Testimonials for SSC

[Content note: various slurs and insults]

I.

Last post I thanked some of the people who have contributed to this blog. But I forgot some of the most important contributors: the many readers whose give valuable feedback on everything I write.

So here’s a short sample of some of the feedback I’ve gotten over the past three years. I’m avoiding names and links to avoid pile-ons, but you can probably find most of these if you Google them.

II.

“It’s like someone tried to make fivethirtyeight as uninteresting as possible.”

“Slate Star Codex: 20,000 words on ‘feminism is bad’ and ‘Tom Swifties are the funniest shit I’ve ever seen'”

“Mark Atwood spent a month on the SSC registry of bans. It is my belief that Scott uses his toolbox of psychiatric techniques to manage the range of comment allowable on his blog. This may be justified in order to minimize flaming and trolling, but it is also a stifling form of censorship.”

“Go read the comment section on Slate Star Codex for a week and report back if you think LessWrongism is acceptable. It’s a place for broken people to be shielded from ever hearing that they’re broken and for developing better and better rationalizations for why they’re not broken and shouldn’t do the work needed to fix themselves. And SSC is miles better than lesswrong itself which is a weird cult centered around gnome in charge Eliezer Yudkowski. Just read the post where Scott let ozymandius post about all the ways that Roissy is wrong. The information there permanently disqualifies anyone associated with it from from having anything to do with building a functioning society.”

“Scott Alexander’s blog used to be good, but now he has been terrorized out of politics. Therefore boring. The problem was he purged all frequent commentors to the right of him out of the comments, which means that he had only enemies in his comments. And, being the rightmost, was persecuted. He has stopped posting on politics, I assume as a result of this persecution.”

“it’s by a stuttering aspie with expertise in nothing at all”

“a mentally-ill beta male who literally admitted that he wished he could become an asexual.”

“He is a fairly smart guy who makes well reasoned arguments. (He is also a literal cuckold.)”

“never forget for one fucking second that its author (who is ‘asexual’) and his most avid readers engage in ‘cuddle puddles’ irl, often bringing stuffed animals, and that he recommends this because it ‘increases credence’ in the other cuddlers’ statements.”

“his arguments only seem well-reasoned to people with NO knowledge of the subject matter (like him), and thus his main effect (just like that of his mentor, Eliezer Yudkowsky) is to keep smart people from learning things”

“oh what an expert in psychiatry! he’s a fucking med student in IRELAND. not to mention he uses yudkowsky’s lingo and called Less Wrong “revelatory” or something like that. you are dealing with a 110 IQ reddit type in SSC.”

“here is a series of a few posts (1, 2, 3) about how he is basically a conspiracy theorist, and in these posts he gets completely owned by the guy who cucked him with his tranny ex.”

“Merciful $DEITY. If I had any inclination to participate [on SSC], that [Guns and States] comment thread would have turned me completely off of it. How much more SJW-feminist-entitled can you get?…Extreme? No. Hard-line SJW enough that I’ve got better things to do than try to engage them? Yes. SJW-feminist-entitled? Yes.”

“SSC skews toward highly intelligent discourse, but Scott is very protective of his liberal homies. He will ban you if you stray too far from PC rigor.”

“I’d always got a whiff of fedora from this guy, so I feel gratified in my judgment at seeing him come out as one.”

“Faggot blocked me for calling out some recent bit of his retarded bullshit. Fuck ‘im.”

“Reading Slate Star Codex, I feel like I’m finally strarting to understand how postmodernism happened. First, there’s the whole thing of looking at your friends and a few books you happened to have read recently, and jumping to grand conclusions about all of society throughout all of history. Second, there’s the thing of him writing lengthy posts elaborating at great length on something that might be either boring and obviously true or bold and innovative but also completely wrong.”

“Aargh!! I read that entire Scott Alexander piece…well 65% of it…in earnest with the expectation that there was going to be a POINT to it. Some sort of payoff for my investment of time and attention. But there was nothing. It was just a bunch of bloviation with no purpose.”

“Scott Alexander is the story of a functioning pattern-recognition module trapped in a progressive brain. It would make a great story of its truth-seeking brain blob could eventually break free and rewire his brain to be a born-again reactionary. Not gonna happen though. The prog morality police has a hard, thick grasp on his brain, and all his friends and pseudosexual partners are the leftiest hacks this side of Lenin; so it’s an endless futile battle to square the circle. No wonder he went into psychiatry.”

“I retain great hopes for Scott, he’ll come around. When he does he’ll bring a high level of rigor with him. He is a caterpillar and will become a beautiful reactionary butterfly someday.”

“slatestarcodex is a great example of the difference between ‘knowing how to type’ and ‘knowing how to write'”

“You aren’t reading it right. Scott’s ability to completely identify the problem but still, quite sincerely, ritually abase himself to it at the same time, makes him worthy of connoisseurship. It takes a once in a generation talent to write long sincere *thoughtful* screeds pointing out that baby sacrifice is lowering the birth rate and causing family trauma, though of course he fully understands and endorses that Lord Moloch must be sated with the only food acceptable unto him.”

“Scott Alexander reminds me of some too-nice beta (nominally played by Joseph Gordon Leavitt or a JGL-alike) from some rom-com who’s trying to find his way and get the girl, while painfully oblivious to the fact that he just needs to stop being a too-nice beta and rip out somebody’s jugular. Ostracize someone for their beliefs? Me? Never. Golly gee.”

“seems like these guys are incapable of being dismissive of anything and have to objectively analyze everything.”

“Slate Star Codex is 140 IQ discussion about 105 IQ issues”

“He is sharp and makes good points but is way too fucking verbose. I dont need parts I II III and IV just fucking write concisely and stop vomiting words on your wordpress blog ”

“it’s basically a fish trap for aspies. people who can’t grasp nuance or understand basic human behavior, but are nonetheless obsessed with details and complex systems will inevitably gravitate toward this kind of horseshit. ultimately it’s a bunch of STEM-inclined dudes on the autism spectrum sitting around attempting to unpack societal problems like it was all a game of fucking sim city.”

“I would add that something like Slate Star Codex is also a clinic in the aspie tendency to miss the forest for the trees, except in this case it’s more like closely examining the bark on the trees for no goddamn reason whatsoever.”

“doesn’t this guy have a dayjob as like a doctor or something? why the fuck does he spend hours each day on a blog?” [to which another person on the same forum responded “why the fuck do you spend hours each day posting here?”]

“a blog populated by 99th percentile aspergers/IQ “rationalist” millennials who converse in an abnormally abstract style, and whose concrete cultural experience is drawn mainly from a bunch of weird nerd shit.”

“Its weird brand of reductionism and bizarre, arbitrary specificity plays to the types of spergy assholes and dumb know-it-all teenagers who don’t care about that anyway, or at least that’s how it seems to me. I mean, the ideas themselves seem like they’d be as much of a turn-off to regular people as their proponents’ personalities are, even if in a different way.”

“Oh, hey, the King of the Race Realist Misogynist Libertarian Nerds has Clever Things to say about vaccination.”

“yet another confirmation that: psychiatrists are crazier than their patients. polyamorous, diarrhea of the mouth/pen, math challenged, … i had no idea what an utter piece of shit you were.”

“He keeps his head down for fear of insulting permanently insulted people. He tries hard to be polite to people who hate him and consider him but a dog, unless they need him – and until they need him no longer. It is a waste of intellect, and debasement of character.”

“What makes me sad about Scott is just how close he is. I won’t give up hope on him yet. If only there was some way to secretly inject this guy with testosterone.”

“I wonder if he’s had bloodwork done to check his T count. I have to assume that if someone is an “asexual heteroromantic” as he puts it, that he’s interested in women from some abstract standpoint, and just needs some additional hormones to be thoroughly normal.”

“I literally want to see you kill yourself. I’m serious. You, and everyone else like you, are fucking disgusting wastes of space that are causing the decay of decency in the human race. I’m not going to argue with you, or say that it’s just my opinion or that it’s even up for debate.”

“is it some sort of special ‘Talk Like a Vulcan Day’ over there? Or are they always like that?”

“ssc spends a significant amount of time talking about stuff like how tables and chairs can be genders. he keeps a pretty unhinged tumblr”

“He’s definitely a beta orbiting cuckold.”

“that article seemed like a return ticket to obviousville with eight-hour layovers everywhere”

“That blog is very boring, and I didn’t manage to read long enough to find out what it was about. I hit Page Down a couple of times, and it seemed like it was on an entirely new topic each time.”

“I am thankful that I have never had any desire to seek psychiatric help. I have always had the impression, rightly or wrongly, that folks who pursue psychiatry as a career may themselves be the ones most in need of such therapy. Go to the mountains and look. Get up early and see the sunrise. Stop anywhere and take a minute to look at the beauty of nature all around you. We are a small piece in the universe, but still a part. The plan is good. You are fine. You will succeed if you try hard enough. Everything you need spiritually is inside you and has always been there. Stop complaining.”

“Also that ‘heteronormative asexual’ Scott Alexander. What a bizarre kike. He recently wrote that he’s incapable of not writing. LOL so kikish.”

“I thought it was a blog about science methodology until that post with the talking cactus.”

1,572 thoughts on “Testimonials for SSC

  1. Gerry Quinn

    “Slate Star Codex is 140 IQ discussion about 105 IQ issues”

    If so, you’d think it could solve them!

  2. Peter Smythe

    Author of one of the comments above. For what it’s worth, this was the full post:

    “I really like it actually.

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/04/28/the-control-group-is-out-of-control/

    He is a fairly smart guy who makes well reasoned arguments. (He is also a literal cuckold.)

    Apart from being overly friendly a small number of stupid SJW, his analysis on most things is interesting.

    He is big on “poly”, “rationality”, and “AI” and I think those things are mostly cringeworthy, but his comments on other things are mostly top notch. “

  3. Southe

    Huh. So I don’t generally post (mainly because just reading SSC feels like trying to cram a 140 IQ shoe onto a 110 IQ foot and I’m insecure enough that I don’t enjoy interacting with people considerably smarter than me) but I’ve got to say that if the quality of the insults you get is any indication, then reading your blog is a good investment of my time. Nobody who manages to rile up neo-reactionary edgelords and death-threat spewing hard-lefties to that degree can be all bad, and anyone who gets called a “beta cuck” is okay in my book.

    Also I thoroughly enjoy your fiction. And a lot of your non-fiction analysis. And whatever the hell Meditations on Moloch was. So there’s that.

  4. Mike

    I don’t usually post, but just want to say that this is one of my favorite blogs going. Don’t always agree with your points, but I’ve never read another blog that has so consistently made me go ‘huh, never thought about it like that’.

    And don’t listen to those saying that doing a post like this has bad ‘optics’ or whatever. Everyone should be able to poke fun at themselves sometimes. Making a post like this shows that you have a sense of humor about trolls and flamers. It’s hardly the kind of thing that’s going to draw more. Seriously people, learn to human.

    If you think this just makes the blog look weird, please see exhibit A: The Moloch Post. That is 9000% weirder than this is, and is also one of my favorite posts on this blog.

    Thanks again Scott!

  5. BBA

    In the spirit of celebrating those who insult us, I like the more subtle insults and faint praise on John Quiggin’s blog. Things like “I do not know how he is a professor, but anyway he purports to be an economist.”

  6. Anonymous

    I expect this has been said a couple hundred times in the comments already, but Scott, SSC is great and so are you. Don’t let the haters get you down.

  7. ADifferentAnonymous

    “a mentally-ill beta male who literally admitted that he wished he could become an asexual.” actually contains one of Scott’s favorite forms of flattery: conflation with Scott Aaronson.

    1. Mark

      I was watching dogma the other day – the angels have no genitals – and I was thinking – that really would be the ultimate human form – (more-or-less) physiologically, mentally normal – full of vigor – but without any sexual desire or genitalia. Asexuality has an image problem – asexuality to me means – weak… socially crap…. and sort of suspect – are you really asexual? What are you hiding? But I think that if we got rid of sexuality in a cool way we’d solve all kinds of problems. At the very least we’d get rid of people who insist that all shitty behavior has its roots in sexual desire. ( I think I would genuinely be prepared to sacrifice my penis to raising the level of the pseduo-philosophical internet discourse (that we all love so much) just a little. )

      Anyway… effective altruism… we need to get a normal person without genitals. Someone should get to work on making it happen.

      1. Maware

        This would be like breeding a human being with no head, because it’s far more efficient to run without that ungainly protuberance providing all that wind resistance.

        1. Mark

          Not really: whichever particular genital configuration you happen to have, you can be sure that a large number of people have an entirely different set-up. It’s therefore less of a stretch to say that the normality of a person isn’t linked to their genitals than it is to say it isn’t linked to them having a head. (Also, just in terms of size/function a closer comparison would be to say something like: “we should get rid of ears/mouths because blah blah blah).

          Anyway, I wouldn’t object to headless humans if there were a good reason to create them – the purpose of creating genital-less humans is to reduce the amount of time wasted thinking about sex, possibly to make us less susceptible to immorality due to lust – the (stated) purpose of removing heads is to make us more efficient at doing some rather pointless activity.
          So, actually, removing heads to make us faster runners would be closer to suggesting something like making penises prehensile in order to increase sexual pleasure – that is – a failure or taste and wisdom and misunderstanding of what it is to be a human.
          That way, degradation into chaotic pleasure blobs lies.

          (How many weirdness points does this comment get?)

          1. Vox Imperatoris

            Making penises prehensile in order to increase sexual pleasure sounds to me more reasonable than removing them. In fact, I don’t see anything particularly wrong with the idea.

          2. John Schilling

            Making penises prehensile in order to increase sexual pleasure sounds to me more reasonable than removing them.

            I’m pretty sure you just want the prehensile penis for cheating at cards.

          3. Vox Imperatoris

            I didn’t say anything about having us all work our hair up into crests whose size depends on our social rank.

      2. onyomi

        Um, but I like sex.

        Interesting this idea should be proposed on the site which is apparently an audience for “meal squares,” which, so far as I can tell, is a way to make eating as efficient and boring as possible.

        Maybe we can just outsource living to computers altogether and we won’t have to bother?

        1. Mark

          Why don’t we get rid of sexual desire first and then see if we want to re-institute it. Try it out – lets see what works.

          In the meantime, perhaps we could have some kind of serum you inject into your groin that provides something akin to sexual pleasure.

          1. Dr Dealgood

            My usual response to these sorts of suggestions is “you first.”

            I’m with onyomi. Sexual desire and sex are great, and moreover both are required to accomplish key goals such as building a family of my own. If you want to castrate yourself go ahead but don’t expect other people to follow.

            Edit: Also, that serum idea sounds horrifying. Did you specifically pick injection to make it sound less appealing, or is that just me being weird about needles?

          2. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Dr Dealgood:

            It’s not required to build a family. In vitro feritilization, cloning, etc.

            I wouldn’t be too surprised if Mark really would do such a thing. However, I doubt it would be appealing to many others.

          3. onyomi

            It’s tautological to say “why don’t we remove your desire for fun thing x and see if you still want to do fun thing x.”

            But if you currently enjoy doing x, it isn’t a good argument for why you shouldn’t.

            Unless you’re arguing that the consequences of sexual desire for humanity are so catastrophic that it would be worth eliminating one of the things most people find most enjoyable in life. Considering the useful bonding function of sexual activity, I very much doubt it.

            “Doctor, what can I do to extend my life?”

            “Don’t drink, have sex, or eat fatty food.”

            “And that will make me live longer?”

            “No, but it will sure feel a hell of a lot longer.”

          4. onyomi

            And speaking of food, if we are going to try some utopian project of eliminating something everybody loves, there’s no way we shouldn’t start with eating:

            Eating is the cause of:

            Almost all chronic diseases people in developed countries suffer from, resulting in billions of dollars of unnecessary medical care and lost productivity

            Is itself a very time consuming and expensive activity (I have fasted on nothing but water for several days at a time on more than one occasion, and one of the first things you notice is how much extra time you have).

            So why don’t we develop some sort of bland, nutritious smoothie or intravenous solution that can eliminate the need for this harmful, wasteful, frankly kind of gross (you think sex is yucky? look at the results of all your eating in the toilet) activity?

            (Yes, joking, but it genuinely makes more sense to me than eliminating genitals).

          5. Vox Imperatoris

            @ onyomi:

            Yeah, the food thing makes a lot more sense. (I have never tried Soylent or Mealsquares, but I vaguely “support” them.)

            I like eating really good food, but most of the food I eat is merely okay. I would change out the okay food for extra time. The problem with Soylent, etc. is that they are too expensive.

            Also, IVs are seriously awesome. That’s the thing I liked most about the few times I’ve had to be in the hospital. You get to drink while you’re asleep or too tired to sit up, and you are always maintained at an optimal level of hydration.

            That’s one of the worst things about being sick: you have to drink a lot of liquids, but you don’t want to. If it were safe, cheap, and socially acceptable, I wouldn’t mind being on a saline IV every time I had a bad cold.

    2. anonymous

      Scott Aaronson is literally a genius and this unremarkable schmuck who will never accomplish anything thinks he’s superior because “does Aaronson even lift, bro”.

  8. Subbak

    I’m sorry to hear (although alas not surprised) that you take that much hate for what you write.

    However just because right-wing idiots talk shit at you and think your leftist tendencies make you brain-dead doesn’t magically make you right. You’re a very intelligent person, which makes it all the more infuriating when you get it incredibly wrong (like not even considering the possibility of taxing or nationalizing tulip production/universities).

    I nevertheless hope you keep writing because I enjoy reading the ~80% of posts when you’re not letting your “but what if all the right-wing people were actually right” side get the better of you. And I hope that this torrent of abuse make you less likely (or at least, not more likely) to consider them right. Yes, that could be weakmanning, which would be bad, but at this point you probably need a recalibration on your standards to consider the possibility that some idea might be true.

    Edit: I realize this might sound condescending. That’s not my intention. I’m just a random lurker who comments once in a blue moon, I know I have no business telling you what to do. However given the amount of voices trying to pull you to the right telling you this felt like the correct thing to do.

    1. Nita

      Well, at least you didn’t call him a caterpillar…

      In a more serious vein, perhaps you could try presenting some arguments that might change Scott’s opinions, when the next disagreement between you comes up?

      1. Subbak

        As I mentionned, I very rarely comment so it’s unlikely that discussion comes up. Mostly this is due to me reading SSC unfrequently (this is an exception of me coming back to check on my comment) and arriving way “after the battle”, but also I’m a bit intimidated by the fact that a large portion of the commenters seem to be of roughly the same opinion as Scott.

        Id did in the comment above form the biggest objection to the wrongest recent-ish post I could think of. There are many other posts I don’t agree with (like the one about tolerating everything but the outgroup), but they’re very old so raising a discussion woudl be even more awkward.

        1. Nita

          I’m a bit intimidated by the fact that a large portion of the commenters seem to be of roughly the same opinion as Scott

          Political opinions here are all over the place — so yes, you might be a minority, but so is everyone else. However, for the same reason, you’ll have to be willing to explain or justify even the most basic assumptions behind your views.

      1. Subbak

        There is one obvious quote that comes from a left winger (“King of the Race-Realists….”), but the rest seems either neutral re: politics or to come from right wing people (or at the very least very socially conservative). But yeah, that one was pretty crummy.

        Did I miss any?

    2. gbdub

      I’d much rather read something from an author with an overactive “but what if [other side] is actually right?” reflex than one who rejects any such thoughts out of hand, which you seem to want Scott to do for some reason. If you want a lefty echo chamber (or a righty one, for that matter) there are plenty such places on the internet already – the beauty of SSC is that it is not such a place.

      1. Subbak

        I don’t want an echo chamber. I like when he examines the possibility that some people on the left are dreadfully wrong, and he’s made me change my mind on some occasion. But when he starts wondering whether racism or colonialism are great ideas, ugh…

        I guess the tulip thing falls under “is the left wrong?” rather than “is the right correct?”, which means I should approve of the principle but the execution is lacking as he is missing the incredibly obvious solution of the government either taxing the benefits, regulating the prices or seizing the means of tulip production.

          1. Subbak

            Except the tulips are not tulips, they’re a stand-in for going to college in the US.
            Even if you agree (which I don’t, at least mostly not, but I could imagine being convinced) that college is mostly useless and that is just as crazy from an outsider point of view as the tulips (in this case, I take it “outsider” means at least “not Western”), you still have to deal with the fact that society-wide change isn’t going to happen magically, so just not subsidising the tulips is not an option. I guess you could in theory both do the subsidy and the (very impractical) fix that Scott suggested to deal with America’s problem with college (making it illegal to ask of candidates for a job to have been to college), or you could try to have a system like in most European countries where going to college doesn’t mean selling both your kidneys.

          2. God Damn John Jay

            I knew an older man whose sister became a millionaire (I got the feeling he told tall tales, but I just mentally divided dollar amounts, hookups and penis sizes by half) after being selected for a bootcamp program for Texas Instruments and then being promoted through the ranks. I think it is likely that if it was possible to run these *without* incurring the HR and lawsuit expenses modern businesses are subject to, more companies would do so.

            (Scott highlighted a comment that it is de jure illegal to ask for a college degree without the job requiring it, so there is also that… even though that will never actually happen)

  9. Hyzenthlay

    never forget for one fucking second that its author (who is ‘asexual’) and his most avid readers engage in ‘cuddle puddles’ irl, often bringing stuffed animals

    I fail to see the problem.

    1. Dr Dealgood

      I fail to see the problem.

      Actually, that failure is the problem.

      Remember that post on adultery, and how much shit Scott took from the comments section (myself included) for saying that explicit vows of monogamy are just meaningless boilerplate? Or how Yudkowsky et al always seem to be shocked when people get upset at the idea that their FAI would naturally forcibly convert everyone into bisexuals and/or lock them off in solipsistic simulated worlds? Or even just the average Culture fan who doesn’t understand why anyone would see their utopia as dystopian?

      You can’t meaningfully address issues of public concern if you have little to no awareness of what people actually want. Solutions that seem obvious in a Berkeley / Internet bubble are often horrifyingly wrong in the real world.

      1. Deiseach

        If the worst thing people engage in is that they all hug one another, then that is pretty bloody tame behaviour to get outraged over.

        It’s not my cup of tea but I’m not very good with physical contact and don’t like strangers in my personal space. Now, if it were a matter of compulsory “cuddle puddles” for all, then I’d understand why the person was so angry about it, but there is nothing to say that you have to do this.

        The tone of the complaint seems to be one of contempt: that Scott and his readers are all such weaksauce emasculated (I have no idea what their opinion of the female readers is – that we’re all ugly/frigid/lesbian or all three?) losers that they can only get cuddles, not sex; and that moreover this is all a regression to infantilism (the mention of stuffed animals) that it’s a further demonstration of how pathetic and futile they all are.

        My opinion? If people’s only or main source of demonstrative physical affection and/or emotional support is going to one of these events and engaging in the cuddle puddle (with or without stuffed animal), good luck to them. Who is it harming?

        What am I supposed to take from the original source: “In contrast, I am such a Manly Man that I go out, drink my own body weight in beer, get into pointless fist-fights, and pick up an anonymous slut to bang for a one-night stand like a proper Red-Blooded American Male every Friday night”? That behaviour impresses me as little as a cuddle puddle.

        1. honestlymellowstarlight

          The tone seemed to me to be one of contempt for massive amounts of ignorance, not any particular masculinity concerns. Not everyone wants to be a hippe in a free-love-n-drugs commune, and that’s where most of the modern Silly-con Valley culture ultimately comes from.

        2. Dr Dealgood

          Now, if it were a matter of compulsory “cuddle puddles” for all, then I’d understand why the person was so angry about it, but there is nothing to say that you have to do this.

          Actually this has been a complaint in Rationalist circles. Once the… “cuddle puddle” … reaches a critical mass all of the non-cuddlers are essentially shown the door. It’s been an obstacle to growing the IRL community.

          What am I supposed to take from the original source

          I happen to have seen the quote in its original context before this, although it seems to have disappeared from the internet since according to Google. I can tell you that you’re half right.

          It was saying that Scott is not-right-in-the-head, insufficiently adult and masculine, and fairly pathetic as a result. But it wasn’t posturing on the part of the author so much as a warning to people unfamiliar with Scott. As in ‘he’s smart and a good writer but he’s not all there and you shouldn’t take his word as gospel’ in cruder language.

          Early Death Eaters were particularly worried about entryists and Scott had just written what was, for a while, the #1 intro text to their philosophy. This was a warning that he was not actually one of them despite that.

          1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

            >Actually this has been a complaint in Rationalist circles. Once the… “cuddle puddle” … reaches a critical mass all of the non-cuddlers are essentially shown the door. It’s been an obstacle to growing the IRL community.

            I’m going to need some confirmation from rationalist-con goers, because the image is just too hilarious.

          2. Vox Imperatoris

            If there is any legitimate part of their criticism I can vaguely get behind, it is the gut feeling I got from reading a lot of Scott’s posts that his emotional-sensitivity meter is tuned a little too high.

            When I read some extremely emotional complaints about issues that are (or at least appear on the surface) less than earth-shattering, it triggers my “Jesus Christ, man up and get over it!” response.

            And if I were a more close-minded, dogmatic type of person, I would have skipped straight to the comments and said, “Jesus Christ, you pussy. Man up and get over it!” But as it is, I think I’ve learned a lot and broadened my experience from reading this blog.

          3. dndnrsn

            @Vox Imperatoris:

            I see what you’re saying – a strong emotional sensitivity.

            But on an individual scale. A lot of the (seeming) left-wing criticisms seem to be built around the idea that he is insufficiently emotionally sensitive on a group scale – the “treats social problems like SimCity”/”dispassionate Vulcan” complaint.

            Thinking about it, the only social problem I have seen him sort of throw up his hands and say “I don’t even know if anything can be fixed” is with the hard lives of some of his patients – people he has interacted with as individuals.

          4. Vox Imperatoris

            @ dndnsrn:

            Well, it depends on whether you’re talking about Scott or the commenters here. Because there is a definite trend from the comments towards tolerating people who say outrageous things—that would get you thrown out of most other places—like “Have we considered solving the problem of dysgenics by sterilizing poor blacks and recolonizing Africa? With the right sort of propaganda, they might even come to appreciate it!”

            I have a hard time imagining the worldview of those who think Scott Alexander is insufficiently empathetic in regard to global problems, however.

            Unless by the route of: anyone who rejects communism doesn’t care about the poor; Scott rejects communism; Scott doesn’t care about the poor. QED

          5. Nornagest

            I have a hard time imagining the worldview of those who think Scott Alexander is insufficiently sympathetic to global problems, however.

            I think it goes something like “if you aren’t getting mad, you’re part of the problem.”

            There’s also the angle I see sometimes from SJ-aligned critics of EA, where a lot of the causes Scott’s sympathetic to — malaria eradication, deworming, etc. — get seen as basically an excuse to propagate neocolonial/White Savior tropes. Never quite understood what the alternative was supposed to be, but I’m biased.

            (I may actually need to update in that direction; until five minutes ago, I had legitimately never considered that there might be a racial angle to dysgenics talk. I am, apparently, not a smart man.)

          6. dndnrsn

            @Vox Imperatoris:

            As I understand it, one of the criticisms is that he takes a numbers-focused approach that, while not callous, offends people with really strong “listen and believe” tendencies, even when his analysis of the numbers ends up agreeing with what they were saying in the first place.

            EDIT: Nornagest expresses it well with the quote about getting mad vs being part of the problem.

            Non-real-world example: A Venusian tells you that Martians are more powerful than, and discriminatory towards, Venusians, and this is hurting Venusians.

            If you respond by sitting down, looking at the average incomes of the two groups, incarceration rates, life expectancy, graduation rates, opinion polls that check what opinion Martians have of Venusians, etc. and then coming back a few hours later and saying “yeah, I crunched the numbers, you definitely have a point, Martians do cause harm to Venusians by discriminating”… It’s taken as offensive that you verified it and that you’re dispassionate about it. You crunched the numbers and viewed it as a factual claim to be tested, rather than focusing on their emotional response to how they perceive their own experience.

          7. Nita

            saying “yeah, I crunched the numbers, you definitely have a point, Martians do cause harm to Venusians by discriminating”… It’s taken as offensive

            Uh, not really accurate, I think. It’s more like, “Yeah, I crunched the numbers, and the evidence is inconclusive. Tsk tsk, this sort of shameless exaggeration is typical of people like you (also other people, but I won’t mention that right now).”

          8. dndnrsn

            @Nita:

            Both have happened. I went with the “checks numbers and it confirms story” option, because it’s not at all mysterious why disagreeing would offend.

          9. dndnrsn

            @Chalid:

            Most people, on the left or the right, seem prone to repeating bits (maybe out of context, or somewhat distorted) of studies, but it’s rarer to see them actually name the study. They cite them, but without the actual citation.

          10. lvlln

            @dndnrsn
            I find your original Venus/Mars example on-point. I’ve seen more than once someone get legitimately angry at someone else NOW FINALLY coming around to agreeing that [x] is a problem after looking at statistics and scientific studies done on the topic when they should have just taken them on their word because they were complaining about it loudly and consistently enough.

            The part that seems to offend is that the other person dared to try to research the topic in order to verify claims made about it rather than taking their own word. This seems to me to be an accurate description of the behavior some of SA’s detractors.

          11. Chalid

            But it shows they’re not offended by the very idea of analysis. Probably the majority of “living wage” supporters can’t explain the details of Card and Krueger. But surely they’re at least aware that the studies consist of some sort of fancy statistics which (they believe) ended up supporting their position, as opposed to “listening and believing.”

          12. dndnrsn

            @Chalid:

            Some people who support a basic income do so because they’ve crunched the numbers, or cite others who have. Some people who support it do so because they think it’s morally right – and do not care if it’s the “best” option in a number-crunching sense. The latter might dislike the reasoning of the former – seeing it as making the ability of a lot of people to survive contingent on some bean counter with a calculator.

            And, there are issues that are far more emotional than basic income.

      2. Nornagest

        Or even just the average Culture fan who doesn’t understand why anyone would see their utopia as dystopian?

        This always confused me. Something like 2/3 of the Culture books revolve around exactly that question, even if Banks is clearly on the Culture’s side.

        1. Dr Dealgood

          At the same time, you have Banks saying that the only people who wouldn’t like living in the Culture are fascists (his word). Whatever he writes in-universe the fan community is probably more influenced by those out-of-universe statements.

          1. anonymous

            I guess it depends on what you mean by fan, but I suspect that more than half, probably almost all, the people who have read all ten Culture books, have read little to no out-of-universe statements about them, nor debated with anyone — either on the internet or off — whether or not it constitutes a utopia or dystopia, nor spun their enjoyment of the books or horror over them into an elaborate political philosophy.

            Just because you loath them doesn’t mean you aren’t in the very same “Berkeley / Internet bubble” as they are. X derangement syndrome types are much more similar X fanboys than they are to the vast bulk of people who just don’t give a fuck.

      3. Hyzenthlay

        Remember that post on adultery, and how much shit Scott took from the comments section (myself included) for saying that explicit vows of monogamy are just meaningless boilerplate? Or how Yudkowsky et al always seem to be shocked when people get upset at the idea that their FAI would naturally forcibly convert everyone into bisexuals and/or lock them off in solipsistic simulated worlds?

        I was also one of those who gave him shit (albeit pretty polite shit) on the adultery remarks, and I’m not familiar with the whole forced-bisexuality/forced-simulated-worlds thing (though it sounds like I’d be against it), but I’d say that consenting adults engaging in mutually enjoyable behavior in a private space is nowhere near either of those things.

        If there actually is an element of coercion to the “cuddle puddle” phenomenon, then that’s a problem. But that particular comment didn’t seem to be coming from a place of concern for people being forcibly cuddled, but rather just “this person engages in behavior that I find weird and squicky,” with the implication that this somehow undermines everything Scott says.

        1. Soumynona

          You’re not familiar with the forced bisexuality/forced simulated worlds thing because it’s completely made up.

          1. Vox Imperatoris

            Worse: as I understand, it’s taking what Yudkowsky has written about as a disastrous outcome of Unfriendly AI and twisting it into what he is actually advocating.

            It’s like saying: George Orwell is some kind of asshole who wants a boot stamping on the human face forever! Well, guess what, Mr. Orwell? Not all of us like being kicked in the face! Maybe you’d realize that if you weren’t such a damn ivory-tower intellectual.

          2. Dr Dealgood

            Forced bisexuality via CEV shenanigans:

            Suppose that Hot Dave is currently strictly heterosexual, and currently strongly disprefers that he want to have sex with men (that is, Hot Dave currently strongly disprefers that he become bisexual, because Hot Dave has a System 1 feeling that this is icky). […] However, Hot Dave is also extrapolated to have some interesting experiences and meet people he otherwise wouldn’t by becoming bisexual, and avoid some social awkwardness; […] Does it make sense for the deciding vote to be cast by the fact that Hot Dave is very attractive to a number of gay men who would wholeheartedly prefer that Hot Dave end up bisexual? Does it make sense for the deciding vote to be cast by a non-counterbalanced consensus from a large number of people outside Dave that the story of the human species seems nicer somehow if Everyone Is Bi? Do we consider this as a factor influencing what we say should count as Hot Dave’s own vote inside CEV, […]?

            Sauce

            This is not the only such quote, nor the most blatant, just the one I was first linked to a while back (and thus knew how to find in a reasonable time period).

            As for the forced sims ones, you can do your own digging but they too are out there.

          3. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Dr Dealgood:

            It seems unreasonable (or at least uncharitable) to describe that as “forced bisexuality”.

            Maybe you reject the entire idea of coherent extrapolated volition. If so, fine. Then attack that.

            But otherwise, I don’t see why you would privilege one’s current will made in an environment of limited information over what one’s own will would be if one had greater information. You can certainly say, “I don’t believe that any computer would be able to determine this.”

            However, to say Yudkowsky wants to force everyone to be bisexual is at best highly misleading.

          4. Dr Dealgood

            @Vox,

            Because it isn’t what one’s will would be at all. Even after going several meta levels up, in his own thought experiment, he can only get his desired endstate to tie the guy’s actual volition. And naturally the tiebreaker isn’t what the guy actually wants, it’s what random strangers would prefer him to want.

            The core idea of CEV is interesting: it’s the Munchkin’s idea of wishing that you were smart enough to make the best and most airtight possible wish. But whenever anyone actually talks about it it’s used as a sort of post-singularity shell game where the computer “extrapolates” exactly far enough to convert every inconvenient no into a yes.

          5. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Dr Dealgood:

            And naturally the tiebreaker isn’t what the guy actually wants, it’s what random strangers would prefer him to want.

