a strawman’s belief.
I don’t feel that reflects what I was saying in the article, but I don’t disagree with all that you’re saying either. I don’t think that people saying “my brain feels sluggish and sleepy” are misreporting that, for example. It’s more that when doing research on the brain I think neuroscientists should be very careful about scrutinising the philosophical sources/implications of the categories they’re using.
We shouldn’t use the word consciousness to refer to a series of observed external brain wiggles. I agree.
But, why should consciousness apply to “self” awareness, specifically? Consciousness is generally held to be distinct from self-awareness, in that a child might be aware of things, but unaware of themselves as an entity.
How could it be possible to separate moral questions from experience/consciousness? The final paragraph makes very little sense to me – you seem to be saying – “don’t worry about consciousness – that will lead to unconscious processes (moloch) taking over; instead lets concern ourselves with the unconscious processes that underlie external reality and that will help us to beat moloch (unconscious processes).”
That’s not even considering that a process without content is nothing. There always has to be some conscious content if it is important to us – if you want a secure footing then perhaps you have approach things from an “egoist” perspective, but still, consciousness is key.
> Consciousness is generally held to be distinct from self-awareness
I’m not sure consciousness is generally held to be anything – I think there are many different popular but conflicting notions / theories about it.
> you seem to be saying – “don’t worry about consciousness – that will lead to unconscious processes (moloch) taking over;
Really roughly in that end bit I’m saying look after people/humans, beause we know for certain that they are real and morally important, whereas the philosophical ideas are unclear, maybe illusionary (not sure), and if they did exist, they’re probably well served when you do right by the humans anyway.
I certainly agree that we should look after humans rather than going around building utility monsters.
But, I also think that if you want to make an appealing story of your life, and you *think*, your actions are always going to have to have some sort of philosophical basis. The best you can do is choose your abstraction.
So, there is a bit of a danger of throwing the (human) baby out with the (abstract) bathwater – if moral treatment of humans is based upon abstract/philosophical ideas, is *abstraction* really the basis on which we should object to *other-ed* consciousness?
(For example – it isn’t altogether obvious to me that other humans matter (at least not on the statistical/political level) or even that they are conscious in the same way that I am – but I think it makes a better story to think that they do and are.)
So if we want to keep the “being nice to humans” part, but get rid of the “giving machines equal consideration to humans” I would say the basis for this isn’t that machine consciousness is more abstract/philosophical, but simply that it is less appealing.
(Having said that, perhaps it is less appealing because it is harder to empathize with an uploaded mind…)
A stereotypically attractive man shows a stereotypically unattractive man how to make good photos for OKCupid— it works.
Interesting in a bunch of ways– “relax and be yourself” is good advice, but only if given in a way that it can be followed.
My apologies for the facebook link. I couldn’t figure out any other way to get access to the video.
Here’s the video on Youtube.
Are women (generally) actually attracted to those types (the “sexy Thor” guy)? I mean nice muscles, but that guy looks like he uses more cosmetics than his girlfriend (I get that this is the way he earns his living but it is the fact that this is an effective way to do it is what baffles me). I believe that the word is metrosexual.
I always find it strange when these models are shown in the adverts for men’s clothes. The message it sends to me is “if you buy stuff from us, you are a perfumed dandy who is full of himself and his looks”. So either I am an exception (or not their target group, but the clothes themselves are sometimes such that I would possibly buy) or they are doing it wrong. I also think it is different from women in women’s clothes catalogues since they seem like more or less what women would want to look like (and are not that far from what many women actually do look like, even if these photos are routinely photoshoped a bit) The message, I think, you would want to send to the viewers of your men’s clothes advert is “with this you will look good in a ‘manly’ way”, which is not what the ‘sexy Thor’ guy really represents.
I’d be interested in what impressions others (men or women) get from these ads.
“This is what is fashionable. This is what classy men wear. Wear this if you want to claim high status. We take all major credit cards.”
Don’t question fashion, it is what it is. Thomas Jefferson never said anything about not wearing make-up: he said if it wasn’t a matter of principle, go with the flow.
That is what you would want the ad to tell you, but that is not always what it does. It works if you show a guy who you might believe is a high-status guy. This is complicated, because status is only a partially ordered set, so you have to pick your target groups – what is perceived as high status for a metalhead will be considered low status by a whole bunch of other people for example. But metrosexual models are a high-status prototype for whom? Admittedly, they also appear more often in “hipster-like” ads, in ads for more “formal” clothes, you see more “serious men”, sort of like “younger Sean Connery” types. So maybe, I am simply not in the target group of the ads with models like the one from the video.
High-status for guys who are at least moderately interested in fashion, I suppose.
EDIT: Heterosexual men simply are not a monolith. While generally true most heterosexual men put a low premium on fashion, relative to women, certainly exceptions exist.
I cannot speak for all men, but I do have passing familiarity with different social groups. I live in Chicagoland area, descended from the North Shore suburbs: this area served as Setting for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Mean Girls, so imagine that and you have an idea of the background.
There are certain subcultures of heterosexual men quite interested in fashion. My Pakistani and Arabic friends, for instance, followed fashion trends quite closely and were quite enamored of these ads.
My Eastern European friends behaved in a similar fashion.
These groups both had a strong desire for conspicuous consumption, both in cars, and in fashion, and liked the ads featuring men you would describe as metro-sexual men.
I draw my fashion sense from these groups, because my other social group (nerds) had virtually no interest in fashion.
My Father, a blue-collar farm boy, DEFINITELY had no interest in fashion, nor did any of the kids in my family. My sister still wears over-sized Silverchair t-shirts.
But certain subsections of men concerned with status do in fact like these ads.
Partly I’d guess that it’s the same problem as female fashion models looking like poorly disguised aliens: a plurality if not majority of designers are gay men, so their sense of aesthetics is way way off from what straight men or women see as attractive. When these guys are told to put a “sexy man” in the ad of course he’s going to be a twink.
That said, there is a pragmatic argument for putting a fair amount of effort into your appearance. You really do see a big difference in how women react to you and it is definitely positive. Even the stupid scented deodorant / bodywash: it shocked the hell out of me but my ex actually was turned on by the smell of Old Spice. The only downside is that you do get mistaken for gay a lot more often.
Very much this. Fashion is not something heterosexual men pay much attention to.
But there is a great deal of basic work that goes into being considered “acceptable” in terms of grooming to women, and unfortunately the best way to learn all of it is to get a long term girlfriend. One of those “success begets success” things. Women as a group obsess about fashion and tiny things that most men never consider. They are hyper-sensitive, capable of spotting the beginnings of a unibrow at fifty paces.
Funny anecdote on deodorant: The gf and I have a restaurant we love, and are good friends with the owner/chef, who is a butch-ish lesbian. Chatting with her one evening, the gf says to her “oh wow, you smell great! What is that? I love it!” Our friend dead-eyes her and says “Old Spice Swagger”. And I fell out my chair laughing, because that’s what I wear. Now it’s just a running joke, that she’ll flirt with anyone who smells like Old Spice! (Freudian twist, guess what her dad wears………)
My exgirlfriend was a cosmetician, so I was subject to having my eybrows picked by a tweezer when she felt like it was growing together too much and once she forced me to let her take out some dots on my nose or something, I forgot what they are called, but she was pinching my nose with a piece of cloth dipped in hot water which was pretty uncomfortable and I did not notice any difference afterwards anyway. What I got from that was more compassion for women though, as apparently they subject themselves to this on a regular basis :))
Wherein Sastan explains that women are alien creatures but luckily for you poor shmucks he’s willing to impart his hard won knowledge.
Anonymous: I know that women spend really a lot of time grooming themselves and some of those things are pretty uncomfortable (like my experience with the nose). But call me macho if you will, I still think it is kind of weird if a guy does the same thing. Like I said, using deodorant and stuff like that is ok, but you (I mean a man) should not spend too much time/money on those things. I mean I even shave my armpits because then the sweat does not get stuck between the hairs, which some guys already might consider effeminate, but it takes about 5 seconds to do so while I am shaving anyway. I guess there are two lines – one is being a vagrant – another is being a dandy and one wants to stay in the middle. I cannot say where those lines are exactly, but I can tell it when I see it being crossed and the guy from the video is definitely on the dandy side of the spectrum while your average construction worker, or stereotype construction worker is on the vagrant side.
But that is socially mediated.
High heels, wigs, perfumed powder. Neither masculine nor feminine to wear, unless you specify a time and place.
The idea that Sastan is pushing that hetero-sexual men don’t pay attention to fashion is something that you are actually refuting. You have a fashion sense, and it involves not straying too far from whatever your cohort considers normal.
Hell, the manliest of the male bastions, male professional sports, has running commentary on who has “suit game”.
Anonymous, I’ll give your comment much more credence than it deserves, in order to make a point.
Women are not aliens. They are people. But they do have a very different social status framework, and a very different biology. I don’t have any special knowledge, and I’m not hawking my own advice. I have been reasonably successful with the opposite sex, thanks to years of effort and a couple very kind young ladies who saw potential in me early on, and helped me out. There’s nothing very mysterious or sinister about it.
I’m not really sure what about my previous comment lead to such a negative reaction, unless you are one of the doubtless many people I’ve annoyed on a different subject. If you find anything I said objectionable, do feel free to address it, and I’ll argue the case. Snide ad hominem sarcasm is funny and all, but not why we’re here.
Speaking of makeup, has anyone figured out why in our species it is the females that decorate themselves, whereas in most other species it is the males who decorate themselves, put on displays, and physically compete for the attention of females?
My understanding is that the usual pattern is expected given greater female investment in producing offspring, leading to them being “more choosy”. And human females do seem to be “more choosy” in relationships in general. So why do humans reverse the usual pattern when it comes to decoration?
(While writing this comment, my brain spontaneously generated a “just so” explanation, but I’m curious what evolutionary biologists have said.)
@Anonymous: I think it is largely an accident of culture, although it could very well have biological underpinnings I’m not seeing. There are human cultures in which the men are the peacocks, but for whatever reason they are less successful in modern times.
And of course PUA have discovered that peacocking (that’s literally what they call it) can be an effective individual strategy. It’s not that it doesn’t work, it’s that we don’t usually do it.
HeelBearCub: I guess that the exact position of the two lines is cultural, but are there any cultures where men spend as much resources (time and money) on their looks as women do or even more?
Anonymous: That’s a great question (actually, it comes from the Selfish Gene doesn’t it? 🙂 ). I think the first step would be to find other species who do the same and see what is similar.
My guess would be (disclaimer: I am not a biologist) that what the birds do is to say sort of “look how healthy I am, I am pretty fine even carrying this unnecessary burden of bright, easily-visible-to-predators plumage and other things”. But it is not exactly the same as decorating yourself, you are born with the decorations. In terms of what the birds actually do, they seem to be closer to men. Some of them give food and other things to the females (actually have zero chance at mating without it), the same is true of other animals. Grooming yourself a lot might make you look attractive physically, but it also shows that you spend a lot of resources on yourself. Evolutionarily, women seek strong genes AND a willingness to spend a lot of resources on their offspring from the men. So, while you might make yourself look “healthier” with some grooming, from a certain point it becomes obvious that you are spending too much on yourself. On the other hand, men are not programmed to expect resources from the women, so the fact that women spend a lot of time making themselves look “healthier/more fertile” comes with no penalty of the form “she is too concerned about herself and won’t share enough of her resources”.
@Anonymous: It is almost certainly cultural. As little as 300 years ago, fashion was a huge part of every aristocratic man’s life. Take a look at Louis XIV, for example. In fact, most of what we today associate with women’s fashion, from high heels to stockings to make-up, started out as things exclusively worn by upper class men.
How did we end up like we are today? It’s complicated, but the short version is that after the Renaissance aristocratic women started to adopt many of the fancy clothing and fashions that the men wore to court. Then during the decline of the aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries, the “Great Male Renunciation” occurred and upper class men started wearing plainer clothing, likely to differentiate themselves from the old aristocrats, while women’s fashion stayed more or less the same, and we’ve been like that ever since.
As others have already noted, whether it’s the men or the women who decorate themselves (“peacock” as Marc called it) is largely dependent on which culture and historical period you’re looking at.
As for our own culture. If I had to guess I would suggest that the fact that male’s are expected to be the instigators in a relationship is a large part of it. After all, If a female wants to be courted she must first attract suitors, preferably high-status ones.
A problem with that theory is that the vast majority of women’s fashion work is clearly intended to impress other women, not to attract men.
I don’t know if the court of Louix XIV or any royal court for that matter is a representative case. The lavish dresses seem to serve an entirely different purpose at a court – to attract the attention of the ruler, to get on top of the court hierarchy. A court like that is a world with its own rules. If you observe that chimps do something in a zoo (especially one very different from the wild), it does not necessarily generalize to a property about chimpanzees in general. It would also be silly to say that chimps in that zoo have a different culture (if what they do does not occur in the wild), the more sensible explanation is that their environment is fundamentally different from the natural one. So is the environment of an 18th century court.
I am still a bit skeptical about your (some people here) conviction that whether men decorate themselves more or women do is entirely cultural. I agree that culture surely defines the boundaries and those are not fixed, but I know of no culture where the men would put more effort into decorating themselves more than the women, in other words the order of the boundaries seems to be something more fundamental than just quirks of culture.
And as I mentioned already, I think it is deceptive to antromorphize animal “peacocking” into decorating. The unnecessary decorations peacock males are born with are just there, they cannot prolong or add feathers, all they can do is to be healthy and as for the parade, that is not all that different form what men do. Animals do not really decorate themselves, they cannot do so and they either already are born decorated or not. And as far behaviour goes, birds tend to do more or less the same thing the human males do, in a crude way – they build a nest or give the female a lot of free food to demonstrate both ability to provide and commitment (or at least giving out resources beforehand so that the female can then raise the hatchlings herself).
I don’t think it’s cultural as such. I think makeup on women is economic.
Think of the economic structure of most animals. Females take care of the young, males largely feed themselves and try to mate. Since they do not provide, they have to be pretty. Lions have manes because they don’t hunt.
In human society, usually men do the bulk of the grunt work necessary to feed and raise a family. Some cultures differ, but you will notice an overlap here with cultures where men are more “peacocking”. If you do the work, you don’t have time or inclination to worry about appearance. And furthermore, your mating potential is not determined by appearance. If you don’t do the work, your mating potential is determined by sex appeal.
Obviously, there is a lot of wiggle room here in modern times, as economics have changed much quicker than social mores and customs. But I do think the root of it all is who is expected to work.
I think Anglo-American men’s fashion of the 20th century is actually a kind of world-historical nadir for male adornment and foppishness. So if men today seem “metrosexual” compared to American men of the 1950s, well then, that’s actually not saying much at all. It’s more like a regression to the mean.
Well, I consider using deodorant a matter of respect to other people (especially if you use the public transport) 🙂 But one thing is that and another thing is using cosmetics for smoothness of your skin or whatever and removing hairs from your chest and stomach.
This is an old trope, and I won’t say there might not be some element of historical truth to it, but the real reason female models are tall and slender is that they are essentially animated clothing racks, and clothing looks better on a tall, slender form. It also photographs better on a tall, slender form. As a person who has photographed multiple fashion shows and done professional modeling portfolio photography, I assure you that this isn’t sexism, disguised homosexuality (I’m a flaming heterosexual) or disdain for the True Female Form (see prior parenthetical.) It’s a matter of the laws of optics and geometry and the hardwiring of the human brain. The last element can be overcome with sufficient conditioning: the first two are built into the Universe. As has been observed, the Universe is not obliged to be structured in ways which satisfy anyone’s particular preferences.
This is exactly what I’ve been told by my fashion designer friend. Also, notice that lingerie models have a completely different body type than regular fashion models. It’s all about what makes the garments look good.
Are you saying that the female models are intentionally unattractive so that the clothes look better in comparison and aren’t getting their limelight stolen? 😉
In all seriousness, that’s one of the reasons that fashion models tend not to be “pretty,” yes. There’s a hierarchical continuum thing going on, and it shifts over time. Models go through fads and cycles just like clothing, as depressing and dehumanizing as that sounds. But where the heel meets the runway, the idea is to make people look at the clothes, not the model. If there’s something about the model that distracts from the clothing, it’s a disadvantage.
Note also though that this has a few other effects. First, fashion models don’t tend to be *ugly,* either, and for the exact same reason. It’s distracting. (Plus it might negatively associate with the clothes.) All the models in a particular show will tend to have the same basic facial structure and expression more often than not. That’s not an accident. It’s not purposeful, usually, but it’s not coincidence. The booker knows the client and books models that work well with their current needs.
