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Links 7/16: Grad, Div, and URL

I’ve previously disagreed with the restrictions on suboxone prescribing. Now the Obama administration has relaxed some of those restrictions, almost tripling the number of suboxone patients doctors can treat from 100 to 275.

Very big (n = 15,000) Romanian study on sex differences in intelligence finds not only no mean difference, but no difference in variance.

Operation Cherry Blossoms At Night was an Imperial Japanese plan to release biological warfare agents in Southern California during World War II. There were actually lots of these plans, but a series of coincidences and setbacks prevented any of them from getting off the ground. Also, I feel like the name of that operation is another example of World War II’s hamhanded writing.

A previously unknown kind of low-grade inflammation might explain why anti-inflammatories like aspirin help prevent cancer. This is important because there are a lot of things which seem vaguely inflammatory but don’t work off the normal inflammatory systems we know about and the discovery of new forms of inflammation offers a lot of promise for understanding these.

It’s hard to lower my faith in humanity after – well, after 2016 – but the Twitter comments on this @dril tweet about the Keebler Elves might have managed. Warning: kind of high-context.

A political science journal experiments with triple-blind studies – ie those where peer reviewers judge the methodology before knowing the results and finds that it “encourages much greater attention to theory and research design, but raises thorny problems about how to anticipate and interpret null findings.”

The Paradox Of Disclosure – when surgeons disclose to their patients that their professional incentives may bias their recommendation to pursue surgery, this makes patients more likely to accept those recommendations. Linking to the Marginal Revolution commentary rather than the original for the spectacular pun at the end.

The National Holocaust Museum and Auschwitz Museum would like to remind you that it is insensitive to catch Pokemon on the premises.

The Big Question In Global Education is apparently why Vietnam breaks the trend of test scores tracking national development levels – Vietnamese students outperform their relatively weak economy. But this seems pretty easy to explain if we take a Hive Mind style approach where national intelligence levels determine national economic development levels, then adjust for the fact that Vietnam has been communist for a long time and so will economically underperform its IQ. China probably would have been the same kind of outlier twenty years ago.

Psychiatrist and psychodynamic therapist Nat Kuhn reviews my review of Unlearn Your Pain.

First evidence that genetically engineered mosquitoes can decrease disease from an experiment in Brazil where they helped reduce dengue fever > 90%.

How Not To Name Your Child: Five Golden Rules by Phoenicia Hebebe Dobson-Mouawad. I keep trying to convince my friends that giving your child a “unique” “meaningful” name might seem cool today, but that the kid may not share your aesthetics and will have to live with the results for the rest of their lives (or until they’re old enough to pay legal fees).

Reddit: one of Republican VP candidate Mike Pence’s many interesting characteristics is that his daughter has no reflection in mirrors.

Kentucky counties that ban alcohol see increased methamphetamine use, possible substitution effect.

Putting this one in the “no long-term effect of education” folder – whether you took high school courses in a subject has minimal effect on your grade in college courses on the same subject.

A Mormon multimillionaire wants to build a utopian planned city based on a sketch of Joseph Smith’s in the middle of Vermont.

Ethnic groups in Africa seem to have done about as well regardless of which side of artificial national borders they were on, suggesting that it’s ethnicity-specific factors rather than national institutionals which contributes more to success in Africa.

A randomized controlled trial in The Lancet finds that behavioral activation therapy is as good as cognitive behavioral therapy for depression, even though it’s a simpler subset of the latter. Some discussion on Reddit, including worries that it might solve the immediate issue but not give people the skills they need for later.

The deepest cave in the world, in Abkhazia, goes over a mile below the surface.

For some sort of tribal reason the hard left really hates the musical “Hamilton”. Also on the subject of the left being anthropologically interesting: Joan Walsh Is Not A Feminist.

David Chapman continues his long effort to convince us that there is a thing called meta-rationality and that it is very important.

Barack Obama’s half-brother will be voting for Donald Trump. Key quote: “Obama believes strongly in the institution of marriage — so strongly that he has at least three current wives, although press reports have put the number as high as 12.”

Racial dot map of the United States.

Population aging will decrease annual economic growth rates 1.2 percentage points this decade – note that this implies our economy is otherwise much stronger than we would think by comparing it to past years’ statistics. I’ve lost the study now, but I also remember seeing people claim that almost all of Japan’s recent stagnation is due to an aging population rather than more purely economic factors.

Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump

Related: Anonymous Mugwump does the literature review on immigration and open borders that so many of you have been wanting. Conclusion: economic effects of immigration relatively unequivocally good, main possible problem is that more open immigration decreases remittances that immigrants send to their home country.

Weird Sun Twitter now has a blog.

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933 Responses to Links 7/16: Grad, Div, and URL

  1. Kenny says:

    Scott, can you please switch a commenting system with threads that can be collapsed?

  2. AnonAdieuGoodnight says:

    With regard to this:

    David Chapman continues his long effort to convince us that there is a thing called meta-rationality and that it is very important.

    Chapman writes:

    What makes Bongard problems interesting, and in some cases very difficult, is that there is no explicit limitation to what sorts of rules there may be. However, in a well-formed Bongard problem, there should only be one reasonable rule.

    This is complete nonsense. Every Bongard problem has infinitely many “rules” that apply to it. In Chapman’s own example labeled a “harder one,” he states the solution as:

    “One circle passes through the center of the other one”

    To put that in formal mathematical terms:

    For every x,y [Center(x) in y] implies Right(x,y).

    Obviously, you can also apply the rule “no circles on the left are disjoint,” which has this formulation:

    For every x,y Disjoint(x,y) implies Right(x,y).

    This is a simpler rule, since “Disjoint” is a much, much simpler predicate than “Center.” I can express “disjoint” using only set theory, where “center” can only be defined in a measure space and not even all measure spaces have obviously meaningful notions of “center.” Consider finding the “center” of an arbitrary continuous subset of the Cantor Set, e.g., keeping in mind that the “center” must actually be in the set. Is it obvious that such a thing always exists? The “disjoint” solution is also satisfied by a larger number of diagrams on both sides, making it a simpler rule that partitions more completely.

    I could have just as easily chosen a more complicated rule like, “On the right hand side, if two circles touch, the one whose center is farther right must be larger.” This rule seems no more arbitrary than either of the above. What characteristic makes it “wrong” for this problem, exactly?

    Presumably, the point of a Bongard problem is to find the simplest rule, but what constitutes “simplest” is never stated. Is it the rule with the lowest Kolmogorov complexity? Perhaps the rule that captures the most difference? Perhaps the rule that captures the least difference? Is it the simplest rule when expressed in the formal language of topology? Geometry? Analysis? As noted above, the “correct answer” given by Chapman was not simplest in any of these regards. One is forced to wonder why it was “correct” at all.

    Bongard problems also tend to have figures that could go on both sides when the “answer” rule is being enforced. This is cute, but makes rule-making ambiguous and the “correct” answer much more arbitrary. It’s notable that in the mathematics of partitions, you are not allowed to do this. A partition function must choose a distinct destination for every point. A partition function can partition into {left, right, unclassified} but it cannot partition into {left, right, either} without some additional encoding/decoding step.

    At the end of the day, Bongard problems strike me as being fun primarily because they can be solved any way you want. It’s entertaining to come up with ever more baroque ways of partitioning the sets. Its fun to compare with friends to see who can come up with the most bizarre rule that everyone can still instantly apply correctly.

    But, using these in IQ tests has always seemed like a total disaster to me. If you imagine an IQ gradient where the smarter you are, the better you’ll find simple, elegant interpretations of arbitrary diagrams, then a Bongard problem can never really test anyone smarter than the question’s author. After all, what looks “correct” to a 125 IQ test author could be entirely different from what looks “correct” to a 160 IQ test taker.

    That’s not a characteristic you want in your IQ test.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      I think you may have misunderstood, at least that particular puzzle. The point of these puzzles is to come up with a rule that applies to each instance on the left but no instances on the right (or sometimes, an analogous but different rule that applies to each instance on the right). The rule “no circles on the left are disjoint” does characterize each of the six instances on the left, but only if you take “circle” to include its interior. But its negation obviously does not characterize each of the six instances on the right — in fact, by the definition of circle you must be using, only one of the six actually fails the test!

      It sounds like you’re coming up with a rule that distinguishes one complete set of six images from the other complete set of six images.

      Asking for a definition of “simplest” seems pedantic. If the puzzle is a good one, discovering (or being told) the answer should result in an Aha moment, in which it’s obvious that’s the only reasonable answer. If it does not, then it wasn’t a good puzzle. C’est la vie.

      I totally agree that these are problematic for IQ tests, since like lots of puzzles you get better at them with practice. (Of course, that’s true of using your intelligence for almost anything else as well.)

  3. Rob says:

    A mate of mine who’s a doctor was claiming recently that methadone was just as effective or more so than suboxone, and it was just puritanism that made american doctors favor subox because it has less euphoric effects. Do you agree or disagree with this sentiment?

    • Addict says:

      Addict here.

      Bullshit. The immense benefit of suboxone, the reason we use it, is its outrageously high mu-opioid binding affinity, many orders of magnitude higher than any other opioid. The practical consequences of this are complex. If, a couple hours after a shot of heroin, an addict does another shot, the new heroin will flood the brain. The amount of euphoria he feels will be directly proportional to the number of unagonized mu-opioid receptors, but the old heroin will not “fight” the new heroin for those receptors. Instead, it’s all down to the chance collision of molecules.

      Buprenorphine is not like that. Whereas full mu-opioid agonists hit all 4 recepticles inside a mu-opioid receptor, buprenorphine is a partial agonist and only activates 3 sites. This is why its euphoric effect is nonexistent in addicts. But that’s not the main benefit. The main benefit is that in only having to satisfy 3, instead of 4, physical constraints, the molecule is much leaner, less cumbersome, and this is manifest in its binding affinity. When it activates a receptor, it *stays there*. It actively fights any new opioids which come along, for the right to activate this particular receptor, and *wins* because of its favorable geometry.

      This means that after using buprenorphine, an addict will feel absolutely no effect from other opiates for quite some time, proportionate to the amount of bupe left in his system.

      I am on suboxone myself. If I wished to use heroin, I would have to *wait through the withdrawal* first. The longet I waited, the more of an effect the heroin would have, but even a couple days isn’t long enough to get anywhere near the full effect. Waiting through withdrawal for a delayed gratification is *explicitly the very thing which addicts cannot do*. Buprenorphine is genius in that it makes relapse basically impossible, not without more willpower than the given addict has already been proven to have in being an addict in the first place.

      Methadone is just an opiate. Just like heroin or hydromorphone or oxy. It is the longest-lasting opiate, which makes it suited to lifestyle changes, but it has no special features. An addict on methadone is not kept from relapse by a clever biochemical solution. Instead, he is drug tested, repeatedly and often, with the threat of no more ‘done if he fails. Eventually, after a couple months, the law arbitrarily decrees him trustworthy and stops testing him. At that point he usually goes back to heroin, except now he can combine it with methadone. One with duration but no intensity, the other intensity but no duration: it is a beloved combination in the scene, and as common as dirt.

  4. Outis says:

    I’m going to try and participate in the comment section less. There are just too many comments on every thread nowadays, and it takes a lot of time to go through them. And when I look back, it doesn’t seem like that was the best use of that time.

    There are definitely worthwhile things that get posted in these comments, but they are lost in the sea of words. I wish we had a voting system for comments after all, so I could just zero in on the ones the community has identified as most interesting. And if not that, some other way of finding good comments. Scott does promote one or two comments in the link post most weeks, but that’s not enough.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      Having a similar problem. Contemplating asking for a ban.

    • Anatoly says:

      If someone were to post a detailed summary of each open thread/link thread discussion, with links to the interesting subthreads and quotes from the best comments, that would be great and I would find it valuable. I briefly contemplated trying to do it myself, but realized I couldn’t possibly afford the time.

    • SM says:

      That’s why I almost never comment. I consider doing it and then I look at 9000 other comments and no comprehensible system of keeping track of it and I think – is my comment worth making it worse? Of course no.
      Yes, I know this comment should not be posted using the same logic but I took extra effort to make an exception in this case. Probably not worth it too.

    • LPSP says:

      Definitely disagree. Voting systems promote groupthink and punish dissent. I like the fact that difficult or unpleasant commentariat is visible; it reminds us that SSC is alive. I don’t want it to be Reddit.

      That said, I can agree that threads on posts can be difficult to manage. I can accept that as a price of entry – if you want to be involved in discussing Scott’s work and favoured topics, you have to be persistent/skilled enough to navigate massive walls of colour-coded text. Proper indentation to create fleshed out reply chains would help; I’d favour a system similar to 4chan X, where each post includes links to all its replies, and clicking that link indents the reply into the post, which includes links to its replies so they can be indented, and so on.

      Sometimes I wonder if SSC should have a joint Reddit/Forum/Chan. A thread made there spawns a supply chain in all three formats, so everyone can have their cake.

  5. pgbh says:

    what is weird sun twitter? is there supposed to be a point?

  6. Jill says:

    Mark, do you really think this kind of sarcasm is healthy? Do you not see it as impeding communication between tribes? People who attempt communication between tribes, as I do, are not usually going to be perfect at it. But even for those who are, this is the kind of sarcasm they face constantly.

    Just making the attempt at inter-tribal communication, one gets bashed consistently. I am glad there are some very nice folks here too, in addition to the bashers like you.

    Does it really make you feel good to be in a country where it’s so very rare for people of different political views to be able to put their heads and hearts together and work toward common goals for the good of the country?

    I don’t know if this is your reason. But I do know that there’s a big adrenalin rush and a feeling of superiority that many people get from insulting others. I guess it does feel good. But adrenalin addiction is dysfunctional, just like other addictions. In this case, because it impedes inter-tribal communication in the extreme.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      @Jill:
      I have been as consistent a critic of Mark’s posting style as you will find here. I think there is a great deal of merit in your post.

      I am also definitely on the left side of the US political spectrum, and I have spent a great deal of time on these boards arguing for and attempting to correct misunderstandings of various left wing positions.

      I would ask you to consider, though, that at least some of the bashing that you get is because you frequently post things that are quite snide about right-wing positions. I think you may realize this and are attempting to moderate, but I haven’t seen you acknowledge it.

      Anyway, mostly food for thought.

      • Jill says:

        HBC, thanks for your comments. I will consider them, and try not to be snide– although your view of snide and mine may differ. I don’t want to be as rude here as some folks have been to me– Well, I am actually not even capable of that. But I don’t want to be rude at all.

  7. Pewter says:

    Is there a contingent of rationalists at Burning Man? I’m going for the first time this year, and it would be cool to have some enhanced discussion with like minded people while there.

    • Nornagest says:

      Short answer is yes, but you picked a bad year. Many of my rationalist contacts at Burning Man aren’t going this year (one of the main rationalist-adjacent camps dissolved this year, and tickets have been unusually hard to come by), and the rest are split across half a dozen or so camps.

      • Outis says:

        What’s the draw of Burning Man?

        • The Nybbler says:

          The air rushing in to replace the rising combustion gases from the big fiery scarecrow?

        • Nornagest says:

          Ask three Burners that and you’ll get five answers.

          For me, I think the main point is that the people there are selected for having their shit together enough to survive, enjoy themselves, and hopefully contribute in a fantastically hostile environment for a week, so you get dynamics and a level of trust that aren’t possible at your standard-issue big party. But that’s just me.

  8. eyeballfrog says:

    Wait, what’s going on in that Pence picture? If it’s shopped, I can’t tell by the pixels.

    • Pewter says:

      Dude’s just got a big head that’s blocking the view of his daughter in the mirror.

  9. Anatoly says:

    Can you please knock it off? The inherent snideness of this sort of comment is very unpleasant.

  10. Cerebral Paul Z. says:

    Are entire subthreads dedicated to trashing an individual commenter going to be a thing from now on? I’ve seen at least three aimed at this one so far.

    • herbert herbertson says:

      It’s fucked up that a group of people that is united around nothing so much as it is united around opposition to ideologically-based Mean-Girls-style group-on-individual bullying can nonetheless practice it under the right circumstances.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Except that it looks like the responses are pushing back against Mark’s comment.

      • Jill says:

        Exactly.

        It is indeed effed up. To be fair, though, this is very typical of human beings. People look at a behavior in an outgroup and are very sure it’s awful and wrong. But if they do the same thing exactly themselves, they usually do not even realize it.

  11. Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

    Mark Atwood says: “Keep talking, @ill. Nothing I could ever write could ever be as effective or as persuasive as what you are writing, to demonstrate the correctness, or the goodwill, or the validity, or the charity of your worldview.”

    For me at least, Mark’s observation receives its greatest value when read literally and accepted at face value. The inherent charity of Jill’s worldview is particularly refreshing (to me), as is Jill’s general politeness.

    As Rush says, “ditto”. Thank you Jill and thank you Mark! 🙂

  12. John says:

    For some reason, I tend to subconsciously believe that Jill is Jill Stein, the presidential candidate of the Green Party.

  13. Seth says:

    And what you are writing is another demonstration of how the SSC commentariat swims right. That is, it takes much more work to go against the modal view, so that tends to expand and predominate over time.

  14. utilitarian troll says:

    I am also pro Jill. I think a simple thought experiment for the Jill haters is to ask if they would tolerate a right wing commenter whose arguments and thoughtfulness were of comparable quality. My sense is that they would and are tolerating such commenters.

    Debating politely in a community full of people you disagree with=work. Debating politely in a community full of people you agree with=fun. Jill is the one doing the work in coming to us; thus, we should reward her for her good efforts.

    Any right winger who’s feeling holier-than-Jill, look through left leaning blogs until you find three that are reasonably thoughtful, then leave 20 polite comments on each of them, then write a five paragraph essay about what you learned.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      @Mark Atwood – Unkind.

      @Utilitarian Troll – not… the greatest handle choice in this particular context, but tentatively agree.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @Faceless Craven:
        This is Mark’s default comment.

        I’m not even snarking. It’s a theme he returns to frequently. It is what got him banned.

    • John Schilling says:

      I think a simple thought experiment for the Jill haters is to ask if they would tolerate a right wing commenter whose arguments and thoughtfulness were of comparable quality. My sense is that they would and are tolerating such commenters.

      Who, specifically, are the right-wing commenters you think are receiving such tolerance?

      I remember the somewhat unseemly discussions when Jill first showed up, about whether “we” should let her stay around (as if it were our choice). I recall that the key argument for tolerance, on both sides, was that she stood for an underrepresented point of view here, and that if she stuck around she would learn to do so better. With the implication, I think, that “better” includes “less often than every possible opportunity”.

      This hasn’t happened, and I think that much of the present pushback is because that hasn’t happened. If there were a poster on the right who were responsible for more than 7% of the posts in this thread, most of them cheap shots or standard right-wing dogma out of e.g. Glenn Beck, I’m pretty sure you’d be seeing pushback from regular commenters on the left and right. But you can’t expect the same response to anonymous sniping, or to a named regular like e.g. Mark who occasionally says something unkind.

      • Anonymous says:

        hlynkacg, Mark Atwood

        Probably others my mind has blanked out

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          Oh, come on, the only one that has that level of one-note vitriolic screed is MA, and his comments are extremely sparse and almost always called out. No offense to Jill, who I’m sure is a wonderful person, but the idea that she’s not an uniquely annoying commenter seems like a case of golden mean fallacy (I think that’s the one), since everyone is worried that the comment section is going too far onto the right, bad behavior is tolerated in the name of “correcting for bias”.

          For whatever it’s worth, I think calls for a ban are excessive, and I don’t quite buy the troll theory, but let’s not pretend the only reason people find Jill annoying is because she disagrees with them.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          Well. I’m sure whoever posted that is a tool.

        • Anonymous says:

          Don’t forget Mary.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          OK, I’ll give you Mary, but M&M combine for a grand total of 4 posts in this thread, while Shill has over 70, I mean, at least some have to do with the amount of responses, but it’s well above the saturation threshold.

      • Jill says:

        Consider that maybe your idea of how I could stand for my point of view “better” than I am doing now, is one by which I would not irritate you at all, where I would be as nice as most liberals are to Right Wingers. But that is not communication. That is passive submission. Inter-tribal communication that
        is totally comfortable for either side is not communication at all.

        So far I can tolerate the pain of all the insults directed at me here. I just barely can. I use several methods of emotional release that I have posted here in the past, in order to release the stress and distress of dealing with the reactions to my posts here.

        If I can find ways to tolerate all that, then you Right Wingers can find some ways to deal with whatever little discomfort my expression of my views causes for you, on a board where you are very very much in the majority.

    • Civilis says:

      I will come out as pro-Jill, despite disagreeing with her on nearly everything. Almost everyone here comes across to me as some flavor of gray-tribe, and having someone making a blue tribe argument is useful. I tend to be reflexively devil’s advocate, because I like a good debate, and this is one of the few sites where I can do that from the red-tribe conservative side, and I respect seeing that from the blue-tribe liberal side. In most other sites I frequent, I find myself comparatively representing a bluish-gray tribe hybrid unless there is a prolific troll commenter I can face off with.

      I’ve read a few things by Jill that I would agree with completely except that buried in the ten paragraphs or so there is always one paragraph of Republican or conservative hatred that seems to be inserted almost as a subconscious imperative. Often, this paragraph contradicts what she just argued if looked at from a red-tribe perspective, and seeing this forces me to look at the arguments I’m making from the blue tribe perspective.

      Mark does have a point that this often causes people not to read her, and I often have to fight the instinct to skip over her comments, though perhaps it could have been presented in a more kind manner.

      • Jill says:

        I would appreciate it if you would let me know exactly what statements I am making that you consider to be GOP or Red Tribe hatred. I am not sure what you mean.

        • Civilis says:

          Perhaps it’s more of a ‘condescending pity’ or ‘loathing’ than true hatred, although it’s hard to tell the difference at times. Hatred probably wasn’t a good word choice. I certainly can’t prove you have any malicious wishes, which is a good standard for accusing someone of hatred towards a group of people.

          The example I was thinking of when I posted this is from the ‘How The West Was Won’ thread.
          Jill says:
          July 26, 2016 at 5:54 pm
          [Snip]
          White Christian fundamentalist Right Wingers are a severe and powerful threat to those of us who believe in science and in human caused climate change, to LGBTQ people, and to many other groups of people.
          [Snip]

          The rest of that comment seemed perfectly neutral, aside from a place where you used the ‘Christian Right fundamentalists’ as an example, and even that I can accept because it doesn’t rule out the exact same wording applying to someone on the left and doesn’t seem to have anything which strikes me as being so outside rational thought.

          Science denial has been covered to death, both here and elsewhere, but seeing accusations of it that don’t clearly indicate that this is something both sides can credibly be accused of takes me right out from considering anything else the speaker has to say. Usually, if I see something like this, I automatically drop into arguing the other side, and I have to fight my instincts not to throw in all the things the left can be accused of that would lend credence to the argument that it is the left denies science, just on general principles.

    • Jill says:

      Thank you, Utilitarian Troll. You are a kind and reflective person, and I appreciate those qualities in you.

      You are not kidding that “Debating politely in a community full of people you disagree with=work. ” And it’s also painful.

      Thanks you for suggesting the thought experiment and the reading of left leaning blogs experiment. I know that very few, if any, people will do them. But it’s worth putting forth nevertheless.

  15. Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

    The Leidenfrost Effect has long been known to provide near-zero friction at fluid-solid interfaces. Building on recent remarkable advances in quantum chemistry and water thermodynamics, southern California surfers in recent weeks have begun to apply hyperhydrophobic monolayers to their wetsuits; this enables radically new forms of wave-surfing that are strangely mesmerizing.

    This is another 21st century example of fundamental advances in mathematics and physics yielding unanticipated capacities. 😉

    • Nornagest says:

      I’m about 80% sure this is, ah, “digitally enhanced”. The biomechanics just don’t look right to me — too close to regular surfing, when there should be at least some difference, in balance at least. And in some shots their feet seem to be riding a couple inches above the wave and kicking up no wake.

      Cool if true, though. And whether it’s true or not, thanks for the link, John; this is the kind of post I’d like to see more of in links threads.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        …if it’s the suit that lets them do this, why are a bunch of them doing it barefoot, with no part of the suit in contact with the water?

        Seconding for skepticism about digital enhancement. The way they move in some of the shots looks really weird.

        The vid was really neat, though.

        • anonymous says:

          As someone who has seen any surfing on video previously, that vid is clearly the result of photoshopping the surfboards out of the frame.

  16. Jill says:

    I don’t know what the deal is with SJW’s here. I had to look it up, as I think most other progressives would have to, too. It seems to be something that people in very expensive colleges do, or that people in somewhere like San Francisco do. I guess if you’re Republican, maybe it bothers you a lot. But Dems mostly don’t even know about it. Just because a movement bothers one tribe a lot doesn’t mean that most people in the tribe that that movement is way way out on the fringes of, knows anything about that movement.

    I am learning a lot about all kinds of bizarre social movements here like SJW, MRA, HBD, PUA etc. But I sure don’t hear about them much elsewhere.

    • Rowan says:

      I think the fraction of SSC’s commentariat that goes or went to very expensive colleges, or lives in San Francisco or somewhere like that, is massively disproportionate, even if maybe it’s not actually a majority. I certainly think they outnumber the Republicans here, unless you have a very broad definition of “Republican”.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Yeah, so, this is why I’ve made a point of trying to supply background information on occasion. Because it’s evident you have a pretty different background from most of the readership here…

    • Sandy says:

      People in very expensive colleges have an outsize influence on the rest of society.

      It depends on what your definition of “social justice warrior” is. If it’s a college student screaming at a dorm administrator about how much her soul bleeds because he said culturally-themed Halloween costumes are no big deal, then yes, I’m inclined to believe that these people are twits who should be ignored.

      But take one major plank of the campus social justice movement: rape culture. Campus social justice warriors have spent years pushing faulty statistics that argue the typical American college is no safer for women than a Congo war zone. Even RAINN does not believe in the rape culture narrative. The authors of these statistics have themselves said they are not nationally representative, but the rape culture narrative has still been so well enforced that these statistics have been cited by the President of United States. Emma Sulkowicz, Columbia’s “Mattress Girl”, claimed she was raped by another student. This student was investigated by both the university and the NYPD and cleared of reasonable suspicion. Sulkowicz then decided to walk around campus carrying the mattress that she was allegedly raped on, as part of an art class assignment. Some called this bullying, but it attracted so much attention and support that Sulkowicz was invited to speak alongside Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, praised by art critics from major magazines and newspapers, praised by Hillary Clinton at the DNC Women’s Forum, invited to the 2015 State of the Union address, and given awards from the National Organization for Women. The powers-that-be decided to make her the face of America’s rampant campus rape epidemic, in the same year that the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that the rate of sexual assault on campus is just 6.1 per 1,000 and if anything, women are safer on campus than they are anywhere else.

      But nonetheless, this campus rape epidemic is such a dire problem that Oscar-nominated documentaries have been made about it, President Obama has created a task force to stop it, and Joe Biden is scheduled to appear on Law & Order: SVU to give a solemn monologue about it.

      Can this still be called a fringe movement if it achieves all this?

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      It’s a prestigious college, Internet (mostly Twitter and popular, yet not ubiquitous sites like Reddit and Tumblr) and Commiefornia thing, at least in the US.

      If you’re not around any of those, you might not have noticed them

    • Anonanon says:

      http://www.twincities.com/2016/06/21/st-paul-school-board-valeria-silvas-firing-tonight/

      Or they’re running your children’s school district into the ground, and forcing everyone who complains about violence and disruption to repent for their White Privilege.

      Why do people keep trying to pretend this is just “a tumblr thing”?

      • Nornagest says:

        To discredit the concern, obviously.

        Boils down to saying “the stuff I’m worried about is real and pervasive and getting real people hurt; the stuff you’re worried about only exists in the minds of a few (out-of-touch elites|delusional rabble-rousers) that no one actually pays attention to, except of course for gullible idiots like you”.

        The fun thing about this charge is that you can actually believe it without having to deal with any cognitive dissonance, if it’s true in the context of your social circle. And the really fun thing is that if you live in the right bubble, you can convince yourself that a group of any size is the real and pervasive one. Happens on the right, too.

        • Jill says:

          Certainly there must be some kinds of statistics or counts or reasonable estimates of how many social justice warriors actually exist in the U.S.?

          • Nornagest says:

            If there is, I have no idea where I’d find it, and I’d be careful about trusting it if I did. You can’t just ask people if they identify as SJWs, because it’s a pejorative term (some identify with it in a reclamatory kind of way, but they’re a minority), and you can’t ask people “do you like social justice?” for the same reasons that asking “do you believe in the radical idea that men and women should be equal” doesn’t give you an accurate count of feminists.

            You could start by looking at the readership of SJ-aligned sites like, say, Jezebel, but there are big problems with this approach: not everyone who reads the site agrees with the full program (not even all Jezebel writers can be called SJWs by the standards of anyone less crazy than /pol/); it’s going to be hard to get an estimate of the overlap between sites; and a lot of online SJ propagates over platforms like Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook where it’s inherently hard to get a headcount. And there are still a few who don’t use any of the online resources, although fewer now than when I went to college.

            For whatever it’s worth, I do know a good number of SJWs — some of whom call themselves that — personally.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Jill

            To use one of their techniques. we might seach for “I’m not a SJW, but”.

          • Jill says:

            Nornagest, do you live in the San Fran area? Or are you finding such folks in another region?

          • Nornagest says:

            Many of the people I mentioned live in the Bay Area. But I’ve also met them in Seattle, Reno, Portland, and Boston, that I recall off the top of my head. And one’s a recent British immigrant — I’ve never asked him where from, and I’m not so good at spotting British accents, but I’d guess London.

            It does seem to be mainly an urban phenomenon.

          • Jill says:

            Interesting about the regions. Thanks.

        • LCL says:

          Public interest and media coverage form a feedback cycle that makes certain topics hugely nationally salient all out proportion to their actual incidence or consequence. Scott did a nice analysis of what kind of factors cause a topic to catch fire like that. SJW activist demands, and their attempts to enforce said demands, are definitely such a topic.

          Because of this phenomenon and salience bias, we should expect that people will overestimate the incidence and consequence of problems in contentious hot-topic areas. Combine with tribal-worldview-affirmation potential, and it would be extremely surprising if people weren’t constantly overestimating the importance of this type of story.

          In my view systematically dismissing such concerns is well-justified, extremely useful if it can be done effectively (unlikely), and represents an opportunity to apply rationality to the benefit of society. So yes, the aggressive SJW activist problem is mostly just a tumblr thing, and should be gotten over.

          The challenge, of course, is to be equally dismissive of such topics from both tribes.

          On that note I’ll add that recently publicized police shootings of black people are barely a statistical blip in a nation of 300+ million, should not be taken to demonstrate anything remotely generalizable about the direction or state of race relations, the police, or societal fairness, and should be gotten over.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Police shootings are relatively rare, in that they only kill a few hundred a year (regardless of race), but police abuse, brutality, and corruption are far more widespread than just the incidents that lead to actual murder. The shootings are just a more effective tool to publicize the problem; the local news doesn’t come out with cameras for “this cop lied about me rolling through a stop, then spent three hours calling the drug dogs and tearing my car apart.”

            The visibility of both problems is heavily dependent on what community you’re in. Live in a poor neighborhood, you’ll have bad interactions with police all the time. Spend a lot of time on tumblr, twitter, reddit, etc, and you’re likely to have bad interactions with SJWs. I suspect SSC readers tend to spend a lot of time online, and hence overestimate how much influence the SJ extremists have outside of a few unfortunate places, e.g. college campuses, gaming, tech, etc.

            But in those places, it is a nightmare. I’m real glad not to be in college anymore.

          • Silva says:

            To Zombielicious: yeah, SJWs are powerless everywhere except every single square meter/megabyte of this planet I can even pretend to care about. Yay.

            Do note that this can be seen in reverse: the SJW-free places are … worse. Nothing I want to exist goes on there.

          • Exit Stage Right says:

            @Zombielicious

            If a small movement has massive influence on college campuses, it stands an excellent chance of becoming mainstream. Its memes are spreading through the young, who will eventually become the ruling class.

            Our most prestigious and well respected institutions are our universities, full stop. Nobody else comes close to Harvard in terms of reputation and social influence. So if SJ extremism is prominent there it’s a big reason to worry if you happen to dislike SJ extremism.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            If a small movement has massive influence on college campuses, it stands an excellent chance of becoming mainstream. Its memes are spreading through the young, who will eventually become the ruling class.

            Yeah, exactly. Saying “It’s alright, only a few college campuses are affected, 99% of the country is SJW-free” strikes me as a bit like saying “It’s alright, only the spring is contaminated, 99% of the river is toxin-free.”

          • Anonymous says:

            Pacifists had massive influence on college campus 40 years ago. We are as warlike as ever.

            Communists had massive influence on college campuses 60 years ago. We have managed to avoid having a communist revolution. In fact, communism is a moribund philosophy at this point.

            So much for that theory.

          • Sandy says:

            Just how massive was the influence of Communism on campuses 60 years ago? According to Wikipedia, by the mid-1950’s the Communist Party only had 5000 members left and 30% of those were FBI informants. I’m not sure how many students (or people of any kind) wanted to join the Communist Party anyway given that the CPUSA went around talking about how going to war against the Nazis was pure bourgeois imperialism, a tune they only changed after Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

          • Sandy says:

            Well, you’re saying the fact that we haven’t had a communist revolution yet despite the once massive popularity of communism on campuses is proof against the theory that campuses are meme factories with great sway over the culture. What I want to know is: why do you believe communism was massively popular on campuses?

          • Anonymous says:

            It was. Just earlier than I had said.

            Go back and read more Wikipedia.

          • Sandy says:

            Ok, even earlier, why do you believe it was so popular?

          • Anonymous says:

            It was. I just misremembered when. The perils of not outsourcing your brain to just in time googling. That’ll learn me.

            Also pacifism.

            I guess the answer to my earlier question was deliberate then, huh?

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Communists had massive influence on college campuses 60 years ago. We have managed to avoid having a communist revolution. In fact, communism is a moribund philosophy at this point.

            America was at not-quite-war with the biggest symbol of communism at the time, it was very hard for the ideas to heavily permeate with the general population, and therefore politics. I’d like to think that the American national identity is too inherently pro-freedom for the worst aspects of SJ to take root there, but I’m not sure. My country is, sadly, not very pro-freedom, and when SJ started featuring prominently in the party which had been governing for 12 year, I had genuine concerns that it’d start becoming a powerful political tool.

            Interestingly enough, SJ discourse borrows a lot from marxism, and you’ll see the most extreme ones identify as communists… I think that might be more of an internet thing than a college thing, though.

          • Sandy says:

            It was. I just misremembered when. The perils of not outsourcing your brain to just in time googling. That’ll learn me.

            Also pacifism.

            I guess the answer to my earlier question was deliberate then, huh?

            Again, you’re just confidently insisting that this is true without providing any reason to believe it. I’m asking you for the reason.

            My personal belief is that if a meme is created and cultivated on campuses, it doesn’t really become dominant and influential across society unless that society’s tastemakers and intelligentsia decide to run with it. The media, politicians, commentators and so on. College-borne concepts like rape culture and privilege hierarchies gain steam because they lend it weight.

            Pacifism is just not practicable in any real way. Perhaps little nations like Norway and Sweden can brag about their feminist foreign policy, but if America decides to adopt pacifism, Pax Americana is over. A lot of the foreigners who sneer about Capitol Hill’s bloodlust will quickly realize they’ve been living comfortably under the American military umbrella for so long that they don’t even notice it anymore.

            Speaking softly is all well and good, but someone has to wave that big stick around and if it’s not America, it’s going to be one of the other empires. Who’s comfortable with a world order dictated by Moscow or Beijing? Who’s going to pick up that meme and run with it?

          • Anonymous says:

            So we now have a motivated version of the theory. A popular college “meme” becomes influential across society if if becomes influential across society. Glad we cleared that up!

            You think SJW is a danger because you think it is likely to become influential across society. The fact that it is dominant on college campuses does no work in your scheme. You might have said “I’m afraid of SJW because I’m afraid of SJW”.

            We already knew that. The problem is that you have yet to provide any good reason why the rest of us should care. College kids have been pushing silly ideologies for hundreds of years. Then they graduate, most of them get real jobs, and they grow up. Problem solved.

          • Sandy says:

            I don’t think “SJW” or “SJWism” is a single ideology. I think there are different strains of it, just as there are different strains of liberalism and conservatism. Some strains are too stupid to live long, and some strains are enticing enough that motivated tastemakers will pick them up and signal-boost them.

            As I said somewhere else on the thread, no less than the White House has endorsed a frequently cited SJW narrative that claim American colleges are in the middle of a rape epidemic comparable to a Congo war zone, even though his own Bureau of Justice Statistics vehemently disagrees with such an idea. An Oscar-nominated documentary called The Hunting Ground came out that parroted these statistics, insinuating that not only is your daughter very likely to be raped on campus, but that the administrators are probably going to enable her rapist. After it came out, nineteen Harvard law professors released an open letter denouncing the documentary and describing it as propaganda not rooted in any kind of fact.

            Harvard law professors are an inordinately powerful group of people. They teach, inform and counsel Presidents and Supreme Court Justices. If this particular strain of SJWism is just something unique to a few stupid undergrads on a few campuses, why are members of this powerful group of people speaking out against it? Why would they waste their time on this nonsense? It’s because they’ve seen universities and government agencies draft policy based on this nonsense. And these policies are essentially coerced, regardless of whether they make sense or not — look up the Title IX Dear Colleague letter. Some group of media persons and commentators found this particular strain appealing because they believed rape is something that doesn’t get enough attention, and they lent it weight until the White House declared that yes, colleges are hotbeds of rape and something must be done about it.

