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Open Thread 53.75

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever.

Also, a quick plug.

The Effective Altruism Global conference is happening from August 5-7 at UC Berkeley. EA Global is the fourth annual conference of Effective Altruism, a growing community based on using reason and evidence to improve the world as much as possible. This year will be the largest gathering in the history of the movement with around 1,000 attendees and over 50 speakers from around the world expected to attend.

Each year, EA Global attracts a cross-disciplinary community of people who spend much of their time thinking about how to make a difference. We aspire to create a forum for rigorous, lively discussion on some of the most important questions faced by humanity. For analytic thinkers with altruistic goals, EA Global will plug you into a like-minded community that you won’t find anywhere else.

Last year this event sold out, so apply soon if you’d like to attend. As a special offer to SSC readers, if you apply with this link, the organizers will give you a free copy of Doing Good Better (in digital or hard copy) as an introduction to EA.

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946 Responses to Open Thread 53.75

  1. Agronomous says:

    Ran across this in a Slate article defending Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s, um, comments on Donald Trump:

    After all, Donald Trump is not an ordinary presidential candidate, or an ordinary Republican. He is a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic bigot.

    The author might as well add, “…and this time, we’re telling the truth!”

    Abe: Bart, have you ever read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf?”

    Bart: Yeah, boy cries wolf, has a few laughs; I forget how it ends.

    I know it’s wrong, but (as someone here put it) it’s getting harder and harder not to root for the Wolf. At least Congress might take a stand against expanded Presidential powers if the President’s name is “Trump”.

  2. anony says:

    I՚m dealing with a close relative, a young man, who has Asperger՚s and some related problems, and has recently announced he՚s transgendered. I՚m skeptical of the whole transgender thing in general and in his case in particular. I thought this community might have some pointers to research or references on the intersection of Asperger՚s and gender dysphoria or whatever. The obvious google searches didn՚t turn up much. Thanks in advance for any help.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      In what sense are you skeptical of it? Do you think that people who claim to experience gender dysphoria are lying, or that transitioning is unlikely to help them, or what?

      • anony says:

        Well that is a long story. Whatever my level of skepticism, I have to say I don’t have a great deal of knowledge or understanding of the phenomenon and so my beliefs are lightly held. I don’t think anybody is lying, but anything like this is a matter of interpretation — and no, the person involved doesn’t have unquestionable authority to interpret what is going on with them.

        My own skepticism has political roots — I find that transsexualism seems designed to reinforce gender stereotypes rather than subvert them, as was the ostensible goal of late-20th-century feminism. This is not a very original complaint.

        On the other side of the political fence, there has been a lot of skepticism expressed by people like Steve Sailer and Gregory Cochran, some of it revolving around the controversy generated by a book by Michael Bailey. I’m a lot less inclined to be sympathetic to stuff from that side of the fence, but the highly political witch hunt that surrounded the book is the kind of thing that gives me pause and I think is the kind of thing that people here also are very sensitive to.

        As I said, whatever beliefs I have are held very lightly, but there is enough controversy around the topic to make me suspicious of the consensus view, and I’m not sure where to go to refine my beliefs.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          I still don’t quite understand what you’re skeptical about. Bailey’s book is skeptical that transwomen are telling the truth when the claim to be neither homosexuals nor autogynephiles. Is your skepticism along the same lines? It is evident that transgender people often act like a stereotype of their “chosen gender” (as do many cisgender people). Do you think they deserve condemnation for that? Or that it indicates that they are professing a gender insincerely?

          • anony says:

            You are weirdly reading my earlier posts as seeking to condemn transexuals for some kind of malfeasance. I’m not sure how you got that, but that isn’t my intention at all. I’m questioning the theory, not anybody’s actions.

            And even that questioning is pretty weak, since as I have said, my opinions are not strong ones. All I am saying is that I have some doubts about the current received wisdom about transsexuality and am trying to understand it better.

            Sorry if you want to have an argument, but I don’t have enough of a position for one.

  3. I’m comfortable with the singular they. I used to tink it was a sort of mental flexibility that went with being a science fiction fan (after all, ae and aer weren’t a problem), but there are a lot of science fiction fans who don’t like the singular they.

    I think I was used to it being part of spoken English (my background is Delaware/Philadelphia), and now I’m wondering whether there’s regional variation in whether people are comfortable with the singular they.

    So, are you comfortable with the singular they? Where did you grow up? If you didn’t grow up in an environment that included casual spoken English, does that matter for the singular they?

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m okay with the usage where the referent is generic or unknown. Where it’s a known person it just doesn’t sound right.

      “A lawyer should always carry a briefcase, they never know when they’ll get called to court.”
      vs
      “Mom is running late, they got stuck in traffic.”

    • hlynkacg says:

      I grew up in the north eastern US. Singular they/their feels perfectly natural to me and I don’t really understand other people’s hang-up with it.

    • blacktrance says:

      I’m in favor of singular they as long as it’s conjugated like plural they. But “they is” (fortunately rare) is unacceptable.

      • LHN says:

        In the previous historical parallel we got singular “you are” rather than “you art” when you replaced thou, so I suspect “they is” is unlikely to catch on.

    • Adam says:

      I grew up in Los Angeles and it feels normal to me. We, of course, have the honor of speaking unaccented normal American.

    • I’m uncomfortable with it. I grew up in Chicago, more specifically in Hyde Park, the University of Chicago area on the south side. I think my diction is more American Academic than it is Chicago.

  4. Ruprect says:

    I’m a British person from a long line of craftsmen and landowners.

    Is there any chance that my children will revert (or advance) to a similar mean as that of the Ashkenazi Jews?

    (I’ve got professors in my family. How can I tell if I’m as good as an Ashkenazi? If I bred with the daughter of a British Mathematician, would that help?)

    You’ve got a central European intellectual caste that evolved (the Jews) – but there is a separate British intellectual caste (the middle class) that is just as good (but not so readily distinguished.)
    If you calculated the number of nobel prizes won by the British middle class against their total population would it compare to the Ashkenazi figure? I think it would. It might even be better.

    I’ve always felt a kind of kinship towards the Jews.

    [OK – this might be completely mad, or racialist, or whatever, but I’m going to throw it out there – all of the Jewish people I’ve met seemed intelligent to me, but, normally intelligent. However, they really differed with respect to their personality/outlook. They seemed more enterprising/productive/engaged. Do Jewish people have a different personality, or is it just that their superior intelligence is interpreted (by schlubs) as a different personality type?]

    • dndnrsn says:

      Uh, how old are you/were they? Because there is a stereotype from, I don’t know, a few decades earlier of Jews (in the US at least) as having a real drive to prove themselves. But I went to a high school with a lot of Jewish kids about a decade ago, and I wouldn’t say there was some intelligence-distinct quality of productivity or whatever higher than for gentiles of equivalent intelligence. It could be a classic generational story of struggle where the generations that have it easier get lazy. And I’m pretty sure you can’t ascribe a personality type to a whole far-flung group like that – you could talk about American Jewish culture – but, say, Israeli culture is very different.

      You’re also making a mistake in only considering the average IQs of two groups – but such a large group as “English gentiles” or whatever makes more sense if you break it down further. And judging people’s intelligence by an average, not their own personal intelligence, seems like something you would want to avoid wherever possible.

      • Ruprect says:

        I’m 35 – I’m mainly thinking of the Jewish boys when I was at school/university (so about 15 years ago) – but my impression of Jewish people I’ve met since then, in business, is similar. I think difference in personality is often hard to put your finger on, but you can kind of sense it?

        “You’re also making a mistake in only considering the average IQs of two groups – but such a large group as “English gentiles” or whatever makes more sense if you break it down further. And judging people’s intelligence by an average, not their own personal intelligence, seems like something you would want to avoid wherever possible.”

        I think my major concern is the idea of reversion to the mean – like… both of my grandfathers were engineers, most of my uncles were engineers ( father Physics lecturer) – cousins with advanced degrees in Maths/Science etc. – my family seems intelligent. It doesn’t seem like some kind of individual freak.
        And it’s also depressing to me to think that we might be gradually devolving to the level of the average English person. I fucking hate those guys.
        I’d much rather think that we’re some sort of unrecognized Jews.

        • dndnrsn says:

          But what mean are you going to revert to? The mean for “all English gentiles” or the mean for your particular chunk of that group? To illustrate what I mean: Both sides of my family are smart, by any standard: professors, doctors, lawyers, engineers. I am probably a regression to the mean from my father – he is very smart across the board, and is very strong in positive qualities strongly correlated with IQ like work ethic, long-term planning, conscientiousness, impulse control, etc. I think he’s an outlier even in his family.

          In comparison, while there are some areas I don’t think I’m dumber than him in, my intellectual performance is a lot less even across the board (don’t even talk to me about visual processing, ugh), and to put it bluntly I’ve been kind of a screw-up at times. Of course, “cultural” factors have a lot to do with it too – he was the hard-working immigrant generation, and I’m the lazy second generation who doesn’t know how easy they have it.

    • Fork says:

      Let’s think about the nature of regression to the mean. Suppose we have a function ci that gives a child’s intelligence as a function of its mother’s genetic potential (xx) and its father’s genetic potential (xy). The form of the function is going to look something like this:

      c(xx, xy) = axx + bxy + r

      where r accounts for the non-genetic random factors that contribute to a child’s intelligence.

      Now let’s imagine we were to look at a population of especially bright children. We’d expect these children to have one or more of the following: intelligent mothers, intelligent fathers, and favorable random non-genetic factors accounting for intelligence. In fact, on expectation each of these 3 parameters is going to be elevated relative to the population average. In particular, especially bright children are likely to have rolled especially well in the “non-genetic random factors that contribute to a child’s intelligence” category.

      And that’s why you get regression to the mean–any children a bright person has will need to reroll for the “non-genetic random factors” parameter.

      Thus it seems reasonable to assume that the intelligence distribution of any child you had would be centered somewhere around the average intelligence of your family members and the average intelligence of your wife’s family members.

      Note: I’m not a statistician, or a geneticist, or even an advanced degree holder, and my explanation could be bollocks.

      • Adam says:

        I think you’re basically right. If Ruprect is looking back multiple generations at a whole bunch of uncles and great uncles and they’re all intelligent, that is the mean for his line. Regression to the mean is the observation that extraordinary individuals, i.e. someone who is 7’6″, is very likely going to give birth to children somewhere between that number and an average number.

        On the other hand, I think there is some danger to waiting this long. If you’re already 35, I wanna say there’s elevated risk of your kids being autistic? And, of course, if you breed with women also your age, there’s even more risk. Take it with a grain of salt, though. I’m reciting this from memory and could be remembering a single study that was later discredited.

    • Barry Cotter says:

      Regression to the mean stops after one generation and there’s a new population mean. Your family is quite obviously above average and has been for some time. You do not need to worry, particularly if your future mate is a mathematician.

      Population means are appropriate for dealing with populations. You are dealing with individuals, not populations and the information you have about them is a great deal more informative than the mean IQ of the population they belong to. Small qualification; look to a prospective mate’s class/education background. If they’re doing better than most of their family/parents there will, on average, be reversion to the mean.

      For more, better explained, read Gregory Clark, Son Also Rises.

  5. stargirlprincess says:

    Is anyone at Evolution 2016? Or watching the twitch stream?

    • Montfort says:

      I’ve been watching on and off – I don’t really care for most of the games this year, but SF and GG are always good.

      My preferred spectator “e-sport” is Counterstrike, though, partially because I’m better at it than I am at fighters, but I also think the high-level strategy is much more visible to non-experts.

  6. Catherine says:

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/06/16/things-that-sometimes-help-if-youre-depressed/ < I've read your article on depression and I was wondering if it's possible to have a similar article dealing with long term gastrointestinal health problems. For me, it all started with terrible abdominal pains, which after diagnosis of UTI and then PID and respective treatments resulted in terrible gastritis symptoms following taking of medicines, alternating diarrhoea/constipation symptoms, and which haven't recovered since, now coming up to two years.

    • Nadja says:

      Purely anecdotal, so please take it with a grain of salt, discuss with your physician, etc etc. I developed IBS in my late teens. It was bad enough to significantly impact my quality of life. Then, in my late twenties, I discovered that avoiding gluten solved most, but not all, of my GI problems. (Initially, this was very uncomfortable for me to admit, since I had previously subscribed to the “gluten sensitivity is basically made up” school of thought. I guess 10 years of lowered quality of life was the price I paid for my intellectual arrogance.) Finally, a year or so ago, as an experiment, I took mega dose probiotics developed by some guy in England. I took the stuff over the period of about 3 weeks, and I now no longer have IBS symptoms. I am back to eating gluten, too. The change was so incredible that it still boggles my mind whenever I think about it. Anyway, hope you’ll soon figure out a way to regain good GI health, too. Best wishes.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        How did you decide to blame gluten rather than some other part of wheat? eg, fructans?

        Catherine: try the FODMAP protocol. 1. get a list of FODMAPs. 2. eliminate them from your diet. 3. If that helps, try adding them back individually.
        But try active yogurt and probiotics first. They are much easier to try. They are more likely to have an effect, although if removing FODMAPs works, it will work very well.

        • Nadja says:

          I had no issues with leeks or asparagus, so I don’t think it was fructans. Also, no issues with things that contained wheatgrass, so it wasn’t a wheat allergy. I did have problems with non-wheat sources of gluten. It happened to me a couple of times that I ate things, which people told me were gluten free, then felt bad afterwards and discovered that the food was not actually gluten free but only wheat free.

          Anyway, it could have easily been something else, but related. I wasn’t too rigorous in my testing. Once I discovered a gluten-free diet mostly worked for me, I just stuck to it. Had I expected to recover with probiotics, I would have been much more rigorous in my n=1 experiment just to document things for the potential benefit of others.

          I did have one doctor do a blood test for gluten issues, but that was a couple of months into what I already believed to be a basically gluten-free diet, and the tests came out borderline, according to the doc. So nothing conclusive.

      • Psmith says:

        I took mega dose probiotics developed by some guy in England.

        Curious, link?

      • Charlie says:

        My family has a history of similar things – nut and wheat (for my dad and brother it’s distinctly worse for whole wheat – it’s not gluten) sensitivity developing in adulthood. Definitely interested to hear about your experience with probiotics.

        • Nadja says:

          Sure! I’m having problems putting in a link – maybe Scott’s spam filter doesn’t allow it. But search for Elixa probiotic, and you’ll see it. Just, you know, obviously do your own research before you take it, etc etc. I read some reviews online from people with IBS whom it didn’t help at all.

        • Nadja says:

          Test comment: Hm, I’m having problems posting either a link or even the name. I’m wondering if it gets filtered out. The guy who developed it is called Karl Seddon, so if you look for him, you’ll find it.

        • Nadja says:

          Testing: Hi! I tried posting a link, but the comments don’t seem to allow it, not even a name to search for. I’m going to try again later.

        • Nadja says:

          Scott’s spam filter got me for linking to products, but the guy who developed it is called Karl Seddon, so if you search for him, you can find it. Good luck!

    • Fork says:

      This site lets you find probiotics that have shown promise for various conditions (you’ll probably want “functional abdominal pain”, “constipation”, etc.) Individual studies aren’t worth a ton, but hey. This Amazon user wrote up a list of things to look for when you’re buying probiotics. He doesn’t cite studies, but I am reasonably confident he cares more about maintaining his top 50 reviewer ranking than shilling for supplement companies.

  7. sweeneyrod says:

    So, apparently there is a coup going on in Turkey. Thoughts?

    • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

      HAPP…ehm, does a coup count as a tragedy (and therefore subject to the 3 day rule)?

      • God Damn John Jay says:

        The rule is against politicizing tragedies, so we can discuss the Turkish coup, but we cannot discuss the Turkish coup’s effect on worker ants of a particularly virile variety.

        • Outis says:

          A coup is inherently a political act, so it doesn’t make sense to speak of politicizing it.

      • Nornagest says:

        Depends how bloody a coup, I think.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        I would say not. I think the intention behind the 3 day rule doesn’t apply here. Obviously it’s not my rule though.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hard to know who to root for on this one. Erdogan is increasingly authoritarian and illiberal, but was elected mostly fairly.

      • DavidS says:

        Yeah, does seem to be the classic ‘do you support democracy when you don’t like the results that much’

      • Tibor says:

        The NSDAP in Germany also won the elections largely democratically, the same for the communists, at least in Czechoslovakia. But they neither of them had an absolute majority (in free elections) and they seized power in small steps afterwards. I think that in both cases a military coup would have been more than justified (but both parties were smart enough to first take control of key positions in the military and the police…Erdogan did the same thing for the most part).

    • Vorkon says:

      That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

    • God Damn John Jay says:

      Erdrogan loses, minimal deaths, secularism is encoded into the legal system, lots of jobs and money for anyone who can mouth White Turk shibboleths.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Atlantic says that no one knows if it’s secularists or Gulenists (quite plausibly both).

        • sweeneyrod says:

          Either way could be an improvement. As I understand it, Erdogan has been moving towards Islamism, and while Gülen is an ex-imam, a brief read of his Wikipedia page suggests he is not in any way an Islamist — he’s written books renouncing terrorism, engaged in dialogue with Christians and Jews, and on the subject of feminism ‘he feels that extreme feminism, however, is “doomed to imbalance like all other reactionary movements” and eventually “being full of hatred towards men.”‘ (which puts him in approximately the centre of the SSC commentariat).

    • Sandy says:

      I thought Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism was going to get rid of Turkish democracy and bring back autocracy, but not this way.

    • Tibor says:

      I’ve just talked to two friends from Turkey. Obviously, they do not know that much, although one of them is now in Istanbul.

      From what he says, there is really not so much fighting going on and in fact many people think that Erdogan orchestrated the whole thing as a faux-coup to justify seizing even more power in his own hands and getting rid of the remaining opposition in the military. To me it sounds a bit too much like a conspiracy theory but I guess it is within the bounds of what is possible. What speaks for it is that after Erdogan’s call for the people to rise up against the military, the military did not try very much to defend their equipment and some of their tanks were taken over (this is what the friend from Istanbul told me). If that’s correct then it is indeed suspicious.

      If it is an actual coup, it might be a good thing for Turkey, or at least less bad than Erdogan (if they win). Especially they manage to pull it off without a bloodshed. The Turkish military has a history of coups against governments that deviate too much from secularism. I think it might even be their legal duty to do so. However, Erdogan tried/tries to limit their power and to put his own people into the military command so that this does not happen to him.

      In any case, it is too early to say anything. We’ll probably know tommorow.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        How much is “too much like a conspiracy theory”? Can you make sense of the past politics of Turkey without it sounding “like a conspiracy theory”? (even the past 3 years?)

        My impression is that when there is a crisis in Turkey westerners always dismiss the explanations provided by Turks as “conspiracy theories,” but then they come around to believe them. If that is an accurate accounting of history, then you should trust that track record and come around sooner (or refuse to ever come around).

        Either Turkish politics is open or it is secret. If it is open, you should have simple explanations of the past. If you can’t do that (perhaps because all your information is filtered through conspiracy theorists), then you shouldn’t expect ever to have an explanation of these events. If it is a bunch of conspiracies, then you should expect the correct explanation of these events to look like a conspiracy theory. But then there is the question of whether people can identify the correct conspiracy theory. People might just stick to the first story they thought of.

        • Tibor says:

          I am not dismissing it entirely. However, without additional information and given the frequency of coups in Turkey which tend to have the same justification (getting rid of a government that deviates too much from the path set up by Atatürk, most notably governments which are abandoning secularism, like that of Erdogan), the first assumption should bet that it was an actual coup.

          But on the second hand some things indeed do not seem quite right. This looks like to be the first coup in modern Turkish history which has failed. Erdogan has limited the army’s power and replaced some generals to make sure this does not happen but when it did it seemed at least at first to have a big momentum and being very well organized. Then Erdogan calls people into the streets, many of them do so and they manage to defeat the military (that seems really unlikely). So maybe at least a part of the military was not really supporting the coup and only wanted to provoke those who did to action.

          You are right that in a country like Turkey actual conspiracies are more likely. That is why I said yesterday that it is not outside the realm of possibility.

      • How is Erdogan supposed to have got the coup plotters on board considering he is now threatening to execute them?

        • Tibor says:

          There could have been a group of people in the military who actually wanted to organize the coup. That could have been discovered by the loyalists and infiltrated by the secret service. Then the conspirators would think they have an upper hand, start the coup only to find out that the Erdogan’s loyalists are well prepared and that they don’t have enough men. The result is way more dramatic than simply arresting people for a planned coup and therefore more useful for Erdogan if he wants to consolidate his power.

          • erenold says:

            This is pretty much exactly what Ngo Dinh Diem was trying to do, too. But he put his trust in the wrong generals and the fake coup became a real, successful one.

          • Tibor says:

            @erenold:

            Can you give me a source? Wikipedia mentions the coup but not that this was Ngo’s motivation. It would be interesting to see that this actually happens sometimes.

          • Anonymous says:

            Wikipedia talks about it.

    • BBA says:

      In Turkey military coups are a well-established part of the normal political order. With how Erdogan’s been acting I’m a little surprised it didn’t happen sooner.

      • Tibor says:

        Erdogan was well aware of that and got rid of many people in the military, replacing them by people loyal to his party and limiting the legal power of the army. Apparently, it should have happened sooner. It looks like there won’t be a chance in a long time now.

    • Acedia says:

      The narrative that’s currently emerging in the news, that it was only a very small part of the military, doesn’t make sense. If it was that small they never would have believed they could win. Either there were many more involved than the media is reporting (hence their confidence they could win), or it wasn’t a genuine attempt to take over and something else was going on.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        double cross?

      • John Schilling says:

        One cannot organize a secret conspiracy involving an army of half a million men, or even just their officers. One cannot afford to have your coup plans be anything but secret, until the day one is ready to act – civil war yes, coup no.

        One can take it on faith that the officers you haven’t been secretly talking to are of a mind with the ones that you have, such that when your division acts, they will back your play or at least not interfere. This is a gamble, but it is a gamble at the heart of pretty much every coup everywhere. The Gulenists(?) seem to have rolled those dice and lost.

    • ulucs says:

      God, I hate my country. At least everyone reasonable from all sides are rooting against the coup. We’ve seen this several times, coups are not good for democracy and liberty.

      The conspiracy theories are pretty much the standard. People really don’t believe in Erdogan. However, we’re also quite well educated in conspiracy theories. Seriously, ask any guy from Turkey about the Rothschilds and try to believe he’s not “red-pilled”.

      Calling civilians into the streets is really irresponsible from Erdogan’s side and I hope he does face justice for the lost lives from his call. Although the civilian movement against the coup forces is also quite impressive. Major pros for them to not encourage violence and just arresting the soldiers. This is the reason why you’ll never have a “should guns be banned?” argument in Turkey.

      God, what a bad day. Everyone in Turkey loses from this, whatever the outcome.

      • Anonanon says:

        > Major pros for them to not encourage violence and just arresting the soldiers.

        Yeah, “just arresting” them. And then a mob drags them away.

        • ulucs says:

          Then the props go to the police, non-coup military and the kind-hearted people who shout “vurmayın! (don’t hit)” or shield the soldiers themselves.

        • erenold says:

          Goddamn, that looks terrifying for the poor grunts involved.

          That could have been a massacre there if someone lost their nerve. Fortunate that that situation wound down with no loss of life.

      • Tibor says:

        What do you think about the claim my Turkish friends made, that the whole thing was set up by Erdogan as justification for getting rid of the remaining opposition in the military and concentrating even more power in his own hands?

        The coup seemed to have been rather well organized and pretty big at first and then suddenly Erdogan calls upon civilians to resist the army and the army does very little to stop them. I mean how can you take over tanks and trained soldiers with…what exactly? Of course, Turkish soldiers are probably reluctant to shoot Turkish civilians, but they should still be able to handle them. It then seems like perhaps there were some people in the military who genuinely wanted to organize a coup and then others who would “join” them to provoke them to act but in fact being on the side of Erdogan.

        In any case, the result seems like bad news for Turkey. Erdogan still in power and probably stronger than ever.

        • ulucs says:

          You can take over the armed soldiers when they don’t want a civil war to start. Overtaking government buildings is one thing; but you can not rule over Turkish people with force. Escalating from that situation would be the final step before civilians grabbed their guns from their home. Erdogan took a great risk by inviting the people to stand against the coup and it paid off. He won the coup d’etat chicken.

          I understand your friends’ line of thinking, it’s the train of thought you’ll have when you have absolutely zero faith in Erdogan. He’s constantly being portrayed as some kind of trickster-god-genius who only does things to benefit himself. I don’t believe that’s necessarily true. Here’s to hoping that Erdogan will not try to benefit from this opportunity and gain some trust from his non-followers.

          Honestly, the coup succeeding would be worse (with the worst case being the situation elevating to civil war). I liked seeing people putting their lives on the line for democracy, even though Erdogan is not my favorite leader.

          • Tibor says:

            The question is whether you can call that democracy when the freedom of press is suppressed heavily and when the political opposition is also being quashed. I guess you can call it democracy, but you definitely cannot call it freedom.

          • ulucs says:

            Our situation is shitty, but honestly military rule would be much worse

          • Tibor says:

            @ulucs: I guess you are in a better position to judge that than me. It is hard for me not to have sympathies for a secular coup against an increasingly islamist half-dictator, but I can imagine that a military junta is not quite the ideal form of government (or the most free) and that it is hard to keep the country from drifting towards islamism one way or another when the islamists have a considerable public support…maybe splitting the country into the western part (which seems much more secular and “european”, especially Istanbul with its 20% of Turkish population) and the eastern part would solve it…

            The western part could then rename its capital back to Constantinopolis and revive the Eastern Roman Empire 😛 (sorry for joking about this)

        • John Schilling says:

          I don’t think it is plausible that Erdogan could have secretly organized a coup attempt – that would involve too many of Erdogan’s agents working too closely with the coup actors, which leads inevitably to mixed sympathies and leaks. At most, he could have learned of an existing coup plot and given it a few nudges, expecting that the coup’s “inevitable” failure would discredit his enemies.

          But the inevitability of a coup’s success or failure depends too much on the private feelings of people who are highly motivated to feign loyalty in public and keep the private stuff very private. This is not knowable in advance to either side. The coup attempt was, as you note, well organized, and that organization has to have come from the actual plotters. Allowing a well-organized coup attempt to proceed because you are certain that they are wrong in their certainty of sufficient military or public support, would be an extremely dangerous plan.

          What threat was Erdogan facing that would make him take such a risk?

      • birdboy2000 says:

        Without calling civilians into the streets I think the coup succeeds. It’s very dangerous for the people involved, and some of them paid the ultimate price for it, but a military dictatorship could’ve been much, much bloodier than a failed coup.

        So I can’t call it irresponsible.

        • Tibor says:

          Well, so instead of a military dictatorship, Turkey is now a de-facto civilian dictatorship. And the regime is hunting witches. I don’t think you win either way. And if the coup was just about one fraction of islamists (even if they do seem a bit more likable than Erdogan) against another then you would not even have returned to secularism if the coup had succeeded. So either way, the outcome is bad. The only good thing is that the result was decisive. A perfectly done coup (like the 1997 one ) with no violence at all would have been equally good, I think. But the Turkish military of 1997 was a very different animal from the military after Erdogan’s rise to power.

        • Anonymous says:

          It seems the army made an attempt to assassinate Erdogan in his vacation retreat as part of the operation. If that goes the other way, the world is a different place this morning.

    • Lumifer says:

      The situation in Turkey is bad. Erdogan is basically a Turkish Putin and he just got an excuse to start a massive purge of everyone who’s anyone and not loyal to him. I don’t see much in the way of good outcomes.

      • Tibor says:

        Yes, it is striking how similar he is. I even think that his islamism is just a tool for him, which is sort-of good-ish (better than actual islamists, not by much), just like Putin uses the orthodox church in Russia to cement his power.

  8. Joel says:

    Just want to point out the sidebar on the left has ribbonfarm listed twice!

  9. Actual Rodent says:

    Can smart people find happiness in unskilled labor? I am studying at the postgraduate level, and the constant stress is making me envy my local mailmen, garbage people, and taxi drivers. I am desiring simplicity.

    I feel like I’ve accepted the idea that smart people will ideally be employed in smart professions not on any evidence but faith (I say smart but I might actually have lower g than the median commenter here, and suck at STEM). I have farily minimal living standards and not much status envy.

    Possible advantages:
    -Success less dependent on things one can’t help, like my mental health, how I slept, and moodiness quotient. Just clock in, clock out.
    -Clear division between work/play. Brain work always seems to leak over into leisure time.
    -Pastimes: assuming brain work depletes the same meter as, say, music, art, and other side projects, it seems more likely to get these things off the ground if one is merely physically, and not mentally, exhausting oneself.

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      Depends on the work, and the person. I found physical labor quite satisfying, far more than the abstract nonsense I do every day. But that, I suspect, is more about my personality than my intelligence.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      Why not try it to find out? It shouldn’t be too difficult to find an unskilled job.

    • Lumifer says:

      If your problem is stress, you should find a less-stressful job/profession, not a more-stupid one. Simplicity is nice, but boring. Are you quite willing to perform simple repetitive movements for fully half of your (non-asleep) life? There is not going to any success in there, and your workmates aren’t going to be smart, either.

    • JayT says:

      In my case at least, physical and mental exhaustion manifest in the same way, which is to say I just want to relax and not do anything. When I was in college I would work labor jobs in the summer to pay my way, and after 8-12 hours of physical work I rarely had anything left for mentally difficult tasks.

    • SUT says:

      – Last week I was considering leaving programming to do something like this. Then I tore my ACL and I’m basically unable to walk for the next 6 months. All of a sudden programming is looking a lot better.

      – As a grad student, you’re at the nadir of status competitions because everyone is poor and basically proud of it. Over time, you’ll increasingly feel left out of the rewards of adult life. Especially in the US (or London etc) you’ll find there isn’t always a culture of siesta and community of pot luck dinners to settle into. There’s a couple people on meetup who will do activities, but it’s different than previous generation’s working class fraternities.

      – Your boss is likely to be more of a “Trump” who delights in being capricious, scheduling you into deliberately inconvenient slots, and pushing you for petty power games. These happen everywhere, but except in ultra macho white collar work, there is usually an ethos for managers to temper their psychopathy.

      • Adam says:

        Yes, this. I did my time in the Army before becoming a software engineer and it was fun while it lasted, but I’m not physically able to do that stuff any more. That’s always a risk with physically demanding work. I could do what I do now well into my 80s if I’m still alive. Of course, get promoted any higher than Captain and you’re not working on the front line with Soldiers and it isn’t fun any more anyway. I was already working in a budget office my last two years in the service. I started out as a tank commander.

  10. Tibor says:

    History. How best to learn it?

    I should probably specify what I mean. My knowledge of history consists of pockets in space-time I know relatively a lot about (of course not compared to professional historians or people who are entirely devoted to studying a particular part of history) and then huge canyon-sized gaps. Most notably, I know almost nothing about the pre-20th century history of East-Asia (except for Japan), the Americas (except for some basic info about the early colonization and then the creation of the US and the civil war there) or Africa.

    I’d like to fill those gaps. Obviously, you cannot learn everything about the world history. I also imagine I would find some parts more interesting than others.

    One approach would be to do something like what I did with Japan, even though it was mostly accidental. My ex had a nice little book (definitely under 300 pages) about the history of Japan, called “The mysterious land Nippon” at home. It covered the history of Japan from the partially mythical origins to the 20th century. Obviously, it could not be particularly detailed, but it did mention the most important things so it gave me a framework to use to look up things in detail which caught my interest. It was also fun to read as it was.

    So I could look up for similar books on each modern country. But while this works really well with a country like Japan which is very clearly defined and also somewhat isolated (even when the Japanese don’t close down the country entirely for 300 years, they usually do not interact with anyone further away than China and Korea), it might not work well with continental countries with a lot of neighbours. And of course, very few of the countries that exist today existed (at least in an approximative form) 1500 years ago, many didn’t even exist 500 or 300 years ago. So perhaps it makes sense to look for material which is structured differently, for example like this Open Yale course . I watched all the lectures of that course (I have not yet read the assigned literature, but I plan to read at least some of it) and it was a lot of fun. If I could find courses like that which together cover “all of history” (medieval and modern Europe is one area where I still remember something from the school but I know quite little about the history of Italy, let alone Ireland or Estonia, so that would also be useful), I could go through that and than look up for pockets in spacetime which I found the most interesting and learn about them in more detail.

    I’m sorry if this is a bit vague, but what would you recommend for the start? Thanks!

    • dndnrsn says:

      Are you more interested in “learning history” or “learning how to do history”?

      • Tibor says:

        do history? You mean do an actual research? No, I think I’m fine with reading what other people have already found out 🙂

        • dndnrsn says:

          Not so much do intensive research as get better at evaluating sources.

          I’m only really well-versed with a few pockets of history, but I’d trust myself to do an OK job figuring out what was BS and what wasn’t in an area new to me, both in the secondary literature and primary sources.

          Example: it’s usually the safe choice to assume any primary source is mistaken, obfuscatory, or outright dishonest.

          • Okay, so how do you evaluate secondary sources?

          • dndnrsn says:

            In my experience a decent way is to consider how they evaluate primary sources. This works better for some fields than others, obviously.

            But let’s say the example is some generic national founding myth. If one secondary source takes it at face value, one assumes it’s pure myth, and one treats it as a historical even that’s been turned into a myth, then that gives a clue as to how to approach each secondary source.

          • Tibor says:

            I see. I guess the closer to modernity you get, the more politics will be mixed into the interpretations of history, so you have to be careful. But if you stick to secondary sources and read about something that happened more than say 300 years ago, then it should be fine, shouldn’t it?

          • dndnrsn says:

            Not so much closer to modernity, as more relevant to modernity: for instance, anything having to do with a still-extant religion will be “controversial”, so to speak, even if it happened a thousand plus years ago.

    • Rusty says:

      You wasted all that time learning japanese history when all you needed was this video??

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh5LY4Mz15o

  11. Blase says:

    I’m too much of a crimethinker for effective altruism and too much of an altruist for most right wing groups. Where am I supposed to go?

    Note: If anyone wants to know what someone with this philosophical profile looks like, I would put Scott in roughly the same category, although he should feel free to correct me.

    Or maybe a better question is, should I (a) try to influence the effective altruist movement to be more crimethinking (b) try to influence right wing groups to be more altruistic (c) start a new movement.

    Some thoughts on each strategy:

    (a) I could try to explain to the EA movement why I think Open Borders is quite likely a bad idea, why we should be focusing on family planning interventions for Africa, and why the focus on factory farming looks like virtue signaling. But these are all political topics that are liable to create community division. And I like the work the EA movement is doing in AI and other areas–community division might hurt that.

    (b) I could try to convince right wing groups to be more compassionate. For example: Hey guys, we should be setting up Singapore-style authoritarian charter cities all over the world in order to lift people out of poverty! But some seem to have an explicit philosophy of not letting their ideology drift in any way that looks vaguely left wing, and I assume calls for increased selflessness/compassion would look like this.

    (c) Possibly not a terrible idea? The SSC community might be the closest thing to this that exists actually.

    • Urstoff says:

      I was going to say bleeding heart libertarians (despite their enthusiasm for open borders and your lack thereof) until you got to the authoritarian part…

      See if this matches your general perspective: https://niskanencenter.org/

    • Adam says:

      Why do you have to “go” anywhere? Live your life and enjoy it.

    • Note: If anyone wants to know what someone with this philosophical profile looks like, I would put Scott in roughly the same category, although he should feel free to correct me.

      I don’t think that’s a precise enough description for the purpose of your question. In particular, Scott seems pretty on board with EA, and I don’t think he is more inclined than the typical effective altruist to agree with your criticism of it.

  12. Clay says:

    There has been a lot of discussion of bias in police use of force against blacks in the US. I wanted to point out this study from the Center for Equitable Policing​ (Berkeley and NYU), in which the researchers have found a creative way to report the opposite of their findings, which they don’t seem to like very much.

    One measure they consider is police use of force against a population, controlling for (divided by) the number of arrests of members of that population for violent crimes.
    They say​ that, ​in a *minority* of departments, blacks are subject to higher rates of use of force​ than whites.​ And they report this as evidence of anti-black disparity:
    “Finally, some departments revealed robust disparities across levels of force even when using this most conservative test [controlling by # arrests for violent crimes]. As Figure 3 shows, Black-White gaps in canine use and in OC spray use persisted in 55% of departments after violent arrests were controlled. Likewise, Black-White disparities persisted in weapon use in 40% of departments, in less lethal and Taser and hands and body use in 36% of departments, and in lethal force in 25% of departments.”

    To be fair, they give an argument that this is a sort of overly-conservative control, biased against blacks.

    In Tables 5 and 11, they report that police use of force across all departments they studied is 30-40% higher against whites than blacks, subject to this control. ​

    Their general claim is that “the narrative that crime is the primary driver of racial disparities [in police use of force] is not supported within the context of ​[the police departments they study].”​ Check out their executive summary and conclusion as well. I guess I have a different feeling about the significance of the control, but their presentation seems goofy to me.

  13. Silva says:

    Can I recommend http://www.vox.com/2016/7/12/12152728/pokemon-go-economic-problems for the next [insert “link” pun] here?

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      That article is the perfect example of why Timothy B Lee is nuts.

      (NB: He’s not Timothy Berners-Lee.)

    • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

      >late capitalism

      Commies, commies everywhere

      • Nornagest says:

        You’re reading Vox. What do you expect?

        (Though “late capitalism” seems to have crept out from its original Marxist context sometime in the last ten years and become a more general leftist shibboleth.)

        • TeD says:

          I think you mean it has become meaningless. Marxists seem to be much more philosophically sophisticated than their progressive and left-liberal “counterparts”.