Even that dead-eyed sneer-stare that runway models all wear is not an accident. It’s kinda-sorta-spontaneous organizing behavior, which then gets reinforced by group pressure and expectation. There are people who get paid, and paid handsomely, to teach runway models to walk. This is so they will walk like all the other runway models, and increase their chances of being booked.
Vaguely curious as to what on earth you think “manly” is , if not that guy. He is the manliest looking he-beast I have ever seen and I want to climb him like a tree and pull his hair at the top.
Only vaguely curious, because I’m expecting you to say Sean Connery. Maybe George Clooney or Don Draper (not Jon Hamm.) Those are the usual suspects in this kind of case.
Yes, I would say Sean Connery (when he was still a bit younger). Clooney also I guess, or Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. I don’t know Draper. I am also under the impression that these are the types that most women are attracted to, rather than the guy from the video. You are not (I assume that you are a woman)?
Lol, I knew it. Heterosexual men who think women should fancy Sean Connery is a thing, for whatever reason. I don’t think you’d find many women these days who would find even the young Sean Connery attractive.
I don’t know why, I guess you read about it somewhere and it gets stuck 🙂 I mean it is a “common knowledge” that women fancy Sean Connery, isn’t it? :)) I think he looked kind of goofy when he was young (but that is probably because the fashion was kind of goofy then by today’s optics) but better when he was 60 or something. So what about Indiana Jones? 🙂 You can hardly go more manly-kind of attractive than Indy, can you? 🙂 I don’t mean Harrison Ford in general, just in the Indiana Jones incarnation. I also know that that my exgirlfriend loved to see that TV show with agent Booth, or something. It was a crime show, I forgot the name, but she was mainly watching it for agent Booth 🙂 That guy also strikes me as vaguely the Sean Connery “tough-but-not-coarse-and-kind-of-elegant” type.
When we’re at it, who represents the type of woman that “everyone knows” men should fancy?
Doesn’t look too bad to me. I mean, it’s TV, so he probably is wearing makeup (as is the nerd), but that hair’s achievable in real life without spending money on anything other than shampoo, conditioner, and a trim every three or four months. I could approximate it myself, modulo the beard and the blond, although the artfully tousled locks wouldn’t stay artfully tousled once I got up from that chair.
Is it necessary to wear makeup on TV? 🙂 Also, basically no grown-up men have absolutely no hair on their chest and stomach, naturally, I mean.
Maybe they just overdid his makeup, I mean the “nerd” does not look like he is wearing any to me, so if he does it is just for the TV “cows look like horses on camera” effect, but the other guy looks almost like Johny Depp in the Pirates of the Carribean.
Yes, it is necessary, because of the lighting.
Marc: I remember that when we shoot a music video with my former band, the director told the singer (who was more often in a close-up than the others) it would be good on the camera if they put some make-up on him (I mean, most of the time, we were painted red blue or green all over the visible parts of our bodies, but there were some shots where we looked “normal” too and there he wanted to use it). I think the result looks worse than if he had put none on, it is clearly visible in the video that he has some eyeliner. It could be a screw-up on the part of those responsible for the make-up (as might be the case in the video above) or maybe I just don’t like the effect, even on camera (actually I don’t like too much eyeliner or makeup for that matter on women either…but it could again be that I just don’t like it when the women are not skilled enough to make it look natural).
“Makeup” is a pretty broad term, and as you point out bad makeup is worse than no makeup. I was thinking mostly of using it to compensate for the washing-out effect of the lights and to reduce shine. Subtle eyeliner could help with that first one, but it’s really more about foundation, highlighting the apples of the cheeks, reducing under-eye darkness and bringing out the lips.
Good makeup, absent F/X or deliberate artistic intent, is like arson: if you do it right, nobody will realize you’ve done anything at all.
Protip: If you’re a makeup wearer, and you’re going to be photographed or be on a lit television set, DO NOT USE YOUR OWN MAKEUP. A lot of “regular” makeup has titanium dioxide in it, which will do bad things under hard lighting. 🙁 Can’t tell you how many times I had to send some aspiring model to the bathroom to wash her makeup off.
Marc: Can’t you just use less light/more dispersed light and a longer exposition (I guess that does not work for video so well, but should work for photos, or is there a problem?)
Tibor: It depends on the situation. Generally speaking, a professional photographer/videographer/lighting artist has a reason they use the lighting configuration they use. Using a softer light, or a less intense one, has tradeoffs, some of which are “purely” technical (e.g., halve the light, double the shutter) and some of which are artistic/technical (e.g. open the aperture more, narrow the depth of field.) and some of which are “purely” artistic (e.g. hard light accentuates flaws but is much more dramatic.)
Ironically, if you want a nice soft image with shallow depth of field, ceteris paribus you have to use LESS light, since the way you do that is to open the aperture, which increases the amount of light entering the camera. It’s almost impossible to take shallow DOF pictures on a bright sunny day unless your camera has crazy fast shutter speed.
And even if you can soften the light, it still won’t completely overcome the washing-out effect, which is partially due to the fact that the lighting is usually fairly narrow-spectrum and cameras have a much lower dynamic range than the human eye. (It’s ludicrous how narrow the dynamic range of even a really good camera is compared to the human eye. Really. It is.) You have to optimize for their best lighting zone which means you have to give up fidelity in other areas.
@Marc Whipple: Well, it sounds like there is a lot to learn about it 🙂 My “photography” (of the landscape when I go hiking) is based on taking as many pictures as I can and some turn out well, few really well, by pure chance (maybe I learned a few basic things to do by trial and error, such as that it is usually nicer to have a detail of something interesting than to try to have everything in the picture)…those I let google “autoimprove” and maybe fiddle with some parameters within the picassa’s framework 🙂 So about as far from actual photography as I can be. But it is interesting to hear something about how it is done properly.
I tend to be a bit obsessive. 🙂
However, you’re doing just fine. Everyone has ten thousand bad pictures in them: you have to take the bad ones before you can start taking good ones consistently. 😉 And if it makes you happy, that is ten times reason enough to do it.
Marc: Just for fun: This is one of those better ones, I think.
This one too, but the motive is maybe a bit kitchy 🙂
Both are from a trip to Romania, by the way.
Every time someone tells me to relax and be myself I want to ask them which of these two mutually contradictory instructions is supposed to take priority.
“Just Be Yourself” means that I do not want to look at someone who feels awkward.
Don’t look awkward.
However you get there bothers me not one bit.
That feel when you are less attractive than the before photo.
Question: Is Donald Trump the Mitt Romney of 2016?
Consider: Mitt Romney was a recent and debatably sincere convert to a lot of conservative positions. He ran predominantly on the message that his business experience would enable him to find solutions others couldn’t.
Mitt Romney regularly polled in the mid 20s in Iowa while a series of conservative candidates shot above him to take the lead, then withered to make way for the next flavour of the month. Meanwhile Romney held a stable and substantial lead in New Hampshire. A similar pattern is emerging for Trump.
The meaningful difference between these situations, and I suspect the reason that this parallel is not drawn more, is that the Republican Establishment liked Romney but hates Trump. Romney was a “moderate” while Trump is an “extremist”.
I suggest however, that the Republican establishment has no meaningful voting base of its own. The people who supported Romney are supporting Trump, and for much the same reasons.
I hypothesise that the split in the Republican party, often portrayed as Tea Party extremists vs Establishment types who want lower taxes but don’t much care about culture wars, is actually a split between religious and non-religious voters. Traditionally establishment candidates have succeeded in winning the non-religious vote, which has created the impression that these voters are more “moderate” than their religious counterparts. But in reality, as Trump has shown, New Hampshire is perfectly willing to support an “extremist” – just a non-religious one.
Of course the implication of this theory, which suggests that the preferences of the Republican elites don’t much matter, is that Trump could very realistically win. Which is possibly another reason why people don’t like to consider it.
What I find absolutely entertaining is how many journalists are calling Trump a racist fascist. There was a period in history where this really worked for turning off voters, I wonder where is it today, does this really turn of voters, or they don’t give a damn, or they actually vote for candidates whom the press call so, because they want to give the middle finger to the press? I mean, did this conscoiusness of actively being opposed to the media and the games they play – largely the status-play mindfuckery the media employs by always calling the outgroup misoginist, racist, sexist etc. – develop already so that it would be an important voter base?
I mean, this should be coming sooner or later, I don’t think the masses will never wise up to the games the press is playing with them, but is it there already?
Or does it take a decade or two until this type of consciousness develops: was called racist by the media -> is opposed to the media -> MY GUY?
I mean, they cannot not care about culture wars, because they can ignore gays for example, but they cannot really ignore the anti-white turn of things, they cannot really ignore constantly getting shamed for their race or inner cities becoming no-go zones for them, are white voters in the USA really supposed to put up with being the officially hated race forever?
After they’ve called Romney, Boehner, GW Bush, McCain etc. racist/extreme/bigoted/hateful, those insults Lose their credibility. Being “moderate” clearly buys you no quarter, might as well let your id fly.
I hit this point a long time ago. The minute someone is called a racist, I figure they’re probably onto something good, if it’s scaring the progs that badly. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any bottom to Trump, but I am having my fill of schadenfreude watching him bulldoze the media. Those tears are so delicious. I’d almost vote for him just to post a “suck it” to the media, the political parties, and the rest of the elites. Too bad about those pesky principles.
“The minute someone is called a racist, I figure they’re probably onto something good, if it’s scaring the progs that badly.”
Reversed stupidity is not intelligence.
That’s true, but I don’t think it’s the argument being made. The argument being made, or at least the argument that I find interesting that I think might be being made, starts with the assumption that everyone is more or less equally well-intentioned, and makes the observation that some political views are emotionally appealing, while others are emotionally repellent. Since an emotionally appealing view will be more popular than it ought to be on merit, and an emotionally repellent view will be less popular than it ought to be on merit, when looking for which is the more meritous view you should be inclined toward emotionally repellent views over emotionally appealing views.
This is the theoretical argument for favoring right wing ideas. The left wing version goes like: assume that some people have good intentions and some have bad intentions, and observe that some views are emotionally appealing while others are emotionally repellent. Unless you have some reason to believe that the emotionally repellent views actually have positive consequences, you should assume that the emotionally appealing views are supported by the people with good intentions, and the emotionally repellent views are supported by the people with bad intentions, and so prefer the former.
Each argument makes different assumptions, and neither of them do I find particularly convincing, but I like the former one as an equally implausible counter to the more well-known second.
I don’t see it as reversed stupidity. I see it as having been vetted by people with every incentive to find flaw in it, and they had nothing, so they call it “racist”.
Remember the old lawyer chestnut? “When you have the facts, pound the facts, when you have the law, pound the law. If you have neither, pound the table.”
That’s how political discourse works in the US. If you have the facts, you concentrate there. If you have the process, you concentrate there. If you have no leg to stand on whatsoever, and you’re a leftist, you call the opposition a racist. It’s a public admission that you have no argument, so when I see it, my flash read on the issue is that it must be without superficial flaw. Of course, further investigation sometimes reveals flaws either deeper than simple analysis would reveal, or in a liberal blind spot that they won’t notice. But it’s a handy rule of thumb.
“Fascist” or “Racist” are just dog-whistles for being to the right of Bill Clinton in the same way that calling someone “Socialist” is a dog-whistle for being to the left of him. The words as they are typically used don’t actually signify anything beyond tribal affiliation.
Aside from that I agree with you completely.
Fascist, I’ll grant. Virtually no one is genuinely proposing anything that’s on all fours, or even on three out of all fours, with early 20th century fascism. Socialism is a little trickier given that democratic socialism exists and has proponents. But racists certainly exist and to claim that it is only ever used as an empty referent for tribal signaling is just silly.
Speaking of signaling though, “progs” tells you just about everything you need to know.
If one word can tell you everything you need to know, you’re smarter than me.
And I never said there were no racists. There are. But one need not call them racists to refute their hilariously bad arguments. So, when one sees the epithet “racist”, one can assume that it is not being used to identify racism, but to cast aspersions. Furthermore, if there were an argument that refuted the assertion at hand, it would be used. As I said, this isn’t a raygun, but it is a handy rule of thumb.
I think you misunderstand both the republican coalition and the politics of Trump, but I have to go to work. More later.
You’re missing the critical bits where Mitt Romney was a basically nice guy who didn’t go out of his way to make enemies, and an experienced state Governor as well as a businessmen.
The United States basically doesn’t elect Presidents who haven’t proven themselves as Vice-Presidents, Governors, Senators, or victorious Generals of the United States Army. Not everyone believes that this sort experience is essential, but enough do that it would be exceedingly difficult for anyone without it to win an outright majority in the primaries – and harder still to build a winning coalition in a brokered convention. Going out of your way to make enemies when you don’t have to, pushes that into nigh-impossible territory.
If you’re going to argue that Trump will be the first in this regard, you can’t do it by analogy to Mitt Romney.
also posting things about how “Jesus was white,” etc
Oh sweet holy divine, that’s completely wrong. Yes, Jesus was Caucasian and yes, Jesus was white (because whites are Caucasian though Caucasian does not mean White).
So are the other Semitic peoples, North Africans, and a good swathe of the Middle East Caucasians. I’m not going to discuss the exact shade of skin colour but Christ probably looked a lot more like the Syrian refugees or at the very least one of the southern Europeans who get classed as “brown not white”, e.g. dagoes, spics, etc.
Your friend is falling into the trap that Lewis (and can I find the exact words when I want them?) calls “Christ and – “. Once you get to the point of “Christianity and Something Else”, you’re in danger because gradually more and more of the Christianity will get leached out and the Something Else will become the focus of idolatry (like American civic religion involving the national flag in the church sanctuary, thinking retaining “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance avoids idolatry, etc.)
I’d send your friend a link to art of Ethiopian gospels and a reminder about “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”.
Your friend needs to decide which is more important to them and which they really believe in: personal ethnic national identity, or the salvation of their soul. If they prefer White Tribalism to “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”, then that is a choice. No man can serve two masters.
What she said. I’m noticing a fallacy of the excluded middle, where rejecting Social Justice War leads people to jump straight to white nationalism.
Trump is surprisingly popular among the religious wing of the GOP despite not being very religious himself.
I have a very red tribe facebook friend who is also a very serious Christian, hardcore Trump supporter, and, recently, a proponent of white identity politics (basically railing against Black Lives Matter and the like, but also posting things about how “Jesus was white,” etc.). I think this is the confluence which make up Trump voters–precisely not the people who voted for Mitt Romney (moderate, relatively secular, New England-ish Republicans) and precisely the people whose staying home in 2012 (working class, religious, xenophobic Republicans) probably cost Romney the election.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and a lot of the people who push ethnic identity politics also push things like getting people fired for opposing gay marriage.
Okay, so why is Trump doing better in New Hampshire than Iowa?
Trump is the anti-Romney. The base was never at all excited for Romney; he was an establishment-friendly compromise candidate, much like Kerry in ’04. He’s an ex-businessman turned career politician, unlike Trump, who doesn’t give off the “politico” vibe at all. Romney comes across as very patrician, and no one without the last name Bush has deeper ties to the GOP social elite, while Trump is an abrasive, nouveau-riche brawler who’s as much an alien in the Hamptons as Snoop Dogg.
Despite the fact that one is usually wrong when one predicts that “it’s different this time,” I really do think Trump is a different kind of candidate than we have really seen before, for a variety of reasons, including his “reality tv star” quality I described in another OT.
Another important difference I’d like to suggest here: I think he may be the first de facto “white identity politics” candidate. I’ve noticed a very strong correlation between Trump supporters and people who not only want to keep the Muslims and Mexicans out, but who also feel strong antipathy to “Black Lives Matter” and the like. They also tend to feel antipathy toward feminism, I think, so it may not just be a white thing, but ultimately I think it’s about defending a patriarchal, Christian, European, and, yes, white cultural heritage that they see slipping away in the US due to immigration, the “War on Christmas,” etc. etc.
People wonder why the “racist” label keeps failing to stick to Trump no matter what outrageous anti-immigrant thing he says, but that’s because it’s precisely the people who are most tired of the race card who support Trump.
Personally, I am in favor of open borders and hope Trump loses the nomination, but at the same time, I can also understand the sense of being sick of racial identity politics.
With feminism, I wish there were no feminism and no MRA, but, rather, one gender equality movement. But, given that feminism isn’t going anywhere, MRA strikes me as an understandable reaction to it. Similarly, I’d rather there were no black identity politics, hispanic identity politics, and no white identity politics, but if other groups are going to keep pushing the black identity politics and hispanic identity politics they can’t be surprised if this ultimately results in more white identity politics.
Trump is basically the candidate of the white, working class male who feels his culture and place in society are under attack–and not without good reason. Feminists and racial theorists would say it is right and appropriate that white, patriarchal, European Christian-centric culture should wane, given that it has so dominated the past, but I also don’t see why we should expect them to go without a fight.
