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Links 4/16: They Can’t Link Our Dick

[Disclaimer: None of these immediately set off alarms, but I have not double-checked all of them to make sure they are accurate. Please correct me if any are false or misleading]

Zerão is a Brazilian football stadium with the dividing line exactly on the Equator, so that each goal is on a different hemisphere.

Maybe the most important article I’ve read this year: When Confounding Variables Are Out Of Control. A new PLoS paper argues that “controlling for confounders” doesn’t work as well as we’d like. Confounders are always imperfectly measured, so when you control for your measure of a confounder, you’re only getting a portion of the real confounder, and the portion you didn’t get might be more than enough to sustain a significant effect. So many studies that claim to have gotten a result after “controlling for confounders” but which haven’t used complicated statistical techniques that nobody uses are now potentially suspect. I’ve always noticed that correlational studies that control for confounders get confirmed by experiments much less often than I would expect, and now I finally understand (some of) why.

Related: Andrew Gelman: “Let’s just put a bright line down right now. 2016 is year 1. Everything published before 2016 is provisional. Don’t take publication as meaning much of anything, and just cos a paper’s been cited approvingly, that’s not enough either. You have to read each paper on its own. Anything published in 2015 or earlier is part of the “too big to fail” era, it’s potentially a junk bond supported by toxic loans and you shouldn’t rely on it.”

Related: Internal Conceptual Relations Do Not Increase Independent Replication Success. That wouldn’t make sense if the problem was just the normal vagaries of replication, and suggests that “the influence of questionable research practices is at the heart of failures to replicate psychological findings, especially in social psychology”.

Related: A long time ago I blogged about the name preference effect – ie that people are more positively disposed towards things that sound like their name – so I might like science more because Scott and science start with the same two letters. A bunch of very careful studies confirmed this effect even after apparently controlling for everything. Now Uri Simonsohn says – too bad, it’s all spurious. This really bothers me because I remember specifically combing over these studies and finding them believable at the time. Yet another reminder that things are worse than I thought.

Wikipedia: List Of Games That Buddha Would Not Play

The lost medieval City of Benin in Nigeria had streetlights, great art, and was larger than many European capitals. It also boasted “the longest walls in the world”, beating the Great Wall of China. I’m confused why I never heard about this before – not in a “neocolonialist society covers up the greatness of Africa” sense, but in a “even the people complaining about how neocolonialist society covers up the greatness of Africa only ever talk about Zimbabwe and Kilwa which are both way less impressive” sense. Also, how did one small British expedition destroy earthworks longer than the Great Wall of China?

Some very complicated and potentially questionable attempts to ferret out all the different personality traits involved in religiosity tentatively conclude that it is directly related to moral concern and inversely related to analytic thinking, which are inversely related to one another.

Vox: You Can Finally Stop Feeling Guilty For Eating Quinoa. Apparently some people felt guilty because they thought that quinoa-eating Westerners were taking all the quinoa and then Peruvians were starving. But a new study suggests that the increased Western demand for quinoa has increased welfare throughout Peruvian quinoa-farming regions both for farmers and for non-farmers, presumably because the farmers’ increased wealth is trickling down to non-farmers.

Vox: The Most Important Foreign News Story This Week Was About Russian Tax Policy.

Did you know: when the British Empire abolished slavery, it paid 40% of the government’s total annual expenditure as compensation to slaveowners.

The prison phone system is a national disgrace. Predatory companies make deals with the government to get a monopoly on calls to and from specific prisons, then charge inmates trying to call their families rates that are orders of magnitude higher than normal. I have some patients with incarcerated family and they confirm that this is a big problem for them. The FCC has been trying to cap rates, but was recently thwarted by the courts. This seems to me like one of the clearest and most black-and-white political issues around.

Business scientists run a trial to compare promotion-by-merit with promotion-by-seniority and include random promotion as a control group. Now the results are in and random promotion does the best. Even weirder, the result seems to have been replicated. This kind of reminds me the old saying that “anyone who can be elected President shouldn’t be allowed to do the job”. [EDIT: Study uses potentially faulty computer model]

New study in Nature by leading climatologists says that the consensus is now that the global warming hiatus is real. And here are some blog posts (1, 2) explaining the result in more accessible language. Both emphasize this doesn’t mean that global warming has stopped or was never real, only that it seems to be slower now than it was before. Leading theory – complicated ocean cycles working in our favor now may work against us in the next few decades, and we should still be careful.

Thirty-five overweight people were asked to do the same amount of extra exercise. They differed wildly in how much weight they lost. Authors theorize a distinction between “compensators” and “noncompensators” with different metabolic reactions to exercise.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Gallup poll finds Clinton supporters are more likely to describe themselves as enthusiastic about their candidate than Sanders supporters. [EDIT: Maybe some extra complications. See here]

The largest area of dry land under sea level, by volume, is the Qattara Depression in Egypt. If it were ever connected to the Mediterranean, it would produce loads of hydroelectric power and form a giant lake in the middle of the Sahara. By my calculations it would also reverse one year worth of global-warming induced sea-level rise.

Ideal Conceal is a handgun which can be folded up to look exactly like an ordinary cell phone. Nothing can possibly go wrong. [But these guys think it’s a hoax]

Old studies: Australia’s experience in the 1990s proves gun control worked. New study: Australia’s experience in the 1990s proves gun control didn’t work. I am so past the point of trying to figure this out now.

Did you know: the computer game “Ecco the Dolphin” was partially based off the work of LSD-abusing delphinologist John Lilly, who thought reality was controlled by an alien conspiracy called E.C.C.O.

After a study a few months ago showing that toxoplasma didn’t produce behavioral changes in humans, a new study suggests toxoplasma is no more common in cat owners than anyone else. All of the cool toxoplasma theories are going out the window. [Edit: This is confusing]

Yasmin Nair: Suey Park and the Afterlife of Twitter. Firebrand Twitter activist Suey Park has reinvented herself as a speaker warning about the dangers of firebrand Twitter activism, now says that social justice is a “cult” and that “the violence I have experienced in SJW circles has been greater than that of ‘racist trolls'”. Nair questions the convenience of a pipeline between fame as a Twitter activist and fame as a person speaking out against Twitter activism. But part of me worries that the entire chain – Park engaging in activism, Park speaking out against activism, Nair writing about Park, and now me linking Nair – is part of the problem, in that it promotes paying attention to Twitter activism at all.

Higher amounts of dairy fat markers in the blood associated with less diabetes. Very reminiscent of past studies showing that whole milk drinkers are healthier than nonfat/lowfat drinkers. Unclear if this says something profound or just that milk is a healthier source of calories than a lot of the alternatives. Related: TIME: The Case Against Low-Fat Milk Is Stronger Than Ever.

Reason #6894019 not to mess with Finland.

Previously: a short conversation with someone can decrease prejudice. Later: no, sorry, that study turned out to be fraudulent. Now: okay, the study was fraudulent, but the conclusion was actually true.

Successful charter schools seem to do much better than public schools in educating the most disadvantaged minority children, but critics have scoffed that they must either be selectively admitting the best students or just “teaching to the test”. But one new study finds charter school success cannot be explained by selective admission, and a second finds commensurate success on non-test-related outcomes, including lower teenage pregnancy and lower incarceration rates for charter school students. Educational establishment vows to respond to findings by improving their own performance calling charter schooling racist a lot.

When Queen Elizabeth I wanted to claim the New World, she asked court mathematician/astronomer/historian/angel-summoner John Dee for scholarship relevant to the expansion. Dee hit the books and conveniently discovered that King Arthur had led a vast army to conquer America, Greenland, and the North Pole

Some changes in Italian penal law help us more accurately determine the time discount functions of criminals.

Police, emergency responders, and other professionals try to trace Internet users’ IP addresses to find out where they live. Untraceable IP addresses – a big chunk of the total – all show up as coming from the geographic middle of the United States, which happens to be on a random farm in Kansas. Here’s a look into the life of a random Kansas farmer who has no idea why everyone is after him.

Everything we knew about classical Chinese civilization came from attempts to reconstruct it after the Qin Emperor burnt all the books around 200 BC. Now for the first time archaeologists have found original texts from Confucius’ time, and they’re a lot less orderly than expected.

Study finds violent video games do not increase misogyny, as usual everyone ignores this, seizes on a single doubtful sub-subfinding out of context and reports that the study proves violent video games do increase misogyny. The only thing at all surprising about the whole process is that Science Of Us notices and complains about it.

New study finds Haidtian moral foundations aren’t stable, heritable, or predictive; Haidt says that’s because the study did a terrible job measuring them.

A team including Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, American billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, and scientist Stephen Hawking have announced a plan to build a fleet of interstellar (!!!!) probes. The idea is very clever and has at least partially overcome the obvious skepticism such a plan should warrant. But I can’t help thinking it’s another dead end like the moon landing – something that will make it into the history books but have no broader impact on human activity or the colonization of space. Billionaires are obviously allowed to spend their money on whatever cool stuff they want, and goodness knows this is better than another yacht, but my sympathies are still with the less glamorous projects of Musk, Bezos, and Branson.

The latest step in the sportification of the political process is the release of Decision 2016 Trading Cards.

Women With More Feminine Digit Ratio Have Higher Reproductive Success (p = 0.002) – mediated at least in part by longer reproductive lifespan. The effect is sufficiently strong that we should be really curious why evolution preserved the contrary set of genes – maybe they’re better for men?

The Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations collects apparently complimentary phrases to use in recommendation letters for people you secretly loathe. For example, “you would be lucky to get him to work for you”, “I recommend this man without qualifications”, “You won’t find many people like her”, “I cannot recommend this person too highly”, and “Nobody would be better than her”. The obvious review for this book is Moses Hadas’ “I have read this book and much like it”.

What happens when people from primitive tribes without mirrors who live in areas without clear water see their reflections for the first time? They freak out. [warning: includes scary picture]

A beautiful theory killed by an inelegant fact: sex offenders have no more testosterone than anyone else. Not in this study, but IIRC violent offenders do have more testosterone than others.

Vox: Everyone says the Libya intervention was a failure. They were wrong.

GiveDirectly will be starting large-scale tests of a universal basic income in Kenya.

RIP The 10,000 Year Explosion co-author and anthropology/evolution blogger Henry Harpending.

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1,393 Responses to Links 4/16: They Can’t Link Our Dick

  1. That mirror “experiment” sounds like it comes from the Three Christs of Ypsilanti school of trolling-as-experiment.

  2. Dana says:

    I could go either way on the question of whether video games make anyone think any certain way. I think it equally likely that misogynists are more drawn to GTA because they hate women and the game depicts women as, well, walking socks. (Trying to keep my language clean here.)

    However.

    It is readily apparent the good researchers at Ohio State don’t know any gamers, and neither does the blogger that summed up their work.

    What self-respecting GTA aficionado would limit himself to 25 minutes of play, one time?

    Give me a break.

    • Samuel Skinner says:

      Unfortunately adverse selection rears its head (lets blame Orochimaru Moloch); studies that pay people to play videos game all the way through are indistinguishable from, abusing department funds to play video games.

  3. On not being able to visualize or imagine any other sensory experience. I’ve linked to the metafilter discussion, but I recommend the article that inspired it.

    I’d have put the link here, but I doubt anyone would have seen it.

    • onyomi says:

      I feel like I developed a mild sort of aphantasia when I went through puberty. I still have the ability to visualize things in my mind, but I feel like it grew weaker and/or I had less of an urge to do so, somehow, as I transitioned to adulthood. Maybe the stereotype that children have vivid imaginations isn’t just about them having nothing better to do, but about a shift which goes on, at least for some people, towards a more “data-focused” mind (moving towards knowing, for example, what you did on Christmas 1997 not as a visceral somatic memory, but more in the same way you’d know, for example, Napoleon’s birthday).

      I’ve always been more of an aural processor than a visual processor, but that to me relates: it feels, at least to me, like the distance between narrated facts and data points is less than between visualized facts and data points, though that could be my own cognitive bias (though one also wants to distinguish between remembered visual stimuli of any kind–a memory of a sound, a smell, or a taste, as opposed to data about them: knowledge of the fact of having experienced a sound, a smell, or a taste).

      *Upon further reflection, I think there is a difference, for me, in the way I remember sound and visual input: I can and do recall aural input more frequently and vividly, I think. Like when I read the linked article, I can sort of understand what it must be like to be unable to call up a vivid mental image of a beach, it’s definitely weirder to imagine being unable to have memory of music: sometimes I wish I didn’t have this, due to “melodymania.”

    • Vox Imperatoris says:

      I can barely do this.

      I mean, I can sort of barely get a rough picture in my mind of what my mother or father looks like. But I can’t “hold it” there or look at it closely. It’s like the phenomenon (I can’t remember the name) when you’re looking through a telescope and there are some nebulae you can only see out the corner of your eye because there are more rods there. When you try to look right at it, it goes away.

      Or the most concrete example I can think of is doing math in my head. Say 32 x 8. I can sort of visualize, as if written on paper,

      32
      x8
      __

      And then imagine going through all the steps as I would on paper to get

      32
      x8
      __
      16
      240
      ___
      256

      But it’s really difficult to hold all of that in my head at once as a mental image. Which is why people write these things down (right?).

      While this is a kind of “inner sight”, it’s almost completely unlike seeing. It has no location in my visual field, no real spatiality. It’s not like a heads-up-display sitting in front of my eyes.

      And while I can “visualize” colors in a sense, e.g. “think of a woman with green eyes and red lips”, I can’t really, like, see the colors. It’s hard to describe.

      When I’m reading a novel or something, I can sort of roughly visualize a scene, but it’s vague and incredibly indistinct. Nothing has any detail. It’s not like a photograph where you can zoom in and look at the little details. For instance, I’m reading (or listening to the audiobook) of The Diamond Age. But do I have any kind of clear mental image of the facial features of any of the characters? Not at all.

      I get the impression that most other people don’t have some kind of photographic ability to visualize things, either. But maybe I’m wrong.

      • Eltargrim says:

        When I’m reading a novel or something, I can sort of roughly visualize a scene, but it’s vague and incredibly indistinct. Nothing has any detail. It’s not like a photograph where you can zoom in and look at the little details. For instance, I’m reading (or listening to the audiobook) of The Diamond Age. But do I have any kind of clear mental image of the facial features of any of the characters? Not at all.

        I’d just like to comment on this part specifically, because I can do everything you said you can’t, but I can’t do this. I take books not as an invitation to visualize a rich environment, but (enjoyable) statements of fact. For those familiar with Terry Prachett’s Thud!, early on there’s a sequence where Vimes and Angua rush through a series of dwarf tunnels. It’s taken me four separate readings of Thud! over many years to build a mental visual picture of what’s actually going on.

        Math, fine. Parents and acquaintances, fine (though memories will fade). Picturing what’s happening in books? That takes actual effort.

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          Well, I mean it’s hard to picture what’s happening if it isn’t described very clearly or is very complex. Like trying to read a patent or something without looking at the diagrams:

          With reference to the drawings and, in particular, with reference to FIGS 1-3, the electrical connector comprises a receptacle body, indicated generally at 10, fabricated as an integral molding of an insulative material, preferably a glass-filled polyester material. The body is defined by a front wall 12, a rear wall 14, a pair of end walls 16, a top wall 18, and a bottom wall 20. A plurality of spaced apertures or passageways 22 are provided in the body, extending in the body through the top wall, to and through the bottom wall of the body, as most clearly shown in FIG. 3. A metal shell 23, preferably fabricated of steel, encompasses the upper portion of the body.

          As depicted in FIG. 3, the passageways are oriented in the body to form two parallel rows of spaced passageways. The rows, as further shown in FIG. 2, are staggered with respect to each other. With further reference to FIG. 3, the two rows of passageways are separated by a central wall 24 of the receptacle body. A projecting shoulder 26 is formed on each of the sides 28, 29, of the central wall so as to project into each of the passageways.

          That’s the first thing I could find off the internet. And that just goes in one ear and out the other, unless perhaps I thought about it very carefully.

          But, for instance, there’s a scene in The Diamond Age where Lord Finkle-McGraw is talking to Mrs. Hackworth in a garden outside, while three children play around, finding a hidden passage in the garden wall.

          I had a vague mental perspective of a house on the right, the two adults standing somewhere on the left near the perspective of the viewer, and the children running around further afield. The picture didn’t include, like, the colors of all their clothes or what shape everyone’s nose was or what the house looked like or what was in the garden or how many feet away the wall was from the house.

          It’s not that these details were there, but I didn’t focus on them. They just weren’t there. Which is what makes it completely different in kind from, say, a photograph.

          Are you saying you don’t get such pictures at all?

          Or what if I tell you: imagine a desk in a white room with a little cube sitting on top of it. Do you get some kind of mental picture from that?

          • Eltargrim says:

            I had a vague mental perspective of a house on the right, the two adults standing somewhere on the left near the perspective of the viewer, and the children running around further afield. The picture didn’t include, like, the colors of all their clothes or what shape everyone’s nose was or what the house looked like or what was in the garden or how many feet away the wall was from the house.

            I think this is a good description of how my reading usually goes. It doesn’t help that I’ll easily gloss over additional details even when they are provided (e.g. George R.R. Martin’s feast descriptions). I realize now that I was unclear in my original post; I meant to say that while I can form clear images of my parents, or visualize mental math, I don’t generate clear visuals from reading unless I’m actively trying.

            When considering your exercise, I picture a featureless expanse with a fairly detailed wooden desk (that is vaguely familiar) with a non-descript fist-sized cube. The problem is that I’m now thinking about making visuals from reading. When I’m reading fiction, it’s by default a very non-visual experience.

            I spoke about this briefly to my partner, and she compared the process to “fan-casting”, where you have a strong idea of what a character would look like. In my mind, characters are vague blobs of traits and personality.

        • phisheep says:

          I think it might be possible to test for this using fiction, because of an odd experience I nearly always get when reading Lee Child books (and nearly never with, say, Ed McBain or Dick Francis).

          Child uses a lot of direction-words – north/south, left/right and so on. And these things only fit together in one way to make up an image of what is going on and a mental map of the story. And nearly always, partway through the story, I have to flip all my mental images and my mental map because some direction just doesn’t fit. It’s really uncomfortable to have to do that, so I’ve tried to track down what was causing it. Turns out it is the same thing every time, it is the driving on the left versus driving on the right difference, and the associated difference in driver’s-side versus passenger-side.

          Most starkly, I visualised the opening scene of “The Hard Way” back to front because of this – which threw off my perception of the whole first half of the book. No trouble at all with the second half which is set in my native UK.

          I had a similarly jarring experience playing the Wii version of Twilight Princess – that’s the version that was flipped left-to-right in order to make Link right-handed, which had the side-effect of making the sun rise in the West and set in the East. I had dreadful trouble navigating in that game but also made the surprising discovery that I unconsciously use the sun for navigating in the real world all the time.

    • Zorgon says:

      A few years ago I lost the ability to visualise data structures and algorithmic forms after a period of severe burnout (in the lead-in to the beginning of a very severe fatigue condition). This had been a major bonus in my career as a programmer, unsurprisingly, and I tried very hard but unsuccessfully to regain it when I began to recover.

      So far, I’ve not been able to restore that capability; I am forced to plan and architect much more extensively since I can no longer just hold the whole thing in my head and access it at will. In truth I think it’s made me a better coder overall; certainly more careful and with a better understanding of systems architecture.

    • I have limited ability to visualize– it’s work and the results are vague, fragile, and only take up a small part of my visual field.

      My visual memory isn’t vivid at all, but my memory for colors is pretty good. Maybe it’s something like blindsight? I can tell what matches what without having a vivid ability to visualize.

      My ability to construct tastes is good enough that I can have fun and get decent results with improvised cooking.

      As for intermittent ability to visualize, I remember playing a board game which involved setting up short algorithms for moving robots. I was struggling with it but managing to a limited extent. When I got an upset stomach, my ability to visualize short sequences of turns evaporated completely.

  4. It seems to me that you can’t control for confounding variables unless you understand the situation, and there’s no way to guarantee that you understand the situation.

    Maybe it’s one of those big data things– the more you know, the more likely you are to run across evidence in the right direction, but I’m feeling very tentative about this.

  5. onyomi says:

    Was reading about the Foxconn suicides, a story presented in the press as “American electronics giants (Apple, etc.) team up with Taiwanese manufacturing firm to take cruel advantage of poor mainland Chinese workers, making them work under conditions so alienating and dehumanizing that they started committing suicide at an alarming rate.”

    But according to Wikipedia, China at large has one of the highest suicide rates–20 in 100,000, and in the worst year for Foxconn suicides, only 14 of 900,000 employees committed suicide. Didn’t this actually make it like the happiest place in China?

    • dndnrsn says:

      Immediate thought: FoxConn employees who have committed suicide, going by Wiki, are almost exclusively late teens/early 20s, and more male than female.

      The Wiki page for “Suicide in China” suggests that suicide in China is 75% female (which is unusual – generally male suicides outnumber female) and 75% rural.

      So, the FoxConn rate might be high for men in an urban setting.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        In the West women attempt suicide at a higher rate than men, but have a very low rate of completion because they OD on pills. The source that wikipedia cites for the high rates of rural and female suicides implies that the cause is easy access to pesticide. Similarly, female medical workers in the West have high rates of completion, apparently because they know which poisons will kill them.

        Back to Foxconn, you mentioned age but did not mention that younger people have much lower rates of suicide than older people, the opposite of what most people believe, because the suicides of older people are drowned out by other causes.

        It is very difficult to trust any of the statistics, but I think Onyomi is correct that Foxconn had a low rate of suicide, even after correcting for demographics.

        • dndnrsn says:

          With regards to age, you’re absolutely correct that the rate is higher among older people. Numbers are higher among the younger, though, is how I understand it – just because of larger numbers of younger people.

          With regards to the rural pesticide connection, I’d read about that in India – but the male suicide rate in India is higher than the female – although still less of a gap than the norm worldwide.

          • SJ says:

            In the United States, per the CDC’s “Fatal Injury Statistics”, the total number of suicides for the year 2014 break down as follows:

            age 0-19 2262 (2.75 per 100k)
            age 20-29 6528 (14.54 per 100k)
            age 30-39 6474 (15.62 per 100k)
            age 40-49 7630 (18.39 per 100k)
            age 50-59 8955 (20.31 per 100k)
            age 60-69 5533 (16.33 per 100k)
            age 70-79 3095 (16.29 per 100k)
            age 80+ 2292 (19.22 per 100k)

            The overall numbers and rates-per-100k seem have increased in the past 5 years, but the overall trend hasn’t changed much.

            Outside of the United States, this might be right:
            With regards to age, you’re absolutely correct that the rate is higher among older people. Numbers are higher among the younger, though, is how I understand it – just because of larger numbers of younger people.

            But inside the United States, that doesn’t work unless you count ages 50-59 as your break-point for “young”

            Admittedly, we’re discussing “China” and the “The West”. So I don’t know which region you were talking about.

            But the numbers for the U.S. are heavily weighted towards ages above the age of 40. (And, as was mentioned above, males. Females are something like 25% of all successful suicides in the U.S.)

    • Or it is at least the place in China with the best safety nets

      • onyomi says:

        Well, but they did that in response to the negative press about how all their workers were committing suicide. The nets don’t by themselves prove they had an unusually bad suicide problem; only that they had a bad press about suicide problem. The question is: was that press justified in the first place, or were the workers just committing suicide at the same or even a lower rate than other Chinese people?

        I have a suspicion it may be a case of people holding private corporations to much, much higher standards than they would anyone else. With 900,000 people living and working at their factories, these are essentially corporate villages. If 14 people in a town of 900,000 committed suicide one year, especially in a country where the usual rate is 14ish per 100,000, no one would report on it, except perhaps to say “why are the residents of this town happier than elsewhere”?

        But when it’s a “sweatshop” run by scary multinational corporations, then, of course, the suicide story fits into preexisting biases.

        (Note, I haven’t done that much research into it, and I’m not saying Foxconn was necessarily a delightful place to work; I could certainly believe an argument that though rural migrants were tempted to move there for the higher pay, nonetheless many ended up unhappier than they might have been working outdoors with their families close by; question is, were they unusually unhappy in a way we could blame the company for? Numbers don’t seem to back that up).

        This case is also interesting, of course, because it seems highly analogous to the question of whether the industrial revolution actually made people more miserable or better off (the common narrative being that it made people better off on paper but more alienated/unhappy, at least in the short term).

        • I was trying, and failed, to make a pun about social safety nets vs actual safety nets. Welp, back to lurking for me.

          • onyomi says:

            I got the joke! I just thought it might also have been a way of saying “well, of course their rate is lower–they catch you when you try.”

          • But thank you for bringing it up, even as an an-cap, I still auto-matched the foxconn suicide stuff to big bad corporations in china (even with the idea in my head that it might suck but it was better than those people’s alternatives). I didn’t think to ask “compared to what?” when I read those stories back when Foxconn stories hit the news.

          • onyomi says:

            As a libertarian, I expect to see blatant anti-capitalist and anti-corporate bias all over the place, but this particular case just seems so egregious it makes me wonder if I’m not missing something. I mean, this was a big scandal, both in China and globally, and yet nobody bothered to compare the number of suicides at this company to the population at large? Are we really just that bad?

            I mean, I have to admit that I, too, just assumed the rate had to be much higher than average or else it wouldn’t have been a story; so maybe I’m party of the problem?

          • Cauê says:

            I think this actually makes it worse, but this was known to at least some media outlets from the beginning. I remember reading it, probably on The Economist (e.g.), and being frustrated that even the few who mentioned this didn’t give it the weight it deserved.

        • Randy M says:

          It’s funny, I heard the Fox conn story from inside the industry (sort of) and believed it, figuring that rural China maybe so bad that they take a job that drives them to desperation or something, without making the logical question about what that implies about the base rates (if even true at all, of course).

        • Glen Raphael says:

          But when it’s a “sweatshop” run by scary multinational corporations

          I always have to pipe up here to mention that “sweatshop” does not literally describe electronics assembly. Most of that sort of work is done in rooms which are (at great expense) kept cool, dry, well-lit and dust-free. This is not so much for the benefit of the workers as for the benefit of the product – even very small amounts of dust, moisture or temperature variation can cause the final product to not work.

          (I’ve worked at a factory in Guangdong)

          • onyomi says:

            I realize “sweatshop” is figurative. It just means “place with bad working conditions run by first world companies in the third world.” It makes sense that the place would need to be kept cool for the sake of the electronics, but the fact that it wouldn’t otherwise be air-conditioned doesn’t, in itself, prove to me that Foxconn is/was an especially uncaring employer.

            Most blue collar work in China, whether for foreign or Chinese bosses, is not done in climate controlled conditions (it’s not uncommon for even “middle class” Chinese go to school, for example, in the dead of winter to sit in unheated classrooms bundled in heavy parkas).

            In other words, it’s the same problem: working at Foxconn doesn’t seem like a pleasant job to an American office worker, but is it any worse than working an equivalent job for a Chinese employer or being self-employed in rural China?

            But since you’ve had the experience of actually working in a factory in Guangdong, maybe you can tell us more about the working conditions and how they compared to any non-foreign owned options the workers might have had.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            But since you’ve had the experience of actually working in a factory in Guangdong, maybe you can tell us more about the working conditions and how they compared to any non-foreign owned options the workers might have had.

            The factory floor looks like this.

            The most labor-intensive part of electronics assembly – the part that involves the most workers – involves carefully putting lots of little pieces together in a precise order on an assembly line. This is done almost exclusively by young women ages 16-20. These women come from poor farming villages in northern China where their family can barely afford to keep them fed and their local prospects are dire. The factory provides room and board and a very small salary and work experience and escape; after a few years they can get a job at another company that pays more for more experienced workers. (Or go off and get married, or do something else.) It’s transitional employment for young people, kind of like working for McDonalds would be here – nobody works at the same assembly line until retirement, but they do it for a few years until a better option comes along.

            The air conditioning is a HUGE deal – Guangdong in the summer is miserably hot and muggy and yes, good air conditioning outside of the factory is rare – if you’re going to be sitting anywhere working, the factory floor is where you want to be doing it.

            To my western eyes it seemed like a pretty good gig apart from than the low salary. I’d rather be doing assembly work than, say, working a fryer at McDonalds. You get to sit in one place and achieve flow – learn a task and get to do it really really well. Then a week later there’s another product and a new task to learn and master.

            One big annoyance for the workers is lining up to go through metal detectors at the end of a shift. Workers take off their shoes and slide them down a little side ramp as they walk through. Imagine going through airport security twice a day every day you work! This is necessary because the components they work with are extremely valuable – without the search, a worker might double their salary by stealing the occasional CPU chip.

            The regular-employee bathroom was normal by local standards but horrific by ours – a hole-in-the-floor basin flushed by dumping some water in via a bucket carried from a nearby sink.

            In another part of the factory there were a few machinists (young men) creating tooling to, say, make plastic casing molds. They operated heavy machinery that threw sparks. Safety goggles were available but the goggles are hot and uncomfortable so workers mostly chose not to use them. Here in the US some combination of OSHA and private insurance inspectors would be hectoring the firm to make sure people wear goggles, but life is cheaper in Guangdong.

            (I have direct experience with two firms based in southern china: GSL (Group Sense Limited) and IDT (Integrated Display Technologies) and only second- or third-hand data about others. My data is about 15 years old.)

          • onyomi says:

            Well, so it’s basically as I thought and, in many ways, better than other jobs in Guangdong, where, as you say, AC is a very big deal.

            And I think it reveals something else about our biases about jobs: there is such a thing as a job which is a good job for an unmarried person ages 16-20 which would not be a good job for someone aged 45 with a spouse and three kids. As we tend to erroneously conceive of income brackets in static terms, we tend to think about jobs as if they were permanent.

            About the “mostly women” thing–I recall reading a story about life for local young men in one such town; apparently it is extremely hard to get a job but extremely easy to find a girlfriend–sometimes two or three.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            I’m pretty sure the hiring practices were explicitly sex and age based. There is a stereotype that young women have small fingers and good eyesight and can be patient and careful in a job that requires all those attributes. There’s also the fact that farming in a Chinese village requires physical strength; young men are seen as more valuable staying home working on the family farm whereas young women have a comparative advantage going off to do something else.

            I should have mentioned that the work hours can be very long – a 12-hour workday is not uncommon.

            If you think in terms of “jobs suitable for a particular stage of life” an obvious comparison is joining the army. When we send our 17-year-old boys off to serve in the military we expect they might have to sleep many-to-a-room in crowded barracks, work long hours doing MUCH harder labor, suffer in sweltering heat and use smelly latrines…but we think it’s okay because it’s only for a few years and “builds character” and has various other benefits. So what, if anything, makes this different from that?

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Glen Raphael
            The regular-employee bathroom was normal by local standards but horrific by ours – a hole-in-the-floor basin flushed by dumping some water in via a bucket carried from a nearby sink.

            Just how dirty/smelly was this bathroom, in fact? From a little travel some years ago, I visualized a shiny molded non-porous floor at a good angle, and enough water to keep the floor cleaner than a current US unisex.

            Ie, a room designed to be cleanable — not cluttered with a western style commode of Baroque concaves and convexes in a corner.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            Just how dirty/smelly was this bathroom, in fact?

            The smell comes partly from mildew – the (flat, not well-sloped) floor is always wet when you arrive from having water dumped on it – and partly from the fact that in China the kind of places that have this sort of toilet often have a behavioral norm that says used toilet paper should get dumped in a wastebasket near the toilet rather than flushed down the drain.

            Here’s a video about Chinese squat toilets that features the kind I’m thinking of (oval, flat with the floor, a rectangle of ceramic ridges on either side).

            It smelled pretty bad, though not worse than, say, your average festival porta-potty. I’m sure the locals get used to it. Or were already used to it since it’s the same as you’d see in most of rural china.

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            Ie, a room designed to be cleanable — not cluttered with a western style commode of Baroque concaves and convexes in a corner.

            Well, this is perhaps the most poetic description of a bathroom I am going to hear.

    • Psmith says:

      I am pretty sure I looked this up back around 2009-10 when the story was getting a lot of play and came to this exact conclusion.

      • onyomi says:

        Assuming the Foxconn story is as unfounded as it seems, though I do blame anti-capitalist, anti-“sweat shop”-type bias to some extent, I think there may be another factor at work here: inability of human intuition to scale. A city of 900,000 people doesn’t seem like a single “unit,” but a factory town where 900,000 all work for the same company somehow kind of does. But we don’t really have good intuitions about groups of 900,000 (or groups a good deal smaller than that either, most likely).

        At my high school there was at least one suicide during the four years I was there. This was seen as tragic, but not wildly unusual. My high school had about 1,500 students. So for my time there, that was a rate of .25 suicides per year (very anecdotal with narrow range, I know–but okay, I think, for a ballpark figure). If we scaled my high school up to Foxconn size that would mean 150 suicides a year.

        A high school which has 1-3 suicides a decade probably would not be seen as having a severe problem. But a company which had 150 suicides a year would probably be described as experiencing an “epidemic,” even if the company had 1 million employees.

        Dealing with China often causes failure of intuition with respect to numbers, actually. The city of Suzhou where I lived for a while, for example, is considered a “mid-size city” in China with a population of 4 million in the urban center and 8 million when you include its suburbs. In other words, it’s about the size of Chicago, but you actually have to take a train to Shanghai (the “big” city in the area) to find an airport.

        • Samuel Skinner says:

          I read a book about smartphones that covered the case. Foxconn is about as bad as most other companies in China/ slightly better- hours are long, work is dangerous, monotous and mind-numbing and can be unhealthy.

          None of those were the problem. The issue mentioned (at least in one case by a survivor) was that they came to the facility, did their work and then didn’t receive any pay. Attempting to find out where their money is was unsuccessful; management ignored them, they had no one else to turn to due to the amount of time they spend working, the movement of room mates and lack of connection to the local community and so they were pretty much screwed.

          Tldr; the conditions were bad but some of the suicides were caused by people slipping through the cracks which is very easy in a facility that big.

          • Anonymous says:

            Wow, a little compassion for workers on passover. Thanks, Samuel.

            Here’s a look at Trump’s employee dormitories in Dubai:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBI0jTyZ2xw&feature=youtu.be

          • onyomi says:

            I’ve seen lots of migrant laborer dormitories. These are nice. And for third world blue collar workers $231/mo. is a lot.

            The interviewer’s attitude is actually highly elitist. Oh my god, you have to share a bathroom and kitchen! How disgusting! How can you go on??

            And, of course, he has such a clear agenda that the editing of the super short clip will be done to make it look as awful as possible. I could probably make my college dorm room look like a third world hellhole with a good film crew and some creative narration.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            I don’t generally agree with arguments of the form “these workers’ conditions may be bad, but they’re better than the alternatives by *economics*”, but the living conditions in that video didn’t look very bad at all (although temperature may be a factor, lack of air conditioning is much more important in a 40 degree heat).

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            @onyomi, your dorm crew might feature a masturbating ted cruz… which is worse than a third world country.

          • onyomi says:

            Right now I’m kind of wishing I did suffer aphantasia!

    • BBA says:

      The contrast the authors are trying to draw, perhaps implicitly, is between the comfortable upper middle class Westerners who buy iPhones and the Foxconn employees who make them. That there are other people in China who are even worse off is beside the point.

  6. Garr says:

    This comments-section is more depressing than walking down Court Street in Brooklyn in the rain — 1,100 comments so far, and it’s doubtful anyone would respond to a question and even if anyone did the one who asked would never find the response. On some websites you’re lost in the crowd; on others you’re a dirty Jew whose statements are contaminated from inception; on others you don’t have the expert knowledge and command of jargon to phrase questions correctly; on others there are three essays per day published so that even though there are only ten comments per essay it’s pointless to comment because by the time you look for a response the discussion’s over. The internet has only made things lonelier and more frustrating for the lonely and frustrated. I suspect that the people who converse in comments-sections already know each other in real space and converse there. How many outsiders spend 3 hours composing an essay that is lost forever in the comments section of a blog? I’ll bet a million hours have been lost this way. Maybe a billion. It’s just another way to flush creative energy down the toilet.

    • Hlynkacg says:

      What spawned this?

      If you have a question, why don’t you test your hypothesis by asking it?

    • Vox Imperatoris says:

      I don’t know anybody else here in real life.

      Also, the box in the top right lets you know when new comments have been posted.

      Updates are not too frequent, so people follow the latest one or two.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I assure you I know almost none of the people here in realspace. In fact, I may know none in realspace, though I know some from other forums.

      > It’s just another way to flush creative energy down the toilet.

      Yeah, but what else is there to do with it?

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Sometimes that happens here, and it does suck. But for the most part SSC commentariat is pretty good at not leaving things hanging. As long as you’re not posting during a flame war there’s a solid chance that you’ll get someone responding.

      Also ditto on not knowing anyone here IRL. That said a lot of the original Less Wrong crew, especially from Berkeley, do know one another.

    • onyomi says:

      I don’t know anyone else here in real life. At least, I don’t think I do. I do, however, know a couple people IRL who like Eliezer and LW-adjacent stuff, so it’s conceivable (and always slightly weird to imagine) that I may know some of the other posters and not know I know them, so to speak. But for the most part, I only know people here by their handles (people who use their real names aside).

      I also don’t see what makes you think a question would go unanswered. Most people looking for advice seem to get it, so far as I can tell.

      As for flushing creative energy down the toilet–I definitely procrastinate a lot by reading and commenting here, but I don’t think I’d be composing new operas in my spare time if I weren’t. Everyone needs a certain amount of down time, and this is probably more productive than Minecraft or whatever. Plus, I actually learn new things here sometimes, and refine my ideas on things/get better at articulating them. Sometimes even change my mind.

    • Matt C says:

      SSC is a pretty busy place, easy to feel lost in the crowd. Maybe the SSC subreddit would be a better online group for you. It’s got fewer people and a different pace. https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/

      Yeah, the internet can aggravate loneliness and alienation, especially if you’re trying to use it as your main social outlet. I know this works for some people, but I’d do better forcing myself to get out of the house.

      I don’t know any SSC people in real life, though I also recognize several people from other places on the internet.

      • I think there is only one regular poster here who I know that I knew before I started reading SSC, plus one more person who occasionally posts. But I’ve hosted two SSC meetups so have probably met a number of people who post here, although Scott’s the only one I’m sure of.

    • Anonymous says:

      As someone who has walked on Court St several times, I don’t see any reason to think it’s notably more depressing than any other street.

  7. SJ says:

    Random question:

    did the “lifestyle traits associated with religiosity” study use a similar definition as the definition of “religion” implied here?

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/04/08/a-theory-of-religion/

  8. Jaskologist says:

    A voxsplainer near and dear to SSC hearts:

    The smug style in American liberalism

    Suffice it to say, by the 1990s the better part of the working class wanted nothing to do with the word liberal. What remained of the American progressive elite was left to puzzle: What happened to our coalition?
    Why did they abandon us?

