SELF-RECOMMENDING!

Links 6/15: URLing Toward Freedom

Did you know England has one of the highest rates of tornadoes per unit area of anywhere in the world?

Why do some schools produce a disproportionate share of math competition winners? May not just be student characteristics.

My post The Control Group Is Out Of Control, as well as some of the Less Wrong posts that inspired it, has gotten cited in a recent preprint article, A Skeptical Eye On Psi, on what psi can teach us about the replication crisis. One of the authors is someone I previously yelled at, so I like to think all of that yelling is having a positive effect.

The Prescription Drug vs. Tolkien Elf Quiz. I am a doctor and Silmarillion fan, and I still only got 93%.

A study from Sweden (it’s always Sweden) does really good work examining the effect of education on IQ. It takes an increase in mandatory Swedish schooling length which was rolled out randomly at different times in different districts, and finds that the districts where people got more schooling have higher IQ; in particular, an extra year of education increases permanent IQ by 0.75 points. I was previously ambivalent about this, but this is a really strong study and I guess I have to endorse it now (though it’s hard to say how g-loaded it is or how linear it is). Also of note; the extra schooling permanently harmed emotional control ability by 0.5 points on a scale identical to IQ (mean 100, SD 15). This is of course the opposite of past studies suggest that education does not improve IQ but does help non-cognitive factors. But this study was an extra year tacked on to the end of education, whereas earlier ones have been measuring extra education tacked on to the beginning, or just making the whole educational process more efficient. Still weird, but again, this is a good experiment (EDIT: This might not be on g)

Did you know: Russian author Sergey Lukyanenko (of Night Watch fame) wrote a series of sci-fi novels set in the Master of Orion universe.

In my review of Age of Em, I said we were very far away from being able to simulate human brains, and sure enough just a few days later Derek Lowe wrote the fascinating Simulating The Brain? Let’s Try Donkey Kong First. Brain simulation proponents hope that without really understanding the brain we can make simple models of each part and how they connect to other parts and produce things that replicate that activity. But we can test these techniques right now on a much simpler and more accessible object – an old video game microprocessor – and they’re not good enough to do anything useful. See also Simulating The Brain. Sure Thing.

A post-mortem of the National Childrens’ Study, which was supposed to be a gold standard for gathering data on early childhood risk, but fell apart because of politics and administrative incompetence.

80,000 Hours’ career guide for people who hate career guides. Lots of statistics on how often each job-search strategy succeeds and fails.

The Devil With Hitler was a 1940s US wartime propaganda film in which Hell wants Hitler to take over from Satan, and Satan has to trick Hitler into performing a good deed to win his position back.

Related: “The present U.S. official position seems to be that Satan may exist and, if so, might be found in New Hampshire.”

Did you know that the Great Pyramid at Giza actually has eight sides? Kind of a weird site, but seems to check out as per the academic literature.

In the game of callout culture, either you win or you die.

Pssst, wanna buy a 92-house town in a National Radio Silence Zone? Only $1 million!

Related: Craigslist for 20 foot trebuchet

Google’s Larry Page has a flying car startup – and a second, competing flying car startup just to motivate the first one. Or at least he had them before someone wrote this article. I don’t know, if somebody says they’re going to give us flying cars but they might stop if it becomes public, I would think twice before publicizing it. And here’s a profile of the flying car design itself.

If Greece was the least neoliberal economy in the developed world, is it fair to blame its failures on neoliberalism?

Rate of innovation in Norway halved after law changed to give universities more of a share of professors’ discoveries.

Motherboard has an article about how censorship on Reddit – it points out that Reddit moderators heavy-handedly censored discussion of the Orlando shooting in unspecified ways, then goes on to condemn it for Donald Trump memes and anti-Hillary conspiracy theories. But it never mentions the whole point of the story it’s reporting about – that Reddit actually censored any information that the shooter was Middle Eastern or motivated by Islamic terrorism. I’m less worried about Reddit censorship (which eventually lifted) than I am about Motherboard’s own distorted reporting which somehow turns a story about excessive political correctness into bashing Reddit for being right-wing.

30% of people would choose to be the other gender if reincarnated, no difference between men and women.

Sam Altman: Nine years of claims that Silicon Valley is a bubble about to burst.

ScienceNews: Bayesian reasoning implicated on some mental disorders. If you’re interested, I wrote a Less Wrong post on this kind of thing back in 2012.

One estimate says that millions of Russians were fooled by a TV documentary claiming that Lenin was a mushroom. Here’s a paper with a little more information than the wiki article. Key quote: “One of the top regional functionaries stated that ‘Lenin could not have been a mushroom’ because ‘a mammal cannot be a plant.'”

Despite the interest in assault rifles when discussing gun violence, Alex Tabarrok finds that rifles as a category account for only 3% of all gun deaths, and fewer total murders than knives, bare hands, or blunt weapons. The real problem is with handguns, which cause about 20x more deaths than all rifles, assault or otherwise.

New study: schools giving out condoms increases teen births. This is just one study about one specific type of situation, and I can think of a few other studies contradicting it, so I won’t quite retract my previous position that the existence of contraceptives probably lowers unplanned pregnancy. But I’m sure glad I’m not the people who were arguing that the position was so stupid that nobody really held it and it was just an excuse for hating women.

Study of 50,000 people who underwent surgery for obesity finds that they have mortality rates only about 30% of those of similar peers who did not have surgery for obesity. Obesity surgery is a really serious operation, and a lot of doctors are scared of it because the side effects might be worse than the disease, but I think this provides very strong evidence that it is very much worth it. I don’t know whether we should lower the threshhold for who gets obesity surgery or not based on these data.

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

919 Responses to Links 6/15: URLing Toward Freedom

  1. A link about the effects of bariatric surgery not being as clear as all that.

    Scott, what I hear from people is that doctors push bariatric surgery pretty hard– one of my friends had it recommended because she was getting ear infections.

    Survey about why people leave Orthodox Judaism.

  2. Alex Z says:

    The problem with claims that something is a bubble is that they either provide an inadequate definition of their term or are making a much more boring claim than they will admit.

    Many people when they say there is bubble claim it means that asset prices are higher than they should be due to some underlying “fundamentals”. But nobody can actually compute what the fundamentals dictate the price should be. This makes the definition completely untestable. Was WhatsApp worth $22 billion based on its fundamentals? Well, that depends upon what your beliefs about the future are.

    But those who actually provide a good definition of a bubble understand than the important part is the bursting part. At some point, the bubble will burst. How can we tell a bubble has burst? Because asset prices will fall sharply. The problem with that is that now, the claim that we are in a bubble collapses to a claim that at some unspecified time in the future, asset prices will fall sharply. That is pretty much always true which makes the claim pretty uninteresting.

  3. Heymikey80 says:

    I was educated at 4 high schools, and two had fantastic math teachers. My best teachers knew where a concept had to sink in. They would show you something, pause, repeat the principle why it worked that way. Then show another example, pause, say the same thing slightly different. They knew a half dozen ways to say things, that different students would “get”. They paused. They took time.

    Many of my college teachers did the same. They were approaching math on behalf of my discipline, too, not the proofs & propositiins of math. I felt it was tough on them. They had to prefer too be teachers instead of mathematicians.

  4. onyomi says:

    Well, comparing everything you don’t like to a certain ancient god has really caught on.

  5. LPSP says:

    That schizophrenia face-mask test thing. I recgonised it immediately as inverse, and never paid any attention to the nose. Once I read the description, I looked at the nose and went “yeah, that kinda does look protruding in spite of the rest of the mask”. Wonder what that says about my mind.

    In other news, I managed to get 80% on the Drug-Elf test, which isn’t too bad for someone who’s only seen the movies and isn’t involved in medicine. Tolkein and pharmaceutical firms follow similarly constitent rules for naming things, so there are only a few tricky ones. If it ends in -fin it’s probably an Elf, if it ends in -one it’s definitely a drug.

    • Tok Nok says:

      So, schizophrenic patients are the only ones who see the world as it really is, and go mad due to seeing the eldritch abominations of Cthulhu?

      “As expected, all of the schizophrenic patients[out of 13] reported seeing the concave faces, while none[out of 16] of the control subjects did.”

      Actually, when I see statistics such as that, i’m more inclined to believe this is another make-pretend study in psychology that will fail the replication tests.

      Sorry, don’t believe it.

      • LPSP says:

        That’s plausible. Waiting out for repeated solid replication is always the best standard.

      • linker says:

        This is a solid result that has been replicated many times over decades. Those sample sizes you quote were for a new experiment of administering the illusion to people in MRI machines and are not the basis of the belief.

        PS – cut and paste your own hollow mask. Not (just) to play with flipping it back and forth, but mainly for the illusion that it moves as you move.

        • Tok Nok says:

          The replication crisis is so bad, and there are so many “proven” paradigms in psychology one after the other that get toppled, that its a field I can barely trust unless I do the experiments myself, or it confirms common sense.

          • Tok Nok says:

            edit with no ability to edit

            You should usually doubt a study in psychology, and perhaps even the sub-field that gives studies like that, that gives such results. You mostly see results as strong as that with studies like
            (People who have not slept for 7 days are outperformed by people who sleep well, or people given arsenic do worse at life then people not given arsenic)

          • linker says:

            Sorry, I missed that you were complaining about all vs none. But I think you have that backwards. Dramatic results replicate and p<.05 don't.

            Actually, bad result usually do have lots of published refutations, but people don't notice because the papers claim to be replications. They just claim to have found a modifying factor ("It's really caused by B not A, presumably because in the original sample all A were B."). Whereas, the hollow mask effect has lots of papers that attempt to isolate what cues the schizophrenics use and largely fail in their goal, but do accomplish a straight replication.

            Also, I think I have a pretty good grasp on which subfields of psychology consist of echo chamber cliques and which have real independent replications.

  6. Persona says:

    An interesting article about Estonia’s educational policy. Possibly of interest to readers.

  7. Murphy says:

    So, the UK voted out.
    The pound is tumbling already and it will take about 2 years to actually pull out.

    I hate to think what it’s going to do to interest rates since I’ll be needing to renew my mortgage just before then and an exodus of EU nationals from london is going to fuck up house prices which could push me into negative equity while EU science funding is likely to dry up in a hurry and hit my entire profession in the UK.

    It looks like the over 65’s voted heavily for brexit while the people who’ll actually have to live with the results voted heavily for remain.

    I know a lot of british people resident in other EU countries who are deeply pissed off because they were disenfranchised and didn’t have the right to vote despite this likely having a huge effect on their lives. (only a fraction of britons resident in the EU had the right to a postal vote, anyone away for too long didn’t) Ditto for a lot of EU residents living in the UK who also didn’t get a right despite having far more skin in the game than the shuffling-nearly-dead who mostly supported the out campaign.

    The prediction markets didn’t call it. Last night Predictit was at 13 cent to 88 against brexit happening.

    • brad says:

      The pensioners just voted themselves a 10% drop in the purchasing power of their fixed incomes. Oops.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        …based on the drop in the pound? you don’t think it’ll rebound once people realize the world hasn’t ended?

        • Murphy says:

          it’s not randomers selling the pound. It’s banks with teams of analysts looking at the likely effects. The simple uncertainty of the next 2 years until the exit terms are fixed is a big part of it. Investors hate uncertainty. until the terms are nailed down a lot of UK buisnesses will have great trouble getting bank loans because it’ll be uncertain whether their buisness will be viable at all in 2 years time.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      88% confidence means sometimes it doesn’t happen.

      A lot of the bad things predicted as a result of Brexit require active bad actors to happen following an actual Brexit. Mainland Europe is the UK’s biggest trading partner, but the UK is also the EU’s biggest trading partner.[1] The EU doesn’t want a trade war either. The EU may have signaled a trade war because they wanted the UK to stay in, but those are sunk costs now.

      I think the 2020-UK-that-leaves will be poorer than the 2020-UK-that-remained, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be tragic.

      [1] I can’t actually find specific references for this, since they all assume the UK is part of the EU for now.

      • Jiro says:

        The EU may have signaled a trade war because they wanted the UK to stay in, but those are sunk costs now.

        If the EU benefits overall from being believed about a trade war, they might have precommitted to one, in which case they’re now going to do it whether it’s good for them or not.

        • Anon says:

          I’m skeptical modern governments are capable of such precommitments.

          • Jiro says:

            Angry “irrational” reactions are often how actual human beings implement precommitments. Even if nobody consciously thinks of it as a precommitment, it functions as one because outsiders can, in advance, figure out that someone is likely to be “irrational”. Basically, the ability to precommit in certain situations can evolve by evolution of memes.

      • brad says:

        A trade war with the UK may be preferable to the breakup of the rest of the EU from the perspective of those that get to choose between those options. A sweetheart deal for the UK might well make the latter much more likely.

        That said, having spoke to some Swiss people, I’m not sure the Leavers idea of how good the Swiss have it is entirely accurate. The Swiss basically have to pass EU legislation that they have no input into a continuing obligation or risk losing favored nation status. Switzerland and the EU are still negotiating the consequences of a 2014 referendum that abrogated Swiss obligations under bilateral treaties having to do with free movement of labor. With Brexit the EU may well take a harder line than they would have otherwise.

    • Just to be contrarian here, but isn’t that motivated reasoning to work things out that way? We could take the opposite approach and say that the young people who voted to remain don’t know what they are talking about and don’t have enough experience to rationally decide while the old people who don’t have many years left (and therefore nothing to gain) are trying to fight for what is best for the people they will leave behind.

      The disenfranchisement sucks, but are those people numerous enough to have changed the outcome?

      Also, I’m curious how the Brexit vote might have changed the Scottish desire for independence, although its probably too early to tell at this point.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Just to be contrarian here, but isn’t that motivated reasoning to work things out that way?

        Yeah, I somehow don’t think the people currently complaining about older people having the vote would be expressing the same sentiment if the positions were reversed, and the elderly more likely to vote Leave than the young.

        • Murphy says:

          From my point of view, pretty universally if there’s 2 options, one that looks literally evil and the other ok it always seems to line up that the dementia suffering shufflers swarm directly for the evil side and support it.

          Of course they aren’t literally trying to be evil.

          From a slightly outside view:

          practically speaking it’s just because of value shifts over ~60 years. They also tend to be poorly educated on average and grew up when the idea of actually checking the truth value of things people claim to them was alien.

          Their values are utterly different to mine. They’re living in a world which is scary and confusing to them where social values seem to have utterly decayed from their point of view. The values they grew up with are not the ones that the younger generations follow any more. So that nice man in the neat and tidy uniform promising to bring back the old values and get rid of all these brown people seems like such a gentleman. Those skulls on his uniform are a little worrying but it’s probably all fine.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Well if Britain’s political class is half as smug and self-righteous as you, actual Nazis barely sound that bad.

            You realize that this is the reason why you lost right? That rather than engaging your opponents like human beings with real concerns you figured that the future was with you and were free to mock the majority of your countrymen as evil braindead zombies rather than offer any real argument. And when, surprise surprise, that didn’t pay off at the polls rather than learning from it you just doubled down on the mockery.

            Here’s a thought: maybe it would be easier to convince these old geezers that your values hadn’t utterly decayed if they didn’t see miles of fences covered in jagged spikes and countless CCTV cameras wherever they walked, due to omnipresent violent crime. Maybe they’d be more welcoming to “brown people” if the police would stop covering up for their attacks on British children, and if any criticism of their behavior wasn’t grounds to be arrested. Maybe you’re just used to it, that’s what you grew up with so it’s normal to you, but people who remember a better way to live are quite reasonably upset with the status quo.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Dr Dealgood – “Well if Britain’s political class is half as smug and self-righteous as you, actual Nazis barely sound that bad.”

            Maybe take it down a notch? As it happens I think your point is both true and necessary, but try aiming for kind anyway?

            “miles of fences covered in jagged spikes”

            I am inordinately pleased to see this meme in the wild.

          • Anonymous says:

            Well if Britain’s political class is half as smug and self-righteous as you, actual Nazis barely sound that bad.

            Clearly. Having one’s feelings hurt by smug meanies and having one’s people targeted for industrial genocide — practically the same thing. Hard to even know which is worse.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Murphy, if your side is as clever as you seem to think, how come it hasn’t entered your collective mind that dismissing anybody who disagrees with you as a senile, xenophobic Nazi is a really, really bad way of convincing people you’re right?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Anonymous – A racist is someone who wears the wrong hairstyle, and Nazis vote for the people who would have been center-left a decade ago. You make enemies even easier than we make friends.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Yeah, that’s a fair criticism. Anger at insults doesn’t justify polluting the comments section myself. If the edit window hadn’t passed I would change it.

            Anyway, Murphy, apologies for comparing you unfavorably to Nazis. Obviously that was a bit of rather excessive hyperbole and pretty hypocritical given the point I was trying to make about treating people as though they have legitimate complaints.

          • Anonymous says:

            Just so it’s clear faceless craven: who are ‘you’ and ‘we’?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            “you”: the sort of people for whom the sort of comments murphy and yourself have made are persuasive or obvious. The mainstream political consensus as of three or four years ago.

            “we”: the sort of people who have become either disillusioned or actively opposed to that consensus.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            I think “you” and “we” are way too broad in that sentence.

            To the extent you are pointing at anything coherent, it’s some “No True Scotsman” version of some cohort on right, and sort of an inverse “No True Scotsman” (No True Brit?) of some segment of the left.

            I mean, attempting to purify the Republican party has been a circular firing squad for a while now. RINO is not a term the left came up with, after all.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HBC – “I think “you” and “we” are way too broad in that sentence.”

            I’d agree that it’s a fairly nebulous category, but it seems like a real one. I observe a group from the erstwhile consensus who sees anyone breaking ranks as “literally evil” and attacks accordingly, and another section who sees the consensus as untenable, not least because of the first section’s fanaticism.

            The problem with the consensus is that it overplays its hand; it sees itself as victorious and so disdains compromise and moderation, thereby sowing the seeds for its own downfall. Human nature inevitably rearing its head, I think.

            Not sure what you mean by the “no true scotsmen” part. elaborate?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            “You make enemies even easier than we make friends.”

            If I point to many people on the right who demonstrate no desire to “make friends” and you say “no one truly on the right fails to make friends easily”, then that is a “No True Scotsman” argument.

            Conversely, if I point to people on the left who do make friends easily, and you say “No true member of the left makes friends easily” then it’s also “No True Scotsman” but here you aren’t claiming yourself as a member of the left, so “No True Brit”.

            And again, the purging of so called RINOs from the ranks of Republicans is a real thing, and it is done with plenty of invective and malice, and has represented a majority of the coalition recently.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HBC – Ah, that’s clearer.

            The difference is that I don’t see “we” as necessarily right-wing. Trump isn’t a result of the RINO process; hell, Trump is pretty much a RINO himself. More than a third of Labour voters supported Brexit. Support for Feminism as an ideology seems to be on the decline. To the extent that these are part of a unifying pattern, I think it’s less a resurgence of the right wing than it is a fracturing of an otherwise dominant left.

            As for making friends, read murphy’s and anon’s posts again, or further afield take a look at the saga of Social Justice over the last few years.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Faceless Craven:
            So, Trump wins the Republican primary and you immediately disavow him and his supporters as not being on the right?

            That is a picture perfect No True Scotsman right there.

            Unless you are also saying the “we” aren’t the right wing in which case, who are the “we” again? People who don’t like immigrants? People who support Trump? People who want an isolationist foreign policy?

            Edit:
            I realized this sounds more aggressive than I intended. I’m just really confused who these “we” are at this point.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HBC – I am actually sick with a cold right now so I’m not sure I’m communicating very well. apologies.

            “So, Trump wins the Republican primary and you immediately disavow him and his supporters as not being on the right?”

            What? No? Why disavow him for not being on the right? He’s obviously on the right. He’s just not a conservative, or for that matter much of a Republican. Given the state of the republican party, that’s a good thing.
            [EDIT] – more to the point, you will note that Trump’s schtick isn’t exactly built around accusing other people of being evil/nazis/etc.

            “Unless you are also saying the “we” aren’t the right wing in which case, who are the “we” again?”

            The group of people who think the consensus is wrong, and are tired of being called evil for saying so. A fair chunk of that is right-wing, but a decent portion is left. You can map it to a number of issues over the last two years or so. Given the significant chunk of Labour that voted leave, I think Brexit is the latest in the series. Calling these people evil works less and less because it’s been wildly overused, to the point that the terms stop meaning anything.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Faceless Craven:

            You don’t think Trump’s schtick, as you say, hasn’t been built around calling “other” people awful? It seems to me that it is one of his prominent features. He loves inveighing against all those who are standing in the way of the U.S. being “great again”. He calls people nasty, makes up insulting nicknames for his political opponents, calls those who don’t back him weak and pathetic, …

            I mean, I could go a find a bunch of quotes if that would be helpful, but I assume you know many of them already and are discounting them for some reason.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HBC – “You don’t think Trump’s schtick, as you say, hasn’t been built around calling “other” people awful?”

            Everyone in modern politics calls their opponents awful. Trump’s opponents frame their position as basic decency, as the norm. The entire campaign, on all sides, has been built around this framing. Trump’s opponents claim that he is some unholy aberration, that he’s a nazi, etc. Trump claims that his opponents are the establishment, a hostile elite that’s contemptuous of average citizens and actively hostile to their interests. Compare that to the Brexit vote, where the political elite overwhelmingly supported Remain, and Leave received whole-hearted support only from UKIP (abberation, nazi, etc).

            Decent people aren’t supposed to support for Trump, or support a UKIP cause, or oppose feminism. Those are the sorts of things racists/sexists/nazis do. But if you call people racists/sexists/nazis often enough, first the words lose meaning, and then people start using them as an anti-signal. Ditto for “experts have found” or “studies show”; people are calling this anti-intellectualism, but it’s really just pattern recognition.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Faceless Craven:
            But in what way does that mean he makes it easy for his opponents to like him? This was your original claim. That “we” are [universally] likable. Not that “we” like ourselves and don’t find “you” likable.

            All you are saying is that he is appealing to a certain segment of the population, which, yes he is. But that isn’t the same claim, and certainly doesn’t give you the high moral ground you were claiming.

            If you want to say this or that commenter is saying things that makes them unlikable, sure. Heck, I go through that drill all the time. But trying to say that the people on your said are likable, that Trump is is non-offensive and liked by everyone, or that his supporters are …

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HBC – “But in what way does that mean he makes it easy for his opponents to like him?”

            It doesn’t. Trump is a tool in several senses of the word. But Trump’s supporters aren’t trump. Brexit’s supporters aren’t Farage and Johnson.

            “That “we” are [universally] likable. Not that “we” like ourselves and don’t find “you” likable.”

            Never said likable. Said they make enemies even faster than we make friends.

            You disagree with me a lot. I disagree with you a lot. You annoy me sometimes, I annoy you sometimes, but we get along pretty good most all the time. We can converse, debate, share insight. If you called me evil, I’d shrug. It’s just words. I don’t call you evil, because again, just words. What’s the point in name calling? It’s not going to change your mind, and changing your mind, or at least understanding it, is what I’m interested in. I’m not interested in trying to get you shoved out of the overton window. In fact, the less concentrated control of the overton window there is, the happier I am. Overton window control is about making people conform. People resent that. Having control and enforced conformity as a goal makes enemies fast and friends slow. Opposing control and enforced conformity makes enemies slow and friends fast.

            I’ve gone around a couple times with the anon above. They like to do the drive-by snark thing. They do it via the usual passive-aggressive how-dare-you-sir sorta stuff. Simplest response is to point out that the tactic is dead, that no one cares any more. They’re the reason racist/sexist/nazi doesn’t mean anything any more, and that’s all they’ve got. Not only is the gun empty, the last few rounds went into their own feet. We’re still standing, and there seem to be a lot of us.

            Again, not talking about Trump, talking about the nebulous movement that results in Trump, or Brexit, or Ants, or Puppies, the A+ backlash, etc. People tired of Superweapons. That’s “we”.

            That make more sense?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Look, I’m a Rodney King fan.

            When he broke up while saying “Can’t we all get along” during the LA riots that followed the acquittal of the officers who beat him so badly that he had nerve damage, I thought it was one of the most human things I had ever heard.

            I can bring myself to tears just thinking about it still today.

            So the idea of just trying to get along with each other is one that holds tremendous appeal to me. I don’t want people to be enemies of each other.

            I’m an Elvis Costello fan. What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding.

            I just don’t fathom how supporting Trump furthers those goals. And the people who cheered in Trump rallies when protestors were sucker punched aren’t in a frame of mind that I would characterize as friendly.

            And yes, there are people that Trump supporters characterize as elites, some of whom sneer at them. But that has been a two-way street for a long time. It’s circular. Plenty of the people who are Trump supporters hate “the liberal academic elites in their ivory towers.”

            Sarah Palin said there was a “real America”, remember that? Now, to you, that’s just Palin giving respect to the people you are talking about. But to me that’s giving the middle-finger to me and everyone like me and everyone who lives in cities on both coasts. Because I am a real American, thank you very much.

            You want me to understand where she was coming from, and frankly I do get where she was coming from, but, still, she thinks I’m somehow less of an American, which, you know, is not really cool.

            I just don’t see where you can make a case that sneering or intentionally offensive behavior is somehow the exclusive province of one side.

            Hell, Eric Raymond accused me, and every gun control supporter, of desiring the subjugation of every American.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ HBC:
            I feel you on Rodney King, but about the “real americans” thing, consider the flip side…

            Michelle Obama said that she had never been proud of America until her husband won the Presidency. Now, to you, that’s just Mrs Obama expressing pleasure about her husband’s accomplishment. But the unstated assumption is that one should ordinarily be ashamed.

            The prevailing consensus is that nationalism, and American nationalism in particular is passe and low status. There is nothing to be proud of about being born in a particular place and that of America’s impact the world stage has been a net negative. Why would you want to be a “real American” when you could be a hyphenated American or better yet Canadian?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hlynkacg:
            You appear to be now trying for a different conversation than the one Faceless and I were.

            He (and now perhaps you) take that statement by Michelle and say “See how awful the left is. We would never be awful like that.”

            And all I was saying is that there has been lots and lots and lots of venom on the right, so you don’t get that second sentence. Have the clarity to recognize the awful things that are being said on the right, not just bristle at every awful thing said on the left.

            One could have another conversation about who is “worse” but that is not a conversation I really want to have at the moment.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’ve gone around a couple times with the anon above. They like to do the drive-by snark thing. They do it via the usual passive-aggressive how-dare-you-sir sorta stuff. Simplest response is to point out that the tactic is dead, that no one cares any more. They’re the reason racist/sexist/nazi doesn’t mean anything any more, and that’s all they’ve got. Not only is the gun empty, the last few rounds went into their own feet. We’re still standing, and there seem to be a lot of us.

            This statement is baffling give that heretofore my one and only response* in this thread was to point out that Dr Dealgood’s comparing smugness to Nazism was over the top.

            Yes it was done in a snarky way. So what? That doesn’t mean I was the one devaluing nazi. On the contrary, that was your buddy on the alt right.

            Again, not talking about Trump, talking about the nebulous movement that results in Trump, or Brexit, or Ants, or Puppies, the A+ backlash, etc. People tired of Superweapons. That’s “we”.

            Maybe it’s a royal we. It’s certainly a nice set up for infinite no true Scotsmens.

            You don’t need to defend the niceness, community or civilization of the guy that says “You know he looks smart because he wears those little glasses. If you take those glasses away from him, he’s a dummy.” Because he’s not part of “we”.

            I wish you all the luck in your war against smug and snark. I’m sure we’ll all be living in a utopia after those two horrific scourges are defeated.

            * Edit: also the comment asking about who you and we were. Sorry forgot about that one.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Faceless Craven:

            And while we are at it, it’s not even like Trump is even very nice to “your” people. (I really don’t like how I am talking about my people and your people, but I’m just trying to continue in the same idiomatic language we have been using).

            Here is a facebook video link, wherein Trump talks about a person who has opposed his expansion of a golf course in Scotland, and he says of him “Mr. Forbes lives in a pig like atmosphere. It’s disgusting. It’s a slum. I mean it’s horrible the way he maintains it.”

            I mean, I have a certain understanding here. To some extent I think this conversation reflects the Animal House line “He can’t do that to our pledges. Only we can do that to our pledges.” The other tribe is the enemy, yadda, yadda, yadda.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @anonymous:

            I wish you all the luck in your war against smug and snark. I’m sure we’ll all be living in a utopia after those two horrific scourges are defeated.

            No, it won’t create a utopia, but it makes it a lot easier to have a conversation.

            Look, I take exception with Dealgood’s loose references to Nazis, so I think pushback was warranted. And I little bit of snark in that kind of pushback isn’t the worst thing. But when you get pushback on the snark, the right thing to do is not argue about the snark and argue about the object level claim, only.

            (Although, to play devil’s advocate, I think there is a good reason we reach for Nazi comparisons, because they helpfully illustrate the endpoint of slippery slopes. The real argument should be about how slippery the slope is, and which direction it is sloping).

            Also, would it kill you to maintain a persona, any persona? It is so helpful for any sort of extended conversation.

          • Jiro says:

            Have the clarity to recognize the awful things that are being said on the right, not just bristle at every awful thing said on the left.

            One could have another conversation about who is “worse” but that is not a conversation I really want to have at the moment.

            Sorry, that conversation is relevant, so you’re stuck in it whether you want to be or not.

            Just saying that there are bad things said on the right, without taking into consideration how frequent they are and without comparing it to the left, is a weakman. A weakman is like a strawman, except that you get to say “oh, they’re real, look at these examples”. There are millions of people in the country. You can find a couple of examples of pretty much anything.

            The argument “we wouldn’t do that”, when “we” consists of millions of people, always is an implicit comparison of the type you “don’t really want” to converse about. It does not literally mean “none of us would do that”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            C’mon, man.

            We are in a conversation where because Murphy and Anonymous were snarky and a little mean, Faceless Craven impugned the entire left or all elites or something. And ALSO stated that people on the right make friends with people on the left easily, as a universal statement.

            If you are unwilling to let me attack THAT position …

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            While it doesn’t detract from the point that the not-getting-along goes both ways, Rodney King would later sue LA for $3.8 million, while Elvis Costello would later record ‘Tramp down the dirt’.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            And ALSO stated that people on the right make friends with people on the left easily, as a universal statement.

            Wait, where did he do that? Could you quote the relevant words?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The original Mr. X:
            First here:
            “You make enemies even easier than we make friends.”

            Which he then modifies to:
            “Never said likable. Said they make enemies even faster than we make friends.”

            Which is a slightly different claim, but in the same ballpark.

            @Cerebral Paul Z:
            Oh, Elvis can throw some hate, sure. He is an artist, channeling emotions is what he does.

            Rodney king suing doesn’t seem relevant to me at all.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            None of the things you’ve quoted say or even imply that the right are uniformly nice people, or that they’re really good at making friends with the left.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Lawsuits are widely regarded as a paradigm of Not Getting Along, though few would deny that they’re an improvement on rioting.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Cerebral:
            Ummmm, he was beaten till he had nerve damage. He was entitled to seek compensation. He didn’t sue every individual white person/cop/whomever.

            That take flummoxes me.

            @The Original Mr. X:
            “that they’re really good at making friends with the left.”

            The phrasing he used offers a comparison stating that some “you” (which seems to be some large component of the left, the superior acting intellectual elites, perhaps) makes enemies faster or easier than some “we” (rural, conservative working class, perhaps) make friends.

            The clear implication, the only way that framing makes sense, is if “the left” of that statement makes enemies easily and “the right” of that statement makes friends easily. The other clear implication, especially from how Craven then couched it in terms his ability to have a conversation with me, is that those enemies and friends are across some ideological divide.

            How else do you make that statement coherent?

            I mean, do you agree that whomever the “you” are in that statement is, they make enemies easily?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Jesus. I need to learn not to post on meds.

            @HBC – “I just don’t see where you can make a case that sneering or intentionally offensive behavior is somehow the exclusive province of one side.”

            You can, in fact, divide the world into the people who think sanctimonious sneering is useful and the people who don’t. That split won’t match the blue/red divide, but that doesn’t matter because it’s the sneering line I actually am talking about. I do not think sneering is a winning strategy long-term.

            “Which he then modifies to:”

            …There was no modification. I said the exact same thing twice, with the exception of the grammatical you/they switch. “they” was not intended as a reference to the left, blue tribe, or liberals, “we” was not intended as a reference to the right, red tribe, or conservatives. This started as a conversation about an attitude toward pro-Brexit voters. I was not attempting to do the “liberals suck and conservatives rule” thing. I was not talking about liberals and conservatives, as such, at all.

            As it happens, I do think the left leans harder on the sneering than the right as of late. That is mainly because the right has been losing, and to sneer properly you need to be on top. That does not remotely amount to claiming that the right doesn’t have the problem as well. It does.

            “I just don’t fathom how supporting Trump furthers those goals.”

            Because sometimes Defect/Defect is what you have to work with. Because that which can be destroyed by Trump should be. Because sometimes it’s better to choose the greater evil this time than still be choosing the lesser evil five choices from now. Because to hell with the Republican party. Because maybe the pig will sing. (Because Fie on Goodness, Fie!)

            …I’m sure we’ll have plenty of other chances to discuss it between now and November.

            @Anon – “This statement is baffling give that heretofore my one and only response* in this thread was to point out that Dr Dealgood’s comparing smugness to Nazism was over the top.”

            You’re anon. Wear the name, answer for the name. I mean, maybe you are different people, but you talk the same, act the same. You’re the same person to me.

            In any case, I am recovering from a fever and need to go catch up on a lot of work. I apologize for the confusion and cross-talk, and will attempt to speak more clearly next time. Sorry for wasting everyone’s time.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Faceless Craven:
            No need to apologize. I still don’t understand what you were going for but such is life.

          • Murphy says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            personally I tried the approach of assuming good faith before the referendum. I was all about the assuming that they might have good reason and trying to consider their side in good faith. Then I watched as a bunch of braindead morons decided to commit economic harakiri for no good reason.

            The most depressing part was talking with a few Out voters since the result and realising that 1:they really are that stupid and 2: They really don’t have any better reasons than the bollox the Sun was peddling. 3: they were assuming that what the actual economists and experts were wrong and seeing it start to materialize after the result has made the brighter ones start to reconsider.

            I have reason to be pissed at these barely-sentient drones. it’s shaping up that they’ll likely cost me the equivalent of multiple years salary in the coming years.

            They’re doing approximately as much harm (with reasonable estimates for the value of bodily harm to monetary value) to me as someone gormlessly playing with a handgun after being told to be careful who insisted that they were sure it wasn’t loaded who then accidentally shot me in the arm. Only they’ve done it to millions of people.

            I even tried to give them the benefit of the doubt after the fact, searching for anyone who had a non-braindead reason for voting that way but all that’s ever turned up is 1: claims which are trivially false, often in regards to fantasy “regulations” that they believe exist but don’t. 2: Things they blame on the EU which are linked to entirely different institutions 3:pointing to entirely home made UK laws or bad decisions and blaming them on the EU 4: Claims that elected representatives are “unelected”, 5: claims that representatives selected by elected representatives are “undemocratic” 6: “we won the war then gave germany control anyway” style nationalism 7: “Those damn immigrants”

            6 and 7 at least get some credit for being about values rather than simply-wrong factual claims but they’re the values that I’m comfortable not sharing.

            Sometimes you give people the benefit of the doubt, you listen to their side carefully and what you end up finding out is that they’re even worse people than your side was claiming they were and that they’re actually stupider than your side was claiming they were. Sometimes people teach you that they don’t deserve the charity you’ve extended.

            Sometimes people say “those people are stupid, easily led and foolish ” and you say “no, they probably have good reason for their position” and you go away and talk to them and learn that they do have at least internally consistent and fairly reasonable reasons.

            But sometimes you learn that they really are as stupid, easily led and foolish as people were saying and don’t have even vaguely internally consistent reasons for their choices. Sometimes you learn that they’re just stampeding the way they were directed without thinking.

            I tried. I fucking tried. the only other group who’ve ever made me utterly run out of charity are the people who reject anti-biotics and try to pray away preventable infections and kill their children.

            Sometimes you run out of charity.

            I’m not trying to change anyones mind with this post. The referendum is done. I don’t have to be nice now and I’m pissed off because my life is being made harder by these utter fuckups.