            So this is a strain of SJWism that college kids have pushed that has become influential at the highest rungs of society. There are other strains, like whatever nonsense about boobs in video games, that are not worth worrying about. But there are other strains with serious implications for politics that even left-wingers worry about. Like the clamor about representation, and the oft-repeated claim that Wall Street is racist because there aren’t enough minorities working there. I forget where I read it, but I think it was Adolph Reed who described a college gathering where a student proudly declared “I’m queer, black and I’m going to work for Goldman Sachs next year!” to rapturous applause. For a black leftist like Reed, this is deeply horrifying because it means identity politics crafted and promulgated by the college crowd has created an environment where a great big monstrous machine that feeds on society and disproportionately crushes minorities underfoot can be considered acceptable as long as the machine adequately represents women and minorities within its apparatus. Again, this is an idea that started on campuses and was picked up by the tastemakers and intelligentsia, even if they didn’t frame it in quite those words.

    • Silva says:

      Given that the only constant is change, every present/future mainstream position was/is a past/present tiny lunatic fringe. At any given time, there are multiple lunatic fringes, and we don’t know which will prevail, but one of them will make the future mainstream – therefore keep an eye on any lunatic fringe that actually looks growing. See also: Moldbug, “Through WWII, Massachussetts Conquered the World”. (Not an actual title, but the ideas currently creeping over the entire world were conceived in New England and California (and previously, Dissenting England).)

      (In fact, some of my problem with SJWs is that they aren’t *actually Puritan* enough for my tastes.)

    • FacelessCraven says:

      @Jill – “I don’t know what the deal is with SJW’s here.”

      I was a libertarian-leaning Feminist democrat Obama voter in late 2014. One of my oldest and best friends got wrapped up in Tumblr Social Justice and decided that Rape Culture was the biggest problem in the world, and the answer was Listen and Believe. Note the URL of that last link; that was the original headline. I’d never heard of any of this before, and she was flooding my Facebook with Jezebel and We Hunted the Mammoth articles, so I tried getting her to explain it to me. When I balked at the “all rape accusations should be automatically believed”, she accused me of being a closet misogynist and cut off all contact. All the cases she was outraged over turned out to be frauds within the next few weeks. Haven’t heard from her in two years; I miss her a lot.

      Around the same time, Reproductively-Viable Worker Ants happened and more or less destroyed the Games Journalism and indy Games scenes; I’m an indy game artist so I had a front-row seat to the whole thing. Spending a couple months watching your colleagues and the journalists you’re counting on to spread the word about your game declare that people like you are all misogynist harassers who should have their careers and personal lives destroyed at any opportunity was pretty horrifying.

      Someone on r/KotakuInAction linked to Scott’s “I can Tolerate Anything But The Outgroup” during the worst of it, and I’ve been hanging around here ever since. A fair number of other posters have similar stories, some of them are way worse.

      “I guess if you’re Republican, maybe it bothers you a lot. But Dems mostly don’t even know about it.”

      They should. I was a democrat feminist, and 2014 Social Justice was bad enough to convince me not to be either ever again for the foreseeable future. It’s probably a big part of why the Alt-Right has been so successful both here and in Europe.

      • Jill says:

        So it wasn’t just Scott Adams that persuaded you to change your politics.

        Now that I have found out about SJWs on this site, I do know about them, but I have not had a front row seat to anything they have done. So my ideas about progressivism haven’t been affected by the things they do.

        • Silva says:

          I wasn’t raped by a fourth-world immigrant, either.

          • Jill says:

            Do you let every small Right Wing fringe group who ever does anything bad keep you from believing in conservatism or voting conservative?

          • Silva says:

            I’m a rabid Leftist.

          • stargirlprincess says:

            What the fuck!

            Reported

          • Jill says:

            Silva, well, assuming your comment about being Leftist is not sarcastic, then apparently you don’t let the news about people being raped by fourth-world immigrants– or about SJWs doing some things that have bad effects– keep you from being Left of Center. And neither do I.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Jill – “So it wasn’t just Scott Adams that persuaded you to change your politics.”

          Bush convinced me to vote Democrat. Social Justice convinced me to not vote at all. Adams helped convince me to vote Trump rather than staying home.

          “Now that I have found out about SJWs on this site, I do know about them, but I have not had a front row seat to anything they have done. So my ideas about progressivism haven’t been affected by the things they do.”

          Yeah, it kinda has to be experienced first-hand for people to appreciate how awful it is. A year ago, I would have argued that the Social Justice movement was aggressive enough that if it hadn’t reached you yet, it was probably only a matter of time. In the last year, though, I think it’s been receding due to internal fratricide; the extreme end of the ideology is nasty enough that it makes long-term cooperation and organization impractical. Others think it’s just gathering strength for the next push. Time will tell.

          I definately think it’s worth knowing about, simply as a precautionary measure. If it takes hold in your immediate social or professional circles, you may be in for a bad time.

          • Jill says:

            Yes, I would get out of my social or professional circles, to the extent possible, if SJWs invaded them and were doing dysfunctional things.

            It’s sad that SJWs convinced you not to vote at all for a while. They seem quite fringy to me.

            “the extreme end of the ideology is nasty enough that it makes long-term cooperation and organization impractical.”

            Yes, it definitely seems like that is so. The same thing seems to be true of our society as a whole, which is why the polarization– and the rarity of genuine inter-tribal communication (as opposed to inter-tribal insults, sarcasm, and condescension) — concerns me.

      • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

        The website MennoNerds — for Mennonite techies; yes Mennonite techies are a thing — extensively, instructively, and dispassionately covers conflicts between arch-conservative Mennonite Church authorities and Mennonite women who report sexual abuse.

        To the extent that the SJW movement encourages abused-but-silent women to speak up and hold church authority accountable for institutionalized sexual abuse … then the SJW movement inarguably is doing the Mennonite Church a power of good.

        Though at least some senior Mennonite Church authorities no doubt feel differently regarding SJWs.

        — — — 
        Jill, please let me join the chorus for folks who appreciate your always-respectful always-thoughtful always-rational posts.

        • Nornagest says:

          Well, that’s a creative line of reasoning.

        • Silva says:

          Found through that site: https://interdependentlyindependent.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/on-vasectomies-at-21-overpopulation-sexism-and-racism/ .

          I.e. the “enlightened” go voluntarily extinct. Meanwhile, Haredim have 6 children each.

        • utilitarian troll says:

          Jill, please let me join the chorus for folks who appreciate your always-respectful always-thoughtful always-rational posts.

          Yeah seriously guys I think Jill is fine. Someone upthread was complaining that she didn’t have the right background or something? FFS, I hate to sound this liberal, but doncha think it’s kinda valuable to have people from a variety of backgrounds if you actually hope to learn something from a conversation?

          The goal with SSC is to transcend this model: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2939 (In service of maximizing expected utility, of course.) Which means if someone disagrees with us, we don’t automatically round them off to being one of the baddies who are also on “their” side.

          If you hate talking to left wingers, go hang out on Social Matter or /r/darkenlightenment or something.

          • Exit Stage Right says:

            I do think we need people like Jill to stop us from becoming a big echo chamber. You can see the echo chamber effect on far right sites (some by design, no less…”No enemies to the right” and all). Its…not great.

        • Jill says:

          Thanks, Uncle K, for your appreciation. And thanks to Utilitarian Troll also.

          It does sound like the SJWs are doing good there in helping the abused Mennonite Women. So at least some of their methods sometimes do good.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t know what the deal is with SJW’s here. I had to look it up, as I think most other progressives would have to, too.

      Unless you are 15-25 or travel in the same circles as a lot of kids that age you’d have no reason to have heard of it.

      I’m sure the SJWs will grow out of it. I’m not so sure about these guys that have flipped out in response. That damage may be permanent.

      • The Nybbler says:

        A fair number of SJWs are older, Generation X, and got their start in the Political Correctness wave of the mid-1990s (which was broadly similar but no tumblr or twitter, and didn’t get nearly as far)

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m sure the SJWs will grow out of it. I’m not so sure about these guys that have flipped out in response. That damage may be permanent.

        This is not dissimilar to “I’m sure bullies are fine once they grow past 25 or so and become quite content human beings, but the bullied might carry permanent psychological scars.”

        It’s true so far as it goes, but it seems to leave the moral dimension out.

    • Seth says:

      @Jill – Sadly, you’re missing an important category, critically “that a type of activist does to writers”. As in, if one has any sort of public profile in terms of blogging or making comments which are read by an open audience, there’s a nontrivial risk of ending up as the target of an Internet Hate Mob. Not all such mobs are of the SJW type, but they’re a major hazard. Now this is not necessarily a problem for most people, since the proportion of writers is relatively small overall. But that’s sort of like saying that even in many dictatorships, a large amount of the ordinary population just goes along living their lives, without paying much attention to political struggles.

      It’s not tribal in the Republican/Democrat sense. Many people affected are liberal or apolitical, but don’t want to find themselves one day being mobbed by mud-slingers, subjected to a clickbaiting campaign to destroy their reputations or even get them fired. Yes, the right-wingers do make the most of it. But the concern is bipartisan despite the partisan uses by one party.

      • Jill says:

        Hate campaigns against people on the Internet are indeed a problem, no matter what the politics of them. I notice that Trump incites his supporters to conduct hate campaigns against people.

        https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/28/julia-ioffe-journalist-melania-trump-antisemitic-abuse

        • The Nybbler says:

          Your reference said that Trump did NOT incite his supporters to conduct a hate compaign against Ms Ioffe. “The harassment from Trump supporters is not directly linked to the candidate.”

          • Zombielicious says:

            To be fair, he’s not exactly innocent or subtle of having encouraged violence, either:

            In response to rally attendees beating a protester: “Maybe he should have been roughed up. It was disgusting what he was doing.” …. “This is not the way Bernie Sanders handled his problem, I will tell you, but I have a lot of fans and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy, a troublemaker, looking to make trouble.”

            Trump: “Get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court, don’t worry about it.”

            More: “So I got a little notice in case you see. The security guys, we have wonderful security guys. They said, ‘Mr. Trump, there may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience.’ So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK, just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise. They won’t be so much because the courts agree with us, too.”

            Apparently not enough violence at his rallies: “See, in the good old days this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily. But today they walk in and they put their hand up and they put the wrong finger in the air at everybody and they get away with murder because we’ve become weak, we’ve become weak.”

            Still more (see last link): “We’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days — you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks. I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.”

            When in doubt, consult the master list of Trump comments. Or this smaller one of comments by Trump specifically encouraging violence.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Zombielicious – And yet amazingly, his supporters weren’t the ones attacking their political opponents in the streets. His supporters haven’t stood down police rather than intervene to stop mob violence against his political opponents, and then blamed the violent actions of his supporters on the provocation of his opponents daring to rally publicly. His supporters haven’t attempted to physically attack his opposition’s candidate, or to murder them. To my knowledge, no Trump supporter has shot anyone for supporting Hillary.

            Hillary or her supporters have done all of those things. This narrative that Trump and his supporters are violent aggressors is not sustainable.

          • Exit Stage Right says:

            If you look at words spoken, Trump’s supporters seem dangerous. But if you look at actions taken?

            Not actually a snarky question, I genuinely don’t know

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Hillary or her supporters have done all of those things.

            Let’s not weaselword here, it’s not “Hillary or her supporters” it’s just “her supporters”.

            EDIT: Anon is correct, sorry about the strong accusations.

          • Anonymous says:

            Let’s not weaselword here

            I’m quite sure Hillary has “blamed the violent actions of [her] supporters on the provocation of his opponents daring to rally publicly”. The sentence might’ve been a touch badly constructed, but I hardly think it’s fair to accuse him of deliberate weaseling.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I saw the video of the protester who Trump said “maybe he should have been roughed up”. He wasn’t beaten or roughed up. He made a scene, went to the floor (probably to make it harder for him to be removed; this is a common protest tactic), got picked up with some difficulty (at one point the protestor throws a punch) by several people, some of whom were apparently Trump’s security. As security was removing him he tried to escape and head into the crowd, and was shoved back a few times.

            http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2015/11/21/altercation-trump-rally-nat-vo.cnn

            One protestor (a different one at a different time) was sucker-punched as he was being removed. That, as far as I can tell, is the extent of the violence started by Trump’s supporters. There’s been rather a lot of violence started in an attempt to disrupt his rallies, some of which was met with violence though responding with pepper spray seems to be a tactic which his supporters found worked well.

            Not that this has anything to do with whether Trump is inciting hate campaigns against people on the Internet. He isn’t.

          • Comment Reader But Not Usaully a Poster says:

            Isn’t that irrelevant to Jill’s point? It is not like the common narrative here is that there is centralized figure guiding the SJWs to commit evil acts.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            I thought we were sticking to times the candidate themselves had openly encouraged violence.

            The WSJ article is behind a paywall, the one who wanted to assassinate Trump wasn’t even a U.S. citizen, and I see nothing about the guy who shot someone in a bar for talking about Trump being a Clinton supporter. If we’re going to stick with that level of evidence, Trump supporters have done the equivalent of all of those, like the guy who said “Make America Great Again” before murdering six people (to be fair he appears to have had some serious mental issues, thought the Uber app was controlling his mind), the people who called for Clinton to be killed, the artist who was punched outside her house after receiving death threats from Trump supporters, the supporter who punched a protester in the head as he as being removed and said “next time we might have to kill him,” or the ones who shouted ‘Sieg heil!’ while calling for a black guy to be burned alive. There are more examples if you want to keep searching for them.

            Not trying to defend any stupid thing that other candidates’ supporters have done (assuming groups of tens of millions of people to be categorically pacifist seems like a losing proposition), nor do I really think protesting a candidate’s events is a great move, or think that idle threats against a famous person are all that meaningful, but it’s indefensible to claim Trump supporters are non-violent, or even less violent than any other candidate this cycle.

            @Nybbler:

            I saw the video of the protester who Trump said “maybe he should have been roughed up”. He wasn’t beaten or roughed up.

            He was diagnosed with a concussion at the hospital. You’re also making speculative claims about his hypothetical motives in falling to the ground, while ignoring what it says in the article attached to the CNN video:

            “I got punched in the face, I got punched in the neck. I got kicked in the chest. Kicked in the stomach. Somebody stepped on my hand,” Southall said…

            A woman in the video can be heard shouting, “Don’t choke him, don’t choke him, don’t choke him.”

            And from another interview with the man:

            “A lady kicked me in the stomach. A man kicked me in the chest. They called me n*****, monkey, and they shouted ‘all lives matter’ while they were kicking and punching me….”

            Stuff like that might have something to do with the widespread perceptions of the right by many on the left, you know…

          • The Nybbler says:

            I find the claims of Southall and his lawyer to be utterly without credibility. I’ve seen and heard various videos of the incident, and there’s no “n***er” or “monkey” yelled at him. Someone did chant “all lives matter” as he was being thrown out, and someone responded to his “black lives matter” chant with “no they don’t”. He was told to “get the hell out” and “get your ass out of here”.

            Here’s a video of the start of the incident:

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

    • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

      Jill wonders “I don’t know what the deal is with SJW’s here.”

      One answer is suggested by searching the web-network MennoNerds (for technophilic Mennonites) for posts concerning the key-word “justice”.

      Of the first ten justice-related MennoNerd posts, all ten are concerned with themes that are SJW-compatible:

      • criminal justice, • disability justice, • social justice, • poetic justice (!), • equitable justice, • racial justice, • sexual justice, • heavenly justice (!), • antislavery justice, • eschatological justice

      Progressive views on these topics are not commonly voiced here on SSC; indeed a pretty considerable portion of the commenters are hostile (as it seems to me) to any discussions of “justice” in the sense(s) that this term has for MennoNerds.

      The term “SJW”, as this term is most commonly used in SSC comments, thus can be appreciated as a pejorative anti-progressive shibboleth, whose use serves chiefly to obstruct any and all kinds of mutual discourse, regarding the broad span of justice-related issues that Peace Churches in general, and the MennoNerds in particular, tackle so openly and vigorously … and century-by-century, effectively! 🙂

      So what’s the deal? Chiefly repression is the deal.

      Abusive repression is of course entirely familiar to all of the historical Peace Churches. Indeed the term “Quaker” was originally applied with pejoratively repressive intent … the “Quakers” have subsequently made the term their own! 🙂

      • Montfort says:

        John Sidles, you are beginning to sound like a paid content promoter.

        Seriously, your references to “MennoNerds” have no relation to your claim that SSC commenters use the term “SJW” to suppress discourse on topics you find interesting.

        I am not aware of an orthodox “progressive” view of eschatological, equitable, heavenly, or poetic justice (and the last smacks unpleasantly of schadenfreude to me), and commenters here frequently express rather progressive views on criminal justice when the subject comes up.

        As for the rest of those issues, I think you will find all too many people eager to discuss them, though of course most would not fall on the “progressive” side. This is not at all the same as being hostile to the discussion itself. Personally, I admit I am not enthusiastic about the constant arguing about sexual, racial, and social justice, considering how uncivil and unproductive they seem, but to each their own.

        • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

          Uncle Ilya receives criticism for proposing that “a pretty considerable portion of the commenters are hostile (as it seems to me) to any discussions of “justice” in the sense(s) that this term has for MennoNerds.”

          The quantifier “pretty considerable portion” was thoughtfully chosen … it’s not a synonym for “all” or “most”. The rational advantages of shifting the domain of discourse from “SJWs” to “MennoNerds” are five-fold:

          Firstly: MennoNerds are a self-proclaimed community; SJWs are not.

          Secondly: MennoNerd culture is centuries old; SJW culture is not.

          Thirdly: MennoNerd values and objectives closely match the values and objectives that are deplored by critics of SJWs.

          Fourthly: MennoNerd advocacy methods — including in particular formal and legal complaints of gender-based harassment — closely match the advocacy methods that are deplored by critics of SJWs.

          Fifthly:  The founding mythos of the MennoNerds, as instantiated in their mascot “Rebstock NerdBird” is explicitly SJW-isomorphic.

          As a modest proposal, wouldn’t it be entirely rational, for critics of SJWs to shift their focus to criticism of progressive Mennonites, together with the progressive movements within the other Peace Churches, including but not limited to the Amish, the Quakers, and the Brethren?

          Here at least there can be discerned stable, enduring grounds for mutually respectful, rational, factual discourse … grounds that the SSC’s present rancor-ridden focus upon SJWs scarcely affords.

          Complaints regarding the SJW-esque MennoNerd symbol “Rebstock NerdBird” (as licensed under Creative Commons 4.0) would at least elicit smiles!  🙂

        • Montfort says:

          Well, alright then, what is it supposed to mean? More than one? 10%? Is there any appreciable effect of this minority opposition to discussion? The people who typically go on about “SJWs” are the ones who continue discussions on the subjects you listed. I assume the ones who are hostile to the discussion typically don’t post, but maybe you have some other behavior in mind here.

          I agree that it’s a real problem of these discussions that the category of SJW appears different to all viewers, and it would be nice if we could all agree on a fixed and unambiguous set of criteria for membership. But I don’t think it would work, for the same reasons you couldn’t convince people to stop criticizing “MRAs” and instead criticize “Fathers 4 Justice” (or something, there may be more representative MRA organizations). Similarly, if I think musicals are the worst form of popular entertainment, probably many of my criticisms could be leveled at Hamilton, or all musicals by Mr. Miranda, but there is something to be gained, at least in my mind, by talking about the genre as a whole.

          • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

            MennoNerds provides a large, in-depth, historically grounded, sampling of concrete examples of SJW-type activism.

            Absent such a sampling, criticism of SJW activism amounts to criticism of fog, isn’t that right? Fog onto which fears, prejudices, and demagoguery are too readily projected.

          • Montfort says:

            To an extent, yes, but people seem much more interested in “SJW-style” events going on now, many of which the MennoNerds have neither done nor commented on. It’s fair to use it as a comparison or example when it matches up reasonably well with the “SJW” qualities being discussed, but people will still want to complain about, say, Eich getting fired, or people being mean on tumblr.

          • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

            Montfort observes: “People [who are anti-SJW] will still want to complain about, say, Eich getting fired, or people being mean on tumblr.”

            Meanwhile, SJW progressives, the Peace Churches, and every medical society in the world, are united in urgently seeking to counter candidate Trump’s advocacy of “extreme interrogation measures” (also known as t*rt*r*), for a galaxy of medical and moral reasons that the peer-reviewed literature amply documents.

            In comparison, “people being mean on tumblr” seems like small potatoes, doesn’t it?

          • Rowan says:

            So, on the one hand the evil that SJWs do are actions that succeed (getting people fired), or are fait accomplit by nature (being mean), and on the other the good that SJWs do is to argue that a candidate who everyone is already comparing to Hitler has some bad policy suggestions. Sounds about right!

          • Montfort says:

            When has that ever stopped people from wanting to argue about things?

            And why are you trying to score cheap points against the Anti-SJWs?

            Edit: If this turns into yet another skirmish in the perpetual SJ war, I will respectfully bow out. I want no part of it.

          • Jill says:

            Thanks for that link, Uncle I.K. and your comments about dangers of extreme interrogation measures. Important stuff.

            Trump depends on a alpha tough guy style– which may be great for alpha apes in the wild (although no ape at his late stage in life would still be alpha), but is likely to be counterproductive in modern diplomacy and international relations.

            As a woman, I can’t understand the whole alpha thing that guy like– like Scott’s red pill guy. I guess if you can find a generator for him to push, he can do something productive.

            But he’s far from the type of guy I would want to marry, or would want to vote for for president. And it’s hard for me to understand why others think so highly of the sort of red pill guy.

            It’s often useful in various situations to be able to be competitive. But the people that other people call “alphas” often seem like bullies to me, and seem incapable of cooperation, even when that is clearly the most constructive strategy.

            When I buy from or deal with a company or organization, I always look for what people call “betas”– people who are going to do their job, rather than trying to aggressively screw everyone.

            E.g. I almost never buy a car– not because I can’t afford it or wouldn’t like one– but because car dealers act so aggressively “alpha” like, and seem to try so hard to screw over and deceive people, particularly women.

          • Jill says:

            “So, on the one hand the evil that SJWs do are actions that succeed (getting people fired), or are fait accomplit by nature (being mean), and on the other the good that SJWs do is to argue that a candidate who everyone is already comparing to Hitler has some bad policy suggestions.”

            No, there’s been discussion here about some SJWs helping Mennonite abused women, and also about peace demonstrators. You might also consider abolitionists and Civil Rights Workers within a broader definition of SJWs.

            “to argue that a candidate who everyone is already comparing to Hitler has some bad policy suggestions.”

            So would you rather have people generally compare a candidate to Hitler? Or would you rather people focus on whether the candidate’s policy solutions are likely to be disastrous or constructive?

          • Artificirius says:

            No, there’s been discussion here about some SJWs helping Mennonite abused women, and also about peace demonstrators. You might also consider abolitionists and Civil Rights Workers within a broader definition of SJWs.

            It seems to me that there is a certain amount of conflation of anyone who thinks Social Justice/Equality is a good goal is also a Social Justice Warrior. And while some would claim this, I would say this is incorrect at best, and gaslighting at worst.

            I am not claiming to be the definitive source on the term, mind. I simply wish to iterate how I use the term, and what I feel is the general meaning.

            Simply put, Social Justice Warriors aren’t primarily concerned with Social Justice. Many aren’t even peripherally concerned with Social Justice. For some, this is because they don’t understand ( And some further not wishing to understand) the scope and reality of the gender asymmetries in a given society. Thus working with flawed data and assumptions, they advocate for actions which don’t address the problem, or create new ones.

            Some are angry, and simply don’t care who gets hurt in their quest for justice. Most simply don’t think about the issues raised by their proposed plans, whether it is tarnishing the status of free speech, dismantling due process, etc. It is all well and good to simply state we should do anything to convict someone who is just obviously guilty, but that rests upon the assumption that guilt is obvious, and this is simply not so.

            You see many other flavours, but there are some common threads. The Ends Justify The Means. Listen And Believe. Watch and look for people (for whom the express goal is the end of racism and sexism) call a black person an Uncle Tom or worse for not falling in line. Or a woman a slut or whore for the same. People who tell others to kill themselves. Or people in one breathe decrying online hate mobs, and then urging them on in the next.

            This behaviour is a blight on the face of Social Justice. If we are to take that Feminism (Which I am taking to be the face of Social Justice) literally means equality, the fact that most people are at first blush unwilling to lay claim to the name, and are increasingly unwilling at that, is a strong suggestion that all is not well in the state of Denmark.

          • Viliam says:

            Social Justice Warriors are not about Social Justice?

            In hindsight, this seems obvious.

          • Jill says:

            I guess the term SJW, which I hadn’t heard of before coming to this board, is used in very specific ways. Perhaps these are the same sorts of people who marched for Civil Rights and abolition of slavery and peace and the anti-Vietnam War movement. But they have somehow gotten off the track of constructive ways of advocating for civil rights and other causes.

            Since a lot of them are in college apparently, some of this is youthful idealism. However, expensive colleges pander to their students, and so they encourage this. I don’t know how we can bring them back into constructive paths of working on the issues that concern them. Does anyone here have any ideas on that?

          • Artificirius says:

            Social Justice Warriors are not about Social Justice?

            In hindsight, this seems obvious.

            At the very least not primarily.

            Let us say we snapped our fingers tomorrow and created a perfectly feminist society. Let us pretend for a moment that this satisfies all feminist demands/desires, and there is no contradicting points.

            I don’t think we can assume every self identified feminist would be particularly happy with this state of affairs, since at a stroke they are utterly robbed of their relevance/identity/movement/money making machine.

            I point to the kerfuffle over ‘manspreading’ and ‘Office AC is sexist’ as of particular note in this phenomena.

            I guess the term SJW, which I hadn’t heard of before coming to this board, is used in very specific ways. Perhaps these are the same sorts of people who marched for Civil Rights and abolition of slavery and peace and the anti-Vietnam War movement. But they have somehow gotten off the track of constructive ways of advocating for civil rights and other causes.

            Since a lot of them are in college apparently, some of this is youthful idealism. However, expensive colleges pander to their students, and so they encourage this. I don’t know how we can bring them back into constructive paths of working on the issues that concern them. Does anyone here have any ideas on that?

            We start by razing down the notion of safe spaces for thoughts. If you wish to have discourse about society, then you are obliged to have it with society. An effort should be made to incorporate other sides and opinions.

      • Jill says:

        Thaks, Uncle I. K. Since this is where I heard of the term, I did not know of its wider context.

        • Nornagest says:

          MennoNerds has nothing to do with anything and I strongly suggest you discount it accordingly.

          Social Justice as criticized here is more a set of tactics than a set of priorities.

          • Jill says:

            Maybe you are right. I am looking it up to see what it is. I had never heard of it before today.

          • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

            Nornagest asserts [dogmatically] “MennoNerds has nothing to do with anything and I strongly suggest you discount it accordingly.”

            SSC readers who are interested to learn more about the Peace Congregations in general, and the MennoNerds in particular, and who are sympathetic to the conservative-minded anti-Marxist economic philosophy of Leszek Kolakowski, will enjoy Kolakowski’s scholarly account “Dutch seventeenth-century non-denominationalism and Religio Rationalis: Mennonites, Collegiants and the Spinoza connection” (2004). For general historical background, it’s tough to better the irenic theme issue “Spinoza as a Religious Philosopher: Between Radical Protestantism and Jewishness” of the Conrad Grebel Review (2007, vol. 25, no. 3).

            `Cuz over the long haul, eirēnē defeats irony (or so history gives us reason to hope).

            Alternatively, folks can divert their energies to tumblr (?) … SRS (?) … Zamii (?) … where irony is superabundant and irenic discourse is scarce! 🙂

          • Nornagest says:

            But what are your thoughts on the number 23?

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Jill – “Thaks, Uncle I. K. Since this is where I heard of the term, I did not know of its wider context.”

          I’m not sure if mennonerds actually have appropriated the term for themselves or not, but this, this and this are examples of the sort of behavior the term was originally coined to describe.

          • Nornagest says:

            Hey, it’s Kazerad. What happened to that guy? He completely dropped off my radar a couple years ago.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Nornagest – Prequel appears to still be updating, so I guess he’s still writing comics. I need to drop by and catch up sometime. It’s good to see he came through Ants okay.

            [EDIT] – crap, I was wrong. he hasn’t updated in months. Most unfortunate.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Uncle Ilya Kuriakin – “Of the first ten justice-related MennoNerd posts, all ten are concerned with themes that are SJW-compatible: • criminal justice, • disability justice, • social justice, • poetic justice (!), • equitable justice, • racial justice, • sexual justice, • heavenly justice (!), • antislavery justice, • eschatological justice”

        So if I were to go around saying that people should have acid poured down their throats or their genitals mutilated with a machete because of their skin color, gender or political beliefs, and encouraging others to do the same, which of the above categories would that fit under?

        Personally, I try not to use the term SJW at all; I think the term has outlived its usefulness, and the problem it described is baked into the Social Justice movement generally. Pretending the problems don’t exist is certainly one approach, though.

      • LPSP says:

        I don’t think Ilya is aware that SJWs, uh, coined the term SJW. Or at least the type of smug, self-effacing language of the bleeding heart internet crusader from which SJW is derived. It’s the very opposite of Quaker.

        The insult and compliment treadmill intersect like gears, spinning in opposite directions.

    • acorn says:

      I live in a red state where the few liberals and leftists around town are just as kind as my kindest republican neighbors, and none of us as far as i can tell who have ever come face to face with the SJW monster, though all the talk radio listeners are familiar with the sterotype as its been for a year now, a meme with incredible power to draw outrage towards its presumptive arrogance.
      I listen to a lot of talk radio as i do a lot of driving and twice this week iive had the bizarre phenomenon of turning off the anti-liberal diatribe in my garage, walking inside, cracking a drink and flipping open the laptop to an SSC commentariat, in media res, performing the same relentless takedown of the same hated enemy.
      Yes, SSC is more highbrow. But not much more.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I haven’t come into contact with an open racist, a dedicated anti-drug warrior, or even a proselytizing evangelical Christian for some time now (as I’ve moved into a more Blue bubble). That doesn’t mean they don’t exist; I’ve had contact with them in the past. I suspect much of the SSC commentariat HAS run into “the SJW monster”.

        I don’t listen to talk radio, so I don’t know their characterizations of SJWs. But I do know that some SJW views are so extreme it would be difficult to exaggerate them. Probably the worst they could do is characterize the worst of the real SJWs as being completely representative of all of them. But some really bad ideas seem quite mainstream; the idea that any discrimination against a “privileged” group is OK because it can only partially balance the “systemic discrimination” or “systemic oppression” against marginalized groups seems quite mainstream SJW, for instance.

      • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

        The Nybbler says: “I do know that some SJW views are so extreme it would be difficult to exaggerate them [like] the idea that any discrimination against a ‘privileged’ group is OK because it can only partially balance the ‘systemic discrimination’ or ‘systemic oppression’ against marginalized groups seems quite mainstream SJW”

        Searching the MennoNerd forum finds plenty of essays specifically relating to social justice concerns. These essays commonly espouse SJW-compatible values and objectives, and yet few or no essays can be found that espouse the values that your comment (and many ofther SSC comments) dubiously asserts are “quite mainstream SJW.”

        Why this is discrepancy so pronounced, do you think?

        • The Nybbler says:

          SJWs espouse certain values
          MennoNerds espouse compatible values
          therefore MennoNerds are SJWs?

          Gotta say, I don’t think that’s a valid syllogism. One big problem here is that, as has been noted here before, there’s an older meaning of “Social Justice” (and occasionally “Social Justice Warrior”), and it is likely that which the MennoNerds are referring to

          https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/06/02/links-616-linkandescence/#comment-368069

          Even if it were, the next step

          MennoNerds are SJWs
          MennoNerds don’t espouse the values I claim are mainstream SJW
          Therefore I’m wrong about mainstream SJW values

          runs right into the non-central fallacy. Even if the MennoNerds are SJWs, MennoNerds are not central examples of SJWs.

          Troll harder next time.

        • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

          The gratitude of many (including me) would be due to anyone who can suggest any SJW-friendly on-line community, that is comparable to the MennoNerds in the numbers of its members, and in the breadth and depth of its interest in SJW objectives and concerns, that consistently asserts, as a primary or mainstream principle (in Nybbler’s phrase):

          “any discrimination against a ‘privileged’ group is OK because it can only partially balance the ‘systemic discrimination’ or ‘systemic oppression’ groups [is] mainstream SJW”

          In the absence of such a community, doesn’t the very notion of an “SJW” amount to a collection of cherry-picked anecdotes and feminist boogey-figures (like Jill 🙂 ) … shibboleths veiled in a fog of abusive demagoguery … against which any convenient fear or prejudice can be projected?

          Uhhh … not that Donald Trump doesn’t serve the same polemic purpose! 🙂

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Uncle Ilya Kuriakin – “Why this is discrepancy so pronounced, do you think?”

          Because you are using a term that refers to a problem in one cultural group, and using it to refer to a completely different cultural group.

          “The gratitude of many (including me) would be due to anyone who can suggest any SJW-friendly on-line community, that is comparable to the MennoNerds in the numbers of its members, and in the breadth and depth of its interest in SJW objectives and concerns, that consistently asserts, as a primary or mainstream principle (in Nybbler’s phrase)…”

          Tumblr. SRS. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Zamii Hate blogs alone were larger than Mennonerds.

          • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

            Tumblr(?) … SRS(?) … Zamii(?) …
            are these sites for grownups?

          • Anonymous says:

            Is trolling a website where you’ve been banned a grown up activity, John Sidles?

            Incidentally, the Ninth Circuit recently held that it was a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in Facebook, Inc. v. Power Ventures, Inc., et. al.. May want to consult a lawyer before continuing to post here.

          • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

            Emerging neuroscience indicates that differing individuals may parcellate their social cognition quite differently. We’re certainly seeing plenty of evidence for this diversity here on SSC, don’t we? Aren’t these works providing ever-broader and ever-deeper scientific grounds for a David Chapman-esque “Stage 5” tolerance — even celebration — of our mutual cognitive diversity? From a neuroscientific perspective, and from an Enlightened social and moral perspective too, isn’t respecting this cognitive diversity — and seeking to extend it (not suppress it) — what MennoNerd / SJW / social justice / psychiatric concerns, in the long run, are fundamentally all about? Are these questions not most intimately bound up with some of the toughest conceivable questions of legal and medical justice?

            On the crucial significance of these tough questions (if not their answers), and upon their overlapping scientific/moral/medical foundations, we can all splice hands! 🙂

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Uncle Ilya Kuriakin – “Tumblr(?) … SRS(?) … Zamii(?) …
            are these sites for grownups?”

            In a manner of speaking.

          • Jill says:

            Actually growing up emotionally, and becoming more mature, is rather rare. Something few people even aspire to, much less do.

      • FXKLM says:

        It doesn’t surprise me that you don’t see nasty SJW behavior in an area where liberals are in the minority. That kind of behavior tends to be a product of environments that are pretty uniformly left-wing.

        I think it’s because the left-wing narrative idolizes fighting for a shift to the left on social issues, regardless of how far left the environment already is. I don’t think you see the opposite on the right. The right certainly supports certain right-wing policies, but they don’t romanticize fighting for a shift to the right simply for the sake of moving to the right. If a person really wants to fight for a social shift to the left, but they are surrounded by people who already agree with them about every sensible progressive social policy issue, the only option left is to fight for nonsense.

        • Jill says:

          I see it constantly on the Right, particularly in the actions of the GOP Congress, pushing further and further to the Right.

          People usually don’t see bad behavior when their own side is doing it. But these sorts of behaviors are done on both sides. And there are many Left of Center leaning environments where there is lno SJW stuff going on. I’ve lived in them and still do. Have not lived in San Fran though.

          • FXKLM says:

            There is certainly bad behavior on the right as well. This is just a specific form of bad behavior that I think is unique to the left. The right-wing certainly supports certain right-wing positions (that’s the definition of being right-wing after all), but I don’t think they romanticize shifting in a rightward direction in the same way the left does.

            The left idealizes “activism” and “fighting for a social cause” in general. I’m not saying that they don’t also usually care about the specific cause that they’re fighting for, but they’re also motivated by generalized desire to push for shifting society to the left.

            Put another way, the right only cares about society being right. The left also cares about society moving left.

          • Jill says:

            Well, somehow we’ve moved very far to the right in recent decades. And I don’t think that was unintentional on the part of Right leaning politicians and people.

            Right now, most of Hillary’s positions are about where Nixon’s were. And we have the GOP dominating both Houses of Congress, most governorships, most state legislatures, and SCOTUS until just recently. We’re rolling back abortion rights, through all kinds of laws in red states putting extra requirements on abortion clinics. And social safety nets and programs for the poor have been slashed and inequality of income keeps rising. And in tons of other ways, the country has moved more and more extremely to the Right.

            And of course there is that latest wave of demonization of the Left by the Right that was started by Gingrich.

            http://www.vox.com/2016/5/6/11598838/donald-trump-predictions-norm-ornstein

            Also, there is of course the Tea Party, that screams in protest against any tiny compromise with the Left.

          • FXKLM says:

            Pro-life activists think abortion should be illegal, but they don’t specifically romanticize moving in a pro-life direction. Taxes and regulatory burden may be an exception, where the right isn’t so much focused on a particular level that is appropriate and more focused on the directional movement. On economic issues, I think it’s fair to say that the right does care about the direction of policy rather than the absolute level of policy. In that case, however, there is at least a clear national policy as an anchor point. The right may want to consistently push to lower the federal income tax rate, but there is a limit to how far they can convince the entire country to lower taxes. When you’re talking about social policy at highly localized level (like a college campus or an ideologically homogenous social media community) and a large chunk of the population has an impulse to push left for the sake of pushing left, they can easily spiral into absurdity.

