"Talks a good game about freedom when out of power, but once he’s in – bam! Everyone's enslaved in the human-flourishing mines."

Open Thread 59.75

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

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813 Responses to Open Thread 59.75

  1. blacktrance says:

    Question to our host: to what extent do you still endorse your Consequentialism FAQ?

    • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:
    • Scott Alexander says:

      Complicated question. I don’t think I vehemently disagree with any specific part of it, I’ve just moved on to thinking of things in different ways and in response to different problems. It seems kind of juvenile and overdone now, though I can’t put my finger on exactly why.

      I feel the same way about the non-libertarian FAQ – useful as a response to people that I no longer encounter and to problems that I no longer worry about as much.

      • LPSP says:

        Trying too hard, trying to sound clever with pithy references, formatting and pace, lack of consideration for prosaic rules you now take as skeletal to a good essay? I feel the same way sometimes when I stumble across one of my own posts in a 4chan archive.

  2. Anatoly says:

    You’re a Martian xenopsychologist who works in the field of human psychology, specializing in humor and laughter. You are shown this video recorded at a human scientific conference:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL_-1d9OSdk

    How would you explain to your fellow Martian xenopsychologists (who know much about the humans but are not humor experts, unlike you), what is it about this presentation that makes the audience laugh so hard? Clearly something is funny, but what is it, and why is it *so* funny?

    • Anonymous says:

      How would you explain to your fellow Martian xenopsychologists (who know much about the humans but are not humor experts, unlike you), what is it about this presentation that makes the audience laugh so hard?

      “As you know, the ‘humor’ complex of the psychology of our inward cousins is notoriously difficult to grasp or define. This video represents a particularly baffling strain of the ‘humor’ activity. I have dedicated my life to the study of it, and I still can’t explain it worth a damn. This address is my farewell to you all.”
      Then I rupture my suicide gland.

    • dndnrsn says:

      “The clear reason that the earthlings find this amusing is the juxtaposition between the seriousness of an organized and prepared academic presentation, including slides, and the ridiculousness of the earthling on stage merely repeating the name of another earth species.”

      In human talk, a lot (most? all?) of humour involves juxtaposition of unlike things, surprise, etc.

      • It also helps that it’s a somewhat low-status animal. It presumably wouldn’t be quite as funny if it were “eagle eagle eagle”.

        One part of humor is seeing people behaving mechanically, though I’m not sure what it takes to make mechanical behavior funny rather than boring. In this case you have two kinds of mechanical behavior– the standard scientific presentation and the repetition of chicken.

        • John Schilling says:

          In this case you have two kinds of mechanical behavior

          And yet the part that pushed me over the literal-LOL edge was the response to the second (content free) question, going back a specific chicken-themed graph to back up the emphatic “chicken chicken…” response. The one part of the whole thing that wasn’t scripted or mechanical.

          Absurdity coupled with understanding and/or reverence of the source material often makes for effective comedy.

    • Publius Varinius says:

      Screw the Martians, I don’t get it either! I mean, if I was there, I’d laugh along due to peer pressure, but I don’t understand why people find this funny.

      • onyomi says:

        This is probably funnier to academics in an academic conference-like context, because I think the humor derives from the presentation having all the trappings of something serious, but with all the content replaced by the name of a stereotypically kind of goofy flightless bird. That is, it wouldn’t be funny if he weren’t in a conference room, wearing a button-down shirt, and showing a Powerpoint with lots of the graphs, flowcharts, etc. one expects to see at such a presentation.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Likewise, it would be funny if someone in a very “low” context – say, a bunch of good ol’ boys shooting the shit and drinking a few beers – showed up in a button-down and started giving a detailed statistical presentation on the time Old Man Barnes’ cat got stuck in a tree.

    • Aegeus says:

      “The earthling idea of ‘humor’ derives from incongruity, absurdity, and surprise. The appearance of the contentless ‘chicken chicken chicken’ speech in a serious academic context creates humor from the absurd juxtaposition. The straight-faced delivery in a normal tone of voice, coupled with powerpoint slides and charts that are expected for a serious presentation, enhances this contrast. Also, the introduction of the comedian as a normal speaker creates surprise.

      Additionally, humans have the concept of a “running gag,” where extending a joke can enhance the humor. Note how the audience laughs the hardest when new things appear in the powerpoint – the flowchart, the citations, the graphs. As the joke continues and more detail is added to the presentation, the audience starts to ask themselves “What will he think of next?” This enhances the absurdity by showing he put serious effort into what is ultimately a pointless joke.

      Lastly, some words are perceived by humans as ‘inherently funny.’ This is not a well-studied area of humor, but it’s clear that this joke would not have been nearly as funny if he had merely said “Blah blah blah” for four minutes.

      Any questions?”

    • Vorkon says:

      “Earthling. Earthling. Earthling…”

      I’d have them rolling on the floor by my fifth holo-slide.

    • LPSP says:

      All humour is derived from a principle of absurdity-through-… well, principle, of applying things we accept as true in a novel way to reveal a surprising truth, and to thus open creative space and relieve tension.

      The specific contents of the powerpoint slide do not even need to be examined to understand some of the humour here, as anticipation of a silly and transgressive event can be enough to generate tension-and-relief. The formatting and presentation of the… well, presentation, fits entirely within normal accepted brackets bar the sole exclusion of author credits and the word “chicken”. Chickens themselves have inherently amusing properties – their simple minds, posturing, smal stature, odd and distinctive physical attributes and sounds, status as a food item, and association with cowardice, gags and France. You could substitute other birds, farm animals or stupid/French things and the humour would be intact.

      I imagine the Martians, if they have any capacity for systemic curiousity such as that of us Earthlings (which is almost certainly the case if they are asking about us) would find this a fascinating systematic oddity, and would experiment with trying to push the rules of humour, it’s structural guidelines, to its Martian-apparent extremes – which may be completely unknown to us Earthlings, and thus side-splitting.

    • Martian xenopsychologist says:

      Humans often laugh as a social signal of being non-threatening, to diffuse tension.

      This video shows agitated person with clear sign of being mentally unstable.
      Mad speaker is perceived as a threat since his behavior is unpredictable to the audience.
      Then audience tries to calm him down with signaling safe environment through laughter.
      It doesn’t seem to work, since mad speaker gets agitated more and more by the noise.
      But for a while audience assumes this is ue to bad reception and tries to amplify the signal, laughing louder, creating positive feedback loop.
      Thankfully, mad speaker runs out of energy soon enough, and just in time audience realizes it’s strategy wasn’t producing any results, and they tried different approach by talking to him directly and engaging in his delusion. They quickly realize mad speaker isn’t a threat, stabilizing the situation.

      Since there are another person at the scene, and he doesn’t appear to be surprised by what was going on, I assume this was some sort of training exercise, and madness was probably an act.

    • Shion Arita says:

      The fact that the presentation maintains the form of similar things (powerpoint presentations in general, gaphs, bullet points, etc) but with all the actual content removed, is both unexpected and serves to highlight how odd the form and format conventions of those powerpoint presentations are.

  3. Dr Dealgood says:

    So recently I joined a new lab working on stem cells in the context of reproductive health. As part of getting my footing I’ve been diving into the literature. And one stylistic thing that keeps popping out at me is that the same awful pun keeps getting used over and over in almost every spermatogeneis paper.

    I’ll admit, reading that this or that citation is seminal work was funny the first few times. But the joke kind of wears thin after a while.

    For all the academics publishing papers here: do you deliberately insert puns into your manuscripts? And if you do, how often do you do it?

    • I can’t remember having ever done it, but it wouldn’t seem that odd if an appropriate pun was available. Hopefully not one so obvious that it had been used many times before.

    • Eltargrim says:

      Only one publication so far, but I’m dying to put one in. My field is NMR spectroscopy, which lives on terrible acronyms. Some fun ones are the incredible natural-abundance double-quantum transfer experiment (INADEQUATE), proton-enhanced nuclear induction spectroscopy (since renamed, and an essential part of the field), and the wideline, uniform-rate, smooth truncation (WURST) pulse, so named because the pulse resembles a sausage.

      I think once per manuscript would be the limit, and then only in the introduction or conclusion. I wouldn’t want it to interfere with the actual science.

      I will agree that your example seems overdone.

      • Gerade says:

        You forgot the best! Proton Enhanced Nuclear Induction Spectroscopy. The author was aiming for his last name, but missed the mark.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        At least your guys acronyms are genuinely clever.

        Biochemists should be forbidden from using acronyms. We have a horrible tendency to make nested acronyms, where one letter of the acronym stands for another acronym. Sometimes they’re multiple layers deep!

        • Eltargrim says:

          In fairness, the primary purpose of the WURST pulse is now in the WURST-QCPMG pulse sequence, which is sometimes referred to as the WCPMG sequence, so we’ve got some nesting going on as well.

          I’m pretty ok with nesting acronyms, as sometimes acronyms can take on a life of their own (e.g. LASER, RADAR). As long as clarity in communication is maintained, things can nest as far as they want.

        • Shieldfoss says:

          Let me introduce you to VHDL.

          Now HDL makes sense – “Hardware Description Language” – a specific terminology and protocol for describing hardware – VHDL being a language for describing V hardware.

          V, of course, is “Very high-speed integrated circuits.”

      • Shion Arita says:

        NOESY
        COSY
        ROSY
        DOSY
        HOESY

        (those are all real)

        • Eltargrim says:

          I work in solids, so we’ve also got fun things like talking about the magic angle.

          What kills me is we have REDOR, REAPDOR, TRAPDOR, and all of the other double resonance experiments, and then we have DOR, which is completely unrelated to the above.

    • Alex says:

      Is this an intended pun? The phrase “seminal work” is quite common in my not semen-related field. Seems like something that junior researchers would pick up without much thinking.

    • pku says:

      I tried, but my adviser made me take it out :\

      OTOH, I had a friend who organized a conference called the Bi-Annual Tropical Meetings Of Brown And YaLE, or BATMOBYLE. He worked on that one for a while.

      The conference started by playing the Adam West Batman show’s opening, and used kapow instead of QED.

    • hyperboloid says:

      Dr Dealgood:

      Since I gather you’re a biochemist who does work with stem cells, I’m going to hijack this thread to ask you a completely unrelated question.

      Do you know anything about how the mechanism of stem cell differentiation varies across species? I am a specifically interested in Actinopterygii, the ray-finned fishes. I have heard that there has been some success in producing induced pluripotent stem cells from zebra fish.

      Also is there any special difficulty in getting stem cells to differentiate into germline cells, in particular female gametes? There is a particular reason I am asking.

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        Ok, short disclaimer: I’m not a doctor yet, my name here is a Beyond Thunderdome reference. IRL I’m a grad student with no particular experience in ag genetics.

        Reprogramming factors aren’t always the same between species, and stem cells are finicky about how you grow them. The same applies to differentiating those cells to the point where they produce gametes: even in mice it’s a hassle just to get from a spermatagonial stem cell (SSC) to a spermatid. So you’d need to do a fair bit of groundwork to get H Huso to the point where generating ova at all would be practical.

        Even at that point, you’d be in roughly the same boat as the cowless beef people. Caviar is already pricey but you’re talking about $300K burger pricey. Maybe there’s a market there, and it wouldn’t stay that expensive forever, but I wouldn’t count on ever getting your investment back.

        TL;DR: If you were willing to spend a preposterous amount of money, way more than just running a fish farm, you could probably make fishless caviar in small quantities.

        • hyperboloid says:

          While there are fish farms for some other species of sturgeon, and there are hatcheries which breed and release juveniles to restock wild populations; beluga aquaculture of the sort that is common with other anadromous fish like salmon is just not a workable idea.

          H. Huso is a massive, and quite long lived (they take about twenty years to reach sexual maturity ), creature. The largest specimens ever captured weighed in the range of 1,500 kilos, and even an medium sized animal can be twice the size of an average blue marlin.

          As for the economics of cultured caviar, there are several different estimates of what the costs of cultured meat products might be once an economy of scale takes hold. Mark Post of Maastricht university, the man responsible for the $300,000 burger you’re talking about, gives an estimate of about nine dollars for the marginal cost of that same burger; though he is neither an economist nor an unbiased source.

          looking at data form the bureau of labor statistics the the price of ground beef is between seven and eight dollars per kilo. compare this with the current price of beluga caviar which is around five to seven thousand dollars per kilo. To say that caviar is pricey is a little bit of an understatement.

          And keep in mind, unless I’m mistaken, caviar is a much simpler product from a biological point of view; what your trying to sell is just an aggregate mass of individual cells, rather then some kind of complex tissue.

          With ground beef you have to structure fat and muscle cells into something that resembles the authentic product. And with something like a steak you’re dealing with collagen, and vascular structures that probably contribute a lot to taste and texture. Relatively speaking, caviar is the low hanging fruit of cultured animal products.

          And, given that the beluga sturgeon is critically endangered, I’m sure there is some way to write off some of sunk costs of the whole enterprise.

          For instance a “save the sturgeon” foundation could be established (for purely charitable purposes of course /s) to solicit donations that would cover some of the R&D expenses.

          also…

          WHO RUN BARTERTOWN?

  4. sohois says:

    Having read the recent election posts and a great deal of the responses there within, I have a question which seemed unrelated to the choice of candidate, so I wanted to ask it in an open thread. My apologies to those of you sick of political bickering, though I do hope answers can be provided without devolving into a red vs blue fight.

    Within the comments specifically, I saw a number of posters referring to a “culture war” or something similar, that was ongoing and a reason for their voting preference. In his post, Scott made indirect references to this as well, whilst when I went to the subreddit I saw many more people referring to this.

    Now I broadly understand this concept to be about “SJW” battles, arguments over racism and pronouns and safe spaces and cultural appropriation and that area, and i think most would agree with this definition (though I note in the subreddit that their culture wars OT simply describes it as anything that is controversial and falls along tribal lines). I am also familiar with previous posts from SSC arguing over such topics and the popularity of their discussion here.

    My question relates to the “war” aspect. When people talk of war it conjures up an image of a nationwide (or Global?) fight, with everyone taking sides and the conflict affecting all facets of life. I don’t know if everyone would agree but I think that’s a reasonable statement. However, I’ve yet to see any convincing evidence that this “culture war” actually exists according to such a definition. All I really have to go on is a lot of anecdotal evidence, from college campuses or tumblr blogs or twitter spats, but the overriding image is that of a fight mainly being fought in such areas – at universities, fringe parts of the internet and media and so forth. Nothing like so large as to describe it as a war.

    I understand why these issues still concern a lot of people, yet for many respondents it appeared to be an issue of such importance that it entirely decided their voting preferences – they believed that this was some large scale war of massive consequence. SO my question is what upon evidence do you base this belief in a culture war on? Why do you believe that this topic goes beyond universities and blogs to become so important as to warrant deciding election preferences? For my part the “SJW” fight seems to form such a small part of daily life that I cannot imagine it being so relevant, and I would appreciate seeing what evidence people base this on.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I like to say “Culture Wars” plural. The current flareups (which, as you correctly note, are limited to certain bubbles) are not the first, or the first in the US. Back a couple decades or so and the major “front” was abortion, for instance (of course, abortion is still a hot-button issue).

      People here tend to be in bubbles where this stuff is important, so they think it is of overwhelming importants. Additionally, the bubbles where it’s happening are sometimes disproportionately influential elsewhere – universities, certainly. While only something like 20-25% of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, more than 20-25% of the population is influenced by what happens at universities.

      • Anonymous says:

        That 20-25% is misleading. Commuter schools don’t have students lighting themselves on fire in the quad because the sushi in the dining hall isn’t authentic enough.

      • Randy M says:

        The first culture war was probably abolition of slavery, though establishment of state churches might have been a thing in early colonial times with a more amicable and thus less remembered resolution. Another historical example would be prohibition of alcohol.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      A little while back, I was out at a club with my friends and a bomb went off in a nearby neighborhood. Several other unexploded bombs were also found in other parts of the city. Neither I nor anyone I knew was hurt, thankfully. But I’m really not thrilled that people are attacking my city and, by extension, trying to kill me and my neighbors.

      Over the last year or so, a series of race riots have broken out in cities across the country with similar demographics to mine. This alongside a broader crime wave which looks to reverse the gains of the nineties and oughts. I’d rather that this trend doesn’t spread to where I live.

      Our response to terrorism and crime are part of the culture war. So, from my POV, this isn’t just an internet problem. There are prominent people in America who are willing to trade the safety and stability of my neighborhood for abstract ideological concerns and they cannot be allowed to succeed.

      • sohois says:

        To be clear, with your last paragraph, you believe that people are limited in their ability to tackle these issues due to, for example, accusations of racism or Islamophobia which might be leveled at critics and thus shut down discussion or dissent? And thus you feel that certain policy lines have been unduly shifted one way or another due to the inability to criticize, and this is harmful to America? Is this an accurate summary?

    • onyomi says:

      Part of what is worrisome about it is precisely that these kinds of debates, and a corresponding sense of needing to take sides, seem to keep expanding to include more and more facets of daily life. Maybe used to be the purview of a few campus radicals, then a few internet radicals, but now we’re seeing, e. g. the highly politicized Oscars, about which I’ve complained previously, and players at my school kneeling during the national anthem before a football game.

      Previously, a college football game wasn’t really the place to take a stand (by not standing) for racial equality, regardless of your particular feelings on the issue. Now, apparently, it is. And everyone can see where each student “stands” on the issue, with the result that people who might have been neutral are forced to choose sides–hence “war”: aspects of life which previously did not feel adversarial (beside the friendly competition in this example) become adversarial.

      This kind of thing certainly hasn’t infiltrated all aspects of daily life yet, but part of the “war” is precisely between those who want to push that “personal is political” envelope, and those who don’t.

      • dndnrsn says:

        As with actual war, you’ve sort of got a situation where being neutral does often effectively mean being on one side or another.

        • gbdub says:

          There is serious disagreement over this, and that’s part of what the current edition of the culture wars is about.

          More particularly, I (and much of the anti-SJW crowd, but also others in many tribes) would like to maintain greater separation between the personal and political. As in, yeah it’s important to be engaged, informed, etc. on major controversies – but it’s equally important to be able to retreat to a “depoliticized zone” from time to time. More broadly, I feel the world would be a better place if we maintain a general détente with people of differing political stripes in e.g. the professional workplace. It’s a bad thing when your whole livelihood gets tied up in signaling the appropriate opinions on important but unrelated hot button issues.

          • Gazeboist says:

            it’s important to be engaged, informed, etc. on major controversies

            Is it? I’m lately coming around to the idea that the right to not participate, to not have an opinion and stay out of the decision-making, is a pretty fundamental one.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Gazeboist

            You won’t like Australia then, or anywhere with compulsory voting.

          • Gazeboist says:

            I used to think compulsory voting was a good idea, actually. This “right not to participate” thing is, as I said, a relatively recent conclusion (or place, at least) that I’ve reached.

            I was pretty crazy five or six years ago. Still crazy now, but differently so.

          • Aapje says:

            @Tekhno

            I assume that you can select the blank option in Australia and aren’t required to tell people who you voted for. These features allow you to con-participate, even with compulsory voting.

            Of course, there are also (dictatorial) countries that have compulsory voting where you can’t choose not to choose.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @gbub:

            I’m not going to disagree with you there. I have friends who I don’t share political views with. I don’t make a big deal about it.

            However, there is a point to what the “being neutral means being on the side of the status quo” people. Sometimes they are factually correct.

      • Anonymous says:

        This kind of thing certainly hasn’t infiltrated all aspects of daily life yet, but part of the “war” is precisely between those who want to push that “personal is political” envelope, and those who don’t.

        Yes!

        In fact, I’d take it further: that is the war. The specific instances are just skirmishes, battles, theaters. The real culture war is between limited politics and the politics of the panopticon.

        • Anonymous says:

          This “war” is about whose ox is being gored.

          Go listen to “Harper Valley PTA”.

          • Anonymous says:

            This reply made no sense to me. Besides, every bantling knows it’s ultimately Finbennach who gets gored, no point arguing.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Finbennach did nothing wrong!

          • Anonymous says:

            Well, from the perspective of SJWs he did commit the unpardonable crime of moving from Medb’s herd to Ailill’s because he couldn’t stand the thought of being owned by a woman.

          • Naomi says:

            I’ve always loved that song, yet I have no idea what point you are trying to make.

          • Nicholas says:

            The upshot of the reply is that “The right to be left alone” is not a faction, but a tactic.
            The Culture Wars are a social struggle to change people’s behavior, with factions lining up based on which behavior you choose. Whichever side is currently losing the culture war retreats to the right to be left alone, because it is the losing side that is expected to make concessions by changing their behavior. It’s kind of motte and bailey -esque, where you want to pretend that your crushing defeat was a draw, and now that you won’t be able to force me to change my behavior (as you would be doing had you won) can’t we all agree that forcing people to change their behavior is wrong, and let bygones be bygones until the next time you want to force me to change my behavior?

      • sohois says:

        I understand your meaning here, but do you not think it’s something of a slippery slope argument? It doesn’t seem like a once a year industry awards show or some protesting athletes is still coming close to ‘daily life’. I wouldn’t hold the growth of this from a fringe activity to slightly less of a fringe activity as strong evidence for it becoming a massive ‘culture war’

        • The Nybbler says:

          We’re really getting into “Aside from all that, what have the Romans done for us” territory here.

      • Winter Shaker says:

        Just as an aside, I was struck by how weird it is from my perspective on the other side of the atlantic that whether or not to kneel for the national anthem before a college football game could be culture-war-ized in this way in the first place because what? You guys are expected to routinely affirm your loyalty to the nation in song before an event as trivial as a college football game? That at least is something where what I assume is more of a red tribe preference than a blue one still holds sway.

        (I will grant that your national anthem is a much better tune than ours – do you reckon there would be quite such enthusiasm for singing it so far down the scale of importance of public events if you had a tune as boring as God Save the Queen?)

        • Aapje says:

          You guys are expected to routinely affirm your loyalty to the nation in song before an event as trivial as a college football game?

          This is probably the result of the US being a nation of immigrants with a long history of integration problems. In the EU you also see that one response to integration issues is to require symbolic gestures to show allegiance (not wearing head scarves, shaking hands with the opposite gender, etc).

          That at least is something where what I assume is more of a red tribe preference than a blue one still holds sway.

          I would argue that both tribes engage in virtue signalling extensively, but in different ways.

        • AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

          There’s a bunch of weird cool social science correlations with this and patriotism.

          It probably ends up as simple as people willing to strongly route for a home-team given by birth are more likely to strongly route for a country given by birth (with all the pros and cons)

          • hlynkacg says:

            On the flip side, I find it odd that so many people seem to lack an instinctual sense of teamwork / tribal loyalty.

          • Fahundo says:

            I find it odd that you put teamwork and tribal loyalty next to each other like that.

          • hlynkacg says:

            You wouldn’t?

          • hlynkacg says:

            So how do you account for “esprit de corps” or “taking one for the team” in your worldview?

          • Fahundo says:

            You take one for the team that has the best goals, not the one you were born into or are affiliated with purely by chance.

          • hlynkacg says:

            What does birth have do with it? For that matter what do goals have to do with it?

            Is it really a matter of pure rational calculation to you?

          • Fahundo says:

            Aoxy’s comment mentioned home sports teams and country of birth, so I figured that’s where you were going with it.

            And I can’t claim to be a perfect rational actor but I do think that would be ideal.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I was thinking in the more general sense but I think the case still holds.

            In a world of purely rational actors a man who makes sacrifices for the team is a sucker.

          • brad says:

            Hlynkacg,

            I think maybe you are failing to consider the guy that’s a really good friend (vs the guy that’s a really good cousin.) Of course one can be both, but the point is you can have loyalty and sacrifice and whatnot to a group you’ve chosen.

          • Fahundo says:

            What if there is a desirable goal that can only be accomplished if the rational actor makes the right sacrifice for the right team? And the goal was worth more to the man than whatever it was he sacrificed.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Brad

            There are obvious reasons for a strict rational actor to value the welfare of those to too whom they’re genetically related over others, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

            I’m talking about the apparent absence of a team/tribal sense in it’s own right.

            @ Fahundo

            In that case it would seem that “the team” (for good or ill) is not a factor in the decision. That is what I find odd.

          • Anonymous says:

            If football payers could only understand teamwork.

      • Aegeus says:

        In defense of the football game thing (I find it personally annoying, but I think they’re free to speak), protests exist to draw attention to things that people would rather ignore. Which means that asking people to only hold their protests in ways that don’t disrupt your life, which can be safely ignored, is sort of indirectly asking people to not hold effective protests.

        People waving signs on the college campus is a Tuesday. It won’t make the news, not unless there’s a really big crowd. But one person not standing at a football game gets attention. The most effective protests are ones that will be seen outside the Designated Protest Area.

        (Relatedly: Is this actually a trend, or is it just that this tactic hasn’t been used in a while? I find it hard to believe that, say, the Vietnam war protesters, who were willing to go up against the National Guard, were unwilling to disturb the sanctity of a college football game.)

        • Gazeboist says:

          It may be a new tactic, rather than a rare one. I’m willing to believe that Vietnam protesters would have done a similar thing, but I’m also willing to believe they didn’t think of it.

          • Psychophysicist says:

            Not a new tactic, here is an obvious precedent.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Olympics_Black_Power_salute

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            If you want to raise attention and ruffle feathers, you go after the opposing side’s symbols. The national anthem and team sport games in general seem like they might be the Red Tribe’s domain today much more than they may have been fifty years ago.

          • LPSP says:

            If you want to raise attention and ruffle feathers, you go after the opposing side’s symbols.

            Boom. Exactly the same reason a chinese might prefer Trump to Clinton – Trump is merely attacking their practices, Clinton threatens their rituals. The latter is always nearer to the end goal than the former, so it always strikes a deeper nerve.

            As a principle, if someone or a group of people reacts far more to what you thought was an instrumental criticism that you expected, you’ve actually struck on a ritual. It’s a useful lens for understanding the SJW talk we’ve seen in these last few threads.

          • pku says:

            Wait, which chinese rituals is Clinton attacking?

          • LPSP says:

            Their human rites abuses. She characterises these things. HOW she characterises them is irrelevent; only that it is characterised, and an attack.

            “You’re amoral and you need to change your ways!” never persuades, in a nutshell.

    • Fahundo says:

      I’m in the military. At least once a year, sometimes more, we are required to attend a briefing on sexual assault. Now, this isn’t necessarily what happens in practice, but at least according to the curriculum, sexual assault is starting to be defined similarly to the “a simple yes is not enough; you need to file your consent forms in triplicate or it’s rape” standard that you hear about on college campuses. I have also been told that after one beer a woman is incapable of giving consent.

      Also, our CO is currently trying to eliminate all curse words and politically incorrect language at the command. I don’t think he’s likely to succeed at controlling the way people talk when he’s not in the room, but that is his stated goal.

      I think of the military as very “red tribe” in general, so the trend does seem to be moving beyond college campuses and progressive tech companies. I don’t think I’d call it a culture war, but there is a culture-something going on.

      • bean says:

        The military has long been vulnerable to this, despite its ‘red tribe’ status in other ways. The most obvious example is Tailhook 91, although I’ve heard of quite a few others. It is a bit baffling, but I’m not sure that the military is necessarily a bellwether on these issues.
        (For those who don’t know, Tailhook 91 was a naval aviation conference that got very rowdy, and ended up with almost everyone who was there getting fired. Even people who were in different hotels to avoid the party. Several key witnesses to “mass rape” identified people who were on aircraft carriers at the time as their attackers, and this was ignored. I simplify slightly, but the people involved seemed to be channeling McCarthy.)

        • bean says:

          I’ve thought this over more, and I see a common element of both military and college which might drive them to similar solutions. In both cases, you have large numbers of young people who are bound much more tightly to the institution in question than is normal elsewhere. When a college student, you live, eat, and breathe college. The same is true of servicemembers and the military. This relationship might lead them to attempt much tighter control of the students/soldiers than would happen elsewhere. So the military isn’t a bellwether, it’s just a lot like college in some ways.

          • CatCube says:

            Not only just necessarily being more tightly bound in general, but the fact that the tight binding means that socialization tends to occur within the organization–meaning that both the perpetrator and the victim are in your organization.

            If you’re a fellow student (in college) or a coworker (in the military) of both the victim and the alleged perpetrator, you tend to get pushed to take sides. This can be caustic to the organization. Also, leaders have to deal with trying to be fair to both sides, often with no way to do so without drawing fire from one or both sides.

            Our battalion commander told all the guys I was company commander with that if you have one Soldier in your company rape another, the ensuing investigation and morale management will consume you. It basically displaces everything else in your working life. That’s what you’re doing with your time now. Given that, the focus on prevention tends to get driven harder.

          • bean says:

            I was going to say that that didn’t explain Tailhook, but now that I think about it, the most prominent witness, Paula Coughlin, was a naval officer. That’s an excellent point, and would explain the timing on the switch for the military. Before the mid-80s, there just weren’t any women in the sort of positions where that could happen to them.

    • The Nybbler says:

      There’s a war on, all right. You’re just not on the front lines. The most obvious part of it is the Black Lives Matter protests and race riots. But you also see it every time there’s an explosion and the first thing you hear from the media and politicians is “don’t blame it on Islam”… and if it indeed turns out to be an Islamic terrorist, you start hearing about how the important thing is to prevent Islamophobia.

      There was the coverup of the New Years day Cologne sexual assaults, and the similar coverup of the Rotterdam sexual abuse scandal, both to avoid the appearance of racism.

      Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt got caught in it when a reporter called him a sexist based on an incident the details of which she (it was later shown) fabricated; he got dismissed from at least one position as a result.

      The Sad Puppies Hugo controversy is part of it; in Sad Puppies 3 a group of writers were called every name under the sun (including racist and neo-Nazi, the latter by an art director at a major SF publishing house) and accused by the mainstream press of pushing an all-white-male slate of authors (easily checked, and false). In Sad Puppies 4 they were called a bunch of similar names including sexist, despite the three organizers all being women.

      Then there’s Curtis Yarvin, ejected from the Strangeloop programming conference for his political views (which are certainly out there), and the subject of a campaign to eject him from the Lambdaconf conference for the same thing… with one of the campaigners being a full-on communist. When the Lambdaconf organizer refused to eject him, the campaigners put pressure on the sponsors and successfully had many withdraw; fortunately replacement sponsors were found. Yarvin was also called a “neo-Nazi” in this kerfluffle…. he’s Jewish.

      Everyone brings up Brandon Eich; his case shows it’s not just universities, academia, and the Internet, but tech companies as well. A similar attempt was just made at Palmer Luckey (head of Oculus at Facebook), but appears to have failed.

      The fabricated A Rape On Campus in Rolling Stone is part of it, echoing an earlier battle known as the Duke Lacrosse case.

      I also have personal experience, though much of it I cannot go into. This includes a public call for my firing (for crimes against diversity, as evidenced by the titles of some reddit postings on /r/KotakuInAction) on Twitter, but fortunately my company does not yet make employment decisions that way.

      • Tekhno says:

        the Rotterdam sexual abuse scandal

        Do you mean Rotherham in the UK? Unless there was another scandal, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, I didn’t know about.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Oops, yes, Rotherham.

          Rotterdam, based on a completely random search, seems to be on the other side of the culture war

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/compulsory-contraception-rotterdam-city-council-incompetent-mothers-netherlands-a7346621.html

          • Aapje says:

            Compulsory contraception doesn’t appear to me to be a (big) cultural battleground in the Netherlands. In any case, everyone seems to agree that it’s very bad when completely incompetent mothers keep getting pregnant, only to have their children taken away or be abused. The issue is whether we want to force them to use contraception if they refuse to take it voluntarily, despite that violating their right to bodily integrity. However, it seems less far-reaching than compulsory feeding of people on hunger strike, which also violates that right and doesn’t have the much stronger justification that an innocent child is being helped by it.

            Rotterdam is a city with a lot of conservative immigrants, which, combined with a relatively poorly educated populace, resulted in it being ground zero for the anti-immigration movement in The Netherlands.

      • Radm says:

        Just to pick the one I know most about ‘Vox Day’, who mostly organised the Puppy campaigns, mostly is an explicit open fascist, who demonstrated his commitment to the idea of keeping things polite and away from politics by calling a black writer sharing the stage with him at a previous award ceremony an ‘ignorant half-savage’.

        With everything going on in the world, whatever innaccuracies represented by the above ‘mostlies’ are really the hill you want to die on?

        • Vox Day added himself to Correia’s Sad Puppy campaign as leader of the Rabid Puppies. The Sad Puppies eventually stopped slating. In other words, Vox Day isn’t typical of all the puppies even though he definitely has a following.

          I’m not quite to a plague on both your houses– I still tilt anti-puppy since I think they have better fiction at the top end. However, I’ve gotten pretty tired of magical realism (an anti-puppy preference) and I’ve realized I have nothing against inclusive multi-cultural fiction, but I hit a limit on reading sf where bigotry is a major part of the story.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy

            Vox Day added himself to Correia’s Sad Puppy campaign as leader of the Rabid Puppies.

            This makes no sense. Correia did the 2013 & 2014 Sad Puppies campaign. After that, other people took over, who are not called Vox Day.

            Vox Day made a separate Rabid Puppies campaign. How can you justify arguing that Rabid Puppies is part of the Sad Puppies campaign?

            The Sad Puppies eventually stopped slating.

            Sad Puppies had a campaign in 2016, so this seems like a false statement.

            It is true that the last campaign changed the format to be much less of a slate, although I don’t think this is what you meant.

          • LHN says:

            This year the Sad Puppies responded to pretty much every criticism made of them, particularly avoiding any sign of a lockstep slate. The result was that they continued to be conflated with the Rabids and the actual content of their campaign ignored.

            My tastes are pretty much like Nancy’s– at least for my part, the Sads largely failed to uncover hidden gems that were being ignored by the awards. I found the recommendations they made mostly underwhelming.

            But the line on complaints about the Hugos had always been “if you don’t like what’s getting the award, nominate and vote for what you want!” The way the Sads were treated for doing that disappointed me more than the works that they nominated.

        • Aapje says:

          @Radm

          Just to pick the one I know most about ‘Vox Day’, who mostly organised the Puppy campaigns

          This is a falsehood. None of the Sad Puppies campaigns (2013-2016) were organised by Vox Day. A story by Vox Day was selected for the 2014 campaign by the 2013 & 2014 Sad Puppies organizer.

          In 2015 & 2016, Vox Day created a separate ‘Rabid Puppies’ campaign. It makes no sense that he would do this if he also was involved in organizing the Sad Puppies campaigns.

          mostly is an explicit open fascist

          Ad hominem. A major disagreement with between SJWs and the anti-SJWs is that the former only want to endorse ideologically pure artists, while the latter group has a big contingent of people who prefer to judge the work for itself. Your statement merely signals what your stance is on this matter, but in no way is convincing to people who disagree with this.

          With everything going on in the world, whatever innaccuracies represented by the above ‘mostlies’ are really the hill you want to die on?

          Aside from your statements being partially false, you haven’t actually shown that the parent was inaccurate. The Nybbler argued that the Sad Puppies 2015 & 2016 campaigns were falsely accused for not including minorites and women. Your rebuttal in no way addressed this and seems to be addressing points not made.

          • Radm says:

            I would have described the difference as one side is happy to aesthetically appreciate any type of fiction, but understands that politically-oriented works by fascists glorifying fascism are fascist works. The other descends into palpitations any time a spade is called a spade.

            For example, if some people were ‘falsely accused’ of something, as a result of which they were all carted off to reeducation camps? That’s situation A.

            Situation B is some people on the internet said some things.

            Fascists, racists, etc exist; I don’t see the point of the particular mutant form of political correctness that tries to pretend otherwise.

          • The Nybbler says:

            You want to give examples, or are you just going to give vague generalities? What are these politically-oriented works by fascists glorifying fascism? I only know of one set of works which glorifies fascism (Kratman’s “A Desert Called Peace” series) and it didn’t appear on either the 2015 or 2016 Sad Puppy lists.

          • Aapje says:

            @Radm

            I would have described the difference as one side is happy to aesthetically appreciate any type of fiction, but understands that politically-oriented works by fascists glorifying fascism are fascist works.

            You may describe it that way, but that goes completely against my experience, which is that I’ve seen a substantial number of social justice people argue that they refuse to read any more works from authors that have personal views that they disagree with. Those people don’t argue that the works themselves are noxious.

            A good example of an author about whom people say this is Orson Scott Card.

            Another example is that I’ve seen quite a bit of support for self-censorship, where people commit to only reading books by female authors for a year. This is also a case of refusing to appreciate the works on their merit, in my eyes.

            Your own statements also support my argument, since you attacked Vox Day for misbehaving at a conference, not for anything he wrote in his books.

            Fascists, racists, etc exist; I don’t see the point of the particular mutant form of political correctness that tries to pretend otherwise.

            I don’t understand the point of this comment. I never claimed that they don’t exist. My argument is that it’s rather silly to attack a slate for having a link to a fascist (which wasn’t actually true in the way that you claimed), when this is only relevant if his fascism affects the books that people are suggested to vote for. If those books are actually fascist, then why not argue that?

            Your refusal to do so is what makes it an ad hominem. If your argument was true (his fascism makes the Puppies give fascist suggestions), then you’d surely be able to point out the fascism in the books. That you refuse to do so is very telling.

          • radm says:

            > My argument is that it’s rather silly to attack a slate for having a link to a fascist

            And it is my point, in reference to the original poster, that that is silly to be outraged about claims it was supported by fascists when:

            – before 2016, the person organizing the majority of voters for that slate really was an open fascist.

            – in 2016, without that organisation, the slate lacked sufficient support to influence the results?

            If you ever find yourself in a position where a statement of fact counts as an assault on everythign you hold dear, you may want to take a moment to reconsider things.

            Thing is, someone not paying attention might get the impression that the entries on the slate were disqualified by some kind of SF Supreme Court; in fact they didn’t win because people voted against them. Largely because they were bad; the idea that those who voted for them were influenced by politics is not one that would survive contact with the texts in question.

            Don’t think it is even a little strange that if you asked a SF fan about the novel where the actual Waffen SS were humanities only hope against hordes of ravaging aliens, they would say ‘which one?’

            note: for anyone unfamiliar with all the details of this who for some reason wants to find out more, it turns out the answer to the question ‘what is GRR Martin doing now?’ has, on many occasions, being ‘blogging about this’.

          • Aapje says:

            @radm

            And it is my point, in reference to the original poster, that that is silly to be outraged about claims it was supported by fascists when:

            You have only identified one fascist connected to the Puppies, but now you are claiming that the slates are supported by fascists. What other fascists are there? What proof do you have that fascist supporters of the slate are a significant number compared to the non-fascist supporters?

            If I find 1 Neo-Nazi that voted for Hillary, does that mean that Hillary is supported by fascists and thus part of the alt-right? That is the level of argument that you are making right now.

            before 2016, the person organizing the majority of voters for that slate really was an open fascist.

            What is your proof of this statement?

            Again, the person who made the 2013 and 2014 Sad Puppies slates was not Vox Day, but Larry Correia, who is a different person.

            In 2015, Sad Puppies was organised by Brad R. Torgersen, while Vox Day created a separate slate called Rabid Puppies.

            Is your claim that Vox Day organised the majority of the votes for the 2013 and 2014 Sad Puppies slates? If so, what is your evidence?