    What’s the matter with Kansas?

    The smug style arose to answer these questions. It provided an answer so simple and so emotionally satisfying that its success was perhaps inevitable: the theory that conservatism, and particularly the kind embraced by those out there in the country, was not a political ideology at all.

    The trouble is that stupid hicks don’t know what’s good for them. They’re getting conned by right-wingers and tent revivalists until they believe all the lies that’ve made them so wrong. They don’t know any better. That’s why they’re voting against their own self-interest.

    • Nornagest says:

      On point, mostly. Would be a stronger article without the occasional dark hints about who the real enemy is: malicious oligarchical puppet-masters are as much a part of this narrative as dumb hicks are, and you can’t really have the one without the other. But I suppose it wouldn’t be a Vox article without them.

      • Hlynkacg says:

        Agreed on all points

      • BBA says:

        who the real enemy is: malicious oligarchical puppet-masters

        Huh. I often read in Vox (and lots of other places, not just from liberals) about how wonderful free trade is, how industrializing the Third World is bringing them out of crippling poverty, how to stay relevant Americans need to retrain themselves, learn to code, move to where the jobs are, like that’s an easy cure that can work for everyone…

        I have met the enemy and he is us.

        • Nornagest says:

          That strikes me as more of an Atlantic perspective, and I’m actually somewhat sympathetic to it (with caveats). I associate Vox with a kind of soft-protectionist attitude, but one where all the emphasis is placed on how industry (led by said oligarchs) exploits third-world workers with e.g. low wages and dangerous working conditions. Domestic jobs are more of a footnote, although automation seems to be picking up steam as a topic.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          I’m just going to assume there’s no consensus on Vox regarding that, because on the one side, I have seen a few articles like you claim, but also plenty regarding the evil elites.

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          Once again, it would be useful to make the distinction between liberals and leftists.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Good article, although it could have afforded to hit the points about the collapse of organized labor and smugness-as-classism a bit harder.

      Especially if you’re from a blue-collar background yourself the use of class markers is really very blatant. It would be an interesting exercise to “fnord” a typical piece about, say, the Trump campaign and see what percentage of the wordcount was spent on admonishing the working class. In a way it actually gets worse with criticism of conservative intellectuals: you actually hear people saying things like “Cornell isn’t a real Ivy” and the like that wouldn’t sound out of place in a yacht club.

      I’m far from the first one to point this out but the way the word ‘privilege’ has changed in meaning is very telling. People who are privileged, in the old sense of being born into affluent and influential families, are largely the same ones pushing for the lower classes to “check their privilege” regularly.

      • Protagoras says:

        I have never actually heard a person saying “Cornell isn’t a real Ivy” or anything like it. As usual, the description of “smug liberals” doesn’t resemble any liberals I’ve actually met (and I know many, including some who even went to Ivies).

        • suntzuanime says:

          Usually goes without saying.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          The people I know who went to Cornell are hyper-liberal, so I’m also surprised at some attempt to lower their status.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:
        • Anonymous says:

          I’ve heard it, heck I might have even said it at one point or another. But I don’t see what it has to do conservative intellectuals or ideology or even class really. The context I associate it with is early twenty-something status dick-waiving. E.g. “John got into Cornell? Pfft, that’s not even a real Ivy.”

    • Bugmaster says:

      The article heavily implies that the main (or, perhaps, only) problem with the “Right Facts” (such as “Republicans have smaller brains” or whatever) is that liberals have embraced them as shibboleths to use against conservatives. If this is true, then, logically speaking, we should either completely reject facts altogether in political discussions; or perhaps strive to believe in up to 50% of facts from our ideological opponents.

      I, on the other hand, am of the opinion that facts possess some other quality that makes them “Right” or “Wrong”. I even have a guess as to what that quality might be…

      • Nornagest says:

        I think I’d actually expect any “fact” that gets picked up as a shibboleth to be well under 50% likely to be true, because the easier it is to argue for something without getting tribal sentiment involved, the less useful it becomes as a signal of that tribal sentiment. We’d only expect to see 50/50 in the case of uncorrelated binary choices, which most of the article’s Right Facts aren’t; even X > Y type stuff like “Republicans have smaller brains” is better modeled as a ternary between X>Y/Y>X/equal or irrelevant.

        • Hlynkacg says:

          More to the point…

          Uncontroversial facts are useless as shibboleth’s because everybody agrees on them. The whole point of a shibboleth is that it helps distinguish one group from another.

      • Jaskologist says:

        He hints later on that maybe those Right Facts aren’t so true after all

        Nothing is more confounding to the smug style than the fact that the average Republican is better educated and has a higher IQ than the average Democrat. That for every overpowered study finding superior liberal open-mindedness and intellect and knowledge, there is one to suggest that Republicans have the better of these qualities.

        Me, I despair of any study telling me anything accurate these days.

        • Bugmaster says:

          That’s pretty much the same as saying, “human nature is unknowable”. In the past, such statements have been applied to life (turned out to be knowable), the motion of the stars (knowable; also, not all of them are stars), lightning (knowable), and lots of other things. Mystery has a poor performance record.

          • No, it’s the same as saying that scientific studies of psychology are very unreliable these days.

          • Virbie says:

            I don’t think you understand his comment correctly. In the context of the conversation in the last few posts of the amount of flaws found across psychology studies, I doubt it’s a “human behavior is majestic and mysterious and beyond our comprehension”, as opposed to just “beware of citing studies on things like intelligence with such confidence”

      • JDG1980 says:

        The article heavily implies that the main (or, perhaps, only) problem with the “Right Facts” (such as “Republicans have smaller brains” or whatever) is that liberals have embraced them as shibboleths to use against conservatives. If this is true, then, logically speaking, we should either completely reject facts altogether in political discussions; or perhaps strive to believe in up to 50% of facts from our ideological opponents.

        I, on the other hand, am of the opinion that facts possess some other quality that makes them “Right” or “Wrong”. I even have a guess as to what that quality might be…

        Many political disagreements are about values, not facts. Even if everyone agreed on the underlying empirical reality, they would still choose to respond to that reality in different ways.

        For example, if a policy makes your countrymen on average worse off but the world as a whole better off, whether you support that policy will depend on whether you’re a nationalist or a cosmopolitan. If a policy slightly reduces GDP but also substantially reduces inequality, whether you support that policy will depend on whether you place a higher value on equality or on GDP maximization. Of course, in actual politics, people often pretend that no trade-offs are needed, and this is where you get into people fudging the facts to support their political views. But even if they didn’t do that, the underlying disagreements would persist, because they’re based on different utility functions.

    • It’s an interesting article, but I don’t see any evidence that the author has considered the possibility that liberalism (in his sense) might be wrong, that the policies that they think help might hurt. He is concerned that the liberals haven’t sat down to dinner with people on food stamps. Does he worry that they haven’t sat down to dinner, or had a civil conversation, with people who believe that the minimum wage hurts poor people? Don’t realize that there are intelligent, educated, decent people who disagree with them–and him?

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        Does he worry that they haven’t sat down to dinner, or had a civil conversation, with people who believe that the minimum wage hurts poor people? Don’t realize that there are intelligent, educated, decent people who disagree with them–and him?

        Judging by this other article of his, he does, but he’s not quite ready to accept that he might be wrong.

        • BBA says:

          You can criticize the left without joining the right, you know. Otherwise Freddie deBoer is somehow a conservative (which some have actually accused him of). Speaking of whom…

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Well, obviously, but what I mean is not about what his views are, but rather how he approaches the views of the guys he interacts with.

          • BBA says:

            That article is about an MRA, though. Most of us liberals hold MRAs to be utterly contemptible and devoid of any merit, on the level of child rapists and people who speak in the theater. It’s a wonder he was willing to sit down with him at all.

            And no, not all conservatives are treated with the same level of contempt. Megan McArdle is friends with much of the Vox crowd, for one.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Well, first of all, rusrs? Second, again, it’s not about how he treated the individual, in fact, I’d say he did quite fine, save for the bargain bin cold reading. It’s about how, every time he might draw a parallel between the beliefs of his interlocutors and one of his own (or his ingroups), he immediately backtracks “except they’re obviously wrong, and we’re obviously correct”.

          • BBA says:

            Dead serious. For liberals who’ve heard of MRAs, the immediate mental association is with Elliot Rodger – hell, the article even starts out talking about Rodger (and the Ants) before even saying it’s about the author’s meeting with an MRA. And if you’re dealing with a tiny movement that’s vehemently opposed to one of your core ideals, doesn’t have much in the range of positive accomplishments, but did produce a mass shooting, you’re going to be predisposed to dismiss pretty much everything they say out of hand.

            It’s like talking about communism around here – it inevitably leads to the gulag, so you have to denounce anything resembling it at every turn, no matter how nice and reasonable Dr. Chomsky sounded at dinner.

            My point: MRAs are a tiny fringe within the right, and refusing to engage with them is not a sign of general refusal to engage with ideas outside the left-wing bubble.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Oh, you mean it in the generally expected reaction! OK then, makes sense.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Except that once you’ve come up with one small group which you can refuse to engage with, it’s tempting to stick as many people as you can in that group just so you can dismiss them. Which has indeed happened with MRAs; the ants aren’t, in general, MRAs, but often get lumped in there. (for that matter, the MRAs aren’t monolithic; there’s a difference between the MGTOWs and the bitter divorcees, for instance)

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            “And if you’re dealing with a tiny movement that’s vehemently opposed to one of your core ideals, doesn’t have much in the range of positive accomplishments, but did produce a mass shooting, you’re going to be predisposed to dismiss pretty much everything they say out of hand.”

            I’m pretty sure Elliot Rogers isn’t a MRA. He was a member of PUAHate. Hating Pick Up Artists has nothing to do with MRAs.

          • BBA says:

            To make a gratuitous Python reference: the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea may disagree on almost everything and hate each other’s guts, but the Romans don’t care.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            MRA is a political movement. Anti-pickup artists are people who don’t like pickup artists. They have as much in common as the Communist Party has to people opposed to modern art.

          • Artificirius says:

            Everyone who wrongthinks is one of Them?

          • Zorgon says:

            I’m pretty sure Elliot Rogers isn’t a MRA. He was a member of PUAHate. Hating Pick Up Artists has nothing to do with MRAs.

            Since when did that matter an ounce?

            The guy who killed two women and four men is an MRA via the transitive property of the SJWs saying so over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

          • BBA says:

            Look, these are all groups of men who hate women. If you can’t see how, from a feminist perspective, they all appear to be at least adjacent to each other (if not facets of a single big phenomenon), I’m really not sure how to explain it to you.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            I’m not sure how people who hate pickup artists translates into people who hate women. I’m pretty sure there are feminists who hate pickup artists for being demeaning to women.

          • suntzuanime says:

            They’re all enemies of feminism, so outgroup homogeneity bias alone suffices. Just because something’s understandable doesn’t make it right, of course, but it who’s saying it is? That feminism is insane and awful should not be a surprising perspective around here.

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          Wait, that’s the same author?

          He complains about “smug liberalism”, but then he has this whole article written consistently in the tone of “look at this fascinating savage I found in the jungle!”

          • Artificirius says:

            Self-awareness is not a common trait.

          • I don’t actually see the problem with that take. It’s surprisingly more compassionate, if somewhat dismissive, of the anti-feminist coalition.

            Certainly better than the normal “all MRA are evil misogynists!” approach.

            The dude in the article sounds not so different than myself. Though I would never live in River North. I need a family, so I’m in the suburbs, obviously.

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        @ David Friedman
        He is concerned that the liberals haven’t sat down to dinner with people on food stamps. Does he worry that they haven’t sat down to dinner, or had a civil conversation, with people who believe that the minimum wage hurts poor people?

        Perhaps we should find some poor (or till recently poor) people who are feeling the effects of a recent rise in the minimum wage — some people benefiting (getting the higher wage), some apparently damaged (laid off). Let them hash it out somewhat, then invite some comfortable liberals and conservatives to listen.

        The pool would have some people obviously benefited with their larger paycheck — and some laid off, now with food stamps, unemployment payments, and leisure for looking for a better job (or getting trained for one), starting some self-employment project, living frugally with more family time, etc.

        • Glen Raphael says:

          some people benefiting (getting the higher wage), some apparently damaged (laid off).

          Are you familiar with What is Seen and What is Not Seen? The trouble with your project is that most of the winners and losers are not easily seen.

          Those who receive the higher wage are only allegedly benefitting – it is not clear that the higher wage helps them. A standard finding in economics is that when you fix any one term in a contract it makes both parties to that contract worse off. They could have negotiated that specific value for that one term before you passed the law; the fact that they didn’t suggests it’s not what either party really wanted.

          A job is a bundle of many kinds of benefits to both parties. In addition to salary, the employer might be providing other benefits such as: Free on-the-job training. A reasonably secure job (low chance of being fired). A friendly work environment. A clean and well-lit work environment. An entertaining (non-boring) work environment. A relatively low-stress (due to adequate staffing) work environment. Health and/or retirement benefits. Substantial available work hours. Substantial possible overtime. Flexible scheduling. Free or subsidized uniforms. Subsidized transportation. Free meals or snacks. Opportunities for promotion.

          When you force the company to pay more than the previous market rate in pure salary, the simplest way to stay in business is just to cut some of that other stuff which the employee valued more than it cost the employer. Depending on what is cut and how much the employee wanted it, the new rate might make those who “get a raise” better off, worse off, or leave them just the same as before.

          But it’s actually worse than that because when you raise the minimum wage by a lot, the people who get the new job aren’t the same people who would have gotten the old job. Suppose the minimum wage triples from $10/hour to $30/hour. At the old price, high-school dropouts can be profitable employees. At the new price, the employer might be more selective and only hire pre-trained college graduates with good test scores and references. In which case high-school dropouts are hugely harmed – they can’t get an entry-level job any more. And you might think the benefit to the new people who get paid $30/hour offsets this…but it doesn’t. A naive view says there should be $20/hour of benefit from the law but a nuanced view notices that the college graduates who take the job now had other high-paying job prospects; the value of this job to them is the difference between it and the next-best alternative.

          So people who would have been making $10/hour lose that job option, while people who were making $25/hour switch industries to get paid $30.

          But hey, at least we can find the people who were laid off and at least those people get unemployment, right? Nope, because the real hit is a matter of jobs that are never created or are lost via attrition.

          The jobs that never get created in the first place (because high wages made the venture unprofitable) are part of What Is Not Seen. They exist in a statistical sense and can be talked about, but you can’t attach specific names to them.

      • Seth says:

        This is bit like a religious conservative commenting on an article by an Atheist about the persistence of religious belief and whether smug Atheism (which really exists) is counter-productive, and objecting “I don’t see any evidence that author has considered that Atheism might be wrong, that there really is a omnipresent God. Doesn’t he worry that many atheists haven’t sat down to dinner with preachers who believe all sinners will be doomed to eternal damnation? Doesn’t the author realize that many intelligent, educated, decent people are deeply religious and have a strong faith in a Supreme Being?”

        That is, it’s often rather unfruitful to the thesis of an article by an X about X-ism, for a non-X to complain the article doesn’t take into account that non-X might be completely right and X completely wrong.

        • Jiro says:

          That doesn’t work because the atheist is making factual claims that are independent of people.

          If the atheist said “religion makes people miserable”, asking if the atheist talked to any non-miserable religious people would be appropriate, especially if the atheist already claimed that he talked to a lot of miserable religious people.

          • Anonymous says:

            The goal of the article was to convince a subset of liberals to be less obnoxious. If David had his wish and the author magically converted to his way of thinking, then the author would lose all credibility in making the case he did. When an ideologically opponent claims you are being obnoxious it is easy enough to dismiss. Not quite as easy from someone that agree with you on the object level.

            If you want to read conversion testimony there’s plenty of that. It seems petty to complain that this isn’t it.

          • I’m not arguing for conversion. I’m arguing for intellectual modesty–recognizing that he might be wrong, that there might be, probably are, some reasonable arguments against his beliefs.

            My point isn’t that most liberals are wrong, although of course I think they are. It is that most of them are intellectually arrogant and strikingly ignorant of the views and arguments of their opponents. That fact fits into the point the article is making, but I don’t see any evidence in the article that it has occurred to him.

          • Seth says:

            @Jiro – one can always argue, snarkily or charitably, that factual claims have not been more widely believed because those claims are actually wrong. And thus, the person asserting them should always be considering that possible explanation (being wrong), in all contexts and in every article related to those claims.

            @David Friedman – again, the point is that sort of “intellectual modesty” is not relevant to the kind of article the author is writing. That is, inversely,should all articles about strategies for group X written by a group X member necessarily have (long?) sections considering that X’s beliefs could all be mistaken and anti-X are correct? It seems like that’s an algorithm which could be run to criticize almost all group-member articles about intra-group subjects. As in, once more, an Atheist argues to other Atheists “Smug Atheism is counter-productive. It leads to Atheists just making fun of God-believers as stupid, which annoys them, doesn’t engage in necessary alliance politics connecting to e.g. birth control and LGBT rights”. Preacher runs the algorithm: “My point isn’t that Atheists are wrong, although of course I think so. It is that most of them are intellectually arrogant and strikingly ignorant of the views and arguments of their God-fearing opponents. I don’t see any evidence in the article that it has occurred to him.”. That is, “intellectually arrogant” meaning the Atheists are not humble over the possible existence of God. But that’s not relevant to article’s in-group argument.

          • ” That is, inversely,should all articles about strategies for group X written by a group X member necessarily have (long?) sections considering that X’s beliefs could all be mistaken and anti-X are correct? ”

            No. They should all reflect recognition of the possibility that some or all of X’s beliefs might be mistaken or, if not mistaken, sufficiently dubious so that reasonable people might doubt them.

            Unless it isn’t true, which is rarely the case in political arguments.

            An atheist explaining the existence of religious people should make it clear that he is allowing for the possibility that some of them may have good reasons for believing in God, whether or not the conclusion is correct.

          • onyomi says:

            I really think anon@gmail should be banned completely. The fact of its existence adds nothing but the opportunity for people with chips on their shoulders to insult people. Which is not to say there have been no polite, constructive comments posted under that name, but that the former is, overwhelmingly, what it’s been used for thus far, for reasons which, to SSC readers (who are interested in amateur sociology), should be obvious.

            I’m not claiming to be a saint: if I could only post here under an anon handle indistinguishable from any other I would be more snarky, I’m sure, too.

            Plus, if you’re going to be civil, I still don’t see why you can’t just be anonymous in the usual way.

          • Deiseach says:

            The main problem with the anon handle is that it gets very confusing when you’re trying to reply to “Anonymous, no not you Anonymous the other Anonymous, no not you other Anonymous, the other other Anonymous” and then you basically end up going “green gravatar anon, blue gravatar anon etc.” so why not have them as Blue, Green, etc names in the first place?

          • On the general anon issue …

            It’s useful for people to be able to separate their online persona from their realspace persona if they want to, since that lets them express unpopular opinions without being exposed to realspace retaliation. But it would be nice if the online persona on a site stayed the same, so that commenters would be constrained by online reputation. Unfortunately, I don’t see any way of enforcing that.

            And I don’t see any point to having a name shared by multiple posters, the way “anonymous” currently is. That just leads to confusion. But perhaps I’m missing something.

          • onyomi says:

            Ironically, considering the content of many anon@gmail comments, it illustrates perfectly “the tragedy of the commons.”

            If we think of anon@gmail as a comment “space,” which, unlike others, is available for anyone to use, then we see that the incentive to put anything of value there is much diminished, while the incentive to dump one’s “garbage” there is much increased.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Maybe anon@gmail should show up slightly greyed out. Or the JavaScript front-end could give people the option to just make them all disappear.

          • onyomi says:

            “Maybe anon@gmail should show up slightly greyed out. Or the JavaScript front-end could give people the option to just make them all disappear.”

            But what is the actual advantage of allowing it in the first place that Scott should take special steps to accommodate it? If it were like, “on the one hand, it lends itself to abuse, but on the other, it fulfills useful function x,” I could maybe see doing that.

            But what useful function does it serve? It doesn’t make it any easier or harder to connect to a real life person; it only makes it harder to connect one SSC post to another. Since, for the reasons I stated, there is an incentive for such posts to be of lower quality than otherwise, why maintain this public “dumping ground” at all?

          • Agronomous says:

            @onyomi:

            When Scott does something we don’t understand the reasoning behind, it’s traditional to ascribe it to “something something Commie Tumblr Friends.”

            (BTW, am I the only one who thinks of Happy Tree Friends when he hears that phrase?)

          • JB says:

            I suspect that if you are an Xist making a criticism about how other Xists behave in a way that is counterproductive to X, you need to clearly proclaim your own dedication to X, otherwise the Xists you are trying to persuade might see you as a !X traitor.

      • Tatu Ahponen says:

        Do you write your every article with a caveat “You know, I might be wrong about everything I believe?” Furthermore, isn’t it obvious he believes that “there are intelligent, educated, decent people who disagree with them” from the part that explicitly discusses “that the average Republican is better educated and has a higher IQ than the average Democrat. That for every overpowered study finding superior liberal open-mindedness and intellect and knowledge, there is one to suggest that Republicans have the better of these qualities.”

        • I try to write in a way that does not make it sound as though I am a hundred percent certain that all of my beliefs are correct. In my first book, for example, I explored ways in which the stateless system I was advocating might fail, leaving us worse off than we now are. In the current third edition I expand that discussion and also have a chapter on ways in which that system would fail to produce the optimal legal rules.

          One important intellectual skill that I don’t think the current educational system does a good job of teaching is evaluating sources of information on internal evidence, deciding whether to believe what a book, article, or web page is telling you. One way of doing that is by whether the author appears to see potential weaknesses in his own position.

          • Seth says:

            But writing a book about a proposed different way to completely organize society, which has basically never been tried before (excepting dubious claims regarding ancient Iceland and the like), is a different genre than a group member writing to an intended audience of other group members about perceived errors of group strategy. To expect the latter kind of article to go into detail that maybe the group is factually wrong, seems to me unreasonable, and a way to make a reflexive criticism. It’s almost a trap. That is, either an article self-criticizes the group, or you say the group is flawed for not doing more self-criticism.

          • “To expect the latter kind of article to go into detail that maybe the group is factually wrong”

            Where does the “go into detail” come from? I expect the author to write in a way that make it clear that he realizes that they might be wrong and that, whether or not they are wrong, people might have good reasons to disagree with them. I don’t think this author does.

          • Seth says:

            I would say you just restated “go into detail” – “realizes that they might be wrong … good reasons to disagree with them”. To make this a general requirement of overall group beliefs, of every article about group strategy, that the group’s ideas might be wrong, is to almost create the trap I outlined – either self-criticize all the time, or be criticized for not self-criticizing all the time.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      This article was good at putting into words why, even though I often vote Democratic, I often want to see those same people lose.

    • onyomi says:

      Finally got around to reading this. I’ve noticed this trend since the beginning of the Obama presidency because of one particular, consistent rhetorical move: every time anyone asked Obama “why do you think opposition to ACA remains high?” or, later, “how would you grade your presidency thus far? Any thing you could do better?” etc. etc.

      His response was always “I think we need to work harder at explaining our views to people.” “I could have spent more time explaining. It’s not enough just to do good things. We’ve got to explain to people why they’re good.” The implication and underlying conviction seems to be: “nobody who is well-informed disagrees with me.”

      • Seth says:

        But what would a politician reasonably reply to such a question? It’s like the job interview query “What is your biggest weakness?” The reply to that is “I’m a perfectionist”, not anything like “I waste too much time writing comments on blogs”.

        • onyomi says:

          I’ll admit that it’s the sort of question which doesn’t pay to answer honestly, which is part of why politics is so awful (because honest, serious, thoughtful answers aren’t rewarded), but I don’t remember hearing this particular answer until the Obama presidency. Maybe someone else can point me to how Bush, Clinton, Reagan, or someone else answered the same question (maybe they did the same thing; I just don’t remember hearing it till Obama)?

          Strategically, it was not a bad move for Obama; but part of the reason why may be precisely the phenomenon described in his article: because he was talking to his base who already believed that the only logical answer to the question “why oppose liberal policies?” is “because you’re ill-informed.”

          In fact, we might say this is the other side of Bush’s “they underestimated me” coin: if the author’s basic thesis (that liberals over the past couple of decades have shifted from believing their opponents are wrong to believing their opponents are confused or stupid, arguably the only reasonable way to resolve the cognitive dissonance created by the labor classes you thought you were representing not liking you) is correct, then we’d expect the following:

          Liberal politicians heavily imply (and perhaps really believe) that blue collar rural types would like their policies if they weren’t so stupid and ill-informed (here you can still blame Fox News, etc.); conservative politicians imply (and perhaps really believe) that the liberal politicians disdain and look down upon the blue collar rural types. And that, of course, is exactly what we see: with Bush, with Obama, and now, the most successful of the new crop, including Clinton, Trump, and Cruz.

          • Nornagest says:

            I Googled “Bush regrets” and got this, but I’d be happier if it was a source other than the Guardian.

          • BBA says:

            his base who already believed that the only logical answer to the question “why oppose liberal policies?” is “because you’re ill-informed.”

            Judging from the left-wing blogs I read, his base believes opposition to liberal policies is mostly due to racism – which is an even worse answer to for him to give in an interview.

          • Seth says:

            Well, a politician could say something along the lines of “I regret even trying to compromise with the other side because they are so wrong it’s not even worth an attempt to deal with them”. Or “I’m sorry I didn’t pound the rubble of the war I started”. That is, not being even more partisan. But really, an idea that liberals should be willing to grant conservatives might be correct at every turn, when conservatives rarely if ever grant such charity, seems like a recipe for political disaster. How many conservatives ever say “Perhaps war is not the answer, perhaps taxes on the rich are too low, perhaps the social safety net should be stronger, …” etc.?

          • onyomi says:

            “an idea that liberals should be willing to grant conservatives might be correct at every turn, when conservatives rarely if ever grant such charity, seems like a recipe for political disaster.”

            I would agree with you. I’m not saying it’s a good political strategy. That’s one of the problems with politics: it doesn’t pay to be nuanced. I think it was Steven Kaas who tweeted something like: “if we admit 2+2=4, then next they’ll insist it’s 5, so we better just make a firm stand at 3.”

            *I should add, however, that I don’t think this is ultimately about standing or ceding ground; it’s instead about what seems to be a growing tendency toward “Bulverism,” especially on the left: that is, instead of engaging with the opponent’s arguments directly, you beg the question and start psychologizing or otherwise trying to explain why the opponent keeps getting it wrong.

          • onyomi says:

            Re. “Bush regrets”: it will be interesting to see what Obama says after December of this year.

          • Nornagest says:

            Reminds me of the oft-repeated “we need to have a national conversation about guns/healthcare/immigration”.

          • The Nybbler says:

            A “conversation” like that brings to mind Michael Moriarty’s parting shot to Janet Reno:

            “The next time you call me to a meeting where only one side gets to ask the questions, send a subpoena.”

            (Proving the shade of the Hollywood blacklist still operates, Moriarty’s career pretty much ended at that point; he hasn’t had a decent part since)

          • onyomi says:

            Oh yes, I think that “national conversation” thing is definitely a symptom of the same general tendency: if you haven’t yet come around to our way of thinking that just means we need to talk to you some more.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Is this really such a surprising phenomenon? It’s about as old as Western philosophy is; Socrates himself argued that all evil ultimately stemmed from ignorance. It’s condescending, sure, but it’s nothing new under the sun as far as philosophical positions go.

          • Agronomous says:

            Off-topic, but tangentially relevant: a great scene from The Glass Menagerie with Michael Moriarty and (in a coincidence funny to Law & Order fans) Sam Waterston.

        • Protest Manager says:

          @Seth

          Really? You think that ObamaCare is so worthless that any honest discussion of its weaknesses will be an unmitigated failure for Obama?

          Because when it comes to reversing people’s hatred of X, telling them “the only reason you hate X is because you’re too dumb / ignorant to understand how great X is” is pretty much a guaranteed loser.

          I mean, if Obama had a functional brain he could talk about all the attacks from the Left, all the ways it “didn’t go far enough”, bring those up, and use it as ground for pushing for more!

          But I must disagree with your underlying & fundamental point: the claim that “politics” means you can’t ever discuss tradeoffs. Having crappy and worthless views means you can’t honestly discuss tradeoffs, because if you did people would reject your position.

          Not all positions are that weak.

      • Anonymous says:

        For someone on the center-left or center-right with a technocratic bent, the ignorant are the biggest obstacle / opportunity.

        The centrist isn’t going to convince the libertarians, the monarchists, the socialists, and so on. But the people on the opposite side, but still in the center, they might not love the policy if they fully understood it, but they probably wouldn’t absolutely hate it. However since they are (perhaps rationally) ignorant they are susceptible to being convinced that it is really socialism/fascism.

      • Virbie says:

        every time anyone asked Obama “why do you think opposition to ACA remains high?” or, later, “how would you grade your presidency thus far? Any thing you could do better?” etc. etc.

        His response was always “I think we need to work harder at explaining our views to people.” “I could have spent more time explaining. It’s not enough just to do good things. We’ve got to explain to people why they’re good.”

        It sounds like you’re just pattern-matching here, instead of considering what the actual situation was and why he might have thought that explanation was required. The ARRA and the ACA were the huge elephants in the room of his first term; They both polled pretty badly across the country, but the policies they consisted of were very popular. As polled, people weren’t opposed to these laws, they were opposed to “the stimulus” and “Obamacare”. “Explaining things better” seems like an entirely sane response, and has nothing to do with the smug “I’m self-evidently right and won’t consider the possibility that I’m wrong”.

        Obama’s presidency is perhaps a particularly bad example because, at least in his first term, there _was_ nothing coming from the other side of the conversation. It’s hard to consider that the other side may be right when they aren’t saying anything except “Our top priority is to make you a one-term president” (paraphrase of an actual quote by Senate leader McConnell).

        [1] at least in the political arena: it’s not a coincidence that half the people from my rich California town suddenly switched from Republican to “vaguely libertarian”. Conservative ideas weren’t bankrupt, but its political representation sure as shit was, esp at the federal level.

        • Agronomous says:

          Obama’s presidency is perhaps a particularly bad example because, at least in his first term, there _was_ nothing coming from the other side of the conversation. It’s hard to consider that the other side may be right when they aren’t saying anything except “Our top priority is to make you a one-term president” (paraphrase of an actual quote by Senate leader McConnell).

          Nothing coming from the other side of the conversation, or nothing coming through the news channels you prefer? I remember a whole lot of ideas just about health insurance[1] coming from Republican Representatives and Senators in the 2009 – 2011 time frame. I do not remember hearing about any of them on NPR.

          You should be more careful with sweeping generalizations.

          [1] As Arnold Kilng points out, we’re not actually talking about insurance, and it has a lot more to do with medicine (doctors, hospitals, pills, and procedures) than with health—so a more-accurate term would be “medical services financing.” Politically, of course, this term is a non-starter.

          • Virbie says:

            > Nothing coming from the other side of the conversation, or nothing coming through the news channels you prefer? I remember a whole lot of ideas just about health insurance[1] coming from Republican Representatives and Senators in the 2009 – 2011 time frame. I do not remember hearing about any of them on NPR.

            You should be more careful with sweeping generalizations.

            I don’t see why you’d assume that “what NPR reports” has anything to do with “what’s coming from the other side of the aisle”. I was talking about political proposals, advanced by the mainstream of the opposition party. This is what’s actually relevant, since “some guy saying something with no support from his party” is entirely irrelevant when we’re talking about making policy.

            If you think that NPR (from whom I don’t get my news, btw….) or any other large media organization wouldn’t cover policy counter-proposals coming from GOP leadership, you’re delusional.

          • Agronomous says:

            @Virbie:

            1) You’re moving the goalposts from “at least in his first term, there _was_ nothing coming from the other side of the conversation” to “I was talking about political proposals, advanced by the mainstream of the opposition party”.

            2) You wrote: “you’re delusional”. That’s a counterproductive debating tactic here; I’m pretty sure we just had a discussion about it.

            3) Consider reserving double quotation marks for actual quotations (as I’ve done above), rather than for a “paraphrase of an actual quote”, which is what single quotes were invented for.*

            (* Yeah, yeah, I know: vice-versa for Brits.)

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          They both polled pretty badly across the country, but the policies they consisted of were very popular.

          Yes, all parts but the mandate were very popular. And of course they were! Of course people would like all the good stuff and none of the bad stuff which is necessary to make it work.

          This all seems like so much special pleading. Is there a precedent for trying to determine how people really feel about a law by trying to name just the good parts?

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            I have a more general objection to the argument. The very fact that the poll results for the parts diverge so much from those for the entire program tells us that the respondents are not mentally connecting the individual proposals with the public debate over the package; their responses are a snap reaction based on such limited information as will fit into a poll question. Even leaving aside the devil’s familiar tendency to lurk in the details, all these results are telling us is that people liked ARRA and PPACA better before they heard the arguments for and against than they did after. Depending on people’s views about the quality of public debate, we can disagree about how much of an argument this is against the programs in question– but it’s odd to say that it’s an argument in their favor.

          • Virbie says:

            Wow, this a is a masterstroke of arguing against a point no one is making. My favorite part is how you put words in my mouth in the first paragraph, and then issue an edgy and devastating takedown of those words (which I guess are now mine…) in the second.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            What second paragraph?

          • Protest Manager says:

            @Virbie & @ Cerebral Paul Z:

            Do you want a safe car with great acceleration that’s highly reliable and gets pretty good gas milage?

            Are you willing to pay $200,000 to get it?

            No? Why not? You liked almost all the parts! You must be some ignorant dupe of the auto lobby!

            Just like people who don’t like ObamaCare are dupes of your favorite “X”.

            Do you both now understand why the argument you present is so worthless?

    • BBA says:

      So far I’ve seen a couple of dismissals of this story, basically for being by a white dude about white dudes. Fair enough – all politics is identity politics.

      Here’s white dude Kevin Drum with a more pointed critique:

      There’s some smugness in there, sure, but I’d call it plain old condescension. We’re convinced that conservatives, especially working class conservatives, are just dumb. Smug suggests only a supreme confidence that we’re right—but conservative elites also believe they’re right, and they believe it as much as we do. The difference is that, generally speaking, they’re less condescending about it.

      (Except for libertarians. Damn, but those guys are condescending.)

      • I found this part intriguing:

        They’re made to feel guilty about everything that’s any fun: college football for exploiting kids; pro football for maiming its players; SUVs for destroying the climate; living in the suburbs for being implicitly racist. If they try to argue, they’re accused of mansplaining or straightsplaining or whitesplaining. If they put a wrong word out of place, they’re slut shaming or fat shaming. Who the hell talks like that? They think it’s just crazy. Why do they have to put up with all this condescending gibberish from twenty-something liberals? What’s wrong with the values they grew up with?

  9. Nita says:

    Agronomous said,

    We really need a “how to read and write SSC comments” FAQ.

    I’m not completely convinced it’s a good idea, but here’s a first draft anyway.

    • Leit says:

      I get that it’s an unavoidable warning, but including anon@gmail in the FAQ is going to end up giving people ideas. Or really just the one idea.

      Also, flame war enthusiasts sound like historical re-enactment, but with napalm. Which would probably be *awesome*.

      • Nita says:

        Or really just the one idea.

        I know, right? I tried to phrase it in the least inviting way, but deliberately concealing things would defeat the whole purpose of having an FAQ (which is, to reduce the knowledge gap between newbies and old-timers).

        Is “flame war enthusiasts” an awkward way to put it? English is not my first language, so corrections are welcome.

        • Leit says:

          I’d argue that conjuring images of Redcoats advancing across a field behind lines of flamethrowers makes this the very best way to put it, but then, English is also just that one language for me as well.

        • Matt C says:

          Flame war enthusiasts is a fine way to put it.

          Your English is very good, certainly not in special need of correction. (I envied your parody of Moldbug. I hope you at least had to sweat over that a little.)

      • Protagoras says:

        In my usenet days, I spent some time on a history newsgroup which regularly re-enacted the war of 1812 in the form of a flame war between the Americans and Canadians over who won the original.

      • Dan T. says:

        Why do people keep attributing the “anon” user to “@gmail”? There’s nothing that I can see that lets me know what email service they may be using.

        • Leit says:

          a) Because it was specifically stated in a previous thread by one of these anon; and
          b) Because it’s possible to test. Gravatar generates its avatar pattern based on email address.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            ^ To illustrate

          • lvlln says:

            This reminds me of an account that used to be on the Ars forums named “thepasswordispassword.” For a while, the password to that account was exactly what one would predict based on the username, basically creating a shared account that anyone could use to post anonymously. This didn’t last long until someone changed the password to that account.

      • Seth says:

        Also, flame war enthusiasts sound like historical re-enactment, but with napalm.

        “This fall, I’m going to the Killfiling Fields, where I’ll suit up in asbestos armor to take part in the Society for Creative Argument’s live staging of the USENET Battle of Eternal September …”

    • Dan T. says:

      Something in that page seems to be loading a script that brings my Firefox browser to its knees, and I eventually have to abort it without ever seeing the content of the page.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Q25: Who’s Scott?

      SSC Features: Hiding, Reporting, Scott Alexander.

      A27: For being untrue and unkind, or unkind and unnecessary, or untrue and unnecessary.

      When saying something untrue and unnecessary, try to go for unkind as well, lest you get your comment reported.

      This looks pretty good, should tell Scott to put it somewhere visible.

      • Nita says:

        Those are not exclusive ORs! Actually, good point, thanks.

        Any suggestions for alternative phrasing?

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          Tis but a jest, the wording is perfectly fine.

          • Nita says:

            How disappointing. Come on, people. I want 30% feedback here, not back pats and reassurance!

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Well, there’s a distinct lack of references to cactus people, could also add an animal sidekick, and a bestiary, bestiaries are in right now.

            I mean, mate, it’s a FAQ to a comment section, not a NaNoWriMo submission: This is how the interface works, these are the rules, there’s not a lot to improve…

            I guess you could mention that being an anon has you on a tighter leash, and can get you a fast track ban… and the cactus people references, you can’t not have that.

    • John Schilling says:

      Now I want to read “Theranos: the Ascension”. If, as is increasingly likely, Holmes and company never had a device that worked, how did they ever get to $9 billion in market cap to begin with? In particular, what were the direct investors thinking?

      • Douglas Knight says:

        I don’t know, but a lot of startups have business plans that don’t actually have anything to do with their claimed inventions. Their business plan probably was: this is a highly regulated industry, hence concentrated and stagnant, ripe for all sorts of innovation that we’ll figure out later; and we can enter the industry this because of our highly connected board of directors. Indeed, they did convince Arizona to let them sell direct-to-consumer blood testing without a doctor’s involvement. I’m not sure where they were going with that, but it doesn’t seem to have much to do with miniaturization. I think that there was a third direction, too, but I forget what.