Remember Cliven Bundy — the guy who wouldn’t pay grazing fees, then refused to follow court orders to remove his cattle from public lands, and then tried to start an armed insurrection when the government started to seize his cattle?
I seem to remember that he had a lot, if not outright support, at least sympathy in the mainstream right. Then during the media circus he said something along the lines of “black people were better off under slavery” and after that the number of people speaking up in his favor seemed to drop off precipitously.
So I’m not sure it is the case that the racism card has lost all its power, rather it seems like Trump is very good at knowing how far he can go without alienating his supporters (if certainly alienating a lot of non-supporters).
Trump knows how to bait the accusation while retaining plausible deniability. He’s playing the media like a matador. Just watch the way he remains calm and collected while the likes of Scarborough go off on him.
I can’t stand the guy, but my original “lucky amateur” hypothesis is quickly giving way to “secret genius”.
I think you’re making the same mistake many of Trump’s opponents are. Which is that it simply is not always about identity politics. Most people who are uncomfortable with or opposed to Muslim immigration or especially Syrian refugees are not opposed because they are racists or religious bigots; they’re opposed because they’re afraid (rationally or not) of some such immigrants and refugees being terrorists. Similarly, many of those working-class Republicans opposed to Mexican immigration aren’t racists (many are, but many aren’t) — they’re just looking out for their own perceived self-interest.
When you dismiss, as the establishment has, these concerns as “oh, you’re just racists and bigots”, you create a hole for someone like Trump. There are more nuanced positions on these issues than Trump’s, but no one with any public exposure is taking them. According to the establishment, either you’re all for taking refugees, or you’re a hard-hearted racist bigot.
So yes, Trump is the candidate of white Christian identitarians. But he’s also the candidate of a lot of other people who are neither identitarians nor people who think we must avoid at all costs the appearance of being such.
I didn’t dismiss these concerns as being just about “racism” or “bigotry,” nor did I say that only white identity people were interested in supporting Trump. I’m just saying strikes me as the first candidate to sort of explicitly court the white identitarian vote.
I didn’t say you dismissed those concerns as racism or bigotry, I said the establishment does.
I don’t think Trump is courting the white identitarian vote. I think he’s courting those who have positions which have been unfairly lumped in with “white identitarian”, “racist”, and “bigoted” positions by the establishment. He’s also going to get the actual white identitarians, but there really aren’t that many of them; they’re not a base. He also plays to plenty of genuine bigots who aren’t white identitarians also (that is, they’re bigots, but they’re not bigots first and foremost), but he’s not the first to play to that crowd.
Polls have been generally garbage in recent years.
That said, let’s look at a recent Iowa poll.
The White Christians and Tea Party types prefer Cruz to Trump 34-24 and 45-26. These are the largest gaps on there. By contrast, “Liberals” prefer Trump 28-8 (Trump’s support seems to hover close to 25 across the groups surveyed). I believe I saw another poll with similar results, but can’t find it now. It’s not the Christians and conservatives boosting Trump; it’s everybody else.
If you think white identity is a big part of Trump’s appeal, do you think that he will do relatively poorly among black voters? I think he will do relatively well.
Have accusations of racism against Mexicans or Arabs (or Chinese) ever stuck to anyone? That just isn’t Racism.
I don’t think white identity is part of trumps appeal.
Visited Stormfront lately?
“Black of Stormfront said Trump’s rhetoric has been a boon to white nationalists. “He has sparked an insurgency and I don’t think it’s going to go away,” he told POLITICO of Trump. Black, who said his site receives a million unique visitors a month, said Trump has helped drive a steady increase in traffic in recent months – including 30-40 percent spikes when the businessman makes news on immigration or Muslims – that is compelling him to upgrade his servers.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/donald-trump-white-supremacists-216620#ixzz3uLehgqdT
I’m no Trump fan, and I think a lot of his appeal does come from racism/white identity. And I think Trump is bringing quite a few toxic ideas into political discourse. But StormFront is so fringe to be not relevant. Its a white nationalist site bordering on Neo-NAZI, I assume they say racist things there . The internet is a big place and at some point you can nut-pick any crazy idea.
Trump’s stated opinions and his mainstream supporters are bonkers enough.
“Black of Stormfront”
“But StormFront is so fringe to be not relevant.”
It’s Alexa rating is higher than, Cato Online , the Von Mies Institute, american spectator, taki’s magazine.
But you’re right. There are hundreds of other Nazi sites. Problem is the comment sections are more and more indistinguishable from those of Breitbart and the Daily Caller. It’s the latter two that are moving Stormfront-wards.
I realize this does not fit your preferred narrative but take a look.
@ anon and Theo Jones
White nationalists liking Trump is not the same thing as Trump being a white nationalist, or white nationalism being a part of his appeal. I also resent your back-handed accusation of being a neo-Nazi, though concede that such rhetoric is par for the course.
Now with all that out of the way, I think that Nybbler has already hit upon the chief driver of Trump’s appeal. Namely that the rank and file Red-Tribers are sick of being accused of being neo-Nazis for not being 100% on board with progressive’s latest hobby-horse.
If thinking that Obama has made a complete hash of the Syrian situation or that the official who approved Tashfeen Malik’s green card ought to be castigated for their failure makes one a stone-cold racist than so be it. The establishment obviously has nothing to offer us so let’s Immanentize the eschaton by voting for Trump. 😉
I do think white identity is part of Trump’s appeal for some people, though I think xenophobia may be a bigger factor, and I’d also predict he’ll get more black votes than the average GOP candidate (which is not saying much), for a couple of reasons:
Most importantly, a lot of the jobs Central American immigrants are “taking away” from Americans are jobs black people used to do. This is extremely noticeable in, for example, my hometown of New Orleans: cooks, waiters, housekeepers, construction workers used to nearly all be black; now they are almost all Hispanic.
Second, despite voting democrat, blacks tend to be surprisingly conservative, culturally-speaking. This should theoretically help out any GOP candidate, but in practice, I think it has to be one that appeals a particular kind of African American conservatism…which relates to a third possible factor: blacks gravitate towards leaders with strong, often flamboyant personalities (I think Ben Carson is highly representative of what I’d consider the African American flavor of conservatism in his attitudes and stances, though not at all in terms of speaking style).
I know it’s a stereotype, but black leaders have a different sort of self-presentation, the stereotype of which is the black preacher. Obama, ironically, is almost the polar opposite of this; had he not actually been black, he probably would have gotten fewer black votes than Bill Clinton. But then, it may be precisely because he was the first black candidate who, frankly, didn’t act like a black candidate that he was able to win a general election in a majority white nation.
Trump is a very flamboyant, animated, arguably “masculine” speaker who contrasts strongly with most of the other candidates, who tend to come off as somewhat whiney, wimpy, mincing, mealymouthed, etc. I think this has a general sort of appeal, but maybe even more to African Americans than average.
It sounds like we agree on the basic facts. Maybe everything else is arguing about words. As you said, there is a difference between being a White Nationalist and appealing to them. But if a candidate made rather focused appeals, I think that blacks would notice and be repulsed. I think it is simpler to say that his campaign appeals to nationalists, which just happens to include White Nationalists. Of course you can call nationalism or xenophobia “identity politics”; I just object to calling it “white identity.”
Though I disagree with HlynkaCG that white identity is not a part of Trump’s appeal for some voters, I agree with him that that is not the same as saying Trump is a white nationalist candidate.
I certainly don’t think Trump thinks of himself as a white nationalist candidate. I think Trump is a narcissist and assumes that he can be a big success at whatever he does just by using his impeccable intuition and judgment. This leads him to say some very un-pc things which appeal to the white nationalists, who think he is going to stand up for their interests, if they don’t actually think he is one of them.
Very ironically, Trump’s appeal to white nationalists might have a lot in common with his appeal to African Americans: both tend to like a “no nonsense” attitude, blacks wish for a return to the days when they didn’t have to compete with Hispanics for jobs, and white nationalists wish for a return to the days when black people, who speak English and are culturally American, did the menial jobs now done by culturally foreign Central Americans instead of being drug dealers or welfare queens, as the stereotype goes (some white nationalists may claim to want to live apart from non-whites altogether, but how many of them want to pick up garbage, pick fruit, and make beds for a living?).
Donald Trump isn’t Mitty Romney; he’s Pat Buchanan.
Yeah, with his anti-immigration, populist stance he is kind of this year’s Pat Buchanan. If Trump wins can we have Buchanan actually be the president?
I think he’s Silvio Berlusconi, but that could just be me.
That’s my take as well.
Why don’t Rationalists have a gigantic hard-on for the philosophy of Ruth Millikan? Her name does not appear on LW. She proposed an evolutionary, biological account of language (and cognition) and created actual tools one can use for these analytical purposes. Isn’t this “your job” as well? Her primary tool being the “proper function”. Only copied things (replicators or things that get replicated) have proper functions, and the proper function is the whatever reason why it gets copied. The result: Darwin wasn’t wrong about teleology: copied things inherently have teleofunctions, while non-copied things not.
My take on Millikan: https://dividuals.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/copying-is-everything/
How many of these comments have to be made?
“Why don’t rationalists like x? It fits in these few ways, so you should be totally into it. The fact that everyone doesn’t loudly talk about how much they like it indicates some sort of problem with the community in general, or they would already be talking about this great thing.”
Maybe they don’t talk about this particular person/issue because there is a gigantic set of things to talk about through their philosophical lens.
Never heard of her.
If you think she might appeal to people there I’d suggest making a post on lesswrong with the highlights.
Since LW is based on community submissions the answer to “why isn’t there something about x” may be as simple as “nobody has posted about x”
I heard a talk by her about philosophy of language years ago and only remember not being particularly impressed.
Having read your article, I don’t see what the big deal is. Of course you take an individual, take some population to which it belongs, and then identify traits that this population has undergone selection for. You can then call “acting in accordance with those traits” the individual’s telos if you want. Why is this interesting? What am I supposed to do with this notion of a telos?
These telea are not basic and are not the building blocks of further explanations. I therefore don’t see how this is a rescue of Aristotelianism in a meaningful sense.
The claim that this bridges the fact-value gap is, of course, utter nonsense. There is absolutely no reason why I should care about what my group was selected for. I also have a strong feeling that you’re forgetting the whole adaption executor/fitness maximiser divide.
My take on it is that rationalists are skeptical of ad hoc teleological explanations because they trained themselves to take extra care to distinguish the map from the territory. Arguments that go something like “everything has a “proper function”, and that of a horse is to carry riders” strike me as too stupid to bother engaging. Objects have “proper functions” that they were “selected for”? No they don’t. Things just are. If they have properties that had developed due to selection in the past, these can be discussed on their own terms. See the whole of evolutionary biology etc.
Teleology is extremely suspect, and I would want a much stronger reason to take it seriously than an obviously self-serving justification of a “proper function” used as window dressing for a bunch of tired and stupid “hard truths” like the proper place of womenfolk. To my taste, LW-style rationalism is already way overdoing it with evolutionary psychology, but there at least there’s an attempt to carefully distinguish between the original adaptation and its current desirability (see: “Adaptation-Executers, not Fitness-Maximizers”). What you describe looks, at least on the face of it, like evolutionary psychology dumbed down really hard, to a form so nakedly self-serving and epistemologically unsound that rationalists, mercifully enough, would be unlikely to treat it with respect.
I think first of all you should try to separate the professional level of how Millikan engaged with it and how I more amateurishly use her thought for more social-political purposes, I am no a pro. On that pro level, this is map-teleology, it is all about how something works and not what it really is, proper functions are all map. The point is, it is a correct map. How would a horse breeder define his job if he could not say I try to make better horses but sometimes they are worse? What would be then then purpose of his job? How could he determine what horse is better? Map-terrain divides don’t mean teleology has to be in the terrain, it can be just a nice accurate map. So that in itself does not dismiss teleology. Rather teleology gets dismissed because there is an Enlightenment tradition to dismiss it.
Second, on my own more amateurish level I was a traditionalist or antimodernist far before I saw Millikan’s thought. I simply understand on an instinctive level that everybody and everything has a proper place, and we would have realized it long ago, or rather, would have kept this pre-modern knowledge of it, if only we would not have fattened people’s egos by feeding them fairy tales about how autononomous and self-determined they are so now they are too vain to accept it. A humble person does not try to follow his own will, he tries to conform his will to a greater goal outside himself. So I already knew this, the proper functions coming from copying merely told me the mechanism how. You check what you were selected for, and then you can be grateful because it gives you a goal, gives you something you can conform your will to. As DR has put it here: https://darwinianreactionary.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/the-shakers-deathwish-values-and-autonomy/ autonomy is only a pose anyway, we all are heteronomous, just some admit it, some not. So for me this all was self-evident anyway, Millikan merely gave a potential mechanism for it.
Anyway, try to separate the two. Millikan is no trad, I figure a Connecticut professor must be a 101% perfect liberal anyway. She just have a very good mechanism for functionality. Which can be interpreted in a trad way but perhaps in other ways too.
Teleology is in the map insofar as humans, as goal-directed agents, have purposes. This is how our purpose-ascriptions to artifacts work: They are parasitical on the intentions of the creating agents. This has nothing at all to do with selection processes like evolution that are not agents.
What created these agents and why would lower levels of agency, created by the same process not have lower levels of teloses? A purpose is not something complicated, it is just a thing’s function and if describing the function of a thing leads to correct predictions, like describing the function of the heart to pump blood and delivery oxygen to cells leads to the correct prediction of what happens when it does not pump, then talking about a function is a good map. A purpose does not have to some complicated conscious plan or something, it is just a role to play in some machine, it can be e.g. an ecological function e.g. what is the ecological function of carrion-eaters.
A purpose does not have to some complicated conscious plan or something,
I think this point really needs to be hammered hard, given how many people I’ve seen saying things like “Lol you believe in teleology, I guess you think that the sun gives off light because it wants to.”
@ TheDividualist & The original Mr. X:
Yes, there is certainly a real sense in which non-conscious entities exhibit goal-directed behavior. And if you want to call that a teleology, you can.
The dispute is whether the teleological explanation is fundamental or not.
An acorn in some sense “strives” to develop into an oak: it pursues the goal of developing into an oak. But through scientific analysis, we learn that the acorn in no sense acts as a whole in its striving toward this goal. Every individual atom in the acorn moves entirely independently; it just looks like the whole thing has a purpose in the human sense.
The growth of the acorn in the oak can be explained completely without reference to purpose or goals, only inexorable physical motion. The “goal” is an extraneous “layer of explanation” to make it easier to grasp for the human mind, by analogizing to the human capacity for conscious striving.
Aristotle, on the other hand, believed in universal teleology—and he was very clear that it if this were not so, he didn’t understand how the acorn could “always, or for the most part” grow into an oak. He thought that the random motion ought to result in a random result.
He thought that the random motion ought to result in a random result
Well it would. Teleology is just the tendency to produce a certain range of outcomes; no teleology, no causal regularity.
@ The original Mr. X:
You either misunderstand Aristotle or you misunderstand the reductionistic account of teleology. I don’t know which one.
But they’re not the same. Aristotle was not a reductionist: he believed that macroscopic entities really do act as wholes exhibiting “top-down” causation. He believed that the regularity cannot be explained by “bottom-up” efficient causation alone.
The reductionists believe that final causation is unnecessary; to fully explain the motions of things, we can appeal to efficient causation alone. Aristotle, obviously, did not believe this. The reductionists believe that a tree is just a name for a certain collection of particles; it has no intrinsic essence. Aristotle did not believe this.
You can’t be both. Which one are you (if either)?
I think you’re conflating final and formal causes. Even if you could somehow prove that a tree is nothing but a collections of particles, that wouldn’t disprove teleology, since the particles themselves would still exhibit teleological behaviour.
@ The original Mr. X:
Teleology, for Aristotle, is not just a “name” for a certain pattern of behavior.
It’s a real, fundamental principle active in the world; it can’t be reduced to anything else. It’s not a name for anything else, or just a different way of speaking.
No one disagrees with the teleology in the weak nominalistic/reductionistic sense. They disagree with it in the strong “intrinsic forms / intrinsic purposes” sense.
If all you disagree with is the latter, there is no argument.
It’s possible that The original Mr. X is working from an understanding of teleology similar to that David S. Oderberg outlines in his paper Teleology: Organic and Inorganic (CTRL+F for the word “teleology” and click on the “full text” link for the article).
I think very relevant here is what Michael Huemer calls the “Atomistic-Subjectivist Theory of Composition” (I keep linking Huemer, oddly; I don’t want to give the impression I agree with him more than I do).