            As far as I can tell by that post, he doesn’t endorse those tiebreakers. He just “considers” them.

            And to phrase things as that the extrapolation “ties” his initial volition is misleading. No, in the extrapolation, he finds himself perfectly indifferent between being bisexual or not. Like me when I decide whether to have one brand of tea vs. another that tastes exactly the same. I couldn’t care less which one.

            In that situation, what the hell would you use to break the tie?

      4. Bugmaster

        I think it’s a valid point. It’s one thing to say, “I enjoy cuddle puddles, that’s just my thing”; but it’s a wholly different thing to say, “cuddle puddles are objectively the best form of social interaction, and anyone who does not enjoy them is an idiot”. While neither of these statements implies any kind of coercion, the second one is incredibly myopic, especially coming from someone who is supposed to be smart.

        Obviously, Scott never actually said anything that severe, but IMO his stance on monogamy (or lack thereof) comes close. Generally, any time any kind of a person with a limited life experience says, “I am smart and I have determined what it is that everyone else should want”… well, let’s just say that person is not doing himself any favors.

    2. Dahlen

      That speaks volumes about your particular subculture. I feel my personal space being violated just by looking at pictures of cuddle puddles. ‘Merica, I guess.

      (But anyway, this is just an ignorant furriner talking, by all means keep doing your thing)

      1. Larry Kestenbaum

        pictures of cuddle puddles

        I looked up Google Images for “cuddle puddle”, and found a vast plentitude of images of kittens, puppies, baby otters, owls, etc., etc.

        Only after that were some featuring humans.

        I feel my personal space being violated just by looking

        Perhaps you should avert your eyes, then.

    3. honestlymellowstarlight

      From what I understood, a common class marker for the middle class was avoiding touching people and relatively more focus on personal space violations compared to the other classes.

    4. Scott Alexander Post author

      Well for one thing, I’ve never seen anyone bring stuffed animals to a cuddle puddle.

  10. Ellen

    Now can you please do a Testimonials for SSC, Part 2? With all the nice things people have said about you??

    Stumbling on SSC was one of the greatest things that’s happened to me in the past few years and it would make me really happy to read positive testimonials from all the other people who love your blog.

  11. Vox Imperatoris

    In the spirit of being weird Vulcans, I first of all want to mention that the “prism glasses” Scott recommended last November (that let you read a book / look at your laptop while lying supine with your eyes toward the ceiling) have changed my life! Okay, maybe not something quite that dramatic, but it’s a pretty damn big increase in convenience for, like $12.

    So in that vein, I want to recommend these Fratelli Orsini cashmere-lined leather gloves, which are fully touchscreen compatible. They’re not like the cheap touchscreen gloves I’ve seen elsewhere that have some kind of ugly special pads on the thumb and forefinger. Rather, the entire surface of the palm side is simply given some kind of treatment that makes it work on touchscreens. (I do not know how this works. Nor do I know whether the treatment could potentially wear off eventually, which would be a serious downside.)

    The link I gave is to the women’s gloves, but they also make men’s at the same price. I actually ended up sending the men’s back and exchanging them for the women’s, since my hands are apparently 6 1/2 inches in circumference—smaller than any men’s size. And if you’re going to type on a phone with the gloves on, you need them to fit tight. (If they are tight, typing is not hard at all.) The women’s gloves also come in more interesting colors.

    The advantage of these is that they are warm (relatively, they’re not ski gloves), nice-looking, and completely indistinguishable from a conventional glove. They are suitable for formal dress.

    And these are winter gloves, but they also make unlined touchscreen-compatible driving gloves and military/police-style gloves (i.e. thin, tight-fitting dress gloves). They also sell cheaper, lower-quality touchscreen gloves with the thumb and finger pads.

    Since this is starting to sound like an advertisement, I should note that I’m not getting any kind of referral money from this. I just think they are pretty interesting.

    1. Nornagest

      I do not know how this works. Nor do I know whether the treatment could potentially wear off eventually, which would be a serious downside.

      Most touchscreens work capacitively. The treatment makes the gloves conductive. I don’t know whether the one you’re talking about will wear off or not; the fingertip-only ones usually work by having very fine metal thread sewn into them.

        1. Vox Imperatoris

          You can see it here. It’s from a turn-of-the-century magazine showing a variety of odd “driving garb” for women. Apparently, there was some kind of contest to identify the person depicted, but if it depicts a real woman, I certainly don’t know who it is.

          (This page wasn’t where I originally found it, but it’s what turns up in a reverse image search.)

          1. houseboatonstyx

            Ah. From that context, a time-travelling Emma Peel, disguised as a cadet of the Darths. A male would have been too young for me to trust with such power, but Emma Peel for Anything is fine.

      1. Vox Imperatoris

        Uh, noted.

        Just curious: what do you think is ugly about it?

        I ask because I am familiar with the original-size picture. So maybe it looks different to me than it looks to you.

        1. Mark

          I don’t know… I just find it weirdly repulsive.

          (If I were to describe the picture I’d say that it is a guy with a cold and arrogant expression dressed up as some kind of fantasy gendarme from the 1940s. It puts me in mind of 1984/ judge dredd / nemesis the warlock … I can imagine him gunning people down for thought crimes/traffic violations/being an alien. And whipping people.)

          1. Vox Imperatoris

            That’s not diametrically opposed to the aesthetic I was going for. 😉

            The general semi-militaristic feel, with a stern expression…in fact in a discussion a few weeks ago on Magic: The Gathering (which I have hardly played), I ran across this picture and said the expression reminded me of my avatar a little.

            But I may change it at some point. I’d have to find something else that works at 40×40 pixels, which is the hard part (see below).

        2. smocc

          I don’t mind it, but it’s always reminded me of Lord Farquaad from Shrek. That the picture is cropped directly around the head allows me to imagine a tiny body beneath it, so it feels out of proportion (even though it isn’t).

          That might just be me though. Also the goofy image I get in my head from it is a nice balance to the usually very serious subject matter you engage with here.

          1. Vox Imperatoris

            Interesting take.

            One problem is that most pictures don’t scale very well to that tiny size (40 x 40 pixels). For instance, this one I’ve used before (a picture of singer Yulia Volkova), looks terrible at that size. (And that’s with my best effort to crop it.)

            Another huge limitation is that they have to be square.

            For those following this earth-shattering discussion, here are two other options I considered and rejected:

            A) A cutout from the center of a flag of my own design (or rather: my modification of the Cross of Burgundy flag). Reason for rejection: the white and gold blend together; looks blurry and indistinct.

            B) An Eye of Horus, refitted to square proportions. Reason for rejection: again, white and gold don’t work together at that scale; also too dominated by background. Closest candidate, though!

            Three others I tried just now:

            C) A picture of actress Louise Brooks. Too indistinct.

            D) A picture of Israeli singer Dana International. Doesn’t work at all.

            E) The painting “Italian Girl Drawing Water” by Bouguereau. Looks okay but too small, unless cropped too close. And even then…

        3. Nita

          Since you’re soliciting feedback, I vote in favour of keeping it. It looks like a badass lady to me, and also somehow suits you (although apparently you’re not a lady yourself).

          1. onyomi

            I like the picture, but I interpreted it as male in the thumbnail version. Looks like Kato in a medieval scholar’s hat.

          2. onyomi

            Speaking of which, I’ve not yet tried changing my avatar. I assumed one put the link to the image in the “website” field, but that seems not to work. How does one do that?

          3. onyomi

            testing

            Okay, it worked. And even retroactively changed all my old posts. Thank you.

            I feel a little ambivalent about actually customizing it (as I think attaching a picture of any kind may subtly encourage me, and possibly others, to get more emotional/personal about my SSC persona), but who am I kidding if I want to claim I don’t spend enough time on SSC to justify the effort?

          4. onyomi

            Oh no! So now this pegs me as belonging to a particular camp. Maybe the nondescript orange square was better, as I like the idea of people having to read my posts at least a little before forming snap judgments, but I guess the Japanese name probably already pegs me for a weeaboo.

            it is actually a video game, though. I never played the game myself, but when Persona 5 came out, more than one person told me the main character looked like me.

  12. PsyXe

    HAHAHAHA when you get this sort of hate from both sides you know you have to be doing something right! Shine on you awesome Vulcan talking cactus, and please don’t get less verbose or aspie-ish, EVER.

  13. anon

    I think you missed a really excellent example of the form:

    “These “Dark Enlightenment” types, Anissimov and associated bloggers in particular, are current or former members of the Less Wrong crowd. Less Wrong holds meet-ups around the globe, and I have been to a few. These people are insane. They are nerd shitlibs of the highest degree; their high intelligence has made them quite possibly the dumbest people who ever lived. The entire philosophy of Less Wrong is to replace common sense and use our rationality for everything.

    I could probably tell stories about these Less Wrong types all day. They’re all young people in their early 20s and none of them have ever had real jobs. I was once incredulously asked why I hadn’t take my degree and moved to California to work at a start-up. They speak earnestly of “polyamory” which happens to look a lot like polygyny (all non-ugly girls in the group were f**king the tall, fit, handsome student from Germany.) At one meet-up everyone joined hands in a big circle and made a solemn promise to make the world a better place – my spidey sense tingling, I declined to participate and have never returned.

    The only difference between the neo-Reactionaries and Less Wrong proper is that the former has decided Progressivism is wrong and dumb. Even Scott Alexander in his Anti-Reactionary FAQ manages to note of neo-Reactionaries: “I like that they’re honestly utopian.” Alexander stupidly touts this as a good thing; he may as well have called them Progressives.”

    from mpcdot.com.

    1. honestlymellowstarlight

      I have heard it described as “Yudkowski-Yarvin-Landism”, before, by other turbo nerds who spend to much time on the internet.

      1. Nornagest

        It’s funny how well spelling “Yudkowsky” with an ‘I’ predicts attitudes. I mean, I can come up with reasons why it might have happened, but they’re all basically just-so stories.

        1. Dr Dealgood

          I do it from time to time and I’m not a huge fan of his, so I can speak for at least one of us.

          Mainly, it’s because the guy has a huge and unusual name. It’s legitimately tough to remember, even after reading tens of thousands of words of the guy’s prose. I usually just google it and copy-paste if I need to refer to him now.

          His given name is even worse in that regard but luckily we’re not on a first name basis.

        2. honestlymellowstarlight

          This was a genuine spelling mistake on my part (it should be “Yudkowsky-Yarvin-Landism”, I reported incorrectly), I’d like some follow-up on what you’re darkly hinting at.

        3. Vox Imperatoris

          Yeah, I’m not sure what the hint’s supposed to be, either.

          For the record, I never found Eliezer Yudkowsky hard to remember / hard to spell. It’s entirely phonetic. But I did study Russian…

          1. honestlymellowstarlight

            My library has Tolsoi’s and Tolstoy’s, and I end up reading a lot of Russian math papers from various eras of Latinization.

          2. MawBTS

            Am I the only one who thinks Eliezer Schlomo Yudkowsky is the most ridiculously Jewish name ever? He’s like an English person called John Smith, or a Canadian called Bob McKenzie.

            I just want to grab him by his ankles and shake him to see if any loose shekels fall.

          3. Vox Imperatoris

            @ honestlymellowstarlight:

            Yes, the -i/-y thing could go either way. The latter is more prevalent, though.

            @ MawBTS:

            Yes, I think it is a hilariously stereotypical Jewish name. And I didn’t know his middle name was Schlomo!

            It’s not like “John Smith”. (That would be like “Aaron Cohen” or something.) It’s like “Geoffrey Cholmondley-Warner”.

            Or “Theodore Dalrymple” but real.

          4. Scott Alexander Post author

            I can do better – my Hebrew name is Shlomo and my family name before Ellis Island was Shlomovich. “Hi, yes, my name is Shlomo Shlomovich, no, I consider myself an atheist, why do you ask?”

        4. sweeneyrod

          During the Palaeolithic Era, spelling Yudkowsky with an ‘I’ signalled a self-aware attitude that made those who did attractive to potential mates. By contrast, using a ‘Y’ indicated a tendency towards asking reproductively useless philosophical questions, and was less favoured.

          1. Vox Imperatoris

            And you’re not even getting into the subtle differences in pronunciation!

            In pastoral societies, pronouncing the name “you’d-COW-ski” enhanced reproductive success because it suggested that the speaker had a large number of cattle and could provide for many women in his harem.

            However, pronouncing it “you’d-COFF-ski” signaled sickness (obviously, by means the coff-cough linkage) and therefore repelled potential mates.

          2. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Nornagest:

            I really don’t know how he pronounces it, but I pronounce it “you’d-COFF-ski” in my head.

    2. Murphy

      I trundled along to a meetup once, I found it generally pleasant. Arrived a little early, got chatting to someone else who was there for the first time too, chuckled a little about the occasional culty feel you can get about less wrong sometimes.
      Debated lightly about where cultyness begins and harvesting effective methods from political groups and marketing campaigns ends.

      More people arrived, we talked about wind turbine design and whether it could be possible for something like an ant colony to store and act on information as a unit over beers, a couple of them talked about nootropics, a couple of them were Phd students. Lots of unusual areas of interest/knowledge. A few others were in various tech areas, someone gave me a print copy of the start of HPMOR.

      No cuddle piles or sex networks but I found it generally pleasant and wouldn’t be averse to having beers with a few of them again some time.

    3. Scott Alexander Post author

      Now I’m wondering who the tall German is. I can’t think of anyone like that in our group.

  14. Vox Imperatoris

    So can someone tell me who this guy Steven Kaas is?

    From his Twitter, he’s apparently a genius at creating funny yet insightful aphorisms, but I can’t find out much about him, and he hasn’t posted anything on it in four years.

      1. Vox Imperatoris

        Well, apparently he’s not dead: his Twitter’s “Tweets & Replies” section shows a few comments last month, the first since 2012.

    1. Vox Imperatoris

      This one in particular is pretty clever, and I haven’t seen it quoted here before:

      If we admit 2+2=4, they’ll make us admit 2+2=5 and then 6 and 7 and so on. Better make a final stand at 2+2=3.

      And this one’s not exactly a pearl of wisdom, but it made me laugh:

      In the name of the Father, the Son, and I think it was either Crassus or Lepidus.

      1. onyomi

        But this guy is genuinely brilliantly witty and I hope he continue to create content in some form. Let me know if anyone finds more. Or maybe just hope his Twitter gets active again.

  15. David Friedman

    In response to the long thread on whether you should sleep with someone who is married or in a long term and nominally exclusive relationship, I would like to start a discussion on a more general question which in part underlies that one.

    Sex serves at least two functions other than direct reproduction. One is entertainment–a pleasurable activity. One is as a mechanism to support a long term partnership—”making love” in the literal sense. Obviously a lot of people use it sometimes for the one purpose, sometimes for the other—but I am curious as to which people consider more important.

    To put the question more precisely, suppose you had a choice. You could either live a life with no long-term romantic attachments but a reasonable amount of sex with reasonably attractive partners. Or you could have a successful, long term, exclusive relationship with one partner, marriage or the equivalent, and no sex outside that relationship. The latter case includes having children if you want children, not if you don’t. The former might include producing children, accidentally or deliberately, but not the parents jointly rearing them.

    If those were the only alternatives, which would you prefer?

    1. Vox Imperatoris

      To put the question more precisely, suppose you had a choice. You could either live a life with no long-term romantic attachments but a reasonable amount of sex with reasonably attractive partners. Or you could have a successful, long term, exclusive relationship with one partner, marriage or the equivalent, and no sex outside that relationship. The latter case includes having children if you want children, not if you don’t. The former might include producing children, accidentally or deliberately, but not the parents jointly rearing them.

      No sex outside that successful, long-term, monogamous relationship? But that’s not a forced-choice hypothetical at all: that’s what I would prefer in the real world!

      I thought you were going to say: would you rather have all the sex you wanted but no long-term romance, or no sex at all with a long-term romantic relationship? In which case, it’s more of a debate, but I would still choose the latter.

      The way you put it sounds to me more like: “Would you rather be rich and smart, or poor and stupid?”

      1. Leit

        Nope. My preferred arrangement is, as yours, a single romantic partner. But there is no way on earth that any romantic relationship would survive without a sexual component. I may be an outlier, but I doubt it.

        It’s not even close to a debate. Which basically reduces the options to “no sex” or “a sexual variety”.

        1. Vox Imperatoris

          The hypothetical doesn’t ask you to consider the likelihood that the relationship will survive. That’s a given.

          And there are people who are unable to have sex, at least in the conventional way. Such as quadriplegics, people with genital injuries, and so on. They still often manage to have romantic relationships.

          Now, if you’re getting looser on what constitutes “sex”, it’s harder to draw the line. If you want to go as far as “No kissing, no touching!” that would be substantially more difficult. But even then, I would say that it’s possible to have a romantic relationship purely by means of long-distance communication.

          Not necessarily desirable for everyone. That’s why I said it’s “more of a debate”. But I think it would be more desirable to some than the inverse alternative.

          1. Leit

            I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be anyone who could deal with a sexless romantic union. Hell, our host has non-sexual romantic relationships, not as a matter of inability but as a matter of inclination, if I understand correctly.

            What I’m saying is that my definition of a successful romantic relationship – for myself – necessarily includes some amount of sexual satisfaction. Any definition excluding this would, to me, be an oxymoron and the relationship would never get to the point of failure because it could never exist in the first place.

            It’d be nice to be a perfect platonic mind free of the desires of the flesh, but man, pretending that it wouldn’t be a problem would just bite me, and as I said, a lot of other people. Likely even people who’d take on your sexless relationship. Bite hard.

            If I’m typical-minding a bit hard here then fine, I’ll get slapped down. But no, I suspect that the reason the original hypothesis was posed as it was, disregarding the option of a completely sexless relationship, is because Mr. Friedman understands this view.

          2. Arbitrary_greay

            I actually like this configuration better, because then we could get into ace dynamic funtimes. Homo/hetero/biromantic asexual, aromantic homo/hetero/bisexual, or aromantic asexual would all have very, very different preferences, much less compared to the standard romantic sexual.

            And that’s before you start fiddling with any questions of poly!

      2. David Friedman

        It’s what I chose in the real world a very long time ago.

        But I don’t think it’s what everyone prefers. Men at least have a taste for sexual variety. The cute twenty-five year old who expresses interest really is more sexually desirable to you than the fifty year old you have been sleeping with, and living with, for the last twenty years. Not as attractive as a long term partner, more attractive as a short-term bedmate. And I suspect some people would prefer the option of being able to pursue such opportunities, at least if they expect them to be reasonably common, even at the cost of not having the long term relationship.

        Hence my question.

        To put it differently … . Do the comments on the earlier thread reflect a preference for recreational sex, or only the belief that the alternative is not a practical option?

        Or, of course, the belief that you can do both, recreational sex in your twenties, long term commitment after.

        1. Vox Imperatoris

          The cute twenty-five year old who expresses interest really is more sexually desirable to you than the fifty year old you have been sleeping with, and living with, for the last twenty years. Not as attractive as a long term partner, more attractive as a short-term bedmate. […]

          Or, of course, the belief that you can do both, recreational sex in your twenties, long term commitment after.

          These seem to me to be in tension with one another.

          If anything, based on “revealed preferences” 🙂 I would say that many men (and women: see the Ayn Rand discussion above) are relatively open sexually in their youth until they find the right person to “settle down with”. And they do, but then after ten, fifteen, twenty years, they grow apart or the passion just dies down, and they start looking for something outside the marriage.

          A younger partner who has the fire of youth, who gives them things that the person they are married to cannot. And not just sexually, but in terms of personality. I think many affairs are just as much about things like getting away from the spouse’s nagging and annoying habits (everyone probably has some annoying habits) as they are just about sex.

          Or to put it another way, it’s just as much about emotional/romantic variety as it is about sexual variety. You get to go through all the magic of a blossoming romance again.

    2. dndnrsn

      What’s “long term”? Is the partner in the second choice equally “reasonably attractive”? What’s a reasonable amount of sex? What is a “successful” relationship?

      Even without clarification, though, I would definitely tend towards the second.

      EDIT: Can we define “reasonably attractive” as someone who is basically as attractive as you? I suppose this could change – if you hit the gym and dress better, you’re picking up better-looking people, and let’s assume that if you take the second option, any improvement or decline in you is mirrored in the other person?

    3. Dr Dealgood

      Obviously the latter. As Vox said, it’s not a dilemma if you don’t actually put any downsides in.

      It’s not even a loss in terms of volume of sex. Unless you’re literally a rockstar you won’t be able to pull in anywhere near as many one-night-stands to match the frequency of sex with a live-in girlfriend or (presumably) wife. An average single guy could beat a sexless marriage, but you ruled that out by inserting the qualifier “successful.”

      Besides that, I don’t see any meaningful difference between the reproductive and lovemaking aspects. The Christian term “one flesh” is useful here: you’re creating a literal physical union, down to the molecular level. So the question is flawed on a fundamental level.

    4. onyomi

      If the options are “sex with many different people but no long term relationships or joint child-rearing” or “long-term sex with only one person but happy cohabitation and joint child-rearing,” then B seems like the obvious choice to me, though the ideal is “A from about ages 18-30 and B from about age 30 up.” This is because sex with lots of different people was more interesting to me in my late teens and twenties, and long term cohabitation with children was not something I desired to begin at that point.

      After around 30, in addition to my libido being just not as strong, I had already had enough sexual experience with different people to come to the conclusion that most vaginas feel roughly similar and that doing it with someone you really like is a more important component of the enjoyment. What’s more, my career became more important and I was just all around busier and tireder. My relationships became less about ardor and more about “someone you like being around when you’re both super busy and collapse together in front of Netflix at the end of the day.” I assume once children enter the equation it becomes even less sexy and more about practical stuff.

      A much tougher question, indeed, is sexless partnership and child-rearing with someone you like very much in every other respect (but who, for example, is just totally frigid, say) or multiple short flings with sexy people but no longterm shared life and children.

      I think I’d still choose the long-term partnership and child-rearing, though I would probably try to work out something where I was allowed to have flings outside the relationship. Assuming even that were not allowed, it becomes even harder, though I think I still might take it. Family seems very important to me, and increasingly so as you age, whereas sex seems to follow the opposite curve.

      Also, I think when I was younger (especially when I was a virgin, but even during my earlier experience), I saw the difference between masturbation and sex as like the difference between a moped and an airplane or something.

      Now it seems to me that sex is more like pizza: sex with lots of people is a pizza with a wide range of interesting toppings, sex with just one person I really like is like pizza with my one favorite topping (pepperoni), and masturbation is kind of like cheese pizza. I could eat pepperoni pizza every day, or at least a couple times a week and never get tired of it. And while it would be sad to only get to eat cheese pizza for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t be so bad I would give up emotional closeness, working together, children, family, etc. just to get the super combination pizza (also, sexual variety, imo, is overrated; like pizza, sex doesn’t really get old; I don’t really understand people who feel a need to add a bunch of toys, roleplaying, etc.).

      Also, as Bill Maher says, “sex is like pizza: when it’s good, it’s amazing, but when it’s not good, it’s still pretty good.”

      1. Max

        sex doesn’t really get old;

        mmm… Like every hedonistic pleasure it does get old if you do it too much. Eventually to get off you need more and more extreme stimulation. The lengths some people go are mind boggling.

        1. onyomi

          “Eventually to get off you need more and more extreme stimulation”

          Or take a break? Even pizza isn’t appealing when you’re full. Yet somehow it never fails to be appealing when you’re hungry.

        2. Jaskologist

          It gets old if you treat it as a terminal goal which is supposed to give your life meaning. Not so much if you slot it in to the supporting role where it belongs.

    5. blacktrance

      The latter seems obviously better. I prefer polyamory, but the existence of at least one long-term romance is better than none, regardless of the availability of sex in the first scenario. An interesting (though maybe less realistic) third scenario to consider is a life full of medium-term (a few years) attachments, monogamous or not, but no long-term partnerships. I’d still choose long-term monogamy, but I know some people who would choose that over either of the first two.
      My full preferences are:
      polyamory with long-term commitment > monogamy with long-term commitment > medium-term romantic relationships (with polyamory better than monogamy) > neither sex nor romance > a lifetime of casual sex.

    6. Adam

      It’s weird to me the way you even posed this, because I prefer sex as a pleasurable, entertaining activity, but I still prefer it with one person nearly all the time, and if that’s the choice, I’m going with the one person. I’m just not that social and I’m very busy and don’t like spending time trying to go and find new partners when I already have a perfectly good partner that I enjoy right here in the house with me every night. Basically, I enjoy consumption a lot more than shopping.

  16. Sth

    Stupid assholes. The comments around here feel really toxic for some reason. Usually comment with real name around the Internet, and on controversial issues, never had problems. Until here. Got very creepy anonymous email afterwards.

    1. Dr Dealgood

      To be fair, almost all of those are from outside sites and not from the comments here. Though I agree that the comments have gotten more aggressive recently as the older rationalist group fragments and fresher readers come in.

      Also I’m really sorry to hear that. I’m not asking you to dox yourself but can you point out the thread that you think instigated this? I’m curious what got people’s blood up.

    2. Anonymous

      “I don’t know my true name.”

      Reekwind’s eyes widened; seeing his eyeballs bulge even larger made me even more uneasy. “Then you are blessed, blessed. Remain nameless, and you shall be as a spirit on the Planes, untraceable, untrackable, unseen, undiscovered.” He smacked his gums wetly. “A name chosen, a name given… it allows others to find you and hurt you.”

      1. Nita

        An anon thinks random abuse is just the way the world works, so the everyone should go anon, until the whole world is turned into 4chan? What a surprise.

        1. Anonymous

          This comment is especially hilarious considering that *this* anon went anon because of Nita’s focusing on posters (“didn’t you also say X in thread Y, Z months ago?”), rather than arguments.

          1. Nita

            Really? You flatter me. I’m no l33t haxx0r, I don’t have an army of Tumblr followers (or a Tumblr account, for that matter), and plane tickets for in-person harassment are out of my budget.

            But more importantly, I don’t want to hunt people down and intimidate them. That’s just wrong. And I’m sorry if I made you think otherwise.

            Edit: Oh, it’s because I mention previous comments? Well. I like keeping people’s alignments and histories in mind — sometimes it helps me read more charitably or understand their arguments better. I like noticing contradictions — to fix my own, or to determine that an alternative worldview is inconsistent. It’s more of a debating club habit than anything personal.

  17. xyz

    > .. sitting around attempting to unpack societal problems like it was all a game of fucking sim city

    I think a lot of such people do know on some level that societal problems are just people disagreeing on what they want, but you can’t write anything about that because it’s a dead end. However if you focus on systems maybe you have a chance of finding some change that would actually help. Something more universal than just persuading more people to your side.

    1. ediguls

      People value different things. Most people are not intuitively aware of this. People can’t always verbalize what they value accurately. People sometimes think they value something they actually don’t. People don’t always know how to act to further their values. Even if they do know, sometimes they don’t act. To get things done, people must coordinate despite all this, over a horribly messy, non-binding communications channel. It’s a huge mess, and I assume all of this is considered somewhat standard knowledge on LW/SSC, at least if you spell it out.

      I include myself in most of the above “people”.

  18. Vaegrim

    I’m a longtime reader of SSC and this is my first comment on the blog. Reading a distilled “two minutes hate” was uncomfortable and demoralizing.

    Uncomfortable because it felt like really transparent signalling. “My opponents are the kind of stupid jerks you hate, so we’re clearly on the same team.” One of the things I enjoy about SSC was that it felt like neutral ground in the gender wars. This feels like backpedaling on that stance and that makes me uneasy.

    Demoralizing because it gives me the expectation that most people who disagree with you (and “explain” their disagreement) are bad at making arguments persuasive to their ideological opposites. It’d be a weird coincidence if all the people to the right of you (as one writer put it) just happened to all be largely incoherent.

    I usually don’t read the responses beneath the article and now I see that I was happier in that ignorance.

    1. Nornagest

      I’m pretty sure these don’t come from the comments; I think they come from other people’s blogs. Maybe some are anonymous hate on Tumblr, or other forms of private correspondence.

      That said, I have seen drive-by hate in the comments here. Just not this drive-by hate.

    2. Urstoff

      Scott can’t even make a joke post without it getting overanalyzed and politicized. The former is expected given the rationalist milleiu, the latter, well, have we reached peak politicization yet? Because it’s getting tedious.

      1. Protagoras

        It’s a presidential election year, and it’s mostly Americans around here. I expect the politics to get yet more tedious as November approaches, and everyone wants to talk about how stupid and evil the other tribe are* to be supporting such misguided, indeed vile and contemptible candidates and policies.

        * Or maybe both tribes are, but most self-styled independents or third partiers seem to pick one of the two big tribes to be especially passionately against.

    3. anonymous

      One of the things I enjoy about SSC was that it felt like neutral ground in the gender wars.

      There’s a gender war going on? More than one even? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

        1. Brad (the other one)

          Does that mean the trans-movement is just a conspiracy by Gender 3 to get Genders 2 and 5 to defect to their side?

  19. Anonymous

    Eh, haters gonna hate. SSC is, by far, my favorite blog. I’m an altright guy, too, and couldn’t care less about Scott’s sexual preferences.

    *edit* I should say that the altright is the political movement that I’m most sympathetic to . . . I don’t consider myself a part of anything.

  20. Anonymous

    In the spirit of the post, I feel like I should mention that I almost never agree with Scott, but I like to listen to him talk (type). Partly because he’s eloquent and pleasant to listen to, partly because it’s fascinating to watch someone present a set of data and come to the exact opposite conclusion from it than I would, and partly just because it’s nice to hear an alternate viewpoint presented in a way that isn’t “You disagree with me? You’re an idiot and I hope you die!!!” so that I can actually parse the viewpoint and understand why someone might hold it. Thanks, Scott!

  21. anon

    Last time I saw this many cuckposts about an internet libertarian, it was because people were worried he was about to sell the site to Gawker.

    Maybe we can get the guy who runs r/starslatecodex to start 8 Star Codex.

  22. dndnrsn

    OK, looking at the comments that (seem to be) left wing, there are a few that basically seem to be saying (I’m glossing a few) “these are STEM types who are smart but don’t understand the non-STEM stuff they’re talking about and don’t have enough sources to realize they don’t”.

    Is there something to this? I think there is, although I think it’s a bit harsh, and I think that “STEM people talking about non-STEM” is infinitely better than the opposite. I think what happens is that smart people without a background in “soft” stuff like the humanities and social sciences can trick themselves into thinking they understand those subjects better than they do.

    I’m not a STEM person. Not even close. My background is basically history. One thing I will admit is that at the ground level, humanities and social sciences are easier than STEM stuff. A 100-level physics course is going to be harder for someone like me than a 100-level history course is going to be for a physics major. Note that this does not necessarily mean that the humanities and social sciences are easier – but they are definitely easier to get into at a low level.

    As a result, people with a science background can get to a fairly low-level, first-year-of-undergrad level of understanding of, say, 20th century history, based on popular materials and a few primary sources. It’s still a better understanding than I would have of physics, having read some kind of pop-physics book. But they lack the knowledge of the methods used in the humanities and social sciences. It’s not necessarily that these methods are good: I have a lot of problems with various social sciences (many tendency to play fast and loose with facts to fit a theory, and a tendency to build up almost theological internally consistent systems that don’t fit the facts, for instance).

    A good example is the stuff Yarvin wrote that falls into the “secret history of the xxth century” stuff. A few primary sources that run against the conventional narrative, based on which the conventional narrative is attacked, but without an understanding of how historians use sources.

    Attacking the conventional narrative can be good. The window of what it’s acceptable to say in academia is often rather small. There’s a real tendency to assume that because the guys who won, ideologically speaking, are our ancestors, ideologically speaking, they must have been the good guys. But doing it without understanding how to handle sources is bad: some pamphlets by people attacking the American revolution by people against the American revolution doesn’t prove the American revolutionaries were in the wrong. Yarvin is far from being as bad as actual pseudohistorical types, but his sources don’t prove what he says they prove.

    This said, STEM types have more of value to say about the humanities and the social sciences than the other way around, because it’s harder to get in on the ground floor in STEM. What someone without quite advanced training in physics has to say about physics is probably going to be so worthless as to not even be thought-provoking.

    One thing I definitely disagree with in some of the (again, seemingly) left-wing comments is the idea that dispassionate intellectualizing is gauche, or even immoral. It doesn’t make sense to say that emotional distance from something makes it harder to understand that thing, and if I got deeply emotional about human history, I’d just be crying tears of rage all the time. Human history is pretty nasty.

    Beyond the tribalism and the dismissals (if something is so easily dismantled that it can just be dismissed, than do the easy thing and dismantle it!), though, I think there is something there.

    1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

      What I find weird is… when did Scott (A psychiatrist with a bachelor’s degree in, if I recall correctly, philosophy) become “a STEM type”?

      1. ChetC3

        “STEM-types” in the negative sense are defined by their reverence for math and the hard sciences, not mastery of them.

        1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

          No, but I mean it the other way around: Scott’s handling of math seems perfectly adequate, but he chose to pursue education elsewhere, whcih makes me not get the perception that he somehow “venerates math & associated sciences”.

          1. Nita

            Scott has repeatedly stated that he lacks the aptitude for professional-grade math, despite his best efforts to learn, but he does seem to consider it extremely important for humanity — perhaps even the key to solving all our problems.

    2. stillnotking

      Attacking people for being dispassionately analytical is de rigeur on the left, and — as far as I can tell — always has been. Liberals are idealists. We tend to be suspicious of anyone who stops to think about problems we regard as urgent and obvious. It invokes the psychology of taboo. (Remember that psych experiment where participants rated a fictitious hospital administrator as evil for even considering letting a child die to save the money that could build a new wing?)

      The left also tends to fetishize authenticity, more so the more left you get. Someone with lived experience has “street cred” even if they are demonstrably incorrect on an analytical level. In some leftist circles, this is literally all you need — I knew people in Portland whom I wouldn’t have trusted to buy coffee, but who were regarded as gurus because they’d been born poor or had endured some major hardship.

      1. dndnrsn

        Surely the right attacks people for being dispassionately analytical and inauthentic, though?

        I mean, witness the attacks on know-it-all academics and folks who aren’t salt-of-the-earth. “Lived experience” isn’t only a left-wing thing either – it’s just that what gets valued is different. The right certainly values, say, military service, or business experience, more than the left does.

        The right has stories about Marine vets punching out atheist professors; the left has stories about oppressed students schooling professors on their privilege.

        1. stillnotking

          That’s true. It seems subtly different; on the right, it’s about anti-intellectualism qua intellectualism, while on the left it’s more about certain things being declared intellectually off-limits. Often by people who are themselves intellectuals.