            Re the racism claims, “It’s all fun and memes until you walk up Great Portland Street and hear people chanting ‘make Britain white again'”

            apparently it’s become a thing again since that side discovered they had lots of support.

          • Anonymous says:

            Anon

            This statement is baffling give that heretofore my one and only response* in this thread was to point out that Dr Dealgood’s comparing smugness to Nazism was over the top.

            You’re anon. Wear the name, answer for the name. I mean, maybe you are different people, but you talk the same, act the same. You’re the same person to me.

            In this case it amounts to the same thing. We, the anonymous legion, didn’t have any posts in this thread doing what you accused us of doing (viz misusing nazi/racist/evil). You had your hammer and so there must have been nails all over the place, eh?

          • John Schilling says:

            @Murphy: 5: claims that representatives selected by elected representatives are “undemocratic” 6: “we won the war then gave germany control anyway” style nationalism 7: “Those damn immigrants”

            5 would put them in the same group as the people who demanded direct election of US senators rather than the original practice of state legislatures appointing them, and those people were I think generally regarded as forward-thinking proponents of democracy, not “brain-dead morons”. And how do you feel about the Electoral College?

            6 and 7 at least get some credit for being about values rather than simply-wrong factual claims but they’re the values that I’m comfortable not sharing.

            Values held by gormless brain-dead morons, stupid barely-sentient drones, and stupid easily-led fools. Yes, we get that. So do they. But what about your values?

            it’s shaping up that they’ll likely cost me the equivalent of multiple years salary in the coming years

            How so? You’re going to be moving to Frankfurt, right? The whole point of the EU is that you can, presumably for another couple of years at least, and if the salary is all you care about, then presumably you will. Or else every insult you just applied to the Leave voters, rebounds on you and sticks – because they might plausibly be voting in support of their real values, but you’ll be voting with your feet against yours.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Murphy,

            Well you’re the one actually living in Britain, all the Limeys I know (aside from pseudonymous posters) are immigrants themselves.

            But, among that sample, the Brexiters certainly don’t seem like the dimwitted cattle you’re describing. My new Primary Investigator, for example, was practically cackling in glee over the development. Letting in essentially unlimited numbers of Poles and Romanians, particularly welfare-seekers and those who refused to assimilate in their ethnic enclaves, was an unacceptable situation for many. Correcting that might be costly in the short term but it’s a cost that many intelligent people are willing to bear in exchange for community and independence.

          • Murphy says:

            @John Schilling

            ah yes, the “just move to canada” style answer.

            When i mentioned multiple years salary worth of harm I wasn’t being figurative. I bought a my first home recently and if I sold today after these openly hateful, racist scum decided that getting rid of the immigrants was priority number one I would be poorer to the tune of a number of years salary because the mouth-breathers managed to cause an instant market crash.

            So moving isn’t practical unless I enjoy bankruptcy.

            (of course the noble immigrants are sort of acceptable as long as they don’t have brown skin and they can’t tell them apart on the street by their dress and they never talk disgusting for’n languages from beyond the empire like hindi or welsh when they talk to each other.

            on the other hand there are 2 types of bad immigrant, the ones who take their jobs and the ones who are useless workshys who leech off the system. )

            I’m happy to call a spade a spade and scum scum.

            they’re racist, stupid, uneducated, senile scum and the kind of shit that’s been happening since the vote has only confirmed every negative sterotype of brexit supporters.

            I was in the fucking camp of defending them but the things said about them were right.

            I was wrong to extend them the principle of charity.

            Imagine if, in the US after Hawaii became a state Native Hawaiians moving to, say, new york started finding crap like this shoved through their doors:

            http://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/story_large/public/thumbnails/image/2016/06/27/14/polish-cards-racism.jpg

            That’s the kind of people we’re dealing with. Turns out they’re more numerous than I ever expected.

          • John Schilling says:

            A cosmopolitan globalist who bought real estate instead of renting. It didn’t occur to you that this would bind you to the interests and values of the nativists?

          • Murphy says:

            Am I not allowed to be pissed when stupid people fuck with my life for stupid reasons? You seem to have some kind of fully general bollox there.

            Don’t like the EDL scum getting their way? move! Can’t move? ha! you should have forseen the EDL scum getting their way despite 90%+ of the market not forseeing that!

            I thought >50% of the population were better than they were. As I said. I made a mistake.

            I overestimated their intelligence and foresight and underestimated their hate for immigrants and tendency to do whatever the daily mail tells them to do.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Some people are very successful at getting people to leave their side of an argument.

          • Nornagest says:

            Imagine if, in the US after Hawaii became a state Native Hawaiians moving to, say, new york started finding crap like this shoved through their doors

            Puerto Ricans might be less of a stretch; that’s a US territory, in financial union and having open borders with the rest of the US, whose natives have substantial presence elsewhere, and which has nontrivial cultural, economic, and ethnic differences from the States proper. (A statehood referendum there also succeeded in 2012, but the US Congress has not yet responded to it.)

            Or we could go back a little further and look at actual Poles, who were one of the largest groups of immigrants to East Coast cities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and who at the time experienced the kind of ethnic tensions common to poor immigrant groups (enclaves, stereotyping, linguistic barriers, even ethnic gangs). I find it a little odd, incidentally, that stereotypes which survive in America only as bad jokes are apparently live and vicious in Britain.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Some people are very successful at getting people to leave their side of an argument.

            Quite.

          • Murphy says:

            @Nornagest

            Poland is however a full member state. A lot of polish people move for a few years and then move home, often to start a business unless they start a family with someone.

            The stereotype polish migrant is someone working crazy hours and saving most of it with a plan to move home and set up their own business. And that’s actually pretty much what a lot of them did in Ireland. Worked for a few years then moved home.

            I’ve worked with a lot of polish programmers and not noticed any massive cultural difference. If it weren’t for the accent you’d never know in most cases.

            The cultural differences are probably not much different than young 20-somethings from Iowa moving to new york but they tend to get overstated by the kind of people who feel their skin crawl in the presence of non-natives.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          NM. Wrong sub-thread. Re-posted above.

    • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

      If there’s a city anywhere in the world that needs its house prices fucked up, it’s London.

      • Murphy says:

        There’s lots of ways they could have controlled house prices without fucking up jobs at the same time like doing away with the tax breaks for empty property.

        I wouldn’t mind being stuck in London if I didn’t have to worry that the job market is likely to implode at the same time.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know a lot of british people resident in other EU countries who are deeply pissed off because they were disenfranchised and didn’t have the right to vote despite this likely having a huge effect on their lives. (only a fraction of britons resident in the EU had the right to a postal vote, anyone away for too long didn’t) Ditto for a lot of EU residents living in the UK who also didn’t get a right despite having far more skin in the game than the shuffling-nearly-dead who mostly supported the out campaign.

      A voting procedure that uses a different electorate than that for parliament could produce a paradox.

      With the PM resigning I believe that there are going to be new elections. In these new elections the usual voting rules apply and overseas voters can vote. So what happens if there’s a majority for staying in the EU among the Parliamentary electorate but not among the referendum electorate? I know the referendum isn’t legally binding, but is it even morally binding in that circumstance?

      • I am the Tarpitz says:

        There’s no guarantee of parliamentary elections. Cameron’s resigning, and the Conservative party will elect a new leader (most likely Johnson) who will automatically become Prime Minister. That new Prime Minister may well decide to hold a snap election at that point, but won’t be obligated to do so.

        Moreover, such an election would be unlikely to end up as a de facto second referendum, since many other issues would be at play and Europe is very much not the highest priority of most voters.

    • Jill says:

      The U K may be better off leaving the EU. A majority of those who voted thought so. Perhaps the reason the pound and the stock market are dropping like it’s the end of the world, is to scare other EU members from dropping out. I really don’t see it being an end of the world thing at all in the long run.

      The EU countries seem incompatible to me. Mainly it seems that banks benefit from the EU– or attempt to. But if countries don’t stay in the EU, or if countries refuse to endure the severe austerity in order to pay back loans to banks quickly, then banks don’t get all the profit they came for. I don’t know if the countries themselves really benefit or not. Perhaps a few do. Or maybe none.

      • Nornagest says:

        Perhaps the reason the pound and the stock market are dropping like it’s the end of the world, is to scare other EU members from dropping out.

        I don’t know how many pound-denominated assets the EU institutions — or, more likely, its member nations other than the UK — hold, but it seems unlikely that they’d be able to release enough of them to drive down the pound by ~10% during the vote, especially without leaving an obvious paper trail. Quietly moving that kind of money on that kind of timeframe is very difficult for a government (or, really, any other single actor); it teeters on the edge of conspiracy-theory territory.

        Now, the EU certainly has an incentive to make life difficult for the UK in the wake of this decision, or else it’ll find other bits coming off itself in short order. But I expect that to take more time and come in the form of trade restrictions, diplomatic complications, and the usual rhetoric. The price moves we’ve seen today are far more likely to be an ordinary market phenomenon; markets don’t like uncertainty, and economic fundamentals generally favor free trade.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          it teeters on the edge of conspiracy-theory territory.

          Absent some real evidence that it actually occurred, I don’t think it’s teetering on the edge.

          Jill, the market almost always acts like this to things which are unexpected; how large the reaction is related to how unexpected it was and how big the thing.

          UK exiting EU was very unexpected, and its a very large scale event. We should expect the market to move negative on the news.

          • Jill says:

            George Soros sort of threatened that something like this would happen. Perhaps many traders followed his expectation when the vote came out for Brexit overnight.

            There’s more than one way to crash a currency. The banks don’t have to do it themselves. One way is to have a famous and successful currency trader practically advise people that they should short the pound if Brexit went through.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTEEnegxP4w

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Jill,

            Soros is just one guy, giving his prediction based on the market conditions as he sees them. The idea that the pound would move lower on a Brexit isn’t a non-standard opinion. The word “threaten” implies that Soros can cause it to happen. But Soros isn’t doing that, he isn’t saying “I will make the pound go lower” he is assessing the likely result of some action he has no control over.

            If a climate scientist predicts that the world will grow warmer if we keep putting CO2 in the atmosphere, that’s a prediction tied to the underlying fundamentals of climate science. Soros is making the same kind of prediction.

            As an aside, “the banks” aren’t anything like the only movers in the market, unless what you mean to say is “all traders with the ability to control a great deal of capital” and, well, I just don’t think “banks” is the right word for the concept you are trying to evoke.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Jill
            There’s more than one way to crash a currency.

            Look up ‘the gnomes of Zurich’.

      • Tok Nok says:

        The pound/stock market will fluctuate with any major change in the ability to predict the future.

        I am also not convinced that its actually a bad move on the parts of the citizens of the UK to leave. Does the EU actually facilitate large amounts of essentially irreconcilable Islamic immigration, or other subpopulations whose second and third generations (and beyond) have historically integrated poorly(higher crime, lower rates of education)?

        And also, greater internationalism is good and all when large amounts of countries agree to reduce nuclear and other dangerous tech, and go greener and more sustainable and have good international food safety standards, regulated free trade and *perhaps* some form of international currency.

        But *beyond* those simple and mostly inarguable benefits, its much more questionable, and over-reaching.

        Even asking the question is considered racist tho ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        • Creutzer says:

          The UK had/has massive immigration directly from India and Pakistan, with which the EU has little to do. It does, however, also have a large influx from Eastern Europe, in particular Poland, for which its EU membership is immediately relevant. I don’t know about the origins and routes of non-Pakistani muslims. I suspect it’s not via the EU, but they may have a worry about future immigration.

  8. FullMeta_Rationalist says:

    So I hear Britain is holding a referendum, regarding EU membership. What exactly is it about? The ramifications of the referendum and the rationale behind it are entirely opaque to me.

    inb4 I’m an ignorant American.

    • Soumynona says:

      They’ve been deciding whether to leave the EU. A lot of people there believe that EU is over-regulated, undemocratic and an impediment to economic progress, and that Glorious Britain can do much better on its own, {insert traditional English patriotic song here}. The migrant crisis might also have something to do with it.

      Nobody knows the ramifications. There’s a lot of posturing and scare-mongering. But we’ll learn soon because they are indeed leaving. Interesting times.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        48/52% in favor of Exit, and as Murphy notes below, the prediction markets called it completely wrong until the writing was on the wall. My tanking buddy followed it breathlessly all evening, said it was the first big election in his lifetime that’s gone the way he hoped. The Pound’s tanked, which hardly seems surprising given the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Remain side.

        How many stunning upsets do we need before we start calling it a pattern?

      • The original Mr. X says:

        I guess Britain will just have to resign itself to deteriorating into a third-world hellhole, like Switzerland or Norway. (Or Canada, Australia, New Zealand, America…)

      • Snodgrass says:

        The reportage of this has been pretty poor because people wrote articles about the deepest point of the dips and they’re still up while the curve has recovered. The pound has gone down about 6% against the dollar; the big-companies index went down nearly 10% (admittedly after rising quite steeply yesterday) and recovered to -3% by the end of the day.

        At end of day, a few companies have been absolutely pounded; the four big publicly-listed house-building companies are all down 20% or more, the two big commercial-real-estate companies are 15% and 20% down, ICAG (British Airways) is down 22%, Easyjet -14%, banks and insurance companies are down 15% or more.

        These just aren’t moves that you expect to see on a stock market.

  9. Vaniver says:

    Despite the interest in assault rifles when discussing gun violence, Alex Tabarrok finds that rifles as a category account for only 3% of all gun deaths, and fewer total murders than knives, bare hands, or blunt weapons. The real problem is with handguns, which cause about 20x more deaths than all rifles, assault or otherwise.

    This is a standard talking point among gun owners.

    But I think Scott Adams has found the lulziest possible take on this, of which the summary is:

    So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. … But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.”

    • Evan Þ says:

      Proposal that might work in a world where Adams’ take was seriously correct: Couple banning guns with repealing Warren v. DC et al to establish that the government does have a duty to protect its newly-disarmed citizens. Specifically, the government must compensate people for all expenses related to any crimes committed, or at least those involving guns. This compensation would be paid for by hugely-increased fines for all violent crimes.

      (Objections include not being able to compensate for death or physical injury – though the government would of course pay all medical bills – and criminals not being able to pay the fines. Perhaps we could also reestablish prison work gangs, though that’d have its own problems.)

      • John Schilling says:

        Inability to compensate for death would probably kill this one right off the bat, but even worse would be the inability to compensate for rape. Inadequately-compensated dead people can’t complain; rape victims told to shut up and take it, here’s your check, will have a ready-made constituency and guaranteed media access. Well, the female ones at least, but those will be enough. And if you cut them big enough checks to stop the complaints (or make the complainers unsympathetic), you’ve massively incentivized false rape accusations.

        Then there’s the fact that most of the murders are criminal-on-criminal. At a government-standard $9.4 million per human life and ~14,000 murders per year, that’s a hundred thirty billion dollars per year, mostly paid to the families of criminals killed as a result of their criminal behavior, and that’s before we consider the response to incentives – tell every inner-city mother that she gets ten million dollars if her son is gunned down in a gang war, and see what happens. No, you’re not paying this with fines or work gangs.

        So that’s not going to happen, and we’re going to fall back to having the government compensate crime victims unless they are criminals themselves, and who is going to trust the government to make that distinction fairly in the land of the semi-apocryphal three felonies a day?

        And then there’s the people killed by government criminals; who is going to trust the government to compensate them? That’s a tiny part of the problem now, but fear of it growing in the future is a big driver on both sides of the political system, #BLM.

        Not even remotely plausible, I’m afraid.

        • Psmith says:

          Compensatory punishment for murder was the order of the day in medieval Iceland, weregild to be paid to the dead man’s family. I agree that it’s farther outside the Overton window than Evan seems to think, but it doesn’t strike me as logically absurd or impossible to implement anywhere ever.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Weregeld was paid by the murderer or the murderer’s family, though, wasn’t it?

            I think most murderers and their families would have a hard time coming up with $9.4 million.

          • John Schilling says:

            Paid for by the murderer(‘s family) mostly under threat of the victim’s family and friends ganging up to kill them, with demanding, paying, and accepting wergild as the generally accepted practice for signaling to third parties which side of the conflict they might want to side with. That’s not going to work nearly so well if we disarm everybody and give the government a monopoly of force.

            So, yeah, the government is going to have to guarantee that $9.4 million for this to be even remotely plausible.

            Hmm, what was the wergild-equivalent for a rape victim? Paging Dr. Friedman…

          • Evan Þ says:

            Yes, I was definitely thinking of the government guaranteeing the weregeld, which would incentivize it to actually investigate crimes. (On the other hand, that’d also incentivize it to just convict someone at the cost of accuracy; look at how civil asset forfeiture has already been going in some jurisdictions.)

            And yes, this’s all way out of the Overton window, and that might be a good thing.

          • Nornagest says:

            Hmm, what was the wergild-equivalent for a rape victim? Paging Dr. Friedman…

            Depends who you did it to; wergilds varied greatly depending on the social status of the victim. According to this paper, the fine for rape in England under Cnut was equivalent to wergild for killing a man of equal stature; for a slave, for example, we’d be talking 60 early English shillings, a value that’s difficult to convert into modern money for a host of reasons but which would be equivalent to about 500 grams of silver, a metal much more expensive then than it is now. (It’d buy you about five cows, for example.) For a person of ceorl rank (the lowest free social class), it’d be 200 shillings.

            There seems to have been some variation, though, and an earlier law code prescribed a significantly lower penalty for abduction. On the other hand, castration was also a traditional punishment.

            There were also fines for other sexual offenses, including holding a woman’s breast (5 shillings), throwing a woman down without lying with her (10 shillings), and removing a nun from her nunnery without permission from the king or local bishop (120 shillings). Interestingly, there does seem to have been a distinction in Cnut’s code between seduction and rape, with lower penalties for the former.

          • John Schilling says:

            @Nornagest: For an allegedly virtuous and heroic saga figure, that’s a suspiciously thorough knowledge of the penalties for various sorts of rape and abduction…

          • LHN says:

            @John Schilling Hey, Superman probably knows the penalty for unauthorized operation of a death ray within city limits. Besides, Nornagest reputedly lived three centuries at a time when watching justice dispensed (or participating, given appropriate status) was a major source of communal entertainment.

  10. Mariani says:

    I said we were very far away from being able to simulate human brains

    I’m curious, Scott: what year would you put the Singularity happening at? If you had to guess

  11. drethelin says:

    Given that I can afford it, and that my BMI is just over 40, should I get a Gastric Bypass? Based on this and my other cursory research, it’s sounding like the answer is a definite yes. Has anyone here gotten one? Does anyone know how much having one impacts your long-term ability to be energetic and do athletic things?

  12. Groober says:

    I read that England had the highest rates of tomatoes anywhere in the world. I was excited to read about this horticultural marvel.

  13. onyomi says:

    New London restaurant where patrons are required to be nude has a waiting list of 25,000.

    New Tokyo restaurant requires patrons to be nude (or dressed in the underwear or toga they provide), thin, and between ages of 20 and 60.

    Museum organizes naked night time tours.

    To some extent I think this is just about providing something new, different, or surprising, and in the case of the museum, I can actually buy the argument that it changes how you feel about the art being in a very sort of vulnerable, open state.

    Though, as indicated by the weight requirements for the Japanese restaurant, I think something else may be at work: the latest fashion for rich people is to be naked and skinny, because being skinny in the modern world is more difficult and arguably more expensive than any clothing.

    • Tsnom Eroc says:

      I think its going to work out terribly.

      I heard of naked gyms, and that brings to my mind skin-infection central. Are they going to wipe down with chemical disinfectant every chair that nude guy/girl uses? How will that effect the food?

      The jokes there are going to be terrible too.

      “As you can see, im very excited for the dessert. HAR HAR HAR”

      ” What do you mean I can’t see anything *laugh track* “

  14. I don’t think Sumner’s ‘neoliberal’ metric is very helpful. But before joining the European Economic Community (as it was called at the time), Greece had been much more orthodox in its economic policies than since joining the EEC. When it was trying to qualify for the Eurozone in the 1990s, it was also much better behaved. But after joining the EU, again it was rather lax in its policies during the 2000s.

    https://pseudoerasmus.com/2015/02/23/greece-orthodoxy-peronism/

  15. Doug S. says:

    Apparently obesity surgery has an interesting side benefit: it cures Type 2 diabetes, even before any significant weight loss occurs. There’s a theory based on rat experiments that it does this by restoring normal function to stomach nerve cells, which start to function oddly in rats given an obesity-promoting, high-fat diet. (Or at least that’s what Dr. Google told me.)

    • Anonymous says:

      What kind of surgery is it? Stomach reduction? Fat removal?

      • dndnrsn says:

        Generally, stomach reduction. I don’t think anyone remotely reputable recommends lipo as a way of dealing with obesity.

    • onyomi says:

      I recall someone, I think Scott, posting a related study finding that the gastric bypass surgery (removing or clamping off a part of the stomach, basically) changed the gut flora composition in obese mice or something, again, even before weight loss occurred. And they figured out the gene responsible for this and turned it off in some mice, with the result that those mice gained back all the weight even after the surgery. Implying that something about how it works is unrelated to the pure physical effect of less space in the stomach.

  16. AlexanderRM says:

    The article on the $1 million 92-house in the national radio silence zone talks a lot about potential as a resort with *enforced* disconnection from electronics, but if my math is correct- just over $10,000 per house- wouldn’t buying them individually to live in be really cheap (by American/first world standards)? I suppose you’d still need to be able to get employment in the area, and lack of telecommunications (how hard would a 100% wired-only internet and phone system be?) wouldn’t help with that, but it still seems incredibly cheap.

    • The Nybbler says:

      It is incredibly cheap, but there’s probably essentially no employment in the area. About all you could do is run a resort or a retirement community for RF-phobes.

      • Cadie says:

        I could see someone generating income by renting parts of the land out on a very short-term basis. Religious retreats, Renaissance festivals, sustainable living workshops – stuff like that would often be compatible with not using cell phones or the Internet while you’re working at or attending the event. So whoever owns the town lets the event organizers use some of the land and facilities for a fee.

        And with 92 houses, one could possibly set aside some of them for low-income people. A 10K house can have very low monthly rent. Maybe set up an adult education / trade school program there, and reserve half the homes for low-income adults who take the job training classes. Or semi-long-term living set up specifically for people with certain disabilities, preferably something that doesn’t normally require ongoing intensive medical care but still qualifies the person for SSDI, like being blind. The town could be set up to accommodate their needs especially well, and there would be some sighted people living there too so driving around and such is covered.

        Lots of options. I kind of wish I could afford it.

        • Lumifer says:

          Please estimate the maintenance costs for a 92-house town. It’s not going to be cheap at all.

    • Xeno of Citium says:

      It looks like the town is being auctioned, and $1m is the starting bid – it’s likely going to go for much than that. Sad, I was hoping some crazy upper-middle class person would buy it and run some sort of resort/social experiment.

  17. Wunderwaffle says:

    >Did you know: Russian author Sergey Lukyanenko (of Night Watch fame) wrote a series of sci-fi novels set in the Master of Orion universe.

    How did you come by this information?

    I am Russian and I’ve read almost all of Lukyanenko’s books including this trilogy, but I didnt know anything about Master of Orion. Btw I consider these books to be among the worse ones of his.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I was playing Master of Orion and I looked something about it up on Wikipedia and they mentioned it.

      • Anonanon says:

        Are you using the GoG version? Would you recommend it?

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I think it’s GoG. I’d very highly recommend it as a game. If you mean as a version, I’ve gotten the occasional stupid bug but overall it’s very playable.

  18. Matthias says:

    Why do some schools produce a disproportionate share of math competition winners? May not just be student characteristics.

    Ha, I went to one of them schools. But for us we had great teachers who cared about this sort of thing, and entrance exams. So easy to explain. (And all kinds of academic competitions, not just math.)

  19. Sniffnoy says:

    Anyone have a copy of the “other gender” study?

    What I notice just looking at the abstract is that it discusses the reasons people give purely in terms of the ordinary sort of advantages and disadvantages. It doesn’t mention (but of course the acutal paper might, I don’t have access to it) anyone giving “gender identity” as a reason to switch or stay the same, saying “being a man would just be wrong, because I am a woman”. Etc. Is good old “cis by default” actually the majority of the population after all? That would be a big relief if true, that’s for sure. But my guess is that the study didn’t attempt to detect such things and so can’t actually provide any information on the matter. Someone with the actual paper could say more.

  20. Anon. says:

    How about adding “neoliberal” to the banlist? Almost nobody calls themselves a neoliberal, and as is obvious from this thread people have wildly differing definitions of “neoliberal”, which results in complete inability to communicate. It’s just as bad as en-arr-eks.

    • SD000 says:

      I’ll proudly call myself a neoliberal.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Same here. Where do I get my badge to get in conferences on diabolically controlling the world?

    • onyomi says:

      Neoliberal is used too much in academic discourse to ban. Even if it is an anti-concept or used in too many different ways to be deictically useful, we have to be able to talk about it, as we have to be able to talk about “racism” (which also, arguably, means too many different things to too many different people and is too emotionally charged at this point to be helpful).

    • TD says:

      Obviously the main focus of neoliberal is the free market, but can neoliberals believe in border control and the welfare state as well? If so, it might be a better label for me than libertarian, since I’m an ardent NAP breaker.

      • onyomi says:

        What’s especially confusing is that what American liberals mean when they say “neoliberal” seems to have a strong overlap with what libertarians mean when they say “neoconservative,” though I’m not sure the two are exactly the same. The former is more like “whatever Reagan and Thatcher did,” while the latter focuses more on militarism. But both point to “crony capitalism,” and SD000’s reply above notwithsanding, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a lot of people who self-identify as either one.

        I’d actually be curious to see whether David Friedman would describe himself as “neoliberal” (though I know he’s also one of the pioneers of ancap), given that his father is so strongly associated with it and he seems to roughly agree with his father on most economic issues?

        • TD says:

          I’ve always seen “neoliberal” as a left wing term equating to “free markets by gunpoint”, since it started to be used to describe the Pinochet regime originally, as well as other death squad happy US puppet regimes in South America during the 70s and 80s. Maybe a reason no one self-identifies that way. Plenty of conservatives like to be identified with Reagan and Thatcher, but would get uncomfortable about figures like Pinochet, who is a sort of free market Hitler.

          • Tracy W says:

            Apart from that Hitler’s regime led to the death of about 10% of Germans, and Germany’s invasion and occupation by its enemies, while Pinochet peacefully retired. (And that’s leaving aside the Holocaust, and Germany’s role in starting WWII).

            The Pinochet regime was a nasty brutal dictatorship. Sadly, it was the sort of brutality that is all too common in human history. Hitler was operating on a whole different level of governing incompetence (“governing” to cover economic, political and military).

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            Minor nitpick- Pinochet’s regime was slightly above the norm (the whole tossing people out of planes is… irregular), but that puts him in the same category as Mussolini- bad, but sadly drowned out by comparison with the much more horrible examples of other countries at the same time.

        • Lumifer says:

          It seems to me that there are two different, um, semantic fields for the word “neoliberal” coming out of two different spheres.

          In economics “neoliberal” mostly means “as much free market as possible” and “the government is the problem, not the solution”.

          In politics “neoliberal” means “democracy at gunpoint” and “we’ll make you love Big Brother the Western political system, you ignorant savages”.

          Obviously, those are quite different things.

          • Matthias says:

            To make matters more confusing, ‘neoliberal’ was one of the words the post-war West Germans used to describe their social-economic system. These days ‘ordoliberal’ (another one of their words) has less weird connotations, since nobody uses it.

            For them ‘neoliberal’ meant markets plus the state makes sure that competition stays alive, ie trust busting.

          • Tracy W says:

            Can you cite an economist who identifies as neoliberal apart from Scott Sumner?
            Or anyone in the political field who identifies as neoliberal?

          • Lumifer says:

            @Tracy W

            Self-identification as a neoliberal is a bit problematic.

            Economists are more likely to identify themselves as Keynesians or Austrians or saltwater or Chicago School, etc. All of these labels are more specific and more relevant for them. The “classic” neoliberal economist was Milton Friedman. If you believe the narrative about neoliberal economists orchestrating the Russia/Eastern Europe economic transition post-1990 or so, Jeffrey Sachs et al got to be neoliberal though I doubt this is an accurate label to apply to him.

            In politics, the term is poisoned. It’s poisoned because the crowd which identified as neoliberal — Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc. — pushed the US into bringing the democracy to the Middle East by invading Iraq and that turned out to be a disaster. They had good historical precedents, mainly Germany and Japan post-WW2, but it turned out that the Middle East is… different. Because it was such an epic fail, I don’t think that anyone in politics will be willing to self-identify as a neoliberal for quite a while.

          • Tracy W says:

            @Lumifer, in economics, that’s my experience. The term neoliberal doesn’t actually refer to any economics system of thinking, it’s a term made up by people who want to oppose something but don’t really understand what they’re opposing.

            As for politics, did Rumsfield or Wolfowitz actually self-identify as neoliberal.before the Iraq War?

          • Lumifer says:

            @Tracy W

            I don’t know about Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz. It was a while ago and I’m too lazy to go search their writings for the “our neoliberal doctrine” phrase :-/ I think that in their time people who didn’t like them called them neoconservatives and people who did like them called them neoliberals (with “liberal” in the classic XIX century meaning), but I’m willing to be corrected if that turns out to be wrong.

          • onyomi says:

            “politics, the term is poisoned. It’s poisoned because the crowd which identified as neoliberal — Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.”

            You mean, neoconservative? I can’t imagine Rumsfeld calling himself liberal anything in the US context.

          • Galle says:

            I’m starting to suspect that “neoliberal” and “neoconservative” might actually be synonyms. Was this the work of the saying people who named social democracy and democratic socialism?

          • Anon. says:

            The “classic” neoliberal economist was Milton Friedman.

            What makes Friedman a neoliberal instead of a classical liberal or libertarian?

          • Lumifer says:

            Hm. I think I’m more confused then it seemed at the beginning 😀 so let me stick an label “epistemic status: uncertain” onto my comments in this subthread.

            Wolfowitz was indeed a neoconservative, but neoconservatives, I think, are basically former leftists who switched sides and argued for an aggressive foreign policy, exactly the “democracy at gunpoint” mentioned above.

      • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

        Since my own definition (we’re all having some trouble with definitions on this one) of neoliberalism is more or less “that subset of (broadly) libertarian economic policy which lies within the Overton window of industrialized democracies in general”, you not only can believe in the welfare state but you have to. You should want somewhat less of it and/or a more streamlined version such as a modest GBI, in order to pass the “broadly libertarian” part of the test.

        Border control you can go either way so long as the purpose is security. The moment that restricting the flow of competitors for native workers becomes part of the motivation, you’re beyond the boundaries of neoliberalism as I understand it.

    • Snodgrass says:

      I thought “neoliberalism” was used simply because “19th-century laissez-faire economics, called ‘liberal’ at the time” took too long to say, and “liberal” gets very confused with the personal-freedom welfare-state group of ideologies.

      It’s neoliberal by analogy with neoclassical – we’re going to do the 19th-century-liberal, or first-century-Roman, thing again in a contemporary context.

  21. nonmess says:

    Speaking of obesity, I was wondering if any SSC readers have done any research into how foods affect people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. I am convinced there has been significant evolutionary pressure on modern humans in the last 100k years. People in different parts of the globe have been subject to different forces, and they’ve stayed more or less isolated from other groups. Along with the physical differences you can observe, I’d expect there to be some differences in the way people metabolize different foods, but I haven’t found any reputable sources arguing this case.

    I’m South Asian. Most of the advice I see on the internet, usually written by Whites, give blanket endorsements of certain foods or diets, and never mention race/ethnicity. Even in the academic journals, race is sometimes controlled for, but it’s usually not my race. It doesn’t help that I don’t have any training in biology, so I’m not really able to make inferences from two separate sources like “people with greater levels of hormone H respond better to treatment T” and “People of Race R have higher levels of hormone H”.

    If you have any relevant information on the topic, I’d be grateful if you shared.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I have seen claims that some ethnic groups deal better with carbs than others, which is usually explained on the basis of “people from group x have been eating grains longer than people from group y”, but it often has a whiff of bro science about it. And sometimes the explanation doesn’t make sense – I saw something the other day claiming that South Asians have more issues with carbs than Europeans, but South Asians had agricultural (ie, grain-based) civilizations when the ancestors of most/all Europeans today were still running around naked in the woods.

      Plus, the increase in rates of overweightness and obesity seems to have a lot to do with diets that both involve more food than would have been the norm in most societies, and foods that are fairly recent in origin: I don’t think anybody’s ancient forbears were eating Doritos.

    • Lumifer says:

      I’d expect there to be some differences in the way people metabolize different foods, but I haven’t found any reputable sources arguing this case.

      There are some widely accepted differences. For example, lactose intolerance. For another example, reaction to alcohol.

      I don’t have any relevant links for South Asians, but you might want to search through Razib Khan‘s postings. He is a geneticist and often keeps an eye out for things which are relevant to his particular ethnic background.

    • Loquat says:

      This guy Ronesh Sinha claims to be relevant to your interests.

  22. meh says:

    > 30% of people would choose to be the other gender if reincarnated

    Actual survey seems to be behind a paywall, but it is hard to draw conclusions without. For example were there only 2 choices (choose same, choose different), or was there also a no preference?

    Also, did respondents interpret ‘reincarnation’ as meaning you’d retain your previous experiences/memories of your first gender, or you’d just be a new person with whichever gender?

  23. nyccine says:

    In the game of callout culture, either you win or you die.

    Link seems confusing; I’m guessing Nina is the one learning that call-out culture can go both ways, but the link doesn’t make that obvious.

    Also, what is it with leftists offering strident defenses of violence against people they don’t like? And why is it always the ones who would get out-right pulverized if a road war ever actually broke out?

    • wysinwyg says:

      Also, what is it with leftists offering strident defenses of violence against people they don’t like? And why is it always the ones who would get out-right pulverized if a road war ever actually broke out?

      You don’t think that’s pretty trivial to find on the right as well?

      • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

        Once you define virtue in terms of group identity+ideological purity as opposed to abstract standards, it becomes very hard to hold the “virtuous” to any standard.

        I always wanted to come up with a rhetoric which would allow the right to scream racist and sexist just as much as the left, with the goal being to completely destroy the currency of identity politics and those accusations, and thus renew an appreciation for basic standards of discourse.

        • Hlynkacg says:

          the goal being to completely destroy the currency of identity politics and those accusations, and thus renew an appreciation for basic standards of discourse.

          I’m pretty sure the first part is already happening. Still waiting on the second.

        • LPSP says:

          Or of course, the standard becomes “How many disgusting, vile X-tribers did you kill today?”.

          The only standard how frequently and intensely you strike blows against the enemy.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Depends where on the right, though. I’ve seen a lot more ostensibly-respectable left-wingers using their own names defending busting up Trump rallies and so forth than their counterparts on the right defending aggressive political violence.

        Of course, there are tons of people with pseudonyms and avatars of Pepe the frog in SS caps praising right-wing political violence, but I don’t know if that’s comparable.

        • wysinwyg says:

          @dndnrsn:

          Of course, there are tons of people with pseudonyms and avatars of Pepe the frog in SS caps praising right-wing political violence, but I don’t know if that’s comparable.

          Yeah, I think if you compare like to like that’s called “special pleading.”

          I don’t think threats of political violence are as far out of the mainstream of the right wing as you’re trying to paint here (just for an easy example, I’ve heard Rush Limbaugh advocate for just shooting illegal immigrants on his radio program), but I agree with @Luke the CIA Stooge that these guilt by association tactics don’t get anyone anywhere. That’s why I didn’t try to imply that there’s something about conservatism that makes its followers especially prone to trying to justify political violence.

          I did respond to a comment that tried to imply that there’s something about liberalism that makes its followers especially prone to trying to justify political violence…and now you basically seem to agree.

          So you do agree? That “leftists” are more prone to advocate for political violence? If so, why do you think so? Is it imperative to your worldview that this is so?

          Have you read any of Scott’s stuff about the principle of charity?

          • dndnrsn says:

            The comment said “leftists”, not “liberals” – the people who call themselves “leftists” generally disdain those they call “liberals”.

            I don’t think there’s anything inherent to liberalism or to conservatism that make the followers of either especially prone to political violence or to defending it.