          So “late capitalism” makes no sense outside of a Marxist theory of historical materialism. Capitalism is only late because it will end soon.

      • Lumifer says:

        ..and ends with the traditional Carthago delenda est:

        then more direct income redistribution may be called for

        X -)

      • Anonanon says:

        How sad would it be to spend $80-120K on a Critical Literature Studies degree only to wind up ranting about Late Capitalism and Philippine Politics in your penny-per-word pokemon reviews?

        • Silva says:

          Philippine politics is, of course, completely unworthy of our attention.

          (Not that I found any in the article, or even the author’s others?)

    • Glen Raphael says:

      From the article:

      Pokémon Go seems unlikely to produce very many opportunities for complementary local businesses.

      The complementary local businesses I’ve seen so far include:
      – smartphone battery makers
      – cafes and bars and food trucks that locate near Pokestops and put out “lures” to draw a crowd at otherwise slow times and places
      – local providers of themed merchandise (T shirts and such)

      I’m sure there will be more, but that seems like pretty good start already for something that’s been out less than a week.

      • Glen Raphael says:

        Ooh! Pokemon-themed decorated cupcakes! Rare creatures if you have the artistic talent to pull it off (so customers can say they “caught” those creatures by buying them from you in cake form), or pokeballs if you don’t. Sold from a hand cart at the nearest park wherever the lures are running. Now THERE is a nice short-term business opportunity if I ever saw one…

  14. keranih says:

    RE: Discussions upthread regarding the US criminal justice system, and statements to the effect of:

    somewhere around 95% of people charged with crimes plead guilty/accept a plea bargain to a lesser crime rather than stand trial

    This is generally given (in the many venues I have heard it) as a negative statement on the US criminal system.

    My question is, what is the optimal percentage of people who are charged under the US system (at all the levels) at a level of evidence – and internal assessment of guilt – such that a guilty plea is the most rational choice for that defendant?

    I myself tend to think that it’s best if the State only charges people who are guilty, and failing that (because they/we will) they should conserve resources and only charge those people who have a high suspicion of being guilty *and* have a high likelihood of being found guilty. I think that charging ~10% over that level is not an unreasonable level of enthusiastic optimism on the part of young prosecutor and/or old hands with a bad case of righteousness wrt a particular case.

    Explain to me how I’m wrong.

    • Montfort says:

      I would agree that that’s not necessarily a bad state of affairs. I would point out, however, that the decision to plea guilty does not just depend on level of evidence and internal assessment of guilt, but more directly the (perceived) likelihood of conviction (a fine distinction, but relevant), the difficulties of a trial, the difference between outcomes of a plea vs. loss at trial, and risk tolerance.

      It’s not so bad if ~95% of defendants really are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on available evidence, pretty bad if 95% plead guilty just because they’re over a barrel one way or another, and many shades of gray in between.

      • Alliteration says:

        One disadvantage of plea bargaining is not-guilty people being punished merely because they have a low opinion of the accuracy of the justice system. If a not-guilty person is arrested, they might pick a smaller punishment over the chance of a worse punishment especially if they think the system is biased against them.

    • Rob K says:

      Not quite an answer to your question, but the more common substantive objection I hear to the prevalence of plea bargains is that possibly innocent defendants in busy court systems take them because they have no hope of receiving a speedy trial, and just want to get their time in the court (and jail) system over with.


      This
      is the well publicized case I’m thinking of. So yes, I would agree that in an ideal legal system plea bargains might well be very common, but I think there’s evidence that some current plea bargains are made by innocent people as a result of a dsyfunctional judicial system.

    • whateverfor says:

      I don’t think that looking at that percentage is useful. The borderline cases will be overwhelmed by the number of obviously guilty people correctly processed.

      My plea bargaining skepticism comes from the other side, looking at media cases where the disparity between the plea deal and the guilty punishment is so vast that the EV calculations get weird. To pick a recent example, three people beat up a gay couple in Philadelphia. The two men each pleaded guilty, and got three years probation and 200 hours of community service, no jail time. The woman (Kathyrn Knott) pleaded not guilty, went to trial, and got two years probation and 5-10 months in prison. She was only found guilty on four of seven charges: if the jury had found her guilty of everything, she would have spent years in prison.

      The questions: if Knott was 75% certain she’d be found not guilty on all charges, and 95% certain she’d be found not guilty of the felony charges, should she have just taken the deal? If it’s correct to take the deal when you have better than even odds of being found not guilty, is that acceptable?

    • Lumifer says:

      I remember a study (sorry, too lazy to go looking for a link) which showed that the sentences for the same crime were four times longer in the cases where there was no plea bargain (and the case went to the jury) compared to plea-bargained cases.

      Given this, and given the propensity of prosecutors to throw a really long list of crimes at defendants (which long list magically contracts to one or two charges once plea bargain is reached), I tend to think of plea bargaining as basically blackmail.

      • Adam says:

        Worse than that, much of the reality is someone can’t make bail, so their choice is plead guilty and get probation, or spend time in jail, lose their job, probably have their spouse divorce them, lose their kids, become unemployable. A plea can be a rational decision even if there is zero chance you will get convicted, provided they can hold you long enough before trial or impose sufficient court costs just for having a trial.

  15. Orphan Wilde says:

    Copying most a comment I wrote in an older thread, because I find the concept incredibly useful when considering politics:

    The Mandate of Heaven effectively says you deserve to rule as long as other people think you deserve to rule.

    Westerners often try to reframe it in terms of Divine Mandate, but it’s not; it’s far more brutally simple than that. It’s not about gods. It’s not about spiritualism. It’s not about religion. It’s a more generalized version of the principle that government exists only by the consent of the governed – which is to say, it says that government exists only while the governed believe it can govern them.

    A ship’s captain has the Mandate of Heaven – he’s lost it when a mutiny succeeds. If a mutiny fails, he hasn’t lost it. We can think of it in terms of gods deciding his fate, but it’s pretty clear in Chinese philosophy that this is largely a metaphor (it’s more or less explicitly laid out in some of Confucius’ work). It is politics, boiled down to its purest form: You’re in control only so long as others think you are. The “heaven” aspect is a metaphor for society and its nebulous and unpredictable nature.

    The Mandate of Heaven is what the military adage “Don’t give orders you don’t expect to be followed” refers to, along with a countless number of other, identical concepts refer to. We just don’t have a specific concept for it here, which leads to a surprising degree of stupidity among politicians who don’t actually understand the way power works.

    I observe it in groups, as well, and it’s a very useful concept to frame things in to figure out when a zeitgeist is over. Feminists/SJWs had the Mandate of Heaven. Now they don’t. This doesn’t mean they’re now immediately powerless, and indeed they could potentially reclaim it – but since they didn’t realize they had it, and now don’t realize they’ve lost it, they’re pretty much doomed. (That’s where stupid behavior comes from.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Seems too vague and malleable to be useful to me. How do you know that “feminists/SJW” lost the mandate of heaven or even had it in the first place?

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        Observation of what happens to their high-status critics.

        • Aegeus says:

          The trouble is, that’s only useful retrospectively. If feminists can only find out if they’ve lost the Mandate by criticizing people and getting pushback, then what good is that to them? It’s not stupidity to run into a danger when you have no way of knowing about it, and it’s not wisdom to say afterwards, “Well, obviously, if you had the Mandate of Heaven this wouldn’t have happened!”

          How does the captain learn that he has a mutiny brewing before the crew tosses him overboard?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            If you have to ask, it’s already too late. If it wasn’t before you asked, it is afterwards.

            That’s the danger it warns you of. Don’t undermine your own power by suggesting your own power can be undermined.

          • Saint Fiasco says:

            How does the captain learn that he has a mutiny brewing before the crew tosses him overboard?

            When they overhear someone criticizing the captain and the other sailors don’t ignore or rebuke the critic.

            Feminists get pushback all the time. If I understand correctly, the Mandate of Heaven theory says that they are in trouble only when the pushback they have always been getting from the same old stupid trolls and reactionary idiots actually starts getting listened to.

            At that point, they have to change strategies and instead of shaming and ignoring the critics like they could do if they had the Mandate, they have to do something else and stop treating their critics like stupid trolls and reactionary idiots.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Seconding actually-purple Anon’s comment: I think what we’re seeing (in the rise of anti-SJ types, an increasing willingness to “push back”, Trump) isn’t a loss of the “Mandate of Heaven” – it’s just the result of increasing polarization.

      The Culture Wars have fewer neutrals now than there were a while back.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        The Culture War used to be one-sided. It merely looks more polarized because there’s actually another side to the war now.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Did it really used to be one-sided, or has one side just been replaced with another?

          The right-wing side in the Culture Wars used to be anti-gay, anti-abortion, socially conservative, prayer-in-schools, etc.

          Now it’s nativist, quasi-white-nationalist, often socially liberal or agnostic (I’m pretty sure Milo would not appeal to a right-wing culture warrior circa 20 years ago…), edgier, etc.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            The right wing wasn’t actually any of those things. They were anti-change.

            And they [ETA: the right-wing] weren’t fighting either the feminists or the SJWs; they were fighting the left wing. The feminists and SJWs [ETA: weren’t fighting the right-wing, they] were fighting for control of the left wing; the right wing was never actually their target. The left-wing is now fighting back; the right-wing just thinks the whole thing is stupid and is remaining uninvolved, at least with that fight. (They have their own war going on right now.)

            ETA: There was a peace treaty in the 90’s between the various left-wing coalitions that came together. It was “Political Correctness.” The rules of PC language were never seriously applied to the right-wing; they were rules of engagement for the different factions of the left wing. The rules of engagement stayed more-or-less in place through the Bush Administration, but during Obama’s Administration, the fighting resumed. BLM is one of many of the current left-wing factions vying for control; Sanders supporters are another faction who concessions have been made to. Hillary Clinton to a significant extent represents the ascendancy of the feminist faction over the past few years – but she’s also a good representation of the end of its ascendancy, as most of the other factions are grumbling right now.

          • TPC says:

            Given the homeschool revolution, driven by right-wing people, I’d have to dispute the idea they were anti-change. There are other examples, but that one involved a huge amount of change and is less polarizing in a space like this than most of the other examples.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Orphan Wilde: How is being against something (that is a change) different from just being generically anti-change, in regard to that particular thing?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            dndnrsn –

            Being against something means you care about the thing. They don’t care about the thing, they care about the way things are.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            No true conservative thinks homosexuals are perverting the will of God and destined for the fires hell. No true conservative blames homosexuals for natural disasters. No true conservative accuses homosexuals of being pedophiles. No true conservative thinks homosexual acts need to be illegal to prevent moral depravity in society. No true conservative thinks there is a homosexual agenda that is actively recruiting children into their depraved lifestyle.

            We are to believe that true conservatives just want to have a nice quiet life where they don’t have to be bothered by anything at all changing, no matter how unjust the status quo is. Certainly they aren’t motivated by actively not wanting the proposed change. Never that.

            This is a balderdash argument.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Orphan Wilde:

            I’m not sure I get the distinction. They just decided to keep things the way they are, without liking the status quo more than the proposed changes – thus, disliking the proposed changes?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            If the Democratic party wants gay rights, the Republican party has to oppose gay rights.

            It’s not that the Republicans care, it’s a matter of drawing voters: Given that the Democrats are getting the pro-gay vote, the Republicans have to get the anti-gay vote in order to stay electable – because the parties are identical except whatever wedge issues are dominating the election season at a given time. Had the Democrats come out as anti-gay, the Republicans would have come out as pro-gay.

            The Mormon church has apologized for opposing gay marriage. Does that strike you as a cause they actually cared about? Or was it just about trying to score points for their tribe?

          • dndnrsn says:

            The LDS probably opposed gay marriage but decided not to make that the hill to die on.

            You’re making it sound like the American right is some kind of null entity, dedicated only to preventing the left from doing stuff, without any particular opinion about that stuff.

          • Sandy says:

            I feel like the Republican Party is increasingly a null entity that exists only to stop the Democratic Party from doing stuff, if only because they’ve become scared of going too right and allowing people who actually have beliefs and opinions to have a say in anything. The GOP isn’t the sum total of the American right.

          • dndnrsn says:

            It depends on what the “stuff” is. The Republican party platform reaffirms a bunch of causes, including those where the Republican party and right in general has already been losing for some time.

            It just seems like a bizarre distinction to make. Compare “the enemy are defending the hill” to “the enemy aren’t defending the hill, they’re just trying to keep us from taking it”.

            It just seems like the simplest explanation for the Republicans being against same-sex marriage, for instance, is that they’re against same-sex marriage. Either the politicians are, the voters are, or both, or some combination. If they give up, either their minds have changed, it’s a strategic withdrawal, or a combination of the two.

            This makes more sense than “the Republican party/the right in general makes its decisions about what to be against entirely reactively”.

            The Republican party/American right/mainstream American right is not as cowardly or inept as some people seem to think.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            dndnrsn –

            It’s… an extremely important distinction, but the reasons why are kind of complex.

            The Democrats are in charge right now. What issues are they pushing? Since they’re in power, they lose face if they bring up new issues; it implies they’ve been doing a bad job, which is why they’re kind of just mumbling agreement with Sanders instead of picking the fight up.

            So the Republicans get to pick the hills to fight on for this election, and the Democrats are going to be forced to defend those hills.

            The Republicans have the issues they care about – but banning gay marriage isn’t on the list, and they’re not going to push it.

            This election will be a referendum, not on the issues Democrats care about, but on the issues Republicans care about. So expect it to be about immigration and the economy, with almost no attention paid to gay rights, transexual rights, abortion rights, or any of the Democratic Party’s important causes.

            Mind, the Republican Party will take swipes at these things if they win and it’s politically cheap, but pretty much entirely to force the Democratic Party to expend political capital undoing what they do when they come back. They won’t campaign on it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Orphan Wilde:

            What’s with the new Republican platform, then? I mean, compare with Canada: the federal Conservative party just moved to officially endorse same-sex marriage in its platform. The Republicans have done the opposite.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            dndnrs –

            They’re not going to get the pro voters yet, so there’s no advantage in switching positions yet. Likewise, they’re not getting the pro-transsexual vote, so they might as well collect the anti.

            They’ll switch positions 8 years from now, when a different set of issues matters.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Doubling down seems rather different from just ignoring it and trying to focus on something else.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Orphan Wilde:
            Look at what Republicans are doing in states where they control the executive and legislative branches of government like Indiana, Kansas, and NC.

            They absolutely are enacting policies in line with their rhetoric.

          • Anonanon says:

            >You’re making it sound like the American right is some kind of null entity, dedicated only to preventing the left from doing stuff

            Change that to “dedicated only to giving the left an enemy to whip”, and you’d have it exactly right.
            American conservatism is just a loose coalition of everyone the left is currently using as a scapegoat, which is why video game players and gay men suddenly became “right wing”.

          • John Schilling says:

            If the Democratic party wants gay rights, the Republican party has to oppose gay rights.

            If the Democratic party wants economic prosperity, the Republican party has to oppose economic prosperity?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Anonanon:

            Come on, the portion of the American right represented by the Republicans has policy goals. They’re not some ragtag group of kids at the poor camp, next to the rich camp, that have to win the regatta for some reason.

            If the American right was just a loose coalition of enemies of the left, nobody smart would be a right-winger of any variety.

          • Anonanon says:

            >nobody smart would be a right-winger of any variety.

            You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I’m a right winger and I resemble resent that implication.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @anonanon:
            That is the absolute worst kind of quote mining, the kind where you take a quote and omit the predicate clause which inverts the meaning.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Anonanon:

            Doing what?

            It is true that the right in the Western world has had the crap kicked out of it in some big ways recently, mostly “social issues” type stuff: same-sex marriage, etc. They’ve pretty much lost the campuses. But it’s not for lack of trying.

            Just because two sides fight and one wins, doesn’t mean the loser wasn’t trying. Just because one side wins, doesn’t mean it was a walk-over.

          • Jiro says:

            That is the absolute worst kind of quote mining, the kind where you take a quote and omit the predicate clause which inverts the meaning.

            He wasn’t quoting it out of context, he was pointing out that it created an opportunity for anti-right snark. Which it does.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            No. Dndnrsn was clearly implying he thinks there are plenty of smart people in America who identify as Republican or on the right. That isn’t anti-right snark. It is the opposite.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Sandy

            In the specific case, you are correct that from a US point of view David Cameron is basically a moderate libertarian who isn’t opposed to foreign intervention. But in the general case, I don’t think there would be any contradiction between someone saying “I support gay marriage, because sex outside marriage is wrong for everyone. Once I legalise gay marriage I will promote abstinence outside marriage for everyone” and them calling themselves a conservative.

          • Sandy says:

            @sweenyrod: I think I accidentally deleted my comment while trying to edit it, but the reason I bring up Cameron in particular is because he has repeatedly campaigned against things like teaching homosexuality in schools and adoption by gay couples on the grounds of social conservatism, and then after it was no longer politically expedient to be anti-gay marriage, he declared that the legalization of same-sex marriages was one of his proudest achievements. In that case, it can clearly be questioned how much he cared about the issue.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Oppose X until it becomes popular, then immediately pivot and take credit for X? Why, it’s almost as if David Cameron is a politician or something!

            Frankly, given how awful most Western politicians are these days, I almost regard such stereotypical behavior with nostalgia. Remember when Bill Clinton took credit for welfare reform and the balanced budget? Ah, happier days.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Jiro, HeelBearCub:

            Yeah, that’s my implication – there are plenty of smart right wingers, mainstream and otherwise. The Republican party is also supported by a significant number of savvy and powerful individuals who would not stick with the party if it was so pathetic or doomed.

            I think people here exist in left-wing bubbles in real life (I know I do) and thus estimate the degree to which the left is considered dominant. Plenty of left-wing spaces where the right is the unstoppable juggernaut.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Oppose X until it becomes popular, then immediately pivot and take credit for X?

            I don’t actually recall gay marriage being a particularly notable cause in the UK until Cameron announced he was going to bring it in. It was less a case of “start supporting popular idea x” than “use x as a wedge issue to pick a fight with your right-wing base, so that you can get plaudits for centrism”.

      • Anonymous says:

        On the contrary, the “culture wars” look to me like some sort of augmented reality game played by a small circle of enthusiasts that have somehow managed to convince themselves that there are hundreds of millions of participants and believing that every news story is really about events in their game.

        A lot of the social observations in here feel like hyper-local gossip being extrapolated far beyond its appropriate context. Akin to when a journalist for the Atlantic has three friends get divorced and decides it’s a trend.

        I don’t doubt that all of you are seeing something real in the circles you travel in, but this very much isn’t a randomly sampled group.

        • Orphan Wilde says:

          You’re correct that most people aren’t participating. You’re incorrect in assuming that this means the game is meaningless.

          The riots after sports aren’t conducted by the players of the game, after all.

          • Anonymous says:

            No, I’m sorry there is no bigger picture. That’s just a way for the game players to feel more important about themselves.

            If you disagree, let’s see some strong evidence rather than anecdotes and plausible stories.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            I perform for the audience, good sir/madame, not for you.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            What would you consider strong evidence?

            The five police officers shot in Dallas, by a gunman claiming allegiance to BLM? The various low-grade riots against trump supporters? The quasi-saction/victim-blaming conducted by various city, state and federal officials following those riots? The assassination attempt on Trump? A Supreme Court Justice making nakedly partisan statements to multiple news outlets about a current presidential candidate? Further afield, the Brexit vote?

          • Aapje says:

            You don’t have to actively play the game to be in the cross hairs, which turns us all into passive players. If a Muslim terrorist detonates a bomb near me because he believes that he is on the right side of the culture war and all Westerners are on the wrong side, it doesn’t matter whether I agree with that framing. I’m just as dead.

            And when politicians buy into these narratives, it impacts me, no matter if I agree.

          • Held in Escrow says:

            “Allegiance to BLM”

            Could we not tell blatant lies for one damn day?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Held In Escrow – “Could we not tell blatant lies for one damn day?”

            The shooter specifically stated that he was motivated by BLM and the recent police shootings that are BLM’s focus. He also claimed that he acted alone, which seems likely to be true. You are probably correct that “pledging allegiance” is the wrong term, and I apologize for using it. How about “directly motivated by”?

          • Somehow, I’d gotten the impression that the Dallas shooter was angry at BLM because BLM wasn’t aggressive enough to suit him, “but upset about Black Lives Matter” could be interpreted to mean that *or* that he was angered because he was convinced that police killing black people is an urgent problem.

            Anyone have information about which interpretation is more likely?

          • Lumifer says:

            As far as I know the Dallas shooter hung around various Black Power groups (more radical than BLM), but they wouldn’t take him because they ran a background check on him and some sexual-harassment issues came up since when the shooter was in the army in Afghanistan. So he was never an official member of any of these groups, just a wannabe.

            So yes, he wasn’t linked with BLM specifically (I think it was too mainstream for him), but he definitely is linked to Black Power groups.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            he wasn’t linked with BLM specifically […] but he definitely is linked to Black Power groups.

            Although if you put it that way, BLM itself is also kind of linked to Black Power groups…

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Medium-Purple Anonymous: I say Culture Wars plural. The struggle over abortion was/is a Culture Wars issue. You’re right that there’s an inflation here of the significance of events in the particular fronts of the Culture Wars most of interest to the people here: eg, the Ants thing is not very important. But there’s plenty of significant, non-bubble stuff going on.

          • Formerly Purple Anonymous says:

            You how Marxists think everything is about the class struggle? That even when you present something that looks like it directly contradicts the class struggle narrative, they come up with false consciousness and keep on rolling?

            That’s the same vibe I get from this. I can’t imagine what set of facts either about the past or that could occur in the next few years that would convince Orphan Wilde et al that the “mandate of heaven” isn’t a good model for how the world works or that “SJW” is a minor phenomenon that doesn’t have much impact on American life.

            Contemporary sociology has an incredibility difficult remit — I’d much rather tackle high energy particle physics than that! Yet no one feels confident in throwing off pet high energy particle physics theories (well except maybe Yudkowsky) but everyone thinks he is eminently capable of explaining all of current events with one neat theory that sociologists hate.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Ants thing?

            Anyways, it’s incorrect to think that the specific events that happen on a local scale cause broader changes; my argument doesn’t convince all of society.

            The broader changes are what cause the specific events to happen on a local scale; there are a thousand people making the same arguments at the same time in a thousand different places. It may seem to the individual players they’ve made a substantive difference – but the difference was actually made by the social forces which produced their willingness to argue their points in the first place.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Ants thing?

            Search for “reproductively viable worker ants”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Formerly Purple Anonymous:

            …or that “SJW” is a minor phenomenon that doesn’t have much impact on American life.

            It’s a minor phenomenon in the wider Culture Wars that is more significant in some bubbles. Some people, including some people here, make the mistake of thinking it’s a major phenomenon.

            @Orphan Wilde: it’s a shibboleth-y euphemism, of which we have some around here. Google “reproductively viable worker ants” and you’ll get it.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            FPA –

            That’s the most flowery way of saying you don’t agree with me I’ve ever seen. I mean, that’s all that is. You don’t agree with me. You haven’t raised any actual objections or criticisms, except to imply – you didn’t even state it outright – that I’m unscientific because I wouldn’t change my mind if confronted by evidence by way of making a failure-of-imagination argument, which I won’t get into because Dawkins has already done a much better job of that.

            You’ve told me what you think of me. You’ve spent a lot of words saying what you think of me, actually. As for what I think of you?

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Contemporary sociology has an incredibility difficult remit — I’d much rather tackle high energy particle physics than that! Yet no one feels confident in throwing off pet high energy particle physics theories (well except maybe Yudkowsky) but everyone thinks he is eminently capable of explaining all of current events with one neat theory that sociologists hate.

            I’m not that big of a fan of amateur sociology, particularly because of its tendency of trying to make a grand unifying theory of everything extrapolated from internet social dynamics, however.

            (One of ) The reason(s) people make up their theories is that the field of sociology, unlike physics, has had a pretty shitty track record, it’s harder to disregard a field when it manages to accurately describe and predict the things it sets out to describe and predict. Pile up to that the whole “replication crisis” thing, and the issues with politicization and people become all the more willing to just scrap the whole thing and start all over.

            Sociology is hardly unique in this regard, economics gets pretty much the same treatment, for the same reason.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Ah. That.

            dndnrsn –

            The SJW side of things has been having a substantive impact on speech codes in college campuses for the last fifteen-twentyish years, and their efforts began in earnest in the 90’s. Most people seem to think this is a recent phenomenon – it isn’t, it’s the fact that people are broadly aware that it is happening that is recent. FIRE has been fighting that side of things for that long.

            In regards to this, I feel like the only person who has noticed that the sails are now flapping in a different direction, and everybody is insisting that we’re still going the same place because the ship hasn’t changed course yet. Yes, great, you see where the ship is going, you can take the derivative of our position; pay attention to the derivative of the derivative as well.

          • Formerly Purple Anonymous says:

            @WHtA

            The very fact that you belive that the literature is garbage and ought to be totally disregarded should lead you to belive that the subject is really difficult and make you less likely to think the pet theory you just came up with is any better than the literature you decided was garbage and disregarded.

            In other words, it’s one thing to reject both saltwater and freshwater mainstream economics and quite another to say “those guys don’t know what they are talking about. It’s really simple, all you need to do is look at gold flows.”

            Saying “I don’t know” is a rationalist virtue. One that is in awfully short supply in these discussions.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Orphan Wilde: OK, but what % of people attend the institutions in which it’s a big deal? It’s not the biggest thing.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            The very fact that you belive that the literature is garbage and ought to be totally disregarded

            Whoa, don’t you put that evil on me, anon!

            should lead you to belive that the subject is really difficult

            Most def.

            and make you less likely to think the pet theory you just came up with is any better than the literature

            Yes, but also less likely to be any worse! I think there’s value on theories that come up from “one smart dude hypothesizing about their environment”, as long as they realize the limits of their scope. Maybe I’m just revealing my vast ingnorance of the current state of the field, but Marx, Durkheim and Webber seemed like a pretty big deal, and that’s basically what they were.

            In other words, it’s one thing to reject both saltwater and freshwater mainstream economics and quite another to say “those guys don’t know what they are talking about. It’s really simple, all you need to do is look at gold flows.”

            Saying “I don’t know” is a rationalist virtue. One that is in awfully short supply in these discussions.

            No disagreement here.

            If I’d had to guess, our disagreement comes from the level of creedence that we think is being given to these untested theories/should be given before conducting more rigorous research.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @FPA – forming hypotheses and debating them here is a way of committing yourself to a position, which can then be tested by how well it predicts subsequent evidence. This is not a profoundly rigorous method, but it’s better than nothing and passes the time.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @WHTA

            “Maybe I’m just revealing my vast ignorance of the current state of the field, but Marx, Durkheim and Weber seemed like a pretty big deal, and that’s basically what they were.”

            In the sciences (e.g. physics) it is difficult nowadays for an individual to come up with a groundbreaking new theory, because current research is largely built on low hanging fruit discovered previously. But those low hanging fruits (lots of stuff all the way up till Einstein) were often discovered by lone researchers. To the extent that sociology is linear in the same way, the same thing applies (the existence of influential lone sociologists in the past doesn’t imply that the same thing is possible in the present).

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Incidentally, I really don’t feel like I should have to point this out, but I cannot possibly claim credit for a however-many-years-old idea that is still taught in political science classes (I encountered the more fleshed out version of the concept helping somebody else study for such a class).

            I encountered the idea, found it had usefulness, and shared it.

            While we’re on the subject of new-to-most-people ideas for the bored: The reason the US looks increasingly the same everywhere is the same reason the 2008 housing crash was unusually bad. The S&L crash of the 90’s was “resolved” by forbidding S&Ls from making most loans – killing the S&L industry, and nearly ending real estate development.

            To fix the real estate investment problem, the government created lots of “standard” packages of real estate, such that they could be treated like stocks [ETA: Sorry, commodities, not stocks, but unusual commodities which can return dividends?]. One is a shopping center with a national brand pharmacy/convenience store (which is why stores like Walgreen proliferated after the 90’s). Apartment complexes, housing developments – 17 different types of commoditized real estate, covering most of the variety of development possible.

            Except, of course, mixed development. Which is why mixed-use development vanished almost entirely.

            This is also why buildings started being built less well; they’re built to be sold as financial instruments, and are built for an expected lifespan of, IIRC, 20 years. They simply aren’t built to last longer than that, because the standardized requirements don’t require them to be, and they’re just going to be sitting in someone’s financial portfolio anyways.

            ETA: To make things worse, and contributing further to the 2008 crash, the new real estate commodities were given extremely preferential financial risk status. They were investments which counted, for financial risk purposes, as nearly as good as cash.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Orphan, do you have a source for your claims about real estate financing? Are you aware that S&Ls only ever financed residential mortgages? So why would their destruction be relevant to commercial real estate?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Douglas –

            I highly recommend reading “The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream”, Leinberger, Christopher B, as it contains primary sources for most of this.

            I suggest reading that book because I cannot find any information on the Internet about the changes introduced by (among others) Greenspan during the mid 90’s to REITs and real estate commodities in order to relax the credit crunch. (Weirdly, I can find information -about- the credit crunch, but nobody seems to be talking about the things government did to try to end it.)

            But you’re incorrect about S&Ls not being allowed to make non-residential loans – that restriction was removed in the 80’s (as a reaction to some other issue), then re-instituted after the S&L crash. (Dallas is full of skeletons of apartment buildings abandoned mid-construction as the feds seized S&Ls and their assets and put a halt to loans to developers mid-development.) Wikipedia should be able to verify that.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            OK, S&Ls were allowed to put 10% of their money in commercial real estate. But you seem to be saying that they dominated it, so that their destruction left a vacuum.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Douglas –

            10% of their money isn’t 10% of the commercial market. There are ~$10 trillion in residential mortgages today; it’s hard to find precise figures for the amount of commercial real estate being developed, but the size of the commercial real estate market in whole is ~$18 trillion. I’d hazard a guess that 5% of it is under development at any given time, given 20 year lifespans, which suggests ~$1 trillion in commercial development markets, which suggests that the S&Ls proportion of the commercial development market could have been around exactly their share of the residential market.

            But the exact proportion doesn’t matter all that much, because even a small crash in investment credit available is still a really big deal.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            What, you think that a commercial real estate development loan has a 1 year duration? That it’s just funding to build and then someone buys it outright without further financing?

            The proportion is important because the entities that were doing the financing before 1980 and probably the vast majority of the financing during the 80s could have expanded to replace the S&Ls. Maybe those entities were REITs, in which case you could just say that REITs were changed and not imply that there was a vacuum.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            I’m not certain where you’re going. Are you looking for confirmation of what I’m saying, or more information on what was going on?

            In either case, my Google-fu is failing me quite miserably. I’ll unfortunately have to point you at the book.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I’m looking for (dis)confirmation that you really mean what I think you mean. Your google-fu is failing you at determining the duration of commercial real estate loans?

            Also, I’m looking for confirmation that you actually mean something. There’s no point reading the book if it’s just a word salad. Also, I’m concerned that the book might be meaningful, yet false. If you can’t find any other trace of the book’s claims, don’t you worry about its accuracy?

          • Adam says:

            Dallas is full of skeletons of apartment buildings abandoned mid-construction as the feds seized S&Ls and their assets and put a halt to loans to developers mid-development.

            What the heck? Where? There’s been a population boom here for years now and there are apartment buildings going up all over the place.

    • Sandy says:

      Following this paradigm, it seems that keeping or losing the Mandate of Heaven (in a societal sense, not necessarily a public administration sense) is mostly a matter of knowing when and how to pick your battles. Taking on Brendan Eich is all well and good, but Peter Thiel is wealthy and powerful and vengeful. A bad enemy to make for SJWs looking to retain the Mandate of Heaven. Similarly, Joseph McCarthy had the Mandate of Heaven until he picked a fight with a powerful army general, which led to everyone turning against him.

      • Jill says:

        Interesting. This Mandate of Heaven then, sounds an awful like taking advantage of the general passivity of most humans.

  16. Orphan Wilde says:

    I’m going to bring up the new sequel to Ghostbusters, because I want to point out what they did, versus what they could have done.

    What they did was produce a gender-swapped version of the original, with mostly cosmetic differences. That’s… not even creative. A lot of people think that the reactions are sexist; no, if they had remade it with modern male actors, people would hate it even more, because they wouldn’t be restrained from their rants by the fear of coming across as sexist. (Indeed, I suspect this is exactly why they gender-swapped the characters in the reboot; protection against angry fans.)

    What they could have done was produce a sequel focusing on the daughters of the original Ghostbusters, who have long since retired.

    Between these two options, one pisses the fans of the original off, and one could actually be pretty great. One rehashes the same explored territory with flashier graphics, the other has some new territory to explore.

    Imagine a Groundhogs Day sequel, by comparison. Phil’s been visiting the city every year since then. And his materialistic millennial daughter runs into the same phenomenon one year when contrived events cause her to get forced to go with him. Hey, look, it’s new material to cover; she has someone to talk to, even if he doesn’t remember the conversations from day to day. And you’ve done the gender swap in a way that doesn’t come across as pandering.

    • hlynkacg says:

      You are speaking entirely too much sense to be allowed any where near a Sony Pictures production.

    • BBA says:

      This is one of the few things the recent sequel/remake of “Vacation” got right – it’s about Rusty Griswold taking his family on a cross-country road trip just like the one his dad took him on when he was a kid. Sadly the movie was a lazily-written retread and let the good premise go to waste, but it was a good premise.

      For the new Ghostbusters – one of the abandoned ideas from the original is that the operation grew into a nationwide chain. Why redo the origin story? Just say, these four women are running the Boston office, and run from there. (Seriously, why shoot a movie in Boston and call it New York? Aside from the tax break race-to-the-bottom.)

      • God Damn John Jay says:

        one of the abandoned ideas from the original is that the operation grew into a nationwide chain

        Basically, Office Space but for Ghostbusters, having to deal with insane paperwork and bureaucracy. There have been worse ideas.

      • Urstoff says:

        Hollywood is far too obsessed with origin stories to do anything like that.

        • onyomi says:

          I am so sick of origin stories. But I think the problem is they’re easy to do: spend the whole movie setting things up and hitting all the necessary points to provide an origin for, say, Batman, and you don’t actually have to do anything or worry about implications or payoff for any of the setup.

      • Aegeus says:

        If you want a Ghostbusters franchise story, and you’re alright with fanfics, look up “Ghostbusters: Japan” on the /tg/ archives.

        It was a pretty slick quest – it incorporated a lot of cool stuff from the comics and the game, and blending it with Japanese culture (both modern and mythological) led to a lot of interesting situations. It petered out right before the end, but the author posted the ending outline so the story is complete.

    • arbitrary_greay says:

      Execution is everything. If premise alone got points, then the entire genre of “Disney straight-to-video children of the the protagonists of the beloved originals go through the exact same adventure their parents did sequel” would be a well-regarded body of films.

      Lion King is species-swapped Hamlet. Lion King 2 is species-swapped Romeo and Juliet. One of them tried to explore new territory from its predecessor. The other got an Oscar.

      Let’s not forget that the Soderbergh Ocean’s 11 is beloved, Magnificent Seven is still critically acclaimed (with a remake already on its way), and the most iconic Ben Hur adaptation is literally a shot-for-shot remake. So forgive me if “if they had remade it with modern male actors, people would hate it even more” doesn’t sound plausible.

      • Nornagest says:

        I remember Lion King 2 as being pretty decent as direct-to-video sequels go. Nowhere near as good as its predecessor, but that’s mainly down to much lower production values; there’s nothing fundamentally bad about the concept, or even mostly about the writing.

        • Arbitrary_greay says:

          Yes, it was better out of the batch, but that’s not saying much at all. The very best of the Disney DTV sequels don’t match to their originals, which are, mind you, mostly adaptations of existing fairy tales. So, really, all of the sequels are plumbing more original material than their predecessors. Hooray for creativity?
          It also points to how much execution matters. Those production values matter. Without them, we pick more on the acting, and the little janky details of the writing come to our attention much more. The best Ghostbusters sequel-not-reboot script could become a rotten film if not made well.
          On the other side of the spectrum, most good horror/thriller films are nothing but aesthetic and execution. Flimsy plot and character to justify the leveraging of every directing trick in the book in creating a specific visceral atmosphere.

          Consensus among film critics about Shonda Rhimes’ upcoming Romeo and Juliet sequel is mostly trepidation and skepticism, compared to the acclaim for just straight having Denzel Washington play Don Pedro in the Branagh Much Ado.

          More thoughts not in direct reply to Nornagest:
          In addition, there is a power in demographic-swapping a character. Orphan Wilde’s argument seems to be a variation on the old “why not make new characters/stories?”
          Marvel has done this to an extent recently, with Kamala Khan, with Sam Wilson, with the new Thor, and now the new Iron Man. But while making a Miles Morales movie would have its advantages in terms of impact, so would making a movie where Peter Parker is black and gay.
          This is why they’re choosing to make reboot!Sulu gay, instead of making a new character. Making a classic Dr. Who character canonically change genders across regenerations has more impact than inventing a new Time Lord just to do that. Bondgirls and Doctor Companions alike have run the gamut of demographics, but don’t have as much of impact as changing James and the Doctor themselves. Creating a myriad of other-demographic Batman Inc. characters has a different impact from changing Bruce Wayne. Having Sherlock team up with an Asian Joan Watson from the get go is a very different story from having Sherlock ditch John for some new Asian lady. Putting a lady knight in King Arthur’s court explores different territory from King Arturia.

          Just earlier today, I fondly reminisced on all of the discussions on Asian-American Third Culture Kid subtext I had concerning the Asian-swapped characters in the Lizzie Bennett Diaries. I’ll take the hit on “creativity,” if I can get more that!