          Experience is not quite what the left means by “lived experience”. It’s not that people with the “lived experience” of oppression are presumed to have skills or knowledge others don’t. Rather there is a presumed emotional incommensurability: you just can’t “get it” if you haven’t been through what they have. I guess military service is the closest equivalent on the right, but I don’t think it’s actually all that close.

          1. Nornagest

            I don’t think it’s so much about declaring things intellectually off-limits, I think it’s about different attitudes toward intellectual roles.

            Specifically, I think — though individuals will fall somewhere in between — that the left as a culture tends to see the academy as a place to communicate wisdom, and the right sees it as a place to communicate knowledge. If you’re on the wisdom side, you’re likely to see sociologists et al. as doing serious, important work in charting the moral future of society, and STEM types as anomalously overpaid peons who type some mumbo-jumbo into some other mumbo-jumbo. If you’re on the knowledge side, you think engineers and scientists are laying the technical foundations of power and prosperity while the humanities and social-science guys are out-of-touch ivory tower elites hubristically playing at a priestly role.

            “Oppressed student shames privileged professor” is a standard “out of the mouths of babes” story.

          2. dndnrsn

            I would say it’s pretty close.

            A person not of an oppressed group (or a group presented as oppressed) is, in a left-wing context, going to get torn to bits if they correct a person of that group on some factual matter pertaining to the oppression or supposed oppression. Similarly, a civilian in a right-wing context is going to get torn to bits if they correct a veteran on something related to the military. Doesn’t even have to be something about a war – it could be something wonky, like weapon specifications.

            In both cases, it’s basically “you weren’t THERE, maaaaaan”. It’s a genetic fallacy – life experience is held to confer moral and factual authority.

        2. The original Mr. X

          Having “lived experience” and being “dispassionately analytical” aren’t the same thing, though. I’ve seen both right and left attack the other side for speaking of things they have no experience of; I’ve also been told by people on the left that wanting to consider things dispassionately is ipso facto a mark of privilege (because if I’d really suffered, I’d be too angry to set aside my feelings, or something), whereas I’ve never come across this view on the right.

          1. keranih

            wanting to consider things dispassionately is ipso facto a mark of privilege (because if I’d really suffered, I’d be too angry to set aside my feelings, or something)

            I agree, I’ve only encountered this on the left, and actually, only since…say…2003/2004 or so. I find the degree of traction that this idea has to be very disquieting, and even more so how it has eroded what I had considered the “natural ideal” (*) of setting aside emotion and personal gain/loss while advocating for a particular policy or course of action.

            I think we could do with more discussion of this.

            (*) more fool me, obviously, as many don’t agree. But to me, getting angry about something is *easy*, and can be done fraudulently, while presenting factual evidence in support of something in a clear and dispassionate manner is *hard*, and so we *should* privilege the second over the first. And this doesn’t even begin to address the tendency for passionate advocacy to shift to violent pressure, which as a member of the smaller and weaker half of the species, I *thought* we were getting away from, as much as we could.

          2. John Nerst

            I’ve also been told by people on the left that wanting to consider things dispassionately is ipso facto a mark of privilege (because if I’d really suffered, I’d be too angry to set aside my feelings, or something), whereas I’ve never come across this view on the right.

            But isn’t that often correct? Being privileged means you can afford to be dispassionate? It’s just that being privileged (in some particular regard, not “in general”) doesn’t make you wrong in any way, shape, or form when it comes to factual and logical matters.

          3. Faradn

            “But isn’t that often correct? Being privileged means you can afford to be dispassionate?”

            It seems likely that progressives started exalting less privileged perspectives in response to this exact argument. It’s easy to dismiss people who are actually affected by policies and cultural forces since they can be said to have bias. It’s also absurd to do so. “Dispassionate” is not a synonym for “informed” or “rational.” Passion can be a strong motivator to research and think about a subject thoroughly, beyond one’s personal experience (which in some contexts can also have some validity). There was a real need to draw attention to underprivileged people’s voices. Progressives just took it too far by dismissing everyone else’s. Or at least white progressives like to signal dismissing privileged people (presumably including themselves)–in reality white people still dominate liberal discourse. Though perhaps not men as much anymore.

    3. Stefan Drinic

      The thing about handling sources rings so very, very, very true for me. I’d respect Yarvin much more if he didn’t consistently take every historical person at face value all the bloody time. I remember actually cringing the one time one person in the comments here unironically tried to tell people imperialism was totally okay and was done primarily to help those poor foreign people.

      1. honestlymellowstarlight

        Taking Moldbug at face value, at least on the history posts, he said he was trying to provide an alternative narrative.

        1. dndnrsn

          Honestly, Moldbug’s claim to just providing an interesting alternate narrative strikes me in the same way as Scott Adams’ whole “just kidding, this is only a joke, for entertainment purposes only, don’t take political/life/health/whatever advice from a cartoonist, BUT AS A TRAINED HYPNOTIST all these predictions came true if you stand on one leg and squint” shtick.

          1. dndnrsn

            OK, it’s impolite to attribute bad faith. Mea culpa.

            Taking away the attribution of bad faith, Yarvin/Moldbug either started with bad historiography and built his politics from it, or vice versa.

            It’s an alternate narrative, and one that would be interesting if it was done right, but I don’t think he does it right.

          2. honestlymellowstarlight

            Man, I wasn’t asking for an apology, I was asking for an apologia! Politiness is boring anyway, usually why I troll. So, back to my questions: what’s bad about it, what’s wrong with it, and why did you off-the-cuff go with bad faith?

            (This isn’t a sneaky internet debate and I’m not trying to make you look dumb or anything, I’m interested.)

          3. dndnrsn

            Ohhhhh I thought you were asking why claims of bad faith are interesting, and being a bit snarky.

            Yarvin/Moldbug doesn’t really handle primary sources with the most awareness. In the case of the American revolution, one of his major points (he’s so verbose that it’s hard to paraphrase) is essentially “we’re taught the revolutionaries were great, but here’s an account by a loyalist who says they’re scoundrels, so they must have been scoundrels”. Beyond the fact that serious historians give a less triumphalist, the-good-guys-won account than the sort of American creation myth he’s taking as the opposing side, this is not how you (are supposed to) handle primary sources. Primary sources are incredibly useful, but using them alone, especially using a few alone, is a great way to get misled. If you wanted to write a person’s biography, you are going to do a piss-poor job if you start and end with their diary. You’re going to do a bad job if you have an account of interactions with them by their worse enemy.

            He also has a tendency to assume malice over incompetence – eg, as I recall (again, his verbosity is a problem) he attributes the failure of the British to quash the rebellion primarily to elements in the British leadership wanting the rebels to win. On another level, he attributes the triumphalist, good-guys-won narrative Americans get to more-or-less intentional deception – rather than such a narrative being the norm for most societies.

            Bad methods lead to bad results. A narrative come up with by someone with more ability to weigh sources is going to better reflect reality, generally. Of course, there is the problem of professional academics being constrained in what they can say in polite company, as it were – but the solution is not to hand the enterprise over to amateurs. They might be less bound by worrying about not getting tenure, but there are pitfalls they don’t know to avoid.

            Given that his account of the American revolution, and of many other things, fits into the larger political and social picture he is painting, it just makes “I’m presenting this as an interesting alternative narrative” seem like ass-covering. It’s along the same lines as prefacing some criticism of a person as “I don’t want to be critical, but…”

    4. Maware

      It’s more that they approach human interactions with STEM tools, I guess. Think it was Lewis who said that “you can’t study a man, you can only get to know them” when referring to social sciences. But STEM people can approach human interaction trying to use tools designed to understand repeatable, non-sentient phenomena. You can view people as numbers, statistics, causes, and distributions but lose the human, unpredictable element. Or common among STEM types, you go with the logically elegant solution, i.e. the conspiracy theory over the human solution; that causes maybe irreducible and unexplainable, can’t be extrapolated to a general principle of humankind, and are messy and unsatisfying.

    5. sweeneyrod

      I wouldn’t say that STEM subjects are easier to study than humanities (at a low level). I think the main difference is that most people with the relevant skills for both areas tend to choose STEM (partly because, as you say, it is easier for a physics student to read a history book than vice versa, so if you choose to formally study STEM you can have the best of both worlds). I know several STEM types who definitely wouldn’t do well in the humanities due to lack of skill, and several more who have the raw ability, but would really hate writing essays.

      1. dndnrsn

        I do remember a course where half the STEM types dropped out when the first essay was assigned. It was 2 to 4 pages. My reaction was sort of horror, because I guess I had internalized the idea that STEM students were the smart ones, while I was one of the humanities bullshitters (key skills include ability to do OK on exams without studying much, possibly hung over).

        But this isn’t about “do well”, it’s about “do at all”. A physics student dropped into a 100-level history course has a better shot at even passing than a history student dropped into a 100-level history course.

        1. Anonymous

          Where I attended university, high failure rates were expected and intended, to weed out the weak. 300 attend the first year, 50 attend the fourth.

          1. dndnrsn

            Was this for something STEM?

            I don’t know about the S, T, or M, but where I went to school, the reputation the engineering department had was that it was pretty brutal, and failing was a very real possibility. If not failing out, then failing courses.

            Whereas in the humanities and social sciences, failing a course was almost unheard of, and the province of incredible incompetence and negligence.

  23. jaimeastorga2000

    Some more feedback, courtesy of The AntiDemocracy Activist.

    I don’t really have the patience to read Scott Alexander. Yes, some ideas are complex and need a lot of time to explain completely (Moldbug, for example). But Alexander is one of those guys who never says in 1000 words what he could say in 5000. Yeah, okay, we get it, SJWs are intolerant witch-burners. Welcome to the party, Scott. The real problem with him is that he *ever* thought that the left genuinely cared about free speech or opposed witch hunting, instead of just being against it when someone’s doing it to them, but not the other way around. Alexander isn’t a genius for figuring out that the left never meant any of that shit, he’s a dunce for ever having thought that they did in the first place.

    I write long blog posts (My recent “Short Takes” was just short of 4000 worlds – not all that short) but even when I go long, I make sure each word counts. Again, Scott Alexander never says in 1000 words what he could say in 5000. Also, he basically accepts all reactionary premises, but then pulls a big coitus interruptus on the conclusions and lets progressivism cuck him instead. There’s only so much of that you can take.

    Look, Scott Alexander is boring now because he’s hit an impasse. He knows deep down that reactionary views are true, but he just can’t allow himself to accept that reality. So he stays stuck in the mud, spinning his wheels, revving his engine furiously but not going anywhere. Until he finally actually does break free and starts moving in the right direction, there’s no real point in reading him.

    1. Reader

      What’s the point of banning anyone if jaime here is just going to repost their blogs verbatim in the comments of every post?

      1. Jaskologist

        Your gripe would have more merit if this post weren’t dedicated to reposting complaints about SSC. Jaime’s comment is very on-topic here.

        (I don’t know if Scott has banned anti-dem. I do know he’s banned some of the people he himself quoted above).

    2. Hal Johnson

      I like the juxtaposition of “I make sure each word counts” with “Again, [a sentence repeated from the previous paragraph verbatim”.

    3. anon

      I’d take these a lot more seriously if they came from someone who’d ever written anything besides contentless, moralizing drivel

    4. sweeneyrod

      “But Alexander is one of those guys who never says in 1000 words what he could say in 5000.”
      “Again, Scott Alexander never says in 1000 words what he could say in 5000.”

      1. Anonymaus

        (also @Hal) The paragraphs are quotes from three different posts, and I would say the ask.fm format encourages repetition in that form.

      1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

        I can’t see the site from work. Did he link the one about Scott “getting cucked by liberal values”?

      2. honestlymellowstarlight

        They work the best at getting attention, I suppose, and I suspect there are far more people willing to be sexist than racist in the American Internet population.

        1. dndnrsn

          @honestlymellowstarlight; @Jaskologist too:

          I think that is correct. “Here’s how you can get laid!” is a big selling point for a lot of men.

          It seems like the one (sexism) can lead to the other (racism). Heartiste seems to have started out in, when, the mid 2000s, as a fairly standard PUA of his time: more “theory” than the ones in the 90s had, and misogynistic on a more intellectual level (not just treating women badly, but outright presenting them as lower creatures). Nowadays he is pretty much a white nationalist blogger, with a side of PUA.

          My hypothesis is that, as PUAs sought evo psych just-so stories (not that all evo psych is that bad, but a fair bit is) to explain their tricks and justify their behaviours, they began to focus more and more on supposed biological differences between men and women, which they painted as causing all differences between men and women – where the conventional view (especially the conventional left-wing view) would ascribe many/all differences more/entirely to socialization.

          It is not a far leap from ascribing social differences between men and women to biology, to ascribing differences that exist between ethnic groups to biology, in comparison to the conventional view of difference being caused by society (that is, left wingers will blame the plight of oppressed minorities on discrimination; conventional right wingers will blame it on a “culture of poverty” or something like that – nobody in the mainstream explains them using biology any more). Once you’ve explained one thing by appealing to biology, you’re more likely to explain other things that way.

      3. Mark

        It’s not just them; it’s the pejorative du jour of the entire far right. The Freudian explanation is that it speaks to their inmost sexual insecurities, but the more likely explanation is that they realize that preying on people’s sense of humiliation (sexual or otherwise) is a powerful means of persuasion.

        1. Urstoff

          Who are they persuading? I don’t think the prominent targets of the term are bothered by it (aside from thinking the insulting party a moron). Are they trying to persuade an undecided audience? My guess would be that persuasion is the last thing on the minds of such people.

          1. Mark

            I think they’re definitely trying to persuade an undecided audience. E.g., white nationalists want to convert disenfranchised white Republicans whom they perceive as naive dupes betrayed by the conservative mainstream (“cuckservatives”).

  24. Random commenter

    I love this blog but some criticism:

    1. Some of the humour on SSC is a bit hmm.. bad. And speaking as a geek myself. Maybe Scott should do a standup or two to more “normal” people. Its not a major problem. To some extent its a taste difference. I’d prefer a blog with some fatherly firm common sense but still rather deep understanding of signalling and epistemology etc. It would feel like it would have bigger impact on world than a blog that caters more to a geek niche. But its his blog.

    2. Verbosity. Yeah I feel like the posts are a bit too verbose. Not just length of the post but sentence complexity. Expressing yourself in short periods is a skill.

    The great thing about reading a blog in foreign language is that many of the things I’d read in my mother tongue would sound really weird, bad or something. But I don’t have that emotional connotation here. Not to mention having to deal with countrymen. This helps to speak objectively about some things. Probably would work too for English-speaking people.

    1. Murphy

      I don’t mind the length too much. Scott is verbose but it’s rarely due to repetition or needless verbiage, almost everything is generally doing work. Often large portions of a post are dedicated to making it clear what he’s *not* saying which is unfortunately necessary since so many will read it in bad faith.

      1. Vox Imperatoris

        Yes, I don’t object to the length of the posts at all.

        Okay, to be honest the ones about gun control or marijuana where he goes through all the studies are pretty boring. But that’s not what I read this blog for. (Nor for the social justice stuff.)

        I read it for the intriguing ideas like in “Meditations on Moloch” or “Right is the New Left”. Which there haven’t been as many of lately, unfortunately. Though I’m pretty sure Scott has said this is because he’s busy with real-life engagements. The most recent “big ideas” post is, I would say, “Should AI Be Open?”. (And even that’s not bold Scott Alexander stuff like “The Goddess of Everything Else”.)

        “Staying Classy” is close but it’s more brief and mostly just a summary of other people’s ideas.

        And if Scott reads this: I am not trying to criticize you or guilt you into writing more!

      2. J Mann

        I like the length. If I’m really enjoying a post, then there’s a lot of it to enjoy, and if I’m not, I skim it.

  25. Brad (the other one)

    As someone who desires to act as your vicarious aggression center:

    Fuck the haters. Don’t let them get you down. Your thing is weird and even I think it’s weird (and sometimes even deeply wrong sometimes) but a lot of this criticism is from assholes and you deserve better. Crush your enemies below your feet, Scott! Take life by the soft tissues and squeeze it until it gives you its damn wallet! Fight back, Scott! call down the legions of angels to take you off your cross! Tell Sun Tzu to screw himself and unsheath that sword, son!

    Sincerely, an angry young man who doesn’t know what is actually going on.

  26. Arthur B.

    If that’s of any interest to you, conventional success is a great way to get under the skin of those critics, who probably enjoy little or none of their own. It’s well within your abilities to publish a New York Times best-seller and – though the attacks won’t stop – these people will genuinely feel psychological pain as a result.

    They deserve it: there has to be a cost to being a complete ass. You’ll be doing society a service.

  27. Virbie

    > “I thought it was a blog about science methodology until that post with the talking cactus.”

    I have absolutely no clue why I find this one in particular so hilarious.

    1. Deiseach

      Because it’s gently bewildered rather than angrily accusative? And by comparison with the rest of them, it’s not insulting Scott’s (or ours) intelligence, politics, personal integrity, sexual prowess or disinterestedness?

      I dunno, it’s just funny (and would make a fantastic banner for the site) 🙂

      1. Virbie

        Being gently bewildered isn’t usually a sufficient condition for me finding something funny, so I’m gonna have to go with no on all counts.

  28. Nomghost

    It’s hilarious to see commenters saying Scott is bending over backwards to please ‘SJWs’ or being helplessly locked in left-wing ideology, when I personally find this blog to be so scandalously to the ‘right’ of what I normally read that I feel a bit dirty coming here.

    1. Randy M

      With his endorsement of polyamory, UBI, and open borders*, he could practically write the Republican party platform.

      *Simplification, I admit.
      Scott is pretty good at being an engaged, thoughtful centrist in general.

      1. honestlymellowstarlight

        Scott has crazy political positions with respect to America, he’s just a nice guy, so he seems centrist/moderate/whatever we’re using to mean “good person” now. Unless someone really does think he’s a centrist/moderate, I’d like to here that argument.

        1. Randy M

          Yeah, that’s true, while moderate tempermentally I can’t really think of any positions he has that are considered as far right as some are far left. But he at least seems open minded. (He can feel free to correct me, of course).

          1. Randy M

            I think you could call yourself centrist then, but not moderate. Moderate should mean “doesn’t favor any radical change” if we want the political meaning to match the generic meaning.

      2. Nomghost

        I just graduated from a university with a very active, intensely Marxist, pointedly illiberal and completely dominant student-political Left, who are more-or-less my tribe, since I’d run screaming out the door* five minutes into a conservative meeting on campus.
        Just reading someone eloquently defending liberalism gives me a fear reaction lol. A nice thrill. Maybe, in adult life, it’s ok to be liberal, and Trots won’t scream in your face?!

        *sit in my seat listening and feeling intensely uncomfortable

    2. gbdub

      In the “reign of terror” posts, and some of the “black hole” talk, Scott admitted that part of his motivation was scrubbing the comments of those not-to-be-named persons who might scare off too many of his social group and/or get him labeled an untouchable by association.

      So, while I wouldn’t go as far as the critics listed here, I do feel like Scott sometimes holds back a bit on (or apologizes more for) what he really believes, if what he really believes is something that would be looked upon with suspicion within his mostly blue-tribe milieu. On the other hand I’ve seen nothing to indicate Scott would censor himself (or his commenters) who supported more radical leftish positions like UBI or open borders.

      Now this may not be true at all, and Scott certainly hasn’t held back in some of his SJ-related posts, but I do find it’s a nagging suspicion. Could be an error on my part.

  29. Joline

    I read everything you wrote on this blog for the last 18 months or so and much of what came before it. I do often disagree deeply. But I’d never say you didn’t do your best to get at the heart of a problem and I admire your intellectual virtues greatly.

    I’m unclear what particular exercise this entry was but my main guesses all make me think even more highly of you.

    You do have an awesome way with words. Though I think you would be even better received as a fiction author. Just make a pseudonym behind some impressive double blinds for privacy and rock the world ^.^

    I’m very confident you weren’t soliciting praise with this. But I realized after reading this “damned but you receive a lot of abuse.” Even if you have a Buddha like detachment from it, it’s a sign you’re doing something right. A society as sick as ours screams when you poke the pus filled abscesses of its cultural gangrene.

    So good on you and may your powers increase.

    1. Mo Fareed

      “You do have an awesome way with words. Though I think you would be even better received as a fiction author. Just make a pseudonym behind some impressive double blinds for privacy and rock the world ^.^”

      What do you think of Unsong though?

  30. AlexL

    750 comments and counting… So the favorite topics here appear to be Moloch, social justice and internet comments. I’m pretty sure with a little effort someone can turn this into a phrase worthy of the inevitable follo-up to this post.

    1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

      Nah, this post is just acting as the de-facto Open Thread, cannibalizing the comments from the actual one.

      Unless Cruz’ punchable face, the result of NH’s caucus and songs that make you cri evrytiem seem like related topics to you.

      1. Deiseach

        Unless Cruz’ punchable face, the result of NH’s caucus and songs that make you cri evrytiem seem like related topics to you.

        How about crying at the NH caucus when someone sang a song about Cruz’ punchable face? 🙂

    2. destract

      I think the last two could be explained by the fact that people find drama interesting, especially if it’s about tribes adjacent to ours.

  31. hnau

    My two cents: I think this post was a mistake. It’s clearly cherry-picking its examples to make some sort of point or, worse, not to make a point but just to elicit negative feelings about a particular point of view. Which of course is not to deny that the examples are generally nasty, distasteful, unfair, and inaccurate. The problem is, it reads to me like it’s “weak-manning” an opposing viewpoint (i.e. disagreement with SSC’s themes and style) by showing the opposition at its worst. It could also be read as fishing for compliments and positive feedback, or even encouraging retaliation against the writers of the negative comments.

    Not saying that was the intention, but it was the sense I got from reading the post. And I think it goes without saying that it’s contrary to the spirit of SSC to deal with opposing viewpoints that way.

  32. Nathan

    So, New Hampshire.

    I think this cements SC as a Trump vs Cruz race. Rubio has a track record of a 3rd place and a 5th place. Bush is worse. Kasich has no money, no organisation, and his one bragging point is winning less than half of what Trump did.

    The Bush/Rubio donors have deep pockets and will keep propping up their guys for a while, but the voters will see that they aren’t serious competitors. For anyone who wants to stop the Trump train, Cruz is the only realistic choice now.

  33. Ben

    Your blog has made me a better person (and facilitated my blossoming into some kind of weird proto-rationalist) – and this post is hilarious.

  34. Jordan D.

    I’d like to express my support of the cactus-person comment and issue the following plea; SSC should return to its roots.

    Whale metaphor blogging.

  35. Vox Imperatoris

    Completely off-topic, but a random question: what songs, if any, have ever moved people here to tears?

    I am not a very “teary” or sentimental person; I can’t think of any times I’ve cried because from watching a movie or reading a book (maybe there are some I can’t recall right now). But sometimes a song will get me, usually the combination of a song and a video or experience. (I’m not talking about tears streaming down by cheeks, but rather the feeling of your eyes “getting wet”.) The specific examples I can think of:

    1. When I was studying abroad in St. Petersburg, we went on a tour to the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery, in which around 500,000 victims of the Siege of Leningrad by the Nazis are buried. It was a fairly emotional experience in itself, but they had a loudspeaker constantly playing classical music, and I had tears in my eyes when they were playing Pachelbel’s Canon.

    2. A completely different type of example: when I first heard the song “Telstar” by The Tornados (I can’t find the correct original version online). It’s a sort of novelty song which I suppose is something of a precursor to modern electronic music, an instrumental named after the first telecommunications satellite and meant to evoke it in sound. But something about it just captured the wonder of human progress for me, without being expressed in any words. Just the sort of optimistic vision of the future, that there is an unlimited expanse of technological and scientific advancement to be made.

    3. The music video to “Endless Sorrow” by Ayumi Hamasaki. It depicts a very unrealistic dystopian future where all physical speech of any kind is forbidden. But in a dream, a little boy climbs to the top of the Eiffel Tower and inspires people depicted in prison, with their vocal cords cut, with hope. I don’t know exactly what it was about it, but the combination of this and the music somehow struck a nerve with me.

    4. Another maybe silly example, but much more recent. Just a few weeks ago, I came across the cover version of “Go West” by the Pet Shop Boys, and the associated music video. If you can get past the cheesy 90s special effects and costumes, the song starts off very similar to the Soviet national anthem, and the video depicts a brigade of stereotypically Soviet-looking soldiers following the Pet Shop Boys and marching “west” up a staircase to the heavens and to freedom. The combination of that and the simple lyrics talking about freedom just struck me in an emotional way.

    So I suppose the lesson is: give me a trite message about human freedom and progress, and it will really move me emotionally. 🙂

    This is separate from what have been the saddest songs for me. That place is occupied by a couple of songs, which I can hardly listen to because I don’t like songs that make me feel sad. They were both played often by my father on car trips, so I heard them at a young age:

    1. “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles. This one is sort of self-explanatory, and I think people are mostly familiar with it. It’s a song about people who live and die alone and unloved.

    2. “The Way” by Fastball. This one may be more unusual (and it may date me 😉 ), but I always found this to be a terribly depressing song when I was little. The idea of the song is of parents suddenly leaving their children and setting off on the “highway”, where they walk forever after their car breaks down. I don’t know if this was intended, but it always struck me as a metaphor for suicide and death, as they continue walking aimlessly forever without ever getting “old and grey”. And the concept of continued, purposeless existence (“But where were they going without ever knowing the way?”) struck me as expressing a very sad and depressing point of view.

    1. Saal

      The Way has always brought up a feeling of abandonment in me, and I seem to remember thinking it implied suicide at some point, although you may have implanted that idea in my head.

      Another 90s song which is a lot darker than most people seem to realize when the lyrics are actually paid attention to is the Offspring’s “The Kids Aren’t Alright”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrZ4sMRYimw
      That song in particular almost always evokes hopelessness/melancholy in me.

        1. Vox Imperatoris

          Interesting! I like this part of the article:

          “The Way” is an incredibly catchy tune, but there’s something a little spooky about it too. The song’s lyrics — about an elderly couple who disappears from their home, finding immortality on the road — seem sweet. That is, until “shadows” on the highway are referenced. The promises that the unnamed couple will never go home, grow old, or be hungry again seem a great deal less reassuring. Perhaps, the listener thinks, the “immortality” they found on the open road is purely allegorical.

    2. Mark

      “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” has done it for me, which is why this makes me want to declare war on Japan. Cultural appropriation!

    3. null

      On a bad day, the fourth movement of Mahler’s 5th symphony or the last movement of Mahler’s 9th symphony will get me.

      1. Random commenter

        Yeah. Mahler’s 5th Symphony’s fourth movement is a great piece.

        ps. I’m not musician so I can’t judge it on objective terms.

    4. Arbitrary_greay

      I’ve never had the urge to cry because of music before. But as someone with a background in music, (and still plays/performs on a regular basis) I have had “eargasms,” where I go directly to the “oh shit this is perfection and I need to listen to it on repeat for a couple of days” stage instead of the usual “eh, it’ll grow on me.”
      Closer to what you’re asking for, I’ve had music experiences where I just get completely filled with an undefinable emotion, a state no other mediums have accomplished for me.
      This specific performance of Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are”
      Richard Strauss’s Don Juan
      John Corigliano’s Gazebo Dances
      Mahler’s Symphony 2
      Resphighi’s Roman Festival (Movements 1 and 4)
      Hector Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique
      Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture
      Astor Piazzolla Concerto for Bandoneon

      Otherwise, there have been a few “cheating” moments in anime, where a well-directed reprise of a main motif happens at an emotional climax, but the narrative storytelling is doing just as much of the work there, so. Nonetheless, the anime Simoun managed to do it multiple times, so much so that I paid good money to import the out-of-print OSTs.

      Lyrics don’t do much for me. It’s all in the composition and arrangement, baby.

      1. Bugmaster

        Hmm, I think that narrative-linked music is a special case. For example, “Leaving Earth” is probably not very impressive on its own; but it always feels like a punch in the gut whenever it comes up on my playlist, due to the backstory associated with it.

        EDIT: The same thing goes for New Order’s Elegia, because of More.

    5. suntzuanime

      The ones that I can specifically recall:

      Shaggy – It Wasn’t Me (somewhat NWS music video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_x6QmuJdms
      Earth Wind and Fire – September https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs069dndIYk
      Honda Mariko (voice of Yukko from Nichijou) – Yukko no Gyagu Hyaku Renpatsu (Yukko’s 100 Rapid-fire Gags) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrnrduVjIL0
      Itou Kanae (voice of Elsie from The World God Only Knows) – Oh! My God! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGdgyVTvw44

      1. Psycicle

        I’m torn between a little bit of happiness because someone else has expressed an appreciation for Nichijou and a large bit of irritation for clearly going against the prompt. No way these songs made you cry from emotion.

        1. suntzuanime

          That’s pretty presumptuous of you – I choked up just constructing this list.

          You don’t see how e.g. Yukko’s desperate pleas for her friends to react to her masterpiece of comedy could tug at a fellow’s heartstrings? As a person who often likes to make jokes and has a fragile self-image it speaks to me on a deep level.

          1. BBA

            You’re an odd duck. (But I’m one to talk.)

            I don’t cry at media, but the closest Nichijou came to moving me to tears was the scene near the end of the series with the “friendship coupon”. Just beautiful.

    6. Leit

      Melodramatic as it is, this song for me is Hurt.

      For a young, destitute, homeless me living in a city far from anyone he knew, The Downward Spiral crystallised the suicidal undercurrent in his thoughts and helped him work through it. Not bad considering it was more than a decade old when I first heard it.

    7. Deiseach

      “Eleanor Rigby” definitely for me as well. I find it always very hard to listen to, because it gives me a sharp stab of emotional pain. Because it’s not a big dramatic tragedy, it’s the quiet slide into hopelessness of everyday life when you’re getting older and either friends and family move away, move on, die, or you never had too many in the first place, and here you are living alone and likely to die alone. Just one of the countless lonely people that won’t make a stir.

      I’ll have to think a bit about music that has moved me to tears. There is music that moved me like getting klonked over the head with a 2×4 because of its beauty and sublimity – Mozart and Pärt are good for that – and many slow airs in Irish traditional music (and other folk music) do touch me and move me greatly, such as The Parting of Friends.

    8. TheDividualist

      Perhaps too obvious, but military laments and anything commemorating dead soldiers, like Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden, and and their various later musical e.g. rock-ish reinterpretations. Doesn’t really matter from what country. I haven’t even knew anyone who served beyond the mandatory terms that are common around here, and yet something as simple as a photo of airplanes flying in the missing man formation affects me very strongly. Somehow these moments of life feel the most real, most honest.

    9. houseboatonstyx

      My memory must be hallucinating. “[T]he smile that brings the tear” isn’t in “The Barrel-Organ”, and Google can’t find it anywhere else.

      But that’s how it works for me. Not music itself, but the memories around it. Really good music washes away tears and smiles both.

    10. J Mann

      You guys are so much more classy than I am!

      Music that has made me tear up.

      This piano rendition of Next to You, originally on the Parasyte OST. (It makes me remember Shinji’s run towards the sea wall, and I can’t say more without spoilers.)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch/v=D0b5uulBrDrs

      Kate Nash, The Nicest Thing

      When I was like 14, I heard Sting singing The Russians Love Their Children Too for the first time, late at night on the radio, wearing headphones in a dark room. I think all of those conditions were necessary.

      Elvis Costello, I Want You. (Full on tears running down my face on that one – in my defense, it was my first time listening to Blood and Chocolate, and I had just gone through a bad break-up).

      1. Deiseach

        You guys are so much more classy than I am!

        Or possibly simply more pretentious 🙂

        If we’re broadening this to “music that was personally meaningful at a certain time of our lives”, then for me:

        (a) Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty. It’s 1978, I’m just turned 15 (sigh – giving my age away with that), I’m doing the Intermediate Certificate national state exam, it’s June, it’s glorious summer mornings and I’m up early in the kitchen getting my breakfast before heading off for a full day in the exam hall, and this song is the big summer hit. It’s played on the radio every morning and it’s the soundtrack to my memories of that time. (Oh, that saxophone solo!)

        (b) Atmospherics: Listen to the Radio, Tom Robinson. 1983 and this song is on the radio every evening. I’ve never been to Paris, I’ve never lived the kind of life referenced in this song, but yes, at the time – every evening I get back from work, I turn on the radio, have my tea, and, as per the lyrics, I lie down on the bed, throw back my head, and listen to the radio.

    11. ediguls

      Simply listening to “Earth” gets me to cry almost always.

      Ólafur Arnalds also does it for me, with “This Place was a Shelter” (admittedly with strong visuals) and “Gleypa Okkur”.

      Then there’s also a random “Helicopter” rescuing me when I get “Lost in Las Vegas”.

      You could say I have a pretty strong reaction to music, I could name several more pieces from memory. It doesn’t even have to be good music, in any conventional sense of the word. Strangely enough, all these pieces are instrumental. I somehow, dunno, cringe when music has vocals.

      1. Bugmaster

        “Earth” doesn’t do much for me, but I find Blackheart to be oddly inspirational. It’s one of the very, very few pieces of music that actually creates images in my mind as I listen to it.

    12. Doctor Mist

      Best of my Love by the Eagles. Whatever that wailing instrument is in the vamp, and “Every morning I wake up and worry what’s gonna happen today.” I haven’t actually been depressed in a while, and I haven’t been in a dying relationship in even longer, but than line always reminds me how lucky I am about both. Of course an old man like me gets teary more easily than he used to.

  36. Saal

    “ssc spends a significant amount of time talking about stuff like how tables and chairs can be genders. he keeps a pretty unhinged tumblr”

    Are we sure Scott didn’t slip this one in himself? xD

  37. Roxanne

    Content critiques aside, I’m disgusted by the number of ad hominem attacks. Aspies, asexual heteroromantic in quotes, cuckold, mentally ill… I wish I could find it funny but it’s just really sad.

  38. David Friedman

    My only real complaint about SSC is the amount of my time it consumes, but that’s mostly the fault of the commenters, not Scott. And if I wasn’t wasting time here, I would very likely, on past evidence, be wasting it online somewhere with a lower level of civil conversation.

  39. EJB

    Scott,

    You’re a bright mind with many interesting ideas. SSC is great work, please keep it up and don’t ever change (well, do change, but only as appropriate after considering the merits). Hope all’s well with you and your family!