            Is your claim that Vox Day organised the majority of the votes for the 2015 Sad Puppies slate, even as he also organized the votes for his own slate? Because it is a rather absurd claim that he would be drumming up votes for two conflicting slates.

            Don’t think it is even a little strange that if you asked a SF fan about the novel where the actual Waffen SS were humanities only hope against hordes of ravaging aliens, they would say ‘which one?’

            An internet search suggests that you must be talking about ‘Watch on the Rhine,’ which is a 2007 novel, so it can’t have been part of any of the Puppies slates, which began in 2013. However, a book by one of the authors of that book was on the 2015 Sad Puppies list (Big Boys Don’t Cry), although that book has a completely different plot (featuring an sentient AI tank and no Nazi’s or aliens).

            So it seems that you are attacking that 2015 book not for it’s contents, but due to the author having co-written another book that you find morally repugnant. This is supposed to bolster your argument that you judge books for their quality… how, exactly?

            PS. Did you actually read ‘Watch on the Rhine’ or were you merely told that this book proves that the author is a fascist, which you then used to judge his other books, also without reading them?

          • roystgnr says:

            @radm, is it your contention that a “Waffen SS … against hordes of ravaging aliens” plot is a solid demonstration of fascism?

            I’m not sure if I should get rid of all my Turtledove books or just start building a bunker right away. If the neo-Nazis are now persuasive enough to successfully recruit Jewish authors then we’re all doomed.

          • radm says:

            > What proof do you have that fascist supporters of the slate are a significant number compared to the non-fascist supporters?

            Fascist is the normal word for someone who joins a political campaign organised by a fascist, yes. Maybe some people joined by accident or something; whatever, this isn’t a court of law handling out some kind of punishment.

            Some people like ‘SS versus aliens pt VII’ without being fascists, just like some people like doing WWII reenactments as the Germans because they like the uniforms. But you can’t simply assume without evidence that none of the people wearing the black leather uniforms have ever posted at Stormfront.

            In this case, the relevant evidence is the relative performance of works that were on the sad versus Rabid puppies lists in the years there were differences, and the irrelevance of the sad puppy lists in 2016 when they lost that organised backing. This is covered in (exhaustive) detail on GRRM’s blog; the main effect of the Puppy campaign is almost certainly to be the delay of the next game of Thrones novel by 6 months or so.

            Ultimately it doesn’t matter how many times you repeat the same stuff, all this has nothing to do with morality, social justice, culture war or whatever.

            It’s just that there are two competing stores about what the Puppies represented.

            One is where a liberal elite unfairly discriminate against works they consider politically incorrect.

            Another is where a small, politically-oriented, group vastly inflate the wider appeal of books they themselves like mainly for political reasons.

            One of these stories is supported by the evidence, one isn’t. In the light of that, a little bit more self-knowledge and a little bit less pathetic victimhood politics would be appreciated.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @radm:

            – before 2016, the person organizing the majority of voters for that slate really was an open fascist.

            Larry Correia (2013, 2014) is not a fascist. Nor are any of the 2015 2016 Sad Puppy organizers. As I said, conflating the Rabid Puppies and the Sad Puppies when it’s been explained in no uncertain terms that they are different is simply culture warring.

            – in 2016, without that organisation, the slate lacked sufficient support to influence the results?

            As in 2015, both the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies ran a slate in 2016.

            Don’t think it is even a little strange that if you asked a SF fan about the novel where the actual Waffen SS were humanities only hope against hordes of ravaging aliens, they would say ‘which one?’

            I would assume you meant Ringo and Kratman’s “Watch on the Rhine” (not Hugo nominated); I haven’t read others. But it wouldn’t surprise me to know there were more, because a lot of writers (and readers) enjoy irony.

          • Aapje says:

            Evil Nazi’s being pardoned and used to combat a greater threat is actually a plot from…real life.

            America pardoned the Nazi missile engineers, to help them build their intercontinental and space missiles, despite some of them having used concentration camp slave labor. For example, Arthur Rudolph, who advocated the use of slave labor to build rockets. There is also evidence that Wernher von Braun went to Buchenwald to pick out the people to work as slaves on his program.

            Dr. Hubertus Strughold was a Nazi doctor who was director of an institute that performed experiments on epileptic children who were taken from and presumably returned to a program to kill undesirables like epileptic children. He worked for the US air force and NASA.

            These people were pardoned as part of Operation Paperclip.

            Similarly, Unit 731, a Japanese biological and chemical warfare research and development unit was granted immunity in return for the data that they had about their (often lethal) experiments on non-Japanese people.

            So…perhaps the book is fascist. Perhaps it is just realistic. Perhaps it is just badly written. Perhaps the themes can be interpreted in different ways and the book is merely ambiguous in it’s meaning, challenging the reader by not giving simple black/white schemes. I haven’t read it, so I don’t know. But I cannot justify jumping to the conclusion that the author is fascist/a Nazi; and especially not justify the conclusion that another book that he wrote must be morally problematic.

            It’s all this jumping to conclusions that SJWs are getting criticized for and that Radm shows in his writing.

          • Aapje says:

            @Radm

            It’s just that there are two competing stores about what the Puppies represented.

            One is where a liberal elite unfairly discriminate against works they consider politically incorrect.

            Another is where a small, politically-oriented, group vastly inflate the wider appeal of books they themselves like mainly for political reasons.

            There is a third story where you have two different echo chambers, each of whom holds idiotic dogma and vilifies the other.

            However, the sides are often not mirrored, since power tends to be unbalanced. The side with more power then tends to ‘win’ the culture war and gets to do great harm to people who are not part of their tribe (of course, the group in power tends to deny that as part of their narrative).

            Sometimes ‘your’ side gets to win and abuse the other tribe. Sometimes the other tribe wins and abuses your tribe. I’d prefer that each side starts to eliminate the evil dogma from their own tribe, rather than get into this war. As I’m more or less of the leftist tribe and this tribe is actually mostly in power in the place where I live and the places I care about, I mainly challenge their dogma.

            PS. Quite a few SJWs deny being liberal, which is accurate if you look at how their ideas match actual liberalism (as in: how the rest of the world uses ‘liberalism’).

            PS2. Do you deny that only wanting to read works by ‘oppressed’ authors is liking them “mainly for political reasons”?

          • radm says:

            > This is a falsehood.

            And you go on to repeat how he definitely organised one of the puppy (note the absence of the word ‘sad’) campaigns, and prior to 2016 recruited the majority of the supporters of the other.

            > A major disagreement with between SJWs and the anti-SJWs is that the former only want to endorse ideologically pure artists

            The easily verifiable fact that the former group like and have awarded authors like James Blish, Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott card etc. rather suggest that your categorization of the two sides is not particularly driven by evidence.

            The 2006 Hugo winner contained a scene in which an idiot wannabe-politician interfered with a military operation, leaving the space marine protagonists no choice but to massacre a bunch of civilians.

            There is a 11-times nominated (most recently 2013), 3 times winner series who has as an entirely sympathetic figure a general unfairly known as the ‘Butcher of Komarr’ because during a war of aggression, he failed to stop a massacre.

            They also contained scenes, ideas and characters people might like for other reasons than the dopamine hit of ‘someone is agreeing with my politics, I feel good’.

            > PS2. Do you deny that only wanting to read works by ‘oppressed’ authors is liking them “mainly for political reasons”?

            Yes, plenty of people like a work ‘mainly for political reasons’; sf is a political genre. How do you get from that to the original claim that it is one of the chief moral outrages of the 21st century that people other than those who exclusively love far-right wing political fiction get to vote on who wins the Hugos?.

          • Deiseach says:

            Fascist is the normal word for someone who joins a political campaign organised by a fascist, yes.

            Radm is simply proving once again my contention that the term “fascist” has now been stripped of all meaning and is only a letter-grouping denoting “bad person wrongthink unclean!” when bruited about by those who think being told “If you don’t turn in your assignment, you will not pass this class” is fascism.

            Signed, an evil unregenerate representing the Irish branch of fascism via support for the Sad Puppies because I’m currently waiting with impatience for the next novel in the series by one of the authors in that group. Yes, must go wipe down my “black leather uniform” now, I need to be spiffy for the next march on Poland!

          • Sandy says:

            @Radm:

            The easily verifiable fact that the former group like and have awarded authors like James Blish, Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott card etc. rather suggest that your categorization of the two sides is not particularly driven by evidence.

            I don’t know about the other two, but Orson Scott Card last won a Hugo in 1991. Times and the politics surrounding authorship have changed. A few years ago, DC Comics tried to get OSC on a Superman anthology series. This failed because there was a coordinated campaign led by industry media outlets and retailers that cited statements Card had made about homosexuals and gay marriage as proof that he was unfit to write Superman. The actual story he was going to write had nothing to do with either.

            Or the World Fantasy kerfuffle about long-dead Lovecraft’s “hideous opinions”.

          • Aapje says:

            And you go on to repeat how he definitely organised one of the puppy (note the absence of the word ‘sad’) campaigns, and prior to 2016 recruited the majority of the supporters of the other.

            The original comment that you responded to was specifically about the Sad Puppies campaign. You don’t get to declare victory when you argue that a separate campaign was organised by a person that you dislike. Nor is it fair to simply equate the different Puppy campaigns. Doing that is actually a good example of the culture war that you engage in.

            The rest of your post is also irrelevant nonsense, because the argument by The Nybbler was not that the Hugo’s are not diverse or whether the lists were a positive force. It was merely a claim about the despicable behavior in response to the list.

            For example, if someone shoots Trump, one can oppose that without defending Trump’s behavior or platform. You can simply be universally opposed to the shooting of politicians. Similarly, you can be against the falsehoods being told about the Sad Puppies, without necessarily approving of them.

        • keranih says:

          @Radm –

          The Vox-Jemisin exchange has been chewed over multiple times. I don’t know who told you that Vox or Jemisin ever had a commitment to polite courtesy or habitually avoided politics, but that person was deeply misinformed. Both are agitators with strong firebrand streaks, and both have been called worse by better people.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Vox Day is not a member of the Sad Puppies and did not organize the Sad Puppy campaign, but rather his own Rabid Puppy campaign. Conflating them (despite the difference being explained in simple terms over and over again by the Sad Puppy leaders) is part of the culture war.

          As far as I know neither puppy campaign claimed a commitment to the idea of keeping things polite and away from politics.

      • sohois says:

        Right, I’m familiar with all these stories, but it still seems to be fairly small scale stuff. It’s just a bunch of unrelated anecdotes. Media outlets have always made up stories or hidden information, and it seems like an issue with the media, not with culture in general.

        People getting fired or in professional trouble is concerning, no doubt, but it seems to be literally just a handful of people, which is such a tiny sample its impossible to generalize it over entire populations.

        Naturally I can see why personal experience will cause many like yourself to be sensitive to these cultural issues, but this is, I assume, a largely ‘rationalish’ blog, and people generally strive to justify their beliefs. It seems that many of those who are convinced of culture wars are letting personal experience overwhelm over evidence

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          People getting fired or in professional trouble is concerning, no doubt, but it seems to be literally just a handful of people, which is such a tiny sample its impossible to generalize it over entire populations.

          Here’s an interesting fact about human beings: You don’t need to pull too many of them out of a group and drag them away for arbitrary, capricious punishment in order for the rest to decide maybe they’re better off trying to avoid attention.

          • TheWorst says:

            This. Compare to terrorism: Most buildings don’t get blown up by terrorists. It is, however, still an excellent way of getting attention, even of people who didn’t live in those buildings.

            Especially if the number of people being pulled out of a group and dragged away for arbitrary, capricious punishment is going up, and the group doing the dragging is calling for it to be done to more people.

          • Anonymous says:

            This is only sort of related, but there’s a a class of arguments around terrorism that makes no sense to me.

            It basically goes:
            It is true that terrorism is only a tiny number of deaths, but people are going to overact to it and that will cause all kinds of nasty side effects. So it makes sense to do all we can to prevent it.

            Isn’t the medicine there exactly the same as the disease? We should preemptively overreact in order to prevent overreacting? How does that make any sense?

          • TheWorst says:

            I think you’ve hit on why terrorism tends to be effective, basically, as a tool for making a society act like they’re afraid of terrorism.

          • Aapje says:

            Anonymous,

            Isn’t it basically the argument for amputating an extremity with gangrene? You either cut off some healthy tissue to get rid of the gangrene or it spreads to your entire body and you die.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Isn’t the medicine there exactly the same as the disease? We should preemptively overreact in order to prevent overreacting? How does that make any sense?

            With regards to managing your nation’s reaction, it’s very simple: If your nation’s citizens don’t feel safe in their homes, they will demand a strong response from the government, whose primary function, after all, is to protect them. And if you don’t provide the strong response, they will vote you out of office, or maybe just line up behind a man on a white horse, and then put in place a response that’s probably much, much worse than the one you were trying to block in the first place.

            There is no “we just remind the citizens that they’re more likely to get hit by lightning, and they nod sheepishly and go home.” That does not happen. Your choice is a strong response now, or an insanely excessive response later under the politician (or strongman) who replaced you in office. That’s it.

            All this, of course, does not take into account the actual damage being done by the terrorists, which in the case of 9/11 at least was quite serious in its own right. Preventing a foreign power from bombing two of your cities is worth an awful lot of effort in and of itself.

          • Tekhno says:

            @ThirteenthLetter

            With regards to managing your nation’s reaction, it’s very simple: If your nation’s citizens don’t feel safe in their homes, they will demand a strong response from the government, whose primary function, after all, is to protect them. And if you don’t provide the strong response, they will vote you out of office, or maybe just line up behind a man on a white horse, and then put in place a response that’s probably much, much worse than the one you were trying to block in the first place.

            This right here is why I’m a libertarian who supports immigration control and the welfare state.

            In a time of extreme political crisis to do with migration, you either have liberal or civic-nationalism and control inflows or you get ethno-nationalism and race based cleansing occurs.

            In a time of extreme political crisis to do with poverty, you either have social liberalism and redistribute some wealth or you get socialism and class based cleansing occurs.

        • DrBeat says:

          It’s just a bunch of unrelated anecdotes.

          No, it isn’t. That isn’t even a matter of opinion. All these things happened due to the deliberate, concerted effort of an ideological movement, which is very very very clear that these are the things it wants to happen and that as it is given more power to do the things it wants, it will do these things more. These weren’t random events — these events happened because the same group of people representing the same ideology wanted them to happen, and took actions to ensure they happened.

          Those people are continuing to take the same actions to ensure these things will happen in the future. Those people are explicitly clear they want to take these actions and believe it is morally good to take these actions. The rest of our society continues to grant these people, as representatives of this specific ideological movement, more formal and informal power. They continue to use this power they are given to do what they were already doing.

          All we are doing is acting like people who have noticed that.

          • Anonymous says:

            these events happened because the same group of people representing the same ideology wanted them to happen, and took actions to ensure they happened.

            Where is your evidence that the same people were involved in all of these cases?

          • Aapje says:

            These people clearly share an ideology because they use the same rhetoric, the same labels for themselves, have shared dogma, fight the same enemies, etc, etc.

            For example, the BLM founders identify themselves as feminists. This is a clear link between ‘black rights’ and feminism. These people tend to talk about how the west is colonialist and share the same false beliefs about how much black people are oppressed (which has been debunked by Scott on this blog). Etc, etc.

            Of course there is a level of diversity and infighting within the social justice warrior movement, but there are also some very disturbing shared ideas that never get questioned. You will never see them defend the rights of a person that falls outside of their collective Overton Window, for example. When one group of SJWs try to prevent Christina Hoff Sommers from speaking somewhere, you will never see non-heretic feminists (like Paglia) stand up for her right to speak.

            By contrast, when Bahar Mustafa was charged for calling for the murder of white men, even the very conservative Milo called for the charges to be dropped.

            PS. It’s often pretty interesting to look at the background of these people. There is often some very weird stuff going on. For example, I was very surprised that the BLM founders were black feminists (given that black women are safer from police violence than both black and white men) and especially that they collectively admired the only woman on the FBI wanted list (a black supremacy terrorist). It’s amazing that so many people with very disturbing back stories get so much power and respect in the SJW movement.

          • Sandy says:

            @Aapje:

            Paglia and Sommers actually have some common ground, and Paglia herself has become a heretic feminist in many ways (and already was in decades past, given that she rejected the ‘rape is about power’ dogma and asserted that rape has sexual motivations).

            The pulse of modern feminism is more likely to be found with someone like Roxane Gay who subscribes to the punch-up/punch-down model of acceptable criticism.

          • Aapje says:

            @Sandy

            I think that you misunderstood me. My argument was that Paglia is a heretic and that non-heretics share some disturbing habits.

          • Tekhno says:

            It is intersectionalism that links them all. The entire point of intersectional-feminism is that it kind of isn’t just feminism and is focused on an intersecting network of oppression sometimes called the “kyriarchy”.

            It’s better to call them intersectionalists than using the snarl word “SJW”, since intersectional-feminism is the actual name philosophy providing the justification behind these multi-faceted assaults on liberal norms, all at the same time, on the grounds of gender, sexuality, race, and other things.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Teknho:
            Signal boost for intersectionalism

            It frequently strikes me that, if people actually wanted to make headway in dialogue with feminists about tactics and targets that they feel are unjust, that examining the problem from an intersectional viewpoint would probably bear more fruit.

            Class is certainly an intersectional lens. Mental health as well. Power structures seems applicable.

            But of course, people would need to be able to admit not just ways one is oppressed, but ways in which one has privilege. People seem too concentrated on winning to actually have the conversation. Well, that and there is a good dose of bad actors poisoning wells.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @HBC:

            I consider the entire framework invalid, so I’m certainly not going to argue from an intersectional viewpoint.

            It doesn’t really matter, though, because _neither do they_. They are not starting from a framework and drawing conclusions based on observed phenomenon. It’s all painted on; conclusions based on the framework which conflict with the accepted conclusions are ipso facto invalid.

          • Aapje says:

            @HBC

            The problem is that most of them are still using a one-directional model within intersectionality, which completely invalidates it. Since that is dogma to them, disagreeing on that point places you outside of their Overton Window and gets you judged as a denialist of injustice.

            For example: basic feminist theory is that gender stereotypes regard women as less capable by default than men. Common sense then says that being considered more (or less) capable can be positive or negative depending on context. For example, studies have found that people are much more eager to defend women who get physically attacked by men, than vice versa, regardless of actual difference in size/muscles between the attacker and victim. To me, this seems like an advantage of female stereotyping.

            Another example is that one would expect that being considered more capable gets you blamed more for things you do wrong. Studies have found that men get harsher punishment for crime than women, even when controlled for other variables. This is a ‘disprivilege’ of male stereotyping and thus ‘female privilege.’

            Yet if you argue this with mainstream feminists, they will tell you that men can never be discriminated against merely for being men and thus that being a man always results in having ‘privilege’ and never the opposite.

            It becomes truly absurd when they advocate affirmative action and have to reconcile their explicit discrimination against ‘privileged’ groups with the dogma that ‘privileged’ groups can never be discriminated against.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HBC:

            Class seems to make up a smaller and smaller part, though. Even though class arguably is a bigger advantage than anything else (go to a top university – of all the groups disadvantaged by society, among the least represented will be poor people*) it gets very little attention from a lot of left-wing activist types of the “liberals who think they’re radicals” variety. Economic egalitarianism isn’t cool any more.

            I agree with you that some people obfuscate the ways in which they’re advantaged**.

            *although to what extent it’s a disadvantage caused by social perceptions, and to what extent it’s simply a material, resource disadvantage – even if we didn’t stereotype poor people as dirty, criminal, and stupid, having resources is clearly better than not.

            **I like “advantaged” over “privileged” because the latter is merely a social advantage. Example: tall person both has a physical advantage – someone’s gotta reach that stuff on the top shelf, and it helps if you’re a basketball player – and a social advantage – tall people (or, tall men, at least) make more money, are more likely to be seen as “leadership material”, and are considered more attractive. It always baffles me when people talk about stuff like “able-bodied privilege” – being able to walk instead of not walk, or see instead of not see, is not just an advantage for social reasons.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            Being tall also has disadvantages. You experience various inconveniences, like short hotel beds, paying extra for non-standard sized beds, clothes, etc. Plane seats and other wrongly sized things that you can’t change torture you much more than others. You more easily run into things. People consider you obligated to help them reach things.

            So ‘advantaged’ is generally at most that the benefits outweigh the downsides, but then there is the issue that individuals don’t experience the benefits or downsides equally. As you said, the person who aspires to become a basketball player will benefit. A person who want to be a Formula 1 driver can see his career plans ruined because of his length.

            In short, I think it’s very unhelpful to declare that people are advantaged or privileged in general. The lyrics to ‘Richard Cory’ by Simon and Garfunkel are very appropriate here.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            1) We are in the midst of a long period of increased interest in income inequality and the kinds of issues that causes. There actually has been a fair amount of recognition and discussion of how the loss of good manufacturing jobs has hollowed out working class communities. I guess I’m not seeing where there is some universal lack of interest in this.

            2) Many times when these conversations come up, the conversation gets hung up because people don’t want to hear the sympathetic statements that are made. See again how Obama’s very sympathetic statement got short-handed to “bitter clingers” which isn’t remotely what he actually said.

            3) Compare the reaction to the opioid epidemic in white working class communities with reactions to other similar crises in other communities. What we don’t see much of is statements about the moral failings of those white communities. So, perhaps we would have liked more speed in recognizing that the crisis was occurring, and certainly class is working disadvantageously there, but we also see the absence of some other barriers to addressing the problem.

            I mean, I would like intersectionalism to be more consciously cognizant of class, but in the public eye we do tend to see things get washed down to a binary and so statements like “I’m oppressed therefore I have no privilege” get made. And those aren’t particularly helpful or accurate.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje: Yeah, I’ve got an apartment some people can’t stand up in. So maybe a better example is strength: I can’t name any situations where it is better to be physically weak than strong, except maybe court in a self-defence case. In addition, society esteems the strong more – nobody boasts about how little they bench, as far as I know.

            @HeelBearCub:

            1) The guy who wanted to talk about income inequality lost the primaries, amidst claims that “BernieBros” were just privileged cishet white men trying to bamboozle others into the notion that economics was the only thing that matters.

            Looking at Trump vs Clinton on donations, Hillary’s campaign/PAC donors have donated almost 5x as much as Trump’s, her #5 donor has given more than his #1, and he leads her in small donations.

            The high-income people seem to be siding with Clinton, which I don’t think they would do if ending income inequality was anywhere close to the Democrats’ first priority. You can generally tell who would do more to end income inequality but looking at who the people who benefit from said inequality line up behind – it’s not that person.

            2) I agree with you on that one. Obama’s comments were a bit condescending, but they were not the insult many framed them as.

            3) I think this is one of the cases where “what sample?” is the issue. Coming from the bubble I do, I run into a considerable amount of contempt for lower-class whites. Usually coming from upper middle-class whites – they’ve found someone it’s socially acceptable to hate.

            EDIT: You’ve called me out for anecdata elsewhere in this thread and I will cop to it. I just don’t know how you’d get accurate numbers on what, say, upper middle-class university educated people think about poor white people. What they’d say if polled is, I think, pretty different from what they say at parties. I will acknowledge that my views are being influenced by my emotions – I have gotten increasingly tired of the smug superiority, horrible opinions, and blatant hypocrisy (“Trump supporters are bad because they’re racist” says the person who throws parties where everyone who shows up is white) of a lot of the people I went to school with.

          • Lumifer says:

            With the respect to “bitter clingers”, the reason it was perceived as insult (beyond the obvious value of a political attack point) is that it, basically, denies the concerns of the population in question. The reason they have their beliefs is “frustration” and clearly, if only they weren’t frustrated, they would be Democrats in good standing.

            Let’s translate this into a different sphere: would you consider it an insult to tell a girl that, say, she clings to the idea of financial independence only because she’s frustrated with her boyfriend?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Lumifer:

            it, basically, denies the concerns of the population in question.

            Actually this is a perfect example of how badly the short-handing manages to mangle the actual meaning of what he said.

            “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
            And it’s not surprising then they get bitter …”

            That is an affirmation of their concerns, not a denial.

            Later on in the speech he goes on to basically tell his volunteers not to assume anything about anyone. That people will constantly surprise them by being already strong backers of his campaign, or skeptical to his message, and that they should not be dissuaded from simply talking to people about the campaign and getting the message out.

          • JayT says:

            3) Compare the reaction to the opioid epidemic in white working class communities with reactions to other similar crises in other communities. What we don’t see much of is statements about the moral failings of those white communities.

            What about terms like “white trash” or “trailer trash”? Maybe in your social circles white working class societies are held in high regard, but my experience is that they are one of the few groups that it is socially acceptable to disparage.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Is this conflating two different drug panics? There’s the endemic meth use in lower class white communities, and a reported epidemic opioid (including heroin) use among middle to upper-middle class white communities. The former receive much contempt in mainstream media. The latter do not, though sometimes there’s a bit of schadenfreude involved in the reporting, more urban vs. suburban than class-related.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ HeelBearCub

            No, that’s not an affirmation of their concerns. That’s basically saying “you have problems, but your concerns are all wrong” — the whole point of Obama’s sentence is that the “bitter clingers” stick to the Bible, guns, and anti-immigration not because they value the word of God, like their guns, and dislike people-unlike-them, but because they have been economically devastated, are too dumb to correctly identify the problem, and so seek refuge in irrational “displacement” beliefs.

            That’s essentially denial of agency — “I will tell you what your concerns should really be”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @The Nybbler:

            I’ve seen Oxy get called “hillbilly heroin” – while prescription drug abuse exists among all classes of society in a way that meth doesn’t*, the popular perception is that abuse of opioid painkillers is a lower- or lower middle-class thing, mostly among white people. Or, at least it is where I am (the rich people substances of choice are booze and coke, plus maybe ecstasy, plus everybody smokes weed).

            *although I once had an amusing moment when a gay friend of mine was quite surprised to be informed that meth had the general stereotype of being a lower-class white drug – he’d always encountered it as a party drug.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @dndnrsn

            Probably regional drug-panic differences. In my area the media have been trying to stir up a panic about a suburban heroin epidemic, driven by people who started with abusing prescription drugs (sometimes framed as teens stealing them from parents) and moved on to heroin because it’s cheaper and more available.

            Fortunately opioids tend to dull reactions to such panic-mongering 🙂

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Lumifer:
            Well, I understand what you are saying now, but I disagree. He is just saying that we all “stick to what we know” when times are tough. It’s a lot easier to accept cultural changes when economic times are easy.

            I mean, it’s fairly boiler-plate analysis that Trump’s rise is directly related at least in part to the economic insecurities of non-college educated whites, whatever their current income. Do you disputed that?

            And Trump has shown that a bunch of those supposedly sacred cultural issues really do take a back seat to something else. Trump hasn’t even really tried all that be convincing on those issues, and people don’t care.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ HeelBearCub

            “Boiler-plate analysis” is a fairly oxymoronic expression : -/ In any case, I neither dispute nor support this: I find the conventional wisdom suspect (because of the pre-election madness) and can’t be bothered to dig into this and figure it out. But if I were to, I suspect Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 would not be a bad starting point.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Lumifer:
            ““Boiler-plate analysis” is a fairly oxymoronic expression”

            C,mon, man. That’s weak. You know what I am trying to convey and can substitute the euphemism you feel is appropriate. Bog-standard. Typical. What have you.

            So, now you are absolutely sure Obama was a) wrong and b) insulting but can’t be bothered to spend mental effort to think of how Trump maps onto the problem space?

            That seems like it’s in poor form.

          • Anonymous says:

            dndnrsn said:

            tall person both has a physical advantage … and a social advantage

            Aapje said:

            Being tall also has disadvantages.

            The important thing is that now we have acknowledged that there are some good things about being tall and some good thing about being short, we can immediately conclude that the patriarchy hurts everyone.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ HeelBearCub

            You seem to be taking this a bit too seriously. The boiler-plate was minor off-hand amusement, not an indictment. I did’t say anything that could be interpreted as being “absolutely sure”. Moreover, the question isn’t whether Obama was wrong (I’m not even sure whether the categories of right/wrong are applicable here) but whether taking his sentence as an insult has any reasonable basis. I think it does.

            And yes, I am entirely uninterested in how Trump maps onto the problem space. You probably didn’t notice, but I skipped those colliding dogpiles on top of a Mongolian clusterfuck that the two election threads here were. It wasn’t by accident.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Lumifer:
            You are the one who said Obama was calling people stupid and engaging in denial of agency. If you want to throw around accusations like that, don’t blame me when I take them seriously.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            Yeah, I’ve got an apartment some people can’t stand up in. So maybe a better example is strength

            No, I think that your example is great, because it shows how easy it is to declare that an attribute is always an advantage, even as a more detailed analysis shows how this is obviously false. And even when you yourself have experienced this firsthand.

            The thing that frustrates me about most of the social justice movement is that they’ll generally agree with you that ‘the oppressors’ have major issues as well, if you get into specifics, but then still go back to the idea that you may not talk about these groups in terms of ‘disprivilege’ or the ‘privileges’ of the ‘oppressed’.

            So their theories are fundamentally discriminatory as they use very different terms for similar things and use that to argue for only the ‘oppressed’ groups to be helped with their issues, while the ‘oppressors’ like Appalachian white people who are worse off than 99% of the social justice people deserve nothing.

            And now there is a strong tendency on the left to declare that these groups are harming themselves by not voting for the left, while the refusal of much of the social justice left to help poor men/whites is ignored.

            PS. There seems to be a little bit of self-awareness of this unwarranted smugness appearing, on Vox of all places. So perhaps this trend is going to reverse.

        • Radm says:

          The thing is, a lot of the real outrage comes from literal Nazi types, who do feel proportionately engaged in the perceived seriousness of the situation. Because that situation is an iinevitable race war in which one side or the other will be put in camps and exterminated, and better them than us.

          In such an existential struggle, any allies can make the difference; smart and prosperous ones are ideal. The key thing in gathering allies is to establish identity of interest. For example between tech workers worried about getting disciplined over some stupid corporate diversity directive, and fascists whose politics gets voted against because it is considered kind of rude to put people in camps.

          These things are not the same, but you can describe them in the same language. My suggestion would be to not do so.

      • Recently. Possibly not a central example.

        • LHN says:

          While I’ve gotten pretty cynical about the inevitable kerfuffle along these lines that every con seems to produce these days, I was still impressed at Helsinki getting its underway nearly a year before the convention starts. At least MidAmeriCon’s didn’t happen till a couple of days into the con.

          (Obviously this is a painful situation for the people involved, whether or not there’s more to the story, and I’m sorry to hear that it’s going on. But it does seem as if you can almost set your watch by some sort of con drama arising.)

      • nimim. k.m. says:

        Re: Sad Puppies. As far as i remember, it began when the Sad Puppies formed, claimed that Hugos had been overtaken by a conspiracy of SJWs affliated with certain publisher who are not true fans and probably hate true science fiction, and organized a slate in protest.

        I don’t read much Worldcon/Hugo fandom blogs, but occasionally I encounter some Puppy-affiliated blogs and I certainly remember comments in the style of “how I hate SJWs”, “let the Hugos burn”, and so on.

        In the SJW-side of conflict, I think today nobody pays any attention to Sad Puppies. The main enemy seems to be now Vox Day.

        There’s certainly a culture war going on in the Worldcon, but it’s bit funny that you paint only the people who call Puppies names as the ones waging war. In this case it looks like you have made your enemy by yourselves by starting to define who are with you and who the SJWs hell bent on replacing your culture with messagefics. (I never was fan of those, but apparently now I’m still on the side of SJWs because I didn’t view the promoting of magical realism and feminism as an extermination campaign of “good science fiction” or never liked the idea of “criticizing” a prize with self-evidently destructive behavior.)

    • keranih says:

      My question relates to the “war” aspect. When people talk of war it conjures up an image of a nationwide (or Global?) fight, with everyone taking sides and the conflict affecting all facets of life.

      Eh. Not a historical – or even now-human-globalist – definition.

      It’s more, imo, an evolutionary-scale struggle for scant resources. Which unfortunately makes the stakes even higher.

    • Winfried says:

      Do you know what the percentage of the population of Russia was involved in the Bolshevik Revolution?

      Do you know what the percentage was for Mao’s Cultural Revolution?

      A small number of people hooked into the right structure can bring about horrific results.

      If you think I’m being hyperbolic or paranoid, you are likely right. Until then, I’ve moved further away from the parts of my city that keep edging towards a race riot and I have a decent amount of water and food stored.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Short answer: many of the people who post on SSC live and/or work in areas where they could be, or have already been, harmed by social justice.

      • Aapje says:

        This is definitely true for me. A person close to me has been tossed out as an applicant for a job (‘you will only be considered if we can’t find a woman who meets the minimum requirements’).

        The social justice movement explicitly demands more of this through quotas and the like. Thus they are a direct threat to people of my gender, race, etc.

      • sohois says:

        I mentioned this to The Nybbler above: I get that personal experience will have a large impact on you, but anyone that aspires to be ‘rational’ should probably recognize it’s not the strongest evidence for some large scale, nationwide or global culture war.

        If people find culture wars important enough to decide on a presidential candidate, then I would anticipate that they have evidence to believe culture wars to be of presidential importance and not just something that has affected them or people they know.

        • Aapje says:

          War is merely a metaphor and description of what is happening.

          People don’t call it a culture war because they want people to irrationally pick sides, to have two sides who each have unquestioned dogma that they base their identity on, to force people into positions, etc. They call it that because those things are already happening.

          So I think that you are wrongly attacking the messenger, as if they caused the things that the message describes.

        • TheSilverHammer says:

          Some recent news from the front: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is being charged with discriminating against and purging male employees.

          I agree with most of the people responding to you throughout this subthread. One additional reason I haven’t seen mentioned for why this sort of stuff bothers me more than might be ‘rational’ is that I can’t help but notice the trend. If discrimination against men was at its current level but was broadly becoming less prevalent, as most forms of discrimination currently are, I wouldn’t be worried. The reality I see is that it’s becoming more prevalent, owing to a mode of unexamined doublethink at best and outright hostility at worst.

    • Garrett says:

      Without endorsing any of his views, one person who has been speaking about this for years is Bill O’Reilly. As some background, he one of the most prominent commentators on the Fox News channel.

      Here’s a video of him talking about his book Culture War.

      That having been said, I think he likes the term culture war and has attempted to “wrap himself in the flag” of that identity rather than actually address the issue head-on. (I don’t routinely watch Fox News and personally dislike the presentation style used by O’Reilly so my information may be out of date or incomplete.)

    • FacelessCraven says:

      @Sohois – “My question relates to the “war” aspect. When people talk of war it conjures up an image of a nationwide (or Global?) fight, with everyone taking sides and the conflict affecting all facets of life.”

      The big picture, as I see it, is that the Social Justice movement is attempting to alter large-scale patterns of social behavior toward a pattern they see as healthier on net. Their main tactic for achieving this aim is various flavors of status attack; they say that certain behaviors or people are Bad and deserve to be punished via interpersonal action, in addition to legal action. The problem with this is three-fold:

      First, the current iteration Social Justice is predicated on the idea that Badness is pervasive, that everyone and everything is at some level Problematic, and always will be until we achieve some sort of Revolution that overturns and remakes existing society. Social Justice further argues that the sooner this happens, the better for everyone. For obvious reasons, this is not a good way to view society.

      Second, everyone wants more status, and effective status attacks on others are an extremely efficient way of gaining more status. Any system that encourages and aids status attacks needs safeguards against abuse, and Social Justice lacks meaningful safeguards. Because of the first point, it is very easy to claim that selfish status attacks are a good thing according to Social Justice principles, because the target was Bad and therefore deserved it, and attacking them is a necessary step to achieving the Revolution. Social Justice is leaderless, so there’s no hierarchy to police abuses in any sort of organized way. This makes the problem raised in point one much worse.

      Third, Social Justice is high-status generally, and so most people default to supporting it in any given conflict. Opposition to Social Justice, especially organized opposition, is seen as definitive proof of Badness, and justifies more or less unlimited social attacks. This means that there is no socially acceptable, reliable defense from Social Justice attacks, which are themselves greatly encouraged.

      In short, the Social Justice movement contains intrinsic flaws that massively incentivize profoundly antisocial behavior. The main check on its influence on society appears to be its own toxicity; infighting and its own internal contradictions undermine its ability to form a truly overwhelming mass movement. People care about it because they are worried someone will abuse it to harm them unfairly, and that their social circle will not protect them if this happens.

      “So my question is what upon evidence do you base this belief in a culture war on? Why do you believe that this topic goes beyond universities and blogs to become so important as to warrant deciding election preferences?”

      I make video games for a living. Social Justice attempted a quiet takeover of the gamer community, starting with the Dickwolves Incident, various attacks on devs and prominent community members, and culminated in the Ants. Attacks on devs and community members have continued since; currently, there’s a debate over whether Palmer Lucky should be purged from the community due to his support for Donald Trump. As a Trump supporter myself, I find this worrying. I currently work for a very small company which is in the process of drinking the Social Justice Kool-aid. I am fairly confident that if my coworkers were aware that I’m considering voting for Trump or any of my other unorthodox political views, I would be fired in short order. This sucks quite a lot.

      If I decided that making games wasn’t working out, my next-best field would probably be making comics. The comics community has more or less completely been taken over by Social Justice, with purges of Bad people happening fairly frequently. Other than comics would be writing fiction, probably sci-fi or fantasy. The sci-fi and fantasy communities have been largely taken over by Social Justice, with purges of Bad People happening fairly frequently. Ditto for the tabletop gaming/RPG community.

      More generally, as an artist, there is a growing expectation from my coworkers and the community at large that my work be “inclusive”. “Inclusive” art is poorly defined, and a lot of the definitions are contradictory, and a lot of people in my community believe that any art that doesn’t fit their personal definition should be actively attacked. Personally, I’m a big fan of female characters wrapped in a lot of completely practical body armor with lots of guns, so does that make me good for avoiding women-as-sex-objects, or bad for resorting to men-with-breasts, or for not having enough characters of different ethnicities, or for not having any gay or trans characters, or fat characters, or disabled characters, etc, etc? If I try to do those characters, am I bad for assuming I can speak to the gay/trans/black/female/disabled experience? If I just make what I want, am I bad for perpetuating the system of oppression? A lot of people around me are loudly answering yes to all these questions.

      On a personal note, one of my best and longest-lasting friends decided I was a misogynist for disagreeing that people should be presumed guilty of rape based on accusations alone, and cut off all contact with me. I am not confident that other Social Justice types who I do not share a decade-long friendship with will treat me more kindly.

      As for why it’s worth Voting for Trump over, it’s not. There are much better reasons to vote Trump. On the other hand, voting itself is not practical, and impractical reasons for voting are not surprising.

      • sohois says:

        Thanks for the detailed response, I appreciate it

        • FacelessCraven says:

          You’re very welcome, but eh, I nearly deleted the whole thing. Looking over the above, and re-reading the rest of the thread, I saw that you were asking a whole lot more about the political angle as it relates to voting for Trump, and a whole lot less about Social Justice itself, so writing two pages on the later and two sentences on the former seems like a pretty poor post overall. I’m glad you got some value out of it, though.

          I guess to try to offer a bit more background, you’d need to understand that the general form of this fight has been going on non-stop since the 1960s, and that our entire political system has been massively deformed by it. Successive waves of fights over Black civil rights, abortion, gay rights, social programs for the poor and so on. We’ve never reached a steady state; any time we settle one question, we move straight on to the next one, and the whole time we’re ratcheting up the pressure tactics on anyone who disagrees, and it’s really messed the country up a whole lot.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You know I respect you a great deal, right? And that I mean that unequivocally and without reservation?