        • John Schilling says:

          But VC investment in the closely-related pharmaceutical industry is hardly a new thing, and in that sphere everyone understood that “highly regulated industry” doesn’t mean that the first clever new guy makes billions with a bit of basement-laboratory tech that none of the stodgy old dinosaurs ever thought of. Rather, it means there is a substantial risk that the startup will go broke trying to satisfy the regulators the new product is safe and effective, and consequently new rounds of funding tend to be closely linked with e.g. clinical trials that buy down both the technical and the regulatory risk.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Yes, if there were clear regulatory hurdles, they would have been tied to funding. But such hurdles largely did not exist. Theranos has managed for more than a decade pretty much without talking to the FDA at all. It claimed that since it was not offering its device for sale, it did not have to show it to the FDA. No one seems to have disputed this, so score one for regulatory arbitrage, or at least bluffing. In particular, it could be very vague about when it was using ordinary tests, when it was using its own device, and when it was diluting pinpricks and running them on weirdly-calibrated ordinary devices; although obviously it can’t be doing the first on pinpricks. So there was potential to slowly modify its technology, rather than having discrete approved developments.

            Again, the investors were probably not thinking about technology at all, but about innovation in business models. I have read articles claiming that Theranos was cheap because it was well-run. Maybe these were lies and it was actually just selling at a loss, but most of what I read about it had nothing to do with technology, even if every headline did. Or, maybe, it was cheap because it was badly-run, skimping on calibration. It is not clear to me that it was the pinpricks that were the problem, rather than the ordinary operation of ordinary machines.

      • I assume the direct investors were thinking something in the range between “it will be really cool if it works” and “I’ll be able to find someone who will think “It will be really cool if it works” “.

        For what it’s worth, when Theranos was popular, I took a look at it to see whether I should be going goshwowoboyoboy with the crowd, and I couldn’t find enough reason to think the science was good to justify even that much support. I still have some hope left for turning turkey guts into gasolinie, but if it’s workable, it’s still going very slowly.

        I’m not sure how much is that I’ve gotten dubious about claims of scientific and technical breakthroughs in general, or if I was on to something specific about this one.

        There’s some discussion in the metafilter comments about how hoping to “change the world” rather than (I suppose) wanting to make a good medium-sized contribution leads to a lot of wasted effort.

        Have a palate cleanser. Linus Torvalds explains that he’s an engineer trying to solve particular problems, not a visionary.

      • anonymous says:

        In particular, what were the direct investors thinking?

        Isn’t that obvious?

        “Men and women are truly equal; this is the best start up headed by a woman I’ve ever heard of; therefore, this will be bigger than Apple”

        or the more cynical:

        “Sure, throw the cute blonde chick a few bucks of other people’s money – she’ll likely get some kind of government contracts and if not, well, we can talk about our diversity and inclusiveness in this quarter’s report – never hurts to have a few of those chits in your pocket for a rainy day”

        another cynical view:

        “Suckers want so badly for there to be a woman who creates a tech company that they’ll buy into this nonsense for long enough for me to cash out”

        Say what you want about treating progressivism as transparently nonsensical – it sure makes good predictions.

    • Some Troll's Legitimate Discussion Alt says:

      The minute you have a back-up plan, you’ve admitted you’re not going to succeed.” – Theranos CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes

      Oh god.

      • God Damn John Jay says:

        Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion, you have to set yourself on fire.

        – Theranos CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes

  10. http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2014/11/everything-problematic/

    A description of getting out of SJW– describes SJW as a cult (in passing, not detailed analysis of cults and how SJW matches that), and with an excellent takedown of SJW anti-intellectualism.

    • Murphy says:

      That strongly reminds me of some comment I saw on here from someone talking about how they’d been left feeling like dying for various minor sins such as reading books by white male authors.

    • Cauê says:

      That was very good, thanks. Quite linkable.

  11. PGD says:

    The confounder problem is even more serious than that Discover blog post makes it out to be. Take the correlation between ice cream sales and drowning. Say you have measured your potential confounding variable (temperature) perfectly and control for it. You STILL have not eliminated confounds, because ice cream sales are actually a better measure of whether the day is good for swimming than temperature is. (Hot days where it is raining will tend to have lower ice cream sales and less swimming both). So you not only need to measure your confounder variable properly, you need to make sure you have completely controlled for all possible confounds. That is even harder to do than flawless measurement of a single confound!

    In my experience it is very common for researchers to control for some confounds and claim that they have controlled for the full set. E.g. controlling for family background by including parental income, a highly imperfect measure of family background.

  12. dndnrsn says:

    @TD: You wrote, in two separate posts:

    You are far more likely to see green frogs wearing SS caps on the internet today than you ever were.

    The illustrations in future histories are going to be weird.

    It’s the strangest thing. The most bizarre contradiction. The establishment is comprised of liberals (both progressive and conservative) who don’t care about defending liberalism, let alone from Islam, and the nationalist grassroots – or at least the loudest segment of it – is comprised of people whose vision for society differs from Islam only in that its sense of asabiyah is based on race. Any difference of degree in how much more Islam oppresses women and sexual minorities seems to me to be the difference between eating my own puke and eating dogshit. I’d really really really rather do neither, thanks.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about – the self-described “traditionalists” tend to be among those most opposed to Muslim immigration, but the worst fears of those opposed to such immigration look quite similar to the traditionalists’ dream society. A “traditional” Christian society looks more like a “traditional” Muslim society, and vice versa, than either looks to a modern Western society. Even the far-right who are less traditionalist still tend to be, by any reasonable standard, very hostile to things like LGBT rights, feminism, etc.

    You are right that there is a weird contradiction: in the one corner, you have socially very left-wing people advocating immigration policy that has the potential to make society considerably more conservative and more hostile to people like them; in the other you have socially very right-wing people proclaiming that they are defending their societies (which they tend to define on ethnic grounds), but simultaneously condemning those societies as degenerate (eg, the combination of mocking “SWPLs” and bemoaning the rising rates of illegitimacy, etc among the white working class).

    (W/R/T my question as to what “alt-right” is)

    /pol/ boards (4chan,8chan, and others), ThRghtStf, MyPstCrr, DlyStrmr, alternative right, and rdx spring to mind, as well as some loose and vast agglomeration of twitter users and Youtube channels.

    Alt-Right (imo) essentially means “the populist nationalism orientated right wing outside of the mainstream consensus”, so it’s broad enough to cover both hardcore neo-nazis and non-mainstream conservatives in favor of some kind of nationalism.

    It’s definitely an umbrella term, but I would say that the nazi elements have the loudest voices.

    But the examples you give are all offshoots of a particular corner of the internet. “Old-fashioned” neo-Nazis, KKK, their equivalents in Europe, etc are nowhere to be found – they’re dinosaurs who probably wouldn’t know a dank meme if one bit them in the ass, and who accomplish little more than the occasional hate crime where they outnumber the victim(s) considerably, getting beaten up by antifa who outnumber them considerably, or being protected from antifas by the police (who represent the state the neo-Nazis detest). The “WN in a suit and tie” types like Jared Taylor are influences, but are not the direct progenitors.

    Going by what you are saying, it is possible to view the whole “internet culture war” as a bizarre civil war between elements originating on one or two internet forums about a decade ago. Which is a weird thought.

    True, but is Donald Trump an alt-right candidate? He’s certainly breaking with the mainstream conservatives on immigration and providing an alternative, and that alternative is orientated towards populist civic-nationalism. Though that raises the question whether Donald Trump could have existed without the internet. Can anything exist without the internet anymore? Arg!

    He’s a fairly garden-variety right-wing populist, but the alt-right seems to have latched on to him in the same way that people in the US who were quite left-wing latched on to Obama in 2008: they’ve projected what they want onto him. Consider how many (by American standards) almost-far-left university students were dismayed when Obama turned out to be a centrist Democrat.

    Trump’s candidacy would probably not have flourished without the internet, because he would have gotten a lot less free publicity.

    Also: it says something that a Republican with, for the Republican party, centrist positions on most things other than immigration (and, evidently, his views on immigration have considerable support – just not from the mainstream Republican leadership) is viewed as being extremely right wing – but the fascists were not across the board extremely right wing. The Italian Fascists and the NSDAP both advocated policies that could be considered “socialist” but they substituted other struggles for class struggle: for the Italians, national, for the Germans, national/racial. If anything, that Trump is not on the right wing of the Republican party in most things makes him more like a fascist.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not a contradiction unless you insist on viewing people as interchangeable.

      If the West is decadent, that’s bad news for westerners and good news for our enemies. If Islam is vital, that’s good news for for muslims and bad news for their enemies. In a struggle your enemy’s weakness is your strength and their strength is your weakness.

      • dndnrsn says:

        It is more a contradiction on parts of the left: it was very weird seeing how a lot of left-wingers responded to the Cologne attacks, for instance.

        However, regarding the (far) right-wing part of this equation – surely defending something requires that it be worth defending? Additionally, the argument can be made that what TD means when he says “liberalism” is and has been a strong element of some European cultures – at least, NW Euro ones – for quite some time now. Hell, I think Nick Land makes this point, even.

        Why not just get on board with Mark Steyn? As he puts it:

        When the mullahs take over, I’ll grow my beard a little fuller, get a couple extra wives, and keep my head down. It’s the feminists and gays who’ll have a tougher time. If, say, three of the five judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Court are Muslim, what are the chances of them approving “gay marriage”?

        • EyeballFrog says:

          >surely defending something requires that it be worth defending?

          Just because I think my car needs to be fixed doesn’t mean I’m OK with it being stolen.

          • dndnrsn says:

            There is some point where it’s not your car anymore.

            Aren’t there examples of right-wing protestors in Europe bringing the message “protect our women from the foreigners” and local feminists seeing that and responding “we’re not your women”?

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            No matter how much they think they can/should, feminists really, really, really have no right to vouch for women other than themselves.

        • Anonymous says:

          Because Mark Steyn is, by his own words, either an idiot or one hell of a callous bastard.

          An actual Islamist take over in the US would necessarily involve the same sort of atrocities that the Yazidis and Coptic Christians have become all too familiar with. People you know, including members of your own family, would be killed plundered enslaved and/or violated both during the initial conquest and periodically afterwards as part of the Jizya.

          Besides, even in the best case scenario where you can just fly a green flag over your neighborhood and have the Ghazis pass over you, your people will still cease to exist soon enough. A very insular people might avoid intermixing completely but even then there would be clear marks of the occupation in their genomes detectable centuries later.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            Besides, even in the best case scenario where you can just fly a green flag over your neighborhood and have the Ghazis pass over you, your people will still cease to exist soon enough. A very insular people might avoid intermixing completely but even then there would be clear marks of the occupation in their genomes detectable centuries later.

            This is the white nationalist motte-and-bailey.

            Bailey: “Muslim immigration will erase the white race, by means of creating a caliphate that murders white people.” Uncontroversially bad—but also not very plausible.

            Motte: “Muslim immigration will erase the white race, by means of interbreeding.” More plausible—but not very bad, if it’s bad at all.

          • John Schilling says:

            Motte: “Muslim immigration will erase the white race, by means of interbreeding.” More plausible—but not very bad, if it’s bad at all.

            Depends on how it is accomplished. If by means of an enforced patriarchy, in which the father absolutely determines the religious status and upbringing of his children, and if Muslim men are allowed to marry Christian(*) women but Christian men are prohibited from marrying Muslim women, I’m seeing several objectionable aspects of that before we even get to the nigh-genocidal extinction of Christianity at the end. And this strikes me as a quite plausible relationship between Islam and Christianity, on account of history.

            * White atheists would be well advised, in this hypothetical, to let their Muslim neighbors quietly go on believing that all white people are Christians until proven otherwise.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Steyn was, within context, being facetious, and raising the first part of the parallel I was making: that it’s more than a little bit counterintuitive that those who have the most to lose in some hypothetical right-wing-dystopian-fantasy “Muslims take over” scenario, are often the loudest voices in favour of Muslim immigration/against those against Muslim immigration.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Steyn’s remark is true, in the sense that a heterosexual traditionalist Christian man can expect to feel much less oppression under a Muslim theocracy than a feminist or a gay or lesbian person.

            That doesn’t mean the traditionalist Christian would prefer it to the status quo.

            The “white race” is a red herring, unless you think traditionalist Christians are largely white nationalists.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            Motte: “Muslim immigration will erase the white race, by means of interbreeding.” More plausible—but not very bad, if it’s bad at all.

            Somehow I’m reminded of the lukewarmist position on AGW.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Ok, I’ve completely lost the thread at this point.

            If people are genuinely having difficulty distinguishing Christianity from white nationalism and crude barracks humor from honest-to-Adolf Nazism it’s time to call it a day.

          • Tom Womack says:

            The interaction of Muslim patriarchialism with the British legal system is pretty clear; if a Muslim father and an agnostic mother divorce, the mother gets the kids, and the fact that the father has asserted he has a religious right to the kids means the mother also gets an injunction that the father doesn’t get access to the kids’ passports. The father wants the kids circumcised; the mother doesn’t; the court declares that the kids get to decide and that this decision must be made at a point that the kids decide the consequences. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2016/849.html

    • Anon. says:

      >This is something I’ve been thinking about – the self-described “traditionalists” tend to be among those most opposed to Muslim immigration, but the worst fears of those opposed to such immigration look quite similar to the traditionalists’ dream society. A “traditional” Christian society looks more like a “traditional” Muslim society, and vice versa, than either looks to a modern Western society. Even the far-right who are less traditionalist still tend to be, by any reasonable standard, very hostile to things like LGBT rights, feminism, etc.

      The Ideology Is Not The Movement

      • Jiro says:

        I don’t buy that.

        The left generally has ideology which favors the Third World and the oppressed. Muslims are considered oppressed; favoring them helps alleviate their oppression. Therefore, a society with lots of Muslims in it does look closer to the left’s dream society–it has less oppression in it.

        And I don’t think you even need to go that far in the context of Mexican immigration. Mexican immigrants (and people living near them, whose votes count more because of the presence of the Mexicans, due to Evenwel v. Abbott) vote for Democrats and for more social programs. It is true that Mexicans are also likely to be conservative in other ways, but there are clear ways in which more Mexican immigrants would produce a society more to the liking of the left.

        • Anon. says:

          Muslims are considered oppressed; favoring them helps alleviate their oppression. Therefore, a society with lots of Muslims in it does look closer to the left’s dream society–it has less oppression in it.

          That explains why the left likes them, but not why the right does not.

          • Jiro says:

            That explains why the left likes them, but not why the right does not.

            The right has different ideas about oppression and thinks that Muslims would bring more of it (terrorism, for instance).

        • dndnrsn says:

          This kind of assumes that there’s an inability to realize that the oppressed are capable of oppressing others in turn, though.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          Isn’t that somewhat obvious? The Catholic church and Daesh, say, agree on lots of things as well. They’re both theocratic institutions, they are both in favor of more traditional gender roles, such societies in general, aren’t especially fond of gays, abortion, atheism, contraception, what have you. Does that mean they get along on a grand scale?

    • The Nybbler says:

      A few points, mostly in reply to TD but thanks for starting the new tree

      1) I don’t think the 1488s and the dank memers are the same group. You’ve got real neo-Nazis hiding among the dank memers (some of them rather obvious) but most of them just seem to be enjoying the transgressive humor. And the thing about transgressive humor is the more the “serious” people try to clamp down on it, the more enjoyable it becomes.

      2) We’re so far from some sort of white nationalism now that worrying about them first and foremost seems odd. We’re at the point where the mainstream political response to an attack by Islamic terrorists is to call for a crackdown on “Islamophobia”. This is perverse. And it’s a large part of what’s giving the white nationalists popularity, as others have pointed out. If “good” has entered you into a suicide pact, “evil” starts looking like a viable option. Relativism is not dead; it’s still in charge. It’s certainly going to die one way or another, but I’d prefer that not be through Islamists taking over in fact if not in name, which at this point seems a LOT more likely than white nationalists doing so.

      3) Some of the apparent neo-Nazi support for Trump, particularly online, is likely orchestrated by his opponents.

      4) Traditionalism can be found without ethnic-nationalism, though not so much online. This is the domain of the paleoconservative. But they aren’t _that_ traditional compared to traditional Islam. Perhaps a few groups like the Hassidim or the Amish are as traditional, but they’d be obvious targets under an Islamic theocracy. The guy whose idea of traditional is working a blue collar job while his wife stays home (or perhaps works as a secretary or teacher or other ‘traditional’ feminine profession) and raises his 2.7 kids in a house with a white picket fence and goes to church on Sunday after which he has a barbeque (probably featuring pork) with his traditional neighbors… well, he’s out of step with modern society, but not nearly as out of step as he would be with Islam.

      • dndnrsn says:

        1) OK, what do you mean by “neo-Nazi”? When I think “neo-Nazi”, I think neo-Nazi skinhead – they’re the 1488 crowd; the actual NSDAP didn’t use sooper clevr number codes or cover themselves in tattoos. Some of the green frog Nazi crowd are closer to historical Nazis than the neo-Nazis are.

        2. It’s publicly unacceptable, that much is true, and it hardly has a big share of the opinion pie, polite or otherwise. But things can change really quickly.

        3. But it seems to have done little to turn off potential supporters. The things that would lose Trump the nomination are mostly due to his own character flaws, and the things that would lose him the general are mostly demographic.

        4. Online? What about the whole “women-in-wheat-fields-spells-Europe-with-a-V” shtick?

        • The Nybbler says:

          To qualify as a neo-Nazi you have to at least have hatred or contempt for Jews, to the point of seeing Jews as less than human. That’s the big thing separating Nazism from the various other totalitarian ideologies, and so I find it to be an essential feature. You have to also desire to bring some sort of authoritarian or totalitarian system where this view would be realized; just being a cranky anti-Semite idiot doesn’t qualify you. Maybe there are other qualifications.

      • Sastan says:

        Re: #2

        This is the basis of my opposition to the left. FFS, I’m pro legalizing damned near everything, from prostitution to hard drugs. I’m an atheist, a scientist, resolutely opposed to religious dogma and dedicated to the negative rack of personal and political freedoms. I uphold the ideal of perfectly equal treatment under the law for people of every race, sex and sexual orientation. In any sane society, I’d be pretty far left.

        But I can’t be. I have to be a on the right, because I don’t actively want to import muslim terrorists on taxpayer’s dime to murder my fellow citizens, then blame the victims for being insufficiently solicitous of psychotic religious fanatics. If this be the far right, if this be racism, if this be nazism, then that’s what I’ll be. I don’t care that much about the labels. I care about the principles.

      • “a barbeque (probably featuring pork) with his traditional neighbors… well, he’s out of step with modern society, but not nearly as out of step as he would be with Islam.”

        Islamic law does not forbid Christians from eating pork or drinking wine.

        • The Nybbler says:

          “Islamic law does not forbid Christians from eating pork or drinking wine.”

          I know that, and you know that, but does the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice know that? It doesn’t matter whether said committee and their religious police are actually “traditionalist Islam” as defined by Islamic law; my red-tribe traditional Christian is worried about what might actually happen, not what Islamic law says.

        • Sastan says:

          No, but it also doesn’t forbid muslims killing christians any time they damned well please. Especially if someone can accuse them of doing something “blasphemous”.

          And, as has been noted elsewhere, religion in book and religion in practice can vary tremendously.

          From my experience, christians serve a role in muslim communities much like that of jews in medieval europe. They provide services muslims are prohibited from providing themselves (loans and alcohol mostly), and are murdered en masse any time the local leadership needs to distract from some scandal. Everyone loves a good christian-burning!

          • John Schilling says:

            s/especially/only

            And more generally, dial it back a bit. As you note, the practice of religion varies tremendously, and most people here can recognize the brand of BS that comes with painting the worst abuses of Islam as the textually-sanctioned norm. In most parts of the world, a Muslim who kills a Christian on the basis of nothing more than his damned pleasure and a bare accusation of blasphemy, is going to jail. Very likely for life and/or less than a year.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            I suspect you actually have zero “experience” with Muslim communities (or are using “experience”, “Muslim communities” or “Christian burning” in a non-standard fashion).

          • “No, but it also doesn’t forbid muslims killing christians any time they damned well please. ”

            “It” being religious law.

            You are mistaken. Killing a member of the tolerated religions is murder, just like killing a Muslim. The results are not identical, with the details depending on which school of law you follow. Typically the diya is less than for killing a Muslim, but still substantial.

            What actual Muslims do may, as you suggest, not fit the rules of fiqh, but your comment was about the law.

          • Sastan says:

            @Sweeney, be as suspicious as you like. I’m a quarter Lebanese, much of my extended family is Arab and Muslim. I lived in the middle East for about three years. I was there for the religious cleansing of Baghdad, where a community of around eighty thousand was reduced to about ten. Not ten thousand, ten. I have personally bagged the burned bodies. So you stay suspicious, and I’ll stay in reality.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Sastan
            That sounds awful, and I uncast my aspersions on you (although they remain fully cast on other commenters). However, Iraq contains only a couple of percent of the world’s Muslims, and only a few of those burn Christians. Furthermore, there is approximately zero intersection between the set of Christian-burners and the set of Muslims SSC readers are likely to interact with, so I think it is very misleading to refer to “Muslim communities” as murdering Christians, without quantification.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @sweeneyrod et al:

            I was going to write my own rather long reply, but after Sastan’s much of what I would have said feels redundant. There is one additional thing that I think needs to be pointed out though.

            The hard-core Wahhabis who engage in things like honor killings and the occasional lynch mob may be on the edges, but they are not outside the Overton window. Saying …there is approximately zero intersection between the set of Christian-burners and the set of Muslims SSC readers are likely to interact with. Tells us much more about SSC than it does about Islam as it is currently practiced in a large part of the world.

            There seems to be a tendency among SSC readers to forget that we are the weird ones here.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @hlynkacg

            I was working under the assumption that discussions about Muslims were about politics, how we and our governments should behave regarding Muslims, discussing questions such as “Should our countries accept Muslim refugees?”. For these questions, the relevant Muslims are the ones that SSC readers are likely to interact with. Discussing another set of Muslims is like bringing up the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association in a discussion about English Catholic schools — irrelevant and potentially misleading.

          • Jaskologist says:

            The relevant Muslims are the ones who would come in through the refugee process (and their descendants), not the ones SSC readers would interact with. I would expect the average SSC reader to have next to no interaction with this group.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            @sweeneyrod
            As Jaskologist says, the relevant Muslims are the ones that we are debating whether or not to let in.

            By your own analogy, secularized western (rationalist-adjacent) Muslims are not representative of Middle Eastern refugees and introducing them to the discussion is, at best, missing the point and at worst muddying the waters.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Hlynkacg

            I think we disagree on what Muslim refugees are likely to be like. My sample size of one suggests “much more intelligent and liberal than the median citizen of my country”.

          • Outis says:

            The problem is that the muslims we are likely to come in contact with are middle-class, well-educated, and westernized. But also completely unrepresentative of their average countryman.

            This is a mistake that they themselves make all the time.
            In the Iranian Revolution, the bourgeoise joined forces with the Islamists because they thought they would be in charge; instead they got shafted.

            In the “Arab Spring”, they wanted to overthrow semi-secular dictators and have a democracy, only to find out that most people in their country voted for the Islamists.

            In Syria, the westernized bourgeoise supported the rebellion and we believed them, but then they were completely drowned out by the islamists, to the point that when the CIA wanted to arm a brigade of “democratic” fighters, they found maybe five of them. Now Syria is full of ISIS and the “moderate” faction is Al Quaeda.

            Even in Turkey, it’s been one century since Ataturk forced it to Westernize, and if you asked any Turk you were likely to meet in the West, they’d swear up and down that they were European and wanted to join the EU. But as soon as the army stopped intervening in politics and banning non-secular parties, what happened? They voted in a near-Islamist government, which is now trying to turn into a dictatorship.

            The Westernized bourgeoise in the Middle East are very nice people, perfectly capable of integrating into Europe or America, and completely irrelevant if you want to understand anything about their countries.

          • duckofdeath says:

            @Outis

            Pretty much exactly right. It’s sort of like how Bill Maher once said that there are enough Well-educated, secular liberals (read: Blue-triber describing his own tribe) in the USA to fill one or two european countries, it’s just that they’re surrounded by twice as many dumb theocratic racist americans (blue-triber description of the Red-tribe). There are maybe 20 or 30 million people in the arab world who could integrate into america or europe almost without a hitch (and until now this is the only type of arab most americans have encountered in their own country, though europeans aren’t so lucky), but they’re surrounded by probably 200 million religious conservatives and maybe 50-100 million who could fairly be described as islamists or jihadists.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ sweeneyrod

            I could go on for another paragraph or two but I think Outis & Duckofdeath pretty much nailed it.

      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        2) We’re so far from some sort of white nationalism now that worrying about them first and foremost seems odd. We’re at the point where the mainstream political response to an attack by Islamic terrorists is to call for a crackdown on “Islamophobia”. This is perverse. And it’s a large part of what’s giving the white nationalists popularity, as others have pointed out. If “good” has entered you into a suicide pact, “evil” starts looking like a viable option. Relativism is not dead; it’s still in charge. It’s certainly going to die one way or another, but I’d prefer that not be through Islamists taking over in fact if not in name, which at this point seems a LOT more likely than white nationalists doing so.

        It’s not perverse when the overreaction to terrorism is indeed the bigger threat than the terrorism itself. (I mean, it is perverse, but the perversity is on the part of the overreactors, not those condemning them.)

        By far the greater harm done to me as a result of 9/11 has been at the hands of the US government than at the hands of Bin Laden. If the government had just shrugged, dropped a few bombs on Afghanistan, and put a big bounty on Osama, then it would frankly have been pretty minor.

        But no, they have to start two huge nation-building efforts, lay down a huge amount of new financial (!!) regulation, start spying on everyone, and make air travel considerably more inconvenient and hassling.

        And it’s the same way in Europe: a couple of terrorist incidents, and it’s time to close the borders and vote in ethno-nationalists! Thus inflicting a far greater harm than the terrorists themselves would have been able to.

        “How many people have to die before we wake up and stop Muslim immigration?” I don’t know, but it’s a lot fucking more. It’s simply a question of “seen and unseen”. Some Muslim killing a bunch of people is what is seen. The actual benefits provided by the vast majority of peaceful, civilized Muslims are unseen.

        What should we do to stop Islamist terrorism? Frankly, I think “not that much”, because it’s not that big of a problem. But if we’re going to overreact to Islamist terrorism, how about we go over there and drop nukes on ISIS and Iran? Make the governments promoting Islamist terrorism surrender unconditionally (or obliterate them), and then threaten to give the same treatment to any new ones that spring up. Do I think would be worth the cost in money and innocent human lives? Not really.

        Yet I’m a hell of a lot more in favor of that than of restricting our own freedoms, including the freedom to associate with and employ foreigners. And hell, the vast majority of the immigration restrictions have no logical connection whatsoever to Muslim terrorism anyway. “Muslims are raping and killing everybody; therefore, let’s throw out the Mexicans!” That doesn’t even make sense!

        • onyomi says:

          This reminds me of how my mother is always going on about how the political situation nowadays is so scary and dangerous what with ISIS and North Korea, etc. etc.

          I say to her “…didn’t you live through the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War?” This does not convince her, somehow, that we are not living in an age of unusual geopolitical danger and unrest (when really, quite the opposite is true–but we get more reporting on it now).

        • Anonymous says:

          overreaction

          More like misreaction. Overreaction implies that it is broadly the correct way to deal with things, but taken too far.

          Want to remove islamic terrorism from Europe? Forbid muslims to live and travel there. This will be throwing the baby with the bathwater, sure, will have wide-ranging economic consequences, yes, but it will solve the problem of islamic terrorism at home. That’s, arguably, overreaction.

          The actual response undertaken by the US, at least, is blaming entities who had nothing to do with the attacks, destroying stability and actually making the problem it purported to solve worse.

        • Jaskologist says:

          He said “Islamophobia,” not the general War on Terror. The people who rail against “Islamophobia” haven’t opposed “nation-building” and internal spying for nearly 8 years now (indeed, the original Iraq invasion was explicitly Islamophilic, premised as it was on the idea that Muslims were being held back by repressive governments and would do much better if they could elect their leaders).

          By what metric is Muslim terrorism negligible, but Islamophobia a grave threat that must be combatted?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            By what metric is Muslim terrorism negligible, but Islamophobia a grave threat that must be combatted?

            To the extent that irrationally excessive fear of Muslim terrorism encourages people to e.g. close the borders of Europe to refugees and elect nationalist politicians who will “do something” about it, it’s a far bigger threat than Muslim terrorism.

            I’m not defending the idea that “Islam is a religion of peace”. Islam is a horrible religion that, when people follow it consistently, causes them to do horrible things. But then so is Christianity. The question is to what extent people are going to follow it consistently. The problem is not that people don’t consider Islam a wonderful thing. The problem is that people vastly exaggerate the degree to which the average Muslim immigrant is going to be motivated by it to carry out attacks. As a result they advocate measures that would be justified by the facts they imagine, but which are not justified by the facts in reality.

            That’s not to say I don’t think Muslim terrorism is a problem at all. And I don’t think the program of the left about what to do about it—more welfare, more multiculturalism—is correct. But neither do I think the plan of the conservative right is correct.

            As for nation-building in Iraq being “Islamophilic”, sure, to some extent. That is, it was motivated by delusionally high estimates of Iraqi people’s ability and willingness to spontaneously form a liberal democracy. However, I also oppose the fatalistic idea of “these people can’t be civilized; that’s just how they are”. The biggest problem with the nation-building was that they reversed the order of the goals: “let’s build a democracy and then expect it to turn out liberal”, versus a more rational policy of “let’s set up liberal institutions and then gradually bring in democracy”.

            If it had been done with the kind of mentality the US displayed in regard to post-Imperial Japan, I think it could have gone better. But that would also have been far more costly on the part of the US—and I doubt it would really have been worth it. And of course basically colonizing Iraq goes totally against the progressive (but also conservative, see nationalism!) idea of the self-determination of nations being the highest goal.

            But I digress. While to some extent excessively high estimates of Iraqis played a role in the invasion, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it was motivated and supported in large part—if not “Islamophobia”—then an excessive fear of the danger posed by Islamist terrorism. Obviously, Iraq had played not part in caussing 9/11. But do you deny that 9/11 played a major role in increasing American support for intervention in the Middle East and in Iraq in particular? Because I certainly think it did.

            And if so, then the reaction to the terrorism was the greater problem than the terrorism. Whether the reaction is specifically “Islamophobia” or something more broad like “Arabophobia” or “terrorismphobia” is not really something that excessively concerns me.

          • Anonymous says:

            Islam is a horrible religion that, when people follow it consistently, causes them to do horrible things. But then so is Christianity.

            That’s a strange thing to claim.

            A consistent paleoislamic interpretation yields a jihadi, someone who wishes to conquer all of the Earth for the glory of Allah, by whatever means, including otherwise immoral ones – including direct force of arms, genocide and deceitful infiltration.

            A consistent paleochristian interpretation yields a celibate, pacifist, martyr-candidate missionary, who goes around the world spreading the word and trying to convince others to do the same.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Anonymous:

            Until the Christian realizes that doesn’t work to bring about conformity to orthodox religious belief.

            Augustine had defended toleration for most of life. Why the change of heart? In 397 CE:

            In the first of the books [Contra partem Donati and Retractions] I said that I was not in favor of schismatics being forcibly constrained to communion by the force of any secular power. And indeed at that time I did not favor that course, since I had not yet discovered the depths of evil to which their impunity would dare to venture, or how greatly a careful discipline would contribute to their emendation.

            How persecution works. If a man

            sees that it is unrighteousness for which he suffers, he may be induced, from the consideration that he is suffering and being tormented most fruitlessly, to change his purpose for the better, and may at the same time escape both the fruitless annoyance and the unrighteousness itself … .

            Our motive is Christian love. Since we love the sinner and are concerned for his salvation, we must not ignore any methods, however distasteful, when “seeking with a mother’s anxiety the salvation of them all”.

            Also: “What then is the function of brotherly love? Does it, because it fears the short-lived fires of the furnace for a few, therefore abandon all to the eternal fires of hell?

            In 408 CE, a letter to Vincentius, Bishop of Cartenna and a Donatist:

            “I have therefore yielded to the evidence afforded by these instances which my colleagues have laid before me. … . [For example,] there was set over against my opinion my own town, which, although it was once wholly on the side of Donatus, was brought over to the Catholic unity by fear of imperial edicts, but which we now see filled with such detestation of your ruinous perversity, that it would scarcely be believed that it had ever been involved in your error.

            Coercion is not intrinsically right or wrong; it depends on “the nature of that to which he is coerced, whether it be good or bad.” In the letter to Vincentius:

            “Let us learn, my brother, in actions which are similar to distinguish the intentions of the agents …. In some cases both he that suffers persecution is in the wrong, and he that inflicts it is in the right. In all these cases, what is important to attend to but this: who were on the side of truth, and who on the side of iniquity; who acted from a desire to injure, and who from a desire to correct what was amiss?

            But not just anyone can use coercive force against another. Only the State may persecute. Individuals serve God by being faithful individuals, but kings serve God by “enforcing with suitable rigor such laws as ordain what is righteous, and punish what is the reverse.”

            “Let the kings of the earth serve Christ by making laws for Him and for His cause.”

            Now, if you want to argue that St. Augustine is not being consistent with Christianity here, fine. But then the liberal Muslims argue that the jihadists are being inconsistent with Islam.

            In fact, they are contradictory creeds; you can find arguments in them to support either peace or violence. The problem is that the arguments for the necessity of employing coercion to bring about the coercion of “obstinate” heretics to orthodoxy are very strong and convinced the leading scholars of Christianity for at least a thousand years.

          • Anonymous says:

            Now, if you want to argue that St. Augustine is not being consistent with Christianity here, fine.

            It’s not that St. Augustine is not consistent (I believe he is; there is more than one consistent interpretation of Christianity – but there is dogmatically only one correct interpretation), but that he is not paleo. By Augustine’s time, Christianity had ventured far ahead, in theological and practical terms, of the early Followers of the Way.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Anonymous:

            Fair enough.

            But Luther and Calvin, or for that matter the Anabaptists of Münster, considered themselves to be returning to “paleo-Christianity”.

            And their idea was eventually we’ll all live in peace and harmony. But first we’ve to got to build up the military power to resist the depredations of the Papists. Then we’ll bring the light of truth to everyone. Once we’re in charge, everything will be fine.

            You can make a case (and it’s not a terrible case) that absolute non-violence is the only true “paleo-Christian” policy. But it’s not a very effective policy. And it doesn’t take much to go from throwing money-changers out of the temple and “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword,” to: we should use force to throw the sellers of indulgences out of the “temple”.

          • Outis says:

            @Vox, there is a huge difference in the level and amount of violence sanctioned or directly practiced by Jesus and by Muhammad, according to both history and to the scriptures held as sacred by the Christians and Muslims, respectively. I know it would be more convenient for the argument you’re making if it weren’t so, but it really is. It’s not even a situation where you can sort of bend the truth a little to make it fit. If you insist, you’re just going to damage your own argument.

            I think it makes more sense to say that it doesn’t matter what Islam truly says; as long as people who call themselves Muslims can live a peaceful version of Islam, no matter how bastardized, that’s ok with us. And if letting them be watered-down Muslims is an easier path to peace than convincing them not to be Muslims any more, so be it. For completely self-serving reasons.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            “Vox, there is a huge difference in the level and amount of violence sanctioned or directly practiced by Jesus and by Muhammad, according to both history and to the scriptures held as sacred by the Christians and Muslims, respectively.”

            Vox is aware of that. The problem is that you can have faith x say “kill the unbeliever” 40 times and faith y say “kill the unbeliever” once and get both interpreted as “kill the unbeliever” (yes, I’m aware the New Testament doesn’t say that; it is an example of how severity in the text doesn’t have a 1-1 correlation even with literalism).

            The problem for Islam is it does in fact talk a lot about conquering others. The upside of this is it also has set limits on said conquest.

            The problem for Christianity is it doesn’t talk about how to run a society at all. You can do logical extrapolation, turn to the Old Testament or attempt to run a commune. Historically people have tried 1 and 2.

            It is a bit like the complaint about Marxism- sure it doesn’t demand gulags, but there isn’t really any other way to deal with the flood of individuals engaging in 1st degree yardsale.

          • Outis says:

            Skinner:

            The problem for Christianity is it doesn’t talk about how to run a society at all.

            I’d call that a feature.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            Why not both?

    • TD says:

      “Going by what you are saying, it is possible to view the whole “internet culture war” as a bizarre civil war between elements originating on one or two internet forums about a decade ago.”

      Somethingawful Vs 4chan?

      The funny thing is that they were much more like each other in the beginning. Somethingawful and 4chan largely diverged on purpose through rivalry.

      There’s also a parallel in that 4chan has generated nationalist ideology via ironic racism. In the case of somethingawful, the subforum laissez faire was taken over by jokers making up ever more extreme left wing philosophies like “Maoism Third Worldism” (not to be confused with Mao’s third world theory), which states that only third worlders are proletarian, and nowadays has sincere advocates (see Jason Unruhe). Eventually the memes became real, and the sub-forum became populated by proto-SJWs.

      • dndnrsn says:

        The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce?

      • Nornagest says:

        Yeah, Something Awful vs. 4Chan is like a textbook example of Robber’s Cave style phylogenesis. I hung out with goons back in 2002-4, and was casually acquainted with a bunch of channers; at the time, practically none of the distinctions we see now had evolved. They both had anti-authoritarian, centrist to center-left politics with a few libertarians, typical of the Internet at the time. Edgy jokes about race and gender but no real malice. No particular opinions on social justice, but rabidly anti-censorship. Lots of memes, with both accusing the other of ripping off their style (probably both were right). Full of anime perverts.

        4Chan was always a little cruder, thanks to its looser moderation, and contempt was always part of SA’s culture. But at the time the difference really wasn’t that dramatic. Over the next few years, though, SA slowly developed an image of itself as… not exactly clean-cut, but aloof, progressive, well-informed, sophisticated. Snobby, even. The SJW takeover in the early 2010s looked pretty sudden from the outside, but the culture had been evolving toward it for a while.

        Similar changes happened to 4Chan, but in other directions.

        • BBA says:

          Funny, I was only vaguely aware of goon culture but I feel like the same cultural changes happened to the webcomic community while they were happening at SA. I wonder if it was spillover from the goons or parallel development.

          • smocc says:

            I’d be interested in an overview of what you think happened to the webcomic community. I’m a webcomic fan, but I don’t pay attention to any community dynamics, so I’d be interested to learn.