          And for all of the hullaballoo around Ghostbusters, even including the upcoming ladies Ocean’s, that’s a tiiiiiiiiiiiiiny fraction of movies in an industry where sausage fest franchises still abound, both original and remakes. I’m getting rather uncharitable “cry me a river” feels on this issue.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Comedian Thom Tuck talks about his adventures watching the straight-to-DVD Disney animated movies here; you may enjoy.

          • Jiro says:

            >Putting a lady knight in King Arthur’s court explores different territory from King Arturia.

            And that will never happen.

            (Also note that two of those three are aimed at girls, and none of them is social justice. And that unlike Iron Man, creating a work about a female King Arthur doesn’t crowd out stories about a male King Arthur.)

          • Arbitrary_greay says:

            @Jiro:

            I’m aware of those examples. And I’m not fundamentally against the other “create a new character” option, (I love Jane Yolen’s take on Guinevere) but Orphan Wilde’s original argument was more along the lines of “demographic-swapping original characters is bad/uncreative.”

            I’m pointing out that you get a different sort of impact. Like with Avalon High, the initial assumption is that the protagonist is not Arthur. Indeed, she is not Arthur in the original novel, but the Lady in the Lake. I think the film is s somewhat stronger for that change.

            And as you point out, stories of a female Arthur still exist amongst plenty of regular male King Arthur stories. Female Ghostbusters doesn’t make the original film and its sequels and its cartoons and its video games go away, or any other stories about all-male supernatural hunter teams. And demographic-swapping doesn’t even have to be about social justice. It can be about…dun dun dun…artistic creativity.

            (I intentionally referenced Arturia to point out how it’s been done without being a Big Political Agenda. For another existing comparison, the TV show Elementary is the one with Joan Watson. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice book series takes the “invent a new character” approach. Guess which one gets the Mary Sue accusations.)

          • Jiro says:

            Female Ghostbusters doesn’t make the original film and its sequels and its cartoons and its video games go away, or any other stories about all-male supernatural hunter teams.

            But there’s only one Ghostbusters franchise, and they’re not going to be releasing new male Ghostbusters material while they’re trying to promote the female Ghostbusters. And Ghostbusters is still under copyright, so if they don’t release it, nobody else can either.

            And demographic-swapping doesn’t even have to be about social justice. It can be about…dun dun dun…artistic creativity.

            Yes, and works where it’s about artistic creatively read quite a bit differently from works where it’s done for social justice.

            For another existing comparison, the TV show Elementary is the one with Joan Watson. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice book series takes the “invent a new character” approach. Guess which one gets the Mary Sue accusations.

            Creating a new character is more likely to get Mary Sue accusations than changing an old character because when you’re creating a new character, you have more latitude to get rid of any flaws or problems that the original character might have, or to just outshine the original character, and that’s something done to get Mary Sues.

            That being said, you can always “prove” that any type of character is more likely to get Mary Sue accusations by cherry-picking examples. It’s not hard to find many examples of Harry Potter fanfic where the main character is female and a Mary Sue.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Arbitrary_greay:
            I think there is an argument to be made that the poor feelings have much more to do with created expectations than they do with the exact nature of the film.

            As I understand it, until Ramis died, there was a long rumored Ghostbusters 3 in pre-production. When he died, and a Ghostbusters franchise film went forward anyway, without any talk of it being a reboot, the expectation was that it was moving the franchise forward.

            If there had never been a rumored GB3, and it was simply announced as a reboot, then the bad feelings would not have been sparked by the initial trailer, which surprised everyone when it was clearly a reboot.

            In fact that initial trailer spends the first minute selling it as something other than a reboot, doesn’t it? Then the actual footage screams reboot.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Just earlier today, I fondly reminisced on all of the discussions on Asian-American Third Culture Kid subtext I had concerning the Asian-swapped characters in the Lizzie Bennett Diaries. I’ll take the hit on “creativity,” if I can get more that!

            Glad you liked it. Now if someone doesn’t like it, are they allowed to politely and calmly not like it without being attacked by the media? cf. what happened to James Rolfe?

            See, that’s the problem here. Go ahead and make a new version of a thing with demographic-swapped characters, if you want. It’s a free country. Just don’t ram it down the throats of people who prefer the original. I’m not saying that you personally are doing that or even supporting it, but I am saying that’s standard operating procedure nowadays.

          • Nornagest says:

            I intentionally referenced Arturia to point out how it’s been done without being a Big Political Agenda.

            For what it’s worth, every time someone mentions Fate/stay night around one of my more SJ-inclined friends, she says something like “isn’t that the game where King Arthur’s a twelve-year-old girl that you fuck?” So it’s not without political undertones, in at least one case — just not the same political undertones.

      • John Schilling says:

        Let’s not forget that the Soderbergh Ocean’s 11 is beloved, Magnificent Seven is still critically acclaimed (with a remake already on its way), and the most iconic Ben Hur adaptation is literally a shot-for-shot remake.

        Any comedy examples? I can’t think of any, and I think it matters a lot. Too many jokes are funny-once, and if you are confined to the same story with the same characters but can’t use the same jokes, lighting is unlikely to strike twice.

        Now, if you find some forgotten comedy gem from the 1930s and want to do a shot-for-shot remake tweaked for a modern setting, sure, that could work. But if any part of the marketing strategy starts with, “remember that movie you liked when you were a kid?”, a shot-for-shot or even scene-for-scene remake seems doomed from the start.

        • Arbitrary_greay says:

          Ghostbusters isn’t strictly a comedy, though. It’s also a genre film. And that can be very important. Little girls who have never seen the original now get to see women kicking ass, without getting inspired by dudes to do it.

          Not having seen the new Ghostbusters, I don’t know if it’s a shot-for-shot remake. I doubt it has the exact same jokes, since each of the main actresses has their own brand of humor, and most good comedies let their talents riff and improvise for certain sequences.

          Browsing Wikipedia’s list of remakes, there’s The Birdcage, which remakes La Cage Aux Folles, which points out that there are remakes and adaptations across languages and media forms all of the time, especially for romcoms. French to English, UK to America, Film to TV to Theater back to Film, English to Korean, Bollywood, etc.
          Quickly skimming for comedies whose remakes have been fairly well-received: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a remake of a Marlon Brando/David Niven film. Walk Don’t Run is a remake of The More the Merrier. Father of the Bride was remade with Steve Martin. Flubber is a remake. Freaky Friday. Fun with Dick and Jane. Miracle on 34th Street. For a race-swap remake, The Nutty Professor. The Parent Trap. Oh man, one of my favorite films of all time, the Hepburn/Grant Holiday, is a remake! And His Girl Friday is the second in a remake line of four films.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            His Girl Friday is an excellent prior example in that the role of Hildy Johnson is a gender-swap! The movie was based on a play (The Front Page) starring two male reporters but the movie version switches Hildy to a woman while changing almost nothing else about the role.

          • Agronomous says:

            …There are remakes and adaptations across languages and media forms all of the time, especially for romcoms.

            My favorite example is CBS’s remake of NBC’s The Office.

    • Agronomous says:

      What they did was produce a gender-swapped version of the original, with mostly cosmetic differences. That’s… not even creative.

      Jeez, would you lay off J. J. Abrams already? It’s been eight months.

      • Nornagest says:

        There are way more intelligent ways to diss The Force Awakens than by saying it’s a gender-swapped retread.

        • Agronomous says:

          I kid. I liked TFA much more than most other people I know, probably because I saw it with my kids. It was their first new Star Wars movie, and they were really into lining up, and getting good seats on the balcony, and even shutting up about the spoilers* on the train ride home.

          They did ask, “Dad, why did everyone clap every time an old person appeared on screen?”

          (*Purjomppm vf Crl’f fvfgre!)

  17. onyomi says:

    Here is Michael Huemer arguing that a lawyer should not defend a client he strongly believes to be guilty.

    I would argue that, in general, if you are a criminal defense attorney, DA, police officer, soldier, juror, judge, or anyone else charged with enforcing or deciding matters of law, you should not enforce a law you think is immoral, you should not convict someone of a crime you do not think is immoral, should not fight in a war you believe to be unjust, etc. etc.

    The usual response is that the system needs people to defend the guilty to uphold the law whatever their personal feelings, etc. But does it really? If you can’t find a single lawyer who believes you’re not obviously guilty, maybe you should go to jail? If you can’t find any decent police officers to enforce the law, maybe it’s a bad law? If you can’t find a jury to convict in good conscience, maybe it shouldn’t be a crime? If you can’t find soldiers to fight in this war in good conscience, maybe it’s an unjust war? etc. etc.

    One possible objection is that this precludes people who have a conscience from being in law enforcement, the army, judges, etc. I think we already have this problem to some extent, but if it were no longer assumed that “he’s just doing his job,” or “it’s not my place to question it,” then there would be, I think, a countervailing incentive to cut back on laws of ambiguous justice, which would be a very good thing.

    • dndnrsn says:

      The obvious problem is that lawyers seeking to find reasons not to defend people where they know the case would not be worth taking could easily find reasons to think the person is guilty.

      • onyomi says:

        Wait, what? We don’t force lawyers to defend people they don’t want to defend? I guess you mean public defenders? Are they not allowed to refuse a case? They get paid regardless, don’t they? So they don’t have a financial incentive not to take the case.

        • dndnrsn says:

          My understanding is that win-loss ratio is something lawyers are concerned about, but I don’t know if this applies to defence.

          I don’t mean that they are being forced – but that a lawyer deciding whether or not to take a defence case might consciously or subconsciously deem hard cases to be guilty.

          • onyomi says:

            Isn’t this a problem regardless?

            Moreover, it seems like the incentives as relate to this are worse if lawyers don’t see anything wrong with defending a guilty defendant. Specifically, they might turn down a hard-to-win case of a defendant they think to be innocent, while accepting an easy-to-win case of a defendant they think to be guilty.

    • Randy M says:

      There’s more to defense than just guilty or not-guilty. I’d agree lawyers shouldn’t take cases in which they must try to defend a non-guilty plea they know to be false, or prosecute a law-suit they know to be fraudulent. They should still be on hand to attempt to inform the client of what the range in punishment is, help present mitigating evidence during sentencing, etc.

      • onyomi says:

        Well, simply providing legal advice is not necessarily problematic, though I’d say if the advice amounts to helping someone you strongly believe to be guilty get off, it is.

        Of course, the lawyer should also be internalizing the burden of proof in his own estimations: if you are 51% confident your client is guilty I think you can try to get him acquitted, because a jury with only 51% certainty of guilt of, say, murder, should also acquit, according to the ethically defensible standards of “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “it is better to let 10 guilty people go free than convict one innocent man.”

        That said, if you believe your client to be guilty of, say, marijuana possession, but also believe laws against marijuana possession to be unethical, then I think you should try to get him off.

        • Randy M says:

          Is the role of the lawyer/trial to do justice, or to discover the truth?
          If you know your client was guilty of possession but feel all available sentences are unjust for that, do you lie or try to make the jury doubt the police testimony or whatever, or look for technicalities, or just argue for leniency in sentencing?

          I’m not sure, I can see arguments either way.

          • Lumifer says:

            The role of a lawyer is neither. A lawyer provides legal services to his client. Discovering the truth or doing justice is not his task.

          • Randy M says:

            I guess you are right; I was thinking of the system, but the part can have a contradictory function than the whole; the lawyers are the fail-safe of the justice system.

        • Anonymous says:

          if you believe your client to be guilty of, say, marijuana possession, but also believe laws against marijuana possession to be unethical and I agree with you, then I think you should try to get him off.

          In general, we don’t want lawyers deciding which laws are good/bad. That’s why we have a legislature. Sure, everyone here is on board when you bring up marijuana, but imagining lawyers in the post-war South saying, “Well, this law is unethical, because it hurts God-fearing men (read:whites), but we won’t take cases that put those people in their place.”

          We already have two stages to manage in getting just law/law-enforcement: legislatures and police/prosecutors. Thankfully, those are both actually part of the gov’t. It’s much better to have defense lawyers just always provide competent defense and have to deal with trying to tweak those two knobs (that we can actually reach) than have to try tweaking all three knobs at the same time (with one of them lying solely outside the democratic process).

          • onyomi says:

            I think having another layer in the enforcement of laws would be a very good thing. Right now it’s: “people vote for it–>enforcement.” What if it were “people vote for it–>enforcers can, in good conscience, enforce it–>enforcement”?

            Has more harm throughout history been done by people defying the law to follow their conscience, or by people “just following orders”?

          • Nornagest says:

            Prosecutors already have quite a bit of discretion.

      • But there are plenty or circumstances where we (at least most Americans) believe that lawyers should defend clients they know to be wrong.

        For instance, if the police unlawfully and without probably cause search a property and discover evidence of a crime, then the prosecution presents that evidence in court, the defense attorney will (and should) get the evidence thrown out; even if the evidence convinces the defense attorney that his client is guilty.

        • onyomi says:

          Why should the lawyer get the improperly discovered evidence thrown out if he knows it will result in an unjust outcome, such as a killer walking free? Improperly discovering evidence is bad, but, then, so, too is a killer walking free. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

          • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

            Because incentives.

            If the police can get away with illegal searches, they are going to illegally search everyone. Preventing the tyranny of the government is more important than convicting a single murderer (who probably isn’t going to do it again anyway).

          • The exclusionary rule is a pretty weak incentive not to engage in illegal searches. Better to make violators liable in tort.

            Huckle v. Money.

          • John Schilling says:

            Better to make violators liable in tort.

            Better, but probably not possible in practice. Jurors will nullify any such liability, and police unions will make sure any awards that juries do award will be paid by the taxpayers, not the actual policemen.

    • Lumifer says:

      But does it really?

      There is a balance. On the one hand you do want the conscience of people to stand in the way of bad laws/wars/etc. On the other hand, running a justice system on the basis of public opinion sounds like a terrible idea.

      • onyomi says:

        “running a justice system on the basis of public opinion sounds like a terrible idea.”

        Why? I’d rather a system in which laws much of the public feels ambivalent about doesn’t get enforced.

        • Lumifer says:

          Oh, dear. Do we really have to go into why the rule of law is a good thing?

        • Ivy says:

          I’d rather a system in which laws much of the public feels ambivalent about doesn’t get enforced.

          I would like that system, but I’m afraid that’s not what basing legal decisions on public opinion will lead to. It’s not that laws wouldn’t get enforced, but that they would get enforced selectively, undermining the rule of law. For example, you would expect a lot more vigilantism to go unpunished.

        • hlynkacg says:

          @ Lumifer:
          We have met the enemy and he is us.

    • John Schilling says:

      A formally-accused criminal without a lawyer will be convicted and sent to prison for however long the prosecution wants them there. One can imagine legal systems where this is not the case, but we don’t have one of those and it’s not likely we will in the foreseeable future.

      So, if lawyers are allowed to make a habit of declining cases from guilty defendants, guilty defendants will all obviously tell their lawyers, “I didn’t do it”. Which brings us to,

      1. Lawyers accept those claims at face value, bringing us exactly where we are now but with an extra layer of deliberate lying

      2. Lawyers try to figure out whether prospective clients are lying about their innocence, so as to reject the guilty ones. This replaces a justice system where an adversarial trial in open court determines who goes to prison, with one where the private decisions of lawyers based on little more than gut feel determines who goes to prison.

      3. Like #2, but if you offer your lawyer enough money he won’t care whether you’re guilty or not.

      I don’t see how any of these are at all desirable, and I would be strongly opposed to making this change.

      • onyomi says:

        “strongly opposed to making this change.”

        Note that I’m only proposing a normative change, not a legal one. I’m not saying, for example, that we should start trying lawyers for the crime of defending a defendant they know to be guilty.

        • John Schilling says:

          You are proposing at minimum a change in the rules of legal ethics; I’m not sure whether actual statutory changes are required.

          And it’s a bad idea even if it is entirely voluntary. If I found that our justice system allowed lawyers to behave in the manner you describe and that lawyers generally did behave in the manner you describe, I would no longer consider it worthy of being called a “justice system”.

      • onyomi says:

        What about:

        4. The first lawyer assigned to you, or whom you try to hire doesn’t believe you’re not guilty, so you request or hire another one until you find one who does?

        If the result is people who can’t find a single lawyer who thinks there’s a reasonable doubt about their guilt or the morality of the law go without legal representation and have to plead guilty or go it alone, that doesn’t sound so bad to me. If not a single lawyer can be found who believes there’s a reasonable doubt about your guilt, then you’re probably wasting the court’s time, anyway.

        • John Schilling says:

          That results in an intolerable workload for lawyers in considering and rejecting requests from desperate but obviously guilty clients, unless they adopt the obvious heuristic of “his last three attorneys turned him down so I’m not giving him the time of day”. In which case we’re back where we started, except now it’s a jury of three-ish lawyers deciding the suspect’s guilt.

        • JayT says:

          Doesn’t that just mean that rich clients get lawyers and poor ones don’t? You can always find someone to look the other way for enough money.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @onyomi:
        Schilling is making a very important point that you are eliding.

        The system of jurisprudence that we have is adversarial.

        It is not a truth-seeking system. The judge, the prosecutor, the defense and the system are not charged with finding or presenting the truth They aren’t allowed to lie, but that is not the same thing.

        There are, I believe, judicial models based on truth-seeking, but we don’t have one (and I don’t know how they work or how well they work). Actually, I really want to dig into that topic at some point.

        • Nornagest says:

          There are, I believe, judicial models based on truth-seeking, but we don’t have one (and I don’t know how they work or how well they work).

          They’re called inquisitorial systems, and they’re common in places with legal systems descended from civil law (which includes most of continental Europe). Often the judge, or a panel of judges, takes the role in deciding the facts of the case that juries have in common law systems, and also adopts some aspects of the prosecutor’s role.

          The mixed incentives inherent in the system strike me as a flaw, but not an insoluble one. How well they work relative to jury trial systems probably depends a lot on judicial culture and the details of procedure.

        • onyomi says:

          In my view, the point of a justice system should be to do justice.

          Ideal justice is 100% of people guilty of crimes that should be crimes get punished. 0% of people not guilty of crimes, or guilty of things that are illegal but shouldn’t be get punished. Obviously that is just the ideal and not possible in reality, but we can aim for it.*

          The question is, does having this adversarial system where lawyers frequently defend clients they strongly believe to be guilty get us closer or farther away from this ideal? I think it takes us farther away. Firstly, because a great deal of expense and effort is spent defending people who are almost certainly guilty; second, because judges and juries know it’s adversarial and that lawyer will defend Charles Manson, meaning there’s no presumption that the lawyer is acting in good faith.

          On the other side, DAs prosecute crimes which they themselves don’t believe should be crimes.

          I think a system in which the judge and jury knew that both sides were acting in good faith–that they genuinely believed they were furthering the interests of justice–would, in fact, bring us closer to justice, because that’s what all the legal effort would be aimed toward. That is, DAs would not waste time and energy trying to convict people guilty of crimes that shouldn’t be crimes, and defense attorneys would not expend time and energy trying to get people acquitted whom they strongly believed to be guilty. This adds an extra layer of justice-seeking, increasing, not decreasing the probability of justice being done.

          And, like I said below, the fact that defendants who seem really guilty would have a hard time finding counsel would be countervailed by the fact that juries would presume that defense counsel really believed in the case they were arguing.

          *I do think it’s better to have 10 guilty people go free than punish 1 innocent person, so that also must be taken into account. But that doesn’t mean it’s better to have 1000 guilty people go free than 1 innocent person be punished; it just changes the calculation of what compromises have to be made.

          • Randy M says:

            I think a system in which the judge and jury knew that both sides were acting in good faith

            The system needs more resiliency. Sometimes there will be participants acting in bad faith no matter what the goal is, so setting it up so that they all have incentives to win, with the truth giving an edge to the righteous side, will be superior.

          • Nornagest says:

            a great deal of expense and effort is spent defending people who are almost certainly guilty

            I wonder how true this is. Something like 95 percent of defendants plead guilty, usually as part of a plea bargain. No doubt some of those plea bargains were undertaken by innocent people, and no doubt some of the people that plead innocent weren’t, but if only 5% of cases were ambiguous enough or involved a defendant stubborn or stupid enough to require a trial defense, that strikes me as a pretty good hit rate all things considered.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Again, you are just ignoring the system we actually have. Merely changing one aspect of a system designed to produce something completely different than you desire is not going to produce your desired result.

            The system we have might be considered a reaction to a system in which the state simply decided who was guilty and punished them (with predicable results). Justice, in that light, is having a chance to present your case to someone, whether it be a judge or a jury.

            And, indeed, if you look at some very important legal concepts like habeus corpus, you see that the judiciary was asserting its right to act as a check on the executive (the police, in this case).

            The system we have is specifically designed to protect against the kinds of abuses that can come when the state simply decides the guilt or innocence of someone. You are proposing to undo some of those protections without designing a different system to guard against the inevitable failures involved with providing no defense for people you “know” to be guilty.

            To some extent, we can see an adversarial system as epistemically humble, in that the system doesn’t presume that we can actually truly know guilt or innocence, rather, we can only engage in a process that lets the best argument win.

          • Lumifer says:

            I think the basic mistake you’re making is that you’re assuming that the cops, the prosecutors, and the judges are all good guys. To phrase it in an extreme form, that they are all virtuous and enlightened philosopher-kinds interested in nothing but justice.

            What happens if you relax that assumption?

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC,

            How does having attorneys argue in favor of outcomes they believe to be unjust increase the probability of justice being done?

            What about our current system would make a change in legal ethics such as the one I’m proposing produce bad results?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            “I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It”

            You are essentially asking a question equivalent to “have you stopped beating your wife?” The steelman defense attorney regards an unrepresented client to be an inherent injustice. It is not their role to determine whether they think the client guilty or innocent and they do not attempt to do so.

            They present the defense case, to the best of their ability, because that is is the only the way the system as a whole can be just.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ onyomi

            You want to replace the trial by the jury of your peers with the trial by your own attorney.

          • onyomi says:

            @HBC,

            By talking about what is or isn’t someone’s “role,” you seem merely to be describing the status quo and its rationale, but not actually making an argument for why it’s superior to the change I’m proposing. How does having people argue for outcomes they believe to be unjust increase the probability of justice being done?

            As for the idea that the system as a whole is better served by a rule which may, in the individual case be unjust, see this part of Huemer’s video re. problems with rule consequentialism.

          • onyomi says:

            “You want to replace the trial by the jury of your peers with the trial by your own attorney.”

            Defense attorneys, who make a living defending people are, if anything biased towards believing that their defendants may have some case to make about reasonable doubt. If you can’t even convince a single defense attorney, who works for you, or whom the state is paying on your behalf, what chance do you have of convincing a jury?

            Consider the analogue of a civil case: if you can’t convince a single personal injury lawyer that you might deserve recompense for an injury suffered, how likely are you really to deserve recompense?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ onyomi

            what chance do you have

            I don’t think you’re addressing the main point of the argument.

            if you can’t convince a single personal injury lawyer that you might deserve recompense for an injury suffered, how likely are you really to deserve recompense?

            First, I don’t understand the phrase “really deserve”. Who decides that?

            Second, personal injury lawyers don’t care about “deserve”. They care whether the defendant has deep pockets. If you’re poor and your recompense is a $1000 with no chances of a class lawsuit, no personal injury lawyer will take your case.

          • onyomi says:

            Re. the idea of “have both sides do their best and let the best argument win,” let’s consider the case of truth-seeking in a broader sense.

            We probably think it’s a good thing for scientists, say, to have to debate their claims with people who think they’re wrong. If they are, in fact, wrong, they’re more likely to lose the debate. And even if they’re right, they might see weaknesses in their case, forcing them not to be overconfident, and to be more rigorous in this and future cases.

            But would it be a good idea to have public debates about issues for which you could find no scientist who honestly believed in the opposing case. Let’s say the proposal is “true or false: all politicians are secretly lizardmen.” Does it further the search for truth to make real scientists debate this issue even if we can’t find a single scientist who genuinely believes the proposition? Would it be a good idea to pay people to argue the lizardman case even if they didn’t believe it, since that would be the only way to get at the truth–to present both sides and let the better argument win?

          • Jiro says:

            The question is, does having this adversarial system where lawyers frequently defend clients they strongly believe to be guilty get us closer or farther away from this ideal? I think it takes us farther away.

            Rationalists have this tendcy to say”if applying this idea to the current situation would be good/bad, then the idea is good/bad”. This ignores the effect of incentives.

            If lawyers are permitted to turn down guilty clients, that will improve justice in the specific instances where guilty clients are turned down, but it would result in a greater loss of justice because lawyers would start guessing whether more clients are guilty, changing the system from a trial by judge and jury to a trial by lawyer.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Onyomi – “But would it be a good idea to have public debates about issues for which you could find no scientist who honestly believed in the opposing case.”

            Consider that many academic disciplines are 90%+ liberal. Consider the replication crisis. I have pretty much zero faith in scientific consensus on anything with even the slightest connection to politics. guilt, innocence and justice definately count.

          • onyomi says:

            @Faceless

            Note my hypothetical wasn’t about scientific consensus; it was: should we pay scientists who don’t even believe what they’re arguing to argue some case just because no one else will?

            To have a good faith scientific debate on an issue you only need one scientist who believes the unpopular theory. In the jury example the defendant doesnt need to achieve consensus in his favor. He just needs to find one lawyer who can argue his case in good conscience.

          • leary says:

            “Under ancient Jewish law, if a suspect on trial was unanimously found guilty by all judges, then the suspect was acquitted. This reasoning sounds counterintuitive, but the legislators of the time had noticed that unanimous agreement often indicates the presence of systemic error in the judicial process, even if the exact nature of the error is yet to be discovered.”

            http://phys.org/news/2016-01-evidence-bad.html

    • bluto says:

      The defense lawyer is there to force the government to make it’s case that you’re guilty and that the government didn’t break any of the rules imposed on it in proving that guilt. The power to kill, fine, or spend years in confinement is a massive power, and rightfully the citizens have collectively decided that the government should follow very strict rules in how they go about deciding whom to punish in that manner. Even guilty people deserve to have the government show that they followed the rules. I would also strongly oppose making such a change (a change like that would be enough to make go to law school in the middle of my non-law career).

      • onyomi says:

        If someone commits a murder but the government flubs the case by, say, mishandling evidence, do you think they should go free?

        • JayT says:

          Isn’t that a better outcome than an innocent person going to jail because the government fabricates evidence?

          • onyomi says:

            If the innocent person can find a single lawyer who believes him not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which case would be made stronger also in the lawyer’s mind by mishandling of evidence, then there’s no reason that lawyer can’t still use the mishandled evidence to get him off.

            The real question is: what is the probability that someone who can’t find a single lawyer to believe he’s not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is, in fact, innocent? 1%? .0001%? The general standard is that it’s better to let off 10 guilty people than convict one innocent man; that doesn’t mean it’s better to let off 1000 guilty people than convict one innocent man.

            Also, you guys are failing to take into account a countervailing factor: if this were to become a norm, then judges and juries would know that the client has already convinced his own attorney. In other words, he’s already cleared a certain hurdle. This would make juries less inclined to convict those defendants whose cases do go to trial. I think this would result in both fewer convictions of the innocent and less wasted time on obviously guilty defendants.

            In other words, there is a way in which this would force the state to do “its homework” better, because they’ll know there is a greater presumption against them when lawyers aren’t assumed to often defend obviously guilty clients.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            onyomi –

            That isn’t how people work.

          • John Schilling says:

            Also, you guys are failing to take into account a countervailing factor: if this were to become a norm, then judges and juries would know that the client has already convinced his own attorney

            Or that he was not able to convince his attorney, yes, we understand.

            Instead of the decision to convict or acquit being based on evidence presented and examined in open court, you propose that decision should be based at least in part on the outcome of a private meeting with a lawyer. And you propose that this would be an improvement.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ onyomi

            You’re theorycrafting very very far away from reality.

          • Saint Fiasco says:

            I read that some overworked public defenders just tell their clients to plead guilty to save time and effort. Their time and effort, that is. They don’t give a shit about their (often poor) clients.

          • onyomi says:

            “I read that some overworked public defenders just tell their clients to plead guilty to save time and effort. Their time and effort, that is. They don’t give a shit about their (often poor) clients.”

            Part of the problem may be that in the current system, public defenders are expected to put on a defense even for clients they know to obviously be guilty. We would expect them to try to get such clients to plead guilty and save them the trouble in such a system, as they seem, in reality to do.

            If the public defenders were allowed to refuse to represent clients they strongly believed to be guilty (presumably this would require having at least a few public defenders, so if public defender 1 doesn’t like your case it doesn’t automatically result in no representation, because you can try public defenders 2, 3, and 4) then that would free up their time and energy to focus on the clients they genuinely believe to possibly be innocent.

            Plus, it sounds like that’s sort of what already happens in a de facto sense: if you were a public defender and you saw 10 clients per day but only had time to do a really good job on 1, and 9 out of 10 of your clients seemed obviously guilty, but one seemed possibly innocent, which of your clients would you advise to plead guilty and which to go to trial?

            All that would change under what I’m proposing is that you’d be free to defend the client you really believed to possibly be innocent, and not spend a lot of time on stubborn ones who insist on going to trial despite having no chance.

          • Saint Fiasco says:

            you’d be free to defend the client you really believed to possibly be innocent, and not spend a lot of time on stubborn ones who insist on going to trial despite having no chance.

            Then popular, charismatic people with lots of friends and high status in their communities would be even more advantaged than they are now.

            Conversely, if you are from a marginalized minority people could accuse you of whatever knowing no public defender would waste their time with you. They wouldn’t even need to fake convincing evidence: Just bluff and the public defenders will find easier clients to defend.

          • onyomi says:

            People who become public defenders and do pro bono work don’t do so because it’s glamorous, lucrative work. They do it largely for the sake of helping poor people, many of whom are minorities. They are probably less biased against poor people and minorities than your average jury member.

          • JayT says:

            My prior was always that public defenders were lawyers who weren’t good enough to get on at major firms…

          • Jordan D. says:

            Anecdata, of course, but all of the public defenders I know do it because they believe very strongly that the judicial system is biased in favor of prosecution and that this is the best way to serve the cause of justice. I have no doubt that there must exist some who simply couldn’t find a job elsewhere, but I have not yet met them.

            It’s simply such an incredibly thankless,* low-paying and emotionally-draining job that I can’t imagine many people surviving it if they don’t believe in the justice of their cause.

            *When a public defender goes to trial and loses, their clients actually often turn around and sue them afterwards. It happens all the time.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            I wonder what the likely results would be if, instead of separate prosecutor career tracks and public defender career tracks, there was simply one type of lawyer – call them a public criminal attorney or something, who was randomly allocated to the prosecution side or the defence side in every case that came up.

            That sounds like it would select for people who had a stake in the accuracy of the legal system, as opposed to a desire to secure as many convictions as possible (unless there are a lot of people out there who would take pride in both the number of accused they got locked up as a prosecutor and the number of accused they helped go free as defence agent), though might be harder to implement than some of the lower-hanging fruit like ending the war on drugs.

            I guess you’d also ideally want to make equal amounts of funding available to the public criminal attorneys on either side of the case, though I’m not sure whether that would be more or less likely than actually amalgamating the roles in the first place, or indeed more or less impactful on the perceived lack of justice in the justice system.

          • Jordan D. says:

            @Winter Shaker – Well, consider that, outside of the federal system, most prosecutors are elected or employees of an elected official, who sets the policy for the office. Someone like myself, who thinks that accuracy and objectivity are high virtues in prosecutors, could stomach seeing that replaced, but I think most citizens prefer their law-and-order choices.

            So that could be a tough sell, and would require a LOT of re-vamping the system.

          • Protagoras says:

            @JayT, There is little money available for public defenders, and so few openings, and there appear to be enough idealists competing for the jobs that it’s actually difficult to find work as a public defender. It seems to be mostly the idealists who bother (though overwork and low pay often produces burnout).

        • Orphan Wilde says:

          Yes.

          If they’ve “flubbed” one piece of evidence, they may have “flubbed” others.

        • Lumifer says:

          Yes.

          Consider the consequences of “no”, in particular the incentives for prosecutors.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          “If someone commits a murder but the government flubs the case by, say, mishandling evidence, do you think they should go free?”

          Yes. Yes yes yes yes. A thousand times yes. Yes.

          • onyomi says:

            Why? I’m guessing the next person they murder would disagree with you?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            onyomi –

            You’re operating under the misapprehension that the purpose of the Justice System is to maximize justice.

            It isn’t. Its purpose is to minimize injustice.

            That’s why innocent until proven guilty – because we prefer guilty people not be punished to innocent people being punished.

            The Justice System, by and large, exists to mitigate vigilante justice; we have a Justice System, not because the alternative is nothing, but because the alternative is worse for the innocent.

          • onyomi says:

            I think minimizing sending innocent people to jail is part of justice. The normal standard is “better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be jailed,” but that doesn’t mean “better that 1000 guilty men go free than one innocent man be jailed.”

            If the goal were really just to minimize the probability of an innocent person going to jail, then we should never send anyone to jail.

            Related, I am again not proposing that a lawyer should not defend someone he thinks is 51% likely to be guilty of murder; rather, as a jury should only convict someone of murder when there exists no reasonable doubt, similarly a defense attorney could ethically defend someone about whose guilt he had a reasonable doubt, even if he believed him more likely guilty than not.

            I am simply saying that a lawyer should not try to convince a jury that there exists a reasonable doubt when he himself believes there does not.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            onyomi –

            Putting nobody in jail brings us right back to vigilante justice.

            A quick concept for you to puzzle over: If Texas stopped permitting capital punishment, would the number of people suspected of crimes who survive go up? Or down?

          • gbdub says:

            “The Justice System, by and large, exists to mitigate vigilante justice; we have a Justice System, not because the alternative is nothing, but because the alternative is worse for the innocent.”

            One quote I’ve seen is something like “The police don’t exist to protect the innocent from criminals. They exist to protect criminals from what the innocent would otherwise do to them”

            Which may be a bit of an… ah… aspirational goal, but I kind of like the sentiment. If we threw out the courts and cops, we’d still find a way to punish criminals. It would likely be rather more brutal and less “just”. So the farther we get from vigilante/inquisition-like “he sure seems guilty, let’s lynch ‘im!”, the better, and that includes ensuring that everyone has the option of a vigorous defense in front of a jury if they choose.

          • onyomi says:

            @Orphan Wilde

            I’m not proposing we send no one to jail; I’m saying that that is the absurd logical endpoint of your contention that the point of the justice system is to minimize the probability of sending innocent people to jail. Minimizing sending innocent people to jail is one aspect of justice, but so, too, is minimizing letting guilty people go free (though, again, as I said, I accept that it’s better to err on the side of letting guilty people go free than the reverse).

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            onyomi –

            You miss my point.

            The Justice System doesn’t exist to dispense justice. It exists so people have faith that an institution exists to dispense justice, thereby preventing them from feeling the need to provide their own.

            You appear to be one of those people it exists to protect society against.

          • onyomi says:

            @Orphan Wilde,

            You seem to be arguing about the function of having a legal system in society. I am not arguing that we should not have a legal system.

            And to the extent a legal system exists so people have faith justice will be done and don’t resort to vigilante justice, the change I’m proposing where lawyers don’t advocate for outcomes they themselves believe to be unjust, should increase public faith in justice being done without viginlantism.

            If it is common knowledge that lawyers generally only argue for outcomes they themselves believe to be just, then that should increase public faith in the justice system, just as, for example, the OJ Simpson verdict decreased faith in that system (and I’m presuming here that Johnny Cochran didn’t really believe OJ to be innocent, or, at least, that many people perceived him not to be acting in good faith).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Onyomi – the point of the justice system is not to maximize justice, but rather peace and prosperity. Some level of justice is a means to that end, and additional justice past the point of diminishing returns is harmful. Contemplate the meanings of the phrase “police state”, and consider the saying “the law is made for man, not man for the law”.

          • onyomi says:

            What kind of justice system maximizes peace and prosperity? I’d argue it’s one in which the public have faith that justice will be done and don’t have to resort to private solutions like vigilantism. And for the reasons stated above in my response to Orphan Wilde, the change I’m proposing seems like it would increase public faith, as the OJ Simpson trial–widely believed to be a case of unjust advocacy on the defense’s part–decreased public faith.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            onyomi –

            Again, you seem like the sort of vigilante-justice-inclined-person the Justice System is protecting the rest of us from.

            Consider the Justice System our compromise with you. No, we don’t want to live in your society, this is how we all get along and live together.

          • Randy M says:

            “The rest of us”? There’s probably as many people who don’t care to see those guilty of serious crimes face consequences as there are who don’t care if their spouse cheats.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @onyomi – “For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy.”

            -G.K.Chesterton

            Longer replies later, have to start work. interesting thread, though.

          • Aegeus says:

            And on your side, @onyomi, the next guy who gets cops kicking down his door without a warrant will disagree with you. If you argue that the government should be able to score a conviction regardless of what rules they broke to get it, you’re basically arguing that the Fourth and Fifth amendments shouldn’t exist.

            And sure, that sounds fine in your example where it’s stated in the hypothetical that the guy is guilty, and the 4th and 5th amendments are just obstacles in the way of proving that. But in real life you don’t know that. You don’t know if it’s an obstacle between you and a criminal, or a shield protecting an innocent man.

            Here’s a thought experiment for you: The cops arrest a suspect, but they can’t prove he did it. So they beat him until he confesses. Nothing wrong with that, right? They did what they had to do to put a guilty man in jail. And no lawyer would defend him (since he confessed) so he must be guilty, right? See the problem with this logic?

          • onyomi says:

            @Aegus

            I’m not arguing that, if you believe someone to be guilty, you should do anything to get a conviction. It is conceivable that whatever you do to get that conviction is even worse, ethically speaking, than the person going free.

