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Links 3/16: Klapaucius And URL

“All infinite regresses are at most three levels deep”, versus the US military’s R4D program to build a radar detector detector detector detector.

Jury fines Gawker $115 million + for releasing a sex tape taken of wrestler Hulk Hogan without his consent. Key insane quote by Gawker founder Nick Denton: “We’re fighting for the truth to hold elites accountable…whether that light exposes a Florida celebrity having a swingers party invited by the host to have sex with his wife — whether it’s that or whether it’s the fact that the system is rigged and people can’t make it.”

The Thirty-Six Strategems of ancient China. Comes off as a cross between Machiavelli and a Chinese restaurant trying too hard to sound mysteriously Oriental. Strategem One is “Cross the sea without the Emperor’s knowledge”, Fifteen is “lure the tiger off its mountain lair”, Twenty-One is “slough off the cicada’s golden shell”.

Inside the Israeli army unit that recruits autistic teens.

Slate: Until 1950, US Weathermen Were Forbidden From Talking About Tornadoes. Officials worried that talk of tornadoes would create massive public panic; Midwestern businessmen worried about “giving potential investors the idea that their region was twister prone.”

Some of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies sell the service of circumventing annoying regulations. The unfortunately named Nurx promises to (legally) get you birth control without making you visit a doctor.

Meredith Patterson at Status 451 tells the story of the time she discovered an error in the preprint of her paper after 68 news organizations had already reported on it.

Eliezer Yudkowsky and Alexei Andreev announce Arbital, which they describe as “an attempt to solve online explanations”. Looks like they’re using an explanation of Bayes’ Rule (what else?) as the showcase.

New study shows that children born just before the school cutoff date (ie those who enter school a year earlier) are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD compared to peers. Obvious implication is that people overdiagnose kids who are only struggling because they’re younger. Much more speculative implication that would nevertheless be consistent with previous research: starting school too early causes ADHD.

University of Missouri’s big protests last year were such an economic disaster that the college has had to institute budget cuts and a hiring freeze.

Most single genes have only a tiny effect either way on risk of schizophrenia. And then there’s SETD1A, which increases your risk by thirty-five times. Seems to be involved in regulating methylation. Implication of major epigenetic role in schizophrenia?

My alma mater Hamilton College announces that their graduation speaker this year will be Peter Thiel. If he needs inspiration, I have a very Thielesque graduation speech he’s welcome to use.

A couple of weeks ago I linked to a very silly study on feminist glaciology that was going around. Now the author reflects on his newfound fame as the face of Everything That Is Wrong With Postmodernism In Academia, insists that feminist glaciology is more important now than ever.

The newest attempt to build a libertarian society is Fort Galt down in Chile. Sure, mock the idea of building a libertarian commune where everyone lives together in a big building, but…wait a second. Apartments cost $10,000? To buy? And it’s fantastically beautiful waterfront property? Apparently everything I have ever heard about the economic advantages of libertarianism is true, and then some.

John Ioannidis: Evidence-based medicine has been hijacked. And the associated RetractionWatch interview.

Reddit now has an r/AskTrumpSupporters, but if it’s anything like r/AskReddit expect a lot of “I’m not a Trump supporter, but…”

Eliezer Yudkowsky on the Multiple Stage Fallacy – eg “For X to happen, we’d need A, B, C, D, E, and F to all happen, and when we multiply together the chance of all of those the probability is miniscule; therefore X will not happen.” Related: Jeff Kaufman defends himself against accusations of Multiple Stage Fallacy.

Cultural transmission seems to be sex-biased; that is, mothers are more likely to transmit culture to their daughters than their sons, consistently across various non-human animal species. Why?

California’s OpenJustice initiative has made mountains of data on crime and punishment available to the general public, just in case you want mountains of data on crime and punishment.

Related: More immigrants means less crime.

MIRI is hiring type theorists. I didn’t realize that was still a thing.

McDonalds says employee wage hikes have paid for themselves by decreasing turnover and increasing customer service. Executives respond by saying “Hurr durr we are morons who leave money on the ground for no reason”, smashing rocks against their own skulls.

University of Kent students to vote on construction of a 250 foot iron statue of Margaret Thatcher, about 2.5x the size of the Colossus of Rhodes. Kent University Conservative Association officials say they have launched the initiative partly to point out weaknesses in the university’s petition system but also partly because they want a 250 foot high iron statue of Margaret Thatcher.

Countries with fewer Jews in medieval times (usually because they kicked them out) remain poorer today. Possibly involves founder effects about where the great banks got started. Mooted as a possible explanation for the Northern Italy/Southern Italy wealth gap.

Republicans are probably not very credible leaders in the fight to protect campus free speech: NY lawmakers cut City University of New York funding by 30% to punish the college for allegations that they allowed anti-Semitic protests. But the Reddit commentary suggests this was just a cover for perfectly normal political vindictiveness.

Daily Kos: It’s Over, Gandalf: We Need To Unite Behind Saruman To Save Middle-Earth From Sauron. “Remember, you might not like having to support Saruman, but we live in a two tower system.”

Game theorist Robert Aumann has suggested to the Israeli military that they build an auto-retaliator that instantly bombs the Gaza Strip for every missile sent into Israel, so that Hamas knows with total certainty how things are going to work and nobody has to go through the “is it really morally okay to retaliate?” debate again for every missile launched.

The Major Trends In US Income Inequality Since 1947. Would you believe that the level of income inequality hasn’t changed since 1960? True if and only if you count income per person rather than per family. Does that mean supposed changes in income inequality are actually changes in family structure/composition? Also, someone on Twitter says the tax data tell a different story, though I can’t find them myself. (likely false, see here)

Free Northerner: The High IQ Homo Economicus. Warning: this is really alt-right, with all of the jargon and offensiveness that implies. I’m linking it anyway because it’s the best-laid-out explanation of an under-talked-about idea which seems to me vital to the project of having an intellectually defensible conservativism. Two major problems with conservativism: first, although it has fun using new genetic discoveries to mock socialist concepts of human malleability, a full biodeterminism would equally negate the conservative insistence on instilling traditional values – if things like conscientiousness and criminality are mostly genetic, why care if people have traditional values or not? Second, a bunch of atheist homosexual polyamorous feminist liberals are doing absolutely fine, and in fact statistically these people do better than traditional religious folk in a lot of ways. Northerner’s post solves both of these in one fell swoop: it theorizes that the genetically gifted have low impulsivity, low time-preference, etc and will succeed (almost) no matter what; these people support liberalism because they don’t need traditional morals and feel like such morals are bogging them down. The genetically unlucky are in great danger of social failure, but traditional values and culture are a guide for them to live their lives in ways that nevertheless let them flourish. For example, an upper-class Ivy Leaguer might be able to practice free love and experiment with drugs without serious consequences; a lower-class hillbilly might try exactly the same thing and end up a teenage single mother addicted to meth. Conservative ideas like chastity and avoiding drugs would be useless baggage tying the upper class down, but vital to the lower class’s continued success. This idea is very appealing in tying a lot of conservatives’ favorite hobby-horses together and making liberals look like the privileged bad guys throwing the lower class under the bus for the sake of the well-off, but thus far people have been content to raise it and let it speak for itself; the next step is for somebody to really start presenting evidence for or against.

Extremely related: Vox on “no excuses” discipline. Tough charter schools that make students wear uniforms and behave in regimented ways at the threat of harsh punishments seem to be almost miraculous in their ability to improve scores and outcomes among underperforming and minority students – for example, Vox says that “all the highest academic results ever produced for poor students and students of color have come from no-excuses schools, period” (though beware selection bias!). Needless to say, people are attacking them as probably racist and regressive, writing soulful songs about how they are the educational equivalent of racist cops shooting black teenagers (really!), and demanding their “radical overhaul”.

Speaking of “high” achievers, here’s a study on cannabis legalization and students’ academic achievement.

It was a cool theory, but childhood antibiotic exposure does not cause later weight gain.

There’s something oddly fascinating about dash cam car crash videos.

Immigrant men are much more likely to be employed than US men. I don’t know how much of this is that immigration selects for healthy people who want to work, how much of it is due to ease of illegally hiring them at less than minimum wage, and how much is due to the “immigrants do the jobs Americans won’t” effect.

Paying people $10 increases their willingness to register as organ donors.

Contra past studies claiming that the stress of poverty decreases cognitive and decision-making ability, a new paper finds that poor people do no worse in these areas before payday (when money is temporarily scarce) as opposed to after payday (when money is temporarily in easier supply). But are we sure this is the right time scale to be thinking on?

Horse wears tweed suit to symbolize the importance of…aw, forget it, just look at the picture of the horse in the tweed suit.

Medical marijuana seems to very significantly decrease chronic opiate use in pain patients, which is a big deal since chronic opiate use is terrible.

Autophagy watch: Britain’s National Union of Students calls on university LGBT societies to drop representatives for gay men from their leadership because “they do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community” and “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia [are] unfortunately more likely to occur when the society is dominated by white gay men.”

43 toddlers killed or injured someone with a gun last year. 40/43 seem to be boys, a surprising fact which cries out for more explanation.

Larger portions are probably not a driving factor behind the obesity epidemic.

Alice Eagly is not impressed with the research showing more diverse teams/organizations/corporate boards do better. “Despite advocates’ insistence that women on boards enhance corporate performance and that diversity of task groups enhances their performance, research findings are mixed, and repeated meta-analyses have yielded average correlational findings that are null or extremely small…Rather than ignoring or furthering distortions of scientific knowledge to fit advocacy goals, scientists should serve as honest brokers who communicate consensus scientific findings to advocates and policy makers in an effort to encourage exploration of evidence-based policy options.”

♫ “William Henry Harrison. My name is William Henry Harrison. And there’s really no comparison. To any other shoooooooow.” ♫

Weird Sun Twitter illustrates my complaint about the concept of “sea-lioning” from the last Open Thread.

People prefer traditional-looking architecture and are willing to pay extra for it, so why aren’t we building more of it?

British minority voters are no more likely to vote for a candidate of their own race (except Pakistanis). Would be curious how the same analysis would turn out in the US – many black people obviously loved Obama, but I’m not sure how many black people who weren’t Democrats already did. Also, Rubio and Cruz both lost to Trump (Trump!) among Latinos.

I haven’t confirmed this is true, but if so it’s really interesting: Private non-violent police company successfully enforces order in parts of Detroit. Apparently they’re hired by owners of big buildings in the ghetto to decrease crime and misbehavior in their building thus raising land values, and their secret to success is being very caring and understanding to people and engaging with the community. Leftists and anarcho-capitalists, you may now start competing to see who can shout “THIS PROVES WE ARE RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING” louder.

Tracking (eg putting all the high-achieving students together in a separate class) improves test scores for high-achieving students, especially minorities, without any negative effects on the lower-achieving.

Maybe sort of related?: students whose teachers cheat to give them a higher test score have better life outcomes. I predict later we find this isn’t true.

The New York Times with an unexpected theory why Hillary outperforms Sanders among blacks: black people are twice as likely to think the economy is doing well. Interesting to consider alongside the graph at the bottom of my last post.

Freddie deBoer writes a white paper supporting standardized testing in colleges. His position is that private colleges need to be held accountable and we need proof that online courses don’t work, but American Interest points out that it might break the power of education-industrial complex if people who go to less prestigious institutions have an objective way to prove they’re just as good as people who went to more prestigious ones. And I will add that it might incentivize colleges to admit based on something vaguely resembling merit if they want higher test scores. Overall this would be amazing it it happened.

Someone has written a response to my Non-Libertarian FAQ. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but already some strong criticism in the subreddit.

This Aerospace Company Wants To Bring Supersonic Travel Back. NYC to London in 3.5 hours for $5,000 round trip, planned for a few years from now. I am not a marketing expert, but I feel like it is a bad idea to name your experimental aircraft company “Boom”. Update: Virgin Airlines plans to order the jets.

New York Times on neighborhood effects. Previously one of the stronger arguments against the existence of neighborhood effects was that the Moving To Opportunity trial, a large randomized experiment considered the best in this area, had found no effect. Now Chetty and others reanalyze the data a few years later and find that the extra few years have allowed children who were younger when they Moved To Opportunity to grow up, and these younger children have strong positive effects. Therefore we can conclude that moving to a better neighborhood when you’re young is very helpful, and when you’re older it’s much less helpful. This escapes the genetic confound objection because it’s a randomized trial; it escapes the publication bias objection because it’s a huge experiment that would be reported no matter what and in fact was reported earlier as having a null result. The only objection left is the experimenter effect objection – Chetty is known as somebody who strongly believes in the effects of social mobility and finds it in all of his experiments. Overall this greatly increased my belief in the reality and importance of neighborhood effects.

Eric Idle (as restaurant patron): What’s on the election coverage menu this morning?
Vikings: Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump. Lovely Trump! Wonderful Trump!

Looking for a May Day present for the socialist in your life? Try Queue: The Game, designed by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance so nobody ever forgets how complicated it was to obtain basic goods under Soviet communism.

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970 Responses to Links 3/16: Klapaucius And URL

  1. Doctor Mist says:

    I’m late to the party, and perhaps everyone has moved on. I’ve read through the comments about the “Free Northerner” post, and I’m struck by how conspicuously absent is consideration of one key possibility.

    There is lots of pushback, condemning it as elitist, paternalistic, fascist, master/slave, what have you. But Free Northerner might well not disagree with any of those characterizations. His whole assertion is that most of humanity does not have an elite level of intelligence, time preference, and so on, and that crafting a robust society must take that into account. The invisible hand of cultural evolution did just that, but its good work has been undone by a century of elites who believe they can do better and gaily tear down Chesterton’s fence.

    Lots of people reacted viscerally to his claim — as did I! — but didn’t seem to address its truth or falsity, just its unsavoriness.

    I’ve been a libertarian for a long time, and I’d certainly like to believe that the greatest good for the greatest number would be achieved if everybody could plan and live their lives as they see fit, unencumbered by the State or the Church or Mrs. Grundy.

    But: What if that is just not so? What if, as a matter of objective fact about human nature, most people will not thrive in such a free society? What if most people can reach their highest potential only in a society in which the norms constrain them in ways I would find obnoxious? (I’m struck by the parallel with song and poetry. Poetry without rhyme or meter is insipid. Some of the most revered poems are sonnets, with a strict and confining structure.)

    I do not assert that most of humanity is unfit for liberty. But if they are, it seems to me that you have only two choices.

    You can say, “Nevertheless, liberty is the ultimate good, and the thriving of those who can thrive in liberty more than makes up for the suffering of those who cannot.”

    Or you can say, “Some of us are able to thrive in liberty; nevertheless they owe it to their less fortunate brothers to set an example, by constraining their behavior to norms under which the merely average can still thrive.”

    I don’t much like either of these; I’d be much happier believing that everybody is capable of thriving in liberty. But even more than that, I want to believe what’s true. What is?

  2. Paul Torek says:

    “students whose teachers cheat to give them a higher test score have better life outcomes. I predict later we find this isn’t true.”

    I think the effect is real. I’ll bet you $100, to be given to your favorite charity if you’re right and mine if you’re wrong. A third party – pretty much any of your regular commenters would be OK by me – can serve as judge. You keep an eye out for subsequent research, and I’ll (erratically) do likewise, but I trust your curiosity and obsessiveness to reveal any such research even if it goes against your prediction.

  3. Y Stefanov says:

    1. People have different portfolio of abilities (most largely genetically influenced and shaped by different ancestral environments)
    2. They also have different “life strategies,” usually based on those abilities/predispositions – life history theory, R vs K-selection etc.
    3. By definition a given environment (social, economical, etc.) may favor a set of abilities at a given time
    4. Also by definition, a strategy’s effectiveness depends on what other people’s strategies are (which is a dynamic part of the environment) and their distribution
    5. It follows that “specialization” in (mis)behavior is a rational and adaptive response
    6. The fact that “white trash” people could perform marginally “better” on some metrics in environment without liberties or in an environment of externally applied discipline is besides the point because they will still be at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the self-restrained elite and not competitive. They have to play and win at different games (e.g. live fast, have fun, have more kids, risk/lose more). That’s basically how/why we have two sexes that optimize different things – volume versus investment. One is not inherently better than the other (there’s by necessity equilibrium) because if everyone was one, the incentive to be the other is too strong.
    7. Our paternalistic instinct to make these people more like us is a doomed enterprise to turn Them into poor facsimiles of Us.

    • ” because they will still be at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the self-restrained elite and not competitive. ”

      It sounds as though you view the world as a fixed sum game. If the poor get twice as productive and the elite get three times as productive, the poor are “less competitive” than before but better off.

      • Y Stefanov says:

        you miss the point. In a mostly free society the poor are poor for a reason. Not being poor for us (I’m poor) is like swimming upstream. The cost/benefit analysis for the poor being twice as productive is different from that of the rich-to-be being three times as productive. It’s about effort and competitive advantage. Why don’t frogs decide to be ‘better’ parents and have fewer offspring that have better chance of individual survival (like eagles do)? They may never be as successful as eagles but may be marginally better than currently after all? Because they’re occupying a local maxima and cannot transition without risking being outbred, swamped, and extinguished by ‘traditional’ frogs before being competitive enough to become the Eagles of the frog world (or more likely a different species altogether). People intuitively know/feel this. There’s a significant path dependency built in where original states differences matter a lot. This wouldn’t be a big problem if there was not an intensifying assortative mating phenomenon (itself an adaptive behavior). It’s a bit like asking diminutive Asian kids to work out more so they can be better football team prospects. Technically it may be true but it’s not an optimal strategy for them to spend their time and increase their odds from 1/1000 to 5/1000 when their black counterparts are already at 50/1000. You’d be correct if everything in life was about success/status/accomplishment (or football in my analogy) in its current manifestation but this isn’t the true universal currency of life. It’s only true for the reigning elite (who get to print such currency much easier and have a vested interest in its value) and the exchange rate is not favorable for the poor….

  4. M says:

    Queue game was recently threatened with ban in Russia, because instructions contain brief historic notes with facts unpleasant for Russian propaganda. Like fact that communism was imposed in Poland by foreign invasion and resulted in things like economical collapse and violation of human rights on massive scale.

    There are demands to remove these historical notes, otherwise all products of game’s distributor (Trefl) will be banned in Russia.

    (sources: http://wiadomosci.onet.pl/kraj/ipn-rosja-domaga-sie-wycofania-gry-kolejka/znc4hx http://www.polskieradio.pl/78/1227/Artykul/1595979%2CIPN-Rosja-domaga-sie-wycofania-gry-Kolejka http://wiadomosci.com/rosja-zada-wycofania-rynku-polskiej-gry-kolejka/)

    BTW, Queue game is highly playable, one of the most popular games in my family.

    • feh says:

      and thanks to amazon’s amazing algorithmic price setting, as of right now you can get your very own copy for the low low price of just $469.

  5. lunatic says:

    From the Ioannidis article: “A senior professor of cardiology told a friend of mine that I should not be too outspoken; otherwise, Albanian hit men may strangle me in my office.”

    There’s something about cardiologists.

  6. JJREEVE says:

    As far as infinite regresses that actually only end up going 3 layers. I once posted a comment to a webcomic I read showing someone how to post a link that had 4 layers of regression (3 of which weren’t actually needed) before I got bored and stopped typing.

    “To show someone how HTML is supposed to look just use some witchhuntery skills to hide it’s nature from Disqus while still leaving it clear to fellow commenters.

    So to show someone how to post a link, simply show them.
    <a href=website.URL>text that is seen</a>.

    Of course to show you that text what this one actually typed was.
    <<strong>a href=website.URL</strong>>text that is seen<<strong>/a</strong>>

    And this leads to the fact that showing you that text required me to type.
    <<<em>strong</em>>a href=website.URL<<em>/strong</em>>>text that is seen<<<em>strong</em>>/a<<em>/strong</em>>>

    Which is a chunk of text, that if you want to show someone else you must type.
    <<<<u>em</u>>strong<<u>/em</u>>>a href=website.URL<<<u>em</u>>/strong<<u>/em</u>>>>text that is seen<<<<u>em</u>>strong<<u>/em</u>>>/a<<<u>em</u>>/strong<<u>/em</u>>>>”

    • Aegeus says:

      Most of the added complexity is because you’re adding new HTML tags at every step. Does Disqus not allow you to escape angle brackets?

      EDIT: Yes you can. This site uses &-encoding. <i>

      To type that, you just need to type &lt;i&gt;

    • Outis says:

      That’s how I feel about efforts to reintroduce wolves in various European countries.

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      …what’s interesting is that this is written from a pro-regulation perspective, and I use exactly the same arguments as to why regulation doesn’t work.

      Because both government and industry are engaging in exactly the same process; tool along until something bad happens, and then react, then relax their standards as time goes on until the bad thing happens again.

      Which is to say – government is made of the same people.

  7. Roger Sweeny says:

    For example, an upper-class Ivy Leaguer might be able to practice free love and experiment with drugs without serious consequences; a lower-class hillbilly might try exactly the same thing and end up a teenage single mother addicted to meth. Conservative ideas like chastity and avoiding drugs would be useless baggage tying the upper class down, but vital to the lower class’s continued success.

    As I recall, that was the thesis of Myron Magnet’s The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties’ Legacy to the Underclass (1993).

  8. Gadren says:

    I’m a CS PhD student who just got a summer internship in Santa Clara. After reading about all these rationalist/SSC people off in the Bay Area, I’m hoping to use this as an opportunity to actually find out about that group and get to know people. Are there meetups or social events? Are there secret passwords that are needed or are they pretty open?

    Also, any general tips about the area and getting situated would be awesome. Never been to that area before, and have been stuck in a relatively small college town for a while so not sure what to keep in mind re: housing/transportation/etc. Recommendations on car vs public transport? Areas to look at or avoid for living? Things you wish you had known before arriving?

    • Habryka says:

      There is the website bayrationality.com, which I maintain (though I have been slacking off a bit on keeping the calendar updated) that tries to solve this problem. Any feedback about what could be done better is appreciated.

      The website has a very quick form you can fill out that connects you to a “community greeter”, e.g. someone who can invite you to the events that will be happening in the area soon, and can generally help you get a foot in the community. I’ve found such personal advice to be more tractable and effective than a giant database of advice that needs to be constantly updated.

  9. Mariani says:

    UC Davis researchers recently published a study that says something similar to the college student marijuana, but it covers a much longer timeline. Basically, people who smoke weed regularly are, on average, in a worse position by mid-life than they would have otherwise been
    http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/newsroom/pdf/2016_APS_Persistent-cannabis-dependence.pdf

  10. Matt M says:

    I got my undergraduate degree online while working full-time. When it came time for grad school admissions, I was applying to Top 20 programs and was very concerned that the elites who run said institutions would assume my degree was worthless and that I wasn’t worth their time. I looked forward to taking the GMAT as my opportunity to signal that I was just as smart as everyone else. Studied hard, got a great score, got accepted to every program I applied to.

    At which point I became worried myself. I’d be competing with people who went to “REAL” college. Many of my classmates did their four full years at highly prestigious programs. And here I was, a poor kid with an online degree from a no-name program. Surely they would be more prepared and more competent than I, and I would struggle to keep up, right?

    What a joke. Many of my classmates are irresponsible idiots. They coasted through elite programs where grade inflation guarantees you a C at worst and a B if you make any effort whatsoever. They cheated and gamed the systems to get the points they needed without learning anything. They cut class and never read the textbook. They got their fancy degrees without having to really truly learn much of anything. Meanwhile, in my online college environment, it was pretty simple. You were told which parts of the book to read, and then you took a test or had to write a paper applying the concepts from the book. There was no “class participation” or whatever. There was nobody to hold your hand, and no extra-curriculars or party atmosphere to distract you. I feel like my online degree required me to actually learn things, while most of my classmates freely admit they learned very little in their undergrad programs. I was better prepared than most of them.

    Just one person’s experience – results may vary, obviously. But just thought I’d put in my two cents to defend online programs.

  11. Spotted Toad says:

    That argument from Northerner about liberalism and self-control is similar to the argument Jason Weeden and Robert Kurzban make in The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind (https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1400851963 ) , about why Harvard grads are so super-majority liberal. Their argument in general makes much more sense if you put in terms of most voters not believing in their own self-control, which I think is why Bryan Caplan didn’t like it.

    Re: Moving to Opportunity , the counterfactual in that experiment was even goofier than I thought, at least in NYC: ( https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/the-problem-with-moving-to-opportunity-in-one-nyc-map/ )

    • Mariani says:

      “b) It was paternalistic to tell the families they could only use their Section 8 voucher for certain (lower-poverty) neighborhoods.”

      This is exactly how not to criticize a study’s methodology

      • Spotted Toad says:

        It’s a criticism of the *intervention*, not the methodology.

        I’m not sure if most reporting on Moving to Opportunity made clear that it wasn’t just facilitating families’ move to higher-income neighborhoods, it required them to move to higher-income neighborhoods if they wanted to use their voucher.

  12. Murphy says:

    While I hate linking to the daily mail it’s the best example of a phenomenon I find quite annoying.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3511843/Outlaw-deadly-bouncy-castles-MP-leads-calls-girl-7-dies-blown-500ft-death-storm-friends-say-parents-going-hell.html

    Is there a concise term for the phenomenon where people see a single example of an insanely rare event linked to a very very common thing and immediately jumps to calling for nationwide bans on the common thing.

    This headline is a pretty good example

    “Outlaw deadly bouncy castles: MP leads calls after girl, 7, dies when she is blown 500ft to her death in storm”

    Common features include not mentioning how common the common thing is, there’s probably tens of thousands of bouncy castles set up at events in the country every year with millions of children enjoying them and serious injuries being very rare but while they’ll happily go back decades for every kid who hit their head on something nearby they never mention any of the denominators.

    The second defining feature is that there’s never any mention of why people might not want to ban [thing] such as utility and enjoyment regardless of the tiny tiny risks.

    I fully expect to walk past a newspaper stand at some point soon and see the headline “child chokes to death on bread, MP calls for immediate ban on the deadly substance” followed by a string of anecdotes about children and adults choking on bread or beating each other to death with crusty loaves going back 30 years.

    • Saint Fiasco says:

      According to Wikipedia, that’s called “base rate neglect” or “base rate bias”

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

    • Matt M says:

      When I was in the Navy, there was a popular hoax e-mail that would spread around appearing to be a serious directive that the Chief of Naval Operations has banned pencils after some seaman poked his eye out with one. It was written cleverly enough that every once in awhile, someone would take it seriously and get really mad about it.

  13. grort says:

    I like the idea of Arbital but I’m confused about the implementation. Is it only for totally uncontroversial things like Bayes’ Rule? What if someone tries to use it for something people disagree about? Is there a process for reaching consensus, or ranking the various explanation-paths for a thing, or identifying if something is true at all?

    As a concrete example, what if some famous creationist wants to build an Arbital explaining why evolution is probably wrong? Does Arbital say “you can host that on our site but we won’t link to you from the front page” or does it say “only people who agree with us are allowed to make Arbitals” or does it say “Arbital is only for things that can be mathematically proven”?

    What if the famous creationist creates Arbital subtopics about biology which aren’t obviously wrong? Will Arbital try to serve those subtopics to other Arbitals that have biology prerequisites? What if the creationist edits their subtopics after the fact?

    (Arbital successfully taught me about the odds formulation of Bayes’ Rule, so there’s that. I’m just confused about how the authorship process works.)

  14. In re the Detroit Threat Management company: People seem to be focusing on the dramatic trickster stories, but I think this is the important bit:

    “Think about everything you think about in terms of law enforcement and we do the exact opposite. So a police officer thinks you’re a threat, so what they do is pull you over. If we think you’re a threat, what we do is we pull up to you and talk to you. If a police officer thinks you’re a threat, what they do is stay back away from you and pull out their gun. What we do is get so close you can’t get pull out your gun. A police officer believes you’re a threat so they begin to talk to you in an autocratic, aggressive fashion. What we do is build a psychological bridge to explain to you that there is no need, there’s no option for violence, there’s no opportunity, and there’s nothing to gain. So you must leave now, and I’m letting you leave. My staff is letting you leave. You can simply go.”

    “Now this works in any situation where the human being is attempting to achieve something. Now when it’s psychological, meaning the person is not thinking well, they’re on drugs or they’re in pain… we’re able to read their body language ahead of time, and know that they’re about to draw their weapon… …we’re able to take them into custody and take them down without injuring them and without letting them pull out their gun.”

    “Again, we’re in Detroit. This is not theory. This is what we do. This is why none of my staff members are dead.”

    If this is effective, it might make people less violent without moving them out of the neighborhood.

  15. Donny Anonny says:

    Without downplaying the individual tragedy inherent to a toddler finding a gun and shooting him/herself or another person with it, I have to say, 43 people shot this way in a nation with approximately 100,000,000 gun owners and 320,000,000 guns is an astoundingly good safety record.

    Also, it would be interesting to see a breakdown of the households in which these accidents occur; in the years I’ve been paying attention to these sorts of things, more often than not these accidents happen in households where one or both of the parents are involved in criminal behavior.

    • Frank McPike says:

      Astounding is a strong word. Wouldn’t we need to know more in order to be sure how good a safety record this is?

      • hlynkacg says:

        What exactly is there to know?

        By raw numbers alone we can safely assume that guns are less likely to accidentally kill a toddler than a swimming pool is.

        • Anonymous says:

          If toddlers aren’t strong enough to exert enough force on a trigger to cause a discharge, 40 deaths would be astounding, but in the other direction.

        • Frank McPike says:

          For starters, do other countries or regions have a similar ratio of annual toddler deaths to guns? If so, then there’s nothing astounding about the U.S. rate, it’s bog-standard. If other countries have much lower rates, then the U.S. could stand to see some improvement. If other countries have higher rates, only then would it be fair to term to U.S. rate astoundingly low.

          (Seeing as toddlers routinely play in swimming pools, I can’t see why you think that would set a reasonable baseline.)

          • Donny Anonny says:

            You’d first have to find a country with widespread gun ownership for your comparison, unless you’re just looking to reinforce the standard truism that people don’t get shot where there are no guns.

          • hlynkacg says:

            What Donny said ^

            Closest likely candidates are Switzerland and South Africa and their numbers seem to imply that ours are nothing special.

            This of course ignores the key point of Donny’s initial post. Specifically that we have hundreds of millions of guns in circulation and yet accidental shootings remain extremely rare.

          • Frank McPike says:

            @Donny Anonny
            That’s why I said to look at the ratio of annual toddler deaths to guns. (Perhaps that may have been unclear; I mean “annual (accidental, gun-related) toddler deaths:guns”.) There might be better ratios to look at, but clearly controlling for population and gun ownership rates would be important.

            I don’t know why you would specifically need a country with high gun ownership for comparison when you can simply control for the number of guns, gun ownership rate, or both; presumably you would expect a country with one tenth American gun ownership to have around one tenth the number of toddler-involved accidental gun deaths, all else being equal.

            @hlynkacg
            I parse “nothing special” as distinct from “astounding”.

            Plainly your priors for the number of toddler-involved accidental gun deaths were higher than mine were.

          • hlynkacg says:

            “Nothing special” in the sense that Switzerland is doing similarly well.

            The astounding thing is that out of hundreds of millions gun-owners we’re still counting individual accidental shooting victims.

            I don’t think you appreciate just how rare / weird that sort of disparity is.

          • Frank McPike says:

            My point is precisely yours: that on the scale we’re talking about, we don’t have accurate intuitions about whether a given number is low or high. On a scale of hundreds of millions, 1, 10, 20, 40, 80, 100, and 300 all seem marvelously small. And yet it would seem very odd (to me at least) to describe a given rate as astoundingly good, when our heuristics cannot meaningfully distinguish it from a rate an order of magnitude (or two) smaller.

            Perhaps imagining barley helps you decide when a death rate is reasonable to expect. Personally, I like to calibrate by looking at analogous rates.

          • Psmith says:

            @hlynkacg, I apologize for the pedantry I am about to commit, but

            South Africa

            Apparently not: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country

            (The usual problem of controlling for levels of human capital is apparent.).

      • Donny Anonny says:

        Stats that I’ve seen in the past have indicated that accidental shootings have been steadily falling since the 1950s.

        Of course, it’s late and I can’t seem to locate a citation, so I hope some copy pasta from Wikipedia isn’t too plebian for these parts…

        “On January 16, 2013, President Obama issued 23 Executive Orders on Gun Safety,[82] one of which was for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to research causes and possible prevention of gun violence. The five main areas of focus were gun violence, risk factors, prevention/intervention, gun safety and how media and violent video games influence the public. They also researched the area of accidental death. According to this study not only have the number of accidental deaths been on the decline over the past century but they now account for less than 1% of all unintentional deaths, half of which are self-inflicted.[83]”

        Taken from here:
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States

  16. Agronomous says:

    Medical marijuana seems to very significantly decrease chronic opiate use in pain patients, which is a big deal since chronic opiate use is terrible.

    Suggested mechanism:

    “Dude, where’s my Oxy? Maybe I’ll remember after another toke…. *cough* What was I looking for again?”

    Also: Chronic vs. Chronic!

  17. eponymous says:

    “Immigrant men are much more likely to be employed than US men. I don’t know how much of this is that immigration selects for healthy people who want to work, how much of it is due to ease of illegally hiring them at less than minimum wage, and how much is due to the “immigrants do the jobs Americans won’t” effect.”

    What about, “Immigrant men who can’t find jobs go back to their home country, either by choice or against their will (visa issues).”

  18. Unfortunately, I think the real explanation of Arbital is that the process of convincing everyone that Eliezer Yudkowsky is right about everything hasn’t advanced fast enough, and he hopes that Arbital will do a better job. I doubt it.

    A site that would actually be good, and which apparently some people have attempted, but I haven’t yet seen a good implementation of, would be a site that presents all the arguments about everything: here’s all of the positions which are held on this topic, and all the arguments for them; here are all the responses to all of the arguments; here are all of the responses to all of the responses; and so on, until everyone agrees that those are their positions, and that they have nothing more to say in favor of their positions.

    • TheAncientGeek says:

      There’s three or four sites that work like that.

    • Murphy says:

      Thing is that a lot of arguments have more than a for/against element.

      It’s more like a case statement depending on their existing precepts. For example an argument based on utilitarian precepts would sound good, coherent and convincing to someone who already holds utilitarian precepts. An argument based on consequentialism will sound good, coherent and convincing to someone who already holds consequentialist precepts.

      Handing a consequentialist argument to a non-consequentialist will leave them thinking you’re crazy.

      So in theory an individual could take a questionnaire to establish their initial precepts/values and general leanings then for various issues be walked through a flowchart with the various arguments which will make sense to them with their precepts and the option of seeing where others diverge and based on what.

      • Ivan Ivanoff says:

        So you’re saying there’s a good argument for and against starting a for/against website?

        You’re probably right. Have you thought of writing those arguments down in full and putting them on a website?

    • Ivan Ivanoff says:

      I’ve always been in the camp that thinks Eliezer is a poor writer, which is why I think him creating a start-up around effective communication is really funny. I used to think me not understanding him was because I was too dumb, and maybe that’s right, but I’ll be damned if there isn’t a much better way to say whatever he’s trying to say here:

      > I’m not sure if the following generalization extends to all genetic backgrounds and childhood nutritional backgrounds. There are various ongoing arguments about estrogenlike chemicals in the environment, and those may not be present in every country… Still, for people roughly similar to the Bay Area / European mix, I think I’m over 50% probability at this point that at least 20% of the ones with penises are actually women.
      A lot of them don’t know it or wouldn’t care, because they’re female-minds-in-male-bodies but also cis-by-default (lots of women wouldn’t be particularly disturbed if they had a male body; the ones we know as ‘trans’ are just the ones with unusually strong female gender identities). Or they don’t know it because they haven’t heard in detail what it feels like to be gender dysphoric, and haven’t realized ‘oh hey that’s me’

      • Nornagest says:

        Eliezer appreciates touchy social issues like a velociraptor might appreciate a modernist sculpture made entirely of bacon.

      • Loquat says:

        I believe he’s trying to say that being transgendered is waaaay more common than we think, but most of the people who are “actually” trans either (a) don’t know because they don’t have the knowledge to recognize that their discomfort with their own bodies means they should consider changing gender, or (b) don’t know or care because they don’t have a strong gender identity and are fine with following whatever society says their gender is.