            Maybe I’m not being clear, but the examples you’re citing aren’t really responsive to my point. I’m not saying that there are no rightwing activists. I’m saying that, at least with respect to social issues, the right is motivated more by the absolute level of policy than the direction of policy.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            On economic issues, I think it’s fair to say that the right does care about the direction of policy rather than the absolute level of policy.

            Is that true, though? If the right cared about the direction of policy rather than absolute level, the logical end-point would seem to be reducing taxes to zero, but I have a hard time imagining ever the most fervent Tea Party member supporting that.

        • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

          FXKLM asserts [counterfactually]  “The right-wing certainly [doesn’t] romanticize shifting in a rightward direction.”

          If this were true, a whole bunch of blockbuster Hollywood films would have lost money. It’s tough to choose which romantic far-right scenes are greatest.

          Surely Donald Trump’s choice of romantic far-right theme music is no accident … because in campaign politics, there are no accidents! 🙂

          • FXKLM says:

            There is a difference between romanticizing a right-of-center position and romanticizing the notion of moving in a rightward direction irrespective of the starting point. The right often does that on economic issues (where they care about the direction of tax rates more than the actual level of taxes), but not really on social issues. On social issues, the left often cares more about the fight to shift society in a leftward direction than any specific policy endpoint in a way that the right does not.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          I mean, what would you consider SJW behaviour? Group bullying is a thing everywhere full of young people, censoring stuff based on your feels (or, more charitably, your moral intuitions) is hardly a domain of the left, and I’m told inquisitorial behaviour is a thing in religious groups.

          As I said elsewhere, conservatives and progressives take turns to put their dicks on our puddings, we’re just currently living through progressives’ turn, what might be worrying is if the timing (internet and social media explosion) makes it so that they stay in that position of power forever.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Group bullying, censorship, and inquisitorial behavior specifically justified via Social Justice ideology. Tends to hinge on using Social Justice definitions of sexism, racism and privilege to argue that some people don’t deserve to be treated with basic decency, and that harming individuals is justified as a counterbalance to structural inequalities like Patriarchy, White Supremacy, etc. The consonance with mainstream Social Justice ideology is why it’s seen as more than just a minority behaving badly; it’s an open question whether they’re “doing it wrong” according to Social Justice’s own theoretical framework. The central role Social Justice plays in left-wing politics is why it’s seen as relevant to the wider world.

    • Comment Reader But Not Usaully a Poster says:

      This a bit tangential to your question Jill but my takeaway from roughly a year lurking is most SJW discussion here is counter-productive. A lot of comments seem to imply that the tactics of statistics cherry picking, vigilantism, internet shaming and no-plat forming are the result of left/blue tribe ideology (as opposed to just localized power differences). By constantly tying arguments against these attacks to the motivation behind them it undermines the only solution to them I can see, a social norm that they are bad in and of themselves. If this norm to spread beyond SCC, then people have to ask themselves, what is the most rational way to accomplish this? I can tell you this much it is not a description of a no-plat forming then a lengthy critique of rape culture/feminism/etc. I am not saying don’t discuss those but an untangling has to be figured out.

      I understand that this motivated by pain and fear, I have read the relevant posts, and I sympathize. A weapon is most scary when it is pointed at you.

      A counterexample to the SJW narrative
      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/tom-moffatt-karmic-tweet-fort-mcmurray-fire-suspension-1.3573156

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        A lot of comments seem to imply that the tactics of statistics cherry picking, vigilantism, internet shaming and no-plat forming are the result of left/blue tribe ideology (as opposed to just localized power differences)

        Yes, other people than SJ have been sticking their metaphorical dicks into our puddins for the longest time, but I’m going to be living in the future, man, and unless the muslimpocalypse happens (unlikely) this is the shit I’m going to have to deal with.

        • Comment Reader But Not Usaully a Poster says:

          The muslimpocalypse is a useful comparison. It is not the unavoidable result of the teaching of Islam and even if it was you would have an almost zero chance of affecting it with a point by point rebuttal of the Koran.

      • Jill says:

        Interesting link. Comment Reader.

        I see your point about how if SJW overreactions–in statistics cherry picking, vigilantism, internet shaming etc.– are seen as just “the reason why Dems are awful and I’ll never vote Dem (despite the fact that most Dems don’t even seem to know what the abbreviation SJW means), then it’s not possible to solve the problem or to develop counter measures in our culture.

        Because it just becomes just one more part of our political polarization, and one more excuse to keep polarizing ourselves.

        Not that people shouldn’t discuss their pain and fear. Just that such problems do also call out for solutions. And we are better off if we start thinking of some and trying some out.

        • Comment Reader But Not Usaully a Poster says:

          “..the reason why Dems are awful and I’ll never vote Dem”
          I do not think it is generally seen as Democratic/Republican issue, and I agree, both parties are mostly silent on the issue. The host here is a good example of someone who sees this as a far left problem but I suspect will be voting Dem. It is more of a social bottom up phenomena not a top down political phenomena, and that is why it gets tricky. Most here strike me as having reasoned opinions at the political level, and even on the SJW issue I see the reasoning that got them there I just disagree with it. They do not necessarily get to where I would go but they are more than willing to show the road they took.

          • Jill says:

            One commenter did mention here that he decided to not vote Dem again because of experiences with SJWs. I don’t know how common that is here. But I do get the definite impression that most people here see it as a Left Wing phenomenon, and as a major reason why they don’t like the Left Wing.

          • JDG1980 says:

            It is more of a social bottom up phenomena not a top down political phenomena, and that is why it gets tricky.

            I’d feel better about this if we saw more clarification and pushback from the people who run the Democratic Party. If Hillary Clinton had done her own “Sister Souljah moment” against SJWs, as Bill did against their predecessors in 1992, then that would be grounds for some optimism. But we don’t see that. Instead, both Obama and Hillary are 100% behind Intersectionalist ideology.

            A Hillary administration could well end up with crackpots like Mari Matsuda on the Supreme Court. That would potentially spell the end of free speech in America.

          • The Nybbler says:

            We already have Justice “wise Latina” Sotomayor. Trump seems likely to just appoint a “safe” conservative, which would be better than another identitiarian. That IMO is one of the stronger reasonable arguments for Trump.

    • Liskantope says:

      My impression is that they are not much referred to explicitly outside of certain online places, and since I don’t hang around most other places online, I pretty much only see them here. However, that doesn’t mean that some of these social movements don’t blatantly exist. I knew many, many people that fall somewhat or entirely under the SJW umbrella during graduate school and whose articles I still see posted on Facebook every day. Of course there haven’t been any specific references to the term “SJW”, since even the minority present who weren’t really on board with their ideas mostly ignored them and weren’t exactly seasoned anti-SJW’s. As for the other movements you named (as well as the Movement That Shall Not Be Named), I have only a handful who fit any of the descriptions from a university context, none of whom explicitly named the movements. Only recently (since leaving graduate school and leaving America) heard PUA culture specifically endorsed for the first time by a university student in Europe.

  17. The Nybbler says:

    And Trump

    A USA Today opinion column with the headline “Election 2016 is over and Trump has won”

  18. Letmepost Letmepostsky says:

    The “World War II’s hamhanded writing” post reminded me about this video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p2n004Xjjg

    I want more Reality is Unrealistic reads now.

  19. Can someone explain the vampire photo thing to us foreigners? Is this something to do with the campaign over there or is it some weird attempt at a clever viral campaign strategy?

  20. Utopn Naxl says:

    Eh, that sex differences in intelligence one. Its behind a pay-wall.

    I would be *extremly* surprised if it was the case that there were no differences in what are considered the subintelligences/pillars of what make the total IQ/G count, namely verbal reasoning, spatial reasoning, working/performance ability, processing speed, and long term memory counts.

    If there are differences, its easy enough to weight a few variables, rather arbitrarily, at a weight of 0.65 and others at a weight at 0.5 and end up with “no differences”

    The simplest analogy is the SAT. Males perform better then females typically in tests of mathematics and spatial reasoning, and the converse is true for certain tests of verbal comprehensions, fluency and subjective writing capabilities.

    With the protests whenever gender gaps occur in favor of males, its unfortunate only a writing component was added for the newer tests, and not a corresponding spatial component. As others have written, certain types of genius that occur more frequently in males are not being tracked, or are sadly offensive to track, while the types of genius that occur more frequently in women there are no protests.

    As for differences in variance, IMO its best to keep it simple and see if there are larger variances in male height, arm length, skin melatonin levels, bicep size, fast/slow twitch ratios to keep some sanity on that issue. If there are for most of those, then there are probably some for other traits.

    • Anonymous says:

      The paper is here. It does consider subcomponents of IQ.

      • Utopn Naxl says:

        Yeah, but how do I access that?

        It would basically disagree with almost all of the research in tests that also seem to show results in the real world.

        Males *usually* have a 2/3rds SD advantage in spatial manipulation scores, while females tend to have a 1/3rd SD advantage in emotional recognition scores.

    • LPSP says:

      My two cents: Women are a tiny bit more intelligent on-average than men, men are a marginal amount more rational (maintain a long-view or inductive thought process under pressure, less fall back on instincts) on-average than women, same amount of variation (eg/ much higher than the small gender differences) in each.

    • Sabril says:

      From what I understand, when iq tests got set up, one of things which was done was to adjust weights to equalize male and female scores.

      If there is a difference in overall intelligence, it is not all that noticeable in normal life. Except of course when it comes to spatial relations.

      As others have observed, there is a very noticeable disparity on the right tail. The vast majority of absolutely brilliant people are male. Perhaps the variance hypothesis is correct. Or perhaps women tend to be more conformist in their thinking.

      • LPSP says:

        I’d go out on a limb and suggest it’s to do with a male/female preference for explicitity in thought, words and systems.
        – Men prefer the explicit and will make compromises for the sake of sharing ideas and making them as apparent, transparent and easier to absorb as possible (which I’d further suggest is an adaption for working in a team on a shared active goal like hunting, something women would have little need to pursue in the ancestral environment). This inevitably means that it’s easier to see men’s ideas for what they are, in all senses of the word. Ideas that are just plain bunk sink to the bottom quick and hard, and great thoughts rise up to prominence.
        – The female preference is instead for the implicit, and happily trade-off the obviousness of their words and behaviours for other gains; sometimes the fact that only carefully in-tune and experienced insiders are privy to the matter at hand is itself the benefit, acting as a passive and social defense that requires no violence. Therefore it’s harder to tell exactly what women’s ideas mean and where they stand on issues; there’s a lot more room for individual interpretation, which naturally leads to a deviation towards the norm. Particularly strident ideas are much less likely to be noticed or singled out, for better or for worse. Further, this can create a feedback loop, as women get little accurate or extreme information on whether their thoughts or suggestions are either very good OR very bad; with no pointers on either what to reinforce or to dismiss, women are less likely to carry ideas out and fully execute them or build upon them, and they are less likely to be judged by them socially.

        Obviously I’m making a bunch of assertions here, so feel free to call me out for anything. Seems to me, the differences in male and female social psychology serve to make men stand out and women fit in. In truth men and women could have identical distributions in terms of talents, but it’s simply a lot more obvious in men. The chief variance between the male and female peacock is just plumage.

  21. LPSP says:

    Meta-Rationality. David Chapman doesn’t really define what’s so different about the mental processes he’s expounding with Rationality, and why the process of induction and rule-identifying isn’t just another arm of rationality rather than some “higher level” that invalidates it. He seems to have notices the Apologist/Revolutionary thought dichotomy that Scott touched upon years ago, but taken it too seriously. Yes, our human brains need to rely on the Apologist when the Revolutionary is too much effort to exercise, and you can call this thought process “lower-level” in some sense as a result. You can maybe even say that the “woo”-ers (I don’t like that sound, or at least its use here) are people with categorically weak Revolutionaries in their head that rely on an internal Apologist too hard. But the idea of three concrete steps finds no support from this reading, and depends on contrivance to be seen otherwise.

    (for a start, what of people who have perfectly competent “Revolutionary” thought capacities, but weak “Apologists”? That would scupper the idea of “meta-rationality” as a superior level, as such an individual would exhibit all the strengths Chapman expounds but would be as feeble in terms of long-term thought and consistency as a so-called Woo-er; a real possibility completely unaccounted in the narrative.)

    I like David, I like the things he introduces to me like Bongard Problems, which are fab. But he’s overestimating the value of one mental capacity – observation – over another – application. He assumes a line between [people who are indefinedly mindless] -> [people who can apply but not observe] -> [people who can observe, with the ability to apply taken for granted but untested]. He labels the middle group Rationalists, but in practice that group probably aligns far more with what he calls the Woo-ers. And what he calls the Woo-ers are actually more diverse than he reckons, for some can maintain an (irrational) motivation and others can’t. I wouldn’t be worried too much about comeing up with a word to trump rationalism at the minute.

  22. LPSP says:

    Disclosure doesn’t strike me as /much/ of a paradox. Nothing breeds trust like honesty. “I can’t take the offer back now but it’s still really good value and you should’ve taken it anyway” will breed hate if you can take the offer back and are just lying to force the deal, but “my main motivation in helping you is money, do you want in or not?” is refreshingly free of marketing spiel.

    On an irrelevant note, I read about Edward Bernays the other day (the guy who broke the social barrier against female smoking by having a parade with smoking female models, the cigarettes dubbed as “freedom torches”). He is my go-to example now for a guy who’s correct – his propaganda theories work wonders – but unjust – they do no good and are only rewarding for contemptuous shits. Hitler was his greatest indirect student, and implemented many of his techniques in his rise to power through the engineering of spectacle. A bit like placebomancy, really.

    • Jill says:

      Have you read Jacquest Ellul’s Propaganda? Or Taking the Risk out of Democracy by Alex Carey? Great texts re: propaganda.

  23. Anthony says:

    The Joan Walsh article is bizarre. I have no idea where Joan Walsh stands on any issues, but the method of inquisition — “She associated tweet A containing typo B with SNL sketch C, and WE ALL KNOW WHAT THAT MUST MEAN!” — sounds like middle-school drama / Trelawney-style divination.

    • reytes says:

      Joan Walsh is perhaps not the greatest pundit in the history of mankind.

      • Guy says:

        Not to dispute your claim or anything (Joan Walsh is, to me, a vaguely familiar set of syllables and nothing more), but Walsh is the subject of the article, not its author.

  24. LHN says:

    From the Hamilton review: “Changing the races allows these men to appear far more sympathetic than they would otherwise be.”

    Really? I can’t think of a more negative portrayal of Thomas Jefferson in any remotely broadly-aimed American pop culture.

    (The play’s Washington is admirable, but to a first approximation fictional takes on Washington are always admiring– something I have no problem with though I’m sure the author does.)

    • sweeneyrod says:

      Interestingly, the founding father who comes off worst is John Adams. The first time he’s mentioned is when Hamilton claims he doesn’t have a “real job”, the second time is Hamilton calling him a “fat motherf*cker”, the third time is King George laughing at the idea of him becoming president, and the last time is Jefferson describing how he “sh*t the bed” (politically speaking). But as I understand it (as a Brit with little knowledge of American history of the period) out of all the Founding Fathers Adams was probably the one with the strongest opposition to slavery (in comparison with Jefferson, Madison and Washington who were slave-owners, and Hamilton who I think was a fairly lukewarm abolitionist).

      • LHN says:

        Adams comes off badly (no surprise, since Hamilton is the protagonist and he and Hamilton hated one another), but he’s also basically invisible since he’s not actually a character in the show. Not including the first Vice President and second President in a show centered around the high level politics of the era is a pretty surprising choice. (Yes, Vice President was and is a backwater, but the Presidency wasn’t, and Hamilton was involved with e.g., the Alien and Sedition Acts enacted under Adams.) But the show is extremely economical when it comes to onstage characters, with four of them doubled roles.

        I don’t know enough about its history to know to what extent that was a matter of resources– back before it blew up into a phenomenon, was Miranda trying to minimize the number of high-energy rappers he’d need to cast? Or was it primarily a positive artistic choice to keep events among a small circle of characters?

        • sweeneyrod says:

          I think artistic reasons, Miranda had already won a Tony with In The Heights before starting Hamilton so money probably wasn’t an object.

        • Gbdub says:

          Perhaps he thought Adams already had his time to shine in the HBO miniseries (which portrayed Hamilton as manipulative and conniving – again not surprising since they really didn’t like each other)

      • The Nybbler says:

        Jefferson was rather strongly against slavery himself, despite being a slaveowner. Among the complaints against the King in the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence.

        he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

  25. James Kabala says:

    If anyone has a lot of free time to kill this weekend:

    https://cassandragood.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/historians-take-on-hamilton/

  26. Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

    As fodder for the ongoing debate “Anhistorical Progressive Musicals”, and also the ongoing debate “Politicians Who Plagiarize”, the following comment was voiced in a wretched hive of scum and villainy:

    Ultramafic rightist  “My 7-year-old daughter: “Why did she [Hilary] just say [in accepting the Democratic nomination] ‘If you can dream it, you can build it’? That like makes no sense at all.”

    Evidently this commenter’s little girl hasn’t (yet) been memetically infected by the arch-heretical theologico-musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat:

    Some folks dream of the wonders they’ll do
    Before their time on this planet is through

    Some just don’t have anything planned
    They hide their hopes and their heads in the sand

    Now I don’t say who is wrong, who is right
    But if by chance you are here for the night

    Then all I need is an hour or two
    To tell the tale of a dreamer like you

    We all dream a lot — some are lucky, some are not
    But if you think it, want it, dream it, then it’s real
    You are what you feel …

    But all that I say can be told another way
    In the story of a boy whose dream came true
    And it could be you.

    Hmmm … isn’t Dreamcoat’s Narrator concisely articulating Hillary Clinton’s progressive party line? “If you think it, want it, dream it, then it’s real. You are what you feel”?

    As further confirmation, the star of the film version of Dreamcoat is of course the notorious Mormon heretic, Donny Osmond. Which can’t be a coincidence … because nothing ever is … in politics.

    And as final, utterly conclusive, evidence, Hillary Clinton’s hairdo strikingly mimic’s Dreamcoat’s Maria Friedman’s!

    We can only conclude, from irrefutable evidence, that Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech inarguably plagiarized both the words and the choreography of the grossly anhistorical, grossly anti-Biblical, grossly un-American musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

    Is there no limit to progressive perfidity? First progressives suborn the historicity of the Old Testament, then they suborn the historicity of the US Constitution! What’s next? Fluoridated children’s ice cream? 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      Is there no limit to progressive perfidity?

      Perfidy! There’s no limit to progressive perfidy! 😉

      • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

        Perfidity? “It is a common word, down our way!”
        (thank you for the correction) 🙂

        • Anonymous says:

          “Embiggen? I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield.”
          “I don’t know why, it’s a perfectly cromulent word.”
          😀

          • LHN says:

            Though as is the way of such things, my wife and I have absorbed “cromulent” into our vocabulary. And one of the powers of the newish comics superhero Ms. Marvel is “embiggening” part or all of her body.

          • Anonymous says:

            Frankly I suspect that “cromulent” has become a perfectly cromulent English word in general, now. It may turn out to be the longest-lasting legacy of The Simpsons (although of course, at the moment it seems almost equally likely that the show will remain in production until English is no longer recognizable as a language and people have to perform exegesis on the first sixty seasons to understand any of it).

  27. Zombielicious says:

    Key quote: “Obama believes strongly in the institution of marriage — so strongly that he has at least three current wives, although press reports have put the number as high as 12.”

    I didn’t realize which Obama this was referring to until halfway through the article, and was thinking “this is really low, even for the NYDP.”

    That aside, the article has no value (excepting comedy), just an attempt to smear a politician by association. It frames it as the brother being bitter about Obama not supporting his governorship run, but if he had we’d just be hearing about nepotism for a polygamous relative instead.

  28. Alsadius says:

    A Trump supporter with three wives? Well, he’s picked the right candidate.

    Also, I’ve been pinning a lot of our recent economic stagnation on an aging population for years. This is why people looking to prop up demand are silly – demand is easy, supply is hard.

    • Quixote says:

      For an alternative perspective; supply is easy demand is hard.

      The difference, of course, is that over the past few decades people who have held both views have made a variety of predictions about interest rates, inflation, and GDP growth contingent on rates of government spending. Prominent economists with the demand is hard view have consistently been right in their predictions and prominent economists with the supply is hard view have consistently been way off in their predictions. Insofar as you think real knowledge empowers you to make predictions about the world, this should tell you something.

      • E. Harding says:

        “Prominent economists with the demand is hard view have consistently been right in their predictions and prominent economists with the supply is hard view have consistently been way off in their predictions.”

        -How’s Brazil doing?

        “Just to be clear, I think Brazil is going pretty well, and has had good leadership.”

        • Quixote says:

          point to you for a funny and pointed response.

          But on serious note, 1) a prediction record should be viewed over many predictions not by highlighting particular good or bad individual predictions. And 2) in my post I particularly noted “predictions about interest rates, inflation, and GDP growth contingent on rates of government spending”. I noted these because I think economists are much more qualified to talk about those subjects than subjects generally and tend to have better records within their areas of domain expertise.

          • E. Harding says:

            Scott Sumner is definitely a prominent economist “with the supply is hard view” who has been more or less consistently accurate in his “predictions about interest rates, inflation, and GDP growth contingent on rates of government spending”. However, even he thought in 2009-10 the U.S. would be off the ZLB by late 2014, as he believed the Fed to be more competent than it actually was.

            Since 2009, he has predicted slow nominal GDP growth. Since 2011 (I think) he has predicted slow real GDP growth, as well.

        • Silva says:

          Unsure you know Brazil just replaced its leadership. Which Brazil has good leadership, up to 2016 or from 2016?

      • anon says:

        Honest question, who are some examples of the “prominent economists with the demand is hard view” who have been consistently right in their predictions?

        • Quixote says:

          Paul Krugman. His editorial columns are mostly politics these days, but his blog still goes into econ every now and then and he has a real gift for putting macro in clear and digestible frameworks.

          There’s an academic at Yale (I think) who has his students note and evaluate all predictions made by professional pundits and PK consistently has the most accurate prediction rate of anyone in the mainstream media

          • Jill says:

            Yes, Krugman is great on economics. I wish he’d stick to that and forget blogging about politics. He was really unfair to Bernie, although he couldn’t see what he was doing, because he is so much pro-Hillary.

            What happened basically, is that Bernie came out for a lot of the things Krugman had been advocating for, for years. And then Krugman was pro-Hillary anyway. He called the things unrealistic– the things that he Krugman had previously advocated for– once Bernie came out in favor of them.

            Whether on the Right or the Left, it seems that people can fixate on a candidate and then be blinded to how unfair they are being to other candidates.

            I’m for Hillary too now that Bernie isn’t running any more. So somehow I want to forgive Krugman enough to read his brilliant columns on economics.

  29. Quixote says:

    I find myself still unconvinced that meta rationality is a thing. I solved all the ‘meta rationality’ puzzles on the page with one exception and for all the ones I solved took fewer than 30 seconds, so I’m clearly fairly good at ‘meta rationality’, but from the inside it didn’t seem at all different from rationality. Maybe the folks for annoy that blogger are just bad at rationality?
    I’ll also note that the cases he describes as complex or mushy were neither. When I solved them I gave fairly precise statements that were not “mushy” for example instead of saying “circles vs triangles” when the circle was made of lots of little triangles in a circular pattern I phrased the rule as “the filled in spaces are circumscribed by a circle vs. the filled in spaces are circumscribed by a triangle.” The mushiness that the author noticed from his solution didn’t apply to my solution (which I had come up with before I read his solution). The mushyness was not a property of the problem posted, but was a property of a specific conceptualization of the problem that evaporated with a different frame.
    Overall the post was a good read, but I am skeptical its pointing at something real or distinct. Anyone doing rationality well should already have a mental tool kit which include frames of reference, problem spaces, levels of abstraction and the like. To the extent some people don’t I think it is more usefully framed as “a good rationality toolkit includes these capabilities” rather than “here is some super semi mystical rationality plus called meta rationality.”

  30. onyomi says:

    Related to “unlearning pain,” and somewhat related to chronic inflammation:

    Are there any good studies or theories on the line between “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “what doesn’t kill you sensitizes you/gives you PTSD, making you suffer more in the future”?

    I’m talking both psychological and physiological levels:

    With say, allergies, there seems to be a thing where, if you expose your baby to peanuts, or someone with a peanut allergy to an incredibly tiny amount of peanuts, you can gradually get them to tolerate more and more peanuts.

    Psychologically, people can develop “thick skins” if they are made to endure a lot, but there is also the phenomenon where, if you lived in a country where you had to wait in an interminable line for everything, you may actually end up being far less tolerant of waiting in line than someone who didn’t.

    Like, say, lifting weights, it seems to be related to: challenge, but don’t overwhelm, but it’s still somewhat confusing to me; for example, I know people who didn’t have a pollen allergy who, after living in a place with a lot of pollen for several years, started to develop one. It seems like the body should get better at ignoring a harmless background stimulus, yet sometimes it starts overreacting to it more and more.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I had to watch a presentation on this recently. People with HPA axis dysfunction are more likely to get PTSD for any given level of trauma than other people. Also linked to some levels of certain proteins and transcription factors. But also, childhood trauma (supposedly) causes HPA axis dysfunction.

      • onyomi says:

        The part about child abuse is interesting, because presumably childhood is a time when some degree of stress response “calibration” takes place. Though one might think putting more stress on the child would make him “tougher,” maybe it actually just signals “you live in a harsh world, where freaking out about everything is entirely justified.”

        Seems like it’s becoming widely accepted that immune system calibration also takes place in childhood, and that there may be a good reason, for example, why babies put everything in their mouths (exposing themselves to the microbes common in their environment). But in this case it seems like not exposing the children to enough dirt might miscalibrate in the opposite direction: sends the message that the base level of microbes is low, therefore it is very easy to veer into overreact territory (hygiene hypothesis).

    • Lumifer says:

      I don’t expect general answers to this sort of questions — this is clear “it depends” territory.

      In particular, there’s a characteristic of individuals that one can call resilience. Different people obviously have different “amounts” of it and I suspect that your personal level of resilience will greatly influence whether you emerge from trying times strengthened or broken.

      And even if you manage to measure it for some large sample and arrive at an average, what use will this average be? I think that in order to do any useful predictions of the sort “stress X will strengthen but stress Y will break” you will need a fairly complicated model at which point you have a whole set of other issues.

    • onyomi says:

      Anecdote which weirdly seems to weigh on both sides of the scale.

      I have a friend who studied chemistry and got a job working in what was, essentially, a perfume factory (all that stuff in lotion, shampoo, etc., they made it). He said he was miserable working there because he was constantly bombarded with smells which made his eyes red, nose runny, throat sore, etc. And I think he said his reactions got gradually worse over the time period he worked there.

      Yet he also claims that, afterward, he found allergies he had previously had to e g pollen, had disappeared, almost like the body had “forgotten” to freak out about pollen in the process of learning to freak out about a million other things.

      • LPSP says:

        I have my own personal anecdote along this vein. When I was a child I was affected by hayfever pretty badly – not only sneezing, runny noses and headaches, but hearing loss and itchy bumps behind the back of my knees. At 14-15 I went to live with my father, who owned 3-4 dogs over the entirety of my 3.5 years living with him. Never had any issue with dogs before, but over the course of that time I gradually started to find dog hairs irritating, and spending time in a room the dogs frequented without a prior clean would be consistently inflammatory. Hayfever just shrank away.

        Today I’m not bothered so much by either hayfever or dogs, but dust mainly. It seems that my body has a “conservation of inflammation” deal going on, and the prime irritant shifts to suit the most prominent feature of the environment.

        (I could also talk about eczema, which has been a strange yo-yoing condition in my life, but that’s a different story)

    • Douglas Knight says:

      It’s not going to shed any light on the other examples, but for babies, an important variable is whether the exposure is before weaning. Abrupt weaning causes food allergies.

      • onyomi says:

        So are you supposed to give the baby other foods before weaning, or wait till after? Some websites seem to recommend the latter, which seems counterintuitive. One imagines through most of history babies would have started to eat solid food gradually, without completely stopping nursing all at once.

        • Guy says:

          Why would one imagine that? It doesn’t seem like a remarkably natural starting place. It’s hardly unnatural, but I wouldn’t assume it.

          • onyomi says:

            In most traditional cultures weaning happened later, sometimes much later than is common today. But I doubt those children avoided all solid food until then.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          The specific claim is that one should introduce wheat and peanuts before ceasing nursing. I think one should generalize this to introducing a diversity of foods, focusing on those with common allergies.

          Abrupt weaning is probably a recent development, driven by mothers of infants working outside of the home. Also maybe by infant formula or even the breast pump.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      That hypothesis doesn’t make a lot of sense, because the post you link to is a joke that relies on the reader already recognizing the trio of div, grad, and curl. It would be make more sense to attribute it to the general trio/phrase rather than that particular joke. There’s a well-known textbook called Div, Grad, Curl, and All That, which is what I would have assumed inspired it — since that is, at least as far as I know, what made the trio a phrase rather than just a trio — but this post leaves out the “and All That”, so I guess probably not.

  31. gwern says:

    A political science journal experiments with triple-blind studies – ie those where peer reviewers judge the methodology before knowing the results and finds that it “encourages much greater attention to theory and research design, but raises thorny problems about how to anticipate and interpret null findings.”

    ‘Triple-blind’ already has an accepted meaning: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_experiment#Triple-blind_trials
    This is “result-blind reviewing” (or a few other terms): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholarly_peer_review#Result-blind_peer_review

  32. Jack says:

    Operation Cherry Blossoms At Night isn’t hamhanded writing. It is hamhanded translation, or for that matter, the fact that translating Japanese into something that doesn’t sound hamhanded is hard. The actual name in Japanese isn’t hamhanded at all.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      Did you read the link about hamhandedness?

      • Jack says:

        Yeah, don’t really see how it relate to what I’m saying though.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          Scott isn’t saying that the name is ham-fisted writing in the sense that it is awkward, but that in the sense that if WWII was a TV show it would have ham-fisted writing (unrealistic plot and characters) and the operation name is part of it — it sounds like a fictional name.

          • Jiro says:

            It sounds like a fictional name because names in Japanese usually sound like fictional names the way they are translated.

          • Jack says:

            Yeah I know what the point of the article is. See Jiro’s comment.

  33. Isn’t it easier to have a Photoshop family gathering than an actual one , am i right

    precursor to em-world , where people converse as holograms and avatars while staying at home in bed

    • Said Achmiz says:

      The Naked Sun

      • Pku says:

        The Naked Sun had one of Asimov’s more interestingly weird SF predictions, in the scene where they talk about chess. One character mentions that he used to play holographic chess with the victim, and when the detective asks how, he says “the usual way – with two chessboards.”
        I found it interesting that Asimov could imagine a world with perfect holograms indistinguishable from reality, but couldn’t imagine a purely holographic chessboard.

        • Guy says:

          Honestly, I’d prefer to play holochess with a regular set of one side’s pieces matched by holograms of my opponent’s pieces. There’s something to moving your own pieces and feeling the thing you’re moving.

    • bluto says:

      It depends on the distance and family dynamics and how good you expect your memory tokens to be.

      It’s trivially easy to slap together some disjointed objects in Photoshop, but considerably harder to get the lighting and shadows right (so they are consistent on all added objects and consistent with the background). My gut feeling is that gatherings requiring less than 100 miles of travel for each member and which have a relatively low probability of discord (under 20%) are probably less costly to gather than Photoshop realistic photos of all attendees.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Are we sure that she was shopped into the picture? Couldn’t she just be obscured by her father in the shot?

        • The Nybbler says:

          I looked at it a while and can’t convince myself either way. I _think_ she’s probably just obscured, but not certain.

          • Rogelio says:

            If someone added her in in Photoshop, they are extremely talented. She is perfectly situated in the scene from the perspective of lighting and shadows. It’s possible (I mean, I’ve seen Avatar), but it would be expensive and time-consuming.

        • onyomi says:

          I’m pretty sure she’s just fully obscured by her father.

        • bluto says:

          I’m not sure the light is right on her hair (which could be the result of her hair having lots of separate curls), it looks very good elsewhere (table shadow on leg, feathering of light down her side, shape and direction of head shadow highlights on face, etc). She looks a bit less exposed than the other two, but that could be the result of the placement of the table light and angles each of the three are facing.

        • Jiro says:

          I think she’s obscured. Look at the angle of his face in the mirror and consider where she would be in relation to his face.

          The way the picture is taken it’s tempting to assume that the axis of reflection is in a place where it really isn’t.

          • Guy says:

            Agreed. She’s the most obvious bit, but a lot of stuff on the table, for example, looks like it’s in the “wrong” place, or a different object is reflected. Not to mention the Magic Mirror Child.

        • The Nybbler says:

          I did some more looking with fresh eyes. She’s just obscured. Her hair and one of the details on the strap of her dress are visible just behind his head in the mirror image.

    • brad says:

      My parents have a picture hanging in their house in which an absent family member was edited in. It is from the early 1930s.

    • Mary says:

      The Golden Age, The Phoenix Exultant, The Golden Transcedence by John C. Wright.

      To be sure, telepresence is one of the less exotic technologies in that trilogy.

  34. Anon. says:

    Weird Sun Blog is stunningly dull (especially compared to Weird Sun Twitter), is it really the same person?

    • Note that Weird Sun Twitter is written by more than one person. I don’t know how many people are in the network, I just know that it’s at least two, because I remember once seeing some out-of-character speak from the author of one account in which they said they didn’t know the authors of the other accounts.

    • Guy says:

      Some things on WSB are substantially better than others. “fifty ways to make people more reflective” is glorious, but the post that prompted it is essentially nothing but rationalist boilerplate.

      • LPSP says:

        I found that list kind of dull compared to the later ones. Then again, they all seem to be waffling about problems that are one or both of simple or so context dependent as to be generally unsolveable.

  35. Anonymous says:

    So, having read that Hamilton piece, what’s actually wrong in it?

    I disagree entirely with the writer’s hatred of the Founding Fathers, but even there I readily acknowledge the facts are right, and I see where he’s coming from. As for his description of Hamilton itself he seems to be entirely bang on target.

    I saw several of you joining in a sneer at him upthread, though, and I’d like to think that the actual arguments were left out because they’re obvious, not for the other reason, and that I’m the fool here, so can someone shed light on it?

    • sweeneyrod says:

      The statement that unsavoury aspects of the Founding Fathers are mostly ignored in Hamilton is correct, but not really relevant. Even if you don’t think good art can take liberties with truth, Hamilton at worst omits facts that would make the narrative more complicated and less enjoyable which I think is excusable. Hamilton certainly isn’t the first musical to have this attitude towards political figures.

      The main problem with the piece is that Hamilton is good. Seeing it on Broadway is mostly restricted to the rich, but anyone can listen to the soundtrack. It is popular not because people blindly ape the artistic tastes of the elite, but because many people have listened to the soundtrack and enjoyed it.

      • Anonymous says:

        This seems like exactly the opposite of the answer I was hoping for. I don’t care about the unsavory aspects of the Founding Fathers because I disagree that they’re unsavory (I don’t want to be derailed into a discussion of this, so I won’t motivate this assertion). I do think good art can take liberties with the truth; some of my favorite books are various of Dumas’ historical romances, all of which contain historical events and then distort the hell out of them for the sake of the narrative (e.g. the assassination of Buckingham, or the Duel of the Mignons).

        Everything he says does seem reasonable based on his own principles and axioms, however, so that, as I said above, I see where he’s coming from.

        Having, however, listened to as much of the Hamilton soundtrack as I could stand, it seems to me that he is not wrong about anything he says about the actual quality of the musical itself. It does not appear to rise above the “cringey school project” level, and it does seem to coddle the biases of the Radical Chic clique to an inordinate extent. That’s where my confusion arises.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          As with all art, YMMV. The music isn’t brilliant on the level of Bernstein or Sondheim (and it’s difficult to compare with that of other musicals as much of it is hip hop) but I think it’s pretty good (YMMV especially here depending on how much you like rap). I think it’s well plotted, with songs placed carefully to create emotional effect. The lyrics are quite intricate — there are lots of musical and lyrical themes that get repeated and played with, and many references to rap, musical theatre, and American history to notice.

          I think largely your opinion of it should depend on how much you like rap and/or musical theatre in general. If you don’t like either of them, I don’t see why you would expect to enjoy Hamilton. If (like me) you enjoy both, you will probably like Hamilton (and also Lin-Manuel Miranda’s previous musical In The Heights).

          • Anonymous says:

            I think largely your opinion of it should depend on how much you like rap and/or musical theatre in general.

            Let’s suppose I have a reasonably extensive collection of especially pre-gangsta hip hop and a strong affection for the Cole Porter musicals, One Touch of Venus, and Les Misérables in particular, as well as a general appreciation of the form, but could never figure out what anyone sees in Cats or Hair.