          • BBA says:

            Maybe it wasn’t all webcomics, just the ones I read regularly. There wasn’t a sudden break or anything (except with Sinfest) and some of it is the natural dynamics of people joining and leaving…but it feels like 10-15 years ago the popular webcomics were smugly apolitical and the fan community had a decent mix of liberals and conservatives, Christians and atheists, etc. Gradually comics started getting more and more explicitly political, with the forums/comment sections becoming an echo chamber for social justice leftism, and that reinforced itself.

            I’m thinking specifically about Shortpacked going from an affectionate parody of the toy industry to being mainly about calling out misogyny/racism/anti-LGBT attitudes in media. Clearly some people enjoyed that stuff but I just found it tiresome – yes, it’s a cruel world full of cruel people, how many times do you need to say it? This affected me because I was a big fan of the strip and its predecessor. In fact the IW/SP fan community was my online “home” for years, and seeing storytelling and humor give way to ranting and outrage hurt.

          • Nornagest says:

            I think there’s an argument for it happening in the broader webcomic community. The popular early webcomics were (fucking awful, but also) generally apolitical, and often also one or more of: dadaist, profane, erotic, and incredibly nerdy. (Sexy Losers, for example, was all of the above.) As the medium matured, politics crept in, and the rest of that stuff crept out or was banished to niche corners, with a couple of dinosaurs grandfathered in.

            You could see a capsule version of the process in Dresden Codak, which has been around long enough to cover the whole arc. Its early comics were almost like XKCD or SMBC, except more adventure-oriented and less comedy. Later it got much more plot-heavy and less referential. While the comic itself was still fairly independent of politics at the time I stopped reading it, the Aaron Diaz brand as a whole grew a lot more oriented towards feminist and leftist cultural criticism, with his strongfemaleprotagonist held up as a model.

            (Now, said protagonist was and is blatantly fantasy-driven and often half-naked, but, as the meme says, that’s none of my business.)

            WRT SA, though, I think it’s just parallel evolution. The whole Internet’s gotten more politicized, and I don’t see SA’s specific brand of elitism in more comics than I’d expect to.

          • BBA says:

            The first explicitly political webcomic I remember was Sore Thumbs. It was extraordinarily awful, and pretty much everyone savaged it viciously. But what strikes me now in retrospect is just how much of the criticism was from a proudly apolitical perspective. “He cares about politics, and puts his views in his comics – how dumb is that?”

            Nowadays of course you’re more likely to be savaged for not wearing your politics on your sleeve.

          • Outis says:

            @Nornagest: Sexy Losers was not awful, though. And what about Sluggy Freelance?

          • Nornagest says:

            I think Sluggy qualified as dada, at least. And it… well, it wasn’t good, but I feel like I should qualify that. Comics of that era often look a lot worse in hindsight than they felt like at the time. Sluggy’s storytelling was practically nothing but rough edges, and the art wasn’t so hot either, but when all you’ve ever known is newspaper comics it was like opening a whole new world. In 1997, just being a comic that didn’t appear on the same page as Family Circus and wasn’t beholden to every busybody with a newspaper subscription covered a multitude of sins.

            It’s just that that didn’t last.

          • Jason K. says:

            I used to have a trawl of 20-30 comics and the websnark. If you don’t know who the websnark was, you don’t know the early-mid 2000s webcomic community (I am only half joking). I only follow 10ish today. I think two factors are at play.

            1: Artists generally lean totalitarian-left as it is. Progressive (regressive) thought is the strand du jour of totalitarian-leftism.

            2: Market forces. The vast vast majority of webcomics are offered for free. Ad revenue is typically not enough to sustain the effort. As micopayments failed to take hold and ad revenue collapsed, an artist typically has to sell merchandise in order to make a living. This encourages narrower, stronger fan bases vs widespread general appeal. The near fanaticism that progressivism breeds is fertile ground for such a business model.

            I would also note that a watershed moment appears to be coming in this regard. Some formerly apolitical webcomics are only stopping just short of explicit bigotry, with plenty of implicit bigotry. (I’m looking at you Jeph Jacques, David Willis, and John Rosenberg) I wouldn’t be surprised if this mirrors the current state of progressive thought in general.

          • onyomi says:

            I noticed this about QC. At least the other Scott A recognizes all his Trump talk is terrible for Dilbert, but, at this point, he’s got “fuck you money,” as he says. Not sure if that applies to Jeph.

          • Aaron says:

            Let me chime.in as someone on the left, who still follows webcomics but doesn’t participate in the community much.

            From my own experience I’ve certainly noticed a trend for webcomics authors to be more sensitive and aware, though this is in line with broader social moments (i.e. Jeph Jacques of QC who made some dumb transphobic jokes early in the strip’s run has a major and well-executed plot arc with a trns character.) But I haven’t noticed political themes coming to dominate in most of the webcomics that I read (except Strong Female Protagonist which pretty much gives away the game.)

            @Nomagest – Dresden Codak is amazing and I will fight you. It didn’t “become” plot-dominated. The first page of the whole strip is the beginning of the Hob arc, which while it indulges in silliness is extremely plot-driven. There’s one-offs in between the big arcs but it’s never been dominated by them.

            Also I’ve found Kimiko to be an interesting and compelling protagonist. Similar in a lot of ways to the Harry of HPMOR. When you insultingly call someone a “strongfemaleprotagonist” I parse it to mean one of a few things:
            -the character is female and made hyper competent for no apparent reason. Kimiko, though, has very clear canon reasons to be hyper-competent, in that she is the daughter of a famous scientist (… maybe) and totally obsessive in her chosen field. I defy you to say this is not a realistic background for a hyper-competent scientist/engineer.
            -the character’s hyper-competence is intended to cover up a lack of any interesting personality. Not true, imo. Kimiko is arrogant and short-sighted about consequences frequently, but extremely driven by her long-term goals and vision of a better world. She’s compassionate and hates the stupidity and cruelty of the world. She mostly seems like an involuntary loner, wanting friendship but too obsessive or awkward to hang on to it. Like I said – similar in a lot of ways to Harry from HPMOR.
            -Much more sexist parsing that I’m sure you don’t mean.

            So I disagree in the strongest terms.

          • Jason K, it’s hilarious if the hard left comics can only be supported by selling merchandise.

          • BBA says:

            Some formerly apolitical webcomics are only stopping just short of explicit bigotry, with plenty of implicit bigotry. (I’m looking at you Jeph Jacques, David Willis, and John Rosenberg)

            um, what? Sure Willis is full of anti-Christian subtext, but a major storyline in DoA is a fictionalized version of his own deconversion from Christianity so that’s to be expected. I stopped reading QC a while ago, but don’t recall any bigotry there – if anything Jacques has become too cautious to not offend anyone and it’s ruined his ability to tell a story or make a joke. (I never read Rosenberg’s comics and can’t speak to him.)

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Oh wow, mentioning David Willis/IW/Shortpacked really takes me back. I was in his circle of friends in the late Aughts and left because no one would stand up to his blooming Leftism. I didn’t think of it in political terms so much as the offense against reason of defending LGBT and Islam at the same time. I was on the path to Rationalism even then.

          • Shellington says:

            I was just reading a QC comic today where a robot character, after being insulted because she was a robot, told another character regarding discrimination that “You do not understand. You cannot, as a human. Therefore I do not believe you are qualified to judge”.

            I thought it was a ridiculous thing to say as I think most people have been insulted on the basis on an immutable characteristic and the idea that humans can’t understand bigotry is so absurd as to defy belief. Usually the comic is pretty apolitical, so when SJW ideas are presented, they stick out like a sore thumb.

          • Outis says:

            @Aaron: Dresden Codak is terrible. Nice art, but the writing is just revolting. Fite me IRL m8.

            @Jason: I was aware of who the websnark was, but never read him.

            I’m trying to remember the old comics that I read from back then. I remember Sluggy Freelance and Penny Arcade (still active, so they’re easy), Irritability (best comic), Sexy Losers (because it was mentioned), HorribleVille (though I only found this in archive form, so it may not count… and may not be that old in the first place), PBF (too new?).
            There was also some terribly drawn comic by a Japanese scientist (had nothing to do with science, though), I forgot what it was called – this one was objectively bad.

            There was more, but my memory is bad. Someone help me out. I track my webcomics with Piperka nowadays, but it wasn’t around back then.

            Edit: I just remembered MegaTokyo. Oh man. And it’s still going! What’s going on with the buttons on that blouse?

          • Jason K. says:

            Sure Willis is full of anti-Christian subtext, but a major storyline in DoA is a fictionalized version of his own deconversion from Christianity so that’s to be expected.

            I’m an atheist. I live in the bible belt and occasionally hear people say that people like me must be immoral and crap like that. Yet, the level of anti-christian bias was pissing me off. I stopped reading about a month ago, and at that time the only christian that wasn’t being made out to be an obstacle to overcome (the author stand-in exempted of course) was the one that was secretly transsexual, because of course, no transperson could be evil. There was not one straight male character in all of DoA that either wasn’t a joke or portrayed negatively. Toedad (evil), Blaine (evil), Walky (joke), Joe (joke/sexist), Mike (complete ass), and all of Joyce’s male relatives. In fact, you can pretty much draw a correlation between the level of masculine presentation and how evil the character is going to be.

            I stopped reading QC a while ago, but don’t recall any bigotry there – if anything Jacques has become too cautious to not offend anyone and it’s ruined his ability to tell a story or make a joke. (I never read Rosenberg’s comics and can’t speak to him.)

            It isn’t that he is too cautious to offend anyone, he is avoiding offending anyone on the progressive’s ‘protected’ list. For example: he gleefully pointed it out that he was going to annoy some people by rehashing an extremely cliche ‘man thinks a woman can’t be x’ trope a little while back. It was a dumb one-off that would have registered to me as just lazy if he hadn’t made a point of it.

            Jon Rosenberg did Goats and later ‘Scenes from a Multiverse’. Goats made it through alright, but scenes from a multiverse decayed as he tried to monetize it. I stopped reading that one about 2 years ago (I think).

            None of these authors have come right out and said ‘straight white men suck’ (to my recollection), else I would have called it explicit bias. I do notice who is allowed to be the villain or butt of the joke and who isn’t, and what personal struggles get the spotlight.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Sure Willis is full of anti-Christian subtext, but a major storyline in DoA is a fictionalized version of his own deconversion from Christianity so that’s to be expected.

            I wish I had known that going in. The only reason I kept reading Dumbing of Age as long as I did was because of Joyce; I found her joie de vivre and strong Christian morals appealing, and I was particularly interested in her relationship arc with Ethan. But then she converted from Christianity to Progressivism and broke up with Ethan, and I dropped the comic. Checked back after a while to find an arc about an evil, oppressive, gun-wielding Christian father whose lesbian daughter shilled college loans, and I decided that nothing of value was lost.

          • Jason K. says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            Jason K, it’s hilarious if the hard left comics can only be supported by selling merchandise.

            Yes. It is a variant of “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”. Eating almost always trumps politics.

          • Agronomous says:

            Let’s not leave out Order of the Stick‘s recent arc about vampirism acceptance.

            EDIT: Kidding! Kidding! While the team (except for Belkar) does learn the lesson that just because someone’s a vampire doesn’t mean you can’t trust him or work with him, it turns out to be completely the wrong lesson (because vampire, duh).

            And if you’re bored with the update speed, just do what I do: start reading again from Strip #0001. Pretty soon you’ll be at “Up a Level! Down a Level!” again….

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            Oh god they got to OOTS? I stopped reading a while ago because of the update speed and the fact that it was boring, but it was the first webcomic I read and I read it for quite some years. Sad to hear it got taken over with politics.

          • BBA says:

            @Le Maistre Chat: I’m curious, what forum/IRC name did you use? (I hate linking my more ephemeral identity to my more long-standing one, so let’s make it hard for Google to find: I was “b*e*i*n” on IRC and the same plus “s*a*n*e” on forums. I still use the longer version in some contexts and I’d appreciate not posting it here where it can be found.)

            @Jason: meh, all three of those artists are straight white men the last time I checked, and that kind of low-intensity self-hatred hardly counts as bigotry. If it starts reaching Sinfest levels you may be onto something.

            @jaime: I don’t think Willis originally meant his deconversion to be Joyce’s story, at least when DoA first started. It’s just that as he drifted further left he could no longer write her sympathetically if she was still a Christian.

          • Yli says:

            Haha no, Order of the Stick is great as always. The ‘vampirism acceptance’ comment has to be firmly embedded in cheek or it makes no sense.

          • Jason K. says:

            @Alex

            I think Argonomous intended that as a joke. The vampire turned out to have been evil all along and should have not been trusted per Belkar’s insistent recommendations.

            I believe OOTS is supposed to be in its final arc and the pace of the story appears to be picking up a bit (though not the updates).

            @BBA

            So this wouldn’t have been okay if it was some other group they were being biased against? If the group membership of the speaker matters, isn’t that an inherently biased stance in and of itself?

            My point isn’t that it is in-your-face, but that it has been building. I’ve noticed flare-ups in other places as well. The tenor is changing. This doesn’t come across as mild self-loathing, but brewing self-righteousness against ‘those people’.

            I stopped reading Sinfest about 6 months into its feminist conversion, so I have no idea how far it has gone now.

          • BBA says:

            I honestly have trouble seeing it as bigotry if the writer is directing it at a group including himself. Obnoxious, sure, but not bigoted. But then I freely admit to being a self-loathing straight white dude too.

          • Jason K. says:

            I honestly have trouble seeing it as bigotry if the writer is directing it at a group including himself.

            Uncle Ruckus to the rescue! (NSFW)

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I honestly have trouble seeing it as bigotry if the writer is directing it at a group including himself.

            Scott addressed this himself. Go to https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/ and start reading at “my hunch”

          • BB Rodriguez says:

            @Yli and @Alex – thankfully OOTS has been mostly spared, but it’s definitely had its moments. See for example the super cringey comic where Haley and Bandanna sit around talking about “oh man I don’t know why I used to dress so revealing” and “time was I’d hurl some gendered insults at you, but I’ve moved past that phase”. Basically Burlew transparently injecting feminist preaching into his strip. The worst for me was in the most recently published book, in the commentary Burlew goes on about how the reason Tarquin gets angry when the gang foils his plans is because he’s a straight white male, and is used to getting his way. So he can’t tolerate that a group with a black man, a woman, and a genderqueer elf (his words, not mine) are daring to go against him. Which, honestly, I don’t think the writing in the comic supports that interpretation, but he is the author I guess. He then goes on to imply that if you don’t like that, then you’re one of The Enemy and just as bad. Standard SJW rhetoric, in other words.

            I still read the comic, mostly out of a desire to see how it ends, but after that I have no desire to support the author financially any more. I read the comic (and, until the last book, read the generally-interesting author commentaries in the books) to be entertained, not preached at. So yeah, while the OOTS comic itself is mostly free of hamfisted social justice preaching, the author has definitely moved in that direction.

          • Nornagest says:

            Nerd fight!

            Also I’ve found Kimiko to be an interesting and compelling protagonist. Similar in a lot of ways to the Harry of HPMOR.

            Don’t get me wrong, I like Kim, as a character; she’s an arrogant, messed-up protagonist that does the right things for the wrong reasons, and that’s a character type that’s always worked well for me. I do have some quibbles about her exact type of hypercompetence, which worked fine earlier in the comic but aged badly as it got more serious; but that’s a theme issue rather than a characterization issue.

            But I don’t think Diaz is sending the message with her that he thinks he is. It is a fact that she drives a hell of a lot of fanservice throughout the comic. Now, in itself, fanservice is fine. But then Diaz goes on his Tumblr and condemns other writers for having their characters show a little skin, often in the exact circumstances and for the exact reasons that he does his. I don’t think he’s ever gone into detail about why he thinks he’s exempted, but, reading between the lines, I think it’s because Kim has that strong-female-protagonist characterization. Never mind that a lot of those other characters do too, nor that it’s not the kind of character that would have her posing for the imaginary camera on the regular.

            You could compare her in a lot of ways to her fairly obvious spiritual predecessor, Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell — who’s one of my favorite characters in sci-fi. The difference is that Kusanagi’s a more sexual character, and more importantly that Shirou Masamune is openly an enormous perv. Aaron Diaz is trying to have his cake and eat it too.

            (The Hob arc isn’t the beginning of the comic, by the way, just the beginning of the current archives. There were thirty or so strips before it, all in joke-of-the-week format, but got cut from the archives sometime in the late 2000s for, uh, reasons. I seem to recall they’re still accessible with a little input abuse but I forget how.)

          • Nornagest says:

            Ad revenue is typically not enough to sustain the effort. As micopayments failed to take hold and ad revenue collapsed, an artist typically has to sell merchandise in order to make a living. This encourages narrower, stronger fan bases vs widespread general appeal.

            It seems to me that the rise of social justice in webcomics happened around the same time that Patreon funding started to overtake merch funding, but that might be a coincidence.

          • BBA says:

            @Edward: I agree that in most cases, when a white person talks smack about “white people” (etc.), it can be assumed to mean “not me, those white people, the wrongthinking ones in the other tribe.”

            The thing is, Willis has said a few times that he means to include himself. He considers himself inherently bigoted against PoCs/women/LGBT/etc. due to his repressive Christian upbringing and is trying to make his comics as diverse and “tolerant” as he can in order to compensate. And I think he’s being honest about this – he’s got a lot of mental issues to work through and his family was legitimately nuts (unless he’s making up stories about them, in which case he’s REALLY got issues).

            I don’t know what to call that, but it isn’t just outgroup intolerance.

          • Protest Manager says:

            @ BBA says:
            April 25, 2016 at 6:25 pm ~new~
            @Edward: I agree that in most cases, when a white person talks smack about “white people” (etc.), it can be assumed to mean “not me, those white people, the wrongthinking ones in the other tribe.”

            The thing is, Willis has said a few times that he means to include himself. He considers himself inherently bigoted against PoCs/women/LGBT/etc. due to his repressive Christian upbringing and is trying to make his comics as diverse and “tolerant” as he can in order to compensate….

            I don’t know what to call that, but it isn’t just outgroup intolerance

            Really? He tells you he thinks he has “bad” characteristics because he’s still getting over “growing up part of the out group”, and you think that isn’t “outgroup intolerance”?

            I’d say it’s the Platonic ideal of “outgroup intolerance”.

          • Protest Manager says:

            @BB Rodriguez says:

            The worst for me was in the most recently published book, in the commentary Burlew goes on about how the reason Tarquin gets angry when the gang foils his plans is because he’s a straight white male, and is used to getting his way. So he can’t tolerate that a group with a black man, a woman, and a genderqueer elf (his words, not mine) are daring to go against him. Which, honestly, I don’t think the writing in the comic supports that interpretation, but he is the author I guess.

            Yeah, I looked at that, and I thought “you’ve got people of multiple different species around, and you (the author) are still obsessing abotu skin color? WTF?”

          • Rayner Lucas says:

            Nornagest:

            (The Hob arc isn’t the beginning of the comic, by the way, just the beginning of the current archives. There were thirty or so strips before it, all in joke-of-the-week format, but got cut from the archives sometime in the late 2000s for, uh, reasons. I seem to recall they’re still accessible with a little input abuse but I forget how.)

            Other than the ones currently under “Singles” on the Archive page, going back to 2005? If there are more, I’d love to know. I really enjoyed the goofiness of the early strips, although I’m still eagerly devouring every update in the current mind-screw of a plotline.

        • DensityDuck says:

          One thing to keep in mind about SA back in 2002-2004 was that Kyanka (Lowtax) was one of the aggressively anti-political people you describe; to the point where he started locking threads that talked about current events in the “general discussion” forum (there was a sub-forum where people were supposed to talk about those).

          And then he allowed an avowed Marxist to be the moderator of that Current Events forum, and things started getting weird (mostly because Kyanka’s style of forum management at the time was “whoever hangs out with me on IRC and is vaguely funny gets to be a mod, and I automatically process any ban requests a mod sends me”). At one point there were up to a dozen people a week being banned from the Current Events forum. This started to look bad for business–like, who’s gonna pay ten bucks to join a forum where you can be banned for not being Marxist?–and that’s when the “Probation” (temporary ban) was added as a forum feature.

        • Finbar says:

          SA has something called a “toxx,” which is basically a way of betting your account that some particular thing will (or won’t) happen. For example, someone posts, “Toxx for the Pirates winning the World Series.” If the Pirates do win the World Series, the poster gets bragging rights, but if not, he’s banned.

          In the run-up to the 2008 election, everyone was toxxing for their favorite candidate, and when Obama won, everyone who toxxed for McCain to win – that is, most of the active conservative posters – was banned. Most of them didn’t bother to buy their accounts back, so Obama supporters were able to define which points of view were Good and which were Bad (and Ban-Worthy). Another cull happened in 2012, when Obama won again and all the Romney toxxers were banned.

          I think these two events, more than anything else, were probably responsible for the takeover of SA – although they certainly happened within the context of the cultural trends you describe.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        I’m not sure how much was due to rivalry so much as architecture.

        If you get a bunch of SJ mods on SA, they can effectively put a $10 tax on saying something unPC. If you try the same thing on 4chan, everyone resets their modems and waits until the mods fall asleep.

        • Foo says:

          That’s an interesting connection: Metafilter also requires a $5 registration fee, and it’s also quite left wing. I believe they have a history of banning people for being insufficiently on board with SJ as well?

      • nil says:

        LF didn’t invent MTW, although it might have had some role in popularizing it on the internet. I remember reading MIM Notes back in the early 00s, which I’m 95% sure explicitly referred to MTW by name, and am 100% sure had the same theories (superprofits, worker aristocrats, revolution not possible in imperialist west) and stylistic tics (“Amerikkka,” etc)

    • Psmith says:

      the worst fears of those opposed to such immigration look quite similar to the traditionalists’ dream society.

      1. I think you exaggerate the relevant similarities. Many of the loudest anti-Islamic voices will happily argue that a traditionalist Christian society would be prosperous, peaceful, and happy, whereas a Muslim-dominated society wouldn’t. Consider for example the effects on human capital of generations of cousin marriage.

      2. As anon said upthread, my gott, pure univershalisht ideology. Thinking that this is a contradiction makes sense if you believe that there’s some sort of universal happiness/prosperity/eudaimonia counter floating way out in the interstellar void, akin to the national debt clock, and that your goal is to maximize the number it displays, but it’s quite a different matter if you think that whites are an extended family and that their survival and prosperity ought to matter more to you than other people’s (or whatever race you happen to belong to.). Traditionalist whites vs traditionalist Arabs and North Africans is not a meaningful distinction for you (potential differences in peace, prosperity, and so on aside), but it is the meaningful distinction for adherents of the relevant ideologies.

      Going by what you are saying, it is possible to view the whole “internet culture war” as a bizarre civil war between elements originating on one or two internet forums about a decade ago.

      True, and boy howdy is that ever something. Nydwracu has some mighty interesting remarks on this somewhere.

      • dndnrsn says:

        1. And the loudest Islamic voices undoubtedly think the opposite – from the outside, one conservative, patriarchal, repressive society looks quite like another when compared to a modern Western culture.

        2. It’s not the strongest contradiction in the world, I will admit. But not all social conservatives are “Christianity only”, let alone “white only”. Christian social conservatives who are more anti-gay and anti-feminism than pro-Christian are still often less enthused about Muslim immigration than a lot of socially left wing people are. What interests me is that weird dysjunction, where people who would do very badly indeed were Muslim conservatives to gain a significant voice are more in favour of Muslim immigration.

        I will cop to being more on the “deracinated rootless cosmopolitan degenerate” than the “blood and soil” side of things.

        • Luke Somers says:

          > people who would do very badly indeed were Muslim conservatives to gain a significant voice are more in favour of Muslim immigration.

          Let this would-do-poorly group be ‘G’ (whichever group that is, more than one fits). Here’s how I would justify that as a ‘G’.

          If they want to come here, it suggests that our system which is better about G really is better than theirs. That’s very affirming. Even if that’s not it, their kids will assimilate and be better about G – and in the mean time, they’ll be a tiny minority and so not a particular threat. ALSO, if they are worse about these things than others around them, it may repulse these people and make being mean to G less popular. Lastly, any G stuck in that culture should have the ability to get out.

          • Protest Manager says:

            Well, let’s see:

            1: Their kids don’t assimilate. What appears to be happening is the opposite, they and their kids cause the children of assimilated Muslims to be more radical and less assimilated.

            2: Tell it to the French. Esp. the ones no longer living in / near the Islamic Banlieues.

            3: If they actually cared about the G people stuck in Islamic areas, they’d be rabid fans of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, rather than fighting to censor her / block her from speaking out in public.

      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        whites are an extended family and that their survival and prosperity ought to matter more to you than other people’s (or whatever race you happen to belong to.). Traditionalist whites vs traditionalist Arabs and North Africans is not a meaningful distinction for you (potential differences in peace, prosperity, and so on aside), but it is the meaningful distinction for adherents of the relevant ideologies.

        Well, yes, that the collectivist-racist attitude that a great many people find absolutely repulsive.

        But my objection to is not that it isn’t collectivist enough, and that our collectivism ought to envelop the whole human race. It’s precisely the opposite: it’s too collectivist, and we ought to be individualists instead.

        When another white man claims to be my “brother” and that I owe something to him because we share the same “race” or “ethnicity”, that’s the height of presumption. You’re not my brother. I’m not your buddy, guy. You’re a stranger to whom I have no obligations, putting you on the same level as some Africans or Middle Easterners to whom I also have no obligations. And there’s no reason that the best of the “black race” should have any less value to me than the best of the “white race”, or why the worst of the white race should have any more value to me than the worst of the black race.

        [Note: goddamn this senseless word filter! There’s something in the following quote that won’t go through, and I can’t figure out what it is. So I had to remove it, and will try again in a reply.]

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          As Ayn Rand put it:

          R[x]cism is the lowest, most crudely p[x]imitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.

          R[x]cism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the c[x]veman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. R[x]cism is a doctrine of, by and for br[x]tes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various br[x]eds of animals, but not between animals and men.

          Like every form of determinism, r[x]cism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. R[x]cism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination.

          And why does r[x]cism appeal to “l[x]sers” in particular?

          Like every other form of collectivism, r[x]cism is a quest for the unearned. It is a quest for automatic knowledge—for an automatic evaluation of men’s characters that bypasses the responsibility of exercising rational or moral judgment—and, above all, a quest for an automatic self-esteem (or pseudo-self-esteem).

          Rand pointed out the problem with m[xx]ticulturalism:

          Today, racism is regarded as a crime if practiced by a majority—but as an inalienable right if practiced by a minority. The notion that one’s culture is superior to all others solely because it represents the traditions of one’s ancestors, is regarded as ch[x]uvinism if claimed by a majority—but as “e[x]hnic” pride if claimed by a minority. Resistance to change and progress is regarded as r[xx]ctionary if demonstrated by a majority—but r[x]trogression to a Balkan village, to an Indian tepee or to the jungle is hailed if demonstrated by a minority.

          What is the white n[x]tionalist response to this? “This can apply to us, too! We also need no reason to proclaim our culture superior except the fact that it happens to be ours.”

          My revulsion toward this attitude consists precisely in the fact that it is un-W[x]stern; it runs completely contrary to the distinctive intellectual achievements of Enlightenment civilization.

          Note: sorry for all the weird [x] formatting. I can’t figure out what the “taboo” word is. Is r[x]cism actually filtered here? That was the last one I tried, and it actually made it go through.

          • Jiro says:

            The taboo word is “r[xx]ctionary”. Apparently Scott didn’t consider anyone would use it as an adjective.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Jiro:

            That can’t be it, though. Because [x]ed that one out as the very first change, and the post still didn’t go through.

            It didn’t go through until I removed most of the instances of the word “racism”. That was the only change I made in the final iteration. But I left one in (by accident). And it’s in this post. So I don’t know what the hell’s going on.

            Before the “racism” pass, I removed everything else that seemed even mildly connected to wrongthought.

          • Dan T. says:

            Maybe it’s time for Scott to rethink the whole “tabooed words” idea… sure, it’s his site and if he wants to ban the word “rutabaga” or “antidisestablishmentarianism” he can, but having mysterious unknown word bans enforced by the software causes frustrations all around (especially for newbie users), and can hamper, obscure, or sidetrack legitimate discussions. Do these negatives outweigh the positives of sometimes halting, derailing, or discouraging the sorts of unproductive discussions that harm this forum (which it does accomplish sometimes)?

          • Seth says:

            It’s not clear if this is a tabooed word problem, or a generic spam-problem. Multiple copies of some words might get the comment spam-trapped, even if a single word is not a problem. Just a theory.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Test: Racism. Racism. Racism. Racism. Racism.

            EDIT: Doesn’t look like it.

          • Leit says:

            On the plus side, your American College Student Simulator appears to be working perfectly.

          • multiheaded says:

            Jaime: remove the “test” and that could be a handy tl;dr of a lot of your oeuvre.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Multi, do you want to know what a tl;dr of your output would look like?

            “Fuck capitalism. Fuck capitalism. I think I’m a woman. Spare some change? Fuck capitalism.”

          • hlynkacg says:

            I think both of you ought to take it down a notch.

          • Agronomous says:

            Whereas I think this is why popcorn was invented.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Is telling you two to get a room uncharitable? Unnecessary? Something else? I wanna do it anyway.

          • Luke Somers says:

            All of the above, but go ahead. People being mildly annoyed by others’ tests of weird censorship is all part of the fun for me.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            It’s hot, that trumps the three rules in my mind.

        • Anonymous says:

          When another white man claims to be my “brother” and that I owe something to him because we share the same “race” or “ethnicity”, that’s the height of presumption. You’re not my brother. I’m not your buddy, guy. You’re a stranger to whom I have no obligations, putting you on the same level as some Africans or Middle Easterners to whom I also have no obligations. And there’s no reason that the best of the “black race” should have any less value to me than the best of the “white race”, or why the worst of the white race should have any more value to me than the worst of the black race.

          So you disbelieve in outbreeding having a pacifying and pro-cooperation effect on populations? Or that the Jewish diamond merchants gained an advantage through their shared Judaism?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            His statement is about his beliefs (things you think in your head), your questions are about facts (things that are true or not true in the world), and therefore completely irrelevant.

          • Tom Womack says:

            I believe that being a small tightly-knit ingroup doing something which doesn’t need to be done by many people reduces the cost of trust enforcement among the small group; but ‘white people in Western Europe’ or ‘liberal people in the Commonwealth’ are not a small tightly-knit ingroup.

          • Furslid says:

            Race != Culture.

            Jewish diamond merchants had a lot more in common than genetics.

            If someone says “I speak the same language as you, I follow the same social cues you do, I have ethics that fit me into your culture, I follow a tit for tat strategy in repeated social interactions. It’s a good idea to treat me well.” That is a convincing argument coming from someone of any race.

            If someone says “We are more closely related than even race would suggest, as we both have great grandparents from the same Polish village. You don’t speak polish and I don’t speak English. You use tit for tat strategy in social interactions and try to avoid taking offense. I use a grim trigger strategy and have a touchy sense of honor. It’s a good idea for you to treat me well.” That’s not a convincing argument to me.

      • “Consider for example the effects on human capital of generations of cousin marriage.”

        Interesting question. The obvious effect would be to reduce the frequency of lethal recessives by filtering them out. Do you have any reason to think there would be a large negative effect?

        The Amish are pretty inbred, given their social system, and it shows up in some forms of birth defects, but their human capital seems to be fine–at least, they are successful as both farmers and small businesses.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          Evidently not.

          Anyway, the purging selection that you’re talking about is real and important on a population level but is naturally much stronger for lethal mutations rather than merely fitness reducing ones. There’s a big range between birth defect and death, one that widens the better our medicine gets.

        • Tibor says:

          Icelanders also seem rather inbred. In fact, I heard there is a database of family relationships on Iceland where a pair can look up how closely related they are and whether it is then a good idea to have children. In a country of 300 000 in the middle of an ocean, it is quite a big deal, I guess.

          On the other hand, I was told by a genetics PhD. student (she specializes in animal breeding, but I guess human genetics is not all that different and she should know something about it anyway) that even being against first cousins having a relationship and above all having children is, as long as it does not happen in every generation, more a social taboo than something that would actually lead to bad genes in the population. I think that the problem of the Habsburgs was that they were thoroughly inbred for generations with little mixing with others.

          Also (not 100% related, but interesting), it is remarkable that if you inbreed chickens for generations (this is actually what that PhD. student is doing, or rather she uses data from these inbreeding projects, the oldest one has been going on for about 100 years), always selecting for the most homogeneity of the genes, then you still see after all this time some heterogeneity which cannot be explained by mutations only. And it also happens in the parts of the genome which should not “do anything” so where the lack of heterogeneity should not severely affect the individual (so it is not that the other chickens would simply not survive). They don’t know why this is happening yet, though (also it is not clear whether something similar would hold for humans).

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Inbreeding does not cause* bad genes. It merely causes bad combinations of genes. As soon as there is a single generation of outbreeding, the problems go away. Probably what the geneticist meant is that single generation of cousin marriage increases birth defects a little, but not catastrophically much. But genes cause more than birth defects, indeed, more than health. A single generation of cousin marriage decreases height by 1cm and IQ by 5 points.

            * Inbreeding can change the distribution of genes by eliminating genes that are particularly bad when homozygous. It is usually good to get rid of such genes. But sometimes, like with the sickle cell gene, they are useful to keep around. Anyhow, the effect of inbreeding on the gene pool is small compared to its effect on the individuals.

          • Herbert Z. Oinlein says:

            Qualifying her evaluation with “as long as it does not happen in every generation” renders it meaningless.

            Obviously, two first cousins having children is not going to have a significant effect on the population, since two people can only have so many children together. And obviously, the children of first cousins are not going to be as worse off as children of first cousins from grandparents who were themselves first cousins, by great grandparents who were themselves again first cousins…

            The quantity to watch is runs of homozygosity.

          • keranih says:

            Regarding linebreeding/inbreeding and the quality of offspring –

            Inbreeding produces more uniform and predictable offspring. It is a useful tool for standardizing a population of offspring, so that improvements can be made systemically and rationally.

            If (for example) a group of sheep has wool of varying length and softness, with each quality impacted by several genes, adding genetics of (say) long dark wool will have a variety of impacts. Some genes will interact to produce even shorter wool, while other produce longer more coarse wool. But a uniform group of ewes which have the same genes bred to the same ram will produce offspring that have largely the same sort of wool.

            What is frequently missed in discussions of the usefulness of line/inbreeding is the absolute requirement to cull out suboptimal animals, and to also (frequently) cull out the parents of those suboptimal animals as well. Otherwise the average of the group as a whole doesn’t change much.

            This need for culling makes breeding discussions for humans largely moot, on grounds of morality conflicting with efficiency. Barring either a shift to actual (ie, as attempted in Germany in the 1940s) or effective (parenting licenses and/or forced abortions) culling, talking about linebreeding humans is of little use.

        • William Newman says:

          “The obvious effect would be to reduce the frequency of lethal recessives by filtering them out. Do you have any reason to think there would be a large negative effect?”

          “Large” is awfully subjective, but I will argue for “significant” anyway. It’s complicated, but the amount of effort that successful evolved species tend to put into relatively distant mating should suggest that it tends to be a pretty significant advantage.

          Trying to talk about the long-term negative effects is tricky, partly because it is complicated and I am no expert, and partly because the effects can be pretty sensitive to details that people don’t usually nail down in their informal description of inbreeding communities (notably the rate at which genes are leaking into the inbred community from the outside), and partly because the effects can be pretty sensitive to details that are only imperfectly known by anyone today (like how much the long tail of many slightly deleterious genes contributes to the effect).

          If the genes causing problems in inbreeding were sharply concentrated in a small number of lethal recessives, you could indeed enjoy the kind of sharp short term improvement you describe: after some generations, those lethally deleterious genes will be largely flushed out. But unfortunately although the notorious harmful recessives do tend to be very bad, there is no reason that total harm must be highly concentrated in a few notorious severely harmful traits instead of a long tail of cumulatively harmful traits (that not only you haven’t heard of, but that perhaps no one has identified yet). And it tends to take evolution by natural selection a long time to optimize combinations of large numbers of genes. (And while the process might be accelerated by natural selection on large effective breeding populations, inbreeding tends to reduce the effective breeding population at any given population.)

          • Herbert Z. Oinlein says:

            Deleterious alleles will naturally drift to low frequencies in any population with or without inbreeding. Inbreeding is harmful not because it propagates deleterious genes, but because it elides beneficial ones.

        • Herbert Z. Oinlein says:
      • Psmith says:

        And the loudest Islamic voices undoubtedly think the opposite – from the outside, one conservative, patriarchal, repressive society looks quite like another when compared to a modern Western culture.

        Well, yes. As I understand the ethnat position, they would say that looking at it “from the outside” is a fundamental mistake.

        @Vox, yes, that’s a perfectly reasonable principled opposing view. Though I do have to wonder whether there’s really a difference between collectivism over all humans on one hand and individualism on the other, given agreement on the happen-so facts of human nature. (Also, Rand’s argument seems to rest on a denial of HBD, which doesn’t strike me as terribly convincing.).

        @David Friedman

        Do you have any reason to think there would be a large negative effect?

        So Jayman and HBDchick have been arguing for a while that inbreeding at the level of generations of society-wide cousin marriage leads to increased levels of clannishness, and that this in turn leads to various negative social consequences. For example, they argue, highly clannish societies can expect to see more destructive long-running feuds, increased nepotism, difficulty saving (if you make a surplus, the appropriate thing to do is to give it all to needy members of the extended family), and so on. Also, more directly related to human capital, there’s the idea that manorialism and religious prohibitions on cousin marriage within the Hajnal Line selected for IQ and various kinds of prosociality.

        This is probably a good place to start if you want to see what they’re getting at in their own words: https://jaymans.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/clannishness-the-series-zigzag-lightning-in-the-brain/

        The Amish are pretty inbred, given their social system, and it shows up in some forms of birth defects, but their human capital seems to be fine

        That is a very interesting point. (Inb4 this turns into another argument about the Amish and “Amish” gets filtered.). Ashkenazi Jews, too, now I think of it.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Ashkenazim are not inbred compared to other European groups. I doubt the Amish are much inbred either. They have high rates of specific diseases because of a founder effect at a bottleneck. If they were inbred, they would have a great diversity of problems instead.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Actually, the Amish are inbred, F=0.03, at least in Lancaster. I can’t find good numbers on Arabs. People often quote F=0.02 for Baghdad, but that is just looking at a single generation of cousin marriage and not the compounding effects. Iraq is on the high end for cousin marriage, but Baghdad is on the low end for Iraq and compounding will be less in an urban area.

          • anonymous says:

            Ashkenazim are not inbred compared to other European groups.