        Now, how the hell you’d determine that someone cis-by-default – which is to say no strong gender identity, comfortable in whatever gender they wake up in, etc – has a mental gender that’s “actually” the opposite of their physical sex… well, I’d leave it as an exercise for the reader, but knowing Yudkowsky he probably has an excessively detailed explanation that I’m not going to bother looking up.

        • Ivan Ivanoff says:

          See, I think that’s a wonderfully simple explanation … and I too think that is what Eliezer is saying.

          But: he mentions genetics, childhood background, estrogenlike chemicals, the environment, “Bay Area/European mix”, before even getting to his point. I get that it’s Facebook and maybe he wasn’t being careful, but I notice it elsewhere in his writings quite often.

          And *this* is the guy that is creating a start-up for, essentially, effective communication.

          • hlynkacg says:

            There’s a bit of a bait-and-switch going on though as it assumes that the definition of transgendered is “any one who is not 100% satisfied with their societies gender role”

            If you broaden the definition of a term to encompass more cases, you’re going to conclude that the condition is more common.

          • Loquat says:

            Genetics/chemicals/etc seem to be factors he’s acknowledging may change the distribution of gender identity among different populations – it’s just a long disclaimer that his “50% chance that 20% are actually trans” isn’t meant to apply worldwide. Could definitely stand to be shorter, though.

          • Deiseach says:

            he mentions genetics, childhood background, estrogenlike chemicals, the environment, “Bay Area/European mix”, before even getting to his point

            So basically it can be boiled down to:

            “I’m kinda sure 20% of the guys here are really girls”

            “Dude, where do you live?”

            “Bay Area”

            “Ohhhhh, right

            🙂

        • God Damn John Jay says:

          An aquaintance of mine stated that he frequently engaged in the rough trade (he hired heterosexual male prostitutes) and noted that many gay men had a strong desire to be “treated like a woman” during sex that explicitly turned him off and made him uncomfortable.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            This seems wrong to post as an unsubstantiated rumor. Unless you can point to something where he says that publicly, I think this should be removed, and so I am reporting it.

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            I am not talking about Eliezer, “he” refers to the acquaintance.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Ah. I misunderstood, then. My apologies.

  19. HeelBearCub says:

    On the Viral Science article about the PeerJ pre-peer review of the “Gender Bias in Open Source” paper – it seems to me that the most important point is the following:
    “Unfortunately, the popular press does not have a particularly good understanding of the peer review process, and is treating the data gathering and preliminary hypothesis testing that are the early steps of science as if they were already-established science.”

    To that I want to add two points:
    1) I’m not sure it really matters how much the “popular press” understands peer-review, as they don’t really care to understand peer-review. What they care about, more than anything else, are people giving them ad revenue. The reason they treat tantalizing pre-peer review results in the same way that they treat final results is simply because the results are tantalizing, no more, no less.

    2) I tried to make the point when the paper first came up that this was the big issue. Passing judgement on the people who wrote the paper, or, far worse, the scientific community, before the paper even got through peer review, let alone was published, is very poor thinking. There did not seem to be a whole lot of people here willing to chime in and agree that we should not even be paying attention to this proposed paper yet (unless we want to help with peer review, anyway).

    Now, perhaps the issue is that there is not much interest in adding “me too” comments here, except that I sense that the zeitgeist around here is to throw the baby out with the proverbial bath water and say that the whole scientific establishment needs to be undone, rather than looking at science as an ongoing process.

    • Deiseach says:

      The problem here, though, is that everyone pretty much agrees: popular media reporting of any paper or study or research is going to be terrible.

      So why let them get at it?

      There’s the whole push to publish, to get publicity, in order to keep running on the treadmill of grants and funding. If there’s a big splashy story about “New approach means cure for cancer in five years!”, it’s easier to get people interested in funding your work.

      It’s not that “the whole scientific establishment needs to be undone”, it’s that things like this – crappy reporting leading to inflated and unrealistic expectations on the part of laypeople, and distortions in how work is looked at by peers – badly needs to be acknowledged, examined and some kind of solution proposed and most importantly stuck to.

      It’s no good to keep wringing your hands and saying “But my preliminary proposal was simply that, I never said anything about X will mean Y!” if it keeps happening over and over. Eventually someone will have to do something about it, or else we’ll be reduced to feminist glacier whisperers and ‘healing with crystals just as good as antibiotics – Real Scientific Study* proves this!’ (*Not Actually Real Scientific Study, Merely Press Release by Huckster, But It Looks Official)

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @Deiseach:
        This is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. One of the recognized issues, one that gets harped on here as a matter of fact, is that if a “recognized” journal isn’t willing (for whatever reason) to take your paper up for peer review, then you are SOL. People here don’t like that because they think only the “approved” kind of research can get a hearing, but there are other reasons to dislike a gatekeeper on the paper publishing process.

        One solution to this issue has been an “open source” type of peer review, like PeerJ.

        Well, that is necessarily open! There is no gatekeeper stopping people from seeing or reviewing the paper. You can’t have it both ways.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Well… not necessarily. You could have the open-source peer review site demand registration, with terms of service promising you won’t breathe a word of any results without the author’s permission, until it’s officially published. Yes, there’d still be some problems tracking down the source of any leaks, but that’d drastically limit things.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        So why let them get at it?

        The short answer is because any policy which effectively stops science journalists from seeing preprints would also necessarily prevent other scientists in the field from looking them over as well.

        That might not sound like a big deal, and you might ask why researchers can’t just be patient and wait for the manuscripts to clear peer review first. The thing is, peer review is a bureaucratic process and it can take an inordinately long time for promising research to filter through it. Allowing other scientists to evaluate it in the meantime, a review by peers if you will, means that methodological flaws can be identified and interesting results confirmed or disconfirmed immediately. Not to mention that a discovery from one lab’s work could easily be applicable to an ongoing experiment in another.

        Bad science journalism sucks, but in this case the cure would be worse than the disease.

        • Deiseach says:

          any policy which effectively stops science journalists from seeing preprints would also necessarily prevent other scientists in the field from looking them over as well

          So why not let other scientists see them but embargo them to journalists until the final version, unless the problem is you can’t guarantee some scientist who got a gander at the pre-print isn’t going to flap their gums about it to some journo who pours booze into them during lunch at some conference 🙂

  20. fhyve says:

    Standardized testing a good thing? If a college wants better scores, they might admit more based on merit, but they will definitely start teaching to the test. The only way for this to work is if the colleges have absolutely no direct incentive to score well on the test.

    • Anon. says:

      As long as the test is well-designed there’s no issue with teaching to the test.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        Agreed. AP classes are explicitly designed to teach students how to pass AP tests, and they were definitely the best classes I took in high school.

        • Anon says:

          I agree with this. I liked all the AP classes I took in high school, and I passed all my AP tests. The only problem with the classes is that my district decided to let everyone into them regardless of ability, so the teachers had to slow the classes way down to accommodate the less-prepared students.

          The smarter kids still passed their AP tests anyway, but slowing the class down didn’t seem to improve passing rates for the less-prepared, so it just resulted in frustration for the students who were actually ready for work at that level. I’m sure it wasn’t fun for the less-prepared either.

          AP classes where students are only let in if they can demonstrate (preferably through a test) that they are ready for AP-level work would be much better. But even the ones I took were okay, and were still preferable to regular classes.

        • Vita Fied says:

          Well..

          In a few courses, AP government and AP psychology, there were quite a few interesting commentaries, and carefully posted studies that were posted in the textbooks that were not in the AP exams, that were quite useful.

          Like, an occasional offensive truth or controversial idea that could not be considered part of the official curriculum could be in the textbooks.

    • Vita Fied says:

      Is this “debate” over standardized testing actually a thing?

      I feel this is a worry by the occasional blogging academic who is most likely to land a job at some ususally unheard of university (so of course, is a blogosphere commoner)

      Are there any truly mainstream unis who think of getting rid of them?

  21. Ghatanathoah says:

    I have watched an awful lot of Fifties Monster Movies in my lifetime, and one thing I kept seeing over and over again was the government/military/scientists announcing that they needed to keep the monster’s existence secret for as long as possible in order to prevent a panic. Oftentimes this decision played no role in the story, there weren’t any scenes where someone struggled to keep a secret from reporters or anything. It was often just small detail.

    I always thought this was kind of stupid. Wouldn’t the public react better to the giant ants in the sewers, the giant octopus pulling down the Golden Gate Bridge, or the dinosaurs stomping around Manhattan if they had plenty of advanced warning about it? Wouldn’t people panic less if they’d seen the giant scorpions on the news before they started lurching down Main Street?

    Finding out that the authorities responded in the same way to real disasters like tornadoes makes the whole trope make far more sense. Regardless of whether it’s appropriate to treat the public that way, apparently it was realistic at the time.

    • Deiseach says:

      Look what happens when anything disaster related gets reported in the media. Things like panic buying are the least of the problem.

      I thought the rationale was “We’re not equipped to handle a mass evacuation of a city the size of New York, and if the public all start panicking and trying to head out themselves at once the exits will be jammed and we’ll have car crashes, pile-ups, crime, fires, looting and idiots pulling guns on each other to deal with on top of the giant ants/dinosaurs”.

      I can see the reasoning behind “We don’t get that many tornadoes and only at a certain time of year but if you report them people will think we have one every week and that means no outside businesses coming to build new factories here or tourism or promoting holiday locations”.

      I think it’s better to inform people, but I can see a reason why it might be considered a good idea not to provoke panic or a misinformed assessment of real risks.

  22. onyomi says:

    I think the biggest problem with the Concord, from what I’ve heard, is that it’s just extremely fuel-inefficient due to the intense drag at higher speeds. I wonder if the new supersonic jets will have improved design in that respect?

    • NN says:

      From what I’ve read, the real problem with the Concorde was that it required extensive maintenance after each flight due to the stresses of flying at such a high speed. Fuel efficiency wasn’t a major issue because the cost of fuel is only a small portion of the price of an airline ticket.

      Back in the 1970s, people were sure that supersonic airliners were going to be cheaper than subsonic airliners because they would be much faster and so would be able to make more trips per day. But if the airplane has to go in the shop for several hours after each flight, then obviously the speed advantage is negated in terms of trip frequency. Combine that with the fact that jumbo jets made plane tickets cheaper by simply increasing the numbers of passengers per flight, and the feasibility of supersonic airline flights as anything other than a luxury item was pretty much dead.

      The estimated cost of a round trip ticket on one of these “Boom” jets is about a quarter of what a Concorde ticket cost back in the day after adjusting for inflation, but still nearly 10 times the cost of a New York to London round trip ticket on a subsonic airliner. So I don’t think anything major has changed with these new jets, even if they turn out to work exactly as advertised.

      • ReluctantEngineer says:

        Fuel efficiency wasn’t a major issue because the cost of fuel is only a small portion of the price of an airline ticket.

        Actually, fuel is generally the largest single portion of the cost of an airline ticket. See one of my favorite infographics. I don’t know off-hand whether or not the cost breakdown was different for the Concorde.

        • bluto says:

          The faster you go, the more fuel is burnt, and it rises quickly. Fuel efficiency per passenger went from something like 17L/100 km for a standard trans-Atlantic craft to 2-3L/100km for the Concorde.

        • bean says:

          Well, Concorde was designed in the late 60s, and I have a feeling that the economics of airline tickets were a bit different back then.

        • NN says:

          This webpage crunches the numbers and seems to confirm that fuel costs made up less than $500 of a more than $11,000 Concorde ticket, and that the real problems for the Concorde were maintenance costs, less frequent flights, and not enough demand.

          • ReluctantEngineer says:

            I am a little suspicious of that webpage’s assertion that “Concorde’s total operating cost is three times its fuel cost” — when the price of jet fuel approximately doubled between 1999 and 2001, did maintenance costs also double?

            That said, I have no alternate source of cost estimates.

            Edit: I guess to conclude, while that web page is pretty persuasive on fuel costs not being a huge concern for the Concorde (in 2003, at least; it would have been a different story in 2007-08), it has not left me convinced that maintenance costs were a significant problem — by that page’s analysis, they were less than $1,000 of an $11,000 ticket.

          • John Schilling says:

            Total airline operating cost being roughly three times fuel cost is a common rule of thumb for the airline industry as a whole. I doubt it applies to Concorde.

            I don’t see anybody even trying to develop a “rule of thumb” for such a scenario, where there’s only the Concorde and its two tightly-linked operators who presumably have the actual numbers. I suspect that there has been a misunderstanding, with some third party applying the “3x fuel costs” to Concorde because they didn’t have anything better, and TravelInsider seeing it in that Concorde-specific context but no other and thinking “this guy says 3x for Concorde and seems to know what he’s talking about…”

          • bean says:

            I’m not sure that the rule of thumb is even very good. Jet fuel is as volatile as gas prices, and I’m quite certain that maintenance costs aren’t.
            WRT Concorde, a check of historical jet fuel prices shows that they’d basically doubled over the past 5 years when the decision to retire the planes was made. Add in the crash, and the resulting decrease in sales, and things were going to be bad.
            Airlines pay a lot of attention to fuel costs, even in ways that don’t seem to make much sense. For instance, over the past couple of years, the drop in fuel prices has resulting in Airbus getting a bunch of new orders and Boeing getting hammered. Airbus generally makes cheaper planes, while Boeing’s have better fuel economy. No, I’m not sure why the airlines are moving this way on planes they won’t get for 5 years.

          • “No, I’m not sure why the airlines are moving this way on planes they won’t get for 5 years.”

            Presumably because they believe that current low prices are at least some reason to expect future low prices.

          • bean says:

            Presumably because they believe that current low prices are at least some reason to expect future low prices.
            Obviously. But buying a plane you won’t see for 5 years and that you’ll fly for 20 years based on a 1-year swing in oil prices seems strange.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      Concorde required afterburners to get through the sound barrier- though unlike the Tu-144, it did not use them once it had reached its cruising speed. AFAIK the new jets won’t have them.

  23. NN says:

    This Aerospace Company Wants To Bring Supersonic Travel Back. NYC to London in 3.5 hours for $5,000 round trip, planned for a few years from now. I am not a marketing expert, but I feel like it is a bad idea to name your experimental aircraft company “Boom”. Update: Virgin Airlines plans to order the jets.

    I’ve read that the reason that the Concorde failed was that anyone who could afford a seat on a Concorde flight could afford a seat on a private jet. When you factor in the time that a private jet saves by not having to deal with airport security and landing at an airport closer to your destination, the Concorde wasn’t much of an improvement, and for some trips would actually take significantly more time.

    I don’t know how much a private jet round trip from New York to London costs off-hand, but even if these new Supersonic aircraft are cheaper, it seems likely that private jet flights on any US East Coast – Western Europe trip other than between London and New York would still take less time and be much more convenient due to the aforementioned factors.

    • onyomi says:

      Also, I have heard that it has become more common, among the sort who could afford seats on a Concord, to book a seat on a chartered, semi-private jet. It isn’t literally private in the sense that you and your family are the only passengers, but it’s a very limited number and they aren’t going to leave without you, etc., so you can show up, waltz through security (if at all?) and then when everyone’s on board, leave.

    • bean says:

      That’s one of the reasons they’ve gone with a 40-seat plane instead of one with 100+ seats. Assuming everything works (which it won’t for regulatory reasons, but that’s another story), they’ll have brought the price down to the point where it becomes somewhat competitive with regular air travel. And the fact that it has only 40 seats means that instead of running only between New York/Washington and London/Paris, you can find enough people to fill flights between many other pairs of cities, removing the benefit of private jets. The entire air transport industry has been moving towards more, smaller flights between more pairs of points. That’s why the 737 is selling so well, and the 747-8 isn’t.

  24. Desertopa says:

    Regarding the “no excuses” discipline at charter schools, I’ve taught at afterschool programs which had students from both underfunded public schools, and some of these charter schools, and in my experience the difference is indeed extremely marked. I would say that there’s almost certainly an element of selection effect going on; the students at the charter schools are mostly decent students to begin with, and have parents with at least some investment in their continuing to be so. But I do think the discipline also makes a difference. A key consideration is that the public schools which are an alternative for these kids tend to have really outrageously poor discipline.

    I had to do a lot of research on maintaining classroom discipline for these jobs, and one thing that basically everyone who has done both agrees on is that maintaining discipline in a poor inner-city school is a completely different ball game from doing it in other teaching environments. There are at least two major elements which differentiate it from other school environments I have experience with.

    One of the reasons is that the kids in these schools have mostly been brought up in extremely authoritarian environments, and are used to interactions with authority figures being decided by social dominance without being given reasons for anything, and they see the ability to resist authority, to be able to tell others what to do and not do what they’re told, as a sign of growing up. The adults in their lives are mostly domineering and confrontational, and the kids tend to jump at the chance to play the dominance game themselves as soon as they’re able.

    The other reason is that the discipline issues are self-reinforcing, and approach critical mass in these schools. Kids who behave fine on their own or with other kids who behave well, become impossible to control when they’re with too many kids who also cause discipline problems. When the level of disruption is high enough, very few students are willing to cooperate, and the environment isn’t conducive to learning for those who are. When too many students are causing discipline problems, it becomes almost impossible to enforce order, because the staff doesn’t have the resources to do so. You can’t send all the misbehaving students out of the classroom for any sort of discipline elsewhere, because there are too many of them for the school to process. Whatever punishment you try to implement will usually be impossible to enforce if enough students refuse to cooperate. And it’s extremely difficult to exert either the level of dominance or emotional appeal necessary to keep the kids from reaching the levels of disruption where the situation becomes practically unsalvageable.

    “No excuses” charter schools don’t solve the first problem, but they do solve the second. The selection effects keep the most disruptive kids out in the first place, and then they have more resources left to enforce discipline on the remaining kids. The underfunded public schools can’t keep up the game of escalation with the disruptive kids who choose to fight discipline, and so all the kids learn that they can resist it, but the situation at the charter schools never becomes too unmanageable for the faculty to keep up, so the students don’t escalate confrontations the way the ones at the public schools do.

    • Aegeus says:

      If that’s the case, then the good news is that it’s a problem we can solve by throwing money at it – open more schools and provide more places to diffuse discipline problems.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      My kid is disruptive. (Autism spectrum, but the loud misreads-people kind, not the quiet sit-really-still kind.) Would a school like this help him?

      • Decius says:

        That’s not a discipline problem, and no school that treats it like a discipline problem will help.

        Try a school that treats it like a problem understanding people, that provides a script for him to follow when he currently becomes loud and disruptive, and teaches him to guess what other people are thinking.

      • 57dimensions says:

        Hm, its hard to say. I’m a different person from the first poster, but I do have experience working with kids in different school environments and how discipline in these situations work. I currently volunteer at an elementary school in a very poor city with very bad school outcomes, but the school I work at is in one of the somewhat better areas. It is a public school, but has adopted some charter school like philosophies, like strict sitting and walking methods and the like. I work with kindergarteners, so its a bit of a different game with them than older students, at least in my experience they aren’t disruptive because they like to question authority, its just that since they’re 5 or 6 years old they have varying levels of self-control and regulation and tend to get really excited when interacting with other kids. So as far as I can see the kids who were good at sitting still and talking in turn at the start of the year are still good at it and other kids who were more squirmy and excitable still have trouble raising their hand and sitting still (and those are the non-ADHD kids).

        As for your son having autism, I’m not sure if this very strict disciplinary technique would be helpful because your son seems to have trouble with self-control–like the younger kids–rather than being purposefully disobedient–like high schoolers might be. I’d suggest trying to find some ASD specific techniques from a specialist or online somewhere.

    • tanagrabeast says:

      The critical mass issue is, in my (admittedly non-urban) teaching experience, the most important reason why class size matters. The probability of a toxic combination climbs exponentially as more students are added.

  25. Nero tol Scaeva says:

    I just read that people who can tickle themselves are at high risk for schizophrenia. I can tickle myself :/ For the longest time I thought it just meant minor inconveniences while showering…

  26. The Nybbler says:

    “It’s Over, Gandalf: We Need To Unite Behind Saruman To Save Middle-Earth From Sauron.”

    This is a big reason why Hillary will probably lose. Too many of her supporters see her as, at best, the lesser of two evils who may choose not to backstab them _right away_. That’s not going to inspire turnout. I also expect Trump to do reasonably well among Latinos, both because of his stand on illegal immigration (there’s no fanatic hater of illegal immigrants like a recent legal one) and the fact that he appeals to the “white” working class which is in fact is largely Hispanic. I also expect him to pull votes from some of the traditionally Democratic union members.

    Probability Zero prediction: Press Secretary Megyn Kelly. The whole thing’s been a long con.

    • onyomi says:

      The outcome of Clinton v. Trump is very interesting to me because I think it will be a good test of impersonalish demographic and structural forces (electoral college favoring dems as congressional districts favor GOP) vs. personal charisma and/or cultural forces; maybe even to some degree a test of the “great man” vs. “impersonal forces” theory.

      Impersonal, demographic, and structural-type forces all strongly favor Clinton. Charisma, personality, and cultural trend/enthusiasm-type stuff favor Trump.

      My usual rule of thumb is that boring, impersonal, structural stuff is a better predictor than passion, charisma, etc. but I also think there are many people in whose absence history would have turned out quite differently, so it’s a very tough call. Obama certainly inspired enough passion to cheat Hillary out of her turn once, and I think there is also a general distaste at this point for the whole “waiting in line” aspect of it, so I think Trump has a good shot–certainly better than the 30% or so on Predictwise (though that is just the chances of a GOP victory, so must factor in, to some extent, a Cruz contingency).

      Also, though it’s early yet, I feel like the bloom is off the rose for what should have been one of Hillary’s big selling points–that is, being the first female president. It really doesn’t seem like many people care about that aspect of it like they did about Obama’s race.

      • Alliteration says:

        Betfair puts a Trump presidency at 20% currently
        https://www.betfairpredicts.com/politics

        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          PredictIt gives him a 29% chance.

          https://www.predictit.org/Browse/Group/67/National

          • Alliteration says:

            Someone might be able to make a profit by bidding for him in one and against him in the other.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            PredictIt is frequently overconfident – even ignoring the 1 cents, the probabilities for the president sum to 114%.

          • Protagoras says:

            That seems high. I can see some reasons why it could stay over 100%; predictit takes a cut, plus the bet doesn’t pay off until the end of the year, so one would have to be confident that a range of “no” bets would pay off better than some other investment over that time frame for it to make sense to arbitrage it. But 114% seems more than I would expect. What am I missing about why people aren’t buying wide ranges of “no” to arbitrage the situation?

          • John Schilling says:

            PredictIt doesn’t allow people to make enough money to completely outweigh the value of supporting a position one emotionally agrees with – whether that position is e.g. “I like Trump” or “I am a wise metacontrarian who groks truths that escape the normal prediction-market losers”. Arbitrage is boring hard work that nobody is going to undertake for the meager profits available under an $850 market cap.

    • Ant says:

      Counter examples in France:
      the left lost the first turn of the presidential election in 2002, and in the duel between the far right and the right, the right candidate got 80% of the votes despite being a default candidate. The current president if from the left and was nicknamed the meh president.

  27. Adam Casey says:

    >British minority voters are no more likely to vote for a candidate of their own race (except Pakistanis).

    So the “except Pakistanis” is rather unsurprising here. It is a truism that “Minority communities in the UK are well integrated (except Pakistanis)”.

    >their secret to success is being very caring and understanding to people and engaging with the community. Leftists and anarcho-capitalists, you may now start competing to see who can shout “THIS PROVES WE ARE RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING” louder.

    Do the Peelites get to join in?

  28. Cr says:

    So they are making a libertarian fort right on my city… I see. Mixed feelings about this.

  29. TD says:

    I always assumed that social conservatism was there to enforce things people weren’t genetically predisposed to. For example, if people are born gay, and homosexuality leads to less progeny on average through less investment in opposite sex mating, then tabooing homosexuality while enforcing heterosexual coupling ensures that a greater proportion of gay children breed and raise children without getting distracted with gay couplings.

    Of course, we don’t need to do that now.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      Of course, we don’t need to do that now.

      Yes, because we have such great birthrates.

      • TheAncientGeek says:

        Yes, because we don’t need to squeeze another billion people into the world.

        • aanon smith-teller says:

          a) It’s not “squeezing”, we have enough resources *right now* to support over 10 billion people, the UN-projected peak world population. There is no squeeze.

          We had the same issues with poverty-caused famines centuries ago, before the population boom, and they haven’t stopped. Condoms don’t make people wealthy.

          b) Yes, we *need* those people, because there has literally never been a society in the history of man designed to deal with a population suffering that kind of demographic collapse, and this one is no exception.

          Who the hell do you think is going to pay taxes? Where do you think social security is going to come from? Society can’t function without young people to fill key economic roles.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Of course, we don’t need to do that now.

      Why do you think that?

      I’m actually a bit confused because you explicitly call out conservatism increasing the birth rate, and we’re in fertility free-fall at the moment. Even putting aside long-term survival, we’re at this moment seeing problems due to our aging population.

      Not to say that your position is indefensible but rather that you should at least attempt to defend it.

      Edit: jaime has ninja typing reflexes.

      • Samuel Skinner says:

        Because that isn’t similar to what the situation was in preindustrial times. Fertility free fall means the population in the developed world contracts. A drop in population in preindustrial times means towns and cities get abandoned, civilization contracts and wolves show up on the streets of Paris.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          A drop in population in preindustrial times means towns and cities get abandoned, civilization contracts and wolves show up on the streets of Paris.

          Or Brussels, in our case.

          I’m living in a large increasingly abandoned city watching civilization contract in real time. It’s hard to see how industrialization changes things.

          • null says:

            By what metric is civilization contracting? And how is this a result of demographic change?

          • Rowan says:

            Well, if you’re willing to skip over the difference between “wolves” as a metaphor for criminals belonging to specific demographics and “wolves” referring to literal wild animals, I suppose there’s not much change, but I think that distinction is relevant to the point.

          • jeorgun says:

            Unless you’re suggesting that low birthrates are the driving factor behind the european migrant crisis, I can’t think of any good reason to bring it up here.

          • Anonymous says:

            >Unless you’re suggesting that low birthrates are the driving factor behind the european migrant crisis, I can’t think of any good reason to bring it up here.

            I don’t know about THE factor, but they’re a factor for sure.

      • Wrong Species says:

        If you believe that the population on Earth is too high then decreased fertility is a good thing. The norm might have been useful until the Earths population hit whatever that limit should be.

      • TD says:

        @Dr Dealgood
        “Even putting aside long-term survival, we’re at this moment seeing problems due to our aging population.”

        I would rather amend that to “we’re at this moment predicting future problems due to our aging problem”. We have time basically. The pension crisis of many a country can be stretched out for decades, for example.

        The thing is we can also extrapolate for automation and technological unemployment being a thing in decades, and we may want try to speed it up (I do). The dependency ratio problem (which is in effect the problem of an aging population) which might have become a catastrophic problem by 2040 will have ceased to be a problem if robots are shoveling gruel into grandma’s mouth in place of the absent young social worker paid for by the absent young taxbase.

        The dependency ratio crisis caused by an aging population caused by a declining population caused by (? – jury is still out) is crying out for A: speeding up the process that gets us a heavily automated economy with a basic income guarantee, as a solution ASAP (without a violent revolution, so no capital S socialism), and not for B: inviting in millions of immigrants from potentially fricative cultures as a replacement youth worker population (likely to cause a violent right wing revolution), or C: trying to avoid the necessity for that by forcing social conservatism on modern Western populations (likely to cause a violent left wing and liberal revolution, or be the product of the hypothetical violent right wing revolution in B).

        B and C are false solutions that negate themselves. I maintain that A is the actual solution.

        Incidentally, once A is implemented, a declining population then switches to being a positive thing from the individual perspective. Each missing human is no longer a productivity loss (cuz robots), but increases the potential exercise of rights by the remaining humans (more room to swing my fists if your face isn’t there). A world population of 1 million humans is my preferred planetary human density… Mr. Bond.

        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          Do you see anyone trying for A? Right now I see our globalists elites shoving B down the West’s throat as hard as they can and a small amount of right-wing backlash (Donald Trump and the European nationalist parties) that might eventually grown into a right-wing revolution implementing C.

          • TD says:

            “Do you see anyone trying for A?”

            No, and that’s what scares me.

            Now, first of all, we were speaking in terms of preventing the dependency ratio problem, so A, B, and C are just alternatives in that context. Looking at the broader issues, we might have to go beyond them, but they’ll do for now.

            B has been chosen by the current establishment, but perhaps not just for the reason of preventing the dependency ratio problem a few decades from now. There are humanitarian and other ideological justifications.

            The potential chaos unleashed by B can be prevented in the near term just by exerting control over borders (I propose this). This is soft-right civic nationalist stuff to do with basic statehood (which at some point got associated with the Nazis). If B is prevented, the immediate impetus for the hard right ethno-nationalist and traditionalist uprising goes away. Donald Trump and Farage types are not really C, they are more like c, and the success of c can temporarily deflate C (Golden Dawn nazi types, radical traditionalists), but not forever.

            So long as the dependency ratio rises, and A is not achievable, B and C will play off each other ever more violently as the crisis deepens. As above, civic nationalism can forestall harder right forms of nationalism and stop B, but if it gets late in the game the dependency ratio will be so high that economies will risk collapsing without explicitly choosing either B or C (which is very very very bad, because the process of “choosing” one of them is a form of collapse).

            A is almost impossible to articulate in an appealing way, except where grafted onto leftism/communism (I want it grafted onto soft right-libertarianism personally, but it’s too marginal), which would just bring all the problems that B brings. By itself, A has no gut appeal, and gut appeal is EVERYTHING in politics. It’s hard to explain why A is the solution that B and C aren’t, without being a boring sperg who writes tl;dr paragraphs. B and C have a strong emotional veneer that play off opposite parts of the human psyche (boundless compassion Vs love for community) that are well embedded in existing political movements with long traditions.

            This is why I predict that WW3 is not all that far away. Or do I need to take off the tinfoil hat and calm down?

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Japan is going to be a very interesting experiment. They have the same problems with infertility and an aging population as the West, but so far they have refused to take immigrants, nor are they implementing the kind of serious rightism that might increase the birth rate. Who knows, maybe they really will solve their problems with automation and guaranteed busywork (they’re too workaholic for guaranteed unconditional income, methinks). Or maybe their numbers will shrink below the minimum viable population and the Japanese will go extinct, just like the rats from the Mouse Utopia Experiment (the Hikikomori, the Herbivore Men, and the Parasite Singles all bear a disturbing resemblance to the Beautiful Ones). Either way, definitely worth watching.

          • TD says:

            Yeah, Japan is the case where demographic crisis looms nearest out of all the “Western” (lel) countries, and it’s also the place least likely to accept massive numbers of immigrants.

            Interesting. The Mouse Utopia Experiment chills me to the bone, but it’s so weird how Malthusianism is never addressed directly in politics. The “behavioral sink” idea is an even scarier form of Malthusianism because it works through abundance of resources and not scarcity. Or instead, you could say the Malthusian limit here is actually scarcity of space for the population to live in, resulting in this bizarre change in behavior that to my knowledge has never adequately been explained.

            Japan is the most likely place to accept A though, so with luck they can set an example to everywhere else. Uh, presuming that goes well.

            If things go badly, then it could be a strange sight to see… A people just disappearing without collapse or violence.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I expect Japan’s demographic problems are self-limiting unless we come up with immortality. Their huge population of old people is going to start dying off, and if that doesn’t do it, the death of the second large 20-year-younger bump probably will. If Japan’s low birth rate is sociological rather than genetic (which seems likely), the reduction in proportion of old people along with a decline in population in general will likely increase it.

          • John Schilling says:

            So, who will be the first people to say, “There’s some decent unclaimed land there, and lots of nifty robots that nobody is using; maybe we should colonize the place ourselves?”

            How many Japanese will still be living in Japan when that happens, and who aside from the Japanese will try to stop the colonists?

          • Anonymous says:

            Their anti-immigration murder bots, of course!

          • The Nybbler says:

            If it’s not self-limiting, then certainly someone will take over Japan, either through invasion of the depopulated islands or (IMO more likely) through “pressure” to allow immigration. Either way the “who” seems most likely to be China.

            Unless the defense bots are _that good_ of course.

          • Z says:

            Just keep in mind that at least some of the effects in the Mouse Utopia could be explained by inbreeding. There were only four pairs of starting mice, which will lead to inbreeding. Behavioral problems result within a few generations. In the earlier studies, the mice were already selected to be genetically similar.

            Pg. 31 of http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22514/1/2308Ramadams.pdf
            “Calhoun did use wild Norway rats in his early experiments, taken from Parsons Island in Chesapeake Bay. As they were isolated on the island, he believed to be genetically similar though generations of inbreeding. In later studies he turned to the Osborne-Mendel strain of rat and the BALB/c mouse.”

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Having the ability to stop an invasion is not enough. Spain lost the Spanish Sahara to an unarmed crowd of marching Moroccans. The Spaniards could have opened fire, but they didn’t. They lacked the will to stop the Moroccans.

            Robots and guns and walls are nothing but tools. Only men can stop other men. And a society that does not have children has already demonstrated that it lacks the will to live.

          • “And a society that does not have children has already demonstrated that it lacks the will to live.”

            A society is not a person, does not have will.

            There is no reason why people who don’t have children cannot still wish to live, and fight, and act accordingly. Justinian’s second best general was a eunuch.

          • Anonymous says:

            You can’t reason with these people. They’ve sublimated their fear of death into a religion of immortality through decedents. And never the mind the whole heat death of the universe thing.

        • NN says:

          If you think that we can predict technological advances accurately enough to base important policy decisions on what we think will be available decades in the future, I suggest you talk to all the people who lived in the 60s and 70s that were absolutely certain that supersonic airliners were going to replace subsonic jet airliners the same way that subsonic jet airliners replaced propeller-driven airliners. A representative quote from Spiro Agnew when he was Vice President in 1972: “It must be obvious to anyone with any sense of history and any awareness of human nature that there will be SSTs. And Super SSTs. And Super-Super SSTs. Mankind is simply not going to sit back with the Boeing 747 and say ‘This is as far as we go.'”

          Or for that matter, you can look up all the predictions from the same period of time by very smart people that by the start of the 21st century automation technology was going to put huge portions of the population out of work. Here is just a sample (press Ctrl+A to read the text).

          In the 1960s the odds on favourite as to what life would be like in the 21st century could be summed up in one word: leisure. Many perfectly sober thinkers believed that the rising tide of automation, computerisation, robotics, efficiency, modern management techniques, atomic power, instant communications and all that would so improve productivity, cut the need for labour, and create so much real wealth that people would not need to work so much. Indeed, Arthur C. Clarke went so far as to say that technology would eliminate the 99% of all human labour from the lowliest ditch digger to the highest executive. Most people wouldn’t need to work much, if at all, and those who did would be restricted by law to only a few days a week and be expected to retire by age 47.

          But this wasn’t regarded as looking forward to a future of peace and plenty; it was regarded as a serious social problem that had to be solved before it was too late. If by the year 2000 only philosopher kings, sorry, scientists, would be allowed to work full time, then the rest of the population would be left with little to do except watch five hundred channels of television and listen to he robot lawnmower cutting the grass.

          It really is astonishing how little predictions of the future change over time apart from the year when this is all going to happen getting continually pushed back.

          • TD says:

            It’s hard to respond to this without risking misinterpreting your intentions badly, but are you suggesting we give up on long term societal planning?

            I’m not sure we have a choice about that. If you don’t do long term planning, someone else will.

            Also, the specific predictions do matter. I would be tempted to just say that we know more about computers now than we did then when it was early days, so futurists can be better informed by expert knowledge, but that’s probably unsatisfying.

          • NN says:

            I’m saying that we shouldn’t base long term societal plans on assumptions that a hypothetical technology that doesn’t exist yet is possible, feasible, and works exactly how we expect it will work, because if your predictions about technology turn out to be wrong then your plans will be worthless.

            Yes, we know more about computers now than we did in the 1960s, but in the 1970s people in the aviation industry knew an awful lot about supersonic aircraft, seeing as how military jets had been breaking the sound barrier for 20 years at that point. Yet everyone managed to miss that instead of being able to make more frequent trips due to their higher speed, SSTs would require so much maintenance after each flight that they would make much less frequent trips than subsonic airliners. Predicting the feasibility and especially the impact of future technologies is hard.