            That said, I still think there should be a moral calculation. For example, most people believe lying is generally wrong, but that it is okay to lie to an ax murderer. Similarly, it might be ethical to bend the rules very slightly to convict an obvious ax murderer, where it would be unethical to bend the rules strongly, or even slightly, to convict a non-violent pot dealer.

          • Aegeus says:

            The problem isn’t just unethical behavior, it’s uncertainty. The argument is that the unethical behavior is justified if the guy is guilty, but how do you know he’s guilty before you hold the trial? And more importantly, do you trust the government to make that decision?

            If he’s obviously an axe murderer, if you caught him red-handed standing over the body with a bloody axe, why do you need to break the rules to nail him? If he’s not obviously guilty, then how do you know you’re justified in breaking the rules?

          • gmu jr. says:

            What pisses me off is the fact that I will (next year) have to pay for that legal representation. Because some hypothetical lowlife with guilty optics cannot afford a lawyer, (soon) i’ll be justified in regularly conjuring myself being held at gunpoint and robbed by elitist thugs.

            And since the guilty enjoy this right to my (future) hard-earned dollars, today i insist some limit be placed on the extent of the largesse awarded to the arrested through the good graces of the free.

            Scott, glad you came out as a proud libertarian! Usually age thirty is where people drop out due to life experience. Glad to have you. Go Patriots!

          • Jiro says:

            The arrested are given largesse because the government is using its monopoly of force to make the arrests. If the government is arresting people, it should make the arrests fair. If you don’t like this, tell the government to stop arresting people. But if you do want the government to arrest people, then you need to pay for fair arrests, even if they cost more than unfair arrests.

            Also, someone who is arrested is not “the guilty”.

        • bluto says:

          Yes, mishandled evidence means that there’s a possibility the government is faking the evidence and allowing the government to fake evidence is a very bad thing.

          • onyomi says:

            But the government could still be brought to task for mishandling evidence in any case where a defense attorney (who, being in the profession of defending people, are, if anything, likely to be biased in favor of believing in defendants’ cases) believes that the mishandling raises a reasonable doubt as to the validity of the state’s case.

          • Saint Fiasco says:

            any case where a defense attorney… believes that the mishandling raises a reasonable doubt as to the validity of the state’s case

            But that’s every case.
            Sometimes the government can manufacture evidence and get away with it if they are very convincing. If the cases where the government manufactures evidence weren’t immediately thrown out, they would have no incentive not to at least try.

            Just like the fact that some criminals get away unpunished means that when you do catch one you have to punish him even if nobody got hurt, all stolen possessions were returned to their owners, etc. If the only punishment for stealing something were that you have to return the stolen thing there would be no reason not to at least try.

          • onyomi says:

            Well, if the state fabricating evidence should always raise a reasonable doubt in the mind of a potential defense attorney, then the defendants charged with fake evidence should not have trouble finding someone to represent them in good conscience. And the state can still be “punished” by losing a case they presumably think they should win if the fake evidence gets found out. If judges and juries didn’t penalize DAs for faking evidence, then they’d already be trying to fake evidence all the time now.

          • John Schilling says:

            then the defendants charged with fake evidence should not have trouble finding someone to represent them in good conscience

            How, when all the defendants charged with non-fake evidence are calling the all the lawyers and saying “please please please take my case, the cops are charging me with fake evidence and nobody believes me”, and no lawyer has the time to independently investigate all of these claims?

            You are proposing to incentivize every actually guilty criminal to lie to defense attorneys and claim innocence, yet assuming that lawyers will always be able to recognize the actually-innocent. That’s not going to work.

          • bluto says:

            How would you know whether the gov’t was faking evidence without a trial and a defense attorney who knows his client is guilty? Police are much more likely to bend the rules in cases where they know but can’t legitimately prove the result.

          • onyomi says:

            “How would you know whether the gov’t was faking evidence without a trial and a defense attorney who knows his client is guilty?”

            Presumably our biggest worry is about cases when the government fakes evidence to convict an innocent person.

    • Jordan D. says:

      I admit on the front that I haven’t watched the linked video- I have a hard time paying attention to those- and I apologize for responding without having done so.

      I have a few essential problems with this suggestion:

      1) It disincentivizes being a defense attorney. For good or ill, defense attorneys as a subset of the profession have a bad reputation- one of my state’s recent elections featured a candidate being stridently attacked for, as a public defender, ‘taking the side of’ child molesters and murderers. Strong social condemnation is something all of these attorneys would have to think about when deciding whether to take cases- I predict that it would mean that many defense attorneys simply would never take the case of anyone accused of sex crimes, or crimes against minors.

      2) Not having an attorney is a death sentence. Sometimes literally, but mostly metaphorically- if you don’t know any of the rules of court, or evidence, or any precedent, even a reasonably intelligent person is very likely to mangle their case. And quite frankly, a lot of citizens accused are not well-equipped to conduct a complex legal case. There’s also the old adage: ‘The lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.’ This saying persists because, as a party to the case, you are too emotionally invested in your version of it to make a neutral evaluation of the state of the evidence and determine the best way forward.

      3) Most cases aren’t actually about guilt, per se. Of the small percentage of cases which go to trial, the bulk aren’t really in question. Most prosecutors are acting in good faith and bringing cases they think they can win, and they’re usually right. What does matter is whether the prosecution has the evidence to charge them with Second Degree Murder or Manslaughter- decades of the accused’s life rests on that distinction, and the fact that this is the real question in the case seldom comes up until months after counsel needs to decide whether or not to accept the client. If the defenders reject a guy because he clearly killed someone and it only comes out at trial that this should be a manslaughter charge, it’s probably too late.

      4) Just generally speaking, and I know this applies less to defense attorneys, society is very, very, very much against accused citizens. There’s a reason so many prosecutors get appointed and voted into judicial offices, and why so few public defenders do; people have been in love with law-and-order style tough justice for decades. Criminal penalties are super harsh in general, and prosecutors have nigh-unlimited discretion on when, how and what to bring against an accused citizen. Even a highly-ethical prosecutor has strong political and social forces which push him to charge as high as possible, and even clearly-guilty citizens deserve somebody who knows enough about the law to say ‘Whoa, you’ve gone too far on this one’ when it needs to be said.

      As for the discussion up-thread about suppressing illegal evidence:

      This part of the law is kind of incoherent for weird reasons. Notionally, the doctrine of the fruit of the poisonous tree is intended to disincentivize illegal searches… but it doesn’t do that, exactly. Police don’t get punished for a warrantless search; if they do one, it just means the prosecutor maybe doesn’t get to use evidence that he probably wouldn’t have had if they had followed the rules. And heck, even if you can’t use the drugs discovered in the glove box, knowing that the guy has them is valuable in other ways!

      Realistically, the proper answer would be to penalize an investigator who undertakes an illegal search… but society doesn’t have the stomach for that, generally. Whenever someone suggests that, it falls before a great gale of people going ‘No! You’ll terrorize officers into never investigating criminals!’ So we do this instead, in the hopes of prodding officers into getting a warrant. It doesn’t work very well.

      Actually, if you have the time, you should read up on the history of the 4th Amendment, the exclusionary rule and the way states dealt with illegal searches before the Supreme Court decided that the fruit of the poisonous tree applied to everyone. It’s an interesting example of a decades-long struggle to find an acceptable way to deter illegal searches without deterring all searches, and highlights that our current rule is due to the Supreme Court saying ‘Look, nobody’s found a good answer yet, so we’re all going to do this because it seems like the least-insane option.’

      As a practical matter, I’d just note that the Exclusionary Rule, for all that it doesn’t do a lot of good in most cases, also doesn’t get a lot of cases thrown out. If it turns out to be a net bad, it’s a small one.

      • onyomi says:

        Re. 3, note that Huemer doesn’t say you can’t defend someone guilty of anything, only that you shouldn’t advocate for an outcome you believe to be unjust. If the state is charging your client with 1st degree murder, for example, but you believe them guilty of manslaughter, then there’s no reason you can’t ethically advocate that outcome. Similarly, if you believe your client guilty, but the consequences of a guilty verdict would be unjust–say a “three strikes” rule is about to send your client away for 20 years for a nonviolent crime–then you can, in fact, should do what you can to prevent that injustice.

        • Jordan D. says:

          That’s a good and understandable position, but my concern is that the issues on which cases turn aren’t often easy to spot until the case has progressed. What Huemer seems to advocate is that if you can’t find anyone willing to defend you against the murder charge, you should retain counsel who will stick around and watch the case unfolding until they spot something they’re willing to defend against.*

          But this is still a problem because the prosecution’s case changes in response to the defense case. If Mandy Murderson clearly killed someone, they can just put up the crime scene evidence. If Mandy pleads an alibi, now they have to go get proof that she was in town that night. If she claims that someone else did it, now they need that evidence. Maybe THAT’s the evidence that gives the defense reason to jump in- well, too bad, Mandy probably didn’t put on enough of a case herself to ever get that far. If the non-involved defense counsel advise her on how to put that case together properly, then there’s no real distinction between this system and our current system.

          I’m just not sure I see the advantage here.

          *An interesting note- when a defendant insists on going pro se, courts will sometimes have a defense attorney just sit there and watch, so that if the pro se guy comes to his senses and asks for a lawyer, the defense will have some knowledge of the case.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Why did you emphasize “will”? It reads as if it mean “always,” but you immediately followed it by “sometimes.”

          • Jordan D. says:

            I apologize- I meant to emphasize it because when I first learned that I found it surprising, having never considered the possibility. As far as I know it doesn’t happen very often.

            Edit – as a matter of further disclosure, I’d like to say that I don’t work in criminal law. What I know about it comes from exposure during law school and second-hand comments from friends who do.

      • “Realistically, the proper answer would be to penalize an investigator who undertakes an illegal search… but society doesn’t have the stomach for that, generally. ”

        My understanding of the history is that, in the 19th century, police officers were at risk of civil suits for such acts.

        • Jordan D. says:

          Well, sort of. I believe that officers still enjoyed qualified immunity, and therefore it took not only a violation of the 4th Amendment, but one which a court or jury would deem to be a knowing violation. I don’t think there are very many successful examples of suits of that type.

          Edit- and theoretically, I think you can still civilly sue police officers for damages in cases where they’ve acted so egregiously that there is no qualified immunity.

          • brad says:

            Qualified immunity is a recent invention in response to the revival in the early 1960s of §1 of Ku Klux Act (now codified at 42 USC § 1983) which had languished in obscurity since the end of Reconstruction.

            The primary civil remedies, such as they were, against police officers prior to 1961 were state torts.

            In any event, today a bigger issue than even qualified immunity is universal indemnification. No police officer faces any personal financial risk because of it. In theory they face the possibility of administrative sanctions, but between powerful police unions and civil service rules it is all but impossible to punish a police officer for an illegal search. It takes at least brutality to even open the door to employment consequences.

          • Jordan D. says:

            Well, I stand corrected. Perhaps I was thinking of some sort of state common-law immunity? (I know federal agents have never enjoyed that from state or federal common law, but federal agents were historically in the minority of officers, weren’t they?)

            Or maybe not.

            If you can’t make out a reasonable deterrent with civil law, then you’d have to go to criminal law, but most commentators are pretty skeptical that criminal enforcement against officers is a thing which the system is good at. Frankly, at this point, I think the exclusionary rule is probably for the best.

          • brad says:

            In terms of the courts, I think exclusionary rule is about the best you are going to get in the near or medium term future. Though it is pretty awful both in terms of deterrence and because it only benefits the guilty and does nothing at all for the innocent.

            I’d love it if QI was reigned in, but I don’t see any enthusiasm for the idea from anyone on the bench except maybe Sotomayor. That’s a long way from five votes.

            I do think there’s scope for better administrative oversight. But that kind of thing is mostly hashed out at the nitty gritty level of local politics on a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis.

    • Rusty says:

      It really isn’t for the defence lawyer to worry about whether their client is guilty or not. All the lawyer is doing is putting the case the defendant would put if they were as clever/technically capable as the lawyer. Given the state has a clever, technically capable lawyer that is fair enough isn’t it? Or do we let uneducated/stupid/inarticulate people get turned over by the system? Why give the defendant the rights they have but handicap them in exercising them? Everyone should stick to their own job in these cases – the defence lawyer helps their client make the best case available and leaves it to the jury to do the ‘guilty/not guilty’ bit.

      Of course in Scotland we also have the excellent verdict ‘not proven’ which basically means ‘we know you did it but we can’t prove it’. But that’s another story.

  18. Wunderwaffle says:

    Hope effective is CBT when applied to oneself using books and other materials available on the internet for treating non-general anxieties, phobias and general neural fucked-upness?

  19. Aapje says:

    I’ve noticed that a strong debating strategy that people employ is to use their own weakness to attack other people with. An example is when war-dodger George W. Bush attacked (Bronze and Silver Star recipient) John Kerry for being a coward. Or (pro-female) sexists who attack people for being misogynist.

    My theory why this works is that as kids, we’ve been taught that “No, you are X” is a childish and silly way to respond after being called X and that it tends to be a reflexive response to deny being guilty, rather than a real objection. The people who employ the debating strategy take advantage of the subconscious dislike of this debating pattern that people have. Key to this strategy is to accuse the other person first, so she is put into a bind. Either the accused mirrors the accusation, which sounds weak and reactive, rather than well-considered; or she denies the accusation. Research has shown that denying accusations is very ineffective at convincing observers of the debate and can even cause the accusation to be believed more. Probably due to a subconscious link being established between the accusation and the person. When you have a long debate about John (not) being a coward, the neural pathways between the concepts ‘John’ and ‘coward’ become really strong as this pairing comes up again and again, while the individual arguments are briefly considered. So when people think back about the debate, they forget the actual arguments and just remember that ‘John’ is linked to ‘coward’.

    So my questions:

    Is there an existing term for this debating strategy or a good term that we can use for it?

    How do you defeat the strategy? I tend to dive into specifics, which simply takes the debate to another level (away from labels and to specific beliefs/arguments, which observers can then use to draw their own conclusions).

    • DavidS says:

      Not sure your reasoning means attacking people with your own weakness is good vs. just smearing.

      I don’t really know the facts on Bush and Kerry, but I guess Bush could do that because
      1. The general attack on him was ‘stupid cowboy’ and the cowardice charge doesn’t fit
      2. Democrats are less likely to attack people for cowardice anyway, and are less good at building up a head of steam on it.

      On the sexism point: “pro-female” feminists are at the least not intuitively central examples of sexism. And I think quite clearly they don’t see themselves as sexist and think ‘I have an attractive set of policy options but my sexism puts them off. I have to use a clever strategy to deflect that’. They presumably would argue you need explicitly pro-female policies to address institutional intergenerational sexism etc.

      • Aapje says:

        Perhaps it’s also the case that once a narrative has been created, where group A attacks group B for being X, this allows group A to be X, because it is atypical, so people don’t see it, as it doesn’t fit their prejudice. So as group A doesn’t get (strongly) attacked for having people who say/do X, they don’t have to police their own.

        For example, one of the founders of BLM reveres a black supremacy terrorist (the link is partisan, but it links through to actual statements by the founder herself). Imagine if a police commissioner or even just a cop would say anything positive about a white supremacy terrorist. He or she would be fired very quickly.

        PS. I agree that a major factor in Bush vs Kerry slandering was that Bush didn’t look like a coward, while Kerry did.

        • DavidS says:

          There’s definitely a thing that if you’re seen as tough on law and order you can get away with doing things that might seem too soft and vice versa. And similar with other issues.

          As for your example, I think founders of campaign groups are obviously different to police. I think police would/should be fired for revering a black supremacy terrorist too?

          • Aapje says:

            I’m not sure they would. There is such a thing as narratives, where people who don’t fit a pattern of ‘evil’ get away with doing things that are just as bad as what the people do who don’t get away with something, where the latter fit a recognizable pattern.

            For example, it seems pretty clear to me that cop violence is interpreted through a prism of white vs black and that a black cop who murders someone, is far likelier to get away with it than a white cop. Just look at the immediate outrage at various white cop-black citizen shootings, including those that later turned out to be justified, but very little outrage over black cop-black citizen shootings. The latter are actually more common, according to Scott (he had an blog post about this). The scientific evidence strongly suggests that white cop shootings are not significantly more often unjust than black cop shootings and shootings of white citizens are not unjust significantly more than shootings of black citizens.

            Ironically, the ‘white cop violence against blacks’ narrative causes racial profiling of cops, while that narrative complains about racial profiling of citizens.

            PS. While founders are obviously different from police leaders, I still question the lack of scrutiny by the media of the groups that they legitimize in the debate.

      • gbdub says:

        The thing with John Kerry was that the attacks accusing him of cowardice did not come directly from Bush, they came from the Swift Boat Veterans, who were pro-Bush but not an official part of the campaign. The thrust of their argument was that Kerry was inflating his war record to make up for his other deficiencies (he was running against Bush on the Iraq war, he was accused of being anti-veteran after he returned from Vietnam). “Stolen valor” is usually seen as worse than not having experience in the first place.

        As for attacking Bush as a war-dodger, this was attempted but Dan Rather blew it by overplaying the hand (i.e. running with a clearly fabricated document claiming Bush went AWOL while in the ANG). That delegitimized any other more truthful attacks along this line by association.

        Long story short, Kerry couldn’t do enough to avoid being seen as dovish deep-blue tribe, and nothing serious enough came out to derail Bush’s credentials as hawkish red tribe. In any case, I’m still not sure it’s an example of the strategy you laid out – I doubt the Swift Boaters would have acted any differently had it been Kerry v. McCain (who has a much less impeachable war record).

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ gbdub

          I think that is one example of … maybe call it ‘pre-emptive slander’?

          Another example is, what bad thing you are planning to do, first accuse your opponent of doing it.

          • gbdub says:

            Well, whether it’s “slander” or not depends on the particular veracity of the claim, which I’d rather not argue here. And I’m not sure whether it was “pre-emptive” or not (it’s not like Kerry had never before mentioned his war record positively) or even if it matters if it was.

            But in any case, yes, it was an attack designed to turn an opponent’s potential strength (valorous war record) into a weakness (self-aggrandizement / exaggeration). I think those happen all the time – e.g. attacking Trump’s business acumen by bringing up his failed businesses, or attacking Clinton’s foreign policy credentials by bringing up Libya. Again not weighing the validity of these critiques, just saying they all seem to be of a family. I don’t think you can call that “using your own weakness to attack other people with” as the OP here called it, because I don’t think the effectiveness of the attack depends on your own weakness (though I suppose it’s more important to attack an opponent’s strength in the area where you are not strong).

            Can you elaborate on examples of the latter? I’m having a hard time bringing specific instances to mind.

        • Aapje says:

          @gbdub,

          The Swift Boat Veterans were clearly just an unofficial wing of the Bush campaign. I find the distinction irrelevant, for practical purposes.

          As for Bush being a war dodger, he got preferential treatment to get into a unit that was very unlikely to be deployed and then go to be absent from that unit for long periods, which strongly suggests more preferential treatment. The first is already sufficient to call him a war dodger, IMO. Dan Rather used falsified documents to try to prove preferential treatment, but if we disregard that, we still have the testimony by Ben Barnes that a Bush family friend asked him to give George W a pilot spot in the Texas Air National Guard. That seems like slam dunk evidence to me.

          That delegitimized any other more truthful attacks along this line by association.

          Yeah, that makes sense.

          • I may be missing something, but my assumption is that Bush never showed up– I’ve never seen anyone mention having seen him, and as an at least somewhat charismatic person from a famous family, he should have been memorable.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t think so a grandfather being a senator from another state and his father being a US representative make a famous family. Maybe they’d make memorable bragging, but easy enough to lay low.

          • keranih says:

            It is not clear to me that the Swift Boat vets where a wing of the Bush campaign. At the very least, to have successfully projected Kerry’s nomination and running against Bush far enough back to have hand-selected operatives to fill Kerry’s military unit with Bush loyalists strikes me as more of a positive than a negative.

            we still have the testimony by Ben Barnes that a Bush family friend asked him to give George W a pilot spot in the Texas Air National Guard. That seems like slam dunk evidence to me.

            Barnes’ motivation has been called into question regarding that statement and his appearance on the same 60 minutes show where Dan Rather used fradulent documents.

            As for who volunteered for what – at the time that Bush entered fighter jet training, that aircraft (including those of ANG units) were in heavy rotation to Vietnam. At the time that Kerry volunteered for Swiftboats, they were used in a Coast Guard manner, in “blue” water. The shift to more dangerous “brown water” missions came later.

          • Aapje says:

            Nancy,

            Bush had a 6 year commitment, 2 years active duty and 4 years part-time duty. He spent those first 2 years getting trained as a pilot and got a promotion and good review at the end of that. Then he did 2 more years of part-time duty where he did more hours than required for the entire 4 years. Then in the last 2 years, he missed many drills and failed to do an annual medical check, causing him to lose his flying authorization. Bush didn’t fulfill his obligations during these last two years.

            My interpretation is that he took his obligations very seriously for the first 4 years and then lost interest. It’s my ‘armchair psychiatrist’ opinion that Bush is the kind of person who is very extreme. People like that go all in or check out. Many people were surprised by how he performed in the election debates due to his lackadaisical presidential style. IMO, he was ‘misunderestimated’ because people confused a lack of effort with stupidity, while the reality is that he was a very smart person who usually didn’t put in the effort, but if he did, he performed very well.

            Anonymous,

            His family was famous enough for the commander to stage an additional swearing in ceremony (after Bush was already sworn in by the captain who normally did that), since he wanted a photo op with George W. Then when Bush got promoted, they did a special ceremony again, just to impress his dad the senator.

            When someone gets two special ceremonies, they are not laying low.

          • Aapje says:

            Keranih,

            It’s very subjective where you draw the line between affiliated or not, although I admit to being a bit hyperbolic by using the term ‘wing’. I suggest people decide for themselves:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swift_Vets_and_POWs_for_Truth#Connections_with_Republicans

            As for Barnes, I don’t understand how his statement could have bad motivations due to a link with Dan Rather, given the fact that Barnes made his statement in 1999 and the controversial Dan Rather broadcast was in 2004. Furthermore, Barnes was made to testify due to a lawsuit and thus didn’t volunteer the information (unless he himself sent the anonymous letter to a U.S. attorney that started all this, accusing himself of giving people preferential treatment, which seems unlikely).

            As for those planes being in heavy rotation in Vietnam, that is rather irrelevant to the question of whether the National Guard was a safe place to dodge active service. The administration decided against calling up National Guard units for service in Vietnam, but a decent number of Air Guardsmen were called up for active duty and deployed to Vietnam. However, I would argue that people who used their influence/status to get into spots like these would also be protected from involuntary deployments. George W. Bush’s case would suggest so, as he failed to fulfill his duties, which could result in being called up for active duty, but instead he was given a honorable discharge before his service contract expired.

            In any case, I would argue that Bush was far safer there than if he had not gotten that placement and would have been called up into the regular army.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            My memory of that time says that choosing a safer service than the regular Army/Navy/Marines in itself amounted to ‘war dodging’ in the opinion of servicemen in the regular services. So those specific incidents aren’t needed for the popular label. Getting into such services was popularly thought to involve some elite family status and pull for everyone who got in.

          • Anonymous says:

            It was absolutely the case that you went into the national guard to avoid going to Viet Nam. If you had asked anyone at the time they would have freely admitted it.

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      Last week I decided to check out this PUA stuff for the first time. For science.

      Regarding rhetorical stratagems. I believe the correct response is to show that you don’t give a shit. And possibly make a joke out of it. Similar to what SJW’s call “Reclaiming”. E.g. “George W. Bush is correct, 100%. If I hadn’t been such a wuss, I could have gotten Gold.” This triggers in people’s minds “Well, I guess a Silver Star isn’t so cowardly either . . . Silver’s pretty good actually.”

      Incidentally. I believe “daft punk” was originally a critic’s insult. Also, (iirc) people made fun of Andrew Jackson by portraying him as a simpleminded donkey. Which Jackson pivoted into the Democratic Party’s mascot. There’s probably examples everywhere.

      • Aapje says:

        The first example of ‘reclaiming’ that I know of is actually from 1566:

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

        However, the strategy requires a position of moral authority where common opinion already considers this slander to be wrong. If you have opinions that people associate with the slander, because your opinions are outside the Overton Window, it is a poor strategy.

        PS. Mainstream PUA beliefs are IMO that women have an innate hypergamy strategy for procreation (instilled into them by evolution). Basically, that they seek to find the best provider of goods and power (which the woman can profit from) and want men to lead (where the woman gets to steer those decisions through manipulation). PUAs believe that modern men have been conditioned to provide, but not to lead: beta men. While women want men to provide, their sexuality is linked to the leadership of men. Hence PUAs believe that in the absence of men who have it all, women will have long term relationships with beta men/providers and sex with alpha men/leaders. So PUA strategy is to either act like alpha men if they just want sex or become people who both provide and lead, so their partner/wife is fully satisfied and doesn’t cheat on them or divorce them.

        They believe that feminism doesn’t actually understand women and turns men into partners that women actually don’t sexually feel attracted to. So a common belief is that they are helping women by teaching men to be sexually attractive to women. Hence the motto: we provide sex for women.

        I’m not going to comment on the validity of this world view, but the interesting part is they see Sheryl Sandberg of ‘Lean In’ fame as proof that feminism teaches women to date betas and have sex with alphas, due to this part of her book:

        “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”
        ― Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

        • Jill says:

          LOL, that seems like really twisting Sandberg’s words. What she said is to date everyone. And when it comes time to settle down, get a Beta– if that means somebody who will pull his own weight and won’t betray her.

          I’m not always sure what people mean by alphas. Confident emotionally mature men? Or confident obnoxious assholes who get a lot of dates from women with low self-esteem, who are impressed by their confidence and don’t notice their serious lacks in other important traits?

          Some people are aggressive but also flexible, fair, and willing to do their part in both friendships and romantic relationships. What are they? Albetas?

          • Anonymous says:

            By alphas they mean the guys who participate in the first part of Sandberg’s quote – dating and bedding young women. Betas are the guys who responsibly wait and marry the women looking to settle down after their intense bout of dating. Alphas who are willing marry are still alphas, the distinction is in their ability to bed young women without having to prove a lot of commitment first (dating for a long time with the intent to marry vs sex on second date), not in how responsible they are.

      • Tekhno says:

        I think my view is further to the “right” than the PUAs, because I’m not convinced a man can act more “Alpha” than he is, inherently. (Take the black pill, bro.)

        There’s this common view that men have it better, because the ability of an unfeminine woman to change herself is limited, whereas men can just change their behavior and become more attractive.

        I don’t think that this is true though. I don’t think that the behaviors women are attracted to are confined to macro scale things that you can learn like “be more assertive”. The way I see it, if a “Beta” (I hate this terminology) guy tries to change his behavior to “be more assertive”, he’ll just come across as a bossy jerk rather than a smooth and in command leader. All of the little micro-traits that set two different variants of being assertive apart from each other are very important. Even if a “Beta” guy says the exact same lines as an “Alpha” guy, with the exact same degree of confidence, my impression is that there would be obvious tells.

        There’s also the fact that it’s just not true to say something like “women aren’t visually stimulated”. It’s more like women require context + the stimulus in order to be sexually excited, but a tall guy with a smooth deep voice can be assertive by doing the exact same things as the permanent failure dudboy, only he can pull them off due to his good genome. Behavior based attraction seems to be just as dependent on genes as everything else does.

        At some point people always bring up the ugly guy who always gets laid because he’s funny, and you can learn to be funny, right?

        No, not really. You can learn the same jokes, and you can practice delivery even, but you are never going to get timing down unless you inherently have a quick wit, and the right sort of memory. In order to be a great joker, you need to be in the right moment for the joke, and pattern match what is going on to something in your memory that is a similar situation in a way that creates a contrast that is both absurd but also heavy with meaning, and do it all in a way that rides the line between socially inappropriate and appropriately edgy. Good luck, Aspergeroids! (I can say this.)

        My big problem with PUA is that nobody is truly testing any of this stuff. It seems to largely involve inherently attractive men who’ve come out of their shell and got laid, making up a load of theories as to what did it for them through ad hoc reasoning, when they were going to succeed all along as soon as they tried (assuming they aren’t the ones lying about getting laid loads which is even worse). They then sell this information to grayscale skinnyfat nerds and autists who inherently fail even armed with all these pro tips, because it was never about that to begin with. Eventually, these guys become disillusioned and start visiting sites like PUAhate, and some of them spiral into madness and go on killing sprees, but more often commit suicide.

        Don’t raise the hopes of subhumans. It’s cruel.

        The best thing for these guys is therapy that helps them accept, without bitterness, that nobody will ever love them. The best thing is therapy to help them understand that life is unfair before they learn it first hand in the most brutal way possible. Let us down gently please, but do let us down, because reality will if you don’t, and it’s going to drop us straight on our heads.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          Have you considered not referring to people as subhumans?

        • Tekhno says:

          1: I’m including myself.

          2: I’m not just trying to be edgy. I picked that term for a very good reason. It makes you uncomfortable, but humans without any social capital, or even negative social capital, might technically belong to the same species, but are excluded completely from the normal behavior groups of humans. They are a sub class apart, and if they could breed (of course they don’t because they share the same mate standards as normal humans) within that alternative grouping, they’d diverge genetically from the species.

          3: I’m also trying to be edgy. You need to be able to look at this without wincing. We could play euphemism treadmill and try and dress things up, but at the end of the day, the people who are at the bottom, who have failed all tests, are inferior by the general standards of society, and most of their additional suffering comes from people pretending that this is not the case.

          • Ruprect says:

            Would you like to have sex with a woman? Or a man?

          • Tekhno says:

            Women. Why?

            I personally don’t feel bitter, and don’t really want a long term relationship with anyone else. I visit a lot of places where inferior men (Like myself. Again; not “judging”) whine about the high standards women have, and hypergamy and all this red pill stuff, but I can’t join them even though I’m on the same social level as them, because I never held the delusion that society or the universe was fair to begin with. I think I know why these people exist, however.

          • Ruprect says:

            I don’t know – I really identify with the bitter guys. If I was hungry and nobody would give me any bread (abundant) , I’d be pissed off. Wouldn’t happily accepting the cruel social/cultural circumstances you found yourself in be (1) maladaptive (and therefore unlikely) (2) a bit of an unattractive slave ideology?

            I mean, I really don’t think you can just blithely say, “life isn’t fair … Brrrrrb!” and leave it at that. Not if you are taking about a social circumstance and are a vaguely (post?) modern human.

            Anyway, the reason why I asked is this – do you really want to have sex? Because, (sorry if this is a bit TMI) for me, I feel as if I have a psychological aversion to sexual intercourse – and I think that most people who can’t have sex are probably the same. It’s like if you were really hungry, and you hated eggs, but you were in a egg shop. And everyone is cooking eggs. And you don’t want to eat the eggs, but you’re still hungry, so you get confused.

            Because, I have honestly seen far more people who were psychologically confused about their own motivations regarding sex, than I have people who had perfect clarity of vision, but were frustrated in achieving their aims.

            Perhaps you are in the second camp, but since the first are more common, propagating the idea that, “nobody will feed you” when you’re actually in an egg restaurant, might not be the best idea. (Perhaps you legitimately can’t physically get into the restaurant. Thing is, anyone can accept a legitimate physical “shit happens” – I don’t think we’re (at least most of us) built to happily accept a cultural one)

            (I’ve voluntarily eaten some pretty ropey things (up to and including potential deadly poison). So women should have sex with you – and it is my guess that some of them would (if you wanted to – prostitution etc. etc.) lots of people will love you even if they won’t have sex with you, shit – I’d rather not, but if it was the last hope, I’d love you.)

            [Just like to add – don’t know about anyone else, but it’s *really* bad for me to read stuff like this – when I was a youngster I used to be one of those guys who thought the whole world was against me having sexual intercourse (I actually may have been the first) but then I chilled the fuck out, started liking people a bit more, let the guard down, and ended up having sex with people. But, I’m still a bit mental about it, so even though people have sex with me, I still read this stuff, and I’m like “no-one will have sex with me, I’m awful. The world is bad”. Is this just me?]

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          My big problem with PUA is that nobody is truly testing any of this stuff. It seems to largely involve inherently attractive men who’ve come out of their shell and got laid, making up a load of theories as to what did it for them through ad hoc reasoning, when they were going to succeed all along as soon as they tried (assuming they aren’t the ones lying about getting laid loads which is even worse).

          Yeah, here’s the part that shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          Have you ever seen pictures of some of the big names in PUA? These are not exactly good looking or charming men we’re talking about.

          And beyond that, pickup is absolutely obsessive about recording and publishing statistics so that different routines and approaches can be compared. Sometimes people fudge their numbers or spew bullshit, that’s going to happen, and there’s a lot of voodoo when it comes to explaining why something that works works. But as far as dating advice goes it’s as empirical as you’re going to get outside of those folks who use Big Data techniques on online dating site stats.

          You can’t train a Chihuahua to outrun a Greyhound, that should be obvious. But you can certainly train a faster Chihuahua. Oftentimes that’s enough.

        • dndnrsn says:

          I think you’re underestimating the extent to which male attractiveness is affected by how in-shape somebody is. Forget just not being especially fat – a leaner face is more attractive, and the body does matter.

          I also am not convinced there’s a sizeable population of men who are really good looking but somehow shy and bad socially.

        • Anonymous says:

          I haven’t tried PUA, but from reading their stuff it seems to me that their core insight are not the concrete protips. It’s the idea that you have to go out there and socialize even when people laugh at you, until you get desensitized to the negative feedback. The attitude where you read for months and then expect to get it on the second try is frowned upon, rather the hope is you’ll go out and fail for months and write about your experiences every time (field reports) and eventually start succeeding. The protips are nice pieces of insight that you can consciously try out but the main goal is to develop instincts (and attitude) with a lot of trial and error.

          Not saying that you can take a paraplegic burn victim and turn him into a playa with enough BOLDNESS, but I don’t think PUA is just about making betas memorize the lines of alphas.

        • Tekhno says:

          @Dr Dealgood

          Have you ever seen pictures of some of the big names in PUA? These are not exactly good looking or charming men we’re talking about.

          Are they hideous, and/or autistic? Or just normal looking guys? And if they weren’t charming they would always fail. You don’t need to be awesome to attract women, but if you are an ordinary guy then all you really need is confidence. If ordinary people didn’t get laid, none of us would be here, because that standard of ordinary or normal wouldn’t be maintained.

          The problem is the people who really need PUA because they are really low tier men aren’t going to benefit from it to begin with.

          These are the people who get bitter and angry, and fill up forums, and Youtube comments ranting about women.

          EDIT:

          You can’t train a Chihuahua to outrun a Greyhound, that should be obvious. But you can certainly train a faster Chihuahua. Oftentimes that’s enough.

          Yeah, but the scale over which this analogy holds is small.

          A fundamentally uncharismatic man can’t train himself into charisma because charisma requires IQ, not just copying. Charisma and wit aren’t sets of strictures that can be copied robotically, but more like abilities like being taller or smarter.

          Most of the problem of the lowest of the low tier men isn’t that they couldn’t get laid at all, but that no matter amount of training can get them the kind of women they find attractive. There are loads of hideous loser women and men, but they all have the same standards as normal people, whose abilities they can never replicate. You can train a Chihuahua, but you would never let it compete against Greyhounds.

          They are better served by an adjustment to their sense of reality.

          • Anonymous says:

            Mystery is a fraud? Is that because you found footage of him cringy, or is there more to it?

          • Ruprect says:

            I think the lowest of the lower tier men would be better served by a cadre of buxom sex-doctors.

            I mean, most people, invited to wipe up someone else’s shit are going to say “no thanks”.

            Yet, most of us end up doing it, in one capacity or another, in our lives.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Anonymous

            Everything I’ve seen him in he comes across as cringy and awkward, with the women he’s interacting with looking bored, but since that means I don’t want to watch anymore, I might not be being fair to him at all. There’s not much more to it than that, so I retract that cruel statement. It’s just the way he comes across. I find it really really hard to believe he’s the real deal, but I’m not approaching this rationally.

          • Jill says:

            “Most of the problem of the lowest of the low tier men isn’t that they couldn’t get laid at all, but that no matter amount of training can get them the kind of women they find attractive. There are loads of hideous loser women and men, but they all have the same standards as normal people, whose abilities they can never replicate. You can train a Chihuahua, but you would never let it compete against Greyhounds.”

            True. If you aren’t great looking, and don’t have great social skills, then you can’t expect to get a date who is beautiful and has great social skills.

            I wonder if there is much research, or even examples, of people who go to the trouble of learning social skills– as opposed to just getting a few PUA tips and expecting that to do the trick.

            Whether it’s getting dates, or any other goal in life, a whole lot of people are not willing to put more than minimal effort into it. But they still keep looking for those few quick tips that they expect will help them reach their goals quickly and easily, with minimal effort or understanding of the process. But they are living in a fantasy land there.

          • John Schilling says:

            True. If you aren’t great looking, and don’t have great social skills, then you can’t expect to get a date who is beautiful and has great social skills

            This implies that people chose their romantic partners solely on the basis of appearance and social skills. Is that truly the argument you wish to make?

          • Nornagest says:

            Observation suggests that many people successfully lower their standards, at least on the physical-beauty end of things.

    • Adam says:

      Don’t engage? Unless you’re actually running for political office, in what situations are you really forced to defend your honor from someone accusing you of being some sort of bad character that they are actually themselves? This has happened to me zero times in my life.

  20. E says:

    I want to learn more about the therapy/counseling profession, and I think the best way to do that is by reading the relevant literature and watching videos of counseling sessions. I’m more interested in the latter, does anyone have any recommendations for where to find recorded actual or practice therapy sessions?

    • Adam says:

      Counseling sessions are typically confidential. I’m not sure why you would expect there to be videos for public consumption.

      • Cadie says:

        It wouldn’t surprise me if some were available, with the patient’s written consent, especially to college students studying psychology or related fields.