            Incorrect.

            https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/jewish-inbreeding/

            Each member of each Jewish group (including Ashkenazi) is related to one another approximately as closely as a fourth or fifth cousin.

          • Mark says:

            Incorrect.

            https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/jewish-inbreeding/

            Each member of each Jewish group (including Ashkenazi) is related to one another approximately as closely as a fourth or fifth cousin.

            High relatedness is not synonymous with inbreeding. Razib Khan argues against claims of inbreeding here and here.

          • Cliff says:

            Coincidentally, fourth cousins have the highest fertility- any more or less relatedness reduces fertility.

    • JDG1980 says:

      This is something I’ve been thinking about – the self-described “traditionalists” tend to be among those most opposed to Muslim immigration, but the worst fears of those opposed to such immigration look quite similar to the traditionalists’ dream society. A “traditional” Christian society looks more like a “traditional” Muslim society, and vice versa, than either looks to a modern Western society.

      That sounds like outgroup homogenity bias talking. “Traditionalist” American Christians usually have in mind something like an idealized version of 1950s US suburban society, which is quite a bit different from what “traditionalist” Muslims want (often a return to the glory days of the Caliphate, if not the time of Muhammad and his Companions). In some sense, both groups want to return to the “past”, but it’s a very different past they have in mind. 1950s America is far more similar to present-day America than to a medieval Islamic society.

      You are right that there is a weird contradiction: in the one corner, you have socially very left-wing people advocating immigration policy that has the potential to make society considerably more conservative and more hostile to people like them; in the other you have socially very right-wing people proclaiming that they are defending their societies (which they tend to define on ethnic grounds), but simultaneously condemning those societies as degenerate (eg, the combination of mocking “SWPLs” and bemoaning the rising rates of illegitimacy, etc among the white working class).

      I’m not sure the right-wing view is all that unusual or contradictory. Psychologically, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about championing one’s society or culture in the abstract while simultaneously issuing severe condemnations of its present-day state. We see this in, for instance, the Old Testament prophets, or Cato the Elder and other ancient Roman writers.

      The left-wing view seems much more historically unusual.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        >I’m not sure the right-wing view is all that unusual or contradictory. Psychologically, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about championing one’s society or culture in the abstract while simultaneously issuing severe condemnations of its present-day state.

        I mean, the left does it too. Only applied to economic circumstances rather than social ones.

    • Viliam says:

      “Old-fashioned” neo-Nazis, KKK, their equivalents in Europe, etc are nowhere to be found

      Look here (1, 2, 3).

      • dndnrsn says:

        I did not mean that neo-Nazis, etc, do not still exist. I meant that the “old school” types are not to be found among the examples he listed of stereotypical alt-right sites – the leather-jacket-and-Docs neo-Nazis, KKK, etc are not part of the alt-right, whereas the green frog Nazis are. I should have phrased that a bit better.

    • Hlynkacg says:

      dndnrsn says: The illustrations in future histories are going to be weird.

      They’ve been weird for a while

    • You are right that there is a weird contradiction: in the one corner, you have socially very left-wing people advocating immigration policy that has the potential to make society considerably more conservative and more hostile to people like them

      Didn’t we learn anything from the past anti-immigrant advocacy? Almost the exact same dire predictions were made at one time about shtetl Jews, who were after all extraordinarily insular and fiercely loyal to what seemed like a draconian rule set. Or the Chinese, who were thought to be so horribly exotic that they’d never adapt to our culture, so laws were passed to specifically exclude them.

      I’m not an open-borders advocate. Of course there have to be limits.

      Still, plentiful experience has shown that living in America changes people, maybe not instantly in the first generation, but certainly by the second and third. Growing up in a place like Los Angeles is fundamentally different than growing up in a place like Riyadh.

      And maybe the Internet is narrowing geographic differences, but much more in the direction of making people in Riyadh more like people in Los Angeles than vice versa.

      • hlynkacg says:

        Still, plentiful experience has shown that living in America changes people, maybe not instantly in the first generation, but certainly by the second and third. Growing up in a place like Los Angeles is fundamentally different than growing up in a place like Riyadh.

        The problem as I see it is that we have a very vocal group of people who are trying to counteract this effect.

        I would argue that multi-culturalism is incompatible with liberal immigration. If you aren’t going to enforce cultural conformity, you must make doubly sure that the people you’re letting in have compatible values. The only alternative is to accept that Los Angeles will become more like Riyadh than vice versa.

  13. suntzuanime says:

    I wouldn’t normally plug my blog here, but some commentors had expressed interest, so I’d like to let them know that I’ve posted a threshing of the spring anime season: https://suntzuanime.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/threshing-spring-2016/

    • Anonymous says:

      Glad to see it! I’d begun to worry you had given up blogging these!

    • FacelessCraven says:

      most excellent! Enjoyed these greatly, and considering to picking one or two up for my semi-annual attempt to enjoy anime again.

    • Outis says:

      I think it would be even more effectively altruist if you did a post about the anime that survived after three or four episodes. Ideally, narrow it down to one or zero anime to watch per season.

  14. J Mann says:

    Vox’s Libya article is terrible. As far as I can tell, the position is (1) although the rebels had basically lost by the time the US/British/French coalition intervened, and although Quadaffi had publically stated he would not seek reprisals on anyone who fled Benghazi or sheltered in place without weapons, it’s possible that he would suddenly start killing 2 or 3 orders of magnitude more people than he had killed before; (2) although the current situation is undeniably awful, it’s possible that it will eventually get better — therefore, it’s at least not metaphysically impossible that we have improved things.

    Justification then:
    http://reason.com/archives/2011/04/04/obamas-war-of-choice

    Current situation:
    https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/09/29/un-human-rights-council-human-rights-situation-libya

    Now it’s possible Vox is right, but the same logic seems to apply to every other military action in the world. If our standard is “it’s not impossible that things would have been worse if we didn’t drop those bombs,” shouldn’t we look at W a lot more compassionately?

  15. Suppose someone invited you to an adventure that you had to keep secret, and it turned out to be really cool….

    The semi-sad story of how it worked out in the real world.

    Also, didn’t anyone think “Gee, that white oak slide looks kind of expensive, where is the money coming from?”?

    • Nornagest says:

      There’s the seed of a pretty good novel here.

      (Also reminds me of “The Game”, the 1997 Fincher film.)

      • There was also a GK Chesterton short story based on a smaller version of the concept.

        I’m mostly interested in the question of how people could have that much fun without it taking so much money.

        • Nornagest says:

          Good question. I guess you’d have to ask whether the people involved are looking mainly for a secret social club, or for a real-life adventure game.

          I think you could easily make the former self-financing, but you’d have a lot of trouble funding the latter without a large up-front price tag or sketchy multi-level buy-in schemes: every puzzle piece can be modeled as a transaction, and the money for that has to come from somewhere.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          I’ve often toyed with the idea of setting up two secret societies, each with the sole goal of infiltrating the other. Also, you could try joining a traditional secret society (the Freemasons or similar).

    • Dan T. says:

      In Worm, while the Undersiders (other than Tattletale) were in the dark as to who the mysterious boss funding their operations was, they mostly avoided asking embarrassing questions that would “look a gift horse in the mouth”.

  16. God Damn John Jay says:

    Relevant to Tribes / Outgroup / Belgium Discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JREkqCvLzSo

    From the movie Bernie (Richard Linklater director of A Scanner Darkly and Boyhood) a man being interviewed explains the five subdivisions of Texas. (I have heard it is twice as funny if you are actually from Texas)

    I will also vouch for the movie.

  17. Dulimbai says:

    People speak a lot of about “status” these days, but the definitions are murky. Does anyone know of any good academic review of the concept?

    When did people start to talk about status this and status that? Who did? Economists? Sociologists? Anthropologists?

    • I can’t point you at any academic works, but as far as I can tell, the term in its current internet usage originated from
      Impro, by Keith Johnstone.

      Anyone have any other point-of-origin references?

    • Creutzer says:

      Robert Liguori is right about Impro being the origin of the concept as used among the Overcoming Bias and LessWrong crowd. But I onced asked your precise question on LW and it was helpfully pointed out that social scientists talk about status under the names of “prestige” and “dominance” (which are different kinds of status).

      • Nornagest says:

        If those search results are anything to go by, they also talk about status — as a superset of prestige and dominance.

        • Creutzer says:

          Yes, I didn’t mean to suggest they don’t use the term “status” at all. They just tend to be more explicit about the subdivision into different kinds of status.

      • Viliam says:

        My guess: “dominance” is the aspect of status shaped by natural selection, “prestige” is the aspect of status shaped by sexual selection.

        • Anonymous says:

          Those are the same thing, at least in the animal kingdom.

          • Nita says:

            @ Viliam and Anon

            I don’t even know what to say, to either of you. OK, let’s fall back on the classics:

            1. What makes you think that?

            2. What would evidence against your hypothesis look like?

          • Viliam says:

            What would evidence against your hypothesis look like?

            My hypothesis suggests that whatever social scientists call “dominance” would apply across species (at least among primates), while whatever social scientists call “prestige” would be quite specific for Homo Sapiens.

            For example, if you would list top 5 typical ways each of these two categories manifests in humans, and then you would give the list to someone who studies apes, for the “dominance” list they would say “yeah, this is what high-status apes do, too”, while the things from the “prestige” list would either not apply to non-humans, or you would have to find an analogy, and probably find out that for the ape this specific thing is relatively less important than for a human.

            So the evidence against my hypothesis would be to find it the other way round, or to have no such obvious difference among the lists.

          • I don’t know whether this is relevant, but when I hear about dominance, I keep contemplating the fact that football players are controlled by people who are much less physically dangerous.

          • Matt C says:

            > Your understanding is surface level and idiotic.

            Someone here is showing a lack of understanding, anyway.

            I thought it was good to let the anon experiment run for a while and see how it played out over a few weeks. Minuses much more noticeable than the pluses, I’m afraid.

          • Nita says:

            @ Viliam

            My hypothesis suggests that whatever social scientists call “dominance” would apply across species (at least among primates), while whatever social scientists call “prestige” would be quite specific for Homo Sapiens.

            Um, wait. Your original hypothesis was about natural selection and sexual selection. Do you think sexual selection is specific to Homo sapiens?

            Anyway, here’s an example of social status. A family group of African elephants is led by a so-called ‘matriarch’, who is usually but not always the oldest female. Other family members defer to her decisions (when and where to go, how to react to the presence of lions etc.), and older matriarchs seem to make better decisions. Do you think elephants follow their leader because they fear her (dominance) or for some other reason (prestige)? Is this arrangement shaped by natural or sexual selection?

          • Jiro says:

            Football players are absolutely controlled by people who are more physically dangerous.

            You are equivocating on “controlled”. In this context, saying that a football player is controlled by a less physically dangerous person means that he obeys football-related orders from that person.

            The fact that the law forces him to obey *other* orders is irrelevant to whether the law forces him to obey the orders in question. If the owner tells him to throw the ball somewhere and he refuses, the owner can fire him and tell him to get off the property, but he can still refuse to throw that ball, and if he refuses, the law won’t make him do it.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Jiro:
            The sort of “control” exercised by a referee or the owner over an individual player is identical to that exercised by the police or a political leader over an individual citizen.

            A player can refuse to throw the ball and you can refuse to obey the law.

          • Jiro says:

            If a policeman tells you to do something within his area of influence and you refuse, he has a special right to use force against you that would not otherwise be permitted. If a football team owner tells you as a player to do something within his area of influence and you refuse, he does not. He can fire you and keep you off his land, but that’s something he’s allowed to do whether you disobey him or not; furthermore, if he does that and you still don’t obey the original order, he’s stuck with you not obeying.

            The anon tried to confuse matters by pointing out that the football team owner can use government force to get a player to obey the keep-off-my-land order. But that’s a separate order from the original one.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            And where exactly does that “right” come from? and what makes it so “special”? From my PoV that’s the part that smells like equivocation.

    • Earthly Knight says:

      Weber was talking about status (literally– it’s the same word in German) by World War I, so sociologists, probably. Contemporary usage seems to be a weird hybrid of the concept popularized by Weber and dominance as understood by ethologists, so maybe Schjelderup-Ebbe and Konrad Lorenz deserve some credit too.

  18. aphyer says:

    The prison phone system is a national disgrace. Predatory companies make deals with the government to get a monopoly on calls to and from specific prisons, then charge inmates trying to call their families rates that are orders of magnitude higher than normal. I have some patients with incarcerated family and they confirm that this is a big problem for them. The FCC has been trying to cap rates, but was recently thwarted by the courts. This seems to me like one of the clearest and most black-and-white political issues around.

    So, uh, I know I shouldn’t, but I really need to go on a libertarian rant here. The prison phone system is a national disgrace. The problem is that the government has instituted actively harmful regulations that allow well-connected and politically powerful rent-seekers to profit at the expense of less-well-connected and less-politically-powerful prisoners. Clearly the solution to this problem is to get rid of the actively harmful regulations ADD A NEW SET OF REGULATIONS TO (imperfectly and at some cost) COUNTER THE HARM CAUSED BY THE FIRST SET. If anyone suggests that it would be better to have a free market in providing phone service to prisoners, rather than have a government-enforced monopoly engaged in constant battle with the government over how much it gets to exploit its government-granted monopoly status, they must be in the pay of Big Prison!

    The Non-Libertarian FAQ says:

    It is very tempting for libertarians, when faced with anything going well even in a tightly regulated area, to say “Well, that just shows even this tight regulations can’t hide how great private industry is!” and when anything goes wrong even in a very loosely regulated area, to say “Well, that just shows how awful regulation is, that even a little of it can screw things up!”

    But, if anything, I’d say the reverse situation is much more representative of reality. There’s a path that looks something like this:

    1. There is a lightly-regulated market. It is good at ruthless economic efficiency and enthusiastic customer service and all the things markets are good at, but not so great at safety considerations and preparing for Black Swan events and all the things markets are bad at.

    2. The government steps in to ‘fix’ these ‘market failures’, by adding regulations that forbid people from doing whatever caused the last high-profile problem in the market.

    3. These regulations sorta-kinda-fix that problem, but at the cost of causing (more, larger) problems elsewhere in the market.

    4. GOTO 2.

    Is this overly paranoid? Maybe. But this does seem to be a frequently-recurring pattern. When US pharmaceutical regulations send the price of rarely-used drugs through the roof by driving competitors out of the market, the fix I’ve seen most commonly proposed is ‘leave the existing regulations the same, but pass extra laws forbidding drug companies from charging ‘exploitative’ prices.’ When US tax laws drive companies overseas by charging the same company wildly different tax rates depending on whether it is headquartered in the US or in Ireland, the actually implemented fix is to ‘leave the existing regulations the same, but pass extra laws specifically forbidding ‘exploitative’ mergers.’

    Anyway. Rant over. Sorry about that.

    • Nita says:

      Wait, so what’s the libertarian solution to the prison phone problem?

      • Anonymous says:

        There isn’t one – unless one considers anti-monopolistic government regulation to be “libertarian”.

        • TD says:

          A lot of the time “libertarian” is synonymous with “anarcho-capitalism”, but it shouldn’t have to be this way. I think it’s because minarchism is taken to be a reluctant concession, rather than an enthusiastic endorsement of a minimal state, and anarcho-capitalism is taken to be the most logically consistent endpoint after you ask “if the market can do 99% of things better than the state, why is that 1% so necessary?”.

          But minarchism is still a libertarian position. If you suppose a nightwatchmen state, and then you say “also, as well as gathering taxes for a national defense and police force, the state should split up monopolistic corporations” have you at that point suddenly left libertarianism? Yet, if all a state did was those things, the role of the state would be vastly limited and shrunk in scope compared to today. Libertarianism is a moving target.

          If you apply a libertarian critique of inefficient big government to all large organizations, you can even manufacture a reason for taking action against monopolies. I’d like to consider this the fusion of libertarianism and distributism (distributarianism?)

          (There’s always libertarian socialism, but then you are leaving the realm of private property entirely).

      • The libertarian solution to the prison phone problem is to permit prisoners to have cell phones, just like other people.

        • Dan T. says:

          “Why call ’em cell phones if you can’t use them in cells?”

          • Tibor says:

            Maybe that’s why they’re called mobile phones in Europe (and “Handy” in German speaking countries which is a basically a misunderstanding of an English word that caught up) :))

            By the way – another weird name for an everyday object is the Czech word “mikina” which means sweatshirt and is derived from “Mickey Mouse”.

        • BBA says:

          I thought the libertarian solution would be to not have prisons.

          • hlynkacg says:

            That’s the Anarchist solution not the Libertarian one.

          • “That’s the Anarchist solution not the Libertarian one.”

            It’s neither. One can imagine a stateless society in which some rights violations got punished by imprisonment, or a libertarian minarchy ditto. Or one of either that didn’t use imprisonment.

          • hlynkacg says:

            A stateless society wouldn’t have laws to violate in the first place. That’s what distinguishes Libertarians from Anarchists.

          • “A stateless society wouldn’t have laws to violate in the first place.”

            It would not have government laws. It would have rules about how people could or could not interact, and private (and probably decentralized) mechanisms for enforcing them.

            I can point you at either real world examples or an explanation of how such a system might work in a society more like ours, if you wish.

    • Patrick says:

      Given that prisoners collectively use a phone system provided and paid for by the prison and for legit reasons aren’t allowed their own phones or in many cases the money to buy them, what would a free market in prison phones look like? How is this not like suggesting a free market in prison food?

      • Tom Womack says:

        They don’t use a system provided and paid for by the prison; that *is* what a free market would look like. They pay out of the very limited amount of money they have for permission to use a system provided by the prison.

        Giving out a dozen individual-prisoner-specific (so untradeable) one-minute-of-phone-call tokens with each breakfast would be a fine solution; once the system is effectively free at point of use, the incentives for the prison-runners to procure it as cheaply as possible line up correctly.

        On the whole I’d rather allow the prisoners cellphones and have the prison run a single cell site which records both sides of all conversations and every packet of data passed through it.

      • J Mann says:

        You could have a “free-er” market, right? Let phone companies demonstrate that they comply with whatever security regulations the prison requires, then compete for business at the prisoner level.

        Regarding security – college student unions and airports seem to have benefitted from some competition (under tight security in the case of airports), I don’t think it’s necessarily false that prisons couldn’t benefit.

    • rockroy mountdefort says:

      The other day my car was wasn’t working right, so I – get this! – fixed it, instead of throwing it away and walking everywhere, instead

  19. Anonymous says:

    Vox has an article on the Death Eaters.

    http://www.vox.com/2016/4/18/11434098/alt-right-explained

    • Jiro says:

      Don’t you love it when an article quotes someone out of context and gives you a link so you can easily tell they are quoting the original source out of context?

      The article claims that a prominent NR “complained” that Trump wouldn’t take over. But if you read the original source, he says that he’s not for or against Trump because Trump isn’t going to take over. In other words, he’s really saying that Trump would only be important if he were to take over, but the Vox article is trying to spin this as thinking it would be good for Trump to take over.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wouldn’t it? It seems straightforward. If Trump were the kind of man who took over, then he’d be a good thing. Since he’s not, he’s meh.

        • Jiro says:

          “Meh” isn’t the opposite of “good thing”. “Meh” is the opposite of “good or bad thing”.

          The in-context quote says that if Trump were the kind of man who took over, he’d be a good or bad thing.

        • EyeballFrog says:

          While “I want someone to take over.” does imply “I want Trump to take over.”, the second statement has the implication that it is specifically Trump that you want to take over, not just that he is just one member of a class of people you want to take over. So while the second statement is factually true, it is still disingenuous.

          • Jiro says:

            While “I want someone to take over.” does imply “I want Trump to take over.”

            What? No, it doesn’t imply that.

            “I want anyone to take over” does imply that, but he clearly doesn’t want anyone to take over in that sense (that is, the set of people he wants to take over is not “anyone”).

          • Anonymous says:

            “I want anyone to take over” does imply that, but he clearly doesn’t want anyone to take over in that sense (that is, the set of people he wants to take over is not “anyone”).

            God calling down from the heavens and placing the Imperial Crown of America on the head of a random American – anyone – would be a superior outcome to keeping the ongoing ritualized power struggle that’s been in place for the last 200 years.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      As far as guides to the alt-right go, I prefer Milo’s article over at Breitbart.

      http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/29/an-establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right/

      • FacelessCraven says:

        oh man, the picture on that one!

      • Forlorn Hopes says:

        I liked Milo&Alum’s article for presenting a different view to… just about everyone else outside the alt right but I think they soft balled it.

        That said, their thesis that the alt-right spells the death of the current Republican coalition is interesting, but again I think they’re overplaying the importance of Moldbug style thinking – which seems to be play a small, if any part, in the Trump phenomenon. How important channers and similar netizens are to Trump; and how connected the netizens are to Moldbug style thinking is beyond my area of expertise.

        Still. That picture of Pepe as the ghost of Christmas Future, I want it framed in fancy art galleries. It’s amazing.

    • Anon. says:

      Why do people insist on confusing Lean On The Action Berries and the Alt-R? They have literally nothing in common.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        Alt-Right doesn’t mean anything anymore (I’m told it meant something back in the day), the only thing these groups have in common is that they disagree with Lefties in the internet, they might as well call them Social Injustice Warriors.

        On the brigth side, the article cites Scott as a source (yay ingroup!).

        • God Damn John Jay says:

          Alt-Right is anyone who can quote a Charles Murray book approvingly (That isn’t Coming Apart)

          • I found “By the People” pretty uncompelling, actually. It makes me think we might have too much workplace regulation, but I don’t see that as the same as vigorous repression on a daily basis.

            And if you don’t tackle entitlements, what’s the point?

          • Wrong Species says:

            I think Murray’s book are great and I find the idea of being lumped in with the alt right revolting. The alt right is just politicized 4chan. It’s nothing I want to be a part of.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            That’s great and all, but you’re not the one setting the terms.

            Neither are we, mind you. We’re just speculating as to what they might be.

        • J Mann says:

          “Social injustice warriors” is hilarious, thanks!

          I was seriously thinking of referring to a few of the subgroups as “formal justice warriors” or “classic justice warriors.”

          • Nornagest says:

            I like “formal justice warriors”. Less mean-spirited, conveys the position in ideology-space more accurately, but still clearly uncomplimentary.

            Works better as a label for the Death Eaters than the alt-right at large, though.

      • Anonymous says:

        They have literally nothing in common.

        I think that by “literally” you mean “figuratively” and that you are wrong even then. The Death Eaters and the Alt-Right have plenty of things in common, starting with their right-wing affiliation just like WHTA says. Neither of them are particularly prevalent among the general public, and they are both far from the levers of power. I think they both spring from the same fount – heresy against the prevailing progressive ideology. It’s just that the Death Eaters are the result of that heresy taking root among the intellectual elites, and the broader Alt-Right is the result of it among the common people.

        Two sides of the same coin.

        • TD says:

          The real difference is that in theory Death Eaters are anti-populism and mass movement, whereas the alt-right favor mass mobilization and traditional politicking.

          Incidentally, this is why the alt-right are far more dangerous than the Death Eaters. The grouping “alt-right” also gets more dangerous the broader it gets (recently assisted by Breitbart’s whitewashing of the far-right; thanks Milo), since this creates a coalition in which liberal conservatives swim along with fascists against a common enemy, making it harder to isolate the far-right types. The reason it can be broadened so far in the first place is because it started with populism in mind. Previously, the ethno-nationalists were walled off from the rest of the right, but in the rush to combat social justice, a dangerous ambiguity has been allowed about liberal principles. It’s just memes! They’re the new hippies!

          • Anonymous says:

            >Incidentally, this is why the alt-right are far more dangerous than the Death Eaters.

            I’m sure the Death Eaters are delighted that you think so.

          • JDG1980 says:

            Incidentally, this is why the alt-right are far more dangerous than the Death Eaters. The grouping “alt-right” also gets more dangerous the broader it gets (recently assisted by Breitbart’s whitewashing of the far-right; thanks Milo), since this creates a coalition in which liberal conservatives swim along with fascists against a common enemy, making it harder to isolate the far-right types. The reason it can be broadened so far in the first place is because it started with populism in mind. Previously, the ethno-nationalists were walled off from the rest of the right, but in the rush to combat social justice, a dangerous ambiguity has been allowed about liberal principles.

            How is this any different than the anti-Communist coalition during the Cold War? That coalition included everything from mainstream social-democratic liberals to centrists to standard Red State conservatives to John Birchers and libertarians (the closest predecessors of today’s Alt-Right, IMO) all the way to authoritarian dictators and outright fascists. Yet we still muddled through without surrendering to fascism. Historically, neither fascists nor Communists generally take over a society unless there are no credible mainstream alternatives. Therefore, if you’re worried about preventing the rise of fascism, the solution isn’t to beat up alleged fascists in the street or even to ‘no-platform’ them, but to deal with the conditions that makes them seem like a credible alternative to liberal social democracy.

            Why is an anti-SJW coalition forming? I think a lot of people instinctively realize that SJWs are totalitarians at heart. They don’t yet have the power to murder millions as the Communists did, but there is absolutely no doubt they would if they could. The personality type is no different than Mao’s Red Guards, or the extremist sans-culottes of the French Revolution, or the Spanish Inquisitors.

          • TD says:

            @JDG1980

            “That coalition included everything from mainstream social-democratic liberals to centrists to standard Red State conservatives to John Birchers and libertarians (the closest predecessors of today’s Alt-Right, IMO) all the way to authoritarian dictators and outright fascists.”

            Ah, but the authoritarian dictators and para-fascists were mostly in non-Western countries. Except places like Spain and Greece, but in the Spanish case the actual fascists and natsocs were marginalized by some clever maneuvering by Franco, and in most of the other cases we kept a lid on the ethno-nationalist elements. Most of the third world right wing dictatorships were more authoritarian right associated with CIA propped up juntas rather than ethno-nationalist populists.

            In the West, there was an attendant Brown Scare to go along with the Red Scare, and there simply weren’t the conditions to make populist ethno-nationalism an electoral force (except maybe in the 70s for the UK) until now. We are coming back around to Nazism due to a historical default of the left on the migrant crisis as well as issues of race in which they have failed to stick to the liberal principle of equality before the law. The alt-right is the internet side of something that is happening electorally, with coalitions forming to block out hard right parties in France and Sweden. Ideally, we’d be coming back around to civic nationalism, but we’ve spent so much time conflating different kinds of nationalism with the Nazis that when the status quo falters that is exactly who people turn to for answers. The left has cried wolf for so long – and yes, they deserve some blame for that – but now the wolves are actually here, and we should do something about them.

            “Therefore, if you’re worried about preventing the rise of fascism, the solution isn’t to beat up alleged fascists in the street or even to ‘no-platform’ them, but to deal with the conditions that makes them seem like a credible alternative to liberal social democracy.”

            I never said we should “no platform” them, but we should openly express our burning contempt for them, and make pains to distinguish civic nationalism and control of borders from digusting ethno-jihadist projects that come bundled with a desire to destroy enlightenment achievements as surely as any Islamist.

            The left has tried to bunch these two things together because it’s convenient for them, but if the era of cultural relativism is over, then what comes next is a battle between different visions of the nation-state; will the West consist of nation-states that believe in the liberal tradition and the proposition nation, or will it consist of nation-states that define nation by how “Aryan” you are, and pull liberalism and all its well grounded principles out by the root to be thrown in the dustbin?

            Of course, we need to argue against this and present a case for why liberalism is good, but I am not an idealist. I’m a materialist, and I believe that liberalism is not a set of natural rights, but an aspirational project that invokes positive feedback loops. What this means is that liberalism should be prepared to defend itself, both at its borders, and within.

            Yes, the fascists and national-socialists and “national-libertarians” deserve free speech, but they do not deserve our endorsement. What they deserve is a warning: if you start the fire, it will burn you. If the ethno-nationalist contingent actually start to take over, whether they are beating people in the streets, or whether they come in suits and ties to win votes, if they attempt to enact their vision for society, they must be resisted with all means necessary, including violence. Violence must be on the table somewhere, not for speech, but as a defense against the violence they are busy now planning. Their plans for violence are quite real, and deserve a theoretical counter-point.

            “Why is an anti-SJW coalition forming? I think a lot of people instinctively realize that SJWs are totalitarians at heart. They don’t yet have the power to murder millions as the Communists did, but there is absolutely no doubt they would if they could. The personality type is no different than Mao’s Red Guards, or the extremist sans-culottes of the French Revolution, or the Spanish Inquisitors.”

            And the people I’m talking about are really no different from the Nazis. The great mistake of our times would be to believe that the people with frog avatars on twitter are joking. Though you may laugh at his gleeful flaunting of taboo, Nazi pepe is quite serious about his feelings on the Jews.

            We are now in an era where taiwanese shitposting boards can have a major influence on youth culture, and therefore the future of politics, as absurd as it sounds. Much of the impetus for the alt-right, owes its genesis to chan culture which was always steeped in “ironic” racism. Without /pol/ you don’t get TRS, and MPC, and without any of those you don’t see Schlomo memes starting to creep slowly into every politics video on Youtube. Perhaps without them, internet Nazism would have been for the oldies on StrmFrnt. (Incidentally, a large number of key figures in the modern social justice movement were prominent posters on somethingawful back in the day, the site that in part led to 4chan).

            Recently, Breitbart came out with an article trying to aryanwash the whole thing after the Tay incident made major news networks. Apparently, the “dank memers” (Jesus) are just messing around when they say they want to gas the Jews constantly day in day out, whereas only the nasty humorless “1488ers” are for real, and there’s not many of those, so its okay.

            Only everyone else knows that the “1488ers” and the “dank memers” are the exact same people. They don’t promulgate Nazism with long and dry pamphlets, they promulgate it by using the power of subversive humor. If you actually visit their sites, you can see widespread acceptance of the idea that this is how Nazism will become popular again, not wrapped in the flag holding a cross, but wrapped in a blanket holding chicken tendies, and for whatever reason this crazy strategy is working. Everyone who has any connection to the grassroots groundswell of avant garde internet rightism knows this. There is a three pronged (and almost certainly uncoordinated) attack; intellectual blogposts for the sophisticated, internet memes for the young, and new alternate politicians like Donald Trump for the normies. And those memes have the power to move the Overton Window, meaning that in say, 10 years, ethno-nationalism could become mainstream purely via osmosis. The ground environment is right for it.

            Take racist memes seriously. Maybe Ramzy Paul is right when he says the alt-right are the new hippies, but that’s what scares me.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            [CW: This whole response is a discussion of rude and taboo humor, particularly about racism. I am linking to a couple examples that are pretty undeniably rude, insensitive, or offensive.]

            @TD – “Only everyone else knows that the “1488ers” and the “dank memers” are the exact same people.”

            I really think you are wrong about this. While I can certainly believe that some of the people being shockingly racist on the chans are actually invested in racism, and some fraction of that set are intentionally hoping the memes work as propaganda, I am highly confident that the number of people in it for the propaganda is several orders of magnitude smaller than the people in it for the transgressiveness. I can point to their attacks on Hal Turner that spilled over into skirmishing with Strmfrnt to support that. What other than the memes themselves, are there actions you can point to in support of your conclusion?

            “Without /pol/ you don’t get TRS, and MPC, and without any of those you don’t see Schlomo memes starting to creep slowly into every politics video on Youtube.”

            The last “schlomo meme” I’ve seen on youtube was in a World of Tanks player’s compilation reel: [CW: A wide variety of very rude things, starting with the title]. (the meme in question starts around 0:25 in, if you care to check.) I’m fairly sure the player who made it is himself jewish.

            Taboo humor is extra-hilarious, and to the degree that they can avoid crippling consequences for it a large percentage of people are going to enjoy it as much as they can, particularly when there is no concrete, serious harm obviously resulting. Correct me if I’m wrong, but our society is safer than it ever has been, and a good chunk of the racial conflict is over microaggressions as opposed to people murdering each other in the street. How confident are you that the refusal to take racism seriously is a worse approach than the default of taking it super-seriously?

            I am not confident that taboo humor is actually a good thing; it tends to not be very nice, just for starters. I am pretty confident that doubling down on the taboo is probably not going to help.

            “And those memes have the power to move the Overton Window, meaning that in say, 10 years, ethno-nationalism could become mainstream purely via osmosis. ”

            I agree that transgressive humor has the power to move the overton window, but I do not think it moves in the direction you do. I think you are mistaking a rejection of dogmatic political correctness for an embrace of its opposite. Again, given that this has been going on for a decade or more, shouldn’t we be seeing some measurable real-world harm by now? And no, I don’t think Trump’s candidacy itself is sufficient evidence.

          • TD says:

            @FacelessCraven

            “I really think you are wrong about this. While I can certainly believe that some of the people being shockingly racist on the chans are actually invested in racism, and some fraction of that set are intentionally hoping the memes work as propaganda, I am highly confident that the number of people in it for the propaganda is several orders of magnitude smaller than the people in it for the transgressiveness. I can point to their attacks on Hal Turner that spilled over into skirmishing with Strmfrnt to support that.”

            That was back in 2007-8. Anonymous, the activist group would eventually split off from 4chan and do its own thing too. The center of gravity was different back then. The doin it for the lulz longcat is long era is well over, but the same approach to humor has been transferred to other topics.

            The casual and sporadic ironic racism found on /b/ back then hadn’t transmogrified into widespread nationalist advocacy at that point. /n/ was still a small board, but the seed was growing. Eventually, the news board started to turn right wing and nationalist, so m00t shut it down. With various shenanigans in-between, the board eventually came back as /new/, before being shut down for similar reasons. Finally, in October of 2011, /pol/ was made and has existed ever since (and spread to alternate chans due to Ants). Considering that 2012 was when Anta Srksssn started proposing TrpsvsWmn, and also the year that the AthsmPls stuff went down, this is important. There was a pre-ants building up of social justice hullabaloos on the internet, and the /pol/ board exploded in size perhaps in response (many forget that Ants was not only a /v/ project, but was initially heavily assisted by /pol/, but that’s largely forgotten as things spread to reddit, youtube, and twitter).

            Around this time, various right wing blogging sources began to become more popular, and Death Eaterism, which owes its principal source to Mldbgg back in 2007 also went through an explosion in terms of number of blogs (Death Eaterism would largely die down and be replaced by the alt-right, due to inter-fighting, and alt-right people actively trying to break them up, or replace them with white nationalism, such as in the case wev aurnhmr trolling of mchl assnmv) before being outcompeted in 2013-2015 by what would later become known as the alt-right.

            I spent a lot of time watching these blogs appear and evolve over time. TRS, which started with some Death Eater influence, gradually due to feedback from the comment section became /pol/ 2.0, and was largely responsible for popularizing the “cuckservative” meme on twitter. They organized extensive daily raids of the comment sections of mainstream conservative news outlets like NRO. Sites like Dly Strmr have also seen steadily increasing traffic over time.

            I don’t think it can be denied that white nationalism is more popular on the internet than it was back in the midlate-2000s. I think chan style memes have been involved in spreading it. You are far more likely to see green frogs wearing SS caps on the internet today than you ever were.

            “The last “schlomo meme” I’ve seen on youtube was in a World of Tanks player’s compilation reel: [CW: A wide variety of very rude things, starting with the title]. (the meme in question starts around 0:25 in, if you care to check.) I’m fairly sure the player who made it is himself jewish.”

            That’s the cloaking effect! I possess a crude and dark enough sense of humor to find it very funny, but I think osmosis will pay its toll on discourse. Good memes have a point. People can use the memes because they are funny, but I don’t see how this can’t be priming people to take dangerous forms of racism less seriously.

            Donald Trump putting Bernie Sanders into a gas chamber is a funny meme because it parodies the sort of hysterical approach on the left towards even marginally civic nationalist politicians. The thing is, Donald Trump putting Bernie Sanders into a gas chamber can also be funny because you think the holocaust itself was funny. Fuck. I’m smiling as I’m typing this, and just for the record here: I think the holocaust was a horrible human tragedy.

            The danger is that when someone 16 years old today thinks of the holocaust, they don’t think of the horrors of ethnic genocide and piles of real dead bodies that were once human beings with lives and feelings, they instead think of a grinning cartoon goblin crying “oy vey goyim muh six million”.

            If images and memes mocking the idea of the holocaust become more ubiquitous than memes associated with the horror and sadness of genocide, then you’ve got problems.

            It’s getting harder and harder for me to find a video on something like the refugee crisis and NOT see accounts named things like Schlomo Sheklebergstein III telling us what the real problem is. It’s even creeping into unrelated videos. It was in a containment zone before, but someone found a way to market it, and here we are.

            Donald Trump himself isn’t an antisemite, but it’s hard to find a Youtube vid (so we aren’t talking fringe here), without comments implying that he’ll do something about them. There seems to be a lot of people out there who really believe that Donald Trump is just pretending to like Jews until he can take over.

            “Taboo humor is extra-hilarious, and to the degree that they can avoid crippling consequences for it a large percentage of people are going to enjoy it as much as they can, particularly when there is no concrete, serious harm obviously resulting. Correct me if I’m wrong, but our society is safer than it ever has been, and a good chunk of the racial conflict is over microaggressions as opposed to people murdering each other in the street. How confident are you that the refusal to take racism seriously is a worse approach than the default of taking it super-seriously?”

            Are you American? I live in the UK, and Europe looks like its going from bad to worse to me. Frankly, I can see the seeds of a civil war brewing. From the financial crisis and now into the migration crisis. It’s not just about microaggressions and triggering and so on. The internet battleground is providing context to serious geopolitical issues, and the memes are acting as a lubricant for that process.

            “Again, given that this has been going on for a decade or more, shouldn’t we be seeing some measurable real-world harm by now? And no, I don’t think Trump’s candidacy itself is sufficient evidence.”

            I would say that it hasn’t been going on for a decade or more. Not this phase of it. There was a critical turning point in 2012. I can’t say for sure what it was, maybe a confluence of things, but it seems like it’s picking up speed now. Barack Obama got re-elected meaning that rebelliousness was oriented to the right (whereas under Bush it was to the left, which may explain earlier 4chan), all the social justice stuff happened online (TrpsVsWmn, Athsm Plss, and others), leading up to Ants in August 2014, which finally broke through into the mainstream media (thereafter creating an accelerating feedback loop). I start hearing hand me down versions of what happened about from casual acquaintances in their 40s, and its all about harassment. Then Ants was named as a problem by burgeoning world leaders like Justin Trudeau, showing that it was no longer a fringe thing. In 2015, the migrant crisis started due to the conflict in Syria, the attending issue of ISIS, and the wrecked border control of post-Gadaffi Libya (no Vox; it was a bad idea), leading to a further acceleration towards inevitable doom. The internet responded, and all the threads which seem to lead back to /pol/ began to coalesce into this alt-right thing.