            Let’s further hypothesize that I nevertheless can’t see a meaningful distinction between Hamilton and the pirate rappers referenced in the article, or that… Professor? something? who makes a gag/schtick out of wearing safari gear and rapping about tea and other silly steampunkish stuff.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            Have you listened to Hamilton all the way through? Hamilton is much more complex as a whole than the pirate rappers (at least I assume it is, I’ve not actually listened to any pirate rap). For instance, like One Day More in Les Mis, the Act I finale in Hamilton (Non-Stop) references many of the previous songs in the music and lyrics (I count at least seven). Also, most of the lyrics are a lot better. I think it is obviously untrue to claim that

            [HAMILTON]
            Corruption’s such an old song that we can sing along in harmony
            And nowhere is it stronger than in Albany
            This colony’s economy’s increasingly stalling and
            Honestly, that’s why public service
            Seems to be calling me
            I practised the law, I practic’ly perfected it
            I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it
            Now for a strong central democracy
            If not, then I’ll be Socrates
            Throwing verbal rocks at these mediocrities

            is basically the same thing as

            When I say yo, you say ho!
            Yo!
            Ho!

            .

            If I were to pick one song that makes this point, it would be Cabinet Battle #1. If a cringey school project can come up with

            If we assume the debts, the union gets
            A new line of credit, a financial diuretic
            How do you not get it? If we’re aggressive and competitive
            The union gets a boost. You’d rather give it a sedative?

            I think we might disagree on the meaning of the word “cringey”.

            Also, with regards to hip hop, the cast album of Hamilton was produced by two members of The Roots, and Jefferson and Lafayette are played by Daveed Diggs of Clipping. I don’t think either of those groups resemble pirate rap.

          • Pku says:

            If you don’t like either of them, I don’t see why you would expect to enjoy Hamilton.

            I don’t, but I enjoyed Hamilton a lot. I know other people in the same situation – I think part of the reason Hamilton became so big is that a lot of people who wouldn’t usually like these styles really found it surprisingly good.

          • Skef says:

            It’s Elemental, my dear Anonymous.

          • Gbdub says:

            Why does the fact that later songs reference earlier ones make it better/more complex? Heck, it mostly means you have to write fewer original bits. In any case callbacks like that are pretty standard in the musical repertoire, and the fact that they play on multiple meanings of “throwing away my shot” is clever but hardly transcendent.

            Anyway I listened to the soundtrack but it’s pretty bloody long and kind of repetitive (something I assume would be helped by actually seeing the show). It’s definitely fun and clever, but I do question the hype feedback loop around it with everyone falling all over themselves to assign ever more gilded superlatives.

            But the author of the critical piece drives me nuts. We can’t praise or explore the good aspects of anyone who held some views we now disagree with? It’s one thing to be cognizant that the founding fathers were slave owners. It’s another to claim that that makes them history’s greatest criminals. People need to be judged relative to their contemporaries, lest you want to rewrite history every 25 years (then again I suspect the critic would want that).

        • Catchling says:

          For what this is worth:

          1. I’m SJW-sympathetic and generally consider the Founding Fathers less than savory, if not entirely “unsavory”.

          2. I think Hamilton is overrated solely because of the cringeyness you mention — my initial reaction was that a lot of it felt like a high school project, although I do think there are some very good parts. (Actually, “corny but with good parts” is my take on most musicals; it’s a difficult form, period.) So I agreed with some of the piece’s artistic criticisms.

          3. I disagreed with the piece’s accusation that the show excessively celebrates the colonial leaders, mainly because I don’t begin to expect mainstream American works to have a seriously critical perspective of the Founders at all. Any slight inching in that direction is a pleasant suprise, not a bare minimum for decency. The writer doesn’t seem to have that mindset, and considers their own politics a natural baseline instead of the actual American mainstream. This part is key:

          The most obvious historical aberration is the portrayal of Washington and Jefferson as black men, a somewhat audacious choice given that both men are strongly associated with owning, and in the case of the latter, raping and impregnating slaves. Changing the races allows these men to appear far more sympathetic than they would otherwise be.

          I disagree precisely because of my SJ leanings. Contrary to the writer, I’d say that changing the races could make people of color more sympathetic to white audiences, since mainstream Americans idolize the Founders but still harbor subconscious pro-white biases.

          (Not sure how I’d feel about a Civil War play that cast Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis as black, though. That would probably cross a line for me. Maybe the difference is that it’s easier to tell a mostly true story that ignores white supremacy’s role in the American Revolution, than one that does so for Southern Secession.)

          Of course, either effect is probably minimal because (as has been pointed out here) most consumers of the musical are only hearing it, not seeing, so they’re not constantly made aware of the race of any of the cast anyway.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Much of the success of “Hamilton” with the kind of people who can afford a ticket to “Hamilton” (e.g., Wall Street types) is because it makes the most anti-democratic plutocratic Founding Father seem cool by turning him into an Honorary Nonwhite. As I wrote in Taki’s Magazine:

            A striking example of how identity politics turn in practice into the Zillionaire Liberation Front has emerged in the war over which Dead White Male to kick off the currency to make room for a woman: the $10 bill’s Alexander Hamilton or the $20’s Andrew Jackson. Bizarrely, the reactionary genius Hamilton, apostle of rule by the rich, is rapidly morphing in the conventional wisdom’s imagination into an Honorary Nonwhite.

            http://takimag.com/article/alexander_hamilton_honorary_nonwhite_steve_sailer/print#ixzz4Fqg5atH5

    • Franz_Panzer says:

      I second that question.

      What was mentioned upthread was that the writer claims that no one but a select few can ever experience it, which is wrong, since you can buy the soundtrack. I agree on that point, but other than that I couldn’t find what was so particularly wrong about that piece (I’m not American and don’t know the history as well, so there could be factual historical stuff I’m completely unaware of).

      Also, even with the point about how everyone can buy the soundtrack:
      It is arguably a different experience to listen to a couple of songs than to actually see a musical performance. I presume there are visual aspects that influence the story.
      Case in point: I only listened to two or three songs (I was not particularly impressed) and that there is a racial aspect to the casting, such as Jefferson being played by a black guy, has escaped me entirely until I read this.

      • Izaak Weiss says:

        This is a weird aspect of theatre fandom. Most people can’t see the show on broadway. Most theatre fans, therefore, listen to the soundtrack a lot before they ever see the show; it comes with the territory. I’ve lived my entire life listening to the soundtracks of shows long before I ever see them, if at all.

    • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

      So, having read that Hamilton piece, what’s actually wrong in it?

      From a SJ-Left framework? Nothing.

      But from the other side (most of the people here) it’s funny in the “ever escalating virtue signaling on the left” sense. And for a lot of SJ aligned people “The perfect is enemy of the good” finally starts making sense when they find something good that they like.

      • The Nybbler says:

        And here I thought that Hamilton, with its race-reversed casting, was intended to appeal to that group.

        • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

          It does, which is why most of them love it, but if you go Full Purity mode, it’d still be problematic, which this guy seems to be pointing out.

        • herbert herbertson says:

          That’s kind of the point of the article. It’s an appeal to the center/liberal left made through methods the far/illiberal left finds irritating, and speaks to a question that has always been central to the conflict between those two factions and is especially important right now with the candidacy of HRC: should hierarchies/institutions that are historically dominated by old white men be integrated, or should they be fought?

          • Gil says:

            Well it has been the suspicion of some that at the end of the day the goal of class warfare and its derivates is often to change the operators not the institution. Power is fun to wield (for some) after all.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      So for me that are a few small things wrong – I disagree with the writer in that I think Hamilton is good, they don’t understand that most people who like the play do so through the (free) soundtrack and that difficulty of seeing the play has nothing to do with it.

      But the big thing is that if some people like a play you don’t like, seriously, get over it. Or, like, criticize it if you want, but “You Should Be Terrified That The People Who Run Our Country Like Hamilton” is…a little much.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ll be honest, I just fully disregarded the headline because I know journalists don’t normally get to set their own headlines. It’s just reflexive with me at this point.

        (I’m not sure I get from the article that the writer doesn’t understand that the soundtrack is widely available. He gave me the impression of talking about the fact that like any musical, it’s a performance work at heart, and few people have seen it performed; I know I’ve read somewhere that Miranda’s actively resisted it being filmed because he feels that musicals should be experienced in person, which obviously doesn’t detract from the article’s point.)

        • The original Mr. X says:

          I’ll be honest, I just fully disregarded the headline because I know journalists don’t normally get to set their own headlines.

          I remember once I saw an article with the headline “A return to the death penalty? We shouldn’t be so complacent.”* The very first sentence ran “The death penalty almost certainly is not coming back.” Glad they cleared that up then…

          * This was in Britain, which doesn’t have the death penalty any more. In case that needed pointing out.

        • Izaak Weiss says:

          Well, you’re wrong about part of that, because Miranda had it filmed, and is working on a way of distributing it so that more people can see it.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        But the big thing is that if some people like a play you don’t like, seriously, get over it.

        Surely you’ve seen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0la5DBtOVNI

    • reytes says:

      For one thing, a lot of his argument seems to be:

      1) Captain Dan dressed up like a historical figure and rapped.
      2) Captain Dan is really bad and stupid and poorly thought-through and embarrassing.
      3) Therefore, since Hamilton also involves dressing up like historical figures and rapping, it must also be bad and stupid.

      Which just doesn’t actually follow. Because Hamilton is similar to Captain Dan on the face of it, but Hamilton differs because it is actually good and well executed. And (in addition to the generally good lyrics, emotional through-lines, word-play, etc that I’m sure other people will have mentioned) one of the particularly important differences is that Hamilton has thought through the connection between historical figures and rapping in a much, much, much deeper and more productive way than Captain Dan has. Captain Dan relies pretty much on the idea that rappers like money and violence and women and drinking and say the word “Ho”, and all of those things can be accurately said also of pirates. Hamilton actually goes to the effort of making the connection between hip hop narratives and immigrant narratives and the Revolutionary War period. And not only that but it goes to great effort to work out the details of that metaphor in terms of style and character and emotion. In other words, one of the things that Hamilton pulls off is that the link between its subject matter and style works on a deep level. It’s not just Founding Fathers rapping.

      The second thing that bothers me about the piece is its emotional tone. Because it doesn’t seem to be interested in seriously engaging with Hamilton. Rather, it mostly seems to operate in terms of coolness and uncoolness and shame and embarrassment. Way too much of the piece seems to be concerned with the idea that Hamilton is uncool and embarrassing but people aren’t embarrassed about it, and that this is bad. It’s just strange and frustrating. I don’t like how much of it is an out and out attempt to shame people.

      My final argument is that Hamilton contains “Wait For It”.

      In conclusion, I think Hamilton is good and the piece is bad for all of those reasons. Thank you for your time.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for this! It strikes me as quite articulate, and clarifies some of our differences. To wit:

        Captain Dan relies pretty much on the idea that rappers like money and violence and women and drinking and say the word “Ho”, and all of those things can be accurately said also of pirates. Hamilton actually goes to the effort of making the connection between hip hop narratives and immigrant narratives and the Revolutionary War period.

        Possibly one of the deep aesthetic disconnects here is that when written out that way Captain Dan sounds funny-if-shallow to me whereas the entire production of Hamilton comes off as an incredibly typical sophomoric attempt to be “deep”. I don’t see why there being the connection you describe underneath the costumes in Hamilton is supposed to make the actual spectacle of men rapping in 18th century garb any better or less cringey, and to be frank, it intuitively feels like a dodge.

        Or to put it another way, “It’s not just Founding Fathers rapping” sounds like it’s saying that *) Founding Fathers rapping is obviously bad and stupid per se *) but we have an excuse for enjoying it and *) that somehow makes it not stupid. Hopefully it’s obvious why someone would feel like this is a lot worse than just admitting that “yeah, I like some pretty stupid shit, what of it?”.

        Way too much of the piece seems to be concerned with the idea that Hamilton is uncool and embarrassing but people aren’t embarrassed about it, and that this is bad. It’s just strange and frustrating. I don’t like how much of it is an out and out attempt to shame people.

        Here again, I parsed that entire part of the argument as entirely different and you helped me figure out why. To me, the writer’s saying that since people regard one thing as embarrassing and uncool, then by rights the other thing, which (to the writer’s and my perceptions) is the exact same kind of thing but even worse should also be considered embarrassing and uncool by the same people, and so the fact that they don’t see it this way or discourse about it this way is evidence of something pretty bad. That is, I don’t think he’s trying to shame people, just get people to be consistent about their shaming. From over here it really does look like somebody’s trying to pull a serious fast one.

        I suppose the underlying suspicion here is that someone’s ashamed to just admit that he likes, effectively, Captain Dan, and instead, not only does he assert that his not!Captain Dan is totally different you guys but also somehow it’s prestigious and Important and socially aware. This will inevitably rub at least some and probably a lot of people the wrong way.

        • brad says:

          Wouldn’t the same arguments you are making here apply equally well to Les Mis? Or Norma for that matter?

          (N.B. I haven’t seen or listened to Hamilton, and I don’t intend to. Mostly because I don’t like rap.)

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not sure I understand the parallel you’re making. What modern politics/social issues (et cetera) is Les Mis supposed to have deep connections to? It seems like it’s just a straightforward period story set to music, to me anyway.

          • brad says:

            No, I was saying if both captain dan and Hamilton are cringey, embarrassing and uncool because people in period dress are singing, well that’s a lot of things.

            Is it the musical genre that’s supposed to make them especially bad?

          • hypersoar says:

            I will point out that I’m a fan of neither rap nor musical theater, but I love Hamilton. It’s not universally liked because it’s the founding fathers in hip-hop; it’s universally liked because it’s good.

          • Anonymous says:

            Brad: Oh, I see. And no; Les Mis is a musical too, of course. Rather, the main assertions are these:

            1. Captain Dan and Hamilton aren’t categorically different — thus the difference if any must be one of raw quality.

            2. There is not a notable quality difference. Hamilton’s raps are kinda clunky and terrible. This exacerbates

            3. Hamilton’s subject matter and mode of presentation comes off as a misambitious “creative” school report on civics — there’s something profoundly self-consciously virtue-signaling (one might say -blaring) about combining Founding Fathers with rap, highly-deliberate diversity and a hammered-in moral — which is smarmy and cringey.

            Les Misérables just seems to be trying to tell a good costume drama as well as possible, not upbraid you about blue-tribe values using a type of music that the show itself clearly sees as subversive, hip, and the voice of the downtrodden IN YOUR FAAAAAACE. I’d sooner liken Les Mis with the Bogart Maltese Falcon: they saw a book they liked and that seemed like it would work in the new medium, and they adapted it.

          • Nornagest says:

            In my admittedly limited experience, I think I’ve run across more musicals that are period pieces than that aren’t. By a factor of, like, four or five.

          • John says:

            Points two and three are both broken here.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            I think point 1 is incorrect — Les Mis and Hamilton are pretty definitely in the same category (musicals). Captain Dan is in a different category.

          • brad says:

            @Green Anonymous
            I think #2 is doing much of the heavy lifting. Sure you can tell a plausible story about how it’s heavy handed, but if it was really entertaining I don’t think it would matter. Or maybe there’s some interplay between the two? I don’t know.

            What are your thoughts on 1776? No cross race casting, no rap, but definitely a “go America” vibe more than “here’s a great story that happens to be about the Second Continental Congress”.

          • LHN says:

            Another data point: I like musicals, love history, have no interest in rap. I got the Hamilton cast album and then let it lie around for a month because I wasn’t sure that it would be something I liked, but finally decided to give it a go. I loved it.

            My nieces are also obsessed with it, and they’re a little young to be engaged in tribal posturing. (At least I prefer it to their previous, long “Phantom of the Opera” phase.)

            I’m now thinking that if I like this, I should try to get at least a basic cultural education in rap to see if it works for me when it’s not the backbone of a form I already enjoy. Is there a generally accepted Rap 101 list of classics? (Basically, “if you’ve tried all these and none of them have grabbed you, you probably don’t like the genre”?)

          • Anonymous says:

            if it was really entertaining I don’t think it would matter. Or maybe there’s some interplay between the two? I don’t know.

            I think my take on it is that nothing ham-fisted ever passes the quality filter – it’s inherently a quality sink. It seems to me that “don’t make ham-fisted message porn” is one of the really basic insights as to how to make good things, regardless of what kind of art it is. (Even propaganda. Ideally you don’t want your propaganda to come off as clunky and obvious.)

            What are you thoughts on 1776?

            Haven’t seen it, haven’t heard it, can’t judge it. Strictly on paper, though, I think “America: FUCK YEAH!” is less of a problem than “my politics, let me mash them in your face”, firstly because it’s not really partisan any more than the 4th of July is (as an aside, I think Republican outrage at certain things said by the blue camp is a totally unfeigned shock reaction to attacks on something they saw as an absolutely bedrock uniter of the tribes, the conviction that U! S! A! NUM! BER! 1!), and secondly because in away it’s not unlike “Jet planes! Fuck yeah!” or “John McClane! Fuck yeah!”: it’s just enthusiasm, not policy.

          • Broggly says:

            Wasn’t “Cool Considerate Men” controversial because it was seen as comparing Republicans to Loyalists?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @LHN
            I’m not a huge rap fan myself, but you should certainly try listening to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s previous musical In The Heights, and also a few of the songs that are referenced in Hamilton, the most noticeable ones being Biggie Smalls — Ten Crack Commandments (which Ten Duel Commandments is obviously based on), Grandmaster Flash — The Message, and Mobb Deep — Shook Ones Pt. II. If you like “edgy” music (e.g. Stravinsky, Eric Dolphy, weird discordant metal) you could try Clipping, a group which Daveed Diggs (Jefferson/Lafayette) is in.

            In general, if you just try listening to famous rappers (Biggie, Tupac etc.) you might be put off by gangstaish lyrics. Possible good ways to start are by listening to Wu-Tang Clan — Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Nas — Illmatic, A Tribe Called Quest — The Low End Theory, Mos Def — Black On Both Sides and Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp A Butterfly. If you are into jazz, also try Miles Davis — Doo Bop and Robert Glasper.

          • LHN says:

            @sweeneyrod Thanks for the suggestions!

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @brad:

            I haven’t seen or listened to Hamilton, and I don’t intend to. Mostly because I don’t like rap

            The idea that Hamilton is rap or is hiphop is just marketing fluff. A gimmick. Hamilton is actually a bog-standard musical which happens to in parts incorporate some elements of those genres.

            But there are entire songs in Hamilton that don’t resemble rap at all. For instance, consider listening to You’ll Be Back. It’s a love song effectively being sung by Britain towards America (Britain is mildly peeved at the whole wanting-to-break-up thing). This song is silly and catchy and fun and…has no relation to rap whatsoever. It’s just a broadway song. Give it a try!

        • Broggly says:

          I was already mad when he spent eight paragraphs making fun of Captain Dan.
          To me, the article read “You know how your tribe is terrible? And your proper place is to be publicly humiliated? The fact that anyone says they like what your tribe values means they’re stupid. Just look at the stupid and low-status activities your tribe engages in. Mainstream approval of your tribe is clear evidence that society is declining.”

          • Anonymous says:

            This I find much easier to understand — I even feel like most of what I wrote in the post you replied to is perfectly compatible with your point of view.

        • reytes says:

          Well, first of all, I don’t think the difference is just that Hamilton isn’t just Founding Fathers rapping; it is also different in that it is very, very good in terms of its execution, whereas Captain Dan et al are generally pretty bad in terms of execution. And I think that’s really important to bear in mind. I just don’t think it’s accurate to say that it’s a sophomoric attempt at being deep because I think it generally pulls off what it aims at. Pretty excellently, in fact.

          Second, I don’t want to say that the Founding Fathers rapping is intrinsically stupid; that’s not what I’m getting at here. What I mean when I say that Hamilton isn’t just the Founding Fathers rapping is that something that was just the Founding Fathers rapping would be, essentially, a novelty act – maybe a good novelty act, but a novelty act – and the fact that those deeper connections exist point towards the fact that Hamilton is in a basically different category of thing from novelty act. Which is more interesting and maybe more worth spending time paying attention to and thinking about. There is more going on there than the spectacle of seeing people from History, who would not usually rap, rapping.

          Third, I think that the concepts of cringiness and uncoolness are a major part of what we’re talking about here. But I think there’s also a lot of subjectivity to do with those things. I don’t think I can really convince anyone that Hamilton is objectively un-cringey – certainly I can get why it would look similar to a lot of things that are embarrassing, and that’s whatever. What I would say is that the reason I consider Captain Dan cringey, and Hamilton not, is that Captain Dan is so obviously and completely bad. Whereas I think Hamilton is not cringey because it’s very good. That’s my view of it.

      • Nornagest says:

        Captain Dan relies pretty much on the idea that rappers like money and violence and women and drinking and say the word “Ho”, and all of those things can be accurately said also of pirates.

        I don’t even think there’s anything wrong with this take! “The Iliad of MC Homer” (linked here a few months back) has basically the same premise, and it’s delightful.

        The real problem with nerdcore rap is just that most nerdcore artists are not very good as rappers. There’s nothing fundamentally bad about the subject matter; Del the Funky Homosapien is, by any realistic standard, a nerd who likes to rap about nerdy stuff (though he has a wider range than that), but he’s one of the cleverer lyricists I’m aware of.

    • WhatsaTararrel says:

      Not that it really gets at the larger idea of why the piece is annoying, but I would say it is inaccurate to claim “the Obama Administration’s unwavering support of free trade and the tariff-easing Trans-Pacific Partnership goes against everything Hamilton believed.” In his Report on Manufactures, Hamilton did encourage what are now known as “Infant Industry Tariffs”, which support the development of industries which may eventually be competitive on the world stage, at which point the tariffs would be repealed. From the Chernow biography on which the musical is based:

      For instance, knowing that tariffs taxed consumers and handed monopoly profits to producers, Hamilton wanted them to be moderate in scale, temporary in nature, and repealed as soon as possible…In some cases, he even wanted lower tariffs–on raw materials, for instance–to encourage manufacturing. (page 379)

      Hamilton was not opposed to free trade; he was strongly in favor of developing American manufacturing. Today, many economists support Infant Industry Tariffs in developing countries which do not have well functioning capital markets. (The thinking is that they are unnecessary in the presence of capital markets, because a company which will eventually be competitive can find investors to support them as they are developing.) The early United States did not have well functioning capital markets, which Hamilton was well aware of, as developing them was part of the impetus for his other major works, the Report on Public Credit and the creation of the Bank of the United States.

      Of course, it is impossible to say what a public figure who’s been dead for >200 years would think of today’s political climate, so I won’t try to claim definitively that Hamilton would today support the TPP. However, I think it’s absurd to say it “goes against everything [he] believed.” Hamilton believed strongly in supporting American industry. In the context of his time, that led him to support restrictions on free trade. In the context of our time, with our developed industries and strong financial sector, it may well lead him to the opposite conclusion.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @WhatsaTararrel:
        I just wanted to highlight this comment.

        I don’t know enough about Hamilton to offer anything substantive, but it seems well grounded and argued. If there are rebuttals I would like to hear them.

    • Wrong Species says:

      I have no opinion on the play and don’t share the authors politics but I agree with you.

    • MugaSofer says:

      It’s a well-written, entertaining piece, but it suffers from inferential distance.

      For example, the notion that slaveowners are not fit subjects for fictional portrayal, and that the idea of a historical musical is somehow risible rather than commonplace. These strike me as implausible, but they’re treated as obvious background assumptions the reader should already agree with.

      It also, as many, many people have pointed out, spends a great deal of time arguing that Hamilton is “inaccessible” to all but a handful of elites – and thus enthusiasm for it in the media shows they’ve become isolated from the common man – which is obviously, trivially, hilariously false.

  36. Davide says:

    The ‘Paradox of Disclosure’ is interesting, but I don’t see how it’s paradoxical at all.

    Don’t we generally expect others to have *some* kind of self-serving bias, and trust more people who admit it rather than present themselves as 100% unbiased?

    Doctors who disclose showing a stronger bias is hardly surprising, either.
    Makes perfect sense to me morally – it’s easier on one’s conscience to give someone a biased opinion *after* you just told them that’s exactly what you are likely to do.
    You did warn them, after all!

  37. Nestor says:

    The surgeon thing seems straightforward after reading a couple of “how to influence people” books, the surgeon makes a concession at the start of the “deal” by admitting his bias and this puts the patient in his debt, making them more likely to accept the offer.

    • Jiro says:

      That’s a post-hoc explanation–it only seems likely because you already have the fact that it’s trying to explain.

      • Nestor says:

        Maybe for you, but since I heard of the technique before I encountered these results, this is confirmation of it’s validity for me.

        Sure, correlation is not causation but “expert describes psychological manipulation technique X which produces result Y” and “Result Y is being obtained when people accidentally use psychological manipulation technique X” is the pattern matching I’m observing.

        Can’t help it!

        • Jiro says:

          Would you have thought that the technique was applicable in this situation before you encountered these results?

          • Jill says:

            I you had read Cialdini’s book, Influence, you would think so.

            That is one of the few things I like about Scott Adams, besides his comic strips– his persuasion reading list, which is where I found this book.

          • Nestor says:

            Yes, Cialdini was where I read about it.

        • LPSP says:

          In spite of the contrived assumptions it rests upon, when there are explanations that fit the evidence better and need no such hand-waving? (ie patients trust a man who doesn’t try to lie about something common and obvious)

    • Eric Rall says:

      I suspect it’s more related to a thing I read about a while back, that people perceive an purported expert to be more credible if he qualifies his statements. Probably based on pattern-matching him to the observation that actual experts tend to be formulate their thoughts precisely when talking about their fields of expertise.

      I think I read this in the context of commentary about the Most Interesting Man In the World character and the fact that his tagline “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis” was unusually qualified compared to other common taglines used by advertising mascots (e.g. Tony the Tiger’s “They’re GRRREAT!”). The conclusion was that the Dos Equis guy was being presented as an expert endorsement (albeit one made by a purpose-created fictional character), not as a traditional advertising mascot, and they way his tagline was phrased was intended to make him come across as a more credible endorser.

    • tgb says:

      The surprising thing there to me is that the one surgeon I know is emphatically anti surgery if it can be at all avoided. Particularly surgery in the stomach region, your extremities probably aren’t so bad. Surgery begets surgery, apparently.

  38. Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

    This SSC post “Div, Grad, and URL” affords a chance to eulogize the deceased astrophysicist William L. Burke (1941-1996), author of the seminal but never-printed textbook Div, Grad, Curl are Dead (1995). Alas Burke died, suddenly and unexpectedly in a car-crash, leaving behind galley-proofs of Div, Grad, Curl are Dead that (fortunately) still circulate on the internet.

    Div, Grad, Curl are Dead is studded with gemlike aphorisms:

    “The best way to learn a subject is to explain the subject to a naive listener. There is no posible listener more patient, more thorough, and more naive, than a computer algebra system.”
    ————
    “You may have taken a course on linear algebra. This to repair the omissions of such a course, which now is typically only a course on matrix manipulation. The necessity for this has only slowly dawned on me, as the result of email with local mathematicians along the lines of:
    Mathematician  When do you guys (scientists and engineers)
    treat dual spaces in linear algebra?
    Scientist  We don’t.
    Mathematician  What! How can that be?”

    Burke’s Preface approvingly quotes Walter Thirring (1978)

    The best and latest mathematical methods to appear on the market have been used whenever possible. In doing so many an old and trusted favorite of the older generation has been forsaken, as I deemed it best not to hand dull and worn-out tools to the next generation.

    Today’s students can scarcely appreciate Terry Tao’s recent writings, for example, without mastering the cognitive tools that Burke’s text was among the first to advocate. Concretely, Tao’s very recent “Finite time blowup for Lagrangian modifications of the three-dimensional Euler equation” (arXiv:1606.08481, 2016) adopts Burke’s no-div, no-grad, no-curl notations from start to finish.

    More generally — and perhaps more applicably for SSC readersnbsp;— Tao’s much-praised much-cited essay “What is good mathematics” provides a list of twenty-one traits of good mathematics, together with the caveat that such enumerations can never be complete:

    “Thus I believe that good mathematics is more than simply the process of solving problems, building theories, and making arguments shorter, stronger, clearer, more elegant, or more rigorous, though these are of course all admirable goals.

    While achieving all of these tasks (and debating which ones should have higher priority within any given field), we should also be aware of any possible larger context that ones results could be placed in, as this may well lead to the greatest long-term benefit for the result, for the field, and for mathematics as a whole.”

    Notably absent from Tao’s enumeration is any restriction of mathematical practice to ratiocination, and any very prominent grounding of mathematical practice in formal axioms. Instead Tao’s enumeration largely emphasizes modes of cognition that are inherently empathic — the “intuitive” cognition of “beauty”, “elegance”, and “insight” — cognition that amounts to caring for mathematics … in both senses of the word “caring”.

    The empathic cognition that grounds Tao’s “caring for mathematics”, and is naturally appreciated via the empathy-compatible cognitive tools of Burke’s post-div post-grad post-curl pedagogy; aren’t these empathic modes of cognition evident increasingly in many human disciplines? For philosophers, in the hilarity of Spinoza Societies? For physicians, in the pedagogic humanism of Osler Societies and the psychological solidarity of Balint Groups? For the humanities, upon the broad cognitive grounds of deconstructionism?

    If it is true that Div, Grad, Curl are Dead, then how can the narrow focus upon human cognition as ratiocination, and narrow views of human economic activity as market-optimization, be anything but moribund? And to the extent that rationalists care for rationality (in both senses of “caring”) then doesn’t it follow that rationalist cognition practically cannot be, and morally should not be, strictly rational?

    Thus modern-day rationalism is evolving — because perforce it must so evolve — to share the empathic cognition of the global communities that care for mathematics, care for medicine, care for economics, and care for philosophy. And the natural, universal toolset for empathic mathematical cognition that Burke’s text advocates and Tao’s texts embrace, is providing wonderful opportunities for young researchers (especially) to participate in this great adventure.

    • zz says:

      Div, Grad, Curl are Dead was all about giving new students the most up-to-date view of vector calculus, by including “the mathematics of the last three decades.” This was two decades ago.

      I’m recently the book’s target audience (traditional calculus and vector calculus, basic mechanics, electrodynamics, and optics). Is there a more up-to-date book I should be looking for?

    • LPSP says:

      The argument contradicts itself by talking about mathematics always been incomplete, but then treating mathematics/rationality as universal. It’s one or the other. Maths is generally a sort of compartmentalised thought, so incomplete and non-universal is the right answer. Rational meanwhile is meta-thought, and so hard calculations for limited systems are weighed up against rule-of-thumb understandings for conveniant use and against experience-earned knowledge that is difficult to put into words but which clearly pays dividends in practice (ie inconsistent and inexplicity systems respectively).

      Doing math well is understanding that all our rules and formulations only work on one little island in the archipelago of our science, and no matter how reliably they perform on one, they break down on another. Doing rationality well is understanding that math can’t do everything, and that math can do many things with unmatched quality, and weighing it off against other thought tools.

  39. j r says:

    … this implies our economy is otherwise much stronger than we would think by comparing it to past years’ statistics. I’ve lost the study now, but I also remember seeing people claim that almost all of Japan’s recent stagnation is due to an aging population rather than more purely economic factors.

    I’m not sure that this implies any such thing, but I guess it depends what you mean by strong. An aging population is an economic factor. People age out of the work force and unless they are replaced by more people or by more productive people, economic growth slows down.

  40. U. Ranus says:

    Behavioral activation: not surprised. Behaviorists may be the most under-appreciated of psychologists. If my anecdotal evidence from “talking to people” is worth anything, a major reason is that folks just hate this idea that people…humans… oh, glorious humans… could ever under any circumstance be that… simple.

    “You’re damn right, people aren’t that simple! Now buzz off so I can get back to compulsively pecking keys on my smartphone…”

    Anyway. My guess/prediction is that this is a robust result.

    • David Condon says:

      Another possibility is that counseling as a science is greatly overrated. Behavioral activation is just as good because every reasonable approach is just as good.

      The benefit of behavioral activation therapy is that you can teach it to someone in about 5 minutes.

  41. reytes says:

    RE: the Hamilton thing, I suspect the Current Affairs piece is less a seriously ideological issue, and more a result of the fact that some people who post on the Internet a lot have a tendency to be massively contrarian. And many of them are also good at coming up with coherent arguments to justify said contrarianism. This will come, I’m sure, as shocking news to posters here.

    I think there are also probably some issues that the hard left does have with Hamilton (general suspicion of positive mythologizing of American history, ideological discomfort with constitutionalism, etc) but in the instance of the Current Affairs piece, I’m not sure that even enters into it.

    RE: that @wint post, that really doesn’t seem to be exceptionally bad by the standards of dumb internet posting. But maybe my standards are too low.

    • herbert herbertson says:

      I mean, part of the context of that is that dril is possibly the most well and widely known of all the Weird Twitter people. It’s like if Andy Kaufman said “no bitch, i’m seriously boycotting the keebler elves for being jewish” and was met with aghast accusations of fascism.

      • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

        What is a Weird Twitter?

        • herbert herbertson says:

          A constellation of surrealist, reasonably popular Twitter users. Some are leftist, some are apolitical. Pretty sure most if not all of them came from SomethingAwful’s FYAD and various “FYAD-lite” subfora (which were in turn the primary ancestors of 4chan-style humor)

      • reytes says:

        I agree that it’s bad! I’m not sure it’s exceptionally bad. But really I guess that’s a pretty useless, personal line to try to demarcate so

    • johnny tesla says:

      The Current Affairs piece was written by another Weird Twitter goon, who goes by @Lowenaffchen on Twitter. Here’s him enjoying the fruits of a troll well done
      To summarise Scott’s reactions:
      Link1: Hahaha, those oversensitive peasants don’t know when they’re being trolled by inimitable dril.
      Link2: You can’t say that about Hamilton! It only sounds stupid when it’s written down!!!

  42. Nornagest says:

    It’s hard to lower my faith in humanity after – well, after 2016 – but the Twitter comments on this @dril tweet about the Keebler Elves might have managed. Warning: kind of high-context.

    (((Godzilla))).

    Am I doing this right?

    • Guy says:

      I think you might want (((Gojira))).

      (((Seriously, though, a clear explanation of who in that conversation is and is not trolling would be lovely)))

      • akarlin says:

        (((I))) don’t know (((who)))’s ((()))ing (((who))) anymore.

        • Dan T. says:

          I, for one, am getting (((really))) (((sick))) of the ironic/satiric/protest use of multiple parentheses, which to this day still turns up heavily in my social media feeds (mostly from people putting the parentheses around their own name/handle). Doing it for a couple of days was a clever rebuttal to the original antisemitic use of it, but it’s long ago “jumped the shark” and is just tiresome, and sometimes you can’t even easily tell who’s doing it ironically and who is actually some sort of scummy bigot.

          • Lumifer says:

            I blame a secret conspiracy by LISP people.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            and sometimes you can’t even easily tell who’s doing it ironically and who is actually some sort of scummy bigot.

            Perfect.

          • Skef says:

            Hey, LISP folks have their faults, but they’re not unbalanced.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            (((John McCarthy))) is Jewish, by the way.

          • Guy says:

            I always thought it would be more of a nose tweak (and a better signal) to invert the parenthesis, rather than leaving them as the … coincidentalists … wanted them. Of course, I was never in a position where it made sense to try that.

          • Rowan says:

            @Guy

            I remember seeing some alt-right twitter with )))inverted parentheses((( on their username, it seemed to suggest “the Jewish conspiracy is everywhere around me”. Might have, in retrospect, been someone in a different subset of the alt-right who was trying to nose-tweak the neo-nazis, but it definitely reads more to me as just a variation on the “coincidence” message rather than anti-racist.

          • Soumynona says:

            More like a conspiracy of Scheme programmers:

            (define (Some-Person)
            (lambda () (lambda () "Secretly a Blub fan")))

            (((Some-Person)))

            The equivalent wouldn’t work in Common Lisp because function names live in separate namespace and don’t get evaluated.

            I suppose Haskell programmers would stigmatize people by attaching type signatures to them, like:

            Bad Person :: () -> () -> () -> ()

            That does look unpleasantly imperative. Exactly the sort of person to shun.

          • Guy says:

            @Rowan:

            Well in that case, {([fuck everything])}.

      • U. Ranus says:

        Trolls? Trolls? Who cares! Look, there’s NAZIS IN MY MENTIONS!

    • Julie K says:

      (((I))) hope that guy also avoids anything invented by the (((people))) on this list of some of the most important lifesaving advances in the history of science, medicine, and technology.

      • Rowan says:

        I hope you’re just operating on a level of irony higher than I can perceive and/or trying to troll us, because I thought SSC commenters were smarter and/or less blindly tribal than that.

        • Anonanon says:

          Yeah, comments like that really let down The SSC Tribe. Worse, they make us look bad in the eyes of those disgusting outsiders who aren’t of The Tribe.
          We can’t allow anyone to think we’re blindly tribalist.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          I personally think anti-semites are acceptable targets for snide comments. If the snark against e.g. feminists goes away maybe they will become a higher priority. But for now I think people saying “actually Jews aren’t inherently bad” is pretty low on the list of stupid tribal things people say on SSC.

          • MugaSofer says:

            >I personally think anti-semites are acceptable targets for snide comments.

            It somewhat undermines this goal if snide comments about them become proof that you, yourself, are somehow anti-semetic.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            I thought the point was that the tweet was ironic, so it was an overreaction. It wasn’t?

          • Nornagest says:

            Honestly, I just think it’s funny. It’s so naive and easily abused that I can’t even take it seriously as anti-semitism; it’s like getting attacked by a month-old kitten.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @MugaSofer

            I think one of us is misunderstanding the other. I’m not claiming that Julie (or Rowan) is anti-semitic, but that Julie’s snide comment against twitter guy is an acceptable level of “blind tribalism”.

          • Rowan says:

            People feeling the need to say “actually Jews aren’t inherently bad” in response to an absurdist joke about the (((Keebler elves))) is stupidity and blind tribalism. That might have to some extent been excusable for lack of context of who @dril is, but the link came with a “high context” warning so that excuse is revoked.