            But the choice to start counting the clock on the “messing up” of the country in the 1960s is … what? either very poorly put or unintentionally revealing?

          • It may depend on what you are looking at. In terms of changing the institutions of the country, I see the clock starting with the New Deal, although there were ominous signs earlier.

            But I think what FC is talking about is not political change but social pressure on people who did not conform to the changed views driving the political change. I don’t have a clear idea when that happened. To what extent did people who opposed the New Deal, such as Mencken, get treated as pariahs, accused of being heartless and evil, and the like?

            As a bit of evidence on the sixties … . I was a Harvard undergraduate in 1964. The Crimson had a student poll which found about 19% of the students supporting Goldwater. I was astonished that it was that high. I would have said there were ten or twenty Goldwater supporters and I knew all of them.

            I think that to some degree reflected an environment where unless you were a committed supporter who enjoyed arguing and didn’t much care what other people thought of you, you kept your head down.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – It takes two sides to fight.

            I may have done a bad job of it, but I was actually trying to write that in as neutral a way as possible, without lending any support to either side. Abortion was probably a done deal after Roe. Maybe Gun Control should be a done deal after Heller, and Gay Rights after Obergefell. But the Right fought and escalated right up to the present day on Abortion, and probably will continue to do so for a while over Gay Rights. I’m hopeful the Left has given up on Gun Control, but not confident. We’ll see with Hillary, I think. Maybe [EDIT – Make that definately] escalating is the right choice on some issues and not on others, but enough of them have escalated that the escalation has been pretty constant, society-wide, for the whole period.

            I cited the 1960s because that really does seem to be the point where we got a serious, powerful “counterculture”, and the culture really did start cleaving into insular political subgroups via wedge issues in a way not seen in previous decades. Obviously there are previous examples, Abolition and Prohibition, say, but it does seem to me that things were a lot more unified in, say, the 30s-50s. Could be wrong about this as well, but it doesn’t seem like a controversial assertion. The 60s are legendary as a time of political and social upheaval, and a lot of the issues we’re still fighting enter the national debate in that decade.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Things were more united … for straight, white people who were utterly content with a traditional single-bread winner family?

            I just don’t think it’s right to “disappear” serious, undeniable civil rights violations. Most especially of black people, but plenty of others as well.

            And even absent that, the 50s weren’t actually quite as united as you want to think. Joseph McCarthy and smashing Elvis records weren’t isolated incidents. Catcher in the Rye was written in 1951. The Beat poets. Film Noir. There is plenty of cultural currency that portrays a shiny surface and a troubled underbelly.

            It looks more halcyon to us now. But my sense is that this is really just a combination of the economic boom and the end of the Korean War. I think it’s more fair to look at the 50s as something more like a local maxima rather than the permanent state of US affairs (thereby ignoring the 175 previous years in favor of one relatively rosy decade).

            Edit:
            And the 40s is of course going to look great for national unity, owing to being engaged in a just-war not of our making. And the 30s? Remember that there were a great, great many Nazi sympathizers right up until the shooting got going. And that whole Great Depression thing has people more united in misery more than much else.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – As I understand it, sohois was asking what social conflict could possibly cause people to vote for someone as obviously egregious as Trump. My guess is that several decades of constant social conflict has driven us crazy. Southerners and Yankees obviously hated each other like crazy for much of our history, but at least they didn’t have to live among their opposites. We hate our next-door neighbors!

            “I just don’t think it’s right to “disappear” serious, undeniable civil rights violations. Most especially of black people, but plenty of others as well.”

            I’m explicitly trying not to, but I don’t think it actually makes any difference whether the escalation was vitally necessary or completely malicious or any mix of the two. The conflict itself, and its sustained nature, is a harmful externality, and one of the results of that harmful externality is that people are now crazy enough to vote Trump.

            I’m saying Trump is happening because it’s been more than a generation since we could live together in peace. You are saying that the old way of living was unsustainable, and indeed it was not sustained! But these two arguments are not in conflict either, are they?

            “Things were more united … for straight, white people who were utterly content with a traditional single-bread winner family?”

            This used to be the vast majority of the country, so yeah.

            Obviously that’s done with, for reasons that we both agree are right, proper and necessary, but we actually do need something new to replace it with. But we’ve been looking for a long time, and what we’ve found hasn’t ever been good enough, and people appear to be getting desperate. There is no way to go back, so where do we go from here?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            There’s also the point that we did, in fact, end segregation; we legalized gay marriage; the idea that anyone would ban contraception is laughable. All the fights are won. And yet the social justice left is still fighting, and if anything has ramped up the attacks and social shaming.

          • Eltargrim says:

            @ThirteenthLetter

            All the fights are won.

            I think that’s an unjustly rosy view of some of the major victories of the left.

            Segregation ended; and yet blacks are disproportionally impoverished, imprisoned, and interred.

            Gay marriage is legal, yet many states have no employment protection for gay people.

            Nobody is banning contraception, but there are active efforts to end abortion, either de facto or de jure.

            I do think the social justice crowd should be appreciative of how much change they’ve achieved, and how much they’re still asking to be changed, but let’s not ourselves lose perspective.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            That’s exactly the sort of goalpost-moving FacelessCraven was talking about. The fight over contraception is settled? Psyche! Now we’re going to redefine contraception to include late-term abortion, and fire up the war-on-women superweapon again. It never ends.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @ThriteenthLetter:

            Now we’re going to redefine contraception to include late-term abortion, and fire up the war-on-women superweapon again.

            Huh? That seems to fail some ideological Turing test.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @ThirteenthLetter – “The fight over contraception is settled? Psyche! Now we’re going to redefine contraception to include late-term abortion, and fire up the war-on-women superweapon again. It never ends.”

            …And the fight over contraception was settled, but now it’s vitally important that any clinic providing abortion be held to the standards of a major surgical ward, despite no evidence that the current lower standards are an actual problem. The Right has taken more substantive action on Abortion than the Left has on Gun Control in the last decade, if I’m not mistaken.

            I’ve tried to clarify twice, but one last try: I think we’re getting to the point where I would rather the other side win completely and totally right now, than for the conflict to go on for another decade or two.

          • Eltargrim says:

            @ThirteenthLetter

            I’m sorry to drag a war metaphor into this, because I feel that the militant, hyper-polarization of the social justice crowd is a significant issue, but some of your examples are like storming Normandy, and saying that the Germans have been defeated.

            The three examples you provided (segregation, gay marriage, and contraception) weren’t the end goal, they were battles in an overarching campaign. Ending segregation is one step towards racial equality. Gay marriage is one step towards LGBT rights. If we criticize BLM and OWS for having nebulous, poorly-defined goals, it seems strange to criticize movements for having achievable, well-defined goals, and a habit of building on their own achievements.

            FacelessCraven notes that we never reach a steady state, and I think they’re right, but that it’s a fairly trivial answer. There will always be an issue of the day that is polarizing to one degree or another (and these don’t even have to be overtly political, either; sports rivalries taken to extremes), and causes tend to build on themselves.

            I think the modern change that has happened is in the tactics: the personal is political; all spaces must be open; “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers” (Vic Towes). The social justice crowd wants to stigmatize neutrality and neutral spaces, and via the internet they can bring disproportionate force to bear.

            I’d also like to sidebar the abortion issue for a minute, because I’ve unintentionally conflated contraception with abortion (my apologies). There are ongoing debates over pure contraception via Obamacare funding obligations and exceptions; there are debates over access to early term abortion, not late term; and there are debates over late term abortion as well. Abortion is definitely not a done deal, and the goalposts are moved in both directions on that one.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            I’m saying Trump is happening because it’s been more than a generation since we could live together in peace

            But the 60s happened because we weren’t living together in peace then, either. The 60s were a reaction to views then which Trump seems to embody now.

            Trump really is who he seems to be, and there are people supporting him because they believe in the approach he espouses. That’s not everyone who has said they support him, but it is the core of his support. And that attitude was present in the 30s, 40s and 50s.

            So, blaming the sixties, which was a reaction then to the attitudes that we find so abhorrent in Trump now, for the resurgence of those attitudes? I’m not seeing it.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I think the modern change that has happened is in the tactics: the personal is political; all spaces must be open; “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers” (Vic Towes). The social justice crowd wants to stigmatize neutrality and neutral spaces, and via the internet they can bring disproportionate force to bear.

            Ok, that’s legit. I agree with you.

            People are going to have sharp disagreements about how to live and that won’t ever change. The question is if people who do have sharp disagreements about how to live can nonetheless coexist and still be friends, or at least at a minimum coldly and professionally do business with each other. It’s not a problem to disagree about abortion; it’s a problem to disagree about whether one is allowed to disagree about abortion, if that makes sense.

          • Iain says:

            I think the modern change that has happened is in the tactics: the personal is political; all spaces must be open; “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers” (Vic Towes). The social justice crowd wants to stigmatize neutrality and neutral spaces, and via the internet they can bring disproportionate force to bear.

            I think it’s worth pointing out that the Vic Toews quote was given as the Public Safety Minister for the Conservative Party, which is not normally accused of being full of social justice warriors. Neither side has a monopoly on this tactic.

          • Tekhno says:

            Side? What about the third side: actual liberals (according to the root of understanding of that term).

            One of my major criticisms of the intersectionalist movement is its abandoning of liberal norms of coexistence in favor of might makes right. The same criticism can and has been laid upon the conservative moral busybodies who have been resisting liberalism since forever. Back when it was only conservatives doing it I considered myself on the left. The thing that makes social justice AKA intersectional-feminism so shocking is that it represents the breaking of antiliberalism into the mainstream from the left.

            Previously, illiberal manifestations of left wing thought have been locked away in academia (or in fringe Marxist parties that have no hope in hell) – or so we thought – but through pop feminism they’ve found a route into mainstream discourse, such that major world leaders like Justin Trudeau will now rage against “Ants” and “misogyny in popular media”. A left-LIBERAL wouldn’t draw political attention to such things, and indeed, until we passed through the magical time portal known as 2012, they didn’t. Then it all started happening at once, and instead of resisting it on the grounds that it wasn’t an expansion of liberal ideology at all, the overwhelming reaction has been “Oh so, this is the new liberalism 3.0 upgrade! Don’t wanna be left behind and called evil!” and now mainstream left wing politicians are using terms like “mansplaining” and worrying about misogyny in gaming, and on forums I go to, posters who made dirty jokes three years ago are now policing everyone else on “objectification” with no sense of self-awareness.

            EDIT:

            My social norms are liberalism circa the year 2000, not “conservatism”.

            I’m very annoyed with those on the right who have turned the term “SJW”, which described an new illiberal manifestation of left wing ideology into a snarl word encompassing actual liberal positions like civil rights, universal suffrage, and gay marriage and so on.

      • Dahlen says:

        From this reply, I gather that you share a subculture with SJWs, let’s say the geek subculture for lack of a better definition, that your kind occupies one niche of it while SJWs represent another niche, and that this kerfuffle is particularly salient to you because your livelihood and social life depend on it. I think, perhaps, that one interesting question to answer is what brings both pro- and anti-SJ people to this subculture, what traits are latent or inherent in it that manifest in such completely opposite ways.

        My tentative guess is that geeks don’t really have an instinct for how to be agreeable to other people and don’t grok the importance of internalising status-quo social norms in maintaining good relationships to people, instead thinking their way through entirely new and strongly unpopular/weird norm systems. Relevant XKCD. And, perhaps carrying over their perception of themselves as an unpopular subculture, and hence feeling that there’s only one geekdom and it’s a small circle, geeks scramble for it like there’s no tomorrow when they feel it “under threat from the wrong group”.

        Watching from outside, and keeping in mind people’s known tendency to be shitty, self-flattering, and defensive, this only strengthens normies’ perception of ourselves as Serious People who have better concerns than the appearance of video game characters or how people sit on public transportation. I was thinking that, maybe if you went into business or engineering, you’d meet people who refreshingly don’t care about this shit and have a job that hinges upon nothing that comes from either Tumblr or Breitbart. But then I thought that you might not like getting told to, you know, stop caring about what happens to the subculture that you so enjoy.

        Another message from this perspective is that, in the big picture, SJWs don’t exactly sit on a mountain of social status. At least as far as I gather from the internet (no idea how your workplace is like), these are people who talk publicly of their mental health issues and sexual kinks, who get into stupid petty conflicts with close ones (you know about them because they blog about how Problematic these conflicts are), who have various socially undesirable features like being socially awkward, or bad public speakers, or a few sizes too large for cool clothes, and while everyone can form cliques, getting bullied by such folks is kind of… ha, ha. An admittedly sardonic kind of “ha, ha”.

        I suppose normies nevertheless cave in to SJ demands and attitudes because, well, these folks read Derrida and Dworkin and Devil knows what else, and, you know, they assume this corner of academia know their shit and I guess they have some good points, to think of it, maybe I’ll try and refrain from casual heteronormativity from now on. It’s like someone described our peasants’ attitude towards religion: they don’t know that everything in the Nicene Creed is true, and they don’t care much, they just assume that the priests are the experts to which they should defer to on religious matters.

        … Anyway, that’s just my two cents.

        I have half a mind to try my luck at being a one-man game dev team too, and incidentally in a niche that has a lot of SJWs (much, much more than average even for vidya). I sometimes think about what would happen if I got caught in the GG crossfire, but I don’t lose any sleep over it. Not only is my national culture sufficiently insulated from all that shit, but I believe that a good spoonful of arrogance can shield one from lots of social attacks. Just look at your favourite candidate. (Speaking of which, I was going to put here some boilerplate as to how that’s an unwise choice, but that’s not the thread for it and I don’t think you need my opinion.)

        • DrBeat says:

          If they don’t have mountains of social status, how is it they get their demands met and are granted more power so consistently? How are they so effectively able to both make changes and punish people if they don’t have social status allowing them to do it?

          SJWs are popular. The SJ movement could nto exist if it was not made of popular people, because popularity is how it exists and how it accomplishes goals and how it deals with threats.

          • Dahlen says:

            How far into my reply did you read?

          • BBA says:

            I don’t think you’re talking about the same people when you refer to “SJWs.” The LGBT rights movement as a whole is much broader than people who rant about cisnormativism on Tumblr. The former are popular, the latter not so much.

            And I will say once again that Tumblr fandom is the descendant of the slashfic zine community, which used to be a small, marginalized part of geek culture. Now it’s becoming dominant and the part that used to be dominant is becoming marginalized. If you’re from that part, you may see Tumblrinas as a bunch of poseurs and interlopers, but they’ve always been around and they’re just as much a part of geek culture as you are.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @DrBeat

            The answer is in the reply (paragraphs 4 – 5). How much power/capital someone has, is less important than how much they can bring to bear. That troll in HR may not wield much power in the grand scheme of things but they do have the ability to make trouble for individual office drones and thus the drones are incentivized to go along to get along.

          • DrBeat says:

            Dahlen: Dude, I read all of it. I just don’t agree. The fact that “oh these people read Derrida and Dworkin, they must know what is up” isn’t something that grants them legitimacy; those authors have legitimacy because popular people assert them to have legitimacy. You have the causal arrow backwards.

            And you just glossed over the fact that we can see SJWs exerting social power freely, in ways totally incompatible with their power comign from “reading the experts”. When unpopular people who have expert knowledge assert that that expert knowledge says someone who isn’t already unpopular has done something wrong, then it’s “a controversy” at best, and usually the status of the expert domain they claim goes down as people decide that it must mean the experts don’t know anything. When popular people assert that someone has done something wrong, that person is socially obliterated. The Social Justice Movement socially obliterates people, and it does so constantly. They are popular. They would be unable to do the things they did if they were not popular. All the structures of formal power in our culture would not be making constant concessions, overtures, and gifts to them if they were not popular. Their scorn would not be able to destroy careers if they were not popular.

            The people who do the things FacelessCraven described may or may not have tumblrs where they rant about cisnormativity. But when we’re talking about a thing in the world that has a name, that is taking action and having effects and enjoying the unassailable social power that only comes from popularity, and we are talking about the actions taken by that thing in the world that has that name, and pointing at those actions and saying “This thing in the world that has this name is taking these actions!”, defining the term as something else besides “the thing we are talking about that does the actions we are talking about” isn’t useful.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Are tumblr SJWs descendants of the slashzine community, or did SJWs just take over that community first?

          • BBA says:

            I forget where, but I once stumbled upon a quote from a slash writer from the ’70s about how Kirk/Spock fic shows a deeper appreciation of Star Trek than any man could ever have, and a way for women to express themselves that never existed before…something along those lines, I forget the exact argument but I get the gist. It’s pretty clear that feminism and the belief in their own superiority were baked into the slash scene from the very beginning, and obviously it’s always been pro-LGBT as well.

            (And of course there are plenty of “SJWs” outside geek culture. Keep some perspective here.)

          • birdboy2000 says:

            @BBA

            I’ve been involved in the fic community (and known plenty of slash fans and writers) for as long as I’ve been online, and it wasn’t anywhere near this nasty or exclusionary in the old days.

            Having some weird ideas about gender, sure. But the open racism and sexism and the constant witch hunts and purges for wrongthink haven’t always been around even from this subculture, let alone from geek culture as a whole. (And fanfiction.net and AO3 are a *lot* more tolerant than places like Tumblr or NeoGAF.)

            I don’t view the social justice movement as interlopers, though. Just as fascist zealots.

          • BBA says:

            That’s fair – lots of things seem to have gotten much nastier lately. I was just trying to dispel the notion that SJ types don’t know what they’re doing are normies invading geek culture. Simply not the case.

        • John Schilling says:

          My tentative guess is that geeks don’t really have an instinct for how to be agreeable to other people and don’t grok the importance of internalising status-quo social norms in maintaining good relationships to people…

          ..and therefore went and created a new culture for themselves, where status-quo norms were replaced by alternatives that were better suited to maintain good relationships among people with geekish instincts and mindsets. This allowed everyone to live happily ever after, until non-geeks decided they liked some of the entertainment the geeks were creating, decided to culturally appropriate it for themselves, and in the process tell the geeks that they are doing it wrong and don’t understand how important it is to internalize the rest of the world’s social norms.

          I view this as roughly equivalent to the sighted community noticing that blind people can make some really good music, showing up at their concerts, workshops, and schools, and saying “…but you all don’t understand the importance of being able to read sheet music, so get with the program or GTFO”.

          • Dahlen says:

            Uh, yeah, I think we just have different visions about this, in fact I included SJWs in the geek category, that’s how it looks like from here.

            Honestly, I don’t know why I bother any longer, you guys already have your orthodoxy.

          • LPSP says:

            I view this as roughly equivalent to the sighted community noticing that blind people can make some really good music, showing up at their concerts, workshops, and schools, and saying “…but you all don’t understand the importance of being able to read sheet music, so get with the program or GTFO”.

            In other words, something that has never happened, and never will happen, as how a musician reads music notation has no bearing on the experience of listening to their music?

            Then again, you were arguing for cultural appropriation.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @John Schilling – “This allowed everyone to live happily ever after, until non-geeks decided they liked some of the entertainment the geeks were creating, decided to culturally appropriate it for themselves, and in the process tell the geeks that they are doing it wrong and don’t understand how important it is to internalize the rest of the world’s social norms.”

            …Is this really what happened, or was it more that some geeks started multi-classing their geekery into the intricate complexities of Social Justice systems, which eventually made them incompatible with the Geeks who hadn’t?

            Personally, I’d bet on it being a mix of the two, but at least in the video games space, it seems to me that while there’s a great deal of entryism going on, there’s a sizable native support base as well. I’m pretty sure the same is true for Comics and Tabletop, and it seems like it’s true for fiction. The “it’s all foreign insurgents” argument doesn’t hold up, to me.

        • LPSP says:

          “TLDR Geeks are paranoid”

          • hlynkacg says:

            It’s not paranoia if they are people who are actually out to get you.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @hlynkacg

            Sure, but that’s a double bind. If you claim you aren’t paranoid because people are actually out to get you, that just proves you’re paranoid.

          • LPSP says:

            Those things are not mutually exclusive. The universe can want to destroy you, AND you can be paranoid.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Those things are not mutually exclusive.

            Yes they are. “Paranoia” is specifically defined as a form of delusion.

            Being worried that people are out to get you when there really are people out to get you is not “paranoia” it’s “prudence”.

          • John Schilling says:

            Being worrying about people being out to get you when there really are people out to get you is not “paranoia” it’s “prudence”.

            What if it’s a different group of people? If, for example, some friends and I decide to practice our covert-operations tradecraft on some guy who believes (incorrectly and with no evidence) that the KGB is following him, does he retroactively become sane?

          • LPSP says:

            And that is the one and only definition of paranoid, of course.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ John Schilling

            I would argue that thinking that the KGB is after you when the agents in question are really from the CIA is an issue of being mistaken rather then delusional, as the differences between being persecuted by one agency vs another are largely irrelevant to the individual being persecuted.

            @ LPSP

            If you want to play humpty games and generally be obtuse that’s on you. If you are going to insist on using non-standard definitions without specifying otherwise you have no grounds to complain when others misunderstand you.

            Personally the whole “I’m going to use an esoteric definition for a commonly used word and then bitch about how people are too stupid to understand what I really meant” is big pet peeve of mine and I’d a appreciate it if we didn’t go down that particular road.

          • John Schilling says:

            I was not referring to a case where a person mistakes agents of one agency for another. I was referring to a person who has never seen agents of any agency pursuing him, who has no evidence of any such thing, who has a chemical imbalance in his brain or whatnot that makes him perceive innocent mailmen as KGB agents.

            And who is being followed by CIA agents who are competent enough to have remained wholly undetected.

          • LPSP says:

            If you want to play humpty games and generally be obtuse that’s on you.

            I’ll take your word on that, given that you appear to specialise in that field.

            If you are going to insist on using non-standard definitions without specifying otherwise you have no grounds to complain when others misunderstand you.

            Nothing disagreeable about this. Ping me when I use a non-standard definition of a word.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ John Schilling

            This strikes me as a meaningless distinction.

            @ LPSP

            consider yourself pinged.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @John Schilling – “What if it’s a different group of people? If, for example, some friends and I decide to practice our covert-operations tradecraft on some guy who believes (incorrectly and with no evidence) that the KGB is following him, does he retroactively become sane?”

            I liked Scott’s version of this, from a post way back. He was at a conference, and there was a presentation on new tech for inserting tracking chips into mental patients to keep tabs on them, and something else about I think secretly adding drugs to their water, and he noted that at this rate we could just cure paranoid delusions by making them all true.

            And hey, would it work? Like, if the guy thinks he has a chip in his head, and you tell him yeah, there’s a chip, here’s the X-ray, here’s the tracking signal, we’re doing it for your own good, does he get happier or sadder?

          • Jiro says:

            “I have a tracking chip in me” implies a malicious tracking chip. In a ha ha geek humor way you might say that the delusion is true, but it really isn’t once you realize that implication matters.

          • LPSP says:

            I see no reference to any term I used. It seems you don’t understand how communication works.

          • hlynkacg says:

            As stated before, you seem to be using a non-standard definition of the word paranoid.

          • John Schilling says:

            Let’s use the standard definition of paranoid then. Person X is absolutely, incontrovertibly paranoid by every standard definition. They believe they are being spied upon by KGB agents. They are not in fact being spied upon by KGB agents. There is no evidence available to them that would reasonably suggest that they are being spied upon by anyone. The things they mistake as evidence of KGB spying are in fact the normal behavior of normal people. Also, the KGB hasn’t existed in decades. A team of elite psychiatrists formally diagnoses them with paranoia. When treated with the usual medications, they stop believing they are being spied upon by KGB agents, only to resume that belief when they go off their meds.

            Can we agree that X is paranoid by the standard definition?

            Now add two CIA agents who decide it would be fun and/or useful to spy on this person. Or even FSB agents. These people are practicing first-rate tradecraft; they are not observed. There is still no evidence available to X indicating that he is being spied upon by anyone, and their belief that they are being spied upon still comes and goes depending on whether they are on their meds. Their mental state, and the sensory input feeding that mental state, is absolutely unchanged.

            As a third party observer who has been informed of the actual spies, is it your contention that X is no longer paranoid? If so, does a diagnosis of paranoia require e.g. accessing the classified archives of all the world’s intelligence services?

            It is absolutely possible to be paranoid, by every meaningful definition, even when there are people who are actually out to get you.

          • LPSP says:

            Which you have yet to justify. 🙂

          • Winter Shaker says:

            I can’t believe no one’s linked this song yet.

            Just because you’re paranoid
            Don’t mean they’re not out to get you.

          • LPSP says:

            In my defense, I’d never heard that song before. That song well-encompasses the point I tried to make.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ John Schilling

            I would say that your scenario is a definite edge case. The subject certainly is paranoid per the standard definition but your “There is no evidence available to X indicating that he is being spied upon by anyone” is doing a lot of heavy lifting. If the subject does in fact have evidence they are being spied upon they aren’t paranoid.

            @ LPSP

            See my previous reply.

          • LPSP says:

            Oh, you mean the one which includes no justification for why my usage of the word “paranoid” is a “non-standard definition”?

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ LPSP

            As I’ve already stated, the standard definition of paranoid specifies that the perceived threat is false or unfounded.

            the fact that you decided to respond with thinly veiled insults rather than rebut the point implies that you know full well that this is the case.

          • John Schilling says:

            …your “There is no evidence available to X indicating that he is being spied upon by anyone” is doing a lot of heavy lifting

            Not so much, because it’s solidly braced by “The things they mistake as evidence of KGB spying are in fact the normal behavior of normal people.”

            Isn’t that how pretty much every clinical diagnosis of paranoia works? The psychiatrist asks, “so why do you think you are being spied on by the KGB?”, and iff the answer is something no rational person would take as evidence of KGB spying, they go on to the rest of the DSM criteria for paranoia and don’t feel it necessary to ping Moscow for confirmation.

            Assuming perfect psychiatrists and perfect spies, there should be no correlation, positive or negative, between being actually spied upon and being clinically paranoid. The former is an objective physical fact but one hidden from observers, the latter is a mental state defined in part by not being informed by objective facts. A person could suffer from zero, one, or two of those conditions.

          • LPSP says:

            the standard definition of paranoid specifies that the perceived threat is false or unfounded.

            Not only didn’t you state that, it’s also not true.

          • hlynkacg says:

            John Schilling says:

            Isn’t that how pretty much every clinical diagnosis of paranoia works?

            Yes it is, which is why it is critical to distinguish between cases where the subject has evidence of being targeted and cases where they do not. This is also the precise point that I was trying to make to LPSP.

            @ LPSP

            Yes I did.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Dahlen – Good Replies, thanks for taking the time to make them.

          …It occurs to me that the XKCD you linked to is a pretty much perfect description of how I see Social Justice itself, as it operates in my world.

          “Speaking of which, I was going to put here some boilerplate as to how that’s an unwise choice, but that’s not the thread for it and I don’t think you need my opinion.”

          …I argued at length for Trump in the last several threads, but contemplating the conversations in the last two particularly has shifted me quite a bit toward either voting Hillary or just staying home. …I think it was the quality of the anti-Trump arguments, and more the quality, or the lack thereof, of the pro-Trump ones that had the most impact.

          “My tentative guess is that geeks don’t really have an instinct for how to be agreeable to other people and don’t grok the importance of internalising status-quo social norms in maintaining good relationships to people, instead thinking their way through entirely new and strongly unpopular/weird norm systems.”

          I might be flattering myself, but I think I’m actually pretty good at being agreeable with people. The problem I see is less with internalizing social norms, than with thinking that the new social norms being pushed are inherently hostile or incoherent. “[X] is always right, anyone who disagrees with [X] is wrong and bad” is a social norm, but unless [X] is you yourself it’s not one you can easily live under.

          Like, there’s a fundamental difference between the way I don’t like the fighting game community, and the way Social Justice people don’t like the fighting game community. I don’t want to play fighting games because I find them intimidating and frustrating, so I don’t play them. Some of the Social Justice people don’t want fighting games to get made, don’t want them to be played, don’t want people to play them at all, and they use shaming and social pressure and such to try to enforce their preferences. They seem to implicitly reject “live and let live”; you’re either part of the Solution or part of the Problem. And of course the solutions are varied and contradictory, and the only consistent theme seems to be that they should be in charge of what’s good and what’s bad, what gets made and what gets shunned.

          ” I was thinking that, maybe if you went into business or engineering, you’d meet people who refreshingly don’t care about this shit and have a job that hinges upon nothing that comes from either Tumblr or Breitbart. But then I thought that you might not like getting told to, you know, stop caring about what happens to the subculture that you so enjoy.”

          Yeah, there’s a bit of a path dependency problem. This is my life. Rather literally, actually; I made bad choices early on and burned my life down, and this is me starting over from scratch. I really don’t want to have to start over a third time. And it wasn’t this way, even three or four years ago! The games community used to be about like you describe engineering or business or whatever; everyone was just doing their own thing. There was even a fair amount of Social Justice content then too, it’s just it was optional and voluntary! That’s part of why Social Justice seems like such a problem, because it changed the community fast and hard into something that seems much worse. Maybe we can change it back?

          “Another message from this perspective is that, in the big picture, SJWs don’t exactly sit on a mountain of social status.”

          SJWs might not, but I try not to use that term because it’s really ambiguous. Social Justice itself sits on a massive amount of social capital. It seems like something of an open question in society whether it’s okay to not be a feminist, much less an anti-feminist or a Meninist or whatever. Actual identification as feminist is like 20% of women, but it’s frequently and loudly argued that that’s a super bad thing that needs to be fixed immediately. Claiming to not be a feminist, or to be opposed to Feminism, is one of those things I could see getting me fired.

          “…who have various socially undesirable features like being socially awkward, or bad public speakers, or a few sizes too large for cool clothes, and while everyone can form cliques, getting bullied by such folks is kind of… ha, ha. An admittedly sardonic kind of “ha, ha”.”

          It comes down to a labeling problem. Sure, these peoples’ rest state might be blogging about their mental health issues and sexual kinks, but in an actual conflict they automagically get labeled “abuse victim” or “civil rights advocate”, and people like me get labeled “harasser” or “misogynist” or “bigot”. All the mass of ordinary people don’t pay enough attention to actually dig down to the facts; they take the labels at face value, because they don’t actually care about video games much and Social Justice is a good thing, right? Harassment and bigotry are bad, right? victims should be protected, advocates for the weak should be aided, right?

          “It’s like someone described our peasants’ attitude towards religion: they don’t know that everything in the Nicene Creed is true, and they don’t care much, they just assume that the priests are the experts to which they should defer to on religious matters.”

          Exactly this. This is what I mean by “Social Capital” above.

          “I have half a mind to try my luck at being a one-man game dev team too, and incidentally in a niche that has a lot of SJWs (much, much more than average even for vidya).”

          Which niche? I highly recommend it; I’m currently taking a break from working on a design with a friend of mine. Making games generally is a ton of fun.

          • Iain says:

            Like, there’s a fundamental difference between the way I don’t like the fighting game community, and the way Social Justice people don’t like the fighting game community. I don’t want to play fighting games because I find them intimidating and frustrating, so I don’t play them. Some of the Social Justice people don’t want fighting games to get made, don’t want them to be played, don’t want people to play them at all, and they use shaming and social pressure and such to try to enforce their preferences. They seem to implicitly reject “live and let live”; you’re either part of the Solution or part of the Problem.

            Do you have an example of this? I am not involved with the fighting game community in any way, but the social-justice-y complaints I’ve seen about it have been about pervasive harassment, not the concept of fighting games themselves.

            Live-streamed footage from the first day of the tournament shows Bakhtanians, leader of the Tekken team, making sexual comments towards Pakozdi that range from crude to potentially abusive. Spurred on by commenters interacting via a live chatroom, Bakhtanians proceeds to guess at Pakozdi’s bra size, suggest she take part in a mud wrestling match, expresses a desire to spy on her in the women’s bathroom, suggests she wear a skirt he would buy for her, and threatens to smell her if she makes a mistake.

            Pakozdi, for her part, is seen in the video laughing nervously at the comments, though she does say at one point “this is creepy.” She later commented on her Twitter account that Bakhtanians’ actions were “not funny at all” and that he had “made my life incredibly hard and hasn’t helped me [deal with hecklers] at all. He made it way worse.” Pakozdi also suggests via Twitter that when she confronted Bakhtanians about his behavior, it was “pretty obvious he just doesn’t give a shit.’

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Iain – “Do you have an example of this? I am not involved with the fighting game community in any way, but the social-justice-y complaints I’ve seen about it have been about pervasive harassment, not the concept of fighting games themselves.”

            Sadly, R. Mika has not solved sexism in video games

            He Asked About Misogyny in Street Fighter, and the Game’s Caretakers Didn’t Dodge

            …and similar stuff. Usually it’s arguments about how female characters are presented. I think I’ve also seen complaints about their depiction of violence against women.

          • Iain says:

            Okay. Neither of those actually seem like examples of people who don’t want fighting games to be made at all, but I’m not interested in litigating this at length.

      • dndnrsn says:

        @FacelessCraven

        Vaguely related – I don’t get why the (pen and paper) RPG “community” matters, at all.

        Compared to video games, it is incredibly easy for people to make their own adventures, or even to make their own game systems. I can’t program or whatever, but even if I could, making a top-shelf game is a major team effort these days. But I’ve done my own adventures and campaigns, and given the amount of house rules I make (yeah I’m one of those awful people) I could probably write my own RPG system. Or, there’s so much stuff out there, that someone could not buy any games made after 2000, and still play games for the rest of their life.

        Am I just atypical in my preferences? Have I lucked out in having real-life people to play with regularly?

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @dndnrsn – “I don’t get why the (pen and paper) RPG “community” matters, at all.”

          It matters if you want to make a living as a designer, mainly. Otherwise GURPS lite is all you need. The same thing generally applies to the other media as well, though; you probably can’t read all the skiffy written before 2000 in a lifetime, or play all the games, etc.

          Word up for the home-brew, incidentally.

          • LHN says:

            I’d say it’s possible to have read enough pre-2000 SF that the remainder is kind of picked over. I’m sure there’s still a few out there I haven’t given a chance to, but quite a bit is either “read it” or “not my thing” by now. Not that I’m averse to rereading, but I remain hopeful for Good New Stuff.

            (Fortunately, while I’m not happy with a lot of the culture war stuff on either side, thus far there is still new work I find worth reading.)

            If I had to give up on that, I’d probably have more success diving into genres or periods where my experience is shallower than finding a great untried twentieth century SF author. (Though I’m sure there are still a few out there for me.)

          • dndnrsn says:

            Is it still possible to make a living off pen and paper RPGs? I thought it was basically a hobby where you might make a few bucks, these days.

          • LHN says:

            It’s actually gotten surprisingly big. As a data point, Gen Con gets 60,000 attendees a year, and a friend (who does make his living in the field) thinks that’s mostly a matter of hitting the limits of the facilities, and that they could break 100,000 if they moved to a city with a larger convention center and more hotels. The field has been a pretty major beneficiary of crowdfunding and internet-based publishing.

            It’s still not mostly a place to get rich. (The standard advice for US-based RPG writers, as for most freelancers, is “Marry someone with health insurance”.) But it does seem to be able to support a number of full-timers who are willing to live within what Robin Laws calls “creative class” incomes.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            I once calculated the amount of money I’d get if I published my homebrew pen-and-paper RPG. Using very generous sales figures, it was a survivable figure, but not a generous one.

            The market is pretty thin – I think I calculated that there are at most around 3,000 brick-and-mortar stores in the US selling pen-and-paper-related supplies, which would be the primary non-Internet outlets; judging by the stores I’ve visited, the average store services somewhere between 20-50 DMs, for a very very rough estimate of a market of at most 150,000 individuals across the country.

            If you can consistently release annual updates to your material (new classes, dungeon guides, whatnot), you could probably survive on a solid fan base of around 3,000 DMs regularly buying your material, so you’d need a market penetration rate of at least 2%, again assuming my relatively generous rough estimates. That’s achievable, but you’d have to have nationwide distribution of your source material, and you’d also need something substantive to offer that the existing systems are overlooking.

            For a non-career single-shot release, I’d hazard a guess that you could probably top out at around $50,000 after paying an artist, publishing, and distribution costs, assuming you did all the other work yourself – but the average release would probably barely break even.

  5. dndnrsn says:

    So, there’s a lot of relatively out-there political ideas here, by the standards of mainstream North American/European politics. But one thing I notice for its absence – someone correct me if I’m wrong – is electoral reform. It seems fairly obvious that the US’ electoral system is not up to the job it is currently being asked to do, a job wildly different from the one it was designed to do (and whether it was well designed to do that job is another question).

    People who are far right are certainly overrepresented here, and maybe people who are far left are too. Both groups would win big if the US adopted, say, some sort of proportional representation system.

    Less a discussion of electoral systems, and more the question of “there is more discussion here of libertarian city-states and transhumanist moon colonies than simple electoral reform” (slight hyperbole) – why is that?

    Would fixing the US electoral system (or the British, or the Canadian; both are bad but not as bad as the American system) be harder than establishing a libertarian city-state or a transhumanist moon colony? (I will accept “Yes” as a n answer)

    • Anonymous says:

      “there is more discussion here of libertarian city-states and transhumanist moon colonies than simple electoral reform” (slight hyperbole) – why is that?

      Electoral reform boring. Moon exciting.

      • ReluctantEngineer says:

        What if we use a Moon colony as our hypothetical polity when discussing electoral reform?

        Like this:

        Proportional representation could be bad when small groups of voters have significant regional concerns — the residents of a Moon colony, for example.

        In the current US system they would get a congressman and maybe some senators to represent them (assuming they formed their own state or at least their own congressional district), but in a proportional system there might not be enough of them for major parties to bother with their concerns. They could try to form their own Moon Party, but even if they vote as a unified block they might not have enough votes to pass the threshold for getting representatives into the legislature.

        • Anonymous says:

          PR could be bad in the opposite direction, too: suppose the Moon colony was large enough to make the Moon Party a kingmaker party, without which no coalition could get a majority. Now everyone has to kowtow to their Moon Wishes if they want to rule, and Moon Ideas become disproportionately prioritized in political practice. Whereas, ironically, if they just get their one guy and two dudes as per the current system, they get an influence somewhat proportional to their size.

          • dndnrsn says:

            This happens in pure PR systems like the Netherlands or Israel. On the other hand, in a German-style system, Moon Party probably doesn’t make the cutoff for PR, although it picks up some local seats.

          • ReluctantEngineer says:

            I’m not super familiar with the German electoral system (I recall that they combine PR with direct representation but from reading Wikipedia it looks like that’s all within one house, instead of one house PR and one house directly elected like I thought) — would the local seats the Moon Party picks up be enough to prevent politicians from deciding that it’s a waste to be sending shipments of air up to the Moon, we could use that air right here on Earth, etc. and leaving the Moon colonists to asphyxiate?

          • dndnrsn says:

            The German system is a bit complicated but as I understand it does a decent job of balancing local representation with PR, while keeping small fringe parties from becoming either swing votes or big non-fringe parties via a cutoff for PR seats.

          • Alex says:

            Re: “German system”.

            Technically the number of seats are assigned to parties per Sainte-Lague. There are only two quirks:

            a) There are minimum requirements to be eligible for seats at all.
            b) The process to determine which person actually gets a seat won by the party is somewhat complicated and also subject to the election.