            And I would be willing to give more credence to “sure, we were wrong in the past, but we know better now,” if a number of predictions of the Automation Revolution crowd hadn’t already proven to be inaccurate. On the feasibility side of things, people have been hailing Google’s self-driving car as the harbinger of an accident-free robocar future for years now, but so far the prototypes have turned out to have a worse accident rate than the average human driver because they are worse at reacting to the mistakes of other human drivers. Yes, maybe they’ll fix this problem with further development, but did anyone foresee this sort of problem in the first place? On the impact side of things, it is common to read predictions from the past few years that automatic legal discovery software will put many paralegals out of work, but studies have found that the software has if anything led to an increase in the number of paralegal jobs because judges have responded to the reduced costs of discovery by granting more and larger discovery requests.

            Maybe their forecasting record will improve with time, but so far their batting average isn’t looking very good.

          • TD says:

            What do you make of the other possibilities? A big part of my hypothesis is that A is the only way to solve population decline related problems (particularly a rising dependency ratio) without resorting to B: mass migration, or C: forceful natalist policies. Or is the whole model wrong? Is there an option D?

          • NN says:

            I honestly don’t know. C seems unlikely to work, given the track record of forceful nativist policy in places like Communist Romania. B seems likely to happen to some degree even if governments actively try to prevent it, due to the demonstrated difficulties of securing borders in this day and age. Even Australia, surrounded by ocean and in the ideal position to prevent illegal immigration, gets about 16,000 visa overstayers every year.

            But one factor that may have been overlooked is globalization and outsourcing. People usually talk about this in the context of native jobs being sent to other countries, but one less-discussed aspect of this is that it allows companies to employ the people of other countries without immigration. Obviously you can’t outsource nursing home jobs, but the economic output of people in other countries could theoretically help pay the salaries of nursing home staff here. Furthermore, opening up countries for outsourcing has little to do with developing new technology and a lot to do with those countries achieving stability and economic development. This is already happening in many places, as demonstrated by recent Chinese investments in Africa, among other things.

            I don’t know if it will be enough, but it is something to think about.

          • hlynkacg says:

            You all seem to be neglecting the existence of natalist subcultures. Option D is that modern secular liberalism fades away or becomes some weird niche like the Amish while the Mormons colonize Mars.

          • NN says:

            You all seem to be neglecting the existence of natalist subcultures. Option D is that modern secular liberalism fades away or becomes some weird niche like the Amish while the Mormons colonize Mars.

            It is ironic that you should put it that way, seeing as how the Amish are a very natalist subculture, though they are obviously unlikely to lead the colonization of Mars.

            Though if the Mormons are the ones who will take over, then option D will likely be combined with option B, since Mormons tend to be pro-immigration.

          • The Amish aren’t exactly anti-technology as a matter of principle, they’re cautious about technology because they don’t want it to disrupt what they value about their way of life.

            If some Amish came to believe that going to Mars was consistent with everything else they value, they’d go to Mars. I think it would take some pretty good terraforming.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @NN
            That’s not what irony means.

            Likewise, Mormons are not pro-immigration in the open-borders sense that is typical meant in rationalist and leftwing circles. However, they do tend to support liberalization of immigration laws because Mormons themselves are more likely to emigrate, in fact “going forth” is part of their religious obligation.

          • Anonymous says:

            I can’t speak to rationalists but there’s nothing typical about open border advocacy among “leftwingers”. That’s just one of many weakmen right wingers on here are so fond of deploying.

            Just like so-called social justice warriors, there are far more people obsessed with open border advocates than there are such advocates in the first place.

          • null says:

            How is that a ‘weak man’?

          • Anonymous says:

            The xenophobes don’t want to counter the pro-immigration positions that actual exists in non-trivial numbers. They’d rather repeatly slay the fringe open borders position while claiming they are one in the same. Doesn’t that sound like the weakman strategy to you?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Err no, a more accurate example would be the way that some immigration advocates try to paint anything less than open borders as xenophobia. As you just did.

            They’d rather play the race card than concede that not all immigration is created equal.

          • “there’s nothing typical about open border advocacy among “leftwingers”.”

            My impression is that the only political group containing a significant number of supporters of open borders is libertarians.

          • Anonymous says:

            Perhaps I was mistaken. Rather than a deliberate weakman maybe what we are seeing is a lack of reading comprehension and all around mediocre reasoning ability.

          • Frank McPike says:

            This Gallup poll suggests that only 23% of Americans support increasing the level of immigration at all. (Link: http://www.gallup.com/poll/163457/americans-pro-immigration-past.aspx) I imagine that only a fraction of that 23% supports true open borders. Any political group composed mostly of people who support open borders therefore cannot be very large.

          • Jiro says:

            Rather than a deliberate weakman maybe what we are seeing is a lack of reading comprehension and all around mediocre reasoning ability.

            It is nmeither weakmanning nor bad reasoning.

            What it is is that forums like these are packed full of open borders proponents, to the point where open-borders is common enough that arguing against it is perfectly legitimate. It is true that there aren’t many open borders proponents in the outside world, but here is not the outside world.

          • John Schilling says:

            Is there room for increased immigration without de facto open borders? We’ve already got a situation where anyone willing to walk north from Mexico and repeat if/when caught and sent back can wind up residing in the United States in fairly short order, be issued the driver’s license that is our de facto national ID card, have most law enforcement agencies turn a blind eye to their immigration status, and be the subject of various amnesty proposals leading to citizenship.

            I expect most of that 23% is divided among people who want de jure open borders and people who want de facto open borders. And if that’s not a “very large” number in your book, note that it is larger than the number of e.g. Donald Trump voters.

          • Anonymous says:

            If you genuinely think the migration patterns into the United States as they stand at this moment are close enough to what they would be in an outright open borders situation so that it is just quibbling over de jure / de facto issue, I don’t think useful communication is possible.

            My hypotheses in order of likelihood are:
            — You don’t really believe that and are just saying so to express extreme displeasure with the status quo / score internet points / some other rhetorical reason.

            — You are very ill informed / have a poor model of reality, perhaps because you consume deceptive media.

            — Your reasoning skills are extremely faulty.

          • null says:

            @Anonymous: You haven’t provided evidence that a de facto open borders situation would be different, so your insults aren’t backed up.

            @John Schilling: I think you are greatly underestimating the difficulty of these actions. Also, which amnesty plan do you expect these people to take?

          • Anonymous says:

            Shall I provide evidence that jumping out of a plane without a parachute is hazardous to one’s health? This isn’t wikipedia, no need to fetishize links.

            Try to work through the implications on your own. Why did more than 14 million people apply for the diversity visa lottery last year if we have open borders? Why have people been waiting since 1986 for a sibling visa if we have open borders? Why do people pay more than a billion dollars a year to immigration lawyers if we have open borders?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ null:

            @Anonymous: You haven’t provided evidence that a de facto open borders situation would be different, so your insults aren’t backed up.

            You don’t get anywhere in a discussion if someone demands belabored proof of the obvious.

            And as for the open borders “weakman” thing: it is perfectly reasonable to debate open borders on a site like this. But many people on the right mistakenly believe (or act like they believe) that open borders is a mainstream leftist position, or that there is some kind of left-wing conspiracy to enact open borders.

            The only “conspiracy” to enact open borders is on the part of people like the Koch brothers.

          • null says:

            @Vox: It clearly wasn’t obvious to John Schilling.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ null:

            So he says. I don’t really believe him. Anonymous laid out three possibilities for why he is acting like it’s not obvious.

            — You don’t really believe that and are just saying so to express extreme displeasure with the status quo / score internet points / some other rhetorical reason.

            — You are very ill informed / have a poor model of reality, perhaps because you consume deceptive media.

            — Your reasoning skills are extremely faulty.

            Only in the case of the latter two is it not actually obvious to him. And in those cases it should be obvious.

            Anyway, Anonymous already went ahead and pointed out a few facts that are incompatible with a situation of “de facto open borders”:

            Try to work through the implications on your own. Why did more than 14 million people apply for the diversity visa lottery last year if we have open borders? Why have people been waiting since 1986 for a sibling visa if we have open borders? Why do people pay more than a billion dollars a year to immigration lawyers if we have open borders?

          • null says:

            Fair enough. I just think that it was worth giving him the benefit of the doubt, but you disagree.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Jiro

            It is neither weakmanning nor bad reasoning.

            What it is is that forums like these are packed full of open borders proponents, to the point where open-borders is common enough that arguing against it is perfectly legitimate. It is true that there aren’t many open borders proponents in the outside world, but here is not the outside world.

            My objection, which was clearly laid out, was to the statement “pro-immigration in the open-borders sense that is typically meant in … leftwing circles.”

            I specifically said “I can’t speak to rationalists”.

          • TD says:

            @Mark Atwood

            “I would say that a plurality of the blues I have known in Boston and in Seattle for whom their political stances are a significant part of their persona are of the “there are no illegal people, welcome them all, la raza yay” sort.”

            This is epitomized in the popular activist phrase “NOONE is illegal” which I hear a lot, living in the UK.

            It may be that “open borders” is a strawman, but if even people just calling for an Australian style points system are called racist, and most left of center activists don’t want to enforce border control to deal with the European migration crisis, then it’s not too far off, even with some wiggle room. I have to wonder – what border controls could I suggest to impose in the current political climate and not be hounded as a fascist? If even imposing Australian style points systems (UKIP) to deal with an unprecedented migration wave falls into racist crypto-nazi territory, then what doesn’t?

            My big problem with left of center politics is that they’ll talk up government and the state, but then get uncomfortable about the idea that states enforce laws over specific territories, and territories have borders. Instead, they selectively turn into libertarians on border control, but then want to maintain a big welfare state at the same time.

            We need a big welfare state (automation), but a big welfare state should be twinned with strong border control.

            Enforcing border controls does not mean that you have to abandon liberalism. States can be as liberal as they want inside their borders (“walled garden”). The danger is that if strong border controls are to be required to deal with this crisis, then refusing that position as advanced by liberal nationalists (c), such as UKIP, means that the only people who make political gains in regards to this will be illiberal nationalists (C), such as the Golden Dawn type parties AKA actual factual fascists.

          • Tibor says:

            The strange thing about the European left is that while they do not want to restrict refugee immigration (and respective welfare payments), they do not seem to have an issue with working visas for non-EU nationals and other open borders restrictions. That makes their often cited claim (in Germany) that the refugee immigration should be welcomed as it brings young labour force rather dubious. One could ask – if this is what you want why not start filling the much needed labour force by making it as easy as possible for non-EU nationals who already posses the needed qualification (not to mention literacy and English if not always German languages skills) to live and work in the country?

            Hence it seems to me that at least a sizable part of the left does not really care about open borders per se but about something else. I am not quite sure I understand what it is. It is probably not multiculturalism as making it easier for skilled workers from East Asia or Latin America to come would contribute to the “diversity” too. It is probably not about making poor people better off either, because there are much poorer countries than say Syria or Iraq and also much more efficient ways of helping them (GiveDirectly for example). So, strangely enough, I am in the same position which Haidt describes in his Righteous Minds, where liberals literally do not understand the motivations of conservatives in some issues, except that I literally do not understand the motivation of (at least some people on) the left.

        • The Anonymouse says:

          I like to characterize option C in a different way:

          “Or C: do more humping.”

    • Wrong Species says:

      There are taboos on bestiality and necrophilia but I don’t think the taboos are necessary to keep people from doing those things. I think social conservatism is just codifying our inherent disgust reactions.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        If you think that then you live a charmed life. I run into that stuff fairly regularly, though luckily not in meatspace as of yet.

        • Wrong Species says:

          How many people are online? Lets say over a billion. If you have met a hundred people online who are in to that kind of thing that is still a small fraction of the population but could seem far larger to you. Plus how many of these people actually are in to necrophilia rather than simply posting pictures for shock value? Has there ever been a society that had a persistent problem with necrophilia where a significant percent of the population was in to that? That’s not a rhetorical question, I really want to know.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Evidently ancient Egypt, if you trust Herodotus-by-way-of-Wikipedia. Families had to let women’s corpses ripen a bit before handing them over to embalmers.

            But I was thinking more of bestiality to be honest. If you trust Kinsey, which you shouldn’t, a plurality of farmers had committed bestiality. Turning to Wikipedia again it looks like the research gives a 2-8% range for the normal population, with prisoners and psychiatric patients having an order of magnitude higher rates.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            To be fair, you really can’t trust Herodotus about that sort of thing. The dude is fascinating reading but Inquiries is more like a gossip magazine than an anthropological textbook.

        • Anonymous says:

          It doesn’t take having a charmed life to avoid browsing 4chan. Just a life in general.

      • NN says:

        On the other hand, such behaviors have shown up with some frequency even among people famous for their extreme social conservatism.

      • Deiseach says:

        You don’t remember (never saw?) a movie from (I note by the Wikipedia article) 1996 called Kissed?

        Got generally good reviews and portrayed a very romantic/idealised notion of necrophilia. Unlike the late 80s/early 90s German horror movies from Jörg Buttgereit, “Nekromantik” and “Nekromantik 2”, which – er – don’t (but again they got good reviews from certain film critics who treated them as serious social and political psychological commentary rather than splatterpunk).

        I’m also thinking of the video to the Tom Petty song “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (what was it about the 90s and necrophilia?)

        So that’s three media examples off the top of my head 🙂

      • TD says:

        @Wrong Species

        “I think social conservatism is just codifying our inherent disgust reactions.”

        But if this were true, then why would there be such widespread resistance to social conservatism? It seems that as soon as we were able to abandon social conservatism, we did so with gusto, to the extent that even modern social conservatives, at least in the mainstream, are very moderate in comparison to their counterparts from decades ago. Perhaps our disgust instincts are malleable and we have another instinct to choose the path of least resistance that overrides them in safe environments, but I’m just throwing out random hypotheses here.

        • hlynkacg says:

          You seem to be conflating the current zeitgeist with “the natural order” or some such.

          just because things are like that now in your specific location does not mean that is the way things are elsewhere or were 5 years ago, never mind 50.

        • Alliteration says:

          I think it is because disgust was rejected as a valid basis for moral reasoning. The disgust is still there, people just don’t think is marks immorality.

          Just like how one person might dislike slaughtering animals, but someone else views the same feeling as evidence that slaughtering animals is evil.

  30. Howie says:

    From a glance at the inequality link, I think they are failing to find an increase in the Gini coefficient for individual income because of their failure to deal with a methodological issue that’s well-known in the field. This is bad enough that I think you should update the link.

    The Census data is topcoded to prevent individuals from being identifiable. The link mentions this as an explanation for a jump in inequality when the topcodes were increased. (Simplifying a bit) this means that everybody with an income above $X (changes across the sample but is about $1M for more recent data) is just assigned an income of $x. This means that the data they’re using does not include any of the increase in incomes at the very top of the income distribution that we’ve seen over the last couple of decades.

    The (imperfect) consensus way to deal with this is to replace the top-coded incomes with “cell means” (i.e. the average income among top-coded people within certain groups). Details here:
    http://www.jeff-larrimore.com/JESM_Larrimore_et_al_2008.pdf

    • Howie says:

      Oh – this is definitely going on. The paper that post cites for its data specifically says it doesn’t deal with the topcoding issue.

      Kitov, Ivan O. and Kitov, Oleg I. The Dynamics of Personal Income Distribution and Inequality in the United States. [PDF Document]. Fifth Meeting of the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality (ECINEQ). July 2013.
      http://www.ecineq.org/ecineq_bari13/FILESxBari13/CR2/p177.pdf
      “We should also
      point out the well-known problem of topcoding of high incomes, which may significantly affect
      the overall estimates (Larrimore et al., 2008; Burkhauser et al., 2011). This paper, however,
      presents a preliminary attempt to test our model and so we avoid discussion about correcting
      topcoded incomes and their cell means”

      “Furthermore, in this paper we did not correct for
      topcoded incomes and did not make any additional adjustments to the censoring of incomes,
      as applied to by the Census Bureau to high incomes. We propose to use income imputation
      methodologies, similar to the the ones developed in Piketty and Saez (2003) and Burkhauser
      et al. (2011), in order to improve the resolution of top incomes. Moreover, given that CPS
      does not provide good data for the top end of the income distribution, it should be possible to
      obtain additional information from the tax returns data provided by the IRS. “

      • Howie says:

        I don’t have time to think through where the best source of the data you actually want is. There are tons of sources on income inequality data and each have their strengths and weaknesses but nobody thinks the Kitov method is right. There are also lots of attempts to decompose the change in household/family income to see how much of it is due to changes in family structure [I’ll plug the book I worked on that made a back of the envelope attempt at this http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520266933 ] Some of the first places I’d look for more accurate data:

        The Census income inequality page. I think (but couldn’t swear) most of the income inequality data reported here makes at least a basic attempt to do topcoding adjustments. https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/inequality/

        Armour, Philip, Richard V. Burkhauser, and Jeff Larrimore. 2013. “Deconstructing Income and Income Inequality Measures: A Crosswalk from Market Income to Comprehensive Income.” American Economic Review, 103(3): 173-77.
        https://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.103.3.173

        Inequality graphs from the State of Working America. It’s done by the Economic Policy Institute, which has a U.S. labor-left agenda, but the data in SWA is reliable in my experience.
        http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/

        Saez’s website.
        http://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/

  31. Nornagest says:

    Immigrant men are much more likely to be employed than US men. I don’t know how much of this is that immigration selects for healthy people who want to work, how much of it is due to ease of illegally hiring them at less than minimum wage, and how much is due to the “immigrants do the jobs Americans won’t” effect.

    I’m not an expert, or even really a dilletante, in immigration law, but I’m under the impression that many paths to legal immigrant status more-or-less require the immigrant to have a good job. This would lead to obvious selection effects.

  32. zensunni couch-potato says:

    One night, full of shame and self-loathing for spending more time than I care to admit watching dash-cam crash vids, I swear I specifically thought to myself, “Scott Alexander would never waste his time watching this stuff.”

    I feel so vindicated.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I am definitely not a time management role model.

    • Tibor says:

      I watched that video for about 3 minutes…I really don’t get how one can find it interesting, I would cringe and hope the people turned out fine in each accident and did not want to continue watching. And I don’t mean it in a moralizing sense (“you should feel ashamed by enjoying that or being fascinated about that”), but purely in “why the hell would anyone want to watch this?”

      Could you (or Scott or anyone who finds it fascinating) try to explain the attraction to me?

  33. Sniffnoy says:

    Note that radar is itself a form of detection — that’s the “D” in the name, after all — and so R4D is, in fact, a detector detector detector detector detector.

  34. NuclearFantasies says:

    Honestly, traditional architecture just annoys me. Too much emphasis on ornamental nonsense, with very little by the means of actual engineering to admire.

    • Dahlen says:

      Ornamental nonsense happens to be what humans like. “Engineering to admire” sounds a lot like civil engineers using structural resistance calculations, e.g. for some rooftop that projects so unreasonably far away from the walls of the building that it attempts to defy gravity, as a proxy for a dick-measuring contest. “How did they manage that” is not a replacement admiration for “pretty and harmonious”.

      But no worries, you’ll feel right at home in most architecture departments or contemporary cities.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I think you’ll find humans do not have a consensus on the type of architecture or design they like. NuclearFantasies is presumably human; I am as well, and I prefer modern to traditional.

        • Vamair says:

          Sure, I believe Dahlen is talking about most humans in “this kind of architecture makes the average happiness grow” sense. I’m a little bit disappointed that the phrase “(members of group A) are (something)” is ever thought to mean “any (member of group A) is (something)” and not “a typical member of group A is something”, as the second meaning is much more common.

    • Psmith says:

      Cosigned. Give me an Eichler any day over a cottage with gargoyles.

  35. Dr Dealgood says:

    I’m interested in what people here think about the tornado issue, specifically the question it poses:

    Predicting tornadoes is evidently still much more difficult than for other types of extreme weather. Even with supercomputers and satellite data the warning times given are very short. And like most natural disasters any prediction of a tornado, true or false, risks causing panic. Additionally because people have trouble with low-probability events they will predictably overestimate the risk of living or doing buisness in “Tornado Alley.”

    At the same time, obviously a correct prediction will save lives and property. Not to mention that, as we saw, a blanket ban on forecasts made it more difficult to develop better models of tornado formation.

    So given that, was the Weather Bureau’s initial policy reasonable? What would the most prudent choice have been?

    • gbdub says:

      Tornadoes tend to be short term and relatively localized (certainly compared to other natural disasters). And the best immediate defense is usually “shelter in place”.

      So there’s no 3 days of warning to do panic buying (rather, you know tornado season is coming, so you keep your pantry stocked, but this happens every year). There’s no mass exodus of people clogging up the streets and causing riots. And when the twister does hit, it’s locally devastating but there’s usually undamaged infrastructure nearby from which relief can arrive quickly.

      The only way the WB’s policy might make sense is that people probably can be irrationally afraid of tornadoes, because of frequency, even though less frequent things like hurricanes or earthquakes are much more devastating. Like, if I were going to base my choice of locale on natural disaster risk, I’d much rather live in tornado alley than on the gulf coast.

  36. God Damn John Jay says:

    Has anyone been following the Batman vs Superman thing, apparently the audiences are okay with it but critics haven’t been so gleeful to shit on something since Battlefield Earth. I can understand disliking a movie or saying its boring or incoherent but I don’t remember people being this angry about Jurassic World or Age of Ultron.

    • I haven’t read too many critical reviews.

      I saw Batman V Superman last night. It was terrible. Most of the problems are around story structure, tone, and pacing. They tried packing too much into the movie and didn’t have any economy in their scene choices.

      A good counter-example to this is the Wonder Woman sub-plot of the movie, which is communicated with almost no dialogue whatsoever, which is good, because that woman cannot act to save her life. But goddam she looks awesome kicking ass.

      Ultron was much tighter, despite the fact that it covered MUCH more ground. The emotional arc existed and was clear.

      I know people will make references to Man of Steel. I liked Man of Steel. Yes, it was Grim-Dark, but it was contrasted with hopeful scenes and a hopeful soundtrack.
      This is not Grim-Dark:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHTv_oEfBow

      The fight scenes are also dramatically toned down from the prior movie. Superman was nerfed considerably. This is just epic:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqlaXylsMwQ
      The fight scene between Batman and Superman strikes me as absolutely pathetic. It also did a HORRIBLE job showing Batman’s “always have a plan” stratagem.

      • Jeremy says:

        Re: Man of Steel…

        The dog. What about the dog. That scene just completely destroyed my suspension of disbelief.

        Like seriously, send the dad to save the dog, instead of the kid with superpowers?? Let the dad die instead of using your superpowers? How am I supposed to care about the dad dying, if superman himself didn’t even care enough to walk over and save him. That scene was probably the worst scene from any high budget movie I’ve even seen in my life.

        • Yeah, that scene…uhh…sucked.
          Scene posted:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSLXz8ReSe0
          I took away that John Kent did not believe Clark Kent was ready to be Superman, and the world was not ready for Superman.
          If you have a Dr. Manhattan running around, you want to make very sure Dr. Manhattan doesn’t snap and kill all of you. (Unsurprisingly, this is thinking of Batman in Batman V Superman).

          Clark Kent, at this point, isn’t ready to be Superman. You can hear it in the way John asks Clark “what’s wrong with being a farmer? That’s not worth anything? ” (paraphrased).
          Clark, when he becomes Superman, essentially becomes a God Amongst Men. But, he can’t see Through Heaven’s Eyes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG0a9WFkgzU

          This is the actually still the case at the beginning of Man of Steel. Clark doesn’t like a trucker. So he drives a bunch of tree trunks through the dude’s truck. Yep, real mature move “Supreman.”

          • If you have a Dr. Manhattan running around, you want to make very sure Dr. Manhattan doesn’t snap and kill all of you. (Unsurprisingly, this is thinking of Batman in Batman V Superman).

            The problem with this line of thinking is that failed assassination attempts are actually really high on the list of things that might convince a god to go all wrathful. The calculation is always done by calculators of great hubris, and they’re almost always wrong, in that there was never a serious chance that their murder attempts would backfire enough to send Superman down the Injustice path.)

            And now I kind of want to read a story in which Luthor creates an AI or other unfettered-by-emotion being to counteract the threat of Superman going rogue, and have it do the math, pop Luthor’s head off, and immediately go off to start a Superman fan club/cult so that he stays invested in humanity even when he has really bad days.

    • Deiseach says:

      It has Ben Affleck as Batman and since I can’t stand Ben Affleck’s face I have avoided watching trailers, etc. so I am not going to watch this.

      Henry Cavill as Superman doesn’t annoy me so much, but since he was in “Man of Steel” (which did annoy the ever-living crap out of me with its GrimDark ‘let’s wash all the colour out of Supes’ uniform and give him a totally artificial moral dilemma about well I guess I have to kill now’ sub-Punisher rubbish subplot – no, I don’t like Frank Castle either since I was not a fourteen year old boy when he came on the scene so “kill ’em all bigger guns” didn’t impress me as “now true adult themes in comics”) – yeah, I’m not going to be watching this movie.

      And I’m someone who saved up eight weeks worth of pocket money to buy a Superman/Batman annual back in the 70s so this should be the movie of my fangirl dreams. Then again, DC has always been rubbish at getting its titles on the big screen; Marvel is much cannier and better and doesn’t mess with the basic plots and characterisations, it knows what the fans want.

      Which is not “we filmed this movie at midnight down a coal mine in the middle of a rain storm is why you can’t see a damn thing on the screen and everyone is in shades of grey, black, or dark maroon, but admire our grittiness please!”.

    • Frog Do says:

      I liked how East Coast v Midwest was actually all about teaming up with Europe to destroy the evil schemes of West Coast, that’s definitely a moral I can get behind.

  37. Wilj says:

    Re: black Americans and Obama: since 98-99% of voting American blacks voted for him (in the first election, at least), and I don’t think 98+% of American blacks are Democrats, the effect is probably pretty strong.

    Or maybe they just really agreed with his political positions.

    • stargirlprincesss says:

      Gallup only has data on the Black vote up to 2000. But Blacks have voted incredible solidly Democratic in recent years.

      2000: 95% Gore
      2004: 93% Kerry
      2008: 93% obama
      2012: 95% Obama

      • anonymous says:

        Turnout is massively different in each of those elections (and much higher for Obama).

        • God Damn John Jay says:

          That still means that lots of people turned out specifically to vote AGAINST Obama.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          About 10% [9% here] more blacks voted in 2008 than in 2004. That’s more people than the net 6% who changed their vote from R to D, but reversing a vote counts twice, so the two effects are close in size. (Normalizing to 100 votes in 2004, this is 93-7=86 in 2004 and 109-1=107 in 2008 a gain of 21 net votes.)

      • Wilj says:

        The one number doesn’t seem right: Pew has Obama at 96% in 2008, ABC and CNN reported 98% (didn’t check where they found the number), and Wiki has 95%. Gallup itself reports 99% rather than 93%, as far as I can see. (You can find some references to Wikipedia saying 99% too, but it changed its mind at some point.)

        That’s closer to other elections than I’d realized, though.

      • stargirlprincesss says:

        Sorry the 93% in 2008 is supposed to be 99%!

  38. Ton says:

    The Free Northerner thing, based on your description, sounds like a modernization of Nietzsche’s master/slave morality argument.

    • Anon. says:

      How so?

      • Ton says:

        “Master morality weighs actions on a scale of good or bad consequences unlike slave morality which weighs actions on a scale of good or evil intentions.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master%E2%80%93slave_morality

        Masters are fine with free love etc as long as the consequences are good for them.

        http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/genealogyofmorals/section10/page/2/

        “In saying that the ascetic priest serves as a sick doctor to these sick masses, Nietzsche is suggesting that the ascetic priest directs and channels their degenerate wills to power. The three channels offered here are an extinction of the will, hard work, and the consciousness of sin and guilt.”

        In other words, such traits are good for the weak.

        http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/genealogyofmorals/section10/page/3/

        “The herd doesn’t have the option of being strong, and so for them, ascetic ideals may be the best alternative. Nietzsche’s main objection at this point is that these ascetic ideals have become so dominant that they have poisoned our entire species and harmed some healthy spirits that have no need of slave morality.”

        There’s definitely significant differences (e.g. compassion is a slave morality trait according to Nietzsche while an elite trait according to this theory) but much of the core structure is identical. Also, Nietzsche is an order of magnitude larger jerk than almost anything from them.

        • Anon. says:

          First of all that’s a terrible definition, makes it look like slave vs master morality is deontology vs consequentialism.

          To me it looks like the elites just have a different kind of slave morality. The motivation behind “free love” isn’t individualistic power or exceptionalism, it is hedonism and egalitarianism, the slave morality attitude par excellence. And the egalitarianism is certainly not motivated by its consequences.

          • Anon. says:

            And since we’re talking Nietzsche, let’s take a genealogical view of the matter. The sexual revolution, acceptance of drugs, etc. originated with the hippies. Need I say more?

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          I’d say that’s a very superficial reading of it.

          The key point of the Master / Slave dichotomy in my view is that each morality is driven by a different fear. The Master morality is ultimately terrified of contamination, and creates the idea of the Tshandala as it’s adversary. The Slave morality is likewise driven by fear of predation, and creates the idea of the World as it’s adversary. Of the two Master morality is preferable, because it at least acknowledges the Will, but the Superman ultimately rejects both because he isn’t afraid of the world or anything in it.

          That said, if you ask four people to read Nietzsche and tell you what he meant you’ll get five answers. What you get out of it tells you more about yourself than him.

          • Ton says:

            I think the main idea is really just distinguishing between multiple groups and multiple motivations for morality, and pointing out how one groups’ morality can spread/infect the other group even though it isn’t good for them.

            The exact details differ, but the general structure fits.

            The master/elite of the theory here matches up to some combination of master/slave of Nietzsche, and the lower class matches to a different combination. My point is not that it’s exactly the same distinction, but that there are important structural similarities.

            I also disagree with your understanding. Have you read the essays where he lays out the theory? He’s clear that masters aren’t afraid of anything, they just come up a morality that makes them good (but the poor aren’t morally wrong, good/bad is not a moral judgement).

            Your description of slave motivation is accurate.

            He explicitly complains about masters getting “shackled” by slave morality, while the other theory is sort of complaining about the opposite. The categories are not identical as above, so some of the complaint overlaps. Anyway the structure seems more important.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Yes, I’ve read a fair amount of his work. All translations unfortunately since my German is still too weak to get anything out of the originals.

            Once I get out of work I’ll try to track down actual quotes, from ‘the Antichrist’ if I’m remembering it correctly. The issue is that almost everyone jumbles master morality up with the übermensch: master morality isn’t the goal, it’s just a better system that existed in the past. Once you get that his critique of master morality is easier to see, including how it ties into the fear of ritual contamination by contact with the Tshandala.

            As for the ethics of the modern left and right, it’s slave morality all the way down. Nobody who matters seriously follows master morality anymore: even explicit egoists like Ayn Rand depend on a conception of good and evil. God may be dead but for the most part people still haven’t noticed.

          • Ton says:

            First of all note that he contradicts himself in different works, you can’t assume everything makes sense and mix stuff up.

            I haven’t read all of his writings, only what we did in a class on him. What I’ve said is mostly based on genealogy of morals.

            The extreme right does seem to want master morality back or some aspects thereof.

  39. Careless says:

    I am not a marketing expert, but I feel like it is a bad idea to name your experimental aircraft company “Boom”.

    I’m reminded of Southwest’s briefly run campaign “we follow our heart” which coincided with them painting hearts on the bottom of the plane.

  40. blacktrance says:

    One of the main problems with arguments like The Free Northerner’s is that it ascribes to impulsiveness and normlessness what should be ascribed to strong and dysfunctional norms. If a lower-class person in that environment decided to deliberate before acting, to communicate openly and honestly with their romantic partners and to customize relationships to suit them, to not do drugs or to only use them rarely, to turn down sex when it’s not a good idea, and so on, they’d get a lot of pushback from their peers. To many people, acting like that is foreign – against the norms they are being pushed on them. For example, see accusations of “acting white”. And if this is the problem, then norms should be weakened even more.

    These kinds of arguments also often engage in a kind of motte-and-bailey about what it means to live conservatively, e.g. that the liberal upper-classes preach liberalism but practice conservatism in their personal lives, because they don’t have children out of wedlock, have a lower divorce rate, etc. But there’s a huge difference between being prudent and being conservative. The way in which liberals avoid those problems is significantly different from how strong conservatives avoiding them, e.g. abortion, birth control, egalitarian relationships, and so on.

    • Vox Imperatoris says:

      I agree with this, but I also agree with what multiheaded was saying: give me a “ruthless” sink-or-swim mentality any day over this kind of noblesse oblige where the rich people get together to figure out what kind of values they need to impose on the poor.

      • blacktrance says:

        I agree and that’s what I’d say in a less convenient world, but fortunately the case for social liberalism is even stronger than that.

      • LPSP says:

        I take it the name Vox Imperatoris is ironic.

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          Sort of, but not really.

          I’ll just link to where I answered someone else asking this question.

          • LPSP says:

            I read the link, and it does seem to clash with your response to Blacktrance’s post. Where does “monarchism in spirit, but not in practice” diverge from “those with self control should encourage moral strictures on those without”?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            Where does it converge?

            The problem with democracy is that, as Peter van Doren puts it, libertarian policy is a public good. It’s good for everyone, but no one in particular has the incentive to provide it.

            In my fantasy world, we’d have sovereign who made sure the government protected individual rights and did nothing else. Where does paternalistic intervention come in? I’m talking about checking the desires of the mob to exert their insane rule over everyone else. Not checking the liberty of free individuals.

            The problem with monarchy, of course, is that it’s not likely to produce such a result.

          • LPSP says:

            Defying the will of normal people to engage in the wasteful and miserable act of forming a mob is a subset of defying the will of normal people to engage in wasteful and miserables acts. If preventing collective action is the crucial element of this monarchism and not the enforcement of law, perhaps Vox Individualis would be a fitting name?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            It’s not about “preventing collective action” as such. It’s about preventing the violation of rights.

          • LPSP says:

            We approach the crux of the issue. What do rights do that laws can’t?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ LPSP:

            What do rights do that laws can’t?

            What is this question supposed to mean? What are you driving at?

            Let me put things another way: I think people should be able to live their own lives, by their own judgment, and as a result earn and use their own property—without interference through the initiation of the use of force. In other words, I support a political-economic system of laissez-faire capitalism.

            Obviously, I cannot present in a blog comment the full moral and practical, philosophical and economic case for laissez-faire capitalism. But I think that it is the system best fitted to the requirements of human nature and the prosperity and happiness of people in general.

            There is one problem: how do you maintain such a system? The ideal solution would be some kind of enlightened monarch who never initiated the use of force but used it in retaliation against criminals and aggressors.

            But that is not a realistic solution. And so we have to turn to theories ranging from those of democratic-republicans like Madison and Jefferson to those of anarcho-capitalists like David Friedman and Michael Huemer.

    • multiheaded says:

      If a lower-class person in that environment decided to deliberate before acting, to communicate openly and honestly with their romantic partners and to customize relationships to suit them, to not do drugs or to only use them rarely, to turn down sex when it’s not a good idea, and so on, they’d get a lot of pushback from their peers.

      100%. See also: clueless and callous cis feminists mocking “toxic masculinity” without understanding how much of a defense mechanism it is.

    • Frog Do says:

      “The way in which liberals avoid those problems is significantly different from how strong conservatives avoiding them, e.g. abortion, birth control, egalitarian relationships, and so on.”
      This claim is usually strongly contested. It is asserted that liberals do not practice these things, only promote them. A common red triber African American theory is that this is a deliberate practice to destroy their community.

      Edit: A lot of this is deliberately being read very uncharitably. “Being able to discuss and talk about these norms in the public sphere as if they are not degenerate throwbacks to a savage culture” suddenly becomes “imposing values on the poor helpless proles, oh no, how will the proles ever be able to stop the Mighty Rich People”. Very self-serving! Do at least make an effort to understand the Hated Other, I know it’s hard.

    • The Nybbler says:

      This is a different root cause, but the same solution still seems workable; namely, that we the successful elites _impose_ a better set of norms upon them.

    • eh says:

      Can norms be weakened without others filling the vacuum? One argument I’ve seen is that the erosion of black marriage in the US led to a series of harmful cultural norms. Another is that a decline in religiosity increased social isolation. Maybe attempting to reduce drinking will increase opioid addiction or even increase drinking[0], customised relationships will lead to antinatalism and a spike in murders, and greater responsibility will lead to larger mortgage deposits and greater wealth transfer away from the proles.