This theory says that composite objects do not, strictly speaking, exist. Or, at least, they only exist in the mind. The composite object “tree” is only a form of perception on the part of the mind of the atomic particles that make up reality. The existence of the tree as an entity has exactly the same metaphysical status as the fact that it is brown.
This does not mean that the tree’s existence is not an “objective fact”, at least in (for instance) Ayn Rand’s sense of “objective”. It is objectively true that when you look at a certain collection of particles, you will see it as a tree—and as brown.
Very closely related is the denial of the primary-secondary quality distinction. Which is the idea that some qualities of objects (like extension and weight) are “real” and “intrinsic”, while others (like smell and color) are “illusory” and “subjective”. Now, the Objectivist theory—which is what I am most familiar with—says that all qualities are “subjective” in the sense that they exist in the mind, but at the same time they are not “illusions”. They are the form in which the mind knows reality. And in that sense, all qualities are objective and “really real”.
Now, you can see on this theory that the concept of “intrinsic” teleology is completely invalid. There are no intrinsic composite objects in which goals can inhere.
Mainstream philosophy of science does not, of course, accept Objectivism. But they do accept the Atomistic-Subjectivist Theory of Composition. So teleology can at best be a name or a form of awareness of the movements of little particles.
As for the essay you linked, I really could not tell whether he interpreted teleology as something fundamental, or simply a “higher level” view of the non-teleological facts, which is completely reducible to those facts. That’s the frustrating thing about this topic.
Aristotle clearly took teleology too far, even into unliving physics, the issue is that the Enlightenment over-corrected, taking it out even from places it belongs to.
The problem with the acorn is, that a complete and proper explanation of its behavior and anatomy requires functionality, like how the testa part contains the food for the embryo part and so on.
A radical unteleological explanation would be something static like anatomy, because any activity or behavior, in biology, is usually understood in the terms of function and that function is selected-for, through copying.
This is really the insight here. A star also has behavior or activity, like emitting heat and light, but it has no function because it is not selected-for through copying.
It is almost impossible to think about medicine without resorting to functionality. Without focusing on what the liver does, we don’t even know why is it bad to have a malfunctioning liver.
Every explanation is meant for the human mind. A good explanation is simply one that offers more understanding and more prediction for the mind. Does function help in understanding the liver better and predict the outcomes of liver damage better? Obviously yes.
I think it is largely just the Enlightenment over-reaction to teleology that creates this kind of resistance against it. If we had no historical layers of philosophy, nothing but our current view of science, we would obviously explain biology in the terminology of functions, not having this inherited hostility to teleology.
Another reason there is an inherited hostility to teleology is, yes, it can be used for right-wing purposes. The reason is simply that teleology is at odd with autonomy. I think this is the core reason for being prejudiced against it – it really does not help having self-determined valued if you think many parts of you, and perhaps you as a whole, have heteronomous, pre-determined functions. But again, if we did not have a history of philosophy, if we had nothing but our current understanding of science, we would not come up with the classic Kantian idea of autonomy really. It is quite incompatible. At best we would say that humans have a far broader possible range of behavior, and a choice over those behaviors, like how virtually any animal who can reproduce is compelled to try to, while humans can conscious choose to remain celibate. But this is not the same as autonomy. It is more like consciously fighting some uphill battle with some of your built-in functions. Certainly people who chose to be celibate, or tried fasting, or something similar, felt that battle.
I don’t think a description of an acorn or a liver requires functionality. But it certainly aids in understanding, and I do find it slightly annoying to always have to qualify to someone who points out that evolution does not literally have a purpose that no, it doesn’t, but that “feature X has the purpose Y” is an intuitive shorthand for “feature X bestows Darwinian fitness, it does this via having the property Y, which enables the organism to more successfully propagate its genes”.
Teleology, for Aristotle, is not just a “name” for a certain pattern of behavior.
It’s a real, fundamental principle active in the world; it can’t be reduced to anything else. It’s not a name for anything else, or just a different way of speaking.
I know that; but your example of reductionism — “There isn’t a tree, it’s just a collection of particles with no intrinsic essence” — is an example of reductionism concerning formal, not final, causes.
Are you thinking of something like “The tree as a whole doesn’t do anything, and if it seems to, that’s just the aggregate of what the atoms do”? I’d argue that even that claim (if we accept it) doesn’t disprove teleology, but rather just pushes it down to the level of the atoms.
Or I guess you could go all occasionalist and say “No, there’s no such thing as teleology, it’s just that God keeps intervening to push atoms around and bring about certain effects.” For some reason though not many people here seem willing to do that.
@Vox in atomistic-subjectivism, if primary and secondary qualities would be accepted, goal or function would be roughly tertiary, it is less obvious than smell which dogs can detect better than humans, it takes some investigation and thinking, but we can figure out eventually. The point is, if secondaries are accepted as real, then functions can be too, granted, even “less real” than color or smell, but if “realness” depends on predictional reliablity and the same wavelength produces the same color, then if a thing has a function, we can reliably predict what happens when it malfunctions. Is debugging or troubleshooting or healing as an activity less reality-oriented than determining the color of a peachy-pink shirt?
Of course it is just particles with no “inherent” purpose, no question about that. But if saying certain way particles come together forms a heart is something useful and sensible, then saying something about its function is, too.
“Inherent purposiveness” on a particle level would be very wrong. That would be even worse than Edward Feser territory. But function as a part of an explanation or model or map of a thing that was copied and selected-for? Makes perfect sense.
Then you shouldn’t say things like “The result: Darwin wasn’t wrong about teleology”. The word “wrong” applies to territory, not map. A map can be misleading, nonuseful, etc., but it can’t be wrong. To say “Darwin wasn’t wrong about teleology” communicates that you are making a statement about the territory, not the map.
If all you’re doing is presenting a concept, and then informing us that you will be referring to that concept with a particular term, you’re making a statement about map, but making it sound like it’s about territory by using the word “wrong”, and by using a term that already has a meaning.
To illustrate the problem with your post, I’m going to replace the word “telos” with “smergle”.
Now, what exactly is the point of posting this? What value is added to the world by informing us that Millikan has chosen to refer to the reason something is copied as “smergle”?
Clearly, the intent is to smuggle in all the meaning that people have attached to “telos” by first acting like you’re simply defining a term, but then using a term that already has a definition.
Also, it’s wrong to say that copied things inherently have smergle; you have defined smergle in terms of why things get copied, and the reason a thing is copied is external to that thing, so smergle is external to the thing.
We’ve defined smergle as being the reason something is copied. So, whatever reason the breeder has for breeding the horses, is the smergle of the horses. If the horse breeder were to define his job in terms of smergle, such a definition would be tautological and vacuous. If horses with the most smergle are bred, then whatever horses he breeds are, by definition, the best horses simply by virtue of the fact that he bred them.
But, of course, horse breeders don’t explain their jobs in terms of smergle. They define their jobs in terms of other goals, such as having the fastest horses. Whatever horses display traits that suggest their offspring will be the fastest racehorses will be bred, so those horses have the most smergle. But adding the concept of “smergle” adds nothing to this explanation. The most direct explanation is to simply talk about speed, and leave smergle out of it.
How does smergle help him? If “better” is defined as “having more smergle”, and “smergle” is defined as “being bred”, then rather than breeding horses because they are better, horses are better because he breeds them. Now he is unable to base his breeding decisions based on which horse is “better”, because he doesn’t know which are better until he breeds them.
You have yet to give an example of smergle being a useful map.
No, it gets dismissed because it’s a tool for people to pretend that they have derived ought from is.
Saying that everyone has a proper place, and it’s vain to not act according to what someone else tells you to do is verging on apologia for fascism.
Everyone follows their own will. If they work towards a greater goal, it is because it is their will to do so. You are presenting submission as being a good in itself which, again, is a major plank of fascism.
See, now we’re getting to the meet of it. You started off by defining smergle. Now all of a sudden smergle is telling you how to live your life. How did that happen? How do we get from “this is what smergle is” to “Smergle is a greater goal that everyone should submit their will to”??? That’s a huge leap. And that’s why people are so adverse to the word “telos”. By simply using that word, you think your philosophy to be established as the Greater Goal. You’re equivocating between map and territory; if smergle is merely map, then it can do nothing to speak towards Greater Goal. But if it’s territory, then you can’t simply assert that something is smergle by simply declaring that to be the definition. The word “telos” is used to trick people into thinking that a normative basis has been established.
“First, defined ‘telos’ to mean X.”
Well, words are a social conventions, so if you want to define “telos” a particular way, I guess I can’t argue …
“Okay, ‘telos’ means what should be followed, so we should follow X.”
Wait a second …
If I don’t want something to conform my will to, I have no reason for being grateful. And if I do want something to conform my will to, then that means that it is my will to conform to it, which means that I’m still following my will.
Why should I pick smergle as my Greater Goal, rather than, say, maximizing global utility? What does following smergle even mean? Does it mean having any many children as possible? Living a life as similar to my ancestors as possible?
WTF? Not only maps can be wrong, only maps can be wrong, the territory cannot be wrong. The map can be wrong by showing you a river where there is a desert. But the desert isn’t wrong for being there, it just *is*.
OK, telos taboo, smergle it is. Smergle is external to the copied thing, but the copied thing’s behavior can be interpreted as functional for the smergle, or if you want to taboo function too, the external smergle makes the behavior of the thing more intelligible, even when smergle is external and not physical part of the thing, it is so closely related to its behavior that in a proper map it is painted right beside the thing. If the smergle of the heart is to carry oxygen rich blood to the tissues, while it is not written physically of it, of course it should be written next to the picture of a heart in the medicine textbooks. Otherwise we have no chance of understand what happens when there is a heart *malsmergle*.
The horse breeder has a conscious smergle, like wanting to have fast horses. Evolution is an unconscious optimizer, sorry, smerglizer. (Oh, it seems we have to taboo Rationalists favorite word, to optimize, too. Too close to teleology.) In the case of the conscious smergler, like the horse beeder, it can be anything. You can just talk about speed, but you gotta add that the horse breeders smergle is having fast horses.
>You have yet to give an example of smergle being a useful map.
Medicine, predicting the effects of a liver malfunction, malspergle.
>No, it gets dismissed because it’s a tool for people to pretend that they have derived ought from is.
Precisely, that is the point. Why is that such a bad thing? Besides it being an Enlightenment tradition, but why are you so sure they got that one right? Where should the oughts come from anyway, are they daimonic or come from some kind of unaided bullshit pure reason or similar bullshit of autonomous choice? Biological oughts are at least coming from reality, but those are purely philosophical fictions?
>Saying that everyone has a proper place, and it’s vain to not act according to what someone else tells you to do is verging on apologia for fascism.
Fascism is just one case of anti-modern behavior, and not even a very clear case of it. It is just used as an insult. https://dividuals.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/no-such-thing-as-fascism/
Let’s be fair and call it antiliberalism, with F. just being one form of it.
I can turn it around and say if you really like the fiction of autonomy and the modern and liberal values that come from it, you can be irrationally hostile to teleology even when it is potentially real.
>Everyone follows their own will.
taboo will. We can see behavior, not will.
>You are presenting submission as being a good in itself which, again, is a major plank of fascism.
Come in, this is really disingenuous. Then everything is fascist from Islam to Samurai ethics. In reality they all are antiliberal or anti-autonomous or pro-submission. There is a HUGE circle of these antiliberal views and fascism is just one small version of it, and if you use it too much it looks like you are going for emotional effect. Even the best steelman of this position would be saying that fascism is a thoroughly modernized view of antiliberalism, like how Samurai ethics were made into Japanese imperialist fascism or how some could be called Islamofascists. The common thing is that they all are thoroughly modernized, not the real thing, so they don’t count as a proper rejection of modernity.
>Now all of a sudden smergle is telling you how to live your life. How did that happen? How do we get from “this is what smergle is” to “Smergle is a greater goal that everyone should submit their will to”??? That’s a huge leap.
You can use a hammer to scratch your back and a rock to beat in nails, but generally things work better if you use tools for the purpose they were designed for. That is the path of lesser resistance and higher efficiency. Mostly lesser resistance. So while physically not written on the hammer, in the woodworking textbook is written next to the hammer “best used for beating in nails”.
I would accept as a critique that teleology-as-life-advice is in a way lazy, as it points towards the lesser resistance, using the capabilities of your body and mind for the spergle they are naturally oriented towards. It is not the common kind of lazy, though, it would be a difficult and strenuous life to even partially imitate hunter-gatherers, the guys who partially try to do that e.g. in the BJJ gym are not properly described as lazy. But it is in a way certainly lazy as it is cutting with the grain, not against, it is pissing with the wind, not against it. And then I would just rely on common sense saying that usually a good idea. There is a normative basis of cutting with the grain, after all, in that that it is easier. It is lazy, but not in a common way, it is a wholly special subtype of lazy.
>If I don’t want something to conform my will to, I have no reason for being grateful.
Try to learn some buddhism or something, there is really something in the idea of your ego working against you, undermining you.
>Why should I pick smergle as my Greater Goal, rather than, say, maximizing global utility?
Because it is ultimately easier. Because it is at least in some way rooted in observable reality. How is max global utility rooted in anything but pure philosophical speculation?
Even if your goal would be say to eat as much as possible and become 500kg, that would be at least rooted in a real biological imperative. But max global utility is nothing but speculative philosophy, it is far far too abstract and intellectual.
>What does following smergle even mean? Does it mean having any many children as possible? Living a life as similar to my ancestors as possible?
We had hundreds of years and gigantic amounts of effort invested in the Enlightenment, like in these pure philosophical speculations like glob utility. Seems like rolling it back will be similarly big and difficult. Please don’t expect me to figure it all out at once. Let’s put 100 scholars on the project for 100 years and we will have something like the theory of the optimally spergle-oriented life nailed down.
One thing I think’s interesting is that, as far as I can tell, a rejection of the concept of function/purpose/etc implies not utilitarianism but nihilism. I’m not sure I see in what sense can utility exist as a concept without some entity whose utility function is being referred to.
The argument that what distinguishes an object with function from an object without function is whether the object is copied is intriguing and somewhat persuasive.
>The argument that what distinguishes an object with function from an object without function is whether the object is copied is intriguing and somewhat persuasive.
I am terrible at summarizing academic philosophy. I would probably do the most service to “Millikanism” by keeping my mouth shut. But anyway: no, that was probably yet another example of me summarizing it awkwardly.
I mean, I can make a tool for myself, and the tool certainly has a function, even when there is just one copy of it. So copying is not a requirement, it just kind of makes it more likely. It is probably not even copying as such, but selection as such. Copying kind of intensifies the selection. I can make myself multiple hammers, and many of them are maybe are just jokes, like hammer with a sugar head. Then someone borrows one of my hammers and works with it (selection). It makes it more likely it is actually good for something. Then someone borrows one of my hammers and uses it as a prototype to manufacture 10K hammers (copying), that makes it even more likely that it does something.
But it is just my way of conveying the idea and probably terribly wrong, really better read Millikan in the original instead. She puts it in entirely different things, like basicaly how weight or color are properties of things, as things ancestral history, from which it was copied is also its property.
“The function of my heart is to pump blood because pumping blood is what the hearts of my ancestors did which contributed to the survival and reproduction of my ancestors, and thus contributed to the persistence of hearts of that type in the population, and which thus explains my possession of such a heart.” It is closer to the original formulation.
I don’t think Millikan’s version of teleology is ad hoc (although it may still be wrong). She uses it to ground a theory of mental representation, which is pretty important if you want to claim that the mind contains truth-evaluable representations (such as “I believe that this coffee is hot”). Since most psychologists, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists do want to claim that, then it’s most certainly not a bad type of teleology (in the sense of being metaphysically “spooky”).
Yes; TheDividualist’s post includes a lot of stuff that’s not really in Millikan. You are absolutely right about what she actually says herself, and I would add that most of her account seems extremely plausible to me.
Evolution isn’t teleological, adaptations have multiple causes and consequences, you can’t extrapolate out a purpose that’s coherent over time, mutation matters too not just copying, context determines survivability and “purpose” is in the map not the territory, Aristotlean ethics and epistemology aren’t very good, I can think of lots of reasons not to like this woman’s argument as you’ve described it, why the presumption she ought to be loved?
Evolution isn’t telological in a broad sense (as in aiming towards some final outcome), but it’s not obviously wrong to say that, for example, the function of the eye is seeing. Millikan is proposing a technical notion of “function” that is analyzed a little more in depth and and used to ground certain other philosophical and biological concepts.
One major use of a technical concept of function is to ground a theory of mental representation: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/content-teleological/
That was a great blog post. I’m glad you linked it.