            Political polarization may not be harm, but it’s more suggestive that future harm may be in the cards than what the internet looked like back in 2000-2011. Was I on the wrong websites back then, or are things really worse now? I’m going to bank on the fact that it’s worse, because all the forums I was on, in some cases long standing, tore themselves apart since 2012 over this, whatever you want to call it. Something is happening.

            Obligatory Yeats:
            Turning and turning in the widening gyre
            The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
            Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
            Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
            The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
            The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
            The best lack all conviction, while the worst
            Are full of passionate intensity.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            The thing is, Donald Trump putting Bernie Sanders into a gas chamber can also be funny because you think the holocaust itself was funny

            Well, I don’t know about you, but I do find the Holocaust to be heilarious.

          • Anonymous says:

            We are coming back around to Nazism due to a historical default of the left on the migrant crisis as well as issues of race in which they have failed to stick to the liberal principle of equality before the law. The alt-right is the internet side of something that is happening electorally, with coalitions forming to block out hard right parties in France and Sweden. Ideally, we’d be coming back around to civic nationalism, but we’ve spent so much time conflating different kinds of nationalism with the Nazis that when the status quo falters that is exactly who people turn to for answers. The left has cried wolf for so long – and yes, they deserve some blame for that – but now the wolves are actually here, and we should do something about them.

            (Chopped out this block for convenience, but other parts of your and other people’s comments illustrate more-or-less the same point.)

            The thing about all of this that is really surreal, to the point of Moldbuggery, is the idea that the real danger of e.g. radical Islamists actually killing and raping without consequence is that the wrong party will get elected as a consequence. Your so-called civic nationalists and liberal democrats rarely if ever describe the groups actually committing large-scale attacks as “wolves” or suggest that they must be resisted with violence if necessary; that fear and contempt is reserved exclusively for the parties actually trying to oppose them.

            It sounds as though protecting your fellow countrymen is, at best, a distasteful necessity to prevent domestic enemies from getting the credit for doing so. And in any event the real people being harmed today is apparently nothing compared to the risk of electing a Marine Le Pen or even a Donald Trump.

            The more I’ve noticed this attitude the further right it has pushed me. If your ideology will only defend the nation reluctantly and after dozens of high-profile attacks, what the hell good is it? This supposed alternative to fascism is so unappealing that it actually makes blood and soil ethno-nationalism look better by comparison! At least they show some sign of actually caring about whether their own people live or die.

          • Nita says:

            Thanks for the extra-substantial comment, TD. It’s the 21st century — outrageous memes are in, dry pamphlets are out. Even the Russian government produces a fantastic jumble of hilariously over-the-top stories instead of The One Officially Approved Truth.

            The thing about all of this that is really surreal, to the point of Moldbuggery, is the idea that the real danger

            The real danger is that too many people will actually believe that they have to choose between two terrible options, the way other people in the early 20th century chose between communism and fascism.

          • Viliam says:

            It sounds as though protecting your fellow countrymen is, at best, a distasteful necessity to prevent domestic enemies from getting the credit for doing so. And in any event the real people being harmed today is apparently nothing compared to (…). The more I’ve noticed this attitude the further right it has pushed me. (…) At least they show some sign of actually caring about whether their own people live or die.

            This. I personally don’t feel pushed towards any specific place, merely disgusted by people who put their crazy signalling games above everything. But I completely understand how it can feel to others.

            It’s all just a runaway signalling game; people competing to appear “holier than thou” by reverting stupidity. I assume that most politically correct people don’t actually enjoy the idea of e.g. immigrants raping local women. But the whole chain of thought goes like this: “A racist would say something bad about immigrants even if they would behave perfectly peacefully. Now, if the immigrants do something bad, even a non-racist would complain, but the racist would still complain with higher probability. And because signalling that I am not a racist has the highest priority, I must refrain from complaining. Actually, I must do the opposite of complaining: I must attack those who complain, and invent however insane explanation for why this all was not the rapists’ fault, but some unrelated white men should be blamed. Then everyone will see how pure is my mind.”

            And at this point I just want to scream at them: “Fuck you for making your saintly image more important than the suffering of your neighbors.” But of course, they would just smile and call me an uneducated racist, because I didn’t play their game.

            I wish I had a solution, but this is a more general problem: how to make it so that people optimizing for signalling games don’t win over people optimizing for the original goals.

          • TD says:

            @Anonymous
            “Your so-called civic nationalists and liberal democrats rarely if ever describe the groups actually committing large-scale attacks as “wolves” or suggest that they must be resisted with violence if necessary; that fear and contempt is reserved exclusively for the parties actually trying to oppose them.”

            No civic nationalists are even in power (yet), at least in North Western Europe. My contempt isn’t reserved for people who oppose Islamists; the main reason I oppose mass third world immigration is because radical Islam isn’t particularly radical in many parts of the Middle East and East Sub-Saharan Africa. What passes for extreme here is the norm there.

            I think states should be allowed to turn people away for any reasons they want. However, there is a big difference between doing that and jettisoning liberalism (in its broad international historical sense, not the narrow US one). Therefore, I oppose third world migration because I want to protect liberalism.

            There’s no exclusivity to it. I pretty consistently shit on Islam online. The thing is; Nazis enforcing an illiberal law is the same to me as Islamists doing it. So, I pretty consistently oppose both. If things get worse, Shariah patrols begin, and the rule of law collapses, then the same threat of violence is on the table as regards Islamic extremists, as is on the table for the false solution of ethno-nationalism.

            The only difference is that ethno-nationalism is within my circles, so I can make those appeals directly. It’s a warning ahead of time. The red line (or Schelling Fence if you want to be a la di da rationalist about it) needs to be very very clear ahead of time.

            “It sounds as though protecting your fellow countrymen is, at best, a distasteful necessity to prevent domestic enemies from getting the credit for doing so. And in any event the real people being harmed today is apparently nothing compared to the risk of electing a Marine Le Pen or even a Donald Trump.”

            Neither of these two are ethno-nationalists. They are what I would call civic nationalists (though not in the liberal way I would prefer). Marine Le Pen is slightly more suspect in that her father was an ethno-nationalist, but she kicked him out of the party and made extensive overhauls.

            What I’m worried about are not characters like Donald Trump (who I like more than Hillary), or Nigel Farage, but certain supporters who swim among the fish to promulgate ethnic-nationalism and traditionalism (the two are rarely seen apart from one another).

            This is a very complex problem. There’s no point even resisting Islamists if you want to forge something that looks like “white Islam”, or if you want to throw away all of the achievements of Western liberalism, just because progressive liberals are wrong on borders. Babies and bathwater.

            In many ways, characters like Trump are the alternative to fascism, but there are two ways this can go wrong:

            1: They fail to change the status quo

            Or

            2: The pressure created by these candidates succeeds in changing the status quo, but we overshoot into fascism

            Trump is not by any means a fascist or a nazi or anything like that, but a lot of his more vocal supporters are, and their meme power isn’t being countered by an alternative. I believe that 1 is a given at this point. Europe must change or risk civil war, so the real risk coming down the line then is number 2. If the center of ground changes to civic nationalism, then I want to defend that position.

            “This supposed alternative to fascism is so unappealing that it actually makes blood and soil ethno-nationalism look better by comparison! At least they show some sign of actually caring about whether their own people live or die.”

            I do care about that. It’s just that my own people aren’t “whites who live in a non-degenerate way”, my own people are “believers in enlightenment values of any color”.

            You’ve sorely misread my post (I know it was pretty tl;dr). I’m not saying that I side with the establishment. What I’m saying is that the failure of the establishment is pretty much a given at this point. Cosmopolitan cultural-relativism is done. It’s bleeding to death as we speak.

            Therefore, if the failure of the establishment is a given as I believe it is, then what remains is what must replace it. The dichotomy presented to us is that since conventional liberalism is dead or dying, the answer must be rahowa 1488. It is this dichotomy I violently reject.

            The answer is quite simple; liberalism with borders. Philosophically; a materialist liberalism that preserves the conditions for a liberal society, stripped of all natural rights garbage.

            Why should it be anything else?
            Why should we deport people based on their race?
            Why oppose the Jews as the ultimate bogeyman?
            Why should we build a totalitarian state based on pre-enlightenment values of absolutism?
            Why should we take away women’s rights?
            Why should we take away gay rights?
            Why should we enforce a state religion?

            Why take away everything that makes the West special and different from everywhere else?

            It’s the strangest thing. The most bizarre contradiction. The establishment is comprised of liberals (both progressive and conservative) who don’t care about defending liberalism, let alone from Islam, and the nationalist grassroots – or at least the loudest segment of it – is comprised of people whose vision for society differs from Islam only in that its sense of asabiyah is based on race. Any difference of degree in how much more Islam oppresses women and sexual minorities seems to me to be the difference between eating my own puke and eating dogshit. I’d really really really rather do neither, thanks.

            @Nita
            “Thanks for the extra-substantial comment, TD.”

            Is that sarcasm? Sorry, it just happens. I try to work on not being so verbose, but I’m not good at compressing lots of ideas into a few paragraphs, unfortunately.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @TD: I’m formulating a response to what you posted below in response to my comment, but a bunch of stuff here is relevant. I’ll start a new tree.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @TD – “Is that sarcasm?”

            Substantive as in packed with useful information, if I’m not mistaken. I took it as genuine praise, and would like to second it. Very good post, thank you for taking the time to put it together.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            No civic nationalists are even in power (yet), at least in North Western Europe.

            The Dutch freedom party contributed to a government coalition for a few years, so that happened. It very much looked like your dreaded situation of the status quo not changing.

            Aside from that, the current Hungarian, Polish and Croatian governments are all various shades of this, with the Croatians especially having a number of fascist-sympathising officials. Still, you’d be right to point out this isn’t northwestern Europe.

          • This may just be auto-snark, but I don’t think the current batch of SJWs are especially murderous– considering how bad-tempered many of them are, they’re surprisingly non-violent.

            The successors to the current batch could be a great deal worse because the ideology has no brakes. The current batch might be the first against the wall, or almost the first, when the revolution comes.

          • TD, thanks for the level of detail.

            It occurs to me that the purpose of both SJ and ordinary norms of decency is to keep those people from coordinating.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz:

            Stereotypically, a lot of left-wing activists of a certain variety are middle-class, university educated, etc. From a background, that is, where serious violence is highly unusual, especially serious violence from people you don’t know.

            This may influence how they understand “violence” – verbal abuse is violence, disagreement is violence, ignoring stuff is violence, etc. Their weapons are based heavily around things like getting people fired.

            Similarly, my hunch is that a lot of the internet right-wing types, call them what you want, are from a similar background. Neither the “safe space” crowd nor the “racist frog meme” crowd seem to be actually going out and stomping on people.

            You say about the left-wing activist types that the ideology has no brakes, and I’m liable to think this is equally true of a lot of their right-wing counterparts. Perhaps the lack of brakes is due to a lack of appreciation, for reasons above, that violence is “real”, and a lack of understanding of their own potential power (the idea that the oppressed can’t really hurt their oppressors on the one hand, the belief that jokes about ovens and helicopter rides are just hilarious on the other).

            When the authoritarians and totalitarians of the past used violent imagery and so forth, they knew full well what the possible outcome was, and what they were doing. Perhaps the potential authoritarians and totalitarians of the future, or their precursors, use violent rhetoric, it is at least in part because they don’t?

          • As I understand it, insults and exclusion are handled by the same part of the brain that handles physical pain. I’ve read accounts by people who say they would have rather been hit by their parents than subjected to hours of hostile ranting. In other words, the SJWs are overdoing it, but they’re not entirely wrong, either.

            I write more about the SJWs because I find their more intelligent writing much more tolerable than all but the most moderate right-wing stuff. I appreciate it when someone I can stand reports about the right.

            Possibly related: http://www.issendai.com/psychology/narcissism/narcissists-online.html

            I find that bloggers who strike me as much too rambling are more likely to be on the right.

          • Nita says:

            @ TD

            Is that sarcasm?

            What? No, not at all 🙁 I said “thank you” because I liked your comment, and thought that saying it might result in more interesting content being written (either by you or by other people).

            I don’t think I’ve ever ‘thanked’ someone for a comment sarcastically.

            @ FacelessCraven

            Yay, you got it. Unfortunately, your comments will get no praise from me, as high-quality regulars are traditionally taken for granted.

            Edit:
            @ dndnrsn

            I think the “smarmy asshole” formulation was mine. Personally, I don’t mind overly jocular tone, but Yarvin’s attitude seems like a mixture of shameless pandering, baseless condescension and barely masked contempt (in various proportions, depending on who he’s talking to).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz:

            So, your objection to the DE, alt-right, etc types is at least in part an aesthetic thing, a reaction to tendencies in their writing?

            In the last OT you described Yarvin/Moldbug as a “smarmy asshole”. I’m guessing that what you mean is that a lot of his writing has this trying-too-hard-to-be-jocular tone. His defences of his position on Medium are sort of written in this “aren’t-we-all-buddies” style that’s kind of irritating. That, combined with the excruciating length, and the (as you put it) rambling, makes him kind of obnoxious to read.

            Is this what you mean?

          • Psmith says:

            @dndnrsn and Nancy, European antifa can get pretty rowdy, in a baseball bats and bike chains sort of way. I don’t know about the right, but there’s a gif circulating on Tumblr of some dude with a Celtic cross on his jacket and a high-and-tight cold-cocking a bearded pro-immigration type with an air of practiced familiarity. It’s at a big public event in, I think, Poland.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Psmith:

            But the antifa, as with their natural enemies the neo-Nazis, are a decades-old, pre-internet thing. The social justice whatever-you-want-to-call-’ems and the alt-right, etc, types are a modern, internet thing.

            You’ll see SJ types approvingly reblogging stuff about antifas getting in rumbles with racist skinheads, but usually next to a whole bunch of other stuff that highly suggests they themselves are not the sort to get into street battles.

          • Nornagest says:

            You’ll see SJ types approvingly reblogging stuff about antifas getting in rumbles with racist skinheads, but usually next to a whole bunch of other stuff that highly suggests they themselves are not the sort to get into street battles.

            That’s true, but I’m not sure it has to do with the ideology so much as the fact that Internet commentary is inherently likely to come from people who spend their free time posting on the Internet. Some of the biggest fans of SJ I know in real life are activists on the Occupy-to-black-bloc spectrum — but their Internet activism is generally limited to sharing press-release material and occasionally lamenting capitalism on Facebook.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Nornagest:

            Yeah, that’s true.

          • I didn’t refer to Moldbug as a “smarmy asshole”. I don’t feel an obligation to track down who did.

            I think of a lot of what I’ve read of Moldbug as just too much work for too little insight, combined with him showing so much contempt for ordinary people that I don’t trust that he’s got enough good will to invent a society which is good to live in.

            From my point of view, he doesn’t have as bad a case of rambling as Vox Day, Hoyt, Torgerson, or Scott Adams or (on the left somewhat) David Brin.

          • BBA says:

            Anecdata time: I attended college in the early 2000s, at an elite institution that had newly appointed its first African-American woman president. A few years into her term, there was an editorial in the student paper by a member of an antifa group (or American equivalent), claiming that our president ought to be opposed, as she was part of a “rainbow coalition of white supremacy.”

            This was roundly mocked by just about everyone who read it at the time, on a campus where “PC culture” was generally the dominant mode. Nowadays I see more and more rhetoric adopting the broader sense of “white supremacy” and feel like the antifa would fit right in.

          • Anonymous says:

            by a member of an antifa group (or American equivalent)

            There is no American equivalent.

          • BBA says:

            I didn’t want to name names, but it was ARA. If there is no American equivalent, what are they?

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ BBA
            first African-American woman president. A few years into her term, there was an editorial in the student paper by a member of an antifa group (or American equivalent), claiming that our president ought to be opposed, as she was part of a “rainbow coalition of white supremacy.”

            I’m not familiar with any of those terms as used here, but the more intersectional an appointee is , the less I trust her to be anything other than several tokens for the price of one.

          • Outis says:

            (I came late to the thread, sorry if I’m rehashing things that were already discussed by now.)

            @TD:

            Without /pol/ you don’t get TRS, and MPC, and without any of those you don’t see Schlomo memes starting to creep slowly into every politics video on Youtube.

            I think what makes the Schlomo memes viable is the fact that the exact same rhetoric is now employed, with full social acceptance, against whites in general. The evil Jewish bankers are parasites on Germany; the evil white old man bankers are parasites on America. Hollywood is too Jewish; Hollywood is too white. Intellectuals are too Jewish; intellectuals are too white.

            Not only is the form of the argument exactly the same, but often it is applied to the same factual circumstances, and even to the same actual people! Why is it unspeakable when applied to Jews, but meritorious when applied to whites? Because the Holocaust? That’s just not convincing to young people. Perhaps it shouldn’t be convincing; one would hope that the lesson we learned from that horror was to avoid dehumanizing people, rather than to exclude the specific group that was victimized that time.

            If we want to combat the new antisemitism, we have to attack the form of the argument. We have to be consistent. We cannot tell people “this is ok when they do it to you, but horrible when you do it to others”: it’s not a compelling argument even on the rational level, let alone on the emotional level.

            Yet too many refuse to do that. You see an article complaining about how too many of the 100 biggest political donors are white, and it proves that evil old white men control America from the shadows. But if you visit /pol/, someone has looked up those 100 people or families on Wikipedia, and a huge number of them are not just white, but also Jewish. The overrepresentation of Jews in that sample is even larger than the overrepresentation of whites. By the article’s own logic, does that prove that old Jewish men control America from the shadows? Then /pol/ looks at who wrote the article, and it turns out that they’re Jewish too.

            At that point, they’re going to claim that it’s all part of some overarching Jewish conspiracy, and you’re going to show them that they’re idiots and there is no such thing. But it doesn’t matter: the battle is already lost.

            The problem is that /pol/ feeds right off the new anti-liberalism (post-liberalism?) of the left. If you want to destroy it, all you have to do is bring some life back into the old values of classical liberalism.

          • Mark says:

            TD, I just wanted to thank you for your comments here. They mirror my own impressions/observations of the last few years exactly, as well as echoing my own yearning for a classical liberal alternative. It’s just a shame that we don’t currently have a great banner to rally under. Winter is coming, etc.

          • TD says:

            @Nita
            “What? No, not at all ? I said “thank you” because I liked your comment, and thought that saying it might result in more interesting content being written (either by you or by other people).”

            I’m not used to being thanked, that’s all, but thanks.

          • Forlorn Hopes says:

            Very well said Outis

          • BBA says:

            @houseboatonstyx: True, but that can be a substantial asset for someone whose job is mainly politics and fundraising, like a university president.

            But my main point was that this radical’s definition of “white supremacy” as the whole system of structural racism was basically unknown to most university students as late as a decade ago. Even in a center of liberalism and racial justice most people thought it was absurd to call an African-American person a white supremacist. Now it’s pretty much a cornerstone of internet/campus social justice that anyone who isn’t sufficiently “woke” is complicit in white supremacy, regardless of their race.

        • dndnrsn says:

          How many political ideologies, of any stripe, really take root among the common people?

          In the 2012 US election, just under 55% of people voted – so that’s 45% of people didn’t vote. While there are people who refuse to vote on principle, and people who are kept from voting, most people who don’t vote simply don’t care enough.

          Beyond showing up and checking a box, actually being involved in politics in just about any way – being a member of a party, arguing on the internet even – suggests a greater-than-normal interest in politics.

          And, people of common intelligence don’t start political movements, or really contribute in any way other than provide warm bodies.

          • Anonymous says:

            I did not mean ‘common people’ as a grouping of the unintelligent. I meant it in opposition to ‘intellectuals’. You have to be minimally smart to be an intellectual, but that’s hardly sufficient.

            You are, of course, right that people of common intelligence don’t start much of anything. Using Moldbug’s terminology, my argument is:

            Brahmin + heresy = Death Eater.
            Vaisya + heresy = Alt-Righter.

            (Optimates are extinct, Dalits and Helots irrevelant.)

          • dndnrsn says:

            OK. It’s complicated, though, by the fact that, given we don’t know who’s a dog on the internet, we can’t really talk about the demographics of either group.

            Additionally, the terms are poorly-defined, especially Alt-Right. What’s the central example of an Alt-Right site, or someone on the Alt-Right?

            The Death Eaters and the types who are getting called Alt-Right now seem to have something in common that they don’t with, say, old-school neo-Nazis, and bear more resemblance to but are still apart from the Jared Taylor-style WNs (the ones who can get jobs without keeping their sleeves rolled down).

            I was thinking of it as alt-right as a generic umbrella under which falls the Death Eaters, some of the PUA types (eg, Heartiste definitely is), the Jack Donovan Manly Men crew, and the pseudo-ironic Nazis, but evidently that’s not how people are using the term. Still, what all of these groups have in common is that it’s hard to imagine them existing without the internet.

          • Anonymous says:

            What’s the central example of an Alt-Right site

            4chan

          • Nornagest says:

            Jack Donovan

            I just Googled this guy, and now I have an almost overwhelming urge to make fun of him.

          • TD says:

            @dndnrsn
            “What’s the central example of an Alt-Right site?”

            /pol/ boards (4chan,8chan, and others), ThRghtStf, MyPstCrr, DlyStrmr, alternative right, and rdx spring to mind, as well as some loose and vast agglomeration of twitter users and Youtube channels.

            Alt-Right (imo) essentially means “the populist nationalism orientated right wing outside of the mainstream consensus”, so it’s broad enough to cover both hardcore neo-nazis and non-mainstream conservatives in favor of some kind of nationalism.

            It’s definitely an umbrella term, but I would say that the nazi elements have the loudest voices.

            “Still, what all of these groups have in common is that it’s hard to imagine them existing without the internet.”

            True, but is Donald Trump an alt-right candidate? He’s certainly breaking with the mainstream conservatives on immigration and providing an alternative, and that alternative is orientated towards populist civic-nationalism. Though that raises the question whether Donald Trump could have existed without the internet. Can anything exist without the internet anymore? Arg!

          • Outis says:

            Bernie Sanders says that Open Borders is “a Koch brothers idea”. Is he a nationalist? Is there a nationalist left?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Outis
            One could describe him as a national socialist (although that would be a bit of a silly thing to do). I would say that in general, left-nationalism just means left-populism (the nationalism is a consequence of a populist approach to getting elected) but Sanders seems a bit different. I am not an American though, so my analysis may not be too accurate.

  20. rminnema says:

    Any interesting interstellar drive is indistinguishable from a weapon of mass destruction.

  21. Greg Laden says:

    ” Both emphasize this doesn’t mean that global warming has stopped or was never real, only that it seems to be slower now than it was before. Leading theory – complicated ocean cycles working in our favor now may work against us in the next few decades, and we should still be careful.”

    Not really. Actually, the good money may be on global warming being faster than previously thought. But for that brief period of time (the “hiatus”) it was slower, briefly.

  22. Viliam says:

    Firebrand Twitter activist Suey Park has reinvented herself as a speaker warning about the dangers of firebrand Twitter activism, now says that social justice is a “cult” and that “the violence I have experienced in SJW circles has been greater than that of ‘racist trolls’”.

    I have studied cults about two decades ago (by which I mean I have read books written by former members of different cults, and literature written by exit counsellors; met with or talked online with some former cultists; participated in meetings of various cults near my city; got bless by the holy spirit, i.e. got my forehead touched by a high-status cult leader, which usually makes people faint, except it didn’t work on me; all this for writing a report for a psychology class), so I consider myself an expert on the topic, and…

    Maybe let me put it this way: it is difficult to find a cultish red flag that the famous online SJWs don’t show. (Control of communication. Being on the mystical right side of history. Obsessing about microaggressions. Calling out sins and public repentance. Scientific “truths” that don’t allow skeptical inquiry. Redefining words. Ignoring personal experience contrary to the teachings. Dismissing anyone white or male or cis as irrelevant.) If I tried to put all cults on a one-dimensional scale, SJWs would score lower than Scientology, but higher than Jehovah Wittnesses.

    This often goes unnoticed, because most people are simply not familiar with the topic. They usually use “cult” to mean “a religious group I don’t belong to” or even “a non-mainstream group I don’t like”. And then, using the classical motte-and-bailey pattern, they conclude that the disliked non-mainstream group is going to commit mass suicide because that’s what everyone knows cults do. Which is obviously bullshit, and that’s why many people conclude that any talk about cults is necessarily bullshit. Unfortunately, as a side effect we lose the ability to discuss the dangers of real cults.

    As I understand it, the cultish behavior is simply a way to hack human mind by providing a social superstimulus; or maybe something that feels like superstimulus today, but would be simply a normal life a few millenia ago. Humans behave irrationally when they feel afraid or surrounded by people who strongly believe in one thing (and seem willing to hurt those who deviate). Cults create conditions where these feelings can flourish: where everyone is either a faithful ally or a cunning enemy, where everything is black or white, and nothing is an exception from the all-encompassing final battle between the good and the evil; where all personal doubts must be cast aside until the war is won.

    (This said; being a cult is a fact about a group, not about “faith”. That is, two groups can have almost identical holy texts but wildly different behavior, one of them would be a cult, the other wouldn’t. Same applies to SJWs. The social justice predators known from the media, the students who throw a hissy fit whenever a different opinion is mentioned at their university, that’s some obviously unhealthy behavior. Yet, there could be other people out there, sharing many of the official beliefs, but not participating in the group behavior. If those people do not participate in the cultish behavior, then what I wrote here does not apply to them. Maybe they are more numerous than it would seem, because the clickbait media focuses on the crazy ones. On the other hand, the crazy ones seem numerous enough.)

    From the inside, being a cult member mostly feels like “being surrounded by good people who honestly try to improve the world”. Which obviously shouldn’t be constructed as a fully general argument against all good people who try to improve the world. 🙁 Other than relying on someone else’s authority, my only suggestion is to become familiar with how actual cults work (learn about more than one, to see the general pattern, instead of individual quirks), read some stories of their former members, and then try to find and read stories of former members of your group. (Of course if this is strongly discouraged in your group, that is a huge red flag.) Problem is, this can take a lot of time, that you would prefer to spend helping your group and improving the world.

    Quoting a former SJW:

    Over the past few years I got swept up in the social justice movement. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with social justice at an idea, but as a movement, it’s a different story. Despite having ideals, it’s easy to get lost in a mire of insults and dehumanizing attacks when engaged in a heated “battle” over social media. It’s nice to feel like you’re winning an argument by pounding the opposition into dust, but in doing so, we often dehumanize others destroying any opportunity for discourse. This is my sin.

    I contributed to an atmosphere of intolerance and aggression. It may seem hypocritical for me to rail against “outrage” in recent tweets. I sought something to oppose. I found a variety of issues to be outraged by because it gave me a sense of purpose. I was crusading for a cause, fighting for a noble goal. Wherever I saw “injustice” and microaggressions, I pounced–even in situations where there was nothing to pounce upon. It was the principle (of whatever issue I was opposing at the time) that mattered, I’d lead myself to believe. And yet, I find myself asking now how these issues even matter when it caused hurt to others. I am sorry If I’ve ever hurt you.

    This guy gets it. Better late than never.

    • Murphy says:

      Are there any good “former rationalist” or “former less wrongian” articles which anyone would recommend?

      • Viliam says:

        Trying to google “former rationalist” and “former less wrongian” didn’t bring anything useful. (I didn’t expect to, but I didn’t want to skip the obvious first step.) After some googling I found this and this. (Not exactly what you asked for: you wanted good articles, I am having problems finding any. But I never said my google skills were stellar.) Then I remembered this one (that Scott replied to in the past).

        Trying to think about people who used to be on Less Wrong but now aren’t, I remember a group of NRs, a user called “daenerys” who probably deleted her account afterwards, and maybe we could also include Eliezer Yudkowsky who prefers to post on Facebook these days.

        • In regards to your next-to-last link, it does occur to me that while in theory rationalists should be open to all sorts of thoughts, or at least all reasonably presented thoughts, in practice women-are-just-awful and black-people-are-just-awful at least show up a lot more frequently (and possibly get a friendlier reception) than men-are-just-awful and white-people-are-just-awful.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            Because people don’t bring up stuff you can talk in other places?

          • You can talk about those things in other places, but rationalist places are where you can get a rationalist angle on them. Well, in theory, anyway.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz: I can do a “men are awful” argument, but is gender banned in the links thread if not relevant to a link?

          • dndnrsn, I wasn’t asking anyone to do it right now, or even to do it at all. I was describing a pattern I think I’ve seen.

            However, the Open Thread is still live.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Ah, but no race or gender in the Open Thread.

            You are definitely right that those sorts of arguments don’t get enough play, though. It definitely is a pattern. Somehow, I have this creeping suspicion that it has to do with the demographics here.

          • Creutzer says:

            I would think that Samuel Skinner’s explanation used to be correct – people would use LessWrong to bring up the stuff they couldn’t discuss anywhere else, to make the most of their newfound freedom, as it were. It’s plausible that this entered into a feedback loop with demographics.

          • Viliam says:

            while in theory rationalists should be open to all sorts of thoughts, or at least all reasonably presented thoughts, in practice women-are-just-awful and black-people-are-just-awful at least show up a lot more frequently (and possibly get a friendlier reception) than men-are-just-awful and white-people-are-just-awful.

            I agree with your observation. Not sure what would be the right solution. There is this “politics is the mindkiller” idea, but people usually assume it only applies to their opponents.

            Personally, I would prefer a website where any topic can be discussed (even “if we killed 90% of white cis het men, would it make the world a better place?”), but it gets discussed rationally, everyone presents their arguments, at the end they either agree or disagree, and the same topic is not mentioned again unless someone has something new and substantial to add. In practice, with sensitive topics this doesn’t happen: some people don’t argue rationally, keep replying even if they have nothing substantial to add, and will bring up the topic at the nearest available opportunity. The worst part IMHO is that the topic is never over, despite making no factual progress.

          • Seth says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz: This relates back to an issue I wonder about – are rationalists really any better at finding flaws in their own cognitive models, or is any gain there correspondingly offset – or made even worse – by a better ability to rationalize? Hence openness to debating something like “Could Escaped Killer AI Destroy Humanity?” is in some sense different and less personal directly affecting than (exaggerating for humor) “Should Reactionaries Be Sent To Re-Education Camps To Improve The Revolution?”. Even conservatives who would be oh-so-edgy to debate something like whether public flogging would increase respect for law (of course presuming they aren’t going to be the ones who get flogged), aren’t going to abstractly debate whether purging themselves from all positions of influence would be a net improvement for society. I guess “in theory rationalists should be open to all sorts of thoughts” goes to show that the theory is too simple.

          • anonymous says:

            In regards to your next-to-last link, it does occur to me that while in theory rationalists should be open to all sorts of thoughts, or at least all reasonably presented thoughts, in practice women-are-just-awful and black-people-are-just-awful at least show up a lot more frequently (and possibly get a friendlier reception) than men-are-just-awful and white-people-are-just-awful.

            There’s that invisible premise.

            Differences in outcomes between men and women are cause by differences between men and women.

            Differences in outcomes between races are caused by differences between races.

            If we pretend that those statements aren’t true and instead adopt the invisible premise that all groups are the same (except for skin tone! and how you urinate!) then explaining the real world becomes near impossible.

            Having the real world be impossible to explain coherently might be a sore spot for people attracted to something called “rationality”.

            That was Rationalism 1.0 though – Rationalism 2.0 is all about picking your preferred sex and sharing the same 5 or so women. When anything wider does get discussed, Rationalism 2.0 is limited to suggesting that maybe the lunatics running the asylum should try acting slightly more sane.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Nancy Lebovitz
            You can talk about those things in other places, but rationalist places are where you can get a rationalist angle on them.

            Maybe I’ve missed something here, but what percentage of wordage at SSC comes from posters who’d describe themselves as Capital-R Rationalists?

          • Viliam, my guess is that if you wanted a forum where all policies about large demographics would get a fair hearing, the best thing would be to push people to do current risk evaluations.

            What makes politics into a mind killer is people having a visceral reaction of “my life would be very bad if this policy were pushed to its limit”.

            The challenge is that “just talk” sometimes does turn into action.

    • Sastan says:

      That’s fine, all well and good. We just need to be able as a society to draw the line between who is in the group and who isn’t. The problem we have now is quite analogous to the problem with muslims (although far less violent). We have a relatively small, hard core of serious anti-western activists, vaguely associated with a much larger group of sympathetic-but-not-totally-on-board-with-all-the-tactics people.

      What we need is to be able to distinguish and label each group. This can then be used to drive a wedge between them and their support network of more moderate people.

    • Anonymous says:

      How many of these so-called warriors have you yourself met, face to face?

      • Hlynkacg says:

        Can’t speak for Villiam but I know at least 3 personally, several more online, and have met hundreds if you count getting yelled at by protestors as “meeting”.

      • Viliam says:

        Not being an American reduces my exposure to them significantly.

        Face to face I only met one such person (a friend of a friend), she kept accusing me of various things for a few minutes, and I guess we both concluded it is a good idea to never meet again. It was about ten years ago.

        • Anonymous says:

          May I suggest then they you are getting exaggerated tales from the following groups of people: 1) those that are desperately looking for boogieman to justify their inherent paranoia and desire for a grand struggle, 2) right wingers that are happy to find any handle to attack their hated left-wing enemies, and 3) people that have been really hurt somewhere along the way and have developed an entire worldview around this hurt (see e.g. the divorcee wing of the MRAs, or rape survivor misandrists).

          I like this forum generally, but it is totally unhinged when it comes to a few topics– one of which is so-called social justice warriors, especially as to their influence and prevalence. Even on QM and AI there is at least vigorous discussion, but not SJW.

          • Jiro says:

            I think that if you’re not at a university, social justice is only a danger to the extent that anything on the Internet can be a danger.

            No movement on the Internet is very important if you don’t happen to be directly targeted. (Ignoring indirect effects, like when you can’t buy an uncensored version of a video game.) And the chance of being directly targeted is pretty low.

            (On the other hand, even a small chance of being targeted can have an outsized intimidation effect.)

          • The Nybbler says:

            There are places besides universities where SJWs are a danger. In these places, everyone knows you don’t speak against these people or bad things could happen. Facebook (the company itself), for instance, appears to be such a place. Object to Black Lives Matter on their writable walls, where they never had any rules before, and you’re considered disrespectful and malicious.

            The anon is just engaging in what the SJWs like to call ‘gaslighting’ (from the movie, a bit of slang sliding into obscurity before they took it up) — doing stuff to people and then pretending they are crazy when they mention it.

          • Murphy says:

            I see you ignored the poster saying they’d met far more.

          • Anonymous says:

            @The Nybbler
            I work in tech in SV and I’m a white, straight man. My politics are the same technocratic (i.e. libertarian leaning) liberal-ish blend that many programmers in their 30s an 40s ended up espousing.

            I’m not sitting in some foreign country or flyover country and dreaming up elaborate fantasies about shadowy conspiracies based on giving too much credibility to overwrought blog posts or small incidents blown wildly out of proportion.

            If you want to claim something is going on in the indy game journalist world or the science fiction fandom world, I can express skepticism but I don’t care enough about either subject to actually wade in and find out for myself. But now you’ve made a claim to something I do know about. It’s not *exactly* totally bullshit but it is a massive over-exaggeration. I’ve now firmly updated in the direction that the same is true over in the other areas you claim are under “attack” by so-called “warriors”. Just a gigantic tempest in a tea pot by a bunch of people that either have an ulterior motive or get off on this sort of crap.

          • The Nybbler says:

            anon@gmail, I work in the same field. Not in SV, but at another office of a west-coast based tech company. So either our experiences are different, or I’m lying, or I’m exaggerating, or you’re lying, or you’re minimizing.

            I know I’m not lying. You’re an anon@gmail; for all I know you’re just here to seed doubt.

          • Virbie says:

            @Jiro

            Given that groups like tech (specifically in the bay area) are over represented in this community, it’s not very surprising that “consider a random human’s chance of being affected by SJW tactics” doesn’t reflect the conversation here.

          • Outis says:

            @The Nybbler, what was your actual experience? Can you link to a comment where you discussed that? (Or write a new comment. 🙂

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Outis, I can’t speak in any detail because it concerns events inside my employer, and further concerns people besides myself. Which I realize puts me in the same “trust me” category as the anon… but then, the anon is an anon.

          • Anonymous says:

            I know I’m not lying. You’re an anon@gmail; for all I know you’re just here to seed doubt.

            You got me! I was assigned this website by my squad leader in the SJW Disinformation and Entryism unit. And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I mean, I guess Anon could’ve chosen a better approach than repeatedly calling people aggrieved by SJW paranoid and delusional, before actually stating their case, but we could do better than automatically accusing them of lying and gaslighting.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Whatever

            What would you suggest? The two choices I considered best were ignoring the anon on the basis of being an anon (and thus entirely without credibility), or responding as I did.

            (To complicate things, I believe I recognize the anon’s style and it is someone — definitely an SJW — I know from elsewhere, and who likely knows who I am)

          • LCL says:

            As someone who has spent a lot of time at several different universities:

            The SJW thing is a university thing, yes, but bear in mind that there are tons of universities and the stories you hear about flare-ups are a selected sample of the worst cases.

            In my experience the bulk of students care very little about social justice, and will occasionally pay lip service as expected or simply ignore it completely. A small subset is quite motivated – and generally earnest and well-intentioned – but typically struggles to overcome the apathy of the majority.

            Also, it’s pretty clearly a cultural signifier for upper-class (mostly white) U.S. natives. Students from middle and working class backgrounds are often turned off by the sophistication-signalling aspects. International students are completely confused by it.

            So aside from (perhaps) a handful of upper-class enclave campuses, I doubt that it’s a big problem even at universities. Consider all the campuses at which you didn’t hear anything about a social justice flare-up recently.

            Mostly, I think it’s an internet thing now.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            The anon is an anon. The Nybbler, on the other hand, is a name we can trust.

            In all seriousness, if Scott’s going to allow people to post anonymously, I would prefer we don’t engage in preemptive strikes on people who choose to do so.

            I basically agree with the general thrust of Anonymous‘s analysis. I don’t think SJWs are as numerous, powerful, or nefarious as they are often alleged to be here. You can find outrage stories all day long about their abuses. You can do the same for acts of violence and discrimination against women, against gays and lesbians, against the transgender, against racial minorities.

            If all you consume are reports about the Brendan Eichs of the world, you will get a distorted picture. Just the same as if you spend all day looking at stories about the Eric Garners.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Vox Imperatoris
            You’ve discovered my campaign slogan!

            Seriously, I’d consider a claim from “Vox Imperatoris” to be a lot more trustworthy than a random anon@gmail. You have a reputation here built up from your previous posts, and your claims can be referred back to in reference to future posts.

            It’s probably true that SJWs are worst on the Internet. And at colleges. I work at a tech company (hence closely Internet-associated) which hires a lot of recent grads; it’s an adjacent space. Also one which has been specifically targeted by SJWs (Shanley Kane, Geek Feminism).