            However, leftists are not liberals and reactionaries are not conservatives. Leftists and reactionaries, I think the historical record shows, are more prone to political violence, and to defending it. Please don’t be snarky about the principle of charity: the fact is that violence against Trump rallies is often accompanied by articles by self-proclaimed leftists defending that violence. The original comment is about a link to a site where one of the recent posts is, in quite overly-dramatic language, a defence of violence against Trump supporters, and an attack on those on the left side of the political spectrum who condemn that violence.

            EDIT: as for my worldview, I myself am a liberal, and it is not “imperative” for me to believe leftists endorse political violence: noticing leftists endorsing political violence leads me to the conclusion that at least some leftists do endorse political violence.

            Additionally, the defences of political violence in the US currently are not evenly distributed, because the violence isn’t. Trump supporters are not attacking Hillary or Bernie campaign events.

          • wysinwyg says:

            However, leftists are not liberals and reactionaries are not conservatives. Leftists and reactionaries, I think the historical record shows, are more prone to political violence, and to defending it. Please don’t be snarky about the principle of charity

            Not at all, that’s a reasonable distinction to make. I thought you were conflating the leftists calling for violence with the mainstream left while distancing the mainstream right from the reactionary end of the right.

            Trump supporters are not attacking Hillary or Bernie campaign events.

            No, but they are stomping homeless hispanic people. And urinating on them. And I’m a little curious about what you think of summary execution of illegal immigrants.

            Is it not political violence if it’s not at a rally?

          • Hlynkacg says:

            Is it not political violence if it’s not political

          • dndnrsn says:

            I am, for the record, against the execution of illegal immigrants, summary or otherwise. Massively disproportionate and inhumane. Limbaugh’s a scumbag, and for a period of maybe a decade and a half the mainstream right really was much worse than the mainstream left, and even some outside the mainstream left, with regard to this sort of thing.

            The types defending – not merely apologizing for, but defending, and even promoting – violence against Trump supporters are not the mainstream left. They are, however, more mainstream than the reactionaries defending and promoting political violence that isn’t actually happening (see below): they’re journalists at reputable or semi-reputable outfits, grad students, assistant profs, and so on, generally using their own names. They are not mainstream, insofar as they’re a grab bag of socialists, anarchists, communists, etc of various degrees – but those things are more respectable in our society than anything on the far right.

            And more mainstream figures have apologized for political violence, in the classic sense of the term: the next time a Trump rally is busted up, and people are assaulted, some mainstream left-wingers will condemn the violence but essentially say it’s Trump’s fault, and then some less mainstream (but still not afraid to use their own names) leftists will write about how, no, actually, violence is awesome and assaulting people for going to a political rally is a-ok in their books.

            Meanwhile, violence by Trump supporters is far more limited, and less apologized for/defended/encouraged by anyone not pseudonymous. Trump did, however, make a remark about paying legal fees for people who rough up protestors – which is lowlife behaviour, and he’s hardly a tasteful figure himself.

            I worry that the reactionary end of the right will continue to become more popular and eventually more acceptable, to some degree in reaction (ha!) to all this stuff.

            EDIT: If you have sources indicating that the violence is less one-sided, please post. I don’t think I’m in any sort of right-wing echo chamber: I read some mainstream left online sources, the print news media I read is exclusively left wing or centrist, and my Facebook feed is almost exclusively left wingers. If I’ve missed something I’d like to see it

          • Gbdub says:

            That universities and the media are themselves made up mostly of liberals and/or blue tribers is I think a not particularly disputable fact. Also, the commenters here are largely university educated and have probably above average exposure to media.

            So among this group and our peers, I think “conservatives are better able to sympathize with liberals than vice versa, because they have more exposure to the ideas” is probably a real phenomenon (unfortunately this probably encourages some less than ideal behaviors here as it is a “safe space” for reddish-gray ideas).

            My Facebook feed is awash in “Trump is literally Hitler” stuff and violence at these rallies is largely excused, “well what did he expect, the way he talks?” Criticism of Hillary definitely exists, but more substantive attacks on email, donor connections, etc. More of the criticism comes from disgruntled Bernie supporters than from Trumpers.

            My Facebook friends list is obviously highly non-random, but that’s kind of my point. I’m sure there are segments of red America that are equally likely to excuse political violence (the Bundys, for one), but they are more isolated from the dominant Internet/university/media culture that most of us here live in.

            So the question is really, “what’s your sample space?”

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            With regard to campus stuff: If a big strong guy who knows how to fight beats up a weak little guy who doesn’t, what point does it make to say “hey, if the situation was reversed, it would be the same”? It still does not speak well of the big guy that he beat up the little guy. “They would do this to me if they could, therefore it’s not a big deal that I’m doing it to them” is not a moral justification.

            The point is to say that the lack of campus violence from the right isn’t so because rightist college students or even rightists in general are more virtuous, but because it isn’t the right place for them to try that and they’d rather not be up against such odds. Part of this undoubtedly also has to do with age: our culture has more leftist young people than rightist ones, and there comes a point in a human’s life where being a rabble rouser stops being cool. Human nature doesn’t seem to vary much between the lines we’re drawing here, and all I’m seeing is a difference of circumstance.

            So yes, telling people off for either initiating or advocating the use of violence like this is fine. I’m simply not convinced it makes their side worse than the other is, and instead think that they only find themselves in unequal positions.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Stefan Drinic:

            I agree that if the Young Republicans ran the show, they probably wouldn’t be nicer. If the far right ran the show, they would probably be nastier.

            It doesn’t make the right-wing students virtuous, but it doesn’t make the left-wing students who are actually practicing intimidation tactics virtuous either. “You’re not better than me, you would do this too if you have the power” isn’t a line of moral reasoning I can accept, because it absolves potentially anything.

            The right-wingers who are having their rights denied and are being assaulted are not made morally superior by virtue of this – but they are not in the wrong; those who are denying their rights and are assaulting them are.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The point is to say that the lack of campus violence from the right isn’t so because rightist college students or even rightists in general are more virtuous, but because it isn’t the right place for them to try that and they’d rather not be up against such odds.

            So what evidence do you have for this assertion? E.g., examples of known left-wingers giving a talk to members of a majority right-wing profession and getting chased out by an angry mob; or something better, if you can think of it.

      • nyccine says:

        You don’t think that’s pretty trivial to find on the right as well?

        Correct, I do not. I am not aware of outright encouragement of open violence amongst mainstream right-wing or right-of-center commentators; I can go to Daily Kos and get “we’re just gonna have to kill all bigots, aren’t we?” comments, and watch them go unchallenged; I don’t see anything like that at, say, Ace of Spades, or the Daily Caller.

        If you’re telling me I’ve got to go Stormfront to see a right-wing version of what I see constantly, across even mainstream left-wing sites, well, you’re really not proving me wrong.

        • wysinwyg says:

          I personally think you come to this view by some combination of filtering your news sources, ignoring violations by your perceived ingroup, and exaggerating ambiguous violations by your perceived outgroup. I don’t think political violence is very far at all out of the mainstream of the political right unless you want to disavow the majority of people (many admittedly unsophisticated) who identify as “conservative”.

          But same questions for you:
          Do you think that “leftists” are more prone to advocate for political violence? If so, why do you think so? Is it imperative to your worldview that this is so?

          Have you read any of Scott’s stuff about the principle of charity?

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            That “leftists” are more prone to advocate for political violence? If so, why do you think so?

            They are the stronger cultural block in our common environemnts (universities and the internet). When your opinions are default, you feel more comfortable to be “un-PC”.

            As an aside, it might just have been an accident of the way the conversation developed, but why are you using “leftists” in quotes, while not “liberals” (or rather, “liberalism”)? Inasmuch as any of these words have meaning, I’d say the former is more appropriate.

          • nyccine says:

            @wysinwyg:
            Have you ever heard the joke about the pot and the kettle?

            Feel free to not accuse me of arguing in bad faith, then immediately presume to lecture me on my need to read up on the principle of charity.

            No, I did not come to my views by filtering my news sources, as I would not have been able to notice the trends if I were.

            Show me the conservatives coordinating mobs to violently assault people at rallies for Hillary or Bernie. Show me the right-wing journalists writing think piece after think piece about how the violence is perfectly justified, since Hillary is “literally Hitler” and how it’s probably racist to even criticize the protesters.

            Show me right-wing college groups getting in the face of invited left-wing speakers and threatening them with violence if they don’t leave, like Milo Yiannopoulos got. Show me right-wing students throwing piss on leftist speakers, like Laura Southern got, then show me the thousands of Youtube and Twitter comments about how “the bitch got what she deserved.” Show me mainstream conservatives claiming that anyone who expresses left-of-center opinions must have their businesses shut down, get fired from their jobs, and essentially be removed from society, like I’ve seen virtually everyone on the mainstream left do.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Well, “Hitlery” is one moniker for her. Probably inevitable given the name, though, and I haven’t seen anyone claiming she’s actually as bad as Hitler.

          • wysinwyg says:

            @Whatever Happened to Anonymous:

            As an aside, it might just have been an accident of the way the conversation developed, but why are you using “leftists” in quotes, while not “liberals” (or rather, “liberalism”)? Inasmuch as any of these words have meaning, I’d say the former is more appropriate.

            People are complaining about the term “neoliberal” being thrown around without having a strict definition. The situation is even worse for “leftist”, but I can’t help but notice everyone failing to complain about that one.

            @nyccine:

            Have you ever heard the joke about the pot and the kettle?

            Feel free to not accuse me of arguing in bad faith, then immediately presume to lecture me on my need to read up on the principle of charity.

            Feel free not to jump to the conclusion that I am a cast iron pot.

            In fact, I never accused you of arguing in bad faith, so I still feel rather justified in reminding you about the principle of charity.

            No, I did not come to my views by filtering my news sources, as I would not have been able to notice the trends if I were.

            Of course you came to your views by filtering your news sources! You can’t possibly read all news sources, and it’s only natural that you will tend to watch the ones you find more credible and informative. Everyone filters their news sources.

            On the other hand, taking this simple factual observation as an accusation of bad faith feels to me like…well…bad faith? Lack of charity? I don’t know, why not tell me why you assumed I was accusing you of moral perfidy when there were plenty of very plausible interpretations of my statement that did no such thing.

            Show me the conservatives coordinating mobs to violently assault people at rallies for Hillary or Bernie.

            You know, I’d love to see some credible sources either way on this. A little bit of google research suggests that the violence is not nearly so one-sided as you’re trying to imply. Of course, you will tell me this is because of the media bias against Trump and Trump supporters — that is a plausible explanation.

            But if that is the case, I’m still rather stuck because it’s a bit of a he-said, she-said. Do you have any particular sources on violent incidents at Trump rallies?

            Show me right-wing students throwing piss on leftist speakers, like Laura Southern got, then show me the thousands of Youtube and Twitter comments about how “the bitch got what she deserved.”

            You really want me to go looking for the equivalent of these tweets and youtube comments on the right?

            Were those Chimpire guys on the left or on the right would you say?

            Show me mainstream conservatives claiming that anyone who expresses left-of-center opinions must have their businesses shut down, get fired from their jobs, and essentially be removed from society, like I’ve seen virtually everyone on the mainstream left do.

            Oh please give me a citation for this. Maybe I should make you be more specific about what you mean by “virtually everyone on the mainstream left” first.

            On a first glance, this seems a little bit histrionic which suggests a bit of a bias. But I’ll abide by the principle of charity and give you a chance to back up your claims before getting self-righteous. 😉

          • Zorgon says:

            I will say that describing this as a “trend” does make it more accurate. It would have been easy to find a right-wing equivalent to a DKos commentor making reference to killing political enemies 9 years ago; indeed, during the run up to Obama’s first election there were regular such statements coming from places like Free Republic.

            Nowadays it has very much changed sides.

            Does anyone else see an obvious explanation for this trend?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Zorgon

            A possible explanation is that the people who, had they been around 10 or so years ago would have been fairly mainstream right wingers arguing that (to give an example) anyone against the Iraq war was a traitor and should be keelhauled, are today finding a place in the alt-right or whatever you want to call it.

            Perhaps there is less of a place for them in the mainstream right, or perhaps the far right has gotten more appealing, or perhaps both.

            I do recall the mainstream right being far more mean spirited and nasty, relative to the mainstream left, ten or so years ago.

          • Nornagest says:

            Maybe it has to do with who’s in power, although this would predict a nastier Left during the Clinton Administration, and from what I remember they weren’t too bad then. (Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, was active and just as nasty as he’d later be — although he had fewer companions in the talk radio biz.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            It drives me nuts when people get torqued about various people on the left referring to Trump as Hitler-like when that was about 4 or 5 years of the Obama presidency. Heck, within the last week we have had Trump insinuating that Obama wants Muslim terrorist attacks on American soil to succeed. That is the presumptive Republican nominee for President suggesting the president is, what, a Manchurian candidate?

            Do you know how regular it was to accuse Obama of taking the country towards fascism?

            Trump make authoritarian and racist statements (Paul Ryan is saying they are racist, which seems like it should then be a fair statement on my part). People reach for authoritarian and racist analogs, and yeah, some people come up with Hitler. Trump has not proposed a final solution, nor has he yet proposed forcing Muslims to wear a star and crescent arm band, but he has said we should look at monitoring all Muslims. I’m not sure that it is useful or even really warranted to compare him to Hitler, but it isn’t unconnected to the things he actually says and proposes.

            As they say on Monday Night Countdown, “C’Mon, Man!”

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            All good points. The old tradition of claiming your opponent is Hitler is at least starting to have some better targets (I jest, but Trump does tick off about half my boxes for what I consider fascism to be).

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @wysinwig:

            But if that is the case, I’m still rather stuck because it’s a bit of a he-said, she-said. Do you have any particular sources on violent incidents at Trump rallies?

            You’re… kidding, right? For one, did you miss San Jose a month ago, when protesters rioted outside one of his rallies and physically attacked Trump’s supporters, and in response to this violent behavior the mayor said it was “irresponsible” of Trump to visit the city?

            Look, if you want to state that there’s political violence by the right that many of us here don’t know about because we have our own filter bubbles, that’s fine; please, by all means, educate us. But airily denying well-reported events like this frankly feels like you’re trying to gaslight.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Okay then. Let me join the ranks of the maligned.

            Show me right-wing college groups getting in the face of invited left-wing speakers and threatening them with violence if they don’t leave, like Milo Yiannopoulos got.

            The right wing college groups are such a minority that even trying this would spell doom on them; it is a matter of practicality, not virtue. College groups is a very specific group to single out anyway, as it ensures you’re bound to end up with a high concentration of left wing people. It’s like noting in surprise that lots of church groups aren’t very supportive of gays getting married.

            Show me right-wing students throwing piss on leftist speakers, like Laura Southern got, then show me the thousands of Youtube and Twitter comments about how “the bitch got what she deserved.”

            Jo Cox was killed, and no small amount of people are defending that. There are many, many pictures/videos of people drowning in the Mediterranean on freaking Facebook with people going on in celebration, let alone more anonymous platforms.

            Show me mainstream conservatives claiming that anyone who expresses left-of-center opinions must have their businesses shut down, get fired from their jobs, and essentially be removed from society, like I’ve seen virtually everyone on the mainstream left do.

            This one’s easiest; a couple hundred thousand young adults being disowned and kicked out by their parents for having the gall to be homosexual. I know it must be very hard for a number of bakers to have to close up shop, but it doesn’t in my book weigh up to your own parents excluding you from the family because you don’t live up to what in my not at all humble opinion are ridiculous standards.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Stefan Drinic,
            You make a fair point about the right wing college groups, but the rest…

            To echo Gbdub “what’s your sample space?”

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @Stefan Drinic

            The right wing college groups are such a minority that even trying this would spell doom on them; it is a matter of practicality, not virtue.

            Are you seriously stating that because the right wing groups could potentially be rioting and shutting down the left wing groups in some alternate universe, we’re not allowed to complain about the exact opposite happening in reality right now?

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ ThirteenthLetter

            No, he’s just saying that the absence of incidents is not evidence of the absence of will.

            The rest however I think is far more egregious, IE if some publication as prominent on the right as HuffPo or The Guardian are on the left were defending the murder of Helen Jo Cox, celebrating people drowning in the Mediterranean, or defending violence against lefties in general I’m pretty sure I would have heard about it by now either from my own (very right wing) peer-group or from the outrage of others.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Video of Trump inciting and applauding violence against protesters:

            http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000004269364/trump-and-violence.html

            Trump is a thuggish demagogue who thinks political violence against peaceful protesters is a barrel of laughs. He also has a somewhat larger megaphone than the Huffington Post or The Guardian.

            Show me mainstream conservatives claiming that anyone who expresses left-of-center opinions must have their businesses shut down, get fired from their jobs, and essentially be removed from society, like I’ve seen virtually everyone on the mainstream left do.

            How long ago was it that mainstream conservatives campaigned to make homosexuality a fireable offense for schoolteachers? Boy scout troop leaders? How many gay people and supporters of gay rights are fired from religious organizations each year for their sexual orientation or political views? Have you ever even bothered to find out?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Trump is a Bufoon, but of those comments of those comments, only the one at 0:50 really seems like it could be interpreted as inciting violence. There are a couple others that are borderline, but they don’t strike me as being any worse than say, Obama exhorting his supporters to argue with their neighbors, get in people’s faces, or punch back twice as hard.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Trump:

            “He should have been roughed up.”

            “If you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, just knock the crap out of them.”

            “I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell you.”

            “Try not to hurt him– if you do I’ll defend you in court.”

            If you think this is equivalent to telling someone to argue with their neighbors, man, you are not a guy whose opinion on stuff is worth listening to.

          • Jiro says:

            This one’s easiest; a couple hundred thousand young adults being disowned and kicked out by their parents for having the gall to be homosexual.

            The question is about mob violence. Parents doing bad things to their children is inherently not mob violence. Even a small number of parents who can have no influence on society in general can do bad things to their children.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            No, he’s just saying that the absence of incidents is not evidence of the absence of will.

            Thank you.

            The question is about mob violence. Parents doing bad things to their children is inherently not mob violence. Even a small number of parents who can have no influence on society in general can do bad things to their children.

            No, it really, really wasn’t. To recap:

            Show me mainstream conservatives claiming that anyone who expresses left-of-center opinions must have their businesses shut down, get fired from their jobs, and essentially be removed from society, like I’ve seen virtually everyone on the mainstream left do.

            This isn’t about mob violence, it’s about bakers and cakes or Brendan Eich. The virtually everyone part of the quote is especially dumb, but I do think being disowned for being gay is a very good equivalent of being fired for being bigoted(whatever the hell that might mean).

          • Jaskologist says:

            Are there actual real statistics to back up the “hundreds of thousands disowned” claim?

            (I have personally witnessed people claiming their family shunned them, and known that this was a complete fabrication. Self-reports can lie, especially when given to a community which encourages painting oneself as oppressed and denouncing your family.)

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            I’m not sure if there is any hard research, but that the homeless, especially among youths, are more likely to be homosexual, is undisputable; even so, some looking into the hard facts would be a good idea. Additionally, the amount of people this happens to says nothing about those who wisely keep their mouths shut, or parents who would disown such a person if any of their children were gay, so such statistics are a touch fuzzy no matter what.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            In addition, for it to be analogous, there only has to be many mainstream people advocating for it. The actual disowning could be rare.

            And if you look, I’m sure you will find large number of fundamentalist Christians saying that’s what you need to do (certainly not so long ago). You will also find the opposite, a claim of a need to love the sinner, not the sin. But that does not eliminate group 1.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Stefan Drinic:

            The right wing college groups are such a minority that even trying this would spell doom on them; it is a matter of practicality, not virtue.

            With regard to campus stuff: If a big strong guy who knows how to fight beats up a weak little guy who doesn’t, what point does it make to say “hey, if the situation was reversed, it would be the same”? It still does not speak well of the big guy that he beat up the little guy. “They would do this to me if they could, therefore it’s not a big deal that I’m doing it to them” is not a moral justification.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:

            But it is a valid counter to “we would never do that”, which I believe is what is being claimed

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            Well, that’s true.

            I suppose it can be divided into the hypothetical of “if the far right was less taboo than the far left, would we see promotion of right-wing political violence from people who aren’t pseudonymous internet randoms?” to which the answer is almost certainly yes.

            However, the answer to the question “are we, right now, seeing more promotion of political violence by people who aren’t pseudonymous internet randoms on the left than on the right?” is also yes.

          • Nornagest says:

            I have personally witnessed people claiming their family shunned them, and known that this was a complete fabrication. Self-reports can lie, especially when given to a community which encourages painting oneself as oppressed and denouncing your family.

            I’ve met a couple of people that were legit disowned, but no one of my generation. That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen now, but I think it might point to a real change in frequency.

            n=1 and all that, of course.

          • Jiro says:

            This isn’t about mob violence, it’s about bakers and cakes or Brendan Eich. The virtually everyone part of the quote is especially dumb, but I do think being disowned for being gay is a very good equivalent of being fired for being bigoted(whatever the hell that might mean).

            Bakers and Eich get stopped either by laws (which are indirect mob violence) or by mobs. Yes, technically boycotting someone isn’t violence, but mobs are still mobs.

            If some baker’s parents wouldn’t pay for his college education, and he ends up going homeless, that wouldn’t count either.

            Furthermore, the “virtually everyone” implies that the group has enough power to create a mob. It’s not meaningless.

        • gbdub says:

          Since this has basically devolved into a pissing contest over the definition of “mainstream” (pun… maybe intended?), perhaps we can just agree that promoting extrajudicial violence against intellectual opponents is bad, and should be pushed back on regardless of motivation? Because we definitely seem to agree on that and short of a full survey of literally the entirety of political discussion we are never going to prove who is “more” guilty.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I second this. I think that initiating violence is wrong in most circumstances.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yes. It’s wrong to call for violence against your political opponents.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            agreed.

          • Anonanon says:

            It’s very easy to say this… but is it possible to make a credible commitment?

            In this thread we have one side claiming that just because the right isn’t beating people up, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to: “the absence of incidents is not evidence of the absence of will.”

            Is it possible to make any claim to non-violence that the other side won’t simply write off as posturing?
            Won’t they know that, deep in our cold, black white republican hearts, we still secretly “(think) political violence against peaceful protesters is a barrel of laughs.”?
            And won’t they still take it for granted that we’ll leap into a frenzied orgy of bigoted violence the minute we’re given the opportunity, “stomping homeless hispanic people (and) urinating on them.”?

            How do we make a credible commitment to non-violence when neither our statements nor even our actions are considered credible evidence?

      • Galle says:

        Trump’s entire campaign is founded on it.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      I’ve noticed that certain sections of the left (increasingly mainstream, it seems, although that might just me noticing it more) seem to think that expecting people to act calmly and rationally is somehow oppressive, because members of oppressed groups should be able to express their emotions without being constrained by other people’s expectations. So that probably has something to do with it.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is an odd statement. How exactly did you come to observe “certain sections of the left”? Is your day job running a polling company?

      • Galle says:

        It’s just you noticing it more. They were getting increasingly mainstream a few years ago, but have largely been pushed back to the fringes where they belong.

        • gbdub says:

          Eh, it seems to pop up (recently) whenever Black Lives Matter does something that elicits blowback because of their methods.

          I remember the “tone policing” debate most prominently around the Ferguson riots, when criticism of rioting was labeled racist. That seems an abuse of the concept though – getting good and mad about something is one thing, using it as an excuse to burn down your neighbor’s place of business is another.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @The original Mr. X:
        The debate there is about “tone policing”.

        The canonical example, I think, would go something like:
        “P1: I’m fucking pissed that I get stopped by police all the time for no reason. Racial profiling is racist and demeaning and I’m not fucking standing for it.”

        “P2: Woah. Woah. Calm down and watch your tone.”

        The criticism of P2, I think, roughly, is that 1) they are claiming that if someone is angry about a thing, you can’t have a conversation about that thing, 2) they are implicitly claiming it’s immoral to be angry about being treated as a suspect merely because of being black, and 3) they are implicitly claiming that the object claims about racial profiling are now invalidated.

        There is also a separate argument that is more drawn from the history of civil protest.

        Now, I’m sure the principle of “no tone policing” gets abused.

        I predict someone will claim that I engage in tone-policing all the time.

        • dndnrsn says:

          @HeelBearCub: Is this in particular really about tone policing?

          Take the article which seems to have sparked this conversation tree, which is a profane rant against left-wingers the author sees as insufficiently righteous, who have committed the crime of condemning aggressive violence against Trump rallies. The author clearly sees riots involving violent assaults against Trump supporters (who are, of course, fascists) and against the police as justified as a sort of preemptive self-defence, and sees people on the left condemning illegal and aggressive violence as, essentially, being on the side of oppression.

          This isn’t just internet firebrands, either: I’ve seen a decent amount of it on Facebook, and only some of it from people who are particularly radical in their politics.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            I mean, if Trump was the actual Fascist-Nazi-God-Emperor that’s been reported by a whole bunch of “reputable” news sources, then violent action is justified. The problem is that all the doomsaying is bullshit, the writers of said doomsaying knew it was bullshit, and now, when people act as if it were not bullshit, these same writers act concerned.

            The journalists shouldn’t have been that careless about the accusations they throw around.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Trump is, in my books, halfway towards fascism, but is missing some important bits.

            I, being a craven ivory-tower liberal or whatever the oh-so-dangerous journalism grad students cheering on violence by others are condemning their nearest opponents as, think that initiating violence is wrong.

            The problem with “if he’s a fascist, then violence is justified” is that, surprise surprise, anybody you want to do violence against gets condemned as a fascist. “Violence is OK when good guys use it against bad guys” means that everybody – who doesn’t see themselves as the good guys? – will conveniently discover that those they don’t like are the bad guys.

            It’s a similar problem with preemptive self-defence as a claim: for instance, cops who know that “I thought he was going for a gun; I thought I was in danger; it was not feasible to wait until there clearly was a threat because by then it could be too late” will probably get them off a homicide charge are more likely to shoot before there’s a clear threat.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            The problem with “if he’s a fascist, then violence is justified” is that, surprise surprise, anybody you want to do violence against gets condemned as a fascist.

            Yes, that is very much the problem.

            “Violence is OK when good guys use it against bad guys” means that everybody – who doesn’t see themselves as the good guys? – will conveniently discover that those they don’t like are the bad guys.

            Not all “bad guys” are on the same level, Fascist and/or Nazis are pretty high up on the totem pole. It is possible to condemn Trump without likening him to the ultimate evil, and to the extent that we do, we don’t get to complain that people take us seriously.

            Disclaimer: If it isn’t clear, I am against violence at rallies from any source (and violence in general, provided it can be avoided at reasonable costs).

          • dndnrsn says:

            Claiming your opponents are fascists or Nazis is very common, and it’s not just a left-wing thing either: I don’t know about today, but mainstream right wing forums and the like used to see “Hitlary” thrown around a lot to refer to HRC, there’s the “Liberal Fascism” idea, the term “feminazi”, etc.

            It’s usually done to suggest your opponent has an authoritarian streak. On the left, it’s frequently used to refer to the right wing of those who can be called conservatives – which is completely ignorant of what fascism and national socialism actually were (neither was conservative in any meaningful sense of the term).

            Now that Trump, a right-wing populist, has arrived, and actually is approaching fascism a bit (and, of course, some of those who like him go further than that) the comparisons are really common.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Claiming your opponents are fascists or Nazis is very common, and it’s not just a left-wing thing either: I don’t know about today, but mainstream right wing forums and the like used to see “Hitlary” thrown around a lot to refer to HRC, there’s the “Liberal Fascism” idea, the term “feminazi”, etc.

            It’s usually done to suggest your opponent has an authoritarian streak. On the left, it’s frequently used to refer to the right wing of those who can be called conservatives – which is completely ignorant of what fascism and national socialism actually were (neither was conservative in any meaningful sense of the term).

            The problem is not that this comments are coming from the sort of people who would say “Obummer” or “Dubya” unironically, it’s that they’re coming from news sources that are read by a whole lot of people.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Wait, wasn’t calling him “Dubya” a pretty normal thing? I’m pretty sure “The Shrub” was the snarky left-wing nickname.

            The articles from respectable, mainstream left-wing sources worrying about fascism come to America, without any evident historical knowledge of what fascism actually was or how it arose, are one thing. I honestly do think that Trump is about halfway to fascism, and someone further towards it is likely to arise later on – and it won’t necessarily be predictable who.

            The articles by leftists having fantasies of being KPD street brawlers or Spartacists back in the day – of course, if they’d been back there to fight the SA, Hitler never would have gotten into power; what’s the Freikorps when compared to associate professors from Oberlin? – are another. While the former are, at worst, concern trolling, the latter are equal parts delusional and malevolent. Of course, they don’t know their history either – it wasn’t a lack of left-wing violence that allowed the Nazis to gain power, it was the sort of animosity of the far left towards the mainstream left we are starting to see in articles condemning “liberals” that allowed the Nazis to gain power with a minority of the vote.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:

            Is this in particular really about tone policing?

            I wasn’t referencing the whole tree, just this:
            I’ve noticed that certain sections of the left (increasingly mainstream, it seems, although that might just me noticing it more) seem to think that expecting people to act calmly and rationally is somehow oppressive

            My assumption here is that this is referencing things like the two BLM protesters at the Bernie event who kept yelling something along the lines of “We are not polite” or “We are not reasonable”.

            [misunderstands] fascism and national socialism actually were (neither was conservative in any meaningful sense of the term).

            Edit:
            I don’t think this is really correct, because it requires favoring some definitions of “conservative” over others.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Wait, wasn’t calling him “Dubya” a pretty normal thing? I’m pretty sure “The Shrub” was the snarky left-wing nickname.

            I’ll be honest and say I don’t know, what does “The Shrub” mean, anyway?

            The point of disagreement I see here is the role that each of these guys (the “fascism doomsayers” and the “violence apologists”) have on the actual perpetration of violence. Here I once again put my ignorance in evidence, but it’s thankfully something we should be able to check. What kind of people were responsible for the violence at Trump rallies? What motivations did they state?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’ll be honest and say I don’t know, what does “The Shrub” mean, anyway?

            Diminution of Bush.

          • Peter says:

            A shrub is basically a bush; possibly with connotations of being small and straggly and in general not very good, definitely not a whole tree. Also we’ve heard “Bush” so much to refer to presidents that we tend to forget the word can also mean a plant, “shrub” I think brings the sub-tree plant thing back to mind. (EDIT: Bah. Ninja’d.)

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            My assumption here is that this is referencing things like the two BLM protesters at the Bernie event who kept yelling something along the lines of “We are not polite” or “We are not reasonable”.

            Could be, but my understanding was that the tree started with regard to defences of violence against Trump rallies. If it’s about that, then it is about tone policing.

            Edit:
            I don’t think this is really correct, because it requires favoring some definitions of “conservative” over others.

            In the political climate of, say, late Weimar Germany, the NSDAP was not a conservative party. They wanted radical change, favoured the middle (especially lower middle) classes over the upper classes, favoured peasants over big landowners, and interfered in markets in a way that looked more left wing than right wing.

            Their party platform wouldn’t look particularly “conservative” in the context of America today, either.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            Belief in the superiority of my plausibly genetic cohort (i.e.original meaning of tribe) is about as old as the world. One might think of it as the oldest conservative position.

            Providing in a paternalistic fashion for the welfare of my tribe, also conservative.

            Conquest of additional territory to increase the resources of my tribe and eliminate the military capability of other tribes, also conservative.

            The idea that the greatest calling of the individual is to serve the tribe, also conservative.

            Purity of battle and a bunch of other ideas, etc. all reasonable to classify as conservative.

          • dndnrsn says:

            By those lights, though, the USSR comes out looking kinda conservative. Proves too much.

            Fascism and national socialism are right wing, but not conservative.

            Trump is a right-wing populist, the Republican elites he’s usurped are conservatives, or what passes for them.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            Well, again, I think “conservative” is a term that has multiple meanings and that confuses the conversation. I’m not trying to prove anything more than that when people talk about the Nazis being conservative they probably are thinking of different facets or definitions of conservative than you are.

            The words “conservative” and “liberal” can be considered antonyms, but the words “conservative” and “radical” can ALSO be antonyms. Still the phrase “radical conservative” makes sense (and is in use).

            I’m taking, roughly, the “taboo the term” position, although I am simply proposing charity and awareness more than taboo-ing.

          • Snodgrass says:

            By those lights, though, the USSR comes out looking kinda conservative. Proves too much.

            Russia has been conservative forever; that a socialist republic established in Russia looks quite conservative, particularly if you look at it in the context of a war for national survival, isn’t all that unexpected.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub: OK. “Conservative” and “liberal” often get used as synonyms for “right” and “left” – I could probably find any number of right-wingers calling Stalin a “liberal” if I looked. And the alt-right types and so on still use “liberal” to refer to people who call themselves leftists and sneer at those they call liberals.

            I don’t know if charity is the issue so much as the fact that political terminology is really confused, especially in the US. I can see why people might say Trump is a conservative, and why people who aren’t acquainted with Weimar politics might call the Nazis conservatives.

            If we were to look at the breakdown of white political support in the US, you’ve got what I’d call the liberal wing of the Democrats (Hillary) and the leftist wing of the Democrats (Bernie), and then you’ve got what I’d call the conservative wing of the Republicans (I don’t know, Rubio? Maybe Cruz, but he was kind of a last-ditch anti-Trump effort. Jeb was supposed to be this guy, but he got smooshed) and the reactionary wing (Trump). Obviously, the situation was more polarized in Weimar Germany, and the Overton window was way wider – Bernie ain’t the KPD, and Trump isn’t Hitler. There is, however, an analogous dynamic in that the reactionary right is gaining on the conservative right, who aren’t sure to fight back or try and coopt the reactionaries.

            If you were to take a white US voter of today, use some kind of mind-ray to put them in the Overton window of Weimar Germany, and huck them in a time machine set to 1930, a Hillary voter would probably go SPD (or maybe Zentrum?), a Bernie voter would likely go KPD, one of the National-Review reading Dump-Trump types would probably vote DVP, and a Trump voter would likely vote either for the NSDAP or DNVP. Obviously, the Overton window ray is key here (and thinking about it, Trump is closer to Hugenberg than Hitler).

            @Snodgrass: Are you an adherent of the explanation of the USSR’s behaviour that saw it as Russian imperialism more than anything inherent to communism? It’s not an implausible hypothesis. But to say “the USSR was pretty conservative for a communist country” is different than “the USSR is conservative” – once you’re saying the USSR is conservative, what isn’t?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            Sure, that’s all plausible sounding, although you seem to know a great deal more about the details of 1930s German political parties than I do.

            But, you say “and then you’ve got what I’d call the conservative wing of the Republicans (I don’t know, Rubio?” and here is where I would again challenge the idea that we are functioning on some lodestar of conservative thought.

            Is it conservative to propose massive tax cuts without proposing a means to deal with the drop in revenue that will inevitably result? Is it conservative to enact those tax cuts? Is depending on dynamic-scoring methods, with little theoretical and basically only negative empirical data to support them, conservative?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            But, you say “and then you’ve got what I’d call the conservative wing of the Republicans (I don’t know, Rubio?” and here is where I would again challenge the idea that we are functioning on some lodestar of conservative thought.

            Is it conservative to propose massive tax cuts without proposing a means to deal with the drop in revenue that will inevitably result? Is it conservative to enact those tax cuts? Is depending on dynamic-scoring methods, with little theoretical and basically only negative empirical data to support them, conservative?

            This is a good point. I think a big part of the problem is the US’ electoral system, which leads to some odd bedfellows, and of course there’s the perennial human problem that we want nice things without paying for them.

            The weird combination of laissez faire capitalism and crony capitalism one sees in the Republican (and, to be honest, the Democratic) party – what, strictly, is that?

            I suppose it’s a variant of the prescriptivist/descriptivist issue.

            However, I do think it is safe to say that by any reasonable standard of conservative as an ideological position – instead of shorthand for “right wing” – the NSDAP was not a conservative party.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ HeelBearCub:
            Prior to this election, I would have characterized the Republican party as having three major wings. The Establishment/Corporate wing, the classical social/economic conservatives, and the right wing Populists.