I’m a big fan of Millikan, and have been ever since I was first introduced to her work (Ernie Sosa recommended her to me when I was working on my dissertation, so at least some very serious mainstream philosophers take her quite seriously). I’m not so much of a fan of some of what you’ve done with her work at the post you link to, but as far as her actual work, her account of intentionality is much more detailed than usual, and the details are extremely well done. If I had to speculate about why she isn’t a greater hero of the rationalist community, well, Dennett has very similar views about the philosophy of mind, and isn’t as detailed (and is probably a better writer), and for anybody who isn’t a professional philosopher, the less detailed version is probably a lot easier to cope with. So perhaps that’s the reason Dennett’s the rationalist hero rather than Millikan.
At the Bay Area Solstice event I was the person sitting on the other side of you and being awkward and silent. I cried maybe a lot during some of the pieces. I wanted to say “omg hi I read your things and omg” but that was kind of maybe not what you would want to hear all the time, since you must get that kind of a lot, and it felt disingenuous to pretend that I didn’t know who you are and have an entire rss feed section for this blog and addenda. And anyway I just kind of froze and thought admiring thoughts at you when I wasn’t overwhelmed by having intense emotions about humanity. I’m sorry.
are you an anime character or what
Was that really necessary?
You shouldn’t get in the way of a man’s quest for a waifu
Per Scott’s reply below:
“The woman with the colorful hair?”
Seems the answer is yes.
The woman with the colorful hair?
Yeah, I cried a little too, but luckily I managed to maintain my gruff masculine exterior and not let anybody see it.
I am always fine with people saying hi to me.
So. Uhhh… Have you guys seen “MRA Dilbert”?
Man… Tumblr is like herpes: it’s the gift that keeps giving. http://mradilbert.tumblr.com
Sorry, but Dilbert parodies peaked as a genre at least a decade ago
I haven’t laughed so hard at comics in a long time. That was fucking hilarious! Thanks.
Why would anyone take anything Scott Adams writes seriously? I don’t even mean this as a slam on him. I got a book of his blog posts years back (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and my interpretation was that you’re not supposed to *actually* take his ideas seriously; he’s just joking around and throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks. He came up with the term “philosotainment” to describe his own work: musings that are meant to be entertaining or thought-provoking rather than actually correct.
“Oh, a Bullshit Artist.”
The weirdest thing about this is that a lot of these controversial ideas read like something lifted out of old jokebooks/cliches.
I can’t even count how many times some variant of he killed all of those people because he couldn’t get laid before. The most immediate one I can source is Alan Moore stating:
“Sexually progressive cultures gave us mathematics, literature, philosophy, civilization and the rest, while sexually restrictive cultures gave us the Dark Ages and the Holocaust. Not that I’m trying to load my argument, of course.”
Alan Moore is a complete scientific illiterate. “The Dark Ages” is considered to be an inaccurate term by modern historians, who do not consider the time period to be one of exceptional backwardness.
Not disagreeing with you, using it as an example of how it is a cliche that Adams is reiterating. The sex as antidote for violence idea was pretty much the focus of 60s counterculture, and now its just filtered down.
@ God Damn John Jay
The sex as antidote for violence idea was pretty much the focus of 60s counterculture, and now its just filtered down.
Er, I’m pretty sure what the flower children meant was:
“[Let us] make love, not [make us make] war.”
I tried looking for a cite or source for that interpretation and couldn’t find anything. I had always sort of assumed that the juxtaposition was more meaningful than just a do this instead of this but I could be wrong.
… EDIT …
Okay I found one by Larry Berkowitz the lead actor in hair written after his arrest:
Lack of love mental and physical leads to violence, then to war. . . . MAKE LOVE NOT WAR!!!
@ God Damn John Jay
So it has come to this.
Ah, I was there, man. The object of the imperative was the authorities, or at least (non-hippie) society in general; not each other personally.
You know, like “Draft beer, not students”.
Is there a word for “art that’s really pretty bad, but people like because it agrees with their ideological sentiments?”
I think there should be a word.
Propaganda(ndistic art): art that spreads a message.
Or didactic art: art that teaches a lesson.
Of course, neither of those imply that it must be bad, but it is a reason why people might like something despite it not measuring up in other aesthetic qualities. It’s also a trade-off (at least in terms of effort): if all you’re doing is painting a pretty postcard with no meaning, you can optimize for aesthetic beauty. But if you want to show the Nobility of Man or the Dignity of Labor, you’re now optimizing for two qualities.
Hence the stereotypical Soviet films about love and tractors.
On the other hand, people’s ideological beliefs might give them different ideas about what is beautiful and desirable. For a (traditionalist) Muslim, the painting of a human being is a sacrilege and offensive, not aesthetically pleasing. Medieval Christians saw realistic art as worldly and irreligious: the more important thing was the symbolism and the simplicity.
I’m reminded of the old art joke:
Impressionism is painting what you see.
Expressionism is painting what you feel.
Socialist Realism is painting what you hear.
I think it is interesting how the US government is organized kind of like a human brain. The supreme court serves the function of coming up with plausible-sounding excuses to permit the rest of the organism to do whatever it already wanted to do in the first place.
Here’s a thought: imagine we wake up tomorrow to find that the overwhelming majority of Americans want X legal change. Is there anything that X can be such that the constitution will not get reintrepreted to find that it actually supported X all along?
It seems to me that the purpose of the constitution is propaganda: having certain views enshrined on a big important historical document serves to make them a little bit more popular in the eyes of some relatively large proportion of the nation. But if those views lose their popularity, then “b-but the constitution says…” won’t save them, because people will decide that really the constitution says that whatever is the new popular view is correct.
An overwhelming majority of Americans already want to get rid of the Electoral college; that’s not happening without a Constitutional amendment.
The same would go for any frontal assault on the Bill of Rights, I think. Hate speech laws, laws against atheists holding public office, allowing the police to coerce confessions, these sorts of things have been overwhelmingly popular in living memory and the courts have generally held firm. It may become popular to round up and expel native-born Mexican and/or Muslim citizens; pretty sure that also isn’t going to happen without a new amendment. Confiscatory gun control in the post-Heller era probably belongs on that list as well.
Not sure about the expulsion, but the ethnic-rounding-up-despite-unconstitutionality has a pretty glaring precedent.
It requires extraordinary powers granted by a declared war and most of said individuals not being citizens.
I find it interesting that only traditionally democratic states have passed the compact so far (okay, Illinois has only gone democrat since 2000), but it has passed in at least one house in several more republican states.
Maybe if the republicans win the popular vote a few times in a row the compact will get the states it needs.
Actually, the EC pretty much as is could work against the current de facto Two Party System. ‘Winner take all electors’ within each state, is just a matter of each state’s laws, which can be changed by each state. Suppose electors went to the College and each voted for zis actual candidate … divving the College first round voting among Jones, Smith, Robinson, Sanders, Carson, Clinton, Trump, etc. Then on successive rounds they could have fun coalition building and the eventual winner would be indebted (not, unfortunately, bindingly) to whichever smaller parties had joined the final coalition.
The electoral college never meets and there aren’t multiple rounds of voting. They vote by ballot which are sent to Congress to be counted and a winner declared. If there’s no outright majority, the election is sent to the House of Representatives, but voting there is done state by state.
That’s a bit of a simplification, see the 12th amendment for the gory details.
Montfort says:I find it interesting that only traditionally democratic states have passed the compact so far (okay, Illinois has only gone democrat since 2000), but it has passed in at least one house in several more republican states.
Why would we expect any different? The urban archipelago wants to be able to dictate terms to those ignorant cousin-humpers in the fly-over states and the EC is one of the major checks on their ability to do so. So of course they’re going to want to get rid of it.
Now if the cousin-humpers thought that they had a chance in hell of dictating terms to New York or LA maybe that would change.
Hlynka: You may have a different definition than me of “major”, but the electoral college has only disagreed with the popular vote once in the last century and four times since 1776: J.Q. Adams, Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and G.W. Bush. In the Adams-Jackson and Hayes-Tilden races, particularly, there was a lot of horse-trading going on with electoral votes to produce the results, which I find unlikely to be repeated. Though all candidates who won this way are technically “republicans”, only Bush could really be construed as the rural voter’s candidate (see also: “Tariff of Abominations”, though of course the politics then were quite different from today’s).
If the “urban archipelago” were really a monolithic block seeking to impose their will, I think the rest of the country would find it hard to resist – the US rural population is just under 20% and a candidate that could take every urban district by a large margin could take the country with the EC working as today.
In any event, a sizable majority of self-described republicans support eliminating the electoral college for the popular vote, which is the source of my mild interest in their lack of success in achieving it.
But what determines whether a new amendment is made? If almost everyone wants one to be made, what stops it from being made?
That wouldn’t be a reinterpretation of the Constitution, that would be a rewriting of the Constitution. Which is difficult to accomplish, but specifically allowed. It would certainly not be a case of “find[ing] that it actually supported X all along”, as you claimed, because X was explicitly not supported until last Thursday when the Constitution was deliberately changed and nobody would be pretending otherwise.
I would argue that an overwhelming majority of Americans don’t know or care what an electoral college is.
You appear to be mistaken.
Maybe they don’t care enough to get a constitutional amendment, but they seem to at least have an opinion.
I would appear to be, but I don’t believe I am. By your argument 97% of Americans know what the electoral college is and have an opinion about it. Surely you’d have to acknowledge that’s unrealistically high, even if my own estimate is unrealistically low.
So how do we get a result like this? Obviously, by a certain number of people answering a question they have no real idea about. This is why the way you phrase a question can lead to such massive differences in poll results – most people do not have knowledge or clear opinions on every little subject and rely on contextual cues to pick an answer.
Aren’t Muslims already banned from the US under the 1891 Immigration Act, as practitioners of polygamy?
Polygamy is extremely rare among Muslims.
I wouldn’t call 2-5% “extremely rare”. Uncommon, yes, but so is being relatively rich, which is one of the islamic requirements for polygamy. It is not uncommon for them to believe that polygamy is morally permissible.
In any case, Sunni and Shia both explicitly permit polygamy.
Ok, “rare” is probably more accurate than “extremely rare”, assuming that your stats are accurate (which I am genuinely assuming).
That they believe it is permissible seems irrelevant. You said they were “practitioners” of polygamy, and the vast majority of them aren’t.
Right. There used to be a provision against people who merely believe in polygamy, in the 1907 immigration act, but it was repealed, unlike the 1891 act. So I guess that Muslims may enter the US currently, so long as they don’t actually practice polygamy. The 1907 act wasn’t found unconstitutional, however. Similar legislation presumably could be brought back without amending the constitution.
“Similar legislation presumably could be brought back without amending the constitution.”
Well, legislation can always be passed and signed into law without amending the constitution. Even blatantly unconstitutional legislation. If you get enough US House and Senate members to vote for, and the president to sign, a bill legalizing summary executions of anyone on a secret executive list, then it would be law for as long as it took to work its way through the judiciary. If it was repealed before the judiciary could issue a ruling, then we might not ever get one.
Just because a law existed in the past does not mean it’s constitutionality is decided.
” but so is being relatively rich, which is one of the islamic requirements for polygamy.”
The husband is supposed to be able to deal justly with every wife. On the other hand, according to the author of _The Modern Egyptians_, a 19th century account of life in Egypt, the polygamists he knew (I think he estimated one percent of couples) were relatively poor. It sounded as though a second wife was an input to production, not consumption.
“No matther whether th’ constitution follows h’ flag or not, th’ Supreme Coort follows th’ election returns”
Is there any motivational advice for people who want to exercise more that doesn’t assume they’re sedentary?
I want to exercise at least 20 hours a week because of this research ( http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/11/how-much-exercise-is-enough/ ) but I’m an outdoorsy person whose motivation to walk plummets when the weather is bad. Right now I’m maintaining 3 days a week of weightlifting, 2 hours a week of karate, and 30-60 minutes a day of walking. I guess I need to either learn to love the outdoors year-round or love treadmills?
Sell your car, maybe. Lots of people have put lots of ingenuity into doing everything by bike, even in terrible weather.
I sold a year ago and take the subway. I don’ even have a bike. I don’t exactly understand how bike riding people function: I don’t even wear suits, just “smart casual” but in any weather over 22C I would get to sweaty and simmer in it all day in the office, and in any rainy weather sit all day in muddy pants, and in winter fall over all the time and so on. It looks really weird. I’ve been to Copenhagen, and my friends did put me on a bike, and their solution was 1) not even smart casual, just jeans, because not being office people 2) being kind of “rough” and not caring if you smell or muddy or something, in this sense they were not too “classy”. (And outside Copenhagen like in Aalborg every rural guy hates the urban politicians who taxed cars expensive and rather drive 10 year old cars than to commute 25km on a bike.) Overally it works in a culture or subculture where everybody does it, but does not work well if most people don’t and thus dress and smell different.
Biking is incompatible with not being sweaty. Its applicability depends a lot on how far from work you live, and what kind of job you do. If you’re a programmer who lives like a few kilometers from the office, there’s no real issue. If you’re a bank teller or insurance agent, and must look and smell good, then there’s an issue.
But of course every programmer who prefers to be promoted into management tries to dress and smell like a manager.
Biking is incompatible with not being sweaty.
I just biked three miles to work without sweating. Admittedly it’s December, but A: Southern California and B: I do this most every day even in July. So, disproof by counterexample.
People who insist on biking fast, or have steep hills in their path, typically shower and change clothes on arrival.
Those people are silly, and likely future victims of the Peter Principle.
A lot of office-y workplaces over here have showers for this reason – you bike to work, then you have a shower.
If you have a smartphone, there are Apps for That. Zombies, Run! is a set of games that do interval training via the motivation that as you move you are doing so to evade zombies. (Indoors, you can progress on the game by running on a treadmill.)
Ingress is a game that encourages you to wander around the nearest town mining “portals”. In the early stages of the game you’re discovering lots of cool places – public art, interesting architecture and so on – which might help motivate you to go out more than you otherwise would. (the game doesn’t work when you’re moving above a certain speed to discourage playing it while driving).
Zombies Run doesn’t look like my sort of thing, but Ingress does. I suppose using my smartphone for a combination of audio books and Ingress when walking would be a smart (heh) motivational strategy.
Wow, assuming the study is right, the health benefits of physical activity keep going up far more than I would have expected (I tended to think that most of the health benefits of exercise accrued in the first few hours of moderate exercise per week and that after that it was either about having sexy abs or winning a competition).
Reminds of something I read somewhere about blood pressure: basically that 120/80 is the level your doctor wants you to shoot for, but your chances of having a heart attack or stroke keep going down all the way to 90/50 or something. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that cross country skiers really are healthier than the rest of us with their ultra-low resting heart rates, etc.
I consider myself fairly active, but I don’t get anywhere close to 20 hours of exercise a week, probably not even if I count walking. Probably should up it, but 20 hours is a lot… one way I have started multitasking, however, is to listen to audio books and language learning materials while exercising. I could feel better about exercising 20 hours a week if I were also learning something at the same time.
I’m way more interested in knowing how a behaviour will affect the quality of my life than the length of it, but all health research seems to be focused on the latter. I guess because that’s much more easily measured.
Well I have seen studies supposedly showing that the subjective quality of a person’s life is tightly correlated with self-reported energy levels. People who report feeling “energetic” also report a high degree of satisfaction with life in general, and people who “feel tired all the time,” unsurprisingly report a poor quality of life (of course, it may be in some cases that feeling tired is a symptom, rather than the cause of being unhappy, but they probably also tend to be cyclical, and I’m sure there are people who are depressed about their chronic fatigue rather than fatigued because depression).
But if we accept that feeling energetic is a big contributor to quality of life, which seems roughly correct to me, then the question is the impact of exercise on energy levels. Clearly people in better shape seem to have more energy. Obviously they are literally capable of working harder with less subjective exertion, so we can expect everyday life tasks to feel less taxing to them, which may mean they feel more “surplus” energy to spend on things they enjoy.
The only drawback is that the exercise itself is tiring and must be recovered from. There must surely be a point of diminishing returns after which you exercise so much that, even if you are in great shape, your subjective energy levels during daily life are lower than they would be with less exercise. I’m not sure where that is, but I’d guess it’s somewhere well above what the average sedentary 1st worlder does and somewhere below professional athlete. Maybe 20 hours a week? Would be interesting if they did a study on that.
> Clearly people in better shape seem to have more energy.
Or people who have more energy find it easier to get in shape.
In reality, it is mutual causation both ways, you can get people spiral out of depression by having them do a tiny bit more, which makes them feel better, which makes them do a bit more etc.
That is how people spiral into depression too, you are depressed because you best friend died and you are between jobs anyway so you stop looking and lock yourself in your flat and order pizza twice a day and a month and ten kg body weight later your depression is now much worse because of the lack of exercise, the shit food and of the weight gain. That is how it usually happens.