            Most explainations that you will find will focus on these points and thereby gloss over the fact that at its heart the system is straightforward Sainte-Lague. I think this is a mistake in framing. I think the German quirks should be framed exactly as what they are. Complicated additions to an otherwise simple and sensible method.

            The function of these additions is to trade equal proportional representation for stabilization of the status quo. I find it hard to tell if this is a good trade to make.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      In an absolute sense, electoral reform would be much easier. But from the perspective of Joe Schmo it is far more difficult.

      A bunch of clever engineers and a good salesman could, in theory, get a lunar colony built with enough blood sweat and tears. But you need a far larger scale of organization to unseat the whole apparatus of American government. At least if you want to replace it with something specific rather than just watching the world burn.

      That said, I like the idea of sortition. It’s elegant, would make the formation of a political class more challenging, and achieve the putative goal of representative democracy in a straightforward way. No taxation without statistically significant representation!

      • cassander says:

        I like the idea of sortition, but power and longevity are closely related. If your boss tells you to do something onerous on his last day before leaving for a new job, are you going to do it? probably not. The government will have people who are in it for a long time, civil servants, long term fixers and lobbyists, wise old men, someone. A legislature composed of people who serve their term and go home is going to be powerless before these people. The short timers won’t know how the system works, and will be subject to enormous pressure from those that do to “do the right thing.” And even if they do figure things out, the long termers will just be able to stonewall and wait them out, then go back to doing whatever it is they wanted to do one the troublemaker’s term is up.

        Juries are a great use of sortition, but they work precisely because the trial is an ah-hoc collection of individuals where no one has any long term investment in the outcome of the proceedings. The same cannot be true of a legislature.

      • bean says:

        You are aware that any theoretically independent moon colony is going to have serious, serious legal issues, right? Theoretically, you’re always under the jurisdiction of whoever launched the spacecraft you’re on. It’s not clear who’d have jurisdiction over a moon colony assembled out of in-situ resources, but I’d bet that unless you split your launch services up very carefully, you’ll be under someone’s thumb immediately.
        And then you have the problem of what to do when you deny jurisdiction to someone. Unless you can get someone to back your independence, you’ll just starve. You’d better be ready to be awfully lonely for a while.
        And then there’s the engineering issues, which are a whole different kettle of fish. I can go into those, too, but they’re not relevant to this.

    • Anon. says:

      If you’re discussing things that will never ever happen, you might as well go for something extravagant.

    • John Schilling says:

      Political parties can do math, and the two big ones on the American political scene have divided the available votes roughly evenly between them. This is a stable equilibrium. Any attempt to “reform” it will either produce effectively the same outcome, or it will produce a substantially different one. The substantially different outcome will almost certainly be A: mathematically predictable and B: to the disadvantage of at least one major party. That party will do the math and block the reform.

      This is particularly true if the intent of the reform is to increase the relative power or legitimacy of third parties.

      • On Any Mess says:

        Exactly, this is the reason. Seriously, why is anyone else even still bothering to reply to this thread, when the (correct) answer is right here? Although in light of this, the comment someone made above about dreaming big when you’re talking about impossibilities regardless is also of (obvious) relevance, because of this.

        • Radm says:

          Yes, assuming the electorate is divided into small groups by economics and interests, the each party will compromise a _lot_ more to get its coalition from 45 to 50% than from 50 to 55. So groups swap sides until equilibrium is restored.

          I think there is one situation in which you could get a political realignment, which is if circumstances dictated that the perceived interests of the two biggest sub-factions in each opposing party had a _lot_ more correlation with each other than each had with the rest of the party. Hard to see what that would look like. But then if it was easy, it would have already happened.

          • Ann Nonny Mousse says:

            Hard to see what that would look like. But then if it was easy, it would have already happened.

            I think that’s actually what’s happening right now with Trump and (while he was still in the running) Bernie Sanders (and the “leftward” shift Hillary made in response to his primary challenge).

          • John Schilling says:

            I think there is one situation in which you could get a political realignment,

            There are several circumstances in which you could get a political realignment; this has happened, what, half a dozen times in US history?

            But political realignment neither requires nor really allows a change in the voting system. The United States of America is going to have a first-past-the-post Presidential system until something happens that is more revolution than realignment. That system will never have more or less than two viable political parties for more than an election cycle. Which two parties, and how they are aligned, can change dramatically and in a short time.

    • cassander says:

      What does “fixing the electoral system” mean? There is no such thing as a perfect electoral system, and empirical evidence that electoral systems make for large differences in policy outcomes is pretty weak.

      • Aapje says:

        I would argue that the US system results in far greater disparity between the opinions of voters and the platforms of politicians than more proportional systems. It is also extremely sensitive to ‘mood swings,’ rather than slow migration to new opinions. The latter is much preferable in many cases, as it results in new ideas being slowly tested, as well as more respect for minority opinions.

    • This assumes that “fixing” is well defined. PR has both advantages and disadvantages.

      One (arguable) advantage of the U.S. system is that it pushes both parties to nominate centrist candidates, even if that doesn’t seem to be working very well at the moment.

      • I can’t resist the opportunity to offer my favorite electoral system. I’m not sure it works better than others, but it is more elegant.

        Representatives are really representative. Each has a list of the voters he represents and gets to cast that number of votes in the legislature. A voter can switch who his representative is any time he wants–imagine it being all set up online.

        If you represent more than (say) a million voters, you get to occupy a seat in Congress. Fewer than that, you have to get together with enough other representatives to total a million and you have one shared seat, which you take turns occupying according to whatever terms you all agreed to. With or without a seat you get to cast the number of votes you represent any time there is a vote in Congress (again, via a computer system).

        • cassander says:

          I’ve had a similar idea, and one the big problem I see with it is how you get the parliamentary procedure to work. how do you determine committee assignments, precedence, ect? The problem isn’t insurmountable, of course, but it it would be tricky to work out. It’s sounds silly, but parliamentary procedure is pretty much universally built on the assumption of fundamental equality among legislators, and you’d basically be tossing that out.

        • John Schilling says:

          I share Dr. Friedman’s fondness for the system and Cassander’s objection to it. To make it work, I think it best to just say that X votes gets you one full-time seat in congress, neither more nor less privileged than any other, but that a candidate can precommit for his insufficient and/or excess votes to be transferred to another candidate.

          The simplest electoral strategy is going to be a party list, but I think that’s going to wind up being true of any proportional-representation scheme. So long as it isn’t mandatory or mathematically privileged, that’s OK with me,

          • cassander says:

            @John Schilling

            at that point, though, don’t you just have PR? I suppose “continuous” PR would produce somewhat different outcomes from electoral PR, but I’d be damned if I could guess what those might be.

        • Ivy says:

          you have to get together with enough other representatives to total a million and you have one shared seat

          Perhaps even more elegantly, you can have representatives delegate their vote to other representatives, leading to liquid democracy.

          This way you can delegate your vote to anyone, from a trusted politically-savvy friend to a public intellectual you admire. I would also expect it to lead to less partisanship due to the ease of breaking and re-forming electoral blocks.

          • roystgnr says:

            The spanner in the works here is the difficulty of maintaining a secret ballot, don’t you think?

            Without a secret ballot, I suspect there will be a lot of people who delegate their votes to their boss, and the ratio of “people who see their bosses as trusted and politically savvy” to “people who see this as a good idea for job security” is not likely to be high, even if the latter group *isn’t* intimidated into it.

      • Aapje says:

        One (arguable) advantage of the U.S. system is that it pushes both parties to nominate centrist candidates, even if that doesn’t seem to be working very well at the moment.

        I would argue that it’s preferable to have a representative congress, resulting in many beliefs being discussed, while the executive politicians are centrist; rather than a fully centrist system where many people feel that they are not represented.

      • Wrong Species says:

        If Donald Trump wins, that’s true but if he loses, that just means the system is punishing his extremism.

    • BBA says:

      Any change to the US electoral system is impossible, between the entrenchment of the major parties and the difficulty of amending the Constitution even with bipartisan support. (Even the bits of the electoral system that aren’t imposed by the Constitution benefit incumbents too much to be changed – for instance, the House of Representatives will have 435 members forever.) It’d be easier in Britain but Nick Clegg squandered the best opportunity for electoral reform that’s likely to come around for decades. Canada still might do it if it looks like the Liberal-NDP split of the left would bring another Tory government into power.

      Establishing a libertarian city-state is much simpler. Just buy a private island in some banana republic, then bribe the government into giving you independence. Cheaper than seasteading, although there’s still the problem of getting enough people to live there to make your city-state sustainable.

      • Tekhno says:

        Cheaper than seasteading, although there’s still the problem of getting enough people to live there to make your city-state sustainable.

        Wait for artificial intelligence (reduce mental labor) to get really good and additive manufacturing (reduce physical labor and specialization) to get really good and nanotechnology (reduce the number of different elements needed to make different products) to get really good* and you won’t need that many people to keep the city-state sustainable and trading with the outside.

        *Or rather than wait, get the government to increase funding into this stuff now.

  6. Jordan D. says:

    Good time, my fellow persons!

    Some interesting cases, brought to you by me, brought to me by the Institute for Justice’s weekly Short Circuit newsletter and available for viewing here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/10/03/short-circuit-a-roundup-of-recent-federal-court-decisions-23/?utm_term=.d20478ecbdc8

    Out of the First Circuit – the government can’t ban the practice of taking ‘ballot selfies’ at the polls because the fear that employers, etc, will demand proof that employees voted for their favorite candidates doesn’t meet strict scrutiny. Really can’t tell you what I’d do if this were put to a vote. http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/15-2021P-01A.pdf (please note that laws against ballot selfies may remain on the books and enforceable in your state; don’t take this as carte blanche to go on a scrapbooking spree)

    For the libertarians among us! The Fifth Circuit – a patron of the arts sells a painting to a financier, along the way gathering a series of vague agreements as to the disposition of the painting. The painting is resold at auction, in possible violation of some of those things which may or may not be contracts! Actually this case reminds me a lot of Contracts II, which is a class I really enjoyed. The most interesting bit, I think, is the speculative determination at the end regarding illegal restraint on alienation. How do you feel about contracts which impair the property rights of future takers? – http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/15/15-10046-CV0.pdf

    From the Tenth Circuit – How few guards do you need at a prison before the risk of violence makes confinement there an Eighth Amendment violation? https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/16/16-6083.pdf

    And finally, from a state court instead of a federal one-

    Supreme Court of Pennsylvania – The Sixth Amendment gives us all a right to counsel in criminal cases; and if you do not have a lawyer, one must be provided for you. But anyone paying attention knows that Public Defenders are often overworked, on shoe-string budgets and quite frankly might not have the time to represent you properly. In the recent past we’ve seen big complaints from PDs, even one director of a state public defense system try to rope the state’s governor in directly; still, the problem is ongoing. If you’re an underrepresented defendant, what are you gonna do, sue? Yes, says the state high court, and if the PD’s office doesn’t have the ability to represent you, you can force the government to pay for an attorney who will. – http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/J-47A-2016mo%20-%2010282709712025453.pdf?cb=1

    (Actually they don’t really get into remedies, but that’s on the table)

    • brad says:

      This one via Prawfsblawg was pretty interesting too Wright v. City of Miami Gardens (FL 2016):

      The Florida Supreme Court held that Florida law required a putative candidate to pay the filing fee by the deadline to qualify for the ballot. Wright had not achieved payment because the bank failed to honor his check. The court went on to hold, however, that the filing fee requirement was unconstitutional as applied to Wright. It held, “[D]isqualifying a candidate who did everything right due to an error of a third party bank that was totally beyond the control of the candidate is both unreasonable and unnecessary, as well as plainly irrational.”

      In a single paragraph at the end of the opinion, without citation to a single authority, the Court just asserted that Wright’s exclusion from the ballot “tainted the entire Miami Gardens election,” and this problem is “irremediable without a new election.”

      • Jordan D. says:

        Honestly, the most surprising part about that for me is how dedicated the court seems to be to that ruling- I’ve seen plenty of lower-court cases where a court goes ‘Well, that wasn’t a great reason to invalidate your candidacy but the election’s over now, so…’ Holding a special election over the city is surprising.

        The dissent raises a question which I find interesting; courts generally ignore non-jurisdictional arguments not raised by parties, on the basis that the courts are adversarial and if you don’t make an argument the court hasn’t got what it needs to consider it. But in a case like this, where a court reaches the constitutionality of a statute and strikes it down, how much help is it to have the input of Random Appellant and Municipal Defendant, really? At the very least, you’d think the court would want to call in the AG to defend the law.

    • brad says:

      The Fifth Circuit case reminds me of one good reasons congress should consider eliminating or at least sharply reigning in diversity jurisdiction. All that Erie analysis just doesn’t sit right with me. Does anyone really think there would have been a home state bias in this particular case or in most diversity cases? I’ll grant that there are certainly cases where a home state bias is a concern, but I think they are few and far between.

      Federal Courts would still have to read state law tea leaves in supplemental jurisdiction (née pendant and ancillary) cases but I bet the diversity docket is considerably larger.

      • Jordan D. says:

        As of 2015, it looks like there were 87,772 cases filed in diversity jurisdiction, out of 281,608 civil federal cases filed. Cutting down almost a third of the docket would probably be a welcome relief to the federal court system. Even assuming you only got rid of half of those because you retained jurisdiction in cases where ‘home cooking’ was likely, that’s still the size of all federal inmate appeals.

      • BBA says:

        Expect major opposition from attorneys if that were to happen. As flawed as the federal judiciary is, state courts tend to be even worse. I don’t know how the late Elizabeth Halverson made it onto the bench of the general-jurisdiction Clark County District Court; I do know that her obvious unsuitability as a judge would have eliminated her from consideration for the federal bench well before the formal nomination process.

    • “How do you feel about contracts which impair the property rights of future takers?”

      Routine in real property–easements and licenses. I believe I own half the width of the road in front of my house (it’s an old house). I haven’t checked, but I assume the City of San Jose has an easement that prevents me from setting up a toll booth there–even though I didn’t contract to the easement.

      It makes sense for forms of property, such as real estate, where the buyer can determine what restraints there are on the property before buying it.

      Us law and econ types describe this in terms of property ownership as a bundle of rights. You may be able to unbundle, to transfer one right to someone else while keeping the rest. If so, when you sell the bundle, it no longer contains the right you no longer own.

      • Jordan D. says:

        Ah, okay. I think I need to re-word my question a bit.

        Easements are one thing- what I’m really interested in are restrictions on alienation. While states have largely abolished the rule against perpetuities, I think courts are still pretty suspicious of ‘dead hand’ contracts which continuously impair the ability of a future owner to sell the entire bundle of rights (subject to restrictive covenants and easements which are largely unrelated to alienation, I think).

        Now, I know that you prefer the contract-for-arbitration model, but assuming that we keep a state-run court system is it better or worse to restrict a party’s ability to contract away its rights to alienate property in perpetuity?

  7. Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

    I assume these threads are automated, but is there a way to not create them when a links post was posted the same day? It seems kind of redundant and cluttery.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      They’re sort of automated, but I do prefer to have the links be for link-related discussion and this be open.

  8. TMB says:

    A few open threads ago I posted this:
    http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/09/28/open-thread-59-25/#comment-415536

    The idea that we should accept only female immigrants.

    Well –
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3820456/Men-violent-outnumbered-women-Study-claims-areas-fewer-men-higher-rates-promiscuity-conflict.html

    We need to take more women from Syria to reduce the level of violence there?

    • Sandy says:

      That result seems counterintuitive to me — I would think areas with fewer men would see higher rates of promiscuity among women, not men. Lower intrasexual competition should lead to lower violence among men.

      • Mary says:

        That’s just one motive. There’s a reason that would increase: the men would fear fewer consequences. If there are a lot less men than women, it’s a lot less likely that getting into a fight will cause women to dismiss you as a troublemaker.

        So you can be more violent for the hell of it.

        • Aapje says:

          You are assuming that women dislike violence in men, which is hardly a given, as there is evidence that many women (subconsciously) want their partner to be a protector. In more macho cultures, this seems to be a strong conscious desire by a decent number of women.

          So it’s equally possible that a surplus in men will reduce the pressure on men to demonstrate their ability to protect by violent and/or aggressive behavior, especially in macho cultures.

          The problem with these kinds of arguments is that you can generally make a good argument for both one possibility and the opposite, depending on which mechanism you believe to be dominant. So you need to actually look at reality to see which mechanism is dominant, where that may be different for various (sub)cultures.

          For example, I would not be surprised if NY women prefer less violent men than Appalachia women.

    • Mary says:

      I believe the best effects are found when the sex ratio is even. An imbalance either way causes trouble because of the lower odds of pairing off.

      An excess of women, for instance, could lead to men exploiting their scarcity value.

      • Aapje says:

        An excess of women, for instance, could lead to men exploiting their scarcity value.

        And women voluntarily making choices that increase their attractiveness, but reduces their happiness.

        I object to this mechanism being judged as ‘exploitation by men’ (this is a common feminist fallacy, where all negative behavior is blamed on men).

        • Mary says:

          You single out one possibility that is not the one I mentioned and yet it somehow refutes mine?

          Men can certainly exploit it. They can make higher demands with the knowledge that if they break up, he can find a new woman a lot more easily than she can find a new man, and therefore he can demand things of her that she can’t of him. Like the fighting I mentioned above.

          • Aapje says:

            My intention was not to refute you, scarcity does often does result in unfairness, some of it purposely sought out (exploitation). But often, there is unfairness that is not consciously sought out by the person who benefits.

            For example, during an economic downturn, people are much less willing to take sick days when they are sick, due to fear of being sacked for it. Yet I’ve never seen evidence that a large part of this behavior is driven by threats from employers, nor that many employers base their decision to fire people on taking 1 or 2 sick days more than others. It seems to be behavior whose primarily driver is assumptions by the employees, which are possibly quite wrong, at least in part.

            So if someone would say:

            ‘An excess of labor, for instance, could lead to employers exploiting their scarcity value.’

            I’d also point out that it could lead to unfairness that cannot be called exploitation. And furthermore, that such framing is based on and perpetuates a view of the world that many people use, to their detriment, as it is less explanatory than a more accurate model.

            My main objection is actually more to the already existing bias in society and how your comment works to reinforce it, rather than challenge it. This is not intended to make you reconsider the truth level of your statement, but rather how your statement may (accidentally) reinforce the bad biases that people in our society already have.

  9. A question I may have raised before …

    How well known was the rhythm method of birth control in the past? I was reminded of it by a reference in the literature on early Irish law–that one element in a damage claim could be keeping a man from his wife (recovering from injuries? I’m not sure) during her fertile period, which implies they thought they knew about when the fertile period was.

    The Wikipedia article makes it sound as though the relevant information wasn’t available until modern times. But, as I may have commented before, one would expect it to be produced by experiment much earlier. There have been a number of societies, such as ancient China and medieval Islam, where many high status men had multiple wives and/or concubines. Knowledge of both how to make fertilization more likely and how to make it less likely would be useful. It would be straightforward for a curious man with multiple partners to determine which ones had reasonably regular menstrual cycles then adopt a policy of sleeping with one woman only in the first week after menstruation, one in the second week, one in the third week. Keep it up for a while and see which one gets pregnant.

    Do we know if anyone did the experiment? If the rhythm method was in common use anywhere before modern times?

    Arguably the introduction of reliable contraception in modern times had a big effect on sexual behavior and related social patterns. That makes it interesting to know how much was known on the subject in the past.

    • Anonymous says:

      The rules of nidah in Orthodox Judaism make sex likely on the twelfth day after the start of menstruation which is close to the peak of fertility. However, for men a twelve day abstinence isn’t ideal for fertility (two to seven days is best) and onanism is prohibited.

      In regards to multiple wives, I was under the impression that cohabiting women tend to have their cycles sync up.

      • Synced cycles would make it easier, since the man could have intercourse for a week with one partner, then a week with the next, … .

        Jewish law regards the command to increase and multiply as binding. According to Maimonides, it is a sin for a man over twenty not to be married, with an exception for someone whose study of Torah is so intense that he can’t afford time for a wife (but he should still marry if his lustful feelings are a problem). From that standpoint, targeting the woman’s fertile period makes sense.

        I wasn’t aware of the pattern of delay for purification after menstruation. It’s interesting. The biblical rule seems to be seven days from the start of menstruation, which wouldn’t get the woman to her fertile period. But the Amoraim changed it to seven days from the end of menstruation.

      • Eltargrim says:

        In regards to multiple wives, I was under the impression that cohabiting women tend to have their cycles sync up.

        Apparently this is largely a consequence of probability, according to this review. Apologies for the paywall.

        • I think the recent backlash about synchrony research is itself overwrought and that we’re mostly seeing that previous research is underpowered or badly designed, not that the effect isn’t real. That doesn’t prove it is, but that said, every woman whom I’ve had a menstrual cycle related discussion with is convinced it’s mostly real.

          But I doubt we’ll ever know for real–and doing the study on modern young American women is impossible at this point, because of the ubiquitous use of hormonal contraceptives.

  10. Tekhno says:

    I’ve recently become concerned that my response to seeing rapes in the news is to be disgusted not by the rape but by the choice of rape victim.

    Now, this could mean I’m a monster, but it could also mean that we live in a world where depraved acts have become so mundane that I need to find new ways to feel bad, many of which are in themselves depraved.

    I think it’s a bad thing that I’ve become so fed up of evil that I’ve started evaluating evil based on aesthetic trappings. ISIS kills and mutilates people in horrible, horrible ways, but I kind of have to admit that my brief flashes of anger at ISIS are more than overwhelmed by my long term appreciation of their aesthetic trappings, and strength of conviction. The memeification of everything means that instead of thinking primarily of beheadings and torture when I think of ISIS, I instead think of nasheed trap music and terrorist frog memes. Most of the time, I smile when I think of ISIS. They are a joke to me.

    This could be because I’m a sociopathic man-child, but I don’t think I’m alone on this. The world hasn’t actually got any more evil, but because of social media we are surrounded by it all of the time, while due to the long post World War peace being simultaneously never more distant. We get to analyze evil into nothing instead of feeling the terror up close. What does that do to us? Have there been any studies or at least books on the Western phenomena of having everything horrible in the world beamed at us 24/7 while also being protected from experiencing suffering directly by a historically unique level of civilization and pacification? What does that duality do to us? What is it turning us into?

    • JHC says:

      There is a taboo in popular culture against discussing how media may change us. I often wonder how immersion in video games is changing people but ive never seen it discussed.

      • LPSP says:

        I can think of video game-centric examples, like attitudes towards visible polygons and texture quality. Animated movies like Toy Story have aged well in terms of literal animation, but almost everyone can see the sheer uncanniness of certain parts, especially Andy and the dog. Video games, so interactive and exhaustive as they are, may have played a part – of course, further advances in CG movies themselves could probably account for this, but there’s definitely a relationship.

        In fact, honestly, I think changes in other media have changed how we viewed video games moreso than the other way around. Video games used to have cutscenes on the same level as full CGI movies of the same era, play graphics far below, and it was acceptable. Now people are angry if an advert for a video game features better graphics than any part of it, and people are less wowed by cutscenes since most of them are subpar next to modern Pixar.

      • Fahundo says:

        but ive never seen it discussed

        You must be joking.

    • Tekhno says:

      but ive never seen it discussed.

      I know you’re being sarcastic, but…

      While the common hypothesis that videogames make people more violent has never been conclusively proven, I do wonder whether videogames might be doing something more subtle to us.

      • Aapje says:

        A huge issue is that the discussion is generally tribalist and/or ageist, where something that is popular among the youth or the other tribe is identified as ‘corrupting’ (despite this mechanism having been repeated since ancient Greece, showing that people are merely ignoring the effects of aging and the inherent differences between people).

        The result is that the ‘corrupting’ influence changes with each generation (pop music, metal, computer games, rap music, etc).

        Few people seem willing to blame the cultural artifacts that they like to consume.

        Anyway, I think that it is very likely that our brains were optimized for relatively small groups and limited communication, so we tend to judge anything we hear about as a huge threat to us. This makes sense in small groups, as it is very likely that you are at great risk for a crime that happened to your group or a group that you trade with. However, in the modern context, it results in fear being linked to the number of bad things that the media tells us about (which has increased for various reasons), rather than actual statistical risk.

    • obviously? says:

      Rapists and ISIS are not a direct short-term threat to you and your way of live. They either don’t see you as a target or live far away on the other side of the planet.

  11. keranih says:

    In the previous OT, @patrick merchant asked:

    1. Do kids actively want to be racially represented in movies/shows/etc?

    2. Does increased representation actually have a measurably positive impact on these kids (in the form of increased self-esteem, increased acceptance by their peers, etc)?

    1. I grew up reading comic books, adventure stories, animal stories, all that. I read a lot of books with YA male leads – for quite a lot of American lit, that was your option. (There were more than a few YA female leads – but those stories had weird second act menstruation plot points and at 9-14 years old that was an entire ball of OMG DO NOT WANT.)(*)

    Even the animal-centric stories had male (animal) leads, although nearly all of them were close to asexual vs masculine in nature. Females were a Different Nation.

    For my part, I was perfectly happy to read a male protagonist, delighted to read a strong character who was female & not a wimp, and reacted very negatively to poor portrayals of female characters. If they were in there scrapping, I liked. If they weren’t there at all, it made no diff. If female characters were there, and yet were weak, wimpy, ineffectual, stupid, or not helpful and this was clearly because their gender, not an individual failing I wanted nothing to do with it.

    2. Not a clue. I suspect it might be strong but no personal evidence.

    (*) There’s a whole ‘nother conversation about how YA lit primed females to fear the thought of bearing children, but that’s a different topic.

    • onyomi says:

      I generally get annoyed about focus on symbolism over substance (let’s ignore the drug war incarcerating millions of black men right now but complain loudly about monuments to founding fathers who were slaveholders), but I feel like this may actually make a difference. As a white male growing up it was easy to imagine myself as the “hero of my own story,” whatever that’s worth (and maybe the effects of such are not all good), probably in part because the heroes of the stories I read and watched were, well, white males (though I also had no problem enjoying a book or movie or tv show starring a female or non-white protagonist).

      Though I don’t think it’s necessary to strive for exact representation of the population (hispanics and Asians have a much more legit complaint re. Hollywood in this regard), or to retcon old beloved heroes to be a different race, gender, or sexuality, I do think people model themselves on fiction to a greater degree than might be obvious, and that having positive role models of a variety of races, genders, sexual orientations is a worthwhile goal.

      • keranih says:

        The only time I’ve gotten really worked up – myself, rather than (occasionally) agreed that a third party might have a point – over “race-lifting” type actions was with the most recent remake of My Friend Flicka.

        Because the whole freaking point was that this was a guy who loved his horse and was a bit of a wimp and a trial to his macho Wyoming rancher dad. Making the protagonist a gal just…it was wrong.

        (God. This series of books. It’s been decades but still. Flicka. Rocket. Thunderhead-who-was-Goblin.

        I want a monkey tree. And a Swan Sleigh. With bells. And I want a little Girl.)

        • Equinimity says:

          As a former wimpy boy who was a trial to his father and who adored horses (sadly from afar at the time, growing up in the suburbs) that’s one that will kick me into ranting mode too.
          I did manage to shut down a few people who tried to go off at me for objecting to that one though. As someone who churned through an awful lot of horse books in my misspent youth, I said this was the only book of it’s genre with a male protagonist (*) and the movie remake forced it into bland gender conformity.

          * – I was wrong, as I remembered later. The Black Stallion is ‘the other one’. Never grabbed me the same way though.

      • dndnrsn says:

        The focus on symbolism is terrible. Sometimes you have a situation where talking the talk is more important than walking the walk. Highly super-scientific personal anecdata for illustration purposes only: the friend of mine who was most vocal about how Girls was bad because not a diverse cast, and OITNB was good because of its diverse cast has, as far as I can tell, close to zero friends who aren’t white. Or, at least, they don’t show up at the parties this friend throws.

        Or, one of the guys I know who is the most self-congratulatory about what a good Male Feminist ™ he is, has behaved really awfully towards at least one woman in his personal life. But hey, at least he isn’t the guy who is known for, at best, extremely ungentlemanly behaviour, and at worst serial rape … who was involved in the school’s anti-sexual harassment and assault group (leading one person to say they didn’t believe the allegations … because he was involved in that group, so how could he possibly be guilty of sexual assault?)

        • Aapje says:

          The psychology of male feminists is very interesting, because it means you are part of a movement that considers your gender to be automatically suspect and deeply indoctrinated to abuse women. You get some very interesting psychological responses to that.

          One type of male feminist seems to be a person who is an evil person himself, but uses the patriarchy as an excuse: ‘I can’t/couldn’t really help it, since I’m indoctrinated like this’.

          The most amazing is when these people write stories about how they abused women in the past and then claim that all men do this. Then I’m shaking my head behind the monitor, mumbling….it’s just you, pal.

          Hugo Schwyzer is probably the most famous of this type.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Coincidentally, the first guy I described, did the same shtick as Schwyzer – “oh, I used to be so bad to women, but I have seen the error of my ways, and now I have special authority”. Given, though, that past behaviour is usually the best indicator of further behaviour, it’s not hugely surprising that it turned out that Schwyzer’s being shitty to women was not something back in the past. Likewise, this guy I know, I would not be surprised if it turned out that he was still being shitty to women.

            I think it’s less using it as an excuse, and more a way to assuage their guilt – but people who assuage their guilt through politics are probably less likely to just stop doing the thing they feel guilty about.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The psychology of male feminists is very interesting, because it means you are part of a movement that considers your gender to be automatically suspect and deeply indoctrinated to abuse women.

            Look, in every movement and ideology their will be some narcissists who will be engaged in some form of self-delusion or self-aggrandizement or both. So I certainly won’t deny that people like this occur, and do so in great numbers.

            But honestly, I’ve never, ever felt this way.

            Mock me if you must, but go listen to “Free to Be You and Me“. Yes, you aren’t plumbing the greatest depths of feminism, but I dare you to find a message of male self-hate out of it.

            I had it as an album when I was probably seven. I loved it. It made sense to me. It made me feel good.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            You’re certainly right. Most people who generically support feminist goals (which is a significantly higher % of people than those who call themselves feminists) are fine, regardless of gender.

            There is, however, a certain type of really aggressive male feminist who does a lot of things that feminism condemns in men.

            I hadn’t really lived until I saw a woman in STEM telling a guy that she hadn’t faced discrimination, and said guy telling her that she was wrong.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I’m not arguing that everything that feminists do consist of misandry. They don’t apply the entirety of their ideology to each of their endeavors, which no person in the world does.

            My argument is that concepts such as toxic masculinity and the strongly related idea that only men commit evil in significant numbers (hence: denial of women being rapists, domestic violence perpetrators, etc) places women on a pedestal, while doing the opposite for men. The result is that everything that women do is regarded with good faith and men are approached with bad faith. Whenever a man commits violence against a woman, it is assumed that he does so because he wants to oppress her. When a woman commits violence against a man, it is assumed that he gave her a reason for her to use violence.

            The Ray Rice saga is a good example. His fiancée hit him first and he hit back. The sane assessment of that is that she was wrong for using violence and he was very wrong for hitting her back (especially with that level of force). However, the actual media and feminist story completely ignored her violence and portrayed her as a pure victim. This is the double standard in action in society today.

            This is actually part of the patriarchy that was adopted by feminism, because it serves the goal of getting more rights for women, although it very much harms the fight for equality.

            If you have trouble understanding why I object to ‘toxic masculinity’, imagine a very similar variant for which you can argue for just as easily: toxic blackness. Now imagine what it does with black people to be told by racists that they are fundamentally violent and have to take special care not to hurt white people. Then think what it does to men to be told that they are fundamentally violent and have to take special care not to hurt women.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @dndnrsn:
            Again, I said you would be able to find many examples. Plural of anecdote, etc.

            @Aapje:
            Well, now you seems to have blithely moved on from making statements about “male feminists” full stop. So, I guess that’s progress, but it would be nice if you had some awareness of what you did.

            “The Ray Rice saga is a good example.”

            The Ray Rice saga is an extraordinarily bad example of whatever it is you think you are trying to prove. Go look at that tape again, and pay attention to what he did after he hit her. He had as much care for her well being as he would a sack of potatoes.

            Yes, violence committed by women in relationships is wrong. Her actions, insofar as they were violent, were wrong.

            Two wrongs don’t make a right, however, and you can’t look at Ray Rice’s actions in that video and determine that what he did was something minor that should be treated by the NFL like he was caught smoking pot. And the furor was mostly about the NFLs actions.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            Yeah, I was agreeing with you, I think I’m just having one of those days where I’m not being super-clear.

            To put what I was trying to say: men who support stuff that can generically be considered feminists outnumber men who call themselves feminists outnumber Male Feminists of the obnoxious/outright bad sort.

            (As an aside, we face what I think is a big and increasing problem of how one samples a group in the internet age. It’s possible to look at all the scholarly books on a topic and say “well x% of them say y”. But if we’re talking online … what do you include in the sample? Every tumblr blog?)

          • Aapje says:

            @HBC

            Your statements have little relationship to what I argued.

    • CatCube says:

      I honestly never thought about the protagonists in books and movies growing up, but I think I’m an outlier in usually preferring female characters in video games, especially in games with a 3rd person perspective. If I’m going to be staring at an ass for 4 hours a day, it may as well be a woman’s ass.

    • arbitrary_greay says:

      1. For me: yes, yes, yes, so much yes. It has strongly shaped my tastes, and my sense of identity.

      2. Cannot confidently say that the measurably positive impact would not have occurred through other means in the absence of representation. However, still, yes, I feel like representation has contributed to my becoming a better person.

      Personal accounts of fans about the impact representation has had on them aside, you can also find plenty of accounts of minority-demographic celebrities talking about the role models that proved them in their young age that pursuing their career in the first place was possible. (For example, Leslie Jones addressing Whoopi Goldberg)

      The same mechanism applies outside of traditional minority demographics. After all, was not the portrayal of specific technologies on Star Trek the driver for many scientists and engineers to choose their research areas? Not to mention Mae Jemison.
      And isn’t the seething contempt of The Big Bang Theory sitcom stemming from anger at misrepresentation of nerds and geeks?
      And isn’t one of the main motivations of writing rationalist fic to see protagonists who have values and mindsets that their authors feel most protagonists do not have, and therefore can feel less compelling as fiction for? Why is it that the Self-Insert is a mainstay of fanfiction, no matter how low literary value it is assigned, unless most everyone wants representation of themselves?

    • bind over mody says:

      Maybe this is like that cis-by-default situation, with two distinct groups of people, one really caring about racial representation in media, and one really not caring about it.

      It probably can be even generalized as mind over body vs body over mind or something

  12. Daniel says:

    I have a forecasting related question.

    After watching 1000 coin flips, I’m asked to predict if the next flipped coin will land heads. My model says that there is a 50% chance of landing on heads. I have a 99.99% confidence interval in my model’s accuracy. – so in total, my confidence in the coin landing heads roughly is 50%.

    Compare this to another scenario:
    I have a model for predicting outcomes in basketball games. However, my model is far from perfect. Let’s say I have a 75% confidence interval in this model’s accuracy.
    My model says in the next game, team A has a 33% chance of beating team B.

    Given that I only have a 75% confidence interval in believing that my model is accurate, what should my confidence interval be in team A beating team B?

    For example, if someone asks me how confident I am that team A will beat team B, do I say 33% because that’s what my model says, even though I know that my model is only 75% accurate?
    Or can I incorporate my uncertainty of my model into my confidence of my model’s forecasts?

    Thanks

    • Ivy says:

      can I incorporate my uncertainty of my model into my confidence of my model’s forecasts

      You have to make “my uncertainty of my model” more precise. You can’t just say you’re 75% confident in your model, you have to say what kind of models the other 25% consists of. In effect, you have to define a probability distribution over all possible models.

      In the coin-toss example, suppose there are only three possible models of coins: a fair coin, a somewhat biased coin (75% heads), and a completely biased coin (always heads).

      You start by assigning each of these three models a probability. If you now throw a coin and it comes out tails, you will reassign the always-heads model a probability of 0, and update towards the fair coin.

      You can then make a consensus estimate of the probability of heads by computing P(coin is fair) * P(heads given that coin is fair) + P(coin is biased) * P(heads given that coin is biased).

    • LPSP says:

      62.75% odds in B winning, 37.25% A.

      My logic: If your confidence in the model is 100%, you just go with the model. If your confidence is 0%, you put even 50/50 odds. Anything else and you proportionally adjust the difference to draw the results nearer 50/50.

      (yes, this is gibberish. I’m just letting you know what my instinct churns out.)

      • Rob K says:

        my gut says that the shift away from the model should be towards the Vegas implied odds (a public, well-vetted model), not towards 50%. But I can’t quickly extend that into a general principle.

    • tgb says:

      FYI, you’re not using the term “confidence interval” correctly. It would be more correct to say something like: I am 95% confident that the temperature tomorrow will be between 50 and 75 degrees. So my 95% confidence interval for tomorrow’s temperature is 50-70 degrees.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        There are two word: “confidence” and “interval.” Since Daniel is not, as you say, talking about intervals, he cannot be talking about confidence intervals. But neither you nor he are talking about frequentist confidence. You are both talking about bayesian credence.

  13. Sandy says:

    Query for the left-of-center types here: do you see a principled distinction between patriotism and nationalism, or how do you understand those two terms?

    This is something that’s been weighing on my mind ever since I read The Fascist Bogeyman on Medium. The author is a Marxist seeking to explain, not steelman, what he understands to be the fascist mindset in the context of the Trump candidacy.

    Flipping through a history book it’s hard to argue that the nation-state system doesn’t exist for the arbitrarily divided glory of western Europeans. The official line is that we’re supposed to ignore that part, or be sad. But some people don’t want to ignore it and they aren’t sad. Instead they wonder why we have the nice borders that their conquering “ancestors” drew but all these people on the wrong sides. If taking Mexico’s land for white people was illegitimate, then why haven’t we given it back? And if it was legitimate, then what’s wrong with a wall to protect our side from a reversal? The liberal patriots, they say, are lying to themselves; there is no nationalism that is not ethno-nationalism.

    I don’t think it’s only fascists who hold this view; many of my progressive Acela Corridor acquaintances are averse to American nationalism because of what they see as its associations with white identity movements. Ethnicity is frequently an important element in nationalist movements worldwide, but I don’t think it is vital or even necessary. Polish nationalism in the 20th century was one Slavic group rallying against another Slavic group. Many of the most influential godfathers of the Hindu nationalist movement in India were open fascists who, among other things, praised Hitler for his “race pride” — but their understanding of race was rooted in culture and religion more than just ethnicity, and so they spoke of the “Hindu race” and its need to eradicate pluralism and establish cultural supremacy.

    I think most nationalism is cultural rather than ethnic; ethnicity plays an important role in cultural nationalism but not always and not necessarily. Cass Sunstein recently wrote that anti-immigration attitudes in America are correlated with negative perceptions of Latinos and Muslims but not with negative perceptions of blacks and Asians. This is probably because the perception is that Asians and blacks blend into the American cultural tapestry more easily and naturally, while the perception of Latinos is that they don’t speak English and encourage a trend of not speaking English and the perception of Muslims is that they hate America and blow things up as a result. In other words, they are considered truly alien cultural elements whose presence and activity erodes the existing culture; I think this is why nationalist movements in Europe and Asia tend to uniformly have a problem with Muslims while few other groups are in their common crosshairs.