        • Jill says:

          Smart people are no less likely to be blindly tribal than anyone else. The U.S. is super tribal right now– smart people included. Maybe SSC commentators are too smart to have to breathe oxygen too? In the U.S. today, being hyper-tribal is al;most as common as Breathing oxygen.

          • Rowan says:

            I think you’ve misread me, I said “smarter and/or less blindly tribal” specifically to indicate that intelligence doesn’t preclude tribalism (otherwise I could have just said “smarter”).

  43. akarlin says:

    There’s a widespread theory that the Flynn effect doesn’t apply to East Asians but it is almost certainly wrong.

    South Korea has improved massively in the past 50 years (more so than any OECD country, as might be expected since it was by far the poorest amongst them that far back).

    Vietnam however is a genuine puzzle.
    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/genetics-iq-and-convergence/

    Vietnam: Phenotypic IQ of 99, versus a genotypic IQ of 106. Certainly a major surprise, considering it is even higher than China. The gap is substantial, but smaller than in India or Africa. This is not surprising, since although Vietnam has the GDP per capita (PPP) of India, it is led by conscientious Communists and is much better off in terms of social development and nutrition (e.g. meat consumption per person is equivalent to that of neighboring, much richer countries). This makes its excellent performance in PISA 2012, which I wrote about in my introductory post on this site, much easier to explain. Consequently, it would also be a strike against Ron Unz’s theory of the East Asian Exception (i.e. that East Asian IQs are very resilient to negative socio-economic and environmental factors). There would still be a substantial gap between Vietnamese genotypic and phenotypic IQ; it’s just that the former are so phenomenally high that the latter can’t help but be very high as well, since Vietnam is at least in terms of social provision no longer a truly Third World country.

    + Sailer’s remarks about Vietnam’s missing test-takers, might be enough to explain this.

    • MawBTS says:

      Why would we ascribe East Asian increases to the Flynn Effect? Nobody knows what the Flynn Effect is but it’s definitely not “rural backwaters becoming industrialised” or “communist hellholes becoming capitalist” – and those two scenarios describe many East Asian countries.

  44. MawBTS says:

    If anyone’s interested in class-A twitter trolling, Scott Adams has claimed he can master any political topic in one hour.

    https://twitter.com/ScottAdamsSays/status/758665517188034560

    Read the replies. Holy shit, READ THE REPLIES. There are ISIS decapitation videos that didn’t provoke this level of white-knuckled, keyboard-slamming rage.

    Frankly, the fact that Trump hasn’t picked Scott Adams or Milo Yiannopoulos as a running mate makes me lose respect for the man. Doesn’t he know by now that his platform is about trolling? It’s like discovering that your favourite pop singer doesn’t know the words to her own songs.

    • E. Harding says:

      Pence was just a hack to placate the GOP establishment and to bore the rest to sleep. No reasonable delegate could vote against him in the acclamation and while he is a liability for the ticket and by no means emphasizes Trump’s message (just the opposite, in fact), he shows that there is room for intellectual diversity in the Trump administration.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Trump has actually started really boring me lately. If he just says moderately offensive comments about as bad as his last moderately offensive comments, there’s no fun in that. I’m not sure if this is good or bad for Trump; I feel like he relies on a sort of “OMG what is this guy going to do next?” kind of appeal.

      • MawBTS says:

        Same. Offending people is a downright Sisyphean endeavor.

        The first swear word on a rap album was shocking. The 3257th swear word was just background noise.

      • Vaniver says:

        You understand that he’s actually trying to win, right? This is his pivot to being presidential.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I understand, but I’m not sure to what degree he’s a one-trick-pony and that pony is getting free media attention and votes from disgruntled people by being unpredictable and offensive. There’s no way he can compete in the looking-presidential stakes against real politicians.

          • Exit Stage Right says:

            I don’t think he needs to look more presidential than Clinton (to her credit, that’d be quite challenging). He just needs to look presidential. I think its a binary thing, he’ll either look enough the part or he won’t

            The free media attention didn’t fall out of the sky, he or someone advising him correctly guessed that his antics could earn him a lot of what others have to pay for. But will he still get as much of it if now that he’s trying to look composed is the thing…he might be caught in a bind, where he can either look presidential or get free attention, but not both

          • He needs to get voters to “think past the sale” and imagine him as president and this will automatically cause voters to think of Trump as presidential. The best indication of this working is journalists occasionally referring to him as “President Trump.” Clinton seems to be helping with this strategy when she asks voters to imagine how horrible a president Trump would be.

          • Jill says:

            It is quite possible that Trump could win due to the massive anti-government sentiment among the public– something that has been stoked high by past GOP candidates for both Congress and the presidency. But now this sentiment has turned against establishment Republicans also.

            A large number of people are so ticked off at government that they WANT to elect someone who is not presidential or governmental seeming in any way. They have been thoroughly convinced by propaganda that government is evil and that they have to send a GOOD person to fix it i.e. one who has never gotten his hands dirty by having any experience in it or knowledge of it.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Jill

            Well, you have half an acorn there. It’s true that the GOP has positioned itself as the party of small government and “government is the problem”. However, you’re mistaken in thinking the stoking of this sentiment is responsible for some anti-government sentiment among the public. In fact, I don’t see such sentiment as being popular among the public. Bernie Sanders is quite pro-government-solution, Democratic Socialist on the European model. Hillary is pro-government-solution on the standard Democratic model. And Trump is calling for government solutions as well.

            A large number of people are ticked off at the establishment, but not because of GOP support for anti-government sentiment. They’re ticked off at the establishment because it has not delivered them what it promised or what they wanted. Core Trump supporters want tougher immigration enforcement; other Trump supporters are angry at the GOP for not successfully pushing back against the Democrats on various issues from taxes to Obamacare to gay marriage. Disaffected Democrats wanted things like single-payer healthcare (few like Obamacare as passed), and an end to drone strikes and the various wars the US is involved with. So yeah, the establishment isn’t real popular now, but that’s because they didn’t do what the people they claimed to represent wanted.

          • Jill says:

            Nybbler I agree that there are reasons to be ticked off at the government for not doing what you want. But the hatred of government goes far beyond that. Propaganda always starts with an acorn that is there and then grows it into a much larger tree than it would have been otherwise.

            The Norm Ornstein article in Vox I’ve been citing describes how Newt Gingrich started the current wave of government hatred. And it’s gone on and grown in size ever since he began it.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Jill – Remember how Obama’s presidential slogan was Hope and Change? I do, I voted for him. I don’t think you can blame that on Gingrich. Not saying the Gingrich part didn’t exist, though it was something Gingrich tapped rather than creating out of whole cloth, but that only explains half the unrest.

          • Wilj says:

            I don’t think Republican anti-government rhetoric has much to do with it at all. It’s anti-establishment sentiment more than anti-government per se.

          • Jill says:

            “I don’t think Republican anti-government rhetoric has much to do with it at all. It’s anti-establishment sentiment more than anti-government per se.”

            It’s both. Some is due to frustration that government doesn’t do what citizens want, even when most of us want a particular thing. But some of it is due to intentional propaganda that’s been going on for decades. No one believes in propaganda in U.S. culture though, or believes it has an effect, because we are such an active non-reflective culture that we don’t see it, even when immersed in it.

            Okay here is Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, on how Gingrich engineered this. I was citing a vox article before and people wouldn’t read it because they think it’s liberal biased. So I am trying another publication.

            http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/the-eight-causes-of-trumpism/422427/

            I hope there are some publications other than the Right Wing ones like Breitbart, that people will be willing to read here.

            Otherwise no one will ever read any of the facts that are inconsistent with the Right Wing narrative. Because Right Wing publications will never publish those, and will sometimes make up lies to try to push people away from the truth.

            In this time of polarization, people don’t care WHAT is said. Facts are unimportant. All that matters is WHO or WHICH TRIBE said it. I find that highly frustrating.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Jill:

            Okay here is Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, on how Gingrich engineered this.

            Are you familiar with the Great Man theory of politics? There’s a popular variant I like to call the Evil Wizard theory of politics. Evil Wizard Theory says that if you have political views and the public-at-large disagrees with your views, it must be because there is an Evil Wizard somewhere casting spells to fool the public into believing all these obviously false things.

            If we could just identify who the Evil Wizards are and pull back the curtain to reveal that they are indeed pulling strings and casting spells back there, why then naturally the populace will realize how silly they’ve been and come to their senses and start believing true stuff instead. True stuff like what we believe, since we certainly aren’t under the influence of any Evil Wizards at all. Nope, not a one. Trust us! (And don’t look behind that curtain!)

            Some top contenders proposed for the job of Evil Wizard over the years have included:

            The Koch Brothers
            Richard Mellon Scaife
            George Soros
            Fox News
            The mainstream media/MSM
            Rush Limbaugh
            Newt Gingrich
            Paul Krugman
            Ayn Rand
            Milton Friedman

            The basic strategy is to take any popular view and find somebody who is especially rich, especially smart or especially popular who is suspected to hold a similar view, point your fingers and say “HE DID IT! It’s all HIS fault! Wake up sheeple!!!”

            Norm Ornstein is clearly an adherent of Evil Wizard Theory; he (dubiously) identifies Newt Gingrich as the Evil Wizard who caused everybody to become all partisan when one of his spells backfired back in 1994.

            If Evil Wizard Theory were true, identifying Gingrich as the Evil Wizard might cause his influence to disappear in a puff of smoke whereupon everybody who has read that article you kept linking would wake up in a daze and decide to, I dunno, vote for Hillary?

            But here’s my question for you: what if Evil Wizard Theory isn’t true? Or if it is, what if Gingrich *isn’t* the relevant wizard but is just one more sad sack operating under the influence of a spell cast by a different wizard?

            When you post links to an Evil Wizard Gingrich essay, what outcome are you hoping to achieve? Do you see any evidence that you’re getting that outcome?

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Follow-up question: When you link for the hundredth time to an Evil Wizard Gingrich essay, what outcome are you hoping for that the first 99 links failed to produce?

          • anonymous says:

            She’s trying to direct your attention to the SSC commentariat’s politicsl power uncle. The cranky young on the alt-right need to know where the chip on their shoulder was first shorn. The lessons Gingrich taught in his college course “Renewing American Civilization” were poisonous to a pertinent threshhold. Your insistence that politics have always been mean is even part of the script.
            You may believe the narrowly directed vindictive rage you feel towards imagined liberals is part of some zeitgeist, but its snot.
            The problem is you’re performing in a remake of a hallmark hateflick script written by denture-wearing silent generation ratfuckers, and you don’t know it.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @anonymous:

            The cranky young on the alt-right need to know where the chip on their shoulder was first shorn. […]
            You may believe the narrowly directed vindictive rage you feel towards imagined liberals is part of some zeitgeist, but its snot.

            Sorry, but no. Just, no.

            I was born a liberal. My parents are still liberal – they ran phone banks for the local Democratic party during elections. My default assumption is that everybody I meet in real life is probably a liberal unless given strong contextual reasons to think otherwise. Hell, I went to UC Berkeley. So if anything, for me it’s republicans and/or conservatives who are imagined – I’ve only ever met a few in real life.

            Gingrich taught his course in the 1990s, but I was already Libertarian by then. I became libertarian from reading Milton Friedman (Free to Choose, Capitalism and Freedom), Hayek (Road To Serfdom), Heinlein (Moon is a Harsh Mistress), David Friedman (Machinery of Freedom), and a bunch of random other stuff ordered from Laissez-Faire Books. And also from arguing politics online (eg talk.politics.misc) where it seemed like the libertarians always had the best arguments.

            Near as I can tell, I became a libertarian from absorbing the exact same zeitgeist Gingrich did. Libertarians just seemed to have the best arguments. In retrospect I realize that some of this was due to the same sort of selection bias that makes people find Marx or Chomsky compelling – when your views are far enough out of the mainstream that nobody takes you seriously, debates become one-sided. Libertarians can’t help but grok liberal ideas better than liberals grok libertarian ideas when the libertarians are outnumbered by 20 to 1 or more and weren’t born libertarian.

            I remember politics as pretty mean and scary in the 1980s and history suggests it has been similarly so in various times past (eg, the 1924 Democratic convention that broke out in fistfights and required 103 ballots) I don’t doubt that Gingrich has been influential but he’s just not the Evil Wizard that Jill makes him out to be. He was surfing a wave. Lots of people were influenced by a Friedman or two, Hayek, Mises, and Rand without getting that influence by way of Gingrich. People only focus on him for the same reason they focus on the Kochs – it’s scary to think that people might disagree with you for rational reasons of their own. Somehow it’s comforting to think your enemies have fallen under the power of a specific Dark Emperor. It’s also great propaganda to blame all the evils of the world on specific influential Bad People, because then you can dismiss every argument on the other side and turn off your brain. “Oh that? They’re just saying that because they’ve been corrupted by Ayn Rand/Mises/Gingrich/Koch.” It saves the trouble of actually answering arguments when just identifying the source (and calling it “toxic” or “poisonous”) does all the work.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Amen

      • The Nybbler says:

        He’s doubled down on admiration of Putin; that counts for something.

      • I’ve been wondering that myself.

        Also, two people in my social circle who were pro-Trump have decided not to vote for him. Neither of them are planning to vote for Clinton.

        I realize this is a tiny biased sample, but what has anyone else seen?

      • Tibor says:

        Well, if Trump is tuning his rhetoric down, it might be an evidence of shifting from energizing his hard-core supporters and reaching out to the undecided voters. Becoming a little boring might be exactly what he needs now.

        None of the hard-core supporters is going to vote for Clinton or even Johnson so he now has to concentrate on getting the extra few. Some former Sanders supporters might actually prefer Trump to Clinton (let alone Johnson) if he makes some nods in their way. Since, at least in my opinion, Trump does not actually have any actual political agenda (except for making himself president for the sake of being president), this gives him a lot of maneuvering space. The Sanders supporters who are also “anti-establishment” above all else (and also rather protectionist) might be the easiest to reach.

      • Luke the CIA stooge says:

        There is a certain art to trolling people once you get into high level play. Essentially your trying to say the kinda thing that would drive them literally insane. Like the kinda thing they would read in a necronomicon that’s changing it’s content specifically to drove them mad.

        Like trump already has the “we’re living in the 1980’s dystopian satire of 2016” thing going so if he could like appoint Caitlyn Jenner as his special ambassador, or Milo Yiannopolis as his press secretary, with Barrack Obama’s republican half-brother as an advisor, and then get all of his supporters to wear a weird trump brand uniform (actually just a Polo shirt). Then I’m sure he could give the left that creeping feeling that nothing they know about the world is right, and dark powers run the world completely beyond their understanding. He could then release his own TRUMP-BRAND “2016 declaration of independence” and I’m sure some head would explode/vote trump out of madness.

        Most people aren’t baysian thinkers, for them the absurdity heuristic is reality, if trump pushes a bit further then “reality” will just collapse on them.

      • TomFL says:

        It works both ways. There is almost no possible Trump media takedown that hasn’t already been tried eleventeen different ways by every news organization and pundit.

        They have turned the volume up to 11 and it isn’t any different than 10 as it turns out. They started going Hitler months ago, and there just isn’t very much past that. At this rate they are going to have to resort to saying he is worse than global warming, which will be just about as effective.

        Maybe I’m a bit of a cynic, but I am not waiting on pins and needles for all the media presidential endorsements to come rolling in. As Wall Street would say, the voters have factored in the media’s opinion already so the stock’s value won’t change.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Media which would otherwise go Republican but can’t abide Trump would do better to endorse Gary Johnson rather than Clinton, to try to split the vote. But they won’t, because a viable Libertarian candidate is a greater threat to the establishment than a President Trump.

          • Jill says:

            Agreed. A President Trump would be no threat whatsoever to the establishment. He would just sit there and take in all the glory. Someone else– probably an establishment person– Pence?– would be doing all the work.

          • Civilis says:

            It would help if the Libertarian Party had found at least one red-tribe libertarian, rather than running two blue-tribe, or at least very bluish, former Republicans.

            I see a lot of noise from red-tribe libertarian leaning people complaining about Johnson’s very odd for a libertarian stands on some issues where he thinks government power should be used. Some will no doubt end up voting for him, but they won’t be as enthusiastic about spreading the word.

            On the other hand, those blue-tribe signals make it easier for the media to throw the Libertarian Party a bone, which may earn them more votes in the long run.

          • Letmepost Letmepostsky says:

            I remember my libertarian online friends crying/laughing at Gary Johnson and saying they lost all their faith in Libertarian party.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Well, I’m sort of Libertarian and think Gary Johnson is great. Of course, my options last election were between a more protectionist and slightly more conservative version of the Democratic Party, a literal fascist and Hugo Chaves’ best friends, so I’m far more forgiving of small things like forcing to bake gay cakes.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I think I just realized that you (Scott Alexander) really actually don’t think just about anything matters.

        What I mean by that is, despite caring about EA, rationality, ideas, the importance of reasoned and careful decision, you really do think things will just happen as they are going to and whether or not Trump gets elected really won’t have any meaningful consequences in terms of how people’s lives unspool.

        Not in a “no free will” “deterministic universe” kind of way, but in a “genetics determine the vast majority of everything about a person” kind of way.

        You don’t think it matters who is elected President.

        Honestly, it’s the only way I can make sense of what you says your positions are, given the what you actually seem to care about (i.e. the times when you display genuine emotions about things, as you do here).

        Maybe it’s just a spectrum thing and I can’t read you properly.

        • Glen Raphael says:

          @HeelBearCub writes (about Scott):

          You don’t think it matters who is elected President.

          I can’t speak for Scott, but I certainly think that.

          It doesn’t matter who is elected President.

          National electoral politics are a form of entertainment, not a way to promote positive change in the world. And by that metric, Trump vs Sanders might have been the best outcome – it had more entertainment potential. Trump vs Clinton is bound to disappoint – Trump can’t live up to his full entertainment potential without a proper nemesis.

          I don’t vote, but I think it’d be fun if Trump wins because I’d like to see how his detractors explain what happened when the country continues to run pretty much exactly the same as it did before.

          Okay, maybe it doesn’t matter is slightly too strong a claim. In truth, it might matter who wins for president, but there’s no way to know if it did matter – or if so who might have been better – other than in retrospect after the fact.

          One of the issues here is preference-falsification. Candidates are experts in saying whatever they think voters want to hear and voters are experts at saying whatever they think will make them look good to their friends. Given that dynamic, it would be an amazing coincidence if what the candidates in their secret hearts actually wanted to do matched what the voters in their secret hearts actually wanted them to do.

          (Given general economic ignorance it would also be a hell of a coincidence if what the voters really want turned out to be good policy.)

          Besides, 90% of what presidential candidates promise is stuff they don’t have the power to do. What they can actually do and what they are inclined to actually do will depend on the facts on the ground and what they are told by the bureaucracy and what Congress and the courts let them do and what we say we want Congress and the courts to let them do.

          George W. Bush claimed to be “against nation building”. Obama promised to close Gitmo. This is the way things usually work – major party presidential candidates are entirely unaccountable for anything they say on the campaign trail, so you can’t judge based on that. You can, perhaps, try to guess what they really want – no matter how many meta levels you have to descend to get there – and simultaneously guess what policy the country will really need during their term and see which match works best…or you can give up and call it entertainment.

          Me, I give up and call it entertainment.

          • Anonymous says:

            Hard boiled cynicism is really cool. I mean it’s best if you can do it in a dimly lit cafe in Paris smoking a cigarette, but online works too.

            Meanwhile, things do collapse. Civis romanus sum means nothing today. And it isn’t just some random happening that no one could have predicated nor some inevitable historical process.

            It turns out having totally insane leaders that declare themselves gods and their horses Senators isn’t such a great idea. Who’d have thunk it, right?

            Caring is so uncool so I’ll be over there with a bucket of popcorn.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Look at the large promises Obama made while running for president. Not what people thought he would do, not vague emotional statement, but actual policy proposals.

            The policy proposals he emphasized the most were passed in great numbers, and following the outline of what he promised. Executive actions were largely along the lines he promised as well.

            W. Bush implemented many of his campaign promises, and attempted to get passed even more of them. His actions post 9/11 were at least somewhat predictable based on how he campaigned (and who he selected as VP).

            SCOTUS justice vacancies, always very important, were filled in a manner one would expect based on how the two presidents campaigned.

            I think you are selecting and highlighting things that they did not accomplish as if passing 0, 25, 50, 75 or 90 percent of your promised policies is equivalent. This is not true.

            Also, none of this is very relevant to my point about Scott, since I suspect he thinks the policies that do pass don’t matter either.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Anon:
            The institutions themselves matter, and we should still try to invent better ones. It’s important that somebody fills the role of President – it’s just not so important who. We’re a nation of laws, not men, remember? Our president is not a King, he or she is just some dude or dudette with a relatively small organizational role to play.

            It’s kind of like the terrorism issue. Who the president is only matters because we collectively decide to care what the President says about stuff. The country doesn’t need an annual State of the Union address. Or a photo op where the president expresses grief over some random tragedy. The country did fine when the President wasn’t expected to do those things. (Why not give somebody else the job of emoter-in-chief – is Morgan Freeman available?) As for speechifying, the president could just write Congress an email if and when he actually has something important to say.

            The country wouldn’t collapse if we picked the president at random out of the phone book. It’s just a job. No biggie.

          • Anonymous says:

            Okay, I guess my accusation of cynicism were out of line. That’s completely not what’s going on. On the contrary you seem to have so much faith in the United States system that you think it can survive anything. But I think you are dead wrong there. Many many countries purport to be “nations of laws, not men” yet plenty of them have managed to fall apartment when they get a bad leader. Venezuela, Turkey, France, Greece and many others.

            We aren’t a nation blessed by history to always and forever have peaceful transfers of power, a military that keeps out of politics, and judges whose rulings are respected. These things have to be maintained.

            The system can deal with good natured incompetence a la Ronald Reagan, they’ll always be experts around. It can, with some difficulty, deal with the occasional Richard Nixon. But in the grand scheme of things Richard Nixon was relatively benign. Get someone any more malicious than that and he could do some real damage.

            There’s no coordination mechanism for us all to decide collectively that we don’t care what the President says. Unless that spontaneously happens it is still going to matter very much what he says and orders people to do.

          • Jiro says:

            The policy proposals he emphasized the most were passed in great numbers, and following the outline of what he promised.

            Yeah, shutting down Guantanamo did really well. And ending the surveillance state.

          • Jill says:

            Who benefits when you give up and call the presidential election in the most powerful nation on earth, just entertainment?

            I think the most successful propaganda of our time is the propaganda persuading people NOT to vote. Highly successful. And the party that benefits is likely the one doing it– the one that is an election winning machine. The one that dominates both Houses of Congress, most governorships, most state legislatures, and SCOTUS until just recently.

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2014/11/10/voter-turnout-in-2014-was-the-lowest-since-wwii/

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jiro:
            Did you read past the first sentence in my post?

            Or are you deliberately ignoring where I already addressed the fact that being able to point to some specific things that were not implemented is a) not evidence for the what happened with other campaign promises, and b) not evidence for what that president attempted to do.

            Engage with the actual argument.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Anon:

            We aren’t a nation blessed by history to always and forever have peaceful transfers of power, a military that keeps out of politics, and judges whose rulings are respected. These things have to be maintained.

            Sure. But…you know the hygiene hypothesis? The idea that when kids eat dirt, it strengthens their immune system making them healthier in the long run?

            Trump is that dirt.

            Our system of government incorporates checks against excessive executive power. Since the system was deliberately designed to survive an occasional terrible president, terrible presidents aren’t our chief danger.

            Perhaps we should fear competent presidents.

            See, when we elect a president who seems unusually capable and smart and caring we’re tempted to let things slide, just let them have their way, let them do what they want. So even though mechanisms exist that could control a bad president, we’re reluctant to use them. We let those mechanisms fall into disrepair out of “respect for the office”.

            Remember how impeaching Bill Clinton seemed like a big deal at the time? It shouldn’t have. We need that sort of exercise to occasionally knock things down a peg or two.

            And electing a real nincompoop might be just the ticket. It’s the best way I can think of to massively reduce our collective overinflated respect for the office and remind everyone that the President isn’t in charge of the country.

            They can’t all be winners. Eventually we will elect a much worse-than-average president. So why not do it sooner than later, get it over with, and…stimulate our political immune system?

            One argument for Hillary is “she’s a lot like Obama, who was a lot like Bush, and we’ve survived them all so far”.

            That is also an argument for Trump. 🙂

          • Jill says:

            “Since the system was deliberately designed to survive an occasional terrible president, clearly terrible presidents aren’t our chief danger.”

            No, it wasn’t. it was designed to survive an occasionally bad president, not an occasionally terrible one. There are limits to what it can survive, especially given that the president has the nuclear codes. Someone very impulsive or with very poor judgment could easily cause WWIII in that situation.

            But I guess people are complacent about putting their hand on a hot stove until they are burned badly. I hope we end up with Hill, even though I prefer Bernie, because we’d certainly be able to survive that burn. The other one, I am not so sure.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            I think you are selecting and highlighting things that they did not accomplish as if passing 0, 25, 50, 75 or 90 percent of your promised policies is equivalent. This is not true.

            The things I mentioned, I mentioned because they were the specific issues I cared the most about at the time. Had I voted for a major-party candidate based on promises and debate claims, those were the issues I would have used to make my decision…and nothing was done on them.

            Those few promises that Obama and Bush did (somewhat) keep were largely promises to do stuff I didn’t want them to do so that didn’t really factor into my decision matrix.

            SCOTUS justice vacancies, always very important

            SCOTUS has much the same problem as the presidency. It matters that we have a court and that it’s able to reach decisions in a timely fashion, but the exact content of those decisions doesn’t matter so much, at least not on the margin. And once again: preference falsification. We know an (R) president will try to appoint justices they think have (R) sympathies and vice-versa, but all the candidates will try very hard not to say much about what they think so the president could make mistakes in either direction. A pick who is unusually weird or stupid or contrary to the current zeitgeist is likely not to get confirmed; the kabuki dance that is our confirmation process is bound to find some “pretty good” justices no matter who is in office, which is all we need or can reasonably expect.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Glen Raphael:
            That is moving the goalposts, and quite a long way.

            “Obama didn’t do the very few things that I cared about” is very, very, very different than what you originally said. Obama did what he said he was going to do in roughly the priority order he said he would do them. He didn’t accomplish everything, but he attempted almost all of the things he said he would attempt. He did attempt to close Gitmo although he was not successful, but admittedly he did not put an incredible amount of political capital into the effort, being blocked first by the Governors of states where he wanted transfer the prisoners.

            But, like any exercise in resource management, you usually don’t get all of the things.

          • Jill says:

            Glen, Re: SCOTUS– in looking at the possibility of Roe vs. Wade being overturned, plus civil rights and voting rights going backwards, I don’t feel that way about SCOTUS at all. I want liberal justices on there myself.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Jill:

            Who benefits when you give up and call the presidential election in the most powerful nation on earth, just entertainment?

            Oooh, I know that one:

            Me. I benefit when I give up and call the election entertainment.

            See, if I were to take it seriously and vote, there are only two options: my candidate wins(*) or my candidate loses.

            If my candidate loses, I get to feel sad right away because they lost.

            If my candidate wins (*), I get to feel sad in the future when they break all their promises that I cared about and turn out to be a horrible disappointment.

            Either way, I immediately become less rational as my brain uses confirmation bias to prove I made the right choice – whether I did or not. Having chosen a side, I lose my outside view and stop being able to see things impartially.

            Since I like my outside view, I’m better off not voting.

            ===
            * The “wins” part is hypothetical in that though I’ve often voted I’ve never yet voted for a candidate who won. But for the sake of argument I’ll assume it’s possible the candidate I vote for might win, however unlikely that might be.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            That is moving the goalposts, and quite a long way.

            I think you might have imagined seeing goalposts somewhere other than where I originally put them.

            Any candidate – especially one running for re-election – can easily put in their stump speeches any of a hundred random things congress has been trying to put in the budget and say “I will do X” which actually means “if I am elected and congress eventually sends me a bill doing X, I will sign that bill. I won’t veto that bill, even though I would have the option to do so!” Then when Congress sends such a bill along, the president can take credit for the “accomplishment” of not actually vetoing something that…probably would have passed under any president.

            When it comes to laws, all the President can do is sign or veto. Most Presidents sign nearly everything they get, then take credit for “addressing a problem” even if the actual law passed ends up making the problem worse.

            When I said “major party presidential candidates are entirely unaccountable for anything they say on the campaign trail” I didn’t mean that they never do anything they say they would, I just mean exactly what I said – they’re unaccountable. They can do these things or not and we have no way to hold them to it.

            When you say “Obama did what he said he was going to do in roughly the priority order he said he would do them” I am sure you believe that to be the case but it doesn’t really match my own recollection. That said, I didn’t pay much attention to his RE-election campaign. So if you’re just talking about stuff he “promised” in 2012, for all I know you could be right.

            Gitmo could have been closed by letting the prisoners free – that would have been my preferred option and wouldn’t have required permission from any governors.

            Both Obama and Bush also promised to end various wars earlier than actually happened. I’m judging them mostly on stuff the president can do unilaterally – taking credit for “I will sit around waiting for Congress to negotiate a law that does X and then when they do so I will let them do it!” doesn’t impress me so much.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Glen:
            I’m talking about 2008.

            – Stimulus ($800 billion bill passed)
            – Financial Reform (Dodd Frank passed)
            – Universal* Healthcare modeled on Romneycare (ACA passed)
            – End “the war in Iraq” (US troops were removed from Iraq)
            – Increase involvement in Afghanistan (Obama did increase focus and troop presence in Afghanistan)
            – End “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (removed in 2010)
            – Subsidize renewable power development in the US (passed as part of the stimulus)
            – Increase CAFE standards for autos and trucks (passed)
            – End the Bush tax cut only on those making over $250K, do not raise taxes on anyone under that income (compromised on $400K)
            – Take joint action with Russia to secure nuclear weapons (done)
            – Negotiate and ratify a START II treaty with Russia (done)
            – Require reduced CO2 emissions (EPA regulations imposed but partially blocked by SCOTUS)

            Those are just the ones off the top of my head.

          • TomFL says:

            The arguments that a President Trump would bring about the apocalypse from the all optimism and sunshine crowd is a bit overwrought. I’m just not buying that the nukes get launched when an offensive tweet is received.

            I doubt very seriously any decisions will get made that are truly reckless, but I have little doubt that Trump would be pre-ordained the worst president ever before he even takes office and historians will be united on this legacy.

            I think people way overestimate the power of this office, even if it is the most powerful office on earth. Our government has enough constraints to prevent things such as what is going on in Turkey right now from happening.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ TomFL

            Our government has enough constraints to prevent things such as what is going on in Turkey right now from happening.

            I’m sure a lot of Turks thought so as well.

          • John Schilling says:

            I’m sure a lot of Turks thought so as well.

            How so, when it has been an almost explicit feature of the Turkish government that the Army was supposed to act as a check on Islamist demagoguery by conducting a coup whenever an Islamic demagogue got too powerful, and this has in fact been happening about once per generation since Ataturk set it up that way?

            That’s like saying the American people think their government is secure against having congress try to impeach presidents who don’t need impeaching.

        • Matt C says:

          I don’t think this is very fair to Scott. Might actually hurt his feelings.

          Just because someone doesn’t get wound up about some particular thing doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about anything, and he might still care about the very thing he’s not getting wound up about.

          I speculate that you feel let down by Scott here, that he is not doing his part to fight Trump the way you feel he ought to. If I’m right, I think you’re overreacting and drawing unreasonable conclusions.

          It’s pretty clear that Scott does care about what happens and thinks that outcomes matter. I bet he cares about Trump not being president. But he doesn’t actually get to pick the president, and being louder about his preferences won’t change that. Getting bored with discussing a candidate in a presidential election year seems like a perfectly sensible sentiment to me.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt C:
            My statement wasn’t about merely his comment. It was fitting his comment in to a much larger pattern that runs through much of what he has posted over the last two years.

            Since I started on this blog about the time that he openly declared I was part of his outgroup (I’m pretty solidly “blue tribe” as he defines it, which he spent 10 to 15 thousand words to clearly state is one of his outgroups) disappointed is not the word I would use.

            I am confused when I try and piece his positions together into a coherent whole. What I know of the things Scott says he holds as dear should make him quite indisposed towards Trump, but he has only ever spent time defending Trump. Except for this comment where he seems to think that Trump’s candidacy is supposed to be a form of entertainment and is disappointed it’s not fun anymore.

            And I can’t make that square.

          • Jill says:

            Well, I hope Scott will let us know some time what he thinks about Trump, beyond what he’s said. Because we’re just speculating here. Which is fun. I’ll speculate too. Perhaps Scott doesn’t want to express strong opinions for or against Trump because that’s a very controversial subject and he doesn’t want to offend people or be offended or get into unnecessary fights.

          • Nornagest says:

            Where, exactly, is all this defense of Trump going on? The only long-form Trump writing I’ve seen out of Scott is his review of The Art of the Deal, and it’s quite ambivalent by my reading.

            (Lest I give the wrong impression: I’m not a Trump supporter and will probably be voting for Gary Johnson, although I find Hillary narrowly the less obnoxious of the major-party candidates. I do find the double-mecha-Hitler hysteria kind of annoying, though.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            He had a post where he spent a decent amount of time defending Trump against the charge of having made racist statements. Haven’t figured out which post it was yet.

            And his review of Art of the Deal is sort of the opposite of damning with faint praise. Those who were cautious but amenable to voting Trump actually updated towards Trump on that post.

            The information in Art of the Deal seems to me to be roughly irrelevant to the arguments around Trump’s fitness for the presidency unless it is merely informing a much broader assessment.

          • Nornagest says:

            The information in Art of the Deal seems to me to be roughly irrelevant to the arguments around Trump’s fitness for the presidency unless it is merely informing a much broader assessment.

            Well, I’d certainly agree with that. It was written in 1987, for one thing, so it’s kinda like judging me by the fanfic I wrote when I was fourteen. Or cowrote, more accurately, since it was ghostwritten.

            It seems most relevant to the flip-flopping charge, which I don’t think anyone cares much about anyway.

          • Matt C says:

            I think you’re reading too much into what Scott says, or fails to say, about Trump.

            You can be opposed to Trump as President and still view him as an interesting phenomenon that is entertaining to watch. That’s pretty much my point of view, and I suspect Scott’s also. Saying Trump has gotten boring and is no fun anymore doesn’t necessarily mean anything about how much you do or don’t want him as Prez.

            I’m pretty sure Scott is against Trump. I think you’re right about that. But you expect this to come out in the form of a consistent message about Trump, where Scott makes sure he is “on point” when he mentions Trump’s name. Scott doesn’t really write this way (and I’m glad of it). I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott doesn’t mention the fact that he is opposed to Trump as President because he considers it so obvious that it would be pointless and boring to bring it up.

            I also think you’re wrong about Scott and Blue Tribe, and you’re really really wrong if you think you, specifically, are in Scott’s outgroup. It does look to me like your machinery for modeling what is going on in Scott’s head is a little broken. I could be the one that’s wrong here, of course, but I do find Scott pretty consistent and easy to understand, even when I think he’s wrong.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt C:
            Have you read “I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup”“?

            Scott states clearly at the end that Blue Tribe is his outgroup.

            I mean, I’m not sure those particularly groupings really make sense, but Scott does. So, clearly he considers me to be in his outgroup.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            I feel like extrapolating “The Blue Tribe is my outgroup” to “You, yes you specifically, are in my outgroup” ignores the issue with distance and how we think differently when considering individuals vs groups.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Whatever Happened to Anonymous:

            “You, yes you specifically, are in my outgroup”

            I don’t think I used it in a manner that specified some animus towards me specifically? I simply noted that since Scott has identified “my people” as his outgroup, being disappointed that he is unwilling to analyze Trump as a current political actor wouldn’t make a ton of sense. He is going to be disposed to avoid criticizing Trump merely because “blue tribe” is doing it.

            I do think that ignoring the elephant in Trump’s room is bad, but then I would think that wouldn’t I?

            I also try to take the stance that the likelihood Scott actually pays attention to anything that I write is far closer to 0 than 0.5. I originally wrote my post referencing Scott rather than directed to him (using “Scott” instead of “you”), but then I thought that might be kind of rude.

        • Jill says:

          He wanted to shut down Guantanamo. Congress wouldn’t fund it, as I have already said before.

          As for shutting down the surveillance state, some say that the military/security/industrial/banking complex is the all powerful Deep State. If they are correct, then the pres doesn’t tell those folks what to do. The Deep State tells the pres what to do.

          books on the Deep State

          https://www.amazon.com/Deep-State-Constitution-Shadow-Government/dp/0525428348/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470008852&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Deep+State

          https://www.amazon.com/American-Deep-State-Democracy-Library/dp/1442214244/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1470008852&sr=8-2&keywords=The+Deep+State

          It’s possible that Obama did the best he could in these areas. And interesting that Obama keeps being held to a standard 100X as high as the one GW Bush is held to.

    • herbert herbertson says:

      Interesting that he didn’t reply to James Fallows, who is at the top of the list of men who I would choose to be my third grandpa.

    • Jill says:

      Scott Adams has been a rabid Trump supporter and Hillary basher for a long time now. And the replies to him there are from people having built up rage against him over time.

      Scott Adams has learned how to irritate people to the point of rage and how to write funny comics. I don’t see him as having any other skills, although he is certainly a legend in his own mind.