@onyomi: Wow, assuming the study is right, the health benefits of physical activity keep going up far more than I would have expected (I tended to think that most of the health benefits of exercise accrued in the first few hours of moderate exercise per week and that after that it was either about having sexy abs or winning a competition).
I had a vague idea that would be the case, but when I saw research showing that 300 minutes of moderate cardio a week was twice as good as the American Medical Association’s recommended minimum of 150, I had to research just where the gains level off. I was surprised that it was much higher than 450 minutes of brisk walking plus 3 weightlifting sessions a week!
Study was correlative, being healthy also causes exercise, so I bet the gains are even smaller than they look past 5-10 hours a week. Just something to keep in mind.
This seems very plausible to me. It is also worth noting that highly-trained masters endurance athletes quite often suffer fatal heart attacks, and that the world’s longest-lived people may spend quite a lot of time on their feet hoeing the garden and walking to market and so on but are probably not out racking up the mileage.
There are, of course, good reasons to spend more than 20 hours a week on deliberate physical activity. But I don’t think that longevity is really one of them. Or even increased quality of life in old age.
Where I’m originally from, I could get to 20 hours by biking and pickup ultimate (for every day, there was at least one group within biking distance*) in season. That said, 3 hours a day is a lot and exercise gets more efficient the more intense it is (2 hours walking != 2 hours playing ultimate), so have you considered something like Tabata intervals?
*Some of the further-off groups involve biking to the house of a friend who’s driving there and splitting gas, which is why I only play 3 times a week or so.
20 hours sounds really excessive if you don’t connect it with something else, like work. Can you share your time management tips BTW? For me, the 5 workdays a week means basically the only time I am not working and can do something else begins around 18:00. Half the weekend is gone with shopping and chores. So there is a Sunday and there are the workday evenings. Even if all this time was filled with exercise, 20 hours was difficult to manage. I don’t understand how can people have so good time management, even if they are single and childless which I am not, but I mean, the weird difference is between the net/gross hours, yes surely I don’t sleep more than 45 hours a week, rarely work more than 48, so there would a theoretical gross time budget of 75 hours and I cannot really claim that much is spent on chores. Yet in practice, there is one task after the other, brush your teeth, eat your breakfast, commute to work, take out the trash etc. etc. that I end up with really most of it filled with tasks somehow.
168 hours in a week. Sleeping 7.5 hours/day, that’s 52.5 gone, 115.5 remaining. Working 48 hours/week, including commutes, that’s 67.5 remaining. Volunteer work 2.5 hours/week including commute, that’s 65 remaining. Church attendance, 1.5 hours/week including commute, that’s 63.5 remaining. 8 hours allotted to weekly online activities with friends, that’s 55.5 remaining. Cooking and eating in free time, that’s like maybe 0.5 hour/day of time that can’t be multitasked, leaving 52 hours.
Contrary to you, I don’t quite see what people are so damn busy with. (Edit: Maybe you’re busy with math, which I can’t.)
This what I was trying to explain with net/gross hours, that it looks a lot if you calculate on a full 168 hours basis, but this is not how most people work. We are not going to brush our teeth in the lunch break, but early in the morning, those who go to church will go when it is open, you are not going to go to a gym at 23:00 and then sleep from 01:00 to 09:00 or I mean perhaps a few college age weird people do but most normal people would find a violation of the Proper Time to do things weird, a violation of the customary order of things, of what thing to do at what stage of the day.
And that is how there is time for far less than what the calculation from 168 hours would suggest.
Perhaps one way to bring the models closer together is that how much downtime/waiting time is in it. Like on the subway.
Another hugely important aspect that IMHO you underestimate to-dos and chores. There was a movie about it about ten years ago, about a mother who for something like a kid birthday party had a to-do list of 50 elements. Well, we are not like that, but still the chores are endless. Right now every second is filled up with making or buying Xmas presents. Just yesterday I got pissed with the sun in my eyes through our glass wall when using the computer at the desk and not in bed as usual, so there will be now an inane amount of time spent on taking measurements, finding a dark curtain, buying it online, realizing that it is yet another idiotic shop delivering with DHL that does not arrange delivery times in advance, just tries to come at 11:00 when the driver should know every normal person is at work not at home and drops it off at the post office when we are not at home so then we have to factor in an expedition to the post office too, perhaps before work so that can hold the fscking box under my arm all through the commute because by the time I get home it will be closed and so on… these stupid to-dos incredibly fill out adult life.
@TheDividualist: 20 hours sounds really excessive if you don’t connect it with something else, like work. Can you share your time management tips BTW?
I have karate at my gym two weeknights a week (and make myself go Saturday as well), which motivates me to go there after business hours. Once I’m there, I can motivate myself to use the treadmill for 30 minutes if I haven’t already walked an hour outdoors, then motivation plummets. Adding on 30 minutes of weightlifting is easy just from the knowledge that it’s an important component of health.
I eat lunch at my computer and block off a 30-minute break for walking outdoors, regardless of weather. In summer, I was able to motivate myself to do considerably more by walking from home to the business promenade and back instead of driving, but like I said, weather is harming my motivation.
Three weeknights and Sundays, I block off the hours I’d otherwise be at the gym for reading philosophy or history, or something lighter like a Jane Austen novel if I’m burned out.
I’m strongly in favor of a physically active job for anyone who can find one for competitive wages. Our bodies are not evolved to live long lives sitting in offices.
>I have karate at my gym two weeknights a week
You live in the US? One thing I think EU should borrow from the US is these kinds of combined gyms. Here gyms have weight and cardio only, and I go for martial arts to a different dojo and so on. I have heard US gyms often have everything from tennis to baseball courts. Going to one place is and not to three definitely count as a motivator.
It would be cool to have a big huge combined “health palace” where you can just do whatever activity you have the whim to. Wall climbing, boxing, swimming, weights, squash, whatever you fancy, in one place. That would be real cool. It would be even more super cool if they had supervised activities to kids so we could basically spend half the weekend there, the animator would engage our child in dodgeball with the other children, while my wife plays squash and I box, for example, and yet we are in the same building and can talk in the breaks etc. I would pay through the nose for a combined place like that.
Combine it with a healthy restaurant and a cafe where you can work on your laptop and you’d get people hooked so much, it is not even funny.
Investors, entrepreneurs, take note.
There’s something roughly like that in the medium-sized UK town where I live. Isn’t this usually just called a ‘leisure centre’?
@TheDividualist: You live in the US? One thing I think EU should borrow from the US is these kinds of combined gyms. Here gyms have weight and cardio only, and I go for martial arts to a different dojo and so on. I have heard US gyms often have everything from tennis to baseball courts. Going to one place is and not to three definitely count as a motivator.
Yes, I’m in the US. Which country are you in?
Here we have both community centers and independent gyms that offer classes and often a pool in addition to weights and cardio machines. Some community centers and franchise gyms are even more elaborate. Bare-bones dojos also exist, but I’m not interested in those even if I might get more utils of self-defense skill, or whatever. Even specialized gyms such as rock gyms always have a weight room with a treadmill and stationary bike.
It would be cool to have a big huge combined “health palace” where you can just do whatever activity you have the whim to. Wall climbing, boxing, swimming, weights, squash, whatever you fancy, in one place. That would be real cool. It would be even more super cool if they had supervised activities to kids … Investors, entrepreneurs, take note.
That’s a great idea, especially with a cafe that serves different kinds of health food (low-cal, high-protein, etc.) I’d be interested in what sort of facilities are efficient at keeping kids distracted. Not having children, I lack even anecdotal evidence for that…
Dividualist – in the U.S., Eastern martial arts tend to have their own dojos; the all-in-one gyms don’t generally teach marital arts. Some gyms have boxing or kickboxing. Some (especially, but not only, YMCA) have swimming pools which are mainly used for basic lessons and for adults swimming laps.
So while gyms here may be more service-integrated than in Europe, the truly all-in-one seems fairly rare.
This may or may not be related to the typical business model of gyms, which is to automatically charge a monthly fee to your credit card forever (or until your credit card gets declined), but not trying very hard to keep you actually coming to the gym. I think the ratio of paying members to people who come at least once a week is over ten to one. People who do come on a regular basis tend to be upsold on specialized services, like trainer sessions, or on nutritional supplements and protein powders.
The relevance of this is over-ruled a bit by the MET-hours thing below. But personally, I’ve just started running home from work (at the moment once a week. Intention is for this to rise to at least twice, maybe even default). Given it takes me an hour to commute by bus and an hour to run home, this is basically filling exercise quotient in zero time! Obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, but this sort of thing can help.
That’s 20 MET-hrs per week. Which conveniently (for me) allows you to exchange time for effort.
Equivalents are here:
Since sitting on your butt (literally) is 1.0, I assume you subtract 1.0 then multiply by hours to get the value of physical activity.
Hard weightlifting is 6.0, karate is 10.0, walking unburdened ranges from 2.0 to 8.0 (though I wouldn’t call 5mph a “walk”). So even accounting for the time at karate you’re not actually doing it, you’re well over 20 METS-hrs.
Oh, good catch. Thank you.
So does this mean my original impression that only the first few hours of exercise per week really improve your longevity?
Yes, if your exercise is considerably more intensive than walking and the assumptions underlying using excess MET-hours is correct. Two hours of hard biking is good enough, for instance.
Huh, rock climbing ranging from 8 to 12, I get more exercise than I thought.
So in the blue tribe now we have the term “brogressive” to refer to people who hold the Correct Beliefs, but just aren’t the Right Sort Of Person. Is there a red tribe equivalent of this? Grey tribe?
Source? This sounds like exactly the combination of cringiness, hilarity and actual serious thought I’d enjoy reading.
Also see, the South Park episodes this season that have mocked this by introducing the “Political Correctness Bros” and the PCDelta frat who are like stereotypical frat bros except for their commitment to social justice.
That’s not a primary source, but a vaguely secundary one at best. I realise this sort of thing can be difficult, but second-hand texts like these aren’t quite what I’d like to see here, selfish as though that is.
I kinda like those articles. I know they’re supposed to be insulting, but the people they’re describing actually sound pretty nice, and it’s nice to see that become an epidemic.
“Bro” is becoming the leftist version of “cuck”, isn’t it? Or vice versa, I’m not sure which came first.
I encountered “Bro” in the derogatory long before I encountered “Cuck” (which to me is actually quite recent) but not sure how that maps to society at large.
Something keeps eating my comments. Let’s try rephrasing.
I encountered derogatory senses of “bro” maybe ten years ago — they’re probably almost as old as the word’s positive slang sense — but it only started being used to form compounds fairly recently, about the same time I started hearing constructions like “cuckservative”.
Maybe I’ve just lived a blessed life but the only time I had ever encouraged the word cuck before the “cuckservative” meme was in the form of NTR fetishists. I might be wrong but it seems like the jump from Japanese pornography to immigration politics was a bit sudden even by Internet standards.
Brogrammer is from 2011, while Cuckservative is from 2015. Bro and Cuck have been heading upward the whole decade Google trends has existed.
… do I even want to know what NTR fetishist stands for?
@Le Maistre Chat: “Netorare”.
So the cuck meme basically comes out of /tv/. In its original form you’d post a picture of comedian Louis CK and a bit he did about black penises or something. The use of cuck as an epithet spread to the other boards, including the ones the alt-right likes, leading to their widespread use of the term today.
I just want to reiterate once again how disappointed I am that it’s cuckposting and not baneposting that made it big (no pun intended). Nick Land even made a post with a picture of Trump wearing the mask, and there wasn’t a single person in the comment section talking about how he was demonstrating a lot of loyalty for a conservative populist, or how he was going to crash mass immigration with no survivors.
What is it with appending “bro-” to everything lately? How did that of all things turn into an insult?
Also this is a really really bad move on the part of whoever is spreading this. I remember the main thing that pushed me from being a progressive to a libertarian / conservative mishmash was realizing that there was no way to win the White Guilt game. The more white and asian guys realize that, the more of them will decide that they might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.
Asian guys get drawn into the defending role of the white guilt game? Really? They get unduly ignored constantly, this is very true, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them get chastised as oppressors/bigots/racists/whatever else negative term you can think of.
Asians are (dis)honorary whites as far as these things go. If you’re talking about “white guys in tech” or “white male shooters” or anything associated with so-called toxic masculinity you can expect at least a plurality of asian guys. And you definitely hear SJ people talking about how privileged e.g. Japanese or Koreans are.
On the other hand, the MFA Kimono Incident. Although that was weird in the line it drew between the SJ activists and the counter-protesters.
My perception of the MFA kimono debacle was that the SJWs were primarily not Japanese, and that the counter-protesters who wanted MFA to keep the kimono-wearing exhibit were primarily Japanese.
This matches the belief that Asians – Japanese in this case – are (dis)honorary whites rather than oppressed minorities in SJW worldview.
Sort of. Some of the protesters were second- or third-generation Japanese-Americans. Many of those who weren’t were Asian-Americans but not Japanese. All of them considered Asian culture to be the “victim”.
The only people who thought the protesters were actually anti-Japanese were poorly-informed Japanese people in Japan who saw that a lot of them were Chinese and Korean and viewed the situation in terms of the anti-Japanese protests which are reasonably common in China and Korea.
In the view of the SJW types here, Asians are an oppressed minority some of whom (the counter-protesting Japanese immigrants) were complicit in their own oppression (the same view many activists have of black cops or Clarence Thomas).
I don’t know how common it is anymore, but there used to be people that would go around and say “bro” all the time as a kind of interjection. Or sometimes “brah” which was even worse. I’m not sure why but somehow it seemed more common among frat boys, future frat boys, former frat boys, or frat boys that were never in a frat (if you know what I mean). So bro came to be a synecdoche for that group of people, and then a prefix to describe a subset.
One problem there is that the libertarian / conservative groups don’t have much to offer to someone who believes in economic liberalism, but is put off by the identity politics aspect of modern progressivism (besides some defense from the identity politics hate-mobbers, which I suppose might be enough in a number of situations).
The Left has always been notorious for its Circular Firing Squad.
Hm, that is how a lot of non-Anglo right-wings work, if you mean economic statism or dirigims under economic liberalism. In most countries most right-wingers always believed the government has a job in protecting the economic national interest, like redistributing from foreign corporations to domestic workers. America is special for two reasons, a lot of people on the right being really opposed to the Feds (or the other way around, the Feds are really opposed to everything tradition and not in-group with the average guy), and because of all that economic power and weight, American righties don’t feel they have to patriotistically protect American workers or consumers from foreign corporations, as foreign corporations play little role.
I meant things like Social Security, National Health Care, progressive income tax, Unions, strong social safety net, minimum wage, extensive public services, and so on. All those ideas are abhorrent to libertarian / conservative groups.
Also, even if someone is opposed to current progressive identity politics, libertarian / conservative groups are often far in the other direction, with what often comes across as denials of the extent of sexism, racism, etc. Libertarians are particular bad here – many will argue that race, sex, etc discrimination by businesses should be re-legalized since they contend it is a matter of right. That’s a view which is extremely repellent to anyone who believes in the economics part of progressivism.
White male liberal here. What’s this “white guilt” game? I don’t feel guilty about being white; I just acknowledge that my society has a history of treating minorities badly and I, like pretty much everyone else, am subconsciously biased against minorities to some extent.
Sounds like guilt to me: if not the emotion, at least an explicit admission of it.
There is a difference between acknowledging that everyone has innate tendency towards bias (and wanting to change your own biases) and feeling “guilty” about it.
I mean, isn’t the entire rationality movement/project supposed to be about acknowledging this fact and becoming “less wrong”?
You seem to have missed the thrust of my point. Guilt comprises both the subjective feeling of remorse for wrongdoing and the objective fact of responsibility for having done wrong. While Technically Not Anonymous claims not to feel guilty about racism, he also explicitly proclaims that he is guilty of having unconscious racism and living in a racist society. He is still playing the game.
As for correcting biases, you’re right that we should strive to be “less wrong” but not in the way you seem to mean. We should absolutely avoid being wrong in the sense that our views are factually incorrect, but we should not concern ourselves with whether a fact is itself wrong in the sense of being politically incorrect. The conflation of the former and latter senses of the word is extremely dangerous to science as we have seen repeatedly over the last century.
You said –
“he also explicitly proclaims that he is guilty of having unconscious racism
but he said:
“I, like pretty much everyone else, am subconsciously biased against minorities to some extent.”
We all have biases. These biases are built into our brains’ construction. Is that really at issue? You seem to be the one “playing the game” by conflating “political correctness” with mere acknowledgement of bias.