        Also practice sessions would be a different case; the patient is essentially a fictional character portrayed live by an actor, so AFAICT permission to copy and share the videos would depend on different laws than for a real therapy session. Easier to share with the public legally and ethically, too.

    • Jill says:

      Sometimes people are asked to, and do decide to, give their consent to have a session videotaped, although, yes, the sessions are normally confidential.

      https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=counseling+session+videos

  21. Suppose someone wanted to make memorable art…. is there any way of improving the odds?

    • Andrew says:

      You can use negative deduction- every fair and market is full of unmemorable art, so whatever you do, don’t mimic those things!

    • FacelessCraven says:

      what sort of art are we talking here? the popular kind or the “fine art” kind?

      Either way, the idea’s probably the same: lots of passion, lots of work. Ideas are mostly worthless, execution is what counts. On the fine-art end, political savvy is a major requirement, and may or may not trump other considerations.

    • Nicholas says:

      Find an art field that is almost exhausted, like opera in the age of Wagner or Jazz in the age of Monk, and find the last few edge cases where good work can be crammed into the field. These are the ages of highest risk/reward pieces, where you either get the ultimate magnum opus of the field, or unwatchable dreck. Then just be prolific in drafting, and judicious in publishing.

    • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

      When you say “memorable art” I’m assuming you mean “art whose popularity goes viral and is soon in high demand, rendering the artist quite rich.” Several of my family members are struggling artists so I’ve thought about this a lot.

      It seems like one way to maximize your odds of doing this is to pick two or three things that are “trending” and combine them in a unique way that photographs well and can be displayed in an art gallery.

      For example, wearables are a hot topic right now and so are concussions in football. You could make an installation where people wear a special helmet, then go sit in a booth with a TV in it showing a football game, and they feel a knock on the head every time there’s a collision. A microphone picks up everything the people say, a computer converts it to text, and then a Twitter account tweets out what is said.

      That one’s free.

      • No, actually what inspired the question was The Thing in the Cellar, a classic horror story by David H. Keller, an author whose other work has pretty much been forgotten.

        I’m not sure whether there are authors who specifically aim at memorability, and if so, if it’s possible to succeed, so I thought I’d ask.

    • Aapje says:

      @Nancy

      Use controversial images. Blackface & whiteface. A swastika & Star of David. A black person in chains. Make it ambiguous, so you can read both racism and condemnation of racism in the art. Then ‘tip’ an anti-racist group so they will protest your art. Then ‘tip’ the media that there is controversy. When they contact you, explain how you are a misunderstood artists, etc, etc. In these modern times, you can also use sockpuppet accounts to stoke the fire against you. You can be your own biggest protester and your own biggest fan (separate accounts though 😛 ).

      Basically, turn your art into click bait. So what Zenophobe said: pick a trend, make something controversial about that trend and then most importantly, make people talk about your art (and especially in art, there is no bad publicity).

    • Make art. Finish what you start.

      This of course doesn’t ensure that what you make will be memorable, but a lot of people who want to make art fail at the stage of actually making something, anything.

      Also, once you’ve made one thing, make more things. Keep making them. Quantity beats quality (no, really).

    • paul leary says:

      I highly rec. reading chapters 12-14 of Otto Rank’s Art and Artist:
      espcially chap. 12: “the Artist’s Fight With Art”.

      “The conflict between artist and art is quite as important for the understanding of the creative process as is the positive influence of the cultural art-ideology on the individual work. It has its social analog in the defensive reaction of the individual to collective influences of every sort … .

      https://openlibrary.org/works/OL98928W/Art_and_artist

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      Identify first how you want it to be memorable. The two most important criteria are relatedness – it has to tie into something somebody experiences regularly, so they can remember it when that experience arises – and it has to be unique, both as a take on that experience, and in that it is an experience that isn’t frequently attached-to.

      Horror/fear is easy, for example. Take something mundane that people encounter semi-frequently (not too often, just infrequent enough that they’re not accustomed to it), then add something sinister and alien. I have a haiku running around the internet somewhere about how the thumps in walls are from creatures living in your attic breaking the necks of rats and dropping them down – everybody I’ve read the haiku to remembers it years later (and refuses to listen to it again). There’s death, and the fact that the creatures drop the corpses instead of eat them makes the death pointless and doesn’t tie into anything we can understand – while also darkly hinting at things that frighten us in other humans.

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      [Ex Cathedra (from the armchair)]

      ——————————————-

      “Memorable” reduces to “strong theme”.

      Consider Beethoven’s 5th. It’s arguably one of the most memorable pieces of all time. Not everyone may remember the entire song. But everyone recognizes the 4-note opening. The reason is, the opening is a theme which is reinforced throughout the rest of the piece. The entire thing is just variations and embellishments on that single theme.

      Sometimes in modern music, the theme is also called the riff or hook. Since I’m thinking about Daft Punk from another thread, consider Super Heroes. The entire song is just one big hook. Consider Smoke On The Water. You may not know the entire song. But I’d bet the house that you’d recognize that one riff anywhere.

      Do you remember George Orwell’s 1984? Could you recite each page from memory? Of course not. But you probably remember it had something to do with Dystopianism. Dystopianism is the theme.

      Do you remember Twilight by heart? Probably not. But you probably remember it had something to do with young love and vampires.

      ———————————————–

      Theme is the subject matter of your thesis. Several themes and theses may coexist within a single piece. While the thesis has a subject and a predicate, the theme consists of just the subject alone.

      In humor, theme sets up an invariant while the predicate sets up an expectation. The expectation is then violated by extending the theme in a surprising yet sensible direction.

      “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “To get to the other side.”

      “Chicken” is the theme. “Why” and “road crossing” set up an expectation/assumption that the chicken has some hidden motive for crossing the road. Because when someone asks us why, they’re usually asking for a hidden motive. But it was never explicated that chickens must have a hidden motive, and this is where the theme is extended in Expectation Space.

      “knock knock…” “orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”

      “orange” is the theme. The expectation is the repetition of “orange”. When you say “orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”, that violates your expectations. But notice that orange was technically still repeated. Which means the punchline falls within expectation space.

      ——————————————————

      The goal is to have your work support your theme strongly enough that the theme becomes associated with your work. If you hear the Smoke on the Water theme, you map that to Smoke on the Water. When you overhear someone talking about sparkly horny vampires, you think of Twilight.

      In order to create a strong theme, you must make it stand out. In music and literature, this is accomplished through repetition. In humor, conspicuousness. E.g. the chicken is conspicuous enough to set the Expectation Space to “things related to chickens”. Comedians also often use callbacks.

      I don’t know anything about drawing/painting/crafts. So I’m not touching it. But it probably involves attacking a theme from several different elements simultaneously, in a cogent way. Like, notice how the Eiffel Tower is made entirely out of tiny triangles. Or how Dali’s Persistence of Memory contains several warped clocks.

      If you want more-specific suggestions, you need to tell us what type of project you’re working on.

  22. Ruprect says:

    Is xenophobia wrong? Like either morally or factually?

    I just watched a BBC documentary “exodus” where dentists, and such like, from war torn countries film themselves in their desperate journey to reach Britain … twitter seems to be saying “case closed, these guys are sad, let them in” – humanity etc.

    Personally, I just made me feel so angry that people could film themselves breaking the law, fleeing dangerous countries such as Belgium, and then it’s just like – “oh never mind, you’re British now”. What? We’re just going to ignore the law now? It’s mad, Alan Kurdi policy making. Sure, it might be alright, and these particular people seemed lovely – but in general, allowing masses of people from lawless war zones, who have an entirely different culture, to come into your society seems to me to be an incredibly dangerous experiment. It might be fine. It might not be.
    When I look out my window, everything seems fine, but I can’t help but worry that we’ll end up in some terrible, civil war scenario.

    (In the show, one, very articulate guy talked of how he had been beaten with a metal pole by Syrian secret police. They were aiming to “disfigure” – to destroy his face – and he had his arms smashed as he tried to defend himself. Afterwards, he was taken to the police station which was “inhumane beyond belief”.

    I still don’t think it’s a good solution to let him in, at least not as an asylum seeker. I’m not convinced that our legal/political system is robust enough to allow people, anybody, to enter as a general policy, and I don’t think making things difficult, but not that difficult, by selectively ignoring the law is acceptable.
    One solution might be to make it easier for highly educated, law abiding people to enter – but then that wouldn’t have anything to do with the abuse they have suffered.

    Other solution – if the British legal/political system is that good – colonies?)

    • sweeneyrod says:

      What do you mean by “I’m not convinced that our legal/political system is robust enough to allow people, anybody, to enter as a general policy”? Robust in what sense?

      • Ruprect says:

        Policing by consent/democracy might not be feasible for all populations/cultures. To what extent is our political system just a great system that stands by itself, and makes people rich and happy, and to what extent is it a product of the underlying British culture.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          That’s arguable, but I don’t see that it applies here. The UK has currently taken in under 10,000 refugees. Even if 10 times that number arrived (which seems unlikely), there would still be fewer refugees than e.g. American, South African, or German immigrants. Those groups don’t appear to have significantly changed our culture, so I don’t see why a much smaller number of immigrants from a different culture would have a much greater effect.

          • Ruprect says:

            Hmmmm… looking at the specific examples – how would South African immigration change our culture? I’m not really familiar with any South Africans, but I would imagine that a South African of British descent is to a British person as an Australian is to a Briton – different, but not that different.
            Same with America? Germany?

            I mean, I would say that if immigration was limited to 100,000, total, it would be highly unlikely to cause any problems, especially if those people were well educated, law abiding, and not concentrated in one area (they integrate). But there were millions of people coming into Europe last year – and it seems like the argument is that Britain should be taking a similar share of the burden to Germany.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Because there isn’t a massive political and cultural establishment telling the American, South African, and German immigrants that they should — in fact, must — keep their old ways instead of adapting to British ones, and telling any British people who object to those old ways that they are racists.

            The problem really isn’t with the immigrants/refugees/whatever you’d like to call them; it’s with a political overculture that opposes assimilation. If it wasn’t for that you could probably take in a hundred times as many refugees and not just be fine, but actually be better off.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @ThirteenthLetter

            What is this “massive political and cultural establishment” you speak of? If it forbids Syrians assimilating, but not South Africans, then it must mention the important of preserving Syrian culture specifically (not just make general comments about diversity and multiculturalism). Do you have any examples of that happening?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Yes, it just makes general remarks about diversity and multiculturalism. But I would like you to tell me with a straight face that it is just as concerned with preserving a South African immigrant’s culture as it is with a Syrian immigrant’s culture.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            I can’t speak for the whole political and cultural establishment. But if you don’t have any evidence that any prominent members of it care more about Syrian culture than South African culture then you would seem to be ascribing it beliefs that you have no evidence it holds, which is a poor line of argument.

    • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

      I guess this is one of those cases where a somewhat irrational belief works sort of ok in small doses, but when actually applied rigorously might be disastrous.

      Xenophobia is understandably bad for a culture which already has some foreigners. Even if it’s true, an assumption that these foreigners on average are more criminal, less intelligent, greedy, whatever, is probably harmful for harmony in society. Telling a minority that you are not going to employ him, because there is a higher risk of him being a thief might be correct from the employer’s perspective, but from the applicant’s perspective it’s a horrible experience.

      However, once a large enough part of the population has sufficiently internalized that saying anything negative about a population as a whole is racist and what bad people do, there is no argument for not letting more foreigners in. “But these people have a different culture?” “WTF!!? This is just racism, you have no reasons to believe this.” “No, seriously, here are the statistics showing that 90 percent of them support Sharia and similar numbers have a very traditional view of gender relations.” “You cannot judge individuals based on the colour of their skin.” “Ok, now they have sexually assaulted a thousand women on New Year’s Eve”. “It’s obviously masculinity that’s the problem.”.

      This is way more snark than necessary, but I’m still angry at the smugness and self complacency of the German media and large parts of the population. At least the mass psychosis seems to be over now.

      To balance this post just a tiny bit, I do not think that allowing refugees from war-torn countries in, as long as it’s a moderate number, will lead to a civil war. The refugees in Cologne were almost entirely from Morocco and Algeria, while Syrian refugees who comprise the majority of the total refugees were almost not involved at all. Those former refugees usually come to Germany, apply for asylum and get room and board for the 18 months it takes the government on average to reject those applications in 99% of cases. During this time, they usually form gangs and earn their living by illegal work and/or stealing. A sad consequence of the Culture War was that almost nobody made that distinction: For those on the left side, any criticism towards refugees whatsoever is forbidden, and towards those people with strong enough opinions about this situation to not be intimidated by the media every refugee is one too many. So basically, I’m saying that Syrian refugees actually just want a peaceful life and participation in society, so I doubt a civil war is going to break loose.

      • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

        “I guess this is one of those cases where a somewhat irrational belief works sort of ok in small doses, but when actually applied rigorously might be disastrous. ”

        Are you referring to support for open borders?

        • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

          Not necessarily. From what I have read about dedicated supporters, they seem to have legitimate arguments and thought out scenarios, like not extending welfare benefits to immigrants.

          The vast majority of people in Europe supporting the acceptance of basically unlimited numbers of refugees did/do not have a political philosophy, however. Instead they held a mixture of feel-good positions in favor of immigration and a deluded assumption you could keep everything else the same. They do not demand that borders be abolished, but they react horribly if somebody suggests to enforce them. It’s ok to not grant everybody asylum, but actually deporting somebody after his application is rejected is inhumane and so on.

        • Aapje says:

          Zenophobe,

          I think that refugee laws work fine when there is a single person or small group who is prosecuted and seeks refuge, but can have disastrous effects when entire countries get considered unsafe and a large part of the population seeks (permanent) refuge. Especially since these refugees aren’t purely motivated by safety, but have economic reasons that are at least as important to them. As in: they are not willing to stay in safe, but poor countries and instead take big risks to get to rich countries. Basically, there is a very unfair and distorting effect when we give some people a golden ticket, while many other people are suffering greatly from poor (economic) conditions and we let them rot. Ironically, the current situation merely allows the well-off refugees to flee, so we are assisting the middle and upper class, while leave the poor behind.

          This is not even just about the effect to the target countries, although there are big negative effects that the proponents of open borders tend to deny, but also the effect to the source countries.

          A substantial part of Syria is ISIS country in no small part because so many fighting age men and women refuse to do so and flee. So you get the absurd situation that Westerners go fight in the middle east, while many people of those countries actually refuse to defend it. I find that absurd and believe that it perpetuates or increases the problems in those countries. We take in their middle/upper class, while those countries go down the drain.

          Western countries would not have been the liberal democracies that they are, if the people of those countries would always just have fled oppression, rather than fight it. Much of the left very much has a ‘white man’s burden’ mentality, which is very paternalistic and dehumanizing to the people that they advocate for. We have obligations, they have rights; in other words, how we treat children.

          I think that we should talk more about obligations of these people and treat them like adults. If the Kurds can defend their land from ISIS, others can too, if necessary with our backing. And if large numbers people do want to flee, we keep them safe for a while with a plan to go back and fight for their country. For example, many of the Syrians in Germany are Kurds, they could go to Kurdistan and enlist there, fighting ISIS to take back their homes.

          • DavidS says:

            On the historical point about how Western countries became liberal democracies: I’m not sure what countries are comparable in their development to current middle east (I’m not an expert, but something like: propped-up dictators falling or being significantly reduced in power, power vacuum filled by mix of ethic/tribal, political and international religious extremist groups)

            Also you seem to act as if people fleeing slaughter etc. is a sort of moral weakness. I’d assume it’s more to do with better international transport/communications.

          • Aapje says:

            European history is full of that stuff. The conflict between protestants and catholics was a lot like the conflict between sunni and shi’i. Interference with other countries was extremely common. The ‘Peace of Westphalia’ was a crucial development that established freedom of religion and respect for national sovereignty.

            It effectively was that set of treaties that started off the idea that it’s not just ‘might makes right,’ but that rights of minorities and the self-determination of other cultures/groups is important.

            The main problem in the Middle East is that this concept is missing. So we Westerners have our little narratives where we declare one group the oppressor and the other the oppressed, but when the other group gets to power, they just become oppressors themselves.

            This problem will not be fixed by taking in refugees, it just leads to a lack of resistance to oppression. If European history is a guide, a period of oppression and counter-oppression is needed before people figure out that they can’t just depend on always being in power and being the oppressors, so it’s better to limit their power when in charge, so they are treated more fairly when they are not in charge. But of course there is no guarantee that the good forces will win.

            Also you seem to act as if people fleeing slaughter etc. is a sort of moral weakness.

            You are conflating my opinion on the long-term negative effects that these people’s choices cause with an opinion on them as a group, supposedly as inferior to other people. But I never said that these people act differently than how other people would act, but rather, I claim that we allow them a choice that is good for them, but bad for others & for humanity as a whole.

            I suggest reading up on ‘tragedy of the commons’ to realize that people can make rational short term choices, that nevertheless can cause long term destruction.

          • “I suggest reading up on ‘tragedy of the commons’ to realize that people can make rational short term choices, that nevertheless can cause long term destruction.”

            The issue isn’t sort term vs long term, it’s individual interest vs group interest. You see the same pattern in cases where all the effects are short term.

            For details, see:

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        “Ok, now they have sexually assaulted a thousand women on New Year’s Eve”. [….] I’m still angry at the smugness and self complacency of the German media and large parts of the population.

        The gravity of an event, may increase with the distance from which it is being reported.

        • gbdub says:

          It may. But perhaps you could elaborate on why you believe it has happened here?

        • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

          I don’t quite follow. I’m German myself, and pretty much everybody admitted, sometimes through gritted teeth, that it was an unprecedented event.

          Even if the event itself is not very grave, the reason I listed it in the first place was to illustrate that even having an extremely good reason to assume some cultural differences will not prevent you from being shouted down.

      • Tibor says:

        If I remember correctly the statistics by die Welt I read about a half a year back, most of the asylum seekers were actually not Syrians. Syrians were the biggest minority but not an absolute majority. If I recall it correctly, if they only gave asylum to Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis that would comprise slightly less than a half of the number of asylum seekers in Germany.

        What annoys me personally about this debate is that nobody seems to be differentiating between immigration and welfare immigration. It is true that the culture of Syrians is very different from that of the English for example. But there are huge differences between various strata of the English society as well. If you have open borders but not an open welfare system, people will come to your country who are capable of looking after themselves, who can do something with which they can make a living. Not only does that mean that those people are less likely to be a financial burden for the taxpayers, they will also on average be more educated and “compatible” with the European civilization. Now, I don’t mean that they will assimilate in the sense that they will have a Weißwurst with beer and a pretzel for breakfast (the Prussians have not managed to assimilate in this respect yet either! 😀 ), but I think this is not really what people care about. I don’t see anyone objecting to Indian or East Asian immigrants having a bit different lifestyle than the natives. There might be some people like that but they are a small minority, most likely associated with the neonazis. What people want is that the immigrants don’t “cause problems”, i.e. that they don’t have a higher crime rate and unemployment than the natives (in fact, there is some inherent xenophobia and the immigrants are probably at least at first be required to uphold a slightly higher standard than the natives, but not by so much). Since almost no East Asian and Indian immigrants are welfare immigrants, they don’t have these problems and so they are met with much less xenophobia.

        I this distinction between various parts of the foreign society is important and something that again nobody does. I am in Germany in a university town. I sometimes meet people from middle-eastern countries or Turks. All of them are students or academics and they all are generally likable people. Now, this is the kind of “immigrants” the “educated classes” come in contact with. If this is your mental picture of immigrants from outside Europe, it is hard to imagine any protest against such immigration as anything but bigotry and racism. On the other hand, if you are a working class person, you don’t meet those people at all. All the foreigners you meet are at best also working class foreigners or unemployed people. All you see is exactly the subgroup which is most likely to live off welfare and have a high crime rate. Then it is hard to imagine that anyone who is pro immigration does it for reasons other than being either a crazy socialist or a “neoliberal” who serves the interests of the big business (I have not quite understood how immigration of masses of hardly employable people helps the big business, but this really is the view of many anti-immigration people).

        Now again, open borders with restricted welfare solve this problem quite elegantly. You still get to keep these smart educated people from foreign cultures (who also happen to be more “western” in their thinking, basically to the point of being different in their cuisine and other “harmless” parts of culture only), you still give a chance to anyone who just wants a better life but who does not want any handouts and you keep out the people who would not be able to make it on their own. You might help those people through a charity such as the GiveDirectly (which also targets people who are more in need than someone who can afford paying thousands of dollars to smugglers to get to Europe) which is way more efficient than making them undertake a costly and dangerous journey to Europe and then giving them welfare payments.

        Unfortunately, the debate (at least in Europe) seems to be basically only “pro-immigration” vs “anti-immigration” and the most likely result seems to be restrictions to the freedom of movement with the welfare state intact.

        • hlynkacg says:

          There’s a variation of the triangle constraint that I hear passed around in (US) conservative circles that seems to be describing the same phenomena. It goes something like…

          Open borders, open ballots, open welfare, pick two.

          • Anonymous says:

            Open borders, open ballots, open welfare, pick two.

            Can you explain this one? I don’t see how open, versus secret, ballots have anything to do with this.

          • Lysenko says:

            @anon

            The more common formulation is: Open Borders, Liberal Democracy, Welfare State. Pick Two.

          • Anonymous says:

            I guess it’s a good thing then that open borders is a position only held by a tiny irrelevant fringe far more frequently brought up as a weakman than actually advocated.

        • Jiro says:

          I have not quite understood how immigration of masses of hardly employable people helps the big business, but this really is the view of many anti-immigration people

          If they are unemployable because there are not enough jobs, but would be able to work if the jobs had existed, then their presence can depress the salary rate of the jobs, which helps big businesses with low salary jobs.

        • TeD says:

          The welfare state should remain intact. We’re going to need it to be expanded to cover the majority of the population by the middle of the Century. Besides, seeing how much trouble tepid cuts by, for example, the UK Tories have caused, dismantling the welfare state is the stuff of revolutions.

          • The Nybbler says:

            What are you going to do when the minority paying taxes decides they don’t care to support one entire deadbeat along with everything else their taxes are paying for, and drop to welfare themselves?

          • Tekhno says:

            That has never ever happened. I can’t think of a single historical example of everyone going on welfare to crash the system. People have proposed it but it’s never been done, because most people couldn’t stomach living on welfare. They have that dignity thing.

            We should be trying to speed up with automation technologies, so costs can be lowered, and universal welfare can be afforded (and at the same time would be necessary due to the same process). A society without human labor wouldn’t really need very high taxes to afford a basic income, since the costs of industry would be reduced towards that of raw inputs and land. That’s the ultimate and final solution to this problem. Hopefully we can achieve it before the end of this century.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @Tekhno
            Are you seriously arguing that “free riding” is a purely rhetorical concept with no real-world analog?

          • Tekhno says:

            Of course it has a real world analogue. I didn’t say that it didn’t.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Who is this “we” speeding up automation technologies? As far as I can tell, the makers and maintainers of this technology reap no benefit; either they automate themselves out of a job and drop to welfare, or they continue to work on the automation supporting an ever-growing population of economically unproductive people. This makes them slaves, essentially.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Of course it has a real world analogue. I didn’t say that it didn’t.

            But you did say that it never ever happens. That’s a rather sweeping claim to make without any support.

            Why would governments be exempt from the free rider problem?

          • Anonymous says:

            It’s rare that you see such a clear motte and bailey.

            The motte is “free riding exists”. The bailey is “welfare states are impossible”.

            You are going to have to do a lot more than jump and up and down yelling free rider problem to show that something that already exists in large swaths of the world can’t possibly work.

            Don’t worry though you can still jerk off to Atlas Shrugged in the privacy of your own home.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Everything interesting happens at the margins. We already have cases where people do rationally prefer welfare to work. If we reach a point where every person moving from work to welfare so increases the burden on those remaining that it motivates one more such person to do so, something will give.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Anonymous says:

            The motte is “free riding exists”. The bailey is “welfare states are impossible”.

            Nobody said anything about welfare states as a general class being impossible.

            The issue is with Tekhno’s specific example of a welfare state where a significant majority of the population is “on the dole”. the question being how do you stop your remaining “contributors” from deciding to go on the dole as well? Tekno’s blanket assertion that it simply won’t ever happen sounds more like wishful thinking than a logical conclusion.

            As Nybbler says, something has to give.

          • Anonymous says:

            The wishful thinking is that the effect you’d love so very to see (Atlas shrugging) actually exists given that there’s zero empirical evidence of any such effect across the gradient of stronger and weaker existing welfare states.

            Nice job trying to shift the burden. A for effort (which as we know is A).

          • hlynkacg says:

            Your claim that there is zero evidence of any such effect is patently false.

            Historically the Soviet Union (and predominantly Marxist economies in general) have had serious problems with “вредители” and general “tragedy of the commons” type failure modes. Meanwhile in capitalist economies we see concepts like the “Laffer curve” and “capital flight”. All of these being well documented examples of the general “free rider” problem.

            If you think that Tekhno’s proposed welfare state will be uniquely immune to this class of problem the burden is on you to explain why.

          • “because most people couldn’t stomach living on welfare. They have that dignity thing.”

            Start with a society where welfare is very skimpy. Being unemployed and on welfare is evidence of incompetence, since it’s a result everyone wants to avoid, so someone on welfare feels ashamed, does his best to get off.

            Expand the welfare system to the point where it’s an open question whether an individual is better off working for a living or going on welfare–less money but a lot more leisure. For a while, people continue to try to avoid going on welfare from “that dignity thing.”

            But over time, more and more people conclude that the ones who are failures are the ones still working, giving up the opportunity to spend their time on a Spanish beach chasing girls (or guys, depending). So the dignity incentive becomes weaker and weaker, more and more people choose the welfare option.

            And, of course, those people are happy to believe authors or speakers who tell them that being on welfare is just exercising their human rights, that income isn’t being redistributed, just distributed, since there is no good reason why people who have had the good luck to be born with talents that make them money should be the ones who get the money, other things that make the listeners feel good about the option they have chosen.

          • Anonymous says:

            Here comes the gish gallop. Soviet Union — not a welfare state. Laffer curve, nothing to do with the subject at hand, and no empirical evidence either.

            You are the one making the claim that there’s some sort of catastrophe looming when there’s no evidence of any problem in any existing welfare states. The onus is on you to show that you claims are more than motivated reasoning.

            Trying to shift the burden to TD based on nothing more than “hay guys free rider problem” is about the level of reasoning we’ve unfortunately come to expect from these comment sections since the invasion by the alt right.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I don’t see how you can seriously argue that the examples provided are not supported by evidence or not relevant to the subject at hand. At the very least, they offer a strong counter to Tekhno’s claim about the “dignity” of work.

            You really ought to examine your own assumptions, and maybe address Nybbler’s Mr Friedman’s points above, before you accuse anyone else of motivated reasoning.

          • Lumifer says:

            The whole thing is a depressingly familiar search for a big free pot of gold from which everyone can be paid fair welfare/basic income/etc. and no one had to do all that unpleasant work any more.

          • Anonymous says:

            Anon, you’ve been hostile during the whole chain. Can you drop that?

            Anyway I kinda agree with anon, despite being a tech worker with plans to retire as soon as possible. I think a productive class will remain even with most people automated away and on welfare. Status has always been a strong motivator and you can’t really redistribute that.

            There’s a reasonable fear that the welfare class will proceed to stigmatize working and deny them status as DF explains, we can already see that in wageslave threads on /r9k/; I doubt it will go all the way, people will start waking up when the hospitals find themselves running short on people willing to do 10 years of education followed by 40-hour shifts. I think the complete resignation of the lower class isn’t just due to welfare and other environmental factors so I don’t see the middle class falling that far even given a couple generations, but I realize that that’s not convincing to others.

            Regardless, it’s inevitable that the west will expand welfare to cover for automation, so we’ll see if that causes us to become a backwater with nobody willing to do research or engineering beyond the basic maintenance to keep the robots going. Good thing we don’t have a world government so there will always be China to compare to; I’d be a lot more worried if there was the possibility of everyone falling into lethargy with nobody to wake us up.

          • Tekhno says:

            I was in bed. What’s going on here guys?

            @The Nyybler

            Who is this “we” speeding up automation technologies? As far as I can tell, the makers and maintainers of this technology reap no benefit; either they automate themselves out of a job and drop to welfare

            I don’t see how that’s so. Remember, we aren’t talking about a communist society in which there is no private property. The owners of the technology/means of production are going to benefit because they can still sell stuff to people, but now they no longer have to pay direct fixed costs for employees. There are no surplus costs beyond that required to maintain the machinery.

            In the highest stage of this theoretical automated society, not only labor costs, but manufacturing costs head towards zero, and what remains are only the costs of raw materials, energy, and land. The reason for this is because you are replacing workers who need to receive payment above that which allows them to reproduce their own labor, with “loyal” machines that replicate worker abilities without requiring wages (beyond that required to reproduce their labor consistently). Contra Marx (who only got as far as a Rube Goldberg conception of automation in the Fragment on Machines), we should expect the profits of the bourgeoisie to go up, not down, in such a society.

            You’ve also removed at a fell stroke all human resource issues and political inefficiencies and worker safety regulations. Productivity should soar sky high compared to today, in both the private and public sector, meaning that costs come down, and the amount of taxation needed to fund a basic income goes down (this dependent factor is precisely why I’m not in favor of having a basic income now at this time).

            The people who get automated out of a job would be everyone who doesn’t own any automated means of production, but with a basic income (no welfare traps), they’d be at the very least living as comfortably as I live, and at some point able to buy themselves back in.

            The “we” here would be the government by enacting policies favoring automating, providing R&D spending, and possibly even more radically and far off, setting up semi-autonomous low regulation cities for more experimentation.

            or they continue to work on the automation supporting an ever-growing population of economically unproductive people. This makes them slaves, essentially.

            This is absurd. By these standards, the existing capitalists in our time are slaves. Actually, extending the reasoning, everyone is a slave to the state, but then slavery becomes something that includes relatively benign things.

            @hlynkacg

            But you did say that it never ever happens. That’s a rather sweeping claim to make without any support.

            The support is history. The Cloward-Pivern strategy has had marginal results. The Nybbler is suggesting the tax base en masse could destroy the welfare system by this method, essentially.

            How many high income earners do you know who are going to sacrifice their income and livelihood just to spite the system? There’s also the political moral factor of them finding this hypocritical and distasteful. There’s a lot standing in the way of organizing accelerationist strategy.

            It’s like with Marxism. In theory, due to historical materialism, Marxists should act as extreme objectivists to accelerate capitalist exploitation. In practice, Marxists aren’t as cold and materialistic as they want to be, so these suggestions are usually met with abject horror and marginalized to a fringe within a fringe.

            You don’t see many large scale nationalist attempts at accelerating multiculturalism either. Across the spectrum, these strategies have remained historically marginal.

            That’s not to say the welfare state can’t collapse. Just that it’s far more likely to collapse through sincere left wing strategy, than ironic right wing strategy, and then still, more likely to collapse undergo cuts over a long period of time due to mass immigration, which would be an unconscious factor rather than a strategy designed to destroy the welfare state.

            In any case, my suggestions going forwards are:
            1: Ban visas from a whole swathe of Middle Eastern and African countries, while prioritizing degree based visas from countries like India, China, Korea, Singapore, Japan etc.
            2: Increase government spending in STEM fields (hopefully counter-cutting non-STEM fields).
            3: Don’t jump the gun on basic income, but keep it on the boiler until you can point to very obvious technological unemployment and say “see?”

          • Agronomous says:

            @Anonymous arguing with Anonymous:

            Just pick a fucking HANDLE ALREADY!

            It doesn’t even have to be good! (See just above.)

            This has been a public service announcement.

          • Anonymous says:

            That has never ever happened. I can’t think of a single historical example of everyone going on welfare to crash the system. People have proposed it but it’s never been done, because most people couldn’t stomach living on welfare. They have that dignity thing.

            Can you think of any historical example where one had a welfare system that:
            a) was in use for a prolonged period of time (not something that was in place for a few years at best),
            b) allotted one enough resources to live and raise a family comfortably, if one were simply somewhat frugal?

    • blacktrance says:

      We’re just going to ignore the law now?

      The merits or demerits of xenophobia aside, “it’s the law” is itself a contentious argument. For example, helping slaves escape was once illegal, but most of us agree that doing so was right. If the law is unjust, there’s a strong case for disobeying it.

      For example, if a bunch of thugs break into my house and I shoot them in self-defense, most people would consider that fine. Unless they happened to be wearing police badges and looking for drugs, in which case “it’s the law”. I think it makes much more sense to say that the latter is as wrong as the former, and that resisting it is justified.

      So if there’s a right to immigrate, ignoring immigration law is the right thing to do.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        I mean, that works great if your position is one of open borders (which I suspect is the case for you, as is for me), but we’ve been told that this is not a popular position outside some liberal circles and Scott Sumner’s blog. If we insist that we’re not for open borders, but constantly undermine the current inmigration laws without a clear position of where to put the limit, people are going to be rightfully suspicious.

        If a law is bad, then it’s imperative to take it down or change it, if you just ignore it and subvert it, that’s lawlessness, and lawlessness is frightening.

        • Aapje says:

          You also have to keep in mind that ignoring laws is not just something that people who agree with you can do. If you legitimize it as a common strategy (rather than just for exceptional cases), you also legitimize it when people undermine the laws that you like. Like states putting restrictions on abortion facilities and instituting onerous procedures, just to add so many hoops that abortion becomes practically impossible for many.

          An it destroys the ability for compromise, when you don’t stick to the compromise.

        • The Nybbler says:

          If a law is bad, then it’s imperative to take it down or change it

          This is just democracy’s dismissive response to complaints. Thoreau’s “Resistance to Civil Government” lays out most of the problems.

      • Ruprect says:

        More: There is no law against that.
        Will Roper: There is! God’s law!
        More: Then God can arrest him.
        Alice: While you talk, he’s gone!
        More: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
        Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
        More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
        Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
        More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast– man’s laws, not God’s– and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety’s sake.

        I can understand someone ignoring a law as a matter of conscience – perhaps the key line here is: “you’re just the man to do it”. If you are truly in a position to undermine the law, then you have no business doing so – change it instead. In this case we’re taking about the government/enforcement agencies ignoring their own laws.

        • DavidS says:

          I love that quote. But not sure how applicable it is here.

          The More thing here is about law (as appropriate in time of Henry VIII) in the context of protecting people from arbitrary arrest etc. Overpowering tyranny etc. Turning a blind eye has always been a different matter.

          Also, not that sure if you can blame someone for breaking the English law before they’re English? Or even that it’s actually illegal to leave Belgium to come to England as opposed to ‘weakens your claim that you were just fleeing to the first safe place’

          • Ruprect says:

            Yes, fair point.
            The imposition of arbitrary penalties is more worrying than a failure to impose certain existing laws.

            It still makes me feel angry though. The guy in the documentary was using a fake passport, bought in Paris, to fly from Brussels to the UK. I would have assumed that was a serious crime – perhaps not? If not, why the hell do we have to go through passport control in the first place?

            I guess that’s the problem – if it seems as if laws solely exist to inconvenience those who are dull enough to respect them, it can’t help but undermine the criminal law system in entirety. I think that’s been the view of how Britain works for quite a while and this is just another case – this guy has got preferential treatment because he was willing to break the law.
            The top and bottom (of society) uniting against the respectable middle, I think.

  23. Pku says:

    Speaking of EA: Does anyone have a really good elevator pitch for it? I’m looking for something short, informative and idealistic (but preferably not confrontational, so not “most people just signal, here’s how you do it if you actually care.”, on the assumption that that could make people hostile to the idea), that covers the points Scott raised here.
    Erica’s spiel seems like roughly the right model.

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      “Right now much of the efforts of charity necessarily have to go towards fundraising, and they have to balance their ability to do good with their ability to sell the good they do to the public. This is a movement intended to try to make charity less about selling the idea of charity, and more about being charitable.”

      ETA: This isn’t the whole of EA, but EA is, in the end, essentially about getting the sales out of charity. It can equally be expressed in terms of “effectiveness”, but I think this pitch will work on a larger segment of the population than will buy into the idea of efficient-charity-for-efficient-charity’s-sake.

      • gbdub says:

        To be honest, that strikes me as a poor elevator speech. As someone who is only aware of EA through this blog (but therefore probably more informed than whoever you’re pitching to), it sounds like you’re saying EA is mostly about making marketing and fundraising cheaper. Which is boring.

        What’s wrong with something like, “Right now, a lot of money and effort being spent on charity fails to provide much benefit for the people it’s supposed to help. EA looks for ways to make sure the resources available for charity do the most good by streamlining spending and by identifying charitable causes that get the most bang for the buck”

        • Pku says:

          The other part of the message I’d like to convey is, “you vaguely want to do good, but you should set yourself a set supererogatory donation target, e.g. 10%, and stick to it in an effective way.”.

        • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

          I too only know about EA though this blog.

          I think you only need the last sentence: “EA looks for ways to make sure the resources available for charity do the most good by streamlining spending and by identifying charitable causes that get the most bang for the buck”

          And actually that last part could be cleaned up:

          “EA looks for ways to make sure the resources available for charity get the most bang for the buck”

        • Orphan Wilde says:

          The issue with that is that you’re implying that the problem is that the charities aren’t actually doing any good; you’re implying that people have wasted their do-gooding effort.

          It’s important to make it clear you respect the work charity does, and that you’re trying to solve a systemic issue whereby the charities are forced to compete over who can sell that they’re doing the most good as opposed to doing the most good in order to get any funding. You lose a significant chunk of your audience when you suggest that the old charities are ineffectual, because they really don’t want to hear that they’ve wasted their money for years. But if this is a problem charities are forced to deal with that we’re trying to remove, then they can think of this as technology which is improving charity, rather than a process of throwing out charlatans, which is how EA usually gets sold.