      Trolling is not hard. In fact, people accuse me and others of doing it when we are not. Just disagreeing with the majority view on a board is considered by some to be trolling. But irritating the heck out of other people on purpose, as Scott Adams greatly enjoys doing, is also easy enough for anyone to do. E.g. he has called Hillary a cop killer in one of his recent blogs, because she is supportive toward BLM.

      He’s sort of a SIW– a Social Injustice Warrior– bravely defending social injustice, LOL.

      • Mercer says:

        http://blog.dilbert.com/post/147395227526/cop-killers-versus-racists

        “To my eyes, the biggest change is that Clinton’s team just became the cop-killing side. At least that’s how it looks to our irrational minds. Your brain thinks cops are probably Trump supporters (true or not) while you probably see cop-killers as Clinton supporters (true or not).”

        He is not calling her a cop-killer. He is talking exclusively about our irrational perceptions. The fact that you consistently misrepresent the things you’re talking about like this is why some feel you’re a troll.

        • Jill says:

          Misrepresentations 10X as bad as any I have ever made, when done by Red Tribe folks on this board, go completely unnoticed.

          So Adams says she is a cop killer to our irrational minds. She’s not a cop killer, he says. It’s simply that we all BELIEVE she’s a cop killer. Okay, I wasn’t precise. But Hillary is not a cop killer in any way– not even to most people’s irrational minds. And he titled his article Cop Killers vs. Racists, intentionally blurring the distinction himself.

          • Sandy says:

            But he’s not saying she’s a cop killer, not even to our irrational minds. He’s saying that Hillary is associating herself with cop killers.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Adams is a comic writer. He’s writing for comic effect. He’s also right; recent events have associated Hillary with cop-killers. Black Lives Matter has successfully positioned itself as the face of anti-racism… and of cop-killing, insincere-sounding disclaimers otherwise notwithstanding. And BLM is seen as being on Hillary’s side; it’s certainly clearly opposed to Trump.

          If I didn’t know better I’d think Adams was telling the truth in the most unpalatable way possible to get Hillary’s supporters to reject it. But I think actually he’s just doing that for comic effect. And for fun.

          • Civilis says:

            Could Adams be a right-wing version of Jon Stewart when he was hosting the Daily Show? One of the complaints by the right was that Stewart would jump back and forth across the line between ‘serious commentator’ and ‘comic’ depending on which side of the line was more beneficial to him at the time.

          • Jill says:

            Adams is not as bright as Stewart, nor does he put out as much material. He’s just a comic strip writer who blogs. But he does indeed ‘serious commentator’ and ‘comic’ depending on which side of the line is more beneficial to him at the time.

            But since he has done nothing much but write comic strips and blogs, and the blogs have a ridiculous sounding comic quality to them, the serious side of the line is a harder sell for me, regarding Adams. I find it hard to take him seriously.

            He took a hypnosis course a long time ago and has read a few books on persuasion, although he has never worked in that field. He thinks he’s a Master Persuader, but I don’t find him persuasive. I don’t know if anyone actually does. Persuasion is not so easy as he makes it out to be.

            Few people in the U.S. change their minds about politics. I can’t imagine he has changed anyone’s mind, although he does Trump supporters do hang around his twitter stream because they agree with him.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Civilis – “Could Adams be a right-wing version of Jon Stewart when he was hosting the Daily Show?”

            Essentially. He is not engaging in good-faith communication, but rather writing to influence and persuade the biggest section of the population he thinks he can reach as efficiently as possible. It appears to be working pretty well. I read him for a while, and found the content pretty interesting when interpreted from that perspective, but it’s a very narrow band of content.

            @Jill – “Adams is not as bright as Stewart…”

            How do you know?

            “He thinks he’s a Master Persuader, but I don’t find him persuasive. I don’t know if anyone actually does. Persuasion is not so easy as he makes it out to be.”

            He declared Trump a “master persuader” and predicted that he would easily win the Republican Nomination and go on to win the Presidency in a landside very, very early in the primary, which I think is probably the ballsiest move of any political commentator in my lifetime. That prediction arguably had a material impact on Trump’s actual victory in the Republican primary; I’d imagine the precise impact would be difficult to measure, but his articles were a big part of what changed me from seeing Trump as a pathetic clown to seeing him as the best candidate in either party; I would have probably been a Sanders supporter otherwise. Whether it’s a swing he catalyzed himself or simply spotted way faster than anyone else, it’s quite impressive.

            As for whether he’s persuasive to you, he may be a significant part of the reason that you’ve been speculating about how awful a job Trump would do as president in the last few threads. That don’t seem like chopped liver to me.

            “Few people in the U.S. change their minds about politics. ”

            I’m one of them. Are you?

          • Jill says:

            “He (Adams) declared Trump a “master persuader” and predicted that he would easily win the Republican Nomination and go on to win the Presidency in a landslide very, very early in the primary, which I think is probably the ballsiest move of any political commentator in my lifetime.”

            Well, he was correct in his prediction. I can give him credit for that much. But Trump didn’t win the nomination because he is a Master Persuader. He won it because he is a mirror of people’s basest instincts. He’s incredibly self centered, has poor control over his impulses, is a pathological liar, is a bully.

            And he is using all the same methods Republicans have been using for years to scare and anger people and then to “protect” them from the things he made them excessively scared and angry about. He does do that better than any Republicans have ever done it before. But these methods are persuasive almost entirely to Republicans. You are the only person I have ever communicated with who ever voted Dem who is supporting Trump now.

            “As for whether he’s persuasive to you, he may be a significant part of the reason that you’ve been speculating about how awful a job Trump would do as president in the last few threads. That don’t seem like chopped liver to me.”

            I don’t need Adams to tell me that Trump would do an awful job as president. I already know that. But are you saying that Adams gets credit for persuading people of the opposite of what he intends to persuade them of? That’s really bending over backwards to give Adams credit there.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Jill – “But Trump didn’t win the nomination because he is a Master Persuader. He won it because he is a mirror of people’s basest instincts. He’s incredibly self centered, has poor control over his impulses, is a pathological liar, is a bully.”

            That is certainly one plausible take on the situation, and it’s clear you hold it sincerely. Other people have different takes, though. Maybe you know better than they do. Then again, maybe not. None of us are the sole arbiter of reality, and I’ve seen my worldview fail catastrophically enough times to be skeptical of dogmatic assertions about why all the bad things are the fault of those evil people over there. In my experience, the world is a lot more complicated than that.

            “And he is using all the same methods Republicans have been using for years to scare and anger people and then to “protect” them from the things he made them excessively scared and angry about. He does do that better than any Republicans have ever done it before.”

            I think Bush did a lot more appealing to fear than Trump, who appeals much more to anger and nationalistic pride.

            “But these methods are persuasive almost entirely to Republicans.”

            In my decade as a deeply liberal democrat, I lived under a barrage of almost constant fear. Fear of the nefarious republicans who were going to shred the constitution and turn America into a dictatorship. fear of the poisons being pumped into our food and water and medicine by soulless, greedy corporations. Fear of the economic rapine of Wall Street. Fear of the draft being reinstated, and of being forced to fight wars I hated for a government I loathed. Fear of thuggish, bloodthirsty, unaccountable police. Fear of our own military being used against us, of the security agencies spying on us, of political elites selling out our future to moneyed interests. I fled my country of birth and very nearly renounced my citizenship out of fear. Are you telling me I hallucinated a decade’s worth of DailyKos and Huffington Post and Adbusters articles?

            Why do you think you understand Republicans’ thoughts and motivations better than they do? There are something like a hundred million Republicans in America, but you think you can compress their entire culture and worldview into a paragraph about fearmongering and propaganda and political money?

            “But are you saying that Adams gets credit for persuading people of the opposite of what he intends to persuade them of?”

            Judging by his content, he wasn’t trying to persuade people like you to like trump, he was trying to persuade people like you to talk about trump, as that is the best strategy to get advantage for Trump out of people like you. Judging by how the majority of your posts here have been about Trump, it appears he succeeded.

            This appears to be Trump’s strategy as well. Remember that two billion in free advertising Trump got? That’s just from the media. Want to try to put a dollar figure on the private conversations centering on Trump over the last year?

          • Civilis says:

            I think Bush did a lot more appealing to fear than Trump, who appeals much more to anger and nationalistic pride.

            Can you expound on this? From my place to the right of Bush, I didn’t see much of ‘fear’ coming from Bush’s rhetoric. Bush was careful to stick with the ‘religion of peace’ description of Islam, and always a little too open borders for the red tribe, neither of which strikes me as being especially fearful.

            9/11 happened at the start of Bush’s term in office, and there was fear from that on all sides, but my calibration for assessing fear of the enemy during a war is hopelessly out of scale due to my interest in the second world war, by the standards of which anything since the end of the Cold War barely registers. Compared to the ‘Daisy’ ad, modern politics seems relatively fear-free.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Civilis – “Can you expound on this?”

            “Can’t let the smoking gun be a mushroom cloud” would be an example. Defense and foreign policy seemed to dominate both of Bush’s terms, and appeals to the threat of terrorist action were frequently used as justification. The basic theme of his presidency seemed to be about ensuring the country’s safety.

            Trump does not seem to be about safety, on the whole; He doesn’t oppose Muslim immigration because they’re going to nuke us, he opposes it because we shouldn’t have to put up with the low-level violence they bring. He goes for flamboyant policies and expects people to take them or leave them, rather than trying to reassure people that everything is going according to plan. His strategy appears to be built on embracing chaos, rather than minimizing it.

          • Jill says:

            Faceless,

            “That is certainly one plausible take on the situation, and it’s clear you hold it sincerely. Other people have different takes, though. Maybe you know better than they do. Then again, maybe not. None of us are the sole arbiter of reality, and I’ve seen my worldview fail catastrophically enough times to be skeptical of dogmatic assertions about why all the bad things are the fault of those evil people over there.”

            Yes, there are other plausible takes on the situation. And all the Right Wing ones are expressed constantly here. So a Left Wing one needs to be expressed every once in a while. And I am one of the few people here who is willing to endure the pain involved, in order to express it.

            “I think Bush did a lot more appealing to fear than Trump, who appeals much more to anger and nationalistic pride.”

            I heard tons of fear in the GOP convention. But you are right, you can’t use fear alone to sell to people. You’ve got to then partially convert it to the powerful motivating feeling of anger. Which Bush did too, to some degree.

            “In my decade as a deeply liberal democrat, I lived under a barrage of almost constant fear. Fear of the nefarious republicans who were going to shred the constitution and turn America into a dictatorship. fear of the poisons being pumped into our food and water and medicine by soulless, greedy corporations… Are you telling me I hallucinated a decade’s worth of DailyKos and Huffington Post and Adbusters articles?”

            I didn’t say that the Dems don’t use fear also. I do see the Dems as using fear and anger much less often than the GOP does. And I see the GOP as using unrealistic fears or exaggerated fears more often. E.g. the GOP gets people whipped up into a frenzy about terrorism. Terrorism is real, of course. But you are a lot more likely to die in an auto accident than in a terrorist attack. So the fear that is whipped up is exaggerated.

            You or I can turn on the TV and watch Trump or Hillary– or we can watch recordings of their conventions– and decide what we think. Either or both of these folks and their supporters are using fear and anger a lot, or a little, or not at all. The evidence is there before us all.

            I think Cheny was whipped up into unrealistic fear himself, which is why he was so hot to invade a country that was no threat to the U.S., so fond of using torture etc.

            Many, maybe most, of us have gotten addicted to our own adrenaline at times. It feels good– at least the anger part of it and the motivation part of it and the feeling like you are right and superior. But it isn’t necessarily the best state in which to try to make rational decisions.

            When I turn on my TV, I see Trump and his supporters far more often to be addicted to their own adrenaline than Dems are. And sometimes Dems are too. It’s certainly not all or nothing.

            “Why do you think you understand Republicans’ thoughts and motivations better than they do?”

            I guess for the same reason that so many Right Wingers here and elsewhere seem to think they understand Dems’ thoughts better than they do. If I am wrong, I am certain that many many people on this board will tell me– some of them, in the most condescending, insulting and sarcastic ways possible.

            I appreciate your acting respectfully in conversation, and communicating your ideas rather than insults. Thank you.

            “Judging by his content (Scott Adams), he wasn’t trying to persuade people like you to like trump, he was trying to persuade people like you to talk about trump, as that is the best strategy to get advantage for Trump out of people like you. Judging by how the majority of your posts here have been about Trump, it appears he succeeded.”

            It’s the main news media stations that give so much free coverage to Trump that are the cause of people talking about him (which you do admit later on in your comment, is a partial cause, even though you insist on giving a lot of credit to Adams too).

            And the other reason why people talk about Trump is the fact that he is neck in neck with Hillary in the polls, or better, at times. So if you don’t want him, you need to talk about how to defeat him. I do think you give Adams too much credit.

            “This appears to be Trump’s strategy as well. Remember that two billion in free advertising Trump got? That’s just from the media. Want to try to put a dollar figure on the private conversations centering on Trump over the last year?”

            People seem to talk about Kim Kardashian incessantly too. But she’s not going to become our president. I know that Adams likely thinks that if people talk about a candidate a lot, that means he will win. But like most of Adams’ ideas, I find that to be very simplistic.

            Even though many people have confused entertainment with news, or entertainment with people talking about making rational decisions for our country, not everyone has.

          • Civilis says:

            “Can’t let the smoking gun be a mushroom cloud” would be an example. Defense and foreign policy seemed to dominate both of Bush’s terms, and appeals to the threat of terrorist action were frequently used as justification. The basic theme of his presidency seemed to be about ensuring the country’s safety.

            To Bush’s credit, the most important national event of his presidency was an attack on the US. It’s like saying that FDR’s third term in office was about ensuring the country’s safety. It’s true, but there’s a good reason for that, and anyone else that had been in office would have had to deal with it.

            Take a look at Jill’s comment:
            Terrorism is real, of course. But you are a lot more likely to die in an auto accident than in a terrorist attack. So the fear that is whipped up is exaggerated.

            After Pearl Harbor, FDR didn’t whip up fear of Japan, the Japanese did that themselves by bombing Pearl Harbor (well, he did, kind of, certainly much more than Bush did, but he didn’t need to). The attack on Pearl Harbor caused 2,400 American deaths. Certainly given the horrible state of auto safety at the time, Americans had much more to fear from traffic accidents than the Japanese Empire based on that one attack. However, unlike the auto accidents, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a deliberate action put into place by a small group of men, and was intended as the start of other actions which, even not carried out to the intended conclusion, still killed hundreds of thousands of people.

            9/11 was carried out by twenty men on a shoestring budget. It not only killed 3,000 people directly, it crippled one of the largest cities in the country and crippled the US air travel industry. I’m more likely to die in an auto accident than be shot by police, even though I’m more scared of being shot by police. However, I do all that I can to prevent both. In the case of the police, the reason it’s so unlikely is that I fear getting shot by the police and don’t take actions which would increase that risk.

          • Jill says:

            Bush tried to ensure our safety after 9/11 by attacking the wrong country. If that isn’t being overly scared of the wrong things, I don’t know what is. I think a lot of neocons have that style, and it can be, and has been, extremely destructive.

            People who are overly scared of the wrong things, tend to solve problems using the method of “Ready, fire, aim!” as in the Iraq invasion.

          • Sandy says:

            What was the right country to attack? Some people say we should have gone to war with Saudi Arabia, but I often wonder how the Islamic world would have reacted to American soldiers overthrowing the custodians of Mecca and Medina.

          • Jill says:

            I don’t know what was the right country to attack, if any. But it certainly was not Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Jill – “Yes, there are other plausible takes on the situation. And all the Right Wing ones are expressed constantly here. So a Left Wing one needs to be expressed every once in a while. And I am one of the few people here who is willing to endure the pain involved, in order to express it.”

            I used to post over at Thing of Things, which felt much the same as what you’re describing. I felt compelled to voice opinions I knew the vast majority of the community would strongly disagree with, and found it very stressful to do so. I’ve often felt this compulsion throughout my adult life; I identify really strongly with this XKCD comic. It’s just the way I’m wired, I guess. There’s a couple of things I’ve found useful when being the lone voice of dissent.

            One is to try to avoid using assertion in arguments as much as possible. Assertions by nature lack context and nuance, which makes them very easy to counter or reject out of hand. They really are only useful when describing your thoughts and opinions to someone who is unaware of them, and when they take the form of a citation of fact from a source your opponents actually respect. Such sources are rare. Ultimately, the only thing you can be truly confident of is your own thoughts expressed honestly, and expressing things explicitly as your own opinion or thoughts tends to get a better reception than bald statements of fact, and helps keep you humble on the margin.

            Another is to ask questions. Get people to lay out how they see things, then ask questions that highlight the flaws and gaps you see in their position. People like to talk, and inviting them to express themselves lowers their guard considerably. Questions also encourage them to think about the issue, which is quite an improvement over the knee-jerk response statements usually get. Once they’ve explained their side of things, they’re much more likely to listen to you explain why you disagree.

            The last would be to have a clear goal in mind. Are you trying to convince the people you’re arguing with? Convince the audience? Humiliate someone who’s annoying you? Better understand someone else’s position? Get them to better understand yours? This stupid compulsion to argue that we suffer from comes from somewhere, and if you understand what your goal is, you can judge the effectiveness of your tactics and adjust accordingly. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else.

            I apologize if the above seems condescending; this need to talk thing has been a real problem for me, and to the extent that it’s been manageable, it’s because of the above. I’ve actually been thinking about requesting a ban from Scott to help me not waste so much time here.

            …Anyhow, back to your previous quote:

            “But Trump didn’t win the nomination because he is a Master Persuader. He won it because he is a mirror of people’s basest instincts. He’s incredibly self centered, has poor control over his impulses, is a pathological liar, is a bully.”

            I support Trump and think the above is false. You think it’s true and obviously don’t support Trump. Where do we go from here? I don’t think my support of Trump is based on my baser instincts, or at least not mainly, and not the ones you listed. That you think these things isn’t a surprise; I hear this stuff every time I turn on the TV, and hearing it again isn’t any more convincing than it was the first thousand times I heard it on CNN. None of it addresses any of my actual reasons for supporting Trump, nor does it seem to me to describe him well. What’s the proper way to reply? This is a genuine question, for what it’s worth.

            In any case, let’s assume you’re completely right and I’m completely wrong. Trump is a monster, and something like a third of the country love him anyway. What does that say about them, and what’s to be done about it?

            “I didn’t say that the Dems don’t use fear also. I do see the Dems as using fear and anger much less often than the GOP does.”

            Having been a member of both, I guess all I can say is that based on my own experience, I think you’re wrong. This idea that one party is uniquely more awful than the other is absurd. Both parties represent massive chunks of the population, and are the way they are because dozens of millions of people want them to be that way. Both think that their views are obviously true and only fools and defectives would support their opponents. Nothing useful ever comes from humoring this attitude.

            “You or I can turn on the TV and watch Trump or Hillary– or we can watch recordings of their conventions– and decide what we think. Either or both of these folks and their supporters are using fear and anger a lot, or a little, or not at all. The evidence is there before us all.”

            …except that all the instances of fearmongering on the Democratic side I could point to, you’d call simply stating obvious facts. This is how bias works, from both ends: my fearmongering is your facts, and vice versa. And then there’s the hazard of false-equivalence hanging over all this.

            …I guess my point is that even if you think it’s obviously true that Republicans are building their whole campaign on fear and hatred in a way that the Democrats aren’t, there’s not much use in arguing the point with actual Trump supporters. If we didn’t already have convincing answers to that, we wouldn’t be Trump supporters anymore. Again, what sort of response are you looking for?

            “It’s the main news media stations that give so much free coverage to Trump that are the cause of people talking about him (which you do admit later on in your comment, is a partial cause, even though you insist on giving a lot of credit to Adams too).”

            well, something catalyzed Trump from being a joke candidate to a serious one, which was what kicked off the media attention feedback loop. Scott’s prediction doesn’t seem remotely big enough to power that process by itself, but I don’t think it hurt. Again, I think Scott’s prediction is a case of him figuring out Trump’s broad strategy well before anyone else, and throwing his support behind it. The actual effect size is unknowable and likely small, but Scott did make it onto major media channels to promote his thesis, so who knows?

            “People seem to talk about Kim Kardashian incessantly too. But she’s not going to become our president. I know that Adams likely thinks that if people talk about a candidate a lot, that means he will win. But like most of Adams’ ideas, I find that to be very simplistic.”

            I think there’s a fair bit more to it than that; you also need Social Justice overplaying its hand and Conservative Christianity routed, for starters, and you need a widespread attitude of distrust toward the political establishment and media, In any case, we’ll see in November.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Civilis – “To Bush’s credit, the most important national event of his presidency was an attack on the US.”

            Sure, and I think it’s arguable that the emphasis on fear for his administration was inevitable and not necessarily a moral failing on his part; I don’t have any confidence that Gore’s tone would have been different, for instance. Policies may or may not be a different matter; I voted for Bush rather than Gore partly because he “didn’t believe in nation-building” and I’d had enough of foreign interventionism under Clinton.

          • Jill says:

            Hi, Craven. Thanks for telling me what worked for you in discussions. I cant’ say I’ll do it exactly your way, but I’ll give this some thought.

            What exactly is it that makes you think Trump would make a good president?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Jill – “What exactly is it that makes you think Trump would make a good president?”

            …I don’t think he’d be a good president. As in, I think it’s possible, but the odds aren’t great. I’m voting for him because it seems to me that him being elected would be useful.

            I think there are several trends at the national level that are very bad for us long-term. Foreign adventurism, security/surveillance powers, general aggrandizement of the federal government at the expense of state and local government, breakdown of the separation of powers. This general process appears to have proceeded unchecked since the first Bush administration in the early 90s, regardless of who was elected. I want it to stop. Voting for Trump helps in two ways; first because whatever he is, he’s not another Bush or Clinton, and he’s taken stances that put him at odds with their machines which is a hopeful sign. Second, because he’s polarizing enough to get people to take the threat of the metastasizing executive branch seriously. Third, because he seems to have a high chance of acting as a wrench in the gears of the executive branch in particular and the government generally.

            I despise the Bush family in particular and the Republican leadership in general, both for the wars of the last decade and for their complete inability to accomplish anything past drawing their paychecks. They lost the culture war decisively, they’ve achieved nothing constructive in a decade or more, and all they’re good for is getting in the way of people who actually want to get something done. I want them gone. Trump seems like a good way to make this happen; he does massive damage to their entire structure just by existing, and may form the core around which something new could coalesce. If he fails, I’ll support the next insurgent candidate next time.

            More generally, I would rather see the Republican party shattered utterly for the next decade than to have it limp on, achieving nothing beyond providing the Democrats with a convinient scapegoat. Ditto for the reverse; I observe a situation where both parties are locked in stalemate on the issues their supporters care most about, while only compromising on things that benefit elites. Decisive rule by *either* party seems better than the current situation.

            I think Social Justice, as a movement has lost its way, and is doing serious damage to our culture. The wars on Sexism and Racism aren’t just stalemates; it seems to me that what we’ve been doing for the past thirty years has completely stopped working, and that has driven both the left and the right away from egalitarianism and toward a concept of race and sex as zero-sum competitions, and hence to an embrace of explicit racism. This seems very, very bad for society as a whole. I’m not sure the best way to approach fixing it, but pretending that what we’ve been doing is fine isn’t an option. Trump is a fairly good solution to part of the problem; he’s a walking challenge to the “you have to agree with us to be a decent person” meme that serves as Social Justice’s big stick. He’s a step toward Status Independence for the Red Tribe, and for various complicated reasons I think that would be a good thing on net. His campaign can also serve as a battleground for a social conflict that I would much rather see fought now than a decade or two from now.

            I have no idea if immigration is a net harm or net help to our country. I do think the claim that we can’t enforce our own laws is absurd, and the general “demographic shift” arguments I hear from left-wing sources are pretty hideous to me. I don’t buy the racism angle at all; Mexico has no problem enforcing its laws on Americans, and the world does not generally have a right to live here.

            Muslim immigration, I don’t care much about one way or the other. My understanding is that the President does actually have the authority to make such restrictions. I doubt it would actually make us any safer, but again, foreigners do not actually have a right to live here and Europe’s open-arms approach seems to have mainly resulted in a bunch of ugly incidents and a resurgence of actual nazis to something like political prominence.

            On foreign policy, Trump is pro-putin, which I think is much safer than the alternative for everyone involved. I think this is likely to make nuclear death less likely on net than the Obama approach. Trump seems to be generally non-interventionist, which I likewise think is a much, much better idea than our post-2000 consensus. If he actually keeps us out of foreign wars during his presidency, I’ll take that as a major win.

            Fiscally, he’s opposed to Globalism. I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not, but this is another area where I think the consensus doesn’t seem to have served us well, and it’s worth trying something else.

            Generally, he’s a giant roll of the dice. I see the trends over the last twenty years as pretty clearly negative, and while I’m not sure if we’re really in the whole yet, we’re getting there. this seems like the best time to take risks hoping for a major change in course toward something better. If the worst happens and he turns out to be legitimately, unambiguously crazy and/or evil, I have a lot of faith in the ability of a hostile political establishment to mulch him in short order. This too would be good for us, I think, in the sense that it would break the longstanding, idiotic norm in Washington of refusing to punish misbehavior and overreach by the Executive. We are long, long overdue for an actual impeachment, and if that’s the only way Trump ends up serving us, I’d still call it a win.

            How about you? What are you hoping that a Hillary presidency will achieve? I think you mentioned you were originally a Bernie supporter; what were your hopes for him, and do you think they’re achievable in the current structure of the Democratic party?

          • TomFL says:

            Jill,

            I think you might have cause and effect backwards in regards to terrorism (political exploitation). My feeling is Republicans aren’t whipping up and creating fears of terrorism, they are legitimately representing people who have those fears. Remember you are never to inpune the honestly held feelings by anyone according to PC ideology ha ha.

            The argument that terrorism is not currently a clear and present danger to US citizens is a strong argument and it is unclear why politicians find this argument a no go zone.

            However an argument can be made that there is no chance that automobile accidents will exponentially increase in the future and become a clear and present danger, where there is an argument that ISIS / Islamic jihad ideology could exponentially increase and became a legitimate threat.

            The fear of an increasing threat cannot be dismissed with statistics given the trend. The right wing perceives the left dismisses this threat for political expediency. Things such as trying to singularly blame Orlando on gun control sends some very bad messages to those predisposed to think Ahmed is going to break down his door any moment in a jihadist frenzy.

            Red tribe voters want to be able to trust the government has their back against external threats, even if today’s biggest threat is small potatoes compared to 1941. Security is a priority and one one of the main responsibilities of government. Trying to redirect anger at the Orlando shooting to US domestic policy is bad politics.

          • Jill says:

            Thanks for your thoughts on this, Craven.

            I was for Bernie. I think we need a push to the Left. The country is so Right Wing that it will end up being only a slight push to the Left if it happens, since Congress is likely to remain GOP dominated. I want the Supreme Court to maintain civil rights for minorities and gays, abortion rights, and minority voting rights.

            For that reason, I am for Hillary, although she is far from the ideal candidate for me. She’s the best chance for a slight push to the Left. I like what Obamacare and don’t want sick people to be without medical care because they are poor or because they had a pre-existing condition, like it used to be.

            I wish Hillary weren’t so neo-con and hope that Sanders and his former supporters like me can pressure her to become less neo-con and also more progressive in other ways.

            I would love to get to the point where people can have discussions about how to shift and change the government so that it is more efficient and less wasteful and responds more to the needs of the citizenry. It seems that we can’t have such a conversation now, because it always veers into the “Government is evil and should be almost completely gotten rid of” conversation. It seems that so many people don’t think government can be improved because they think it needs to mostly be gotten rid of, that that’s what the conversation ends up being about.

            I think that conversation might be a long way away, although I hope not.

            I am glad Roger Ailes got thrown out of Fox News. I hope that whoever takes charge now will be less crazy and more willing to have more factual reporting. I think many many people are influenced by the lies told there and that plays a huge part in polarization and inability of Americans to cooperate and solve problems.

            I hope that some of the people who are voting for Hillary simply because they are anti-Trump will widen their horizons and start watching other stations and/or that Fox will become more truthful. You can’t have a conversation about problem solving in the country when so many people believe lies and are absolutely convinced the lies are true.

          • Jill says:

            I think it’s kind of crazy that we have so much focus on the presidency. Although I don’t want someone as president whom I fear is crazy enough to get us into WWIII, I am also aware that Congress makes the laws.

            I think a lot of the kinds of changes people are looking for would more likely be made with changes in Congress than with changes in the presidency.

            There’s so much anti-government sentiment that it concerns me. And this in a situation where Congressional incumbents are re-elected over 90% of the time. So what people are doing is constantly re-electing the same Congress members who are not giving them what they want– and then bashing them when they’re in office– and then re-electing them.

            Meanwhile, every 4 years, they focus way too much on electing the president who will supposedly change everything– as if the president is king and laws don’t have to make it through Congress.

          • Jill says:

            “I think you might have cause and effect backwards in regards to terrorism (political exploitation). My feeling is Republicans aren’t whipping up and creating fears of terrorism, they are legitimately representing people who have those fears.”

            I think both are true. They take people who are scared of terrorism and then whip them up into a frenzy.

            “The argument that terrorism is not currently a clear and present danger to US citizens is a strong argument and it is unclear why politicians find this argument a no go zone.”

            People frightened of terrorism would not find that a strong argument. They would think that the maker of this argument is weak and would not protect their constituents. Reality matters in elections far less than voter perceptions of strength vs. weakness.

            “Trying to redirect anger at the Orlando shooting to US domestic policy is bad politics.”

            Perhaps it is indeed bad politics in reaching out to Red Tribe folks. But almost no one from the Red Tribe ever comes into the Blue tribe anyway, because of the polarization and the belief that the Blue Tribe is Satan. This is good politics toward the Blue tribe.

            Blue Tribe members like me tend to think that we should have more regulation of gun and more background checks and barriers in the way of every psychotic person being able to easily and quickly acquire high powered weapons to go and shoot up anyone he’s angry at, as is the case today. Places like Australia have different gun laws and don’t have as much of these problems. Not that we should totally do as Australia does. But I think it’s crazy how easy it is for any crazy person to get powerful weapons.

          • Civilis says:

            On December 7th, 1941, Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor. Yet, the first country we invaded was France (via their territory in Algeria and Morocco; at that point, France was still sovereign and not at war with the US). Further, we had planned and agreed to pursue a Germany-first strategy during war even before the Japanese attacked. Germany and France had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor, but Pearl Harbor was merely the incident that pushed the US over the edge into official involvement a larger war.

            In 1998, President Clinton signed into law the Iraq Liberation Act and ordered another round of military strikes against Iraq for continued violations of the cease-fire. 9/11 may not have been directly tied to Iraq, but it was the wake-up call for how much damage state-sponsored terrorism could cause. Iraq was still a major player in state-sponsored terrorism, in violation of the cease fire enacted after the previous war (giving us a casus belli), and a threat to US operations to contain other countries in the region. It worked in one case; one leader with a history of both state-sponsored terrorism and WMD development chose to give up on both to preserve his hold on his country. How did that work for Gaddafi?

          • TomFL says:

            I would support a handgun ban, and update the second amendment to implement it. This would take decades to implement, but would ultimately be effective in reducing gun violence.

            But I don’t support feel good ineffective solutions and rhetoric in which gun-toting good old boys in the country are somehow presented as having pulled the trigger of a jihadist or the local hood retribution shooting.

            By all means make gun control arguments after Newtown, but make arguments for solutions that might actually work. Nobody believes people don’t want to take away their guns (nobody!), so just man up and say that’s what you want because that solution will work.

            These solutions are not an argument for terrorists, a truck will do just fine for them. Reducing suicides and run of the mill murders are better rhetorical targets.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Civilis, not that it changes you point, but French Morocco was not the first place America invaded. Before that, before even Pearl Harbor, American troops occupied Iceland.

      • in his own mind and the minds of millions of others. His blog and cartoon is very popular and his opinions are widely cited

      • Utopn Naxl says:

        Adams was not always this way.

        He said a somewhat controversial/offensive thing awhile back about women, as a small statement in a rather large post, that really would have been fine if someone his age of the opposite gender said about men in such an off-handed fashion.

        Then the usual crowds , salon, jezebel, tumblr/twitter just totally exploded at the guy and everything just spiraled from there. For months on end, any really minor non-right thinking thought that didn’t pander to certain people just made him get a large amount of harassment.

        He said a few more offensive things, though less offensive, that would have been more then fine(and understandable) if a recently divorced woman said instead of a recently divorced man saying, that heaped on 20x more criticism.

        Just as another Scott, Scott Aaronson wrote about being bitter and having a vindictive part in his heart supporting Trumps success due to that part of the internet harassing him, Adams got it a lot worse for things which were never that bad.

        If that didn’t happen, my bet from reading his blog for a few years and reading his political opinions would be that he would be a moderate supporter of Hillary’s due to her positions, while only occasionally mentioning the things he agrees with Trump on. AKA, Salon made Adams the way he is now.

        I think he would still write about how Hillarys campaign slogans suck(and that weird love trumps hate slogan show shes really bad at it), but he wouldn’t shill for Trump.

        • Jill says:

          Thanks, Utopn. I had no idea that that happened to him. That would explain a lot.

          The Internet can be a vicious place, regardless of one’s politics. That kind of vitriol has come from both sides e.g. from Trump supporters mad at reporters who wrote less than flattering articles about him. I can’t imagine being a public figure expressing views on politically tinged topics.

          I understand why Bill Maher says he can’t read his Twitter feed.

          I can’t imagine why a person would want to run for president either. They can’t even sit down at the TV and relax by watching a comedy show or a late night talk show– because the jokes are making fun of them.

      • TomFL says:

        At least he doesn’t put his political leanings in his comics like Doonesbury does. Some newspapers put Doonesbury on the opinion page, not the comics section which is appropriate. I was kind of under the impression that Doonesbury was just doing political satire which is fine by me, but when the Obama years rolled around, he rarely put Obama in a strip. GWB and Trump have been lambasted constantly in comparison. His bias has gotten much worse over the years. Trump of course is just asking for ridicule by the likes of Doonesbury so that is a bit understandable.

        However to conclude that there aren’t any satire opportunities for Obama and HRC is a bit of a stretch.

        • Homo Iracundus says:

          Doing a comic in support of the Rolling Stone “I believe Jackie!” stuff almost a month after it was completely discredited really put the nail in the coffin for his credibility, didn’t it?
          It’s funny to re-read Doonesbury from the 70s and try to figure out if he became a purely political hack, or if it’s just harder for the reader to notice without knowing the historical context.

          • BBA says:

            To be fair, we don’t know how long the delay between writing and publication is. I am aware of Trudeau writing a week’s worth of strips about Harriet Miers that had to be spiked because her nomination was withdrawn just before they were going to run. This suggests a 2- or 3-week buffer.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Scott Adams will be Trump’s Poet Laureate.

      Milo will play Trump in the movie.

      I add Adams to my other predictions
      Chris Christie: Attorney General
      Megyn Kelly: Initially press secretary, cabinet position later on
      Ivanka: White House Chief of Staff

      Already failed:
      Omarosa: VP

      This opens up Omarosa for Chief of Staff, but I think I’ll stick with Ivanka.

      The way he’s going on about Russia makes me think maybe Terry Hogan for Secretary of State or Ambassador to Russia, but I’m not quite ready to predict that yet :-).

      • Vaniver says:

        Ivanka is the heir apparent for the Trump Organization; I don’t think it makes sense for him to pull her from that to a role in the government.

  45. Glad my wife vetoed naming our son Sargon. We went with Alex instead.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      “Sargon” doesn’t violate any of the first four listed rules. As for the fifth, that’s a judgment call…

      • Anonymous says:

        Neither does “Adolf”. These rules aren’t foolproof. (Which probably makes them ineffective.) But then, they aren’t the core message of this essay.

        (I’m not saying Ants are just as evil, but sharing names with them may be just as embarrassing.)

        • birdboy2000 says:

          The Youtuber is named after the Akkadian monarch, not the other way around, and outside of a few internet-based social circles the first association of the name remains said monarch. And that’s *now* – barring a remarkably successful career by the latter Sargon, it’s hard to see that changing.

        • hlynkacg says:

          I went through boot camp with an Adolph, but his family was Swedish where I gather the name has a very different association.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think there’s a guy really big with the alt-right anti-SJW movement these days with the Internet nick “Sargon”. I think you made a good choice in not having your son constantly confused with him.

      Also, Sargon of Akkad was kind of a jerk.

      • johnny tesla says:

        Apparently, big = being called Sarcuck of Mossad

      • Gil says:

        Not Alt-right (not yet at least), he’s just an anti-SJW personality who got big ~2 years ago. Identifies as left-liberal, believes in egalitarianism, denies HBD , and wishes Identity politics could just go back into the bottle. — (Bane might say: Admirable, but Mistaken.)

        I didn’t quote him but I think my characterization is faithful to his own personal account. Google something like “Sargon” and “An honest look at the Alt-Right”

      • Forlorn Hopes says:

        I think you’re mistaken. There is a popular youtuber going by Sargon of Akkad, but he does not consider himself to be alt-right, he doesn’t even like the alt-right.

        That said, he might be popular with the alt-right regardless.

  46. E. Harding says:

    “I’ve lost the study now, but I also remember seeing people claim that almost all of Japan’s recent stagnation is due to an aging population rather than more purely economic factors.”

    -Doubtful:

    https://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/the-great-axis-stagnation/

  47. Pku says:

    The romanian study seems to go pretty far against conventional wisdom – does anyone have a good explenation?