“[he also explicitly proclaims that he is lives] in a racist society.”
but he said:
“I just acknowledge that my society has a history of treating minorities badly”
His statement is clearly true.
Yes, it is. And so…
No. We should not concern ourselves with whether a fact is itself wrong in the sense of being *immoral*.
When you say “politically incorrect” instead of “immoral,” you put some distance between yourself and the judgment against the fact. You open up a space where you can fool yourself, where you can say, “Oh well of course we don’t attack facts just for being heh-heh politically incorrect…but *this* fact is *actually immoral*.”
NO. We do not worry about whether a fact is EVEN ACTUALLY IMMORAL.
If something is true, I want to believe it to be true, etc.
(When I was a kid it was usually conservatives I saw making this mistake. Now it’s usually liberals. Anyone can make this mistake. Everyone should avoid it.)
I’m sure you’re familiar with Gricean implicature, since people on LW talk about it constantly, so I shouldn’t have to explain to you why this isn’t “mere acknowledgement of bias.” The implication of singling out a bias like this is that said bias is relevant and important, yet we can see this clearly isn’t the case. The sort of biases measured by implicit association tests or resume tests explain at most a small fraction of the gap, which makes the decision to put them front and center a rather suspect one.
You can see the same kind of implication with the statement about America’s “history of treating minorities badly.” There’s an implicit comparison there, that America has had a particularly shameful history of oppression. Yet the historical record doesn’t back that up: compared to other countries that actually existed, especially contemporaries, American atrocities are an absolute joke. The implication is in almost perfect opposition to the facts.
That’s why I call it a game. In the end it’s all just so much empty wordplay.
The funny thing is my original version of that comment had immoral and I only replaced it at the last second. And I absolutely agree with you, rightist moralizing is often just as much of a barrier to science: if nothing else, the stem cell debacle under Bush proved that to me beyond a shadow of a doubt.
“Like literally everyone else” is a fairly big qualifier. It implies that everyone in the world has bias against the minorities in their own culture. Therefore, you can’t assume he is talking only about the US. You are twisting his actual words and seem to be doing so either by error or in bad faith.
I don’t see any evidence of someone using the phrase “like literally everyone else” in this thread. Could you point it out? The only similar phrase I see is “like pretty much everyone else,” which means something very different.
Furthermore, the part of DrDealGood’s post relating to the “mere acknowledgement of bias” is separate from the part relating to America’s history in particular (he draws a parallel, but no actual logical connection), so addressing the US-centric error of (the 2nd part of) his post doesn’t at all address his actual point about singling out that bias.
Lastly, Technically Not Anonymous’s exact words were “my society.” I don’t think it’s unreasonable to presume that’s supposed to mean USA, especially since Technically not Anonymous didn’t try to invoke “literally everyone else” or anything else relating to the global populace. FWIW, it seems to me that DrDealgood’s point about USA having relatively less shameful history than other countries is worthless, but the error in assuming Technically Not Anonymous’s “my society” is “USA” plays no part in it being worthless.
Those are fair points, and yes, I munged the quote. Mea culpa.
For what it’s worth, I think “like pretty much everyone else” is a subordinate clause meant to acknowledge the possibility for the existence of people who are not biased without conceding the idea that the vast majority of people have biases. It anticipates the “are you saying there isn’t even one person without bias” weak-man argument.
The role of “society” seems merely to establish some reason for concern. If bias is generally an issue, but your particular society has no history of mistreating minorities, there is far less concern that your biases are causing harm in the present. I certainly don’t think it can be interpreted to imply that only the US has an issue with bias.
The issue, at least in my view, is that that’s true but disproportionate. Of all the billions of factors that affect how easy someone does or does not have it, race is only one. So is gender. Advantages and disadvantages are often coupled together; it is rare for a characteristic to bestow all advantages and no disadvantages, or vice versa. Many advantages and disadvantages only apply if other conditions hold true, and many more stack weirdly, so you can’t work out disadvantages by just adding up the person’s different characteristics. On top of that, many of the claimed advantages or disadvantages are only average differences: for example, if being raised in a single parent home is bad, and a higher percentage of black people than white people are raised in single parent homes, that does not mean that all black people have it worse in this regard than all white people.
The upshot of this is that trying to work out how advantaged or disadvantaged someone is based on whether they tick a handful of boxes is unlikely to lead to an accurate result. The problem with Social Justice types is that they apparently don’t realize this, leading them to falsely accuse disadvantaged people of being advantaged, and to give sympathy to advantaged people on the belief that they’re disadvantaged.
This behavior by SJWs always reminds me of the well known quotation “all models are wrong, but some are useful.” They behave in a way that implies that they believe that their model of society is useful in every context and never wrong. In my view, that is the great failure of SJW rhetoric – they have a pretty good model of society, one that’s incredibly useful in many contexts, but they fail to realize that, like all models, theirs is absolutely boneheadedly wrong in many contexts, and that figuring out those contexts is a critically important part of wielding such a model.
“What’s this ‘white guilt’ game? I don’t feel guilty about being white…”
Is there another emotion you would use to describe the self-flagellation you find in articles like this?
Pretty sure it started with “brogrammer”, a class of persons who combine “frat bros” and stereotypically nerdy programmers; they pump iron and write code, and this is “brogramming”. This idea was picked up by the progressives as a weapon to use against the stereotypically nerdy programmers: supposedly tech companies are hotbeds of “brogrammer culture” and therefore hostile to women.
The fact that “brogramming” was a complete hoax was passed over completely. The fact that actual frat bros typically have more and better interactions with women than stereotypically nerdy male programmers is even more completely passed over, but fun to bring up to infuriate progressives.
Actually I think most progressives would enthusiastically agree with denigrating nerds. Nerds being sexist and racist and disgusting and needing to be purged to make things more welcoming for women has been a leftist rallying cry for a while now.
There should be a small cost for making this kind of accusation. The price= googling a citation and sharing it.
Hope this doesn’t trip the spam filter
Whenever I see headlines like that, I think:
“The plight of the bitter Jew: Why so many awkward, shy Hebrews end up hating Nazism”.
Whenever I hear spurious comparisons to Nazism, I think the person who made them is worse than Hitler.
Is it spurious, though?
Feminism is, according to my best guess at divining something useful from its disjointed and decentralized nature, either for equalizing males and females or subjugating males to females*. It is definitely opposed to patriarchy, as well as male dominance in general. I would say that this makes it innately inimical to males**, and that any male who supports it is either insane, or has been bought off with some other benefits to counteract the potential damage to himself that supporting the ideology may cause.
The parallel to a Jewish Nazi is rather obvious.
Would you have preferred a different comparison?
“The plight of the bitter hoarder: Why so many awkward, shy Kulaks end up hating Stalinism”.
* I think the equality is the motte, and the subjugation is the bailey.
** From a starting point of male dominance.
“[From a starting point of male dominance], this makes [feminism] innately inimical to males.”
Your whole post is some sort of failure to model the other side, but this really seems bad. The easy reduction is “whites against [black, African] slavery”. I can be against a bad system that enriches me and those like me without that opposition being inimical to those like me.
If the proposed alternative is superior for both groups, yes. I have yet to see anything substantial offered by the feminists to men in general, in trade for putting aside patriarchy, rather than just efforts to smash the patriarchy and worry about consequences later.
@HeelBearCub And of course, the bad system likely *doesn’t* enrich you in the long run, relative to a fair system. If blacks had participated freely in the economy they would on average have made larger contributions than as cotton workers. And as the time horizon lengthens these growth effects dominate the short-term benefits of slavery/discrimination for whites.
Similar arguments can be made with feminism.
That was Ludwig von Mises’s purely economic argument against slavery. The question in regard to slavery is not: is slavery in the interest of the slaves? It’s: is slavery in the interest of the masters?
And the answer is no. It is not in the interest of the masters to continue having slavery. It’s very economically regressive—not least because it discourages actual capital accumulation by treating laborers as capital. You end up with a country very rich on paper, but the vast majority of that wealth consists solely in the fact that some people have title on others and trade them around.
There are also second-order effects. Another reason slavery is not in the interest of the masters is that it is not in the interest of the slaves. Their interest is to run away or rebel, killing all the masters. A slave society must therefore limit the knowledge and independence of the slaves, reducing their productivity, and dedicate many resources to suppression.
I would also say (and I think von Mises would agree) that there are other reasons besides purely material factors why slavery is not in the interest of the masters. But if you can refute it on the basest level of self-interest, you’ve really undercut it.
The same applies to the relations of men and women. The question, from the viewpoint of men, is not whether the subjugation of women is in the interest of women. It’s whether it’s in the interest of men.
And I would argue that it is not. Which makes me a “first-wave feminist”, like almost everyone in Western society. It’s absurd to package-deal all ideologies calling themselves “feminism” together and say that because you reject the most extreme and absurd, you therefore must be in favor of the subjugation of women to men. (That’s what the “feminist” ideologues do!)
As a side note, I would say the same type of question applies to the subjugation of animals. The question is not whether it’s good for the animals but whether it’s good for us. And there, I would say that it is.
Indeed. I disagree with you on the question of whether men benefit here, but you do understand the issue.
I will take as a given these arguments for the moment. But even if I could make an airtight argument that it was marginally better for whites (en masse, for all time) to enslave blacks, that still would not mean that opposing slavery of blacks was inimical to whites.
I don’t really have to answer the question “is it better or worse for whites” in a deontological framework. I merely have to answer the question, “Is what whites are doing wrong?” If it is wrong, then I can oppose what they are doing. It doesn’t absolve one from finding right things to do instead, but it does not have to result in better outcomes.
I can oppose the murdering of white Christians in other countries while opposing the enslavement of blacks in America. I can oppose slavery in any country, even if it can be shown that these actions raise net GDP.
So again, the whole argument seems like a failure to model correctly.
Vox may be correctly enunciating your preferred framework, but that is not what is at issue. You are making statements about how other people see the world, what their objectives are, how they think.
I think your imagination is failing you.
True. It would only show a relative harm: that abolitionism was more inimical to whites than slavery. It would certainly not show that abolitionism inflicted any absolute harm.
The problem with deontology is that it divorces ethics from motivation (any of form of “impartialism” like utilitarianism also does this). Suppose you can show that slavery is, in the Platonic realm, “wrong”. Why is that a motive for me?
Now, if you accept that people just have to have the right intuition here, then that’s the end of it. But otherwise, you have to start appealing to people’s self-interested motives.
You seem to be wanting to argue about object level claims about racism and harms. That isn’t really relevant.
I am only trying to show that anonymous is clearly not correctly or charitably modeling the thought processes of those he disagrees with. And in doing so, he ascribes animus where non need be ascribed.
Oh yes, you’re right about him. I meant to say that it my last post, but I forgot.
I accept your rebuke that I’m not being charitable, in folding a differing opinion on the outcomes of a proposed policy as insanity. I should have added a third possibility – that they’re honestly wrong for whatever reason.
The fact that “brogramming” was a complete hoax was passed over completely
The one big company that I’ve worked at was packed with this sort of person. (Though it wasn’t a true tech company – 30-40% of employees were in technology.)
Oh my. So all I’d have to do to be the Right Sort of Person is hold the Correct Beliefs while being a woman?
Meh, never mind. I’m white and my late father was an NRA member.
FWIW, I understood “brogressive” to mean someone who has some of the right beliefs, but misses the boat on identity politics–“legalize it” plus “All Lives Matter”, so to speak.
The way I’ve seen the term used, a “brogressive” is someone who believes in the mundane center-left stuff like free healthcare, gay marriage, and legal weed, but opposes feminism and social justice.
I’m using scare quotes around “brogressive” because creating new words to dismiss people you disagree with is never a good thing and we should avoid those words as much as possible.
I have seen cuckservative being deployed in a similar fashion (although i don’t fully understand its broad range of uses since I’ve seen it used to meaning anything from not a white nationalist to RINO)
It’s very interesting from a gender issues angle that the online left’s go-to insult is to call someone a fratboy or accuse them of not shaving regularly, whereas the online right’s go-to insult is to call someone a cuckold or a “beta male”.
I’m reminded of a Tumblr post I once saw, which posited something like right-wing extremism seemed like a weirdly officialized version of male immaturity and left-wing extremism seemed like a weirdly officialized version of female immaturity: Little boys are crass and stupid, so the far right makes shock value and anti-intellectualism its battle cry; little girls are oversensitive and clique-minded, so the far left makes witch hunting and self-censorship its battlecry.
Not sure if I agree completely, but there’s something interesting going on in that common stereotypes about gender and politics “code” left-wing politics as feminine and right-wing politics as masculine. Don’t right-wing women participating in political debate on the internet frequently get accused of being men hiding between female pseudonyms?
I remember at one point unitofcaring mentioned people assuming she was male for her moderately SJ critical opinions. It’s funny because on almost any site besides tumblr you’d be statistically safe assuming whoever you’re talking to is male. Definitely on the kind of websites where cuckposting is the norm.
I’ve been accused of being a man even by right wing men, while advocating right wing-appearing views. It is a mystery. But when I took SJ as sincere (and maybe for some it is), I was also accused of being a male, mainly because my experiences as a woman didn’t match SJ narratives.
anti-intellectualism is one of those words that get tossed around a lot and seems to be exaggerated the right is critical of social science because it is anti-right wing and because a lot of social science work is garbage (see the replication crisis).
I would have no doubt that there are a number of people on the left who invest a massive amount of their self esteem in intellectualism who would do horribly on any test of actual academic knowledge as long as the answers were sufficiently appealing sounding (I’ve met people who took the Da Vinci code seriously, not sure what confidence they placed in what parts but as far as actual experts proclaim its all bunk). Similarly the movement for women in the armed forces / police severely overestimates how strong the average woman is (my family members who have worked in rehab clinics laugh about this a lot). There are also lots of people who are 100% convinced that marijuana is harmless.
No doubt some of the accusations of anti-intellectualism flying around point to criticism of social science work, but I see the accusation more often in the context of climate science work.
Yeah, wasn’t thinking about that, that’s a bit of a big one, although comparatively recent. For a long time the right was in favor of the cheap clean nuclear while the left opposed it for purity reasons.
(Today as best I can tell green energy is sufficently cheap that it wouldn’t hurt to move to it)
Why rehab clinics?
Also, I agree that the left seems to be getting as anti-intellectualist as the right on social issues (Still not going to consider switching sides until the right accepts global warming though).
They joked that the more retarded someone was the larger they seemed to be (I have every reason to believe that outside of these jokes years after the fact they were utterly professional) . I was told that any time someone was on a ward they would look for which men were scheduled in case they needed help with violent patients.
Nornagest says: I see the accusation more often in the context of climate science work.
My experience with such accusations is that they generally take the form of “You disagree with me on ‘cap and trade’, reducing the human population to 250,000, or whatever AGW remedy is trending, ergo you are anti-science”.
(Still not going to consider switching sides until the right accepts global warming though).
As a thought experiment – What sort of attitude/irrationality on the left re: global warming/climate change/whatever would you consider sufficient to overcome rightwing reluctance to trash the economy on the basis of what evidence we have now?
(Obviously, I expect you to demand high levels of irrationality/bad planning than I would, to abandon the left over this, but I’m wondering where you would draw that line…)
Either suggestion of green policies by exclusively terrible methods (like a general leftist consensus that nuclear power should be banned), or something extreme like an immediate shutdown of all power plants and cars would do it. Something less extreme might do it, but I’m having trouble thinking of a really extremist green position – threatening to bomb countries if they don’t reduce coal use, I guess. Part of the issue here is that I don’t think moderate action on climate change causes economic problems (but that’s a different discussion).
Or if the sides switched positions on climate change, which isn’t totally implausible – purity is generally a value associated with the right. Or if both supported green initiatives but the right’s ideas seemed significantly more effective.
Pushing anti-evolution material in schools seems like the most obvious example of anti-intellectualism on the right.
One side-effect of living in a social circle that’s overwhelmingly left-wing is that pretty much every right-of-centre person I meet is way better at debating skills and citing statistics than all but the most extreme left-wingers I know, so I can’t really get myself to buy the narrative of the political left being on the side of reality and the right being anti-intellectual.
Hence my “not entirely convinced” remark, I think that was addressed more the popular stereotypes than the reality of politics.
I don’t think they mean anti-intellectualism as referring to any specific field or belief, but rather the alt right’s insistence that learned or scholarly people are brainwashed shills of the global leftist conspiracy. See, for example, the recent Future Primeval post on how smart people are reluctant to say the low status things that us regular folks know are ~obviously~ true
Most of the people I’ve heard the anti-intellectualism charge from not only aren’t talking to the alt-right, they probably haven’t heard of the alt-right. I heard it a lot in college, when the alt-right in its present form didn’t even exist.