    I think many Clinton supporters would gladly call themselves patriots but never nationalists, while many Trump supporters would gladly call themselves both patriots and nationalists. Where my uncertainty arises is whether this reflects an actual ideological distinction between patriotism and nationalism, or just the difference in associations for the words “patriot” and “nationalist”. Right at the end of World War II, George Orwell, a committed socialist, wrote an essay called “Notes on Nationalism” where he sought to draw a distinction between patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism, Orwell wrote, “is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally”, while nationalism “is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality”. I have seen this understanding among many on the left, the idea that patriotism is a love for your country and its values while nationalism is something chauvinistic and predatory. But we see many contemporary nationalists who take an isolationist approach to their nationalism, not just in “America First” but also in Euroscepticism and criticism of neocons and Hillary’s hawkishness coming from Trump supporters. The core of their nationalism is the belief that their country’s political elite prioritizes the interests of foreigners above those of their own people. Their nationalism does not involve cultural annexation, but aims to avoid their culture becoming polluted by the entry of other cultures that they see as hostile and detrimental to their own. See Sailer’s “Invade the World, Invite the World” criticism of American foreign policy. There is no shortage of those on the left who argue that patriotism itself is chauvinistic, jingoistic and exclusionary: these arguments are made every four years when the Olympics roll around. And in practice, Orwell’s patriotism involved a lot of romantic sighing about Englishness and English culture. So if patriotism is a love for your country’s culture, does that not necessitate a defense of your country’s culture? And if that culture is continually changing, what is it you really love about your country?

    Gandhi once said you could not be an internationalist without being a nationalist first. “God having cast my lot in the midst of the people of India, I should be untrue to my Maker if I failed to serve them. If I do not know how to serve them I shall never know how to serve humanity. And I cannot possibly go wrong so long as I do not harm other nations in the act of serving my country.” I think of that when I hear someone criticize the “Washington bureaucracy” or the “Brussels elite” as unrepresentative of their interests, but I was raised with nationalist sympathies so I might be biased. However, I have increasingly felt that a significant part of the reason liberals and leftists will call themselves patriots but not nationalists does not necessarily have anything to do with a real difference between the two qualities, but in the perception across the political spectrum that being “patriotic” is a good thing while being “nationalistic” is a thing that should only appeal to right-wingers, a legacy of two world wars. I don’t mean to pathologize left-wingers in this way; I think of it as similar to how some on the right will argue that Hitler was really on the left — Jonah Goldberg over at National Review wrote a book making this allegation that found its way to the top of the NYT Best Sellers list. I personally think it is indisputable that Hitler was a right-winger; as a right-winger myself, I do not think Hitler’s political allegiances reflect on me, but there are many right-wingers who are conscious of efforts to associate right-wing political views with Hitler at every possible opportunity, and so I think those who play these taxonomy games alleging Hitler was a leftist are just doing so defensively rather than because they actually believe it.

    • blacktrance says:

      I’m not left-of-center, but I’m opposed to both nationalism and patriotism. My take on it:

      Cynically, patriotism is nationalism the speaker happens to like. Less cynically, whatever the actual distinction between the two, nationalists often try to pass off their nationalism as patriotism, except when they reach critical mass as they have in the past couple of years.
      I don’t know if there’s a clear line between the two, but here are some differences. Nationalism is more important to nationalists than patriotism is to patriots – it’s a larger (or louder) part of their identity and worldview. Patriotism is theoretically compatible with cosmopolitanism (though combining the two isn’t common in practice), while nationalism necessarily sets itself in opposition to it. Patriotism is more confident, and nationalism is more defensive. Nationalist policies (protectionism, immigration restrictions, sometimes aggressive wars, etc) are often justified by appeals to patriotism, but they’re not a necessary part of it. Nationalism is more concerned about separating “us” from “them”, while patriotism isn’t necessarily concerned with “them”.

    • Aapje says:

      I consider myself a nationalist and a social-democrat (but not a national socialist 🙂 ).

      In my opinion, you need a shared culture to make laws. A country tends to have this shared culture due to shared media, shared physical space, shared language, shared education, shared laws (there is a feedback loop), etc, etc. Only due to this shared culture can we come to an agreement on crucial issues without killing each other.

      Historically, nations actually prevented war (anti-nationalists tend to believe the opposite) by drawing a strict line between the people to whom our laws apply vs the people to whom ‘their’ laws apply. This was established more or less with the Peace of Westphalia where European nations recognized their sovereignty and subsequent developments.

      Shared laws tend to require that there is a willingness to sacrifice. No law will be fair to everyone, every tax system will burden some more than others, etc. This will make people upset, which is a force that tears people apart. You need a counter force that pushes people together and makes them willing to accept a certain level of unfairness. This is (fortunately) built into humans (as this does more good than harm). When we want to point to negative effects of this and/or think that people pick the wrong group to feel emotionally connected with, we call this tribalism. However, this same feeling of community allows us to work together closely within a shared culture.

      The way I see it, patriotism is merely this feeling of community on a national scale. It’s our built-in mechanism to be able to work together within a small tribe that we managed to employ to work together on a national scale (partially through indoctrination, which is necessary, IMO).

      If we abandon it, I don’t believe we will then settle on a sense of community on a global scale, but rather that we will then go back to small scale tribalism. In fact, I never see globalists logically think through and accept the consequences of their beliefs. In a border-less society, the logical result is that a huge number of people from poor countries move to rich countries and then greatly influence the election. Since poor countries tend to be oppressive to women, gays, etc; the logical outcome is that the new laws will be oppressive to women, gays, etc.

      However, the go to defense of open borders and/or multiculturalism is that the only requirement of immigrants should be that they merely must follow the law, which is an argument that pretends that laws are static and that these new immigrants will not vote. I see that as Utopian thinking where actual facts get ignored as they are inconvenient and people lose themselves in a dream about how the world (& humans) ‘ought’ to be.

      TL;DR version: I see patriotism as a necessary mechanism to make irrational humans compatible with nationalism and I see nationalism as the maximum scale at which an extensive legal system can work. I see globalists as ‘ought’ thinkers, rather than ‘is’ thinkers, which makes them dangerous as all other Utopians.

      PS. Right now we already have trouble maintaining our national states, as increased self-segregation results in parallel societies.

    • cassander says:

      > I personally think it is indisputable that Hitler was a right-winger;

      You have to look at context of this question. By the standard of Today, or 1940, hitler is clearly on the right. By the standard of 1920, though, he’s on the left. The time in between was a period of extremely rapid ideological shifting brought about by the rise of the USSR and the rapid collapse of monarchist Europe.

      The ideological position of the UK is illustrative to how quickly things shifted. The last PM who was in the lords left office in 1902 and the commons only got supremacy over the lords in 1911. Despite this, the UK was probably the third most left wing government in Europe, after the only two outright republics in France and Switzerland. Every other country in Europe was a constitutional monarchy with a king that played an active role in politics, usually to a greater degree than in the UK. By 1945, despite not much internal change, the UK is clearly on the right end of the spectrum, not because they changed so much, but because the rest of the world moved so quickly around them.

      • There is not just the question of where the dividing line is but of what characteristics define left/right. If you see it, as libertarians tend to, as state power vs individual freedom, then Hitler was on the left. If you see it as “what classes does this politician appeal to,” Hitler is a somewhat ambiguous case, but probably more left than right, targeting workers while the businessmen were mostly supporting a different party. If you think of “right” as “nationalist,” then Hitler and Stalin are both on the right–and libertarians are on the left.

        If you accept Scott’s argument that “right” sees the world as an unsafe place, “left” as a safe place, then again Hitler and Stalin or on the right. But I think Jill is too, although the particular threat that worries her is right wing domination of the U.S.

        Not easy to use the seating pattern of the French Assembly for labeling the whole range of political positions.

        • Gazeboist says:

          Not easy to use the seating pattern of the French Assembly for labeling the whole range of political positions.

          Or, indeed, any one dimensional scale.

        • LHN says:

          Not easy to use the seating pattern of the French Assembly for labeling the whole range of political positions.

          And even they didn’t find it all that compelling, quickly abandoning it in favor of the Mountain and the Plain/Marsh.

        • cassander says:

          For my money, left vs. right is properly about response to hierarchy. The leftist instinct is that of the leveler, the right sees hierarchy as either virtuous in of itself or at least necessary.

          But in this particular circumstance, I was thinking more in terms of popular perception. Anyone proposing the nationalist socialist plan in 1914 Germany would have had far more in common with the social democrats than the monarchist right.

          • Radm says:

            Largely true on things the nazis didn’t care about, like economics. Not true on things they did care about, like war.

            On economics, it’s probably mst accurate to say the Nazis were moderate centrists, neither great believers in the free market, nor admirers of Marx. But their economic policies don’t capture any of the distinctive things about them.

          • Your hierarchy definition puts actual communist states on the right, libertarians on the left.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Your hierarchy definition puts actual communist states on the right, libertarians on the left.

            Only if you assume the concept of “hierarchy” doesn’t have an economic dimension as well as a political one

          • Douglas Knight says:

            David, no, Cassander said reaction to hierarchy. Libertarians openly tolerate it and thus are right-wing. Soviets deny that they have it, and thus are left-wing.

          • Quite a lot of libertarians see the ideal as an agoric economy–everyone self employed trading with others. Libertarians familiar with the relevant economics realize that you are unlikely to go all the way there, for reasons that have been explored.

            But in terms of reaction to, it’s a distaste for hierarchy. Market is an alternative to hierarchy.

          • cassander says:

            @Radm

            >But their economic policies don’t capture any of the distinctive things about them.

            The nazis, no, but the broader fascist movement, definitely yes. And even with the nazis, there were definitely factions in the party were far more traditionally fascist. The party just happened to come under the sway of someone who was obsessed with race war above all else.

            @David friedman

            >Your hierarchy definition puts actual communist states on the right, libertarians on the left.

            The communists were officially dedicated to leveling. that they could not achieve the leveling they desired without building new hierarchies doesn’t mean that their motive wasn’t leftist, just that their method of leftism doesn’t work.

            >But in terms of reaction to, it’s a distaste for hierarchy. Market is an alternative to hierarchy.

            the left looks at markets and sees how they build explicit and highly visible hierarchies of wealth, the right sees the way creative destruction tears down hierarchies of birth/status/culture/ whatever. This makes both sides uncomfortable.

            Me being me, the thing that makes everyone else uncomfortable appeals to me. I am too much of a right winger and elitist to think that hierarchy is inherently bad, but I recognize that they are, by nature, easily corruptible. Markets build relatively meritocratic hierarchies then ruthlessly tear them down when they cease to be useful. They create a non-violent and positive sum, but still darwinian, competitive environment that makes hierarchies continuously prove their worth, giving you the best of both worlds.

          • What do you mean here by “hierarchy.”

            Consider two extremes. One is hierarchical authority, as in a military unit where superior officers give orders to inferior officers.

            One is a society of people who are legally equal but economically unequal. Imagine that they are all self employed farmers but some are more skillful or luckier and thus have much higher incomes than others.

            I would describe the former as hierarchical, whether or not the superior ranks are better paid, the latter as not hierarchical. I don’t think “hierarchy” and “inequality” are the same.

            Is that consistent with how you are using the terms?

          • cassander says:

            @david

            >Is that consistent with how you are using the terms?

            I think so, but I’m not sure the farmer example is particularly useful given the interdependence inherent in an industrial economy. Once that interdependence enters the picture then even a hypothetical economy composed entirely of sole proprietors starts to grant significant influence over the lives of others through wealth even if there is complete legal equality.

            Such hierarchies would be voluntary arrangements, which makes them categorically different from hierarchies backed by force, like the military, something the left often fails to appreciate, but they’re still hierarchies in that someone’s life is being substantially dictated by someone else’s decisions.

          • “but they’re still hierarchies in that someone’s life is being substantially dictated by someone else’s decisions.”

            If I’m a capitalist producing stuff, my life is substantially dictated by the decisions of the people I am selling it to. I don’t think of that as hierarchy.

          • Tekhno says:

            Any argument that places mortal enemies Hitler and Stalin on the same side is missing something.

            I think what is being understated in this discussion is that when you are talking about ideologies you are talking about ideas and not outcomes. Hitler and Stalin may have produced similar outcomes but only due to the laws of reality creating convergence in how a totalitarian state can operate. If we were to judge the rightness or leftness of ideologies based on outcomes, then we would never be able to judge something like communism at all, because the outcome of a classless, stateless, international society based around common ownership of the means of production has never been extant in this world (and probably never will be).

            What Douglas Knight says here:

            David, no, Cassander said reaction to hierarchy. Libertarians openly tolerate it and thus are right-wing. Soviets deny that they have it, and thus are left-wing.

            -Is really important, because if we were to judge things by outcomes in a reality in which escaping from hierarchy is impossible, then nobody could be left wing, since no left winger has damaged worldly hierarchies a jot.

            Stalin is definitively on the left, no questions about it, because while the outcomes produced were extremely hierarchical, the ideology he was following was supposed to produce his preferred end goal of a leveled non-hierarchical society. In the meantime, the proletariat have to use the same oppressive methods the bourgeois do, and in the Marxist conception, the state’s only purpose is for those means (this is why it withers away once you have destroyed class distinctions).

            This is easily demonstrated by looking to the ”left” of Marxists and seeing the anarcho-communists who are so ardent in their pursuit of a non-hierarchical society that they want to instantly achieve pure communism in a worldwide revolution.

            @David Friedman

            If I’m a capitalist producing stuff, my life is substantially dictated by the decisions of the people I am selling it to. I don’t think of that as hierarchy.

            It being substantially dictated by the market is what demonstrates classical liberalism to be to the left of feudalism or some modern kind of corporate state, but liberal support of private property at the same time demonstrates the philosophy to be to the right of socialism. This is a well established framework that is coherent with the seating arrangement of the French Assembly.

            Private property is inherently hierarchical since fairly exclusive rights of command are being given to those who hold the deeds to that property. It might not be as hierarchical as a system in which private property is also protected from market pressure in some militaristic aristocracy, but then that just shows there is more room to the right. Private property influenced by market pressure still involves more hierarchical title than other proposed alternatives.

            On the far end of the scale to the left, those who want to abolish private property, have as their end goal a society in which no one has the exclusive right of control over any means of production. The only hierarchies remaining in a hypothetical communist society would be those given by the principle of occupancy and use, and all decisions over production engaged in by multiple workers would be decided by direct democracy with instantly recallable delegates.

            But in terms of reaction to, it’s a distaste for hierarchy. Market is an alternative to hierarchy.

            An alternative to absolutely fixed aristocratic hierarchies, but it can’t really be to the left of people who want to abolish even the fluid hierarchies of the market.

            Whether or not such a thing is possible to achieve is not really relevant. Again, the classification of ideology concerns what people want to do and what their goals are, not whether those goals are realistic.

          • @Tekhno

            You are using “communism” to mean “a political theory that various people claimed to believe in.” I am using it to mean “the political system of the polities that were referred to as communist.” It seems to me more useful to base our categories on how systems actually worked, not on what their supporters claimed their ultimate objective was.

            So far as theory is concerned, fascism and socialism came largely out of the same intellectual sources, a point Hayek discusses at some length. Mussolini, generally credited with inventing fascism, was a prominent Italian socialist who split with the party over his support for Italian involvement in WWI. His theory, as best I can tell, was that getting socialism by the bottom up approach that socialists advocated wouldn’t work, so the same result should be produced by a top down approach.

          • Tekhno says:

            @David Friedman

            It seems to me more useful to base our categories on how systems actually worked, not on what their supporters claimed their ultimate objective was.

            It seems useful to base our criticisms of practicing these ideas on how they actually worked, but classifying ideology itself requires some degree of distance from circumstance. Classification of ideology is a meta-level exercise distinct from discussion of whether applying a particular policy is a good idea.

            If we instead based analysis of the political spectrum based on outcomes then very few ideologies would have a real existence to analyze at all. Communism on the object level simply doesn’t make an appearance. Nor does anarcho-capitalism.

            There aren’t that many distinct systems that have actually existed. Only in our minds do “left and “right” take on any more meaning than a correlated jumble of policies in a system drifting in a particular direction due to the interplay of parties today based on policies established by parties yesterday.

            And all totalitarian systems seem weirdly the same as if the ideology is secondary to the repression needed to prevent people resisting you. I mean all totalitarian systems, not all totalitarian ideologies. If you apply any ideology outside of a democratic system, the system is necessarily totalitarian, because it doesn’t allow any space for non-violent opposition. Even anarchism is necessarily totalitarian despite not being a totalitarian ideology.

            Perhaps this is what Mussolini meant when he said; “Every anarchist is a baffled dictator.”

            In the world of outcomes there are only two possibilities; give and take or winner takes all. The application of ideology in a democracy is constrained by give and take, and the nature of winner takes all warps all ideology into accepting the same practices.

            So far as theory is concerned,

            Now we’re safely back in the realm of ideology. Phew.

            fascism and socialism came largely out of the same intellectual sources, a point Hayek discusses at some length. Mussolini, generally credited with inventing fascism, was a prominent Italian socialist who split with the party over his support for Italian involvement in WWI. His theory, as best I can tell, was that getting socialism by the bottom up approach that socialists advocated wouldn’t work, so the same result should be produced by a top down approach.

            His theory is a complete and utter rejection of socialism (and liberalism), which he outlined, along with Giovanni Gentile, in the Doctrine of Fascism*. His split with socialism wasn’t some trivial doctrinal difference, but a completely clean break. (As for Hitler: he redefined socialism as an “ancient Aryan institution” compatible with private property)

            The very basis of class struggle as the engine of history is denied in Fascist theory*. Interestingly, Mussolini and Gentile put forwards a theory of history in which the state is the central engine of historical change. In Marxism, the state is only the repressive apparatus used by the contending classes, and has no life distinct from class character. Fascism says that the state is “awake”, running against the sense in Marxism in which only capital is “awake”.

            *An aside: It’s weird how no one ever seems to discuss Fascist theory in discussions about Fascism. The fact that Fascism has this unique theory of the state is almost a lost fact, and never really comes into liberal or Marxist analyses of Fascist theory from the outside. This is also one of the things which distinguishes Italian Fascism from National Socialism, where the race struggle is the engine of history.

            “It is not the nation which generates the State; that is an antiquated naturalistic concept which afforded a basis for XIXth century publicity in favor of national governments. Rather is it the State which creates the nation, conferring volition and therefore real life on a people made aware of their moral unity.”

            This is an exact inversion of National Socialism’s view of the state. I guess this never gets mentioned, because Mussolini got told by Hitler.

          • cassander says:

            @David

            Tekhno said it better than I probably would have. When evaluating ideology it’s more useful to look at the world they wanted to build and the reasons they desired that end state than the world they actually resulted in.

          • Thanks for the link to the Mussolini piece. I think I have to read it more carefully before continuing that part of the argument.

            You write:

            “If you apply any ideology outside of a democratic system, the system is necessarily totalitarian, because it doesn’t allow any space for non-violent opposition.”

            Most of history consists of societies that were neither democratic nor totalitarian. And I don’t see what “totalitarian” and “no space for non-violent opposition” have to do with each other.

            In most societies there are lots of ways of opposing existing rules, violent or non-violent. Theft. Spreading illegal facts or beliefs. Trying to persuade the rulers to change.

            Consider medieval Europe. It was neither democratic nor totalitarian. Ways of getting change included preaching sermons to persuade rulers to reform, raising armies to try to replace the ruler, peasants running away to another lord or to the city, …

            Both violent and non-violent ways.

            “Even anarchism is necessarily totalitarian despite not being a totalitarian ideology.”

            Why? You are arguing that a system where a majority get to impose rules on the minority is, by that fact, less totalitarian than one where they don’t?

          • Anonymous says:

            @David Friedman

            Most of history consists of societies that were neither democratic nor totalitarian. And I don’t see what “totalitarian” and “no space for non-violent opposition” have to do with each other.

            Perhaps “totalitarian” is the wrong word in that only modern states have had the technological capacity to obtain such extreme levels of micromanagement over such large territories.

            What I’m trying to get at is that there are societies which are democratic and operate on give and take rule, and then there are societies which operate on winner takes all, and various gradations in-between. These two poles with representative democracies on one end and totalitarian states on the other end define the spectrum of actually existing systems.

            The systems that were possible in the medieval ages were different due to technological and economic limitations. Totalitarian societies were not possible, but the super-set that totalitarian societies belong to, those in which the winner takes all, were the order of the day. You apply the same political processes with modern technology and you will get a totalitarian state instead of absolute but decentralized fiefdoms. The principle of absolute rule rather than give or take is still the one end of the spectrum against the other here. The main difference between systems is their toleration for opposition.

            In most societies there are lots of ways of opposing existing rules, violent or non-violent. Theft. Spreading illegal facts or beliefs. Trying to persuade the rulers to change.

            None of these things are baked into the system. You could argue that someone could have persuaded Stalin to stop therefore it wasn’t a winner takes all system, but what would actually happen would be that they’d get gulag’d, and if a medieval peasant started petitioning his lord to set up a representative democracy instead, I think bad things might happen to him, which is why there’s a big gap between the Roman Republic and the “enlightenment”, where winner takes all systems are dominating.

            In the sense that it’s a spectrum, all systems contain some level of give and take in that even a dictatorship will contain a high circle who debate – it is simply the wider public who are locked out of that process – but the point is that one end of the spectrum is tending one way from the other, and in a spectrum with two poles, where ever we place the center-line we get two varieties of system.

            Ways of getting change included preaching sermons to persuade rulers to reform, raising armies to try to replace the ruler, peasants running away to another lord or to the city, …

            You could just as easily be beheaded for preaching a sermon as be listened to. Unlike a representative democracy there is no consistent process for pleading the rulers or swapping them out which the general public can engage in without risking their lives.

            Peasants running away are simply leaving that winner takes all society just like those who left the Soviet Union by escaping across the border. The only difference is that the USSR had more modern methods of containment.

            Raising armies is just violence and a perpetuation of winner takes all, fitting with my theory. There’s nothing in the system itself that consistently and formally allows you to change it non-violently, so you have to destroy the system of whichever King you oppose and replace it with your own, and so on.

            Why? You are arguing that a system where a majority get to impose rules on the minority is, by that fact, less totalitarian than one where they don’t?

            No one has ever voted anarchism in. The only attempts at anything like anarchism (that don’t involve historical revisionism about ancient Iceland and Ireland) were the socialist anarchist attempts at societies in Ukraine, Spain, and other places. These cases being smashy smashy winner takes all demolitions of representative systems, thereby placing anarchist rule over others indefinitely (until they were in turn smashed by the Falange).

          • Tekhno says:

            ^That anon is me. I’ve been playing about with cookies, sorry!

          • “What I’m trying to get at is that there are societies which are democratic and operate on give and take rule, and then there are societies which operate on winner takes all, and various gradations in-between. These two poles with representative democracies on one end and totalitarian states on the other end define the spectrum of actually existing systems.”

            Why do you assume that the two poles are majority vote vs winner take all? A feudal system isn’t winner take all. There are severe limits on what the king can do, in part because most of the troops belong to the barons. There are limits on what barons can do.

            It’s as if you were arguing that the only alternative diets were living on peaches or starving to death. The space of alternatives isn’t one dimensional. Democracy is just one of a bunch of possible ways in which the preferences of different people in a polity get expressed and worked out. It’s more totalitarian than some alternatives, less than others.

            “The only attempts at anything like anarchism (that don’t involve historical revisionism about ancient Iceland and Ireland) were the socialist anarchist attempts at societies in Ukraine, Spain, and other places.”

            I don’t think my published views on Iceland are historical revisionism, although there are some mistakes about details which I’m correcting in work I have been doing more recently. Perhaps you could fill out your critique? If you don’t want to rely on my account or read the sagas and Gragas for yourself, I recommend Jessie Byock’s work.

            The system was not democratic and it was not winner take all, at least until the final collapse in the 13th century. It wasn’t anarchy but it shared some of the characteristics of an anarcho-capitalist system and so provides some evidence of how such a system would work.

            If you don’t like Iceland, there are lots of examples of functioning stateless societies in the historical record. Northern Somalia prior to 1960. The Nuer. Both of those studied carefully by modern anthropologists. The Commanche. The Bedouin. None of them winner take all, none of them democratic. For a much more general discussion of states and stateless societies, you might find The Art of Not being Governed by James Scott interesting.

          • Tekhno says:

            @David Friedman

            A feudal system isn’t winner take all. There are severe limits on what the king can do, in part because most of the troops belong to the barons. There are limits on what barons can do.

            There are limits in every system, but those limits aren’t consistent institutional limits as in representative democracies, but arbitrary tolerances for bullshit. Isn’t there a big difference between the two methods? Even modern totalitarian states have limits. The Grand Council of Fascism removed Mussolini when they realized that the allies would win forcing him to escape to the northern territories which became a new, short lived German puppet state.

            Democracy is just one of a bunch of possible ways in which the preferences of different people in a polity get expressed and worked out. It’s more totalitarian than some alternatives, less than others.

            Totalitarian probably was a bad word to use, because it’s an overspecific example of the general case. The distinction I’m making is that in democracy the preferences are worked out through give and take where there is a pre-agreed system (that depends on high trust and stability) where we engage in peaceful competition and summon armies of voters that stand down when the result is in, rather than using actual armies to violently secure a “permanent” and total victory where the winner doesn’t have to stand down after their term is up.

            I don’t think my published views on Iceland are historical revisionism, although there are some mistakes about details which I’m correcting in work I have been doing more recently. Perhaps you could fill out your critique? If you don’t want to rely on my account or read the sagas and Gragas for yourself, I recommend Jessie Byock’s work.

            I’ll admit I had the ancient Iceland and Ireland were anarcho-capitalist thing explained to me in internet discussions in the past, and never found it convincing because it sounded like they were over-analogizing a really decentralized system with lots of small combative tribes to peacefully competitive free market anarchy. If your book is the source of these claims then, yes, it’s bound to explain it better than random commenters and I need to give it a read. (Back when I was ancap I cobbled it together from internet discussions and videos and really need to give it a second chance).

            I retract the claim until I can investigate it further.

            The system was not democratic and it was not winner take all, at least until the final collapse in the 13th century. It wasn’t anarchy but it shared some of the characteristics of an anarcho-capitalist system and so provides some evidence of how such a system would work.

            You say “the system” but wasn’t each separate chiefdom its own system with its own authority? A really really small kingdom is still winner takes all if it’s undemocratic, and being really really small shouldn’t change that.

            If you don’t like Iceland, there are lots of examples of functioning stateless societies in the historical record. Northern Somalia prior to 1960. The Nuer. Both of those studied carefully by modern anthropologists. The Commanche. The Bedouin. None of them winner take all, none of them democratic.

            Well, some small tribes might well run according to democratic consensus, whereas others would have a big man chief. There are the two systems again.

            For a much more general discussion of states and stateless societies, you might find The Art of Not being Governed by James Scott interesting.

            I feel like you’ve recommended me books in other discussions we’ve had, and I made a mental note but forgot. I’m going to start a wordpad document of all the books people recommend me in SSC discussions. I’ve realize that while I read a lot, it’s all been articles and internet blogs (some of them book length!) for about three years now, and I really need to read more proper books again.

            Thanks for the rec.

          • hlynkacg says:

            There are limits in every system, but those limits aren’t consistent institutional limits as in representative democracies, but arbitrary tolerances for bullshit. Isn’t there a big difference between the two methods?

            Is there?

            The institutional limits are decided by what the voters will tolerate, and voters can be pretty damn arbitrary.

          • “but those limits aren’t consistent institutional limits as in representative democracies, but arbitrary tolerances for bullshit.”

            I’m not sure in what sense a democracy has consistent institutional limits as opposed to an equilibrium. Legally speaking, a president with a majority in the Senate could replace the entire Supreme Court after someone who approved of his views had illegally murdered the current Justices. If he also has a majority in the House, it’s hard to think of anything he could do, up to and including arresting all opposition congressmen and having them tried and executed, that would violate the institutional limits.

            There are reasons it is unlikely to happen, but they are not institutional, they are a function of the attitudes of the people in the system.

            The same is true of a feudal system. The rules are not “arbitrary tolerances for bullshit.” There was an elaborate set of legal rules defining the rights of everyone concerned. Those rules sometimes got broken when someone was in a position to do so–but so do the rules of a democracy. In both cases, rules provide Schelling points which make them to some, but not infinite, extent self enforcing.

            You write, about Iceland and some other systems:

            “a really decentralized system with lots of small combative tribes

            You say “the system” but wasn’t each separate chiefdom its own system with its own authority?

            Well, some small tribes might well run according to democratic consensus, whereas others would have a big man chief. There are the two systems again.”

            Peaches or nothing?

            Your picture of these societies is wildly wrong. There were no tribes in Iceland, and there was a law code that applied to the entire Island, along with a court system. What there wasn’t was an executive arm of government–court verdicts were privately enforced and most disputes were settled by out of court agreements.

            The Somali and the Nuer had things you could call tribes, but they were not mini-states.

            You can find fairly detailed descriptions of the Icelandic and Somali systems in draft chapters of the book I’m currently writing. I may or may not add a chapter on the Nuer, who are quite interesting. If you are sufficiently curious–they are some of the people who have been going through Hell in the southern Sudan for some decades now–I can point you at the original book on them by a British anthropologist which is webbed and I gather regarded as a classic.

            My old piece on Iceland was a journal article, not a book. The current chapter is better.

          • Tekhno says:

            @hlynkacg

            The institutional limits are decided by what the voters will tolerate, and voters can be pretty damn arbitrary.

            But voters also get a chance to change the system by voting according to relatively consistent rules to change who is in power, and have been primed to accept the results of that contest, so it’s easier for them to express their intolerance in a non-violent give and take fashion, rather than their only option to be violent revolution. Democracy is a pressure release valve.

          • Tekhno says:

            @David Friedman

            (replied in another comment because this was quite long and I only saw it after the other reply blah)

            I’m not sure in what sense a democracy has consistent institutional limits as opposed to an equilibrium.

            It’s consistent compared to a non-democracy. In democracy there is a timeframe on which voters get a chance to change things institutionally in a give and take contest, whereas in a non-democracy there is no voting and only violent change is significant for those locked out leading to winner takes all.

            Of course, democracy doesn’t magically work without people believing in it, so societies can transform from democratic to non-democratic and back again, as we observe in the two extremes of actually existing systems.

            Legally speaking, a president with a majority in the Senate could replace the entire Supreme Court after someone who approved of his views had illegally murdered the current Justices. If he also has a majority in the House, it’s hard to think of anything he could do, up to and including arresting all opposition congressmen and having them tried and executed, that would violate the institutional limits.

            The institutional limits would stop being relevant at that point, because people would stop obeying them (what’s the point in peaceful competition if the other party won’t play ball and keeps arresting our politicians?). You’d get a civil war at that point.

            There are reasons it is unlikely to happen, but they are not institutional, they are a function of the attitudes of the people in the system.

            Well, democracy only works because enough people actively or passively support those institutions, but that this is so does not mean that the institutions don’t affect how the society looks. If the people start to develop different attitudes running against democratic institutions, then they are likely to elect those who want to pull the ladder up after them, and that’s how you get the Nazis and Bolsheviks.

            The same is true of a feudal system. The rules are not “arbitrary tolerances for bullshit.”

            I didn’t say that the rules were arbitrary tolerances of bullshit, I said that the limits on what kings could do were defined by arbitrary tolerances for bullshit (sorry if that wasn’t clear – read the original section I was replying to), as in people’s tolerances to refrain from using violence to overthrow that damn stupid King, which are much more variant than structured elections.

            There was an elaborate set of legal rules defining the rights of everyone concerned.

            And the particular set of rules in play were enforced by a government which would not negotiate its position with the populace, whereas democracy provides a relatively consistent and peaceful mechanism for that.

            Your picture of these societies is wildly wrong. There were no tribes in Iceland, and there was a law code that applied to the entire Island, along with a court system. What there wasn’t was an executive arm of government–court verdicts were privately enforced and most disputes were settled by out of court agreements.

            Who brought this law code into place? You say it was mostly privately enforced but when you say private enforcement do you mean citizens banding together to punish a criminal, and what happened when that private enforcement failed? Who was the third party who stepped in to cut the knot when various private enforcers disagreed on interpretations? That would be key here.

            When you say that there were no tribes do you mean that the island was all one tribe instead? I think there’s a danger we might be talking past each other because I have a different definition of tribe, and am using the term more loosely/generically.

            I can point you at the original book on them by a British anthropologist which is webbed and I gather regarded as a classic.

            Yes, I’d be grateful for that.

          • Ariel Ben-Yehuda says:

            I am not sure “democracy” and “winner takes all” cover everything. You can also have things like democracy by a minority (e.g. Apartheid), and also party rule (e.g. post-Stalin Soviet Russia, modern China) with no single strongmen ruling.

          • Tekhno says:

            Those are just positions on the spectrum between the two poles.

          • “The institutional limits would stop being relevant at that point, because people would stop obeying them (what’s the point in peaceful competition if the other party won’t play ball and keeps arresting our politicians?). You’d get a civil war at that point.”

            That was my point. That’s also what happened when a feudal king tried to push beyond the limits of that society.

            Democracy is different from alternative systems, and they are different from each other. But it’s not clear that absolute monarchy is closer to feudalism than it is to democracy. The absolute monarch claims the sort of power that a democratic government claims and a feudal monarch does not claim.

            And a democratic state is more like absolute monarchy than it is like a stateless society. While I’m recommending books, Seeing Like a State (also by James Scott) is a fascinating account of how states try to restructure societies in order to make them easier to rule, to make the territory more like a map simple enough to use. As best I can tell, the distinction between democratic and non-democratic states is irrelevant to his description.

            The source on the Nuer is:

            E. E. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer: a Description Of The Modes Of Livelihood And Political Institutions Of a Nilotic People. Conveniently webbed as a pdf.

            Part of what interested me was the similarity to the Somali system–a structure of nested coalitions. But there is lots of other interesting stuff. And it turns out that I.M. Lewis, my main source on the Somali, was a student of Evans-Pritchard.

            Since I have written and webbed a fairly detailed description of the Icelandic system, I’m not going to respond in detail, beyond suggesting that inventing a political system by guessing what it must have been like doesn’t work very well. See the chapter in the webbed draft of my current book project.

      • dndnrsn says:

        National socialism really screws up left-right models, though.

        Aggressive, racist militaristic nationalism … plus a lot of stuff that looks like postwar social democracy … paid for through looting and enslavement…

        There is a reason that some modern crypto-fascists (or, not so crypto) present themselves as representing the transcending of left and right.

        • Gazeboist says:

          Didn’t original-flavor fascists also do that to some extent? Hitler disliked Hindenburg and Stalin, as far as I can tell.

          • cassander says:

            Fascists did not just do that to some extent they explicitly claimed to be a third way between capitalist democracy and socialism. The idea was that Capitalist democracy led to the oppression of labor by capital, socialism the oppression of capital by labor, and that fascism would chart a bold new path by having the state stand between these two forces as the champion of the people and guardian of public good. didn’t work out very well.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Didn’t original-flavor fascists also do that to some extent?

            Mussolini certainly did.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Yeah, they did, I kind of muddled that one up. Isn’t “Third Way” a post-WWII term though?

          • Anonymous says:

            Third Way is Bill Clinton/Tony Blair type triangulating centrist stuff. Third Position is Benito Mussolini/Adolf Hitler triangulating nationalist stuff.

            It’s worth nothing that the Fascists claimed to be a third position between liberal (free market) capitalism and socialism/communism, while also adopting the positioning of “right wing” in a conventional sense, so “third position” should be interpreted as being between two economic systems and not a strict claim of being between left and right (though some Fascists did also make this claim haphazardly).

            “We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the “right”, a Fascist century.”

        • Jaskologist says:

          The original fascists also liked to present themselves as transcending left and right.

          But so do most modern-day moderates, and anybody who claims to be interested in “what works” rather than ideology.

    • Dahlen says:

      Funny thing, I recently saw myself becoming more patriotic in response to seeing other countries, Western countries which us Western-adjacents often tend to worship, become more nationalistic and somewhat unstable, while my otherwise shoddy country began to get its shit together, accelerate development and growth, stay well and far away from the radical right, and elect a milquetoast liberal centre-right president who has enough poise and foreign language skills to not embarrass us in front of foreign leaders for a change. (Good job, man. I’m glad to have helped get you up there. Trump could learn a thing or several from you.) So, just with this piece of anecdata, I’d reckon patriotism and nationalism are different things.

      As I understand it, patriotism refers to a non-rational, tribally-based positive bias towards your own country (the irrationality of it is not the central feature, perhaps, but I mentioned it to distinguish patriotism from mere self-interest in wanting your country to do well just because you live in it and the well-being of the nation impacts you specifically). What distinguishes it from nationalism is the lack of the negative bias in the other direction; mere patriots would feel generally neutral towards foreign elements, but identify with their country and have a desire to see it do well on the international stage.

      Or, rather, I would say that nationalism is patriotism that feels under attack from foreign elements. I mean, I don’t think that nationalists energetically loathe foreign stuff that stays abroad from them. One thing I’ve long since been wondering is how nationalists feel towards foreign nationalists abroad. The naive, 4th grade view is that a Greek who thinks Greece is Objectively The Best can only be baffled at and outraged by a Turk who fancies that Turkey is Objectively The Best — there can only be one, right? (Deliberately picked non-controversial non-superpower examples here, hopefully. Apologies to the nations mentioned, alluded to, or excluded altogether.) Something that, I think, is more capable of passing an Ideological Turing Test is the notion of a Westphalian pan-nationalism wherein nationalists from other countries endorse each other on a “you do your thing, we do ours (also, fuck cosmopolitans everywhere)” basis.

      But then it gets complicated again.

      It’s good to keep in mind that nationalism was originally a reaction against imperialism, against having your ethnic group ruled by a foreign empire. Remember that medieval and early modern Europe “grew up” aspiring to re-become Rome; they didn’t start out exactly nationalist. 1848, IIRC, had nationalist revolutions all across Europe.

      (As a general rule, it’s always good to keep in mind political, or otherwise, dynamics from pre-modern times. When you don’t have other peoples as a control group you can use the same peoples in different times for that role.)

      So. Imperialism was is engaged in by the sort of nations who definitely have strong positive feelings about themselves as nations. Like nationalists, imperialists also feel negatively about other cultures. Unlike nationalists, the negative feelings are more like haughty contempt than smouldering resentment. Unlike nationalists, the attitude towards foreigners is set on “approach” (with armies, settlers, and missionaries) rather than “avoid”.

      I’m very curious what the far-right consensus is about empire-building. I once asked a bunch of fascists about that. Opinions were mixed.

      So if patriotism is a love for your country’s culture, does that not necessitate a defense of your country’s culture? And if that culture is continually changing, what is it you really love about your country?

      As for this, I take the conservatively progressive view that culture is continually changing anyway. The territory of modern-day Iraq looked one way in 2700 BC, another way in 900 AD, and yet another way in 2005 AD. I doubt that anyone who longs for the Islamic Golden Age would think it doubleplusgood to long for old Sumer because it’s even older. Even if you do it like Yarvin and constantly use the past as a normative reference, the takeaway should be that even though the past might, too, have viewed its past as a normative reference, things changed anyway, and while at it, it managed to do well enough for itself to beget at least a few present-day reactionaries. A break with the past can often be for the better, and that great cultures often succeeded each other, even though not immediately. The future may yet bring a better culture. Think big!