      A norm is only bad in relation to other possibilities, and for any given bad norm, a pathway to replacing it with a better one must be shown to exist. How, exactly, do I stop drinking every weekend if my entire friendship network is based on alcohol, or stop having promiscuous sex if it’s expected of me? I have a friend who tells people he is Muslim so he can have an excuse for not drinking, and another who uses “I’m saving myself for marriage” as a way to avoid getting hit on in pubs; “God told me not to” is a generally well-received excuse for breaking harmful norms, but religion itself might be considered a harmful norm.

      I’d be interested to hear an elaboration of what actions you want taken. Do you want to actively weaken norms? Which ones? How? Will you be able to weaken them all at the same time? What could go wrong with such an attempt? Why are your weaker norms different from Free Northerner’s stronger norms – is the exception vox and multi talk about principled?

      Lastly, I’ll note that imposing a norm of “gay relationships are the same as straight relationships” doesn’t seem much different to imposing a norm of “drug users are degenerate scum”. Both are externally imposed on the proles by the elite, “for their own good”, but one is noble activists lobbying for change whlle the other is creepy oligarchs getting together to run some propaganda.

      [0] DARE may have increased suburban drug use: http://jrc.sagepub.com/content/35/4/381.short

    • LPSP says:

      Have you considered that vulnerability to peer pressure might itself be the larger part of the lack of self control that Free Northerner discusses?

  41. Elizabeth says:

    Here’s a fundraiser for Katie and Andromeda Cohen, a bay area rationalist and her kid. [https://www.gofundme.com/a5uxh65g] .

    Scott, would you post this in the next Open Thread? I’m happy to write up a blurb about why I think putting money on this particular thing is a good idea, if that would be useful.

    • anonymous says:

      I assume that a rationalist Bay Area single mom put up a gofundme so she could coordinate contributions from the dozen or so possible fathers.

      • null says:

        Are you serious?

        • Theo Jones says:

          Its the same anon account that has been trolling threads for about a week now. I reported it.

          • Anonymoose says:

            Worth mentioning that icon is for anon@gmail.com

            While it may very well be the same one you are thinking of, it’s an account used by multiple people.

          • Anonymous says:

            The email yes, but the nick only is used by 1-3 people.

          • Soumynona says:

            I doubt diffusion of responsibility will stop the banhammer.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous

            I’m not sure why you think that.

          • Anonymous says:

            I assume the banhammer is IP based, so whether someone is using the same email and nickname as the anon collective should be irrelevant.

            Hell, if people are so bothered by our rise, I’d be OK with a swifter banning policy for anons. I have been against the Reign of Terror (and I’m glad Scott has gone back to issuing warnings before bans), but I think an extra responsiblity of consistently not being an ass is a fine tradeoff for the extra freedom that Anonymity provides.

    • Brett says:

      If you actually want people to donate, some – any! – description of why she needs money and help would probably be a good idea, since that website doesn’t say more than she’s a single mother and needs money.

  42. onyomi says:

    One other point about Free Northerner:

    Based on personal experience, the “rootless” thing is quite significant, at least in my line of work (academia). Over the past few years, I’ve been constantly applying for jobs in hopes of getting a permanent, reasonably remunerative job in my field. Being a grad student, then a postdoc, then a visiting professor, I’ve had to move to another city, if not another continent, on average, once every couple of years for the past decade. One year, my best job prospect was in New Zealand–an offer I turned down to take an inferior job closer to my family. This past year, my best prospects were in Hong Kong and Singapore, and I will probably, in fact, be moving to Hong Kong fairly soon.

    Many in my field would frown on my unwillingness to move to New Zealand for my career, and the idea that I should be willing to move to Hong Kong is just taken for granted. If my career failed to take off because I insisted on living within 1000 miles of my family, it would be seen as entirely my own fault.

    To be fair, this kind of lifestyle sort of works for me: I find living in new and different places to be fun, and while moving is a hassle, it doesn’t bother me that much. But I can easily imagine many people for whom this is not so fun, nor even tolerable. Those people would be shut out of my career area, and probably not a few others besides, even if otherwise highly qualified.

    Yes, my area of specialization has something to do with where my best prospects are located, but one can similarly imagine that a tech person unwilling to relocate to California, or a journalist unwilling to relocate to NYC would be similarly disadvantaged.

    • onyomi says:

      Related, but different issue: I see all kinds of articles lately telling me how in the “new economy” I have to be a self-starter: I can’t rely on a 9-5 paycheck. I have to get creative, be my own boss, “monetize” my passion, etc. etc.

      In other words, the economy is GREAT right now assuming you are a creative, intelligent self-starter with no deep ties to your local community.

      • Deiseach says:

        I can’t rely on a 9-5 paycheck. I have to get creative, be my own boss, “monetize” my passion, etc. etc.

        And have a marketable passion (suppose your passion is for growing the world’s largest melon? not much of a market there!) and access to funding to turn that into a business, even if it’s “rich uncle Jones who will take 80% of the first five years’ profits in return”.

        I do wonder how many of these articles are turned out by freelancers living hand-to-mouth (or even, in the case of the Huffington Post UK, not being paid at all) and who are in no position to follow the advice they’re regurgitating 🙂

        • Saint Fiasco says:

          Probably less than you think. After all, the freelancers who do succeed are all too happy to share the secrets of their success with us mere mortals, so by selection effects those are the freelancers we hear about the most.

    • Loquat says:

      My sister’s in academia, too – currently doing a postdoc several hundred miles away from basically everyone she knew prior to taking the position, and expecting to move somewhere completely different after the postdoc ends in a year or two. It doesn’t seem to be a big problem for her currently, especially since she’s single and childless, but it definitely seems like a lifestyle that gets exponentially harder when you have even a single person you want to stay physically close to.

    • Tibor says:

      This is the main reason I am pretty sure I will not look for a Post-Doc position once I finish my PhD. Moving once or twice may be fun, but in academia, you seem have to do it several times (basically until you get a permanent professorship and a tenure somewhere…which is not all that easy). I found Hong Kong (since you’re mentioning it) fascinating and would love to maybe spend a year or two working there. But I probably don’t want to spend my thirties going from one part of the world to another every 2-3 years, always starting again in the new place. I especially cannot imagine doing that while having kids (or even being in a serious long-term relationship…you then have to move somewhere both of you can get a good job which is not so easy, definitely not when done so often).

      I had a colleague, a really smart guy, who quit academia recently (which really surprised me). He was a PhD student of my advisor, then went to do his PostDoc to Nürnberg, came back to us for a year still as a PostDoc and now moved to Dresden (where he and his wife both found interesting jobs) to work in the industry. One reason for that decision was the constant moving he did not like. I guess Americans see it a bit differently and calling “constant moving” the situation where you keep moving in an area of something like 300-400 km in radius may sound funny to you (although in Europe this would in a lot of places mean possibly moving around several countries), but while it is true that you can visit home more often that way, you still spend most of your time in the city where you work and there you have to find new friends and settle in each time you move.

  43. Glen Raphael says:

    Private non-violent police company successfully enforces order in parts of Detroit.

    The podcast interview makes it sound like this guy is some kind of policing savant who succeeds in part by coming up with new context-dependent sneaky tricks that merely drive criminals elsewhere. It reminds me of stories about specific amazing teachers – say, Jaime Escalante or John Taylor Gatto – who got great results for their kids even while working within a generally dysfunctional system that fails others. I don’t doubt these specific results are great but I would be surprised – pleasantly surprised, but surprised – if the approach works as well scaled up by enough orders of magnitude to make much difference.

    One success story involved installing fake/nonfunctional videocameras around a building complex and then gently letting local drug dealers know that the police department has asked to look at the footage from those cameras. Rational criminals in that situation would quite sensibly choose to go hang out in some OTHER building complex that doesn’t have any cameras – it’s not worth their trouble to test whether the rumor is true.

    Another story involved posting a fake official-looking sign warning any police who might raid this location to the presence of undercover cops disguised as drug dealers. This sign made the drug dealers in that location stop trusting one another and sharing information, again encouraging them to move somewhere else.

    Possibly the best story of this sort was the time his security forces appeared to severely beat and kidnap and “disappear” some drug dealers pour encourager les autres – the criminals who got “disappeared” turned out to be actors; their “beating/kidnapping” was choreographed in advance. (this one worked TOO well – it scared the local community at least as much as it scared the drug dealers so he had to come clean and only used that tactic once).

    • Deiseach says:

      That sounds interesting – the “we don’t care if the dealers and associated crime move to YOUR neighbourhood, we’re hired to move them out of THIS neighbourhood and you’re not the ones paying us” element makes me wonder if there could be the seeds of a bidding war.

      Neighbourhood association pays $20,000 a year to move the drug dealers.

      Drug dealers form a co-op, offer to pay $30,000 a year not to be moved off.

      You could drive the price up until one side wasn’t able to or didn’t want to pay more, and I imagine the drug dealers would have more cash to throw at the problem. Hire the pay-cops to keep competitors off their turf plus the ordinary citizens have no say since they’re not paying the pay-cops enough to move the criminals.

      Apparently they’re hired by owners of big buildings in the ghetto to decrease crime and misbehavior in their building thus raising land values, and their secret to success is being very caring and understanding to people and engaging with the community.

      And then once you’re chased out the criminals, the property values go up and the owners can gentrify or sell to investment funds or ask higher rents and drive out the community originally living there. Kinder, gentler policing! No more drug dealers, but no more home!

      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        If the drug dealers are paying enough so that the neighborhood association finds it more worthwhile to allow them to operate than to pay more to kick them out, what’s the problem?

        It seems like we have a win-win situation: the drug dealers get to sell drugs, and the residents of the neighborhood are compensated for the resulting decline in neighborhood quality. Markets at work!

        • Jiro says:

          In this example, the drug dealers don’t need to compensate the residents for the decline in neighborhood quality. They only need to pay more than the neighborhood association. The neighborhood association is limited by budget, so the resulting sum paid by the drug dealers may not be enough.

          If the drug dealers do a million dollars of damage, and the neighborhood watch only has $20,000 to pay the security forces, the drug dealers can outbid them by paying $30,000 and still end up doing $970,000 of uncompensated damage.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            The neighborhood association ought to be willing to pay an amount up to the costs of moving to a new neighborhood. After that, the drug dealers buy them out and they leave.

            Now, I was joking a little bit in that post. Of course having the drug dealers able to violate their property rights with impunity would be bad for the residents of the neighborhood. The drug dealers would be able to take away all the surplus value they get from living there.

            All we have here is a Coasian problem. The efficiency of the arrangement is the same whether the (de facto) right to be on the property selling drugs belongs to the neighborhood association or to the drug dealers. But since the right to be on the property selling drugs is valuable in itself, we may see a different outcome depending on the people to whom it is assigned, as a result of income effects.

          • Jiro says:

            The neighborhood association ought to be willing to pay an amount up to the costs of moving to a new neighborhood. After that, the drug dealers buy them out and they leave.

            That has exactly the same problem: The amount they are willing to pay is limited by the size of their pocketbook, but the damage the drug dealers can do isn’t. The idea that they “ought to be willing to pay an amount up to the costs of moving to a new neighborhood” fails to account for that, since the cost of moving to a new neighborhood may be larger than their pocketbook, especially since drug dealers tend to operate in poor neighborhoods where the inhabitants are unusually likely to be unable to afford the cost of moving.

            (Also, note that the cost of moving is not the same as the price paid to the movers.)

        • Deiseach says:

          The drug dealers are paying the pay-cops to let them operate, they’re not paying the residents’ association to let them stay.

          Unless the residents cut a deal: pay us X amount a year and you can deal without hassle from us. Then again, the dealers would need to keep the petty crime down – so it’s your Sons of Anarchy or Godfather scenario: no crime in this town/area because the drugs/arms/prostitution rackets are being run out of here but the gangs keep discipline in return for no police involvement.

      • Furslid says:

        Well, it might lead to an important development. Drug dealing is not a business that should be run in residential buildings. If the drug dealers got run off to actual premises designed for business it could be a lot better.

      • Glen Raphael says:

        It’s probably going too far to expect that all the effort just moves the crime around. But some of it does.

        The part of this effort that might scale is: find the most crime-ridden building in town. Go to the building owner and say “if you give us a rent-free apartment, we’ll help cut down the crime.” Find a local you can move into the free apartment whose job (in exchange for the free rent) is to be generally observant and figure out what the problems are, and give that guy some support in trying to fix the problems. Then DO SCIENCE – try a bunch of approaches and keep track of what works and what doesn’t work.

        Once you find stuff that works, you’ve made the building less crime-ridden, which makes for more secure long-term rent-paying tenants, which makes the building owner happy.

        Then find the second-most crime-ridden building in town, rinse and repeat.

        It seems like it’s working now because the guy running the effort is a savant who found his niche, somebody who deeply cares who is somehow managing to find great people and give them good advice. If this DOES scale, it’d probably have to grow slowly and organically, like AA. If you were to throw lots of resources at growing it much faster, I’d expect it all to turn into a boondoggle for a few reasons:

        (1) the quality of the local supervisor you install in those free apartments matters a lot; the 100th guy you find to do that job might not CARE quite as much about helping his community (as opposed to caring about getting free rent) as the first dozen did.

        (2) the nature of the problems is different; the exact same sneaky trick that helps chase crooks out in Chicago might be a complete flop in New Orleans and vice-versa.

        (3) the “violent drug dealer” community will eventually adapt and see through some of your best tricks, leading to some form of arms race even if it doesn’t take the form of a bidding war. For instance, you might have to splurge on videocameras that actually work and then actually get the police interested in looking at them rather than merely spreading rumors to that effect.

        The good news from an economics perspective is that even just “forcing violent drug dealers to move” raises the marginal cost of being a drug dealer. They weren’t in the exact place they are by pure random luck – they were there because it was the best place for them to deal drugs (from their perspective) given whatever constraints they were facing at the time. Move them from there to the second- or fourth- or tenth-best available location and they probably won’t be quite as happy and secure in their profession – on the margin, you’ll end up with fewer violent drug dealers than before.

        • Samedi says:

          On the subject of moving the crime, I wonder why some cities don’t try a more robust approach: banning felons entirely. For example, city X passes an ordnance that felons are not allowed within its jurisdiction. I feel that crime prevention gets little attention compared even though security experts in most fields favor prevention.

          It seems straight-forward to me that preventing crime is preferable to catching and punishing criminals. Especially under the current US system where victims are not usually compensated for the crime perpetrated on them.

          • Jiro says:

            I bet that would lead to a discrimination lawsuit based on disparate impact.

          • Frank McPike says:

            @Jiro
            Under what law?

            (Personally, I’d be a lot more worried about Constitutional claims. Specifically, the Ex Post Facto Law Clause)

            @Samedi
            I don’t see why you think that policy would prevent crime, as opposed to simply shifting it around. This seems akin to asking why co-operators in a prisoner’s dilemma do not take the straight-forward step of defecting.

            (I don’t really understand the premise of your question either. Most policy-makers in the United States are interested in preventing crime, and routinely make alterations to the criminal justice system for that purpose. Many have taken the step of actually removing felons from society by giving them, and repeat offenders in particular, extremely long prison sentences. At present, there is an emerging bi-partisan consensus that this is an inefficient way of preventing crime, that we’ve already reached the point of seriously diminishing returns, and even the people who do favor large amounts of incarceration think it should be a lot better targeted.)

          • Douglas Knight says:

            The Supreme Court found that Megan’s Law did not violate the Ex Post Facto clause.

          • Frank McPike says:

            @Douglas Knight
            That’s true, and I certainly don’t mean to say that the proposed law would certainly be found in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause. But I think it probably would:

            1. Pretty much all the cases that really stretch the limits of the Ex Post Facto Clause concern sex offenders. And courts are routinely more hostile towards the rights of sex offenders than toward those of felons in general.

            2. Even in those cases, the laws were controversial. Some circuits did strike down similar laws. And the Supreme Court decisions on the issue were either 6-3 (Smith v. Doe) or 5-4 (Kansas v. Hendricks). And it’s worth noting that Scalia was in the majority in both; if those cases had reached the Court today, we’d probably be looking at two 4-4 splits.

            3. Part of the reason Megan’s Law was upheld was because the disability or restraint it imposed on offenders was minor. The same is not true of Samedi’s proposed law. When an indisputably major restraint was imposed (Kansas’s Sexually Violent Predator Act, for instance) a separate civil commitment proceeding needed to be held in order to avoid an Ex Post Facto Clause challenge (not to mention a Due Process Clause challenge).

          • BBA says:

            If it were allowed, and feasible, then every city would pass such a law, and felons would have to live under a bridge.

          • Samedi says:

            @Frank McPike

            I take your point that prisons do represent moving the criminals away from cities. I think prisons are problematic for a number of reasons. My preferences for an improved criminal justice system would be, in order:
            1. Prevention
            2. Compensation
            3. Retribution
            With a strong focus on 1 & 2.

            For this reason I like the idea of “crime insurance”. This would ensure that victims are properly compensated. Those who do not have the insurance would be banned; which is probably more fair than simply banning all felons. Decriminalization of “vice” should probably go along with this.

            How would such a scheme work in practice? I don’t know. I think it would be better than our current system. As a general principle, I believe in gradual, incremental change so the bugs can be worked out.

          • Jordan D. says:

            IIRC, a few jurisdictions have done that for sex offenders, with legally messy results on account of the fact that courts don’t think very highly of a strategy of dumping all undesirable people on your neighbors (which they then do in turn, creating a magical waterslide of regulation which forces the offender to become a wandering hobo or something).

          • Nicholas says:

            Florida tried this. It lead to a constantly traveling caravan of homeless felons (specifically child molesters) who can’t be tracked, have no ties to the community, and disappear tomorrow after committing a bunch of crimes.

          • TD says:

            Take this idea to its extreme and you build a whole separate city walled off and just for criminals (and one man has to go in because the President and blah).

          • You could call it a city of refuge.

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            I assume these enter into your book on legal systems somewhere? Although I don’t remember them in your chapter on Jewish law, but they are too interesting to leave out.

          • I mentioned the cities of refuge briefly in the discussion of what happened to a killer. If his crime was found to be non-capital he was sent to one of the cities of refuge to remain in exile there until the high priest died–a sentence of uncertain length.

            Part of what I find interesting is that Maimonides tells us that, and lots of other stuff involving the cities of refuge, and the high priest, and the Temple, despite none of them having existed for a thousand years or so at the time he wrote.

      • Nornagest says:

        Low-level drug dealing isn’t particularly lucrative, and at the scale of a neighborhood you’re going to be dealing with pretty small-time characters.

        I’m not sure how mobile they’d be, either. Illegal trade works over social networks — except in a few places where there’s zero enforcement (every time I walk through Golden Gate Park, someone tries to sell me weed), you need to know a guy. If a dealer agrees not to sell to his neighborhood, he’s essentially cutting himself off from most of his customer base.

    • God Damn John Jay says:

      Interesting thing about Jamie Escalante was that his kids both:

      A) Actually cheated (I think later students admitted that they did so)

      B) Really learned the material and went on to actual success after leaving Escalente.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Which leaves them in the same position as traditional high-achieving students. Cheating is common, and high-achieving students cheat more.

        • God Damn John Jay says:

          B was supposed to be my main point (They were eventually retested and passed) . A was just the kind of interesting in the sense that I like over-complicated stories (consider the OJ was guilty and framed conspiracy theory, its untrue but interesting).

      • Glen Raphael says:

        According to Gatto, one of Escalante’s tricks was that he ignored the official school textbooks and official curriculum and instead obtained copies of the kind of self-paced self-instruction workbooks used by homeschoolers. Using self-paced material, everybody in the class – at least everyone who could read and write – could learn at their own pace. Let some of the kids who are ahead (and just figured it out, so the tricky bits are fresh in their mind) help some of the ones who are behind and the teacher can focus on keeping kids generally motivated and productive and helping the occasional one who gets particularly stuck along the way.

        It beats the traditional classroom approach of giving general lectures to kids most of whom are bored out of their skulls because either they got lost at some earlier step or the material is so repetitive that they already know it.

        Escalante was a great teacher, but he wasn’t a great math teacher – the math teaching was largely done by whoever wrote the workbooks.

        • Anon says:

          Let some of the kids who are ahead (and just figured it out, so the tricky bits are fresh in their mind) help some of the ones who are behind

          This can be a decent teaching technique when the more advanced kids are doing it voluntarily, but it’s a horrible technique when teachers force them to do it. When it’s involuntary, everyone loses. The advanced kids feel like they’re being taken advantage of and end up resenting the slower kids, while the slower kids feel embarrassed that their inability to understand the material is resulting in the kids who do understand it being forced to explain it over and over.

          This technique also works better when the slower kids are only a little bit behind the advanced kids. If there’s only a small amount of material they don’t get, the advanced kids can teach it to them pretty quickly with a minimum of resentment. But if they’re really, really far behind, it’s best for the teacher to take those kids aside and teach it to them himself/herself.

          I’ve been in a lot of classes where teachers used this technique, so I’ve seen the upsides and downsides a lot of times.

  44. Loquat says:

    I wouldn’t get too excited about the low prices at Fort Galt – $10,000 doesn’t buy you what most people think of as an “apartment”, it buys you a 4′ by 10′ dorm room with access to a shared bathroom down the hall. If you actually want a real apartment with your own bathroom and kitchen, you’re looking at $55k minimum, up to $88k – and the bigger apartments are still only in the 220-350 square foot range. Sure, it’s still half the price of the average condo (at least near Philadelphia, where I live), but the average condo around here is also more like four times the size.

    • Elizabeth C says:

      I looked up some real estate prices in Valdivia, and it looks like you can get a 2 bedroom house for about $150,000. So for the space you get it seems very overpriced.

      To me the value of a place like Fort Galt would be the community and the shared facilities, like the Makerspace. But I would need more space than they would provide. I wonder if they would let a person just pay a membership fee to use the services, and live in a house in town.

      For someone who just wants a tiny bunk, it’s a pretty good deal, and those people are generally underserved.

      • Loquat says:

        They apparently have a few dozen lots available for sale that you can build your own house on – size ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 square meters, price currently ranging from about $30k to over $200k. Plus whatever it costs you to get the house built, obviously.

        Unclear whether they’d let you live in Valdivia and still use the services – though that seems like it might well be an attractive option for locals with an interest in Maker culture if they ever decide to offer it.

      • Anthony says:

        I wonder if they would let a person just pay a membership fee to use the services, and live in a house in town.

        I suspect that’s the typical buyer of the $10k space.

      • jf says:

        From what I can make out, that’s actually the target market that the project started out catering towards. Apparently it was born as a project inside the failed Galt’s Gulch Chile and, as that failure became apparent, moved away from it and towards its own space. The founder, Gabriel Scheare, goes into detail in this presentation at an entrepreneurship bootcamp down there in Chile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-lF9t0N-gM

    • Wrong Species says:

      It does show that libertarians are basically right on the housing problem. I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that homelessness could be basically eliminated if regulators didn’t insist on putting all of these luxuries in every living space.

      • Nornagest says:

        As sympathetic to the libertarian perspective on housing as I am — and I am very sympathetic — I don’t think we should call it proven until there are actually people living there, and ideally have been for a while. Experimental housing projects, both state-sponsored and non-, pop up all the time and most of them fail in a few years.

    • thedufer says:

      For reference, every configuration on that site comes out to exactly $250/sqft (like, they must’ve intentionally priced it that way). That’s higher than the average price in every US state except Hawaii and California. I get that it’s waterfront, but still. Doesn’t seem like that great of a deal.

      • Gabe says:

        Yeah, the idea is that the cost of the units has to fund the common facilities and amenities too. You’re not just paying for a room like an airbnb in town, you’re also getting the rights to access the rest of the community like the rainforest park, the shore, the makerspace, etc.

  45. John Schilling says:

    If there’s a supersonic airliner in the not-impossibly-distant future, it will probably be these guys, with a much more credible technical and business plan. Also a much more realistic understanding of what it takes to put a commercial aircraft into service. The FAA and to some extent its overseas equivalents are quite permissive about people taking risks with their own lives, but have almost zero tolerance to risking the lives of passengers of commercial transportation services[*]. In order to sell tickets, you have to affirmatively prove your airplane’s safety in a way that tends to take a decade and a quarter of a billion dollars if you are starting from scratch.

    Yes, that’s a barrier to entry, and it probably has to be there in any society this side of anarcho-capitaltopia but it maybe doesn’t need to be so high. And the FAA is working to lower it, but they are going to start small, with private and low-end commuter aircraft. Anybody proposing to put a supersonic airliner in service in this decade or the next, is going to have to do it under the old rules.

    * On this planet. The FAA has carved out an exception for Space Flight Participants, making it legal to sell tickets on an unproven spaceship so long as you are very explicitly candid about what you are doing and what they are risking. You still have to prove that there’s less than one chance in a million of killing anyone on the ground, usually accomplished by launching over the ocean.

    • brad says:

      When this story popped up the other day, I saw an estimate of around $1-$1.5B before booking the first dollar of revenue (though they may actually receive some money before that as a deposit or something).

      I went to go look for the largest amount of money raised without getting any revenue. Let’s say nominal so we don’t have to go looking at tulip companies or something. The best I could find was Snapchat, which I don’t think has made any revenue, and has so far raised $1.34B.

    • bean says:

      Well said. I work in the airliner industry, and somewhere north of 50% of my time is spent working on things that are mostly there to placate the FAA. Admittedly, this is probably on the high side, so I might be unduly pessimistic. That said, aerospace startups coming out of Silicon Valley have terrible records of delivering on their promises (all of SpaceX’s estimates can be improved by doubling them), and I don’t think these guys have any clue at all what they’re getting into. I noticed a lack of names from two companies in their employee list: Boeing and Airbus. I find it hard to take them seriously if they don’t have anyone with an airliner background. Someone from Embraer or Bombardier could be a reasonable alternative, but this looks like a bunch of people who have a cool engineering plan and no idea what the regulatory side looks like.

      • DensityDuck says:

        Maybe they’ll take the Uber philosophy of “F the rules, we’ll just do what we want and then claim that anyone who tries to stop us is an innovation-hater that’s trying to protect entrenched businesses”

        • gbdub says:

          Much harder when you need to get into a highly regulated airspace (and airports) as opposed to just driving around on public roads.

        • bean says:

          I’m not sure exactly what will happen to them if they try that, but it won’t be good.
          Nobody is allowed to offer scheduled air transport services if the airplanes they are operating do not meet certification requirements. Period. If the airplane in question is not properly certified for carrying passengers, no airline will buy it. If they try to set up their own airline, nobody will deal with them. They won’t be able to get financing, they won’t be able to get takeoff slots, and they won’t be able to get fuel.
          Uber was doing things that were only questionably illegal in an environment where enforcement was very hard. This plan involves doing things which are very clearly illegal in an environment where enforcement is very easy. This is an industry where fines in the millions of dollars happen for paperwork being a few days late. They’d end up bankrupt and probably in prison, and I doubt they’re that stupid.

          And the PR campaign would be a complete failure, too. It would be easy for the existing airlines and manufacturers to paint them as elitists (because, unlike Uber, supersonic seats are not something most people can use) who are at best exhibiting depraved indifference to the safety of the traveling public. There would be some truth to that, too. Keeping airplanes safe is hard. Maybe it’s been made harder than it needs to be, but there’s a lot of work that goes into making sure that the wings stay on the next airliner you get on.

    • Deiseach says:

      So what makes them think they can work where Concorde failed? I’d be interested to see if they have any solid “Okay, these are the lessons learned from that attempt and this is where we avoid the pitfalls”.

      Having a cool engineering design is not the same as having a successful business plan.

      • John Schilling says:

        The Aerion people, at least initially, are aiming for the high-end business jet market rather than the first-class airline ticket market. That was the biggest lesson of the Concorde – at the price point they needed to turn a profit, there weren’t enough customers to keep a fleet of hundred-passenger airliners flying across the Atlantic every few day. Particularly when all they could offer was speed between a few city pairs.

        Aerion isn’t expected to be as fast as the Concorde but it should have a longer range, giving the owner-operator more flexibility and reduced overall travel time between cities that don’t happen to be Paris, London, Washington, or New York. It offers the prestige of having a supersonic jet painted in your own livery, and it’s small enough that a wealthy individual can plausibly afford to own and operate it it where the Concorde required a state-sponsored airline.

        From there, if it works, it is likely to make its way to charter service and boutique airlines. If this generates enough demand, someone will probably look into building a 100-passenger SST again, but that would be somebodly like Boeing, not Aerion.

  46. Dahlen says:

    People prefer traditional-looking architecture and are willing to pay extra for it, so why aren’t we building more of it?

    GOOD QUESTION. The linked article surprised me somewhat by claiming that construction cost “has only a marginal or negligible impact”, compared to regulatory prescriptions; my intuition found it pretty obvious that ornaments raise the construction costs significantly by requiring skilled labour, something for which investors looking to sell housing to a mass market are not willing to pay. The other factor that loomed large in my mind was the prevailing zeitgeist of the architectural profession which taught and popularized modern building styles (incidentally, the final factor that convinced me not to go into architecture — hence, the obligatory warning that I might not know what I’m talking about here). But the idea that the demand is overwhelmingly on the side of traditional architecture and it’s mostly construction regulations that erect barriers in pursuing such development is… counterintuitive, to say the least. I mean, it’s known that public institutions tend to favor modernist headquarters, but then so do large private institutions, some of the more publicized trendsetting architects and so on.

    Unsurprisingly, the article comes from a libertarian think-tank.

    There’s something else compelling me to take issue with this statement: “Top-down planning ruins cities, wherever it is tried.” We all know the disaster that was Brasilia, but it’s worth pointing out that many of the Actual Traditional Cities in Europe, or at least their 18th-19th century historical centres, were indeed a result of top-down planning, and most people, foremost among them the crowds of tourists visiting historic centres of large European cities every year, are rather pleased with the results. A very famous example was the renovation of Paris under the lead of a prefect commissioned by Napoleon III. I don’t have many references on hand right now, but definitely the examples were manifold. My own city owes its best architecture from projects undertaken by two of our kings (as well as the numerous wealthy private commissioners of those times).

    In an age such as ours, I would find it hard to imagine all the various private agents converging on traditional styles. It’s very unlikely. Go to any neighborhood that didn’t start off as a large, aesthetically homogeneous development project (or the original developers lost their grip over the zone decades ago), and where people were mostly free to erect buildings in the style of their choice. It will be guaranteed to be very eclectic. Tastes are no longer as homogeneous as they used to be in the 19th century. If there were to be a development project targeting a very large area to redo it in a homogeneously antique style, I can’t see it happening any other way than through central imposition. (And even granting that there will be massive independent private development of traditional buildings — even though the buildings themselves are the biggest contributor to the look and feel of a zone, it’s not just that. Remember that the public space, the look of the streets, the regulations on advertising and other eyesores of the urban landscape, the streetlamps and signs and green space, all of these depend on public authorities for design.)

    • onyomi says:

      Was recently thinking about this while watching the film “In Bruges,” the only redeeming quality of which, from my perspective, was the city of Bruges: why is “well-preserved medieval city!” such a draw for people–as it certainly is for me? It’s not just a curiosity; given the option, I would genuinely rather live in a city like Bruges, Ghent, Prague, or Tallinn, because the architecture just makes me happy to look at it. And while I like old stuff more than average, I don’t think I’m alone in this judgment.

      Presumably we have exponentially more resources than the people who built these places, so why can’t we build cities that aesthetically please us anymore?

        • onyomi says:

          Very good. Thank you. I have personally encountered an extreme example of the phenomenon of contagious non-places and “green spaces” described, and this helps me make sense of what it was I found so deeply unsettling.

          Specifically, there are some very expansive suburbs currently growing around the Chinese city of Suzhou where I once lived (and, I believe, many other Chinese cities as well), and never have I seen more money poured into creating a more alienating, soul-crushing area. Everything is vast and not on human scale. You can’t get anywhere without a car. Even the branch campus of the university located in a suburb which I had to visit periodically was vast beyond reason. Thousands and thousands of square feet of useless “green space” one had to traverse on foot and/or by mini-bus.

          And most of the huge apartment complexes built in this expansive, paved, manicured, green wasteland, so far as I can tell, are still uninhabited. They were built there speculatively, because the value of homes always goes up in China, meaning it is good to invest in property, even if no one lives there.

          The theory, of course, is that as the Chinese continue to get richer and own more cars, they’ll want to live out in neat, manicured suburbs like the Americans do. So far, that hasn’t happened. They’d rather live in the traditional city where all the “places” are, where things are happening.

          • Dahlen says:

            Everything is vast and not on human scale. You can’t get anywhere without a car. Even the branch campus of the university located in a suburb which I had to visit periodically was vast beyond reason. Thousands and thousands of square feet of useless “green space” one had to traverse on foot and/or by mini-bus.

            Yes, that’s specifically the complaint that many people make about Brasilia, which, IIRC, was inspired by the aesthetics and urbanistic principles of Le Corbusier. The wiki says an architect once criticized this type of urbanism as “buildings in a parking lot”. My university suffers from much of the same problem — it takes about 15 minutes to get from the exit from the subway (which is on the edge of its perimeter) to wherever I have classes. There’s literally nothing in between, just a huge green waste.

            I’ve also heard about the abysmal fate of some real estate developments in your country — how the government keeps spending money on ghost cities nobody wants to live in.

          • Anthony says:

            Chinese property developers should talk to Chinese-American realtors. The desire for space versus proximity goes in waves. Chinese immigrants move out of apartments (tenements) in Chinatown to buy houses in less-densely-populated neighborhoods nearby. The kids like them, but the parents often end up moving back into Chinatown after a few years.

        • Dahlen says:

          Oh, the “really narrow streets” guy. He has good intuitions and very often speaks sense, but — just my two cents — the streets could get a wee bit wider without disaster ensuing. Greenery is not necessarily worthless space, if allowed to grow to a reasonable extent.

          • onyomi says:

            This guy’s writing kind of makes me rethink my intuition that the wave of the future is for people to live more and more spread out, due to the availability of Amazon Prime, Netflix, internet, and, eventually, driverless cars to get you lazily from point a to point b.

            I still think the prospect of living in the country is still getting better relative to the city because of all that, but the degree to which the density of the city may be a feature rather than just a bug is also something to take into account.

            And this also explains my intuition that America sucks at cities: most American cities have the nuisance of a city without many of the payoffs: especially the fun, charming walkable area, which, if it exists at all, tends to be in a mall or something you have to drive and park to get to.

            I am also further confirmed in my perplexity at people who worry about overpopulation. Even spreading out, there is a ridiculous amount of habitable empty space here on Earth which we aren’t using. People don’t spread out as much as they could because living in cities can be efficient and enjoyable. And if we take it as a given that people can be happy living in a Tokyo-density city, then the potential population of the Earth seems no less than 1 trillion. 10 trillion? We’d run out of resources, arguably, before space.

            Maybe the happy medium (which is not to say it will be adopted, but which we might hope for) is a larger number of small yet relatively dense cities. Part of what makes the country less attractive, at least in the US, right now is precisely that it’s so spread out. People think of this as an advantage–you can have a really big backyard, you don’t have to hear your neighbors, etc. but it can get old having to drive everywhere and to have to drive to another city if you want a pleasant pedestrian experience.

            It’s interesting to imagine a small town in the middle of nowhere which yet has Really Narrow Streets (TM), and whether that wouldn’t, in fact, be a more attractive place to live.

            The point below about China Town is also interesting: one feels that the country is superior for raising kids, the city for enjoying adulthood. The US is a very kid-centered culture by the standards of Europe, in my experience, so this makes sense.

            Of course, there is also the issue of safety. In the US there is currently a strong and not unjustified impression that the inner cities are now dangerous–certainly not places you’d want your kid walking around. Whether this is the cause or result of the suburbs is another question, but there are surely other factors at work, especially the drug war.

            Of course, the ultimate source of our problem I think is that early European immigrants came to the US to “live like kings.” Kings and nobles in the UK were distinguished by their large tracts of land. Problem is, you can’t have everyone live like a king before, pretty soon, you need to take a carriage/car to get anywhere interesting.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            “It’s interesting to imagine a small town in the middle of nowhere which yet has Really Narrow Streets (TM), and whether that wouldn’t, in fact, be a more attractive place to live.”

            I have been in some small towns in the south of France that very much resemble this description. I was only a tourist passing through, but they still seemed like places pleasant beyond belief to live in.