“they probably haven’t heard of the alt-right” Most people don’t know who Steve Sailer and Charles Murray are by name but I think most people are roughly aware of the idea of IQ tests and racial gaps and the standard arguments against this. Similarly I think most people argue the boys and girls are different line simply because they had both and saw different behavior. Alt-right in this case is basically the equivalent of post-zionist or post-rationalist identifying with a stereotypical stupid person opinion but not wanting to admit to associating with those kind of people.
Also, I though of another issue where the left regularly clashes with people with far more education than them (and are actually pretty sympathetic): weight.
I have heard multiple people complaining that doctors obsess over their weight to the detriment of all other topics, and multiple horror stories where a doctor refuses to even listen to complaints, brushing them off with a simple “lose some weight fatty” responses.
I have also heard some vaguely plausible stories where weight is not correlated with (or at least not as badly correlated with as you would hear) early death and health problems (I would love to hear the actual facts on this).
So in this case we have a bunch of people complaining that doctors are incorrect about a massive aspect of medicine, and actually sound pretty much correct, or at the very least not like raving loons.
I think it is not complicated. Masculinity as such is dominant at the root, we have plenty of evidence of T and dominant attitudes correlating, even in women and trans people getting T boosters. And the left/right divide is all about the left hating dominance status (they call it oppression or repression) and want the far more ambiguous prestige status ladder instead (where artists, scientists, moralist, “cool people” win) and the right preferring the functional, unambiguous dominance hierarchies, like military stuff. When I read military fiction like Falkenberg’s Legion it is so reassuring: everybody having their clearly defined place in the chain of command. You don’t have to be cool, just to do your job well and eventually you will be promoted. Even the thrive/survive is about this. So obviously the right is at the very least partially about accepting masculine-dominant values and the left is about rejecting them.
My point is that this is precisely how it should be: left and right are the “most themselves” when they have this bro/sissy distinction. This is when things are crystal-clear. When they don’t have this, they are getting too complex, abstract and weird. And dishonest. Che Guevara was a bro, an alpha, why did he fight for these leftie anti-dominance values? Because he wanted to be new boss, not suck up to the old boss. Well, that is dishonest really.
BTW the most psychologically interesting part is how in the US left-wing men insult Ann Coulter. Usually it is really dirty sexual fantasies.
BTW the most psychologically interesting part is how in the US left-wing men insult Ann Coulter. Usually it is really dirty sexual fantasies.
I’ve always found it surprising how often SJWs seem to use “butt-hurt” as an insult. Coming from members of a subculture which is supposed to be very anti-homophobia, the use of an insult which implies their opponent has been on the receiving end of anal sex is… interesting, to say the least.
Comment sections on left-wing websites have a carnival atmosphere (in the sense of ordinary norms being temporarily abandoned or reversed) when Ann Coulter or another female right-wing pundit comes up: a lot of misogynistic insults, for instance, which usually are not OK. In Coulter’s case specifically, a lot of transphobic jokes centering around her Adam’s apple. And so on.
Well, in both cases, it’s “you think you are one of us, you say you are one of us, but you are not really one of us”.
The emphasis is different, though. The implication of “brogressive” is a wolf in sheep’s clothing: he is accused of acting in a way that directly harms those the left is supposed to be fighting for.
The implication of “cuckservative” is a sheep in wolf’s clothing: he is accused of talking a good game, while actually having internalized the worldview of the left. He can’t be relied upon when push comes to shove.
I was just reading this article about a study showing that text messages ending with periods are perceived as less sincere: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/12/08/study-confirms-that-ending-your-texts-with-a-period-is-terrible/
Reading the linked study (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215302181), though, the effect size seems kind of puny. It looks like texts with periods had a mean sincerity rating of 3.85 with a stddev of 0.99, and texts without periods had a mean of 4.06 with a stddev of 1.00; so we’re only talking 0.2 sigma of difference. Any thoughts?
Maybe I should add a mispelling or two to look even more sincere
What the hell does “less sincere” even mean? “More formal, less personal” I could understand; the idea that correct grammar and punctuation means you’re not emotionally engaged might make a kind of half-baked sense.
But if I’m sending you a message that “Dear James, Because you haven’t paid your electricity bill we are cutting off your power”, I mean it just as much if I end it “power.” as if I ended it “power”.
I think this is simply a case of a newspaper needing filler and going “Hey, what’s down with the young people these days? They ‘text’, don’t they, Chauncey?” 🙂
Why are you polluting this space with mediocre ideas?
Does anyone have a comment on this story, Social media sites don’t need government to shut down terrorists? I think Feinstein’s law should be passed. Online jihadi or other violent communities should obviously be closely watched. Some of the criticism of this proposal comes from the idea that its implementation will be absurd or abusive, but I don’t see why we should believe that. I have not noticed any critic proposing a better implementation of the law; their real agenda seems to be shutting down anything that conflicts with knee-jerk free speech absolutism, without any detailed accounting of costs and benefits. What, by the way, are supposed to be the social benefits of allowing this propaganda? Saying that “it’s news” does not seem a great defense if the news causes a panic that in turn leads to irrational social outcomes, like say, electing Donald Trump. And folks who consistently spread ISIS propaganda or say that terrorism is good are creating an environment where terrorism is respected, a kind of market for terrorism, and at some point this will likely lead to terrorism. Folks like this woman in California who keep going on about jihad or violence should not only be monitored, but arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.
I know nothing about the text of the Feinstein law, but in principle I’m happy to see Obama and the Socialist government of France demand that social media companies stop enabling terrorism and disagree with the Washington Post.
It’s rare to see someone refute their own argument so quickly and definitively.
Going from “critics are motivated by knee-jerk free speech absolutism” to “we need this law to prevent Donald Trump from winning the election!” in the space of one sentence is a perfect explanation for why free speech absolutism is necessary for a free society. The first ammendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression exists in large part to prevent people like your heroine there from being able to block out information that might support political rivals.
The big damage inflicted by terrorism is not the physical damage (which is obviously small) but the repercussions, like stupid policies and overreaction. So why not stop the waves of stupidity from spreading or at least be open to dampening them?
Because it’s not up to any one individual or party to decide in advance that a particular electoral result would constitute an overreaction and thus illegal to talk about. At that point why even bother having elections to begin with: after all, you already have the right answer.
The weirdest part of this is again that this sort of tyranny is in itself an overreaction to the threat of terrorism. Your proposal would be exactly the kind of law which it is intended to stop!
I’m really not sure if you’re doing this on purpose, constructing self-refuting arguments as some kind of meta-level point.
How do you feel about the government censoring news about say… a police shooting? You can make a very similar argument to justify that?
I admit I have pretty low confidence in my comment about Trump, so I’ll just concede you folks are right that legitimate news should be protected. But I don’t see why the law’s implementation could not allow for that–the idea that you would be reported under this law just for typing search terms, say, seems preposterous.
And I still think allowing folks who consistently advocate terrorism to avoid criminal charges is bad, either because those folks will actually commit violent acts, because they will go on to build communities where violence is encouraged and convince someone else to commit violence, or because their statements cause further harm and humiliation to prior victims who survived attacks.
ok, so if someone is calling for a country to be bombed by someone else.
Like, for example, iraq, afghanistan or syria, perhaps in response to some other event then that person should be guilty of a crime?
No, that’s approved violence. Arguably yes it’s often state terrorism, but it doesn’t matter. It’s taken as assumed that we are talking about unnecessary violence, not approved of by the state.
The US is a government, so asking the US to bomb Afghanistan isn’t advocating terrorism. Asking your neighbor to bomb Afghanistan personally outside the military might be advocating terrorism, though. Do you believe this is often asked?
ok, so you’re ok with people advocating killing, violence, murder as long as it’s the kind you’re ok with and that should be allowed as free speech but doing things like supporting politicians you don’t like and advocating killing, violence, murder in ways you disapprove of is not allowed.
Your idea of a free state is sounding really appealing.
@Murphy Yes, in the same way that I think the state should be allowed to, e.g., apprehend criminals, but gangsters kidnapping random people should not be allowed.
define “advocate terrorism”.
Am I allowed to campaign to try to convince Israel to send it’s soldiers to kill Mahmoud Abbas? how about Abu Bakr?
For many practical purposes ISIS acts as a state in the areas it controls. Can I campaign to convince them to send soldiers to kill someone? How about if I think North Korea should kill someone?
I am reminded of “Moral Distortion”:
I don’t think the terrorist reporting law moves us toward a police state-that seems to be a misconception or misplaced fear by its opponents. The encryption law does seem unfortunate.
Racism is uncharitable, while the state importing violent people is a violation of the social contract. The state’s job is to keep us safe, for which we rationally trade away our natural right to use violence.
The idea that “racism” (by which they mean religious or cultural chauvinism) is so evil that the state is morally obligated to get its citizens killed and/or create a police state to avoid it is just pants-on-head stupid. The word serves as a thought-terminating cliche to mindlessly equate things as benign as discriminating between religions or wanting all citizens to learn the same language in school to Hitler and the Atlantic slave trade.
“ISIS Gives Us No Choice but to Consider Limits on Speech” by Prof. Eric Posner.
Is that article serious?
It’s such an obvious “find-and-replace” of “communist subversion” to “Islamic radicalization” that it’s comical.
Also, “radicalize” is one word I would like to strike from the vocabulary. Jihadists are not innocent victims minding their own business until they passively get “radicalized” by a “radicalizer”. Islamism is not a disease. They are responsible for their own decisions.
I guess soon we’ll have a vaccine against Republicanism.
Excuse me sir, my internet seems to be broken.
Every time I click on a link for CNN or Slate it takes me to The Onion. 😉
Here’s to Mr. Posner. I like how in the comments of that article, the liberals are freaking out.
And Vox, to the contrary, I think we should not demonize radicalized folks, like that teenager who eventually provided material help to terrorists. It is much better to turn back such folks with a law than do nothing until they commit more serious crimes and get, e.g., 11 years in jail. Calmly allowing that to happen is cruel.
Paternalism, “it’s society’s fault”, “it’s for their own good”.
Sounds like softheaded progressivism to me!
I, for one, look forward to fucking with any such filter. ISIS jihad bomb assassination zionist plot haram death to america.
(Long-time lurker, first-time commenter.)
My mom (a geriatrician) has an interesting philosophy regarding woo treatments. She accepts that homeopathy and such cannot hold its own in a scientific experiment and of course would not prescribe any such treatment to any of her patients. However, she says that she still supports the existence of treatments like this, because they a) give people hope and let the placebo affect work its magic, and b) can keep people away from drugs with bad side-effects, or strange experimental treatments. Additionally, if someone is a hypochondriac, they would probably be a smaller drain on the medical system if they spend their own money on homeopathy pills and magic crystals than if they show up in a legitimate hospital every time their leg hurts.
So my question is, do you guys think that quack treatments can in some cases have a net positive effect despite being demonstrably ineffective?
I like your mom’s idea and find it intriguing.
>cannot hold its own in a scientific experiment
>placebo effect work
These statements are in contradiction.
You have a fatal disease. You take a pill, and recover.
1. It was a placebo, so it was demonstrably ineffective, therefore you’re really dead.
2. The placebo effect actually makes people better than doing nothing.
The placebo effect is demonstrably effective. It deserves vast research to figure out how to trigger it more strongly without lying. (Lies are unstable.) Normal placebo strengths as compared to nothing are in the 10-20% absolute range. What if, all this time, we could have had 50% strength placebos?
Though admittedly placebos aren’t that useful on fatal diseases. E.g. cancer seems to be almost immune.
In the meantime, you can placebo yourself. A placebo treatment is one that works because you believe it works. So, believe you can think yourself back to health. It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and each time it works it will get a little stronger.
You have a fatal disease. You take a pill, and recover.
1. It was a placebo, so it was demonstrably ineffective, therefore you’re really dead.
2. The placebo effect actually makes people better than doing nothing.
I am found of pointing out that ‘homeopathy’ is the traditional medicine that always comes to mind in the US (instead of, say, Chinese traditional medicine or voodoo or so on) despite being so recent because it was actually more effective than conventional medicine when it was first invented. (Pure water plus placebo effect was competing against leeches plus placebo effect. I know which way I’d bet.)
I think that a reductionist alternative can and should exist, so while one might not want to prioritize homeopathy for destruction homeopathy is still not part of the Good Future and the niche it fills (“there’s nothing we can do that’s positive EV, but we still care”) should be explicitly replaced.
That’s not exactly true. There used to be lots of alternative medical paradigms that didn’t use leeches or poisons either. By far the biggest was a huge variety of religious practices involving prayer and amulets.
In our increasingly connected world, these were forced to compete, and most of them have gone down. Homeopathy happened to do unusually well in this competition. I believe you are right to say its essential harmlessness helped it here. But there is also the factor that it is really easy to industrialize (homeopathic medicine is made in factories) und to spread. In homeopathy, unlike many other alternative medicines, the specialist who handles it is not required to have particular personal qualities (piety, extended apprenticeship, whatever) that qualify for the job. Finally, homeopathy was relatively quick to adjust its claims of effectiveness way down, incurring less resistance from the proponents of actual medicine.
B seems questionable, what about gateway woo?
I’ve have a good friend with cancer. The treatments have really terrible side effects. Not just the chemo, but also the drugs meant to alleviate the side effects of the chemo. Her SO has been pushing bizzaro treatments. My initial reaction was — sure eat carrots while standing your head, it’s not going to hurt. But then I listened as her SO explained that doing so would cure the cancer without all these horrible side effects and didn’t I think she should fly to Germany right away.
The line between complimentary and alternative is very thin, and arguments of the former often turn out to be the bailey to the latter’s motte.
Or to put in more plainly if you give them take an inch they may end up killing your friends and family. Resist them in the air, resist them on the beaches, resist them in the streets.
I’m often willing to try dubiously useful things for a similar reason: May as well give the placebo effect a chance.
I mean…you encounter people who say, “Science has its limits,” and you’re never sure if they know what they’re talking about or if they’re just abusing a platitude to defend [woo|evolution skepticism|etc.]. Thing about science is it’s our best hope for reliable knowledge increase.
But that increase in knowledge is slow as well as steady. For everyday life, sometimes you need to go beyond science and into guesses, instinct, giving the placebo effect a chance, etc.–because those things are faster and you need to make a decision now.
Similarly–science gives us a slow *increase* in knowledge, meaning we don’t know everything *now*. You can easily get hit by something we…don’t yet know about. (Imagine someone with a stomach ulcer in 1600. It hadn’t yet been “discovered”–hadn’t even been diagnostically separated from other stomach problems–let alone had any actual treatments. And then it took till the 1980s to figure out that h. pylori played a role.) In such a case, science can’t yet help you.
And then of course there are the many more problems that we have identified, but for which we do not yet have a good treatment–in which case, again, science can’t currently help you.
There’s some room for altruism in continuing to take such a problem to science-based medicine even as they keep not helping you, just to give them a chance to write it up and contribute to medical knowledge. Someday, much later, someone else can be helped. But not you.
But subjecting yourself to that can be extremely stressful. Most doctors, if they’re not paying attention, slip into the attitude that they and science already know everything–therefore if they can’t figure out what’s wrong with you, you’re just crazy. It takes a rare thoughtfulness and perceptiveness for a doctor to notice that hey, this might be an as-yet-unnamed disease. Similarly, doctors want to be able to help you–so even when they diagnose you with something we don’t know how to treat, there’s a human tendency to get annoyed with *you* for remaining sick. Even though intellectually, they know there’s nothing you or they can do about it.
So I suspect there are a fair number of people out there who just…won’t subject themselves to that, at least not for very long…and who resort to woo/placebo/self-experimentation instead.
They’re going to do it no matter what I think, because they have to, just to try to keep themselves functioning…but, well, I can see why.
…I’m reminded of the post that led me to this blog in the first place: https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/07/17/who-by-very-slow-decay/
What do people here think of affirmative action and the UT case that is before the Supreme Court?
1. I don’t think aff action is unconstitutional, and I think that a lot of the legal argument on the subject is “affirmative action is racist!!!” in legal jargon. It involves the types of tradeoffs between efficiency, equity, and political impacts that properly belong in the political branches.
2. I think that counteracting the effect that racism has on the economy and society as a whole is a legitimate government purpose, even when done through race-based policies. I’m not a fan of fake neutrality in the law. Racism does exist and the government ought to take that into account in its actions.
3. I think the policy case for affirmative action is weak, and I’m not convinced that such policies do more good than harm. Particularly when the political cost of such programs is taken into account. Such programs could also serve as counter productive if they serve to spread the idea that minority college graduates are less qualified.
4. I think that most of the racial differences in college attendance happen prior to collage admissions, and therefore a lot of the effect of aff action is displacement — i.e. affirm