      In my case, I’d be mighty pissed off if our borders were to change within my lifetime, and neutral to (okay, let’s admit it) mildly negative if its ethnic makeup/majority race were to change, but good god I can’t wait for traditional food to disappear and for French cuisine to occupy us permanently.

      (Trying this again, the registration glitch ate my reply. Good thing I learned to keep temporary offline backups of every effortpost I write.)

      • Aapje says:

        Or, rather, I would say that nationalism is patriotism that feels under attack from foreign elements. I mean, I don’t think that nationalists energetically loathe foreign stuff that stays abroad from them. One thing I’ve long since been wondering is how nationalists feel towards foreign nationalists abroad.

        I merely see nationalism as the idea that the nation is the main level of political organisation. I don’t see how this has to be negative to other nations, aside from not wanting other cultures to determine one’s future or to be fully responsible for other nations (white men’s burden).

        This doesn’t even mean that one necessarily has to value one culture above the other, but merely that one has a personal preference that for them, their own culture is preferable.

        It also doesn’t mean that you have to refuse to work together or seek to help people in other nations, but interactions have to be based on respect of autonomy, not inherent obligation.

        Something that, I think, is more capable of passing an Ideological Turing Test is the notion of a Westphalian pan-nationalism wherein nationalists from other countries endorse each other on a “you do your thing, we do ours (also, fuck cosmopolitans everywhere)” basis.

        Yes, that is more or less my position.

        I believe that people primarily are responsible to work within their nation to achieve their goals, not to simply leave (although you can if the other country wants you, but they have no automatic obligation to take you, in general).

        My forefathers fought many wars and endured many invasions before we got where we got. We wouldn’t have gotten where we are if people had refused to make these sacrifices and had all simply emigrated (which has major problems of its own).

        For example, if middle and upper class Syrians leave and let Syria be fought over by ISIS and the like, the nation will end up a shit hole, threatening the rest of the world. Thus the Syrian people are primarily responsible for building up their own state. If they cannot defect en masse, we threat them as adults who have responsibility.

        So I don’t support letting in masses of refugees, although I do support doing it for small minorities that cannot fight back effectively (like Salman Rushdie, oppressed atheists, gays, etc).

        I’m also wondering if our different perspectives aren’t (partially) informed by our nations history. My country has always been a trade nation, yet also was quite nationalist. Perhaps this makes it easier for me to see how one can be both nationalist and open to trade, interaction with other cultures based on respect (for example, my nation was the only one that was allowed to trade with Japan for some time, despite the cultures being almost polar opposites, because there was respect for each others boundaries), etc.

        • Dahlen says:

          Well, OP asked for our own understanding of the words, so I described what phenomenon, when witnessed, I would dub “nationalist”. Understandably, self-identification produces a different understanding/usage of the word than that of someone who uses it to describe positions different from his, and less understood.

    • brad says:

      Whether you phrase it as patriotism or nationalism, make about ethnicity or culture, any way you cut it, US citizens vs not US citizens just doesn’t seem like a great way to carve up the world. At least not on a philosophical, ethical, or even emotional level — there’s plenty of practical reasons to draw a line there.

      While there are a few cultural characteristics that are if not unique at least rare outside the US, they don’t rank as particularly salient to me. I’d say the one that I’m most proud of is US style free speech which is basically non-existent elsewhere. Support for it isn’t universal in the US, especially when push comes to shove, but it is fairly broad. But that and a few such other examples just aren’t enough of a pillar to build a patriotism out of for me. The cultural and other differences across the country seem larger and more salient than many of the differences between my subculture in the US and the corresponding ones in at least some other countries — particularly those in the anglosphere.

      I like living here, I’m certainly not ashamed to be an American, but patriotism, much less nationalism, just seems kind of silly at best. Like taking being a fan of some sports team way too seriously.

      I could see how it might be very different for someone from a much smaller, much more homogeneous culture, Iceland for whatever reason being the exemplar that comes to mind.

    • birdboy2000 says:

      I’m probably a bit too far on the left to feel a need to justify voting for politicians who invoke patriotism, but from my perspective they’re one in the same. Patriotism is at best a mild or euphemistic form of the same sentiment.

      The purpose of nationalism or patriotism is to value people on one side of an invisible line – even if they’re your exploiters or oppressors – over people on the other side of said line. I reject this. Marx didn’t say “Workers of one country, unite!”

  14. keranih says:

    Music related question:

    What is the most interesting/appealing/enriching ‘hidden track’ you know of?

    I honestly don’t listen to a lot of whole albums, but the intro track of Concrete Blonde’s Jonestown off the Mexican Moon collection-

    – it’s a “sampling” of Jim Jones’ rants –

    – shifts the whole way I see the album. For me, it makes the anti-religion sediment seem not “anti-all-religion” but “anti-[this]-religion”, where for ‘this’ you could substitute ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ or what have you.

    I’m still undecided if this is a legit reaction or if I’m just finding ways to justify really liking a band with an anti-religion bent.

    (For what it’s worth – check out both Mexican Moon and Bloodletting. Both very strong albums.)

    • Stricken from the record says:

      Data: I’m thinking of all the hidden tracks on all the albums I own…

      – Nirvana: “Endless Nameless” (Nevermind)
      – Nirvana: “Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip” (In Utero)
      – Meat Puppets: “Lake of Fire” (Too High to Die)
      – Days of the New: “The Boner Track” (Days of the New/Yellow album)
      – Stone Temple Pilots: “My Second Album” (Purple)

      There might be some others I’m not remembering. So, missing data possible.

      Analysis: The Nirvana ones are both just stupid studio barfs. (When I was 13 I thought they were just oh so cool, but now it’s pretty clear they were wastes of time…come to think of it, wastes of expensive studio time! Puzzling.) The Meat Puppets one is pretty cool, but that song also appears on Meat Puppets II and while I like the rerecording I’d rather they just added it as its own track so I didn’t have to listen to a bunch of silence after “Comin’ Down” just to get to it. The Days of the New one is okay—it’s just some nice classical-sounding guitar playing over storm noises—but isn’t exactly what makes me excited to listen to that album. The Stone Temple Pilots hidden track is the exception that proves the rule, since that song is fantastic and I absolutely love it.

      Meta-analysis: Exempting cases where they’re used as a practical way to get around legal issues or whatever, what the hell is up with hidden tracks? Do you want me to listen to the song or not? What, you want me to discover it by accident? Why? Do you think it makes you mysterious? That it creates some kind of special relationship between us, like you shared a personal secret with me? Come on. And if that was true, then why are hidden tracks so often just throw-away material? It’s just annoying. “Come here, I want to whisper a secret in your ear…fart joke!” Lame.

  15. I just listened to a BBC piece about the revelation of sexual abuse by priests in Ireland.

    The movie Spotlight (about investigative journalists who broke the story about priests in the US) was partly a story about what was sort of known, but had never been said forcifully enough for people to remember it.

    What’s catching my attention is that Spotlight is completely about an investigation in Boston. They’d apparently never heard of what was public in Ireland (is the movie accurate about that?), even though that story was ongoing for a bit over a decade at that point.

    The Spotlight team apparently broke the story enough that it went worldwide, but at this point I’m thinking about how hard it is to get people to notice things.

  16. The Most Conservative says:

    So we’ve had a couple long Hillary vs Trump threads. But here’s my deal. Everyone is saying this is the most important American election ever. And I buy that. But I still don’t know who to support, after thinking about this for many, many hours.

    What process am I supposed to use to figure this out? An in-person or Facebook discussion won’t do it because educated Trump supporters won’t reveal themselves. The live debates between the candidates are just posturing. Subreddits are echo chambers. Twitter is a tire fire as always. SSC seems to basically be the world’s only place for supporters of the two candidates to argue intelligently with one another (!!)

    There was some consternation in the links thread that pro-Trump commenters dominated the discussion under Scott’s posts. That leaves me frustrated with liberal readers who consider Trump an existential threat. You guys think Trump represents TEOTWAWKI and you can’t take the time to engage on the one part of the internet where there exists a good Trump vs Hillary discussion? Some of the pro-Trump comments present in those threads were pretty good, and they were left un-responded to. What am I supposed to think?

    I’m about 65% Hillary, 35% Trump right now. I’m in a safe state, so it doesn’t matter who I vote for. But I also have a lot of free time… time I could conceivably use to try & influence the election. The problem is at this point, my certainty that Hillary is the right candidate is not high enough for me to feel like trying to influence things is a good idea.

    IF we believe the election is super important, THEN we should be discussing it ad nauseum, and all the liberal commenters should speak up if they want to save the world. (Bring your liberal friends if you’re tired of getting outnumbered.) In fact, I’ve been thinking it might be cool to organize some kind of formal Trump vs Hillary debate. (Online, of course–like I said, no educated Trump supporter will unmask themselves in public.) Maybe adding some structure could solve the “E. Harding problem”. Or maybe we could get actual experts to participate!

    Think about it… this is the most important American election in decades, and we could easily create the best quality resource available for figuring it out! That’s how low the bar has gotten, guys.

    Participating in a debate like this and offering a well-reasoned case for your candidate could also be quite impactful in terms of persuading people. The man behind America’s most successful right-wing tabloid says: “Facts get shares, opinions get shrugs.” (I value his take above that of Scott Adams because he’s been doing this for longer, and it’s his full-time job.)

    • Oort says:

      Is debate and argument really the best method of arriving at truth, or of convincing people? I think these are, generally, two different goals.

      Discussion is, maybe, best for finding truth, but I feel that works best when it’s done dispassionately, without people quietly pushing for one side. Otherwise, you move from reasoned argument into “posturing” and “echo chambers.”

      “Competitive” argument is (probably?) better for getting votes, but I’m not totally sure. Intuitively, I expect strategic writing (as in “SSC ENDORSES CLINTON, JOHNSON, OR STEIN”) works even better, and in-person conversations better than that.

      If you want a more objective method for choosing between candidates, I suppose you could make a list of your ideal candidate’s qualities and policies (preferably before you know what your actual options are), then check to see who best matches your list. Or something like that.

      I suspect debate is also better for changing minds about facts/predictions, than values. I think a few Trump and Clinton supported have roughly the same idea of what would happen if either were elected; they just have different preferences.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Debates are underrated. There have been many times when someone challenged my beliefs and I actually changed my mind because they pointed out my reasons were lacking. The thing is there no other setting where someone is more willing to call you out on things that aren’t true. If you’re dispassionately having a discussion, you may care more about being nice to them than actually getting at the truth. If you’re simply reading articles by different people, then they might be talking past each other rather than engaging with the others points.

        The reason debates seem so futile is because people don’t usually admit their defeat. Usually they need to ruminate on what you said, look up information that can rebut what you said and after much deliberation, they move their viewpoint only slightly closer to yours. And that’s ok, because we don’t need to convince someone all at once. If you and your opponent are more in agreement with each other, that can be considered a win.

        Another reason debates get a bad rap is because of who is debating. Presidential candidates use debates to get zingers and obfuscate. But that’s only because that’s where the incentives lead them. In an internet debate, I may try to get some precious internet points. But I’m much more inclined to argue because I think I have a better argument. If someone knocks down my simplistic argument, I may not even change my beliefs that much. I could simply use a better argument. But that is also progress.

        Ideally, online debates would take the best advantages of the kind of debates that debate tournaments have while utilizing it’s own advantages. Obviously it won’t be perfect but there are no simple cheats to knowing the truth.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      @TheMostConservative:

      “Everyone” isn’t saying it’s the most important election of “your lifetime”. People who have measured Trump and found his attributes and qualifications fail to clear the minimum bar for the presidency are saying this.

      Well, that and the hyper-partisans on both sides who roughly always say this.

      The truth is that elections are always consequential and therefore important. They have wide and long-ranging effects. Presidential elections in the U.S. are probably the single most consistently consequential vote one could cast if elegible, depending on how you want to do the math.

      On one side, people you have people saying “The presidency can’t do much anyway… take a flyer on Trump”.

      On the other side, everyone who thinks the day-to-day business of being the chief-executive is consequential. Which is why you saw the intellectual bulwarks of conservatism in full-throated opposition to Trump before he became the nominee.

      The fact that you want to consider Trump is a signal that you are willing to sacrifice the shared values of conservatives and liberals in order to win this round of the game.

      • cassander says:

        >The fact that you want to consider Trump is a signal that you are willing to sacrifice the shared values of conservatives and liberals in order to win this round of the game.

        Or you think that electing hillary clinton would also sacrifice shared values and so you’re willing to at least stomach trump, if not actually vote for him, which would be my position.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @cassander:

          Or you think that electing hillary clinton would also sacrifice shared values

          You might think this, but it lacks the evidence that exists in the case against Trump.

          Mainstream Democratic/liberal intellectual outlets are not endorsing Trump, nor non-endorsing Clinton.

          Again, I would urge you to examine your biases and the evidence.

          • cassander says:

            >You might think this, but it lacks the evidence that exists in the case against Trump.

            There is no lack of evidence against Hillary Clinton.

            >Mainstream Democratic/liberal intellectual outlets are not endorsing Trump, nor non-endorsing Clinton.

            That trump offends some people’s tribal sensibilities is not proof that he is a worse option than Hillary, particularly when it’s precisely those sensibilities, and the tendencies they encourage, that are part of the reason why Hillary is so terrible.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:
            Trump offends Republican and conservative sensibilities, the mainstream, middle-of-the-road ones. They are the ones who are endorsing Hillary and serving to repudiate whatever points you think are in your favor here.

            You aren’t even trying to respond to what I have actually written, my actual argument.

          • cassander says:

            >Trump offends Republican and conservative sensibilities, the mainstream, middle-of-the-road ones. They are the ones who are endorsing Hillary and serving to repudiate whatever points you think are in your favor here.

            He offends upper middle class sensibilities more than republican ones. It just so happens that there are a lot of republicans who are upper middle class.

            >You aren’t even trying to respond to what I have actually written, my actual argument.

            You haven’t addressed my argument. I fully admit that trump is terrible. As a bonafide, born and raised member of the upper middle class, he offends my sensibilities, and I do not share the few political opinions that he has consistently voiced. But hillary offends different sensibilities, and I do not share her politics either. The president is not a dictator, though, there are many other actors in the system, congress, courts, media, lobbyists, other countries, and more. I can’t put it better than William O. B’Livion put it the other day:

            Trump is a mildly corrupt[1] douchenozzle, but he is a douchenozzle that the press (and half the republican establishment) hates. He has only the basic constitutional qualifications to be president. I do NOT want him to win the election.

            Clinton OTOH is massively corrupt, criminal and incompetent. However she is of the same tribe as most of the major newspaper, TV and internet reporters, and is much beloved by most of them, and most of her party can at least tolerate her presence. She is unfit to be president. I want her to LOSE the election.

            Whatever agenda, policy or law Trump wants will be fought over, examined, assumed to be a bad thing.

            Whatever agenda, policy, or law Clinton wants will be assumed to be the desires of all right thinking people, will only be opposed by “deplorables” , bigots and Republicans who clearly know better but are pandering to their base.

            Both hillary and trump are terrible, but the establishment will combat trump’s worst instincts, they will support hillary’s.

    • onyomi says:

      Though I don’t disagree with the contention that this particular election seems very significant, I would also add that we are told every four years how unbelievably crucial and important this particular election this. So however important this election seems, one should probably discount it somewhat.

      • BBA says:

        I recall 2000 being the least important election ever. You had two indistinguishable centrists, Gush and Bore, without a dime’s worth of difference between them.

        Of course I was too young to vote at the time, so my view may be a little distorted.

        • onyomi says:

          I think 2000 was a kind of watershed after which every election became “the most important election ever,” especially since the coalitions have seemed so evenly divided ever since the infamous Bush v. Gore “hanging chad” deal. Of course, 9/11 changed a lot, too.

    • Radm says:

      Scott obviously already listed a lot of good reasons for voting non-Trump. Another could be as a verdict on the candidates communication styles.

      Successful tactics always get copied, so next election cycle, would you rather a Democrat Trump clone or a Republican Hilary?

      • Jack Lecter says:

        An interesting idea- but I’m not sure I see it much in practice.
        Trump doesn’t strike me as very much like Obama.
        Obama’s not much like Bush.
        Bush isn’t much like Clinton.
        I was too young to remember, but what I know of Clinton marks him as different from Bush sr.
        Bush sr. is obviously similar to Bush jr, but the reasons for that take a lot more than ‘copied communication’ styles to explain, and none of the others seems too complicated to each other (I guess you could halfway argue for Clinton being like Trump, but I think that’s a contrast effect more than anything else.)
        This suggests if we *do* get another version of Trump or Hillary, it’ll be in a couple of decades at least, and by then hopefully enough will have changed that it’ll be less of a disaster (I mean that for *both* of them.)
        Of course, it also means we should keep an eye on the Trump and Clinton kids, just in case…

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      @ The Most Conservative
      IF we believe the election is super important, THEN we should be discussing it ad nauseum, and all the liberal commenters should speak up if they want to save the world.

      Okay, here goes.

      Hillary is accused of being a chameleon, with no whatchamacallit of her own, going whichever way the wind blows. She’s also accused of being a ‘war-monger’, liking war. Uh-huh….

      For evidence, the last time Billary held the White House, we had eight years of peace, then one short, successful intervention. Since then, she has not been at the top of anything. Senator from New York — with 167 other senators authorized Powell and Bush to supposedly bluff Iraq. Secretary of State — is not the Commander in Chief of anything. Sec of State was just Obama’s secretary.

      • Sandy says:

        Secretary of State — is not the Commander in Chief of anything. Sec of State was just Obama’s secretary.

        According to The Atlantic, Libya was almost entirely Hillary’s idea, because Obama and Biden wanted to stay out of it.

        But what sealed Obama’s fatalistic view was the failure of his administration’s intervention in Libya, in 2011. That intervention was meant to prevent the country’s then-dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, from slaughtering the people of Benghazi, as he was threatening to do. Obama did not want to join the fight; he was counseled by Joe Biden and his first-term secretary of defense Robert Gates, among others, to steer clear. But a strong faction within the national-security team—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, who was then the ambassador to the United Nations, along with Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Antony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national-security adviser—lobbied hard to protect Benghazi, and prevailed. (Biden, who is acerbic about Clinton’s foreign-policy judgment, has said privately, “Hillary just wants to be Golda Meir.”) American bombs fell, the people of Benghazi were spared from what may or may not have been a massacre, and Qaddafi was captured and executed.

        But Obama says today of the intervention, “It didn’t work.” The U.S., he believes, planned the Libya operation carefully—and yet the country is still a disaster.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ Sandy

          Thanks for a respectable source. Hillary wanted a quick specific no-fly zone to protect the people that Quadafy was immediately threatening, and catch the moment that could have given the rebels victory. By the time Obama finally moved, it was too late for the best outcome.

          • cassander says:

            A no fly zone would not have resulted in rebel victory at any point, the libyan air force was not a formidable force. And even if it were, any rebel victory would have had precisely the same problems that we have now, that the rebels were not a unified group but a collection of anti-gaddafi forces that would have immediately fallen to fighting with each other once they achieved victory. And even if that wasn’t true, it’s still on Hillary for not realizing that the time in which her desired goal could be achieved had passed and she needed to re-assess.

          • John Schilling says:

            By the time Obama finally moved, it was too late for the best outcome.

            That is, at best, an argument for Hillary Clinton being a well-meaning incompetent. As cassander notes, an actual no-fly zone would have had no significant effect. Meanwhile, the French government was preparing to use the excuse of a “no-fly zone” to implement a de facto “NATO close air support for Libyan rebels everywhere” zone, the failure of which would likely result in blowback against NATO as a whole rather than just France.

            Is there any more important part of SecState’s job than giving POTUS a correct and timely warning when one of our “allies” is planning to suck us in to fighting an unwinnable war in support of their agenda?

            And do we specifically care whether Hillary Clinton sees the United States dragged into bloody unwinnable wars (increasingly likely to be nuclear) because she is a Secret Neocon Interventionist rather than an Incompetent Carpetbagging Buffoon?

          • Ildanach says:

            As a reply to John Schilling:

            Notice how your own narrative has changed from Libya being evidence of Hillary being a war-hawk, to being well meaning but incompetent? Don’t you feel that’s a bit of a motte-and-bailey argument? If you were honestly voting on the basis of foreign policy competence, would you really choose Trump?

          • John Schilling says:

            Notice how your own narrative has changed from Libya being evidence of Hillary being a war-hawk,

            When was that ever my narrative? I think you have me confused with someone else. I have always considered, and I believe fairly consistently argued, that the failures of Libya reflect Hillary’s incompetence and the French government’s hawkishness.

      • John Schilling says:

        For evidence, the last time Billary held the White House […] Since then, she has not been at the top of anything.

        Since then, she has not been at the top of anything? Is your understanding of the Washington power structure such that the First Lady wields supreme executive power but the Secretary of State is an impotent nobody?

        …OK, now I want to read the Secret History novel where Sally Hemmings secretly rules the republic with an iron fist.

        • Fahundo says:

          …OK, now I want to read the Secret History novel where Sally Hemmings secretly rules the republic with an iron fist.

          Well, there is the story of Edith Wilson…

        • Lumifer says:

          the First Lady wields supreme executive power

          Well, Hillary wanted some of that and Bill obliged by putting her in charge of the healthcare reform…

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ John Schilling
          Since then, she has not been at the top of anything? Is your understanding of the Washington power structure such that the First Lady wields supreme executive power but the Secretary of State is an impotent nobody?

          Heh. I could say she wielded more power over Bill than over Obama.

          But that would be a cheap shot, on the premise that a First Lady’s place was in the kitchen baking cookies.

          ‘Billary’ have been a team, not a contest, since they moved into the Governor’s Mansion in Arkansas, if not earlier.

    • My immediate reaction is that this Presidential election is the least important in my lifetime. I am 60 years old. I think that is because either winner has so little goodwill, they won’t get anything done in Washington. For the most part I think that is a good thing. But it doesn’t matter that much who wins, because it will be the same result with either.

      • Oh I have one more thought to reinforce the lack of importance of this election. It seems a lot more likely than with most elections that the winner won’t be re-elected in four years. So we are only electing someone for four years, not eight.

      • Radm says:

        Seems kind of unlikely that the same Republicans that nominated Trump, despite doubting he was a winner, would block everything a victorious Trump did as if had a D by his name. Or vice versa; it’s not like Trump even cares about politics enough to make a veto on some point of principle.

        Is there some evidence-based argument to the contrary?

        • As best I could tell, the Republican party professionals were mostly opposed to Trump. He did well enough in the primaries so they couldn’t stop him. It’s certainly possible that if he became President they would go along with his policies, but it’s also possible that they wouldn’t, given that his policies don’t fit very well with what other Republican politicians want.

          On the other hand, I think it’s a safe bet that Trump would get much less friendly treatment from the media than Clinton.

        • Yes David Friedman is correct that many Republicans have a strong distaste for Trump, but I do also agree with Radm that if the Republicans have both Houses, they would put their distaste aside and try very hard to make common cause with Trump. That’s why I stated in a previous thread that I’d like to see Hillary win, because taking both Houses is much less likely for the Dems.

          But my point was that this is the least important Presidential election in my lifetime, but not by a large margin. It does matter some, but less than in previous elections because neither Trump nor Hillary will get as much done as more likable leaders in the past. Admittedly my comment was mostly as a counterpoint to the initial comment, but I do think the survivor of this election will be a bit less effective when they move into the White House.

        • John Schilling says:

          Congressional Republicans will, I think, line up behind Trump with varying degrees of enthusiasm but very little open dissent, right up to the point where he becomes clearly impeachable and/or is clearly going to cost them their majority in the House. At that point, #NeverTrump will see a retro-recruitment surge like nothing since the French Resistance on V-E day.

          If Trump has any real degree of political competence, or a willingness to shut up and listen to competent political advisors, he will be able to spend the next 4-8 years making his level of vulnerability very unclear, and nobody who matters will want to risk being the first to defect.

          • cassander says:

            You think Paul Ryan will line up behind trump if he tries to backpedal on NATO or abjure free trade? Why would he do that?

          • Chalid says:

            Same reason he lines up behind Trump now, because he’s afraid of getting primaried or of losing his Speakership.

          • cassander says:

            >Same reason he lines up behind Trump now, because he’s afraid of getting primaried or of losing his Speakership.

            He’s lining up behind trump now because he doesn’t want Hillary to be president, and because there’s no cost in lining up. The same would not be true if a president trump decided to pass legislation he didn’t like.

    • Garrett says:

      As an aside, when it comes to winning elections there are two major ways to get the required votes:
      1) Sway a greater percentage of the voters to your position so they cast a ballot for you.
      2) Have a greater percentage of the people who support you actually show up and vote.

      The first is difficult. The second is expensive. The rhetoric around “most important election EVAR” is mostly around trying to improve (2) – the number of your supporters who actually show up.

  17. Sean says:

    So, ModafinilCat.com has shut down. The proprietor has recommended AfinilExpress.com and DuckDose.com. Anyone tried these? Anyone got other recommendations?

  18. S_J says:

    So, I recently had a conversation with some friends and acquaintances. [1]

    The circle included a two people who work in health-care (one of them a chaplain, another a nurse) and a woman who specializes in aiding home-births. About half of the people present were parents, the other half were childless.

    Anyway, a member of the circle has a new grand-daughter, born 10 weeks premature.

    This new grand-daughter is under close observation by doctors, mainly in an attempt to monitor the development of the eyes–apparently, these are the last major organs to develop during gestation.

    And in the middle of that conversation, one of the women present mutters something about “The child is alive. but if she had been aborted before birth, the culture would have said it wasn’t a child, but just a blob of cells”.

    This odd observation reminds me of the most maddening part of debates over abortion in the U.S.

    On one side of the political spectrum, we have partisans who appear to support every form of termination-of-pregnancy, up to the moment of birth. This side has arguments about bodily autonomy for the mother, and ignores or belittles any claims that a human fetus has the same rights that a human infant has.

    On the other side, we have partisans who state that the zygote, blastocyst, embryo, and fetus all deserve the same right to bodily autonomy (and support of life) that an infant has. These partisans also hold the position that a woman who engages in behavior that might lead to pregnancy has, in legal terms, assumed the risk of reduction of bodily autonomy.

    Worse, this discussion is often cast as a discussion between regressive-minded religious people and progressive-minded secularists.

    In my mind, the big question is this: which side of this debate has better support science on its side?

    I notice, from Wikipedia, that a human fetus has a detectable heartbeat around the time of transition from embry to fetus. This is typically at 8 weeks of gestation. It appears that brain-waves are also detectable at around this time. Thus, two forms of activity which are often used in end-of-life discussions of aged humans are detectable sometime during the second month of pregnancy.

    I also notice that the expectancy of survival for premature birth begins somewhere around 4 months of pregnancy.

    If I wanted to draw a line for “fetus should have the same rights as an infant”, I would draw it near the point of expected-survival-of-premature-birth. However, I could also see an argument that depends on detectable brain-wave and heartbeat.

    It is currently somewhat challenging to estimate the gestational age of any particular fetus.[2] And the line of “doctors would expect the fetus to survive a premature birth” isn’t a sharp, clear line of the kind that lawyers and judges use.

    Thus, I arrive at an impasse. I cannot support the pro-abortion position that the human fetus has no right to bodily autonomy or support-of-life.

    But I’m not sure I can support the opposing position, that every zygote/blastocyst has the same rights to bodily autonomy or support-of-life that an infant has. [3]

    Is there a way to resolve this issue?

    —————————————-
    [1] Admittedly, this discussion was part of a meeting of a group of religious people. I noticed that the mentions of abortion were of medical/scientific aspects, and not religious.

    [2] This assumption may be weak on my part. I guess when expectant-moms set the “due date”, they have a good idea of the date of conception. Even so, I’m fairly confident that the beginning of a pregnancy is the kind of thing that is harder specify a date/time for, than the end of a pregnancy…in most cases.

    [3] I am, however, opposed to the concept of capital punishment for the crime of being a child of a rapist…which is, apparently, a highly unpopular position on all sides of the debate about abortion.
    From what I can make out, this kind of abortion is the least-common kind. But it is a subject that is not well-studied…

    • Eltargrim says:

      I also notice that the expectancy of survival for premature birth begins somewhere around 4 months of pregnancy.

      Are you sure about this? My understanding was that less than 23 weeks was effectively non-viable, with a very rapid increase in viability over the following two weeks (<15% at 23 weeks, ~50% at 24 weeks, ~80% at 25 weeks).

      • Urstoff says:

        What’s the historical trend for technology pushing viability earlier? I assume that we are able to keep alive earlier premature babies now than, say, 20 years ago (much less 50 years ago), but is that still progressing or have we hit a technological plateau?

        • Eltargrim says:

          My previous attempt got eaten by the server. Hopefully this one will come through.

          The answer to your question is that it appears that while we’re able to give certain gestation periods better chances, we haven’t actually moved the absolute limit of viability in the last 20 years. This paper examines UK neonatal outcomes over a 20 year span starting approximately 5 years ago. I direct the reader to Table 2; while outcomes for neonates at 24 and 25 weeks have clearly improved (at the cost of very aggressive treatment), and there is some improvement at the 23 week mark, the survival rate at 22 weeks is nil.

          Hence my question to the op of this thread. Neonatal viability at 4 months of pregnancy is zero. However, at 4 months premature, you’re looking at approximately 24 weeks of pregnancy, and there the odds are slightly less than even.

          • Urstoff says:

            Interesting. Is there any theory as to why the hard line is 22 weeks?

          • Eltargrim says:

            I’m far from an expert in the field, so I can’t give you the read on what the prevailing professional opinion is. My personal guess would be (a lack of) lung development, but there’s so much going on that it’s hard to say.

          • I was recently told that there have been successful artificial womb experiments with (I think) mice and goats. I gather the “womb” was outside a body but partly living tissue. If that’s right, then the minimum age for survival may get down to zero in the not too distant future.

            Anyone here know more about this?

    • Two McMillion says:

      You might be interested in http://www.secularprolife.org/abortion . Some useful quotes from that page:

      The secular pro-life position rests on the following premises:
      1. The fetus is a human being.
      2. There is no consistent, objective distinction between “person” and “human being.”
      3. Human beings possess human rights.
      4. Bodily integrity is not sufficient to justify most abortions.

      A “human being” is a member of the species homo sapiens. While there is much debate over when a human organism becomes a “person,” there is not much debate over when a human organism begins biologically: “Biologically speaking, fertilization (or conception) is the beginning of human development. Fertilization normally occurs within several hours of ovulation (some authors report up to 24 hours) when a man’s sperm, or spermatozoon, combines with a woman’s egg, or secondary oocyte, inside a woman’s uterine tube (usually in the outer third of the uterine tube called the ampulla).”

      Many pro-choicers concede that unborn children are human beings, but deny that the fetus is a “person” deserving of full human rights. Their views of what else is necessary to achieve personhood vary widely. Some of the more common positions are that to be a “person,” a human being must also:

      – Have a heartbeat (which begins at 3-4 weeks gestation)
      – Produce brain waves (which begins at 6-7 weeks gestation)
      – Be “viable,” that is, capable of living outside the womb (which varies; typically around 24 weeks,
      but as early as 22 weeks with modern medical care)
      – Be conscious or self-aware (which begins sometime after birth)
      – Be born

      Secular pro-lifers find these personhood restrictions arbitrary and inconsistent. Many of the proposed
      criteria would, if applied consistently, deny the personhood of newborns, people with disabilities, and
      other vulnerable groups. For more on the practical problems of separating “person” from “human
      being,” see the “Related Articles” box at right.

      • Urstoff says:

        The difficulties of giving a good criterion of when a fetus becomes a metaphysical person is why the pro-choice side doesn’t actually make an argument like that anymore. Instead, the JJT argument that the body of one person cannot be controlled for the sake of another. I don’t think the argument as JJT frames it works, but that’s generally the philosophical stance that sophisticated pro-choice advocates take.

        • The problem with any tidy argument on the pro-choice side is showing why it doesn’t apply to infanticide. The more general problem is that we have a continuous change to which we want to apply a discontinuous set of moral categories. Birth works as a Schelling point, but it’s hard to see that as a moral justification.

          You can argue, of course, that before birth the infant requires the mother’s body, afterwards it doesn’t. But we don’t allow parents to let their small infants starve to death or expose them, which is what happens if nobody accepts the obligation of care.

          How would pro-choice people feel about a legal rule under which, if the pregnancy was past the point at which a premature infant could survive, the mother who wanted to abort was obligated to do it in a way that permitted the fetus to survive, provided someone else was willing to take responsibility for it? Alternatively, a rule in which the mother was obliged to take that responsibility–roughly equivalent to the current rule once the infant is born.

          • Gazeboist says:

            My personal rule is, in a perfect world, “it’s your call as long as another person can’t be swapped in (EDIT:) and the child can be expected to survive“. I’d be fine with replacing all abortion with some kind of technological motherhood tag-out system, provided that that system is reasonably available and about the same cost and risk (within a few percentage points) as abortion. Note that we have just such a system for live infants: adoption. The problem is extending it backward to cover time a woman would spend pregnant.

            As it stands, I’m “uneasily ok” with the no-third-trimester equilibrium that WHtA described below. I’m also a little worried that any such technology will be banned for being “unnatural” or some such.

          • Iain says:

            As far as late-term abortions go, it is worthwhile to note that across jurisdictions, abortions after 20 weeks or so make up 2% or less of the total number of abortions. Of those, a significant number are due to fetal abnormalities. (Scans for birth defects are typically done around the 20 week mark.)

            According to an old Guttmacher study, 48% of women having abortions after 16 weeks reported that difficulty making arrangements for the abortion was part of the reason they had such a relatively late abortion.

            I can’t speak for all pro-choice people, but I would be satisfied with a world where late-term abortions were restricted in exchange for improved accessibility to early-term abortions. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a step in the right direction.

          • @Iain:

            You put it as “in exchange for.” Suppose early term abortions are legal, late term abortions illegal, which I gather is the usual European pattern.

            Would you be for or against legalizing late term abortions? If they were legal, would you be for or against making them illegal?

          • Iain says:

            If they were strictly illegal, I would be in favour of them being made legal in some cases: at the very least, significant birth defects and complications that threaten the health of the mother. If they were legal, then I would not actively push for making them illegal, but would be willing to accept some restrictions being placed on them, so long as they were still available in the cases I listed previously.

            In general, I’m not afraid of women being evil baby killers, so I am willing to err on the permissive side and trust women to make good decisions for their own situations. If I was presented with convincing evidence that a significant number of late-term abortions were being performed for frivolous reasons, then I would re-evaluate my position.

          • Two McMillion says:

            If I was presented with convincing evidence that a significant number of late-term abortions were being performed for frivolous reasons, then I would re-evaluate my position.

            Why distinguish between late and early term abortions at all?

          • Iain says:

            Because I don’t think blastocysts deserve any protection, and I do think babies deserve protection, and the closer an entity is to the latter the more likely I am to want to defend it.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Scott has his own ideas on what the worst argument in the world is but I absolutely despise the “famous violinist” argument. The rebuttal can be summarized in one sentence as “YOU HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES TO YOUR BABY THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TOWARDS RANDOM VIOLINISTS”. It really is that simple and drives me crazy that anyone could possibly think that it’s a convincing argument.

            There is one good argument in favor of abortion and that’s the uncertainty of human personhood. Lets stick to that discussion.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Wrong Species:

            there is a utilitarian argument, namely, that illegal abortion might mean less abortion, but not enough to offset the increased risk of the illegal abortions that happen.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Why can’t I edit? I don’t know if it’s a good argument, because it just creates another tradeoff – instead of “mother vs child” the tradeoff is “less vs safer”.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @dndnrsn

            You are right but I don’t think many people besides Peter Singer are going to endorse that argument because they know exactly where it leads.

            And I’m not sure what you mean by “less vs safer”.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Iain

            In general, I’m not afraid of women being evil baby killers, so I am willing to err on the permissive side and trust women to make good decisions for their own situations.

            It’s not the evil people you should be worried about. It’s the callous, uncaring folk who are the real danger. (Whether I agree with the the current truth of the image or not,) think of the popular image of the drone-happy president who sees remote strikes as if they were a video game. It’s not that he’s evil or out to get you. It’s that you just don’t matter to him. It costs him essentially nothing to kill you, and it has a slight chance of helping him out in other pursuits… so why not?

          • Iain says:

            As TheWorst says in another branch of this discussion, women don’t just casually carry babies around for 7-8 months only to throw them away at the last minute. To the extent that your “callous, uncaring” women actually exist, they would be getting early-term abortions – and, as I’ve already said, I don’t think early-term fetuses are people or need protection.

            (You do lampshade it, but I want to reinforce that it is unfair to accuse Obama of tossing off drone strikes casually. I am not a fan of his drone policy, but this recent interview with Jonathan Chait makes it clear that Obama has spent a lot of time thinking about the issue.)

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Wrong Species:

            Banning abortion probably means there are going to be fewer abortions – simply because access is decreased (fewer people willing to do it, harder to find them, likely more expensive, etc). The illegal abortions that happen will likely be less safe – more women suffering complications (including death) due to sketchy abortions which are more likely to be botched.

            I meant: that there’s a tradeoff there – for someone proposing an abortion ban, presumably they think that having fewer abortions is worth the ones that do happen being more dangerous (they might have made a utilitarian calculation, or they just might not care very much about women who suffer complications during abortions). Likewise, presumably people who are in favour of abortion being legal think that the greater number of abortions is worth those abortions being safer (again, maybe utilitarian, or maybe they just don’t care about the number of abortions because they don’t consider them to have moral weight).

          • Anonymous says:

            To the extent that your “callous, uncaring” women actually exist, they would be getting early-term abortions – and, as I’ve already said, I don’t think early-term fetuses are people or need protection.

            Exactly the callous, uncaring perspective we expect from a non-evil person. It just so happens that the brown people fetuses that you don’t care about turn out to not be people. (I mean, it’s literally my point.)

            (I also carefully spoke of the image of an unnamed drone-happy president. Far more people are willing to imagine someone like Trump in this role than Obama… even if he’s not currently president. After all, the president is best positioned to make the choice of military action, and it’s hard to be pro-choice for those presidents but not these others. While you might be an Obama figure and think you have gripped the moral challenges of abortion choice accurately, your selection of policy is granting that choice to many others who might not share your moral purity.)

          • Iain says:

            It’s not some amazing coincidence that the fetuses I don’t care about turn out not to be people. It is precisely because I don’t believe that they are people that I don’t care about them.

          • Anonymous says:

            While you might be an Obama figure and think you have gripped the moral challenges of abortion choice accurately, your selection of policy is granting that choice to many others who might not share your moral purity.

        • Two McMillion says:

          I don’t think the bodily autonomy argument works either. Do you support abortion? Why or why not?

          • Urstoff says:

            I am unsure of its morality, but I don’t think it should be illegal. Contraceptives and proper sex ed (read: not abstinence-based) should be encouraged (whether culturally or politically) to prevent the situations in the first place. I consider this to be a fairly mainstream perspective.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Either abortion is murder in which case it is immoral and should be illegal or it is not murder in which case it is not immoral and should be legal. I don’t see a coherent argument for immoral but should be legal.

          • Urstoff says:

            Neither of those is the position I stated. I am unsure whether abortion is murder, and the consequences of outlawing it would be quite negative [bracketing the question of whether it is murder]. Thus, it should stay legal.