          • Bond says:

            “It’s interesting to imagine a small town in the middle of nowhere which yet has Really Narrow Streets (TM), and whether that wouldn’t, in fact, be a more attractive place to live.”

            I was just in Ollytantambo, Peru a couple weeks ago and it fit the bill – not the ruins that wikipedia shows, but the town itself, which was built in the 15th century to Inca scale – no horses or cars, just people in the streets. Extremely dense, mostly pedestrian, and in the middle of nowhere – it was terribly pleasant all around.

        • Psmith says:

          There were lots of people at the university, but was it “crowded”? Never happens.

          Says him. University campuses are much better during breaks, when their population drops by about 75%.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            Hell, my favorite time to live in my university TOWN was during breaks. Deserted streets and constant tranquility throughout the summer. It was paradise.

          • naath says:

            Blerch. My university city is much better during term. The regular students are much much better than the visiting students we replace them with all summer (mostly people on short English courses) at not, eg, standing in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD to take photographs of the bloody architecture.

            (I hate traditional architecture, the plumbing sucks, and people stand in the road to photograph it; at least nasty mid-century concrete blocks don’t inspire gawking)

        • Anonymous Coward says:

          I don’t know how to embed links in this comment, but James Howard Kunstler wrote a book called “The Geography of Nowhere” dealing with this very issue — he also runs a blog called “Clusterfuck Nation” on the subject. Which, in itself, is not an incredibly groundbreaking fact. What I find interesting about this in particular is that Kunstler himself has leaned quite right-wing in his beliefs and explanations (not a Trump voter, don’t worry) while retaining a poignant and relevant criticism of worthless suburban deathscaping.

          It irritates me that he bothers to focus any effort on Red Bros vs. Blue Bros, but this still shouldn’t discount the wisdom of what he says, I claim.

      • Dahlen says:

        I’d grumble something about the bloody zeitgeist, but that’s a non-answer, and it’ll stay that way until we have a crystal-clear understanding of its characteristics. Economic reasons currently pale in the face of cultural or structural hindrances.

        I wouldn’t know exactly what broad cultural preferences incline people towards modernism rather than old architecture; if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that people seek to avoid looking like a stodgy try-hard and put a greater price on simplicity, unpretentiousness, artistic wackiness, departure from the past (especially from past privileged class culture), and general hipsterism. Also, something in me finds it very likely that modernists like to force people to ask themselves whether their stuff has artistic merit or not, and through the asking to get people into the mindset of aesthetic criticism, which I suppose they value in itself. In any case, it’s a question very much worth investigating.

        For one, there is the prevailing pro-modernist sentiment I’ve talked about above, which causes the relevant professionals in the field, architects, to not even consider old styles, unless they’re hired by churches or something (in my observation, the major traditional style clients tend to be builders of places of worship). E.g. I’ve obtained a copy of the Neufert architecture textbook Architects’ Data and all the teaching therein seemed to apply exclusively to modernist buildings. Same with other architecture courses found online. Traditional architecture has been confined to the realm of art history. Alain de Botton made a point in the book The Architecture of Happiness that traditional style revivals were in poorer taste / had less aesthetic merit than a nice, clean, modernist style (he compared some European-style buildings in Japan with contemporary Japanese modernism and found the former lacking). That’s the prevailing attitude in architecture today. The stylistic choices for contemporary buildings owe as much to the architects as to the clients themselves.

        Speaking of which, most laypeople don’t really have very strong feelings about this, one way or another. There’s a point I keep returning to, namely that everything can be astheticized, and you don’t have to look very hard to find very nice examples of modernist architecture and decoration. For the most part, people trying to get something built just want something nice. Their age and cultural makeup don’t predispose them towards strongly preferring old ornate buildings, so when their architect comes up with a snazzy modernist project, they’ll see the sleek beauty in it and give their approval.

        For another, we don’t really build new cities anymore. Population stabilization is one factor contributing to this. To the extent that the population is still increasing, we build vertically in existing cities, or develop suburban zones. In existing cities, you inherit a foundation, you have to work with what was there previously. People’s property rights obviously restrict wanton architectural redesigning by some guy who finds their house an eyesore and decides it should go. Large-scale projects founded on a certain vision are hard to implement under such conditions. Then there’s the fact that large-scale visionary projects tend to be more along the lines of Le Corbusier these days, so it’s arguable whether that’s good or bad for traditional styles.

        Personally, I feel about this downward trend in our urban landscape perhaps as strongly as some people feel about the various hot-button political issues of the day, but realistically there’s no getting people to care enough about what happens to their living space. Today people are very individualistic, very focused on their own small parcel of owned or rented land, and the most probable response is a suggestion that you move to some small French medieval town or somesuch. The look of a city is by nature a deeply collectivist issue. Good luck trying to get moderns to look beyond their dwellings.

        • lbb says:

          It’s been interesting to follow this discussion!
          I think Dahlen is correct in describing the current situation as a kind of tragedy – i.e. no single villain, and (almost) everyone being unhappy with the results. Of course, being an architecture student, I would be inclined to say this. For what its worth, some thoughts:

          In city planning, the “house in a parking lot” model seems to have been abandoned by mainstream architecture as a credible alternative (that’s not to say it’s not still being used – mainstream architecture does not determine what is built)

          As for the lack of ornament… It seems difficult enough to convince developers to simply use quality materials (ones that age well and are pleasing to the eye/touch) and to have a building assembled competently – not to mention the kind of careful workmanship that went in to a lot of old architecture.

          There is a whole lot of money to be made in property development, and comparatively little disincentive to cut corners. The market is not necessarily unlike the airline market (or what it seems like to me) – we hate the declining quality of service, but as a population we still prioritize getting cheaply to the destination. As in airlines, there are boutique operations, but they remain the exception. Architects – in this scenario – are not the airline, but the people designing the seats.

          There are of course cultural aspects to this. But modernism might be a red herring. A more crucial problem seems instead to be the culture’s constant demand for novelty, as it collides with the complexity of market and industry. Originality is considered crucial and honorable today, whereas historically facades were copied out of books. There is also currently a partly misguided belief among architects that each building should be re-thought for each unique context (partly, of course, a legitimate reaction to the “house in parking-lot” school of modernism)

          Most importantly, the guilds and artisans that produced traditional architecture do not exist in any similar way today. Hiring people with similar skills would be impossibly expensive (to the extent you can find them at all). You could, of course, substitute some manual labour with CNC machines. Below is a project where the architects made 3d-scans of the Parthenon frieze and had them reproduced for a facade.
          http://www.niallmclaughlin.com/projects/housing-stratford/#

          Perhaps we could imagine a future of universal basic income where new artisanal guilds are formed, more from desire than need. This dream has, in any case, existed since industrialization first began – and gave birth to William Morris’ arts and crafts movement (which failed, despite socialist ideals, to produce any products that were received as anything other than boutique hipster goods)

          As it stands, architects cannot generally expect to have artisans involved in a project. And they cannot expect too many man-hours in the construction process. Often, architects cannot expect the materials and solutions they have selected to remain throughout the building process. Buildings will tend to be assembled from a kit of industrial products. So the architecture we get follows from these circumstances. There is a whole lot of compromise. And that is only looking at the buildings that architects are actually involved with – according to Kenneth Frampton, architects are only responsible for 5 % of housing in the US (this is debatable).

          My feeling is that the building process is political, and architects are like compromised party insiders – they know at some level that the stuff they’re doing isn’t great, but they tell themselves that they’re producing architecture/politics which is as good as circumstances allow. Like in politics, perhaps, the problem might not be so much the lack of good ideas as the difficulties in implementation and in communicating honestly.

          • DensityDuck says:

            “My feeling is that the building process is political, and architects are like compromised party insiders – they know at some level that the stuff they’re doing isn’t great, but they tell themselves that they’re producing architecture/politics which is as good as circumstances allow. ”

            The latter being exactly what the linked column says–that so much of the design is dictated by external factors that there’s basically only one way to design a building

    • BBA says:

      So does “modern architecture” mean glass boxes and geometric forms a la Brasilia, or does it mean whatever buildings people are designing now? Because current “starchitects” like Frank Gehry have practically nothing to do with that kind of modernism. I’d call Gehry postmodern except that’s apparently about ironically repurposing and subverting traditional elements (e.g. the roof of 550 Madison Ave), and he just seems to draw his blueprints freehand without regard to engineering or common sense. (I speak as a onetime MIT student, where Gehry’s Stata Center replaced dull rectilinear Building 20. Pretty much everyone who worked there agreed that Building 20’s straight corridors were more conducive to getting work done, and besides which the roof didn’t leak.)

      • Dahlen says:

        A modernist building that looks like it’s melting down is still a modernist building. The fact that it’s not squarish in shape does not preclude it from belonging to that category. In Gehry’s buildings (as far as Google Images shows me) one can see the same pattern of blank, unadorned walls and plain rectangular windows that is encountered in the typical International Style skyscraper, along with loads of extraneous junk structures (as in, not part of functional structures and making a statement mostly through their size or form) that represent the modernist replacement of ornamentation / release valve for creative impulses. Also, lots of love for glass, metal, or concrete, less so for stone or wood. In no way is this not more easily clusterable with big-M Modernist architecture than with traditional styles.

        As an aside, these shapes still look geometric to me, only it’s more the geometry of various 3D functions than the geometry of rectangular perpendicular shapes. Saying that some architectural style is geometric is not a very narrow descriptor. Classical Greco-Roman buildings are sometimes called geometric. Heck, one can even say that about Perpendicular Gothic in England as opposed to, e.g. French Gothic. Few styles are far removed from that description; say, organic ornamented styles like Rococo or Art Nouveau.

      • onyomi says:

        Gehry’s work is hideous. I do like Frank Lloyd Wright, but I also consider him to fall into the category of “a man may be a great artist, and yet have a bad influence.”

        I wonder if architecture isn’t an especially egregious example of the modernist “anxiety of influence.” In olden days, “art” often consisted in simply reproducing faithfully what your master craftsperson taught you, with maybe a few individualized tweaks here and there. Nowadays, you have to be “shocking,” “unsettling,” “profound,” etc. which is not something most can really manage. You can create something which constitutes a major break from tradition, but it will lack the richness and sophistication of the traditional style.

        That is, traditional architectural styles encapsulate collective wisdom of generations and generations of little tweaks–both about what is aesthetically pleasing and what is functional to actually live in, whereas anyone trying to radically break with them can’t actually hope to approach that level in a completely new mode within a single generation, much less a single mind.

      • Deiseach says:

        I think that’s my main quibble with modern architecture; the wannabe star architects do designs that are visually striking and ambitious, but seem to have no consideration about the dull routine minutiae of actually living and working in their buildings once they’re completed and the office workers move in.

        The new side entrance thingy (the Crystal) to the Royal Ontario Museum is one of those; looking at pictures of it, the first thing that came to my mind was “I bet there is water leakage into the old building because that angled wall/roof will funnel all the rain and melting snow right down the wall” and by the Wikipedia article, I was correct about weathering problems:

        In October 2007, the Lee-Chin Crystal was reported to have suffered from water leakage causing concerns due to the building’s resilience to weather, especially in the face of the new structure’s proximate first winter. Although a two-layer cladding system was incorporated into the design of the Crystal to prevent the formation of dangerous snow loads on the structure, past architectural creations of Daniel Libeskind, (including the Denver Art Museum) have suffered from weather-related complications.

      • CatCube says:

        The other thing about non-straight walls and non-right angles is furniture. My alma mater (Michigan Technological University) built a new Computer Science wing with a round atrium and offices surrounding. I still want somebody to find me a catalog with a bookshelf that goes on a curved wall.

    • DensityDuck says:

      “[M]y intuition found it pretty obvious that ornaments raise the construction costs significantly by requiring skilled labour…”

      Not really, no.

      Or, rather, the labor involved in putting up any old building is no less skilled than the labor involved in putting up a building that looks like an inside-out Starbucks, with corner molding and bare-metal panels and random chunks of wood jutting out of the walls. That stuff might look like it takes longer but it’s really not what is driving builders to make things the way that they do.

      The issue is, as Boys Smith points out (and the article cites), that the regulations regarding what you can and cannot do constrain design to the point that only a single answer fits. The law has created a square box which the building must fit inside. If the law says that a staircase has to be so-many centimeters wide and have steps of so-many centimeters height, then that defines how much volume a staircase will take up. If the law says your building must have a lift, then you lose that volume as well.

    • lemmy caution says:

      Jane Jacobs’ theory is that there is a limited set of cost effective structures able to be built at any given time. One advantage of older cities is that they have older buildings that were built back when they were cost effective but would never be built today.

    • amoeba says:

      A very famous example was the renovation of Paris under the lead of a prefect commissioned by Napoleon III. I don’t have many references on hand right now, but definitely the examples were manifold.

      St. Petersburg (that was famously founded in 1703 in the middle of nowhere) is another example. Also Lisbon, which was massively destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and large areas were rebuilt from scratch.

      • Stefan Drinic says:

        A few decades back, us Dutch people did what we do best, which is essentially conjuring one extra province out of the sea. The cities built there grow quite fast, but the people also seem positively miserable.

    • First off, from the tone of this comment, I had to go and carefully re-read my post and see if it was egregiously leading or libertarian leaning. I don’t think it is. I think I take a pretty cautious reading of the evidence base I present. I think your post is written to try and imply I am a blinkered ideologue.

      Cost of building: your intuition vs. empirical study in Netherlands. NB we are vastly richer than then, so extra cost shouldn’t be a huge issue.

      Taste of architects vs. public: this is true, and important, but perhaps not as important as you say. In most fields, designers design things and then the popular designs win out. In architecture, architects design buildings and the unpopular designs win out. Something is going on here. I provide a clear, plausible & parsimonious explanation.

      Demand of public & large private institutions: this is partly (and may well be entirely) explained by the points I raise later. Buildings of certain designs get planning permission whereas buildings of other kinds do not. This is both explicit (see the planning rules Create Streets has worked on) and implicit (see this VERY IMPORTANT paper). [1] Private organisations may want to build beautiful buildings but are forced to build ‘iconic’ buildings by planners.

      Beautiful existing cities were planned: yes they were, but in a much less prescriptive way. Haussman’s Paris is beautiful, but so was pre-Haussman Paris, in all its messy, illogical, tight, narrow roads and crazy palaces. Some level of planning is good. But like many systems it’s best when there are a few clear solid rules in a framework, with individuals, organisations and so on maximising within that.

      Unlikeliness: I think after the evidence I’ve presented, the balance of probability suggests it’s in fact likely.

      [1] http://www.spatialeconomics.ac.uk/textonly/SERC/publications/download/sercdp0154.pdf
      [2] https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=pre-haussmann+paris&biw=1001&bih=682&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiExbKqkujLAhUGthQKHQp0Dm8QsAQIHg&dpr=1

    • LeeEsq says:

      Brasilia gets something of a bad wrap. The Brazilians were planning on building a centrally located capital when they gained independence of Portugal. It became a constitutional requirement when Brazil became a republic. Its just that when Brazil was wealthy enough to build a capital coincided with a bad time in Western architecture and urban planning.

    • LeeEsq says:

      Brasilia gets something of a bad wrap. The Brazilians were planning on building a centrally located capital when they gained independence of Portugal. It became a constitutional requirement when Brazil became a republic. Its just that when Brazil was wealthy enough to build a capital coincided with a bad time in Western architecture and urban planning.

  47. RK says:

    Conservative ideas like chastity and avoiding drugs would be useless baggage tying the upper class down, but vital to the lower class’s continued success.

    Isn’t this essentially what Kay Hymowitz, Charles Murray, James Q. Wilson, Brad Wilcox, Eve Tushnet, Ross Douthat/Reihan Salam, and even Steve Sailer have been nattering on about for years now?

    • ryan says:

      Also simply common sense to everyone right of Robespierre for the last few thousand years.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        No, actually everyone to the left of Pinochet in the past zillion years agrees that it is arrogant trash and literally the stupidest thing ever.

        • Anonymous says:

          Honestly, everyone between those guys thinks this kind of argumentative device is kind of dumb.

          • TD says:

            But now all I can think about is a new Vs movie where a time traveling Robespierre battles a time traveling Pinochet to enforce their ideals throughout all history.

            …This is also dumb.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            Not to mention Robespierre was about as left-wing as Adolf Hitler or Mussolini—and how left-wing they were always turns into its own debate…

          • TD says:

            Calling Hitler and Mussolini left wing is one of my triggers. Even though I know the debate is pointless and meaningless, I can still feel it itching…

  48. John Schilling says:

    Dash cam car crash videos are so yesterday. The big thing now is dash cam planet crash videos.

    “Look here, Sweet Meteor of Death, you know perfectly well that IAU regulations grant right-of-way to planets in stable circular orbits which have cleared their neighborhood. We’ve got you dead to rights on Failure to Yield, and we’re revoking your Dwarf Planet learner’s permit until further notice…”

  49. onyomi says:

    Re. Free Northerner: does anyone remember that article, I forget by whom, but which makes a very similar argument about the seemingly stupid idea that gay marriage undermines straight marriage? Basically, to a smart person, the idea that gay marriage, to say nothing of no-fault divorce, “undermines the sanctity of marriage” seems ludicrous; the problem is the margin where the IQ 90 mother decides whether to stick with her husband for the sake of the children, or whether even to marry the father of her children in the first place (note, I am personally in favor of gay marriage, but the principle also makes sense to me).

    This also relates to what I was talking about in the last thread re. wireheading: the better we get at creating superstimuli, the more maturity and habit are required to handle them responsibly. It is possible to abuse beer and it is possible to be a responsible, productive cocaine user, but it is easier to drink beer responsibly than to drink whiskey responsibly.

    I still think the biggest danger facing lower IQ people in the robot economy, therefore, is not having no money and therefore no food, but rather lacking the personal and cultural resources to resist the temptation of the hyper-big mac (and the no-fault divorce). The robot future will not be full of starving, unemployed dumb people; it will be full of dumb people who look like this: http://i.imgur.com/QLC5X4p.jpg

    • Anon. says:

      Maybe you mean this: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/02/my_two_favorite.html ? It’s from the Murray book mentioned above.

    • Ghatanathoah says:

      I can see the point for no-fault divorce, but it seems like gay marriage should strengthen traditional marriage, not weaken it. If gay couples are publicly seen as desiring marriage that sends a signal to the rest of society that marriage is a valuable thing to be sought after. By contrast, if you don’t let them marry, that sends a signal that marriage is an optional thing people can do without.

      I think even an IQ 90 person can consider the possibility that if Ted and Bob can do without marriage, she might be able to handle an out of wedlock relationship with Rick. If Ted and Bob are also seeking marriage, by contrast, she might think about marrying Rick.

      What really made me understand where the opponents of gay marriage were coming from was when I took them literally when they said it “redefines” marriage. I realized that they thought that heterosexuality was an essential part of marriage, whereas most supporters considered it to be an unimportant part that one would not change the Essence of Marriage by removing.

      To make an analogy to superheroes, gay marriage opponents are like nerds who get upset if the creators put Superman’s “S” symbol on his belt buckle in addition to his chest, or when the writer changes it so Superman’s parents are still alive when he is an adult instead of dying when he was a teenager. Most people can understand that minor plot details like that are not part of the “Essence of Superman” and will not harm the character if they are changed. Some changes (like keeping his parents alive) may even be improvements. But there are always some purists who lack the ability to understand what the essence of something is, to them all details, no matter how small, seem equally important.

      • NN says:

        Also a lot of gay marriage opponents are just plain opposed to homosexuality, and oppose gay marriage because it normalizes homosexuality. That isn’t a strawman. I remember reading a number of opinion pieces that said exactly that in the early 2000s, especially from conservative Christian groups.

        It should also be noted that gay rights activists focusing on marriage is actually a relatively recent phenomenon. When Andrew Sullivan wrote an essay advocating gay marriage in 1989, many in the gay rights movement attacked him for promoting “assimilation” into “straight culture.” Sullivan’s viewpoint eventually won out after people realized that signalling to Middle America, “don’t be afraid of us, all we want to do is get married, move to the suburbs, and raise 2.5 kids just like you,” was actually a really effective strategy for convincing Middle America to stop hating you.

        • I asked a gay friend why marriage was chosen as an issue, and he said that it was a result of partners not having hospital visitation rights during the AIDS epidemic.

          Also (this is my opinion, not something he mentioned), marriage has the advantage of being a clear legal issue.

      • John Schilling says:

        If gay couples are publicly seen as desiring marriage that sends a signal to the rest of society that marriage is a valuable thing to be sought after.

        Yes, but valuable because it signals your commitment to a lifetime domestic partnership and intent to raise a family? Or valuable because it allows you to hold a great big party, demanding tokens of respect from your friends and random pizza-shop owners, with someone you’re going to break up with in five years?

        The move to give a high school diploma to every illiterate warm body that reaches adulthood clearly signals to society that high school diplomas are valuable things to be sought after, but to the people who have traditionally valued high school diplomas it completely misses the point.

        With gay marriage, it’s too early to tell. I’ll get back to you in five years or so.

        • Anonymous says:

          Marriage as a sign of commitment has already lost enough value that any negative effect gay marriage could have wouldn’t be noticeable IMO. Unless it makes its value go negative, which would be pretty..weird and surprising.

          Or maybe I can no longer accurately gauge the mainstream view of marriage.

      • Deiseach says:

        gay marriage should strengthen traditional marriage, not weaken it

        But the mantra, as in my own country’s referendum on marriage equality, was “let love win!” “don’t deny us the right to love!” “all I want is to find someone to love and settle down with!”

        Whatever about the political and activist aims of integration, normalisation and social acceptance, never mind the “hospital visitation rights/inheritance/tax returns” benefits that were also being touted as “we’re denied these merely because we’re in a gay partnership”, the public face of the campaign was all about Wuv, Twu Wuv and how the horrible nasty haters were trying to destroy love.

        So that makes your ordinary person – and please let’s not have any sneering down our noses about “IQ 90 persons” as if they’re the only ones who ever in their lives do dumb shit but the rest of us are way too smart – accept that marriage is not a series of rights and responsibilities and duties and manifold social roles, it’s purely and primarily about two (for the moment) persons and their personal, private, romantic/erotic feelings.

        So when the pink mist fades, the novelty wears off, and you no longer get the “new relationship energy” buzz, then it’s perfectly okay to break up the marriage and move on to your next One True Love who will provide you with that chemical high on an everyday basis for the rest of your lives (where “rest of your lives” means “as long as one or the other of us can stick being in this marriage, certainly not for life”).

        Marriage is not about society, marriage is not about children, marriage is not about fidelity and committment, marriage is about getting emotional needs met in an erotic context. So when you’re not getting your romance fix, scrap the marriage.

        • Dahlen says:

          Okay, this is one too many scathing rants against romance.

          Since you mentioned multiple times that you’re an asexual aromantic, may I just ask whether you ever stop and think, before taking a piss on other people’s psychological needs (which you lack), whether you may display an empathy gap that prevents you from approaching this topic with the fairness it warrants? How do you think someone who has suffered like a dying dog from unrequited love reacts to the Nth time you write “Tru Wuv” in yet another screed that purports to be about the duties of marriage, but is founded in its principles on the denial and decrying of a very basic, common, and pro-social human emotion? Whether people do not take sufficient steps towards ensuing their love lasts in the name of the principle of devotion, that is NOT a reason to attack one of the pillars of harmonious relationships between the sexes. And I don’t care that someone who has lived her life in indifferent lovelessness, who has focused only on the cheating and the homewrecking and the tumultuous breakups and divorces, disagrees with that characterisation. The fact that the pursuit of romance risks exposure to so much pain should be, if anything, a clue that what the rest of us are chasing is not some mere fleeting illusion, but a very satisfying fulfillment of a very real need. You know, at least if it came from someone who has had a bad experience with romantic relationships, I could explain all that bitterness as disillusionment I could sympathise with, but coming from someone who has never sought them, there is no explanation left but willful ignorance and scorn of what one doesn’t value while others do.

          • Frog Do says:

            It’s a very natural reaction when there is a coordinated campaign to paint “your side” as “people who hate X” to embrace the characterization and take it to a rhetorical extreme to make a point. You are being ignorant if you don’t make an effort to understand why Deiseach is being so provocative. But this is the internet, and everyone is acting in bad faith all the time, so maybe I’m just pissing in the wind.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Then again, we’re usually pretty willing to judge self-defeating behavior from people following impulses that we don’t share. Should those of us brought up atheist who never felt a pull towards religion hold our tongues criticizing those who desperately chase faith? It doesn’t sound unreasonable but applied unevenly it just seems like shielding ourselves from outside criticism all while continuing to criticize outsiders.

            And I think the point is less “fuck love” so much as “love isn’t enough,” which actually is a pretty important message. It’s much easier to fall in love than to make a relationship work, even a low-stakes one like being boyfriend and girlfriend. If you’re not prepared for the sacrifices you’ll have to make beforehand chances are you’ll balk at them when they actually arrive. Our culture has done us a disservice by making it seem as though these things just sort themselves out as long as you love one another.

            I don’t think Deiseach would tell a lovelorn person to suck it up and stop whining, but rather try to remind people who are considering making a commitment out of love to realize what they’re signing up for. It’s not any sort of kindness to let someone live in blissful ignorance right up until they end up in divorce court.

          • ryan says:

            How do you think someone who has suffered like a dying dog from unrequited love reacts to the Nth time you write “Tru Wuv” in yet another screed that purports to be about the duties of marriage, but is founded in its principles on the denial and decrying of a very basic, common, and pro-social human emotion?

            Your describing lust. It has rarely been thought to be a pro-social human emotion.

          • Nita says:

            Your describing lust.

            No, Dahlen seems to be describing infatuation/limerence.

            But everyone so far has ignored the “Twu” part of “Twu Wuv” — it’s the commitment that separates it from any old “Wuv”. The oldest meaning of “true” is not “genuine”, but “steady, reliable”.

            E.g., the couple who got rejected by that cake bakery had decided to get married after adopting the kids they had been taking care of as foster parents. That looks more like commitment (to provide a stable family for the children) than either lust or infatuation.

          • hlynkacg says:

            To be fair most people say “true love” when they really mean lust, romance, or infatuation. Which is why it gets a bad rap in the first place.

            Personally My sympathies are with Deiseach on this one.

          • Deiseach says:

            Dahlen, I am so sickened by the mess society has made of deciding what love is, and how love is supposed to cover, forgive and excuse a multitude of sins, that I have little to no patience for its constant evocation as the ne plus ultra of human experience and the one impeachable and unanswerable defence for any action, no matter how shitty: I Did It For Love.

            People who suffer from unrequited love are not figures of mockery. But no-one, not one single human in the entire history of humanity, is guaranteed love, and indeed the rotten, poisonous, exaltation of the idea of the Soul Mate, Mr/Ms Right, The One For You, The One True Love, has only served to make more people miserable. If ecstatic romantic love is something experienced only rarely, by great/high/noble characters, and often brings misery in its train – well, we’re not all and we can’t all be Launcelot and Guinevere, so we muddle along as best we can.

            But if ecstatic romantic love is the promise sold by every movie, song, and TV show, every novel, every sit-com, every porn product even (sexual love is so easy to get, everyone is doing it, and it’s so amazingly great!), then if you don’t or can’t get your rightful share (and it is presented as your right, as something you are even owed by the universe), then you will naturally be unhappy, miserable, angry and resentful when you are deprived of it.

            I will never jeer at or dishonour the great and ardent name of the burning furnace of Love. I will mock and scorn the vile impostor that has stolen its crown and broken its sceptre and cast it forth barefoot and weeping in rags, and name it by its own real and worthy of derision name: Wuv Twu Wuv, that ape of artifice mopping and mowing at its reflection in its Narcissus-pool of self-regard.

            I should have titled this screed “Dante, you numpty, Virgil is right to whop you round the head, or, Why Francesca da Rimini is a skanky ho” 🙂

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Deiseach:

            It seems like people who suffer from unrequited love are commonly mocked: the unattractive, unconfident person deeply in love with someone out of their league who barely knows they exist is common in comedy.

        • A lot of the propaganda for gay marriage was about people who’d been together for decades, and wanted the respect, money, and convenience which accompany marriage, so the story wasn’t just about “love”-based easily dissolved marriage.

          • Sastan says:

            And if you follow the news, you’ll see a ton of these trailblazing couples joyfully getting married the day after it gets legalized…….and quietly divorcing within a year.

            Not a slam on gay marriage, just a thought. I’ve seen it several times.

          • Anonymous says:

            Lots of cardiologists divorce after a year. Can’t trust those guys.

          • Deiseach says:

            But that was not the line being pushed, Nancy. As I’ve said before the “Yes ” campaign in my country managed to turn my opinion from apathetic “Meh, probably vote to legalise it if I bother voting in the referendum at all” to “Not just no but Hell, NO! and I’m definitely turning up to vote no” because of the treacle over Wuv, Twu Wuv, culminating in a comedian who has a female impersonator act* doing radio ads in his character as the ‘mother’ of a fictional family talking about ‘her’ fictional gay son and how ‘she’ hopes that he can one day find the same happiness ‘she’ did – please note: this is all complete fantasy, as there is no ‘Mrs X’, no marriage of ‘hers’, no gay son, no gay son falling in love with his partner, no gay son and partner wanting to be married – by permitting him to marry his partner.

            What’s next – I’m supposed to vote in the next referendum on whether smacking should be criminalised, based on how Cinderella’s family should have been referred to social services?

            *NOT a drag act, that’s a DIFFERENT entertainer figure who was practically voted a medal if we had any medals or honours to award because of a run-in with a group on the “no” side of the campaign.

          • multiheaded says:

            Deiseach, you know I like you a lot, but that was really fucking scummy and deluded of you tbqh.

  50. onyomi says:

    Re. women being the better repositories of culture:

    Doesn’t this mesh with the idea that humans are kind of matriarchal by default, due to the fact that wombs are scarcer and more valuable than sperm? Men are relatively expendable and more likely to die violently, so why make them repositories of the great traditions?

    This reminded me of a definition of feminism self-proclaimed-if-apologetic feminist offered on my facebook recently, which I think is wrong: “feminism: the idea that women are less valued in society and that men and women should work to change that.”

    I think that this is wrong even today. I think women almost always have been and still are more valued than men. But I think you could make the statement true and still claim to be a feminist by replacing one word: “the idea that women are less respected in society and that men and women should work to change that.”

    • Jason K. says:

      I think you would be hard pressed to separate respect from value in any objectively measurable way as respect is contingent on value. You will not freely respect what you do not value and the level of respect you give will be in direct proportion to how much you value it.

      That said, it is important to understand the difference between respecting a thing and respecting what a thing represents. For example, I don’t go around saying ‘religion X is stupid’ not because I have respect for religion X, but because I value civil discourse and the ability of people to hold innocuous beliefs without being attacked for them. As a result, it can give the appearance from the outside that I may respect something I do not, simply because I respect the process or principle that produces the thing.

      Back to your original example, if women are more valued than men, then women must be able to achieve a higher level of respect than men. I think you find that this is the case, however it will only be achievable for women who act in a manner that is congruent with what they are valued for. As a case study, look how deified mothers are, especially in comparison to fathers.

      So really, feminism is the idea that women should be able to act like men without losing the respect they get as women.

      • onyomi says:

        “if women are more valued than men, then women must be able to achieve a higher level of respect than men.”

        I don’t see why. A sack of diamonds is more highly valued than most women or men, but it isn’t respected.

        Think about Mad Max world in which healthy, fertile women are basically worth more than their weight in gold (or gasoline, as the case may be), and are therefore kept under heavy guard and allowed no autonomy–from the perspective of the powerful man who keeps them, they’re too valuable to be allowed autonomy. These women are highly valued, but not respected.

        • nil says:

          Right, objects are valued without being respected–which is why critiquing female objectification is a huge part of feminism.

          • Anonymous says:

            …what about the objects that are respected without being valued?

          • onyomi says:

            IMO, the biggest challenge women have always faced is to be respected for their knowledge, abilities, and accomplishments. The biggest challenge men have always faced is to be valued for their humanity.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        “I think you would be hard pressed to separate respect from value in any objectively measurable way as respect is contingent on value.”

        What about children? They are highly valued — “women and children first”, greater support for state intervention to help children in bad situations etc. — but not respected (they don’t have the legal right to vote, drink, drive, have sex and so on).

      • Gbdub says:

        “So really, feminism is the idea that women should be able to act like men without losing the respect they get as women.”

        Actually that works as a critique of feminism (or at least a certain variety of feminists): they want the choice to have all the privileges of men, without the responsibility, and the option to maintain female privilege as well.

      • ryan says:

        So really, feminism is the idea that women should be able to act like men without losing the respect they get as women.

        This is succinct genius.

    • BBA says:

      This may be why the push to replace the word “sexism” with “misogyny” rings false to me. I can see societal bias against women…societal hatred, not so much.

      Of course as a good feminist-ally I will continue calling society misogynistic, I’ll just be rolling my eyes on the inside.

      • Nita says:

        Well, most “homophobic” individual and cultural beliefs aren’t really about fear, either. I’d say the actual emotion in both cases is contempt — the opposite of respect. But no one’s managed to make a snappy word out of that.

        • The Nybbler says:

          “Homophobia” is used because it’s insulting, saying that those who have objections to homosexuality or homosexuals are afraid of them. And “misogyny” is often used for the same reason, but unlike “homophobia” it’s motte-and-bailey’d with the literal meaning as well. So someone who panders to men by advertising using sexualized pictures of women is called a “misogynist” and therefore someone who hates women.

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      I suspect a dichotomy between agency and value.

      Most animes follow the “I must become stronger to protect that which I value” trope. “that which I value” usually means friends (especially female friends). In the West, the same thing manifests as the “damsel in distress” or “save the princess” trope. It’s as if women are {resources, property} as opposed to {sentient, autonomous} {actors, agents}. I’ve noticed a similar theme in the Bible where sperm is thought of as a seed, and women are thought of as soil.

      Also. I vaguely remember reading an article about nursing homes [0]. It said one nursing home’s residents lived longer and happier lives than those in other nursing homes, because it had the audacity to allow its residents do “dangerous” things like use metal knives during meals. One line which stuck out was how “people choose autonomy for themselves, but safety for their loved ones”.

      When feminists discuss “empowerment”, that’s just another word for agency.

      [0] can’t find source

  51. Deiseach says:

    (1) Two of those Thirty-Six Strategems sound to me to echo situations in the plot of “Hamlet”:

    Feign madness but keep your balance
    Hide behind the mask of a fool, a drunk, or a madman to create confusion about your intentions and motivations. Lure your opponent into underestimating your ability until, overconfident, he drops his guard. Then you may attack.

    This is Hamlet’s plan to protect himself from his uncle while finding out the truth (or not) of the ghost’s claim; it works for a while, but Hamlet does not manage to “keep his balance” and ends up getting himself (and a good chunk of the cast) killed.

    Obtain safe passage to conquer the State of Guo

    Borrow the resources of an ally to attack a common enemy. Once the enemy is defeated, use those resources to turn on the ally that lent you them in the first place.

    Fortinbras! Claudius sends diplomats to Norway to negotiate a peace, and presumably part of this is allowing Fortinbras’ army to pass through Denmark on their way to attack Poland.

    After victory there, Fortinbras and his army turn up again at the end when everyone is conveniently dead and he gets the throne, albeit with Hamlet giving him the right in his dying speech – but anyone want to bet Fortinbras might maybe have had “First Poland, then Denmark” in mind before Hamlet managed to get all the other claimants for the throne dead?

    So either Shakespeare knew the Thirty-Six (new evidence of yet more egregious Western cultural appropriation!) or Shakespeare wasn’t Bacon, he was Chinese 🙂

    (2) Some of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies sell the service of circumventing annoying regulations. The unfortunately named Nurx promises to (legally) get you birth control without making you visit a doctor.

    Not a great idea, unless you’ve previously visited a doctor and have a prescription that you know works for you and don’t want the hassle of having to make repeat visits just to get a prescription renewed. For a first-time user (and I see Nurx says “Whether you are currently on the pill, or new to birth control”) this is a bad idea. You would need to cover everything from weight to any menstrual problems to what type of birth control is best for you (maybe the pill isn’t the best one) to do you have or are you likely to have idiosyncratic reactions to hormones and what combinations and dosages, which is the kind of thing visiting a doctor for the first time using contraception covers.