  40. nadbor

    Some of those comments are pure gold. And I don’t mean the dumb abusive ones, although they’re funny too especially in aggregate. I mean, some of them are actually witty and fun. Still pigheaded but with a grain of truth and very entertaining. So glad you posted this despite “optics” etc. I discovered this blog quite recently and instantly fell in love. I thoroughly enjoy your regular posts on every level – the insights, the witty and clear writing, the overall aura of niceness you project. But I rarely grin like crazy reading and this time I have. I feel like I should apologize for my immature sense of humor but I’m not gonna. You made my day, thank you.

      1. fubarobfusco

        More generally, web browsers send the “Referer” (sic), or the page that a link came from, when they request a linked page from a web server.

        So any site that you link to, will be able to see that you linked to it if people follow those links. On most common web servers (like Apache) this shows up in the logs.

        (… Unless the linking page is on HTTPS and the linked page is not, in which case browsers don’t send the Referer.)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_referer

  41. JohnMcG

    I suspect you already know this, but I’ll say it anyway.

    What these people wrote has very little to do with you, and about gaining status in the communities they are a part of. You are a high-profile person who has been critical of their communities; they gain status by trashing you, using any weapon at hand.

    If you did not provide those weapons, they would have grabbed other ones.

    If you didn’t exist or never wrote anything critical (or perceived as critical) about their movements, they would have targeted someone else.

    1. JohnMcG

      Although, I do have to wonder how much crap like this plays into the marketplace of ideas.

      We see some discussion about this, on the outskirts. About PC outrage mobs, or about how a jerky tech culture scares women out of STEM role.

      But I wonder how many people just decide to, in general, keep their mouths shut because to become a prominent champion of any particular position is to make oneself the scapegoat for the community that might be opposed to that position.

      And I don’t know how we get out of it. I would say that these people don’t have influence, but it looks like they’re gaining. Would it take something like a Trump presidency for us to decide that enduring this abuse is better than leaving the field open to those who don’t give a shit?

    2. ChetC3

      Surely he just hasn’t found and performed the correct rituals yet? I mean, there must be some way to ward off ostracism. The alternative would be unthinkable.

    3. AlexL

      Dude! It’s like Scott wrote the book on signaling and countersignaling. (j/k) (or at least a book length post on it).

      I’m pretty sure he knows that on an intellectual level, but I like the way you put it clearly and concisely.

    4. Alexander Stanislaw

      I think that’s 90% of it, the rest is genuine frustration that could have been stated much more reasonably.

  42. pf

    The post is amusing, but it occurs to me that after mentally translating these quotations from Bloggish into common English, I would have treated some of them as a positive references, or even strong recommendations (albeit from unreliable sources):

    “Slate Star Codex is 140 IQ discussion about 105 IQ issues”
    ==> The blog applies careful thinking to matters of general interest.

    “a blog populated by 99th percentile aspergers/IQ “rationalist” millennials who converse in an abnormally abstract style, and whose concrete cultural experience is drawn mainly from a bunch of weird nerd shit.”
    ==> Intelligent people make substantive observations in the comments.

    “is it some sort of special `Talk Like a Vulcan Day’ over there? Or are they always like that?”
    ==> Precise language and terminology are considered acceptable.

    “I thought it was a blog about science methodology until that post with the talking cactus.”
    ==> Matters of interest are described with sense of humor.

    1. Loquat

      “Precise language and terminology are considered acceptable.” – pf said, talking like a Vulcan.

      (Not that I don’t do the same thing myself – my husband likes to compare me to Lilith from Cheers.)

  43. ryan

    I think you kind of cherry picked here. Did you get any negative feedback? Seems only fair to show both sides.

  44. TheGreatandTerribleSlithery

    Hah.

    Cuddle piles and stuffed animals are quite literally the best. Those boogers are missing out.

  45. JakeR

    And I’m really confused how Scott can be accused of being an SJW. Aren’t a not-insignificant chunk of his posts railing against SJWs? Am I missing (or misunderstanding) something?

    1. Nornagest

      As much as I dislike social-justice demagoguery, I have to admit that there do exist a few people for whom an SJW is anyone to the left of Francisco Franco.

      1. Alex

        On the first parsing I misread “there do exist a few people for whom an SJW is anyone living in San Francisco”

        1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

          Well, there are probably published papers on correlations with a lower R-squared.

    2. Anon

      I’m not a fan of SJWs, and I definitely don’t consider Scott to be one. He seems to do a really good job of keeping the decent parts of SJW-ism (treating people with respect, trying not to typical-mind when hearing about someone else’s lived experience, not lumping all minorities together into one indistinguishable group, etc.) and leaving the bad parts behind (insulting members of “privileged” groups just for being “privileged,” telling random white men to go kill themselves, treating all heterosexual males as sexual predators, etc.)

      He’s one of the few people who seem to genuinely be outside the usual SJW/anti-SJW binary that is emerging online.

      1. EyeballFrog

        “not lumping all minorities together into one indistinguishable group”

        That’s actually a pretty big part of SJWism. The term “person of color” does exactly this.

    3. merzbot

      SSC has drawn some attention from the alt-right by taking them seriously and writing popular anti-feminist posts, and the alt-right has a pretty broad definition of SJW.

      1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

        Most people have the same definition for SJW: “SJ person I don’t like”

        The further right you go, this group usually becomes pretty pretty large, because those guys saying “maybe the emancipation of slaves was a good idea” should really stop shoving their PC bs down our throat.

        The further into SJ you go, it gets smaller, that guy doxxing someone has their heart in the right place, isn’t actually physically hurting anyone, and really, that bigot probably deserved it anyway…

  46. JakeR

    I guess I’m just a normal weirdo, because I’m not an aspie, nor do I have an exceptionally high IQ, nor do I identify with any of the various labels flung at our esteemed blog host (SJW-feminist-entitled, asexual, lesswrong-er, etc.), yet I mostly find the content here to be interesting, insightful, and full of great intellectual excursion exploring various issues and dynamics of our dysfunctional society in a new light. And the discussion threads are of a significantly higher caliber than typically found on the intertubes. Sure, it can be kinda long-winded, but that’s a plus, in my book.
    Keep ’em coming, SA!

  47. Totient

    “Slate Star Codex is 140 IQ discussion about 105 IQ issues”

    Can this be the new tag-line? Please?

      1. LHC

        The quotes in the article. At a quick glance, the “kill yourself” comment, the “examining the bark on the trees” comment, the “basically a fish trap for aspies” comment, and the “obviousville” comment leap out.

        1. gbdub

          Actually I thought the “bark on the trees” and “obviousville” ones had a bit of truth, and would be pretty funny in a “roast” context if they were delivered as jokes rather than, apparently, seriously.

          1. J Mann

            The obviousville quote is my favorite. It’s like super-dense Oscar Wilde.

            And I just can’t stop thinking about it. Why a “return ticket?” Does this blog take us to obviousville AND BACK, and if so, what does the “and back” mean?

            Or is a return ticket different from a round trip ticket, and this blog brings us (eventually) home from obviousville, a place in which we were formerly stranded?

          2. suntzuanime

            It is a return ticket because Obviousville should be your home, but the beginning of the article finds itself in Asperg. The criticism being made is that yes, the article does eventually get to the truth, but comes from a bizarre and inhuman starting point and goes to way more work than should be necessary to reach a conclusion that should have been self-evident.

  48. J Mann

    “that article seemed like a return ticket to obviousville with eight-hour layovers everywhere”

    That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!!

    Thanks Scott – many of these were hilarious, and I hope your feelings weren’t hurt.

  49. Rob K

    As a beta orbiting talking cactus, I really appreciate having a source of content tailored so specifically to my interests.

  50. EyeballFrog

    Is anyone else noticing that the ones who refer to him and the community as “aspies”, “spergs”, etc. seem to be exactly the kind of people who would go on about how awful ableist slurs are? Or has Asperger’s as a disability reached a situation like Asians and whiteness: they’re only an oppressed minority when it’s convenient?

      1. David Moss

        I know a fair few people who will happily do both. A lot of people seem to care about ableism (and the other isms) just insofar as it is either directed at ‘their guys’ or it will allow them to bash the people they’re opposed to.

      1. gbdub

        My guess is most. Everyone is calling him a “nerd” but the right/reactionary/MRA version is to focus on his wimpiness / lack of masculinity, hence “beta cuckold orbiter”. The left/SJW version is to focus on his insensitivity / lack of social awareness, hence “aspie”/”fedora”.

        1. arbitrary_greay

          My guess is many, but that they represent only a section of SJ. (Unknown if minority or majority)

          In other SJ circles, with everyone agreed about sexism/racism doctrine, the new thing is addressing ableism, especially mental illness/disability. Accommodations are valid, don’t kneejerk discount self-diagnosis, lived experience is still king, demanding visible disability is SUPER ABLEIST AND OPPRESSIVE, etc.
          It’s gone so far that there’s internal backlash over letting the self-identified wallow too much.

          The contempt over Asperger’s and rationalists from [certain] SJ circles comes from a suspicion of people justifying their -ist behavior with social awkwardness and the like. From their perspective, the interlopers are only claiming Asperger’s as an excuse to ignore niceness, community, and civilization. And so the term becomes a dog whistle.

      2. E. Harding

        Urstoff, in reply to your MR comment, do you not realize that the only reason I spam MR is because its author started deleting my comments, forcing me to do my writing outside of them? I will stop making new MCR posts if my comments stop being deleted for a period of nine days. I wasn’t banned because of spamming; I spam because of banning.

        And I doubt most of the “aspie”/”sperg” comments are coming from the SJ side. Doesn’t sound like them.

        1. anonymous

          That makes no sense. Why would you want to post *more* if your comments are being deleted? You’d think you’d want to post less because each post is seen by fewer people. (Actually the normal reaction would be to stop posting there altogether, but leave that aside.)

    1. ryan

      What character traits are aspie/sperg trying to slander? I’m honestly not familiar with the term, doesn’t make immediate sense.

    2. BBA

      I read an unstated implication in these kinds of insults that Asperger’s isn’t real or the target doesn’t really have it – he’s just an awkward nerd who obsesses over minutia, etc., and should just knock it off and act normal. There’s certainly no shortage of people who have self-diagnosed Asperger’s and use it as an excuse to be dickish. (I actually don’t know whether I’m one of these people. My brother has a severe, officially diagnosed case of Asperger’s and I see a lot of myself in his behavior, but also a lot of stuff that with additional effort I could knock off and be normal.)

  51. Goatstein

    Don’t forget this one

    http://www.rhizzone.net/forum/topic/13106/

    “Scott Alexander over at the popular blog Slate Star Codex is an interesting case study in classical liberalism; nowhere else will you find someone who better exemplifies the phenomenon of skirting within microns of the event horizon of Getting It before screaming “Nooooo” and zooming off in some other direction; nor will you find many who choose a crazier direction in which to flee. “

    1. nil

      Would definitely love to see this post/argument get more exposure. I’m a regular reader and basically a fan of this blog but agree with pretty much everything in it (edit: except, on rereading, all the parts about SSC’s interest in the singularity constituting a religion and enabling procrastination re: solving real problems; I think all the EA stuff serves as a pretty good rebuttal to all that).

      Or, perhaps better yet, some kind of genuine deep dive into those eight-figure Black Book of Communism numbers, since they seem to be the main thing really keeping this blog and much of its readership from some variant of Full Blown Socialism

      1. dndnrsn

        Aren’t eight-figure deaths due to Communism in the 20th century accepted by most legitimate scholars, with the issue being “how many tens of millions, how many are due to misfortune vs incompetence vs mallice?” The “Black Book of Communism” number is widely regarded to be unrealistically high, was my understanding.

        It’s also unfair to compare to the Nazis, because National Socialism only lasted 12 years, with almost all of the deaths due to it coming in the last 6 years (and those mostly in the last 4), and had far fewer people in its grasp than Communism did.

        1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

          The problems arise in:
          1) As you say, how many tens of millions
          2) How many are atributable to Communism
          3) How many deaths in the same time period can be atributed to Capitalism, which inevitably leads to…
          4) What exactly are Capitalism, Communism, and Socialism, and in which ways are they comparable? (In my experience, which is probably not generalizable, Socialists/Commies are pretty coy about this last point).

          1. dndnrsn

            This is all true. I’m not some kind of rabid anti-communist, and capitalism has its body count for sure. I’d argue that it’s probably lower (if not in total – as you point out, defining capitalism is an issue – then lower when considered relative to timespan, and probably to reach), and less intentional, than communism.

            In turn, communism’s body count is relatively lower (when, again, timespan and reach are considered) than that of national socialism (I’d say fascism, but the majority of the body count of fascism was by national socialism), and less intentional – and if they’d won the war, the German leadership’s plans for the East involved the deliberate starvation of several tens of millions and the reduction of the survivors to helot status. I would argue that intentionally causing death is morally worse than accidentally causing it, or having it happen on your watch but failing to do much about it.

            So, if we’re ranking evil by deaths, especially if limited to the 20th century, communism comes in 2nd out of 3.

        2. nil

          Well, the numbers are disputed to some degree. E.g., some of the famine numbers were based on comparing actual population numbers to what would be expected under an extrapolation of the best-guess birth rate; numbers relating to the gulags didn’t do a good job of distinguishing political from non-political prisoners, nor natural and unnatural causes. Obviously, you’re not talking about contexts where there’s necessarily any better way to figure these things out, but “best available” can co-exist with dodgy.

          But the numbers aren’t the real problem, from my point of view–even if they’re off by an order of magnitude it would be more than enough to discredit communism from the perspective of anyone reading this blog. The real question is the one of “misfortune vs incompetence vs malice,” to which I would add context and comparison. I don’t have any doubt that Mao bears significant responsibility for the famine that occurred under his watch (the Four Pests campaign certainly deserves to be in the Worst Ideas Hall of Fame) but I think it’s worth also remembering that it was the last Chinese famine, and that the genre had a great many other entries prior to Communist rule. It’s also worth investigating whether the framework used to blame famines on communists can be used to blame other famines on capitalism–do that, and you’re going to pull in the Irish Potato Famine and multiple famines in British India at the very least, with plenty more to pick from as you broaden your standards (Late Victorian Holocausts is a good examination of this side of things).

          And, finally, it’s worth noting that the reason almost everything in this post is talking about famines is that the vast majority of the deaths attributed to communism come from famines, which (IMO, YMMV) makes them qualitatively different from Nazi Germany’s efforts.

          1. Urstoff

            I don’t think the incompetence vs. malice question matters that much. If your system is constructed so that the incompetence of the supreme leader can lead to millions of deaths, you have a bad system (misfortune is somewhat different; but we can look at what economic systems are most robust in the face of misfortunes). The question for communists is whether some aspect of communism makes the probability high that you will have brutal Stalinism or incompetent (and brutal) Maoism; if so, then you’ve got a major problem.

          2. dndnrsn

            My comment above is relevant – Nazi Germany is definitely the worst, due to the intensity of the death toll (considering how many people they had dominion over and how quickly it was done) and the intentionality of it.

            I would certainly condemn, say, Britain’s leadership for the famines in India or elsewhere on the same grounds as I would condemn the Soviet or Chinese leadership for their famines. 3 million or so died in the Bengal Famine, during WWII – and it is worth noting that since India gained self-rule, it has had problems with malnutrition, but never any acute famines, which were fairly common under British rule.

            There’s more than enough moral blame to go around, really.

          3. nil

            @ Urstoff: I think it matters a lot. Part of this is that if it’s incompetence, then it could, potentially, be corrected (and really, what does a failure of central planning in the fifties tell us about the effectiveness of central planning in 2016, when said planners would have access to an unfathomably greater amount of computational power?).

            Another part of it is that if it’s incompetence, you can start getting utilitarian about it. If Mao accidentally kills 20 million people, but also prevented 30 million deaths through glorious socialism, then maybe, on the balance, it starts to look like a not-terrible deal. But if it’s malice, there’s something really off-putting about that analysis, and it obviously remains wrong from any deontological perspective.

            But mostly it’s rhetorical. Take, for example, the Moloch essay. I’m not a Marxist scholar by a long shot, but to me a very significant portion of that essay is a paraphrase of Marx’s declining rates of profit. In a world where Stalin is Hitler+, it makes sense to brush off the implications with a brief reference to “100 million dead.” But if was “well-meaning but flawed,” then that blitheness sticks out like a sore thumb. There’s a big difference people how people treat a murderous ideology and one which fucked up.

            All that said–I wouldn’t expect anyone who bought the numbers and ascribed them to incompetence to be a communist. If it’s just a question of “should we implement this system” then it wouldn’t be worth the risk no matter how many of the problems we thought we fixed.

          4. The original Mr. X

            3 million or so died in the Bengal Famine, during WWII – and it is worth noting that since India gained self-rule, it has had problems with malnutrition, but never any acute famines, which were fairly common under British rule.

            To be fair, there have been advances in farming techniques/technology since the 1950s and ’60s, so it’s not quite a fair comparison. As with the famine under Mao, it’s as if widespread starvation was unknown pre-British India.

            Plus with respect to the Bengal Famine, it’s worth pointing out that a most of the territory that usually supplied Bengal’s food was under Japanese occupation at the time.

          5. Vox Imperatoris

            @ nil:

            But mostly it’s rhetorical. Take, for example, the Moloch essay. I’m not a Marxist scholar by a long shot, but to me a very significant portion of that essay is a paraphrase of Marx’s declining rates of profit. In a world where Stalin is Hitler+, it makes sense to brush off the implications with a brief reference to “100 million dead.” But if was “well-meaning but flawed,” then that blitheness sticks out like a sore thumb. There’s a big difference people how people treat a murderous ideology and one which fucked up.

            For what it’s worth, that essay was one of the first I read by Scott, and my reaction to that point was: this is basically just Marxism. He’s also got a whole FAQ attacking libertarianism (though he says he’s gotten more friendly to it over the years).

            Worrying about collective action problems is a very leftist thing, since if they are pervasive and severe enough, it proves that markets cannot work. David Friedman has made this point repeatedly.

            What do you think he ought to read to be convinced that Marxism is correct?

            Also, you’re entirely correct that the history of the Soviet Union and all other communist countries can hardly prove that state socialism doesn’t work. It’s always possible to argue that they just didn’t do it right. Now, if every country that tries it doesn’t do it right, then maybe that’s evidence that doing it right is very hard. But maybe they were just unlucky.

            And if you define capitalism as “anything that’s not socialism”, then yes you can show many atrocities committed under “capitalist” regimes. The response by advocates of laissez-faire capitalism is: they didn’t do capitalism right.

          6. dndnrsn

            @Urstoff:

            I would argue that one of the reasons to consider malice vs incompetence, or misfortune exacerbated by incompetence, is that malice goes out of its way to cause harm.

            National Socialism was basically destined to cause persecution, war, and death. Hitler’s intention from the beginning was to expand Germany’s territory to encompass “Greater Germany”, to attack eastwards to claim land and resources, to get rid of the Jews one way or another (whether he intended genocide from the beginning or not is a matter of debate among historians).

            The way things went down was, up until Germany started losing the war, National Socialism working more or less as intended.

            In comparison, if the deaths ascribed to communism were due to misfortune and incompetence, well, better fortune and more competence would fix that, at least in theory.

            It’s like comparing a rocket weapon to a passenger plane that gets hit by lightning and also the pilot is drunk.

            I personally think that communism’s track record is enough to, at the very least, raise eyebrows. So it never impresses me when communists proclaim its clear superiority to our system, especially when they pull a “no true Scotsman” and announce that everybody prior was doing it wrong, but this time there will be no starvation or forced labour or people shot in the back of the neck for no reason. It’s the same as when laissez faire capitalists proclaim that as the solution to everything, and pull similar rhetorical tricks.

          7. alexp

            The Bengal Famine of 1943 is an interesting case study I think. There was a lot of bad luck, the British definitely could have done more (and Churchill was being a huge douche about it), but I think ultimately, the responsibility lies with the Japanese.

          8. dndnrsn

            @The original Mr. X:

            There’s argument among historians as to the causes of the Bengal famine. However, it seems pretty clear that the British did not do a great deal to alleviate it.

          9. Urstoff

            “In comparison, if the deaths ascribed to communism were due to misfortune and incompetence, well, better fortune and more competence would fix that.”

            Given the universality of misfortune and incompetence, that’s not very comforting to anyone with a goal of trying to choose an optimal economic system.

            The question is whether you’re trying to apportion blame for past instances or construct (or avoid constructing) systems for future use.

          10. dndnrsn

            @Urstoff:

            I edited my post a little. I am not an advocate of communism.

            Intentionality is useful beyond apportioning blame, though: it’s conceivable (even if not likely) that, if communism’s problems were due to incompetence, it could be done better.

            In comparison, national socialism with less incompetence would be more dangerous: were it not for Hitler’s incompetence as an administrator and tendency to micromanage, resulting conflicts and infighting in the Nazi German government and military leadership, intelligence failures, strategic errors, etc, Germany might have won the war, which would have led to many more deaths. In many ways, Nazi Germany fulfilled a lot of the “evil overlord does something really stupid” tropes.

          11. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

            >I think it matters a lot. Part of this is that if it’s incompetence, then it could, potentially, be corrected (and really, what does a failure of central planning in the fifties tell us about the effectiveness of central planning in 2016, when said planners would have access to an unfathomably greater amount of computational power?)

            Well, I think we should at the very least make the distinction between reasonable policies implemented incompetently, incompetent policies implemented reasonably, and incompetent policies implemented incompetently.

            What you say is true for the first group, but if there are things that can be classified in the second, that’d be a knock against communism.

            The third group provides us with all those soviet era anecdotes that we all find so hilarious (except maybe the people who lived in those countries).

          12. Urstoff

            @dndnrsn

            Fair points, but the game of “which is less terrible: communism or nazism” seems like kind of a dumb game to participate in.

          13. Vox Imperatoris

            Well, I think we should at the very least make the distinction between reasonable policies implemented incompetently, incompetent policies implemented reasonably, and incompetent policies implemented incompetently.

            Right. Moreover, you can attack a system based on the kind of people it is likely to put in charge.

            It would probably be good if we had a benevolent dictatorship. But if we tried it and the leader was bad, it wouldn’t be much of a defense to simply say he was incompetent. The very problem with the system is that there’s no reason to think the dictator will be competent. It predictably leads to bad leaders.

            When you give unlimited power to a small party elite, who is likely to get that power? Intellectuals thinking about the good of mankind as a whole? Or vicious social climbers posing as them?

          14. David Friedman

            On the “incompetence vs malice” question I think it’s worth comparing the Ukraine famine with the Great Leap Forward famine. At least as I read the evidence, the Ukraine famine was deliberate.

            I don’t think the Great Leap Forward famine was. Mao had created a situation in which there were strong incentives for local officials to lie about crop output, and they did. Believing their lies, the government exported a lot of food. A lot of people died–probably considerably more than in the Ukraine famine.

            There is some evidence that when people told Mao what was happening his response was to purge them, which is part of the reason that Rummel decided to include those deaths in his figures for democide. But I don’t think there is any reason to believe that Mao started out with the intention of starving people to death.

            On death counts, by the way, Rummel’s democide page is a good source.

          15. Stefan Drinic

            I’m not sure if the paradigm people here are looking at these things is very helpful. ‘Communism vs capitalism vs fasacism’ is a very post WW2 thing to do, and it’s not exactly helpful to try and fit everything into such characteristics whilst ignoring everything else.

            If you look at the examples of deaths caused by communism, people here keep citing Russia and China. That’s all well and good, but you’re missing the fundamental point that these are and were radically different civilisations from our modern states, and attributing all their issues to the economic system they happen to have implemented is incredibly shortsighted.

            In learning revolutionary theory, people studying history tend to learn that post 19th centuries revolutions against autocratic governments and the subsequent reforming of the country could happen in one of three ways. You could have a middle class revolution as in France, an ‘authoritarian revolution’ where the upper classes realised they would need to get their shit together before things went awry quickly, as happened in Germany, or a lower class revolution as happened in the world’s empires for the most part: China, Russia, and later many colonial places as well, though you can dispute the validity of these.

            Keeping this in mind, ascribing so many millions of deaths to communism isn’t the most helpful thing to do. We’re talking about countries where the common people were of a far lower class than they were elsewhere in the world, and where a peaceful transition from one system to the other may well have been impossible. This makes the amount of deaths such things were paired with no less horrible, but seen in the context of states with very different institutions evolving they can be revealed to be more than a case of ‘communism bad.’

            Also, on a slight tangent, I want to note that both China and Russia had their issues with famines before/during/after succession troubles before communism just fine. The fall of Han China and the time of troubles in Russia both had death tolls well within the double digit percentages, more because of famine than because of actual warfare.

          16. TheDividualist

            @Vox

            >Moreover, you can attack a system based on the kind of people it is likely to put in charge.

            Excellent, congratulations, that is one of the best angles.

            >It would probably be good if we had a benevolent dictatorship. But if we tried it and the leader was bad, it wouldn’t be much of a defense to simply say he was incompetent. The very problem with the system is that there’s no reason to think the dictator will be competent. It predictably leads to bad leaders.

            Dictatorship itself is not a system, because there are multiple ways someone could become a dictator. Actual systems are like democracy or hereditary monarchy / aristocracy.

            I think we can say with some confidence that democracy predictably, reliably puts bad people into charge, because it selects for ability and willingness to dupe the dumb masses.

            The advantage of hereditary monarchy / aristocracy is that it has both nature and nurture on its side, the idea is that it tries to not select leaders but manufacture leaders, through breeding and education. This is actually the best known way to make a racehorse so there is sense in it, there are two issues, they can get too complacent, or too detached from everyday reality, and also that in the case of monarchy despite the high chance to manufacture a decent monarch, sometimes you are unlucky.

            Dictatorship is not a singular system, because for example Hitler was going the usual democratic route and then refused to hold elections, so he was selected for the usual democratic mass-fooling ability and willingness, while Franco led soldiers into a risky revolt, so he was selected for his ability to inspire soldiers and make them loyal to himself. Salazar was a professor of economics and an outstanding good finance minister, the first one ever to produce a budgetary surplus in Portugal, and was picked for this by the president and competing factions. Obviously enough, Salazar was far better than Franco and Franco far far better than Hitler.

            It is just three random examples, but isn’t it interesting how the most democratically selected dictator is the worst?

            Another good angle is how the leaders are likely to change the people. That’s for next time.

          17. TheDividualist

            I’ll go out on a limb and say Communism was malice, not incompetence. Just because they were saying they have nice intentions? Really? You gotta believe that? Or put it differently they were NOT saying they gonna kill a large group of people and reduce other countries to slavery? But they did just that anyway.

            Why give credit just because they talked nicer?

            The problem is that you guys are too much influenced by Universalism so you give to much credit to those who don’t say that openly that I will enrich my group at the expense of that other group. Who seem to say something along the lines of they are gonna treat everybody the same and not have dedicated enemies. So I think many of you may confuse good intentions with Universalistic intentions.

            It’s possible to be a universal asshole, and equal-opportunity murderer. When you don’t even care that much about your national ingroup. Just power.

            It is perfectly possible that more competent Communists just would have channelled the better economy into more and better weapons and then pull a Clancy on Western Europe.

          18. Anonymous

            Isn’t there a libertarian line about how Rachel Carson, simply by publishing a book, caused 60-80 million deaths?

            Since liberals are fascists, and socialists, and communists, and rachel carson (and capitalists) I think we can solve this without buying a vowel.

          19. dndnrsn

            @Stefan Drinic:

            Comparing fascism, communism, and capitalism makes sense because “capitalism has its death toll too!” is heard from communists.

            It is definitely true that some places and times (geographically, in terms of development, whatever) are more susceptible to famine than others.

            Still, reading, for instance, about the Ukrainian famine, unless one is a complete revisionist, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Soviet government handled it very poorly, unless they wanted that many people to starve to death.

            The reason the focus is on famines is that, while a lot of people died due to malice, the majority died due to famine (either malice or incompetence depending how you count it).

            I also am not sure I agree with the assessment that the Soviet Union in the 1930s, or China in the late 50s-early 60s, was somehow radically different and alien compared to today, or all other societies at the same time. For instance, yes, the rural areas in the USSR were quite underdeveloped compared to Western or even Eastern Europe. If, however, the USSR had been truly primitive in terms of infrastructure and organization and the like, they would not have been able to defeat Nazi Germany a decade or so later (and it should be considered that during WWII the rural areas were still underdeveloped – which is part of the reason that the Germans had such a hard time with logistics).

            The situation is the same with the Bengal famine, and other famines in British-ruled India. Was part of it that conditions for famine existed in India that did not exist in, say, Britain? Yes. But also a big part of it was that the British rulers of India did not consider keeping Indians from starving to death as one of their higher priorities.

            Additionally, there is the argument (I believe it’s Amartya Sen?) that famine is rarely due to crop failures and the like alone – there has to be some kind of conflict preventing food from moving about, a government that fucks up, etc.

            Besides, I rarely see communists make the argument that “tens of millions starving to death is an unfortunate but unavoidable step in building a better society” any more than I see them saying “building a massive security apparatus and having people shot in the back of the neck and sending people to labour camps is unpleasant but must be done” a great deal. It’s either tu quoque, arguing the numbers, or ignoring it outright.

          20. ChetC3

            I think we can say with some confidence that democracy predictably, reliably puts bad people into charge, because it selects for ability and willingness to dupe the dumb masses.

            Hereditary monarchy reliably selects for parricides, fratricides, and willingness to commit every kind of intra-family violence. Successful monarchs are also more likely than not to be accomplished liars and back-stabbers.

            The advantage of hereditary monarchy / aristocracy is that it has both nature and nurture on its side, the idea is that it tries to not select leaders but manufacture leaders, through breeding and education. This is actually the best known way to make a racehorse so there is sense in it, there are two issues, they can get too complacent, or too detached from everyday reality, and also that in the case of monarchy despite the high chance to manufacture a decent monarch, sometimes you are unlucky.

            Hereditary monarchies are not an unknown quantity, they have been the most common form of government in the historical record. Historical monarchies have not reliably produced superior leaders and good government. They have produced do-nothing kings, rule by debauched favorites, endemic corruption, and chronic instability. It is no coincidence that they have failed to compete against modern states ruled by a superior breed of ruthless power seeker.

          21. Stefan Drinic

            I don’t see how ‘those other folks started using a dumb framing first!’ is a good reason to keep on using said dumb way of framing something yourself. Arguing about why you’d do much better in using other ways to look at governance is another discussion, but suffice it to say that these categories are selectively too broad, to narrow, or inapplicable entirely to some other places.

            Either way, focusing on famines is fine, but the focus is in the wrong place. Saying ‘the Soviet Union and China had a famine, the 20th century west generally didn’t, QED communism is bad’ is incredibly shortsighted. Instead of comparing China and the Soviet union to other contemporary states, you want to look at them for what they were: states with a high majority agrarian population with a highly centralised form of government undergoing a violent transition of government. You show me a place where such a thing goes well, and I’ll show you an Ethiopia, a Congo, a Romania. One of the reasons France didn’t have a huge famine after its own revolution is because it was such a famine that kickstarted it.

            Whether or not the deaths in communist states is up to malice or incompetence isn’t even relevant anymore at that point. Looking at the perils of China and the Soviet Union and attributing their errors to communism rather than their legacy is nothing other than shortsighted. It’s but one symptom of generally paying less attention to historians than economists because the latter have a (not entirely undeservedly) better reputation for being a hard science.

          22. John Schilling

            Hereditary monarchy reliably selects for parricides, fratricides, and willingness to commit every kind of intra-family violence.

            I’d like some evidence for what sounds like a standard-issue Ev-Psych “Just So Story”. You can’t judge reproductive fitness until you see viable grandchildren, of which e.g. Macbeth had none and Scotland got Malcom and his line.

            So, what is the rate at which regicidal moarchs have viable genetic and/or dynastic grandchildren, as compared to their counterparts who are content to remain dukes or whatever? I haven’t done the math, but my general reading of history is that hereditary monarchy selects for stable and mutually supportive families. And culls the defectors in ways that make for great stories as they otherwise vanish from history and the gene pool.

          23. Vox Imperatoris

            @ John Schilling:

            I don’t believe he means it selects for them genetically.

            It selects for them in the sense that if the only way to get power is to kill your brother for it, you’re going to either kill your brother or not have power.

            This happens regardless of whether “willingness to kill one’s brother” is a heritable trait.

            @ TheDividualist:

            I don’t think democracy selects for particularly good leaders. But it also selects against particularly bad leaders.

            The idea is that you have mediocre leaders with limited power, creating a better situation than mediocre leaders with unlimited power, let alone bad leaders with such power. Both of these are worse than excellent leaders with unlimited power, but that’s a very difficult thing to achieve, not least for the fact that power itself tends to corrupt.

            You see this even with menial things like George Lucas on the Star Wars prequels. When he was a nobody, people were willing to tell him where his ideas were bad, and he took their advice into account. But after he became an industry giant, everyone was fawning over him as a creative genius and no one was willing to tell him to tone things down. Having power removes the regulators on people’s negative personalty traits and habits.

            Not to mention that a truly absolute monarchy is a myth. Even if an absolute monarch has the best will in the world, he’s still got to deal with court intrigue and keep the nobles happy.

          24. John Schilling

            Saying ‘the Soviet Union and China had a famine, the 20th century west generally didn’t, QED communism is bad’ is incredibly shortsighted.

            But the complaint, unless it is being excessively stripped for brevity, isn’t just that the Soviet Union and China had famines. It is that, in the midst of famine, they sent men with guns to take food away from the hungry and farmland away from the farmers.

            That’s capital-E Evil in a way that mundane agricultural failure is not. Or, at a minimum, I should think that strict liability would apply. If your ideology or economic theory says that a famine should be thusly managed, either your dispossession-and-redistribution scheme works, or you are guilty of criminally reckless homicide.

          25. HlynkaCG

            Exactly, and it’s the part of the complaint that committed Marxists tend to gloss over.

            Yes, capitalist countries had famines too, no one is denying that. But as a general rule the capitalists didn’t respond by shooting or imprisoning farmers who failed to make their quota.

            Granted, within the Marxist framework punishing those who hold out is the correct course of action but surely one can see how those “on the ground” might be inclined to conclude that your glorious workers paradise is just the opposite.

          26. Stefan Drinic

            Jesus Christ, man. How often do I have to spell out what I’ve been saying?

            Such antics have much, much less to do with communism than they do with the fall of agricultural empires in the modern world, be they called Abyssinia or Qing. You can keep pretending that it’s due to communism, or you can come to realise that maybe, just maybe, shifts of power and governance in such cases will come with a large death toll regardless of the ideology in place.

            This blame the outgroup thing is getting really old by now. I’m not a communist, you’re not a communist, but you’re coming across as trying to score points against it anyway. Can you PLEASE stop framing everything as having economic theory as its root cause and try to look at history from a more institutional perspective instead?