    • Conventional wisdom among who? I thought it was the conventional wisdom for everyone that’s not a right-wing edgelord.

      The one possibility is that Romanian women are just weird.

      • akarlin says:

        Incidentally, women from countries with less gender feminism and SJWism tend to do better.

        http://www.unz.com/akarlin/equality-bad-for-women/

        Incidentally, although I haven’t tried to quantify it, my impression is that that after you adjust for everything, women outside core Europe have historically performed relatively better (to men) as compared to their counterparts within the Hajnal Line across fields such as historical scientific and literary accomplishment (the Japanese Murasaki Shikibu is the most accomplished woman in any of Charles Murray’s broad categories of achievement), intelligence (women tend to do better relative to men across multiple cognitive tests outside the West – this seems to be especially evident amongst Arabs and Africans, but can also be detected amongst East Asians), business leadership positions (the ex-Soviet world is generally in the lead, and Southern Europe including Turkey is ahead of Northern Europe), and even self-made billionaires (China has 2/3 of the global total).

        • Steve Sailer says:

          http://reductress.com/

          Sexist cultures tend to make men intellectually lazy, while feminist cultures often have the mirror image effect.

        • Jill says:

          I can’t imagine that the preponderance of studies show this, but I am sure it’s easy to find one or two that do. I’ve certainly read studies that show the opposite of this.

          There are a lot of factors and ways of measuring them here, and it may be easy to choose the factors and ways of measuring them that will give answers that support your bias. A common problem in research, particularly social science researcj/

      • Wency says:

        Depending on whether you consider Scott a right-wing edgelord:
        https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/09/15/links-915-linker-tailor-soldier-spy/

        (though I see he commented below).

        The conventional wisdom here being greater variability in IQ, not average IQ. But it’s true that neither proposition is conventional wisdom within the mainstream, where any difference in cognitive function is presumed to be entirely cultural.

      • The Nybbler says:

        The variance hypothesis is pretty common outside those whose dogma requires absolute equality in gender intelligence; this includes a lot of people who aren’t right-wing edgelords.

        The best non-rigorous support for it is the observation that both geniuses and very-low-intelligence people (excluding known conditions such as Downs Syndrome) seem to be predominantly male; the “society is keeping women down” hypothesis explains only half of that. There are, however, other possible explanations for this that wouldn’t show up in a variance measure (and it’s also possible that it simply isn’t true — e.g. very high and low intelligence women could be just as prevalent but less noticeable)

        Of course adding one more study to a field of already contradictory and disputed studies isn’t going to settle the argument.

      • Z says:

        It’s not conventional wisdom so much as previous data. See:

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17513132

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19031491

        https://rgambler.com/tag/gender-differences-in-intelligence/
        (Be sure to read the whole article and the references at the end)

        https://www1.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/1997whygmatters.pdf

        As noted by others, the following study is a possible explanation for differences between Romania and the US – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijop.12265/abstract

    • akarlin says:

      The obvious thing to consider would be to see what age groups were sampled. The male-female difference typically begins to expand after 16-18, when males continue to mature for a few more years while women stop.

      This is what Lynn’s meta-study on this topic found.

      However, my cursory examination of the study via Sci-hub shows that they did the analysis for all age groups.

      How exactly were the samples obtained? The great thing about school based tests is that it typically includes the whole spectrum of abilities. Getting busy successful adults (>IQ) and lumpenprole dregs (<IQ) to sit the tests is harder.

      The normative sample was selected in such a way as to maxi-
      mize representativeness on age, sex, urban vs. rural residence and geo-
      graphic region, from a sample of 4417 participants, which were tested
      in-home and in-school by trained operators.

      So yes, this sounds “problematic.” You also need representativeness on income, occupational prestige, etc.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Yeah, but I’ve seen this same finding in a couple of other places before. Even though Deary’s really complete Scottish data shows a slight amount of greater male variability, it’s not enough to explain much about existing gender differences. I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s a dead end.

        • akarlin says:

          It’s far from an open and shut case.

          Lynn’s huge meta-study shows otherwise.

          The Scottish data of course relates to schoolchildren, but the problem is that male-female differences only tend to really bloom once people reach their 20s.

          That said, Lynn’s study relates to performance on progressive matrices, and might not be very extensible to other aspects of intelligence.

          • Timothy Scriven says:

            TBH when people are saying ‘there are interesting sex differences in this area! You’ve just got to look at the variance between people in their early twenties who are a couple of standard deviations from the mean using a sample that includes the right make up of professions’ I start to get VERY sceptical. Maybe this isn’t constructive criticism but from the outside it looks like special double extra quadruple special ultra special pleading.

          • Anonymous says:

            Approaching this from the millenarian vampire point of view, I’d say Lynn’s right here, on the basis of historical record of mentally exceptional people strongly tending to be male. (Might also be that the Romanians are strange.)

          • Timothy Scriven says:

            I hate to be that guy, but can you think of any OTHER reasons why women might not have excelled so much (or records of women’s intellectual achievement might be spotty) in the historical records?

          • Anonymous says:

            I can*, but my explanation has the least amount of required assumptions.

            (* The obvious ones being “sex-based differences in interests” and “institutional sexism”.)

          • akarlin says:

            @anonymous,

            The standard answer to this: For most of history women couldn’t compete on anything approximating equal terms with men. E.g., see the Wiki on Sophie Germain.

            Big puzzle: Even as women were “emancipated” during the 20th century, why didn’t their share of human accompishment go up?

            My answer: Even though institutional barriers to female participation in the sciences fell away this century, the problems we now have to solve to make progress have become much harder. Since any minor difference in absolute g and/or its S.D. only really makes itself felt at the extreme edges – which would happen to include elite scientists – this would elegantly explain why there has actually been no net progress in female accomplishment.

            Social progress is barely keeping pace with the receding far right tail of the bell curve.

            Prediction: Since scientific problems are likely to continue getting harder and there is no more room to emancipate women any further, the share of female accomplishment as a percentage of the whole will not increase, and will actually fall over the century. (Albeit under the probably unrealistic scenario that is no radical human bioengineering, esp wrt intelligence, takes place. In that case who the heck knows what will happen).

          • Anonymous says:

            The standard answer to this: For most of history women couldn’t compete on anything approximating equal terms with men. E.g., see the Wiki on Sophie Germain.

            Her example might as well be taken to mean the opposite – the truly exceptional will shine through, no matter what barriers are in their way. This falls in line with Gregory Clark’s research into historical mobility rates (TL;DR: exceptional individuals will on average manage to beat the system and climb as high as their ability allows).

            Big puzzle: Even as women were “emancipated” during the 20th century, why didn’t their share of human accompishment go up?

            My answer: Even though institutional barriers to female participation in the sciences fell away this century, the problems we now have to solve to make progress have become much harder. Since any minor difference in absolute g and/or its S.D. only really makes itself felt at the extreme edges – which would happen to include elite scientists – this would elegantly explain why there has actually been no net progress in female accomplishment.

            This doesn’t explain why, for example, chess grandmasters continue being mostly men. AFAIK, chess has not substantially become harder lately. As with other prestigious competitions, I would infer that if there were an equal potential in the other 50% of the population, someone would have tapped it by now, on grounds of economic and status incentives.

            This might be explained under the “different interests” scenario, but I’m not completely sure the effect there is big enough. Might be, though.

          • Timothy Scriven says:

            I’ve never for the life of me understood why people have faith that truly exceptional intelligence/talent of any kind will shine through. The differential barriers are enormous. I tend to think its a kind of projection of the just world fallacy. For myself I think achievement at the highest levels is pretty arbitrary, and that’s even without systemic barriers. If Usain Bolt had a little less time to practice, or Einstein’s job was more fast paced, if Keat’s had have contracted TB a few years earlier…

            I mean we’re talking about societies here where women were the property of their husbands in just about every legal sense. Do you really think that’s not going to have a massive distortionary effect? Do you really think that so hard that you’ll prioritise it over a N=15000 study?

            As for institutional sexism requiring as many assumptions, well no it doesn’t, because we have (overwhelming) independent evidence that institutional sexism exists. You don’t even have to do a close reading of a text to explore the construction of gender in the 18th century or something like that to expose structural sexism, just look at the relevant laws.

          • Timothy Scriven says:

            Another aspect of the is that you’re assuming that the people who become famous for their intellectual achievements are the really truly exceptionally bright ones. I have my doubts.

          • Timothy Scriven says:

            Also performance at chess doesn’t correlate with anything all that much, including Gf.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’ve never for the life of me understood why people have faith that truly exceptional intelligence/talent of any kind will shine through. The differential barriers are enormous. I tend to think its a kind of projection of the just world fallacy. For myself I think achievement at the highest levels is pretty arbitrary, and that’s even without systemic barriers. If Usain Bolt had a little less time to practice, or Einstein’s job was more fast paced, if Keat’s had have contracted TB a few years earlier…

            Do you know what “on average” means?

            I mean we’re talking about societies here where women were the property of their husbands in just about every legal sense. Do you really think that’s not going to have a massive distortionary effect? Do you really think that so hard that you’ll prioritise it over a N=15000 study?

            I think that hard enough that I’ll take it over multiple contradictory studies, which is the case here. I don’t trust sociology/psychology papers farther than I can throw them, in large part thanks to our host’s efforts to show how often they are worthless.

            As for institutional sexism requiring as many assumptions, well no it doesn’t, because we have (overwhelming) independent evidence that institutional sexism exists.

            But is there any evidence that it has the advertised effects? I accept that sexism (stereotyping sexes) exists, and that the laws reflected those stereotypes (“institutional sexism”) in the past. I won’t, without good reason, accept that it was wrong, contrary to fact, or counterproductive.

            Another aspect of the is that you’re assuming that the people who become famous for their intellectual achievements are the really truly exceptionally bright ones. I have my doubts.

            I’m fairly certain that the vast majority are not fraudulently pretending to be smart. Whether their popularity is strongly correlated with their smarts, or whether it’s more of a threshold effect, is another matter.

            Also performance at chess doesn’t correlate with anything all that much, including Gf.

            (Well, aside from the obvious “being male”, you mean.) Interesting. Source?

          • Anonymous says:

            Except when they flatter your prejudices, of course. And in place of flawed scientific studies you are happy to substitute some shit I came up with in the shower. That method is well know to be the gold standard of epistemology.

            Do you have any actual criticism, beyond the accusation of motivated bigotry?

          • Timothy Scriven says:

            The chess result is pretty famous, I’d suggest googling it. I don’t want to sound like a snob, but tbh if you haven’t read it I don’t think you know nearly as much about this field of differential psychology (intelligence) as you think you do. It’s a very complicated area and there’s a lot more debate around things you probably take as foundational than you think there is. There are honest and well read people who don’t even think things like Gf exist.

            Where you say:

            “Do you know what “on average” means?”

            Yes of course I do. You make a reasonable point in that perhaps my examples gave a misleading impression that I’m talking about strange occurences which can prevent the odd person from shining here and there. I’m not. A myraid of things had to go right in someone’s life to become a famous intellectual, starting with actually having a serious chance to learn to read (and no, not all smart people can learn to read by their gumption, some people learn to read out of sheer curiosity despite amazing barriers but that’s the exception, and not an exception that every exceptional intelligence gets).

            As for what I meant by intellectual achievement not always going to exceptionally intelligent people (if we’re treating IQ as intelligence and not as a related thing but slightly different from the folk construct of intelligence, which I think is dubious):

            Here’s why I think most great intellectual achievements weren’t made by people with very very very high IQ’s. Having worked with all sorts of intellectuals (and given them tests out of curiosity on occasion), and having also worked in the IQ field semi-demi-professionally for a bit, my best guess is that most famous discoveries were made by people somewhere 1 1/1 to 3 1/2 standard deviations from the mean, the one in a thousand types, not the really, truly, incredibly, high IQ people. There are studies to back me up, lots of studies. This is because very high intellectual achievement requires a combination of different things, and IQ is only one thing in the mix.

            Sorry this is rambly but I didn’t have time to write a shorter but more concise response and typed it out at full speed.

          • akarlin says:

            Having worked with all sorts of intellectuals (and given them tests out of curiosity on occasion), and having also worked in the IQ field semi-demi-professionally for a bit, my best guess is that most famous discoveries were made by people somewhere 1 1/1 to 3 1/2 standard deviations from the mean, the one in a thousand types, not the really, truly, incredibly, high IQ people.

            Anne Roe’s 1952 survey of the most eminent American scientists (not even Nobel level but close) found an average IQ of almost +4 S.D. above the mean.

            Your intuition is, in this case, incorrect.

          • Anonymous says:

            Which test did she use in 1952 that had a ceiling that high for adults?

          • Timothy Scriven says:

            Dutton & Lynn in a recent paper comment on the Roe paper you refer to as follows:

            “Small sample. Ages not stated. Discipline members selected in different ways (e.g., psychologists by recommendation from a few “eminent psychologists” but others more randomly). Roe created a special test for all of them, seeing it as “impertinent” (Simonton 2002: 150) to have them take a standard one. Physicists did not have to take the math test because it was “too easy for them.” (Simonton 2002: 150). This means that we can only estimate the physicists’ IQs.”

            Also please note that in 1952 the definition of IQ used would have been mental age over chronological age, rather than the current system which uses standard deviations (it’s a fairly good match for the old system at low levels but not at higher levels.)

            So no, I don’t think Roe’s paper is… strong… here.

        • Techno-Satanist says:

          I think we’re putting too much stock in IQ as a component of Moxie. Across large groups, it would seem that the IQ – Moxie correlation is much stronger than across individuals within group (The Hive Mind IQ Paradox). If different groups experience different Moxie selection pressures, then you would expect selection (on average) to increase all Moxie subcomponents, and to evenly distribute the increase across different subcomponents (again on average). The relationship may be complex and non-linear. For example, this study shows that low-IQ high Machiavellianism individuals do worse than just low-IQ individuals, but the opposite is true for high-IQ, high-machs. In this twin study, Machiavellianism shows the influence of shared environment factors but other DT traits do not. There’s in this meta analysis, there’s no evidence of a correlation between GMA and DT traits. However, the DT wiki page lists a number of papers suggesting group differences in DT traits, often showing cross-group mean differences between groups that have different mean IQs.

          Another trait that is likely a Moxie subcomponent is contentiousness which is negatively correlated with IQ. Finally, autism rates are higher among people in certain fields, particularly engineering. Autism is of course also present in different groups at different rates, and causes weird effects in IQ testing. On the exact opposite end of the occupation scale, celebrity and NPI are also linked, but NPI is not linked to IQ.

          So, here, in my opinion, is pretty strong evidence that there are genetic traits impacting Moxie, that are uncorrelated with IQ at the individual level but are correlated at the group level. Further, there is also evidence that specific occupations are dominated by people with specific traits.

          • U. Ranus says:

            +1 very much.

            You mention The Hive Mind. I haven’t read the book; does it actually fail to look into this?

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Are you aware that the Scottish data is skewed? The mean is defined to be 100, but the mode is 105. This asymmetry has since been corrected by the Flynn effect. But for old data, you shouldn’t ask about variance, but you should examine the tails separately. It is easy to imagine that the higher male variance in that sample is only on the left tail.

          (NLSY is more symmetric and shows maybe 10% higher sd at the high end. That’s not much.)

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Well, regardless of whether you’re aware of that, you’ve probably directly looked at the tails, because this graph is popular. Improving the left tail and moving the mean to catch up with the mode means that the right tail means that the 3:2 ratio at what was once 140 will become a 3:2 ratio at 135, increasing the gap. But it’s still pretty small.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          The idea that men and women are equal in intelligence largely traces to 1912 work by IQ pioneer Cyril Burt.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Women scientists have been doing quite well lately in the life sciences (winning, I believe, 6 Medicine Nobels in this century) but not in the death sciences (not winning a Physics Nobel since 1963).

            “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” sounds pretty cool to a lot of smart boys, but less so to smart girls.

          • John Schilling says:

            Hmm. Lise Meitner (a very smart girl) would have been entitled to as much death-goddess cred as any of her male colleagues, had she wanted it. She didn’t, and distanced herself from that consequence of her work as soon as it became clear where it was headed. This may have contributed to her being denied what most people would consider a fairly-earned Nobel, but a spot on the Periodic Table is a much rarer and arguably more prestigious award.

          • Pku says:

            Even if you’re right and boys are just fundamentally more violent and bloodthirsty than girls, you’d still expect that to show up in a study of sex differences.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            It’s interesting how women did a lot of really important physics and chemistry work in the first two thirds or so of the 20th Century, but perhaps less lately.

            For example, by 1911 Madame Curie had already won two Nobel Prizes.

      • Anonymous says:

        This has a larger N than any of the ones Lynn et al analyzed. Did you update at all?

        • Anonymous says:

          OTOH, it is still just one study, and it investigates only Romanians.

        • Z says:

          An important thing to consider here that the Romanian study uses cross-sectional samples, not longitudinal, like Lynn & Kanazawa, 2011.

          From the Romanian study:

          2.3. Reporting of data

          The results reported in this paper reflect analyses on participant-level raw data from the 6 standardization samples. Results were however not reported based on raw data, because in cognitive ability tests with multiple subtests (each of them with a different number of items and a different difficulty) the total score in not based on raw data, but on sums of age-scaled scores for the various subtests. For example, in the case of the MAB-II, the raw scores for the 10 subtests are not summed up into a total score, but are first transformed in scaled scores, and the sum of scaled scores is further standardized ( Jackson, 2003; pp. 29–31). As a result, for the SON-R, WISC-IV, IST 2000-R, GAMA and MAB-II data was reported in IQ scores, and data was reported as raw scores only for the SPM Plus.

          Age-scaled scores cannot inform well about sex differences across time or age, but are suited for the objective of the present study, that is, comparing sex differences on specific age groups.

          Something to keep in mind.

    • Jill says:

      Maybe all these sex differences that people are so eager to find are not really there. Too bad.

      If only there were more huge differences in intelligence, according to race, gender etc., it would really help the movements to split people into groups by race, gender, sexual preference, religion etc. etc.

      Splintering people into groups that are claimed to be VERY different from one another really helps the tribalization of American to proceed. And it helps the Big Money in Politics propaganda financiers. Because the oldest tried and true method of controlling voters– or anyone– is Divide and Conquer.

      • Rowan says:

        How can you even be *here* and still think those are the axes people are split on? Is “There Is No Blue Tribe” official Blue Tribe dogma now?

        • brad says:

          There’s a strain of American thought that think that there is a cabal of wealthy people that have deliberately foisted all the divisions we actually observe for the purpose of preventing the masses from recognizing their common interest in united against these puppet masters.

          It’s not that the Blue and Red tribe don’t exist, clearly they do, rather it’s that the differences are ultimately trivial and you only see such animosity because it is in The Powers That Be’s interest that the two sides hate each other.

          Interestingly Scott oeuvre takes up part of this theme — that the differences are relatively small — but rather than claiming these relatively small differences turn into heated and bitter rhetoric because of the machinations of a hidden elite, he sees that magnification as a result of natural, maybe even inevitable, processes.

          • Timothy Scriven says:

            I wouldn’t say it’s a strain of American thought, I’d say it’s classical Marxism, as opposed to contemporary left approaches which tend to go in a different direction.

            I’m a classical Marxist. Seems to me there’s a lot to back up sophisticated versions of the division story. It’s not really about a hidden elite, more Moloch style processes of capitalism.

            (Although sometimes it is about more or less conscious elite actors to, it’s just not the mainstay.)

          • Steve Sailer says:

            From the New York Times on 2/13/16:

            “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow,” Mrs. Clinton asked the audience of black, white and Hispanic union members, “would that end racism? Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the L.G.B.T. community?,” she said, using an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. “Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight?”

            At each question, the crowd called back with a resounding no.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/14/us/politics/hillary-clinton-shifting-line-of-attack-paints-bernie-sanders-as-a-one-issue-candidate.html

          • Anonymous says:

            Look at that, a natural example of horseshoe theory.

          • Rowan says:

            Actually, the meaning I intended with my comment was to distinguish between the theories “some cabal is trying to foster race/gender/etc. antagonism to divide and rule America” and “some cabal is trying to foster red tribe/blue tribe antagonism to divide and rule America”, and imply that the former is laughable and can only be believed by someone who’s so absorbed by blue-tribe thinking that they can’t even tell the tribe exists.

          • Jill says:

            Yes, almost no one in the U.S. believes in propaganda, even– especially– when it is right in front of their eyes constantly, and so seems “natural.” Scott is not an exception to this rule.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          How can you even be *here* and still think those are the axes people are split on? Is “There Is No Blue Tribe” official Blue Tribe dogma now?

          Are you kidding me? It’s, like, foundational to a large amount of the mythology of a pretty big segment of them. In which there is no Blue Tribe and Red Tribe, there is only society, and society is racist and sexist and generally in agreement with the Red Tribe. Making themselves the underdogs standing up against this. Of course at the same time they have some recognition that they’ve bubbled themself off, because within the bubble it’s all “this is what every right-thinking person thinks” and “if you disagree you’re evil and only Republicans will hang out with you” and otherwise acting like upperdogs who can get away with that.

          …and then there are the other ones who recognize that they’ve successfully bubbled themselves off and as such treat the Red Tribe as a nonthreatening fargroup rather than as the outgroup. Which is basically, like, most of the readership here, I think. 😛

          What’s more surprising is Jill still acting like the first sort even after spending a decent amount of time here…

          • The Nybbler says:

            Jill’s not acting like the first sort, or at least not their modern variant. She’s acting like a pre-SJ “knee-jerk liberal”, one who reads and listens to all the mainstream publications and thinks various things are just stuff “everyone knows” except those ignorant (generally not evil) folks who have been corrupted by Fox News or something.

            I’m not sure how such attitudes still exist now that their support network has been taken over by SJ, but, apparently they do.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, Virginia, people older than millennials do exist.

          • Anon. says:

            >I’m not sure how such attitudes still exist now that their support network has been taken over by SJ, but, apparently they do.

            They don’t, it’s obviously a troll.

          • Jill says:

            Yes, of course, people who disagree with you are obviously trolls.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Rowan,

            Thanks for the link.

            I lost a post, so I’m trying to recreate it from memory.

            Imo a more useful study would look at how many cops are filmed red-handed doing something horrific, but never receive serious punishment?

            *slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/25/race-and-justice-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/

      • MugaSofer says:

        Wait, is your theory that e.g. Hillary Clinton is pushing “sexist pig, “glass ceiling” and “black lives matter” rhetoric – disregarding it’s truth value for a moment – and various elements of The System are rather incompetently supporting her – because they’re in the pay of Our Secret Masters?

        (Trump presumably is one of our secret masters in this scenario, and so uses the same tactics.)

        Interesting.

        • Anonymous says:

          I… think her theory’s actually that that exact rhetoric is what’s going to stop tribalization and unite America against Big Money, which is why Big Money’s fighting Hillary so hard.

          I know every iota of that sounds crazy. But judging by her comments on Clinton etc…

        • Jill says:

          No.

          I am misunderstood here about 80% of the time. At least I am learning how Red Tribers perceive things. Calling out racism where it it exists, especially where it results in police killing unarmed people, is not splintering people. It’s just facing reality.

          • Rowan says:

            Of course, appending “This isn’t splintering people, it’s just facing reality” to a dubious claim that splinters people is about as far-gone as “splintering people” gets, so exactly how sure are you of all these claims?

          • Jill says:

            And spending large amounts of time combing through tons of studies in order to try to find supposedly genetic differences in intelligence in people according to race or gender– this is not just facing reality as it presents itself to you. It is probably either splintering people and dividing them into groups to conquer them– or else being eager to get split off into groups, since you are convinced that your group will be the superior group.

          • Jill says:

            So Rowan are you saying that when you see a lot of different videos of police killing unarmed black people, that we should just ignore it and accept it as just? Should we ignore all injustices and murderers, in order to avoid splintering people? Or only those committed against minority group members?

          • Rowan says:

            Um okay? I agree that some HBD-er who claims that believing blacks are genetically inferior is “just facing reality” is also bad and wrong, but what does this have to do with me, or if it was about the red tribe generally, what does a claim made by the sort of people who call typical republicans “cuckservatives” have to do with a tribe typified by voting republican?

          • Rowan says:

            I think when I call something a “dubious claim”, you can do better than to just assume we both agree the weight of evidence supports said claim and ask why I want to ignore it.

            The number of videos that end up in the news that feature a black person being murdered by police is not correlated with how racist the police are, it’s correlated with how loud the controversy about whether the police are racist has become. That’s the closest thing to evidence supporting police racism that you’ve presented there, and it’s utterly useless.

            Now, my own investigation of the subject hasn’t been very thorough, I’m mostly informed by our host’s analysis of the subject, and the fact that I’ve never heard anyone on the “cops are racist” side of the debate offer anything better than the rate at which police kill different races unadjusted for the crime rates by each race. This is actually confusing, since they should have learned after literally the first time they talked to anyone who disagrees with them, but somehow it’s all I’ve heard from the blue tribe. That’s if they bother with “evidence” instead of shouting “racist!”

          • So Rowan are you saying that when you see a lot of different videos of police killing unarmed black people, that we should just ignore it and accept it as just? Should we ignore all injustices and murderers, in order to avoid splintering people? Or only those committed against minority group members?

            Actually, what is the relative rate of injustice and murder of minority group members of police versus other minority group members?

            I mean, since we’re caring about justice here, and we don’t care if we’re splintering people, there’s no harm and much good in Effective Social Activism, right? It’s Facing Reality to go “Hey, there’s a cohort of people who do the vast majority of violent crime, let’s examine them in great detail and condemn them for it!”, correct?

            Or, perhaps we can note the large number of videos we see and stories we hear of a very particular kind of perpetrator and victim, look at reported crime statistics and such things, and ask “Do the people who decide what gets talked about in the news have incentive to share one kind of unjust story versus another?”

            I mean, don’t get me wrong, some of the recent cases of police misconduct we have seen recently have been horrifying. But there is a reason why we’ve been hearing about them, and not just, e.g., reading the police blotters for violent crime.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Jill

            We’ve long since reached the point as a society where we do ignore nearly all injustices committed by the police. It is not a step up from that point to pay attention to injustices committed by police against black people, but continue to ignore even the existence of injustices of police against white people. It addresses the wrong problem (racism, rather than the murder and brutality in the first place), which leads to wrong solutions. And it pits black against whites when it should be all citizens against police.

          • Jill says:

            It seems to me like cuckservative is a label that people to the Far Right of Attila the Hun give to people who in the GOP establishment people who look Far Right to Dems– but the GOP establishment doesn’t look Far Right enough for the people who use this term cuckservative.

          • Jill says:

            I do believe we need to revise police training and hiring so that fair treatment for all people that police interact with, becomes far more likely.

          • Rowan says:

            Apart from your weird terminology, that sounds like an accurate summary of how the word “cuckservative” is used. Now, what I was saying on that point was that the people who get called “cuckservatives” are the main, archetypal portion of the Red Tribe, the people you call “to the Far Right of Attila The Hun” are non-central examples, even if they do count as Red Tribe. And the claim that there are genetic differences in intelligence between races is typical of the latter, in fact “they don’t admit that there’s racial differences in intelligence!” is one of the accusations embedded in the label “cuckservative”.

      • eh says:

        The underlying assumption here seems to be that it’s okay to split people into IQ bands and ignore their opinions so long as the proles aren’t noticeably brown or female.

        You may agree with this, or you may not, but it deserves to be talked about. When was the last time you had a drink with someone from the other tribe, or with someone more than a standard deviation away from your IQ?

    • Z says:

      When actually reading through the data, the Romanian study isn’t as simple as the Scott’s one-line summary (or the abstract) would have you think.

      An important thing to consider here that these it uses cross-sectional samples, not longitudinal, like Lynn & Kanazawa, 2011.

      From the Romanian study:

      2.3. Reporting of data

      The results reported in this paper reflect analyses on participant-level raw data from the 6 standardization samples. Results were however not reported based on raw data, because in cognitive ability tests with multiple subtests (each of them with a different number of items and a different difficulty) the total score in not based on raw data, but on sums of age-scaled scores for the various subtests. For example, in the case of the MAB-II, the raw scores for the 10 subtests are not summed up into a total score, but are first transformed in scaled scores, and the sum of scaled scores is further standardized ( Jackson, 2003; pp. 29–31). As a result, for the SON-R, WISC-IV, IST 2000-R, GAMA and MAB-II data was reported in IQ scores, and data was reported as raw scores only for the SPM Plus.

      Age-scaled scores cannot inform well about sex differences across time or age, but are suited for the objective of the present study, that is, comparing sex differences on specific age groups.

      So keep that in mind. Still, with a few exceptions in age groups, the following are in line with Lynn’s findings that IQ differences go from favoring women to men around age 16 onward:

      Table 1: Only goes up to age 11.

      Table 2: Only goes up to age 17.

      Table 3.
      Sex differences by age group for the Raven’s SPM Plus.
      From age group 16-17 years onward, men scored higher than women in every age group except 30–34years.
      There are 14 groups age 16 and up. So 13 groups out of 14 followed the trend of higher male scores reported by Lynn.

      Table 4.
      Sex differences by age group for the MAB-II.
      Same thing, excepting age groups 16–17years, 20–24years, and 50–54years.
      That makes 10 out of 13 groups where men had higher mean full scale IQ.

      Table 5.
      Sex differences by age group for the GAMA.
      Same thing, excepting age groups 16–17years, 18–19years, 45–49years, and 70–74years.
      That makes 11 out of 15 groups where men had higher mean IQ.

      Table 6.
      Sex differences by age group for the IST.
      Here it’s interesting. Only age groups 16–17years, 18–19years, 25–29years, and 60–64years followed the trend.
      That makes out of 4 out of 11 groups where men had higher mean IQ.

      That said, when the male scores were higher, the differences weren’t as great as those found in the studies supporting Lynn’s hypothesis in pgs. 1-2 of Lynn & Kanazawa, 2011. Instead of 4-11.5 IQ points, it’s more like <1-3.

      Anyhow, looking at standard deviation (SD), the trend was as follows:
      Table 3.
      Sex differences by age group for the Raven's SPM Plus.
      7 out of 13 groups had higher SD in men.

      Table 4.
      Sex differences by age group for the MAB-II.
      7 out of 12 groups had higher SD in men.

      Table 5.
      Sex differences by age group for the GAMA.
      5 out of 14 groups had higher SD in men.

      Table 6.
      Sex differences by age group for the IST.
      4 out of 12 groups had higher SD in men.

      That doesn't match with previous findings on gender differences in IQ variance. Very interesting! It should drive further research in the area.

      Anyhow, I encourage people here to actually read the study rather than take a one-line summary at face value, or even the abstract.

  48. Steven says:

    Putting this one in the “no long-term effect of education” folder – whether you took high school courses in a subject has minimal effect on your grade in college courses on the same subject.

    On a population basis, sure. If you’re one of the few people who actually retains a lot of factual material, you can be utterly amazed at how much complete rehashing of material happens in your education in your national-top-percentile school district. Nobody else remembered grade 3-5 science or history lessons in the corresponding courses in grades 6-8, and nobody else remembered the 6-8 lessons in 9-12. I would have been utterly shocked had the same students I’d been peered with in 3-12 had remembered any of the 9-12 material in college, or any of the college material five years after graduating. (Since the student population radically shifted, I couldn’t observe it directly, of course.)

    Which is why I was never bothered by reports that, say, science classes in elementary school were getting cut in favor of extra drill on reading and math in elementary school because of NCLB or Common Core or whatever. It’s not like any statistically-significant number of students were actually learning anything in the science classes anyway.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      One of the amusing aspects of getting old is that you realize that even, say, the bright young interns who write for the Atlantic don’t have much knowledge at all of the American history you lived through in the 1960s-1980s.

      • Guy says:

        I believe last year was the first APUSH DBQ to cover the Reagan era. (In fact, it discussed shifts in the conservative movement in the period you name).

    • grendelkhan says:

      Isn’t it important to be able to educate people? Doesn’t it generally matter that people know stuff and o their jobs competently? Wouldn’t a system that actually educated people have a towering advantage over one that just pretended to?

      The state of education is a poster child for civilizational incompetence. It makes me want to run around outside screaming at the top of my lungs, “EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE AND NO ONE CARES!”.

      I interview people to see if they can program. Lots of people, whether they’ve just graduated with a four-year degree or have somehow pulled down an industry salary for half a decade, can’t. I feel like I’m changing the rules on people who were expecting to bullshit their way through life. I certainly hope that bridge-building is done to a higher standard.

      (For what it’s worth, I have a vague idea that apprenticeship works, and self-paced mastery-based stuff with self-assessment like Khan Academy kind of works if you’re really self-motivated. I feel like this should be bigger news.)

    • moridinamael says:

      See, I think this is probably meaningless.

      When you* take a class twice, you notice that you’ve already seen the material, so you don’t bother studying it again. Or you don’t study it very hard. Then maybe you crash and burn on the first test because your memory isn’t as good as you thought it was, or you just generally perform at a mediocre level which is acceptable to you, since you’re disinclined to study hard at something that you feel like you already know.

      This says more about humans being not-strategic than it does about humans being unable to learn.

      *me

  49. Sniffnoy says:

    David Chapman continues his long effort to convince us that there is a thing called meta-rationality and that it is very important.

    Also, David Chapman makes pretty clear that the “rationality” he’s talking about has just about nothing to do with “rationality” in the sense LessWrong talks about. (As was already clear before, but is worth repeating. Seriously, let’s not get caught up in equivocations here. What’s annoying is that Chapman seems to occasionally conflate the two himself.)

    • rsaarelm says:

      I’m not really sure either what Chapman’s take on the rationality he’s arguing against is, and I wish he’d open it up a bit more as it’s currently coming off a bit straw-mannish. But I think he’s spelling out a pretty important thing that might not get spelled out often enough in the LW-ish rationalist movement. Namely that the Bongard problems are a sort of toy analogue of the sorts of problems you need to be solving all the time in the real world, and we have pretty much no idea how to write down a formal procedure for solving them. Particularly, a formal procedure a human could follow after reading a book.

      There does seem to be an undercurrent in the rationalist movement of people who don’t quite have their stuff together and are sort of wishing for the read it from a book style of decision procedure that would let them win at real life problems, and crushing their hopes and dreams with the hard truths of artificial intelligence theory seems like a valuable public service.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Man, if somebody thought that existed after reading the Sequences, or reading some exchanges between the decision theory people on LW, I don’t know what they were reading. Just more of the degradation from old LW to the “rationalist diaspora”, perhaps? :-/

        • Mongeese says:

          Was the rationalist diaspora a specific event or series of events? Or did LessWrong just outgrow itself and so spill out into various surrounding blogs?

          • Nornagest says:

            The short answer is that, for complicated reasons and not all at once, all the most prolific authors on LW got bored and left. Scott came here. Gwern kept posting on his own blog and didn’t bother with crossposting. Eliezer for some reason went to Facebook, which is about the worst possible platform for rationality, but it’s not like that’s the first strange decision he’s made.

          • Wilj says:

            @Nornagest: That decision was truly incomprehensible to me. I, and everyone (from LW) that I know personally*, stopped following Eliezer’s work for that reason — not in protest or whatever, but just because it’s not a platform suited to keeping track of thoughts and essays. Garbage is mixed in, pieces disappear, it’s troublesome to find specific old posts or search by topic, etc.

            *That’s just two other people, really, but still.

          • Nornagest says:

            This might not be the most charitable way of putting it, but I can only make sense of it if at some level he decided he’d had enough of this whole “raising the sanity waterline” thing and just wanted a place to interact with his adoring fans.

          • Murphy says:

            I do like his Facebook. Though it’s a tad strange. A mix of fan fiction musing with lots of reposts and random news stories.

        • rsaarelm says:

          I don’t know what they were reading

          I’d guess HPMOR. A lot of people got into the rationalism movement via that and I imagine not all of them bothered to dive into the sequences.

        • Nornagest says:

          You know, I always got the impression that Eliezer did think there was a magic decision procedure that would turn its executors into superheroes, and that he’d discovered and successfully implemented big chunks of it. He certainly wasn’t shy about speaking ex cathedra on the subject.

          What I’m not sure about is how complete he thought it was.

          • He seems to have given people the impression that if you get your thinking were insufficiently debugged, that is pretty much equivalent to gaining superpowers….without saying so explicitly.

          • Nornagest says:

            This is more based on stuff I heard in person than the Sequences per se. Although his Cult of Bayes fiction at least gestured pretty strongly in that direction.

          • Jacob Lyles says:

            From my memory, Eliezer’s rhetorical use of Aumann’s agreement theorem probably led people in this direction (briefly, the theorem states that rational actors with access to the same information can’t disagree). I can see how it would make people think there is one right way to think.

      • Rogelio says:

        Bongard problems are essentially identical to problems that you face in many sorts of IQ tests. They are very similar to Raven’s progressive matrices, for example. Assuming for the moment that Bongard problems are essentially IQ tests, and given what we know about IQ, it seems that perhaps the term “meta-rationality” is appropriate. Rationality is the techniques that can be learned to improve your thinking, meta-rationality is the unlearnable talent and insight that you use to develop rationality techniques perhaps.

        What are we to do with the existence of this “meta-rationality”? We already know that we currently have no robust way of significantly improving IQ. We already know IQ is hugely important for almost everything about your life. Even relatively banal parts of living in modern society are g-loaded in a million tiny ways. If rationality is the part of winningness that can be trained, and meta-rationality is the part that can not be trained, then it certainly makes sense to focus on the former, even while acknowledging the latter.