          • gbdub says:

            “The issue with that is that you’re implying that the problem is that the charities aren’t actually doing any good; you’re implying that people have wasted their do-gooding effort.”

            But isn’t that indeed a core belief of EA, that a lot of charitable effort IS wasted? That we spend a lot of money on causes that, even if executed efficiently, still aren’t as good as mosquito nets etc.? That we all ought to not only set donation goals and donate, but also donate to causes we carefully vet for effectiveness?

            Yeah, that might turn some people off – but so will people finding out that your “elevator pitch” was deceitful.

            Anyway, your pitch about fundraising costs seems to be not a consensus position on EA. From the Wikipedia page, which quotes sources including GiveWell:

            Traditional charity evaluation has often been based on prioritizing charities with minimal overhead costs and high proportional spending on projects. However, effective altruist organizations reject this standard as simplistic and flawed.[22][23] Dan Pallotta[24] argues that charities should be encouraged to spend more on fundraising if it ensures they increase the amount they can allocate to the charitable service overall. Additionally, a study by Dean Karlan “found that the most effective charities spent more of their budget on administrative cost than their less-effective competitors”,[25] presumably because spending on administration costs may include analyses of whether a particular activity is effective or not. Thus, the extra spending on admin could lead to resources being focused on the best activities.

            Again I basically know of EA only through this blog, but lets say I get your elevator pitch and say “That’s interesting, I’ll try to find out more”, go look at Wikipedia and GiveWell, and find info like what I quoted – this will not make me assess your elevator pitch favorably.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            gbdub –

            If I’ve gotten you to look into it, and see the arguments for and against it, I’ve succeeded.

          • gbdub says:

            That doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily created an effective elevator pitch, and it certainly doesn’t make it the most effective one. Yeah, I’ve looked into it, but now I kind of resent it because the first proponent I’ve met misled me.

            Ad absurdum, you could tell me, EA is a great organization that’s running a free billion dollar lottery for whoever signs up on their website! This would make me very likely to visit the site, but very unlikely to be supportive afterwards.

            Anyway, would you really want me to join up with EA if I strongly object to the notion that our charitable efforts currently include a lot of waste? I’d be a member actively working against the interests of the existing group.

            I guess it depends on what sort of elevator pitch you’re giving me – are you just trying to get me to the “tell me more” phase or are you looking to provide an adequate 30 second highlight reel of the main points? Even if you’re just going for “tell me more”, getting me to that phase without at least screening me a little bit for compatibility is going to waste your time when I ask for follow-up.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      What’s wrong with Scott’s “Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others…”?

    • Adam says:

      Is most charity really signaling? The only time I ever gave regularly to charity for CFC was when I was in the Army, and that was just because we were constantly pestered and I wanted to get the people off my back. I’m reasonably certain most charity overall is giving to churches, and surely at least some of that is giving with the expectation of future returns either here or in heaven, i.e. not altruism but not signaling either, more quid pro quo.

      I guess you’re talking about most giving from people that EAs would target as potential converts, though, right? Which isn’t the people currently handing over all their money to televangelists.

  24. gbdub says:

    Why do people think generally disruptive protests are a good idea? Specifically I’m thinking of the Black Lives Matter protest that blocked a highway. On the one hand, it does make a good photo op and pretty much guarantees a confrontation with the police. On the other, if I can’t make it to work because I come upon a group of people blocking the damn road facing off against cops trying to get them to leave – it’s very hard not to be on the cops’ side (and specifically for Black Lives Matter, this seems to be the sort of protest most likely to devolve into hucking things at cops, which I would think sends exactly the wrong message for obvious reasons).

    This phenomenon is not limited to BLM – I’m thinking of anti-Uber taxi strikes for another recent example (people relying on taxis were pissed, probably downloaded Uber). Another was a grad student strike while I was in college (undergrads lost a day of class with a sticker price of a couple hundred bucks, grad students lost nothing). Really, just about anything that makes things tough on “civilians”.

    What these seem to have in common is that they are disruptive in a way that mostly inconveniences the sort of people you want to be sympathetic to your cause (as opposed to something like chaining yourself to a tree at a logging project, which mostly inconveniences the loggers). So why do people keep doing it? Because they just want to be disruptive and do what seems easiest? They want to get a “vanity arrest”? They are delusional and think it helps? I’m delusional and people not already sympathetic to these protesters really do look at these protests and say “wow, so brave, I am more likely to agree with your cause!”?

    • Lumifer says:

      Because they work.

      • gbdub says:

        Work to do what? That’s what I’m asking – do you think the highway protest moved the needle in BLM’s favor among people not already on their side? The anti-Uber taxi protest seemed obviously counterproductive (I seem to recall someone finding out that Uber downloads spiked that day).

        • Anon. says:

          The anti-Uber protest was blamed on Uber by the government who subsequently cracked down on them.

          These protests are a demonstration of power, not an attempt to gain more of it.

          “Civil disobedience” is no more than a way for the overdog to say to the underdog: I am so strong that you cannot enforce your “laws” upon me. I am strong and might makes right – I give you the law, not you me.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            That quote might make sense if protesters weren’t arrested. But they are, in their hundreds.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @sweeneyrod – And then are promptly released again.

            [EDIT] – if there are serious consequences to disruptive protests, I haven’t heard much about them. I remember anti-bush protesters getting rounded up for an afternoon in the holding pens and all their electronics getting smashed by the cops before their release, but not many actually go to jail or suffer serious consequences.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            According to the article I linked, they are being charged with obstructing the highway (at least the majority are, some are being charged with drug possession or assault). Some have been released on bail, that doesn’t mean they won’t be punished. The punishment for obstructing a highway in Louisiana isn’t too serious — at most 6 months imprisonment or a $200 fine. In my opinion that befits the crime, which is not overly serious. In any case, I would prefer a government that errs on the side of allowing protest with few repercussions (although I have no stake in what the American government does).

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I will bet you a shiny nickel that all of the charges — including those for drug possession or assault — are eventually dropped.

          • Anonanon says:

            And they most certainly won’t lose their $160K/year jobs as “human capital” executives on public school boards.

            Getting arrested is just a photo-op.

          • Nornagest says:

            That’s a pretty specific job for so general a “they”.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @SweeneyRod – ” In any case, I would prefer a government that errs on the side of allowing protest with few repercussions (although I have no stake in what the American government does).”

            Concur. I wasn’t saying their release was a bad thing. I was actually pretty pissed at the smashing of electronics for the occupy/anti-bush protesters as well.

        • Lumifer says:

          Work to achieve their ends. They do this not by convincing unconvinced people, but by putting pressure on power structures (typically, the state) to tilt the game board in their favour.

          • Winfried says:

            I see that as short term appeasement or for clear goals. If it’s a continual process, I think it runs a large risk of backlash.

          • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

            @Lumifer:

            Winfred has a point. When you say “their ends” it confuses short-term ends like “get a high profile ruling or law passed in their favor” with long-term ends like “win hearts and minds to change society in the fundamental way they keep saying it ought to be changed.”

            If you could get a participant in a BLM protest to think rationally for a moment, do you think he could tell you with a straight face that this protest will actually accomplish the long-term victory?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zenophobe’s Paradoxes

            I think disruptive protests always focus on short-term ends. They want something and they want it now.

            Long-term winning of hearts and minds is the job of political parties which may or may not support disruptive processes for tactical reasons, but that’s a separate story.

          • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

            Are you a different Lumifer?

            Anyway, which political party got so many people to use standing desks? Which political party has gotten marijuana legalized in 25 states over the past decade or so? Which political party made “being connected” no longer the butt of a joke in a Woody Allen movie?

            These are all examples of fundamental changes in how large portions of society think about an activity, an issue, or a lifestyle.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zenophobe’s Paradoxes

            Are you a different Lumifer?

            Um… it’s a hard question. Y’know how you can’t step into the same river twice..?

            But I don’t understand your point. What do standing desks and Woody Allen movies have to do with disruptive protests?

          • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

            @ Lumifer:

            The popularity of standing desks, widespread marijuana legalization, and the now commonly-held value of “being connected” all reflect long-term fundamental changes in hearts and minds of large swaths of the population (though of course each example pertains to a more trivial topic than policing and crime), and all of them were achieved by entities other than a political party:

            – The standing desk was popularized by a combination of articles in health, business, and lifestyle publications, and word of mouth.

            – Marijuana legalization has happened through grassroots organization and petitioning to get the issue put on ballots, and also by normalizing the use of marijuana in popular culture.

            – “Being connected” describes an attitude that was pushed by technology companies who harnessed the mixture of people’s social inclinations with our increasingly common geographic social isolation.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zenophobe’s Paradoxes

            Disruptive protests are always political and I assumed we’re speaking within the political context. I still don’t see what fads like standing desks have to do with it.

            Of course, disruptive protests are not the only way of effecting political change. But they are *a* way, sometimes appropriate and effective, sometimes not.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Lumifer
            I still don’t see what fads like standing desks have to do with it.

            If they put me in a standing desk classroom, a disruption will ensue. I wonder if the whole line topples like dominoes. (Pushed from the side, of course.)

          • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

            @Lumifer:

            You are thinking too narrowly. Yes, the protests you see on TV would probably be placed in the “politics” category, but the long-term goal of the protesters is for changes that are fundamental to society, and therefore would become apolitical. For example, it isn’t a political issue that we can legally buy and drink alcohol.

            I’ll grant that it is not impossible for protests to accomplish this kind of goal, but it seems highly unlikely.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zenophobe’s Paradoxes

            the long-term goal of the protesters is for changes that are fundamental to society

            I’m not convinced of that.

            Sure, there are ideas of, say, fair and just and equitable society in the background, but they are no more than vague handwaving. The only protests without specific goals that come to mind is the Occupy movement and it notably failed without having achieved anything.

            Disruptive protests generally end. They end either when they were successfully broken up, or they end when they have achieved their goals. Specific goals, usually political.

            Again, let me point out the difference between disruptive protests (which we are talking about) and broad movements, political and otherwise. Broad movements achieve fundamental changes to societies, disruptive protests are merely one of the tools that such movements use.

            And, by the way, your ability to legally buy alcohol is obviously a political issue. How could it not be?

        • FacelessCraven says:

          The primary goal of the protest is to force confrontation, not convince people in and of itself. The Cause convinces people; the protest is there to make the cause impossible to ignore.

    • dndnrsn says:

      The grad student strike is just that, a strike, so it’s different. While in my experience striking grad students do attempt to get undergraduates on-side (they generally succeeded, because nobody likes university administration) it can’t really be compared to protests – a protest is “give us what we want and we’ll stop making a ruckus” while a strike is “we stop working, you stop paying, let’s see who breaks first”. Compare to undergraduate student “strikes”, which are really protests.

      First thing to consider is that most people don’t really follow the news and so forth. A bunch of people blocking the expressway might be the first time they hear about what the protest is protesting.

      Second, polarization is an effective tool in all sorts of things. Let’s say you’re an activist with a small core for, a small core against, and most people neutral, it could be a smart strategic decision to do something polarizing to get attention. If more neutrals get turned into friends than foes, it was a smart strategic decision. Either way, it’s a gamble, but a lot of decisions are gambles. Additionally, responding to the complaint of “you made me late for work” with “that’s nothing compared to what’s happening to us” seems effective. Most of the people who get pissed off at these protests probably weren’t sympathetic in the first place.

      Third, you’re ignoring the internal effects of the protests. People become activists to act and doing something like that keeps morale up, builds team spirit, etc. This is important for a movement that is predicting things will take a while.

      • gbdub says:

        “If more neutrals get turned into friends than foes, it was a smart strategic decision.”

        That’s exactly what I’m wondering about. Why hurt neutrals while you’re trying to get them on your side?

        “Additionally, responding to the complaint of “you made me late for work” with “that’s nothing compared to what’s happening to us” seems effective.”

        Does it? To me that’s rage inducing – the cops hurt you, so you’re going to hurt me until I side with you against the cops?

        “Most of the people who get pissed off at these protests probably weren’t sympathetic in the first place.”

        Now, I’m not super sympathetic to BLM (mostly because I think their projected attitude of “assume any shooting of black person by cops is racist, throw protest first and ask questions later never” is reductive and divisive) but I am very sympathetic to the main thrust of their cause (the police hurt too many people, and are not held sufficiently accountable when they do). The highway protest made me think less of them. The powerful but peaceful before one asshole ruined it Dallas protest made me think better of them.

        Honestly I think your last paragraph makes the most sense – these things might make you lose the sympathy of weak allies, but raises enthusiasm among true believers. Trick is it’s hard to win elections that way, when a weak nay counts as much as an emphatic yea.

        • dndnrsn says:

          That’s exactly what I’m wondering about. Why hurt neutrals while you’re trying to get them on your side?

          I suppose the thinking is that few people are actually neutral: most people are on one side or the other, but don’t know it yet, or haven’t declared.

          To put it another way – everybody hates being badgered by salespeople (the whole “how can I help you today” thing) – so why still do it? Because it lets them quickly identify the people who are definitely going to buy something, and speeds that up.

          Or, for a right-wing example of polarization: pretty much everything Trump has done.

          Does it? To me that’s rage inducing – the cops hurt you, so you’re going to hurt me until I side with you against the cops?

          It’s more another means of polarization, I suppose. The onlooker (not the guy stuck in traffic) is prompted to side with “people should always be reasonable and level-headed and not disruptive” or “what is happening to the protesters is worse than getting stuck in traffic”.

          Now, I’m not super sympathetic to BLM (mostly because I think their projected attitude of “assume any shooting of black person by cops is racist, throw protest first and ask questions later never” is reductive and divisive) but I am very sympathetic to the main thrust of their cause (the police hurt too many people, and are not held sufficiently accountable when they do). The highway protest made me think less of them. The powerful but peaceful before one asshole ruined it Dallas protest made me think better of them.

          But, again, I’m betting that anyone here is probably more informed and so forth than the average (which isn’t very hard). There’s probably a lot of people didn’t know about the whole thing until disruptive protests happened.

          Honestly I think your last paragraph makes the most sense – these things might make you lose the sympathy of weak allies, but raises enthusiasm among true believers. Trick is it’s hard to win elections that way, when a weak nay counts as much as an emphatic yea.

          As Lumifer points out, the pressure is put on those who have the power. It’s not an attempt to gain votes, it’s an attempt to influence public opinion, and to influence those already voted in.

          • Aapje says:

            dndnrsn,

            I suppose the thinking is that few people are actually neutral: most people are on one side or the other, but don’t know it yet, or haven’t declared.

            Or they have a more nuanced position that isn’t: all white cops are evil or (white) cops always act right. Or they disagree with the entire framing of the debate and see it more as a general issue of cops misbehaving against (poor) citizens, where black people ‘merely’ face proportionately more of that because (proportionately) more black people are poor and black people are stereotyped to be criminal.

            The danger of polarizing, especially if you force people to make a choice, is that they will choose to side against you, despite wanting improvements as well. For example, I disagree with the racism by BLM and their narratives that go against scientific evidence, but I could agree with them on certain measures, like body cams. But if they only want my support if I sign up for their entire platform, then they won’t get my support.

            When George W Bush said: ‘You are either with us or against us,’ it led many people with moderate standpoints to side against him. Such a coercive strategy depends on being able to achieve a majority, but makes compromise much harder. It is authoritarian in nature.

            Or, for a right-wing example of polarization: pretty much everything Trump has done.

            It’s not just Trump. Clinton/The ‘left’ also uses (partially) false narratives that are part of the culture war and thus appeal to their own echo chambers/John Oliver viewers, but push away people who don’t buy into these narratives and don’t want to be oppressed through these false narratives.

            For example, I’ve seen a few people declare that they’d vote for Trump despite of/because they are egalitarian white men who would really like to vote for a candidate that treats everyone fairly, but when only given a choice for a side in the culture war, they will choose for their ‘identity’ interests.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Or they have a more nuanced position that isn’t: all white cops are evil or (white) cops always act right. Or they disagree with the entire framing of the debate and see it more as a general issue of cops misbehaving against (poor) citizens, where black people ‘merely’ face proportionately more of that because (proportionately) more black people are poor and black people are stereotyped to be criminal.

            The danger of polarizing, especially if you force people to make a choice, is that they will choose to side against you, despite wanting improvements as well. For example, I disagree with the racism by BLM and their narratives that go against scientific evidence, but I could agree with them on certain measures, like body cams. But if they only want my support if I sign up for their entire platform, then they won’t get my support.

            When George W Bush said: ‘You are either with us or against us,’ it led many people with moderate standpoints to side against him. Such a coercive strategy depends on being able to achieve a majority, but makes compromise much harder. It is authoritarian in nature.

            I don’t know if it’s authoritarian in nature. It does make compromise harder. But again I think there’s typical mind fallacy going on: people are bad at nuance in general. People here might be better at it, but probably not as good as we think. That people who might otherwise side with you but be lukewarm will side against you is part of the risks of polarization: that’s why it’s a gamble.

            It’s not just Trump. Clinton/The ‘left’ also uses (partially) false narratives that are part of the culture war and thus appeal to their own echo chambers/John Oliver viewers, but push away people who don’t buy into these narratives and don’t want to be oppressed through these false narratives.

            For example, I’ve seen a few people declare that they’d vote for Trump despite of/because they are egalitarian white men who would really like to vote for a candidate that treats everyone fairly, but when only given a choice for a side in the culture war, they will choose for their ‘identity’ interests.

            In mentioning Trump, I probably should have expanded a bit. Early on, he made his comment about illegal immigrants. Most pundits thought it was a terrible gaffe, would bring him down, his nomination run would be a flash in the pan, etc. Instead, it appears it was either a successful gamble, or a gaffe that somehow turned out to have been a successful but unintentional gamble.

            And, yes, the culture war (which reminds me of some of those super-long olde-timey European wars, with periodic major battles upon a backdrop of constant despoiling of the peasantry) is heavily about polarization. Regardless of whether you think one side or both are doing the polarizing (partisans tend to think only the other side is doing it), polarization always makes some enemies.

          • Aapje says:

            In the case of Trump, a lot of his attractiveness is that he’s non-dogmatic, non-politically correct, non-beholden to interests, etc.

            One of the things that a lot of his critics don’t understand, is that when he flip-flops or changes positions, this actually proves to his supporters that he has these qualities. A beholden candidate could not change position, a dogmatic candidate couldn’t say shocking things to break open the debate, etc.

            A lot of his supporters believe that he will ‘become realistic’ and come around to their beliefs once he wins, which is a rather silly of course. After all, the supporters don’t all have the same beliefs, so he can’t make them all happy. So Trump is letting people project their beliefs on him.

            That said, any presidential candidate in the US does the same (and has to). They stay sufficiently vague so people hear what they want to hear and fill in the blanks with their own opinions.

          • Galle says:

            For example, I’ve seen a few people declare that they’d vote for Trump despite of/because they are egalitarian white men who would really like to vote for a candidate that treats everyone fairly, but when only given a choice for a side in the culture war, they will choose for their ‘identity’ interests.

            I can sort of sympathize with these guys, but for the most part, I think they’re imagining a message that isn’t actually there, probably because on some level they feel like they don’t deserve a place on the right side of the culture war.

          • Aapje says:

            Arguably there is no right place on the culture war for a rational person. Both sides have absurd myths that hurt people.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      As you say, they aren’t necessarily effective at getting public support, but they are good at getting media attention. So if your movement has reasonable goals, the extra number of people who hear about it and end up supporting some aspects of it are worth the number of people who are put off by your methods.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Most people’s reaction to seeing a bunch of people blocking the freeway in front of them in the name of any cause (including one they believe in fundamentally) would be murderous rage. However, the news media will portray it as brave civil disobedience against a cruel society. The number of people who can’t get to work is X, the number of people who see fawning headlines in the news is Y, Y > X, protesters win.

      Of course, this only works if the news media, speaking for the existing power structures of society, are already on board with the protesters. Tea partiers or anti-abortion types probably should not try this.

      • gbdub says:

        “Of course, this only works if the news media, speaking for the existing power structures of society, are already on board with the protesters. Tea partiers or anti-abortion types probably should not try this.”

        But if the media is sympathetic to you, aren’t they going to cover your non-disruptive protest anyway? You’ll get the attention either way, but one of the ways pisses off the locals.

        • Lumifer says:

          But if the media is sympathetic to you, aren’t they going to cover your non-disruptive protest anyway?

          They might, but journalists need to eat and want their pound of flesh : -/ The media fees off drama, sensation, and outrage — and a violent disruptive protest is going to get MUCH more coverage than a quiet and peaceful assembly somewhere.

          • gbdub says:

            “and a violent disruptive protest is going to get MUCH more coverage than a quiet and peaceful assembly somewhere.”

            I unfortunately cannot disagree with you. But why not focus the violent disruption on a legitimate target, rather than whatever poor random schmuck happens to be nearby? The same people blocking the freeway plopping their asses in the doorway of the county courthouse could have, I would think, a similar impact with less harm to bystanders.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          a) You’ll get more coverage if you do something that causes a lot of trouble (like Lumifer beat me to saying.)

          b) For some participants, pissing off the locals is a feature, not a bug. Look at it this way: class enemies need to be harmed, right? And anyone who gets mad at you for raising awareness of your noble cause in any context has outed themselves as a class enemy. Therefore it was retroactively okay to harm them. In fact, not just okay, but necessary.

          I’m not sure I believe b), but I’m not sure I don’t, either.

    • SUT says:

      Disruption and confrontation legitimize the protest movement in the eyes of its base – “finally someone’s actually *doing* something about this, not just talking”. The more blindly disruptive, the more it must be doing.

      For example look at the organization that sent a volunteer to video the Sterling shooting – it’s an anti-violence organization which mostly concentrates on advising urban youth how to stay out of trouble, which focuses on gang violence but also is sympathetic toward the notion that police abuse their power [from what I’ve gathered, would like to hear different opinion]. They collect factual data (videos) and disseminate it as a special program to at-risk schools. Seems to be something everyone *could* get behind and support, but they in reality they don’t become energized enough to do so.

      Instead, it’s still just a handful of people, while BLM has hundreds of thousands [maybe] because the tactics seem bold, they attract media attention, and get force politicians to speak sympathetically about their cause.

      As a counter example, if the media is prepared to portray you uncharitably, or even just honestly, your disruption will never be forgiven, see Westboro Baptist Church’s protest of military funerals.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Maybe they aren’t thinking. Maybe they’re just copying their role models. A prerequisite to being a role model is being famous. This selects for actions that get coverage.

    • Nicholas says:

      Here’s the first narrative I’m familiar with about disruptive protest: You have three groups:
      1. Your Ingroup.
      2. The Bad Guys, who are doing something to Your Ingroup that you don’t like. It’s important for this to work that the Bad Guys are strong enough that you can’t veto their actions (which makes less direct action impossible), but also weak enough that they can’t veto yours.
      3. The Comfortable Mass. In principle, the Comfortable Mass has enough power to stop the Bad Guys from doing the Bad Thing. But they aren’t personally affected by the Bad Thing, and are uncoordinated enough that they aren’t exercising power in any conscious way on the issue.
      So what your disruptive protest does, is it basically takes something the Comfortable Mass does care about, and holds it hostage. You tell the Comfortable Mass “Making the Bad Guys stop the Bad Thing is the simplest way to make us stop, requiring many fewer resources that intervening against us.” If anyone suggests that they should then oppose you on principle, you say “This act was merely to force you to confront the Terrible Badness of the Bad Guys doing the Bad Thing, you cannot on principle fail to side with us.”
      If you make these two arguments effective enough, and the disruption is uncomfortable enough, then the Comfortable Mass will strike down the Bad Guys, in the name of the glorious cause of Getting You People to Shut the Fuck Up Already, and the Bad Thing will trouble you no more.
      There is another narrative, it goes like this:
      In the Eld Times between the War of 1812 and the Vietnam War, the organizations that would lead protests were also the major organs of organizing votes. There was a direct through-line between the number of people who would show up to a protest, and the number of votes that could be mobilized on an issue. The protest itself served two roles, on the one hand being a primitive sort of media outlet for the issue, and on the other being an advertisement of the power the movement already had. In time, it came to be the case that ballot initiatives were often not even required, with the protest serving as a significant enough threat of unemployment to manipulate the government on its own.
      But as social orders depleted, power became more federal, cities became more suburban, and the cost to join a protest march decreased, the organizations in question became enamored of the protest’s power to threaten and cajole and convince, forgetting the power that had to back up that kind of a threat. Today the old organizations are mostly gone, or co-opted to other goals, or not using the method of protest. Without the organizational memory to understand why protest was once so effective, new organizers spam the old practice unthinkingly, not understanding why new protests don’t accomplish anything. So they just try to protest harder, to protest really really hard: and that increased effort looks like increasing disruption.

    • Zombielicious says:

      I participated in one of the protests that blocked an interstate (a few years ago), as well as one of the recent ones that didn’t. I didn’t know we would be blocking off the interstate until they (the organizers) literally started marching us up the freeway ramp. It started as a marching protest that escalated slowly, and while it wasn’t directly stated what would happen, there were multiple chances where they thanked people for coming and explicitly told them it was ok to leave if they didn’t want to continue.

      Afterwards I heard plenty of criticism along the lines of “that was stupid and why would you think it was ok to do something like that? What about all those people on the road you blocked?” I was unsure at the time and while I agreed with the protest, thought maybe blocking off the interstate was going too far. Having had several years to consider it though, I made the right decision and would/will do it again if given the chance, even if it means likely getting arrested or tear gassed.

      Disruptive protests seem necessary, if you consider the issue important enough to justify it, because no one really listens to the other ones. The goal is to put pressure on actual authorities to force systemic changes, whatever you might think those should be. It’s not to try and convince the people stuck in traffic to agree with you. They’re just collateral damage in a fight between protesters and the people who will get blamed when society isn’t able to function smoothly (the mayor, the president, whoever). It’s disrupting the normal operations of society to the point where people making decisions think it’s easier to give in to some demands rather than keep having major roads shut down every few months. If people feel like changes aren’t happening, or aren’t happening fast enough, the disruptiveness of protests tends to increase. Things move on from shouting and holding signs on the side of the street, to shutting down an interstate, to worse. If people feel the local or national leadership is actually working with them, that to some extent gets “rewarded” with less disruptive behaviors.

      People have been complaining about systemic racism and injustice since… well, I guess all of U.S. history. The fact that people started shutting down interstates in the past few years seems a reflection of a perceived stalling in the progress that was being made. The civil rights movement made big gains… ~50 years ago. But black males still have a 33% chance of going to prison, are killed unarmed by police and random white neighborhood watch guys at significantly higher rates than whites, which doesn’t exactly seem like 50 years worth of progress over Jim Crow to many people, so you see protests getting more serious. Then you have lots of non-black people joining the Black Lives Matter movement because of issues that strongly overlap for them, like police militarization, the drug war, anti-Muslim/LGBTQ+ bigotry, etc. Even if you’re mainly involved for one of those tangential reasons, you find yourself strongly supporting a movement that seems primarily about racial prejudice (more than police brutality, from what I’ve seen), because they seem to be taking more effective action against those issues than other groups are. That’s why I think it gets a lot of attention and support now – it’s at the nexus of several big, overlapping issues that interest multiple demographics (“tribes”).

      Protesting doesn’t necessarily have a great track record of effectiveness, but neither does any other form of activism that I can think of. In most cases the largest, most influential powers tend to steamroll over any objections fairly easily, and you’re lucky if any concessions get made at all. So it’s not like I’m naive enough to think some interstates get blocked off and massive change will ensue. But the basic argument of “this is ineffective and disruptive and just being done by delusional attention-seeking narcissists” is made every. single. time. and always by the people who are mostly ambivalent or opposed to whatever is being fought for. Unless someone’s really opposed to all forms of disruptive protest, under any circumstance and on any issue, even the ones they care most about, all they’re saying is, “This isn’t an issue that’s very important to me.”

      Having to wait in a traffic jam for an hour or so, towards night when most people are off the roads anyway, isn’t really the end of the world; it’s pretty mild in the grand scheme of things. (Worse if there’s an ambulance trying to get through or something, but afaik that hasn’t happened yet.) So it sets a pretty low standard for caring about the issue if you think that’s too disruptive to justify.

      The other side of cost/benefit is that it appears more favorable the worse your position is. Even if people don’t think they have large gains to make, if they don’t have much to lose either, they’re more willing to take part in disruptive protests. People are way less likely to risk violence or arrest when they have a career on the line, family to support, etc. But if you’re poor, already have an arrest record, and think you’ll probably end up in a confrontation with the cops anyway, better to do it when you at least have something to gain and some support around you. The change from just voting and complaining to riskier forms of protests seems to reflect changes in people’s real or perceived conditions regarding how much they have to gain or lose.

      There are definitely some criticisms I might make about the BLM movement overall, but being too disruptive by blocking traffic isn’t one of them. I spent months afterwards with periodic self-doubt wondering if everyone was right and I was just manipulated like a dumb herd animal into doing something I’d regret later (having only seconds to decide whether to leave or keep going, and not knowing what else they might have planned, probably contributed to this – I’ve only been to a few but the events are way more predictable now). No regrets. The people who oppose it and say it’s too disruptive are (mostly) the same ones who weren’t going to listen to your grievances anyway. You’re not trying to convert them. You’re trying to show them it’s easier to give in to some of your demands than to keep dealing with the trouble you’ll cause if they don’t.

      • Jiro says:

        Disruptive protests seem necessary, if you consider the issue important enough to justify it, because no one really listens to the other ones.

        If you create a norm of “protests can be disruptive”, then everyone will be protesting disruptively. Don’t think of it as “I get to cause disruption for good causes”, think of it as “everyone gets to cause disruption for any cause they believe is good”, and then consider what causes some people believe are good.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Well, some people would just get run over.

        • Zombielicious says:

          Disruptive protests (it used to be called “civil disobedience”) only work if lots of people participate in them. Otherwise you just get arrested. If I decide by myself to block an interstate because of police brutality, and no one else comes with me, I get removed from the interstate and go to jail (or the morgue, as suntzuanime points out). If lots of people think it’s worthwhile, it’s harder or impossible to remove us and people have to deal with it one way or another.

          The more people you have thinking an issue is important, particularly when they’re willing to risk something over it, the more likely it is that they’re at least not totally wrong. Of course the “wisdom of crowds” frequently fails and (groups of) people are systematically biased into supporting stupid policies all the time, but that’s a universal social problem that doesn’t depend on disruptive protests. With disruption the poor decisions have worse consequences, but the fact that it requires multitudes of people to agree to them helps to reduce the overall number and (hopefully) keep the net benefit to society positive – same idea as behind voting, boycotts, etc.

          It doesn’t automatically lead to every group with perceived grievances shutting things down. Disruptive protests depend on some larger segment of society that at least sort of vaguely agrees with you supporting it from their armchairs. Otherwise the police can just haul you off to jail again, since they know no one will complain and everyone will thank them as they do it. So no, it’s not as slippery a slope as this argument makes it out to be. There’s a big leap from BLM with lots of support from various demographics blocking an interstate, and the KKK (or whomever) doing the same thing.

          • Watercressed says:

            When you say that the purpose is to force systemic changes in society, and then later on say that it only works when a significant part of society already supports you, I feel like you’ve already lost.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Amount of support needed to discourage them from immediately arresting you != amount of support necessary to force systemic change.

            People are making a lot of hypothetical arguments about what the results may be, seemingly ignoring the long history of civil disobedience and protests. Between the labor strikes, civil rights movement, Vietnam, 60s feminist and hippie stuff, Iraq War, etc, my view is that protests:

            1) Sometimes work
            2) Frequently don’t
            3) Haven’t resulted in the breakdown of society as smaller and smaller groups become more and more disruptive over continually less justified issues.

            Opinions may vary.

          • Watercressed says:

            >Amount of support needed to discourage them from immediately arresting you != amount of support necessary to force systemic change.

            The amounts are different, but are the constraints meaningfully different? Proposals that have enough support to not get arrested but not enough to be actually implemented are a tiny sliver of possible systemic changes.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zombielicious

            Haven’t resulted in the breakdown of society

            Yet.

            Note that large disruptive protests are called riots. Very large ones are called civil wars.

      • gbdub says:

        “They’re just collateral damage in a fight between protesters and the people who will get blamed when society isn’t able to function smoothly”

        A cavalier attitude towards causing this damage strikes me as profoundly immoral – you should have reservations about this and the fact that you did, I would say, speaks better of your character. A SEAL team assassination of a known terrorist is less morally disturbing than just dropping a 2000 lb bomb on a marketplace where the dude might happen to be, precisely because the former makes the effort to reduce collateral damage.

        Keep in mind, I’m not arguing against disruption per se. I’m arguing that disruption should, as much as possible, target the people “directly responsible” for whatever you are protesting, and minimize collateral damage. So a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter is great – you’re hurting people actively participating in the thing you’re protesting, and mostly only those people. For the current situation, why not blockade the executive parking garage at city hall, or fill up the lobby of police headquarters, or what have you. You’d get your confrontation, you’d get your cameras, heck you might even get tear gassed if that’s what you want. But the ambulances and the dude just trying to make his shift at McDonald’s would get through.

        Also, I’m fine with the term “civil disobedience” as long as it is indeed civil. Throwing rebar at cops is violent, and not cracking down on that immediately hurts the credibility of the movement.

        • Lumifer says:

          I’m arguing that disruption should, as much as possible, target the people “directly responsible” for whatever you are protesting, and minimize collateral damage.

          I don’t think you understand how this works.

          The basic goal of the disruption is to make status quo intolerable. That implies inflicting pain on as many people as possible so that those in authority are forced to negotiate.

          If you are a union of garbage collectors and want something from the mayor, you don’t refuse to collect just the mayor’s trash. You refuse to collect everyone’s trash so that everyone piles pressure on the mayor to agree to the demands. Not because they like you, but because “just pay them what they want so that they get out of my face”.

          • gbdub says:

            Hostage-taking terrorists might get their immediate demands met. They tend not to have a long and pleasant life afterwards however. You’re sacrificing long term viability for a short term gain, and you’re spending a lot of goodwill capital on it.

            In any case I don’t agree with your example. There’s a much clearer logical relationship in “I am not getting paid enough to collect garbage, therefore I will stop collecting garbage” than there is in “I feel mistreated by police, therefore I am going to prevent you from getting to your crappy job”. (Yes I know I’m contradicting myself a bit since I mentioned grad student strikes in my original post. Consider this a partial retraction of that example.)

          • John Schilling says:

            The basic goal of the disruption is to make status quo intolerable.

            Is that even a realistic possibility, though?

            I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of a strike or protest, short of actual armed insurrection, that caused more disruption than e.g. a major blizzard. We haven’t abandoned Buffalo or Minneapolis, so that’s clearly not an intolerable level of disruption. I don’t think this sort of protest can really expect to reach beyond the level of a tolerable annoyance.

            Annoying people can be an effective means of getting their attention, of course. That’s not the same thing.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ John Schilling

            It depends on the scale. At small scale, yes, it’s a realistic possibility, protesters can shut down a factory, a college, a neighbourhood.

          • Cord Shirt says:

            If you are a union of garbage collectors and want something from the mayor, you don’t refuse to collect just the mayor’s trash. You refuse to collect everyone’s trash so that everyone piles pressure on the mayor to agree to the demands. Not because they like you, but because “just pay them what they want so that they get out of my face”.

            But…some part of “everyone” always reacts instead with, “By getting in my face, they’ve violated the social contract. Now they’re in the wrong. Mayor, please shut them down with extreme prejudice.”

            It’s not even just that you risk backlash against your cause. You also risk inspiring increased authoritarianism in general.

            Which of these reactions is more common probably depends on people’s attitudes before the protest. I think people are more likely to go for “just give in to the demands” if they either think it’s a trivial issue or (as has already been mentioned) they actually already agree with the demands. So it’s more dangerous to mount this type of protest over an issue few people think is trivial…unless you’re really sure most people do already agree with you.

            I mean, what you described is broadly similar to the teacher’s strategy of punishing the whole class for the actions of one kid, with the goal of causing the class to pressure the one kid to behave in the future (or even just, of causing the class to give the one kid additional punishment). Sometimes it works…and sometimes the class just rebels against the teacher instead.

            Except that in the case of a protest, the protesters don’t have a pre-assigned “teacher”/”superior” role. They have a pre-assigned “peer” (fellow citizen) role. It’s a lot riskier for just a fellow class member to announce they’re “punishing the whole class because Johnny picked on me.” If you try this as just one of the kids, you’re much more likely to just cause the class to turn on you instead.

            Which brings me back to…”they’d better already agree with you” (or truly find the issue too trivial to be worth caring about).

            In general, though, I don’t really subscribe to this narrative of how protests work. I’m more inclined toward Nicholas’ second narrative:

            There is another narrative, it goes like this:

            In the Eld Times between the War of 1812 and the Vietnam War, the organizations that would lead protests were also the major organs of organizing votes. There was a direct through-line between the number of people who would show up to a protest, and the number of votes that could be mobilized on an issue. The protest itself served two roles, on the one hand being a primitive sort of media outlet for the issue, and on the other being an advertisement of the power the movement already had. In time, it came to be the case that ballot initiatives were often not even required, with the protest serving as a significant enough threat of unemployment to manipulate the government on its own.
            But as social orders depleted, power became more federal, cities became more suburban, and the cost to join a protest march decreased, the organizations in question became enamored of the protest’s power to threaten and cajole and convince, forgetting the power that had to back up that kind of a threat. Today the old organizations are mostly gone, or co-opted to other goals, or not using the method of protest. Without the organizational memory to understand why protest was once so effective, new organizers spam the old practice unthinkingly, not understanding *why* new protests don’t accomplish anything. So they just try to protest harder, to protest *really really hard*: and that increased effort looks like increasing disruption.