          27. John Schilling

            It selects for them in the sense that if the only way to get power is to kill your brother for it, you’re going to either kill your brother or not have power.

            Which monarchies are you thinking of where the brother of the king does not have power?

            The brother who kils the king, now he is at great risk of winding up powerless, either dead or an impotent guest in the court of whoever will host his government-in-exile when a neighboring kingdom with a more functional sort of monarchy conquers the squabbling regicidalists.

            Again, I am asking for the actual evidence for the claim, not the just-so story. If “power” is your metric, then what is the average power wielded by regicidal vs. non-regicidal brothers-of-kings in history?

            And really, since we are talking about “selection”, I still would prefer to know about the power wielded by their dynasties in the third generation. Because Duncan – Macbeth – Malcom – Donald doesn’t look like selection for treachery to me.

          28. Chevalier Mal Fet

            Last Chinese famine *so far*…It’s only been a half-century or so.

            Personally, I view the CCP as no more or less evil than any of the dynasties that preceded it. I expect it to hold together in some form or another for 300 or 400 years, then after a period of disunion something else will unite China.

            That’s been the pattern since Confucius and I see no reason to expect a change.

          29. dndnrsn

            @Stefan Drinic:

            “the Soviet Union and China had a famine, the 20th century west generally didn’t, QED communism is bad”

            Is not really what I or anybody here said.

            You are right that it is unfair to compare the 1930s USSR or China in the 50s and 60s to more developed countries. And you can compare the USSR or China to, say, the Congo, BUT:

            1. Nobody I know of argues that the system (or lack thereof) in the Congo should be adopted by anyone else.

            2. The Ukrainian famine and the famine under Mao in the late 50s/early 60s did not happen during a transition. In both cases the Communists were in power, and had been for a decade or more. This was not a “civil war, breakdown of society, nobody gets any food” situation.

            3. John Schilling makes a good point and I don’t really need to repeat it.

            Additionally, I would not say I’m relying more on economists than historians – my area of study was history, not economics.

          30. HlynkaCG

            @ Stefan Drinic

            The same point can be made about Abyssinia or Qing, as was already made about “capitalist” famines. It’s not just that there is a famine, it’s that Marxism is prone to a specific failure mode that makes famines worse.

            This is a flaw that needs to be addressed if you’re going to seriously defend Marxism.

          31. Vox Imperatoris

            @ John Schilling:

            Again, I am asking for the actual evidence for the claim, not the just-so story. If “power” is your metric, then what is the average power wielded by regicidal vs. non-regicidal brothers-of-kings in history?

            I don’t have a statistical analysis in front of me, but the broad history of monarchical regimes seems to me to show that they were wracked by instability and succession crises.

            Usually, the monarch’s actual authority is inversely correlated to his dynasty’s longevity. See: the longevity of the Japanese imperial dynasty versus the Chinese dynasties.

            For specific examples of fratricide, Charlemagne comes to mind as one likely candidate, along with the Ottoman dynasty, and the grand dukes of the Kievan Rus’. There are many other examples, especially once you include killing mothers, spouses, children, and more distant relatives. Even in WWI, all the royal families involved were closely related (except the Ottomans), though some of them had little power.

          32. God Damn John Jay

            Two of the Jimenez brothers waged war on the third. Then one of those two killed the remaining brother.

            Nero inherited the throne as a child because his uncle(?) was murdered by his mother.

            There are also at least two cases of brother in laws rebelling against a weak or heirless King. Harold Godwinson rebelled against Edward the Confessor and Sybilla’s husband made a coup attempt on Baldwin the IV. (One of the conditions for Sybilla’s son taking the throne was that she divorce Reynaud, while being given permission to marry any other man in Jerusalem).

          33. Vox Imperatoris

            @ John Schilling:

            What do you expect?

            You make some assertion on the basis of “common sense” in your opinion. We make competing assertions based on our “common sense” and historical anecdotes.

            I don’t have a damn research paper at hand. And I’m not particularly inclined to find one for the purpose of this little discussion.

          34. David Friedman

            “states with a high majority agrarian population with a highly centralised form of government undergoing a violent transition of government.”

            Both the Ukraine famine and the Great Leap Forward famine occurred well after the violent transition stage.

          35. David Friedman

            The Ottomans are in interesting case, because the succession rule was pretty clearly fratricide. When the Sultan died, the close relatives who wanted the job fought each other.

            It’s an expensive mechanism, but it does a good job of selecting the candidate who is best at winning a civil war, which is likely to mean the candidate best at running an aggressively expansionary empire.

          36. TheDividualist

            @Vox Imperatoris

            Seriously, how can limited power be a stable equilibrium? What keeps it limited? Whatever limits power is in itself power, be that a constitutional court or pitchforks. The only way to limit power without actually getting power is the one we learned on the marketplace: the threat of peaceful exit. Ideally, I should be able to commute to my current job from three different sovereign lands. For the same reason I can only expect my lunch to be tasty if I can choose from three different restaurants. If and when that could be achieved, there would be hardly any point in keeping mini-governments democratic.

            However this would have other problems like many small wars, no generic peacekeeping.

            I don’t think anyone has a firm recipe of what would really work, but we can already begin to see the outlines of why nothing works that was tried so far.

          37. TheDividualist

            >Hereditary monarchy reliably selects for parricides, fratricides, and willingness to commit every kind of intra-family violence.

            This is fixable by the ruler selecting a heir in the will, not necessarily the elder son, but more like the most capable or even someone outside the family, and keep it secret until he dies. This would also fix genetic accidents and infertility. Why not? It would still be private property. The owner freely deciding how any private property is inherited, be that a farm or a kingdom, and not having a law that privileges descendants, is a reasonably libertarianish idea, isn’t it? And thus as long as you trust the ruler, you can trust his unknown selected heir.

          38. The original Mr. X

            This is fixable by the ruler selecting a heir in the will, not necessarily the elder son, but more like the most capable or even someone outside the family, and keep it secret until he dies.

            The problem with that, though, is that there will inevitably be some people who support the ruler’s actual son because of his bloodline, and hence there will be potential for conflict. Even in Rome, where the imperial power was theoretically just another magistracy, someone like Agrippa Postumus was considered a threat to Tiberius for no other reason than that he was descended from Augustus.

            Plus, there’s the fact that people are naturally biased in favour of their own offspring. I wouldn’t consider it unlikely for a king to nominate his own son, even if said son wasn’t actually very competent.

          39. Anonymous

            @Dividualist

            Actually, primogeniture is more stable that elective, also more stable than ultimogeniture.

            With primogeniture, there’s a very clear line of succession, not dependent on the prior monarch having said something or not on his deathbed, there’s more time for the younger offspring and vassals to adapt and get to know the successor before he inherits, and the secondary kids don’t get superior firepower compared to the main heir. Therefore, minimal squabbling.

          40. Nita

            Well said, purple anon. Incidentally, that was the original plan in Syria, until the intended, carefully prepared and positioned heir died in a car crash.

          41. Anonymous

            Syria seems largely like the Roman faux-magistracy. From Wikipedia:

            Having become the main source of initiative inside the Syrian government, Assad began looking for a successor. His first choice as successor was his brother Rifaat al-Assad, widely seen as corrupt. In 1983–84, when Hafez’s health was in doubt, Rifaat al-Assad attempted to seize power, claiming that his brother would not be fit to rule if he recovered. When Assad’s health did improve, Rifaat al-Assad was exiled from the country. His next choice of successor was his own son, Bassel al-Assad. However, things did not go according to plan, and in 1994 Bassel al-Assad died in a car accident. His third choice was his son Bashar al-Assad, who had by that time no practical political experience. This move was met with open criticism within some quarters of the Syrian ruling class, but Assad reacted by demoting several officials who opposed his succession plan. Assad died in 2000 and was succeeded by Bashar al-Assad as President and Syrian Regional Branch head.

            Seems like Dividualist’s idea, with the expected amount of squabbling due to no particular tradition of succession priority of one relative over another.

          42. Vox Imperatoris

            @ TheDividualist:

            Seriously, how can limited power be a stable equilibrium? What keeps it limited? Whatever limits power is in itself power, be that a constitutional court or pitchforks.

            What limits power? Ideology. The same thing that expands power.

            Why can’t the Supreme Court impose some kind of totalitarian dictatorship? Number one: they don’t want to. Number two: no one else wants them to, and they know this; so even if they did want to impose dictatorship, they know they would be stopped.

            It’s the same reason the military doesn’t knock over the government every time they get a president they don’t like. They have all the big guns; who would stop them? Answer: the other factions in the military, since any general who wanted to do such a thing exists in an environment where he knows most of the other generals don’t want to. And even if all the generals wanted to, the lower officers and the enlisted men don’t.

            I agree that the possibility of peaceful exit is good for freedom, but America (and most other countries) are far more free than the minimum implied by the possibility of exit. For one, national governments themselves voluntarily allow people to exit, where they could relatively easily stop it if they chose. They don’t because such a policy would be viciously opposed and could only be enforced by the most tyrannical governments. Which tend to fall without outside support, as they have no legitimacy.

            A major reason they lack legitimacy is ideology. When people believe in the divine right of kings or in the glorious future of communism, you can enforce it. But when they lose faith in that, you can’t.

            Now, if everyone, or the great bulk of the people, or even the great bulk of the intellectuals, wants power to expand, then it will. That is entirely consistent with the growth and shrinkage of power being determined by ideology.

            I’m not saying the structure of the government is not important at all, but it operates mainly as a Schelling fence on rapid ideological change.

          43. David Friedman

            ” I wouldn’t consider it unlikely for a king to nominate his own son, even if said son wasn’t actually very competent.”

            For a pretty clear example, consider Muawiya, the fifth caliph and the founder of the Umayyad dynasty. He named his much less competent son as his heir.

            And there was at least one case, I think one of the later Umayyads, where the Caliph left a sealed envelope naming his heir.

  52. Sigivald

    I view this as confirming my heuristic that “people who go on about ‘beta males’ can be safely disregarded as fools”.

    Which is not incredibly scientific, but has a pretty good success rate.

      1. Sigivald

        Easy.

        Before developing the heuristic, I paid more attention to them.

        (I still read the things they say in comments, because that’s how you find out they’re going on about beta males.

        Heuristic still going strong.)

    1. Elizabeth C.

      I saw a Jenny Holzer piece at a modern art museum. There was a tunnel that the viewer was supposed to enter, and inside the tunnel Jenny Holzer quotes were displayed on the wall with a slide projector. The quotes would change periodically and you were trapped inside the tunnel with the quotes. I think this would be the ideal setting for the display of these anti-Scott quotes.

  53. Brian

    I don’t know how you put up with this shit. Seriously. This makes me ask uncomfortable questions about humanity.

    1. Bugmaster

      I’m a little surprised to hear that, and to see how many people here share this sentiment.
      To my jaded eyes, these negative comments look pretty mild. I’m used to seeing wall-to-wall hate of the “go die in a fire” caliber, so reading negative comments that are actually on topic makes for a nice change.

      1. Vox Imperatoris

        They’re more disgusting because they are “on topic.” It’s one thing to say someone should just “go die in a fire”. It’s quite another to drag up specific incidents in his personal life and try to politicize them.

  54. Quite Likely

    So am I being prejudiced if my response to this is basically “fucking reactionaries man…”

    Is there a comparable list of nasty things said to you by your liberal or socialist readers? Or are reactionaries really just that much more dickish on a personal level?

    1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

      “Slate Star Codex: 20,000 words on ‘feminism is bad’ and ‘Tom Swifties are the funniest shit I’ve ever seen’”

      “it’s by a stuttering aspie with expertise in nothing at all”

      “his arguments only seem well-reasoned to people with NO knowledge of the subject matter (like him), and thus his main effect (just like that of his mentor, Eliezer Yudkowsky) is to keep smart people from learning things”

      “oh what an expert in psychiatry! he’s a fucking med student in IRELAND. not to mention he uses yudkowsky’s lingo and called Less Wrong “revelatory” or something like that. you are dealing with a 110 IQ reddit type in SSC.”

      “I’d always got a whiff of fedora from this guy, so I feel gratified in my judgment at seeing him come out as one.”

      “slatestarcodex is a great example of the difference between ‘knowing how to type’ and ‘knowing how to write’”

      “it’s basically a fish trap for aspies. people who can’t grasp nuance or understand basic human behavior, but are nonetheless obsessed with details and complex systems will inevitably gravitate toward this kind of horseshit. ultimately it’s a bunch of STEM-inclined dudes on the autism spectrum sitting around attempting to unpack societal problems like it was all a game of fucking sim city.”

      “a blog populated by 99th percentile aspergers/IQ “rationalist” millennials who converse in an abnormally abstract style, and whose concrete cultural experience is drawn mainly from a bunch of weird nerd shit.”

      “Its weird brand of reductionism and bizarre, arbitrary specificity plays to the types of spergy assholes and dumb know-it-all teenagers who don’t care about that anyway, or at least that’s how it seems to me. I mean, the ideas themselves seem like they’d be as much of a turn-off to regular people as their proponents’ personalities are, even if in a different way.”

      “Oh, hey, the King of the Race Realist Misogynist Libertarian Nerds has Clever Things to say about vaccination.”

      “yet another confirmation that: psychiatrists are crazier than their patients. polyamorous, diarrhea of the mouth/pen, math challenged, … i had no idea what an utter piece of shit you were.”

      I’m pretty sure most of these come from liberals/left wing people. You can find more “directly from the source” by looking around the usual suspects.

      1. Poi

        It’s depressing (and, sadly, accurate) that ‘insults based on mental illness/disability’ flag one as being of the left.

        1. arbitrary_greay

          Meanwhile, my corners of leftist Tumblr post rants about ableism (especially with regards to mental illness/disability) sufficiently often that I’ve had to withdraw from them to temper my irritation.

          1. birdboy2000

            Sometimes it’s the same people doing both. Hypocrisy is real and a significant portion of tumblr is founded on it.

      2. alexp

        To be honest, I mentally marked any Aspergers based insults as having a 50/50 change of coming from the left or right and anything that uses the word “sperg” as having a 70% chance of coming from the right.

        1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

          To me, the most dubious is this one:

          “a blog populated by 99th percentile aspergers/IQ “rationalist” millennials who converse in an abnormally abstract style, and whose concrete cultural experience is drawn mainly from a bunch of weird nerd shit.”

          Because even if it hits all the right notes, it’s very strange to have an acknowledgement that the object of criticism is actually intelligent.

          Of course, it could just be followed by “Further proof that IQ doesn’t mean shit”.

      3. Galle

        The “fedora” one doesn’t necessarily come from a leftist source. The fedora/neckbeard stereotype is used by both social justice activists AND far-right loonies

        1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

          While this is true, you have to consider both the rest of the quote and the context.

          As for the rest of the quote:
          “I’d always got a whiff of fnord (fnord is the right word for these things, right?) from this guy, so I feel gratified in my judgment at seeing him come out as one.”

          It’s basically denouncing him as a member of the outgroup that was trying to pass as a member of the ingroup, which is more common on the (internet) left than on the (internet) right.

          In regards of the context: /pol/ uses “fedora” to demean atheists (militant or otherwise), but it doesn’t make sense to say “I suspected he was a fedora” when Scott has never denied his atheism. Scott has, however, had a turbulent relationship with left/SJ people questioning his adherence to blue values for a pretty long time.

          Besides, at least in my experience, every time SSC has come up in /pol/, the reaction was pretty overwhelmingly positive. Take that as you will.

    2. Murphy

      they’re not all Reactionary comments.

      Try to guess which ones are which.

      Some are easy because keywords, some not so much.

    1. Vox Imperatoris

      Objectivist here:

      Scott Alexander is a whim-worshipping social metaphysician whose evasion of reality is so unparalleled that no life-loving, rational person should associate with him, nor with the “rationalist” movement and its perversion of rationality. He is a second-handed “mystic of muscle” who believes in existence without consciousness who denies the causal efficacy of man’s mind, the ultimate “Witch Doctor” paving the way for any “Attila” to come in and walk over piles of corpses in the name of fighting “Moloch”.

      His advocacy of “effective altruism” is remarkable in that he so readily acknowledges the self-destructive nature of that ideal. Yet he “salvages” it by combining it with a open, naked stance of amoralism: that “unprincipled exceptions” from morality are to be granted at your subjective whim.

      His psycho-epistemology is so destructive—but in theory and in practice—that anyone who attempts to follow it should expect to wreck his life in short order. As can be seen by his romantic history: to quote Rand, “Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life.” And anyone who follows him will have deserved destruction, too, for willingly walking into such a cesspool of intellectual filth.

      [Okay, I sincerely am an Objectivist, but I do like Scott. I tried to write what the most dogmatic kind of Objectivist would write, loading it with as many buzzwords as possible.]

      1. ADifferentAnonymous

        Nah, didn’t read like sincere Objectivist criticism to me–they’re real buzzwords, but they read as buzzwords for the sake of buzzwords (what’s second-handed about Scott?). Also I’d guess most Objectivists would see some positive in Scott.

        Let me try:

        Of Rand’s characters, Scott most resembles Hank Rearden at the beginning of Atlas Shrugged: capable, productive, and intelligent, but compromised by acceptance of moocher values–at what he believes to be his own expense, not realizing what he betrays by being a sanctioning victim.

        The key premise leading him astray is *charity*–the assumption that all others are somehow unconditionally deserving, and none are thoroughly corrupt. This fuels both his economics–manifesting quite straightforwardly in his support for UBI–and also his constant concessions to imaginary harms.

        [Status: Insincere criticism but honest steelman effort, by former Objectivist retaining some sympathy for that philosophy.]

        1. Vox Imperatoris

          Well, that’s what I would say for real. 🙂

          Sincere or not, I would say that you’re right that there is more that a little bit of the sanction of the victim in Scott, especially as a medical professional.

          The idea that people are unconditionally deserving also plays a major role. Though i think Scott is absolutely right, in contrast to Rand, in downplaying the extent to which people are “thoroughly corrupt”. Rand could really exaggerate that—and it was a very negative, harmful tendency. The idea that no one is corrupt at all goes too far in the other direction, however.

          This is basically the ARI/TAS split: one side thinks intellectual charity and toleration should be extended to almost no one—because if you systematically disagree with Objectivism, you’re ipso facto a corrupt SOB. The other side says toleration should be extended to a wide array of people and that honest error is extremely common, but that you still shouldn’t let yourself be turned into a doormat (or played like a damn fiddle!) in the face of blatant dishonesty.

          From what I’ve already said here, it should be clear that I agree with the latter.

  55. Error

    ultimately it’s a bunch of STEM-inclined dudes on the autism spectrum sitting around attempting to unpack societal problems like it was all a game of fucking sim city.

    So, wait, this is…bad?

    1. John Nerst

      Yes. Of course it’s bad. Seeing society like Sim City means you’re dispassionate about it and treat fixing problems with it as a game and not a moral struggle against the Forces of Evil.

      The proper response to social problems and injustice is moral outrage and empathy for the downtrodden. If you can be dispassionate it means you’re defective in that department and you don’t care about people, your heart is not in the right place. And that is what is most important, the worldview this kind of opinion comes from isn’t consequentialist but virtue ethical – your moral qualities are dependent on feeling the right way.

      I suspect it also lacks a proper division between virtue ethics and consequentialism, i.e. good consequences are the result of virtue and bad consequences are the result of moral failures. The way to combat social problems is therefore not to try to understand and manipulate the system (the engineering approach) but to fight moral failings (“greed”, “racism”, “oppression” etc. ) and those who support them.

      Seeing society as a complex system means you don’t get it and lack the moral sense all good people have. Being Good is not achieving good outcomes (consequentialism) but Fighting Evil!

      I also suspect a lot of the “privilege” talk (when used as a weapon) is really about this: “You can only be rational and dispassionate about something if you don’t have strong feelings about it, and strong feelings are required to muster the proper will and committment (will solves things, not competence, because problems aren’t complex – just fight evil). To have the requisite strong feelings, you must have experience of oppression yourself. -> You’re being rational, so shut up.”

      This is fundamental fault line – seeing passion as a virtue vs. cool-headedness.

      1. Nita

        The way to combat social problems is therefore not to try to understand and manipulate the system (the engineering approach) but to fight moral failings (“greed”, “racism”, “oppression” etc. )

        “Oppression” is definitely a system thing, not an individual moral failing. Hence people calling for “systemic change”. But humans do fall into virtue ethics at every opportunity, of course.

        “You can only be rational and dispassionate about something if you don’t have strong feelings about it”

        Well… There is some truth to that. E.g., Scott can be dispassionate about racism, but not so much about anti-nerd sentiment. And obviously Scott tries much harder to be rational and fair than most people.

        Another aspect of “it’s all a game to them” is that, while playing games, we often suspend moral judgment entirely. The objective is to win, and game characters, or even entire nations, can easily be sacrificed to gain a higher score.

        Similarly, SSC commenters may suggest “solutions” like re-colonizing Africa or compelling women to produce more children by some coercive means. The possible mindset behind such ideas could be “it’s like a game”, “it’s a terrible but necessary sacrifice”, and “outgroup people aren’t people”, out of which “it’s like a game” is of medium charity.

        1. suntzuanime

          There is some truth to the idea that dispassionate rationality is opposed to strong feelings, but I think what John Nerst was objecting to was the idea that when the chips are down, it’s more important to feel strongly about important issues than to be rational about them.

          1. Nita

            I agree that this idea can be seen “in the wild”, but it’s neither an inherent part of the SJ belief system, nor necessarily the motivation behind the comment John analyzed.

            So sure, we can talk about this unhelpful idea, but we there’s no evidence that it’s what the SSC critic was thinking.

          2. John Nerst

            @Nita

            Of course it’s not a certainty when I extrapolate thought from a single comment, I mostly used it as a seed for speculation.

            It does seem you agree with me that the opinion expressed is something like “they talk about people’s lives as if they were an engineering problem, and that’s terrible”.

            I guess we have different ideas of exactly why one would see it as terrible. I see it as mistakenly assuming that you need strong moral feelings towards issues “on the ground” to be effective in doing good, or just not properly separating the two at all.

            I gather you see it more like a standard criticism against utilitarianism? “If you’re trying to optimise some number you don’t care about people, and I might be sacrificed next.”

            Personally I don’t think an engineering approach to problems necessitates utilitarianism at all. I’m not really one.

          3. Nita

            I gather you see it more like a standard criticism against utilitarianism?

            Not quite. I’m thinking / guessing along these lines:

            First off, “a game of fucking sim city” (in that tone) doesn’t map to “an engineering problem” in my mind. It maps to “a form of entertainment that is obviously not a suitable tool for modeling and solving real large-scale problems”.

            Secondly, the average engineer or utilitarian tends to have more regard for human beings than the average player has for the imaginary inhabitants of their games, which leads to more care in considering solutions.

            And thirdly, “engineering” implies total control of the system, which can be seen as simply an unrealistic assumption that will render proposed solutions worthless, and/or a sort of arrogance — seeing yourself as someone who should be put in charge of single-handedly rearranging society.

        2. John Nerst

          “Oppression” is definitely a system thing, not an individual moral failing. Hence people calling for “systemic change”.

          By system I mean it more like “mathematical” rather than “moral, social, idea-based”. And while things like “oppression” is spoken of as not a moral failing, not fighting it or disagreeing with the ideas describing it is certainly treated as such.

          I also think ideas like “racism” and “oppression” are mentally processed, albeit subconsciously, as if they were moral entities that should be fought, not like an emergent phenomenon (like friction) that should be engineered away when desirable. The moral failing as an independent entity, “infecting” people who then must be fought. That also comes with the idea that it can be destroyed, unlike friction, which can only be circumvented. The solution is still a type of fighting, not a type of engineering.

          Well… There is some truth to that. E.g., Scott can be dispassionate about racism, but not so much about anti-nerd sentiment. And obviously Scott tries much harder to be rational and fair than most people.

          Oh, certainly. I didn’t mean to say that part isn’t mostly true. I just think the take-home message of that actually is the opposite: you can only make good decisions about things you don’t have too strong feelings about yourself. That doesn’t mean you should be careless – you should care about making good decisions, but that’s different. I guess I do think it more likely that Scott would make good decisions about racism than anti-nerdism.

          Another aspect of “it’s all a game to them” is that, while playing games, we often suspend moral judgment entirely. The objective is to win, and game characters, or even entire nations, can easily be sacrificed to gain a higher score.

          It can certainly seem that way, but this changes if the “win condition” is to satisfy moral principles as well as possible. Not an obvious point, though.

          The last paragraph brings up things that are pretty extreme and, I trust, not supported by the vast majority here (sounds like something likely to come from people who are now banned). Of course non-central examples are commonly used to tar an entire category so it wouldn’t be surprising if such things were indeed seen as typical.

          1. Nita

            By system I mean it more like “mathematical” rather than “moral, social, idea-based”.

            Well, that’s an interesting dichotomy. Society is clearly not a mathematical object, IMO, although it is a system. And there’s a reason why physics is the poster child of the Power of Science, while social sciences are the epistemological quagmire we all love to hate — our tools are adequate for physics, but not yet for complex systems like societies.

            I also think ideas like “racism” and “oppression” are mentally processed, albeit subconsciously, as if they were moral entities that should be fought

            True. Animism is one of the oldest belief systems, after all 🙂

            I just think the take-home message of that actually is the opposite: you can only make good decisions about things you don’t have too strong feelings about yourself.

            On one hand, that’s certainly a sensible idea. But on the other…

            Imagine that we’re planning a referendum on the following proposed law:

            “A father shall immediately put to death a son recently born, who is a monster, or has a form different from that of members of the human race.”

            (courtesy of Ancient Rome)

            Predictably, many people born with anatomical abnormalities have strong negative feelings about this. Should they be forbidden from voting in the referendum, due to being so biased?

          2. John Nerst

            I’ll just gather my response in one post, it’ll be easier.

            First off, “a game of fucking sim city” (in that tone) doesn’t map to “an engineering problem” in my mind. It maps to “a form of entertainment that is obviously not a suitable tool for modeling and solving real large-scale problems”.

            Winning a game is not unlike an engineering problem, at least a solo-game like SC. The difference between it and society is largely a matter of degree, not kind, although I expect most “normal” people to disagree with that. That’s why I think “perceive goodness through empathy (left) or common sense (right) and then support goodness and fight badness” is most people’s intuitive (not explicit) model. I also expect people to distrust a more detached approach since it’s not clear whose side you’re on. Rationality is dangerous.

            our tools are adequate for physics, but not yet for complex systems like societies.

            Kind of, they do work for complex systems, like biological organisms and computers. The reason society is more difficult isn’t so much ontological as practical and ethical. The necessary experiments can’t be done not because they are impossible but because they are too expensive, time-consuming and unethical.

            And thirdly, “engineering” implies total control of the system, which can be seen as simply an unrealistic assumption that will render proposed solutions worthless, and/or a sort of arrogance — seeing yourself as someone who should be put in charge of single-handedly rearranging society.

            I wish engineering meant total control of the system, it would make my job easier. But yeah, absolutely, I think that’s what makes most engineering types dislike politics and rarely take part in it directly (I’ve got a post somewhat related to this in the pipeline, needs an editing run, though), politics is discouraged on LW, after all. Maybe critics of this place mistake idle speculation mostly done for fun for serious political proposals? I do remember a friend of mine treating the idea of discussing things for fun as idiotic.

            Predictably, many people born with anatomical abnormalities have strong negative feelings about this. Should they be forbidden from voting in the referendum, due to being so biased?

            I assume the romans thought these children posed some kind of danger? What one should do is of course find out if that is actually true, and if it is try to mitigate the situation the best way you can, by quarantine, insurance, whatever. (One thing I do like to fight is hypotheticals…)

            This has to do with rights, which I see as hard rules imposed by broad consensus exactly to avoid the worst drawbacks of naive utilitarianism. We do have a broad consensus that we don’t kill innocent children, and it’s very rational to have this as a hard rule.

            Let’s instead assume that a minority existed, A, who couldn’t coexist with another minority B (because A are allergic to B:s sweat or something) and were constantly fighting about who should make what concessions when. If one person were to make the rules regarding this, should it be an A, a B or someone not in either group?

          3. Nita

            Winning a game is not unlike an engineering problem, at least a solo-game like SC.

            I believe you, but we’re doing text interpretation here. We’re trying to guess what the original author meant, not what you would have meant if you had said it.

            The reason society is more difficult isn’t so much ontological as practical and ethical.

            And also, perhaps, because it’s populated by a huge number of intelligent agents and groups, all working hard to game any system you set up and shift the outcome in their own favour?

            Maybe critics of this place mistake idle speculation mostly done for fun for serious political proposals? I do remember a friend of mine treating the idea of discussing things for fun as idiotic.

            Two things:

            1. Some of the people here are 100% serious — e.g., I doubt David Friedman would have bothered writing a whole book on his favoured political system just for fun.

            2. Yes, a popular view is that the fun mode of conversation consists of reinforcing each other’s opinions, and prolonged disagreement is a failure mode (that’s why you only discuss safe subjects like the weather with strangers, to avoid accidentally calling them wrong).

            Let’s instead assume that a minority existed, A, who couldn’t coexist with another minority B

            That’s not equivalent to my hypothetical. I meant to bring up the (very common!) situation when we can either impose a small cost on the majority, or a large cost on a minority. Since the potential loss for the minority is larger, they will tend to express stronger feelings. But if we exclude them from decision-making on those grounds, we will (IMO, unfairly) privilege the majority.

          4. John Schilling

            Winning a game is not unlike an engineering problem, at least a solo-game like SC. The difference between it and society is largely a matter of degree, not kind, although I expect most “normal” people to disagree with that.

            Wouldn’t there be a pretty big difference in kind from the fact that society at large is a very non-solo game?

            I read “like it was a game of fucking sim city” as implicitly followed with “…instead of a proper game like football”.

            To society at large, that’s how the game of society is supposed to be played. By teams, with a coach, a star quarterback(*), players who do what they are told, legions of fans, and cheerleaders to make everybody suitably enthusiastic about the fact that we are Defeating the Other Team that is Wrong. Having some nerd do a bit of analysis on a spreadsheet he’s running on the side and saying “Huh, look at that, the problem we were struggling over just went away”, sucks the life and the spirit out of the whole process.

            And leaves most people feeling that they don’t have anything useful to contribute. Even if that turns out to be objectively true, they won’t embrace their new role as Sims when they would at least be Fans if we were playing the right game.

            *OK, “star forward” for you fans of the Other Sort of Football. You all still need to work on the “cheerleaders” aspect – or maybe, given the demonstrated enthusiasm of some of your fans already, it’s best that you don’t.

          5. John Nerst

            And also, perhaps, because it’s populated by a huge number of intelligent agents and groups, all working hard to game any system you set up and shift the outcome in their own favour?

            Sure, that’s part of what you’re trying to study. I don’t see it as changing much in principle.

            1. Some of the people here are 100% serious — e.g., I doubt David Friedman would have bothered writing a whole book on his favoured political system just for fun.

            I don’t know enough about David Friedman in particular to know what he does, but what I mean is that if you really want to change politics for extrinsic reasons rather than intrinsic interest, you become a politician or an activist, not a political theorist. Just because you mean something doesn’t mean you necessarily pursue it actively.

            2. Yes, a popular view is that the fun mode of conversation consists of reinforcing each other’s opinions, and prolonged disagreement is a failure mode (that’s why you only discuss safe subjects like the weather with strangers, to avoid accidentally calling them wrong).

            Completely agree, and that probably leads to overestimating the seriousness of what people say. I like picking things apart, but when I do so people naturally think I do it because I want to push an agenda – that arguments are always a reflection of material conflict. Seems like Scott does the same, leading to him being construed as both an SJW and a right-winger at once.

            That’s not equivalent to my hypothetical. I meant to bring up the (very common!) situation when we can either impose a small cost on the majority, or a large cost on a minority. Since the potential loss for the minority is larger, they will tend to express stronger feelings. But if we exclude them from decision-making on those grounds, we will (IMO, unfairly) privilege the majority.

            No it’s not equivalent, because what I was talking about wasn’t so much that kind of situation, so a I substituted one more suited to explaining it.

            You’re talking about voting, which is different from rational decision-making. When one person is making the decision, they need to take everyone’s needs, as well as the facts (this is important, since strong emotions is likely to make it more difficult to rationally evaluate how things actually are) into account.

            Consider it like this then: when setting the speed limits on all the roads in a country, who should do it? Someone who has lost their family in a car accident and therefore will overvalue safety over convenience compared to most others, or someone who hasn’t ever been close to danger in a car, and therefore vill overvalue convenience over safety? My answer is someone who doesn’t have strong feelings on the matter themselves but takes care to consider everyone’s interests.

            Wouldn’t there be a pretty big difference in kind from the fact that society at large is a very non-solo game?

            That really depends on your outlook. I don’t see it that way, and I think it’s destructive to do so. For someone trying to shape the rules of society, seeing it as a solo game with the goal of maximising people’s well-being is essential. Treating is as a game where your main objective is to beat the other players is very bad and leads to a lot of shit. I want politicians to play Sim City, not Risk.

            For the rest of your post, I agree completely. Football vs. SIm City is a great illustration of the different between fighting and engineering. Fighting is more engaging, but that’s really unfortunate.

          6. David Friedman

            “if you really want to change politics for extrinsic reasons rather than intrinsic interest, you become a politician or an activist, not a political theorist.”

            Adam Smith. Karl Marx. Keynes. Milton Friedman. Ronald Coase.

            To take the last, with whom many readers may not be familiar. When he wrote an article arguing that the radio spectrum, like other scarce goods, should be allocated through the market, it was an obviously crazy idea. It’s now, in an imperfect form, government policy.

            For a smaller example, but one that has affected most of us. Airlines used to deal with overbooking by failing to carry whichever passengers were last in line, compensating them with (I think) a refund and a free ticket on the next flight. Julian Simon pointed out that that was an inefficient solution, since the cost to some passengers of switching to the next flight was negligible, to others large.

            He eventually persuaded the airlines that, when they overbooked, they should run an auction–offer to pay whoever was willing to accept their offer to give up his place. That’s now how they do it.

            And, while it’s hard to prove, my guess is that the population hysteria of the 1960’s did less damage than it might have because Julian Simon was willing to stand out against it.

        3. Emile

          Another aspect of “it’s all a game to them” is that, while playing games, we often suspend moral judgment entirely. The objective is to win, and game characters, or even entire nations, can easily be sacrificed to gain a higher score.

          Similarly, SSC commenters may suggest “solutions” like re-colonizing Africa or compelling women to produce more children by some coercive means. The possible mindset behind such ideas could be “it’s like a game”, “it’s a terrible but necessary sacrifice”, and “outgroup people aren’t people”, out of which “it’s like a game” is of medium charity.