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            There are also some of us in fields that aren’t particularly SJ themselves but have clear career minefields due to that ideology.

            For example I recently went to a talk on the contribution of neanderthal, denisovian and other as-yet undiscovered archaic hominids to modern human genetic variation. In the process of studying a particular locus the speaker found a potential explanation for the pattern of low birth weight followed by fast growth and early puberty observed in Africans. So this guy went from looking at a mouse model of a receptor to potentially being in the center of a racial controversy without any real warning.

            Even as a minority himself he spoke in a noticeably circumspect way about it, and I don’t blame him. If it could happen to Watson there’s nobody in genetics whose name is big enough to survive that.

            Now it’s not as though people are being ritualistically cast out on a daily basis or anything. Being caught in the SJ spotlight is a pretty low-probability threat even in a “problematic” field of study. But if it does happen your career is over and your name is mud.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Dr Dealgood
            That’s a disingenuous comparison. Watson wasn’t attacked for his research or how he presented it. By the time he got into trouble he hadn’t done any research in twenty or thirty years. I knew people that worked at Cold Spring Harbor in the late 90s, by that time he was already mostly shaking hands and raising money.

            He got fired because he was an embarrassing old man shooting his mouth off about “the blacks”, not because he was an active researcher uncovering uncomfortable truths.

            @The Nybbler
            Of course I know who you are (and what you did last summer). Do you think my assignment here was just chance?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Feel free to ignore that one sentence, it doesn’t change the meaning much and I don’t feel like hashing out the Watson firing argument again.

            But can you understand why someone in the field might reasonably think that SJ is a personal career hazard rather than just people being wrong on the internet? It’s hardly delusional.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            You see the dilemma here, right? If you haven’t been thrown out, obviously the SJW threat is overblown. If you have, you must be really terrible and therefore the SJW threat is overblown.

          • Viliam says:

            @anon, it’s not like I just read a story or two on the internet, and immediately jumped to the conclusion. It took me a few years to realize that actually I have already seen a similar pattern somewhere. Then I looked at the checklist and was like: “Shit, how could I have not noticed this earlier?”

            And mind you, most people don’t use this checklist (or even know that it exists), so it’s not like they have optimized their stories for this purpose. And vice versa, the checklist is too old to be suspected that it was created specifically to accuse SJWs.

            Most people, when they talk about cults, focus on the group beliefs. While the approach I use is to treat the beliefs mostly as a red herring, and focus on the details of how the group behaves. For example, if someone believes that the world was created by a Big Pony, I don’t care about that. They will get my attention when I find out that e.g. the ponyists are required to avoid reading non-ponyist literature, or that they are punished for talking about negative experience with ponies; because “controlling information flow” and “erasing personal experience contrary to the doctrine” appear on my checklist, while “ponies” don’t.

            You suggest that the information I got is exaggerated. I assume that it is not completely fabricated, so that somewhere exists the original, non-exaggerated version. It would be nice to hear it, because I usually only get banned from various discussions; and if I get an answer, it is usually something like “only a bad person would ask about this”.

            Your suggestion sounds somewhat analogical to a Christian suggestion that atheists are sinful or guided by Satan, or a Scientologist suggestion that the critics of the church are suppresive people trying to hide their crimes. It could be true, but I would still like some parts addressed factually.

            If I am wrong about something specific, feel free to correct me. Maybe I am wrong about censorship, and most SJWs actually promote free speech for everyone. Maybe I am wrong about microaggressions, and most SJWs actually focus on huge topics such as treatment of women in Islamic countries or treatment of gays in Africa. Maybe I am wrong about call-out culture, and most SJWs actually focus on being the change they want to see in the world. Maybe the assumptions of gender studies are skeptically questioned at universities, and they are supported by methodologically solid research. Maybe the definitions of words like “sexism” and “racism” (to mean “…unless a group we support is doing it”) is actually the standard usage. Maybe it is actually encouraged among SJWs to talk about personal experience that contradicts the doctrine, e.g. about domestic violence against men; maybe Erin Pizzey is a fictional character who never existed. Maybe when people talk about political issues, they are never dismissed just because they are male, or white, or cis. I could be wrong about many specific things. I could be even wrong about everything; but even in that case, please point out the specific things where I am wrong.

          • JDG1980 says:

            In many parts of the U.S., you may never meet a SJW face-to-face, and their tactics would have no effect. But SSC posters are disproportionately likely to live in the liberal urban areas where SJWs are powerful enough to get people fired.

            In the tech industry, I think there were two cases in particular that galvanized a lot of people around the threat of SJWs.

            The first instance was the effective firing of Brendan Eich from Mozilla. Despite his unquestionable technical credentials (creator of JavaScript!), despite a long and successful history at executive roles in Mozilla, despite never having personally committed any act of discrimination, he was driven from his job by an Internet-based mob not only because of his political views, but for a political view that was well within the Overton Window at the time. (Proposition 8 passed, after all.) This was a sign that any sufficiently prominent individual who disagreed with the SJWs about any controversial issue would be fair game, including in roles that were traditionally not considered to be political footballs.

            The other major incident was Adria Richards’ antics at PyCon 2013. Richards overheard two developers making a joke regarding the terms “forking” and “dongles”, and immediately took to Twitter, seeking to get them fired. And they were indeed fired. This reinforced the belief that no one is safe, that an innocuous joke at a conference can lose you your job if a SJW with a sufficient number of Twitter followers wills it to be so.

          • suntzuanime says:

            There have been more incidents than that. For me it was Ben Noordhuis being hounded out of Node.JS for being insufficiently receptive to pronoun-bitching. I can easily imagine myself as a caretaker of a repository getting a frivolous pull request, rejecting it, and then whoops it turns out the requestor is on the Right Side Of History.

          • keranih says:

            In the tech industry, I think there were two cases in particular that galvanized a lot of people around the threat of SJWs.

            The first instance was the effective firing of Brendan Eich from Mozilla.

            Oh, darling, to be so young! But truly, I was born in *St Petersburg.*

            (The celebrated Soviet actress was giving an interview to a subversive tool of the oppression of the people (ie, a Western journalist.) The reporter asks the aged star about her early life, where was she born, etc.

            “Well, I was born in St Petersburg -”

            At which point her political handler leans in and growls, “She means, she was born in Leningrad.”

            The grand old dame pats the handler on the arm and gives him her best smile. “Oh, darling! To be so young!” Then she leans in conspiratorially to the reporter. “But truly, my dear, I was born in St Petersburg.”)

            The SJWs were around, causing trouble, making people miserable, and ruining (a few) lives long before Eich. Pretending that their actions are justified by their goals or by the sins of others is among the earliest of mistakes. Another is to assume that they are of no great moment, and will soon go away.

          • BBA says:

            I think in that post “first” meant “most significant”, not first in time. The PyCon incident was actually earlier.

            And here’s what nobody mentions about PyCon: Richards also lost her job. The two programmers she accused got new jobs in short order, while she was still unemployed months later. Not really the best example for the anti-SJ crowd.

          • Jiro says:

            And here’s what nobody mentions about PyCon: Richards also lost her job

            That may be nicer if you have a revenge fantasy but otherwise it doesn’t do you much good. It’s the nonviolent equivalent of a suicide bomber–they do damage to you and take themselves out in the process. It’s still frightening, because you care more about the damage to yourself than you care that they’re taking damage too.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Donglegate, Eich, the draconian “codes of conduct” the SJWs first got imposed on conferences and then on open source projects, the “meritocracy” rug issue at GitHub, the node.js pronoun issue, Yarvin’s first ejection (from Strangeloop), the Opal/Coralina Emkhe incident, the even-worse-than-before TODO Open Code of Conduct which explicitly denies recourse to those complaining about “reverse” -isms, Zuckerberg’s banning of objections to Black Lives Matter, Yarvin at Lambdaconf.

            Did I miss anything? Oh, yeah, aside from the constant yammering of the tech press about “brogrammers” (it was a hoax), the “myth” of meritocracy (we really owe everything to our whiteness, you see), and how white male techies are horrible people and “nerd culture must die” (you want to get ants? That’s how you get ants). But I could ignore the tech press if too many people within the industry didn’t agree with them.

          • suntzuanime says:

            There was also the C Plus Equality incident – relatively harmless in itself, but it helped make clear the extent to which a lot of supposedly neutral service providers had actually fallen to the Blight.

          • Cauê says:

            As a data point, I’m seeing them in Brazil. Only in colleges and on the internet, and they have little power compared to the US, but they are growing. Easy enough to ignore five years ago (in colleges and on the internet), not so much now.

          • Anonymous says:

            I see a bunch of minor shit that people like to blow way out of proportion on the internet. I’ve had no problems at work or at conferences.

            It’s a big industry, two guys told a bad joke and got fired. That sucks, but it’s hardly reasonable for you guys to be so hysterical about it for literally years. As for Eich — CEO, of a non-profit no less, is the chief representative of an organization that’s asking people to open their wallets and donate time. It isn’t an engineering position.

            Unfortunately I’ve seen this kind of thing before. Whether it was open source evangelism that painted Microsoft as basically Nazis or Voices at the Hellmouth, there’s a certain type of grandiose personality that goes with our industry. They can’t ever be happy unless they are noble underdogs in some grand crusade.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Anon – “I work in tech in SV and I’m a white, straight man. ”

            I work in a small game studio. I have had an actual run-in with one SJW in real life, and that one was enough that I now self-censor all opinions with anyone but a handful of friends or reasonably-anon forums like this one. My boss, while not an SJW himself, is broadly sympathetic to their claims. If anything I’ve posted here got internet famous, I am not confident I would keep my job. The last place I worked would have fired me even faster. Do my concerns seem unreasonable to you?

          • Jiro says:

            It’s a big industry, two guys told a bad joke and got fired. That sucks, but it’s hardly reasonable for you guys to be so hysterical about it for literally years.

            You have been given a lot more examples than a single incident involving two guys.

          • Equinimity says:

            It does reach out beyond the internet sometimes. Here in Australia, SJ is currently lobbying the government for internet hate speech laws, requiring ISPs to block sites that allow racist or misogynist content. (As defined by them, of course.) The ones that I know personally were campaigners against internet censorship in the 90’s. Now, they refer to freedom of speech as, “That failed American experiment,” and “Not appropriate in a diverse society.” Since they’re on the right side of history, they know that censorship can’t be used against them, it can only hurt racist white males. And since they’re now senior academics, they are getting their meetings with ministers and staffers.

            On a more personal level, even though I kept my social media feed down to people I’d personally met, I was still getting flooded with the SJ outrage du jour articles. I have to manage my mental illness and control my emotions, SJ clickbait seems designed to cause uncontrolled emotional outbursts. Asking people to back off got me torrents of abuse for supporting whatever they were outraged about. I’ve had to socially isolate myself before I ended up suicidal again.
            And even when I try to control my exposure, it doesn’t always work. At a party before Christmas, I made the mistake of mentioning that someone’s dog had snapped at a kid. “Not all dogs!” “He’s just a canine rights activist fighting for his right to hump legs!” “It’s about ethics in dog bite journalism!” And the discussion turned into half an hour of ranting about how those evil white males will destroy the world if SJ doesn’t stop them. Anon, if you think the SSC comentariat is being paranoid, you haven’t listened to a bunch of half drunk SJWs convincing each other that they’re literally the only thing keeping the internet hordes from destroying human civilisation.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Jiro

            You have been given a lot more examples than a single incident involving two guys.

            Aside from the people that got fired, which are legitimate but very rare, you have bunch of “incidents” that barely impacted anyone and are most notable for the insane obsession you all have with them.

            OpalGate 2015, never forget!!!!!!

            @Viliam
            It’s not a cult above all because, except perhaps at college, there is no social isolation. There’s also no central authority and no ritual gatherings where the message can be reinforced. The primary way of receiving message reinforcement is by going online and seeking it out (which by the way the obsessives on SSC seem to do more than their fair share of). There isn’t even any self identification, with “SJW” being a slur conjured up by this crowd, which in turn means there’s no sense of the elect or holding apart.

            Your thesis makes no sense. You might as well say that being a libertarian is a cult.

            @FacelessCraven
            I don’t know anyone that works in the gaming industry, much less the small studio gaming industry. I also don’t know what exactly the opinions you expressed here that you are worried about, are you en arr ex?

            So I can’t say whether you should be worried or not. But given the wild exaggerations people are making about the SV tech world as compared to what I see on the ground, I’m inclined towards the conclusion that your fears are somewhat unreasonable. Could be wrong, but that’s my inclination.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Anonymous, you can’t just say “aside from the people who got fired” and then brush everything else off. Nobody would have any reason to care about SJ codes of conduct or any of that other stuff except that these are the sorts of things which can now lead to you being fired.

            Firings are rare but they’re also a pretty big deal, especially since in these cases they also come with accusations of -isms and -phobias which act as an obstacle to future employment. You don’t actually have to fire all that many people for the rest to fall into line.

            Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de virer de temps en temps un programmeur pour encourager les autres

          • Anonymous says:

            As already discussed the dongle guys quickly got new jobs. As did Brandon Eich for that matter. There were no hangings.

            Seriously, this is supposed to be a rationalist website. Start putting some numbers to these risks. Compare them to, I don’t know, dying when the big one hits California or getting hit by lighting or eaten by sharks. Your “everyone is to terrified and self polices and that’s why there are so few incidents” is exactly the type of epicycle conspiracy theorists create. Get a grip.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            If I was trying to stop someone from being defensive about thinking that they would be fired for their opinions, the worst possible thing to say is “oh, are you a arbernpgvbanel”?

            In fact, it seems calculated to exactly terrorize him, by reminding him that he can be pushed into the black hole.

            As for Richards, she doesn’t deserve what happened to her. But while the men involved have apologized and said that no one deserves what happened to her, she has refused to acknowledge her own part in the affair. She thinks her behavior was perfect and everyone else was wrong.
            (See http://www.esquire.co.uk/culture/news/a7933/exclusive-extract-from-jon-ronson-book-so-youve-been-publicly-shamed/ ) She thinks Hank is to blame for her firing because he let people know he’d been fired, but she isn’t to blame for getting him fired by trying to publicly shame him.

            Based on her website, she also is apparently trying to not get another job as an engineer, but to get a job as an advocate.

            ETA: ” As did Brandon Eich for that matter.” No, he has not. As of a year ago he was still unemployed. He isn’t some millionaire from Mozilla, either. He needs a job like the result of us schlubs.

            ETA ETA: Eich is currently employed, but, as he said in the comment section here at SSC, he was going quite some time without one. He did not, at all, “quickly” get a new job.

          • Anonymous says:

            If I was trying to stop someone from being defensive about thinking that they would be fired for their opinions, the worst possible thing to say is “oh, are you a arbernpgvbanel”?

            There’s two separate issues here, they just happen to overlap on SSC.

            One is the size, scope, and power of the so-called SJW that are allegedly lurking around every corner looking to punish anyone that doesn’t exactly toe the “PC” line.

            The other is a debate over a fairly radical view of open discourse that holds that no one is allowed to refuse to associate with someone else because of his expressed views no matter how loathsome. Or maybe they are allowed to but not talk about it. All the people that disagree with this latter position are not SJW. In fact, it amounts to most people though what exactly they’d find loathsome differs from person to person.

            Re: Eich
            https://www.brave.com/about.html#team

          • “I’ve had no problems at work or at conferences. ”

            Have you been saying things at work or conferences that might make you a likely target for SJWs? If not, your failure to be attacked isn’t evidence either way.

            I cannot resist:

            “The skipper called to the tall taffrail: — “And what is that to me?
            Did ever you hear of a Yankee brig that rifled a Seventy-three?”

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Anon – “Your “everyone is too terrified and self polices and that’s why there are so few incidents” is exactly the type of epicycle conspiracy theorists create. Get a grip.”

            I would not describe myself as “terrified”, but I consider Social Justice callouts to be the largest and most likely threat to my career, and consequently self-censor fairly rigorously. I have encountered a number of others here and elsewhere who do likewise, again based on personal experience rather than internet rumors. Encountering someone who is legitimately willing and even eager to harm you because you disagree with their ideology is a formative experience.

            “He got fired because he was an embarrassing old man shooting his mouth off about “the blacks”, not because he was an active researcher uncovering uncomfortable truths.”

            And I’m a terminally frustrated misogynist who couldn’t keep his toxic opinions to himself, or a racist asshole who just can’t stop running his stupid mouth, etc etc. I’m actually not familiar with Crick’s story. I do know that I have lost all faith in society’s ability to fairly adjudicate which opinions are allowed and which are forbidden.

            “The primary way of receiving message reinforcement is by going online and seeking it out (which by the way the obsessives on SSC seem to do more than their fair share of).”

            I more or less live online; I work remotely, and the large majority of my social interaction happens on various forums. I definately did not “seek out” the community sites involved in the late gaming unpleasantness; they were the websites I’d been spending most of my time for the last several years. They are also the places I’m probably going to have to go to promote the personal projects that are my long-term goals.

            I agree that outrage is addictive and people get hooked. But respectfully, there is an actual problem here that some of us are trying to figure out what to do about.

            “There’s also no central authority and no ritual gatherings where the message can be reinforced.”

            I don’t think I’m the only one for whom internet communities are about the only community we’ve got. Tumblr is a hell of a thing.

            Both you and norm paint these sorts of events as isolated incidents, but I am way less interested in the events themselves than in the reaction to them. Harassment is a thing that happens on the internet, and I’m pretty pessimistic about whether it’s a problem that can ever be solved. On the other hand, the idea that harassment/”social consequences” is a good thing that should be encouraged is what worries me, and what I’m interested in fighting.

            “I also don’t know what exactly the opinions you expressed here that you are worried about, are you en arr ex?”

            Does it matter? Should death eaters be no-platformed and/or fired when identified? Should we be working to identify them so we can no-platform/fire them faster?

            In point of fact, no, I’m not a neo traction fairy. I like guns, think “privilege” is a transparent fiction clung to for its political expediency, and believe that the current iteration of feminism is crazy enough that it’s probably a net-negative. Given the apparent ubiquity of the “feminism is just basic human decency” meme, I think that last one alone might be enough to screw me if someone decided to frame it uncharitably and at sufficient volume.

            You’ve pointed out repeatedly that you see no threat. Is that because everyone around you is quite tolerant, or is that because you don’t actually have any substantive disagreement with the majority position?

            “The other is a debate over a fairly radical view of open discourse that holds that no one is allowed to refuse to associate with someone else because of his expressed views no matter how loathsome.”

            Say rather that we have lately learned how surprisingly easy it is to frame people and their views as “loathsome” regardless of the facts, that this is being exploited by the unethical or overly-zealous for personal or political advantage, and that we need a counter or the problem is likely to get worse. Your implicit claim that there’s nothing to worry about because those people totally deserved it is completely missing the point.

            “All the people that disagree with this latter position are not SJW.”

            Indeed, but Social Justice is heavily in favor of the no-platform/”social consequences” strategy, so there’s a hell of a correlation.

            “In fact, it amounts to most people though what exactly they’d find loathsome differs from person to person.”

            True. For instance, I find the idea that the bounds of acceptable speech are too wide and should be narrowed drastically via a coordinated campaign of “social consequences” is a thoroughly loathsome idea. I’m not sure eliminating this idea through a coordinated campaign of social consequences is a good idea, but it is a tempting one.

            “@Anon – “Your “everyone is too terrified and self polices and that’s why there are so few incidents” is exactly the type of epicycle conspiracy theorists create. Get a grip.”

            I would not describe myself as “terrified”, but I consider Social Justice callouts to be the largest and most likely threat to my career, and consequently self-censor fairly rigorously. I have encountered a number of others here and elsewhere who do likewise, again based on personal experience rather than internet rumors. Encountering someone who is legitimately willing and even eager to harm you because you disagree with their ideology is a formative experience.

            “He got fired because he was an embarrassing old man shooting his mouth off about “the blacks”, not because he was an active researcher uncovering uncomfortable truths.”

            And I’m a terminally frustrated misogynist who couldn’t keep his toxic opinions to himself, or a racist asshole who just can’t stop running his stupid mouth, etc etc. I’m actually not familiar with Crick’s story. I do know that I have lost all faith in society’s ability to fairly adjudicate which opinions are allowed and which are forbidden.

            “The primary way of receiving message reinforcement is by going online and seeking it out (which by the way the obsessives on SSC seem to do more than their fair share of).”

            I more or less live online; I work remotely, and the large majority of my social interaction happens on various forums. I definately did not “seek out” the community sites involved in the late gaming unpleasantness; they were the websites I’d been spending most of my time for the last several years. They are also the places I’m probably going to have to go to promote the personal projects that are my long-term goals.

            I agree that outrage is addictive and people get hooked. But respectfully, there is an actual problem here that some of us are trying to figure out what to do about.

            “There’s also no central authority and no ritual gatherings where the message can be reinforced.”

            I don’t think I’m the only one for whom internet communities are about the only community we’ve got. Tumblr is a hell of a thing.

            Both you and norm paint these sorts of events as isolated incidents, but I am way less interested in the events themselves than in the reaction to them. Harassment is a thing that happens on the internet, and I’m pretty pessimistic about whether it’s a problem that can ever be solved. On the other hand, the idea that harassment/”social consequences” is a good thing that should be encouraged is what worries me, and what I’m interested in fighting.

            “I also don’t know what exactly the opinions you expressed here that you are worried about, are you en arr ex?”

            Does it matter? Should death eaters be no-platformed and/or fired when identified? Should we be working to identify them so we can no-platform/fire them faster?

            In point of fact, no, I’m not a neo traction fairy. I like guns, think “privilege” is a transparent fiction clung to for its political expediency, and believe that the current iteration of feminism is crazy enough that it’s probably a net-negative. Given the apparent ubiquity of the “feminism is just basic human decency” meme, I think that last one alone might be enough to screw me if someone decided to frame it uncharitably and at sufficient volume.

            You’ve pointed out repeatedly that you see no threat. Is that because everyone around you is quite tolerant, or is that because you don’t actually have any substantive disagreement with the majority position?

            “The other is a debate over a fairly radical view of open discourse that holds that no one is allowed to refuse to associate with someone else because of his expressed views no matter how loathsome.”

            Say rather that we have lately learned how surprisingly easy it is to frame people and their views as “loathsome” regardless of the facts, that this is being exploited by the unethical or overly-zealous for personal or political advantage, and that we need a counter or the problem is likely to get worse. Your implicit claim that there’s nothing to worry about because those people totally deserved it is completely missing the point.

            “All the people that disagree with this latter position are not SJW.”

            Indeed, but Social Justice is heavily in favor of the no-platform/”social consequences” strategy, so there’s a hell of a correlation.

            “In fact, it amounts to most people though what exactly they’d find loathsome differs from person to person.”

            True. For instance, I find the idea that the bounds of acceptable speech are too wide and should be narrowed drastically via a coordinated campaign of “social consequences” is a thoroughly loathsome idea. I’m not sure eliminating this idea through a coordinated campaign of social consequences is a good idea, but it is a tempting one.

            “I’m inclined towards the conclusion that your fears are somewhat unreasonable. Could be wrong, but that’s my inclination.”

            For what it’s worth, I appreciate you taking the time to argue your side side of it.

            [EDIT] – just barely avoided losing this entire post to the wordfilter. Posting here for two years, and that’s the second time I’ve had a whole post eaten in the last week or two. Grah.
            (and nothing of value was lost.)

          • I do feel that Gmail Anon has a point; the ratio of speech to consequences for speech is hugely weighted towards the first, in the general case.

            On the other hand, there are also a lot of people on Team SJW who are working digiliently to change this ratio. It’s not paranoia when they really are out to get you, and are cheerfully admitting this fact. But it might be paranoia to think that because they want to hurt you, they can.

            But again, there definitely are specific fora where expressing certain topics and opinions will drop a massive storm of backlash and outrage on your head, for any conceivable position. And given that, it doesn’t seem reasonable to describe Team SJW as taking over when you can, e.g., go to 90% of North Carolina geographically and find strong support for HB2.

            I think it’s important to be specific. Faceless Craven tends to speak about the attitudes and outlooks he sees specifically in the online gaming and game development industry, which is specifically in a giant multi-year culture-war dust-up. It is eminently reasonable for him to fear the consequences of culture-war-based political controversy, because even without him telling us stuff, it’s really easy to find a lot of back-and-forth in his specific space. I don’t think that some of the threats and attitudes he points out as affecting him are universal problems, but I also don’t see him claiming that they are universal problems.

            What I do see is people saying, metaphorically, “Street crime? Poppycock! I went strolling down the streets of my suburb and didn’t see a thing, crime rates are dropping across the board, and most people never experience a violent crime in the first place!”, and ignoring that the person is posting from, e.g., Baltimore.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Faceless

            [EDIT] – just barely avoided losing this entire post to the wordfilter.

            I always everywhere do Ctl-A, C before Post. If it’s something I’ve really worked on, I detour to some file open on my own drive and do Ctl-Paste before doing Post. Glitches happen, be prepared; it just takes finger habit.

            Btw, how do you know when it was the filter that ate a post?

          • Anonymous says:

            @FacelessCraven

            Either I wasn’t clear or you disagree about the two separate issues. On the chance that it was the former I’ll try again.

            IF you have a blog wherein you opine that rape is a nonsense concept because women are evolutionary programmed to want bad boy genes and so deep down they really love it, but just won’t admit it and oh by the way we should bring back slavery because black people are only fit to be slaves THEN you have every reason to fear you will lose your job / be shunned if it comes out that those are your views. Same thing if you like to go around saying “gas the Jews, race war now”. However, I don’t think those reasonable fears have anything to do with the so-called SJW warriors. The set of all Americans that think you should lose your job / not be invited to conferences is at least half and probably much higher. It includes grandmothers in their 70s that don’t have any social media accounts and if they have any association at all with “social justice” think it is has something to do with left wing priests in Latin America.

            It may well be that you and others came to the position of radical open discourse because of fears of SJW, but that is not at all the same thing as saying that anyone that isn’t convinced is a SJW.

            Now on the other hand, IF you sometimes make jokes in public about forking repos and big dongles or espouse mainstream Republican opinions THEN at least as to the mainstream SV tech world you don’t have much to worry about. Of course it is possible you will suffer major adverse consequences — hence the examples that people keep on harping on — but I believe the risk is very low. This is my point about the fears of so-called SJW being overblown. The climate of extreme fear of saying anything that wouldn’t go over well in a senior seminar in feminist studies at Oberlin just doesn’t match what I’m seeing at all. In fact, there is still outright, old school, sexual harassment going on in a lot of places. Some of the companies that have gone overboard are those that had big scandals of that nature.

            So again, I see two separate issues: 1) we don’t have radical open discourse, you can be fired / shunned for what you say online or away from work but 2) the window of acceptable things to say is generally pretty broad and not dictated by the so called SJW, the size and influence of which is IMO/E overblown — at least as to SV tech world, and I suspect more broadly.

          • Jiro says:

            Aside from the people that got fired, which are legitimate but very rare

            This one just came in: http://deadline.com/2016/04/curt-schilling-fired-espn-anti-transgender-1201741272/

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            That one doesn’t bug me. If your job is to be a public mouthpiece, you and your words are under greater scrutiny.

          • BBA says:

            There’s almost certainly more to that story. Judging from Schilling’s reputation, I find it likely that people at ESPN have been wanting to get rid of him for a long time and this was just a handy opportunity to get social justice street cred.

          • nydwracu says:

            It’s not a cult above all because, except perhaps at college, there is no social isolation.

            This is a joke, right?

    • That is more than a little interesting.

      I think SJW isn’t easily recognized as a cult because it doesn’t physically isolate its members, it doesn’t (so far as I know) have a formal hierarchy, and it isn’t a money suck.

      • Viliam says:

        I agree on all three points. SJWs are more… distributed… more internet-based. The only place where they meet physically in large numbers seems to be a few universities. There seem to be a few self-appointed leaders who sometimes cooperate and sometimes stab each other in the back, and then a mass of followers. There is a tradition of donating money on Patreon, but it seems completely voluntary, and I haven’t heard about people getting ruined by donating too much to SJW causes, or blackmailed to donate a specific amount.

        However — I apologize if this sounds like a completely general counterargument — most cults have something unique about them. For example, Jehovah Wittnesses are proud about not having a formal hierarchy; although when you dig deeper, they actually have one, they only believe that it is sufficiently informal so it doesn’t count. Scientologists believe that they are science-based and rational; and they would enjoy playing lawyers over a dictionary definition to prove that they are not a cult. Most multi-level-marketing cults would insist there is nothing cultish about them, and also that they are completely different from each other because of some technical detail about how the money is transferred within the pyramid scheme. But you don’t have to match all requirements 100% to achieve the cultish group dynamic.

        SJWs do have a norm of socially isolating themselves from the unbelievers (“if you think X, or don’t think Y, you are a horrible person, please unfriend me”). Their blocklists are similar in purpose to Scieno Sitter. Despite a lack of hierarchy, you can make a guess about who would win in an internet fight. And some of them make quite a profit from being SJWs. — But I agree that in a cult I would expect more of this, and I would expect to have it more formalized.

        My point isn’t that SJWs are a typical member of the cult cluster. Just that they are within it.

        • I didn’t say SJW isn’t a cult– now that you point it out, you’ve got a very good point. After I’d spent a while reading SJW material, I started referring to myself as a former native speaker of English. I couldn’t take metaphors nearly as lightly as I used to.

          I said that SJW isn’t easily recognized as cult, and I do think it’s fairly far from the central examples of cults.

          • Viliam says:

            Oh, was I agreeing in a way that made it sound like I disagree? You made a great meta-point that in addition to things that make SJWs similar to cults, it is also important to mention things that make them different. The conclusion shouldn’t be made by excluding inconvenient info, but by processing everything. (“Notebook of rationality“, arguments as soldiers, etc.)

            I tried to say that I find the “isn’t a money suck” part relatively more persuasive than the “doesn’t physically isolate its members” part. (And the “formal hierarchy” is somewhere in between.)

        • norm says:

          I’m sorry Viliam but does this cult have a leadership or liturgy?

          • Viliam says:

            Leadership yes, although without formal structure. Liturgy is for religious cults.

            There are SJWs so powerful that other SJWs know that publicly disagreeing with them could easily get them “disfellowshipped” (i.e. publicly labeled as “right-wing”, blocked by most SJWs on social networks, ostracized and harassed in private life). But who exactly is your biggest threat, that depends on where you are. If you are a university student, the most dangerous predators are your SJW professors and student leaders. If you are in the game industry, you better avoid crossing the path of ZQ. In “Atheist+” circles it is someone else again.

            With sufficient skills, you can become a leader, too. You need some charisma and/or power to gain your local followers, and the existing SJW leaders have to decide that it is better for them to cooperate with you than to attack you. As a beginner you should show proper respect to the existing leaders, write blogs or give speeches about their virtue, attack the targets they attack, and donate to them on Patreon. With some luck you get to the inner ring, and then you just flow with the current: preach what everyone else preaches, and denounce what everyone else denounces; taking care about your own visibility. Then the average people start getting afraid of you, start posting articles about your virtue, and start donating to your Patreon.

            (Essentially, do what “Andrew Cord” is trying to do, only be less nerdy and have much better social skills.)

          • Joanna Russ wrote “Power and Helplessness in the Women’s Movement” sometime before 1985, and I think it will be of interest because it sheds light on feminism at the time, power dynamics when it’s not allowable to want power (yes, Moldbug fans should read this), and possibly it offers some clues about what’s going on in SJ now.

            “With great power comes great responsibility”, and if the responsibility is cranked up too high, the safest thing is to claim to have no power. I believe that’s part of what’s going on with SJ.

            There’s a bit in Ayn Rand to the effect that if what is needed for life is condemned, people will embrace actual evils. (I bet someone here knows the quote.) If healthy self-assertion and leadership aren’t permitted, then people find it much harder to get things done.

            I feel like this has too many implications for me to chase right now, but I’ll probably write more later. I do recommend the Russ essay.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Nancy –

            Adding that to my reading list. Sounds interesting, thanks for the recommendation.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            ^ Likewise and thank you

          • keranih says:

            @ Nancy Lebovitz –

            A third thanks for the pointer to the Russ essay.

            I note, with some interest, how much Russ talks about feelings and the emotional reaction people have to events.

            One of the things that threw me out of feminism – and further and further away from progressive liberation theology – was an acceptance of my own power to hurt other people and the need to accept other’s criticism of my (ab)use of that power (and/or my failure to help other people when I could.) In these cases, power was meant as something more concrete than feelings and emotional impact.

            Others that I have spoken with have identified a pair of conflicting world views – or, more accurately, a series of conflicting world views.

            One might assume that work has NOTHING to do with success, or that work has EVERYTHING to do with success. People who believe the second, when faced with lack of success, will try harder. Those who believe the first, will be more comforted. Both are NOT TRUE, and both are useful to different populations.

            Whether one is more useful to the human population as a whole, well, the data is still out on that.

          • Agronomous says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz:

            Yet another thanks for the link to the Russ essay. The following sentence from it jumped out at me:

            The TS/MM scenario is predicated on the unrealistic ascription of enormous amounts of power to one side and the even more unrealistic ascription of none at all to the other.

            I can’t help thinking it’s applicable in another context, to both sides….

      • John Schilling says:

        It probably isn’t a coincidence that SJ recruits mainly on college campuses, where people come freshly pre-isolated from their families etc, and on the internet, where some people try to build entire social lives disconnected from physical geography.

        But now you’ve got me worried about what SJ would look like if it could command the monetary wealth of its adherents. Well, except for the bit where so many of them are college students who don’t really have money.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      I have studied cults about two decades ago (by which I mean I have read books written by former members of different cults, and literature written by exit counsellors; met with or talked online with some former cultists; participated in meetings of various cults near my city; got bless by the holy spirit, i.e. got my forehead touched by a high-status cult leader, which usually makes people faint, except it didn’t work on me; all this for writing a report for a psychology class), so I consider myself an expert on the topic…

      Oh, good! Maybe you can settle one of the recurring arguments we have around here. Is the rationalist community a cult? I’m gonna go with “no”, but it seems to be a favorite of critics, so…

      • Samuel Skinner says:

        Soon.

      • Viliam says:

        Is the rationalist community a cult?

        Following this checklist:

        1) Are rationalists suggested to avoid all non-rationalist information and communication? I don’t think so.

        2) I admit this is the point I understand the least. Does the rationalist group manipulate its members, so they experience things that make them update (based on the implicit assumption that the experience wasn’t manipulated) that the leader has abilities or knowledge “over 9000”? I don’t know; maybe something suspicious happens in CFAR minicamps, but not to the average member.

        3) Is the world perceived as black and white, and are the members constantly shamed to become perfect? Considering how the rules are constantly violated, and people on LW talk openly about the website being mostly for procrastination, I’ll say no.

        4) Are members required to confess their sins against rationality? I am not aware of that.

        5) Are teachings of the group considered an undisputable truth above all criticism, and is group considered the only source of the truth? Considering all the debates about many-world interpretation, it’s far from settled. We admit taking knowledge from external sources such as Kahneman. On the other hand, some things are considered settled, so maybe 0.25 points here.

        6) Is there a special jargon full of thought-terminating clichés? This is frequent criticism, so let’s make it 0.75 points.

        7) Are members’ personal experiences ignored when they contradict the teachings of the group? Uhm, not sure what kind of experiences we talk about. I guess theists could get offended that LW ignores their spiritual experience, so let’s make it 0.25 points.

        8) Is the world outside the group considered unenlightened, and only worthy as potential recruits? Depends; LW respects many scientists, but also complains about the sanity waterline. Maybe 0.5 points again.

        Together, it’s 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0.25 + 0.75 + 0.25 + 0.5 = 1.75 points out of 8. (Plus or minus my personal judgement.) More than zero, but I believe that we are on the safe side. To provide more context, it is a checklist for “though reform”, and LW is explicitly about how to change one’s mind, so a value greater than zero is expected.

        I tried to weigh against LW when in doubt, so the result is probably exaggerated. If it doesn’t feel so (for example, I never assigned a value of 1, while I used 0 liberally), think about how far does the scale go in typical cults.

        Also, what jaimeastorga2000 said. Just because the community isn’t a cult in 2016, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t become one in 2026. It’s the behavior that determines the answer, and the behavior can change.

        • Nornagest says:

          I’d give full credit for 6 and 8, and half credit for

        • Nornagest says:

          I’d give full credit for 6 and 8, and half credit for 5 and 7.

          ETA: Well, that was interesting. I can’t seem to delete the partial, even though I’m inside the edit window.

          • Viliam says:

            6 — okay.

            8 — I believe the rationalist community is quite open to the standard science (well, besides criticizing its current failures with replications).

            5 — I would like to see a cult with so many members getting contrarian creds for disagreeing with almost everything.

            Well, the meta point is that the debate becomes significantly more rational when we debate specific issues, instead of just trying to resolve the whole question of cultishness by a big authoritative “yes” or “no”.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        No matter where you are, always say it’s the least cultish community in the whole damn world.

    • Nita says:

      Perhaps only people with innately totalitarian tendencies would try to become the world’s authority on everything — Correspondence bias alert!

      The ingroup-outgroup dichotomy is part of ordinary human nature. So are happy death spirals and spirals of hate. A Noble Cause doesn’t need a deep hidden flaw for its adherents to form a cultish in-group. It is sufficient that the adherents be human.

    • Nero tol Scaeva says:

      Cult? Maybe.

      I think a more fitting adjective for SJWs that they’re authoritarian. That’s definitely something they have in common with cults, and is (at least IMO) a significantly less pejorative descriptor.

      Instead of calling them SJWs (again, a pejorative that I first read on alt-right blogs) I’ve begun calling them the “Authoritarian Left”. Free speech, for example, is something that authoritarians (whether left or right) always want to control in a manner that suits their agenda. Also for authoritarians, there are protected classes (i.e., the class with authority) and the process of protecting this class always results in the devaluing of some other class.

      All cults are authoritarian groups, but not all authoritarian groups are cults.

      • “Authoritarian” and “cult” both have advantages– “cult” implies a kind of structure that just isn’t there, but it’s good about the emotional effects. “Authoritarian” is good about the demands, but doesn’t convey the emotional stickiness.

        I vote for “an authoritarian left” rather than “the authoritarian left” since there are more explicitly authoritarian communist countries which don’t resemble SJ.

        I know people who identify as Social Justice Warriors, so I’ll use the phrase as descriptive rather than as viewing it as an insult.

  23. benwave says:

    Well I’ll be. Seems like at least one god really doesn’t play dice!

  24. http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2758 Conclusion: exercise doesn’t help depression.