            Corporate wing seems to have pretty much imploded and now looks like they might back Hillary. They broke early for Jeb and got trounced so hard it isn’t even funny. What we’re seeing now is a fight between the classical conservatives, and the Populists, that the populists are currently winning

            You asked “Is it conservative to propose massive tax cuts without proposing a means to deal with the drop in revenue that will inevitably result? Is it conservative to enact those tax cuts?” and my response would be no, but that’s what the whole Ryan / Murray budget was about.

            The classical conservative finds themselves an ugly spot. Do you side the populists who are less “conservative” but are generally seen as reliable allies. Or do you side with the corporate interests who are more conservative bat also liable to throw you under the bus at the first opportunity.

            I think a lot of people (in both parties) seriously underestimated just how dissatisfied the classically conservative voting base was.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hlynkacg:
            I don’t think classical conservative and social conservative are the same thing, but you appear to be lumping them together as if they are.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Is it conservative to propose massive tax cuts without proposing a means to deal with the drop in revenue that will inevitably result?

            Well, you go with the conservatives you have, of course. The choice seems to be between people who will cut taxes without cutting spending and people who will increase spending without increasing taxes. Neither is what I would prefer, but at least the former group gets it half right.

          • Nornagest says:

            Is it conservative to propose massive tax cuts without proposing a means to deal with the drop in revenue that will inevitably result? Is it conservative to enact those tax cuts?

            This is the essence of the “starve the beast” strategy from the Bush era. The theory behind it was that passing entitlement cuts was politically untenable, but running up the deficit was not, so deliberate deficit spending would be employed in order to force a greater sense of urgency at some later date.

            We could reasonably disagree on whether it’s conservative in some abstract sense (and indeed I’d say it’s at the very least reckless), but it is a deliberate policy undertaken by non-fringe actors in real conservative parties.

            In practice it didn’t work that well, since the continued funding (deficit or otherwise) for services only solidified a perception of entitlement among voters, and when Judgment Day rolled around, the envisioned changes in political will hadn’t materialized.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            But what about now?

            Can you go through two presidential primaries with candidates competing to announce ever bigger tax cuts (with some hand waving at dynamic scoring) and say “This is conservative in the sensible and prudent and not radical sense.”

            And my whole point was that this is a conservative position for some definition of conservative, but not by the definition that @dndnrsn was trying to say was the “correct” one.

          • Nornagest says:

            Certainly it’s harder to say so now than it was in 2000. But on the other hand, this hasn’t been a year for sensible and prudent choices; and I don’t think Trump or Cruz ever really billed themselves as such, nor do I think their core supporters seem themselves that way.

            Personally I’d think that if I’m going to force a crisis, I’d rather do it on an issue where the historical record isn’t against me, but I didn’t vote for either of those guys.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            What about Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and almost every other primary contender?

          • Nornagest says:

            Did we even get a coherent economic plan out of those guys? Most of them didn’t last very long, and I wasn’t following the race very closely at that point.

            Promising tax cuts in itself doesn’t establish fiscal irresponsibility; we’d need to look at it in the context of what else they’re promising. And if they weren’t promising anything coherent, it’s probably better viewed just as a conservative applause light.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            Well, you could have said GW Bush’s plan was applause lights, but then he went ahead and did it.

            Jeb’s plan according to Forbes would add somewhere between 1.6 and 3.6 trillion to the debt over 10 years, assuming it was phased in to hide the total cost like GW’s was.

            And Rubio appears to have promised the impossible according to Bloomberg, lowering revenues 414 billion per year, raising military spending, not touching current or near future retirees but still (somehow) balancing the budget.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub: I don’t think I defined “true conservatism”. I think it’s one of those things where it’s easier to say something isn’t it, than to actually define what it is.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            OK.

            I didn’t use the phrase “true conservatism”, did I?

            But, you do seem to be favoring one particular definition and trying to say that people who don’t adhere to that one “aren’t” conservative, and that just seems to muddy the waters to me.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            In the 1990s we had Perot getting 20-30% of the vote on a platform of fiscal hawkishness, and it served as a motivator, and/or as a shield for those people who wanted to fiscal governance but normally get torn apart by the majority of voters who want 1) low taxes 2) balanced budgets 3) high services. (Those majorities are not the exact same, but by necessity must include some overlap of crazy.) As soon as that threat went away, so did the discipline.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            My remarks were in relation to the position of the NSDAP in the politics of Weimar Germany – they didn’t call themselves conservatives, they weren’t numbered among the conservatives, the way they governed wasn’t conservative, they didn’t like conservatives, and the conservatives didn’t like them.

            I will admit to having a bit of a fondness for the prescriptive use of language, even if I am completely inconsistent about that; but I still understand that “conservative” means something different in the US context, just as “liberal” does.

            Still, it rankles with me when I see fascism or national socialism talked about as though they were just conservatism plus jackboots. It doesn’t describe the 1920s and 1930s, and it isn’t helpful now that right-wing populism is making a comeback.

            EDIT: I can’t even remember what this was about, originally, but History Is Important, You Guys.

          • In my part of the world, at least, the traditional explanation was always that lowering taxes will make the economy go voom and therefore increase the total tax revenue in the long term. So sure, say the politicians, there might be a temporary period of increased borrowing, but eventually our plans will surely result in a balanced budget.

            (Nowadays our politicians tend to be rather more careful than they used to about taking that approach, e.g., basing it on actual projections rather than just wishful thinking. But YMMV.)

          • Protagoras says:

            The Social Democrats voted against the enabling act. They were the only party to do so (the Communists would have, but had been banned). The conservative parties all voted for it. The NSDAP seems to have had an easier time making friends on the right than on the left.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Of course they did, they were aggressively anti-socialist and anti-communist. Not conservative doesn’t mean not right. And conservative support for the NSDAP before they fully took power was based on fearing the left more than the right – they thought they could use Hitler and discard him.

        • keranih says:

          The criticism of P2, I think, roughly, is that 1) they are claiming that if someone is angry about a thing, you can’t have a conversation about that thing, 2) they are implicitly claiming it’s immoral to be angry about being treated as a suspect merely because of being black, and 3) they are implicitly claiming that the object claims about racial profiling are now invalidated.

          I think there is a great deal of room to criticize P2, but I think the ones you’ve listed are insufficent to invalidate P2’s statement.

          Firstly, when I have heard “Stop tone policing me!” (STPM!) deployed against various P2’s, “watch your tone” is generally not said, and STPM! is used against all varieties of “calm down”.

          Secondly, I think that the three arguments you’ve used are assuming things which are not necessarily true about P2.

          Specific issues with the STPM! arguements you’ve given:

          if someone is angry about a thing, you can’t have a conversation about that thing

          Well, it depends, but generally, no, you can not “have a conversation.” You can have a rant. You can have a shouting match. You can have a mob chanting “burn baby burn!” But no, if someone is wound up, cursing and stomping and throwing things, “conversation” ain’t happening. Nor, for that matter, is rational consideration and logical weighing of pros and cons of response.

          I think it’s perfectly ok to be angry about things. I don’t think it’s a good idea to make decisions and take action while royally pissed. And that includes what words to use when addressing the issue.

          It is not required of any person that they submit to the emotional outbursts of another person. Tactfully withdrawing – or giving the upset person the opportunity to withdraw – until a later time is appropriate and just, as it allows the upset person to engage in conversation and persuasion with all of their mental forces at hand.

          it’s immoral to be angry The “implicit” assumption here does a lot of work, and not to the benefit of the angry people. My experience is that very few question the moral right of anyone to express their emotions at other people. What is questioned, however, are implicit assumptions in that anger – most particularly, that the opinions and feelings of the angry person have the weight of fact. That I feel P2 doesn’t care about equality is an opinion, and may or may not match what P2 actually thinks or does. Also, just because P1 has a particular opinion or feeling doesn’t mean that P2 is at all obligated to share that opinion.

          claiming that the object claims [snip] are now invalidated.

          Eh. Most often, what I’ve seen is an explicit assertion that P1 has no object claims at that moment, just emotional response, and that once P1 goes away for a bit and calms down, the situation can be more closely examined and the actual facts established, along with alternate interpretations of matters of opinion, and that by continuing to operate in an emotionally charged state, P1 is deliberately choosing to operate separate from facts.

          There are bad ways to interact with someone who is extremely upset about something. And I think part of the reason that STPM! is used is because upset people want to be heard and supported, and telling people to calm down is hard to do well. But STPM! is used even against people who say “I can see that this has really impacted you, and you are really wound up about it right now. How about we do [relaxing thing] XYZ and come back and talk about this thing later?”

          Using emotion to settle disagreements doesn’t serve a rationalist end, I don’t think. STPM! is an emotional response to an (often ham-fisted) attempt to reduce the emotional component of a disagreement.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @kerinah:
            “STPM! is an emotional response to an (often ham-fisted) attempt to reduce the emotional component of a disagreement.”

            I’m neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the bulk of your post, but I think this conclusion essentially elides the basic formulation of what “Tone Policing” means and essentially reinforces the basic point of the “Tone Policing” criticism. And I’m only concentrating on this because much of your post seems to miss the importance in the word “canonical” in what I said originally.

            Let’s assume that someone has been done a grave injustice. I understand that I am to some extent assuming the conclusion here, but please allow it. Anger is a natural, acceptable and expected reaction to injustice.

            Given that someone has been done an injustice, requiring that they calm down before you are even willing to hear their complaint is counter productive and plausibly can be said to assume the opposite conclusion (that no injustice has been done). Black people (for example) were certainly done grave injustices in this country, and were absolutely told to “calm down”.

            This of course doesn’t mean that the accusation isn’t deployed in a tactically advantageous way. I’m not saying it isn’t. But I don’t think you should misrepresent the basic idea as only or even mainly an “emotional response to an (often ham-fisted) attempt to reduce the emotional component of a disagreement.”

          • Emily says:

            Does someone having been done a grave injustice mean I am obligated to, for instance, listen to that person yell at me about it? As natural as anger is in response to injustice, so is getting away from people who are angry at you/in your general direction/around you.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Emily:
            To a certain extent, yes.

            If the state is doing this injustice, we all have a certain complicity and a certain moral obligation. Let’s take the Japanese in WWII. Had someone been angry about being sent to an internment camp, denying the validity of that anger has an immoral component to it, however well intentioned.

            Even if the mechanism of the injustice is simply the norms of the society, and not official sanction, we all have a certain responsibility to the society, in the same way that we have certain rights within that society.

            This is different than saying that because someone is angry, they must be correct. It merely allows for the idea that someone’s anger, and their expression thereof, can’t be assumed to be wrong, incorrect or an imposition.

          • Emily says:

            Can you be more concrete about where you think the lines of that moral obligation are located? If the former internee comes up to you in the grocery store and wants to yell at you, what is your obligation? What about during your math class? What if you, too, have been done a grave injustice? Does that mean you don’t have to listen to them yell? What if you both wish to yell?

            What I’m trying to get at here is that there is an abstraction – not saying other peoples’ anger is illegitimate – that I agree with. But then there is the reality of how that might play out, of which I am less sure of.

          • gbdub says:

            Of course, “you are angry, and I accept your right to be angry” does not necessarily imply “your anger makes you correct” – and that’s the more typical failure mode of “Stop Tone Policing Me”.

            You have a right to be emotional about an argument that affects you personally, but your emotions should not by themselves be considered evidence in favor of your position.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @emily:
            Sure, those are valid points. I like to think of moral principles as being in tension with one another. The closer you move to one, the farther you get from others. You need multiple principles to give you some stable foundation of moral theory.

            I don’t particular have answers to your questions, other than to say I think they point at other violations of morality, meaning you have to find a place of balance.

            For instance, one internee randomly yelling at (white) people in a grocery store is different than 1000 (former) internees protesting in Washington, D.C. or even on Main St.

            @gbdub:
            Yes, I completely agree that “I am angry therefore I am right” is not a valid argument. All sorts of people employ this argument all the time (2010 Tea-party town-hall protests, to take an example for the other side of the ledger). All I can say is that there is a balance that has to be struck in being able to attempt to listen through the anger, call it principle of charity.

            That doesn’t mean you can’t listen to the argument and then find it wanting.

            And, again, there is a balance to be struck. Simply yelling at each other to loudly assert your right to yell at each other accomplishes nothing.

          • keranih says:

            @ HB –

            Given that someone has been done an injustice, requiring that they calm down before you are even willing to hear their complaint is counter productive and plausibly can be said to assume the opposite conclusion (that no injustice has been done). Black people (for example) were certainly done grave injustices in this country, and were absolutely told to “calm down”.

            I think you commit a grave error in insisting that claims of injustice must be assumed to be evidence of injustice, and I think this colors your perception of just how the P1 to P2 conversation goes in practice. However, I will (attempt to) set that foundation disagreement aside, and deal with the para above.

            A person is angry, emotionally distraught, speaking/shouting loudly, not giving space for others to speak, and is using profanity to attack the source of their ire. That is P1.

            P2 is someone else. They may be a friend or other confidant, they may be a political or social ally, they may be an authority figure and/or government representative. Or they may be the person who has committed the injustice.

            If it is the last, there is going to be a fight. P1 should not expect a conversation.

            If it is the first (a friend) then P1 can and should be very clear that their anger is directed at a third party, and not the friend. I have in the past and will in the future refuse to be a sounding board for friends who attempt to blame me for the actions of others. (I tolerate that from sub-adults, but we’re not talking about children here.) In this case, it is not the fact of the injustice that needs to be acknowledged, but the emotional turmoil of P1. The facts don’t matter, up to and including the actual harm done. P2 only needs to let P1 get through the emotional storm.

            If it is an ally that P1 is attempting to enrage and draw to their side, then the same care to not attack the ally is needed, and again, the facts of the matter are of less import. Again, it’s not clear that the facts matter, only that a fellow tribal member is hurting and what hurt them must be attacked.

            But if P1 is attempting to effect a change in the environment – by appealing to authority, or to gain support of a majority of neighbors, then presenting the situation in a rational, factual, accurate matter is essential. How can the authority or the neighbors tell what is to be done, if they do not understand what happened? And if P1 does not treat P2 with basic polite behavior, why should P1 expect P2 to support their suit?

            Yes, if P2 is “the enemy” who did the injustice, then a fighting attitude is called for – if one wants to get justice in the street. If one wants to get justice in the courtroom, though, one would be advised to make sure that fighting words and anger were not directed at the judge, the jury, or ones own lawyer.

            A major issue with those who claim oppression via tone policing is that they mistake when and where they are – this is not the 1950’s. Nearly always, they are not actually addressing a Bull Connor. They are choosing bombastic attitudes when calmer voices would yield better results.(*)

            There is the version of “tone policing” which is not a demand to modify ones words and volume, but is instead an order to shut up and accept the injustice given. But this is 2016. There is a black man in the White House. Assuming that “stop yelling at me” means “shut up and don’t talk” is a gross error and shows extreme lack of charity.

            And – this goes back to my first point – the assumption that a specific injustice has occurred on the basis that someone is angry can not be supported on any rational grounds. I stand by my position that “STPM!” is an attempt to justify the continued use of emotion as a debate point as though it were a fact in support of one side or the other. As such, imo it is well worth considering the possibility that the side using “STPM!” is doing so because they lack other support for their position.

            (*) Yes, there are people who claim they are using anger because speaking politely hasn’t worked. I myself have never met a person who used thisline who could show evidence of having asked anything of anyone politely. Most of them – including college freshmen – claim upwards of 300 years of continued polite asking “without result”. Pointing at either their birth certificates, the POTUS, or MLK generally fails to get the message across.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HeelBearCub
            @emily: Sure, those are valid points. I like to think of moral principles as being in tension with one another. The closer you move to one, the farther you get from others. You need multiple principles to give you some stable foundation of moral theory.

            Yes. I see it as a billiard board (with odd rules). The balls are all connected with elastic, and the walls are out of bounds; move a ball too far from the center and it will tug at the opposite ball, distorting the net.

            Lewis spells this out in The Abolition of Man, and a couple of LW essays were along the same line.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @kerinah:

            I think you commit a grave error in insisting that claims of injustice must be assumed to be evidence of injustice,

            I have done no such thing and have, in fact, consistently rejected this line of thinking.

            The rest of your analysis is, I think, correct enough, but seems to apply much more to the interpersonal. Anger directed at the seat of power has frequently been one of the only vehicles available by which to effect change in policy.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          The debate there is about “tone policing”.

          Actually I was thinking more about the debate over whether it’s right to disagree with or question somebody who is (or claims to be) angry, scared or otherwise in the throes of some strong emotion. The specific conversation I had in mind when I wrote that comment went roughly like:

          “We totally need to disrupt this abortion debate to stop it taking place! People are feeling threatened by its happening!”
          “What? How on earth is it ‘threatening’ to know that people are discussing a controversial topic somewhere in your general vicinity? Your reasoning makes no sense.”
          “Oh, I’m sorry if my reasons don’t meet some man’s definition of what counts as logical!”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            So, roughly the concepts of safe spaces and triggering?

            Certainly those concepts got abused badly in the last 6 months (or more), and received a fair amount of coverage, which then led to a lot of heated (and probably not enlightened) conversation. There is going to be some combination of a) you notice it more because it’s being discussed, b) it happens more because it is being discussed, and c) people use that language descriptively when in the past they would have made the same point using different language.

          • Lumifer says:

            It’s basically “My feelings are an overwhelming argument” (that something should be done or not done).

      • The Nybbler says:

        More than that; they also seem to think that their anger (real or feigned) gives them moral suasion, that it actually makes them correct and unchallengeable. The tantrum being thrown in the US House of Representatives in the guise of a “sit-in” is the latest manifestation. This is a feature they share with the religious right (thus the term “righteous anger”), which makes me wonder if the current left got it mostly from a preacher named King.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I was interpreting it as Kobra trying to play the game of callout culture and being soundly defeated.

  24. Will the New Hampshire news item be mentioned in Unsong?

  25. meyerkev248 says:

    So I think that a big part of the problem with Silicon Valley is that it feels wrong.

    It’s hard to put a finger on any one thing*, but assuming that the trend-lines continue, it’s hard to justify in a way that it wasn’t in 2011 (or for that matter, 2013, when I had 30% of my present commute and 40% of my present rent. There’s a reason I’m leaving in 2017). And if the trend-lines don’t continue, well, that’s the definition of a bubble bursting.

    So who knows? Maybe it’ll continue indefinitely, maybe Jerry’s laws just fixed the housing problems, but… I dunno. It just doesn’t feel right.

    *Well…. housing. Sale Prices are about double those justified by rents, and it’s hard to see Silicon Valley growing in scale so long as they’re adding 60K jobs and 6K houses, and I just don’t see SDE 1’s at a startup making $150K just so they can afford rent, when they can be in Atlanta making $50K and owning houses (and inadvertently tripling the runway). But that’s a 20-years thing.

    • Psmith says:

      Yes. I have no insider data, but it strikes me as unlikely that an economy of everyone selling ad space to everyone else will be sustainable.

      • meyerkev248 says:

        It’s not even that, it’s stuff like:
        * Snapchat has no revenue
        * So they’ll sell the userbase to people who have successfully monetized user-bases before. Fairly standard mid-to-late stage acquisition for a few hundred million [1].
        * Except that they’re valued as several billion, so no one can afford them. (Except Mark Zuckerberg[2])
        * Which means they’re too big and are now a dead company walking.

        [1]: And you can think that this is crazy, but those companies do exist. And yes, this is a fairly standard goal.
        [2]: A depressing amount of this cycle is Mark having money to burn and a willingness to burn it. If that ever goes away…

        • SD000 says:

          Snapchat actually has over $100 million in revenue per public news sources.

          • meyerkev248 says:

            Fair enough, but their valuation is $16-20 Billion, which either suggests that someone thinks that number is going WAY up, or that long-term real interest rates and time preference are basically 0.

          • Anon256 says:

            @meyerkev248, Long-term real interest rates are indeed basically 0. Tech companies have at least a chance of major revenue growth, while the rest of the economy is more or less a stagnant wasteland.

        • SD000 says:

          Fair enough, but their valuation is $16-20 Billion, which either suggests that someone thinks that number is going WAY up.

          Which isn’t all that crazy. Facebook received a $15 bn valuation in late 2007 from Microsoft. Can’t find revenue from that time but in 2010 it’s revenue was about $400 mm; given the rate of growth it was seeing at the time, the Company’s revenue was probably less than what Snapchat is making now. Facebook easily has grown into its valuation.

          Also, note that for many of these guys, the headline valuation number is somewhat meaningless and meant to stroke egos. The termsheets have all kinds of protections built in (see: participating preferred).

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I got two new SSC ads this month and the boom will last forever!

    • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

      Silicon valley only feels unsustainable because:

      A. An artificial housing bubble caused by bad local building regs.
      B. Its nigh impossible to have an intuitive feel for tech growth (imagine factories turning out more and more cars, and its far easier to see the growth than imagining 3 guys making an app that lets people share the cars)
      C. A lot of the tech isn’t used by people who discuss markets, the average executive or market commentator isn’t using these new cheap options (they have money), although my CFO father in law does use AirB&B.
      D. A lot of the actual profitability is quite recent, Facebook wasn’t profitable until quite recently and for a long time it was speculative, whereas new tech businesses Uber, AirB&B, ect. are very profitable very early.

      • Snodgrass says:

        Uber is not globally profitable, and the optimistic estimate is that it makes twenty cents per ride in the US (so about a hundred million dollars a year) against a marketing spend already over a billion in China.

  26. JackbeThimble says:

    I’m surprised that quiz didn’t include the MS drug Fingolimod.

  27. Elimelech says:

    Of course, every election cycle is about twirling towards FREEDOM!

    I only got 24 out of 30, but I’m pretty weak on Unfinished Tales.

    I have a theory that a bunch (that’s a technical term) of devout Christians will march towards “Guns, God, and George III” And prominent religious essayist George Wiegel (exactly how I found my way to “First Things” via an arcane series of links is still up for speculation) posted today his standards for a better politics. Some of which caused me to jut out my chin and nod in appreciation, and some of which made me worry about how the hoi polloi of the RCC will continue moving towards a fortress culture of disaffection.

    I think we need some disarmament treaties drawn up for these so-called “culture wars.”

    • Agronomous says:

      the hoi polloi

      “Hoi” means “the” in Greek.*

      I have thus signaled my superior class. It feels good—like pointing out that the singular of “criteria” is “criterion”. And I’m not British: that period’s there because I’m a geek.

      (* It’s the definite article, but it gets declined with the noun it modifies, so it has a bunch of cases and two or three numbers (I forget if the dual number is distinct from the plural).)

      • Elimelech says:

        You got me. The shame is too great…

        “IT WAS TYPO!”

      • The original Mr. X says:

        (I forget if the dual number is distinct from the plural)

        I think the dual is τώ.

        (Note also how I signal my class by using actual Greek letters instead of transliterating, ’cause I’m just that educated.)

  28. Jill says:

    Trigger Warning: Left of Center comments may appear below.

    Regarding Greece being neoliberal, here is an interview with Andrew Lilico, a British economist at the consulting firm Europe Economics, where he clearly states that Britain, through the European Economic Community, has “converted”– in reality, forced– Greece into a neoliberal pattern of running its economy.

    http://www.vox.com/2016/6/21/11974600/brexit-eu-euro-disaster

    “Along the way Britain converted our European partners to a regulatory and economic philosophy that was aligned with ours. The EU embeds a very British, pro-market-oriented economic philosophy based on privatization, market liberalization, free trade, opposition to state aid, and opposition to protectionism. “

    • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

      Your face is a trigger warning

      • Hlynkacg says:

        Not cool dude.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Two wrongs don’t make a right.

        • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

          No but three lefts make a right!!!
          (Mostly because no one can associate with three lefties hear three trigger warnings without wanting to become a social darwinist)

          I’m sorry. couldn’t resist.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            Warning for Luke that this is the sort of thing that leads to banning in the future

      • Sigivald says:

        Ala this?

        I mean, what if his face literally is a trigger warning?

        That would be cause for sympathy.

      • Agronomous says:

        (Trigger warning: this comment mentions Jill.)

        So since D. got banned, the rest of us figure it’s cool and wanna do it too?

        Also: Jill.

        • Nornagest says:

          D. would be appalled at being a youth role model, I think.

          I’m tempted to imitate her on those grounds alone, but I’m not quite young enough for it. Plus, y’know, not my style.

          (Also, I like this abbreviation business. Makes me feel like a character perpetrating correspondence in an Edwardian novel.)

    • Tracy W says:

      That the EU has a pro-market economic philosophy doesn’t mean that Greece does. Or did. That’s the thing about federal systems of government.

      (I heard a cynic once say that the British-EU relationship was so difficult because the continent’s made up of a bunch of countries that love passing laws, while Britain is in the habit of enforcing them.)

  29. Lumifer says:

    Looking at the obesity study press release, it’s hard to come to conclusions before seeing the actual paper, but I wonder whether the authors accounted for a basic bias: the split between obese patients who underwent surgery and who didn’t was very likely to have been not random. I would bet that one of the reasons why some obese patients found themselves in the non-surgery group was that they were either noticeably sick or had a high risk factor score. Basically, they were not operated on because the operation was too risky for them.

    And if so, it’s entirely unsurprising that the more-fragile-to-start-with group which did not undergo surgery had noticeably higher mortality during the next five years.

    • Emily says:

      As the press release discusses, they made some attempts to control for the non-randomness of who gets the surgery by including “age and previous comorbidity and other factors (including sex, coronary heart disease, valvular disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, stroke and atrial fibrillation)” in some of their models. Of course those variables may be insufficient for getting at sickness, or they may not have done a good job of conditioning on them. But they clearly were aware of the objection you are bringing up and describe how they tried to deal with it.

  30. ADufferentAnonymous says:

    The Donkey Kong link is double-edged. It describes two attempts at figuring out the microprocessor. One worked by simulating neurological experiments such as “lesioning” individual transistors and observing the resulting “behavior”. The other involved taking a photograph of the chip and trying to build a working model from there. If you haven’t read the link yet, you should decide now which one is the better analogy to the Hansonian vision.

    Results: the photographic project worked perfectly, producing an exact simulation. The neuroscience experiment one got nowhere.

    • The Nybbler says:

      It’s not surprising the photographic project worked; that’s how the chip was made in the first place, and furthermore reverse-engineering a chip that way has been done before. It’s not clear that it’s a reasonable analogy for something made of goo rather than silicon.

    • vV_Vv says:

      The neuroscience one builds on the photographic one.

      Note that the photographic project didn’t just use photographs, it also uses lots of prior knowledge about transistors and the architecture of the 6502 microprocessor, which is to a large extent public domain.

  31. SUT says:

    How crazy is it that anyone without a background check can purchase a trebuchet off craigslist? Is there *any*reason a private citizen needs access to tools designed for siege warfare? Oh I’m sorry your penis is so small but buying 20 foot trebuchet isn’t going to help your bedroom performance. Or will it?

  32. Ryan says:

    That obesity study illuminates why everyone hates evidence-based medicine. In terms of evidence and only evidence, trying to change people’s diets doesn’t treat obesity. Exercise routines do not treat obesity. Meditation, medication, warlock evocations, the evidence is clear, they don’t treat obesity.

    But surgical intervention, that can work. I doubt I’m alone in thinking everyone will remain desperate to continue “treating” obesity with diet, exercise, pills only in certain circumstances and limited time frames.

    So what exactly is the hangup? I want to say it’s a “moral” hangup, but perhaps that’s jumping past a framing step and there is a better explanation.

    • fibo says:

      Well, for one the odds of dying during surgery or as a result of surgery are not exactly zero. Just a quick glance at the statistics suggests that the surgery alone will kill 1 in 1000 patients within a month and that’s a significant risk. Now, if the study on the benefits is correct then its a risk worth taking (especially if that’s already factored in to the 5 in 1000 decrease in mortality) but it does put a thumb on the scale, especially when it comes to risk perception. I imagine there’s also a few problems of it shifting the cause of death around, from ‘natural causes’ to doctors, though that’s perhaps being a little cynical when it comes to healthcare.

    • DensityDuck says:

      “[T]rying to change people’s diets doesn’t treat obesity. Exercise routines do not treat obesity. Meditation, medication, warlock evocations, the evidence is clear, they don’t treat obesity.

      But surgical intervention, that can work.”

      Ah-heh. Surgical intervention along with diet change–as in, “for the entire rest of your life you drink milkshakes, and small ones too”.

      Bariatric surgery isn’t some permanent fix. It requires extensive changes in lifestyle to maintain. Really, it’s not the surgery itself that causes weight loss–the surgery causes you to feel the physical sensations of fullness after a smaller portion of food, and (for some people) those physical sensations trigger the satiation response. If you eat and eat and keep on eating, you’ll bust the stomach-staples back open. Oh, and you have to exercise a lot, too; it’s pretty well proven that as caloric intake drops, the body will defend fat, unless there’s also a rise in caloric demand.

      A co-worker had this surgery, and it took a full year of him conforming to a very specific regimen of diet and exercise before the doctors (and the insurance companies) actually did it. If he wasn’t going to be able to do the things that would make him lose weight, then there wasn’t much point in putting him through the surgery.

    • Tsnom Eroc says:

      Oh, plenty of pills work really well for obesity, and if used as part of a month-two month long crash course diet once every year or so, will keep off significant weight gain.

      It was a common pill marketed to women in the 50’s for weight loss, beloved by college students cranking out worthless 50 page reports, and given to make little boys sit still for 8 hours straight.

      Adderall! Say it again! Have a prescription and you’ll NEVER go hungry again if you like it or not! The best appetite suppressant in existence.

      All you have to do to get it in this day and age for that purpose easily are one of 4 different things. 1. Know some shady illegal immigrant who has to make a living somehow. 2. Be a rich person doctor shopping. 3. Be an MIT/Caltech student and the doc will be “in the know” 4. Keep solid copies of when you were 8 and diagnosed with ADHD like all young boys have been.

      On a serious note, its a fucking shame some people recommend surgery or liposuction when that pill could be used pretty well instead. The prescribing of drugs like this never made a good deal of sense, either how to prescribe it or how *not* to prescribe it. Why is it terrible to prescribe it for weightloss when we just give it to children to make them sit still(improving their grades and academic achievement with them is controversial, having them act out less on it isn’t) just boggles the mind.

      As long as you somewhat watch your diet, and eat low calorie filling foods as filler, gaining lots of weight takes a *long* time and can be lost pretty quickly in 2 months.

      • The Nybbler says:

        If you don’t know shady illegal immigrants, aren’t rich, and weren’t diagnosed with ADHD, but do know other shady people, I’m fairly sure any amphetamine, including crystal meth, works for weight loss.

        • Tsnom Eroc says:

          I really wonder how dangerous those types of drugs actually are.

          MDMA, LSD,the active ingredients of marijuana(the plant itself is trickier), were arbitrarily moved from what should have been schedule 3 drugs to the schedule 1 classification due to conservative social pressure. (And I argue that some drugs are actually legalized and sold due to the flip-side of the same conservative Christian/militaristic pressure, but I digress)

          Meth is a hated drug even amongst druggies, so I doubt that’s a good GOTO one.

      • gwern says:

        I thought you were suggesting 4-DNP right up until you said ’50s.

  33. Jury says:

    The mushroom wiki article is now a top link on Hacker News. Did it happen because of you, Scott, or maybe Lenin is indeed a radiowave as well?

  34. Urstoff says:

    As a resident of Oklahoma, I am rolling my eyes at that UK factoid. Oklahoma is 75% the size of the UK, but gets an average of 52 tornadoes per year, more than the UK’s 34. Scaled for size, that means Oklahoma has more than twice as many tornadoes per year as the UK. So I guess maybe technically the UK does have one of the highest rates in the world, but when first is twice as large as second, being second doesn’t count for much.

    (We Oklahomans take our weather, tornadoes in particular, very seriously)

    • Ken Arromdee says:

      It doesn’t even say that. It says that if England was taken separately from the UK it would have one of the highest rates in the world.

      First, England isn’t the UK. But more importantly, the implication is that it is normally comparing the UK to other countries, and that taking England separately from the UK would be an exception to this. So it isn’t comparing England to any US states at all.

      They didn’t say “if England was taken separately and compared to parts of other countries taken separately, England would have one of the highest rates in the world”.

      • Urstoff says:

        Don’t try to confuse me with your words and numbers. All I know is I live in tornado country, and you Brits can’t take that from me!

        • Peter says:

          Wikipedia thinks that the Netherlands takes the prize for most tornados per unit area. But apparently the UK, as a whole, comes in at number two.

          Anyway, if you’re allowed to consider Oklahoma as a separate entity, then I can single out Berkshire – incidentally my old home county, and it looks like my old home town is at the north tip of the maximum tornado area. Not that I knew until today.

          Don’t worry, you can still have the prize for most tornados big enough to be worth caring about per unit area.

      • Jon M says:

        So if Scotland left the United Kingdom would Britain have the highest per area tornadoes of any country?

  35. dndnrsn says:

    Bobby Watson, who played Hitler in “The Devil With Hitler”, played Hitler in 9 different feature films. This has got to be some kind of record.

    • Agronomous says:

      Yeah, but the guy who played him in Downfall has thus played him in approximately 9,000 Downfall parodies. YouTube for the win!

      • dndnrsn says:

        If you count parodies as films, and newsreels and propaganda as films, it is very possible that Bruno Ganz appeared more as Hitler in his lifetime than Hitler did as himself while alive.

  36. Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

    The same article was posted eariler in this same thread.

  37. Anonymaus says:

    Would be interesting how the preference to be reborn with different sex varies with age and income / social status.
    Hypothesis I: Individuals see their own experience as relatively typical for their gender, but see the experience of the average person they interact with (which will be closer to the population average) as typical for the other gender. Low status individuals will therefore have higher preference for being the other gender.
    Hypothesis II: Both the highest and the lowest status individuals (CEOs, senators vs. prisoners and homeless) are disproportionately male, so both men and women will prefer to remain/become male when they are high status themselves and to be female when they are low status.
    (Before we can answer these questions we should probably find a better method than online surveys among 200 people.)

    • Jaskologist says:

      I think pure curiosity and “Try all the things!”ism would be sufficient explanation.

      • Anonymaus says:

        Well yeah if the change is temporary, apparently a larger part of the people ask would do it in that case. I understood that 30% would prefer spending a lifetime as the other gender?

  38. Ken Arromdee says:

    On The Control Group is Out Of Control, as I pointed out, it is likely that psi researchers aren’t just exactly the same as regular researchers except they’re studying a nonexistent phenomenon. If psi researchers get as many successes as regular researchers, it may just be that psi researchers are particularly sloppy and gullible so there’s a larger “placebo effect” on psi researchers than on regular researchers. If the effect is extreme enough, it could be that regular researchers don’t have any significant placebo effect at all.

    Scott said it’s still good as a metaphor, but it doesn’t work when used literally.

    • vV_Vv says:

      Indeed, it takes a very special kind of researcher to do study in a widely discredited field such as psi. It can be well the case that psi researchers are exceptionally bad.

      But then psi researchers defend themselves claiming that they publish more negative results than psychology researchers, use larger sample sizes, etc. (I don’t know if it’s actually true), so it may not be the case that they are exceptionally bad.

      • Nicholas says:

        The only information I have is that I once had to read a book by a fairly well know researcher in the field, who had apparently never heard of regression to the mean before, and did not believe in it.

    • MusicalFireFighting says:

      The whole point of The Control Group is Out Of Control is that psi researchers aren’t “particularly sloppy”.

      • Jiro says:

        I was making a criticism of The Control Group is Out Of Control. Of course my criticism is going to say something that contradicts its point. That’s how criticisms go.

  39. TheAltar says:

    England obviously has tornadoes because tornadoes are caused by having lots of white people around. (Or was it that pale people like to settle in areas with tornadoes? Hmmmm.) (/s)

    https://weather.com/storms/tornado/news/tornadoes-around-world-20140329

    • Peter says:

      What’s more, there seems to be a connection to the old British Empire. The hot spot in England seems to be Berkshire – the Royal County. Hmmm. Could Her Majesty be descended from a tornado god, just like the Japanese imperial family are descended from a sun goddess?

      • AlphaGamma says:

        She is officially considered to be descended from Woden via the Saxon kings of England.

        • Peter says:

          Alas not a tornado god. Still, this doesn’t stop her from having multiple divine ancestors – the old Roman kings were considered to have both Mars and Venus in their ancestry, after all. EDIT: or maybe not. It looks like the early kings were an elected monarchy and so it was only Romulus and Remus who could claim divine ancestry by multiple routes. Except that such a claim was probably not made as the bit about Venus only seems to have emerged in republican times. Complicated, this divine monarch business, isn’t it?

          • erenold says:

            My understanding is that the Romans believed in the stories about the divinity of the seven early kings, in all their bizarre glory sometimes including divine phalluses extending out of the fire, about as much as modern Americans believe that George Washington literally cut down a physical cherry tree, etc – I mean, no doubt there are those that do, but by and large all undestand this to be a myth meant to increase social cohesion.

            I’m going OTOH, but I believe the dominant story is Mars meets girl, girl meets Mars, where girl = virgin priestess. Girl, whose father is the king of a nearby region, becomes pregnant and the evil Claudius/Scar-like (grand)uncle, Numitor, orders the twin babies thrown into the river, where a wolf fishes them out and suckles them.

            Still OTOH – its Cicero that mentions the story once and then awkwardly ducks an evaluation of its truth value, preferring to discuss the objective factors surrounding the foundation of Rome such as its strategic location; Livy the rationalistic one that explicitly wonders if the ‘virgin priestess gives birth to Mars’ son’ story is cover for an all-too-human affair, given that lupa means both ‘wolf’ and slang for ‘prostitute’.

          • Peter says:

            I’ve got it. Evidently the descent from Woden is not quite as the description suggests, it is actually descent from Thunar (aka Thor) – seeing as he’s Woden’s son, it works out. I mean, tornados are totally a type of storm, and so come under his remit.

            Furthermore, seeing as most of the power traditional in the monarchy has now been handed to the democracy, we should expect to see some sign of this in British elections. These are traditionally held on Thursdays. This is not a coincidence as nothing is ever a coincidence.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            @Peter: Unfortunately it’s via Baeldaeg (aka Baldr).

          • The Monster in the Darkness says:

            Obligatory Thor reference.

            (An oldie-but-goodie!)

  40. moonshadow says:

    Re. Lenin: haven’t you heard?

  41. SanguineVizier says:

    Scott, you are conflating assault rifle and assault weapon.

    Per the U.S. Army definition, one of the essential features of an assault rifle is selective-fire. The AK-47, for example, is an assault rifle, as it can switch between semi-automatic (one round fired per each trigger pull) and full automatic (rounds continue to be fired as long as the trigger is held down). In the United States, ownership of an assault rifle is, I believe, covered under the 1934 National Firearms Act provisions on machine gun ownership. I would wager that legally owned assault rifles are involved in approximately zero homicides in any given year in the U.S.

    The category “assault weapon” was politically invented to refer to certain semi-automatic rifles that fell under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (now expired). It was created, I believe, with the goal of being a confusing term that would increase support for the ban by conflating normal civilian semi-automatic rifles with selective-fire rifles. This is the category that the gun control crowd screech about after every mass shooting, even though, as your link says, all rifles account for a small percentage of homicides.

    • Macbi says:

      I think the term “semi-automatic” confuses people too, because they assume it means something more than it actually does.

      Pretty much every gun you ever see on TV is a semi-automatic, so people think of these as “normal” without knowing that these are semi-automatic. Then when they hear the phrase “semi-automatic” they assume that this must be halfway between “normal” and “automatic”, which in practice means that they assume it means more-or-less the same as “automatic”.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Wouldn’t all assault weapons necessarily be rifles?

      • John Schilling says:

        Depends on whose definition you use. The State of California’s official list name-checks 32 rifles, 8 pistols, and 4 shotguns as “assault weapons” that are forbidden to the good people of California, along with a list of generic criteria that can apply to any sort of firearm.

        Crudely speaking, if it’s black and scary-looking, someone somewhere has called it an “assault weapon”, and there’s no generally-accepted definition you can use to show that they are wrong.

      • gbdub says:

        I mean, technically most handguns are rifles too – very few smoothbores there. But “rifle” without modifier usually means a long arm.

        Still I think most things that would be subject to the standard “assault weapons” bans for reasons other than simple capacity are at least carbines, which in the US are regulated as rifles (and would probably be included in the “rifle” deaths). Usually the determining factor is barrel length.

    • Peter says:

      The category “assault weapon” was politically invented to refer to certain semi-automatic rifles that fell under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (now expired).

      Not just that: certain other semi-automatic non-rifle firearms as well – there are separate lists of criteria for rifles, handguns and shotguns. See wikipedia.

      As I said upthread, the linked-to article says “Rifles would include “assault weapons”. Thus, more people are killed by knives than by assault weapons.” but there’s no “thus” about it; “assault weapons” also includes some handguns and shotguns, and more people were killed by handguns than with knives, so the data is compatible with more people being killed with assault weapons (as per the Federal Assault Weapons Ban definition) than with knives.

      Regulating handguns more strictly than rifles makes a lot of sense – after all, it’s what we do in the UK and we have a low, low rate of firearms deaths.

      • SanguineVizier says:

        Thank you, I stand corrected. I did not realize that the Federal Assault Weapons Ban related to handguns and shotguns, except insofar as it banned magazines with capacity greater than 10 rounds.

      • Sigivald says:

        Note that the UK had a low, low rate of firearms deaths before (effectively) banning handguns.

        The US is not a violent place because it Doesn’t Have The Right Laws.

        It’s a violent place because it has violent people.

        Care to take your border reavers back?

        (I kid.)

        • Peter says:

          This is not entirely clear. Yes, we had low rates of firearms deaths before the policy, so that point’s made. OTOH – googling for violent crime comparisons reveals a morass of “UK in more violent crime per capita than USA shock!” and “busting the stupid ‘UK more violent than the USA’ myth”. The last thing I heard suggested that the USA didn’t have more crime than the USA, the crime was just more lethal… although a) a journalist was involved and b) I recall the USA’s non-gun homicide rate being higher than the UK’s entire homicide rate, so you may have a point.

          We’ve got plenty of border reavers to be getting on with, they’re mainly in Northern Ireland, the place has a bit of a reputation.

        • Psmith says:

          It’s also worth noting that Britain counts homicides differently than the US. I believe nonlethal assaults are also counted differently, though the error is supposed to be in the opposite direction. And of course the most significant ethnic minority driving American rates of violent crime didn’t come from the British Isles.

          they’re mainly in Northern Ireland

          Just so. American descendants of Border Reivers are also sometimes called Scotch-Irish because of their origins on the Scottish border and subsequent settlement in the Ulster Plantation.

    • keranih says:

      I think the term “semi-automatic” confuses people too, because they assume it means something more than it actually does.

      People also seem to be making a significant distinction between revolvers (old technology, made by familiar American names (Colt, S&W, etc) used by mild TV sheriffs, many police departments, and people who learned sidearms three quarters of a century ago, comfortable, non-threatening) and non-revolver semis (new technology, made by firms with funny furiner names (Sig Sauger, Luger, etc) used by nasty criminals and other types, has complicated moving parts.)

      Explaining that a double action revolver has the same “pull trigger once for each bullet” effect as a semi-automatic has helped me shift some people’s priors on this issue.

      • The Nybbler says:

        “New technology” is kind of relative here. Revolvers date back to the early-to-mid 19th century, semi-automatic pistols to the very end of the 19th century.

        • keranih says:

          Right, but with the exception of the M1911 – accepted in 1911, and remember just how small the US military was before WWII – the major powers were using revolvers up to WWII.

          I’m not saying it’s correct for a lot of the public to think that semiautomatics are super new, just that it is correct that they do think this.

          • gbdub says:

            Germany adopted the Luger in 1908.

            But for most people, a “semiautomatic” is a Glock “plastic pistol”, which is obviously more modern (just like all “assault rifles” are either “AR-15s” or “AK-47s”).

          • John Schilling says:

            I suspect that to most people who aren’t gun people, “semiautomatic” now means “machine gun”.

            Remember, in popular culture and to a large extent in gun culture, there is no such thing as a “semiautomatic pistol”. The cited M1911 fires the .45 ACP cartridge; what does the ‘A’ stand for again? And in shotguns, consider the Browning Auto-5.

            There are semiautomatic rifles, but almost all of those look to the non-expert just like any other ordinary hunting rifle or like military assault rifles, which are colloquially “machine guns” and which are often hysterically described in the media with terms that suggest machine-gun-esque indiscriminate lethality.

            The distinction between “automatic” and “semiautomatic” has been used, inconsistently, as a term of art within the firearms community. The rest of the world is I think quite thoroughly confused and doesn’t care that they are confused.

      • Agronomous says:

        Revolvers? You mean those scary stealth guns that retain the shell casings after firing, making it impossible for the good guys to track down the murderers?

  42. Jon M says:

    Actually the Donkey Kong study is strong evidence in favour of the “age of em”. The whole study is conducted on a transistor level simulation of the “Donkey Kong brain” that is accurate enough to play the games on it. The whole study is literally run on an em. However, the point of the paper is that merely being able to simulate the DK brain gives us little insight into how it actually works.

    Hanson’s argument for Ems rather than strong AI is the same. We might be able to make a mechanical simulation of the brain without having any kind of system level understand of why it works the way it does.

    • Enkidum says:

      You might be right that it’s strong evidence in favour of simulation being easier than understanding, but it’s not evidence at all in favour of simulation (of brains) being easy, or even possible.

      • Jon M says:

        Sure, I was pushing back against Scott’s argument that

        Brain simulation proponents hope that without really understanding the brain we can make simple models of each part and how they connect to other parts and produce things that replicate that activity. But we can test these techniques right now on a much simpler and more accessible object – an old video game microprocessor – and they’re not good enough to do anything useful.

        Now obviously DK is not a human brain, but on this small scale the researchers succeed essentially perfectly on the emulation task and fail almost entirely on the understanding one. When I say strong evidence in favour of age of em, I mean strong evidence in favour of simulated over handconstructed AI. Both might be impossible, but our evidence so far is that we succeed better at the former than the latter.

        • Aegeus says:

          I think understanding is important even if you want to blindly simulate the brain, for one reason: Simplification. An emulated microprocessor can require an order of magnitude more processing power than the original microprocessor. I have a very beefy laptop, about as capable as an Xbox 360, and it couldn’t emulate anything better than an N64. It could run Arkham City natively, but Majora’s Mask made it struggle.

          Also, emulators generally have to cut corners on their emulations to go fast enough. You can emulate every individual transistor in Donkey Kong pretty easily, but you can’t do the same for an N64 – you have to rely on the fact that the N64 has comprehensible functions (drawing polygons, shading them, etc.) which can be replaced by native graphics libraries. You can’t do the same for a brain unless you know something about how the brain works.

          • Simplifying in that way might not be possible, though. Or only possible in part. For something like a nematode, I suspect that it would be possible in principle to produce an accurate-enough model of the functioning of each individual neuron that doesn’t attempt to simulate the underlying chemistry in detail, but it might not be possible even in principle to simplify the way in which the interactions between the neurons produce the overall behaviour.

    • I’m not sure that “why it works” in that sense is necessarily even a meaningful question – it seems to me that it embeds an assumption that the machine in question makes use of layers of abstraction, if that’s the right expression, which is typical of machines designed by an intelligence, but not necessarily for machines designed by evolutionary processes.

      It’s kind of like asking “why” the tenth digit of Pi is 5. You can show that it is, but if there’s no way of simplifying the calculation, or some sort of pattern, there’s nothing that sounds like a “reason”. Whereas the tenth digit of 1/3 is 3 “because” every digit of 1/3 is 3.

      (Perhaps the concept I’m groping for here is related to whether the behaviour of a system can be usefully predicted by a model simpler than itself or not?)

    • Octapode says:

      Given what’s stated upthread about the importance of chemical factors in brains, the fact that we can simulate a microprocessor that only deals in two variables (voltage and current) is in no way proof that we could do the same to a brain, once the number of important factors goes up by, at a guess, an order of magnitude and the network itself can also change over time. If even a simple chip requires slinging a gig and a half a second of data around, I can absolutely see any reasonably complex mind needing a full supercomputer setup to run it if it has to keep track of the all the gooey bits as well as the wiring.

      I’d be interested to see how much power the simulation consumed compared to running the chip itself. That’s my main issue with the principle of ems, this sort of complex simulation is going to be massively energy-intense, and that energy has to come from somewhere and be removed as heat. If every em needs its own datacentre, we’ll just have one running each major corporation at best, not some cyberspace Eden of infinite Elon Musks.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      How about this — it’s strong evidence in favor of part of the “age of em.” Yes, we could emulate the “brain”; no, we wouldn’t be able to edit it to create the terrifying custom-programmed human worker drones, because we still wouldn’t understand how the emulation works.

      • Enkidum says:

        “Yes, we could emulate the “brain”;”

        It’s not even evidence for that. It’s evidence (of a sort) for the idea that simulation/emulation may be easier that understanding. It’s not actually great evidence even for that limited claim, because that would assume that the difficulty of emulation and understanding scale in the same way with the complexity of the system being emulated/understood, which is at best very hard to demonstrate.

        Nevertheless, let’s take it as given that simulation/emulation is easier, that still doesn’t show that it’s possible. Smaller infinities, and all that.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Fair point. I should rephrase what I said — it’s a real-world example of how we can emulate a thing without being able to understand how it works. Generalizing from it, one could imagine a world where we have ems, even in vast numbers, but don’t have the ability to edit them in any but the most crude and destructive fashion at best.

          • Octapode says:

            I think you’re glossing over both a massive difference in scope between brains and a 6502 chip, and the level of fundamental understanding we have. The simulation produced only modelled a single parameter, the voltage present in each chip wire, whereas an equivalently functional model of a brain would have to do that for dozens of interconnected systems that we don’t even fully understand yet.

            What I don’t see is where Ems have an advantage over brains in jars. If we have the computational capacity to run a full-featured brain sim, we can run a virtual world for many more brains in jars, and said brains will be far more energy-efficient than an Em. If you can get orders of magnitude more jarred competant people for every Em of Elon Musk, that seems a far better trade-off.

            Of course, this is assuming Ems run at the same speed as people, but personally I don’t buy the idea that just because a simulation is a computer program means it will be running at processor speeds. There will be limits, and there’s not really much gain in parallelizing identical copies of a person, IMO.

            The other side of this is, if we take contemporary virtual worlds as a working model, brains in jars scale far better once you have the initial processing power for the central server. Each new brain just needs their end terminal plus whatever nutrient goo it eats, whereas a second Em means twice as much processing power. (This is assuming that the brain end terminal is lower-powered than an Em-capable system, which seems plausible to me). Granted once you run out of harvestable brains you get into a bit of a sticking point, but given we have 7 billion plus of the things, I think that point would be so far down the line as to be irrelevant.

          • Enkidum says:

            @ThirteenthLetter – agreed.

            @Octapode – I think you (and to a large extent my previous comment) are arguing past what ThirteenthLetter really is saying. It’s more that the Donkey Kong thing suggests (in some hand-wavey sense) that emulation is easier than understanding. Which is at least compatible with the Em idea, but has little to say about its likelihood.

    • Anonymous says:

      More than that, consider how the simulation itself was created:

      The Visual6502 team reverse-engineered the 6507 from physical integrated circuits [11] by chemically removing the epoxy layer and imaging the silicon die with a light microscope. Much like with current connectomics work [12, 13], a combination of algorithmic and human-based approaches were used to label regions, identify circuit structures, and ultimately produce a transistor-accurate netlist (a full connectome) for this processor consisting of 3510 enhancement-mode transistors. Several other support chips, including the Television Interface Adaptor (TIA) were also reverse-engineered and a cycle-accurate simulator was written that can simulate the voltage on every wire and the state of every transistor. The reconstruction has sufficient fidelity to run a variety of classic video games, which we will detail below. The simulation generates roughly 1.5GB/sec of state information, allowing a real big-data analysis of the processor.

      (from the paper)

      Sounds fairly similar to how those predicting brain emulation expect that to be done.

      So I’m left confused – It seems to me that this bolsters both Robin’s claim that it will be possible to simulate brains without first understanding in detail how they work on a high level, and his claim that such high-level understanding of brains will be sufficiently difficult that ems will not be edited to something vastly different shortly after the first ones are made. Yet Scott sees this as evidence for completely the opposite conclusion. What am I missing?

  43. Julie K says:

    What does “neoliberal” mean?

    • Nicholas says:

      Privatization. Neoliberalism is a particular kind of laissez-faire that is like what would happen if you embraced every part of Libertarianism except the part where you shrank the government.
      There is also a connotation of economic imperialism. This is because there was a period of time in which you could accomplish foreign policy goals by forcing a government to privatize and open to foreign trade an industry for which that was not a good idea, thus weakening the economy of the target country while also tying their markets to yours.

      • Julie K says:

        “Foreign trade is not good for this industry” is not the same as “foreign trade is not good for our country’s economy.”

      • Tracy W says:

        Can you please name some people whose writings you think exemplify the policies you describe as “neoliberalism” as you define it here?

    • Tracy W says:

      As far as I can tell, it means whatever the speaker happens to dislike.

      However, Scott Sumner is the sole person I know of who identifies as neoliberal and he defines neoliberal as roughly economic policies that get countries high in the Heritage foundation’s index of economic freedom (eg Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland). .Most people who favour those sorts of policies call themselves something like “free market economists” or “libertarian” (American) or “liberal” or “classical liberal” (non-Americans who read American economic books) or the like. Personally I’m somewhere in there too.

      Quite often people attack “neoliberalism” based on policies that are contradictory to free market thinking.

      • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

        Really the core insight of neoliberalism is that mass individual decision making is far more effective than centralized decision making, thus it only comes about in 60s once the failures of communism is apparant. It was thought by a lot of people, still is, that central planning/ highly detailed regulation could produce better and more rational results. Neoliberalism shows that in the absence of market failures (externalities, fraud, criminal behaviour) this is simply not the case.

        Watch “Free to Choose”-part 1, Freidman does a damn good job of laying out the basic ideas and addressing counter arguments throughout the series.

        Each episode has two parts 1. Friedman laying out the neoliberal argument and 2. Friedman addressing the counterarguments of anti-neoliberals who are their to argue with him.

        Its the only polemical video I’ve ever seen that gives equal time to those arguing against it, and really is a testament to the good faith of Friedman’s argument, and his belief in rational discourse.

        Give it a look! You might just be persuaded!
        Arnold Schwarzenegger was

        • Emily says:

          But if you are persuaded, you might find yourself alienated from your community/peer group. So. That’s a thing.

          • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

            Ya, but is a peer group that doesn’t tolerate different ideas a peer group worth having?

            My obvious bias is obvious, intellectual conservatives/libertarians being the group most likely to tolerate other ideas (having been an intellectual minority in education and work, and thus don’t expect an intellectual bubble)

          • Emily says:

            a) Opinions on that will vary widely enough that I think it’s at least a good idea to warn people of the possibility.
            b) Alienation won’t necessarily take the form of them not tolerating you. You might find yourself feeling less close to them, respecting them less, etc.

        • Nicholas says:

          Neoliberalism shows that in the absence of market failures (externalities, fraud, criminal behaviour) this is simply not the case.

          So you’re saying that Neoliberalism works, except for all the things that the critics of Neoliberalism hold up as the reason it doesn’t work.

          • Tracy W says:

            The debate is not whether markets fail. They do. The debate is over whether they fail less often than the alternatives.

          • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

            The simple fat is we’re all neoliberals now.

            In the 60s and on the radical left there were/are alot of people who would say a properly functioning market is still less effective than planning by educated central authorities. The great success of neoliberalism is that we no longer think in terms of “capitalism or not”, but now think “capitalism how”.

            The role of modern market advocates is now to show why alot of things people might say are market failures actually aren’t. I’ve seen people argue that “prices are too high” is a market failure, despite the fact that those prices are a direct result of actual scarcity.

          • onyomi says:

            I think you’re right that, roughly, “we’re all neoliberals now.” In fact, the US Blue Tribe and its European equivalents seem now to support a lot of what we’d broadly term “neoliberal economics,” seemingly for cultural reasons? Or because even Paul Krugman likes free trade?

            Take Brexit and Trump, for example: it’s the conservatives/Red Tribe arguing against, in effect TPP, free movement within the European Union, etc., both of which I guess Milton Friedman, if not Ron Paul, would be in favor of (though conceivably Friedman would be in favor of the free trade part, if not the political unity parts).

            With Blue Tribe supporting globalization and free trade and Red Tribe talking a good game (though often no more than that) about free markets, there really does seem to be a sense in which “we’re all neoliberals now.”

          • Lumifer says:

            @Luke the CIA Stooge

            The simple fa[c]t is we’re all neoliberals now.

            If only.

            The classic communism/socialism isn’t popular any more, true (the utter endogenous implosion of your standard-bearer can do that), but unfortunately there is a large variety of ways to screw the pooch.

            The currently popular way is crony capitalism via overregulation — “you didn’t build that”, “three felonies a day”, “too big to fail”, etc.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            All neoliberals now? Mmmmm, I don’t know, that seems too facile.

            For instance, there is a definitely an active debate about whether it would be better to expand the Medicare age limit or leave it’s eligibility as it is currently defined. There is another active debate about whether it is better to expand Medicaid or leave its income limits alone. And there is a third debate about whether socialized health services (VA, Medicare, Medicaid) should be remain as they are or be (further) privatized.

            It’s probably fair to describe the position that is against expanding Medicare/Medicaid and for privatizing VA services as neoliberal. Probably. Maybe.

    • H.E. Pennypacker says:

      The term makes most sense in historical context, having its roots in the Austria and Chicago schools where people like Friedrich Hayek (Austria) and Milton Friedman (Chicago) developed an alternative to the Keynesian post-war consensus that saw government regulation of the economy as good and necessary.

      Although the Austrian school came first it was the Chicago lot who had their policies put into practice. From the late 1970s/early 1980s, Reagan and Thatcher turned the tide away from regulation, towards increasing privatisation and financialisation. Although this lead to policy changes in the UK and US, the biggest changes were made in foreign lands – Chile under Pinochet and Russia in the 1990s being the most obvious examples, when teams from Chicago university were heavily involved in setting up the economic systems that produced disastorous results for these countries.

      In terms of how it differed from previous forms of economic liberalism is the extent of marketisation/financialisation. One example would be the idea of each individual, each worker, as a company of one who must invest in her human capital so she can effectively compete with other workers for the best jobs. The idea that carbon emissions could be a commodity that can be bought and sold.

      In this way, it doesn’t really break with the processes of earlier economics, just with the extent to which they are taken. The rise of capitalism needed the commodification of things like land, labour, and money to be made possible – capitalism needs these things to be organised by a market system rather than command from above or traditional custom. Neoliberalism, greatly extends the the things and processes which should be organised by market mechanisms.

      The point above about it being similar to libertarianism but without the shrinking of government is suggestive. The key difference as I see it is that most libertarians would have much more faith in man’s natural “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange”, whilst neoliberals (more realistically in my view) take the position that governments have a necessary role to play in the creation and maintainenance of markets through which to organise (economic) action. Market systems don’t arise spontaneously when you remove barriers to their formation, but must be encouraged through government policy.

      As some note above, the term is often used fairly imprecisely and their are lots of people who throw the term around without really thinking about what it means. Many writers do use it productively, but even here they may define it differently, so for people who have already dismissed it as a useless term, the difference in usage and their superficial understanding of the different ways the term is employed will tend to confirm their already held belief that the term is largely meaningless.

      • Tracy W says:

        What disastrous results in Chile? Chile’s now a democracy and an OECD members and the democratic transition was accomplished without bloodshed.

        Also note that these economists were also involved in transforming the Eastern European countries.

        The rise of capitalism needed the commodification of things like land, labour, and money to be made possible – capitalism needs these things to be organised by a market system

        I don’t follow this at all. Capitalism is a label given to something that already existed (first recorded use was in 1826). What evidence is that there was something rising which “needed” things to be organised by a market system? What evidence do you have that the causal link was: capitalism led to markets in labour and land, as opposed to markets in labour and land leading to something people decided to name capitalism? The latter strikes me as far more plausible.

        And how are you defining commodification here? You say money needed to be commodified for capitalism, this implies that it would be possible for money to not be commodified. I can’t think of a single definition of a commodity under which money could not be one (leaving aside situations like: “we define commodities as things that can be traded in standardised forms, like bales of wool or tons of coal with set chemical definitions, excluding money.)

        • Nicholas says:

          The disastrous result he’s referring to was the economic situation that lead to Pinochet taking power to begin with. Before that, Chile was already a democracy, briefly became a dictatorship in the seventies and eighties, and transitioned back to a democracy in the nineties.

          • Tracy W says:

            @Nicholas: nope, he can’t be. Pennypacker specifically referred to Chile under Pinochet, not Chile before Pinochet.

            Although defining neoliberalism as including Allende’s economic policies is not the weirdest definition of neoliberalism I’ve ever heard.

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          Chile’s economy under the period most associated with Chicago school did not do very well. As you can see from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/GDP-Chile-pinochet.png, Chile took it on the chin from the early-1980s recession in Latin America worse than most of Lat. Am., after which Pinochet booted the Chicago boys from the government and began implementing more traditional state-capitalist policies. Most of the economic growth has happened during the democratic era, however.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            Chile and the “Chicago Boys” is an pretty good example of the Copenhagen interpretation of ethics. Milton Friedman and his students were sure their ideas could help countries work better and they were willing to give advice to anyone who’d listen to them – they gave advice to China too!

            That they gave advice someplace doesn’t mean their advice was all followed, nor does the fact that some of it was (however briefly) followed make them responsible for all the performance of an economy that was doing pretty terribly already, including poor performance associated with periods of not following their advice.

            Nor does it make them responsible for any human rights violations at the time.

            …unless we think trying to help makes you responsible for the outcome no matter what. Which seems to be an extremely weird but popular premise.

        • H.E. Pennypacker says:

          What disastrous results in Chile? Chile’s now a democracy and an OECD members and the democratic transition was accomplished without bloodshed.

          You know, the fact that in 1982 the economy collapsed and the dictatorship were forced to renationalise many of the industries they’d privatised after the coup. The main period of growth came after they reined in the worst excesses of the Chicago boys. More importantly, it was disastorous because the percentage of Chileans living in poverty doubled between 1973 and 1990. Personally I think an economic policy is disastorous if it massively increases poverty, regardless of whether the rich get richer enough that GDP goes up. You seem to be a fan of neoliberalism so I’m guessing that you might see this in a different light.

          I don’t know why you bring up democracy. Chile was a democracy before the coup, the coup that was fomented and supported by the USA because they wanted to replace the elected socialist government with a more pro-market one. I really don’t see how bringing democracy into the picture can possibly aid any argument for neoliberalism in this context.

          I don’t follow this at all. Capitalism is a label given to something that already existed (first recorded use was in 1826). What evidence is that there was something rising which “needed” things to be organised by a market system? What evidence do you have that the causal link was: capitalism led to markets in labour and land, as opposed to markets in labour and land leading to something people decided to name capitalism? The latter strikes me as far more plausible.

          I thought it was obvious that, as capitalism is an abstraction, my meaning was along the lines of “the commodification of these things is necessary feature of any economic system that we would describe as capitalist” – ie. there are no capitalist systems where land or labour can’t be bought and sold on the market, for then the system wouldn’t be capitalism.

          Even interpreting what I wrote overly-literally “The rise of capitalism needed the commodification of things like land, labour, and money to be made possible” suggests that the commodification of these things were necessary preconditions for the rise of capitalism.

          It seems like you’re hinting at the question of whether these things started to be organised into markets spontaneously and this fact was then recognised, or these things were integrated into market systems intentionally, but I can’t be sure.

          As for money as a commodity you’re right, I meant just land and labour. I was thinking of the work of Karl Polanyi as I was writing that comment and he bangs on about land, labour, and money being “fictitious commodities”, so my brain saw “commodities” + “land” + “labour” and automatically added “money” as well. My mistake.

          • Tracy W says:

            Okay, here we run into the limitations of GDP as a measure. Chile under Allende was spending like crazy and running a big fiscal gap and massive inflation. Unwinding high inflation has always been economically painful, but Zimbabwe illustrates that allowing high inflation to continue is even more politically painful. In other words, you have to actually earn some money to be able to pay to reduce poverty in the long-run.

            I agree that the US was very illiberal in the 1970s – this was the time it was running price controls in its own country and regulating trucking and aviation and all sorts of industries. Funny how reductions in economic freedom go along with reductions in political freedom, isn’t it? One might almost think that people who start thinking their fellow citizens aren’t competent to manage their own economic lives also might be equally as skeptical about the ability of foreign citizens to manage their political lives? (Or, probably equally as as probable, the technocrats of the mid-20th century totally over-estimated their abilities and underestimated the complexity of the world and thus over-meddled in both the economic and political regimes.)

            I agree with you that Chile doesn’t say anything about neoliberalism, but then no one has any ideas what neoliberalism is. What I am pointing out is that a nasty brutal military dictatorship carried out economic freedom reforms and subsequently turned democratic, indicating that economic freedom and political freedom tend to go together.

          • Tracy W says:

            On the issue of the rise of capitalism, what you have said makes sense, my apologies for misreading you.

    • Urstoff says:

      Not much anymore. I used to think it was basically the set of broadly market-friendly policies that the IMF promoted in the 90’s. Now it just means whatever the author doesn’t like, whether it’s pro-free market or not.

    • Lumifer says:

      It’s a generic derogatory term indicating that the speaker is of the left-wing persuasion and doesn’t like the subject.

    • wysinwyg says:

      H. E. Pennypacker’s analysis is great, but I think besides the historical context you can use indexicals to figure out what it means: Reagan and Thatcher are the canonical examples and we can compare their policies to those of the heads of state who followed them to figure out where the “neoliberal” cluster lies in policy-space.

      Quite often people attack “neoliberalism” based on policies that are contradictory to free market thinking.

      This is only a problem if “neoliberalism” is supposed to be synonymous with “free market”. But if we look at the actual cluster in policy-space, we tend to see people who talk a good game about the “free market” while implementing a mix of both “free market” and statist policies in practice. The consistent “free market” policies are usually anti-labor whereas the statist policies are typically increased military spending, aggressive foreign policy, increased intelligence spending, curtailment of civil liberties, etc.

      Neoliberalism isn’t the same thing as libertarianism. Their favored policies might align on stuff like busting unions, privatizing public services like utilities and prisons, and preventing environmental considerations from impacting the profitability of private companies, but they consistently differ on civil liberties and foreign policy.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        But if we look at the actual cluster in policy-space, we tend to see people who talk a good game about the “free market” while implementing a mix of both “free market” and statist policies in practice.

        I’m not sure neo-liberal makes a whole lot of sense unless placed in the context of existing 70s era government policies whence it rose. Being for “increased privatization” means something different when the government owns all of the coal mines and power plants, as a crude example.

        • wysinwyg says:

          It makes sense in the same sense that the word “cancer” makes sense.

          You can make a definition that encompasses all instances you want to describe, but provides so little detail that it is useless.

          You can make a definition that provides useful detail, but excludes many instances of the phenomenon which we would like to include.

          Or you can forget definitions and use it indexically in a way we all understand the way we all understand what is meant when someone talks about “fighting cancer”.

          We can taboo the term. I really don’t mind! Let’s call them “Reaganist” policies. Go ahead and replace every instance of “neoliberal” in any of my comments with “Reaganist”. Makes no difference to me.

          I’d try to make a more compelling case, but it’s truly exhausting to make even timid, half-hearted, super-cautious left leaning claims here — look how hard I had to work to defend the claim “this editorial is shit” further upthread! I’d have to put one of Jill’s trigger warnings on a comment that gave my real opinion on neoliberalism.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’m not sure, but I think you took me for disagreeing with you when I was trying to agree with you.

            I was trying to amplify that “neo-liberal” wasn’t/isn’t actually just a synonym for “laissez-faire” capitalism. It was probably mostly directional in meaning (i.e. move more towards market based approaches and away from socialist guarantees of jobs and benefits), but it certainly didn’t mean “eliminate the state”.

            So, once you have altered or eliminated large chunks of the social welfare state, as Thatcher and Reagan (and Clinton, to be fair) actually did, then neo-liberal loses a lot of it’s meaning.

            Although, to be fair to what you are saying here, if you continue a directional policy impulse forever, neoliberal probably starts to get the kind of results that Grover Norquist wants.

      • Tracy W says:

        But if we look at the actual cluster in policy-space, we tend to see people who talk a good game about the “free market” while implementing a mix of both “free market” and statist policies in practice

        Economic freedom and human rights and political freedom are positively correlated. See for example chart 5 on this page.

        Or examples like Chile which implemented free market reforms and then went democratic.

        • Nicholas says:

          Right, but the point is that it’s possible to simultaneously support two positions: One that increases economic liberty (say the lifting of an onerous licensing process for security companies) and one that decreases non-economic liberty (secretly drafting government contracts with some of the newly formed security companies to murder foreign journalists). If you claimed to be a totalitarian or a libertarian, there’d be a conflict between your ideology and one of the two positions. Neoliberalism is the ideology for which neither policy is a contradiction.

          • Tracy W says:

            The normal definition of ideology is a system of beliefs and thinking. Therefore if neoliberalism is an ideology then there should be some underlying set of ideas and thinking behind the policies that get put in practice.

            The word “ideology” distinguishes the word for a movement that just labels whatever people do, regardless of how contradictory or hypocritical.

            If you want to define neoliberal as an ideology, then you need to find someone who defends both lifting onerous licensing processes and secretly murdering foreign journalists as linked ideas.

            Quite frankly I think there was no underlying ideology there. The US intelligence services engaged in various murderous schemes for most of the 20th century, under all sorts of Presidents, sometimes in violation of Congress. And economic theory doesn’t have much to say about how to deal with potential Communist insurgencies in other countries.

    • telotortium says:

      One interesting attempt I’ve seen to answer this question is The difficulty of ‘neoliberalism’ by Will Davies. He sees neoliberalism as a sociological phenomenon as much as an economic one, a paradigm where markets and competition serve as a means to evaluate answers to social and political questions as an alternative to traditional values and communism, both seen to have failed by the latter part of the 20th century. Thus, even if specific political and economic policies advocated by neoliberals have failed, as many consider to have happened since 2008, the underlying paradigm is much more likely to persist in the absence of another strong paradigm to replace it.

      • Tracy W says:

        Note to anyone taking part in this: please read the linked article by Will Davies, as well as telotorium’s summary, or more comment here will make no sense.

        Will Davies has basically identified neoliberalism as what economists would recognise as “public choice theory”! For example Will Davies talks a lot about neoliberalism as being about quantifying using market measures promises about things like future payment of pensions. Public choice theory says that voters have limited incentives to monitor government spending (diffuse costs/concentrated benefits) so economists have pushed reforms to make the costs of these promises much more vivid.

        Or health care – many people do want growing choice and control over their healthcare (eg the home birth movement), how do we reform public health care systems to do that while managing costs?

        This shows the value of listening to the advocates of an idea, not just its critics. Will Davies apparently has no idea that economists have long had a term for what he calls ” neoliberalism “. So Davies wastes a bunch of words in his article and he apparently has no idea about the empirical background that drove economic thinking about public choice theory. But he clearly has identified an underlying idea, which is about the best effort I have ever seen from someone who uses the term ” neoliberal”.

        • telotortium says:

          Interesting. I’m guessing Davies considers neoliberalism to have become the underlying philosophy of our “ruling classes” (or “Cathedral”) in the past few decades, rather than just one approach out of many to political and social matters, as might be suggested by the mention of “public choice theory”. He does mention public choice theory in passing:

          It is then only a matter of time before areas of meaningful, uncalculated social activity (community, family, education, political organisation and so on) become rationalised by economics in a seemingly modernising, progressive fashion. This was indeed the chief contribution of the Chicago School of economics and Virginia School of public choice from the 1950s onwards.

          Anyway, though I’ve heard of public choice theory and know some of the rudiments, it isn’t salient enough to me for the concept to jump out immediately upon reading that article. Do you have any books you’d recommend for an in-depth introduction?

  44. Johnjohn says:

    “30% of people would choose to be the other gender if reincarnated, no difference between men and women”

    Only 30%? How boring would you have to be to pass this up

    • More a matter of caution, I should think. The devil you know …

      • Chalid says:

        The surprising thing to me was, for temporary changes, that you got only 56% willing to do a week in the other gender, and only ~2/3 for a day or an hour.

        I’m guessing people who said they wouldn’t do it for such short lengths of time were mainly performing their gender and not seriously considering the experiment.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          No, not really. Just that not everyone wants to be Tiresias.

          I would have said no on that survey. I’m very comfortable in my own skin and am perfectly willing to just take women at their word for what the experience of being a woman is like. So switching, even temporarily, has nothing to offer.

          • Psmith says:

            Cosigned. We do exist, although there aren’t that many of us in SSC comments or on ratblr.

          • Adam says:

            I can’t see any possible upside. I grew up with three sisters as the only son. I’ve either had a girlfriend or been married pretty much my entire adult life. I feel like I know women pretty intimately. As far as I can tell, being one is terrible. Their bodies are constantly attacking themselves and making them miserable. Even aside from that, I wouldn’t want to become a shorter, smaller, weaker man either.

          • Urstoff says:

            Being reincarnated doesn’t mean having the same identity / feelings of personhood does it? There’s no reason you wouldn’t be just as comfortable in your own skin as the opposite gender.

            I think I would choose to be the other gender. The experiences of the two genders can be quite different, so why not try to capture all of that experience?

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’m comfortable in my own skin as well, but also I can’t imagine a day being anything but awkward. A day is probably the worst point; enough so the novelty wears off, not enough so you get a real feel about what it is like. An hour would just be a lark.

          • J Mann says:

            Not to be crude, but who wouldn’t want to switch for at least enough time to visit a sex toy store + about 2 hours?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @J Mann,

            Not to get all moralistic here, I’m kind of a degenerate myself, but rationalists seem weirdly preoccupied with having more intense orgasms.

            This is like the whole prostate obsession or “bi-hacking” taken to the next level. Of all the mysteries of life why devote your curiosity primarily to sexual gratification?

          • Lumifer says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            If you had a couple of hours and a brand new weird body, which particular mysteries of life would you prefer to explore?

          • J Mann says:

            @Dr_Dealgood:

            I don’t personally identify as rationalist, but I’m probably on the axis somewhere.

            I think it’s a pretty common reaction – I’m not super curious about how it would feel to have a different center of gravity, or whether or not I would get groped in an elevator, although I’m sure those would be interesting. OTOH, I am very curious about how the sex drive works for women, and another data point would be helpful.

          • Chalid says:

            Would those who wouldn’t make a temporary switch describe themselves as generally low on the “openness to experience” personality axis? Are you not into travel, unfamiliar foods, etc?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Lumifer,

            I can’t really think of any. I did say the switch had nothing to offer me, didn’t I?

            @Chalid,

            Love travel, like trying new foods. Never taken any Big Five tests so I can’t put a number on my openness to experience, but I get bored very easily.

          • Lumifer says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            Well, let’s do a thought experiment.

            Your favourite deity suddenly appears before you, declares “I’m feeling mischievous today” and whoosh! makes you a bona fide biological woman.

            The deity adds “Just so that you don’t get too upset, the spell will wear off in a couple of hours and you will revert to your old body. GLHF!” and disappears.

            What will you do?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            If I was fighting the hypothetical, call up my local priest and start taking the whole religion thing a lot more seriously. And I’d probably try to do as many tests on myself as I possibly could to figure out what exactly had happened.

            More in the spirit of the thought experiment, probably get used to moving around in my “new” body seeing as my bone structure and musculature would be different. Plus see if I had gotten any shorter, whether my scars / surgeries had carried over, that sort of thing. If I was feeling adventurous maybe test out that story about women’s pain tolerance being higher.

            Playing with yourself just doesn’t sound that interesting if you’re not already a transformation fetishist or autogynophile.

          • onyomi says:

            “Playing with yourself just doesn’t sound that interesting if you’re not already a transformation fetishist or autogynophile.”

            Really? Sex organs and the corresponding experience of sex are the biggest gross level differences between men and women. I expect eating, walking, listening to music as a woman would all be roughly similar; I would expect sex to be very different. The experiential difference between having a penis and having a vagina has got to be bigger than that between walking with narrow hips and walking with wide hips.

            I don’t have any particular fetish about transformation, but if I had one day to live in a female body I would certainly attempt some sort of sexual activity, either by myself, or, if I could find someone to trust on short notice, with a partner.

          • Johnjohn says:

            “Even aside from that, I wouldn’t want to become a shorter, smaller, weaker man either.”

            If I had the choice of becoming a shorter, smaller, weaker man for a day, I’d still take it?

            We’re talking about literal magic and you wouldn’t go for it?

          • J Mann says:

            @onyomi –

            I was discussing this with my wife, and in her opinion, giving birth and breast feeding are the biggest differences men and women are likely to have. I agree with that, but that’s a lot bigger commitment. And I think you could make an argument that just general life experience would be fascinating – what’s it like to ride on the subway or apply for a job, etc.

            (But my wife also agreed that if she had the opportunity to check out being male, she would check out sex out of curiosity, FWIW.)

        • Anonymous says:

          Openness to experience. Less than 50% of people take psychedelics and that’s arguably less radical.

          • Schmendrick says:

            I don’t take psychedelics but that’s primarily because they’re nearly all illegal and I’m incredibly scared of getting caught in the justice system.

            *edit* I suppose I should explicitly state that if psychedelics were legal then I would try them.

    • Desertopa says:

      The way I understand the question, saying you’d want to be reincarnated as a member of the other sex is less like saying “I’d like to experience the alternative,” more like saying “I wish I’d been born a member of the other sex instead.” Since under most conceptions of reincarnation, you don’t get to remember past incarnations, there’s nothing to say that your previous incarnation wasn’t the opposite sex to the one you are now, but you don’t process your current life as experiencing the alternative to that.

      If you’re not going to put together information from multiple lives, you’re better off just picking the circumstances for each individual life which you think will lead to the most preferred results.

      • Saint Fiasco says:

        But then wouldn’t more women prefer to be reincarnated as men than vice-versa? If you only get to remember one lifetime at a time then it’s a little better to be a man, right?

        • Richard says:

          This obviously explains why 51% of babies are male.

        • lvlln says:

          That’s certainly the core belief of some ideologies. I wonder what the results of a poll of people who follow those ideologies would reveal. I mean, we can’t get true revealed preferences, because reincarnation is not a real thing we can measure and test, but a survey that tried to emulate the scenario might get closer to their true beliefs than what they state.

          I’m not a sociologist though, so that’s just pure speculation on my part.

    • onyomi says:

      I rate myself as fairly high on the openness to experience scale, but because I am also a perfectionist frequently plagued by regret, I am torn between wanting to be born as a woman to experience the alternative and wanting to be born as a better (smarter, richer, fitter, more talented, etc.) man to experience a more optimal version of the life I have now.

      Though one might argue that that is a sort of closed-mindedness/failure of imagination: to prefer a theoretically better version of the identity you have now to an unknown.

      As for why the 30% number, I imagine it’s because most people of one gender can’t really imagine what it would be like to be the other gender and feel totally comfortable being that gender, given that most people are comfortable with the gender they have now.

  45. Qiaochu Yuan says:

    Re: math competitions, all of the high AMC scores at my high school were due to a combination of having some reasonably smart students around to take it + the efforts of a single teacher, who tirelessly got on our case about both taking the AMC and practicing for it. We also mostly all knew each other through math club, which she was in charge of.

    • Chalid says:

      Yeah, it seems obvious that there are strong school effects. I was at a very good public high school and I had no idea these competitions existed until one day our teacher sat us down and told us to take the test. Other schools have clubs or even whole classes devoted to training for them.

      • phil says:

        Yeah, I think math competitions are still sufficiently niche

        that its largely school effects

        ———-

        its be interesting to think about what sort of carrots take something away from being school effects

        seems like you can go 2 directions with it

        you could do the Eastern European Communist country route, where you make it a national pride thing, then put everyone through filters early, then select people who seem promising, and then go crazy on the training

        ie, we’re giving every 6 year old in the country an IQ test, then out to X scorers are living in advanced math school for the rest of their childhood (and our top gymnasts get to live in gymnastics school, etc)

        or you can create a big prize at the end, math contest winners get to be on Wheaties boxes, and get interviewed on late night TV, and maybe make millions of dollars!

        seems like math contest are slowly moving towards the latter, in certain circles it seems like there’s more and more consciousness that winning math contests is a good way to get into Harvard, and get well paid Google or Wall Street work

        so I suspect that school effects isn’t exactly constant (I imagine it changes as working for Google [or similar places] is held up as high status

        still, I imagine that knowledge of exactly what the rewards of doing math competitions are, isn’t very uniform

      • Tsnom Eroc says:

        >Yeah, it seems obvious that there are strong school effects

        Look at the USAMO perfect scorers for the best example of teaching to the test I have *ever* seen. Some absurd number of best scorers on the top American math tests *all* took some Art of Problem Solving course.

        Yeah, the winners are brilliant, but that definitely downgrades the view of the test in my eyes.

        IMO, the best solution to this is simply adding a harder version of the subject math SAT’s. Like the SAT math 3 test. It will never be done, since if a national test like that,and not some side-show event for “nerds”, shows a 5 to 1 ratio of top male to female performers it will be deemed sexist.

        • Tsnom Eroc says:

          To me, that tells me that China will soon have a perma-educational advantage over us. If there’s a spatial IQ test that adds a good selection effect to engineers, they will(or already have) implement it in a heartbeat, and we will endlessly debate the sexism of it.

    • gbdub says:

      It continues to be weird to me that there is a lot of overlap between people who complain about “teaching to the test” and people who hold up high scores truly artificial competitions / tests like AMC as examples of places that are clearly doing things right.

  46. Ruben says:

    Regarding that condom study: Since by now the US is really an outlier with regard to sex ed among developed countries, you might preface your news item by “US”. I have a hard time extrapolating this finding to countries where children learn how to use condoms in class (e.g. most developed countries).
    For my geographic area, it would be more interesting to see this sort of study for areas that made the (morning-after) pill easily accessible (e.g. without prescription/ without high-frequency doctor’s visits/ easily available in emergencies). Because that’s still something on which most developed countries differ.

    • SD000 says:

      . I have a hard time extrapolating this finding to countries where children learn how to use condoms in class (e.g. most developed countries).

      Ah, the classic “le US is so backward xD” reddit-tier meme. Just as an FYI, in the US in most districts children do as well. Hate to burst your superiority complex. Now go back to enjoying your 30% lower net purchasing power and lack of immigrant integration in your “developed country”.

      • Ruben says:

        Which part do you disagree with exactly? The part where the study found letting usage instructions accompany condoms made a difference?
        Or the part where most developed countries have sex eds in all schools, not some, while the US doesn’t have that? Is that wrong? Then I was misled by most information sources I can find online, e.g.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_education_in_the_United_States
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_education#Europe

        Regarding the rest: Chill?!

      • Outis says:

        To be fair, the US hasn’t even managed to integrate African-Americans yet. It’s pretty much the last country on earth that should be giving lectures on how (or whether) to run a multicultural state.

        • NN says:

          However, the US seems to have done a good job with every group other than African Americans,* to the point that even the most extreme racists now see nothing unusual about referring to “white Americans” as a single group. Also, only native slave descendants really fit into the pattern of “African Americans” being poorly integrated. Recent black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean do much better by all metrics, to the point that the son of one recent African immigrant even became President!

          * Okay, Native Americans aren’t exactly “well integrated” by most measures, but they only make up ~1% of the population.

      • Stefan Drinic says:

        4chan speak on this blog of all places? Is that really what it’s come to? The people arguing the proportion of leftists here is shrinking are getting more and more of a point every day.

        • Anonymous says:

          Where else did you think all the anons are coming from?

        • birdboy2000 says:

          There are plenty of leftists on 4chan – myself included. It’s not *all* /pol/ – and even /pol/, for all neo-nazis dominate the board, has a surprisingly high number of hard-left types.

          • Soumynona says:

            There must be a lot of Spirited Debates over there, surely conducted in a spirit of Camaraderie and Good Sportsmanship.

  47. anonymous poster says:

    30% of people would choose to be the other gender if reincarnated, no difference between men and women.

    Well duh. Everyone knows you go male on the first playthrough, then female on the 100 percent run.

    …Or is it the other way around?

    • CatCube says:

      My characters in MMORPGs (or really, any third-person game) are almost always female.

      If I’m going to stare at an ass for hours upon hours, it may as well be a female ass.

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        Also, in some games (most notably Mass Effect) the female voice actor is worlds better than the male voice actor.

        Mark Meers is a robot. Jennifer Hale manages to emote in her lines. I’d much rather listen to her performance for dozens of hours instead of Meers.

  48. Richard says:

    How about we just table the entire gun discussion for a while, it seems to lead nowhere.

    A much more interesting topic is why Americans are so violent in the first place, my money is on zinc deficiency from eating all that Wonder Bread(TM).

    Primary symptoms of zinc deficiency are irritability and depression. If this is significant on a population level before it becomes a problem on an individual level, it would explain the following;

    * Why US Americans and especially the poor are so violent and depressed. (Inner city diets are lower on zinc than affluent suburbs, but most of our dietary zinc comes from unprocessed grain, so all Americans get less than comparable Europeans.)
    * Why the middle east is such a hellhole. The ground there is very low in zinc and unleavened bread does not help.
    * Why the Scandinavian peoples went from raging viking hordes to the most peaceful nations in the world at the same time they changed to a diet richer in zinc.

    [Epistemic note: pretty much wild conjecture, but at least with the potential to kick off a more interesting discussion than the usual gun related one.]

    • Table doesn’t mean can or shelve.

      • Held in Escrow says:

        Depending on the nation it can! It’s an antonym in some places

      • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

        It pretty much means the opposite. Stuff you put on the table (like food) is stuff you want to deal with right now. Stuff you put on the shelf is stuff you want to deal with later.

        • LHN says:

          But tabling a motion means (in the US) to set it aside (short for “lay on the table” in Robert’s Rules of Order).

          As I understand it, it means the opposite in Commonwealth countries, to help with that “separated by a common language” thing.

          • Urstoff says:

            How many other furniture-related verbs mean “to set aside”? If there aren’t any more, can we start some new ones? Let’s futon that idea for awhile and concentrate on something easier.

          • nope says:

            I think you mean “couchcentrate”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’d like to dust-ruffle this to obscure the unsightly dust-bunnies of gun policy.

      • roystgnr says:

        https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Glossary_of_auto-antonyms

        Is it cool to throw out the idea that English is awful? An egregious language which deserves our sanction? Perhaps my point is too critical, and we should table this outstanding issue?

    • Lumifer says:

      Would you like to show some data about zinc deficiency to support your hypothesis?

      • Richard says:

        Sure:

        relevant bit of the wikipedia entry on zinc deficiency:

        moderate and more severe zinc deficiencies are associated with behavioral abnormalities, such as irritability, lethargy, and depression

        A random article

        If you read the article, you will find a low resolution version of this map which shows that places with angry people are low in zinc.

        My hypothesis that this is visible in crime statistics is as I said wild conjecture, but until there is a good explanation that fits the map better, I’m sticking with it 🙂

        edit:
        and this is the map for violent death rates, which fits the first map extremely well except for China. I’m not sure how much I trust Chinese statistics.

        • Lumifer says:

          this map which shows that places with angry people are low in zinc.

          Does it really? This map says that the Chinese are angry but the Russians are not. South-western France is an angry place. Denmark, too. But most of North Africa is not angry at all.

          In the US the Midwest , Florida, and California are especially angry.

          Sorry, sense make not.

          • Richard says:

            South western France is the land of the Basques and ETA, practically the fathers of modern terrorism, I’d say point in my favour.

            I don’t think you’ll find a lot of variation within the US because all the food basically comes from the mid-west, but you should find variations based on diet/socioeconomic status. I’m not updating on this.

            Denmark is a bit of an anomaly, your point.

            North Africa contains the most peaceful muslim countries in the world, and that is with a muslim diet strong in unleavened bread, my point.

            Not sure about Russia. They have a massive organised crime problem, but the populace seems to be more peaceful than most places I’ve been. Tentative point to me, but not a strong one, more research is needed.

            I don’t trust China and its statistics, so no point to either of us there.

            Also, I’ll bow out of this one. My point was that guns is a poor explanation for violence and zinc deficiency at least offers a better one while admittedly under-researched. There may be even better ones, but I’ve not come across any yet.

            While googling for this discussion, I also found it mentioned on the BBC show QI which was good for a laugh.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      * Why the Scandinavian peoples went from raging viking hordes to the most peaceful nations in the world at the same time they changed to a diet richer in zinc.

      When exactly did this happen?

      If I’d told a person from the seventeenth century that the Swedes are a peaceful people, they’d be in hysterics. Did their diet change later than that?

      • Richard says:

        Yes, the increased zinc is from leavened bread and the accepting of the potato, so gradually from the early 1700s to 1850 or thereabouts.

        • Lumifer says:

          So, first you say that zinc deficiency causes “irritability, lethargy, and depression” (emphasis mine). Then you say that the Norse were “raging viking hordes” when they were zinc-deficient and became “peaceful” when they got more zinc.

          It looks like you have your effects reversed.

          • Richard says:

            What I was actually hoping for when starting this subthread was for someone to chime in and say “Of course it’s not zinc, its X”. Or words to that effect.

            Upside, I have learned a lot about dietary deficiencies and violence, this a particularly good read.

            Downside, not so much, even the takedowns were amusing, thanks 🙂

          • Lumifer says:

            @Richard

            What, causes for the different geographical distribution of violence?

            The simplest crudest model is that the closer you are to the tropics, the more violence you get.

            A bit more sophisticated model is that violence correlates to (low) IQ quite well. But that model tends to get people upset.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Nowadays a competent psychiatrist would deal with their compulsion to sail into the west by prescribing 50mg of Eärendil twice daily.

        • Agronomous says:

          accepting of the potato

          Vodka is made from potatoes. I think we’ve explained your peaceful Russians.

          Hey, anybody know how deadly zinc bullets are? Should we ban them? Or maybe just ban clips of more than six of them?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Russian vodka is made from wheat, as I understand. Polish vodka is made from potatoes.

          • Soumynona says:

            That doesn’t sound right. There’s a list:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_vodkas

            Most are made from grains, regardless of country.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Presumably there is a fair amount of variability in today’s market as global supply chains have become omnipresent.

            I was really only repeating hearsay, but I do note that on that list is the Polish brand Luksusowa, which is apparently one of the oldest Vodka distillers in the world and uses potatoes.

            Far all I know it’s one of those regional insults where the Russians say the Polish use potatoes and the Polish say the Russians do.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          I’ve done some thinking about this, and ah.. This is also the exact time period where the Germans and the Russians got their act together. The Swedes were ganged up on in 1700 and fought terrifyingly well during that war, but afterwards they wisely kept down, being boxed in by greater powers. I’m not sure if them not waging much war has to do with zinc when it may just as easily have been self-preservation.

  49. Ruben says:

    Regarding that Swedish school reform:
    The recent education GWAS also exploited this reform. The explanatory power of the polygenic score went down slightly after the reform.
    Plot: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v533/n7604/fig_tab/nature17671_SF10.html
    Discussion: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v533/n7604/extref/nature17671-s1.pdf (Section 7)

    There’s some more forthcoming details on this that aren’t out yet. Using PGS to study gene-environment interaction will be very interesting.

    • Bugmaster says:

      I don’t know much about humans, but AFAIK GWAS is nearly useless when studying plants. You can find an association between pretty much any SNP you want and any trait you want, if you look hard enough. Once you normalize the results and apply Bonferroni corrections, any significance you thought you had tends to evaporate.

      • Ruben says:

        Yeah, you don’t know about humans 🙂 first thing: there’s a lot of them. Those are adjusted for multiple comparisons of course.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Was that Swedish IQ increase permanent?

  51. eh says:

    OpenAI have released a list of concrete AI safety problems. It seems a lot more grounded and near-term than (my impression of) MIRI’s work.

    https://openai.com/blog/concrete-ai-safety-problems/

    • Tedd says:

      This seems characteristic of their work in the last couple of years to me. What gave you the impression that this was not the case?

    • Alphaceph says:

      > Avoiding negative side effects. Can we transform an RL agent’s reward function to avoid undesired effects on the environment?

      wow. Way to restate the unfriendly AI problem!

      • Adam says:

        Many of the problems are not new, but the paper explores them in the context of cutting-edge systems. We hope they’ll inspire more people to work on AI safety research, whether at OpenAI or elsewhere.

        Using transformations of reward functions to shape the behavior of an RL agent is an extremely specific and fairly well-studied topic that deals with one particular approach to building goal-directed agents that applies to a whole hell of a lot of existing systems, see, for instance, Ng, Harada, and Russell (1999) or Asmuth, Littman, Zinkov (2008).

        I believe their point is almost all of this prior research has dealt with policy invariance in service of reducing experience complexity during training. They want to see people apply the same ideas to policy shaping to reduce side-effects in such a way that the technique can be applied to specific known problems with systems that actually exist. It’s not nearly as general or ambitious as tackling the friendly AI problem.

  52. Ransom says:

    Your old article touching on Capgras delusion suggests that 1% is a fantastically high prior for the Capgras hypothesis. I’m not sure it’s so far out. Just this morning I offered a man fifty dollars before arriving at the Capgras conclusion: that he was not my friend, but actually a stranger who closely resembled him.

    • drethelin says:

      The Capgras delusion is consistent and long-running, not a one-off happenstance

      • Ransom says:

        Yes, I realize that. The question I am addressing is: what is the probability that someone is actually a real stranger, given that I recognize them? LW article estimates that the rate is extremely low. I contend that it is not so low as all that.

    • MugaSofer says:

      How often have you seen your friends without them turning out to be strangers? More than a hundred?

  53. Jill says:

    Trigger Warning: Left of Center views included in this comment.

    Regarding Greece. Since Greece joined the EU, they have been forced into neoliberal policies because the EU is neoliberal e.g. very into austerity. So, no, Greece is not the least neo-liberal nation in the developed world– at least not since they joined the EU.

    • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

      What disputes do you have with Sumner’s method of ranking neoliberality? At the time he did it, Greece had been in the EU for 27 years, and in the eurozone for 7.

    • Samuel Skinner says:

      Austerity is not neoliberalism. Neoliberalism refers to a whole suite of economic policies (mostly regarding privatization).

    • Tedd says:

      Please stop prefacing your comments with that particular trigger warning. It appears to be intended to serve approximately the same purpose as “I am left of center; I assume you do not interact with anyone who is left of center and are likely to be scared or offended by my views”. I hope it is clear why this preface would not be a polite thing to include.

      You could serve the same practical purpose by instead starting with “(Note: I am a liberal.)” or similar and it would be much less obnoxious.

    • Tracy W says:

      I take it from this that you are defining “neoliberal” as “austerity”. I note that if Greece had not joined the EU, and in particular, the Eurozone, it would have had a lot more austerity, as Germany and the other Euro countries would have had far less incentive to bail Greece out. (And certainly the USA and the UK have shown zero interest in doing so.)

      One of the most fascinating things about the Greece situation is the number of people who believe that the Eurozone countries are forcing Greece into austerity simply because they’re not willing to lend Greece as much money as Greece would like.

      • anon says:

        “the Eurozone countries are forcing Greece into austerity simply because they’re not willing to lend Greece as much money as Greece would like”

        The issue is precisely that this statement is both ridiculous and literally true, depending on how it is read — particularly with respect to how one intones “simply”.

        • Tracy W says:

          I’m missing the ridiculousness – even though I’ve tried intoning “simply” several different ways. Can you please elaborate?

          • gbdub says:

            It’s ridiculous, because without the Eurozone bailouts, they’d have even less money. So it’s ridiculous to lay the blame for austerity on the Eurozone.

          • Bassicallyboss says:

            Based on its positioning, you could read it grammatically as either “simply because,” or as “forcing… simply.” I’m not sure which is the ridiculous and which the literally true, though.

      • Doug S. says:

        If Greece were not in the Eurozone it would have simply devalued its currency and paid its debts back in cheaper drachmas. There’s no reason a government that can print money *has* to default on debts denominated in the currency it prints, and devaluation is generally an easier road to fixing relative prices than deflation…

        • Tracy W says:

          That only works if Greece’s debts were denominated in drachma. Generally people are reluctant to lend in national currency to a politically-unstable regime with a history of fiscal crisises. They lend in US dollars, or euros, or British pounds, or Swiss francs and subject to New York or London or Zurich courts.

    • Wouter says:

      Greece committed fraud to get into the Eurozone in the first place.

    • After all that “austerity”, Greece is still has the highest government spending of the OECD

      https://data.oecd.org/gga/general-government-spending.htm

      So, even defining “neoliberal” as “austerity”, Greece is the least austere country in the OECD.

      • wysinwyg says:

        That’s not government expenditures, that’s government expenditures as share of GDP.

        I think if you do even a tiny bit more research you’ll find that their government expenditures as share of GDP are high because they have a very low GDP at the moment — not because their government expenditures are themselves high. (In fact, they are very low and have been dropping.) As recently as 2007, Greece was in the middle of the pack for EU countries’ government expenditures as a percent of GDP.

        Over all, this seems more like a case against the efficacy of austerity policies rather than Greece’s government spending. And goes to show how much even slight differences in interpretation can lead to hugely different conclusions.

        • Alsadius says:

          Is that 2007 number using the official Greek stats, or the truthful ones?

          • wysinwyg says:

            I see no reason to suspect that government expenditure statistics would be affected by the fraudulent statistics you allude to, as the fraudulent statistics pertains to debt rather than direct expenditures in the first place.

            If I’m missing something, please let me know.

            While we’re picking nits, did you notice that Greece had the highest per capita military spending of any NATO country besides the US? Given the predilection of neoliberals like Reagan, Clinton, and Bush for huge increases in military spending, I wonder if this Scott Sumner guy factored that into his measure of how neoliberal was Greek economic policy. I’m guessing not, but it seems like if spending a lot on military is a policy favored by neoliberals, and if it contributed significantly to the Greek debt problem, then this seems a pretty straight-forward instance of neoliberal policies contributing to the Greek debt crisis.

          • Lumifer says:

            @wysinwyg

            as the fraudulent statistics pertains to debt rather than direct expenditures in the first place

            That is factually wrong. See e.g. this.

            Greece had the highest per capita military spending of any NATO country besides the US?

            And do you happen to know why? Hint: the answer starts with the letter “T” and ends with the “urkey”.

          • wysinwyg says:

            @Lumifer:

            That is factually wrong. See e.g. this.

            Could you be more specific? I’ve already spent more time than I really should researching this issue when it doesn’t affect my welfare or day-to-day life much at all and don’t necessarily want to take the time to read a 30 page report whose title and executive summary don’t seem to support your claim.

            And do you happen to know why? Hint: the answer starts with the letter “T” and ends with the “urkey”.

            I have no reason to doubt that, but it also doesn’t seem relevant to the validity of my argument.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Greece is one of the very few countries that spends on defense as required by the NATO pact.

            http://www.wsj.com/articles/nato-calls-for-rise-in-defence-spending-by-alliance-members-1434978193

            (google the headline if paywalled)

            They aren’t exceeding the minimum by a grandiose amount, either. The majority of countries are more percentage points below the target than Greece is above.

          • wysinwyg says:

            @Edward Scizorhands:

            They aren’t exceeding the minimum by a grandiose amount, either. The majority of countries are more percentage points below the target than Greece is above.

            Sure, but that’s consistent with the interpretation that the NATO minimums are themselves neoliberal policies and that Greece therefore implement neoliberal policies. We can also ask why is Greece the exception to the rule of not meeting the minimum. This doesn’t really have an impact on the validity of the claim that the Greek debt crisis was caused by neoliberal policies one way or the other.

          • Tibor says:

            Isn’t high military spending (in the sense higher than necessary, which can be debatable…probably the US military spending is way above what is necessary, I don’t know about Greece, although I find the probability of Turkey attacking them rather low, especially since both countries are in NATO) rather a feature of neo-conservatism (although this is really a uniquely American worldview anyway) than neoliberalism? The problem with the term neoliberalism is not that it is used almost exclusively by the left and that it has negative connotations, but that it simply means “any policies I don’t like”. What troubles me is that most people view politics as left/right packages where everything that is vaguely supported by the mainstream left goes together into one and everything supported by the mainstream right into the other and if there is something wrong about one part of that package then everything has to be wrong about it. Only if you accept this worldview and only if you then equate the world neoliberalism with the mainstream right does it start to make sense.

            I find it quite frustrating when people call the EU “neoliberal” (in fact, not just the left wing does that, the nationalist and conservative right in Europe does that too) when it is in many respect (not all, but at least the left-wingers typically do not complain about Schengen zone or no tariffs within the EU which are perhaps the only kind-of neoliberal/libertarian EU policies) a very protectionist and rather socialist (within some bounds, I do not want to compare the EU to Venezuela) institution with all its subsidies and country production quotas.

            I also feel a sense of frustration when the left opposes government bailouts of companies and calls that practice neoliberalism. I am on one hand happy that they don’t like that. True, they are not keen on cutting the “regular” welfare, but at least they see the corporate welfare as a problem (whereas many mainstream centre-right parties do not really see that as an issue). But then I am perplexed and confused when they call that neoliberalism. It is like calling water dry or calling Google socialist because it has a management. What gives me hope is that many people on the left simply see “free-market” as synomymous to crony capitalism and they would not really oppose or some perhaps might even support what I would call free market, in other words it seems to be to a degree a misunderstanding rather than a disagreement (although there are of course also unfortunately still many genuine fans of more central planning á la Venezuela, although probably very few who would prefer something as centrally planned as the Soviet Union). Still, it is extremely annoying to read about supposedly neoliberal policies which are clearly socialist, cronyist or statist (or whatever you want to call it).

            It makes me wonder if other worldview are equally misinterpreted. What proponents of a more centrally planned economy usually say if you point out the failures of the Soviet Union, communist (when it was still communist in more than name) China or Venezuela (and dozens other countries) is that it was not the “real” communism. I have some sympathy for that exactly because of how the term neoliberalism is applied to countries which in my eyes are very far from being neoliberal/free-market/libertarian/whatever. On the other hand their proposed policies do not really differ much from how they were applied in the places where communism failed so I don’t really think that I misunderstand what they want. With the non-communist left it is more complicated and I sometimes genuinely don’t know what they would like exactly, their economic policies do not seem to be as definite as those of communists or libertarians (then again, neither are those of the conservative right…some of whom are socialists in my opinion).

        • Of course, you normalize to GDP, otherwise richer countries have higher expenditures and you conclude that low-tax Luxembourg is the least neoliberal country in the OECD. (btw, Luxembourg did push through several austerity measures in the last few years when tax income went down [VAT went up, some social programmes were cut] and has been doing reasonably well).

          If spending >50% of GDP is “very low government expenditures”, then what is a high, or even moderate, rate?

          Even in 2006-2008, in Greece, the government expenditures to GDP ratio is going up from 45% (2006, earliest data from OECD, not sure why) to 50% in 2008 and 54% in 2009, the year of the first Greek bailout.

          That interface only shows data after 2006 for Greece for some reason, but looking at http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/factbook-2013-en/11/02/02/index.html, the growth in government spending goes back at least to the beginning of the decade. Even today, in total per capita spending they are spending more than they did in 2005.

          The Greek government tried to spend its way out of its problems. They failed. Then the EU bailed them out and somehow gets blamed for the issues there under the Copenhagen interpretation of ethics.

          (I actually wonder whether this history played a role in Obama’s decisions to let Detroit/Puerto Rico deal with their own issues without a Federal bailout: sure, he could have help them, but then it’d be his fault).

          • wysinwyg says:

            Of course, you normalize to GDP, otherwise richer countries have higher expenditures and you conclude that low-tax Luxembourg is the least neoliberal country in the OECD.

            Well, of course I understand why you normalize to GDP.

            But I’m also pretty sure that you understand enough algebra to know that if you shrink the denominator of a fraction, the fraction as a whole gets bigger.

            That makes “arguments” like the following misleading:

            After all that “austerity”, Greece is still has the highest government spending of the OECD

            because the increase in government spending/GDP is driven by a decrease in the denominator, not an increase in the numerator which has objectively by all measures decreased quite a bit.

            http://www.statista.com/graphic/1/275335/government-revenue-and-spending-in-greece.jpg

            In fact, if it was neoliberal/austerity policies that drove the decrease in GDP, then we would have to conclude that Greece’s current very high government spending to GDP ratio is actually the result of neoliberal policies. Thus, the notion that neoliberal/austerity policies contribute to the Greek debt crisis is completely consistent with your observation of high government spending in Greece.

            Note that I’m not arguing that either is the case. Just that your “observation” of high government spending in Greece is not really evidence against such claims, and that suggesting otherwise is misleading.

        • SD000 says:

          Given the predilection of neoliberals like Reagan, Clinton, and Bush for huge increases in military spending

          Ah yes, we all know neoliberal is associated with military spending. That’s why the most neoliberal countries in the world, Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland have such high rates, huh?

          • wysinwyg says:

            You’re conflating “neoliberal” with “free market”, I think. I’m citing the policies of people who I think are consistently identified as neoliberals: Reagan, etc.

            Are Singapore, Hong Kong, and Switzerland more neoliberal than Reagan? According to what authorities? Are you using a particular definition of “neoliberal”?

            I’d consider temporarily using a definition of “neoliberal” that focuses more on the policies of Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, etc. than on particular people who are commonly identified as “neoliberal” and see where that gets it, but I’m pretty sure the way I’m using the term isn’t invalid or ludicrous or deserving of as much snarky condescension as I’ve received in bothering to point out to y’all that the Sumner editorial was more chest beating than astute analysis.

          • Tibor says:

            @wysinwyg Ok, this looks like the source of the problem. I do in fact conflate free-market with neoliberal. I had always thought that people who opposed neoliberalism and said that “X ist caused by neoliberalism” basically say “X is caused by the free market policies, but we don’t like to call them free market because free market sounds too nice, so let’s instead use a neo- word which reminds people of neonazis”.

            hat is it supposed to mean otherwise? From the list of names it looks like neoliberal means neoconservative (more or less). That is rather confusing. Some neoconservatives do vocally support the free market, although they tend often do the opposite (G.W.Bush was possibly more socialist than Bill Clinton, definitely if measured in government spending). Maybe this is the source of confusion and the reason why neoconservatism is conflated with free-market policies into the word neoliberalism.

        • SD000 says:

          You’re conflating “neoliberal” with “free market”, I think. I’m citing the policies of people who I think are consistently identified as neoliberals: Reagan, etc.

          The problem is the definition. To supporters, neoliberal equates to free market / capitalist, to detractors, neoliberal equates to neoconservative (figure that one out) / imperialist.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            It sure seems like what’s happening to the label “neoliberal” is exactly what happened to the label “neoconservative” 10 years ago.

    • Zorgon says:

      I’m starting to think that you’re actually disappointed at not having been banned in the recent kerfuffles. I can’t think of another handy reason as to why you’ve decided to escalate in this fashion.

    • Alsadius says:

      Greece was forced into austerity because of math, not neoliberalism. At the time the Greek crisis started, the country was running a pretty serious deficit even if their interest payments went away. Since nobody will loan to a bankrupt, this would have meant that defaulting would have forced them into much faster and harsher austerity than the EU did. The EU actually did them a pretty huge favour(at least insofar as giving drugs to an addict is a favour), and minimized the amount of austerity that Greece had to deal with.

      • wysinwyg says:

        The EU actually did them a pretty huge favour(at least insofar as giving drugs to an addict is a favour), and minimized the amount of austerity that Greece had to deal with.

        You are so close, but so far away.

        If Greece was forced into austerity by default, the other EU countries would have to write down the debt owed to them by Greece, but then Greece would be free and in the clear. Such a situation is not very good for the Greeks, but it at least gets them out of a position of dependency and forces them to rebuild on the strength of their own resources and work.

        Or if the other EU countries refinance the debt they can avoid writing down all the debt and still have leverage over Greece to provide real value, either in the form of interest payments — or maybe just a locale with conveniently low wages and very few worker protections to help bring down labor costs.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Issuing more debt in their own currency is always possible, but is off the table for Greece because of outside factors.

          (Outside factors that they voluntarily agreed to, of course.)

        • Alsadius says:

          Are European countries moving production to Greece for lower costs? My impression was that it’s a horrible place to do business. And interest payments are nice, but the bonds were all sold at pre-crash rates of a few percent – yes, they had 37% yield to maturity at the worst points of the crash, but only because they’d already been marked down so far. And if the interest is being paid with new money Europe is loaning them, then Europe isn’t actually getting any value from them.

          Remember, the EU protects the concept of the EU – that’s their guiding star. They want to push a closer union with nobody ever leaving, and they’re willing to spend billions of dollars of other people’s money to make it happen. This isn’t corruption, it’s buying the dream.

          • wysinwyg says:

            http://www.tradingeconomics.com/greece/foreign-direct-investment-net-inflows-percent-of-gdp-wb-data.html

            If austerity doesn’t increase capex, then it’s hard to understand the point of austerity in the first place, and if there’s no money in Greece, then the capex would have to be significantly foreign in origin…

          • Alsadius says:

            The point of austerity is to not spend money you don’t have. It’s less pleasant than borrowing hundreds of billions and blowing it on things like the majority of the population retiring in their 50s or even their 40s, but it actually works in the real world for more than a few years at a time.

          • wysinwyg says:

            The point of austerity is to not spend money you don’t have.

            Umm, the point of finance — you know, the engine of capitalism — is spending money that you don’t have. Economic growth under capitalism is predicated on spending money you don’t have.

            So your explanation of austerity is a little too glib, I think. If austerity prevents economic growth, then it can only further reduce Greece’s ability to pay her debts. Without any other interventions, this means that austerity in itself is a self-defeating policy.

            Unless it can encourage capital investment. If it can do that, then an economy can plausibly grow enough to meet its debt obligations even with relatively tight credit.

            I don’t think this is secret or mysterious at all.

            I think I should disengage with you. I’m getting a strong sense you’re just trolling at this point.

          • Alsadius says:

            Yeah, I was a bit glib, but Greece has needed a lesson in glibness form the gods of the copybook headings for years now. In the short term, stupid things are often fun. In the long term, they catch up to you and cause a lot of regrets. Greece(and Venezuela, and others) is in the middle of the long term right now. I get why they’re whining – they were promised that this day would never come, because no politician wants to be the bearer of bad news – but they were lied to, they should have known it, and now it’s time to pay the piper.

            As for your ideas on growth, you’re making the fundamental error of Keynesianism – assuming that overspending is the origin of growth. Growth is contingent on spending less than you have, so that the rest can be invested. It doesn’t need to be you spending less than you have – you can borrow someone else’s savings(that’s what finance is for), but someone somewhere along the line needs to produce and not consume, because that’s how capital accumulation happens, and capital is what allows for long-term growth. This is why I think your discussion of finance is a bit off as well – finance is a useful tool, but capital is the engine of capitalism, as the name would imply.

            Saying that borrowing more makes it easier for Greece to pay back its debt in the long term implies that a dollar of government spending grows the economy enough to provide more than a dollar of new tax revenues. That’s an extraordinary claim. It’s true when you’re talking about establishing the first courts or something, but not when you’re paying for people to quit work decades earlier than they should. In those cases, government spending actively destroys tax revenues. One must produce before you can consume, so paying people not to produce is the surest way to destroying the economy that exists.

            Also, I’m not sure why you think I’m trolling, but I’m entirely serious, if occasionally sarcastic in tone. Greece has screwed themselves by thinking they can vote themselves rich and it’d never catch up to them. It’s caught up to them, and now they need to make it right. That means buckling down, manning up, and paying their debts, not continuing to spend like crazy and saying “No dude, this hundred billion is what I need to get my life together – you know I’m good for it, just spot me for a couple weeks, okay? I’ve got a really great plan, I’ll totally give you your money back and then some this time. Just don’t break my knees, okay?”. I get why Greeks would like that argument, and I get why people who think that the sort of overspending madness that led Greece here is good policy would double down on it rather than admit that they’re obviously wrong. But that doesn’t make it true.

          • wysinwyg says:

            @Alsadius:

            Let’s get the tone stuff out of the way.

            Also, I’m not sure why you think I’m trolling, but I’m entirely serious, if occasionally sarcastic in tone.

            I had just responded to three one-liners from you that all seemed to miss the point, or nitpick a tangential detail, or otherwise try to distract from the main point or muddy the waters. That feels trolly. I appreciate that you’ve made a more sincere and substantial argument here.

            It doesn’t help that basically any left-leaning view (in this case, I’m really just saying the Sumner editorial was poorly/not argued, which I don’t think is even a strictly left-leaning view) expressed here will be heaped with scorn from myriad parties — a review of the responses to my comments here should suffice to demonstrate that. If I was a perfect person, other people’s responses wouldn’t color my perception of your responses, but I am not a perfect person.

            As for your ideas on growth, you’re making the fundamental error of Keynesianism – assuming that overspending is the origin of growth. Growth is contingent on spending less than you have, so that the rest can be invested.

            You say I’m committing “the fundamental error of Keynesianism” (which raises some red flags for me for various reasons — maybe you should try to understand your interlocutors’ views in their own words instead of conflating them with ideologies you are already biased against?), but I don’t believe that is the case. I don’t think anything I’ve said contradicts the view here, except that I described finance instead of capital as the engine of capitalism. But this is just a metaphor; in fact, my argument is predicated on the importance of capital to economic growth, so I’m not sure why you conclude that I’m ignoring it.

            You mention the importance of investment in this picture. I’ve found that a useful way to look at finance is a way to invest future income in the present. If there is no money in Greece now, and if tight credit prevents the Greeks from investing money from the future, then the only money available is foreign money, which is the point I initially argued.

            The notion of investing savings can work, of course, but those savings have to come from the actual production of the country, and Greece currently has a very low GDP. They need a certain amount of that production to meet their material needs, a certain amount of it to service their debts, and a certain amount of it to repair the extant capital. A country in a deep recession has much less to invest in growth than a country not in a deep recession.

            It’s a little like Bart Simpson said about special ed classes: we’re starting off behind the other classes and we’re going to catch up with them by going slower?

            Saying that borrowing more makes it easier for Greece to pay back its debt in the long term implies that a dollar of government spending grows the economy enough to provide more than a dollar of new tax revenues. That’s an extraordinary claim.

            No, it doesn’t imply that at all. You seem to have gone completely off the rails in interpreting that statement.

            Tight credit sets an upper bound on the growth of the economy (because it reduces the amount of future revenue that can be “brought into the present” by borrowing). Slower growth in the economy means lower tax revenue. Lower tax revenue means Greece is less likely to be able to service its debts. Nothing about that is the least bit extraordinary — I don’t think any of it is even controversial.

            I get why Greeks would like that argument, and I get why people who think that the sort of overspending madness that led Greece here is good policy would double down on it rather than admit that they’re obviously wrong. But that doesn’t make it true.

            Look, even though you guys really, really seem to want me to be your straw man, I am not. I never claimed that Greek government spending was good or sustainable. There is really no reason to argue with me about it because I never actually disagreed with you in the first place.

            The main claim I’ve tried to defend is: Sumner’s editorial was not good.

            I’ve defended a few other claims in the course of responding to people, among them: Greece’s austerity policies don’t seem to be fixing the problems they’re meant to fix (unless they’re really meant to punish the Greek people for being so spendthrift).

        • Lumifer says:

          and forces them to rebuild on the strength of their own resources and work

          I thought that’s precisely what they were trying to avoid.

          • wysinwyg says:

            If anyone is wondering about Jill’s trigger warning, this sort of lack of charity probably has something to do with it.

          • Lumifer says:

            @wysinwyg

            Any particular reason I need to be charitable towards a Greek government?

          • Alsadius says:

            Lumifer, that depends. Do you live in the European Union? Because if so, the local taxman strongly encourages you to be charitable towards Greek governments.

          • wysinwyg says:

            @Lumifer:

            Any particular reason I need to be charitable towards a Greek government?

            You quoted a sentence where I was not referring to the Greek government but to the Greek people.

            You responded by saying:

            what they were trying to avoid

            I inferred that you were also talking about the Greek people in general and not the Greek government in particular as this was the most straight-forward interpretation of “they” in the context of this exchange.

            I furthermore inferred that you were using the reference to Greeks metonymically to refer to leftists, liberals, and all those other people who got no clue how the monies work since your comment comes across more as sniping than a substantial comment.

          • Lumifer says:

            @Alsadius

            Hm, that’s actually quite complicated (besides the obvious observation that taxmen don’t deal in charity :-/).

            Most of the “new” money that Greece got over the last few years is to roll over its old debts which it is unable to pay. It’s basically loan extension on favourable credit terms. My understanding is that Greece didn’t get much, if any, of the do-whatever-you-want money.

            Besides, that money is coming out of ECB and ESFS and typically is newly created money. Given this, the costs to support Greece are, I think, mostly opportunity costs (which can be pretty large, though).

            The taxpayer problem — correct me if I’m wrong — is not that a lot of taxpayer money went into the pockets of early-retirement-at-full-pension Greeks, but rather that the taxpayers ultimately bear the risks and are on the hook for the full costs when the cards come tumbling down. That hasn’t happened yet.

            If you want to dive deeper into eurofinance esoterica, google Target2 balances and think about the implications of Greeks being able to put their money into German banks…

          • Alsadius says:

            wysinwyg: I took “they” to mean the Greek government, but I can see why you’d disagree.

            Lumifer: I refer to it as charity, because the Greek government sure hasn’t done anything to earn the money.

    • wysinwyg says:

      My initial take is that the argument that “Greece is the least neoliberal country in the EU, therefore neoliberalism could not have caused Greece’s problems” seems pretty analogous to “France is the least fascist country in 1930’s Europe, so its problems could not possibly be caused by fascism.”

      But then I took a closer look at the linked editorial and see that it is really just tribal identification without any real analysis or reasoned argument.

      So I wondered how the left would explain the failure of statism in Greece, and decided to google “Greece crisis neoliberalism” expecting to find lots of articles about how Greece needed to move in a more neoliberal direction, like the northern European economies, in order to recover from its statist nightmare.

      This doesn’t even make sense. He wants to know how “the left” would explain “the failure of statism in Greece” (begging the question of what caused the problems in Greece, especially since “statism” is so far undefined in this editorial) so he uses the prima facie completely unrelated query “Greece crisis neoliberalism”?

      The lack of definitions makes the confusion a lot worse: it’s not prima facie clear to me why “neoliberalism” per se is opposed to “statism” when all the most prominent neoliberal politicians in the US (Reagan, W. Clinton, both Bushes, Obama) have been big-state politicians in terms of actual policies, even if they’re against statism as a function of rhetoric.

      but the most important point here is that although the author claims to investigate how “the left” explains the Greek crisis, he does not cite a single author on the left explaining the causes of the Greek crisis.

      Let’s show how bad this is by breaking down the structure of the argument:

      -the left are bad (really, the first couple paragraphs are basically throat-clearing to make his stance on this unambiguous without making any other points that are salient to the “thesis” of the editorial)
      -Greece is the least neoliberal country in the EU (according to the author’s own research; no explanation is given about what this means in terms of specific policies)
      -the left are wrong about the causes of the Greek crisis — they claim it’s too much neoliberalism (no citations are given to demonstrate that “the left” are actually making this claim; no specifics are given to allow the reader to judge for themselves whether there is more to this claim than what the author, who obviously disagrees with it already, claims about it)
      -the real cause was too little neoliberalism (no reasoning is given to support this conclusion; no explanation is given of what it even means in specific policy terms)
      -“the left” disagrees with the author about the causes of the Greek crisis and is therefore engaged in not just any lie but “The Big Lie”
      -the author goes on to make four conclusions that have essentially nothing to do with “the left”‘s explanations of the Greek crisis, one of which (“The term ‘neoliberalism’ is now completely detached from any actual characteristics of an economic policy regime, and is just a sort of free floating insult tossed around by the left, attached to anything they don’t like about the world.”) the author himself commits as well, certainly with respect to “statism” even if we give him credit for having a secret definition of neoliberalism that he’s just not sharing

      So it’s kind of a structureless mish mash of left bashing, preening, and posturing. This guy had some pre-determined conclusions (neoliberalism is good, leftists are bad) and went fishing/cherry picking to support them but (perhaps most embarrassing) he wasn’t even able to find any fish or cherries. I’m pretty surprised SA linked to this garbage.

      • Alsadius says:

        You’re counting Obama as neoliberal? I think the word officially has no meaning now.

        • wysinwyg says:

          Try making specific criticisms instead of just snarking at me if you want to convince me it’s worthwhile to engage you at all.

          • Alsadius says:

            If I wanted to get into a debate, I’d have replied with more than one line. You’ve got a fundamental flaw in your analysis, namely that one of your key terms is meaningless. Until that gets fixed, engagement is pointless – our priors differ too much.

          • wysinwyg says:

            You’ve got a fundamental flaw in your analysis, namely that one of your key terms is meaningless.

            You’re asserting this, but having been the one to use the term, I have privileged knowledge to the contrary.

            If you want to convince me the term “neoliberal” cannot be fairly used to describe the Obama administration, then it is on you to make the argument to the contrary.

            Note that this same criticism of a key term being “undefined” is much more fairly leveled at Sumner’s editorial than my analysis thereof.

            Also note that the inclusion of Obama in a list of prominent neoliberals has pretty much zero impact on the validity of any other part of the argument. Seems a little like you’re trying to muddy the waters.

            Until that gets fixed, engagement is pointless – our priors differ too much.

            You are making a claim. You are not backing up your claim. That has nothing to do with how much our priors differ — that has to you not meeting your obligations w/r/t rational debate.

        • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

          What makes it doubly odd is that, above, wysinwyg complained about identifying neoliberalism with low levels of government spending/GDP, rather than absolute government spending. According to the latter, the US is one of the least neoliberal countries on the planet– go figure how it got to have a neoliberal in charge of it.

          • Alsadius says:

            Not just one neoliberal, but an uninterrupted series of them for the last 36 years.

          • wysinwyg says:

            What makes it doubly odd is that, above, wysinwyg complained about identifying neoliberalism with low levels of government spending/GDP

            I’m fairly certain I never did that. Care to quote me?

          • Alsadius says:

            I suspect it’s a reference to this:

            That’s not government expenditures, that’s government expenditures as share of GDP.

            I think if you do even a tiny bit more research you’ll find that their government expenditures as share of GDP are high because they have a very low GDP at the moment — not because their government expenditures are themselves high. (In fact, they are very low and have been dropping.) As recently as 2007, Greece was in the middle of the pack for EU countries’ government expenditures as a percent of GDP.

            It’s a tenuous reading of what you said, admittedly.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            It was indeed a reference to the text Alsadius quoted– and, on re-reading same, a misinterpretation. I’m sorry about that, though I don’t think much of the point that was actually being made either. The denominator in “spending/GDP” may shrink, but if a country is practicing “austerity” I’d expect the numerator to shrink along with, or I’m at a loss to say what the word means.

      • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

        Neoliberalism is the term used to describe the revival of classical liberalism, as advocated for by free market conservatives, economists and libertarian thinkers.

        It is characterized by an emphasis on free markets, international trade, minimum/stream-lined regulation with a hard preference toward only intervening after a market failure has been decisively shown, and generally having decentralized decision making when it comes to the economic and personal sphere (costumers, employees and entrepreneurs making decisions for themselves) as opposed to decisions being made by bureaucrats.

        If neoliberalism had a Prophet it would be Milton Friedman with his books “Capitalism and Freedom” and “Free to Choose” (also a mini-series available up on youtube) being the best contender for neoliberal bible.

        One cannot understand the modern political landscape without understanding the arguments for neoliberalism as several generations (from both ends of the political spectrum) have more or less accepted the arguments.

        Neoliberalism is why Tony Blair said “we’re all Thatcherites now” and why Barrack Obama advocates free trade.

        Greece before and after 2008 most definitely does not meet any definition of neoliberal as both before and after its governments have run the least economically free and least dynamic set of regulations in the developed world.

        The issue is not , the issue is that the legal and regulatory structure is set up such that growth is largely impossible.

        • Urstoff says:

          That’s what it used to mean (probably). It surely doesn’t mean that these days, if we take common usage as a guide to meaning.

          • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

            The fact that the radical left is ignorant combined with the fact that the left uses the English language does not mean the English language is without meaning.

          • Urstoff says:

            No, but meaning does shift with usage. As such, the meaning of “neoliberal” in many contexts has shifted to something perjorative but vague rather than the definition you give. I’m sure if you’re reading Dissent or something like that, it still means close to what you said.

          • Julie K says:

            The fact that the radical left is ignorant combined with the fact that the left uses the English language does not mean the English language is without meaning.

            I’m thinking that if we can’t agree on what a word means, then as far as we’re concerned, that word is, in fact, without meaning, and we should try to use a different word.

          • wysinwyg says:

            I’m thinking that if we can’t agree on what a word means, then as far as we’re concerned, that word is, in fact, without meaning, and we should try to use a different word.

            It’s easy enough to clarify what one means as long as the other party is willing to try to understand. If everyone’s applying the principle of charity and not letting their egos get in the way of understanding, there should be no problem in negotiating the use of a term as we go.

            Let me provide an analogy: we are botanists and I find an unfamiliar plant. I can try to describe it until I’m blue in the face but it’s probably just better to point. You can use the term “neoliberal” to point to a subset of likely government and economic policies and usefully talk about those.

            Different people might use “neoliberal” to point to slightly different subsets, but there is probably substantial overlap and the differences can be negotiated between reasonable parties using the term for the sake of discussion rather than pejoratively.

            But “neoliberalism” gets us 90% of the way there because we agree on some basic facts like union busting and private prisons and free trade are neoliberal policies and carbon taxes and fishing quotas and safety regulations are not. Hillary Clinton is strictly a neoliberal whereas Bernie Sanders, while perhaps near the border of the neoliberal cluster in policy-space, not at all a good example of a neoliberal.

            (And since it’s clusters, I don’t really want to hear nitpicks about how Clinton is pro-union. She doesn’t advocate for every policy that might be usefully described as “neoliberal”. Words are fuzzy.)

          • Anon. says:

            >carbon taxes and fishing quotas and safety regulations are not

            wat

            Are you confusing neoliberals with anarcho-capitalists? Because even minarchists have no problem with correcting externalities and limiting access to the commons.

            Also are you saying Clinton is not in favor of reducing emissions?

            Can you show me some country without carbon taxes and fishing quotas, or is neoliberalism something purely fantastical?

          • Nornagest says:

            There are plenty of countries without carbon taxes; in fact most don’t have them, including the US on a national level. (Some states do.) I could probably find one without fishing quotas too, if only by looking at landlocked ones.

            I wouldn’t call this good evidence of neoliberalism, though. In fact, Wikipedia’s list of countries with carbon taxes is almost exclusively affluent liberal democracies. (India is the most notable exception.)

          • Anonymous says:

            It strikes me as especially strange to describe fishing quotas as an example of not-neoliberalism. Presuming they’re transferrable, aren’t fishing quotas an example of private property, i.e. exactly the thing that neoliberals are in favor of?

          • Tracy W says:

            @wysinwyg:

            The problem with your definition is finding anyone who has advocated the set of policies to define as neoliberalism but not the set of policies that you define as not-neoliberalism. Carbon taxes and fishing quotas spring from the same economic and political research as free-trade and what I suspect you mean by union-busting. (As for safety regulations, there are different ways to regulate safety that can be more or less informed by the economic work I referred to, so saying “safety regulations” is too broad to be meaningful.)

            Defining policies you don’t like as neoliberalism and policies you do like as not neoliberalism, regardless of any underlying connections or contradictions is what makes the term neoliberal pretty useless.

        • Guy says:

          The issue is not what?

          • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

            Sorry typo.
            “The issue is not austerity”

            If Greece set out to become one of the freest markets in the world, then they could afford far more in the way of benefits than their currently giving (averaged across the general pop: they could easily double their gdp from 20k per head to 40k). The issue is that it their politics are a war by special interests against the general public and as such they have mounds of destructive regs. and specific benefits that exist to benefit those Special interests, at the expense of the commonwealth.

        • wysinwyg says:

          Neoliberalism is the term used to describe the revival of classical liberalism, as advocated for by free market conservatives, economists and libertarian thinkers.

          I somewhat-but-not-entirely disagree. As I explain in a comment far below, I’m using an “indexical” approach to identifying neoliberal policies: I’m using Reagan as the canonical example and the policies that cluster around his in policy-space are “neoliberal” policies.

          As a result, I take neoliberalism to be a movement — a group of people with closely aligned aims. Their aims happen to align with classical liberalism on some policies. They don’t on others.

          Neoliberalism is why Tony Blair said “we’re all Thatcherites now” and why Barrack Obama advocates free trade.

          That’s weird. Maybe you should argue with @Alsadius about this because I consider Obama to be a neoliberal, but he took issue with that.

          Greece before and after 2008 most definitely does not meet any definition of neoliberal as both before and after its governments have run the least economically free and least dynamic set of regulations in the developed world.

          In fact, I never argued that Greece had a particularly neoliberal government or implemented especially neoliberal policies.

          I did suggest briefly — it was not the focus of my comment — that however neoliberal or not-neoliberal Greece’s government was doesn’t really have an impact on the notion that neoliberalism contributed to the Greek debt crisis.

          In fact, I couldn’t really argue either way on this because — and this was the focus of my comment — Sumner gives us nothing to work with here. He doesn’t cite the specific arguments of a single person on “the left” arguing that neoliberalism caused the Greek debt crisis so that we can examine the argument on its own terms and see the confusions that led to such a clearly incorrect conclusion in context.

          All we have is Sumner characterizing the arguments of his ideological opponents without citing them and dismissing the arguments (that we haven’t actually seen for ourselves) as obviously wrong and ridiculous, and that those arguments are obviously wrong and ridiculous because Scott Sumner says so.

          I might agree that Greece’s policies weren’t especially neoliberal — but I suspect there are a lot of areas where we might disagree on that point, because you seem to think neoliberalism always means libertarianism and I disagree. However, that does not lead me to conclude that neoliberal policies in general did not significantly contribute to the Greek debt crisis.

          • Tibor says:

            I have personally never met or even heard of anyone who would describe himself as a neoliberal. There are people who call themselves socialist, libertarian, classical liberals, social democrats, conservatives etc. But I have never heard of any neoliberal movement (save for the 50s in Germany where some people really did identify with the term but what they meant was more or less free-market economy with a social safety net, so classical liberalism with some amount of a welfare state…but that does not seem to be how you understand the term).

            If to you neoliberalism is a mix of cronyism and neoconservatism then I don’t like it either. But this is probably not the way Summers uses the term. I don’t see into his head but it seems like he simply equates it with the free market. If you replace the word neoliberalism with the word free market (or noninterventionism or something like that) in his article, do you still so strongly disagree with it? If not then the issue is mostly about terminology.

          • Urstoff says:

            Scott Sumner is the only one I’ve seen to embrace neoliberalism as a moniker and defend it: http://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2010/Sumnerneoliberalism.html

      • SD000 says:

        Awful labor market, lots of protectionism, overregulation and difficulty in doing business = opposite of neoliberal.

        I don’t understand why you’re having trouble understanding this. Wait, of course I do. It conflicts with your priors (neoliberalism BAD, markets BAD, business BAD, democratic socialism [or whatever the latest buzzword is] GOOD, government GOOD) so your mental gymnastics come out in full force.

        Anything that clashes with the above line of thinking will be excused away. Anything that agrees with the above line of thinking will be accepted unconditionally.

        • wysinwyg says:

          I was considering just reporting this comment, but I think it’s better left here as an example of why @Jill might feel the need to put a “trigger warning” on all her comments.

          Your confusion stems from conflating “neoliberal” with “free market”. They are not necessarily identical.

          I am using the term indexically to identify the set of policies associated with public figures who are inarguably neoliberal and arguably canonical examplars of the ideology: Reagan and his administration, Thatcher, etc.

          While I’m willing to entertain the use of the term to describe the policies of the governments of Hong Kong, etc., I think there are probably much better terms for this like “free market” that do not have all the baggage of the term “neoliberal”.

          I’m using the term “neoliberal” because I don’t want to exclude that baggage — I think it’s important! The differences between neoliberalism policies and free market rhetoric are pretty consistent through time and from person to person.

          While you can certainly hold the opinion that this is not a useful way of using the term “neoliberal”, I think you will find it difficult to argue that it is wrong, or ludicrous, or anything else worthy of the contempt dripping from the comment to which I am replying.

          And I’ll just quickly point out that you may have inferred more than is justifiable about my political and economic views on the basis that I said that a particular editorial did not do a good job of arguing for its conclusion. The fact that you are so quick to rush to judgment suggests to me that this sort of thing:

          Anything that clashes with the above line of thinking will be excused away. Anything that agrees with the above line of thinking will be accepted unconditionally.

          might actually be a pretty good summary of your own thought processes.

          • SD000 says:

            I’m confused. Neoliberalism refers to economic belief. What is there apart from free-market orientation that is implied in neoliberalism? You keep hinting (not so subtly) at interventionist foreign policy (at least that’s what I’m inferring from your language – and assuming from what I can deduce is your overall political ideology), but that has nothing to do with neoliberalism, since, again, it’s not economics.

            So again, if neoliberalism means more than just lean government and free markets, please let me know what else it entails. You’ve broadly referenced the beliefs of Reagan/Thatcher/Clinton – but what specifically does that mean?

          • wysinwyg says:

            @SD000:

            Let me repeat some of what you’ve said in this thread so far:

            Ah yes, we all know neoliberal is associated with military spending. That’s why the most neoliberal countries in the world, Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland have such high rates, huh?

            I don’t understand why you’re having trouble understanding this. Wait, of course I do. It conflicts with your priors (neoliberalism BAD, markets BAD, business BAD, democratic socialism [or whatever the latest buzzword is] GOOD, government GOOD) so your mental gymnastics come out in full force.

            Anything that clashes with the above line of thinking will be excused away. Anything that agrees with the above line of thinking will be accepted unconditionally.

            Based on this, why would I want to engage with you at all? It doesn’t really seem like you’re willing to apply the principle of charity or to discuss these issues with me in good faith. It seems like you’re engaged in petty sniping and goal-scoring.

            And you’re trying to pull me into an argument about semantics! Semantics!

            Do you identify as a rationalist? Have you read the sequences?

            If you have then you should know that the argument you’re trying to make — that I’m using words “wrong” — has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of my argument. And since that’s the case, it’s hard to interpret your actions as anything else but fearful, insecure lashing out at a potential threat to your worldview.

          • SD000 says:

            @wysinwyg

            I sincerely/honestly have no clue what you mean by neoliberalism if not some sort of economic belief relating to the preference for markets to set prices, pro-business labor laws, lack of protectionist trade policies and leaner government with less regulatory burdens. The lack of all of these which quite clearly led to Greece’s economic crisis.

            It’s not an argument about semantics, it’s that I don’t understand your argument at all because you haven’t clearly defined (actually you haven’t at ALL defined) what you mean by the principle term that is under dispute in this debate.

          • wysinwyg says:

            It’s not an argument about semantics, it’s that I don’t understand your argument at all because you haven’t clearly defined (actually you haven’t at ALL defined) what you mean by the principle term that is under dispute in this debate.

            I’ve actually spent a lot of time explaining how I’ve used the term. I’m not using a rigorous definition, but then most usages of words are not based on rigorous definitions. Language is inherently fuzzy. And considering how much time and effort I put into explaining my usage of the term, I think my meaning is sufficiently clear; any lingering uncertainty could easily be clarified by asking me the specific questions that you are unsure of my views on.

            However, you’ve given me no indication that you want to understand perspectives other than your own. Instead, your conduct suggests to me that you just want to score points against people whose views disagree with your own. My expectation is therefore that if I bend over backwards to help you understand what I’m saying, you will still misinterpret what I’m saying so that you can feel justified in concluding that I’m just talking a bunch of shit and you can ignore me to defend your own tottering worldview.

            I’m not interested in playing that game with you. Toodles.

          • SD000 says:

            @wysinwyg

            Maybe I’m missing something but the only thing I’ve found close to a definition was the idea that it refers to “policies that cluster around [Reagan’s] policy-space” which isn’t really that helpful.

            You also comment that Bernie Sanders is near the neoliberal “policy-space” which is just… completely and utterly absurd to say the least. I think we can both agree that only the most far, FAR left of leftists would describe Bernie Sanders anywhere close to a neoliberal. (Though I completely agree with you that Obama can be fairly categorized as a neoliberal – not to the extent of Bill Clinton, of course).

            Also – just as a sidenote – Sumner isn’t this right-wing conservative bogeyman that you make him out to be. He’s actually said many, many times that he identifies much more closely with the modern Democratic party than the Republican party. He’s part of the George Mason school of economists (though he doesn’t actually teach there) who practice the closest thing to mainstream libertarianism.

            Your examples of neoliberals have all been leaders of the U.S. and UK. So, maybe there is something associated with leading those two countries that you are referring to, rather than the neoliberal ideology?

            Who would you consider closer to the neoliberal policy-space, Sarkozy or Hollande? Sarkozy was far more pro-business and anti-regulatory, but Hollande has been involved in far more foreign military intervention.

          • Tracy W says:

            I am using the term indexically to identify the set of policies associated with public figures who are inarguably neoliberal and arguably canonical examplars of the ideology: Reagan and his administration, Thatcher, etc.

            Did Reagan or Thatcher ever actually identify themselves as “neoliberal”?

            And, if we are defining ” neoliberalism” as something like “whatever Thatcher or Reagan did”, then, well Thatcher and Reagan only led two countries of the world for a period that ended in the early 90s. Any policy applied outside those two countries or before or after their respective times in power can only be neoliberalism if it is the same as what Thatcher or Reagan did. So for example a flat rate of tax is not neoliberal.

      • Anonymous says:

        This guy had some pre-determined conclusions (neoliberalism is good, leftists are bad)

        Of course he did. Don’t you? Or are you seriously advocating that people should discard their priors every morning or something similar?

    • gbdub says:

      The term “austerity” seems way too loaded to be useful in these discussions. It implies a conscious choice between being kind and generous and being miserly.

      To me “austerity” is more like “asceticism” or “frugality” – you’re austere not because you can’t possibly be more indulgent, but because you choose to be for various moral reasons.

      Ancient Sparta was “austere”. Modern Greece is “broke” – it’s not clear that they could raise the needed funds to sustainably spend more if they wanted to (and based on past performance, they do want to).

    • I don’t think Sumner’s ‘neoliberal’ metric is very helpful. But before joining the EU, Greece had been much more orthodox in its economic policies than since joining the EU. https://pseudoerasmus.com/2015/02/23/greece-orthodoxy-peronism/

      • Carl Churchill says:

        I’ve always wondered what your preferred definition of neoliberal was. Do you have one that you think most could / should agree on?

    • Tatu Ahponen says:

      No matter what one things about neoliberalism, orthodoxy or so on, the thing is that a quick look at Sumner’s list of links reveals that they do not, in fact, for the most part, claim that the Greek loan crisis *as such* was caused by Greece being neoliberal, but rather discuss European Union’s policies and the post-crisis policies as neoliberal. Thus, the whole thrust of Sumner’s entry is misleading, at best.

  54. Kevin says:

    Scott, I would be interested in your opinion on this article (relevant to various themes in this blog):
    How American Politics Went Insane

    I had very mixed feelings after reading it. The author makes a lot of pertinent observations, but I instinctively recoiled from all the suggested solutions. The article seems almost reactionary, in a subtle, insidious way.

    • Jill says:

      Trigger Warning: Left of Center views included in this comment.

      Yes, insidious is indeed the word. The author says”

      “I’m not talking about rigging the system to exclude challengers or prevent insurgencies.”

      That’s bs. Yes, the author is indeed suggesting “solutions” that would have this effect.

      “Our most pressing political problem today is that the country abandoned the establishment, not the other way around.”

      No, in fact, “the other way around”, is precisely what happened.

      Below is an article about what is really happening. Both parties have betrayed their voters. And that’s how Trump– and Bernie Sanders– got as popular as they did.

      How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable
      He’s no ordinary con man. He’s way above average — and the American political system is his easiest mark ever

      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-america-made-donald-trump-unstoppable-20160224?page=11

      As for the American habit of bashing government and politicians, the most recent wave of that started with Newt Gingrich in the 1990’s. This strategy won big in a Congressional election, so the GOP kept using it– not realizing how easy it was going to be for their own voters to start using it against them too, as political scientist Norm Ornstein, from the conservative American Enterprise Institute documents here.

      The political scientist who saw Trump’s rise coming
      http://www.vox.com/2016/5/6/11598838/donald-trump-predictions-norm-ornstein

      • Julie K says:

        “Our most pressing political problem today is that the country abandoned the establishment, not the other way around.”

        No, in fact, “the other way around”, is precisely what happened.

        Isn’t “the American habit of bashing government and politicians” synonymous with the country abandoning the establishment? Conversely, if “the establishment” abandoned the country, wouldn’t that be a good reason for a little government-bashing?

        • Nornagest says:

          Jill seems to think that American anti-government rhetoric is a cultural fact or an aspect of the American right wing’s long-term strategy. I disagree. I think it’s best understood at a tactical level.

          That is, politically engaged Americans almost always bash government institutions when, and only to the extent that, doing so serves their ideology’s near-term political goals. Left-wing examples include the recent meme of Congressional obstructionism and the Bush-era criticism of his “imperial presidency”. Right-wing examples include the perennial criticism of executive-branch bureaucracy (which leans heavily left below the level of Presidential appointments) or of “activist judges”.

          Note that these criticisms tend to evaporate exactly as soon as they no longer fit tactical needs (viz. Obama’s almost equally hawkish foreign policy, or the Heller or Hobby Lobby decisions).

      • Virbie says:

        > Trigger Warning: Left of Center views included in this comment.

        Yeesh, you put this on every comment? How very adult of you

      • TomFL says:

        I’ll be sure to read the Rolling Stone’s views on Trump because I have been searching for a well researched factually accurate balanced viewpoint and they are well known for providing this on controversial culture war subjects.

      • Glen Raphael says:

        @Jill:

        Regarding that vox link – you’ve posted it at least a half-dozen times and it doesn’t get more convincing with repetition. It’s essentially an interview with some random guy giving his opinion. Many of us think his opinion is wrong and he doesn’t really give any concrete evidence for it at your link, so…apparently we’re supposed to take his word for it? Or we’re supposed to assume he’s right because he’s from the conservative American Enterprise Institute?

        Part of the problem might be that you think everybody here is of the right and must find right-slanted news sources inherently convincing. Me, I’m a libertarianish person who had no prior knowledge of political scientist Norm Ornstein before you brought him up – did you? – and did not previously hold AEI in any special regard. (Now, if he were at Cato, I might take more notice… [grin])

        Apparently Mr. Ornstein has co-written some books with Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institute, most recently a 2012 book called It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism. Their shtick seems to be to claim that politics has gotten “more extreme” in recent years. On the face of it, that claim seems…implausible, but I haven’t read the book. Have you?

        Are you old enough to remember any elections prior to the 1990s? Have you looked into how contentious elections were in the distant past? Your source says Gingrich “delegitimized government” but I thought government was illegitimate prior to then based on sources a LOT older than the 1990s; I imagine Gingrich did too. Sources such as Lysander Spooner and Henry David Thoreau who lived and wrote in the mid-1800s. Or Friedrich Hayek who wrote in the 1940s. Or Milton Friedman, who was quite influential in the 1960s and 1970s.

        The Vox article seems to have some unstated premises, among them that government isn’t actually illegitimate and that there must be some particular recent person to blame for making us think it was. But what if those premises are wrong? What if (some) people (including lawmakers) believed government was illegitimate in the 1990s not because they were fooled by clever rhetoric but because they were convinced by good argument of something that was plausibly true? Or what if American suspicion of government power is a wave that periodically comes in and out of fashion, one which Gingrich surfed along briefly, only the latest of many?

        What if government is broken today – and bogged down in partisan bickering – for the same kinds of reasons it’s been similarly broken in the past? Or – since it takes two to make a disagreement – what if consensus has broken down due to the influence of especially popular firebrands from the other side such as Karl Marx or Saul Alinsky?

        Your link confirms that some random dude at a think tank believes X. That is only very weak evidence that the rest of us should believe it.

        So I have a link for you in response.

        “The idea that we can stop “fighting” doesn’t sit “hopefully” at the base of our national debate; it exists in the disagreeable imaginations of technocrats. Because “fighting” – or what people commonly refer to as “debating” — is driven by regional, historical, religious, cultural, philosophical, personal, and generational disagreements. Diversity.”

        Source: How Vox Makes Us Stupid

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      It seems like almost subtle satire. When someone is explicitly praising the Tammany Hall machine for it’s vote-buying practices that’s a sign that they’re deliberately trying to get a reaction.

      It also seems like the “problem,” that the strength of the poltical-media establishment is waning, isn’t exactly a bad thing. If you’re a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who writes for the Atlantic that sounds like a nightmare, but for those of us who have to live under the regime guys like him are a part of it’s a welcome breath of fresh air. He should be counting his blessings that the collapse of America’s political class seems likely to be a lot less bloody than that of any other aristocracy in history.

    • Sandy says:

      I read that yesterday and agreed with one of the comments that said the author seems to argue that any system that makes the trains run on time is worth preserving, even if it may cause widespread disaffection, anger and decay.

      Which, you know, if that’s the case, the author should just come out and say that he thinks issues of practicality should be prioritized over popular will. Which is a little reactionary.

    • Kevin C. says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s “reactionary”. First, I’ve seen plenty of articles on mainstream right-leaning outlets that can be essentially summarized as “Republican voters dangerously out of touch with their donor class”. And a suspicion of too-direct “democracy” and preference for more indirect “representative” governance has been a thread in American politics since the founding.

      Secondly, the criticism of “finance reform” that did not eliminate money in politics but merely shifted it underground from parties to a mass of varying groups seems pretty solid to me. It’s also something I’ve heard from supporters of both parties.

      Third, I know I’ve seen somewhere a Left-leaning writer make a defense of ethnic “machine politics” like Tammany Hall, on the argument that, while corrupt, it did a better job at 1) delivering government services and funds to ethnic minorities and their communities, and 2) integrating those minorities and their interests into the American political system, and ultimately society, than the less corrupt politics that followed.

      Elements of this article reminded me of some of the more left-leaning arguments for technocratic government I’ve seen, and more moderate than, say, Thomas Friedman’s comments looking admiringly on Chinese autocracy. In my experience, the idea that the precise details of regulation are best left to credentialed experts rather than the whims of whatever fraction of the electorate turns out to vote can be found on both sides of the political spectrum, but perhaps more on the Left. Basically, what happens when you accept some of the arguments of public choice theory about the (rational) ignorance and irrationality of the voters, but not the small-government libertarianism of many of the theorists.

      I was also reminded, a little, of some bits I read on Rod Dreher’s page by a Japanese commenter defending East Asian “dominant party” democracy, like Japan’s LDP, on the grounds that voting in such a system becomes a referendum on the quality of governance delivered, rather than on the details of regulation and of the methods by which the government delivered those outcomes, which are better left to technocratic experts. (As I recall, he looked upon the demographic doom of the Republican party as a step in the “right direction” for America, in hopes that elections would be about the quality of outcomes the Democratic party produces instead of Red vs. Blue tribe issues.)

      Probably the most “reactionary” bit I noted was the part about how “middlemen” last longer than the politicians, which echoes the classic complaint about how electoral politics shortens time horizons for government.

      Overall, though, the theme seemed to be along the lines of the old saw comparing the manufactures of legislation and sausages; that much which we condemn as corrupt, shady, or insufficiently transparent has turned out to be the means by which real-word politics hammered out compromises, greased the wheels of the system, and otherwise held the disparate political forces, interests, and personages together into a working government. Cynical, perhaps, but hardly reactionary.

      • Julie K says:

        Third, I know I’ve seen somewhere a Left-leaning writer make a defense of ethnic “machine politics” like Tammany Hall, on the argument that, while corrupt, it did a better job at 1) delivering government services and funds to ethnic minorities and their communities, and 2) integrating those minorities and their interests into the American political system, and ultimately society, than the less corrupt politics that followed.

        Megan McArdle wrote a column like that.

    • Emily says:

      I haven’t read this yet, but I read the author’s (free, short) book: http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports2/2015/05/political-realism-rauch
      I found it surprisingly persuasive.

    • onyomi says:

      (Posted in OT, reposted here, only to find someone had already posted, so reposting this again as a comment on it)

      A data point supporting my contention that Blue Tribe is more likely to believe that politics has “gone insane” as compared to some theoretical baseline of civility and smooth functioning. Somewhat refreshingly, however, this author doesn’t entirely blame Republicans, nor offer the typical solution, which is for Republicans to stop being obstructionist jerks and/or reform campaign finance so evil corporations can stop influencing our otherwise angelic legislators.

      Rather, the contention seems to be that the push for transparency which may be a result of fundamental hatred and distrust of the political class–resulting, for example, in far fewer “smoke-filled room”-type situations may actually ruin the political class’s ability to do its job without fear of being put under a partisan microscope for every decision.

      I have mixed feelings on this: on the one hand, I’m generally anti-democracy. I don’t think the voters know what’s good for them, and I think we sometimes get a better government than we deserve, sad as that is to say. Thus I view direct election of senators, for example, to have been a bad thing–if you’re going to have rulers you want them to be smart rulers who think long-term rather than bowing to every crazy idea “the people” can be manipulated to vote for.

      On the other hand, I’m totally “part of the problem” on this writer’s view, because I do hate the permanent political class and do think they should have the decency to be transparent if they are going to presume to rule us from a city which is far richer than it has any right to be. Though I probably differ from the average Red Tribe person who “hates” all the politicians in the sense that I don’t think the problem can be solved just by replacing our current bums with new bums.

      My problem with the article, and with the “politics has recently gone insane” narrative is that it assumes that democratic politics was, at some point, sane and smoothly functioning–or at least could be, and I’m not at all sure I accept that premise.

      • TomFL says:

        As I have gotten older I’ve become much less of a fan of some magical way of let’s just have the smart people select the best qualified leaders and then we will all be better off. Once the selection process becomes undemocratic in nature it seems to quickly veer into corruption, favoritism, and nepotism.

        I have absolutely become convinced that those who consider themselves the best and brightest (academia) are incapable of stopping groupthink and are especially vulnerable to the insular and negative effects of tribal communities. Let’s just say the funding of academia will never suffer if they are in charge.

        To sum it up, effective political leadership and intelligence are only loosely correlated. I’m all for them designing my nuclear power plants, but addressing systemic social problems not so much.

        That being said, the difference in outcomes between our current system and throwing darts at a phonebook might be difficult to discern.

        • gbdub says:

          I think we need to round up all the smart nerds with severe social anxiety, scrupulosity issues, and deep-seated imposter syndrome, and force them to rule us. They’re the smart people most likely to double-check their work.

          • Nornagest says:

            I think I’ve met too many smart people with severe social anxiety, scrupulosity issues, and deep-seated imposter syndrome to think that’s a good idea. The scrupulosity, especially, often manifests itself as adherence to ideology well past the point of reasonable caution.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Lo and behold, being diagnosed with autism nets you a position as a lawmaker. It shall not be long before the clever and ambitious start bribing psychiatrists now.

          • gbdub says:

            I guess I should have deployed the /mostly a joke tag?

          • Anonymous says:

            Preface with a joke warning next time.

          • Randy M says:

            Our joke warning technology is clearly not advanced as our trigger warning technology.

          • onyomi says:

            Technocracy is definitely not my preferred system. My preferred system is “privatize literally everything and let the consumer rule his own world,” i. e. ancap. But I also think Singapore works much better than Greece.

          • Luke Somers says:

            This country faces a joke tagging gap?

            /50 years too late

          • Nornagest says:

            There is a spectre haunting Europe: the spectre of memes.

          • Psmith says:

            Stossel

            anti-liberal

            Well, OK then. (You do mean John Stossel, right?)

            What makes your breed not funny?

            Compared to what, The Daily Show?

            So many of you have so little life experience outside schools and corporations.

            He graduated from Stanford in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications. He said he began thinking about entering politics while at Stanford,[6] where he and his brother launched their first campaigns and won student senate seats, tying for the highest number of votes.[4] [….] Castro entered Harvard Law School in 1997 and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 2000.[15][16] His brother graduated from both schools with him.[6] After law school, the two brothers worked for the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld before starting their own firm in 2005.[17]

            If this is a Straussian attempt to claim that a stodgy, insular progressive consensus dominates mainstream Western intellectual and political life, congratulations, well done.

        • cassander says:

          >Once the selection process becomes undemocratic in nature it seems to quickly veer into corruption, favoritism, and nepotism.

          good thing democracy manages to fix that problem then!

          In all seriousness though, the problem you’ve identified is not a problem of non-democratic politics, it’s a problem of politics period. the solution, in so far as there is one, is to rely on politics as little as possible.

    • Ken Arromdee says:

      It’s not clear that some of those things are bugs rather than features. For instance, there are cases where I want interest groups to tear apart a compromise, because the interest group has at least a chance of representing my interests while the “compromise” is just between two different ways of screwing me over (see: TPP).

      And several of these complaints amount to “it’s harder to bribe politicians”.

    • Walter says:

      I found that article hilarious, to be honest. Not on content, but on style.

      Like, the most persuasive Slate The Atlantic can do is whine about bigotry, right? That’s their trump card, what they reach for when they need to pound one home. Fine, sure. But in this article they need to go full ractionary. Like, this article is basically exactly Voldbug’s point about politics vs. democracy.

      So, what’s to be done? Their only tone is exactly not suited for this content? What else? Forge ahead! They present…the social justice case for autocracy! It is exactly as great as it sounds.

      So we get the idea of middlemen as a persecuted minority. The ‘war on middlemen’. ‘ Neurotic hatred of the political class is the country’s last universally acceptable form of bigotry.’ The whole thing is great. The general theme is that the destruction of corruption is unfair.

      • Psmith says:

        Like, this article is basically exactly Voldbug’s point about politics vs. democracy.

        Yep. Also, it’s The Atlantic, not Slate.

        Insofar as I agree with the author that rule by elite is basically a good thing and current political trends represent an attack on it–which is not all that far–elites can still forfeit the Mandate of Heaven.

      • Anonymous says:

        In the past week alone that makes three last acceptable forms of bigotry articles from center-left middle brow news magazines– the other two were stupid people and fat people.

    • Garrett says:

      I keep looking for what Republicans in Congress have achieved, in terms of their stated goals, or the goals of their constituents. I keep finding nothing, in broad terms.

      In 2008 when Democrats swept the White House, the House and Senate, I kept hearing over and over again “elections have consequences”, and the Democrats proceeded to enact the ACA, gays in the military, etc. They made great strides (well, at least some strides) in advancing their political agenda.

      In 2010 the Republicans regained control of the House and 2014 control of the Senate. Other than shrinking Federal spending by a few percentage points via the sequester (almost by accident), there hasn’t been any achievement of results. Getting rid of “Crony Capitalism” by eliminating the Export/Import bank literally required the Republicans to do nothing; it would expire automatically if not renewed. And yet the Republicans weren’t able to do that. Instead, they’ve been coming up with a set of votes on the ACA with the express purpose of allowing their members to say they voted against it without actually accomplishing anything. I may have missed something, but I don’t see the Republicans actually advancing their stated political agenda when they have control over the legislature.

      If the Republican party is unwilling or unable to actually make their stated policies a reality, what are voters of that political leaning to do? They’ve view the system as a choice between evil and ineffective. So the solution of blowing the system up makes a lot of sense.

      • cassander says:

        >I keep looking for what Republicans in Congress have achieved, in terms of their stated goals, or the goals of their constituents. I keep finding nothing, in broad terms.

        Until last year, republicans controlled one house of congress. the democrats had the presidency and the senate. Holding the line was more than could be expected.

        >Instead, they’ve been coming up with a set of votes on the ACA with the express purpose of allowing their members to say they voted against it without actually accomplishing anything

        No, they haven’t.

        >And yet the Republicans weren’t able to do that.

        Most republicans did do nothing. A few teamed up with the democrats to do something.

  55. Jill says:

    Trigger Warning: Left of Center views included in this comment.

    Regarding this:

    “Motherboard has an article about how censorship on Reddit – it points out that Reddit moderators heavy-handedly censored discussion of the Orlando shooting in unspecified ways, then goes on to condemn it for Donald Trump memes and anti-Hillary conspiracy theories. But it never mentions the whole point of the story it’s reporting about – that Reddit actually censored any information that the shooter was Middle Eastern or motivated by Islamic terrorism.”

    Yes, they could have gotten more specific about the actual way that Reddit was censoring info about the Orlando shooting– if the author even knew that at the time the article was written. But if Reddit is full of “Donald Trump memes and anti-Hillary conspiracy theories”, then this has a much greater impact on our society than the fact that Reddit censored information that the shooter was Middle Eastern or was motivated by Islamic terrorism. And it is also something that readers would not know, without reading the article.

    Apparently Scott found out the specific way that Reddit censored information about the shooter, from some other source. And you could read anywhere that the shooter was indeed of Middle Eastern descent, so everyone did know that.

    The new info, and thus the info perhaps most important to communicate in the article, was the Trump vs. Hillary info. If you are a Trump supporter and/or a Hillary basher, it may seem unimportant to know that Reddit is full of Trump support and Hillary bashing (Isn’t almost everything such a person reads full of that?) But if you are vice versa, or even if you are neutral re: these candidates, then that is significant information you can learn from the article.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      But if Reddit is full of “Donald Trump memes and anti-Hillary conspiracy theories”, then this has a much greater impact on our society than the fact that Reddit censored information that the shooter was Middle Eastern or was motivated by Islamic terrorism.

      What? How?

      Even putting aside every issue except for the election, which I am loathe to do, whether or not Orlando is seen as an act of Islamic terror is an important question. If major websites censor that information, it means that candidates with a stronger stance on Islam are at a one-hand disadvantage compared to those with a history of apologia for acts of terror.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Just to give an example of how well-poisoning this is:

        The idea has recently been floated that we should stop printing attackers’ names to reduce the fame motive. My immediate thought was that the actual motivation was to hide that this guy was a Muslim. Indeed, it is a regular feature of right-wing media criticism to note how far down Muslim (or Democratic) affiliation is buried in negative stories, and contrast that with how whiteness or potential Tea Party affiliation tends to lead the story.

        I think the actual idea has merit. I don’t trust it will be applied when an attack comes along that can be blamed on right-wingers. Like religious freedom, it will only be for Muslims.

        • Sweeneyrod says:

          I don’t think news stories on white mass shooters emphasise that fact — hence the comments I read shortly after the event assuming Jo Cox’s murderer was Muslim. Later “think pieces” emphasise both whiteness and Muslimness, but initial news doesn’t in my opinion.

        • Adam says:

          You know, if there was seriously some attempt to suppress this fact, all I can say is whoever tried did a horrible job. I haven’t paid attention to news in about six years, I cut myself off completely from all social media three months ago, and basically spend my Internet time reading technical manuals and maybe taking a Coursera course (I check in here at SSC maybe once a month or so), but I happen to read Watchers on the Wall for Game of Thrones news and one of the comments right before episode 8 was from a guy in Orlando mentioning he was sad because someone had just shot up a club, so of course I Googled. I didn’t actually read any of the links, just the headlines and descriptions, and still knew the guy was Muslim. Actually, that’s probably the only fact I know about the guy.

          To show how disconnected and apathetic I am at this point, I didn’t even realize until yesterday that Britain was considering leaving the EU, but still, the first thing I found about this shooter dude is he’s Muslim.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            You know, if there was seriously some attempt to suppress this fact, all I can say is whoever tried did a horrible job.

            That doesn’t mean they weren’t trying to suppress it, of course. We’re talking about amateur unpaid Reddit mods here; there’s no reason to think they’d be more competent at suppressing information than they are at anything else.

            I don’t have a solid opinion on whether they were or were not trying to shape the narrative, but it’s funny how often these “bugs” and automatic moderation issues always end up pointing in the same direction.

          • Outis says:

            The FBI (read: the current administration) went as far as releasing an edited transcript of Mateen’s call to 911 where every mention of Islam or the Islamic State was omitted. It was so obviously ridiculous that they had to release the unedited transcripts in the end, but the remarkable thing is that they even tried. You can gauge how hard they are trying to control the narrative not by the fact that they have failed, but by the desperate attempts they’re making.

          • Anonanon says:

            The very best part was editing all the deity references into “God”, as if people wouldn’t notice the context.

            “prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God. God Akbar!”

            Obviously some kind of crazed misoggynist Star Wars fanatic.

          • Nornagest says:

            That’s pretty blatant. Suspiciously shoddy work, though. The FBI isn’t stupid; they have to know that a hack job like that is going to leave obvious scars.

            Makes me wonder if there wasn’t some malicious compliance going on.

          • Hlynkacg says:

            Yes, praxis was on of my first thoughts as well.

          • Vorkon says:

            Makes me wonder if there wasn’t some malicious compliance going on.

            So, you’re saying it’s a trap?

            God Akbar, indeed…

          • ivvenalis says:

            There’s no way for an English speaker to translate الله أكبر as “God Akbar” instead of “God is Great” without being intentionally obtuse.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I don’t see either “God is Great”, “Allah Akbhar”, or “God Akhbar” in the transcripts. It looks like he didn’t use that in the phone call.

            The call starts with

            OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficent [Arabic]

            Which is pretty easily recognizable as an Islamic phrase to anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave. (TIL: the whole thing has a Unicode code point, U+FDFD)

    • eh says:

      Ocean acidification, gas pipelines, nuclear deterrence policy, and friendly AI are also said to have greater than usual impact on the world. Nevertheless, I would find it strange to read a discussion of censorship that meandered into discussing the relative merits of nuclear-armed AI on preventing ocean acidification by threatening to destroy gas pipelines. I would be especially concerned if the most egregious censorship was never discussed at all.

      I am also worried that the “significant information” that a reader will learn is that censorship is fine when the side you like does it, because those mean redditors hate Hillary anyway.

    • Nornagest says:

      Trigger Warning: Left of Center views included in this comment.

      Please don’t do this.

      • anon says:

        Agree with Nornagest. Your username/gravatar already accomplishes what this TW (if genuinely intended as such) is supposed to do, with less verbosity. So it’s clear to all that the TW itself is just snark — a preemptive counterattack to your critics, should you be AFK too long to respond to us crazy right wingers being Wrong on the Internet.

        • Hyzenthlay says:

          I just skip any comment with passive-aggressive, snarky trigger warnings (whether left or right of center), because I figure it will be more snark than content. So I guess the warning is actually pretty useful.

          • anon says:

            That’s an eminently reasonable policy. But personally I count myself among those who vehemently disagree with Jill on almost everything, but value her presence here, both as a moderating force and as an opportunity to study and hone skills of suasion. So I’d like her to keep contributing, just in a manner that will keep the dialog constructive.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Dito

          • Jaskologist says:

            Thirded. I just wish there were a way to take somebody aside quietly and give them a few pointers. As it is, it comes across as a bunch of people yelling “BOY THAT JILL SURE IS DUMB AND/OR NAIVE,” because there is no way to address her without broadcasting that to everybody. I can see how somebody might react poorly to that.

            But to get privmsgs, we’d need some sort of forum software, and who wants that?

          • Error says:

            @Jacksologist

            Or email. It used to be a thing, I hear. 🙁

          • gbdub says:

            The thing is, for the most part that wasn’t even the sort of post that got Jill criticized in earlier threads. She had a habit of posting long screeds that were extremely one-sided and/or so uncharitable as to border on conspiracy theory (highlights with minor but fair paraphrasing: Republicans dominate current American politics (therefore any decline in the discourse is mostly their fault), Newt Gingrich popularized criticizing the “political establishment” (before that it was mostly unheard of), libertarians believe that the rich should pay a zero tax rate for the roads etc. they use and that poor people deserve to starve to death). Basically, a quality of argument equivalent to the worst of the Salon online editorial section.

            She was justifiably criticized for these posts, but seemed oblivious to the fact that it was the nature of the posts themselves, rather than the political slant, that resulted in harsh criticism. Actually, she seemed confused as to why anyone would object at all – after all, she was merely stating “the facts” from a left wing point of view. That she has chosen to respond with snarky trigger warnings suggests that she took exactly the wrong lesson to heart. Which is frustrating because she also makes other posts of a reasonable quality and I’m therefore loathe to label her a troll or to suggest she has nothing of value to contribute.

            Anyway I’m writing this not to pile on but to explain myself to Scott et al, because I did report the trigger warning comments and I’m not sure how far back Scott would go to check the validity of that without further comment, and I also don’t want to come off as unfair to a post that’s pretty innocuous apart from the initial snark.

          • Seneca says:

            @gbdub
            Honest, non-snarky question. Which of Jill’s posts do you find high-quality?

          • gbdub says:

            Well, define “high quality”? I disagree with most of them, so I’m probably biased (or maybe being overcharitable in response to bias).

            I’m not sure how many I’d label “high quality”. But “reasonably in line with most commenters who don’t get banned”? A decent percentage. If I scroll through this thread most of her posts are, if we remove the trigger warnings, reasonable (if still slanted in her link selection to lowish-quality sources). If we ban everyone with a bias there will be no one left.

          • TD says:

            Have any of you double and triple checked your feelings to see if it’s really Jill’s presentation and not her mainstream progressive stance that’s bothering you?

          • Anonymous says:

            @gdub: Look at how comments from a right-wing perspective are treated here.* There’s nowhere near the same level of objection.

            *or even, snark directed at the left instead of the right.

          • onyomi says:

            Personally, my main problem with Jill is just TL;DR. I sort of value the opportunity to discuss with a very mainstream, progressive/Blue Tribe opinion, but most of her posts are so long I skip right over them.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Rereading, I realize that it’s not clear who I was agreeing with. I’m with the anon, in that I’d rather see Jill stick around.

          • Gbdub says:

            If somebody came in here and exclusively quoted Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, linked only Breitbart and Daily Caller, I’d expect they’d get pushback. Maybe not the same volume, but pushback. Particularly if they repeatedly went on about “what progressives really believe is…” despite responding to progressives who believe nothing of the sort.

            Maybe I’m guilty of this standing out to me more because my beliefs are the ones being badly described, but I do think we strive to attain a higher level of discourse than that and I would hope things on the right get called out as well. I’m fine with that standard applying to me.

            TL;DR: 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

            EDIT: to be clear, I want Jill to stick around. Just to ease up on the “argument from my opponent is a lizard person”. Tell me your views and why you have them, don’t waste paragraphs weak manning mine.

          • Anonymous says:

            Maybe not the same volume, but pushback.

            They wouldn’t get a 20-comment thread devoted solely to discussing the propriety of what might be uncharitably interpreted as misapplied humor, I’m betting.

          • Nornagest says:

            Pink anon, I might be better disposed to that view if I’d ever seen anything out of you that wasn’t complaining about the political slant of this board.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @gbdub:
            “Maybe I’m guilty of this standing out to me more because my beliefs are the ones being badly described”

            Yes, this.

          • Gbdub says:

            @HBC – farther down thread you admit essentially the same possibility for you, so I’ll consider myself in good company 😉

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @gbdub:

            True. True. Well, I don’t want to claim myself as good company. 😉

          • lvlln says:

            Just one example, but as someone who broadly agrees with most of Jill’s expressed political views and identifies myself as very much belonging in her tribe, I find her comments to be some of the lowest quality on this blog, and I think she deserves every bit of the push back she’s been getting. So my intuition is that the push back she’s getting is more related to the quality of her posts than the positions she’s espousing.

            That said, I do think the positions she’s espousing play a factor in the way that people here who are more right of center push back against her. I just think whatever effect that has is utterly dominated by the effect from her posts being incredibly uncharitable and narrow minded.

          • keranih says:

            For what it’s worth, up until this thread, I would have said the average quality of Jill’s posts were improving.

            It still greatly annoys me that she dismisses the liberal side of the commentariant as though they did not exist. This is my largest beef with her.

      • Vorkon says:

        Yeah. Here’s the last thing I remember Scott having to say about trigger warnings, for instance:

        https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/05/30/the-wonderful-thing-about-triggers/

        Basically, trigger warnings can be a useful tool, but when you start misusing them, they become counterproductive.

        • Seneca says:

          As well as the fact that using mocking trigger warnings is the ultimate in “punching down,” making fun of people who honestly benefit from real trigger warnings.

          • Julie K says:

            I don’t think they’re the target here, though. I read it as more like, “Just as people who have suffered real trauma could be triggered by a reminder of the trauma, you guys are so benighted that you will freak out if you are exposed to my ideas.”

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @Nornagest:

        I agree this shouldn’t be done. Jill, please don’t do this. It harms your ability to effectively communicate. If you aren’t here to engage in effective communication, that’s against what are supposed to be this communities’ norms.

        On the other hand, I feel I’ve seen this kind of thing here often, just reversed politically. There are frequent small little pokes at those who are left inclined. I would like those to stop as well.

        It’s probably also fair to question whether I have some combination of confirmation and recall bias. I don’t think that is the case, but then I wouldn’t, would I?

        • Anonymous says:

          I would like those to stop as well.

          I would go further. I would like to see the right-leaning commenters get the beam out of their own eye before anyone else modifies their commenting style to accommodate them.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Anonymous:
            I am a left-wing commentor. I strive to keep the beam out of my own eye, to the extent that I can. And I still want Jill to “engage instead of enrage.”

            You are trying to map this onto one axis (left vs. right). It’s tempting to do that, but I think this is the wrong way to look at it.

          • Anon says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I strive to keep the beam out of my own eye, to the extent that I can.

            And you succeed – in my view you’re one of the most consistently interesting, pleasant, and reasonable commenters here. Also the only significantly left-wing commenter in my (very selective) group of favorite commenters.

            – T. random anon

          • anon says:

            “You are trying to map this onto one axis (left vs. right). It’s tempting to do that, but I think this is the wrong way to look at it.”

            This is what’s so Colmes-y about you. You like the 10 to 1 ratio. They know you ll only return fire gently. Never land a blow.
            And then guide others “to cool down” if they get too close to pointing out the poison atmosphere around here.

            “On the other hand, I feel I’ve seen this kind of thing here often, just reversed politically. There are frequent small little pokes at those who are left inclined. I would like those to stop as well”

            As ever. Break it to them gently, HBC.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @anon:

            Ooh, a Colmes blast. I think I am supposed to be deeply offended.

            I really have no knowledge of Colmes other than that he serves to be a useful punching bag for Hannity. Hannity is a buffoon, or at least plays the part, so if Colmes manages to stick around on the show, he must be so ineffectual as to be risible.

            If you think I argue poorly (rather than merely in a manner that promotes dialogue as opposed to, say, shouting) that is one thing. But that isn’t what you appear to be saying. Rather you seem to be saying that I am not sufficiently tolerant of poor argument from my own side.

            If I was in a political battle, that is probably sound advice. I don’t think that is what I am engaged in, though. I am not trying to marshal a majority coalition. Rather I am trying to effect the norms of this particular space, which requires a certain kind of near unanimity of the polity, and I have no actual power other than the power of persuasion.

        • Wrong Species says:

          There isn’t really a way to say this charitably but I don’t think Jill cares about how effectively she is communicating.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            That’s always possible, but it’s not my impression.

            I do think she views the situation a little bit like “the earth is round” though. If you had heard of flat-earthers, but not encountered any of their arguments, it wouldn’t be abnormal to not engage with a great many of their arguments, especially if you yourself weren’t deeply familiar with all the reasons why we know the earth to be roughly spherical in shape.

            And if you weren’t very well grounded in the information domain, you would probably make a fair number of mistakes in trying to explain why the earth is round. When the flat-earthers tried to point this out you might ignore (intentionally and unintentionally) their points, especially if you having a very large number of questions thrown at you.

            It’s not perfectly analogous, but I think it’s far more likely to explain what we see than “no desire to communicate”.

      • For what it’s worth, I think people have been nasty enough to Jill that a snarky trigger warning is an appropriate level of pushback.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          Yes. A good middle level, acknowledging the nasty level stuff but not engaging with it. Though by now she might consider a TL;DR version.

    • lvlln says:

      The new info, and thus the info perhaps most important to communicate in the article, was the Trump vs. Hillary info. If you are a Trump supporter and/or a Hillary basher, it may seem unimportant to know that Reddit is full of Trump support and Hillary bashing (Isn’t almost everything such a person reads full of that?) But if you are vice versa, or even if you are neutral re: these candidates, then that is significant information you can learn from the article.

      As a Hillary supporter who bashes Trump all the time, I don’t see how this is true? Admittedly, I’m not in love with Hillary – I’m a Bernie supporter who accepts that Hillary is the candidate who best represents my views and also is the only shot at preventing Trump from being POTUS – but the knowledge that users of Reddit produce and popularize pro-Trump or anti-Hillary memes is roughly worthless to me. A lot of pro-Trump and anti-Hillary people exist on the Internet and post on Reddit, one of the most popular sites of the Internet? Some of them have even found ways to game the algorithms to spread their message more efficiently than others? You don’t say!?

      On the other hand, that Reddit was censoring information about the Orlando shooter being Muslim tells me something very important about Reddit’s moderation practices. I expect Reddit and other similar forums to censor, of course, for the purposes of maintaining the community and preventing it from devolving into flame wars. But I don’t expect such censorship to extend to statements of provable fact. And in this context, the provable fact that was being censored seems obviously politically motivated, which is also something I don’t expect (Maybe “expect” isn’t the right term – based on what I know of Reddit, I do kinda expect it, but it’s not something I desire from Reddit or similar sites). So the fact that Reddit is censoring provable facts, apparently in order to push a specific political agenda, is very much of interest to me. It helps me to determine how much time and effort I should invest into participating in that site, particularly around controversial issues.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Reddit is a bunch of subcommunities, and many of them are led with political beliefs that they think are Provably Right.

        • gbdub says:

          True, but that doesn’t mean we ought to ignore censorship of r/news, which is not supposed to be that sort of subcommunity (or if it is, goes out of its way to not advertise that fact).

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        Agreed. I’m pro-Hillary and anti-Trump and the Reddit biased censorship thing was much more interesting to me.

      • Nonnamous says:

        How can that surprise anyone? Already in 2007 reddit had a doodle with the reddit alien holding a Soviet flag.

      • MugaSofer says:

        Since neither Scott nor the article is going into detail on this:

        Some of the moderators on /r/news, the main news subreddit – “ordinary” users not theoretically affiliated with Reddit the company – began censoring all content related to the shooting after it became clear that the shooter was Muslim. The exact motivations and individuals involved are unclear because they closed ranks and issued a non-apology afterwards.

        The moderators on /r/AskReddit, a subreddit theoretically unrelated to news, stepped up and hosted a megathread for discussion on the topic; while /r/The_Donald posted links to news stories. Both became the center for news on the topic on the front page, but the /r/news moderators had successfully suppressed it for several hours.

        In practice, this meant that many reddit users only learned about the shooting when people on other social media sites contacted them. There was, understandably, outrage, but no official action was taken against the /r/news moderators (there rarely is.) It didn’t actually accomplish anything beyond pissing more or less everybody off (info on how to donate blood was suppressed, for example), but it’s pretty shocking that it would even be attempted.

        EDIT: It’s worth noting that some people suggested the censorship was a deliberate attempt to hurt gay people, which strikes me as extraordinarily implausible but might explain Scott’s mysteriously cryptic article thinking it was somehow right-wing.

        • brad says:

          In practice, this meant that many reddit users only learned about the shooting when people on other social media sites contacted them.

          This sentence doesn’t say very good things about reddit users.

          • meyerkev248 says:

            Well, how DO you find out about things these days?

            It used to be Radio and TV* when you got around to turning them on, these days it’s “Trending news”.

            * And I really do think we lost something there.

          • brad says:

            When I woke up Sunday morning I had iOS notifications from the NYTimes and Bloomberg apps telling me about the shooting. Then with my morning coffee I perused the New York Times website, just like my dad used to read the New York Times newspaper with his morning coffee when he was my age. Not too much later I got into the car to go somewhere and heard more about the shooting on NPR.

            I found out about news from news organizations. Go figure.

          • Outis says:

            A whole Internet at your disposal, and you get all your news from the official mouthpieces of the US government?

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I haven’t hung out on Reddit much in about a year, but my sense is that one of the things that they frequently have to fight is what I might call “market panic”.

        It’s worth remembering that one of the very bad events associated with Reddit was their amateur sleuthing in the Boston Marathon bombing leading to them mis-identifying someone as the bomber who subsequently turned up dead (don’t think it was related).

        Reddit seems to put on display some fairly awful flaws in human nature having to to do with herd behavior on a fairly regular basis. I think it’s fair to say that mods end up in a sort of bunker mentality because of this, and that may be all there is to this story.

        Looked at in another way, if they are regularly suppressing various (false) stories correctly, we won’t ever hear about the one they got right.

      • anon says:

        Because she’s talking about the great swathes of Americans who dont know what Reddit’s politics are?

        Right? Are all of you missing that? That America doesn’t know there are all of you. We’ve never had a rightwing egghead youth with so little life experience be so unmeasured in their stridency and obsessiveness of blame and accusation.

        You added up the costs of social justice and the benefits of libertarianism and made a gameplayer’s decision. Now you find yourself in the strange spot of living as a part-time rabble rouser on the internet. Ready to share and fight and predict and blame and blame and blame….

        • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

          Because she’s talking about the great swathes of Americans who dont know what Reddit’s politics are?

          Ah, yes, the great swathes of America that have no idea about these subjects and read Motherboard, truly a silent mayority.

        • Julie K says:

          Why should I care what Reddit’s politics are? Are they a particularly influential group, or a bellwether, or something?

    • eyeballfrog says:

      The thing is, this wasn’t an isolated incident. It was simply a particularly egregious example of a trend of politically-biased censorship of r/news. Given that r/news is the officially-sanctioned news board of a major site, this kind of partisan moderating is a serious concern.

      • Winfried says:

        People have been complaining about censorship of posts and subreddits that paint ethnic minorities, Muslims, and the left in general in a negative light for quite some time.

        Some of those complaints are baseless paranoia, but I’ve seen enough evidence of behind the scenes manipulation of posts to “correct” narratives in other areas that I’m not surprised to see it happen, just that it was so blatant and on such a huge event.

    • Outis says:

      Jill, you are essentially arguing that instead of getting bogged down in reporting the facts of the news at hand, it is much better for journalists to segue as soon as possible into the really important things they have to say, for the edification of readers.

      I think that is a very interesting perspective. The things that we consider examples of bad journalism are in fact desirable and virtuous to you. We thought journalism was so bad because journalists are incompetent, but perhaps they are just trying to do something completely different from what we think they should be doing.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        I missed that, but your version here gets at a point about discussion levels in fori like ssc. Iirc in a discussion about ACA, she said something like: ‘This is important because medical bills are the greatest cause of bankruptcy.’

        This brought on a long thread about the exact percentages shown by different lists etc etc. If she had said “a major cause” or even “an important cause”, our discussion might have continued at the level Jill was interested in — ie accepting that medical bills were a factor worth considering in the higher discussion, and going on with the higher discussion.

        What actually followed was a long low-level comparing of percentages etc. Is that what’s meant by ‘into the weeds’, or ‘down the rabbit hole’?

        • Jiro says:

          It’s not as if she was technically wrong because she didn’t get an exact percent. The wrongness was substantial.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @houseboatonstyxb:
          I think even that framing might have gotten pushback

          @Outis:
          An important job in journalism is (or perhaps should be) to place things in context. I think everyone is sick of the “breathless” headlines that are a regular part of journalism, and how they distort the actual meaning of the underlying facts. If someone claims that deaths due to farming implement collision on highways increased 100% in the county last year, I think it would be important for a journalist to report that they increased from 1 death to 2 (and were 5 the year before that).

          That obviously isn’t directly analogous to Jill’s argument, but it does illustrate that she has a fair general point about what we would like to see journalists do (whether or not it applies in this given case.)

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HBC

            There might be a factor of, ‘The triggers will continue until civility returns.’

  56. Seanny123 says:

    First, a correction. The article is not “Simulating The Brain? Let’s Try Donkey Kong First”, but “Understand the Brain? Let’s Try Donkey Kong First.”

    Secondly, it drives me crazy that when people talk about simulating the brain, they attack the bottom-up brain projects and then completely ignore the top-down approaches, like Spaun.

    • Ruben says:

      Well, the bottom-up approaches are relevant to a criticism of Age of Em, top-down isn’t.