          That’s a good enough steelmanning of the “fucking game of sim city”, thanks.

          (I wonder if the author of the original comment will read this, and stare at all these nerds debating over a dismissive one-liner he wrote months ago)

          1. John Nerst

            I wonder if the author of the original comment will read this, and stare at all these nerds debating over a dismissive one-liner he wrote months ago.

            Quote dissection is fun!

      2. TheDividualist

        >The proper response to social problems and injustice is moral outrage and empathy for the downtrodden.

        I.e. signalling goodness either for status gains or as a balm for a wounded self-esteem. Outrage as a subset of moralism is uniquely well suited for this. Outrage is moralising LOUD, ensuring a lot of people hear it. It’s always about the person, not the issue. It is probably an outgrowth of the highly pietist, highly Holy Joe type subsets of American religion because the whole concept is somewhat alien from Europe, at least from the periods before much American influence, i.e. before 1950 or so.

        1. Nita

          Moral outrage and empathy for the downtrodden is alien to Europe? Are we talking about the same Europe here? The one where worshipping some guy named Jesus, a frequently-outraged defender of the downtrodden, used to be mandatory?

          1. John Schilling

            I believe European cultural values have changed just a tad from the time that worshiping Jesus was mandatory.

            Not to the extent that moral outrage and/or empathy for the downtrodden are present alien to the continent, but I’d want to ask, exactly which downtrodden and who is the target of the postulated outrage.

      3. Anonymous

        Your blog says you’re not down with manipulative narratives. But that is what you’ve given us. Why are you trying to pin anti-progressive, anti-governement, anti-intellectualism on the SJWs when we all know its a reactionary shibboleth; that central planners, meddlers and nannies, want to control your every move.

        1. John Nerst

          True, but you can’t escape narratives completely (unless by a mathematical model) , and you can’t escape narratives being a little bit manipulative.

          My last post was an attempt to reconstruct a narrative I don’t hold relatively fairly (I didn’t mean it as mean-spirited, even though it can come across that way), but with some extra rhetoric on top – sometimes we all sin.

          EDIT: When I wrote the above, your comment only said “Your blog says you’re not down with manipulative narratives.” Looking at what you wrote after that, I’m not really sure what you’re talking about, and what it has to do with me.

      4. Maware

        Seeing society like Sim City means seeing society through a lens so false that it would make any attempt you had to try and help it fail. It’s not passion, it’s taking a mental simulcra as the real thing. Doesn’t matter about passion or dispassion, but the fact that you are remote from the actual thing you are trying to talk about or solve.

        1. John Nerst

          I guess it’s a matter of disagreement exactly how false it is. All our models of things in reality are mental simulacra of sorts, you should just try to make sure yours is a good as it can be, by integrating different sources of information and theory that are as abstracted as generalized as possible, rather than privileging your own personal experience. But this is the point of contention, I imagine.

    1. John Schilling

      By literal definition, if your wife sleeps with another man you are a cuckold. In a society that either disallows formal polygamy or devalues marriage, it is understandable to extend that to “if you let your girlfriend sleep with another man you are a cuckold”

      I believe that the mental models of polyamory where this applies are, A: woman who likes to sleep around, with a harem of low-status men who will settle for a fraction of a woman because they know they can’t keep the attention of a whole one, and B: high-status alpha male who can keep a harem’s worth of women and doesn’t mind “sharing” them with a bunch of low-status men because they might as well be eunuchs for all they are going to be actually doing with said women. Neither of these mental models is entirely accurate as applied to real polyamory, but Scott describing himself as both polyamorous and asexual sort of matches to ‘B’ if someone wants to deploy “cuckold” as an insult.

      1. Helldalgo

        I suppose, but it doesn’t seem like it’s an insult that could possibly carry weight with a self-described polyamorous individual. Regardless of their level of sexual desire.

        I also don’t know if models based on power dynamics are as universally applicable as some people think they are.

        1. John Schilling

          It doesn’t matter if the insult carries weight with the target, so long as it carries weight with the audience.

          And yes, I can see how “If any of Scott Alexander rubs off on you, you might wind up as a eunuch that women use for emotional security while going off to have actual sex with other men” would have that effect on some audiences. Probably not so much with rationalist types who would at least think about whether any of that is actually true [hint:no], but Scott’s audience and influence is no longer confined to rationalist or rationalist-adjacent circles.

          I find myself uninterested in tracking down the source of the cuck-based insults and trying to figure out what audience their creators were going for.

          1. Nornagest

            The rise of “cuck” as an insult is one of the weirder things about politics lately. Two years ago I only ever saw it when I ran into, er, special-interest blogs on Tumblr.

          2. E. Harding

            The origin of the “cuck” insult was at therightstuff.biz and My Posting Career. I was there to see it take off. The audience the creators were going for were those despising Jew-created degeneracy in the media and enemies of Jeb Bush’s immigration policies (also, his Mexican wife).

            Urstoff is being too broad. Yes, some Trump voters. But exclusively Trump supporters.

          3. Anon

            The modern political usage of cuck originated on 4chan/pol/. TRS, at least, was much later, and MPC was following 4chan’s lead.

          4. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

            If I recall correctly, it surged in use when people where mad at moot for banning GG talk, it was a reference to his (lack of a) relationship with Mallory Blair.

          5. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

            The thing is that a lot of this insults aren’t really “to his face”, most obviously the ones that are not adressed by him and clearly not from this comment section.

          6. Deiseach

            Insulting an asexual for not having sex is rather like insulting total abstainers for not getting drunk on Friday nights – that’s rather the point of the whole thing.

            But really, when anyone uses “cuck”, it makes me deduct a large chunk of value from both their IQ and their age.

          7. onyomi

            I think at least part of the deeper origin of this “cuck” thing, at least among the people likely to read SSC, is the fact that the breakdown of patriarchy means that men are no longer selected as mating material for their background, education, money/perceived ability to make money, and intelligence, at least not the extent that they were in, say, the 19th c. US and Britain. Not that these things don’t matter, but when women can either have their own career or rely on the state for support, there is less reason to choose a man for his ability to support. So they are more likely to choose sexy outlaw bikers over nerdy computer programmers, at least on the margins.

            This dynamic, I think, is almost entirely encapsulated here, though that is not at all what people posting it expect to be the takeaway, I’m sure:
            https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CX6sYVhUoAEA7SC.png

            This may not entirely be a bad thing–why should women have to pick men they find unattractive in order to avoid starving? But at the same time, I think this is why the nerds are, to some extent, up in arms, and one reaction to this is to try to be more stereotypically masculine at the same time as they paradoxically hate on women who have desire sex with stereotypically masculine men.

            I think this relates to the Trump voter thing: ridiculous as his antics may be, Trump is a very “masculine” personality for a politician. He doesn’t ask politely for what he wants, he grabs it.

            To those inclined toward this way of thinking, asexual, nuanced Scott may seem a symptom of some broader emasculation of “the Western man,” I imagine.

          8. onyomi

            “Where’s the paradox?”

            The paradox of wanting to become more like the type of man you don’t want women to like?

          9. E. Harding

            “The paradox of wanting to become more like the type of man you don’t want women to like?”

            -This is a classic example of a non-excludable good. Nothing paradoxical about that.

          10. Brad (the other one)

            >The paradox of wanting to become more like the type of man you don’t want women to like?

            There is nothing paradoxical about it, pragmatically speaking: they want to have sex, sex partners are a limited resource; the hypothetical ‘nerd’ in this discussion wants more sex, and, perceiving both other competitive (‘attractive’) males and the females who desire them, as both complicit in their failure to be a sex partner to themselves, has resent to both, even, while seeking to emulate the former so as to attain the latter.

            What a mouthful: more simply, they hate the player and not the game.

          11. onyomi

            I’m saying that they want to become better players at a game they hate, which seems paradoxical to me, though I’m not especially invested in defining it as such.

          12. John Schilling

            *just realized that people insult individuals to their face for reasons other than making the individual upset*

            The bit where, when someone insults you, you used to slap them with a glove and insist on pistols at dawn, isn’t because you were upset with them. It’s because you understand that a big chunk of status has just been transferred from you to them in a way that is going to make your life genuinely difficult going forward unless you get it back. And the bit where you didn’t have to do the pistols-at-dawn bit if you were a noble and they a peasant isn’t because a peasant’s insults can’t be upsetting, but because they can’t lay a claim on your status.

            We do things differently now. Maybe that’s an improvement.

    2. Randy M

      Most insults come from the giver’s value system, rather than the receivers. It’s simpler and avoids insulting yourself and your allies, I assume.

      1. Anonymous

        We’re all shmucks in someone’s value system.

        Anyway, conservatives must choose: Cucks or Shmucks.

    3. Maware

      Women have all the power on polyamory, for the most part. There are two types of polyamorous men, the exciting guy, and the provider guy. The provider guy is more or less same as a cuckold, often coerced into polyamory because the woman gets tired of him sexually but likes their house, emotional stability, lifestyle, etc. Since men in general find it harder to get women, it tends to be asymmetrical. This can be reversed if the man is high status enough, but is rarer. So essentially the guy is made to accept the woman cheating on him in the guise of polyamory. It’s a self-delusion due to asymmetric power.

      1. Alex

        Yeah. On the other hand, if you are the “exciting guy” yourself, which I suppose is the self-image of the self-declared “alphas” you have no incentive to discredit polya and / or the “provider guy”. On the contrary, you could be thankful for the other guy providing services that would only cost you but to no benefit. So what the hell is going on here?

        1. HlynkaCG

          Simplest answer is probably that a lot of guys who like to paint themselves as “alpha” aren’t, or are at least insecure about it and aware that they could potentially end up holding the “beta” end of the stick.

          As a socially conservative sort, I’d echo the reasons that Maware cited above and because I think it erodes public trust.

        2. Maware

          The exciting guy has little power either. He is replaced by another when the woman gets tired of him. Probably its because all the power is centered on the woman, which is why said alphas don’t like polyamory.

        3. Dr Dealgood

          Most of the guys I knew who got into PUA, from the Mystery era till now, were nice guys first. I mean that in both the Nice GuyTM and ‘he’s a mensch’ senses of the phrase. If offered a choice they would have settled down with a high school sweetheart and been a reliable (if boring) husband. But that wasn’t in the cards, so they adapted as best they could to the new order.

          So I can see them being angry that the same crappy situation that they were reacting to is getting crappier, even while they’re playing their role in accelerating it.

        1. Reader

          Nuance is for beta cuckold orbitor faggots, bro.

          Something something signaling status ancestral environment alpha!

        2. arbitrary_greay

          Not the least of which includes all of the non-straights that would happily muddle up the dynamics in Maware’s description.

          1. Maware

            Non-straights have same power issues. It’s human nature, and it doesn’t go away if you are same sex attracted. You still have the promiscuous one and the captive one/house husband, and it still hurts as much when the one with the power abuses the partner with less.

          2. dndnrsn

            @Maware:

            This is more true of male-male relationships than female-female. What statistics I’ve seen have male-male relationships breaking down into one earning more money and the other doing more chores. In comparison, female-female relationships divide chores much more evenly. Women (regardless of sexuality) also seem to care a lot more that potential partners have similar levels of education and earning.

          3. Helldalgo

            @Maware

            In my experience, which is admittedly limited, I see power fluctuating a lot between partners. It’s also a) not the only axis by which relationships function, b) the only thing at play when someone is hurt, or c) always present when someone gets hurt.

            Even if I wanted to evaluate relationship dynamics through power alone, it’s complex enough that I am uncomfortable saying “Women always have the power in relationships of type X” or the equivalent for any other form.

        3. Maware

          I’m not sure. They may not think they do, but usually when something happens the power models get revealed quite quickly. Usually when someone gets jealous or feels neglected.

  56. keranih

    Part of me feels like I should have a sympathy cringe for watching people say things about Scott/SSC that they intend to hurt. Another part feels like I should try to take some of the comments to heart, as if they were legit critiques.

    Mostly, though, I’m just lmao and trying to not fall out of the chair.

  57. onyomi

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-fallible-mind/201601/why-ted-cruz-s-facial-expression-makes-me-uneasy

    Actually related (at least in my mind), I swear:

    This article describes how many people have a visceral dislike of Ted Cruz beyond what any of his actual actions or positions would warrant, basically because he has a weird face.

    I have actually heard people irl express this opinion: “I don’t know, I just hate that guy–he has such a punchable face.”

    Apparently his former roommate now has a significant Twitter following where he says nasty things about Cruz in a way that is supposed to be funny. But the thing is, when I read his anecdotes about Cruz in college, it basically sounds like everyone is being cruel to him for no particularly good reason. They all just viscerally hate him, but little is mentioned to explain why he actually deserved it.

    What I’m trying to do here, actually, is defend Ted Cruz: in theory, at least, I think most of us recognize that physiognomy is pseudoscience–you can’t tell much of anything about a person’s character by looking at the shape of their face. But it’s also instructive to consider why physiognomy appears independently in many world cultures: because people have a very strong intuitive sense that they can, in fact, judge a person’s character by his face.

    I’m not talking about body language–to some extent I think one can intuit real information about a person’s state of mind, level of confidence, degree of openness or hostility on the basis of body language and, of course, overt facial expressions.

    I’m talking about the kind of thing which makes it very possible for person a’s genuine smile to be interpreted as welcoming and person b’s genuine smile to be interpreted as unsettling, even though person a may be a psychopath and person b may just be born with a weird face.

    Although I’m sure the average SSC reader is less inclined to make this error than the general public, I think this is something people should be more aware of in general.

    Oh, and the relation to the topic, if it wasn’t clear, is that I feel like many of the above comments boil down to “Scott and many of his commenters just seem eminently punchable” (even if they are basing that more on an appraisal of tone and writing style than having actually seen his face).

    And I think it also has to do with a certain hostility people feel toward logical analysis of things like social dynamics: if you can logically break down why some people are “punchable” and others just “seem normal,” then you are potentially undermining the evolutionary mechanism the tribe uses to weed out bad stock–ostracism of the weirdos.

    1. God Damn John Jay

      Also, holy shit, his roomate was Craig Mazin from Scriptnotes? Are there only like a handfull of moderately famous people who all know one another?

    2. alexp

      I’m no fan of Cruz, but I do sympathize with him partially. I have several good friends from college who were similarly hated by their classmates.

      I do understand why a lot of people don’t like them, though I think it’s unfair, and what I have read about Cruz makes him seem like he would be insufferable.

    3. E. Harding

      I dislike Ted Cruz because of this:

      http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/ted-cruzs-iowa-mailers-are-more-fraudulent-than-everyone-thinks
      and this
      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/18/us/politics/ted-cruz-wife-campaign.html
      and this
      https://theintercept.com/2016/02/05/ted-cruzs-promise-that-big-donors-will-match-campaign-donations-could-break-rules/
      and this
      http://www.politifact.com/new-hampshire/statements/2016/feb/07/marco-rubio/rubio-attacks-cruz-role-lawsuit-defending-chinese-/
      and this
      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/06/ted-cruz/ted-cruz-falsely-says-cnn-first-said-ben-carson-wa/
      and this
      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jan/15/ted-cruz/gop-debate-cruz-says-he-voted-rubio-defense-spendi/

      His actions speak louder than his face. And his actions state there is literally nothing this man won’t stoop to. Also, he’s Princeton-educated, yet, is still about as dishonest as Trump. His 95% incoherent foreign, tax, and monetary policy is also a major turn-off for me. Trump’s, compared to the rest of the GOP, is a massive turn-on.

      “What I’m trying to do here, actually, is defend Ted Cruz: in theory, at least, I think most of us recognize that physiognomy is pseudoscience–you can’t tell much of anything about a person’s character by looking at the shape of their face.”

      -[citation needed]. I suspect this, like IQ tests being culturally biased, may be just another evidence-free product of the left-of-center memeplex.

      1. onyomi

        This is really not relevant, because I never said there weren’t good reasons to dislike Ted Cruz–just that his face isn’t one of them.

        As for the legitimacy of physiognomy… I think it’s pretty clear from my other posts that I’m no defender of any “left-of-center memeplex,” but it is not taken seriously by any part of the political spectrum. Do you honestly mean you can tell me things about a person’s character based solely on the shapes of his facial features? Next you’ll be defending phrenology?

        1. honestlymellowstarlight

          Steelmanning this into a glib comeback, sure facial features matter, or else acting would be totally different. File this under “body language is extremely underrated”.

          1. onyomi

            I mean, I’m not saying facial features don’t matter–rather quite the opposite. It’s well known that handsome/pretty people, as well as tall people are generally judged to be more competent. And, of course, there are many actors who always get type-cast basically because they look like what a villain or a nice guy is “supposed” to look like. When deciding who to have sex with or play your lead character, then by all means, let the shape of their face or their height be a decisive factor; when picking a surgeon, or, say, a president, probably not such a good idea.

        2. E. Harding

          “This is really not relevant, because I never said there weren’t good reasons to dislike Ted Cruz–just that his face isn’t one of them.”

          -Agreed.

          Do you have any studies showing people to be unable to predict personal characteristics based on a simple glance at people’s faces?

          1. Anonymous

            “I never said there weren’t good reasons to dislike Ted Cruz”

            You: “it basically sounds like everyone is being cruel to him for no particularly good reason.”

            You could claim you never said there were no “pretty good reasons”, only that were no “particularly good reasons”.

          2. David Friedman

            “Being cruel to him for no good reason” does not imply that there are no good reasons to be cruel to him, only that, if there are, they are not the motive for the cruelty.

          3. Anonymous

            I always assume, when someone is vocally defending a candidate, they’re neither friendly nor open to speculation that other, secretive reasons may exist to be cruel to the person.

        3. David Friedman

          I can’t tell things by the physiognomy, but you can tell quite a lot by facial expressions, although I seem to be worse at it than average.

          So you might interpret the behavior you are attacking as an error due to a correct policy. Certain facial expressions usually mean “I don’t like you.” Some people, unfortunately, have a physiognomy that mimics such expressions even when that isn’t what they are feeling. Other people, naturally enough, read the appearance as reflecting the feelings and dislike people who they think dislike them.

          Obviously that’s only one example of what might be happening.

          1. onyomi

            This seems a pretty plausible explanation for the phenomenon: movements of facial muscles do, indeed, tend to communicate some amount of genuine information, at least about mood, if not moral fibre: even babies known intuitively that bared teeth look threatening, upturned mouth with narrowed eyes indicates good will, downturned mouth with furrowed brow indicates distress/sadness, etc. etc.

            But some people are just born looking more furrowed or smiley or frowny than average, and so probably are easily mistaken for actually having say, a cheerful personality if their facial structure naturally resembles a happy face, say.

            It could be that Ted Cruz’s face causes people to dislike him because he is actually always thinking mean and nasty things and this is reflected in his facial movements. More likely, I imagine, even if assume Cruz is not a moral paragon, is that his skull and facial muscles just happen to be of a shape which people find subtly offputting, maybe because they create expressions which, in a more average-looking person, would indicate something bad.

            I mentioned that baring the teeth is seen as threatening–so imagine someone whose lips and teeth and facial muscles are such that the teeth are prominent, and easily, frequently revealed, even when the person is not feeling any sort of aggressive emotion. This person would likely be perceived as more aggressive than he really was.

          2. Anonymous

            “It could be that Ted Cruz’s face causes people to dislike him because he is actually always thinking mean and nasty things and this is reflected in his facial movements.”

            There’s something so oily about the way you freak-man antipathy for Cruz as some unstable superstition or lower order folk demonization.

            How about supporting your candidate on his merits?

          3. onyomi

            “There’s something so oily about the way you freak-man antipathy for Cruz as some unstable superstition or lower order folk demonization.

            How about supporting your candidate on his merits?”

            What does this comment mean?

        4. Psmith

          “Do you honestly mean you can tell me things about a person’s character based solely on the shapes of his facial features?”

          Halfway trolling (the studies aren’t terribly impressive), but:
          http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/275/1651/2651.short
          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886913013214
          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009265661100136X
          http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/276/1656/575
          http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/06/29/rspb.2011.1193.short
          http://pss.sagepub.com/content/22/12/1478.full

          Ambiguous between attractiveness-type effects and facial morphology as indicator of personality/ability, but very interesting nonetheless:
          http://cogprints.org/631/1/Facdom.html
          http://www.jstor.org/stable/2580383?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

          Some of the people around here who know more biology than I do may have something to say about this, but it doesn’t strike me as (ahem) prima facie unreasonable that there is a good deal of overlap between the things that affect facial symmetry and the things that affect intelligence and impulse control.

          Separately, I reckon a president’s job–not just the art of getting elected, you understand, I mean negotiating treaties and working with the legislature and whatnot, the executive work of government–has at least a good deal in common with an actor’s job as well as a surgeon’s. If being perceived a certain way makes you a more effective leader, and if facial features change how you’re perceived (which is uncontroversial), having certain facial features may make you a more effective leader even if it has nothing to do with IQ.

          Obviously, someone needs to fund a study in which world leaders are randomly assigned to treatment = kidnapping and plastic surgery vs placebo and compare policy outcomes.

        5. anon

          This is an image of composite photos of people with high levels (positive and negative) of each of the five factors of personality:

          http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4031/4234575748_beec7eeb8a_b.jpg

          You still sure there’s nothing to physiognomy? How often do you expect that people could pick which of each pair corresponded to being negative / positive on each trait? I expect that people would do far far far better than chance.

          1. Vox Imperatoris

            Neurotic and unconscientious people have widow’s peaks? The latter also have bigger hair, which is not so unusual.

            Also, on conscientiousness and openness, I don’t think I could predict. The others, maybe.

            And this is separate from physiognomy, besides the weird widow’s peak thing.

          2. Nornagest

            It looks to me like most of the changes have to do with resting expression — but there is the widow’s peak thing, and I think I detect some differences around the jawline in the conscientious/unconscientious and neurotic/stable pairs.

          3. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Nornagest:

            Yes, definitely my first impression of the source of these findings is “limited sample size”. Not to mention that the guy looks suspiciously white.

          4. onyomi

            If you had mixed these up and said “guess which of these two is neurotic,” “guess which of these two is extroverted.” I doubt I would have done better than chance. Seeing the picture prelabeled I can craft ex post facto explanations like “yeah, hmm, this guy does seem a little more open somehow” or “yeah, I do expect the extrovert to have bigger hair…?” but I think these are just that: hindsight bias.

            What’s more, these are supposed to be composites of people at one extreme of a spectrum or another. If, like most people, the person you’re looking at falls somewhere in the middle on most traits, how much more indistinguishable will those traits be simply by looking at the face?

          5. Berna

            Those all look the same. If they weren’t labeled and I had to say something about them, I’d say that *maybe* the bottom row looks slightly unhappier.

        6. Anonymous

          Why support a candidate who you’ve already determined people dislike on sight? Dropping the question of why his face has that effect for a second. Knowing what you know, why is that a face we should want representing all 300 million of us in a world crisis situation?

    4. Nadja

      I like your comment a lot. I never realized people had such a negative reaction to Cruz’s face. Makes me sad.

    5. Nathan

      I’m actually a Cruz supporter, and yet I have to agree… He really does have an extremely punchable face.

  58. John Ohno

    *reads a list of reasons why he loves this blog, phrased in strangely insulting language*

    *nods sliently*

  59. Nero tol Scaeva

    “He’s definitely a beta orbiting cuckold.”

    Is this the same reference class as gay nazi muslim atheist communist terrorist?

    SCOTT WHY U HAET ARE FREEDUM????

    1. houseboatonstyx

      Sigh. I’m afraid ‘established permanent floating crap game in New York’ doesn’t quite fit.

  60. merzbot

    I enthusiastically accept my characterization as a STEM-inclined dude on the autism spectrum sitting around attempting to unpack societal problems like it was all a game of fucking Sim City.

    This one made me vomit in my mouth a little, though:

    “Go to the mountains and look. Get up early and see the sunrise. Stop anywhere and take a minute to look at the beauty of nature all around you. We are a small piece in the universe, but still a part. The plan is good. You are fine. You will succeed if you try hard enough. Everything you need spiritually is inside you and has always been there. Stop complaining.”

    1. Deiseach

      “You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars, yoooouuu have a right to belongggggg” – yeah, that comment took me back to my 70s childhood (man) 🙂

      1. Deiseach

        Given how it was played to death on the radio stations, it certainly felt like being brain-washed by a dystopian villain.

        And I see I misquoted; it should be “you have a right to be here”, not “belong”. Ah well, it was a long time ago and I have done my best to forget it! 🙂

  61. Addict

    So like, is anyone who dates someone, then stops dating them, then that person dates someone else, a cuckold?

    1. God Damn John Jay

      Cuckoldry is like original sin. If you are ever cucked, you have always been a cuck in your heart.

      1. Anon

        Yes, participating in the dispossession of your people is cuckoldry. Just like a bird cucked by the cuckoo bird feeding the young cuckoo instead of its own offspring. (Indeed, the young cuckoo bird usually even kills off all the other young in the nest)

        1. Vox Imperatoris

          The equivocation between “your family” and “your countrymen” is precisely the point in contention.

          As is the idea that allowing immigration means “dispossession” of “your people”.

          1. Anon

            Race is extended family. Immigration literally leads to dispossession–they end up owning property that could be retained for your own people, and they or their children are allowed voting rights–essentially they’re given shares in the government. Just ask the Native Americans if immigration dispossessed them.

            Not to mention that immigration (particularly the third world variety) also tends to harm your actual children and grandchildren as well.

          2. anonymous

            Race is extended family.

            No it isn’t. This would be argument by vigorous assertion, except it not even particularly vigorous.

          3. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Anon:

            Race is extended family.

            So is the whole human race. What’s your point?

            Why draw the line at “nations” (very arbitrary from a genetic point of view)? If you let people from another city move into yours, are you being “cucked”?

            If you let your daughter marry an unrelated white American instead of her first cousin, you are being “cucked” far more extensively (i.e. there is a far greater relative genetic difference) than when the choice is between a white American and a black American.

            Immigration literally leads to dispossession–they end up owning property that could be retained for your own people, and they or their children are allowed voting rights–essentially they’re given shares in the government. Just ask the Native Americans if immigration dispossessed them.

            Not if the immigrants produce more wealth and exchange it with you in trade. Do you think the United States would be as productive today if it had just had the native Indians in it?

            The harm suffered by the Indians was to the extent that they were not allowed to assimilate and were actually literally deprived of property by force. Which is not a typical result of peaceful migration under an organized government.

            Or are you saying that Indian culture was superior to European culture, and that they were entitled to keep all the Europeans out by force, instead of letting them buy grazing land and put it to more productive use? And Europeans quite often did buy Indian land peacefully, and Indians often did attack them without provocation; it’s not a one-sided story as the progressive narrative usually puts it.

            Not to mention that immigration also tends to harm your actual children and grandchildren as well.

            I’m not aware that I, as an American today, have been harmed by any of the immigration allowed in my ancestors’ time.

          4. Chrysophylax

            Further problem: why am I supposed to care more about the guy who happened to be born nearby than the guy with the guts to move to a different continent and the brains to succeed there? An first-generation Indian immigrant shopkeeper seems much more admirable than most of the people I went to school with.

          5. TheDividualist

            Eh, don’t discuss cuckoldry on this level, there is no point. It’s purpose is just that the much-insulted “outer right” finally found an insult to shoot back with that seems to emotionally indeed hurt a bit. The idea is just that lacking the ethnic loyalty and the territorial instinct is inherently unmasculine. Which is probably actually plausible, at the very least on that broad historical level that men used to have both. It is just to push too-mild conservatives to find their balls. It is just to take a bit of “revenge” for so many insults received, the “outer right” rarely, maybe it is a first time in decades, is able to find a back-insult that seems to actually hurt. And beyond that, the utility is that “cuckservatives” are apparently too terrified by name-calling from left and that is why they give in, so there is the idea to name-call them from the right as well to push back. It is mostly emotional and psychological and really no point in discussing what is real and not real cuckoldry.

            It is possible to have very rational arguments against open borders and even against race-mixing, but then again those arguments don’t need to be about cuck or no cuck, that is an emotional term.

            So that is two different levels / purposes.

            BTW do you even really mean seriously that advanced people immigrating to a land with a primitive culture is the same as people from a primitive culture immigrating to an advanced land? And I didn’t even HBD now just culture, which is the easier case. Chinese immigrants are rather awesome. Then many others, not.

          6. anon

            > Or are you saying that Indian(s) (…) were entitled to keep all the Europeans out by force, instead of letting them buy grazing land and put it to more productive use?

            Weren’t they? wasn’t the land, theirs?

          7. Vox Imperatoris

            @ anon:

            Weren’t they? wasn’t the land, theirs?

            “They” weren’t a collective entity. Individual tribes had the traditional rights over certain pieces of land, and they often sold it to Europeans. At which point the other tribes were not entitled to try to expel the Europeans by force.

            Moreover, you can say the whole idea of tribal ownership is dubious, and it’s not totally clear to what extent Indian ideas of land ownership matched up with European ideas. In which case why the Europeans ought to respect it—or what that would consist of—is much less clear.

            If a tiny population of native tribes want to arbitrarily wave their hands over the whole expanse of the American continent and prevent anyone else from settling on it and developing it on the basis simply that they were there first, maybe Rothbardian libertarians ought to agree to respect their “property rights”. But it seems to me that the concept of property rights is being perverted from its productivity-sustaining purpose in that case.

          8. Latetotheparty

            Regarding the “territorial” instinct that TheDividualist mentioned, I always find it astonishing that the outer-right can get so worked up about protecting anonymous ethnic strangers (white race), but not care one bit about protecting anonymous class strangers (the working class).

            Once upon a time, many working class men had the same sense of territoriality about class allegiances:
            https://newsyndicalist.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/wobdog.jpg?w=434&h=434&crop=1
            http://ep.yimg.com/ay/yhst-74742418910237/one-big-union-iww-poster-tshirt-3.jpg
            To me, this sort of territoriality has always felt far more instinctual. You know, to band together with your actual co-workers, other people like them, people going through the same shit as you on a daily basis…

          9. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Latetotheparty:

            But that is a significant part of what the “outer right” does. They say: this international class of rich bastards is undermining our culture and our standard of living by wanting to bring in millions of Mexicans to produce profits for them while destroying America. (Or substitute any country and the relevant foreigners.)

            It’s about class solidarity and racial solidarity coming together.

            This is actually not far off from what the labor movement did in practice (despite some lip service to internationalism): they were a major force for immigration restriction, as well as laws preventing striking workers from being replaced by (usually black) “scabs”.

          10. TheAncientGeek

            VI

            “Moreover, you can say the whole idea of tribal ownership is dubious, and it’s not totally clear to what extent Indian ideas of land ownership matched up with European ideas. In which case why the Europeans ought to respect it—or what that would consist of—is much less clear”

            They ought to respect because of the Golden Rule: they wouldn’t want someone stealing their land form under them using the excuse of “we have a different concept of property..oh, and better weapons”.

          11. Vox Imperatoris

            @ TheAncientGeek:

            They ought to respect because of the Golden Rule: they wouldn’t want someone stealing their land form under them using the excuse of “we have a different concept of property..oh, and better weapons”.

            If the Europeans thought they had a better concept of property rights and were right, they would not be vulnerable to the “Golden Rule” objection. Because then if aliens invaded in the name of imposing communal ownership of property, those aliens would be wrong.

            Though exactly why the fact that the Europeans wouldn’t like the same thing being done to them, is supposed to be a reason for them not to do it, is a little mysterious. Especially since there was no one in that position. Moreover, there are plenty of things that are perfectly justified that you nevertheless wouldn’t want done to you. For instance, I think it’s a good idea to punish drunk drivers. But if I somehow had a major lapse of judgment and drove drunk, I wouldn’t want to be punished.

  62. Albatross

    I skipped ahead because some of these comments made me sad. I never notice this kind of thing in the comments, I must have trained my brain to block these.

    Funny story, the best comments section I ever read was on a hentai site. So hilarious and positive at the same time. Some of the better ones here reminded me of those in a over the top sarcasm kind of way.

    1. Whatever Happened to Anonymous

      It’s harder to be overly judgemental when it’s obvious to everyone that everyone else is reading/watching chinese cartoon porn.

  63. Deiseach

    he’s a fucking med student in IRELAND

    I feel I should be outraged on behalf of my nation or something: not alone only a mere medical student [at the time], but one in Ireland so obviously he couldn’t even get into an American medical school for a job sweeping the floors 🙂

    I have to say, though, I am immensely flattered to be associated with the type of company I’m keeping here in the comment boxes: “skews towards highly intelligent discourse”, “99th percentile aspergers/IQ”, “STEM-inclined dudes on the autism spectrum”, “140 IQ discussion about 105 IQ issues”? I’m definitely mixing with my betters (under false pretences* as a mere female – some of those boys don’t seem to like the girls too much – and an Arts rather than Maths type to boot) here!

    *Though I am glad to bolster my claim to a place here by saying that many on my father’s side of the family do indeed fall on the autism spectrum ranging from what used to be called Asperger’s to mild autism, and indeed the dudes tend to be good at, and interested in, maths.

    1. Tibor

      I don’t know what your IQ is (I don’t know mine either), but you are definitely one of the people with the highest literary talent/skill in the local commentariat, which is one reason why I enjoy reading your posts. They are usually fun even when they are just snarky remarks.

    2. TheDividualist

      For me the hilarious part is that imaginig Scott as the “pure” upper-classy sheltered guy with the general loftiness of Americans of this background mixing with the thicker aspects of Irish culture, the lads and lassies who practically say cunt as a punctuation, the thicker dialects, the whole Colin Farrell in the movie In Bruges type of stuff. Like, the “you’re a bunch of fookin’ elephants” part, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaPzN2gD3PQ imagine Scott as an onlooker in this scene. For me this picture is utterly hilarious.

      When I said Western Europe doesn’t really have a properly Labor class culture, I somehow forgotten about Ireland. You can make such a movie Irish, you can make such a movie Polish or Serb, but you cannot make such a movie Danish or Belgian, it just doesn’t work, this is roughly what I meant. (Not for lack of trying- but Rundskop http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/rundskop_2012/ became a bad and entirely implausible parody of Labor culture obviously made by people who have no idea!)

      1. Deiseach

        For me the hilarious part is that imaginig Scott as the “pure” upper-classy sheltered guy with the general loftiness of Americans of this background mixing with the thicker aspects of Irish culture

        Scott did his study in University College Cork (which reminds me: when I had my most recent doctor’s visit, the practice had a very nice Second Year med student doing her four weeks’ work experience who was studying in UCC – shout-out to your alma mater, Scott; she may even have been American herself, as she had an American accent, though that might also simply be the accent of the English she learned: she seemed to me to be of East Asian origin).