    TREAD carefully with your conclusions! Exercise to treat depression – is it effective? They say there are problems with the study linked above, like inadequate monitoring of the exercise, but also “A Cochrane review conducted by Mead and colleagues in 2010 included 25 relevant randomised controlled trials, many of which had methodological weaknesses, and concluded that exercise did seem to improve symptoms of depression but that the effect sizes were moderate and not statistically significant.”

    Found something more recent! Exercise, Physical Activity, and Sedentary Behavior in the Treatment of Depression: Broadening the Scientific Perspectives and Clinical Opportunities

    “In sum, evidence-based treatment for depression continues to expand, but successful treatment and maintenance of treatment response remain limited. Thus, there is a continued need for research into factors that predict successful treatment outcomes. Further research is certainly needed into the effects of planned exercise on depression, including the optimal dose–response and underlying causal mechanisms. However, additional longitudinal studies are also necessary to better understand the complex relationship between habitual physical activity, sedentary behavior, and depression severity. Importantly, these investigations should include children and adolescents. Studies that attempt to assess how changes in levels of activity and inactivity may moderate/mediate the response to empirically supported depression treatments will be particularly relevant. From a public health perspective, it may also be relevant to determine whether those who meet the minimum physical activity levels recommended for general health (40) respond with lower depression severity posttreatment compared to those who do not meet these recommended levels.”

    Unless I’ve missed something, there’s evidence that depressed people move less than non-depressed people, but not a lot of evidence that more movement (I give the article credit for noticing that there’s more to movement than exercise– “exercise is only one subtype of physical activity, involving planned, repetitive movement, purposefully engaged in to improve fitness and/or health.”) actually helps with depression.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Cochrane concludes that exercise is no more effective than drugs or therapy. Don’t apply a double standard. The real conclusion is that depression is hard to treat. Don’t blame that on exercise.

  25. Corey says:

    Old studies: Australia’s experience in the 1990s proves gun control worked. New study: Australia’s experience in the 1990s proves gun control didn’t work.

    The preponderance of gun deaths are suicides; looking exclusively at homicides (as the linked study does) misses a big part of the picture.

  26. Bram Cohen says:

    Here’s the link to the video giving a similar theory to what you said in the toxoplasma of rage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE3j_RHkqJc

    On the question of why more women don’t have feminized hormones and hence more children (the feminine digit link): There’s a general mystery as to why we humans have so few children in general. It appears that human females could straightforwardly have more children without much damage to the ones they already have and thus be more selected for. This isn’t just a mystery in humans, although we’re the most extreme example. It applies to apes in general. Thinking about a specific trait isn’t likely to shed much light on the more general mystery.

  27. Mikhail Ramendik says:

    …and I really liked the material on Reactionaries…

    Please tell me you don’t actually agree with that Vox article about how attacking Libya was right because of helping alleged civilians, and it’s just an interesting link. Because it IS an interesting link, and is also pure concentrated BS. Evidenced by the fact that the Benghazi rebels, whom Gaddafi described as “rats”, repaid the kindness of the US giving them a victory by killing a US ambassador.

    It’s simply that his description was accurate. There never was any massacre of civilians in the plans, only a suppression of a brutal rebellion of traitors. Who proved their nature as traitors by that murder. Rats, they were. And right, he was. (In that particular case and this has no bearing on his bearing right or wrong in other particular cases).

    • suntzuanime says:

      I’m no fan of protestors, but I think it would be for the best if we refrained from metaphorically referring to human beings as vermin.

      • Sastan says:

        I think they lost the label “protestor” about the time they began an armed rebellion. And they earned the label “terrorist shitheads” when they decided to murder the ambassador of one of the nations that helped them in their struggle. By rights, we are at war with Libya. They have declared war on us, and we have declined to prosecute it.

        The only problem I have with comparing them to vermin is that vermin have some positive characteristics. Check your speciest privilege!

        • suntzuanime says:

          I mean we can argue briefcase versus shotgun all day, but that wasn’t really my point. Conceptualizing human beings as vermin is barbarous, it doesn’t matter if they declared war on you or whatever. The United States has declared war on a group or two, and it’s certainly performed it’s share of foul murder.

          • Jiro says:

            Gaddhafi described them as vermin, not the poster. The poster was only agreeing with him; when you agree with someone who uses impolite words, you are limited to agreeing with the words he actually said.

            (And it would be stupid for the poster to have “disagreed” on the ground that he agreed with the factual claim but would have expressed it differently.)

            This is also an excellent example of why we shouldn’t have rules against such bad words. The rules always get applied regardless of context.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I’m aware that he’s agreeing with Col. Gaddafi. I’m saying it’s wrong to agree with him, you shouldn’t, he was behaving barbarously in this instance. If I seemed to be focusing my criticism on Sastan and Mikhail, it’s because Col. Gaddafi is no longer around to mend his ways.

            I think you’re wrong to consider this an issue of bad words. The words are fine, vermin are real things and I’ve seen them. Rather, it’s a bad concept that those words describe, and if you agree with that concept you are doing a bad thing.

    • Earthly Knight says:

      Ambassador Stevens was murdered by Islamist militias. The people of Benghazi subsequently rose up and drove the militias out of the city, in part out of outrage over the fallen ambassador, who was widely liked.

      This point will be missed if you see all Arabs as a hivemind who are collectively responsible for the actions of each individual Arab, of course.

      • Sastan says:

        The buck always stops somewhere. Your insinuation of racism is noted and your opinion accordingly discounted. I am well aware (most likely far better than you) of the divisions within the arab world. And there was enough support in Benghazi to organize, support and finance a fifteen-hour siege of two separate American holdings without any resistance from the locals, or any interference from the government. With medium crew-served weapons.

        If a white supremacist militia in the US wandered into DC, laid siege to a foreign embassy for the better part of a day, and killed a number of their diplomats, you think they might hold the US government responsible?

        Oh, and that “drove the militias out” was bullshit. They did no such thing. They just held their weekly riot, and western media, desperate to show something positive for the area, characterized it as throwing the militias out. It never happened. Ansar Al Sharia never left, is still there. And the area is now a hive for ISIS. Apparently, the people who were murdering the ambassador were actually the moderates in the area. Says something about the local population, I think.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          And there was enough support in Benghazi to organize, support and finance a fifteen-hour siege of two separate American holdings without any resistance from the locals, or any interference from the government.

          The attack on the embassy began at just before 10 local time and was over in less than an hour and a half. The attack on the CIA annex went on intermittently from midnight until around 6, when Libyan government forces helped to evacuate the remaining Americans.

          If a white supremacist militia in the US wandered into DC, laid siege to a foreign embassy for the better part of a day, and killed a number of their diplomats, you think they might hold the US government responsible?

          I like that you’re holding the newly-formed and basically impotent government of a state that had just emerged from a civil war to the same standard as the most powerful country in the world.

          Better question: if a white-supremacist militia wandered into Reykjavik and laid a two-hour siege to an embassy there in the dead of night, would you hold the Icelandic government responsible? No, of course not, because what the hell were they going to do about it?

          They just held their weekly riot, and western media, desperate to show something positive for the area, characterized it as throwing the militias out.

          I see. You know Libyans are vermin, and any evidence that they are human beings who behave with compassion and gratitude sometimes must therefore be spurious.

          Your actual racism is duly noted and your opinion accordingly discounted.

          • Sastan says:

            You’re going to look long and hard without finding the word “libyans” in my discussion of who needs to be denigrated. It is clear from context (which you seem to be immune to) that the group under discussion is not “libyans”, but rather armed, violent insurgent groups. Who am I kidding? You’re not going to look at all.

            Why don’t you continue this argument with yourself, since you’re providing my side of it, including wholly invented parts, and my motivation!

            For anyone else reading this, here’s the current state of Ansar Al Sharia, at last reading of mine: They are the government of Benghazi. They provide the police, the courts, the governance. The only real threat they face is from the Islamic State.

            http://www.hudson.org/research/11197-the-rise-and-decline-of-ansar-al-sharia-in-libya

            Does that sound like they were driven out by popular rage to you? That whole story was a figment of western media imagination. A lie meant to diffuse American anger at such a vile and baseless attack. And it worked.

          • J Mann says:

            6 hours is kind of a long time, to be fair. One question I’d love to see is what we were doing to motivate the Libyans.

            (You would think that with our people under armed attack, President Obama would be on the phone with Libya explaining that they needed to send everybody, and do it now.)

          • Earthly Knight says:

            It is clear from context (which you seem to be immune to) that the group under discussion is not “libyans”, but rather armed, violent insurgent groups.

            In your last comment you insinuated that the lack of “resistance from the locals” and “interference from the government” reflected poorly on both groups. You then talked about how, in what you strangely took to be an analogous situation, we would be justified in holding the US government responsible. If you were trying to say that only armed, violent insurgent groups were culpable for the attack, you did so in an exceptionally unclear way.

            Does that sound like they were driven out by popular rage to you?

            I don’t know why you think the expression “driven out” means “driven out, never to return.” It does not.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            6 hours is kind of a long time, to be fair. One question I’d love to see is what we were doing to motivate the Libyans.

            My guess is that they were waiting until the American reinforcements arrived at the airport, or for dawn to break. From what I could glean looking at about five different sources, it appears that the CIA annex didn’t come under sustained attack until around the time the convoy arrived, which was when the Seals were killed by mortar fire.

          • Sastan says:

            EK continues to equivocate between the earlier discussion of armed groups generally, and the later discussion of Benghazi specifically.

            For now, let us leave the former and focus on the latter. EK has put forth the position (If I read him aright) that the murder of the ambassador and the siege of the CIA compound were isolated instances of one violent group getting a lucky hit in, and then being defenestrated by the outraged local populace.

            My response to this is that the militia which carried out the attack was not driven out, and in fact have only gained power since their assault. They are no longer one militia among many, but the primary government of the city. They are under threat, not from any national government or western reprisal, but from other islamic radicals, even more heinous than they are! Apparently, far from kicking them out, the locals put them in charge once they had murdered the US ambassador.

            As to the people of Benghazi, and Libya more generally. I do not assign them primary blame for Stevens, but the various armed groups are all outgrowths of that population. This is what they support. And you can tell which ones have more support by which ones win. And Ansar Al Sharia was winning, until the people found an even more likeable group in ISIS. And yes, that says volumes about the people of Libya. Specifically, it says that the social, political and religious center of the country is wildly islamist, and closer to ISIS than to Al Qaeda.

            War is politics by another means. You don’t get terrorism or armed conflict without a LOT of support, especially without a strong national government to enforce anything. The members of the US military make up less than half a percent of the population, but their adventures and misadventures are the pointy end of the politics of the population of the US. So too with armed groups the world over.

            So if I was unclear, EK, the members of Ansar al Sharia are vermin. They should be exterminated to the last man. The citizens of Libya are just a bog-standard hardcore islamist population, with all the bell curve ends that implies. The ones in Benghazi seem to be even more insane than that. And you are a misrepresenting apologist for all of them, apparently.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Apparently, far from kicking them out, the locals put them in charge once they had murdered the US ambassador.

            As to the people of Benghazi, and Libya more generally. I do not assign them primary blame for Stevens, but the various armed groups are all outgrowths of that population. This is what they support. And you can tell which ones have more support by which ones win.

            Can you provide any evidence for these claims? Militias do not in general rule by referendum.

          • John Schilling says:

            Militias do not in general rule by referendum.

            Of course they don’t; militias are more truly democratic than that.

            With militias, everybody who actually cares, decides which one they want to join. Then we see who’s got the biggest battalions, and do what they say. If Nice Guys of Benghazi has more people with guns saying “Americans are our friends; lay off!” than Ansar al-Sharia has saying “Death to America!”, then Benghazi becomes a pretty nice place for Americans and the surviving members of Ansar al-Sharia either lay low or move someplace else.

            But, “everybody who actually cares”. Militia rule does not allow the illusion that if you’ve got an opinion but not the stones to back it up, your vote counts as much as that of the guy who is willing to kill or die for what he believes in.

            With militia rule, you know who your real friends are.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I think there are definitely other factors which determine who wins the militia battle besides who’s more willing to die for their beliefs. Experience, funding, arms, brutality, and proportion of fighting-age men all count for a lot. ISIS currently has dominion over large swaths of Kurdish territory in Iraq and Syria, for example, but this is not because the Kurds are eager to be ruled by a vicious Arab death-cult.

  28. https://www.statnews.com/2016/04/12/unearthed-data-challenge-dietary-advice/

    Lost data from a fairly well-designed study from the 1970s showed that substituting vegetable oils for animal fats and margarine lowered blood cholesterol and raised the death rate.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Nutrition studies are second only to gun control studies for sheer lack of value. There, the prevailing philosophies seem to be a form of asceticism, where what tastes good must be bad for you, along with a general anti-meat pro-veggie belief. Study shows that a little alcohol seems positive? Let’s do a bunch more studies to try and discredit that notion (it must be the flavonoids, yeah, that’s it, definitely not the alcohol). Study shows that heating and especially frying food produces carcinogens? OK, mission accomplished, let’s write recommendations to not heat food too much, all the way down to recommending only lightly toasting bread.

  29. I have read that there is a link/correlation between Type 1 diabetes and milk allergies. (I am partial to the theory that milk allergies in infants may trigger an auto-immune reaction that attacks the pancreas.)

    So people who don’t have diabetes are more likely to drink milk than those who do, but it’s not necessarily the milk that’s preventing diabetes.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      The article about milk is about type 2 diabetes. Protip: diabetes means type 2 diabetes.

  30. SJ says:

    About the gun control study:

    [sarc]
    I thought “gun control” meant “hitting your target”.
    [/sarc]

    More seriously the question of “gun control works” or “gun control doesn’t work” depends on the definition of “working”.

    As a hypothetical: If the number of fatal crimes (or assaults, or robbery-with-lethal weapon) does not change, but the primary criminal tool changes from gun to machete, does that count as a gun-control success?

    As another hypothetical: if the Police can verify that most gun-owners have dotted each “i” and crossed each “t” correctly on the paperwork, does that count as a gun-control success? [1]

    As a final hypothetical: if the Police apprehend a murderer, and discover that he purchased a stolen gun on the black market, is that a gun-control failure? [2]

    In my opinion, “Gun Control” is a misnomer, as the law attempts to control the behavior of people who own or possess guns.

    If the people are reasonably well-behaved towards each other, gun-control laws won’t change their behavior very much.

    If the people involved have strong sociopathic tendencies, gun-control law may make it harder to (legally) acquire guns as a tool of violence. Of course, the ease of acquiring guns through black-market channels may make gun-control laws ineffective.[3]

    [1] I would call this a paperwork-law success, not a gun-control law success.

    [2] Of interest, the United States Dept. of Justice studied where criminals got their guns. This study was carried out in 1991, and again in 1997.
    The DoJ got data from convicted prisoners who had used a gun in their crime. So this may not be the best representative sample of criminals who use guns, but it’s the best one available.
    Something like 40% acquired from a friend or family member. Another 40% acquired their gun from “street trade or other illegal source”.
    Of the remainder, something like 8% were from a retail store, 4% from a pawnshop, 1% from a flea market, 1% from a gun-show, and most of the remainder from “other sources”.

    Link to the study
    http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fuo.pdf

    [3] The size of the black market for guns–as well as the size of the gray-market for guns, and the ease of transfer from gray-market to black-market–is likely the biggest difference between Australia and the United States.
    And it would make for a heck of a confounding variable when trying to apply the lessons learned in one nation to the laws and policies of the other nation.

      • bluto says:

        Defense distributed is a great hobby for crypto-nerds and those who really like open source (because it’s hacking the law) or for the truly paranoid gun owner (the ones who were previously buying from private sellers and burying guns they had no record of owning).

        AR-15s are very uncommon in most crime because they’re too large to conceal and they’re relatively expensive (all in they’re about twice the price of a cheap pistol). They’re very popular with shooters because they’re like PCs in that they’re easy to assemble and there’s a vast market for aftermarket parts.

        Just for the record making the same part for an AK-47 requires access to just about any sheet steel right down to a garden shovel’s blade.

        If you want to cut criminals access to guns, make small scale sales of gun to prohibited person very visibly prosecuted and focus hard on educating likely buyers as to the criminal nature of an act that otherwise doesn’t seem very bad.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Bluto – “Defense distributed is a great hobby for crypto-nerds and those who really like open source (because it’s hacking the law)”

          That’s my interest in it. I’m pro-gun, and I see the end-runs around the law being made by things like the above, California bullet-buttons and the Slidestock as tremendously encouraging signs for how a seemingly intractable debate is being nullified by innovation. As for the Ghost Gunner trailer, I think it’s interesting how they don’t even attempt to rebut the other side’s biases, but simply play right along with them, hamming it up the whole way. It’s something completely new, and that’s enormously refreshing for a fight I’ve been involved in for decades.

          “Just for the record making the same part for an AK-47 requires access to just about any sheet steel right down to a garden shovel’s blade.”
          I’ve linked it before, but it’s a goddamn masterpiece.
          [CW: Guns, red-tribe rudeness]

  31. Vaniver says:

    Everything we knew about classical Chinese civilization came from attempts to reconstruct it after the Qin Emperor burnt all the books around 200 BC.

    I was under the impression that this was a slander against the Qin Emperor–he actually just burned people who had promised him immortality and then failed to deliver (along with their books).

    • onyomi says:

      It’s debated how trustworthy Sima Qian’s account is, though I don’t think it’s commonly accepted that he only burned such books as promised him immortality. It seems quite plausible he would have burned other texts he saw as subversive or heterodox, as would be wholly in keeping with his “standardizing” impulse (characters, axle lengths, etc.).

      That said, there is definitely a strong, unjustifiable historical tendency to treat the new dynasty’s account of its hated predecessor with credulity. The traditional Zhou account of the fall of the Shang, for example, is suspiciously unflattering, and this sort of thing continues to this day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atrocity_propaganda

      It is probably safe to say that, to the extent we don’t have a lot of pre-Qin editions of things, the role of “book burnings” is probably overestimated and the role of time and relative infrequency of writing underestimated. The situation in India is far worse, for example, but not due to a bunch of political book burnings. Rather more due to focus on oral transmission and use of more fragile materials like banana leaves.

      • Stefan Drinic says:

        Chinese historiography just appears to be very, very uninterested in actual Chinese history, and that pattern appears to continue to this day. I had a professor teaching us premodern Chinese history in Leiden, and he often told us how his (geographically) closest actual colleague happened to be in Leipzig. It’s not a widely practiced field.

        • onyomi says:

          Wait, what? Few people study Chinese history?? That seems, not at all right, though maybe one could argue it is understudied relative to its historical population size. I mean, every US college and university of any significance has at least one, if not a few China historians on the faculty. Or are you criticizing the way Chinese historians study Chinese history?

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          Yes, I am. The amount of even credentialed historians who take the old moralistic narrative at face value is depressing.

          • onyomi says:

            On the one hand I have totally been frustrated by Chinese historians’ and art critics’ tendency to romanticism and credulity with respect to their own traditions; at the same time, there have been many cases, as with the case of the Guodian Laozi, or, indeed, of the terra cotta army, which Sima Qian recorded but which was only found recently, when the traditional historicist accounts have proven right and the chronically skeptical Western observers wrong.

            Moreover, it is surely not only the Chinese who are vulnerable to myopia and motivated reasoning when it comes to their interpretation of their own history and tradition. I would be very interested, for example, to read a Chinese historian’s view of the US Revolutionary and Civil Wars (which probably exist somewhere, though I haven’t looked into it), precisely because there aren’t all these political-cultural stakes involved in every interpretation.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Ehh. There’s Western scepticism such as that of Marx, who said that Chinese history just isn’t really history; people trying to just kind of dismiss China as something inconsequential, isn’t what I’m getting at; it still looks at history from the paradigm presented by ancient historiographers. The historians you want to look out for are those sorts who try to explain why Tang China wasn’t China’s greatest thing ever, or why the late Ming was in a much better spot in general wellbeing than it was a century before its fall.

            I very much do agree on a Chinese reading of Western events being potentially interesting, though. I’d read the shit out of that if I could find anything of decent quality.

    • John Schilling says:

      …he actually just burned people who had promised him immortality and then failed to deliver

      How did he know?

      • Nornagest says:

        I’m not familiar with the sources, but if the promise was phrased as “eternal youth” or something along those lines, failure is fairly obvious.

        • LHN says:

          There also might have been test subjects on whom the Emperor could observe the effects of a diet high in cinnabar or whatever before subjecting his own august personage to it.

  32. Nick says:

    The random promotion study is pretty awful. Yes, it is a computer model (I would have just said a model) without any empirical work behind it. It’s a dynamic model of a firm with 6 levels of management and workers with random qualities. Each period, some workers quit, and from the remaining workers, some are promoted or not according to one of three naive promotion rules, one of which is ‘randomly promote’, and one of which is ‘always promote the best guy’, and one of which is ‘always promote the worst guy’. They assume that the firm is more productive when you have higher quality guys in better positions.

    They first assume that when you promote a high quality guy, that he stays a high quality guy. In this case, ‘promoting the best person’ is the best policy.

    They then assume that when you promote a high quality guy, he draws a new random quality. Surprise! Promoting low quality workers becomes the best policy! (Promoting randomly is in the middle.)

    The authors characterize this approach as ‘game theory-like’. (And they cite an introductory game theory textbook.) There is not an ounce of game theory anywhere in this paper. There’s a gigantic literature in game theory on this topic, I’m not aware of a single model in which ‘promote randomly’ is the best policy by a firm. It’s the stupidest of research projects and it’s sad that it was covered by major media outlets.

  33. I’m just disappointed we haven’t had a links roundup called Linky McLinkface.

  34. Ptoliporthos says:

    Peruvians aren’t western? Why not?

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Because they’re not white. Man, come on, get on with the program.

    • Peru is one of the most heavily Amerindian nations.
      Using Wiki as my reference here:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas
      Peru’s Amerindian population is second only to Mexico’s. But Mexico is vastly larger (112 million). Peru’s Amerindian population is something like 13 million out of a total population of like 30 million.

      My understanding is that Mexico also had an unusually strong, conservative, Spanish wing that increased the “Westernization” of the nation. Fun tidbit: A major factor in winning independence against Spain was that Spain was run by the early 19th century equivalent of “crazy liberals” and the Mexican elite wanted a damn king.
      A little bit different than the whole Bolivar movement further South.
      The Viceroyalty in Lima wasn’t anywhere near as strong.

      • Tibor says:

        They wanted an Emperor, actually. And had Franz Josef I. not rejected them (which he probably did because he had enough problems with keeping the Empire together as it was), there would have been an Austria-Hungary-Mexico of sorts 🙂 At the end they convinced another Habsburg, Franz Josef’s brother Maximilian to do the job but after a short while they decided that they wanted a republic after all and abolished the monarchy, so the Empire did not last very long.

  35. Anonymaus says:

    When taking a quick glance at the actual data of that weight loss (compensators / noncompensators) study I expected to see two natural clusters emerge, but I get the feeling that it is (almost) beautifully normally distributed with the mean right at the predicted weight loss. What they label “(non)compensators” are just the groups of “people who lost more weight than expected” and “people who lost less weight than expected”. (In a similar way one could divide adult men into “tall men” and “short men” by whether they are taller or shorter than average height — it would be a descriptive label, but it would not be a natural category with respect to any underlying mechanics)

    I haven’t read all of it, but what I perceive as the “actual” result of that study would be “the variability of weight loss in people who start exercising can be explained by change in energy intake (not change in resting metabolic rate)”, though I think they could just have done simple regression analysis to find that.

  36. Wish I Was Drunk says:

    PLACE YOUR BETS

    https://www.captionbot.ai/

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

    How long until its shown this is all a simulation…anyone?

  37. Eltargrim says:

    Please forgive me if this is too gender specific/unrelated for a link thread, but I’ve just seen this on reddit and I’d love to have another set of perspectives:

    Current sales taxes on tampons and other feminine hygiene products: yea, nae, or other?

    My take is complicated by the fact that in my jurisdiction, similarly important products (e.g. toilet paper) are currently taxed as any other non-essential product. Part of the local debate is over how essential feminine hygiene products actually are

    On the one hand, it isn’t “fair” to expect one gender to front any special fees. On the other, there are many important products that are taxed regardless of how “important” they are. Further complicating matters are societal standards (can’t be freebleeding), the invisible hand of the market, alternative options (e.g. Diva cups), and the actual amount of wealth involved (e.g. taxes on feminine hygiene products amount to dollars per year per individual, but collectively account to millions of dollars of government revenue).

    My current stance is that the taxes are not unjustified as part of the base taxation sample.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      In the UK, tampon taxes are mandated by the EU, which I find entertaining to people who oppose both the taxes and leaving the EU.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Seems to me feminine hygiene products are as essential as toilet paper. But there’s no general “essentials” exception to sales taxes. In New Jersey, both tampons and toilet paper (actually all paper goods for household use) are exempt. In New York they are both taxable.

      I don’t know of any state where feminine hygiene products are taxable and general hygiene products are not taxable. But if there are any, I’d bet it was the unintended effect of a web of unprincipled exceptions, not the moustache-twisting patriarchy trying to find a way to stick it to women.

      But that’s not the point, of course. The point is to demonstrate the existence of the moustache-twisting patriarchy oppressing women, and use that to obtain power (and not just to add another sales tax exemption) for the group complaining.

    • Deiseach says:

      It’s difficult to judge because there isn’t a comparable male-only product to see if that is taxed or not.

      If they’re taxing toilet paper then taxing sanitary pads and tampons is not making an exception. Incontinence supplies seem to be taxed also; child diapers may or may not be taxed, depending on the state.

      Medical supplies do not seem to be taxed; do you therefore count tampons etc. to be medical supplies or not?

    • brad says:

      I don’t see any particular reason to have any exemptions in a sales tax. If you want a progressive tax, the income tax is sitting right there.

      • onyomi says:

        Though I think the economic effects would be great if the US federal income tax were replaced by a national sales tax with exemptions for food and, maybe lodging and medical care, on which poor people spend a disproportionately large percentage of their income.

        • The current federal income tax collects almost no money from the bottom half of the income distribution, so although what you describe would be equivalent to a graduated income tax, it would be considerably less graduated than the income tax now is.

          • onyomi says:

            To me, that is a feature. Mitt Romney got in trouble for saying so, but the negative incentives created by the current situation seem pretty severe, both practically, and from the perspective of the notion of government as something “we” all do together the left so loves.

            (They insist on everyone having a voice, a vote, etc., but when it comes to everyone contributing to the government, even if a much lower sum, they are suddenly silent; I think this is because the reality is that, for the left, one of the major functions of the government is precisely to take from the rich, successful, and able-bodied to give to the poor, infirm, old, and historically oppressed: the graduated nature is, in some sense, the whole point. But my point is that that reality doesn’t mesh well with all the nice rhetoric about “us” doing things “together.”)

            Having everyone pay at least something provides a very good incentive to keep the tax from ever getting too high, and, moreover, encourages people to think of government spending in terms of cost-benefit (is this new program worth the inevitable increase in sales tax it will mean for me?), rather than as something which just sort of comes out of thin air, funded vaguely at some point by unsympathetic rich people and corporations (and this is precisely why the government wouldn’t want that).

          • Anonymous says:

            for the left, one of the major functions of the government is precisely to take from the rich, successful, and able-bodied to give to the poor, infirm, old, and historically oppressed: the graduated nature is, in some sense, the whole point. But my point is that that reality doesn’t mesh well with all the nice rhetoric about “us” doing things “together.”

            Well, without disagreeing with what you say about incentives, one of the things I want us to do together is help those among us who are poor, infirm, old, and historically oppressed. So I don’t think a steeply progressive income tax is in conflict with rhetoric about togetherness.

          • onyomi says:

            Does the “us” doing things “together” include the old, poor, infirm, and oppressed themselves? If yes, in what sense are we doing anything “together” with them if they aren’t actually contributing? If no, then why can they vote? Or is their contribution of their desire/demand to be helped enough to count as part of the “us” doing things together? The latter sounds more like “taking stuff from people who have more” than “doing things together.”

            Two conceivable ways this rhetoric about “us” would seem more justifiable: 1. you don’t get to vote that year if you didn’t pay any income taxes last year or 2. abolish the income tax and replace it with a sales tax which will still hit rich people harder (albeit not as much harder) because they buy more expensive things and because we can exempt things poor people spend a lot of money on.

            I would personally be okay with 1. There were a few years in my early twenties when, though eligible to vote, I paid no income tax because I earned no appreciable income. If you had told me that I didn’t get to vote until I started paying into the system, that would not have seemed a huge injustice to me. But I’m sure it would to many people, so option 2 is better, though also not likely in the near future (but more likely than option 1, I think).

            Option 2 also has the following benefits: besides the aforementioned incentive to keep taxes low, it eliminates huge amounts of money, time, and resources wasted on preparing personal income tax documents and, moreover, incentivizes savings and investment over spending: rich people who put their money into charity, or reinvest in companies (which usually employ poorer people) will avoid the tax. Rich people who buy a bunch of yachts will have to pay it.

            Income taxation, perversely, disincentivizes making money in the first place, therefore disincentivizing the very growth which tends to make poorer people better off in the long run.

          • Jiro says:

            One big argument against limiting the franchise is that they are still subject to laws made by politicians who get voted for.

            Perhaps the fact that poor people still have to abide by laws that disadvantage them make them part of “us” for these purposes.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I think this is because the reality is that, for the left, one of the major functions of the government is precisely to take from the rich, successful, and able-bodied to give to the poor, infirm, old, and historically oppressed

            Your language of “taking” and “giving” depends on the assumption that we are (at least pro tanto) entitled to every penny of our pretax income and that the federal government by imposing taxes is “taking” it from us. I do not see any reason to buy into this assumption.

            Does the “us” doing things “together” include the old, poor, infirm, and oppressed themselves? If yes, in what sense are we doing anything “together” with them if they aren’t actually contributing? If no, then why can they vote? Or is their contribution of their desire/demand to be helped enough to count as part of the “us” doing things together?

            I’m not sure if “togetherness” should be seen as anything more than a poetical metaphor. But we are all bound by the same social contract no matter what shape our life happens to take, which means we should get equal say when society considers changes to that contract. It seems bizarre to me to suggest that whether you get a voice in the political system whose laws govern you should depend on accidents of birth, health, natural talents, or age. You couldn’t find a job for a couple years, got hit by a car, or are too old to work, so you don’t get any say in determining your own fate. Sorry!

            I sometimes worry if I am paranoid for thinking that every libertarian is about three bad arguments from becoming a fascist. But if you’re already talking about marking off society into the class of contributors and the class of parasites, and restricting the civil rights of the latter, well…

            Income taxation, perversely, disincentivizes making money in the first place, therefore disincentivizing the very growth which tends to make poorer people better off in the long run.

            By the same token, sales taxes disincentivize commerce and thereby inhibit economic growth. Maybe there are recherche economic arguments for why we should think that income taxes hurt more, but you haven’t presented any.

          • Urstoff says:

            I sometimes worry if I am paranoid for thinking that every libertarian is about three bad arguments from becoming a fascist.

            Well, I think every social contractarian is about two steps from becoming a proud authoritarian, so I guess it cuts both ways.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Your language of “taking” and “giving” depends on the assumption that we are entitled to every penny of our pretax income.

            Assuming for the sake of argument that we are not, what exactly is the moral case against slavery?

            It seems bizarre to me to suggest that whether you get a voice in the political system whose laws govern you should depend on accidents of birth, health, natural talents, or age. You couldn’t find a job for a couple years, got hit by a car, or are too old to work, so you don’t get any say in determining your own fate. Sorry!

            It follows from the previous assumption. If the money/resources you give the state belong to you, you ought to have a say in how they are used.

            It all comes back to the old argument about whether the government belongs to the people or the people belong to the government.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Assuming for the sake of argument that we are not, what exactly is the moral case against slavery?

            Do you seriously think that the chief objection to slavery is that the slaves do not receive 100% of their pre-tax earnings?

            It follows from the previous assumption. If the money/resources you give the state belong to you, you ought to have a say in how they are used.

            Huh? How do you get from “you ought to have a say in how the government spends your taxes” to “old people should be disenfranchised”?

          • onyomi says:

            “But we are all bound by the same social contract no matter what shape our life happens to take, which means we should get equal say when society considers changes to that contract.”

            Embedded here are many problematic assumptions I don’t share.

            And I’m not saying this “you must pay in to vote” thing is a good idea (nor did I talk about a “class” of “parasites”: in my example, I was a “parasite” in my early twenties and a payer now); I’m just saying it is one conceivable way of justifying all the “stuff we do together” rhetoric, which I fundamentally don’t buy, though not the best one (the best one, as I said, was to actually have everyone contribute at least a little, even if the net contribution of the poorest ends up being only nominal).

            Also, even if I were suggesting disenfranchising some large underclass of “parasites,” I’m not sure how that would make me any closer to being a fascist. Fascists are all about the “unity” of “das Volk” and the like. In fact, the whole “government is something we do together” thing strikes me as a bit fascist.

            Re. the question of whether it’s better to disincentivize making money or spending money on consumer goods, it’s a more basic economic question which may come down to supply side v. demand side or some such, but to put it simply: do you really think that what is holding back Americans economically is their chronic tightfistedness? Their unwillingness to put things they can’t afford on their credit card? Their habit of saving and investing too much of their extra income?

          • The lower half still pay considerable taxes through sales taxes and regressive payroll taxes. Disenfranchising non-income tax payers is quite literally taxation without representation, and creates much, much worse incentives.

            80% payroll tax, 5% income tax on the top 1%. All settled then!

            My principal concern is low economic growth, protected cartels, and unnecessary regulation. My principal work concern is how we abrogate the contract with offshore Indian labor.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Do you seriously think that the chief objection to slavery is that the slaves do not receive 100% of their pre-tax earnings?

            If by “pre-tax earnings” you mean “compensation for their labor”. Yes that absolutely is the chief objection to slavery.

            Huh? How do you get from “you ought to have a say in how the government spends your taxes” to “old people should be disenfranchised”?

            Simple…
            Is “person X” paying taxes? If yes they get a say in how those taxes are spent. If not, they don’t.

            Edit:
            onyomi says: whole “government is something we do together” thing strikes me as a bit fascist.

            It’s not just “a bit fascist” it is explicitly fascist. Society is the State and the State is society.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Also, even if I were suggesting disenfranchising some large underclass of “parasites,” I’m not sure how that would make me any closer to being a fascist. Fascists are all about the “unity” of “das Volk” and the like. In fact, the whole “government is something we do together” thing strikes me as a bit fascist.

            Fascism always involved persecuting those segments of the population judged to be disposable parasites, typically including ethnic minorities, the disabled, the mentally ill, beggars, and the elderly and infirm. We, the Contributors, the able-bodied, mentally sound Italians/Aryans/Spaniards, are all in this together. They are not among us.

            Your proposal would restrict the franchise to pretty much the same group of people, mutatis mutandis for America versus continental Europe.

            do you really think that what is holding back Americans economically is their chronic tightfistedness?

            The economy’s in pretty good shape these days, so I’m not sure that anything in particular is holding us back. But the conventional wisdom I’ve heard about the last recession (and really, recessions in general) is that they are exacerbated by a collapse in demand which takes place when wary consumers opt to save their money or pay down debts rather than hit the mall, the so-called paradox of thrift.

          • onyomi says:

            “The lower half still pay considerable taxes through sales taxes and regressive payroll taxes. Disenfranchising non-income tax payers is quite literally taxation without representation, and creates much, much worse incentives.”

            Firstly, let’s stop discussing this as if I think it’s a good idea. I don’t. I just said it was one conceivable way, and not the best way, to make the “stuff we do together” rhetoric make more sense, which may not be worth doing (better instead to jettison the rhetoric).

            That said, I am curious as to what these much worse incentives you speak of are?

            Also, (and again, I’m not suggesting we do this), the fact that most people pay state sales taxes doesn’t in any way inherently invalidate the idea: you could theoretically get to vote in the state elections and not the federal.

            As for the payroll tax, only people who make at least some income are paying it, so those people are also paying at least a little income tax (though maybe almost none at the very bottom end). Not that I’m in favor of the payroll tax. And I certainly wouldn’t favor a national sales tax in exchange for anything short of total abolition of the federal income tax (and ideally all taxes to tied to income, including payroll, medicare, etc.).

            The idea that social security is a pension “we” all “pay into” is another rhetorical fiction we could do without. Social security and medicare are welfare for old people, plain and simple. That doesn’t mean welfare for old people is necessarily a bad idea, but call it what it is.

            And this is the meat of my complaint: if you’re going to have welfare for old people, call it welfare for old people. If you want to call it a pension then make it into a real pension like, I’ve heard exists in say, Argentina. Similarly, if you’re going to have a system where half the population don’t contribute to funding the government, then stop calling the government something “we” do “together.” Or, if you want to call it that, create a system where everyone actually contributes a little.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            If by “pre-tax earnings” you mean “compensation for their labor”. Yes that absolutely is the chief objection to slavery.

            Really? Imagine a society where everyone is obliged to work (on pain of imprisonment, let’s say) and no one ever gets paid, but everyone is free to do whatever they want and has a nice middle-class lifestyle furnished for them by the state (nevermind for the moment whether the society described is humanly possible). Would these people be slaves? Would you judge their situation to be a particularly bad, or morally objectionable one?

            Is “person X” paying taxes? If yes they get a say in how those taxes are spent. If not, they don’t.

            Okay. Say I pay $40 in taxes, and you pay $10. Do your opinion get the same weight as mine in how those dollars are appropriated, or only 1/4 as much as mine?

          • onyomi says:

            “when wary consumers opt to save their money or pay down debts rather than hit the mall, the so-called paradox of thrift.”

            I know the conventional wisdom. But I’m asking you (and anyone else who cares to answer): does this seem to you a real thing? Is this really plausible? Did everyone just cut up their credit cards and tighten their belts when the recession hit? Or did people continue living basically the same lifestyle but start putting more on their credit cards? My overwhelming impression is the latter.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Yup, that definitely sounds like slavery.

            You’re “free to do whatever [you] want” except for the part where, well, you aren’t. If you don’t show up at work on time every morning it’s off to jail for you.

            (Incidentally this isn’t entirely theoretical, this happens semi-frequently with alimony / child support payments. The amount you pay is constant whether you’re employed or not, so if for whatever reason you lose your job it’s not too hard to end up in prison over it. My dad almost had that happen when I was growing up.)

            As for being entitled to your pay, this seems like the weirdest use of entitlement rhetoric ever. You are in fact literally entitled to your full wages. That’s what they are: the compensation you are entitled to for your work.

          • onyomi says:

            “Fascism always involved persecuting those segments of the population judged to be disposable parasites”

            Though I don’t know about always (the Japanese case comes to mind), this does bring up an interesting issue: many libertarians, myself included, fundamentally object to being forced into an “implied” “social contract” with million