        Another thing about Bongard problems that I’ll note is that while they are likely culture-neutral, it’s possible they are not species neutral or optimization algorithm neutral. Part of your ability to solve them comes from the fact that you know what kinds of things the creators of questions consider salient as humans. An alien that evolved with completely different concerns would possibly create questions that are wholly unlike those in the post. This is especially true as you get to the more tricky ones near the end of the article. If it is difficult for an AI to solve these problems, the reason is all a certain amount of shared knowledge or shared algorithm that the test exploits.

        Practicing Bongard problems will certainly make you better at Bongard problems, but all that tells you is that you’ve understood the sorts of rules that question creators are likely to think of, which is sort of pointless. You don’t get better at the generalization of these skills to the insight needed to create general relativity or recognize that Internet book sales can one day be bigger than brick and mortar book sales.

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          “Meta-rationality” of the Bongard problem type can be taught. You get a lot better at these problems after higher math training.

        • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

          Ilya Shpitser asserts  “Meta-rationality” of the Bongard problem type can be taught. You get a lot better at these problems after higher math training.”

          Bingo! … and this is many people’s experience.

          There wouldn’t be much point in graduate education in mathematics otherwise, would there?

          Proving this assertion experiment is exceedingly difficult, in that “higher math training” is a intensive multi-year program, that at present is largely self-selected by persons who (in Michael Spivak’s memorable phrase) already possess, in some measure, “a certain (perhaps latent) rapport with abstract mathematics.”

          In the general population, which persons possess Spivak’s “a certain (perhaps latent) rapport with abstract mathematics”?

          Under the right circumstances, isn’t the most plausible answer “nearly everybody”? 🙂

      • Mr Mind says:

        sort of toy analogue of the sorts of problems you need to be solving all the time in the real world, and we have pretty much no idea how to write down a formal procedure for solving them.

        This “sort of problem” has a formal name, a better (= more general, funnier) game that exemplifies it, a general solving procedure, both ideal and computable, and spawned the first complete model of a general artificial intelligence.
        It’s called inductive logic, you train / learn it by playing Zendo and Solomonoff induction formally solved it decades ago (although uncomputable, the speed prior being a computable approximation). AIXI is the famous formal AI based on Solomonoff prior and VNM rationality. These things are the bread and butter of rationality as intended by LessWrong and Yudkowsky.
        Chapman simply calls meta-systematic rationality what is commonly called inductive reasoning, and that’s basically everything there is to know.

    • Directed Acyclic Wrath says:

      If I might broaden your thread, what is the community’s take on Meaningness?

      Essentially everything I’ve read from it seems like it is either obviously true (to the point that I don’t understand the effort to create it) or that I’m utterly failing to parse the argument.

      Maybe this is one of those “read philosophy in reverse” things where I should instead be astounded that not everyone realizes that the everyday conceptualization of objects aren’t the ground truth of reality (etc.).

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Chapman is a famous former MIT roboticist, a Heidegger scholar, and a Vajrayana Buddhist. This is interesting enough that I tend to err on the side of believing he has interesting things to say even when I can’t entirely understand them. Every so often I have gotten huge flashes of insight reading his blog, which once again make me err on the side of thinking he has something useful to say even when I can’t quite get at it. That having been said, I agree that when read casually most of what he says seems obvious or boring.

      • Guy says:

        He reminds me of Yudkowski and, to a lesser extent, R Scott Bakker (I just finished TGO, so I’ve got Bakker on the brain). For me, this is a recommendation against, especially because he’s talking about things (to the extent that his talk has an “aboutness”…) that have in my view very straightforward answers. His sensible objections to most claims about AI can be summed up in a few sentences and seem reasonable, but for some reason he seems to believe a book is necessary.

      • Wrong Species says:

        It seems to me like he’s arguing against reductionism, even in theory. He is more willing than most rationalists to tolerate contradictions. Agree or disagree, I don’t think it’s obvious.

      • Wilj says:

        As I said above, I don’t like it. I think he states obvious things in a pretentious manner in some cases, and in others values obscurantism while claiming it’s insight.

        This may be colored by the fact that I disagree strongly with his posts on Buddhism.

        For example, he denounces “sutrayana” as toothless because it encourages, e.g., renunciation of certain habits; but in Vajrayana as he interprets it, there’s nothing to be gained or renounced at all — so which is the less vigorous: practicing self-discipline aimed at understanding the mind and the world, or doing nothing and just kinda hoping? Of course, traditional Vajrayana has a ton of monasticism, and real “sutrayana”, interpeted less uncharitably and cherry-picked, shares many of life-affirming ideals he claims it lacks… but I never wanted to get into it with him because I have a feeling I’d end up being forced to source a thousand different suttas and tantras and then defending my translations, and I already know he dismisses tantric doctrine that shares sutric thought as “corrupted” or simply mistaken.

        There’s a lot more I could say, but I’m operating on fading memory, and am not sure how many here care about Buddhist factional dispute anyway.

      • Bassicallyboss says:

        His “complete stance” or stage 5 thinking is, as far as I can tell, the insight of The Categories Were Made for Man, Not Man for the Categories, on a somewhat meta-level. That is, with the “categories” in question being systems of categorization and interrelation. Unfortunately, I don’t know if this is an accurate summary, since while he’s written a lot about what a complete stance is like, he hasn’t actually written the part of the book where he explains what it is yet. I assume there’s probably a little more to it.

        I rarely disagree with anything he says, and every now and then he clearly (if long-windedly) articulates things I’ve vaguely felt without being able to disentangle by myself. For instance, I’m a physicist with an English minor who used to be nihilist but got over it. While I generally find the culture of postmodernism distasteful, I often find myself agreeing with and feeling enlightened by individual postmodern philosophers when I read them. I never wrapped that all up into one concept until I read the civilizational collapse piece. So my impression is that his writing is useful and interesting, but that he chose his intended audience poorly. Mathematically-inclined humanities folks might get more out of it than STEM pepole who’ve read the sequences.

      • LCL says:

        I thought his categorization up to stage 4 was useful and insightful.

        I strongly doubt he’s totally, or even mostly, correct about the existence, contours, and progression of a stage 5.

        I suspect he may be eventually able to articulate something useful and insightful nonetheless.

        I would be helped tremendously by more-specific examples, i.e. “here is what a stage 4 mindset would likely think and do in situation X, but here is what a stage 5 mindset would likely think and do.”

        • The stages he’s describing aren’t original to him, they’re original to Robert Kegan (and Chapman has said as much) and were initially described in The Evolving Self in 1983. In Kegan and Lahey’s Immunity to Change (2009), the authors mention a few studies that identify a small fraction of the study population as Stage 5 thinkers. The case studies in the book have the kinds of concrete examples you’re looking for.

        • As Meredith says, the stages come from Robert Kegan. Not that many people reach stage 5 (but perhaps more than when he wrote the book?). The book is a little vague about stage 5 and casts it in purely interpersonal terms. There is also the problem that stage 5 “looks like” stage 3 when you try to describe it. Meaningness is unfinished, but I have started to play around with the ideas on my blog (about 5 posts so far) ssica3003.wordpress.com

    • JB says:

      However, by “system” I mean, roughly, a set of rules that can be printed in a book weighing less than ten kilograms, and which a person can consciously follow. If a person is an algorithm, it is probably an incomprehensibly vast one, which could not written concisely. It is probably also an incomprehensibly weird one, which one could not consciously follow accurately. I say “probably” because we don’t know much about how minds work, so we can’t be certain.
      What we can be certain is that, because we don’t know how minds work, we can’t treat them as systems now. That is the case even if, when neuroscience progresses sufficiently, they might eventually be described that way. Even if God told us that “a human, reasoning meta-systematically, is just a system,” it would be useless in practice. Since we can’t now write out rules for meta-systematic reasoning in less than ten kilograms, we have to act, for now, as if meta-systematic reasoning is non-systematic.

      I thought this was interesting as Chapman has previously claimed that meta-systematic thinking is definitely not merely applying systematic thinking to itself. This quote concedes that it might be (or probably is; it’s doubtful that brains aren’t following algorithms), but that because the meta-level algorithm is so complex, it is better to just treat it as a different category of thing entirely. This may be a useful distinction to draw, although it does make me wonder how much of an improvement a consciously understandable system of applying systematicity to itself could make compared to what we have in place now, on the issues he thinks are facing our cultural/political system. Perhaps one of the later 4.X posts will address that. (edit – no, this is wrong, our overlapping government and social systems now could be described as an attempt to do that, and it is not working. doubtful a breakthrough improvement could be made by doing it better, if the conflict between “communal” and “systematic” thinking is actually what’s driving political craziness)

      It does seem like a lot of the ideas and ways of thinking he champions as complete stances reflect the concepts and reasoning used in some of the top posts here. “The words were made for man…” reflects the complete stance on pattern/nebulosity for example, and this is explained in A Human’s Guide to Words as well. I’m not sure if the complete stance is really that different from how an experienced rationalist like Scott thinks, or if it is more of a different way of communicating and drawing boundaries around the same thing. But even if they are, it can be useful to explore the same thing in a different conceptual framework.

      • Peter says:

        For reference – the heftiest tome I could lay my hands on – a big reference book – weighed in at 5kg. 1842 pages, about 12 words per line, 43 lines per page. So 10kg of book works out at about 2 million words. Googling puts the KJV at 783,137 words – lots of bibles use thin paper and small typefaces, I don’t have a print bible to hand, but I’m guessing a reasonably small one would weigh in at 1kg or so. So call 10kg of book 10 million words in round numbers as an upper bound. If we were to encode it as ASCII, then, picking a line of my tome at random (“it is not particular individuals within the set of ex-communist countries who”), we’re averaging 5.4 character per word, call it 6.4 for the space, so about 64 megabytes.

        Which is kinda chunky if you’re talking about code, on the other hand if you pull in some data, I’ve perpetrated some natural language processing systems that weigh in at almost that much – when compressed.

        • Ariel Ben-Yehuda says:

          64 Megabytes of code is a few million lines, which, while big, is about the range of a large project.

      • Jill says:

        Interesting. Communal thinking does not have to be so narrowly tribal as what we have in the U.S. today. There are many possibilities of types of communal thinking.

        The whole thing about a human being an algorithm is interesting. A human is indeed an algorithm or a group of algorithms. But a human is also a biological system and part of one or more social systems. And those latter parts can’t be completely duplicated in any book or machine.

        Some of this stuff may come from the overwhelming and growing tide of people in the modern world who are more and more bionic, being very attached to and emotionally dependent on their electronic devices– and having their social skills decay and decrease.

        I guess that’s the modern world. The machine part of us is given great emphasis– the biological and social parts of humans, not so much. People want only books and machines as their mentors, guides, and associates. No live human beings please– at least not in person, maybe text messages or emails would be ok. Or maybe humans are acceptable when necessary for sex or employment purposes, but please no more than that, LOL.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m not sure he has. He seems to very specifically critique LW rationality and Bayesianism.I agree he is not a specific anti-LW crusader, but I don’t think it’s completely unrelated either.

    • Uncle Ilya Kuriakin says:

      With reference to the empathy-centric arguments of the below-discussed essay by Terry Tao “What is good mathematics?”, isn’t it the case that the “good mathematics” that we discern in Bongard problems has relatively little to do with capacities for solving Bongard problems that are individual and ratiocinative, but rather has much to do with capacities for solving Bongard problems that are social and empathic?

      And isn’t this non-ratiocinative aspect of Bongard problems precisely what makes these problems seem interesting to some people, and annoying to other people?

      To borrow Terry Tao’s criteria — which substantially are William Burke’s Div, Grad, Curl are Dead criteria too (see above) — Bongard problems show us realms of mathematics that are grounded in “insight”, “discovery”, “vision”, “taste”, “beauty”, “elegance”, and “intuition”. And these non-ratiocinative mathematical realms are communicated most clearly, effectively, and enduringly, not in social isolation, but rather in the act of mutual sharing of mathematics … because mathematical appreciation is far more a social than a solitary act (in the view of many, including me).

      Bill Thurston has cogently advocated this view in many of his writings. The following is Thurston’s preface to Daina Taimina’s Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes (2009):

      Many people have the impression, based upon years of schooling, that mathematics is an austere and formal subject concerned with complicated and ultimately confusing rules for the manipulation of numbers, symbols, and equations, rather like the preparation of a complicated income tax return, where there are myriad unexplained steps, rules, exceptions, and gotchas.

      Good mathematics is quite the opposite of this. Mathematics is an art of human understanding. Billions of years of evolution have given us many extraordinary capabilities that we ordinarily take for granted—but we deny these capabilities at our peril. In the abstract, the mere act of walking through a room without bumping into other people or things is a far greater accomplishment than the most sophisticated formal calculation ever done by mathematicians. Computers are far better than humans at formal computations, but humans far surpass current computers at informal and intuitive reasoning.

      Our brains are complicated devices, with many specialized modules working behind the scenes to give us an integrated understanding of the world. Mathematical concepts are abstract, so it ends up that there are many different ways that they can sit in our brains. A given mathematical concept might be primarily a symbolic equation, a picture, a rhythmic pattern, a short movie — or best of all, an integrated combination of several different representations. These non-symbolic mental models for mathematical concepts are extremely important, but unfortunately, many of them are hard to share.

      Mathematics sings when we feel it in our whole brain. People are generally inhibited about even trying to share their personal mental models. People like music, but they are afraid to sing. You only learn to sing by singing.

      It has been asserted (whether factually or facetiously I do not know) that the single strongest predictor of a top-rank IQ score is a strong desire to demonstrate a top-ranking IQ score. In the same vein, isn’t it reasonable to wonder, whether a strong predictor of achieving a top-rank Bongard score, might be an strong desire, grounded in empathic cognition, to share the “insight”, “discovery”, “vision”, “taste”, “beauty”, “elegance”, and “intuition” of Bongard-solving?

      Needless to say, people differ greatly in their individual capacity and liking for empathic modes of cognition. Mightn’t these individual differences account for the sharply differing opinions — even the annoyance and hostility — that are being voiced in regard to Chapman’s essay?

      Particularly in light of ongoing advances in neuroscience, isn’t likely to be a long time before we finish exploring the intertwining ecology of neural architectures by which mathematics “sings in our whole brain” (in Bill Thurston’s vivid phrase)? Only a small fraction of which cognitive capacities are likely to be grounded primarily in ratiocination?

      Kudos to David Chapman for helping to initiate the exploration of this vast and crucial topic! 🙂

  50. Anon says:

    I’m seeing the Hamilton article less as an example of tribal hatred and more of a reaction against the tribal exaltation of the musical from East Coast liberal media types. And frankly, I obviously haven’t seen the show, but with lyrics like:

    The people are asking to hear my voice ..

    For the country is facing a difficult choice.

    And if you were to ask me who I’d promote …

    Jefferson has my vote.

    It’s hard for me to see the insane hype surrounding this show as anything but some sort of tribal posturing that I’m not privy to.

    • Broggly says:

      I’ve always found rap and musical lyrics tend to sound better than they read. And the rest of the lyrics aren’t so simple and straightforward as those. I think Nichols went out of his way to find the ones that look the most boring when written down.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      All (well, most) lyrics sound stupid when written out. Listen to them in context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUOfpIPztKM . I wanted to dislike Hamilton but couldn’t.

      I think “reaction against the other tribe liking it too much” is a textbook example of tribal hatred of something.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Generally speaking, if a lot of people tell you something is of good quality, it usually is good. If rich people are spending huge amounts of money to see “Hamilton,” I’m sure it’s very good.

        When I became a professional film critic in 2001, it became apparent to me with a month or two that the reviewers’ consensus about movie quality was usually correct. If you see 50 to 100 movies per year, it becomes rapidly apparent that some movies aren’t very good and other movies are much better and that which is which isn’t very hard to tell. You can often tell in the first 15 minutes.

        On the other hand, which pretty good movie becomes a sensation among critics and which does not has a lot to do with current prejudices.

        To take two examples from 2006, most critics weren’t intellectually equipped to grasp “Idiocracy” at that point, while almost none understood why they loved “Borat” so much: it was a revival of old-fashioned Borscht Belt Polish jokes. Sacha Baron Cohen’s hilarious hostility toward Pakistanis (Ali G), Slavs (Borat), and Austrians (Bruno) simply didn’t register to them as a conceptual category for the usual Sapir-Whorf reasons.

        “Hamilton” is celebrated both because it’s no doubt good and because it’s the epitome of the ruling prejudices of the Obama-Hillary era. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s dad is a big time Democratic consultant in NYC, who was a close adviser to Democratic centrist Ed Koch, so Lin-Manuel knows exactly what appeals to rich New Yorkers.

        • MugaSofer says:

          >When I became a professional film critic in 2001, it became apparent to me with a month or two that the reviewers’ consensus about movie quality was usually correct.

          Did it occur to you that film critics may simply be better at predicting which films other film critics will like than other people?

          I’ve seen it argued that film critics are heavily biased against the use of cliches, which most viewers are less familiar with and thus don’t mind as much, in favour of “originality”. Action setpieces are much less exciting if you saw five of them yesterday, etc.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            There are the expected biases of critics vs. public, but what really struck me is that some movies just plain work and others movies don’t and there is less disagreement over which is which than I had expected.

            For example, consider Clint Eastwood’s last four movies. “American Sniper” simply works better than “Jersey Boys,” “J. Edgar,” or “Hereafter.” If you watched a random 10 minute clip from each movie, you’d probably agree.

            Politics aside, “American Sniper” gets into a groove and stays there while these other recent Eastwood movies didn’t.

            And it’s not really that hard to distinguish.

            It’s fun to argue over the merits of “American Sniper” versus other movies that also work well. But a lot of high bulk movie reviewing is simply noting which movies work well and which don’t, which is mostly pretty obvious.

        • Thursday says:

          1. I’ve also noticed a lot of excessive praise for a lot of technically polished, pretty good, but not really inspired art that panders to current prejudices: Zootopia, Amy Schumer’s Apollo stand up special, etc.

          2. Critics do sometimes completely miss the boat. A couple of movies that were panned critically, often harshly, but built cult followings are Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry and the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski.

      • Liskantope says:

        By the way, the youtube video you linked to appears to have been taken down…

        Edit: this one is still up.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      I think Hamilton is objectively good (to the extent that any piece of media can be). It seems to be popular among many of the clever non-Americans I know, and we aren’t invested in any tribal politics surrounding it. Also, it is a sung-through musical, so you don’t miss out on much by just listening to the soundtrack rather than watching it, which increases mass appeal.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Those four lines are the setup for the next four lines.

      Pretty weak to quote them incompletely.

      Yo
      (Oh!) The people are asking to hear my voice
      (Oh!) But the country is facing a difficult choice
      (Oh!) And you were to ask me who I’d promote…
      (Oh!) …Jefferson has my vote
      (Oh!) I have never agreed with Jefferson once…
      (Oh!) We have fought on like 75 different fronts
      (Oh!) But when all said and all is done…
      Jefferson has beliefs; Burr has none

      • Anonymous says:

        I feel like that weakens rather than strengthens your claims.
        “We have fought on like 75 different fronts” is significantly more of a school-play lyric than any of the first four lines. “Like” and teenagey [based on what I see online; YMMV] hyperbole?

  51. Sniffnoy says:

    Linking to the Marginal Revolution commentary rather than the original for the spectacular pun at the end.

    OK, I don’t get it.

    • suntzuanime says:

      You don’t get much more basic of a conflict of interest than a piece recommending itself.

    • LCL says:

      It’s a double meaning that’s non-obvious because one of the two meanings seems to be local to Marginal Revolution.

      Cowen (evidently) uses “self-recommending” to mean he’s linking something that should obviously be good or is very likely to be good, based on author and subject.

      I’m surprised to find that’s a local MR usage as I thought I had heard it more broadly. But google only turns up MR or MR-adjacent stuff when I search for “self-recommending.”

      The second meaning is of course that the piece is about doctors recommending their own specialty too frequently.

  52. Said Achmiz says:

    So… David Chapman wrote a whole post about Bongard problems, in which he mentions and cites just about everyone who’s ever had anything to do with the things… except Mikhail Bongard — the man who invented the eponymous problems and wrote an entire book (The Problem of Recognition) about the issues Chapman discusses in his post.

    This strikes me as an insulting omission, frankly.

    P.S. The book is quite edifying, though sadly hard to find. If nothing else, the introduction is a singularly clearly (and entertainingly!) written explanation of why AI is hard, among other things.

    P.P.S. I disliked Chapman’s post for other reasons too.

    • Mongeese says:

      Care to elaborate on the P.P.S.?

    • Wilj says:

      I dislike many of Chapman’s pieces, and I’m surprised that Scott links him. He’s articulate, and I often enjoy the reading, but by the end I’m usually irritated.

      The essays often seem kind of pretentious, as if they confuse “I’m saying something counterintuitive” with “I’m saying something insightful”. Same with “obscurantist” + “deep”.

      I mentioned before that I thought his interpretations of Buddhism, both tantric and, as he would have it, “sutric”, completely miss the mark. Someone asked me to explain and I never got around to it, so if there’s interest in that still I can elaborate, but otherwise I’ll just say that in my (anonymous, unimportant) opinion, he writes well but reasons either poorly or uncharitably re: Buddhist philosophy.

  53. Wrong Species says:

    On Hamilton, that piece doesn’t surprise me at all. The split between the radical and moderate left has been one of the least talked about issues this election cycle. Bernie Sanders represents how the progressive party used to see itself. He isn’t leading a revolution. He is a last, dying breath of the old economic ideals.

    • Timothy Scriven says:

      Maybe. But the last candidate anything like in terms of left wing economic positions was Jesse Jackson in I believe 1984- and Mr Jackson also didn’t get as far as he did. No candidate running so far away from his party’s centre has ever gotten so far to my knowledge, with the only possible exception* being Trump.

      Also his supporters were extremely young demographically as these things go.

      So I’d have to say that it’s far more likely Bernie is the beginning of a new cycle throwing off the shackles of Reganism than that he is the end of old leftism.

      *(I’m sure Trump isn’t really anywhere near as far from his party’s center as Sanders is and was, but I’ll chuck him in for the avoidance of debate.)

      • Wrong Species says:

        I think when it comes to healthcare and banking regulation you are right but when it comes to the broader economic perspective I don’t think so. Definitely not on free trade. I’m not sure what kind of test would prove me right or wrong

    • E. Harding says:

      It’s interesting how the entire Far Left in Congress (Lee, Sanders, Baldwin) is With Her, while much of the Far Right in Congress (Cruz, Lee, Amash, Flake) isn’t on the Trump Train.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Trump is basically an Alt-Centrist. His instincts are Eisenhowerian. Trump’s not very articulate so a lot of intellectuals can’t figure out where he’s coming from, but his idea man Stephen Miller is better at verbalizing Trump’s boredom with recent left-right arguments:

        https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/trump-campaign-statement-on-clintons-acceptance-speech

        • herbert herbertson says:

          I don’t think you need to make up a new term, we already have Third Positionism (arguably on the highly moderate side, if you account for the professed loyalty to capitalism–although his proposed interventions in the economy are also far more significant than than anything anyone to the right of Bernie Sanders has proposed in a long time)

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I think I would describe his philosophy as incoherent populism.

          At any given time, he says what he thinks sounds good to the most people. He can literally take three different positions in one paragraph.

        • trump in private may be much more intellectual than his public persona suggests

          • grendelkhan says:

            I don’t find that comforting, and I’m not sure why anyone else would.

          • Wrong Species says:

            His ghostwriter doesn’t seem to think so. Note this is also relevant for Scotts review of Art of the Deal.

            ‘The inner Trump is the outer Trump’

          • brad says:

            There’s a bunch of Clinton people out there giving interviews saying that Clinton is really warm, engaging, and funny in private and that it isn’t reflected in her public persona.

            Maybe that’s true, or maybe they are just being sent out with talking points, I don’t know. But surely the fact that people are out there saying makes it more likely to be true than if no one was.

            Where are the Trump confidants, even anonymously, telling the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times that of course Donald Trump is playing dumb.

          • Lumifer says:

            There’s a bunch of Clinton people out there giving interviews saying that Clinton is really warm, engaging, and funny in private and that it isn’t reflected in her public persona.

            Holy doppelgangers! : -D

            Let me point out that Hillary’s reputation built over multiple decades is… not that.

          • Wilj says:

            A lot of people who know Trump have said he’s smart (e.g., that woman who worked with him in the 80s, forgot her name). I don’t think they frame it as “smarter than he seems” just because they don’t want to imply he seems dumb.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            “trump in private may be much more intellectual than his public persona suggests”

            I doubt it.

            Trump in private is more charming than his public persona, but I don’t see much evidence he’s, say, read many books in his life.

            A lot of his strength as a candidate is that he’s not very articulate so he doesn’t try to be verbally clever. Rich people have paid clever people to construct a lot of impressive-sounding rhetoric in favor of them pursuing their interests through mass immigration and the like. Trump can’t imitate that rhetoric when he’s talking off the cuff, so he’s skeptical about the policy implications.

          • Devilbunny says:

            Trump reminds me very much of my father-in-law. My FIL is smart (highly successful salesman), but he’s completely not an intellectual. I’m an intellectual, but bad with people. We make a great team: there is almost no problem that can’t be solved when a nerd and a schmoozer partner up (viz. Apple). We cover each other’s deficiencies, and we both know when it’s time to hand the situation off to the other guy.

        • Yakimi says:

          Zizek also claims that Trump is a centrist liberal.

  54. Steve Sailer says:

    Regarding Vietnam’s high PISA scores, from my blog:

    December 4, 2013

    “PISA: Which countries to trust the least

    “… Vietnam, which made a splashy PISA debut with high scores, somehow couldn’t find 44% of their 15-year-olds. At the other end, the dutiful Dutch managed to test slightly more students than were thought to be around.”

    http://www.unz.com/isteve/pisa-which-countries-not-to-trust/

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Argentina, for instance, typically scores very badly on the PISA test, in part because the Argentine educrats round up a higher percentage of 15-year-olds than do comparable countries. For example, Argentina didn’t test 20% of its intended sample, while Mexico didn’t test 37%.

      The United States missed 11% on the last PISA, while traditionally high scoring Finland missed only 4%.

      This is not to say that there aren’t lots of smart kids in Vietnam, just that there are ways to manipulate national scores that need to be taken into account.

    • MawBTS says:

      At the other end, the dutiful Dutch managed to test slightly more students than were thought to be around.

      Sir, please. We live in a civilised society. Nonexistent spectral children deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        One interesting result from the PISA scores of 15-year-olds is that although Mexico and Turkey score pretty similarly on average, there is a much higher percentage of Turkish kids who score at the highest level on the PISA (5 or 6 on a 0 to 6 scale) than in Mexico.

        For example, in 2009 on reading, 9.9% of Americans score at the 5th level or 6th level on a 0 to 6 scale. In contrast, only 0.4% of Mexicans score that high. That’s really bad.

        In comparison, 1.9% of Turks score in the top two levels: not great, but several times the fraction in Mexico, suggesting that in Turkey there are small cultures of elites here and there who impress it upon their kids to hit the books hard.

        That fits my impression from a visit to Turkey compared to a lot of trips to Mexico: the Turkish elite includes more extremely well educated people than the Mexican elite. If you were to make up a list of what’s wrong with Mexico, I’d start with: rich Mexicans don’t care very much about getting their children to read books. Rich Mexicans don’t set good examples for poor Mexicans.

  55. Thecommexokid says:

    Like, is the writer of the Hamilton hate-piece aware that you can buy the soundtrack? There’s no waiting list and it costs a two-digit number of dollars and everything!

    • LHN says:

      And was briefly 99 cents a few months ago. And is on YouTube.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think there are a lot of things that writer isn’t aware of.

    • Jordan D. says:

      Heck, you can even go on Youtube and listen to most of it if you’re a die-hard believer in the right to criticize things without ever spending a cent.

      I knew things were going badly when I saw that diss on the lyrics of The Election of 1812. That song is easily in my top five Broadway songs, and I have listened to a LOT of Broadway music.

      • LHN says:

        I’d also bet that most public libraries either have it or can get it via interlibrary loan.

    • Dan T. says:

      The people on my social media feeds range from far-left to far-right (plus a few hard to place in a linear spectrum), and I can’t recall seeing any Hamilton hate on my feed ever. There are a few avid Hamilton fans, some more who occasionally like to quote or reference it, and probably a lot who don’t care one way or the other (who don’t particularly come to my attention because their salient feature is failing to mention Hamilton at all).

    • Jacob says:

      It’s also on spotify for free

    • Xeno of Citium says:

      Even if you aren’t the writer of the hate piece, if you don’t own Hamilton go buy it, immediately: https://www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Original-Broadway-Recording-Explicit/dp/B013JLBPGE/ref=sr_1_2_twi_aud_2 . It’s less than 20 dollars, it’s brilliant, you’ll play it on loop so often your roommates will conspire to disable your stereo.

      Or at least listen to it online.

    • grendelkhan says:

      From the article:

      One of the strangest aspects of the whole “Hamiltonmania” public relations spectacle is that hardly anyone in the country has actually attended the musical to begin with. The show is exclusive to Broadway and has spent most of its run completely sold out, seemingly playing to an audience comprised entirely of people who write breathless BuzzFeed headlines. (Fortunately, when you can get off the waitlist it only costs $1,200 a ticket—so long as you can stand bad seats.) Hamilton is the “nationwide sensation” that only .001% of the nation has even witnessed.

      I wonder how much of the article would have to be rewritten if the author discovered the entire bloody cast recording (and that is the whole thing, all forty-six tracks) on YouTube. (How did he think that Tumblr got so into it? Pure popcultural osmosis?)

      I like to imagine him mopping his soggy brow, muttering to himself that surely no one will notice. But there’s so much else that’s incoherent here! Should we be talking about Hamilton’s object-level political beliefs? Well, we should hate him for being insufficiently opposed to slavery, but… we should use him as a role model because he liked trade protectionism and trade protectionism is good?

      See also, in Counterpunch, ‘“Hamilton: the Musical:” Black Actors Dress Up like Slave Traders…and It’s Not Halloween‘. Similar article, with the fix made. (Bonus hate for “black pathology pimp” David Simon, which, huh? And “the slave revolt of the 1960s”? So much to unpack!)

      • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

        I wonder how much of the article would have to be rewritten if the author discovered the entire bloody cast recording (and that is the whole thing, all forty-six tracks) on YouTube. (How did he think that Tumblr got so into it? Pure popcultural osmosis?)

        They are also working on a simulcast arrangement once they pass the peak ticket price.

    • Will says:

      The article says: “One could question the fairness of appraising a musical before putting one’s self through its full three-hour theatrical experience. But if nobody could criticize Hamilton without having seen it, then nobody could criticize Hamilton.”

      The implication is that the author has heard the soundtrack but not seen the show, and dislikes it based on the soundtrack.

      The fact so many commenters are missing this (fairly obvious) point makes me skeptical that the review is being read in good faith.

      • John says:

        Really? I take the opposite implication and it appears to me that you’re steelmanning.

        • Anonymous says:

          Really? I take the opposite implication

          How can you possibly realistically believe that the author was unaware of the existence of the soundtrack at the same time as he was able to find quotes of the lyrics? Does this honestly strike you as a probable scenario?

      • James Kabala says:

        The author describes at great length why he finds the musical aesthetically and politically objectionable, yet Scott ignores all this and just says “tribal reasons.”

        • Nornagest says:

          Alternately, Scott has read and understood the reasons why the author finds the musical aesthetically and politically objectionable, and believes them to be tribal.

          • I am the Tarpitz says:

            I’m a vaguely libertarian-leaning Brit with no tribal reasons I’m aware of to dislike Hamilton and no issues with it politically; I have considerable aesthetic reservations about the lyrics. Potted historical recap is not a school of songwriting I find appealing, and this isn’t even a good example of it: there are clumsy, obvious rhymes all over the shop, and not much in the way of wit or invention. The tunes are good, and I’m willing to believe it’s a compelling live experience (Les Mis has some of the most risible lyrics ever created, but by God it can carry you along) but I am not a fan of the libretto.

            Then again, maybe it’s just tribal bias against uppity colonials.

          • Anonymous says:

            In your defense, uppity colonials deserve some scorn. The fools thought they’d be better off on their own, and now look!

  56. suntzuanime says:

    “fifty ways to make people more reflective” at the weird sun blog was insanely good, thanks for sharing

  57. Timothy Scriven says:

    I take it that this is partly an open thread. I wanted to broach a topic that I find quite irritating- claims in the rationalist community that money doesn’t influence politics all that much premised on papers which show that expenditure by candidates during elections has minimal effect.

    1. Why donations give influence even if they have little impact on results.

    Let’s start with an initial, fairly weak argument. Corporations wouldn’t be spending money on elections if they didn’t think it gave them some special influence over policy, and since they have little ulterior motive to spend the money on donations and lobbyists beside influencing policy, and since they’re the ones who actually get to sit in the rooms, I’m inclined to believe them.

    Now another factor here is that candidates certainly believe that they gain an advantage from fundraising. We know this because they spend enormous amounts of time doing it.

    And there are other advantages to candidate fundraising besides winning elections. Fundraising allows candidates to have bigger teams during elections, meaning that more party operatives owe them favours, which can be advantage for internal advancement. Whether or not these campaigns help them win votes, they can turn these members into ‘big names’, which also gives them leverage in the internal party political process. Members of marketing teams need the fundraising to go on so they can keep their jobs, so they have every incentive to put a strong case to the candidates about the importance of fundraising as well.

    2. Other ways that money matters in politics aside from fundraising and donations.

    Elites of all kinds tend to go to a relatively small number of schools (which cost money) go to similar events and have massively overlapping social circles. Money is a factor in access to all these things. They form what C.W. Mills called ‘the power elite’ an interconnected group of economically and politically powerful people. Naturally they tend to develop a shared culture, and a shared ‘accountability’ to each other through the normal social mechanisms such as snubbing, favours etc. There’s a reason Bush went to Yale and there’s a reason Chelsea Clinton married an investment banker.

    Also, even leaving aside the sophsticated stuff about power elites and their circles, politicians themselves are almost always wealthy and have the expectation of being wealthy after they leave office, and so their self-interest will be reflected in their decision making around things like taxation, investment rules etc.

    The ultimate example of this perhaps is the cushy post-politics appointments a lot of politicians get in the corporate or lobbyist sector. Believe me, politicians seen as corporate friendly are more likely to get these appointments.

    The final reason why money matters in politics is that, actually, big corporations do have real leverage over localities, states and countries. Even a hypothetical good and perfectly uncorrupted policy maker just trying to maximise utility would have no choice but to aim to appease these entities, at least to some degree. While there may be ways to reduce this leverage, it would require enormous political capital to do so, so. Thus, in the meantime, special interests have enormous power over politicians even if they are purely altruistic and do not care about re-election.

    • MawBTS says:

      I think the argument is that money and politics have a nonlinear relationship – that there’s no obvious way to convert dollars into votes.

      Hillary Clinton has outspent Donald Trump by more than $150 million so far. No good – his post-convention bounce still put him ahead.

      You’re right that you need certain “table stakes” to even get into politics. And money is very successful at buying the allegiance of “think tanks” and public intellectuals (which can conceivably influence voters).

      • Saul Degraw says:

        Post-convention bounces are normal even for candidates who lose big like Dukakis in 1988 and Mondale in 1984.

        Volatile summer polling is also typical.

        We know that the Dem Convention received more viewers than the GOP convention by a magnitude of several million. We know that HRC has a much more disciplined game and knows how to repeat Obama’s GOTV efforts (which are more than calling people up and reminding them to vote.)

        We don’t know how Trump’s Russian comments are going to hurt him or help him. We don’t know what HRC’s post-convention bounce will be (if any). One advantage Trump has is that he does much better with whites without college degrees than HRC. Traditionally Democrats have done okay with this demographic in all areas except the South. The question is will they come out and vote for Trump in droves and is this group large enough to stem the tide on HRC’s other demographic advantages.

      • Jill says:

        Donald Trump is an outlier, having been given 2 billion dollars worth of free media coverage by the press. He is not typical at all.

        However, the effect of his being a billionaire, on voters, is another kind of effect of money on politics.

        • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

          So the Big Money bogeyman is still dwarfed by the press, then? Perhaps you’re worrying about the wrong thing.

          • Jill says:

            What do you think Big Money contributed to politics gets spent on? Political propaganda disseminated by media, that’s what. They are very overlapping problems. You can’t elect your fave politician by just handing them money and they put it in their pocket. They have to use it on political propaganda in order to get voters to elect them.

            It amazes me that plenty of people believe there is big money corrupting politics but who don’t realize that it has to be spent on propaganda to get voters to vote the politicians in.

            But of course, it shouldn’t amaze me. America is such an on-the-surface active-but-not-reflective culture that no one here believes in propaganda even when they’re constantly immersed in it. It’s like the water around a fish. Seems normal to everyone.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            I haven’t seen any sign that the fish around here are unaware of water. What’s baffling everyone is your repeated (and repeated, and repeated) claim that Newt Gingrich invented water in 1994, and before that we were swimming around in something else.

            The point remains that the power you’re worried about is in no way a creature of Big Money; it’s inherent in the power of mass communication, and exists regardless of whether Big Money happens to be renting it out at the moment.

          • Silva says:

            What do you (Paul Z.) think mass communication is made of? In Moldbuggian parlance, Brahmins work for Optimates.

        • E. Harding says:

          “2 billion dollars worth of free media coverage by the press”

          -If you had 2 billion dollars worth of disproportionately negative coverage, would you be able to handle it, much less exploit it the way Trump has?

          • ii says:

            Probably? Getting hounded seems to work out in one’s favor if one can spin it as an attack against one’s support base as Putin’s approval rates show.