        Which means he probably had a selection of Cork City, County Cork (including West – or as we in the South-East say in the local patois, Wesht – Cork), and parts of Kerry. Possibly even parts of my own lovely West Waterford, if the authorities exposed him to the wild and dangerous baby-eating ogres 🙂

        Translation services may have been necessary (warning: coarse language, swearing)

        Your mention of “In Bruges” also makes me laugh because there is someone on my feeds list who thinks it’s the perfect movie for Lent, and that is certainly something to reflect upon 🙂

  64. Muga Sofer

    New banners!

    “the story of a functioning pattern-recognition module”

    “either boring and obviously true or bold and innovative but also completely wrong”

    “a great example of the difference between ‘knowing how to type’ and ‘knowing how to write'”

    “nominally played by Joseph Gordon Leavit”

    “Ostracize someone for their beliefs? Me? Never.”

    “140 IQ discussion about 105 IQ issues”

    “doesn’t this guy have a dayjob as like a doctor or something?”

    “a waste of intellect, and debasement of character.”

    “on an entirely new topic each time”

    “I thought it was a blog about science methodology until that post with the talking cactus.”

    1. Deiseach

      The talking cactus one is lovely (and the least mean-spirited), it should be a new banner 🙂

      I like the 140 IQ one as well, though in my case it often feels like I’m doing “105 IQ discussion about 140 IQ issues”.

  65. spandrell

    There’s more written about you in the Elder’s Hideout, some by people who know you from far back.

    There’s a thread called “What If You Built a Scott Alexander Commune and Nobody Came”

  66. Autolykos

    Quite the impressive portfolio…
    Being hated by those types of people is probably one of the best compliments you can get 🙂

  67. zz

    For what it’s worth, I maintain that Meditations on Moloch is the best essay I’ve ever read, on grounds that it makes prisoner’s dilemma intuitively salient, a nigh-impossible feat, in 20k words. The only downside is that I’m vaguely disappointed since every new post isn’t quite as life-changingly good, although Nobody is Perfect, Everything is Commensurable and We Are All MsScribe have had a large impact on me.

    1. TheDividualist

      Nobody is Perfect, Everything is Commensurable is one of the worse ones IMHO the problem is that Scott takes this incredible level of moral goodness of Cliff way too seriously. He should have said either you are just advertising or you have some kind of borderline mentally ill self-esteem issue because normal healthy humans are generally happy enough doing a few nice things for their own in-group only once in a while and give no shit about how much other people are suffering or what crimes their in-group committed against the past.

      So IMHO this is one of the things to be not engaged rationally. Pathological altruism is either a mental illness or advertising, but you don’t argue with it, there is no point. Do you argue with people who want to amputate their leg because they feel it is not a proper part of their body? No. It is a mental illness. Why argue with people who don’t think a healthy, read, fitness-maximizing and survival-helping sense of selfishness, both individual and group, is not a proper part of their mind? Cliff basically has no sense whatsoever of the basic “my genes/kids should survive and reproduce at the price of their kids/genes dying horribly and I am cool with that” biological motive. Most civilized humans suppress it, of course, but Cliff has it downright *missing*. Most people fight their devils, their demons, of this kind, that is what a normally civilized, moderately good person does[1], Cliff has a gaping hole where these demons are supposed to live. You can’t argue wit that.

      Note: sending 15% of your income to buy mosquito nets in Malawi and similar EA stuff is not pathological altruism because you probably don’t miss that money much. It is probably still advertising or self-esteem balm, but anyway, it does not hurt you much. Feeling actual pain over moralistic issues, or pretending to, that is pathological altruism.

      [1] fighting the inner demons, having multiple conflicting wills, not being an indivisible individual: being a dividual…

        1. TheDividualist

          This was just a parallel, but I guess I should use them less often around here because they are misunderstood as a heuristic for determining what is ideal. I certainly don’t mean in that sense. Just one possible illustration of generally expected behavior, nothing more. I could have just as well written some historic process or no process at all and just point out people usually function.

          I mean, the fact-value gap and thus the naturalistic “fallacy” is rather obviously bunk, or else you derive your values from philosophy unrelated to the universe where you are supposed to put them into practice and that is a beautiful FAIL, but values don’t just derive from Sacred Evolution but the totality of factspace. But evolutionary stuff is one good quick illustration of it.

          1. Guy

            Are you an optimizer or an event? Do you have opinions or merely beliefs? Do you wish to move the world towards a state or do you simply watch it go by?

            If you prefer one state of the world to another, that preference necessarily derives from something other than the state of the world, else you could not distinguish it from other possible world states. The naturalistic preference heuristic becomes a fallacy when it claims to not be a preference heuristic but rather the absence of one. In making such a claim, it falsely demands excessive respect from people who see simple preferences as superior: what is simpler than the total absence of preferences?

            In claiming that people who don’t take to naturalistic preference selection are mentally ill, you claim that the naturalistic method is the only valid method for preference selection, based on … the naturalistic method. Which is true enough as far as it goes, but doesn’t go particularly far.

            Other people actually genuinely prefer different things than you do. They are optimizing under different constraints. Acknowledge it and either engage on a level where it is possible to communicate with them or leave them alone.

            All of this is of course prefaced on the assumption that you answered “yes” to the questions at the top. If you answered “no”, this gap is not bridgeable.

            (this post is hampered by the limitations of the English language and/or my knowledge of the same)

          2. TheDividualist

            @Guy

            >If you prefer one state of the world to another, that preference necessarily derives from something other than the state of the world, else you could not distinguish it from other possible world states.

            So I am not part of the world? That would be interesting. How could any definition of the world not include our minds?

            >The naturalistic preference heuristic becomes a fallacy when it claims to not be a preference heuristic but rather the absence of one.

            Agreed – even naturalism is something discovered and I am not a full naturalist, that was just an example.

            >Other people actually genuinely prefer different things than you do.

            And that has reasons in the world, such as in them, me, or somewhere else. The difference is derivable from facts.

            >Acknowledge it and either engage on a level where it is possible to communicate with them or leave them alone.

            Maybe it is not very charitable to assume something like mental illness, but a nicer way of putting it is “how the heck can your preferences work so obviously against your own interests”.

            The root issue is that everything is part of the world, so preferences should somehow derive from it, and it is at least theoretically should be possible that a given person in a given situation should have X preferences ideally. Otherwise we are engaging mystical philosophy that floats above the world and that gets old soon.

            My point is, in the last few hundred years, Hume’s guillotine was so overused that we lost that comfortable, practical common-sense that we had before i.e. Aristotle. Ethics today seems so divorced from how life pragmatically looks like. Is this good? What is the use of having values that feel so other-wordly e.g. veganism? Why not have ethics that is halfway mostly instinctive and familiar anyway? Cutting with the grain?

            It is the same choice that e.g. goes through the whole history of Judaism and Christianity. Are you going to go Rabbinic / Orthodox / Catholic and fundamentally accept this world and how it usually works? Or go Prophetic / Gnostic / Puritan / Pietist and reject it?

            I mean, you as a human animal are inherently of this world. I think world-rejection is ultimately can only be a disorder, an illness, a malfunction in a brain that is so obviously of this world.

            Don’t you find some value judgements are so obviously encoded in the world that they basically make themselves? Basically if you are a fish – don’t hate water.

          3. ChetC3

            In the world of cynical pragmatism, Tradition is out of favor because it repeatedly got its ass kicked. What kind of otherworldly idealist puts their money on a broken-down nag that hasn’t won a race in ages?

          4. Vox Imperatoris

            So I am not part of the world? That would be interesting. How could any definition of the world not include our minds?

            Sure, the world includes our minds. So in some sense, obviously our preferences are “part of the world”. But I take it Guy‘s point was that they are not necessarily part of the external non-mental world as it is now.

            For instance, even in a society that rests upon slavery, it is possible for someone to think that slavery is objectively wrong. And yes, this is a belief about the “the world”: a belief that the requirements for a productive, happy, and prosperous society actually are such that slavery is incompatible with it, and that he would rather have such a society.

            Maybe it is not very charitable to assume something like mental illness, but a nicer way of putting it is “how the heck can your preferences work so obviously against your own interests”.

            You are just assuming that people somehow have to value whatever serves their own interests. In fact, they don’t. It is a choice.

            Moreover, the kind of tradition-worship you endorse often leads people to act against their own interests. But you justify it by saying “that’s the way things are; there is no other way”. The whole idea of “group selfishness” is a contradiction in terms. Sure, it is possible that your selfish interest the same as the interest of your group. But if they ever conflict (and they do, at least in the way you talk about it), why should they go with the group?

            The root issue is that everything is part of the world, so preferences should somehow derive from it, and it is at least theoretically should be possible that a given person in a given situation should have X preferences ideally. Otherwise we are engaging mystical philosophy that floats above the world and that gets old soon.

            By what standard do they have those preferences?

            That is the is-ought problem. I agree with you that it is interpreted way too broadly (as Hume in fact interpreted it), to strike down every attempt at making morality have anything to do with the world.

            But the problem is simply that there is no possible way to argue from purely non-moral facts that a person “ought to” value any particular thing. If you include moral premises, of course, you can do it. But then you have to explain where you got those moral premises.

            If you want to say it is “wrong” to amputate your own leg for no reason, you have to appeal to some standard, some value that people want to achieve. If your standard is: “the requirements for human happiness and prosperity”, then I would agree. But if that person doesn’t accept or agree with that standard, then he is not “bound” by it.

            The idea that there is some universal standard that just has to be accepted by everyone is false. I really like this quote by Tarkovsky, recently put on Scott’s tumblr:

            Of course, life has no point. If it had, man would not be free. He’d become a slave to that point and his life would be governed by completely new criteria: the criteria of slavery. Like an animal, the point of whose life is that life itself, the continuation of the species.

            An animal carries out his slavish activities because it can feel the point of its life instinctively. Therefore its sphere is restricted. Man, on the other hand claims to aspire to the absolute.

            That is: man does not have to value anything in particular. It is up to him.

            Now I myself am an egoist, and I think that this is not a pure idiosyncrasy on my part but something I could convince others to agree with if they agreed with my premises. Once you show that there is, in fact, no universally standard you “just have” to accept, it is clear that you can value anything at all. But if the bindingness of morality comes from your choice and your valuing, there is no reason why these should be subordinated to anything else. As Ayn Rand put it (in a tragic character’s words):

            “If it were true, that old legend about appearing before a supreme judge and naming one’s record, I would offer, with all my pride, not any act I committed, but one thing I have never done on this earth: that I never sought an outside sanction. I would stand and say: I am Gail Wynand, the man who has committed every crime except the foremost one: that of ascribing futility to the wonderful act of existence and seeking justification beyond myself. This is my pride: that now, thinking of the end, I do not cry like all the men of my age: but what was the use and the meaning? I was the use and meaning. I, Gail Wynand. That I lived and that I acted.

            Moreover, everyone in fact does feel the draw of happiness to some degree, and I think they fail to pursue it for two reasons: a) irrational laziness and carelessness, and b) arguments that there is something “above” happiness”. But if it is shown that there is no good argument that you “just have” to do anything except pursue your own happiness, then people are free to pursue it.

            But if someone chooses not to pursue life and happiness and rejects reason, then I don’t say that’s immoral. I don’t say that it is categorically wrong to want to die. I say that’s a pre-moral choice; he’s chosen not to be guided by morality and he doesn’t need it. On the other hand, if someone argues that there is a binding reason to do something against life and happiness, then I say this is irrational and immoral.

            I think the ultimate reason that you are being attacked is your determinism: you believe that man is, like Tarkovsky said, “an animal, the point of whose life is that life itself, the continuation of the species.” What I find odd is the fact that more people don’t agree with you, since they are also determinists. However, I think they recognize on some level that such determinism does not justify morality; it invalidates morality.

            Don’t you find some value judgements are so obviously encoded in the world that they basically make themselves? Basically if you are a fish – don’t hate water.

            That is a still a value judgment, and there is no number of non-moral facts that are ever going to “add up” to it, without anyone’s choice. The correct way to phrase this would be: “If you are a fish, you have to choose whether to value water or to die, but I can’t tell you which one.”

            You’re also, I believe, being attacked for including quite a few too many things under “the water”, which we allegedly cannot survive without.

          5. The original Mr. X

            In the world of cynical pragmatism, Tradition is out of favor because it repeatedly got its ass kicked.

            “Got its ass kicked” how? Certainly a lot of opinion-formers look down on the concept, but that in itself doesn’t prove anything much.

          6. ChetC3

            If that’s the metric we’re using I think tradition is clearly winning.

            Not remotely. The relevant military powers have all been Liberal Democracies or Communist Dictatorships since WWII. Not surprising, given that wherever you look – Ancien Regime France, Austria-Hungary, Tsarist Russia, Imperial China – chronic military impotence is what led to the fall of the old order.

          7. Doctor Mist

            One of the many interesting things in J Storrs Hall’s Beyond AI is an evolutionary argument that it is pro-survival to have a precise mental model of the outside world but a very imprecise mental model of your own mind. He argues that this is where the (very useful) notion of free will comes from.

            It’s been a little while since I read it, so I won’t try to provide a précis of the argument, but I remember that I found it at least quite plausible and illuminating.

          8. The original Mr. X

            Not remotely. The relevant military powers have all been Liberal Democracies or Communist Dictatorships since WWII. Not surprising, given that wherever you look – Ancien Regime France, Austria-Hungary, Tsarist Russia, Imperial China – chronic military impotence is what led to the fall of the old order.

            Ancien Regime France, Austria-Hungary and Imperial Russia could hardly be described as “militarily impotent”, much less chronically so. In particular, France probably had Europe’s single most powerful army from the time of Louis XIV to the fall of Napoleon.

          9. Vox Imperatoris

            @ The original Mr. X:

            Your examples are suspiciously out of date…

            It reminds me of a joke from the silly movie Undercover Brother:

            “Name one thing the Republican Party has ever done for black people!”
            “They were the party of Lincoln, who freed the slaves.”
            “Okay, name two things—lately!”

          10. hlynkacg

            @ ChetC3
            I would contend that the last clear cut case of a “traditional” power getting its ass kicked by a “secular” one was the razing of Japan in 1944 – 45.

            Since then traditional powers have, for the most part, beaten or at least been able to hold their own against secular ones even in scenarios where they really had no right to.

            And while I will conceded that the Cold War was essentially between two secular powers, it was the more traditional and less secular of the two that ended up winning handily.

          11. The original Mr. X

            Your examples are suspiciously out of date…

            ? “My examples” were actually ChetC3’s.

          12. Vox Imperatoris

            @ The original Mr. X:

            Those empires were powerful a long time ago, up until the point when they weren’t anymore and collapsed.

          13. Nornagest

            1945 Japan was not a significantly more traditional power than 1945 America; we hear a lot about the samurai cult and so forth, but the context there is of a romanticized revival of the samurai ethos, roughly parallel to how Mussolini used the iconography of Rome. From (roughly) 1868 to the early Thirties Japan had been modernizing just as fast as it could, based on Prussian, British, and American models, and if there’s anything Japan’s good at it’s naturalizing other cultures’ stuff.

            In many ways, in fact, I’d call the US more traditional at the time.

          14. The original Mr. X

            Those empires were powerful a long time ago, up until the point when they weren’t anymore and collapsed.

            Yeah, but so what? All powerful countries decline sooner or later. If you want to show that there’s something wrong with traditionalism, “These empires were traditionalist, and don’t exist anymore” isn’t enough to get you there. You might as well say “Of course democracy’s bad — why else don’t the Athenian Empire and Roman Republic exist any more?”

          15. suntzuanime

            Well, we do say that, and that’s why there are major differences between modern liberal democracy and the ancient greek kind. Modern liberal democracy is at best “inspired by” the older democracies because the older democracies were fatally flawed and died.

          16. TheAncientGeek

            “But if the bindingness of morality comes from your choice and your valuing, there is no reason why these should be subordinated to anything else. ”

            If. However, the idea that bindingness comes from a personal choice that was made arbitrarily and can be unmade arbitrarily is nonsense on stilts. Obligations are social and interpersonal, as much as promises and contracts.

          17. Vox Imperatoris

            @ TheAncientGeek:

            If. However, the idea that bindingness comes from a personal choice that was made arbitrarily and can be unmade arbitrarily is nonsense on stilts. Obligations are social and interpersonal, as much as promises and contracts.

            And what makes social obligations, promises, and contracts binding? Your estimate of the consequences to you if you break them.

      1. Anonymous

        The theory that “altruism is self-serving” is an interesting one, but the theory that “the theory that ‘altruism is a self-serving'” is a self-serving one, deserves an even closer look.

    2. TheDividualist

      About Hobbes’ difficult idea. Suppose with some uncharity that Bob does not actually wants to solve a problem, just signal he is better/smarter than most people. He would do exactly the same. Sermonize about everybody having to change their ways and drive Flintstone cars instead of SUVs or something. Of course nothing happens. Next time sermonize ever harder about how irresponsible everybody is which makes him look even smarter and better and so on. Preacher/priest move.

      The point is, I could only credit Bob with really caring if he instead of the moral exhortations, would ask questions like “OK, what would be a smart incentive to give people to drive Flintstone cars instead of SUVs?”

      **One way to tell a secular Holy Joe is that he apparently cares not only what you do but also for what motives.** This is a very good heuristic. We should not only cut our carbon emissions: we should cut our carbon emissions for the righteous reasons, saving the planet, not for some selfish, spurious, even unfriendly reasons, for example, sending a fuck-you to Saudis and Russia or valuing thinness so much we take a bicycle or saving money or you name it.

      For example, one very, very good way to make people like me to take the light rail to work is to do it like proper trains and have a bit more expensive first class cars that are reassuringly free from the underclass and make us feel like someone important. Have you ever seen them propose this? Why not? Because that is a horribly unholy motive. Regardless of whether it would do to carbon.

  68. TheDividualist

    >Scott Alexander is the story of a functioning pattern-recognition module trapped in a progressive brain.

    This wasn’t me, but 100% agree. I envy how well this is worded. Maybe I would replace it with “a brain incompletely masculinized”.

    Heh, what about a fundraiser to bribe Scott into lifting weights? I wonder what would happen.

    1. David Friedman

      I thought the pattern recognition one was pretty good, and suggests a more general idea—the tension between the set of beliefs one starts with and the beliefs that are implied by one’s approach to making sense of reality. It would be interesting to look at a variety of cases of very smart, reasonable people, people equipped with good tools for discovering what’s true, who started from very different ideological/religious/… viewpoints.

      One possibility, suggested by Dan Kahan’s work, is that the smart person employs his ability creating sophisticated justifications for what he already believes. Another is that smart people with very different starting points end up converging: “Any spoke can lead an ant to the hub,” as Nero Wolfe puts it in a different context.

      1. houseboatonstyx

        @ David Friedman
        It would be interesting to look at a variety of cases of very smart, reasonable people, people equipped with good tools for discovering what’s true, who started from very different ideological/religious/… viewpoints.

        The core of SSC, I thought.

      2. onyomi

        I once heard it said, don’t remember where, that psychotherapy is sometimes less effective for smart people because smart people are better at creating logically airtight stories about why they should be miserable.

        1. stillnotking

          I had a therapist tell me that she didn’t think therapy would work for me because I was “too smart”, by which she meant that I would think too abstractly about the process to achieve the “breakthroughs” psychotherapists aim for.

          Mind you, I’m smart by the standards of the general population, not by SSC’s.

      3. Vox Imperatoris

        Relevant quote by Thomas Paine:

        I do not believe that any two men, on what are called doctrinal points, think alike who think at all. It is only those who have not thought that appear to agree.

    2. Leit

      Shoulder injuries due to poor form, I suspect. Also arguments in the comments about whether he should be doing SS, SL, SA, Greyskull etc., and how useless personal trainers are.

    3. Psmith

      IME, lifting weights doesn’t change personality nearly as much as fighting does, but otherwise endorsed.

      1. TheDividualist

        I used to think that and I was wrong. However, define fighting. Most adults at a boxing club even after months are only allowed light sparring. Because you average fat balding office guy is not that good at it. If you mean it as sticking with the boring stuff for years until you are allowed to really give each other a black eye, probably yes. Maybe. But those who start as adults rarely stick so long. So you are doing the mittens and the sandbags and the super boring step-schooling and the kindergarten play level sparring for for 6 months and nothing happened to you, do you have the patience to go on?

        We need to invent a martial art when you are allowed to do fun stuff to each other from day 1. Well, that is BJJ. But that is “rolling” not “fighting”.

        However, there are 45 years old neckbeards who go lifting and they don”t even do it right, they just take the machines, even the ridiculous sitting bench press machine, not the barbells, and yet I see them behaving far more confident after that. And that happens in 3-4 months. Beginner gainzzz, also in hormones I suppose.

        1. Alex

          Am I confusing something? I thought abundance of body hair, as in “neckbeard” was a sign of high testosterone.

          1. Anonymous

            I’m not sure of the significance of beard on the neck, specifically, but most men can grow some kind of beard. I think what is being insulted here is the scraggly, patchy, poorly-looking beard that is a sign of low testosterone (so far as I know).

          2. Alex

            Aha!

            I thought “neckbeard” was a metaphor for body hair, which would be visible only around the neck, while wearing a t-shirt. Didn’t know it referred to an actual beard.

          3. Andrew

            It’s also partly orthagonal to testosterone. “Neckbeards” are a mocking term for a certain type of young man that is simultaneously trying to look masculine (via growing a beard) but is hopelessly socially awkward (hence doesn’t know how to maintain a beard well, which often involves shaving the neck if it’s a short beard, which most are if they’re young!).

          4. Alex

            My general impression is that “socially awkward” gradually becomes indistinguishable from “stopped giving a fuck” the older one gets.

            Or to put it differently, obession with social awkwardness seems to peak at the age of 16 or something like that.

          5. Nancy Lebovitz

            I thought “neckbeard” was an insult about grooming– that the neckbeard should be shaved.

            Alternate theory: a few major examples of people who annoy those who use the insult have neckbeards.

            Another theory: it’s a gendered insult (women don’t have neckbeards) with no other content.

            I’m amazed that people aren’t sure what the insult is even about, but it does back my theory that it’s context which makes a word into an insult.

          6. Alex

            I am increasingly unsure what part of the anatomy is considered to be the neck and what part of body hair might be referred to as a beard in the English language.

            Like I said I somehow arrived at the misconception that “neckbeard” refers to a teenage attitude of “all body hair is just gross [as in: renders you undesirable as a sexual partner, regardless of hygenie and such]”. How little did I know.

            I sport what my father’s generation would have called a “full beard” and to me it seems to be pretty obvious how that ought to be groomed. I seriously do not see what could go wrong, let alone so wrong that it becomes a matter of political insult.

          7. onyomi

            This is the stereotype:

            http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-k9vZMmk0HPk/U0EmQrKKrHI/AAAAAAAAQIM/iniBHTfK7XE/s1600/neckbeard-trilby.jpg

            The actual unshaved beard on the neck is just a stereotype or synecdoche (…) for the overall idea of a guy who is trying to be charming and attractive by following some misguided ideas about fashion and chivalry while at the same time being unaware of his continued poor hygiene, fatness, or awkwardness. The fedora and calling women “m’lady” are other stereotypes.

          8. Alex

            onyomi:

            I’m pretty sure that none of the things you mention would be held against the guy (or the stereotype for that matter), were it not for the “fatness”. Especially not by judging from one photograph. Or is this some internet celebrity I’m ignorant of?

          9. onyomi

            This person is not, so far as I know, an internet celebrity, other than being one of the top results when I typed “neckbeard” into GoogleImage search.

            But I would disagree with your estimate of his attractiveness, especially from the perspective of the sorts of people who are apt to use the phrase “neckbeard.”

            Yes, the fatness is the biggest problem, but consider also the actual beard: it’s patchy and odd looking. What kind of style is he going for? Could he grow a fuller beard if he wanted to? Did he shape it in any way or just let his hair grow in the weird, sparse pattern nature chose for it? And did he actually think doing so was a better stylistic choice than just shaving?

            Next the hat: the fedora is now associated with men trying to look stylish but who don’t realize that a fedora looks stupid on almost everyone in the 21st century. What’s more he’s tipping the hat in what appears to be an imitation of a very old-fashioned style of greeting. This says “I have no natural social skills, but think that acting in accordance with an old stereotype about classy, chivalrous men might get me laid/make me more interesting.”

            And the shirt–goes with fedora. Too shiny/silky; seems weirdly formal.

            I’ll agree he looks like he could be a reasonably attractive man if he lost 75 lbs, shaved and got a completely new wardrobe. But then, he wouldn’t be a neckbeard if he knew to/how to do these things.

            (Note that none of this is meant to endorse being mean to nerdy men with bad style, nor the use of the term “neckbeard” for that purpose; I’m just explaining my understanding of the stereotype and what I think this picture means to those who have singled it out for internet ridicule).

          10. Vox Imperatoris

            The person is the picture is an actor, known for playing (as a child actor), the character of Pugsley Addams in the 1998 Addams Family movie.

          11. Alex

            >Did he shape it in any way or just let his hair grow in the weird, sparse pattern nature chose for it? And did he actually think doing so was a better stylistic choice than just shaving?

            Yeah, I’m with you on all of this. In a way it makes me grateful for what mother nature chose to by my facial hair. What I’m saying is without being obese, he probably could have gotten away with that, despite it clearly being bad judgement.

            >This says “I have no natural social skills, but think that acting in accordance with an old stereotype about classy, chivalrous men might get me laid/make me more interesting.”

            How is that a bad signal to send? I mean seriously, what are “natural social skills” other than acting in accordance with a _current_ stereotype? Of course I understand that this signal would loose all its value if everybody did it. But that does not seems to be the problem.

            >And the shirt–goes with fedora. Too shiny/silky; seems weirdly formal.

            Nothing wrong with that shirt IMO. Probably would look better, were he able to use the topmost button, even if he then did leave it unfastened intentionally. I trust, you get my point.

            >But then, he wouldn’t be a neckbeard if he knew to/how to do these things.

            For sure SSC comment section is the wrong place to state the obvious and say that all of the above is a judgement of character on the basis of questionable taste, but I had to get that elephant out of the room so I said it anyways. Sorry.

          12. Nornagest

            >This says “I have no natural social skills, but think that acting in accordance with an old stereotype about classy, chivalrous men might get me laid/make me more interesting.”

            How is that a bad signal to send? I mean seriously, what are “natural social skills” other than acting in accordance with a _current_ stereotype? Of course I understand that this signal would loose all its value if everybody did it. But that does not seems to be the problem.

            It’s an Uncanny Valley thing. If you grew up into a set of social rules, they look good on you. They can even look good if there are some holes in your natural social skills (perhaps because you spent too much time at your computer as a teenager) but you put some effort into patching them by looking at what real, modern people are actually doing.

            Trying to synthesize them from TV movies set in the 1930s and your dad’s half-remembered anecdotes about the 1960s, on the other hand, makes you look like an alien in a skin suit. Even if you have the motions down, which you probably won’t, there were a whole mess of cultural assumptions informing them that you’re just not going to get.

          13. onyomi

            Agree totally with Nornagest about the “alien in a skin suit” effect.

            I loved those movies. Pugsley’s not looking so good, though.

            Related, it occurs to me that all the problems I cited with this person’s appearance can be attributed to signalling (at least within our current milieu) a lack of maturity–not just emotional and social, but literal, biological maturity.

            What are the physical signs of a mature male? Lots of body hair/thick beard, chiseled features, receding hairline/baldness, etc. Age itself (this is how Clint Eastwood manages to remain sexy; aging is masculinizing for both sexes insofar as a big part of human femininity is neoteny).

            What are the outward signs of a psychologically mature male? Looking put together, understanding and fitting into the (yes, arbitrary) social milieu he finds himself in, giving off an aura of being able to protect others, financially and/or physically.

            The neckbeard stereotypes seem almost all to be neotenous, or childish:

            living with your parents
            fat, round face like a child or baby
            inability to grow a full beard/appearance of patchy beard
            social immaturity that causes one to try on ill-fitting habits/bad fashion

            Neoteny, of course, is associated with femininity in the human.

            Interestingly, I get the impression that some of the meanest critics of neckbeards are online feminists: they make fun of them for being, basically, creepy, gross man-children who think they can trick women into having sex with them through obviously bad fashion and a weird attempt at revival of traditional intergender etiquette (hence “m’lady”).

            So feminists are criticizing these men for not being stereotypically masculine enough.

          14. smocc

            @Alex

            > all of the above is a judgement of character on the basis of questionable taste

            That’s very much the point. The term we are discussing is a mocking insult and almost nothing else. We’re not saying it’s a good insult, just describing how it is used and what connotations it typically has.

            Though it is interesting to me how prevalent the “neckbeard”/”fedora” style is, despite it inviting so much ridicule. I own two fedoras from high school. I’m not sure where I got the idea that a fedora paired with a black t-shirt and cargo pants looked cool, but it seemed like a great idea at the time.

            I guess it’s a fashion for nerds meant to look cool to nerds. What’s interesting is that, while being gentlemanly and nice towards girls is a common part of the aesthetic, it has very little to do with what is actually important to girls. This isn’t surprising when you consider other young male fashions — expensive Air Jordans and Axe body spray aren’t actually attractive to most young girls, though the boys that wear them probably think they are.

          15. Nornagest

            Though it is interesting to me how prevalent the “neckbeard”/”fedora” style is, despite it inviting so much ridicule. I own two fedoras from high school.

            Well, one of the layers in the sad, deflated tiramisu of cultural signaling here is that the hats were briefly in style about ten years ago. I remember seeing Justin Timberlake and Johnny Depp wearing them, for example. So it’s not just trying to regurgiate some kind of long-lost, probably-never-existed-as-such tradition of gentlemanliness, it’s also seizing on a brief fad and blowing it way out of proportion. Compare orphaned vests, or the bizarrely long-lived influence of The Matrix. Fedora+trench hasn’t been in style since the early Sixties, though, and fedora+trench+T-shirt never has.

            There are nerds that try to adopt or adapt older fashion wholesale, e.g. the steampunk thing, but at that point it almost crosses over into cosplay. And at least it’s a coherent look.

          16. Nornagest

            Some more notes on fedora/trench/”m’lady”:

            Deeper than the uncanny valley effect, and contributing to it, I think the problem might be that less experienced nerds tend to look at aesthetics very superficially. You look at, say, Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep and you think he’s cool. Fair enough; he’s cool. But what makes him cool is how he behaves in the context of the (partly fictional) universe he inhabits. The hat, the coat, the rough-but-classy mannerisms look good there, but in another context they’d send a totally different message. What earns you friends in a roadside bar in backwoods Montana won’t make you any friends if you’re having tea with the Emperor of Japan; same deal.

            The chivalry thing works similarly. Etiquette is, basically, a protocol, and like all protocols it only works if you’re talking to something that’s also running it. You send a message and you get one of a range of shorthand responses that your society has coordinated on, because it’s faster, easier, and for most people more intuitive to do it that way than to hammer out common exchanges explicitly every time you meet somebody. Use etiquette from (a fictional version of) the distant past and you might think you’re being classy or cutely old-fashioned, but you’re actually doing the equivalent of plugging your computer’s Ethernet cable into a banana.

            (An example: I grew up around martial-arts dojos, which are often very ritualized in small ways. Fast-forward to range day with some guys in Nevada, and I’m in kind of the same headspace. I accept a shotgun from the rangemaster with both hands and a little bow, and he looks at me like I’ve grown two more heads that both speak only blasphemy. Entirely my fault.)

            tl;dr: there are no cheat codes for cool.

          17. Arbitrary_greay

            Re: fedora
            1. The thing most people call a “fedora” nowadays is actually a trilby.
            2. Nah, people who already look conventionally attractive can definitely rock a “fedora.” Plenty of people of any gender still drool over ladies who rock a suit and trilby. Fangirls love it with their male idols dawn the attire, as well. Traditionally good-looking people don’t look so different from the good-looking people in the past when those hats were more common, so they still look just as fantastic.
            Some of the disdain over the MRA fedora use is that they believe the hat itself will imbue some measure of attractiveness to them. But as with most fashion things, usually it’s the person making the fashion look good. So the fedora-rocking MRAs just look like try-hards that don’t “get” what they should actually do to be attractive, a la what Nornagest talked about with the Bogart example.
            (For another example, Fred Astaire. Not conventionally attractive by any means, other than being enviously slender, but he’s got that Astaire Swagger, the pure confidence in knowing he’s one of the best dancers of all time.)

            Yes this is not particularly nice or feminist, reinforcing conventional unrealistic beauty standards. But the feminist critique is root in the same kind of dog-whistle associations as “freeze peach.” The impending MRAness is what makes the hat unattractive, not the hat itself.

            @onyomi
            So feminists are criticizing these men for not being stereotypically masculine enough.
            This is confounded by how the “suit and trilby/fedora” get-up is most attractive on more feminine/prettier men. Your Justin Timberlakes, your Matt Bomers, Michael Jackson, your asian boyband members.
            Man the spam filter is merciless. I can’t get this link through at all. Anyways, it was an article talking about how male celebrities actually have to care a whole lot about their image, about how they dress, and their makeup and hair, and think about how to posture, in ways that are traditionally coded feminine. So you get male idols and soloists being like “I hope our fans enjoy this beastly/manly album concept,” even as boyband detractors the world over deride them for being so metrosexual.
            Similarly, a theme that emerged in female fans responding to “dudes are objectified in media too!” was to point out how female fans’ ideal males aren’t the beefcakes, but more “bishounen” and “woobie” figures. Tom Hiddleston gets more love than Chris Hemsworth. And just look at the Lobo redesign for New 52.
            So in terms of physical attractiveness, odds are the MRAs probably aren’t pretty enough for the hat.

          18. Alex

            I’m with Arbitrary_greay on this one. The fact that Timberlake can pull it off and the stereotype nerd can’t ought to tell us something.

            However:

            Re: Uncanny Valley Effect / The Protocol Analogy

            Let me add an example to yours. First of all this might upset people who ar fond of differenciating musical genres so I will refer only to “rock music” in its broadest possible sense.

            In my time and place ™ rock music is more or less entirely in the tradition of The Stones. There is no mainstream strain in the tradition of Elvis or Johnny Cash or something. It’s a subculture. People who carefully dress and groom in the style of said musicians, not in a Hollywood “Elvis imitator” or cosplaying way, but in a way that is practical in real live. There is a mannerism going with that style, e. g. carrying a comb and using it in public. Things like that. Some sport a fake American accent even if not speaking English in the first place.