          • Dahlen says:

            I don’t see a coherent argument for immoral but should be legal.

            Not all transgressions against morality fall under what law can or should reasonably act against without the place in question becoming the worst of police states. Everything that law does, it does bureaucratically, bluntly, rigidly, invasively, through a limited amount of people that cost money to employ, and without enough regard for common sense, nuance, or informality. Is this the institution to which you want to entrust all moral decisions, even the small ones?

            Not to mention: impracticability of enforcement; existence of downsides and trade-offs in policymaking; subjective sense of freedom from state institutions; and last but not least, that most persuasive argument, failing the giggle test.

            Edit: all of this assumes that you meant the quoted paragraph in the general sense, rather than this specific example… But even so, if we’re strictly talking about abortion, one could come up with arguments for its immorality that hinge on something else than its status as murder (defined legally). Like, that it reduces birth rates, and birth rates are an Unalloyed Good, or somesuch.

          • Gazeboist says:

            To your detriment, you cover “killing” with “murder”, eliding the possibility that abortion is sometimes but not always killing or that this killing is sometimes but not always wrong.

            Legislation is a blunt instrument ill-suited to genuinely difficult balancing of rights and/or goals. Courts are slightly better, because they operate case-by-case, but they’re still not great. For a sufficiently hard moral problem, you have to rely on the people involved to make their calls correctly. In general, it’s a good idea to assume that they did unless you have good reason to assume otherwise; without this assumption, society starts to have trouble functioning.

            All of this is ultimately about manipulating incentives. The legal system is one way to do it, but it’s hardly the only way and you shouldn’t assume a priori that it’s the right way.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Dahlen

            I, and the vast majority of people, are quite willing to give the government power to outlaw murder. The question is whether abortion is killing some morally insignificant cells or whether it’s killing a person. Imagine someone saying “I don’t think infanticide is moral but I certainly don’t think anyone should go to jail for it.” It doesn’t work that way.

            @Gazeboist

            For a sufficiently hard moral problem, you have to rely on the people involved to make their calls correctly

            “Slavery is a really hard moral problem. You shouldn’t legislate your simple opinions on me. Instead, you should just assume that I’m making the right call.”

            Again it doesn’t work. If you think abortion is no morally different than infanticide, then it’s truly baffling that you would be ok with it being legal. I think the problem with this debate is that pro-choice people start with the assumption that abortion is not as bad as infanticide and argue from there when that concept is what the debate is all about.

            @Urstoff

            Fair enough. However, I don’t think uncertainty helps your cause. One of my favorite philosophical articles is about moral risk and why uncertainty should actually lead you away from supporting abortion. Admittedly, it’s not a strong proof and your reasoning is defensible, although certainly not satisfying.

          • JayT says:

            Either abortion is murder in which case it is immoral and should be illegal or it is not murder in which case it is not immoral and should be legal. I don’t see a coherent argument for immoral but should be legal.

            I think that abortion is immoral, but I also think that making it illegal will lead to worse outcomes overall, so I am not in favor of making it illegal.
            There are many different situations where you have to weigh the outcomes to decide what is the best course of action and sometimes you may have to make an immoral choice to avoid an even more immoral outcome.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @JayT

            Peter Singer thinks similarly about infanticide. Do you agree?

          • JayT says:

            I’m not terribly familiar with his argument, but I tend to think the outcomes of infanticide being illegal are more positive than negative, so I would be against it’s legalization.

          • Gazeboist says:

            “Slavery is a really hard moral problem. You shouldn’t legislate your simple opinions on me. Instead, you should just assume that I’m making the right call.”

            And that’s why it’s illegal for parents to require that their children do chores. Wait, that’s not slavery? Sorry, I thought slavery was when a person is required to labor for an employer they did not choose and whose employ they may not leave.

            EDIT to try to be more than just snappy and rude

            It is immoral to kill a person most of the time, and it is generally clear whether or not you are killing a person. Thus we classify most killings of people as “murder”, and make murder illegal. Sometimes it’s not entirely clear whether you’re killing a person. Thus “manslaughter”, “negligent homicide”, torts of wrongful death, and defenses thereto. Sometimes it’s not entirely clear whether killing a person is moral. Thus “justifiable homicide”, “stand your ground”, the “castle doctrine”, and the death penalty. Some of these things are debated and some are not. Those that are debated are closer to the line than the rest; in such situations I think refraining from moral judgement* towards the people involved is an appropriate default.

            It is not remotely obvious to me that “a fetus is always morally equivalent to a person” and “a fetus is never morally equivalent to a person” fully describe the possibilities. As I read it, Singer’s argument (alternately, the fact that we’re having debates about abortion in the first place) plainly shows that both are false. Nor is the failure of the bodily autonomy/integrity argument not obvious.** Should the government mandate that you donate a kidney to your blood-type compatible child? You need to actually make the argument that pregnancy is more like caring for an infant you have put up for adoption (until the adoptive parents arrive, of course) than it is like the kidney donation scenario.

            * But not legal judgement! It is important to enforce laws and enforce them consistently.

            ** I also don’t claim this argument is definitely successful, which is (part of) why I described myself as “uneasily OK” with the present situation

    • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

      On one side of the political spectrum, we have partisans who appear to support every form of termination-of-pregnancy, up to the moment of birth. This side has arguments about bodily autonomy for the mother, and ignores or belittles any claims that a human fetus has the same rights that a human infant has.

      This position is very loud, and overrepresented in “the conversation” (and no, not just in the internet and universities), but when push comes to shove, my impression is that most people in the “pro-choice” side favor something like “legal up to 3/2 months, then banned unless there are heavy health hazards for the mother”. This is, I think, the most common setup in Europe, and I haven’t heard of significant pushes for a more pro-choice legislation.

      • Eltargrim says:

        As an example in Canadian jurisdiction, the law is neutral with regards to abortion; there is no legislation mandating specific timeframes. It is wholly a decision between the patient and her doctor, with some non-binding guidance from the Canadian Medical Association. Most protests regarding abortion from the pro-choice side are about availability and funding, not legality.

      • brad says:

        What about people that are not totally comfortable with late term abortions, but on the balance think it ought to be legal?

        My sense is that late term abortions are by and large because of some extraordinary occurrence — and not just because someone couldn’t be bothered to schedule something until six or seventh months in. Maybe in a perfect world that set of extraordinary circumstances would be specified and enforced (maybe) but given the enforcement problems and scope creep one might reasonable conclude that it is better to just leave it up to the conscience of the mother.

        It seems somewhat unreasonable to lump people who have followed such a chain of reasoning into a group whose description implies complete non-concern for late term fetuses.

        • TheWorst says:

          What about people that are not totally comfortable with late term abortions, but on the balance think it ought to be legal?

          For my part, I’m mostly in the same place you are. I wouldn’t be comfortable with people using late-term abortions in place of birth control, but I also believe that no one does that voluntarily. I have an extremely hard time imagining anyone spending 7-8 months voluntarily carrying a pregnancy they don’t intend to keep.

          As far as I’m aware, late-term abortions happen because something went very wrong, or because the woman in question attempted to get an early-term abortion and was delayed by legal restrictions.

          When it comes to legal restrictions, I seem to place abortions in the same category as root canal surgery. When you need it you need it, and I wouldn’t want people getting it when they don’t need it, but I also suspect that doesn’t happen. Adding legal restrictions is likely to keep people who need it from getting it, while preventing zero people who don’t need it from getting an unneeded one.

          • JayT says:

            I don’t know how common late term abortions are for healthy fetuses, but one instance I could see it happening is when the mother doesn’t realize she is pregnant until she is past the 4 month period or whatever the law may be.

          • Gazeboist says:

            4 months from conception (a bit less than 16.5 weeks into the pregnancy) is pretty far short of the end of the second trimester or the 22-24 week mark*, which are common dividing lines. At that point, pregnancy is pretty obvious.

            Note that, because it’s very hard to figure out when conception actually happened, pregnancy is usually said to “begin” (for medical purposes) with the last prior menstruation.

            * People here have mentioned 4 months from the end of pregnancy, which is about 24 weeks from the beginning.

          • Garrett says:

            I volunteer in EMS. There are lots of people who deliver full-term babies without knowing that they were pregnant. Another case I saw involved a woman with abdominal pain who already had 3 kids and insisted that she couldn’t be pregnant. Lo-and-behold, she was ~22 weeks pregnant.
            Lots of people don’t know they are pregnant until late in the process.

          • LHN says:

            Happened to the wife of a cousin of mine. They found out at the hospital that the pain that had sent her there was labor.

            Even better: my cousin is a physician.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Well then, I suppose I sit corrected.

    • Aapje says:

      That ‘odd observation’ is actually a political issue in my country where people who suffered a miscarriage are fighting for the fetus being officially registered as a person. This is completely meaningless in any tangible sense, but apparently, emotionally very important to people who feel that their great sense of loss must be recorded by the government as the death of a person. I don’t particularly understand why these people need validation from the government, but apparently that is important to them.

      Anyway, in my country abortion is not a very big issue and the people who push this are not against abortion or even relate their demands to abortion.

      As for abortion, the law in my country allows abortion in the first 24 weeks, as long as the fetus is not viable. In practice, doctors tend to stop at 22 weeks, because there is a two-week uncertainty in determining the date of conception.

      Personally, I don’t believe that it is very rational to set the abortion date at exactly the viability date. It’s not like there is a sudden switch at that date. So I prefer an earlier date, although I feel unqualified to give a number.

      I don’t see why a fetus ever has to be classified as a child. It can protected by law without doing so (and probably better, since classifying it as a child requires other laws to be amended, like child custody laws). You can easily disallow certain things from being done on a fetus that is older than X weeks. It’s not like the fetus has to be afforded many rights, beyond not being abortion not being legal. So you only have to distinguish fetus’s by age in abortion law and in criminal law (when a criminal causes the death of a fetus).

      • Randy M says:

        I don’t particularly understand why these people need validation from the government, but apparently that is important to them.

        Love wins.

    • abstemious says:

      This question reminds me of http://lesswrong.com/lw/nm/disguised_queries/ and its sequel http://lesswrong.com/lw/nn/neural_categories/, about how word definitions can distract you from the true question being asked.

      In this question we have a category “things which are okay to kill if necessary”, and we’re trying to identify which sorts of things fall into that category.

      The wrong way to answer the question is to have an argument about the definition of the word “alive”. The world already has examples of creatures which are alive but are okay to kill (cockroaches, pigs, terrorists) and things which are not alive but are not okay to destroy (the Mona Lisa, the Brooklyn Bridge, the ozone layer). Answering the question of whether a fetus is “alive” will not tell us whether it’s okay to kill or destroy one.

      The right way to answer this question is to think about what sorts of consequences there are (both direct consequences and societal consequences) for killing a given thing, and then weigh whether those consequences are bad enough that we should forbid killing that thing.

      A good start might be to list the reasons we usually think murder is bad (the person being murdered doesn’t like it; the persons’s friends and family don’t like it; people who find out about it might worry that they might be murdered too; the person doing the murdering might become more willing to commit murder; having a Schelling fence banning all murders makes it easier to convince people not to perform any specific murder; others?). Then we could think about which of those reasons applies to the question of killing or destroying a fetus or infant.

      • The Nybbler says:

        The right way to answer this question is to think about what sorts of consequences there are (both direct consequences and societal consequences) for killing a given thing, and then weigh whether those consequences are bad enough that we should forbid killing that thing.

        This view fails to take into consideration whether the killing of the given thing is itself a bad consequence… which is the main point in dispute.

        • abstemious says:

          I guess I’m coming at this from a consequentialist perspective, where most things that are bad are bad for some specific reason or reasons.

          It sounds like you’re arguing that killing/destroying a fetus/infant might be “inherently” a bad consequence. Is this an application of virtue ethics?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Deontological more likely.

            As the Spartans demonstrated, one can practice strict virtue ethics and infanticide simultaneously. Most of the virtue ethical systems people care about here are similarly Classical in that sense.

          • Randy M says:

            where most things that are bad are bad for some specific reason or reasons.

            Even consequentialist reasoning has to rest upon some sacred value, be it one person’s utilons or the collective measure of those, or a mix of various seemingly arbitrarily weighted concerns. Asking “But why is it ‘bad’ if people die?” is kind of like asking “But why do you want to be happy?” Something has to be fundamental.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      [3] I am, however, opposed to the concept of capital punishment for the crime of being a child of a rapist…which is, apparently, a highly unpopular position on all sides of the debate about abortion.

      Can I put in my usual request for not framing it this way? If we are already discussing when and a foetus transitions from ‘entity whose life we are not obligated to protect’ to ‘entity with the full legal rights that we would afford a child’, talking of the death penalty in cases where the foetus is likely to be before the cut-off point for most people who would put a cut-off point somewhere in the middle of the pregnancy process, rather than at the beginning or the end, seems to be unfairly pre-judging the matter.

      (As an aside, it’s not hard to sympathise with the people who are more comfortable with abortion of pregnancies resulting from rape than they are with abortion more generally: assuming there is a heritable component to the propensity-to-rape trait, there is an added incentive to reduce the proportion of people who carry that trait into the next generation – though perhaps people who have done the studies can tell me to what degree it is heritable in the first place?)

      • Randy M says:

        No, I think it was fair, for him to put that as an aside–that is, he was saying that if we establish that abortion would be wrong because a fetus is a person, then we can’t simply have an exception for rape.

        It’s just pointing out a bit of tactical hypocrisy among pro-life advocates.

        assuming there is a heritable component to the propensity-to-rape trait, there is an added incentive to reduce the proportion of people who carry that trait into the next generation

        There most likely is, but one still has to answer the “Is it a person” question in the negative to entertain the question seriously, or else risk allowing such arguments into analogous contexts. “Jury, there may not be enough evidence placing the defendant at the scene of the crime, but please remember, his father was a convicted killer, so we know he is more likely than most to do have committed the crime.”

        I’m not saying protecting rape offspring is an easy answer, but does seem to be where the moral consistency lies.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Bayes, PI?

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ Randy M.

          What I have not seen brought up in the ‘exception for rape’ discussion, is practicality. To capture and put on trial and convict someone of rape … can take longer than even nine months.

          Also, allowing abortion in cases of rape, gives incentive for a woman who wants an abortion, to make a false claim of rape.

  19. Gazeboist says:

    Is this site now more closely linked to wordpress than it used to be? A few months ago I made a gravatar account, which turned out (?) to be a wordpress account. I generally leave it logged in because it’s needed for a couple of directly-on-wordpress sites (also, since creating it, I can’t comment on Ozy’s blog without being logged in). Today, when I went to comment, I saw a message telling me I needed to be logged in to comment. I also couldn’t log in, even via wordpress. I actually thought I might have been banned without getting put on the list, but the problem went away when I logged out of wordpress. Anyone know what’s going on?

    EDIT:

    Discussed in the links post.

    • Lumifer says:

      I think SSC hit a technical pothole and started to demand a login for comments for a while. Evidently this was not working as intended and got fixed so we’re back to the previous state of affairs.

      It may have been a normal screw-up or it may have been an actual attempt to impose the register-and-have-an-account requirement. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

    • Randy M says:

      Registration seems to be working now, after some log-in complications.
      Sorry it was necessary. Especially if it came at the cost of the “most recent comments” drop down menu!

  20. Act vs Rule

    TheWorst recently argued that nobody really believes in states rights. So far I don’t think anyone has come up with a satisfactory counterexample, a case of someone who is in favor of policy X at the state level but opposed to the federal government imposing it because that violates states rights.

    It occurred to me that this is one example of a much more general issue and it might be interesting to think about other examples. The general case is one where there is an act X which violates a rule Y. Are there people who are in favor of X on its own merits, in favor of Y, and because they are in favor of Y don’t take or advocate X? Some possible examples:

    A close friend, dying, gives you an envelope with $10,000 in it and asks you to pass it on to his son–assume you have no reason to think there is anything suspicious about the money. You promise to do so. He dies.

    Do you pass it on to the son, acting on either the rule “keep promises” or the rule “respect property rights,” or do you treat it as a windfall to be used in whatever way you think best? My guess is that most people pass it on and the exceptions steal it for themselves.

    Now assume the dying friend is a prominent author, artist, or historical figure. He asks you to promise to destroy his accumulated correspondence, unpublished writing, unsold and possibly unfinished art works, or the like. Having agreed, do you go through with it? I believe this has been a real world situation in the past, with some people following the rule, some the preferred act.

    Next shift to a more political case. Suppose you believe, as I do, that where decisions have to be made for children by adults the authority to make them should be with the children’s parents since they are the adults most likely to have their children’s welfare at heart. Suppose you also believe in evolution. Do you support or oppose rules that compel fundamentalist parents to send their children to schools that teach evolution?

    I’m sure other people can think of other examples, but I thought the general issue was an interesting one.

    P.S. I may have thought of a counterexample to TheWorst’s claim: Barry Goldwater. According to Wikipedia, he founded the Arizona Air National Guard and desegregated it two years before the rest of the military was desegregated. According to another source, he ended segregation in the department stores owned by his family. But he opposed the Civil Rights act which forced desegregation of private facilities.

    I’m not sure if that does it, however, because his opposition to the Civil Rights act may have been based not on state vs federal issues but on government vs private issues. If so, it is an example of the general pattern I have discussed here but not the specific states rights example.

    • Gazeboist says:

      Judges often fit your criteria, I think. I recall three examples.

      First, a 9th circuit panel denied class certification for immigrants undergoing deportation proceedings who cannot be represented on appeal due to a shortage of immigration lawyers, with a concurrence explaining that the representation needed to be there but it was nevertheless not a problem the courts could solve.

      Second, a (black) district judge recently dismissed a civil rights lawsuit demanding that the University of Missouri (I think?) cease flying the confederate battle flag. He explained that, despite his personal feeling that the flag represented a terrible legacy deserving no celebration, the plaintiff (a Missouri lawyer) had no standing to sue.

      Third, you may remember the Massachusetts rape case where the defendant (known to be guilty) was exonerated on appeal to the state supreme court because the prosecutor had charged the wrong crime (“rape” is a set of four crimes with varying elements in Massachusetts). The court spent a substantial part of the opinion blasting the prosecutor for charging the wrong crime (thus preventing the man from ever being punished, due to double jeopardy), and then overturned the conviction because the law demanded they do so.

      I also recall a friend who expressed annoyance that a particularly odious botnet operator was imprisoned for the one sketchy thing he did that wasn’t a crime. But my friend is a graduate student, not a judge.

    • TheWorst says:

      It is an interesting one, though the direction I was going with that was a more banal one about preferences stated vs. revealed.

      I think a classic example of act vs. rule is about freedom of speech (“I disagree with what you say, but” etc.”), and sub-examples like the ACLU defending the right of neo-Nazis to hold public events (and I think it unlikely that the ACLU is pro-Nazi).

      I have a mild suspicion that the political cases vary dramatically based on object-level factual disagreements rather than on rule-beliefs, necessarily. For instance: Let’s say you believe that where decisions have to be made for children by adults, you believe that the authority to make them should be with the parents. How do you feel about that rule when discussing parents who believe that their child is a witch, and should be burned at the stake? Or parents who believed it was perfectly healthy to feed their children heavily-sugared anthrax.

      I suspect the fundamentalist/evolution question, in most people, comes down to whether they believe the harm of not being taught evolution is more like that of being set on fire, or more like that of not knowing karate.

      A possibly-separate question:

      Suppose you believe, as I do, that where decisions have to be made for children by adults the authority to make them should be with the children’s parents since they are the adults most likely to have their children’s welfare at heart.

      Which type of belief is this, overall? For instance, to what standard of proof would you hold the proposition that the parents either didn’t have their children’s welfare at heart, or were incorrect? I think that’s where the problems start to happen, since I’m not sure any two people agree on the same standard of proof.

      • I agree that the rule would not apply to parents murdering their children, hence that where it does apply depends in part on what you think the nature of the particular issue is.

        A further problem is that in many of the political cases, the issue is not really whether to violate the rule but whether to change it. In your judge cases, for example, since we work under a system of stare decisis, a judge might believe that making the decision he wants in this case will have net negative effects due to its effect as precedent in other cases. A similar problem exists in legislative examples. Somewhat might oppose a violation of states rights whose purpose he approved of on the theory that it would set a political precedent that made later violations of states rights for purposes he disapproved of more likely.

        All of which suggests that the individual action cases I started with may be the best clean tests. If I spend the envelope full of money on bed nets or contribute it to Gary Johnson’s campaign, nobody else ever knows.

        • TheWorst says:

          Murder is an easy one. Say if the parents thought it was in the child’s best interest to be branded, daily, until they believed that the demons had finally left.

          Edge cases are more interesting–cases like “the parents think the child is better off without wisdom teeth” or “the parents think the child is better off without thumbs” are less likely to find our true rejections. Let’s say a child is born with an extra thumb, fully-functional, and the parents think the drawbacks of not removing it (poor social conformity, and all its attendant harms) outweigh the benefit (extra thumb and no involuntary amputation).
          I think people might split on that question, but I suspect it has more to do with how much they weight each of those harms.

          • Jiro says:

            I wish that LW had never come up with the idea of “true rejection”. Or at least , I wish that everyone who used that phrase first had to rule out the possibility that something was done for multiple reasons, none of which is the reason.

      • onyomi says:

        I think part of the problem with answering this question is the separate question of who gets to decide the bounds of acceptable viewpoints. Some people would say just choosing to homeschool proves that a parent doesn’t have his child’s best interests at heart. Some people would say homeschooling is okay, but teaching intelligent design is not. Some would say intelligent design is okay, but draw the line at the choice to not vaccinate. Some would be okay with not vaccinating but not okay with sacrificing your child on a mountain because God asked you to, etc. etc. Where to draw the line depends on your own values and beliefs about factual matters, though literally killing your child might reasonably be taken as evidence of not having their best interests at heart (“but I sent him to be with God as God asked me to,” they might say).

        I guess it’s one of those cases where the law must balance two different values: the right to raise your child as you think best, and the right of the child not to be harmed by a crazy parent. My concern right now, however, is more that we are going too far in broadly defining “crazy” as “doesn’t agree with me,” rather than the reverse theoretical problem of letting parents have too much leeway. Of course, compared to say, most of Europe, US parents DO have a lot of leeway, but I don’t particularly want to see us moving more in that direction where, e. g. raising your child Amish might be seen as a form of abuse.

        • TheWorst says:

          I guess it’s one of those cases where the law must balance two different values: the right to raise your child as you think best, and the right of the child not to be harmed by a crazy parent.

          Essentially this, combined with perhaps no two people agreeing on when “doing things differently than I would prefer” becomes “crazy.”

          The problem with not trusting the parents is that you then have to trust someone else, and the problem with not trusting anyone else is that then you have to trust the parents. And both the parents and everyone else are people, and therefore not sufficiently trustworthy for this.

    • Lumifer says:

      I like state rights (and general decentralization) not because the states will choose the right policy, but because they will choose a variety of different policies and I believe that diversity of legal and regulatory regimes is quite beneficial. A couple of obvious benefits are the viability of the Exit option and the chance to observe various natural experiments where a certain policy is enforced in some places but not others.

      As to the general case, I’m not sure it’s possible to give a general answer, it’s going to depend on the specifics of the case. Conflicting rules (or motivations, or values) have to be either reconciled or ranked and what will come out ahead, basically, depends.

      • Gazeboist says:

        Briefly on diversity of legal regimes: I agree that it is good in principal, but I believe it could be vastly improved by the federal government establishing a national legislative dictionary, and perhaps collecting and publishing the various state legal systems in a central place.

        (Imagine if the CSA created drug schedules but didn’t say anything about their legality – that’s what I mean by a legislative dictionary)

        • LHN says:

          Can you unpack what the goal is? At this point most state (and federal) legislation and case law is available online one way or another, and there are 50-state surveys on many topics. (Granted those tend to be paywalled, or require a visit to a law library.) What role do you see the federal government playing?

          • Gazeboist says:

            I originally came up with it as a solution to some issues that gun rights supporters brought up. One mentioned difficulty in determining what is or isn’t illegal in the various cities and counties he drives through; I was also thinking of concerns about ill-defined “assault weapons”, and that NJ case where a man was convicted if an illegal concealed carry because of an otherwise-legal gun in his trunk (he was moving to a new house, IIRC). This led me to the idea that one thing the federal government could definitely do that wouldn’t violate the second amendment is collect the various laws in a central place (so they could be more easily complied with) and define common terms like “carry” (concealed or otherwise).

            The ultimate idea would be to move towards a system where state laws are sort of like configuration files on top of federal laws – defining the particular options and tools in use in the particular jurisdiction (and county/municipal systems would be configuration on top of that). This obviously wouldn’t completely obsolete state law outside of items from the federal dictionary; some jurisdictions deal with issues that just don’t apply elsewhere, and the system could be subject to abuse where congress could mass-change certain “state” laws (affirmative consent comes to mind), but I think it could be useful despite potential flaws. If legal terms are generally uniform, that makes it easier to choose between two different legal regimes. Plus, if there’s a standard legislative dictionary, legislation at all levels is easier to understand and debate.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Gazeboist

            So, basically, the Feds provide the Lego blocks and the states are free to build whatever, but only out of these blocks?

          • Gazeboist says:

            Yes-ish, with a little more freedom on both sides. The feds provide lego blocks and build a couple of foundational things with them; states are encouraged to use the blocks but not required to do so. The only thing I would definitely require that states do is be explicit (by, say, giving their version a different name) when they make a legal construct similar to but distinct from one in the federal dictionary.

            I’d also like to see the 10th amendment expanded into an explicit (but not exhaustive) list of powers granted to the states. Similar work should probably be done for the 9th, and the “right to privacy” that’s been (correctly, I think) read into the 4th should be made explicit. There should also probably (though I’m less sure about this than the rest) be a clear default order of precedence between personal rights, federal powers, and state powers, since they will come into conflict occasionally. I read the 9th and 10th amendments as advice that, as gaps are discovered, the Constitution should be edited to account for them. The second amendment also needs to be put in modern words, but that’s a whole different discussion.

          • Gazeboist says:

            To add (three days late…):

            The easiest (and, I think, correct) way to start such a dictionary would be to just take the intersection of existing state laws as best we can, and then say, “these are our common terms”.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Gazeboist

            There are such things at the Model Penal Code and the Uniform Commercial Code.

          • Gazeboist says:

            The UCC is nice. The MPC is a product of an advocacy group, rather than the federal government; while I think advocacy groups writing model laws is usually a good thing, I also think that encouraging uniform law (where reasonable) is one of the jobs of the federal government, and one that it is uniquely well suited to perform. I think it would also be a good idea to put in place some small group of bureaucrats whose job it was to collect current state laws, or at least set up a common state law access point.

            But yes, at a first glance, those seem to be close to what I desire.

          • Actually, I think the nearest thing to what you suggest is the American Law Institute, which is private but very prestigious.

    • cassander says:

      >TheWorst recently argued that nobody really believes in states rights. So far I don’t think anyone has come up with a satisfactory counterexample, a case of someone who is in favor of policy X at the state level but opposed to the federal government imposing it because that violates states rights.

      Calvin Coolidge was both a very progressive governor of New York and a restrained quasi-libertarian as president.

      More personally, until recently I was very much in favor of states legalizing gay marriage legislatively but against courts or the federal government doing so by fiat.

      • smocc says:

        Which way did you change your mind on the gay marriage issue, if you don’t mind my asking, and why? That’s where I’m at right now and I’m curious.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m guessing “question dismissed as moot”.

        • cassander says:

          Anonymous is right. I’m still in favor of it, but I dislike the supreme court simply decreeing it.

          • smocc says:

            Ah, okay. Then we are still at nearly the same opinion (I’m unsure how I would vote in a state election, though it’s moot for me because I live in Massachusetts).

      • birdboy2000 says:

        Calvin Coolidge was governor of Massachusetts, not New York. (And I wouldn’t exactly call him progressive – he’s best remembered as governor for crushing the Boston Police Strike.)

    • Jordan D. says:

      I don’t know anything about Barry Goldwater’s opinion, but my observations are thus:

      1) There are some people with a powerful interest in federalism qua federalism.
      2) There are some people who don’t give a damn about federalism but support it as a booster for their own politics.
      3) Then there are the people who are staunch federalists when it boosts their politics, have various arguments for why it doesn’t apply to their pet causes and, according to their natures, will sometimes say that certain specific things they like are prevented by federalism.
      (There’s probably a fourth group who just opposes federalism, but they don’t write a lot of articles)

      Group 1, as far as I can tell, consists of academics and political philosophers, and only a minority of those. Group 2 consists of people who haven’t given the matter any thought but want to endorse conservative policies. Group 3 is more-or-less everyone else in the country who understands federalism.

      I’ll admit to being in Group 3. I endorse federalism in theory, endorse federalism when it supports my politics (boo, overreach-of-commerce-clause-driven-drug-war!), but believe that various national concerns which I like are supported by the Constitution, even though my interpretation could be motivated. Possibly that makes me more likely to be suspicious of people who claim to be staunch federalists.

      I think your examples are a good case, though. A political conundrum which I face is this: I happen to believe that, on the merits and in light of past cases, Citizens United was correctly decided. I also believe that it has led to a zero-sum spending race which has caused a huge swell in political spending without any benefits (and to the detriment of my browser, based on the sheer number of ads). Thus I find myself in the position where I’m unwilling to join the coalition crusading to see it destroyed, but also wouldn’t be bothered to see it go.

      • BBA says:

        My dad is in group 4. He writes lots of articles, but they’re all in medical research journals so the topic almost never comes up. I’m not even sure you could get a whole article out of “why do we need 50 state medical boards each with their own impossible paperwork?”

      • ” I also believe that it has led to a zero-sum spending race which has caused a huge swell in political spending …”

        I’m curious why you believe that. My understanding of Citizens United is that it found that restrictions on spending in support of political outcomes that had recently been imposed did not apply to the organizations they had been imposed on. It didn’t let anyone do anything that they couldn’t have done ten years earlier (the decision was 2010, the McCain–Feingold Act was 2002). And it didn’t let organizations do anything that private individuals couldn’t have done before the decision. So why would you expect it to cause a huge increase in campaign spending?

        I don’t know the data on spending, but I assume any general upward trend reflects the increase in the size and power of government. The more government controls, the more valuable influence over government is.

        • Gazeboist says:

          I think it, together with the legislation that preceded it, did cause a shift in the style and manner of political spending. Early attempts at restricting campaign spending resulted in spending by outside-but-allied groups, which the candidates could distance themselves from relatively easily, thus giving those outsiders more freedom to engage in tactics that could harm a campaign that used them directly. This too was then restricted, but when the restrictions were lifted, nobody went back to the old method because political campaigns had hit a new equilibrium.

          You can punish defecting or just have an informal norm against defection, but if you accidentally cause your pre-existing norm against defection to break, you usually need to punish it for a while before you can rely on the norm again. You also need to avoid ratchet effects, of course, but nobody said running a society was easy.

        • Jordan D. says:

          I understand that correlation is not causation, but as I recall the ‘swell’ was actually a doubling of third-party expenditures within five years.

          As for the mechanism, I think that becomes clearer when you look at second-order effects. Citizens United was a pretty limited holding, but with broad rationale (which is a gripe I have with a number of Justice Kennedy’s opinions). The rationale there was relied upon by the DC Circuit in Speechnow.org v. FEC, which struck down donor limits for third-party political action committees and led to the FEC’s formulation of the modern SuperPAC in an advisory opinon.

          Now, it’s true that a SuperPAC which takes 50 million from John Billionaire and 10 million from various small donors isn’t spending much more money than John Billionaire could have himself, but the strong preference wealthy donors have for donating rather than conducting their own side-campaigns indicates to me that there’s some kind of motivating factor there.

          Unlike a lot of my friends in the center-left, I don’t think there’s a lot of evidence that this spending has increased corruption in politics or notably shifted elections, nor do I think it’s insane for third parties to spend a few hundred million dollars in a federal election cycle. It just seems to me that the spending increase is, as Scott would formulate it, Molochian- you spend to match your opponent’s spending who spends to match your spending forever, and nothing changes at all.

    • Here’s a small one. Would you lend a child a book that his or her parents didn’t want the child to read?

      • Jiro says:

        Giving a book to a child doesn’t interfere with any action by the parent. It of course interferes with the outcome that would take place given the parents’ inaction, but non-utilitarians differentiate between action and inaction.

        • Agronomous says:

          Awesome. Give me your kid’s mailing address.

          Any packages that arrive in the next few weeks from Amazon are totally not Mein Kampf.

          • Fahundo says:

            Reason #n+1 Not to have kids: I feel like if I received Mein Kampf in the mail, addressed to my child, my immediate response would be “Is this the best you could do?”

          • Skef says:

            Now I’m thinking about a bizarre merger between Reason and n+1. All the Sad Young Libertarian Men

          • Jiro says:

            Awesome. Give me your kid’s mailing address.

            Sorry, that’s an action.

        • Deiseach says:

          Giving a book to a child doesn’t interfere with any action by the parent.

          True; the parents can always seize and burn the book, give the kid a spanking for going behind their back and disobeying them, and give you the cold shoulder from then on out 🙂

      • DavidS says:

        I would think twice but I would do it in some circumstances. The parent’s view is I think for me relevant but not final.

        This is partially a facts vs. values thing, though (These terms are a bit misleading as the values can be ‘underlying beliefs about facts’). If someone doesn’t want their kid reading something scary because they’re worried about them getting nightmares, they might have better facts (this kid is v sensitive to horror and has awful night terrors) or different values (don’t want my kid to be scared). Whereas if they don’t want them reading books about evolution this is almost certainly a values difference. And, well, I’m right and they’re wrong.

      • LPSP says:

        Depends on if I respect the parents.

    • abstemious says:

      I believe in general that “where decisions have to be made for children by adults the authority to make them should be with the children’s parents since they are the adults most likely to have their children’s welfare at heart”. But, when presented with strong evidence that the children’s parents are making bad decisions, I’m happy to make an exception.

      For example, if a child’s parents decide to lock the child in a closet for most of its development, I think most of us would agree that the child’s parents should no longer be making decisions for that child.

      Here’s another proposition: where decisions have to be made for children by adults, the authority to make them should be with the children’s parents, because it’s really hard to coerce the parents to change their decision — we’d basically have to take their child away, and that’s probably hurting the child a lot more than the original decision. I think this proposition is more important than your original one.

      As to that specific question: if the child’s parents said something like “you can’t teach my kid evolution or I’ll take them out of school and homeschool them and never let them talk to anyone who isn’t fundamentalist Christian”, I would probably agree to not teach their kid evolution.

    • roystgnr says:

      So far I don’t think anyone has come up with a satisfactory counterexample, a case of someone who is in favor of policy X at the state level but opposed to the federal government imposing it because that violates states rights.

      I assume that by “satisfactory” you mean “someone in a position to really influence those decisions”? I could find lots of people (myself included) who have argued or would argue such principles on the internet, but there’s no good way to disprove (even to ourselves) the claim that such principles are more attractive than power only insofar as the question is hypothetical.

  21. Urstoff says:

    Did the move to WordPress kill the latest comments widget? Because that would be a shame.

  22. BBA says:

    Where Have All the Fun Sitcoms Gone? A trend I’ve noticed from afar – the only current comedy I regularly watch is Silicon Valley, which is a relatively “fun” show. The “prestige” comedies of today seem like they’d be a chore to watch. (Not to turn this subthread into a culture war flamefest, but yes, partly it’s that I’m a cis het white dude and many of these shows would feel like lectures about how bigoted I am – and if I don’t like them it’s just proof of my bigotry. But that’s not the whole story: BoJack Horseman, which I haven’t seen yet, looks apolitical and still very “heavy.”)

    • Sandy says:

      I watched a few episodes of Bojack and hated it. I just wanted the main character to kill himself so he’d stop droning on about how terrible his life is. Rick and Morty is funny and mostly ignores the culture wars. And unlike Bojack, it has a chronically depressed main character who isn’t a chore to watch.

      It’s not a sitcom, but the new Lethal Weapon tv series is a lot of fun and also ignores the culture wars.

    • LHN says:

      I was surprised to find Bojack Horseman compelling, and its main character somehow sympathetic, despite entirely understanding why viewers would be as justly inclined to lose patience with him as the people around him. Part of it may be that the humor works for me (both the general absurdism and the detailed worldbuilding/callback elements). Still, I usually check out of shows with this sort of protagonist pretty quickly; self-sabotage is one thing, but he’s always seems to manage to bring other people down even harder in the process. Instead I find this one riveting, and yet it’s hard to think of anyone I know who I’d recommend it to.

      (My wife would never forgive me if I let her watch it, though I’m occasionally tempted to show her “Fish Out of Water” in isolation.)

    • LHN says:

      Re primarily funny comedy: “Galavant” was a great if short-lived comedy (and a musical with songs by Alan Menken), all of which is on Netflix and other streaming services. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is likewise pretty purely funny (if a bit more cringey) and also a musical. Showtime’s “Episodes” was a light self-satire on Hollywood sitcom writing, with Matt LeBlanc playing himself in a surprisingly game way.

    • Adam says:

      I don’t agree with this article at all – the author mentions one current comedy (New Girl) in the last paragraph, but only dismissively, and admits that they haven’t watched it recently. I can think of (and watch!) several current fun tv comedies that are definitely focused on jokes and not a prestige comedy – Last Man On Earth, Brooklyn 99, The Goldbergs, The Middle, as well as Silicon Valley mentioned above. The author doesn’t seem like they actually like regular tv comedies that much.

      I will agree with them that The Big Bang Theory is garbage though.

      Last Man on Earth is my favorite right, Will Forte is fantastic in it.

    • Incurian says:

      Modern Family is pretty good and goofy.

    • Gazeboist says:

      I haven’t watched a ton of it, but Parks and Rec, which ended a mere year and a half ago, was pretty light and very funny (the “how to make a wedding ring” bit comes to mind, if your sense of humor is similar to mine). As others have stated, Rick and Morty is a thing that exists, though it isn’t to my tastes. Archer, also, tends to fire off broadsides at everyone while still being funny (the show and the character, frankly), though Archer is not a sitcom as I think the author of that article would define the term.

      The author also seems to equivocate sometimes between “prestige” comedies and all comedies, and at other times between “sitcoms” and all comedies. Many shows of all types are terrible, and biases in critical circles mean that anything that isn’t almost exclusively drama will get classed as a comedy, whether or not it is exclusively comedic (or joke based – critics and guide writers tend to stick to old-school definitions of drama and comedy, which usually call anything that isn’t about Great People with Tragic Flaws a comedy). But a sitcom is not the only way to tell jokes, and comedies can have plots and make changes. They can also do it without lecturing and without demanding that you think hard about what’s going on. Consider Blackadder, which puts the same character templates in a wide variety of settings, changing every season.

      I’m not sure what the author really wants – he seems to fault comedies for developing characters and telling stories, or at least for not having a punch line every couple of minutes. I find that frankly bizarre; jokes depend on their setup. A punchline delivered after a long buildup of serious-sounding (but slightly off) development is a lot funnier, at least to me, than a series of punchlines delivered one after another, with little to no space between (Big Bang Theory and schlock like it has a different problem, which is that it can’t tell a punchline from a laugh-track). If he wants comedies to be unwilling to spend a whole episode setting up a joke, frankly I’m glad his tastes are out of favor now. Of course, he praises Community, which frequently did primarily-development segments that led to no punchline at all, so who knows.

    • Urstoff says:

      It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is still on and still hilarious.

    • arbitrary_greay says:

      Shows that are “simply” fun are much easier to produce in shorter formats that focus on one particular gag, instead of needing to hang on a specific runtime and traditional narrative structures. This means that productions with the tone and comedic priority of the sitcoms of old have primarily moved into online formats. The Vines, with space for only the one gag. The Youtubers with that one type of sudden cuts editing. Webseries, with single-sequence/scene episodes.

      However, seconding the love for Galavant and B99. And note how B99’s Andy Samberg (with Jorma guest-starring this season) got their start with internet sketch comedy. The titular host of Adam Ruins Everything is also a sketch troupe alum.
      Look at how much stuff Rooster Teeth puts out every day. (They’re especially a production company that tends to have strong comedic priorities even in their narrative-based shows.) People are hailing Monster Factory as some really incredible comedy, as well.
      Con Man (cringe comedy by Alan Tudyk) is available on Vimeo.

      Finally, there’s plenty of comedy shows in Jdrama, Kdrama and anime. Although, even anime is increasing its shorts shows output, figuring out that some 4koma adaptations really don’t work well with 30-min episodes. Recommendations available if you want.

      And it’s because I get my comedy from other sources, that I tend to prefer narrative media shows to have a bit more heft. Nonetheless, I do prefer more light-hearted shows, where humor is a strong part of the regular episodes. Like Leverage, Doctor Who, Warehouse 13, most Whedon shows, etc.

    • John Schilling says:

      Nosowitz may chose to dismiss The Big Bang Theory as “garbage”, and it isn’t exactly to my taste either, but it’s pretty clearly a sitcom that aims at Fun rather than Prestige, and it has consistently been one of the highest-rated shows on television for the better part of a decade. New Girl and the recently-concluded How I Met Your Mother never quite reached that level of popularity, but were I believe consistently solid in both critical acclaim and ratings, so if that’s the sort of television one wants to watch, it’s out there. And those are just off the top of the head of a guy who doesn’t watch much television.

      If the claim is that there aren’t shows that A: you/I/Nosozitz think are really good and B: are critically acclaimed and C: are top-ten ratings winners, then maybe so but so what? If on top of that we are complaining that critics really seem to like shows that we don’t, then we’re definitely entering world’s-smallest-violin territory.

    • Randy M says:

      I liked the Grinder, fox show about TV lawyer and real-life lawyer brothers, but apparently Fox executives found I was in the minority, so take the recommendation with a grain of salt.

    • LPSP says:

      They’re all trying to do Something Else! XD and not tell gags based on situations. That’s the reason why Seinfeld aged like wine (and Arrested Development for that matter, which I watched for the first time only recently). It’s just what comedy is meant to be, without the frustrating fetters.

      I watched an episode of F is for Family a while back. Just unpleasant. I found Bojack underwhelming, even if Will Arnett is a treasure.

    • Agronomous says:

      I don’t know why nobody’s mentioned The Walking Dead yet—it’s not terribly consistent, but a few of the episodes are downright hilarious.

  23. R Flaum says:

    Interesting article on the scientific — as opposed to religious — opposition to Galileo.

  24. Jill says:

    I found this interesting and startling:

    Six Million Adults Who Won’t Influence This Presidential Race
    One in 40 Americans can’t vote because of a criminal conviction. But the rules aren’t exactly fair
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/six-million-adults-who-wont-influence-this-election-w443693

    “the United States takes the practice of political disenfranchisement to incredible levels. We are one of just four countries in the world (Croatia, Belgium and Armenia are the others) that enforces post-release restrictions on voting. Over three million Americans who’ve already served their time and are out of prison remain ineligible to vote.

    “The rules vary state by state, but the impact overall is breathtaking. One in 40 American adults is ineligible to vote this year. Nationwide, one in 13 African-American adults cannot vote. In Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia, more than 20 percent of African-Americans are ineligible.

    “In this country, whether or not you lose the right to vote for committing a crime mostly depends on who you are, not what you did, especially when it comes to nonviolent economic offenses.

    “If you got caught selling something bad in a plastic bag, you have a good chance of being forced to sit out this election.

    “If the bad thing you sold came with a prospectus(white collar banking crime), you’re probably fine.

    “Just another reason to hate the political process as we head into this most disgusting of all presidential elections. The alien invasion can’t come too soon. “

  25. Sandy says:

    Anyone else think these crime procedurals where civilian consultants investigate murders paint a really unflattering portrayal of the police? I’ve been watching Elementary lately and Holmes and Watson’s roles in each case are so pivotal that it becomes hard to imagine how the NYPD would solve any crimes at all if they weren’t around.

    • The Nybbler says:

      The original Holmes held Scotland Yard in amused contempt, so it fits with the canon.

      _Castle_, on the other hand, had intelligent police as well as the titular civilian consultant.

      • Sandy says:

        I just used Elementary as an example, but I’m also thinking of shows like Bones, Hannibal and The Blacklist where conventional law enforcement just seems to be the muscle sent in to catch the criminal once the brilliant consultants have figured everything else out.

        The Wire had a better portrayal of detectives working their cases.

        • Gazeboist says:

          The Wire was about those detectives, though. I think it’s just a natural case of shows focusing on their main characters, potentially to the detriment of others around them.

      • Deiseach says:

        Well, the whole “why is an amateur solving a case where the police are involved” genre of mystery and crime fiction needs as its raison d’être that the police are incompetent, corrupt or someway lacking in the specific talents or knowledge that the amateur possesses. So naturally the police have to come across as simple-minded plod or bent as a corkscrew in comparison to the hero(ine). It’s not realistic, but if you want realism you’ll go for novels and shows that are police procedurals, not private detectives and amateur sleuths.

        Eh, I tend to have Opinions about Elementary so I’ll leave dicussing that for Tumblr 🙂 (I’m not hugely thrilled with Sherlock, either).

        Original Holmes was very prone to amusing himself at the expense of the official police, but he did come to a rapprochement with them later in his career. Holmes in the early stories was young, making his career out of nothing (he wasn’t a private detective as such at the start but a consultant; not just the police but other enquiry agents would come to him when they were out of their depth on a case). Holmes was only interested in the strange and unusual and mentally challenging cases; he admitted that nine times out of ten, the police were perfectly capable of dealing with the ordinary sorts of crime that they were called in for. And really there wasn’t what we’d call a proper detective force during the period Doyle started the stories; it wasn’t until 1829 that a professional, trained police service (the Metropolitan Police) was founded, the Detective Branch wasn’t founded until 1842, a plains clothes detective branch not until 1878 and the force was dogged with corruption and incompetence scandals (a tradition it has kept up to modern times). Holmes’ insistence on physical evidence was unusual and novel, and rivalries between different detectives were commonplace, as in the first Holmes story:

        “Gregson is the smartest of the Scotland Yarders,” my friend remarked; “he and Lestrade are the pick of a bad lot. They are both quick and energetic, but conventional — shockingly so. They have their knives into one another, too. They are as jealous as a pair of professional beauties. There will be some fun over this case if they are both put upon the scent.”

        But in the end they come to this:

        “Well,” said Lestrade, “I’ve seen you handle a good many cases, Mr. Holmes, but I don’t know that I ever knew a more workmanlike one than that. We’re not jealous of you at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are very proud of you, and if you come down to-morrow there’s not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn’t be glad to shake you by the hand.”

        “Thank you!” said Holmes. “Thank you!” and as he turned away it seemed to me that he was more nearly moved by the softer human emotions than I had ever seen him.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      It has always annoyed me (and this a pet-peave, so please don’t take it personally) when people forget that the demands of narrative drive (almost) all fiction, and really all stories. Even when one is watching a documentary or reading non-fiction we should be aware of this fundamental bias. Evaluate narrative in much the way one might a “face” someone has pointed out in the bark of a tree.

      I remember having a conversation with a co-worker in my 20s after they had just seen the Oliver Stone movie “JFK” who stated “Well, I’m never going to trust the government again!” They had been so taken in by a work of fiction centered around a few real world events that they bought completely into a conspiratorial mindset.

      • hlynkacg says:

        The demands of narrative drive (almost) all fiction, and really all stories.

        I’ve barrowed a page from the late Terry Pratchett and taken to calling this effect “the law of narrative causality”.

        As an aside, I have a special place in movie hell reserved for Oliver Stone’s JFK for all that “back an to the left” nonsense. You don’t get ejecta like that from an entry wound.

    • Urstoff says:

      Those shows don’t remotely resemble normal detective work anyway (particularly accusing everyone in sight of committing the crime and then always getting a confession at the end), so I think that bit of unrealism is pretty minor.

    • DrBeat says:

      I thought Monk did a good job of this by highlighting that not only is Adrian Monk only called in for really, really weird cases, and not only are there situations that arise as part of being an actual police detective that he can’t psychologically handle, but there are parts of case-solving that the police are good at and he’s terrible at. Anything involving people skills, utilizing contacts, establishing rapport, etc, all that stuff he’s hopeless at. Its sister show Psych went a similar route in showing how Shawn Spencer was great at observation and deduction and had no talent nor willpower for any of the other things involved in actually being a police investigator.

      That’s how to do it, I think. Highlight how the civilian consultant is only called in for certain types of cases (even if it’s “hard, weird, interesting cases”), and then show the civilian consultant actually couldn’t solve the cases they are not called in to solve, and now you have a smart cool person who the cops call in on the hardest cases, who still doesn’t make the cops look like idiots. I think Bones tried to do this at the beginning, and the Jeffersonian (was that the place the main characters worked at?) was only suited to certain types of investigation — namely ones where forensic anthropology is the main source of information — but then they just had every investigation coming to the Jeffersonian first, so it looked like they did all the crime-solving for everyone. House, for all its faults, did do a good job of reinforcing that most medical cases are not mysteries with the frequent “clinic” segments, which showed us why we don’t want to have our whole hospital staffed with Drs. House (because most of medical work is like this and he’s miserable at it) while also providing comic relief.

      • Agronomous says:

        Also the police in Monk are so blind that they’ve made Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs a captain.

    • Odoacer says:

      The homicide rate in those TV shows seems crazy high. You’d be well advised to run far away if Monk or Jessica Fletcher were to come around. There presence is pretty much a guarantee that someone will be murdered.

      • Deiseach says:

        The homicide rate in those TV shows seems crazy high.

        The ITV television series, Midsomer Murders, takes a tongue-in-cheek, knowing approach to that. It’s set in the type of location of the typical cosy/cozy murder mystery, with the quaint picturesqueness turned up to eleven and a body count reminiscent of the worst of Verdun or the Somme when taken in total over the run of the show.

        • LPSP says:

          The entire premise of that series is so trippy. It’s like this one quiet village is a vortex of death, that specifically only draws people who are performing like deliberate over-actors in a hammy amateur production. No-one notices the straight-played cliches dripping from the furniture, or that the one hamlet constitutes the national death toll for the entire United Kingdom. It’s like that one Monty Python skit with the lethal tennis party gone wrong, only played deadly straight over and over and OVER.

          I can watch one episode every five years.

      • Fahundo says:

        The homicide rate in those TV shows seems crazy high

        A murder a week sounds really low for a large American city.

        • JayT says:

          Monk took place in San Francisco, which has around a murder a week, so if the show were to be believed, Monk would solve every murder in the city.

          As for Jessica Fletcher, she was in a fictional town in Maine that was apparently modeled after Kennebunkport, which hasn’t had a murder in at least the last 15 years. Which, now that I think of it lines up pretty well with when Murder She Wrote went off the air…maybe Jessica was a serial killer that was getting involved in the murders just to throw the police off her trail!

          • Fahundo says:

            Monk took place in San Francisco

            As for Jessica Fletcher, she was in a fictional town in Maine

            Fair enough. I was thinking of places like NY, Chicago, LA, Baltimore, etc, that have quite bit more than 50 murders in a year.

          • DrBeat says:

            But A: there are less than 52 episodes per year, B: many times the murder is outside San Francisco, and C: the majority of the murders would have been classified as accidental deaths were they not investigated by a quirky genius detective.

          • Jiro says:

            Of course there is the anime series Detective Conan. It *is* on almost every week in the year (though most stories are at least 2 parts), and because of its setup, the entire 20+ year history of the show has to take place over less than a story year.

        • John Schilling says:

          so if the show were to be believed, Monk would solve every murder in the city.

          And just so we’re clear, most real-world murders are essentially self-solving, requiring at most such advanced criminological techniques as following the trail of blood and/or asking all the neighbors what they saw. Even if your city has a quirky genius detective who can solve any case in five minutes flat, nine murders out of ten you’re going to not find that worth the bother of dealing with their quirks.

          • Evan Þ says:

            … as Sherlock Holmes repeatedly complained.

          • Agronomous says:

            My charming city (capital of our fine country) has a murder clearance rate of around 50%, which doesn’t fit with your “nine murders out of ten.”

            Witness intimidation, the desire to exact personal revenge, and gang involvement probably account for at least half of the unsolved cases. The rest may have something to do with cops spending half their time at their desks filling out voluminous paperwork, or even-more-voluminous electronic paperwork.

          • Montfort says:

            My charming city (capital of our fine country) has a murder clearance rate of around 50%, which doesn’t fit with your “nine murders out of ten.”

            Additionally, the official “charm city” (Baltimore) had a clearance rate of 30.5% in 2015. However, there is an argument to be made that many of these unsolved homicides are incidents of gang violence that might reasonably be “solved” but are difficult to prove and prosecute (probably not enough to make it up to 90%, but DC/Baltimore may be outliers).

            ETA: missed your second paragraph, basically agree.

  26. Sandy says:

    Explain the validity of implicit bias to me. Ever since Mike Pence argued against it during the VP debate, media outlets like the NYT and Slate have put out articles defending implicit bias as a scientific concept and urging people to be less defensive about it. But from what I can tell, implicit bias findings have not proven resistant to psychology’s replication crisis.

    • ExpertWitness says:

      Everyone is biased. The people who deny it are implicitly biased.

      The culture war is a battle over reality. Everyone is trying to project the stories that validate them. From the perspective of the winners, the world is meritocratic, so they deserve their relative status over everyone else, and any challenge to the status quo makes things unfair. To the losers, the world is brutally unfair, so much so that it seems that there is a widespread conspiracy to keep them down that manifests as denial of the incredible injustice in the world.

      Winners are whiter, maler, richer, and more educated, than losers, who are relatively darker skinned, female, poor, and less educated.

    • Garrett says:

      I have the same issue, too, though from a slightly different angle.
      There seem to me to be reasonable studies that show that people have slightly different short-term responses to dark-skinned people vs. light-skinned people. This largely involves tests which provide a very limited amount of time to solve. Eg. seeing a picture of a person’s face for tens of milliseconds and then having to determine what emotion they are showing, or seeing how fast/correct you can associate groups of words co-mingled with people of different colors into specific columns.

      The problem is that there isn’t any causative evidence to show that this lasts beyond the first few seconds of an interaction with someone. That this might result in slightly different results on the margin is something I can believe, but not that it would be responsible for large-scale disparities.

  27. onyomi says:

    Can there be a soft ban on debating the ideological makeup of the commentariat? It never accomplishes anything and always turns acrimonious. Or, if not, can there at least be a ban on posts which take the form:

    How many right wing users do we have?? Off the top of my head: (names several users)

    How many left wing users do we have?? I can only think of: (names a few users)

    If it’s at all possible for the topic to be productively discussed, I think it must be in generalities, ideally supported by actual statistics, like “of 500 posts in this OT, 150 were apolitical, 250 were right-leaning by my estimation and only 100 were left-leaning by my estimation.” That would be a lot of work, but it would be based on something other than someone’s vague hunch and might, by keeping individual names out of it, have the potential for sparking some kind of useful conversation.

    Somewhat related, I think calls to ban people like Jill just for repeatedly expressing a viewpoint many of us find unfathomable should probably stop. As I said in the other one: “Great minds discuss ideas, good minds discuss events…”

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      I like the lists actually. It’s not exactly doxxing to use someone’s chosen pseudonym and since people make them every few OTs it acts as a de facto leaderboard. It’s fun to see whether or not I make the cut for Prolific Right Wingers.

      As for the comment section makeup, I agree the argument is tedious but there is a point. We’ve lost a lot of diversity of views from the political extremes and that impoverishes discussion. Though there’s a decent low-effort solution: the SSC reddit has a clique of Stalin-was-right commies, and ratanon has more than a few green frog nazis. Inviting them all back into the main site would make the place a lot livelier.

      • onyomi says:

        I have no problems with taking substantive steps like that–somehow convincing these Reddit Stalinists to come back here, for example, but I still don’t like the lists. I know it’s not doxxing per se, but it still feels yucky to me, as it makes it about individuals rather than trends, and makes things go downhill fast every time it’s done.

        I did like being included on the list of the “anime avatar” cadre once, however.

      • hlynkacg says:

        Inviting them all back into the main site would make the place a lot livelier.

        I’d rather we didn’t. That said maybe, if certain folks are concerned about the balance of the comments section perhaps they should try linking SSC on fora where their chosen side is better represented and encourage commenters to post here.

      • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

        and ratanon has more than a few green frog nazis.

        Most of ratanon already comments here, so I don’t think there’s a lot of unexplored ground there.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          Debateable. I know that a few do because of their writing styles, but some seem like lurkers. The ironic(?) stormfags in particular don’t read like regulars.

          Either way, closeted frogposters and absent frogposters are equally invisible.

      • Lumifer says:

        Livelier is not necessarily better. One of the good things about SSC is that aggressive idiots are rare here.

      • Jaskologist says:

        You’re all just jealous that I made it into the top 5 and you didn’t.

        There can be unforeseen consequences to discussing this more rationally. Last time I ran the statistics, it showed Nornagest ahead by a large margin. I assume this caused him to re-evaluate his life priorities, because he stopped commenting shortly afterward.

        • onyomi says:

          Another reason to leave usernames out of it. Honestly, I’d have absolutely no problem with “how can we get more intelligent left-wing posters around here?” Phrasing it in positive, impersonal terms would be much more productive, if, indeed, there is anything to be gained by discussing the makeup of the commentariat at all, which I’m not totally sure there is.

          New suggested guideline: “because it sometimes results in prolific posters reevaluating their life priorities, meta-discussion of commentariat ideological makeup in personal terms is discouraged.”

          • Gazeboist says:

            “how can we get more intelligent left-wing posters around here?”

            This form seems to imply that what left-wing posters we have are insufficiently intelligent, which gets right back to (what I see as) the original problem. It’d probably be better to avoid the discussion entirely. When someone says something like “How do I get more people like to post here?” I think the appropriate response is just, “Find people like that and point them to threads they want to participate in.”

          • Dahlen says:

            This form seems to imply that what left-wing posters we have are insufficiently intelligent

            Not necessarily. “More intelligent” can be read in one of two ways:

            1) Increased intelligence — We currently have left-wingers around, and they’re kinda dumb, and “we” want to replace them with IQ-upgraded versions (your interpretation)

            2) Increased number, so long as it meets the condition of intelligence — We currently have intelligent left-wingers around, but they’re too few, so let’s encourage more participation from such people (the way I read it)

          • Deiseach says:

            We currently have left-wingers around, and they’re kinda dumb, and “we” want to replace them with IQ-upgraded versions

            That’s definitely not the case (apart from the hit-and-run troll-type commenters), indeed sometimes on my part it’s hair-tearing-out “I know you’re smart, so how can you think that?” in reaction to a comment (and they probably feel the same way towards some of us on the right).

            More left-wing commenters all along the spectrum would help, even a hard-core Maoist or Marxist-Leninist (I haven’t the chops to argue with them, but I’d be interested to read the dialectical argument behind a particular view because Communist, much less Socialist, does not equate with dumb).

            Fr’instance, I don’t know this guy’s politics (he’s Australian) but I admire his fair-mindedness. This blog of his doesn’t appear to have been updated recently, but his review of Agora (about Hypatia) was a refreshing change from the glurge I saw elsewhere about “women! science! evil Christians who hate women and science!”

          • onyomi says:

            @Dahlen,

            Yes, 2. was the intended meaning.

          • “how can we get more intelligent left-wing posters around here?”

            Part of the answer is by not carrying grudges.

            Recently a left wing poster posted something interesting. My first thought was to ignore it because he had been, in my view, indefensibly rude to me–posted assertions that were not true and, when I offered evidence they were not true, neither defended nor apologized. I am by nature vengeful, possibly due to reading too many Icelandic sagas, so my instinct was to ostracize him (perhaps due to also reading too much about Vlach Rom institutions?)

            I concluded that that was a mistake, that since he was obviously intelligent it was more productive to engage with him in a civil conversation when he was willing to have one.

            I think following that as a general policy makes the group more attractive not only to people on the left but to people with other political views.

        • Chalid says:

          Nornagest was probably my favorite commenter at the time. It’s a shame he’s gone.

    • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

      I’m honsetly just offended that I got excluded from the right wing partisan list, is it a volume thing?

      • dndnrsn says:

        Your name is close to Anonymous, so probably a lot of people just file you under “Anon using variant name”.

      • Deiseach says:

        Whatever, (if you will pardon the familiarity of the address), your ambition is commendable. But it takes hard slog to make it onto that list, and you have to put in the time to get there.

        What minorities have you oppressed today? Are you taking proper care of your black leather uniform? Are all your devices tuned to Fox News and Fox News only? Are you keeping up with grinding the faces of the poor, and ensuring you stay properly hydrated with a sufficient volume of tears of widows and orphans?

        • Dahlen says:

          When you make posts like this, I’m often torn between calling for less overblown rhetoric and having to appreciate their literary value or whatever.

          And what’s wrong with a black leather uniform, if I may ask? It’s totally metal.

          • Deiseach says:

            And what’s wrong with a black leather uniform, if I may ask?

            Radm seems to disapprove of black leather uniforms for some reason, you will have to ask them to explain. Apparently they are associated with Nazis, people who post on Stormfront, and the Sad and Rabid Puppies (they make no distinction between Sad or Rabid).

            Naturally, the worst scum of the lot in that taxonomy are the Puppies 🙂

          • cassander says:

            @Deiseach

            >Naturally, the worst scum of the lot in that taxonomy are the Puppies ?

            Reminds me of a not very good joke I like to tell. I’m a big Kipling fan, and one of the very few tattoos I would ever consider getting would be some sort of Kipling symbol. the trouble is the two symbols he was most associated with in life were swastikas and elephants, symbols that have both come to be associated with equally unfashionable political parties.

    • Chalid says:

      Can there be a soft ban on debating the ideological makeup of the commentariat? It never accomplishes anything and always turns acrimonious.

      Seriously? I’d guess “ideological makeup of the commentariat” isn’t even in the top 10 most-discussed topics that never accomplish anything and always turn acrimonious.

      Just hit the “hide” button. Surely you do this on other topics that you’re bored with?

      • onyomi says:

        Personally, I can’t think of ten more frequent, more pointless, more acrimonious topics.

        AGW and HBD might both produce more posts, and possibly more acrimony, but their light-to-heat ratio doesn’t feel as bad as this topic.

        “Why not just hide/ignore these types of posts” isn’t really a response to my complaint. It’s not just that I don’t like seeing it, it’s that I think it has a distracting, bad effect in general–both on the commentariat, and, if Scott starts second-guessing himself on such a basis, possibly on the posts and links chosen themselves.

        • Chalid says:

          In this very OT we have yet another Puppies conversation, surely that qualifies?

          It seems like much of your objection to this is that comments that take the form “generalization about group from unquantified personal experience” is unlikely to be useful. But really, it’s not really any worse when the group is “SSC commenters” as opposed to “feminists” or “Red/Blue Tribe” or whatever. And that sort of thing is a very large fraction of the commentary here.

          • onyomi says:

            Well, the “puppies” threads are the one type of thread I skip over even faster than the AGW threads, because I have absolutely no “dog” in this fight, or understanding of it, but that, again, is a discussion of something factional outside of SSC.

          • Chalid says:

            You can’t think of any way this might be useful outside of SSC? Maybe someone might get a better understanding of how internet communities evolve? Or maybe someone might read about a behavior that annoys people, recognize that they are doing it, and stop doing it in the future? (This has happened – I remember more than one occasion on which a poster said they would modify their posting style.)

          • onyomi says:

            Yes, I think the topic of how online communities evolve is definitely an interesting one, and SSC can, in some sense, be a case study or test case for people trying to shape its evolution to the extent that’s even possible. But I would again imagine that useful or interesting generalizable conclusions are more likely to arise from quantifiable statements about general trends than vague statements about the habits of individual posters.

      • Anonymous says:

        Seriously if we are going to ban any topics they should:
        1) the so-called culture war (including what those “SJW” are up to this time)
        2) climate change
        3) anything to do with WWII or nazis
        3b) any kind of alternate history speculation

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          3) anything to do with WWII

          This one seems really out of place, why would WWII discussion even be an issue?

          • Gazeboist says:

            There were a couple of WWII discussions in some recent open threads, in response to yelling about culture war topics. I’m not sure what this anon’s problem with them was, though. And I don’t think most anyone brings up climate change except the old Perfect Loving Fireplace.

        • onyomi says:

          The thing about discussions of AGW, culture war etc. is that while they may get heated and, in some cases, go nowhere, at least they are discussions of things happening in the world which also happen to be nearly impossible to have an intelligent discussion on anywhere. If SSC can provide a space to have a 10% coherent, reasonable, intelligent discussion on real-world issues where you usually get a 0% intelligent, good-faith discussion of real-world issues, then SSC is providing something useful.

          I, personally, have almost no interest in the lengthy AGW debates and so generally skip over them. But I also recognize it as a real-world issue some people might be having a productive discussion about, and so do not complain about it. The annoyance at seeing another AGW mega-thread is purely my own, and so my own to manage by hiding/ignoring.

          Metadiscussions about the SSC commentariat, by contrast, are of absolutely no interest outside the bounds of SSC itself and so have something of a higher “rent” to pay in terms of expected usefulness, imo, especially since they have the potential to negatively impact commenting practice (I realize I just started such a discussion, but my point was that a certain type of discussion of the ideological makeup in terms of specific users has proven, repeatedly, to accomplish nothing).

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          Has AltHistory been particularly bad? Maybe I just scroll past the bad threads, but it seems more like harmless fun than flamebait.

          Definitely sick of climate discussions. Though luckily they aggregate well enough to be easily hidden.

        • Psmith says:

          Agree with WHTA and Dealgood that one of these things is not like the others, and even the climate change threads aren’t too bad.

        • Anonymous says:

          #3 wasn’t a serious suggestion, heck the other two weren’t either, really. Post what you want to post.

          #2 and #3 are just really boring to me and since we don’t have permanent collapse I see them over and over when going through the new comments list.

    • blacktrance says:

      I think it’d be best to have a formal poll using something like the Political Compass, so it’d be easier to refute people who just make blind assertions.

      • onyomi says:

        Endorsed. But without names. I have never taken the annual poll. It doesn’t include something like this?

      • Deiseach says:

        a formal poll using something like the Political Compass

        If that is this test, then I come out “Libertarian Left” on it (you know, the same quadrant Gandhi and Nicola Sturgeon fall – feck it, Nicola Sturgeon? I was in vehement disagreement with my sorting right up until that!)

        Except I was graced with being one of the names on the Right Wing Roll Of (Dis)Honour, so either I’m a lying liar who lied on that test (I didn’t, I answered as honestly as I could) or these kinds of tests don’t match up very well? Or being centre-right Irish conservative is not the same as being right American conservative?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Deiseach:
          You are a self-labeled misanthrope. You are also a traditionalist Catholic (aplologies if I am mis-using traditionalist here. I hope you know what I think I mean by it.) You clearly lean towards “people should be self-reliant because no one can be counted upon”.

          Let me put it this way, it’s not surprising that the feelings that you put down here lead to people mistaking you for overall right-of-center.

          • Deiseach says:

            HeelBearCub, I think I am right-of-centre (but not “black leather uniform right”), so I don’t mind as being seen as on the right – I am a conservative and very traditional, after all.

            I do object to the notion that there are no shades of rightwardness and we’re all one big alt-right pile when we comment here, though, while the left gets to be nuanced (or even worse, the moderates who are on the right side of history and reality agrees with them).

            I think there are people who are a bit left of centre all the way up to as left as you can go (though I agree most of those have departed for other shores; I tend to put that down less to being driven off by dogpiling as that they didn’t want to stand their ground and argue their points, being instead more accustomed to stating X is X and not needing to back it up because the people they usually interacted with all agreed that indeed, X is X) who visit and hang out here.

            I’d like an acknowledgement that the right-leaning commenters who visit and hang out here similarly encompass “a bit right of centre to as far right as you can go” (but not the complete Fascists, I don’t think we have any here, and I’m using Fascist in its political meaning and not the ‘big old meanie’ meaning it has taken on as an all-purpose term of disapproval).

            I think, ironically, because the right side is used to having to argue and stick up for themselves, we’re probably able to tough it out better and that’s why this site is leaning more rightwards. I’d like more left point of view people here, and I don’t want Jill banned even if sometimes her conviction that America is a huge sea of Right Wing Conservatism and only a few brave liberals here and there stand up for Niceness and Sanity drives me scatty, but I do think the more left-inclined have departed because they perceived this site as being “on our side because he’s not one of those religious nutjobs who is anti-sex and anti-drugs and pro-big business and money over human rights” and couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with the right-inclined hanging round and speaking out honestly about our opinions (as distinct from the ‘smile, nod, say nothing’ style of engagement for the sake of peace online and in real life).

            I don’t want an echo chamber. I like it here because Scott is nearly always interesting, I get a range of opinions I don’t get elsewhere, and where I don’t know something about a topic it’s informative to see the people that do discussing it and arguing over it.

            I suppose this is why people are told “don’t talk about religion and politics”?

          • radmonger says:

            > not the complete Fascists, I don’t think we have any here

            Pretty sure you are wrong on that. The conventional political science definition of a neo-fascist is someone advocating keeping the economic system mostly the same, but nevertheless overthrowing democracy for reasons unconnected to economics (typically race and/or war). Hugo Boss uniforms, racial hierarchies, non-medical use of the word ‘cancer’ are all optional, but are a Bayesian signal.

            I don’t know much about the Irish far right; maybe it’s because you come from there you start from a different set of priors and so might miss certain signs? For example, would you typically assume someone was joking if they argued a race war is necessary to preserve a future for white children?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:
            There a certain members (mostly fairly short-lived) of the community who aren’t differentiating the mass, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that I can’t tell the difference between (say) onyomi, FacelessCraven and you. Nor is it fair to suggest that I have proposed lumping you together as if you are undifferentiated. Nor is it correct to lump you all together outside of “right-of-center”, whoever has done so. And frankly I’m not sure I actually agree that you are right of center, depending on the day and the topic.

            All I have argued, on a fairly consistent basis, is that if one is not willing to publically recognize what positions are not being well represented here, one is failing to conform beliefs to reality. It has stopped being in vogue, but it used to be quite popular for some here to point to a survey result of readers and make the contention that the space was actually over-representing left wing opinions. Which was demonstrably wrong.

            I think, ironically, because the right side is used to having to argue and stick up for themselves, we’re probably able to tough it out better and that’s why this site is leaning more rightwards.

            This kind of statement drives me absolutely nuts. I really, really, really try hard not to assert the moral superiority of my side and demean the moral character of the opposition, especially as a broad group. Super especially about community members.

            I have tried to point this kind of shit out numerous times, and it falls on deaf ears. These are the kinds of statements that, when made by Jill about the right, get absolutely savaged by multiple commenters.

          • Deiseach says:

            HeelBearCub, I wasn’t meaning you in particular. But there does seem to be a strain of “SSC is so right-wing now” and I’m not sure where that is coming from. Some people seem to pop up out of nowhere, make a few comments about how the site is all alt-right, and then vanish again.

            I wasn’t trying to say “the right is superior in character or morals”, just that in general interacting with people on the Internet tends to mean interacting with people who have liberal/progressive views, think these are the default for all sensible persons, and if you’re going to stick your head above the parapet with right-wing or conservative views, you need to be thick-skinned and learn to stand your ground in an argument. I have perfectly cordial relationships with some people on various sites on matters of common interest – as long as I take care to avoid any touchy subjects (e.g. if someone posts an impassioned plea on behalf of how important it is to stand with Planned Parenthood, I have to judge do I keep my mouth shut because the general topics I come here to talk about are not related to PP or whatever, or do I blow all semblance of any kind of relationship out of the water by revealing my horrible anti-woman anti-choice beliefs and get myself kicked out? It’s different on here because there is no automatic “if you think that, we can’t be friends, and I want you to unfollow me/leave this site”).

            Longer term commenters would know the difference in opinions on here, but there do seem to be (unless I’m only misinterpreting) a lot of short-time commenters turning up, and mostly complaining how right-wing the site is, and not really doing much to contribute past that.

            I’m not going to invoke any conspiracy theories, and maybe it’s just the nature of things on the Internet, but I think there’s a danger of bitterness creeping in about perceived slights by everyone (and again, I’m not pointing the finger at any particular person or trying to coyly hint that I really mean So-and-So). Perhaps it’s simply the result of the politics posts and how really tense and fraught the current American election is this time round.

            I think we’ll all be glad when it’s over.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Nish’allah.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “All I have argued, on a fairly consistent basis, is that if one is not willing to publically recognize what positions are not being well represented here, one is failing to conform beliefs to reality. It has stopped being in vogue, but it used to be quite popular for some here to point to a survey result of readers and make the contention that the space was actually over-representing left wing opinions. Which was demonstrably wrong.”

            This. Endorsed. Upvoted. +1.

            There was a point when I was willing to get behind the argument you refer to, and that point is in the rear-view mirror.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            I’ve said several times recently that I have subjectively noticed more left-of-center comments.

            I’m not yet convinced it’s a new normal. What matters is whether people stick around, most especially those who post “high quality” stuff. But, only time will tell on that.

        • Aren’t you a Distributist? I suppose that could be seen as libertarian left.

          I generally label GKC as a libertarian. A somewhat nutty libertarian–but a lot of us are.

          • Deiseach says:

            I wouldn’t quite be a Distributist; I can sympathise with the views but I see that there are problems trying to ‘scale down’ in a world that, for better or worse, has ‘scaled up’ and is interconnected economically. “Three acres and a cow” won’t do you much good anymore.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Speaking of which, are there any Distributists here? Given how much I respect Chesterton, I need to actually look into it someday.

          • Tekhno says:

            With sufficiently advanced technology, scaling down may be possible again.

      • Tekhno says:

        A formal poll is fine so long as you don’t use the Political Compass. Scott or someone could make something far better.

        The political compass is appalling and contains questions that heavily bias it towards the left-libertarian quadrant. I wish it would stop being so popular and someone would come up with a better one, because it really is bad.

        It uses questions taken directly from Theodor Adorno’s “F Scale”, so any questions that lean right are made to sound bad. I especially found it amusing to see during “Ants” that various Ants on Youtube used the Compass as a rebuff to the argument that they were right wing. They were using a measure that partially incorporates questions from a scale made by a guy who was part of the Frankfurt School – aka a Cultural Marxist!

        Check out an internet version of the F Scale here.
        Then compare some of the questions on the Political Compass.

        • LPSP says:

          I see much less respect for that political compass these days compared to 8 years ago. I reckon the problem is presenting resolving itself with talks about demographic attitudes and such. A solution shouldn’t be forced.

          That one test where you pair faces with words to see if you’re subconsciously racist, now that needs reworking.

        • Deiseach says:

          F Scale result:

          Your F Score is: 3.27
          You are disciplined but tolerant; a true American.

          3 to 4.5 Within normal limits; an appropriate score for an American. (The overall average score for groups tested in the original study is listed in the 1950 publication as 3.84, with men averaging somewhat higher and women somewhat lower.)

          I told you I was a centrist, so I did! I am perfectly Average and not at all Far Right or Far Left, you should all listen to me and my opinions in future as the True American I am 🙂

    • Dahlen says:

      I understand why you dislike this sort of threads, and I can see for myself how they usually turn out and why that’s not a productive undertaking, but let me put forward the following objections:

      – Seeing the words “ban”, “debating”, “ideological” in the same sentence made my corrupt-one-party-totalitarianism detectors emit a low buzz. Terrible optics here. “No, we’re not majority right-wing, why are you asking this question, do you want to get the boot?” It would come off as though the website wants to sweep the question of ideological makeup of the commentariat under the rug, like it’s afraid that the answer is not what it wants to present itself as (the best, least biased, most polite, most diverse discussion forum out there) and that it doesn’t reflect well on it. Do you like what Haidt is doing with the Heterodox Academy project? Do you think it’s okay when USian academia denies its leftist goodthink ubiquity problem? Then you should understand why this doesn’t smell good to me. The fact that ideological finger-pointing is usually a call for a flame war is both true, and the perfect excuse to enact a rather dubious policy.

      – SSCers are, for the most part, obsessed with ideology to a degree hardly ever encountered elsewhere; not just with their own ideology, like most political groups, but with the whole theory of ideology. This is our catnip. And most of the reason why folks come here is that the Scott-produced content and the community discussions actively encourage as well as feed upon this obsession. Which would mean that this sort of meta isn’t really out of place here, and it would be weird to ban it.

      – A friendlier way to allow people to satisfy such curiosities is to have user profiles that include political self-identification (yes, I understand that it doesn’t work well for oddballs who don’t neatly fit into boxes, I would know, I am one), and have a Statistics widget somewhere that tells people that X% of the posts in this thread were made by people who self-identify as Libertarian or whatever. (TBH, I was rather glad when the Register/Login glitch (I think it was a glitch?) appeared yesterday, it would have been a good idea.)

      • onyomi says:

        I agree. As I say here, I definitely am not suggesting a hard or soft rule which makes discussion of our own ideological tendencies taboo. I think what I’d really like to see is, if and when this comes up in the future, that it be backed up by something quantifiable, along with, ideally, suggested ways to improve, and not involving call-outs of specific users.

        Example:

        “In a recent survey, 65% of regular SSC posters identified as ‘right-leaning,’ while only 35% identified as ‘left-leaning.’ How can we attract more smart, left-leaning posters?”=good

        “Of 100 posts in the recent OT about the election, 71 were broadly pro-Trump, while only 29 were broadly anti-Trump. Why is that?”=good

        “This place is such a right-wing echo chamber and it’s the fault of people like a, b, c, and d.”=bad

        “Scott, you know that posting stuff like this is just going to attract more of the bad people?”=bad

        Maybe it sounds self-serving because I am broadly right-wing and have been called out for it more than once. But to the extent people who are not happy with the ideological makeup of the SSC commentariat actually want to change it, I think the first two sorts of example are not only nicer, but also more likely to succeed.

        • Randy M says:

          I tried to tally comments on an open thread not too long ago and gave up because the ratio of easily categorized political posts to apolitical posts was not as big as I remembered.

          I also don’t see what the problem is, nor what a solution would be. I suppose Scott could reserve the first x top level comment threads for particular posters he finds valuable from a range of diverse viewpoints so a more balanced set of reactions emerges? Seems pointlessly complicated, but any more obtrusive solutions, up to and including having Scott edit himself for neutrality or wide appeal I find quite undesirable.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I think what I’d really like to see is, if and when this comes up in the future, that it be backed up by _something quantifiable_, along with, ideally, suggested ways to improve, and _not involving call-outs of specific users_.

          You understand that those two things are essentially at odds with each other, right?