            I dunno where Nicholas has seen this narrative, but I first saw it in John Michael Greer.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Cord Shirt

            you risk backlash against your cause. You also risk inspiring increased authoritarianism in general.

            It is true that you risk backlash. That’s why getting into everybody’s face is not the default, let’s-start-by-doing-this tactic. Sometimes it’s effective and sometimes it is not, so you need to judge the balance and make your call.

            I don’t agree that you already need most people to support you, even if silently. You only need people to think that the payment will not come from their pocket and to be indifferent. If I’m not interested in local politics at all and there is a pile of stinky garbage in front of my house, I don’t care who’s in the right, I want it gone and the mayor is the one who’s officially responsible for making sure the town runs smoothly.

            As to authoritarianism, a LOT of protesters like authoritarianism as long as they get to set the rules and call the shots. From a certain point of view disruptive protests are bypassing democratic mechanisms and demand fiat actions from powers-that-be…

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        “I spent months afterwards with periodic self-doubt wondering if everyone was right and I was just manipulated like a dumb herd animal into doing something I’d regret later…”

        Yes, you were. You’ve since then rationalized your actions, which is very human, but you are wrong to do so.

        You made many people’s lives worse in order to drag them into a political fight they wanted no part of. The exact same logic has been deployed in the name of every kind of collective punishment in history.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          You think all protests are wrong, regardless of what they’re about? That no injustice is worth fighting against if doing so will impact the lives of people who have nothing to do with it? That is the implication of your comment, because it doesn’t contain anything at all about the specific cause Zombielicious was protesting about.

          • CatCube says:

            I’m pretty close to that opinion. I mean, there are points where I can see a revolution being justified because things are bad enough (see the Middle East), but we’re a long ways off from that here.

            Fuck your cause if you drag me into it by blocking traffic.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            The point of peaceful protest is surely to stop things getting bad enough that revolution is necessary. Do you think the more disruptive civil rights protests of the 1960’s were unjustified? Would you have disapproved of the protests against Hitler before the 1932 election?

          • Nicholas says:

            In all conflicts where one side is currently winning, to be aware of the conflict and to “choose to be neutral” has as a practical consequence increasing the likelihood of the victory of the side that is currently winning. Thus from the perspective of a coalition builder George Bush’s adage is technically correct: Any effort to avoid being with “us” makes you against us, even if it does not per se make you one of “them”.

          • Nornagest says:

            Would you have disapproved of protests against Hitler before the 1932 election?

            You might be aware of this, but there were protests, not to mention marches, demonstrations, and rallies. Lots of them: the Nazi Party was especially known for them (successful fascist parties tend to be particularly good at spectacle), but their enemies did the same thing, even the centrists. Weimar Germany was politically tumultuous to a degree that until recently would have been unimaginable to a modern Westerner — we’re getting back into “imaginable” territory now, but we’re still a ways off from paramilitary groups clashing in the streets on a daily basis.

            (ETA: see below.)

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Nornagest

            Yes, I accidentally out “the” after “disapproved of” which changed my meaning.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            You think all protests are wrong, regardless of what they’re about?

            No, I think protests that drag innocent people in against their will, and occasionally risk their lives, are wrong. Especially when the protesters’ cause is already the darling of the news and entertainment media, the Presidency, social media corporations, and every major city government.

            Now, it’s possible they may be effective. But not everything that is effective is right.

            (On a side note, I remember when it was the end of the world because one of Chris Christie’s political allies closed a bridge for a couple hours for specious reasons. But I guess some animals are more equal than others.)

    • Adam says:

      You guys are badly overthinking this. Read Zombielicious’ first-person account of how to get involved in something like this. It’s entirely possible 90% of the protesters didn’t even know what they’d be doing until they were already doing it. Group action is a lot of chance and path-dependency, especially this. Black Lives Matter is a hashtag, not an organization with a centralized agenda-setting committee. If several people can get enough several others to agree to converge at a time and place, there you go. They may just be channeling rage and impulse. These are not necessarily precision calculated events where someone with the power of veto is saying yes or no based on a reasoned analysis, complete with evidence, that doing this will win more people to their side than not. Sometimes you’re just mad and it feels good to break shit.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Sure, people get caught up in mobs, people do dumb things. That’s normal, that’s human. But once tempers have cooled one is at least obligated to realize that the behavior was wrong and not attempt to retroactively justify it.

        • Zombielicious says:

          You’re treating your opinion that the protests are wrong and that those involved are just rationalizing their participation as objective fact. It is not.

          • Mary says:

            Just as mob action can lead you to morally wrong actions, it can also lead you to extremely counterproductive ones, which are dumb — and also wrong, in the sense of turning left when you should have turned right is also wrong.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Mary:
            Yes, that’s why I tried to provide a detailed argument for why I didn’t think the protests were counterproductive or morally wrong, in this case. People can disagree, but I probably spent more time thinking about it than people just watching it on TV and forgetting about it a few hours or days later, and tried to adjust for potential bias in coming up with self-serving rationalizations (hence the “months of self-doubt”), so I don’t think my conclusions are substantially less valid than anyone else’s here.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            You’re treating your opinion that the protests are wrong and that those involved are just rationalizing their participation as objective fact. It is not.

            Nope, it’s not objective fact. It’s just my opinion as a member of the public.

            In related news, the purpose of a protest is to sway public opinion. So, you know, take what you want to from that.

          • Zombielicious says:

            In related news, the purpose of a protest is to sway public opinion. So, you know, take what you want to from that.

            As already discussed, this is not the only purpose of a protest, nor even necessarily a major one. There are always going to be people who will never agree with you under any reasonable circumstances (not to say that you’re necessarily one of these). No type of protest is likely to convince, for example, Stormfront members to care about BLM stuff. It would be pointless to let the entire strategy be dictated by needing to change the minds of people who are fundamentally opposed to your program and will never be swayed anyway. They essentially just want you out of the way where they can safely ignore your issue and not have to do anything about it. At that point, the protest becomes more about putting pressure on your opposition and demanding change, rather than continually marginalizing yourself to meet the arbitrary standards of your opponents.

            Some number of people who were on the fence may end up opposing you because of your tactics (e.g. possibly dbdub, based on his earlier comments), and if you end up agitating a large enough group of people then yeah, it may be a self-defeating strategy. But I’d guess that most of the people getting angry because an interstate was blocked off (minus the ones actually stuck in traffic at the time) were not particularly supportive of the issues being protested anyway, so alienating them probably isn’t a huge concern.

            Historically it seems like the more effective protest movements were ones aimed at pressuring the opposition (e.g. labor strikes, civil rights, Vietnam) rather than non-disruptive protests to sway opinion (e.g. Iraq War, OWS, most non-BLM protests of the past 20+ years). Not sure if that’s a causal relationship, but protesting to sway public opinion at least seems particularly ineffective.

      • Mary says:

        You’re morally obliged not to go along with the crowd like that, either, exactly because you can end up doing things you didn’t intend.

      • Zombielicious says:

        I definitely got the impression that almost all (at least 90+%) of the people at them just showed up and were following along, but they did also have real planning from some organized group that was getting better at it over time. The most recent one I was at (over the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile stuff) had a full “safety team” with orange vests that cooperated with police to block intersections and reduce conflicts between the protesters and random bystanders (e.g. people who would walk up to the crowd shouting “Blue Lives Matter!”), and brought bottled water to hand out to the crowd.

        In my city at least, there does seem to be some kind of Black Lives Matter organization that holds planning meetings, but I’m not overly familiar with it and how it works or what kind of organizational structure they have, other than that they apparently only allow “people of color,” including mixed race, at the meetings. Hence why I said it seems more like a movement about racial issues than police brutality/militarization at this point – that’s just the focal issue of the moment, apparently. As a side effect I think some of the other attributes that make people targets of police brutality get overlooked, in particular being young and male, though they do seem to invite representatives from other minority groups and organizations, LGBTQ and Muslims among others, as I mentioned.

        I’m not sure how much of this is the same in other cities.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Gosh, that’s very well organized indeed. So did you guys win an election which allows you to block off streets whenever you want, or how does that work?

        • Anonanon says:

          It’s all expertly coordinated, and massively funded. There is nothing spontaneous about these “protests”, or the violence that just happens to happen at them.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            If you consider someone organising placards to be “expert coordination”, I probably shouldn’t tell you about companies that purchase protesters because they can’t find anyone who genuinely supports them. I’d also interested to know how it is possible to “massively fund” a decentralised movement.

  25. Jiro says:

    Okay, I’ve finished Higurashi (or rather, I did a month or so ago). First of all, if you play the original Mangagamer release, you should use the fan patch which replaces graphics with the PS2 graphics. The original art is ugly. The Steam version may have changed the graphics and could be okay.

    I will say flat out that it is not solvable.

    Svefg bs nyy, vs lbh’er gelvat gb svther guvatf bhg, unyyhpvangvbaf pna rkcynva nal bofreirq rirag. Gung zrnaf gung unyyhpvangvbaf ner vaureragyl n ynfg erfbeg rkcynangvba, juvpu n engvbany ernqre pna’g hfr hayrff gurer vf fcrpvsvp ernfba gb oryvrir gurl rkvfg. Gur tnzr bayl uvagf ng n qeht gb pnhfr unyyhpvangvbaf, abg n qvfrnfr, juvpu funecyl yvzvgf gur ahzore bs fvghngvbaf jurer unyyhpvangvbaf ner npghnyyl cynhfvoyr. Shegurezber, rira vs gurer jnf n jnl sbe gur ernqre gb qrqhpr gung gurer ner bgure unyyhpvangvbaf, gur fcrpvsvp fvghngvbaf gung ner unyyhpvangvbaf pbzr jvgubhg jneavat.

    (Abgr gung “guvf punenpgre npgf bhg bs punenpgre” vf *abg* n jneavat gung gur punenpgre vf unyyhpvangvat. “Punenpgre N tbrf penml naq nggnpxf punenpgre O” vf vaqvfgvathvfunoyr sebz “punenpgre O tbrf penml naq guvaxf ur vf orvat nggnpxrq ol punenpgre N”.)

    Gurer ner nyfb n pbhcyr bs pnfrf jurer vg vf uneq gb rkcynva gur ivbyrapr ol Uvanzvmnjn Flaqebzr. Sbe vafgnapr, gur bar jurer Zvba gbegherf Fuvba ol evccvat bss ure svatreanvyf. Gung’f qbar jvgu gur nccebiny bs gur ragver snzvyl naq vf pyrneyl pbafvqrerq abezny.

    Gur tnzr bzvgf pehpvny vasbezngvba. Sbe vafgnapr, lbh qba’g yrnea gung rirelbar va Uvanzvmnjn nyjnlf qvrf va rnpu ybbc naq ner svefg gbyq guvf va gur fgbel jurer Xrvvpuv pynvzf gung rirelbar ur phefrf qvrf, znxvat vg frrz yvxr uvf phefr pnhfrq gur qrngu fvapr nf sne nf lbh unir orra gbyq, gung arire unccrarq va nal bgure ybbc.

    Perngvat n fpv-sv zlfgrel vf gevpxl orpnhfr gur ernqref arrq gb or gbyq rabhtu nobhg gur jbeyq gung gurl pna znxr qrqhpgvbaf. Bgurejvfr fpv-sv ryrzragf hfrq gb rkcynva zlfgrevrf ner na nffchyy. Jr qba’g xabj gung n gvzr ybbc vf vaibyirq, engure guna whfg gur nhgube ergryyvat fbzrguvat jvgu punatrf, hagvy dhvgr n juvyr guebhtu. Naq gur qvfrnfr, juvyr abg nf fpv-sv nf na napvrag qrzba, vf fgvyy n fpv-sv ryrzrag sebz abjurer. Gur fgbel nyfb fhttrfgf n ahzore bs vzcbffvoyr guvatf nobhg gur qvfrnfr; gurl ghea bhg gb or snyfr, ohg punenpgref va gur xabj frrz gb guvax gurl ner ernfbanoyr cbffvovyvgvrf, fb gur ernqre jvyy guvax “gung pna’g unccra, ohg V unir gb npprcg vg orpnhfr vg’f cebonoyl abafrafr fpvrapr”. Fhecevfr.

    Nyfb, V nz rkcrpgrq gb oryvrir gung Evxn unf na vaivfvoyr, vagnatvoyr fpbhg naq pna’g svther bhg jub vf “xvyyvat” Zvlb naq Wveb?

    • Saint Fiasco says:

      I will say flat out that it is not solvable.

      Welp, there went 20 hours of my life, according to Steam.

      I was planning on playing through the rest of the episodes paying extra attention to the parts that are the same in all iterations. The unreliable narrator hopefully won’t make the exact same mistake in several timelines.

      In addition, I suspect the TIPS section can be misleading but never lies. The narrator of those sections is never revealed to have been lying about things they said in a tip, though I suppose my sampling size is too small (I only read two chapters so far). It feels a bit like parseltongue in HPMOR.

      I have to say, though, even if it turns out to be unsolvable and the answer to everything is actually ‘it was just a dream, lol’, the novels themselves are enjoyable. In the second chapter, when I realized near the beginning that the story was different but was going more or less the same places, the fun, games and petty drama of the characters acquired more significance.

      The characters don’t realize it but they are in a race against time, so you know the stupid drama with Mion’s “twin sister” would have to be resolved very soon, before the shit obligatorily hits the fan at the festival. It imbues the light comedy and stupid drama with a sense of urgency.

    • Anonymous says:

      Right, I had the impression that Higu is well-received, and consequently expected the mystery to be good. Egur svefg ebhgr cebivqrq ab hfnoyr vasbezngvba qhr gb haeryvnoyr aneengbe, naq gur ebhgrf nsgre gung jrer rkgerzryl qviretrag va riragf – ubj gb nanylmr gur fvghngvba jura rirelguvat punatrf sbe ab nccnerag ernfba? Vs vg jnf pyrne jul gur frpbaq ebhgr qviretrq sebz gur svefg, gur ernqre pbhyq ybbx ng gur ernfba guvatf jrag qvssreragyl naq jbaqre jul gur frpbaq gvzr nebhaq vg jnfa’g Xrvvpuv gung jrag znq ohg fbzrbar ryfr. Nf vf ubjrire, rnpu ebhgr jnf znffviryl qvssrerag naq gur guvatf lbh’er vairfgvtngvat – gur pnhfr sbe gur znqarff – pbhyq unir orra nssrpgrq ol fb znal guvatf orsber gur fgneg bs gur ebhgr gung vg’f cbvagyrff gb ybbx.

      By the fourth route it was clear that the VN isn’t a serious mystery you’re meant to solve but rather something you just watch, so I dropped the novel and watched the anime. Didn’t feel like reading 40 more hours of slice of life if there’s nothing to solve.

      Part of it is that the novel is too cute about curses for its own good. It’s frustrating to be trying to figure this stuff out and having the creators go “teehee, it could just be magic!”. The limitations of the setting have to be clear or it gets really frustrating. If you’re making strong innuendo toward magic or superscience or it was all a dream, chances are you will use those things later, and that makes trying to solve the mystery pointless since they make anything possible. So when I saw routes spend 10% of time on material evidence and 90% on setting up an atmosphere about creepy magics, well..

      • Jiro says:

        They actually do explain why events vary in one of the later episodes (I thinki it was the last or next to last). Crbcyr ner serr gb znxr pubvprf. Gurer ner fbzr pnfrf jurer crbcyr npghnyyl qb pubbfr qvssrerag guvatf va qvssrerag ybbcf, naq fbzr pnfrf jurer crbcyr’f pubvprf ner cerggl zhpu varivgnoyr naq gurl jvyy pubbfr gur fnzr guvat va rnpu ybbc. Qvssrerag crbcyr tb znq orpnhfr lbh unir gb qvfgehfg lbhe sevraqf naq jbex nybar va beqre gb tb znq, naq crbcyr znqr qvssrerag pubvprf nobhg gehfg va qvssrerag ybbcf.

        Of course you are told this too late to be able to deduce anything from it.

    • BBA says:

      I watched part of the anime a while ago, was considering playing the game…thing is, part of the appeal for me was watching a typical cute kids doing cute things anime premise descend into murder and violence, again and again. If the game just presents itself as a mystery to be solved, that’s a bit of a ripoff.

      The “sequel”, Umineko, starts out with a similar premise, but then reveals itself to be a meta-story about whether or not it’s a solvable mystery or a story about magic. I watched the anime, which necessarily left out many of the “clues” and was nearly incomprehensible; from reading discussion of the game, it’s needlessly convoluted and the ending was a huge disappointment.

  26. Tibor says:

    Since Onyomi mentions in his thread about PE that dancing is considered “female”…Why do you think that is the case? Music is not considered female for example (if anything, most non-singer, non-classical music musicians are men) to pick something closely related to dancing which does not show that pattern.

    I can understand that some dances are considered feminine, I can get why men are not keen on ballet, but you also have pair dances where the man’s role is clearly more traditionally “masculine”, since it is the male partner who leads. The professional dancers’ costumes are kind of overly flashy, but most dancing is not like that.

    It also seems to be a very European (although maybe that is not even the case in Southern Europe) and North American thing to see dance as feminine.

    If you perceive dance (generally) as feminine yourself, what exactly makes you think so?

    for obvious reasons, I am quite happy with the interest in dancing being tilted towards women 🙂 But I would still like to know why so many men don’t like it.

    I should mention that I do not like individual dancing, the sort of you see in discos in Europe where everyone somehow jumps around more or less randomly. But in fact, this is the kind of dancing which men are more likely to take part in.

    • Lumifer says:

      In the US the dancing classes (for kids) are typically called “ballet” and focus on teaching rudimentary basics of the classic ballet. Kids are not usually taught pair dancing (at least before high school).

      • Tibor says:

        Yes, I was not talking about kids. I don’t think it is common for small kids to dance in pairs anywhere, except for those whose parents want them to do it as a sport.

        Do you have a tradition of semi-mandatory dance classes when you’re around 16? In the former Austria-Hungary (Well, at least in Austria, in the Czech republic and in Slovakia) and also in Germany kids of that age sort of have to take basic dancing lessons – a mix of “standard” ballroom dances.

        It actually seems to be a class thing. The kids do this at high school/grammar school but I think that those who only have lower education and learn a craft (like being a baker or a cosmetician) don’t tend to do it. But if your family is “middle class” (socially speaking, not necessarily in income) the chances are your parents will make you take the dancing lessons.

        Still, it does little to make dancing more attractive to men, possibly because o lot of them only do that course because their parents (mothers especially) wanted that.

        • LHN says:

          When I was in middle school[1] (so several decades ago now), we had weekly dance classes as part of gym. Nothing terribly fancy, and since I have terrible kinesthetic memory I probably picked up less than average. But they taught a basic box step and some then-popular dances.

          It wasn’t continued into high school where it probably would have been more useful. (Though possibly not, since paired dancing was at something of a low ebb in popular culture when I was in high school.)

          [1] Middle school is grades 6-8, ages ~11-13.

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      I’d guess it has something to do with AIDs, as looking at generational stereotypes, this doesn’t seem to have begun being true until the 80’s.

    • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

      It seems to me that dancing is seen as a body-advertising activity. Like exhibitionism. Men aren’t socialized to “advertise” their bodies like women are, so that’s probably why; men are more likely to be voyeurs. At least that’s what I’m putting forth.

      I asked a bellydancer friend of mine if there were male bellydancers and she said there are. However, their dancing style is more aggressive and “stompy” (as she put it) than the female version. I can’t see that playing well at some sort of hooka bar, where my friend dances at.

      • Tibor says:

        Bellydancing is in the same category as ballet – it is a dance danced by individuals separately. Dancing in pairs is more about interaction with the partner.

        • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

          Stereotypes don’t have to be logical. If your first mental picture of dancing is bellydancing, and this picture is feminine, then the whole concept of dancing becomes feminine.

          However, my first association is actually pair dancing and dancing seems to be a feminine thing, so I doubt this explains your observation.

    • Randy M says:

      Dancing is kind of frivolous and emotional. Sometimes it comes across as requiring “letting yourself go” or “feeling the music.” In this it is more feminine versus a masculinity that is usually seen as more stoic and self-controlled.

      But then again, most forms of dancing are co-ed, and often part of a courting activity, and of course physical. So hearing that somebody goes dancing wouldn’t seem less masculine at all to me, though someone devoted to it or performing it as an art likely would.

      • JayT says:

        To go one step further, I think that most forms of art, even though they have been traditionally dominated by men, are seen as feminine because they require more emotion and less strength.

      • Tibor says:

        Then again, women, when they play musical instruments, much more often play classical music and play in a orchestra, which is a much more controlled environment than playing a lead guitar in a rock band where it is a lot about “letting yourself go” (and in “popular” -i.e. not classical – music you have much more male musicians than female, at least if you exclude singers).

        I think that your point with dancing casually and being devoted to it makes some sense. I am not exactly sure why, because again, hearing that someone is devoted to playing music does not bring about such associations. I feel like there is some kind of a qualitative difference between dancing and playing music but cannot quite make a full sense out of it. Somehow playing seems more introverted than dancing or something. Interestingly, I also have the impression that while women who play musical instruments are often much more shy than men on the stage or generally when playing for people, men are much more shy than women when they are supposed to dance in front of people. I have no explanation for this (if that observation is true).

        • Randy M says:

          Interesting point about the musicians. Maybe part of that is that rock musicians tend to overcompensate it other ways? Being loud, brash, impulsive, promiscuous, etc.

          • Tibor says:

            Perhaps. But few people would think that a jazz musician is somehow feminine because he plays music in a non-aggressive way. Or an opera singer – I haven’t seen anyone calling Pavarotti effeminate. In fact, save for pop musicians whose production is aimed at teenage girls, I have trouble coming up with any musicians which would be generally viewed as effeminate. Somehow playing music is not viewed as particularly feminine whereas dancing is.

    • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

      I’d wager a guess that dancing is considered romantic. Traditional chivalry belongs firmly to the “feminine” camp, just like pretty much eveything found in a Jane Austen novel.

      Strereotypically (!!!) women are into expressing their love in a sort of beautiful and cultured way. Thus you have candle light dinners and love songs being a staple of romantic movies. Pair-dancing is like that: It’s the courtship ritual of a very high class in a time considered to be cultured, an activity that is about moving and expressing your body and ideally also love for the other person.

      And to signal that they are not gay, young male adults are not as interested in those things.

      • Tibor says:

        High class…I guess it depends on the dance. Tango or Walz may have a high class aura, salsa much less so and something like reggaeton is distinctively “vulgar”.

        On the other hand, this might explain the different attitudes in different countries. Salsa is much more popular in Latin America than elsewhere (and I’m told that the teenagers prefer reggaeton nowadays…which is a very sexualized dance and not exactly “refined”, so the youngsters don’t feel it’s “gay”) and in Europe and US/Canada, most pair dancing is ballroom dancing, which can perhaps be seen as too “high society”.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      I have heard that in Scotland, traditional Scottish folk dancing is taught in primary schools, possibly as part of PE. It’s certainly the case in my experience that many if not most Scots know the basic steps. I play fiddle for ceilidhs (Scottish/Irish dance events, usually with a caller explaining the dances, somewhat similar to an American contra but more energetic and with less spinning) and find that if it’s at a formal event like a wedding, the number of men in kilts is a good way to get an early estimate of how competent the dancers will be- of course, the fact that a man is wearing a kilt doesn’t necessarily mean he grew up in Scotland, but it makes it more likely.

      • Winter Shaker says:

        Scottish person brought up in Scotland – I can confirm that we had Scottish Country Dance in school, though I think it was a separate thing from gym class – I remember getting the basic ceilidh dances in about the fourth year of school, when I’d have been eight – just the simple ones like the Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, Hamilton House. I can also remember having weekly classes at the next school I was at, from age 10 to 14, and hating it, though I’m pretty sure that was more down to an unusually hostile teacher – I can’t remember any specific dances apart from Petronella, which is still fairly entry-level.

        No memory of any classes at all at the school I was at from age 14 to 18, though, which is odd, because that’s the sort of age when you might actually want to dance with prospective romantic partners. And it wasn’t until many years later, going back to university in my 30s, that I got the really fun, complex, mostly-designed-by-WW2-era-codebreakers dances like Mairi’s Wedding, Bees of Maggieknockater, Kelpie of Loch Coruisk, Gothenberg’s Welcome etc (seriously, look some of those up; I’d be very surprised if they don’t appeal to the maths-brain of the median SSC reaser).

        I think you could have got Highland Dancing as well, which is the other major form of Scottish folk dance, but I personally didn’t; unlike Scottish Country Dance which is always danced in sets, Highland is a solo show-off dance, and seems to be mostly marketed to girls these days, even if you can tell by the swords that it traditionally wasn’t…

  27. keranih says:

    Regarding the EA Global conference – and to some extent SSC’s commentariant –

    – how much tolerance is there for people whose thinking is somewhat analytical – or, better than it was! – and whose definition of “altruistic” might not match that of some/most of the other participants?

    One of the things that got a lot of press/chatter regarding last year’s EAG was the menu. To me, a group’s rule dictating a full vegan menu (vs a vegan *option*, which is far less problematic) is very much a sign that there is not so much tolerance of experience diversity/not being as far along the path as others.

    In contrast, I think SSC does a good job of pushing for discussion at multiple levels of rationality – to the point where some feel that there is too much of an open door/too many objectionable people/viewpoints present.

    Did one go to EAG, would it be more like SSC, or not?

    • Julia says:

      Hi, Julia here, one of the EA Global organizers.

      This year’s conference is not all-vegan; there will be vegan and vegetarian options but not meat. As we said in the application when mentioning the food options, we don’t want this to constitute some kind of statement on how effective personal diet is as a means of ending animal suffering. In the end we made the choice largely out of respect for people who are viscerally horrified by the presence of animal bodies. In terms of diversity, the organizers constitute a wide range (from omnivores to reducetarians to vegans), and we expect that conference attendees also have a wide range of opinions on the subject.

      I definitely expect that there will be a mix of opinions present on what ends are good and how we should get there. Other than that, I’m not sure I fully understand your questions.

      • keranih says:

        Hey Julia, thank you for answering the question. However, I am only more confused.

        This is billed as an event for people to analytically consider the pros and cons of various ways to improve the world.

        During those sessions, food is available. You say, “In the end we made the choice [to not serve meat] largely out of respect for people who are viscerally horrified by the presence of animal bodies.

        Coming from a society that – like most of the world – where meat products are eaten daily and where most people of the most materially poor societies are actively trying to increase the animal protein in their lives, the sort of people who experience “visceral horror” at the “presence of animal bodies” are…highly non-typical.

        This kind of “visceral horror” also strikes me as exceptionally non-rational, non-logical, and not based on analysis, but on an emotional gut reaction.

        Given that there are multiple grey areas here –

        – are not eggs the bodies of unborn animals? Are not fish animals? –

        – and given the multiple options – (for instance, people who prefer vegan could eat/be served at a different table where the preferences of others would not disturb them; the meat options could be served already sliced or minced (sausage, meat loaf, hamburger, etc) so that actual “bodies” would not be there to cause unwanted harm, chicken (the only food generally served at all resembling the animal it came from) could be excluded entirely –

        – that the EA group made the choice to forbid “meat” because of the “visceral horror” of some members strikes me as very odd, and not really well related to the proposed theme.

        This is not my function, however, and I understand very well that in all such collective events a number of compromises are required. It just seems to me that this particular choice – made for the reasons you expressed – stands in striking contrast to the stated systemic process of the group.

        It causes me to wonder what other things generally agreed on as beneficial or unoffensive are banned, because of the “visceral horror” of some participants. And it causes me to suspect that any number of minority perspectives would find an equally emotional negative reaction.

        Again, thank you for your answer.

        • Tedd says:

          This discussion was had in great detail at the time, in other EA-related places and in the open threads here (as well as in other threads). Some people were of your opinion. Others disagreed.

          For context, many EAs consider animal advocacy to be the highest-priority cause area, and some of them are, as Julia says, viscerally horrified by meat. (But I don’t think having strong feelings is irrational.)

          I don’t think there were any other things which would have horrified more than one attendee in the same way.

          • keranih says:

            This discussion was had in great detail at the time, in other EA-related places and in the open threads here

            And yet here we are, a year further on, and still people are putting limits on what other people can eat. Because of emotional reactions.

            I don’t think having strong feelings is irrational.

            The question is not is it legit to have feelings, the question is do Sally’s strong feelings require a specific action on the part of Bob? And over and over, the rationalist community attempts to reject emotional responses and demand rational construction of analytical responses.

            many EAs consider animal advocacy to be the highest-priority cause area.

            Yes. I question their methods, their rationality, and their math. And I wonder how much of EA suffers from the same founder effect.

            I don’t think there were any other things which would have horrified more than one attendee in the same way.

            …not abortion, not warfare, not nuclear weapons, not polygamy, not nudity, not Marxism, not ethics in game journalism, not same-sex-marriage, not saying grace at the table? Nothing?

          • Tedd says:

            And yet here we are, a year further on, and still people are putting limits on what other people can eat.

            You seem to be implying that, if the discussion was had, everyone would agree with you. Is it really that surprising that this is not the case?

            The question is not is it legit to have feelings, the question is do Sally’s strong feelings require a specific action on the part of Bob? And over and over, the rationalist community attempts to reject emotional responses and demand rational construction of analytical responses.

            That’s a pretty bad misstatement of the situation. Some people would not have been comfortable attending a conference which served meat. It was judged more important that they attend than that the conference serve meat. What would you have had the vegans do, not have those feelings? But they disagree with you on an empirical question, and those feelings are a rational response to meat given their answer to said empirical question.

            Yes. I question their methods, their rationality, and their math. And I wonder how much of EA suffers from the same founder effect.

            They question yours, on solid grounds. What of it? The movement is not yet mature enough to be so confident we know which the right causes are that we can afford to disinvite the likes of Peter Singer.

            …not abortion, not warfare, not nuclear weapons, not polygamy, not nudity, not Marxism, not ethics in game journalism, not same-sex-marriage, not saying grace at the table? Nothing?

            Yes.

            Or rather, none of those things were in any danger of being at the conference. (Maybe polygamy, but no one seemed to be viscerally horrified by the polygamists there.)

            Of course there were disagreements on these matters, but no one there appeared to be viscerally horrified to be in the presence of people with whom they disagreed.

            It’s not that the vegans were unwilling to tolerate the presence of people who eat meat at other times. It’s that they did not want to be at a place where meat was served.

            You’re conflating these things.

          • Aapje says:

            You seem to be implying that, if the discussion was had, everyone would agree with you

            No, there is a big difference between agreement and tolerance. Tolerance is the acceptance of things that you disagree with. Keranih is asking for the latter.

            I am not a vegan, but I prefer that catered meals give a vegan option. That’s because I’m tolerant. You are not giving meat-eaters the choice to eat meat, so you are intolerant.

            Of course, plenty of intolerance is justified, like being intolerant of violence. But eating meat doesn’t objectively harm vegans, it merely hurts their feelings. In my opinion, once you cave to hurt feelings by taking freedom away from other people, you are lost, because people get hurt feelings over things that conflict. One person gets hurt feelings over seeing meat, another gets hurt feelings over being forced into non-meat options. Whose feelings do you give priority?

            It becomes a case of ‘who the rulers like more’ or ‘who has more power’. In other words, the people with power get their way and the powerless have to submit.

            It’s not that the vegans were unwilling to tolerate the presence of people who eat meat at other times. It’s that they did not want to be at a place where meat was served.

            “I’m OK with gays in our society, I just don’t want to allow gay sex”

            We’ve heard it before, these kinds of distinctions are just excuses to justify intolerance by claiming it is not personal.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            not abortion, not warfare, not nuclear weapons, not polygamy, not nudity, not Marxism, not ethics in game journalism, not same-sex-marriage, not saying grace at the table? Nothing?

            It’s not that the vegans were unwilling to tolerate the presence of people who eat meat at other times. It’s that they did not want to be at a place where meat was served.

            “I’m OK with gays in our society, I just don’t want to allow gay sex”

            Tedd’s point is that all of your examples of things that Americans typically have strong disagreements over aren’t the sort of thing that would come up in organizing a conference, and it only needs to make (and should only make) statements on things that are a part of the conference. We’re not talking about banning people, or discussion of ideas, we’re talking about the conference not supplying something that would typically be supplied, and using a substitute that some attendees (including me) will like substantially less.

          • Anonanon says:

            I just realized how interesting it would be to read the EA conference Code of Conduct to see what kind of language it uses. I’ll post it when I get home this evening, unless someone else does first.

            Many of the more “modern” ones make statements about all sorts of things that aren’t part of the conference.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            how interesting it would be to read the EA conference Code of Conduct to see what kind of language it uses

            Here it is: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1W-OzpnTdNo3QMJFzoE26PAgod3ENk9o5JNyebi-9Iw0/edit

            It looks pretty reasonable to me.

          • Anonanon says:

            Thank you for the link. The language is definitely encouraging, and I take back my snide insinuation about entryism.

        • Jeff Kaufman says:

          Imagine it’s the 1800s and we’re having an EA conference. The abolitionists are one component of EA, but maybe 75% of EAs either think there are more urgent priorities or that slavery is not a problem. At abolitionist conferences people would avoid any products created with slave labor, and organizers wouldn’t think of having slaves at the conference to serve attendees, but the question is what an EA conference should do. The EA organizers then probably shouldn’t adopt a “no slavery products” policy because there’s not general agreement among EAs that this is what people should do. But if they did decide, however, not to have slaves actively serving at the conference, out of respect for the abolitionists present, this seems pretty reasonable to me. It’s would be a gesture to indicate to the abolitionists that they are fully accepted within EA, but not going so far as to indicate that their position is a core movement position.

          the sort of people who experience “visceral horror” at the “presence of animal bodies” are…highly non-typical

          EAs are non-typical in a lot of ways, and I think that’s mostly for the best! Among serious animal advocates, I think discomfort being around people while they eat meat is pretty common.

          This kind of “visceral horror” also strikes me as exceptionally non-rational, non-logical, and not based on analysis, but on an emotional gut reaction.

          Several vegan EAs I know have intentionally cultivated a visceral disgust reaction to meat eating, as a way to have their body help support their ethics. A lot of human ethics in practice is about getting yourself to do what you determine to be the right thing.

          Even among people who didn’t cultivate this reaction but just have it, which I think is more common, I still think you’re being too dismissive. If you see someone hurting, start feeling sick because of the pain they’re going through, and start helping them, this seems to me to be exactly what the emotional reaction of empathy is for. The important thing in EA is to have this emotionally-motivated help be as valuable as possible, and not at all to suppress the motivation as unsupported.

          are not eggs the bodies of unborn animals?

          The eggs we eat are non-fertilized, which means they never could become animals. And, more relevantly for our purposes here, there’s not much of a grey area because the mainstream American idea of “vegetarian” allows eggs.

          are not fish animals?

          They are, and the mainstream American idea of “vegetarian” disallows them. The conference is including fish in the list of things it won’t serve.

          people who prefer vegan could eat/be served at a different table where the preferences of others would not disturb them

          This would discourage one of the main reasons of having the conference, which is to let EAs from differing cause areas to talk to and learn from each other.

          meat options could be served already sliced or minced

          This wouldn’t really work, since the kind of revulsion animal-focused EAs often feel isn’t really reduced by cutting them smaller. Something where you allowed, say, animal fats in baking might work, but by substituting a vegetarian fat you make a dish more people can eat with minimal downside. Additionally, there’s a lot of value in having a simple food policy, and “no meat” is a lot simpler than “meat only in forms and quantities where it is not recognizable”.

          what other things generally agreed on as beneficial or unoffensive are banned, because of the “visceral horror” of some participants

          That meat-eating is not generally agreed as beneficial or unoffensive among EAs is kind of key here.

          • Anonanon says:

            If your analogy is accurate, then non-vegan EAs should try to destroy the movement as fast as possible. Because if it survives more than a few decades, it will try to kill them.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            @Anonanon: could you elaborate? I think you’re referring to the US Civil War, but extending the analogy there wouldn’t make much sense.

          • Anonymous says:

            Several vegan EAs I know have intentionally cultivated a visceral disgust reaction to meat eating, as a way to have their body help support their ethics. A lot of human ethics in practice is about getting yourself to do what you determine to be the right thing.

            I can’t put it as eloquently as the comment I originally saw this from, but people are capable of feeling genuine emotion in strategic moments if you reward that. Treat the accusations of someone who’s very afraid as undeniable truth, and you’ll have a lot of people who are very afraid. Same with listening to people because they feel visceral disgust.

            And we’re not talking about people who intentionally cultivate those reactions, but a more innocent process. Unless you want to turn certain positions of your moment into an intellectual joke where the highest standard of discourse is an oppression/emotion olympics, “visceral disgust” is not a reason to do anything. And when people start intentionally self-modifying their emotions, even if it was not originally intended to be used to get their way with other people, well..

          • Lumifer says:

            People can self-modify (including their emotional response) as much as they want to. The issue is whether their self-modifications (and, more generally, preferences) impose obligations on anyone else.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            What is the point of the analogy with abolitionism? If it is supposed to move others, would learning its factual inaccuracy move you in the other direction?

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            Unless you want to turn certain positions of your moment into an intellectual joke where the highest standard of discourse is an oppression/emotion olympics, “visceral disgust” is not a reason to do anything

            In this case the kind of disgust people are talking about having is one that we do want to encourage from an EA perspective. This is a disgust that aligns with their reasoned and grounded sense of how best to improve the world, and helps them maintain their motivation.

            I’m not saying that “visceral disgust” should be a trump card that ends the conversation. I think if someone had real disgust, say, about the wasteful presence of bottled water it wouldn’t make sense to change anything about the conference.