    If you’re fifteen, too embarrassed to go to your family doctor, and hoping to get anonymous oral contraception without your parents or anyone knowing, I would be hesitant to recommend it because ALWAYS GO TO A DOCTOR FIRST. The website says they currently don’t serve anyone under eighteen but I imagine there are ways around that:

    I’m on my parents’ insurance, will they find out that I got birth control from Nurx?
    Nurx won’t tell your parent or anyone else that you are on birth control. Your insurance company may share information about your claims with your parents. Unfortunately we have no control over that. Contact your insurance company to find out what they will share with your parents.
    Is there a minimum age for getting on birth control with Nurx?
    At this time, we are not yet serving patients under 18 years of age. However, Nurx will be available to users under the age of 18 in the near future.

    • erenold says:

      A propos of nothing, a humorous factoid about Chinese culture –

      Whenever the 36 Strategems are invoked, the speaker often immediately turns the phrase into a tongue-in-cheek rhyming couplet by adding “but running away [from the enemy] is the best strategem of them all.”

      (三十六计,走为上策)

  52. John Schilling says:

    Perhaps the best thing about a 250-foot iron statue of the Iron Lady (aside from the gleaming bronze handbag to dazzle the leftists), is the construction contractor. Because, here and now, the people you go to for gigantic statues of dubiously revered national leaders is the Overseas Projects Division of the Mansudae Art Studio, operating out of Pyongyang, North Korea.

    They apparently do good work at a reasonable price, and of course Yay Globalism! How could any disciple of Thatcher refuse?

    • Sigivald says:

      Well, pretty easily, since Thatcher was deeply anti-Communist?

    • Nornagest says:

      I love it. But then, I’m always delighted when I see anti-capitalist anthems being used to sell jeans and off-road vehicles.

  53. Plunkett Fugazi says:

    I gotta stop reading these, it’s worse than people magazine.

  54. Andy Harless says:

    “Rubio and Cruz both lost to Trump (Trump!) among Latinos.”

    Among Republican Latinos, whose preferences are likely far from typical among Latinos in general.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Good point. Lucky for us, a natural experiment will be able to verify this theory. We’ll see how Trump does this November. I doubt he will even be able to beat Romney’s percentage of the hispanic vote.

    • Gbdub says:

      Also, Cruz and Rubio are both Cuban American, whereas most American Latinos are Mexican. The degree to which your average Latino would identify Cruz or Rubio as “one of us” is perhaps overstated.

  55. Plunkett Fugazi says:

    You don’t think consideration of dominant ideologies is important when considering topics such as global warming? or do you not understand that this is the meaning of “feminist” in this context? hmmm. i’m sure you’ve got a good way to wriggle out of those two questions and their relation to this article, oh well. yay rationalist utilitarian ideology.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m not sure you have read the paper.

      If you want to talk about “non-dominant ideologies in global warming” in a meaningful way, that sounds like a great idea. But it would probably mean engaging seriously with James Lovelock or Bjorn Lomberg, not complaining about how all of the Arctic explorers were manly men, or noting that some indigenous people think of glaciers as sentient entities who can hear discussion about then.

      Also, please review comment policy and try to stay within it. This is your only warning.

      • Thomas Brinsmead says:

        You are excellent at self-reflection, Scott. I’d like you to consider the possibility that your original post above on the feminist glaciology paper is no less in breach of your comment policy than Plunkett’s comment.

        In particular, you might consider that “rationalist utilitarian” might be complex concept consisting of a motte, roughly “trying to achieve the good by the application of consistent, reliable, logical principles” which could appear to an outsider to be stronghold of the bailey “Feminism!?! I literally just can’t even.”

    • Deiseach says:

      Plunkett, that paper covered a lot of ground. One of their examples was, for instance, how a female glaciologist was the first woman to be assigned to a (normally) all-male research base and she had to personally reassure the wives of the men that she wasn’t a home-wrecker.

      And sure, that’s a good point to complain about re: the dominant ideology – keep women out of the field because all they’re looking for is to hook a man is an offensive idea to have about a professional.

      On the other hand, interpersonal relationships do have to be taken into account. Putting people into confined situations where they’re cut off from outside contact for a lengthy period is one of them, and it is not impossible or unlikely that falling in love, infatuation, or sexual frustration and attraction (especially when it’s one woman and X guys) might happen: look at all the cases of politicians having affairs with their secretaries/personal assistants/researchers merely because propinquity, spending a lot of time with them on common interests, and being involved with each other develops into something more intimate.

      • Mary says:

        You can’t take them into account! That’s sexist! You can’t even mention in a historical account that a certain editor was drop-dead gorgeous and a consequence, the wives of some writers insisted on attending gathering — certainly not in real time!

        • Deiseach says:

          A couple of weeks ago I linked to a very silly study on feminist glaciology that was going around. Now the author reflects on his newfound fame as the face of Everything That Is Wrong With Postmodernism In Academia, insists that feminist glaciology is more important now than ever.

          HE reflects on HIS fame? The author of “Towards a feminist glaciology” is a man? Or at least male-identifying? Well, he can start with contributing to bringing the female view from the margins to the centre by withdrawing his paper and instead permitting an overlooked female author to submit the same instead! Why didn’t he at the very least use a female pseudonym in order not to perpetuate the continuing suppression of female voices in academic glaciology? 🙂

      • Dan T. says:

        And all of those things, though they may be valid subjects for study and activism, have nothing to do with glaciers themselves, just with the “meta” topics of how the science is conducted and whether those involved are fair to their colleagues. That’s a sociological question, not a glaciological one.

    • Dan T. says:

      If “feminist” can be made to mean that, it’s a meaningless word that can be stretched anywhere, like Humpty Dumpty’s words that mean what he chooses them to mean, neither more nor less.

      • youzicha says:

        Every word means just what we choose it to mean. As long as the intended meaning is unambiguous, it there really a problem?

        • null says:

          The problem is that sometimes the ambiguity of the word is a feature. This is what ‘motte-and-bailey’ is getting at.

          • youzicha says:

            But is there any problem with “feminist glaciology”?

          • Urstoff says:

            There is a problem. Glaciology is the study of glaciers, not the study of the act of studying glaciers. What this paper is doing is feminist sociology of glaciology (assuming that we sufficiently stretch the meaning of “sociology”).

            Calling it “feminist glaciology” is what makes it sound absurd in the first place. Although it might have been a calculated move; nobody would have paid any attention to an article titled “feminist sociology of glaciology”.

          • youzicha says:

            @Urstoff As I understand it, he expects the study of the sociology of glaciology to lead to new ways of learning about glaciers themselves, different from the current “systems of scientific domination”. For example, he mentions “one example of alternative glacier representations includes glacier-oriented visual and literary arts, which are particularly illustrative of how ice may be meaningful and significant beyond common efforts of control and domination. Visual and literary arts re-position and re-envision glaciers as greater than their usual status as passive research subjects and into various cultural fields comprised of social myths, images, characters, performances, and artworks”, and these kind of activities would also fall under the label feminist glaciology.

            So the term does not strictly distinguish between object- and meta-level. But that kindof makes sense: the whole idea is that by noticing hidden assumptions in the way glaciers were previously described, you can notice things about the glacier which was previously in the blind-spot. Learning about glaciology becomes a means of learning about glaciers.

      • ryan says:

        This relates to my take on his interview. It seems like what he actually studies is the social and economic consequences of glacier dynamics. So a glacier shrinks, this means less water runs into a river every year, and that has consequences for the people who use that river to irrigate their farms, and the particular consequences will vary depending on exactly how the farming community is organized and what their cultural norms are.

        I mean yeah, it’s totally uninteresting and unexciting, but that’s modern academics for you. I really get the sense that he started in on all the feminist glaciology stuff as a way to sex up his research and improve his chances of publication. Not because there’s anything feminist about it.

  56. Andy Harless says:

    I seem to recall something like the idea you attribute to Free Northerner from excerpts from Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments (which I haven’t actually read, but since Northerner hasn’t read the Williamson piece either…whatever).

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m sure it’s not original to him, I was just happy to see it written out concisely somewhere.

  57. BBA says:

    Regarding Hogan: it’s ironic to see Gawker crying “free speech!” when they’ve been at the forefront of mainstreaming illiberal leftism. Much of the “right” has the equally ironic position of respecting everyone’s freedom of speech except Gawker.

    There have been a few principled pro-free-speech commentators. Is there anyone with a principled anti-free-speech position?

    I think I come close to it. If we’re going to have a tort for invasion of privacy, publishing someone’s sex tapes without their permission is certainly an example of it, and Gawker ought to be punished just as much as the perpetrators of the Fappening. That said, Hogan has not proven any tangible harm that came to him from the sex tape leak and ought to be sent home with the nominal $1 in damages. Maybe treble damages for Gawker’s gross disregard for the judicial process, so $3 it is.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I understand that speech is construed as pretty broad (eg includes paying for campaign ads), but I think it’s possible to make a principled distinction between “I dislike the government” and “Here is a picture of this guy’s genitals which I secretly snapped in a changing room”.

      (for example, if we can ban child porn, we can probably ban revenge porn)

      • BBA says:

        The counterargument I’ve seen is: what if the sex tape was newsworthy? If it were, say, confirmation of the rumors surrounding Ted Cruz you wouldn’t want it censored.

        And newsworthiness is subjective, you don’t want some judge deciding what is or isn’t important enough not to censor, therefore in the name of free discourse we shouldn’t allow censorship of anything at all.

        I don’t agree with this, but I can see the logic in it.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I’m not sure if it’s practical, but I would be pretty content with Gawker saying “a sex tape of Ted Cruz exists and we have seen it” rather than actually publishing it.

          Even some kind of “Ted Cruz, please admit you had sex or we will publish the sex tape” seems better.

          • Jiro says:

            Admit you ___ or we publish the tape, when the tape was created by invading privacy, seems like a bad idea. Imagine applying this when it isn’t just a sex tape but one about some commonly disapproved sexual practice: “Admit that you’re into being spanked, or we publish the tape of you being spanked”. Or “Admit that secretly a supporter of (insert bill name here), or we publish the tape, which we got by bugging your house, of you supporting that bill.”

            If you are only banned from invading someone’s privacy if they confess to what they did in private, that defeats the whole purpose of banning invasion of privacy.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I think the bare knowledge that I have had sex in a particular situation is less of an invasion of my privacy than the actual audiovisual representation of me having that sex.

          • Deiseach says:

            The Blackmailer’s Charter in a new form? That was the result of a newspaper crusade as well:

            Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, commonly known as the Labouchere Amendment, made “gross indecency” a crime in the United Kingdom. In practice, the law was used broadly to prosecute male homosexuals where actual sodomy (meaning, in this context, anal intercourse) could not be proven. The penalty of life imprisonment for sodomy (until 1861 it had been death) was also so harsh that successful prosecutions were rare. The new law was much more enforceable. It was also meant to raise the age of consent for heterosexual intercourse. It was repealed by the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalized homosexual behaviour.

            …Henry Labouchere, Liberal MP for Northampton, had been a diplomat; he now was the founding editor of Truth magazine, which had its selling point in exposing corruption and moral degeneration. In 1882, Labouchere met Wilde in America; Wilde praised him as the “best writer in Europe”, though Labouchere criticized Wilde as an “effeminate phrase maker”. Stead had written to Labouchere from jail, telling of the rise in male prostitution in London and other large cities. Concerned, Labouchere presented his amendment towards the end of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill as it passed from bill to law.

            I really don’t understand why anyone, especially anyone remotely famous or with any degree of public notoriety, makes sex tapes. If they really have to, they should make absolutely sure they have the only copy and destroy it the second the relationship ends, because your ex is going to use it as money in the bank if you don’t; if they are being taped without their knowledge or consent that is surely illegal?

            I also find it very hard to believe that scandal sheets are so exercised about public right to know and it being newsworthy: (slightly) famous person has sex just like the majority of their fellow citizens? This is news? If it’s rape, harassment or other coerced sex, and/or sex with a minor, then sure – that’s newsworthy. But even “married guy can’t keep it in his pants” is nobody’s business but that of the man and wife (and mistress or boyfriend) involved, unless they’re using public money to fund their affair (like that politician getting flights to see his mistress paid for on the excuse they were work trips?)

            None of the editorial board of Gawker ever got frisky when they shouldn’t have? Really? Nick Denton never got a bit wild when he was at Oxford? No “I was drunk they were drunker maybe looking back it wasn’t 100% full and active consent” when he was a student? The public has the right to know!

            EDIT: Particularly as I see from the Wikipedia article that Denton is gay. Whatever happened to “what consenting adults do in bed is nobody’s business” when arguing for the decriminalisation of homosexual acts?

          • Jiro says:

            I really don’t understand why anyone, especially anyone remotely famous or with any degree of public notoriety, makes sex tapes.

            Read the article. The tape was made without Hogan’s knowledge.

          • I have a fantasy about celebrities turning the paparazzi and the tabloid press owners and reporters into public figures.

            Start with research to find out whatever might be entertaining about tabloidists. Make a magazine about the true details plus speculation. Call it The Gaze.

            Celebrities carry it around, but don’t let anyone see what’s inside. Soon enough, a copy is found or stolen, and the contents hit the press. Hilarity ensues.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Judges (or at least juries) do sometimes have to decide things. It sucks, but there it is. That’s why we even bother to have a justice system. The laws about things like true threats already require judgment calls, that’s not a compelling reason to legalize threats, right?

      • brad says:

        (for example, if we can ban child porn, we can probably ban revenge porn)

        Child porn occupies a unique part of free speech law. Obscenity, which one might think it is a subset of, is in a considerably different place. Governments can’t make it a crime to merely possess obscene materials, it’s the publication and sale that they are allowed to punish. And remember, obscenity by definition “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

        I could imagine an argument for banning the possession of revenge porn using similar logic to that of child porn, i.e. drying up the well, but I doubt it would work. I think for better or worse child porn is an unprincipled exception.

        In terms of Hulk Hogan the big issue on appeal is going to be whether or not the video was of public interest. Gawker’s position seems to conflate “some members of the public have an interest” with “public interest”. They aren’t one in the same.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          The difference between child porn and e.g. revenge porn is that a large amount of harm is done in creating the former, but not the latter. If there is a sudden massive demand for videos of burglaries, so many that the total harm from them is equal to that of child porn, banning them might be justified by the same principle.

          • John Schilling says:

            With revenge porn, a great deal of harm is caused in the distribution. That is, after all, the point. In either case, child porn or revenge porn, the end user is purchasing an item knowing that in the course of providing it to them innocent people were deliberately, maliciously, wrongly harmed.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @John Schilling
            Yes, but banning media because its distribution causes harm could be a slippery slope: first revenge porn, then sex tapes where consent for their release was revoked retrospectively, then highly embarrassing videos, then any sort of insulting comment, then anything.

            On the other hand, banning media because its creation causes harm gets rid of child porn, but can’t (as far as I can see) lead to banning valuable speech.

          • John Schilling says:

            And the banning the receipt and possession of stolen property doesn’t seem likely to lead to banning manufacturing and trade, either.

            There’s no magic about the production vs. acquisition distinction here. If there’s no possible way the thing can be sold to you without someone committing a crime for that purpose, then you’re part of a criminal conspiracy whether the crime was in the creation or the distribution of the thing.

          • Jiro says:

            I own postage stamps with Mao Tse-Tsung on them that I’m pretty sure couldn’t have been created without mass murder to get Mao into power so he could command that his face be put on them. Am I now complicit in mass murder?

          • John Schilling says:

            Mao’s postmasters didn’t intend or expect for you to have the postage stamps. Any child pornography or revenge pornography you may possess, you know perfectly well the intent and expectation of the criminals was for you to have it and for both of you to profit from it.

          • Frank McPike says:

            I’m not sure if that example meets John Schilling’s criteria, that there be “no possible way the thing can be sold to you without someone committing a crime for that purpose.” Even if there was no possible way for the stamp to be made without crimes being committed, those crimes probably weren’t committed for the purpose of selling stamps.

          • Jiro says:

            Mao’s postmasters didn’t intend or expect for you to have the postage stamps.

            He didn’t expect that I personally have them, but that is true for revenge porn as well. He certainly expected that people in general would get ahold of them.

          • Ant says:

            If you bought stamps knowing you were helping a genocide with it, then yes, you are complicit and should be prosecuted. In other case, no.

        • Winter Shaker says:

          obscenity by definition “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

          “To be smut,
          It must be ut-
          -terly without redeeming social importense”

          • “As the judge remarked the day that he
            Acquitted my Aunt Hortense,”

            Genius in bad rhymes deserves to be seen.

          • Nornagest says:

            I always liked the one in “Folk Song Army”:

            The tune don’t have to be clever,
            Anditdoesn’tmatterifyoucramacoupleofextrasyllablesintoaline,
            It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English,
            And it don’t even gotta rhyme — excuse me, rhyne.

        • SUT says:

          An under-appreciated aspect of the child porn debate is it’s [possible] use as a Jason-Bourne-level tool to suppress and punish dissenters by a gov’t level entity.

          Clearly, your life is pretty much ruined by even the accusations and certainly the conviction of Child Porn. The average American can probably be more charitable to a convicted murderer.

          Given these consequences, consider how an anti-gov’t activist might be framed. And contrast this to the oft considered NSA dragnet type of framing.

          NSA-surveillance: “Your honor, clearly Jacques1 sent Jacques2 this this encrypted facebook message which when decrypted shows he committed a crime.”
          Judge:”How did prosecution attain this message? how do you prove Jaques1 was actually the author of the message sent by his FB account. Isn’t this protected speech? etc”

          Child-Porn case: “Your honor, here’s the file found on the defendant’s computer after an anonymous tip was called in.”
          I’m not a lawyer but “I have no idea how it got there but it wasn’t me; I’m not even into that stuff” doesn’t seem like it would work. In sum, You’re going to jail, it’s unlikely that friends or family will help you, and now your reputation and anything you’ve built is discredited or tarnished. Best case scenario in Jason Bourne type situations.

          Basically, putting a file on someone’s computer isn’t the hardest thing in the world. I don’t think people appreciate how exposed that makes everyone one of us.

      • Anonymous says:

        > speech is construed as pretty broad (eg includes paying for campaign ads)

        Sorry, but this isn’t true. It isn’t that paying for campaign ads is speech. It’s that campaign ads are speech, and a restriction on spending money on them can function as a restriction on speech. “Money is speech” has never been a valid equivalence. Money and speech are only related via the restricting.

        • fubarobfusco says:

          Alternately: One distinction between “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” is that while a pauper can stand up and speak in the public square, operating a press requires that someone own one and supply it with paper and ink, none of which are free. So “freedom of the press” entails the freedom to spend money to amplify one’s own or others’ words.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I’ve seen a principled anti-free-speech position, though not from Gawker. Basically the view is that “our views are right, your views are both wrong and dangerous. If we allow you to express your wrong views, you may lead others into error, harming them and making them dangerous as well.” If this looks much like the position of the Catholic Church in the 16th century (only without the peril to souls) to you, well, it looks like it to me too.

      • Mary says:

        It’s the natural and spontaneous position of human beings. The idea of free speech is like the idea of steering your car into a skid — however correct, it’s counter-intuitive.

        • The Nybbler says:

          I think that position is a bit more sophisticated than a spontaneous position. Free speech isn’t so counterintuitive; it makes intuitive sense for someone who isn’t in a position to dictate to support free speech. For someone who IS in a position to dictate, eliminating free speech makes sense on selfish terms. The “no free speech because it leads others into error” position is at least a sophisticated rationalization.

          Going a bit off topic: as for the skid thing… maybe the worst advice in the history of drivers ed. It’s completely confusing. It’s true, but it makes sense only from the perspective of an outside observer. A car in a right skid has its rear wheels sliding to the right. You do straighten the car out by turning the wheel to the right; if you turn left the car will spin. But what someone in the driver’s seat feels and sees is not the car moving right; rather, they see a counterclockwise rotation, with the front of the car turning left. Their instinct is probably to correct by turning right, which is exactly correct. But if they are remembering advice to “steer into a skid”, they’ll probably do the wrong thing and turn left.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Yes! I did exactly this many many years ago. I felt myself skidding left, remembered one should steer into a skid and steered left. I ended up pulling a full 360. Luckily no one else was nearby or I would have creamed them all. After that I realized what a dumb rule it was. As you said it is only to steer the front into the place the rear is slipping, even though what I noticed was my front going left. In this case my instinct was correct and the stupid rule was wrong.

          • Alexp says:

            “steering into the skid” I think is only useful advice if you have time to practice in a large and empty parking lot.

  58. jsmith says:

    The idea of standardized testing in colleges troubles me, as colleges tend to have widely different specialties. Some colleges are known for for their international relations or economics programs, others are known for producing a huge amount of research in specialized medical fields, and other’s might specialize in enology, agricultural science, or art. Or even might just have a good career services program. Even within a college, people in different fields vary vastly in what they learn. I can’t imagine that standardized testing would be able to boil down so many varying things into a meaningful numerical representation.

    Beyond that, how do we even test things that are on the cutting edge of their fields? It’s not hard to test at high-school level, as there’s a huge chunk of people who can write those questions. Yet as we get into specialized fields, we might have 10 people who even know what’s going on.

    • Barry Cotter says:

      They aren’t testing anything even close to graduate level. They’re not even testing material that couldn’t be given to bright high school students. The Collegiate Learning Assessment from the Wikipedia article seems to be load heavily on g, (institution scores have r^2 of 0.9 with average SAT) and to be IQ tests administered at various points in time to the same students. It looks like it just measures practice effects.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collegiate_Learning_Assessment

      Scott’s hope of impartial assessment replacing prestige seems misplaced. The G GRE and GMAT exist already, even better GRE subject tests.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      I don’t think that’s much of a concern because, unfortunately, you don’t actually learn anything very cutting-edge or specialized in college outside of internships. Undergraduate education is all about building foundational knowledge and skills which really ought to be uniform.

      Right now colleges already have the capability to standardize testing for specific courses, like with the various ACS Exams. They can also ask for broader tests covering whole disciplines or majors, like with the GRE Subject Tests. And anyone going for graduate or professional schools already takes the GRE / MCAT / GMAT / etc to test their overall abilities coming out of undergrad.

      If we take away the part about mandating that colleges use a single standard, and instead just promote the use of existing standards, it sounds like a great idea. GPAs are virtually worthless due to inflation, but standardized testing can be kept reasonably secure and consistent.

    • Anonymous says:

      Standardized tests are a substitute for college, not a complement to it. Employers value a degree for reasons that have nothing at all to do with what is taught in college classrooms.

      • Anon says:

        I would say the same is true for high school. I’d be fine with abolishing it altogether and just giving everyone a standardized test when they finish eighth grade, the results of which they would be allowed to report to employers who would then be allowed to base hiring decisions on it.

        Employers don’t seem to value high school diplomas because they very much want their employees to know the Pythagorean theorem or how the periodic table works. They seem to value them because diplomas are proof that a potential employee who holds one can take orders, do at least a modicum of work, have a minimum ability to understand new information, and can avoid committing rampant, blatant felonies at work/school.

        Standardized test results could provide this same information with a lot less expense (except perhaps for the “not a blatant criminal” factor, but I’d guess that most of those kids would score poorly on the test anyway due to the negative correlation between IQ and criminality).

        • NN says:

          Standardized test results could provide this same information with a lot less expense (except perhaps for the “not a blatant criminal” factor, but I’d guess that most of those kids would score poorly on the test anyway due to the negative correlation between IQ and criminality).

          Unless the apparent negative correlation between IQ and criminality is actually a negative correlation between IQ and getting caught. Embezzlement, computer hacking, and more sophisticated types of fraud clearly require more intelligence and skill than holding up a liquor store, but they are also far less likely to be detected and if they are detected are much harder to trace back to the perpetrator.

          Even when committing more obvious crimes, smart people may be more likely to take precautions that help them avoid arrest. When John Carmack was 14, he used homemade thermite to melt a school building’s windows so he and a few friends could break in and steal some computers. The only reason he got caught was that one of his accomplices was overweight, couldn’t fit through the window, opened it, and set off the silent alarm.

          Insert joke about how the really smart criminals become Wall Street executives and steal money in entirely legal ways.

          • Anon says:

            Oh yeah, I’m sure the smart criminal types would do well on the tests. But those types aren’t “blatant criminals”. They’re sophisticated criminals, and our current system of sending them through high school doesn’t really weed them out either, because they’re smart enough to avoid stuff like trying to kill another kid at school, or selling drugs in school, or obviously robbing the school.

        • Julie K says:

          How many employers are looking to hire 13-year-olds?

          (The funny thing is that 100 years ago, the answer was “lots of them.” Are workers with below-average IQ headed for the same fate as teenage workers?)

          • Anon says:

            Yeah, that’s the main problem with abolishing high school. There’s just not enough jobs out there for all of them, or even for like half of them, not to mention the child labor laws. I think it’s kind of silly to prevent teenagers from working, but as it stands now, it’s much less of a legal hassle to just hire an unemployed 18 year old.

            But the fact that they won’t be able to find jobs when they are that young doesn’t mean high school actually adds any employability to them beyond what their natural abilities do. It just means that the functional purpose of high school in the 21st century is to warehouse teenagers until they’re old enough to work without legal hassle. And considering how much a lot of teenagers desperately hate high school, it would be nice if we could figure out a way to route around this problem.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            And considering how much a lot of teenagers desperately hate high school, it would be nice if we could figure out a way to route around this problem.

            Individuals can homeschool, at least in America. A collective political solution under the current system is probably impossible; hell, the current push is to turn college into high school 2.0.

          • Anon says:

            @jaimeastorga2000

            Yeah, homeschooling can be a good alternative to high school, at least for kids who have parents who are willing and able to homeschool them (and who won’t make that experience even worse than regular high school).

            But the majority of parents either can’t or won’t homeschool, and I wish we could do something to help the kids who have parents like this and who hate high school.

            But of course, you’re right about the political situation. It’s politically impossible to get rid of high school right now. Parents like having somewhere to send their teenagers while they’re at work. They enjoy knowing their kids are doing something “productive” (even though the vast majority of classwork and homework in school is not really productive in the least) during the day. And the whole “college should be high school 2.0 and everyone should go” thing is just going to make everything worse.

            I guess I can see why society as a whole might like to warehouse teenagers (and young college-aged adults) somewhere where there’s at least a veneer of productivity, however fake it may be, for the sake of lowering the amount of competition in the entry-level job market. That sector of the job market is already far too full of unemployed and underemployed young adults. They can’t take any more competition from high schoolers or college-aged adults.

            But I don’t think this will work in the long run. Eventually there will be calls for everyone to stay in school until they’ve got a master’s degree, and very few people want to stay out of the job market until they’re 24-25. I don’t think people will be willing to go along with it any longer at that point, and then we’ll have to find a new solution to the question of “what do we do with all these young people when there aren’t nearly enough jobs for all of them?”

          • Brad says:

            I’m hardly a doctrinaire libertarian but it seems to me if we are so fretful about a lack of job opportunities, mind you I’m not certain we should be or there is any such shortage, the first thing we should do is lower the barriers to entry to creating them.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            @Brad: Also politically impossible. All incentives push for more barriers to entry; none against.

          • Anthony says:

            Making high school universal was, in part, about reducing the supply of labor. It was considered bad that teenagers were undercutting wages of men with families to support. And high-school graduates would be competing for higher-paying jobs, so they wouldn’t be competing with the working poor as much, until even the low-end jobs required a high school diploma. But that would take a few election cycles to come to pass, so the only political opposition was based on the cost of high school for all those kids.

    • NN says:

      The idea of standardized testing in colleges troubles me, as colleges tend to have widely different specialties. Some colleges are known for for their international relations or economics programs, others are known for producing a huge amount of research in specialized medical fields, and other’s might specialize in enology, agricultural science, or art.

      This. I went to an art college where all students, even Sound Design majors, were required to take multiple drawing classes in Freshman year, but for most majors (Architecture was an exception, I don’t know if there were any others offhand) you could take a single test to get out of taking any math classes at all. I have a hard time imagining how standardized testing would be at all relevant to schools like that.

      • Anthony says:

        You can’t imagine how standardized testing would be relevant to a school which used a standardized test to let you out of math?

        • NN says:

          I mean in terms of standardized testing to check how good colleges are at teaching students compared to other colleges. Granted, I haven’t read deBoer’s paper, but this seems to be what it is about based on Scott’s description:

          Freddie deBoer writes a white paper supporting standardized testing in colleges. His position is that private colleges need to be held accountable and we need proof that online courses don’t work, but American Interest points out that it might break the power of education-industrial complex if people who go to less prestigious institutions have an objective way to prove they’re just as good as people who went to more prestigious ones. And I will add that it might incentivize colleges to admit based on something vaguely resembling merit if they want higher test scores. Overall this would be amazing it it happened.

  59. eh says:

    Are there alternatives to Fort Galt that offer intentional communities, in the same price bracket, with the same loose targeting towards techies? I can justify $10k on speculative Chilean accommodation, but not $44k.

    Political philosophy is irrelevant as long as nobody yells at me for owning plastic items, refusing to read Fountainhead, not saying prayers at mealtimes, or anything similar.

    • Rowan says:

      I second this declaration of interest.

    • Gabe says:

      Our tiny $10k rooms sold out pretty quickly. We’ll offer them again when we start on the next building but we have to finish the first one first.

      Not to worry. We’re not a religious outfit or anything. Personally, I’m an atheist anarcho-capitalist so I’m all about leaving people alone to do their thing. The entrepreneurial/maker theme is what unites us here and that’s pretty much it.

  60. Michael Vassar says:
    • multiheaded says:

      Juárez Correa didn’t know it yet, but he had happened on an emerging educational philosophy, one that applies the logic of the digital age to the classroom. That logic is inexorable: Access to a world of infinite information has changed how we communicate, process information, and think. Decentralized systems have proven to be more productive and agile than rigid, top-down ones. Innovation, creativity, and independent thinking are increasingly crucial to the global economy.

      … I mean, I’m all against abusive fucking school nonsense, but every sentence here reads like self-parody.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I remember that! Did anything ever come of it? If not, why not?

      (and how do you relate that to the Vox article? I can think of a few different ways.)

  61. multiheaded says:

    I want to write a big long serious post on class and permissiveness/lack thereof. No energy right now, though, so here is the thesis.

    Protestant ethic, etc has not actually been a feature of the *lower* class throughout history – it is a bourgeois culture and ideology, an ideology of upward class mobility, of strivers. It is the formerly lower-class parents who are the most draconian about imposing middle-class norms on their children, after all, etc. (See Siderea’s post on class that Scott linked here before; with her describing precisely that.)

    The “liberal elite/either conservative or degenerate masses” dichotomy does not describe what’s going on. Most everyone can afford to be fairly laid back when staying in place, the lower class… varies, and is lumpenized under bad economic conditions (see 19th century alcoholism rates) – but it is the strivers at all levels who are known for being puritan and austere and self-sacrificing to get ahead (or because religion). There are communities of strivers occasionally, yes. Mormons, Hong Kong people, etc. I question the premise of them being the norm for Virtuous Old-Time Proles.

    (paging Deiseach)

    • eh says:

      This article on the Lancaster Amish recently did the rounds on HN. It’s interesting in that it attributes success in part to a combination of Amish (protestant, sort of) work ethic AND to a society that’s less class-segregated than the mainstream, i.e. owners working on the shop floor, high trust between employers and employees, etc.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think conservatives would argue that what we’re actually worried about in the lower class is teenage pregnancy, drug use, preventable unemployment, divorce, and crime – avoid those, and the economic things will mostly resolve.

      (I partly agree – I could certainly imagine that if those were solved, the underclass of unemployed people in the projects/in prison would mostly be absorbed into the lower class of fast food workers in crappy apartments. Whether that’s a worthy goal or not is a separate question.)

      As far as I can tell, these are somewhat new problems – I don’t have sources, but I remember reading that in the early half of the century, blacks had higher employment and higher family stability than whites. I also think (though am not sure) that rural whites used to have much higher levels of family stability.

      (I don’t know how much of the change involves the invention of new and better drugs)

      Failure in these respects seems less related to whether you’re a “striver” in the Hong Kong sense or not.

      • multiheaded says:

        I suppose all of this could be folded under “lumpenization”, then? Which is AFAIK a widely researched and commented-upon thing. (Also something that inspired vicious hatred in Marx of all people.)

        Also, again, I find it terribly hard to buy that drug use and crime at least as pertaining to the urban lumpenproletariat are new problems. And generally… hm I had a more complicated thought but can’t access it.

        Basically I think that the orthodox leftist view is correct; a lot of it is a symptom, some of it is a coping mechanism[1], hypocritical and sanctimonous liberal elites are to blame for deindustrialization, divestment, various urban collapses, etc, and not for corrupting the proles with horrors like women’s rights.

        [1] an opportunity to plug that “meth ain’t so bad” article in American Conservative. Yes, you heard that right.

        • Immanentizing Eschatons says:

          I would add something else to this discussion, which is that even if everything alleged about the lower class is true, a sufficiently leftist in-the-right-way society would not have most of the problems described, or would neutralize them.

          State sponsored housing/healthcare/basic necessities generally make unemployment, or what would be unemployment, less/non harmful (a low level of work might have to be mandated and organized to compensate)

          Freely available and unstigmatized abortion and sterilization removes most unwanted childbirth and if basic resources/income were also provided for children, people having them and not being able to afford to care for them would not be as much of a thing (note: there may be incentive issues here that would have to be dealt with, but thats another topic). There would still be people having children who really shouldn’t but not much if any more than in traditional society.

          Criminality and drug abuse are harder and more complicated.

          Some of the other stuff regarding general unhappiness, well- I think hypothetical leftism would do a lot better here than status quo, if it turns out that people are happier under traditional society than free- well I think the discussion about glee in China is very relevant here, in ways I want to write about but haven’t yet fully formulated.

          • Vaniver says:

            a sufficiently leftist in-the-right-way society would not have most of the problems described, or would neutralize them.

            This sort of claim rarely ends well.

            State sponsored housing/healthcare/basic necessities generally make unemployment, or what would be unemployment, less/non harmful (a low level of work might have to be mandated and organized to compensate)

            Here we run into problems with autonomy / infantilization / self-actualization; yes, it would be nice if people didn’t have to worry about poverty, but the state can only take care of bodies, it cannot give people self-respect or their lives meaning.

            Freely available and unstigmatized abortion and sterilization removes most unwanted childbirth

            Access to abortion isn’t the limiting factor. The limiting factor is a combination of not wanting an abortion (especially while under the influence of pregnancy) and actively wanting kids.

            That is, it’s mostly your upper class / middle class teenage parents who think things like “oh no, this will derail my college career, I need an abortion.” Many teenage mothers actually welcome the opportunity to be a mother, and view this as just the next thing that happens to them that they’ll make the most of.

            Some of the other stuff regarding general unhappiness, well- I think hypothetical leftism would do a lot better here than status quo, if it turns out that people are happier under traditional society than free- well I think the discussion about glee in China is very relevant here, in ways I want to write about but haven’t yet fully formulated.

            But this is where it gets interesting! I do think you should write about this.

          • multiheaded says:

            @IE: Yes yes yes. Re: childcare – look at the goddamn (50s and later) Soviet Union. High abortion, high divorce, mostly two working parents (and plenty of single motherhood); and yet kids turned out pretty well.

          • Anthony says:

            >Freely available and unstigmatized abortion and sterilization removes most unwanted childbirth

            No, no it doesn’t.

          • Back when both contraception and abortion were legally controversial, the argument for legalizing both (and for sex education) was that it would sharply reduce the number of “unwanted children,” which at that point mostly meant children of unmarried mothers.

            Abortion was legalized, contraception became much more available and considerably improved, sex education became common in the schools.

            And the rate of births to unmarried women went sharply up.

            I haven’t seen any apologetic statements by people who made the argument confessing that they turned out to be wrong.

            The obvious explanation is that most births to unmarried women are not and were not unwanted.

          • Anonymous says:

            A lot of those can be unwanted – by the men.

          • Anon says:

            @David Friedman

            The obvious explanation is that most births to unmarried women are not and were not unwanted.

            From my experience living in the underclass among a lot of unmarried mothers, this is exactly right. The ones who wanted abortions were almost always able to get them (of course, I grew up in an urban area in a liberal state with a lot of abortion options; it may be different in rural areas or in conservative states).

            All of the single mothers I knew had their kids because they wanted them. My own mother (who was a single mother) definitely wanted me, and she told me so many times. When she found out that she was pregnant, she was thrilled, despite the fact that she was in an objectively horrible situation for having kids at the time. She was working at a fast food restaurant, lived with her father, wasn’t married to my dad, and was (and is) mentally ill.

            Her pregnancy with me was unintentional, but when it happened, she most certainly wanted to keep me. And the same was true for the single mothers of most of my underclass friends.

            @Anonymous

            A lot of those can be unwanted – by the men.

            This is probably true, at least in a “revealed preferences” sense. It explains why so many of these fathers don’t stick around and do their best to avoid paying child support.

          • Immanentizing Eschatons says:

            I was aware that many of those children were wanted, thats why I said unwanted.

            Edit: Although with current birth rates the “unstigmatized” part is important. Presumably many mothers have children because they got pregnant and think aborting the fetus would be wrong. I’m having some difficulty in my brief search for statistics on teenage births/abortions/miscarriages vs teenage births/miscarriages.

            I should mention that people can be prevented from obtaining abortions in the US in many states by their parents (I don’t know what the rate of that happening is). It can also be difficult for people with no money to obtain one. And people can be denied if they can’t obtain one in time for the limit.

            Of course, people may have children they “want” but would actually be better off without, or would not want if they had full knowledge of the situation. That also happens in traditional society, more or less than status quo I don’t know, It’s probably more than in the hypothetical society I referred to in which money is not as much of an issue.

          • Anon says:

            I should mention that people can be prevented from obtaining abortions in the US in many states by their parents (I don’t know what the rates of that happening is).

            Yes, definitely. I don’t know how common this is, but I’m sure it happens.

            The opposite also happens, though. When my mom was 14, she got pregnant for the first time. I don’t know who the child’s father was, but it wasn’t my dad, as the two of them had not yet met.

            Her father told her she had to have an abortion, so she did. She says she still regrets going along with it to this day and wishes she had stood up to her father and kept the child.

            I don’t know how “forced” this incident should really be counted as, but it wasn’t entirely consensual. She did go along with my grandfather’s orders, so it was sort of voluntary, but she also felt she didn’t really have any other choice, because she was entirely dependent upon him. He was a single father at the time, raising my mom and uncle, so she didn’t have a mother to turn to for help or anything.

            The strange thing about this incident is that my grandfather and his entire side of the family were fairly socially conservative, at least in an underclass way. I know his sisters and eventual girlfriend (not my grandmother) were very anti-abortion. I guess he must have just never told them what he ordered his daughter to do.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            The obvious explanation is that most births to unmarried women are not and were not unwanted.

            Points perhaps worth looking at here, after caffeine.

            A. ‘Children first, marriage later’ became respectable and popular. B. There are a lot of abortions happening (even with the increasing difficulty of getting one), which indicates that those pregnancies were unwanted.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m having some difficulty in my brief search for statistics on teenage births/abortions/miscarriages vs teenage births/miscarriages.

            I wonder if this would help? From the Guttmacher Institute, U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2010:
            National and State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity
            .

          • Immanentizing Eschatons says:

            @Deiseach
            Thank you!

          • Anonymous says:

            IUDs have reduced the rate of teenage pregnancy, which suggests that maybe people don’t go out of their way to become pregnant under adverse circumstances (even if they would carry to term should a pregnancy occur).

      • nyccine says:

        I don’t have sources, but I remember reading that in the early half of the century, blacks had higher employment and higher family stability than whites.

        I assume you’re thinking of the Monyihan Report (The Negro Family: The Case For National Action), but that’s not quite correct; family stability rates of pre-50’s blacks are higher than whites *now*, but not for the time.

        It’s jaw-dropping though, to look at the illegitimacy rates that caused Moynihan such panic; we’d kill for rates like that these days.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          You could argue we already are killing for such rates, in a depressing sort of way.

      • PGD says:

        ” I remember reading that in the early half of the century, blacks had higher employment and higher family stability than whites.”

        This is not true — blacks had worse family stability than whites pretty much as far back as the data goes I think. The Moynihan report traces it back to 1940, that is available on line, but there are other Census sources you can find too from pre-WWII.

        On worse employment, I also believe that is true, but the picture is complicated by these apartheid employment relations in the South — unemployment rates of blacks in the South were lower than blacks in the North, and lower I believe than whites in the South, but that is because they were in these sharecropping and domestic service relationships with wealthier whites. In the North blacks have always had higher unemployment rates than whites.

        One possible source of confusion is that blacks in the first half of the 20th century had better family stability than whites do TODAY. Possibly likewise for employment of prime-aged males.

        (Whoops, didn’t see the posting from nyccine above that already said much of this)

  62. Soy says:

    You might find it interesting to know that in the past there were left leaning political parties that argued against alcohol use (and stopped drinking themselves (yeah, non-hypocrites)) because they realized how bad an effect alcoholism has on the lower classes. Using the same kind of logic as the alt-right people, but on a different group. (race vs social class). They however didn’t want to ban alcohol (as they know what happened during prohibition in the USA).

    Sadly, while I know it happened in the Netherlands, I cannot find any sources, as I have no idea how the political parties were named at the time. Mostly because my bad memory (damn… alcohol!), and my lack of google fu.

    But yeah, the alt-right argument that the left throws the ‘weak’ under the bus isn’t totally correct. (sadly alcohol use is way on the rise at least in the Netherlands the past 50 or so years).

    • Mary says:

      Prohibition was a left-wing cause. That tends to get swept under the carpet.

      • John Schilling says:

        Also the first cause taken up by women voters, as a block, once they won suffrage.

        In terms of scoring a public-relations own goal, it would have been hard to do better with deliberate planning. But it seems to have worked out, which gives some hope that today’s progressives can recover from some of their own overreaches.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is as dumb as going around calling the Republican Party the “Party of Lincoln”. But about the level of reasoning we’ve come to expect from Mary.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          [ ] Necessary
          [ ] Kind
          [ ] True

        • nil says:

          No it’s not. “Party of Lincoln” is dumb because it ignores the fact that abolitionism was a clearly left wing cause both in rhetoric and theory, and that there was a partisan realignment, driven in large part by race, within living memory. “Prohibitionists were on the left” is dumb because… well, it’s not really dumb at all, so long it’s understood that the original prohibitionists had plenty of good reasons and lacked the case study of how Prohibition played out to inform them of the downsides.

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s no eternal “left wing” that it is reasonable to tag with supposed misdeeds from any place or time as if it were relevant to here and now. It’s the same logical flaw as the “party of Lincoln” in slightly different dress.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            abolitionism was a clearly left wing cause both in rhetoric and theory

            It depends on what you mean by “left-wing”.

            A lot of the abolitionists promoted a basically libertarian idea of society, with everyone expected to provide for himself. It was the “positive good” school of slavery proponents who cast it as a more benevolent system than leaving workers free to fend for themselves against capitalist exploiters. It’s not a matter of just going in and saying which one was left-wing and which one was right-wing.

            Prohibition wasn’t really on the “left”, either. It was supported by people on both sides of the political spectrum as we know it and indeed repealed by FDR. Saying it was a left-wing cause is at least as dumb as saying abolitionism was a right-wing cause.

          • nil says:

            @Vox I don’t know a ton about prohibition, but my understanding was that it was firmly identified with progressiveness, which, notwithstanding the racism and eugenics, is generally understood to be on the left. Looking at some contemporary platforms seems to put the party pretty firmly on the center-left.

            I’m unfortunately too short on time to give you anything substantive on abolitionism, but off the top–the early Jacobins outlawed slavery, Marx wrote approvingly of the North and its efforts, and at that time socialism was in its infancy and individual-oriented classical liberalism was the modal left ideology.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ nil:

            I don’t know a ton about prohibition, but my understanding was that it was firmly identified with progressiveness, which, notwithstanding the racism and eugenics, is generally understood to be on the left. Looking at some contemporary platforms seems to put the party pretty firmly on the center-left.

            The point is that the divide over Prohibition doesn’t map to current-day left-right divides.

            There were people who supported Prohibition for progressivistic reasons as the cure to all social problems. But it was also tied to pietistic Protestanism and rural values over the values of urban people, immigrants, and especially Catholics.

            And the Prohibition Party is neither here nor there. Prohibition had wide bipartisan support. It was, if anything, more favored by Republicans than Democrats, since the former were the party of northern white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, while the latter appealed to Catholics and immigrants. And yes, at that time, economically, the Republicans were the party more in favor of laissez-faire (with the Grover Cleveland wing having been driven out of the Democratic Party by the likes of William Jennings Bryan).

            I’m unfortunately too short on time to give you anything substantive on abolitionism, but off the top–the early Jacobins outlawed slavery, Marx wrote approvingly of the North and its efforts, and at that time socialism was in its infancy and individual-oriented classical liberalism was the modal left ideology.

            If the “left” then was individual-oriented classical liberalism and the “left” now is socialism, then they’re not the same “left”. That’s the whole fallacy in question: treating leftism and rightism as timeless categories that have some essential component to them over the specific philosophies that are being opposed to each other.

          • Mary says:

            Lincoln clearly regarded it not as a progress but a going back — his description of the Know Nothings makes it clear.

            “Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

          • Mary says:

            “it was firmly identified with progressiveness, which, notwithstanding the racism and eugenics,”

            It was firmly identified with progressiveness, precisely because of the racism and eugenics. They made no bones about how science was marching on over those poor obsolete conservatives with their old-fashioned Declaration of Independence.

          • nil says:

            “If the “left” then was individual-oriented classical liberalism and the “left” now is socialism, then they’re not the same “left”. That’s the whole fallacy in question: treating leftism and rightism as timeless categories that have some essential component to them over the specific philosophies that are being opposed to each other.”

            But the left _now_ isn’t just socialism. It’s socialism on the left-wing-of-the-left, but it’s also includes a great many intellectual descendants of those bourgeois revolutions–people who may have some critiques of capitalism, but think the answer is more individual rights and safety nets.

            Overall your definitions strike me as both too broad and too narrow. Calhoun talking about the overall good of society doesn’t make him left any more than Trump’s lists of all the various groups that purportedly love him do. His rhetoric remained primarily in the service of the interests of a small group of wealthy non-laborers with fears for their property. Meanwhile, certainly the prohibitionist movement was animated by anticatholicism and pro-protestantism–but William Jennings Bryan’s faith tells me that he lived in a period during which there was nothing incompatible with strong, even fundamentalist Protestantism and the left, not that he doesn’t qualify as a leftist. What I’m hearing from you is that really, Prohibition was a result of a coalition between the left and the right–which makes sense given the fact that it was successfully implemented. You’re also telling me that sometimes ethno-religious orientations were more important that left/right considerations. But neither of those things proves out the idea that the basic idea of left/right isn’t coherent across political eras, it just means that the constituencies drawn to those perspectives and the degree to which they dominated politics versus other considerations varied.

            Edit: A big background question is what the goal is. For me, it’s historical curiosity and an interest in how these basic temperaments and constituencies developed over history, how they reacted and changed to circumstances, etc. Muddiness and imprecision there is as much a feature as it is a bug. But if it’s to brand contemporary ideologues with crimes from the past, I could see why you would demand a level of cohesion and rigor that history only occasionally meets.

        • Mary says:

          giggle

          We’re not allowed to discuss history in a historical discussion?

          All the more in a historical discussion of progressives — a term that went out of use, and came back in by people who wanted to affiliate themselves with the earlier versions?

      • Soy says:

        Yeah, prohibition in early 1900 somethings. I was talking about the post war period in the Netherlands. Thanks for the info.

        So a different left from the prohibition left, and the current left (with the progressive/moderate left split).

  63. Anonymous says:

    Gawker getting sued to Hell is sort of like a broken clock being right twice a day. Sometimes, very occasionally, the American lawsuit system actually stomps on the face of evil.

  64. Anon. says:

    A suggestion for Arbital: instead of the # of characters in each “article”, display an estimated time required to read. Nobody has good intuitions about # of characters.

  65. Last week wrote a blurb about Gawker: I predict the site will still function mostly unchanged even if they lose the appeal. Nick may lose all his equity though.

    first, although it has fun using new genetic discoveries to mock socialist concepts of human malleability, a full biodeterminism would equally negate the conservative insistence on instilling traditional values – if things like conscientiousness and criminality are mostly genetic, why care if people have traditional values or not? Second, a bunch of atheist homosexual polyamorous feminist liberals are doing absolutely fine, and in fact statistically these people do better than traditional religious folk in a lot of ways. Northerner’s post solves both of these in one fell swoop: it theorizes that the genetically gifted have low impulsivity, low time-preference, etc and will succeed (almost) no matter what; these people support liberalism because they don’t need traditional morals and feel like such morals are bogging them down. The genetically unlucky are in great danger of social failure, but traditional values and culture are a guide for them to live their lives in ways that nevertheless let them flourish. For example, an upper-class Ivy Leaguer might be able to practice free love and experiment with drugs without serious consequences; a lower-class hillbilly might try exactly the same thing and end up a teenage single mother addicted to meth. Conservative ideas like chastity and avoiding drugs would be useless baggage tying the upper class down, but vital to the lower class’s continued success. This idea is very appealing in tying a lot of conservatives’ favorite hobby-horses together and making liberals look like the privileged bad guys throwing the lower class under the bus for the sake of the well-off, but thus far people have been content to raise it and let it speak for itself; the next step is for somebody to really start presenting evidence for or against.

    There is a lot to unpack here. The relationship between IQ and political preferences are not clear-cut. https://reflectionsofarationalrepublican.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/2000-presidential-education.jpg It would seem like the most and least educated tend to lean Democratic.

    HBD-conservatives may argue that although individuals, due to biology, may not have much control over their actions, they should still not be shielded from the consequences of their actions. Second, that HBD-based policy can be used to improve society.

    Extremely related: Vox on “no excuses” discipline. Tough charter schools that make students wear uniforms and behave in regimented ways at the threat of harsh punishments seem to be almost miraculous in their ability to improve scores and outcomes among underperforming and minority students – for example, Vox says that “all the highest academic results ever produced for poor students and students of color have come from no-excuses schools, period” (though beware selection bias!). Needless to say, people are attacking them as probably racist and regressive, writing soulful songs about how they are the educational equivalent of racist cops shooting black teenagers (really!), and demanding their “radical overhaul”.

    Yes, there probably a selection bias here. It would he helpful to have IQs scores before admittance to such schools, to see if smarter students are not being self-selected.

    • Anon says:

      HBD-conservatives may argue that although individuals, due to biology, may not have much control over their actions, they should still not be shielded from the consequences of their actions. Second, that HBD-based policy can be used to improve society.

      This is essentially my belief. I don’t think people have much control over their actions, and I think genetics play an overwhelmingly huge role in the behavioral traits of people, but I don’t think that means we need to just let murderers go free. Locking violent criminals up in jail still seems like a good idea to me, simply to keep them away from the general public. We shouldn’t needlessly torture them or anything, but neither should we allow them to perform the violent behaviors their genetics compel them to perform.

      • ryan says:

        If a person is not really in control of their body, but rather a slave to their genetic behavioral traits, then punishment is the one and only logically defensible method to prevent those behaviors.

  66. LPSP says:

    I would say I fit the same demographic as that Free Northerner fellow. It’s not the idea of high self-control intellectuals (or as he bluntly puts them superWASPS and new england Jews) operating well under a traditional-moral-free society where “normal” people suffer that is revolutionary or particular special about the article. It’s the non-forefront yet firm insistence that, for all the contemptuous language used, FN thinks we have the Noblesse Oblige to make life enjoyable for those less fortunate than us, and that it can only be accomplished by not sparing this particular rod. That I feel is the more unfamiliar and novel idea to most readers, that it is in fact compassionate and caring, parental, to establish and maintain restrictive institutes we ourselves have no use for, purely to help people with less self-control – by the standards of many an edgy rightwinger our Darwinian inferiors – live in happiness.

    • multiheaded says:

      Give me Ayn Rand any fucking day, m8.

      • LPSP says:

        I wish I knew what you meant by this.

        • multiheaded says:

          I mean that she would force the proles to sink or swim instead of disciplining and manipulating them ~for their own good~. Heartless capitalism is a lot less creepy than all that ~parental~ shit.

          • Mary says:

            Most of the stuff involved is cultural. There is nothing in a libertarian paradise preventing all sorts of cultural pressure.

          • LPSP says:

            I have a question: do you enjoy owning pets?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @LPSP

            Comparing the peasants to animals doesn’t exactly help your case for paternalistic interference (and in any case a good cat owner gives their pet freedom to roam).

          • LPSP says:

            I’m just trying to navigate Mr. multiheaded’s Social-Darwinian perspective. If viewing fellow humans like animals in the wild fits the pattern, what about Rover and Moggy? Having owned five dogs, I know how keenly these animals depend upon the grace and kindness of their foresighted masters. I still think they’re adorable and hate to see them suffer. They hit the same spot in my brain as kids.

            I should mention I’m a private tutor, and have also worked with charities dealing with, for example, autistic children. I only ever seek out kids to directly teach if they are smart and self-controlled, and can percieve big topics. One little kid in a group of autistics I used to mentor also had ADHD, and I hated having to directly cater to his needs because he was an aggressive brat that didn’t care for other’s comforts. But I didn’t dislike him, and I could get along well with him on days when he was under other workers and I could basically tell him to bugger off if he acted out, rather than having to pointlessly recite explanations to this little kid that he would never get. Just because he’d never have personal discipline and a deeply inquiring mind didn’t mean I wanted to neglect him or will him a bad standard of living. I just didn’t like having to act as though he could change.

            What the hyper ADHD-sperg child needed was a firm set of rules – and whenever the sensitive nannying types weren’t around I implemented firm rules however possible – and someone to kick a ball at him, hard, and challenge him to kick back harder. Trapped in a room with smart sensitive types that wanted to make something over-elaborate in Minecraft and talk about Warhammer, he just smashed things and pulled out most of the beard I was growing then. This state of wasted affairs is still better than slamming the door on the brat and letting him starve. I’d sooner be a parent than a predator.

          • multiheaded says:

            “Mr. multiheaded” lmao with the likes of you I’m never sure what is intentional and to what degree.

            p.s. happy to hear about the damage to your beard

          • Anonymous says:

            On the Internet, nobody knows that you’re a female cerberus.

          • LPSP says:

            Funny, I felt that way when I first read your comment, but now I know your stance.

            I’ll just assume you’ve never had hair pulled out in your life and leave it there.

          • rockroy mountdefort says:

            > I mean that she would force the proles to sink or swim instead of disciplining and manipulating them ~for their own good~. Heartless capitalism is a lot less creepy than all that ~parental~ shit.

            I can see where this would be a common opinion among, say, people whose parents had the money for swim lessons

          • Gbdub says:

            Apologies if I’m mistaken, but aren’t you, multiheaded, sympathetic to communism? Which is the same paternalism, but with the pretense that everyone is the same class (it’s just that the Party, you see, knows what’s best for The Common Good).

            Hell, modern Progressivism certainly has its paternalism too. Monarchy is obvious. Really every political system other than libertarianism and anarchy at some point relies on the belief that [authority] has the moral right and duty to impose order of one kind or another on the general populace. For their own good.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I perhaps fit the type. I’m a libertarian and a prude, in that I don’t care what you do but what I’m willing to do myself is mostly pretty dull. But, if I’m to have this Noblesse Oblige to maintain institutions to discipline the proles with no self-control, I want the patent of nobility to go with it; I want to be considered above the notice of these restrictive institutions, just in case one of the few non-dull things I do falls under them. I, after all, have the self-control to handle it. Accepting such an obligation without corresponding privilege just makes me a chump.

      But I think this kind of thinking tends to lead to the Dark En…(um, can I use that phrase?), so I’d really rather not go there.

      • LPSP says:

        I’m glad you didn’t entertain that junk term. But it doesn’t have to lead there. When restrictive instituitions are forced on people, it depends on a degree of cooperation. The adherents must be honest towards the authority, and accept whatever information they recieve. Their interaction with the machinery of its administration must be earnest, from a place of faith. And of all moods or attitudes that human beings can falsely project, none are more demanding – both to maintain and detect – than faith, in terms of sheer self-control. But we know damn well that there are those among us who have ample self-control, certainly ahead of the curve major religions rely upon, and even their modern analogue the political party. Placing a righteous moral demand upon these individuals, and then expecting them to simply follow them letter-and-spirit, is a recipe for disaster.

        Any individual with a low enough time preference can – and *will* – rupture a system that subjects them to standards and strictures for which they, personally, have no use. The desire to, not throw off the binds of a system or defy them, but EXPLOIT them, is a feeling in the bones of anyone who has laboured under rules they understood better than the enforcers; no less real than the desire for order and imposed sanity felt by their less self-controlled peers, for whom the binds fit. It isn’t Machievellian to follow your gut, and the gut of the foresighted subject is to smile, study the paperwork, and make as much as they can from the oppressive system for as little effort. If they can’t speak their mind and openly criticise the system, a moral argument against exploitating it won’t exactly penetrate the armour of their reason.

        The most sensible policy for any behavioural institute to implement then, is to assess the self control of its members as keenly as possible, and remove those with a high degree of self control from as many strictures as it can afford. Such *individual* individuals will corrupt systems that simply swallow them, so one-sided are the incentives at play. Not only that, but individuals with high-self control are themselves most equipped to see through bad faith and exploitation, which leads them close to, or into, positions of power in any case.

        Individuals that need rules will follow the rules in their spirit. Individuals that don’t need rules write rules, and re-write those of others, and only ever follow a rule to its absolute letter when needs are musts. Better to have them re-writing our rules for our sakes, than just for themselves.

      • multiheaded says:

        The Dork Entitlement.

        • LPSP says:

          Roffle.

        • Net says:

          Am I imagining things when it seems like people on the left write more ad hominem arguments online?

          • Dahlen says:

            That’s not an ad hominem argument, that’s just name-calling.

          • Anonymous says:

            Probably just your standard right wing paranoia.

          • anonymous says:

            You’re just seeing that Scott doesn’t ban one consistently insulting guy who lowers the level of discourse constantly because he’s one of the tumblr communists that Scott is terrified of offending.

          • null says:

            You’re one to talk about lowering standards of discourse. By that logic, Scott doesn’t ban you because he doesn’t want to be accused of being an SJW or insufficiently manly or something. Also, Scott has banned multiheaded in the past (Three times in fact!).

            P.S. If conservatives evolve from monarchists, then why are there still monarchists? #checkmateatheists

          • anonymous says:

            It’s like Mark Twain quitting smoking – easiest thing in the world, he’s done it hundreds of times.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Leave it to anon@gmail to bring down the level of conversation.

          • Anonymous says:

            I didn’t know you were a tumblr communist, anonymous.

            @hlynk did you recycle that from last thread

          • hlynkacg says:

            Not that I’m aware of. Though even if I had, it wouldn’t make the statement less true.

          • LPSP says:

            I’d go so far as to say I’ve *studied* the bowels of tumblr, twitter and 4chan. Both wings of the immature resort to jingoism and dumb putdowns.

            “Eww gross white dude shitlords”
            vs
            “Gas the kikes, racewar now”

            Which is the most ad hominem?

          • Anonymous says:

            Without context, both are just plain insults. Within context, I’ve seen the former used as an Ad Hominem, while the latter is some sort of all-purpose “Autobots, roll out!” kind of phrase in /pol/.

            I’d say “Nice Try, Schlomo” is far more comparable.

          • Psmith says:

            To think nobody in this thread has mentioned calling people cucks yet.

          • LPSP says:

            @Anonymous Yeah that makes sense. Substitute Shlomo for Mr. Shekelstein or some such for more authentic humour.

            @PSmith I’m not certain what makes particular types people so enamoured with that term.

          • Anonymous says:

            “cuck” is going the way of “fag” and “tard”, slowly losing all meaning to become simply another vaguely negative suffix to attach to other words.

  67. As a Kent alumnus, virtually every single line of that article made me cackle. One friend who graduated a few years before me noted: “Well, this is the same student union that used to keep all the money in a biscuit tin in the office, so…”

  68. Anon. says:

    >Countries with fewer Jews in medieval times (usually because they kicked them out) remain poorer today.

    Reverse causality. Economic problems lead to scapegoating and expulsion, and there are well-established linkages between the wealth of nations then and now. (Possibly the other way around, too: economic prosperity attracts Jewish migrants).

    • gwern says:

      Also endogenous attitudes and beliefs: if a government (and by extension, the population this government is recruited from) doesn’t think much of property rights or appreciate the value of banking or ‘usury’, such that it’s likely to think expelling the Jews is a great idea, then it’s probably not going to be well-equipped to deal with the Industrial Revolution.

      • Galton says:

        This is fairly well-identified paper that examines attitudes towards finance (as measured by stock investment, savings in bank deposits, getting a mortgage conditional on having a house) at the county level in Germany and shows counties where Jews were expelled in medieval times have a persistent distrust of finance:
        http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2368073

        The main argument does not directly address your concern, but in one specification, they use distance from the Rhine valley as an instrument for whether Jews were likely to settle in a county and thus whether they could be later expelled, and find it predicts a distrust of finance. Hard to explain that with an endogenous distrust of banking, especially because Jews would probably be likely to avoid settling in districts with such a distrust in the first place.

    • wilson says:

      I’m a little surprised to see SSC linking to a “study” as reported in the Daily Mail. Was this study some sort of contrafactual attempt to explain why England and Germany in an alternate universe are so downtrodden compared to Poland, Belorussia and Ukraine? Why Spain is so underdeveloped compared to Turkey? I think northern/southern Italy is the only place where the conditions posited as inevitable outcomes even hold.

      • I didn’t see the study, but Spain had a large Jewish population until the end of the 15th century. Germany also had a large Jewish population at various times.

      • Cereal Crepe says:

        The study was published in ReStat, which is a top-5 economics journal. The article seems like a reasonable summary despite being published in the Daily Mail.

  69. David Pinto says:

    Is there a difference between Soviet Communism and other forms of Communism? I’d say that game pretty much describes any try at the economic policy.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Something something “not real communism.”

    • M says:

      Well, for example with Cambodian communism* you would be probably murdered for forming a queue – or there would not be reason to form it as products would not arrive anyway.

      *”The combined effects of executions, strenuous working conditions, malnutrition and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pol_Pot

  70. Anthony Hart says:

    I can give some background on Type Theory, since I’m currently training to be a type theorist.

    Most people know about type theory through the history of mathematics, being the theory Russel (and Whitehead) developed to solve Russel’s paradox. Research in the subject ended up being overshadowed by set theory, but research never ended.

    In the 1920s and 30s the combinator and lambda calculi were developed. These were effectively “idealized” programming languages which ended up being Turing complete. Shortly after, types were added to them. Nowadays, having types in programming languages are a standard feature.

    In 1934 Haskell Curry, an important mathematician and logician, for whom the Haskell programming language is named, noted that the types of certain combinator calculi formed complete axiom systems for certain intuitionistic logics. In particular, he discovered that the typed SK combinator calculus was (equivalent to) the proof theory for the positive implicational calculus. This was the first major sign of deep connections between logic and computation.

    Over the next few decades, connections between other logics and programming languages were discovered, mainly by Curry and a proof theorist named William Alvin Howard. These were eventually collectively named the Curry–Howard correspondence. It’s often said that the notion of proof in mathematics is ill-defined. This is not true in type theory, where proofs are programs and have a formal meaning, existing as mathematical objects in the same way numbers do.

    Later on, a mathematician named Joachim Lambek made further connections between logic-type theory pairs, and the mathematical structures of categories. This was named the Curry–Howard–Lambek correspondence. Category theory acts as a mathematical theory of structure in the same way group theory acts as the mathematical theory of symmetry. Type theories can be used as a formal language for category theory, where every category has it’s own internal language which is a type theory.

    Long story short, logic, category theory, and type theory are three sides of the same coin. Any observation in one has a translation in another. This concept is called (tongue-in-cheek) computational trinitarianism. Also see the nlab page. This might make an interesting reference in your Unsong story :P.

    In the 1970s, the first dependent type theories which could be used as competitive foundations of mathematics were developed by Per Martin-Löf. A few years later, the Four color theorem was proven using type theory. Specifically one called the Calculus of Constructions. The fact that the foundation of mathematics being assumed was also a programming language was very helpful when it came to automatically proving and checking the thousands of special cases required to prove that theorem.

    In more recent times, there’s been a small renaissance in the field due to something called Homotopy Type Theory (HoTT). Briefly, in Euclid’s elements, the notion of a point in cartesian space doesn’t exist. Instead, basic notions like line, point, circle, etc. are axiomatic notions. Defined by what they are, instead of hacking them out of the plane like cartesian geometry does. This is the distinction between synthetic mathematics and analytic mathematics. In HoTT, all types carry an (algebraic) topological structure. This allows one to do homotopy theory (and cohomology) in a synthetic fashion without ever defining real numbers, or anything else that standard algebraic topology requires.

    It’s also been known for a while that types carry (ordinary/general) topological structure. One current research vector is generalizing this into a theory of adjoints, allowing the synthetic homotopy theory to make use of the synthetic topology. This approach also gives a method of giving types smooth, differential structure, allowing one to do (among other things) synthetic differential geometry inside a type.

    Another recent research vector is directed homotopy type theory, where every type carries an infinity-category structure. In this theory, all types automatically get the minimal notion of morphism upon definition. Defining a group inside it automatically gives the notion of a group homomorphism, topological spaces get continuous functions, vector spaces get linear maps, categories get functors, etc. So, many natural notions in mathematics are given to us for free in this foundation. Potential applications of Directed HoTT + adjoints from earlier are as a foundation for physics.

    Dependent Type Theory is also the standard way of formulating higher-order logic. Much of the work done in formally modeling natural language is done inside of specialized dependent type theories (c.f. Dependent Type Semantics).

    In summary, yes type theory is still a thing, and more important and interesting than ever.

    • John Salvatier says:

      Really interesting. Thank you. Do you know why MIRI sees it as useful to them?

      • Anthony Hart says:

        In MIRI’s post, they mention reflective programming and Gödelian reasoning. Long term, it looks like they want to advance toward a Gödel machine. Short term, they want to develop a language capable of expressing programs which can modify their own code at run-time without changing their output. This would require a sophisticated type checker/proof checker capable of verifying proofs that a program consistently self-modifies.

        I think this might be related to a project mentioned by Bas Steunebrink a while ago. He mentioned the creation of a language called Sleight, which runs on a virtual machine which sleight code can directly inspect and modify (with the assistance of an automated theorem prover) at run-time.

        One of the main applications of type theory that I failed to mention in my post is in formal verification of software. Since your programming language is an effective, constructive foundation of mathematics, proving the existence of a program that meets a specification is the same as actually writing that program, and proving that it will, without error, do what it’s meant to, based on that specification.

        This has been used to, for instance, design a C compiler which provably compiles correctly and provably never increases the time complexity of a program during compilation.

        They have also been used to design provably correct security protocols. Here is an interesting video about various instances of this. In particular (around 56:20 – 1:16:20), it tells when the Nuprl group (an important group and project in type theory) were hired by DARPA to provide a provably correct protocol for achieving consensus of backed up data across multiple servers, while making sure that said protocol wasn’t vulnerable to DoS attacks. Long story short, they proved this to be impossible by designing a program which would take these kinds of protocols as input, and would output an implementation for a DoS attack which is specially suited for the protocol in question. Even if there wasn’t a theoretical solution to DARPA’s problem, they did provide a practical one by randomly switching between thousands of automatically generated, provably correct protocols at random, meaning that an attacker would have to somehow sync with the server’s random number generator.

        Doing in-code verification of behavior is one of the main practical uses of type theory, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was needed to make sure a self-modifying program doesn’t screw up its own processes.

      • I’m currently doing work on type theory with MIRI, so I can probably say a bit about why we think it’s useful.

        The short version is that we spend a lot of time working with mathematical constructs that look an awful lot like code, and there are various reasons it makes sense to translate that into actual code (for ex. Benya talks a bit about why we care about computer-checkable correctness in https://intelligence.org/2013/08/04/benja-interview/).

        Type theory seems to be the best tool around for formally proving things about programs, and so if we could find a way to talk about programs that operate on source code within it we probably get some really interesting and useful results.

  71. Foseti says:

    “43 toddlers killed or injured someone with a gun last year. 40/43 seem to be boys, a surprising fact which cries out for more explanation.”

    Sometimes it’s really obvious you don’t have kids.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m totally okay with boys being Inherently More Violent or something, but how does that get them their parents’ guns more often?

      (unless, as a commenter suggested above, everyone gets their parents guns but girls just, I don’t know, cradle and sing songs to them harmlessly.)

      • Sastan says:

        One possibility is that little boys search more for hidden things, or for hidden guns specifically.

      • Foseit says:

        By the time he was two years old my son was chewing his food into the shape of guns. FWIW, we live on Capitol Hill, where absolutely no one (ourselves included) owns guns and my son doesn’t seem to be an outlier in our neighborhood in any way.

        I have two girls – one if very girly, one is much less so – but neither showed any interest, even as they got a bit older.

        • Sastan says:

          This trend is well noted.

          Personally, I wonder if there was an analog before firearms were invented. Did middle-ages boys chew their sandwiches into swords?

          • Loquat says:

            Friend-of-a-friend anecdote, usual disclaimers apply:

            Couple somehow manages to conceal the existence of guns or other weaponry from their young son. His response – menace others with a pretend electric drill.

          • smocc says:

            Personal anecdote:

            My mother had no trouble avoiding toy guns with my sister, but gave up when she found me (a boy) opening imaginary birthday presents and happily exclaiming “it’s a shooting gun!”

            For my two-year-old son, anything can be a sword. One minute he will be pretending a stick is a pickaxe or drill, and the next minute we will be swordfighting.

          • NN says:

            I’ve read that in the collective nurseries of the early Israeli kibbutzim, the young boys pretended to be wolves and other wild animals.

          • ivvenalis says:

            Odysseus found young Achilles disguised among the girls at the court of King Lycomedes on Styros by noticing that only one of the “girls” paid any attention to the sword (rack of weapons in some versions) he put near the gifts he brought for the girls. Although he was older than a toddler at that point.

      • Glen Raphael says:

        Male humans have more grip strength than female humans. According to this study:

        For the youngest group of 4 to 6 years, the boys were 24% to 34% stronger; for the middle group of 7 to 9 years old, the boys were 2% to 9% stronger; and for the oldest group of 10 to 12 years, the boys were 3% to 11% stronger. For both genders, differences in grip strength between dominant and nondominant hands ranged from 2 to 17 N.

        Thus, an obvious hypothesis is that toddler boys given access to a gun are more likely to be physically capable of pulling the trigger than toddler girls.

        • John Schilling says:

          Good point. For reference, the lightest trigger you are likely to find on a factory handgun requires four pounds (22N) of force to activate, applied by whatever will fit inside a trigger guard sized for one adult finger. For uncocked revolvers that goes to 8 lbs (45N), for semiautomatic pistols without a round in the chamber you have to cycle the slide – and that requires enough force (albeit with the whole hand) that even adult women often have to shop around for a model they can easily handle.

          • Dan T. says:

            Would it be equipped with a trigger warning?

          • JuanPeron says:

            Notably, this also means that boys are more likely to succeed at overcoming trigger safeties, which don’t require a separate action to disarm but do require a high-weight pull on the trigger.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t have kids either but my gut reaction was that boys try to figure out toys and dismantle them, whereas girls will ignore or just, as you say, cradle them. So boys will be more likely to play with moving parts like the trigger.

        Although I think Glen is more correct. My godfather tried to get me to fire a gun for my sixth birthday or so, and I wasn’t strong enough to pull the trigger. It was a revolver, but even if other guns are easier to shoot I figure strength would be the big issue with a toddler if six-year-old me didn’t manage it.

        • One of my boys, before he could speak in sentences and hadn’t really mastered two-word phrases, would open up his toys and then request “Driver! Driver” because he wanted to disassemble them further.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        There’s a joke I like to make about the famous study of male and female rhesus monkeys with trucks and stuffed animals that when the female monkeys play with trucks, what they do is cradle them and say things like “There there, Trucky. You’re just as beautiful as those stuffed monkeys.”

    • Deiseach says:

      No, sometimes it’s really obvious why you don’t let your kids have easy access to your guns – like the lady boasting about how her four year old was so eager to shoot his first gun.

      Then he shot mommy.

      Kids that age are not yet attained to the use of reason. They don’t make the connection between “shooting someone is dangerous” or that death is a permanent thing. You present guns as fun, you praise Junior for being interested in guns, shooting is a fun thing mommy and daddy do, you don’t make it clear that shooting can hurt or kill someone, people who get shot in films and TV aren’t really hurt – so Junior gets into the gun cabinet that hasn’t been properly locked or the gun left in the bedside locker and they play with it, and they go “bang bang” at mommy or daddy when they try to take the gun away from them – all in fun – and guess what, this is a real gun, really loaded, and someone gets hurt.

      Things like that are not the fault of the kids, it’s the parents who are so gung-ho about “my right to own and use a gun” that they present guns as fun, as toys, as “I can’t wait till I can teach you to shoot, it’s going to be so great!”, let their kids hold and play with their guns, and don’t teach the kids that guns are dangerous, are for grown-ups only, and that Junior should not take Mommy’s gun out of Mommy’s purse because that’s for Mommy only.

      • smocc says:

        My son figured out swordfighting early, and now at two it is still one of his favorite games. At one point I was kind of tired of the game (and worried about the pretend violence) so I tried to dissuade him by pretending to be injured whenever he stabbed me. I would groan and flop down and pretend to be unable to move because of my stab wound.

        He quickly figured out how to apply pretend bandages and give me medicine until I was able to keep fighting. In fact, he has come to enjoy the part where someone gets injured and needs medical attention even more than just banging swords together. Pretty much a complete backfire. >_<

        It's possible that with even more commitment I might be able to convince him that violence has sad consequences, but I suspect it's just a very difficult concept at this age.

        • Deiseach says:

          Yeah, that’s the point: small kids don’t realise the dangers. I doubt you give your son real knives to play swords with, or let him stab you with one!

          Letting your kid hold your gun, even in a pretend way, is a bad precedent. People who like guns are entitled to have them, but going overboard by forgetting guns are dangerous and not toys and letting their kids get used to guns by treating them as toys are setting themselves up for exactly that: bored kid in car wants to play with Mommy’s gun because she’s let him play with it before. He doesn’t realise it’s loaded and that pulling the trigger will not end well.

          • Anonymous says:

            Or he knows its loaded but doesn’t realize the logical connection between aim+shoot => hit or between hit => dead or between dead => permanent

          • That sounds like a disease of civilization thingummy.

            As I understand it, when guns are actually tools for living– in the country, where hunting is a significant way of getting food — guns are taken seriously. Children are taught that guns are a serious matter. While they might get their first gun rather young (age 12 or so?), they’re also inducted into handling guns safely.

            Now we’ve got a gun culture where guns are more of a symbol of autonomy rather than a tool with specific limits and consequences.

            I think part of the problem is generations of conventional schooling, which is set up so that everything is simulated. Any real world consequences are filtered through more or less arbitrary authority– future opportunities are a matter of grades rather than accomplishment. The result is increasing numbers of people who don’t have a grasp of how what they do and what they fail to do might matter.

          • Matt C says:

            > Letting your kid hold your gun, even in a pretend way, is a bad precedent.

            I let my kids hold a real handgun precisely because I wanted them to understand the difference between toy guns and real guns.

            “even in a pretend way” is confused thinking. Letting your kid hold a real gun in a pretend way is terribly irresponsible, but the pretense is the part that makes it bad. Teaching kids to interact with real guns in a responsible way is teaching them gun safety.

            Nancy, I think responsible gun ownership is still part of gun culture today. When I have gone to a range to shoot everyone takes safety seriously. On the other hand, off the range, I’ve seen some pretty damn stupid and careless behavior. Not a gun nut myself and don’t have a good sense of the big picture, but both are there.

          • Matt, I definitely should have done better.

            There are a bunch of gun cultures, and there’s a non-rural gun culture which takes gun safety very seriously.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Nancy
            I think part of the problem is generations of conventional schooling, which is set up so that everything is simulated. Any real world consequences are filtered through more or less arbitrary authority– future opportunities are a matter of grades rather than accomplishment. The result is increasing numbers of people who don’t have a grasp of how what they do and what they fail to do might matter.

            Ding! — on a very wide scale. Old School D&D taught a lot of kids to think ahead, way ahead (apparently for their first time, judging from their shock).

            Consequencies were real, somewhat without warning, and objective: the dice and the DM’s advance notes ruled, not the DM’s kindness of the moment, or a rail-roading plot.

          • Muga Sofer says:

            I think Nancy’s got it exactly right. I’m not sure about four years old, but I definitely understood gun safety *long* before I ever held a gun, for as long as I can remember – because my father knew a guy who got shot by a gun that “wasn’t loaded” when he was in the military, and he made a point of teaching us proper gun safety.

            I’m not even into guns as a hobby (and certainly not all kids take it as seriously as I did, looking at my brothers), but the level of casualness some “gun enthusiasts” display says to me that they literally don’t understand the object they’re holding on some level. It offends me deep in my nerdy core.

            Guns Are Dangerous.

            That doesn’t mean they’re icky and bad, it means they’re fucking dangerous and you should respect them, the same as any dangerous tool.

          • Vorkon says:

            @Deiseach

            I think you’ve misidentified the problem here. If the parent hadn’t previously taken the child shooting, and the gun still slid under the seat of her car to where he could reach it, do you really think he wouldn’t have still picked it up and tried to play with it? Or in the theoretical scenario you presented earlier, if the parents hadn’t portrayed guns as a fun thing mommy and daddy do, and praised their child for being interested in them, and the child still got into the gun cabinet, do you really think that they wouldn’t have gone “bang bang” thinking it was all in good fun when mommy and daddy tried to take it away?

            Kids are curious, and get into everything. Unless you plan on somehow hiding the very existence of guns from your children, so that if they see one they don’t think of it as anything other than a weird hunk of metal, (and good luck with that…) they’re still going to want to play with it, whether you’ve taught them guns are a good thing or not. (And hell, even if they DO think it’s just a weird hunk of random metal, they’ll still probably want to pick it up and play with it. They’d just be less likely to have it pointed AWAY from themselves when they fire it…)

            The incident was certainly the fault of the parent for being careless with her gun, but whether or not she was gung-ho about gun rights, or had taken the kid shooting before, had absolutely nothing to do with it.

            (Well, I suppose you could argue that if she wasn’t gung-ho about gun rights she wouldn’t have had the gun in the first place, and it never would have been an issue, but that’s a different issue altogether; whether or not she had taken the kid shooting before had no bearing on the incident.)

            In a best-case scenario, teaching your kids how to use a gun would lead to them being more careful with it, more likely to respect it, and possibly even less curious about it, since it’s something familiar. You’re absolutely right that, at that age, the seriousness of using a gun and the fragility of life is a difficult, if not impossible, thing to teach a child. But considering that, in a worst-case scenario, teaching them to use a gun would lead to a situation absolutely no different from what you’d get if you had never taught them anything about guns in the first place, why wouldn’t you want to try?

            (Admittedly, that didn’t help the woman in your example much, but she was an idiot who carried without keeping her weapon secured to her person, and deserved everything she got.)

          • Patrick says:

            I love how everyone is trying to come up with reasons why the Children of Today are soft and stupid compared to the manly, manly people commenting on this forum who obviously weren’t as dumb, but if you google “children’s understanding of death” what you’ll find is a general view among psychologists that children don’t understand that death is final until somewhere between ages six and nine. They can fear it before that, sure, but they don’t *get* it. And if what you’re wanting is for your child to use proper gun safety at an age where your child doesn’t understand, or only barely understands, that death is a real thing that happens to humans and can’t be fixed, then the best you can do is sort of program your child to do the right thing without understanding why, like a dog trained to do a trick without any comprehension of what the trick is supposed to accomplish. And that’s always a risky thing to rely on.

            TLDR, rational decision making relies on both rational faculties and properly grounded facts. If your kid is too young to have these about a difficult conceptual problem that many adults still don’t get (most major world religions are built around coming up with an exception to that whole “death is final” thing), then your kid can’t make rational decisions about guns.

          • Vorkon says:

            @Patrick

            Call me crazy, but I’d rather have a trained dog than an untrained dog. Especially when that dog can kill me in a split-second from 50 meters away. Sure, I may not be able to rely on it as effectively as someone who understands why they’re doing what I ask them to, but it’s better than nothing.

            Also, has anyone in this comment thread even implied that getting a child below a certain age to understand the finality of death is possible? Every comment I’ve read has so far has either explicitly stated otherwise, or implied that you can’t. Similarly, who mentioned anything about “kids of today?”

        • moridinamael says:

          My pattern so far has been to happily sword fight with my son, until he hits me or his sister with anything harder than a light tap, and then I make it clear that he has caused real injury and that this is not amusing or desirable. This lets him understand that the limits of pretend-fighting end at the point of injury.

          Obviously there is no analogous case where you pretend-shoot someone “too hard” and cause them injury, so toy guns are not self-correcting. I have experimented with letting them play with Nerf guns and making it clear that they are not to shoot each other, only inanimate objects, but I can’t tell whether they’re actually learning a lesson or just humoring me.

          • John Schilling says:

            Nerf guns are for shooting friends and family, BB guns are for shooting inanimate objects in the back yard or basement, single-shot .22s are serious business, and anything beyond that is for adults only.

            Most children have no trouble with this progression. The ones that do, you can almost always figure that out before anyone gets too seriously hurt.

          • Let me suggest two things to you, both of which may have occurred to you already:

            1. Boffers made from pool noodles are safer for sword fighting with children than other designs.

            2. Your son should be taught the rule that an SCA friend of ours taught his: It’s wrong to attack someone who is not armed. It’s only after the visitor to the house has been so imprudent as to pick up one of the toy swords lying around that you are allowed to try to hit him with yours.

      • A very long time ago, my son and nephew and I were visiting my parents in Vermont. I had a BB gun I was teaching them to shoot.

        It became clear that the older of the two was actually aiming the gun. The younger was pretending to aim it–didn’t yet understand the causal links between how you pointed it and where the BB went.

      • Psmith says:

        Jeff Cooper, who was the closest thing American gun culture had to a Pope, put the proper age for teaching children how to shoot at about 10-12, and approvingly recounted how WWII ace Joe Foss was grounded and had his rifle taken away for a year at age 16 as parental punishment for a negligent discharge. 4 is too young, for sure.

        (Having said that, I recall someone or other making the point that making guns taboo for small children is also counterproductive, for the usual reasons that making things taboo is counterproductive.).

      • Tibor says:

        When I was about 2, my dad was holding me in one hand close to his face and used a small hammer to lightly hit his own head a few times to make me laugh…then he gave the hammer to me.

        I cheerfully smashed his head with the hammer, close to the temporal bone. He somehow managed not to drop me, but it was apparently quite a shock to him. Some parents just are stupid enough to do something like this with guns.

  72. sweeneyrod says:

    RE: the study on British minority voters — the most successful politician to play the religious identity politics game is the white, non-Muslim George Galloway, who beat the Muslim Imran Hussain after distributing leaflets saying “God KNOWS who is a Muslim. And he KNOWS who is not. Let me point out to all the Muslim brothers and sisters what I stand for. I, George Galloway, do not drink alcohol and never have. Ask yourself if Imran Hussain can say that truthfully.”

    RE: tracking — how common is that in the US? I think most pupils are put into sets based on ability for core subjects in the UK. I certainly can’t imagine a mixed-ability maths class being effective for anyone.

    RE: Free Northerner — that sounds like a slight elaboration on the classic fascist “the poor and ignorant masses need traditional rules because they cannot think for themselves, but we are superior beings who need not be bound by old-fashioned morality”.

    • Anonymous says:

      >RE: Free Northerner — that sounds like a slight elaboration on the classic fascist “the poor and ignorant masses need traditional rules because they cannot think for themselves, but we are superior beings who need not be bound by old-fashioned morality”.

      Yeah, that’s a deficient line of thought. The elites would be better served following old-fashioned morality, and their adoption of such behaviour would help propagate it to the lower classes.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        As mentioned upthread, upper middle class and above people usually experiences fewer consequences for bad behavior. They’d still do better by engaging in GOOD behavior, but not doing so isn’t catastrophic for them.

        • Ghatanathoah says:

          It depends on what you mean by GOOD behavior. The whole reason the upper middle class reject traditional values is because they’re suboptimal when it comes to living a good life. A life lived according to traditional values might be better if the alternative is wrecking your life with bad decisions. But if you have the capacity to make good decisions you can do a heck of a lot better than traditional values.

          • Randy M says:

            For varying definitions of good, I guess.

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            The extended rumspringa seems to be quite effective at forming stable relationships, eventually.

          • @AncientGeek:

            Do you mean the stable relationship with his congregation? I don’t think Amish courtship has much to do with Rumspringa, which in any case is a practice of only some Amish affiliations, if that’s what you are referring to.

          • anonymous says:

            DF –

            I believe he’s applying the term rumspringa to the expected path for upper middle class twenty-somethings.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            @David Friedman: He’s using “rumspringa” metaphorically to refer to the period of time in an upper middle class’s person life before they “settle down” with someone in their 30s.

          • Jaskologist says:

            The extended rumspringa seems to be quite effective at forming stable relationships, eventually.

            Can you back that up? Do the stats show that the middle-class marriage rate is higher now than in the Bad Old Days, and the divorce rate (as percentage of marriages, not total population) is lower? Because I’m pretty sure that both are worse, just not as bad as they are for the lower classes.

            Similarly for Scott’s claim that “atheist homosexual polyamorous feminist liberals are doing absolutely fine.” Are they really? Do we have statistics that control for other factors which show this?

      • Ghatanathoah says:

        >The elites would be better served following old-fashioned morality, and their adoption of such behaviour would help propagate it to the lower classes.

        No they wouldn’t. The whole reason elites reject old-fashioned morality is that it makes them worse off.

        I think a good analogy is wheelchairs. Some people need wheelchairs to move around because they can’t use their legs. Other people don’t. What you’re doing is encouraging able-bodied people to use wheelchairs, even if they don’t need to and it’s inconvenient, because their adoption of such behavior will encourage people without functioning legs to use wheelchairs instead of trying to walk and falling over.

        Of course, you could make an counterargument that most people don’t delude themselves that they can walk when they can’t, while many people delude themselves that they are smart and controlled when they are actually stupid and impulsive. So maybe the upper-class could benefit those deluded people by hobbling themselves.

        I suspect that there is probably a better way.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          No they wouldn’t. The whole reason elites reject old-fashioned morality is that it makes them worse off.

          Can you provide some evidence of that?

          This isn’t a gotcha or anything but you keep saying this as though it was self-evident. I would like to know what you consider living a good life, per your comment above, and why modern liberalism does so much better achieving it in your view.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            It depends on what worse off is covering.
            – if it is happiness, it is pretty clearly a revealed preference
            – if it is functionality, cosmopolitanism is better for the upper class (because it lets them function seamlessly with the upper class in other countries)
            – if it is social functionality, ‘try new things’ is great for finding new things that are improvements over the old ones and in highly competitive fields is the only way to get in.

        • Gbdub says:

          Traditional values applied rigidly may be suboptimal, but optimally successful lives still might reflect a lot of traditional values – frugality / long term financial planning, diligent work ethic, stable relationships (or at least not making babies outside of stable relationships) etc. So they aren’t useless, just perhaps too prescriptive.

          If you naturally have the traits praised in “traditional values”, and are smart enough to see where the traditions work and where they are too rigid, you can occasionally “bend the rules” for fun and profit. But only in moderation. The less conscientious might be better off not risking bending them at all.

          It’s less like a wheelchair and more like, say a pattern manual. The master artisan can ignore the patterns and make his own design. But the apprentice should stick to the patterns until he masters them.

    • Anonymous says:

      It may be classic and it may be fascist and it may not sound good, but neither of those are arguments about whether it’s true or not.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, obviously not. But I have better things to do than explain why Hitler did something wrong. (I’ve got a policy of going anonymous to reply to anonymeese, to discourage anonymousing by making it more confusing).

        • ryan says:

          I think you are plainly wrong in associating Free Northerner’s sentiment with fascism. The sentiment is elitist and aristocratic. Nazism was anti-aristocratic at the time when German society was strongly so.

      • Anonymous says:

        You moved from “this idea is abhorrent” to “this idea is wrong in such a simple way it’s not worth spending time to explain it” [and if you don’t see the simple rebuttal you’re a simple man :^) ]. Both approaches are optimized more toward enforcing dogma than seeking truth or providing useful insights.

        You’re not actually going anonymous if you say who you are.

        • Anonymous says:

          No, it’s not necessarily wrong in a simple way (or even wrong at all, as the discussion has a moral aspect). Not all Nazis were, that doesn’t mean they were right (mention of Nazis not intended as reductio ad hitlerum).

          • null says:

            Other anonymous is asking you to judge the morality of this idea without making a reference to Nazis, because presumably if something is morally wrong, it would be morally wrong even if there were no Nazis.

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s very few mentions of nazis that aren’t reductio ad hitlerum, mostly restricted to historical discussion of the 1940s. Doesn’t help that the subthread started on the use of the word “fascist” (may have been a correct usage of the term, by now I don’t even know what it means tbh)

  73. tkmh says:

    I’m not really sure it’s a good idea to try to explain the sealion thing again, but one more time: It’s about behaviours, not about identity.

    • John Schilling says:

      OK, so we need someone with the artistic talent to redraw the original cartoon such that the Semitic Sealion remains in public spaces like most actual “sealions”?

    • Jiro says:

      The behaviors expressed by the actual sealions are nowhere near as offensive as the behavior depicted in the comic. They didn’t barge into anyone’s houses.

      He is also being vague about what the “behaviors” are so he can maintain plausible deniability when called on it.

    • JohnMcG says:

      Actually, it’s about ethics in online criticism…

      Seriously, I read the sea-lion cartoon as, “Man, it seems that whenever I make public generalized statements about some group, some pain-in-the ass sea lion shows up demanding I substantiate it.”

      Which, well, it is annoying. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s annoying that I have to work in order to eat.

      The (original) cartoon seems to be arguing that one should be able to make negative generalizations about (certain) groups without having to account them. Which is not an argument that merits much respect.

      • nil says:

        But the negative generalizations aren’t always meant to be public policy pronouncements or publicity campaigns. Often they’re venting, typically made in only technically-public spaces; other times they are an in-group conversation intended to be shared only among people who share the basic premises of Ideology X (despite being made in a public place).

        I’m a (semi-)socialist, strongly-pro-feminist Blue Triber who places a below average value on civility and (especially) free speech. When I read and post here, I try to remain cognizant that both the host and a lot of the posters have had some genuinely bad experiences with, and some foundational disagreements with, people who think a lot of the same things I do, and accordingly attempt (if not always succeed) to resist the urge to try and convince every other poster in every other thread that, hey, have you considered the possibility that “SJWs” ain’t so bad? I think that attempt is worth making, and I think that’s what the sea lion comic is trying to get at.

        • JohnMcG says:

          I agree that there are social contexts in which statements require different levels of rigor.

          If I tell my wife that I didn’t like a movie, song, or dish at a restaurant, it would be odd if she (or someone who overheard me) were to demand that I substantiate my complaint with exactly what part of it I found offensive, and place it on some standard of offensiveness.

          As I expand the audience for my complaint, the demand for rigor intensifies. A restaurant critic would need to detail why exactly her meal was unsatisfactory.

          At the same time, people have been undone for what they thought were private statements of bigotry.

          What we post on the Internet could be read by literally anyone, but these words, for example will probably only be read by 100 or so. On the other hand, InstaPundit or someone could, in theory, see this comment, cite it as an example of the problem with sea-lioning, and greatly expand the audience beyond what I anticipated in a way that my comment to my wife about my restaurant meal could not.

          In a case such as this, it seems that the couple could have responded with something like, “we were really just talking to each other, and didn’t mean for this to reach a large audience, and are not prepared to defend or discuss it. Apologies if it caused offense” rather than continue to curse the sea lion.

          • Tracy W says:

            Funny how our experiences differ. In my family I’d totally expect to have to substantiate my opinion about a movie or dish. (I am agreed to have no taste in songs.)

            As for “not intending for this to reach a large audience”, I don’t see how this apology is actually meant to help. There’s a tendency to believe that the things you say in private are more indicative of your real feelings than what you say in public.

          • Jiro says:

            Apologies if it caused offense” rather than continue to curse the sea lion.

            We both know that people accusing Gamergate of misogyny are not going to say “apologies that calling you misogynists caused you offense”. Misogynists are evil unpersons; you never apologize to them.

          • Nicholas says:

            Well I can substantiate that many people had misogyny as their primary motive to involve in gamergate. Because I am a long time 4chan user, and many 4chan users said, sometimes literally the words “we can drive women out of gaming once and for all.” In regard to why gamergate was important.

          • Jiro says:

            Because nobody would ever troll on 4chan.

        • The Nybbler says:

          If you’re making derogatory comments in public, apparently to the public at large, about members of a group who are in fact actually present and within earshot, you can’t reasonably demand they hold their tongue. This is true whether you think the space is “only technically-public” or “an in-group conversation”; if that’s what you think, the error is yours, not the sea lions’.

          My personal belief is that this is not what is happening; that the people objecting to “sea lions” do indeed want their views to be heard by all and sundry, but they don’t want anyone they attack to be able to respond. Because they, after all, are the “good people” who have earned the right to speak publicly through their virtue and those they object to are haters to be silenced.

          • ChetC3 says:

            And *my* personal belief is that the people objecting to the sea-lion comic are desperately rationalizing their own emotional immaturity. It may well be your legal and moral right to act out in an ineffectual and socially inappropriate manner, but that obligate anyone else to conceal their disgust.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Sorry, the first rule of poisoning the well is it doesn’t count if you poison it after someone has drunk from it.

          • ChetC3 says:

            Having read so many passionate defenses of sea-lioning from members of the SSC community, I must say it’s odd that r/slatestarcodex’s very own sea-lion, MarxBro, gets so little sympathy.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            There’s sea lions and then there’s sea lions.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ jaimeastorga2000
            There’s sea lions and then there’s sea lions.

            Here’s me being a sea lion: in a Livejournal discussion of Tey’s MISS PYM DISPOSES, everyone (including me) hated the ending, except one Famous SF Author.

            She liked the switch from comedy to tragedy. Okay, de gustibus, that’s fine for Tey and FSFA and anyone else at the lit crit level.

            But, I asked, at the character motivation level, why did Pym (who had set a penance on the wrong suspect) not correct her mistake? All it would have needed was one subordinate clause, like “After apologizing to WrongSuspect and letting her off the penance, Pym had lunch/whatever.” Or, “Since WrongSuspect felt herself partly to blame, Pym decided to meddle no further.” Anyway, the last chapter was still tragic enough, even if Pym had apologized.

            I am still extremely puzzled, wondering if a sentence got left out or something; or if to Tey’s readers the answer would be so obvious as not to be mentioned.

            So I did keep asking the question, further and further away from the original discussion, whenever FSFA was around. Not all the way to her bedroom/personal blog, though.

            Any other Tey fans here?

          • Nicholas says:

            “It may well be your legal and moral right to act out in an ineffectual and socially inappropriate manner, but that obligate anyone else to conceal their disgust.”
            Right, and the sea lions understand you have a right to the publically inappropriate way YOU are acting right now. But they aren’t concealing their disgust by pretending you didn’t just say that

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          > But the negative generalizations aren’t always meant to be public policy pronouncements or publicity campaigns. Often they’re venting, typically made in only technically-public spaces; other times they are an in-group conversation intended to be shared only among people who share the basic premises of Ideology X (despite being made in a public place).

          Donald Sterling will certainly be happy to hear that you guys have his back.

        • Tracy W says:

          I don’t get it. What do you mean by a “only technically-public space”? If a space is technically public, isn’t that exactly where you’d expect to have your opinion heard by others? Compare to say a place that is nominally-public but technically-private space.

          Not that I think that highly of slagging people off behind their backs either.

          • JohnMcG says:

            This comment box is public, in that any one could read it.

            In reality, while this blog is more widely read and has more active comment threads than most, the audience for whatever I type here will almost definitely be limited. It would be quite surprising if these words found their way in front of millions of eyeballs, even though that is technically possible.

            On the other hand, if I write a letter to the editor of the New York Times, or appear on a Sunday morning talk show, etc., then it should not be so surprising if a hostile audience hears me.

          • Tracy W says:

            @JohnMcG, firstly I appreciate that you’re trying to interpret Nil’s comment, not your own. And thanks for trying to explain. That said, in your comment here, you appear to be moving between not expecting a large audience and not expecting a hostile audience. But the two are different things.

            Let’s take the case of someone making bigoted comments while sitting in a restaurant, a technically public space. Obviously it’s very unlikely anything said would be recorded and later heard by millions, on the other hand, the odds that this would be overheard by someone who had some connection to the subject of the bigotry, eg cousin, spouse, ex-school friend, are much higher. Particularly as people tend to be critical of groups they actually know something of – I don’t see much criticism of say Tongans on English-language forums. And then you add in Murphy’s Law…

        • rockroy mountdefort says:

          >Often they’re venting

          Why is “venting” brought up so often by (semi-)socialist, strongly-pro-feminist Blue Tribers as if it excuses poor behavior?

          Does this mean poor rural whites are now allowed to “vent” about the n*****s being on welfare and the illegals taking their jobs and the Jews making them say “happy holidays” without you and yours criticizing them for it?

          • Brad (the other one) says:

            As opposed to what? What, do you intend to bug the houses of the poor rural whites to detect the heresy in the bud?

            If you don’t want to associate with that crowd, don’t. But do you think it’s somehow preferable when the assorted racist groups go underground, using dog-whistles and coded language, talking about “busing” as shorthand to their ingroups, forming secret societies with pointy white hats, etc etc etc? Is that ‘better’? Because you’re sure as hell not going to shame people out of this behavior, and I worry that once a heresy is declared, the inquisitors aren’t far behind.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        What really gets people mad at you is when you do substantiate your generalizations. Jason Richwine got fired for his Harvard doctoral dissertation, for example. Or Larry Summers’ speech that precipitated his downfall at Harvard was extremely insightful and accurate.

    • JohnMcG says:

      Indeed, if then original comic substituted human beings, there are two ways it could go, which would have ruined the comic.

      One would, as the alternative did, used ethnic, religious, gender or some other identity group instead of “sea lions” as the alternative did. But the author claims it was not what he was trying to do, so we could instead…

      insert human beings engaged in a specific behavior — rapists, smokers, protesters, etc. In this case, the comic falls apart, because the those making the complaints about specific behavior are typically willing and able to provide evidence of how that behavior is harmful. People don’t typically idly complain about some behavior without at least some example of how it is harmful.

      • Jiro says:

        The original target group was Gamergaters. He wanted to accuse Gamergate of misogyny without having to substantiate the accusation.

        • tkmh says:

          The original target group was Gamergaters. He wanted to accuse Gamergate of misogyny without having to substantiate the accusation.

          I don’t think this is true. I’m pretty sure the author had no connection to anyone involved in the ethics in games thing and really did just mean it to describe a common, non-specific phenomenon. Unfortunately the date of the comic coincided with the ethics thing, and a lot of people picked it up and started applying it to that.

          This is part of why discussing the comic and sealioning is so tiresome. Most people who are aware of it cannot separate the comic from the ethics thing, in which they have an ideological interest.

          • JohnMcG says:

            Perhaps the sea-lioning comic itself is a “victim” of sea-lioning.

          • Jiro says:

            If he didn’t mean for it to describe any particular group, when he posted the clarification, he could have said “I didn’t mean for it to describe any particular group”.

            He’s basically maintaining plausible deniability where he doesn’t want to explicitly say it’s about Gamergate (because then he’d have to justify it, as per the strip itself), but he knows that the most common interpretation is Gamergate, and his “clarification” is carefully worded so as not to deny that.

          • tkmh says:

            If he didn’t mean for it to describe any particular group, when he posted the clarification, he could have said “I didn’t mean for it to describe any particular group”.

            I really think you’re overestimating how interested the author is in Gamergate. By the time of that particular comic he’d been producing Wondermark for 11 years. His job is cartoonist. I doubt that he was verily heavily invoolved in the GG culture war, and probably wouldn’t have heard about it at all if his comic hadn’t suddenly caught a bit of the zeitgeist. I think that because his comic has been used as a weapon against them so much, Gamergaters just assume that the author hates them and is part of their ‘enemies’ cloud.

            I sort of understand. During the two months or so that it was a comparatively big thing I was transfixed by GG and invested (wasted) a lot of time watching it unfold (thankfully never participating). The thing with internet drama is that it always feels much larger than it is. The world at large cares way less than you think it does. Even when it was big, I doubt if 1 in 50 people in the West knew what GG was, or cared.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think the timing of the comic is “too convenient”, it’s not like it’s an old comic that was repurposed, it came out in the middle of the controversy.

            Regardless, even if the comic wasn’t about GGers (which it might very well not be, even if, as I mentioned, the timing is suspicious, and the “explanation” is equally dubious, we could at the very least afford the author the benefit of the doubt), it came into notoriety and became “conceptualized” (that is, people started saying “sealioning”) when people used it to attack/dismiss that specific group, so criticism of the concept, if perhaps not of the comment, can certainly take them into account.

      • Frank McPike says:

        “those making the complaints about specific behavior are typically willing and able to provide evidence of how that behavior is harmful.”

        Is this really true? I mean, yes, most people who complain about people engaged in behaviors probably have some reason for doing so. (Just as I’m pretty sure that most people who complain about Jews have at least some reason, however unconvincing to others, for doing do.) But are they, at each and every moment they make such a statement, necessarily prepared (or even remotely interested) in providing that justification to strangers? I know that if I walk past a protest and make a comment to a friend about how I dislike protesters, I’m generally not in the mood to have an extended (or even brief) conversation with a protester about my opinions (I may or may not be interested in giving that explanation to my friend, but certainly not the protester).

        Assume that I am a smoker and, while walking in public, I overhear one stranger remark to another that he hates smokers (this is not a difficult situation to imagine). Having overheard this remark, am I entitled to ask that stranger for a justification? Am I entitled to an answer? How far am I permitted to follow him around if he does not give me one? If he does give me an explanation, is he obliged to listen to my further objections? Must his explanation be convincing to me, or will any quality of explanation suffice?

        The normal rules of social etiquette would answer those questions “Maybe”, “Probably not”, “Not at all”, “Nope”, and “Take what you get”. And, to be honest, I find it very difficult to understand why those answers would be controversial.

        I see plenty of people in this comment section who say things I strongly disagree with. It’s not too uncommon to see groups to which I belong get criticized. Yet if I respond to such a comment and raise objections or ask questions, I don’t think I’m entitled to answers or explanations. If anyone here decides that it’s just not worth their time to respond to me, well, that actually seems pretty normal. God knows they probably have better things to do. If a close friend criticized me, and wasn’t prepared to justify themself, I would take offense. But a complete stranger on the internet? I simply don’t see how I’m entitled to a response.

        And even if I were entitled to a response, and they committed some grave moral wrong by failing to answer my questions, it still would not follow that I would be entitled to pursue them to press the issue. If I insisted on responding to all of their future comments with the same questions, I imagine (and hope) I would be quickly banned. If I tracked them down one other websites, and continued asking for an answer in the same fashion, I think I would be well out of line. If I turned up on their doorstep, they would be more than entitled to slam it in my face and wonder what kind of maniac I was.

        To be honest, much of the criticism of the sea lion cartoon I’ve seen here is very confusing to me. There seems little doubt to me that in the literal situation depicted in the comic, the sea lion is very out of line. The woman is out of line too, but that’s not relevant to the question of whether the sea lion has done something wrong.

        I also don’t have a hard time seeing online situations that analogize pretty closely to the behavior shown in the cartoon (the hypothetical about comments section behavior is one). You might not see perfectly eye-to-eye with the author on when the analogy fits, but I don’t think that invalidates the point.

        • JohnMcG says:

          Given a choice between:

          1.) Someone who pollutes the public discourse with generalized smears, and doubles down when called on to defend them, and…

          2.) Someone who is annoyingly (but politlely) persistent in demanding that these smears be defended.

          I’ll choose the second.

          Am I entitled to a defense of a smear like that? I would say I am entitled to either a defense or an apology, if only for that something that was intended to be private reached a greater audience.

          I guess I see the greater risk being that our public discourse being polluted with casual smears than people being hounded in their homes to defend them.

        • Frank McPike says:

          It’s not a choice between one or the other. Why are you approaching this as a situation where you need to pick a side? As the comic (and, I think, contemporary internet culture) shows, both behaviors coexist rather well, and have a tendency to perpetuate each other.

          Sometimes (in fact, quite often) there exist situations where all parties are in the wrong. Acting as though the party least in the wrong is therefore a saint, and should not be criticized, whatever their sins, is misguided. “I dislike all of them” is an option. Given that it is, and given that you seem to acknowledge that both behaviors here are at least irritating, why not choose it?

          • JohnMcG says:

            I don’t think I’m the one posting the binary (though I’ll admit I explicitly did in my post).

            The way this comic was deployed (if, perhaps not the intent of the author)was to day, as Amanda Marcotte might uncharitable summarize, the *real victims* are the people who publicly make generalized smears against groups without evidence. The ones making the smear are people, the one obejecting is an animal, so it seems pretty clear whom the reader is supposed to identify with. The sea lion speaks in awkward paragraphs, the couple communicates in knowing shorthand.

            I think we all agree that someone who literally came into someone’s home to demand substantiation for a public statement is in the wrong. It’s also the case that almost nobody does this. This comic isn’t being deployed against people going into someone’s home, it is being deployed against those who won’t let those who have made public smears continue making public statements without having to account for them. I’m not so sure they’re the baddies.

        • eh says:

          Regarding the smoker example, there’s a clear difference between a quiet I hate smokers that isn’t intended to be overheard, and a very, very loud MAN I HATE SMOKERS *COUGH* *COUGH* DON’T YOU ALSO HATE SMOKERS?. The former is justifiable, understandable, and obviously private. The latter is a sneaky attempt to land criticism without any accountability, and is very public.

          I suspect but can’t prove that a lot of the controversy around sealioning is due to a confusion between two modes of speaking, one overheard privacy and the other deniable publicity.

          • John Schilling says:

            Does such a difference exist in internet posts to forums open to the general public? There’s no such thing, in a public internet forum, as lowering your voice to the point where only the intended recipient and/or a deliberate eavesdropper can hear it – everything is said at full volume to everyone in the forum.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Well, on Twitter, your tweets are normally “to” your followers and anyone mentioned in the post, but can be heard by anyone. You can put your account private so only approved followers can see your tweets… but the people complaining about sea-lioning don’t want to do that, they think the sea-lions should be silenced without them doing anything.

            There are also those who will post “Ewww, #gamergate is a bunch of harasser misogynists” and then complain about sealioning from those tracking the hashtag. This is about the equivalent of walking into a South Philadelphia sports bar, saying “Phillies suck”, and complaining about the response.

          • ChetC3 says:

            It’s not confusion. Gamergaters are the internet’s premier crybullies.

          • JohnMcG says:

            For extra deniability points, the person saying “DON’T YOU HATE SMOKERS?” could claim that he was “just asking questions.”

          • eh says:

            @John: That’s what I mean. You don’t think that there’s any such thing as lowering one’s voice, while the people who say “randos in my mentions” clearly do. Two very different sets of netiquette, two clashing expectations, two groups which both think the other is unreasonable and rude.

            @ChetC3: There seems to be a great deal of both crying and bullying from both sides of the culture war, as well as passive aggression.

          • John Schilling says:

            Two very different sets of netiquette, two clashing expectations, two groups which both think the other is unreasonable and rude.

            Yes, and one of them is right and the other is wrong.

            Any expectation which defies objective reality, is intrinsically unreasonable. The public vs. private status of an internet forum is a matter of objective reality. The presence or absence of signal masking is a matter of objective reality. An expectation that people will treat your normal-volume statement in a public forum as if it were a private comment to your friends only, is unreasonable.

          • Frank McPike says:

            Doesn’t that cut both ways? An expectation that others will apologize for or explain any negative comment they make toward a group manifestly defies objective reality and, by your logic, is unreasonable. Yet many who criticize the sea lion comic do so precisely because they hold such an expectation.

            (Is any proposed etiquette objectively wrong merely because it has not already been adopted? That seems an odd way to approach these questions.)

          • John Schilling says:

            Well, people objectively do tend to respond to “sealioning”, even if usually not with the apology or explanation that the pinniped asked for. Their choice. Making a request that probably won’t be granted as written is not generally considered rude in itself, because sometimes the request is granted and sometimes the alterna