            Of course it’s all an act. I’m resonably sure that none of these people share any cultural background whatsoever with real Elvis or real Johnny Cash. But as far as I can tell from the outside, the live the act like 24/7. And, again speaking from the outside, I do not find this to be uncanny. In the same way I would not find a long haired guy in a Mötörhead band t-shirt uncanny. But note how the former is sythesizing the past and the latter is not.

            Not that I would recommend to a random stereotype nerd to put this kind of effort into an act. Its more like that mainstream culture works very much alike said subculture, but the patterns are easier to observe from the outside so I went with that example. And it also goes to show that basically anything can work as a style if you put enogh enthusiasm into it. Your example, the 30s as remembered by the 60s, i. e. Bonnie and Clyde: that could totally work as a style today.

            The protocol analogy I think misses the point. You can adhere to protocol by the numbers and still come across as awkward and you can break protocol left and right and still be socially accepted. And, no coincidence here, the former is something, nerds might have learned the hard way, when trying to geek into the protocol, whereas the latter seems to be the central idea of PUA (?).

            So I conclude, what we call socially awkward and what gives rise to the nerd stereotype is neither the hat nor the old fashionednes nor the lack of protocol. But what is it? Haven’t decades of Nerdology solved this question yet?

          19. Nita

            You can adhere to protocol by the numbers and still come across as awkward and you can break protocol left and right and still be socially accepted.

            But breaking protocol is not quite what’s going on here. Breaking protocol comes in two flavours:
            (1) unintended failure due to sloppiness / inattention / ignorance,
            (2) deliberate playfulness, identifiable as such only when combined with evidence of not-(1) (awareness of the protocol and ability to perform it).

            “M’lady” doesn’t quite pass for either of those, so it’s read as a combination of (1) and
            (3) a weird, inexplicable choice to rigidly adhere to the wrong protocol.

            A big chunk of successful social interaction (outside of bare conflict) is being pleasant — and that includes surprising your companions in ways that make them feel good, not confused or awkward. I’ve had my hand unexpectedly kissed once, and let me tell you, that was awkward as hell.

            There’s a related thing I’ve noticed in myself and similar folks — an occasional itch to bring up in-jokes outside their native context (sometimes even when I’m the only person who would get it!). It might have something to do with being “inside one’s head” most of the time, instead of paying broad attention to the surrounding people and adapting one’s thoughts to the social context.

            So, “guy”+”fedora” seems like a good combination of ideas in mind-space, and some people might forget or fail to simulate how its implementation looks to others. In contrast, rock fans are more social and more familiar with their target audience (other rock fans vs “the ladies”).

          20. Alex

            Re: mind-space vs implementation

            I’ve seen one or two guys successfully doing “the fedora” in real life. These guys hat one thing in common though, they were attractive and confident.

            Other real life experience: I guess I qualify as a type (1) protocol breaker. Hasn’t been that much of a problem after high school. On the contrary, most people, including non-nerds, have no idea what the protocol is. The occasional damage from type (1) protocol breaking is that people think “what a jerk”. But it happens far less often than I used to assume.

          21. Nita

            @ Alex

            Yeah, (2) can be either cool or annoying, and (1) is usually no big deal — others might smooth things over (“Surely you’re joking, Mr Feynman!”), or simply ignore it.

            But (3) can leave some “normal” people puzzled, and then they start talking to their friends / internet strangers, trying to make sense of it.

          22. onyomi

            “I’ve seen one or two guys successfully doing “the fedora” in real life. These guys hat one thing in common though, they were attractive and confident.”

            This reminds me of an Onion article I can’t find atm to the effect of: “the latest fashion this year is wearing hats and being hot!… this was a change from last year when the fashion was large sweaters and being hot…” etc.

            Point is, if you’re hot enough and confident enough, anything looks good on you, but mostly due to halo effect.

          23. Nita

            @ onyomi

            No, wait. The aim is not to literally make clothes “look good on you”, or to wear whatever’s in fashion. The aim is to make the whole thing, the you-in-the-clothes, look good. Obviously, how you look, controlled for clothes, is a big part of that. If that’s “halo effect”, then so is taller people scoring more points in basketball at the same skill level.

          24. onyomi

            “This is confounded by how the “suit and trilby/fedora” get-up is most attractive on more feminine/prettier men. Your Justin Timberlakes, your Matt Bomers, Michael Jackson, your asian boyband members.”

            I think this actually supports what I’m saying while adding an interesting additional nuance: even the “successful” examples of “neckbeard fashion” are not typically masculine-looking by Anglo-American standards. They look boyish.

            What’s interesting to me is that I don’t think this particular type of necbkeard fashion predates the rise of anime in American nerd culture. East Asian depictions of attractive men are typically less “masculine” and more “pretty” due to a combination of the fact that East Asian men have less pronounced secondary-sex characteristics (most can only grow a thin, whispy beard, for example) and the fact that, in East Asia, there is still a greater association between big, muscly, tan people and low class agricultural labor.

            I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that US standards about what constitutes an attractive man, and especially within nerdy subcultures, has moved in the East Asian direction of favoring the pretty, boyish look. And to the extent the fedora and trenchcoat look good on anyone other than Dick Tracy (I’m skeptical that they do, though I appreciate Arbitrary pointing out that what is now called a “fedora” is really a slightly different style, as I always thought that what was now called a fedora really was different from the fedora of old movies), it’s more likely to be this sort of man.

            But this reinforces my point: there is a subset of men now looking not to Humphrey Bogart for their idea of masculinity, but to Orlando Bloom and the like.

            What I’m saying is suspicious is that if feminists don’t like men admiring and striving to imitate Orlando Bloom and beautiful Korean Boy Band members then I think they are being a bit hypocritical–because it’s precisely within the framework of a traditional patriarchy where men are expected to be strong, stolid protector and provider figures who would never spend as much time making themselves pretty as they did providing for women (though, of course, in East Asia, the pretty man was associated with ability to provide since he probably came from a good family).

          25. Nita

            What I’m saying is suspicious is that if feminists don’t like men admiring and striving to imitate Orlando Bloom

            Oddly enough, “trying to look like Orlando Bloom” and “sexist” are not mutually exclusive properties. Feminists-qua-feminists are mostly interested in men’s attitude to women, not the type of “look” they’re going for.

            And the usual complaint about the stereotypical “fedora-tipping Nice Guy” is that there’s a burning pit of rage and bitterness lurking beneath the gentle, unassuming surface layer.

            (The usual disclaimers apply: feminists are people, many feminists are not very good people, many people try to tar their target with every negative word they can think of.)

          26. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Nita:

            And the usual complaint about the stereotypical “fedora-tipping Nice Guy” is that there’s a burning pit of rage and bitterness lurking beneath the gentle, unassuming surface layer.

            Yep, that’s pretty much it. I think Scott’s many posts on the subject have shown why it’s not exactly fair or appropriate to demonize these men, but that’s the root of the issue..

            It only takes one bad experience, or even a friend’s bad experience, or even bad experiences you read about on the internet, in order to make a woman avoid that kind of guy in general.

          27. Alex

            >I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that US standards about what constitutes an attractive man, and especially within nerdy subcultures, has moved in the East Asian direction of favoring the pretty, boyish look.

            >But this reinforces my point: there is a subset of men now looking not to Humphrey Bogart for their idea of masculinity, but to Orlando Bloom and the like.

            Is this true? Maybe it’s me getting old, but to the extent that I ever identified with nerd culture it implied not giving a damn how a guy looked. Not out of carelessness but out of a humane sense of equality.

            Also, as far as my insight into the habits of young ladies at the height of Disneys Pirates success goes, it was them (or Disney marketing) and not “a subset of men” who stylized Bloom to be the hottest thing since … well Timberlake or something. And as far as I can tell, they (the ladies, not Disney) meant it too.

            So rather than nerds following an Esat Asian stereotype for complex reasons this seems to be a case of nerds wanting to comply with the ladies’ expressed and revealed preferences.

            And in that model PUA is the same guys failing to do so and then falsely concluding that the ladies must have been lying about their preferences. Could that be it?

          28. Alex

            >It only takes one bad experience, or even a friend’s bad experience, or even bad experiences you read about on the internet, in order to make a woman avoid that kind of guy in general.

            Where “that kind of guy” refers to “a burning pit of rage and bitterness”, who would blame them. But I find it very hard to believe that a “gentle, unassuming surface layer” is a good predictor for that.

          29. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Alex:

            It’s not that being gentle and unassuming is the predictor.

            It’s that a certain kind of fashion and grooming style is a predictor for guys who say: “Why don’t these heartless bitches like me? I’m so goddamn gentle and unassuming! So fuck it, I’m going to be of those asshole ‘bad boys’ who treats women poorly.”

          30. Arbitrary_greay

            Re: Protocol
            Yep, for pop culture world, (and thus arguably aesthetic-driven world) authenticity is the thing.
            Hip hop/rap, where is more overtly male-driven, has its obsession with a certain model of masculinity. Country music has another. Rock has its own.
            But as any sufficiently popular artist crosses into the realm of pop music, where authenticity isn’t so important, and fangirls have the most influence, everyone gets a whole lot prettier. And so most of the “breakout/crossover” male artists of any genre tends to be more of pretty boys than their peers.

            But back to authenticity. Your attitudes aren’t supposed to be learned, they’re supposed to be a part of you. A good ol’ homeboy from the country can do a stereotypical “aw shucks” chivalry routine, and it will come off more endearing than creepy. “White boy can’t dance/rap” mocks how a rich guy can’t understand or correctly emulate the attitudes of someone who grew up with systemic oppression on the streets. The white rapper bragging about their money and their hos is callous 1%, but the black rapper has the subtext of that being the end of their bootstrapping narrative.
            Same with chivalrous nerds. It’s not that they’re breaking a universal protocol, but that they’re breaking the protocol for their station. If you look like a nerd, you can’t act like a jock. Unless you also have copious amounts of money.

            @Nita:
            Yes, there is a “fake to to make it” aspect to fashion. But the key is that the clothes are supposed to help facilitate your mind to have your body convey the attractive sense of power/confidence. If you aren’t doing that, the body isn’t matching the clothes, and it’s not a convincing fake. Again, it’s not the clothes themselves. A uniform might give you the urge to stand/sit up straighter, a hoodie and baggie pants might have you slouching casually, both might give you the attitude to walk more purposefully, and it’s those behavioral changes the make the difference.

            @onyomi
            Wait, that’s not what I was going for? The key point was that the likes of Orlando Bloom and Justin Timberlake actually do spend a bunch of time making themselves look pretty. Dudes revile the pretty boy for being metrosexual (“cares so much about feminine aesthetics that they no longer resemble a regular heterosexual man”) while ignoring said pretties’ hordes of screaming fangirls, (and older women!) indicating that women find that attractive.
            Feminists perceive the MRAs to be chasing after an undesirable form of masculinity, defined by it’s opposition to femininity, which has worrying implications as to how they would perceive the worth of women. And this isn’t an East/West thing. Asians mock boybands, too.

          31. Vox Imperatoris

            Your attitudes aren’t supposed to be learned, they’re supposed to be a part of you. A good ol’ homeboy from the country can do a stereotypical “aw shucks” chivalry routine, and it will come off more endearing than creepy.

            Exactly. No one wants the obvious impression that their date is trying to pull of some unnatural, forced act. They want the other person to be himself.

            The hard truth is: they want him to be himself and be likable, charismatic, funny, smart, polite, etc. So some kind of blatant affectation like wearing an old-fashioned hat (but not having the style truly consistent with it) or trying to kiss women on the hand, is just weird and off-putting.

            On the other hand, if your whole personal style throughout your life is to be some kind of debonair 30s guy, that’s sort of unusual, but you’re walking the walk and more likely to get away with it. Even that sort of thing is kind of suspicious, though. I once knew a girl from Nevada who spoke with the fakest half-British, half-Mid-Atlantic accent you’ve ever heard of. And people sort of rolled their eyes at her behind her back because it was ridiculous.

          32. Alex

            >But back to authenticity. Your attitudes aren’t supposed to be learned, they’re supposed to be a part of you.

            I’m not convinced. My example was specifically chosen to illustrate the point of people decidedly not growing up in a world where everybody carries a comb and looks like Johnny Cash and coming across as perfectly authentic while doing so. To me it seems to be very clear that they saw something they liked and embraced it until it became “a part of them”. How do you differentiate that from “learned”? Like I said, none of them has an actual shared background with Cash.

            Granted though it is at least easy to see the concept these guys are embracing. What “the fedora” is trying to embrace, other than a fleeting fashion, I cannot possibly tell. Maybe that is the problem we are discussing here.

            >but that they’re breaking the protocol for their station.

            Hmm, I am very allergic to “nerds need to know their station” rhetoric or rather to “x need to know their station” for any x. Perhaps you want to elaborate?

            >Wait, that’s not what I was going for? The key point was that the likes of Orlando Bloom and Justin Timberlake actually do spend a bunch of time making themselves look pretty. Dudes revile the pretty boy for being metrosexual (“cares so much about feminine aesthetics that they no longer resemble a regular heterosexual man”) while ignoring said pretties’ hordes of screaming fangirls, (and older women!) indicating that women find that attractive.

            With you so far.

            >Feminists perceive the MRAs to be chasing after an undesirable form of masculinity, defined by it’s opposition to femininity, which has worrying implications as to how they would perceive the worth of women.

            Wait, what? What does “an undesirable form of masculinity” refer to? Timberlake/Bloom or something else?

          33. Dr Dealgood

            As a natural experiment into what makes women uncomfortable about neckbeards, I recommend losing >100 lbs while not otherwise changing your personality or social position.

            You start seeing really funny stuff, like a woman who complained to a mutual friend that your presence made her feel uncomfortable suddenly approaching you in the grocery store and complaining that you don’t spend enough time with her. Or going from hearing “I have a boyfriend” to learning about a girl’s boyfriend from her landlord after the fact.

            It’s really very simple, women are just as superficial as men are. Women will forgive nearly any amount of “creepy” behavior from an attractive man for the same reason men put up with the faults of attractive women. And vice versa, as in the case of neckbeards and their female equivalents.

          34. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Alex:

            I’m not convinced. My example was specifically chosen to illustrate the point of people decidedly not growing up in a world where everybody carries a comb and looks like Johnny Cash and coming across as perfectly authentic while doing so. To me it seems to be very clear that they saw something they liked and embraced it until it became “a part of them”. How do you differentiate that from “learned”? Like I said, none of them has an actual shared background with Cash.

            I guess it’s not “learned vs. innate” but “integrated vs. superficial”. If that’s just your style, practiced consistently, to be the “Johnny Cash guy”, you can get away with it. But it’s not good if people perceive it just as something you are affecting to pick up women.

            Also, there’s a limit to how “weird” or outdated a style can be to allow you to get away with it. You can act like Johnny Cash, but you can’t act like Henry VIII or George Washington—or dress in a kimono as a white person.

            Some things just seem very inauthentic, often for cultural reasons that may be unfortunate. For instance, there is what I call the “black professor accent”: the accent which enunciates every sound of every word just a little too carefully. The reasons for it are totally understandable (and you mainly hear it among older people), but it sounds false.

            Wait, what? What does “an undesirable form of masculinity” refer to? Timberlake/Bloom or something else?

            I think it’s the “He-Man Woman-Hater” kind of attitude. Or focusing on how to be a real man with a real beard who eats real food and drinks real liquor. And whose ideal is some kind of cross between Ernest Hemmingway and Sean Connery. Including the idea that what women “really want” is to be treated roughly and slapped when they get too hysterical.

          35. Alex

            >It’s really very simple …

            I suspect what stereotypical nerds and stereotypical feminists have in common is a dislike of simple things.

          36. arbitrary_greay

            @Alex:
            Re: rock culture. Vox pretty much answers this, and it’s analogue to the genuine feelings behind “fake geek” anger. The rock fan that appears to have taken on rock culture because they love rock is authentic. They personally understand and identify with the behaviors that come with the visible markers of it. (Also there’s less likelihood of cultural appropriation muddling things up at this point in rock history)

            Re: “need to know their station” rhetoric. I’m not defending it. I agree that it’s fucked up. Authenticity culture is rooted in labelling and categorizing people, and needs for them to stick to those categories. Which is one of the reasons I don’t give much weight to authenticity in pop culture.

            Re: “undesirable form of masculinity.” Masculinity that sneers that everything feminine (ain’t no time to care about my looks, that for sissies!) could easily blur into hatting all things feminine, including the thing defined as its epitome/source, women.
            So people who embrace feminine-coded activities like caring about their hair, fashion, makeup, etc., like pretty male celebrities, are less likely to dismiss women’s perspectives. They’re seeeensitive. They caaaare about you. They notice that you’re beautiful, even when you don’t think you’re beautiful. (paraphrased from One Direction’s first hit)
            If classic stoic masculinity abhors that, then what does their idea of providing for a woman even mean? Especially in modern times, when women provide the essentials for themselves, then men need to provide new things, like emotional support and empathy.

            Also, I agree with Dr. Dealgood. Hot people can get away with a lot more than un-hot people. Have, say, Robert Pattinson show up in a stained T-shirt and boxers, ruffled hair, 5 o’ clock shadow in full force, and fedora/trilby, and you get a horde of fangirls squeeing over the sexiness.
            (I mean, we’ve got a thread in this post about how disliking people with punchable faces.)

          37. Nornagest

            Maybe it’s me getting old, but to the extent that I ever identified with nerd culture it implied not giving a damn how a guy looked. Not out of carelessness but out of a humane sense of equality.

            Maybe to some extent that’s true, especially in terms of grooming and general self-maintenance — though “humane sense of equality” is a step too charitable, I think.

            But nerd fashion is a thing. It was a thing even before every hipster in Portland started wearing an Atari T-shirt one size too small.

          38. Nornagest

            Same with chivalrous nerds. It’s not that they’re breaking a universal protocol, but that they’re breaking the protocol for their station. If you look like a nerd, you can’t act like a jock. Unless you also have copious amounts of money.

            No, this is off base. Jocks — to the extent that there is a jock culture, at least after high school and outside pro sports — don’t do the fake chivalry act. There is a subtext in some readings of the trope that “m’lady” will drop the act under pressure and start acting like a bro, but that’s wrong too; bro culture is a culture, it’s not some kind of primitive behavior to which men default, and “m’lady” won’t have the exposure to it he needs to imitate it any better than he’s imitating an 18th-century aristocrat.

            I’m not saying that there aren’t some aspects of “know your place” floating around w.r.t. nerds, but this isn’t how it plays out.

          39. onyomi

            “The hard truth is: they want him to be himself and be likable, charismatic, funny, smart, polite, etc.”

            This is a big problem not only with dating, but with life in general: everyone says “be yourself,” but if that self doesn’t happen to be smart, charming, funny, confident, etc. then don’t expect to get anywhere in your career, with the opposite sex, etc.

            Strangely enough, “be yourself” can be a weirdly aggressive, selfish thing to say to a person, though it sounds accepting and kind.

            At its most well-meaning/helpful, it means, “be the best you you can be.” In other words, don’t necessarily stay exactly the same, but find the attitude, fashion, etc. that works for you. Everything looks better on hot people, true, but it’s also true that some haircuts, styles, attitudes, etc. are more suited to certain head shapes, body shape, personalities, etc. and “being yourself,” can just mean “be the best you can be, given your particular configuration.”

            Less helpfully, lurking behind many “just be yourselfs” is a subtle “don’t get beyond your station,” I think. It is almost a way of saying, “my pattern recognizer knows the best people for [promotion, sex, friendship, marriage…]; now don’t go trying to muck it up by pretending to be something you aren’t. Reminds me of the story (which turned out to be fake) of the Chinese man divorcing his wife who gave birth to ugly children (as the story goes, she had had plastic surgery and he never knew). And this is why, I think, plastic surgery only looks good to the extent it isn’t perceived as plastic surgery.

            In other words, on some level, I think some people resent “fake-it-till-you-make-iters,” and arguably not entirely without good reason: after all, until they “make it” the person is, in fact, being fake. I don’t like that way of thinking, but I think it sometimes underlies the less generous form of “be yourself.”

          40. Nita

            I think “be yourself” is supposed to mean “don’t desperately try to hide literally everything that makes you you“. That is — feel free to fake confidence, but don’t fake your entire personality, as that would be exhausting, and you would end up stuck with people or jobs you hate.

          41. Vox Imperatoris

            @ Nita:

            I think it goes both ways.

            What you’re saying is the defensible motte. And it’s what I agree with.

            What onyomi is saying is the bailey, which is the message often received in practice.

          42. Nancy Lebovitz

            I think the benign interpretation of “be yourself” is “you’re basically alright, but your anxiety is screwing you up”. The problem is that people don’t know how to just stop being anxious.

          43. Arbitrary_greay

            @nornagest
            I guess I was thinking of jock in the Petyon Manning sense, where they actually go out on the traditional types of dates, and so open car doors, hold doors open, pull out chairs, take jackets, offer their own jackets, pay for meals. etc.
            But that just kind of goes back to body language confidence. A jock doing it like they were taught by their mother/grandmother, assuredly, feels different from when a smarmy dude or a nervously clumsy dude does it. (to varying degrees of reception and interpretations of motivation)

          44. Agronomous

            Re: “be yourself”….

            Mrs. Agronomous has definitively informed me that every time my female friends told me that, what they meant was:

            “Be yourself, but dress like someone else.”

        2. dndnrsn

          Solution: do BJJ and striking. The fun rolling will keep your attention and will get you used to an opponent exerting themselves against you.

          I’ve started doing some stuff with striking, and while I am complete garbage, and not doing full-force sparring yet, I freeze up less than I expected I would.

          The advantage of lifting is that if you’re doing it right, it’s safer than full-contact martial arts. That’s a big if, though.

        3. Psmith

          Right. I agree that boxing is best if you can hack it, but there are lots of reasons people can’t–apart from the head trauma thing, being nearsighted (common around these parts, I imagine–it’s what got me) makes it very hard and increases your risk of detaching a retina.

          So grappling is a second-best option. I wrestled for a while, and maybe I was just starting from an exceptionally low baseline, but pretty much from the beginning I was sparring at a level (not of skill, I mean, but intensity and lack of structure and so on) that required me to deal with fear and develop some wholesome aggression. (For my second Starship Troopers quotation ITT, “that isn’t fear, it isn’t anything important-it’s just like the trembling of an eager racehorse in the starting gate.” Just so.). I have only a tiny bit of experience with judo and none at all with BJJ, but I expect they would be pretty similar, depending on the coach.

        4. David Friedman

          “We need to invent a martial art when you are allowed to do fun stuff to each other from day 1. ”

          SCA combat–simulated medieval foot combat–comes pretty close. You get to hit someone over the head with a sword, assuming he doesn’t manage to block with his shield. Whether it’s sparring from day one would depend on the instructor, but it’s full force sparring from pretty early.

          1. TheDividualist

            Yes, but that is so obviously unreal. LARPing. I love watching in TV Jown Snow training the recruits of the Night Watch but doing SCA isn’t just like doing standup D&D?

            I mean, 25 years ago, I was one of the guys in D&D (AD&D) club rolling dice and yes I was of the stereotype that is common there, the guy with horrible clothes, haircut, and social skills, which type is described as dorky, neckbeardish or nerdy. And I didn’t really understand myself and I didn’t really understand others as well there, but I sense we are somehow not doing life right.

            Anyhow, long story short, I think we were so much into fantasy because we wanted to escape reality because we sucked at certain aspects of it.

            So I went to improve myself in various ways, mostly physical, and I developed a strong immune reaction against fantasy escapism: it is a sign that one aspect of one’s life is not in order. Now my fence is not fully watertight, sometimes I do engage in fantasies about some kind of new tribal vikingish barbarism but try to keep it in check.

            So when one does boxing, that is easy to think it is are improvement, because it is close enough to a bar brawl, which I don’t intend to participate in, but the psychological improvement of not being afraid of aggressive large guys is something entirely real.

            LARPing would feel like escapism again and thus denial. But then again it can be the SCA is not just LARPing.

            An alternative could be HEMA. It is still not very useful for real life, but not LARPing either. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-eHZydEhJ4 again of course it is possible SCA is not LARPing either I really don’t know it.

          2. David Friedman

            I haven’t done LARP combat, but I gather it’s with padded swords. SCA combat the swords are made of rattan, which is pretty much like wood in its characteristics. Blows only count if hard enough to injure through armor if struck with a real sword (as judged by the person hit). Fake swords and real armor mean you can really fight.

            It’s artificial in some ways–no wrestling allowed, for instance. But it’s exhausting and can be fast and feels pretty real.

          3. Vox Imperatoris

            @ David Friedman:

            Blows only count if hard enough to injure through armor if struck with a real sword (as judged by the person hit).

            How does this work? If it’s just by the honor system, things can’t be too competitive. You not only have intentional bias but unintentional bias.

            I used to do fencing in high school, and there of course you have the electrified system of lights and buzzers. Before that (and still often used by my instructor in practice and in large groups where there is a shortage of equipment), they used a system of four judges, one in each corner. Points were awarded by majority decision, with the referee as the tiebreaker.

            People hit harder when points are being given by human judges, since you have to really get a good hit in to convince a judge. Triggering a spring is easier.

            Of course, foil and sabre fencing also the concept of “right-of-way”, which is confusing. But that’s judged by the referee. (The purpose of the concept is to decide who gets the point if the two fencers strike each other at the same time. Epee fencing says both get the point and dispenses with right-of-way.)

    4. Alex

      Where I live, if you want to sound world-wise you’d say “the progressives in the US are more conservative than our conservatives” or something like that. Which is to say that this blog, of all places, is my only point of contact with thoughts from whatever you hold to be the opposite of “progressive” in the political spectrum.

      So I guess what I’m saying is that observing a Universe in which at the same time it is true that $I know from prior comments, that “TheDividualist” is not an idiot$ and $”TheDividualist” uses phrases like ‘a brain incompletely masculinized’ which only an idiot would do hereabouts.$ is very enlightening for me. And I mean this as a sincere compliment.

      To be sure, the new information is not $other smart people endorse different worldviews than myself$, that is trivial, it is $there are smart people, that endorse this particular worldview$. Having realized this, what does it tell me about this worldview? So, to bring this to a full circle, once you conceed “a functioning pattern-recognition module”, shouldn’t you be more careful about dismissing whatever worldview that module appears to be “trapped” in?

      1. TheDividualist

        >Where I live, if you want to sound world-wise you’d say “the progressives in the US are more conservative than our conservatives” or something like that.

        For most of Europe that would only be true in the strictest political sense and mostly just economic policy: universal healthcare, paid maternal leave and all that. And I think most Europeans just consider these pragmatic stuff taxpayers get and not a moralistic stuff for the poor.

        But if you look at culture before the astonishing refugees-are-welcome period changed it, there was none of the US Progressive Holy-Moral-Crusades attitude. Most Europeans were just cynical about politics and mostly minding their own business. Even today, the hysteric political correctness, SJWery, about gays and feminism is still far less in Europe. The eggshell-walking, tongue-watching that characterizes work or school in the US does not really exist, I worked over 15 years in office jobs in various European countries and never ever ever had a feminist at work report me to HR for saying something insensitive or nothing even remotely like that.

        So I would say, culturally US Progressives are from an average European angle far-left, far-progressive.

        Economically, yes, Europe is statist. But that is not a Progressive trait, that just how things are done. Universal healthcare does not carry the mood of bleed-heart for the poor, it carries the mood of I pay enough taxes so I want to pay no hospital bills. It is selfish in general.

        Statism doesn’t imply Progressivism – it is just a unique feature of American culture that conservatives are kind of anarchistic. But statist, paternalistic and yet conservative attitudes have a long history in Europe – just look at Bismarck, just look at how Churchill supported the NHS. This didn’t make them Progressive. Just statist.

        Now, as for incompletely masculinized brains, there is a ton of research of how both prenatal and serum testosterone works. Amongst others, it makes you “not too nice”. Now, Scott can be I think realistically characterized as “too nice”. Why could that be wrong? Because you could sacrifice your own interests or your own in-group and ultimately you could too-nice to exactly the wrong people. So I don’t see why would it be so that usually idiots say things like this. If you read websites like the Art of Manliness it is clearly non-idiotic. If you read Jack Donovan’s The Way Of Men (La Voie Virile, whoa, that is a brutal one, but clearly non-idiotic. And one good way to start with the research is Kemper’s Social Structure And Testosterone. It is 25 years old – sociobiologists have figured this out already a generation, and yet it is even today not common knowledge.

        The problem is prejudice. Specifically the kind of prejudice that at high school practically every geek thinks the jocks are idiots, because if he did not think so he would feel inferior and that feels bad. After all the jocks are happier. Popularity, girls, all that. This carries over into assuming anything that sounds even remotely jockish is probably stupid. But that is mostly just a prejudice. Not-nice, even unethical, that can be, yes, after all it has hints of aggressiveness and competitiveness, that is a part of the way of men. But that is not the same as stupid. The funniest part is those geeks who happily geek into wars, military tech and von Clausewitz and then assumes the guy who behaves a bit like an aggressive bull or the guy (like me) who does not always fully disapprove of that is stupid. As if it was not fundamentally the same thing!

        1. Alex

          Sounds true.

          One thing though. If it is all about being nice to the right or wrong people, something seems to have gone wrong on the way. Basic alpha-male niceness reasoning suggests as far as I can understand to be nice towards women and agressive towards other male. But what we observe is agressiveness towards women and camaraderie among the supposed alphas. “Bro before ho” as discussed elsewhere in the thread is an example.

          1. Anonymous

            Where did you get the idea that the self-appointed alphas are nice to women?

            A large part of the red pill is to STOP being nice to women a priori, and start being half-as-nice in reciprocation. If a woman gives you two compliments, you give her one. If she gives a case of beer, you give her a pack of skittles. Every time, reciprocation should come after niceness from the woman.

            Another part is that in the red pill view, women are to be regarded as non-agenty – similar to children. They may posture for agenthood, sure, but red pill advises to ignore that and patronize them.

          2. Alex

            “Where did you get the idea that the self-appointed alphas are nice to women? ”

            You misread me there. I wanted to say that is what I would expect of an alpha as opposed to what I observe.

          3. Anonymous

            Being alpha is all about getting women. Being nice to women does not get women.

            (In the olden days, being nice did get you women, but the niceness was directed at the woman’s parents, to show that you would be a reliable, responsible, good husband. Now that women are free to choose their own mates, this approach no longer works.)

          4. Andrew

            I still think the whole “nice to women” thing is a red herring that a lot of PUAs latched on to. I’ve been helpful/nice/supporting to women in my life for decades, and never had any trouble finding willing partners- as the PUA community suggests elsewhere, it’s mostly in standing out from the crowd, personal confidence, and general good looks and grooming.

            After that, I imagine whether you’re nice or an asshole is a lot less relevant. Another way of saying this is that niceness doesn’t matter- it’s good on it’s own, but it doesn’t help much *or* hurt one’s chances.

          5. Dr Dealgood

            @Andrew,

            It really depends on the scene.

            In Day Game, which is the closest to “old-school” dating behavior, being (somewhat) nice can be useful. Your main goal in a day approach is to start a conversation without looking like a rapist. You can and should tease a little but if you come off as rude or pushy you have lost.

            In Club Game, the birthplace of PUA, it’s exactly the opposite. You need to be pushing boundaries or else you will go home alone. That’s where neg hits, aggressive kino, smoking as a tactic, etc all come from. The club is an unpleasant and brutal environment and you need to be an asshole if you want to get laid there.

            Either way, being too nice is more of a concern than being too rude. Even a day approach is outside the bounds of normal politeness.

          6. Alex

            I still think, that “alpha” is a very unfitting biological analogy for this kind of behaviour. Within the “alpha” “beta” “omega” analogy, why would you want to assert your dominance over the potential partner rather than over potential rivals?

          7. Leit

            Rule 1 is “be memorable”. Stand out. Mystery famously achieved this by peacocking, but later iterations of PUA seem to have realised that telling socially awkward young men to dress in a fashion that looks patently ridiculous is just asking for trouble.

            In a world where deferential treatment of women is the norm, cocky assholes are memorable.

          8. Alex

            “In a world where deferential treatment of women is the norm, ”

            We must be living on separate planets. Or, more likely, continents.

          9. BD Sixsmith

            Being alpha is all about getting women. Being nice to women does not get women.

            It’s really sad how “don’t suck up to women with the obvious intention of getting into their pants” gets read as “don’t be nice”.

        2. onyomi

          Though apparently telling someone their brain is insufficiently masculine is a bannable offense, and I can certainly see how that sounds insulting (even I, a not-very-manly man would find it insulting), I, personally have a kind of stereotype in the opposite direction: I find I don’t often like or have a ton of respect for extremely masculine men or extremely feminine women. Many of the nicest, most reasonable, most intelligent, most interesting people I’ve met in my life have been kind of androgynous and/or gender atypical.

          This is not to say, of course, that there aren’t plenty of very accomplished, smart, virtuous masculine men and feminine women, just that my anecdotal experience is to find it somewhat less likely.

          If I were to posit a just-so-story, it would be that very masculine men and very feminine women strike me as being more ruled by their hormones than their intellects. Relatedly, I think I find it harder to make friends with very masculine men and very feminine women because I feel like the sexual dynamics (competitiveness in the case of men, mutual attraction or the lack thereof in the case of women) tend to loom too large in the interpersonal interaction. Like, it feels like the world of “ladder theory,” which is sort of not a world I like living in.

          Also interesting to note that many gods and other spiritual creatures in world religion tend to be androgynous or even explicitly hermaphroditic (see Ardhana Isvara). Of course, to some extent one can think of this as just wanting to get around the weirdness of angels having penises and vaginas, but I think it’s more than that: perfected beings are complete unto themselves and have a more harmonious balance of feminine and masculine characteristics/yin and yang than humans.

          1. Alex

            >Though apparently telling someone their brain is insufficiently masculine is a bannable offense,

            I’d rather not discuss the ban, because in my experience this leads to nothing and anyways, I’m of the opinion that whoever pays for the traffics can show the door to whoever else he likes, no questions asked. So please see the following as a response to the comment and not the ban:

            >and I can certainly see how that sounds insulting (even I, a not-very-manly man would find it insulting),

            I feel differently. I don’t even believe that there is such thing as an insufficiently masculine brain. These words have little meaning. Like I said, to use them, one had to live in a very different set of values than me and being devalued within the other’s set of values would probably not hurt me in any way, because it is nothing I value myself. This does not change when The Dividualist explained his worldview. I can now see intellectually where he is coming from, but emotionally it still means nothing to me.