            I also think the argument against having meat at the conference stands even without the disgust argument, in that it’s a very good signal about animal-advocacy’s relationship to the rest of EA. Even though basically all advocates are vegan and think the conference should be vegan, it doesn’t go that far. But it also takes a step in that direction in order to be welcoming and confirm that animal-advocacy does belong within EA.

            What is the point of the analogy with abolitionism? If it is supposed to move others, would learning its factual inaccuracy move you in the other direction?

            It’s supposed to “move others” in the sense of trying to make it easier to think through how you would consider this question if you were on the anti-meat side. It’s not supposed to “move others” in the sense of convincing people to prioritize animal suffering; I’m not an animal-focused EA.

            I’m interested in factual inaccuracy, both for curiosity and for seeing how that changes the analogy’s argument.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            seeing how that changes the analogy’s argument

            I wrote something here, but then I decided it was better not to.

            ━━━━━━━━━

            The New York Manumission Society was full of slaveholders. I don’t know that slaves served at the meetings, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

            You imagine that Abolition meetings would enforce Free Produce, but this seems extremely unlikely to me. Free Produce was a marginal movement. The only significant part was boycotting sugar, and that only in narrow windows of time. Also, it isn’t clear how relevant Free Produce is to an Abolition meeting. Did such meetings in, say, 1820 serve tea? sugar? But by 1848, slavery was abolished in the Caribbean (though not Brazil), so no such rule would be relevant to Abolition meetings, so there is no point in asking if it spread to Seneca Falls. But women’s rights did invade Abolition, causing a rift.

          • Anonanon says:

            > The issue is whether their self-modifications (and, more generally, preferences) impose obligations on anyone else.

            >the kind of disgust people are talking about having is one that we do want to encourage from an EA perspective.

            Well, that answers that. If you want to participate, you’ll have to be modified. It’s a cult.

          • Tekhno says:

            All movements that prescribe moral positions are cults, by those standards.

            The only part where rationalists go wrong is the part where they think they can escape from being a cult like all the other ideologies that have ever existed. The problem is that the absolute foundations of morality are not in any way at all rationally derived. The point of EA shouldn’t be to determine what is morally right, but that given a moral precept, there are more or less rational ways to go about actualizing it.

            Unfortunately, this also implies that the correct way to do EA is to split into as many different subgroups as possible to represent different interpretations of utilitarianism, and different weights for things like animal suffering and so on.

            I don’t even feel like this can be stopped. Every new movement has a tendency to split along pre-existing spectrum based divisions.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            If you want to participate, you’ll have to be modified. It’s a cult.

            I feel like you’re actively trying to read the worst into what I write, and are ascribing positions to me that I don’t hold. I definitely don’t think you have to develop new disgust reactions to be an EA! That’s not part of how I’ve gone about it at all, and I don’t think most EAs take that approach.

            I do think that developing this sort of reaction, though, is something that can be a healthy part of strengthening your commitment to living a life that is in accordance with your values, and is not something we should be mocking people for.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Jeff Kaufman

            is something that can be a healthy part of strengthening your commitment to living a life that is in accordance with your values

            Are you basically trying to pre-commit to not changing?

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            Are you basically trying to pre-commit to not changing?

            Sometimes. For example, I pledged with GWWC and made that public partly because I think having a commitment and social pressure to continue to give will help me keep from selfishly and lazily reverting to spending most of my money on myself.

            But other times it’s not about a long term commitment but a shorter one. Every day, on reflection, you think it would be better not to eat lots of brownies, but when they’re sitting right there in front of you it’s difficult not to just keep eating. So you decide not to keep brownies in the house, and if you want to eat one you’ll walk to the store, buy it, walk home, and eat it.

            It seems to me like the people I know who try to cultivate a disgust reaction around eating meat are trying to do some of each of these. It’s primarily about resisting the temptation to violate their current values, but since the reaction gets stronger over time it also has some effect in keeping their values from changing here.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Julia, the way you phrased this (“we don’t want this to constitute some kind of statement on how effective personal diet is as a means of ending animal suffering,” “largely out of respect for people who are viscerally horrified by the presence of animal bodies”) is kind of a tell about what opinion the conference insists is true, no matter its claims to diversity.

        I mean, seriously? “Animal bodies”?

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          If you want to set the policy, just get a group of people to be horrified by the opposite of it. I mean, you literally can’t stand it. Then there will be no choice but to accede to your demands.

          It’s the circular firing squad all over agian.

          • Outis says:

            Ideally society would restrict itself to the intersection of things that everyone finds acceptable. Fortunately, there is no chance that people would game the system by playing up their horror to enforce restrictions, so it should converge pretty quickly to something very reasonable.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            there will be no choice but to accede to your demands

            Conferences typically provide bottled water for speakers, because people talking often need water and bottling it makes the logistics much simpler. On the other hand, there are some very anti-bottled water people, and while there probably aren’t many among EAs, the intersection between those two groups is probably not empty. So some EAs who are fundamentally opposed to the provision of bottled water start demanding that EA conferences use pitchers and (non-disposable) cups, declaring that they find the waste of the bottles to be viscerally horrifying.

            What do you think happens? I think we have a discussion, and we come away from it still providing bottled water, because the claim that bottling water is a major cause of suffering or is otherwise a high priority just isn’t plausible.

            Can you give some examples of things you think people might declare themselves to be horrified of, that you think the community would acquiesce to? It seems to me like we’re not actually on a slippery slope, and that this conflict is just due to diet change being plausibly one of the most important ways of improving the world.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Indeed, that particular phrase signifies the presence and ascendance of one faction of the culture war. (Compare “black bodies”, not the idealized radiators.). Avoid.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I am reminded of that guy who inadvertently wrote the most ‘Metal’ description of eating a Chicken sandwich ever.

        • Jeff Kaufman says:

          “animal bodies” … what opinion the conference insists is true

          Several of the conference organizers, maybe more than half of them eat meat, including Julia? Knowing that, I read Julia’s use of “animal bodies” as trying to convey to keranih the revulsion that animal-focused EAs feel, not her own view or an official view.

      • Adam says:

        Sorry, I just got way too big of a chuckle out of the way you worded that. I mean, they’re in a crowded room that is full of animal bodies.

  28. Tibor says:

    In the last Open Thread I asked whether you thought teaching economics at schools would lead to an on average more libertarian public opinion. Some people disagreed but pretty much everyone who replied seemed to think that teaching economics at schools would be a good thing.

    The question is then – why is it not done?

    The traditional school curriculum is obviously in many respects a relic of the 19th century and probably in all modern countries, most primary and secondary schools are either run by the state or adhere to the framework set up by the state which makes their curriculum more or less the same. But at the same time, economics is way older than computer science and you do get some very basic CS classes at schools (whether they are done well or not is not the issue now). Why is that the case?

    Is it possible that some (influential enough) people genuinely do not want economics to be taught either because they reject the standard economic theory or for some other reason?

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      The traditional school curriculum is obviously in many respects a relic of the 19th century and probably in all modern countries

      I strongly suspect this is a primarily European phenomenon. American education is very susceptible to fads with new programs introduced roughly every generation to little overall effect. The Common Core is an ongoing example, with New Math being an older one.

      Anyway, with economics specifically the problem as I see it is that people aren’t robots who can be programmed or reprogrammed with new worldviews in the space of a semester. If kids aren’t interested in economics, and almost none of them are, they won’t pick up any economics in their economics classes. And that non-knowledge of economics will not reshape their way of viewing the world the same way my non-knowledge of baseball doesn’t reshape my way of viewing the world. You’re hitting, at best, a tiny sliver of kids who would be interested in taking an economics class but aren’t willing or able to go out and learn the basics on their own.

      • Tibor says:

        I agree with your point. Still, it does not explain why it is not taught, only why you should not expect miracles from it.

        People have to learn chemistry, biology, etc. even though most of them end up with zero understanding of it.

    • onyomi says:

      Relating also to my thread about physical education, the simplest, albeit sort of circular answer is that because we haven’t taught economics in school, therefore we don’t teach economics in school. By which I mean, not just the force of institutional inertia, but that the number of adults with knowledge of economics is small, meaning the number of potential economics teachers in school is small.

      Right now, primary and secondary school teachers are not usually academic specialist. They are drawn primarily from the ranks of adults with a general BA-levelish education. Some have Masters and a few PhDs; some have specialized knowledge, but most do not. In other words, it’s hard to teach anything at the primary and secondary level which isn’t either easily learned or already widely distributed knowledge. But since we didn’t teach it in high school, economics (and body awareness) isn’t common knowledge.

    • brad says:

      What do you think the mathematics prerequisites are for a decent economics course, and in what grade do you think most students (say 80%) cover those math prerequisites?

      • Lumifer says:

        Knowledge of arithmetic? It’s quite possible to teach intro to economics without needing anything beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You need to convey concepts and ideas, not make a set of economics-flavored math problems.

        • brad says:

          Every micro course I’ve ever seen user graphs and talks about things like a curve or intersection shifting in a particular direction. I don’t think facility with such graphs (and the notion of functions which underlie them) is covered by arithmetic.

          Maybe it’s possible to come up with an economics course that isn’t so oversimplified as to be useless without them, but having seen mechanics without calculus courses I’m skeptical.

          • Lumifer says:

            I’m talking about a *good* introduction to economics, not the equivalent of your usual undergrad Econ 101 which I’m not a big fan of.

            But maybe it’s just me. I don’t think intro to statistics needs much in the way of math, either.

          • Tibor says:

            “Our own” David Friedman has a textbook about Price theory where the calculus is more or less optional. It is still there, but not crucial to the presentation. He’s also written an even more accessible book called Hidden Order. There is no calculus there and still it is interesting and nontrivial. I also remember Samuelson’s book (which seems to be the most widely used introductory textbook), from the econ course I took at the university and it did not contain much calculations either – again the calculus was there, but usually marked as “for the mathematically inclined” or something like that. That said, I find David’s books better than Samuelson’s, because it is more fun to read (the topics covered and the theory is obviously pretty much identical, these are introductory books).

            In any case, being a maths PhD student (hopefully not student anymore for more than a year or so :)), I am not scared of basic calculus, but at least this basic economics can be explained effectively without any calculus at all, all you need really is arithmetics. I actually like the calculus arguments but that is probably because I am used to thinking in these terms. For most people, the more geometric approach (comparing curves, their intersections and what lies beneath them…entirely graphically) is probably more intuitive.

            In any case, basic economics is actually mathematically very simple (but that does not mean it can only give you trivial and obvious results), even if you do it as rigorously as you can, you will end with basics of calculus.

            I think that the primary school is too early for economics for most kids but during the highschool it should be ok. The kids at that age are expected to understand the basics of physics, I don’t think that the basics of economics are more difficult to understand than that.

          • brad says:

            In the US, most students don’t take calculus in high school at all, and of those that do almost all of them take it during the last year of high school (12th grade). For this reason I wasn’t even thinking of calculus as a prerequisite, but rather what is often in the US called precalculus. That’s the course that generally introduces the concept of functions and tools for dealing with them, including the Cartesian coordinate system. This course is taken by some students in 11th grade, by some in 12th grade, and by some not at all.

          • gbdub says:

            I’m pretty sure for us (decent but not stellar public school in the Midwest USA) that the Cartesian coordinate system and basic functions were introduced in Algebra, which kids on the “calculus by 12th grade” track took no later than 8th grade. I definitely recall e.g. calculating compound interest and basic systems of equations well before I took calculus.

          • Tibor says:

            @brad: Really? What you describe as precalculus (basics of functions, Cartesian coordinates) usually started in the ~7th grade in Czech schools (cartesian coordinates are done earlier and functions a bit later). Calculus is taught at technical high schools and gymnasiums (i.e. grammar schools) in the last year, otherwise you usually end with arithmetic and geometric progressions and their series.

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s been a while, but I’m almost sure I was exposed to the Cartesian coordinate system and graphs of simple functions either in my freshman year of high school or my last year of junior high. Geometry, trigonometry and some very basic linear algebra were all covered later in high school, and you’re not going to get anywhere with any of those subjects unless you’re comfortable with graphs..

          • brad says:

            Maybe not after all. I’m looking at some textbooks and it looks like there is an introduction to these topics in algebra I (generally 8th or 9th grade).

          • Andrew says:

            The “precalculus” taught to 11th graders in US schools is really “trigonometry”, renamed for some silly reason.

          • SUT says:

            The point of the math in classroom economics is to provide an objective way to investigate and conversate on a high-stakes topic where there is a dearth of non-trivial and universally acknowledged truths.

            The ideal outcome is a student digests the formalism, turns it over in his mind, derives the logically proximate implications, and what the most important contradictions that arise to other POVs. Basically what our host does with many a topic from drugs to guns.

            The real problem with our educational model is setting the right “reward function” [to borrow a term from AI] onto learning and intellectual expression. I’d say top students in high school have mostly settled for the heuristic ‘get into a good college’, where the gold standard is resume building, and accentuating your victimhood narrative. For this reason, I doubt there can be a productive discussion of model based economics in the current public school.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’d say top students in high school have mostly settled for the heuristic ‘get into a good college’, where the gold standard is resume building, and accentuating your victimhood narrative.

            What’s the point of these over the top exaggerations in an otherwise good comment? Why blow all your credibility for some cheap tribal dig?

          • SUT says:

            Why blow all your credibility for some cheap tribal dig?

            Perverse incentives in medical research and social science research is the most frequent topic of conversation here (how’s that for hyperbole?). A pretty common and increasingly bipartisan consensus is that you get the research outcomes you reward – for profit or bias confirmation – at the expense of a healthy rationalism.

            Highschools aren’t research centers, but they are giant game playing cultures. It’s a common complaint that sports gets too much attention to the detriment of education, that religion gets too much deference to the determent of education. So I’m curious about what you think so inaccurate about my portrayal of the game of admissions to elite college? I’m no expert but I thought a common piece of advice was to be less “math-y”.

          • Anonymous says:

            To a first approximation what matters in admissions are: your GPA, your SAT score, and things you have no control over (race, gender, high school). “victimhood narrative” is way down in the lower order effects. Sure maybe it can help you beat out another Asian boy with an identical GPA and SAT from a similar upper middle class suburb, but the gold standard would be getting a better GPA and SAT and not being on the bubble in the first place.

          • Nornagest says:

            @green anon — Plus extracurriculars, or whatever they’re euphemistically calling them these days. I would place those below test scores and around the level of the things you have no control over — definitely higher than gender or high school, higher than race if you’re white or Hispanic.

          • Anonymous says:

            Unless you are a recruited athlete or your achievement in the extracurricular is extraordinary (top 100 chess player, $100k advance published author, Olympic ping pong player, etc) extracurriculars don’t mean much. Everyone is the president of the business or environmental club.

            You’d be far better off being the only competitive applicant from your high school to X college in the last 3 years (better yet district) than to have another school club.

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t think I agree. They’re one of the main ways colleges filter for what in a job-interview context would be called “culture fit”, i.e. that you’ve been doing the kinds of things that educated college-bound professionals are supposed to have been doing. If your family knows how to play the game, and if you basically care, then yes, you’ll meet the expectations — but the point is, not all families, and not all students, do.

            This is diametrically opposed in some ways to the diversity thing, but does that really surprise anyone?

          • Anonymous says:

            They want both in different kids. If you are a white kid from some excellent upper middle high school in a suburb of a major east coast city, you damn well better have all the trimmings. But they don’t fill the entire class with those kids.

            So when someone applies from bumblefuck Montana or some ghetto high school with metal detectors yet has competitive SATs the admission’s counselors are going to be drooling. Contra SUT this isn’t based on your victimhood narrative but straight up based on your high school profile which all the top schools are very well aware of. You may well come from a very comfortable family in bumblefuck Montana, but you still check that box.

          • Given the extremes people are willing to go to for educational attainment now, I’m surprised we don’t see more people engaging in massive chicanery to take advantage of the variable selection effect.

            Given the crapshoot of getting into a top-tier school anyway, I wonder why we don’t see more families moving to the ghetto just long enough to promulgate the narrative of being the desired kind of minority applicant.

          • TPC says:

            What you see is much easier– kids starting charities to show leadership in social justice. Gonzalo Lira wrote a fascinating and horrifying post on the implications of Ivies going for kids who participated in charity endeavors strictly to check off a box for advancement into a higher class stratum or maintenance of their current level.

      • David Ricardo invented general equilibrium theory with no math beyond arithmetic. Of course, he was a mathematical genius, so I don’t expect the average high school student to be able to do it. But price theory, which is the core of economics, can be taught without using anything more than a little arithmetic. Calculus provides a language that fits some of the ideas better, but you don’t actually need it.

        My Hidden Order uses graphs and refers to equations, but I don’t think the reader has to actually know algebra or any geometry beyond how to read a graph to follow it. Good mathematical intuition would be more useful than having taken math courses.

        • bean says:

          Calculus provides a language that fits some of the ideas better, but you don’t actually need it.
          The flip side of this is that when you’re trying to teach it without using calculus to people who do understand calc, it can be really, really awkward. My AP Econ teacher was not really qualified, and there were a couple of cases where she/the book used long analogies to explain things like derivatives. I and several of my friends had done AP Calc the previous year, and we spent most of the time rolling our eyes.

          • An example of one disadvantage of classes over books as a way of learning things. With books, different students can use different ones or, if for some reason they all use the same, skip over parts that are obvious.

            A number of people have suggested, I think correctly, that an econ course would be useful to some but not all high school students. I think the point is true more generally. There are few things taught in K-12 schooling that are either useful or interesting to all who are required to take them, probably few that are useful or interesting to even a majority.

            That’s an argument for an approach such as unschooling that lets different students study different things.

            Incidentally, some here might be interested in a talk I gave to the teachers who grade the AP econ exam a year or so ago.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      Firstly, I should mention that economics is taught in some UK schools as an optional subject for students aged 16-18. It is relatively average in popularity, with about as many students taking it as Religious Education. I didn’t study it, so I don’t have much of an idea about the content — here is an example exam paper if anyone is interested. I do know that because of the way the UK school system works, it won’t cover any applications of calculus.

      I think the main reason it is not taught at lower levels is that it is quite a demanding subject that less intelligent students probably wouldn’t benefit from. History exams (for instance) can be dumbed down to be pretty much just tests of memory and reading comprehension, in a way which I don’t think economics exams could be. Another reason is that there are few people willing to teach economics.

      • sohois says:

        It is taught also in European curriculums – referring specifically to the International Baccalaureate.

        I have taught A-Level economics, as well as IB subjects though not IB economics. The subject generally isn’t available for those 16 and younger, it is always pre college level (and from what I know of US schools, economics is generally an AP subject only?). Now, there is some economic content in other subjects available at lower levels; Business can be taken from 14 in the UK and is also available in the Middle Years programme of the IB, whilst both Geography and History have some elements of econ in them, even at low levels. However none of the content would really qualify when posters talk about teaching economics, I presume.

        As for A-Level economics itself, I also feel most SSC posters would not be satisfied with the material offered. It is a very shallow curriculum, attempting to cover a wide variety of ideas in limited detail and deliberately seeking balance, not emphasising one economic theory over the other even if mainstream economics has moved on. That being said, I think most posters here are greatly overestimating the ability of children to learn this material. They are challenging curriculums for 16 -18 year olds, and only the most talented of younger children could cope with learning much of the content.

        It’s worth bearing in mind that everyone on here is most likely in the high reaches of intelligence, probably a lot of high performers in schools and far from the average. From my experience the vast majority of students could not handle this material before 16, and even after that it’s still going to be difficult for a lot of them. UK & European curriculums generally don’t have mandatory subjects after 16, so I’m not sure how one would propose making Economics compulsory when there are so many other worthy subjects that could receive similar treatment.

    • Randy M says:

      My High School in California twenty years ago had an Economics requirement senior year. What schools do you mean that don’t teach it?

      • blacktrance says:

        My high school in Oklahoma seven years ago didn’t offer it.

      • Chalid says:

        Mine required it too, and I was under the impression that it was state-mandated (in California)

        Edit: currently one semester of economics is required for graduation in California:

        http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/hs/hsgrmin.asp

        • Virbie says:

          My private high school in Cali (class of 2007) didn’t have any economics offered, as far as I recall. It certainly wasn’t required since no one I knew (in a pretty small class) ever took an econ course. This is also true of _everybody_ I knew growing up, across a bunch of different private schools (and a couple public).

          From the link you posted:

          Three courses in social studies, including United States history and geography; world history, culture, and geography; a one-semester course in American government and civics, and a one-semester course in economics.

          I would normally interpret this as you did, but given my experience, perhaps it’s interpreted as “three courses from the following options”? That would mean econ satisfies 1/3 social studies courses but is not mandated? I do agree that that’s a pretty unintuitive reading of the language though.

      • Adam says:

        Same here. I went to high school in California twenty years ago and we took an econ class. It was one semester micro, one semester macro. I received AP credit, but they had a normal class, too. As far as I can tell, it did not make Californians more libertarian.

    • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

      I had some Economics education in 8th grade in a German high school. IIRC it was about some basic stuff: price and demand curves, homo oeconomicus etc.

      For what it’s worth, I doubt any of my class mates actually remember anything from this course.

    • JayT says:

      I would wager that two big reasons that economics isn’t widely taught is (1) it would be nearly impossible to agree what schools of thought to teach, and (2) people qualified to teach economics would be few and far between since most economists would have higher paying options in the open market.

      • I don’t think price theory varies much by school of thought.

        One of the members of the Joint Economic Committee was Senator Paul Douglas, a liberal Democrat, who had been a prominent academic economist. When my father testified, it tended to end up with him and Douglas against the rest of the committee.

        Your point is more true about macro, but I wouldn’t want that to be taught in high school anyway. My view is that a course in macro is a tour of either a cemetery or a construction site.

        • JayT says:

          That is true. I guess any time I hear the word “economics” I just assume there is going to be a fight.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          My view is that a course in macro is a tour of either a cemetery or a construction site.

          In the long run, we are all dead?

          • Lumifer says:

            That, too, but I think David Friedman’s point is that there is no consensus about macro. So you either take a tour of what people used to think about it in the past, or you take a tour of how people are trying (without much success) to think about it now.

          • @Lumifer:

            Correct.

        • Agronomous says:

          Your point is more true about macro, but I wouldn’t want that to be taught in high school anyway.

          You libertarians are always so biased against religious education.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      I did learn economics in high school. Specifically, I took a half-schoolyear long AP Macroeonomics class and was also allowed to take the AP Microeonomics exam at school expense on the assumption that I would self-study the difference in material (I did, and I managed to pass). The course was covered by the same social studies teacher who also taught AP European History and the half-schoolyear AP American Government class that followed the AP Macro class.

      If I remember correctly, the normal kids took an “economics” class which consisted of things like writing bank deposit slips, writings checks, and balancing checkbooks. That seems just fine to me; you can’t get most kids to understand concepts like supply and demand curves or comparative advantage. At best you’ll get them to half-remember how to answer some questions by rote long enough to pass a test.

      Of course, this also applies to concepts like evolution and quadratic equations, and since biology and algebra don’t have a “real-life”/”practical” course alternative, the argument generalizes to saying that high school education is a colossal waste of time and money for most students. But, then, we knew that already.

      • onyomi says:

        “you can’t get most kids to understand concepts like supply and demand curves or comparative advantage.”

        Really? Maybe this has more to do with the way economics is usually taught? I’m pretty smart and I don’t remember anything from my intro macro course in college. Everything I’ve since learned about economics has been gleaned from much more user-friendly descriptions read elsewhere (part of why I lean Austrian may simply be that I strongly prefer verbal description to math and graphs, though).

        But can’t most people understand things like “when more people want to buy something but the quantity of that thing doesn’t go up, the price will go up” and “Bill Gates may be better at everything than some of the people who work at his company, but that doesn’t mean he should spend his time doing their job for them, because his time is better spent elsewhere”? If you explain it in common sense terms and not a bunch of graphs, I mean.

        (I think the SSC audience is very disproportionately made up of that minority of the population which finds equations and graphs clarifying and illuminating rather than intimidating and boring).

        • alaska3636 says:

          @Onyomi
          Economics suffers from a pretension bias. Much of it is academic nonsense written for other academics, so they can cite each other and look/feel important.

          Basic economic concepts fall under the category of commonsense ways to think about exchange and decision-making, which is why the Austrian school is such a breath of fresh air.

          Another issue with the comments about economics here is the inability to consider these basic economic concepts in the context of everyday life. The Broken Window fallacy comes to mind, basic supply and demand, scarcity and desert island scenarios. If you can’t explain these concepts to “normies” than you don’t understand them well enough. We are faced with basic economics every single day.

          The scarcity of time and resources is the basis for survival…How hard is that to relate to?

    • BBA says:

      I did some digging, and New York State (where I currently live) has had a required half-year course in economics since at least the 1990s.

      Maryland (where I was for most of high school) has no economics requirement, but looking up my old school district there are optional courses in econ offered at some high schools.

      Are New Yorkers particularly better informed than Marylanders about how the economy works? I haven’t seen it.

    • Paul Goodman says:

      My highschool (Massachusetts suburb, circa 2009) had AP Econ as an elective but no CS classes.

  29. dndnrsn says:

    I have read that there are parts of Europe – I think Ireland is the classic example – where economic gains and improvements in standard of living were correlated with, and probably causative for, increases in IQ.

    What would be good, legitimate, relatively unbiased sources on this? I’m in that position of not being able to do more on my own because it’s so far out of my area of expertise that I don’t know who the respected authorities are.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are no good, legitimate, relatively unbiased sources on anything to do with IQ. The literature is an absolute mess. For some reason it gets a pass from those that are otherwise running around like chickens with their heads cut off about the dire state of social science research. Can’t imagine why that would be.

  30. NIP says:

    Long-time SSC lurker and denizen of a certain unnamed Mongolian throat-singing board here, taking this opportunity to try to engage in a little cultural exchange with you nerds for shits and giggles. Just don’t tell anyone I told you about it or the other anons will bully me, desu.

    See, I see you folks complaining a lot about tribalism in the comments, and am astounded that you haven’t discovered the latest and greatest way to safely and harmlessly channel people’s tribalistic impulses (and have a lot of stupid fun at the same time.) I am of course referring to the gentleman’s e-sport: virtual divegrass.

    I dunno how to markup the comments around here so here’s some raw links to get you up to speed on what I’m talking about:

    http://implyingrigged.info/wiki/Main_Page
    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/4chan-cup
    https://encyclopediadramatica.se/4chan_Cup

    The idea is, wherever you have a bunch of nerds discussing and arguing, you’re going to get factionalism, so why not have fun with it and divert the energy that would be put into shitflinging towards a big spectacular livestreamed virtual soccer event where everyone can hang out and safely meme and countersignal at each other in a safe and controlled environment? (Did I mention it’s also really fun?)

    The way it works is, you first poll your community to decide on the teams and players. On imageboards it’s easier to come up with teams since communities are clearly divided into boards, each of which has their own distinct culture and in-jokes, but I’m sure SSC is diverse enough to come up with a bunch of teams based around different topics that get discussed here – or any other delineation you can think of. As for players, in the 4cc each player is a specific meme, and I know for a fact that you guys have tons of them, even if you don’t normally think of them as such. (I can think of a bunch off the top of my head; “Rightly Guided Caliph” for /sscmeta/ captain when??) After that’s all settled, you get together a bunch of volunteers who are willing to do stuff like host streams, manage teams, create/compile art assets, do the actual modding of PES, etc. A lot of the fun is here, coming up with wacky kits, custom pitches, balls, anthems, goalhorns, player models, even ads; not to mention team strategies.

    Then, when everything is ready, you host the event and everyone spends a few comfy weekends cheering and jeering like idiots in the chat while watching virtual representations of their community’s culture compete in soccer. I’d like to know what Scott and the rest of you think of this idea, because I think you’d all have a blast. At the very least, it’d be interesting as an experiment, not only to see what you as a community can come up with to amuse yourselves, but also to see how it affects relations between commenters. Plus, it’s one more thing to discuss and sperg over.

    Anyway, just an idea from a bored anon.

    • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

      Do people actually play PES for the 4chan cup, or is it just simulated?

      • NIP says:

        The AI plays against itself using tactics sent in an export to whoever is streaming the game. However, the managers of both teams are allowed time-outs to change tactics and make substitutions, which are communicated to the streamer over skype or IRC. The level of tactical customization in PES is quite detailed, so this “live managing” style of play makes for very interesting games despite the fact that it’s effectively two AI teams just simulating a game.

        Part of the fun of virtual divegrass (as it’s called) is building and testing teams for months with community input and then watching that be augmented mid-game by the (hopefully) sound tactical sense of your manager mid-game. That, and watching a bunch of ones and zeroes recreate the feeling of IRL football fandom in a bunch of nerds.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Long-time SSC lurker and denizen of a certain unnamed Mongolian throat-singing board here

      For real, or is this another local euphemism, like ‘ants’ or ‘death eaters’ that I’m unfamiliar with? I’m a big fan, only fairly recently getting back into practising kargyraa myself – thanks Beeminder – (and the spelling gives me away as having discovered Tuvan music first – I still rate Albert Kuvezin as my favourite singer, though I admit he is not the most polished, or indeed a remotely central example). What was your entry point?

        • Winter Shaker says:

          Ah, okay. Well, that’s a little disappointing 🙂

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I still don’t get why there is a reference to throat singing (mis-located or not)?

          • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

            The actual activity is random.
            The strucutre of the meme is:
            [Some Country][Some acitivty] board

          • The pattern looked like it was, derived from “Chinese cartoons”, ” “, which just ended up with a euphemism fail due to the wide variety of interests represented among us.

            I, too, was confused when someone responded to the top-level comment with a reference to the 4chan cup, but that makes sense now.

          • Anon. says:

            The original joke was to conflate “anime” for “Chinese cartoons”. Additional humor is derived from increasingly absurd combinations of countries and activities (e.g. Kurdish underwater basket weaving), which ultimately still refers to Japanese animation.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And this [some country][some activity] board is a reference to 4chan? or a reference to Anime? or 4chan because they like to discuss Anime?

            Edit:
            Thanks, Whatever Happened to Anonymous.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            “[some country][some activity] board” means “anime imageboard”, which refers to 4chan, since that was its original purpose and a big part of the sitewide culture. It’s often meant to be derisive, so as to contextualize stuff like taking onself too seriously, like “nobody cares about your made up acomplishments that you’re posting anonymously to some anime imageboard”.

      • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

        Only on SSC.

        • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

          You’ve got to admit that the end result is pretty hilarous.

      • NIP says:

        >your entire reply and the ensuing discussion

        Farewell to my sides.

        And for the record, while it was just an imageboard-ism as the other commenters have pointed out, I do in fact enjoy listening to Tuvan throat-singing now and then, as do many of my anonymous compatriots.

    • SJMadeMeRight says:

      /pol/lack reporting in. The responses to >Mongolian throat-singing board, are killing me.

      I feel like a lot of the less insane posters on /pol/ could really benefit from/enjoy SSC but I would never post about it there because it would absolutely ruin this site.

      You shouldn’t admit that you visit a Bangladeshi hand-puppet board in polite society, hide your powerlevel!

      • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

        I feel like a lot of the less insane posters on /pol/ could really benefit from/enjoy SSC but I would never post about it there because it would absolutely ruin this site.

        I’ve seen it posted there pretty often (though I haven’t actually been there for several months), to generally good reception.

        I think the SSC alligned /pol/lacks are more active on the subreddit, though.

        You shouldn’t admit that you visit a Bangladeshi hand-puppet board in polite society, hide your powerlevel!

        He’s probably from /soc/. I swear to god, those attention whores…

      • NIP says:

        Sup famalam. I revealed my power level simply so that the fine commenters here would know that some anons are friendly, is all. I’m one of those kooks that think peace and diplomacy between sites is a worthwhile thing to strive for, and that every style of community and discussion has its worthwhile points. So, a faggot, I guess. Though posting this shit directly to reddit would have been a step too far even for me :^)

        >I feel like a lot of the less insane posters on /pol/ could really benefit from/enjoy SSC but I would never post about it there because it would absolutely ruin this site.

        If only the less insane anons from any board at all came over here, they would benefit a lot, and so would the SSC commentariat, imo. Though posting SSC links on /pol/ is just asking for trouble, and I’ve never done it, either.

        >He’s probably from /soc/. I swear to god, those attention whores…

        Say that shit to my face and not online, senpai, and see what happens! I’ll hook you right in the gabber, m8.

        …and I share citizenship with a bunch of different boards, actually. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m sad that no one is actually discussing memeball like I intended, and that instead we’ve diverged into the etymology of Malaysian cave-painting; but that’s what I get for posting on SSC, I guess. I’ll ask again: does anyone have any thoughts on starting a SSC Cup?

        • Lumifer says:

          does anyone have any thoughts on starting a SSC Cup?

          Gifts from Lesotho pearl-divers should be carefully examined before being accepted. Does this cup come with two girls?

          • NIP says:

            >Gifts from Lesotho pearl-divers should be carefully examined before being accepted

            You wound me. This meme is all yours friend, no strings attached. All you have to do is take it.

            If you don’t think it would be fun or worthwhile, here, watch this:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHBDJkYM6cg

            This is a recording of a game of this year’s Spring cup between two of the less-offensive boards, which also happens to be record-breaking in terms of goals and sheer excitement. It will give you a good handle on how fun competitive PES can be. Also, it’s a great example to show on SSC since it’s (mostly) SFW and the player roster of each team is more intelligible and less offensive to the average commenter here than usual.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ NIP

            Sadly, I have approximately zero interest in spectator sports. And while I’m surely a unique snowflake, I suspect that the SSC commentariat skews in the same direction.

            Even adjusting for that, in the absence of actual physical beer and actual physical yelling you might as well be watching Koreans play LoL.

          • NIP says:

            >Even adjusting for that, in the absence of actual physical beer and actual physical yelling you might as well be watching Koreans play LoL

            Are you implying that fans of the 4CC drink virtual beer and whisper encouragement at their screens during games? Also, comparing PES, which is just virtual football, and LoL is just apples to oranges. Everyone can appreciate football. Billions of fans worldwide can confirm it!

            At any if rate, if SSC did their own iteration of a virtual PES cup, it would no doubt have its own flavor and atmosphere that you’d find more compelling. Use your imagination! It’s much less of a “spectator sport” than you think, too. It takes a lot of cooperation from a lot of people to set up a cup properly, which is half the fun.

        • Anonymous says:

          I have less than no interest in joining your sub culture. From my perspective, the minor bleed over is bad enough as it is.

          • NIP says:

            Would you mind if I borrow your style of laconic shitposting, friend? Since this is a friendly cultural exchange, and all.

          • Anonymous says:

            “Shitposting” is an unlovely neologism. It is but one example of what I was talking about.

          • NIP says:

            It’s not a neologism, it’s what you’re doing right now.

            Where I come from, if an anon makes a post that contributes absolutely nothing to the topic at hand, he at least tries to be funny. You could learn a thing or two.

          • Lumifer says:

            “Shitposting” is an unlovely neologism

            You had a sheltered upbringing : -/

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @NIP – “does anyone have any thoughts on starting a SSC Cup?”

          if it’s anywhere near as amusing as that vid, I’d definately watch. Still, I think there are some intractable cultural barriers to overcome; Halfchan is fundamentally about goofing off and having fun, while the norm on SSC is polite discussion on usually serious topics.

          Posibly related, I’m reminded of this Death of Basketball article, where they filled the player pool with completely incompetent players, and then had the game simulate the next half-century or so of games. It’s a fascinating and hilarious read.

          • dndnrsn says:

            That article is incredibly funny. Games with built-in AI management and such are great for this reason.

          • NIP says:

            That article was pretty funny, though if anything, it seems to prove that it would take an unmitigated catastrophe in the human gene pool, repeated for many years in a row, to kill the NBA. It’s way different than the 4CC though. Even that spectacular game you witnessed was a huge outlier which literally made cup history, and was the result between two teams that were managed in a very serious fashion.

            As for cultural differences between SSC and 4chan, I guess I was just banking on the fact that a site full of STEM majors and unironic Rationalists couldn’t possibly be less autistic* than a bunch of chinese cartoon forum users who simulate soccer using memes as players. It’s no skin off my nose if you guys aren’t interested, though. I just wanted to share my love of ridiculous e-sport events.

            *(In the sense that imageboard users use the term, for “capable of taking enjoyment from really weird things”)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @NIP – “As for cultural differences between SSC and 4chan, I guess I was just banking on the fact that a site full of STEM majors and unironic Rationalists couldn’t possibly be less autistic* than a bunch of chinese cartoon forum users who simulate soccer using memes as players”

            I’ve seen a lot of weird discussions here, but nothing on the order of rolling for anal circumference.

            Seriously though, a soccer game staring memes, on a pitch ringed by yaoi advertisements and a million green, faceless anons, has been the highlight of my day.

          • Nornagest says:

            An SSC Let’s Play of a FATAL session would be hilarious.

          • NIP says:

            Seriously though, a soccer game staring memes, on a pitch ringed by yaoi advertisements and a million green, faceless anons, has been the highlight of my day.

            If you liked that stuff, fampai, a ton of games have been recorded on youtube for your viewing pleasure; and the 4chan Summer Cup is coming up next month, starting on the weekend of the 5th of August and continuing through that month. It will be streamed on Twitch. I invite you and all of SSC to watch it if you’re interested. /mlp/ could always use more fans ^:)

            Here’s a comparitively low-scoring but hype match that shows off the best combination of pre-game production value, commentating, blender work, etc. that define a good virtual PES tournament:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auYXQH1hR_w

          • I don’t follow basketball at all, but that article was one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages.

          • Iceman says:

            That match between /mlp/ and /wg/ has totally peaked my interest in this new e-sport. I also enjoyed this match against /g/.

            (But then of course, I would, wouldn’t I? Giddy up, Giddy up…)

            Thanks for sharing this. I’ve got quite a laugh out of some of these matches.

          • FacelessCraven says: